2016: the year of spaciousness

Because there's more to life than work

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Blossom time



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.


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.




Reflections on the past year – and spring flowers


Wow, I’ve been so busy with work that I actually missed my blogiversary on the 19th – can’t believe I’ve been doing this a whole year! Thanks to everyone who’s liked my posts over that time, as well as the hardy souls who follow my blog 🙂


What’s changed since I started the blog?

  1. I’ve learned that I can make a success of running my own business – just coming up to the anniversary of going full time on that, and all is well
  2. I’ve also learned that knowing when to take breaks and rest your mind is absolutely vital to being able to continue to do that
  3. I can actually work our digital camera for the first time in ten years
  4. I’ve got a lot more into gardening and nature as a result of paying more attention to what’s happening in the world around me
  5. IMG_2594I’ve become more relaxed about posting – I blog when I feel like it rather than trying to impose a schedule. As an awful lot of my life is deadline focussed, it’s quite nice to have something creative that isn’t.
  6. I’m following about 100 more blogs than last year at this time – it’s a real highlight of my day catching up with what everyone’s writing about
  7. I’ve posted comments on other people’s blogs for the first time – I’d never done it before this year, but it’s really nice connecting with people half a world away
  8. My knowledge of geography of the USA has got a lot better – I like to see where other bloggers live and as so many of them are ‘across the pond’ I’m finally starting to get a grip on some of the states


Its also fun to look back on last year and realise that spring has hit a lot earlier than last year at this time – although the sunshine through my patio door today is deceptive, we’ve just come back from a walk and the north wind is absolutely bitter. We could just see snow on the hills in the Lake District in the distance, so even though we’re past the equinox there’s a whole lot of warming still to happen. But the colour and light in the garden today tells me it won’t be long…


I’m looking forward to another year of blogging and seeing what it teaches me – not to mention what I’ll learn from everyone else 🙂


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Staying home Sunday

We have had some simply stunning weather over the last week, and I’ve been able to get some lovely evening shots of the garden. This was from a couple of days ago:


However, summer has now clearly been and gone – the heating is back on and it’s rained pretty heavily all day. Got out this morning to take a couple of pics of the garden – I’m normally a fair weather photographer but wanted to capture the camellia petals on the ground before they turned brown.

IMG_1308They’re so beautiful and there are such a lot when they fall at once – my other half made this petal path down the garden a couple of years ago, which I absolutely loved!

IMG_0537Tilly certainly knows how to make a grand entrance – or maybe she just felt that we’d finally come up with a proper ‘catwalk’ for her! Also wanted to get a picture of the ‘foam flower’ (lovely name) or Tiarella, which is just about fully out now.

IMG_1310This is such a dainty plant, great ground cover and thrives in shade, yet you don’t really see it about much – no idea why as it’s easy to split and increase. Rain started in earnest after this, so headed back in and carried on knitting the new scarf I cast on last night – lovely soft multicolour wool and will post a pic when it’s a bit bigger. Tea tonight was one of my favourite easy cook meals: spanish tortilla. It took me years to get this right, the potato was never soft enough or the onion was too burnt – think I’ve got it about mastered now. The secret is to use a small frying pan (mine is 8 inches wide for a 4 person omelette), plenty of olive oil, chop the onion rather than slice it, and use small slices of new potato. And take it slow – it takes me about 2 hrs start to finish, but it’s not exactly hard work as it cooks unattended for the most part. I slow fry the onion for about 20 mins, then add the potato (about 50-60g?) and cook for about another 30 mins. Once tender I take the pan off the heat, mix the contents into a bowl containing 5 eggs beaten with salt and pepper, then pour it all back into the same pan and continue to cook till the egg is nearly set on top (about 30 mins). You can then either finish it under the grill (less mess) or upend the whole pan onto a plate and slide it back in with the uncooked side facing down. Both methods only take about 5 mins to finish the egg off.

IMG_1317We like it slightly cooled, and a quarter per person stuffed into a warm baguette spread with olive oil, tomatoes and olives is a good sized meal. A few chips on the side is even nicer 🙂 Leftovers can be easily warmed up another day, and I think they actually taste better then too. Spanish food is so good, just need the spanish weather to go with it too!

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Bringing the outside in

Too cold and blustery today to be outside much, so picked some flowers to enjoy them before the wet weather hit. A small vase of lily of the valley, forget me nots and spring beauty (the pink ones) scented my office beautifully.


And these camellia flowers were just too lovely to not admire at closer quarters.

IMG_1296The vase (which you can just see) is one of my favourites, it was my late mother-in-law’s from Lancaster Pottery and has the most beautiful lustre to it.

We’ve been deprived of my other half’s speciality – bespoke flapjacks – since he broke his arm a few weeks ago, so he coached me today on the production of some banana and raspberry ones. Not quite up to the maestro’s standard, but still very nice with a wind down coffee at the end of the day.

IMG_1298I didn’t make them with that gap, but clearly a couple had to be removed for sampling purposes before I could take a photo.

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Evening wind-down

This morning, we were both fascinated by the sight of one of the hardest working blackbirds we’ve ever seen going backwards and forwards with his beak so full of nest material, it was a wonder he could fly! In and out of the pots, borders and lawn, he was collecting all the twigs, moss, grass and other bits and pieces that must surely have been destined for a real ‘Grand Designs’ nest. His other half must have been well impressed – at one point you couldn’t see him when he turned to face us he was carrying so much. I was dying to get a picture of him, but didn’t want to disturb him – so here instead is where the nest building is going on…


The blackbird nest is in the ivy at the top, while the winter jasmine below is home to a whole colony of sparrows. It’s about 6 feet deep now – there’s never a time of year when we can safely cut it back as the birds are either raising young, or sheltering from the cold.

No sign of him later today on a beautiful evening, but there was certainly a lot of singing going on in the garden, so maybe they’re having a house warming party. Next door’s cat was certainly not going to do anything about it…


So many flowers out today, and love the light at this time of evening – camellia…


Japanese quince…


And my favourite, forget-me-nots. We never planted any of these – one appeared one year, seeded itself and has gradually colonised much of the garden.

IMG_1208I really love self seeders in a garden – once you start to get those, that’s when the garden starts to design itself, as things grow naturally in the areas they’re best suited and look more natural like that. And the more plants you get, the less bare soil there is for weeds to grow in, so although our garden is crammed with flowers it’s much lower maintenance than if we planted out bedding each year. Which means more time for looking and enjoying 🙂