Saturday, 11 September 2021

Endings and Beginnings

I have been trying to put this post together for a couple of weeks. It was going to be all about the end of August, those last long days of the holiday, but then life took over, and that feels like a long time ago now. 

The last weeks of the summer break were slow for a couple of reasons: my sore back (which is much better now) prevented me from doing jobs I wanted to do, like decorating, and coffees and dinners and all sorts of social things were cancelled by covid or people isolating. To be honest it was relief when the holidays ended and we could just get back to some routine. 

Conscious that it had not been the most exciting summer holiday for the children, we planned a trip to London. (We did have days out and short stays with friends and family, but no "proper holiday", and six weeks is a long time to fill.) We went to the Design Museum to see an exhibition all about trainers, went to Five Guys for burgers for lunch and wandered through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. We popped into Covent Garden and lots of shops along the way. This was the children's first visit to London for a couple of years and it was fun seeing it through Bella's teenage eyes - clothes shops in particular were much more appealing than they were a few years ago.

The garden has changed a lot in the last few weeks but the dahlias are still going strong. I planted all these from seed (seed!) back in March with very low expectations of being able to keep anything alive, but they are doing so well. 

They're not going to win any awards, and the slugs seem to love them, but I can hardly keep up with picking them.

Inspired by our trip to Hinton Ampner during the holidays, I bought a white hydrangea for the garden. I will plant it into a much bigger pot (I will have a huge terracotta pot soon when I move the fig tree into the border) and keep it well watered.

The other hydrangea making me happy is this lacecap variety in the front garden. It spent years hidden by brambles but is now pruned, watered regularly and a prolific producer of flowers in pinks, blues and purples.

Our walks reflect the softening of the landscape and the changing weather.

I am always a bit surprised to see a photo of blue skies from the summer holiday because it was mostly cloudy. Overcast and humid or overcast and cool, but never hot and never rain. So we didn't get any beach days AND I still had to water the garden......

Typically, it was really warm and sunny when everyone was back at school. I'm not bitter. But the lack of rain means that some of the trees are already starting to change colour and it's all looking a bit dusty.

I did manage to pick some blackberries at the end of the holidays, one of my favourite summer rituals.

I made about eight jars of bramble jelly. We get through loads of this as the children seem to prefer it to jam. I love the tartness, and especially like it on toast or dolloped on top of homemade rice pudding.

I kept a few berries back to make some compote to spoon over porridge and yogurt. It is nice but the blackberries to go a bit hard when cooked with sugar (even for a short amount of time), reminding me why jelly is always a better bet than jam with blackberries.

And of course I have a few bags of blackberries in the freezer, ready for blackberry and apple crumbles, one of the best, and easiest, puddings you can make.

Outside of the kitchen, crafting and reading continue in the background, crochet especially keeping me calm and providing me with a bit of mindful activity (providing I can keep my eyes open in the evenings). I am crocheting this top although at my current rate, I don't think I'll get much wear out of it this year, it might have to wait till next spring.

My Stitch a Day project is continuing to provide much joy, and I am excited now that the wheel is moving towards the orange tones of September and October.

August's stitches are full of our travels and trips to different parts of the UK: the Angel of the North, fountains at Alnwick Garden, the Yorkshire Rose, Durham Cathedral, Longleat Safari Park (the jeep), Hinton Ampner, Southsea Pier, London and watching Banger Racing. There are lots of flowers, including ragwort, agrimony, sunflowers and dahlias, and blackberries, corn and barley reflecting the changing seasonal food. There's also everyday memories like cleaning, crochet, laundry and scissors to represent haircuts for Bella and I.

Now the summer holidays are firmly behind us, and we have just finished our first week back at school/work. I don't think the children are thrilled to be back, but equally they are happy to be seeing their friends and I think it's good that they are stretching their brains, although I'm sure they disagree. My first week of teaching has gone well overall. My class are really, really lovely and while it is all very overwhelming and exhausting, I feel like on balance it's good. Just unbelievably tiring.

Now that the alarm goes off at 6am again, I am noticing the morning sunrises as I stumble around blearily filling the kettle. It's getting darker earlier. Autumn is coming. 


  1. Hii, I'm new in your blog and I crush it 😍,
    In my country Algeria, it still hot sunny days 😩.

  2. If you cook your blackberries before adding the sugar, they will be soft to eat.

  3. Yes, autumn is coming. The fields around here are almost all harvested by now, with the exception of some maize ones. Another seasonal change for us is that we have opened our first bottle of red, after the summer months were all about rosé.
    Your photos are beautiful as always, and I an glad the class you are teaching is lovely. My late husband was a teacher, too, and he enjoyed his work; but he always said how tiring it was, with all the mental energy going into it.

  4. As always thank you for sharing your life with us. Your beautiful photographs and prose are so uplifting, I love to see the progression of your craft projects, I too find much happiness in crafting although my efforts are not remotely as polished as yours! Good luck with your new career, judging by the way you have brought up such fine children I think you will be a great success.

  5. So good to hear you love your classes, all is going well. And yes, fall is in the air. My chicken girls are molting, looking like little porgupines.The fresh feather winter coat is in the make to keep them warm this winter. Dahlia's,do I see the Bisschop of Oxford orange there <3 Take care, sleep enough, you are going to be just fine.

  6. such a lovely post dear lady, and your photos are gorgeous. thanks for sharing once again, always a joy to see you pop up on my screen. (-:

  7. Such lovely skies, beautiful flowers, smiling kids; oh-so pretty. The Stitch-a-Day project is so sweet...what a great way to remember the little things that really do matter most. Could you share your recipe for Bramble Jelly? Mary

  8. Glad you first week teaching has gone well and and you have a lovely group of children in your class.
    Lovely flowers in your garden as summer mellows into autumn Gillian. Thank you again for sharing.

  9. Your home always looks so neat and tidy! I love your decor! Thanks for the fun holiday photos!

  10. I am keeping a record of the shortening days……noticeable even here in sunny central Texas. Could you share some recipes? Your jelly, compote and crumble sound so good! Carol in Texas

  11. Perhaps you meant "Endings and BEGINNINGS" NOT beg-ings.


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