Sunday, 15 February 2015

Hill Country

If you get up to Flash, the highest village in Britain, drop over the hilltops and go down on to the ancient packhorse trails, you are in for a treat. 

It's wild and rugged country, a place where three counties meet in the hills, once the hangout of all sorts of thieves, rouges and vagabonds. Today it was us there, with hikers, pony trekkers and a few motorbike scramblers for company (who soon cleared off).

Three Shires Head is a very special place to us. Fourteen years ago Woody asked me to marry him as we stood on that little bridge over the dark, peaty, tumbling river. Standing there today with our two chaps laughing and whooping and skimming stones into the depths, felt incredibly precious. We've come a long way and I feel luckier than I could have ever imagined. 

Happy Valentine's weekend one and all xxx

Saturday, 31 January 2015

A Beautiful Mess

My dresser is especially dear to me. It was the very first piece of furniture I bought. I'd scoured the local classifieds for a pine dresser for my first house and could just afford to stretch to this.

It was horridly orange when I saw it in a dark little bungalow with my dad. The chap selling it was very shaken up after two previous people ended up scrapping over it in the street!? He was quite glad that dad and I spent just five minutes in his house, handed over the dosh and took it off his hands.

I painted it white quite swiftly and it desperately needs re-doing, but part of me is quite attached to the scuffs and dinks that family life have wrought upon it. Over time I've moved on from displaying pale and chintzy china to bolder, chunkier pottery that I much prefer and suits our home much better. The whole thing is a moving, growing display of memories and day to day life which is what I love about it so very much.

The Liberty bunting was a decoration at my 40th party, there are photos of cherished nephews, endless piles of correspondence from school, junk shop and flea market pottery, holiday postcards and pretty cards, presents for wrapping, uniforms needing mending, sewing kits, a colourful tea cosy, favourite mugs and teapots, a pleasingly shaped jug from Lyme Regis, chargers, a cheese dish, sellotape, glue and crafty mess in the drawers - a beautiful, much treasured mess. Home xxx 

Sunday, 11 January 2015

A Refreshing Start

Look! There's life outside despite it being so dank and dark. Not that I'm minding much. Seasons are what keep me going, they mark and celebrate the year, so darkness and chill during January are really just how things should be. Seeing the bulbs peep through though is massive cause for celebration.

I'm not one for giving things up in January, it's a time for comfort and cosiness but  I do rather like to try something new. My concession to the New Year health kick is to try and knock back my sugary coffees and teas (I'm surely the only person left who still takes it!) -  but gosh it's hard. 

Instead of total abstinence I'm reducing my number of mugs and replacing them with a new found friendship with fruit and herbal teas. The Dorset Tea Company kindly offered me a chance to sample some of their delicious range of teas and fruit infusions which was quite timely for me and I've been making some lovely discoveries. 
(note - teapot not required but I wanted to show off my bargain, charity shop Saddler pot. I love it!)

Based in beautiful Dorset where we've had such lovely holidays, the Dorset Tea Company has recently created this new range of fruit and herbal infusions and green teas inspired by the some of England's most gentle and beautiful scenery. Its also good to read they're a producer member of The Rain Forest Alliance.

So, my new regime features a morning boost of Wild About Mint, without doubt my favourite; a mix of peppermint and spearmint (and tingling nettle apparently) that I'm finding a totally different experience and very refreshing. Green tea is a completely new drink to me and one I've looked at with trepidation if I'm honest - but with added lemon it's rather uplifting and relaxing; if that's a possible combination?! 

Woody's sweet tooth has been captured by Strawberries and Cream as an afternoon pick me up. For a fella he can be a bit refined and the special Earl of Dorset blend is disappearing fast. 
A handy flask is making my herbal habit very easy to keep up too. When I'm busy in the borders I like to top up my brew and I found today this trick works even better with herbal teas (lack of milk) and means you're not faced with that lukewarm disappointment that's the curse of the gardener's cuppa.

I've also taken to popping a few bags and a couple of flasks in the back of the car and a warm fruity or herbal choice was very popular after our blustery New Year's Day walk with this lovely bunch. They just reminded me that I really need to remember biscuits too next time - not quite so good for my sugar detox!
So have you picked up a new habit for the year to come? I'd love to know xx

Monday, 29 December 2014

Frozen Beauty

This time last year I couldn't run for a bus. The idea of stepping out in sub-zero temperatures - to exercise! - was an alien concept. If you follow this blog frequently you'll know that things for me in this regard have changed quite a bit. 

Today felt like a reminder of what I enjoy most about getting out running. Nature in all her glory. And a ok a bit cold but you soon get over that. I enjoyed every step x 

Saturday, 27 December 2014

They Said There'd Be Snow at Christmas ...

Late on Boxing Night it came. Great feathery flakes, the size of the golden coins in the boys stockings. Quickly settling and blanketing the village, our Boxing Day get together came to a swift end with family bundling back into the cars to get back over the hills. 

My sister has often been stuck trying to get back to Buxton and thankfully they made it over the treacherous Axe Edge just in time before the roads were closed. 

Mum and Dad live only four miles away but the last mile up the hill was too much for their car and they had to hike up together in the dark. Luckily they're made of sturdy stuff. This morning, knowing that everyone had made it back home safely, meant I could revel in our wintry, festive landscape.
Snow at Christmas time is something I cross my fingers for every year, never imagining it might come. A couple of inches dusted our valley but a mile or two away in Leek there's been a huge dump and pictures from friends in Buxton make it look like Narnia!

I know its nothing like in Europe or the States, but this dusting, when we have our Christmas trees and fairy lights up and have time to sledge and build snowmen, is precious. Christmas snow; the very best type there is. xxx

A Homely Christmas

Cosying in with close family, good food and time together to laugh and chat is all we could have wished for at Christmas and we were so lucky to have that.

Thanks for all your lovely Christmas wishes and I hope if you've been marking the festive season you've had a smashing time too. 

Its truly been a merry and bright time for us, which sort of puts into perspective how for many, many people it isn't and I think that moved us all too. We're a very lucky family and I shall be thankful all year - especially for our extra Christmas present that arrived on Boxing Night. More in the next post. xx

Sunday, 21 December 2014

A Solstice Wander

We'd made a little a plan while ago, my lovely middle sister Rachel and me, that on the shortest day we'd grab ourselves a little free time to walk the lanes and gather some greenery to decorate our homes.

So we set off this dank and blustery morning (perfect!) to wander around Bagnall, the village where we grew up. I only live a couple of miles away but Rach lives over the hills in Buxton and although she's often here visiting us or our folks, I can't remember the last time we had the chance to saunter about together with no time pressure or small people needing our attention.
Both of us were keen to see if we could still remember where all the footpaths went, so first of all we headed down towards to old mill pools and then onto the Salt Track where merchants brought the mineral over from Nantwich to the monks at Hulton Abbey centuries ago. I remember this cosy cottage in a really tucked away spot, as a tumbled down farm for a long time and it was great to see that its being lovingly restored

The wooded end of the Salt Track proved to be a treasure trove for the wreaths we wanted to make and we found wispy seed heads, berried holly and rosehips to snip (leaving plenty for the birds and the rest of the village.)
Our morning was literally a walk down memory lane. We had a good laugh remembering Grandad getting us to hang upside down from the little white bridge over the ford to grab moss for his hanging baskets! We kept complaining about getting wet but typical Grandad he just said' "its only a bit a' watter!" (and his hanging baskets were the best bless him.)

The little brick building is the parish hall where we went to Sunday School, playgroup and lots of village barn dances and things. There's a more modern village hall too that's much better suited to parties and events, but I have really fond memories of the church hall, the glorious view out of the back door and tea from Woods Ware crockery. Its been closed for years and I harbour a little dream that I might turn it into a family home one day (the wooden floors were wonderful!)
So this is what we made. Rachel's is a rather elegant effort, lots of ivy and some discreet rosehips that she's hoping won't get blown away in the windy part of Buxton where she lives. Mine's a bit more of a rustic affair with a little of everything we found including holly, yew, and ivy berries.

I had such a great time, it was treat for us to chat and put the world to rights together and I think just maybe we've invented a new family tradition.  Happy winter solstice everyone xx