Sunday, 31 December 2017

Happy New Year

Like many of you, my dears, the male guardian and I are wondering where the last year has gone. Not but five minutes ago did it seem like we were opening the door on a new year, than we are once more stood teetering on the brink of another. As is oft quoted, tempus fugit, dear souls, tempts fugit.

I do so enjoy looking back over the year, to revisit our time, and to consider the new year ahead for it allows one the opportunity to enjoy the highs and consider the lows, to reassess and re-evaluate that which is important to us. As we move forward, there are works still to be undertaken on our little home and maintenance in the gardens require consideration. Plans will be made and executed as funds allow, as well as the importance of including time for enjoyment, rest and recuperation from one's daily toil in one's annual schedule.

I am most fortunate to have made some changes to my daily toil over this last year which means I am able to include a four mile walk in to my schedule, and I must say, my dears, how delightful it has proved. I really do enjoy my daily constitutional, at a brisk pace, of course. It really is quite the ticket, blowing away the proverbial cobwebs and getting the blood flowing. Such a small change but one that raises those endorphins. Added to this is the mileage one undertakes as part of the daily toil, all in all, a bonus for one's mental and physical health. 

I am slowly and tortuously learning to play a musical instrument; I am by no means quick and it is certainly torture for anyone in the vicinity but I will persevere, whilst I am on my own that is. 
The regular get together will two dear friends and colleagues to learn the art of dressmaking continues with a date already set for the new year. These are such fun occasions and afford time away from our professional toils to enjoy ourselves, and that we do in great abundance. I am slowly progressing with my skills in the art of knitting, which I also enjoy, and plan to continue to increase
the standard of garment I can produce. Such fun things to do and also of benefit to "the little grey cells" as dear Monsieur Poirot was apt to say. 

Most importantly, is the time the male guardian and I are able to spend enjoying each other's company around our professional toil commitments. After all these years, we still enjoy each other's company and love to laugh at really quite the most childish of things. It is however this ability to laugh at the absurd together that has allowed us to weather life's storms.  Those moments of joy are like hidden treasures each day, to be sought and savoured as one can, along with my oft quoted simple pleasures. 

We wish you all a happy and healthy new year. Work hard, enjoy life's simple pleasures and laugh often, dear friends.

Monday, 25 December 2017

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, my dears. I do so hope you are having a joyful and peaceful day. The male guardian is once more at his professional toil, doing his duty, and therefore we rose early to see in the day, after a late evening upon the electronic device talking face to face with the darling twin sister and partner. It was a late night, dear souls, but, oh, how we did laugh, such food for the soul. It was such fun and a joy to be able to wish them a Merry Christmas in person, so to speak, them being a full eight hours ahead of us in time. 

Prior to this, and before the male guardian completed his day of toil, I attended the glorious Carols in the Cowshed held every Christmas Eve by a lovely local Farming family. As some of you may remember, I have spoken of this before and do so every year I attend for it is such a beautiful, little family service and reminds one of the real message of Christmas. Christmas just is not Christmas without it and I am most saddened when my own professional toil prevents me from attending. The atmosphere really cannot be given full credit in words. Yesterday I was perched high up in the hay bale amphitheater next to a large enclosure of cows and calves nestled in fresh bedding. Over 350 people were snugly fitted in with standing room only. The local Vicar took us through the Nativity story complete with audience participation in sounds and actions, interspersed with some classical festive carols sung with boisterous enthusiasm to make the heart sing. A short, gentle reminder  of those less fortunate and, as proceedings came to an end, warm mince pies were offered along with chocolates for the children, as well as a collection for the homeless. It is a local tradition that I hope will continue for many years and can only add my thanks to the many others to the Farming family who host the event each year. 

Once again, my dear friends, have a Merry Christmas and may all your dreams come true xx

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Winter solstice and Nativity

'Tis the male guardian's favourite day of the winter season, for the winter solstice is the shortest day and hereafter the days do lengthen, minute by minute. We are, it has to be said, chalk and cheese with regards to the weather, for I do so enjoy winter nights, with the log burner alight, warm garments and hunkering down, whereas the male guardian likes nothing better than blazing sunshine and basking in the heat of the sun, much like a lizard (only in relation to the heat, you understand). Opposites attract they do say and there must be some truth in the maxim as we have celebrated our 35th Anniversary this very year.

I have enjoyed this evening, whilst the male guardian is once more at toil, with festive music in the background, a crackling fire and an evening of gift wrapping in preparation for the festivities. Added to these simple pleasures is a good quality scented candle to fill the air with evocatively festive aromas. Oh, how I do so love a quality scented candle, dear souls.  I like to take time to consider how to decorate a festive gift in my own inimitable style. I am fond of  simple colour schemes that denote the season in which we celebrate Christmas, therefore natural greenery more often than not features, along with dashes of red to embellish. Such delightful fun, my dears. 

Last evening the male guardian and I were most delighted to be visited by some of our family. During the visit we were able to view the children's Nativity on an electrical device -  well, pon my soul, dear friends, how charming it all looked with all the children participating. There were even some delightful birds represented, and so well portrayed alongside Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. 
I do remember the importance of the Nativity play from my own childhood. My dear twin sister was always the more extrovert and was Mary, the much coveted part for many a young lady. I, myself, was not so keen as to be centre stage, however, was one year cast as the Angel Gabriel on account of my rather bright and plentiful supply of fiery red hair topped off with a rather becoming gold tinsel halo hovering above my head fashioned from a wire coat hanger, a rather spangly golden dress and, importantly, a pair of large angel wings fashioned from more wire and white stockings, stretched over the wire and coated in glitter that left a glittering trail up the aisle of the local church and in to the pulpit where I perched upon a wooden box during the performance in all my golden glittery splendour for all to see. What five year old young lady would not be tempted by such a glorious ensemble (and it has to be said, a somewhat forthright, bossy twin sister who told me I had to accept the part for fear of jeopardising her own coveted role - dear sister, I do so hope you remember this little bit of "persuasion" as well as I do).
I do not know what was more attractive, the clash of gold and glitter next to my orange hair or the bright puce shade of my face as realisation dawned as to the sheer number of eyes upon us during the performance; ne'er again was it repeated, dear souls, ne'er again.

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Mercury light and evergreens

The festive season is nigh upon us thus, this very day has seen some simple decorations made and displayed to celebrate the season. Two ivy clad wreaths have been made, one for the front entrance, simply enhanced with a large red bow, the other adorned with three beautifully crafted felt robins nestling in its branches for the dining room. Small displays of evergreens, plus clementines, bay leaves, pine cones, pewter and mercury glass find the decorations completed. A simple theme embracing the colours of the season, as well as a little gleam of metal or mercury glass, is all our small Cottage needs to make one feel prepared for the festivities. 

All around us, and on our respective journeys to our professional toil, the male guardian and I are able to view the many glittering displays our fellow men and woman have prepared for Christmas. Perhaps my favourites are the simple small white lights lightly entwined amongst the garden greenery on one or two pieces. How delicate, and so very pretty they do look. 

The male guardian and I took the carriage this morn to a local town to purchase a few necessities, where a brass band enhanced the season with some beautifully played seasonal pieces, whilst shoppers browsed the wares of the the local shops and small market taking place. Mince pies were being offered and people collecting for a local charity, all adding to the atmosphere and seasonal build up. 

All that is left is to ensure that Christmas gifts are wrapped, the necessary selected foodstuffs purchased and a well stocked log store is at our disposal. What more could one want, my dears.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

All change....

December has gripped us with the promise of the festivities and thrown in the inclement weather for free; wind and rain, snow and ice, Jack Frost nipping at your toes. That be said, who does not love to build a log fire, close the curtains against the darkening sky, and lie warm and snug as the storm rages on. To enjoy gloriously tasty, hot morsels, prepared to sustain one or deliciously fragrant teacakes and a mug of something soothing after coming in from the biting winds. Whilst many around me despise winter, I, dear souls, glory in it. What is not to like, for it is the perfect excuse to hunker down and enjoy the peace that comes with winter, the downtime before it all begins again in spring. To settle down for an afternoon by the fire seems so much more appropriate when nought can be done outside, the perfect excuse to finish a garment or enjoy the book one has longed to read, to be lost in its pages with not a twinge of unease at a job waiting to be done.

This very weekend has seen me spending an afternoon with visitors, embibbing savoury scones and tea, listening whilst the visitors chattered nineteen to the dozen. An evening allowing one's brain to disengage in the peace and calm of home whilst the male guardian is at his professional toil and my hands engaged in continuing the second garment for my dear friend. Today has seen a number of quiet chores undertaken whilst the male guardian sleeps after a very busy night spent working, then a warming meal taken before relaxing quietly for the evening. The Christmas cards are ready for posting, a task I do so enjoy. I do believe there is nought so delightful than receiving a handwritten letter, card or missive in these modern times, especially as the festive season approaches.

Preparations have begun and the larder inspected to ensure a fine tasty morsel or two are in readiness for Christmas. I do so love the small traditions the male guardian and I continue as the season approaches; sending a small but select number of Christmas cards, considered gifts or tokens for one's family and friends, a few tasty morsels to be enjoyed, Christmas carols and time to remember. 

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

A stitch in time....

Oh, my, my, dear souls, I am beside myself with joy for I have spent another day in the presence of my dear friend who is quite the most patient of tutors in the art of the seamstress. I am quite delighted to tell you that I have finished making an article of clothing for myself. During the process I learnt how to plan and cut a garment from my chosen fabric, to press correctly, overlock with a special piece of  machinery, undertake facings in a contrasting fabric, use interfacing, put in a zip, make a zip backing in a contrasting fabric, use twin needles, top stitching and pockets. My friend was also most diligent in teaching me how to use my machine, and do you know, my dears, I learnt so much; why I never knew one machine could do so much, such a revelation. I am most keen to put in to practice that which I learnt, particularly, it has to be said, after paying a visit to a most charming establishment  in a nearby town that sold the most exquisite of fabrics. Now, whilst taken with said fabrics, I am not so bold as to use them for a first garment therefore I will use a more utilitarian fabric, with perhaps a small quantity of my chosen exquisite fabric for facings. I do feel, dear reader,  this to be the wiser course to take for such a novice as I. 

Such simple pleasure to be had in making something for oneself and achieving something that had erstwhile been considered beyond one's ability. I have my dear friend to thank for this for which I am truly grateful. Her attention to detail is second to none and I really do feel that I have learnt from an expert,  as well as producing a garment to a standard I would not have thought possible before this. So very delightful and joyously fun. 

Sunday, 3 December 2017


I have in, both my personal and professional lives over the years, met such interesting people. People, or indeed, human beings, really are such an interesting group. I am, dear souls, really quite fascinated by them, how they interact and communicate, with a soup├žon of emotion in the mix, all adding to the lifeblood of  man. It is this that makes people watching quite so compulsive, through the peaks and troughs of success and failure to the mundanity of everyday life. There are times however, when one really does need to switch off the antennae and disengage from those around you to ensure the stability of the equilibrium. I am always reminded at times like these of that famous, yet some consider, quirky song by that wonderful group of people who sang "always look on the bright side of life". Whilst considered part of the tomfoolery of their show, it's message is really quite clear; if you have not considered the lyrics, may I recommend them. A further much favoured recommendation is the poem by Rudyard Kipling "If you have the ability to keep your head when all around you are losing theirs....", a poem one holds great store in, for it resonates in many situations and walks of life, both personal and professional for many people.

Literature, be it in the form of poetry, lyrics, quotations and the like, can be relied upon to guide one through life, if we do but consider that which is in front of us, played out through humanity. Why, one really has little need of technology to keep oneself amused, for, in the words of the Bard, "all the world's a stage; and the men and women in it merely players".

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Super moons and fat quarters

Mooching, my dears, is clearly one of those new fangled words but, it has to be said, one that fits the bill so beautifully. I have, dear reader, spent a delightful few hours in a nearby small town mooching; meandering too and fro, purchasing a few small necessities but also taking the opportunity to review the wares on offer in a number of small, but select establishments, and oh, what fun it has been. I have   attempted to purchase our favourite brand of tea cake at a well known food store (sadly, only to be disappointed), fingered fabrics, oohing and aahing at the choice available and, ahem, purchased a small number of fat quarters to use as facings in some quite delicious colours and patterns. I was also most fortunate to stumble across a very nice new living store with some rather delicious items for the home. I must say, what a beautiful little selection of items they had indeeed, dear reader, which I did, unbelievably, manage to resist, so close to the festive season as we are. It was after an initial review of said store that I looked up from the items on offer to find myself face to face with a work colleague of many years past who has opened said establishment with her daughter. Well, what a very nice surprise indeed and so delightful to see how she and her daughter have utilised their very good taste and ethical stance to open such a smart little store. I do so hope that they do well, no doubt helped in a very small way by some purchases I am sure I will be making in the not too distant future. 

I am awaiting, in anticipation, the rising of the super moon that we are, it appears, due to be dazzled with on Sunday afternoon. Why, dear souls, I do believe it to be one of many natural wonders that should not be missed, if at all possible. A clear, crisp night sky emblazoned with a glowing winters super moon, quite the ticket for a December afternoon, do you not agree. Why, the very thought of a fine cup of restorative coffee and a tea cake after time spent outside admiring the spectacle fair sets one's taste buds tingling in response to the very thought of what is to come. Such excitement. We do so hope the English weather complies. 

Monday, 27 November 2017

A deux .....

Well, my dears, the male guardian and I did enjoy lunch a deux today in a charming little bistro amongst the glorious architectural city of Bath. You may ask yourself for why, and I will, of course tell, for 'tis our 35th, yes 35th, Wedding Anniversary. Pon my soul, it really does beggar belief where those years have gone; it does feel but the blink of an eye since our wedding day. We wandered at will, after our most enjoyable lunch, amongst the hustle and bustle of this delightful city, full of Christmas cheer. The Christmas market was quite the largest we have seen it, with many artisans showcasing their wares. The large bedecked Christmas tree glistened decorously, sat as it was in front the cathedral. One felt quite giddy with the thought of playing hooky on a 'school night' as such, for we had both taken a days leave from our toil to celebrate our milestone and enjoy time together. 

On our return from our travels, we lit the fire to warm our home, drew the curtains against the darkening sky and settled down to an evening of peace and quiet contentment. We have revisited the images of our wedding day kept in a beautifully bound album. There in the album are memories of the day, of our parents now no longer with us, of moments captured for posterity, of joy and celebration in our union, of hopes for the future. We are most fortunate to have stayed the path thus far, with a degree of perseverance and a heap of shared experiences from which to learn. More importantly, our shared values but greatest of all the laughter and warmth of a loving home in which to be happy, for we are simple souls in our little simple country home.

Sunday, 26 November 2017

A crafty time...

Well, dear souls, it has been a busy making weekend. My seamstress friend was due to spend the day with me this very day and I was determined to complete the woollen garment I had been making for her. Last evening saw me tweaking and reviewing the garment with a critical eye to ensure the standard one desired had been reached. This very morn saw me sewing in a small "handmade" tag before my friend arrived in preparation for the reveal. Once this small task was completed, a batch of luscious cheese scones were prepared, the fire lit and, the room we intended to use, made ready. My dears, what a joyous fun day has been had; my dear friend was clearly delighted with my offering, putting it on immediately. Personally, I was delighted and somewhat relieved that it fitted and, importantly, that she was clearly most pleased with my offering. There is nought so anxst making as undertaking something for someone else. Thereafter, my dear friend once again tutored me in the art of the seamstress and oh, how we chattered and laughed as we worked. It was a truly fun and practical day, and lo, I have very little left to complete on the garment chosen for today's session. My friend really is an excellent and, it has to be said, most patient tutor.

The joy in being able to reciprocate is a most satisfactory feeling. Thus, this very evening has seen me commence the beginnings of another woollen garment for my friend, for I am much in her debt. 
"For it is in giving that we receive" (Francis of Assisi) , a maxim of great truth, do you not agree. 

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Oh glorious day.....

My dears, what a glorious day t'as been. Why, the weather was crisp and cold with big blue skies. The landscape was at its autumn best, green and brown fields demarcated by dark, smudgy bare hedges, clipped into a semblance of tidy by the farmer and his trusty tractor. The leaves left on the trees creating a dappled but sparce canopy of autumn splendour, dotted through with evergreens, heavy with winter berries. As the sun crept high in the sky, before dipping low again, the pheasants were abound in the lanes, dashing hither and thither as their glorious plummed finery glowed in the caress of the sun's rays; carriages made their way carefully past females, less vivid but so becoming in their creamy brown camouflage. 

I took the opportunity, whilst the male guardian was once more at his professional toil, to visit a fine little town, renowned for its stunning location on Exmoor, as well as the delightful nature of its small but select shops in which to purchase one's desires. And, oh, dear reader, what choice, what temptation. One is always tempted by the wares on show but, with the festive season approaching, one must be prudent. I am uncertain to what caused me more joy, the small but select items purchased  or the stunningly beautiful scenery, coupled, of course, with my favourite crisp and cold weather. A day to dress warmly when one is out and about and to have the home fires burning early, with glowing lamplight to welcome the male guardian home. Nought is so welcome as a glowing home, the chimney gently smoking and the waft of something hearty and warming to greet the traveller. 

I do so love the autumn and winter months as we hunker down on our small estate. The fieldfares and blackbirds are making good progress through the windfalls left for their delectation and to help them through these spare months. The delightful Robin has kept me company as I go about my chores and stayed a bright beady eye upon me as I filled the bird feeders with fattening morsels for his supper. No sooner was my back turned and he was enjoying a snack of sunflower seeds, his red breast puffed and glowing as he did so; such a cheery sight, my dears.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Mice and men..

What a glorious day it has been, my dears, with the sun caressing the autumn leaves creating a blaze of fiery oranges, yellows, reds and green to light up the countryside; what a spectacular sight. The male guardian and I took the carriage and rode out early to ensure we made the most of the weather. We alighted on the moor and walked up to a high point above a local reservoir and beyond, all the more to enjoy the spectacle, whilst the wild ponies milled about us. Dear souls, what a way to start the day, the coldness of the wind was bracing and we gulped large lungfuls as the eyes roved across the scene laid out before us, attempting to imprint it on our minds eye, whilst the sun glinted on the reservoir. Oh, England, my England indeed. 

On our return, once our morning repast and a brief glimpse of the periodicals had been enjoyed, we set about rehoming a visitor who had decided to partake of our hospitality in hope of a warm and plentiful Christmas. Alas for Mr Mouse, our larder is not the home that he had hoped to establish himself in. He has been cruelly ejected and measures undertaken to ensure he does not return for, sweet as they appear, they really are a tad destructive for our liking. I am sure that Mr Mouse would not have had the temerity to try should our dear Maine Coons still be with us. The male guardian has, however, taken steps to ensure we do not receive a similar calling card in the future. As with most country dwellings, there is always the potential for sharing ones home with the local wildlife, be it the small four legged variety, the winged feather clad or, indeed, those of the flamboyant tail variety and one must ensure, each year, measures are undertaken to avoid non paying guests of the fur/feather variety. Part of the joys of County living, my dears.

Saturday, 18 November 2017


Dear souls, whilst I have become inordinately fond of the craft of knitting, I do also enjoy a spot of crochet. There are times when a soothing repetitive small garment is useful to have at hand should the need arise, thus I found myself awaiting a delivery of yarn, with idle hands. Now, my dears, my seamstress friend is of a petite stature and has noted on many occasions the difficulties of obtaining the simplest of garments, the woollen hat, correctly sized for one so petite. Whilst surveying my stash of wool I did realise that I had some perfect yarns of which to create my friend some correctly sized garments in a variety of colour ways. My dears, the excitement and joy at the very thought, really was quite palpable. Straight away I sought a simple but effective pattern and began; why, dear friends, 13 simple rows later, a woollen garment lay upon my lap. I cannot tell the delight and the very next day I did present my friend with said garment. She was, it has to be said, most taken and therefore I find myself utilising any spare moments creating garments to keep my friend snug and warm as she walks to her professional toil each morning. Oh, the joy of being able to return her most generous abilities in the art of the seamstress. This arrangement affords us great enjoyment, along with our other friend and colleague, and further "making" days are in the offing in the run up to the festive season before it gets too busy.

Whilst the male guardian is once again at his professional toil,  I have ensured sufficient foodstuffs are stocked in the larder, delivered items to some charitable establishments, visited a most tempting hardware store, and undertaken the necessary housekeeping chores. I do so enjoy a clean and freshly aired home as you know, with beautifully fresh linen, glowing surfaces and a semblance of order. The fire is lit ready to welcome the male guardian home and lamps are ablaze to ensure an ambient atmosphere it which to relax after toiling the day. As I survey our little estate from the parlour, I am reminded of the beautiful poem by Keats, so perfectly atmospheric in its opening line when describing autumn as a "season of mists and mellow fruitfulness", a season of which I am inordinately fond. There have been a number of frosts in the mornings and glorious sunrises as I walk briskly to work, enjoying the farmland around me with the sound of the livestock abound. In the words of the song "Oh England, my lion heart"...

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Oh my, my......

My dears, I really am beside myself with shock. You may indeed ask why and, dear souls, if you had not noted it yourself, I will tell. Yester morn, the male guardian and I spent some time talking to the darling twin sister and her male guardian via the electronic technology (a most ingenious device, but that is another subject) and a fly away comment did make me start for, dear souls, 'tis but six weeks this very day til Christmas Eve. Why, I felt quite a frission of shock for t'as fair crept up' on me, stealthily below my festive radar and, one has to admit, momentarily, put me in a spin. Thankfully, dear souls, one is not apt to allow such a state to linger being more of a practical soul. Now that my dear parents are no longer here, and the family range far and wide, ''tis more a time to enjoy one's own traditions, give thanks for health and peace, giving to those less fortunate and enjoy some local celebratory rituals. I am a firm believer in the handwriting of festive cards, chosen for the recipients and sent in good time. There is nought so delightful than receiving a handwritten missive to make one feel a warm glow, most welcome in some of the more draughty establishments of my country friends and relatives. 

Christmas is, as is today, a time for remembrance, today being Rememberance Sunday, of those loved ones no longer with us. A time to remember the joys and sadness but to remember those who have gone before us, for there, dear souls, by the grace of god go we when ''tis our time. Take a moment today, especially, to remember, for remembrance is what keeps them alive. 

Thursday, 9 November 2017


Now, dear friends, one could be led to believe by the title of this missive, that one alludes to one's educational achievements but no, dear friends, 'tis reference to that which all crafters, be they a knitter or seamstress, are familiar. Such is the excitement for a crafter on espying a sumptuously spun fibre in the most becoming shade or a material of delectable weight and drape, that the current project can be cast asunder or momentarily aside, thus a PhD is achieved. A PhD in crafting circles is of course a "Project half done", of which I am sure, there are many across the continents. One can barely complete the first project before the next is being considered. Why, my dear colleagues and friends and I are in just such a position, for we do spend many an hour contemplating the next project and oh, what fun we do have. It does, however, add to the problem of the "stash". The stash is the squirrelling away of those desirable accoutrements for "the next project" be it yarn, fabric, haberdashery and so much more to be admired and considered at will. Enquire of any crafter and one would be suprised at the treasures this simple enquiry elicits, "stashed" away for the right project.  Now, one does where possible, try to keep oneself to a minimum, as for some, it can become an increasing problem with storage, thus, one attempts to be sensible. I do however, dear souls, have to confess to two such temptations recently of both yarn and fabric; the yarn being a delectable shade for my friend and colleague, and the fabric a very reasonable meterage which will be made into a little practical something to add to my wardrobe. One really cannot resist a bargain, my dears, and I am very fortunate indeed for the male guardian is most understanding of this habit, having one or two "hobbies" of his own. Therein lies the secret of a match made in heaven, do you not agree?

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Restoring Autumn order

Whilst the male guardian goes about his professional toil, I have taken the opportunity to gather up the apple harvest once again. This, my dears is not the first time since our return from the Antipodes. This collection alone resulted in some seven garden tubs and at least eight sturdy sacks; dear reader this was a small collection compared to those previously undertaken but one that allowed some produce to be left for the wildlife as the weather continues to cool, much to my delight. The harvest will be utilised by the local recycling centre in their garden compost/mulch, completing the cycle and reinforcing one's motto of "waste not want not".

Once this task had been undertaken, the boundaries of our little estate were reviewed. They required their autumn tidy and therefore this very afternoon saw me wielding a favourite piece of garden machinery to bring them back to their crisp, clean lines. Oh, I do so love a crisp, clean hedging line and one that forms uninterrupted views of the surrounding countryside in its autumn finery of fiery golds, reds, greens and oranges. Such a beautiful site to behold. In return for trimming both our own and our neighbours sides of the hedge, the resulting debris will be placed upon our neighbours bonfire to be lit at their leisure,  for which I am most grateful and indeed suitably fitting for a believer in the motto "quid pro quo", do you not agree? The added bonus, of course, dear souls, is the gloriously evocative aroma of an autumn bonfire - what is not to like one asks oneself.

What satisfyingingly tiring work this is, one that creates a rosy glow upon the cheeks and ensures a good nights sleep will be had. I am most fond of work like this for I firmly believe it to be wonderful for the constitution and a happy, healthy mind.

Thus, the autumn tidy has begun and for many a weekend ahead, weather permitting, we will continue to cut, trim, rake and more, preparing the garden once more for the eternal cycle of renewal. I have, however, dear reader, ensured that the finest selection of ivy, holly and greenery remains in situ for the festive season for what else would one use to decorate one's small country home in suitably traditional finery; a must my dears, for any country dweller.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

Fine blends and Russian Caravan

How could I forget, dear souls, to tell you about a most delightful establishment that my dear friends and colleagues and I did espy during our trip to Bath last weekend; so very tardy and for which I apologise. Now, as you may well remember, I am oft to comment on a fine blend of tea or indeed fresh coffee, both of which I am inordinately fond. It was whilst we were in the Antipodes recently that I was fortunate to be introduced to, sample and, greatly enjoy, a fine blend of tea called Russian Caravan. It is, one must comment, not everyone's cup of tea, for it has a smokey flavour that some literally cast asunder; dear reader, what is not to like. So taken was I with this fine blend that I looked to purchase some whilst there to bring home. Alas, a national shortage thwarted these attempts and I came away empty handed and bereft of said tea. My dear Antipodean relatives did, however, most generously send me home with the most exquisite receptacle for brewing my own restorative cup of tea, with two of the most beautiful fine china cups from which to enjoy it - they really are things of beauty and, if I say so myself, quite something to behold.

Home once more and intent upon purchasing my necessary haberdashery, I fair walked straight past this fine purveyors of tea and coffee, only to double back with alacrity as I caught sight of the many caddies of tea, and coffee, advertising all manner of flavour. Well, when my eyes alighted on this gloriously named blend, my heart fair skipped a beat. Dear reader, before one could say 
"Mr Robinson" I had purchased two tidily wrapped packages of Russian Caravan tea; one for me and one to wing its way across the water for the Antipodeans whilst they experience their national shortage and to go some way t'ward replenishing their badly dented supply of which I readily partook. Gillards of Bath reside in the covered market and really are worth a look. I found the lady there most charming, knowledgeable and helpful; they are certainly to be marked on the map for a return visit, dear friends.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Friendship and hard work

I am most fortunate, dear souls, in having a small select number of friends whom I have made along the way in my career and in whom I find great joy, for they are open and honest and, more importantly, such genuinely lovely people.  This very weekend I had the delight of taking the locomotive with two such ladies to the charming city of Bath whilst the male guardian went about his professional toil. We met, as arranged,  at an early hour and walked to the station. The journey itself was short and oh, how we chattered along the way for this is the first, we hope, of many such days. We had gone with the express intent of purchasing the necessary haberdashery for our next dressmaking project. On arrival, a warming drink and a little tasty something set us up for a day of looking, reviewing and buying. We walked around Bath in search of the necessary requisites until, tired by our efforts, we partook of a light lunch to restore ourselves and consider our purchases. My dears, we did have such fun and laughter, made all the more delightful by the ease of companionship and a shared interest in ensuring that we all enjoyed ourselves. The journey home was taken with consideration and forward planning for our next day of sewing, something enjoyable to look forward to on the calendar. 

The clocks have turned back an hour overnight and thus the male guardian and I took the opportunity to rise early and undertake the necessary gathering of grocery requisites for the week ahead, planning meals and stocking the larder. That undertaken, the day was spent in catching up with laundry, chores and generally maintaining our home and small estate. As dusk began to arrive, we have battened down the hatches and begun to enjoy the darker evenings. A delightful homemade supper, and an evening of rest and recuperation is in store for us. The periodicals, a fine blend of coffee and a square or two of a dark intense chocolate is just the way to end an enjoyable weekend, do you not agree.

Friday, 27 October 2017

The winds of change

Well, dear souls, the weather has once again ensured that the favourite topic of conversation upon this green and pleasant island remains the same, for it has been incredibly warm of late. Today there has been a faint glimmer of  change with a cooler feel to the air albeit with a bright blue sky and sunshine. This very night we are expecting a single figure temperature, borne out by a clear sky and twinkling stars. So very exciting, with the smell of woodsmoke upon the air, a fragrance I am, my dears, inordinately fond of. There is nought so delightful than a deep warm bed, snuggled down, in the depths of the bedding on a cold winters night - such a gloriously luxurious and decadent feeling.

Do you not just adore these preparations for autumn and winter, dear friends. The garden is trimmed and tidied, bonfires lit and harvests gathered. The home is battened down, chimneys swept, log stores checked and the larder is surveyed to ensure the essentials are gathered in. Why, even our wardrobes undergo change, moving from light, loose garments to warmer, layered ensembles to trap warmth. Being an amateur knitter,  I do so love to see hand crafted garments lovingly crafted. 

The clocks change this weekend thus the male guardian and I will luxuriate in that extra hour, particularly if the temperature has dropped and the autumn bedding replaces the lightweight summer ensemble. Such delights to look forward to.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Refresh and revamp

Well, dears souls, all too soon we have slipped back in to the routine of our professional toil after such a glorious time away. For many years, the male Guardian and I have willingly kept our noses, as the saying goes, firmly to the grindstone however I do believe, my dears, that it has done us the world of good to step off of the treadmill of life for that short period and, whilst whole heartedly enjoying oneself, take time to contemplate and consider. I do believe that it has recharged the batteries but, most interestingly, given me a refreshed standpoint to review that which I do and those around me both in my personal and professional lives. Update and refresh is the new motto, with fresh eyes and a clearer perspective after such a delightful time away.

After some charitable works at the beginning of the weekend, the male guardian and I have spent a quiet time catching up with those essential chores and enjoying our home. As the clock ticks t'ward the winter season we are also undertaking the essential estate garden review. After the last few blustery days, much of the harvest has dropped to the orchard floor, thus affording us a nigh unfettered view of the crowns of the trees. After much consideration,  we have come to the conclusion that the orchard requires a revamp, therefore, the winter will see us warmly clad, long loppers and fine blades apiece, trimming the orchard back to basics. We last did this when we arrived at the estate many years ago and have been rewarded threefold; all the more reason, my dears, to step once more unto the breach, as it were. 

The days are fast becoming shorter and, indeed, next weekend the clocks will turn back an hour plunging us in to darker evenings when sadly, nought can be achieved outside on our return from our professional toils each day. The season that good old Blighty hunkers down and relishes. Thus far we are fortunate that the weather has remained temperate despite November fast approaching, no doubt to surprise us at some point with a nip in its tail. 

Monday, 16 October 2017

There and back again....

Well, dear souls, we have returned from our travels abroad after three glorious weeks away from our professional toils and oh, my dears, what a break. We ventured forth once more to the Antipodes to visit my darling twin sister and partner, having last travelled thus far some eighteen or so years ago. Alas, the journey itself has not changed and is long, if not tedious, but the joy in reaching our destination with loved ones waiting is second to none. We travelled further, long in to the night to reach their estate but it really was quite a destination; a beautiful estate, set above an estuary with acres of land  to enjoy, grow vegetables, garden, swim, play and generally enjoy life and, my dears, how we did for nigh on three glorious weeks of sunny, warm bliss. Dear reader, it was a holiday that restored one's equilibrium. We laughed, ate, enjoyed the countryside in a variety of ways, worked on the vast garden, took visits away from the estate and laughed some more. One cannot tell of the fun and joy of a holiday with like minded people intent on enjoying life to its fullest. 

During the holiday we learnt to kayak and spent many hours enjoying this new found pleasure made possible by our hosts purchasing two kayaks for us, such a generous gesture and one that gave us such delightful experiences. On our very first day out on the water the male guardian found himself in the midst of a pod of six dolphins leaping around him - my dears, we were delighted beyond belief, the stuff of dreams and memories. On a further trip out we spied a sting ray enjoying the weather, oystercatchers, pelicans, parakeets, and so much more. Oh the joy of experiencing life on the water.

We were most delighted to meet the fur cousins of our beloved Lucy and Jinks. My dears, what a delightful couple, so similar to our own dear boy and girl, with such beautiful markings and colouration. It was a joy to meet them at last.

The trip reiterated the importance of a life well lead with enjoyment in the simple things in life, a maxim I would like to hope that we all live by, dear souls.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Harvest moon

Dear souls, what a busy time we have been having of late, why it has been really quite something. We have spent time gardening, clearing general debris, shredding large quantities of garden waste, and of course cutting wood for the log store. I have had the delightful opportunity to test a variety of garden machinery including a very useful and desirable small tractor and a very large, efficient chipper/shredding machine that makes the most practical type of mulch but, alas, whilst most exciting to test drive and deliberate over, they really are for those with much larger acreage to maintain, me thinks. It has to be said that I do enjoy a nice piece of garden equipment to assist in the maintenance of our small estate but one must, my dears, be practical for one could spend one's fortune on such items only to use them rarely which would really not be the ticket, dear souls, now would it. 

As summer has turned to autumn for us, the Antipodeans are seeing the start of spring, much to their delight. They too are spending time on their somewhat larger estate, in much the same way as ourselves. They are most fortunate to be accompanied by their own delightful furry companions, who keep an eye on the standard of work and generally ensure that all is well. As we enjoy the flora and fauna that surround us, so too do the Antipodeans and much comparing and contrasting is had around the differing varieties we each encounter during our everyday lives. Last evening, the Antipodeans did enjoy a most beautiful full harvest moon and we have had the delightful spectacle of some photographs shared with us to enjoy of them "holding" the moon in their hands - oh how we did laugh, my dears at the antics and the trickery of a well positioned stance and good photography, as well as appreciating the full beauty of a glorious harvest moon.

As we head towards winter, it is moments such as these that will give a glow of warm happiness and shared laughter over the fun and simple enjoyment to be had in life despite the differing continents, half a world apart. We do so hope that you too are taking every opportunity that you can to laugh and enjoy life to its fullest, however simple or mundane the activity.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Time to stand and stare....

We have, my dears, spent the last few days in the company of others, something the male guardian and I are not oft to do. Some were new to us, and others well known to us, but it has been a most entertaining time. We are always quite amazed at the behaviours that are portrayed in life's rich microcosm, some good, some not so good and some positively quite amazing. Despite spending our professional lives amongst "the general public", it never ceases to amaze us at the twists and turns that are elicited from half an hour of observation of the general populace. Why, my dears, it really has been spectacularly spectacular. We are now once again in the homely bosom of what we consider to be normal country living upon the small estate. We have observed the natural flora and fauna as we walk the boundaries and taken walks amidst the countryside as well as close to water, and how very entertaining and enjoyable it has proved, greeting our fellow man with a friendly acknowledgment or smile. We have taken time to "sniff the roses" as it were and enjoy some time together, eat good food, take the country air and importantly, enjoy the company of one's loved ones -something that is all too easily forgotten in the maelstrom of life. Time, is indeed, passing by and yet it is all too easy to forget the importance of life itself, rushing headforth through it without a consideration for the minutiae that makes it rich and fulsome. In the words of Scott Taylor " One day at a time - this is enough. Do not look back and grieve over the past for it is gone; do not be troubled about the future, for it has yet to come. Live in the present, and make it so beautiful it will be worth remembering". We are, dear souls,  endeavouring to live by these beautiful words, enjoying each day as it arises and embracing it wholeheartedly. We are, by nature, homely people and take enjoyment in simple pleasures; the fresh smell of the countryside after rain, the warmth of the sun our skin, a fine cup of English tea or good coffee, a tasty morsel or two to titillate the tastebuds, a good book or the excitement of new, as yet, uncharted waters. What is not to like, dear souls. We are endeavouring to live life to its fullest within our time and, oh my, how we do enjoy ourselves for laughter is indeed the best medicine and there is much of this as we steadily tread our chosen path. We do so hope that you join us in our endeavours to enjoy a long and simply fulsome life of joy and laughter. 

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Prolific produce

Dear souls, it is apple season and we find ourselves awash with a glorious variety of apples. Red stripes, pink blushes, pale green, darker green, some large, some small and somewhere in between. Oh, what a bountiful harvest we have, my dears. If an apple a day keeps the Doctor away, I can only hope we are reaping just rewards with our prolific consumption of such sweet, juicy fruit. Who does not love home grown produce, fresh from the garden, so deeply delicious, my dears. The added bonus from this bountiful harvest is the birds, bees and butterflies, as well as some stunningly beautiful dragonflies that visit the garden. We are so very fortunate, dear reader, to witness this spectacle. Nature at its best. 

The practice garment for my friend and colleague has been knitted, sewn together and tried on. Oh, the joy of a garment that fits well and the recipient is delighted with. Dear souls, one can breathe again. Now, the garment can be tweaked for personal preference; colour, texture and finishing details, all those delightful elements that make a garment. I am, dear souls, in debt to my friend and colleague, for in the time I have taken to knit one garment she has produced several garments for our little band of crafters. I am quite determined to pay my dues with my softly spun woollen currency. The response of my friend and colleague to an item that is bespoke and fits her well is music to my ears, as well as her enthusiasm for a reciprocal item being a joy to behold. 

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Ethereal autumn beginings

Hm, I do believe, my dears, that the temperature early this very morn was just 5 degrees. There was indeed a more chill air abound and the most beautiful, ethereal low lying mist. As the sun rose above the horizon the colours of the countryside were noted to be changing; whilst still largely green and verdant there is a slow creep of golden hues upon the horizon. Oh, how I do love the colours of autumn and the freshness to the air that invigorates one. Why by 9 am I had been out in the carriage, completed my business, returned and had a fine line of washing upon the line. The day has continued apace with the laundry freshly ironed and packed away, the house full of fresh crisp air and every nook and cranny dust free and ship shape.

The upstairs bathroom has been looking a little tired of late and thus, with the chores complete and my business for the day concluded, I have proceeded to put a fresh lick of paint upon the walls. I am really rather pleased with the new colour and shall delight in the finished decor in due course for it compliments the tiles more readily than the previous colour; quite delightful , my dears, quite delightful. 

After our little foray into the world of art and the artist last week we have had to, ahem, rearrange our existing small collection to accommodate a few small works. I know, dear friends, but one really does have to support the local artistic community and, it has to be said, what is not to like for a few well executed and chosen pieces of art really do become a home. Home, after all, really is where the heart is, do you not agree, my dears?

Saturday, 9 September 2017

10 Parishes Festival

Well, my dears, it is the beginning, this very day, of a most glorious event called the "10 Parishes Festival", with the Somerset Arts Week following hot on its heels later in the month.  Now, as I am sure you are aware, the male guardian and I do so appreciate those talented individuals who paint, pot, sew, sculpt or the like for a living. Indeed, I do so envy their talent but am realistic to the limits of mine own. These two events showcase some truly talented artist, some established, some just beginning but so worth a little peruse. Thus, we oft find ourselves during this time taking the carriage, or if close to our own locality, walking out with the intent of spending a little time appreciating the fine talents of these artistic people who open their homes, barns, galleries or indeed, garages to the general public to showcase their talents. I do so love a little viewing; what is not to like, my dears, on a Saturday or Sunday, taking time out of one's busy life to appreciate the fruits of another's labour. It does so remind me of the poem, "What is this life, so full of care, we have no time to stand and stare" (WH Davies); what better way to embody these words than in appreciating a painterly representation of nature or the like. Delightful, quite delightful. I do so hope you have the opportunity to take the time to "stand and stare" as I fully intend to do so over the months of September and October, both very rich in artistic talent in these neck of the woods.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Glorious art

This very eve the male guardian and I have enjoyed a glorious time spent at a private view of a local artist who resides minutes from our small estate. We are most fortunate to be well served in the locality with some very talented individuals indeed and therefore 'tis always a joy to spend time appreciating fine works. The scenes are a variety of views both local and national and oh, how glorious they were. Dear me, the heart was torn for I do find it most difficult to resist fine art. I am most keen to support local artists but find the number and variety really quite overwhelming. Sadly, one also has to consider the small matter of space, for I have gathered a small but personally aesthetic selection of local art. Such conundrums, dear friends.

Once again, colour, texture and the various mediums excite me.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Oh my, what fun

Dear souls, I have had such a wonderful day of crafting. My two friends and colleagues have spent the day with me happily making things together, one teacher, two students, and oh, what a day it has been. My gifted seamstress friend bought along a dress she had made for me in quite the most delectable of fabric and colour - why, my dears, I was quite overcome with joy, not least because of the exemplary craftsmanship that had gone into the making of said garment, it really is quite exquisite. As my other friend and I completed our simple dresses, my seamstress friend proceeded to not only tutor us but produce a most becoming linen t-shirt dress in quite the most delectable checked fabric; her talents have no end, my dears. The dresses we have produced ourselves have been crafted with many new skills learnt along the way, from the correct way to press a garment in the making to overstitching a seam for a professional finish. Oh, what fun with beautiful savoury scones and fresh coffee to refresh ourselves. What a glorious day, why I really have enjoyed myself, my dears.

The cropped cardigan is coming on apace, with the back completed and the left front commenced. Indeed, the garment was sufficiently advanced to show my seamstress friend who also admired it and is currently choosing a colour for herself. Quid pro quo at its best, one crafted garment for another. I really am so delighted that I am in some way able to return the favour.

Monday, 28 August 2017

August Bank Holiday weekend

Sadly, my dears, the male guardian is once again at toil however we have had one day together and the mornings to enjoy the amazingly clement Bank Holiday weekend before he sets off in the carriage. Just as I talk of autumn, the sun blazes forth from its hiding place and blasts us with temperatures up to 26 degrees. We have utilised the mornings to take time in the garden before the male guardian must leave, and then, when the hottest hours of the day have passed, I have spent time tidying the garden with a number of mechanised tools. Oh, how I do enjoy a piece of garden machinery, it makes one's life so much easier. Not that I am a shirker, you understand, for I am more than happy to wield a spade, shears or an axe like the next person, however, I am realistic in the use of time and some of these well chosen pieces make light work of some of the larger, heavier jobs. I am sure the gardening contingent amongst you will agree.

There has been a huge flurry upon the farms around us with the onset of  that rare commodity "sunshine" and tractors are abound from dawn to dusk, a sound I am most inordinately fond of. I am happy to idle in my carriage, strategically tucked in to a hedgerow as a tractor wends its way t'ward the farm laden with harvest. A wise move, dear friends, for they are larger than I and I would not like to meet them head on as I fear I may come off worse. A cheery wave is all I ask in return for the courtesy. 

Whilst the male guardian toils, I have returned to the stash of wool my late mother kept in preparation of knitting me a cardigan. Sadly, it never reached fruition but I kept it knowing that at some point I would utilise it. Well, my dears, I have begun a small project of a light, late summer/early autumn cropped cardigan in a most becoming sage green. I am sure you are familiar with the type of garment  I allude to, light enough to take the edge off a crisp breeze, yet warm enough to enjoy being outside without heavy encumbrance. My mother and I chose the original pattern and colour together and whilst I am as yet unable to execute the pattern she would have undertaken, I have chosen one with elements the same,  of a complexity I will be able to complete - might I suggest you take that to mean "easy" as opposed to "complex" in any way, dear souls, for I am nothing if not realistic in my abilities as a knitter. There is enough wool to undertake this, and maybe a little besides. This project is dear to my heart because we chose it together but will also serve me well, for if executed to a good standard, may be the garment I reproduce for my esteemed seamstress friend in return for her guidance in the needle and thread department. Now, what is there not to like about that, my dears. 

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Sights and sounds of the country.....

As I write this missive, the sounds of the harvest being gathered abounds as the farmer wields his tractor to gather the bales. The sun is shining, the cows in the next field are heads down, enjoying the sun warmed grass and all around is dappled in sunlight. The last few days have been warm and bright in true summer style, with a cooler feel to the morning  and evening, a tell tale sign that we are edging t'ward autumn. Oh, how I do love mornings like this, waking to the sound of the countryside, with the smell of harvest in the air. The pigeons are cooing and the geese fly over intermittently with their distinct honking call echoing as they fly in their "V" formations; such a beautiful sight and sound. Our days are paced by the sounds of ripened apples thudding to the ground as birds alight from the branches. It is a joyous, plentiful time of year and busyness abounds as we prepare the harvest for the colder months.

The male guardian and I spent yesterday outside in light of the good weather; he wielding a paintbrush on the many windows and I wielding a most delightful hedgecutting machine. The windows required the coat of protection to be updated in preparation for the seasons to come and the yew hedge it's annual trim to keep it in fine condition. The hedgecutting machine is a most delightful thing for it has replaced the hand shears previously used and oh my, my how much easier a job it is now. It is a light and easy wielded piece and I am inordinately fond of it. I am also most proud of the yew hedge, protecting the bulk of the garden from inclement weather, standing proud and tall in crisply shaped finery.  

We were most delighted yesterday to receive a missive via the postal service from the Australias - such excitement I cannot tell, to receive an actual card in the post. Whilst I have taken to the electronic system like the proverbial duck to water, there is nought so delightful as a hand written something being delivered to one's home. We were most pleased to receive it and trust the reciprocal item is received in due course across the waters. 

The bells have begun to ring calling the faithful to church as the farmer gathers his harvest; sounds  so resonant of history through the years in these parts, as in many others. Another joyous day begins.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Such delightful fun....

My dears,  I have had such fun with my friends and colleagues for on Sunday last the three of us gathered for a day of learning, cutting, stitching, laughter and, of course, a garment, near completion. Why friends, I cannot remember such a delightfully fun and educational day for my friend is a very good teacher indeed. My other friend and I were duly instructed in the art of fabrics, cutting, familiarised with our machines and sewing techniques. Oh my, my, there is much to learn but, thankfully, my dear wise friend had planned a project that would allow us to produce a simple well made garment very quickly but also, wet our appetites for more. Well, the appetites have been well and truly wetted, indeed one could say that we have been positively salivating over the vast choice of fabrics available - we are like children and a sweet shop, our noses firmly pressed against the glass unable to make a choice from the selection arrayed before us. Oh, such delightful choices, so much potential; our dear friend is gently guiding us t'ward sensible choices at the correct level of complexity for our fledgling abilities and thus a garment nears completion much to both of our delights. It is a joy to learn a new and practical skill; who knows what delights await us, dear souls. I  am, however, most realistic to the fact that I have much to learn and am more than happy to be guided by my learned friend. A garment near completion and another on the needles, why, a positive ensemble emerges, my dears.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Colour and texture

Oh my, my, dear reader, the simple pleasure that colour and texture can elicit in me really is something to behold. I have spent an enjoyable few days immersed in just this and oh, the choice. Why, one's mind is all a dither for I have reviewed the full colour spectrum and how happy it makes me is beyond belief. Discussions about weight and colour, drape and texture have filled my mind for both material and yarn. Then, my dears, it is the consideration of season, for it is a most imortant aspect when considering a project. Not only are there these elements to scrutinise but also that of shape and form. Dearie me, so much to consider but so interesting to see the requirements of a garment, be it in yarn or material, that are generalisable to the two different mediums. At this fledging stage of my dressmaking ability my favoured maxim is "simple is as simple does" and I have therefore listened most ardently to my experienced friend when purchasing material for a little project. At the same time I have been scrutinising many a pattern to ascertain exactly the requirements of a reciprocal garment for my friend - such excitement dear souls.

It has been reported in the daily news bulletins that this has not our best British summer for some time. We had the brief spell of over thirty degrees and thereafter it has been rather wet, although one has to say, still warm in my opinion although, to be fair,  this is not perhaps the best milestone from which to judge being rather prone to the heat and preferring the cooler months. Whilst harvest began early it was stalled by the weather and I fear that t'is not the best year for the farming community with poor crop yields.  Alas, one's livelihood is be rather dependent on the weather as a farmer.

The orchard continues to flourish and the male guardian enjoys plums straight from the tree and juicy early eaters (apples). We are nearing a most prolific time of year and much work will start shortly on harvesting any crops not susceptible to the wet. We do hope you fare a little better than I fear the farmers will do locally

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Home baking......

Today, dear friends, was a baking day; a day to weigh and measure, beat, roll, stir and mix to the sound of Mozart playing gently in the background. There was pleasure in bringing together wet and dry ingredients, "sugar and spice and all things nice" as the saying goes. As you may remember, the male guardian is, ahem, slightly fond of a little sugar now and then and, in times gone by, I would bake every week but had latterly gotten out of the habit. Occasionally, I have a day where the male guardian is at his professional toil throughout a weekend and I take the opportunity to produce a little something to titillate the tastebuds. Often very simple, such as a Victoria sandwich or sticky ginger cake but enough to enjoy with fresh coffee and the periodicals, and, if we are lucky (and the male guardian does not cosume it all in two sittings), a tasty morsel or two for a day or so after it has been baked. On other occasions, when the tastebuds require something savoury, I turn to cheese scones, for we are inordinately fond of cheese scones for what is there not to like and, it has to be said,  my personal preference for scones. Once the chores of the day are complete there is nought so pleasurable than a fine cup of freshly brewed coffe and a slice of cake or a cheese scone to replenish ones energy levels, do you not agree? 

Since completing the woollen garments bound for the Australias, my mind has been contemplating the next project. I have to say, dear reader, I am a little excited, and yet a little nervous, as in return for a day spent tutoring me in the art of dress making, I have offered to knit one of my dear friends and colleagues a garment in return. Now, it has to be said, there is one thing to knit for family but quite another to do so for others, especially as said person is THE most amazing seamstress. I only hope I can live up to her own example BUT, fair is fair and t'will be done for I am a firm believer in the Latin saying "quid pro quo". With this in mind, I am currently scrutinising yarn and patterns in preparation, for it will be a delightful discussion to be had. Despite one of us being fair haired and t'other red haired, we share a similar colour palette and my friend has a clear eye for colour so it should be a good romp through colour, texture and pattern - what is not to like, dear souls.

Saturday, 12 August 2017


Oh such joy, my dears, for I have completed the two items of clothing now bound for the Australias. I am so pleased and delighted and I do so hope the recipients are too. I do so enjoy making and giving, such simple pleasures in life. My next exciting project awaits me, as yet undecided, but I do not believe it will be long before another garment is on the needles. 

Today has been a glorious day for airing the house and letting in the air, lines of washing have flapped in the breeze, curtains stirred at the windows and the glorious scent of the countryside pervaded our little home. The swallows swooped and swirled, twittered and tweeted and gloried in the air currents - such an amazing sight to behold. 

The little orchard is heavy with fruit and the little striped, red early eaters are so crisp, sweet and delicious. Later they will be followed by the cookers and then the glorious red orbs that keep so long that we enjoy them well into spring if stored well. We are so fortunate indeed to be the keepers of this little old orchard.  

Friday, 11 August 2017

Nearly there...

I am delighted to say, dear friends, that I am currently employed on the final leg of the gansey project for the Australian contingent of the family. The second garment is in the final "finishing" process and will soon be complete. I am quite delighted that both garments will shortly begin their journey t'ward the Australias. It has been a labour of love and I am most pleased for I am not an experienced knitter and have learnt new techniques along the way to add to my repertoire. It is such a delightful craft and I am enjoying the challenge but more importantly I find it most satisfying to see the various garments worn by the recipients. I am by no means in the league of my dear late Mother, for she was a knitter of many years experience and oft find myself wishing that I was still able to seek her advice on the more intricate complexities of the craft. All is not lost however for I will persevere in my endeavours and am most fortunate to be able to tap into some very experienced and creative people for all things woollen and knitterly - such fun, dear souls, such fun. I do so hope they are well received and fit the intended recipients, having had to use the male guardian as my model during the process which has been so very helpful. Time will tell my dears, time will tell.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

All in a good cause....

As described in my previous missive, the male guardian and I have been sorting, clearing and tidying.   
Many, many things have been repurposed and perhaps the most heartwarming is the one for the local animal charity. Oh my dears how hard it was to see so many delightful creatures requiring homes but we are safe in the knowledge that everything received will be used to fund care and attention for animals in need. Why, even the wool will be made into animal blankets by a willing band of volunteers and I have no doubt that the odd blanket will be crafted to join the donations from my own stash, for one cannot resist a good animal cause. 

Maintenance of our little home continues apace with more internal and external decorating complete.
In the latest electronic missive from the Australias we have heard that the Australian contingent of the family are employed in much the same, maintenance and gardening as well as harvesting of crops for the larder. As we begin the journey t'ward Autumn, they begin the journey t'ward spring; the ever revolving cycle of seasons following the earths revolutions, so reassuring in their consistency. 

''Tis a full and beautiful moon this very evening, a glorious shining orb in an inky sky - such beauty to admire and walk in the cool night air, bats swooping and foxes calling, the scurrying of small creatures underfoot as we partake of the glorious sweet and cool night air. As the nights begin to draw in at an earlier hour the temperature drops, all the better for sleep, cool dreamless sleep.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

"A place for everything and everything in its place"

With the completion of the recent works on our little home, the male guardian and I have been looking afresh at our home. As the years have gone by, we have been the recipients of many items, some wanted or dearly desired and some not quite so desired, when it is perhaps not in the kindest or politest of moments to decline those items pressed upon one, as I am sure many of you can also attest.   It was with a gimlet eye we have been reassessing the contents of our home. Being thrifty, we have also stored many items for those "just in case" times that never arrive. We have therefore, dear readers, been acquainting ourselves with many a local charity or thrift shop, as well as delivering items such as old towels and blankets to the animal charities and local vets who have been most grateful for the donations, never having enough of said items. It has, my dears, been both cathartic and great fun for the house now seems to have space to breath and we have had the opportunity to revisit times through photographs and items that remind one of snippets throughout one's life; photographs, birth/marriage and death certificates, items passed down through families and more. As well as these, we have culled items that we ourselves have introduced, plus the everyday detritus that can accumulate if left unchecked. The poor recycling gentleman have also been busy on our behalf for much paperwork has been reviewed and, that which is not relevant, has been discarded. We have utilised the oft used maxim "a place for everything and everything in its place" to assist our efforts; such sensible advice, dear friends,  as true today as when first uttered in the 17th Century, although I do believe there are a number of people who are associated with the first declaration.

As we move in to the month of August, this year feels like a "doing" year; completing works, sorting out, moving on and planning for times ahead. Before we began, it all seemed a little daunting but, my dears, now we have started it has been such fun. I do so enjoy a job well done for, as the saying goes "if a jobs is worth doing, it's worth doing well".

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

The Great British summer weather..

Well, we did need a little rain and, oh my dears, how it was delivered upon us last evening. The forecast for yesterday predicted a plentiful downpour with weather warnings declared. As the evening wore on the air became evermore humid then, at one am, preceded by the loudest crack of thunder, the heavens did open and the deluge commenced with glorious lightning to accompany the tympanic beat of the rain upon our roof structures. Thrumming and drumming through the night, the ground drank that which poured forth, thirsty for water. This morn as, I set off for my professional toil, the landscape around our small estate was lush and verdant from the nights weather. Today has seen a repeat performance of humidity and quite the largest drops of warm rain bursting forth from the heavens down upon me as I arrived home for the day. Dear souls, it really was most refreshing and one has to confess to lingering a while in the estate gardens to appreciate it all the more after a hot, busy day spent in toil. What a foil to the day, surrounded by green lush foliage and washed in warm rain - I cannot put in to words the joy at the fresh breeze. I really am quite adamant, dear reader, that there is nought so enjoyable in returning to one's sanctuary at the end of the day to appreciate the fresh air and beautiful countryside we live in, whatever the weather.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Scented alchemy..

The smell of something can be so evocative it can recreate instances as though transported in time. I remember, as a child, visiting an old house in which there was a delightful set of rooms so unbelievably British with leather wing back chairs, wood smoke, old books and the lingering scent of wood polish. The family, grandparents to a school chum, lived in a delightful rambling home where dogs and cats roamed, with the homely smell of baking and laughter were ever present. I do believe, dear reader, that  we have recreated that scent of homeliness in our own small cottage, albeit aided by the presence of a rather delightful smokey scented candle, leather furniture and good old fashioned beeswax polish. How it does transport me, my dears. We are most fortunate to be able to purchase the most alluring of scented candles made fairly locally; not one for over sweet or cloying scents, I find myself in a minority it would appear, in a fondness for the smokier, woodier, chypre type candle. The male guardian and I were recently intent on purchasing one such candle at a well known department store. On asking if they stocked the more "masculine" type one prefers, the assistant exclaimed at finally meeting one of the "strange" people who liked said type of candle, stating they smelt awful. Why, my dears, the male guardian and I really found this most amusing indeed, and had quite the little joke with the two assistants, reminding them, with tongue firmly wedged in one's cheek, that "the customer is always right". Dear souls, how we all laughed and how delightful to reaffirm that no two people are alike. It is with great joy that I am still able to purchase my favourite scented candles as well as be reassured that, in the words of Lucretieus, "One man's meat is another man's poison". Clearly, as apt today as it was all those years ago.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Made in Great Britain....

Such excitement, my dears, for delivery of the long awaited sofa has arrived and oh, my, my, what a sofa. We are most delighted that it is British made and showcases the quite extraordinary craftsmanship available within our very own shores. Well worth the wait and diligent financial management to ensure a piece that one hopes will stay the course. The history of the company highlights a pedigree of supplying many a quality establishment with such pieces therefore we feel sure it was a wise choice, only time indeed will tell.

As I ponder on its fine lines, I have considered the wares we use within our home and am delighted with being able to showcase some further examples of fine British craftsmanship; utilitarian articles such as everyday pottery ware from both British and Scottish artisans, fine woollen items from Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales, bedsteads and mattresses, logburner, baskets, material, why even my wooden spoons and kitchen ware - all from the four countries that make us truly Great Britain. How I do love that, as I look around my small home, craftsmen and women from the four corners of this great country have added to the character of it, diligently working to produce fine or utilitarian pieces that contribute. Why even the wool that I use to fashion the woollen garments I oft allude to, is British. My dears, my little heart is swollen with pride as I am sure is yours, whatever country you hail from, when you see the diligence of your fellow countrymen or women set out before you. 

With that thought, dear friends, I feel the necessity for a fine cup of English Tea to celebrate.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Thump, thump, thump.........

Oh my dears,  I am so excited for the harvest has begun. The combine harvester arrived mid morning and so it began and still continues. Accompanied by grain tractors, up and down the field they go, the two grain tractors racing to and fro to collect the harvest. They have been joined by that most delightful piece of machinery, the baleing  machine. Oh, how I do so love the sound of the baler, thump, thump, thump, spewing perfectly formed golden bales in its wake. Clouds of birds rise and fall across the field, gathering their free meal as they go. I have given a cheery wave to the combine accompanied by the most widest of grins; they are used to me watching them, smile in place each year, delighted by the cyclical farming year marking my calendar. A full moon is anticipated tonight, better to appreciate the changing landscape surrounding us.

All change....

At last, dear friends, we are on the homeward straight and await the last tradesman for some minor adjustments to the room we have been refurbishing. We are inordinately pleased with the result, all the more for knowing it will be warm and snug through the winter months. There is something delightfully pleasing on seeing the results of upheaval suddenly turned into a place of warmth and comfort; my dear late father would certainly be most pleased that it was finally completed for it was not perhaps his favourite room in the house, it has to be said, for it had a tendency to be somewhat cool. Why, I can almost see him looking down upon us with a beaming smile upon his face, dear reader. 

We have also taken the opportunity to have the airing cupboard doors replaced whilst we had the relevant tradesman with us and oh, what a fine job he has done indeed, customising them to suit our little home. They have replaced a rather tardy set of doors that we inherited which really were not suited to the job in hand, having buckled with the warmth of the airing cupboard and did wax and wane in quite the most annoying way. I had long abandoned the hope that they would ever shut properly, my dears. The new customised doors really are a thing of utilitarian beauty that appeals to my simplistic eye and more importantly shut properly and firmly, much to my delight.

As part of the upgrade, we have been looking for a "new" sofa. The male guardian and I have always believed in upcycling thus when my dear late parents offered us a most serviceable sofa when downsizing, we eagerly snapped it up. This most solid piece of furniture was bought at one of those delightful of furniture auctions when I was a mere sapling and had been in their possession for some years. Grateful for such a finely made piece of furniture, I set about recovering it, and reader it has lasted the male guardian and I for over twenty years (already having been bought at auction and owned by my parents for many a year). Sadly it was decided earlier this year, as we sank ever lower in to the upholstery with spent springs abound, that it 'twas perhaps time to consider a replacement. My dears, what a minefield. I keenly searched for another second hand piece, hopeful to upcycle as ever. It is, dear reader, incredibly hard to find a well made resilient piece that one hopes one will buy and not have to replace in ones lifetime; a piece that is not a nod to fashion nor throw away as much appears to be, but a solid, well made piece of furniture that will stand the test of time such as that we had been fortunate to be given many years earlier. After months spent searching, we took the long considered option of looking at a new piece. Those who know the male guardian and I, know that this is not taken lightly and much research, checking, testing and considering is undertaken. At last, dear souls, a choice was made. The establishment visited on a number of occasions, sat on, bounced on, indeed almost turned inside and out, specifications discussed (for one is able to make a number of personal amendments to the specifications) and discussions had. Finally, a decision made and we eagerly await the piece, delivery imminent after being made in the workshop of the chosen establishment. It is a classic, solid piece of furniture that we hope will stand the test of time and the rigours of daily life. 

So much has happened in this first half of the year, why I do believe I am quite exhausted by it all, my dears. 

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Fields of gold...

Dear souls, it has to be said that the peak of the summer months are not perhaps my personal favourite time of year due to an aversion to heat, however, I hold a strong aesthetic appreciation of the changing landscape around our little country home and beyond. The fields abutting the estate have turned from the acid green of spring to the darker green of early summer and now, with glorious sunshine abound, to the rich, ripe colour of gold preparing to be harvested. It is such a beautiful spectacle with the crops creating waves in the breeze like a golden sea before me, such a joyous sight. The smell of ripened crops is really quite a delicious fragrance unless of course one is afflicted with hay fever, when one is not quite so enraptured, me thinks. Once deemed ready, the harvesting tractor will cut swathes through the crops as a ship on the sea, with cut crops spewing behind as if a golden wake. Crop dust billows and all around us will be engulfed in the rich aroma and birds will follow in its swathed path in hope of any easy meal. I do so love the sights and sounds of this annual event.

The male guardian is once again in professional toil and I am most fortunate to have returned for the evening from my own toil. I am truly grateful for it has been another very hot day and we are most fortunate to have a gloriously cooling breeze to cool us in the sanctuary garden and surrounding countryside. Such a joy to return to on such hot days, with deep dark shade under the apple trees where cooling refreshments can be partaken. I find the orchard such a joyous place to be on hot days for it affords coolness at the same time as the ability to sit and enjoy the sounds of the birds and the lazy drone of the bees. What is there not to like about an English country garden, my dears? 

Sunday, 2 July 2017

A painterly weekend..

The joyful look upon the male guardian's face was really quite delightful, for a further day of sunshine announced itself early this morn, filtering through the apple trees and creeping in to the bed chamber. Once awoken, the dear chap prepared a most restorative cup of English breakfast tea, to be partaken sat up in bed - such a genteel way to start the day. Once restored and ablutions completed, we took the carriage to a local hardware store and purchased a rather becoming shade, mixed to our personal specifications, to decorate a newly refurbished room. Oh my dears, it really is quite lovely, we really are most pleased with the result even after just one coat. It really is most satisfying when a long held project reaches completion, is it not? I have no doubt there will be some marked activity over the coming week to complete the project.

What is it dear reader, that when the sun shines one feels the need to clean and clear, de clutter and repurpose? I do confess it is a process I enjoy very much although I am not so sure the male guardian echoes my sentiments. That said, the external fabric of the house has been assessed and my male guardian has proposed a number of small, but important, projects be undertaken during the summer months, thus further ensuring the upkeep of our little home. We will thus be snug as the proverbial bugs, one hopes, over the winter months.

This does not mean, dear souls, that we do not take every opportunity to enjoy ourselves and have very much spent the weekend outside enjoying the clement weather whilst we can, it is England after all.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Fruitful diligence...

My dears, life has continued apace, the garden continues to be fruitful and we were the most fortunate recipients of some delightful fruit grown by a dear gentleman whose allotmenteering is something to behold. Roses abound and generally our small estate gardens grow.

The male guardian enjoys the sunshine at every possible opportunity, why this very day having soaked up every possible drop of warmth and sunshine before the grey clouds have once more swept in. It has indeed been a lovely day and I took my chance to ensure the laundry flapped upon the breeze from an early hour. I do so love to see the laundry flapping in the breeze and to smell that beautiful fresh scent as I store the linen in the lavender scented airing cupboard. 

The schedule continues apace to complete the restoration of our small home; there is nought so satisfying as seeing long planned works come to fruition - so gloriously pleasing. Alongside this is the completion of the back of the second woollen garment bound for the Australias and work on the front commenced. Truly evidence that hard work and diligence brings benefit on both accounts.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Busy, busy, busy

Well, my dears, one can only describe the past ten days or more as busy, why I really cannot think where to begin. Perhaps 'tis best to start with our dear little home.

You may remember that each year we review the fabric of the house, consider the upkeep required and projects to be undertaken? Dear souls it has been full steam ahead, taking advantage of the good weather and utilising it for the better. Once again one must credit the small but merry band of workmen that we are most fortunate to have available to us. It has been most gratifying to see the work come together as they weave around one another to ensure timely completion of their individual crafts. Such delightful gentlemen. The male guardian and I bought this small estate in the knowledge that one could not afford to undertake major restoration all at once, therefore, we set ourselves a twenty five year plan to slowly but surely safeguard and maintain our home. My dears, we are nearing the end of the plan but the benefit of following our plan has allowed us to learn about our home, how the light affects it, how the weather can batter it and, importantly, how the essential rhythmic ebb and flow our daily lives affects it. When we arrived, it was a cold, damp, draughty building with a small amount of surrounding land that required a moderate amount of love and attention. Like any old estate it will need to be maintained and we are merely guardians for our time, preserving it, one hopes, for generations to come. For now, we are enjoying the fruits of our, and our merry band of workmens,  labours and what joy it does give. A lawyer, Mr Edward Coke,  in 1628 was credited with the Maxim "an Englishman's home is his castle" never more true today, I do believe, although perhaps the term "Englishperson's" would be more appropriate in these modern times.

The second woollen garment bound for the Australias is now in full production, growing stitch by stitch, day by day. Such a delightfully enjoyable pastime and so gratifying to produce such a useful garment. I was, this very day, the recipient of THE most finest knitted socks from a most generous individual who has taught male and female alike, across the generations, to knit woollen socks. My dears, they really are the most exquisitely stitched pair of socks, why I was quite beside myself with surprise and delight. Quite the most generous of gestures do you not agree?

We do hope you too have been enjoying the recent spell of warm weather though, as many a gardener can be heard muttering, we do need some rain for the garden. Happy pootling my dears.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Oh my, my....

Goodness gracious, my dears, what on earth has happened to the great British weather? Normally variable with a tendency to the inclement, we are quite unbelievably enduring scorching temperatures - why, 'tis almost as if the world be upside down. Being fair of complexion and typically British, one does not "do" heat. The male guardian on the other hand is, as you know, inordinately fond of warm weather, although, even he endures it when going about his professional toil. Quite how the Australian contingent regularly cope with temperatures above 30 degrees during their summer months is beyond one's belief. I am not overly keen on anything too much above 20 degrees, it has to be said, especially when at toil. In our small country home, blinds remain at half mast and windows flung wide at night to aid sleeping, for it is most difficult to be comfortable with night time temperatures at 15 degrees and above - one is more used to seeing the mist of one's breath billowing forth in the cold night air than basking in warmth. I have no doubt the weather front will break soon and our usual service resumed. 

The second woollen garment bound for the Australias grows bit by bit, day by day, painstakingly slow, but it grows. Certainly a labour of love in this heat. Delightful mindfulness, click, click, click, the brain and mind intent on the growing garment, such a delightful state after a day of toil and, particularly, whilst waiting for the heat of the day to dissipate.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Such fun....

Well, my dears, what a glorious day and not least due to the glorious sunshine we have enjoyed (or endured, whatever your particular penchant happens to be). The male guardian was once again duty bound, much to his consternation, in view of the sunshine of which he is more than a little fond, it has to be said. I was most fortunate in that I was to be attending a short course in the basement of a building where the art of Lino cutting was being taught. Outward bound early this very morn, I collected two girl friends who also happen to be colleagues, and we set forth with open minds to attempt the aforementioned art form. Dear reader, what fun we did have with a delightful time had by all - my companions really are quite gifted, producing some very nice images indeed - differing in style and form but really quite something to behold. It was a small group of eight which afforded the gentleman tutor time with each of us. The anticipation and thrill of the first print was palpable. Lino cutting took a little time to comprehend in that it requires the removal of sections of Lino that one's brain really believes to the contrary. After a number of false starts, we were away and the many images left in the drying racks for later completion showed an array of skills from experienced through to beginner (the latter bracket, my dears, One is happy to inhabit for there were a number of experienced and gifted students whose work was indeed an art form) and oh, what a lovely group of people. A thoroughly good day, with the next eagerly awaited to complete one's prints.  Oh the simple pleasure in making and producing is so enriching; learning new skills, grasping new concepts and bringing them all together to form a piece of art (of sorts, in my own case). So very good for the brain  too, to be challenged and stretched - so vital to keep one's brain working and moving forward.