Showing posts from August, 2010

Weather Photographer

Lloyds TSB I wonder if  you might be interested in the Lloyds TSB British weather photographer of the year competition.  As this combines weather and photography, two of my obsessions, I certainly am.  In fact if they were looking for the "British Weather Gardening Photographer, with cake, of the Year" I think I would have it in the bag.  There is a weekly prize of £100 and a final prize for the winner of £10,000 which has to be good. If you hop over to British weather photographer of the year y ou can see the standard of the entry and the full rules.  There are some awesome photos.  I found it really hard to choose one for my entry from the required categories but eventually settled on this one from early last winter, a light scattering of snow having fallen and the sky heavy with more to come. It was amazing looking back at my photographs to be reminded of just how much snow we had up here.  It was truly an alien, if beautiful, world.  In fact it was g

How do you revitalise yourself?

A lovely week full of visitors, first from family, then from a gardening friend who has moved from a virtual to a real friend but whom I would never have met without blogging.  We share a passion for gardening and it was great to wander around and have my ideas both understood and challenged and to hear a new perspective on my field and my trees.  It has made me look at my garden again, appreciate the progress I have made and decide what to do next.  The wildflowers under the orchard trees need more time, thought and attention.  Zoe suggested planting rattle which weakens the grass.  I have been meaning to look into this for ages but will actually do it now!  She also had a wonderful idea for making a window onto another view, not the compelling view from the house across the valley of the ridge and the bronze and iron age hillforts, but the view down the fields towards the hidden river, where the wild cherry trees shine with white blossom in the spring.  Genius. We spent a day at an


We went out for walk, our usual walk, up our lane to where it turns to a rough track and up further to the ridge with the huge view over the Vale of Clwyd towards Snowdonia.  It's a walk of about half an hour each way and I am trying to make it my run.  So far I haven't yet managed to run up in one run, two or three minutes with a minute or so of walking in between is all I can manage going upwards.  But yesterday I managed to run all the way down.  I might have been short of breath and challenging a beetroot for colour, but I did it, and for the first time in the three weeks of trying to run, caught just a glimpse of why people might run for pleasure.  There were just moments when the track disappeared smoothly beneath my feet and the wind blew cool on my hot face and the sheep looked up in mild surprise when I thought I could perhaps get to like this.  Running, especially failing to run uphill, gives me the only possible reason for wishing I didn't live on a hill.  But I

Ancient yew trees and a changing world

I just love where I live.  I love the fact that we can get in the car and drive through green countryside and stone villages to places like Llangernyw (pronounced something like Llan with the Welsh double L - ger with a hard g - nih - ooh.  With apologies to any Welsh speakers if I have this wrong.  Please tell me if so!) Llangernyw sits in the middle of miles of green fields and rising hills just over the county border from Denbighshire into Conwy.  It is famous for the yew tree that sits beside the church of St Digains.  This tree is the oldest in Wales and one of the oldest in the country.  It is around 4000 years old, 2000 years before Christ.  This takes it back into prehistory, back into the bronze age, back to the times when the copper mines at Llandudno, thirteen miles away, were the centre of a European trade in copper.  This tree was here before the iron age hillforts that fill our view on Penycloddiau and Moel Arthur were occupied.  Stonehenge would have been stand

Being a stepmother

This is not a confessional blog.  It is not an intensely personal one.  Someone once said to me that it  hides as much as it reveals. It hops around a bit but mostly it is about my life here, trying to make a garden on two acres of Welsh hillside having turned my back on an enjoyable corporate life to have the chance to make another life while I still can, and also about the things that occupy me:growing things, cooking things, walking (or staggering up Austrian Alps).  Sometimes I write about my family as they are so much the stuff of my life but I try to respect their privacy and to ensure that if I reveal anything at all it is more about myself, which is all that is mine to reveal.  I doubt if I get that right all the time, but I try. So this blog has been a while brewing because I don't want it to be too personal but I can't get this out of my head so I think I'll have a go at writing it down and see what it looks like. A couple of weeks ago I sat in the hairdresser

In the kitchen and in the garden

One or two people have asked for an update on the kitchen.  I suspect this is so you can remind yourself how lucky you are!  Well, weeks and weeks ago we found we had to take down all the plaster to reveal the stone walls in all their glory. The stone looks quite good in the photographs but it is what is called rubble stone, soft and shaly and never meant to be on view.  There were gaps and holes and a constant fine rain of dust.  So we accepted the inevitable and had it plastered, using a special plaster which would breathe and allow the old house to breathe along with it. So here it is, very beautifully plastered by Roger and his son Dylan.  This, to put it gently, was not the work of a moment.  And painting it was not the work of a moment either. Then today the electricians came, another father and son business and another cheerful, charming and highly skilled pair.  They connected up the sockets and wired the new lights and all of a sudden the place looks like a room and not l

A garden day

Yesterday I had one of those days when I suddenly felt overwhelmed.  Inside and out, there was so much to do that it seemed it could never be accomplished and we would always live in dust weeds and chaos.  I went looking for Ian to have a consoling hug and was surprised to find myself teary.  I am so not a teary person.  I am a cheerful, easy going, competent person with a tendency to look on the bright side in a possibly irritating, Polyannaish manner.  But not yesterday.  I fought back with a chicken tagine, some homegrown raspberries and cream and half a bottle of a good red wine, eaten properly at the specially cleared table instead of on trays on our knees. And this morning everything seemed manageable again.  I decided to have a day in the garden and started by taking my camera out to record the largest sunflower we have ever grown. I am five foot four, so the sunflower is probably about eight foot high and such a perfect flower, a flower to make you smile. Today we also le

Mobile property services and other jobs

Last week, a trip to Derbyshire to help younger son and his wife with installing their new kitchen. This week a trip to Oxford to do some jobs for older daughter and her family and some for younger daughter in her new flat.  I think Ian should buy a nice white van and have it fitted out with his tools.  This would stop us going through the process of packing the car, unpacking it and packing it up again only to unpack it when we get home.  Beats the gym I guess. It is very good to be able to help adult children like this, although it is Ian who does all the work if I am honest.  I hang around making tea, carrying the baby or walking the dog, gardening if there is a garden. Now weeks stretch in front of us with no long distance DIY.  There is work to be done of the paying variety and lots of work in the house and garden too. The garden is at that stage in the year when everything looks tired and needs revitalising.  Veg needs to be sown into the beds which are being vacated by on

Going to the hairdresser

Hairdresser day again today.  I am so schizophrenic about this.  I hate the conversations about whether I have been on holiday.  I hate sitting there and looking at myself for ages and thinking how old/tired/cross I look and the whole thing of being in front of a mirror for so long.  When did my neck go?  I am sure it was there last time I looked.  I hate the  amount of time it takes when I could be doing something else.  It has got even worse now as I can't even read all the time because they keep asking me to take my glasses off. But I love seeing the colour come up bright and shiny.  I like the way a good cut produces something which practically looks after itself and which doesn't mind the fact that I am cackhanded with a hairdrier.  I like being blowdried by someone who really knows how to do it and coming out with my hair all swingy.  And I do like the sense of keeping in touch with my professional self somehow.  In a life which is lived now in jeans and t shirts, with