Tuesday 29 April 2008

Enchanted April

Thank you all so much for your lovely, warm and supportive comments on my last post. As you can see from the above photo, Big Sister is back enjoying life again. The exam went well (she thinks) and it's another week of revising but the weekend was fun. Here she is enjoying the freedom at Heaven Farm.

I can't believe that it's a year since we last went for our bluebell walk and the bluebells this year were even better than lasts.

It's a poorly Ragged Roses writing this post, having spent the past 24 hours sleeping and being sick I am trying very hard to muster up the enthusiam to do justice to this magical place.

Acres and acres of blue ribboned land, birdsong and the trickle of streams.

Ancient trees, deer and we're sure the odd fairy or two. Look at this glittery dust we found on a tree,

proof if ever there was ...

It was a grey day when we visited but this seemed to enhance the colour of the bluebells.

What a wonderful colour combination, the fresh vivid blues and vibrant greens and I wish you could have smelt the flowers too. The smell of pure, fresh Spring!
I think I need to have a little rest again now and I'll leave you with some more photos. Sorry if I made any of you shed a tear on the last post I'll be round with some ice cream and mad mum dancing when I'm feeling better. Have a good few days.

Friday 25 April 2008

Sometimes ...

Sometimes it's very easy to slip into taking things a bit too much for granted. Big Sister has her first GCSE today and an insurmountable number of tests are piling up for her. I am a very lucky lady - my daughters are kind, considerate (to others, if not each other!), polite, well behaved and most days a delight to be around. What I sometimes am in danger of forgetting is just how fragile they are.

These past few weeks have proved a real test for Big Sister in many ways. She has had to confront a lot of her demons, sit in her room and revise whilst outside the sun was shining, learn that as much as she wants to, mum can't stop the inevitable exam timetable from drawing nearer. Sometimes I want to morph into her and do the pesky tests for her but what good would that do? Sometimes, this week in particular, I want to stop the world from crowding in on her and leave her be.

Sometimes she shows me a piece of her writing, like she did yesterday, and I cry because even under pressure she can produce such beauty. Sometimes when she is crying I wish she wasn't so sensitive and hard working and things would be better for her. Sometimes when she is crying the only thing that works is mad mum dancing and I did so much of that last night that I'm surprised I'm still mobile this morning.

Sometimes I am so proud of you Big Sister and forget to tell you. Sometimes the darned clock seems to forget to tick and a school day feels like a life time.
Sometimes it's good to know there's a vat of ice cream in the freezer, a comfy sofa and some more of that dancing waiting at home for you.

Wednesday 23 April 2008

What a difference a day makes

Hello! I can't tell you how good it is to be back, looking forward to catching up with all of your news over the next day or so. Before I do, here's the highlights of the past few days. Our weekend was one of two very distinct halves:

We took the girls up to London for the day. A day of visiting galleries, walking along the river and eating. It was a good day. Grey but good, as if all the colour had been bleached from the city. The sort of grey that affects all your senses, mutes the noise and softens the sights.

We started off at the Tate where the girls fell in love with all the wonderful Pre Raphaelite paintings, (particularly the very lovely and romantic "April in Love" ) and mooched around the galleries in awe of all the colour and beauty that they contained.

We walked along the embankment and London and the Thames reminded me so much of one of the Whistler paintings I had seen. Grey, soft and quiet. There is nothing like walking around a city to fully appreciate it. No matter how many times you drive around it, it's only when walking that you can appreciate the scale and beauty of its buildings and stumble across hidden treasures that you never knew were there.

This monument commemorating the abolition of slavery in the grounds of Parliament, I had never noticed before.

Big Sister was very excited to find the statue of Emmeline Pankhurst and Little Sister listened (perhaps pretending to be interested) as she told her all about the suffragetes.

Even in busier parts of London and the hot tourist spots, there was time to stop and marvel.

I love the mix of old and new London in this photo.

We carried on walking down the embankment opposite the London Eye towards Somerset House and went to the Courtauld Gallery. This has to be one of my favourite art galleries. When I was at school I remember my art teacher always going on about this place but I think it took me about ten years to finally visit it. If you ever get the chance and haven't been it really is worth the visit. Quiet and out of the way, it houses a wonderful collection of Impressionist , Post-Impressionist and Bloomsbury paintings which for me was the highlight of the trip.
The girls loved it and want to go back for more, I think it was one of our best days in London.

SUNDAY BEST (the one where Miss Blossom finally gets a dress)

A day of colour and unexpected sunshine. An early trip to the car boot where I find a lovely little vintage dress for Miss Blossom (only £1). I've got my eye on it for myself but she is rather more endowed than me and I would feel mean taking it from her now. So out into the garden she came, all dressed up and she held court over my car booty.

This could be mistaken for a spot the difference photo from the last post. I was lucky enough to find candy stripe pillow cases for last week's sheets. Another enamel tub and an old flour pot which is destined to become a flower pot of a different kind.

A couple of apothecary bottles from an old local chemist shop which now sit on the groaning bathroom shelf.

This tea cup and saucer were just too pretty to ignore and they came running home with me. They reminded me of all my floral postcards which came outside to be sorted.

Sssssh I'll let you into a secret, I'm not the only squirrel around.

Meet Sir Squigs the fattest squirrel in town. He spent the afternoon admiring my treasures and, unfortunately, digging up the bulbs but we love him (not as much as the cats do as he provides their only form of exercise).


The girls went back to school I sat down to catch up at the computer and within five minutes the smell of burning and the computer had died. I spent the day beside myself. Am I the only one who never backs anything? All my photos. contacts, work details - everything had potentially disappeared. I didn't sleep well. It was a black sort of day.

But hooray M took it to work and the hard drive was retrieved (does that sound right?). The memory board had burnt out (I know the feeling) and we have had to borrow a computer. So a happy ending of sorts.
Right I'm off to catch up with all your lovely news while I can. It may be a grey drizzly kind of day but I'm so so happy to be back. Sorry again for the length of this post - 48 hours without internet access is a long time!

Tuesday 15 April 2008

Magpie, butterfly or squirrel?

Yes the birds may sing and the flowers may blossom but one surefire way of knowing that Spring is truly here is the increase in available gorgeousness at the car boots! I found lots of little treasures this week and thought I'd share them with you before they're all squirreled away around the house. Candy striped sheets that remind me of my parents bed when I was little and the babysitter would let me sleep in when my parents went out. A lovely lace bathroom curtain. Pretty floral embroidered tablecloth and a fab old enamel container which will be planted up with some summer flowers (comes complete with rusty drainage holes). None of this lot was more than a couple of pounds.
Do you remember this post here, where I found an old eiderdown for just a few pounds? Well who says lightning never strikes twice in the same place?

This one was £5, a bit whiffy and mucky but has scrubbed up really well. I love the faded, muted colours of its blossoms and it was great to see the pale pink emerge from the murky brown washing water.

M has given up trying to deter me from buying more, yes we're long past the "what do we need another one for", raising his eyebrows and rolling his eyes stage, these days the eiderdowns are greeted with a smile.

So in our bedroom which is fast becoming an eiderdown sanctuary for abandoned quilts I have a wonderful dilemma - what do you prefer?

Muted ?

Or loud?
The jury's out on that one, but I think there's room for both (just).

At the bottom of a pile of goodies I found this toast rack to go with my favourite crockery set.

Two more chocolate boxes and tins - the little tin reminds me of where we go on our disastrous boating trips in the summer and the larger lupin covered box just makes me want to fast forward to summer.

And finally this little box. Its graphics are beautiful but its contents are not. Pins for butterflies (yuk).
I think I'm more of a magpie than a butterfly, filling my nest with treasure. Or maybe a squirrel. I bet Squirrel Nutkin had the odd eiderdown or two.
Anyway apologies for not replying to all of your many and wonderful comments this past week. The girls are still on holiday and not much time is being spent at the computer.

Here are some photos from our walk yesterday.

Beautiful free treasures that any magpie, butterfly or squirrel would enjoy. Perhaps the best kind to find.

Thursday 10 April 2008

Spring in our steps at last

It's been a great start to the Spring school holidays here. We've been lucky enough to meet up with lots of friends, begin the week with snowladies in the garden and end it with a day on the beach. How lovely it is to be back out in the garden again, to hear the girls laughing outside and to feel that the shorter days are behind us. Even my two lazy cats have been smitten. The other day we were all in the garden when one came charging out from the house and straight up the very, very tall ash tree at the back of the garden. For a cat who finds moving from one sofa to another requires the most supreme of efforts, this newfound energy came as quite a surprise to us all. What she hadn't realised was the height of the tree and that of course she needed to get down. Imagine the scene, little sister sobbing on the garden bench, me trying to stay calm sitting on top of the garden shed trying to "talk her down", two teenage girls flapping around and the cat crying. Eventually after much shrieking we decided to try the ladder. Needless to say it took us a good ten minutes to work out how to extend the ladder safely against the tree and when we had we turned round to see the cat sitting smugly next to me on top of the shed! Cats, who'd have 'em!

Yesterday afternoon both daughters were out and I decided to get on with things. I hate to say it but the rug, cupboard hanging or the dreaded hall painting weren't even tackled. I'd bought an old pair of steps from the junk shop a couple of days ago and couldn't wait to use them. They were covered in paint stains and had an old plastic seat cover that was ripped. so I gave them a lick of paint, some of my favourite old fabric and a flourish of ric rac. What do you think? I'm pleased with them and at long last I can reach the top of the bookshelves without climbing on the very wobbly computer chair.

A whole new world opened up for me. Books I hadn't seen in years and cobwebs too. This is such a lovely book. Written in 1952, it's a journey along the Southern coast of England exploring the towns, villages etc beside the English Channel. It has wonderful colour plates by Keith Baynes.

I love this one of Brighton pier

and this one of Dungeness, before the power station. It's a great book and has great stories of villages and towns from Devon to Kent.

It wasn't good enough to just look at the pictures though - today we drove along the coast and spent the day at Rottingdean.

I love this village, the quiet little pebbly beach, the mixture of old beautiful cottages and the grander houses in which people like Rudyard Kipling and the Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones once lived (this is his house).

So a day on the beach, eating chips beside the sea and doughnuts from the bakers. Coming home with sun kissed and newly freckled faces - lovely.