Friday, 30 January 2009


A wet day. Dark...cold...wet. Did I mention that already? My tax return is finally filed and I feel strangely calm after so many fraught nights where my dreams were interspersed with forms and book-keeping and figures. As ever, the reality was not so bad as my over-fertile imagination allowed it to seem. At last I feel I can give myself over to all the new ideas buzzing round my head and not just jot ideas, draw quick sketches, putting it all on hold till the evil deed is done. I do loathe this about me, the way I can make things so much harder for myself from time to time. I recognise the pattern and yet there I am cursing my procrastinating self once more. Ah well, bit late to change now. Maybe some strange part of me needs this feeling of pending deadlines to activate efficency? I definitely prefer having plenty to do as I tend not to wast time thinking about the endless list and just do it instead. But there are limits you know, Pipany.

So, snowdrops are occupying my thoughts today. I have brought one of our very little but slowly increasing drift in to photograph. Not the easiest of tasks on so dark a day, but still. Such a simple flower.

So perfect in its simplicity.

Delicate, fragile, pure. Words such as these spring to mind, all with conntotations of something precious to be treasured, of something ephemeral which, of course, they are. Here one moment, gone the next to be replaced by star-like crocuses and bright dancing daffodils.

Today I am holding their delicate beauty in sight choosing to see it as a sign of the retreating Winter, the oncoming Spring.

Snowdrops. So perfect.

Have a lovely weekend xx

Monday, 26 January 2009

The week that was.

Already the primrose just in front of the kitchen has started to flower. Alongside tiny shoots of grey-green push through and the first of our small drift of snowdrops unfold in the cool light of this shady spot. Unfortunately these purest of flowers are not dressed here in their usual pristine array thanks to the ever-persistent rain which has splashed muddy streaks onto the delicate skirts. Still they are beautiful and it looks as though more will soon follow as long as the hen leaves them alone. She has been scratching around the herbaceous plants as they peep from under the dead winter foliage and I know I will regret it if we don't put her back in the pen again.

Other things to make me smile last week? A little girl busily trying on outfits from the dressing up cupboard. Apparently, it was Hallowe'en - don't the months fly by?

The daphne is coming into bud just outside the front door. It is one of my favourite plants - yes, I know I say that about hundreds of plants, but this really is. The perfume is so beautiful at a time of year that desperately needs something to lighten it and remind us that Spring is close at hand. The aeonium next to it survived the bitter frosts too, so that makes me smile more.

The quilt I made for Isabella has made frequent appearances throughout the house and I am obsessed with trying to get a photograph which shows the fabrics properly. No luck so far, but I shall keep trying. I think it will probably need lighter days before I succeed.

A little crafting with the children has taken place too. Lucy is making a calendar for her Daddy to have at school and it is almost finished now. As she works away, Isabella has been painting flowers...

and 'scissoring' which she has almost got the hang of. Doesn't everyone do scissoring in their PJs with the trousers inside out?

Lastly, as ever, the sea has as ever made me smile. I just could not live without it.

Beautiful isn't it?

Bye for now x

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Oh, for sun.

Oh how I crave the sun. So often in January we have days of clear blue sky and bright, bright sunshine, the air crisp and sharp and smelling clean. Lately Cornwall has been mostly wet, as is its wont. I wade to the ducks through paths of sludge, head down against the wind-driven sheets of rain, trying to dodge one f the cats who seems to think I am going to feed the corn to her; heavens only knows why she has not yet worked out this twice daily ritual does not involve any food for her, but I never said our cats were particularly sharp of mind! I am tired of trying to be positive about the endless deluge especially as I know it is not as bad as I feel it to be. There are breaks in the cloudbursts most days, though yesterday was truly awful. I kid myself that this is a proper Winter and therefore a proper Spring may follow with a true Summer close on its heels. We shall see. In the meantime, I have put a giant picture of marigolds grown here last year, bright, gorgeous, wonderful, dark-day-defying marigolds. I could almost breathe them in.

Not much in the way of sewing going on lately thanks to the paperwork needing sorting. Some orders and a little help from Isabella to stuff gingham hearts. I believe in starting them at an early age! very sweet in her determination to do this fiddly task unaided and very little in spilled lavender to what I expected. Our sewing bee was halted by the strange appearance of Discovery who on seeing the door open to let in the cat decided to pop her head round to say hello. Hens in the kitchen is not something we encourage!

Despite the endless rain we have managed to get to our allotment once or twice. Onions are in, blackcurrants moved from the garden to our plot, potatoes are planted and it's all underway. And so today once the cleaning is done - amazing what a little paperwork can do for the house; a sudden and most urgent need to clean has meant the cupboards are amazingly tidy! - I will mostly be sitting by this...

and dreaming of this...

Bye for now xx

Tuesday, 13 January 2009


Not much happening here at the moment. The crisp, frosty weather has gone taking my inspiration with it and leaving grey drizzle in its wake. I'm not so good at this side of winter and will need to work hard at not letting it get to me. Perhaps I should use my camera as a way of seeking the beauty in even the dullest of days? I have cheated a little by bringing in sprays of camellia and snowy white viburnum tinus to cheer the rooms.

Things are set for change here in the next few weeks and it is a change I feel most strange contemplating. My son, Sam, leaves for New Zealand for four months on Thursday and while it is the trip of a lifetime, I have never had him away home for more than a week. Lauren, eldest daughter, leaves for Belgium at the end of the month for five months. By the time I see her again it will be closer to six. Though I am used to Lauren taking herself of all around the world - she toured Europe for almost six months and went to Thailand for a month on a Gap Year scheme - I still feel the loss of her. We drove her back to her University digs in Clifton on Saturday, a three hour drive from Cornwall, and as we left I realised I wouldn't hug this precious child again for such a long time. She will be undertaking part of her course through the Erasmus scheme and will not know anyone when she arrives, just like when she flew alone to Thailand. Like her mum she seems to have a need to challenge herself, but it is her mum who will worry despite knowing she will be fine, more than fine. It will all be fine, just most odd and our Walton-esque family will have shrunk for the moment.

In the meantime, I feel the need for cooking and homemade carrot, celery and thyme soups, breads and cakes seem to proliferate; seeking comfort in food? Maybe, though doesn't such food feed the soul whatever the mood? The herbs in the garden have survived the frosts and the chives continue as though Spring were already here, and in some ways the contrast does make that so. So much milder, hence the rain which the gardener in me says we need...hmmm.

Sunday brought a day where Sam was treated to one of his favourite meals: lamb pasanda slow cooked till the meat melts away in the sauce of cream and almonds and the mildest of spices. As it gently cooked in the oven and the kitchen filled with the promise of things to come we played Tarot, the last time for Sam for a long while. He is getting thoughtful about his trip and the loss of his family albeit only temporarily. A first trip, a long way, and yet only the other end of a phone line thank heavens.

I bake more cakes and think and ideas for new designs finally begin to form, hazy at first, ephemeral, but there nonetheless, and for the first time since Christmas I begin to feel my head can return fully to the business. It is a relief. So much going on, so many impending partings. It is time for us all to get on with what faces us and that will be fine too. I'll raise a glass of our cider made with such fun in the autumn, delicious and flowery having survived the barrel being left in the cold of the garden, and drink to what lies ahead remembering all the while that time passes and they will return to play more cards, make more cider. The circle will be whole once more.

The sun has come out and I feel ready for it all.

Bye for now xx

Thursday, 8 January 2009

An Icy Calm.

Golly, don't think I have blogged quite so much for a long time. I feel so inspired by the wintry weather at the moment which is not generally my way. Something about the light calls me out of my warm house to search out the effects the icy days have wrought on the landscape. A cup of tea and some cake - yes, we went with the coffee and walnut in the end - sets me up before I head into the freezing early morning. Not much cake left is there?

The day is strange, the sun taking a break behind the leaden clouds and leaving a steely glow in its wake. Lichen on the old pear tree is bleached of all colour, the gnarled branches providing a wonderfully textured backdrop for the swirls of softest green.

Lady Isabella is already testing my patience today even though she has only been awake a short while. This escape into the quiet of the garden is soothing, but I can hear her lusty lungs bellowing at her elder sister and know I must return to calm her down. On seeing me enter the kitchen she throws herself on the floor in a display of despair worthy of an Academy Award, her tiny prostrate form a study in tragedy and her muffled voice declaring she is 'a bit poorly Mummy. I not fulling well', her ready excuse for when she knows she's in trouble. Oh dear, it's going to be one of those days. Wonderful big sister Lauren tells me she'll look after Isabella while I take Lucy to school and I am gone before her words have completely left her mouth! School, then to the beach I head.

I choose Swanpool Beach from the many close by and am surprised to see the sand glistening with a deep frost. Rifts of rimed and spangled seaweed crunch underfoot as I make my way to the chilly water's edge, stopping all the while to capture the novelty of such a scene. How beautiful it looks.

Everywhere I turn there is more, the frost turning the seaweed into so many strange creatures with icy horns and spiky twisted tails. This one brings seahorses to mind...

and in this I can see a mouse (and I hadn't touched a drop!)

Eventually I move toward the sea and as ever time passes without my notice as the gentle surge of the tide holds my eye. I love this so, love the sea in all her moods. Today she is mellow yet the unusual light casts strange flashes of colour onto the oily surface and I wonder if there is change on its way. I hunker down and lift the camera, and a sudden thought crosses my mind. It makes me laugh as I realise that I have my own form of surfing, trying always, always to catch the perfect wave only for me it will be through the lens rather than on a board. How many hours have I spent doing this? And won't the next one be even better? Just one more...

Today it seems less about the waves as they are little more than ripples, but I want that light, that jade green swirled with summer-sky blue like some amazing marbled cake, but as ever it eludes me and I finally realise I am completely frozen, my breath coming out in painful gasps of ice air. Time to head home and rescue poor Lauren.

As I reach the car, I glance over to the lake opposite the beach after which it is named Swanpool. It is solid, the surface a huge sheet of ice on which the birds stand desolate.

Home once more and the day doesn't improve. Ah well, thank you for some precious time alone, my lovely Lauren. Hmm, actually that reminds me...could she be the reason the cake disappeared so hurriedly?

Quite possibly!

Keep warm xx

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Signs of life.

Cornwall glistened this morning, the fields sparkling in the half sun, half shade early morning light. Just beautiful. I don't mind the cold when it is accompanied by such wonderful winter sun...what's to mind when you can at least wrap up and stay dry? It's the seemingly endless rain that drives me to despair, so for once Pipany is not grumbling as she dones her duffel and wellies to venture into the frozen garden on the usual duck/hen feeding mission.

Wonderful still-life all around had me returning to the warmth in search of the camera, the poor ducks barking loudly as breakfast didn't appear to be on my agenda. As I glanced toward them I realised their pond had frozen over yet again in the sub-zero temperatures. Yesterday it took less than an hour after breaking the ice for it to freeze solid once more. All my usual tricks with floating balls, etc had failed to work this time and they sat looking disgustedly at the thick layer on even the part which is four foot deep in water. Ah well, they'll have to make do with their drinking water to play with for the moment. We have actually never had the pond freeze like this before as we only get about one frost a year which causes few problems. Even Cornwall has felt the chill this time.

On round the garden searching for any signs of life. I love the fur coats on the buds of the magnollia stellata. It is covered this year and hopefully the snow white petals are curled tight enough inside to be protected from this cold snap.

Crocuses push through the hard ground reminding me that Spring is not so very far away and that there will soon be little stars of mauve and egg-yolk yellow shining over the bare earth.

The hen pen is for once not a squishy quagmire and I collect the perfect treasure nestled within the straw, one still warm in my hand. I think Isabella and I may bake a cake today using these - coffee and walnut appeals, but then so does lemon drizzle or indeed anything lemony.

The sunlight brightens momentarily and catches the verdant green moss sitting cosily on a log which Isabella and I share when watching the camp fire. The ridged surface of the wood twinkles as the sun lights its frosty covering and the whole appeals to the child in me who would have conjured little stories around such a scene. An ice rink for a beetle? A moss bed for a ladybird? Who knows, but always, always I would hunt out vignettes of hedgerows and gardens to create an imaginary world so much better in my head than the reality I actually had.

I find some daffodils pushing their sturdy shoots up, leaning forward as though desperate for the sun's rays and warmth. I look harder and find more, though yet again I haven't added to the number strewn around and I feel the familiar annoyance. Every year I mean to plant more bulbs, but time always runs away from me. Next year...

A final glance up at the rich branches of the fruiting cherry tree against the clear blue sky and then back into the warmth for a hot drink, thoughts of daffys and crocuses and Spring running round my head. I open the post and find a plant catalogue has arrived....perfect.

Happy Wednesday xx

Monday, 5 January 2009

A magical morning.

After taking Lucy to school for the first time this year, Isabella and I decided to go have a look at the sea before starting the clean up session that is so desperately needed at home. The sky was a soft blue, the January sunlight turning the dirt-brown clouds into a prettier version of themselves with shades of ochre and sulphre yellow. We looked down over Pendennis Point at Little Dennis nestling against the rocks at the harbour mouth as the sky turned darker...

then darker still until the morning light had this amazing look to it...

A handful of ships huddled in close to the headland obviously expecting strong winds at some point, though the air was unusually settled today. As we rounded the Point the light changed again and the sun reasserted itself making these grasses catch our eyes as they waved down to the azure blue seas below.

A fleeting moment of brilliance as the sun faded away once more leaving a magical haziness in its wake, the misty light for which Cornwall is so renowned with cliffs peeping through and shafts of yellow piercing the blanket like some searchlight desperately seeking those smugglers of old.

So pretty a start to the day.

Have a good day xx