It really only seems a couple of weeks ago that it was Christmas, and yet here we are, having just had Easter weekend. Sometimes we feel that we don’t seem to do much with our time, but with a quarter of the year already gone and the fruits of our labours beginning to show in the garden, I think that we must occupy ourselves quite well, despite not really – until very, very, very recently – being able to really go anywhere. However, slowly, slowly things are beginning to awaken. Although Istria is still in a kind of lock down state, restaurants and bars which have outside areas have started to re-open and tourists are beginning to return. From 1st April, people who have been vaccinated or have a negative PCR or EU-approved Antigen test, can enter Croatia. We’ve started seeing cars from different countries – definitely not as many as we’d normally see at this time of year, but there is something nice about seeing a license plate other than from Croatia.
We’re spending a fair bit of time in the garden, getting it ready for the summer. And hopefully, for new owners. The lavender plants are now bedded in and the crocus bulbs are beginning to push up through the soil. Where we’ve cleared the trees, we’ve sown wild flower seeds and these are now beginning to show. No sign of the sunflowers, yet, though. The dahlias have all been potted and have been sitting in the warm spring sunshine. Under the well room windows, we have a long raised bed which is now filled with varieties of hyacinths – the blues and purples are utterly gorgeous, and the aroma is just intoxicating.
Good Friday was glorious – very sunny and very warm, so we took the opportunity to begin the job of finishing off the shed which we built last year. When it was constructed and painted, it took quite a long time and I think we were just a bit of sick of working on it, and so a top coat was never applied inside and the door, on the inside, only had one coat of satinwood, so it was all looking a bit sorry for itself. Also, we wanted to investigate why wasps were beginning to find the shed interesting – everything was taken out as we thought there might be a nest. No nest in sight, but an empty shed, so we decided to crack on and get it finished. I didn’t want a shed in the garden to be filled with tools and be a bit of a mess – we have an external cellar that can accommodate work stuff, so the idea has always been to use it for storage of sun bed pads, seat cushions, the hammock – the kind of things we’d use throughout the summer and need easy access to. As well as sitting pretty in a garden we’re now investing a lot of time and effort into. I’ve always been taken by this photo and all along this has been my shed inspiration…
Over Easter, we made good headway with finishing the shed. All of the paint pots and tools have a new home in the cellar and now everything is easy to find. It felt good getting the cushions, pads, throws and hammock out of their winter wrapping and getting order in a little space which we think we finally come into its own over the summer. Hanging baskets, bursting with lilac and white and purple petunias have added immediate colour and our purple clematis has been repositioned against the side of the shed, and this will hopefully grow up and over.
The garden furniture has had an Easter makeover too. The table and chairs – originally brown, but spray painted in an anthracite colour by us – have been spruced up. Two years of sun and rain had weathered them and the colour was starting to fade, but they look as good as new now. Equally, the sun loungers – originally brown wood – were sprayed at the same time as the table and chairs, but were also faded and weather beaten. It’s proving to be quite a slow job, as we’re finally doing them properly – tightened, washed, sanded, two coats – but the one that is almost finished is looking so much better now that it’s been painted in the same soft blue satinwood as all of the exterior woodwork.
We could also finally actually eat outside of our own house this weekend, and after a stop off at the new renovation to begin making a plan with our builder, we had our first visit of the year to our local Konoba in Oprtalj. Overlooking hills and valleys and vineyards, with a sliver of The Adriatic in the distance, it is in the most perfect location. It was a real treat to eat some fresh pasta with local wine, sitting under the big chestnut tree on the terrace, as the sun started to set.
A gorgeous weekend, filled with sunshine, good food, hard work and the thought that summer is tantalisingly close. Fast forward to Tuesday morning. Let’s see how all of those budding bulbs and shoots of wild flowers have fared when the snow has melted away. Just as well we checked the weather, as we managed to get the potted dahlias into the warmth and cover the long raised bed of hyacinths, but we’ll have to wait and see what carnage lies beneath that very pretty snow…