Before I moved here I thought that May would be my favourite month. A time when the days are longer and lighter, the weather warmer and late spring flowers erupting everywhere, in the hedgerows, along the coastal cliffs and in the woodlands. I thought I’d be out and about a lot more than I have been, but then I wasn’t expecting to be living in a cloud for the best part of a week. Especially when the rest of the country appeared to be roasting in a heat wave. Welcome to Cornwall.

cows
meet the neighbours…

I can’t say that the foggy weather actually bothered me too much, for one thing I don’t cope well with heat. As a fair skinned former redhead the sun has never been my friend. So soaring temperatures are not what I look forward to. Watching the hills appear and retreat in the mist was interesting. Flocks of seagulls took over the field and the cows laid down. All the little garden birds seemed to disappear. It was quietly eerie, or is that eerily quiet?

she-who-keeps-me-awake-at-night
she-who-keeps-me-awake-at-night

At the end of April we visited an Open Garden near Redruth – Scorrier House. It is not normally open to the public so I thought it would be a lovely opportunity to see the camellias and rhododendrons there. In reality it was disappointing. The gardens were quite small and not much was in flower. It feels a little neglected, but as the entry fee goes to charity I didn’t feel too bad. And I got a few decent shots.

On the way home we drove along the coast road, stopping off at one of the North Cliffs car parks and strolling along the coastal path. Lovely views north to Porthtreath and south to Hell’s Mouth and Navax Point and lots of lovely wild flowers including bluebells, gorse, red campion, wild onion, Danish scurvy grass and dog violets.

North Cliffs
North Cliffs

I returned to the Tremenheere Sculpture Garden on one sunny day in early May with the idea of photographing textures. Not a bad idea, but the camera had other plans and began to freeze and lock after every picture. That quickly became very annoying. I almost had the garden to myself and spent a happy hour sitting with a book before heading for the restaurant and having a lovely lunch of smoked haddock, crème fraîche and leek quiche served with warmed new potatoes and mixed leaves washed down with a fresh, suitably tangy local lemon drink.

I also bought a longer stepladder and managed to clean most of the Velux windows – outside and in – I ordered lovely wrought-iron curtain poles for two other windows and the OH managed to put up a couple of new window blinds. We also decided on a new house name sign in Cornish slate, but still looking for a mailbox. I quite fancied a very ornate looking one with sculptured narcissi, a tortoise and a dragonfly embellishing it, but had to agree that it is probably a little OTT.  I poured over paint charts AGAIN, changing my mind AGAIN. White? Off-white? Grey-white? So many choices. I found the box containing my cookery books and recipes so I could once again make my favourite chowder and in doing so discovered my gardening books which meant a few lost hours sitting in the conservatory and pouring over ideas for the garden. It is a little garden by the way. So there is no way I can have it all.

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Art effects in the conservatory

Talking of which I did get some things done in the garden. Still not sure what is a weed and what is a plant, I am watching and waiting. The daisy lawn got mowed, and the daisies re-appeared within hours it seemed. I always hate mowing daisies. I pulled out a few dozen forget-me-nots as there are many more to enjoy and put in some of my succulents from the pots I brought with me. I pulled out a few nettles, but left some for the insects and bees to enjoy. I pruned what I think is a jasmine as it was in danger of invading the conservatory. It is now shooting out splendidly. Some plants came out of pots and in to the garden. Other pots got moved to the front of the barn where the sun doesn’t reach (north facing) and where hopefully they will be happier.  I planted some sweet-pea and chilli seeds and took some cuttings of other plants that needed chopping. I can’t do much more until someone helps me rebuild the raised beds at the back. The clematis are budding, the trees have greened up and the Cornish walls are sprouting new ferns and Common Hogweed, Herb Robert and Cranesbill, both types of wild hardy geranium. A couple of arum lilies have appeared amongst a cluster of irises that have yet to flower. It’s quite exciting not knowing what is going to erupt next!

In the lanes the hedgerows are a riot of colours. Red campion, bladder campion, bluebells, wild onion, navelwort, maidenhair spleenwort, ferns, herb robert, brambles, gorse, stinging nettles, stitchwort, celandines, white hawthorn, brambles and gorse. Of course.

A Cornish lane
A Cornish lane

Country living is very different. I find myself gazing out of the window watching the antics of the birds and animals. I never knew that calves gambol. Such fun to watch them play, mock charging like baby elephants, chasing the sheep and each other. Nor did I realise how wide a bull’s bum can be! When five of them were let out in to the field in front of us I made a note NOT to walk through that one. We watched a buzzard fly overhead and a horseshoe bat come out at dusk to munch on the swarms of gnats and midges. And one Sunday afternoon the farm across the fields held a gymkhana, so whilst I lazed in the sunshine reading my book I heard a voice over a tannoy announcing Samantha and Hercules coming second. Or poor Hilary who gained 2 penalty points at the last jump. All rather surreal. On another weekend two local farmers (?) were shooting rabbits in the fields nearby. I don’t think I shall ever become a ‘proper’ country person.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
St Ives Harbour

We went in to St Ives a couple of times and found the library (it wasn’t really lost), a butcher, a greengrocer and a baker all pretty much in one street. We took yet more photos of the harbour and the sea and the coast and the beaches. A robin, a blackbird, a long-tailed tit. OH got his new concessionary bus pass. He went to an open mic session at a local pub and when I went to  pick him up at 11:23 it was still in full swing. An hour later I drove him home. I have since given him a couple of business cards for local taxi firms.

We discovered another farm shop where the eggs are larger and cheaper as is the saffron cake. But the rose lemonade is more expensive. Swings. Roundabouts.

The highlight of the month is that we gained a new grandchild. Another Aussie boy – Luca – brother to Lorenzo. So now we have granddaughters = 4 and grandsons = 3.  The boys are catching up at last. And at the end of the month three of the English contingent are coming down for a holiday. Goodness knows where they will all sleep given we still have a box mountain in the hallway!

And I had my first barefoot walk on the sand.

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Porthgwidden Beach St Ives

The Cardinal is continuing his photo project throughout 2016 – a blogging event, a monthly photo challenge. Read his blog for the new rules this year (he is running two versions) and to view his interpretation and those of other participants.

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38 thoughts on “Monthly Photo Challenge: May

  1. Did I say before I’m loving the use you’re making of the cardinal’s challenge. So much exploring and so much variety – and that coastline. Your list of flowers is pure poetry, to say nothing of it representing vast knowledge.

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    1. Thank you Meg, you say such lovely things! I am astounded at how many wild flowers there are here, even now I am finding new ones. Went onto ‘our’ hill yesterday to discover it full of bluebells. Such a surprise as I expect them in woodland. Also lots and lots of foxgloves about to burst forth, so I shall be back. Must visit the coast too as there are different flowers to be found there, even orchids on the dunes so I need to go hunting…

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      1. Haha… yes, well it is virtually in our back or rather, front, yard. I feel a sort of kindred ownership of it. I think my ancestors must have lived there way back in the Iron Age 😀

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  2. That’s a very comprehensive roundup, Jude. It seems that you are settling in very well in that rural retreat. Living in a small estate, I have to walk for a few minutes to hear and see what you have over your garden fence, so it must be nice to be able to enjoy that from your conservatory. As for the weather, it hasn’t been so good here either. Rain for a couple of days, until it warmed up yesterday.
    Regards as always, Pete. x

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  3. Oh Jude – I just loved reading your account of your first May in Cornwall. I am enjoying being on this journey of discovery with you.

    Your photos are wonderful and I particularly liked the ‘some sort of tree’. I’m very familiar with that particular species and its mnay different shapes and sizes 😉

    As usual you’re continuing to educate me on plants and flowers. To my surprise, the cranesbill is a geranium that’s been trying to take over my back yard for some time now. They keep coming back as fast as I can pull them out. Maybe I should rethink my strategy and give them a spot to thrive 🙂

    Congratulations on the newest addition to the family. I would imagine your excitement at having a new grandson is tempered by your inability to be there and hold him ❤

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  4. Congratulations on the arrival of Luca! Wonderful that the teams are evening up. Boxes or not I’m sure your visit with the others will be a delight.
    It sounds like you have had a very productive month! For all of the cloud your photos are stunning. I laughed out loud at the image of she who keeps you awake. One does wonder why the agricultural choir practice must happen at night. 🙂

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  5. What a month you’ve had and so much to love here, especially the adorable ginger cow and the forget-me-not-bee. I’m really impressed with your patience with the plants, and I hope it brings you rewards 🙂

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    1. Having waited 10 years for a garden I am more than happy to wait and see for another year. There are lots of plants I would love to buy, but I need to understand what is already here. I think a lot will be removed / cut back eventually but it is so nice to see even weeds (my daughter has arrived and she is going round saying, but these are weeds mum) I don’t think she understands that I actually like the weeds 🙂

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  6. What a delightful account of your new life in Cornwall Jude – have thoroughly enjoyed the read! Many congratulations on your new little grandson too – hope you can come Down Under in the not too distant future! Lovely here at present – cool for the time of year and we’ve had lots of rain (I do love the contrast with the warmer months realise not everyone would be happy with the cooler temperatures and less sun!)

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    1. I actually am glad that we have seasons, makes me appreciate summer and spring and even autumn having lived through the grey days of winter. Endless sunshine is fine, but unless you really enjoy the heat it can be just as debilitating.

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      1. I agree Jude – I’ve always loved the seasons and though I know our winters are hardly the same as northern Europe there is a distinct chill in the air. It’s very different from the summer months plus with having a Mediterranean climate most of our rain falls in autumn and winter.

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  7. I was pleased to see that Danish scurvy grass looks prettier than it sounds. I’m impressed with your ability to wait and see what pops up in your garden next instead of removing everything. As usual, your photos are beautiful, Jude.

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    1. Ah, well, the daughter is here now and blitzed my wild flower garden! As it is where I want my raised beds I am quite happy and some of the wild flowers are a little TOO wild! I think the common hogweed has to come out.

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  8. Idyllic country life Jude. I’m loving your delightful descriptions of a place you now call home. I think fondly of the rustic cow chorus of belches and plops, ginger cow is certainly talking to you. Congratulations on another arrival over here. Where does your English contingent live? You must be looking forward to their visit. Does OH actually sing or play an instrument at the open mic? A good way to get to know the locals.

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    1. Rustic cow chorus? More like a blooming orchestra! But yes, we are getting used to it. The English lot are near south-west London in Esher so quite a long drive here. We used to live 45 minutes away and I do miss being that close. Not on top of each other but close enough to pop round regularly. OH sings and plays guitar so he gets to meet people in the music crowd quite easily.

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      1. Are you musical? I’m afraid I am not. I sang in the school choir as a teenager, but nothing since, and I can’t play any instrument.

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      2. No I am not musical either and, like you, I sang in the school choir. Jack’s boys are very musical playing many instruments and so are the grand kids. Jack loves the blues…

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  9. How did I miss this one? So many tidbits of information! 🙂 🙂 And Jude becoming a country bumpkin with refined tastes in mailboxes 🙂 Do you have to go into St. Ives for your ‘main shop’? Not that that would be a chore. It all sounds wonderfully soothing and relaxed, Jude. (when you haven’t got company, of course 🙂 ) Our garden is really starting to come alive now and I’ve thought of you happily pottering a few times when I’ve been out there.

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    1. St Ives is closest to us but not always the easiest to park in, especially during the school holidays, in fact the roads get very clogged up around here. Think August will be a good time to do the decorating! And yes, I am loving pottering in the garden, can waste a good hour there every day. And I have just ordered some more seeds and herbs to plant!

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    1. The problem we have is that the coastal path runs along the edge of the cliffs so people do walk there! These cliffs have seriously collapsed though due to heavy winter storms. I totally agree with you though, no way would I go too close to the edge.

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