Saturday, 19 August 2017



Thank you for your comments on my Brittany post. It's fun that so many of you share my love of foreign supermarkets. In many ways they're more interesting to me than the street markets, perhaps because they're so similar to how I shop at home, but with different products, packaging and smells. Thank you also for your well wishes for my Grandad, you are all so kind. He's doing incredibly well and how been moved from ICU to a regular ward, and plans are being made for his return home. 

I forgot to tell you in my last post that I kept another embroidered holiday diary while we wre away, like I did when we went to Cornwall in 2014. Twelve little motifs or vignettes for twelve days. Some took longer than others, but I was able to work on it for a couple of hours each day (in daylight hours too - such a holiday luxury!) and finished it last weekend. It's off to the framers next week then of course I will show you all. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed stitching each image, and how much fun it was choosing what to sew and how to sew it. 

I enjoyed sharing stages of the progress on Instagram while we were away, but I thought some of you might also like to see a few pictures. I'll show it to you all properly when it's framed.

The days are flying by so quickly at the moment and I don't really know what I'm doing with them. I don't seem to be able to account for my time at the moment, but does that even matter? Apart from a couple of days with my friend Abigail in London earlier in the week, we've been at home mainly. Getting on with jobs, seeing people, pottering around the house and garden. The weather has been a typical August mixture of sun and showers, and it feels cooler in the evenings than it did a month ago, and darker too now that I come to think of it. I've been rearranging and refreshing rooms and shelves here and there, moving plants, adding throws, switching on fairy lights. The chevron crochet you see above is to be a wall hanging for Bella's bedroom. It's almost finished, I just need to block it and add tassels. My next project will be crocheted fruit which I'm really excited to start.

The holiday feeling did linger for a while, as I unpacked and arranged souvenirs and washed the shells I'd collected, but now it's hard to believe we've been home a week. I feel like I've caught up with the garden a bit now, reconnected with it, and I've potted the planters on my door step with dahlias. They were £1.67 or something per plant from Lidl, so cheap, and I always feel better about the garden if the pots on my door step look presentable. I'm astounded that I'm still picking sweet peas, maybe five or ten a day and, even though they're looking so straggly and brown, I'm reluctant to pull them all up just yet. Just one week more, then I'll replant the planter with cosmos and dhalias. The courgettes have gone mad in my absence and there are loads, and they're supermarket size now. I feel like I grew these by accident really. A colleague gave me a plant, I planted it, did nothing to it, then loads of courgettes appeared. That's my kind of gardening, if I'm honest.

I popped in to see my sister, Katy on Friday morning. I don't know if I've told you about her garden before, but she lives in an Edwardian terrace and it's really long and narrow, and you can't see the bottom of the garden from the house due to the way it's been planted. It has huge, overgrown borders, winding paths, apple trees, the most incredible climbing roses, a pond. It's really magical, but a huge amount of work, frankly, to even keep on top of it. They plan to remodel it in the future, but for now she was more than happy for me to pick a bunch of wildflowers, dig up a few plants (including a Japanese anemone), pick a sack load of cooking apples and a handful of wild blackberries. Oh, and I borrowed a cookery book too. Not bad for a morning's work. 

Monday, 14 August 2017

Postcards from Brittany

Bonjour! How are you all? Thank you for all your lovely comments on our newly decorated bedroom, it was very nice to come home to that - the comments and the bedroom. There's nothing like your own bed after a trip away, is there, no matter how wonderful the trip.

We have just returned from a wonderful holiday in Carnac, on the south coast of Brittany. We've spent the weekend unpacking, food shopping, washing and ironing every single item of clothing we possess (well, almost), gardening (how did it get so wild over only two weeks?!), washing the car and just generally getting back into the swing of life at home, and I finally had time this afternoon to sit down and go through our holiday photos.

Our holiday was similar to last year in that we took the car ferry to France and stayed on a campsite in a mobile home/cabin type affair, and so we had our own car and bikes. These kinds of holidays are so familiar to us now that we all fall into our usual habits when we arrive; lots of swimming, cycling, pottering around pretty towns and villages, market visits, eating and drinking. There was also, as I'd hoped, lots of time for sewing, reading and sleeping. I think I slept nine hours a night for the first week there - clearly a much needed catch up! The weather was mixed and cooler than last year, and there were a few rainy days, but it didn't really stop us doing anything. Bella and Angus spent any time at the campsite cycling around on the bikes, visiting my parents and sisters with their families, who were also staying on the same campsite. With all those cousins, we had our own little kids club going on.

The campsite was very close to Carnac Plage with it's beautiful sandy beach. I loved that beach very much, and my sisters and I would meet early and run along it most mornings which was really glorious. 

The beach was sheltered with no surf to speak of, so ideal for swimming. It was also lovely to walk along in the evenings, which we did a few times.

Brittany is such a picturesque part of France, and with a very strong sense of regional pride. In many ways it reminds me of Cornwall, with it's grey slated-roofed cottages, the agapanthus flowers which grow everywhere, the fishing industry and the many bays and inlets that make up the wild coastline. It's also known for it's crepes and cider, which of course we felt obliged to sample. Frequently.

One particular highlight for me on holiday is food shopping. I just love foreign supermarkets, they fascinate me. I mean look at this jam section!

Food shopping is not exactly a favourite past time of mine at home, but on holiday I love it, whether it's a shop or the markets, which are amazing.  I also brought home a few souvenirs, including a few cotton throw/scarf/hammam towels from the shop pictured below.

Hydrangea bushes are abundant and grow outside most houses and many churches and other buildings. Against the stone walls and shuttered windows, they are really elegant and I became quite besotted with them.

This one was the most incredible - I've since learnt that it's a hydrangea paniculata  - and I've never seen anything like it, with the slightly conical, ombre blooms. Just stunning.

We explored the local region a lot, including a trip to the city of Vannes, which was so full of character with it's medieval half-timbered buildings and city walls.

One afternoon we took a little ferry over to Ile de Moines, the most charming island in the Gulf of Morbihan. There are hardly any cars and everyone gets around by walking or cycling around the narrow, winding roads. I always wonder what it's like to live on islands like this, what it's like in November when all the tourists have left. 

Another delightful - if cold and windy - trip was to the little village of St Cado, with it's stone houses hugging the coast and the tiny oyster-catcher's cottage sitting alone on an equally tiny island.

It was a brilliant holiday and we returned tanned, slightly heavier (that'll be those crepes...) and with full hearts after lots of cherished family time together. Sadly my parents had to leave earlier than planned as my Grandad has been quite unwell over the last week. But - incredibly (he really was very poorly) - he's doing well and we hope he will be home in a few weeks. So it's all been a bit emotional with that going on in the background, but we're very glad he's on the mend and all visiting him as much as we can.

I'll leave you with some family snaps.