2016: the year of spaciousness

Because there's more to life than work

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Chill winds

Strong northerly breeze keeping temperatures well below zero all day today. I’m still getting over a bad chest infection from last week, so nature was absorbed today either at a remove through the car window, or in quick dashes between the car and the house.

Crocus in sunlight

Crocus tommasinianus

The light was amazing today though – pure blue sky and clear sunshine ensuring that every crocus in the garden was wide open. These are some of my favourite crocuses (I’ve written about them before here) as they seed themselves around so prolifically, and are much earlier to flower than the usual crocuses you see.  I love the contrast between the pale mauve outer petals and the deeper middle ones.

Crocus in bud

I suppose their origin in Eastern Europe accounts for their early bird nature – nothing much seems to affect these beautiful early blooms.




On making time

Title of this post is quite ironic really as my poor OH has just spent the last half an hour trying to get WordPress to upload my pics – don’t know if any of you have had problems with this in the last week or so, but looking at the forum it seems I’m not alone with this glitch. Photos keep vanishing and reappearing on my site. But they’re back for now…where was I? Ah yes. Making time.


IMG_2496If a sunny Saturday morning isn’t a good reason to create some time, I’d like to know what is.

IMG_2497A bee floated by me as I took the photo above and the garden was full of birdsong.

IMG_2498Laptop & weekend work schedule abandoned, we headed for the woods and the sea:


IMG_2504The storms here on the north west coast haven’t been as bad as many other parts of the UK, but there’s still been a fair bit of coastal erosion. The dunes in particular have seen some dramatic ‘blow outs’ – in one place the sand had virtually covered a small wood and it was extremely weird to be wading about in sand amongst the tops of its branches…

IMG_2505It’s hard to tell scale here, but this ravine is about 50 feet deep, amazing wind sculpture on the sides, looks like sandstone until you touch it and realise it’s actually still just sand.

IMG_2506Clear skies across to Wales – and so much sand blowing along the beach that we felt like we’d been scoured by the time we got back to the woods.

January and February have been busy, exciting and rewarding months, but what I need more than anything right now is some calm, settled weather, sunshine and longer days, and a gentle glide into spring.



Here comes the sun!

So fantastic to see blue skies this morning, and great mood booster. I have to say I was not in a good state of mind this morning: I’ve just been experiencing that horrible realisation that the hair cut I had on Friday that looked fab in the hairdressers, when washed and styled by me today makes me look like I cut it myself in a fit of temper. Why does this happen?? If any of you have hints on how to make an angled bob lie flat and look like it’s angled, rather than that you just stuck a bowl on your head and cut around it, please comment: I’ll be very grateful.

So while my lovely other half has gone to do the food shop so I could calm down (‘I can tell you’re not really up to it’), I thought a blog post would be just the thing to take my mind off it. So what’s been happening? Lots of cooking good stuff like the garlic and rosemary focaccia he made last week:


Quite a bit of embroidery – really like the way the black embroidery over the colours makes it look like the leading on a Tiffany lamp:

IMG_2430And some admiring of the spring flowers that are starting to appear in the garden. So lovely to see colour again after all the grey and rain of January.


IMG_2440The first crocuses are really starting to open out now, and saw the first of the Iris reticulatas this morning too.

IMG_2435These are incredibly tiny – the whole flower is about half the size of my thumb at the moment.

The hellebores are also getting into their stride – I’ve seen people arrange these by floating the flowerheads in a bowl like waterlilies, which is a great idea as the centres are so spectacular and you can’t admire them properly when they’re hanging down.


Ah. That’s better. Diversionary tactics worked nicely. The haircut will grow out, and it’s not that big a deal in the scheme of things. Shining sun, spring on the way and a partner who’ll do a dull chore on his own to give me some time out – that’s the important stuff that’s worth celebrating.




Spring’s on its way!

2014 is turning out to be such a contrast to 2013. Last year, it was March before I saw the crocuses coming up in the garden – in fact, it was one of the first entries on my nice new blog last year. I stepped out the door though this morning to be greeted by this early bird:

IMG_2424I’d say in a couple of weeks or so the garden will be full of these. These are really early crocuses (Crocus tomassinianus, if you want its Sunday name!) and are a fantastic crocus to grow as they seed themselves. I bought a pack of ten a few years ago and we now have literally hundreds all over the front garden. They are also much earlier to flower than the big Dutch hybrids (the fat,velvety ones in deep purple, yellow and with stripes that you see all over parks), and I love them for the fact that, as is the case in my garden this year, they’re often out before the snowdrops.

The other bulbs (daffodils, grape hyacinths, irises and chionodoxas) are also progressing well:

IMG_2425There’s something about bulbs that makes me so happy. I think it’s the fact that they reliably appear when everything around them seems dead and grey, a real, tangible reminder that the year is on the turn and warmer days are coming. The sun is setting slightly later now and I notice that from tomorrow, where I live, it’ll be around until 16.31. That’s nearly a full 45 mins more of daylight since Christmas. I also can’t wait for a bit of dryer weather: we’ve been incredibly lucky here compared to many parts of the UK that have had such awful flooding, but everywhere is still dank and muddy, and a couple of weeks of dry weather would be a real delight. I’ll keep hoping…but the bulbs are a sign that good things are getting nearer.


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Inspiring reading

I love books – I have library cards in 3 separate counties (well, you never know when you might need a book when you’re out and about, right?) and have a room in my house devoted to them, but I found my addiction went up a notch when my other half bought me a Kindle for my birthday last month. I’ve always been adamant I didn’t want one, as I love the feel and look of paper books, so what changed my mind? Briefly, Project Gutenberg. If you have an e-reader and haven’t heard of this, go and have a look. It’s a mind-blowing resource of all out of copyright literature – free of charge. This includes most literature written before the early 1920’s – fiction and non-fiction, and just browsing the author lists throws up some amazing sounding titles (‘Tobogganing on Parnassus’ anyone?)

Last night I downloaded ‘The Enchanted April’ and am really enjoying it – the story of two downtrodden middle-class housewives in 1920’s London who throw caution to the winds and rent a castle in Italy for a month to the shock/disinterest of their respective husbands. The descriptions of their first day in Italy with the sunshine, warmth and flowers is just beautiful – and then I looked out the window and realised it was pretty nice here too, so went for a walk.

Our local park always has a fantastic display of crocuses in spring, and even though I knew they’d been out for a while I hoped the cold weather might have made them last longer. It had!


I go and see these every year and they still take my breath away. It must have been a huge job planting all these originally, but the display they make each spring always seems like the fanfare that kicks off the growing season.


Enchanted March, I think.