If we were having tea


If we were having tea right now there would of course be cake.  On a damp cold Saturday afternoon there needs to be afternoon tea with some treat.  My preference today would be a gooey Belgian Chocolate choux bun from my favourite local supermarket full of unctuous cream which squidgies out the sides as you bite into it

If we were having tea right now I would be telling you that I haven’t blogged for a week.  Now this might not sound that strange to you but I have been blogging at least 3 times a week since I started the blog 8 years ago, in fact 8 years on the 20th of this month.  The only times I have missed posting have been when I have been away.  But what is really strange, and also very liberating, is that I am OK with not having blogged which is a new phenomenon for me.  I have often told people that blogging had become a sort of habit, almost an addiction, and I couldn’t imagine not blogging.  I used to spend my time wondering what to write about and at its worse I used to go places just so I had something to blog about.  I know I am writing a post now but it’s because I wanted to share a few things and because I wanted something to do to justify not doing anything else on a wet afternoon!

IMG_0030 1

If we were having tea right now I would tell you how thrilled I was to receive my RHS Committee card in the post today. I am the recorder for the Symphyotrichum trial (that’s Asters to you and me).  The trial will last for three years and is being held just up the road from me at my friend Helen Picton’s nursery (Old Court Nursery). I am hoping to learn lots from the nurserymen and other experts involved in the trial.

If we were having tea right now I would tell you how I had spent the morning with  my mother at a stonemasons choosing a headstone for my sister’s grave.  She died in 2009 and her grave is marked by a wooden cross but now my brother-in-law has agreed to a more permanent marker and my Mum is on a mission to get it sorted and crossed off her bucket list.  It’s a strange thing choosing a headstone suddenly the smallest thing becomes incredibly important; what type of stone, how big, what design, what should it say.  This is something you only do once and you want it to be right.  My mother asks me “do you think your sister would like that stone”?  I want to answer “does it matter?”, but you stop yourself as it is important to my mother so you have these strange conversations about what someone who hasn’t been with us for 6 years would think.


If we were having tea right now I would tell you that what I am really enjoying at the moment, instead of blogging, is my new cross stitch kit.  It was a Christmas present from my sons and has a lovely oriental feel about it.  I am currently working on the small bird and what you can see makes up about one fifth of the overall design – there are an awful lot of leaves and some big orange flowers which I have yet to identify.

If we were having tea right now I would tell you that unusually for me I have really retreated indoors and am struggling to engage with the garden at all even when it comes to ordering seeds etc.  I have decided I need to grow an ivy up the side of the house and I want to use the border along the front beech hedge for my ever expanding collection of ferns but ask me is I am going to grow dahlias, or cosmos or in fact anything from seed this year I will shrug and point at  a pile of seed catalogues with lots of ticks on them but no real decisions. But its January and there is plenty of time and maybe when the sun decides to reappear I will feel a little more inspired.  In the meantime I am relaxing and recharging, which is great.



31 Comments Add yours

  1. I do love afternoon tea, I think baking a treat might be the perfect spark for my mood to get me going.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Charlie
      Hope your baking went well and had delicious results

  2. Maemi says:

    Congrats on getting your RHS committee card 🙂 I hope your botanical journey is an awesome one. It’s great to know that you are giving some time to yourself.
    I enjoyed reading this post and by coincidence, was having tea while reading this. It was both a little sweet and sad.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Maemi
      I hope you enjoyed your cuppa. It’s interesting how popular this style of post is, and it’s a nice way of updating readers on things

  3. Cross stitching in the garden…..perfection 🙂

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Bloominboutiful
      Not quite cross stitching in the garden as it’s far too cold and damp. But nearly

  4. Renee says:

    So lovely! Your post inspired me to get up and make a pot of tea. I hope you enjoy this season of recharging.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Renee
      I hope you enjoyed your cuppa and felt refreshed

  5. Congratulations indeed!
    I’m sure your inspiration will return soon!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Rachel
      There was a little inspiration lurking today but I still would prefer to be sewing

  6. Diana Studer says:

    your sister is one of my earliest blogging memories.
    I think of your niece.
    And this year I lost my middle sister, and think of her two daughters.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Diana
      I am sorry you lost your sister, it’s hard isn’t it. My niece is now 11, a gregarious individual who seems to coping ok though she misses her mother very much.

  7. Brian Skeys says:

    I think we will all be a little more inspired when the sun shines.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Brian
      Did you get some sunshine today, we had a couple of hours late this morning and it was nice to get outside

  8. Yvonne Ryan says:

    Hi Helen – If I was having coffee with you I would say – ‘ No No No don’t plant bloody Ivy!! It is such a thug and noxious weed!!!!!!! ‘ If I was having coffee or a cool mint drink with you I would say ‘ don’t forget to bring your togs so you can have a swim.’ a bit cooler as the solar not on – playing up a bit – but still lovely – even tho’ not a warm summer and windy! El Nino to blame!! If I was having a white wine with you I would say ‘would you like to take some fresh beans home with you’ – yummy!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Yvonne
      I am sure I would the swim, it sounds lovely. Ivy isn’t such a thug here and I think if you choose the right variety it isn’t so bad. We actually had some sun today but temperatures are dropping down to almost winter levels

  9. trilliam says:

    Hi, Helen! I’ve been reading your blog for several years and I finally got around to starting my own gardening blog here on WordPress tonight.Now begins the learning curve!

    I see that you are knowledgeable re. the genus, Symphyotrichum. I once grew a variety of this plant called “Lady in Black”. It performed wonderfully for me with almost black stems and in fall the plant was smothered with tiny white flowers with raspberry centres. I grew it from seed from an English supplier, but having just finished a search for it, I have found that it seems to have disappeared from the trade. Have you ever heard of it? Would you know of a source for seeds, as I am building a completely new garden and I’d like to have some in it.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi trillium
      It’s aster laterifolus lady in black I think you are looking for. I would think it would be easier to buy a plant than seeds. You can divide them very easily and they bulk up quickly.
      Looking forward to following your new blog

    2. Trillium says:

      Thanks, Helen. I thought it was an aster. I grew them from seed last time and I was sure they came from Chiltern Seeds but they don’t have them now (at least I couldn’t find them in their catalogue).

      While I have your attention, does one have to pay WordPress to be able to have words flow around images in a blog? I’ve tried and tried and I cannot find an icon that works in the taskbar.

    3. Trillium says:

      Hi again, Helen. I have never seen this plant in local nurseries so I can’t buy it that way. None of the mail order seed sellers I’ve used before have seeds of it either (even English ones). Do you know of any?

    4. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Trillium
      Can’t help I’m afraid, my aster was bought as a plant. I think they are easier to propagate from cuttings than from seed

  10. Chris says:

    I wish I were having tea with you Helen. I would bring my favourite banana, coconut and berry gluten free loaf (one of the few cakes I can make). Life can be tricky that’s for sure. I did wonder about the lack of blogs, but thought you were on holiday. In a way you have been I guess. While it’s damp and cold there, we’re dealing with heat here in SE Qld, while terrible bushfires rage in the south of our country. I tried to send New Year wishes earlier but for some reason it didn’t post, so belated ones now. Hope it’s a good one for you.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Chris
      I saw the terrible bushfires on the news here, I have relatives in Adelaide and have spent time there many years back so always take an interest in the area. As I leave home in the dark and get home in the dark at the moment the blog posts I think may be fewer as I have nothing much to share! But I am sure it will increase as our spring arrives, can’t wait

  11. nanacathy2 says:

    Thank you for afternoon tea, my carrot cake was moist and utterly delicious. I admired your beautiful cross stitch, and congratulated you on your role on the trial. I wondered about the ivy as it has a mind of it’s own especially when your back is turned and you realise it’s reached the bedroom window! The weather is ghastly so perfect for hunkering down for a while. Thanks for your company!

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Cathy
      Ooh carrot cake, that would be nice but I often find it very heavy. I think if you choose the ivy carefully it will be ok and I know I will have to keep it in check but then if you want the smaller leaves it’s good to keep it pruned

  12. homeslip says:

    I’ve been switched off from my garden since October as I get to grips with our new cottage. Bulbs are appearing and I was delighted to see the grey green shoots of snowdrops in the cottage garden yesterday. I’ve been finding cross stitch samplers I sewed for the children which I will hang in the cottage bedrooms. I’m relaxing with sewing English Paper Piecing Hexagons for a patchwork quilt. I have a lot of curtains to alter and adapt so it’s nice to have something mindless I can do in front of the fire while listening to the radio.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi home slip
      How exciting to have a new garden, it must be fascinating to see what appears as seasons progress. I haven’t done patchwork for years, I remember doing the paper hexagons when I was school, will look forward to seeing how you progress

  13. Anna says:

    I would have to ask you if I could have coffee instead Helen but would certainly be up for a chocolate choux bun. January is a rather odd month when I think that many of us feel flat and in need of an energy boost. Still a perfect time to get on with other projects. Your cross stitch gift looks as if it will provide a welcome challenge whilst you’re having a breather from the garden.

    1. Helen Johnstone says:

      Hi Anna
      I think you would have to bring your coffee as I am hopeless at making coffee. I did spend a bit of time outside today and can feel the gardening urges starting to itch

  14. Linda says:

    Good for you! I have also been blogging for 8 years and can be pretty obsessive about it. A break is a smart thing especially in winter. This is my time for reading and art projects so I may blog about them or just slow down.

  15. Cathy says:

    It’s good to have broken free from from the need to blog – only twice last week for me! How exciting to be invoved in these trials – and to have an official RHS badge too!! 😉 Hope your Mum finds what she feels is the right stone for your sister’s grave and that she will be a little more at rest once she does. Enjoy the embroidery – there looks a lot of threads to the inch on your fabric!!

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s