Welcome to my blog

I love the countryside; the stunning landscapes and intricate details, plants and animals, water and weather.

I love to walk, take photos and make sketches and I am curious about the things I see. I hope that this blog will help me to learn more and find friends who are interested in the same things as me

I hope you will enjoy my little observations, photos and sketches as much as I have enjoyed making them.

Lessons from nature: setbacks can help you to grow stronger

It’s been a long and rather difficult time since I checked into my blog and I haven’t got anything new or exciting to share with the world, but this old post is striking a chord with me tonight. A door has been closed in my face, I can choose to stand outside crying, to beg to be allowed to enter again or I can turn around and pick another door. The choice is mine.

Nature Notes

pollarded tree in saffron walden high street

I wonder if anyone else thinks the same crazy thoughts as me?

I remember taking this photo about a year ago, during a particularly difficult time in my life. Looking at pollarded trees and other plants that had been pruned I realised that sometimes the things that seem to hurt the most can be the things that help you grow stronger:

It is hard when life seems full of endings; when the paths you thought would go on for ever are suddenly cut off.

And while every gardener knows that pruning a plant can divert itโ€™s energy into new shoots, seeming to give the human control over the plant, it is worth remembering that the plant still has control of itโ€™s destiny: the gardener can only prune back to shoots that the plant has already developed and shoots will only grow where conditions are right for the plant.

Just asโ€ฆ

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Beaches

The last few weeks have been pretty hectic; we’re very busy at work in the factory, at home ย the housing association are renovating our kitchen and bathroom (both at the same time) and I’ve been racing up and down the country bringing my eldest son and all his belongings home from university for the summer.

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It has been exciting, frustrating, chaotic and exhausting. How many times have I told other people to look after themselves? So easy to say, so hard to do.

I have enjoyed the challenges, loved the people, been fascinated by the changes and overwhelmed by the kindness of colleagues, friends and family.

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A part of me feels bad that I need to take time out to be alone in a quiet, calm space. It feels selfish somehow and some people find it very hard to understand. It’s just the way I’m made. I need time to slow down and sort out my thoughts, relax and recharge ๐Ÿ™‚

While I was racing up and down the country last week I took the opportunity to visit two beautiful beaches; Goodrington in Devon and St. Ives in Cornwall.

Beaches are a bit of a mixed blessing for me: I love the beautiful scenery, fascinating wildlife and soothing sound of the ocean, but I’m terrified of water … well, of drowning really …. anything more than a bath full is a bit of a challenge.

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I have always felt like I was missing out a bit; I love the idea of swimming in cool, clear water on a hot day or cruising up a river or out to sea, watching the wildlife and soaking up the atmosphere …. I’m not entirely sure why I panic, but I am working on a plan …

Last year I managed to enjoy two trips on fairly big tourist boats, one in Plymouth around the Tamar estuary, and a slightly smaller one in Torquay for a trip around Torbay. On both occasions I went alone and spent a lot of time planning how I was going to achieve my goal, watching other people enjoying their trips before trying it for myself.

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Sadly, when our lovely boss took us punting for a surprise team building day I panicked at the waterside and didn’t manage to get into the boat. It all happened too fast, there were too many people watching me, too much pressure … I am disappointed with myself and even more determined to overcome this thing!

And I have a plan: the very slowest, gentlest course of exposure therapy…

I took another baby step on the way last week when I was driving up and down the country collecting my son:

goodrington barnacles

I only got a couple of hours at each of those beautiful beaches last week, but it all counts …. every time I go I get a little bit closer to the water and stay just a little bit longer. I get to see other people doing the things I want to do and learn how to cope with unfamiliar situations. On Goodrington beach I even managed to walk on wet sand, quite close to the waves … that’s quite a big step from the concrete promenade that I usually stick to.

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By the end of the summer I want to be able to get my feet in the sea and have a ride in another boat so I get more used to the feeling. This old woman is still toddling on …. one day she will run free ๐Ÿ™‚

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Eden Project, cornwall

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On a bright, sunny day in Devon at the beginning of this week my son helped me achieve one of my ambitions; visiting the Eden Project.

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I remember reading articles and watching television reports about this being built more than 15 years ago and thinking what an amazing project. The whole thing fascinates me; the wildly ambitious concept, stunning architecture, beautiful plants and intriguing art, seeing how everything fits together and supports everything else and above all how something old, ugly and at the end of its life (an old china clay pit) can be transformed into something, exciting, beautiful and useful.

Here are a few of my favourite bits:

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There are two biomes, tropical and Mediterranean, I loved them both. The Mediterranean biome was filled with bright colours, light and space. The dry heat in here was relatively comfortable even on such a hot day and I enjoyed following the gently curving and undulating paths, pausing to admire the plants and sculptures and read the fascinating snippets of information accompanying the exhibits.

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The tropical biome was rather more of a challenge, I found the humidity and lush growth a bit claustrophobic but loved the treetop walkways. The highest viewing platform was closed due to the very high temperatures on the day we visited, I’m not sure if I would have been brave enough to climb that high though it did look like an amazing vantage point.

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The Core building, with it’s stunning ceiling is home to my favourite exhibit … The Plant Engine which demonstrates our ecosystems in a brilliantly innovative way.

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The tortured form of the giant WEE man shouts his desperate message soundlessly … a truly moving piece.DSCN2760

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And of course there were flowers ….

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Simply stunning ๐Ÿ™‚

A magical evening walk

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A beautiful day today, I couldn’t wait to get out with my camera after work; a snowstorm of pollen catching the light, stunning spider’s web, the challenge of catching bees on comfrey, a shiny, slimy slug (bit worried what the dog walkers thought I was doing when I was taking this one) and a fluffy bunny.

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slug

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These things made me happy tonight ๐Ÿ™‚

Feeling grateful for these hardy souls

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It’s raining today and the garden is sagging under the weight of a leaden sky. But still I can hear birds singing and know that the warm rain is bringing life to my little patch.

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May has been a month of abundance in the borders and pots. The little trees I transplanted in winter have fresh new leaves and my old friends aquilegia and forget-me-not are blooming in every available nook.

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The variegated weigla that I grew from a cutting is now stands over six feet tall in spite of my husband’s attention with the shears and is covered in delicate pink blossom.

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And in my nursery corner I have pots and pots of summer flowering bulbs waiting to burst into life … a bargain pack of fifty bulbs for ยฃ5 that with just a little compost and a little time will fill my garden with colour later on in the year.

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I have to confess that I have been feeling rather stressed out and useless recently. Looking through these photos and thinking about my garden has given me something to smile about today ๐Ÿ™‚

Lessons from nature: setbacks can help you to grow stronger

pollarded tree in saffron walden high street

I wonder if anyone else thinks the same crazy thoughts as me?

I remember taking this photo about a year ago, during a particularly difficult time in my life. Looking at pollarded trees and other plants that had been pruned I realised that sometimes the things that seem to hurt the most can be the things that help you grow stronger:

It is hard when life seems full of endings; when the paths you thought would go on for ever are suddenly cut off.

And while every gardener knows that pruning a plant can divert it’s energy into new shoots, seeming to give the human control over the plant, it is worth remembering that the plant still has control of it’s destiny: the gardener can only prune back to shoots that the plant has already developed and shoots will only grow where conditions are right for the plant.

Just as trees and shrubs will send out more shoots when they have been pruned and flowers bloom more profusely when their dead heads are removed, I too can choose to grow again and explore new possibilities.

I find it comforting to remember that the willows will still be willows and the roses will still be roses, pruning will not change the nature of the plants nor will my setbacks change the nature of who I am.

When I look at this tree, with it’s sturdy, mature trunk and many brave new shoots reaching for the sky I see courage, resilience, compromise and hope for a peaceful, bountiful future.

Inspired by nature

blossom box

Tonight I would like to share a little box I painted, inspired by the photo of blackthorn blossom below, which I took on a walk round the village a few weeks ago.

I have added leaves to the blossom on my box, so it is probably more like hawthorn blossom really.

It was more the feeling of freshness and hope that I was trying to capture in the bright contrast of white blossom against a clear blue sky.

This box is going to sit on my dressing table where I hope it will remind me of the wonder and contentment I felt on the day I took the photo and give me the satisfaction of having a successfully completed project to boost my confidence every day.

blackthorn blossom

I have so much to learn about identifying plants and hope I have got this one right … please let me know if I have got it wrong.