Wednesday, 21 December 2016

The Shortest Day

Hello again, and thank you all for your kind comments - it's very nice to be back. Now that we have broken up for the holidays a sense of comparative calm has descended, and already we have reached the shortest day. I love the winter solstice, with it's cold, clear skies and promise of longer, warmer days to come. You can read about why I enjoy this time of year so much here and here.

It's all about light and the celebration of its return at this dark time of year, and I do love to light candles, making the house cosy and warm.

Returning home on a dark afternoon, putting the heating on and switching on the Christmas lights is such a pleasure. I love to make things look twinkly and welcoming when the light levels are so low outside.

There's some greenery and foliage too, to brighten our home with growing things. The hyacinth smells wonderful.

This week I've had time to concentrate on home life and have been busy with our Christmas preparations. At the weekend we went shopping in Wells, and I felt the usual sense of peacefulness that this beautiful place induces. It's medieval architecture is just right for me at Christmas time.

I imagine centuries of people sitting on this worn window seat.

Above our heads starlings were chattering and roosting in the trees as light levels fell.

I hosted a little get-together earlier in the week with four of my best friends who I've now known for over two decades; a festive craft session in which we made some table decorations and clove-studded oranges. I gathered lots of greenery from the garden, having already bought some mistletoe and crab apples. Here it all is ready for my guests. 

I added heather from the garden this year, as well as purple callicarpa berries, cranberries and some bright red and white candles.

We drank mulled wine and ate mince pies and snacks, and it was all very jolly and convivial. 

So jolly and convivial, in fact, that I completely forgot to take any photos of the event itself! Here instead is my finished table centrepiece, with some added feathers brought by one of my lovely guests. We made clove-studded oranges too. Their fragrant, spicy scent is the smell of Christmas for me.  And with the left-over foliage I'm going to make a wreath for the front door.

Hope you're finding some time to relax during your festive preparations too x

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Wintry Walking

Hello! Me again, back after my break, although in truth I haven't been anywhere at all. I've been pootling along here at The House with the Blue Door, busy as usual and noticing how life here has changed since I started blogging. Now that there are just three of us at home, and very often just the two of us, I find that I have more unexpected free time, and I've been using it to look after myself. Eating healthier food, getting lots of exercise, going to bed earlier, having time away from screens, that sort of thing, and I'm feeling better, and lighter, for it which makes me happy.

One particular joy is that I've started to have violin lessons again after a 4-year gap, and it's lovely to be playing again. P has been learning guitar, ukelele and now banjo over the last year, and we are now at a stage when we can play together, which is the best fun.

I've also found time to be creative, knitting myself a charcoal grey scarf in double seed stitch (you can't have too many scarves in my opinion),

making jewellery from semi-precious stones (citrine, amber and garnet),

and trying a new craft - a fused glass workshop which I absolutely LOVED. Here are the coaster and sun-catcher that I made: a running hare and heathery moorland. They will be fired in a kiln and I will have the finished items back soon. Can't wait.

As well as all this I've got myself organised a bit earlier than usual and have managed to make both the Christmas cake and pudding ALREADY. This is a first for me, and I am enjoying a slightly smug feeling as a result. If I write Christmas cards soon too I will be amazed at myself.

Over the last couple of weeks the weather here has turned very chilly indeed and we have had some wonderful frosts. I took a few snatched photos in the garden before work last week when the sun had just risen and Jack Frost had worked his magic over night. How I hated tearing myself away to go off to work and return just as dark was falling! The sunshine and sharp, tingly air called to me to walk for miles, rather than spending the day indoors in centrally-heated classrooms.

After a busy day of Christmas shopping yesterday, my wish came true this morning when P and I set our alarm early, ate a quick breakfast and, suitably wrapped in warm coats, hats, gloves and scarves, set off into the bright cold air. After clear skies last night there had been another sharp frost, and the world around us had turned white, as we headed up the hill.


Our shadows looked like those of creatures with tiny bodies and long legs.

Once we were at the bottom of the hill this gorgeous spotty pig came up to us hoping for food, and grunting loudly the whole time.

Although the sun was quite warm, the places where it had not reached stayed in their own little frozen worlds of white.

A bright, translucent amber leaf hung on, a reminder of autumn,

and these congealed brambles on an old sleeper looked as if they'd been artfully brushed with ice.

The path follows an old railway line, which we have walked many times and which ran along beside us as we strolled.

Trees cast long shadows across the furrows of undulating fields.

And here and there a splash of brilliant red as rose-hips glowed against the blue sky.

I love the edges of fields where the trees start, and this hedgerow looked especially beautiful decorated with rime.


The brook babbled away to itself, keeping us company as we walked and seed-heads grew everywhere, looking very sculptural against their surroundings.

With no leaves to obscure them the lichens on trees come into their own at this time of year, twisty and mysterious like tiny grey seaweeds

and emerald stars.

When we got home we'd walked about 4 miles and only been gone a couple of hours. Being active in the bracing air and soaking up vitamin D was the best way to spend this Sunday morning in my favourite of all weathers.

Hope your weekend has been a good one too x