Friday, 27 May 2016

Five on Friday

the irises blooming for the first time ever, after about four years!
I'd forgotten what colour they were supposed to be

I can see you

Joining in with Amy and Five on Friday.

A belated Five thanks to a broadband snafu cunningly fixed by the ancient and well-respected technique of Turning It Off And Turning It Back On Again.

1. Enjoying the wonderful light evenings in these weeks approaching the longest day. As the youngest two and I ate a late supper yesterday after a cross country thing we watched a farmer mowing the fields on the hill. A couple were sat at the edge of the field with their dog. It was the perfect modern pastoral scene. The biggest boy was out playing cricket. Is there anything lovelier than a summer’s evening?

2. Thinking I shall do 30 Days Wild with the children in June. I’ve been tipped off as to the location of a green woodpecker’s nest, where you can see a woodpecker flying in and out of a perfectly round hole in a yew tree to feed his/her chicks. Sounds like too good an opportunity to miss. I haven’t seen the list of Wild Things To Be Done yet but maybe birdwatching will be one of them.

3. I’ve just started reading Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl”. It’s one of those books that I’m reading to see what all the fuss is about. I’ve seen it referred to so often, “Following Gone Girl…” “In the manner of Gone Girl” etc. that I thought I’d find out. Anyone here enjoyed it?

4. Down at the allotment most of the cucumbers were mercilessly killed by the huge downpour of rain and hail on Sunday. The squashes and courgettes aren’t looking great either, and I think the achocha have had it, they’re a delicate looking vine in the cucumber family. It’s frustrating to nurture them on the windowsill for so long to have them wiped out in a single blast of weather but in the triumph of hope over experience I shall plant more.

5. Planning a little light caving for the littlest's birthday. We asked the biggest boy if he wanted to join in. He and his father are slightly more wary of tricky spaces than the rest of us. The littlest boy and I in particular share a wild abandon when it comes to such things. The words death wish have been used about us on occasion. 

The biggest boy gave it a moment's thought and then said that yes, he would, after all the instructors would be bigger than him and they must fit through. I said that it would be fine, if he got wedged we would just leave him there for a few days until he was thinner. There was precedent for this; the same thing happened to Winnie the Pooh when he went to Rabbit's and ate too much honey. Rabbit just hung his washing on Pooh and used the back exit for a while until Pooh slimmed down a bit. The biggest boy definitely has the words "stuck" and "wedged" and "tight space" floating around in his head now. Almost certain it won't happen. 

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Colour Collaborative: May: Photograph

It intrigues me how everyone has their own style when they take a photograph. Some bloggers' pictures are so distinctive I could tell you instantly whose they are. Wouldn't it be great if we all went to the same place and took pictures of the same things and then compared them afterwards. A subtle framing technique or a little emphasis on a detail or allowing less light into the camera. We all have our moves.

The choice of subject is personal as well. Looking back over my pictures I see a lot of green, of course, but very often stone as well. It's a combination I love. Every morning on the school run I look at the walls of the church and the castle and marvel at how they've been there for hundreds of years, throughout storms and ice and the punishing glare of the summer sun. They just get softer in appearance and more beautiful. Over the centuries they have witnessed everything; triumph and tragedy, kings and peasants, joy and bloodshed.

I'm drawn to photograph nature, but also old houses and cottages with their gardens and trees and plants trailing around them. The gentle colours of nature, with a backdrop of stone or aged brick are my favourite. The top two pictures are typical I think. Leaves of every shade, from mid green to an acid almost yellow green and a gentle dusting of white blossom. Old stone, old brick and a wooden gate. Colours so subtle I don't have names for them. And a timber framed house with a gorgeous burgundy hedge. I don't need a thousand flowers of every colour, a range of greens and browns and greys is enough. That's not to say I don't love flowers, I do. Just not a riot, more of a gentle touch.

I think my colour choices reflect my personality. I find too much colour a bit overwhelming. Fine for a while, but I don't think I could live with it. I put the bright pink house in there for contrast. I loved seeing it, loved it, but my default setting is nature's palette. My eyes would constantly be searching for somewhere soothing to rest. In my photographs I'm trying to find that place.

Tell me, what do you return to again and again in your photographs?

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

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, 24 May 2016

Green and white

Down the garden path, past the destruction that is cricket in a confined space and out the back gate. In the lane the elderflower is just starting to flower. I think I shall make cordial this year. If anyone can point me to a reliable recipe I shall be grateful.

After the Sunday's deluge everything is greener than ever. It's the only colour in my photos I think, apart from a little brown and a blue sky. And of course the white blossom. I love those little spherical hawthorn buds, and the great froths of cow parsley everywhere.

I trotted down to the local hall to pick up left-behind clothes from the weekend's camping. Oh they were horrible. Think thick mud, stagnant water and grit, all nicely sealed in a plastic bag in a warm place for three days.

Back at the homestead the cricket had degenerated into fury. There had been shouting and throwing and storming off. A late night too far I fear.

At the allotment today the asparagus was knee high. It grows at three times the speed when it's been raining. There's a lovely big pile in the fridge now. I might make Delia's asparagus and cheese tart which is scrumptious, or I might go for the easy option of steaming it briefly and adding some butter and salt.

I had a bit of a surprise when I opened the shed: a hornet. I've never seen one before, it was massive. at least an inch and a half long. I took a terrible photo of it, and then someone came to ask me something and by the time I'd finished talking it flew away. I was going to put a pound coin next to it (my last one after the children bled me dry at the football tournament) for scale. On reflection that might have been a bit ambitious, I'm not sure that hornets that have just been dazzled by sudden sunlight in their dark shed are hugely appreciative of being made to pose next to coin of the realm. I would be The Girl Who Annoyed The Hornet And Learned A Valuable Lesson. Anyway, here's the photo, such as it is. Enormous remember.

I wonder if there will be more... I shall open the shed door with a little less aplomb next time.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Mud, a monsoon and a little light sewing

Today was one of those days when you feel you've really earned a sit down. It's a blissful feeling.

The littles were at camp on Friday/Saturday and some of today, and today there was also a football tournament. I was helping out at the tournament, so all in all I was there from 9am until about 4.30pm. I got a bit wet on the way home, but that was absolutely nothing as to how wet the other half and the littlest boy got. There was some sort of monsoon event and they arrived back with water literally running off of them.

Can you imagine the washing? Camp, which included an assault course requiring commandoing along in mud, and football and torrential rain. I've lost count of the number of trainers, wellies and football boots I've cleaned. There is washing everywhere. But oh how soundly the little people are sleeping. I sometimes think that good sleep is proportionate to the amount of mud they encounter. We're off the scale today.

I balanced the weekend of sweets, sausages and pizza by making fish cooked in herbs tonight with brown rice and green vegetables. Followed by fruit. There were mutterings about chocolate cake, but I held the line and health prevailed. We've had too many days without enough fresh stuff lately. A lot of very speedy meals.

I've been reading Emma Bridgewater's memoir, which is full of delightful Englishness. In case friends from afar aren't familiar with her, she founded a successful pottery business back in the 80s. You can see her stuff here should you so wish. I do love the new vegetable garden designs. Alas they are not destined for a clumsy person such as me. I dropped four plates all at once on Friday. I do find they all break far more easily when they go down in a group. I tend to buy my china from the charity shop. It's a lot less disappointing when you drop a 50p plate. Although maybe if I had a big plate that said "Gardener Extraordinaire" on it I would be more careful.

The memoir is a nice light and enjoyable read, and it inspired me to dig out the patchwork quilt I'm making again as she talks about the quilts she's made. I'm not feeling it with yarn at the moment, but a little light sewing this evening will be just the thing. Wishing you a restful evening with your feet up too. CJ xx

Friday, 20 May 2016

Five on Friday

look closely for the baby coot

Joining in with Amy and Five on Friday.

1. I'm still enjoying the spring things everywhere. Sarah has the most fantastic post looking at a local hedgerow, all is green, green, green. She's pretty good at identifying everything as well and her photos are second to none. She's completely captured the magic of this time of year.

Down at the wetlands place there are little feathery chaps everywhere, cheeping away, and plenty more to come. Hopefully some tiny cygnets next time we go, and maybe even some baby cranes. I shall wrestle the long lens off of the biggest boy and try and get a shot or two.

2. A new lavender. I can't resist them, although they don't always do very well for me. This one is called Anouk and it's a lovely dusky reddish purple. Although I find they seem to change colour on me somehow. I bought a white one last year that's now half purple, and a very subtle pink that changed to a bright pink after a year. There's some strange garden centre alchemy at work I think.

Have you ever seen those orchids that they make bright blue? What are they thinking?! I'm tempted to buy them just to nurse them back to whiteness. Maybe that's the plan.

3. Blotting on with the calligraphy. Blotting being the operative word. When I first dip the pen the ink comes of in a big blob, then it runs out really quickly. The first few dips of the session don't seem as bad though, so I'm thinking I may need to wash the nib every so often. I do love a few good lines of something to copy out. I have a couple of poetry books at the ready - "By Heart - 101 Poems to Remember" and also Carol Ann Duffy's "The Bees" which is wonderful. I shall write a few lines out for next time, it's heady stuff for bee lovers.

4. Notes from before. Someone asked about the rhubarb shortbread. It's from and there's a picture of one I made earlier (a year ago in fact) here. I also have rhubarb crumble and rhubarb flapjack in the fridge now...

And the plant I asked about the other looks likely to be a saskatoon. Also known as a western serviceberry or western juneberry. Apparently they eat nothing else in Canada. It's a bit like a big blueberry only less fussy about the soil. My antennae have pricked up and I'm on the lookout for one now. I shall grill the plotholder when I get hold of them.

5. A friend of the biggest boy has a new dog. He explained to the littlest boy that it was a stray. Here was a conversation we had later on.

Him: Mum, if you find a stray dog can you keep it?

Me: You'd need to try and find his owner sweetie.

Him: Yes, but if you couldn't, could you keep him?

Me: You could talk to the Dog's Home, they'd know what to do.

Him: Yes, but if you wanted to, could you keep him?

I think we all know where this is going. No unleashed dog will be safe. Lock up your hounds.