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Monday, 10 March 2014

A walk in the park

Thank you so much for all your good wishes and kind comments on my last post - I had written it earlier and scheduled it for the end of the month as we were going away for a few days.  I did wonder if I would be able to summon up the energy for our little holiday which had been planned way back at the end of last year, when we got a very good deal on both hotel and train fares being so far in advance, but I am pleased to say that having had some good nights' sleep by the time Wednesday 26th arrived I was feeling a bit better and up for a change of scene - we went to London where we stayed in a hotel just off Kensington High Street. The following are some photos taken on our last day when we took the bus to Green Park and walked from there through to St James' Park.  How can I have reached my advanced age and never been there I wonder?  It was beautiful as you will see.


Fluttering and dancing in the sunshine were thousands of daffodils - you could quite forget you were in the middle of London.

 Across the lake we looked back towards Buckingham Palace which we had walked past from Green Park before reaching St James' Park.

 And in the other direction to what looked like fairyland but what was in fact Government offices!  Do click on any of my photos for a better view - this one in particular looks better enlarged.

Not only daffodils but plenty of crocuses too.

 At the end of the lake we came across this delightful little cottage - what a contrast to Buckingham Palace but I bet you can guess which I liked most and which one I'd rather live in?!  It was apparently built in 1841 as the home of the bird keeper for the park.  The design was intended to be a contrast to the architecture of the government buildings nearby - it certainly is!  It has been altered  several times and its use has also changed.  It was once a store for bicycles confiscated in the park but is now used as offices.

 What a lovely garden it had and I could just imagine it in the summer months - I want Mr M to make ours look like this - right now!!


We strolled on towards Horse Guards Parade past beds filled with polyanthus in all sorts of colours.

Eventually we ended up on Whitehall and Downing Street before making our way to Covent Garden where we had lunch in a little greasy spoon cafe since being a fine Saturday all the cafes and restaurants seemed very busy - the jacket potato I chose was good and Mr M wanted a full English breakfast also good and both washed down with a cup of builders' tea!  From there we retraced our steps back through St James Park and Green Park and got the bus back to the hotel to collect our cases and then made our way to Waterloo for the 6.20 train home.


I never tire of this view taken on our way to the station.  If you are interested in seeing other places we went and more of my photos I have put those on a separate page - see "London 2014" on the section headed Pages on my side bar.  Didn't want to bore you to death but wanted somewhere to put them for my own benefit to remind me of what we did and where we went!

I had really enjoyed our few days away in the city but I was happy to be going home as I always am after a holiday.  I am not a natural born traveler and even whilst enjoying being somewhere new I am usually counting the days till I will be home again!  Since my return I seem to have been fully occupied with this and that - why do the days all seem so much shorter now I am getting older? - and I haven't been round Blogland much so forgive me if I haven't visited you lately.  I hope to remedy that soon.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Slow Living Essentials Monthly 9 - February

Having been down with a horrid virus the past couple of weeks I haven't given much thought to the various categories this month but here are some of the things I have achieved during February:

Nourish

I made yoghurt early in the month using raw milk and some live yoghurt purchased from the farm shop  - I don't have a yoghurt maker I just heated the milk to180 degrees and allowed it to cool to 115 degrees then added the live starter and poured it into a vacuum flask (pre-warmed with some boiling water) and left it overnight.  It was delicious and will become a regular make in my kitchen now - it works out cheaper than buying the stuff too.


Prepare


We bought some seed potatoes at the garden centre and here they are chitting in in the conservatory in readiness for planting when the time is right.

Reduce

I try to cut back on plastic bags and always refuse bags when offered one preferring to use my own cotton bags.  I am waiting for the day when I am randomly selected to have my self scanned shopping rescanned at Waitrose as I have the price tags all stuck to my shopping list and the self weigh fruit and vegs in my own cotton bag rather than in separate plastic ones - I wonder what they will say!

Green

We use public transport whenever possible rather than use the car - but this is not specific to February.  I spotted this bus in Salisbury last summer.

Grow


 I have planted some peas in an attempt to get some pea sprouts to add to winter salads - I am trying not to buy salad stuff which comes from warmer climes or has been grown in heated polytunnels and so am left with the odd dandelion leaf from the garden, various herbs, celery and hopefully pea shoots in due course.  To date there is nothing to see - not sure how long they take to germinate.
The sweet peas I planted are coming along well and I will soon have to thin out the mixed salad leaves.

Create

I have to admit that I haven't felt like being creative this month what with feeling so under the weather - will try and produce something for next time!

Discover


Something I discovered - I think it was whilst reading Country Living magazine in the library - was that this lovely bowl given to my mother by her uncle back in the 1950s is something called Mocha ware.  Not of any great value but interesting to know - it sits on a shelf in the kitchen and I use it to hold bits of paper with notes for places we hear about that sound interesting so that when we find ourselves with a free day and wonder where we might go we have some ideas to choose from.  I believe it to be about 150 years old.

Enhance



The flowers along the roadsides enhance a walk into town - or they will once I am feeling 100% again and doing more walks that way - I did the return from town on foot earlier this week and was absolutely exhausted when I got home - this virus has certainly knocked the stuffing out of me!

Enjoy


I haven't enjoyed much these past couple of weeks feeling whilst I have felt so miserable but the bright sunny day on Saturday when we went to Weymouth was enjoyable - see previous post.

If you want to see what others have been up to this month click on the link below. 


Slow Living Essentials Monthly 9 link up - Grab my button!


Sunday, 23 February 2014

Under the weather

 I've been under the weather in more ways than one lately - not just the real weather with its drab greyness, seemingly everlasting rain, floods and associated misery (not that I have been flooded myself thankfully) but also down with a horrible virus which had me speechless for a couple of days - very frustrating as Mr M doesn't hear me half the time normally and not at all when I can't speak above a whisper! Followed this up with a hacking cough day and night which left me with sore muscles in my ribs and diaphragm which has gone on and on for a couple of weeks.  Not surprisingly I felt tired and fed up with it all and my admiration for those who are really ill for months on end went up enormously - not being unwell very often I am definitely not a patient patient!  I tried going to a little place in the Greek Islands or somewhere warm and sunny where I might sit or lie by the azure sea under the shade of an umbrella with a glass of cool lemon to hand but it really didn't do the trick!

 So with yesterday's forecast being for a fine and sunny day and as I was beginning to feel a bit better I really wanted to get out and have a breath of sea air, not having been anywhere for what seemed like ages, so we went to the coast.  We did our usual walk from Weymouth - it's flat and easy and supposed to be about 2 and a bit miles so not too far.

Love this little cove which only ever seems to be used by locals and today there was just a little girl with her Mum sorting through pebbles at the edge of the wavelets.  Patriotic colours I seem to have captured here don't I?

 Speaking of colours I just couldn't get over the colour of the sea round by the harbour it was a deep olive green, out to sea as in the first photo it was turquoise and here along the road to Portland where it flows beneath the road bridge it looks almost Mediterranean doesn't it?  Though I doubt if it would have been as warm.

I must admit I was glad when we reached the Visitor Centre where the cafe was not full  - as it was last time when we had to eat outside as the tables were all taken - so we were able to sit indoors at a table by the window looking at this view as we ate our bowls of soup followed by a hot drink and a shared scone (well they were quite large!)  After a nice sit down and a rest we were ready to set off to the bus stop to get the bus back into town and from there home.  I had enjoyed my day out in the fresh air but realised just how out of condition I had become - will need to build up my stamina again in readiness for the better weather.  I noticed a flask for sale in the window one of the shops selling walking gear which we passed on our way to the bus stop with the words Keep Calm and Go for a Walk - just right for me I thought!


By the way did you know, I certainly didn't, that only 1% of the world's water is usable?  It seems 97% is in the oceans and 2% is frozen leaving just 1% for our use - this I discovered reading one of the posters at the Visitor Centre which told me that they harvest rainwater for use in flushing the toilets.  You certainly learn something new every day don't you and to think that with all that rain and floods we still have only 1% of usable water!  We really can't afford to waste a drop can we?!

Monday, 10 February 2014

What a fun time we had!

Firstly thank you all so much for your comments on the last post - not one of you said you thought I was mad!  Just a couple of responses before I go on to today's post.  Catherine - I did indeed check out the small house websites - more dream places there! Helen - Yes I did leave Mr M at home as the whole reason for going is to be alone.  Don't get me wrong Mr M and I have been happily married for over 40 years and would be lost without each other but we are not, nor ever have been, a matching sweater, joined at the hip type couple.  I could write a whole new post about why this might be but for now suffice it to say I wanted to go alone.  Lesley - cup of tea without electricity is easy peasy - kettle on camping gas ring or even on the fire and Blackberry Girl I think maybe your great grandfather might have been right about electricity though perhaps in ways he didn't forsee.  Another post here maybe!


Now on to business:  The day dawned bright and sunny and I set off to the village to buy milk for tea along the lane sparkling with raindrop diamonds.  When I got back feeling refreshed from my walk in the Spring sunshine and carrying the milk I set to with the beeswax polish till my little table gleamed in the sunlight pouring in through the window.  I set a little pot of primroses and other wild flowers in the centre of the white, delicately embroidered table cloth exquisitely darned here and there by some long forgotten hand and with the wood burner shining black and the windowsills dusted and their potted geraniums glowing red everything looked just fine.  With the door open to allow the spring sunshine in the air was filled with the perfume of beeswax, wild flowers and fresh air.  I set out the teacups - a motley collection of mismatched china and some plates and napkins and so on and all was ready for the visitors who came from far and wide - all the bloggers who had wanted to join me arrived and crowded into the little space (which of course magically grew to accommodate them all).


What fun we had getting to know one another and talking of this and that as good friends always do. I made tea and we toasted crumpets and teacakes in front of the fire and there were scones with cream from the farm and a delicious cake copied from here (if you scroll down this post you will come to a delicious looking swiss roll).  Copious amounts of tea were made and drunk, goodies (all seemingly low calorie in spite of the cream) eaten and converstaion flowed.

What a great, fun filled time we had and when eventually everyone said their goodbyes and we agreed to do this again sometime soon they set off for home - distance being no object of course - leaving me to sit by the fire and reflect what a wonderful thing this blogging is and how many good friends it helps make.

Now I must get back to reality - day dreaming is only a problem when one doesn't know the difference between it and reality so now I must go and get some lunch here in my real home!

Friday, 7 February 2014

Away with the fairies?



I am so lucky - I have a bolt hole to which I occasionally escape.  It is not far away and when I feel the need to be alone I just pack my rucksack with a few things and set off by bus.  The bus drops me in the village at the end of a narrow lane and about half a mile or so down the lane is my sanctuary.  It is very small, a converted farm building, with just a little living room with a wood burning stove and a tiny kitchen area where I cook on a little two-ring camping stove.  My bed is on a mezzanine floor and the warmth from the wood burner keeps that cosy too and I can see the flickering light of the fire as I drop off to sleep.  The building is made of stone and the windows allow plenty of light to come in, the floor is of old wooden boards and there are some traditional rugs and a sofa with lots of cushions, mostly with faded vintage fabric covers, along with a couple of patchwork quilts and crochet throws.  There is a cushioned window seat where I can sit to read and I have a small table and a couple of chairs.  It is all very peaceful and comfortable.  Outside is a small sheltered area paved with mossy old bricks where I have a comfortable wooden seat and a little table and where in summer I might eat my meals or just sit admiring the distant views across the countryside.  I am sure you will have seen pictures in magazines like Country Living of the sort of thing I mean.

When I escape there I spend much of my days walking in the surrounding countryside enjoying the different seasons or occasionally I might take the bus to the coast for a walk by the sea for a change.  Or I might just stay at home and write or read or maybe do some knitting or even to do nothing at all.  The village has a shop where I can buy what I need and since there is no electricity at my little house - so no fridge - I walk to the shop most days for fresh milk and whatever else I need.  It's beautiful along the lane especially in spring when the frothing cow parsley fills the hedgerows and there are wild flowers too, primroses, celandines, blue bells and lady smocks each in their turn.  I love it at any time of year as every season has something to enjoy.  Sometimes I might spend a winter's afternoon reading by the fire with a cup of something hot to hand or maybe spend time cooking up things I like for my supper and not having to take anyone else's preferences into account!  In summer I sometimes sit outside with my knitting or perhaps my pen and paper to write.  No computers here of course!

Somehow I feel more in touch with Nature here, perhaps it is the lack of electricity and the fact that when it gets dark the tiny living area is lit only by candles and an old oil lamp along with the light from the fire and on summer evenings I am aware of the twilight gradually fading until the sky is deep indigo and sprinkled with stars and the bats are flitting about.  There is something calming about living with natural light - short days and long evenings without the brightness of electric lights in winter and the longer days of summer when it gets dark so gradually and I am either outside or sitting with my book on the window seat catching the last rays of the sun and watching night gradually fall.  It's all so natural to want to go to bed early in winter and to be more energetic and wakeful in the summer months.

Of course this is just what it sounds like - a daydream so that if I suddenly decide that maybe I would prefer a different bolt-hole somewhere else then I can change things instantly!  I have always had a tendency to daydream and my daydreams have most often featured houses.  Maybe this is because we never had a house of our own until I was married - my mother and I lived our lives in other people's homes and I shared a bedroom with her until I was 14 when she got a job in a house where I had my own room (as of course did she!) for the very first time.  As a child when I visited a friend for the first time I always returned to regale my Mum with the details of the home and what it was furnished with.  I have read recently that daydreaming is good for us and also makes us more creative so perhaps if I spend time doing so it is no bad thing.  And as the South Pacific song says , "If you don't have a dream how you gonna have a dream come true?"!!

The photo is from "Little Grey Rabbit and the Wandering Hedgehog" a book I have had for more than 60 years and it tells the story of how she met the wandering hedgehog and befriended him, making him a warm coat out of patchwork so he would not be cold on his travels in winter.  In this picture Hare has visited him to see what he is like and been persuaded to try a puff of the hedgehog's pipe filled with meadowsweet baccy and to see the pictures he dreams up in the smoke of the places he will visit and so on.  I wonder if these days it would be taken as a hallucinogenic drug he was smoking and not just meadowsweet - or maybe meadowsweet IS hallucinogenic I don't know but as an innocent child I wouldn't have thought of this any more than I might have wondered if Noddy and Big Ears were gay - a word which had a totally different meaning then anyway!

So back to the title - am I away with the fairies as this place doesn't exist except in my imagination or is this just a harmless, stress reducing pastime?  Do you ever join me in drifting off into a daydream?  And if so what of do you dream I wonder. 

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Slow Living

I have been having a potter round Blogland recently flitting from one blog to another the way you do and have come across a group of bloggers who are interested in many of the same things as I am.  Many of them are much younger than I am and many also parents of young children - now doesn't having new friends of the younger generation keep one from becoming stuck in one's ways and the fact that some are from other countries too keeps me fresh and au fait with new ideas One such blog I liked and have been following is Sustainable Mum and seeing her recent post about Slow Living Essentials Monthly 9 link up I popped over there too and decided to join in myself so this is my first post on that Theme.  I am required to post under 9 different headings as you will see.

Slow Living Monthly 9 Link up for January

 Taken in the evening with the electric light on so the colour is a little orange I am afraid!


Nourish - According to the Oxford dictionary this means "to provide with food or other substances necessary for growth, health and good condition" amongst other definitions.  So how have I been doing this during January?  Well I have been making bread - I haven't yet mastered sourdough but have been making ordinary bread once or twice each week.  I also made some organic Seville Orange Marmalade to go with it!


Prepare - I struggled with this one but then thought of the seed lists we have made and the catalogues we have perused in preparation for the springtime when we might eventually be able to get out in the garden.


Reduce - January being wet and only suitable for indoor games as it were I set to having a sort out and getting rid of some of the clutter which seems to breed chez Marigold.  Several trips to the charity shops later I felt I had cleared the decks a bit but I swear stuff breeds and I can't actually see much difference now!  I am also trying to reduce my use of the computer in particular the internet - I keep telling myself that once a day is often enough to check e-mails and blogs and maybe to have a day or two each week when I don't turn the computer on at all would be better still but I am still struggling with this one I fear!

Green - As the title of the book says It's Not easy being Green and I find that there are no easy answers to what we might do to improve our eco-credentials - we do what we can such as walking where we can, using the train rather than the car where possible, cutting back on our use of resources such as electricity and gas by only using what we need and not lighting or heating rooms we are not actually in at the time and so on.  However this is normal for us and not specific to January.  Must give this one more thought!



Grow -January 2014 here in Somerset has not been suitable for any kind of real gardening as it's been so wet but I did do a bit of the indoor sort and have some sweet peas planted and also some salad leaves growing in our unheated conservatory.  Not sure how long it will be before I have enough for a salad!


Create -One advantage of the wet weather has been that there has been more time for indoor pastimes and I have surprised myself with the patchwork I have achieved (to anyone new to my blog I find Patchwork incredibly time consuming and it's not my chosen metier at all - or wasn't!).  I quite got the bit between my teeth in January though and made a couple of little quilts as seat covers using up materials I already had.

Discover - As I said at the beginning I have discovered some new bloggers who share my ideals and I am looking forward to getting to know them better.


Enhance -"to increase or further improve" well to this end the little bird table has certainly done that as it has increased the number of birds which visit our garden and now as well as Mr and Mrs Blackbird and the Robin we have all manner of other birds who flock to our little plot.  I am especially pleased to see the Great Spotted Woodpecker who is a regular visitor and enjoys the peanuts as well as the food in the coconut shell.  The little dish on the table top is filled with the same mix as the coconut shell and was made for the thrushes who were expending as much energy as they were taking in by trying to eat from the shell by hovering like humming birds but with much less ease!  They seemed to breathe a sigh of relief when I put out a dish, wired to the post so it wouldn't get knocked on the floor, filled it with the same fat/seed/fruit mix and they now come regularly to feed from there.  I love the way there is rarely any fighting amongst the birds who seem happy to take turns at getting a share of the food.  It provides us with endless entertainment standing at the kitchen window watching them!


Enjoy -As I said it has been very grey and wet here throughout January but in between times we did have the odd spell of sunshine - just enough to reassure us that the sun was still there and the highlight of the month for me was the trip we made to Weymouth which I posted about here.  It was so wonderful to be out in the fresh air and sunshine and to be able to have a walk and so totally enjoyable!

If you are interested to see other posts on this theme check out this link: Slow Living Monthly 9

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Making hay while the sun shines

Well not actually making hay but making the most of a sunny morning and going out for a walk!  We did the weekend shopping yesterday so all we wanted today was a newspaper. I had said yesterday that I felt the need to get out for a walk even if it was raining but luckily this morning dawned bright and sunny after torrential rain during the night again.  Let's hope that February is going to be better than January weatherwise although we have had odd spells of sunshine - just enough to reassure us that the sun is still there!


The view from the back door at breakfast time.  I put some washing on and some bread to rise and we set off not daring to leave a walk till after lunch in case the sunshine didn't last.  We didn't want to do a long circular walk in the countryside as we could just imagine getting nearly to the end and having to turn back due to flooding and in any case I had to get back to deal with the bread - didn't want it taking over the airing cupboard!  Want to come with us?

 We set off along the road where I'd seen the daffodils coming into bloom here although we didn't go via the wood as it had poured with rain last night and it would have been very muddy.

 Whilst not exactly "beside the lake" nor "beneath the trees" these daffodils were certainly "fluttering and dancing in the breeze" alongside the main road! 

 We passed this gate which looked enticing and had a footpath sign on the post  but with bread rising we didn't have time to explore and will have to take the path another day.

 We came out onto the A30 where more daffodils were "tossing their heads in sprightly dance" alongside the busy road.

 We crossed the road and found a lane leading to this footpath which we decided to try - not wearing wellies nor walking boots we wondered if we would be able to walk it but although damp with occasional puddles it wasn't too bad and was out of the wind.

Strong sunlight to our right with the sun low in the sky made for these rather dark pictures.


 Look at these pretty cyclamen on the bank - the left hand side of the lane is bounded by the fences of people's gardens so maybe it was an escapee.

 We could have taken a path across this field but as we had limited time we decided against that and continued down the lane.


This little blackbird was busily whirring his wings in a tree at the bottom of one of the gardens - fun eh?

We reached the end of the lane and now we were on residential roads and not far from the local Post Office where we bought our paper and headed home.  The sky had by now turned dark and looked like snow when a heavy squally shower hit us - boy was the rain cold!  Luckily we were not too far from home and had come prepared with waterporrof coats with hoods.  By the time we reached our road the sky was blue again and the sun back out.  The bread was ready to be knocked back and the washing had finished its cycle and we were ready for a coffee.  Just over an hour walking in the fresh air had recharged my batteries as I knew it would. I made some soup to have with the bread for lunch and got my washing dried and ironed and felt well satisfied with my day!