End of an era

 Too stiff, too heavy. Blast!
Lady Scarpa Boots

It is with some sadness that I report the end of an era. I am retiring my beloved Lady Scarpa hiking boots, which have provided ankle and foot support over many a mountainous and forest-filled trail. Today I have confronted my old-lady feet. I have bought some new high-tech latest ultra-light hiking shoe-boots. At least they are still Italian...

Older = Slower

OK, so 'getting older' equals 'getting slower', and an easy-breezy four-hour hike turns into a five-hour plod. I'm just back from such a day out on the Rakaia Walkway. Magnificent scenery, a wide braided blue-water river, high cliffs and gorge, distant mountain ranges. And wildlife – we were dive-bombed by a pair of agitated harrier hawks, whistled at by appreciative bellbirds, and moo-ed at by a herd of nosy cattle. Quite a day!

The route alternated between scrubby grassed river terraces and the softer winding bush trail, edged with beautiful specimens of green Astelias. Lovely spiky plants, these! I didn't mean to get sulky when I got home, honestly! But my old-lady feet were seriously aching, and I was so cross. This is NOT why I go hiking in the great outdoors! I do not need any such rude reminders of imminent frailty. And on my day off from the garden, too. So rude.

Rusty :
Rusty is getting older and slower, just like me.

Rusty, my old-man dog, got lucky. There was a pet store next to the hiking equipment store. Oops. I bought him a deluxe telescoping pet ramp (for getting in and out of the car) and an orthopaedic (?) pet bed (with memory foam cells). An issue shared is an issue halved? Hopefully bits of us both should be more comfortable, hee hee.

Thursday 12th November

It's been too cold and wet today to garden, so we've been confined to wandering around the garden going for walks, taking photographs of raindrops on roses, and so on... We are rather a motley pack at the moment. Like Rusty, I am semi-limpy and slow. Big brown Escher darts here and there, obsessed with barking up trees at imaginary creatures. Any tree will do. Young Winnie has had her tail and 'pants' clipped because of the fur matting and felting. She looks truncated and quite silly - not unlike one of those rude monkeys with a bald bottom. Everyone points at her back end and laughs.

 Shaved bottom and tail.
Winnie Looks Silly

Spare a thought for dear Winnie. She's had a very free upbringing, and suddenly she has a brushing regime.

 Showing her tummy.
Buster the Black Cat

The Pack...

The youngest cats in the walking pack, Tiddles and Buster, are dog-fearless and will sprawl in the middle of the driveway, dogs running around and even jumping over them. It's scary to see. Then big Fluff-Fluff is always there, plodding along behind. 'Wait for meeeeeeeeaow!'

I'm wearing my new shoe-boots to the dog park each morning to get used to them. Next week I'll give them the ultimate test - a five hour hike.

Saturday 14th November

Yesterday I helped with the log splitting. One does not wear ones brand new hiking shoes for such an activity. Three of us worked for five hours. It always feels wrong - nearly summer, warm nights, no need for firewood, that sort of thing. And today I stacked one huge trailer load in the woodshed. That took ages, but I rather like stacking wood. This is obviously the peasant (and/or the mathematician) in me...

 Sitting on a post.
Fluff-Fluff in the Rhododendrons

Then I pulled out forget-me-nots (five barrowfuls) from the house gardens and planted cornflowers and hollyhocks in the gaps. Unfortunately Winnie is not welcome to 'help' me - she gets her fur covered in biddi-bids. In the evening she threw a snarling tantrum when brushed, and took herself off to sulk in a chair on her own. Oh dear! Apparently her mother dog, Morgan also hated being groomed.

 A pretty pair of thorny chaps.
Rambling Roses - Paul Transon, Alberic Barbier

I'd like to welcome more of the big bearded irises, the pretty pink flowering variegated Weigelas, the Cis6593tus shrubs (oops - Buster the black cat has just walked over my keyboard) and yet more beautiful roses.

And - yes! The first of the second lot of peonies, finally, have burst from their buds. When one thing finishes (like the early and mid-season rhododendrons) something else takes over. Like life, really.


Gardeners are nurturers, trying to do good things for themselves, for others, and for the earth. Then the news from Paris. So unbelievably evil. I am so sorry for everyone caught up in this.