Monday, 29 September 2008

Time on my own

Much as I like living in a busy lively household, I do enjoy time on my own. As I only work part time I am fortunate to be at home on my own for some of the week.

These past few months I have missed out on this. Firstly from mid-May there was exam leave for both boys immediately followed by the summer holidays. In September my youngest son returned to school but my eldest was still at home trying to find some work. Last week he managed to find some casual work in a local hotel and conference centre. Today he worked an early morning shift and after driving him to work I returned home just as my husband and youngest son were leaving the house. I spent the next seven hours all by myself. It was bliss, the first occasion I have had time to myself since May 14th!

Some people thrive on hustle and bustle but I find I need quiet time in between to recharge. I didn't do anything special today, washing, ironing, cleaning and as it was such a nice day some gardening but it was very pleasant not to have to work around other peoples timetables. It sounds very selfish doesn't it? but I did enjoy it.

Continuing on a quiet theme, yesterday was a beautiful calm sunny day. Determined to make the most of this unseasonable weather, we went for a walk by the canal. It was very peaceful and the water was very calm giving perfect reflections.

The trees are just starting to turn here.

Sunday, 21 September 2008

The first day of Autumn

Today is the first day of autumn but the weather this weekend has been warm and sunny, it seems we are finally getting a bit of summer weather. Yesterday we were out most of the day and spent quite a lot of time indoors but today we had nothing planned and I made sure I spent most of the time in the garden making the most of the unexpected sunshine.

My husband gave the chicken coop a thorough clean and tidy. He disinfected it and stood all the pieces in the sun to dry. The chickens were definitely a bit put out by the whole process.

Just a few things left in the garden to harvest, a few autumn raspberries

and some tomatoes. Everything is packed close together in our little garden and the tomatoes have grown into the grape vine. Despite all the wet weather, the grapes seem to be really small this year.

I picked most of the Bramley apples today. I needed the ladder to pick some of the higher ones and decided to prune the tree at the same time. I tried to make it into a nice symmetrical shape but it still is a very lopsided tree.

I think I might have been a bit late picking as the blackbirds had already sampled some apples. I sorted them into apples for storage and apples to cook straight away.

Unfortunately rather a lot fell into the cook straight away category. I brought my preserving pan into the garden and sat in the sun peeling and chopping a pan full of apple. We now have lots of stewed apple to eat this week and in the kitchen at the moment, three jars of apple are back in the pan and coming up to temperature.

So the first day of autumn was very pleasant and productive, though I wouldn't mind a break from peeling apples!

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

A day in my life

Sunday 14th September

Here is my rather belated post for last Sunday. I travelled to visit my parents for a couple of days on Sunday so it was a rather different day than usual.

My parents live almost exactly 150 miles away which I find is too long for a day trip. They used to come here regularly to stay for a few days but nowadays they worry about the journey so I mostly I visit them.

I woke at seven giving me plenty of time to catch the train at 8:20am. The journey (to Devon) was train, train, bus and all went smoothly. I enjoy train travel and had reserved a seat in the quiet carriage. I sat peacefully and knitted while watching the countryside pass by, without having to listen to any annoying mobile phone conversations!

I arrived in time for lunch and then in the afternoon we strolled around the town. I must have been talking too much because I only took one photograph, a view across the River Exe.

We went out for afternoon tea, a pot of tea with coffee and walnut cake. When I was a teenager living at home if we ever went out for coffee, mum always wanted to have some cake but didn't think that it was particularly healthy to eat a complete slice, so while my father and brother had a slice each, mum and I always shared one between us. It made me smile that now, some thirty years later, my father ordered two slices of cake, one for him and one for me and mum to share! Her careful eating has obviously paid off because now in her mid seventies, she is a very trim size 10.

In the evening we sat and chatted while I knitted. I had taken some sock knitting as it was easy to take on the train. My parents can't really understand why I would want to knit socks. Both of their mothers knitted socks out of necessity, to save money or because the quality was better than bought but now that socks are easily and cheaply available why anyone would ever choose to knit them? Isn't it interesting how your upbringing affects your views for years and years.

So that was my day, a peaceful time catching up on news and chatting about the family. As always I wish I lived near enough that I could make short day visits more often rather than going to stay only every few months.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

A day in my life

I will be joining in with a day in my life again this month but am going away tomorrow for a couple of days so although I'll be posting about the 14th it won't appear until later in the week.

Back in a few days.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

A local walk

These are a few more photographs of the countryside near home. These were taken about ten miles away. Last weekend my eldest son and I walked along a stretch of the Wayfarers walk. The entire walk from Emsworth in Hampshire to Inkpen in Berkshire is 71 miles but we only walked the last twelve miles!

This part of the path passes over some of the highest points in Berkshire (which isn't very high at all, its quite flat around here) and it is very open countryside giving lovely views.

We passed a pig farm. There used to be quite a few pigs around here including some in our village but pig farmers are unable to compete against cheaper meat imports and are going out of business so we don't see pigs very often now.

There were many fields of wheat still not harvested. The summer has been so wet that the grain is too damp to harvest. Some of the fields were very battered down by the recent wind and rain and I wonder if it will be possible to cut much of the remaining crops at all.

Humans have been making their mark on the landscape around here for thousands of years. The photo above shows Bronze Age barrows close by to a very busy dual carriage way. The traffic noise was very loud while I was taking this picture, making it very difficult to imagine how quiet the same place must have been during the Bronze Age.

There were peaceful parts to the walk as well like this beech wood, which sheltered us from some of the wind and rain. The weather did clear during the day and in this picture taken near the end of the walk it almost looks like summer!

Sunday, 7 September 2008

TV free September

We decided that we would have a month without the television. I watch little TV and would quite happily be without it but my husband and sons do not share this view.

By the end of the summer holidays I was fed up with the television being switched on for large parts of the day so I suggested we had a TV free month to compensate for the amount watched during the past few weeks. To my surprise everyone agreed so last Monday, 1st September, the television (we only have one) was removed from the living room.

We are now one week into our month and so far it has gone very well. We had decided that we could watch a few programmes on-line if we wanted and we have watched a couple but probably less than two hours in total for all four of us. Two hours television in a week is a lot less than our usual viewing.

What have we been doing instead? We've played cards and scrabble, the boys have read for hours and we've probably sat chatting more than usual. So the first week has gone very well but we'll see what happens next week when the novelty has worn off.

I may be posting less during this month. I do most of my blog reading and posting when the rest of the family are watching television and now they are not doing that I am spending more time in the living room with them and less time up here in the spare room on the computer.

It will be interesting to see how the next three weeks go and how we feel about the television at the end of the month.

Thursday, 4 September 2008


I like to tidy up the garden at this time of year, clearing away all the debris that seems to drift into forgotten corners. However, I was reminded that a few areas of untidiness can be a good idea when I spotted this lizard looking at me through the slats of my much broken compost bin at the allotment. If I had a very clean plastic compost bin I might of missed this.

After a while a second lizard apeared but only one was keen to be photographed. Perhaps because the weather was quite cool this one stayed still and didn't seem to worry that I came quite near. Lizards usually dart quickly out of sight but I watched these for several minutes. I hadn't realised that lizards have such perfect little hands.

I will not be tidying up this bin too much now that I know that it is home to these little creatures. I might not worry so much about tidying up the garden either, after all its not really a mess, its a wildlife habitat!