Thursday, 27 February 2014

The Colour Collaborative: February - Storm

A post for The Colour Collaborative.  

Ten years ago, I used to work in an office in the city centre.  And I used to loathe winter.  Every year when the summer faded a little gloom would come over me as I faced a long season of cold commutes and windy wet lunch breaks.  In the summer I was happy as a clam, sailing down the big hill on my bicycle every morning and finding one of my favourite outside spaces to sit at lunchtime.  But when the temperatures dropped and the days darkened I would complain.

But then I was lucky enough to be able to stop working when the children were born, and to move out of the city, and to my surprise I fell in love with winter.  It’s completely and utterly different to live with it, instead of against it.  If you don’t have to commute on a bicycle and the only real daylight you see isn’t just a brief foray into the elements in thin unsuitable office clothes during the middle of the day, everything is different.

I started noticing the striking patterns of leafless trees against the sky, the birds playing in the wild winter winds, the cleansing feel of bare fields and the beautiful grey-brown cocoa colour of the countryside.  Winter became a chance to rest a little from the relentless outdoor time of other seasons.  Time to be cosy inside without feeling any lazy guilt.  Time to enjoy the wind howling round the porch like it does when it comes from the north, and to marvel at the force of the rain and ice hurled against the windows.  It came to be that there was nothing finer than a raging storm, even on a day when I had to go out.  I would bundle up the children, put on boots and a thick coat, and just enjoy the feeling of being alive in such wild and windy weather.  The fun of racing through driving rain clutching a small damp hand as the gales threatened to knock us over and the pleasure of reaching a destination and bursting through the door, breathless and pink-cheeked was wonderful.

I had more time to be creative too, and I started knitting and making quilts and creating scrapbooks.  And as I did so I discovered something else - the beautiful world of colour.  In an office of lawyers, black dominates.  At the AGM there were over 300 people wearing black, with a little charcoal and navy, and just a smattering of colour, but only amongst the non-lawyers.  As a celebration of having left a job I loathed, I started wearing every colour I could lay my hands on.  I wore blue and green and purple and pink.  Pink!  It was wonderful.  Before, whenever I shopped, I bought the black one.  If they didn’t have it in black, I didn’t bother.  Now, a huge world had opened up.

After a while my colour mania calmed down, and I noticed a trend in my choice of colours for the things I was making - I would usually choose the stormy colours of winter.

The wonderful thick heavy greys that complimented pretty much everything.  Subtle shades of blue and muted purples.  That duck egg colour that appears over the horizon as the storm passes, with lavender grey streaks of cloud and a hint of silver.

I know myself better now; these are my colours.  Whenever I’m undecided in making a colour choice I just look to the winter sky and choose the colours of the storm.

If you'd like to see posts from the other colour collaborators, you can click on the links below:

          Annie at Knitsofacto                                            Gillian at Tales from a Happy House
          Sandra at Cherry Heart                                        Jennifer at Thistlebear

Sunday, 16 February 2014

A blue sky day

The sky looked like this all day today...

so the middle boy got his birthday treat of a trip to Cotswold Wildlife Park.  It's somewhere we've been before, and the boys really enjoy it.  A mix of animals, play areas and lots of space for running around.

First stop, penguins.

This one didn't have a head.

Those of a nervous disposition when it comes to snakes should look away now.  This black mamba came right up to the glass and followed the littlest boy around.

I was transfixed by it.  It's extremely venomous, killing a human in a matter of hours, and in some cases under an hour.  Unless there's treatment with anti-venom a bite from a black mamba is fatal.  100% of the time.  It's aggression is unpredictable and it's the fastest moving snake in the world.  It's been referred to as death incarnate.  Altogether terrifying.  But fascinating as well, especially to small boys.  Let's go outside for some air.

One of the loveliest creatures there - the wolf.  I'm not that keen on seeing big animals in captivity, but to see them at close quarters was such a privilege.  

More snowdrops, this time fancier frilly ones.  In fact there were a few different varieties dotted about.

Before we left there was just time to shin up a tree.  If you look closely you can see the biggest and the littlest, who is very intrepid and not at all bothered by being twenty-five feet off the ground.  How happy it made them all to find the perfect tree for climbing.

On the way to and from the park we passed a bit of flooding.  This was near the River Thames at Lechlade.  It gave me pause for thought.

Hoping you are all safe and warm and dry, wherever you are.

And thanks for identifying that plant for me.  It sounds as though it will be perfect for the front garden.  Apologies for not replying to any questions in the comments at the moment, for some reason I can't.  No idea why.  I'm hoping that one day it magically resolves itself.  In fact this is very much my approach to life.  Working so far.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Over the wall

There was a nice break in the attrocious weather this afternoon, so we wandered into town and then home past the church and the castle.

The boys hunted for a geocache by the church wall.

I wandered over to join in, and was amazed by what I saw in the churchyard.

Literally thousands of snowdrops.  I don't think I've ever seen them growing so densely before.  They took my breath away.

On our way home I took a sneaky photo of this lovely shrub.  Can anyone tell me what it is?  I thought it was Christmas Box, but it doesn't look like the pictures I've seen.  It's lovely though, I'd quite like to get a little one for the front garden, assuming it doesn't mind shade.

I know the photos aren't great, I just had my little point and shoot camera with me, and I'm not quite gutsy enough to stand pointing my camera into someone's garden for very long.  No doubt someone will instantly identify though, I know what a clever lot you are when it comes to plants.

Just a short post today, I've been frying my head trying to make a simple little website for other half and I need to go and look at something other than a screen.  Some wool maybe.  We had a birthday this week - the middle boy turned 8, so hopefully tomorrow we'll go to Cotswold Wildlife Park, which was his choice.  I'm hoping for nice weather.  Enjoy the rest of the weekend.  CJ xx

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

The winter allotment

I took advantage of a break in the atrocious wet weather yesterday, and made a quick trip to the allotment.  Not to do anything you understand, just to look, to make sure it was still there.  It was.  And while wandering I snapped a few pics of sheds and things.

I love the sheds, and I love the seats.  They're essential on an allotment I think.  I only have a deckchair at the moment, but I dream of a bench.  How nice it would be to sit here, maybe with someone else, and look out over the Kingdom of Allotmentland.  A little break from tending to the soil.  A cup of hot chocolate in a nice enamel mug.  Maybe a piece of toast.

Down at the allotments every inch is precious.  Things are squeezed in wherever there's a space.  This is an apple tree, espaliered along the back of a shed.  Wonderful.  Aldi were selling fruit trees when I went in today.  It took every ounce of self-control not to buy one.  If the site didn't have such a strict rule about tree height I would have definitely bought one.  But keeping a tree under 7' is tricky.

Love the slow creep of moss and lichen across stone.  I just want to run my hand over the moss.

A few early daffodils were out.  They're not my favourite flower, but nonetheless it's nice to see a harbinger of spring.

Sprouts.  I do like them, a lot.  But they're not the most attractive sight at this time of year.  I wouldn't mind some on my plot next year though.

Another shed.  In the background you can see my green shed, next to its brown neighbour.

This is it.  My plot.  Not much to see.

The soil looks like this.

Hammered down flat and shiny by the incessant rain.  But there's no flooding around here, so I'm not complaining.  Just the odd little puddle.

My rhubarb (round the back of the shed) is appallingly overgrown with grass.  It wasn't that strong last year, and I'm not sure if it's going to appear at all this year.  No sign of it yet, although it's not an early variety.  This was someone else's rhubarb.

This is the old rose, which only finished flowering very late in the autumn.  Already it's readying itself for the new season.

The blackcurrants are looking good, covered with big fat pink buds.

This is the stream at the bottom of the site.  You can see my shed in the left of the picture.

Another shed, another bench.  Is it just me?

Every year there are prizes for the best allotments.  Points are awarded for insect habitats, so there are all sorts of little hotels and things for bugs to hide in.

Pottering round I saw old things and new things.

And even in winter, some nice little corners.

By the time I left the sky had filled with rain clouds again.  Just as soon as there's a dry spell, I'll return to actually do some work down there.  Here's hoping.