Showing posts from February, 2010

So what is in your bag?

I have just been reading the lovely exmoorjane 's blog about her handbag - wonderfully revealing about her and leading to a whole series of blogs by all the other people who have opened up their bags too.  I have just  bought a new bag which is quite a rare occurence for me so I might be prepared to share it before it fills with crumbs and old biros. My new bag is not an expensive one.  I don't think I could bring myself to spend a lot of money on a handbag and I get really uncomfortable when I see some of the heavily quilted and chained designer bags around, clanking with excess.  They just look horrible to me. There are some really beautiful designer bags like those made by Mulberry which I sort of admire from afar.  I do love the way they look but I would never buy one.  There would be a little voice pointing out to me that I could buy a small car for the money, a pretty rubbish car maybe, but still something with four wheels and an engine that could take you places.  I do

I did it!

  I barely believe this but I did it - look, two socks! I took Pipany's advice to put my time by the fire to good use and here they are.  Inevitably the second one is better than the first but only I know where I struggled.  Now they are on my feet and incredibly cosy. Anyone who has read my blog for any length of time (both of you) will know that I am bit conflicted about women's traditional skills.  As a 70s feminist I embraced wholeheartedly the idea that the most important thing for a woman was financial independence and I have lived that life, partly by choice and, when I was a single parent, with no choice at all.  I have worked in a traditionally man's world for twenty years and loved it and thrived.  And if you have children and a job it is hard to find time to blow your nose, never mind to make aprons and peg bags and to darn socks as my grandmothers did.  But because I grew up in New Zealand at a time when everyone learnt and practised practical skills, I can kni

Dreaming of spring

I give up.  We woke up this morning to a covering of snow, not a heavy one but enough to plunge us back into winter.  It has been cold as cold up here this week and all the signs of spring are stubbornly stuck.  The fat hellebore buds remain resolutely closed.  The primroses, which last year were flowering cheerily alongside the snowdrops, are green and pinched and cold.  The snouts of daffodils squat, frozen into immobility.  Only the snowdrops are flowering in the side garden and along the garden wall. So today I am going to sit by the fire and dream of spring, not the early spring of hellebores and crocuses but the full frontal overflowing of primroses and daffodils and blackthorn and apple blossom. Blackthorn like this against a blue spring sky. Primroses.   Kneel down and smell them.  They are the faint, sweet, green smell of spring.   February Gold daffodils.   Do they bloom for you in February?  Here, although they are the first daffodils to open, they

The three best things about February

OK, I am just on my way out to the pub but, in the spirit of not succumbing to the February blues, I would like to ask you for your nominations for the three best things about February. Here are mine: It is short. I know, I know, not in the spirit of the thing at all. I am supposed to be being positive and uplifting. I must try harder. Snowdrops. I love snowdrops. I couldn't manage to be a galanthophile because there is too much time outside in the biting cold looking at flowers through a magnifiying glass for me. My knees get cold. But I do love them en masse and I love them clumping up steadily here with their white purity and faintest of scents. Every night it is a little lighter. You can practically feel the lengthening day and sometimes you find you have gone outside to shut the chickens away on automatic pilot and you find that they are still wandering around because they have clocked the extra half hour of daylight which you somehow forgot about. Any more?

You know how I always go on about not liking February?

This morning it was clear and sunny, cold but vivid.  The stubborn patches of snow that have clung to the north facing sides of the hills up on the ridge have almost gone.  You can just see a paler smudge which is the last of the snow on the north side of Moel Arthur, the highest point in this picture. The sky behind the twisted willow was unbelievably blue. The very last blooms cling to the witch hazel like shreds of bright tissue paper. I moved some globe artichokes which I had grown from seed in the autumn.  They languished looking very unhappy for a while but today they seemed to have shaken off their uncertainty about their new position and were shining in the sun. Even the bark of the big sycamore looked strange and beautiful in the clear light. I wonder how long it will be before the oak trees leaf?  I always do this, watching and waiting for signs, longing for spring.  Perhaps I should remind myself that in its way that is wishing my life away.  Le

Bits and bobs

I have had a few days away with my parents, catching up on family things.  It was lovely to see them but very good to come back home at the end of the visit.  Funny how being away makes you very aware of the patterns of life that are so woven into your day you hardly think about them when you are in your own place doing your own things: the time you get up, the time you go to bed, when and how much you eat.  Coming back home yesterday and settling into my own bed was ridiculously blissful.  I had been sleeping in a perfectly comfortable bed but my own bed folded itself around me like a lover.  I must be getting seriously fixated. The wind has blown cold up here today but in the morning the sun shone bright and I wandered around catching up with the garden.  Snowdrops are filling out now along the bottom of the stone walls.  I found three eggs nestling in the nest box, the first of the year.  I had them scrambled for lunch with buttery toast made from home made bread.  I love eggs,

Why do I garden?

I sometimes come across something which hangs around with me and won't quite leave me alone until I give it some time and really think about it.  I have been wondering over the winter about why I garden with the passion and devotion I do.  Anne Wareham who has produced the most stunning garden at Veddw  and who edits a fascinating website at thinkingardens  argues most persuasively for gardening as a form of art, as in her hands it surely is.  But that is not how it is for me.  So what is happening for me that makes it take up so much of my time and energy and thought? We have two acres of land which surround our sixteenth century farmhouse on the Clwydian hills in North Wales. The land is all sloping and the soil is stony and fastdraining, although fertile enough if you help it along a bit with compost and manure. We have been here for four years and I am very slowly planting and cultivating. What I am doing is not in any way gardening as a form of art. I do wholeheartedly belie