The first week of July is spent reacquainting self with the realities of a wet, cold winter garden. My gumboots leak, and it gets dark so early! But it's so nice to be home with my piano, cats, and the dog.

Monday 2nd July - Home!

It's so dark so early! But I've had a great day wandering around. Rusty the dog is back, happy and very over-weight, and my garden is deep in the bareness of winter. Gunnera leaves have frosted off, leaves have dropped, and it's very wet underfoot. There are still some brave roses blooming, and a first pink Camellia flowering. I can see much clearing and tiding to do, but that can happen tomorrow. My priority today is to find Tiger the cat (who is 'camouflaged', to quote younger house-sitting son) and persuade my beautiful B-Puss that I am the same person I was four weeks ago.

Saturday 7th July - 07/07/07!

Oops. Several days have passed since I returned home. Have I done any gardening yet? Nope! Mind you, it's been wet, and cold, and last night there was a sprinkling of snow. And I have many other extremely valid excuses - as one always does, when the garden is neglected.

Swimming, Biking, Shopping :
It's often the mundane everyday activities that a world traveller misses the most!

I've been swimming up and down the lane pool, thinking about rugosa hedges. It's been too cold and wet for much biking.

'I'm not interested in shopping'. Right. So far I've bought five new house rugs, photo frames, lamps, new sheets and pillowcases, new gardening gloves and digger, an Icebreaker thermal top, and most importantly of all - a new pair of non-leaking gumboots. Footwear has been one of the main reasons I haven't done any gardening.

Friends :
My Friend Judith has fostered the three kittens while I've been away.

Hee hee. I've seen all my friends (I don't have an excessive number). They've politely asked me about my trip and I've grinned dreamily.

They have nodded when I've raved about the beauty of Scotland, and the wonderful daylilies in the North American gardens, and ...

The Cats :
Here is B-Puss peeping around the roses - one of my favourite B-Puss photographs.

A couple of 'oopses'. Firstly I easily found Tiger, shut in a downstairs room. Secondly, my three foster kittens are back - they have turned into lovely young cats.

It's their first time outside this morning, into the dark and the snow, so I've switched on just about every light in the house. The cat door is jammed open. I have had to explain to darling B-Puss that the 'B' in his name still means he is the 'Best Puss'.

The Dog :
Rusty the dog, who has come back from the kennels extremely super-sized...

Here is my biggest problem - Rusty is unhappy about his dog diet, and it's been too wet to go bicycling. He is bored, and obsessed by food - any left-over dinner plates, or cat bowls, or even bread left on the benches and he groans out loud.

And, of course, he misses Stephen, who secretly gives him crusts and such.

Chooks and Choir :
The hens have happily free-ranged while I've been away, as well as two feeds a day of pellets and grain.

I've put these two noisy items together. The poultry are looking great - like the cats, they were very well looked after while I was away.

Due to travel fatigue I missed choir practice this Monday, but there are several new concerts planned. We are going to learn some Kodaly. Tra la la!

Family and Piano Playing :
Hello, lovely web-master son! It was lovely to see you in London.

I love my human family. They are really supportive, and ask me all sorts of questions abut my trip - the darlings!

And I love my piano! I have purchased two new lamps to illuminate the music, and expect my playing to drastically improve. If it doesn't...

And Now - The State of the Garden

Yes, I have many things to do, if I want to get wet and muddy. And I will. Today I'm off to the rose nursery to check out the rugosas.

 Lucky bee!
Bumble Bee on a Rugosa Rose

Right. I hope the foster kittens are OK - it's their first day outside climbing trees and exploring around the house. I hope it doesn't snow any more. Snow is not necessarily romantic for a lapsed gardener with good intentions. But first of all I'll take Rusty for a walk down the road - one of the littlest chores which I really missed while I was away.