Thursday, 29 June 2017

Sweet Peas

My sweet peas are in full bloom now. The more you cut, the more they grow, I'm told, which is good as I'm cutting a lot of them. A vase on my bedside table, another on the mantel in the living room, their heady scent filling the air. The sight of them brightens up an otherwise dull brown fence and provides variety and interest on our decking, and their perfume drifts through the door into the house.

I like to check which colours have opened up overnight and the riot of colour has been a delight to watch unfold; creamy white, papery pale pink, golden peach, delicate lilac, deep lipstick red, hot pink and velvety aubergine. My favourite is this one, a kind of chalky, mottled grey-purple.  

I'm really enjoying our garden this year. I've worked very hard on it, and am still learning what works where, when it flowers, what I enjoy growing and what I don't. It's a constant work in progress and I've got so many ideas for things I'd like to do. Any serious landscaping is out of the question so I must make do with planting and painting what I can, creating little corners that make me happy. And this painted planter crammed with the sweetest sweet peas is making me very happy indeed. 

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Summer Love Bag

How's your weekend been? I've basically watched Glastonbury as much as possible. Radiohead on Friday night and Foo Fighters last night were both incredibly good and I found myself wishing I was there like I never had before. Those bands are my vintage, the music of my student days. Funny how it stays with you so. Bella has also been watching it - she's becoming more musically aware all the time, asking when I can take her to a concert - and asked if we could go to Glastonbury next year. Oh, if only getting tickets was that easy. There's also the camping part. 

When I haven't been watching Glastonbury I've been pottering around the house and enjoying a pretty quiet weekend. Plant shopping, food shopping, cooking, gardening, sanding and painting a wooden chair, ironing. The usual. I like the usual. I think a pottering weekend at home is pretty much my favourite way to spend time. 

I also finished my Wool and the Gang Summer Love bag. I started this about a month ago and almost finished it over half term, but I realised I'd made a big mistake with the increases. There was nothing for it but to unravel almost the whole thing and start again, which I did, but then it took me another three weeks to finish it. But I'm so very glad I did as I absolutely love it.

I'm particularly happy with the colours. I wanted the bottom half to be a fairly forgiving colour, thinking it would be placed on the ground a lot, so chose grey. The peachy pink isn't something I'd normally go for but I love it's summery warmth and how it contrasts with the grey.

I'd intended to use this as a bag for towel, book, sun cream for the beach or pool when we go to France for a fortnight in August. But it's already become my handbag. It's too nice to only use now and then.

The yarn is pretty special, I need to tell you about that. It's called Tina Tape and it's made from the eucalytpus tree. This makes it vegan and environmentally friendly in it's production, if such things are important to you, and non-scratchy for those who find they can't wear wool against their skin. It is a tape, thin and wide, which takes a bit of getting used to on the hook but after a few rows I had the hang of it. It has the soft sheen of mercerised cotton yarn when it's worked up, but it doesn't split on the hook like cotton sometimes can, and it's silky soft. It's also durable and washable so a good choice for a bag, or any garment that's going to get some wear. I'm quite won over by it.

So, tomorrow I'll be swinging my new bag on my arm, telling anyone who'll listen that yes, I made this, thank you very much. I'm also wishing summer would come back. The last four days have been grey, humid and yet also extremely windy. That's got to be the three worst weather conditions all in one go. Come back blue skies and balmy nights, you were lovely. 

(Ever so slightly blurry photos of me taken, begrudgingly, by Bella.)

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Midsummer Evening

The heat wave continues and it's still very warm and humid. The temperature is fine, it's the closeness of the air that is uncomfortable. So, after three very sweaty days at work, and with a forecast of rain and cooler air on the way, we decided not to bother taking the kids to their scheduled weekly swimming lessons tonight and went down to the beach instead. 

John and I swam and, for the first time, Angus joined us. Although Bella and Angus swim very well in a pool, they have both always been nervous of sea swimming; it is always too cold, the waves too big, the sea too unending. But today Angus had to be dragged out of the sea and he had such a great time, it was a joy to watch him. Bella, always the risk averse one, watched from the shore. Maybe next year.

We lay on the sand for a while then went to get fish and chips for tea. It was still so light when we left the beach at around eight, but the sun was just starting to drop down. Our annual heat wave evening swim, it was lovely.

I see that I wrote very similar posts last year and the year before, with similar photos. I hope I can write another this time next year - perhaps Bella will swim in the sea with us then.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

A Drop of Golden Sun

Oh, it's hot, and it's wonderful. This is Britain, with our notoriously unreliable weather, and so this could well be it for summer. With that in mind, I am doing my very best to make the most of every sunny morning, scorching afternoon and balmy night. (And it's not even that hot - it's only in the high twenties/low eighties - so readers in warmer parts of the world, you are justified in rolling your eyes at my excitement.) But this has been one of those perfect, glorious weekends where I just wanted to squeeze every last drop out of it.

We had to go to Winchester yesterday to pick up two chairs I'd bought on eBay for a song - spindle backed, wooden, they will be painted black or white and one will go at my dressing table -so we thought we'd make a day of it. Winchester is exceptionally pretty and it was so nice to be just wandering about the shops and streets in the sunshine. I bought a new and much needed pair of sunglasses, since I lost my old ones. We had an impromptu picnic in the magnificent cathedral grounds, M&S salad for me, pasties and sausage rolls from the local bakery for everyone else.  We ordered both kids new bikes too, since their current ones are embarrassingly small for them. Then we made our way home to sit out in the garden and ate pizza for tea. 

This morning, for some insane reason, we decided to trim our unruly hedges that border our neighbour's drive at the front of the house. The plan was to do it early, before it got too hot. But then we slept in, had a late and lazy breakfast of pancakes and fruit, and before I knew it it was 11am. Lordy it was hot out there, and I forgot to put any sun cream on so I now have really red shoulders. Honestly, my attitude to my own sun protection is lax, to put it mildly. I'm olive skinned and tan quickly so I don't often get caught out, but this has made me complacent. The kids will be smothered in factor 50, wearing their sunhats, but I'll totally forget to do the same to myself. It won't do, no-one likes a lobster, it's not a good look. Anyway, we tackled that flipping hedge, then went to the tip, then all came home and sort of collapsed in the garden, staring in to space. The children wanted the paddling pool out - so did I to be fair - but that required some serious effort with the foot pump and my calves are still burning. And so I spent rest of today flopped in a chair in the garden with my crochet, listening to The Archers on my phone, sort of trying to drown out the shrieks of Bella and Angus playing in the pool. (Sorry, neighbours...) Later on we barbecued some chicken breasts and halloumi and ate it with salads, bread and corn-on-the-cob. It was so good. Do you like Bella's rainbow salad up there? She was obsessed with putting it in a jam jar. I was worried she'd discovered Pinterest but it turns out Matilda Ramsay did it on Matilda and the Ramsay bunch.

I hope you are all enjoying the warm weather? I know that not everyone likes the heat. And thanks for the tips about oxalis from my Antipodean readers, I will make sure it never gets near the garden!