Thursday, 23 January 2014

Little shoots of hope....




2014...the year has started mostly beautifully. We had a lovely Christmas, full of the memories we hoped to make. It was quiet but there was much laughter, many presents and way too much food!



If Christmas was about family, then New Year was friends...we hosted a fabulous (if raucous!) evening that got everything off to a wonderful start...


And since then, we have interspersed heavy & prolonged rain with periods of beautiful, mild sunshine...barely any of the frosty mornings we expect in January, let alone snow! These pictures are especially for my friends across the Atlantic..I know that so many of you are shivering under blankets of snow and ice right now. I hope these restore your faith that Spring will arrive, the grass will be green and the birds will sing in trees full of buds....one day soon...


In the churchyard, the signs are everywhere...





I planted those bulbs last September. Many of the residents here do their bit to keep the churchyard beautiful...we plant bulbs, pull weeds...not enough to make it too tidy, but enough to stop it getting choked and overgrown...


Snowdrops are everywhere in little groups...


I love the bright, shiny aconites that shelter under the huge old beech...


More snowdrops are under the laburnum. In our garden, too, there's plenty going on..I even have a couple of purple anemones flowering!


The hellebores nestle...you have to search a bit for their beautiful flowers, but they're there...


And bulbs are sprouting everywhere....





The honeysuckle that climbs the pergola is sending out new leaves and shoots...





And I have left the beetroot alone...it's safe under that rich earth and we can pull it when we need it to make soup or to roast with goats cheese and garlic...


Although the garden is mainly green & brown right now, there are splashes of colour from the winter jasmine that grows up and over the wall..


I bring colour inside. This beautiful primula was a New Year present from a dear friend...


& these little tete a tetes are a reminder of their larger cousins that will soon bow and flutter just outside those windows...


Of course, it IS still January. There is plenty of time for surprises. It may freeze & snow in February or March...but for now the sun is warm and mellow as it lights up our living room...



And I will know what is under that snow, if it comes...and that it can't be too long before it bursts out again!

We are all sad today....my Mum & Dad's little rescued Cavalier, JoJo, died very suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of only 7 overnight. She had been fine on Tuesday night but yesterday morning she was gravely ill with some sort of terrible infection and despite the best vet care, Mum received the saddest call when she woke up today.

She had the sweetest character...not a bad bone in her body. Her long, feathery tale would wag for anyone and she would look up at us adoringly with her huge eyes, especially if we were holding something tasty! She enjoyed a wonderful life on the farm and we're so thankful that her final illness, though shocking, was mercifully quick.

Goodbye, little girl...






....you will be sadly missed xx


Saturday, 21 December 2013

Merry, merry....

Firstly I want to thank everyone for the beautiful & supportive comments and emails I received following my last post...I'm so pleased that Rebecca's words touched others as they did me...and it means so much to know that my Dad is in the thoughts of others.

So, it's Christmas Eve...probably my favourite day of the year. There's something about that time, after the shops have finally closed, when I seem to feel a peace like no other...the preparations are over, I have nothing left to do except relax and enjoy the time with beloveds. Bliss!





A couple of weekends ago, I was thoroughly spoilt with a surprise romantic trip to Paris...3 days and nights of shopping, walking, drinking and (mainly) eating! J'adore Paris!! I defy anyone not to, really...





The bread alone is worth the journey....





and as for the patisserie....ooh la la!















Quirky vintage shops...



Isn't this van just so.....FRENCH??!





Breakfast coffee comes in a bowl....




Surreal art installations abound around the city...(love the lips!)







Gorgeous cafés and restaurants on every corner...




Christmas trees on Ile St Louis...





And through it all, as it always has, runs the beautiful Seine...











As you can see, we were exceptionally lucky with the weather...clear, cold and sunny. Perfection! Batteries recharged, we came back to see how the decorations were going in the neighbourhood...












Yes, Christmas is well and truly here. As the sun goes down tonight, I shall light the candles that fill our rooms with cinnamon and cloves and send a special thought out to all of you...for a wonderful, peaceful celebration of the season and a fabulous 2014 to come filled with everything good....





Merry, merry Christmas xx

Thursday, 28 November 2013

A different Thanksgiving...




One of the joys of living "in" a churchyard, is that history is all around us....
For instance, this is the family that once lived in our house...






& as well as thinking what an appalling summer the Brooks family had in 1824...2 children gone within a month....it also brings home the transience of our existence. I sometimes think that we humans in the so-called First World are so concerned with accumulating and owning 'stuff'....houses, cars, jewellery.....that we forget that we are really only ever guardians of these things.

Our family is having to come to terms with such realities at the moment. My darling Dad has terminal cancer. We are all trying to find the best way to cope and still find a way to carry on with life day to day, as we all must. I found this wonderful piece of writing in Volume 8 of one of my favourite magazines, Kinfolk and it affected me so much that I wrote to the author, Rebecca Parker Payne to ask her permission to reproduce part of it here. She graciously agreed and I hope that it will touch you as it touched me. Life really is a series of highs and lows...this piece continues to bring me infinite comfort and remind me that there is beauty in all things.

" Furthermore, Japanese understand this concept within another framework called mono non aware. Literally translated as "the pathos of things", mono non aware is the understanding that the most beautiful moments of life come right before the moment ends. In a full acceptance of the transient and temporal state of life, the Japanese don't hold much appreciation for an eternally blossoming flower. Instead, the greater beauty comes within the constraints of our yearly life and death rhythms. Mono non aware calls us to sit below the cherry blossoms as the tree sheds it's blooms. It tells us not to lament the passing of summer, but to rejoice in it's final hours.
We are creatures capable of awe and reverence. And we can position ourselves and our hearts to feel heavy and wonderful things. But to choose to see the beauty in the passing is no easy task. We must first cast off our illusions of control, and then we must take a step back and prepare ourselves for the full spectrum of pathos - love, beauty, loss. Perhaps then we will see all the gold that doesn't stay as beautiful instead of defeatist.
Mono non aware tells us to love now. Act now. Be here now. Invite our friends over, and stay up late. Because this time, this opportunity, this season will soon pass. Bask here while it is still possible.
Our days are ebbs and flows. Our lives are a collection of seasons where tides approach and recede, and trees flower and wither. The green fullness of summer is made more precious by the skeleton branches of winter. So don't fight time and don't fight the season. Don't keep things from ending, but celebrate them for the life they have now.
Our lives are rife with endings- the close of an evening or the triumphant finality of summer's last stand. If we reorient our hearts to accept and appreciate these endings, we begin to see our lives outside our limited terms- not only for our wanton control and desires, but also for mankind as a whole. Time is not ours. We can't slow the Earth's rotation, and we can't expect a wedding celebration to last forever.

I want to respect that which is larger than me - the sun that rises in the East and sets in the West, the gravity that keeps my feet perpetually on the ground below and the rhythm of time that says to all creation: this too shall pass. "

Life is wonderful and constantly amazing.Friends and family are priceless. For all of this, for all of you....I am so thankful.

Have a great day. Make memories! X

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Winding down...slowly

October already! I can hardly believe it, but the weather has been soft & warm throughout this early part of Autumn so it's hardly surprising I suppose....



Alice is still able to enjoy the warm sunshine most afternoons! But the signs are all there...


I love the way that hydrangeas fade...so beautiful. And on our morning walks, the hedgerows and trees are full of Autumn fruits and berries...


Elderberries...


Blackberries, of course...so prolific and sweet this year...


and these are wild juniper berries, native to the chalky hills we walk on...so I can smell gin when I brush past! All gorgeous natural wonders in their small way.
We took a wonderful weekend trip to Ludlow in Shropshire recently...a town so full of beauty and history it's almost too much!
These are now almshouses, but were formerly part of an ancient college...



Traces of the past were preserved everywhere...some almost hidden..


and some impossible to miss...


We found the perfect type of antique shop...lots of corners and tiny rooms to poke about and find treasures in (& we did!)


And lots of walking in the September sunshine, soaking up the beauty...





Ludlow has a castle too..originally built to protect this part of England from the nearby marauders of Wales ( ultimately, it failed!)


I found a stunning house, that was being restored and so was covered in ugly scaffolding....but here is the plaque on the gate...


as the fourth series of Downton Abbey has just started here, I thought it was appropriate that the Knights of Downton had lived here once!

Isn't this a fabulous idea?


I'm trying to work out where we can put one, now!

The trip was a surprise one for me...my beloved knows I have always wanted to go there. Another way in which I am so lucky. I am counting my blessings at the moment, and I am finding so many....here are a few more...











I have nurtured this poinsettia since last Christmas, and it is paying off...


the harvest moon was amazing...


I have a new addiction to the sourdough crumpets that are made by Peter at his wonderful independent bakery, Price's,in Ludlow....


luckily, it is too far away to be able to eat them very often!
And lastly, of course...


one of the greatest blessings of all! How could I leave her out?

I hope that you are finding plenty of wonderful things too, this October...

Xx

Posted using BlogPress by Rachel Lucas 2013