About Me

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Mama, gardener, teacher, photographer, faffer with paint and colour

Sunday 25 December 2011

Merry mid winter

I love the winter solstice, the promise of light increasing slowly, slowly. For now staying by the fire,warm in the darkness, hibernating...
For the first time we are using ash wood felled in our own woods, hauled up a muddy slope by hand on a kind of barrow adapted by Ashley, in the summer we will use a truck and trailer .The track is slippy in the steepest part, being mud and shale it is tricky to keep your footing at the crucial moment, when my strength gives out I am glad of an extra haul from my fellow husky. It is good to be tired, lungs huge from exertion, legs wobbly, but a weeks worth of wood for our burner.

In an attempt to be a more social creature, now my work is a bit more solitary, we had a gathering of friends old and new for a mid winter celebration.Sharing food and too much mulled wine on my part.We lit as many candles as we could find, decorated the living room with evergreens and bright red holly.We played about filling these little metal heart cooking tins with berries and lichen and a pair of little felt elf slippers straight out of the elves and the shoemaker. Neat and perfect for dancing, when the big people are asleep in their beds.....

It has been a winter of dancing around for our dearest Daisy, who has gained her wings in many ways. Playing a recorder solo at the school play and discovering the joy of unashamed dancing and singing, she is flying.This is her, turning into a sparkly mermaid as she whirls dervish style. 

Tonight is Christmas night and although sleeping in the lounge, so I don't keep everyone awake coughing, I am happy thinking of friends and family as I write, as usual thankful for how lucky we are. The elves have to bide their time as I am busy but they will get to dance soon....I wanted to send some love and light to anyone struggling with whatever life is throwing at them. Have a candle and a wish for someone you are thinking of. 
(Especially for Suzy, Jo and Thomas, Lunar and Pickle.)

Enjoy the return towards the sun. Merry midwinter everyone x

Sunday 20 November 2011

Daffodils,Tim Minchin, Change

So November is running heedlessly on without its coat, whooping at its own warmth and recklessly encouraging bulbs to start shooting beneath the earth. I spent one morning this week rearranging a flower bed and had to dig up daffodil bulbs underground.Their shoots were long and they will soon be above ground early.This time last year we had snow and I am wondering when this crazy warmth will end and we will get our first real frost. Some flowers are still hanging around looking a little ragged and munched, rebellious in their summer dresses.

Earlier in the week there was a thick mist hanging over our part of the moor. One of those days when its not even raining but the mist lands on everything, soaking quietly.

Walking home with my sparkly dog I had that eerie feeling that noone else was around, my wellies sounded loud on the lane and the oak trees holding onto the leaves stood silently in the greyness. My walk home is the time I feel most connected with the land around me. After a mornings gardening I am tired, I can walk without any other agenda than getting home at some point. I have time to watch the smallest changes in the hedgerows. At the moment, after flailing, they look like they have had an over zelous haircut.Yow.

The pregnant cows switch their tails as they lay in the muddy field, only one bothering to stand and eat.Their uneven winter coats cover their swollen bellies. The occasional flutter and whir of a wood pigeon out of the mist. A couple of crazy, barky dogs send me on my way. Homeward.

Later, in the car, we were listening on the radio to Tim Minchin's song," White Wine in the Sun", you can listen here. We got home before the song was finished, so sat in the car and listened to the end of it.Tim Minchin makes me laugh a lot but this is more of a love song. Daisy turned around to hold my hand, she finds any emotional stuff hard to bear and is touched particularly by sentiment in music, (she once asked me to turn off Billie Holiday as it was too much).We listened in the dark. On the walk to our gate she carried on holding our hands and said "Daddy that's like me, I'm your blue eyed girl because I have blue eyes". Ashley agreed that he thinks of her when listening to it. At that moment we are all together......Thinking of how it will be when she is grown up and we are older.We are at a point of change, a quantum leaps into the next stage of our lives. She will start a new school soon, within walking distance, new friends to make and back in her own community. I am glad.

This month is seed falling month in the Celtic calendar, I like this name. Often in November as the leaves are nearly gone, I yearn for life, growth and I resist the dying vegetable garden and receding energy. I was born in Spring so I think this is where my joy lies. I can deal with Autumn in the sunshine but find the flat grey mornings hard.Today was, happily for me, a beautiful day, blue skies, whispy clouds.

Gentle, low sun shining through the leaves, setting their red, gold and green aglow.

The garden was hiding many things of small beauty, alive, fruiting, seeding, changing.

This periwinkle has an amazing centre up close..........Have a peek.

It reminds me of spider eggs nestled in a sac.

The ivy is flowering, one of the few to start flowering now. Next time you see one, look this close, they are crazy flowers.

Shocking pink fruit from Spindle trees hang and burst open, revealing bright orange seeds.

Nature's current colour clash.

A confused Rhododendron is starting to flower, just two flowers as lookouts. Too early! Go back to sleep. So here we are...... Autumn bumping into Spring, falling and leaping, changing times.x 


Saturday 5 November 2011

End of the day play.

I am writing quietly, so as not to disturb the play going on at my feet. After a day being out and about, going from swimming lesson to walking with friends, it is dark now and we are all doing our thing by the fire.The dog is asleep after a good walk, Ashley is reading, I have been playing with photos and am writing this blog. Daisy is happy playing on the floor, talking to her Sindy doll and a lizard .She has given the Sindy doll purple goo mittens, scarf and socks, 
( imagine purple chewing gum that peels off if you haven't experienced goo stuff ). The lizard is modelling an all in one hoody design. See....when she says "Will you play with me mummy?", my head doesn't quite go to the same place.Nice designs though.

 I have to write quietly as if I breathe too loudly Daisy will awake 
from her reverie and this space will quickly disappear.

  So what's been happening here? 

A lot of water has been falling from the sky, quickly followed by a swollen River.The River is cloudy with silt. It clears to a rich Guinness, coloured by the moorland peat, stirred up in the rush from moor to sea. It is hard to capture the forceful rush of the water, the air hums with its energy and the cool vapour is instantly ital. Watching the strength of flow beneath you as you cross the bridge is pretty humbling.

All of a sudden water is obviously in charge. I have always loved this idea....

“Human beings were invented by water as a device for transporting itself from one place to another.” 
 Tom Robbins, Another Roadside Attraction

My space is narrowing, play with purple goo has changed to looking at Tourist attraction leaflets, (an essential raid earlier by the children on the way to the cafe toilet). A vague mention of when dinner is, means five minutes max before the energy shifts. Ashley has asked Daisy to get the nail clippers for him. Daisy asks me to get the nail clippers as, I quote,"We don't know where they are".No one gets the nail clippers and they get distracted by watching a song on Ashley's phone.The owls hoot to the sound of,"Your thigh bone is connected to your hip bone". Ashley and I argue over whether another weird cry is a goose or a vixen or deer.I don't believe a goose would cry at night. 
Phew .... the Jenga game is out, Ashley fearlessly goes into playing a game with rules, with a headstrong, only child. My space increases.

Anyway back to the water.We are surrounded by the dripping trees in the woodland and raindrops drops on bright red Acers. Such delicate beauty next to awesome might.

With the River in full spate our bath water changes colour.Now our cooking and light is directly from the energy of the water (with the aid of some high tec kit). In a few weeks our heat will also be from the hydro and then the water will be all encompassing.Awesome.

Jenga down, I'm gone.x

Saturday 22 October 2011

Dark story and firelight.

This evening we went to a harvest party in the field at Chagfood where the beautiful vegetables from our veggie box are lovingly grown.For those of you who live many miles away you can check out some of our friends and Samson the Horse who does a lot of the work at Chagfood.We feel so lucky to have happy smiley people, and a beautiful strong horse, growing fantastic food right on the edge of our town.
The evening was warm and star filled and it was good to sit around the fire, chatting and listen to the music of the incredibly talented Rima accompanying Thomas Hirons' enchanting storytelling. Pig tailed daughter listened wide eyed, or eyes screwed up, depending which way the smoke from the fire blew and only dared to whisper, "Is it true?" a few lines from the end.The story was of Baba Yaga, a fearful crone who lives in the deepest dark of the woods and Helena who must rescue her brother from the dreadful crone. Rima played the accordian, running as Helena's life depended on it away from Baba Yaga, or snoring like the old crone herself. Lots of ahhs and oohhhs and witchy enough to take your mind to the dark places.
The food shed was raided and the children returned with pudding for us, which was an unexpected treat. In the dark we tried to work out what it was made out of, maybe plum kind of crumble?!
Little children lay in their mums arms feeding,watching, or closing their eyes as they were falling asleep saying,"I'm never ever EVER going to bed". Away from the heat of the fire and just out of the adults gaze, the straw bales were torn apart and the children made straw beds and flung armfuls at each other with glee.
I wonder if this will be one of the nights she will remember, playing in the dark, swinging her torch and running between the candles, just in case the story was true.

Friday 7 October 2011

I love it. Dew? Yes I love it too.

The best jewels in town.

Spiders adding their own spirals. Misty autumn mornings.

Sunday 25 September 2011

Brilliant Blue

Ah, sleepy Sunday by the river.The sun was out and us adults basked in the gentle autumn sun watching the guinness coloured river in strong flow. The pesky pixie girls played getting each other wet in the cold rill, pixie number 1 seemed to be doing more of the water fighting while pixie 2 said she was doing it for charity!
We were so lucky to see a pair of kingfishers flashing their brilliant blue down the river. I have never seen any on this river and couldn't stop myself yelling "Kingfishers!" It was such a treat.Then later as we still sat by the river,( I said it was a lazy sunday) I suddenly saw a little baby mouse hopping along the grass on the river bank.The children came to look, and it was sooo cute.We think it was a wood mouse, it had long legs (for a mouse obviously) and big dark eyes and round ears.
It scurried away from the children and headed for the bank, and disappeared with a plop. Children ran back to their game while two mums watched out , just incase it had gone unknowingly into the river, judging how high the river was above our wellies. No mouse in the river, so presumed safe in the bank.Big dark eyes in a small creature had an instant protective draw.
I've had two days lazing about in the natural world this weekend,woods and riverbank and love how just being still in one place opens you up to watching all the little changes that you miss when visiting or passing through.Time slows and magic increases.

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Little House on the Prairie meets James Herbert

Well this should sort the wheat from the chaff.Just going to chat a while so feel free to listen or not as you please, I'm kind of used to it....
Shall we go for the Rats first? You sure? Ok, so since there have been loads of hydro renovations around the manor in the last few months, the rodents have got a bit fed up of men digging trenches all over the place  so they decided to club together and move in the stable feed room big time.

Cleverly the humans have all the animal feed stored in metal dustbins so that said Rats and mice can't get to it. Not so cleverly someone, a long while ago,left a sack of chicken food in a secret cupboard in the feed room.Well when I say secret I mean I just didnt know the cupboard was there, it wasn't like a revolving door or anything. Our bedroom is above the feed room as we are in the old hayloft.
We knew there was a problem when we heard scurrying around in our loft so Ashley manfully went into the loft and set traps and bait. Scurrying continues and now turns into creatures running up the interior pipe work from the feed room in the wall cavities, and then into the roof space.
Secret cupboard is still secret.Sleep is being lost and tempers fraying.
The Rats are now having wonderful nights play and are completely ignoring bait and traps and enjoying making furry tunnels through the new loft insulation.One of the lovely workmen (no really he is) mentioned a disgusting cupboard full of rat poo but I wasnt really listening, in that missing the critical clue kind of way that you kick yourself for later.
I decide to clean out the feed room in a self righteous grump as it doesnt seem to be my job but they are my Rats.Ah yes there is the secret cupboard...Bloody hell that is a  good sackful of chicken/rat food and a whole lot of incredibly smelly stuff that needs clearing out by me.Quick check to see that there isn't a more suitable person for the job. No, thought not.Needs doing right then and there...grrrrrr. I even said the f word which Daisy gleefully told Grandma later.
We had by this time also called out the rat killer man in desperation.Although having discovered the secret cupboard it was all pretty obvious now, you give them a sack of food or a tray of green bait and chances are they will go for the sack of food.
That night the Rats are probably somewhat annoyed that their free meals have gone and the next day even more annoyed by the rat man leaving tons of bait in their furry tunnels. Anyway instantly we have no rats anymore just a really awful smell every now and then.Rather naively I assumed all the rats would be nicely tidied up ( from the wall cavities -duh) but instead the lovely lady on the phone said the smell will probably just be a few weeks, depending on conditions.So please don't drop in for a cup of tea for a while. Ah life in the country.
On a less smelly note, our family of three humans + dog went for a walk around the land after dinner tonight, a rare treat on a school night when the descent from getting home from school, cooking, eating, bathing, teeth, story, sleep seems to be, well, sometimes just a right pain.It was so good to be in the last rays of sun, looking at the leaves turning red and yellow, checking out the sleepy wasps that stung Daddy yesterday, giving Dylan the pony a good nose rub, and picking cooking apples with a ripe satisfying click.As I struggled to put our pet Rabbits away, (they kept taking it in turns to get back out of the carrier), I could hear Daisy's chatter to Ashley rolling down the field.She is happy,in wellies and little red riding hood coat, climbing through the coppice by her and Daddy's special way. I love it.

Monday 12 September 2011

Plunging headlong into the babbling brook

Obviously I have a need to chat.....I also love showing people things I have seen, so finally after much avoidance and fear of a blank page I am entering the world of blogging/blagging.

Wondering and wandering around for a new profile pic I came across a toy monkey, a relic of a neighbour's needy dog. Its been sitting on a fuel tank for a while and when I looked today I realised it was blind, probably a crow giving the glass beads a bit of a try for lunch.It seemed a fitting start.....Please talk amongst yourselves while I play around for a while to see what I can do.