Thursday, 28 May 2015

watery sounds

Water on the land, water in the sky, water waiting to fall as rain, water in the puddles, on the leaves.
The lake brimming and sloshing like a too full cup.
Water on the brain.
Listen. Close your eyes. Listen.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

in the landscape

Sometimes I can fuss too much. Children needing showers, bedtime needing to be observed, dishes to be done. And sometimes I am wrong and need to go with the flow. And last night the flow lead us to the lake with the boat and dogs. It was raining but only that gentle rain that really can be ignored if you're distracted by other, more interesting, things. The boys were buttoned up in raincoats and life jackets and the boat was duly launched and oars taken in hand. Now, there's only so much room in that little boat so I stayed in the Landrover with the binoculars and H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald for company. Sometimes I get a book that just hooks me, straight away from the first page and this is one such one. It's nature writing at its very best as it leaves your spirit soaring, your mind full of glinting goshawk savage beauty tethered by the grief in the writing. It was perfect reading while sitting there watching the rain on the windscreen blurring the boys, the lake and the sky. Eventually they rowed back to shore and it was time to dry the dogs and head home, back to showers, bedtime and dishes but all the better for being on the water, in the landscape, in the rain.

Friday, 22 May 2015

golden clouds

falling leaves
autumn light
confetti leaves
Oh no! A new thing to fall in love with! These gorgeous beaten brass hanging mobiles are the work of Japanese metalsmith Kanehen, and were commissioned by the ever fabulous The Shop Floor Project. The names of the pieces are so evocative ~ summer clouds, falling leaves, confetti leaves, cloud pruning, autumn light, stones, water....I can just imagine them twisting and catching the lovely!

'From her studio in rural Japan, Kanehen hand-beats brass, nickel and copper into functional and beautiful everyday utensils, sculptural button and stunning mobiles - the latter inspired by cloud formations and falling leaves. This is the first time the artist’s work has been shown outside of Japan.' 
The Shop Floor Project

water II
And after all that ethereal beauty there's also practical, household pieces ~ copper spoons, salt dishes, scoops, buttons, cake slices. View the collection here. What a wonderful gift they would make!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

cloudy with a chance of...

Really there's very little doing here. The days have their routine and it rarely changes. There's work and school and home and dog walking and all those other mundane (essential) parts of life. Sometimes I wish things would pep up, just a bit, but mostly I like life just as it is. Dark clouds and all.
We seem to be having an unbelievably cold, wet and windy May. But apparently some chap in New Zealand has said it'll be alright and next month will be better. You could sniff at the thought of the chap in New Zealand predicting the weather but I'm thinking I could do worse than a) believe it and b) get a hold of The Walker's Guide to Outdoor Clues and Signs by Tristan Gooley and find out for myself what my local environment is trying to tell me. But even I know what those big black clouds mean....

Friday, 15 May 2015

good enough for me

This week has beetled along and now we're facing the weekend. It has stayed cold, windy and wet and I had to really make myself get up and out for my morning walk to the lake as it was just so miserable. Needless to say I enjoyed it in the end, especially the little roadside clumps of bluebells and dainty white flowers.

These chilly days are punctuated by lots of time baking in the kitchen ~ fruit loaf, bread, cheese and herb scones, sticky date squares, a celebration cake (filled by special request with chocolate ganache and mini marshmallows) as well as sensible and nourishing pots of warming soups. Of course the boys love this and it gives me a lot of pleasure to see them enjoying it all. Our evenings are spent in a comfortable huddle in the warm sitting room where there's reading and game playing and the odd bit of squabbling to oversee. It is sometimes hard to remember the value of these small things, to hold on to the fact that being here for them, just being their mum and doing 'mum' things like sewing on Scout uniform badges and reading their bedtime stories is good enough.

Monday, 11 May 2015

squally showers

There are clouds in the sky. Clouds (with rain, not those high, wispy, friendly ones) and lots of cold wind. The wind blows up suddenly, bashing at the windows and makes me run around the house closing them frantically. The rain is trying to get in. No, it really is. It's hammering at the doors and doing that sneaky rain thing of seeping. What the heck is going on? It's May. May!!!! for goodness sake (shaking fist at the sky).  Where are the blue skies, the swooping swallows (well, actually I know where they are - shivering in the shed next to our house), the frothy swaths of cow parsley? Is this just here? Has May forsaken us? Is she dancing and dusting other places with sun speckles and pollen? Grumble.

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

May reading

Not one, not two, not three, but four books for May. Yes, I know I'm showing off a bit. But I can't help it. Now, two of these are quick reads so they barely count, right? And one is a children's book. So we're really down to one proper book for May. Phew!

The first is Carson Ellis's book Home. I love Carson's illustrations and this book is so sweet with homes of Slovakian duchesses, Kenyan blacksmiths, Norse gods and babushkas all in gorgeous painted detail. 

Next up is Sitting Still Like a Frog by Eline Snel, a book about mindfulness for children designed to help with anxiety, difficulty sleeping, kindness, breathing calmly and generally coping with stress. 

Then there's Fox Encounters in the Wild by Jim Crumley. Foxes are among my favourite animals. We have plenty here and I love hearing that eerie bark coming from the woods behind the house or, like the other night, from our garden. This is a slim book - just about 60 pages - but I'm really looking forward to reading it.

Finally there's Gladys Mitchell's Speedy Death. Written in 1929, it features Mrs Beatrice Adela Lestrange Bradley, unorthodox amateur sleuth whose name alone deserves a prize. 

Before I start with any of those I have to finish Mr. Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms. I know this is a classic, I know it's based on his own experiences in WW1 but...but I'm just not enjoying it as much as I'd hoped. 

****Joining in with Circle of Pine Trees A Year in Books****

Monday, 4 May 2015

the best of things

Ceramic by G Warne

Ceramic by G Warne front view

Ceramic by G Warne
Oh my. Love, love, LOVE the handpainted ceramics of Georgina Warne. Just look at that swallow backed ewe and the butterfly covered hare. These are truly beautiful pieces of art and Georgina's work is influenced by nature writers like Robert Macfarlane, Roger Deakin and Richard Mabey- writers much admired in this house.  I love pottery and ceramics in all forms, perhaps because they translate so easily into daily life. Having a favourite hand-thrown cup or bowl or plate is something that brings pleasure with every use. And I can't imagine the pleasure that would come from having one of Georgina's wonderful ceramics to gaze at **sigh**
Ceramic dog by G Warne

Ceramic by G Warne
My Pinterest page here has lots more favourite pottery and ceramics if you'd like to take a look and go to Georgina's website for more of her ceramics, drawings and prints.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

cake for a cold day

It's like winter here. A cold, cold wind is whipping about the house, the fires are lit and the lights are on. Time for a little comfort baking. The boys pretty much eat any kind of cake and this one is extremely simple and quick to do. It's an old fashioned kind of cake, one which is especially nice with a cup of tea. The aromatic caraway, with its distinctive flavour, is used here in what is basically a plain cake. The recipe is from The Home Cookbook by Monty and Sarah Don.

::Seed cake::
150g butter
150g caster sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons caraway seeds
200g self raising flour, sifted
1-2 tablespoons milk

Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4. Line a non-stick loaf tin (15 x 10 x 7cm) with parchment paper. Cream the butter and sugar until they are light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating in well after each one. Add a little flour if the mixture looks curdled. Sprinkle in the caraway seeds and then gently fold in the flour. Add the milk to loosen the mixture and then spoon it into the loaf tin. Bake for about 45 minutes until the top is golden and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool for a while before turning out on a wire rack to cool completely.

Friday, 1 May 2015



Happy May Day! Even though it's now well into Spring and the garden really is bursting out and growing madly we've had some seriously un-Springlike weather...thunder which shook the window panes, hail from the blackest of skies, icy wind and rain and oh, you get the picture. We are battling on though. Most mornings see us having our toast and coffee outside (me usually shivering in coat and scarf and him saying isn't this lovely). But yes, it's getting more lovely and to prove it I picked a quick garden posy (white daffodils, euphorbia, purple tulips, willow, forget-me-knots and hellebore) for a friend who thought that was very lovely. So here's to a very lovely month of May!