Thursday 11 December 2008

Pressing Merrily On

It was an easy mistake to make. Especially at a time like this, Christmas coming, credit crunch munching, hair growing - longer and longer -

I mean anyone with as rambling a hairstyle as mine, anyone as short of time and cash, anyone feeling as unduly accomplished with their pruning shears as me - anyone could have made the very same mistake...

Couldn't they?

Have given themselves a full Milly-Molly-Mandy haircut I mean. 
In their middle years.

One minute I was peering happily into the bathroom mirror, snip, snip, humming softly, feeling pleased, thinking - crikey, I  can't really focus so well up close any more... ah well, never mind, press on.... hum, hum, snip, snip -

and the next minute as I laid down the scissors - ta dah!!  There she was in the mirror, peering back at me, a little older than I recall -

Oh no...




It has taken an eternity
and a magnifying glass
to get it all,
to normal....

Yet I have!!

Ok, I exaggerate a little,
but only, I regret to say,
a tad...

Saturday 1 November 2008


"In preparing the soil for planting, you will need several tools. Dynamite would be a beautiful thing to use, but it would have a tendency to get the dirt into the front-hall and track up the stairs"
(Robert Benchley)

Exactly! This month, to my great relief, my creaking knees have shaped up nicely after digging out a patio. I'm proud of them. Sadly, my wrists have slightly let the side down and gone all tired and spindly, after carrying away the top soil and bringing in the stone. Ah well.

Still, my mother, bless her, has kitted me out most thoughtfully with knee pads and wrist supports. And so, fork and trowel in hand, I look much like a 44 year old mutant ninja turtle, on my way to work each day... But they are helping, I'm strong again. And I'm not complaining, or muttering... about trusses! I'm grinning!

There is so very little time to blog these days. Right now I really ought to be revising the properties of soil (for an evening class exam), or making a trolley dash in Asda, or tackling the plastic toy mountain that has all but engulfed small son's room, or or cleansing and polishing something...

But... I'm here instead. And soon I will be visiting you dear reader! Er, if I have any readers left that is. (Iota, see, I paid attention!!)

This blogging - this tiny first person broadcast - newsletter - ranting space - corner for a giggle - cyber cat-flap into personal space - who knows what this is. But it's great fun and it works. You make a place, express yourself and find friends all over the world. What could be better!

I'm no good at telling the truth in my blog. I would rather extract my eyeballs than talk about my real daily life. I mean it. Well, everything I have ever said here is true, particularly the chocolate bits, but I have left an awful lot out this last year. It's been busy.

And now, roughly since I started blogging, a year and a half ago -
I, Merry Weather,
have proudly given birth to an elephant...

No, no, of course not!! I have done something else altogether. I have let go of being Mrs No-One and become Myself: independent, happy-hearted, hard-working, one day at a time, devoted mother of three me...

And there've been crappy times, sure. But there's been a lot to be glad about:
I found the right work, I know I can provide for my kids, I'm strong, I've made all sorts of new friends, I bob along surviving - and I'm so happy for that.

Um, seasonal stuff!

Sunday 5 October 2008

Reasons To Be Cheerful!

Ian Dury. A man for all seasons - cheeky, clever, gifted. The world's a poorer place without him. I've been listening to his music again lately. And again! It doesn't date, quite brilliant.

I haven't blogged for a while - real life can get in the way of blogging don't you find? In a good way though. I'm a darn sight more cheerful than I was last October. My mid-life crisis, useful in many ways, has done it's job and is now mentally filed under "completed" in my head. I have emerged from it feeling - younger! Happier! Well, I lie, not counting my knees... my knees are not speaking to me at the moment. They creak horribly... and ache sometimes, a bit. It's working outdoors that does it. Still, I'm hopeful they'll come up to speed with the rest of me early in the New Year... It's that or surgery!!

(I exaggerate Mum... Really!)

Things that make me cheerful now include:
  • the Indian Summer we just had
  • Working hard and earning real Cash
  • my Kids - growing up stronger, getting on together, playing chess and poker (thanks Mum!)
  • Being myself - independent, confident...
  • my beloved Van
  • Having 200% more energy than 10 years ago *
  • Friends - who make me laugh and more besides...

And so on, so forth. Carpe Diem!

* By the way, Merry Weather is powered by Cadbury's Crunchie bars most days... Hey, I wonder if they'd sponsor me?

Friday 8 August 2008


Off on holiday - all aboard the skylark -

Here is my packing list so far:
30 pairs of socks and underpants
1 full jar of travel sickness pills
1 complete set of Pixar DVDs
Most important of all - 1 in-car DVD player (best money I have ever ever spent)

I've double locked and fondly patted my gardening van at least twenty times and soon we're off on holiday to France. For a grand family reunion. Yippee. Ten days in an historic manoir with all the long-lost, far-flung relations - I can hardly wait!

Well, not quite true, I can wait a bit. It's no good if there's nothing to worry about...I am slightly worried about getting out of England. This is because my dear old dad - the senior organiser - has somehow accidentally nominated middle son, aged 10, as our entire group leader with Brittany Ferries. Yes. Although he is tall and willing, I fear he may have trouble driving the cars into the hold... Hey ho, don't sweat the small stuff I say! Everything will be great.

It'll bear no relation to this journey of course - Doris Day/Calamity Jane - ah - just caught my fancy. En passant, you know :)

Happy Holidays to All!!

Monday 14 July 2008

Too Many Whys And Not Enough Zzzzs

At work, as a gardener, they call me the land girl. You know, the wartime women workers thing. This is because I look eager, wear boots, trot about smartish and smile a lot. Apparently. Well everyone else has a name and I don't mind - it could be worse! Actually, being called girl is in itself rather charming, I am 44 after all.

And I have two jobs now, one on a farm and the other as a landscaper. I have recently bought my own van! A nice green one to carry a mower and tools. Plus a maximum of two children at any one time. Arguments in the cab strictly forbidden, whilst mother masters six gears and no rear view mirror. And sweats. And swears. A bit.

Buying it has been an experience. Real vans are sold and owned by real men, I've discovered, women are often offered little chi-chi things that are either hugely expensive or just downright embarrassing. I told the man at Ford that I needed space for a large mower and up to 20 bags of green waste. He walked me half a mile round the back of his showroom to show me a hideous little handbag of a van, lined with lurid carpet. A kind of passion wagon for gnomes. He said do you want to test drive it? I said not if you paid me, where do you expect me to put the mower in here then? It's actually bigger than this van... In the end, I bought one from - a woman. Simple really.

I press on cheerfully. I'm happy! Yet there are so many questions to answer when you're new, fresh and confident:

Are you strong enough?
Can you give me a full breakdown of the pesticides used on these potatoes?
Do you think you can make enough money to pay for the van alone?
Exactly how much money have you made?
What are the best plants for a bog? (Errm?)
Are you spending enough time with the kids?
Can I just press that button once Mum, and see what happens?
What a wicked scythe! Could I wave it around a bit in the garage, by myself? (NO)
Will you talk me through a year of caring for this raspberry cane?

And so on. All good fun.

I am tired by evening though. The other night I dropped the boys off at judo and fell fast asleep in the car outside the hall, engine off but still wearing my seatbelt. I woke up later with a start to find the kids tapping on the window and not one but two policemen staring right at me, all chilly and enquiring. Another question? I took the seatbelt off and waved. What now for Chrissakes? Just because I'm grubby and unconscious doesn't mean I'm a lawbreaker or a bad parent now does it. I'm just multi-tasking. Oh or something like that!

Wednesday 25 June 2008

From Hilaire Belloc

Lady Thinker has passed me a book meme post, for fun - to choose a book from my shelf and quote a passage from p123...

Lady T, it has taken me ages, on and off, exploring my page 123's. I could find nothing really interesting on any of them! Most of the good bits were on the other pages, oddly enough.

What I would have liked to do would be to type out a paragraph from PG Wodehouse. Any one of his p123's might have been great I'm sure! I love his writing, so finely crafted and so so funny - laugh out loud, chuckle chuckle stuff.

Unfortunately, I have none of his books here at home - because my parents have a complete set and I always read them when I stay at their place.

(No realistically I collapse at their place)

OK, so in the absence of PG, I found Hilaire Belloc's Cautionary Verses (for children) roosting in one of the kids' rooms -

From: About John - Who lost a fortune by Throwing Stones

...As time went on declining Health
Transmogrified this Man of Wealth;
And it was excellently clear
That Uncle Bill's demise was near.

At last his sole idea of fun
Was sitting snoozling in the sun
So once, when he would
Take the air,
They wheeled him in his
Patent chair

(By "They", I mean his Nurse, who came
From Dorchester upon the Thame:
Miss Charming was the Nurse's name.)
To where beside a little wood
A long abandoned green-house stood,
And there he sank into a doze
Of senile and inept repose.

But not for long his drowsy ease!
A stone came whizzing through the trees,
And caught him smartly in the eye.
He woke with an appalling cry,
And shrieked in agonising tones:
"Oh Lord! Whoever's throwing stones!"

Miss Charming,
who was standing near,
Said: "That was
Master John, I fear!"

"Go get my Ink-Pot and my Quill,
My Blotter and my Famous Will."
Miss Charming flew as though on wings
To fetch these necessary things,
And Uncle William ran his pen
Through "well-beloved John", and then
Proceeded, in the place of same,
To substitute Miss Charming's name:

Who now resides in Portman Square
and is accepted everywhere.

Hmm, perfect verse I think!

Sunday 15 June 2008

A Job at Last!

I found this fallen rose last week and thought I'd leave it here - so many textures, shades and such a scent - well, it's a shame there's no smell feature on Blogger!

I have good news: a job at last! The landscape gardening company I've been with spending time with recently, on work experience, have taken me on full time. I am really really pleased!

This comes in spite of somersaulting spectacularly through a rockery last week, whilst uprooting a giant weed... I don't know what it was called, a kind of hairy rhubarb sort of triffid?? Whatever it was it had very long stubborn roots...

I'm looking forward to much more of this sort of thing - with a happy heart!!

(And a crash helmet - )

Thursday 5 June 2008

Six Random Things About Me

Thanks to lovely Sandi McBride for this tag -

One: Purple.

Is my favourite colour, all shades, especially into dark inky blue.

I like it in clothes, it offsets the haggard grey rings under my eyes rather well - but I do have to keep reminding myself to be cautious...

A bold purple kaftan for example, looked fabulous in the shop recently, but back home morphed scarily into a stylish archbishop's cassock, shiver!

Two: Marc Chagall

Is an artist I love. He can have a magical dreamlike quality... Haphazard? Naive perhaps? Hmm. I do like his paintings - I've had a picture of this for ever: The Blue Violinist
- Inspiring!

Three: Anglo-Saxon

Is a language I have learnt. It has not come in useful at all so far.
But there's still plenty of time, I'm optimistic!

Four: Playing the Piano

Is something I do, dreadfully - and I mean it's REALLY REALLY AWFUL!! - even my kids are embarrassed - still, I go for it, with enthusiasm -

Five: Cadbury's Chocolate

I eat it... Just adorable...

Six: A Catholic Education

Yes. A character building experience.

I think I would have been left-handed if Sister Marie-Therese hadn't "made" me right-handed, aged four. Fear of an angry nun, as we all know, is a powerful thing...

(This isn't her, obviously.)

I have forgiven you of course SM-T, as a good Catholic should, well, kind of forgiven?!

That's me in 6 daft strokes... I won't tag anyone, but if you would like it, you may have it, with pleasure!

Monday 19 May 2008

The Constant Gardener

I sometimes have co-ordination problems. I like being challenged to overcome it though, especially in work. I have good stamina. And a sense of humour!

I can do multi-tasking for instance - OK, kind of. Years ago, before kids, it was essential. I worked in the front office of a busy hotel and if you couldn't do three things at once and smile as well, you'd have queues of irate people building up - in person and on the phone... I learned fast.

Yet, yet, the memory of disappearing slowly head first/bottom up into the safe while multi-tasking there, lingers to this day. Well, I was taking a phone call, paging someone, paying wages and having an urgent silent lip-reading conversation with the barman at the time... and of course it is always good to see people really laugh out loud isn't it! Takes the tension out of a crisis I find.

Still, that was a long time ago. Now I continue to work happily as a trainee landscape gardener, learning new practical skills. In some cases like a duck to water and in others slowly - when I find it's like learning to work the clutch in a car, downright confusing! I try hard, I do!

Take last week, I'm bouncing along in the gardening van, wedged in with the rest of the team, after several hours spent learning grass strimming. I say learning... I haven't really mastered it yet in fact. At all. They are very very careful with power tools and spend a lot of time explaining to me how to use them safely. I'm really very fortunate with this work experience - I expected to be left alone a lot with the boring easy tasks, but it's nothing like that.

I sit still quietly imagining the evening news:

"A reckless woman with horticultural pretensions was arrested on a busy road junction in South Croydon this morning. Armed with a petrol-driven strimmer and blinded by protective glasses Merry Weather took out most of a young tree, distressed a lawn and was engaged in damaging a small ornamental fence when apprehended - police described her as flushed with embarrassment and dogged in her determination to finish the job properly..."

"You're thinking about the tree aren't you? Forget it, really, it was nothing!" they insist. And then they swear a bit and grin. One of them is a woman, small but exceedingly strong and very funny. If she was as tall as me she'd be invincible! I relax then amid grimy gloves and jackets, scented with rotting grass, feeling - relieved!

It was a question of co-ordination. A strimmer, I feel, is basically a small helicopter, upside down on the end of a stick. And it's incredibly noisy.

Before I set off with it I had spent a lot of time checking around me that no one was nearby, and nor were my feet...

"Tilt 5 degrees to the left and remember, the rotation is anti-clockwise" they told me. Sure, I can do that, copying exactly I set off. A quarter of a mile later my right forearm was actually bulging with effort. I've never seen it do that before. So I changed hands and was completely bewildered. Which way now 5 degrees? Huh? Cautiously I set off again, in a different direction, on smaller sections of lawn edging where I produced two effects - bald earth to the left and severely quiffed grass to the right. I felt a tap on the shoulder. Another demo ensued.

"Watch out for the long grass, you can get pulled in." said the head gardener and went off round the corner. Luckily. Because moments later I'd taken out a sturdy sapling and was making inroads on cutting down its tree! Wow! Thank God it's a communal garden, attached to a block of flats and not someone's private paradise. I can imagine the wrath of my auntie Margery whose garden is perfect. Reeling I moved on, blushing.

I showed him later and he frowned a bit and then said "that's all right, stop worrying!".

Later in the day, we pull up outside a private garden with an auntie Margery kind of owner... "don't worry we don't strim in small gardens". He detaches the head and refits a hedge trimmer. Oh No! I shuffle my feet anxiously, looking at her manicured shrubs, with fear. "You just need more practise" he says kindly, but hands me the hoe instead - Phew!

Ah well, I'll get it eventually. Even if I've to practise at home and remove my own lawn in the process! It's a beautiful time of year to be outdoors, the new blooms are perfect, so many different shades. My favourites now are the cool blue campanula, in springy drooping clumps and the rock roses with their fragile brilliant petals. Gorgeous.

Sunday 4 May 2008

Work Experience

Life as a trainee gardener is suiting me very well. Often rain-soaked, nails gone to pot, sudden outbreaks of ivy rash, concrete dust and woodchips inside my bra - what the heck, I love it! I'm happy as anything.

Last week I dismantled fourteen sturdy fence panels on my own with a mallet and carried the whole lot out to a skip. It took a little time to get the hang of demolition, but soon the mallet and I were inseparable partners. Every whack a winner. After a while I heard the head gardener chuckling - Die! Die! behind me. I grinned back. Next day he asked after my shoulders. Having a little trouble going forwards actually I said, still where's that mallet?

The owner of the house came out while I was dancing in the skip, compressing the panels. Why are you doing this? he said. He wasn't talking about the dance thing - because I like it, because I can, I said. What I can't do is stay at home thinking about the shopping and the school run anymore. And I don't want to be another colleague locked behind a desk behaving well. I want to be outside, working hard and seeing results. I want every day to be a little bit different...

I could have gone on about the smell of the soil, the damp grass, the quietness, the green shoots, the birdsong, the hum of the world; but that would have made me sound utterly crazy. And it was risky enough to be declaiming like this from inside a skip... But here's the beauty of it, I have nothing to prove, no need to defend myself. I'm just happy being me, doing what I do.

Following a strange exchange with another blogger, Mr Pineapples, comment moderation is on for the time being. It's a shame. Although everyone has a right to express an opinion, I'm not up for abuse. I may be Nice but I'm not Stupid... This is my place. Enough said -

Happy Spring!

Wednesday 23 April 2008

Background inspiration

Many thanks to Flick who gave me this desktop tag.

This is my actual desktop, posted with considerable (puny) technical effort from yours truly, involving a lot of face-pulling... click....and umming and

It suggests I'm concentrating on the bigger picture maybe, which is true, well at least it is this week! When I change the image next week, it'll be for this little treasure:

(...Merry dashes off to the corner shop to buy a creme egg, quite forgetting the clouds, the horizon and the internet beyond...) Yum!! -

A little later - munch, munch - and I'm passing the tag on:

I Beatrice
Crystal Jigsaw
Lady Thinker

Over to you ladies!

Sunday 6 April 2008

Three Inches of Snow!

Ha! After my careless prediction on the previous post last week - it snows!!! "More snow than we have ever seen before" my boys assured me solemnly before donning their peruvian hats and flying outside to play not snowballs, but frisbee. Ah!

After this forecasting coup, I am turning my attention to the National Lottery. I don't want a million, that would be a burden, I'd have to give most of it away. Just a little win would be good.

They've dropped the frisbee now and are having the snowball fight of the century, refereed by the three year old, anxiously through the window... Sigh, I'll have to go and join them!

Sunday 30 March 2008

Spring and the Impulsive Snail Moves On

I am a hopeless blogger - a self-confessed snail, but a good reader. I shall post something cheerful when spring is sprung a bit more. Alas, it'll snow now, probably...

Saturday 8 March 2008


I'm sitting here, typing erratically with all my fingers. I am thinking of introducing my elbows to the keyboard as well, just to liven things up! At college on the return to work course I'm taking we are studying Word. I'm doing well at that. They haven't heard of blogs there.

At home my boys are all wearing new hats, fairly constantly as kids do - handknitted, multi-coloured and sporting an attached woollen plait over each ear. Peruvian hats they call them. Apparently these are the epitome of style at the High School. I am agog. They look like bonnets to me. But who am I to know what's cool hey?

The careers counsellor at college revealed our options to us the other day. Unless we take further retraining, the future is £6 an hour in a reception office - eg hospital, GP practice or library. Most people took this news badly. Of course there are many more possibilities sure. But typically £6 an hour? - streuth!

I'm going to study horticulture in an evening class - an RHS diploma. And in the meantime I'm looking for work in a garden centre or nursery. No stranger to mud, I love being outdoors, whatever the weather. It's a darn sight better than saying "Can I help you?" and "sorry to keep you" thousands of times a day. Been there done that - never say never but no thanks!!

Sunday 27 January 2008

Still learning, still smiling

With the best part of a recent mid-life crisis firmly consigned to 2007, I'm in a much better frame of mind these days. One ages, considers, panics, gets a whacky new haircut, and, basically, presses on - well, that's what I've decided to do anyway... took me a while to work it out though.

My mum was mainly responsible for the turnaround. On hearing of my trials she was silent, did not say a word, but dispatched three large boxes containing several hundred-weight of books, and quite a bit of chocolate. Bless her. I guessed it was a hasty reaction on her part as she had obviously not read all the blurbs, and some of the books were murderous thrillers... Surprising that, as she and I are much the same - gentle empathetic sort of people who like thought-provoking, amusing kind of books... Naturally I was too polite to mention it, and of course very grateful. It was just the right distraction.

Rather like the butterfly flapping its wings in the jungle that causes a hurricane elsewhere, so her parcels of escapism triggered off a change in old routines, a fresh outlook and - post chocolate consumption - the need to attend er, body sculpting exercise classes. Where I found a new friend who offered me some gardening work. Great fun, paying real money, result! And after the retraining at college is complete, something right is bound to come along, eventually.

I am still reading all those books, with pleasure. This afternoon, at the kitchen table, I am reading again, eyes glued to the page, hardly breathing, when middle son drops in beside me, rifling through his homework sheets. I patted his hand encouragingly without taking my eyes off the page. Yes, a bit selfish of me, I know. From a distance I hear him chortle "18 divided by six - don't be ridiculous..." and after a bit I murmur "Times Tables, think again...".

Over by the cooker, eldest son mocks "Heh- huh THREE TIMES SIX IS EIGHTEEN! You're useless" Then he remodulates his voice to boy-with-manners mode "Can I cook a snack Mum? Please?"

"Yep", I say. He hums with contentment lining up his spice jars and reading aloud from a cookery book. I turn a page. The youngest arrives on his scooter, happy and busy, he parks up over by the compoodah and checks straight into the CBeebies website, singing Jingle Bells, as you do when you're small...

"Oh no, look what he's done now MUM!!" says middle son after a bit, he who is always looking away from the job in hand (he gets that from me I fear). I focus briefly on the compoodah, it's in Dutch, and the youngest is now singing a new song: "I could be brown I could be blue"... "Hmm, don't worry, he always does that, we can change it later" I move my head carefully back to the page, without blinking.

"Right, Robin Hood: first question - What is Sherwood?" reads middle son in an over-loud voice. I wait knowing full well he's been watching the 'Robin of Sherwood' repeats with relish each week. Silence - so I then say "what do you think it is?" There is a long pause before he retorts - "I don't know!, that's why I'm asking you, it's your job to help me, not to sit there reading Harry Potter all day".

I am mildly offended.

"And I could look on Google if he hadn't just broken it" he adds, staring at his beloved three year-old brother who is now also making whoopee in system preferences, clicking away happily..."Don't you care about us Mother!"

I finish a sentence first then turn. His face is an inch from my own, and rather blurred. "Son" I say, "caring for you is not controlling you and your thoughts, you are a free agent, licensed to do your own homework... and actually I can't see very well with you stuck there, so back off, please!" For a short time we sit side by side, in pained silence. A strong smell of curry stuff rises and I note the compoodah screen is having a strange experience - it's glaring black and white and flashing... Never mind, I think hopefully, no harm done, it's his own account, isn't it??... I look down at the homework sheet and say quietly - "There is still no 't' in such by the way...".

"I knew that Mum! I was testing you, see if you'd notice -". We peep at each other and start giggling, "sorry - Well, can I look on Google now then?"

Remembering what happened when he googled his Christmas list and that regrettable 'someone's silly bum' picture appeared, I say "How about reading books instead, that might help more -" and I wave at the shelves "- find out facts by looking them up and checking: books, maps, it's all there -".

"OK, if you help me" he says eagerly and slips down to the bottom shelf from where he starts throwing heavy tomes on to the table in earnest...

We are interrupted just then by a boom from the stove, with urgent sizzling. I drop Harry P and get over there with speed, a white cloud of hot Flora vapour passing around my head.

"Are you OK?" I look for eldest. He is engulfed in the fumes, but gently sliding the smoking frying pan off the heat, his eyes giant but composure intact. He dampens a tea towel wordlessly then stands back ready to use it. "Well handled son, this'll be fine in a minute."

"The pan was too hot" he says, "there was nothing about that in the book!"

"Heh-Huh you nearly blew up the kitchen, ummmmm!" taunts middle son.

"Sherwood is a forest" snaps his brother, eyes flashing, "F-O-R-E-S-T spells - *******!!!"

"Can I cwick dis?" interrupts the smallest, pointing at something unknown on the computer....