Friday, 7 December 2018

A Simpler Christmas

I am doing my best to stay away from the over heated shopping centres, pressure to buy and all the things I dont like about this time of year.

This little church opens just a few times a year, it's inside a windmill not too far from me. I like to go, but if I can't there is one through the woods I can walk to and also a big one in the town where I used to be a member, I like the evening services there as we can sing with sign language (I'm seriously deaf so learnt BSL and enjoy the chance to use it with others and to be honest my singing voice is not great!).

I like to visit a church when it is empty and quiet  so I can hear God and feel His presence.

 In the uk we have Martin Lewis who formed the website, he does tv appearances and for the second year has encouraged us to have a no spend christmas, not only to take the pressure off ourselves but also off those we would buy for who might  feel obliged to reciprocate, even if they can't afford to.  Present buying can leave many in debt and without the few treats that could make their own Christmas a happy time.   We have done this in previous years and know it takes any stress right out of our Christmas.  I am not judging anyone who does buy presents, it can be great - but for us, opting out has really put the Spirit back into Christmas.

It's been a lovely afternoon here in Woodland, putting up my little tree.  I had thought it was very 'green' of me to have a fake one but just heard on tv that these kind of trees cannot yet be recycled, so it will end up in landfill.  Having a real tree affects the ozone layer about as much as driving 12 miles in my car.  You learn something new every day!

I like this little snowman a lot.  I always secretly hope for a sprinkling of snow over Christmas, it makes everything look so clean and tidy!

It's fairly quiet here, not a lot going on - We did some more decorating of stairway walls and ceiling, I've been going to work, going to the gym, clearing out our garage, sending some unwanted furniture to charity (our neighbour is emigrating so giving us their dining set which we need to make room for).

I hope your preparations for Christmas are peaceful, not stressful.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

A weekend of woodland walks and house decorating!

This weekend hubby and I went to some local woods that are new to us, on one of those ramblers trails - we printed the maps and off we went.  It was only about 6 miles circular but enough for us to wear in our new walking shoes

The woods were carpeted in orange fallen leaves and I shuffled around looking
for fungi.  I found these at the very end of the walk:

I haven't been able to identify anything with quite such a flower-like appearance, but think they must be from the funnel family.  Any ideas?

I love 'old mans beard' we used to decorate our house with it when I was a child.

These woods are part of the Norbury Estate in Surrey where there is a saw mill, they also make their own blue cheese on their farm.

There are many more walks here, lots of little hidden forest paths and  a river to explore so we will be going back soon.
Brocketts Farm is nearby where they have tea rooms for those that want to make a day of it.  We would rather bring a flask and sit on one of the many benches located along the walk so will bring a Winter picnic next time.

these berries are black briony and, although beautiful are deadly poisonous.

I think the fungi above is amanita, it's poisonous and can be mistaken for a shaggy parasol mushroom.  lovely to look at but not to touch.

this sheep found me as interesting as I found her

I have been painting my house - starting with the downstairs cloakroom which needed freshening up and after 25 years with these tiles, I wanted something different.  When the house was built we chose these tiles and they put them on all wrong! it has always annoyed me as the patterned ones were meant to be randomly placed, not in a row!   The white tiles had all gone very yellow which you can't see here.   I wanted the smallest room to look pleasant for visitors but did not want to spend on new tiling so this was a budget makeover. 

old tiles, before
I found tile covers on Amazon which are plastic self adhesive sheets you cover your old tiles with. They sound awful but are simple to apply and look just like new tiles.

It took about 6 hours to do all mine as I really took my time applying them to a clean surface and smoothing out any creases or air bubbles and then grouted them so they looked authentic and would not peel off in time - hope it works.  The tile covers cost about £40 for about 60 to cover the sink and toilet area.  The paint cost about £10 for the area.

I had bought paint on 2 for 1 at Wickes over the August bank holiday, they had run out so I had to wait until now for new stock but they honoured the offer.  I painted with a light grey and finally hung a caricature of me and hubby done in 2014 on our Cuba holiday for three quid that had been languishing in the garage; it has taken all this time to get it framed!

It's honest, we do look a bit like this, so I quite like it but only for the loo!  

I also painted our dining room and kitchen with the samelight blue/grey
and had my lovely Rima Staines  Father Christmas print re-framed.

sorry about the reflection, this was mounted and framed very affordably (10 quid) but looks so much better than it's old wooden frame.

Next project is the lounge and dreaded staircase!
After that we will have to find somewhere to put a map
so we can start planning our 2019 adventure - Cambodia!

Are you thinking about Christmas yet? one house on our estate turned their fairy lights on outside last night - it's a good display but I think too early.  M&S have frosted Christmas trees in their doorway as you enter - I'm not ready!

Friday, 2 November 2018

Pumpkin Season

 Today we have a beautiful frost so I took a few snaps in the garden early...

 despite the -1c temperature here last night, my passion flower has decided today's the day to bloom
It seems to have a little smiling face, don't you think?  there are about 20 more buds, not sure if the cold will catch them, I might bring a few indoors

 I like pumpkins on display all through the Autumn.... the one on the right stays out all year, I love it's colour.  The little tray was given to me by my lovely Spanish neighbours a long time back, it has small dishes for dips that come out on special occasions, the tray stays out all the time though as it's too pretty to hide away,  the colours are so Seasonal right now.  The little pumpkins will go out for the squirrels soon, but I am so enjoying their beautiful colours and textures.

Hubby makes me a carved pumpkin every year for Halloween, here's this year's.   This time he found instead of cutting the top, you get best results by hollowing from underneath.  We keep it simple these days and don't decorate so much.  My plates have been around for a few years, I'm very fond of them.

 These are some pumpkins we carved a few years back when our boys were little....

 ... and here's our vintage orange pumpkin, Amber, still playful at 16+

 I am going searching for beautiful fungi at the weekend.  This is fly agaric, there is something very magical about it  (it's poisonous so don't ever touch one).  I found this growing in the woods a long time ago and read somewhere that they should grow in the same place every year, but this was a one off.... will let you know if I find any this time.

Thank you so much for all your comments on my last post - all of you had interesting stories to share.  It has also been nice for me to see some comments from bloggers I had lost touch with so I have been visiting some of your blogs too.

Source: Google Images

Throughout life when things have gone wrong I have always without exception been helped somehow by strangers, often they were Christians, always they were kind and wanted nothing in return.

One example  is of leaving home on bad terms when I was young, I had been sleeping on a friends floor for some weeks whilst hunting for a room from the newspaper.  My employer at the time would drive me round on evenings when the London newspaper advertised rooms to rent; I found a place one night and joined the usual queue of hopefuls waiting to view, the landlord wanted  2 weeks deposit on the spot, many of us turned away, I didn't have any money but one of the girls also taking a room paid my deposit and trusted me to return it to her when we both moved in, she had never met me before.

Source: Google Images

Just this week I fell over in town.  A young women with a dear little 3 year old, despite being a busy mum with plenty of things to get on with, picked me up and dusted me down, then took me to sit down in the pharmacy, gave me some water and offered to buy me chocolate and would not leave until she felt I was fully recovered.

I think there is often kindness around us but some of us are uncomfortable accepting it - if we do accept,  how do we give something back? do we need to? maybe in a pay it forward kind of way?
Sometimes doing a kindness is more rewarding for me than the recipient, but I don't always see an opportunity until the moment passes.  I am going to make sure I put acts of kindness on my 2019
calendar;  just a gesture, a listening ear, a helping hand when needed... What do you think? Want to join me?

have you given or received a kindness lately?

Source:  Google Images

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

Autumn Equinox

Hello, just back from a weekend in Devon to see my oldest brother.  On Sunday he took us to some very special, spiritual places, to observe Autumn Equinox.   Despite rain all weekend, we had a lovely time.

We went to Stoke Gabriel to see a very special yew tree in the churchyard there, estimated to be 1000 years old.  There's a belief that if you walk round it backwards 7 times you can make a wish - so of course I did!  Our family have always loved yew trees (my grandmother had a huge one in the garden with a rope swing for us to play on) there are not many old churchyards without one in residence and the tree is always likely to pre-date the church.

Walk ye backward round about me
7 times round for all to see
Stumble not and then for certain
One true wish will come to thee

We took a very long, muddy and misty walk on Dartmoor; the reward for persevering through the waterlogged ground was our arrival at  the stone circle near Postbridge.  Peaceful, silent and nothing around but sheep... stone circles feel very calming and special, there are plenty in this part of the country (I think eight on Dartmoor).  This one is quite large, probably had an outer circle that has mostly been removed , probably for house and wall building over the years) and there are still many very large stones marking out a grand walkway to the centre.  These stone circles, and many others like them, were of huge significance in times gone by, built on ley lines/meridians (invisible to us).  Not much is known about ley lines yet, but it is believed birds use them to navigate and that in times gone by people felt and possibly used the energy they may hold. 

Onwards through the rain and swirling mist for lunch at my brothers favourite pub it's high up on Dartmoor at Postbridge.  The pub's wood fire (originally peat) has been burning continuously since 1845 (even during this year's heatwave we were reassured!)  if you ever want to go there, it's called The Warren House Inn

fireplace alleged to have burned continuously since 1845

It's a lonely place that has no mains connections (electric from a generator, water from a natural spring and gas for cooking our lunch from lpg cannisters).  There is nothing around but bracken, stone circles and cows/sheep.

We headed for home via the village of Chagford, this delightful little round building is not a pub or church, but the public toilets,the prettiest and cleanest I have ever seen.  Inside there was a dresser holding a vase of flowers and.... a guest book!!!

Back home, I have been picking and freezing sloe berries to flavour gin for Christmas.

 Just look at all these crab apples in the fields near us - I can't think what to do with them
 although I know horses like them!

The woods here are full of a spectacular display of falling leaves in reds and yellows and the light in late afternoon is beautiful.

Very sorry for my absence from Blogland, I am always so keen to read your blogs yet I just don't seem to have much time or inspiration to post anything myself, the longer I leave it, the harder it gets to find anything to say.  Life's just so busy and then becomes challenging  .... 

After 6 months of trying to a heal a wound that just wouldn't,  my youngest son had to have surgery this week. We have to drive our son daily to hospital to have the dressings done, which is a rather unpleasant business, the journey itself is very painful for him.  He is very worried about work as he does not get sick pay and we are worried for him, as we don't want him to worry!

We are a happy little family, all working different hours/shift patterns, so disorganised, the oven is always on at weird times as it's someones dinner time and someone elses breakfast!  The beds are never made and the house is not as tidy as I would like, there's a mountains of ironing and cat fur everwhere!  But we know the important things: eating well, sleeping well, making sure everyone knows they are loved and appreciated - preferably daily, not worrying about the things we cannot change and...  counting our blessings.

So.... thank you for stopping by today, before you go, please pause for a moment, think back, tell me about one small thing that has happened this year to you personally, spiritually, that was unusual, unexpected, made you feel protected, guided and loved... don't hold back! I'm just curious.

Monday, 16 July 2018


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 :)