It must be December…

Snow is falling. Not in the garden, but on the blog! That confirms that December has arrived.

No snow falling here last year either as can be seen from this photograph taken on 1st December 2013


Interesting to compare it with this one taken this morning.


Can you spot the difference? The sky is a similar colour but look at the Rowan tree

Last year it was still laden with berries….. this year it has already been stripped.


Last week we visited Missenden Abbey again. I had the chance to wander in the grounds even though it was a dank and dull day. It seemed to rain whenever I was free to wander, but I specifically wanted to take a photo of these flowers.


Rudbeckia, otherwise known as Black Eyed Susans and more, is a popular plant in gardens at this time of the year, and is a welcome splash of colour as the days shorten and the sun is less obvious in the sky. However, it wasn’t the perfect bright petals that had drawn my eye but those that were withering and fading. If it had been dry I would have quickly sketched them, but after taking these shots I ran for cover.


I began my stitching journey many years ago, first at the feet of my mother and grandmother and stitched my first sampler, which, of course, was in cross-stitch. I still have it, somewhere. In the late 1980s I embarked upon a City and Guilds course in Creative Embroidery (in truth I think it was called something different then). and I stitched another sampler. This time the ‘samples’ were of threads – different types and, due to the subject matter, shades and colour too.


The subject of the sampler was Rudbeckia. The flowers were hand drawn, then the design transferred to the fabric via a tracing method. Badly stitched (it was very early in the course) it features about a dozen different types of thread, and if you look closely you will see evidence of my very first hand-dyeing efforts. Seeing the Rudbeckias that morning reminded me of this effort, and I think it’s time to make another. This time I will approach it differently. It is on my ‘to do’ list, but first….

….. draw the Rudbeckia!


Sometimes, there are things that strike you as so beautiful you just want to keep them to yourself.

Yesterday I met a good friend and we strolled amongst the colours

Some of them were a bit bizarre


But some of them I just wanted to ‘hold’ on to for ‘ever’



But as you aren’t reading this I can!


Sometimes Life’s a Magpie!

When I was a child I spent a lot of time with my lovely grandmother. She had a saying that has stayed with me, and this morning I had cause to think of it.

Many of you know that I take a photograph each day of the tree at the bottom of the garden.


The berries are ripened, and gradually disappearing as avian visitors come to feed, but this morning I was greeted by the beautiful sound of a robin singing his heart out. You can see him in the above picture if you look closely, but here he is a little more clearly, although not so sharply!


In spite of the season he was obviously,  as Grandma would have said, ‘full of the joys of spring’. Sorting my outside dyeing area was a pleasure until his singing was interrupted by an unwelcome visitor

Although happy, (who wouldn’t be with such ripe red berries to enjoy?) the chatter of the magpie is much less melodic, but his real fun was chasing away the smaller bird. His visit didn’t last long – as with all bullies he was soon off to annoy elsewhere.

So, what happened next?

Mr Robin returned and continued his serenade

He returned to almost exactly the same spot – and his song was as joyful as ever, in fact, he’s still singing some forty minutes later.

You see, occasionally life’s a Magpie! But if you wait you will discover that life’s mostly a Robin.

I hope that today your day is mostly a Robin. Take time to listen.


Guess where……?

Wales 2014 137


I’ve been away – enjoying myself! Where? Well, if you haven’t guessed the sign above might be a clue. No idea? The sign above is written in Welsh and English.

Yes, we’ve been to Wales.

Over the next little while I’ll share the odd photo, and maybe an anecdote.


Is 700 a milestone? I’m not sure. But from my point of view it certainly marks a point that I never imagined I would actually reach.

Most of you know that I have several blogs. I like to keep things separate – in boxes – (expect here, of course, where I sometimes like to ring the changes) so it might not come as a surprise to hear that I also have a blog where I post a picture a day from our garden.

Our garden is not large – but then it isn’t that small, either, and over the 30+ years we have been here has had many roles. When the children were small it sported a reasonably sized patch of grass that served as sometime soccer pitch, cricket ground, badminton or tennis court.  (It occasionally served as a sun-bathing spot too.) It has had areas where we have eaten lunch and dinner, and also smaller ones for intimate (not too intimate) and peaceful glasses of vino or cups of tea or coffee. It was often used and abused. Soft fruits once grew in abundance, raspberries (we still have a few) blackcurrants, redcurrants (yes, they are still there), strawberries (still surviving), gooseberries, and grapes. Two of the apple trees still remain and also a pear tree, but sadly the rest have gone – not felled, but fallen during several long past windy seasons.

Over the years, of course, our needs have changed. Some areas are the same, but the grass is long gone, replaced by plants and shrubs, some of which are constant, and others change from year to year, including a small patch of summer meadow. I love watching the seasons change, and each new shoot or flower bud is greeted with a smile and, of course the camera. Many of these snaps are not really photogenic, however, but do serve as a reminder of the cycles of life in which we are all included. The photographs I publish are not always meaningful to the causual viewer, but they are a record for me – and that is all that counts.

Maybe I should have waited for another 30 days – because that will record 2 years of posts, but that 700 seemed such a good round number (and it was never expected to be a once a day blog – into which it has turned)  that I thought I’d celebrate today, instead. Today’s post is here. It records the early signs of opening flowers on an established plant – soon to be just a memory as the bush becomes covered in large off-white clusters – and eventually red berries much loved by the birds. Yes, just another stage in that cycle of life.

Each season brings changes, and occasionally we introduce new additions. A (very) recent acquisition was added less than a week ago.


It’s another abode for passing bees and other insects that might visit the garden. This one is attached to my sometime outside studio, on the side wall that faces the house. The above shot was taken before it was installed, but it has already become a favourite visiting spot for an unexpected caller. Apologies for the quality of a bad photo – but it was snapped in haste through two closed windows (hence the undesirable reflections).


And that just sums up why I love our garden! It might not seem much to some of you – but it’s ours – and you never know what you will find or see.