The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Off colour

Photo: Cloudy Sky

Photo: Cloudy Sky

“Why don’t you spend the day in bed if you’re feeling off colour? The Min Pins would love it. I’ll bring you a hottie and breakfast in bed in half an hour.”

These past few days I’ve been feeling really odd. Light headed and detached. Not wanting to go to work and longing to stay under the capacious duvet.
“I was planning to get out into the garden.”
“But it’s pouring with rain!”
So I finished the fascinating book I’ve been reading this week. What The Animals Tell Me by Sonya Fitzpatrick. She’s a real life Doctor Doolittle, born in England and living in America.

When I read the last page and closed the book, sunshine suddenly burst through the window. So I dressed quickly as sped down to the garden.

I’ve been digging the bindweed from the fruit cage borders beside the chicken run. Just 45 minutes when I return early enough from work. Now that the clocks have changed to British Summer TimeI can spend an extra hour in the garden. I finished digging over the fruit cages, planted two rows of shallots in the kitchen garden and as I started to tackle the main herbaceous border, I was entertained by the sonorous carousel of the annual frog bacchanal. I finally came into the warm kitchen when it was too dark to see a weed. Feeling clear headed and far more positive.

Gardening is a truly therapeutic activity. Particularly when you are growing your own food and flowers. I read a book three years ago written by a man who was suffering from depression and started to tend an allotment with his friend. The book is good. You see the man’s life gradually opening like a flower. Yet this  is a gritty belt and braces book,  describing the challenge of taking on an allotment with little gardening experience. Allotted Time by Robin Shelton  literally inspires  me every time that I want to retire to under a warm duvet and withdraw from the world.

If you would like to win my copy of this book, leave a comment on this post.  You could be the owner of a hardback book that I found inspirational and that has really helped me tackle my blacker moments.

  Leave a reply


  1. So sorry that you have been feeling below par. It’s amazing how the sunshine can totally change a mood and it came at just the right time when you had just finished reading your book. That bindweed job is one that I find really absorbing in tracing the roots through the soil. I bet the chickens were really concentrating on you! x

  2. I have been following your blog for almost a year now. You always impress me with your attitude towards life. When you tell your stories about the Min Pins, your darling hens or the people you meet, it is so well written that I can see them clearly in front of me.
    If you ever decide to change your line of work, why not write a book? I am sure you will get a big audience, also here in Norway.
    All the best, Lone.

  3. Quatrefoil

    I’ve just found your lovely blog and am about to greedily read up your past entries. I used to live in England and am now in a flat in suburbia in Australia, missing the countryside and the chance to grow things. Perhaps you’ll inspire me to find a community garden.

    I hope you feel better soon.

  4. kate (uk)

    When in down mode all those gardening jobs seem enormous and impossible- but get outside and they just fly by.AND you feel so much better afterwards.
    Not a good time of year- been down too, but the sunshine this morning got me going, duster out, washing on the line, gardening about to commence…Have a good day Fiona x

  5. Get better soon F’. I like the allotment as it is hard manual labour, for get everything but your foot, the spade and the earth. It connects you and revitalises you.

    Hope you are feeling better today!

  6. Hope you are feeling better, with a little more energy, but there is nothing better when it’s raining than to snuggle under the covers with a good book.

  7. I think there are a lot of us around who have that sort of a weekend. I ended the day by taking the dog onto the hills to run after sticks in the sun.

    I love reading your blog and it was finding your blog that introduced me to the world of blogging which has helped me to blossom within my life.

    I don’t have a very big garden at all and so have little gardening experience. I long for an allotment and have signed up for the Landshare scheme and am crossing my fingers…

    This sounds like a book I would love to read and I expect I shall splurge out and buy it at some point…

  8. Margaret

    I know just what you mean. After recovering from pneumonia the past six weeks, yesterday was the first time I have been able to get outside. The sun was wonderful and burned into my back as I sat planting seeds. Nature certainly cures. I have ordered Alloted Time from the library, looks interesting.

    Enjoy your gardening.


  9. Michelle in NZ

    On the opposite side of the World, with the opposite season yet it was similar for me today.

    Snuggling up to a purring puss-cat (snuggling up to 3 Minpins and a hottie – you must have been feeling very low) this morning, not wanting to face the World.

    Then the contrasting joy of taking the washing off the line and folding it while still outside in a temperature of 23C. Zebbycat soaking up the brilliant sunshine while the Tuis had territorial battles in the Ngaio tree – the tree’s berries are ripely purple. And no splats on the washing from the birds’ berry consumption

    Brushing against the pots of herbs as I headed back inside, so wonderful scents were released and the dry clothes and towels smelt so fresh.

    And as it became chilly I cooked. Quince jelly, focaccia bread and cheese crackers. the flat soon warmed from the oven’s warmth.

    Like gardening, there is something very therapeutic about kneading dough. An excellent stress release and the gentle rhythum takes me miles away from noticing the symptoms of my various health hiccups. Next I read your post…

    The “Frog chorus of Fiona” sounds restful compared to the rowdy bickering of the Tui birds. They are beautiful yet oh so loud. And there is healing from the black spots in both these glorious seasons, Autumn and Spring.

    Thank you for inspiring me to stop and think about this, may your garden grow all the useful plants as the year warms up for you.

    Enough rambling and raving from me, I’ll go hug the cat, Michelle

  10. I’m glad you went for the duvet option to start with, that way you got the best of both worlds and the Min Pins had a treat too. Hope you have sunshine today!! x

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