Views around the garden

It is sunny today, so I was inspired to get out the proper camera (so easy and lazy, having the iPhone and Hipstamatic) and investigate various corners of the garden.  Our Japanese maple tree is currently ablaze, and the pink hydrangeas have turned a gorgeous shade of deep magenta tinged with dusty green and hints of purple.  I have cut a few and dried them, hoping they’ll last through the winter as a reminder of warmer days.  There are a couple of apples still on the tree which we couldn’t reach, which continue to cling bravely to their branches.  The lavender is also having a final hurrah.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Office views part III- the local trees

Sunlight through trees is one of my favourite things to look at… it reminds me of being at home in the US in the hammock in summer, gently swinging (even though swinging in the hammock was naughty because we might fall out or damage it) and watching the leaves turn different shades of green as the breeze shook them in the sun.

On a (rare) sunny day, I do my best to take a walk to a nearby park, where I can go and sit on a bench and stare up at the trees.

I took the first photo in the summer on a gorgeous warm afternoon. The little summer we had is now a distant memory, but last week we had a crisp autumn day and I walked through the park onto a footpath along the river and took the second photo in a brief sunny spell. As I write I realise I have been remiss in capturing autumn foliage in all its glory- fingers crossed for a sunny day tomorrow!

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Country life

We now reside in the countryside…. it is lovely.  Blissful.  There are birds tweeting, and cows just over the back fence.   Really.  We live in the Chew Valley, which is just south of Bristol and seems to be a thriving area with lots of lovely villages, and copious amounts of cows.  There is a dairy in the village (I haven’t investigated daily milk deliveries yet but it’s moving up the list of things to do) and the Yeo Valley dairy company is based two villages over.  I have been a devotee of Yeo Valley yoghurt for years, so I am inordinately pleased that one of my favourite food items is now officially ‘local’.

This is the view from just over our back fence.  I took this a couple of weeks ago when the sun was actually shining, ahem, and for the last week there have been lots of what I think are teenager cows in the near field.  They seem to be quite bouncy and mischievous, and also not that big, hence my teenager theory.  When the weather stops being atrocious I will see if I can get some photos of them.

The sun setting over the Mendips.

We also have a garden, an actual garden with proper plants in it, about which I am clueless.  I think I can handle herbs in pots, so I am planning an expedition this weekend to get some of those.  For the rest, I think I need to make friends with the neighbours and get their green thumb advice!

There is also quite a bit of lawn, which has necessitated the purchase of a proper lawn mower (American readers will not know that there is any other kind, but yes, here in England you may purchase electric mowers, i.e. with a cord attached, and yes, even human-powered mowers.  I had never seen such things before I moved here) and the building of a compost bin in which to house the grass clippings and other organic waste.

This compost bin was built by Mark from some obliging site waste material, and is standing proudly in the garden looking incredibly fit for purpose.

It is also designed with spiky residents in mind.  The hedgehog population is in decline in the UK, which is very sad, as hedgehogs are wonderful.  You can read all about them in the Guardian here.  In addition to residing in hedges (obviously), hedgehogs also apparently are quite keen on nesting in compost bins, and it is important to leave a gap to allow them access to this most ideal of habitats to encourage them to move in.

As you’ll note, one panel of the bin has been deliberately left out so as (all being well) to act as the hedgehogs’ front entrance.  Now all I need is some bunting to welcome them in….

Sunlight and leaves in the square

As you’ll know if you live in the UK, the weather for the past six weeks has been something of a trial for all but the most avid of gardeners.  It has rained, and rained, and rained, and I know I shouldn’t be churlish because we have had two dry years and are consequently still in drought even after all that wetness, but it does get a little depressing.  The weather is still ‘unsettled’, apparently, but yesterday it was unsettled enough to forget its habits of the past six weeks and just let the sunshine pour forth all day.  There is something about the quality of light when the sun shines after a heavy downpour- the air is so clear, all the colours look freshly painted.

Yesterday at 7pm, the sun was still shining brightly (hooray for longer evenings!) and lighting up the trees from the side so they glowed.  I went out into the square where we live and took a few ‘proper’ photos…

These are our last few days in the square, as we will shortly be moving to the countryside south of Bristol.  I am so excited!  We will have a big sunny garden so will need the weather to cooperate a little bit more to allow barbecues on sunny evenings.  Photos of our new environs will follow in due course…

oops!

Hmm… my last post was in March, and it is now May.  A bit of a whoopsie.  I think this is what happens when things get busy at work- my brain is done for the day by the time I get home, and I lounge on the sofa reading murder mysteries instead of doing the fun things that I like doing, (i.e. taking photos, sewing things, blogging) because those things require creative brain juices and my brain juices are fully squeezed by the time I get home.  Thanks, work!  Anyway, let’s not dwell on it.  My work is interesting and pays me well, so there is that.

Moving on to the photo illustration of today’s blog: I am not sure how I feel about iPhone apps like Hipstamatic and Instagram (the latter of which I haven’t tried).  They make things look all cool and moody and old-fashioned to the casual observer, and thus feel to me a bit like the photographic equivalent of a mock-tudor house in the suburbs.  Which isn’t to say that I won’t use them, but I suppose when I do I want to say ‘I am doing this in a knowing way! I am aware this isn’t really the real thing!’ as if everyone else who uses them thinks they are.  Maybe it doesn’t matter.

Which is a long-winded introduction to a photo of my lunch- almost certainly another modern-day cliche, the blogged lunch photo.  What can I say, dipping my toe back into blogging, my lunch was pretty today!  Banana, raspberries, blueberries and yoghurt.  I am getting excited about all the lovely berries which will soon be in season…. clotted cream at the ready!

 

A watery view of Clevedon

Mark and I went to visit Clevedon recently on a bit of a ‘where shall we move?’ tour of Bristol and North Somerset.  It was raining cats and dogs all day, and then as we drove into Clevedon the clouds parted and the sun shone down on the coast.  I snapped the below with my iPhone.

Although I will not accept any comments about rainy English/Welsh (Wales is just off to the right, on the other side of the Severn Estuary which is the body of water you can see)/Brizzle Drizzle weather as we’re currently experiencing quite a severe drought, I will say that rain makes the views like the above possible.  Plus, rainbows.

Bookcase project

I may have mentioned here before that Mark has been working in Bournemouth for the last four months, and travelling home to Bristol at weekends.  Needless to say, this was an undesirable arrangement for many reasons (although there was a silver lining in the cloud as he saw more of his family who live in that area), but it has thankfully now come to an end as he has left the horrible job which sent him there.  “Our” furniture reclamation projects which were embarked upon so excitedly when we first moved in to our current flat were put on hold as Mark’s do-stuffing time in the evenings and weekends became almost non-existent.  The true extent to which all things DIY are driven and completed by him also became very apparent, as if it wasn’t before!

So it was with glee in his heart on his first free day home that Mark headed down to the wood recycling centre to find a ratty old bookcase for the knock-down price of £10.

I never actually saw it naked in person as I was up in London, but according to Mark (who took all the photos in this post) these shots somewhat mask the fact that the wood veneer was in quite poor condition.

(Note- the photo above is a bit misleading- there is a mirror in the back of the bookcase which is actually reflecting a DIFFERENT bookcase which looks quite similar to this one, but was in better condition so we left it as-is.)

So while I wouldn’t condone blithely painting over lovely wood (witness our gateleg table as an excellent example of something which, in my opinion, should never ever be painted or even varnished), it seemed this specimen wasn’t sufficiently sacrosanct to warrant saving, and a few good coats of white paint would give it a new lease of life (and fit in with my current obsession for all things Scandinavian.)

It first had a good undercoat, then slipped into a white eggshell.

Ta-da!  I am already plotting how to fill up the shelves without him noticing before it’s too late.  In all ways, it is good to have Mark home.