Saturday, 18 February 2017

Moving on...

I think I've decided that this blog should be set aside.  The original reason behind Tales from Hazel Cottage was to share our adventures and now those adventures are different, I need to make a break.  Those who know me will know the reasons behind this.

I have however started a new blog, about my interests in art, books, music and life.  I expect I shall also talk about nature and gardens once in while as well, so if you wanted to pop over to see it, it is here:

Thank you for your support

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

A Break

So much has happened since my last post and I'm currently deciding whether to take a break from it or whether to stop posting altogether.  The original idea of this blog was to share our exciting adventures living at Hazel Cottage and at the moment I need to concentrate on other things and use my time differently and take stock.  I hope to be back, time with tell. 

 Rare as is true love, true friendship is rarer. 
Jean de La Fontaine
Rare as is true love, true friendship is rarer. Jean de La Fontaine
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Saturday, 24 December 2016

A Merry Christmas

Even though I haven't posted very much lately, life continues to be busy here at Hazel Cottage.  Since my last posting, I've made the Christmas pudding, a Christmas cake, visited the wonderful Buckland Abbey in Devon with their Tudor Christmas display

 I was quite impressed with these old fashioned style mince pies, in the shape of the crib and wondered whether I could create one with gluten free pastry!

We've walked through the parks on a misty morning in December

Hosted a Scandinavian Christmas meal with friends, with homemade Cucumber pickle, Janssons temptation, gravadlax, kale, pomegranate and hazelnut salad.

We've put up the Christmas tree of course. 

And finally we are at Christmas Eve, and it is dark outside.  This is one of my favourite parts of Christmas.  Everything seems hushed and I've even finished the mince pies.  I'm very pleased that my old fashioned mince pie hasn't fallen apart!

We would like to wish everyone who still keeps the faith with our little blog a very merry Christmas.  I do hope to post more often in the year ahead.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Glowing embers

The leaves are many glorious colours and crunchy underfoot, the air is crisp and filled with smoke and mornings are misty and damp.  Autumn is here!  I often think that autumn has a deep sense of nostalgia to it, we seem to be remembering, marking times and seasons and thinking about the past.  Perhaps it is a deep human need to make sense of the increasing darkness by thinking of ways to create light and warmth and to remember.  November especially has a special feel of its own which is often lost when people rush towards the light and glitter of Christmas.  We are quite a way off from Christmas, we are still getting used to the darkness and colder weather.  There is much more we can do to create light at this time of year.


Today is 5th November, which marks Bonfire Night here in the UK.  All around us fireworks are being set off, but here in Hazel Cottage we're having a bonfire, which is far more traditional.  Standing in the cold night air, watching a wood fire, whilst the fireworks went off, and where we could see the stars in the night sky, is rather special.  I love watching the sparks flying and the glowing embers sparkle. 

'If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I'll bet they'd live a lot differently'.  
Calvin and Hobbes

When I'm looking at a fire, it feels as if I'm connected to the past, for hundreds of years people have sat around fires, laughed, commemorated, remembered and even put life into perspective a little. Kindling some light in the darkness perhaps.

A new life begins for us with every second.
Let us go forward joyously to meet it
We must press on, whether we will or not,
and we shall walk better with
our eyes before us
than with them ever cast behind.
Jerome K Jerome

Sunday, 18 September 2016

For the love of cream and green

One of the questions we asked ourselves the other day was 'how much Woods Beryl Ware is too much?'.  We've been sorting through our cupboards even though it isn't spring and discovered that we do have quite a lot.  Most of this was purchased in charity shops for very little money and is a classic design which a lot of people owned in this country for a long time, hence why is found quite often.

After Mr C packed it away in various places, I noticed how much older kitchenware is based on the theme of cream and green.  It is such a lovely combination and along with classics like the blue and white Cornish ware, make up much of our kitchen.

There is something rather calming about these colours to me.  They speak of home.

We have collected a few different designs, these are T&G Green Streamline and Kleenware pots.
We are very proud of the dresser in our dining room.  Almost all of the pieces were bought for very little money in charity shops, at car boot sales and on eBay.  The dresser itself was an online purchase, painted by Mr C when we moved into Hazel Cottage.
A recent addition to our dresser is a plain white plate I bought at a charity shop, which I painted in a rough approximation of Bloomsbury design.  I'm quite proud of it, it isn't precise or exact, but the colours were ones that went very well with our other crockery and it was the first time I have used porcelain paints.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

The Small things of life

“The small things of life were often so much bigger than the great things . . . the trivial pleasure like cooking, one's home, little poems especially sad ones, solitary walks, funny things seen and overheard.”  

I began this blog thinking I was going to recommend or review a specific book that I'd loved whilst reading on holiday recently.  I'd loved reading it so much and thought everyone of good taste should think the same.  However yesterday I started reading another book by the same author and loved it just as much, so now this article is less a book review and more a love letter to the wonderful Barbara Pym. 

Barbara Pym is a novelist whose works on the surface seem to be about the musings of spinsters and their church jumble sale lives.  A world of gossip and curates and taking tea, where the vicar is often unmarried and looked after by his vague sister and there is a disagreement about the church flowers.  In lesser hands, this world would be disparaged and these seemingly unimportant lives mocked.  However with Barbara Pym, the main characters are wry and sensible and very English in their self conscious modesty.  Pym's writing is sensitive, amusing and actually rather emotionally subtle.  There is no startling drama, but the small things of life were seen as equally valid.

“After all, life was like that for most of us – the small unpleasantnesses rather than the great tragedies; the little useless longings rather than the great renunciations and dramatic love affairs of history or fiction.”

Many of her characters are spinsters or people feeling as if they observe real life from the outside.  People who have longings, unfortunate marriages or deep disappointments but don't give in on life and hide away, they still help at the jumble sale, meet friends for tea at a Lyons corner house and make copious pots of tea.  There is something timeless about the way she describes the inner monologue of someone who yearns for more in life.  Even in the funniest passages, this world is acutely observed and tenderly described.

“It seemed so much safer and more comfortable to live in the lives of other people - to observe their joys and sorrows with detachment as if one were watching a film or a play.”  

As someone who has spent a lot of time reading and watching films from the mid 20th century, another joy about Pym's earlier novels are the wonderfully evocative descriptions of life in the 1940s and 1950s.  Bells tolling for evensong in Oxford, honey toast lying unfinished in the fire grate, listening to the rain fall and the Salvation Army band play hymns on a dark winter Sunday evening.  These experiences may be set in the past, but are common experiences that remind us of our own lives, a very gently English form of nostalgia.

“I love Evensong. There's something sad and essentially English about it.”  

Friday, 27 May 2016

A Bloomsbury adventure

Both of us are keen on 20th century writing, art and culture.  Most of the art we love and a good proportion of the books we read are pre 1950.  In reading about the culture of the times, you do notice a number of connections between people; none more so than the so called Bloomsbury set.  Recently we've both been reading a lot about them and I've been struggling through Mrs Dalloway very slowly.  Last week however we had a little Bloomsbury adventure and had a week away to Kent and East Sussex to follow in their footsteps.  I thought I'd share some pictures of our adventure

Knole, Kent.  The seat of the Sackville family and where Vita Sackville West grew up
Sissinghurst, Kent.  The garden created by Vita Sackville West and Harold Nicolson


Monks House, Rodmell, East Sussex.  The home of Virginia and Leonard Woolf
Painting of Virginia Woolf by her sister Vanessa Bell

Virginia Woolf's bedroom
Virginia Woolf's writing room
St Michael and All Angels, Berwick, Mural by Duncan Grant

Berwick murals
Charleston Farmhouse near Firle, the home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant

At Charleston

At Charleston