Friday 25 April 2008

Green and pleasant land

Oh its been a long week and I hadn't meant to be away but the dreaded lurgy finally caught up with me and I've spent most of it in bed. Thankfully I'm on the mend now although its still annoyingly hanging around but I won't bore you with the gruesome details.

David Austin Roses - St Swithun's day (climbing) with a lovely scent for the corner of my border close to the seat where I can sit and enjoy it on a warm day.

What do you think of my new roses? The David Austin website is running a half price offer for all of April so if you're quick you can grab a beautiful bargain. I was looking for two climbers and I can't, can't wait for them to begin flowering, perhaps a few summers off yet though.

My little garden has really been keeping me going. Just being able to pop out onto the patio with a brew in the sunshine (in-between the hail storms!) was a complete tonic. Finally everything is starting look green, the birch tree is in leaf, our hawthorn hedge is that beautiful acidic shade and finally it feels that spring is really here.
David Austin Rosa James Glaway (Climbing) - no thorns so perfect for garden shed where the boys play.
The novelty of having our own space, plants and peace & quiet still hasn't worn off. The garden at our old place was sweet but pretty much un-useable because it was hidden away behind a garage and we had to go out on to the street to get into it. Not exactly ideal for nipping out to do a bit of deadheading in your dressing gown on a bright, sunny morning! (or is that just me?)
Here, I find myself staring at the new garden obsessively. I'm quite a novice and I've only really been gardening with any amount of effort for a couple of years, but since we've arrived here my passion has grown. Its a small space with just one tree, a lawn, deck and a raised patio. The main planting spaces are two borders, one shady beneath the tree and the other, quite a deep curved one that runs below the patio with drystone walls holding it all in.

Not very big, not very exciting really - apart from the huge matter that its mine. My own little kingdom, well for gardening in at least. Woody is no plantsman and as long as there's a space to bat and bowl with the boys he's a happy chap. So this Gardener's World belongs to me.
I spent my first evening of the year outside on Saturday, planting a half-barrel with sweet peas, an old tin bath with stocks, put achilleas, poppies and verbascum in the patio border and even managed to mow and edge the lawn. Amazing really what the rush of a fever bubbling under the surface can spur you onto!

Slowly but surely the planting is building up. There are a few, lovely clusters of forget-me-nots and the lupins, hollyhocks and delphiniums I've put in are coming on a treat. Almost everyone has told me not to bother with any of these because the slugs will gorge themselves on my dreams of soaring, colourful spires but I just have to try. I've armed myself with some organic slug pellets (if they're good enough for Monty Don they're good enough for me) and we shall just have to wait and see.
I raided mum's borders a few weeks ago so now hardy geraniums, pulmonaria, iris, superbum, persicaria and geums are filling out the gaps. It all looks a bit weak and feeble at the moment but I've got everything crossed for May, the wonderful month that turns my garden doubts of "nothing is going to grow!" into "help, I can't keep up!", which in this brand new garden is just what I need.
Better photos next time and I'm really looking forward to catching up with what everyone has been up to this week. Oh look though, four hours are up - Sudafed here I come - yet again!

Friday 18 April 2008

Reasons to be cheerful

Some things just make you heart leap don't they and that's exactly what happened when I saw this most beautiful cushion cover in a charity shop close to work. I've had it since before we moved and I've been waiting and waiting for spring to get a move on and arrive so that I could whip it out to cheer up the conservatory.
And now that's it out on my vintage sofa (which is shamefully still in its battered state and I'm nowhere near getting around to covering), and is making me smile and smile and smile! Better even than a bunch of flowers, better than chocolate.
I absolutely love it but one thing is nagging me. Can you believe there were two and I only bought one! They were only £4 too. I must have temporarily have lost my mind but I do remember thinking that a pair might look a bit too much and if I left one perhaps someone else would love it as much as me.
Now of course I can see just how fabulous it would have looked on my bedroom chair, oh well. I'm enjoying my single one more than enough. Lovely, lovely lovely!

Monday 14 April 2008

Back in the good books

Reading is one of my greatest pleasures. Curling up and submerging myself in a wonderful tale has thrilled me since I was very small.
Thesedays - as many a busy mum will know, (is there such thing as an un-busy mum?) - being quiet and alone with a good book is a rare treat. I've been conscious of putting my books to one side for a while now, for too long, in vain anticipation of saving them up for a day when I'm not feeling too tired or have the chance to spend a whole day reading.

But life is for living isn't it and books are there to be read so I've swapped my embroidery for the book pile for few nights and its been a joy to delve into another world between the pages again. 5am starts with Little A mean that I'm still nodding-off after half an hour's reading in the evenings, like a proper old woman, so non-fiction is my bedfellow for now which means I can dip in and out a bit more easily.

Just after Christmas Country Living featured a wonderful article about the snowbound village of Barley from the Magic Apple Tree by Susan Hill. I was completely captivated by it and couldn't shake the pictures in my head of a hill side community and its bare winter landscaspe shrouded in a white blanket.
So I snapped up a copy on Amazon for a snip and it came yesterday. It is completely wonderful. It follows a year in the life of the village and through the seasons she describes animals, nature, festivities, landscapes and more. Her descriptions are so evocative and capture the images of the countryside I love so much.

From our new house we have an amazing view over the Churnet Valley and to the Peak District hills beyond (sorry I've talked so much about this already, I'm obsessed by it). Its like having a contsantly changing, wonderful painting outside our window and everyday I notice something new or changed about it. I drive poor Woody daft telling him how wonderful it is when all he has to do is look himself to know. But now I have my Magic Apple Tree book to dive into and share my joy of the wonderfulness of what's around us.
I'm only three chapters in but I know already that it will always be a special book to keep beside my bed. One of those reads that stay in your head and you just can't wait to open again. So I'm off now, off to Barley for a while before bed.

Wednesday 9 April 2008

In Love with Linens

I have developed yet another unstoppable vintage addiction. Even though I only own one table I can't seem to stop myself from buying up embroidered tablecloths on Ebay plus the odd tea cosy and tray cloth too! My own embroidery project that I was so excited about a few weeks is progressing very slowly but I'm hoping these gorgeous new arrivals will inspire me on a bit.
The work is just incredible and so, so pretty. Its criminal being able to snap them up for less than I'd spend on a modern tablecloth but, like most people who love this style, I truly appreciate being their lucky new owner and they will be so very loved in my little home.
Of course there is no chance of these beauties gracing our table at tea-time. Vintage linen+ spag bol+2 under 5s really don't mix so instead I thought I'd show you my latest favourites and a few bits and pieces. I've got plans to put them to very good use as cushion covers, laundry bags and afternoon tea with mum in the garden, if the summer ever comes.

My favourite, (to be kept for special occassions), two circles of delicate daisies, roses, etc. In perfect nick but apologies for all the creases, I've not got around to ironing them all yet!

Pretty baskets of flowers

Even a tea pot should have a pretty cover I say

A sweet embroidered towel which I don't think will get very near to the sink.

I can't tell you how long I've been trying to win a sampler for and this was mine for just a fiver. Its ridiculous really but I am so incredibly pleased and will treasure it.

Isn't this needlepoint wonderful. I think it was intended as a cushion cover but will be going into a frame and up on the wall in the hall I think.

Not embroidered or linen but my lovely spotty, sage green, oilcloth really has had it and a replacement was desperately needed. I've been lusting after some gorgeous designs in the CK catalogue but I knew deep down that Woody would have left me if I'd spent our hard earned on a tablecloth for the boys to draw on, spill food on, climb on etc so imagine my giddy joy when a remnant, just the right size for our wee kitchen table popped up on Ebay for £10 to buy immediately. Somedays the CK fairy smiles on me!

Have a happy and not too chilly weekend.

Thursday 3 April 2008

A Walk in the Woods

Don't think I've had hyacinths in such a dark blue shade before, ever so pretty. Excuse the Easter egg tree still being up, we're eeking the festivities out until the holidays end on Sunday.

I can't wait for spring to really begin. Even though its April already I'm impatient for some long warm days and flowers in my garden. No summer to speak of last year has left me - the girl who usually can't wait for the leaves to fall off the trees - yearning for hazy mornings when its warm even before you get up, long slow afternoons by the river, plenty of cricket and balmy evenings watching the swifts dive.
Oh listen at me wishing my life away! Never had any patience that's my trouble. At least we managed to get out in some sunshine on Sunday, with our heads still full of the Chatanoogachoochoo!

Thank you for all the lovely comments about the 40s night. I felt a bit odd about putting pictures of myself on here, there's only been a small one until now, I'm so flattered by all the sweet things everyone has said, you're so very kind and its such a treat to have a place to share things without feeling ridiculous. It means an awful lot to me and haven't stopped blushing all week! -

Back to Sunday, we went on a little adventure down a woodland path we've discovered about a mile from home. It was fabulous, a gently sloping stroll down through a beech wood to a bubbling stream that curls away through the wood.

We took the Nature Guide, free with last month's Country Living, and the huge bumblebee we spotted was a great thrill to my junior Bill Oddie.

Streams with plenty of pebbles to throw in are pretty much my boys favourite thing. Hours can be whiled away plopping stones into puddles and streams. Little A completely wore himself out - hard work this chucking lark, but fabulous training for your bowling arm according to Daddy!