Wednesday 27 November 2013

Winter things

A few things from my week.  Frost, followed by beautiful sunshine and clear skies.

A football scarf knitted for the littlest boy.  It was originally supposed to be for sharing, but as it happens he doesn't much like to share and he's very good at getting his own way.  So he's claimed ownership and no-one who values their eardrums dares to contradict him.  The colours are those of our town's football club, the team his brothers play for.  I wanted to add a fringe.  He most definitely did not want a fringe.  He does know his own mind, this little boy of mine.  So there's no fringe.

Inside, it was time to do the seed order.  It's done via the allotment association so there's a discount of one-third.  I've tried to be sensible and only order things that everyone likes.  Although I do have an overwhelming urge to grow some of those enormous blue squashes.  I'm trying very hard not to, as I'm the only one who really likes squash.  But we all know that I'll end up sowing a few, and then planting all of them out, even the extra ones that I only sowed in case not many came up.  I'm sure you can put squash flesh in cakes though, can't you..?

I've also been browsing a lovely allotment book I won in Jo's giveaway.  I've never won anything in a giveaway before and I can't tell you how thrilled I was.  It's full of fantastic allotment ideas, and pages to jot things down in.  I'm not going to save it, or keep it in pristine condition, I'm actually going to use it to write notes on varieties tried, planting times, useful suggestions etc.  I've learned over the years that these things are for using, not saving.  Too many times I've kept things for best, or for a special time, and they end up not being used at all.  It will be really helpful to have somewhere to keep all of the information that I currently jot down on old envelopes and scraps of paper.  All the useful tidbits that I read on various blogs will have a home.

I've bought my calendar for 2014.  I always find I need as big a space as possible because sometimes I need to fit in several things in one day.  It took me a while to find one with maximum writing space, but last year I found this...

...and I have to say it's perfect.  Loads of space to write in all the stuff of life, as well as a couple of areas for notes.  I always pause a little when the new calendar arrives.  I riffle the pages and wonder what they will hold.  But I don't dwell on that for too long, I'm quite happy to wait and deal with it all when it happens.

I'm kind of wishing my middle boy's chosen reading books didn't have names like "Mangler, the Dark Menace" and "Brutus, the Hound of Horror".

I'm trying to steer him towards "Stig of the Dump" and "A Bear called Paddington".  But unfortunately he seems to like a little dark menace in his life.

I made a short trip to the allotment yesterday.  I pulled up a few weeds, put down some cardboard to try and stop more coming up in their place, attempted a bonfire (too soggy) and took a couple of photos of my scarf - which is more my colour than the red and black one.

I'm really enjoying the long dark evenings.  No guilt at not being outside doing things.  The lights are on, curtains are drawn, all the little people and furry things are safely stowed away in their nesty places and there's just me and my laptop or book.

I've just finished PD James's "Death at Pemberley".  Not really sure what to make of it.  It's a sequel to Pride and Prejudice, with a murder in the Pemberley woods.  I was quite enjoying it until the murder, then it all got a bit tedious.  I was glad to finish it in the end.  I don't think people should mess with Jane Austen.  She cannot be equalled.  Although it's possible that "Mangler, the Dark Menace" comes close.

Sunday 24 November 2013

Half of a walk

The weather was fantastic yesterday, so after a morning of football and an early lunch we headed to the Cotswolds for a little walk.  We parked at Uley, a lovely village not far from Dursley.

We parked near the church, and headed straight up the hill behind it.  The littlest boy insisted on carrying the rucksack with five drinks and a box of cookies in it - it must have been a quarter of his body weight and he fell over backwards when he first put it on, but he marched off leading the expedition, all full of importance and purpose.  It was quite a steep climb and the views looking back at Uley were lovely.

Up through a little wooded area you come out at the top of the world.  In fact it's an Iron Age fort called Uley Bury, and it was occupied from about 300BC to 100AD.  There are several along the Cotswold escarpment, built to take advantage of the natural dominance of the high land.

The area contained within the fort on the top of this flat-topped hill was about 32 acres.  We walked around the edge and then curved back round towards Uley.

As we turned around the top of the hill a view towards the River Severn opened up.  You can just make it out beyond the fields.

By the time we got to the point of turning out to do the second loop of the walk the sun was already low in the sky.  Walking at the pace of the slowest person means we don't get round very fast.  But we like it that way.  It did mean that we weren't sure we could finish the walk before sunset, which is at about 4.10pm at the moment.  So we abandoned the plan to go to Owlpen and headed back to Uley.  I'm sure we'll go back and visit Owlpen again one day.  I've been before and it's very beautiful.  There's a wonderful Grade I listed manor house there which has what may be the earliest surviving complete garden in England.  There's a picture and some writing about it here if you want a peek.

Back at Uley we had a little wander through the village.  This was the lovely village green.  Apparently there used to be fourteen pubs in Uley!  Now there's just one.

There are one or two grand houses.  I loved this one in the wonderfully named Fiery Lane.

There are plenty of cottages too.  This one had old petrol pumps flanking the steps.

Lots of lovely clipped evergreen as well.  I do love the structure they give to gardens.  Another reason to visit Owlpen Manor, which has many clipped yew trees.

I loved the church, and I was intrigued by the striking weather vane on top.  Such a smooth almost naive shape.

Once the sun was well and truly setting and smoke from chimneys was drifting down the valley it was time to go home.

The littlest chap had blisters by then and had to take his socks off in the car.  Welly boots really aren't the best for walking in, especially when you have a really heavy rucksack.  If only their little feet weren't constantly growing they could have walking boots.  But it does seem like an extravagance when they'll need a new size come spring.   I'm thinking I'll just put more socks on him next time.  And start out a bit earlier.

Hoping a good week is had by all.

Friday 22 November 2013

this moment

Joining in with Soulemama.   A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savour and remember.

Tuesday 19 November 2013

The view from here

The past few days have been a mixture of beautiful timeless countryside and buildings and glitzy pre-Christmas sparkle.

After a brief trip to a big out of town shopping centre on Saturday, we detoxed on Sunday with a visit to the country park.  I always feel in need of the outdoors after visiting the mall.  It was of course already Christmassy there, with a magical castle, ice-skating, lots of twinkly lights and this lovely carousel.  We spent a happy hour in the big bookshop there.  However manic and over-commercialised the mall is, entering the bookshop is like entering a sanctuary.  The atmosphere changes completely.  The books are waiting to transport you anywhere you want to go.  Somewhere happy, somewhere for adventures, somewhere creative, somewhere that pushes you to be a better person, somewhere that encourages and somewhere that will always have the capacity to surprise, amaze and inspire.  I can always find something I'd like to read.  I think that I have a slightly dreamy unrealistic idea that I'll find the time to read for long periods.  Reality is a little different, but when I'm in that bookshop, I imagine myself, in winter, curling up on a dark evening, next to a fire, with a hot drink, and completely immersing myself in whatever adventure I have chosen.  In summer I'll dream of lying on the grass in the sun, or on a beach.  And in spring it's maybe a warm conservatory, in the sun.  That's the feeling I get when I see all of those books.  Excitement, anticipation, luxury.

The next day at the country park we wandered round getting a little exercise in the cold autumn air.

The photos were taken on my little point-and-shoot camera, which puts dark shapes on some of the pictures.  It's the camera I use most at the allotment.  I've usually got a trug or two with me when I visit, and taking my DSLR camera seems like too much.  The little camera has been good to me over the years, I've got so many treasured photos that were taken on it.  The DSLR is much newer, and while I love it, I'll always have a soft spot for the little one.  I keep it in my bag a lot of the time - probably why it has dark spots on the lens - and it means I can snap pictures out and about whenever they occur.  For example, on the school run this morning I took these two photos.

It was such a stunning morning, with clear blue skies and sun on ancient stone and crunchy beech leaves.  Tonight the sky was still clear, and it was cold.  We went to see the Christmas lights being switched on in the centre of our little town.  There was a fun fair and a small food fair as well, although the food fair wasn't as big as the regular ones we have here.  The boys were told they could have one thing each.  The biggest boy was sucked in to trying to win a prize by shooting rings onto a bottle.  The littlest boy had candyfloss.  Despite initially refusing to share it with his brothers, he couldn't finish it, and declared in the end that he didn't like it at all and it was making him feel sick.  The middle boy chose the big wheel, so we went on together.  I am a complete wimp when it comes to rides.  We almost never go on them, and a big wheel is about as scary as I can manage.  The middle boy found it a bit much too.  When I suggested he wave to his brothers as we flew past, he squeaked, "I can't" as he held on to the bar with a death grip.  The view from the top was spectacular though, and well worth going up.  I still had the little camera in my bag, and I got a few blurry shots.

Now I'm happy to be home and curled up in the warmth though.  It's cold out there.  Something arctic is headed this way apparently.  I'm a bit of a wimp about that as well.