Finding flowers a new home

I’ve been promising myself Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging) lessons for a few months and I finally got round to booking a course of six via Zoom.

I’d watched a couple of videos by Junko on YouTube and decided to contact her.

She is now back in Japan after living and teaching in London.

She’s been practicing the Ikenobo form of Ikebana since her teens.

I ordered a couple of large white chrysanthemums and some much smaller purple ones from the local florist.

I cut some variegated willow from the garden – along with some other stuff that I didn’t end up using.

The lesson went really well. I’d bought a kenzan (the steel pin flower holder) and used a wide bowl as my vase.

I followed Junko’s instructions and was very content with the result.

During the lesson Junko-sensei said a couple of things that made an impression on me.

You have to talk to the flowers and plant material as if they are human beings.

You must ask them where and how they’d like to be arranged.

They all have a shady and a sunny side.

And your job is to find them a new home!









Merry Christmas

I’m cheating this year and sending you all my love and best wishes via this blog post.

I’m afraid I didn’t get round to cards.

But I received some stunning handmade ones as well as some others that are beautiful and adorning the shelves in our kitchen.

The recent news that we are back in full lockdown has made this Christmas seem grim but knowing that you are thinking of us and we of you is uplifting.

Thanks for reading my blog and encouraging me to continue.

So far my best and surprise Christmas present is a new pair of boots sent to me for free by Blundstones after the soles on my previous ones disintegrated.

I’m almost as excited by the box they came in which will serve very well as a container for all my seeds!

As I write on Christmas Eve afternoon I’ve just had my first mulberry vodka and tonic! Hic!

Cheers! And I hope we can meet in 2021!

Love Cath xxx








I tied up some herbs into little posies and put them out the front of the house today.

I didn’t want to waste the bay leaves from the prunings of a couple of weeks ago.

I’ve had one taker so far…a dog walker who was in a real strop with her canine because he’d just rolled in some manure!

We joked that it could be a nosegay to keep the smell away until she got home!!




Building a Dead Hedge

This forgotten corner of the garden has been nagging away at me for ages.

What should we do to make it deer proof?

I was all set to plant some hedging…I had some sort of prickly saplings to go in and then I changed my mind.

I remembered making a wildlife friendly hedge-cum-barrier when I used to volunteer at a community garden.

It’s called a Fedge and is usually made with willow cuttings.

We didn’t have any so we improvised.

Alex and I created it out of two rows of 1.5m stakes diagonally staggered with a 60cm gap between them.

The stakes were a metre apart.

After banging those in with a mallet we filled the gap with dead wood and freshly pruned buddleia branches to create a wildlife friendly barrier, treading them down initially to create a firm base.

We moved a pile of old apple and pear prunings and used them.

But then we started running out of material.

I happened to see piles of woody debris in the paddock next door and phoned the owner who said he’d be delighted for us to use them as he was only going to burn them.

How fortuitous.

Here’s a little video of me at the beginning of the project.

It only took two of us half a day to complete!

This dead hedge is a superb way of composting material that is too big for a conventional heap or shredder.

It’s also a green alternative to burning debris or making numerous journeys to the tip or local dump.


Pilates and My Recovery

I just thought I’d share how much Pilates has helped me over the past year.

I’d practised yoga before my secondary cancer diagnosis and hip replacement.

But my yoga teacher had retired and I was keen to find a form of exercise and physio that would take into account the operation and the limited mobility it had left me with on my right side.

My friend, Al, who’s done Pilates for years recommended it and I remembered reading about “Pink Ribbon” Pilates instructors who’ve trained in helping cancer survivors.

Pilates teacher, Christina Fulcher

I tracked down Christina Fulcher, who has a studio in Norwich, and started hour long sessions twice a week with her.

Here’s a link to her website.

More recently, due to Covid, we’ve been working together on Zoom.

When I first visited her a year ago, four months post-op, I wasn’t even sure about lying on the floor and getting up again.


Great rehabilitation tool

I had a Blue Badge so I could park easily and close to where I wanted to go and I couldn’t cycle or garden.

I was lacking in confidence; physically and mentally.

Fast forward to the present and both of us are amazed at the progress I’ve made.

I can get up and down from the floor easily.

I’m much stronger and I’ve come to know my body and my limits and how far I can push myself – most of the time!

The other day I found myself walking round Strumpshaw Fen with a friend and before I realised it I’d covered twice the distance I’d done the last time.

I’m also able to cycle to the doctors a couple of miles away.

Pilates has been a great rehabilitation tool for me.

I love it!