Mittwoch, 21. Dezember 2016

Halfway out of the dark

Happy winter soltice, everyone!

I started off for Avebury a bit late this morning and had quite a tricky drive as the rain was coming down hard and the A4 between Hungerford and Marlborough started to flood in Savernake Forest. Unfortunately the National Trust hadn't opened its car park this year but I managed to find a spot to park (with a great view towards Silbury Hill as it turned out) - and the rain had suddenly stopped!

I arrived in the stone circle feeling a bit rushed but as soon as I found my spot on the wall I started to calm down. There were quite a lot of people around and everyone looked towards the sun. Unlike last year when dark grey just became a lighter grey it was quite a dramatic spectacle.

Unfortunately my camera was quite unhappy with the low light levels and I fear that it might be on its last legs; lots of the pictures have weird stripes but I was able to find a few that document the sun rising after the longest night of the year.

Much love,

Lots of people on the wall

Silbury Hill near Avebury

Samstag, 19. November 2016

Roadtrip: Milford and Furzey Gardens

Ever since coming back from Scotland and the Lake District I haven't really been on the road. But I took last Friday off, determined to make my annual November journey to the seaside. I don't really know why I have settled on Milford-on-Sea as the place to be almost each time, probably because it is the closest and I know the route by heart.

The morning started off quite grey and bitterly cold but the sky cleared while I had breakfast in the cafe on the beach. It was very windy and the crashing of the waves incredibly loud, the spray washing over the promenade at times.

On each trip to Milford I try to visit at least one of the gardens in the New Forest and because I had passed the sign for Furzey Gardens many times I spontaneously decided to make a stop on my way back. Furzey Gardens was a wonderful surprise, even this late in the year there was so much autumn colour that it was almost overwhelming. The garden works closely together with The Minestead Training Trust, a charity that supports and trains people with learning disabilities and their Chelsea gold-medal winning garden of 2012 has been recreated in one of the garden areas. I can't wait to go back again in the spring!

I hope you are making the most of November by cuddling up on the sofa with a mug of tea, a book and maybe something furry and purring for company ...

Much love,

Before breakfast ...

After breakfast ...

Waves crashing up to the Milford promenade.

Furzey Gardens - I loved that there were labels on a lot of the trees and shrubs. The flame-red shrub is an Enkianthus perulatus.

The "Gold" Chelsea Garden

There is even some winter blossom about ...

Some amazing structures ...

The gunneras all wrapped up warm for winter.

Sonntag, 11. September 2016

Lazy rainy days

There was so much rain yesterday - the perfect opportunity to finish most of my alpaca cardi-poncho project. I have been working on this since summer last year and now I am finally nearing completion.

Because it developed into a monstrously big piece of knitting I decided some time ago that I would skip the sleeves and just wear it as a poncho. The alpaca felts easily and I knew that I would never ever be able to unravel everything, otherwise I would have considered beginning again in order to get it right. I am now working on the neck and armhole finishing and then I will - finally - be able to move on to the next big(gish) crafting project.

When the rain eased off a bit around early afternoon I quickly took a few photos in the garden, of the whole glorious glossy mess it is at the moment, full of blooming tobacco plants, fennel, verbenas sunflowers, rust-speckled hollyhocks and Japanese anemones.

Much love,

Everything on stitch holders - doesn't even fit in the picture ...

Japanese anemone 'Whirlwind'

Euphorbia mellifera


Nasturtium leaves

New pinkish growth on the camellia

Japanese anemones

More anemones

Hydrangea leaves and nasturtium flowers
Hydrangea bloom turning from cream to pink.

Lungwort leaves

Hamish helps

Samstag, 20. August 2016

Roadtrip Jubilee: Scottish Highlands & Lake District

I have been holding off on posting random stuff as this is the 100. post on this blog and I wanted to do something special for the jubilee of Qaroline's Qonundrums. What could be more appropriate for this festive occasion than to blog about the mother of all roadtrips?

For the last years my bucket list of places to see has included just 3 places:

a) Lake District
b) Scotland
c) Iceland

This summer I had the chance to cross 2 of them off the list - but of course now I need to go back someday, as there wasn't time enough to see anywhere near as much as I wanted to see. I had only one week off and the opportunity to join friends of mine who had rented a Airbnb in Pitlochry in the Scottish Highlands. Because I knew I had to drive there to save on money (train fares are atrociously high in the UK) and that I would pass the Lake District anyway, I crammed my camping stuff and clothes for all weather eventualities into the car and drove north.

I did not plan too much, I rather wanted to experience the different landscapes without coming to them with too many expectations - but the one thing I knew I wanted to do was to swim in a loch. I ended up swimming a lot - every day when I was in the Lake District - and in the end this trip has been mostly about water.

Much love,

Falls of Dochart - near Killin. My first proper stop after driving through the night.

Falls of Dochart - Killin, near Loch Tay

Pebble beach, Loch Tay, on my way to Pitlochry

Wild flowers on the shore of Loch Tay

Dull, near Aberfeldy. I just needed to photograph this.

Stop on the A9, going to Cairngorms National Park

Loch Morlich, Cairngorms National Park. As always the mountains do not look nearly impressive enough on the photograph. When swimming in the loch (peaty, ice-cold water) they seemed to be really near.

The fish ladder in Pitlochry. A few weeks before I had listened to The Fish Ladder - a Journey Upstream by Katharine Norbury on audiobook. Highly recommended.

River Ness in Inverness

The relentless Scottish sunshine (!) - looking sunburnt and a bit blissed out next to Loch Ness

Blairmount in Pitlochry. Stunning Airbnb, for more info follow the link!

My campsite near Coniston Water wasn't that far from the Atlantic Coast. As I am always a sucker for the seaside, I drove to Haverigg near Millom after pitching the tent on the first evening

Haverigg - towards the coast

Coniston Water - where I went swimming on the first evening

After swimming - celebrating the first night in my new tent with a pipe

Ambleside, Lake District

Estwaite Water, very near to Hill Top, Beatrix Potter's place. Saw some of her water colours of Estwaite in a tiny exhibition space at Estwaite Fishery

Lakeside on Windermere - went swimming in there on the second day but at a different access point.

Dove Cottage, Grasmere, where Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy lived for 8 years. Am reading Dorothy Wordsworth's diaries at the moment (to be honest I originally came here because it features in The Trip with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon ...)

Houses around Dove Cottage, Grasmere

View towards the Old Man of Coniston from the campsite, zoomed in to cut off the tents

Cream tea in 'Fine Food Emporium - Mrs F's' in Keswick. Was feeling  a bit sunstruck by this point and needed to get away from the maddening crowd.

Last evening and last opportunity for a swim in Coniston Water. Sat in the shade beneath the big oaks on the shore line for a long time.