Thursday, 26 January 2012

A quick hello from my sickbed!

I hardly ever get ill...but I'm not too good at the moment and I resent it SO much! I've still been walking Alice (I'm not that bad...& she gets very energetic when she doesn't have a walk!)...but I've found that every step feels as though my legs are made from lead! I've done a little bit of work too, but thankfully this is a relatively 'light' week on the baking front...so I've been able to rest quite a lot, which is really all that I need - together with some paracetamol and plenty of fluids. I'll be back to normal tomorrow...but I made this little video for you yesterday evening...
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As you can see, I'm being well looked after by my furry nurse...and Paul is being lovely too, bringing me tea & hot toast at regular intervals!

I'll be back very soon...sending much love, but no kisses this time - I don't want to transfer those germs!! xo

Monday, 23 January 2012

Traces of Spring...

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As you'll hear, I took this little video over a week ago...and the weather hasn't changed much since then. It's not warm, of course...but neither is it anything like recent Januarys have been. Last year, we'd already had a LOT of snow before Christmas, and while that was gone and didn't return....it wasn't as mild as has been so far in 2012.
I'm used to having the wonderful, heavy fragrance of these white hyacinths greet me when I come downstairs in the morning, of course...but it's still a shock to find the carpet of snowdrops under the laburnum in the churchyard this early...and these have been in full bloom since late December!

I found these wild primroses on a grassy bank on my walk with Alice today...

and this beautiful sunny face...never usually before February! But here it is...

We met some friends for a gorgeous frosty walk on Sunday...


I don't know if you can just make out the hot air balloon, hanging up there in the blue over the trees? I couldn't go up in one myself, but the view must have been truly glorious!
As we crossed from one field to another, we had to pass the little village church...the bellringers were just getting ready for the 'proper' peal...but I managed to catch a little of the warm-up session for you...

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On mornings like this one, I wouldn't want to live anywhere else but here!
The Farmer's Market is tomorrow...I'm hoping that the weather will hold and there'll be plenty of customers. The forecast says it will be wet and windy - so cross your fingers for me?!

Have a wonderful week xoxo

Friday, 13 January 2012

War Horse....& the Meaning of Life

When I know that a movie is going to affect me deeply, I have a special way of dealing with it. Unless I can watch it with Esther (which isn't often) I sneak off quite alone, without telling anyone where I'm going. I buy a ticket for the very first screening, and sit in my favourite seat (aisle, front row).  I buy a coffee and nothing else. I take off my shoes and curl my legs up underneath me. And I watch it from the very beginning until the last credit has rolled from the screen. Then I hug it to me for as long as I can, until real life breaks the spell.
So it was this morning, when I went to the first showing of Steven Spielberg's War Horse. I don't usually write movie reviews...Esther does it so much better than me on her fabulous blog Half Sweet, Half Salty...and this won't be a review either. I've read some very disappointed critics on the subject of this film...and I'm sure that I will continue to do so. Personally, I never let a critic decide what I watch - I always like to make my own mind up because, in the end - to me - my opinion is the only one that counts after all!
So I can only tell you what it meant to me. And I knew from the moment I saw the trailer for this film that it was going to be one of 'those' movies. If you know me, or follow this blog, you'll know that history is one of my 'things'...and WW1 in particular. I'm currently researching and writing a novel set during that conflict so I know a lot about it...but it's a period that has affected me for as long as I can remember. I saw the stageplay, War Horse and loved it so much. When I heard that it was being made into a film, I was worried at first until I read that Spielberg would be directing. Because I knew that he would get it.And he does.
On the surface, it's a fairly simple tale of a boy & his horse. But it's so much more than that. It's about kindness and patience, courage and loyalty. And love. The triumph of love.
There's a scene, quite late on, where Joey (the horse) is quite alone in a torn and shattered landscape...except that there's a tank slowly and relentlessly lumbering towards him. Looking through the animal's eyes (as we are invited to do) I saw the almost laughable absurdity of humans. This huge hunk of metal, that was invented solely to kill & maim looked absolutely ridiculous. And yet so terrifying.
Anyone who has loved an animal cannot fail to be moved by this film, I don't think. What is it about horses? I'm fairly nervous around them in real life. But there's a primeval connection between them and us that makes them (along with dogs, perhaps) the most poignant of subjects. And this film is no exception...their strength and courage is perfectly contrasted with their utter vulnerability. The fate of Joey is solely in the hands of those who take ownership of him throughout the film. And he must just do the best he can.
Put all that together with the gorgeous lushness of the English countryside, the waste and tragedy of so many young men's lives, a sweeping and evocative score by the ever-brilliant John Williams and some fabulous performances (Jeremy Irvine & Emily Watson are stand-outs but all are wonderful) and you have, what is for me, a near perfect movie.
Some say that I look too deeply into things. It's a fairytale, after all...(adapted from a children's book by the amazing Michael Morpurgo) Perhaps that's true. All I can tell you is that I cried buckets and I still feel 'hungover' four hours after the credits rolled. And, like every wonderful movie that I've ever seen, a part of War Horse will stay with me forever.

Have a great weekend! xo

Saturday, 7 January 2012

The view from my window in January...

Happy New Year! I know that 2012 is almost a week old already....but it took me a while to decide on a new blogging project for the year to come. Last year, of course, was my garden. And while I'll still be showing you plenty there, I thought that it would be interesting to share another aspect of home life and how it changes through the months and seasons. Finally I settled on the view from our window...because it's a view that I love, looking right out into the churchyard...and I know that you'll love it too!

I'll try and take the pictures at the same time of day every month, too...to provide the best contrast. And so you will see what I see at 8am,....

looking East...which at this time of year means sunrise...

still plenty of green, but bare and skeletal trees. The limes that form the 'avenue' along the church wall were heavily pollarded at the end of November & so resemble gnarly totem poles right now...but I know that before long the new growth will be softening their stark outline and the birds will be nesting in the boxes that are on the side of this particular tree...
Ok - so that's January! And from the first picture you can see that this morning is bright, clear & sunny...and so mild too. Paul has just inspected & treated the bees for varroa mite with the help of a friend from the local beekeepers association. I'm pleased to report that they are happy & healthy and working hard in their cosy hive...it's quite a responsibilty to have all these thousands of living creatures to see safely through the year, and I'm so glad that all is well.
There's no doubt that, despite the brightness of today, this first month of the year can be a difficult one to get through in many ways. It's so long, for a start. And with all the excitement, colour & glitz of Christmas over, the New Year's resolutions made (& broken...) and the working days back to normal...Spring and all it brings can seem a very long way off. I'm taking advantage of the good weather and taking long walks every morning with Alice to get our dose of Vitamin D, and to lift the spirits and start to shift the couple of pounds I can feel have crept on over the festivities!
Early last week, I was so thrilled to get to the brow of the hill to find a gorgeous rainbow decorating the view...

and it looks as though it ended right over our town! Well, that's what I like to think anyway....in January, you just have to think positively!

I hope that the New Year brings you everything you wish for...I am so looking forward to sharing it all with you! xo