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In the Peak of Now

I have been waiting for summer to come for a whole long while. All winter and all springtime in fact. And I have been grumpy that I still seem to be waiting.

This morning I decided to ditch my iPod on my morning dog walk and listen to the birds instead. Walking through our local nature reserve cemetery I saw that the lime flowers are nearly ready for harvesting, that the white campion is fat and lovely, that sweet woodruffe is covered in little star shaped flowers already. This is it, this is summer. Elderflower cordial is waiting to be made.

In a week that I have been swimming in the atlantic and thinking about thresholds, I have also realised that sometimes I miss that moment, that absolute moment that is the peak, the highest point. The peak of now. I only realise I have had it, as it is slipping away.

My midsummer came with a wild and windy beacon lighting in a pagan land; with cocktails and a swing bench party with special friends. I have watched and loved gannets plummeting into the ocean, and stepped into a faery land with pirates and elfin boots hidden in treasure chests. All this was real. And now it has slipped back in magical mists, and I am home, with emails, washing, work schedules, and pink peace scarf to organise. It went as quickly as it came.

So how is it that we stay with our peaks, trying not to hold on tightly, but just being in them? By loving them for what they are in any moment I guess. Without trying to move them on, rush them, or make them last forever. For a few moments there was summer, a coastal path, a girl walking along it. So fleeting, but so deeply rooted in me also.

I have blown a kiss to the summer, she is here, with or without sunshine and warmth, and I love her. My garden is wild and overgrown, my heart is happy, my body tired, and my head trying to deal with change. This is my peak of now, and as much as I can, I will sit with it, without trying to change it or move it on. This it will do all by itself, quietly, when I least expect it. Midsummer love to you all.

June 27, 2013   1 Comment

Simple…..

Martha Tilston – Simple

I remember how simple simplicity used to be, before I tried too hard and chased it away,

It would float in, flow through and out of me, complication – well I rue the day.

I’m gonna get right, right to the heart of it, I was bigger when I was nothing at all,

Just another pilgrim marching to the sunset, and it didn’t matter if I got there, it’s the journey of it all.

It didn’t matter if I got there, it didn’t matter if I got there, it never matters if you get there, it’s the journey of it all.

Well I’m gonna get back there, back to the heart of things, I knew everything when nothing at all,

Just another pilgrim marching to the sunset, and it didn’t matter if I got there, there’s power in being small.

Listen to Simple here

How much do I love this favourite song of mine, sang by the wonderful Martha Tilston. Why do I let simplicity float in and around me and then chase it away again? Here is my week of simple, or my attempt at a week of simple. Loving what is right around me, around my home, directly around my neighbourhood. I haven’t travelled more than a few hundred meters to find it.

The first flowers opening in my back garden.

A birthday present for my favourite wee boy three doors along

Linens drying gently in the breeze in my neighbour’s garden.

Lunch, eaten in the sunshine

Looking at treasure in Jilly’s cabin, and celebrating her latest find for Delight.

Showing Harry how to see if you like butter, just as my grandmother showed me when I was a little girl

A small crocheted distraction from the 7 mile long pink peace scarf

An early morning walk with Herb.

Learning to share, in the park

My daughter’s handwritten letters to each of her special friends, as they celebrated their last day of school

I’m not sure why I find ‘simple’ so very hard to find sometimes. Thank you Martha for the lovely reminder….

June 7, 2013   3 Comments

Gardening Leave

Today seems like a good day to put myself on some gardening leave

I always know this a good thing to do when I find myself awake at 4am worrying about life and deciding as a strategy to go and look for snails sneaking towards my runner beans. Not the best coping plan in the universe, it has to be said.

Now whether or not I will actually do any gardening is not really a problem. The plants will organise themselves in the best way possible, as they always do.

What I need to do is try and quieten down the world-noise that is constantly crashing like waves on my shore, day in, day out, relentlessly. I’m not big on newspapers and television, so I don’t have as much crackle as some people do in their lives. But even so, I am feeling a wee bit bombarded, so the quiet of the garden is where I am headed for a short while.

I am right in the middle of a batch of artwork for new card designs, and will be taking these with me to the ocean of the east next week. If I manage to catch any whisps of passing wifi while I am there, I will put up some pictures.

Wishing everyone the loveliest of weeks, may you be gifted some space and down-time too. Be back soon….

May 20, 2013   1 Comment

Today

Today is Thursday, perhaps a good day to check in and say hello. There’s not been any bigness to my week really, not any grand adventures to make you swoon. No big excitements or scary bits (apart from Tuesday’s mad wind) to report. But it has been pretty nonetheless, in a frothy, blossomy sort of way.

A beautiful quietness has settled in our valley today, and I woke up hearing the sound of swifts in a cloudless sky. Herb and I meandered our way up to the Cemy, a nature reserve, to bliss out under the blossoms (and chase a few balls)

Following on from last weekend, I have been thinking about parenting and all its myriads of choices. Sadness for pathways not taken, children not born, and a love for what is. These ideas have woven their way into my artwork unconsciously and into a new small booklet that I am working on called Blessing the Way. It’s my journey into the land that is parenting, from birth through to the heroic act of letting them go. All from my shed at the end of my garden.

I’ve been squeezing in other jobs between the work of everyday too – this morning making a nettle tincture, from nettles picked earlier. With dropping iron levels and a lecture from my doctor about burn out, I figured this was a good start. No doubt it will taste revolting. Then I will know its working

I’ve been following the sun around my house like a woman possessed…working in whatever little slices of sunlight I can find, and where the wifi will grace me with its presence. A good spot was discovered today, perched on the front doorstep, where I can survey vast swathes of my property – all 20 feet of it. Second big advantage is that I can keep perfect watch over the newly transplanted squash that Cath and Sally gave me – like a sentry – that baby’s not getting eaten on my watch – oh no siree.

And finally, I have been painting a roof panel for Kesty’s Red Hearth which will open for the summer next month. My thoughts keep turning to honey bees and the communities that they create together. So too, the women in my life, and the circling that we do together.

It’s a message I keep coming back to over and over. Together we are stronger. Invincible. One of these days I will perhaps stop trying to go it alone, and actually share the load, delegate some jobs. But for today, there is blossom to smile over, a to-do list to tick off, and the merry month of May to love and be loved

One last word: nettle tincture alone will not deal with anaemia. I’m sure you already know that….but just in case! If you think your iron levels are dropping, get yourself checked out. I’m told cake is especially helpful in really dire cases…..

May 16, 2013   2 Comments

A dog, a frog and plenty of wool…..

Yes siree, this is panning out to be a strange time….where did those strong roots that I was telling you about disappear to? Never mind being grounded, I seem to have been rushing around all over the shop, and not really achieving very much at all. But I have been having fun, I think, in the meantime, and I have been to Wales and back…yahoodie to that then.

Oh, how badly lost do I always get when I venture out alone to Wales? It is pitiful. I always end up sitting on the verge of some remote lane, weeping, while sheep look at me suspiciously. I don’t blame them. Its a sad sight. I am way too impractical to take a map, so usually just rely on my girl guide instincts to get me outta there. They are long days, those Welsh days. But listen, my instincts were sharpened this time – I was on the way to Wonderwool on the other side of them there Black Mountains…and I tell you, my friends, I can sniff out exciting yarn from 100 miles away

Yeah, thought that might make you sit up….nice huh? And you know? There was miles of the stuff….never seen so much wool crammed into one cow shed. These Wonderwool people were not messing around. Mind you, neither was I…I rocked up with a whole load of pink peace scarf and a plan to brainwash nicely persuade woolly punters to join me in my plan of gureilla wool fare – which I did, with the help of a few friends. 

There was plenty of time too for a stroll around to drool at gorgeous yarn and people doing weavy, woolly things (I clearly have all the technical jargon up my sleeve, such a pro) – take a look:

I feel I should be able to tell you exactly what they are doing in those pictures, particularly the woman with the baby…but you know, I didn’t really like to ask, so walked around looking knowledgeable and stroking my chin a lot…oh, I’m so rock n’ roll (not).

Hey, talking of rock n’ roll though, I did meet a very wonderful folky girl and her guitar, singing songs of protest, paganism and knitting – yay to Talis Kimberley, check her out!

Right, so that was the wool bit done and dusted. Back home (I made it back eventually, via a ridiculous detour nearly to Hereford and back) and time for a bit of gardening. I have an exciting snail plan to reveal to you soon. This is my world in the summer months. THE SNAIL ISSUE. Do you think I don’t have it in me to bore the pants off you for the second year in a row about snails…oh think again sweet friends. There’s plenty more where that came from. So, a wee tidy up in the front garden, planting of beans, salad, flowers, squash, tomatoes. 

And look at this little cutie-pie found near our pond…I was seriously tempted to have a little go at kissing him….you know, just to see…..

The other thing thats been going on in my valley is a call to hands to get our Red Hearth ready for its opening in June. I will tell you all about that soon. For now though, witchy women and moon daughters gathered to sing and paint signs to mark the way up the woodland path. We were tempted there by lots of cake (a given).

I was lucky enough to meet Jackie Singer there too, a musician and author of Birthrights, a book of ritual and celebration. Lots of good things to check out. 

Oh dear, have I been nattering on for too, too long? It’s the Beltane energy you know, a time when everything speeds up and there’s just so much whizzing around. Time to trot myself back up to that art studio and get on with some work……

….content in the knowledge that there is beautiful wool in the world, beautiful people, and that the plan of pinky badness is coming along just fine jimboy…with the help of my new and rather goreous P.A….meet Rose….my latest recruit. Go on. Ask her what she’s knitting.

May 4, 2013   2 Comments

Sennen Slings

Ok its official, I have just had the best week ever. Remember I was last seen (a blog ago) hoofing off to Cornwall armed with the chocolateiest of chocolate muffins?

Ah well, it was to these lovelies that I sped, dear friends who need little persuading when it comes to the sampling of made up recipes of the cakey kind. Fickle, but true.

We had a complete blast….so much fun…..and it’s hard to know where to begin really. Wild ocean walks….

…delicious food, looking through old photos (in my top 10 of things I like doing)

….a wander around St Ives – my very favourite place ever

…crocheting, gossiping, plotting and, well, just having a great time.

I am not sure I was graceful when it was time for me to leave. Sawing off the toes on my clutch foot so I couldn’t drive home was a little dramatic. But David is a doctor, so I was quickly bandaged up and my cunning plan foiled. Hiding one of the tyres on my car was a waste of time too. Lisa has a particular talent for finding hidden things, and I was soon set on my way home…..sadness.

But I am jumping ahead. Before that there was plenty of time for messing about, which is precisely why my small potters wheel was on my check list. My plan was to once, just once, show off my expertise to said lovely friend, in the clay department. Silly me. This woman is amazing when it comes to making things (and any of our friends who have seen her carved bowls, spoons and beautiful weaving will agree with me). After a few crazy minutes of  wet clay flying around her studio and us laughing helplessly, she had the situation under control and was making the most perfect pot. Oh you fiend. Here is the photographic proof.

We had a completely fab day in my favourite Cornish town – St Ives – that I mentioned earlier. A beautiful meander around, all the while talking talking.

Followed by lunch with the very wonderful Cath, who soon set us to hard labour in the most shameful way, stacking the mother of all woodpiles in her sunshine vegetable garden. Actually, I loved it…I could’ve stayed forever.

And if a trip is going to be glorious, there of course has to be some badness in some way or another. Badness came in the form of David and a lethal 1920′s Savoy cocktail book. Oh my downfall.

Now, if you are going to fall from grace I suggest you do it properly. No sloppy half measures. And thus it was that we found ourselves dressing up for the occasion, in black tie, tails and vintage sequinned wear. How very splendid.

Singapore Slings he called them. Oh really? You naughty man. Sennen Slings is what they actually are – the badass big sisters of the former. Quite quite lethal.

Lisa and I quickly took charge of the next round of cocktail making. Oh yes, we had it all under control.

Do you know how utterly hilarious slippers seem whilst wearing tails, when youve had a couple of these bad babies???? Hilarious I tell you. OK, so you had to be there. And if you had you would have also witnessed an impressive piano recital, and a heroic beach rescue of the ‘bone’ kind. I will say no more. But it was so spectacular the evening has earned a place in my personal hall of infamy that swims around my less salubrious side of my nature.

So our tender heads and hearts just about recovered for a final beautiful walk to the Cape the next day, a wonderful and special place.

The ocean sparkled blue and the sun that we have all been waiting for all winter finally settled onto our upturned faces. Life is good.

Thank you sweet friends for my very lovely escape. I hope to see you again soon.

April 24, 2013   No Comments

This is your life, do what you love…..

Welcome to your life, do what you love….oh, ok, so what is it that I love? I love spring for a start – any chance of that rocking up soon in to my valley?? No, thought not.

Although the signs are there – daffodils spotted on my weekly walk around Hawkwood, and the first ruby stalks of rhubarb appearing on our CSA vegetable plot…..but come on, I am itching to peel off my thermals now – I’ve had them on since last October (can anyone even remember as far back as last October or is that just me??)

Well, being the good little community witch that I am, I thought I had better get myself outside for a wee bit of equinoxing this week…try to find a spot of balance emerging in this suddenly crazy world of mine…yeah right…

Hawkwood is so good for this – there is a funny sort of tree house cabin that is used as a meditation space right in the middle of the wooded valley….although I have been a bit too skittish recently for sitting still and contemplating peaceful thoughts – my pink hair is testimony to that, lets face it….but I love the idea of it….

There is also a very lovely natural spring bubbling out of the ground in their gardens – Herb and I always stop by here for a bit of witching and a bit of a drink

Back home then, and maybe it IS time for some meditative contemplation – so this is your life babe – how’s it working out for you??? Well, thanks for asking – you know those lovely white walls I worked so hard on last week? Yup, I remember. How about writing all over them? Splendid idea honey, lets do it….(talking to yourself, never a great sign)

Oh, how much fun can one bad girl and a Rotring have??? Answers on a postcard…

So, this is your life, do what you love and do it often…oh, so good to remember this, especially as this long, long winter draws hopefully to a close. You know what I love? I love all the photographs that I take – hundreds of them, sometimes up to a thousand a month, of people, places, knitting, my garden, oh you know well enough by now what my camera gets up to. Only right then, that I put some of my favourite pictures, and of course my favourite people, up on those lovely white and waiting walls.

Because life really is about the people you meet, and the magic you create with them. And whilst this winter may feel long, actually this life is very short. Not a moment to be wasted then.

I have to tell you that these words are not mine – they are from an advert for skin care products, believe it or not, that have been stuck to my fridge for a long time. But I like them, and they felt right enough to be penned up more permanently. And there is a lot more to come – that’s one big bit of wall I have travelling up the stairway. Just as well that I have piles and piles of photos ready and waiting, and so many more to take in this mad life of mine.

All in all I may just have inadvertently found some equinox balance this week. A need to escape out into the world, yes, but an anchor at home, remembering that right now my life is here, with its schedules and work and people.

But it is good. It is full. And springtime will come. That alone is enough to make a girl really quite perky.

March 22, 2013   2 Comments

September Love

A patchwork of reasons to be loving September…..

:: One lovely and tough sunflower (of dozens planted) that made it through our monsoon summer – shining at me outside my window

:: Handknitted socks on their way to me, knitted by a best friend for my birthday

:: 10 weeks wheat free, and feeling so SO much better…particularly once I discovered a magical chocolate cake recipe (thanks Dom)

:: My front garden sitting prettily in September’s sunshine

:: A jar of homemade raspberry jam that the pixies left (o.k, my next door neighbour Gari) on my doorstep one afternoon

:: A fab party in our local apple orchard for my friend Susie – a tree bedecked with ribbons!

:: My birthday hat of all splendidness…..which I have been waiting for a break in the rain, to wear

:: Lots of great vegetables at our Stroud Community Supported farm which I visit each Wednesday morning

:: Sighing over my friend Jilly’s new vintage teaset business, and hiring out a cake stand myself for the Cake & Bake show

:: Feeling quite peachy about my tomatoes growing in the greenhouse, yay!

:: Laughing at our eccentric and quirky Country Fayre held at our local pub, the Crown & Sceptre

:: Cucumbers and Courgettes which will keep rolling in through September

:: My dear friends, packing cards like crazy, in the run up to a show, to help me out

:: Loving the fact that we have our own local spring with fresh, clear, ice cold water to fill bottles from

:: As small as my garden is, I have still managed to cram in an apple tree, cherry, apricot and plum….so apple crumble all round this   month

Thank you September, I love yooooooooooooooo!

September 25, 2012   2 Comments

A big old summery fib (sssshhh!)

Ho hum….well, I guess winter is rolling around again….kids are back at school….and as soon as we are settled at our work desks once more, an Indian summer sweeps in to mock us. What is this British obsession with weather? I am as bad as anyone for cloud watching, checking forecasts on the hour, tippy tapping at the barometer (o.k, that’s a lie, I don’t have one, but if I did….). So I hope you won’t mind if I tell one huge, big, Monday fib about my summer?????? Could I? Just this once?

Ah yes, you see, in MY summer the skies were big and blue, and we skipped around teepees like frisky little Unicorns. My garden sang happily with abundance and colour and the vegetables were so enormous and plentiful we had to hold a table top sale. The snails and slugs sloped off grumpily to pastures new muttering ‘well we just won’t bother with this particular Nirvana’.

The children gaily chorused, “please please do take us for long walks over the hills!” and so sighing heavily we did, and we frolicked over the greenness until the sun set.


Those lazy, balmy days….we just couldn’t get the sun cream on quick enough. There weren’t enough Margarhitas to quench our thirst on those long days of festivals, friends and freedom.


Oh, and the ice cream at every turn! Summer days filled with walks to the beach with our picnic bag, not a care or a cagoul in the world. We lazed around on warm golden sand, dipping our toes in the warmest of water in the North Sea, and no one snorted when I suggested an afternoon dip – YES PLEASE! – they all chimed in.

There was, naturally, hours and hours of free time to sit on the shingle and crochet. Oh yes. Mainly on account of the children deciding they do actually love making sandcastles harmoniously together, and infact Facebook, Twitter and other phone related activity is the work of Satan that they are better off casting aside.

Evening meals in the garden, listening to the chirruping of cicadas. A glad heart that we didn’t travel far from home. Why bother with Spain, when it’s all here on your doorstep, hey? You know, (and I am saying this in a whisper), it was so hot for so long in Stroud, that we had to cool the dog off every day with a hose pipe. Really. Unbearable. How we longed for the cooler days of Autumn to blow in…..

Friends, what can I tell you about my summer? It was gorgeous of course, with or without the blazing sun. I am truly grateful for those few times when we did throw off our anoraks at the prospect of a full 18 degrees. And no! Not once did we cower among the rain soaked dripping clothes on the washing line, for the umpteenth time, wondering why we didn’t move to Greece. That was NEVER us….


September 10, 2012   7 Comments

And today’s challenge is…..

Oh I do love a challenge (if it is Tuesday and the moon is waning in Taurus, otherwise no), and there’s nothing quite like the manic excitement of the sun coming out for 10 minutes, and the ensuing summer madness and activity that follows in its wake. Its the sort of challenge that is on a par with how many people can you fit in a Mini. Or how many donuts can you scoff in a minute. Or how much washing can you dry on the line before it rains again. Oh these lazy summer days, I am loving them. Hmmmmm.

Grab camera, quick shot of some flowers looking pretty in sunlight, just to remind myself what that actually does look like.

Then a mad dash around to my front garden to scrabble around for some gooseberries and blackcurrants….which makes me feel like a real gardener, proper paid up member of the fruit and vegetable club! (although they havnt sent me my badge yet).


Hey, take a look at these babies….I had forgotten I planted them……pink goosegogs….how about that? I should get an extra shiny badge for those….

And then the inevitable…..come in number 27….your time is up!

The nasty dark clouds of badness roll in, and it is back to the kitchen to inspect those pink gooseberries and make some beeswax balm, as you do, when your summer is thwarted. Sigh.


July 17, 2012   No Comments