Sunday, 14 January 2018

winter skies...

I can't pretend this is my favourite time of year. I'm not great at cold weather and endless bleak grey days which don't lift the spirit much. But we do have some lovely skies - and the lack of daylight has one advantage inasmuch as I am more likely to catch the sun setting or rising. In the depths of December I feel as though I go to and from work in the dark and barely see a ray of light but just in the last week or so I have noticed the mornings lightening a little bit.

Believe it or not, this first picture was taken last weekend, about 10 am as I walked into the city, looking across the market towards St Peter Mancroft church. Loved the light in the clouds. It poured shortly after this - but for a few moments it was beautiful.


And a week later, a little after 7.30am on the way into work, definitely not still completely dark. It was very cold, with an ethereal freezing mist, which didn't clear until the middle of the morning, that made Waitrose car park look slightly eerie.


Today, I spent a few hours tidying up my courtyard garden. It is so sheltered that it never catches the frost and everything starts shooting sooner than out in an open garden. I uncovered early snowdrops just beginning to flower, crocuses, hyacinths and a few daffodils pushing their way into the light. Spring colour not too far around the corner...

S x

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Another year begins...

This year seems set for a new series of challenges. Perhaps that is the reality of life. Maybe all we do really is negotiate our way through 'life events' - some good, some less so. I guess it is how we allow those events to shape our emotions and responses that dictates whether we can feel positive about them.

So, in an an effort to remind myself that even when things feel a bit bleak there are beautiful, funny and poignant moments I have resolved today to try to capture more again - both thoughts and in pictures as we meander through 2018. I feel I want to freeze frame some memories, just in case the sands of time run away...

Today, Mum and I took a trip to nearby Blickling Hall to breathe some crisp winter air and wander round the winter gardens. Although this has never been my favourite NT property, there is no doubt that it is a stunning building, with beautifully kept gardens and some fascinating stories and secrets in the fabric of the house and its contents. I always wonder what visitors to this mansion, built in 1620, must have thought as they arrived at its imposing front entrance...


I'm not sure I quite know what to make of the stars adorning the neatly clipped hedges or the somewhat surprised looking twiggy reindeer either side of the path in the main garden...


...but I suppose they are a bit of harmless festive fun, if a bit starkly contrasting to the rather imposing house with its royal connections.

Although it was cold today, it was very still and the view across to the lake was very peaceful...


I have been to Blickling many times before but don't think I have ever visited the walled gardens before, where the original grandeur is being gradually recreated with fruit espaliers, rows of productive beds and greenhouses. Of course, the winter kitchen garden is a bit sparse and we decided, come what may this year, we will endeavour to return regularly throughout the year to see the changes through the seasons.

But even mid-Winter, a strip of chard threw a bold splash of colour in the low sunshine...


So today...I am thankful that we could walk in the sunshine, admire the fastidiousness of the walled garden and tread the boards walked by Elizabethan ladies and gentlemen, imagining them sweeping down the imposing staircase in impossibly uncomfortable (but undeniably elegant!) grandeur. And that, even after many visits, we learned new things about the ageing of textiles and the lives of the staff running this place as a grand household even in the 1920's. That we could warm up over a bowl of soup in the pub on the estate and enjoy the bliss of no mobile phone signal for a few hours! Then laugh about the flurry of incoming messages as we rejoined the mobile network half a mile down the road! 

Note to self...remember the proper camera next time! Which is another thing to be thankful for - at least the phone is a substitute!

S x

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Middle of the night musing...



Time has a habit of racing by doesn't it. And then there are times when something makes you sit bolt upright and question the sanity of a life that races from one overpacked hour to the next.

I don't think I have worked out how to juggle the necessity of mortgage, bills, supporting family and doing the best for the people I care for at work. There is no space left to invest even a scrap of energy in anything else.

Yesterday morning I was looking out of this window before taking my mum to a routine screening test - admiring the early winter sunshine across her too big garden that she adores and is struggling (fiercely independently) to manage. I wandered round her house wondering how on earth we will ever persuade her to make this place easier for her to remain in at some point 'in the future' and glad that we don't have  to think about that yet. 

We watched the birds together, spotting goldfinches, chaffinches, every type of tit plus the usual blackbirds, pigeons and a cheeky robin. We tried to work out what (and when!) to get those for those last few people for Christmas and we even had a token dabble at thinking about sunny breaks next year. 

Then in the space of a few hours the routine had turned into something much more worrying. Suddenly my idle early morning musings come sharply into focus. We might need to think about major surgery, a long recovery... we might be looking at less time... 

So I have been awake most of the night - trying to keep my practical 'one step at a time' head on whilst my realistic head, with years in the NHS 'knowing too much', is churning away in the background. 

I have no idea what the next few weeks and months will bring. I know that my poor mum is going to have to go through a myriad of tests and treatments, and will resent hugely the intrusion of illness on her life. I know that I will need to help her, and the rest of my family, negotiate the system and understand the language of health care. I don't know how I am going to add this to the spinning plates without dropping at least one.

I hope that we will come out of the other side still thinking about a glass of something chilled in the sunshine...

Take time to breathe the stillness of a crisp winter morning today. Look closely at those you love and imprint them in your mind and your heart. The world is a very uncertain place.

S x




Sunday, 11 June 2017

Loving early summer...

My little patch of courtyard garden has gone mad. Everything grows like crazy and it is so sheltered that it seems to be a few weeks ahead of more exposed gardens. I was lucky enough to be given this little table and chairs so it has been lovely to have some warmer days to sit out here and enjoy the abundance of early summer flower.




The roses are incredibly vigorous and much too big for this space really but they are so fragrant and flower so well I can't quite bring myself to lose them. I keep hacking them back and they seem very forgiving!

While I was out there this busy bee landed on my leg and was there for ages. I only had my phone camera and he spent most of his time with his furry back end pointing at me but eventually turned round! I wished I'd had my better camera to capture the moment.


Believe it or not I really cleared a lot of this patch earlier in the year but you wouldn't think so!


I love the sunny California poppies...


They seem to have seeded themselves everywhere but I don't mind. Their tissue fine petals seem to just glow in the sun between the lavender...



The roses are a peachy pink in bud and then get paler as they open. They smell beautiful.


Last weekend I took myself for a walk through mid Norfolk countryside. This is just past Buxton Mill - so peaceful.


Norfolk really isn't as flat as it is made out to be...OK these are not hills! But the countryside here does feel like it is undulating away from you...


 The hedgerows are full of briar roses...


Tucked away at the bottom of the lane is the rather lovely Little Hautbois Hall...


Love this garden rambler 'escaping' too the sunny side of the hedge...


The River Bure flows through here but there are lots of cuts reflecting the skies between the fields...


The path took me across a field with a 'cattle' warning. I was quite glad this hefty beast was behind a fence!


I don't think think this path is walked much. It took me through a tunnel of trees and shrubs...



Sunny buttercups in the meadow...


Heady elderflower opening in the hedgerows...


On the other side of the river is The Bure Valley steam railway line. You can't see it easily here...


But then the engine obligingly chugged into view!




It was a beautiful day and so pretty...


This is Oxnead Hall - I didn't even know this was there...


There was a huge pile of logs stacked by some woodland - I like the patterns and colours...




Blue skies, fluffy clouds and reflections. What not to like?


And as I arrived back at Buxton Station trains in both directions passed. Something very nostalgic about steam trains.




Hope you are enjoying this time of year too.

S x

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Bank holiday 'up North'...

On a whim, faced with another 3 day weekend (I never imagined I would dread these long weekends but at times I do - the inevitable sense of family/couples stuff going on serves to highlight those of us not in those kind of relationships!), I visited a friend in beautiful Yorkshire.

Hadn't entirely anticipated the bank holiday/first weekend of the school half term traffic which made a 3 1/2 hour journey take 5 hours and there was a twinge of irony leaving scorching sunshine and 26C in Norwich to arrive in Knaresborough as the heavens opened with a torrential thunderstorm! 



It wasn't cold though, and once it brightened up we went for a wander round the town and beside the river. Knaresborough is a pretty little town with lovely open public land - covered in buttercups at the moment...



It was lovely to catch up with a dear friend over a glass of wine...


My friend belongs to a walking group and on Sunday we joined them at Sutton Bank National Park Centre for a 12 mile walk. It started a bit grey and blustery but the pace was brisk so there was no time to get cold! And not much time to take photos! But you can see for miles from the path along the edge of the escarpment... 




And I couldn't resist more buttercups...


As we walked, the skies cleared and we all shed layers as the temperature soared. The sense of expanse of countryside up in the hills always takes my breath away...


And this area rightly claims to have stunning views...


Beautiful place to stop for lunch...


I love the lush green of these hills and the contrast of the terracotta tiles on the cottage roof...


The hedgerows and meadows are full of colour at this time of year - the last of the bluebells, pungent white flowered wild garlic, yellow buttercups, pink campion and white hawthorn blossom... 


Delicate fronds of cow parsley...


Towards the end of the walk we came through a village with pretty stone cottages...


...before a welcome cold beer in the pub in the nearby village of Sutton-under-Whitestonecliffe. I rarely drink beer but this was a very welcome half!

In the evening we headed to Leeds for a night of entertainment at "Trouble at Mill' night of comedy and music - the headline of the night was Tom Wrigglesworth who is a regular on Radio 4 comedy shows and lived up to expectations. But the spellbinding act off the night for me was a 'speed painting' artist called Dave Sharp who painted this huge canvas in a matter of minutes...

 
Initially it wasn't obvious who the subject was - he paints with two brushes and his hands with such energy and the first few brush strokes look entirely random, then suddenly it became clear. So clever. And he was auctioning these paintings this weekend for the victims and families of the Manchester bombing. Check out his work on his website or via twitter... https://twitter.com/DaveSharpsArt Amazing to watch!

Good to do something different for a couple of days, back to work with renewed energy tomorrow maybe!

Sx