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Thursday, 24 February 2011

The answer my friends...!

I think I've discovered the answer! The question was where does the time go and why don't I seem to get as much done these days as I used to?
Today I am having a rare treat - I am on my own for the whole day - DH has gone to London to a stamp exhibition (yawn, yawn!) I decided that rather than going with him to London and amusing myself there I would take the opportunity to have the house to myself for a change. Before he retired he was gone from home at 7.15 and rarely back before 7.00 in the evening and occasionally he was abroad for his firm - usually for several weeks at a time so I was used to being on my own and I have not yet quite come to terms with his being here all the time!
The alarm went of at 6.30 this morning and having taken him to the bus station I was home just after 8.00 am. When I got back I set to and tidied the kitchen, did the breakfast dishes and I now have two loads of washing blowing on the line, have dusted and vacuumed the whole house and tidied and sorted out the stuff which seems to take over every available surface in our home, had all the windows wide open for a while to let the Spring air in, had a cup of coffee in the garden listening to the birdsong, done Tuesday's ironing and had a wander round the garden with my camera and it is still only just noon!

The answer my friends is to get up early and to get on with it and not spend half the morning faffing about and checking e-mails etc as I usually do!! Sad but true!

There are signs of spring everywhere now - the birds are singing fit to burst, the leaves are softly unfurling in that wonderful pale spring green, the sun is shining and all's well with the world just at the moment!

After lunch I intend to go for a walk and when I get back to get on with something creative - not sure what just yet but hopefully something will inspire me by then! I am alone till the bus gets back about 9.00 so still have plenty of time before I don my wife's hat and go and fetch DH from the bus!!

Better go and get myself something to eat and not spend too long at the computer.....

Hope you too are enjoying a sunny spring day - or at least those of you in the Northern hemisphere!

Remains of last week's fresh flowers - picked over this morning

Here they are when I bought them.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Plastic v Vintage

It's been a lovely day here today and this afternoon I was out in the garden pottering for a while. I moved this white plastic seat onto our tiny patio until I get the little bistro table and chairs painted with a fresh coat of wood preservative and put in position for the summer. It was very dirty having been outside all winter and I set to scrubbing it and whilst I did I pondered on how an old wooden seat even if worn and tatty would be attractive whereas this one just looks horrid (it wasn't much better when it was new as then it was too sparkling white!)

This got me thinking about plastic and UPVC and to wondering why it is that natural things have the ability to look beautiful even when worn which plastic things never have. How much nicer would a proper wooden barrel look here instead of this horrid green plastic water butt? But have you seen the cost of such barrels?!

And here is another one outside the kitchen door along with a plastic watering can - doesn't look like the sort of vignette one sees in Country Living magazine when they have a wooden butt and an old metal can does it?

How much nicer is our beehive compost bin than the bright green plastic one (why is everything green do they thing it will blend in with nature? Some hope!) ?Our beehive will look better when it has weathered a bit and when there are plants growing over the fence behind but that plastic one will look like that for ever!
Pictures from an old CL magazine
Look at these lovely old buckets - not a plastic one to be seen...

and here's a real shed with vintage tools etc - doesn't it look great?
My thoughts then turned to the house and its UPVC windows, loft and wall insulation and so on - all of which were here when we bought it. Now there's no denying that UPVC windows keep out the draughts, keep in the heat, and I never have to take a mallet and the rolling pin to them to get them open in the spring after a wet winter either! But there are disadvantages - when they get dingy there can be no coat of paint to freshen them up, we are stuck with white and the doors are white too which I would never have chosen. This house will never become a pretty tumbledown place like stone built homes of yesteryear will it - what will happen to all that plastic, glass fibre and foam? Is it more ecological to have a warm well insulated house like this or a draughty badly insulated old house? I fear the plastic in our home is here to stay for hundred of years long after we have gone.

BUT .. then I thought that plastic has its advantages as I moved these green chairs into a patch of sunshine (doesn't look very sunny in the pic I know) and we sat and had a cup of tea in the garden - wouldn't have wanted to sit for long but it was beautiful to be outside in February drinking tea and listening to the birds in the wood alongside our garden for the few minutes it took to drink our tea. Plastic is light which is why we changed the old metal watering can we used to have for a plastic one. I suppose that as with most things in life it's a case of swings and roundabouts and whilst the old vintage stuff might look better sometimes the modern plastic has its advantages. Just a pity we inherited quite so much of it from the vendor when we moved here - we will gradually change some of it but I guess we are stuck with the wall insulation and the doors and windows!!
Hope you have had a sunny day too.

Friday, 11 February 2011


Note - only one hand is shown as the other was occupied with the camera!

Yesterday I went up to London to meet a friend and to see the Evolving English exhibition at the British Library. I went by coach - a two and three quarter hour ride with nothing to do other than look at the passing scenery. Lovely, and how I relished the time spent just sitting and letting my mind wander something I rarely allow to happen normally. I noticed my hands resting in my lap and I got to thinking about hands in general and mine in particular. As you will see my hands are not going to win any awards nor will I be offered a job as a hand model (unless it is for the "before" picture) but they have served me well. These hands have peeled thousands of potatoes, typed millions of letters, cleaned up all sorts of things, knitted dozens of garments, lifted numerous cups of tea, planted hundreds of plants .....

They have expressed love, support, pointed out directions, clapped to show my appreciation of lots of performances both professional and otherwise, soothed many a fevered brow, changed many a dirty nappy, picked thousands of flowers held many hands both as a gesture of love and to protect from danger, they have even smacked on occasion!

No two pairs of hands are the same - every one is different and unique to the individual, there are long delicate fingered hands, strong workmanlike hands, those with carefully manicured nails and those with nails bitten to the quick as well as ones whose nails are filled with dirt/oil etc. There are hands with smooth silky skin, hands with weatherbeaten skin, white, brown or black. We can and do judge a person by their hands and if an opinion can be made within a few seconds of seeing a person's face then it can also be made when looking at hands. Hands cannot be concealed and are on view all the time along with the face - we used them to pay for things, to reach out for things. They give us feedback on so many things too - ever felt impelled to touch something? It might be the rough bark of a tree, the smooth texture of polished wood or glass, the softness of cashmere or the hard stiff feel of hessian. Seeing may be important but feeling is also very necessary if one is to know the quality of something isn't it? I wonder if you have ever thought of what miracles they are and wondered how we could manage without them - I don't think I had. I was nearly at Hammersmith by the time I had thought all this!

The exhibition was very interesting and I discovered things about our language which I hadn't realised before. We spent a couple of hours looking at everything and I wished I hadn't taken only my bi-focals as I found it difficult to read some of the exhibits (memo to self - take reading glasses as well next time) Lunch was good too and we got the last portions of soup left along with some good bread before returning to the exhibition for another look.

The British Library has some fantastic books in its collection including the Sherborne Missal an amazing book weighing 42 pounds and made in the 1400s and with magnificent art work. This book comes from Sherborne just down the road from here and I have to admit that I had never heard of it in spite of the fact that I went to school in the town (not in the 1400s of course!) There were other beautiful ancient books too from all over the world and I couldn't help thinking that the Kindle would probably not survive 600 years nor be anything like as interesting to any future generations if it did!

Thank you for your kind comments on my previous post and for those who asked about the pattern for the hearts it was from a Woman's Weekly magazine many years ago and I reproduce it here - if you can't read it let me know and I will type it out for you. Joy I do have some old patterns for knitted bikinis - not that I ever made one - but this one would be a bit teeny wouldn't it?!!

Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011


I am so grateful that I live in such a beautiful part of the world, that I am fit and able to walk and that my sight enables me to see and appreciate what is around me. This morning I walked into town for my Knit and Natter group - what a lovely lot of ladies I have met there! The sky was a brilliant blue and the sun was shining.

I noticed these lovely cheerful little crocuses in the leaves near the church as I made my way to the bus stop for the bus home.

Since I don't have any proper knitting on the go I took these little hearts to work on whilst I nattered!.

After lunch I decided to go for a short walk up through the woods which are literally on our doorstep...

... and out onto the road where I knew some daffodils were already in bloom having seen them from the car on Saturday.

Round here the roadside verges are planted with thousands of daffodils of different varieties which bloom over a period of months as one lot fades another is ready to burst into flower - these were the first.

With heavy traffic thundering past I enjoyed these wonderful views - this is why I wanted to come back to England where I belong when we lived in France! Not to listen to heavy traffic you understand but to have views like this on my doorstep.

Here are some later daffodils getting ready to follow - we should have daffs in bloom for several months.

Some snowdrops in a garden I passed on my way home

And my indoor gardening - we shall soon be able to harvest a few pea shoots to add to our salads and in the other pots are some salad leaves which I am hoping will also provide us with some fresh green salad.
I have been making bread - this one is a plait made with half wholemeal and half white flour and with one end sprinkled with grated cheese (I thought we might not want all of it cheesy as we might not want it with soup but may fancy some jam or something sweet with it.)
Here is one I made earlier - on Friday - being served with some of my crab apple and damson cheese - yummmn!

Now I know the world has gone mad - in this Saturday's Telegraph was this article about a property developer who has some flats - I guess they should be called apartments when you see the prices. One bedroom flat for sale for £6,000,000 no that isn't a typing error it really does say 6 million pounds! In the unlikely event of my ever having that sort of money to spend I don't think I'd spend it on one of these, especially if that is the view from the window, and might rather have one of the sheds pictured below...

...these were in the Waitrose weekend paper and are part of an article in which you send in your photos of sheds (not your average one full of spiders and dirty flowerpots apparently) and the best one will win £1,000!

Better stop waffling on and see about some dinner!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Bags, beads and books

Goodbye January! Welcome February and the last of the colour posts before Spring!

These are some of the colourful bags I have in my collection.

Some of my collection of colourful beads and brooches - I'm not a twinset and pearls lady as you can see.

A book I bought at a charity shop recently because its photographs were by Linda Burgess whose photography I admire.

And last but not least my new table mats together with a bunch of sunflowers purchased in France to sit on a shelf in my kitchen which had green tiled wall behind the cooker with randomly place sunflower tiles.
A little anecdote re the bunch of sunflowers which may amuse you:- My daughter wanted some like these and I purchased some for her and when coming over from France to UK I wondered if I would be allowed to bring them as their stems are made of very stiff wire and I didn't want to put them in my case to go in the hold. I asked if I could take them and the charming official at the airport took them from me whilst I went through the usual pat down search etc and then duly handed them back to me with a small bow and a "Madame"! Now even if the wire stems were not a problem I could have had anything concealed within the wrapping couldn't I? I know I probably do not fit the usual terrorist profile but I could have been a terrorist's mother couldn't I? Rather like the time during the foot and mouth outbreak when we all had to paddle through disinfectant before boarding the plane to Spain only to have walking boots still with odd bits of mud etc in the treads in our suitcases! Mad world eh?!!