A childless womb

Maybe, because of my collaboration and befriending with many mummy bloggers, through my social media work with Orchard Toys, I have come to meditate more on my childless state.

Maybe reading your blogs, looking at your photos and tweeting with you about your children, the days out with your children, their childhood illnesses and the loss of your children,  has made me think that there’s something missing in my life, not having a child of my own. Not, that is, to continue my ‘line’, I don’t give a toss about that, but a living being that would need me, that I could teach, and from whom I could learn. A child that would give meaning to my life.

I was never one of those women who felt the need to procreate. To be honest, the thought of swelling up like a  whale, was never appealing. The thought of the actual birth really didn’t do anything for me either.

I had friends, when I was in my 20s, who decided to go through the experience of carrying a child and childbirth, because God had given them the body to do it. They wanted to experience being pregnant, and they wanted to have a baby. The man was just the means to the end.

I always thought that to love somebody and to have their child was the ultimate experience, but somehow I was never in the right place at the right time.

Many articles have been written about the menopause. All the different ways it affects the female body, but I have never, ever seen any articles about how it can affect you mentally. That is if you are childless. Knowing that the your body clock is ticking, that the ‘change of life’ is imminent and that you are childless.

I had always thought, at the back of my mind, that I would have children. We all think that don’t we?  Coming to terms with the onset of the menopause and the realisation of  “Well, that’s it, no babies for me” is quite something to come to terms with. Why don’t journalists write articles about it? Why isn’t counselling available?

Still, I have got past that all now and am looking towards another milestone in my life, retirement. How will I cope after having been brought up with a strong work ethic? Suddenly to find that I am not ‘earning my living’ any longer? To not have to get up in the morning to go to work? How will I cope, with the sudden change in my regime?

About this I have no fears. I have many projects, as you will see if you follow my blog. It will be a new world of learning about life, and myself, and I welcome it with open arms.

Photo of the week – Long-tailed Tit

I was just going out of my back door and I saw this lovely long-tailed tit in my rambling rose. Fortunately my camera was in the porch so I grabbed it and managed to get a few shots before it flew off. It’s not brilliantly in focus, but I’m happy having managed to get it in the frame, as they move so quickly!

Long-tailed Tit

Long-tailed Tit

Photo of the week kindly hosted by htpp//teamlloyd.com/ Why not pop over there and see lots more photos?

Team Lloyd

A red letter day

Friday, day off, yippee.  Plans to clean out the greenhouse and prune my roses went awry during the yearly visit from my plumber, to service the boiler.

Last week I discovered that everything, yes, everything on the shelf under the sink was sodden and all rather strangely coloured blue!  Closer inspection revealed a packet of those blue thingeys that you put in the toilet had burst open and had mixed with the water leaking from the sink bowl, with the colourful result. As it appeared to be a slow leak from around the plug hole, I was confident that my plumber could sort it out in a jiffy.

How wrong can you be? After backing out from the bowels of the sink unit Chris, the plumber, had bad news. Yes, he could solve the leak around the plug hole, but there was a hairline crack in the sink and, worse than that, water was steadily dripping from the hot and cold pipes feeding the tap. All that water was dripping down and saturating everything at the bottom of the sink unit. *Groans* Luckily it was where I kept old Tshirts, etc., to use as rags, so they had soaked up a good bit, but judging by the blue colour on the pipes, it looks as though they had been leaking for some time. You’ll need a new tap unit he said, and we should replace those old pipes with flexible ones, and it’ll be difficult to do that with the sink in place……

So, while he was doing his bit in the boiler room outside, I was surfing the net looking for a cheap replacement sink and monoblock mixer taps. *Groans* again.

The one consolation for  my lost day was… Eureka… a beautiful new laid egg!! Dear ol’ Polly, my Light Sussex hen, had laid her first egg for 5 months. Probably be the only egg this year, the way things are going. Still, we have to be thankful for small mercies.

The Gallery – Boys


The Gallery is kindly hosted by Tara over at Sticky Fingers blog.

Until about 18 months ago, I had three boys in my life.  Now, I have just the one, Max my horse. He is a thoroughbred cross Welsh, and is 19 this year. He is my best mate and my loveliboi!

Sadly, I haven’t ridden him for ages. What with the rain, wind, fog, ice and snow the weather hasn’t been good enough for me to get out for a hack. I’ve reached the age when I am a fairweather rider. It’s no fun going out and getting wet through or frozen to the bone! So roll on warmer weather!

Thoughts on a Big Project

One of my last projects for the winter was to strip out the shelves and wallpaper in my kitchen pantry and redecorate it the same colour as the kitchen. But then I started this blog and, ever since, every spare minute has been taken up trying to get to grips with WordPress! My learning curve has been, and still is, vertical!

At the end of April I will be retiring (yippee) so I will be able to put some real time into my Big Project, the garden.

22 years ago, when I had all but given up hope of finding a place where I could keep my horse at home,  I found my dream cottage through a friend.  I was in the right place at the right time and I could just afford the mortgage on this little ‘attached’ cottage with stables, outbuildings and a turnout paddock. Luck was on my side as I found a buyer for my house the day after I had placed the ad in the paper and in just over six weeks, my horse, two cats and I moved in.

Luckily the garden was a blank canvas, with only a few fruit trees and  shrubs. Over the next 10 years I toiled hard creating flowerbeds, planting hedges and shrubs.. It wasn’t on a par with the Lost Gardens of Helligon, but it certainly felt like it!  I planted over 60 old roses, and constructed a rose tunnel and trellises for them to climb through. The perfume on a summer’s evening was overwhelming.

Just a few images of my garden 12 years ago…

Garden 2000 Buff Beauty

Garden 2000 C

Garden 2000 D

Garden June 200

Cottage garden 2000 A

IMAG0015 (2)

That is what it looked like in its heyday.This is what it looked like last year…




Clematis viticella

As you can see the roses have all, but a few, died. They are high maintenance. They need to be sprayed for greenfly and against blackspot, fertilized and dead headed regularly. I just didn’t look after them as I was too busy going for long rides on my horse. The garden was neglected for too many years. The black spot gets into the stems, the leaves all fell, and the roses died. So sad. I had worked so hard on getting my old rose collection established, then I neglected them. Sad too, that now I’m going to have time to look after them, I can’t replant new roses where the old ones were. That is, not unless I replace something like two cubic metres of soil for each rose. This would just not be feasible!

Luckily the Cecile Brunner and the Rambling Rector, on the other side of the garden have survived. Can’t think why because they’re planted next to my neighbour’s conifers that take all the moisture out of the soil. They are beautiful…


So, the challenge is, what to plant in all the gaps!

Green shoots

A few years ago I was given a Garland electric windowsill propagator for Christmas and from that point on, I have grown all my vegetables from seed.  Am so pleased with it as within a few days, the seeds germinate. Takes away all the worry about whether they will germinate or not.

After a blog-searching expedition a few weeks ago, I came across a gardening blog and read a post from a member who had already sown their tomatoes, in an unheated greenhouse.

Not wanting to be left behind, last Friday I sowed some of my tomato seeds. Gardeners’ Delight, a cherry tomato, which is an old favourite, very prolific and beautifully sweet.  Ailsa Craig, a sweet, medium-sized tomato that I have never grown before and …. marigolds.


The marigolds germinated very quickly – I could see them coming through on Sunday. The tomatoes were showing on Tuesday. Brilliant, eh?!! My other tomato seeds, an Italian beefsteak tomato, will be sown in a few weeks time.

The novice veg grower may well be asking why the marigolds? Well, several years ago my greenhouse was plagued with greenfly, the seedling’s greatest enemy! They suck sap and the seedling will die unless drastic action is taken. It was devastating. I try to grow my crops without using chemicals, so I had to douse everything with soapy (Fairy Liquid will do) water which should kill the little perishers. Remember to search on the underside of the leaves though, as that is where they love to congregate.

Hearing about my greenfly problems a colleague recommended growing marigolds among the tomatoes in the greenhouse. I’ve done this ever since, and haven’t seen a single greenfly, so it obviously works.

Since sowing my tomatoes I have found my notebook from last year and I noticed that I sowed them on the 7th March ! Oh dear, will just have to pray that the freezing nights are a thing of the past. They say that seedlings will survive at 10 degrees and above. Oer, think I have been a bit premature.  Might have to sow some more in March, never mind.

Next job? Clear out all the geraniums from the greenhouse, into the spare stable and give the inside of the greenhouse a good clean …. then prick out and pot on the seedlings.



The Photo Gallery: Week 131

This week’s theme is ‘girls’. Well, my girls, with whom you might already be familiar, if you are following me on this journey, are my lovely two kitten-cats. Well, they’re not kitten-cats any longer as they are 19 months old, can’t believe that time flies so fast these days.

Maisie and Minnie

Maisie and Minnie

Minnie and Maisie are very different. Minnie is much bigger than Minnie and is predominately ginger and white with tabby tinges. She eats a lot, loves to be outside, has quite slow reactions (though she is a good hunter), loves lolling about on the back of the settee or my lap. She loves affection, but hates to be picked up. She is a big softee and will never scratch you. She takes no notice if you tell her off,  she’s thick-skinned and does exactly as she pleases.

Minnie, on the other hand, is small and lithe and quick as a flash. Very intelligent and nervous. She just loves to be with me. Even if it’s chucking it down with rain, she’ll trot out to the stable behind me, waiting till all is done and then scampers back to the house in ahead of me. She loves to sit on my lap when I’m cleaning my teeth and will come up to bed with me.

Sadly, there is an undercurrant of sibling rivalry and I can see them both, whether at the end of the bed, or near me in the sitting room glaring at each other. If they could talk they’d be saying, “Don’t you dare sit on her lap, that’s my place!” Sometimes Maisie will go for poor little Minnie and I am sure it is just that she’s jealous. They are ‘my girlies’ and I love them dearly!

A difficult decision

Six, or maybe 7, years ago we (my ex partner and I) decided we would like some hens. Well, to be honest, it was probably me who decided and he went along with it!

Dotty, a Cuckoo Maran, Hetty a Speckled Maran, and Aggie and Betty, two Black Rocks were, you  might say, my foundation stock. I bought them from an ol’boy who I thought was a breeder, but who turned out to be a bit of a wheeler dealer, as they say.

All four hens were pretty wild, although Betty did become approachable in time. She used to sit on the spade when my ex was digging-over the veg plot. They were very clever (who says that chickens are dumb?) because whenever they saw the fork or spade they would waddle after you as they knew that worms would be in the offing.

Grumpy Dotty

Grumpy Dotty

After a couple of years, we were in the garden one early summer’s day and Hetty (the Alpha hen) hurtled past us. Catching a glimpse of bright red on her breast we thought that she had injured herself. Trying to catch her was out of the question… like her three comrades in arms,  she was unapproachable. After some investigations, trying to look as closely as we could, we came to the conclusion that her flesh wasn’t broken but was livid red and devoid of feathers. We then discovered that the feathers were all in the nest box, and after doing some internet research we came to the conclusion that she was broody, and indeed she was.

We built her a broody coop and bought 6 hatching eggs, including a couple of blue cream legbar eggs, and a Welsummer egg gifted by my neighbour. 22 or 23 traumatic days later, the eggs started to hatch. I say ‘traumatic’ because Hetty was such a good hen she just sat on ‘her’ eggs, refusing all sustinance or inducements to take a walk. After 10 days I was physically pushing her off the eggs (what the experts would have said, god only knows) and covering the eggs with a towel. During those days she hardly ate or drank anything.

The outcome was 4 chicks. The other eggs didn’t hatch. Two Rhode Island Reds, a Cream Legbar and a Welsummer. One Rhode Island Red, Boris, and the Cream Legbar, Ozzie, were obviously cockerals. My neighbour took them, we thought to breed with because they were purebreds, but I have a sneaking suspicion  that they ended up in the pot, which, between  you and me, we were very sad about.

That left Winnie the Welsummer and my lovely Rosie the Rhode Island Red. Sadly Rosie died 2 weeks after getting over an oviduct infection. She had Marek’s disease which paralyses their legs.

We lost the two Black Rocks and, in 2009, we added two more to our dwindling flock. A Buff Orpington, aka Buffy and a Light Sussex we named Polly. Sadly, a couple of years later lovely Hetty, Mother Hen, died. Just leaving Dotty, Winnie, Polly and Buffy.

Hetty hen

Hetty hen

Dotty is in her 9th year and although she laid two or three eggs last year, her egg-laying days are over. Her eggs have always been speckled with blood, so had she been in a commercial flock, she would probably would have been culled at the end of her first year. So she has had a good life with me. Winnie is 6 this year, as are the other two.  She has only ever been ‘on the lay’ for 3 months of the year, god knows why. Last year she probably only laid half a dozen eggs.

The difficult decision is what do I do with Dotty and Winnie? I have to say that neither of them are very nice, and neither of them are friendly. Dotty is a bit aggressive with the others and Winnie drives me mad because she won’t come in at the end of the day. I have to get booted and coated up, wooly hat as well, just to go outside to get her in before Charlie fox catches her!

Winnie Welsummer

Winnie Welsummer

Last year I felt the time had come to send them to chicken heaven, but I certainly couldn’t despatch them myself. I asked my neighbour if he could do the dastardly deed and he said that he would, just remind him. That was nearly a year ago and I haven’t reminded him. Can’t bring myself to do it. I am finding it difficult to come to terms with actually having an animal’s life terminated. It’s different if they are terminally ill or suffering, then there is no choice, but just because they are too old to lay eggs, and are not very nice characters, is that enough of an excuse to chop off their heads? Am I being too sentimental? Would you be able to do it?