In the merry month of May

Watered plants and did some serious gardening. Took photos of the result of our labour. Smelt the warmth and humidity in the air. Felt the heat behind the neck. Andy put on some sun cream to avoid a pink face later on in the day. Listened to my new favourite Chinese singer through proper speakers, a lovely Christian girl. Listened a bit too much recently, as Andy subtly commented. Changed to Joe Hisaishi’s jazz. Reclined on the sofa and read Pride and Prejudice in Chinese and English at the same time. Clean trousers flapped about on the washing line. New hand cream smells of lavender and rosemary. Tomato and chorizo soup and garlic bread for lunch. Thankful for such a perfect day. And it’s not yesterday or tomorrow, it’s today!

It’s time to look back on May. It’s already the end of the month! That means we’re nearly half way through 2014. (Don’t forget to celebrate International Children’s Day tomorrow whatever your age.) When I worked part-time, I used to write down everything I did on the days I was at home, from having breakfast while listening to the radio, to crochet while watching a film. It assured me that I didn’t completely waste the day. So is the function of my Monthly Review. I want to look back and reflect a little. Plus it’s for the future, maybe 10 years later, I can read this blog and remember who I was.

We spent the first two weeks of May in Beijing. There is a lot to tell you about. But for now, I’ll just say, I’ve been away long enough, that I can see the city that I was so familiar with, that I identified with in a “foreign” light now. No wonder someone said, once you’re a foreigner in a place, you’ll always feel like a foreigner (… or something like that).

Here are a few pictures of the stunning landscape over Ulan Bator. It just made me think, what is Helvellyn to this? The Lake District or even entire England is so lucky to be seen by so many people, to be celebrated by so many painters and poets. But it really is nothing compared to this, or I’m sure many other places in the world. But few people have walked this. I wonder how many people heard of the mountains and valleys in this place? (I still love England and the Lake District though.)

Fly over Oulan BatorFly over Oulan Bator

Fly over Oulan Bator

I finished reading one of SanMao’s books when I was in Beijing. As a brief introduction, she was a well loved writer in China (1943-1991), especially famous for her life in Sahara, filled with colourful stories, energy and passion for life. (I don’t mean to be rude, but I really don’t think many Brits know much about any Chinese writers, alive or dead.) The stories I read during my visit to my family in Beijing happened to be her visit to her family in Taiwan. I also finished reading Pride and Prejudice in Chinese, for the first time! Can you believe it!

Our Home Group cooked for the Parish Lunch this month. Lovely time and good team work. Raw celery sticks never tasted so good. The lasagne and lemon drizzle cake were amazing too. Judi tenderly attended the cake like watching over new born babies. Francesca apologised at the beginning that she couldn’t talk while concentrating on cooking but still managed to utter more words than all the rest of us combined. Apart from preaching, Jonathan definitely has a lot of unmarked talents – he arranged all the flowers, and I heard he’s not a bad singer too. And everyone else! Such a lovely group of people.

My Japanese is a bit non-existent at the moment. I haven’t been teaching Chinese for four weeks since we left for China, which means my student’s Chinese is a bit non-existent as well. Our Etsy shop is a bit neglected also. But hey, I’m doing a demanding full time job now. People can’t expect me to do three more part time jobs at the same time. At least the translation project is going on well. I’ve been meeting all the deadlines without too much stress. And talking about my full time job, I’m gaining a lot of unnecessary knowledge of baby nappies, formula milk and even breast-pumps! AHHH HELP.

I did a pre-wedding shoot for two Chinese friends. I’m pleasantly surprised by the result, which means I’m not a good photographer. Ever since I watched a documentary about photographer Norman Parkinson‘s, I was aware of how much I didn’t know and was not able to do. For example, to know at the point of pressing the shutter that “this is it” without having a digital screen to look at, or to replicate a photo I took and I liked. I just point and shot, then hope for the best.

Another thing I’m a bit bothered about recently is “a photographer’s style” people talk about so much. What does it mean? The two photos below, are they different in style? Or are they just edited differently in Photoshop? P.S for those who are still reading, which one do you prefer? I really want to know what you think :)

Pre-wedding shoot with Doris & QiPre-wedding shoot with Doris & Qi

“Never yet was a springtime, when the buds forgot to bloom.” They certainly didn’t forget to do so this month. The garden is full of life at the moment.

All of these alliums are free offers from Gardeners World magazines (and all the lavenders below as well). So much colour they bring to the garden!

Garden in MayGarden in MayGarden in MayGarden in MayGarden in MayAll of the aquilegias are grown from seeds. They were the first pack of seeds I bought and sowed two years ago. I never imagined they would become like these. I haven’t done anything to them. All the beauty is designed and packed in those tiny seeds. How amazing!

Garden in MayGarden in MayIMG_0039Garden in MayFirst rose to blossom. (The beginning of rose diseases battles.)

Garden in MayMy growing alpine collection, both in variety and in size.

Garden in MayGarden in MayCreeping thyme starts to be in flower too. The plant is so tiny it’s easily lost in the garden. Though insignificant as it is, it grows and flowers as if a celebration of life.

Garden in MayOur new blueberry. I don’t expect it to fruit this year. So if it does, it will be a nice surprise :)

Garden in MayGarden in MayLavenders are nearly in flower. That tip of lavender purple is so full of promise.

Garden in MayMy first attempt of plants combination in a pot – a clematis and a pink anemone. I hope they fall in love with each other as soon as possible.

Garden in MayBeautiful bronze coloured fern. I love the way they uncurl – perfectly alien!

Garden in MaySweet pea babies. They are not very impressive at the moment. But I’m sure they won’t disappoint me in a few weeks time. The only mystery was the Royal Wedding which were not pure white as it showed on the seed package. It was purple last year. Any idea why?

Garden in MaySo are these little things. The three on the left are tomatoes, three on the right are chilli peppers. This is my first try on chilli peppers so I don’t know much about them. But tomatoes are completely triffids in disguise. They grow faster than I can repot them! In the background are the strawberries.

Garden in May

It’s a great delight to find visitors in my garden. Many different birds – I was so pleased to see one sparrow stopped on my rose bush one morning; bees and butterflies – I’m helping in the battle of reviving bees; and a cat – who insisted on coming inside for dinner one Tuesday (he just came in again to play just as I wrote this).

“I thought that spring must last forevermore;
For I was young and loved, and it was May.”
– Vera Brittain

Garden in May

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