Today I watched the bees in a large shrub in the next door garden, which I’ve now found out is a Cotoneaster. Every summer it teems with bees and we’re always fascinated by the activities.
Today I felt very down in the dumps. I had a busy workday so fast-forward to the evening and I just sat in the warm sunshine and watched the bees busying about. It completely lifted my mood and made me feel happier. The power of nature!
Although I think it is aimed at children really, I’ve signed up for the Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild project. You can read more about it here but basically it aims to get you doing something nature related everyday in June. From a simple walk on the grass in bare feet to seeking out and identifying things in the natural world. I’m really busy working from home, struggling to switch off and so I thought this would make me take a little time out each day. I am a member of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.
So today I went for a walk along the Beverley and Barmston drain before work. This is a fairly normal walk for me but today I made an extra effort to look at the plants and listen to the birdsong. On the way back home I spotted some beautiful aquilegia in a garden, such a pretty flower, I couldn’t resist including them in my photos.
I’ve had a trapped nerve in my shoulder for the past three weeks causing great discomfort and grumpiness. Worst of all, I have been unable to knit or crochet as it’s been too uncomfortable, as well as needing to rest. I’m four sessions into osteopathy treatment though and feeling the improvement slowly but surely. I have so many craft projects on the go at the moment and plans for many more so it is really frustrating for me not to be able to get on. I also find it difficult to sit still for long with nothing in my hands. I am a real fidget, always been a nail-biter, hair-twiddler etc., so if I don’t have my crafts to keep my hands busy, I start to feel agitated.
That is what prompted the blog posting last weekend, I couldn’t get on with my crochet projects so decided to update the blog, which was seriously overdue. I do love blogging but I love doing lots of things and there simply isn’t enough time to do everything and the blog is usually the one that has to give. However, I am going to make an effort to update a bit more often….again!! Yes, I know, you’ve heard it all before.
Yesterday, I managed to do a bit of crochet but suffered for it later with a bit of pain in my forearm and fingers. I have tonnes of stashed yarns and some of it has been in there for many years just waiting for some project to call out to it. One such yarn is Stylecraft Ethical Twist which is long since discontinued. A lovely mix of wool and alpaca that I bought quite a bit of when it was on sale at Kemps, once upon a time the source of most of my yarn as they had such a great clearance section. I have started many a project with this yarn only to abandon it as ‘it doesn’t look right’, ‘doesn’t suit it’ or even ‘it’s too nice a yarn to knit something like this with’. Well, I finally made up my mind that as nice as it is, it will look even nicer made into something rather than stuck in a plastic bin under the bed!
Enter the cosy wrap. I found this pattern on Ravelry for a sampler blanket, that being a striped blanket made up of sections of different crochet stitch patterns. It is essentially a stash busting multi-coloured blanket but a few crocheters have made single colour versions which is what caught my eye. I thought it would make a lovely wrap/shawl/blanket whatever for chilly evenings or to enable me to sit out in the garden on summer evenings when the warmth of the sun has disappeared. It’s coming along nicely and is what I was working
I also have big plans for a couple of multi-coloured striped blankets or perhaps granny squares. One based on the colours of the spices Patrick used for a curry a few weeks ago and one based on the beautiful colours of Havana, Cuba – a place firmly on my bucket list.
More on those ideas if/when I am able to make a start but a taster of the potential colour palettes in these pictures, I’d include something paler in the spice palette as well though.
In the garden this week, the weather has been so hot and dry that the birds have been making great use of the water. Junior blackbird had a bath that lasted about 3 minutes one evening. I videod him for 90 seconds and he had already been splashing about before I started and continued after I’d finished. We also had Bob, the robin and Dennis, the dunnock politely taking turns to have a drink from the cascade. On another occasion Tufty the daddy blackbird also enjoyed a good splash about and then a drink. Drinking your bathwater eh? Bleurgh!!
The flowers in our baskets are looking nice now and it won’t be long before they are all trailing prettily over the edges.
Like most of us, I’m concerned about the environment and the way humankind has devasted our planet with our wasteful and lazy ways. On a more personal level too, we are not doing ourselves any favours with our easy, throwaway lifestyle choices. I’m more than a bit worried about the negative impact plastic has on our bodies for instance. We ingest tiny particles of the stuff everyday through the food chain as well as bits that may break loose from our containers and packaging. It has also been suggested that toxins in plastic containers could leech into the food in those containers. See five reasons to avoid plastic containers. Even most teabags are made with plastic and I recently read about a scientific study that was conducted and it showed that tea made with plastic teabags had particles of plastic in it. Yes, you are drinking plastic!
I’ve long been very mindful of what I use in the way of cosmetics, toiletries and some household cleaning products. I always buy cruelty free products and try to avoid those containing parabens and SLS. Some shower gels and shampoos have these and other harmful chemicals in them, all of which we are rubbing over our skin and then washing into our water system. I’ve toyed with various ideas to reduce plastic use, reduce general waste and be a bit more eco-aware over the years and am on a bit of a kick with it again.
My first idea came from seeing some beautiful crochet projects on Ravelry, specifically the Spa bathroom set from Hooked on Patterns. Until a couple of weeks ago, my shower cubicle contained; a nylon shower scrubby and shower gel, shampoo and conditioner all in plastic bottles and I used disposable cotton wool pads to clean off my make up. I made up my mind that I would ditch the plastic from that area at least.
So, I spent a fair few hours crocheting the shower puff in white cotton yarn, King Cole Cottonsoft if you are interested, only to find that it didn’t work with shower gel, I didn’t have a bar of soap to try and having thought about it, that might have been ok. However, it weighed a bloody ton when wet so once it had dried out, I pulled it out to re-use the yarn. That felt like a disappointing fail to be honest.
Next up was the face scrubbies, I used a different pattern, Resuable make-up scrubbies from Stitched Up Craft for these and also experimented with my own patterns. These are ok to use, I use micellar water for cleaning off my make up and you need to be careful that it doesn’t just run off the pad! I think they would be better with a cream/lotion type cleanser really. They are not quite as soft as normal disposable cotton wool pads but you pop them into a mesh bag and in the washing machine rather than in the bin heading for landfill so that’s got to be worth the minor inconveniences surely.
My favourite things from the spa set are the facecloth, which is crocheted in a nice textural stitch and is deliciously soft on my face and the soap scrub, which is a little mesh bag for a bar of soap, I got some handmade soap from Hatton Handmade Soap via a lovely eco webshop called Peace with the Wild. So, the soap scrub or soap sack as they are often called works a bit like the old soap on a rope for those old enough to remember that! The bag has a hanging loop on it and you leave the soap in the bag and lather up and either use your soapy hands to wash yourself or rub the soapy bag over your body. If you love the ease of one of those nylon shower scrubbies with a dollop of shower gel, then you won’t like the extra effort needed to use the soap sack but I think it is worth it both for my well-being and that of the environment.
Also from Peace With the Wild, I bought a solid shampoo bar and a conditioner one too, pictured here. Now these I’m still not sure about. I have read about the transition period where your hair feels waxy and greasy and is difficult to style. This is because for years, your hair has been producing it’s own natural oils to combat the chemicals in the shampoos and conditioners we’ve been using. It takes anything from a few washes to a few months apparently for your hair to get used to the new chemical-free shampoo bar and to stop producing so much oil. The first couple of washes, my hair felt truly dreadful and if we hadn’t been in lockdown so no one sees me anyway, I don’t think I’d have stuck it out. However, three weeks in now and there is a noticeable improvement from how it felt at first. I’ll continue until I’ve used up the whole bar but if I’m stuggling to dry and style my hair, this might just be an eco idea that gets shelved. I hope my hair adapts to it though because like with the soap sack instead of shower gel, I like the knowledge that I’m not washing tons of chemicals into the water system. All of the soap, shampoo and conditioner bars are made from natural ingredients, cruelty free, vegan and come wrapped in paper which is of course recyclable.
Next up, in light of my recent discover about the plastic in teabags we’re in the process of ditching teabags in favour of loose-leaf teas and herbal infusions. I ordered lots of taster packs from The Tea People as well as a metal caddy with my favourite tea, liquorice root and some English breakfast tea for Patrick to try. We use a ball shaped tea infuser for single cups rather than a teapot so it’s a little like a teabag I suppose. Patrick enjoys the Sleep tea which is a blend of some of the common sleep inducing plants such as hops & valerian along with passion flowers and rose petals. I really like the Relax tea which I’ve been drinking as my bedtime drink. It’s made from a blend of tulsi, fennel, camomile, aniseed, linden and sunflower petals and is a lovely, sweet and soothing taste. I’ll definitely be ordering from them again, the tin caddy with my liquorice tea in is really pretty so I’ll probably get our favourite teas in caddies next time.
That’s about it from tree-huggers central for now. Doing our best to make a difference!
I have been working from home since 24th March. As I write this post, that is 8 weeks and 4 days. I honestly thought we would be back at work within a month when the lockdown was first enforced. Mostly, I’m enjoying working at home but as my colleague Debbie is furloughed, it is a bit of a struggle to keep up with the workload. The worst part really is that we obviously can’t go out, away for a weekend or anything that we would normally do to switch off from work so I feel like it is very ‘work/eat/sleep/repeat’. The best part though, is being able to sit in the garden for my lunch when the weather is nice. Listening to and watching the birds is my meditation for the day.
As we are not going to be going on holiday this year, we have invested a bit of time, effort and money into our garden, it is a very small space but we have done our best to make it a wildlife haven. We get such pleasure out of watching the birds at the feeders and sitting out when it is warm enough that we decided to extend our little pond with a cascade feature, see video below. Since then we’ve got a couple of pond plants in there too.
We also bought a small hawthorn tree for blossom and berries for the birds and a dwarf cherry for a large pot outside the back door. Already, the birds have claimed the water cascade and not a day goes by that someone isn’t bathing or drinking from it. We’ve been privileged to witness our resident daddy blackbird feeding his two offspring and pairs of robins and bluetits with the males feeding their mates which is what they do just before egg laying apparently. We’ve had a pair of goldfinches on the feeder that we bought specifically to attract them and of course, many chattering sparrows and squabbling starlings. We have named our blackbird Tufty because of a tuft of feathers sticking up on the back of his head and I can’t resist calling his two demanding juniors Ronnie and Reggie! We were sure that our robins (called Bob and Bobette) also would be nesting nearby but we haven’t seen them for a while and no sign of any youngsters so I fear the worst. We had a juvenile robin visiting us last year, very cute and were hoping our Bob and Bobette were going to be parents raising a brood for us to watch this year. See below video of Tufty feeding one of the twins, notice the other one coming from under the bush at the back to make sure he/she isn’t missing anything!
I’ll leave you with a slideshow of photos all taken in our garden this year, mostly during lockdown.