Saturday, 29 March 2008

Easter catch up.

Golly it seems ages since I blogged. I'm not too sure what happened, but it seems the holidays started and here we are. One week in and so far so good - it's been fun and restful, busy and creative, family and friends all in fairly equal measures...just lovely. Even the weather has managed to send us some sunshine and warmth albeit interspersed with days of rain. Today is about as grotty as it could be: high winds and endless rain, yet for once I don't feel miserable at the sight as I can see the signs of Spring through the windows and it makes the difference. So what have we been up to? Well, there was this...

Dave made the simmnel cake as he does every year. Originally I was the only one who liked it as the others don't like marzipan (or marchpane as we call it in our slightly pretentious way!) whereas I love the homemade almondy paste sandwiched between the light fruit cake with another thick slab on the top. Unfortunately Lauren discovered that she liked it too, closely followed by Dave and as for Isabella...hmm, no longer is the entire cake all mine.

We made the most of the good weather - Dave cleared our drive and garage which have for the past year resembled the local tip! Car parts (cheers Tom) lay piled on top of various bits of wood, general rubble and rubbish vied for space with broken toys and demi-johns. Lovely eh? Elias, Dave and Isabella did a few trips to the tip and order is now restored; the garage is wonderful to walk through on my6 way to the sewing room and even has beautiful wooden gates complete with lock thanks to Mr Dave.


Spurred on by this activity I gave the front garden the first cut of the year - that gorgeous green smell of freshly cut grass...mmm. The back garden which is much larger has begun to see signs of care - I have begun the Spring clean and the hens have enjoyed the resulting trugs of weeds. The picture shows the view through the boys' bedroom window - the sloe tree is just a mass of blossom now so bodes well for the Autumnal sloe gin making. It grows in a kind of raised bed known to us as Mulberry's patch. Mulberry was one of the first ducks we had many years ago now. We raised him from a ten day duckling along with a white we named Marigold and a Khaki Campbell called Tansy. What a learning curve those dear things turned out to be; I remember Matzen and I sitting for ages trying to encouraage them into the paddling pool for their first ever swim and shrieking with excitement when they finally managed it. Eventually a fox got them - another learning curve with rather more horrendous outcome which I blogged about a long time ago - and we buried them beneath the sloe tree hoping that at least some good could come out of the massacre that is a fox raid. The tree fruits heavily every year rewarding us with the most delicious rich liqueur. Beneath it lies the little wildlife pond I built to encourage newts and toads into the garden. You can just see the marsh marigolds flowering at the edge soon to be joined by water forget-me-nots, flag iris and water hyacinths.

The campfire (which can just be seen by the bucket and axe in the picture) has been fed regularly with prunings and has filled the air with that lovely smell of wood smoke. I do think it is best in the autumn but I love lighting that fire at any time of year.

The rest of the holiday has had get togethers with friends - huge meals and an egg hunt in their garden after which the children piled into a trailer to be pulled around the garden by a ride-on mower. Golly the squeals must have been heard miles away! There has also been a little sewing of course...

an apron for my assistant chef

mob caps for little babies - a bit of an obsession of mine this one. I love the flowery fabrics all bunched up and cute framing babies faces. I am making one for Isabella next as she keeps trying to squeeze her head into these! Unfortunately the light is so poor today I am not really doing any favours photographing these - I
will try again on a sunny day, but at least these give a bit of an idea...

And finally a Haiwaiian shirt for Dave - I know it's a bit shocking and flowery but we do live in a seaside county and these are worn by most men in the summer. Dave chose the fabric - all different types of orchids - and away I went. Just the buttonholes to do and it's finished. I've never made a shirt before so I enjoyed doing this one - Elias and Sam have asked me to make them one each now so I feel I have the seal of approval: teenagers wanting homemade clothes!!!!!

Have a lovely day xx

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Being habby.

First of all I would like to point out that I did not mean to lie yesterday when I put as one of the facts about me that I have seven sisters - I don't, I meant to put that I am one of seven sisters! Maybe from now on I should read through the things I write before posting them? Right, moving on....

All the talk of the sea in that post made me feel the need for a breath of sea air, especially as the sun was shining so brightly. Typically, by the time I had finished working on orders and Isabella was awake from her nap the sun had gently left the sky for a nap of its own, hence the pictures I took are not as vivid as they would have been earlier in the day. Never mind - it was still beautiful to see as the last lingering rays played on the water and Isabella chattered away before we collected Lucy from school.

"I habby," she announced to the world at large, repeating the phrase with the regularity of a toddler pleased with having something new to say. This is the latest in a list of phrases which changes daily and is preceded by such comments as 'not want it, no' when my over-tired little girl feels the need to assert her right to choose (hmm!) and the frequently uttered 'hug me' (pronounced hog me!) whenever she hurts herself, is naughty or knows she has pushed her mummy too far... dear of her.

This latest phrase is the one which has made me think how far she has come in discovering her world. To be habby - or happy for those struggling to understand - is a difficult one to teach; happiness is one of the more ephemeral emotions after all, not tangible in the way that being sad can be as it is so often accompanied by tears or angry if accompanied by a cross voice and matching visage. Though a smile may be worn for habby it is still harder to explain to a child not yet two with limited though rapidly growing speech. Isabella appeared to discover her own habbiness in much the same way as her mother finds it - I handed her a plate over-flowing with cauliflower cheese and carbonara (odd combination I know, but I was desperate for both) and there it was...

" I habby," and she devoured the meal in minutes. Food gave her the key. Bliss. Yesterday it was the sight of the sea that made my water baby habby, again much like her mum and also her dad who is more at home in the water than on land. We drove around a peninsula of land in Falmouth known as Pendennis Point where one of Henry
v111's fortifications sits overlooking the bay and jumped out at various places to explore. The air had grown chill, but it didn't matter as I pointed out St Anthony's lighthouse on the Roseland Pennisula across the harbour opening...

and then looked down at the waves hitting the rocks below first on one side of the Point

and then the other

on toward the seafront where the sun spread its light across the bay like a sheet of foil shimmering as it shook and swirled over the ripples on the surface...

and finally past some determined surfers on Swanpool Beach as we headed back up the hill to Lucy's school.

"Bye boats," Isabella hollered to the ships dotted on the horizon.

"Bye woofs, " to the dogs scampering on the sand.

Glancing in the rear view mirror I could see this little bundle of energy looking sleepy with fresh air, her cheeks coloured by the wind and her hair a mass of windblown curls. Best of all was the look of utter contentment on her chubby face, a look of all being right with her world.

"I habby," she mumbled as she drifted gently to sleep. Me too Isabella, me too....

Have a lovely day x

pics and tagging

I seem to have been tagged a few times for different things by various people and have completely forgotten to do anything about it. Thought i would clear it in one go and have popped in random and a nit bizzare pictures to break up the drivel!

7 supposedly interesting things about me (may be repeating self here):

1. I have seven sisters and no brothers

2. I once said I would never have children!!!!!!

3. My mum has no stretch marks despite having had 7 children and neither do I despite having had 5 (lucky on the one hand, but where is the proof of having carried these gems - oh that's right, I have a little smile of a Caesarean scar from Isabella's birth)

4. I HATE the cold and also HATE weraing millions of layers as I am not very big and feel like the Michelling Man. makes me positively miserable and grouchy, thus I would rather turn the heating up or throw another log or ten on the fire.

5. If I cannot visit the sea regularly I feel as though I am lost. I am a North Cornish girl really and much as I love living where I do on the South coast with its beautiful rivers and coves, I have to return to the wild, rugged North coast frequently to stand on the cliffs in the buffeting winds and watch the waves crash below. Fortunately in Cornwall it doesn't take any time to go from one coast to another.

6. One of my ideas of heaven is to lie under a cherry tree in full blossom with the smell of bluebells drifting on the breeze and the sound of bees buzzing reaching my ears. Another is to stand at the farthest reach of a tiny outcrop of rocks on Breakwater Beach at Bude on the North coast (where I come from originally) in a raging storm with the sea frothing and boiling on either side of me and the lightening dancing over the horizon - just amazing, but I haven't managed this one for years. Could think of loads more as I have many versions of heaven in my head most of the time.

7. I love physical work, particularly in the garden - Dave is the buffer of leaves and pincher out of seedlings while I am the builder of walls and remover of gigantic shrubs. we work well together!

So, that's that tag done; now for the other which I have sort of forgotten the gist of. I think it was 4 things...

4 films I would watch again:
Great Expectations (David Lean's version)
High Society
Room with a View
Some Like it Hot (one of all the children's favourites too)

4 TV shows I watch (don't watch much regularly but these would be there if on)
Hugh's River Cottage series (we have the lot on DVD)
Larkrise to Candleford
Hotel Babylon (yes, I know...)
Gardeners' World

4 Places I've lived
er...Cornwall, Cornwall and Cornwall!!!!
Or... Bude
all in Cornwall!

4 places I've been
Isles of Scilly
Cork in Eire
Lake District

4 things to eat - good grief only 4? Food is one of my favourite topics so this is hard
stew and dumplings
vegetables of any description roated, steamed, raw, in a sauce...
rich sauces, particularly with alcohol added and liberal additions of butter
seafood - bass, lobster, mussels picked fresh off the beach..

4 things to look forward to
warm weather and the beach, garden, picnics.
time with the family in the summer holidays
time to do some gardening
longer eveinings

Right that's it - bored by now I would think!!!

Oh I almost forgot - I am being sent some beautiful lilly bulbs! Jane from snapdragon garden has some going free in her newsletter - if you haven't already read it use the link to pop over; advice on snowdrops and a showcasing of another creative person too. There may even still be some lillies up for grabs!

See you soon xx

Friday, 14 March 2008

Signs of Spring.

Twice I tried to post a blog yesterday but each time I uploaded all the pictures the internet did a wobbly and I lost the lot! Not good for the temper so let's see if it's ay better today. Yesterday rained from dawn to dusk, a grey and miserable day so here are some photos from the day before - a brief look at signs of spring to hopefully lift the spirits a little.

Next, one of the highlights of spring for me is this gorgeous marsh marigold which is just beginning to flower. That sunshiney yellow just glows even on the dullest of days and can't fail to cheer me as I wander through the garden to feed the animals. It grows at the edge of the little wildlife pond I built under the sloe tree, not the best of places perhaps as it's a bit shady sometimes, but it means we can gaze at it when we sit by the campfire.

Further down the garden the Merryweather damson is beginning to flower. I always think of this as a wedding tree with its creamy froth of blossom resembling confetti as it falls in the breeze. Ours sits next to the writing room Dave built himself which I couldn't get a decent picture of for some reason; the windows are so pretty
like something from a Beatrix Potter painting - one of my salvages from the council dump in the days before they sold it off to some big company. No bargains to be had now! The damson branches arch over the windows of the little wooden shed and the view on a sunny day with the blossoms against a blue, blue sky is just pure magic.

Two more before I leave the garden behind; first a view through the magnolia stellata which grows at the edge of the duck pond...

and then a shot of the first tulip to flower in the garden - I forget the name but it is a beautiful cream and green which is supposed to provide a backdrop to the hot red ones - why it is flowering quite this early goodness only knows!

So that was the garden on Wednesday and this was the sewing room on Thursday when the rain poured down on the glass roof so hard I couldn't hear the radio even at full volume - what was I doing? Well, working (playing) of course with these chaps...

Reservoir Babbits?

or The Usual Suspects perhaps?

Couldn't think of a film for this one but I sooo love his ears which just refused to lie down!

Think I need to move them off the shelves and out of sight as I spent far too long playing with them. It's good to be a child sometimes though isn't it?

Have a lovely day xx

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Sunny thoughts.

A few images today of the lovely sunny weather we are having in between the torrential rain in Cornwall - this was Swanpool Beach about five minutes drive from the children's school yesterday afternoon.

Swanpool, as the name suggests, has a large sea-filled pond, a sort of mini-lake, which is separated from the beach by a small road and has many nesting swans, ducks and moorhens on it. There are also killer terrapins! No, I kid you not - apparently so many people have dumped unwanted terrapins in it that they have bred and are quite vicious, known for occasionally nipping the feet off little ducklings as they swim round. Nice eh? This was the tranquil scene yesterday however as Isabella and I used up the time till Lucy's school day was over...

Today is sunny again though the wind is very blustery and cold. I think it must be an easterly as my nose feels like someone is pinching it every time I step outside the door. Makes for beautiful coastal views with whippy-topped waves and flourishes of sea-spray but as Isabella is full of cold at the moment I think I will stay closer to home today. So here are a few images of things that make me smile on this cold Tuesday morning...

a beautiful vase made by Tom for me roughly 16 years ago

a Buddha brought back from China by Dave when he took a group of sixth-formers there for three weeks. They had the most amazing time and this lovely chap with his gorgeous smiley face is a permanent reminder as he sits on the bookcase in the sitting room overlooking us all as we go about our day

and a gorgeous little tulip bowl which I adore. I have become completely obsessed by tulips over the last few years and love so many of the different varieties. It's funny how tastes change as we grow older - I never particularly liked either tulips or dahlias when I was younger and yet now I absolutely adore them both, though it has to be the tall dahlias and they have to be grown in a mass, all tangled stems and colours like so many jewels scattered into the air. Never have been or will be a girl for bedding schemes and busy lizzies! So here is the tulip bowl...

and finally this little minx who I spotted reading Daddy's books in the bedroom...or so I thought; sneaking up I clicked the camera and as she turned at the sound, I saw the pencil in her hand!!!! Oops, hope Daddy doesn't mind Isabella's edited version of Dickens!

Bye for now xx

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Things moving fast.

This pile of lavender arrived today but yesterday was when I could most have used its soothing qualities...

Yesterday was one of those days where little challenges kept presenting themselves. First poor Dave who is currently overworked to the point of ludicrousness due to not only being a teacher of children aged 11 - 18, but also being a teacher of teachers (known as an AST - one of the top 2% in the country she boasts proudly) which involves even more paperwork and travelling to other schools around the county to boot. On top of this he is also heavily involved in whole-school policies as part of the senior management team dealing with behaviour (!) and a number of other areas. Add to this the fact that this year he is doing his Head-ship training, a highly intensive and stressful course which only 5 people in the county have been accepted for and you kind of get the picture. Sleepless nights are many as the challenges of what is effectively the equivalent of holding down four seperate and demanding jobs are beginning to take their toll on my poor chap; he leaves home by 6.30 am to drive the hour and a quarter journey and frequently isn't home till after 7 because of meetings which I think is a bit more than most people could do with. Yesterday he rang to tell me that OFSTED - school inspectors - had rung to say they would be coming in to the school on Monday next for two days and would be only in his department!!!! Talk about the straw that broke the camel's back.

So why is it that as I blearily looked over the covers this morning I saw him clutching a bag containg a sugar thermometer, essential oils and jojoba oil? Well, he cares so much about these kids who so often get labelled by lousy teachers as 'problem' or 'bad types' that he is running a lunchtime session teaching them to mix bath lotions - sounds crazy? Yes when you consider he also has an hour's meeting straight after with the Head and an after school meeting with someone else as well as a full day's teaching; no when you think of what it would have meant as a child, a not always easy teenager, to have someone in authority choose to spend their free time doing something fun with you just because they wanted to. I think he's a star and I love him to bits!

Goodness, that ws a bit of an offload there and probably more than any of you wanted/needed to know, but I feel better for it.

On to other things... a little bit of knitting I started on Sunday for Isabella.

It will be a jacket of soft cotton with a little collar and I have to say that as stress relief knitting can't be beaten! When I have things to mull over I find there are several activities that help - gardening is great, particularly a bit of mindless weeding where I can let my thoughts drift as I work the soil; sewing is good though I do find I have to concentrate more these days as it is not me I am making things for; and then there is knitting which sees me dreamily working the stitches in a steady fashion when I have nothing much to think about, and conversely when I am feeling a little stressed (or better still am really cross over something) sees my fingers flying and the rows growing at an alarming rate! It's a great stress-buster really.

Other good things happening? Well, I completely forgot to post these pictures of something I won through another blog giveaway. This time the blog was called Raindrops on Roses and I won this...

The soap smells of rose geranium and is beautiful, while the bath crumble is a mix of rose milk and oatmeal. I am planning a long soak in the bath for Dave and I tonight so this will be perfect along with a glass of the necessary and some soothing candlelight so thank you x

And a funny - well to me anyway - thing that happened yesterday... quite often when I come out of the front entrance of my sewing room which leads through our dilapidated garage onto a drive, there is a man waiting to collect his teenage daughter from the school. Obviously this only happens around 3pm, but invariably this is when I realise I should be collecting my own children from another school and sort of erupt through the doors scaring the poor man half to death. Lately I have noticed he stands half facing the door, I imagine to try to prepare for my entrance and to avoid nearly dropping to his knees in shock! Yesterday as we all know, the weather was a challenge in itself. I was clutching a box full of Babbit legs, arms, bodies and ears intending to work on them in the evening while I watched some rubbish with the children. I raced through the door and there he was, smile in place as the both of us rolled our eyes at the furious winds in that way peculiar to the Britishzx when a particularly spiteful gust of wind grabbed two Babbit's legs and took them swirling high into the air, twisting them this way and that before stealing them away forever. The man looked at them in wonder then looked at me.

"Babbits," I said.
"Yeah, bugger innit?" he replied.

Well, I thought it was funny...

Have a good day xx

Monday, 10 March 2008

Birthdays and beaches.

Goodness, it's so wild and woolly here this morning that even the ducks have snuggled down by the edge of the pond, heads tucked firmly under their wings as the garden gets beaten down around them. The predicted storms reached Cornwall during the night and show little sign of abating today, almost making yesterday's gorgeous weather a distant memory.

It was little Lucy's tenth birthday on Saturday - I guess she's not quite so much a little Lucy anymore. Dave and I were sitting over our coffee pot feeling a bit sad that yet another one of the children was now in double figures after 25 years of always having one still in single; luckily Isabella only turns two in May so we're fine for a few more years yet!

So Lucy had a sleepover on Friday night with two of her friends, the first time she hadn't wanted a party. The three girls had planned their weekend with military precision and I had made piles of homemade pizzas, rich with slowly cooked tomato and pepper sauce liberally flavoured with garlic and the thinest of bases just as they like them. This was followed by ice-cream containing chunks of cookie dough. Games were played, snacks consumed, music danced to and the evening ended with all three tucking themselves into bed by 10.30 where I discovered them listening to a story tape in the dark as they drifted to sleep - how easy was that!

Saturday morning arrived and all three piled onto the end of our bed to watch Lucy open her presents - the Babbit was a definite hit and has been everywhere with Lucy ever since she tore it from the wrappings. I won't relay the rest of the day as it contained more of the same, but will show the delicious cake Dave made (heusually is on birthday cake duties these days) - please note the beautiful Spode cake stand so poorly photographed due to the bad light!

Isn't it pretty/ Dave bought it for me one Christmas and it has little vignettes of the four seasons around the frilled edge. I will take a better photo another time as the blue is so much more delicate than it looks here. We use the stand for all parties, birthdays, etc so it is very much the sign of a happy gathering.

Sunday was beautiful. Unfortunately poor Isabella finally gave in to the rotten cold she has had all week and was quite poorly. Late afternoon saw us bundling them all into the car for a quick run on the beach to blow the cobwebs away. The sun was beginning to flit in and out of the clouds and the breeze was chilly, but how lovely it was to see groups of students gathered on the sands chatting and laughing. Families were either walking or playing frisby, and the atmosphere was one of cheerfulness and impending Spring.

Back to the car and a drive around the lanes where everywhere the eye fell were bright fields of nodding daffodils. I love this about Cornwall, the way that the field sweep down to the sea, the wonderful yellow flowers standing out against the blue backdrop of the sea; just look at this...

Lucky aren't we? This shot was taken of a field overlooking Nansidwell Beach. From here we carried on towards the place I wrote of before - Port Navas. Typically, last time I didn't have the camera and this time I had the camera but the sun was slowly slipping lower and lower, hence the rather dark shots. Tha lanes wound down alongside the creek overlooking banks of yet more daffodils...

around the narrow basin where the swans were quietly milling around...

and up the other side past the wreck lying on its side until it becomes at one with its watery resting place...


The final spot we stopped at is not done justice by this photograph; it is of a filed studded with daffodils which sweeps down toward the river snaking away into thw distance. Fields dip on all sides and a little copse nestles to one side. We stood in the now icy air of early evening with only the sound of the river birds breaking the silence and not a single house to be seen anywhere, quite a rarity for this tiny county. This is the place I would live if I could choose anywhere in the world, in this field looking at this view where only nature sets the scene. Just perfect.

Hope you enjoyed the journey xx

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Yet more Babbits!

This is a truly quick post today - just some pictures of something I am working on for Lucy's tenth birthday this Saturday in between making up orders - oh and playing trains with Isabella who has a bit of a sniffle at the moment

She is called Babbit (so I finally got to use that name somewhere!). All being well, by this evening she will have a few extras - possibly a hat, some shells and one or two other bits and bobs all carried in her own little bag - just the sort of thing little Lucy loves. Pictures of the finished article tomorrow hopefully.

I have so enjoyed making Babbit that I am thinking I will make some more for the website, each to have their own bag of goodies and a label stating that they come form Cornwall, land of sea and sand!

We really do seem to be overtaken by rabbits at the moment...

Spring must be on its way!

Bye for now xx

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Baby things.

Hurray, the sun is shining and it looks like it intends to stay for a while (famous last words no doubt!). It turned so cold yesterday and poured with rain all day which just made me feel miserable; I am so ready for Spring now and it is March after all. From where I am sitting I can see the buds beginning to break on the crab apple I planted outside the boy's room...well, it was supposed to be a crab apple called Herr Direktor (yuk!) which has beautiful red leaves and blossom followed by wonderful bright red crab apples. I had visions of the boys waking to the dappled light shining through the leaves and little apples reminiscent of a child's drawing, all glossy and perfect. The darn thing has indeed got red leaves and blossom, but so far has rewarded us with cherries rather than apples! we shall see...

Yesterday's pictures of the Beatrix Potter china seemed to resonate with a few people and I thought I would post some of the Bunnykins china Tom received when he was a baby (Pondside, this one's for you!)

We do use it though mostly at times like Easter when all the family are gathered around the table. Dave and I hate things to just exist in a vaccum, sitting in a dresser where they never truly become a part of the family and so even our most precious things are used regularly. How else can they create a history, a family narrative where stories are repeated over and over, and memories built and added to? Of course, the down side to this is that things are occasionally broken or damaged, but unless the damage is too severe we tend to keep and use them anyway. I have a gorgeous teapot Tom bought for us a few years ago which sadly got broken; though we repaired it I was to worried about the possibility of someone scalding themselves if the repair weakened and so we now use it to hold posies of flowers from the garden instead. It still takes it place in our home.

Ther things that are dear to me are also used regularly and can get damaged in a different way, but again it is all part of what makes them special. For example, when I was pregnant with my son Sam (now 18 years) my Mother-in-Law made a cot quilt for him; every single square was stitched by hand, thousands upon thousands of tiny, tiny stitches weaving so much love into every square.

I tried to take a photo which showed its delicacy and failed miserably, so here is a close-up which I hope may do it better justice...

This gorgeous work has sometimes needed a little mending, but I like to think it is what keeps it cared for, my sewing adding to the work of Sam's Granny and ensuring the quilt will be used by the next generations of babies.

Alongside these keepsakes are some projects that were used before they were completed (typical of me!) but I will finish them one day! This is Lauren's baby shawl which I knitted sitting hugely pregnant on the beach. Whenever I see it it reminds me of digging a pit out of the sand so that I could lie on my front with my enormous belly fitting snuggly into the hole!

I still need to make the edging - a knitted picot to compliment the pattern I think - but hopefully I have a little time before it's needed!

And finally today a cushion I ren up at the weekend for the bathroom chair, a Lloyd loom which has seen better days. I thought it was about time I made something for us and chose this gorgous fabric in muted pinks and blues. The weave has that wonderful slubby (made that up) feel of cotton/linen mixes and the colours have that faded beauty that always seems so restful. Unfortunately, the chair is so in need of a fressh coat of white paint that it made the muted tones look grubby! Ah well...

Have a lovely day xx