Saturday, 30 January 2016

Be as much as you can in the open air without fatigue

My blog today was inspired by two entirely separate things, firstly a walk we had last weekend and secondly reading Jane's great blog The life of an eccentric English booklady where she shared some wonderful 19th century advice on improving lowness of spirits.  One of the suggestions for improving mood was to 'Be as much as you can in the open air without fatigue'.    I must admit that even spending time in our garden in sunshine this afternoon, listening to the birds and seeing what is happening outside did make me very happy.  My hands are scratched by brambles and we barely scratched the surface of all the work there is to do, but just being outside was so lovely.

Last weekend we went for a walk which took in both farmland and woodland so I thought I'd share some of the pictures I took.

The ducks enjoying the new pond created by incessant rain

Sodden fields

Looking across a valley filled with beech and birch trees

Muddy banks of the river.  We saw a pair of dippers dancing in and out of the water

Beech trees and much lichen

Ferns growing out of moss and lichen on a tree

Ferns haven't really died back from last year.

The sheep were quite muddy in their field

Very free range chickens

Hedgerow not looking quite right for winter

The holly bush, a sober lump of green,
Shines through the leafless shrubs all brown and grey,
And smiles at winter be it eer so keen
With all the leafy luxury of May.
And O it is delicious, when the day
In winter's loaded garment keenly blows
And turns her back on sudden falling snows,
To go where gravel pathways creep between
Arches of evergreen that scarce let through
A single feather of the driving storm;
And in the bitterest day that ever blew
The walk will find some places still and warm
Where dead leaves rustle sweet and give alarm
To little birds that flirt and start away.
John Clare - Winter Walk

Saturday, 16 January 2016

King Winter is now in the land

We are very lucky here and haven't suffered from any flooding.  It does feel however that we've had rain most days since before Christmas.  Until recently we haven't really had much of a winter, the odd warm weather has made it feel like a perennial autumn.  Then suddenly winter has arrived and we are getting frosts and sunny days.
So in order to make the best of the beautiful wintry weather, we set off early for a walk on the South Downs this morning.
The frost covered everything, and glittered and shone, even the grass was tinted with silver and white.

We walked through beech tree avenues, and across farmland where only recently deep ridges of mud would have made it difficult to walk through.  Now they are frozen hard with puddles now sheets of ice.

There was a lovely light through the trees, and we saw a number of robins, finches and blackbirds along the way and possibly a bird of prey far into the distance.  We also saw a yellow headed bird which I think was a siskin on the edge of the woodland.

The hedgerow was filled with plenty of berries, often seen to be a sign of a hard winter.  I read recently that it is more a sign of a warm autumn, so I'm not sure what is true now!

The walk has made me feel quite enthused about perhaps doing more painting although trying to recreate the frost and ice is somewhat beyond my talents...

‘King Winter is now in the land.
He reigns with cold and freezing hand.
He makes Jack Frost touch nose and toe,
and brings us bright and shiny snow.
M. Meyerkort

Saturday, 2 January 2016

A New Year and a New Project!

It may be having all this time off, but I've been really very creative lately.  I started making a patchwork star the other day as it is almost Epiphany.  I had no real notion of what I would be doing with it...

I then started painting a very small acrylic picture of Charleston House in East Sussex.  I always sketch in first so I have an idea of what I'm doing.  It was based on a photo I took during the Autumn when we popped in on our way home from Rye.  It isn't perfect but I was happy with it as I haven't painted for a little while and the size of the canvas was rather small!

I was still keen to do something creative, and thought about Mr C saying to me about making a patchwork quilt.  So I got out a huge pile of materials, made a lot of mess then had an idea about using bits and pieces of unused material to make a patch with applique in the middle.
Above is the background, which I've used a zigzag stitch on the sewing machine.  I will then hand sew some embroidered flowers from badly stained old linen onto the top of that.  I can't embroider myself, but I like the idea of reusing something that was made years ago.
This will then make the second patch.  I expect the quilt will take about 25 years to complete, but I like the idea of doing a patch at a time and seeing where it takes me.  Wish me luck!
I can't quite believe it is January already and we only have three more days of the Christmas season.  Work is looming again on Monday, but I'm trying not to think about it too much.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Mark Twain.