How to Use Airbnb

If you have friends who buy lottery tickets, you can suggest that they share any big win with you. I have and they seemed to agree, and even smiled when I told them what I will do with my half. Until that happens, the barn has a mortgage, so we are entering the murky waters of Airbnb. There is a lot to do.

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One Wedding, and a Funeral

We had a family wedding. Not too large, because we all know the old saying ‘The bigger the wedding, the shorter the marriage.’ It was just the right size, with all the ingredients to set the couple up for life. This is their recipe for a good wedding and, next time I get married I will probably follow it.

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What Happened this Summer? Only the Phone Knows

The blackberries and sloes are early this year. You can almost hear them chanting: ‘Here we are. That’s it. No more summer, any more.’ How did it go so fast? What even happened?  Tip. If you can’t remember how you spent your time, look at your phone, and piece it together with whatever photos are there.

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Strange Things on the Shelf

Twas the night before Glastonbury, and all through the house… people are gone.  The cat lies mournfully with an entire bedroom to herself and my phone is alive with stressed messages from family, friends and colleagues. They are all preparing to dance in the fields of excess, with crowds, heatstroke, mud fever, cocktails, and far too much fun. It’s quiet and sensible here. What to do with all that ‘not going to Glastonbury’ free time?  Step out and admire the flowers? No, better than that. Let’s clean the cupboard under the sink.

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How to Enjoy January

According to Wiccan beliefs, a geranium near your front door is useful for warning you when strangers are approaching. Oh, the wonders of Google. Is the geranium going to bark like a dog?

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Travelling South of the River Exe

If you are in Exeter and bored with shopping, you might decide to nip down to the sea. Watch out if you are in a car. Building sites and roadworks surround the city, drivers go nowhere slowly, the air is fuggy and social media is full of angry feelings. It is different on a bike.

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Different Ways to Seize the Day

The Laburnum is out, summer is here, and it is getting busy. This week I did three things that are good for the soul. Swimming, metal detecting and rodent trapping. Which was best?

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How to Volunteer and What’s Good about it?

The Begonias are making an effort. In summer they will do a takeover bid, swamping everything nearby, but in winter they are welcome. Collapsing under the weight of frost one minute and presenting bright pink flowers the next, Begonias are a symbol of caution.

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New Year, New Sport. Nordic Walking.

The Heather is flowering. Perfect for lucky posies. The village freecycle system has exciting daily doorstep offerings, with anything from cabbage steamers to vanilla candles. This week it’s busy with everybody trying to Fengshui horrible presents away. I could put a pile of posies out in case anybody needs extra luck, but it’s best to leave the flowers on the bush. They are, right now, what bees like best.

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Hedgehogs in the Pampas Grass

The garden is bleak. Leaves rot on slimy paths, sunflower skeletons collapse against broken garden chairs, abandoned balls wait for dogs that don’t visit and snivelling chickens hang around the back door, hoping for company. Above all this the Pampas Plumes soar towards the sky. ‘Look at us’ they say. ‘See how we glow in the sun. Autumn is wonderful’.

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Now the Holly bears a Berry and it’s not just for Christmas

The holly tree is groaning with berries and we’re all groaning about Christmas. There are three things to worry about.

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Ivy flowers and the Creatures who Love them

If you are an insect the main flower right now is ivy. Pale green and packed with nectar, providing a late supper for everybody getting ready to hibernate.

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Elderberries and Avoiding Bad Luck

All of a sudden those early summer elder flowers are berries, groaning with antioxidants. I should make syrup, but flocks of greedy starlings get there first. What is an antioxidant anyway? Google says it is an invisible thing that cures everything and comes free in red wine and berries. Berries are free if you get them off hedges or quite pricey if you prefer blue ones imported from America.

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Sweet Peas, Nasturtiums and the art of Feng Shui

Sweet Peas are easy to grow and fill the air with scent. We have a new flower to distribute around the house, in case visitors come and don’t like our smell. Except we don’t have visitors any more. I picked them anyway, filled the house with heavy stinking bunches and immediately triggered an asthma attack. I do this every year. It generally takes 45 minutes to remember they cause potentially deadly wheezing.

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Rain and Rowanberries

Rain at last. A whole day of fat, noisy rain. Bouncing off hard soil and soaking dusty leaves until they sparkle. Almost as exciting as snow. I took photos of raindrops on grateful plants and and felt poetic. ‘Diamond drops on leaves’, and maybe ‘no longer will I sneeze’ sounded good.

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