Thursday, 30 June 2011

The New (Cat) Neighbour

When the new neighbours moved in, next door on the ground floor like us, with their kitchen door opening onto the garden, my husband rang me with some fear in his voice; "they have a cat". Well, Ginger is a smart boy. He wasn't going to mess around with a neighbour, was he? But little scrapper that he is, maybe we had a situation on our hands.

He hasn't scrapped. It's been a few weeks now, and Mitzi seems to have settled in.

That is one furry puss. Again my husband, worrying that we might alienate Ginger (and knowing my propensity for making friends with pretty much any and every cat) suggested that I don't get too close to her.

Close to her? With that hair? Remember, I am still technically allergic to cats. I know, hahahahaha, that isn't going on with Ginger, or Big Bro for that matter. Orange Tabbies seem to rule ok. But such a furry thing, hmmm. My eyes kinda tear up just looking at her.

Well, she hasn't let me get to close to her, but there don't seem to have been any fights.

Last weekend when Ginger made himself comfy in the shed

Mitzi seemed rather jealous. She was perched at the bottom of the path, and when Mr. G was sitting nearby, I heard that guttural cat noise. A kind of, cat "f*** you". Ginger wasn't bothered. I watched curiously, ready to intervene, but nothing transpired. She even had a nose around the shed herself, at one point.

It's all a bit of a damp squib, and cats will rub along together. As will neighbours. Besides, Ginger seems to have pushed out every other cat that ever came wandering by our garden, whether they ever made friends with me or not:

Whitey, Blackie, where are they now? Surely still around, just not in our garden.

Just as well. I didn't mean to become "Cat Woman of Hither Green". No, I still meet them on the street, on the way home from the train (other cats, not the ones who used to inhabit this wild space) and they still lie down in front of me and say "pet me". Sometimes I think, "umm...give me a break?" Is "I Love Cats" tattooed on my forehead, for every cat to read? I do love cats, but I love dogs, too.

Mind you, dogs look at me in the same way. Not in a "take me home, feed me" kind of way, but a kind of "hey, you're a dog lover, cool man" way.

Or am I just anthropomorphising too much?

Apparently Shakespeare said, "people impute great cleverness to cats".

Well, so do I.

I am now rethinking the cat-flap situation though. If we're going to stay here another year, I feel it's only fair on Ginger. I mean after all, we are his people.

And Mitzi has one, so he might feel a little jealous ...

Monday, 27 June 2011


Oh my. Sweet days of summer indeed.

It's taken a while for this gorgeous jasmine to come on stream, but oh my goodness, when you walk out the door the smell hits you in the face.

The rose, the most fragrant I've ever encountered, is coming into it's second flush.

Sitting in my garden, of an evening, as I did tonight, is really quite blissful.

After a hot day in the sun, the garden was stretching, sighing, singing. A time to breathe deeply.


Sunday, 26 June 2011

Some things take precedence

Unfortunately, I have nothing to report this weekend. I had a rather scary and desperate text from a dear, dear friend and I have been concentrating all my efforts to send her comfort and help in this difficult time.

I hope to report back soon, with progress in the garden. I did go to Phoebe's Garden Centre early in the day and found some lovely new plants, along with some marigolds to add to the tomato patch. But more on that later.

I'm hoping, counting on good news, very soon.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Turn your back for a minute ...

And all hell breaks loose out there.

Three weekends I wasn't there. How could it become such a mess? But it did. Mother Nature was taking back her patch, in a big way. Yikes.

So, as we have had much rain to contend with, I was hopeful this weekend I could work out there. Perhaps, last Sunday I could have gone out there, after running 5.5 miles of a relay marathon on Saturday, nope. Rain. And yesterday, after my yoga class, I was hoping. Nope. Rain.

But today, I thought, would be the charm. Hmm. I was dodging raindrops after breakfast, big time.

The nice thing is, when the ground is so wet, weeding is quite easy. They come up in your hand with roots and all. So I made some progress, in between downpours.

I can't even begin to tell you how long it took to get to this point. But, the best thing of all, I had enough sunshine to cut the grass.

It's a psychological thing. When the grass is trimmed, nothing looks so bad. Do you know what I mean? When the lawn is nice and neat, somehow everything else seems okay.

Baby steps. To get to some sort of holistic gardening whole. Onwards.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Sweet Days of Summer

The jasmine's in bloom.

Which I am very happy about because even two months ago, I thought it was dead. Who knew? Once upon a time, this thing lived in a pot in my patio garden in New Cross.

But no, and once again it is pushing through the fence into the neighbour's garden, and growing almost out of control. I may have to beg their permission to go over there and trim it back.

So it's not July, dressed up and playing a tune, nor is it even summer, not quite yet.

But I have the memory of feeling hot, hot, hot in the sultry suburbs of Chicago to carry me through.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011


This so cool.

I have a hedgehog in my garden.

A few weeks ago, before the Chicago trip, I was out there in the dusky dark, having a cigarette if you must know. I saw a dark, round shape waddling up and away to the right, on the path. I thought, with trepidation, that is one fat, round rat.

I saw a rat in the garden, very early days. Do you know, apparently, in London you are never more than 8 feet from a rat?

I was concerned.

Well, just now, I was outside, as usual, crouched down petting one of the cats - up comes waddling Mr. Hedgehog. Close as anything. Then he waddled away. Dang for not having the camera but ...

I'm relieved. I'm happy! I love hedgehogs!!! How cute is that!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

New Beginnings, Old Friends

I just had an amazing trip, visiting my parents in their new home, still in greater Chicago, but a different place nonetheless. No more English Garden. Who knows, the new owners of the old house might just raze the whole thing and deck it. When you leave a garden, that was planted and tended with love and care, you have to let it go.

Even though they have moved a bit further away from where we were, I still had the wonderful, wonderful opportunity to see dear, dear friends. What joy.

I guess I missed the good weather here, as it is pissing down rain today. But of course, it's good for the garden, and means I didn't have to water (I know it was done, once or twice at least, while I was away). The tomatoes have doubled in size already - well, they were only an inch high so that's two inches now. I would take some pictures, but for the endless rain ...

But who am to complain about the weather? It was amazing in Chicago - so much so that I went to the beach and got a tan! Chicago has brilliant beaches.

My main priority was unpacking for my parents, and helping set things up. It's a beautiful place, but all week, I kept looking out the window at this

I think the people who maintain the grounds leave a little space for you, in case you like gardening. Oh, I could have had fun with this. Just enough to put in some lovely flowers and shrubs - it only gets morning sun so it would need some research as to what to exactly plant. I even found a garden centre close by, but never managed to get there. Too much unpacking going on. Also, I would need to set up some sort of irrigation system - just a soaker hose, but I didn't even find out if there is an outside tap. Low maintenance is key.

But even the lovely patio is crying out for at least one pot of flowers.

Time ran away from me. It was time to come home.

It's a funny old life sometimes when your heart lives in two places.