Monday 23 February 2009

... how does your garden grow ...

Well you wouldn't know it if you looked out of the window today, but on Saturday we had sunshine, glorious, warm, Spring sun! It felt so good to be walking around with less layers on and feeling the heat of the sun on our faces. For the first time in ages I braved the garden and went outside for a good rummage. Yes, that's me in the photo above wafting gently around the place in my silk crinoline admiring the hollyhocks and flower covered archway ...

Actually that's a rather pretty cushion cover I found at a car boot last weekend. Determined to find something, I resorted to delving deep into dirty boxes and was rewarded with this pretty little thing, which was rust stained and smelly but responded well to some TLC. Not bad for 50p! Not only looking lovely now on an old chair but it goes remarkably well with an old apron that I caught Miss Blossom wearing the other day ...

she too has obviously got her mind on Spring and the flowers in her garden.

How I would love my garden to be full of these cottage garden flowers all Summer long. Not just the lovely display that lasts for a couple of weeks and then limps sadly through till September.

A garden full of interest the whole summer long is my aim in life! Not that easy with the squirrels eating all the bulbs, the slugs and snails munching on the foliage and two cats who love to lie on top of the most promising plants, just when they're coming into bloom.

Still. I mustn't give up hope. I guess the key is planning (and money!). Any seedlings I grow seem to disappear overnight and I am going to have to try and beg, borrow but not steal some new plants this year. I have in my mind exactly what I want to fill the gaps, drifts of foxgloves, hollyhocks and poppies all blooming nonstop!

I love looking through old gardening books for photos and pictures, the cover of this little book is gorgeous. I have not just been reading gardening books and walking oh so elegantly around my garden in my crinoline surveying the slowly awakening borders - I have been busy making these:

Lovely lavender sachets made from cotton printed with images from some much treasured vintage French seed packets. Not only have I found the urge to sew again, I have really, really been enjoying myself. I don't know if it's just seeing the beautiful graphics on the packets transformed into sachets, the pretty flowers on one side and the charming old growing instructions in French on the other, or the feeling of optimism that they produce, Spring is on its way!

Trays full of them have been produced. some have been sent to some shops and some are in my Etsy shop if you'd like to have a look. The equivalent of a potting shed full of summer promise. So until my make believe garden is full of those hollyhocks and I tire of wearing my bonnet and crinoline, at least I have the gorgeous scent of lavender wafting gently over me each time I walk into the room - nearly as good as my imaginary Mary Mary quite contrary garden, but not quite...

Thursday 19 February 2009

Colour me a picture

Can it really be nearly the end of the week? Half term almost over? I'n sure days over half terms are at least two hours shorter than any other day of the year ... We've been having a good week, a gentle week trying to find some colour despite the grey skies. My lovely M gave me this beautiful pink posy (perhaps too big for a posy) of flowers for Valentines Day. Roses, tulips and ranunculus, some of my favourite flowers in my favourite colour...

We had a lovely day at home us Roses. Mr Roses disappeared into the kitchen late afternoon, leaving us girl roses in front of the TV watching I Capture the Castle (again, but really oh so perfect for Valentines Day) and passing round a huge bowl of chocolates that Big Sister had bought for us to share. Once again Big Sister and I blubbed our way through it whilst Little Sister rolled her eyes and did her best to comfort us. Meanwhile in the kitchen M had rustled up an almighty feast for us all including heart shaped mashed potatoes for the girls ... I waddled back to the TV afterwards to watch Edge of Love with him. Not perhaps the perfect pairing of films. more a heads and tails of love, but I enjoyed them both.

The days this week have been grey and overcast. On Tuesday we went for our walk.

The skies may have been miserable but there were tantalising glimpses of sunshine. Us three girls climbed up and down our favourite paths along the Downs and through the woods.

Six years apart in age, it does me good to see my daughters united sometimes like this, walking hand in hand, if not shoulder to shoulder, laughing and giggling, who'd have thought that only an hour earlier they were screeching at each other at home?

We are all together so rarely these days and I know as the girls grow up those days will dwindle even more and I am learning to treasure these times as much as possible - screeching apart.

Yesterday we decided on a whim to go to London. To see some colour. Another grey day but there's always colour to be found in London. This florist stall sits at the end of a street that I remember coming to when I had just left school. I'd just been given my first reading list for University and I'd come here to buy my French text books, feeling oh so excited and grown up. Just seeing all these beautiful flowers brought all those memories back.

Big sister has had lots of art work to do recently. I remembered how wonderful a visit I made to the National Gallery was when I was her age with my school. So we decided to go there and pop in first of all to National Portrait Gallery. I'm glad we did. So many wonderful portraits, photographs etc. A great collection of photos from Vanity Fair too. We looked at the more modern portraits from the last century or so, fantastic! A great collection of Bloomsbury paintings. The girls couldn't believe they saw so many famous people painted in so many different styles. (we also spent an inordinate amount of time examining in close up how to paint shoes, but that's another story ...).

We ate some sandwiches in Trafalgar Square and it felt so strange to be sitting there like a tourist when I had grown up in London and knew the place so well. A whistle stop tour of the National Gallery allowed Little Sister and Big Sister to see some of the most famous paintings in the world - they couldn't believe that there in front of them was Van Gogh's Sunflowers and Yellow Chair, in one corner was that famous painting by Renoir - in fact so many paintings that they had seen so many times in books, postcards, t shirts were there in front of them. It was lovely to watch them looking at them close up for the first time.

But there's only so much culture us Roses, well the younger ones, can take. With vouchers from Christmas burning a hole in their pockets, I knew it was time to tackle Oxford Circus. We walked up Regent Street, passed the shop I used to work in on Saturdays when I was at school, we pressed our noses against the window at Hamleys, waved at Libertys and arrived at teenage heaven - Topshop. No shortage of colour here! I watched Big Sister dance her way through the rails, Little Sister and I trailing behind, she swooped from one item to another and I remembered how I used to feel in just this very shop years ago. We emerged relatively unscathed, minus the Christmas vouchers, but Big Sister triumphant holding a skirt that coincidentally resembles all the beautiful paintings we'd seen that day and the promise of Spring days that lie ahead.

Friday 13 February 2009

Making room for the sunlight

Last Friday, on a cold, wet and grey day, much like today, a couple of friends came for lunch. One of my friends gave me this lovely bunch of spring flowers. A week on and they are still smiling at me on the kitchen table, (the flowers, not my friends). You can't help but smile back when you see a pot full of spring sunshine welcoming you into a room.

Late yesterday afternoon Little Sister and I had to walk into town. Just a couple of weeks ago at 5.30pm the streets would have been dark and silent, but yesterday dusk was just beginning to fall and in the trees was the undeniable sound of birds singing!!! (If you click on the above image, you should see the loveliest mug that Little Sister bought for her daddy). Little Sister told me that the birds were waking up (just like the Moomins in the books we're reading) and it's so good to know that Spring is in our grasp. The weather may be pants, the temperature may be cold but there is no denying that things are changing.

So fast forward to this Friday - the weather is grey again but we have been lucky enough to have had some beautifully sunny mornings and early afternoons here. Bitterly cold, but sunny. Just right for taking photos. Some corners of my home that enjoyed the rays this week.

Last year on the way back from school, I saw a builder just dumping this mirror in a skip. I asked him if I could have it and he looked at me dubiously when he saw that I didn't have a car with me. But hey. there is nothing like the strength of a woman in possession of a new/old mirror is there? I clambered home up the 100 or so steps with my treasure wrapped in my arms. Ten minutes to get it home, eight months to paint!!!

it now sits, freshly painted on my dressing table. It's height works well in the room as we have tall ceilings and it is a long room.

Of course it meant that everything else had to be rearranged and freshly dusted and Mr Roses muttered something about never being able to find anything,... but I'm pleased with the results.
I am not a vain person, these days I hardly look in the mirror for fear of what might greet me, but I cannot believe the amount of mirrors we have in our bedroom ...

The pink mirror that was originally on the dressing table is now at the other end of the room on the chest of drawers and I found one of our cats sitting on a mirrored (!) box of drawers gazing out into the garden with her head bathed in warm sunlight (isn't it amazing just how small they can make themselves to fit into a warm sunny spot).

I have also finally managed to frame and mount the piece of vintage fabric that I found for my kitchen. It fits the space so well and always reminds me of happy days on the Downs whenever I walk past it.

A few weeks ago I had a giveaway - the lovely winner was Lou. A couple of days ago there was a knock at the door and a postman standing there with a very big parcel for me. As it just happened to be the day that Mr Roses was home from work I did panic, frantically rethinking what I'd been buying on the internet!!!! Well M hovered over my shoulder and with hands shaking I opened the box and found this treasure trove of loveliness!

A thank you from Lou for my giveaway prizes! Such a sweet, generous, kind and unprompted gift. I have spent some time this morning arranging my goodies around the house and smiling.
Hope some sunlight crosses your path this weekend.


Monday 9 February 2009

Life's a beach ... stringing wishes

I never would have thought last Monday when we were busy chucking snowballs at each other, that just a few days later we would be choosing to enjoy the wintry sunshine on the beach. Saturday morning, we all felt the urge to be out. Away from home, away from the shops - we needed, in short a change of scene.

Just a short drive along the coast and we found what we needed. A deserted stretch of beach, calm, serene and as a different from a busy Saturday morning in town as you could imagine.

Whenever we go to the beach, we tend to stick together, at least initially. A little group of four huddled round our picnic surveying the scene. This time was different. After just a few minutes I noticed that we were as far apart as possible. The four of us together, but separate by our need for different things.

M had woken up that morning desperate for some air and new vistas. He needed some horizon he said. Well he certainly found it - miles of it, unspoilt, clear, blue, glistening in the chilly sunshine. He walked the beach scanning the horizon, taking his photos, breathing in the sea air and breathing out the worries and stresses of a week without horizon.

Little Sister lay basking on the rocks, face turned up to the sky. She said she needed space. Cuddled up in her coat, plugged in to her Ipod and her mind full of the thoughts and dreams of a 9 year old ...

I knew what Big Sister needed and so did she. She needed the sea. Sitting amongst the rocks on the shoreline with the waves lapping at her feet. she sat and stared. She has always loved the sea and I think that it worked its healing. comforting charm on her again. Even the worries and upsets of a teenager seem to fade slightly if you stare at the sea long enough ....

As for me, I needed to be alone with my thoughts. Not lonely, just alone. I walked across the pebbles. listened to the sea, felt the air on my face and looked over at my family. I always gain persepective when I'm on the beach, it is a place to be optimistic, to indulge in dreams and to find some calm.

I walked over to Big Sister and asked if she minded me joining her. We sat together ( she held on tight to me as I kept sliding down the rocks) and we stared out to sea. Sometimes you don't need to use words do you? We both understood at that moment, what mattered, what was important, what would last and what would pass...

I think we all found what we had gone looking for. Just a couple of hours spent on the beach together, looking for our own kind of treasure.

Thursday 5 February 2009

I've said it before and I'll say it again ...

I want to say "thank you" to all of you who have recently been leaving me so many heart-warming, gorgeously lovely, kind hearted comments. I am being a dreadful slow coach at replying to you all, I have been trying hard but once I start to read one blog I'm immediately off on a trail and before I know it another half an hour has passed ... With every new visit. new comment, new comment from an "old" friend I am reminded of just why I started to blog.

A few weeks ago I resolved to spend less time at the computer and have been partly successful (just partly!). I had also toyed with the idea of maybe backing away from blogging, but to tell you the truth after a couple of nights in bed worrying about this I came to the conclusion that I couldn't do it. I would miss it too much. It is a joy to turn on the computer and read your blogs and find new comments from you, to click on a link and discover a new little world. a photo album of a daily life, a commentary on life's ups and downs
- it is not just about me sharing with you, it is about you sharing with us too. The thought of leaving that all behind just left me cold and made me realised how big a part blogging has come to play in my life.
It is nearly two years now since I started blogging and I still haven't mastered the art of a quick read!!! You must all stop taking such wonderful photos and writing such lovely words - now!!! My family have got used to me slinking out of the living room and muttering "back in five minutes, just going to check my blog ....' What still surprises me is your generosity and kindness.
I have been lucky enough to receive some awards recently, and as I sat here reading the words attached to each award I found myself blushing and completely at a loss for words ... So I shall just say "thank you".

Thank you to April for this award and to Amanda, Fifties girl and Julia
for this one. Please go and have a read of all these lovely ladies' blogs, you won't be disappointed.

There are wonderful words attached to each of the awards and rules too, but I am going to pass on these awards to everybody who reads my blog and leaves a comment - in the absence of a huge box of chocolates or tin of biscuits which I would love to share with you and a cup of tea, please find room on your very pretty shelves for these two awards.
I have also been tagged by Mel tag to show you the fourth photo in my fourth file on the computer. Here is Little Sister and her rag doll/hot water bottle/superglued cat - the pair are inseparable at the moment.

Wishing you a great weekend, keep warm, enjoy the snow if you've still got some and "thank you".

PS Thanks too, to Emma for the lovely pink primrose!

Monday 2 February 2009

Snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes

No school. No work. No pavements. Just SNOW!

Some mornings are special. Some mornings you wake up and feel like a child.

Some mornings you wake up and gaze out of the window and see a scene that you long for each Christmas.

Some mornings you turn on the radio listen, fingers crossed, for the list of school closures and realise that the weekend just got longer ...

Some mornings you bounce out of the house, Monday morning or not.

Some mornings the blanketing silence of snowfall is disturbed only by the sound of my shrieks as I am dragged down the hill on a sledge by Mr Roses and the laughter of my daughters as they follow behind on theirs.

Some mornings you get a glimpse of an everyday world that is somehow transformed.

Some mornings the world is seen through fresh eyes -

pawmarks in the mud become treasures in the snow.

Some mornings you make new friends.

Some mornings you want to share with others ...