Saturday 26 July 2008

High Days and Holidays

(The first posy of flowers from my garden - you can't believe how excited I was to pick these!)

Finally summer has arrived in the Moorlands in all it's glory. Waking to misty mornings where everything is still and expectant, the boys and I have lolled about the house until well after breakfast, played in the garden in pyjamas while the day gets going then shoved on shorts and sandals for an afternoon out in the woods and fields. No need to rush, no morning panics over forgotten book bags, missing pumps or unpolished shoes. Wonderful.

These are the days I remember best from my own school holidays, what seemed like endless weeks of sunshine, picnics and roly-polying down hills and I hope that's what my little Woodmice will enjoy too. Wet days (not too many please!) will bring trips to town for new shoes, a favourite treat of proper chocolate cake in a proper cafe, visits to the museum and the library and time at home building skyscrapers and city scenes from all the tins and packets in our kitchen cupboards (favourite game of the moment!)

Today we're off to the local agricultural show which is the highlight of my summer. Ours has everything from shire horses to fancy poultry, prize Victoria sponges and gardens on a plate to showjumping, champion cattle and monster tractors. The forecast looks perfect and I love to think of the stockmen from the villages high in the hills, up since dawn hosing down heifers, chalking up the feathered feet of shires horses and herding hot sheep into show pens all for the big day.

In the evening this is where I'll be. Sitting on my little bench while the heat of the day fades and the plants enjoy a drink, watching the farmer bring in the hay from the fields over the road and listening for our frog and the swallows twitter.

England in the summertime, there's no more perfect place to be.

Monday 21 July 2008

Nice work if you can get it

Despite the dreary, awful, awful weather the skies finally cleared and I got to enjoy one of my favourite summer traditions yesterday even though I was working. I only discovered Open Garden days a couple of years ago but since then I've searched them out and been to as many round our way as I can get to and they're just the best fun for £3 quid I can think of!

Last weekend was our village's day to throw open the garden gates (these pictures are of Winster not my village btw. I forgot to take my camera - oops!). My lovely friend Helen and I had great plans to get around most of them but, typical for us, we got completely distracted by a chance to go up the church tower, have a go at ringing the bells (brilliant!), a delicious cream tea and then plant shopping. We don't hang about when we haven't got our pushchairs in tow! Such a special day.
Yesterday I was in the beautiful Peak District village of Winster, not far from Matlock, in the garden of one of the trustees of the charity I work for, handing out magazines and leaflets and generally promoting what we do. A's garden surrounds a wonderful old house with soaring views so it hardly felt like work at all. Not many garden pics but here's some of the village looking lovely all decked out in its summer finery.
More cream cakes followed (I think this is as much an Open Garden tradition as the plants - hurrah!) I even managed a bit of thrifting whilst I was on my break - a free hose reel. Ok not very exciting but Woody is about to break his neck on my snake of a hose by the back door so I am now very popular.
There's something so special about the sharing of gardens plants and knowledge. As a novice I really appreciate any help and advice and although I haven't got much to pass on myself yet it's lovely to share plants and disaster stories with my friends and family.
It was fascinating watching people coming and going yesterday and eaves-dropping on their plant passions. Everyone was very polite and even if there are things you wouldn't have yourself I love to see how other gardeners put colour and form together. I learnt such a lot and I've got plenty of ideas for my patch next year.

Finally it looks like the weather is perking up just as the holidays start, thank goodness. Hope everyone is basking in the sunshine.

I've got a couple of thank yous to make for two awards I've been kindly given. Thanks to Dolly Dollop who I really admire for being a breastfeeding mentor (what a brilliant thing to do) for this first one and to Schotzy in America, a prolific and very lyrical blogger with a passion for Scotland. Apologies for taking a while to post about these, life's been a bit chaotic recently and I got a bit behind myself. I've forgotten how many people I'm supposed to tag so I'm going to award both of these to these five bloggers who really make me smile! Thank you for brightening up my day!

Wednesday 16 July 2008

Isn't she lovely

This beautiful girl has come to live with me. She has been keeping Deb company for a while but the moment I saw her, I wanted ever so much for her to come here and now she has. Deb describes her as having the look of the young Princess Elizabeth and isn't she right. I've got plans to make her a proper home beneath my bevelled mirror which shamefully is still under my bed. Is that a vintage sin d'you think? Maybe I won't ever find a beautiful, shabby treasure ever again - I don't deserve it! Honestly I'll sort it out soon.

For the moment my bedside table is looking much prettier and the colours in the print pick up the colours of my first-ever attempt at a lampshade cover! Now this is bonkers but I feel almost giddy that it's turned out more or less ok. Well actually its a bit short on one side but I'm just concentrating on enjoying it (well apart from the fact I haven't got a long enough extension cable for it but yes, it's on the ever growing list too...)
And look what the postman delivered yesterday - the most fabulous Pay-it-Forward present from Jess who is the such a lovely and creative blogger. A sweet cushion in my very favourite print with pretty bobble trim that I've been admiring for ages, plus some lovely green polka dot fabric that I'm earmarking for a little bag for the bathroom.
Thank you so much Jess for making this for me and for remembering what I like, I'm very touched and ashamed at how forgetful I am because Jess was one of my PIF winners and I still owe her a pressie and my year is almost up! So keep your eyes on the letterbox Jess, there'll be something on it's way to you soon!
And someone else who needs to keep an eye on the letterbox is the delightful Anna of All Things Lovely who is the winner of my blog anniversary giveaway. Not quite sure if the crinoline ladies are quite the decorative touch you're looking for for the cafe Anna but hope you enjoy them!

Wednesday 9 July 2008

Deja Vu and a giveaway

July is turning into a bit of a damp squib up here. This time last year we were coming home from a sodden (but beautiful) week in Cornwall and then I was almost washed away on the way home from work as the Sheffield Flood 2007 hit. Things don't look quite so bad yet and the garden is blissful thanks to all the water, but with sports day cancelled today and the holidays approaching I've got horrid visions of damp children, flattened flowers and a chilly old summer ahead.

So the only antidote until things cheer up is to escape to France - every night! I am addicted to the Tour de France. Not that I really know a thing about it or have any sort of grasp on the tactics but it is a glorious thing to watch on a dreary summer's night.

Woody has followed it religiously for years and patiently reminds me of the riders, teams, mountains, speed trial intricacies and technical details every year. The joy for me is the wonderful French TV footage that Sky screen; soaring aerial shots of chateaux, mountain villages with terracotta rooves, acres of rolling corn and lavender fields racing by and vast dark forests at the foot of glowering mountains. (If only I had some pictures, these floral ones are cheering me up no-end though!)

I'm not a great traveller - (I love the journey but feel so typically English and constantly embarrassed about having no clue what to say and not understanding the social niceties abroad) - but the Tour lets me experience France from afar for three weeks and makes me a little braver every year to pull myself together and go back.

It's also a year - around about now - that I started my blog and what a wonderful year it's been. I've made smashing online friendships, discovered the lure of vintage via ebay (ouch!) and learnt to appreciate and see the world around me with wider eyes. I can't express in a few sentences how much I appreciate all the wonderfully supportive, sweet and often really funny comments people have left. Thank you, sharing my little world with such lovely ladies has changed everything for me so much for the better and I will treasure every one.

So, by way of a proper thank you I've got a bit of something to give away.

Does anyone like crinoline ladies? This lovely pair of chair backs have been beautifully embroidered and if not used to decorate your arm chairs would make lovely panels for cushion covers or any craft project people, so much more talented than me, could produce.

One of them has a few tiny missing stitches on one of the hollyhocks but it's hardly noticeable (and I promise I'll give it a quick press too before I send it to the winner!). Everyone who leaves comment will have their name put in the hat to be drawn out by B next week. Thanks again and good luck!

And I've been meaning to pass on the fab, "You make my day" award onto some of my favourite blogs:

Anna at All Things Lovely - for one of the most entertaining blogs I read. I love her jolly style and and she's opening a cafe soon and will be the perfect hostess I'm sure.

Michele at Cowboys & Custard - a favourite of many, always fun and so creative and the leaver of some wonderfully special comments.

Pipany - the sewer of beautiful things, with the sort of home life I crave and all in wonderful Cornwall.

Dev at The Fairy Glade - great minds think alike I think and Dev's post always strike a special chord with me.

Cathy at Pink Green - the allotment queen with a very busy life who's beautiful posts really inspire me and my allotment dreams.

Thursday 3 July 2008

Lovely Lupins

What do you think? Not a bad return on £1.50 spent at the WI stall in the Butter Market. My glorious lupins are flowering their hearts out and the rest of the border is really taking shape. Everyday I just have to pop out and see what's going on in my precious little patch. Even on the busiest of days I squeeze in a minute to pull up a weed or drench my hanging baskets and I've started hanging the washing out the other side of the line so that I get the best view of my flowers.
The rose plants Woody gave me for Valentine's Day are blooming too, you can just see one in the corner of the picture above and its actually a lovely pink rather than the deep red on the label. The other is a patio rose and is covered in velvety scarlet blooms and I must take some pictures of it this weekend if the sun peeps out.

Pinching out the tips of the cosmos is definitely paying off, plenty of flowers and tons of buds to come for the next few weeks. What a brilliant treat that'll stretch the £2 spent on 6 plants out for ages. Next spring I think I'll try again to grow some annual seeds myself - I'm hopeless and forget about them usually but now I've got a proper garden I might give it a proper shot and see if I can be a real gardener.

More lupins, not sure what type but they're the loveliest shade of dusky rose. Only thing is I've gone and planted them next to deep pink verbascum, pinky/purple foxgloves and a pink. Hmmm, I think this end might need a bit more planning for next year! One day I'll get around to posting some pictures of the front garden and the other borders at the back but they're looking a bit hopeless at the moment so I'm keeping my eyes trained on this side of the garden for now.

Thanks for the lovely wishes about my job. In all the excitement I'd completely forgotten to say what my new post is, typical. I'm going to be working on a new project for the NHS in our region as a Communications Manager, part-time still which suits us perfectly. All quite exciting and a still daunting but now I've had time to let it sink in I'm feeling much more confident.

And another thank you to the lovely Sairer who has one of the most beautiful and entertaining blogs I know. If you like vintage florals, beautiful gardens and delightful chickens pop over and say hello. Thanks Sairer, I'm very touched and still so chuffed to think people actually read this stuff that tumbles out of my head! Blogging is one of the highlights of my day and i want to pass this award onto 5 other smashing bloggers but the laptop battery is about to give up the ghost so if it's ok I'll pop back with those tomorrow.

Thanks again for all the lovely wishes!