Monday, 12 February 2018

Nature Journal Sunday



Here's another page for my nature diary - I am really enjoying this little diary as I don't have time to try and paint a masterpiece and usually fail, this is just about manageable, as and when, it keeps me interested in what's happening around here in suburbia/airport/woodland sunny Surrey.


I saw what I am guessing is a sparrow hawk on a fence next to fields just off the road on my journey to work three times this week, I drove down there again today at the same time determined to admire him for longer, despite posing on the fence on weekdays, he seems to have Sundays off - I will persevere as want to try and photograph him and then identify him - my painting doesn't do him justice, he's huge with a lot of brown on his back/head wings and a lovely dappled cream and light brown chest and belly. I think the new estate recently built over old rough land and woodland here has pushed wildlife further towards us as their space diminishes.







At last my library book has come:  The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom, I felt pretty annoyed with myself to visit her house in Haarlem, Netherlands, before reading the book (although I knew her story).  I know it will be a good read.


We had hailstones amid bright sunshine, I went to the gym, cleared the garage and caught up with the laundry.




Things to look forward to in the coming week:
Taking my friend/neighbour to the gym as it's bring a buddy week
Reading my Corrie Ten Boom book
Dipping in and out of my new book purchase: Second Skin, India Flint, all about fabrics, their production, impact on the environment and using natural dyes (recommended by Vintage Vix - thanks, I did treat myself on your recommendation and am very pleased :)
Making vegetarian curry and lentil Dahl
Work, I work with a lot of people so look forward to seeing them all










Thursday, 8 February 2018

This Week

Hi bloggers, I am feeling very in need of the great outdoors, maybe we all are... I haven't much news here but thought it was about time for a blog post so here's what I have been doing this week:



I had a lovely long walk in some woods near here with hubby and was rewarded with catkins and pussy willow  - they looked so much better than the ones behind my own garden fence!  this woodland is a little different to 'mine' as it is the home of the beautiful wild orchids I found last year - no sign of them yet though.  The daffodils were bought on the way home.  We saw lots of signs of Spring and of creature homes (badgers?).

The stone has lost it's 'B' for Brighton think maybe a car struck it (or horse and cart?)

 I love finding things like this, this milestone must have been touched by thousands of people over the years as they walk past, I imagine people, maybe with their horses, throughout the ages (wearing the various forms of dress for the period they come from ... hand made leather sandles, picnics of bread and cheese?) ... am I the only one I wonder who does this day dreaming?  It has always been a problem for me, as a child I would disappear for hours into these imaginings!



 Something lovely everywhere if you look hard enough.  Even lichen can be very pretty in my opinion.

 I just wanted to know who was making this nest, you can't see because they were busy being noisy to distract me away but I think they were blue tits. 




Talking of birds, I found this fabulous silk dress in a charity shop, sadly it is a size 8 so too tiny for me but isn't it beautiful material?  I keep thinking I should go back for it - maybe it could be reinvented, or I could shrink two dress sizes .....



I am painting for my nature journal this afternoon, there's a lot of empty space on the page so I won't show you yet, it needs filling up :)  I get the odd moment when I can paint and it turns out quite nicely but a lot of times in between in doesn't, so painting in a journal is turning out to be good practice as you can't make a mistake without spoiling a whole page,- as I rush things (everything, even eating my food!) this is a good little exercise in patience.... here's that dress again, still on my mind.



I am definitely yearning for the outdoors, flowers, greenery, sunshine - in an attempt to satisfy this craving for all things green I have planted up my bottle garden with tiny succulents (it took ages as everyone has to be air lifted in through the top and planted ever so gently without messing up the nice earthy bottom on which I have put miniature gravel, no expense spared here!  I also have herbs on the windowsills of the conservatory: sage, mint, rosemary, thyme and oregano and keep sniffing them, very therapeutic.





I had a lovely day out recently with my friend to Brighton exploring the charity shops.   We ate in a really good (and reasonably priced) chinese restuarant.  I love going with my friend because we like the same shops and the same food! can't go wrong :) the only thing I don't like is that she always wants to go home before I do!  We both found skirts, mine is navy silk with a 'flippy' hem (I am not good at selfies so will show you when hubby takes a piccie some time)

vegetables with crispy noodles (mine)

duck with noodles I think (friends)


the Charity shop search is in aid of a trip hubby and I will be doing, to Vietnam in the Spring, we will be travelling very light as exploring and trekking around quite a bit.  I don't want to take expensive, fancy clothes but am looking out for anything a little bit different to take with me that can withstand a lot of travel and not much washing.




Planning for travel is almost as exciting as the journey itself, we have a map of Vietnam on the kitchen wall so we can mark the places we are stopping off at and have stuck pictures of the touristy things we plan to do (Hanoi, Halong Bay, Sapa Mountain villages and exciting places like that) I am especially looking forward to some travel on overnight sleeper trains, they are apparently full of cockroaches, bumpy and noisy - looking on the bright side, I can sleep anywhere (even standing up, honestly!) and I don't mind crawlies so it will be fine.  Planning what to put in the suitcase is not so easy, everything  has to be crease free, easy to wash, light to pack, suitable for beach or town and fold up to the size of a slice of bread!

Back to here and now, I will leave you with the view if I sit up in bed and look out my window, which of course I do, every day.  How lucky to wake up to these trees every day, I will never get bored with this.


Thanks for visiting, I hope my ramblings weren't too much for you.  I do try to keep it brief on my posts but got a bit carried away today.  Leave a message, or a pebble (0) if you have time, bye x







Monday, 29 January 2018

Birdwatch Weekend UK

Birdwatch weekend in the UK with the RSPB where we record the number and variety of birds seen in our gardens.  I noted the birds seen in my nature journal.  I made the snowdrops up though, they never grow in my garden, I have tried for 24 years here and they just don't want to grow for me!



In the birdwatching hour on Sunday morning I saw magpies, wood pigeon, robins, blackbirds and a very old crow, no small birds came, I think probably as I didn't put seed down, only grubs in fat pellets and bread.  I think I will find a seed feeder to hang up as I know from the dawn chorus in the woods here we have many other birds.





We are hearing 'our' owl out in the woods right behind our little house late at night and then last night a bird cry noise, no other birds feed at night as far as I know, could it be our lonely owl who calls and gets a far away reply, has made a family and is living happily ever after?  I hope so.

Back soon with whats happening in the woods. Thanks for visiting, drop a pebble to say you were here (0)
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Saturday, 20 January 2018

January Goings On


No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. Aesop




I have completed the 12 Advent random acts of kindness I wanted to do, who would think it could take a month!   They were simple things like giving a work colleague a lift home, letting someone in the supermarket queue go in front, but it was surprisingly hard to fulfill the commitment!  People are suspicious if you offer kindness, especially if you are a stranger, also you have to see the opportunity before the moment passes and sometimes I just didn't until too late!  I'm getting better at it now, so I will continue to look for opportunities all the time.



first celandine 2018 Glovers Wood

On Sunday we went for a walk through Glovers Wood which I blogged about last year as it is ancient woodland and protected by the National Trust, it had the most spectacular Spring bluebell display last year.  I love these woods, they have a magical feel.  At this time of year though there is not much to see, a lot of trees had blown down in recent storms and some paths were not accessible.  I only saw one solitary celandine flower by the algae pond.



 There were different forms of fungi and lichen though and plenty of catkins.









There was a mini moss forest of small, dormant, twigs covered in moss like little Christmas trees.




 The nearby church was looking its best with a beautiful wreath and flower displays in the entrance and decorating the old wooden door. We didn't go inside as there was a service going on.



I received some lovely gifts over Christmas from my blogging buddy Nana, a pretty blue scarf with silver thread and sweets and magazine and then last week an extra surprise from the very prestigious Fortnum and Mason, some delicious Christmas biscuits and a fruit butter (which I am going to keep to have on scones).  Unexpected surprises are the very best (thanks pal).   My neighbours gave me a lovely calendar with pictures of beautiful fairies and my Spanish neighbours brought a huge amount of biscuits dipped in chocolate and marzipan/nut treats back from their visit home to Barcelona;  I had so many I took them to work and shared. I had pictures of all my pressies but I have been unable to upload them. 


After all those random acts of kindness I felt I needed some myself, so joined Gabrielle Trainor's 'Warm Embrace' project.    Some of her email courses, like this one, are free (https://gabrielletreanor.com/courses).  I started late and haven't caught up yet!   You get a daily email for a month with little reminders to slow down and be kind to yourself - many of us feel guilty 'indulging' ourselves but just a few minutes a day to do something nice for yourself is very therapeutic.  You might like this too if you feel in need of some small scale self nurturing :)


https://gabrielletreanor.com/courses
P.S.  I have just read Hazelxjoy's post about her efforts to play a part in reducing packaging and saving our planet. http://hazelsworldofjoy.blogspot.co.uk.  Having seen a beautiful turtle on tv that had a plastic straw stuck in its nostril I became more aware and concerned for how plastic is impacting on our environment.  I have recently written to McDonalds asking if they can consider removing plastic straws from their restaurants and using paper straws instead; I had an email from Leon Restaurant this week stating they are phasing out use of plastic straws in their restaurants:  If they can do it, surely everyone can?    I am trying to reduce the amount of foods I buy which are pre-packed - (even cucumbers come in a plastic sleeve) or where packaging is necessary, I try to choose products with recycleable containers.  This is a small step but I hope if more of us start to reject plastic packaging we can make a difference.  Have you been able to reduce your household plastic waste? please share your ideas.

Thank you for stopping by, please leave a comment if you have time.


Friday, 12 January 2018

January




I started a nature journal, I will try to add to it at least monthly.   This is my first page, just sketches and scribbles of what I am seeing.  Several bloggers did this last year and I wished I had too, it will be fun to look back through it at the ended of the year and see the seasonal changes.




I grew these herbs in past years, it seems I got too busy and never grew any in the last few years,  I had forgotten how much I enjoyed it, so will start some pots soon.  I think I had my allotment when I took this picture as I see lots of blue hose in the garden that I remember going to great trouble to get from the local water authority rubbish skip and made into netted tunnels for delicate leaf vegetables.  Sadly it was too much commitment, bit I enjoyed the experience.  Windowsill gardening I think I can manage this year :)



Its very mild weather  in my part of the UK and there doesn't seem much going on in the woods.  But when I visited the Woodland Trust website, I found there is plenty to see if you know where to look... there are lichen, moss and fungi, insects, spiders and birds to look out for and, of course, the early signs of Spring we all long for, in particular leaf formation of wild flowers like celandine and wood anemone.


I put some apples out which the blackbirds have been eating, they peck a big hole and get the flesh, leaving a red, empty bowl of the skin.




On my wanderings I almost missed course grey and white hair on some barbed wire near the river, it was badger hair, an indication that the adults are active all year round.


they don't hibernate, they stay under ground most of the time but they do need to come up to toilet and feed themselves.  It will be April before we see any young above ground, but that little bit of fur was a reminder of what we can look forward to.

Last year I took part in Bluebell Watch, it's a simple survey the Woodland Trust do annually to monitor the density of bluebells in local woodland (and also to monitor the unwanted increase in the much larger Spanish bluebell which is not native to our woods).   All we have to do is go online to notify any sightings, which will be around April/May.

This is my library book pile for the coming week, looking forward to the gardening book in particular.

Have you got any plans for gardening? Ambitions to grow your own food? Something unusual perhaps?


Thursday, 4 January 2018

Shopping for holiday wear

Happy New Year!

I have been searching out lightweight clothing for a trip to Vietnam, we will be travelling around a lot so everything needs to be light and easy to pack, cool to wear and colourful.  I think I am a bit conservative with clothes so am going to be more adventurous with holiday wear.


Here are some pics of my most recent pre-loved finds, both items in excellent, as new condition.

Silk top with embroidery and beading, £3.00.  I think it would look very pretty over a navy  t shirt and jeans or crops and is good to travel in as folds to nothing but is comfy and loose to wear.




Vintage Jaeger full length beach kaftan with gold thread. £25 think it will be great on the beach but would also look pretty with a little black full length silk slip under and some heels (searching for the slip at the moment :)



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I have also been lucky on EBay finding two pretty East kurta tops in Indian cotton, for £1.50 and £3.00 each, one of which was brand new with labels and a seventees style beach top for £2. Should go well with white shorts.




I will try to buy pre-loved where possible in 2018 - there are some fantastic bargains to be had and I like the idea that nobody else is likely to turn up in my outfit!




This is my Indian gold necklace and earrings  which I had hidden in a small box for safekeeping and couldn't find for ages!  They look pretty with this kind of clothing I think.  Both are presents from hubby over 30 years ago so are very special, I am glad to have found them as was worried I had accidentally thrown them out in a bag or something.. I have done this before but thankfully not with jewellery!

Inspiration to shop for preloved was sparked by two bloggers I admire, Vintage Vix and Hazelsworldofjoy ... you can find their blog links on 'blogs I follow' on my sidebar.  I'm off now to do a bit of sketching/painting as would like to capture January on paper while I feel inspired.  Thanks for stopping by, please leave a comment if you have time so I know you passed this way.

Blessings for 2018







Sunday, 24 December 2017

Christmas


Yule, the shortest day of the calendar has always been special to me, my mother liked to have candles lit and I do the same.  I also bring in lots of ivy and holly to decorate tables and picture frames like she did too.  The house is looking festive.  I had my watercolours out and painted you a little Christmas robin.



Yesterday I went to Brighton with a friend, we took the train as knew the roads would be busy, shopped and had lunch.  I was very lucky, we only went in one charity shop and I found straight away the most beautiful kaftan for future holidays, it's by Jaeger, full length snake print with gold thread running through the material.  I will show you in another post as I had some other finds for my holiday too.


We had lunch at my favourite place in Brighton, Loving Hut, it's a vegan fast food type place.  I had crispy noodle with steamed vegetables and we shared a platter of nibbles such as satay with a chilli dip.  Delicious.  I would like to make things like this at home so will check the library for any good books, any recommendations?

I have been watching all the Krusty Allslop crafting programmes on channel 4 tv catch up.  I particularly liked the silk scarf that one lady had dyed with natural leaves and onion skins and thought I would like to give it  a try, it looked a lot less effort than silk painting!  Maybe something to experiment with in the Summer months.  Have you ever tried natural dyes or leaf printing?



Another lucky shopping find this week:  I thought I would really love  a silver candlestick for our Christmas table but didn't want to spend much.  I found just what I was looking for in a charity shop on Monday, brand new for only five pounds, so pretty, here it is with a bit of festive ivy.





We decided not to buy each other presents, I think it can create unnecessary  stress so instead we made a donation to a homeless charity.  I was inspired by a story I heard on the radio about a family who were doing 12 random acts of kindness during the Christmas weeks and thought I would like to do this too, they can be small gestures I think, helping an elderly neighbour perhaps or letting someone go in front in the shopping queue, little things.   Both my sons are currently living at home although as adults they have their own plans and will be working right through the next couple of weeks as, working at the airport, it is hard to get time off this busy time of year.  We did all manage to get Christmas day off and will all be together for dinner.  I hope to catch up with my brothers early in the New Year and of course friends and neighbours in between.



Tonight I will be at a small church near here which a friend introduced me to a few years ago; it has a good feel.  I don't belong to a church any longer but I do like to keep connected to one and visit from time to time.

For my 59th year on this planet, for 2018  I hope for good health and God's guidance, nothing more.  I don't have any resolutions other than to enjoy and appreciate the love and presence of my family and friends, the comfort of our home and the beauty of the woods and surrounding areas to the full.  I hope for World peace, global appreciation of our fragile earth, happy and spontaneous events (natural or man made!), creative opportunity and spiritual contentment  for us all.

Thank you for visiting my blog and for all your comments.  Blogging has been fun this year, I really enjoy visiting your blogs and the connection that blogging brings with others in far flung and seemingly exotic places.



No need to leave a comment if you are busy and quickly dropping by.  Just make sure you and yours have a wonderful Christmas and New Year x