Wednesday, 1 November 2017

A Return and A Fresh Start

Hello again - remember me? I have been an errant blogger haven't I? I can't believe that we're on 1st November already. It's been months since I've posted and in the meantime the summer and a good deal of the autumn have passed by. All is well here at The House with the Blue Door, and I'm pootling along as usual, but I have very much missed blogging, and sharing my thoughts and photos with you - Blogland is such a warm and friendly place. 


I realised though, that working full-time is just not conducive to frequent blogging, not to mention actually finding the time to be creative, make things, stay active and run a home. So I reluctantly stopped for a while and as time passed I got a sort of blogging block. Every time I thought about posting it felt like too much time had gone by. I have now decided that this is nonsense and I need to stop thinking about it and jolly well just get on with it. So here I am.


It has been a full house here with our three young people in residence again. B returned from New Zealand in the spring and is now working, J is back at university and D is in her final year of 6th form. It's been a busy house full of comings, goings, friends and visitors, a pleasant buzz of activity. Now that we are in a house of adults, you'd think that I would have more time to myself, and I suppose I do in many ways. This year, though, many weekends and holidays have gone on DIY and house-related stuff, kind of catching up with ourselves. 


However, some changes have been made in the time I've been away. One is that I've made a change to my fitness routine. I still have weight to shift, and whilst I've been a frequent visitor to the gym, after almost 2 years I was becoming very bored with it. I am quite an outdoor, seasonal sort of person, and need a daily dose of fresh air and to be surrounded by greenery and nature, even if it's just the garden. After a busy day indoors at work, I need to breathe in the outside: touch leaves and flowers; feel the rain, sunshine, or cold air; smell the soil and vegetation; listen to birds. I don't feel right if I don't do this. And I felt stifled at the gym: the same view every time I went; breathing in re-circulated, air-conditioned air; watching the little numbers on a screen ticking away the time as I exercised; my only idea of what the weather was doing was a view through a skylight. The people there were lovely, but I couldn't justify the monthly cost. 


P has been a regular runner for years now, and in the last year or two has taken to running in the countryside around us. He often returned with tale of places 'you'd love', and suggested I run too - remember the poppy field he showed me? Now I haven't run for years (make that decades!) and scoffed at his ideas of me jogging along behind him, gasping for air and red in the face. However, I knew I had to make a change. Then two things happened to make my mind up.


 Firstly I went to cheer P in his most recent half-marathon, and noticed that not everyone taking part was a super-fit, highly-polished, Lycra-clad athlete. Secondly I started to wonder if I could actually run, so a few weeks ago I put on my T-shirt, leggings and trainers and cast aside all feelings of embarrassment and self-doubt. We went to a lovely spot in local countryside and went for a walk/run. I ran when I could, and walked the rest - and surprised myself. It was a warm day and now and again we stopped to admire views and take photos. We went 3 1/2 miles up and down some big hills and even explored a prehistoric long barrow along the way. It was heaven! I was tired when we got back but happy, so happy and P didn't mind going at my pace because he runs with a running group and on his own. Here are some photos from our first run/walk.





  
  


Since then there have been more walk/runs in other lovely local places, sometimes with my camera and sometimes without, just to see how far I can run without stopping. 




And I have so enjoyed it! It's made exercise into a fun activity that I look forward to, rather than a chore which hangs over me and which I invent reasons to escape. There are at the moment no targets or goals, other than to get out weekly and do a bit more than last time. I get out of breath and hot, and know that it's doing me good, and we get to chat along the way and stop and look at beautiful sights like these orange, gold and green beech leaves.


And this delicate tracery of tiny silver-grey seed heads which made me want to go home, grab my knitting needles and cast on a delicate lacy shawl.


Or make a necklace like this gorgeous garland of bright red bryony berries adorning the hedgerows.


Back at home I've been busy too. There's been a fair bit of crochet going on - lots of little woolly flower brooches for my Etsy shop, as well as sewing and embroidery too. I've had an Etsy shop for years, but have recently spruced it up a bit, given it a new name to match my blog, and generally brought it up-to-date.




There's been knitting too, in the form of a heathery hills wall-hanging.


In the kitchen I've managed to keep up with our modest harvests, producing through the summer rhubarb and vanilla jam, redcurrant jelly, blackcurrant jam and most recently blackberry jam with berries I'd frozen as I picked them. They were all a success, with no runny or over-cooked batches among them. I think I've got the hang of this jam-making lark now.


I've loved gardening this year, and have moved plants around and introduced some new ones, like hydrangeas and heathers, as well as planting more fruit - blueberries and gooseberries in pots.  The Japanese anenomes have only just finished flowering.


My shed is looking suitably autumnal now, and the evenings are really drawing in.



Reading-wise, I've been enjoying natural history books lately, and have just finished this one which was a brilliant and very seasonal read about apples and orchards. I got it for my birthday a few weeks ago, which was apt because my favourite birthday tea has been in recent years what P has described as a 'large cheeseboard' involving local cheeses, lovely grainy bread, appley chutney, quince jelly, posh crisps, and delicious local apples.


I started the book in the garden and finished it in bed with a dose of flu, followed by a chest infection which I'm still trying to get rid of (ugh, that's the only downside of lovely autumn - the return of the horrid bugs). But that's enough of that.


Thank you if you've taken the time to read to the end. I really do appreciate anyone who reads my blog, and I am so glad that I've posted again. It just feels right and makes me happy, however infrequent it is ♥ ♥ ♥

See you soon x

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Into the Woods

Over the last couple of weeks we have been out and about locally enjoying the arrival of spring, and there's no better place for this than woodland. I love to be in green places surrounded by trees and growing things. Woodlands are very much three-dimensional places, with interest all around: above in the tree canopy birds sing and squirrels climb; at eye height there is blossom, bark and new leaves; at ground level there is a carpet of plants, rotting wood, fungi and tiny creatures. Woodlands are places where you can lose yourself and still your thoughts.


Recently after work we walked to our local nature reserve. It's only little, but there's so much to see. I looked, listened and use all my senses: warbling birdsong trilled around us; the tiny white and pink stars of wood anenomes dotted the green of the floor; frothy white blackthorn blossom decorated the trees; a soft breeze touched my face and the pungent, appetising smell of wild garlic rose up from the ground and wafted around our noses. 


The wild garlic was yet to flower,


and wood anenomes covered the ground.




Many of them were a soft pink.





New leaves glowed in the light of the setting sun.


And as it set, bats came out and swooped over our heads, some getting very close indeed. Such a lovely evening.


Last weekend we went to a larger ancient woodland which is a short car drive from here. It was a sunny afternoon, and as the bluebells were at their peak there were families there enjoying their beauty on a Sunday afternoon.


There were celandines and wood anenomes too, amidst the green.


Streams and gullies babbled away,



and we climbed the side of a very pretty waterfall which cascades over the rocks below.



Bright green ferns pushed their way up through the leaf litter.




Overhead the sunlight shone through the leaves above, making patterns of light and shade.


Best of all, of course, were the bluebells. Such a heavenly shade of blue, and so many of them.



I stood and drank them all in, inhaling their delicate scent which hung in the air. 



Nothing can match the spectacle of them shimmering under the trees. They epitomise late spring, and I wait for them eagerly every year. It's always hard for me to keep walking when I come across a clearing of bluebells.


Other flowers were there too, like this pretty red campion,


more wood anenomes,


bright dandelions,


and delicate lady's smock, which I also know as milkmaids. I found out it's also called cuckoo-flower in some parts of Britain and is related to wallflowers, which I often suspected.


Thank you for coming with me on my ramble. 


Woodlands are indeed magical places  x