2014: the year of discovery

Because there's more to life than work


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September and new starts

IMG_2819Wow, that was a long break from blogging – work and life just kind of overtook me. But September always feels like a New Year to me, and so it’s time to dust off the cobwebs and get going on this again. Truth be told, the blog had been starting to feel a bit samey – having gone through a full year on it, I felt like I was going over old ground and wasn’t getting the same buzz out of posting that I had been. So I’m looking forward to getting started afresh, and sharing the things that bring joy to my life (apart from my OH as that would just get nauseating), which at the moment are:

  • Sewing – new hobby, but am inordinately proud of the messenger bag, tote bag and cushion that I’ve made recently. The curtains could have been a leap too far…
  • Cooking – great recent discovery was the blackberry, almond and cardamom cake in this month’s Simple Things (seriously good) by Signe Johansen. I just used the crushed seeds from 5 cardamom pods as I didn’t have any ground cardamom and it was perfect.
  • Being outdoors – walking in the dunes this year has been such a release (and was the source of the aforementioned blackberries)
  • Reading – recently rediscovered the ‘Merrily Watkins’ series by Phil Rickman and am re-reading them from the start – they are brilliant, hard to categorise stories – they’re often in the ‘crime’ section at the library but in fact are keenly observed stories with a supernatural undercurrent about Merrily’s work as a female vicar and ‘deliverance consultant’ (or ‘exorcist’) in the Welsh borders. Sounds a bit bizarre but they are wonderfully down to earth and believable – do try them if you’ve not come across them.
  • Inspirational stuff – haven’t come up with a better title than this for it at the moment, but I’ll just say that if you like listening to great speakers head for the Do Lectures, and for a great online read you can’t beat Holstee - their theme for September is ‘Balance’ and am so looking forward to reading it.

Happy September everyone!

 


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Spring outing

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Confession time: I bunked off yesterday (technically I’m not sure I can bunk off as I’m my own boss. But you know what I mean) and headed to one of my favourite bits of the countryside (see our visit last spring here) to enjoy the fabulous spring weather. We ran and walked around Beetham and Silverdale on the Lancashire/Cumbria border, an enchanting part of the world full of ruined towers, beautiful little villages and woods that run right down to the sea.

IMG_2721Our route took us past stately homes…

IMG_2727panoramic views…

IMG_2734hundreds of spring flowers…

IMG_2728and a real live fairy door!

IMG_2729Isn’t this the cutest thing you ever saw? It was just to the side of the path by a viewpoint known as the ‘Fairy Steps’ – a very narrow path up a limestone cliff – legend has it that if you reach the top without touching the sides you’ll see a fairy/get a wish. We didn’t manage it, but we did get to see the door. I would have loved this when I was little, and to be honest it quite made my day yesterday too :-)

IMG_2730After that we headed downhill at a brisk rate for soup and cake at the utterly phenomenal Wolfhouse Kitchen. This cafe is tucked away in a quiet corner between the woods and the sea and serves the most wonderful cakes. Indeed it was so good that we forgot to take any pics of them in our greed, went for a three mile walk afterwards to walk off lunch, went back again for more cakes and coffee and forgot for a second time to take a picture. I had a rhubarb and vanilla friand first, and then a plum, marzipan and vanilla cake. OH had a strawberry, lemon and almond bundt – twice.

No, we didn’t need to eat much when we got in yesterday evening.


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Cherry blossom time

 

IMG_2697The light today has been just wonderful, and although I’ve had a long day at my laptop I had to keep sneaking out into the garden to catch as much of the spring rush as possible. You can almost see the cherry opening – no wonder they have celebrations of this in Japan.

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IMG_2698And for the first time this year it was just warm enough to head into the garden after work to sit and enjoy the sunshine – admittedly with a scarf on as the wind is still chilly, but that didn’t matter.

IMG_2701I don’t want to miss a second of this spectacular colour.

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Unwinding

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I’ve recently reverted to a childhood pleasure: colouring books. This is mainly because of a lovely Christmas gift from my other half of the above book: Secret Garden by Johanna Basford. This amazing book takes colouring to a completely new level – with its minute detail and stunning designs it’s really not aimed at children. Having a quick look around the web today too, it was clear to see that lots of people use it in just the same way I do: it’s a great way to switch off and wind down.

IMG_2692I’ve been using Stabilo pens (pictured on my blogpost here last year) to colour mine and they seem to work really well, they have fine points but also enable you to colour larger areas without leaving too many tide marks. If you’re a frustrated artist looking for something creative and quick, do try this book – I’m planning on framing some of the pages when I finish them as they’re so lovely.

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In addition to my artistic endeavours, I’ve been trying a new scone recipe today:Blueberry, lime and coconut scones from a Jo Wheatley recipe in Sainsbury’s mag this month. They were absolutely delicious, but I had to use almost double the amount of milk stated to get the dough to bind together – maybe my lime was a bit small. I always find that’s a problem when recipes just state ‘juice of a lemon/lime/orange’ as the amount of juice you get varies widely. Beautiful combination of flavours though, highly recommended :-)

 


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Blossom time

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This is proving to be a seriously good spring for all types of flowers – tulips are coming out all over the garden, the forget-me-nots are just getting into their stride and I don’t think I ever remember seeing so many flowers on the magnolia and camellia.

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IMG_2671To give you an idea of scale, I can just about stretch to reach the top of the magnolia, and the camellia outgrew me a few years back. We planted both of them the year we moved into this house over 20 years ago and they’ve brightened every spring since.

IMG_2672Today had been grey with low cloud until about 5pm when the sky cleared and there was the most amazing low angled sun lighting up all the flowers.

IMG_2677I’d been reading the Portraits of Wildflowers blog earlier today about the amazing wild flower meadows in Texas at this time of year and thinking how marvellous it must be to see that. But honestly, the forget-me-nots, celandines and all the other parts of an English spring aren’t half bad either.

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