Saturday, 30 July 2016

Things with wings

six-spot burnet moth

meadow brown

chalkhill blue
chalkhill blue
chalkhill blue

meadow brown

? meadow brown ? 
six-spot burnet moth

large white? edited: possibly a small white, thanks CT

Up on the Cotswold escarpment the wild flowers are still beautiful. I spent the afternoon having a wander with the boys and snapping butterflies. I'm not completely sure about the identifications. I think the brown one is an older tattier meadow brown.

We saw a couple of painted ladies and some marbled whites as well but I didn't manage to get pictures of them. The littlest boy got stung by a bee and yelled so loudly you could hear him in three counties. To my horror he declared that he doesn't like bees any more. We'll see about that, it's pretty much compulsory in this house.

The camping plan is gathering pace. The middle boy put up a tent in the garden today and the littlest boy found a packet of 36 jaffa cakes which will do nicely as Camping Snacks. I shall make sure there are many delicious things packed. I have a feeling good food is a major feature of a good camp.

Wishing all a good Sunday. CJ xx

Friday, 29 July 2016

To camouflage or not to camouflage

A slightly random collection of thoughts from the week.

The bees in the garden have been enjoying the marjoram which has done well this year, flowering beautifully. Also the verbena bonariensis. All of those little flowers are perfect for bees to hunt around in.

Last year my neighbour had beautiful drifts of white cosmos in his garden. It looked bewitching at dusk. I shamelessly stole his idea and ordered a packet of cosmos "Purity" seeds (white) which I grew on and popped in in various places, pots, a raised bed, down at the allotment. Turned out they weren't quite as pure as I was expecting.

Not a white one among them.

The littlest boy has been perfecting his camouflage.

The geese are giving it away slightly by looking up at the tree warily. They know there's something up there.

This frog operates on a different principle. Bright yellow. Don't eat me.

Every evening I like to look out over the river and breathe deeply for a few minutes. I'm not always that good at stopping and just being, but I'm drawn to this view every single day. Today there was an amazing sunset. I failed dismally at photographing it. A couple of minutes earlier there were rays going upwards from the light, it was beautiful. Here's what I got when I finally decided to get the camera.

Thank you for all of your encouraging words about camping. They ranged from those of you who feel a little panic at the thought of the festival toilet to those of you who love nothing more than a night under the stars. It remains to see which I am. I did once spend about six months living in a tent many years ago while cycling down through France, Spain and Morocco. Seems a long time ago now. I suspect it will be a whole other ball game camping with children. But I'm doing it, I am.

Wishing you a good summer weekend with some relaxing outside time.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Easing into summer

We're sliding easily into these summer days. Entertaining ourselves variously with learning fancy knots, painting birds along with an online course, working out the costings for a lunar theme park, listening to Yngwie Malmsteen's arpeggios from hell (guitar practice inspiration), reading "The Sausage Dog of Doom" and wondering if we could survive a couple of nights in a tent. We could, couldn't we? Although I fear I'm not ready for "No showers; well ventilated compost toilet". Actually the trick will be finding somewhere that has vacancies. I'm mulling it over.

I had another bash at making blackcurrant cordial today. You may vaguely recall the great blackcurrant disaster of 2014 but I'm older and wiser now and I have a new method of straining things. It didn't go entirely smoothly, but it wasn't nearly as catastrophic as last time. There was spillage, but only on the stove top. By 2018 I shall have it completely perfected.

How is the summer treating you? Any plans for adventure, or are you happily ensconced at home? Will you be having a nice break somewhere, and will you at any stage find yourself in a well ventilated compost toilet? Let's hear the details.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Five on Friday

Joining in with Amy and Five on Friday.

1. Photos from a stroll up a nearby mountain. Well, more of an anthill really but we pretended it was a mountain. Isn't the countryside beautiful at the moment.

2. Flowers from a verge in town. I've seen a lot more of this sort of planting this year, along with unmown verges filled with insect friendly plants. Have local authorities finally caught on do you think? I do hope so.

3. Enjoying July. Enough heat to make skin turn salty. Sports day with the thick smell of sunscreen and lots of drama. Nothing quite compares to the Year R (4 and 5 year olds) skipping race.

4. The allotment has got away from me this year. I'm being marvellously calm about it all. What's the worst that can happen? I have courgettes, what more could I need.

5. Bracing myself for the start of the summer holidays. It will be lively, no doubt about it. The littlest boy brought sweets home from school and gave a whole packet to each brother. He really does love them so much, he gives them a big hug in the mornings sometimes when he first sees them. After he gave out the sweets there was a bit of an altercation. The biggest boy said to him, "You know the tangy bit on the outside of these sweets? It's made of pug." It's amazing how they know the very worst thing to say isn't it. I've told them we will be concentrating on being lovely to each other all summer. Wish me luck with that.

Hoping you all have a very good summer weekend.

Saturday, 16 July 2016



A picnic in the park, where some sort of sheep-related event was taking place. The Jacob had the most fantastic horns, really good to see. Then a walk up on the common in the gathering gloom. It was cool and breezy, not good butterfly weather. It's normally a great place to see them, but I think they were hunkering down. Is anyone doing The Big Butterfly Count? I think we might give it a whirl. The allotment would probably be a good place to count them, there are usually quite a few flitting about down there.

I hear a heatwave is coming next week. I'm trying to remember if we have a functioning paddling pool and wondering if there's room for ice-cream in the freezer.

Thank you for all of your book suggestions, I've made a list and I shall work my way through. By chance a couple were already on my bookshelf, James Rebanks' "The Shepherd's Life" and Helen Dunmore's "Zennor in Darkness", so I'm starting with them. In fact I think I shall go and sink into one right now. Wishing you a good Sunday. CJ xx

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Your best book please

Do you ever stand in front of a bookshelf and find it impossible to find anything at all that you fancy reading? I often have moments like that. I went to the library in a fog of post-referendum gloom and stomped up and down looking high and low for the right thing. Nothing.

In the end I found it at home on one of our many shelves - Dodie Smith's "I Capture The Castle". I hadn't read it before, and it took me a while to decide that I was really enjoying it. Now I'm completely absorbed and loving it. But I'm also near the end, and I know that it's even harder to find a good book when I've just finished an excellent one.

So I'm here to ask for recommendations. Which book would you recommend? Nothing too dismal, I struggle with dismal. But I shall be open minded about your suggestions. Which is your favourite? I'd love to know.

I'm reading Cornelia Funke's "The Thief Lord" to the children. It's excellent. Set in Venice, which I like a lot. And with a great cast of characters. I'm constantly blown away by fantastic children's books. A couple of years ago we decided to get on a "reading streak" like Alice Ozma. It's been one of the very best things I've done with the children. Every day without fail I sit down with the youngest two and read to them. We've discovered some fantastic books and there are always more on the pile that I can't wait to get to.

I photographed the Dodie Smith book on the quilt I'm working on. It's a paper pieced one and I've just about taken all the paper pieces out of it. It's gone from being big and unmanageable to being soft and easy to fold up. Now I've finished the top I need to sandwich the wadding between the top and the reverse and quilt it somehow. Always nice to see a long project coming together.

I hope all is well with you and that you're happily in the middle of a good book. I shall look forward to seeing your suggestions. CJ xx