Thursday, 30 December 2010

New Year : New Blog - an invitation to view

In June 2010, I was engaged professionally to write a monthly on-line newsletter for the long-established seed company, Dobies of Devon, for 'keen and dedicated gardeners'. Last month, I was asked to extend what I have been doing and write a weekly blog as well, covering a mix of gardening topics, along with recipes from my Cotswold kitchen, inspirational gardens to visit, book reviews, and much else. I am really excited about all this, for they are such a lovely, friendly company to work with, and this new blog will in no way be a 'hard sell'. Other team members will be contributing as well, so it should be a fascinating mix of topics and information.

The 'Dobies of Devon Gardening Companion' went 'live' for the first time this morning; please click on the link - it would be wonderful if you would leave a comment.  The layout isn't perfect yet; it's the first time I've contributed to a team blog, so their may be unintentional hiccups at my end. And if you'd like to learn more about the company itself and what they offer, please click here - you can also access my newsletter ('a helping hand' lower left of screen on the Dobies website).

creating a new bit of garden for two of the grandchildren, nearly seven years ago

I am passionate about so many things, and one is to pass on  to future generations the joy of gardening, wildlife, food, history, literature, and creating with ones hands. And, in case you are wondering: no, I haven't been asked to promulgate this new blog; I just truly love what I do and want to share it with others.

A very happy new year to all 'bloggers' and all the best for 2011.

Friday, 24 December 2010

On the eve of Christmas

With love and best wishes from me, the 'Wild Somerset Child' (Ann Somerset Miles) and the 'man-about-the-house' (my husband Ray Quinton, whose photo this is) a peaceful Christmas and a Happy New Year - all the best for 2011.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Winter Solstice Story

"Ann's Tree" - my gift from Jackie of 'Blissfully Imperfect', because I had the temerity to say her tree-post inspired me to spill a poem (perhaps a better phrase would have been a 'tree-whisper')

It is amazing how blogging draws people together from around the world, generates online friendships that otherwise might not have happened, if it were not for what one posts. So it was with me - not my post, but that of Blissfully Imperfect; I left a somewhat flippant comment - well, it wasn't meant to be flippant, but Jackie's response challenged me to deliver words inspired by her tree-post. And so, as so often happens, you set up a dialogue through emails and sometimes snail mail. I wrote Jackie two tree-whispers, and to my astonishment, and absolute delight, she sent me not only the fabric tree that had so inspired me, but a beautiful hand-made card as well.

And look closely: what had been Tree 4.00 and then 4.1 is now inscribed as "Ann's Tree"! I had to know more, how and why did this series of beautiful fabric creations come into being?

Jackie is a 'process explorer', and recently, as she says in her blog: "several somethings have clicked together to result in my trees: a desire to create on a more daily basis; a need for completion; a growing pile of fabric surface design explorations; a fascination with 3D constructions; a love of minimal form."  Right now she is creating her 12th tree and all - except 'mine' started out as white fabric which she "dyed, over-dyed, painted, stamped or batik-ed in layers to get the final look.  Sometimes I'm cutting and pasting, sometimes I"m strip-piecing, sometimes I create the fabric specifically for the project, sometimes I stitch in layers and cut back to reveal beneath." 'My tree' is fashioned from Bali and African batik fabrics which is why I think I loved it so; Jackie says she was "drawn to them by their visual texture and colour".

So much skill, such imagination. I study this magical creation, and more words spring to mind, a final tree-whisper, to say 'thankyou'.

Tree 4.1 ("Ann's Tree") is dancing, pirouetting, like leaves blowing in a wind coloured as rainbow

And so "Ann's Tree" - a gift, and for me a celebration of the winter-solstice - sits on my desk, takes on a personality of its own, and has prompted so many poem spills and word-whispers that my notebook overflows with forest scribblings. And all because bloggers the world over trigger a wealth of creativity, and friendship.

P.S. Did anyone see the total eclipse of the moon this morning (7.40am GMT) - evidently the first time for 400 years that this has occurred on the solstice. It was too cloudy here. I went out to shovel snow instead!

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Snow Birds

You might not think this was taken in colour, so fast fell the snow, until you spot the bird feeding on the bird-table - taken through a somewhat dirty double-glazed window.

We awoke to a light dusting of snow, knowing that more was forecast. Gradually, as the light grew, a few light flakes, like gessoed drizzle. Birds approached the bird-table: robin, chaffinches, tits - great-, coal- and blue-, then a flock of greenfinches. And almost unawares as I de-cluttered our kitchen shelves, a thrush: not one but two, chasing each other off. At first, he - I assume it was a he, ATE snow, sitting low within an evergreen shrub. 

Snow-crystals descending in a whirl as, imperceptibly, the dusting became a frozen deluge, a white wonder. And the thrush moved under the shelter of an overhanging box-bush, gorging on the red berries of Cotoneaster horizontalis. Suddenly he is on the bird-table, attacking the suet fat-ball; he feeds for a whole half-hour, defending the territory against all comers. Unusual behaviour, this; and both birds feed, taking turns - differentiated by the slightly different markings on their breast.

The snow continues to fall all day, a soft white blanket, ever-deepening as the hours proceed. Everywhere so perfectly quiet; and best of all, the sound of silence; nothing is moving, only the hungry birds outside our kitchen window, and me, photographing them through the window.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Phasanius colchicus

terrible pic - read on, and you'll see why!

look very closely: you can just spot a disappearing tail

This pheasant-tale is but an interlude in all that has been happening here in this old and crumbling house. So much to tell, from the bursting of the 40-year old boiler and it's replacement which took Raymond a whole month for one reason and another (but that's another story). And then my laptop has been 'playing-up'. Cannot get internet access reliably in the evening, which is when I catch up with blogging and bloggers. Without the camaraderie of posts, I feel bereft and lost; and so tonight am sitting late in my office (the new heating's gone off now) wrapped in a fleecy-white dressing gown typing away on the G4. I'll make cocoa in a moment and return to read what I have been missing. The radio is on in the bedroom next door so I know R. is almost asleep.