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 caf├ęs 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

Sunday, 1 September 2013

A return to the farm with some gorgeous beginnings & beautiful endings...

It's been a while since this blog has visited the farm...I took these pictures a couple of months ago and thought you'd like to see them...


The back courtyard was looking especially gorgeous...my Mum was so proud! When we first moved here over 30 years ago, this little yard was a real tip...and there was a ramshackle dairy building in one corner that was falling down...


So much more beautiful now! My dad adores hostas and this is one of the two huge beds they have planted out. I took the picture through glass, so apologies for the reflection!


The hedgehogs & badgers keep the snail and slug population in check here...which is why there are no holes in those leaves...


It's quite rare to see the front lawn not covered in William's golf balls, as this is his prime practise space! Every child loves this expanse of green...we used to play croquet and rounders here as kids...the pond is at the far end, through a little white gate and over a footbridge...


The glade, bordered with stunning trees, is the morning and evening walk for the dogs who live or visit here...


and the huge old oak tree at the top is a perfect roosting place for the owls...


It marks the gate that leads to Dad's pride & joy...the wild flower field that he dreamed of having many years ago...and finally managed to attain! This year it held hundreds & hundreds of wild orchids...


and so many species of flowers and grasses...the butterflies, bees and insects adore it. Here's a Meadow Brown basking in the early summer sun...





and taking a drink of nectar from a red clover flower...


Just a small sample of orchids...


It's hard to leave that field when it looks that way! It has now all died down, of course, and will self-seed ready for next year...who knows what will come up then?!


The big old dew pond is such a tranquil place to sit and dream...watching the wild ducks, the nervous little moorhens...


and the splashes of colour from the yellow 'flag' irises and foxgloves...before walking back down to the beloved old house with its tangle of fragrant cottage roses...


I used to pick bunches of these and wrap them in damp kitchen towel to take as presents for a favourite school teacher! I love the memories that wind themselves around the farm. I can still see my younger sisters whooping and turning cartwheels on the lawn...and now their own children do the very same thing! Such a special place.

Back at our own home, we make more memories...and it's been a glorious summer for them! I can't believe that September is here...but it's still fine and warm, we are still enjoying the garden and having to water the plants almost every day! This peacock butterfly shared his buddleia bloom with a bumble bee last week...


I will miss sights like that in the winter to come, but it has been a fabulous summer! We woke to this breathtaking dawn a couple of weeks ago...





and it heralded a perfect day. And then at the end of last week, I was cooking supper when I realised that the light outside was quite strange...


this was what we saw! Almost like the northern lights, or a comet!


And off to the West, the clouds were on fire!
So much beauty all around, whatever the season or time of day...

I hope you've had a glorious summer (or winter!) too...there is lots to look forward to in the coming months.
Oh...and we had a birthday at the farm this week...I'll leave you with this lovely photo of Will helping Granny to blow out her candles!



Have a great week xx

Posted using BlogPress by Rachel Lucas 2013