Tree time: April…

Well, what a difference a month makes…

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A whizz through the month – (if you want to see every day’s picture, they’re all on my Instagram site, you can get there by clicking the Instagram pictures or icon in the left sidebar).

You can see that at last the oak has leaves. I first caught a glimpse of pale fuzzy browny greenness towards the end of the first week in April, but I couldn’t get close enough to see really well, but other oaks along the lane started to unfurl at that time too. Within a week, you could see them for sure on the sunny days.

So I’ve learned that the oaks come into leaf a lot later than the horse-chestnuts, which are already sporting a full head of leaves and lots of candles, but there are still a few trees on the lane without leaves – now I have to go out with a book so I can work out what they are…

The last picture here was taken yesterday – quite a change from mid March.

The weather has been much better over the last few weeks, but the most noticeable thing by far for me, is the huge explosion of growth in the hedgerow and the banks. The sheer amount of plant life that has sprung up in the last couple of weeks is incredible. It’s easier to understand how important this time of year was to our ancestors when you see the rapid increase in green leaves suddenly appearing everywhere. The blossom has been and now is largely gone. Today I realised that the brambles have practically doubled in size as their new leaves seem to have shot out of nowhere. What a relief it must have been after the harshness of winter to welcome back all this plant life.


I try to post every picture I take on the same day on my Instagram site – if you would like to watch the oak more often, follow me on Instagram






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If you walk down the lane most mornings, you might well see me holding onto the Delinquent Dog with one hand, while attempting to snap using the mobile camera with the other. Trouble is, for close-ups you really do better with two hands, and unless I take my reading glasses - and really, who does take their specs when they’re walking the dog – I can’t actually see what I’m doing.

Which is why I was particularly pleased when I downloaded the pics to the Mac and found this.


The hedgerow is really coming alive this week.


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The Year in Books: March…

Almost the end of March already – where did that go!

I was going to say that this month’s reading had been an unusually spasmodic affair, but then it struck me that spasmodic is actually my norm rather than exception. So what has been on the bedside table?

Well, I started the month with the latest (to me at any rate) offering in the Pitkirtly series from Cecilia Peartree – The Queen of Scots Mystery. Not an historical whodunnit, but a modern one where the body is found in the eponymous pub. I came across the Pitkirkly books one night when I was looking for something light and cheap . The first in the series – Crime in the Community – was either free or less than £1, and had brilliant reviews, so I went for it.

They are not challenging reads, but there’s something about the wit that appeals to me. Having finished The Queen of Scots, I downloaded the next – A Tasteful Crime – but that I haven’t started yet, something to look forward to one of the nights.

If you haven’t met Christopher and Amaryllis yet, you can find them going very cheap on the Kindle. Cecilia’s blog would be a good place to find out more.

But the book that I’ve been most pleased to read in March is The Alchemist’s Journey by Glennie Kindred.


Now if the words New Age or Alternative bring out the cynic in you, or if your views on life, the universe and everything, are closer to the dishy Prof. Brian Cox than the tree-hugging Prince of Wales, don’t bother going anywhere near this book – I mean it, honestly, don’t touch it with the proverbial barge pole.

However should the idea of fusing alchemic principles with the Celtic festivals of the turning year, to assist on your spiritual journey, sound plausible (and that I suspect is where we’ll all entertain our own thoughts), give it a go.

I loved it, but then I am an ageing hippy and I have been known to hug the odd tree…



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Ta Dah…

Well thanks to a productive weekend, it’s done! Thank you so much to everyone who commented with ideas on a name for the latest piece. Something nearly always suggests itself to me while I’m working on a canvas, but this time although I’ve really enjoyed stitching it, there was a deafening radio silence as far as names were concerned, so it was really helpful to hear your thoughts.

There was considerable consensus on a title that spoke about flow, movement and nature. Something about it evidently evokes a Jacobean feeling, and the colours are distinctly autumnal.

As I’ve been stitching during the last week or so, I’ve been mulling over all your comments, playing around with word associations and combinations, waiting for the name that felt right to emerge.

Now when I tell you what happened, you’ll have to remember I am a true child of the ’60s, certain experiences molded me at an early age. So when Alister at The Bargellist mentioned in his comment being able to see snails, it triggered a chain reaction in my head. First I had a little giggle, because although not designed as snails, I could see precisely what he meant, I’m forever drawing spirals, they crop up in lots of things I make, and yes, there is a distinct snailiness about this piece.

The obvious thing was to call it snails, but…

…the trouble is, I am of the The Magic Roundabout generation, for me all snails have but one name, and so, although I tried hard to think of it as something a trifle more elegant, in the end I give you…

IMAG4881… Brian


You might be interested to know that in Christian art, snails symbolise laziness or the deadly sin of sloth…


Thank you to Catherine at Knotted Cotton for introducing me to A Scientific Romance – I’ve just bought a copy and will add it to the reading for the  ‘A Year in Books’ project.


If you want to indulge in a little Magic Roundabout nostalgia, click here.


Time for bed

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Nearly there…

Thank you to everyone who came up with their thoughts on a name for the current piece. I’m very close to finishing it now, so failing any unforeseen events (holds fingers crossed while typing this), it should be finished next week and then I’ll reveal it with the name I’ve chosen.

In the meantime, this is what I’ve been playing at when I probably had better things to do…

The thing I find about spending most of my time slowly stitching, is that every so often I have to release the valve on the images swirling around in my brain and do a bit of faster art. I think perhaps the obsession with stained glass might be evident here…

Right, I’d better get on. Happy Spring and happy stitching!







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Tree time: March…

It’s been about four weeks since the last tree project update, and as you can see, we’ve had a lot more sunny days. The oak tree itself still seems much the same, although in just the last few days I’ve noticed so many more buds appearing in the hedgerow, spring is definitely making its presence felt.

I continue to be surprised by how the light varies each day – all these pictures are taken at roughly the same time each morning, and I’m not adjusting the exposure, so what you see, is how it is on the day.

The main difference I’ve noticed since the last post, is the huge increase in birdsong and general bird activity during the morning walk – I wish there was a way to give the pictures their soundtrack. And we’ve seen lots of baby rabbits darting through the hedge – very sweet.


Over in the sidebar, are my Instagram pics of the Daily Tree Project, with the occasional stitchy update and other random snaps from daily life around here.

Do feel free to explore, or follow on Instagram or Twitter.



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more hedge framing

Green, blue & wet…

This week there’s been rather more blue sky than grey – leaps up and down with joy! Even the wet days were beautiful in their own way.


All pictures taken during the morning dog walks this week.


Over in the sidebar, are my Instagram pics of the Daily Tree Project, with the occasional stitchy update and other random snaps from daily life around here.

Do feel free to explore, or follow on Instagram or Twitter.


This, that and the other…

Well, THIS is where I am with the current piece…

IMAG4548Would anyone care to suggest a title? Usually something pops up in my mind, but I think my creative impulse is taking a spring break…

Here it is a bit closer up…

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While THAT - below- is what happens when you finally get your old easel out and play with paint all afternoon.


Although I always felt most at home with oil paint,  the practical difficulties of using it in a house where there’s no space to leave your kit set up and where you have to snatch opportunities ‘as and when’, has prevented me from painting for years. But lately Number One Daughter and I have been dabbling in gouache and acrylics, which although not the same as oil, do give you the chance to use similar techniques, and can be tidied up fairly painlessly – (the kitchen gallantly doubles as a studio, but sooner or later it has to revert to primary function).

So as it was SO MUCH FUN, I shall probably do it again…


And THE OTHER news…

I’ve been going all soft and gooey over the delicious yarns from Eleanor at Solstice Yarns (be warned, a visit to her Etsy shop will have you dribbling and/or grasping for your credit card)

IMAG4556This little bundle of silky joy is my latest acquisition.

And on a more mundane front, I have just bought these little chaps…


I’ve had so much trouble with very sore fingers over the last year or so, sometimes I wondered if I was allergic to the yarn or scrim, but then I read something recently about nickel allergy and a penny dropped. Of course it might not be anything to do with it, but I’m going gold-plated for now to see if things improve.

Happy stitching!


Over in the sidebar, are my Instagram pics of the Daily Tree Project, with the occasional stitchy update and other random snaps from daily life around here.

Do feel free to explore, or follow on Instagram or Twitter.


The year in books: February…


Coming in under the wire – my bedtime read for February was Ian Rankin’s latest John Rebus novel, Saints of the Shadow Bible.

I read somewhere, that middle-aged women are the biggest readership for crime fiction (probably rubbish, don’t ask me to provide my sources), but I have to admit, that this eternally 39-year-old very much enjoys going to bed with a good detective story.

Over the years, I’ve read my way through quite a lot of them, Inspector Morse, Miss Marple, Brother Cadfael, Ma Ramotswe et al.

At some point when the girls were small, I started reading the Rebus books. Now, before I go any further I should point out that one of my little foibles about detective fiction, is that I much prefer to buy them second-hand, preferably in charity shops. Anything that sells in huge numbers is likely to find its way into this sector pretty soon after publication, so it’s reasonably easy to pick up titles from any particular series if you keep your eyes peeled.

The slight downside, is that you don’t necessarily get to read them in publication order – well I suppose you could, but I’m not that organised. This was the case with Rebus. I think I came on the scene after about 10 years, so there was plenty to go at. I did find the chronology factor a bit annoying, but it never really got in the way of enjoying the stories.

If your only exposure to Rebus has been via the TV or radio, I urge you to put that out of your mind and go back to the source. I’ve seen and heard the various incarnations and in every instance, been desperately disappointed. (Although I loved Ken Stott playing him, the hacking out of the plot lines and omission of whole threads of characterisation just doesn’t do justice to the books).

Rebus, as with so many of the great detectives, is a flawed character, but Rankin gives so much flesh to his bones that you can’t help but believe in him. Actually I have a theory that we fans are in reality wanting to be a bit like him ourselves – but that’s just me being fanciful. So immerse Rebus into a well-tangled plot and for me, it’s the perfect bedtime reading.


(I won’t divulge the plot – if you already know the Rebus novels you wouldn’t want me to, and if you don’t, well, don’t start with this one).


March: I’m dithering about whether to go historic, romantic or detective – watch this space!


Busy busy busy…

It was half-term last week. I am in awe of anyone who manages to blog during the holiday, for me it just doesn’t happen, I’m lucky to get five minutes to read blogs, let alone sit undisturbed to write anything! Number Two Daughter managed to wangle an extra day off by timing her chest infection to perfection, but she has now gone back to school, hacking, but well enough to do PE apparently – draw your own conclusions…

But it was a terrific week: St Valentine meal cooked by Daughters for us, two birthdays (including mine – still 39 in case you’re wondering), day trip to London to combine high culture with popular culture and a droplet of shopping, a visit to Leicester to see the Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain (no, really – if you haven’t already, go and see them!), a spanking new bike for the big girl, and a new hard drive for my Mac (surely only a Mac will tell you that it’s drive is failing and can’t be repaired – in red letters – so stoical, I was going to rename it Captain Oates, but thankfully Techno-husband has returned it from the dead – it is now officially called Lazarus…

And so back into the swing. The sun is shining and my early daffodils are coming out, what more could you wish for.



Speedy’s really is a cafe next door to 221B Baker Street, except it isn’t on Baker Street, or next to 221B – it’s actually on North Gower Street, with a continual stream of Sherlock fans posing outside the cafe and the famous black door,  and yes, the knocker moves.


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Tree time: February…

It’s nearly a month since I posted about my challenge to photograph the same oak tree every time I walk past it during 2014. so I thought today I’d show you what’s been happening since mid January.

If you want to see every picture, they’re all on my Instagram site (you can get there by pressing the little button that looks like a camera under the Instagram feed in the sidebar), but I’ve put a selection here – I think I’d have to say that on the whole grey has been the word of the month. Each picture has been taken at roughly the same time of day – between 8.30am and 10.30am, but difference that the weather makes is enormous.

Even on the rare days when the sun was shining, it mainly went on to become grey and wet – there was even one day when I got soaked about five minutes after taking a sunny picture – typical…

Waiting now for signs of spring. There are catkins in the hedgerow, a few shoots showing, and occasional mornings of rampant birdsong – will it be soon?