Monday, 31 October 2011

Ghoulies & ghosties...& warm Autumn days!

Of course, we live in the PERFECT setting for Hallowe'en....

even though I've never felt remotely scared living with a graveyard as my front garden...I can see why some might be SPOOKED by it....

and there was a certain eerieness the other morning in the mist....
But, as you probably know, the UK doesn't really do Hallowe'en....there's the odd decorated house....

( I love the dead fruitbat hanging from the upstairs windowbox!) but they're few and far between (although I know it's getting more and more popular here) We have a really long way to go to make it the amazingly decorated ghoulfest that is the US celebration!
I have a little dedicated Hallowe'en front window...with the lovely cards I've been sent, and some other creepy bits (the glow-in-the-dark skeletons will go up in a while, and I'll light the candles after dark....)

I've had lots of little faces peeking in at this window over the weekend! they especially love the glittery ghost

(thanks Morwenna!! X) But even though I always have a bowl of candy ready for the young trick-or-treaters, we never get more than a couple visiting...perhaps because they find walking round a graveyard just too scary?! Paul always laughs at me, as I get so disappointed!! Still...if they come tonight - I'll be ready!

I just had to share this wonderful walk with you too - and bring some sunshine to this spooky post! Friday & Saturday were like a golden, mellow, sunny dream. Alice & I never wanted to leave the hills...
the gorse was vibrant yellow...

and the berries so red against the blue of the sky...

cobwebs lay like beaded gossamer on the bushes...

and the sun shone through the trees like summer...


I made you a little video too (no wind crackles in this one - there was barely a breath of wind)






I love my shadow at the end...looks a little eerie, doesn't it? Which is where we came in.....have a Happy Hallowe'en, everyone...

BOO! xx

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Birthdays & quieter days...

So, my birthday dawned clear and sunny....a beautiful, blue-skied day. Very different to the weather when I was actually born...apparently, I entered the world in the middle of a thunderstorm (perhaps that's why I've always loved them?)
Paul brought me hot tea, a bundle of cards....and a scruffy little dog to curl up beside me while I opened them! I finished work mid-morning and caught the train to London. After a few stops, my parents plus youngest sister Lucy & her son William joined me and we had a lovely journey - so much more exciting seen through the eyes of a curious 3 year old boy! He 'helped' me to open the cards & presents they gave me...including one he'd made, completely covered in blue glitter!

A taxi took us to lunch at one of my very favourite restaurants, Nopi , and we had a fabulous meal. I can't quite believe how much we ate...even Dad, who usually has the appetite of a small bird! It was wonderful to all be together - William was beautifully behaved and especially loved it when I took him downstairs to watch the chefs busy at work in the open-plan kitchen...all the stirring, chopping, dressing plates...his eyes were like saucers!
he got a little bit tired towards the end and hugged his special blue bear - but soon perked up when the desserts arrived, including mine which had a lit candle so he could sing 'Happy Birthday dear Ray-Ray' loudly!

my Mum & Dad sang too...!
Afterwards, they all went back to catch the train home...and I mooched about, window shopping, until it was time to meet Paul at the London Coliseum, home of English National Opera. My present from my parents was a ticket to see my beloved's creation 'The Marriage of Figaro'. I first saw it live at the Vienna State Opera house on my 21st birthday...over half my life ago! And I've seen it many times since, in lots of different settings with a variety of amazing singers....but one thing, of course, remains the same. The sublime music never changes, and never fails to transport me to a level of perfect, perfect happiness. We had one of the arias at our wedding (as it was a civil ceremony, nothing religious was allowed) and at that point in the opera last week, Paul took my hand and squeezed it so hard! He is a romantic at heart (thank goodness!) It was utter bliss, and I couldn't have wished for a better present - perhaps Wolfie had a hand in the schedule too, as there are only 10 performances of this production...and one of them happened to be on the right night! We caught an earlier train than expected (I had the music in my head all evening...) and I finished the day by opening the rest of the cards and gifts that had arrived in that morning's post, after I'd left for the train. I was overwhelmed by the kind messages and presents I received...so touching, it made me feel really special...and filled both front windowsills!

The rest of the week passed as normal. Paul went away for a few days on a 'boys trip' to Spain and France to watch the Rugby World Cup final (on a big screen at Bayonne Rugby Club!) and to eat & drink a lot! I had plenty to do...and it's quite lovely to have some selfish time alone now & then (I wouldn't like it too often, though!) My car broke down, so I was a little stranded (although I got round it with the help of Mum, who lent me hers for some urgent work I needed to do over the weekend at my kitchen unit) It meant that I couldn't take Alice on our usual walk to the hills - I had to find somewhere that was reachable on foot from home. This is quite hard in our town, if you want to avoid the roads...but I suddenly thought of the perfect place, so I clipped on her lead and we headed for...
the canal! This is the Grand Union Canal, and the towpath is a very quiet and peaceful place...

except for the ducks, moorhens and swans....Alice doesn't quite know what to make of them and gives them a wide berth!

The canal basin is home to many narrowboats - some visiting and some on fixed moorings. Lots of them are beautifully painted in the colourful old style...I love to see the smoke come through the little tin chimneys and wonder who lives behind the crocheted cotton lace at the windows (or are they portholes??)
The locks are wonderful too...it must have been a sight when they still used horses to tow the boats. I saw one, once...long ago. Time was a different thing then...people thought nothing of spending half a day to get somewhere, because they had no choice. It may be easier, but I'm not sure we are always better off with our rushing haste to get there now! Standing in this peaceful place, hearing the swish of the willow leaves...I was happy to slow down for a while - it seemed like the only thing to do!
We walked for a long way....and when we got home...

Alice needed a good rest (alongside her new toy bunny - a lovely present sent by her schnauzer friends, Fanny & Betti!)
I just had a cup of tea!

I hope that you're having a wonderful week...do you have plans for Hallowe'en?

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

October walks and water...

I thought that you might like to see how the world looked on our walk this morning...the changing landscape, colours, sounds and temperatures are what get Alice and I out there every day (actually, she'd be out there whatever...but those things certainly help me!)

It's been cold and windy but clear and bright these past few days...perfect October weather. I feel energised by the cooler air, and Alice loves to run into the wind with her ears flapping and good smells in her nose...
The weather has changed so much from earlier in the month, when it was weirdly hot. Paul and a good friend of ours, Brian, have recently bought a (very) small yacht...
Paul was brought up by the sea, in Devon....and has been sailing since he was very young. He passed his navigation exams years ago, used to have a share in another boat and loves to be on the ocean...so when this sweet craft came up for sale, they couldn't resist!
A couple of weekends ago on a Sunday when temperatures were over 80f, we all went down to move the boat from it's old home in a marina to it's new mooring in a little harbour in West Sussex. Well, the boys actually moved her...Alice and Brian's wife and I watched for a bit...talked a lot...walked around the town...waited and waited...ate ice cream...and sat looking at the gorgeous views...

this part of the harbour is known as the Millpond - it lived up to it's name that day!
Oh...and one of us went swimming...

 
well it was very hot - especially if you are wearing a fur coat...!
Thanks so much for all the lovely, touching and supportive comments on my last post...it's good to know that you get it. I somehow knew you would! xo

Tomorrow is my birthday...and I have a delightful day planned - I'll share it with you soon.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

My October garden...& a cosy afternoon

I haven't posted in a while...first, as you know, I had the wonderful visit of my sister & her children to enjoy. And then, a week ago, they left again. I always need a little time to recover afterwards...this will sound dramatic, but it's a little mourning period for me. If you don't have people you love so much, living so far away...it's a little hard to explain. All I can say is that there's an emptiness, an ache...and when you are apart, however good and full life is, in the back of your mind and in your heart there's always something missing. It gets to the stage where it's almost easier not to see them, because I start to miss them before they've even arrived....and it gets harder every time. But there's nothing to be done - it's a fact of our lives - and I count myself so lucky to have the closeness and love that transcends the miles. C'est la vie!

And now it's October - can you believe it? My most favourite of months, and already a week old...
It's a difficult time in the garden, I find. Messy and fading....too early to really clear up, too late for most of the beauty....but there are  still pockets of gorgeous colour here and there...



and there's something so beautiful about the plants setting seed ....getting ready for their hibernation but making plans for Spring too!


The last of the mini-harvest is gathered...

the odd strawberry still ripening (I'm leaving them for the birds, though...although on some sunny days I can't resist pinching one!)
and I am so proud of my tomatoes this year...all grown totally outdoors! I made this bowlful into a fragrant soup yesterday...
There's no denying though that winter is on the way....the greens are fading into browns and the leaves are dying off, ready for the big sleep...







Some afternoons are warm enough, still, to sit outside and enjoy the last golden moments. But not today. I have some work to do...and Paul has to go to the office. But later, I will be sitting here...

in my very favourite chair....and trying to catch up on the huge pile of magazines that have accumulated over the summer (I buy a new one and it goes on the stack!)
with some beloved Mozart in the background...as always....and this little companion somewhere near...
tired after her long run with her 'dad' this morning. The perfect, cosy, Sunday afternoon...in my world, anyway!
It's good to be back - I've missed you! Have a great week xoxo