Beach Hut Boost!

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Our pale, blue haven “Forget-me-Not” 399 Eastcliff, Walton-on-the-Naze

I am greeting this blog like a long-lost friend at a reunion this evening: I have reason to celebrate, but it also feels a bit odd and like my past has possibly come to bite me on the bum.

It has been a really long time since my last post on Beach Hut Blogger – as many of you know – I began The Happy Hire Company as a result of the musings and deliberations on this blog page, you could say one made way for the other and then the new brain-child took over.  Much like with siblings, The Happy Hire Company grew and stole all of the attention, whilst, like a jealous older-child, this blog sulked in the corner for a while.

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Really not sure about the new addition…

Indeed, The Happy Hire Company has soaked up all of my beach hut thought-time and left nothing over for this little page.

I confess, I also began to shy away from sharing thoughts about life in general as it can feel a bit odd and lead to a stunting of ‘real-life’ conversations.  Nothing throws a spanner in quite like, “yeah I read it in your blog.” Whistles. I did also FEEL like a bit of a spanner at times, things I shared one day would make me cringe the next. We don’t stay the same, we grow and change and written word has an unforgiving permanence. Much like Facebook, once you have the bastard thing, there’s no getting rid of what you’ve put out there, even if you delete it, it comes back and remembers it ALL!

Anyway, the long and the short of it is: blogging’s a bit weird, narcissistic and unnatural at times  – but I hadn’t fully given up on why I first started it…

I wanted to write.  I lost the urge to write on the blog for a catharsis, as I found time to launch myself into writing fiction, for real, and privately.  There is a deliciousness to writing without anyone to read it, judge or criticise or simply ‘not get it.’ I can be free and explorative and enjoy (slightly wanky statement alert) the art of it all. The purpose, eventually, when I am bold enough, will be to send it to a proper literary agent and publisher-type person. Right now, I am back to waffling on this blog – but for very good reason!

WE made the shortlist for the Top 10 beach huts of the year 2017! Our little Forget-Me-Not, that started this, has made the shortlist! It is a national competition by Towergate Insurance in conjunction with The Sunday Times  -and I am really proud to have made the cut as there are so many beautiful beach huts around, with owners that have fantastic stories.

The stories are the first thing I skip to, whilst you might think it’s the bunting and bric-brac that catches my attention, it’s the people in the huts that fascinate me.

People buy beach huts for lots of reasons.  Rest assured these are not for the faint- hearted.  They are expensive and make no logical sense at all!  They are essentially over-priced sheds located in the place most likely on the globe to erode a shed.  They need maintenance EVERY year almost, and are effectively grown-up Wendy Houses!  So, for someone to part with hard-earned cash for this slightly-bonkers purchase there has to be a special reason. Plus, some have been in families for generations and this tells a story in itself.

Our story is documented in this blog in one of my early posts.  It is also briefly outlined in the competiton link.

Let me tell you some of the story that hasn’t been told.

Nobody can prepare you for a baby, and definitely not two, now, we had a beautiful first year with my gorgeous Grace…

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Feeling very fortunate…

– but I did not expect to be in surgery, twice, with a very small baby.  Grace was born requiring plastic surgery on her hands and feet under general anaesthetic, so they could remodel them to fit her shoes and for her to be able to grab and handle objects as she grew.  Nobody would ever know to look at her beautiful hands and feet now that a small team of plastic surgeons had sculpted those perfect little bones at just a few months old.

Any parent who has left their crying child with an anaesthetist and done that bleakest of walks back to the ward will tell you that it is a devastating feeling that you never truly recover from.  Now, Grace had relatively minor surgery compared with the life-saving surgeries performed on a daily basis by our completely amazing NHS and believe me when I say I am grateful daily – indeed many people around us don’t even know she had surgery as I have never desired to make more of it than it was.  But.  When I look back on those first blog posts and think of the time we bought that beach hut, after her first year with us, I can see a correlation that I can only see now that I am having this reunion and like a picture on a jigsaw puzzle, it can only be viewed once the pieces start to fit together and it is formed.

 

I was recovering from a deep wound of my baby being handled and injected and medicated and left by me, albeit I did it for her own good, and we have had a very easy time compared to many, but I know why I bought that hut, why,  as it says in that blurb for the competition that I may have, in part, ‘struggled to settle into family life.’  I know why it took me a really long time to settle my soul and feel an inner peace I had previously known.  I needed a beach hut to escape to because it was a place that I could gather myself and reflect and be as near to the sea as I could possibly get.  The healing, restorative, cleansing sea.  I wrote of waves crashing and peace dripping in my first blog posts.  I now look back and can see what I was seeking and can gladly can say I found it.  But not at a beach hut.  The beach hut helped. It was a boost. Truly though, nothing actually heals pain externally of ourselves. No car, house, holiday, book or guru would work.  I had and still do try and find answers outside of myself and this doesn’t work.  It may temporarily  – but it doesn’t really.  The answer, as the oh-so-wise ‘Moana of Disney’ says, is inside me – and I realised that ‘still, small voice’ was just a bit louder by the sea that’s all.

Now,  I know, I can access that still, small voice anywhere I want and I can access peace in any circumstances… N.B except the school-run and when the kids argue, as they are the last bastions of hell as all mothers know.

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No problem with these jazz hands – and feet!

As for the reunion.  Well, it’s felt quite nice.  Remembering the boost the beach hut gave us, how far we’ve come as a little family -and for me as an individual -how one little, blue beach hut and a tentative blog, gave rise to a new career- of sorts – and an income- of sorts -but most importantly finding what makes my heart actually sing, which is what I set out to do and have found, though this will most likely come back and bite me on the bum at the next reunion.

We really shouldn’t leave it so long!!

 

You can vote for our beach hut to win the competition and – if I do -I get to meet that smooth operator, Phil Spencer, from Location, Location,Location, so please nominate us by clicking this link below and voting for ‘Forget-me-Not’ beach hut Eastcliff Walton-on-the-Naze…

https://www.towergateinsurance.co.uk/home-and-property-insurance/beach-hut-of-the-year 

 

 

 

A gardening post…on why Hellebores maketh the gardener…and my butt. 

My favourite clump!

You know those first forms and applications at school that ask for your interests/hobbies?  I used to dread them- as I knew I didn’t have any. I just wrote swimming-every time- yet could only do a length. I think I felt hobbies were for older people – and socialising is your main priority at that age anyway. Interests develop as the years go on and I am happy to be in a kind of personal ‘renaissance’.  I am discovering so many things I enjoy doing and can throw creative energy into.

My mum has a beautiful garden.  I grew up hearing all of the names of plants, shrubs and flowers and I was reliant on her when I had to put in or take anything out of the ground, so much so, it was ‘her thing’ not mine -in my head- but nevertheless- I spent hours discussing design and plants and gazed out often, making corrections in my mind’s-eye.

Like many people, my interest really grew when I bought my first and then subsequent home with a ‘proper’ garden. I was forced into a position of ‘doing something’ with this outside space and, in the process, fell in love.

As I said, I was always interested, i’d taken countless trips to RHS gardens and spent hours listening and participating in plant-talk with my parents and I would watch Gardeners World, (it was after university, I was friendless, what can I say).  I felt I wasn’t the target market for it all though. I was stepping out of my territory and into my parents’.

I half expected groups of silver-haired heavies to show up at my door demanding that I stay off their turf.

But then…I found I was starting to develop a genuine interest ‘for myself’, I found out things, as I bought my plants, I somehow kept bumping into my kin, people of all types, all ages and backgrounds/professions who were into horticulture- in particular -creating beauty through plants, shrubs and flowers or turning their hands to a spot of pottage and growing vegetables and fruit. I learnt of some quite rock n’ roll gardeners out there-  members of various bands and so on. Did you know there isn’t actually an age restriction on plants!?

It’s interesting now to me that I hid this interest – even from myself.  I see prejudice often. Many people perceive it to be an older persons’ pursuit and even refer to it as something you do when you don’t have anything much else going on- gardening leave. I beg to differ. It is the perfect antidote when you are frazzled and barely have any time! It is the ultimate stress reliever – and works you as hard as any gym.

You won’t always feel like going out there, it won’t seem appealing and then after 10 minutes of your hands involved with some plant or shrub, pruning, planting, sowing or just tidying it all up, it works on you- like magic. It’s meditative and distracting. It consumes you and you feel healthier and more alive each minute you are there. I maintain that it is something to do with how we ‘should be’- it’s our natural state to work the earth. I’m of Irish descent and so I think it’s in my blood to work the land! It just feels right and I’m very at home when I’m in a garden.

I heard someone say on a gardening show that it’s the antithesis of our modern, busy, gotta ‘have-it now’ culture and mentality.  It takes time, you see your results, but slowly and gradually.

I’m not a tidy gardener and so I think this helps. I think people who buy leaf-blowers are probably nuts. I don’t pick weeds out of my lawn or sculpt-out perfect lines. I like a natural set up, it has to feel like you’ve stepped into nature for me-not a glossy magazine. I like spontaneous clumps of daffodils; random bulbs popping up between the shrubs; unmarked borders and rocks covered in moss- flanked by ferns and heather. But there’s room for everyone’s tastes. There aren’t any rules!

Pulmonaria

Something happened to me though- in terms of my gardening ‘plant age’. I think we all have one of these. I started out loving Azalea and Rhododendron and admiring those summery, bright, in- your-face blooms, but then I started to grow a little in my understanding of how an outside space develops and got a yearning for ‘year round’ beauty, the timeless elegance of Wisteria still captivated my imagination but the subtlety of Pulmonaria, Snowdrops and Hellebores started to work on me. The spring-garden started to have a bigger effect on my thinking. Your garden is not just for summer -it is for life 🙂

Heather

I remember the turning point. The Hellebores.  They are sometimes nicknamed the ‘Winter Rose’  because err they come up in winter – and what a serious bonus! The dark, green foliage fans out into rich stars and the flowers are little nodding heads of loveliness. I had seen them many times but couldn’t understand the fuss.  They weren’t big and blousy, they had very little in the way of attitude, they weren’t going to stop you in your tracks.  Ahh how wrong I was.

Hellebores – lime-green lovliness

You see, at the time of year they come into their full, beautiful best, there has been little else out in the garden and so on a number of levels they are a wonderful tonic.

You have been starved of colour, apart from the odd winter Jasmine, Dogwood or Viburnham (Daphne is winter-flowering) , the Daffodils might be appearing, just, and then there are the Hellebores.  Giving it the big I AM.  They are varied in colour but yet have those old-fashioned hues.  Mine ‘pop’ in their lime-fullness and then I have a few younger ones nodding happily in their richer, ‘vintage’, pinky, reds.  I have a lot to thank them for.

Hellebore -in my garden today! Isn’t it just a beauty!

They made me a gardener.  They made me see something about gardening I didn’t see before.  They are also like a little secret that other gardeners know about.  Chances are if you have taken an interest in Hellebores you are a gardener.

Hellebore – bought at a boot sale for 20p
Hellebore -another boot sale seedling

The great thing is there is no end-point in gardening.  It is ongoing and that’s what makes it so relaxing. You never know it all and it doesn’t matter anyway.  You try things, you learn things, you develop your tastes.

It works well with children   -ish.  They like to be out there with me and we all get some fresh air, which is never a bad thing.  They do of course use my newly-formed arch, smothered in Clematis Montana (though not in flower yet) as a football goal -but I accept the fact that family life has to fit in with our surroundings and vice-versa.

arch- Clematis Montana – will show it in flower later… plus football
little “helper”

One addition to your garden, I would recommend, to avoid lugging water-vessels around your garden in the hot-summer months, is a water butt.

my butt

Not only do some plants prefer rain water, like Camellia, it is a great way to use water in an environmentally friendly way and useful if there’s a hose-pipe ban.  My husband put it together and we use it a lot, the children can work the tap (has advantages and disadvantages there!) and it gives me that same feeling as when I re-use my carrier bags, one smug-saving-the-planet point to me. It is also the source of some infantile humour in my house: “have you see my butt?” , “your butt looks leaky”, “my butts full’  etc etc…

Whilst I know I probably lost many readers at the line, ‘I watch Gardeners World’, if you have gotten this far, I thank you, and welcome your pictures / gardening anecdotes and comments.
…and compliments on my butt gratefully received.

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