Wednesday, 12 December 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like...

We had a proper hoar frost this morning...so beautiful! The rime was thick on the trees and leaves, frosting everything like Christmas cake...
 even the spider webs on the church gates were starched with ice...which made their intricate patterns stand out...what architects spiders are! Last week's snow has gone, though...
I'm not sure if you can spot her here, but snow is Alice's absolute favourite weather! I'm not sure whether the cold whisks up extra-special smells, but she snuffles & snuffs about before racing in circles with her ears pinned back. We took this walk with our oldest nephew, Kip...that's him on the distance. Our Australian boy adores England...and snow above all!
He had to leave his mark everywhere! With temperatures never dipping much below 20c where they live, sub-zero is a huge novelty...
What a joy to have them all with us for the festivities! Not long to go, now...and the town is looking gorgeous. I thought you might like to see some of the door wreaths in our neighbourhood...
I took these pictures this morning...tiptoeing around the houses in the cold!

I love the glossy primary colours...

I'm proud to say that I know all the people behind these doors...


These neighbours really make a huge effort at Christmas...this  year their decorations are themed for the Jubilee year. Gorgeous!
And I love the simplicity of this one...so berry-like against the green...

 
We haven't started decorating yet...that will start in earnest this weekend! I promise to show you more then...I so love the run-up to Christmas, and this one is extra special. It's been such a difficult year, in so many ways, for just about everyone we know. We look forward to relaxing, enjoying, eating, drinking...celebrating properly and saying goodbye to 2012 in style!
I hope your preparations are going well...happy December and have a wonderful week xo
 

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

A Blaze of Glory...

We have been so lucky recently...November is, so far, unseasonally warm and even sunny at times. Such a contrast to the terrible storm conditions that have battered large parts of the Eastern USA and continue to cause problems for so many....so it feels extra special to be walking in the flaming woods today...

the leaves crunch beautifully and look so gorgeous in the slanting sunlight...

the beech trees line the wide path....like a living gateway

beech is so common around here...but I still never tire of looking at the colours and patterns of the leaves....

bright lime green...yellow and all shades of brown and orange...

and this lichen too...so commonplace that I almost pass it by...

until that vibrant colour stops me!

We make our way to the top of the sunlit hill....

stop for a while to take in the view, which is always the same and yet so different every day...
and then on the way back, we discover toadstools everywhere...

under trees...

tiny ones poking out through the grass...

attached to fallen, rotting branches...

and sometimes a splash of brilliance, quite as lovely as the leaves...


Not so many scarlet, spotted fly agarics this year...so it's wonderful to see one...they always look as though they are missing a gnome, perching on top with a fishing pole!

December & Christmas are around the corner...but for the moment, I'm savouring every moment of this golden time and all the beauty it holds...

Hoping that November is being kind to you too...and sending much love! xoxo

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Autumn Joy....

Into October...and the weather today is beautiful...blue skies, shafts of sunlight filtering through the yellow and gold of the changing leaves....I love the garden at this time of year, so much...

the glossy darkness of the ivy...filled with blooms that delight the last sleepy bees...
the vivid crimson of the blueberry leaves (falling fast now!)

the shabby chic of the tatty hydrangeas (there is a gossamer-thin spiderweb attached to 'David's' cheek too...difficult to see, but it's there!)

Skeleton petals...but although the plants are shutting down, there's still plenty of colour around too...

my very last 'Gertrude Jekyll' rose (I keep popping out to drink in the fragrance, trying to imprint it in my sensory bank for the cold months ahead!)

Echinacea...another bee favourite!

Lots of end-of-season blooms...

and the nasturtiums don't give up until the first frost, thank goodness...I love them so! I also have a special new addition to the garden...my darling is not only a great lawyer...he is also brilliant at carpentry! He designed and built this gorgeous shelter for me to store all the 'garden bits' in, safely away from the wet & cold to come. It's not quite finished yet...but the final stage is just cosmetic, really...so...

TA-DAAA! Isn't it BE-YOO-YI-FUL?!

Every join has been carefully measured and finished with pride...

he included shelves for my trugs, seeds, bulbs...

 
and a longer section for tools and brooms. It's a labour of love! I'm so enjoying deciding where everything will fit...
Lots happening at the moment - many plans and dreams being discussed, and some difficult things to cope with. You can't always choose what happens to you in life - but you CAN choose what to do with those challenges and difficulties. I choose happiness. I choose joy. I choose love.
There's a great film quote: 'Life is what you make it...chicken s*** or chicken salad' So true!
Beneath this dark, quiet soil lie new spring bulbs - crocuses and muscari...
The future will be beautiful!
Enjoy your week xo

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Tiny Miracles...

Such a happy story today!

My darling god-daughter & her husband decided last Christmas to have one last baby to complete their family.

Nature had other ideas....and last week, she gave birth to....

Grace, Isabella & Maddie! Non-identical, but all equally gorgeous. They are all at home, small but well and settling into a very disciplined routine. It's very rare to have completely natural triplets...which makes these three extra special. Welcome to the world, girls!

Hoping you are having a special week as well.....I'll leave you with some more baby magic...


xoxo

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Things that made me happy today...

Yesterday, I received a wonderful surprise...these gorgeous flowers from one of my best girlfriends....just because she was thinking of me and is such a lovely person...
their warmth & beauty made me feel so happy when I came down to see them bathed in September morning sunlight today, that I decided to look around for more reasons to be cheerful! There were so many when I began to look....

Rose Bay Willowherb (fantastic name).....

spider webs hanging like tiny, diamond safety nets in the dewy grass...

Do you think that this is how a flower smiles?!

Someone who always makes me happy...enjoying the warmth...

hawthorn berries....

and blackberries starting to ripen - true signs of the changing season...

and this chapel of trees on the way home....that's the only way to describe it, I think...
I love Autumn so much, and the signs that its on the way were everywhere.
I got into the car feeling so much better....turned on the radio....and heard this just beginning..

How can I ever be sad when there is such beauty all around?
Happy September - wishing you a wonderful week xo

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Vintage Beauty....

Ever since I was 8 years old, I've collected vintage costume & accessories. My very first purchase was a paper parasol, intricatel handpainted and with a bakelite marbled green handle. Such things were very easy to find, and very inexpensive back then. I would find them in junk shops, at jumble sales...friends of my parents would sometimes give me things, too, once they knew I was interested...and many were birthday presents from my Mum & Dad. I used to have several antique tailor's dummies, to display outfits...this is the only one I have left now (from the 1940's) This particular outfit is one of my favourites...a silk satin coat in eau de nil with fringed scarf...and underneath is a nightdress which matches exactly...

this is a photo of the back shoulder, showing the gorgeous cream lace...

and look at those delicate hand-stitched pintucks in the bodice....
It might seem a strange collection for a young child to have...but I've always been obsessed with history - especially social history, those little snippets of the everyday that show us how those who came before us lived, worked and died. I adore imagining who wore these clothes...
these are details from some peach silk lounging pyjamas from the 1920's...

they have incredibly wide legs and a wraparound top...imagine living the kind of leisurely life where they were de rigeur! The 1920's & '30's were wonderful for women's clothing...so chic and flattering!

This velvet cutwork sleeveless evening jacket is divine...and the details are perfect...see the carved jet buttons at the waist?


Perfect little polished trees - gorgeous as jewellery in their own right. There is very little (outside couture) to match these now...
I have costume from many decades...including a wedding dress from the 1860's (which is packed away very carefully, as you can imagine!) Some of my favourites are from the early 20th century...Edwardian and pre-WW1...very Downton Abbey!
This wedding dress for instance...

cream silk satin  over a long, straight skirt of gossamer light silk netting..tiny seed pearls embroidered onto the bodice...

gorgeously rolled waistband...

and the embroidery on the front bodice and at the back too...faded slightly now, but the pinks, greens and tiny golden glass bugle beads give you a good idea of the absolute beauty of this gown...

A little earlier is this lilac day-blouse....just an everyday item, to be worn with a separate skirt...

although as you can see, there's very little that's 'everyday' to our modern eyes...

isn't it fabulous? Look at the double sleeves....that yoke with the pale gold and lilac embroidery...

But there's another side to this period...beautiful & special as these clothes are...and that's the torture that women must have endured to wear some of them!

The brass hooks and buckles that hoisted the poor corseted girl into ramrod-stiff place and kept her there...and the wire that kept the lace collar at the neck upright...

how it must have dug into that delicate skin, rubbing & scratching!
I'd love to go back for a day to many different times, to experience a little of life as it was...but ONLY for a day! I'm under no illusion that times past - especially for women - was mainly difficult, often painful & frequently dangerous....but it's wonderful to be able to look at my collection-to stroke the soft, natural materials and dream of a world very different to ours!
Have a gorgeous week everyone! xoxo