Wednesday, 21 December 2016

here and there

Here: where the fields were lit by golden light and walking brought peace among the bustle of Christmas. Our focus is on quiet traditions, the things that bring us joy each year ~ the carol service, meeting friends, drinking port by the fire while reading the Christmas issue of Country Life, icing the cake and making Plum Duff for Christmas morning breakfast.

There: we brought the boys to the Planetarium in Armagh to find out about the Christmas Star. It was a magical cosmic journey back in time to unravel the mystery of exactly what the Magi followed to that stable and, as the sun set over the cathedrals we left the city to go northwards to the sea. 

Friday, 9 December 2016

December days

A month of low light levels and candles, Christmas cake for breakfast and homemade door wreaths. I'm trying hard not to get caught in the bustle of it all. We are busy, yes, but making time too for fireside reading, making cards and gifts, seeing friends and, as we recently acquired a projector and screen, planning for Christmas movie nights with the boys...

Thursday, 1 December 2016

first day

First day of December. The car windscreen is completely iced.  Freezing fog is lifting slowly from the fields and lake. I say to the boys perhaps we should have an adventure one morning and walk to the school bus. Back home I light the fire, put my porridge on the stove and decide to make a cake with the fresh eggs my friend gave me yesterday. Her chickens are still laying. I heat the water for coffee and use some of it to boil an egg. Egg and buttered toast - one of the most comforting foods. The advent calendar I made three years ago has been strung up in the dining room. The pouches are filled with gold foiled chocolate coins. One for each of the boys. William says homemade is best. Homemade is best. I nod.  In fact home is best.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

pottering along

I'm not the best planner in the world. In fact I rarely plan anything, which in some respects might explain the state of my life so far. But about six months ago I wrote a list of things I would like to do. This might have something to do with the fact that I am approaching a birthday, not a big-y but a middle-y (in many respects a far worse prospect) and suddenly the time to achieve all these things might, well, be (small voice) running out. Some things on my list (like travelling to Iceland or walking 100km of the Camino de Santiago) will have to wait for next year or longer. But some have been achieved. I am now 7 weeks into an 8 week ceramics course and I can now pinch, coil, slab, build and glaze pots with the best of them. Or possibly with just the rest of my class. 

Sunday, 20 November 2016

sloe sunday

A proper frosted morning. The dogs and I crunched our way through our morning walk and the air hung still and cold. After breakfast we decided this had to be the perfect day to pick sloes for sloe gin. Tradition has it that you pick them after a good hard frost and we knew up the lane there were plenty - the first time in at least two, maybe three years. A bit of extreme sloe picking was in order. We piled into the Landrover and bumped our way through mud and puddles to the overgrown part of the lane, where the spiny blackthorn waited. And there in bright sunshine we picked the dusted purple fruits until one of our party declared he couldn't feel his toes in his wellies anymore and he'd really rather be at home... home we came to defrost by the fire and weigh out the sugar for the sloe gin to come.

Thursday, 17 November 2016


Image result for anne davies artist
painting by Anne Davies

Oh dear. It's one of those days. I need to run away and stay in a little green cabin. I need to sit by the fire, read by candlelight and watch snowflakes softly fall. I need the utter peace and quiet of solitude.

See some of Anne Davies work here

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

quiet time

November skies - grey, cold and with the promise of rain. The leaves are squelching underfoot and the brown-ness of everything can be a little too much. Time for candles and firelight. Toasty warm toes and a winter reading list, music, a glass of wine. Tune out from the world for a bit and re-balance the self. Quiet time is what's needed.

Monday, 31 October 2016


Last day of October. The leaves are turning and falling and the clocks have turned so the darkness falls faster than ever. The pumpkins are carved and later we'll light the fire outside and toast marshmallows. We'll eat lentil ragu and pecan tart. There'll be baked apples with fruit soaked in sloe gin and served with brown sugar and whipped cream. It's the night of ghouls and ghosts. There's a wolf boy in the sitting room and an un-dead cowboy playing Lego upstairs and a teenager (scary in its own right) and I've just spooked myself listening to Short Cuts on Radio 4 - the Witching Hour... happy Hallowe'en!

Friday, 28 October 2016


Just for you - fresh flowers from the garden and the promise of the weekend to retreat to, to wrap yourself up in and to restore your spirit...go gently.

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

October sun

Thank you Mother Nature for October days. It's cold, yes. We light the fire every night. It's time to pull on woollen jumpers and dig out the coats. But the morning light! That burning glow of cosmic energy. And then blue skied days with enough chill to make noses run and fingers tingle.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

morning ritual

It's raining. And with the darkened mornings and it being the weekend we've had a slow start to the day. I have a mountain of laundry that would make even Ranulph Fiennes think twice. There's a sleeping teenager upstairs to be negotiated, gently does it. But first coffee, toast and marmalade, candles and the book that's tantalisingly close to being finished. Perhaps if I stay really, really quiet no-one will notice me...

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

morning dazzle

Who knows why, maybe the hormones flooded my brain at the same time the world turned on its axis, the light in the sky and the mist rising from the land, the stillness of the air, maybe it was just the oxygen fizzing in my bloodstream as I walked up the hill but I felt, how I felt those words of Ted Hughes ~

That morning dazzle stamped every cell in my body 
With its melting edge, its lime-bitter brightness.

The Morning before Christmas, Ted Hughes, River

Sunday, 9 October 2016


After a week of school, work and the usual stress of running to afternoon activities I decided that the woods were what was needed. I made hot chocolate and brownies, threw the wellies in the car and collected the boys from school. We went to our favourite spot where the river makes a gentle meander and there's a fallen tree for picnic-ing on. We gathered branches, leaves and ferns to make boats before unpacking the warm drinks and mugs. We decided to race our boats, whoever got under the bridge first was the winner. Mide crossed the water, hopping over slippery stones while Will crafted his sailing vessel. The river took our offerings and made easy work of my leaves and flimsy sticks. Will fared better - his boat didn't get caught on the rocks and made it to the finish line. We made a woodland sprite for others to find and we went on our way, back through those tall trees who have been here longer than us, past the sloping banks leading down to the water, past the mushrooms and the fallen leaves, up and out and back into our busy lives but so grateful for the woods, the waters and the wild.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

autumn feelings

Autumn means darkening days, finding cosy spaces to curl up with a book, lights on, comforting food (cinnamon buns and porridge with maple syrup, flecked with mixed spice). Grey skies on my morning walk and that sudden sense of bleakness that comes when the leaves fall, although there is the occasional splash of berries to brighten the way. It's cold and windy and I'm thinking about the sloes up the lane. There's a good bounty this year, so that means gin, which bring me back to cosy spaces...

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

what it means

September. One of the most evocative words. It means nightsounds and darkness. Wood stacks and splitting timber. The heavy thud of the axe. It means blackberries, pies and jam. Tea, endless tea. Dark skies and shadowed fields. It means school. And hometime treats of bread and jam, hot chocolate and marshmallows and sitting outside while there's still light.