Chris's Weblog – City Chickens

Tag Archive: family

Aquilegia vulgaris Collection Columbine

Over the years I have gathered quite a few varieties of Aquilegia Vulgaris from the very first seeds given to me many many years ago by my Sister-in-law Janice who had gathered them from her Mothers garden one Autumn. Her mother has long gone but I think of her often when these flowers start to bloom.

Just like Joyce these flowers are hardy and no nonsense. They look after themselves and pop up year after year to bring colour to the garden. There are so many varieties and hybrids so my wish list is very long.

You can start Columbine flowers from seeds or buy young plants. Seeds should be sown throughout spring. The seeds need light to germinate so simply press them on the soil surface and lightly cover with soil. Germination is about 30 days and because Aquilegia is a perennial it will take two years from planting the seeds for them to bloom.

Most varieties of Columbine plants will bloom for at least four weeks. They look delicate but are tougher than they appear. They tend to be short-lived perennials but self seed and spread bringing pleasure and colour to your garden for years.

Varieties of Columbine include dwarf varieties that are just 6 inches tall as well as large varieties that are more than 3 feet tall with large flowers. Keep in mind that Aquilegia varieties readily cross-pollinate. If you plant more than one variety be prepared to see new colors and combinations.

Aquilegia is a genus of about 60–70 species of perennial plants that are found in meadows, woodlands, and at higher altitudes throughout the Northern Hemisphere, known for the spurred petals of their flowers. The genus name Aquilegia is derived from the Latin word for eagle (aquila), because of the shape of the flower petals, which are said to resemble an eagle’s claw. The common name “columbine” comes from the Latin for “dove”, due to the resemblance of the inverted flower to five doves clustered together.

Aquilegia Vulgaris William Guiness

Also, known as Magpie, this variety has purple-black flowers with contrasting white centres in late spring and early summer above fern-like, mid-green leaves. The unusual flowers of this old fashioned columbine creates an eye-catching display. The plant self seeds freely.

Aquilegia William Guiness

Aquilegia Vulgaris Pink Flamingo

This is a large flowering pink variety. Appearing in late Spring it is a new columbine variety. Coming quite true from seed it should be planted away from other Aquilegia with which it could hybridise.

Aquilegia Pink Flamingo

Aquilegia Vulgaris Crystal Star

Aquilegia Crystal Star is a long spurred aquilegia with pure white flowers. A cottage garden favourite and an excellent and unusual cut flower possessing a clean crisp bright whiteness. “This has to be one of the easiest and most rewarding Perennials available producing masses pure brilliant white flowers with stunning spurs”. so says the company that I bought the seeds from so I hope so as this is the first year that I have sown them and I am hoping for them to become a permanent presence in the garden.

Aquilegia Vulgaris Blue Bird

From the Songbird series this blue Aquilegia is one of my favourite flowers in the garden. Such a perfect blue.

The songbird series is a range with compact habit and very large flowers with bright clean flower colours. A clump-forming perennial which forms a basal rosette of foliage and from May to July huge flowers with long spurs produced on strong upright stems. Varieties still to add to my collection from the Songbird Series are Goldfinch, Nightingale, Cardinal, Bunting, Early Bird and Chaffinch.

The Songbird hybrid series has a long history that started back in the 1980’s, and it’s story involves at least two breeding programs. The breeders used many species and selections in creating this mix. McKanna Giants formed the foundation of this complex cross. Breeders also reportedly used A. skinneri, A. californica, A. chrysantha, A. canadensis and a number of other strains. It’s a real mix, but is still sold under the botanic name of Aquilegia caerulea, as this remains the primary species used in the strain.

Aquilegia Bluebird

Aquilegia Wild Variety

A perennial often found at woodland edges and roadsides, long stalked with long-spurred blue-violet flowers. This variety grows to a height of 60cm and prefers damp woodland. It flowers during June and July. The foliage is very pretty.

Wild Columbine

Aquilegia Crimson Star

Crimson Star hybrida has striking red and white flowers. Columbines are attractive foliage plants that grow well in fertile soil in the sun or partial to full shade.

Aq Crimson Star

VE Day 2020

It is seventy five years since the end of the last World War and today on the anniversary of that day the whole country is paying tribute to those that came home and those that did not. The photo below consists of quite a few members of my family. The men who went to fight arent on that photograph. They weren’t back home yet and if they had been I wonder if they would have been in a party mood. I think maybe not.

I am 75 years old so I was born in that year in January and was present at the street party that took place in the street where I was born. However, I was shocked today when I heard of the dead of other countries that became involved and died to defeat the Nazi regime. As I have mentioned in my diary before, I heard no stories about the war as I was growing up. Indeed I heard more about the Great War. World War 1, that was fought by my grandparents’ generation.

Half Asleep

by Catherine Turner

The dawn is gently breaking,
The air serene and still,
No mans land, a grassy field
Just beyond the hill,
The battery, a homestead
With windows welcoming,
The tangled wire a 5 bar gate
Where bluebirds sweetly sing,
Each muddy trench a furrow
Furnished by the plough,
Each tortured cry of misery
The lowing of a cow.
The acrid stench of cordite
Like heaven’s perfume drifts,
To mingle with the belching smoke
Of Autumn’s cooling mist,
Faces dressed in terror
Are smiling as they rest
In crumpled khaki uniforms
As sharp as Sunday best,
This blanket torn, how soft, how warm,
A silken downy sheet,
How sweet, this quiet moment
With all the world at peace.
The dawn is gently breaking,
Sweet Saviour I implore,
Hold back the sun, and let me dream,
For just one moment more.

copyright Catherine Ann Turner, my talented sister……..2014

https://worldofremembrance.wordpress.com/

The Steep Price Of Victory In Europe

As the world celebrated victory over Nazi Germany and the boys eventually did come home, the war they fought thousands of miles away came home with them. It came home with them in their wounds, in their memories, in their daily life…in their nightmares.

My compassion today then goes to the 85,000,000 plus that died in that conflict worldwide. It was a terrible loss of life. What is even more heartbreaking is the fact that war is still going on. Our focus, as human beings, should be to heal our planet and then to heal ourselves. Death, famine and suffering are happening to someone every hour of every day. Not having any religion at all myself I feel very seriously that religion is at the root of a lot of dissent and conflict. Live and let live is an old adage but rings very true.

Quite a few of my neighbours are in party mood tonight but having just seen the latest death toll I can see nothing to celebrate. The next time that they think of breaking the lockdown maybe they should think of the virus as a Nazi.

Too Many Sad Stories

Children are losing parents
This is a global tragedy

“All the deaths are tragic, absolutely heartbreaking… but either protect bus drivers, posties, cabbies, shop workers, refuse collectors, etc or don’t send them out at all. ” Eamonn Holmes.

This quote caught my eye because my partner Rob is a postman. Eamonn Holmes was complaining about the lack of protective equipment provided to these workers who, although they are classed as key workers, are expected to go to work and risk their lives with little or no protection. I am in an older age group and advised to ‘Sheild’. I worry every time he goes out to work that he will contract the virus and I worry when he comes home that he will carry the virus to me.

We, as a country, were given a warning way back in January about the coming of this virus. As individuals, we were informed and could see for ourselves from news reports that action was required on a massive scale. Had the correct measures been taken at the end of January, many lives could have been saved.

Our health workers should have been provided with top of the range protective equipment. This country wasn’t prepared for a medical emergency on this scale. The emergency services had been cut to the bone in recent years both in numbers of health care personnel and the amount and quality of essential equipment provided. Everyone should have been told that they had to stay at home. Not told that they could pop out for a stroll or to walk their dog.

History will look back and say we failed. There are so many past examples of Pandemics killing millions of people. So many clever people saying “It’s not so much if it will happen as when” Why then weren’t we prepared?

Every day the number of deaths rises. Every day a family member is lost. The news is full of heartbreaking stories. Our doctors and nurses are dying. I am sorry that this post is so sad but it’s just the way I feel today.

Deaths are still rising. 7,978 people with COVID-19 have died in UK hospitals since the 6th of March.

covid-19 The Pandemic

I have been told by my children not to dwell on yet another traumatic event that is happening in my life. However, as this is my diary, and that this ongoing event has significantly affected my life since February this year (2020), I feel it only right that I should include it in my diary.

I am seventy-five years old this year having been born in January 1945 and being fortunate in having been brought up in the post-war years. Although parents, uncles, aunts and grandparents were probably at the end of a terrible six years, as I child, I can remember no tales of wartime hardships and only have good memories of care and comfort. It is evident to me now that I and my peers were being protected from the horror that was World War II.

This Pandemic is my War. I have been using every method available to me to search and follow the global news as this pandemic evolves. This is one war I intend to know all about.

Today 24th March 2020 I have a new desktop computer as my old one has been out of action for some time. Writing my blog on my iPad hasn’t been so convenient so this is the first time I have been able to record the way I feel about the current tragedy. Me being me the best way to relieve stress is to write.

The whole scenario is playing out like the worst horror film ever. All over the world people are sick and dying. Yesterday, in my country, the UK, we have all been ordered to “Stay at home”. The Corona Virus, which causes COVID-19, a deadly disease that is new to the human race, is rampaging across the globe killing thousands. Modern medicine is useless against it and our health services are becoming overwhelmed by it.

If I believed in any God I could think of it as a cull. Clearing away the old and sick. Maybe its Mother Nature herself tidying up to clear the land of the weeds and to let the Earth breathe again eliminating the pollution caused by the human race. However, my rational self can see that it is what it is. A virus that has jumped from animals to humans and is causing havoc as it spreads. It is another in a long list of diseases that we have had to find a vaccine for. At present we have no medicine and no vaccine so our only defense is isolation.

Outside, Spring is filling the air with the scent of blossom, flowers are blooming, birds are singing and nest building. Nature is carrying on regardless and that is what the whole human race is trying to do. For those of us who survive the world is waiting.

Adam’s Birthday Today – Miss Him

“If you want your life to be a magnificent story, then begin by realising that you are the author and everyday you have the opportunity to write a new page” — Mark Houlahan

Today would have been Adam’s birthday. Had he lived he would have been 44 today. My heart is heavy and my mind still trying to make sense of what has happened. He has been gone from our lives for over two years. His life, though too short, was after all, a magnificent story. He has left us all with amazing memories for which I am grateful. He was a very positive person so I try always to think, what would Adam do, when I am faced with a decision to make. Love you forever my lovely boy.

 

 

Saucepan Boiled Fruit Cake

This recipe used to be a family favourite when the kids were all young. It’s a soft, moist fruit cake that can easily be adapted to become a celebration cake with the addition of treacle, alcohol, cherries etc. Another plus is that it does keep well if wrapped in foil or cling film.  I have the inclination to give it a go again.

Ingredients:

  • 12oz of dried fruit
  • 4oz margarine or butter
  • 1/4 pint of water
  • 4oz caster, granulated or brown sugar
  • 8oz self raising flour
  • tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp mixed spice if you like it

Method:

Add the water, sugar, fruit and fat to a saucepan and bring to the boil stirring to keep from sticking. As soon as the mixture reaches boiling point turn down to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes. At this point the mixture will be evenly mixed and the fruit plump and juicy. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Stir occasionally to stop skin forming on top or cover with cling film or greaseproof paper. When cool gradually add the beaten eggs, flour and baking powder, folding in and making sure the ingredients are evenly distributed. Bake in the centre of the oven for about an hour and a half. It does help to line the cake tin with greaseproof paper or as I do, wipe the tin round with margarine and shake flour so that the inside is coated evenly. At this point you could sprinkle with granulated sugar, decorate with almond slices or put a few candied peel slices on top. This cake also takes well to decorating with icing. All in all, a good all round stand by. My sort of cake.

My Family And Other Animals

“Like a gentle, enthusiastic and understanding Noah, she has steered her vessel full of strange progeny through the stormy seas of life with great skill, always faced with the possibility of mutiny, always surrounded by the dangerous shoals of overdraft and extravagance, never being sure that her navigation would be approved by the crew, but certain that she would be blamed for anything that went wrong. That she survived the voyage is a miracle, but survive it she did, and, moreover, with her reason more or less intact. As my brother rightly points out, we can be proud of the way we have brought her up; she is a credit to us.”

A quote from My Family And Other Animals by Gerald Durrell.

Kind words written by a son about his mother. I would like to think that my children could think of me in this way. It does seem to illustrate the rewarding journey that I have travelled to date with my wonderfully unique children. Never a dull moment during the ups and downs, adventures, heartaches and proud moments that have been my life up to now. Also, just like the Durrells, we have had a menagerie of various animals along the way. I was introduced to these stories when I was studying English Literature for GCE but feel I have appreciated them more since growing up and having my own family.

I hope that I have been able to be what I always dreamed of being when I was a girl. A good mother. Even when I was quite young I wanted children. I used to gather the children from our small post war street of prefabs and ‘mother’ them. I led small rag tag groups, which included my own little sister, five years younger than me, on various adventures amazingly surviving canals, disused coal mines, railway lines and bridges and water filled marl holes all of which were the norm around where we lived. We were happy with a milk bottle of water and jam sandwiches prepared by me which we would have half way through our adventure usually sat in a grass lined dip over the bank when I would teach them about wild flowers and other such gems. When I was twelve I was presented with a little brother and was able to practice with a real baby. I can remember running home from senior school to be with him.  I was twenty three, however, before I had the first of my own three lovely boys and that was the start of my life as a Mother. My raison d’etre.

Eglu – 13 years on.

The Eglu was the start of a big adventure for me as I ended up with fifty chickens, all bantams, and fifteen ducks, calls and runners. This adventure came to a crashing halt when my son was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. I don’t regret a single minute spent caring for Adam and In fact feel very privileged to have spent that time with him and honoured to have been able to help him through, what was for him, a horrendous time. My new chicken venture is to help me through my grief after losing him in February 2016. Life will never be the same for us without him. However, he left me with three wonderful grandchildren, and they are a lasting legacy for which I am truly grateful. They love the chickens and the Eglu is really safe for them to use.

Today I received a refurbishment kit for the Eglu from Omlet. My Eglu was number seventeen off the production line when Omlet, the company, was born. It was delivered by their own chicken bedecked van and assembled in the garden in August 2004. It came with three large fowl, Araucana, which are blue egg layers. The students who designed and produced the chicken house have come a long way since then. I have bought plastic replacements for the originally wooden perching bars, a new green shade and an all weather transparent full cover for the bad weather to come. Other than that, thirteen years later, it is as good as new.

Well, I am a little disappointed as the replacement perches didn’t fit. They looked lovely too. Strong and easy to clean but just not the right size. However the Eglu is back together and looking safe and warm with the two new covers. The five new chickens look happy. They are all small breeds so have plenty of room and I feel confident that they will be warm and dry this winter.

Products from Amazon.co.uk

Adam – 20th February 2017

I find it hard to accept that a whole year has passed since I lost Adam. I miss him more than ever. He should still be here with his family. I know that if he could he would be telling us all to enjoy life. He used to say “Life is great” but it will never be the same for us without him. This weekend has been very difficult.  Adam died on Saturday 20th February 2016 and I’m sure that in spite of how difficult life was for him at that time he would still have chosen to live. Love you and miss you my lovely boy.