Thursday, 2 July 2015

Evening Swim

Hot day at work. 36°C on the car thermometer. Rush hour traffic. Fish and chips. Cricket. Warm air. No breeze. Paddling. Floating. Swimming. Sun setting. Perfection. 


We made it to the beach and it was beautiful. We could've stayed longer but it was a school night and we were sad to leave. We've resolved to go down as often as we can. Thank you, temperamental British weather, for cooperating and making me very happy.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015


If I was a more organised blogger, there'd be a photo of a paddling pool up there too, but we can't find the foot pump anywhere, so it remains uninflated and sad looking on the lawn. But never mind, because: the weather! It's been - briefly - warm, even what I'd call proper summer.

Before going to work, I've been soaking up every moment I have in the garden. I spend a while picking some roses to bring indoors, I peg out the washing much slower than necessary, relishing the warmth of the sun on my back, and I eat breakfast outside and make iced coffee. I know it's really warm when I start wanted iced coffee and tea, when I want my caffeinated beverages to cool me down rather than warm me up.

There is a part of me that wakes up when it's this warm. I am much more relaxed and just generally a happier, less uptight, more spontaneous person. Last night after school we ate dinner in the garden. John, who'd left work early so he could attend the school Sports Day, sat outside with a beer and a book. I abandoned both the ironing and my diet and joined him. Later, I opened the bedroom door to the balcony and let the air waft in, watching the voile curtains gently inhale and exhale in the tiny breeze. 

There was a bit of thunder last night, and the forecast looks less settled now, but this morning, when I hung out the washing at about 7 am, the air was so beautifully warm. It felt amazing on my skin. I am hoping against all hope that we can go down to the beach tonight after school and get fish and chips, and even swim. If it rains I will take it personally, and blame those who moan about the heat on the one and only actually really hot day we've had so far this summer. Although, to be fair, there is a good breeze today. Being by the sea helps. I suspect those inland - especially in the London area - will be feeling hot today. Drink lots of water, and go indoors to watch the tennis. There, my tip for how to survive a mini, very British heatwave. You're welcome.


Speaking of tennis, are you a fan? Or are you, like me, someone who ignores it until Wimbledon rolls round and then watches it avidly? If it's your thing, then Carpetright are having a fun look at how different types of flooring could affect your indoor tennis performance (should it get too hot to play outside) to promote their new range of carpet, vinyl and laminate floorings. They're also hosting a fantastic competition to win a behind the scenes tour of Wimbledon. Follow this link to enter, and remember to share on social media, using the #AceYourHome hashtag.

Monday, 29 June 2015

This Is Why We Have Weekends

We spent this last weekend camping in Derbyshire with our friends from Leeds and it was completely glorious. I am still floating.

We drove up after school and work on Friday night, arriving at about 9.30pm with just - just! - enough daylight left to put the tent up. It was a mad rush and a nightmare journey which included us having to turn back due to a road closure and pull over on the hard shoulder because something was flapping out of the top box on the car roof. But Saturday morning dawned bright and warm, just as you'd want it too, and we ate breakfast outside. With our friends, all 28 of us embarked on a walk in the countryside surrounding the campsite. After a few hours some of us peeled off and went back for lunch, others stayed and walked longer. I spent the afternoon lazing around in a meadow with magazines and drinks, chatting about this and that. It was too hot to work on the crochet I'd brought with me. As the sun dropped, fires were lit and more bottles opened. Someone had the good sense to bring Pimms. The children who'd been largely absent and feral for most of the day, coming back only for food, returned filthy and suntanned, ready to toast marshmallows. 

There was a perfect moment when the sun was setting, when the atmosphere was convival and easy and warm, which I wanted to go on for ever.  One of those rare and magical moments where time is suspended. Happy children, happy adults. Food, drink, warmth, laughter, friendship. This is why we have weekends. And fire pits.

Of course it rained on Sunday morning and so we had to pack up a damp tent, and the journey home was long, and the washing mountain is huge, and we are all very tired. And all the jobs I would've done over the weekend didn't get done, so I'm playing catch up there as well. But was it worth it, just to sit in that meadow with our friends for a few hours? Absolutely.


Doesn't my crocheted blanket look at home in that tent? I was glad of it's warmth this weekend for, while days were largely sunny, the nights were still cool. It's too nice to be folded on the back of a chair, it needs to go on my bed and so, as some of you suggested, I'm going to buy some more yarn and crochet some more rounds on the border. But not any time soon, because it looks like warm weather is coming. YAY!  (Shh, don't say it out loud, it'll get scared and run away and normal British Summer will resume.) It's time to get out the paddling pool.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

The Colour Collaborative: June: Found

The children and I always look for and bring home souvenirs from the beach. 

Luckily, it's a fertile hunting ground.

It's not unusual for me to have to shake out my bag when we get home to dislodge the sand, pebbles and shells which they've picked up on our visits. My handbag is permanently gritty.

Like hunting for sea glass, the pleasure is always in the finding, in the process. Bella and Angus like to search for treasure as much as I do and delight in finding the most colourful stone or unusual shell, which they'll hold up to their ears to so that they can hear the sea. 

I've only ever found one piece of sea glass on this beach, but what we do have here is shells. At a first glance, everything looks the same. Brown, grey, white. It's a shingle beach and is only sandy at low tide.

But then when you sit down and start to look closely, all sorts of colours and shapes emerge.

I like the ones which have been so bashed and softened by the surf that they almost look like clay objects, their edges smooth and their markings faded.

And I like the way that, on the outside, all you see are quiet and demure tones of brown and cream and white, but turn them over and they glow as though they were lit from within.


Don't forget to visit the other Colour Collaborative blogs for more of this month's posts, just click on the links below:

Annie at Annie Cholewa
Sandra at Cherry Heart
Jennifer at Thistlebear
Claire at Above The River
Sarah at Mitenska

What is The Colour Collaborative? 

All creative bloggers make stuff, gather stuff, shape stuff, and share stuff. Mostly they work on their own, but what happens when a group of them work together? Is a creative collaboration greater than the sum of its parts? We think so and we hope you will too. We'll each be offering our own monthly take on a colour related theme, and hoping that in combination our ideas will encourage us, and perhaps you, to think about colour in new ways.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Make, Bake, Sew, Grow

Thank you so much for your suggestions on how we can continue to improve and add character to our garden without spending a fortune. You are all so full of imagination and creativity, it always astounds me and you gave me lots of good ideas on how we can garden on a tight budget. Will there ever be a time when we are not "on a budget" I wonder...? And thanks for all your comments lately, I do appreciate them and am sorry that I have so little time to read your blogs. At the moment it seems there is time to either post or read, but I still love blogging as much as ever and am very much enjoying my Make, Bake, Sew Grow posts, the planning and the writing. The second week at work went well and I wasn't quite so exhausted at the end of each day as I had been the week before. Slowly, as a family, we are getting used to our new routines. 

{ Make }

I made an addition to The Green Wall in the porch with a beautiful framed watercolour print of a rose, an ebay score at just a few pounds.

It's starting to come together. The framed fabric hoops are just a cheap and fun way to add interest and they are actually really annoying as they fly off the wall whenever a gust of wind blows through the open front door, but eventually this wall will be full of white-framed floral prints, like a green house!

{ Bake }

No cakes lately, and I've missed baking them. The kitchen activity is firmly based around meals. We ate salmon baked with lime, ginger and garlic the other night, with vegetables, rice noodles and some delicious supermarket sauce. I could eat food like this every night.

John made a spectacular vegetarian lasagne, prettied up by the addition of tomatoes and basil. As well as looking colourful they were a delicious addition to the topping when the cheese went all melty and crispy.

{ Sew }

I made a cushion cover. 

This is always happy news because I'd hate to think our house is under-cushioned (unlikely) but I'm extra pleased with this one for two reasons. First, the fabric. I found two napkins in the bargain bin at John Lewis after just Christmas and bought them purely because I liked the pattern on the fabric so much. They are by a brand called MissPrint and they are very much my sort of thing, with their stylised natural patterns and slightly retro, Scandinavian feel. Apparently these are trees but I thought they were feathers.

But the other reason I'm happy is because it has a zip. My first zip! A few weeks ago, a family friend very kindly spent an afternoon showing me how to put one in properly - with basting and everything, no slap dash half measures - and now there's no stopping me.

I'm still working on Bella's blanket here and there, but it's getting so big and so warm, that work has inevitably slowed down for now. I'm half way through and it's already huge. But  I was -still am, actually - so disappointed that my blanket is not quite big enough for our bed (it perches there, rather than drapes) so I'm making this more than big enough.

I had to stand on a chest to get it all in one photo.

{ Grow }

Discovered in the front garden, in a tangle of bushes - roses. Three, to be exact. I've no idea what kind but the pink and yellow colour is enchanting and the smell is, of course, amazing. 

And it's always extra-gratifying to have flowers from the garden in the house, even if you didn't plant them yourself.

Wishing you all a very happy week ahead. 


{ Make } Something for my home.

 { Bake } Something from the kitchen.

{ Sew } Something crafty.

{ Grow } Something in my garden