Showing posts from July, 2010

End of month view

I seem to have been away for most of July, what with Oxford and daughter visiting, Dartmoor and parent visiting and Austria and puffing up mountains.  The garden has a dip in early July when lots of things get cut back and it all looks a bit bare and sad.  I know this is my own fault for letting oriental poppies take over and for loving the rush of spring and early summer so much that later summer gets neglected and I am trying hard to balance out my year a bit better.  I chopped back the hardy geraniums and the alchemilla and they are filling out again and there is a lot of cosmos grown from seed quietly filling in the gaps, but not yet really flowering. Here is the side garden with the hens on the march in the bottom of the picture.  I often wonder, when I find a patch of scratched up seedlings or a flattened plant, how much better my garden would be if I didn't let the hens roam in it but I do think they add their own special something to the place.  They are lovely colours th

Home again

I have never been walking in the Austrian Alps before so I was not ready for quite how stunningly beautiful it is.  This is the Lunersee, glowing like a turquoise far below us on our first day. Neither was I ready for quite how hard much of the walking was. When you look at this picture and think that you have to get over some of these mountains, it is not really surprising.  I think I had just forgotten what real mountains are like, or put my head in the sand, overwhelmed by life before we went and just closing my eyes to the scale of the task. Also we were carrying these: although mine was much smaller than Ian's.  I had hoped for that magical moment which came on about day five of my Offa's Dyke Path walk last year when you lift your rucksack and it suddenly seems lighter and you start walking and think you could go on for ever.  Sadly it never came and I carried on grunting and puffing my way up the high hills. it is just the most extraordinary thing to be in such a la

Going on holiday

Right, so I am away for a couple of weeks.  We are going walking in the Austrian Alps.  Everything I need is in my rucksack, although I would admit that this sounds better than it is as Ian is carrying a rucksack twice the size and much of our joint stuff is in there. Will I enjoy it?  I don't know.  I hope so.  We are walking with a group of people I know a little.  We are sleeping in Alpine mountain huts in shared rooms, like little dormitories.  I loved my walk last year when I walked the Offa's Dyke Path and I know I enjoy walking.  Last year I was setting the pace though and could go as slow as I liked!  I have never walked in Austria, only driven through on my way to Croatia marvelling at the high green pastures and the neatly stacked woodpiles. We have had to call on kind friends and family to move in and look after everything while we are away and the place is full of notes and lists.  The garden is full of things which are nearly ready to harvest and of things whic

Walk on Dartmoor

I am spending a few days with my parents as my dad has had a replacement hip operation.  Mornings are spent shopping and eating cheese scones, and afternoons, while my parents have a small sleep, have been for walking their dog.  My sister and her family live not far away up on Dartmoor so we have gone together, catching up, talking, putting the world to rights. It is hard to describe the beauty of Dartmoor.  My home hills are a long high ridge, running South to North along the edge of the lush Vale of Clwyd.  While the hills are high and crowned with iron and bronze age hillforts, the land is green, or purple with heather, the tops bare but the valleys clothed in trees or grazed by sheep and cows.  Dartmoor is not much higher but bare and wild.  I love these hills too: the tors and the streams and the tiny wooded valleys with their ancient trees. We walk up to a big curve in the stream where my sister's dog loves to swim.  He is a labradoodle, a huge dog, nearly as big as a w

Living the dream?

We meet some lovely folk who stay in the cottage.  After all, if you choose to come here you are not after noise and fleshpots and potted entertainment but comfort and quiet and a dose of rural bliss.  Whether it is families with young children who love opening the cottage door and letting them run in the field or couples who sit on the bench with a glass of wine watching buzzards soaring and looking into the view, it is not at all uncommon for people to tell me that I am living their dream.  It's a perfectly sensible thing to say - I'm living my dream too for that matter!  The place, the garden, the ancient house, the hens, the self sufficiency.  It's all pretty damn lovely. But it's not all moonlight and roses you know.  I thought it was time to show you some of the grot as well. So here is the dream, although I expect you have got the idea: And here is the not so dreamlike.  The kitchen is plastered and painted.  No electrics yet.  Not much of anything e