Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Season's Greetings

Outside the temperature has risen to just above freezing and the melting snow on my neighbours roof has slowly dripped down creating these very Christmassy icicles on the holly bush.

Inside I have holly and ivy decorating all the picture frames and at last we have the tree. Its a very tiny tree from the village shop since the weather prevented us from venturing out to the Christmas tree farm.

It was the winter solstice yesterday and I like to follow the tradition of having lots of evergreens in the house.

Now the grocery shopping is done and the house decorated we are all ready for Christmas.

Season's Greetings to everyone, have a really lovely holiday time.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Snowed in

It was bound to happen really, we have missed out on the snow so far this winter but on Saturday it snowed.

A pity that it was the day I was picking up eldest son from university. It was just starting to snow very gently as we loaded the car with blankets and thermos just in case things turned nasty. They did, at just the moment I set off. The snow fell so fast and froze on the windscreen and that together with the freezing fog soon led to the decision to turn back.

Thank goodness for trains, there were delays but they were running.

The student is home. He repacked, bringing home just the minimum. Then walk, train, tube, train, train and he was here. His brother walked down to meet him with an empty rucksack so that they could share the load on the walk up the hill from station to home.

These photographs were taken on the walk down to the station to meet him. Once I knew he was back safely I could begin to appreciate how pretty everything looked.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Starting to decorate

We won't be choosing the tree until eldest son is back from university at the weekend but the wreath is on the front door and the holly tree in the garden is covered in berries this year.

I picked this a little early before the birds could eat all the berries. They won't go hungry though, there were still plenty of berries left on the branches that I couldn't reach.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010



We have been lucky to escape the snow here again but it is very cold and foggy and the hedges this morning were covered in ice crystals.

Very pretty,

nature's seasonal decorations.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Blue skies and sunshine

Its been so grey here lately that the  single day of sunshine we had yesterday seems to warrant a post.

The sun shone on the few remaining leaves, picking out a wide range of colours that I just don't seem to have been noticing during the grey days.

It continued to shine all day and I ventured out again, this time to walk around a still frozen lake. It was mid- afternoon and the sun was setting. The reeds and lakeside trees glowed in its light.

It was very cold but calm and still and we stayed until the sun finally disappeared.

We are back to freezing fog and greyness today but even one day of sunshine helps to dispel the winter blues.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Cold and quiet

From the television news I learn that nearly the whole of Britain from Cornwall to the Northern Isles is covered in a blanket of snow. Here in the south we have the frosts and the cold temperatures but no snow.

Monday was very calm, not even the slightest breeze and the winter trees were perfectly reflected in the mirror like river Thames. So still and quiet it seemed as if the earth was sleeping through the winter day.

It has been quiet on this blog recently as well. Life is busy with many things occupying my mind and I don't seem to find the words for a blog post. Like the river I need time to be still and reflective.

My camera is always with me though, and so for a while there may be more pictures than words in this space.

Hope everybody is keeping safe and warm.

Friday, 19 November 2010

the last of the leaves

With frost, wind and rain the leaves are fast leaving the trees. I took a few pictures of the last of the autumn colour, shades of brown, gold and yellow.

Crisp, dry bracken

pale bleached grasses

the acid yellow of silver birch

and my favourite, the sun shining through translucent beech leaves.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Half-term catching up

Half-term this week and last weekend I was in Devon visiting my parents. Two of the three days I spent with them were filled with glorious sunny weather. We walked at Exmouth and I was able to walk further than I have in months, over two miles.  I was very pleased although I think my parents, in their late seventies, were slowing down to make it easier for me!  Never mind, it has lifted my spirits to realise that although its taking longer than my impatient self would like, I am recovering.

As always I come home wishing that I did not live so far away. My parents are in good health and very active at the moment but if that was to change, it would be easier if I were nearer. Coming home in rainy conditions and encountering traffic problems, the journey was a tiring four and a half hours - not the sort of distance where I could just drop in to see that they are ok.

Next weekend I am travelling in the other direction visiting eldest son at university. I have booked cheap hotel rooms and I am treating him to a night away. The one thing he seems to be looking forward to is being able to have a soak in a pristine clean bath! This year he is sharing a house with four other lads, cleaning isn't top of their priority list!

Tuesday, 19 October 2010


The green tomato chutney is now made and the jars are waiting in the cool of the garage for a couple of months for the flavours to mellow, though I'm already looking forward to eating some.

In my preserving year, bottling rhubarb is always the first task and making chutney is the last. Next year will be different as I think I will be giving up my allotment. It is a hard decision to make after having it for 14 years but I haven't been able to do much over the last few months and although I hope to be recovered soon I don't want to risk hurting myself again next year. I will miss the rhubarb, and the soft fruit most.

I have a smallish garden and won't be able to grow many vegetables but I do have an apple tree and can grow tomatoes in pots on the patio so even without the allotment I will be able to preserve some home-grown food, as chutney.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

spider webs

There are some perfect spider webs in the garden, beautifully jewelled in the early mornings.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Finished knitting

I've just finished this little shawl/scarf, les Abeilles, from Anne Hanson at Knitspot. This is a lovely pattern in three sizes, this is the smallest. I knitted it in double knitting baby alpaca and it is very soft and cosy.

Its sometimes difficult to know how to photograph a shawl so here it is being modelled by a clipped shrub in the garden!

A little look at the detail of the pattern.

We've been having unseasonably warm weather here but I know soon that this will be just what I need for chilly mornings.

Monday, 4 October 2010

October Tomatoes

After getting off to a slow start my tomatoes have been very prolific over the past weeks. Yesterday I picked five pounds which at the moment are in the oven with olive oil, onion and black pepper, slowly reducing down to a delicious tomato sauce.
I think these may be the last of the tomatoes to ripen in the garden, it is October after all, but there will still be a few green ones left to make some chutney. Time to preserve a little bit of late summer goodness before the cold weather starts.

Thursday, 23 September 2010


The autumnal equinox occurred this morning at 4.09am. Day and night are of equal length today, the first day of autumn.  From now on the days are shorter than the nights as the year moves through autumn towards winter.

Autumn is a time of endings, the end of summer and warm weather, the end of the growing season for many plants as they produce seeds and berries before settling down to the relative dormancy of winter. However, perhaps because the new school year begins at the end of summer, it also feels like a time of beginnings, a time for new crisp exercise books and freshly sharpened pencils.

I will be taking eldest son back to university on Saturday to start his second year. The end of the long summer break and the start of a new term.

Endings and beginnings, the berries in the hedgerows marking the end of one season but the seeds inside those berries containing all the information needed to start a new plant next year. The end of a summer of long days and the start of a winter of short daylight and longer darkness.

The equinox, a moment of balance between day and night, between summer and winter, and now the cycle of the year continues.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010


A last family day trip this summer before the start of the university term. We took the train to Bath and had a gentle meander around the centre of the city.

Bath is such an elegant place and there is something to photograph round every corner. The bridge is Pultney Bridge with its little shops lining each side.

It is such a lovely place to visit. Apart from when I was at university and for a few years afterwards, I've always lived in the country but as I wandered round the streets of Bath I wondered what it would be like to live in a city.

There would be plenty of interesting streets to explore

and flowers to admire in the immaculate parks.

For the moment I'm quite happy to live in the country but sometimes when visiting a different place its fun to imagine what it would be like to live there.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Plums and tomatoes

I haven't been able to do much gardening this summer but I still have something to harvest. At the moment it is plums and tomatoes.

Four years ago I planted a small plum tree "Marjorie's Seedling" in the front garden. I have picked a few plums each year but this year the tree was very productive and I harvested almost 10 pounds of fruit. These have a lovely flavour fresh or stewed. Plums are now thought to be a "superfood" so as well as tasting good they have health benefits too.

My tomatoes have suffered from blossom end rot this year and many of the fruits have been affected but some plants have yielded perfect fruits. I have nine plants in pots on the patio. They get only a few hours sun a day and so ripen fairly late in the summer but in the last week many have ripened. As well as enjoying them raw I have made a tomato "sauce" in the oven.

I mixed chopped tomatoes and shallots with olive oil and black pepper and then baked the mixture in a medium oven for about an hour. Cooking tomatoes increases the bioavailability of some of the nutrients so this simple pasta sauce tastes good and has health benefits

I have been getting a bit grumpy about not being able to garden this summer, I am still very stiff and unable to bend enough to reach the soil, but this harvest from the garden has made me feel a lot better

Monday, 6 September 2010

Holiday photographs

It is raining this evening and feeling distinctly autumnal, yet it was only just over a week ago we were spending sunny days on the beach.

This was my first time to the Northumbrian coast and it really was beautiful.

We had a very gentle sort of holiday, strolling, taking photographs, noticing the details

and making the most of the sunshine.

The beaches were lovely,

vast swathes of sand

and endless sea and sky.

Calm, subdued colours by day

and then bright and golden in the evening.

A wonderful holiday.