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Category — Ocean

Breathing Space

I don’t know about you, but I find that the beginning of April to be the breathing time. That has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? Winter is sleepy and deep and quiet, while the Equinox is a bit turbulent – all that pulling into balance – its a cross between a menopausal woman and a bad hair day. well it is in my world. Which is a worry. 

But April, ah, that new unfolding time, the breathing time. you lovely month (yeah, I know, short memory, it snowed this time last year) – the month when I think “oh yes baby, the sunshine is here, the blossoms are around the corner, dust down your shorts, we are nearly there”. I take full responsibility if my premature enthusiasm tempts that pesky fate into sending us blizzards next week.

Enough talk of weather, enough I say. Let me talk stitching. Oh let me…..well, you see. It goes like this. When you are feeling completely overwhelmed with emails, and parcels of pink knitting, and your hormones, and housework, and illness and life – well, here’s what you do. You make sure you discover a new obsession, in this case English piecing, and spend literally hours peering through your spectacles like some crazy cat lady, at the tiniest stitches on little wee pieces of fabric. It’s a winner.

You can lose literally days of work, to this timeless art; meanwhile the little work pixies take pity on you, hop up onto your laptop and take over the management of your to-do list, like those cute little elves who made shoes at night. Only this lot are a highly trained crack team of admin specialists, and they have sorted your life out in a nano second. O.K, I’m getting a bit weird. It’s all that April fresh air.

Truly though, stitching is the very best. And my friend Cindy knows her way around fabric, let me tell you. She is responsible for me haring down this quilty road when I have so, so much else to do. You Queen of Badness. Those of you who are local, check out this fabric shop to end all others.

And seriously, going slowly, making tiny stitches in a way our grandmothers would’ve done, quietly, slowly by hand, is my way of breathing out, slowing down, getting out of my busy head. It’s got to be good.

Breathing space means that you slow down, and suddenly take a look at the moments you find yourself in. You may be surprised to find that your little boys turn very big, that celebrations with a houseful of teenagers and other family is actually quite enjoyable. (note to self: even the most incompetent adolescent can be taught to knit when the pressure is on – don’t let them fool you for one minute into thinking that those little pinkies can only work iPhones, oh no sireee)

Lucky girl that I am, I am about to journey to both of my oceans – first the ocean of the west, and then all the way across the land by train, to my ocean of the east. I am feeling very lucky that my work can travel with me, and my needles and thread, and camera. I am set. I have dear and lovely friends to see at both ends too, salty air to walk in, and pebbles to collect. I love you April, there is much to breathe in.

With apologies for the ridiculous number of photos this week, here are some outtakes, incase you are tempted to think this is all a bit Mary Poppins……





April 4, 2014   2 Comments

Faith is knowing….

Every moment of every day there are choices to be made. And thank goodness for my poor overloaded brain, that I make these choices quickly, instinctually and without too much rumination. I was always a bit freaked out by the film Sliding Doors, where there is one tiny moment – she misses a train – that changes the whole course of her life. If I choose a peppermint tea and the triple naughty chocolate brownie in my favourite cafe Black Books, am I doomed? Well, my thighs may be, but what about the rest of my life?

Holding on tight to these thoughts, I travelled to my ocean of the west before I made any more irreversible changes to my shifting sands in Stroud. There is nothing like a quiet shoreline and a new day rising golden, to help you feel better and make your 65 year old self say to your 45 year old self “listen honey, you’re gonna make it through. Relax, it all works out”.

So I may well be feeling like a bit of old frayed rope washed up on the beach, but the earth still smells good, reminding me that different things are always quietly being composted and remade. The world keeps turning. And, as my soon to be 16 year old said, in a sudden moment of wisdom “to make an omelette mum, you have to break the eggs. By the way, whats for tea, I’m starving?”

I’m feeling so crowded and over exposed, which makes me snort and laugh at myself as I share yet more personal thoughts on the book of Face and a blog that can be read by absolutely anyone. But I always love reading about the ins and outs of other people’s truthful stories, it helps me remember that we all pretty much work through the same issues, feel the same anxieties and fragility; we hurt each other in similar ways, love and hold each other and mend in the same ways too. It is just life, it is what happens.

Pathways can be fraught with things you didn’t expect though, coming out of a bag at ya….one minute the way is solid, next thing you know someone’s carelessness, or their own pain, can have you right down there, wondering who turned the lights off. Turn towards the sunshine, feel your way right outta there sister. All things pass.

I’m not really sure where I am going with any of this, its just one more pathway in my head, one more meandering thought to carry me through March, towards spring and warmth, blossoms, more travelling, more pink scarf.

If I am very lucky my oceans of the West and East will be blue and sparkling when I reach them, my hometown midpoint in Stroud will remain lovely and friend-filled, and my wayward hormones will be kind to me.

“When you come to the edge of all of the light you’ve known, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown; faith is knowing one of two things will happen. You’ll have something solid to stand on, or you’ll be taught how to fly.” Patrick Overter

March 16, 2014   5 Comments

Time, loss and change

Oh hello! Did you think I had been eaten by gnomes? or my pets? or that Scotty had finally beamed me up and beyond to the blue yonder? Disturbing thought.

No, here I am, all is well, sort of. But this New Year time through January and February has been more intense than I ever remember it being. I’ve had to resort to tidying the odd cuboard to calm my nerves on occasion. This is what I found in the latest poke around a dark drawer – last year’s intention list – ha, ha, let’s see how I did….

Hmmmmm, not bad on balance, but slightly disconcerting that I marked myself on my own list…at least it wasn’t in red pen.

The hardest part about January was losing someone I loved.

I have always considered myself to have come from a world of women, to have been surrounded by women – mothers, godmothers, girlfriends and daughters. They nurture me, hold me, inspire me, they are my life.

And yet I have been blessed to have had the most wonderful men in my life too – father, uncle, godfather, partners and sons, who, now I look closely, have been interesting, thoughtful, and funny and who have also gently shaped who I have become.

To have lost one of these men suddenly seven years ago was heartbreaking. To be losing another, in slow motion, even more so. But to have been given this time with them, in the first place is surely the best treasure that I have been gifted.

Saying goodbye to someone has made me take a long, hard look at this thing we call time. It is so hard to measure, and yet that is what I am trying to do. Suddenly, it is more precious almost than the breath in my body, and I really don’t know how much of it I have, for my own life, or for any of the other precious people in my world, and there are many. How can it be that life is so very long, and hard sometimes, and then it is over, in the smallest moment, with that final breath?

In the middle of the saddest time of this last 6 weeks, I was able to get away for a few days. I sat in a roundhouse with my sisters, and passed on my blessing for strong endings and brave new beginnings. It went into a cauldron tended by a beautiful woman land guardian, along with the spells, prayers and wishes of nineteen other women. It was stirred in, mixed together with ocean totems and we have each taken a jar of it home. Mine is sitting here expectantly, waiting. In a way, I guess that is what I am doing. Sitting, waiting, for what, I do not know. But there is a space growing, so we will see.

In the meantime, there is plenty of work and organising to be done with Wool Against Weapons – 25 weeks left! And I am counting all the small blessings that are keeping me going in this winter time of change……

the best rice pudding in the world – you clever girl, for nailing the ultimate recipe and sharing it with me -

……a funny beast to share it with, he makes me smile (when I am not wanting to kill him for his bad deeds)

….sharing the best and maddest time with gorgeous women, preparing food together and laughing A LOT…

….the gentle smell of Suzi’s beeswax melting slowly in my kitchen, to make balm and honey…

…..finally seeing two years worth of ocean treasure collected up and ready to make into totems by my ocean sister…

….and because Imbolc’s light has quietly crept in to this winter grey, the making of Brigids crosses and the wonderfulness and pale green of spring bulbs – the sweetest blessing. May we all slowly unfurl ourselves, mend and stretch in to this new time….

February 10, 2014   5 Comments

Samhain by the Ocean

Beautiful and quiet week, catching up on sleep, knitting, having lovely food cooked for me. The beginnings of mellow winter sunlight, crab apples, pumpkins, rosehip and birch. Feeling a sadness for this last visit this year to my ocean of the east, and a rightness in getting myself ready for the rich, dark dreaming time that Samhain ushers in. Wishing you all the most gentle of late autumn time, may all changes be for the good.

November 1, 2013   No Comments

A Stitchy Tale

A short stitchy story. You know how it goes. September comes around, the kids go back to school, you twiddle your thumbs for a couple of days, wondering what to do next, because clearly you do not have enough going on in your life. Then, ah ha! You have that lightbulb moment, sitting in the last of the summer sunshine, when you think, ‘well, it’s nearly Christmas, I had better crack on with some present making’. All in the name of actually avoiding knuckling down to some real, live, paid work, so your family doesn’t starve. Hurrah. Present Making it is. 

Next thing you know, you have persuaded your ex-husband to cut down his entire crop of lavender, although the scary man-tool strimmer was waved a little too close to your head for your liking, but hey presto, you have a tonne and a half of lavender to process before the sun leaves for another 8 months.

So you sit there weeping a little, feeling like what-was-her name when Rumplestiltskin said she had to spin an entire attic of straw into gold. Too big a task for one wee, mad girl. Never mind hey, because that is what Facebook is for – to send out a call for help. Which you do, and before long your garden is filled with lots of fab, mad girlies who spend an entire morning destalking your lavender and gossiping. Your ears nearly fall off their talk is so scandalous.

Well, this isn’t very stitchy yet, sorry. O.K, so lavender is deliciously procured, and made into lavender bags for Christmas, thus saving you a small fortune, funds instantly diverted into a better cause, namely books, chocolate and fun days out.  ”And your 15 year old will be delighted with his lavender bag” a friend wryly points out. For shame. Don’t be telling me the truth now, lady.

Alright, spurred on by the success of the lavender mission, you will naturally feel that your stitching talent is boundless and that you really are rather foxy when it comes to needles and thread. Oh you foolish girl. Around the same time you will be mercilessly talked into making a rather wonderful pouch for a special carving, and being a textile goddess you will enthusiastically agree. Oh my god. Did Martha teach you nothing in your sewing classes 3 years ago? Did she really tell you that a tape measure is a complete waste of time, that pins are for wimps? I don’t think so, she would have you horsewhipped for the short cuts you figure you can take.

Even so, you forge on, and as well as the pouch, you attempt to make a quilted hot water bottle cover, all nice and witchy, and magical. Because you can. But maybe, you actually can’t, and by day 5 you are rifling through the bathroom cabinet for diazepam to take away some of your self inflicted pain. I promised you honesty my friends, one blog back – well here it is. This is me, praying, no begging my Husquarvana to have mercy on me. It is pitiful, no?

Well, I need to wrap up this sorry chapter….the pouch got made (I was thrilled to discover my hairy white jumper had moulted all over the black fabric) and the hot water bottle cover just about made it through too, after I had a strict chat with myself and dug out some pins, and even a tailors chalk. The tape measure never quite got used, but lessons were learned. Oh yes they were. Namely, I must remember that learning to sew is best done slow; that one lavender bag made does not make you Mama Soule, far from it. Lavender is more soothing than diazepam and better for you, and JAINE: GET ON WITH SOME PROPER WORK….with this is mind, I am heading off to my Cornish ocean, to build up my strength and take a little break. Back in a week……

September 19, 2013   3 Comments

People Patchwork

Hello lovelies. You’ve been very patient recently with all my protesty bits and pieces, and so very indulgent of my need to post a whole heap of nonsense about cake, wool, jaunts to the ocean, cocktails, blah blah blah. And here you still are. I think this Autumn I might need to do a couple of blogs about the scarier, messier, more dysfunctional corners of my world, lest you a) really do think I am Maria from the Sound of Music; b) want to put a fork through my eyeballs write me a very strong letter of complaint; c) make a pledge to never visit Stroud in case you run in to me. Fair enough amigos. I hear you. 

Until that time, I offer up, for your continued despair delight, a few small snaps of the batshit crazies that are always just a stone’s throw outside the shot. Some of these gorgeous people are the dearest of lovely friends and family, and some are just poor unfortunates who stumble unwittingly into my world and therefore plan of badness (aka my life). I celebrate them all, for the oddness and madness and joy they bring into my life.

Of course there are one or two snapshots missing. Like the one of my oldest friend Deb, who lives so far away. If she had been here this summer, you would be seeing a pic of us walking arm in arm on the beach, catching up on 20 years of delicious gossip. And the snapshot of my dad, who, if he had been alive, would be here with me making me howl at the funny stories he used to tell. Some pockets of our life are sometimes unbelievably sad.

But to balance out the gaps, there are always people, people, everywhere, anywhere, making me laugh, doing surprising and bloggable things. Thank you. Really, thank you.

I realise that there may be a couple of impending lawsuits, after the scandalous publishing of one of two of these pics. But September finds me reckless and restless…I remain unrepentantly wicked. This is Jaine Rose, September elf of the green valleys, signing off.

September 13, 2013   No Comments

By the Ocean (tinged with teenagers)

I have been so cunning this year about spending as much time as possible by the ocean…and here I am again…but karma is a sneaky beast and it is this trip that has had both a carrot and a stick. So yes, I have swam in my creek and loved my life. But I have also been frogmarched to the edge of my sanity with shoeless 15 year old boys and subjected to Thriftshop by Macklemore (google it my friends, and be warned, it’s not the sort of thrift shop you or I care to hang out in with our dreams of vintage…..) 

Hey ho, it is still time by the ocean…so let’s be positive. Gorgeous gorgeous. Hope your skies are blue too lovelies…..

August 18, 2013   No Comments

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

A question of focus

Well, my garden leave neatly dovetailed in to another ocean escape, so here I am, back in Norfolk, breathing out and watching the most stunning sunsets over my precious salt marsh, where our caravan lives.

Of course it isn’t all one big picnic…that journey took a circuitous route via GCSE’s, orthodontists appointments, doctor’s visits, card orders, tax returns, car insurance, housework, and the general hassle of living. But after a trek across London and East Anglia with a backpack, at last I’m here, and even though I have brought work with me, this is an official week of escape.

Stiffkey is a small village on the north Norfolk coast, and I’ve been coming here for nearly 25 years; it feels like home. And it’s small shop has the best cake ever…didn’t dare photograph the cake incase lemon lips had me arrested (I’m on a final warning) but here are some other lovely things i found there…

I love my time here. There are long walks in pine woodlands, walking and splishing by the shoreline, and supper with old friends

This week we’ve even had a small piece of summer (clever me for catching it, as it flitted across England, bound for luckier places like Spain) – here I am bleaching out, crisping up and tuning in to my favourite iPod playlists

There are fab things to rest your eyes on here – miles of pristine unspoilt salt marsh, hares in the fields at dusk, wild, empty beaches. Beauty is everywhere. It made me realise how very hard I sometimes have to work to see beauty back in my everyday world. And yet it is there, despite the nonsense that we are fed from the news and in the papers about what a dangerous, nightmare of a society we live in. Sure, there are some pretty scary things going down. But listen up! The EC has banned neonicotinoid pesticides to help our bees. Saudi Arabia has its first women in its previously all-male Shura Council, and Scotland is aiming to meet 50% of its electricity needs from renewables, having just exceeded its previous target.

Shall I go on? O.k, well, the Governments’ plan to sell our woodlands has been dropped after overwhelming public pressure, vandalism and gun crime has fallen to a 20 year low *, and proposals to protect the Arctic by creating a global sanctuary around the North Pole have drawn worldwide support.

And lastly, just to get it off my chest, whilst this is not a peaceful world, there are actually fewer wars now than ever, and 48% of the world’s populations are living in established democracies. So don’t let this over culture of lies tell you otherwise. Ooops, I think all this sea air has made me a little feisty. Seriously, good things are happening people….its all just a question of where we put our focus.

So, let me put my focus back onto the lovelies that I have been spying all around me up in these parts….

and finally these….

Forgive me for drawing you in with nice pictures and then wham! A big hit of world politics….but there are so very many things to be excited about, that are simply not being reported. O.k, time for me to get back behind my camera…and go and chill out with the seagulls. Sending love and sea breezes from the wild English coast.

* Official figures from the Crime Survey of England and Wales, 2013

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May 29, 2013   1 Comment

Quiet Weekend

About a year ago I wrote about the Hurricane that is children passing through our lives. Thundering through, leaving a trail of chaos, madness, glory and life in their wake. And I do vaguely remember lamenting how quickly it all goes, even if it doesn’t appear to at the time. Well this is me. And I am tired. Not with a big capital T, but with a small sighing t that makes me want to lie on the ground and say to the clouds ‘ok, I’m all yours, beam me up Scotty’ (yes, Scotty does live up there in the clouds, I have it on good authority)

We have been parenting now for nearly two decades, and I thank the Universe for sending me this man to share it all with. But I also get it when he sits atop a cliff and silently says ‘wake me up when this teenage thing is all over honey’. Maybe those were my words. No matter.

With one child at Uni, another one going in September, and two following quickly behind, we really are on the homeward run. This is a new terrain that we are finding ourselves in. Everything is shifting, and I like it. Do I? I might do. Or it might scare me. Or both. This is a tangle of feelings and decisions. Time for some time out and a think.

Have you noticed how I always run to the ocean? As landlocked as Stroud can be, we are near enough to zip off and quickly be in Cornwall, or Exmoor, or in the case of last weekend, the Gower, in Wales. And when these feelings come, its only the sea that will soothe me.

Imagine then, quietly opening the door to this gorgeous haven of tranquility. This is Jill and Steve’s Meadow Cottage, and should you need to run to it as we did, you can find it here. Not a farty hound or teenager in sight – look closely, no, I didn’t see moulding clothes or packed lunch boxes on the floor either. Yay. 

So what does a quiet, Beltane weekend need then? Apart from farmers market olives, something cold and preferably sparkly, and a whole heap of crocheting? Well, of course it needs funky cafes with delicious cake (and she’s off…), and gorgeous beaches with the micro-climate of a Sydney summer. Oh yes, the Gower has both.

But it also needs clear vision – a high place from which to stop, breathe, and look back at all that has been. Only then can we begin to wonder at what might be. I so often forget this amidst the madness and small details of everyday. Only then can you see that your babies are infact nearly grown up (and this is a shocker) – not mini versions of you, but their own real-people selves. So who does that make you, you start to question? You have been ‘muuuuuuum’ (yelled in an exasperated voice) for so long, you have quite forgotten.

I might well be knitting a 7 mile long pink peace scarf, but does this mother even have an identity without her babies?

Suddenly, being on this homeward run, children wise (and yes, many many friends have warned me that they don’t always behave obediently and leave at 18 for Uni, never to darken your door or raid your fridge again) – but being in this frame of mind, I am suddenly looking at my opening doors and wanting them now. To hell with three years, I have pink wellies and a nose ring. I’m ready. Even if my mother thinks I’m not quite old enough. Hmmmmm. A rock and a hard place spring to mind.

So while my heart is quietly breaking for all that I may lose, I nevertheless am willing to step on to a different pathway with trust and small steps. Time to throw away the map. And as I wrote on my white hallway recently, ‘getting lost will help you find yourself’

May 10, 2013   1 Comment