Tuesday 31 March 2009

Time out

It's around this time of year that I start to get twitchy. The past few weekends have done a good job reminding me just how much I love Spring, being outside, walking, feeling the sun, enjoying the garden. But I've been a good girl, sitting at my sewing machine, window and kitchen door open to let in the fresh Spring air and maybe the odd little saunter round the garden. Until yesterday .... the bulbs that were part of a free bulb offer from a newspaper arrived. Well, not all of them, 100 of them (which leaves 200 somewhere in transit).

Worried that their late arrival would mean no summer blooms, I decided that I had to get them into the garden as soon as possible. Forty minutes later, 100 bulbs buried and well and truly hidden, not just from Mr Squirrel but from myself... in my haste, as usual, I forgot to mark, what, where and when ... and my family will once again share the surprise of what Miss Contrary has been growing this year.

Back to the twitching, well that forty minutes yesterday put paid to any ideas of staying indoors all day, diligently sewing. I can't tell you how many times I went out into the garden this morning "just to see...", "Just to check ..." even the cats had given up following me in and out and up and down the garden steps. By late morning I gave up.

It was time to go outside properly. To say "hello and welcome back" to new friends.

To enjoy watching the celandines greeting the midday sun,

to wonder at an early arrival (in my wonder I forgot to focus, sorry!).

And finally, to settle, a few favourite cushions, an old garden chair (held together by paint only!), a cup of tea (of course) and my book. This is a book calling to be read outside. Did any of you get to see the wonderful TV series on Sissinghurst recently? M and I devoured it. Having seen the author speak so passionately about his home it's great to read more - I love his way of writing and the connections he draws between Sissinghurst and the land surrounding it. A beautiful place, a wonderful book and my justification for spending such a gorgeously self indulgent hour back in my garden.

Friday 27 March 2009

Box of delights

First of all, I really must apologise for not catching up with your blogs lately - it has been a time of much tail chasing, sewing and more tail chasing. I hope next week to be a good blogger and do some reading of the blogging kind and reply to some comments that have been hanging for far too long - sorry.

Anyway, last week, on the way back from the post office, I popped into a favourite shop for a rummage. Sitting amongst some bits and pieces, bottom up, I saw this box. If I tell you it was covered in roses, a little bit the worse for wear, tattered and ragged around the edges, you'll know why I was interested. A Ragged Roses box if ever I saw one! I dithered for a while and then, what clinched it, was, on opening the lid, the first thing I saw amongst all its treasures was this:

Surely a sign if ever there was! A very old card game that allowed me to play Agony Aunt/Fortune Teller/general wise one all in one go.

Now let me see ... What does the weekend have in store for me:

click on photo to enlarge

... oh well. But wait, all is not lost, look at this:

And for those of you who would like to know a bit more about me:

Well I do live near the beach ....

Guess I'm asking too many questions!!

There were piles of things in my little box (bad sign, I'm already calling it mine!) One of our favourite games, we Roses love games, was a vintage edition of Muggins. We bought the new version of this a couple of Christmas' ago and love it. But there is something so much nicer about finding older games. The packaging, the graphics, the smell of the boxes, the absence of plastic, imagining who else has sat round the table playing with them ...

There were books too. This gorgeous book which must be about a hundred years old with a poorly cover that won't photograph nicely. I think it has been republished, and is worth a hunt.

"The Little Girl's Sewing Book" edited by Flora Klickmann is full of little projects to keep you busy, furnishings for dolly's house, curtains for dolly's cottage window, lambkins bag, perambulator cover, and wonderful old advertisements. A treasure.

As if that wasn't enough - another book with lots of little projects. As a self-confessed non-knitter, the cover of this book had me captivated. Thankfully I don't really need to know how to knit a cardigan for my tennis matches, a complete hiking outfit, a jumper for a dog or harness for a puppy, but what I know you ladies will all love is this:

- a matching jumper to go with your Union Jacks .Go on, you know you've always wanted to .... and if you ask me nicely I'll give you the pattern!

Have a great weekend

Monday 23 March 2009

Weekend Whimsy - Chapter 3

It was a good weekend for us Roses, hope it was the same for you. Life's a funny old thing, minutes after writing a cheery post on Friday, a friend told me some sad news - tragic news that shocked us all to the core. News that had nothing to do with our family directly and yet in a way had affected us all so deeply that we all felt the need to be together all weekend long. There is no greater wake up call than a reminder of the fragility of life ... we needed a weekend to savour, to reflect and most importantly to share.

So on Saturday morning we headed up to the Downs with our friends, our oldest friends, had a wonderful walk, picnicked in the grass, held our heads up to the sun, laughed, chatted, looked around at our families and realised just how lucky we all were.

We needed to be away from town, from the noise and bustle. We needed to just be. To be together.

We spent the evening at our friends' home.

Watched the sun setting over the sea and came home late in the evening whilst the pier was still partying.

Have you read/seen "The Darling Buds of May?" To coin a phrase from Pa Larkin the weekend was "perfick". Come to think of it on Sunday, Mother's Day, I felt rather like Pa Larkin with all the amount of food I consumed! Mr Roses did a great impersonation of Ma Larkin cooking all day, breakfast in bed (heart shaped soldiers), the girls made me cupcakes for tea and Ma, sorry Mr Roses, whipped up the best Sunday night supper ever. Thank you!

This weekend I remembered something that blogging had long ago taught me, to enjoy the moment, to find beauty in the most unexpected places and to cherish my family..

Friday 20 March 2009

Busy doing nothing

The day before yesterday I took my book, a cup of tea and my lunch into the garden. I ate my sandwich, drank my tea and sat. For fifteen minutes, yes fifteen minutes, I did nothing other than watch the washing swaying in the breeze. It was wonderful. I can't remember the last time I sat during the day doing nothing and not feeling terribly guilty about it - no sewing in one hand, duster in the other, nothing. Bliss! Those fifteen minutes felt like an hour, sun shining on my face, remembering just how enchanted we were when we moved into this house, the silence of the garden save from the singing of the birds. Even the cats were still at my feet. All three of us just really enjoying the moment.

On the way back home from school that day I found myself humming this tune. Little Sister stared blankly at me and I told her the name of the song but the joy of doing nothing was lost on her! I hope you all find time this weekend for a little 'busyness' of the nothing kind and that all you mummies have a wonderful Sunday.

Tuesday 17 March 2009

Sunny days seen from afar ...

What a beautiful weekend! Unfortunately, because I'd been feeling so poorly last week, it meant that I had to spend most of it indoors catching up on things ... But how lovely it was to wake up every morning to beautiful sunshine streaming in through the bedroom curtains, wonderful. M and I took our morning cuppas into the garden and sat in the silence and enjoyed the feel of that sun on our faces.

To hear the birds singing and see the new shoots appearing in the ground is just a joy. I think early mornings in the garden in Spring and summer must be some of my favourite times.

It's good isn't it to walk round your garden and make plans, such an optimistic feeling. So, still in my pjs, I scattered the lovely hollyhock seeds I'd been sent by Niki.

M took some photos of the beautiful hellebores and Little Sister came bounding outside still in her pjs and enjoying the feel of the grass on her bare feet for the first time this year - whilst inside the house a teenager was still sleeping!

Later on in the morning Mr Roses took the rosebuds to the woods whilst I went off to the post office. I seemed to have experienced a lot of the past weekend vicariously and would love to tell you tales of the first sightings of blossom and frogs doing what comes naturally this time of the year but instead I shall show you some of M's photos and tell you that they came back from the woods, refreshed and full of tales of froggy doings ...

So the weekend seemed to pass in front of the sewing machine with quick little forays into the garden for cuppas and a browse of the newspapers. It was wonderful to see the girls back on the hammock and pink cheeks appearing again on their faces.

Yesterday I did sew some seeds, but unfortunately it was not the "sowing" I would have liked to have done. Piles and piles of these were sewn ready to be sent to a shop, What a great feeling to have finished them on time! It did almost make up for not being able to get outside and enjoy the Spring sunshine.
I wasn't the only one around here who hadn't been out in the sunshine this weekend. Look who I spotted in our bed on Saturday afternoon:

It seems I'm not the only one who likes candy striped sheets!

Another beautiful morning today and whilst tidying up a few minutes ago I found this piece of kindling Little sister had left for me:

... the best kind of sunshine.

Friday 13 March 2009

Spring bedding

Thank you for all your well wishes. I have had to spend this week doing things at a much slower pace than usual but am beginning to feel as normal as I ever will. One of the things I really miss about being younger was those days off school when you were poorly. I was always allowed to spend the days in my mum and dad's bed. Their bed seemed huge to me and was always so much more comforting than mine when I was ill.

When I was very young we didn't have duvets, just crisp clean sheets, that always smelled of being outside on the washing line, blankets and bedspreads. Candy stripe pillowcases or pure white cotton sheets that my mum washed every Monday. The blankets on my bed were pink and the ones on my parents' were a soft shade of aqua. I remember that they all had a satin ribbon trim, were incredibly soft and were the best thing, apart from my mum, to cuddle into.

All these memories came back to me this week when I was ill and cuddled on the sofa with these lovely old blankets. Beautiful soft shades of old wool, looking lovely across my bed. They're used more as the icing on the cake these days rather than the basic ingredients of bed making. Whilst I think I will not resort to giving up my duvets and eiderdowns in favour of blankets and sheets I do remember loving the ritual as a very young child of watching my mum make the beds. These days it's a quick shake and smooth of the sheets, plump up the pillows and on with the duvet, done in minutes.

Bed making seemed to go on forever when I was little, sheets neatly tucked in at the corners, another sheet added with huge wafts in the air as my mum threw it over the bed and then the pile of blankets began, each neatly tucked and turned back. I can't remember what I found the best bit, the smell of the linen, the safety I felt at being so tightly tucked in or the cosiness of the piles of fabric on top of me.

We used to live opposite my primary school. A huge field separating my house from the school. What made days off even better for me when I was sick was lying in that bed, rereading "Heidi" for the nth time, listening to my mum chattering on downstairs. smelling the days meals as they were slowly cooking away and hearing the school bell being rung by the teacher, signalling the end of playtime and knowing that, for me, there were no lessons that day ...

Monday 9 March 2009

Hankies, hyacinths and whodunnits

Hello! Is it a week already? I did intend to post yesterday but the computer was having a tantrum and when it had finally decided to calm down and play nicely, I was feeling too ill to do anything about it! Just when I thought I'd got through the winter without too many hiccups I find myself with the sorest throat I can remember and virtually no energy, so today finds me reacquainting myself with the echinacea bottle ....

Thank you all so much for your lovely comments on my birthday post. I hope you all got your share of jelly and custard and weren't too hyper by the time you got home. Lots of your comments reminded me of all the party food we used to have when we were little - one of the things that I always remembered having were bridge rolls?! We never had them any other time but come my birthday, my mum would go straight to the baker's to order the bridge rolls ... You see I'm rambling maybe I now have a temperature, best make this post short. There's always a winner at party games and the name drawn out of the party hat this time is Yvonne. I wish I could have had one of those games of pass the parcel with a pressie in it for everyone, but could you imagine the size of the parcel and the amount of paper ... I'm rambling again. Big 'Thank you" again to everybody.

Back to yesterday - the first bright sunny Monday morning in a long while. What a difference it made to the start of the week. After walking back from school I went straight to the garden and picked these - the first little posy of flowers from the garden this year. Instant Spring, the beautiful sweet smell of hyacinths and the fresh smell of flowering rosemary with the chalky colours of delicious primroses, nothing better to lift the spirits and brighten the kitchen windowsill.

Taking advantage of the sunshine I took some photos of some bits and bobs to show you. A gorgeous little pile of vintage children's mystery books. I would have devoured these when I was younger, they remind me of the Nancy Drew books I used to love. Wonderful titles too - I'm desperate to find out what the "Lovelace Luck" is and, of course, the mystery attached to it.

As for "The Mysterious Mr Fairweather" I wonder what he's been up to and whether Edith and Peggy find out, I expect they do somehow. As for "Nicolette goes guiding" well that sounds like "Jolly good fun" to me and maybe I'll spend this evening, cuddled up on the sofa with my lemsip finding out...

Oh the pleasure of having new books to read. Stumbling across new ones, rereading old ones and unexpectedly being given a book as a present by somebody. Love is a new book. A new book that you have heard so much about and have failed to find a copy that you can afford. Love is Mr Roses tracking down this book on the other side of the Atlantic and presenting it to me as a complete surprise...

Life here at the Roses' household is not always as rosy as you might think. At the moment, when life is not as easy as it might appear, I can't tell you how heartening it is to know that a simple jar of flowers and a pile of books can make me smile.
See you soon, I'll try not to leave it so long this time.