My favourite Canadian aunt and uncle were staying with us over the Easter weekend which was brilliant - it's not that long since we saw them last summer, so to get to spend more time with them was a real treat. Unfortunately for them, the weather wasn't great and it was only as they were leaving that the sun came out. We've seen some spectacular sunsets ...
and there have been ample opportunities to sit in a cosy chair in the sunshine to meditate or just take a minute or two out, simply because this week we can.
My seedlings are growing into sturdy young plants now and they have appreciated being out in the fresh air.
Poor big daughter has yet more revising to do. She has exams in May and needs to get started now to be sure that she gets enough work done in time. Still, there are worse places to revise than in a chair in a warm garden!
Small daughter has been on a mission to reclaim the Wendy Shed at the bottom of the garden from the spiders which have taken up residence over the winter. The shed hasn't seen a great deal of use over the last year or so and needs a bit of interior decoration, but at least now it's cobweb-free and we even managed to get the vacuum cleaner down there (thanks to some nifty manoeuvring with extension cables) so the rugs on the floor are fit to sit on again.
She's officially moved herself in now, and the interior decorating can wait. As long as a girl has plenty of cushions, a blanket to wrap herself up in, a selection of books, a few snacks and the occasional mug of hot chocolate, there's no rush to get out the paint can.
I've made the most of the opportunity to do a bit more in the garden. It would have been difficult this week to dedicate a whole day to gardening as I've been on Snack Duty and acting as Directory Enquiries for a whole host of questions which generally involved me having to stop what I was doing - and if I was in the middle of something in the garden this would have started to make me cross, which isn't how you should spend your holidays. Instead, I've done a bit here and there. Like pruning the Hydrangea bushes. People either like to prune them in the autumn or in the spring and I'm not convinced it makes a great deal of difference either way as long as you don't cut back too far before the winter, but I ran out of time last autumn so mine have been cut now. Last year's flower heads are now just papery skeletons, but there's a lot of new growth on the plants so I'm hoping they're going to do well this year, especially as they'll have more light now that I've cut back the apple trees.
The Magnolia is in full flower now. It's a Magnolia stellata or Star Magnolia which doesn't grow quite as big as the more familiar Magnolia soulangeana. I love the flowers, they remind me of water lillies.
I also managed to cut the grass for the first time this year. It's a bit like ironing - you don't always want to do it but once you get started there's something very therapeutic about it. I like stripes on my lawn so it's a case of walking up and down, up and down, until the grass is cut. Sadly, at the moment, the lawn looks more like a field than anything else; there are huge patches of moss, bare patches where the dog has done handbrake turns chasing a ball and more than a few dead patches where he's cocked his leg too often. It's in a bit of a sorry state. I've got a plan, though, and hopefully later in the year it will look less like a field and more like a lawn again.
Whilst I was cutting the grass, I noticed these new green shoots in the middle of my Helleborus argutifolius (Corsican hellebore). It's a big plant and the winter winds have flattened it beyond repair so it's good to see that it's growing again.
And just in case I forgot what this week was all about, I spotted this butterfly sunning itself. Time to sit down and take a moment.
I didn't know what sort of butterfly it was until I found this identification website and now I know that it's a Comma. It's very pretty, I do like it's scalloped wings. We usually get Peacock butterflies in our garden so it's nice to see another variety. There's plenty of information for gardeners about attracting butterflies on this website, so I'm going to make sure that I make time to read it.
On the subject of time, do you remember a month or so ago I mentioned writing a knitting book to help raise funds for big daughter's trip to Peru and a sockalong to go with it? Well, it's time for us to get started! The plan is for us to knit a pair of socks together which will be the sockalong, and then I'll use those posts as the basis for my little book. The sockalong will always be available for free on my blog, but I'm going to publish the book through Amazon so that anybody who wants a hard copy will be able to buy it and any profits will go to big daughter's Peru fund. Not everyone reads blogs and sometimes it's more convenient to look at a book than a computer, so I'm hoping that by making the sockalong available both on and offline, lots of people who've never knitted socks before but have always wanted to try will be able to have a go.
The sockalong is going to be based on my basic 4ply sock pattern, and I'm going to take even more photos than I have for that post so hopefully it will be easy to create a pair of socks even if you've never knitted much before. As long as you can knit and purl, I'll show you the rest. The pattern is already on the blog so you can have a look at that whenever you're ready and see if you want to join in.
I'm going to be starting the sockalong on Sunday 3 May, the day after the Love Your Yarn Shop day on Saturday 2 May. That gives us a few weeks to talk about yarns, needles and one or two other preparations and gives you time to stock up on any supplies that you might need. There's also the opportunity to come along to Black Sheep Wools on Love Your Yarn Shop day to pick up any last minute items and to ask any questions which I'll do my best to answer whilst I'm there.
Look out for the first post tomorrow - I'm going to start with yarns as they're always more fun to look at and squish than needles! Ooh, it's so exciting - I'll see you then!