Sunday, 15 March 2015

Muddy No More!

I don't have a green thumb, I'm a reluctant gardener and so our garden looks rather raggedy and unkempt. I enthusiastically "weeded" when we first moved in unaware that these "weeds" were in fact plants and the "plants" were actually weeds. So numpty here was left with weed filled borders and a few hardy bushes. A hard frost a couple of years ago killed most of those sturdy beggars off too and so we were left with borders full of weeds and a few scraggy bushes. Making matters worse the soil in the borders is very heavy and clay like, which becomes boggy with rain. Our "grass" is more natural weeds, buttercups, daisies and moss ~ which I actually rather like, so decided not to bother too much with that. All that matters is that it's green ~ right?

When we moved into this house 8 years ago we had no pets, now we have 3 young dogs, 1 of which LOVES to dig!! Therefore, when the heavens open and the rains falls the dogs go outside and immediately run into the borders to splash and dig about in the claggy muddy soil. They then run inside with clumps of mud between their toes and on their beards and deposit all over the floors, sofa, carpets and us!

After a holla out to the folks on facebook asking for cheap easy solutions one wonderful soul came up with the idea of clearing out the borders, laying down weed control fabric and topping with stones and potted plants. Total light bulb moment ~ why hadn't I thought of that? 

So, fully inspired we have the borders cleaned out and raked over, here they are ready for the next stage, as you can see we opted to leave one bush in the first border (to screen the composters) and three in the back border, we like the holly bush but it needs some shaping and training, we have chopped several feet off the top and cut it back, we have the big Yucca in the middle and then a Buddleia for the butterfiles at the end.... 
Long garden border with Yucca Plant in the middle

Garden border with Buddleia in far right

Garden border with disheveled Holly bush to the far left

Patio border with bush seeded by birds at far end hiding composters
We visited our local Buildbase to look at the stone/slate options for filling the borders and found the perfect ones ~ the patio border will have a tonne of Forest Green stones to match the stones around the hot tub (you can see in the picture above the stones around the hot tub then purple slate in the next channel) and so we'll then have forest green up in the border to tie it all in.
Forest Green stone chips
For the garden border, which is much larger and at the back of the garden we have opted for the cheaper washed gravel ~ which will still look nice and fresh but as no-one will see the gravel unless they walk along to the back of the border not so important to buy the more expensive options.
Washed Gravel
So, whilst awaiting delivery of the stones/gravel we had to cut and fit the weed control fabric and dig out my mismatched collection of tubs/pots to decide which tub will go where and then search garden centres for just the right shurbs/plants to go in them. 
6 Pots all lined up to be filled ~ there is another one already filled (not in photo) waiting to go as a centrepiece

Garden border pots all waiting to be filled - 9 in total (eek!)

My Trio of Composters :)

The gravel has arrived and the borders have been lined with weed control fabric and filled with stones. The final component needed now are plants to finish the project.

Seeing as The Dave detests gardening I chose to visit the garden centre on Mothers Day, as he couldn't refuse me on my special day to collect plants to fill the pots ~ all 15 of them! If any of you are gardeners you will know that plants don't come cheap. After a week thoroughly researching dog friendly plants I chose the perfect evergreen shrubs to plant. The problem was ~ to buy established plants would cost way more than our budget would stretch and so we have gone for younger smaller ones which are much cheaper. This means they look very small in their pots right now BUT with love and nurturing will grow and fill out. Most of them have lovely blooms too - and will be a mix of white or purple/blue colours when they do. On the back border I have chosen two fiery dogwood plants (which cause The Dave and Keisha to raise eyebrows when they saw them  ~ thinking I had gone made and just bought two pots of cut down sticks in soil!) - these don't really show at all in the photographs as have been cut back (which is necessary every March) to then thicken out and grow throughout the year. Our neighbour has them in his front garden so I pointed them out to The Dave & Keisha on our return to show them what they would look like once established (which is very pretty and fiery).

I am so happy with the final results and am looking forward to seeing these plants grow and bloom as they mature...

Patio Border looking great 

Patio Border

Garden border right hand side - these shrubs will grow out and become bushy as they mature to help cover up the ugly backdrop 

The same with these - they will mature and spread - the two fiery dogwoods aren't showing up just yet as were cut back - but will thicken and flame later in the year 

The girls know I adore Buddha's (I have a small collection in my living room) and so clubbed together to buy me this beautiful happy Buddha for my new patio border to go alongside my small collection of garden ornaments. I think you will agree he is just gorgeous in slate grey and looks very chilled out between my tubs. Every time I look out the kitchen window I see him and he makes me smile and when the weather turns warmer will be able to enjoy him when outside on the patio too.
My gorgeous new Buddha ~ a Mothers Day gift from my girls, now in pride of place on the patio border

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Is it palatable?

Finally, we have wine! The question is ~ is it palatable? Will we be able to stomach drinking it? It seems such a long time ago since we started this process but really it's only been a matter of a few weeks.

The Brewing Table waiting to get started!

First stage of brewing excitedly watching the bubbles as it ferments

Siphoned into the new plastic demijohns for the second stage (which required shaking)
Finally, today brings with it tasting and bottling day!
Sterilised bottles waiting to be filled


 Red on left, Black Cherry in middle and Rose on right
So the verdict? Thankfully yes *phew* it's lovely.  The red is lovely and fruity yet smooth (my favourite), the black cherry rather cheeky and delicious (first borns favourite) and the Rose equally delicious (although no doubt even nicer when chilled).

So that's a relief ~ already have orders in from first born for her 18th birthday and I have a funny feeling it won't last long in our household.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Guest Blog~open letter by a teenager with ME

Before my youngest daughter became ill with ME I knew very little about the illness apart from what I gleaned when I was a teenager. There was a girl, who lived with her mother locally, who had this vague illness, she didn't attend school, her mum home educated her and when we visited she was always very quiet, gentle and very pale. Often she left us with her mother as she had to go and rest. They didn't live there long and I often wonder what happened to her and how she managed back in the days with no iphone, no laptops or internet, only 3 or was it 4 by then TV channels to choose from (no such thing as sky, tivo or netflix then). She must have felt so lonely and isolated.

Anyway ~ my youngest daughter became ill 5 years ago and that's when my ME education kicked in and boy was it a learning curve, then 2½ years after that my middle daughter became ill with ME too. Since the first diagnosis 5 years ago I have come into contact with a number of sufferers and families or friends of sufferers which has helped me feel less alone when floundering and wondering how to address new symptoms or issues arising as a direct result of the illness.

As well as adults I am also in touch with many teenagers and young people with ME, one of those young people has asked to write a guest blog as they wish to remain anonymous.

So here it is, a young persons open letter to whomever wishes to read it about their experience with ME.....

Every m.e sufferer will have a different story to tell. Some peoples stories have so much to them, yet others are just a diagnosis with a few things changed in their lifestyle. It’s hard to understand why there would be an illness, where you look the same, you act the same… but you can’t do things the same as other people. It almost seems a bit silly and a bit hard to understand- but then again, not a lot of people do understand.

If I could go back to 2009 I would do so much more while I had the freedom, but it’s totally unexpected. When I was 9 I wouldn’t have had a clue that it was my last year before I was totally restricted to everything I do.

It basically started in 2009 when I had swine flu. Since I got swine flu I had never been 100% ‘right’. I was in and out of school constantly with sore throats, and I caught 10 cases of tonsillitis throughout the year of 2010- I personally think I got a reputation for it with the teachers, so they would never take me seriously if I were to say that I had a sore throat.

In late November 2010, I got a particularly bad case of tonsillitis and the flu. I went through two courses of anti-biotic but didn’t seem to be recovering. My throat still felt as if I had swallowed razor blades, so it really was just a waiting game. I was always telling my friends that I’d be back but after 3 months (still bed bound) it really wasn’t any use, and we knew something wasn’t right.

I got my diagnoses in early January, 2011. I was tested previously for glandular fever and also had a few other tests which all came back negative. We didn’t have a clue about the illness, and the doctors didn’t seem to know much either. At the time, it was believed to be very much like fibromyalgia, which has similar symptoms but can be helped with exercise. Anyone who has m.e, you know that it is not helped with exercise; unfortunately I learnt this the hard way.

I saw a physiotherapist on February 4th (my birthday) who told me to walk to 4 lamp posts each day and to keep forcing myself to walk faster and faster, basically to race the previous time it took me.  This only messed up my back and pushed my m.e back, I felt barely alive- when I saw her she said the back pain was due to one leg being a little longer than the other; which caused my back posture to be wonky. Unfortunately, she failed to tell me that really my muscles were so tight after being over-worked; it was pulling my spine to one side.

After the physiotherapist not helping in the slightest, I saw an occupational therapist and also started hydrotherapy. I hated hydrotherapy, but we were still on the fact exercise will help.

My m.e was pretty much a constant trial throughout the years 2011 and 2012. I tried hospital school and going to an m.e group, but it only made me even weaker than I was before. Eventually I stopped everything, and I started seeing an osteopath; this got me into big trouble with my therapists and they made me choose between them, obviously I chose the osteopath because she actually helped.  We tried other little things that we heard supposedly help, like qi-gong, homeopathy, dieticians etc. But most of them just wasted my time.

I couldn’t see my friends for more than half an hour, we tried energy supplements and it was a miracle when I could manage to have a sleepover again. I tried going into school for an hour on Fridays but it didn’t last long because I fell asleep during that hour, and then was wiped out for the week before I went back to it, it only lasted about 3 weeks before we decided I should probably come out altogether.

Skipping forward to September 2011, I managed a week of secondary school from 8-10:30, but it basically just drained every drop of energy that I ever had (Oh and I got a puppy that I saved up for!) Seeing my friends in school was extremely difficult for me, I’d feel jealous, angry and upset. I was adamant to get back into school, but typically I knew I couldn’t manage it at all.

In 2012, I was threatened to be taken into hospital for 2 weeks to have tests ran on me and to be forced into hospital school, I started fainting so I had an ECG done a few times. By now we basically knew everything that I had health wise: hypermobility, orthostatic intolerance, chronic back pain, restless leg syndrome, and my body was also very hyper active. It got so bad I needed to use a wheelchair and hardly moved from bed.

Towards the end of 2012, I had a mini seizure. This was due to my body’s exhaustion; I had an EEG, 24 hour ECG, blood tests and some other things done.

2013 and 2014 have just been a complete trial and error cycle for me, I’m now starting to get better as I have joined Nisai virtual academy and have plans for the future. It’s heart breaking that I’ll never be able to experience things like secondary school and prom, but I’m so pleased with how far I have come after 5 years. The experience has been hard, because the whole education and health system have been so tough to deal with. We’ve had to pay ridiculous prices to see private doctors just to get simple things that people refuse to give us.

Over all, dealing with my m.e now is something I have learnt to do- although there are out-comes such as social anxiety and avoidance issues; I’m hoping everything will be resolved in a matter of years. For anyone who is struggling with m.e themselves, you may be able to relate to my issues and you’ll understand everything can’t be put down in words. Hopefully 2015 will be a better year for all of us.

My m.e symptoms consist of:
  • Brain fog (hard to concentrate, forgetfulness, can’t pronounce things etc.)
  • Swollen glands, 
  • light sensitivity, 
  • noise sensitivity, 
  • headaches, 
  • rash, 
  • irritated sinuses, 
  • stomach and muscle pains, 
  • congested lymph, 
  • dry eyes, 
  • fatigue, 
  • tiredness and MUCH more.
It is because of sufferers like this that I am participating in the March DeChox, it is spear headed by the British Heart Foundation as I am raising funds for them as a thank you for the care they provided helping my husband recover from his heart attacks. However I am also doing it to raise funds for Invest in ME Research to help support important biomedical research projects looking into ways to treat this illness which currently has not treatment or cure
If you wish to sponsor me you can by clicking the link of your choice below, or via text using the text codes as shown. If you are unable to donate you can support me by sharing this blog and raising awareness about this illness.

Donations towards British Heart Foundation can be given here;

Donations towards Invest in ME Research can be given here;

Thank You