Friday, 16 February 2018

Sunshine At Last

It's half-term here and I'm really enjoying a break from work. The grey rain and cold of January just seemed to go on and on, and I felt a great sense of relief when we arrived in February. I couldn't seem to get warm, and being without heating and hot water for a weekend didn't help, when our boiler broke down and had to be repaired. I've craved sunshine and warmth, and felt in need of being perked up. P and I have continued our runs/walks (more in another post), so I've been outside a good deal, but indoors has called me back inside to cosy up and knit or crochet.
However, a change is in the air and although there are still grey, wet, cold and very windy days, there is also sunshine. Warm sunshine. And I can't tell you how glad I am to see it.

Yesterday P took the day off and J is home on a short visit, so we took ourselves off to Tyntesfield, a nearby NT property, for the day. It was a day of sunshine and showers, with a heavy hailstorm at one point, but when the sun came out, as it always did, it brought with it a breath of spring. The house is a recent NT acquisition and is still a work in progress. It's built in Victorian Gothic style, a mass of turrets, gables, pinnacles and so many architectural features.

Inside it is stunning, with a light and ornate central hall which all rooms radiate from.

There was pattern and ornamentation everywhere in the form of stencils,

carved wood and stone,


and lots and lots of colourful, intricate stained glass. Since I've been learning this art I'm fascinated and inspired by the windows I see in buildings around me.

The colours and traditional glass-painting are just gorgeous.

After dodging another shower, outside was just as lovely, despite there not being much in bloom. The orangery was a place I could've settled down in for an afternoon, surrounded by the colours and scents of warmer climes in the form of oranges, lemons and bright camelias. I could imagine myself whiling away the hours here in a rattan chair with a good book and a cup of tea.

Next came the greenhouses, most of which were closed to the public for maintenance work. I must confess I was disappointed as I would loved to have wandered through them, but I consoled myself with taking photos of the beautiful spring and summer flowers inside them through the glass. 

The scent of these hyacinths was so strong you could smell it as it wafted through the vents at the top of the greenhouse.

Inside this one were fan-trained fig and apricot trees.

Next came the beautiful kitchen garden. I do so love the order and neatness of a walled garden with its rows of onions and netted cabbages. Here there was forced rhubarb and fan-trained fruit trees.

There's something so beautiful and well-tended about these trees. They have been carefully pruned and trained and, growing on this sunny wall, must produce delicious fruit.

The gardens surrounding the house were a mix of formal and parkland, with structure and symmetry.

The topiary holly trees were clipped to perfection and must be a job in themselves.

As we left the gardens we dropped by the rose garden where two gardeners were busily pruning, ready for the year ahead. In two corners were these pretty little arbours. We sat in one out of the cold wind and felt the warm sunshine. They were also heavily decorated with these pretty tiles. 

I'd love to come back later in the year to see the roses in bloom and the fruit trees in blossom. I really can't wait for spring to get going now.

I've also been busy creatively in recent weeks, and plan to show you what I've been up to soon. Hopefully I'll post about that this weekend before I go back to work, fingers crossed.
See you soon! x

Friday, 12 January 2018

A New Year

Happy New Year!

I know I'm a bit late, but it is my first blog post of the year! I do hope you had a good Christmas. We had a great one here with all our youngsters together and my lovely sister-in-law, A. It really was one of the best I can remember with lots of laughter, chatting, games, seasonal fare and relaxation. It also contained some creativity. A is a talented embroiderer (-ess?) and designed and sewed this lovely fern while she was here. She is very crafty and only started embroidering last summer.

I even put my crochet aside for an evening and joined her in sewing a quick festive design. I've got until next Christmas to decide what to make it into.

I discovered a little seasonal project here at the Loop blog and fell in love with it - a mistletoe garland. I mentioned my love of mistletoe before, so as soon as I saw it I had to make it, even though I had only a couple of days to go until Christmas and a to-do list as long as your arm. However, I was very determined and seized a few quiet moments here and there with a cup of tea to pick up my hook and get crocheting.

I finished it in the in-between period before New Year, and like how delicate and simple it is. All the decorations were put away last week but my mistletoe garland is still hanging on our back door.

I love having some books to peruse after lunch on Christmas Day when I feel full and drowsy, and this year I was lucky enough to receive some gorgeous reading material. A lovely book of poetry for the coming year, an almanac, a foraging diary and a book of mindfulness. I'm going to enjoy these.

Now we're all back at work and school (both for me - term started on 2nd January, so that put and end to the festivities!), and J has returned to university, it's time to look forward. Going back to work the day after New Year's Day felt like a bit of a shock to the system, but once we'd taken the decorations down it felt good to move into the new year.
At this time of year I'm drawn to anything that can replace the sparkle of Christmas. Something is needed to lighten the gloom of deepest, darkest winter, and for me that takes the form of candles, fairy lights and flowers - three of my favourite things in all the world. This little Christmas cactus has begun to flower and I'm thrilled. Last year I had one and all its buds dropped off, so I'm paying it extra attention this year. Isn't it the most beautiful pink?

The bulbs which I planted back in October have been in the dark of the garage until I brought some out just before Christmas. Now hyacinths buds are pushing their way up through the leaves and I can't wait for that familiar heavy, rich scent to waft its way around the room, giving a foretaste of spring.

Clover has been enjoying herself over the holiday and likes to spend the winter curled up in various places around the house, finding cosy little patches of warmth. It's nice to come into a room and find her quietly snoozing somewhere. Here she is next to the radiator in her basket with some of her Christmas toys. She so loves the heat.

I've realised that I have not yet introduced you to the newest members of our family, which is very remiss of me, as they moved in to The House with the Blue Door last spring. They are the sweetest little guinea pigs and go by the names of Luna (black and white) and Ginny (brown) and they belong to J, who loves animals. Although he is away at university for much of the year we agreed look after them when he's away and we have quickly become very fond of them.

Luna is very sweet and cuddly, the quieter and calmer one of the two - she can be quite feisty when necessary, though.

And Ginny is a skittish little adventurer with a quiff, and fur which grows in all directions. J named them after Harry Potter characters, and we already can't imagine life without them. These photos are of them enjoying the garden last summer.

See you soon xx

Monday, 25 December 2017

Merry Christmas!

🌟🌲Merry Christmas!🌲🌟

Just dropping by to wish you all a very Merry Christmas! Hope you're having a good one so far and enjoying all the festivities.

It's a lovely one here at the House with the Blue Door with everyone at home, sparkly decorations, scented candles, games and fun - here are a couple of photos from today.

Wherever you are and however you celebrate, I wish you peace and a very happy Christmas indeed.

Cathy xxx