Sunday, 23 February 2014

A 'typical' Sunday at Hazel Cottage

I was walking through the house earlier and took pictures of some of the interesting and random things that are currently happening at Hazel Cottage... 

Soil warming on a radiator ready for seeds

Rye bread proving in the washing basket

Parsnip wine fermenting under the desk in the study

Old books rescued from a jumble sale
My still unfinished patchwork picture in the sewing area
Daffodils on the hearth
Rye bread just out of the oven

In the garden, the crocuses are basking in whatever sunshine they can find, the snowdrops are nodding in the wind and I spotted two robins on the bird table this morning - almost time for nesting to start perhaps?

Wan February with weeping cheer,
Whose cold hand guides the youngling year
Down misty roads of mire and rime,
Before thy pale and fitful face
The shrill wind shifts the clouds apace
Through skies the morning scarce may climb.
Thine eyes are thick with heavy tears,
But lit with hopes that light the year's."
 Algernon Charles Swinburne, A Year's Carols: February

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Days full of fret and care

Last night I switched off the news just before the weather forecast started.  I couldn't face yet more forecasts of wind and rain and tales of constant bombardments of storms from the Atlantic.  I just had to look out of the window to see what was happening. This reminded me of a quote I'd seen the other day from the wonderfully funny and insightful writer, Jerome K Jerome:

“But who wants to be foretold the weather? It is bad enough when it comes,
without our having the misery of knowing about it beforehand.”

I've got the impression that it isn't just me who has found the incessantly bad weather rather depressing.  I can't get into the garden to do very much, even planning for the year ahead seems a bit silly when I can barely walk across the lawn without squelching and sinking a little.  When trying to cheer myself up the other day I found a number of quotes from Jerome K Jerome that I really enjoyed.  so I thought I would post these along with some pictures showing our garden in much sunnier times:

“The day has been so full of fret and care, and our hearts have been so full of evil and of bitter thoughts, and the world has seemed so hard and wrong to us. Then Night, like some great loving mother, gently lays her hand upon our fevered head, and turns our little tear-stained faces up to hers, and smiles; and though she does not speak, we know what she would say, and lay our hot flushed cheek against her bosom, and the pain is gone. Sometimes, our pain is very deep and real, and we stand before her very silent, because there is no language for our pain, only a moan. Night's heart is full of pity for us: she cannot ease our aching; she takes our hand in hers, and the little world grows very small and very far away beneath us, and, borne on her dark wings, we pass for a moment into a mightier Presence than her own, and in the wondrous light of that great Presence, all human life lies like a book before us, and we know that Pain and Sorrow are but angels of God.”

A prescription for life:
“1lb beefsteak, with
1pt bitter beer
every 6 hours.
1 ten-mile walk every morning.
1 bed at 11 sharp every night.
And don't stuff your head with things you don't understand.”

“Seek out some retired and old-world spot, far from the madding crowd, and dream away a sunny week among its drowsy lanes - some half-forgotten nook, hidden away by the fairies, out of reach of the noisy world - some quaint-perched eyrie on the cliffs of Time, from whence the surging waves of the nineteenth century would sound far-off and faint.” 

People who have tried it, tell me that a clear conscience makes you very happy and contented; but a full stomach does the business quite as well, and is cheaper, and more easily obtained.

 We are so bound together that no man can labour for himself alone. Each blow he strikes in his own behalf helps to mold the universe.

Once we discover how to appreciate the timeless values in our daily experiences, we can enjoy the best things in life.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Like these frail snowdrops that together cling

Its been such a stormy month or two here at Hazel Cottage (and for most people in the South of England).  At the weekend I managed to get into the garden on a sunny moment very briefly in between rain showers and plant a few very late tulip bulbs and sweep up some sodden leaves.  Before I ran back into the house, I noticed that the snowdrops had appeared just in time for Candlemas:

Amongst all the storms and rain, the simple snowdrop peeps through the leaves and twigs.  I read the other day that the snowdrop, which appear in the midst of winter is a symbol of hope.  There is a legend that the snowdrop appeared when Adam and Eve were about to give up hope that the cold winters would ever end.  An angel appeared and transformed some snow flakes into snowdrops - proving that winter does eventually give way to springtime.

William Wordsworth wrote a poem called 'On seeing a tuft of snowdrops following a storm' in 1888.  It seemed rather apt that he too had experienced stormy winter weather and that the snowdrops symbolised hope.
'Like these frail snowdrops that together cling,
And nod their helmets, smitten by the wing
Of many a furious whirl-blast sweeping by.'

It is traditional that the snowdrop appears around Candlemas, on 2nd February.  I had just started this blog when I read Jane's lovely post about candlemas, which I recommend if you want to know more.

Our garden fence - we wont be putting it back up until we are sure we wont get more wind and rain!
The saying goes 'If Candlemas be fair and clear,  there'll be two winters in the year.'   Rather worryinging, Candlemas was quite a sunny pleasant day in the midst of all the storms.  There are more high winds and heavy rain forecast for this coming week.
Signs of a spring yet to come
 "The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size."
-  Gertrude S. Wister