Sunday in the Garden with Plants

To top off my Sussex-y weekend (read part one here), I spent the morning in the greenhouse re-potting my seedlings. This is the stage where you wonder why on earth you’re reading my blog, and why someone under the age of 50 is willingly spending weekends wrist deep in soil.

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Bear with me, though. Really, it’s about balance. The past two months of working in London have brought with them many late nights, stupid cocktails, hectic weekends. I love going out, but I try to be sensible. The last thing I want to do is to burn myself out and have it impact at all on my job.

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So the past two weekends have been entirely home centric, and it’s done me a lot of good. If you don’t garden or grow things (snigger), you really should start. I probably sound like an utter lameo, but there’s something undeniably awesome about seeing a tiny seed turn into a whole plant! Perching in a warm greenhouse with rain lashing the windows was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday morning.

I tend to be drawn to growing herbs, fruit, veg and wildflowers. Mainly fruit and veg, because HELLO, food! Also, check my old lady jacket:

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Spending a morning potting up my tiny seedlings which I’ve grown from scratch was hugely pleasing – I re potted calendula, dill and rocket, and planted a strawberry plant.

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As ever, the most difficult part was getting my wellies off…

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Success!

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Weekends in the Country: Bateman’s

I’ve never appreciated living in Sussex quite as much as I am right now. Of course, during the week, it means I spend what feels like half my day on the train, but at the weekends…well, I’m more than grateful. We’re surrounded by endless fields that come alive in May with lush verdancy, complete with grazing cows and the odd chicken (sometimes the VERY odd chicken…) And of course, we’re in a National Trust hotspot, bordering with Kent. And so, Mama Simmons and I took off in the car for a country road trip.

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Sloping along the winding path through banks of wild flowers at Bateman’s, I stopped for a minute to feel the sun beating on my shoulders, and to breathe in the scent of a nearby azealia. I suddenly felt a million miles away from the dawdling, sweaty, claggy train journeys that bookmark my weekdays now. For those of you who haven’t been card carrying members of the National Trust since you were born (like me…), Bateman’s is Rudyard Kipling’s house, and boasts rolling lawns, overgrown meadows, a working mill, and the occasional friendly chicken.

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At this time of the year, the wisteria was in fine fettle, there was green as far as the eye could see, and lazy bees drifted through rustling trees.

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Ain’t nobody here but us chickens.  (and duck).

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Of course, a true middle-aged Saturday wouldn’t be complete without a visit to a garden centre. I got a bit overexcited. I’m going to be spending my Sunday morning planting up round carrots (wut!), purple cauliflower, strawberries and pineapple mint. PINEAPPLE MINT!

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Bottom line: the National Trust is ace. Find your nearest properties here , but I’d strongly recommend getting a membership card – a young persons card is £26 a year, and you really only need to visit three properties and it pays for itself!

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Sensible Shoe Day

I’d been plotting it for a while. I’d done my research, I’d made decisions, I knew what I was doing. It was finally the day to purchase my first pair of Hunter wellies. I’d been putting it off for ages, despite working my way through a few pairs of disastrously bad cheap wellies, and covetously eyeing up everyone else’s at Latitude last year. I think crisis point came when my friend India had dry and warm feet in her Hunters, while my cheap pair split in a few places on the second day, meaning I spent the majority of the time with miserable wet socks and wet feet. Splits aside, they were also heavy, bulky and uncomfortable.

Another big factor in my decision was my gradual turnaround of embracing living in the country. I grew up in Ascot in a house with a huge garden and an Anderson shelter that I used to explore. We also retained our house in Sussex, which is where I live now, and for years I was in denial. Despite a childhood of muddy walks on the downs, riding lessons, and holidays to Cornwall, I was resolutely NOT a country girl. I filled my wardrobe with ridiculous heels and silly dresses, turned up to country pubs in white jeans and silk peplum tops, and carved a reputation for always being overdressed and having no practical clothing whatsoever.

The thing is, I have loved growing up in the country. I’ve loved riding lessons, walks on the Ashdown forest, houses filled with dogs, cross country running, visiting National Trust properties. But during my teenager years I watched a bit too much Gossip Girl, and desperately wanted to be a city dweller. I spent heaps of time wandering along the South Bank, seeing French films at the BFI, buying art supplies in Soho. Then suddenly, something clicked. I wanted to walk through muddy fields, to sit in country pubs not wearing ludicrous clothes. I wanted wellies, I wanted a Barbour, I wanted to walk dogs. I renewed my National Trust membership.

So that’s the story of my love affair with the countryside. I may have left it alone for a few years, but I’ve come running back with my arms outstretched. My footwear had to follow suit, and I began to dream about the Hunters. I thought long and hard about colours, finishes, styles, and knew I wanted something subtle and classic. I knew the minute I stepped into Selfridges – matte black, stupidly comfortable, flattering, perfect for country walks. Sold. I’m madly in love with them, if a little worried about my new sensible shoe habit. And next, the Barbour.

My main purpose for being in London was to pop along to the Mizuno Performance Centre in the ginormous Centre Point building, for a seminar on their new ‘Be’ minimalist trainers. We were very kindly given free trainers; the Wave Rider 15 model. I’m currently training to run 10k, but have been doing it in the ratty old Nikes I’ve had since Year 10 at school. Yep, it’s a disgrace. The Wave Riders make it feel like I’m running on clouds. They’re wonderfully comfy, supportive, and also have these ace little breathable bits at the front, so when you run your feet feel really cool! I love them. My feet are bemused.

So that was my sensible shoe day! It feels a bit like going back to school and having to buy new kit for the term. Anyway, I’m off to try and find some puddles to jump in. Hooray!