Surrounded by smooching cats...

I'm back home after a short holiday hiking on the East Coast of Marlborough, surrounded by smooching cats. Good morning to purring Percy, my beautiful ginger tabby youngster.

 A young adult.
Percy the Purriest Cat

Monday 14th April

Rusty the dog waits patiently for some good dog-action, which should be more than just following a green wheelbarrow around the garden. And hopefully not too much writing, tea drinking, and patting the cat first - for him a bicycle ride would start the day nicely.

 The nose of a dog has a life all its own.
Hmm... Smells Like...

Hmm... I could test out my new super-fit Cape Campbell Walkway legs... But firstly some domestic matters - for example, washing. Four pairs of hiking socks are soaking, my sleeping bag is airing in the sun, and other glorious reminders of the 57km walk (like three blue hiking shirts) are already pegged on the washing line underneath the plum tree.

 We passed this leaning tree late on the first day.
Sheep and Cabbage Tree

Animal Life

Animal life goes on. An anonymous cat has pee-ed on the blue chair cover, and the neighbour has left a message regarding a ginger cat involved in feline-fighting on her property. I am naturally in denial. Gentle, pale ginger Fluff-Fluff and young bright orange Percy would never do such a thing! Anyway, 'next-door' is three paddocks away...

The chooks have stopped laying and the tadpoles have stopped growing. The garden is waiting - there's firewood to stack and carry, edges to trim, and borders to weed. An autumn day to enjoy, before the predicted drizzle. And after I've done lots of outdoors things I'm allowed to start writing up the journal of my Cape Campbell walking trip. How exciting! It will be difficult, though, to pin down those wonderful days into sentences and phrases.

 The Pacific Ocean.
Cliff Tops

Late Lunchtime...

I've just had a ceremonial 'walking lunch' - dried apricots, muesli bar, and mini-gingernuts dunked into the hot coffee. I've been working quietly in the garden for four hours - the stone wall is just a little bit rounder, and the gardens around the driveway lawn are just a little tidier.

Percy the ginger cat is most attentive - I am his mother and best friend all rolled into one, obviously much missed. But my other animals have had food on their minds. While I was standing in the water clearing floating debris from the waterwheel (stuck again) Rusty the dog sneakily ate the lone hen egg, and Fluff-Fluff busted into the tadpoles' fish-food.

 A beautiful red Berberis.
Autumn Shrub Colour

I loved the last four days of energetic walking - seriously up and down cliff tops, over farm hills, along beaches, through cabbage tree gullies. I am now an expert at choosing the best sheep track to follow. I love my boots - it was quite sad getting up this morning and not putting them on. But I also love being home pottering in my garden. What a great life - I need to give thanks, and finish my weeding - before the rain!

Tuesday 15th April

I'm going to start taking autumn seriously. That means cutting back the perennials (like Scrophularia) scattered throughout the garden borders. And raking leaves. And preparing the garden for the layers of mulch which will blanket them all winter and stop the weeds from growing. And collecting up the firewood. And - of course - taking lots of photographs of the changing autumn colours!

Yesterday some nice visitors (only the second ones ever) came to look at the garden. I noticed the weeds, and there seemed to be a lot of flaxes - but I knew that! Then I started saying things like 'Oh, you should see this garden in spring, when the rhododendrons...' Ha! The classic trap that all shy gardener-hosts fall into.

 Part of my branding, hee hee...
Moosey Car and Flaxes

My visitors loved the waterwheel - thankfully I'd cleared out the stream bed and got the wheel turning properly. It's silly to worry - everyone knows that biggish gardens will have weeds! Walking around with newcomers has strengthened my resolve to be a better raker and sweeper, which obviously equates to being a better gardener...

On to today. First I will take Rusty the dog for his morning cycle ride. He can listen to my gardening plans. Our conversation will go something like this - 'Rusty, blah blah BLAH - blah blah blah blaaaaaah? Blah BLAH!'

 A rustic retreat for a weary hiker.
The Chook House

Much, Much Later...

Ha! What a responsible autumn gardener I am. Not only have I cleared and cut back and weeded and raked, but I have burned all the dry rubbish. I've finished trimming the yellow Banksia rose which flops all over the washing line - wrong pruning season, I know, but needs must.

A couple of tree frogs chirped at my crackling fire, tormenting Rusty from the safety of a waterside flax. Dear dog - he actually tried to chase one.

The Chook House

All day I've been thinking about the walking trip to Cape Campbell, and how great it was. My first great Autumn Adventure - it's time I showed off some pictures, I think. I liked the signs and the shelters. On the first night I stayed in a little shed called 'The Chook House' - its porch was enclosed by chicken wire.

Just a bed, a light, an outside table and chair - really simple - and now I want one in my garden. Hee hee. That's after the second rustic garden bench is built, by the way...