Wednesday, 23 September 2009

A heartfelt 'thankyou'

I realised as soon as I had published my last post that it was my 50th since beginning my 'wild somerset child' blog - and this morning when switching on my computer I discovered that I now have 50 followers! I am so very grateful and want to say 'thank you' to everyone who looks at some of the silly things I post; your very presence has uplifted and sustained me. Your comments have encouraged and supported me, often when I was in low spirits; for in one way and another, it has been a difficult year.

Your own blogs have inspired me: stimulating and often thought-provoking. To have become a part of the blogging community has been such a privilege; to correspond with people whom I have never met from around the world has been sometimes literally a lifeline in an isolated life. (Though I am not lonely, but writing is a very solitary affair and one does crave company from time to time.) I have been a poor blogging friend - my 'drafts' email box is still full of people who have left me comments, awaiting a reply. I have promised to do things that are still outstanding. I apologise.

I began blogging quite by chance last November, but in earnest at the turn of the year. I had been commissioned to write an article on 'creating a gardening blog' last Autumn. At the time, I had a simple iWeb blog but felt it necessary, in terms of the blog feature, to recommend a service that PC users would be able to use. I was mystified by 'Blogger' at first, but have come to love it. Now, having familiarised myself with some of its intricacies, often with advice from fellow bloggers, I turned this month to re-vamping my website. That is still in its infancy - little by little it will reflect the things that I do, the activities that I love and that are so much a part of my working life.

music to soothe the soul: angel playing (in Tewkesbury Abbey)

Thought for the day: become a follower of a 'new' blogger and watch their blogging confidence grow, as they post and you comment. A circle of friendship around the globe. Such a marvellous way to become acquainted.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Everyday Jottings - this and that

autumn chestnut

Today began early, or rather I woke early, knowing I needed to make bread, as we have guests coming to stay. I notice the chestnut tree on the Green opposite our bedroom window, and was minded that tomorrow is the first day of Autumn - take a pic whilst I remember; this is the tree I photograph in all lights and all seasons. Maybe I should make an image transfer book of all these pics. By the time I retrieved my camera (i.e. I couldn't remember where I had put it down yesterday), the pinky glow in the dawn sky had gone. But the chestnut still had that bronzed look about it; leaves are already falling, a carpet on the ground.

It has been, and is going to be, one of those 'crossing place' weekends: tasks complete and others to begin, when nothing is to its usual routine. Good for me, or I become obsessed with whatever is currently on my mind (like websites and canvassing new work and clearing the garden). Friday was a working day off: the sun was shining so off to the airfield to take photos for a promotional leaflet we are doing for some acquaintances, and to organise a 'fly-in' for October. We need to find a lunch venue and so check the pub we have in mind. Lovely, must post about this when the time comes, but meanwhile, we sample their coffee and note menus (sound delicious) and I - on a working day - sit and make notes on the fabric/paper journal I have actually started (I'll post about that on my Journaling blog 'ere long). 

Back home, I put the finishing touches to a travel article on Ludlow and the Shropshire Hills. Relief that that is done and Raymond's accompanying pics are glorious.  Saturday was house preparation day. My way of tidying (which only happens when we expect guests!) is to take all the paper clutter that has amassed in the kitchen and file it in a cardboard box! I fetch a similar box to de-clutter my work table so I can paint pocket pages for next weekend's Malvern Autumn Show; it will have a large golden paper-napkin sunflower on the cover, and ripe fiery squashes inside. Raymond needs help in the garden where he is working on the footings for my new greenhouse (the one in which we will grow over-wintering salads, and next year the best tomatoes ever (I hope). I cart barrowloads of bricks, and then - it is such a lovely day - I chop up all the elderly elder that we grubbed out of the hedge to make space for the g'house, and burn what cannot be salvaged for the heating boiler.

The new hens escape, repeatedly, but they are laying beautiful and such tasty eggs. My mood of the last week lightens; I decide not to post the poem of gloom I wrote a couple of days ago. The only remaining flying example of a world war two Lancaster bomber flies low overhead, and later, ditto a Vulcan. Such beautiful aircraft - yet their purpose was destruction. I take photos of the nasturtium - a flaming climber through the rose and willow - and veg for my recipe pages on the website (I'm lagging behind with this; too much else to do). Must find out what to do with the borlotti beans; soup I think.

flaming nasturtiums in the 'square foot' garden hedge

climbing borlotti beans (the pods are actually more vermillion than this)

When I should be cleaning (!) I sneak up to the roof space and gather together snippets of fabric for little journal. It is to have a watery theme and I find the perfect blue, with lighter streaks inlaid; I've had this fabric for thirty years at least; it's been waiting for something. I'll strip out the wavy bits and patchwork them with coloured pieces (they can be the swimmers cleaving their way through the water, causing ripples). My watery 'swimming' poems will be superimposed over more of this blue fabric. All goes into a bag with silk threads so I can start handstitching  once the chores are done.

'watery' fabric - I'll strip out and piece together the ripples

And now Sunday and time to get up and start baking. (How useful to be able to 'lap tap' in bed on my laptop; gaining time somehow as we drink early morning tea.) Lunch and supper are organised, the guest room is ready with fresh towels in the shower-room and a new cream throw on the bed. And tomorrow we take our guest to Tewkesbury Abbey, where I will photograph angels for my 'heaven and earth' project. Crossing from summer to autumn .... and homely things.

Friday, 11 September 2009


Oh the joy of working in the garden again, as I have all day, clearing space for a new greenhouse; of being outside once more after a long 'office week' indoors. The sun has been shining; it has been warm with a cloudless blue sky, birds overhead and the earthy smell of our bonfire woodsmoke in the air.

It was just such a day eight years ago, on 11th September 2001, when, as I was driving home mid-afternoon from shopping in town, half-listening to the car radio, I caught the news that "a light aircraft has flown into a New York skyscraper". Increasing disbelief as the tragedy of the Twin Towers unfolded and the enormity of the situation was revealed.

I was reminded of the horror only this last week when I watched on tv '9/11: 102 minutes that changed America'. A remarkable film, but to understand the thought processes of people who can commit such a diabolical crime is beyond belief. What happened to love? I still feel for everyone who was hurt by this atrocity, cannot truly contemplate their individual grief and pain. So I sit quiet in the garden for a while and write a poem, "On this day ...", which I will not share publicly for fear my words might upset anyone (though I will gladly send it personally to anyone who asks). Maybe it is insensitive of me to even remark upon 9/11, but I cannot get it out of my head. Far over the Atlantic, yet NY is only six hours away, and but a nano-second in the mind.

I reflect on the difference between destruction, peace, and consideration for others, and what it means to give pleasure. I bake a Friendship Cake for our tea and offer a sweet morsel, metaphorically, to all who care to share the true meaning of humanity.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Websites, Walks & Art Projects

screen shot of one of the pages in my new website

I have spent weeks worrying about the state of my website, and the last three days doing something about it - staring at the computer screen for hours on end. Like so many things, when you tackle a problem it eventually disappears. I was supposed to be adding recipes to augment an article on preserves that had appeared in the July issue of 'Grow it!' magazine, but for one reason and another, the two versions of the web software I use (iWeb) are not compatible. I could not add material to my existing site and the latest software would not open old files. So I decided to re-vamp the whole thing and begin again.

I still haven't added the recipes (yet!) and at one point screamed in frustration when I had deleted all the old web pages and the new ones would not load. But it's up and running now, though still evolving; there is much to do yet. Do please take a look - I hope you enjoy it; just click on this link: If you like what you see, do please leave a comment (good or bad!) on this blog, or email me (there is a link to my email address on my 'Welcome' page).

sloes on the blackthorn in the roadside hedgerow where I walked

Exercise was essential after all that brainwork (I'm technically incompetent), and a walk on the wild-side, out of the village, past the blackthorn hedge now dripping with sloes, and on down the road to view the new 'Chapel House Allotments', which only came into being earlier this year, established by a group of determined villagers.

They are amazing. Back in March, all that existed was a sloping grass field. Now it is productive, and quite beautiful.

notice inviting villagers to walk in the woodland

Bright Wood stretches up the hill to the left; on the right is little stream that feeds into the River Stour, then the Avon; it eventually reaches the Severn, the sea and the Atlantic Ocean

I walk on, still only five minutes from home, and discover that the small coppice planted not that long ago has grown into a wonderful hillside wood, into which the public are invited. This will be somewhere to which to escape whenever I feel fraught and in need of solitude; how glad I am that we live on this side of the village.

Back home, I turn to my art projects; or rather to the file of photocopies that outline my creative thoughts of the last few months. They need cataloguing! I ought to be 'doing' and resolve to sketch the hogweed seedhead I photographed on my walk, and to actually press the striking vermillion maple leaves that I collected from alongside the burbling stream that I crossed on my way home.

I can visualise this as a free-form embroidery, dark cream thread on a beige linen; or sketched on tissue, crinkled, and applied to one of my paperbag pocket-pages

when pressed flat, but still limp, these will be mounted in a fabric journal using bondaweb, or sandwiched between pale apricot gauze