Tuesday, 28 October 2014


dark blue paint bedroom walls
image from Pinterest
The change in time along with some truly wet and dark mornings has left us a little confused. Asleep in front of the fire at 9pm, wide awake at 6am although perhaps the drumming rain has something to do with that...The boys too are fuddled. Mide finished his lunch yesterday, slid down from his chair and announced he was off for a nap, like some old chap. And he did just that. Tucked himself up in his bed, blanket firmly wrapped around himself and he snoozed for over an hour. I am just very glad that it's school holidays and if anyone wants a mid day sleep it can be done. I am also glad that I am totally lazy parent. School holidays are not for filling up every last minute with 'achievements' or even 'experiences'. No, they are for slow mornings. Playing. Maybe meeting friends. And sleeping, if needed.

Friday, 24 October 2014

happy weekend

A City Garden
A city garden by James McIntosh Patrick

We are here again, Friday. The weekend stretches out like a lazy cat, all as yet unspent, all to look forward to. And we have the added pleasure of Hallowe'en break from school. As these mornings darken and it's so much harder to wake and get out of bed and get the day started, it will be nice to have a few days where there is no pressure and if another half hour slumbering is needed, then so be it. Yes, October days are shortening and darkening, leading us to winter and the need to nestle in. I'm nothing like the busy artist's wife with her laundry drying on leafless trees- she's making good use of her autumn days! I do like the light in this painting, exactly right for this time of year. Happy weekend!

This weekend I'd like to make these cupcakes, read more of The Little Friend and try this recipe from the always delicious Green Kitchen Stories

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

recipe :: sloe gin

On this wild and windy day, a recipe to keep out the cold. Sloe gin is a favourite- it's lovely with cheese after a meal or to warm you up if you're out winter sporting or walking. It also makes a perfect Christmas gift. I use Sarah Raven's recipe from her Garden Cookbook.

For about 800ml:
450g sloes
710ml gin
350g caster sugar

Making sure the sloes are dry and clean, prick them all over with a fork** and put into a large sterilised kilner jar along with the gin and sugar. Close the jar tightly and turn it every so often until all the sugar has dissolved. Leave it in a dark place for 3 months and then strain into warm sterilised bottles and seal.

** or put them in the freezer for the same effect

Saturday, 18 October 2014

gathering in

This month is a good time to do some gathering. The two smaller boys and I walk up the lane in search of sloes. The day is heavenly- blustery with fallen leaves eddying at our feet but it is warm and the skies are blue. Leaves are picked up, examined and discussed as we make our way along and the boys play lion and zebra, taking turns to be the hunter and hunted.

We walk to the top of the lane and then pass through the overgrown hedges and come out onto an old track or lane-way. The sloes are plentiful. I improvise a basket out of my scarf and we start picking. William wants to pick them all but I say no, take some and leave some for other animals.

We're like apes, says William as his little hands dart in around the thorny branches. Yes, yes we are, I reply. Although I'm pretty sure the apes wouldn't be making sloe gin with their fruit, like I'll be doing with ours.

Friday, 17 October 2014

wood pile

October has meant some warm sunny days, plenty of misty nights but also lots of cold wind and heavy rain. It's time to start stacking the wood. We try to keep the timber that's ready for burning close to hand at the back door- no running out to the drying shed on a blustery wet afternoon for me. It's a very nice job stacking the wood- I had helpers this time and we'd it done in a flash. I love the thud of the axe splitting the wood and the clang as we load it into the wheelbarrows and then it's stacked relatively neatly and there it waits for a not-very-nice-day when we need warm bums!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

five go back in time

I am totally guilty of reliving some of my childhood through my children. Recently William's chosen bedtime books have been 'The Famous Five' by Enid Blyton. He is so excited about the stories-each chapter ends thrillingly and he's totally caught up in the excitement and suspense of it all. And then we found the 1970s Famous Five TV programme on YouTube- oh boy, talk about an instant time machine- whoosh! straight back to childhood...

If you need to time travel back to 1978 (and let's face it who doesn't) click here

Tuesday, 14 October 2014


This morning just after dropping the boys to the school bus I stopped by the lake. It was so incredibly peaceful -the water was completely flat, the surrounding hills and fields are reflected in that stillness. The air was warming up after a chilly night and there was mist hanging on patches of water. I stood for a few minutes and soaked it into my soul. Are you rushing around today? Have you got a 'to-do-list' that's getting out of control? Doing jobs you really would prefer not to be doing? Here, have some peace.

Monday, 13 October 2014

last week...

 ...making clay houses with golden roofs
 ...watching mist descending on the garden
 ...moon gazing
 ...walking into the fields to admire those rolling hills and clouds
 ...enjoying a trip to that most perfect of small buildings, Casino Marino in Dublin
...loving the smiling lions

Thursday, 9 October 2014

night sky

the stars were hers - limited edition giclee print of original oil painting

I do love October and its mist filled evenings and starry night skies. I like the dark when I am tucked up safely indoors but I'm thinking I should be braver and embrace that inky black, especially when there are stars to be seen. We are lucky to live in  a very quiet place with no light pollution so as soon as we step out into the garden and look up we can see them glittering and we can remember our place in the wider universe.

I love these oil paintings by Amanda Blake. Her astral night skies are wonderfully speckled with just enough light to be atmospheric and I'm wondering what the boys would say to a night-time picnic and a little star gazing... 
You can see more of Amanda's work here.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

in the pink

A little bit of pink, just a blush here and there out in the October garden. The wind is loosening the leaves and already so many of the sycamore have fallen. There is still a little colour though, enough to bring a smile- the dahlias, hydrangeas and sedum and of course that little bit of evening light on the barn. 

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

fresh air

great small kitchen space.
image from pinterest
Hello October! A month of changing time, crisping leaves and cooling weather. We've been exceptionally lucky with September- warm and sunny with very little rain. And today it's lovely too. I washed floors and have left windows and doors wide open to let in that autumnal sun and fresh air. Open windows and doors gives us the added benefit of nature's soundtrack too- the birds are singing away and occasionally we get the odd nosy robin peeking in. There's something about well scrubbed floors (and freshly laundered bedding) that makes me happy. Of course with three boys and two dogs trooping through the house the freshness of anything is fleeting...