Sunday, 30 April 2017

Into the Woods

Over the last couple of weeks we have been out and about locally enjoying the arrival of spring, and there's no better place for this than woodland. I love to be in green places surrounded by trees and growing things. Woodlands are very much three-dimensional places, with interest all around: above in the tree canopy birds sing and squirrels climb; at eye height there is blossom, bark and new leaves; at ground level there is a carpet of plants, rotting wood, fungi and tiny creatures. Woodlands are places where you can lose yourself and still your thoughts.

Recently after work we walked to our local nature reserve. It's only little, but there's so much to see. I looked, listened and use all my senses: warbling birdsong trilled around us; the tiny white and pink stars of wood anenomes dotted the green of the floor; frothy white blackthorn blossom decorated the trees; a soft breeze touched my face and the pungent, appetising smell of wild garlic rose up from the ground and wafted around our noses. 

The wild garlic was yet to flower,

and wood anenomes covered the ground.

Many of them were a soft pink.

New leaves glowed in the light of the setting sun.

And as it set, bats came out and swooped over our heads, some getting very close indeed. Such a lovely evening.

Last weekend we went to a larger ancient woodland which is a short car drive from here. It was a sunny afternoon, and as the bluebells were at their peak there were families there enjoying their beauty on a Sunday afternoon.

There were celandines and wood anenomes too, amidst the green.

Streams and gullies babbled away,

and we climbed the side of a very pretty waterfall which cascades over the rocks below.

Bright green ferns pushed their way up through the leaf litter.

Overhead the sunlight shone through the leaves above, making patterns of light and shade.

Best of all, of course, were the bluebells. Such a heavenly shade of blue, and so many of them.

I stood and drank them all in, inhaling their delicate scent which hung in the air. 

Nothing can match the spectacle of them shimmering under the trees. They epitomise late spring, and I wait for them eagerly every year. It's always hard for me to keep walking when I come across a clearing of bluebells.

Other flowers were there too, like this pretty red campion,

more wood anenomes,

bright dandelions,

and delicate lady's smock, which I also know as milkmaids. I found out it's also called cuckoo-flower in some parts of Britain and is related to wallflowers, which I often suspected.

Thank you for coming with me on my ramble. 

Woodlands are indeed magical places  x

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Tulip Time

It's the second week of the Easter holidays here and today the weather has been absolutely lovely. Despite a chilly breeze there was bright, warm sunshine, and I engaged in one of my favourite spring activities of recent years - tulip-picking. I've posted about it before here and here. Our local farm shop has a PYO field and I think we're a bit earlier this year as there weren't quite as many in bloom yet as usual, but they were still absolutely glorious.

See you soon x

*** Edited to add: Here's a link to the tulip-picking field is if you're nearby and able to visit x ***

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Spring Thoughts

Happy Easter!

I hope you're all well? Here at The House with the Blue Door time seems to be flying and life is busy, busy, busy. Since I last posted I've decorated three rooms and P has made countless trips to local charity shops and the refuse tip, as we've embarked on a huge decluttering project in our house. Our three youngsters are well and truly grown up now and as a result they come and go. Sometimes there's two or three of us, sometimes four or five. Our lives have changed and it's time for our home to reflect that, so we have been re-organising and streamlining things. As well as all this P and I have had a little more time to follow our own pursuits. P's been following his musical hobbies, and I've been trying new crafts. I have so much to share with you but will content myself with giving you the edited highlights of what I've been up to lately. Grab a cup of tea, pull up a chair and make yourself comfortable.
Something that I really enjoyed was a day's workshop in lino printing. Being a big fan of the art, I've enjoyed artists like Angie Lewin and Mark Hearld for years, but have never tried it myself. My friend J and I spent a wonderful day at an old barn in the Somerset countryside with the lovely Toni at The Barn Studio. The surroundings were peaceful and pretty, and her studio was just stunning. J and I were in heaven all day!

Equally good was the very warm welcome she gave us, not to mention keeping us well-supplied with coffee, cakes and a delicious lunch. I loved making a design, cutting it into the lino and then printing it in different coloured inks, and used some of my favourite photos to make spring-inspired prints.

Here they are drying,

and here are the finished results. I'm definitely going to do more of this!

I've been enjoying my stained glass class too, and have done a little more fused glass (below), as well as starting my first leaded piece.

Crochet has been going on in the background too - I made this little corsage from some soft pink Welsh wool I discovered in our clear-out.

My love-affair with hellebores continues, and two double ones were added to our collection after a visit to a garden open day in Bath.

I've never seen so many different varieties in one place.

I get out to my shed as often as I can, and it's lovely to spend time there now that the weather is warming up and the sun is stronger. A few weeks ago I went out one wet Sunday afternoon and got out my watercolours.

I painted a crocus and listened to the patter of rain, a truly meditative and mindful activity.

I've been out and about too, to some lovely places. One of my favourite work trips is the yearly visit to Chepstow Castle in Wales. It's always a breath of (very) fresh air in March and a welcome break from the classroom for everyone.

A Mother's day walk along the River Thames to Sonning on a gloriously sunny and blowy spring day was real treat. The colours on that day were so bright and the floral world had properly burst into life (we even saw George Clooney's house from a distance!).

A fortnight ago we went to Winchester to see Angie Lewin's A Printmaker's Journey exhibition which she curated herself and which contains her own work as well as pieces by Eric Ravilious, Edward Bawden and Mark Hearld.

 Oh my goodness, it was so inspiring my head was positively buzzing with ideas afterwards! You know that feeling when you feel really inspired to make things, but aren't quite sure where you want to start and what to make? I certainly had that. The exhibition is on until the end of this month and if you're in the area I can recommend it. A bit of a wander and lunch with family in Winchester afterwards helped to calm my creative excitement.

This week we visited lovely Lyme Regis, a favourite Easter outing. A chilly day, the soft Dorset countryside was beautiful and the hedgerows as we drove down were full of primroses, wild garlic and the first bluebells. The little town was as jaunty and pretty as ever.

The sea air did us good, and we ate pasties from our favourite baker on the sea wall while listening to the gulls above us and looking at the calm sea. We didn't mind when the sun went in and after a wander around the shops and an ice-cream we went for a walk around the harbour.

Walking on the famous Cobb is a bit vertigo-inducing for me, so I walked around the bottom of it and enjoyed the boats at low tide.

Now that spring has sprung there is floral gorgeousness everywhere. This ornamental cherry is on my walk to work. I did feel slightly self-conscious taking a photo of it, but it had to be done. You get that, don't you, dear reader?

Our own native cherry tree has grown bigger than ever and is covered in white blossom at the moment. It looks like the birds will have lots of little cherries to feast on this summer.


The fritillary on our rockery flowered its socks off and was a chequered delight.

When the sunlight catches the tulips in our garden they glow and I'm always glad that I planted them back in the autumn. They're such vibrant, happy flowers.

It seems to be all about blues, greens and yellows at this time of year, with the garden exploding into zingy colour.


Last weekend was so warm the temperature went above 20 degrees, and it started to feel like summer. I sat in the garden and wrote in my beautiful new journal, a Mother's Day present from J with Van Gogh's almond blossom on the cover. 
I'm really enjoying writing, planning and doodling ideas these days, and have missed blogging. It's been a place to mark and enjoy the seasons, everyday life and creativity, and I'm not exactly sure why I've neglected it for so long - just lost my blogging oomph as well as struggling to find enough time in the day to fit everything in, especially in term time when I work full time. I have considered giving up completely and just Instagramming instead, but my blog calls to me and I have missed it, as well as reading all my favourite bloggers. I do appreciate anyone who finds the time to visit me here. 

I hope you are enjoying the spring too and having a good Easter break x