Friday, April 26, 2013

The simple pleasures

Well....... I nearly took off my vest this week.  Steady!

The weather last weekend was sumptuous.  I got rather over excited, dug lots of well rotted horse poo in to the veggie patch, dragged my deckchair out of the garage, washed my woollies and scarves and got them all flapping on the line......  Bliss.  That's Ed the horse by the way.

Flowers are shooting up all over the place now the weather is warming up.

How does Big Dog get in to every picture?

I love the heady waft from these Hyacinths as I trudge up the path after a hard day at work (debatable).

Everything seems to be purple at the moment.  These delicate Fritillaries were hiding under the soil when we moved in.

After such a lovely weekend, Monday felt a bit flat.  The writing group I should have been going to was cancelled due to a lack of numbers.  Panic ensued!  Without someone with a gun to my head I'm a seething mass of procrastination and non existent will power.  Undeterred I decided to make Monday my night to scribble in as many notebooks as I can (and not on the lines - gasp!).  That is, if I can stop hoovering, tidying the coffee table and wiping work surfaces first! 

On the go at the moment -

Extremely short children's story about Donald (he's the handsome fellow in the middle of the picture).

Sarah has also given me the challenge of writing about a subject every day for seven days.  This morning as she left for work she shouted 'Wood Pigeon!' at me.  Ok.....  Ummm......  'Hoo hooooooo hoo' is all that springs to mind at the moment!

I would also like to improve at bird identification.  All week I've been chasing lots of very small, very fast green/yellow birds up and down the farm tracks and in and out of hedges but they won't keep still!  I think they are probably Yellowhammers.

I'm having to be firm with Sarah (Dr Doolittle).  We nearly went home with a limping Pheasant this week.  She picked it up when we were out on a dog walk and held it up to my face but I'm hard (and I've already agreed to home an injured Hedgehog for heaven's sake!).

I asked Esme (she likes sewing, strange child) if she could make me something for my study in her felt making class and she presented me with it this week - it looks fab!

I've bought more herbs for my herb garden (with anti-duck fencing).

Here are my woolly scarves ready to go away and summer ones ready to go on (dribble, dribble....all those delicious colours).  Who cares about 'old lady neck'? I don't!

This week I have been studying ruins, deserted buildings, wrecks etc (not including my car).

This mill up the lane from our bungalow lies abandoned and I am just itching to have a peek inside.  Old childhood passions don't go away.  I spent many a happy hour as a child investigating disused factories, cold churches and dark, smelly World War 2 pillboxes.....

The countryside seems to have turned from tired beige (and oh, how I hate beige!) to a glossy fresh green overnight.

Big Dog and I went for our 2 hour Friday morning walk as usual this morning.  I have to limit myself to a couple of hours or I just keep going!  

Anyway, this walk takes you through the (very busy) farm next door, past some old derelict buildings (below), up a steep(ish) hill, through some trees, dip down in to a valley with some attractive barns at the bottom, along a concrete path (it rained last night so thought this walk would suit), passing lots of lambs, the foot path then goes through somebody's garden (always feels slightly embarrassing!), back on to the lane, up a hill through a field and back down to the derelict buildings and home.

Deserted farm buildings, be still my heart......

We found all sorts............

Bit spooky in here.....

It feels like you are miles from anywhere.  Hellooo?

About half way around the walk I sat on a wooden bench and got my little notebook, pencil and chewy bar (blueberry flavour) out of my bag.  Unfortunately there being a river behind me, I could feel Big Dog's eyes boring in to the back of my head, willing me to throw a stick. 

She got very silly after her swim and ran like a race horse backwards and forwards through the fields.

Nearly home and we've gone full circle.

Time for coffee just as the heavens open!  How lucky was that?

Friday, April 19, 2013

First picnic of the year

Signs that it really must be Spring.......

There are lambs on the farm next door (this one was getting a bunk up on Mum!), our Sweet pea and Broad bean seedlings are coming up at last, the ducks are laying more eggs than we can deal with and there are Devonshire Red calves in the barn behind the bungalow.

Today I had my first picnic of the year and a furtle around the charity shops as a treat.

Looks a bit pathetic I know - I was in a rush.

I think if you have to do something unpleasant in life it is imperative that you treat yourself afterwards.  The reward has to be in proportion to the level of unpleasantness though.  

This works really well if, like me, you dread going to the dentist.

Root canal = day out in London.
An extraction = weekend in Paris. 

For example - today I had an eye test....

Up and left
That's good
and down and right
Focus on my light
Small puff of air coming
Another puff
And final puff
Look at the black circles on the green and red
Which looks clearer?
or red?
That's green?
or red?
or red?
Ooooh, it's difficult to say....
How many spots?
Is it better or worse?
With or without?
Read the letters on the wall for me
S R something something G ummm don't know....
That's good
Would you like a photo of your eyeball to take home with you?
No thank you

So after an hour of all that funny business I had my picnic in the Cathedral Close listening to a man with a cockney accent shout at a woman called Carol on his mobile phone.

It was very grey today so here are some pictures that I took last summer on a rare balmy evening.

The Cathedral is central to my life.  It is the hub, the tallest, strongest, constant around which I dither and generally flap about.  It not only has the tallest spire (123m) but also the largest cloister and the largest cathedral close in Britain (v proud).  It also houses the oldest working clock in the world.  After watching a dramatisation of 'The Spire' by William Golding at the local theatre I fell in love with the Cathedral even more.  Jonathan Meades, the writer and broadcaster (who also grew up in Salisbury) once described the spire as looking like an upside down ice cream cone or a rocket!  It can't be missed as you enter the city from any direction and when we spot it on the horizon we always know that we are nearly home.

I fell in to a few charity shops and found some bargains today too.  Charity shopping has to be the most fun, the most economical but the most time consuming occupation.  A couple of weeks ago I found 4 things in 4 hours!  One item an hour, oh dear....

I love my 50p bargain too - a little owl for holding toothpicks.  Cute.

This week I have been mostly baking - the flattest Victoria Sponge known to man, twice!  (The birds had the first one).  I think the tins were too big or I have lost my mojo.  I don't like to think about it.  I may never bake again......

Especially when my fellow Bungalow Girl is turning out such glossy, delicious bagels (grrrrr).  She tells anyone who will listen that this is 'the year of pastry and dough'.  Fine by me.  I'm getting soda bread and Chapatis this weekend.

I spent the whole of last weekend in tracksuit bottoms (and beads, strange combo).  A tip from me.  Don't do it!  Don't go down the comfy trouser road.  On Monday morning I found I couldn't get my jeans done up!  Oops.

Wednesday -

We had a 'Great Escape' situation.  One of our ducks went AWOL.  We found him running up and down the wrong side of the fence frantically trying to join his friends in the garden.  It's quite tricky attempting to catch a traumatised duck in a very large field with the aid of an uncoordinated teenager (in school uniform, agh!).  I should mention that I have a fear of flapping wings and I also hadn't  had time to change out of my office attire.  We managed to get him in to a cardboard box in the end and fling him back over the fence to be quacked at and chased by the other ducks.  They don't call them 'Runner' ducks for nothing!

Big dog and I have had many pleasant post work, pre dinner, solitary walks without the need for endless layers of clothes (for me not the dog).

I had to get a Dutch barn in there too.

Thursday -

I realised that I have a clothing problem.  The morning walk at 6.30am is fine when it's dark and I can stagger up the (175m!) hill behind the bungalow with a woolly hat pulled down over my bed hair and a heavy coat covering my inappropriate clothing but now the clocks have changed I feel very exposed.  I said my usual good morning to the bald, neat man with wriggly spaniel (I do think it's easier to look neat if you are bald) and was suddenly aware of my awful attire.

- Red and white stripey wellies
- Purple cords flapping two inches above my ankles
- Baggy turquoise jumper
- Green cord jacket (cord with cord - what a faux pas)
- Orange tie die scarf
- Topped off with a nice flat cap

I need help.......


Friday, April 12, 2013

Another mini-adventure

Friday 12th April 2013

Spring is in the air at last!

The daffodils that I planted last year brighten up the area under our pear tree and help to distract the eye from the (unsightly) garden surrounding it.  One day I will have a little bench here....

Sarah has been baking hot cross buns and very nice they were too dear!

Even the chicken with evil eyes was bathed in sunlight this morning.

So, armed with a drink, snack, camera and dog poo bag - off we went, big dog and I.   We had a fine time saying hello to the local Alpacas....

...poking in bushes and exploring new footpaths.   Mind you, it's hard to concentrate on the beautiful views when you have watery eyes, an itchy bra strap and floppy socks but I think I succeeded.

We stopped at the top of the hill - my favourite spot.  This is where I like to lean on the railings, gaze meaningfully in to the distance and think profound thoughts ......(ok, and get my breath back).

I don't know why I like barns so much, I just do. Luckily there are lots around here for me to get my fix. Here's one we saw today. Don't you just love corrugated iron?

We have a Dutch barn near our bungalow but I will save that one for another day. We don't want to get too excited do we?

The hills were a wonderful assortment of colours - toffee, biscuit, caramel (time for the snack).

 I realised on my walk today that everything I like begins with the letter 'B'.  How strange. 

- Beer (from the Badger Brewery)
- Bubble baths
- Beech trees
- Bread (home made)
- Butter (thickly spread on the above)
- Baked potatoes
- Barns
- Big dogs
- Birthday weekends in Budapest, Berlin and Bath

Even my favourite local pub and the village I now live in start with the letter 'B'.  I now declare 'B' my favourite letter.  As opposed to the letter 'M' which isn't nice at all.

- Middle age
- Menopause
- Mushrooms

Big dog likes Beech trees too.

Two hours of warm(ish) sun (on and off).  It's a start.