Last weekend, Mr VP and I went back to a place that has always been very important to us. I used to walk the dog there every day, in driving rain and snow; in autumn gales and spring gusts. It was a place I knew so well that I could describe the plants there, the trees, the paths. Despite our four year absence, it was largely the same but somehow felt different; not because it is different, but because maybe I am. I think I appreciate so much more than I used to. We stopped for a moment in the heart of the woods to watch three or four speckled wood butterflies dance round a patch of brambles. I feel very lucky to have seen a family of wrens before they noticed us and flew off. Even more amazing was that we came face-to-face with a big doe deer, a roe deer I think, before she leapt and sprang her way off deeper into the pine woods. What an amazing place.
Thursday 21 August 2014
Wednesday 20 August 2014
Have you noticed that the nights are getting cooler and the mornings a little dewier? I know I have, and when that happens and the leaves look like they’re beginning to fall, I know I’m at the beginning of tights season. Walking along the beach with Mr VP the other day, I was glad of their warmth. I also really enjoyed being able to wear my favourite desert boots, too. It turns out that I didn’t need quite the blog break that I thought I did – a week was long enough!
Sunday 17 August 2014
Do you know, I think I’ve temporarily lost my blogging mojo. I have been juggling so many things in the background that blogging is having to take a little bit of a back seat for a while. Each time I think I should pick up my camera and photograph X, Y or Z, something else crops up and I have to put it to one side. So for a week or two, I think I will be absenting myself from the blogosphere, until I can come back, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in September. Until then, here are some of the things we’ve been eating at Chez VP. Salmon, olive and brie pizzas on spelt and buckwheat bases; the purplest blueberry pancakes (thanks to some yummy blueberry flour from a dear friend in Estonia – I’ll blog about this in more detail soon); a whole variety of veggies from my mother’s garden, roasted and tossed with pasta; cheese scones. Yum.
Friday 15 August 2014
I heard this song on random shuffle and knew that the song found me exactly when I needed it; exactly when I was meant to listen to it and heed its words. They just leapt out at me, then and there. And walking along the beach, I was humming it and every word of it was true. “Days like this, have you ever seen a sky such a clear blue?”
Tuesday 12 August 2014
Today has been one of those grey days. A day when the visitors have gone and I’m left in the silence of the house, with none of the hustle and bustle, able to breathe for a second but also missing the company. A day when I feel a little bit at a loose end, when the sound of a whining dog-behind-a-baby-gate has been replaced by the creak and hum of the house breathing. So I fidgeted for a while, before deciding that I needed to get out and as it has been a really busy weekend, I knew that I needed to chill out and blow away some of the cobwebs, so I headed to the beach.
The remnants of Hurricane Bertha’s passage over the coastline was everywhere: battered bits of flotsam and jetsam lined a shore that had changed shape and inclination because of the strength of the wind, waves and rain that we had over the weekend. Everywhere I looked there were odd patterns in the sand, made by the wind blowing sand around, but which looked like I was walking on a gritty, beige carpet. The sand had covered the stones and larger rocks and in places these rocks had become pushed up to the top of the beach and formed a foot-high wall. There was hardly anyone around as I swiped my hair out of eyes and mouth; the wind blowing it furiously back as soon as I try.
Slowly but surely, I could feel the weight of stress and overexcitement lift away; with each rolling wave. I walked for ages, until I could centre myself again, before having to walk the loooooong way back along the beach.
Wednesday 6 August 2014
August is a little bit of a funny month, in-between the hopeful summery bits where we enjoy the long days and warm evenings and the secretly hoping for autumn, when the cold comes again and you wake to the smell of leaf-litter and chill on the morning air. Of course, we’re still making the most of summer while we have it, and visiting places that we know will not be the same when the mercury is hovering around 0ºC and there’s a Nor-Easter howling through. But with the knitting needles coming out, the end-of-summer sales everywhere and the proximity to a certain festive month (Christmas cakes are made next month – eep!), it’s starting to feel slightly less summery. In the kitchen, meals are a bit ad-hoc, as it is still too warm to want to do much, but we still eat well, with lots of summer veggies, pulses, legumes and eggs. I was so happy to see a double yolked egg! It was my first since we had our own hens.
Last weekend, Mr VP and I visited the much-loved (and sung-about) Leazes Park. Grand old Victorian parks are some of my favourite city spaces and when they overlook the Georgian and Victorian grandeur of the buildings around (Mansard roofs = love), they are even more special. We hovered around the lake and watched an angler with his fishing line so engrossed in his angler’s trance that he didn’t notice three, bold as brass rats running into his bait bags and stealing food. We saw swans and herons and geese swimming around the island.
At the beach, this is the time to see the birds, some of which have finished breeding and are in the waiting period before they fly off to visit distant climes. The Arctic terns we have seen around have already begun to feed themselves in preparation for the next summer they will see when they leave our shores and make the tremendous 10,400 mile journey to enjoy the (relatively) summery weather in the Antarctic. To think of making that trip with planes and boats and cars seems almost impossible for me as a human being, but to them it is just part of life and it is absolutely remarkable.
Monday 4 August 2014
At 10pm, we turned our lights off and lit a candle to remember the last hour of peace before WWI began in 1914. It was a solemn moment of remembrance for those who gave up their lives. It made me think how quickly things can escalate and lead to so many lost lives.