Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Happy and sad

A lovely package came my way on Saturday.  Emma at Silverpebble had a giveaway, which I won, and she sent me all of these pretty things.  For those of you who aren't familiar with her blog, I can highly recommend a visit.  Emma makes gorgeous silver jewellery, often inspired by nature, or with vintage finds or sea glass.  The gorgeous necklace she sent me includes handcarved mother of pearl buttons made in the 19th century, a 1920s freshwater pearl and two tiny Roman beads made between 100 and 400 AD.  Amazing.  Needless to say I absolutely love it.

She also sent me a vintage box full of treasures, Seaham seaglass, Caribbean shells and coral, and loads of packets of seeds.  And a fantastic magazine about turning your hobby into a business.  I absolutely love reading that kind of thing, hearing people's inspiring stories, and how they've created a business doing something they love.  Thank you Emma, it was such a kind and thoughtful gift.

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It was a bit of a sad day here yesterday.  Our dear piggie, Mrs Armitage, was put to sleep.  She was quiet on Sunday, not really eating, and when I put her in her run she didn't spend much time out on the grass at all.  I went up to see her first thing yesterday morning, and she had collapsed.  I got the children to say goodbye to her, and then I told her it was time and scooped her up and we both went to the vets together.  I came back on my own.

I think I'm probably missing her most out of all of us.  I always had half an eye on the weather so that I knew when it was good for her to go outside, and I always saved her the tastiest fresh tidbits.  There's a guinea pig sized hole in my life.

For the rest of the week I have a little allotmenting planned, assuming there is a dry morning or two.  And maybe a little writing, I've been hopeless at fitting it in.  There's lots of tidying and re-organising to be done as well, I'm re-arranging the boys' bedrooms a little.  I don't like the feeling of things not being neat and organised.  But when it's done I always feel more positive and energised.  Maybe I'll draft them in to help me during half term.  I hope you enjoy the rest of the week.  CJ xx

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Days of wool and roses

We've been gripped by a new sport.  Cricket.  It all started with a few lessons at school, then a free taster or two at the local club, and before I knew it I was signing up and buying strange things to put down pants.  It's been an education I can tell you.  We happened to be passing the club today, so we popped in to see how it's done by the big boys.  Of course it's all pretty much a mystery to me.  There was clapping and cheering and it was in no way apparent why.  But the sun was shining and there was tea later on (I've heard rumours of sandwiches with the crusts cut off and scones with jam and cream) and I saw the potential for an afternoon sat knitting and thinking, with just the occasional smattering of light applause required, and I had a bit of a lightbulb moment.  This may just be a sport I can get behind.

My friend Sara at Sara's Crafts very kindly nominated me as one of the two blogs she chose as "Two Good Reads".  It's always lovely to be mentioned, thanks Sara.

In turn I'd like to point you in the direction of Countryside Tales if I may.  Her latest post explains the dangers wildlife is facing as the government and the European Commission explore watering down the legislation currently in place to protect it.  CT's blog is full of fantastic butterfly and moth photos, as well as other wildlife, and her posts are always interesting and informative.  Truly one of my favourite blogs, and very well worth a visit.  There is a petition, organised by Friends of the Earth, that you can add your name to here should you wish.  Protection of our native wildlife is something I feel passionate about.  It will be a disaster if the legal protection is weakened.

The caterpillar and the chrysalis in the pictures are in the garden at the moment.  The chrysalis suddenly appeared on the path.  I think it's an elephant hawk moth that probably fell out of the hedge.  I've put him somewhere safe and hopefully he'll hatch (if that's the right word) and fly off.  We had three or four elephant hawk moth caterpillars in the garden last year, they're really enormous.  I'd love to see the actual moth.  Fingers crossed I'll have the opportunity.

The yarn is a little something I'm working up to knitting for the littlest boy.  A blanket for his bed. He's very keen, as you can imagine.  I'm thinking grey, with little stripes of colour.  It seems slightly unfair that girls have hijacked an entire colour all for themselves.  He's not adverse to the odd splash of pink.  We shall see.  I don't have a huge amount of time for knitting, so it'll probably be a year or two before it's done.  By then he might have been poisoned against pink.

Today was a good weekend day, with a little garden tidying this morning, and some time at the country park this afternoon.  It always surprises me how organised a bit of gardening makes me feel.  I repotted a wisteria, mowed the grass (and daisies), planted some peas and salad leaves and swept up.  And then all was well with the world.  I'm wishing you a good Sunday.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Green, green everywhere

Every time I go out at the moment I'm blown away by the very greenness of everything.  I love July and August with their summer heat and holidays and harvests, but right now is the time of year when I just have the word "glorious" in my mind all the time.  After the bare branches of winter, suddenly everything looks different.  Thick heavy green, everywhere.  I've always forgotten what it looks like by spring.  Every year it's a surprise.  When we drive along country roads I exclaim about it constantly.  I'm not sure anyone else here gets it.

Look at the horse chestnut flowers.  Aren't they extraordinary?  And the trees are majestic.  Not English natives, but our landscape has adopted them and they thrive here.

I went to the allotment this morning because the forecast was for sun all day.  Tomorrow's is for rain all day.  Today was gorgeous, like summer, but I'll love the rain tomorrow as well.  The chance to stay in and listen to the rain drumming on the windows.  And of course all my watering will be done.

The asparagus has been doing well, and there was a big pot of radishes to bring home.  Blackcurrants and gooseberries are swelling, and happily the two new apple trees are flowering at the same time, which means they should pollinate each other.  There are masses of flowers on the broad beans and the strawberries are looking a bit cheerier than they were.  They struggled slightly with the weedproof membrane, some of their leaves and berries went out horizontally underneath the fabric rather than out the top.  I've pulled them out and pegged it down a bit more.

The garden shop on the high street had stocks on offer when I went in earlier.  The scent is fabulous.  I picked up three and put them in a pot together by the back door.  Forgot to photograph them, I'll do it another day.  Hopefully the scent will waft into the kitchen a bit.  It smells like the summer days of my childhood.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

A long weekend

But not necessarily in a good way.

Hardly any photos recently, I'll try harder this week.  I found the Polling Station one on my little camera, from the school run on Thursday.  So that was a dramatic day or two, no?

The weekend here was dominated by a football tournament.  Starting with helping out at 8am on Saturday.  The biggest boy played all Saturday morning.  I spent three hours at lunchtime helping in the barbecue tent, and managed to miss most of his matches and most of the middle boy's matches in the afternoon as well.

The washing machine died in spectacular fashion.  Then the middle boy was sick on Saturday night.  I spent today hand washing things, while the other half took the littlest boy back to the tournament for his matches.  The biggest boy was charged with taking photos of any goals or monumental moments.  He got quite a few decent shots, but the lens wandered skywards a little as well and I found a few bird pictures sprinkled in the mix.  And one with just a knee.

The matches were five minutes each way, with a vast amount of hanging around in between.  The teams weren't very well put together and no-one really enjoyed it very much.  Quite a few of the parents who were supposed to help out just didn't bother turning up.  I'm tempted to say never again.

Anyway, I'm happy to put those two days behind me.  Next time I think we'd all be happier giving it a miss and going for a walk in the depths of the countryside.  Sometimes it's just nice to be together relaxing, rather than doing scheduled things.  We barely ate a meal all together.  It's good to get to the end of a weekend with a warm glow of good things to carry into the new week.  I'm hoping you had the warm glowy kind of weekend, rather than the teeth grinding kind.  But whichever it was I'm wishing you a good week.

Monday, 4 May 2015

In no particular order

Clematis, everywhere.  Gorgeous isn't it.

The first precious rhubarb, made into Nigella's rhubarb shortbread.  I found it recommended on a couple of blogs, the first one I can't find now, I think I know who it was, but I can't find the post, and the other one was Nimble Fingers and Steady Eyebrows.  If you were the person who pointed me in that direction, do let me know and I'll credit you properly.  Anyway, it was as both ladies said, absolutely delicious.  All gone now.  We don't mess about in this house when there's something good to eat.  It's eat or be eaten.

A perfect hosta.  Perfect.  No snail holes at all.  Yet.  In a few weeks it will look absolutely horrible, it happens every year.  I'm thinking of putting it in the front garden, planted through gravel, in the hopes that the gravel will slow the snails down a bit.  After it rained yesterday I could see them all from the kitchen window, sliding happily around the garden.

Our dear little piggie.  So thin, and rather old, but still gamely hanging in there.  Eating her nuggets and carrots and cucumber and celery and grass.  She's almost six, not ancient, but she has some breathing difficulties which slow her down a bit.  We look after her the very best we can.

More apple blossom.  Worcester Pearmain.  Later than the first two, so I hope there will be other apples around to pollinate it.  We can't have too many apples in this house.

Fresh green herbs, pea tendrils and some new salad leaves.  Despite the chill, some things are cracking on in the garden.

A little brass band music in a Victorian bandstand by the sea on a Sunday afternoon.  Quite a crowd had gathered, people of all ages.  It made me happy that something that hasn't changed in decades is still appreciated.

A little nesting and a pink flamingo.  I saw a gull predate a tiny little coot chick this afternoon.  The first time the parents drove the gull off.  He hung around, and next time he got lucky.  It wasn't nice to see.  Nature red in tooth and claw I know, but it's pretty brutal.

Otherwise the bank holiday was lovely.  An extra day to the weekend is a very fine thing.  Of course I shall be a day out all week now.  Wishing you all a very good few days.  CJ xx