A Chocolate Ganache Birthday

I've always loved having my birthday in the month of May,
on the fifteenth of this beautiful month to be exact.
Very often, we go through a colder period just before mid-May
which is known as Blackthorn Winter or the Ice Saints.
Very often, my birthday catches the tail-end of these colder days.
So be it
it's just a matter of adapting!
This is the first birthday that I spent completely on my own
because of the Covid-19 and the need for social distancing.
I made my own cake and froze some of the slices to share when I can finally have a social life again!

The second Sunday in May is Mother's Day here in Switzerland
So it's lovely to have two celebrations really close together!
These beautiful flowers and the lovely rose petal card were sent to be by my son.

Such a beautiful choice of my favourite pastel-coloured flowers
and very much appreciated.
Then it was my birthday with beautiful peonies and some cards.
Many lovely phone calls, facetime and e-cards and messages.

Peonies, with Lily of the Valley, are my favourite flowers in May

They are beautiful even when their petals start to drop.

For my birthday, I received a charming Swarovski crystal Blue Jay ornament
from my daughter.

My balcony has been a real joy during this period of confinement.
I purchased new plants and have filled my life with colour
and the buzz of bees collecting pollen.
This little corner is right opposite my kitchen
and this is where I sit to eat and to read.
I made the small blanket on the back of the chair way back in January
when I was inspired by the colours in a January sunrise.

My strawberry plants are doing so well.
This morning, I counted over fifty tiny strawberries developing!

I have twelve new geranium plants and this coral colour is my favourite.

Besides having eight window boxes along the railings of my balcony,
I have several pots of different shapes and sizes
and one of them contains three beautiful dahlia plants. 
This is one of them.
I do love the perfect symmetry of their petals and they come in such wonderful colours.

Another pot contains African Daisies
(Botanical name: Osteospermum)

Yellow and Pink live together in harmony.

There is a big pot of Campanula and these little flowers have been coming back
year after year.

Frequent and daily walks have kept my spirits up during these days of self-isolation.
After three weeks of total lockdown in March,
I started to go out for very early morning walks when virtually nobody else was out and about.
Now I walk twice a day, once in the mornings and then again in the early evenings
after shops close, around 7 pm.
The lighting is so pretty at that time of the day.
I passed by this colourful red house one evening this week
and I loved the play of sunlight and shadows and complementary green leaves.

An early morning walk took me past a beautiful Dogwood Tree in full bloom

Up some steps lined with a Beauty Bush
also called Kolkwitzia Amabilis

Here are the lovely flowers close up.

Closer to home, growing by the small allottments next to my building,
I saw these Starflowers (Borage) in the morning dew.

Reconnecting to Nature
This morning, Sunday, I walked down to the big park which is about 25 minutes away on foot.
I felt the need to be among trees and greenery
and to my joy, the Rhododendrons were still in bloom.

This colour took my breath away.

We can do so much to keep our spirits up when going through 
a difficult period.
It's helpful to live in the moment
to seek out beauty
to connect with Nature
and not project any fears concerning the future
which actually only exists in our imagination!

My Spring Garden crochet project is moving forward.
I'm planning on making a cover for the chest at the end of my bed,
but who knows, it may want to grow bigger!

How are you doing?
Are you discovering new and lovely things in your life?
The present situation helps us recognize the essential.

Getting Out and About

A pink sunrise sky reflected in the windows of a passing house. 
The walls were bathed in a lovely shade of pale purple.

Three weeks into confinement and being  enclosed within the four walls of my apartment,
I started to go for pre-dawn walks.
It was wonderful to leave home under a still-dark sky, listen to the birds singing
and gradually watch the sky lighten.

One morning, I captured a sweet crescent moon above the roofs and chimneys near my home.

The sky showed me all its prettiest shades of blue and purple.

One morning, I saw a solitary worker at his computer around 6.30 in the morning.
This was in the Radio Building in the neighbourhood just above mine.

Lilac and pink and tree silhouettes.

Mountain peaks from further up the hill and a hazy sky.

I stopped in my tracks to listen to a blackbird singing on a chimney top.

As the days got longer and the mornings lighter, I was able to capture flowers too.
My walks were any time from 5.45 am and I was always home by 7 am.
There are extremely few people out and about at this early hour, maybe a dog walker or two
or a jogger, sometimes an early-morning worker, like the young man above.

Lockdown meant that only people holding jobs that were absolutely necessary
were out and travelling by bike or bus.

Discovering sweet smelling lilac towards the end of my outing
was pure joy!

Pink blossom and white lilac were so refreshing
and I lingered awhile to take in the wonderful perfume.

Apple Blossom full of promises of autumn apples.

Pink blossom and colour coordinated shutters which I can now see
in the lightening sky.

On Sunday morning, I left home a little later to capture the spring colours.
Pretty fluttering birch leaves and smudges of blue muscari flowers in the grass.
I only met early-morning dog walkers and we all respected the 2-metre social distancing.

More lilac!
What a wonderful flowering bush.

From April 27th, Switzerland started to ease lockdown and a few changes were made:
Doctor's surgeries opened
Physiotherapists and Osteopaths could work again
Hairdressers and podiatrists were allowed to open
and crèches for pre-school children.
Garden centres opened too and were immediately flooded with enthusiastic gardeners!

Face masks are recommended when we go out into public places
but especially on public transport.
Hand gel is also something useful to have in a pocket or bag.
Mine is really lovely
and made with 71,9% alcohol with added AloeVera
and these essential oils: Teatree, Lavender and Lemon.
Frequent and thorough handwashing is an essential hygiene measure
every time we return home after going out.

The brightest and most cheerful violas on my balcony.

One last pre-dawn sky taken around 6 am.

My crocheted temperature blanket with a few warmer colours coming in!
I have more crochet work to show, but that will be for next time!

Such strange times indeed, but times in which we can discover new values,
read interesting books, 
watch uplifting films,
go for walks in nature
and consider ourselves extremely lucky, compared to so many.

Films I have enjoyed since my last blog entry in April:
The Bucket List with Jack Nicolson and Morgan Freeman (laughter and tears)
Forrest Gump: with Tom Hanks (touching and lovely)
You've Got Mail: Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks (happy ending)
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, based on the true story of Malawian 13-year-old William Kamkwamba , who saved his town from famine by building windmills that would provide water and electricity.
(It's dramatic, inspiring and reminds us how fortunate we all are...)

Lily of the the Valley for the month of May.