What I Did On My Holidays

After the coldest winter in fifty years we are now having the warmest October. A mini-Summer during Spring. In slightly more northern states there has been a heat wave. Here in Tasmania we are merely gently thawing out, and cautiously exposing our alabaster limbs to the unaccustomed warmth and sunshine. After an insane week of cleaning last week, I spent the weekend quite unwell, and had to spend quite some time reading in the hammock to recover.

The old pear tree was in full, glorious bloom, and covered in hundreds of honey bees, several dozen tiny black native bees, which hover like dragonflies, and a solitary, rollicking bumblebee.

Despite wasting much time on the project, I could only manage a photo of a bee's backside. They were truly very, very busy.

So many lovely books, from a recent library raid. I won't bore you with them all, but - Elizabeth Gaskell! I haver never read anything of hers before, but have now remedied that. A contemporary and friend of both Dickens and Charlotte Bronte, her work reminds me most of the novels of George Eliot (Middlemarch, Daniel Deronda). I loved the novel North and South which lays bare some very entrenched prejudices of Victorian society, and has some salient points of view about modern relations between capital and labour as well. I also had a volume of her Gothic horror short stories, which were intriguing but not amazing, all except for the tale of Lois the Witch, set in Salem at the time of the witch trials, which was frighteningly modern in these days of religious extremism.

But it hasn't all been about lying about in the hammock. I have nagged and encouraged all the girls to clean and vacuum their rooms, and throw some things away. They have also washed their windows, taken all of the winter bedding off and washed it, and cleaned out their clothes cupboards. My room is now home to large piles of clothing that needs to be sorted. Hmm, that wasn't quite what I hoped would happen. I have mopped all the floors, and the only rooms left to spring clean are the bathrooms. I am waiting for Rosy to make good on her promise to climb up on the ladder and clean all the mould off the ceiling (yes, I will be paying her well..), then I will attack the lower reaches.

Then, there is the garden. Our cold, cold winter wreaked havoc with my poor lemon trees, so now that there is little chance of more frost I have been pruning off the dead branches. Luckily lemon trees adore a good pruning once in a while, and hopefully these will bounce back. Next, feeding them prodigiously. Lemons love to eat.

I have also been transplanting perennials around the front garden while it has been the correct phase of the moon for transplanting. Soon, I will be able to plant the spring garden, and in anticipation have been weeding, digging and feeding various promising patches of earth. Come this time next year I hope to have a whole garden full of raised beds for planting, but this year the great project is the Chicken Palace, which is close to completion..

So, over to you. Books? Projects? Who has been Spring/Fall cleaning?


Unknown said…
You have reminded me to feed the citrus. Reading on a hammock is my kind of holiday. :)
narf7 said…
Even ill and hammock bound you still managed to nail "doing something pleasurable". We spent the first week of the school holidays working studiously away at developing a website for the Launceston and Tamar Valley Tourism Association who are saying their Goodbye's to the umbrella of councils that they currently spread themselves across and are starting out on their own with a brand new site. Our class has to come up with ideas for a design for this new site and whilst it's a great project, we have 5 weeks left of our course (and a plethora of assessments) that we are also trying to thrash through so we decided to donate the first week of our school holidays to thrashing through this design concept.

Problem is that halfway through our lecturer sent us a "revise" and suddenly the project (that Steve had almost finished and I was halfway through) completely changed. :/ You can imagine how happy we were about that and so we have spent the rest of our holidays completely changing the designs that we originally came up with in the first week. Sometimes life throws you lemons and sometimes life throws you a hard winter that makes your lemons twitch and sometimes it throws you a long hot summer where your lemons are going to THRIVE with joy and the middle bit SUCKS but you keep going because that's where the magic happens, in the processes.

Today we are walking the dogs in Georgetown, spreading wheat straw thickly around the bases of all of our fruit trees and other shrubs inside the fence where the wallabies can't wallow in it and it will protect the tree roots from drying out. We have planted out 8 flats of veggie seedlings and will probably plant out 8 more (succession planting is my desire this year) on Sunday and gave away 50 pots of trees and plants that we were never going to plant out here, to someone who was looking for plants. We are using a basin in the kitchen sink and all of the water we generate is going onto the garden now. We are making ola's for Sanctuary so that my early morning summer watering is productive and I am not just feeding the clouds with evaporation. We mulched the raised beds heavily with wheat straw this year and when I was digging up little loquat seedlings to give to the lady who is planting out a new garden, I noticed that the soil was nice and damp under the straw when the uncovered soil in close proximity is starting to resemble my tea cup in ceramic hardness.

I can't wait till our holidays start this year so that we can get stuck into the real world and I won't have to think about coding or design for the duration :)
Judy said…
Well I realise that your favourite past time ill or not is reading. However your post title reminded me of a very funny film, which, if you haven't already seen it, will lift your spirits if you are still feeling under the weather (though in your case the weather sounds glorious, so not an apt expression!)

Actual film title is 'What we did on our holidays' starring Billy Connolly. For some reason adults find it very funny (because it is), but kids...er...don't. Mine were rather horrified, which just made me laugh even more (bad mother that I am) ;-)
gretchenjoanna said…
I love that picture of the bee on the pear blossom, and have added to my collection of bee pictures. Last week I decided to photograph one of my few sunflowers and was thrilled that a bee was working there the whole time I was also working on my task. I took a lot of pictures with both my camera and my phone, but the presence of the bee made it more of a challenge to choose which picture to keep, and he moved around all over the flower and some presentations were more flattering than others, in some I could see a wing, in others he was more of a blob... This is the first time I've take such a picture where the insect actually stayed around so long and most of the shots were not blurry!

I am also transplanting - today I'm moving some seedlings of green-and-leafies into the ground. It's great to live where I can have some hope of harvesting kale and collards all winter.

People are always recommending Elizabeth Gaskell and I haven't read a word by her. I appreciate your review, and will have to look into which book I might want to start with. My husband and I watched the movie of "North and South," but I might appreciate a more in-depth connection with that story.
Bek said…
Yes, Elizabeth Gaskell! Love it. I will now check out the gothic stories of hers, didn't know they existed. I have done no reading of late except train tickets and flight itinararies, so have nothing to contribute. Sorry.
Garden wise I'm really enjoying our mini summer, and am using it to get some seeds germinated, so yesterday I planted out corn, beetroot and carrots. Probably the wrong phase of the moon for such things but anyhoo.
Jo said…
Lynda, yes, feed that citrus! I haven't yet, but I am full of good intentions:)

Fran, what a disheartening way to proceed with a tough project:( But won't you be the clever one after you have wrestled your way through all of that..

Judy, hmm, movies. The problem with them is where do I find two spare hours? I mean, if I had two spare hours I would definitely be spending them reading..

Gretchen Joanna, so pleased you liked the bee picture. I was so cross that she wouldn't turn around and pose for me:) Another Gaskell novel I haven't read is 'Cranford' which I have seen referenced in so many places. I will hunt for that next.

Bek, yes, lots of Gaskell short stories on line. If you click on the 'Lois the Witch' link above it takes you straight to the story, also some more I haven't read. She wrote a lot of short stories for a magazine Dickens edited.

Have fun in the garden:) I am:)
Anonymous said…
OOh, citrus feeding time. I must inform the Gardener (aka Reg) - we have a couple of dwarf citrus trees on the go at the moment, one was looking a bit ill then it's gone berserky and has leaves everywhere. Hoping the possums aren't the reason why it lost all it's leaves because there's a fiesta there now!

Mould removal - I used the recommended method from Choice. It involved a lot of vinegar and I smelled like a chippy for a couple of days, but 2 1/2 years later - still no mould.
Jo said…
Leaves is a good sign:)

What is the Choice mould removal method? I have found well-diluted clove oil to be brilliant, but until now had never sent anyone up to the ceiling to apply it there (I am way too short, even with the step ladder). Child labour came through, and it looks sparkly now:)
will posy please come to my place after she has finished at yours? wow. I have no idea if I have mould on my ceiling. being short-sighted is a blessing.
I now feed my lemon trees once a month, after seeing an expert on gardening Australia recommend that.
Anonymous said…
It's this... Except because it was on a low ceiling, I just used a mop - one of those square squeeze-y ones - instead of a cloth because I'm not tall enough to do it without a ladder and the space was too low to do it *with* a ladder... (copied this from Choice)

How to use the diluted vinegar solution

Pour a concentration of 80% vinegar to 20% water into three buckets.
Grab a microfibre cloth, dip it into the first bucket, then use it for cleaning a patch of mould.
The same microfibre cloth should then be rinsed in the second bucket, then rinsed again in the third to ensure cross-contamination doesn't occur.
Microfibre cloths, which reach deep into tiny crevices and have a slight electric charge, can be bought cheaply and washed on a hot cycle in the washing machine with vinegar up to 100 times.
Using vinegar may leave streaks on surfaces, so further clean-up of those areas may be required for cosmetic purposes. In this instance, bleach can be used to remove discolouration.
Fernglade Farm said…
Hi Jo,

My you have been busy with your Spring clean! I was starting to feel like reaching for the hammock with a good book of course just to recover from reading about all of the work going on down there. :-)!

The heat wave was something else and after the cold - some of the citrus here was showing signs of frost damage too and in fact one or two that were transplanted for all sorts of reasons died in those frosts. Fortunately you didn't get the bushfire though... What's going on with the weather?

The photo of the bee was lovely and I'm sure she was working hard in your garden.

If I could dare recommend a book by an English Author: Annie Hawes entitled "Ripe for the Picking".

PS: Don't clean too much, you're starting to make me feel slightly guilty! :-)!


Anonymous said…
I was on another blogging hiatus -,read too busy with work things.

Hope you are feeling better. I second clove oil diluted for mound. Not that I use it but Shannon Lush recommends int. I tried it once but - oops - I diluted it at ten times the recommended dilution. Didn't read properly. Smelt very strongly of cloves for months.

Popular Posts