Saturday 27 November 2010

Snowy Dawn

I didn't think we were due for this. All the forecasts predicted snow in the east or the far south west so, even though we're quite high up, I hadn't expected a blanket of white to greet me this morning. But how exciting! I'm such a big kid and get that very same thrill when I draw back the curtains and see the world transformed.
And as it's Saturday and my day for a lounge about in bed for a while, I got to enjoy the sun rising over the hall and the farm, sip a quiet coffee and curl up with my favourite festive magazines. Bliss.
This year the honours go to Country Homes & Interiors and Homes & Gardens for featuring the cosiest Christmas homes, I found Country Living a little bit below par I'm afraid. But I have really enjoyed these two and will spend this afternoon snipping and glueing and putting together my annual festive scrapbook.
Outside it is completely perishing and has been all week. On my way to work yesterday the car thermometer measured -6 C which was a bit of a shock for the end of November. Winter is definitely here. In the woody hollows along the lane from town, the frost has remained all week and the final leaves from the last of the blazing beeches have fallen to ground.
The hedge at the end of our tiny garden is full of little birds, queuing for the feeders and bird table. The east wind has brought the teeny red polls back from Scandinavia and the reed buntings are back from their summer by the river and are resident in the garden again. This morning so far we've been visited by starlings, blackbirds, a nuthatch and a black cap, chaffinchs, great tits, blue tits, coal tits, a jay, bramblings, house sparrows, a dunnock, a greenfinch, our robin and lots of goldfinches.
I do love the birds and I try hard to keep them fed and watered through the colder months of the year. It makes me very happy to have my feathered friends back in the garden although my furry friend has been paying them rather too much attention!
Today is going to be a cosying up day I think. Woody is running the annual village 10k road race this afternoon (mad!) so we will venture out later to cheer him on, but for now I'm snuggled up in the kitchen, the boys are absorbed in a Lego adventure and there is buttered toast and hot chocolate to savour. Happy days!

Saturday 20 November 2010

Lucky Girl

Growing another year older isn't so bad when you're lucky enough to receive the most wonderful gifts. My lovely lovely husband doesn't quite get how happy he's made me with this beautiful dress that I have dreamed of wearing for months. Years in fact, if you count how long I have longed for a dress from Cath.
Its the ridiculusly expensive clothes that I always fall in love with in the CK catalogues. Other things I adore too but it is the perfect, out of reach dresses and coats I wish for longingly. You have to be a bit restrained with Cath I find. Too much, and as my wonderful friend Lucy says, you can look like someone's vomited shabby chic all over your house. I know what she means. A little bit of Cath can do you good but too much is definitley too much. To be honest I don't do co-ordinated anything so a tea towel here, a washbag there and the odd mug is just enough for me.

But the clothes, oh the clothes. The autumn catalogue especially makes me feel all I Capture the Castle if you know what I mean?! But gosh its pricey, so imagine my joy at the clothing sale just before my birthday and the look of relief on Woody's face at knowing what to get for me.
"Lottie" is set to become an old friend I can already tell . Her first outing was dinner here  in Chelsea with our oldest friends on what was the best of birthday weekends in early November. They have very kind neighbours who work at the Royal Hospital and generously let us stay at their flat in the grounds. I wish I'd remembered the camera, it was a fabulous place to stay.
Since then she's been paired with new boots (from my lovely parents after the longest search ever, but a sale baragin again - hurrah!), long cosy cardis and coloured, velvety tights for pub drinks with my sister and another treasure hunting trip to Ludlow with Lucy.

She is a joy to wear, fits just right and is the sort of dress I've only found once or twice before - reliable but special dress and makes me feel much improved on the usual sack of potatoes feeling and perhaps a tiny bit glamourous. Lottie will have a long stay at No.25. What a lucky girl I am!
But it doesn't stop there - my sweet sister knows me so very well and tracked down a gift to make me jump with joy. Presents don't get much better than an original 40s tablecloth, delicately embroidered with the prettiest of spring flowers as bright today as the day they were sewn. Thank you, thank you Eechie.

Monday 8 November 2010

A Little More of Exmoor...and a little more besides

Our trip seems a long while ago now; before pumpkins, fireworks and birthdays. But looking back at my photos the memories of the colours and textures of Exmoor are still bright and fresh.
Autumn was in full swing just a couple of weeks ago but now I can feel the season edging into winter. There are hardly any leaves left on the hawthorne hedge in the garden and the weather today is raw, wet and blustery, (which is the sort of weather I secretly adore, I do love dark afternoons and scurrying home to get cosy away from a gale. Can't be right can it?)
So I'm glad that while we were away we got out and about and enjoyed Autumn in all its glory. Tarr Steps was a real find; an ancient clapper bridge across the rolling River Exe leads to a secluded walk up a hidden wooded valley. And perhaps the best bit was this sweet little pub where we stopped for hot chocolate under the boughs of an old oak tree, dressed in it's seasonal best.
Grey clouds revealed the texture and colours of this lovely place.
And as we were way down in the south west we just couldn't resist popping down the coast to our favourite holiday place for a special day trip. I can't explain how excited I was about visiting Port Isaac out of season. The waves were high and the sea life in the rockpools was the best we've ever seen.
So after an afternoon on the beach we retired to the cosy pub with what I think is most definitely the best view in the world for proper fish and chips.
It was a great way to round off a lovely week and the walk back up the hill to the car was a little easier this time as we looked back on the pounding waves, knowing that before long the thrift will cover the cliffs again and we'll be back beside the sea. Hurrah!

Monday 1 November 2010

Over the Hills

Gosh Exmoor is a long way away isn't it? Now we class ourselves as true bumpkins but this land of beautiful, never ending beech hedges, rolling mists and high moorland fields felt a long way from anywhere.

But that was the beauty of it of course. Holed up in our cosy farm cottage with just a few hundred sheep and a thousand cattle for company was very peaceful indeed. The weather was bright and breezy early in the week and we headed down from the hills, through amber valleys to the sea.
Coombe Martin is a very genteel little place with magnificent rocks for boys to scramble over and plenty of caves and rockpools to explore.

Cold nights brought frosty mornings, perfect for taking in the sights, sounds and textures of the little hamlet where we stayed.
 Many coats were hauled down south with us. We could start an outfitters let me tell you!
But the sun came out again and we headed for another genteel place to while away an afternoon; Lynton this time and a trip on the terrifying cliff railway. I didn't take any pictures on our way down because I was holding on far too tightly. I'm such a whimp.
 And when the rain came back we headed back up into the hills, lit the wondrous log burner (now on my Christmas list!) and snuggled in.
More tales of crashing seas and fiery woodlands next time.