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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A Year in the Life of a Call Companion

Autumn creeps in under the cover of sunflowers. Yellow flowers symbolise friendship, the perfect antidote to loneliness. Loneliness is a Bad Thing and last year I decided to help get rid of it. It hasn’t exactly ended well.

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How to Choose Dinner

The fig tree is full of summer promises. Every hard green fruit will be soft and juicy by August. Then we’ll race the starlings to get them first. Birds have it so easy, with everything laid on. They don’t wake up every day racking their brains for dinner ideas.

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February Jobs in The Garden

The east winds are biting and the crocuses bite back, stubbornly forcing their way up through frozen earth. Crocuses symbolize a Brighter Tomorrow, which means planning. Time to think about February jobs in the garden.

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Christmas Cards made Simple

The prickly heath bush has pearly pink berries, as lovely as John Lewis baubles, all ready for Christmas. I’m not. Christmas cards keep turning up and there are two of me here. One wants to send Christmas cards out fondly and the other doesn’t see the point. What to do?

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Roses and Tomatoes at the Wrong Time of Year.

A confused rose has flowered and the tomato glut keeps weirdly glutting. As well as the normal November business, we are forced to eat tomatoes and pick roses. Is this a sign that things are different this year?

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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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How to Carve a Pumpkin Properly

A lonely pumpkin lurks amongst cauliflowers. It is hard growing cauliflowers and getting any sense out of them. You get flowers but no caulis. This Pumpkin is the main player. It will be carved, illuminated and sent out to ensure that every evil spirit of bad luck unpleasantness will take one look and go ‘OH NO it’s a pumpkin with a candle in it, I will go and dump bad luck on somebody else, can’t possibly enter that place’. Here comes Halloween.

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Virginia Creeper and Ways to Process Grief

When the world looks troubled, go find a Virginia Creeper, a slow firework to calm the mind. Over summer, while apple trees were fainting in the heat, the creeper was busy, going all out to engulf the greenhouse, vegetables and whatever else it could get its leaves on. Now it is queen of the month.

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Hazel, Magic and Mythical Creatures

The hedgerows are groaning with hazel nuts. A chance to wear your fingers to the bone picking nuts to make stodgy nut roasts. Or maybe roast something else and leave them for the dormice? Hazelnuts are their favourite food.

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Grapes, Hops and how to Celebrate

The Grapevine has been picking fights all summer. Throttling nearby plants, doubling in size overnight and chucking sour grapes all over the place.

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Honesty and How to Prosper

This is an Honesty plant, with its paper thin seed pods glowing in the sunshine. Also known as ‘Silver Dollar’ it’s a symbol of sincerity and prosperity.

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Lavender and Ways to Relax

Famous as an antiseptic, a symbol of love and devotion and guaranteed to cause relaxation. Today the bushes hum with the noise of bee traffic. Every local hive has sent an army to scoop up the nectar while it’s there.

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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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Mallow, Buddleia and Other Uninvited Guests

This Mallow weed is usually pulled up for the offence of ‘covering the path’. This year I let it stay and now it’s a flowering bush. The chickens love lurking in it, sniffing out ants or something.

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Bottlebrush and Clover

Here come the bottlebrush flowers. This Australian bush is a symbol of laughter and joy. There is not much of that from the Australians I know. They should be here by now. Laughter and joy it was, when the garden was full of friends and family from far flung places.

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Light research has revealed that all plants have medicinal properties. Google says that honeysuckle is good for everything from dysentery to brain swelling. But the berries are poisonous, so don’t try to cure your brain swelling by eating them. It won’t end well.

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Valerian. A Symbol of Strength

The name comes from the Latin word valere, meaning ’to be strong’. Valerian likes burrowing into crumbly walls and splitting them apart. So I follow it around, pulling it up, and it follows me around, growing back again, faster than I can move.

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Chicken and Sage

The shabby old sage is flowering and splendid. It is the last remnant of a herb garden, planted long ago in a fit of enthusiasm. It is one thing to plant a herb garden and a whole other thing to remember where you planted it, let alone weeding, watering and knowing what to do with the herbs that survive. That is the trouble with new projects.

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