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Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Garden Flowers

Just as I don't like anything too shiny and bling, I like my flowers simple too. It's lovely at this time of year being able to snip a few stems from the garden. I had a real urge to paint this jar full, but again have struggled to find time. So the other night I stayed up late and went ahead. 
I used my new watercolour paper from Tiger Stores - highly recommended and very economical. I've also mixed in a few of their cheap and cheerful watercolours.

I was inspired to have a go at this after revisiting a couple of old books in my collection.

And this beauty:


Sunday, 10 May 2015

The beauty of Coton Manor Gardens

On Friday, as the country was waking up to a new political landscape, I was heading west for a day out with my oldest friend. We had arranged to meet at Coton Manor near Northampton, which is a direct mid point between our two homes. The Manor is famous for its gorgeously landscaped gardens (and quirky wildlife, of which more later).

The sun wasn't out, but it was a mild day, perfect for walking and talking.

As usual in all the most impressive gardens I've ever seen, there are plenty of different 'rooms' which lead enticingly one to another. I love this old brick path and arch combination.

Though the gardens are immaculately tended, the owners are not too precious to allow their chickens to roam freely. I don't think I've seen a happier or healthier bunch of birds!

Down by the lake, we encountered this pair. Trying to ignore the election results too :)

Another shot of colour from these tulips...

A gate takes you into a field leading to a bluebell and beech wood. Lovely how the light filters through the trees enhancing the blue.

Back to the formal borders, and now the sun was coming out. Just time to visit the excellent (and very popular) cafe for home made soup and sandwiches. You can sit outside in the courtyard to eat. There are also lots of plants for sale and a small shop. 

A lovely day out in the English countryside.

And a great spot to meet a friend.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Hello spring, hello blog

The other day my mum asked me if I had given up writing my blog. It made me think. The answer is no, I haven't, but there have been lots of extra demands on my time recently, so it's been difficult to find a space. I do post a lot on Instagram too, as it's easy to sit in a chair and pop a single photo online. But I do miss writing longer posts, and using my DSLR. So, this post is a bit of a catch up. 
I've been trying to make the most of the spring, walking when I can, and occasionally running. I've teamed up with a friend in the village and we motivate each other to exercise. We do Pilates, one or two Zumba classes a week, and also some circuit training. For me, it's much easier to stick to the routine when you know someone is relying on you for a lift, or vice versa. Much less tempting to kick off the shoes, curl up on the sofa and think, "oh, I'll go next week...." 

It's not just about losing weight, although that's very welcome. I just think exercising makes me feel better generally and appreciate where I live. On Saturday morning, my friend and I went running through some bluebell woods. Neither of us finds running very easy, but how could we not enjoy this sight! It was simply amazing.

I've turned my crafting away from sewing and towards painting. I loved Emma Bridgewater's dresser print fabric and when I read about her mother in law, the designer Pat Albeck, describing how it had been created, using collage, I decided to try the technique with my own dresser and china collection. I had great fun doing this: I was obsessed, sneaking in a quick painting session whenever I could. I like how it turned out, being able to layer things up and also move them around until I am happy with them. 
I'd love to try this in a lino print too, but I do find that lino is more time consuming, and I need to plan a whole day to work on that, which just isn't possible at the moment.

We're clearing my late father in law's house, ready for sale. So we've been decluttering at home, in preparation for some of his furniture coming to live with us. Bank Holiday Monday saw us at a car boot sale, with a boot full of items to shift. We got on well, and of course I came home with a few small finds including the Victorian bottles at the top of this post.  

Drawing and painting the china makes me appreciate it more. Here's a posy of garden flowers in a charity shop jug. 

Back soon!