Saturday 29 November 2014

Monday to Sunday

I'm really not quite sure where this week went.  The tempo of everything is hotting up, and school is suddenly full of demands for all sorts of things.  They want money for trips, items for the tombola at the school fete, handmade and filled crackers for the mystery cracker stall, cakes for the cake stall, books and games for the books and games stall, parental help with trips, money for non-uniform day, pyjamas for non-uniform day, special Christmas jumpers for Christmas jumper day, money for teacher collections, money for new recorder books, cakes for the cake sale (this is different to the school fair cake stall) and money for cakes being sold in the cake sale (are you sensing a theme..?)  All of it times three of course.  I'm doing my bit, but honestly, sometimes I feel like taking out my purse and shrieking "Take it, just take it all".

I tried to photograph the castle on one of the sunnier mornings.  I dropped the boys off at school, but by the time I got back out to the castle the sun had gone in.  You'll just have to imagine how glorious it looked behind that beautiful beech hedge with the early morning sun on it and the windows sparkling.  Of course five minutes later when I was halfway home the sun came back out.  A blogger made of sterner stuff would have turned around and gone back, but I went home and had breakfast.

In the kitchen there's been some therapeutic baking to calm me down.  I grated some uchiki kuri squash and put it in a fruit cake.  That way cake counts as one of our five a day.  I went to the allotment on Friday and planted the two apple trees my friend gave me.  After much deliberation I chose Christmas Pippin and Sunset.  Christmas Pippin is a new variety, and Sunset is relatively modern, dating from the early 1900s.  I have high hopes for them.  There's nothing quite so uninspiring to photograph as a newly planted bare fruit tree.  It feels like a momentous occasion.  Not often in life do we get to plant trees, things which may survive for future generations.  It's a big moment.  But the photo - hopeless.  It's a stick poking out of the mud.  You know I'll be back here the second they burst into life though.  

I also planted some more garlic, and in digging over the ground I found some potatoes that the littlest boy and I missed.  There were also lots of bits of clay pipe and china on the surface of the soil, washed clean by all the rain I think.  It amounted to quite a collection.

The weekend is shaping up to be quite relaxing.  We don't have any football on Saturday mornings at the moment and honestly it's such a pleasure not to have to go anywhere.  I'm a really early riser, but nonetheless it's so nice to just be at home, pottering about, getting things in order.  The biggest boy made vanilla shortbread from his Sam Stern cookbook this morning.  Sam is young and cool and makes cooking for boys cool too.  And in the photos he's sometimes doing his homework and revising for exams, in between knocking up a quick batch of blueberry and apricot muffins or a caramelised onion tart. 

Tomorrow there will be football and an afternoon out.  Nothing fancy, just me and them.  I'm looking forward to it all, I never used to like Sundays much, but I've finally got the hang of them.  Wishing you a good day too.

Sunday 23 November 2014

Sunday afternoon

A dry afternoon, too good to waste.  We headed up high, where the mud is less and the views are good.

This is the top of Painswick Beacon.  It was an old Iron Age hill fort over two thousand years ago.  A Roman villa has been found not far from here as well.  People have been climbing up to this point to look at the lie of the land since the beginning.

I think these are deadly nightshade berries.  Nothing was eating them anyway.

As the sun started to set it dipped below the clouds, and beautiful winter light lit up the land.  You may remember from previous trips here that this is the place that the little people like to practice for being in the SAS.  The dips are perfect for setting ambushes.

Cotswold stone, lit by the setting sun.  A handful of people actually get to live in places like this.  I hope they know how lucky they are.

I'm happy with our non-Cotswold stone home though, happy to share it with these vibrant little people.  Never for one minute forgetting how lucky I am.

As we drove home the sun set and the sky turned pink.

I hope you had some good weather today too, and that you managed a little outside time.  It's what Sundays are for.

Thursday 20 November 2014

The Colour Collaborative: November: Leaf

Although it's November and most of the leaves are orange and red and yellow, I've come here to talk about the colour I love the most when it comes to gardens and the countryside, green.

I don't dislike autumn, far from it, but my favourite time of year is early summer, when the new leaves are stretching to their full potential, turning from a fresh acid colour to a deep healthy green.  The air feels invigorated with their growth, almost as if I can feel all of that oxygen pumping into the atmosphere.

A big part of the beauty of the English countryside is its greenness.  Everywhere you look, something is growing.  In spring and summer it completely takes my breath away.  I love the woods and the hedgerows, the pretty gardens and dark green leaves against ancient stone.

There's every shade of green out there, from the palest mint to the deepest bottle green.  I'm always really drawn to gardens filled with just green.  The different textures and colours can be truly beautiful.  The structure of evergreens, the movement of grasses and the drama of more tropical leaves.  And they all do their bit for the environment.

The green leaves of the world are such an antidote to everything we do that pollutes our planet.  The cleansing breath of the rainforest provides 20% of our oxygen.  Of course, every tree helps, it doesn't have to be in the rainforest.  I've always loved houseplants too, I used to have over eighty before I moved here.  Mostly green leafy ones, not many had flowers.  It was a little bit of the rainforest in my home.

Wherever I am, I'm always happier when I'm surrounded by trees and green leafy plants.  It's impossible to go for a walk in the countryside without coming back in a better mood, I guarantee it.  As well as being good for the planet, green is good for the soul.  A world without our leafy plants is unimaginable and our beautiful green landscapes deserve protection and preservation.

To visit the other Colour Collaborative blogs for more of this month's posts, just click on the links below:

           Annie at Annie Cholewa                                  Gillian at Tales from a Happy House

           Sandra at Cherry Heart                                     Jennifer at Thistlebear

What is The Colour Collaborative?

All creative bloggers make stuff, gather stuff, shape stuff, and share stuff. Mostly they work on their own, but what happens when a group of them work together? Is a creative collaboration greater than the sum of its parts? We think so and we hope you will too. We'll each be offering our own monthly take on a colour related theme, and hoping that in combination our ideas will encourage us, and perhaps you, to think about colour in new ways.

Tuesday 18 November 2014

The November allotment

It's been a long time since I visited the allotment.  The constant dampness has made it pointless to go.  Tramping around on sodden earth is no good, so I've been waiting for a dry spell.  This morning it wasn't exactly dry underfoot, but it was close enough.

It was misty early on, but by eleven o'clock the sun was shining.  Let's wander down to the plot.

Lots of the plots are neat and tidy, ready for winter.  But there are a few overgrown ones which is always sad to see, especially when there's probably still a waiting list.  Look at this one, just waiting for someone to love it.  It's got a nice shed too.

Down at my plot there were one or two surprises, not all of them good.  This was what the tops of all of the sprout plants looked like.  Pigeons I think.  It's the time of year when cabbagey things are looking good to them.  Underneath the sprouts still looked fine, although obviously the plants are struggling now.

The good surprise was this.

Artichokes!  I cut the plants down a while back.  To be more precise the two smaller boys had a blast cutting them down with the fruit saw.  They've completely grown back, and there were two delicious buds.  Not huge, but good enough.  They're in the fridge now, waiting to be eaten.

There were a few final straggling flowers, as well as asparagus with red berries that needs to be cut down, and the biggest boy's leeks.

I did some weeding, clearing a strip for garlic planting, and while I worked the sun burned through the mist.  I planted the garlic, it was so satisfying to actually get a job done today.  Planting garlic is one of my favourite allotment jobs.  As everything else is dwindling and dying, the garlic is starting to grow, the beginning of the growing season, a reminder in the depth of winter that spring will return, with its optimistic green shoots.

It was a pleasure to be back down there today.  I might go again tomorrow if it's dry.  There's a long list of things to do, so I'm needing a long dry spell really.  It probably won't happen that way, but I'll take what I can get.

This evening we went to see the town's Christmas lights turned on.  Some famous boy singers were there doing the honours and lots of girls were screaming.

So that's it, the lights are on, the countdown has begun.  I'm off to write a list.  Bring it on.