Thursday 27 May 2021

Creating :: Art Class in a Box #3 ... The Winter Wreath

Hi there everyone πŸ˜ƒ

It was Saturday a couple of weeks ago and  the forecast was a shocker ... heavy rain all day ... not only was the forecast a shocker it was spot on ... it was definitely not a gardening day?

I decided I was going to make the most of it and started off by getting my favourite ginger cake in the oven, before getting the dining table set up for a watercolour session ...


We’d been waiting for the right time to crack on with the next of the projects from our January Art Class in a Box and it seemed like the perfect opportunity.

This was the project I was most looking forward to completing ... and was the one that had really driven me to buying the kit ... the winter flower wreath ...

I was really drawn to the colours ... though I have to say that what I ended up with wasn’t quite as planned.

We traced the design onto our paper and, as we hadn’t done any florals before, we started off with a bit of a practice ...


It’s only our third attempt at water colours and already we’ve learned that how ever things look early on you need to stick with it ... as it’s only when you’ve finished you can really see how you’ve done ... if it doesn’t look quite right there are ways and means of pulling it back ...


The roses were a bit tricky and the colour of the petunias wasn’t quite right ... a bit too red ... but once we started to put the leaves in it did start to come together ...

I was quite chuffed with the final result ...

As was Martin ... who had been really frustrated with his first petunia and was almost on the edge of packing in or starting again ...


We just have one project left to complete ... the duck ... which looks pretty tricky, but who knows ... we’ve done all right so far.

I have to say it is the most relaxing way to spend an afternoon ... we just got all set up, stopped and started the YouTube tutorial and took our time.

We have had another play since ... working through a few Youtube tutorials ...




We’d definitely made the best of a bleak and miserable day and there was still ginger cake to be sampled 😜

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Monday 24 May 2021

The Reading Corner :: April 2021

Hi there everyone πŸ˜€

After my marathon of 6 reads in March, April was a bit less productive on the reading front, with just two books read ... both of the Jack Reacher persuasion ...

Make Me
Lee Child

This one started off quite normally ... Jack on a train journey, getting off because he liked the sound of the name of the station ... bumping into a woman waiting for someone who didn’t arrive.

It was definitely a slow burn ... not that there was no action... of course there was plenty of that ... but in that it took a long old time to even have a clue as to what was going on ... and even then there was so much more to things than met the eye. It was only in the very final pages that all really did become clear.

Jack took another few knocks along the way and this time the ending didn’t see Jack and the girl going off in separate directions ... they actually drive off into the sunset together ... though how long they would stay that way remains to be seen.

Night school
Lee Child

For some reason I didn't take a photograh of Night School ... neither did I make any notes, but after a quick refresher I can say that I really enjoyed it ... here is the synopsis from Amazon ...
"It’s just a voice plucked from the air: ‘The American wants a hundred million dollars’.

For what? Who from? It’s 1996, and the Soviets are long gone. But now there’s a new enemy. In an apartment in Hamburg, a group of smartly-dressed young Saudis are planning something big.

In the morning they gave Reacher a medal, and in the afternoon they sent him back to school.

Jack Reacher is fresh off a secret mission. The Army pats him on the back and sends him to a school with only three students: Reacher, an FBI agent, and a CIA analyst. Their assignment? To find that American. And what he’s selling. And to whom. There is serious shit going on, signs of a world gone mad.

Night School takes Reacher back to his army days, but this time he’s not in uniform. With trusted sergeant Frances Neagley at his side, he must carry the fate of the world on his shoulders, in a wired, fiendishly clever new adventure that will make the cold sweat trickle down your spine."

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I have been borrowing the Jack Reacher series from my good friend, Debbie ... so I've been able to read them in order. I was gutted to find that there are now only three left ... and I've already read one of them this month, so I'm soon going to be looking for something new ... if you've got any suggestions, just let me know πŸ˜€

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Friday 21 May 2021

Photo Scavenger Hunt :: May #3 ... Rain

Hi there everyone πŸ˜€

I wrote this post early this week as we are off up to Yorkshire today, so I was trying to get ahead.

The theme for Astrid’s Photo Scavenger Hunt this week is ... Rain ... and whilst we most certainly have no shortage of that at the moment, it’s not something I tend to photograph ... normally opting to hunker down and stay dry.

I did think I might end up giving this week’s challenge a miss but on Tuesday the heavens opened again and I decided to just take a couple of snaps with the iPad of the garden ... from the upstairs windows. Its all looking very green out there at the moment, with that initial flush of spring colour having moved on, leaving plenty of lush foliage, whilst we await the burst of bright colours that herald the summer season.

This first one is from the bathroom window ...


And the second is from our landing window ...
It always seems a bit of a shame that we can’t really see the garden from downstairs ... though since we had some alterations done a few years back we do now get a reasonable view from the kitchen window looking across the patio ...
It doesn’t look too bad from the back door either ...

Whilst I have to say I am more than a little tired of the rain now ... I am itching to get out into the garden ... as most gardeners say ... it is, at least, good for the garden.

I have everything crossed that we will get to see at least a little sunshine on our week’s break in Yorkshire 🀞🀞🀞

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Monday 17 May 2021

Exploring :: Whitacre Hall

Hi there everyone πŸ˜€

We are always on the lookout for new places to visit ... especially when on our doorstep. And if there’s a tea room involved then even better.

I can’t remember how I’d heard about Whitacre Hall. It may have been on Facebook with someone looking for a recommendation for somewhere local for afternoon tea ... I’m really not sure.

Anyway ... we’ve been meaning to try to visit probably for the last 12 months. But with lockdowns and rubbish weather it’s taken us until now to manage to get there.

I’m so pleased we didn’t forget about it or give up on the idea of going, it was a real treat.

It is only about 20 minutes from home and is literally in the middle of nowhere, tucked down a narrow country lane with no real clue of what there is to be found, until you get to the entrance where the signage declares country walks and a tea room.

The entrance to the farm is lined with the most photogenic rusty old farm machinery and I would definitely be hopping out to capture some images on the way out.

There is plenty of car parking space and entrance to the walks is through the tea room ... it costs just a £1 each to enter ...

Whilst the clouds looked pretty ominous the forecast was good so with everything crossed we paid our £1s, admired the cake, which looked amazing, and headed out ... starting with the blue route ...
This walk is about 1.5 miles long, it's nice and flat, though a little bumpy in places, well sign posted and the going was good ... no real mud at all.

Once across the bridge and into Dog Kennel Covert it was lovely ... wild flowers everywhere ... and the first bluebells I've seen outside of my own garden this year ...
We headed through the covert ...
... stopping frequently to take pictures ... white dead nettle ...
... celandine ...
... and then the most fabulous carpet of bluebells ...
The path took us out of the covert and into open farmland for a while ...
 
... before heading into Staines Covert, which is the best place for seeing bluebells ... and they were absolutely stunning ...


The path meanders through the woodland ...
... before coming back out onto more open ground, running alongside a stream lined with wild garlic ...
It really was abundant and the smell was amazing ...

The campion is just starting to make a show, but I'm guessing that will be the next big display ...
We were on the last leg ...
... and made our back through one last piece of woodland ...
... to find ourselves a spot with a view ...
... where mum and I sampled the cake and Martin opted for a sausage and egg batch ... we can happily recommend all.

We decided to leave the red route for another day and all that was left to do was for me to take a slow walk back up the drive to get a closer look at the rusty old machinery ...






... and I managed to capture my favourite shot of the day ...

I'm so glad we finally got to visit ... we will definitely be back ... I think it could easily become a favourite breakfast, lunch or tea and cake spot πŸ˜€

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Friday 14 May 2021

Photo Scavenger Hunt :: May #2 ... Mirror

Hi there everyone πŸ˜€

I had a very fortuitous delivery this week which I knew would be just the job for this week's photo challenge from Astrid over at Dragon Stitches and Stuff by Astrid.

The word to inspire this week's challenge is ... Mirror.

I thought I'd start off with one of my very favourite blurry mirror images ... taken on a walk round the lake at the very lovely Stourhead on a very autumnal day a few years back ...

It was raining, so the reflection is far from perfect, but it's one of my favourites.

My next photo was taken on a visit to a local village open gardens and was actually what inspired my latest purchase for our own garden ...
We just loved the way that the mirror reflected the greenery back into the garden. It took me ages to find a mirror that I really liked and it took an age to be delivered, but last week it finally arrived.

I knew exactly where I wanted it to go and could imagine a similar effect to what we'd seen on our garden visit. Placing the mirror ended up being nowhere near as simple as I had imagined. My perfect spot, whilst tucked into the greenery, ended up reflecting our potting bench ... covered in a blue tarpaulin.

It took a fair while to find a spot where it blended in, but also gave a reflection of garden and planting from all directions. This is where it has ended up ... propped on the back wall of the brick planter on the patio. Everywhere else it either reflected the shed, the blue tarp or the walls of the house.

Just need to get it fitted into place now ... but that's a job for another day ...
I think it's going to settle into it's new home quite nicely πŸ˜€

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Monday 10 May 2021

Exploring :: Bourton House Gardens

Hi there everyone πŸ˜€

We had hoped to visit Bourton House Garden last year when we visited Sezincote, which is literally just up the road. We’d seen the garden on Gardeners' World and thought it definitely looked worth a visit.

Sadly it was closed at the time ... due to a Covid outbreak, so we added it to the list for later.

Having recently been allowed to travel a little further afield, and on the back of a bit of a glorious Easter weekend we got all enthusiastic and planned a day out with mum for our first garden visit of the year.

Well, the weather had took a bit of a turn for the worst and it was a little bit bleak and sooooo cold, but it was good to get 'out out'.

We managed to use our 2020-21 Gardeners' World 2 for 1 ticket for the first time ... on the very last day that it was valid for and we were looking forward to having a good look round.

I have to say I don't think for one minute that we saw the garden at its best. There wasn't really that much going on at all. There was some pretty good topiary to start us off ...

It was soon clear that we were right to feel the chill ...

In its current state the garden did feel quite formal ... with not an awful lot to soften the edges ...

... though it clearly wouldn't be long before the tulips were doing their thing ...

There was a one way system in place to help with social distancing ... but we didn't need to worry too much about that ... I think we were the only people there ...
There were most definitely a few glimmers of the promise of spring ...
... and the abundance that was promised for the summer ...
We huddled for a while on the terrace at the back of the garden ...

... taking in the view looking back at the house ...

I'm not sure whether some of the garden's topiary has been hit by the dreaded box blight, but remedial work was most definitely under way, with some very severe pruning having taken place ...

There were a few very interesting, and colourful bits and pieces going on in the Shade House ...
... but the real star of the show had to be the Fritallaria Imperialis Aurora ... which were just absolutely stunning, bringing real pops of zesty orange and yellow ...
It wasn't just us that needed protecting from the bitter chill ...
The topiary round the front of the house was in good shape ...

There were just a couple more bits of colour to finish off our visit ...

All told we probably spent about an hour in the garden, though I can see that it would be easy to spend far longer during the summer months. In fact, Adam Frost, from Gardeners' World, described the garden as being ... "probably one of the best summer gardens I've seen".

Definitely need a revisit in the summer ... but even with the cold, it was lovely to get out and about for a while.

I'd packed us up a picnic lunch, with soup, and after a quick wander round the Batsford Garden Centre, we sat on a picnic bench and enjoyed our lunch ... the soup was just the ticket πŸ˜€

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