Sunday, 23 November 2014

Sunday afternoon

A dry afternoon, too good to waste.  We headed up high, where the mud is less and the views are good.

This is the top of Painswick Beacon.  It was an old Iron Age hill fort over two thousand years ago.  A Roman villa has been found not far from here as well.  People have been climbing up to this point to look at the lie of the land since the beginning.

I think these are deadly nightshade berries.  Nothing was eating them anyway.

As the sun started to set it dipped below the clouds, and beautiful winter light lit up the land.  You may remember from previous trips here that this is the place that the little people like to practice for being in the SAS.  The dips are perfect for setting ambushes.

Cotswold stone, lit by the setting sun.  A handful of people actually get to live in places like this.  I hope they know how lucky they are.

I'm happy with our non-Cotswold stone home though, happy to share it with these vibrant little people.  Never for one minute forgetting how lucky I am.

As we drove home the sun set and the sky turned pink.

I hope you had some good weather today too, and that you managed a little outside time.  It's what Sundays are for.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

The Colour Collaborative: November: Leaf

Although it's November and most of the leaves are orange and red and yellow, I've come here to talk about the colour I love the most when it comes to gardens and the countryside, green.

I don't dislike autumn, far from it, but my favourite time of year is early summer, when the new leaves are stretching to their full potential, turning from a fresh acid colour to a deep healthy green.  The air feels invigorated with their growth, almost as if I can feel all of that oxygen pumping into the atmosphere.

A big part of the beauty of the English countryside is its greenness.  Everywhere you look, something is growing.  In spring and summer it completely takes my breath away.  I love the woods and the hedgerows, the pretty gardens and dark green leaves against ancient stone.

There's every shade of green out there, from the palest mint to the deepest bottle green.  I'm always really drawn to gardens filled with just green.  The different textures and colours can be truly beautiful.  The structure of evergreens, the movement of grasses and the drama of more tropical leaves.  And they all do their bit for the environment.

The green leaves of the world are such an antidote to everything we do that pollutes our planet.  The cleansing breath of the rainforest provides 20% of our oxygen.  Of course, every tree helps, it doesn't have to be in the rainforest.  I've always loved houseplants too, I used to have over eighty before I moved here.  Mostly green leafy ones, not many had flowers.  It was a little bit of the rainforest in my home.

Wherever I am, I'm always happier when I'm surrounded by trees and green leafy plants.  It's impossible to go for a walk in the countryside without coming back in a better mood, I guarantee it.  As well as being good for the planet, green is good for the soul.  A world without our leafy plants is unimaginable and our beautiful green landscapes deserve protection and preservation.

To visit the other Colour Collaborative blogs for more of this month's posts, just click on the links below:

           Annie at Annie Cholewa                                  Gillian at Tales from a Happy House

           Sandra at Cherry Heart                                     Jennifer at Thistlebear

What is The Colour Collaborative?

All creative bloggers make stuff, gather stuff, shape stuff, and share stuff. Mostly they work on their own, but what happens when a group of them work together? Is a creative collaboration greater than the sum of its parts? We think so and we hope you will too. We'll each be offering our own monthly take on a colour related theme, and hoping that in combination our ideas will encourage us, and perhaps you, to think about colour in new ways.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

The November allotment

It's been a long time since I visited the allotment.  The constant dampness has made it pointless to go.  Tramping around on sodden earth is no good, so I've been waiting for a dry spell.  This morning it wasn't exactly dry underfoot, but it was close enough.

It was misty early on, but by eleven o'clock the sun was shining.  Let's wander down to the plot.

Lots of the plots are neat and tidy, ready for winter.  But there are a few overgrown ones which is always sad to see, especially when there's probably still a waiting list.  Look at this one, just waiting for someone to love it.  It's got a nice shed too.

Down at my plot there were one or two surprises, not all of them good.  This was what the tops of all of the sprout plants looked like.  Pigeons I think.  It's the time of year when cabbagey things are looking good to them.  Underneath the sprouts still looked fine, although obviously the plants are struggling now.

The good surprise was this.

Artichokes!  I cut the plants down a while back.  To be more precise the two smaller boys had a blast cutting them down with the fruit saw.  They've completely grown back, and there were two delicious buds.  Not huge, but good enough.  They're in the fridge now, waiting to be eaten.

There were a few final straggling flowers, as well as asparagus with red berries that needs to be cut down, and the biggest boy's leeks.

I did some weeding, clearing a strip for garlic planting, and while I worked the sun burned through the mist.  I planted the garlic, it was so satisfying to actually get a job done today.  Planting garlic is one of my favourite allotment jobs.  As everything else is dwindling and dying, the garlic is starting to grow, the beginning of the growing season, a reminder in the depth of winter that spring will return, with its optimistic green shoots.

It was a pleasure to be back down there today.  I might go again tomorrow if it's dry.  There's a long list of things to do, so I'm needing a long dry spell really.  It probably won't happen that way, but I'll take what I can get.

This evening we went to see the town's Christmas lights turned on.  Some famous boy singers were there doing the honours and lots of girls were screaming.

So that's it, the lights are on, the countdown has begun.  I'm off to write a list.  Bring it on.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

A post, carried (after a fashion) by a carrot

So I wanted to come here and write, about something, nothing specific, just this and that, but when I looked for some photos from these short dark days there were almost none.  The trouble is the rain and the lack of light.  Indoor photos are yellow.  Outside, well, it's been raining.  I haven't been to the allotment for ages, although there's a big list of things to be done there.  It's been so wet that trampling around on the soil wouldn't have done it any good at all.  The sun did come out on Tuesday, but only after the clouds had filled the puddles all the way up.

I got the memory card out of the camera and put it in the laptop.  Since Sunday what photos were there?  What happy memories preserved for all eternity, what record of days spent in bucolic pleasure, what pictures of cheek clenching excitement and riotous fun, what pretty things made and what goals achieved?  There was a carrot.  To be precise, there was this carrot.

I know, words failed me too.  But this is what I have (and in fact all I have) so I'm telling you about it.  Brace yourselves.

I grew it myself you know.  I made my usual early season attempt to grow a nice carrot patch, to feed the children, and the other half and in fact the guinea pig.  In this house I can't imagine there ever being any such thing as too many carrots.   (Although you will note that I'm not queuing up to eat them myself).  It involves making neat little rows in the soil, emptying two or three packets of seed in, covering them up, and marvelling at how any seedlings that appear then miraculously disappear overnight.  Then after a few weeks I plant something else there instead and put it all down to experience and swear that next year I will do better.  

But this year I tried again, late in the season, and blow me down I have thirteen, count them, thirteen carrots.  Me and the guinea pig were beyond excited.  I waited and waited for them to grow.  I knew they'd never be huge, but finally they looked sort of promising, what with their nice green tops and what looked like decent carrot shoulders (this is the proper term for the top of the carrot, I'm sure it is).  So as the weather deteriorated I made the wild decision to pull one out.  And there it is.  Not so much carrot as stump.  I was expecting so much more.  I don't know why.  The triumph of hope over experience I suppose.  But there it is.  I'm over it now.  And I'm almost certain the others will all be long and straight and smooth.  

I know the disappointment of just one photo would be hard to bear, so I have another.  The close-up.  Are you ready?

There is promise there I think.  It's almost as if things started out well but then there was a crisis, or an event of some kind and what could have been something ended up being almost nothing.

I shall try harder next time.  But it had been a while and I just really wanted to stop by and say hello.  So please forgive me my sad carrot, and know that I am thinking of you all.  You're probably wondering what it tasted like.  The happy recipient found it quite delicious.

Next time I think I might complain about crochet.  Everyone makes it look so easy, but I am having a knotty, stringy nightmare of a time with it all and nothing makes sense and I really don't deal well at all with things that I can't do.  Bet you can't wait.  Until then, adios amigos.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

The end of the week

A bit of baking with the littlest boy, who had a couple of days off school this week with a temperature.  When he felt better we made some focaccia.  The light was too dim (sunset 4.30pm today!) to photograph the finished object.  It was nice and strangely crumpetty.

I had a nice surprise in the post on Friday, a lovely package from Jane at Flowerhouse who had a giveaway to celebrate her first blog birthday.  As well as the beautiful fabric she sent tea and seeds.  I was very happy.  The tomatoes are ones I particularly wanted to grow next year, I've heard good things about them.  Thanks Jane!

I spent this afternoon walking the middle boy to and from the Remembrance Day parade.  The weather was glorious.  The church was packed, so I didn't stay, but on my way back to collect him I had a wander down to look at the castle.  A moment for reflection.