Friday 1st February
New month, new template for the blog. I wouldn't want to become predictable. I am greening everything up because I saw my first snowdrops today and they always make me smile. It reminds me every year to order some and then I forget so if I put it in the blog I may stand a better chance this year. You order snowdrops 'in the green' which means after they have almost finished flowering and they are dug up and divided to make new ones. Snowdrops will naturalize really well and before you know it you will have a carpet of them.
Today has been a day with far too many tasks to ever stand a chance of completing and so some are being pushed into tomorrow. Now work has started in the tunnel I really need to be out there for some time every day. Todays task was potting on my primroses ready for sale. I have talked about the importance of adding value in a horticulturally based business in previous posts. Today was a good example of that. I potted the flowering primroses into 10.5 cm pots and then doubled wrapped them in pattern florist cellophane and fabric wrap. I then placed them in their very own jute gift bag, labelled with decorated parcel label and finished with florist ribbon. The humble primrose is now dressed and ready for sale and I will make a far better mark up this way. They always make the first plant/flower gift of the season and they always sell well. People want a bit of colour at this time of year. The photographs make the point I think.
So that was really my only urgent task in the tunnel as I do want them to be in the local shop for tomorrow morning. The sun is due to shine, as it has today, and people buy plants when the sun shines.
Home school with George and Max continued our EU quest and involved transferring data from charts to graphs. I am always amazed at how well the boys can decide on their intervals for their 'y' axis. I remember finding that really difficult at school. Mind you, when you have a maths teacher that constantly tells you that you are thick it is not really surprising. I do not tell my children they are thick and guess what, they aren't. There is a huge amount to be said for confidence in learning. Neither Max or George ever go into anything thinking they will not be able to do it. My experience was completely different as I always thought I wouldn't be able to do it and, mostly, that was the case. Molly stayed in school until she was 13 and then decided to give home school a go. When we first started teaching her she informed us that she was rubbish at maths and science. We pointed out that if she was serious about a career in conservation (and she was) she would have to develop a more positive attitude. Slowly but surely her dad persuaded her that she could do the work in both subjects and she is now studying for a science degree with quite a bit of maths in it. Just must say how thrilled we were with her Ecology exam result of 69%. The girl continues to shine very brightly indeed.
There are times in home school when it is not a matter of sitting with the boys watching every step they make. Independent thinking and learning is a critical part of what we do. Once I was conficent they could tackle the three graphs I left them to it. Harry came with me to step over the threshold of the Co-op. I am not a fan of supermarkets and I get very grumpy at the thought of a visit. I only go when I have to and that is roughly every three weeks in the winter and less in the growing season. We shop locally where we can and our village shops are excellent. They are far removed from the little spar on the corner that I was more used to on the mainland. They have to appeal to a wide range of customers and they have to remain competitive and they are successful on both counts.
The Co-op trip behind us I then tackled the cleaning out of the rabbits. I am always pleased to do this as the waste is pure gold in my compost bin. We have lots of black compost bins because we asked the council if we could have a few more and they said yes! I have just started a new one so that rabbit poo is most welcome. I use as little peat as I can get away as it is far from sustainable and I only use natural plant food. Every year we harvest from our comfrey bed and add water to a whole bunch of it and leave it for a couple of weeks. It smells rotten but it is the most wonderful plant food. If you don't fancy that you can buy comfrey pellets and they do a great job too. I saw a good deal today in the Thompson and Morgan spring catalogue. You can buy 36 perennial plug plants perfect for cut flowers for £16.99. Quite a saving. Buying plug plants is always a good idea as they come on so quickly and you really can't go wrong with perennials.
It is Friday so the Banner newspaper is out. There is an aga in there and regular readers know how much I want one but it is way beyond my budget. I did tramp across a field today because I saw a butler sink had been dumped. Sadly it was badly broken on one side so today is not my day for bargains. The job opprtunities are starting to come through. There are a few good ones in todays paper including an admin assistant for the Arran Team who manage many of the holiday lets on the island and a tour guide for the distillery.
The front page tells us about a new film project that is coming to the island this year. I noted the mention of extras being used from the islanders and I might have a go at that! The poor state of Arran roads was the subject of both news items and letters. They really are shocking in places despite almost constant repairs. I also noted that Lochranza has a craft club. If it wasn't so far to drive (one the terrible roads) I might be tempted to join in. Perhaps Whiting Bay needs a craft club? On the club front can I tempt you with Bridge or volleyball or even a spot of natural history?
This weekend has been set aside to finally get into production for my mother's day crafts. I am way behind this year so need to catch up pretty quick. I have invited two other island craftworkers to submit products into the range this year and I am sure they are almost ready. I am delighted to say that one of them will be my very first guest blogger in the post tomorrow. I have already mentioned that I will be running a guest blog roughly once a week and that I have organised them into themes. My newest theme is my old school friends. These were the first people, beyond my family, that influenced me. I am still in contact with a number of them on facebook and I already have one signed up to do a guest post. His life took a completely different turn to mine but, despite that, we have something very precious in common. I am really excited about every single guest blogger and thrilled they are keen to participate. I hope you will enjoy reading about the different life journeys.
It is gone 5pm and not yet dark so we are heading in the right direction. I hope we all get some good weather and that some of us might even venture into our gardens. If I don't remove the massive weeds that have taken up residence in my front border there will be no daffodils this year. Job for a child me thinks as I am sure they must be saving their pennies for something. Until tomorrow. xx
Picture is of a set of stepping stones that we visit from time to time. The purpose of the visit is to run as fast over them as possible against the clock. We all have a go and no, I don't ever win - that will be Harry!