Monday, 31 January 2011

little things...

Sometimes the little things are the best.

Today, we (son 1 and I) spent a couple of hours in the city - a little bit of birthday shopping, a little bit of woolly shopping and a lot of chatting.

Feels as though we haven't done this for ages and it was so nice to spend a bit of time with my first boy, who has so quickly become a truly lovely young man.

We talked of dreams and hopes, laughed about family quirks and just 'enjoyed'.

Delicious strong coffee and dark, sticky ginger cake in my favourite coffee stop, and a Choice of gluten free cakes for B! Always a cause for excitement, although definitely more common now than it used to be. (he went for cherry and almond muffin, by the way, and proclaimed it delicious)

Cold, bright winter sunshine lighting up the catkins on the hazel tree...

It looked like it was dripping with gold tassels; winter treasure.

The rest of the day was consumed with usual 'day off' tasks - cleaning, washing, cooking, sorting bills etc - not so enjoyable in themselves but a definite sense of achievement when the house is  clean, the finances are as in order as they'll ever be and the beds are made up with fresh, smooth sheets...

Which is exactly where I am off to now...


Sunday, 30 January 2011

panto season...

Oh no it isn't! Oh yes it is!!

At least it is in our neck of the woods! Or rather was - today was the last day of the 3 week run of the local am dram production of 'Mother Goose' and we went along this afternoon with R's cub pack for the annual dose of very Local fun and entertainment. Terrible jokes, inappropriately placed songs and some seriously dubious acting! But there is something incredibly endearing about the familiarity and ritual of the panto - the same characters appear each year and the ad libs are always topical and intelligible only to those who live in the vicinity so there is a certain sense of belonging. And it is impossible not to laugh so you do emerge (after 3 hours seated on the less than luxurious church hall chairs!) with a feeling of having been uplifted.

Ridiculously, it also made me feel decidedly emotional - I seem to be prone to tears at the slightest provocation these days and I can't even really say what it was that set me off today! Maybe the enthusiasm and commitment of everyone form the ladies that manage front of house to the teeniest of the dancers? Maybe the fact that I can't quite believe that half of the cast are now young people that I can remember hearing read when they were 4 and 5 year olds in reception? I don't know... but all in all an enjoyable afternoon.

I have to just show you this...

I am aware that this might appear to be something of an obsession but I just can't quite believe that at last I have something that might be beginning to be an established Snowdrop Clump! I am up to a grand total of 10 now! Not much, I know, but more than 3 times any previous year!!! Wish I had a better camera, this in no way does then justice - they are really pretty little flowers with delicate green tints to the white petals.

And these...

...were my little treat for the weekend. The light today has been dreadful again so these are in the light of the halogen bulbs in the kitchen which alter the colours somehow, but they are truly cheerful. I am actually feeling quite pleased with myself because the tulips were half price and the chrysanthemums and carnation were 'recycled' from last weeks bunch! (This is me trying to justify flowers which R is not convinced count as an Essential - I disagree!)

We are doing our best to do Frugal Living for a bit - this has meant living out of the cupboards as much as possible (apart from fresh fruit and veg) and has been remarkably liberating. To my surprise, the significant reduction in meat consumption has barely raised an eyebrow and the men in my house tucked willingly into lentil dal tonight with what I can only describe as enthusiasm! Whether tomorrow's kidney bean lasagne will be so well received has yet to be seen... Personally, I could happily live without eating meat at all but I can't be doing with cooking different meals and don't feel I can deny my meat lovers all the time!! I am hoping that if we are a bit careful for a few months we might get back on track - a combination of a few big car bills, extra gas bill (we have no mains gas and LPG is soooo expensive - cold weather not good for so many reasons) and expensive Christmas and New Year (lovely houseful of people but they all wanted feeding and watering!) has rather left us scraping the barrel in terms of cash flow.

I am currently waiting to go and collect son 3 from the 'post-panto' party and trying to resist the temptation to whack the heating up - its frosty out again tonight and a bit chilly indoors now the heating has gone off. I have been enjoying the cosiness of my growing big ripple blanket...

It is slowly growing and big enough now to add a bit of warmth while I hook! I promise the colours don't look so dingy in reality.

I am also resisting the temptation to indulge in a little sloe gin...

Doesn't that just look inviting?!! I have made sloe gin in the past but this was some given to me by a lovely lady that I used to look after and is a gorgeous ruby colour. This was last night's little tipple and was lush! Its probably a rather bigger 'tot' than I should use for sloe gin... but I love this old glass, and it was Friday night and end of a mad week...

One last look at my flowers before I go to collect son 3...

I do LOVE flowers!

Til next time...


Thursday, 27 January 2011

laughter is the best medicine...

Just a quick post... just back from team 'Christmas' do! I know it's the end of January but life was so busy in December we just couldn't find a night we could all manage. And actually, having a night out in bleak January was something to look look forward to, it can be such a long grey month.

Now, working in a heavily women dominated environment has its pros and cons - there are times when a bit of balance wouldn't go amiss and our little team has its share of minor conflicts. But on the whole we all get on well and we have laughed and chatted for a good couple of hours over good food and a nice glass or two of merlot, to the bemusement of the rather officious waitress (who I'm sure thought we were all barking when we wished each other Happy Christmas!). Definitely good for the soul.

And does anyone else feel that a sneaky money off voucher makes you feel smugly pleased? Ages ago I rather inadvertently signed up for vouchercloud - LOADS of bargains to be had! A whole lot of stuff I never want to use but quite a bit that I have used. 40% off tonight!!! Fab!!!

Plus... a couple of sneaky confessions about things coming up next month that are exciting... Girl's Weekend Away, weekend after next - we have done this every year for about the last 16 years and it is bliss! The group has varied a bit over the years but the format is essentially the same - wine, good food, laughter and a bit of 'activity', very little washing up and no other demands. Can't stress just how recharging this is!

I am harbouring a bit of guilt over my other Exciting Prospect... for the first time ever I am going away (as in Properly Away!) with a girlfriend for a whole week in Morocco. We have 6 days walking in the Atlas Mountains and a couple of days in Marrakech. I am sooo looking forward to it - a chance to see somewhere completely different and well away from home and work, no chance of a sneaky email 'catch up'...

Will take photos and let you know how I get on!!

Now, think I'd better do a bit of calming hooky ripples!!!


Monday, 24 January 2011

monday blues...

Don't really know why but my slightly jaded feeling persisted today.

In spite of...

...unexpected card from R. I thought we'd agreed not to do anniversary cards in the light of the post-Christmas economy drive (and we've never been great at cards anyway) - now feel suitably guilty that I didn't reciprocate. It all just feels a bit like papering over the cracks...

But I love the bright flowers on this card.

I had a short day at work today so, on a whim as the sun was shining, decided to head to the village I grew up in and where we were married 24 years ago today.

Never a good idea. Not sure what I was hoping for... to resurrect a few feelings maybe? An indulgent trip down memory lane? But so much has changed - the village looks tired and overcrowded with extra houses built in every possible space between their neighbours. The houses I always thought of as the big 'posh' houses look a bit tatty round the edges. Even the church seemed a bit run down and unloved...

In fairness, presumably whatever is happening to the porch is intended to make it look better but today I couldn't find any happy feelings here. In fact, I just felt nothing

It was a nice bright day, so I did take a walk through the village (probably not a great idea - wretched leg sore again now) - but I don't know if it was me and my memory playing tricks, or just because the place looks so different, I really struggled to find the footpaths I used to walk on. I'm sure it used to be possible to walk alongside the railway but there seem to be houses there too.

Don't think I shall go back there. 

In an effort to find the small things that brighten life I went to the river, I have always loved the sunlight on the water.

And this did look lovely with the winter sun low in the sky.

Consider this day over, I think. Gawd help us, Silver wedding next.


marmalade and marriage...

Today has been a mixed one... finally got around to cutting up the oranges and making them into marmalade - strangely tedious and satisfying at the same time. I don't have the luxury of a food processor so the chopping all had to be done by hand and it took ages!

Half way through...

Nearly there...

What I really needed to be doing today was making some progress on my dissertation... I have a deadline looming and am really not enjoying being a part-time student at the moment. There is so much else to be doing... but I thought I could think about it while I was chopping and then crack on while the peel was cooking.

Only I kept finding my mind wandering off from 'pulmonary rehabilitation in fibrosis' to the origins of marmalade! I wondered who and when first starting cooking orange peel with sugar and discovered it was so delicious!

So when I sat down at my laptop, I had to have a quick 'distract' to satisfy my curiosity - the internet is a marvellous thing, amazing source of instant information but oh so easy to side-track yourself! Anyway... I discovered that marmalade, of sorts, has been made for hundreds of years - initially with quince or apple and was a thick sweet concoction that was stored set in boxes and served in slices! The preserve, as we know it, was a late 17th century creation - fascinating! Thanks to Baking for Britain for an interesting diversion into the history of marmalade. Actually, I got quite distracted by this lovely site - full of yummy things and a bit of QI style background info to boot!

I have been making marmalade for years - my mum always made it (and still does) and I have never found a shop-bought version that comes anywhere near the homemade for flavour. It has to be said I have had mixed success over the years - it always tastes good but sometimes we have had orangey toffee like marmalade and sometimes you have to have a steady hand and level bread to avoid a sticky lap! Sometimes it has been perfect and I think, at least in part, it has been down to trying to do too many things at once and not really concentrating on the job in hand! This year I followed the method of a colleague from work, who says his 'recipe' (not much of a recipe - no quantities!!) has been handed down from his scots granny. His marmalade is delicious so I thought i'd give it a go - his advice was to cut the fruit up before cooking and then to cook for a loooooong time in not too much water, so that when you add the sugar you don't have to boil for long to get to setting point. You end up with a really bright, fruity concoction.

So we now have 15 jars of sunshine in a jar! Plus a bit - why is there always just a bit more than the number of jars you have warmed? Still that gave us a bit for tasting - and it is yummy, although not the most set ever. There is just something so pleasing about potting up homemade preserves and I love to see them all lined up in my store cupboard! Bit sad I know...

Post-marmalade I did make myself do a bit of research but still have yet to get anything properly down on the page, which is beginning to make me stress. I seem to have lost my motivation for this degree - I have enjoyed the opportunity to stretch my brain cells and I have learnt loads but... right now...? I just want the course to be over with if I'm honest. It won't gain me anything bar the personal satisfaction of the qualification (which is not to be sniffed at I suppose) and I am finding it harder and harder to get into it each time I come back to it. It must be great to be a full time student and be able to be very focussed on your course and assignments (plus have time to BE a student!) - I just feel as though its another thing to squeeze in.

And the other odd feeling today has come from knowing that tomorrow (oh, today now!) - 24th Jan - is my 24th wedding anniversary! Not at all sure how I feel about that! It doesn't seem possible that we have been married that long and have 3 grown up children now but it also feels so very different to the way it did in 1987! At that stage, we had hopes and dreams for the future - now the future feels a very uncertain place. If I'm honest, I'm hoping tomorrow will just come and go without any fuss as I'm not sure I can manage excitement in any great measure. 

Oh and I did manage to squeeze a bit of daisy blanket time in -

Loving the happy feel of this blanket - which might be the best place to end today's post...


Wednesday, 19 January 2011

signs of spring...

It was very frosty again first thing today but undoubtedly the garden is beginning to come to life. Filling up the bird feeders today, I noticed...

Five snowdrops! I could barely contain myself! This is the garden record!!! And...there are a few more shoots coming! Could we possibly be heading for A Clump of snowdrops this year?!!! Watch this space...


...a sweet little patch of primroses. A little fragile from the frost but green and a small bright splash in what can only be described as a rather sad looking garden. Makes me want to go and clear dead stuff away and uncover all the new things trying to peep through but I know from past experience that they quite like the protection of last years old growth so I'm going to leave it be for now...

The hazel tree has suddenly grown catkins...

These catch me out every year as they look like last year's dry old remnants for ages then suddenly, when you've just glanced away for a moment, they have started to grow and look bright and fresh and quite improbable. But certainly a hint that spring is on the way.

My final treat for today was a little bunch of fresh flowers...


And all well with this small corner today.


Monday, 17 January 2011

dizzy about daisies...

I have developed something of an obsession...

My unintentional foray into daisies has quite distracted me from the big ripple (and at least a bit from the wretched leg) and definitely from the long list of 'Other' things I should have spent my Sunday doing!

I realise now I had been a bit of an eejit - having spent some time fiddling around trying to get my daisy circle right (and feeling very pleased with myself too!), I got stuck trying to turn my 12 cluster circle into a square. Several attempts and several lots of frogging later I turned to Attic 24 for inspiration and discovered ... hexagons - my daisy circles are the basis of Lucy's hexagons! I am pretty sure I've read this pattern before so guess the look of it had lodged somewhere in the recesses of my brain - so now not feeling so clever at all as not only could I have saved myself alot of puzzling (although in all honesty, I quite enjoyed it!) but I wasn't really trying to make hexagons!

Thought I'd give it a go and see whether this felt like the look I was going for:

Mmmm...well, I do like the hexagons, and at some point I think I might have to deliberately give them a go, but what I had in my head was really a fixation with making that circle a square, so I kept fiddling and eventually...

Now if I have absorbed this from one of the lovely blogs out there, then I apologise right now, but it feels as though I am making this blanket up as it goes along. 'Another blanket?!' was the rather bemused cry from my collective house of men but it just felt the right thing to do and I am enjoying this little daisy mania just now.

It's a bit like a puzzle - I decided to do fairly random sizes and fit them together like a jigsaw puzzle.

I'm quite in love with these daisies and today have added another 9 smaller squares around the big one! I am a little worried that my asymmetry might end up with some fudging somewhere along the way but as I am going to run out of yarn well before payday, this is going to be a problem for some time in the dim and distant future. I couldn't quite stick to my single edging colour though - the raspberry pink is such a gorgeous colour and I have always been a sucker for a bit of lilac (age about 10 I had lilac walls and 'emperor purple' painted bedroom furniture! No idea what happened to the bookcase my mum spent ages painting!).

To appease the harrumphing from himself, I baked cakes today - always guaranteed to make me feel like I'm being a 'proper' mum and to please the masses. Flapjacks, brownies and the oddest chocolate cake from Sue Lawrence's Book of Baking which I have looked at for ages and wondered about. It is made with almost a can of coca-cola - not something we usually have in the house but post-Christmas/New Year we still have all sorts of things I would sooner were gone so seemed a good time to give it a go. Surprisingly good...seemed the general verdict! Flapjacks are a bit of a staple in our house - gluten free (son 1 was diagnosed with Coeliacs disease 20 years ago, but thankfully can now eat oats) and easily portable for lunches. Only problem being the chances of these cakes lasting a weeks' lunches looks pretty remote...

Perhaps I'll have to squeeze another bake in mid-week - such a shame I'm back to work this week...


Saturday, 15 January 2011

green shoots and empty nests...

Son 2 went back to uni today. 

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm very happy he's there and loving it and has grown enormously in confidence in the 18 months he's been there. After all this is the boy who struggled to achieve his potential all through school and was very nearly not going to apply at all. He did and it's been the making of him.

And...if I'm honest, having 3 grown up boys, two of whom have been living pretty independently, under one roof has its drawbacks! The food bill, the washing, catering for varying numbers largely by guesswork...

But, I wouldn't have it any other way of course! I love them all being around, I love the fact that they are establishing their own opinions and views on life and the world and I like their company, even if we don't all agree all the time! 

And when they go...'s not just their rooms that feel empty.

Worse today, because I would normally do the run back but because of the wretched leg driving 400 mile round trip seemed a bad idea, so his dad has taken him. And son 1 & 3 are both at work, so the house is sooo quiet.

So I have Been that always seems the best course of action to distract the mind. I have been washing, hoovering, changing beds and even washed the floors while there are no feet around! All of which brings a certain satisfaction but now the wretched leg is hurting again so have retired to the sofa for a cuppa and a bit of hooky time.

I had hoped it might be a nice day today - we had the most stunning sunset last night...

 so I was hoping for "Red sky at night, shepherds delight..." but no - more of the same dull, grey skies. It is mild though, and not raining so I feel I shouldn't complain.

And, on my little wander round the garden I did find these...

I have never had much joy with snowdrops. I put them in when we first moved into this house and over the last 17-18 years they have managed to move themselves from in front of the apple tree to in front of the plum tree (about 6 feet! I presume they must have had some help...) and I have never had more than 3 flowers! This year there are a few more shoots coming up so we'll see! But even these 3 are sweet - pity I couldn't get a better shot. (am really going to put a better camera on my birthday wish list this year!).

And then I spotted...

This window box lives outside the living room window - I know it looks a bit dingy and the bedding plants have definitely had it but there's no denying these are Green Shoots and that must mean spring is on the way! Hurrah!

And I did start the day with JUICE!

My juicer had been moved out of the kitchen before Christmas and somehow hadn't made it back but spurred on by a bowlful of slightly tired looking fruit that the boys have been ignoring for a while I reinstated it this morning. I appreciate this may not look that appealing but it was YUM! Tinglingly fresh and invigorating - just what I needed. Combination of carrot, apple, pink grapefruit, satsuma, celery, cucumber, orange and ginger with a handful of leftover blueberries thrown in for good measure. Delish!!! Note to self - must try harder to get back into regular juicing. The problem is... it is a faff. Don't believe anyone who says it takes no time - it does! Unless you have someone to prepare the fruit and veg for you and wash up the machine, then it is a palava - and on a working day I simply cannot get up half an hour earlier to make juice (plus the motor on mine is so noisy, I would be VERY unpopular if I started making juice at 6am!!!). But it is delicious and feels like a Healthy thing to do so I am going to try to at least use it at weekends.

And the plus of having the house to myself is that I can indulge in some nice quiet hooky time - ripple blanket update...

I had been having a few qualms about this blanket - not quite sure if I was in love with it enough to have it in my bedroom but now I've tested it in situ I feel happy with it again. You can see it is a biggy - it hangs well over both sides of the bed - long way to go yet!!

Finally... I've really enjoyed looking at other bloggers seasonal views so thought I would do likewise and try to capture a mid-month photo of my garden. This is the view I see if I stand at my living room window...

Not much colour here just now, but I'm looking forward to seeing how it changes through the seasons.


daisies and distractions...

I woke up this morning with 'An Idea'...just a little one, I think prompted by a couple of things...firstly, one of the stylecraft colours was jumping out of the bag of yarn at me and although I love it as a colour (bright, buttercup yellow-gold - in fact, my kitchen is painted this colour), it just felt 'not quite right' for my big ripple blanket.

It doesn't show very well in this photo, the light has been so dull and grey here again today, but believe me this is one bright yellow and I already have one quite zingy yellow in there.

Plus...I realise I have the concentration span of a two year old, and where I can happily sit and ripple a few rows of an evening after work as kind of rhythmic 'therapy', being confined to barracks and pretty much stuck on the sofa with my dodgy leg up has meant that I could legitimately sit and crochet for several hours. Great! (I thought) but much as I like the satisfying row by row progress of the ripple, I got b-o-r-e-d, to the point at which I kept making stupid mistakes in the counting and having to frog and redo bits yesterday.

So, this morning I decided to activate my brain cells and try to work out a pattern for a daisy - I already had the bright yellow-gold for the centre, and found a bit of white yarn lurking in the bottom of my bag. I think this yarn was baby yarn that I knitted a bobbly hat which all three of my boys wore as newborns so must have been lurking for 22 years or so (I am a terrible hoarder...).

The end result was a daisy circle!

I am ridiculously pleased with myself for this little circle! What do you think?! 

I have faithfully copied other people's patterns before and worked out designs from photos but this is my first stab at working something out for myself and it was surprisingly gratifying to do!

I didn't get what I wanted straight off...

I tried a simple granny square first, but although the colours were right, it didn't feel like a daisy to me - wrong shaped petals and just Not Right. Several attempts with different numbers of stitches ensued and I had Not Quite Flat, Not Quite a Circle (twice!) before getting to just what I had in mind. This feels a cheerful little circle to me - I love most flowers but particularly like the simplicity of things like daffodils, primroses, daisies - all those natural, unpretentious blooms that just brighten things up without needing to be nurtured. I love the daisies in the grass in the summer - a view not quite shared by himself, who has that peculiar male obsession with the grass being just Green.

Anyway, 17 and 20 year old sons (T & S) humoured me by dutifully agreeing that my final attempt was the most daisy-like and I happily proceeded to work a little pile of daisies.

This little pile was very quick to work and worked their brightening magic on me. I don't quite know what to do with them yet...I will certainly do a few more and thought about making them into squares all edged in the same colour (maybe blue?), perhaps for a cushion, perhaps another blanket? The boys tell me we don't need any more cushions or blankets...but I hardly think thats the point! I'm sure I can find a home for something somewhere. If anyone is reading this, let me know what you think...I'd love to know if you like the daisies as much as I do!

The daisies did provide considerable distraction today - I have been going a bit stir crazy the last few days - it has been sooo grey I have had to keep the lights on all day (hence the photos on the windowsill!). I am really not very good at prolonged inactivity and am torn between wanting to do as I'm told and just rest the leg in the hope that it heals quickly, or just seeing what I can manage! 

As another reprieve from the boredom, S took me to the coast today! I did feel a bit like the elderly granny being taken out for an airing - we parked as close as possible to the sea and I walked all of about 20 yards (and had to concede that the leg is not ready for slopes yet!). Very frustrating not to be able to walk along the beach but it was good to be out in the fresh air just for a short while, even if it was a bit blowy and bleak.

I do love the seaside at all times of year, but especially in the winter when the power of the waves is really evident. Much of this section of the beach is covered in broken sea defences which are pounded constantly by the crashing waves. Not pretty, but definitely dramatic.

I should say thanks to The Quince Tree for helpful hint about using for putting together the photo samplers - I have been having fun playing with their 'toys'! (I haven't yet worked out how to add a link from here - sorry!).

One more thing I must just show you - the finished wrist-warmers for my friend P:

I hope she likes them!

And I have been better friends with my big ripple again today, which for the record now has 17 rows! Will post progress pics at some point.

So, enough for has got very late and I should really be getting some sleep!


Wednesday, 12 January 2011

best laid plans...

Oh dear...

Seem to have scuppered my good intentions already - what did I say about planning to get fitter again, get out every day, find the happy things in every day...???

Currently on enforced 'sofa' slumming having partially torn a calf muscle on Monday! Eek...would like to be able to say this was a true sporting injury, sadly more a case of being over-competitive with youngest son on Xbox Kinect! This was my Christmas concession to gaming (which on the whole I loathe) but this clever gadget does make it necessary for you to get up and jig about in a very silly way, and does get you out of puff. Also, apparently, requires you to use muscles that you probably haven't used properly for a while (in my case) and so prone to 'sports injury'!!! I now have a very sore left leg, which I can't walk properly on. 

Result - unplanned time off work to rest it and hope that it heals quickly. Am slightly struggling with this concept of sitting still, and feel very bad re work as there is such a lot on the go at the moment. However, I really cannot do anything about it so have taken to the sofa surrounded by magazines, coffee, crochet and a bit of work I can do remotely.

On the plus side...this gives me unplanned permissible hooky time! And yet another failure at my good intentions! Couldn't resist these lush purple yarns for a friend who has a birthday this month. She is a 'purple' girl for sure and I hope she likes these wrist warmers.

The colours don't look quite as lovely as they do in reality but it is such a dull day again here that it is hard to take a photo in good natural light. But they are giving me a little happy lift - more so because I know I will finish them today!! Might even be tempted to make some for me... And I don't feel too guilty about the spending because this yarn was sooo cheap! Just £1.20 per 100g ball from the funny old fashioned haberdashery shop nearby - it is a fascinating shop stuffed floor to ceiling with fabrics, buttons, zips, etc etc. Everything is higgledy-piggledy and it is always a bit of a challenge to find anything never mind get what you want off the shelf! And very dark in the way that overstuffed shops are - barely any light ocming through the very full window displays. Wool is not really 'their thing' but they have one small wall of shelves with a random mix of mostly fairly economy yarn - some seriously dodgy colours but these were perfect.

One more happy pic:

These are just gorgeous and cheer me up immensely - well worth the few pounds I paid for them!


Monday, 10 January 2011

winter wandering...

I have to confess to have been feeling a bit down of late...not really sure why, combination of not being quite sure of where growing up children leaves us, working very long hours and not feeling I can keep on top of things... And it has been sooo dull and grey. I love the change in seasons but I do find that in the winter I feel increasingly trapped and closed in. Then a friend pointed out on Saturday that I am not seeing much daylight at all at the moment and perhaps that was not helping. When I thought about it she is right - on a working day (and I work full time) I leave the house by about 7am and rarely get home before 8pm, so dark both ends of the day. I hardly ever get a lunchbreak and although it is not a desk job by any means often I am indoors for the whole day. And on the days I am not at work there is all the 'other stuff' that has to be done...washing (never ending!), shopping, cleaning, bills etc etc much of which requires me to be indoors.

So I made myself a couple of loose promises on Saturday (loose because I fully expect that I may fail!!) - to try to put some sunshine in my life, real or otherwise, and to aim to get out every day, even if its just for a quick walk around at lunchtime (I should be taking lunch - right?).

Saturday afternoon found me distracted by the flowers at the local little supermarket and I couldn't resist these daffodils.

Yes, I know it's too soon for daffodils really and although they said they were grown in the UK, they can't be outdoors ones. But I think daffs are my absolute favourite flowers - I love the promise of those buds and the cheeriness of their flowers. And the alternative for 'sunshine' were blowsy chrysanthemums, fine in themselves but almost certainly less local (and certainly even less out of season) than the daffodils. I love this cheerful jug too - bought for me from a bric a brac stall by my middle son S - it just begs for fresh flowers!

And the daffs haven't disappointed - the very next day the sunshine was coming through -

Beautiful! And absolutely guaranteed to lift the spirit!

Plus...when I woke yesterday morning the real sun was shining more than it has for ages so I decided to take myself out - yes OUT! I just walked from my house  but took my camera and tried really hard to notice the little things...the sights, sounds and smells of the countryside around where I live. I probably walked for about 6 or 7 miles, along a footpath (of sorts!) that I didn't even know was there (and I have lived here for nearly 18 years!). It was tinglingly cold but the sun was so lovely and I truly felt as though a bit of me was coming alive again.
Beautiful frosted leaves on the path
Delicate seed heads catching the light...

Ice crystals on the leaves... 
My house from the other side of the field - we are one half of the fourth chimney in form the left!
Even the grass looked fresh and lovely with the sun shining through it.
My bit of the world is pretty flat and I do at times long for a hill to climb - a walk with an 'aim' if you know what I mean. But this did make me smile - it was a case of 'turn left at the post'! Two random footpath posts in the middle of a field. I was very glad of them as the footpath was not exactly clear, sadly from here the posts disappeared so there was a bit of meandering around in the mud but given that I had no time pressures, what the hec?
It was a bit blowy but these dried maize plants looked like shimmering gold in the sun.
Such blue sky...
With trees glowing in the sunlight...
Amazing ice patterns in the puddles in the field
Sticky buds!!! At least that's what we called them when we were kids! And I know its early but to me they mean the beginning of spring - and that made me so excited I just had to take a pic! Yes, I know they're out of focus - result of a point and shoot autofocus camera that has different ideas about what it wants to focus on than I do!!
And new leaves!!! Yay!!!
Very muddy boots but sooo enjoyed my walk!
So all in all I had a happy day yesterday and I did feel revived for a bit. Sadly today is back to grey, grey... but it has cheered my soul just looking back at these photos so I think I will try to take the camera everywhere to capture the small brightnesses around me and check back often for a reminder!

One final photo... a scarf I made with the leftovers from a chunky yarn I made a cardigan for my younger sister for Christmas. I have cut out what I have managed to make look like my double chins cos the point is the knitting! H-u-g-e needles, 10mm, like knitting with wooden spoon handles! Can't say I overly enjoyed it as I couldn't hold it in the way I normally do, but seriously quick to knit and very warm!!