Monday, 16 February 2009

Half term so far.

Thank goodness for half term holidays. What could be better than lazing in bed with a delicious pot of coffee to hand, pile of gardening books at the ready, chatting away about what the day may bring? Spring is in the air today and the early morning sunlight has that wonderful hazy quality which hopefully promises a chance to be outside. Dave has been heading up to the allotment early each morning to dig over beds ready for the copious amounts of manure collected from friends with horses. He takes our hen Discovery with him so that she can spend some time in the ark he made to sit over the beds, foraging for slugs and snails, and hopefully scoffing the eggs which suggest an onslaught later in the year. It is so funny to watch them set off down the path each morning towards the car. Still, things are moving forward and the garlic is already growing away, shoots beginning to appear on the blackcurrants.

Here the garden is festooned with little drifts of yellow crocuses, their starry flowers taking centre stage until the daffodils are ready to shake out their skirts. In the meantime a jug of bought ones cheers the room bringing sun even when none is present. Delicate sprays of pale blossom dress the winter flowering cherry, a small tree as yet bought for five pounds a few years ago from the scrap pile at a local garden centre. It has served us well so far, bending its graceful branches over the duck pond in an attempt to pretty this sometimes less than beautiful area and it makes me laugh when I think of how I once viewed this pond as a thing of beauty, its banks graced by swathes of flag iris, bullrushes and a tangle of other water-loving plants. These plants now border the little wildlife pond I hastily built once I realised the naive error of my ways, racing to dig out clumps of water hyacinths, forget-me-nots and marsh marigolds before the ducks had devoured them completely. Sometimes I do wonder at my blind optimism!

Other good things about the first days of the holiday? Well, bizarrely I would list work here, but as I like being busy perhaps that's not so surprising. I love what I do and so the idea of working in the holiday is not a problem for me and is a necessity anyway as orders don't stop just because children are home. Sketching has taken over where previously I have struggled to pick up my pencil for some reason completely unknown to me. Suddenly the banks are broken and I find myself scribbling into my sketchbook like one possessed, anything and everything becoming a still life to my eye, the shades and shadows, the play of light on surface, all of the possibilities and how to translate them have begun to occupy my mind and it feels so good to be back in the flow again. Tulips particularly appear on the page ... no idea why, but there they are. A break from business work came int he form of this cushion made for Lucy's friend's birthday. It is a lot cheerier than the dull light allows it to look and has a mix of applique and hand embroidery which doesn't really show here. Most fun to do.

So, two days in and card games have been played...

walks on the beach undertaken...

sock knitting with lovely friend Diana as we chatted the time away (and Diana, I messed up the toe decrease BIG time!).

and a lovely valentine's meal of mussels picked by my dear Dave after a long day at work. It is not alwyas easy to find time for each other with a family this large, but we do try to make the effort where we can. With the prospect of only having a toddler who is always tucked into her bed by 7 o'clock and no other children around for a change we decided Friday would be Valentine's night. Without me knowing, Dave drove to my favourite beach on the north coast, a drive which takes 40 minutes from his work place, and clambered over rocks dressed rather innappropriately in a suit as waves crashed all around (wild coast this). By the time he arrived home - a drive of one and a half hours - I had almost given up on him, thinking he had had to work late yet again. Not only was I given this lovely gift, but he also gave me three smooth stones collected from the same beach on the advice of a gypsy who had tried to sell him some flowers in the beach car park. His reply to her offer of flowers was a shake of the head. Apparently he told her he wanted to give me the gift of three wishes, to which she replied that he was a romantic and would need to collect three pebbles that called out to him. When I am ready to make my wish, I choose the one which feels right, say the words she gave him and throw the stone back into the sea as I make the wish. How perfect is that? I do love that Dave makes so many special moments for me. And no, I will not be wishing for ridiculous things as that is not how Romany magic works!

Well, having shared that little story with you and no doubt mortifying Dave in the process, I will now take me off to sort the greenhouse which currently has no walls.
Have a good week xx


  1. Gosh, you've been busy!! They're gorgeous. How are the socks. Mine turned out too small, my daughter has size 4 feet and they still didn't fit her...

  2. So pretty Pipany - really cheerful - love the yellow flowers. Emma x

  3. The romantics are in full force at your home, Pipany, and that certainly sounds lovely.

    Your post is full of quirky images, like that of the two gardeners on the way to the allotment.

    Please do keep that sketchbood at the ready. There is so much inspiration all around you.

    Just beautiful, all of it.

  4. What a fabulous present! I thought the three smooth stones from the beach were a good idea even before I heard they were imbued with Romany magic. How romantic. I hope your wishes come true! I love the story of the chicken travelling to the allotment too. Sweet.

  5. What a happy and fulfilled lot you all are - and how your happiness tumbles off the page, whether it's flowers or sewing or children and the Romany's wish. A lovely blog to read after a hard day.

  6. You have sun, you have crocuses! You are weeks ahead of us up here. You sound so happy and fulfilled. I love reading your blogs just for that!

  7. oh, Pip, you really do have the loveliest life - viewed from afar!

  8. Mmmmm -everything I like to read about - children, hens, food and romance! Perfect!

  9. Wow. That was a beautiful post Pip. Lovely photos as usual. How lovely is your man - the pebble magic brought a lump to my throat! I can just imagine him clambering over the rocks for you. Isn't half term the best!

  10. Scrambling over rocks wearing a suit after a day at work to find dinner for your lady love, now that IS very romantic. What a lovely hubby!! I hope your wishes come true.
    Twiggy x

  11. Oh what a darling you've got there! That's a fantastic story.
    Hmmmm, fresh mussels, beats the box of after eights thrust at me hands down!

    Enjoy the rest of your week.

  12. There is nothing nicer than mussels freshly collected, they taste so sweet.

  13. Oh what blissful start to half term! And how wonderful of Dave to go searching for mussels for you (he hasn't got a nice tall charming available brother by any chance?!!). Love the pebble story too.
    And how's the sock? Are you on number two? Hope we can meet again soon...

  14. I loved this Pipany. The photos and your words as beautiful as ever. And to crown it all a truly romantic story of the three pebbles. That would have won my heart!

  15. Lovely blog, lovely pictures - sounds idyllic!

  16. Beautiful post and pictures, I adore Mussels, and the embroidered cushion of happy days is gorgeous.!

    What a lovely romantic man you have Pipany, hope your wishes do come true.


  17. Wow - what I would give to have a romantic like that as a partner! Came close once, and he was very hard to let go of, but I had too...(now therein lies a long tale!). They're one in a million, men like that. You are very lucky. It all sounds lovely. And yes, I still envy you the beach, every day. That pic of Isabella and the soft sea and ship beyond is divine. I could smell it all. Can't believe you have daffs and cherry blossom already. Our snowdrops have only just started to come out!!!

  18. Ps: that's 'to' not 'too' in the previous comment! (sorry, bit of a pedant over these typos!). Also, would love to know which is your favourite beach on the north coast. I have my favourites there and I'd love to know if they are the same as yours...