I grew up with Nature. One of my favourite pasttimes as a youngster was to pick up rocks at the bottom of the garden to see what was living underneath. I still enjoy that now.
My Granny always encouraged me in my love of wildlife. She had a couple of wildlife ponds in the garden, and I was always happiest watching the tadpoles swimming about. I loved that time of year. I made a couple of wildlife ponds in my own back garden and one in the front this year. She would be happy about that.
We also used to collect the cabbage white caterpillars from her Nasturtiums, and put them in one of those tall plastic sweetie jars that she always had saved for me. We fed them until they turned in to cocoons, and released the butterflies.
I remember the plants she grew in her garden. I loved the Morning Glory. Such beautiful blue flowers that opened in the mornings. Even the closed ones were pretty.. All curled up and fluted like a long snail shell. There was Lemon Geranium. I really liked the smell of the leaves, I struggled for years to find any to grow in my garden, but managed it last year, I found a small pot in the shop at Fordhall Organic Farm. I recognised it straight away, and bought it immediately. It grew really well in my kitchen for a while, until it was too big for the window sill, and it is now in pride of place by my front door. I need to bring it in once the proper winter starts to protect it. It is very precious.
She had sweet peas growing outside the conservatory, they were delightful little pretty flowers, that still remind me of her. MrM calls Daisy ‘Sweet Pea’ sometimes, so I need to grow them in ub our garden for both of them.
Her conservatory was a little wonderland for me. For years it had little trays at floor level, with water and rocks in them. They were little homes for frogs. There was always someone hiding in one of them, and it was a source of great fascination for me to go and visit them. I always left them alone. I was taught a healthy respect for nature. I collected creatures to draw them, or study them, and then I always released them.
I remember she always used to have bird seed of various types in the little conservatory. It had tins with different seeds in, and we used to put them out for the birds. All the seeds of course attracted mice, and of course Granny encouraged them. She used to tell me to be quiet, and show me which the mice were living in.
She liked to cook too. I remember when we were young, she used to make rice crispy cakes with us in our kitchen when she visited, and as we got older, she made Apple Strudel with me, and Stollen. She was Austrian, from Vienna. I loved her Christmas decorations, and the traditional Austrian Christmas foods. Iced Gingerbreads, Liebkuchen etc. It still isn’t really Christmas for me without Stollen. She had a little carousel that went round and chimed when you lit tea light candles underneath it. I adored it. I need to find one, so that Daisy can be as enchanted as I always was with it.
There was a book she used to read to me regularly. It was Strufel Peter or Shock Headed Peter. It was about a little boy who was naughty, and what used to happen to him. She had it in German and English, which fascinated me. I ordered a copy from Amazon, but it wasn’t quite right. It was a weird version, which had prints of the pages in the middle of a bigger page. I will order the right copy to read to Daisy.
We used to sneak chocolate at the top of the stairs, while she was combing my hair. It was the Marks and Spencer layered chocolate, with Milk, White and Dark chocolate. It was like a naughty little secret. We shared a bar together.
I always loved the swing in her garden. It was a simple metal frame, and a wooden seat. It was right next to one of her ivy covered bird tables. It was surrounded by hedging. It was so much better than any other swing. It was just great. You could almost imagine that you were a fairy, flying around in your little wonderland.
Her garden was split in to two halves, with a fence in the middle. It had a compost heap and a rhubarb patch in the back. It was always magical. Looking back, there wasn’t anything particularly special about it, but it always seemed so amazing to me.
Another plant that always reminds me of her is called Honesty. I don’t know the proper name for it, which means I may struggle to buy/order it, but it is quite distinctive, with seed pods that look like oval paper stuck together with dark round seeds in between. That always grew in her garden.
For me, time spent at Granny’s house was time spent amongst nature. There were always animals to see, plants to inspect, and whatever little dog she had at the time to play with.
Thumper was the first one I remember, a Yorkshire Terrier. He came with her when she stayed with her, and I remember a photo of him in a wooden crate bed with our cat, Tip. Then there was Thomas. He was also a Yorkie, and was more grumpy with other people than Thumper was. He came round eventually. Then there seemed to be ages without a dog, and then she got Spencer. He was a rescue, and is a Schnauzer x Poodle. He is overly friendly, and likes to lick a lot. She always was a dog person. She didn’t like cats as much, as she encouraged the birds in to her garden.
I remember once I got a Dalmatian toy dog from her for a birthday, or Christmas. She took me to a pet shop so I could buy it a collar and a lead. I loved that dog. It had a plain white belly, and I felt sad that it didn’t have any spots there, so I got a marker pen and drew some on. She always used to use marker pens to write addresses on parcels too. A random memory, but something I started doing.
It was always good times at Granny’s house. There are a lot of memories to look back on, both inside and outside the house. Tea in the Church in Hereford, and walking through town. I will always remember a lot of these things. Magic times in the garden, adventures with the frogs, and watching a whole underwater civilisation going on with it’s business in her ponds. These are things I hope to pass on to Daisy.
Named Daisy Faith – Faith being Granny’s Maiden name.