Friday, 2 March 2018

Snow Days

Brrrr! It has been very chilly indeed here this week, culminating in the arrival of snow yesterday morning. School was closed and so I have had two whole Snow Days off work, the first in 5 years. Hooray! We've all been holed up here with occasional trips out to the local shop (where the shelves are starting to look rather empty) or the garden, and it's been very relaxing. I'm aware that it's not so relaxing for others who've been caught out in it, or who have had no heating or power, and we count ourselves lucky enough to be able to enjoy the arrival of snow. 
Not so lucky are the poor flowers in our garden which were just getting going in the sunshine I mentioned in my last post. After the first snowfall yesterday morning I found, along with some droopy hellebores and crocuses, this lovely double primrose,

and these brave little tete-a-tete daffodils. We've had a lot more snow since then, and they now can't be seen.

Our windowsill hyacinths are faring much better in the warmth of the central heating.

Out in the garden, flower beds and pot plants have disappeared under a blanket of white. 

And I'm making sure to keep the birds well-fed.

I've done a fair bit of staying indoors keeping warm, and baked brownies yesterday which don't last long in our house.

I love the way snow lights up the interior of our house and reflects back the light, and like to light candles which flicker prettily against the snowy background. However, by lunchtime today I was beginning to feel a little stir-crazy.

So this afternoon P and I pulled on our wellies and woollies, and set off out of the house into the cold air. It was strange to be out, walking along our road, surrounded by other walkers and virtually no traffic. Snow muffles sounds and I enjoyed that familiar squeaky sound of walking on snow. Soon we were into the countryside, in the same lane and fields we walked in here.

The fields had been transformed into a bleak, white landscape.

Overhead flew fieldfares, and redwings chattered and flew in and out of the hedges.

Sheep bleated and occasionally leaped and jumped, a sign that spring is coming.

Seedheads made neat outlines against the snow.

A tiny wren and a blackbird hopped along the frozen stream, out of the wind.

Out of the trees and over our heads flew a barn owl, and we watched it fly in wide circles overhead, looking for food. It was magical.

As the light began to fade we walked home through the rutted snow, and I was very glad we'd ventured outside. Before long it'll all be gone and the landscape will return to normal again.

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Yarny and Flowery Goings-on

Here I am again, as promised. Term begins again tomorrow, so I thought I'd do a bit of a round-up of the things that have made me happy recently.  I spent half term being creative and getting together with friends and family, which really was a very relaxed and companionable way to spend a week. I got my housework and boring jobs done quickly, and then spent a couple of days chatting, drinking coffee, sharing cakes and being creative with friends. There was also Pancake Day and Valentine's Day, and a day out. It was wonderful to slow down and spend time doing the things that I really enjoy. In no particular order here they are:
*Beautiful and sweet-scented spring flowers that P bought me for Valentine's Day. They are sitting on the table next to me as I type, and they do smell good.

*Regular readers will know by now how much I love hellebores, and they are now blooming away in our garden for all they're worth.

*I came up with the idea of crocheting a wreath of hellebores using Lucy's flower pattern. I made the hellebores 3 years ago and hadn't yet used them for anything, so decided that a pretty spring wreath would be a good idea. I added some long, pointy leaves and grouped them in the shape of hellebore leaves. 

The wreath is brightening up our dining room indoors while the hellebores are flowering outside in the garden.

*While I'm on the subject of crochet, I decided on the greyest of days that I needed to crochet something pink to counteract the cold, dripping rain. And so these little rosy cotton granny squares were born.

I still have no idea what I'm making with them, but crocheting these tiny squares of pink yarn in bed and with a cup of tea has been a very warm and cosy project.

*I've also started something new for my Esty shop. Spring colours and floral prettiness are calling me and I'm enjoying crocheting with pastel cottons. I'll reveal more later.

*A colleague at work has just gone on maternity leave, so I crocheted a little ball for her new arrival.

*Work on D's university blanket has now begun, as she has chosen her Stylecraft colours and will be heading off there in September. I'd better get cracking!

*This lovely Stylecraft Batik Swirl yarn will have to wait...I must not start a new project while I have other WIPs on the go.

*At the start of the week I headed off to nearby Frome, feeling excited.

I was going to Marmalade Yarns, an inspiring and welcoming yarn shop which I've shopped at for years. On this day, though, I was going to a Fairisle Knitting workshop there with the talented knitwear designer Mary Henderson.

It was a steep learning curve for me, but I've wanted to knit Fairisle patterns for a long time now and couldn't wait to get started. On a wet Saturday a group of us sat around a table and were kept well-supplied with tea and cake while we learned how to knit with several colours at once in the round.

We all started on wrist warmers from Mary's pattern and, as I'd never knitted on more than two needles before, I had to concentrate hard. Back at home, the wrist warmer is growing as I work my way through the chart bit by bit and learn to hold a yarn in each hand as I go. My dreams of wearing a home-made Fairisle hat don't seem so far away now. Next time I'll show you my finished wrist-warmer - who knows, I might even make a pair!

Here are some of Mary's wonderful hand-knitted hats - aren't they gorgeous?

*On a non-yarny note I've really enjoyed indoor bulbs over the last month or two.

*Snowdrops have been quietly blooming in our garden, and I've enjoyed snipping a few to bring indoors. 

*Our dresser has had a makeover too. It's still blue, but a softer, more chalky shade, and goes very well with the bunches of daffodils that I've been buying from the supermarket lately.

*Finally, on the subject of blue, just look at this blue sky in Wells yesterday! It really was the most beautiful sunny day in Wells and brought with it a taste of spring.

See you soon x

Friday, 16 February 2018

Sunshine At Last

It's half-term here and I'm really enjoying a break from work. The grey rain and cold of January just seemed to go on and on, and I felt a great sense of relief when we arrived in February. I couldn't seem to get warm, and being without heating and hot water for a weekend didn't help, when our boiler broke down and had to be repaired. I've craved sunshine and warmth, and felt in need of being perked up. P and I have continued our runs/walks (more in another post), so I've been outside a good deal, but indoors has called me back inside to cosy up and knit or crochet.
However, a change is in the air and although there are still grey, wet, cold and very windy days, there is also sunshine. Warm sunshine. And I can't tell you how glad I am to see it.

Yesterday P took the day off and J is home on a short visit, so we took ourselves off to Tyntesfield, a nearby NT property, for the day. It was a day of sunshine and showers, with a heavy hailstorm at one point, but when the sun came out, as it always did, it brought with it a breath of spring. The house is a recent NT acquisition and is still a work in progress. It's built in Victorian Gothic style, a mass of turrets, gables, pinnacles and so many architectural features.

Inside it is stunning, with a light and ornate central hall which all rooms radiate from.

There was pattern and ornamentation everywhere in the form of stencils,

carved wood and stone,


and lots and lots of colourful, intricate stained glass. Since I've been learning this art I'm fascinated and inspired by the windows I see in buildings around me.

The colours and traditional glass-painting are just gorgeous.

After dodging another shower, outside was just as lovely, despite there not being much in bloom. The orangery was a place I could've settled down in for an afternoon, surrounded by the colours and scents of warmer climes in the form of oranges, lemons and bright camelias. I could imagine myself whiling away the hours here in a rattan chair with a good book and a cup of tea.

Next came the greenhouses, most of which were closed to the public for maintenance work. I must confess I was disappointed as I would loved to have wandered through them, but I consoled myself with taking photos of the beautiful spring and summer flowers inside them through the glass. 

The scent of these hyacinths was so strong you could smell it as it wafted through the vents at the top of the greenhouse.

Inside this one were fan-trained fig and apricot trees.

Next came the beautiful kitchen garden. I do so love the order and neatness of a walled garden with its rows of onions and netted cabbages. Here there was forced rhubarb and fan-trained fruit trees.

There's something so beautiful and well-tended about these trees. They have been carefully pruned and trained and, growing on this sunny wall, must produce delicious fruit.

The gardens surrounding the house were a mix of formal and parkland, with structure and symmetry.

The topiary holly trees were clipped to perfection and must be a job in themselves.

As we left the gardens we dropped by the rose garden where two gardeners were busily pruning, ready for the year ahead. In two corners were these pretty little arbours. We sat in one out of the cold wind and felt the warm sunshine. They were also heavily decorated with these pretty tiles. 

I'd love to come back later in the year to see the roses in bloom and the fruit trees in blossom. I really can't wait for spring to get going now.

I've also been busy creatively in recent weeks, and plan to show you what I've been up to soon. Hopefully I'll post about that this weekend before I go back to work, fingers crossed.
See you soon! x