Sunday, 27 April 2008

Coastal walks

Nowhere in the UK is that far from the coast but we are over an hour away and don't tend to go that often. We had a short trip to South Wales at the end of the holiday and instead of heading to the mountains we explored the coast.

The weather wasn't ideal for the seaside but the scenery made up for it. This is Rossili bay at the tip of the Gower peninsular and below is Worms Head,an island ( I didn't study geography at school but I am informed that it is a wave cut platform) that can be reached at low tide.

It was a bit of a scramble to get across with pretty rock pools to look at and masses and masses of mussels.

It was very bleak and windy when we got there so we didn't linger. The wild flowers don't seem to mind the harsh conditions. The yellow flowers are kidney vetch and the blue ones Spring Squill.

I always think of scenery like this when I think of the coast but of course a lot of the coastline is built up and industrialised. The following day we visited Cardiff where the waterfront area is still being developed from a working docks to a leisure area.

It was a very grey day but the waterfront was a lovely place to wander around. Cardiff is the home of Dr Who and Torchwood and we did visit the exhibition but were not particularly impressed. For any fans of Torchwood, the headquarters are supposed to be underground in the vicinity of the water tower!

Next stop Penarth and a walk along the pier.

I like piers, being able to walk above the waves although unfortunately it was low tide when we were there. This one is just over a hundred years old. The Victorians seem to be very good at pier building, the railings still look good.

I hope some of the new buildings we saw in Cardiff Bay will last as long as this lovely old pier.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Minature Earth

I found this link today. Minature earth looks at different statistics as if the world was a village of 100 people. We all know how unequally wealth and resources are spread throughout the world, this short clip (just a few minutes) really brings the point home.

Friday, 18 April 2008

April gardening

I love this time in the gardening year when everything has started growing. These courgette seedlings are growing in the kitchen where I also have small tomato plants on the windows sill. These will move outside to my mini-greenhouse soon but I'm keeping them inside while we are still getting heavy frosts.

The little greenhouse has been useful for growing a few salad leaves during the winter.

On the lower shelf I now have some very young pepper plants and some broad beans. I have sown these few extra broad beans in pots after something (pigeons?) uprooted all the ones I sowed at the allotment a couple of months ago. I found the plants lying wilted on the surface, they would have been about two inches tall at this stage but didn't seem to have been eaten just pulled out of the soil and left. Perhaps I should net them next year. I will plant out these from the greenhouse soon and hope that they will fare a bit better.

The potatoes that I planted in pots are doing well. I planted these at the end of February. As they have grown I have been covering them with extra compost and now they and the compost have reached the top of the pots.

So all I have to do now is water them and wait (and stop the chickens digging them up first!).

The small plum tree I planted in the front garden last autumn has been in blossom so it looks like I will get a little fruit in its first year.

No pictures of the allotment this time. It is quite an exposed site and things have been slow to start this year. I'm sure once the weather warms up everything, including the weeds will be growing quickly.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

A day in my life

This month I have decided to join in Jenny's " a day in my life" project.

I like the idea of recording just a snapshot of daily life at intervals ( the 14th of each month) throughout the year. This is a year of changes for us with children of 16 and 18 both doing exams and both having to make decisions about what to do next, so their days and so possibly mine as well will change over the coming months. This exercise is a way for me to remember the details of our lives.

Monday 14th April.

The 14th this month fell right in the middle of the spring school holidays. So far we have stayed at home to allow plenty of time for revision and for rest and relaxation.

The alarm is set for 6:15am and while my husband had to get up I gave myself a half hour lie in. No rush as there is only one packed lunch to make in the holidays. Yesterday my husband left for the train and then returned ten minutes later because it left early and he missed it! Time for us to have a coffee together for twenty minutes before he left for the next one.

After he had left I started pottering around the house. Monday is sheet change day in our house. As I dry all the washing outside I don't always wash them on Mondays, they may have to wait for a fine day but they still get changed. I am fussy about making the bed and keeping our bedroom tidy even when the rest of the house is messy and disorganised, just to keep one area of the house calm.

Yesterday was bright and sunny so lots of washing was done. I started making the bread, mixing the dough and then leaving it to rise on a sunny windowsill.

Next washing up the mugs from the previous evening and our breakfast things and then cleaning the bathroom.

Around this time first one teenager and then another emerged from their bedrooms and started making large mugs of tea. I stopped my jobs, picked up my knitting and spent half-an -hour chatting and drinking tea with them.

I let the chickens out of their run into the garden and collected the eggs - two today.

More general tidying, hanging washing out and finishing the bread until lunchtime when the bread rolls were ready to have with soup and/or cheese.

After lunch we decided to go to town to look around the charity shops. The boys were after bargain books, DVDs or videos. There were no bargains to be had this time so we came away empty handed. As it was such a nice day we went for a short walk along the canal on the way back to the car. We combined the trip with a quick shop in Waitrose to justify the almost 30 mile round trip and also because I feel guilty about using their free car park unless I buy something!

Back at home tea was chicken (left over from Saturday's meal) in a cheesy white sauce with carrots and purple sprouting followed by blackberry and apple crumble and ice-cream. The boys have enormous appetites and ate their way through several bread rolls as well. Of the 16 bread rolls made this morning (2lbs of flour) 14 were eaten throughout the day!

After clearing up after the meal I did some ironing.

This was followed by some knitting and then the computer was free and I started to write this post but was too tired to finish and went to bed.
So, a fairly typical school holiday day, keeping up with the housework and cooking and having time to spend with the boys.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Finished knitting

Its taken a while but I've now finished my lightweight cardigan.

I used Corriedale pencil roving from Crown Mountain Farms,

spun and plied it,

and knitted it on 2.75mm needles (my excuse for it taking so long).

I found some buttons that picked up the colours perfectly

and eventually, it was done.

The photograph seems to accentuate the differences in colour, the overall effect is more blended and less stripey in real life.
Now, the best bit - deciding what knit do next!

Monday, 7 April 2008

April snow

The weather forecasters did predict snow but after the recent warm spring days it didn't seem very likely. They were right - after a really bright sunny Saturday, we woke up on Sunday morning to find the garden looking like this.

Knowing that it wouldn't stay around long so late in the year we decided to go straight out and enjoy it. It had stopped snowing and there was no wind so everything was very quiet and still.

It was very beautiful in the woods. In one of my favourite blogs, elderwoman wrote this post about the importance of woodlands and quoted the statistic that at least 80% of the population in the UK do not live within walking distance of a wood. Walking through the snow yesterday, I realised how lucky we are to have these woods just a short walk from home.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Spring sunshine

Today was the last day of term and we have now started the spring break.

The schools finished early so it was a half-day for me and the boys. It was perfect spring weather, warm and sunny. Wet and possibly snowy weather is forecast so I made sure to make the most of the afternoon.

Firstly, lots of washing to peg out on the line,

Then up to the allotment where I picked rhubarb, lambs lettuce, spinach beet and then dug up a few of the remaining leeks.

Back home for a cup of tea and time to take a few photographs of the fresh new green growth in the garden.

Altogether, a very productive afternoon and a good start to the holidays.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Waking up

Everywhere I look in the countryside it seems as if the world is waking up after snoozing through the winter. As well as lots of spring bulbs, the hedges are starting to green up and the trees to come into leaf. The early blossom has arrived (the photo is of blackthorn taken on Sunday) and the fruit trees will soon follow. On Sunday I saw the first butterfly of the summer, a yellow brimstone and the birds are all singing their hearts out.

Back in October I wrote that I felt that as all the animals and plants slowed down for the winter perhaps humans should follow suit. Back then I certainly felt like a spell of hibernation. Now that the days are lighter and brighter I feel ready to wake up again! I know I am not the only one who feels as if I have much more energy now than in the darker months and once again I wonder if we should follow the example of the wild birds and animals (and my chickens!) and sleep less and be more active in the summer and then slow down for the winter months.

I go to a yoga class once a week and we are often told to "listen to our bodies and to do as much or as little as feels right for each of us on that particular day". This seems to be very sensible advice as from day to day our energy levels and our motivation to achieve varies greatly. Our modern time-tabled, over scheduled lifestyles don't really allow us to "listen to how we feel" and work, play or rest at times that would be optimum for us.

Maybe in the future as we run out of fossil fuels and can no longer afford to run a 24 hour society throughout the year, we will once again return to a lifestyle that is more in tune with the passing of the seasons.

As for me now, I will take advantage of my raised energy levels to continue planting at the allotment and then maybe some spring cleaning!