Monday, July 31, 2006

No more sitting in this cool shady spot reading, for a while. The weather finally broke last night. I had the living room door open and hurt a battering on the back windows, yes it was a very heavy but short shower. However, when I was sitting at the computer later, the rain began again in earnest. This time it was very heavy but accompanied by a sharp wind that was blowing the trees about. Now I have a love/hate relationship with wind. Sometimes it makes me feel exhilarated when it blows me along and blows away the cobwebs so I feel refreshed, other times I feel as if I am in a battle with it and I feel angry and exasperated with it. Although I do love to be tucked up in the living room with a throw and a hot drink whilst the wind whistles and howls down my chimney in winter, and I also love lying in bed on a cold rainy night and hearing the wind knocking the rain against my bedroom window.

However, this morning the sun was out but there were scudding clouds and the temperature was a lot cooler, I walked round the garden, and it was well watered, but some of the flowers had been buffeted by the wind. As a gardener, I sometimes feel I am never happy, I either seem to be complaining about hot sun burning my plants or wind blowing the petals off and bending them. That's gardening though, the weather is the one in control.

These photographs, were taken about two to three weeks ago, in the really hot weather. The one above on the right is where I love to sit and read when the sun is too fierce for the garden table and chairs. The photograph to the left shows the same corner without my chair in the way. The pots that are standing in the basin of the old bird bath are full of nasturtiums and calendula, and these are now out in flower, though later than the ones in the garden, as they do not get as much sun in the shady spot. The summer sun hits the shady spot early in the morning, between about seven and ten, then leaves the spot cool for the rest of the day.

These are the plants I grow in pots by the back door, and under one of the kitchen windows. I don't know if you can see it in this photograph, it could be hidden by plant leaves, if you click on the photo to enlarge it there is a log between two of the pots and a little crosslegged elf sits on top of it.

This is a photograph taken of the shady spot from upstairs, by hanging out of the bathroom window, it also shows my hanging basket. You can see my ceramic sun plaque hanging on the barn wall. Below is a close up photograph of my hanging basket, it is planted with petunias, impatiens and trailing lobelia. You can see the corner of the door in the loft of the barn.

The photograph below is of part of the main garden showing all the pots in flower on the gravel outside the outhouses and the photograph at the end of the posting shows the same view from the opposite side with my lavender bush at the side of the alleyway. Click on them to enlarge, and look at the splendid red lily that I grew for the first time this year. I will post more photographs of the main garden, and some close ups of plants another time. I took most of these photographs, if you remember I am learning to use my husband's highly technical camera. Some of my photos I was quite pleased with but one or two were a bit blurred and I had not got the light right on some of them, but I love that camera and its satisfying whirr and click.

I have a busy week this week, whilst the weather has been so hot I have washed all my curtains, throws, and rugs and hung them out in the sunshine to dry. Today with the cooler weather, I set to and started putting my house to rights, as it has been sadly neglected with the heatwave, when it was too hot to do anything except loll around and keep cool. I thought I would tackle our bedroom first, and it is now looking clean and fresh with all the curtains, cushions and rugs etc in it sunshine fresh. The lace on the bedside tables is snowy white and my perfume bottle collection sparkling. Tomorrow I plan to do the dining room which has been an unused room with all the eating out side that has been going on. It is looking very sorry for itself. I also want to make some quiches tomorrow, I have my daughter, Sweetpea, home for a few days and a flying visit from my son, the Big Friendly Giant. They are both attending at wedding at the church in the next village, on Saturday, one of my daughter's good friends is marrying one of my son's friends. Although when the couple met they were not aware of this. My son is just coming up from London for the wedding, but Sweetpea is making a short break of it. It has been a joy to have her staying for a few days twice in a month. So I am afraid a big cleanup of the house calls before I can properly enjoy doing some of my craft and garden projects again.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Sunday Scribblings - My 2 Cents

I wasn't going to join in with Sunday Scribblings this week, as I am so busy with various projects at the moment,then I started thinking I wanted to participate even if it was a really short piece. It's just that it wouldn't seem like Sunday to me, without posting on Sunday Scribblings and putting my two cents worth in.

I know the phrase your two cents worth, but here in the north of England, people used to say your 'three ha'pence'. I grew up hearing my family say 'your three ha'pence worth', and I have to admit it was mainly said to me. I must have been a terrible trial for adults when I was a child, for believe me, I had opinion about everything and an opinion that I had to voice out loud. I constantly heard, 'Oh there goes Daisy putting her three ha'pence in again.' School reports invariable said '...would do better if she didn't talk so much and have an opinion about everything that she wants to share with everyone.' How stifling is that, how can you learn about the world without giving your childish opinions on how you find it and listen to what other people say in return? I only ever had one teacher who wrote something along the lines of ...never try to repress this child's imagination or views, they are a gift.

When I became a parent myself, I allowed both my children to express their views about anything and everything. To ask questions and to discuss the answers. Two questions of their's have always stuck in mind. My daughter at seven years old asked me while skipping along shopping 'How do we know that we all see the exact same thing when we look at things? How do I know that that shop looks the same to me as it does to you?' Well that was a showstopper. I said what I thought and she quickly put in her two cents worth. My son's question was just as mind boggling, 'When we are sitting in this room how do we know there is still another room next door?', that one is almost 'the tree falling in the forest' theme'. Naturally, neither of them had an easy time at school, my son especially in secondary school was thought to be 'cheeky' the way he queried everything and voiced opinions, but to me they had enquiring minds, something, I am afraid that is not encouraged in the English education system anymore. See, that's me putting in my two cents worth.

My final two cents worth, is if people don't have opinions and question everything, including authority, how are we ever going to put the world to rights. Voicing your opinions means discussion, and discussion might mean not jumping straight away to violence and war. If you voice an opinion that is fanatical, it is better than just festering away in your mind, someone somewhere might be able to dissuade you of this opinion.

Yes, the photographs above are of myself as a child and of my two children who are now adults.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Imagination is the living power and prime agent of all human perception - Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Before I put my box of old family photographs away, there are two more I would like to show you. The photograph on the right is my Great Grandmother, I posted about her husband, the army man that became a gardener, and passed all his gardening knowledge on to my Grandfather. I often think about my Great Grandfather when I am gardening and wish that I had known him, he could have given me lots of advice, I sometimes think he does whisper some in ear when I am dealing with my plants. I think my Great Grandmother looks so pretty, she was ten years older than her husband, but would never admit to it, she even hid her true age on the census form of 1901, only her birth certificate tells the truth. I presume her husband knew her correct age. They seemed a very happy couple, and I often feel there is an untold story about the pair of them, just a feeling I have. She apparently, always looked young for her age, and was said to be a lovely person and very loving and kind to my Mother.

The photograph above is of the wedding of a Great Aunt of mine, I have no positive date for this wedding yet, but suspect it sometime between 1914 to the early 1920's. If this is the case, the bride is definitely not in her first flush of youth. I do know for a fact that this is her only wedding, so judging by when she was born, she must have been a lot older than the normal age for brides at that time. I am still investigating this photograph, but could not resist showing it, mainly because of the contrast in fashions between the young and older ladies. The old ladies look very traditional, but the younger one are definietly looking modern, especially the one in the belted coat with all the button features and felt hat. The young teenage girl in her white dress, with its broad sash and straw boater, looks lovely doesn't she. If I ever find out more about this photograph I will post about it again.

This photograph is of my dining room dresser, it was taken during the Christmas holidays a couple of years ago. I happen to mention on a blogging friend's comments that I noticed she had a Portmierion plate in the photograph, and told her that I collected them. I promised I would put my dresser photograph on the blog, and if you click on it you can see the plates in more detail. I have to admit, I don't think I have ever paid full price for my Portmierion, one or two pieces I have been given as presents, one or two smaller pieces I actually found in charity shops and the rest I bought in discount china shops, so I suppose they are slight seconds, though I cannot see any flaws in them.

Thought I might as well post this other photograph of my dining room at the same time, in the corner is my lovely pine console, I have put wicker baskets on the two shelves underneath. Along the back, I don't think you can see them in the photo are all my small jars of various herbs. Yes, the walls are bright yellow and look even brighter yellow in reality, a sort of egg yolk yellow, but I painted them in honour of Monet's kitchen in Giverney, and I try to contrast the yellow with a lot of blue as in the blind and some of the plates. There have been one or two items added to the room since then.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The photograph is explained further down the posting.

The temperature cooled down for a day and then started upwards again, yesterday the heat was tremendous, it didn't even cool at all in the evening, too hot to sleep, I went and sat in the garden at 3.00a.m., there was no breeze just this hot still air and I noticed this morning that no dew seemed to have fallen last night. The garden is taking copious amounts of water, I have had to give up my troughs of nasturtiums on the back wall as a lost cause, they have all been burnt by the sun. Normally, my nasturtiums can cope with our summer heat, but if this is just not a freak summer, and future ones are going to be as hot, all of them will have to be planted in partial sunny spots. The ones in those places this year are thriving, one of my dahlia bushes doesn't like the heat either.

I have had two lovely days though, acquiring lots of vintage items. Yesterday, I travelled to my nearest town. Wow! I thought the heat was high at home, but it seemed to me twice as bad in the town. The schools are off for their long summer holidays and the town was really busy, with children, tourists and everyday shoppers all battling along in the hot sun. I decided to do a quick tour of some charity shops and have a quick root around in them. I found some lovely things. I bought two beautiful wine glasses with lovely blue patterned stems, sort of mock art nouveau, the cutest pottery honey pot shaped as a hive with bees embossed on it, a lovely set of four embroidered linen table napkins from the early 1950's still wrapped in cellophane and in their original display box, three beautiful glass single bloom vases and a lovely pressed glass fruit bowl which I can just see full of trifle in the middle of a table.

I then went on from the town to visit my Mother, I was showing her my purchases and we got on talking about hats, which is another thing I love to collect. She happened to mention she still had her wedding hat, I remember as a child her showing it to me, I thought it had been thrown out, but when she moved house she had boxed it up with other mementoes and put it in the outdoor storeroom, well I was right into that room and I searched until I found it, and I brought it home with me. It is a beautiful navy blue straw, with grosgrain ribbon, all that is missing is the floral bunch that was attached to the ribbon. It needs a bit of renovating but it will look lovely hanging on my bedroom wall with my other hats.

We are losing our next door neighbours, they were living there when we moved to the cottage. They have been really good neighbours and we will miss them all, but on the up side, part of the family is moving further up in the village, so they are not really lost, its just that with the complicated way Rights of Way are organised round our properties [an outhouse of theirs is in our garden and our garden gate goes through their garden etc], it was nice that there was no trouble with this and we always accommodated each other. I now am waiting to see who our neighbours are, they move in at the end of next week. However, the lovely thing is that my neighbour was having a big clearout and brought some boxes round for me to rummage in, to take what I want, and then just dispose of the rest. They are things of her mother's and grandmother's glasses, ornaments etc. I will look through the boxes tomorrow. She also gave me some lovely cotton throws, and two cute hats, one brown cord beatles cap, and a lovely pastel pink angora cloche style hat. Wasn't it kind of her to think of letting me have the boxes? My Mother was telling me, yesterday, that I have always rummaged amongst old things. Apparently, from the age of eight, I used to beg my Grandmother to let me go and root through her attic, and I would come down wearing old hats, clutching old books and toys of my mother and her sister's. So I obviously caught the vintage bug at an early age.

Here are two more of my old family photographs, these two are from my Mother's side of the family. The photograph at the beginning of the posting is the wedding of my Grandparents and this group wedding photograph just above is of my Great Great Aunt Kate's wedding. It's amazing to enlarge it and look at the people in detail. [If I have done this correctly you should be able to click on it and enlarge it.] Kate is the lady with the biggest bouquet. There is a woman at the right hand side near the back that has the most enormous stuffed bird on her hat and there is the man in the top hat and monocle. This is the photo I have framed on my dining room wall, I could look at it for ages. Unfortunately, I don't know who some of the people are and there is no one still alive who might be able to tell me. I just love old photographs and will post some more another time.

Monday, July 24, 2006

I'm taking myself back over the years today, to my later teens, ages eighteen to twenty two, when I was mad, bad, and dangerous to know, well I thought I was, and I have to admit I met more eccentric people in those four years than I have done in the rest of my life. I trailed around in long velvet dresses or faded prints, wrapping myself in a vintage shawl. You always knew when I was approaching by the clinking of my bangles, the rattling of my numerous necklaces and the cloud of patchouli oil [which I still love as incense] that enveloped me. My feet were sometimes bare, my eyes were decorated like rainbows, with my tin of Mary Quant greasy eyeshadow crayons, my hair was very long and dark and I was known to occasionally wear flowers in my hair. This is a photograph of me towards the end of that time, with my cat of that era, Jasper. The eyeshadow art had calmed down by then. Sorry about the state of the photograph, and my head chop, but it was the best of a bad bunch if you can believe it.

I began thinking about this time and what were the cultural influences in my life, what were the books, the music and the icons? I started thinking along these lines purely because of a chance remark I made to another blogger. I noticed in her profile she had a book listed that I had read around those years, she had recently bought it again, and I happened to comment that I loved that book, but it probably tells a different story now to the one I remember. Sometimes talking to old friends, I find you would not think we were all talking about the same incidents, we all seemed to live in this wonderful world of our own. Some of these mad years I spent at Art College, and I have to be honest and I look back in astonishment at what we did without thinking about consequences and got away with.

I'll cut, with great difficulty, the list of books, and music down to the five greatest influences, and I will be very interested to see if any of you had or still have any of them in your collection. The numerical order means nothing, it is just five greatest influences, apart I have to say, from the one listed first in the books.

The first,and surely one of the best book manuals ever is The Whole Earth Catalog.
I still have it tattered and falling to pieces, it was always the first thing you used to look at for information and to find further books on the subect. I remember sitting up all one night reading the small story that was serialised in bottom corner of the page.

The second book is The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test by Tom Wolfe. The adventures of Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters traveling America in their madly painted day-glo bus. How, at that time, it seemed like it must have been the adventure of a life time, we all wanted wildly painted vehicles. There were five or six of us who used to travel around in a wreck of an old car, and my did we have some adventures in it, chugging around the country music blaring from the speakers.

Third is Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac. A fictionalised account of his friendship with poet Gary Snyder, a contrast of his outdoor life, climbing mountains, and leading to his stint the next year as a fire lookout, and his wild city life and its drunkenness and parties. This made me think more about Eastern thought and religion amongst other things.

The fourth book is Trout Fishing in America by Richard Brautigan. I adored his quirky books. Trout Fishing was a series of sketches, about such things as a character by that name, a hotel by that name, and actually a fishing tale with the name.

The final book is Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee, a beautiful book about a small boy in the earlier years of the 1900's, living with his family in the country. I have since reread this books many times.

There are other books I could have mentioned such as Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein, Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny, The Country Girls, by Edna O'Brien, I loved the sass and cheek of those girls, and Women in Love by D>H> Lawrence, which I am no longer keen on, but then I loved the two sisters in the book, their clothes and their penchant for wearing brightly coloured stockings, and I began a craze of wearing purple, red or blue tights based on that.

Onto music, I think I will just list these musicians and my favourite album by them:-
Joni Mitchell - Got to admit can't decide on a favourite I love them all
Grateful Dead - American Beauty
Jefferson Airplane - Crown of Creation
Neil Young - After the Goldrush
The Incredible String Band - Wee Tam and Big Huge

Well I know that is five but I have got to add a Bob Dylan, its my list so as a bonus I'll add Blonde on Blonde.

What are your favourites from that time?

I was lucky enough to see The Grateful Dead twice, when they toured England, and also saw Jimi Hendrix play in my local town cinema, on the stage, which seems incredible now to think of, and he wasn't even top of the bill. I loved poster art from San Francisco and loved making candles and brightly coloured Mexican eyes from sticks and wool. I went to a large music festival, living for three days in conditions [a sea of mud] that makes me shudder to think about it.

It's fun to look back at those days, and remember how I used to be, but its a calmer life I live today and thoroughly enjoy, but everyone should make the most of their youth, as I constantly tell my children.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Sunday Scribblings - Thief

The phone rang as she was staring out of the window, coffee cup in hand, looking out at her garden. She smiled gently, put the cup down and turned to the small table picking up the phone.
'Prue, hello, I'm just about ready to leave.'
'Just thought I would check. It is our carpet bags we are taking with us isn't it?'
'Oh yes, I think that's what we'll need today. I've got the other things ready.'
'Ok, see you soon bye.'
'Bye, Prue'.
Ellen put down the receiver, and checking the sunny day outside, picked up her large straw hat and firmly placed it on her head, inserting a rather dashing hatpin. She picked up a largish carpet bag and a walking stick. Closing the front door behind her, she walked slowly down the garden path admiring her garden in this early morning sunlight and walked through the gate shutting it firmly behind her.

The coach was parked outside the village hall and Prue was there waiting for her, carrying a similar bag and her walking stick. They greeted each other and turned to board the coach.
'Think we're going on a weekend trip and not a daytrip?' joked the organiser, looking at their substantial bags as he ticked their names off the list.
'We like to be prepared for all things.' Ellen replied, as behind her Prue giggled. They settled themselves into their seats placing the bags in the luggage holder above their heads, and prepared for the journey. The coach departed, the countryside certainly looked stunning this summer's day and there was a buzz of conversation around the coach about the delights they expected to see at their destination in ninety minutes time.

Finally, ahead of the coach they could see a two wide gateposts, 'Meadowacres House' straight ahead' the organiser said, and the coach drove through and up the drive. Once in the coach park, Ellen and Prue disembarked, and listened to their choices.
'You can have a guided tour of the house, followed by a guided tour of the garden, or if you like just spend time in the gardens yourselves. There will be a break for lunch between the house tour and garden tour. If you are going off by yourselves, please be at the cafe for 1.00p.m. Now can we find out who is doing what please?'
'The house and garden tour will be too much for our old legs.' Ellen said. 'I think we will just meander through the gardens at our own pace, meet up with the group for lunch and then have a pleasant sit down in the gardens in the afternoon.'

The group dispersed, Ellen and Pruce watched them go. 'Right,' said Ellen, 'Off we go. Let's see if there are any greenhouses open to the public and then round the gardens.' They scurried along through a door in a wall until they saw the greenhouses in the distance. The doors of two of them stood open, and there seemed to be no staff in sight. They crept in shivering with excitement. 'Now don't forget said Ellen,' just one of each potted on seedlings, so we don't weigh the bags down, we can split them when they are matured. Nothing too common or garden mind.' So they progressed through the greenhouse placing small pots in plastic bags and then into their capacious bags. After that they progressed through the gardens, with small secateurs in hand, taking leaf cuttings and stem cuttings, and even discreetly digging up tiny parts of plants. Soon it was time for lunch, and afterwards they rested in the gardens, two suddenly surprisingly doddery old ladies. They had a snooze on the bench and then it was time for the return journey.

'Well that was a very successful day' Ellen remarked to her cat, when she entered her house. She felt a thrill of excitement rush through her as she unpacked her bag and placed cuttings in water and put seedling pots in lines on the kitchen table. Tomorrow she would work in her beautiful garden. 'Oh Poppy,' she said to the cat. No wonder I always do well in the village garden competition. I am such a successful plant thief,' and she laughed to herself as she put the kettle on.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Over the past eighteen months, I have been researching my family history and after visiting one of my blogging friends, who had posted about her family, I thought I would relate just a little about some things I have learnt so far. Thank you to my blogging friend for this idea. This photograph opposite is of my great-grandfather, Alfred, who came from an army family, I have got back as far as my three-greats grandfather and upto and including Alfred they were all army men. My great great grandfather, Charles, was actually in the Indian Mutiny and is mentioned in dispatches. It is very strange, but interesting, to realise your connection to events in history. Both Charles and Alfred had much gentler occupations in later life. Charles was a musician and piano teacher [although he was a bandsmaster when in the army] and Alfred became a gardener and always had a deep love of flowers. I often wonder if their hard lives in the army turned them towards gentler occupations in civilian life. Charles went all over the world with the army and his children were born in India, Canada, Malta and even on the high seas.

This is Alfred in later life, I always think he looks a dashing figure of a man. I will post a photograph of his wife Mary sometime. They seem to have been a lot of fun and a pair of gadabouts. They met because Mary worked at the large house at the top of the road where Alfred's family lived. They then both turn up in London, some 360 miles away, to get married, although Alfred was still in the army at this time. Later they are in married quarters in the town they met, and when he came out of the army they settled up here in the north. There are only two reasons they could have married so far away in Southwark, London. One was because the family, Mary worked for had a large London residence, or two because Alfred was in quarters down there, or perhaps it was a combination of the two. There is no one left who can tell me, my mother does not know anything about it, but these little mysteries can sometimes be solved. Why though, do we just seem to find an interest in things like this when older generations, who might have known are no longer with us. These photos are from my Mother's side of the family.

This photograph, the quality of which is dreadful, shows my great grandmother on my Father's side, Mina. She is in the middle surrounded by eleven of her thirteen surviving children. She had a baby nearly every year, well at roughly fifteen month intervals. Can you imagine that? Obviously, by the time the last one was born the older ones would have moved out to live lives of their own. I often sit and think about the sort of life she had, one baby after another, and the sorrow of one or two dead children, how did she manage, or was it a case of knowing no other life and women just got on with it? Both Mina and her husband John, were born in Co Wicklow in Ireland. She was married at fourteen years of age, marriage at that time was permitted that young. There is a family tale that she didn't want to get married, and cried and wanted to out and play with her friends instead, so what the circumstances were who can now tell. By the time she was sixteen, she had emigrated to England with her husband, her baby and her husband's cousin. The first census record of them is very confusing. You can imagine the scene, they probably could not read or write and spoke with broad Irish accents, the census man seemed to have great difficulty understanding them and each one's surname is spelt with a slight variation on what it really was. The census record does not seem to have a clear idea of their exact ages, even the child's, but her husband was obviously working in an iron ore mine.

This photograph, better quality, shows Mina and her husband John, the woman at the back is their second eldest child, Kate, who would be about twenty six and the little girl between them is their youngest child, my grandmother, Lily, who is about three years old at the time. Lily was their last child. What shocks me is the fact that Mina would just have been forty five when this photograph was taken, and John would have been forty eight. When I first saw that photograph I thought it was of grandparents, daughter and granddaughter, but no it is children and parents. This is a woman younger than I am. Thank goodness times have changed, although I have nothing but admiration for the women of that time, who managed to bring up very large families in what was to us very basic conditions.

Another day I will show you some more old photographs and tell their stories. I do have two wonderful large group wedding photographs, one from Edwardian times and one from the 1920's. They are delightful and I have both framed and hung on my dining room wall.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Simple things hold the secret - Carl Jung

I am living in a heatwave, the temperature has steadily risen since last week, today, Tuesday, its 90 degrees and heading upwards, and in this area we don't usually get much over the low 80's. There is no breeze at all, just hot air enveloping you like an eiderdown. Household chores have ground to a halt, craft projects are at a standstill and at times it is too much trouble even to read for long. I am typing this in the slightly cooler evening with all windows around thrown open as wide as possible. Please excuse any typos or odd ramblings as I think my brain may be melting. I am not really complaining about the weather, it wonderful to have these really sunny hot days, but I fear it will end in a giant storm at some point, I can't see it just cooling down naturally.

The photograph, above, is of the Abbey Gate, part of the grounds of the cathedral in my nearest town. I thought I would publish it as part my doors, gates and windows collection. This gate was built in the 1500's, and you are looking out of the cathedral grounds towards the street.

I must just show you this photograph opposite, of the clematis that is flowering in my friend's garden. It is so beautiful, that deep pink, and the flowers are quite large. I have a lovely lavender clematis, which is just beginning to bloom now, I only planted it last year and it has done really well. My other clematis is a cutting I took from a neighbour's last year, it covered their arbour in lovely pale pink flowers in summer. My first buds are on it and one has opened out, but on my cutting the flowers have changed colour and are all going to be dark purple, how strange.

I noticed today that my calendulas have buds on them and if this sunshine continues they should be opening late tomorrow, I have been giving them copious amounts of water, in fact, a lot of my early morning and late evening time has been spent drowning the plants with water from my watering can. All my phlox are in full bloom now, the last one to flower was my favourite the two tone purple one. I love the honeyed fragrance of phlox. I have just sent two rolls of film off for developing so should have some more updated photographs of my garden to show you. That is if I have taken them properly, as I explained in previous post, I have been learning to use my husband's fancy camera.

My computer does not seem to like this heat and is misbehaving, and now I am trying to upload some photographs, only to find there is a scheduled outage on for one hour, so think I shall go round the blogs and come back in an hour. Speaking of blogs, one I visit, Living as Rosa, is being very temperamental to me, I have been trying since last week to reply to comment, but Rosa's blog keeps showing up as just her patternend background, and then my computer goes off line. Is this just me it is happening to or what I wonder? If you read this Rosa, thats why I have been strangely silent.

Just thought I would publish this fairy picture, as I haven't had one on my blog for a while, and I like to keep them happy. I think I have been thinking about them as I have been out in the garden so much this past week. It will be time to harvest my lavender bush soon, I love doing that, sitting at the garden table making bunches to dry or just preparing the flowers to dry. There is nothing like being surrounded by the fragrance of lavender, smelling the straw of my hat in the hot sun and hearing the buzz of the bees. All these sounds and smells, seem to get incorperated into the lavender bunches I am drying and in the middle of winter, when I sniff the lavender I can be transported briefly back to a summer afternoon.

Must just mention what I am reading at the moment. I am reading 'Precious Bane' by Mary Webb, it was published in the 1920's but is set in the early 1800's in the Shropshire country side. The descriptions of the countryside told in the girl's rolling Shropshire accent are wonderful, you can hear and smell what she is describing. They are poor farmers, and the lore and customs that are part of the story are amazing. Any lover of Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles will love this book.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Sunday Scribblings - With baggage

As she returned from the bar with another carafe of wine, she couldn't help overhearing, what Tina said about her,'Suzie's problem is that she comes with baggage, it can put people off.' Is that what her friend really thought? She stuck a smile on her face and managed to drift through the rest of the evening.

Later, at home, lying in bed she thought more about it, 'with baggage', but surely everyone had what they called 'baggage', it was life's experiences, part of her character, part of what made her Suzie. Without it she would be a tabula rasa ready for the first mark to be made. She was not going to deny what life had thrown at her, she thought it made her interesting, she was not afraid to talk of past happenings and current beliefs. How could Tina have said that, she was always the first to say to her, 'Go on Suzie, tell me another tale' or she would remark when with acquaintances, 'Suzie, has led a very interesting life, tell them Suz'.

She fell asleep looking back at the past and her so called 'baggage'. As a child she had always stuck up for the underdog in the classroom, always sure of herself she would berate anyone who thought they could poke fun at a less fortunate child. She was always the one rescuing fledglings from their nests and trying to keep them alive, to no avail, and every time they died she would burst into floods of tears. Teenage years were awash with causes 'make love not war', 'hell no we won't go' agreeing with the draft burners in the Vietnam war, even though she lived in a small seaside town in the South of England. Protest marches and student takeovers of the campus, Suzie always had to be part of it. By the time she got to San Francisco it was not the place she thought it would be, but no matter she would become an eco-warrior instead. Until her late thirties, she roamed the world, helping one cause and then jumping on to the next. Eventually, she met, in foreign lands an overseas journalist from London, fell deeply in love and without, it seemed to her, being able to catch her breath, was married and living in London.

Three children followed, they brought more causes into her life, suspected closure of a local nursery, merging of two comprehensive schools, wherever she turned as they grew up she seemed to be needed on one committee or another. All her experience with so many different causes made her the person people would look to for help.
As time moved on, the children left for university and after that on to lives of their own. Her husband was based most of the time in London now, and they spent many late evenings talking about him going freelance, selling their home in London and moving to a quieter life in the country. She agreed, laughingly, saying that she was sure there would be village committees that she could join and the W.I., but perhaps it was time to start enjoying life, get a dog, plan a garden, do all the things she had always been too busy to do because of her causes. Her husband wanted one last overseas trip, his paper wanted an experienced reporter to go to Baghdad. Suzie spent her time sorting out belongings, to make a move easier, and thought of the trips they planned, cottage hunting, when he came back.

It was not to be, her husband never came back from Iran, a missile exploded in their hotel. What was Suzie to do? She didn't want to move to the country alone. There was only one route out. The family house was sold and she moved into a small flat in the centre of London, surrounded by bustle and life. What else was left for her but to turn back to causes, with an even bigger determination to change the world. It was what kept her living from one day to another and if that was living 'with baggage' and putting people off, she didn't care, she did good and it helped her survive.

Friday, July 14, 2006

I wanted to show you the other set of three cards that I made for an ATC swap, but when I checked 'my pictures', cd downloads etc, I can only find two of the three cards, the third one, that I am sure I kept a record of, seems to have disappeared into cyber space. However, the basic idea was sort of, sow seeds, wish for them to grow and lastly have beautiful blooming plants. I have not been doing much art and craft work in the past two weeks, first of all I had my daughter Sweetpea staying and then the weather is wonderful again and I am spending a lot of time out in the garden.

My husband often takes photographs for me in the garden with his highly technical camera, and I always notice his photographs look better than mine on the blog. Yesterday he instructed me in use of the camera and I whizzed round the garden like a whirling dervish snapping here, there and everywhere. He went to the post office and back, a walk of about ten minutes and in that time I had madly used up thirty shots of a thirty six roll film. I was like a child with a new toy, and I imagine most of these photographs will be blurred and off centre. I can't wait to take them in to get developed. I love the satisfying 'whirr' and click it makes when I am photographing. It makes me feel very professional, and my mind is overactive thinking of all the different photographs I can take and show on the blog.

I am now, at this stage of the summer, looking at my garden and seeing what I think has been successful and what I am not happy with, so I can plan what I want to do this coming year. My children bought me some lovely perennials for Mother's Day and the majority of those have been very successful and flowered. They should do even better next year. One of these plants was a penstemon, hidcote pink, I have never grown these plants before. How did I miss these wonderful plants? It has been flowering since late May and apparently should keep going until the end of September. They come in more colours, so I am really going to be filling different parts of my garden with them next year. I am also going to have my first experiment in growing roses, which for some unknown reason, I have always avoided, possibly, as some people talk about growing roses as though it is a very complicated process, but a blogger has encouraged me to go ahead and have a go. I also will be looking out over the Winter for more interesting objects to plant in, interesting quirky items that appeal to me.

Allow me a proud family moment. From this cute little lady to this sophisticated London girl. Have a wonderful birthday on the 15th July, Sweetpea. I know you read my blog. We'll be thinking of you, and giving you a 'phone call before you start you celebrations. Your Dad and I will have our own little tea party for you in the garden if its a nice day. It could, of course, end up very much like the Mad Hatter's! Hope your brother remembers to buy you a birthday cake, I know you think you are never too old for a delicious cake and candles, and I quite agree with you. Twenty three years old today, my hasn't time flown. You've settled in the capital and I have a feeling that this coming year is YOUR YEAR, go out and grab it with both hands.


Onto a different subject, I am reading a wonderful book at the moment, it was recommended to me by Naturegirl, and is called 'Night Gardening' by E.L.Swann. It is not a very thick book, but it's its essence that counts. Its all about a garden and a beautiful bittersweet kind of love. I am sitting in the garden to read it because it seems to make it even more meaningful, reading it whilst the birds are singing and the bees are buzzing in my lavender. Search this book out if you like reading. Well I really must finish writing this blog as I am going out into the garden to sit in the sun and finish the book I have just been talking about.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The World is but a canvas to the imagination - Henry David Thoreau

To the right of this sandstone cliff stands the castle with the waterfall. A blogger friend has asked if I know any tales about castles, so here is a slightly scary one from the castle that was in the photographs last week.

You retire to your bedroom, after a convivial evening, you have had a pleasant dinner, a musical interlude and the night rounded off with stimulating conversation. It has been a long day, an early start from home in the carriage arriving here, at your destination, in the late afternoon as the sun was setting. The maid has built up the fire and you hurry to bed whilst the fire is at its best. A wind has arisen and is howling around the castle, from the bed you can see the storm clouds hurrying across the night sky through the open curtains. You pull the covers tightly around you and drift off into sleep.

You stir in your sleep, the sound of the wind wakes you, and the room is icy cold now, you can see a glow in the room, surely the fire has died down by now. You sit up slightly in bed. Yes the fire has burnt down, but what is the golden glow, it seems to be growing brighter by the minute, slowly but steadily it enlarges and begins to glide slowly towards you. Your hands clutch your bedcovers, you can not move, you cannot make yourself jump out the other side of the bed or hide under the covers. You are mesmerised. The glow is right at the side of your bed. A misty form seems to be materialising within the glow, second by second this forms into a human shape. A young boy with long golden curls and a white shift appears in the glow, he stares at you for a long time with a benign expression on his face. Then slowly he turns away, the glow still surrounding him, and disappears into the wall beside the fireplace. You realise that you can move again and your heart is beating rapidly. A strange calmness overcomes you and surprisingly are able to fall asleep again. You awake to a bright new morning and the maid bustling in with firewood for the fire.

The above is my retelling of a ghost story connected to the castle. The ghost is of a radiant boy, similar to my description. It is said that those the radiant boy appeared to would make their mark on life but eventually die a tragic death. The ghost was first written about in the early 1800's when a clergyman declared he had seen it. As far as can be ascertained only one person who saw the apparition did die a tragic death, many others died peacefully in their beds in old age.

Complete change of subject now, do you remember that I said I was involved in my first two ATC swaps a couple of weeks ago? Well I was very excited about this and got two lovely packs of swaps in return, but I could not post the ATC's I had made as I wanted to be sure they had got to my friends first, so that their first view of them was not on my blog. The series for one of the swaps consists of three cards, on the theme of gardens. This first card is Night Garden, showing the moon helping the plants to grow.

The second in the series in called Poppy Garden. The poppy fairy is is on this one surrounded by the poppies she guards and looks after. The poppy fairy makes her dresses out of the fallen petals of poppies. At first when I started making these ATC cards I found it difficult to say all I wanted to say in images on such a small area. The cards only measure 2.5inches by 3.5inches. The size is a challenge in itself.

The third of the series is just called Fairy Garden. It took me a long time to be able to fit into the card size the image I had in my mind. Another time I will upload the other set of three cards that I had in the swap. I managed to find a packet of brown luggage labels in the Post Office the other day and a packet of white plain postcards. My next experiment is to try some postcard size altered art and make some altered labels.

Just before I go I must tell you there was a beautiful moon shining through my bedroom window when I went to bed in the early hours of the morning. Large and yellow with threads of indigo clouds running across it, just like a painting. When I was lying in bed it was shining on my pillow. I love going to sleep in moonshine.