allotment · Christian · mental health · nature

New Year – keeping it simple

A few days before 2020 ended, I remembered that I had written a list of goals for the year. Despite the pandemic and forgetting that the list existed, I didn’t do too badly.

My aims for 2021 are very simple. Every day as a family, we want to:

  1. Hug
  2. Play
  3. Pray
  4. Be creative
  5. Enjoy God’s creation
  6. Laugh.

So far we have enjoyed falling snowflakes and the water flowing in our local brook again. We’ve drawn socks: stinky socks, odd socks, long socks, Christmas socks, spotty socks, holey socks, small socks and Christmas socks! We’ve hugged and prayed. We’ve pretended to be birds and rabbits. We’ve ridden imaginary invisible dragons. We have made each other laugh.


In addition, I want to grow some new produce at the allotment: I’m thinking broccoli, sweetcorn and cucumber.

Last year, my aim was to run 5km. Thanks to a friend and an amazing running coach, I managed not only 5km but also 10km! This year I want to get the 5km run down to 30 mins and for the 10km to be stronger and easier. I’m happiest exercising outside and it’s an easy activity to do when everything is shut.

Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

I’m also going to do something different in my lunch breaks with the help of a little book called Gone for Lunch: 52 Things to do in your Lunch Break as a way of showing myself some kindness. I’m also going to invest in my marriage with The Marriage Course and spend some time reading some parenting books.

Sadly, I never finished The Mirror and the Light last year. Reading a weighty tome about the downfall of Thomas Cromwell wasn’t what I needed during the stress and busyness of the first lockdown. It’s still sitting on my ‘to be read’ shelf and I like to think that I will finish it – maybe not this year though.

Ecological concern · nature

Moth Night

My wonderful husband made me a moth trap for my birthday (as requested!) mostly re-purposing bits of wood and using some egg boxes a neighbour no longer wanted (one of the good things to have come out of the pandemic is our road’s WhatsApp group where people often give away items).

Moth trap

Moth Night 2020 runs from 27th August to 29th August and so we used it last night for the first time. This morning I was surprised by how many moths were trapped but also disheartened as they all looked so similar. There are many more moth species than butterflies!

After looking through the Concise Guide to Moths and discovering the incredibly helpful What’s Flying Tonight? website, I had a good idea about some of them and then checked online with a Facebook group. Pleased that the ones I had identified, I had identified correctly, it was nice to know the names of the ones I had struggled with.

So we have: Square Spot Rustic, Large Yellow Underwing, Setaceous Hebrew Character, Pale Mottled Willow, Silver Y and Straw Underwing.

Our new wildflower area in our front garden is very popular with moths: mint moths during the day and I’ve spotted moths at night – just need to find out which ones now!

Wildflower Garden with mint moths
Wildflower Garden
allotment · Ecological concern · mental health · nature

Summer Harvest

I’ve not had the inclination, energy or time to write much here since the pandemic began. For weeks, I struggled to even read and reading for me is almost like breathing. Like many I was juggling work, homeschooling and housework. My experience was easier than for many as I did have childcare for most of my working hours (I’m a key worker) and Small Boy returned to school in mid-June. It was still incredibly challenging though and I need to reflect more on my personal coronavirus experience, especially the emotions: fear, anger, grief, loneliness, and a yearning to lament. At times, my mental health wasn’t great. I’ve isolated myself (more than was necessary!). There were some scary days.


Taking my daily nature photo was incredibly helpful, especially on days when I didn’t feel like it. Our garden, allotment and local nature reserve all provided solace, space and serenity.


So what’s been growing?

At the allotment, we’ve had courgettes (so many courgettes!), potatoes, onions, beetroot, radishes, spring onions, and four majestic sunflowers. Fruit trees have been planted but no fruit yet. Half of the plot is covered over and we hope by next spring to be able to make use of all our space.

At home, tomatoes and green beans are growing in our homemade wooden planters (and eaten daily) with pumpkins and squash looking good for an autumn harvest.

At the beginning of this year, Mr P began to remove all the concrete from one section of our front garden. A laborious process involving drilling and digging. Rubble collected and topsoil added, we planted some seeds for pollinators, added cuttings of californian poppies, alyssum, nasturtiums and lavender, and transferred some dahlias I’d planted from seed (as a lockdown activity). There is also Small Boy’s sunflower from Beavers (which elicited a wonderful conversation with the postman who proudly showed me a photo of his nephew’s lofty sunflower).


Our front garden (or at least this section of it) has been transformed from boring and barren to bright and buzzing with insects.

(Sadly, as we were adding soil, five other houses on our road were removing it and having new drives laid.)


If you’re interested in creating a wildlife garden, I’d recommend The Garden Jungle and Wildlife Gardening for Everyone and Everything.

I’m hoping the transformation process can be repeated in a different part next year!

30 Days Wild · haiku · nature

Haiku

Inspired by a walk the children and I took on Monday and my brief encounter with a butterfly on Tuesday, I had at go at writing haiku (as suggested in an email from the Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust).

Sitting by the pond.
Tadpoles swim, dragonflies speed.
Quick snacks for the ducks.

Pink blossom now brown.
Goose-grass crown stuck to my hair.
A sparkling moment.

Cow parsley flowers.
You run down the small green hill.
I am eight years old.

Secret wild meadow.
Branches and blossom our roof.
My ideal home – tea?

Holly blue, surprise!
Too fast for my camera.
Butterfly catcher.

Ecological concern · mental health · nature

Nature Photos 3

Each day during lockdown, I am aiming to take at least one nature photo (I think I have missed one day). We’ve noticed more avian activity in our garden over this last month: starlings, blue tits, robins, blackbirds, pigeons, magpies and goldfinches have all visited. I’ve also seen a few new-to-me species when out walking or running: chiffchaff, greenfinch, wren, mistle thrush and (new to Small Boy) a woodpecker. We’ve enjoyed finding tadpoles, butterflies, caterpillars, and seeing our first dragonfly of the year.

Here are some of my recent favourites either taken in our small garden or in the community where we live. Little legs can’t walk far!

Starling
Robin

I’m not finding lock-down easy but it’s easier because of the natural beauty around me.

Ecological concern · nature

A Surprise Visitor

A sparrowhawk landed in the garden this afternoon! She fleetingly sat on our pile of pallets (destined for the allotment) before disappearing. I read recently how an apex predator is a sign of a healthy ecosystem – it means there are enough plants for the caterpillars, enough caterpillars for the little birds, and enough little birds for the big bird. A friend had seen one in her nearby garden and I hoped I would too one day.

Image by rubep from Pixabay

books · Ecological concern · Ethical living · nature · Social justice

Train-bragging

Tagskryt, a Swedish word meaning ‘train-bragging‘, is my Word of the Month. Its contrasts with flygskam or “flight shame“. Here comes my tagskryt!

As the Pilgrim family travelled up to Edinburgh from London on the train, I wondered how different it would have been to have flown. Was the train quicker? Cheaper? Did it use less carbon? Was it less stressful?

Image by Michael Gaida from Pixabay

While a plane would have been faster (if we had got a taxi to the airport), it would have been more expensive. Little Miss Pilgrim would have needed a ticket on the plane but she can still travel for free on a train. We also have a family railcard which further brings down the price. Both train journeys were relatively easy with some stunning views of the east coast of the north of England, a lost tooth at Wolverhampton and time to read.

But in terms of carbon emissions, the train journey wins hand down. The Energy Saving Trust calculated and compared the carbon emissions for journeys from London to Edinburgh (based on a single person travelling); the plane was 144kg and the train 29kg.

I wrote last about my goals for 2020. I have started well with home-made flapjack as a snack with less plastic packaging (I couldn’t find demerara sugar in a non-plastic packet). I’m more of a domestic disaster than a domestic goddess and I was surprised that it turned out perfectly; I’ll attribute its success to my three (mostly enthusiastic) helpers!

I’ve finished Arthur Ransome’s Peter Duck and Winter Holiday, and am now onto Pigeon Post! A retreat to much-loved books of childhood.

Our county library service have impressed me with their range of books I can reserve, including The Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Sarah Bessey’s Field Notes Book Club’s book of the month), From What Is to What if by Rob Hopkins, the founder of the Transition Towns movement, and Allotment Month by Month.

I’ve also signed up for a 5km Cancer Research Race for Life in the summer so need to get running!

Image by MBatty from Pixabay