The Summerhouse sat in snow last time I checked, but emerging from hibernation to a sun-basked spring, I discover a new garden and the chance, at last, to get my hands dirty.
New growth pushes through bare soil and reminds me that nothing stays the same and nature, like life, is full of surprises. I think of all the gardens I’ve left behind for others to enjoy. Now it’s my family’s turn to reap the benefits with cherry blossom in April and bluebells in May, chased by peonies and poppies in June.
I have pumpkin, sunflower and nasturtium seeds, hoping they will turn out as the packets promise. I am nostalgic for the last time I grew pumpkins in the vegetable patch I planted with my children in California, some twenty years ago.
My geraniums flourish. Not since I grew them in California have they survived the winter. There, left outside to their own devices, they died back to dry, brown sticks which miraculously sprouted back to new life in the spring.
This year, I left them in our front porch where not only did they not die back, but kept their leaves all winter. I didn’t think that was possible in England.
Although, considering the temperature inside the porch during a heat wave in April, it looks like we’ve inherited a greenhouse in disguise. No wonder my geraniums thrived.
It also doesn’t hurt to have a little helper.
Eddie enjoys helping with the gardening. Being an English cat born in a barn and raised as a kitten on fresh rabbit (shhh…don’t tell Bunnykins), he wanted to know why the sign says ‘ladybug’ and not ‘ladybird’. We Maisy, a Californian kitty through and through, would have happily explained.
My long time ambition to create an English cottage garden begins with a perfect shady border by a grey, stone wall. With hollyhocks, foxgloves and lupins, I am determined to fulfill this ambition at long last, despite the onslaught of slugs and snails. Not so perfect, then.
I need a hedgehog, so I imagine sneaking back to my old house in the dead of night, on a mission to retrieve Mrs Tiggy Winkle, who lives there beneath the summerhouse, it of wood and nails.
But I have some success…
We’ve had visitors too.
And a fledged baby bird, resting on the fence panel mid-flight. Blue Tit? Chaffinch?
But the most wonderful surprise of all is a robin who sings from an apple tree behind a stone wall at the end of our driveway. Throughout the long winter I watched it sing from the same high perch every evening. I can’t see him now with the tree in full leaf, but I still hear him and I know it is him. I know it is My Sweet Robin.
Before gardening took over, London called twice. First, in early April to a fantastic evening enjoying the Classic FM Concert at The Royal Albert Hall, my Christmas/Anniversary gift from lovely, generous Hubby.
Prince Albert Memorial, Kensington, London, which faces the Royal Albert Hall.
The next day, we walked through beautiful Kensington Gardens. Thrilled to discover that Kensington Palace was newly open for the summer season, we took the tour. I’ve always wanted to visit the once-upon-a-time-ago home of Diana and her boys.
The famous gates at Kensington Palace, once covered in flowers…
Imagine my delighted surprise finding ‘Diana: Her Fashion Story’ exhibition inside. A truly breathtaking walk through Diana’s life, forever caught in time by each of these famous dresses. I remembered so well the photographs of her wearing them at iconic moments throughout her incredible, yet tragically too short life.
The tone, with each step, felt reverent and hushed beneath the subdued lighting.
When I posted my entry, ‘Mummy‘ in March for the Bloggers Bash Blog Post Competition, I had no idea that I would soon be visiting Kensington Palace. Thank you to all who left such lovely comments on my true story, which I wrote with Diana, to me the quintessential royal, in mind. Fellow blogger Viola Bleu linked to it in a post, inspired, she told me, to write her own thoughts on Diana. Her beautiful words touched my heart. Thank you so much Viola, I hope you enjoy the photos.
London called the second time on May 19th. Not for the Royal Wedding, but for the Annual Blogger’s Bash. A lovely day all round, summed up beautifully in a post by Suzie Speaks with lots of fab photos taken by her husband, and Sacha Black’s post listing all the award winners.
Always wonderful to catch up with ‘old’ blogging pals and meet new, it was also a great opportunity to thank you so much for visiting the Summerhouse, rain or shine, posts of no posts, lighting up the place with your happy smiles.
And this year, I was truly honoured as an Ambassador representing Carrot Ranch, conferred to me by, and on behalf of, Charli Mills and all the Rough Writers, unable to attend, but waving joyfully from Sea to Shining Sea.
Congratulations to all the award nominees and winners, and to my friend Marje Mallon whose story took first place with a beautiful prize for the Bloggers Bash Post Competition. You can read all three winning stories here at Hugh Robert’s blog, Hugh’s News & Views, and you can catch the live video presentations posted on the Blogger’s Bash Facebook page
A huge thank you to the wonderful committee, Sacha, Hugh, Geoff and Suzie , this year joined by Shelley, Adam, Helen and Graeme whose tireless work and commitment made this such a successful and enjoyable event.
Blogger’s Bash Q&A Panel with Graeme, Hugh, Sacha, Ritu & Geoff
And of course, no Blogger’s Bash is complete without Hugh’s excellent and fantastically presented video which is now live on his blog. Nobody escapes Hugh’s video, I mean nobody.
There is just one more surprise to report from the Summerhouse: a couple of weeks after the Classic FM concert, hubby took a call to say he had won the random prize draw held by their sponsor, Honda. Who wins those? I thought they were made up. But it’s real. We really have won a holiday on the Almalfi Coast in Italy. Still pinching ourselves that we get our holiday in the sun after all.
Meanwhile, I’m cracking on with the memoir and long overdue blog visits. On days when I fade into a fog, I remember this quote taken from Writing Magazine by the marvellous Margaret Atwood, which I leave with you:
Asked in a recent interview whether she considers herself an optimist, she said: ‘Any writer is an optimist. Why? Number one: they think they’ll finish their book. Number two: they think somebody will publish it. Number three: they think somebody will read it. That’s a lot of optimism.’
Life really is full of surprises.
This walk through my garden, Diana’s dress exhibition and the Blogger’s Bash is linked to Jo’s Monday Walk
All photos copyrighted (c) by Sherri Matthews, A View From My Summerhouse.