Monday, 16 July 2018

July

I had a walk in the woods this weekend. Are these orchids? They grow every year in the same place on a meadow in a shady spot.  I don't know really what they are, they only lasted a week - when I returned to show a friend, they were withered.   They always grow in the same spot.  It's times when you see something beautiful like this that you just need to stop for a moment and appreciate - there was a time I would have wanted to pick them all but not any more - they are more beautiful where they grow than anywhere else.  Update: thank you for your comments, I think you are right, this is toadflax - very pretty and similar to snapdragons, not orchids. 









See how many there are - and tall thistles too - red admiral butterflies love them.




There were huge dragonflies as fat as cigars swooping over us but it was impossible to capture them on camera as they were so fast.




A neighbour has hollyhocks I wanted to paint them, then I found some in a magazine, which inspired this watercolour.  I think I am a silk painter mostly, but I have been trying hard with the watercolour, I can see my shortcomings.  How do you prevent these 'cauliflowers' as they are called? they happen when you try to cover large expanses, like sky, you can't have a picture without the sky so it's got to be mastered  - Should I wet the paper first perhaps? who knows.  Despite grandparents who painted I never asked the right questions, or showed any interest when they were there to help, too late now as they are gone.  Isn't that the way with life in general, we don't appreciate the knowledge and experience of the old and wise and yet they could make things so much quicker and easier if only we bothered to spend time with them.  When I am old - which is soon - I will be bursting with advice whether asked for or not methinks!



The UK is in a drought situation.  My lawns are dead and so are most of the bushes in my borders.  Only a few plants in pots are surviving as I water them daily from a can - I don't think we have a hosepipe ban but I haven't used mine anyway just in case and on principal.  Ambercat is very hot and bothered and is spending a lot of time lying on the dirt under a bush,  she loves it when I put sheets out over the garden chairs to dry as she can sneak underneath them like a soggy tent.  The whole country is drying up - it's unusual and worrying as the forecast is for another month or more of these temperatures with no rain,.


I took a day trip by train to Brighton and lay on the beach all afternoon dozing.  There was a rowing club out on the water with brightly coloured boats and many people swimming and paddling.  I went down The Lanes exploring and had an ice cream.

I had lunch at Leon (again) ... look how delicous there veggie meatless balls still are,
second visit in a month:




I also went to the pub close behind our house, it's such an easy short walk. I met an old friend and we chatted then strolled the woods which took us home.



I have absolutely nothing else to tell you, have been very idle lately and just wanted to say hello.  Thanks for stopping by and for being a follower.  Bye for now :)

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Summer Days, Drifting Away





I was early for work yesterday so popped in the play park on the way and went on the swings.  I do love a good swing, no grown ups were looking so I think I got away with it.  There were school children hurriedly finishing homework on  picnic benches and a few workmen fixing things - here they are playing on the roundabout (perk of the job I expect).  There are some lovely flowers to look at and a wonderful smell of freshly mown grass.  What a great start to the day.
workmen at play

 The park also has a lovely wildflower section.
 Amber and I often take a chair each and slump - I slump in a similar fashion - and we soak up the sun, despite the thick fur coat, she loves to be in the sun.  When it gets too hot, we turn the chairs round and take some shade together.  We also have a glass and a bowl of water each and keep hydrated.  If only they made sunglasses for cats, that's the only thing that bothers her so she squints a lot. Girls sunbathing together, lovely.


The heatwave here in the UK is set to continue for another week.  What else would you do on a day off? Brighton of course! ..





I was in Brighton last week to meet up with a friend who was staying with hubby at St Dunstan's.  They  provide training, rehabilitation and support for Blind Veterans. 


 
She is known to many bloggers as Elizabethd and has green fingers, almost visibly green!  See, she arrived with this miniature rosebush in her handbag!  her blog is **here**crammed with pictures of her beautiful flowers.

 




We had lunch at Leon, by the Clocktower, it's healthy fast food.  This Leon lunch was a special treat as they have just introduced their new meatless meatballs to the menu, which were definitely very delicious and filling.   If you haven't got a Leon near you, there are still the cook books to devour - available in the shops of course, but also through your library.  I got one for my birthday this year but I have made absolutely nothing in there yet.  I do like looking at the pictures.  I only like food cooked by other people (hubby mostly), I'm not a good cook.


When I am not on holiday, I like to make plans for future holidays.  It doesn't really matter if I get to do the holiday, the planning and imagining is 50% of the pleasure and halfway through a plan we might think of something better and start a new plan, but when we get the wall map, well that's when it's really happening.   On my other blog, Magic Carpet Travels, I have chatted a lot lately about our recent trip to Vietnam, that was a real one, and truly wonderful.



This is a pic of my thinking corner, it's where I do things like shopping lists, pay the bills and plan holidays; I will have to take the Vietnam wall map down and roll it away soon (but it could come out again one day as it also has Cambodia and Laos on there which have yet to be explored).  We will have to get thinking and find a new destination ... and a new map.


I had the paintbrushes out at the weekend, nasturtium and lobelia in the garden, bit out of touch with painting so I enjoyed having a few minutes to play around.



In my garden there is a large toad, he lives in my flower tub and comes out when I do the watering.  I made him a little swimming pool and some shade (old pots) and have been so pleased to see him soaking in there.  I would like to have a very large garden pond and get in there with the toads.  Just imagine, steps into the pond, water lillies, a nice little waterfall feature, as long as the water was reasonably clean it would be very enjoyable to sit in there together.




My neighbours gave me a dear little pot with two small rose bushes peeking out, I think they are intended for indoors but after only a week were growing quite fast so I decided to pot them up outside, I think they will be happier outside and I will enjoy them even more.  You can never have too many flowers.

There is a lot to do here that isn't getting done, ironing, housework, gardening then there is of course the going to work thing, that has to be done too.  When not doing all of this it is lovely to dip into a good book.









 My current read is this - about Alys Fowler and her rubber dingy on a canal adventures... although I may not finish this one as once you've seen one canal I do think you have probably seen them all and am not feeling as enthusiastic about it all as she is.


and then there's this one - lots of interesting facts about bees in here plus info on how to keep a hive.  Would love to do that, so next best thing is get into a book like this and you could almost be there for a short time.  Imagination is a wonderful thing to have, I believe the more you use it the more it grows.



Hope you are enjoying the Summer as much as me ... I really must get out into the woods soon and get some painting inspiration...... bye for now x

.








Thursday, 7 June 2018

Don't Forget

don't forget to check my other blog Magic Carpet Travels  for next step of my journey in Asia Saigon and Cu Chi tunnels this week)... last one next week is Hong Kong.  Thanks for visiting.

Monday, 4 June 2018

Weekend Away

Hi Folks, Hubby took me on a lovely weekend away to Somerset.   We had worrisome things on our minds lately, so it was nice to have some quiet time together to rest, heal and think about what we want to do when we're old and doddery.   We were exploring with a view to an eventual house move.  It's cider country, full of apple orchards, wheat fields, beautiful lush green landscapes and has some very pretty beaches too.


near Stoke St Mary

We visited  picturesque villages and found some that ticked all our boxes: a  thriving church community, pub, 'chocolate box' cottages with thatched roof and traditional gardens like this one.  Friendly people (all of them had dogs that were also very friendly), easy distance of the beach.


Watchet


Wherever we went we were sure to chat with the locals, that was the most fun of all - people who loved their village and were proud of their community, keen to share it with us and encourage us to join them.  We found village halls open to visitors with tea and cake for sale, friendly people inside who were only too happy to answer all our questions about what it's like to live and work in their part of the country.





We stopped, for example. at Watchet, a little seaside town that was having a Sunday produce market.  Below is the tiny police station, right on the quay and in front of the market.  People were selling their cakes, sausages, crafts and garden plants.  

Watchet Police Station

 This 'Playful dog loose' (below) amused us.  We were in Dunster, visiting my granny's grave in the old churchyard.  I was amazed to find that silk cornflowers (originally from my wedding bouquet) which I had left there 25 years ago, were still blue and looking pretty! 




Dunster has an ancient yarn market at its centre and Dunster Castle is, of course, a tourist attraction, but I love it because of happy childhood memories.


Dunster Yarn Market


I found a lady in Dunster who sells her own honey, she invited me into her kitchen (pretty blue painted farmhouse table and chairs, lots of jars being filled with golden honey and a little kitchen garden full of flowers and herbs spilling out over the postage stamp sized lawn.  Her hives were in the field behind the house, along with happy donkeys.


 This is my favourite place, Porlock Weir, I have many childhood snaps of me outside these cottages, looking bored and eating ice cream!




Porlock Weir

     



I spent a lot of time staying with Granny, who lived on Porlock Hill.  We had many happy school holidays together at her cottage, where we painted and explored the woods, took a bus across Exmoor, read Lorna Doone and listened to The Archers on her radio.   I had not visited these familiar haunts for 25 years so it was both wonderful and emotional at times to see these places again and share them with hubby.

Porlock Weir
My most favourite walk with granny was from her cottage down into Porlock village, through the woods and onwards out over the fields to Porlock Weir, several miles no doubt.... the beach is pebble but quite interesting for a child who liked rock pools, crabs and seaweed.  There is a narrow metal bridge over the Weir to the beach.   The cottages here have not changed in the 50+ years I have known them and the stone wall alongside them is the perfect sunny spot to watch the boats.


Porlock Village

 Near here there are special places:  a very small circle of standing stones and also the smallest church in the UK.  Places to re-find and explore in the future perhaps.


Porlock Village
 
Over the weekend we found a perfect forever home village not too far from granny's, but I will keep it a secret as it's a just a very small twinkling of an idea at the moment.  We are returning again soon and I will take my fairy wand with me next time to make some wishes, if it's the right place I think we will see fairy dust sparkle from my wand and I will know we have found 'home'.





Today it's good to be back home, our solid home of 25 years, where both our boys were born and belong, next to the woods that we have come to think of as 'ours', a little wildlife surprise now and then (deer, kingfisher, wood pecker, owl, toads) lots of wild flowers in summer, holly and ivy for decorating the kitchen in the Winter.  It will still be home for a while yet, it isn't ready to let us go yet.... but it's good to have hopes and dreams for the future.

home 






Thursday, 31 May 2018

May

Hello folks, I have been a bit busy over on my other blog, there are some new posts about my trip to Vietnam at Magic Carpet Travels if you fancy a bit of tourism.

Hoi An, Vietnam



Back soon....












Sunday, 13 May 2018

The Trip! New Travel Blog

Back from a fabulous holiday in Vietnam and Hong Kong it has taken the best part of this week to catch up on laundry, housework and of course, real work that pays!  I managed to make a start on downloading some photos from the trip although there are a lot more to do.

I decided to keep my holiday reviews in a separate blog which is *** Magic Carpet Travels ***if you go there and follow you will be able to see all my pictures and posts about this trip as I add them and any future travel as they are lengthy and need their own space.  I am going to post the trip in sections for each place we visited (Hanoi, Hoi An, Sa Pa, Halong Bay, Saigon, Hong Kong)  So please go over to my travel blog if you would like to see more.

cotton open back top - Hoi An market £4

On this trip I took far too much clothing and most of it stayed in the case.  Suitcases are a real nuisance on trains, boats and in general and mine got damaged over the six flights I took so I will have to look for better/lighter luggage on future travels.   Although we slept in trains/boat/hotels, visited cities, rural areas, did a 5km trek in rice paddies and hills and had time at the beach, I found I wore the same few favourites over and over, washing at night so these things will travel again and are more than enough for any occasion. I took too many shoes (a pair of trainers would have covered most occasions).

East top (Ebay)


White shorts
5 cotton suntops
denim shorts
3 bikinis




5 beach kaftans that can also go with crops in the evening
white crops
beige chinos

2 pashminas
1 old favourite x orange stripe cotton maxi dress




Next t-shirt worn about 100 times!
beach kaftan with crops Ebay

1 grey silk dress
1 blue shift dress
cotton lightweight wrap trousers
navy moccasins
yellow suede platform sandals
blue suede slip ons
pink deck/sea shoes (kooshies)

Next time I will invest in good trainers, one day in Hong Kong we walked for the best part of a 12 hour day exploring and my feet were not at their best in moccasins although they survived!




favourite silk dress, East - worn without lining as too hot!




this little dog had pink manicured nails and prompted me to get my own done!
We didn't take many more pics of me and my dresses folks as there was way too much to see and do, but as you can see, I was never under-dressed and there was plenty of bling!

two most useful items, white t shirt/denim shorts




Jaeger silk kaftan, charity shop: wrap trousers, Hoi An market, hat Primark


Thanks for stopping by.  If you don't have time to comment maybe you can leave a pebble ((0)) so I know you passed this way :) 

Friday, 27 April 2018

HOI AN brief

We took the Victoria express train overnight from cai lau to Hanoi and then a six hour wait for our flight to da nang and then by road to Hoi An where we have a week of beach and sun and nightly trips into the ancient town.



The town of Hoi An has Unesco world heritage status.  It is closed to traffic which was pleasant after the mad congestion of Hanoi.





The beach is beautiful,  my tablet has stopped uploading pics though , a sign I should leave this story until my return......., there is  no visible sea polution, golden sand and amazing sunrises.  I will do a lengthy post when back in the UK of the beautiful places we have been to and have yet to see.....