Friday, 30 August 2013

rambling on . . . what makes a house a home . . . friday flowers . . . four favourite photos . . .

Well, the kitchen is almost finished.  The walls and ceiling painted, Sunflower yellow – sounds a bit bright doesn’t it, but the colour is more like banana – a soft yellow.  Pale green blinds have been fitted which give a coolish light when they are pulled down.  The overall effect though is cheerful and warm.  But it is the little things that have been introduced back into the kitchen that make it more homely.  For me, I think it is the pictures on the walls that are the finishing touch.  Take all the pictures away and it could be anyone’s home – bland and featureless.

When I first took up watercolour painting many years ago – this was one of my first attempts.  I had it framed as a souvenir of the early days.  I think I copied it from a jam advert in a magazine – well, we all have to start somewhere.


There are so many flowers to choose from in the cutting patch at the moment – for the Friday flowers I picked Cosmos, Zinnia and Tithonia and Rudbeckia they were placed on the table in the living room, the blinds were down against the sun and this is how the picture turned out. I think it is stunning – if I had tried to get this effect I would probably have failed miserably.


There aren’t as many butterflies in the garden now but I managed to capture one or two (not literally, of course).


A bee on the dahlias, a poor dead one floating in the bird bath, a small white on the verbena and a painted lady on the sedum which is just opening.

It has been a glorious week weatherwise, pleasantly warm enough to work outdoors without getting too hot – oh and I found a lovely beachscape painting in a charity shop  which I couldn’t resist.


I have taken one of my own pictures down and hung this in its place – I am going to see how long it is before my husband notices it – it will probably be a few weeks I expect.

‘Til next time!  Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Rambling on . . . Love at first sight . . .

I happened to go past the best shoe shop in town.

I happened to notice they had a SALE on.

I happened to spot a pair of suede fuschia-coloured 'flats'.

I happened to fall in love.

They happened to fit beautifully.

Cinderella - you shall go to the ball.

They are called LATOYA.

LATOYA and I are going to be very happy together.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Rambling on . . . why is nothing ever simple . . .

For two years I have been patiently waiting for a new freezer – the seals had gone on the old one – it was like Antarctica inside.  But could we find a new freezer with the same dimensions to fit neatly into its allotted space.  No we couldn’t.    This is where it gets complicated.  The cupboard above it had to be lifted.  The work-surface at the side had to be shortened, the side panel removed and new edging applied.  All this revealed  spaces on the walls that needed re-painting.  And I checked with the Council and they want to charge £30 to take the old freezer away (it used to be a free service).  The final insult.  Oh and I forgot to mention that whilst I was stepping down from the work-surface (in order to reach the top of the cupboard) the stool that I was gingerly stepping on to, toppled over, and I went crashing to the ground, slamming my back against the cupboard on the opposite wall.  I now have a beautiful knob-shaped bruise on my rib cage which hurts when I try to lay on my back in bed.   I despair sometimes.

So now the whole kitchen is to be re-painted.  One job just leads on to another.  Major disruption.  The kitchen emptied.  The living room floor littered with all sorts of kitchen paraphenalia during the re-decorating process.  My worst nightmare – clutter everywhere. 

kitchen clutter in the living room

I shall be assessing every piece before it goes back into the kitchen – do I really need all those enamel coffee pots I have collected over the years or the china cup collection or all the paintings of hens on the walls. 

Maybe I’ll just keep this pale blue one – my favourite

Serious decisions will be made – a lot of stuff will hit the charity shops – serving dishes that are never used will go, glasses that have never seen a drink will be ditched.  My kitchen is small – I don’t have vast areas to display my wares.

And maybe this handmade tea set

I shall only keep those things that are used regularly or I can’t bear to be without – I shall be ruthless for the sake of my sanity.

And definitely this 50’s style measuring jug and bowls.

And my favourite striped mugs.

Oh dear – I’m going to have to have a re-think.  Making decisions has never been one of my strongest characteristics.

On the bright side – I am still picking sweet peas

And the sunsets have been spectacular

And I have been loving how the Phlox come into their own at dusk

So it’s not all been bad – and by the time I post next week everything will be back to normal (fingers crossed) and I will be enjoying my new bright kitchen again.

Have a good weekend – hope yours will be less stressful than mine.

Friday, 16 August 2013

fickle fruit trees . four favourite fotos . friday flowers .


I have several fruit trees dotted around the garden and at the plot – some have plenty of fruit on them, some are completely fruitless – unlike last year when I didn’t have any fruit at all due to the late frosts.  The Bramley and James Grieve are loaded but three other apple trees are bare including my huge Golden Delicious tree – I can never fathom out why this happens.

The same goes for the plum trees.  I have a big old Victoria plum at the plot which is dripping with fruit, but the one in the garden is empty.  I have Damsons this year but no Greengages. I find it all very strange, why can’t all the trees  just do what they are supposed to do.

Bramleys – I can taste the apple crumble already.

James Grieve - the smell of them is almost as good as the taste.  Unfortunately they don’t keep but all my neighbours will benefit as I put on my Lady Bountiful hat and deliver bags full to all and sundry – whether they want them or not – the rest will be put through the juicer or eaten straight from the tree.

Plenty of jam and plum chutney to be made with these Damsons.

Unknown variety – but the blackbirds seem to like eating them.


I am having a thing about brightly coloured flowers in the garden this year, these are some Pot Marigolds grown from seed that Flighty sent me – although they come in a range of oranges and yellows, my favourites are the really bright orange ones.  Then there are the gaudy lilies that I managed to save from last year.


And this Coleus – Flaming Mosaic, that I found wilting in the ‘reduced’ section at the garden centre.


Not something that I would normally go for – but I felt sorry for it.  It soon perked up after a good soaking.

The four favourite photos of the week include a Red Admiral Butterfly, a stunning sunset, something new and fishy hanging in the bathroom and Cream of Cucumber soup to use up some of the mountain of cucumbers I have this year.

And, finally the Friday flowers.


Just a few stems that bent or broke during a recent downpour – Coreopsis, Achillea, Zinnia and one Corn Marigold.

See you soon – have a lovely weekend.

Friday, 9 August 2013

a stately visit . friday flowers and four favourite photos of the week.


On Thursday afternoon I went with a couple of friends on a visit to Cottesbrooke Hall just over the border in Northamptonshire.  It is a very grand house built in 1702 in the Queen Anne style and reputed to be the inspiration for Jane Austens Mansfield Park. 


At the front of the house the Park style has long vistas and beautiful views, but  the surrounding gardens are  smaller and more intimate.  There was something indefinable about the crumbling brickwork and overgrown planting that I found really pleasing.  The gardens have been restored in the Italian Renaissance style, various garden designers have been called in and their work is stunning.


The kiss of the sun for pardon

The song of the sun for mirth

One is nearer God’s heart in a garden

Than anywhere else on earth



August isn’t really the best time to visit gardens, as everything is starting to go over, but there are still some interesting plants to be found.


These Monarda were stunning – and I have to say that this was a very bee-friendly garden, they were everywhere especially on the Erygium

SDC18363 SDC18366 One thing I have learned is to put your scent-leaf geranium in containers waist high then you can bury your nose in amongst them and get drunk on their gorgeous fragrance.



This border was filled with Cosmos, Nigella, plum coloured poppies and dahlias plus this lovely white flower with a blue centre (any ideas what is is – the name Spraxia comes to mind but I could just be making this up).


This is the cafe which used to be the old Laundry Room and this is the seating area outside where we had the obligatory pot of tea and a piece of cake.



The black pool which gives perfect reflections


A beautiful pergola covered in vines.



There was just something about Cottesbrooke that I couldn’t put my finger on, that made it really special.  The gardens weren’t over-gardened – the borders looking a bit scruffy and overgrown – but it had a lovely atmosphere – very regal and formal in some parts, but in others it was just like stepping back into the past.

On the way home we got lost as usual and found ourselves on a gated road where this herd of bullocks were taking shelter in the shade of a tree, all except one who was obviously being ostracized for some reason.


Then we passed a flock of young pheasant who scuttled off pretty sharpish at our approach.


We eventually found the right road and headed for home, or at least we thought we were until we came across a huge tailback of traffic caused by an accident, so we had to turn round and take a detour and home seemed even further away.  Panic was setting in and deep-breathing was required – who said women were useless at map-reading!  Whoever they were, they were right.

These are my four favourite photos from the week – synchronised swimming cygnets at Wistow Park,  so many Peacock Butterflies on the Buddleia, the view across the Mowsley Hills towards the village of Saddington and a baby Sparrow on the fence (the garden is swamped with them at the moment).


And, finally, the Friday flowers – mostly Cosmos and Sweet Peas – but I am picking Zinnia from the cutting patch which certainly brighten up my day.


Hope this post has brightened up your day too – have a good weekend.

Friday, 2 August 2013

rural rides – take a little trip with me


The nearest village to us is Laughton – a sleepy hamlet with  only a few cottages and a church.  The walls surrounding the church are made of wattle and daub and they have been thatched to protect against weather.  All the holes you can see are from Miner Bees. 


Even the old animal stabling is thatched.


From Laughton we cross the Gumley Hills where a farmer keeps a suckling herd of cows, which means the the cows are allowed to keep their calves to suckle rather than being separated after a few days.  They roam the hills, refuse to get off the road when you are trying to pass, and look lazily at you as if to say ‘I was here first – go round me.’



This little chap hasn’t long been born – you can still see his umbilical cord hanging below.

At Gumley Hall the old stable block, which I visited many years ago, housed the squire’s hunters.  I met Lancelot, the biggest horse I have ever seen – I felt dwarfed at the side of him.  Sadly the squire and his wife both committed suicide (not at the same time) and the inheritor sold off all the buildings to turn into homes, but the clock tower still stands.


The next stop is Theddingworth where the old railway station, which closed in the 60’s, is now a home – the station house, platform and signal box have all been preserved.


The area all around is mainly used for sheep grazing – I passed this little lot sleeping in the shade – but was amazed at the number of crows gathered in the field – just in case you didn’t know – it is known as a ‘murder’ of crows.


The canal at Theddingworth is a favourite walk – usually quiet and peaceful, although at this time of year there is a lot of holiday traffic on the waterways.


And just by one of the bridges I spotted a gathering of butterflies – the collective name, well, there are a few actually – a lek, swarm, rabble, flight, kaleidoscope and my favourite – a flutter.


Not sure what they were doing – perhaps they had just met up for a natter.


The homeward journey, down a shady lane out into the sunlight and back to my garden.


Where the ‘hot’ border is filling out nicely with zingy colours, waiting for the Rudbeckia to unfurl its petals


I hope you have enjoyed the tour of my little part of the countryside – it is a glorious day today with a cooling breeze and bright sunshine – all’s well with the world.

Have a good weekend.