Sunday, August 2, 2015

A little light crafting & a new goal

The sun's been out and so have I; gardening, running, or simply just being outside and enjoying this beautiful place in which we live.

You may have noticed I've changed my header and here's the reason - Mrs Titch has finally produced some babies. We thought she was never going to get the hang of this nesting mullarky. There were eggs laid where she sat on the lawn and she'd just walk off and leave them, outside the Utility room door, in flowerbeds/flowerpots in fact anywhere she happened to be at the time!



Then one day she didn't come up to the house with Titch and Quackers. She didn't appear for about 10 days so we crossed our fingers and hoped. Then one evening whilst I was sitting knitting I heard a frantic tapping on the back door and there she was, desperate for food and very grateful for the bread and grain I threw out for her. She was definitely sitting on a clutch of eggs.



A few days later, whilst I was out doing something with Bloom, she made an appearance with 10 ducklings in tow but Mike couldn't take a photo 'cos I'd got the camera with me. Then we didn't see anything of her again for another week and we feared the worst but then she reappeared and although she'd sadly lost 2 she still had 8 remaining ones who you can see in the header photo. They seem to be growing bigger every time they come up for food.

She's actually proving to be a very good mother and is vigilant and protective all the time. They all follow me into the barn when I'm getting their feed and it's such an honour to be trusted by completely wild creatures.

The 2 paler ones are most unusual

Awwh! Cuteness overload.

Now, back to the craft bits. There's knitting and it's something I have never done before - a knitted shawl. I crocheted many shawls back in the 70s and haven't felt the urge but I rather fancied a lightweight shawl I could scrunch up rather than wear around my shoulders. I chose the Miss Dashwood Shawl which is designed for sport weight yarn but chose a laceweight instead to make it lighter and more ethereal.


The colour is more accurate in the last photo below - a deep teal/blue

I picked out some 4ply acrylic yarn to do a test as I wanted to check out the pattern before using the finer lace yarn. It started with the border edging using cream yarn and a provisional cast-on (used when you need to pick up the live stitches later and I used the crochet method as I find it quick and easy).

It seemed OK but I wasn't sure about one part of it where it called for PDD - purl double decrease. I checked online and lots of people had been getting in a tizz with it so it wasn't just me!

The PDD refers to the line of chains lying on top of eachother.
I stuck a photo of it on the designer's thread to see if it was correct and she said she couldn't tell. So I read what others had done and decided to just play around until I found the method I liked best and which gave the desired effect.

This next swatch is made using the lace weight yarn after I'd worked out the pattern to my satisfaction. I'll put my pattern notes on Ravelry when I've finished but in case anyone pops along here before I do this is a brief summary of what I did over the 5 stitches involved: purl, purl, keeping yarn in front slip the next stitch onto the righthand needle through the back of it's loop, yarnover (this is part of the secret to success), slip the next stitch knitwise (I experimenting doing it purlwise but it didn't affect the outcome either way) & then the next one through the back of the loop. Then slip the last stitch back onto the lefthand needle by inserting your needle into the back of the loop (this twists the stitch), slip the next stitch back but do not twist this one, purl those 2 stitches together and then slip the last stitch on the righthand needle over the top of them, yarnover then purl 2 stitches. 

Phew!

If you enlarge the photo below you'll see how the stitches twist over which they didn't do in my orginal swatch.


In the photo above you'll notice 2 yellow threads running through a row of stitches. They are what is known as 'lifelines' and they can be invaluable in lace knitting 'cos if you drop a stitch or make a mistake it can be really hard to work out how to fix it when using such fine yarn. 

What I did was insert one after each 16 row repeat just in case of mishap and I'm jolly glad I did as there were 2 instances when I had to rip back - once involving a furry friend and once when I dropped a stitch and the yarn got stuck together. You're supposed to insert lifelines on rows when you don't have any yarnovers (yo's) but as there are yo's on every row I just ignored that advice!

One thing I did which people might find useful is to annotate my chart with things I needed to watch or timesavers. 

The white rows are knit from right to left but the grey rows are knit from left to right so I annotated them with a dash just to remind myself - I have absentmindedly knit them from right to left before now and it just makes me focus. You'll also see numbers on some rows and they are just the number of purl stitches so I don't have to count the squares each time. Other things I might mark would be unusual symbols or stitches.



Then there's some crochet. It's the Circles of the Sun CAL which is 9 small squares for a cushion cover. There have been 5 squares so far and I've modified most of them as I didn't like that the centre motifs didn't sit well within the square (eg points were off-centre which would have annoyed me!). 

I'm using leftover Rowan cotton glace in colours to match the dining room curtains.








Updated challenge


I was looking at where I was in my 2015 challenge (13 marathons in 12 months to represent the 13 years since I started running). I'd given myself plenty of contingency in case I got injured and had to pull out of one but I've already completed 12 marathons since the start of my challenge which meant that if I remained injury-free and ran all my remaining marathons then I would have completed 56 by the end of my challenge. 

Now that is such a silly number isn't it and I like more satisfying numbers such as 55 or even 60! 

As I was musing I had a phonecall from ARUK just checking how everything was going and general updating and during that chat I had the thought: This year's challenge was supposed to mark the start of my 60 by 60 campaign which I had to complete by June 2017. Yep, you've guessed it, I decided to add an extra 7 to bring my tally up to 60 by the end of the year.

Of course I had to check it with Mike as it would mean doing 10 marathons in the remaining 5 months when my challenge was supposed to finish in October. 2 marathons a month. That would be 20 marathons for the year. Oh my! Plus, as I already do lots of other things around dementia that take me away from our homelife I wanted to make sure he didn't mind.

He said yes (he's the best support crew ever and so understanding) but made me promise not to overstretch myself. Moi? Well I probably will actually but I firmly believe I can do anything until proved otherwise and ARUK should get some more excellent publicity from it. Now all I have to do is stay injury-free…………..

Sunday, July 26, 2015

WoW

WoW - What a Week it's been in the world of dementia research. I seem to have spent all my time posting things on Facebook with lots of exclamation marks!

I'll try to do a brief resume of what's been happening but first Esther wants to share something with the world. I was supposed to be heading off into London for an update meeting about Join dementia research but when I went out to feed and check the horses I was greeted with the teeniest snicker from Esther who was peeping out of a field shelter and when she moved towards me she was really woozy and staggering around.

Closer inspection showed she had a lot of blood on her off-side hind leg and it looked as if she'd been stung or bitten by something so I called the vet immediately (at 5:45am I bet he loved me!). By the time the vet had left it was obvious that I couldn't leave Mike to watch over her as he'd be worried and wouldn't be comfortable as he isn't a horsey person, although he loves them dearly, so I had to pull out of the meeting.

Thankfully by mid-afternoon she was looking much perkier and was raring to get out but I decided to keep her in overnight just to make sure and she was absolutely fine the next morning.


I was bitten by a biting thing, possibly a wasp, and the vet gave me something to calm me down and mum said I had to stay in here 'cos I was "high as a kite". I don't know what a kite is but I am feeling very sorry for myself.
I've been incarcerated in here all day by a cruel woman - please help me!

Looking much perkier the following morning.

Now, about the dementia news.  All the movers and shakers in the world of dementia research where gathered together in Washington last week for the Alzheimer's Association of America's International conference.


The first massive announcement was that the drug Solanezumab (no, I can't pronounce it properly yet either!) was back on the agenda. It was produced and developed by drug-makers Eli Lilly and trialled back in 2012 when it was dismissed after Phase 111 trials as it didn't show the benefits expected. 

However, this was not the end for this drug and a follow-up study began on people in the earlier stages of Alzheimer's and that's what all the excitement was about. Please read Dr. Laura Philips blog post for more details.

At the moment it is impossible to stop the death of brain cells in Alzheimer's. I've written a bit about the amyloid proteins formed in the brain before but I liked this diagram I found on the BBC website as it's a good visual aid.




Current medications such as the drug Aricept only help the dying brain cells to function for as long as possible but the hope is that Solanezumab might be able to keep then alive by attacking the amyloid proteins which scientists believe lead to the death of brain cells.

Dr Eric Karran, Director of Research at Alzheimer's Research UK stated that if the results of the initial trial are replicated this could be a real breakthrough in Alzheimer's research. In his words "Then, for the first time, the medical community can say we can slow Alzheimer's, which is an incredible step forward. These data need replicating, this is not proof, but what you can say is it is entirely consistent with a disease-modifying effect".

What we want to see now is that the drug can slow down the progress of the disease if taken early enough.

Women's brains appear more vulnerable to Alzheimer's than men


No, I didn't like that headline either! 

You can read the full article here which is very interesting. I've read so many articles this week and not all of them have given me a warm fuzzy feeling. I especially disliked this sentence which stuck out  "a third study found that women who have surgery with general anesthesia are more likely than men to develop long-term problems with thinking and memory." 

As someone who could write a guide to hospitals I have visited over the years, where I've had a total of 7 doses of general anaesthetic, those words filled me with dread.

Of course, the optimist in me knows that it doesn't mean I will definitely go on to develop dementia, but it's yet another thing to tick off the long list of dementia-indicators that haunts me in my darker moments.


Other links worth a look


  • There's an interesting article on the Join dementia research website  asking the question "Why do some people get dementia and not others?" which is well worth a look.
  • Another article by Dr Laura Philips here talks about other clinical trials.

Phew! All very exciting stuff and I'm so glad that dementia is finally getting more attention.

I really need to do an update on my crafting soon as I've got crochet and knitting projects on the go plus there's another marathon on the horizon……..

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Blooming marvellous!

It's about time I wrote about what we've been doing in our village which is very exciting. Encouraged by Maggie, our very own expert horticulturist, we entered our village into Britain in Bloom, a nationwide campaign to encourage communities to come together to make theirs the best village/small town etc. We entered the small village category. As I had experience of being a judge for BiB many years ago I volunteered to help her manage operations.

We asked anyone interested to come along to an initial meeting in the village pub so Maggie could explain what would be involved and were heartened by the response. We identified those areas in which we could have the most impact within the timeframe (eg overgrown verges, the local playing field, the churchyard). Plans were made, working parties organised and we were off.

As I'm always snapping away with my camera I somehow became official photographer and I have taken soooooooo many photos I have had to cull them for this post with just enough, I hope, to give a flavour of what we've achieved. I'll use the briefing notes I produced, with Maggie's input in a few areas where things had happened before we moved to the village, to chart our progress.

Village in Bloom


Our village lies within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in East Sussex.  At its heart is the 12th church of St James the Great with The White Dog Inn, a traditional country Free House, just across the road.

There is a strong sense of Community within the village and so when it was suggested that we should enter into Britain in Bloom the villagers were quickly galvanized into action!  Meetings were arranged at which areas that needed action were identified and working parties established.

Let me take you on a walk around some areas of interest in the village:

The Churchyard working group


This was the easy one because it was already in existence.  A willing band of helpers meet on the first Saturday of every month, come rain or shine, to keep the grounds around the church neat and tidy.

The area outside the gate is more formal but once inside there is a sensitive balance between the more cultivated and the wilder areas so that it sits well within the landscape.



Ruth busy tidying

There is a charming tradition in that the occupants of No1 Church Cottage, seen here behind the beautiful cherry tree, provide the workers with tea and coffee across the churchyard wall, which is always most gratefully received!



Time for a break!

Another view of the Cherry tree - the blossom was so beautiful this year


Moss and lichen on a gravestone


Strimming the wilder areas. In Spring there are huge swathes of bluebells and primroses.


Mowing the more formal areas

A place for reflection with a lovely view of the rolling fields and forest.

The grounds contain an interesting collection of unusual trees which was amassed by the Reverend Kenneth Pearson in the 1940’s; he was a man highly interested in trees of the world and planted species such as the Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides), only recently introduced to the West at that time.  There are also large specimens of the Monkey Puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana, seen below) and the Golden Rain tree (Koelreuteria paniculata).  



Today we have the benefit of these maturing trees due to the wise forethought of the Reverend.  No churchyard would be complete without a very old Yew (Taxus baccata) or an English Oak (Quercus robur), of which there are several, to provide shade in the south-facing site and homes for a wide variety of wildlife.   

Sustainability is paramount and so the compost heap in the churchyard plays an important role. Many households who do not compost their own waste use the Brown Bin recycling service and buy it back as soil ameliorant from the local amenity site.  Wildflower plants have been planted using a mix of composted local Christmas trees and household compost. 

We are currently looking at ways of collecting rainwater from the church which is not as easy as it sounds as the guttering and downpipes are lead.





An area that was identified as in need of attention was the fencing which was completely rotten in places.

We are very fortunate to have plenty of skilled people around who are happy to donate their time and here we have Bill who erected the new fence using locally grown timber.




Inspired by Bloom, the Church fund-raising group is now planning to hold a Flower Festival in 2016! This will get the whole village involved in keeping the area looking beautiful.



The White Dog Inn


This lovely old hostelry is a traditional country Free House run by father and daughter Dale and Harriet Skinner who generously provided us with a room for our planning meetings. 

They have embraced the concept of Bloom by planting up several large troughs with herbs alongside their beautiful display of hanging baskets.  These are created by local horticulturists at Bodiam Nursery.



I love the little Herb Garden sign!


Village Street and The Green



The oldest house in the village is Preachers, believed to date from 1497 and some of the newest are those around The Green.  The Oasthouses were converted to residential accommodation following the withdrawal of Guinness from the surrounding hop gardens in the 1970’s.

The houses typically have small gardens at the front due to their proximity to the road, and lovely, often extensive, gardens at the rear.   A notable feature of Village Street is the mature trees, in particular the dominating Holm Oak (Quercus ilex) outside Court Lodge.  

In Sussex a line of seven limes trees is traditionally the clandestine sign of smuggling activities; we think that those planted on The Green are entirely coincidental!

The community has recently commissioned and installed a new village sign, the elements of which reflect parts of the heritage of the village: 
  • Hops, for the major agricultural industry until recent times
  • Oasthouses, for the drying of the Guinness hops
  • Apples, for the local fruit which help to make Mr Kipling’s pies exceedingly good
  • A Fleur-de-lys, for Robert Baden-Powell who lived in the village
  • A Spitfire, for those who are used to making training flights along the Rother Valley
  • Sheep, still a major agricultural activity in the village
  • The pub sign, the White Dog
  • The Church, at the heart of the community and the sign

This would not have happened without the dogged determination of several villagers who just didn't take 'NO' for an answer!!! As you'd expect, our very own artiste extraordinaire, aka Glenys, was very involved in the design process and what a beauty it is. 

The sign was erected and unveiled on a glorious summer evening with free beer provided by the local micro brewery.

Children help to unveil the new sign
As if there wasn't enough excitement already, a group of villagers very generously clubbed together to pay for a fly past by a Spitfire from Biggin Hill. The pilot put on the most amazing display of loop-d-loops etc for well over the 8 minutes agreed and left us with the traditional tipping of the wings. I'd emailed/phoned all my near neighbours, who I knew would not be able to get there because of mobility issues, as I thought he'd probably do his turnarounds over our land (just outside the village) and I was right as they had a fabulous view of him right overhead!

It really was the most perfect evening.



I've digressed a bit from Bloom here but I included it to show what village life can be like when people join together.


Verge Creep and Erosion along Village Street


One of the things that are proving to be a problem is the erosion of our verges due to heavy lorries running over the edges. This in turn leaves great trenches where the tarmac ends, which not only looks unsightly but can be dangerous. We have started to fill them in using rubble and will contact the local Highways committee to address any areas we cannot deal with ourselves.

As a rural village we don’t have many footpaths so those we do have are precious! Sadly many of the verges had begun to creep over leaving little of the actual footpaths on show.

Our first task was to cut back the grass and use the spoil to fill in gaps at the side of the road.

Then we turned our attention to the rubbish that had accumulated underneath the hedge. Now all that is left to do will be to trim the hedgerow once the birds have finished nesting.


So much debris had accumulated underneath the hedge



Much neater (athough it won't stay that way for long!)

We are hoping to encourage all residents to take care of the patch of verge outside their own property.  So far we have had a good response.  The Bloom is infectious!



The Herdman Field and Pavilion


The 3 acres of land which form the Herdman field were a bequest from Arthur Herdman, who was killed in action at the beginning of the First World War in 1914, to be used as a village recreation ground.

For many years part of the land was used for football and cricket with a separate area designated as a garden to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee and, more recently, a Community Orchard.  A secondhand wooden garage was erected and used as changing facilities but eventually this became unfit for purpose so the residents embarked upon a massive fund-raising effort to create a new pavilion which has quickly become the new Community Hub.  

As part of Bloom, we established which areas we could concentrate on as a starting point and so a working party was set up to tidy the area behind the new pavilion.  In this setting it was important that the area was developed sensitively rather than treated as a formal garden and so any plantings are made in keeping with that ethos.


Cutting back the undergrowth


We uncovered lots of deadwood, tree stumps and prunings with bark intact plus some old bricks and stones so the obvious thing to do with them was to build a Stumpery for wildlife and invertebrates.  An added bonus is that it’s a great teaching aid to help youngsters learn about Nature.



We have applied to Friends of the Earth to receive a pack of Bee-friendly flower seeds to create a ‘Bee World’ in this area. This will make an excellent teaching aid so that everyone can learn more about why bees and other pollinators are so important.




The Herdman Association produces a quarterly newsletter and I write a column entitled 'Nature Notes' to help people learn more about wildflowers and wildlife and to encourage them to explore our beautiful countryside. In the latest issue I wrote about things people could see within the Herdman field so that it linked in with Bloom.

Part of the tidy-up campaign included work in the Community Orchard which was rather overgrown.  First of all the areas around the edges and trees were strimmed.

Here you can see Mike in action

Then Maggie arrived on her tractor to mow the remainder.  This, of course, is an ongoing activity.



Whilst those 2 were busy in the orchard I attacked another length of grass verge, using the cut-outs to fill in the edge of the lane which was becoming a trench.


After a while I became aware that I couldn't hear Mike's strimmer any more so assumed they were taking a break so headed off to join them……….


Not much mowing or strimming going on…….

……..'cos Maggie had got the tractor stuck (she might not thank me for this photo!!!!!)
In the end they gave up as the grass was too wet to move it so Mike strimmed all but this tiny section below which Maggie mowed when she was able to get the tractor out after a day of dry weather.




Planting at the Herdman


We were fortunate to have several large pots loaned to us by a resident and these have been planted with a selection of annual and perennial plants to brighten the area outside the pavilion.  Water retaining crystals were mixed into the compost.

With money given to us by our local garden society we bought and installed some rainwater butts. There is a ‘watering rota’ and people living nearby are tending the pots in turn.
In addition to the focal points provided by the container plants we have introduced plants which we hope will colonise the rough areas left behind by the building of the pavilion.  Bearing in mind that we need to blur the edges of what is ‘wild’ and what is ‘gardenesque’ we have used plants which will seed themselves about, spread, and need little attention from us apart from weeding.  These include honesty (Lunaria biennis). sweet rocket (Hesperis matronalis), primrose (Primula vulgaris), cowslip (Primula veris), foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), geranium (Geranium cvs), snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) and Tenby daffodil (Narcissus obvalaris). 



Maggie and I go potty - I'm hiding my hands 'cos they were very dirty!

Within the Herdman field is the enclosed Jubilee Garden and Community Orchard.  The plants in the Jubilee area were chosen for their nominative association with the Golden Jubilee of HM Elizabeth II;  there are Rhododendron ‘King George’, Magnolia ‘Elizabeth’, Hydrangea ‘Princess Lace’, Cedrus deodara ‘Golden Horizon’, Malus ‘Coronation’.  The Orchard contains a collection of Heritage Sussex apple trees such as ‘Wadhurst Pippin’, ‘Saltcote Pippin’, ‘Tinsley Quince’ and ‘Egremont Russet’.  These were planted by members of the community in 2009 and the smaller residents planted daffodil bulbs.  

Following on from the enormous community involvement in erecting and kitting out the new pavilion, a generous benefactor paid to have the playing field drained, re-surfaced and re-profiled to allow a range of sports to take place here.  Although the field was re-sown in September 2014 the grass has failed to establish as well as had been expected.  However, junior cricket will commence in the next few weeks and the croquet players will be able to enjoy a few hoops.  A petanque terrain is being constructed adjacent to the pavilion.

Bus Shelter Area


Due to cuts in district council spending, the area around the bus shelter had become completely overgrown with brambles and weed tree saplings for some 100 metres either side. 

The working party donned leather gauntlets and used loppers to cut away as much as possible and then brushcutters were used on the tougher sections. The prunings were shredded and composted.

Some larger branches and logs were left in-situ as wildlife habitats.

Here are some 'before' photos:

Attacking a thicket of brambles and weed tree saplings with a brush-cutter

The area around the bus shelter will be an ongoing project developed over the next few years.

Peter winning his battle with the branches and brambles

Ruth planting some daffodil bulbs and Gill pruning branches


Another generous benefactor offered the services of his gardener to clear the area beyond the bus shelter that we didn't have time to clear. He even paid for the remains to be taken away. When we moved here I used this stretch of grass as a place for a short canter on my horse but since then it had become completely overgrown.

Now for some 'after' photos:



When the bank had been cleared, a selection of wildflower seed was sown and plants are starting to take hold now.  The seed was obtained from Kew’s Grow Wild project, and is a mix of insect friendly annuals.  More will be sown in the future to build up a diverse community of flora.  Small plants of honesty, sweet rocket and cowslips from local seed were introduced and will eventually naturalise in  the area.  
The white tags on the trees warn that seed has been sown there.



The verge has long been a home for a large colony of white violets, and orchids appear sporadically.  Daffodil bulbs were planted in the grass.

The management of the bank is an ongoing project to prevent the brambles taking over again.



Gill did a grand job of sweeping out the shelter and cleaning up the brickwork inside

The photos above were all taken in early Spring but now it's starting to look less bare:



The day before the judging Maggie and I did a walk-through of the route to check our timings, as you are only allowed a certain amount of time, and see if anything needed attention.

Last minute strimming!

She'd brought her tractor mower to just run over some of the ground by the bus shelter and she decided to create what's known as a 'desire path/line'. This is an unofficial path created when people have abandoned the road or pavement to cut across an area, for example cutting a corner. You often see this sort of path in towns where people cut across parks and wasteground. 

I thought this was a great idea as it allows you to walk amongst the flowers and grasses so I've been running across it each time I pass as without use it would quickly become overgrown again. It reminded me of Robert MacFarlane's book The Old Ways in which he says that paths are "consensual" meaning that if they are not used then they disappear.

As I'm typing this I'm singing The Village green Preservation Society (originally by The Kinks but re-released by Kate Rusby a few years ago) in my head!

Kent and East Sussex Railway


The railway arrived here in 1900.  Despite being in Ewhurst the station was named Bodiam, probably because it is geographically the closest settlement.  The station operated for 61 years and was important as the arrival point of the hop pickers from London’s East End, but closed due to the economic downturn of the railways nationally.

In 2000 the trains returned.  A millennium project to extend the KESR from Northiam to Bodiam meant that once again the Rother Valley could echo to the toot of steam trains.

Since then the hard work of the volunteers at the Station has created a gem of a heritage attraction.  The age of steam is well represented through the re-creation and restoration of the station buildings, and the pride shown by station staff for their environment is reflected in the entrance garden and the tidiness of the site.  There is a small hop garden and a hopper’s hut, showing how life would have been lived during hop picking season.


Every year, hop picking is celebrated on the railway with the Hoppers’ Weekend which attracts a lot of visitors to the Station. Hops also make an appearance in the stained glass windows in the village church.

The garden and pots are maintained by 2 lovely ladies who've been volunteering there for over 25 years!






The Station is also home to a unique piece of world history, the Cavell Van.  This wagon was used to transport the remains of the nurse Edith Cavell from Dover to London in 1919 and was again used in 1920 to bring the Unknown Warrior on the same journey.



Judgement Day


I'd done the write-up for the judges well in advance but Maggie had been really busy and hadn't had time to add her bits so it was all a bit of a rush on the morning the judges arrived, especially since she hadn't managed to print out the photos we were going to put on our display board and it was too late for me to get home to print them!

Glenys had put on an excellent display of what goes on at the Herdman, how it all began etc.


We had to pinch a few of Glenys's photos (sorry Glenys and thank you, you saved the day!) to cover the empty space on our board and instead had to set up the laptop with my photos cycling through so that both the locals and judges could see more of what we'd done.

Maggie's daughter Bryony had printed up some canvas bags for us and so the judges had one each to hold their briefing notes, a copy of the Herdman newsletter and some leaflets from the railway.
Waiting for the judges
The team had been busy baking and making sandwiches for everyone to enjoy after the judging and they put on an amazing spread for us. Sadly I didn't take any photos afterwards as I was too busy eating cake!

With our judges, Jean Griffin and Ken Turner, before we showed them around (photo courtesy of Liz  Moore).

Some of our fantastic team who helped make this possible. There were many more people involved but of course not everyone could make it on the day of the judging (photo courtesy of Liz  Moore).

How did we get on? Well we won't get the results from the officials until September but as far as I'm concerned it was a huge success as it brought people together with the aim of keeping our village looking beautiful. In the meantime Maggie and I have been discussing who deserves a certificate of merit for extra special efforts in their support of Bloom. Sadly there's a limit to the number of certificates we can give out as I think everyone deserves one!