remembering

Mollie
mollie with her poppy

This weekend the children at the stables made sure all the animals were wearing their poppies and made sure the people had them too. I like that Rememberance Day has a visual symbol. But everyday when I amble through the churchyard at the start of my walk I'm reminded, even when its not Rememberance Day. The huge cross that bears the names of all the villagers who lost their lives in the World Wars looms large. Sometimes I stop and read them, many families lost more than one son, it makes my heart ache. 

Ivy

Radio Four had a fantastic programme this morning about the Art of Remembrance. One artist and soldier wanted his art to remind people to live full lives so that those who lost theirs didn't die in vain.

Colour

I'm also reminded today of one of my favourite books, A Farewell to Arms. A new edition came out a few months back that includes the 47 alternate endings Hemingway wrote for the novel. I've wanted to get it, I love to see an artist's process but I can't help wondering if he would have wanted his readers to see this process. Read more about the new edition here

Autumn ferns

The sun shone brightly yesterday and today so Gracie and I headed out to our favourite wood and took in the colour. Though we got stuck here and there in the squelchy mud it was gorgeous and crisp out.

Mud

The dog hopped over branches, we munched on chocolate tucked in our pockets and let the sun shine on our faces. After she found the perfect branch to make herself a new bow we headed home to soak up the warmth of the Rayburn. A perfect kind of autumn day, and one that felt very full indeed.

Way home

I hope yours was very full too.

Jx


Some autumn notes and a message to Typepad

Pinata time
Piñata in the making

I apologise to Instagram users, these images are repeated there.

We enlisted helpers for Gracie's birthday piñata this year. It made fast work of the job. We won't tell the helpers that the piñata balloon lost air overnight and became the shape of a giant raisin, it might "deflate" their enthusiasm to help next time. Problem averted, new piñata in the making and we'll try and salvage the first one to use on another day. 

I forgot to tell G the secret of keeping a punching balloon inflated for papier mache. I must make a list of our tips and tricks for piñata making and smashing. As this is the 24th birthday piñata we've made we've come up with quite a list of tips for successful birthday piñata. They were included in an article a few years back, I'll have to dig it out and share it here.

Millennium theatre
Wales Millennium Theatre, Cardiff

We had such a brilliant time at the Green Day stage show in Cardiff at the Wales Millennium Centre. We were really lucky to get the tickets, and what an amazing venue. The building, designed by architect Percy Thomas, is beautiful. Not just it's famous facade, but all the way around it and from every angle it's stunning. The use of materials and form and function are all outstanding. The theatre itself was also fantastic, great acoustics and there's not a bad seat in the house for viewing. The show itself also lived up to all the great reviews and awards it's received, we loved it.

Apples shaken
Apples shaken

The big apple orchard that's part of one of my walks is full of apples for cider making. Cider is a big local speciality. In the UK cider is alcoholic, not apple juice. The method for harvesting the cider apples is to shake the trees and scoop the apples up with a big vaccuum type machine attached to a tractor.

 

Cider time
Loaded up for cider making

I wish I actually liked cider, local ales are my pub beverage of choice. But the smell of the apples at harvest is amazing.

Honkers
Geese on the move

The geese are on the move and I might be on the move again too. Not moving house (thank goodness!) but moving from Typepad to Wordpress or other blogging platform. For me Typepad was by far the best solution for blogging without having to code when I first started blogging. Back then I felt Typepad blogs stood out from the crowd for their design differences and the platforms stability, but I don't feel Typepad has kept up with trends and the needs of it's users. 

In order to make simple changes to my blog (for instance taking extra pixels or padding out from around photos) Typepad wants a person to upgrade to a more expensive monthly package. This means to make a simple aesthetic change and improvements I have to up my monthly outgoings. It may be just a few pounds to them, but to me on a monthly basis it's significant in the financial grand scheme of things. Pay extra pounds to remove a few pixels, grrrrrrr. 

Typepad keep up. The internet is information and image focused, especially blogs. We want to be able to display our images to their full potential and not have to use CSS to do so. Even if we want to take the time to use CSS we don't want to have to pay for it, not when there are free blogging platforms that are offering just as much as Typepad if not more for the image and design enthusiast. I used to be able to adjust things in html easily in Typepad, but their model has changed over time and now we must pay more to make minor changes.

Typepad, if you want to continue with this business model then it's time to add more design flexibility for all your users, especially your dedicated, long-time users. Offering me 10% off doesn't cut it. At the very least, design new themes that are dedicated to creative image use and add attractive widgets that are keeping up with your competition or I see doom in your future Typepad. Come on, you started so strong; put some dosh back into development directed to us time-short, design-centric users. I want to be loyal to you Typepad because you've served me well, but you must keep a sharper eye on your user's needs. It's very simple, if you want to charge premiums you must offer more value than the free systems and right now you don't.

I chose to pay for your service over Blogger and Wordpress when I started for three reasons. Superior layouts, site stability and customer service. Even Blogger has caught up on the first two points and the third is less of an issue now with users in forums being as savvy as they now are. 

If I can find an easy and inexpensive way to make the switch I will. I want to keep this online diary going but I don't want to be held to ransom by a service that may keep adding expenses at will. If anyone knows of a way, let me know. I'm still researching it but at the moment I'm leaning towards moving to Wordpress.org because I'm now visually attracted to Wordpress.org sites in the way I used to be attracted to Typepad sites. I think the whole process will take a lot of time, and time I am very short on so I might be stuck here for a long while.

If you use Typepad have you experienced these frustrations? Have you simply upgraded or found another solution? Please tell.

Jx

More honkers
See you in the spring geese


Thanks and blues

Voodoo felting
voodoo felting

This is one of those weeks where lots was accomplished but not in a tangible sense. Lots behind the scenes stuff that just needs doing. As well as planning, designing and the usual busy family stuff.

I wanted to say thanks to everyone for the incredibly kind words about the moths both here and on Facebook too. It's fun to get such great feedback on something I loved doing. And thank you to those who made kind donations for the full pattern set too, it's always appreciated.

The tiny stitching above is a thank you gift I whipped up. I know hog weed is considered a pest here in the UK but I love the structure of it, especially in skeleton form that we're left with come autumn.

The other images are from last weekend when I had a few hours on my own and I spent them at Kilve. The landscape there is all consuming, I could spend all day at Kilve and feel like I'd just arrived.

We're off this afternoon to see this show in Cardiff.  Green Day are one of T's favourite bands, he can play all their songs, but we didn't think we could swing it for the price of the tickets. We happened to see an offer for three tickets for next to nothing by someone in a neighbouring village who couldn't go. Now we get to go – someone up there likes us :)

Better run, have a great weekend.

Jx

Hog weed stitching
hog weed stitching

Rock formations
rock formations, kilve

Natural paving
natural paving


autumn bouquet and getting caught in the rain

Dandy-dahlias

I feel like the luckiest girl. My sweet friend brought me a huge bunch of the prettiest dahlias you've ever seen and, took me to the hair salon. Seems it was time for my grey to go. I was voted out by all who see me on a daily basis, and now that it's done (first time in many, many months) I must say they were right. This sweet friend has been one of many real rocks, and she always goes above and beyond. I'm lucky.
Wet-dog
Yesterday I had one of those walks where it was so sunny when we left and the rain came out of nowhere. Pippi and I waited it out a while under a tree.
New-babe
And today, I got to see another brand new baby alpaca, she was born this morning. I can't believe this petite mama gave birth to such a big girl. Petting a baby alpaca is like touching the clouds, soft and heavenly. Naomi was helping keep the baby warm and encouraging nursing and the mama just kept reaching everywhere to give her new babe kisses, like a human mum I thought.
Can you guess?
Here's a sneakiy peek at the wool related project I have coming up. Can you guess what it might be? I have a feeling one or two of you will.
Happy Friday to you!
Jx

colours, little pal and a winner

Delicate
colours

There were lots of small things to see today on our walk like the colour of light that's changing with the season. I loved todays walk but it was one of those days I found it hard to get myself out. Lucky my little pal is so persuasive, she's smart that way.

Pal
my pal

Dogs are the best for when you're feeling down. They won't take no for an answer when they want a walk. They urge you further even if the rain is coming down and by the time you each reach your stride that heavy feeling lifts. 

I love this excerpt from a "four legged meditation" by Rob Hodgson about his dog Jack, from Oh Comely. I relate precisely to his walks with Jack when I walk with Pippi.

He says

Jack the dog lives in the now. Each thing has his absolute attention for the moment it's in his line of sight. Jack the dog notices each thing new, things I am apt to overlook from familiarity.

For Jack the dog's humbleness and his quiet appreciation he can sometimes break into a run, when perhaps he is overcome by clarity, happy to be alive he is galloping through the pines. 

This simplicity I am always looking for. When you are really free, when clarity gives heed and there is nothing but you and the world, then you are, without destination, Jack the dog bounding through the fields.

Dogs don't question, argue or judge, they're good for the soul. We're lucky to have the space to have one. 

Walking
rolling light

Onto the giveaway winner, it is Margie.

Gracie chose the winner from a hat (actually it was a small pot). I'm very happy to have all of the people who share this space with me from time to time but it's nice the winner is a person who has stuck around even when my posts were very thin on the ground, someone who happens to be a friend too. Gracie smiled as she read out the name, pleased it was a name she recognised. We will post your gifts soon Margie.

Thank you to those who entered, new friends and old. I'll be having a wool giveaway very soon and a wool related tutorial, my first tute in a long time.

Happy weekend!

Jx



traffic jams and visiting

Misty-morning
misty morning

When we leave our village there are small hills and valleys to cross to get to most places, this is some of what we see. Little stone bridges, hay piled high...

Big-loads
flying hay

and west country traffic jams. Traffic-jam
traffic jam

And last week we visited old friends who moved to the west country before us, only about an hour away in Devon. We had such a lovely time catching up and being together, I almost secretly scratched my name on the guest room door to claim it as my own.

J-&-J's
I can see your house from here

That's where we stayed, right in the middle of this photo. It's a beautiful place for walking.

Devon-walk
our hosts

Devonshire-creamery
friendly neighbours

Mossy-roots
mossy roots & carved mushroom

I could have stayed a very long time. Kitty probably was very glad to see the back of us though because that meant she didn't have to hide from Pippi anymore.

Cat

Phew, the coast is clear. Thanks J & J, for having us.

Tomorrow we're off to a local village fair. It's supposed to be a great one – lots of music, local ales and local crafts on show. 

Enjoy your Sunday.

Jx

PS, Next week an old fashioned post themed giveaway. It's been a long, long time since my last one :)


changing up, and displaying finds

Giant hog weed
giant hog weed

I've been meaning to change things around here for a long, long time now. I've had various new images in the works for over a year; I finally just went with a completely new one inspired my friends, the House Martins under the eaves. More changes to come.

Nature finds
displaying finds

My last article for the Green Parent was super fun to make, it was about displaying nature finds. Pick up the next issue to see how we made customized shelving.

Come on then
beckoning

These are a few Instagrams from the week in walks. This foot bridge is at the end of one of our long walks and Pippi of course always wants to keep on going.

Loan oak
loan oak

This field has just been harvested, I loved the light on it that day. Those few bare branches at the top are favourite rest stops for local kestrels.

Hope you have a great weekend ahead with lots of lovely plans and good food and drink too.

Jx


Somerset, Summertime

Stone walking
Stone walking, by Dianne

Big fossils
Big ammonite impression, by Dianne

Tris and Rufus
Tris and Rufus

Thumbelina
Thumbelina

Manx
Manx sheep

Feeding time
Feeding time

Hi There
Peekaboo!

Parcel of kitties
Bundle of kitties

Woods & rays
Woods and rays

Visitors are coming and going as often as the sun around here and we've been enjoying spending time with old friends. Lots of trips out and about have included fossil exploration, visits to our super sweet farm friends, woodland walks, river walks and a castle visit. It's fantastic to take a little breather and explore even more of the beautiful place we now call home.

In between it all it's been difficult to come unglued from the Olympic coverage. We're lucky enough to get to cheer on two countries in our household and boy it's all been so exciting. Though I haven't been online much at all there are a couple of links I've been meaning to pass along and one that I came across this evening that brought back happy memories.

  • This talented lady gives me serious tool envy. The short video in this post I just love, the whole thing, love.
  • Here's one for the kiddos from the Tate, although I must admit I tried to help Alice catch the rabbit myself, several times.
  • This post from npr looks at Lucielle Ball clips on the eve of her 101 birthday. These clips from old shows reminded me of staying home ill from school when I was little and watching rerun after rerun of Lucy – genuis! The being ill part probably not so fun though ;)

Hope you have a great week ahead, must run now so I can get up early and prepare for the next visitors. 

Jx

 

 


summer gifts and glory

We've missed you sun
we've missed you sunshine

The sun has graced us nearly every day since the children finished school, good timing really. Our first outing was spent on a hot sunny beach and now that we're on the Atlantic side we have real waves which means body surfing!

Walking without my wellies on has been a bonus too – no more ankle-deep mud to wade through. The hedgerows are throwing up all sorts of colour and textures.

Summer hedgerows
summer hedgerows

I've also found a nearby river walk and Pippi is learning that she needs an exit strategy when she decides to jump full steam into the water. So far I've only had to pull her out twice.

More summer hedgerows
more summer hedgerows

And the warm weather was also welcomed for Gracie's first horse show; a show she was very nervous to take part in fearing she was too inexperienced and new to the sport to compete. She was wrong. 

First show
first show

She took first place in her class and had a "clear round" apparently that's pony speak for doing really well.

Collecting her cup
awwwww

I was so proud of her for overcoming her nerves and taking part.

Early evening sun
early evening sun peeking through the arch

And tonight I peeked out the window while I was climbing the stairs to put laundry away and spotted this view; I put down the laundry and joined the flowers to soak up the last rays of the day's sun.

Tomorrow we have friends arriving for a visit and Monday we celebrate Tristan's fourteenth birthday. Fourteen!!!

Hope your having a warm and wonderful weekend.

Jx


new friends, more cakes

Mama and babe

New friends down the road live in Gracie's idea of heaven. For several years she has begged to have a small farm that is home to a long list of animals. There have even been prolonged tantrums over not having her own farm. I'm sure one day she will make it happen.

Chick friend

What a fantastic visit we had. There are many newborns on this little farm at the moment. Lots of chicks, lambs, a one day old alpaca, brand new kittens and puppies on the way. There were also pigs and bunnies and rare breed sheep. 

Oinkers

We picked up the most beautiful fleece for felting when we first met, I'll have to get more soon. The fleece from the rare breed sheep and alpacas is so lovely it makes me want to spin. But do I need to learn a new craft, one that requires a large wheel – I'm thinking no (at least not right now;)

New babe

The little guy above on the left was born on Tuesday; he's called Diamond because he was a Jubilee baby. I love the colour and beautiful eyes of mama on his right there.

Snowy alpacas

The last of the parties was Thursday and we made some extra yummy cakes from our favourite Little Red Barn Baking Book.* These Velvet Butter Cupcakes weren't the quickest to whip up but well worth the effort. The head chef only let me help decorate two. She had so much fun with these – worth every last E number in those squeezy icing tubes.

Cake maker

The little sugar decorations I picked up at Waitrose, couldn't resist the tiny London buses.

Cakes

Our half-term break is nearly over, back to school Monday but we look forward to a visit from a dear friend tomorrow. 

Enjoy your weekend, and if you see Mister Sun, please send him back our way :)

Jx

* The Little Red Barn Baking Book (I've mentioned before) is getting hard to find but well worth the effort of searching for it. We love every recipe in it. The author, Adriana Rabinovich has now become an expert in gluten-free cooking after her daughter, Ruth was diagnosed with Coeliac Disease in 2004. I have no doubt that her gluten-free recipes will be brilliant too. Her's is one of the only books I don't mess around with, every recipe is spot on.