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Category — summer

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

NFS….Normal for Stroud

I’m home, I’m teenaged out…and I am due some normal time (please? someone point me in the right direction?). It feels good to be back in Stroud, and immersed in our green valleys again. It feels good to be doing what I usually do at home – knitting, working in the garden on my laptop, herding cats… you know, the sort of thing that I’ve come to expect in this circus we call everyday.

Over in these parts we even have our own facebook page called ‘Normal for Stroud’ and the disturbing thing is, it looks completely reasonable to my eyes. Sigh. It was no surprise to see that a photo of our pink scarf pitched up on it this week, randomly. O.K, in this last week of August, here is a little roundup of goings-on in my ‘Normal for Stroud’ life…..

First up, no sooner had I landed home, we were carted off to Treefest, sweet little local festival, with a healthy dose of axe and chainsaw tomfoolery for obsessive woody people. And why not. Whatever floats your boat. What was floating mine, big time, were the churros with cinnamon sugar and hot chocolate sauce. Here is concrete evidence that you can distract these woody people in a nano second with the right sort of carrot….ha ha ha…..

…not so focused on your woodturning now, are you, my little sawdusty friends…..

Back at the ranch there was plenty of time to dust down the old jazz classic ’78’s (and torment the dog with the promise of a biscuit on a turntable); mix up a jug of ‘Mushion Moules’ (a ridiculous and less sober interpretation of the better known Moscow Mule), and to round off the evening’s entertainment (after the fun of teasing the dog had waned) a little game of “tie a doughnut on a string and torment our blindfolded guests” – my how we laughed…..

Other noteworthy distractions have been: meeting a wizard with some rather interesting potions and resins; getting a little ‘makey’ with some blackberry and currant liqueur, stitching a couple of hops and lavender sleeping pillows; and rolling out an 80 meter piece of peace scarf down our road as you do, for a little pinky try out.

Is this normal for Stroud? I don’t know, all I am beginning to realise is that it is normal for me. As regular as these green wooded hills that we walk, and as fab as the people that pitch up at a moment’s notice – whether it is to hold up meters of knitting or to protest another awful war in our struggling world. Happy normal weekends to y’all…

August 29, 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

Calm before the Storm

Oh now, let me see….two grown-ups (really?) and seven teenagers, five tents, a festival. Woohoo, it’s nearly time to party…..

I am not quite on my starting blocks, although long to-do lists have been made. No, I am in the calm place, in the empty house, quiet time, before it all kicks off later today, when the kids of madness start to gather here at Stroudie central

These have been my calm, peaceful moments: 

Picking berries from the garden and dreaming up lovely things to do with them, including a cocktail called a Redcurrant shrub – with spices, and dark rum from the River Cottage Preserves recipe book- which will be ready by Christmas. Oh, and a chocolate mint and blackcurrant ice cream, yum

Finishing our family’s birthday bunting – honestly, I know I am sounding like a weird sort of Mary Poppins, but it’s all about an excess of hormones and work avoidance – stick with it baby

Enjoying having a lovely, clean bathroom all to myself…before it is occupied by said teenagers and their fights over the shower, wet towells, and outrageous smells

Treacherously ignoring pink wool, and enjoying crocheting my ocean ripple blanket, dreaming of what will be

Witnessing the making of three vegan meals to take camping, now ensconced in the freezer for the weekend, oh clever partner of mine

Loving a gentle time in a field with sweet hippies, campfires and teepees – a world away from the party we are about to be catapulted into….

Felting a badger for Ed the Pirate (see previous blog – I did meet a real live pirate, and he became a town mayor dressed as a badger, honest)

A feeling of deep gratitude for help unravelling and untangling wool

Altering some fabulously sparkly disco pants, like you do, ready to wear at Aldermaston peace camp the week after next – glamour is always where its at, when it comes to protest

So, a seemingly random week, and like I said, the calm before the storm of partying, late nights, pitta bread and chocolate spread breakfasts (yes, teenagers really do this) – which will contribute to one of  the maddest of weekends for sure. Have fun peoples….see you next week for a  festival post mortem…..

July 25, 2013   No Comments

Eleven ‘I Loves’ (of Summer)

Blue skies and heat – oh yes! Summer, I love yoooooooooo….so here are eleven I loves, to celebrate

Walking over the fields that are known locally as “The Heavens”, chatting to all the other morning dog walkers

Getting out my favourite summer table cloths, chair throws and cushions

The handpainted roof at the Red Hearth – a real community effort

Sitting on our deck in the evening sunshine, drinking Pimms

More light coming in to the house, especially since Mark, my hero, made them sparkle (boy can that man clean when the fever comes upon him)

Gathering herbs from my garden – mugwort, lady’s mantle, lemon balm, feverfew, raspberry leaf – my first choice for period pain

Sitting one last time with dear sisters at our Red Hearth in the woods

A bush full of shiny sweet redcurrants in the front garden

Summer flowers in the house

Grass meadows being cut for hay in the fields

All the doors and windows open, light and warmth pouring in

Beautiful summer, for as long as we have you, I thank you (and blow you a ridiculous number of kisses)

P.S. Just a little extra pic, to expel any myths you might be harbouring of my life being one long pretty photoshoot – teenage bedroom, complete with black walls, bin bags, dirty washing, overflowing bins, and a hopeful hound hoping to scoop up any foodie leftovers from dark corners…this is the other reality…

July 11, 2013   1 Comment

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

More Mad Crazy

Oooh hello, it’s been a while. You know what it is like around these Stroudie parts – a week can be a long time, with lots of different, unplanned things popping up all over the place.

This week has been about the magic that happens when women get together.

We gathered for our annual opening of our Red Hearth House by the light of the new moon, and danced, drummed, sang and howled with the most witchy of whiskers. 

This is such a special place that we have created, in Kesty and Martin’s beautiful woodland, and it fed my soul once more to be there, with many different wonderful women and all the stories that they bring to weave in with my own.

Oh you mad, crazy week…I didn’t see you coming. But in I leapt, as I knew I would, with my fast beating heart yearning for adventure and change. There have been camp outs, dawn choruses, badgers, burial chambers, axes, art, get togethers, cake, bitey things, and lots and lots of laughing and chit chatting.

It is also the month that Fiona and John Owen throw open their chapel studio doors to let us all have a peek inside at their wonderful, most magical of creations.

If you live anywhere near Gloucestershire, their exhibition is on until 30th June and is breathtaking. You will love it.

And so my week has rolled on, with a daughter learning to skateboard, puzzling over strange pub quiz questions, rainstorms to be caught in, and art students arriving at our house in a lovely impromptu gathering.

And today, Sunday, it ends as it so often begins, with wool, cake and friends – with Prema’s PicKnit in the Park – and as much as I need to collapse on my sofa and rest, I skip along with my pink peace scarf, dodging raindrops, and slide into yet more mad crazy…..

June 16, 2013   No Comments

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

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

Finding balance

Summer gently tips into early autumn, the Equinox pulls all things into balance, and I notice the blustery winds that often come at this time of the year. It feels to me like a settling of accounts, or a resistance to let go, and I begin to look around me, at this push and pull.

I cannot quite let go of summer, but I love the new flush of autumn berries.

I breathe out slowly, along favourite familiar pathways. But I am holding my breath as I step into new, scary adventures with my work.


In my world, there is handmade (a present for Susi) and nature made (from our Farmer’s Market)


What takes us a long time and a lot of human effort – working with a community woodland group sourcing local wood for our wood stove (thank you Mark), nature grows effortlessly and in abundance (ho! to the hips).

In looking for balance, I find I love my early morning walks over fields, alone and quiet, but also love a little nighttime wildness with friends, celebrating big birthdays.

And as ever, wherever I am, there is order and disorder…


And so even though I need to stay focused for the time being on this latest bubble of work, I cannot help but sit in the sunshine doing lovely repetitive jobs like harvesting lavender – thinking about what is useful and which stalky bits I no longer need.

This time of the year sings to my soul – it really does – and I smile at the miracle that bit by bit I have managed to do some of what I set out to do earlier in the year. Those tiny seeds I planted deep in wintertime have grown and flown. And the leaves turn quietly.


September 19, 2012   4 Comments