Winston Churchill stated that it was necessary to have at least three hobbies to gain full mental benefit from them,
“Change is the master key. A man can wear out a particular part of his mind by constantly using it and tiring it …. the tired part of the mind can be rested and strengthened, not merely by rest, but by using other parts. It is not enough to merely switch off the lights, which play upon the main and ordinary field of interest, a new field of interest must be illuminated ….” Churchill He also said “If it wasn’t for painting, I couldn’t live. I couldn’t bear the strain of things” He also enjoyed card games, listening to music and reading.
In the current pandemic, people are sometimes using their enforced leisure to take up new and existing hobbies. The Merrian Webster dictionary confirms Churchill’s experiences, by defining a hobby as ” a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation engaged in especially for relaxation.”
My hobbies have included writing poetry and acrylic painting, but my main hobby these days is Instagram. I find it extremely relaxing to scroll down the screen, knowing that I will largely be presented with the posts of people I have chosen to follow. There are also sponsored posts, which may lead to finding a new person. Instagram has enabled me to travel the world, seeing photos and videos taken by people across the globe. There are wonderful mountains, lakes and sunsets as well as historic buildings to enjoy. Sportspeople, artists, politicians, and of course, celebrities are also present! There is something for every taste.
I have managed to post over three thousand photos over the last two years, largely without leaving my house and garden! In 1996 I did a short six-week course in “How to Paint and Draw” at the local Further Education Centre. At the end of the course, I remember the teacher saying that ” from now on you will all see things in a new way ” I think that this has influenced my photography, enabling me to see a picture in things, that I would once have thought insignificant. To my mind a patch of moss or a lawn full of dandelions are worthy of a shot.
In the New Year, Instagram can on request, produce the top nine photographs taken by the photographer during the past year. These are selected according to the number of “likes” each photograph has attracted. The selection does not always please people, who sometimes make up collages of their own top nine!
I have noticed that people do not often repost the work of other people, which I regularly do, of course crediting the photographer. Very rarely do people object and are generally pleased by the appreciation of their work. However, this habit has resulted in few of my own efforts reaching the Instagram Top Nine. This does not bother me greatly, because I know that I can post my own selection, which will be seen by the dozen or so people, who regularly follow my work. An added bonus of Instagram is that people can have nice conversations about the photographs posted and it is a “kinder gentler” forum than twitter! If you are looking for a hobby, the last thing you need is aggro!
In the nineteen sixties I worked in London stores. Worked as an Insurance Clerk in the City of London during the nineteen seventies. Divorced in the nineteen nineties. Now I am a retired Civil Servant, managing home and garden and escaping onto social media whenever possible.
I am really looking forward to going out again into my small garden in the Spring. It is just the right size for me to ‘mismanage’ at about 17 feet in width by 15 feet in length, more or less forming a square. As you can see from the pictures, it largely takes care of itself.
I have to say it makes a pretty good job of it, more so than you would guess from winter viewing. The thin foliage at the end of the garden transforms into a blackberry bush, with blossom that attracts honey bees. I know that it is a tough plant, because it grew from a shoot that protruded a couple of inches through the earth in 2019, when the fence was replaced.
Half of the garden was truly barren then, but sprinkling with grass seed, restored it. I did have to intervene at that point, but fortunately no skill was required. I trod in the seeds, following instructions on a U tube video. It was not apparently necessary to water them in our climate (I did) or worry if they survived. “One for the rook, one for the crow, one to die, and one to grow” was the advice.
As you can see the grass is growing fine. There is also a patch of Ladies Mantle, which has chosen to appear in the middle of the garden. This is a very hardy plant, which seeded itself and must have escaped from the border.
The only plant that was bought forty years ago is the rose bush, which has become wild. There are a few rose hips visible now, still surviving the season. Ignoring advice from family to remove it, I actually cherish it, no matter that the lower branches will remain bare even in the summer months.
The small birds love to perch on them. I did have to stop filling the bird feeder, after seeing that a small mouse was making regular trips to collect the seeds. I did feel a bit mean when he finally retreated with empty paws, back along the fence. Believe it or not, the rose bush actually creates a bower that I can sit under in the summer.
I sit by the garden gate, next to the blackberry bush and admire the sun shining through the ferns and grasses growing beneath it.
I have to say that the opposite fence remains quite bare, apart from a few fence ornaments, unless the Ladies Mantle decides to take over and I say, “go for it”! I erected the Sunflower, which came described as a garden sculpture to distract from this, and for me this works. I should mention the Ash Tree, growing only a few feet from the back door.
I thought that it was another wild plant coming to help me out , but someone on Instagram informed me that it is actually a tree, or would be if I let it grow. At the moment it is just a bare stick in the ground, having dropped all its leaves.
I should really remove it, but it is tempting to leave it and cut it back each year. There was a time when I had to do quite a lot of pruning on the rose bush, which split into two and partially obstructed the garden gate. I don’t think that will be necessary this year, but you never know.
I am happy with my wild garden.
There is a magnificent camellia bush that has grown through the fence from next door, but I can take no credit for that. So long as you have a garden that pleases you, that it all that matters, so I say in the well-known phrase “Enjoy your garden”
Postscript – Any sort of garden is immensely valued in the pandemic by anyone lucky enough to own one.