Friday, 28 January 2011

What a Grump.

It is Friday, my most favourite day of the week with all the anticipation of lie-ins, a jug of coffee on my dressing table and the children at the end of our bed as we eat buttery toast spread thick with tayberry jam. It is the day of the week I generally spend with a cheery smile never far from my face, yet today I feel disgruntled and out of sorts. Why? I have no idea which makes me feel even more disgruntled and deeply annoyed with myself for spoiling my best day.

All felt wrong from the moment I opened my eyes in the dark of another icy morning: Isabella's school uniform was covered in cholcolate mousse from the night before, the one night I hadn't chased her to change out of it on arriving home from school, and I had forgotten to actually turn the machine on. A quick wash first thing and into the drier which, needless to say, turned itself off for a reason known only to itself, leaving her jumper a sodden mass and me racing to find an alternative.

Oh, for heavens sake I am even boring myself with the dullness of this tale. Suffice it to say, this is pretty much how the day has gone so far and I am grumpy despite the joys of having completed my tax return, the joy much depleted by the nonsense of having left it so late in the first place!

I suspect much of my mood is due to the weather, the cold having returned with a vengeance and the flatness of the light muting all colour from around me. I am cold despite wearing many layers, a condition I am very poor at putting up with. I have drunk too many cups of ground coffee and eaten too many sugary doughnuts in an attempt to chase the grumps away, three having been scoffed this morning alone. I feel vaguely grubby as a result.

I suppose the most obvious reason is that I have a course to go on this weekend which means I will not be around for most of the fun. I am a chronic creature of habit when it comes to my home, jealously guarding our time together and perfectly happy with the doors closed on the world outside (blogland excepted of course). I practically have to be shoe-horned away from the house and am notoriously bad at arranging things with friends, not because I don't love and value them, but because I am so happy in my home that it doesn't enter my head to change things.

I am never bored here, can always find things to do outside of the ordinary houseworkey things and revel in our little, somewhat shabby - ok, very shabby - space. So, perhaps my grumps today are because I am forced away for a few days, leaving Davey to the fun of having the children all to himself, something he loves too. It is strange how many people seem to find this daunting and draft in others when they are alone with children for a few days. Most odd to the both of us really, but I suppose we are all different - how terribly (un)profound Pip!

I think they are planning to make marmalade...without me...sighs deeply in despair.

Ah well, I shall return in the evenings to hear about their days and scoff some toast and marmalade; it may not be with them all at the end of our bed, but it will be fun nonetheless.

Fortunately, these days my grumps never last as I truly have little to be grumpy about and shall give myself a good talking too forethwith.

Normal cheeriness will be resumed on Monday x

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

This & That.

Oh the joys of end of year Tax Returns. Yes, yes, I know I should have done it before now, but there are so many other things far more interesting to do aren't there? It could have been worse as I discovered I was almost up to date which had completely slipped my mind. I like a nice bright file to cheer things along, not to mention a cuppa and one of Lucy's gorgeous biscuits.

She made a batch of these last night, informing me that the different sizes are so that you can choose a small one if you are not so hungry - because that happens a lot here! - or a large one if it's a long wait till dinner. Seems good reasoning to me.

Now the weather is improving a little and there are new shoots of nettles growing in the garden I am craving cups of nettle tea with its wonderfully earthy aroma and almost soup-like taste.

I can practically feel the good of this cleansing drink and find it a bit more satisfying than some of the other herb teas, though I also love mint tea made from the new leaves of the peppermint plants just outside the kitchen window. How much nicer it would all seem if I only had this tisaniere I have been hankering after for ages now from Sarah Raven. Isn't it pretty?

A quick visit into the sewing room this morning unearthed these gorgeous fabrics from the piles falling off the shelves and I was smitten with a desperate need for some dressmaking. They were given to me by a dear friend, one of the many who help my fabric fetish along, and they are suggesting spring skirts to me. My mannequin - Myfanwy is the name she goes by and I can hear Diana snickering from here - thinks they would look good on her too and so I really must find a pattern soon.

Well enough of my ramblings and procrastinating. The books must be completed and the form filled in ... oh, hang on, I can hear the ducks barking outside the kitchen window. Better feed them first and then maybe a quick look round the garden to see what's new or perhaps I'll bake a cake or pop the washing on....

Hope you have only lovely things to do today...sigh x

Monday, 24 January 2011

Dreaming of Days to Come.

We have almost finished the last of the three Christmas puddings and very lovely they were too. Christmas is behind us and the beautiful weather of the last week has brought spring ever closer. Dave and I spent a blissful few hours on Sunday beginning the post Christmas clear up of our garden and discovered so much growing beneath the covering of leaves, making me itch to start propagating and cutting back.

The mass of seed heads we left over winter to feed the birds is now being added to the compost heap, the parade of goldfinches and coal tits having moved away to more interesting food as the season gets going once more.

Not only are the earliest of flowers, the delicate snowdrops with their purest of white nodding heads, beginning to open

but tulips are also pushing their stubby leaves high above ground. The more debris I cleared, the more drifts I found which makes me feel somewhat better about the fact that yet again I didn't add to the bubs as I intended, the autumn/winter rush of orders making any garden work an impossibilty.

The purple petals of the arabis beneath the sitting room window are already opening and plenty more buds are tightly furled promising a pretty display later on in the spring when the drifts of dainty saxifrage open alongside.

How ever, much as we have started to wreak a little order on the neglected garden, there are many areas yet to tidy. I really should turn the compost heap as we are already adding more to it. The whole area needs a clear up as pots and buckets have been left there since the summer and now it all looks so bedraggled.

Of course, Dave and I are spurred on now we feel back in touch with our patch. I love to browse through the catalogues, bathing in the glow of the inspiring images within the glossy pages.

Sarah Raven particularly concentrates on fantastic photography and curled up by the fire I like to imagine our garden looking a little like this ...

which of course it doesn't. I will say though that over the years we have created rather beautiful swathes to look out on, pretty patches such as this tangled mass of lychnis, lupins and ever-manic nasturtiums.

We have made a large duck pond with an old fruiting cherry gracefully arching its branches over the pond and scattering confetti petals over the murky waters beneath.

In summer bright orange marigolds seed in any gaps and lift the green of the yet to flower lupins

and clumps of chives are everywhere, used in salads and posies with equal fervour.

There are all kinds of herbs growing through the perennials such as lemon balm, oregano and my favourite golden marjoram which looks so amazing when grown with lavenders or marigolds.

Gorgeous never-ending forget-me-nots with the prettiest of summer's day blue petals and surely the prettiest of names.

It's a garden where hens often escape to wander free (to peck and wreck)and the sound of ducks splashing and diving mingles with the sweet songbird always present;

where there are fruit trees and bushes of all kinds to provide us with the makings of jams and puddings and a number of alcholic beverages to boot. The children pick their own apples for packed lunches, grazing on red and black currants, scoffing juicy tayberries, and enjoying crumbles and pies made from our rhubarb and gooseberries.

It is a garden that changes constantly and provides a home for all manner of wildlife from newts to hedgehogs. It gives us vegetables and salads, a place to sit or for the children to play, flowers to fill the house with nosegays such as this

and although I had not intended to visit it in quite this way today, I am so glad I have. It is all just around the corner and the fun begins again! x

Friday, 21 January 2011

A Bit of News!

I was recently awarded the Stylish Blogger award by the lovely Jenny Arnott - yes, she of the gorgeous embroidered textiles - and though I don't usually do awards because I am notoriously bad at thinking of anything to say, I will give this one a go because I have never been called 'stylish' before!

I have to tell you seven things about myself, so apologies if I have made these facts known before, but here goes. The photos are old ones too as I haven't left the sewing table to take any new for a few days. Shoddy really, but do keep going to the end as there is one fact none of you will have known - ooh, the suspense!

1. I have a love of fire. This can be the crackling of logs in our pretty Arts & Crafts fireplace, watched with a glass of wine in my hand and pleasant dreams drifting through my head or it can be in the form of a massive bonfire in the campfire we built in our garden. I love the smell, the sound, the warmth...everything about it and can be somewhat dangerous if left to build the fire as I get a little carried away. This seems to be something I inherited from my Dad who would walk a long way to see a barn burn down! Eldest son Tom is similarly afflicted too. I would like to point out we don't actually start such fires, merely are drawn by them.

I am one of seven girls and have seven children myself ranging in age from almost 28 to 4 years, have given birth five times (work that one out) and have been lucky enough to be present at the births of two friends' children where I was the first after the midwife for cuddles. I also have masses of nephews and nieces, godchildren plus ducks and hens. Oh, almost forgot the cats.

3. I love Cornwall with a deep and lasting passion. I love its soft and gentle south coast as much as I yearn for the wild and elemental reaches of its north coast were I grew up. I love its meandering rivers and hidden coves, the wild moorland of Jamaica Inn fame, the woodlands where streams and gullys trickle and which are bordered by bright fields of daffodils. I love its history of mining and the harshness of the reality this brought both to the lives of the Cornish and the landscape it scarred, the engine houses and chimney stacks still prevalent almost everywhere you look. Quite simply I love it all.

4. (Struggling already here). I like a challenge and seem to start quite major projects when I have a baby. For example, I did a degree in English Literature and Media Studies when Lucy was a baby and I also had three other children. I also started my business when Isabella was less than a year old. Neither of these do I recommend doing as a path to an easy life!

5. I am totally hopeless at just sitting and always have to be doing something. I usually have knitting or sewing to hand, a book or a magazine to read and have to be positively forced to go to bed if poorly. I am also rubbish at asking for help as I just get on with things so it doesn't occur to me. Hmm, fiercely independent may be a good way to describe me though I am getting better and will actually ask Dave for help on occasion. At Christmas he was a dab hand at stuffing Christmas hearts and cutting out. Come to that, most of the children helped out too!

5. I have read all twelve of the Poldark novels by Winston Graham and feel as though I know the characters intimately. Forget the TV programmes and give these wonderful novels a go. Graham truly writes with a beautifully poetic style, underwriting key events in a manner that allows the reader to place his/her own imagination in the scene which always allows for a much deeper imagery. They are beautiful, wistful and just wonderful books.

6. I have a fabric fetish which gets fed by friends and family. Fortunately, I do actually use it in dressmaking projects such as this dress for Isabella and numerous other guises. I love sewing for us and wish I could find more time for it, though I am lucky that my work means I get to work with threads and designs and fabrics.

7. And I have saved the best (and quite possibly the only interesting one of the seven) till last:

our lovely daughter Matzen is having a baby girl and she is due at the end of May! I shall be Granny Pip at the grand old age of 47 and I can't wait!

So, there you have it. Have a wonderful weekend x

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

How Chocolate and Knitted Pants!

It came - the sun shone, the sky was indeed blue and my spirits have lifted because of it. Beautiful, healing January sunshine has been here for the last two days and what a difference it has made. The littlies and I came home from the school run in cheery mood and decided mugs of hot chocolate were called for.

Of course the whole thing turned into a giggle fest once I produced the camera.

I don't think Isabella could physically fit anymore of her face into that mug, though by golly she tried!

Apparently I have an Elvis quiff going on, so Lucy informed me. Hmm, I can sort of see what she means, though I would like to point out this is due to the oils I have been unable to wash out from a Christmas pressie massage I was lucky enough to be given and which I had yesterday afternoon. Seriously, how many hair washes does it take before I stop looking like a grease ball! Oh but it was blissful, surrounded by warm towels, lying on a heated bed and drifting away as my poor muscles were dragged out of their mangled state, a hazard of leaning endlessly over the cutting table and being chained sewing machine.

I am planning a little knitting this evening as a change from sewing, but how I wish a new project was waiting in my basket, not this darned thing.

Ah well, I am pleased to report that progress has slowly happened on the Davey hooded jumper front with the hood being made as part of the back construction thus...

Oh, now I have looked again at the photo I realise it looks as though I am part way through knitting a pair of pants for the poor chap. I would like to point out that this would not work on so many levels and is truly not something I could see myself being able to wholeheartedly endorse. Of course, should you wish to have a go then far be it for me to stand in the path of creativity (and please do forward pics of the finished garment, preferably not being modelled.)

Ok, so a larger picture hasn't helped and you will just have to imagine the hood construction until such time as I actually complete it. The whole thing now looks like it has an additional willy warmer and has lowered the tone of my erstwhile tasteful (!) blog, so I shall swiftly move on and leave this topic I so wish I hadn't started. Lucy has discovered there is no more hot chocolate in her mug and therefore teatime must be calling.

Have you had sun today? x