Sunday, 15 April 2018

Spring, anyone...?

I have been trying to be very strict with myself about unnecessary purchases but today the desire to have a bit of Spring won...


This has been a particularly miserable weekend and even my go to baking therapy was something of a disaster so I needed something cheerful to look at. I was experimenting with eggless lemon cake for a friend but mine looked nothing like the photos on the website! I suspect its that old issue of US measurement conversion - I appreciate for those familiar with it it must be a simple method but for those of us that don't have a supply of 'cups' (even assuming you can work out what size cup exactly you are supposed to be aiming for...or how full/packed etc they are) it has always struck me as a particularly haphazard way to bake and so much messier than scales! Give me ounces (or ok...grammes if we have to) and a very basic set of scales, tablespoon and teaspoon and I am fine.

Rant over. If anyone knows of a good, reliable and impressive eggless cake suitable for a birthday cake (and a recipe a middle aged Brit can interpret!) do let me know... :-)

S x

Saturday, 31 March 2018

a long winter...

A somewhat belated post... but it feels like the cold weather is endless this year. A few weeks ago the sky was blue so, desperate for some sunshine, I took myself for a walk up on the coast. Looks were deceptive though - there was no warmth in the air and within a few minutes my eyes were watering and my hands so cold I could barely use the camera!


Cley Mill looked lovely across the marshes though...


...and the low sun lit up the tidal pools...


The path was icy but a patch of snowdrops gave promise of Spring on the way...


...and then within a few days winter was back, with a vengeance...



My leaky gutter issue became a bit more apparent!


but my friendly robin was happy to take advantage of a bit of unwanted fruit cake...



The snow didn't last that long really but it is still mostly wet and cold and a walk into the city today was a fairly dismal affair, guaranteed to make me want to retreat to the warmth of my living room and curl up with a book...


Definitely ready for winter to be over. Beginning to feel like a hermit...
S x


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