2016: the year of spaciousness

Because there's more to life than work


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Transition

There’s something in the air…the sun’s still out but it feels warm rather than scorching and I’m not sure how many more times this year I’ll be wearing my flip flops.

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Mushrooms appearing all over on our walk this afternoon, and the empty shells of horse chestnut cases in the park showed that some of the local kids are stocking up on conkers as part of their ‘back to school’ preparations.

IMG_1804And another excellent week for gathering blackberries, and lots of red ones still showing mean that hopefully there’ll be more for weeks yet to come…

IMG_1807…which provides many more opportunities to perfect my apple and blackberry crumble recipe 🙂

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August escape

IMG_1801The sunflower that was just a bud at the start of the week is now fully out, and the bees are thoroughly enjoying it…

IMG_1798I’ve never grown sunflowers before and am in awe of the fantastic spiral patterns in their centres – this is only a small one but really, why would you want to grow the super tall ones when it’s so much more satisfying to see their flowers up close?

We had a quick day trip up to the Lakes yesterday and called in at Holehird, the display gardens of the Lakeland Horticultural Society – these must be some of the best sited gardens in the UK – they overlook the Coniston Fells, Langdales and Lake Windermere. Superb colour groupings as well, this one in particular caught my eye.

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IMG_1796The photo above was taken in the gardens about 5pm and the hazy evening light was just gorgeous. The Lakes is so stunning though that even with no guiding hand in place the scenery can still take your breath away.

IMG_1790Despite it being a Bank Holiday week, the hills were surprisingly quiet and it was a fantastic peaceful interlude. Sun, a gentle breeze, lovely views, tarns with wild water lilies, inviting paths, rocks to scramble over, and you’re never more than a few miles from a great cake shop. Perfect for August chilling out.


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Rambling and knitting

More walks in the dunes this afternoon as the counterbalance to a very frustrating morning of paperwork. We were lucky enough to see the beautiful flowers of Grass of Parnassus (which isn’t a grass at all – where do these names come from?).

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There were so many of them in the damper parts of the dunes…

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IMG_1763Lots of butterflies again too, completely foiling my attempts at identification. The sea came in while we were down on the dunes, there was a lovely cool breeze blowing in with it, and you could see for miles. Lovely counterbalance to form filling. I’ve also finally finished my shawl that I started back several months ago – just in time for my mum’s 80th later this week.

IMG_1776The pattern is Light and Up by Caroline Wiens from Ravelry and was lovely and easy to knit, although the rows get longer and longer as you go! Wool was Lang Yarns Jawoll Magic Degrade and gives you that fantastic multicoloured look very easily. The colours are much deeper than they appear on here – just right as autumn comes around the corner.


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Butterflies galore

Beautiful day from first thing today, with the dew thick on the lawn. All the drops sparkled different colours as the sun hit it – spent quite a while lying on the grass trying to capture it but think it’s beyond my photography skills!

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After us saying earlier in the year that we’d never seen so few butterflies, the hot weather in July and August has certainly reversed that trend. There were literally hundreds of blue butterflies dancing around when we went for a walk by the lake yesterday – we even had them landing on our backs and heads!

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IMG_1729It’s hard to see when they move around so fast, but there seemed to be lots of different types – you can see the two above have totally different markings. We went for a walk down the dunes before lunch today and there were even more, plus one I’d never seen before:

IMG_1752I think it’s a clouded yellow, but please let me know if you know butterflies well and I’m on the wrong track! Beautiful and peaceful down by the sea – the tourists were all up the other end by the candy floss stalls and ice cream vans. We came across a whole valley filled with rosebay willowherb – you can just see the back of my head in the top right of the picture below which gives you an idea of how tall they were.

IMG_1756Back home for a cup of tea and a slice of the blackberry and apple cake which turned out really well yesterday. Just a basic sponge – 175g of butter, sugar and flour with 3 eggs made by the creaming method. Stir in 1 cored and chopped apple and a load of blackberries at the end, then some more blackberries sprinkled on top and covered with a crumble mixture (50g flour and butter rubbed together with 25g sugar stirred in at the end with a handful of almonds and 1/4 tsp cinnamon). Baked in a 20cm springform at Gas 5 for 1 hr – honestly think it’s one of the best cakes I’ve ever made, really moist.

IMG_1734Hope you’re having a great Bank Holiday too!


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Back in the flow

Well, that was a long break. And I realised that a lot of the tension I’ve been feeling the last few weeks was down to not taking enough time out to pause and reflect – so, back to some therapeutic blogging. It has been such a fantastic summer this year – some of the August highlights below:

IMG_1698Great sunsets – we’re really lucky to live near the coast and so if it looks like it’s going to be a spectacular one (and often you can’t tell till the very last minute) it’s less than 5 minutes to nip down the road and watch it set over the beach and marshes. And if there’s no time to do even that, the garden makes a very nice backdrop.

IMG_1706Vibrant flowers – I love our native wild flowers and cottage garden plants, but there’s something about the bold splashes of colour you get from late summer flowers like Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’…

IMG_1708Shocking pink phlox – these are from a cutting from my mum’s garden, she’s grown them since I was at infant school.

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Golden Heleniums – this is the first year I’ve grown these, bought a plant for 30p from a guy down the road and they’ve been flowering for weeks now.

IMG_1716And can’t wait for this sunflower to open! Just a chance seedling that came up in one of my pots, probably from feeding the birds in winter.

IMG_1715Delightful cakes – this was a raspberry strudel one I made a couple of weeks ago; last week I did a blackberry and nutella one and I’ve got a blackberry, apple and almond one in the oven as I type this. The blackberries will probably be a recurrent theme over the next few weeks as it looks like being a bumper crop.

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Signs of autumn – yes, even though it’s hot outside, the rowan berries and rose hips are turning red already…and the air’s got that golden tinge to it that’s telling me to make the most of it while it lasts – so I’m off in the garden!