Friday, 29 August 2014

Who Am I?

They say there are two sides to every story … maybe there are two sides to every person too.

“I’m complicated, mysterious, yet content with the simple things in life.  Don’t try to understand me; you won’t figure me out.  But you’re free to like me the way I am.” ~ Marwa Avad

late second blooming rose

Take me for instance …  on this blog I talk about, amongst other things, my love of my flower garden … the countryside that surrounds me … nature and wildlife … the beauty of which motivates me to try and paint pictures with words … possibly revealing my more feminine, soft and sensitive side …

butterfly on cosmos

It’s wonderful when you can bring sparkle into people’s lives without fading away from your own true colour.  Keep the hue in you. ~ Dodinsky

However, on  my other blog, A Woman of the Soil, here … it brings out the  more down to earth … practical … no-nonsense side of me  … talking about my vegetable/kitchen garden …its successes and failures both … a part of my life that brings such satisfaction most of the time.

assorted varieties of tomatoes

“Just because I liked something at one point in time doesn’t mean I’ll always like it, or that I have to go on liking it at all points in time as an unthinking act of  loyalty to who I am as a person.  To be loyal to myself  is to allow myself to grow and change, and challenge who I am and what I think.  The only thing I am for sure, is unsure, and this means I am growing, and not stagnant or shrinking.” ~ Jarod Kintz

In each case I try to take you, my readers, on an enjoyable journey … sharing personal experiences … hopefully from a fresh perspective … giving you small glimpses of who I am … showing my take on the things I am passionate about.

rain battered sweet peas

Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be, because sooner or later, if you are posing, you will forget the pose, and then where are you? ~ Fanny Brice

The two sit comfortably with me … I can be practical when I need to be … digging and planting,  hauling logs or sacks of grain … or I can be creative … painting delicate watercolour pictures or writing  a piece of fiction.  Both sides of my character make up who I am … sometimes one dominates the other out of necessity… but each have their place in my life … sometimes a dreamer … sometimes  logical.  Just going with the flow one day … and making hard decisions on another.

nasturtiums and fennel

scabious, flowering mint and white cosmos


Sometimes though I lose my mojo – my motivation to do the things I enjoy – and  become very negative – but still going through the motions out of habit.  I stopped posting on my veg growing blog for almost a year; still growing veg but just not wanting to share as I just wasn’t getting any enjoyment out of it – and I was sure that that feeling would be conveyed to the readers of the blog.


I carried on with the Rosebank blog because I could cover a variety of topics – even though it started out as purely a gardening blog.  It’s funny how things change – how we change – my mojo is back and I have started the other blog back up again and am taking delight in talking about growing veg and producing my own food once more. 


So, there you have it – a little of what goes on inside my head –  you are probably thinking what a load of old ‘tosh’ and you are probably right, but I guess we all have different facets to our personality – at least I hope so, wouldn’t life be boring if we didn’t.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

One of life’s gentler pursuits

Time is all we have.  And how we choose to spend that time, makes up our entire life.  There really isn’t anything else.

I woke early – dawn was breaking – the sun rising higher in the sky.  Quietly, so as not to disturb, I dressed in windproof coat and walking shoes – the outdoors called – I needed to be out in the chill air of a bright morning – an autumnal morning.


I was alone walking the road – loving the quiet except for the wind rustling through the trees – a magical time of day when nothing stirs.  Cows standing like statues in the fields – swallows gathering on the wires, preening and chattering amongst themselves. 


The silence broken by two cyclists whirring past – lycra clad -  feet pumping furiously on the pedals – then a jogger puffs by cheeks rosy from exertion, with neon trainers and requisite water bottle in hand – we exchange ‘good mornings’ as we pass.


I stop to take in the views having not walked this road all summer – the grass is parched after a dry spell – the trees still in full leaf – bindweed drapes itself  over the hedgerows it ghostly white flowers opening in the sun – hawthorn berries ripening and glistening red.


I turn and re-trace my steps, homeward bound for breakfast – hot coffee and buttered toast – later I will drive to the next village to shop for weekend treats and roast chicken dinners. I see the old man – his routine never changing - shopping for groceries and the library to change his books – we smile at one another – strangers but familiar at the same time.


And so the weekend rolls on – thinking of plans for the day – gardening to be sure – as I have been beavering away indoors the garden has suffered neglect – ashamed of itself – today I will spruce you up a little, make you presentable once more – I promise.



‘Til next time, remember ~

“Use what you have, use what the world gives you. Use the first day of fall: bright flame before winter's deadness; harvest; orange, gold, amber; cool nights and the smell of fire. Our tree-lined streets are set ablaze, our kitchens filled with the smells of nostalgia: apples bubbling into sauce, roasting squash, cinnamon, nutmeg, cider, warmth itself. The leaves as they spark into wild colour just before they die are the world's oldest performance art, and everything we see is celebrating one last violently hued hurrah before the black and white silence of winter.”

Shauna Niequist

Monday, 18 August 2014

… It’s That Time Of Year …

Don’t ask me why … I don’t know … but I suddenly seem to have bursts of energy … maybe it’s the cooler weather … maybe it’s making the most of the last of the summer wine … but Cleaning Fever has taken over … these last few days have been a frenzy of feather dusters, bowls of soapy water, miracle cleaners and vacuums sweepers.


Curtains taken down and washed … Roman blinds washed by hand in the bath … a bit like using rocks  down by the stream.  Walls washed down to remove the smokiness caused by an open fire … paintwork scrubbed … dustwebs and spiders removed … pictures taken from the walls and cleaned.  Exhausting work this ‘spring cleaning’ in August … it takes tremendous effort for one who dislikes housework intensely.  But boy do I like the end result – still more to do though … mustn’t rest on my laurels just yet. 


Getting down and dirty is a ‘once in a blue moon’ thing for me … not that I am lazy or anything – well, I am a bit – it’s just that there are other things I prefer to do with my time … and I am sure no-one else will notice the difference except me.  I am definitely not in danger of becoming a Domestic Goddess that’s for sure.


‘Til next time … remember

“When you’re on your deathbed, you won’t regret not having spent more time cleaning. Buy brown carpet, to camouflage the coffee stains.”  ~ Jarod Kintz

Thursday, 14 August 2014

The Rhythm of the Year


For the time being summer has deserted us and the rains have come … hopefully not for too long  … but if the season has turned then I am hoping for an Indian Summer … when it is unseasonably warm … dry and hazy … an autumn heatwave … something to keep our spirits up during the headlong rush into winter.

There is harmony In Autumn, and a lustre in its sky, which through the summer is not heard or seen, As if it could not be, as if it had not been! ~Percy Bysshe Shelley

Slowly the year turns … the end of one season … the beginning of another.  The days are cooler … the nights are longer.  When does it change from being late summer to autumn.  The garden shows these changes … the flowers are slowly going to seed … no longer full and lush … everything looking slightly bedraggled … maybe sending  out one or two late flowers to show willing … but they seem to know their time is up.  Berries are forming and starting to ripen on the trees … food for grateful birds in the winter cold.  Apples are ripening … plums becoming full and juicy … blackberries in the hedgerows are  shining  like purple jewels waiting   to stain your fingers and tongues … the best of autumn fruits.  Hips and haws are turning red, elderberries  drip from the bushes and hazel and chestnuts harden and brown … so much bounty  amongst the leaves of gold and yellow.  But not yet … not quite.



Autumn begins with a subtle change in the light, with skies a deeper blue, and nights that become suddenly clear and chilled.  The season comes full with the first frost, the disappearance of migrating birds, and the harvesting of the season's last crops. ~Glenn Wolff and Jerry Dennis


In the garden Autumn is indeed the crowning glory of the year, bringing us the fruition of months of thought and care and toil.  And at no season, save perhaps daffodil time, do we get such superb colour effects as from August to November.  ~Rose G. Kingsley

japanese anemone

The hazy, cloudless skies of Indian Summer.
Leaves scurrying down the street before the wind.
The cold shiver from an arctic blast.
Indian Summer.
The last warmth of the sun.
Chilly mornings and glorious warm afternoons.
The touch of frost on grass and window pane.
The smell of burning leaves.
Keith C. Heidorn

patio rose - sweet dreams

For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together. For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad.  ~ Edwin Way Teale

Youth is like spring, an overpraised season
more remarkable for biting winds than general breezes.
Autumn is the mellower season,
and what we lose in flowers,
we more than gain in fruits.
Samuel Butler

Like Jen at Muddy Boot Dreams said in her last post Postcards from the Edge of Summer ‘ I’m lingering in summer for as long as I can.’ I wish I could agree, but she lives over the water where the summers are short and fierce, here in the UK we gently drift into autumn, hardly recognising its approach until it is upon us.  Let’s hope for a few more weeks of gentle warmth, working in the garden, harvesting crops, picking a few last flowers for the house before we start thinking ahead, buying bulbs for a spring display – no, I’m not ready to let summer go either.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

… Keeping It Simple …

When we innocently spoke of giving the spare room a makeover, little did we know the chaos that would ensue.  The room was stripped bare which meant the whole of the rest of the house was, well, to put it mildly – a mess.  But, as the saying goes – you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, so we soldiered on.

And now it is finished – well, except for a few tweaks – everything has been stowed away – anything surplus to our needs has been dumped – no junk has been allowed back in the room – we have been brutal –and I am determined to keep it that way (famous last words). I’ll show you a few ‘before’ and ‘after’  shots.

“The greatest step towards a life of simplicity is to learn to let go.”  - Steve Maraboli


Before – shelves piled high – prior to this picture being taken a lot of unread and unwanted books were taken to charity book shops – this is what was left.


After – a bit more organised


Before – old carpet disposed of – it had seen better days and was in the room when we moved in thirty years ago – a change was definitely needed, we could have just painted the floorboards but the room was terribly echoey and felt cold without a carpet.

“Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t like.” – Will Rogers


After – new carpet laid (colour Damson but more like French Blue).  I love the freshness of blue and white colour schemes.  The walls were painted in Moonlight which is white with a hint of blue.

“One can furnish a room very luxuriously by taking out furniture rather than putting it in.” – Francis Jourdain


Before – stuff brought out of hiding ready to be sorted through and moved out of the room

“Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough.” - Charles Dudley Warner


– a new work bench installed (computer out of action) the concrete patch you can see was where the old fireplace used to be – removed by the people who lived in the house before – shame really it would have made a nice feature

“When you have cleared all of your clutter, you can be of greater service to those around you.” – Michael B. Kitson


After – new computer desk all the accroutrements and wires hidden away – instead of a huge brown office desk that was hideous – a new, more comfortable, chair is on its way.

“Our life is frittered away by detail… Simplify, simplify.” - Henry David Thoreau

The old wardrobe has ended up in the ‘man’ shed filled with husbands things that  ‘might come in useful’ and replaced with

“The more you have, the more you are occupied. The less you have, the more free you are.”  – Mother Teresa


No junk or mess to be seen, storage boxes neatly packed and living under the bed  – I’m sure I will never be able to find anything now it is so neat.  Even with all the upheaval it was well worth doing – I now have plenty of space to work on projects - clear surfaces and  no clutter - just keeping it simple.  The way I like it.

“He who hoards much loses much”– Laotse


No need now for any embarrassment when visitors stay – a nice work place cum studio cum office cum bedroom cum bloggers retreat.  I have waited a loooooong  time for this moment.  Now – which room shall we start on next!

‘Til next time … remember

“Unnecessary possessions are unnecessary burdens. If you have them, you have to take care of them!” – Peace Pilgrim

Thursday, 7 August 2014

… A Sense Of Summer …

To get away from ‘makeover madness’ for a while we skived off for the day – bored with talking about paint colours, furniture deliveries and where to put what – a day out in the peace and tranquility of Rutland Water Bird Reserve sounded just the ticket.  Unfortunately there weren’t many birds to be found, or they were too far away to see – so we had to make do with walks through woodland and by the large stretches of water,  and watching the butterflies and bees enjoying the wild flowers.  After a couple of hours we retreated to The Finch a pub nearby serving delicious meals in lovely surroundings – Tiger Prawns in Chilli Sauce and Sea Trout with Asparagus – a fine end to a sneaky day off.

lush green growth of water meadows

red admiral butterfly on great meadow rue

insect hotel and a friendly snail

bird watchers friends

berries on a guelder rose

peacock butterfly on teasle

rutland water

a woodland walk


Trying to make the most of summer days  before autumn sets in and being outdoors in the warmth becomes a distant memory – I savour each precious moment.  Seeing the fruits get riper by the day, apples and damsons and soon blackberries to be gathered as autumn approaches and the daylight hours get shorter – has a year ever flown by as fast as this one?



a shady spot


honeysuckle blossom


sungold tomatoes



sweet bell peppers

heart-shaped tomato - Cuor di Bue

Trying to keep pace with the bountiful harvests and how to use up all the runner beans from just six plants – so prolific.  Stewing and freezing tomatoes to be made into sauces later in the year – cucumber and onion pickle to be made, lovely with cheese – courgettes frozen in chunks to be turned into soup when it gets colder – the freezer almost full to bursting point already.  So much to be done indoors laying down preserves, which generations of men and women have done before me – at this time of year it is the way of things. 

And when the cupboards are full of jams, jellies, pickles and chutneys I can relax a little and turn to other pursuits  which have been patiently waiting since last winter.  Paint brushes cleaned, ready and waiting in the hope of painting a masterpiece (I can but dream) -  knitting needles retrieved from the depths of my work bag, a new needle point cushion and coloured wools in readiness and lists of books to be purchased for those winter afternoons reading by the fire – maybe winter doesn’t sound so bad after all.

‘Til next time – savour every moment of summer whilst it lasts – it will be over before you know it.