I used to be indecisive…

…but now I'm not so sure


Friday letters – the 1,000th post edition

Dear self,  Well done for filling the internet with 1,000 finely crafted articles pieces of nonsense.

Dear laptop,  I’m pleased that you took some of my comments to heart last week and have sorted yourself out a little, but I feel it might be time to put you into retirement.  You would be much happier, I think, without the demands I place on you,  You could enjoy a peaceful life and my stress levels would certainly be a lot lower.

Dear traffic cones, I noticed, as we were driving north to Scotland earlier this week, that hundreds of you seemed to be enjoying a break on the northern reaches of the M6, in Cumbria.  As there was no obvious sign of any roadworks going on, I assumed that you were having some well earned rest after months of faithful service on other major routes in the UK.  I can’t help thinking that you could rest on the roadsides and verges just as easily as on the roads themselves, and the traffic wouldn’t be affected by you at all.  

Dear Westmorland Tebay services,  I always enjoy a break in your establishment, especially when I can have a view like this from my table while I have a bite of lunch in the restaurant.



October: A Garden Portrait

This month Jude has asked us to share our favourite gardens.  If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you will probably know that I like The Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall.   Some of the photos I am about to share with you I have posted before, but they bear repeating I think.

The Gardens are divided into different sections, recreating as accurately as possible how the gardens looked in their Victorian heyday.

Productive Gardens

The Kitchen Garden, walled Flower Garden and Melon Yard, where the gardening team uses the same horticultural practices as their Victorian predecessors, show us a glorious array of traditional crops of vegetables, fruit and flowers.

Pleasure Grounds

These were first laid out over 200 years ago, partly for the pleasure of the owners and partly to display their wealth.  They contain an unusual range of romantic structures and features, linked by winding paths planted on either side with a magnificent selection of historic plants.

From the Northern Summerhouse there are spectacular views to St Austell Bay.


The Jungle

Set on a slope into a valley the jungle has its own warmer micro-climate and so many tropical plants are able to grow.  Paths and a boardwalk take you down ponds and streams, surrounded by giant rhubarb, banana plantations, palm trees and many other plants which would not normally grow here.  It is lush and green and exotic.


The beautiful 200 acre ancient woodland has meandering paths which invite you to explore.  You might stumble upon a sleeping mud maid, or spot a giant’s head if you look carefully!

There is much, much more to Heligan than I have featured here.  There’s a farm with rare livestock and poultry, an orchard, a bird hide, formal gardens, wide open lawns and a tea garden and every part is beautifully kept.  It’s amazing to think that it lay hidden for years, covered with ivy and brambles which took over when the workforce went to fight in the trenches during the first World War (many didn’t return), but how wonderful that it has been rediscovered and can be enjoyed again.  I think it is quite a magical place.

This post is linking up with The Earth Laughs in Flowers .


Friday letters – the very annoying laptop edition

Dear laptop,  You are great when you work, but extremely annoying when you don’t.  The last few days have been very frustrating, waiting for things which are ‘Not Responding’, and if you don’t shape up then it will be time to ship you out.  Take note.

Dear autumn, More signs of your arrival are beginning to creep in now, and I can’t decide if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

Dear pigeons,  I don’t mind you coming into the garden in ones and twos, but larger groups are not really acceptable – you give the garden the air of a public square, and you take up too much space.  Please will you wait somewhere in an orderly fashion until the pair who are pecking up the seeds from underneath the bird feeder are finished and then you can take their place.

Dear fingernails,  You seem to be growing very quickly at the moment.  I wonder if it is the time of year.

Dear laptop,  Have I mentioned how annoying you are at the moment?  This post is taking ages to put together.  I am not happy.

Dear Savage Chicken,  I know just how you feel.



Cycling across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito

When in San Francisco it’s one of the top things to do – cycle across the Golden Gate bridge.  Thank goodness for electric bikes is all I can say, because I definitely couldn’t have managed the eight mile trip if it was just under my own steam.

We hired bikes from a hire shop in town and, after a quick demonstration from a staff member of how to use the power and a quick demonstration from us of our ability to ride a bike, we were set loose into the big wide world.   We made our way towards the National Park Bike Path which would take us through Aquatic Park, past Fort Mason, down to the Marina, along by the water’s edge to the base of the bridge.  The weather was dull and misty and low clouds obscured the bridge, which was disappointing.


The path took us along beside a beach, which was very popular with dog walkers.  Either the good people of San Francisco like to own many dogs, or there were lots of professional dog walkers out that morning.

After about an hour we stopped for coffee in a little cafe called The Warming Hut (very appropriate name and very welcome because it was quite a chilly day) just opposite a pier where people were fishing.  The mist and clouds continued to lift slowly and by now we could see a little bit more of the bridge.

The path ended at Fort Point, the seacoast fortification at the entrance to San Francisco Bay.  The fort was completed just before the start of the American Civil War in 1861 to defend the bay against hostile warships.


Fort Point

On the fence, preventing access under the bridge,  there is a set of yellow handprints, and on the ground below there is a set of paw prints.  As we stopped to admire the views, several runners and walkers touched the hands before turning round and heading back off along the path.  A little investigation on Google, came up with this explanation for the hands and paws.

The fog had nearly lifted, the sun was struggling to filter through, and we could just make out the tops of the towers.


View from Fort Point

This was when I was very, very thankful to have an electric bike as we had to take a steep, curving path up towards the road which went across the bridge.  If I’d been on a push bike I would have had to walk most of the way and we might not have made it to the other side before nightfall!


Pausing for a breather before joining the road to cross the bridge.

Our plan was to cross the bridge, go down the other side and into the town of Sausalito where we were going to catch the ferry back to San Franscisco.

I had been slightly concerned about riding a bike on the road with the busy traffic, but I needn’t have worried because there was a separate, fenced off, path for the cyclists and pedestrians.  The path was not wide, but there were areas every so often where you could pull off to the side to admire the view and rest, which was very welcome because we were not allowed to use the power setting on the bikes on the bridge for some reason so it was all down to leg muscles.

The views from the bridge would have been breathtaking on a clear day, but they were still pretty good on that misty morning.

After crossing the bridge we stopped to look back – and were impressed to see what we had just done!



After that it was a case of following the path to the road which took us towards Sausalito, lunch and the ferry home.


The road into Sausalito

For some reason I failed to take any photos of Sausalito itself, but I can report that it is a very charming town with lots of yacht marinas, small shops and eateries.

We had assumed that the ferry dock would be quite obvious, but about a mile or so after we had ridden through the town and out of the other side we realised that we must have missed it and had to turn round and go back!  We left our bikes in the racks by the ferry and went off in search of some lunch.

The return ferry ride was well worth it and gave us some great views of the bridge, and the skyline of San Francisco.

If you are ever in San Francisco I recommend doing this (and I recommend the electric bike too!) as, even though I started with disappointment because of the foggy weather, we had some fabulous views that just wouldn’t be possible from a car or bus.




Birds in action



Working in the garden yesterday afternoon I was aware of a lot of parakeets squawking.  I looked up into the skies and saw this (then rushed inside to get my camera, hoping that they would still be there when I came out!).


Eighteen parakeets were crowding round the red kite and trying to chase it off!  They got quite close to it, but didn’t seem to actually make contact.


I’m sure the robin can detect the sound of a spade in the earth! I was finishing off working on the path and I had hardly started before the little robin was there, standing on the grass about five feet away from me.  He stood and watched for a while then hopped onto a flower pot, keeping his beady eye on me, and then on to the birdbath where he had a little splash around before flying off.

To read more sets of six words for a Saturday head over to Cate at Show My Face.