Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether summer clothe the general earth
With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

A New Toy!

I've been waiting for this for a while and today it finally came - my lovely new camera. It has an 18x zoom and all kinds of fancy settings which I still have to get to grips with, on the technical front I am not a fast learner:) One of the settings is a night time one and another is specifically for sunsets so I have great hopes of these eventually. I've been playing with it a little so will just add some of my first efforts for you to see - hopefully there will be better and more interesting ones to come in the future. None are outdoors because it has been wet and windy all day.

This is the blanket that I've just finished for Gabriel, some of you may feel that you've seen it before as indeed you have - it's the same one I made for Kaitlyn but in primrose instead of white. I've used the 'any light' setting for this.

Mr B Baggins looking highly suspicious of my activities! His bedding looks a mess but every day after I have carefully laid it out all neat and comfy looking he equally carefully scrapes half of them into an untidy but obviously more satisfactory heap.

Some of my small friends, using the 'any light' setting again, I haven't mentioned my teddy bears before, I don't exactly collect them but sometimes one 'speaks' to me and I have to take him home with me. It's actually a few years since any additions have been made but that doesn't mean that there won't be the odd new one in the future!

The last picture was actually taken with my old camera which I've passed on to Neil and Cesca - Cesca took this one. Being a dad is obviously an exhausting business:):)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

In A Whirl!

The days seem to be passing faster and faster recently though I'm not quite sure why as I'm not really doing any more than usual. It's one of the odd things about time - sometimes it drags by ( especially when you are small and waiting for Christmas to come!)and at other times it passes at the speed of light, particularly if you have some sort of deadline to meet. I've got quite a bit I want to write about but right now I don't have the available time to sit and work on them, number one priority at the moment is to finish the blanket that I'm knitting for Gabriel ready for when he eventually goes home. He's still doing well and all the tubes and monitors are gone now except his feeding tube, he's having to take his milk mostly through that as he doesn't stay awake long enough to take a proper feed. He'll get there though.
Rel (under the microscope) has tagged me for this Meme, I'll just do that for today so here goes:

A. Available or single? No

B. Best Friend? Sandi

C. Cake or Pie? Cake

D. Drink of choice? Hot chocolate with marshmallows

E. Essential Item? Gardening book

F. Favourite colour? Soft apricot

G. Gummy bears or worms? These must be American candies I think so the answer
is fruit jellies:)

H. Hometown? Macclesfield, Cheshire, England

I. Indulgence? Books

J. January or February? February because Spring is near and both my parents died in January.

K. Kids and names? Stephen, Neil, Juliette

L. Life is incomplete without? Books - family and friends are a given of course.

M. Marriage date? 1st August 1972

N. Number of siblings? None

O. Oranges or apples? Oranges

P. Phobias/fears? Spiders, heights with water below,

Q. Favourite quote?

The wonder of the world,
The beauty and the power,
The shapes of things,
Their colours, lights and shades,
These I saw.
Look ye also while life lasts.

R. Reasons to smile? Two lovely grandchildren and a world full of beauty - see Q.

S. Season? Autumn

T. Tag 3 people - Janet (I know you love Memes:) ), Tea and Granny K - but only if you have time and inclination.

U. Unknown fact about me? I have looked out over The Promised Land - see photo at the top of this post - taken on top of Mount Nebo looking out towards Jerusalem etc.You will need to click on the photo to read the board. I have no clear photos because visibility was very poor that day.

V. Vegetable you hate? None really, I'm not a massive vegetable fan but I eat pretty well all of them.

W.Worst habit? Finishing other people's sentences!! I try to curb it but sometimes my mouth opens before I can stop it:):)

X. X-rays you've had? Chest and tooth

Y. Your favourite foods? risotto,pasta,full English breakfast,pancakes with blueberry syrup and just about any pudding you care to name.

Z.Zodiac? Virgo

While looking for the photo taken on Mount Nebo I came across another from the same trip showing me standing in front of the rock formation in Wadi Rum known as the Seven Pillars of Wisdom - named by the local Bedouin in honour of Lawrence of Arabia. We followed in his footsteps to some extent on this outing, driving out into the desert in open top jeeps visiting various places connected with him. I discovered then that I love the desert, it is frightening but in its own way it is stunningly beautiful. And the sand is unbelievably hot!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A New Arrival

This is Gabriel,my new little grandson, born on Tuesday afternoon. He weighed 3 pounds 13 ounces and is in intensive care but doing well. He's in an incubator so I've just taken part of the photo to put here. he's just beautiful and was very lively and responsive when I saw him yesterday, no cuddles yet though, I have to wait until he goes onto the Special Care unit for that - hopefully later today. Before that though I'm having his cousin Kaitlyn for the day while Steve and Hannah pack and prepare for their trip to Russia, they leave on Saturday for two weeks. Rather them than me, Kaitlyn is a real livewire now and I think they'll have their hands full. Should be interesting though,Steve has been wanting to go to Russia for some years.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Romance of Herbs

It's been back to winter again during the last few days but after the previous weekend that I spent working in the garden in warm sunshine, I'm really turning my thoughts to spring and summer. The scene outside the window doesn't fit in with these thoughts so I've resorted to looking through some of my books to tide me over.
I was looking through a herb book I have by Lesley Bremness and came across the herb 'melilot' which immediately conjured up in my mind a picture of a medieval lady walking in a flowery mead. Melilot is such an evocative name and I started thinking of other herb names that conjure up similar visions for me.
Sweet Cicely is another pretty name and this produces a mind picture of a quiet, shady country lane with the wonderful smell of aniseed drifting on the air. It drifts on the air in my garden too as it is one of the herbs that I grow. In fact when I think about it most of the herb names which conjure up country lanes and Tudor country gardens for me have the word 'sweet' in them - meadowsweet, sweet rocket,sweet violet, sweet woodruff - and sweet briar rose, this always brings a vision of a Shakespeare's bank

'where the wild thyme blows,
where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
quite over-canopied with lush woodbine,
with sweet musk-roses and with eglantine.
There sleeps Titania sometime of the night
Lull'd in these flowers with dances and delight.'

Can you think of a more beautiful vision for a cold February day? A vision to hold onto until the reality becomes available.

One of the phrases I love that also conjures up wonderful mind pictures for me is 'the Tudor stillroom'. These must have been such pleasant places to work in filled as they would have been with flowers and herbs drying and waiting to be made into all kinds of sweet bags,medicines, lotions,ointments,pot pourris and perfumes - the stillroom produced an endless stream of supplies for the Tudor household.

Lavender and roses have always been among the most popular flowers for making pot pourri and sweet bags to scent the linen. I grow the Apothecary's Rose which is thought to be the oldest cultivated rose in existence and it is also the Red Rose of Lancaster which, along with the White Rose of York, gave its name to the Wars of the Roses between the great houses of York and Lancaster in the 15th century. The photograph above is actually Reine des Violettes which only dates back to the 1860s. It has a wonderful perfume though, this is the most important thing for me in the roses that I grow.

A Tudor herb garden would have been full of many kinds of herbs, they were used much more then than they are now, many plants that we regard as ornamental were then important herbs. Cowslips for instance were used in salves and to treat whooping cough and bronchitis, and Ladies Mantle( Alchemilla mollis) was a 'women's herb' and was also used as a wound herb. I love Ladies Mantle, it's beautiful both in leaf and flower and grows practically anywhere. The photo above is the period garden outside Bayleaf farmhouse at the Weald & Downland Museum. Those of you who have been with me some time will probably remember the descriptions of my visits there last summer.

Herbs are not all just summer plants, above is one of my rosemary bushes after the snowfall last week. Sage also can be picked all year round, the sage bush in flower at the beginning of this post provides me with leaves for the turkey stuffing every Christmas Eve.
Just so that you can be prepared - if you plant an elder (the Elder Mother is the protectress of all herbs)in your garden and stand under it at midnight on Midsummer Eve you will see the King of the Fairies and all his courtiers go by.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


We had a little snow this morning and Bilbo Baggins thought it was wonderful - he loves playing in the snow as have all my dogs. This includes my old Scottie, MacIntosh,who usually had to be carried home because he had so many snowballs attached to his back legs that eventually he reached the point where he couldn't walk properly! Thawing him out when we got home took forever and resulted in large puddles of snow all over the kitchen floor. Bilbo has much longer legs so happily he doesn't have this problem.

Me and my stick.

Life is such fun!

I do wonder,though, what kind of idiots run the British media. The headlines this morning were all about 'heavy falls of snow' 'battling to get to work' rush hour chaos' and so on. Now I do know that we had haven't had as much snow here as other parts of the country but even so - the projected accumulation of snow was - are you ready for this in Canada and the USA! - as much as 15 CENTIMETRES in places!! Well, heavens to Murgatroyd!! It is just pathetic really, I know that my friend in New England has at least 2 or 3 feet of snow most winters and other parts of the US and Canada have as much if not more. Many European countries are usually under several feet of snow for most of the winter months too. They must be laughing themselves silly when they see the hype on British TV and in the papers. As for battling to work through 3 inches of snow! I can remember several occasions in the 1960s when I walked the 3 miles to work from our village to the nearby town through a foot or so of snow, then at the end of the day I walked the 3 miles home again. There were lots of people doing the same thing and it was quite good fun really. We walked in small groups and chatted and laughed as we went. I can also remember a few occasions in the 1980s when it snowed and all the buses stopped running and my husband walked 8 miles home fom work. He staggered in finally looking like a dying duck, it had taken him nearly 3 hours because, as he got out of the city, the snow became quite deep and hard to walk through especially in black leather business shoes. It's a long time since we had snow like that.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Oh! What a Beautiful Morning.......

Today has been absolutely glorious, blue skies, sunshine and warmth - I spent the morning working on the small border opposite my back door and I was wearing just a shirt - well, not just a shirt but you know what I mean:) The cream crocus tommasinianus above are in another little bed but had opened up in the warmth and light of the sun so I thought I'd take a picture.

These winter flowering iris are actually a much stronger lilac-y blue than they appear in the photo, normally I don't see the first flowers until late March though another garden nearby has them flowering much earlier than mine do. They may be a different variety though, these are called 'Mary Barnard'.

The results of my morning's labours! The dead looking sticks are a spring flowering clematis alpina and will look beautiful around April - maybe earlier this year!

This is the same border in mid-summer!

This afternoon J and I took the dogs up onto the moors for the first time this year, it's been too wet up to now, the moors are peat so hold the moisture and in parts even today we could feel the ground squelching and moving under our feet. Bilbo Baggins had a thoroughly good time.

Judy had another dog staying with her so there were three of them today -this is by a little moorland stream where they are having a drinks and paddling break.

Bilbo Baggins with his new friend JoJo - she's a one year old Border terrier.

This is how a lot of the moors look at this time of the year - you have to pick your path very carefully in places. Worth the effort though on a day like this.