Another life?

Sue Blacker's picture
6 October, 2014 - 10:33 | Sue Blacker

What is she up to now?  Does she have a life?

Aha! Yes!  Here are a few snippets from my life … that is to say, my life not in wool and yarns!

A major change ...

In the last month I have metamorphosed from a big silver truck lady to a little white van lady. 

This is due to the sad demise, due to over-heating after a fan-belt snapped and blocked the cooling system pump, of my beloved Mitsubishi L200 pickup truck.  It was my second and served me incredibly well for 140,000 miles over 6 years.  It was comfortable, felt safe, and did everything I ever asked of it so I would recommend them to anyone.  However, the fuel consumption, insurance and road tax are quite high and so is the tailgate, while the interior is actually less roomy than the little Citroen Berlingo which is the successor.  The little white van is 10 years old, the same age as the truck, but has only 50,000 miles on its clock so far, so is pretty much run in as a diesel and should suit me well, more cheaply and nearly as comfortably for a few thousand miles.

Living in Cornwall, working some distance from home and travelling for Blacker Sheep clocks up a few miles … so I have “moved in” and installed the office, shed, and veterinary functions, so it’s already feeling quite homely.  And now has a Wool Campaign sticker on the back window too!


Garden wildlife

Running a business does not leave much time for gardening and anyway my gardening philosophy is somewhat lackadaisical.  My plants need to survive with both too much water when it rains, which it does quite a lot in Cornwall and also sometimes too little if I am away.  They need to be perennials, because life is much too short for annuals, seedlings, pricking out, etc. – I leave all that to my most capable sister who not only does her own and neighbour’s garden but also two allotments and both permitted and guerrilla gardening in the surrounding streets.

So our “front garden” is a wild flower meadow (pictured above) which also has an increasing number of shrubs (people persist in giving me these!), a graceful Amelanchior and two sturdy family fruit trees.  This means we get a growing number and variety of apples and pears each year and beautiful blossom in spring.  All I need to do is get Denzil from Mow a Meadow once a year to strim off all the dead grass and flowers once they have seeded and personally de-select some of the less virtuous plants, such as nettles, dock, ragwort and brambles, which takes around 2 hours a year.   The neighbours and some of my family regard this as a weed patch, of course ...

The “back garden” has paths, a terraced area, a pebbled area and a raised bed with shrubs and (perennial) herbs, together with the only truly essential plant for me: a goodly row of raspberry canes.  Here again it’s pretty much an occasional de-selection job, here also with the wild cress and willow-herb, plus a serious annual hedge trim – our back hedge is a Cornish hedge of a bank with trees, including hazel (mostly), ash, elder, ivy and the honeysuckle, clematis, and jasmine which I planted to add colour over the hazel.  This annual hair-cut has just been completed, which is why I am writing about my garden!

I am proud to announce that we are hosts to part of the local colony of stick insects, one of several in Cornwall.  One emerged nonchalantly from the large pile of branches and cuttings and marched over to the raised bed where it installed itself on the marjoram.  So I took a picture, then checked online that it was indeed a stick insect, and sent off information on the siting to the collector of stick insect data, whose contact details (naturally!) were part of the list of links when I searched for stick insects online.

I hope to see another next year, but meanwhile I also now know what to look for should I wish to find any between now and then!


A holiday

Yes, we also have holidays!  These blog items (well a busman’s holiday, I guess) are being written in an old manor house on the south-western coast of Sicily and we saw the astounding mosaics at the Roman villa Casale yesterday.  So here is a picture of a small part – rather useful for a colour-work design perhaps … And today we shall see Greek temples.

However, meanwhile here is the entrance to the courtyard at our holiday home, along with the altogether amazingly impressive lower (yes there is an upper one as well!) entrance hall of Milan Central railway station (we came by train, all the way from Par to Messina, which took two days but has a few more tunnels that ideal in terms of countryside viewing).

And while today is gloriously sunny, here is also a picture of the rain the day before yesterday, which, as all Monalbano fans know, does happen in Sicily.  The table is not blistered – it’s great big, fat, heavy, splashy raindrops!

I shall not spoil things by showing the pictures of the cats and dogs lazing in the shade on the courtyard, the old roof tiles on the self-catering apartments or the coolly shaded and shuttered high interior rooms … that’s for the imagination of the reader and our own enjoyment!  And anyway you can see it on the Fatte Mose website.

The very nice thing is that, although, as Chiara says, there are not many sheep in Sicily, we are staying with the sister of a friend of over 40 years, Simonetta (you can read her book The Almond Picker, to get a good picture of Sicily during the last century).  Chiara has achieved an agri-turismo renovation of the old family home to enable it to continue to provide shelter, good food and to grow olives, pistachios, almonds and her own vegetables.

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