Today's post is something different, it's very personal and a little more serious than my usual light hearted reviews and chit chat.
Most of you know I am a keen gardener and although yes it is a hobby, in my heart it means so much more to me than that.
I am dedicating this post to my late Father 1929-1987
A kind, gentle, loving patient man who perhaps wasn't perfect as a man but was perfect as a Father.
When I was about 3 years old my Father was diagnosed with Agoraphobia, which is in layman's terms is an anxiety disorder, the fear of wide open spaces.
Our garden was the only outside space that he felt at ease in and didn't have a crippling panic attack.
He had always been a gardener, and due to the nature of his illness he spent nearly all of his time pottering about in our garden and turned it into the most beautiful flower filled garden - or so it seemed to me as a child - I had ever seen.
I had always been very close to my Father, right from as far back as I can remember, and where ever he was I wanted to be, so this meant I spent nearly as much time as he did in the garden with him.
I was of course interested in anything my Father was doing and made a nuisance of myself until he decided, when I was around 5 years old, that I should have my own small 'garden' and he would teach me how to garden and grow plants.
My very first memory of growing something was a runner bean from seed, we grew them together on our kitchen windowsill and I will always remember the fascination and excitement I felt when to my amazement this funny looking red bean seed sprouted it's first seed leaves.
My Father was so proud of me and I will never ever forget that.
From this moment on I was totally hooked and we continued to garden together growing flowers and vegetables and as I grew older, he taught me more and more not only about gardening but about the wildlife in the garden too.
He taught me the importance of all the birds, insects and any other creature we encountered in the garden and that they all had a part to play in the natural world.
I have never been afraid of bees, spiders or anything else that most ladies would see as being creepy simply because I accepted from any early age that they were part of my life.
Not only did he teach me about gardening but also to stand tall and be proud of who I was. I was one of only two redheaded children in my year at school, unfortunately children can be cruel and I did suffer terribly with bullying from an early age, however my Father was always there with a kind smile, a hug and wise words, and this made all the difference to me knowing whatever I was enduring at school he would always be there for me.
Gardening made the bond between us even stronger ~ a bond that I never, as a child though would ever be broken, until he passed away very suddenly when I was 13.
My Father was taken ill and passed away all while I was at school, within one day he was gone from my life forever and my life was changed forever.
To describe me as being heartbroken really doesn't do justice to what I felt, my heart had been totally shattered and I the emptiness I felt was, and still is in some ways still to this day, indescribable - I felt like my world had ended, and in a way it had.
I really couldn't comprehend that I would never see him, laugh with him, hear his voice or be able to hug him ever again.
Grieving for a loved one is hard at any age but at 13 it was extremely difficult for me to bear, and I became quiet and withdrawn and could have easily gone down the wrong path.
I desperately missed my Father and instead of stepping down the wrong road I poured my grief into the only thing that I found comfort in ~ gardening and being close to nature, by being in the garden I felt I was closer to him even though he wasn't there in person I felt he was somehow there in spirit.
So from 13 onwards I took over the gardening in our house, when it was summer I was outside every spare minute I had and in the winter I would read books about gardening to learn even more. I was determined to keep the garden as beautiful as it always had been, and very very slowly over time I started to smile again and even though most days I was the girl who was smiling on the outside but was still crying on the inside, at least the smile was there.
Gardening and time eventually healed my heart ~ the scar is and will always be there, as nothing or no one can ever replace a parent.
My Father taught me so much in the short time we had together, yes about gardening but so much more than that, he taught me about myself and the unconditional love he gave me, ultimately gave me the strength to carry on in life even when you think you can't.
My only regret is that I never got to say goodbye or tell my Father how much I truly loved him, the sensible part of me knows what happened was beyond my control and that he knew it, just as I knew how much he loved me too but I still wish I had had the chance to tell him.
So if you are lucky enough to still have your Father, and even if you think he knows it, don't delay go and hug him and tell him what he means to you, because one day tomorrow will be too late.
So this is how I came to be a gardener and it is now an integral part of my life.
I cherish the happy memories I have of my childhood with my Father in the garden, it comforted me when I needed it most and it still does today I feel at peace and happiest when I'm outside pottering about tending my plants or just sitting and watching the wildlife.
Even now 25 years later I do still miss him and my life has moved on and I'm by no means perfect but I hope he would be proud of the woman I've become.