Tuesday, 29 April 2014

sloe and steady

This morning I slightly deviated from my usual walk, instead going up the track beside our house which winds and bumps between fields and onto an old roadway, wide enough, really, for only cart and horse. This is where we forage sloes for sole gin, a Winter treat. For the last two years we have had no sloes and therefore no sloe gin, but this year...this year the blackthorn is full of frothy white blossom and I've my fingers crossed that when the first autumn frosts are over there will be plump, dusty purple sloes in abundance for picking.
The windowsill in the dining room is often a place for bits and bobs, leftovers from a busy day- books, pencils, small toys, pieces of Lego and whatnot. I sometimes make the conscious effort to clear up the detritus and so today I am enjoying the delicately scented geranium and the bright sunlight, for a while at least.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

recommended reading

Do you ever read two or maybe three books at once. Starting something new before finishing another one off? I do it all the time and now that there's no TV in the house I've found my reading time has (blissfully) increased. So, with only a couple of hundred pages of Emma to finish I read Life after Life and was immediately swept along in a story where a life is lived again and again, getting second and third chances until it is somehow right. Parts of the book are based in World War II and the Blitz and it made for awful, compulsive reading. It was a wonderful book - doing exactly what a good one does- making you believe in the world you're reading about.

I first came across Life after Life as a recommendation on the lovely Circle of Pine Trees The Year in Books- a great idea!

And so to finish Emma and begin Jen Hadfield's Byssus... the wonderful endlessness of reading...

Monday, 21 April 2014


This Easter's warmth has put me in mind of pastel coloured gabled seaside houses, bunting zigzagging down to the water's edge, masts tinkling in light breezes and the safety of the harbour...

You can almost smell the seaweed and taste the tang of salt from these wonderful seaside paintings by St Ives artist Emma Jeffryes available here
Agapanthus and Dolly | Emma Jeffryes

Having Fun in front of Quay House | Emma Jeffryes

outside in the sun

We have been blessed with warm, sunny and extremely welcome Spring weather. Out in the garden the boys set up their teepee tent and made it den-like with blankets and cushions and books and toys. They played all day out in the sun, swinging in the trees, inventing complicated games and not-so-complicated ones. Food and feeding moved outside too. Lunch was leek and smoked bacon tart. Later that evening we chopped some logs and lit our ancient cast iron barbecue. The air, full of woodsmoke, was a reminder of summer days. As we cooked over the crackling heat the excitement of cooking in such a simple way brought home to us how complicated we sometimes make our lives. What could be better than wood, fire, smoke and heat from the sun and having the time to enjoy it all?

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

"my holdfast in such wild water"

On Sunday I sat glued to Radio 4 to hear something I had waited all week for- the Echo Chamber with a visit to the poet Jen Hadfield in Shetland. I had never heard of her before. She won the T.S Eliot prize for poetry in 2008 and the radio programme featured poems from her recent collection Byssus meaning a mussel's beard or the threads which anchor it. The sounds of Shetland, the cries of seabirds, the swash and backwash of the shore and Jen's own voice made for an enchanting half hour. If you get the chance listen here.

out walking

This week I have been walking the quiet roads, often just as the sun has risen, when all is calm. There have been mornings of sunshine with clear blue skies and other mornings of low lying mist and frost on the grass. The blackthorn is flowering, the cattle are out in the fields and there is peace in this corner of the world. I relish the complete lack of human noise. It has taken me a long time to realise that I prefer to walk alone (well, with dogs) certainly without a squabble of children but also without husband or other walking companions. Is that wrong? No, I don't think so. It means I appreciate my time alone, it means I come back into the breakfast scrum with good humour, it means I get to see the small, everyday scenes of beauty all around which helps me to connect with this amazing earth we live on, it means I plan my day or week without interruption, it means I write long, complicated letters in my head to people who have really pissed me off, it means my heart beats faster, it means my lungs fill with morning air. It means everything.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

oh heck....

...what have we done?? We've just taken the bold/totally-going-to-ruin-your-life move of getting rid of the TV. Breathe. And unclench. And try to think of the positives...
Kill Your TV Letterpress Manifesto Poster
manifesto from here
It began with us not watching TV during the school week. No-body missed it and the grown-ups watched the news at 9pm when all children were in bed. Then the TV stopped working. Then the TV licence bill dropped into the letter box (€160). Then we started saying "what if we had no TV..." So here we are with no TV. And I'm wondering "oh heck, what have we done?"

But it's hard to do anything even remotely creative when the television is on (or waiting to be turned on). And to be honest that's not we want for our boys or for us. I really want us to read, play, explore, get muddy, bake, sew, make, do, rest, draw, paint, dance, talk instead.

So for better or for worse we have no TV. 

And yes, I am a little bit scared.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

all the way

Victorian Tattooed Dude Paper Puppet Doll - Johnny the Boy, Handsome Angler

Tattoo Tough Guy Paper Puppet - Sir Craig, Dapper Mustached Spring Victorian Hustler for summer easter birthday wedding bestfriend gifts
If any of my boys want to get a tattoo I think I'm going to insist they go the whole hog, no hanging back, all the way - like these handsome chaps

Spring Tattoo Lady Paper Puppet Doll - Miss Pamella, A Fancy Victorian Damsel who is ready for easter a spring wedding, birthday, party gift
...and then I'll join them...

marvellous paper puppets from animator and peculiar stationer crankbunny here

Friday, 4 April 2014

may your weekend...

tea time (print)
may your weekend have time for tea
l'inconnue (print)
may your weekend have time for reading
green thumb (print)
may your weekend have time for growing, planting, nurturing
bedroom (print)
may your weekend have time for rest
dance party for one (print)
may your weekend have time for dance

wishing you a happy weekend, full of things you love!

all these gorgeous prints are from Yelena Bryksenkova