My Blog List

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Seasonal pleasures

I've been ticking off tasks on a list that has been sitting around for far too long. Last weekend, we launched an attack on the messy hinterland of our garden. It's here that nettles and brambles abound. We make half hearted attempts to tame it, but we're always defeated and it grows back (our garden backs on to a field so it's hard to stem the tide of nettles). It is amazing how much you can achieve in a day. We also picked up the windfalls, and mowed the grass.

By the afternoon, Perry had had enough so he went to a football match, while I drove some of the green waste to the local dump. While I was throwing it into the skip, I spotted this huge flour bin in an area marked 'please take.' I snatched it up and popped it into the boot of the car. I have never before found anything interesting at the dump, so I felt quite delighted that I'd  made this discovery!

Now on a roll, I picked some blackberries from the field, froze some and made some into crumble with some of the apple harvest. On Sunday, I did something else which I've been promising myself. I  volunteered to help out at the arts festival in Peterborough. I worked in a pop up cafe for a few hours, washing up, serving cakes, coffees and teas. I met some lovely people, heard some live music, and it was a joyful occasion.

Next on my list, I will go to some of the talks, readings and music events that I say I will attend, and never do. The Cafe is in an arts centre, and a lovely garden has been installed there. They had some very pretty yarnbombing going on, and some great ideas for planting.

This yarn bombed peacock hued bike was a picture.

Tomorrow, I'm going to interview a textile artist in Kent for LandScape magazine. I am so looking forward to it. I will report back with a few glimpses of what she does, but I probably can't show too much until the article is printed. Already I feel that I am climbing out of my rut and making lots of new plans.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

A season sneaking in....

The season is on the turn, although I think that summer may be returning next week. I hope so, I'm not ready for autumn yet. When I walked over the field to the post office just now, the bushes were full of berries, and there are hazelnuts in the trees and oak apples too. 
Sorry for the blog break, I've been busy with work, and it has taken a long while to catch up after my holiday. Last weekend we had friends to stay, which was lovely, and we took full advantage of the sunny weather on Sunday, taking our new canoe down to the river.

Then it was the village horticultural show, which went ahead despite the rain.

These are not my prize winning vegetables (definitely not!), but I did get a first prize for some yellow damson jelly and a second for raspberry and redcurrant jam. 

I did not do any cookery competition classes this year, as I was baking for our friends, but there were some lovely entries to see in the marquee.

So, nearly time for a new term, eldest back to uni and youngest starting sixth form.

It always feels like a good time for a change in September. As a freelance, I have to make my own luck, so I'm trying to work out where I go next.

Wandering around the fields with flowers in my hair isn't going to get anything done, so I need to get my focus back.

I do have one lovely assignment for a national magazine lined up for early September, and the local magazine takes plenty of my time but still....

I feel like a new journey should begin....

Friday, 15 August 2014

The colours of Greece

We had a beautiful week in Paxos. The island is small, wooded and incredibly laid back. I was captivated by the colours of the paint, the turquoise of the sea, the old tiles and the changing light. Here are a few shots which sum it up.

Arch by a 16th century church on a hillside.

Church floor tiles. 

Shutters in the island capital, Gaios.

Lovely shop by the sea front in the tiny port of Logos.

Ochre walls - and fresh peach juice!

Stunning old villa in Gaios.

Yes please!

Sunshine colours.

Peeling paint.

Bell in the hillside church.

The beaches aren't sandy, they are full of these polished white pebbles.

I love these beach bar signs. Nothing better than a long swim followed by lunch in the shade.

Goodbye Paxos. 

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Keeping a journal

I'm keeping an illustrated journal for a few months. I've tried this before and it's never really worked out, but this time, I seem to be getting into the habit. I got the idea from an arts organisation in Peterborough. They're encouraging 100 people in the city to keep a diary for 4 months. They are hoping to enlist people whose voices are not often heard, so for example those who are marginalised for some reason. At the end of the allotted time, the journals will be shown in an exhibition in the city museum. I think it's a lovely idea. Now, nobody could say that I don't have a voice, what with a blog, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and regular articles, but it has encouraged me to give it a go and one of the people who is running the scheme was kind enough to give me a journal (I think she could see the look of labrador-like enthusiasm on my face when she was telling me about the plan as I interviewed her for the local magazine). 

I'm hoping to use drawing, painting, writing and collage in the journal. I try not to agonise over it, just sit down and write whatever comes to mind. Recently, my oldest friend found a stash of letters that I'd written to her between the ages of 10 and 21. She moved away from my village when we were at junior school but we remained very close,  and so I've photocopied some of those letters and included them in the diary as they have been on my mind. I have since found her letters to me, so we now have the complete correspondence. It's hilarious, touching, and also a bit strange, to see them. 

Although nothing much happens in these letters, they do capture a moment in time, growing up in the 1970s pre-mobile phones, email, Facebook, Snapchat, selfies and screens. Not necessarily better, but certainly different and I think they show that there was less pressure to grow up quickly, but also just less pressure generally. 
Keeping the journal is also a great way of drawing more often, and making time to sit down and write it. I like the ritual of it. It's not perfect, just scribbles and sketches, thoughts, and observations.

Haven't written about quilts yet, but I'm looking forward to writing and drawing that one. 

I know there are some other bloggers who are keeping journals, and I've seen some beautiful ones on Pinterest and I have a few books about them too. Has anyone else had a go at this? I'd love to hear about it.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Hampton Court Flower Show

I've never been to an RHS Flower Show before. It's one of those things that I've always wanted to do, but just never quite got around to. Then a Peterborough artist and garden designer called Jeni Cairns told me that she'd been sponsored by an arts organisation to build an urban community garden which would go to the show, and then come home to the city centre for everyone to enjoy. So I've been following her progress and writing about her story for the local magazine. It seemed only right that I should go and visit the garden at the show and see Jeni and her co-designer Sophie with their wonderful achievement. I was able to go on press day, which meant no crowds or queues, and what a lovely time I had. There was just so much to see in every kind of style, and in such a gorgeous setting by the River Thames.

As well as the amazing show gardens, there are stalls selling garden furniture, accessories and plants, of course. I took so many pictures and I don't want to bore everyone, so am just selecting a few to show you. Here are some of the show gardens, starting off with Jeni and Sophie's gold medal winning A Space to Connect and Grow, which Monty Don, no less, declared his favourite in the whole event!

Everything in this garden is recycled: old scaffold boards make the planters and pavilion sides, oil drums are cut in half to be seats and to create a decorative wall. The orange and green water feature is constructed from parts of an old combine harvester.The plants include vegetables and herbs. The space in the middle is a stage, where artists performed all week.

I just love these oil drum panels, with old grilles, bicycle wheels and plasma cut shapes inside. The large metal heart that I wrote about in a previous post was made by Jeni. I do love the way she combines delicate designs with the industrial metal.
Elsewhere in the show, I saw minimalist Zen gardens, cottage gardens, vegetable gardens and I loved the naturalistic planting in the Jordans Cereal garden and the Macmillan garden.

Jordans Cereal garden

Gorgeous planting in the Macmillan garden.

Precision veggie planting

The view from the John Lewis tree house!

Demonstrations (and live music through the arch!). 
The floristry tent had a theme of circus. This gypsy caravan was vibrant!

And the nurseries who were selling plants had pulled out all the stops with their displays.

Thanks for stopping by, and to everyone who has followed me on Instagram. I am really enjoying it over there, where I post regularly @fionacumberpatch.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

A nest

I was clearing space at the end of the garden today where it's totally overgrown with nettles, sticky grass, dried cow parsley and weeds. As I was pulling some ivy from a tree, I spotted this nest tucked inside a fork in the branches. I checked thoroughly to make sure it was old, and it had quite a lot of debris inside, so I was  satisfied that it was probably a last year's nest. I slid it out of the tree and photographed it in the late evening sun. I love the shadow of the nest, showing all its intricate threads. I've made it my header photo now. Such a beautiful thing, a nest.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014


I've just joined Instagram. I often post photos of flowers, vintage, crafts etc on my Facebook page, but not all friends are interested, so I thought it would be nice to have (yet another) outlet. My Instagram name is Fiona Cumberpatch (not very imaginative but I knew there wouldn't be another one!). I'll be catching up with some of you over there and meanwhile, look out for me! 
I am sure I will be Instagramming like a good 'un next week as I am very excited that I have a ticket to the Hampton Court Palace flower show. I have followed a local garden designer's progress to the show for a feature in the local magazine, and I just can't wait to see Jeni Cairns and her finished project.

Jeni is an artist as well as a garden designer. She uses lots of upcycled materials and repurposed items in her designs. She's been plasma cutting old oil drums to make features for the show garden, and a few weeks ago, I bought one of her lovely recycled metal hearts. This is really big - half a metre wide - and looks so good hanging on my shed in my wild garden.

I just think it's beautiful!

About Me

My Photo
I'm a freelance journalist living in a village in East Northamptonshire with my husband and youngest son. I love visiting car boot sales, auctions and markets and writing about my inexpensive finds, and also some small craft projects and my attempts at watercolour painting and patchworking. I'm the editor of a local magazine, so I find out about loads of interesting things that are happening in my community, some of which I share here, too.