Nora and I walk twice a day, every day, so once a week I try and go a little further afield and discover somewhere a bit new to entertain us. A couple of weeks ago we went to Petersham, just down the hill from Richmond.

Thames Path signpost

dog walking along riverbank

It wasn’t a very nice day and we got a bit wet but still managed to walk for an hour or so along the Thames Path to Ham House. Then Nora ran off and stuck her head into a bucket of curry that someone had left by a bin. Leftovers from a picnic, I think.

Ham House

I really wanted to go to Petersham Nurseries Cafe but it’s shut on Mondays. We made do with wandering around the nursery which is really prettily arranged to show off what they sell.

flowers in Petersham Nurseries

Petersham Nurseries bench

Petersham Nurseries

Petersham is an exclusive area full of Georgian houses which feels a little like a timewarp with even a ferry (hail by shouting across the river) to take people over to Twickenham. However, even if I could afford to, I wouldn’t want to live quite so close to the river though with flooding so prevalent these days. Makes for a lovely walk though.

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Cottage doorway through hedge

So, the autumn equinox came and went, and I missed sowing my Higgledy Garden seeds on time. But the weather has been really warm here, even in the hills, so I sowed them about a week late.

I did a little planning this time and put the taller ones at the back and sowed them in rows within patches rather than just in straight rows. I hope this makes the beds even prettier.

Envelopes of seeds on a table

Planning is the point where I usually get a bit stressed and I need to remember that nature is pretty forgiving. The main thing for me is to make a diagram of what I sow, so that I can recognise and name what develops next year. I did this in the company of the final vase of last year’s Higgledy seed purchase which I sowed in spring. That’s inspiration enough.

vase of flowersI mentioned that it’s been warm. Well, the seeds are up already…

Sprouting seeds

Autumn leaves

At this time of year the garden is quietening down but that doesn’t mean there’s any less work to do. The hedges and grass aren’t growing as fast but the blustery wind over the last couple of days has ensured that there are plenty of leaves for me to sweep up. This is a place where you do outside work when it’s dry so Nora and I were kept busy for the whole morning. The compost heap is growing even if not much else is.

dog on unswept grass

piles of swept leaves

Basket of swept leaves

Despite the waning of the growing season, there is still some colour around with a blowsy old hydrangea, two fuchsias (one pale pink and one a typical ‘fuchsia’-coloured one that has recovered its health since being on its last legs a few years ago) and some nerines blooming away. Hats off again to my predecessor here who picked such well-matched plants.

Fuchsia and nerines

I also pruned the blackthorn that seems determined to recolonise the area by the woodshed. It’s so much stronger than the hawthorn and cotoneaster which I would rather see thrive there, but which are stunted by comparison.

Blackthorn thorn on a glove

Another reason I’m not well-disposed towards the blackthorn – although I do love sloes, as do the birds – is because its thorns are brutal. This one went straight through the sole of my wellington boot and into my big toe. Luckily it was a youngish slightly bendy one, so I didn’t have to cut the boot off my foot to remove it. And good that it got me rather than Nora, which would have meant a big vet’s bill.

You might well ask why this blog is called Spring Cottage when I never seem to write about the cottage anymore. I suppose I don’t feel like I’ve got anything very new to say about life here. After more than five years, more or less the same things have been happening.

external door mid-repair

The outside of the house was painted a bit – I didn’t go the whole hog this time – just a few windows and doors that were in poor condition after last winter. I’ve chosen a slightly bluer colour for the doors, so that the house looks slightly less like a Battenberg cake. Slightly.

lime mortar rendering

While there was a long ladder on the premises, I experimented with making up a bit of lime mortar and repaired some of the rendering. I’d had a quote in five figures to do the whole house from a company that didn’t seem interested in coming just to patch things up. I had some lime and sand in the shed so I thought I’d have a go myself. It seems to have worked pretty well. A purist would probably object to my technique (rubber gloves and squish on with fingers) but fortunately the cottage isn’t listed, so it doesn’t matter. It looks tons better now that it’s done and I’ve repainted it. Let’s hope it will also keep the water out.

Dog looking at an old bird house

The old bird house fell out of the tree, or rather, Don the painter took it upon himself to take it down it because he thought it might fall on his head. He possibly didn’t notice that it was firmly secured with a wire tie. Pity.

wasps nest in a bird box

He also decided to prod the wasps’ nest with a screwdriver and destroyed the outside of it (the wasps had already left). I was crosser about this than about the bird house, as I’d been looking forward to taking it apart carefully to look at the structure. But you can just about see the little chambers inside through the hole in the front. I should have had the wasps removed by the local bee people as they apparently eat bees but I didn’t know that while they were in situ. My bad.

vines

After a wet spring and a hot summer, the vine in the back garden had more grapes on than ever before. I think it’s just an ornamental one so these aren’t going to be edible but they’re pretty and provide food for the birds. I have to keep Nora away from them though, as grapes and raisins are poisonous to most dogs.

black labrador sleeping in long grass

Speaking of Nora, here she is snoozing in the warm September sun.

cobwebs in a hedge

dog on heathland

Now, after an extended Indian summer, the weather has finally started to turn and things are looking more autumnal. I’m writing this with the wind blustering down the chimney, lightning flashing, thunder rumbling and rain pattering against the windows. Nora hasn’t stirred.

Business as usual.

While in the Blue Mountains, we drove about a bit and came across the pretty little town of Leura. Like many smaller places in New South Wales, the town looks mainly wooden-built. The original development seems to have been mainly between 1915 and 1940 and there is, of course, newer construction on the perimeter.

It’s a lovely little place with many shops that would have been interesting to have a proper look at, but as we got there rather late in the day, we had to make do with window-shopping. My purse thought that was a good thing though.

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Sydney Harbour is so vast and has so many bays that the seafront is miles and miles long and stretches from the city into the far distant suburbs. There are cliffs, woodland areas and parks, as well as wharves and industry, although less and less of the latter. We came upon water almost everywhere we went and here are a few of my impressions.

beach 4

beach 1

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beach 2 beach 3  beach 5 beach 6

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beach foot

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I hope people will not mind the lack of words. I seem to have few of them at the moment.

Well, it’s been a while. For some reason, it’s been difficult to get back into the groove of blogging after my trip to Sydney to see the Boy.

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My impressions were too many to record here and also, I’m aware that I only visited a small part of a vast country. But here are some pictures of our time there.

Sydney –

Sydney Opera House

The wine growing region of the Hunter Valley –

crepuscular rays

Look closely and you’ll see some kangaroos grazing on the grass in the early morning.

Kangaroos in Hunter Valley

The evenings were just as beautiful, looking out over the darkening landscape.

Hunter Valley evening sky

The Blue Mountains –

road in the Blue Mountains

Gum tree up close

I’ve never seen so many trees (or so much fog or so many Art Deco buildings).

Blue Mountain lookout with waterfall

There were many reminders of the old country:

cake shop window

Back near Sydney: Palm Beach, where the TV soap Home and Away is filmed.

Palm Beach

I think this was a different Sydney beach. I slightly lost track of them all.

beach

And of course, Sydney Opera House: a little smaller than expected, with an extraordinary tiled roof that is simultaneously totally commonplace close-to and utterly spectacular at a distance.

Sydney Opera House at night

Normal service will be resumed shortly.

 

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