Sunday 22 February 2009

A change is as good as a rest

Our half-term has been a lovely jumble of homeliness and special treats.
Although Woody and I have still had to work we've juggled our days about to fit in visits to grandparents, a trip on the bus into town and the library (very exciting for the five and unders!), an afternoon at the museum and time in the garden prettying things up a bit in the very welcome sunshine.

And best of all we've have a holiday away from home to look forward to all week. On Monday we're off here again for a few days. I can't quite believe we that we're going here again within a year and not having to pay a bean for either. My darling Woody can really pull rabbits out of hats and he purposefully booked this trip for the coldest, dreariest time of year to give us all a treat when we most need it.
I'm looking forward to it so much. I have a facial and massage booked (never had a facial before so that'll be interesting!), Woody and I get 3 hours in the spa one evening and the little men are going pony riding and meeting owls. The adored mother-in-law is coming too, it'll be just lovely for us all to relax together.
Most of all we enjoy the water park and just pootling about on bikes in the peace and quiet. We're not usually ones for organised holidays but they really know how to do it here and I'm definitely not one to look a gift horse in the mouth!

So yesterday I popped to town to get a few bits and pieces we'll need and came home with this - well I'm hopeless at resisting temptation. I am beginning to rather covet Cornishware and have had this bowl with the hyacinths in for years. It was my grandma's and is very precious. You can't have too many pretty jugs about the house in my opinion so when I saw this lovely stripey one I knew I had to have it.

But Cornishware can be pricey so lucky for me this has a couple of small chips (which I rather like, more character) and it was mine for £8. More than I'd usually pay but a bargain really. When we get back I shall fill it full of daffs to cheer the last dull days of winter while I wait for Spring to really arrive.

Have a lovely week.

Monday 16 February 2009


There's only one remedy that can bring a bit of cheer to these dark, dank, dreary days for me . Pretty things.

It's at this time of year I find I yearn the most for borders full of blooming beautifulness, pots of cheery daffodils, dainty floral brooches, jugs of flowers, pretty fabric, feminine dresses.
Oooh the list could go on and on so, after a ridiculously long and busy week at work, I escaped for some hard earned me-time on Friday to search out some of the above.

Oh and what a good time I had. Time and funds were short so I headed straight for our charming little town for the Friday market and some food shopping with the lovely stall holders.
I love the hustle and bustle of the busy weekend and Wednesday market days, the noise, the banter, the friendliness but it was nice for once to really have the place almost to myself and quietly browse.
The butcher had time to chat and helpfully suggested I bring a tupperware box along for my mince order to help with their cut down on plastic bags. But even better, one of the chaps from the greengrocers carried my hundred weight of fuit and veg all the way back to the car for me. Can't quite imagine that sort of service at the supermarket.
And then I discovered a whole new treasure - the Friday Indoor Trestle Market, full of beautiful vintageness! The Saturday morning Collector's Market is my most favourite start to the weekend but I had no idea that there was a smaller, indoor version on a Friday - what a treat.

There were several vintage book sellers with everything from 1st edition Blyton's to historic maps, some sellers with antique jewellery and fine china and some more crafty stalls selling cards and pretty things, but it was the retro clothing stall that caught my eye. I have bought a pretty necklace from this lady before so my hopes were high and I was so excited to see this beauty on her stall

And this is what I came home with. Terrible picture but hope you get the impression. I adore this bracelet, even though a few of the stones are missing it's still a beauty (and just a fiver!) It catches the light beautifully and I find myself transfixed by it - just like a magpie!

Woody and I are off to this super dance again in a few weeks time and I sHall wear my new piece of vintage jewellery with this floaty dress I found for £2.50 in my favourite junk shop. Do you think it'll look the part?

Friday 6 February 2009

Cosy days

Well it was our turn for the deluge on Thursday. We woke, like almost the whole country at some point this week, to see a drifting, lacy curtain veil our view from the bedroom window.

School was closed, the roads into the city ungritted (although those between our village and the neighbouring ones had been cleared -!?) and a curious silence has settled over the countryside. It was my favourite type of snow day of heavy, grey skies promising more snowfall to come.

Luckily I can work from home and it was just heavenly to settle down at the computer upstairs in my floral flannel pyjama trousers and snuggly jumper, with plenty of steaming brews to keep me going and get cracking. My type of day in the office!
I do admit to spending a fair bit of time gazing out across the Christmas card scene outside, listening to children squeal and watching the sledgers race down the hillside.
Our little chaps are just beginning to enjoy the white stuff. It's a fine line between fun and freezing your fingers off when you're teeny. I popped outside to enjoy my break in the garden with them and manned the snowman supply lines; raiding cupboards and baskets for carrots, scarves etc.
And then my most favourite part of a snow day - dusk. Work over, computer switched off, two little boys with rosy cheeks tucking into boiled eggs; I popped upstairs to catch the last of the day's light and watch the shadows stretching out across the show and look forward to an evening cosyed up under my eiderdown by the fire.

Days like this are treasures to be tucked away and hugged in your memory for when life is a bit wearing. Later, while I was pottering around the house tidying things away, the sight of two pairs of little gloves, socks and trousers drying on the radiator brought to mind memories of days building igloos, cresta runs in the garden and hot toast by the fire with mum, dad and my sisters quite a long time ago now.
It gives me such a cosy, heartening feeling to know that our own little family is making memories of our own.

Enjoy the winter wonderland and stay cosy.
P.S Thanks so much for the tags I've been included in recently. I will try and catch up and do them very soon!

Sunday 1 February 2009

Garden Love

It's ridiculously cold here today. A bitter, easterly gale is roaring down the valley and we're right in it's teeth. Our bedroom is in the roof and the wind has whistled and moaned around the eaves all night long. I'm yearning for spring and mild days. Oh I do miss my summer garden. Pottering, dead heading, bringing home a new treasure from the WI market and finding somewhere to squeeze it in. We've only been in the house for just over a year so last summer was the first for me in this garden and it was complete delight - ok very wet but I loved it, we all did. My garden is so precious, a sanctuary, the place I feel most relaxed and very peaceful. But it's fun too and a place to play. I feel a bit imprisoned in the house and find myself gazing out of the window, willing spring to come.
Earlier in the week it was mild enough to spend an hour tiding the borders and sorting out the shed but I long to be out there with frothing flowers for company. Time seems to go so slowly in February and I find it torturous so I'm getting out my summer pictures to cheer up a blustery, dreary day.

But there are good sides to this winter battering. The garden is full of birds. Not so many people in our road seem to feed them, apart from us and our neighbour, so we're mobbed especially on raw days like today.

I've been passionate about garden birds ever since one bitter winter when I was around eleven and my sister and cousins and I began a bird club. We fed our little feathered friends then watched them from the kitchen window and drew endless pictures.

I'm very appreciative of the wildlife education my parents gave me, a little too enthusiastically on occasion though it has to be said (I'll always remember mum getting me out of bed aged 15 to come and look at a woodpecker on the apple tree - you can imagine how unimpressed I was at that age!)
Today though I'm such an enthusiast and it's something that has become a special bond between my little chaps and I. Daddy is a master of junk modelling, train building etc, etc but bugs, birds, flowers etc are mummy's forte.

Our garden is very small, perhaps 30 ft square, but our position is just perfect for attracting birds. We're close to a river, the water meadows, farmland and a wood so we get all sorts of unusual visitors.

Reed buntings are as numerous as sparrows, although I'd never seen one at all before moving here. In the winter the birch tree is alive with siskins, red poll and long tailed tits and the ivy hedge is home to a family of wrens, as well as the more usual tits, finches and thrushes. We keep a list of everything in, or flying over, the garden that we see and already it includes sparrowhawk, barn owl, pink-footed goose and even cormorants.

I find it so relaxing to sit curled up with a brew, snuggled up from the cold and watch our visitors flit from feeder to bird table and back to the tree and hedges again. Miles more interesting than a fish tank in my opinion but it does the same job! Wish I had my own pictures to share but my camera really is useless for photographing anything more than six foot away.

Finally the bulbs are coming through. In the autumn we stuffed all the buckets and pots full with crocus, muscari and narcissi and before long the patio will be bursting with colour.

I can't wait, everything is so very bleak and it feels an eternity since my borders looked like this. But if I look very hard I can see clusters of forget-me-nots forming, primroses in bud and a beautiful, deep pink pulmonaria is actually in flower.
Well, think I'll pop back to the window now and see if the bullfinch or my favourite the robin is back. Batten down the hatches and stay cosy everyone.