Monday 30 April 2007

If you go down to the woods today ...

... this is what you'd find. We went on our annual visit to the very aptly named Heaven Farm to look at the bluebells. And bluebells there were aplenty. Heaven Farm is such a very special place in one of my favourite parts of East Sussex, just past Sheffield Park and the Bluebell Railway.

Everything about this place is magical, it reminds me of the film "Fairy Tale" based on the story of the Cottingley Fairy photographs. Such beautiful scenery and, yes, we think we have seen the odd fairy flying around amongst the bluebells over the years.

Wherever you turn there was this blanket of blue offset by the purest of greens and shards of sunlight filtering through the trees. Not just a feast for the eyes either, the scent was heavenly and wherever you went you were accompanied by the sound of birdsong (I heard my first woodpecker!) and the occasional sound of the steam trains over on the Bluebell Railway - it is the perfect place to lose yourself in your thoughts, a bit of a sensory overload!

Back at home, the garden is really coming on leaps and bounds. On Thursday the first buds of Apple Blossom were opening (the tree thankfully having survived the rather radical haircut I'd given it a few months back). But by yesterday morning the whole tree was covered in blossom and if you're looking for fairies there must be the odd Apple Blossom Fairy hiding in those branches!

The bluebells are still blooming and are happily dotted around the front and back gardens. The sticks are in waiting for the sweet peas to be planted, and, if you look very carefully, you can see the snails on the sticks waiting for the sweet peas! Oh well you can't have it all...

Friday 27 April 2007

A Touch of Pink

Just time to squeeze in a bit of pink before the weekend! I've not been up to much craft wise this week as I've been busy helping at school making giant papier mache models for the children's parade that opens Brighton Festival next weekend - all very exciting! The festival really is one of the highlights of the year in Brighton - street festival, theatre, dance, music, literature and lots of art. Will write more about it next week.

I have managed to find time to make some more corsages, you can see them better here (Yippee I think I've done my first link and I know a certain teenager who's going to be very proud of me!).

The garden is beginning to really bloom and I'm so excited and pleased to see my first peony flower. Apart from being pink (which always gains bonus points in my book) this plant was taken from our close friends' garden last year. They had to move house unexpectedly and leave their beautiful garden behind, so for this flower to have survived its move and bloom has added to its beauty for me! Plants given to you by friends always have so much more meaning. A gorgeous plant from very special people.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday 25 April 2007

Handbags and gladrags

My teenage daughter is going to a party on Saturday - a big, quite formal, celebratory party full of teenage girls - and don't we know it! For weeks we've had blow by blow accounts of what's going to happen, who's going to wear what and more importantly "PLEASE can I have a new dress?' The answer of course was yes and preparations have begun ...
A few weeks ago I went to listen to my daughter and her friends sing at a concert at her school. A friend, who has a teenage son,was sitting nearby, turned and said to me "It must be so hard being the mother of a teenage girl" and I knew exactly what she meant. She didn't mean you're going to have lots of problems or have you heard all those horror stories - no, what she meant as we sat there looking at all those beautiful, confident and poised girls was - doesn't it make you feel old! And it does!
My daughter is now 4 inches taller than me and stands up so straight. She can kick her leg up above her shoulders and not wince just for starters. When she has friends around I am amazed at how beautiful and confident they all are. It's wonderful watching them, listening to them, looking at the things they've bought in town, discussing in the minutest detail a new pair of earrings or shade of eyeshadow.

But would I want to swap places with them. NO! For every ten minutes of hysterics, there's half an hour of crying. For every smile, there's always a scowl not far behind! Would I swap my lowly position in the pecking order for the phone, computer and TV in return for the piles of homework, dire projects and months of essays and revision ahead of her? Not to mention the boys - we're all in denial about the boys ... Not having to go through it all again myself means that you can see the funny side of it, however infuriating this may be for my daughter. I can stand back and watch it in all its longlegged gorgeousness!

So the dress has been bought - apple green sixties style (she calls it her Samantha from Bewitched dress) to be worn with bright red shoes and bag and my vintage jacket (I do still have my uses) - make up, hair and jewellery yet to be decided. Of course things could all change tomorrow and a whole new outift devised - 48 hours is a long time...

Sunday 22 April 2007

The Birds

The figs on our tree are appearing early again this year. Last year when this happened we looked forward to our first fig harvest, hunting out recipes for fig tart before the summer had even begun. Then, suddenly the figs disappeared and it took us a while to work out why. The bluetits had come to play in our garden and particularly liked the fig tree and we particularly liked the bluetits so we didn't mind them staying - what we didn't realise was that the bluetits particularly liked the figs too! Bizarrely both the bluetits and the figs left our garden - thanks to the SEAGULLS!
One hot day after school we decided to have a picnic in the garden and no sooner had we started to eat when a seagull divebombed my daughter skimming the top of her head! Just as we sat up to run indoors it did the same to me. It seemed that the seagulls had nested on our roof and we had chosen the day that the eggs had hatched to picnic! My husband,(assuming some kind of Dr Dolittle stance), tried to calmly talk them into submission but to no avail and we realised our garden was no longer ours.
The local council advised me to wear a helmet in the garden, waving a stick above my head to ward off any attacks. And so for 2 months I hung out the washing wearing my daughter's Barbie helmet (I'm not joking) carrying a rather pretty orange floral umbrella in the air! By this time one of our cats had left home (not to return until the end of the summer when the seagulls had moved on) and my daughter refused to go outside to play!

We had promised her an outdoor Birthday party in July as this was our first Summer here but it really was too risky having 20 screaming kids and 2 ferocious seagulls in the garden at the same time. Fortunately she is Narnia mad so we hastily erected an enormous old Scout tent that a friend had at the far end of the garden, put up a gazebo and various parasols and decked the whole lot in red and yellow bunting - Aslan's camp! The kids were herded from one awning to another and for once the seagulls were too perplexed to bother!
Not wanting to go through another summer like that we've just had a net put over the flat roof on part of our house and the neighbour has had his chimney stack spiked to prevent a new nest being built. The seagulls have returned and are busy doing what the birds and bees do at this time of the year but have yet (hopefully) to find a spot to nest on our roof!

Unwilling to upset anything else we have decided not to cover the fig tree in some kind of giant hair net and deprive the bluetits of their figgy banquet. This way we can enjoy the birds, they can enjoy the garden and fingers crossed for a second harvest!

Wednesday 18 April 2007

Cosies, posies, poppies and cats

My daughters are back at school. That first day back is hard for everyone - I remember that back to school feeling so well, especially hard after such a good holiday. I love the laziness and spontaneity that school holidays bring and I am lucky that I get to spend so much time with them.
Being outside and enjoying this wonderful weather with them was great and I also found that this sudden onset of new Spring life had inspired me so much that at times I kept seeing ideas for new tea cosies and corsages everywhere! I spent yesterday morning in the garden cutting up fabric and looking at the colours in the garden at the moment. Things are definitely changing and the colours are becoming more strident - our first poppy of the year has opened and look at that orange, isn't it marvellous!?

Right next to the poppy are these gorgeous purple stocks that our cat is posing beside - some time in the future I would love to make something with that purple and orange combination (not my usual choice but it has so much vitality and fun).

These white daisies (I can't remember the correct name for this plant) are really fun too.

The primroses are at their peak and I know they will probably start to fade over the next week or so. I decided to make something that captured a little of my spring garden and so spurred on by the peace and quiet and Radio 4 (yes, being alone again does have its perks) I made this little corsage ....

... and my Spring tea cosy (similar to the one I made last year with daffodils, but this time with daisies like the ones I have in my garden).
I will be putting both of them in my Etsy shop if anyone is interested.

Now can anyone tell me why cats are always ready to pose when a camera's around?

Saturday 14 April 2007

Icing the Cake

A friend came over the other day. She hadn't been to visit for over a year and it was good to see her and catch up with all the news. The last time she visited we had just moved house and things were beginning to take shape here, but the bathroom was still a mess and very much "an idea waiting to happen". As she was walking round she couldn't stop smiling and finally said "It's so pretty, you've got flowers everywhere - how do you get away with it?"
I hadn't realised just how feminine our home has become. My poor husband certainly is outnumbered - 2 daugthers (1 of them teenage, with all those hormones), even the cats are girls, and then there's me! As I've grown older I certainly feel the need to surround myself with all things pretty and never have any complaints from the females around here. Is it an indulgence, I don't know?
Over the years in various homes I guess there have been elements of prettiness, but it is now that I am spending so much time at home that I feel the need to be surrounded by things that make me smile. What is it - nostalgia, sentimentality, romance or just plain growing old!?
Anyway, the bathroom is one place where we were able to start again, In our old house we had an old freestanding Victorian
bath in the middle of the room - it was gorgeous. (We rescued it from a scrap metal merchants, back in the days when nobody wanted them). Having another one plumbed into this house was too expensive. We were on limited funds by the time we did the bathroom here. So we had to make do with what we had and, yes, pretty it up. The awful tiles we covered in tongue and groove and painted in a favourite colour - softest, bluey green and the walls we painted vanilla. We ripped up the carpet and painted the floorboards. An old shelf and brackets, a lovely old mirror and towel hooks, and then, the icing on the cake (my favourite bit) all the things that we had gathered around us from various places over the years. If you can't indulge in the bathroom, where can you? And yes, my husband does like it (I think!).

Tuesday 10 April 2007

I've got the blues (in the garden)

We were so lucky with the weather over the weekend. It felt more like Summer than Spring in Sussex. So we took full advantage of it and spent most of the time outside, enjoying walks, Easter Egg Hunts and being with friends. Picnics in April without being huddled up in blankets! We were also able to spend some time together in the garden, which was lovely.

I've just started to notice the change in colours appearing too. The soft lemons of spring are slowly being replaced by the brighter blues and although they're not fully in bloom they will soon be taking centre stage. The forget me nots are just starting to open and are a pinky blue at the moment and a scabious is being very brave and flowering very early.
These photos are from my front garden. It's great having flowers at the front as we only started to dig up this garden last year and everything seems to be thriving. We also planted lots of lavender here which we're all looking forward to in the summer, Last year the front garden was full of butterflies and bees enjoying all the lavender flowers and I made lots of lavender sachets for Christmas presents - even made lavender sugar as a gift, although not sure whether that will ever be used!

The bluebells are just beginning to show and in a few weeks we'll be able to go on some lovely walks in the bluebell woods. That blanket of blue against the green is one of my favourite sights! It is strange how flowers seems to bloom in waves of colour - even when I haven't planned the garden (and to be quite honest I'm not that good at forward thinking in the garden) there seems to be some kind of secret colour coding going on that I'm unaware of.

Changing the subject completely - spurred on by your comments from an earlier post, I have managed to open an Etsy shop (thanks to Tracy at Cupcakes for technical support and to lovely Samantha at Plump Pudding for her encouragement).I'm in the process of listing some things. I will be adding to them over the days. So if you fancy taking a peek the link is on the side.
Hope the weather continues and we get to see spend more time outside. Now I can't believe it, I've managed to write a post and not mention one pink flower ...

Friday 6 April 2007

Easter Roses

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday 4 April 2007

Bright 'n' breezy

Just one bad thing (and it is a very little thing) to say about all this sunshine - where did all this dust come from? Living in an old Victorian house is wonderful but it does have its drawbacks. I swear that it acts as some sort of dust magnet attracting dust from surrounding houses as well. This dust then somehow manages to overwinter in all the shadows and nooks and crannies until ... one day you open the bedroom curtains, the sun pours through and all is revealed!

First step was to take the rugs out into the garden for a good old airing. This rug is one I made a couple of years ago - I called it my "sweeties" rug, because the colours reminded me of boiled sweets , the kind I used to eat tons of when I was younger and I think are probably banned these days! Anyway out in the garden the rug stayed and I got to thinking how great it would be to have a flower bed with similar colours - probably dahlias would do it. The colours looked great against the green of the grass and the cats enjoyed spending the rest of the day lying on, having pulled it down to sunbathe on (You can see the cat in the corner eyeing it up as possible deckchair material).
The rug usually lives in our bedroom next to my side of the bed, nice and cosy ( and probably looks better on the white floorboards too).

After a very brief flirtation with some more housework, we went over to Rottingdean. Met some friends and had chips on the beach - delicious. The kids clambered over the rocks and we chatted and relaxed. It was good to feel the sea breeze again and to have some cobwebs of my own blown away!

Tuesday 3 April 2007

A Spring In Your Step

It was such a beautiful day here in Sussex yesterday - hooray! My daughter seems to be getting better, it's just her hearing that's still not quite as it should be but hopefully over the next few days that should improve too.
With the sun shining and it being the first day of the holidays and, more importantly, my youngest being able to get out and about again I took the girls to a farm for the day. It was gorgeous! Spring is so perfect for farm visits and we had a great time. You can smell the sense of optimism in the air on a Spring day. I love Summer, but sometimes it can feel a bit too stagnant, whereas Spring is so exciting and promises so much.
The best part of the day for me was watching my daughter on the swings - for the first time in about ten days she laughed. A really good, hearty laugh!

Perhaps it is because the weather in this country is so temperamental that we feel that the minute the sun shines we need to be outside, but it is such a tonic (a very old-fashioned word I know, but I can't think of a better one!). When we got home the girls stayed in the garden until late and the cats were going bonkers in the trees (must have been something to do with the full moon). Did anyone see the moon last night ? It was beautiful. A perfect day.
I LOVE Spring.