Friday, 28 September 2012

A week in pictures...

Thank you so much for leaving me such heartfelt comments on my anniversary post.  I wrote the post last week and scheduled it to publish while I was away for the weekend. What a treat to come back to lots of lovely comments!

The last seven days have been filled productively, so in the spirit of continuing with my online journal, this post will be photo heavy and short on words!

Sunset on Chesil Beach, last weekend


Coffee at somewhere rather special in Axminster

Fishing off the beach. Check out the concentration!

Fresh mackerel for dinner

I managed to squeeze in one last camping weekend, in Dorset. The mackerel went from sea to plate in less than an hour. Hugh would've been proud of me!  We had two sunny days and a final day of persistent rain, but hey-ho! I got a very soggy tent dried at home eventually.

Getting dressed up on Wednesday...

... to attend a luncheon at Wadham College, Oxford University for Women of the Year, raising awareness for The Mulberry Bush School

I was thrilled to have been nominated for this fund-raising lunch. I thoroughly lapped up the experience and tradition of the day and was entertained afterwards by Emma Bridgewater and Dame Catherine Wybourne. I'm struggling to describe how it felt to be sat amongst 160 women. I felt very honoured, yet hugely welcomed.

There has also been a meeting of minds from a friend who I 'met' on Twitter, a bit of cooking, a bit of coping with decreasing pain medication but not a lot of crafting. Yet. I'm dying to get back to my sewing machine or knitting needles. This weekend, though, the garden is calling to me to finish off some jobs and do some general tidying after the wild and windy weather of the last week.  Have a good one, whatever you may be doing.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

A five year anniversary...

:: the patchwork of my life ::

Who knew when I first started writing this blog that I would be able to maintain the momentum of it continuing for five years? And yet here we are today, marking that very anniversary.

It has been my place to record the minutiae of my life and has brought me many unexpected things in return: wonderful friendships, a sense of community, a passion for crafting and being creative, intensified by the joy of sharing.

I like to think of it as a colourful space and one that reflects my outlook on life. It is ridiculously obvious from a mere glance through this blog where my passions lie. This year, more so I think, than any other, a huge focus has been on my garden. The colour I add outside is interpreted into what happens inside. Having said that, my garden, like the inside of my home isn't necessarily a riot of colour in all its permutations, but instead I like to add punches of it now and then. And that is a good thing as there have been periods of intense darkness, as regular readers will understand.

This blog also gave me a taste of how it feels to write about the things that are important to me and through it I found the confidence to write about how it felt when Tom died enough to be able to embark on a soul-searching journey that ended in the publication earlier this year of my book. Sometimes my posts require few words and at other times, I find that the words are flowing freely and my fingers are moving swiftly over the keyboard. I like that often, my photographs speak for themselves and I have never felt more inspired to capture elements of life and have them all in one place.

This chair that I re-upholstered (freestyle as I went along, using one of my favourite fabric collections), now has pride of place in my kitchen. It has become quite a talking point and one that I have been nagged (you know who you are!) about blogging about on many occasions. So it finds itself here, in this post, and reflects exactly what my blog and the whole blogging experience has come to mean to me: the patchwork of who I am and what I like (and don't like), in all its mismatched glory.

You never know what the next post will contain. I never know! I just mosey along and when the mood takes me, I blog.

So there you have it. Sort of in a nutshell. I am hugely proud of this space and long may it continue. Who knows what it will become? I have the inkling of an idea in my mind about perhaps taking my crafting to another level so the focus might change. I hope not too much. Onwards and upwards!

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Weaving with willow...

If you follow me on Twitter, you will have the heads up on the most fabulous of days I had on Tuesday when I found myself in deepest, darkest Cambridgeshire learning the art of weaving willow.

When Celia tweeted about a skills swap she had done with Debbie of Salix Arts, I found myself, along with Mrs Dottycookie and Mrs Silverpebble, getting enthusiastic about it to the point where a workshop was arranged especially for us.

We were blessed with a crisp sunny day and soon were completely immersed in the task to hand. There was barely a whisper, which is very unusual for when bloggers meet!

Debbie is a fantastic teacher and we were quickly on the way to creating with this wonderful natural material. I knew I wanted to make a plant support for the garden so having been given a quick tutorial, things began to take shape.

I'm not sure if you can tell from the photo above, but there are a couple of different weaves happening there - the middle section being a fence weave. I loved working with the continuous amount of willow that you just added to as and when necessary to create a flowing design.

I think it is possible that my favourite part of my structure is this knot that secured all the ends together. Isn't it beautiful?

I love the natural ends of the willow so much, I couldn't bear to chop them off.

So here is my ta-dah! I'm not entirely sure I will want to cover it with foliage next year and so I'm thinking I might just have it as a focal point somewhere in the garden.

Oh! And there was cake!

Thank you so much, ladies, for yet another superb crafty, bloggy day xx

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Sowing Saturday in pictures...

Autumn sowing of my hardy annuals - DONE.

Just a few packets of seeds then...

...girlie gardening gear, always helpful...

...gently forking over the beds...

...taking care not to disturb self-seeded plants...

...being shamelessly ruthless in removing excess plants... reveal patches of bare earth ready for sowing...

...around the last of the sunflowers...

...knowing that I've still got flowers to come... abundance.

A Productive Day

Monday, 10 September 2012

Whichford Pottery...

One of my favourite jobs in September is planning what bulbs to buy for some eagerly awaited spring colour. It is no secret that tulips are my all time favourite flower although this year they have had a run for their money with some of the wonderful cut flowers that I have grown.

I have learnt so much about growing this year from the people I have 'met' on Twitter and so I couldn't wait to go to the bulb sale at Whichford Pottery that Harriet had given me the heads up on earlier in the summer.

In a serendipitous moment, I realised that the pottery was just a few miles away from my bestest friend and so I booked myself a room with her for the weekend and armed with my list, off we went.

Whichford is a slice of terracotta heaven. I think I have in excess of fifty or so pots/crate/containers in my garden but I came away thinking I could never have enough. The entrance to the pottery lures you in immediately with its archway of pots and I was instantly in love with Harriet's planting. Why on earth have I never thought of planting dahlias in pots?

The courtyard garden was fabulous. I particularly liked the display with succulents in tiny pots surrounded by gravel. The planting was so different from the usual suspects that I always feel uninspired with at the garden centres and nurseries that I visit. It was an absolute feast for the eyes.


Having ooh-ed and aah-ed in the courtyard, we made our way into the yard that housed the pots. I was literally like a kid in a sweet shop. The studios were open and we had a nosy around and a chat with one of the potters who talked to us at length about the process of making pots using moulds and then hand-finishing the designs. I said she must have the best job in the world and her face lit up as she agreed!

After having purchased our bulbs in the marquee we had time for tea and cake - always a Very Good Thing.  My thoughts on some things have done a complete u-turn: I would normally say that I couldn't stand begonias, but look at that beauty in the cake photo. Next year I will definitely have a couple of them somewhere on my deck.


I have pinned all the bulbs that I am planting for next spring to keep me going through the dark days of winter ahead. I will be looking forward to some other bulbs that I have not grown before too. For now they are all tucked away in the cool of my garage until I plant them in November.

It's not all about looking ahead though. My garden is still supplying me with just the right amount of cut flowers and I hope it will continue for quite a few more weeks until it is ready to be put to bed for the winter.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Right now...

  • I'm wishing I could get on with some crafty-type things but my right hand is still feeling very odd and uncomfortable due to the pins and needles from that trapped nerve. I am starting physio next week. My right arm feels like my left one! Do you know what I mean? It can do things, but not properly. Awkward. Let's look at the evening sun shining on the cosmos instead.

  • My new eagerly awaited magazine fell through my letter box yesterday. Have you heard? Do go buy it, it is an absolute delight. The production is fabulous and the styling, well too stylish for words! I took advantage of the brilliant subscription offer of the first three issues for a fiver. It's still available, I think.

  • There was only one place to sit and read it at my leisure - the hammock. The simplest of pleasures. Made even more special by being surrounded by the birds coming down to the feeders, for their tea. The tits and finches are not put off by the thuggish behaviour of the parakeets. For the first time this year, I also saw a pair of Nuthatches coming to feed on the sunflower hearts - what a delight, one of my favourite birds.

Checking me out!

  • My new hens are settling in nicely. Still a bit timid but they are getting used to me going in the run each day with lettuce or some other kitchen scraps treats. Last week, my skyline hen started laying and has presented me with the most gorgeous of blue eggs every day since.

Violet, my Bovans Nera hen

  • I made a sour dough loaf and had a delicious lunch of poached eggs on toast. This has become a little tradition of mine - to poach the first eggs. 

  • It is the simplest things in life that give me the most pleasure. What's yours?