Saturday, 30 March 2013

a grey day in Oxford.

On Good Friday we went to Oxford hoping to spend a pleasant spring day wandering around the city. The weather had other ideas however, it was a very cold breezy day so we spent most of the time inside.

The first thing we did was visit the covered market where we had a warming hot chocolate at the cafe at Chocology.

From there we went to the Ashmolean museum. My favourite gallery this time was the exhibition of Chinese landscape paintings (more pictures here).

We had brought our lunch with us and under grey skies with a stiff breeze I think we ate our quickest picnic ever! It definitely wasn't the weather to linger so we made for home.

Since my few photographs of the day are dull and grey, I'm posting this plate from the Islamic gallery in the museum - the brightest flowers I saw on Friday were on this wonderful plate and in the florists stalls in the covered market.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

spring snow

It was my birthday yesterday and I woke up to snow. As far as I remember it hasn't ever snowed on my birthday (and I have had quite a few birthdays!), this cold winter seems to be continuing well into spring. Luckily for us this was almost as much as we got, I know that people further north are suffering very heavy snow falls and lack of power.

We delayed travelling to pick up youngest son from university because it was snowing quite heavily first thing in the morning and there were lane closures due to snow on our route. By late morning road conditions had improved and we were able to make the trip so I got to have a birthday meal with all my family after all.

Today there is only a little snow left in the garden but the forecast is for low temperatures all week. British summer time starts next weekend, hopefully the weather will be a bit warmer by then.

Friday, 22 March 2013

back home

I am back at home now after a few days in Devon visiting my parents. There were a couple of days of spring-like weather and we drove the few miles to the coast for a short walk.

It was lovely to see them and they both seem to be reasonably well for their age but I notice now that they seem to age visibly between visits. As they get older they worry more about things that they would have coped easily with a few years ago and as always I wish I lived nearer so that I could see them for a few hours regularly rather than making longer visits less frequently.

On a happier note, spring seems to be two to three weeks further along in Devon compared to here and I saw celandines and primroses blooming in the banks at the base of the hedges. These crocus planted on a village green were very cheerful.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

A day in my life

Wednesday 13th February

Today is the third of my "day in my life" posts this year and once again it is a Wednesday which is a day I am at home.
First thing this morning I drove my husband to the station for the 6:45am train and then continued on to drop my eldest son at work for 7:00am. I came home for breakfast and coffee followed by some time reading blogs on the computer and catching up with some paperwork.

The bunch of flowers on my desk was a bargain from the supermarket, a leftover from Mother's Day I think, it was wrapped in lovely pink spotted paper and was reduced from £8:00 down to £1:09. I didn't get any flowers on Mother's Day and at that price I could justify treating myself.

Next I rushed around sorting out washing and cleaning the house to make time for a brief garden visit. This was the first day the gardens at West Green House were open this season. I only discovered this garden at the end of last summer but as it is only a short drive away and National Trust members get in free I think I will try to visit a few times over this year.

It has been cold lately and there wasn't much colour but I quite liked seeing the structure of the garden without all the foliage.

It was all pruned very neatly.

Clipped box always looks good whether it is immaculate hedges or a slightly quirky chicken.

There were some early daffodils with many more to come

but the real stars today were the hellebores.

I also spotted this unusual snowdrop with a yellow spot on each petal.

Back at home there was ironing, I picked up eldest son from work, more tidying and a little bit of knitting. No photograph of the knitting because it doesn't really look much different from the last post.

Dinner was beef cheese crumble with jacket potatoes and vegetables for the carnivores and black beans and millet with vegetables for me. I cooked a large batch of millet which will form the basis of my packed lunches for the rest of the week.

In the evening, phone calls with youngest son and with my parents and a bit more knitting.

Sunday, 10 March 2013


Firstly, the naturally coloured Shetland wool I am currently knitting. This is the garter stitch edging for The Rams and Yowes blanket. There are over 800 stitches in each round and I thought I might find this part of the project boring but I don't. It is gentle meditative knitting, one row of knit, one row of purl and a slight change of colour every four rows to give this lovely graduated effect. The colour change is on the purl rows which softens the change, the underside looks more striped.

The natural shades of Shetland wool have such wonderful names.

Another Shetland, today is the first part of the TV drama of the same name which will be screened tonight (BBC) at 9pm. "Shetland" is based on the novel Red Bones by Anne Cleeves which I have read. I don't think the TV follows the book exactly but I am looking forward to it. Also making an appearance in the program is some knitting by Kate Davis so it is appropriate that I shall be watching while knitting round and round the edge of my Kate Davis designed blanket.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

a spring garden

At last some bright spring sunshine, a perfect day for the first garden visit of the year. This is the garden at Englefield. It is my favourite garden and I have been coming here for over twenty years, it is a beautiful peaceful place.

I wandered around with my camera

 noticing the colours and

the wonderful fragrance that filled the air.

There is a little warmth in the sun now, a pleasant change after the cold grey days.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

a glimpse of the sea

On Sunday we were visiting family who live just a few miles from the south coast. I felt it would be a shame to drive all that way and not see the sea so we left early in the morning and spent a couple of hours in Boscombe, Dorset.

We arrived shortly after 8am and the temperature was around freezing so I suppose it wasn't surprising that the beach was empty. This stretch of beach would be absolutely packed on a warm sunny day in summer.

We went for a brisk walk and along the promenade and then down on to the beach.

The last time I saw the sea and stood on the beach was in November when we were on holiday in Shetland. From one end of the country to the other and the Shetland beaches couldn't be more different from the commercialised coastline near Bournemouth. I prefer the wild unspoilt beaches but it was good to be by the sea.

We walked out along the empty pier

and then up to the cliff top gardens where we were a little sheltered from the cold wind.

Next we went to the town centre for breakfast at a lovely warm cafe. I had coffee and a vegan breakfast which was really good and my husband opted for blueberry pancakes and hot chocolate. It was just what we needed to warm up before we continued with the rest of our day.

It was well worth the early morning start, we felt as if we had squeezed a little two hour mini holiday into our Sunday.