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Showing posts from November, 2011

Being very bad at Christmas shopping

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I have never been a great shopper.  I am always puzzled by the idea of retail "therapy" and am mildly astonished that many perfectly lovely and intelligent people seem to enjoy spending time in huge shopping centres like Bluewater, Westfield or, my personal bete noire, the Trafford Centre.  Too much choice makes me shut down and too much pressure to spend turns me into a one woman awkward squad and makes me hang onto to my purse.

There is not a lot of shopping you can do up here anyway.  We are not totally in the middle of nowhere.  In twenty minutes or so you can be in any one of three nice small towns, Mold, Denbigh or Ruthin, where you can do a supermarket shop if you want to, find some good small shops and buy a decent cup of coffee.  There are some lovely independent retailers too like Homewood Bound and the Craft Centre just down the road at Afonwen but you have to travel forty five minutes or so to get to Chester to find a proper city.  In fact Chester is a very fine …

Scenes from my kitchen - nearly the end of the series!

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The tiling is just about done, only the grouting to go.  Then I can use the kitchen properly!  Then it might not look quite as empty and lovely as it does just now, so now could be the time to show it off.


Here is where we started.

And this is probably about as bad as it got with the cupboards out and the ceiling down.

Here we have come a long way but there is still a lot to do.  The electrics are in, the new plastering is done and the slate floor is underway.

The slate floor is down and grouted and Ian starts work on the framework which will make new shelving down one side of the kitchen.

And in the blink of an eye (he may throw something at me when he reads this) here are the shelves, ready and raring to go.

Then there was a small hiatus while we waited for the Ikea delivery.  When it came it was an exciting day.  The delivery lorry was huge and was reversed down our drive excrutiatingly slowly by the skilful driver.  When he got to the big sycamore he had to stop and the boxes, wh…

Tulips, autumn, mess and tangle

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This week I went to see Karen at Artists Garden and drove the high and lovely road West across Wales to the sea.  I love this road.  I have driven it in sun and in rain and in winter, summer and autumn and whenever I drive it the high emptiness of the Denbigh moors followed by the slow and beautiful descent to the sea makes my heart sing.

Karen had also arranged for me to meet Kate at Beangenie guessing rightly that we would have a lot in common so it was day for wandering around their gardens, sitting outside a lot, drinking lots of tea and relishing good company.

Karen's garden is very different from  my own both in size and in the style of planting.  Her garden is a late summer and autumn garden and sure enough there was still colour from a whole bed of salvias shimmering in the still sunlight.  And there was movement too, even on a windless day, from the grasses firing upwards like fireworks or fountaining gently in flowing curves down by the studio.  My garden has been ignore…

Sorting out the pantry

The kitchen is so very nearly ready.  Slowly we are bringing things in from the utility room and colonising the cupboards.  The worktops are in, smooth and pale hardwood, satisfyingly honey coloured against white cupboards and the dark slate floor.  We have bought the wall tiles now, also grey, a beautiful pale pearly grey.  They are just waiting for Ian to have time to do the tiling. Grey might sound a bit dreary but they are beautiful, trust me.   The dishwasher is working, alleluia.  It is all very nearly ready.

And sorting out the kitchen brings all sorts of other sorting out in its wake.  This weekend was the turn of the pantry.  I love having a pantry.  I have always wanted one.  It's hard to say exactly why, in this age of fridges and freezers, but I love a pantry.   My grandmother had one and I used to love the ingredients all lined up and the pies and cakes, covered on their big plates on the slab.  This is the first house to have a pantry that I have ever owned, a proper…

Too much stuff

Once upon a time I used to travel light.  I could be ready and off and out the door in about ten minutes with a little rucksack on my back and my purse in my pocket.  That was before the days of mobile phones and digital cameras.  I think life was simpler then but it might simply be that I was - simpler, younger, lighter.

I began to acquire stuff when I acquired my own house.  Prior to that I had lived in a series of furnished, rented places where moving from one flat to another could be done on foot in an afternoon with a couple of cardboard boxes and the aforementioned rucksack.  Buying a house was part of getting married and that was followed very swiftly by having a baby.  We didn't have much money but nevertheless stuff poured in remorselessly through the door like floodwater: furniture and pans and crockery and cushions, a cot and a pram and toys and a steriliser and a car seat.  When we separated while the children were still small my then husband didn't want any of the…

Coed Nant Gain - Ancient Woodland

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I am sitting here feeling a bit sorry for myself with a sore throat and a muzzy head that has kept sending me back to bed for the last couple of days.  This evening I have manged to get up and sit by the woodburner but I am still feeling dopey and dozy and lethargic.  So I thought I would distract  myself by telling you about a visit last weekend to a rare and beautiful place.



Coed Nant Gain is a piece of ancient woodland near the village of Cilcain in Flintshire.  Its owner, Iliff Symey, has devoted the last twenty five years of his life to caring for this place which he calls "old growth ancient woodland".  Ancient woodland in England and Wales is defined as woodland which has been in existence since 1600 or before.  This woodland is much more than four hundred years old, possibly thousands of years and certainly stretches back into prehistory.  This wood was in existence when the iron age hillforts such as Penycloddiau and Moel Arthur which sit above my farmhouse were occu…

End of month view for October

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Slightly late (and confessing that somehow I managed to miss last month entirely) here is the end of month view for October, hosted by Helen at patientgardener

I have lost it a bit with the garden as the winds blow.  The winds here in our bit of North Wales have been from the South and East for more than a week.  The good thing about that is that the temperatures are higher than usual for the beginning of November.  The bad thing is that our house is perfectly protected from the westerly and north westerly winds which prevail around here. We are tucked down and barely feel a ripple as the winds go by.   A south easterly though comes roaring across the valley and shakes the yew trees and drives me inside.  Today the wind had gone and it was a still, blue and gold day.  I planted some of the ludicrous numbers of tulip bulbs bought from Peter Nyssen out into the cutting garden - two of the big squares, both in triangles of Abu Hassan and Ballerina.



I love them both.  I have been growing…

Things that make me feel good

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Sometimes it is the simplest things that make you feel good if only you can slow down enough to really notice them.


A still clear morning, trembling with dew.  That stillness and sun has all blown away now in a gusting cold wind, but it was there, for a day.

A visit on Monday from some blogging friends, mountainear, snailbeachshepherdess, bodran and bluestocking mum - tea, cake, more tea, even more cake and vast amounts of talk and laughter.  Things have not been easy for everyone over the last year or so and yet there seemed to be nothing we couldn't talk about or laugh at.  It doesn't happen more than twice a year but it's amazing how easy it is to catch up and how our lives intertwine.


The sight and size and gentle furriness of the quinces which Felicity brought for me.  Aren't they beautiful?

A full log basket and a fire in the woodburner.

A full glass.

Three perfect eggs from the Light Sussex hens.

A video of my two year grandson sitting in his cot by himself, si…