Saturday, 20 June 2015

Five Flowers on Friday

Short on time to post today so just linking up with Amy at Love Made my Home with a five June flower pictures from my garden and beyond.

This is bush is called Philadelphus I think or mock orange though I think we called it Bride's Blossom in Northern Ireland.  Whatever it is called, it smells wonderful and this year is magnificent. Last year the man we get to cut the hedges trimmed it at the wrong time and we had few flowers, but I managed to save it this year and it's better than ever.

My oriental poppies are also in flower.  They last a day or two before dropping their petals at the slightest sign of wind or rain, but are spectacular when they are out. This year I have noticed that there are two different colours, one salmony pink and the other paler. I'm sure the plants were identical when I planted them. A mystery. 

I don't bother much with pots of annuals as they need too much watering but I make an exception for these Livingstone Daisies which have an unspellable proper name beginning with M.  These were my mother's favourite and I plant them in memory of her.  They are a bit sulky, only opening when the sun comes out, but look so cheerful when they do. 

 And this week the wild dog roses have finally opened, rather later than usual after this cool spring.  These are growing by the railway line on my dog walk which is a real haven for wild flowers.

Will be back later this weekend with more news from a busy week.

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Five on Friday

This week I'm linking up with Amy again with five 'highlights' of our week.

1. Exams.
 Not exactly a highlight but a major preoccupation in our house at present. My daughter had her first GCSE paper in Biology yesterday afternoon.  She has been working really hard for it so was a bit disappointed that a lot of the things she revised didn't come up and she found it quite tough.  I remember that feeling so well; other people talking about the questions afterwards and the anxiety that caused.  She's ok though - went to see Pitch Perfect 2 with a friend to take her mind off it all. But it's back to revision today.
And it was the English Language paper this week for my Year 11 students.  For one of their Writing Tasks they had to write a blog post about a favourite place.  I'm a bit worried that some may have written too informally for this task.  But time will tell and there's no point in fretting now.

2. Sandals
The week started cold and wet but by Thursday the sun came out and it was time to paint my toenails and wear my new sandals for the first time.  I'm very pleased with them - they're from Clark's.  I buy quite a lot of shoes from Clark's as they are good quality, comfortable and not that pricey.  My mum, who insisted as I do, that school shoes come from there, was right!

3. Evening Walks
I love the long summer evenings and the chance to get out for a walk in the evenings after dinner instead of just watching television.  Dog walk field is now waist high with long grass, buttercups and cow parsley.  It was peaceful swishing through the grass and watching the sun go down on Thursday evening.

4. Goldfinches
The goldfinches I had hoped for have finally discovered my niger seed feeder.  I managed to catch these two before they flew away - they are much more timid than the robins or bluetits.  One of the questions on the Biology paper my daughter did was about how the number of goldfinches seen in gardens is increasing and students were asked to give reasons for this.  Something to do with predators and food sources it seems,

5. Gardening
I bought a discounted gooseberry bush and planted it.  Too late for any fruit this year but I'll be patient.  After a couple of years of poor yields the blackcurrant bush I planted three years ago is promising a good crop.  I love fruit bushes and have good memoires of gathering fruit for jam from my grandparents' garden in Northern Ireland.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

The Year in Books: June

I missed last month's link up with Laura at Circle of Pine Trees as I didn't finish any of my planned reads for April and ended up reading a lot of self help books instead.  I've now decided to abandon this genre as you can see in this post and am enjoying reading again.

So a quick round up of my recent favourites and plans for June.  I'm half way through The Rosie Effect by Graham Simsion, the follow up to The Rosie Project which many other bloggers enjoyed. It's more of the same from the narrator Don and his interpretation of the world around him is touchingly humorous, but I'm finding the plot dragging a little this time.  But an easy bedtime read which is what I want sometimes.

It's my usual habit to read several books at once so I'm also half way through 'Late Fragments: Everything I want to Tell You (About this Magnificent Life) by Kate Gross.  This is a brilliant book and more valuable in its advice about how to be happy than any of the self help books I've read, surprisingly as the book was written by a young woman who is dying.   Kate Gross died of bowel cancer aged 36 on Christmas Day last year , leaving a husband Billy and twin boys aged 5. This book is primarily for her children.  She wrote about her life after her diagnosis as a way of coming to terms with it all,  and preparing herself and her family.  She wrote about her early memories; her family and friends; her awkward teenage years; her impressive career - how she became a policy advisor for Tony Blair when he was Prime Minister and then chief executive of the Africa Governance Initiative. But it's not just the subject matter and the fact she was a successful woman that makes this book so good.  It's also really well written. She's an English Lit graduate and her book is full of quotations from other writers - everything from John Donne to J. K. Rowling. Here's a snippet for you:

'I can spread my childhood memories out like a patchwork quilt.  My quilt is brightly coloured, richly textured, a mix of the familiar and the foreign.  My parents showed me the world form an early age and experiencing it - drinking in the astonishing wonder it provides - has made me who I am.  Because of them ,'the ears of my ears awake and the eyes of my eyes are open', as ee cummings put it.'

I'm looking forward to reading the rest.  How sad that such a talented woman died so young.

In June I'll be finishing these books and hope also to begin 'Bellman and Black' by Diane Setterfield which I'd ordered from the library after reading Penny's comments on it via The Year in Books.

I'm also reading 'Amongst Women' by John McGahern in preparation for a unit of work on Irish Literature which I am teaching in September.

I also get to teach some Seamus Heaney poems which I am looking forward to very much.