Sunday, July 26, 2015

Treasures From the Loft

Yesterday I was at Mum and Dad's in north Norfolk to help them start sorting out the loft.  It'd got into quite a state as Mum hadn't been able to get up and down the ladder to it but now that she's the owner of a new hip she wanted to start tackling it.

We did quite well, with a bag of stuff going to the tip and 3 bags ready to go to the charity shop, oh and I came home with a car boot looking like this!

Amongst cushions, bedding, and old jars I also brought home some boxes of treasure:

playing cards with this delightful lady her elegant cigarette holder,

old christmas decorations, mainly old glass baubles but also the Father Christmas model and paper fairy that, as a child, I used to get so excited about when they reappeared from the box,

a clay chess piece (about 10 inches high) that I made during my PGCE,

and all these other ornaments, some of which I remember and some of which I don't.

And loads of old photos, including this one of my mum as a bridesmaid that I don't ever recall seeing before - shame she doesn't have the dress and jacket anymore as they look amazing!

When I eventually got home I also found treasure in the greenhouse

the first of the tomatoes :-)

I am sure there are more treasures waiting for me in the loft - I'll be back there in a fortnight to continue the mission!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Slowly Getting There.

Things are progressing steadily on the decorating front.  The decorator has done his bit and I've painted the floor of the stairs and landing and also painted the dining room furniture.

Before and After

Gone are the dark red walls and carpet, replaced by taupe walls and white painted floorboards.

Before and After

All the pine furniture has had a coat of paint, I've deliberately left the tops etc wood as I didn't want to go to all paint.

Nothing more can now be done until the new wooden floor is laid in August, until then I have to continue living out of boxes and in a bit of a mess!

But whilst the inside of the house is in a state of flux the garden is looking lovely:

The geraniums on Dad's steps are flowering well as are various clematis still.

This hollyhock has appeared from nowhere and is very pretty (I don't think I planted it....)

and I love the expectation that the agapanthus buds bring.

Meanwhile the front garden is doing very well too.  

I dug up some overgrown box balls earlier this year and planted with some dahlias and larkspur that I'd grown from seed.  Whilst this isn't a colour combination I would have chosen, it actually looks good!

And as for hydrangea Annabelle - she's putting on a fantastic show, intact she's encroaching into next door's garden too,

just look at the size of her flower heads!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Half Finished.

Hello, I'm still here, just running hard to keep up with life and in a state of half finishedness in lots of things.

A few weeks ago I decided to prune the 'hedge' of eleagnus, cornus kousa and choisya but couldn't bring myself to cut the cornus as it was about to flower - so I have a half pruned hedge with a large tree growing out of one side!

Not sure if you can see it on this picture but it's the tall shrub with white bracts on in the middle at the back, what you can't see is the large gap to the right of it where the rest of the 'hedge' used to be!

The bracts are beautiful but almost impossible to see from anywhere apart from my study window as they are so high up!

I also have a half finished stairs and landing - I ripped the carpet up a few weeks ago and have so far sanded, filled and undercoated.


half finished
I can't paint the floor properly until the decorator has painted the walls, ceiling and woodwork etc.

But the roses have finally come out properly, so I'll leave you with a few beauties from last week:

William Shakespeare

Lady Emma Hamilton

The Generous Gardener

Fighting Temeraire

Now tomorrow I have an appointment a conference involving a new frock and these little beauties by Kurt Geiger.

Do I have a shoe habit? You bet I do.  Do I care? Not one little bit!

Friday, June 12, 2015

24 Hours in.... Birthday Land - Part 2

Following on from my incredible night at Springwatch Unsprung I meandered my way back across Suffolk to Minsmere the next morning to spend the day there for my birthday treat (this had been planned for months, well before I was offered the Unsprung tickets).

The views across the reserve are fantastic.  I didn't get to hear a bittern booming as I'd hoped to, but I did see 3 fly over from one of the hides which was an incredible sight.

Minsmere has many different habitats including reed beds and wetlands where I saw many avocets and avocet chicks.

Those of you who watched the Springwatch series will know that an unlikely star of the show turned out to be a 5cm long stickleback, named by the presenters as Spineless Si.  From the boardwalk to the Island Mere hide it was really easy to see him as the cameras indicated where he was - I couldn't get a photo of him due to the placement of the camera and the sun, but i did get this one of his 'friend' Frisky Phil (the object in the top right of the photo is the underwater camera filming him).

I walked for miles, not just watching birds and sticklebacks but also enjoying the wild flowers including this southern marsh orchid.

I also tested the cafe out and confirm that the cake is excellent (well it was my birthday!),

and whilst I ate it I sat and watched the sand martins flying in and out of the cliffs.

I saw lots of other wildlife, including a great white egret and a crested grebe.  It was a fabulous day and I can honestly say it's one of the best birthdays I've ever had.  

If you ever get the chance to visit Minsmere I can highly recommend it, it's part of an area of outstanding natural beauty which includes 155 square miles of wetlands, heaths, woodlands, coastline  and pretty towns, managed by the RSPB, the National Trust and Suffolk Wildlife Trust amongst others - you could easily spend a week here and not get bored!

Saturday, June 6, 2015

24 Hours in.... Birthday Land - Part 1

It was my birthday this week, it was a big one, and something VERY special happened. Last week I was watching Springwatch Unsprung and tweeted this:

It was favourited by a BBC Radio Suffolk journalist and I didn't think anything more about it until last Saturday when I received a message from the same journalist (Jon Wright) asking me if I'd like tickets for Unsprung on Wednesday.  Would I!!!!

Details of the evening were sent and my excitement levels grew daily!

I asked my neighbour Jill if she'd like to come with me and we left here at 4.45 for the 1.5hr drive across Suffolk to Minsmere.

When we arrived we met up with Radio Suffolk journalists Jon Wright and Etholle George and they recorded the first part of an interview with us.

Jill, Etholle and me

We then had our briefing with the producer and were taken over to the BBC production village to watch some of the main programme as it was being transmitted.

At 8.40 we were led through the woods to the back of the studio where we waited until the main programme ended. As I'd volunteered to contribute a dialect word during Unsprung I was told exactly where I had to stand.  We started to creep into place while they were filming the end of Springwatch as on Wednesdays Unsprung is on BBC2, as opposed to the red button, so there was very little time to get everyone in.

I couldn't believe my luck! I'd ended up right next to Chris Packham, with Robert MacFarlane and Alison Steadman just to my right!

Being in the audience was amazing - the set was fantastically detailed (throw back to my dance career always make me interested in sets and the technicalities of shows) and the camera men and sound engineers moved at such speed.  

All of the guests were really interesting, and as someone who loves language and linguistics I was especially fascinated by Robert MacFarlane.  I was so thrilled to be able to contribute the dialect word for ladybird, a Bishy Barnabee.

After the end credits rolled we all left the set and we met up with Jon and Etholle to record the final part of the interview.  

The interview was broadcast on the breakfast show the next day (1:54:29) but as this link won't last past a month I've put the interview below:

It was a fantastic experience, thanks totally to BBC Radio Suffolk - a birthday to remember!

The actual Unsprung programme is available on BBC player until the beginning of July.

I went back to Minsmere the next day to spend my birthday there, but that's another blog post :-)

Friday, May 29, 2015

A Very Very Special Day

On Wednesday I walked to the cashpoint - nothing really unusual in that, I often walk into Sudbury, but it is a very lovely walk.

I walked along the river edged with froths of cow parsley, to get some cash for a very special day.

Back in December Mum had told us she'd had a special invitation but it wasn't straight forwards as she was also going into hospital in February for a hip replacement operation. Cue master planner (me).  On my weekly visits to North Norfolk to visit them (amongst taking them home cooked meals and cakes, doing the  cleaning, gardening and a miriad of other little things that become big worries when you're elderly) we:
  • bought a dress and I altered it
  • bought a jacket
  • bought a bag and I altered it
  • bought shoes
  • bought a necklace and I altered it
  • hired a suit for Dad and the shop altered it
  • booked a hotel and altered the booking
  • booked a restaurant

Because Mum had been invited by the Queen to a garden party at Buckingham Palace as an acknowledgement of her 20 plus years of volunteering at a local museum, True's Yard (I've never been, must alter that!).

From 6pm I was standing outside the front gates of Buckingham Palace waiting for them.  Dad had been worried I wouldn't find them but I knew I would. 

I spotted them immediately they came out and was so proud - proud of Mum for her volunteering and so proud that she'd been totally determined to recover from the op in order to get there and enjoy it pain free.  

We went for a meal afterwards - a perfect end to a wonderful day, they look so happy :-)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Bursting into Life

I do love this time of year, a few sunny days and everything bursts into life.  Today I noticed that one of my Cedric Morris irises - Benton Deirdre had opened. If you're watching or visiting the Chelsea Flower Show next week look out for them as they are appearing there for the first time in many years.

All the aquilegias have opened this week too, mainly self sown and I tend to leave them where they chose to be unless they're really in the way.

and some more clematis have opened too, the one on the left is called Vino, the one on the right is some kind of montana that was here when I moved in.

Two roses have opened this week, the single chinensis rose 'Mutabilis'

and Abraham Darby.

There's still a lot of blue around as the ceanothus has opened (sadly I think it'll have to come out when it's finished flowering as it's leaning across the path and I have to scramble under it to get past)

But I'll leave you with a photo not taken in my garden but at Arger Fen, a Suffolk Wildlife reserve which I called into after work one day last week.

And I heard a cuckoo, black caps and willow warblers as well as seeing the bluebells :-)