After three full-on days teaching a diploma course, I am left feeling wiped out. Don’t get me wrong, the learners were great, the field trip turned out really well and the whole experience was both positive and stimulating, but it has left  me feeling drained and unable to do very much.

Some days should be about relaxing... Max and Mr Snail demonstrate one approach

Some days should be about relaxing… Max and Mr Snail demonstrate one approach

However, trying to lead a more sustainable life means finding the balance and knowing when it’s necessary to relax and regain your energy. As a result, today I have been gentle on myself – a stroll with the dogs and Mr Snail this morning after a trip to the post office, charity shop (two more bags of “stuff” gone) and newspaper shop. Then coffee and the newspaper (I don’t read the news bit) before some blog reading and posting a few pictures on Ravelry of my latest projects.

It’s a chilly day today, so Mr Snail suggested making lasagne – with the dual purpose of providing a delicious hot meal and warming the house whilst the oven is on. I always like to maximise oven use, so I have also made charcoal biscuits for the dogs and those are cooking along with dinner. In addition, I’ve made a start on a new scarf – this one a Welsh dragon, so the main colour is red.

Even on days when I don’t do much I always try to be creative… how about you?


I had always understood that the place to go for a bit of peace and quiet was the shed… where, in 1970s sitcoms, a man might escape from a nagging wife (marriage being obligatory and involving two genders in those days) and enjoy… well, I’m not sure what exactly, on account of being (1) female and (2) aged three at the beginning of the 1970s. Anyway, it was always the shed: sometimes as far away as an allotment, but often in the garden.

We don’t have a very big garden and consequently, we don’t have a very big shed. So, once the plant pots, shredder, potatoes, spades, fork, spare netting, canes, and lawn mower** are in there, there is standing room only. In addition, when we bought our shed, we chose to have one without windows (the weak point in the old shed), so once the door is closed it’s both claustrophobic and dark. Call me picky, but I don’t find that combination particularly relaxing.

My greenhouse... hoping it will breed with next-door's

In the theory of 1970s sitcoms, I guess that I should be the one in the house doing the nagging and Mr Snail-of-happiness should be seeking refuge in some garden structure. However, he has his studio/workshop (formerly the spare bedroom) and I seek my respite (from scientific editing, not from Mr S-o-h) in the garden. It would be lovely simply to sit out on the bench and chat to the chickens (they always come over to see what’s going on), but this is west Wales and we are considering buying a dinghy and trading the chickens in for some ducks, so shelter is often required. And so, I often find myself spending a happy ten minutes pottering in the greenhouse, examining what has germinated, watering and generally enjoying being with growing plants. This seems to me, so much better than a shed – it’s light, there may be things to eat and when there is a little sunshine it’s lovely and warm in there. My long-term plan is to make sure that there is always something growing in my greenhouse, whatever the time of year. In this respect I have been inspired by the home-made geodesic dome up at Blaeneinion, where there seem to be salad leaves, at least, always available.

My trip out there earlier today revealed lots of bean germination – both runner and pea-beans (featured in the Guardian last weekend). None had made a bid for freedom today, but my ‘jumping bean’has not germinated, so I suspect a mouse was responsible for the earlier migration and that it might have consumed the embryo… resowing probably required. Nevertheless, the greenhouse has restorative properties for me… I think I need to put a chair out there… and possibly some gin and tonic.

Germinating beans

** A complete white elephant, since we no longer have a lawn… the chickens ate it!

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