Location:United Kingdom

An avid tea-drinker who likes nutmeg in her coffee and warm lavender-scented quilts. She knits, crochets and partakes in random acts of craftiness (and kindness). She likes obscure works of literature, philosophy and the idea that her mind exists separately from her body. She enjoys moving furniture around, literary criticism and baking bread. She writes haiku about nettles, would like to swim with seals and become completely self-sufficient. She writes as if her life depends on it, listens to beautiful music, and loves her darling husband Mr. VP.

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Monday 27 April 2015

Newcastle’s Splendid Bridges

In yesterday’s glorious sunshine, we opted to visit the Quayside market in Newcastle.  Not having been to it before, we were excited about what we might find.  As it turns out, we ended up getting off the bus a stop later than anticipated (our fault) and ended up on the Gateshead side of the Tyne.  I’m actually really glad that we did have this slight detour as I was able to get some splendid views of Newcastle from the swing bridge (the red and white one) before we walked over.  On the Newcastle side we were instantly met with a cacophany of market stalls and screeching birds.  Did you know that Newcastle is home to the farthest inland colony of kittiwakes? The birds have taken residence on the struts of the famous Tyne Bridge and seem to be expanding as they now occupy the stone corbels on the Guildhall too.  As lovely as they are, their mess is less so and I pity whoever has to come along after they’ve fledged!

The market, held every sunday, is a new-things market mostly which sells gifty and foody things in abundance.  We wandered around enjoying the atmosphere and noting down ideas for future birthday and Christmas ideas.  We stopped for some churros (shared between Mr VP and myself!) and ate them overlooking the banks of the Tyne, just a short walk from the Sage Gateshead, the Baltic and the Millennium .  Quite a lovely way to spend a Sunday morning!

Saturday 25 April 2015

Saturday Morning Breakfast

I don’t know about you, but I try to make at least one ‘proper’ breakfast for Mr VP and I at the weekend and we usually settle for eggs, pancakes or croissants.  That said, I’m not really a huge fan of bacon, but there are rare times that I really do fancy some and so we visited a local butcher and got a couple of slices, which I served with pancakes and homemade blueberry jam.  It was absolutely gorgeous, if a little decadent ;-)

Wednesday 22 April 2015

Birds of The Sea

Now that daylight saving time is upon us once more, Mr VP and I have been getting out almost every evening to make the most of the extra light (and the occasional warmth!).  We sometimes visit parks and countryside but mostly we opt for the beach; that ever-changing landscape that we have come to adore.  We will walk a few miles, up and down, stopping to breathe and take photos along the way.

Visiting the beach with regularity, you become aware of the small things: the day that the sand martins arrive, the first eider ducks of the season on that particular beach and the movement of rocks and changing shape of the beach.  Speaking of birds, there is something magical about those that inhabit the coastline of Northumberland.  Many are merely visitors to our shores, having travelled thousands of miles to summer here, like the sand martins; whilst others are natives, seen only occasionally in the colder months and much more often in summer.  We’re really lucky in that we have quite a few interesting (and rare) seabirds visit our shores.  If you visit any of the islands (like we did last year) then you can see the more exotic birds like roseate terns and puffins, but I quite like the less showy birds that we get around here.

Opting to stop at a new-to-us beach, we came across lots of wonderful birds.  I was blown away when we saw, for the first time on land (i.e. not on a boat!), a glimpse of a pair of fulmars on a nest.  Did you know that they are relatives of albatrosses?  They look quite like them and have much kinder, sweeter faces and beaks than seagulls.  We saw a heron out on a rock in the sea – for what reason is unknown as herons only fish in still water and these waves were anything but.  We found a squeak of oystercatchers (my collective noun for them as they do sound like squeaky toys!), a clockwork of grey plovers, a search of turnstones and a wade of purple sandpipers.  Not forgetting the one lone little chiffchaff on the rocks and one pied wagtail.  It was quite an evening to be out!

Monday 20 April 2015

Hermit (Crab) Beach Again

Whilst we have visited this beach a good many times since we moved up here, even this year, it is not always a hermit crab beach when we do visit.  You see, you have to wait for the tide to be at its lowest, when the stretches of sand are at their longest and the rockpools are not only visible but reachable.  Only then, when the winkles leave their tracks on the sand and the shallow water entices the oystercatchers, turnstones and the sandpipers to forage, can you find the hermit crabs.

I must admit, hermit crabs do make me laugh.  Pick one up and within a moment it will bear its (very small) nippers at you, fairly displeased at having been taken out of its watery bed and peered-at.  If you see a group of hermits (on this beach there are thousands) and you find a really nice, large winkle or other spiral shell and place it next to them, you will see instant interest and a battle will begin, with each hermit crab getting out of its shell to try on the new one whilst still defending its previous ‘home’ just in case.  They will battle, snip and climb over one another for the chance to find their perfect home.  Best of all, to see this miniature soap opera playing out, all you have to do is pause to look for it.

If you’re not so interested in the crabs, then maybe you prefer to look up and enjoy the sunset skies on the beach, with mackerel skies criss-crossing each other to create the most wonderful spectacle.  Seeing these skies reminds me of last summer and how glorious it was to spend the evenings on the beach, often one of only very few people there.  I’m looking forward to this summer a lot!

Friday 17 April 2015

Alone Amongst the Blossoms

I mentioned the other day that Spring! had sprung in a most spectacular fashion and I was definitely not wrong!  We might not have had the temperatures that the south have been enjoying, but we have been revelling in the strengthening sun and the blue skies that we have been gifted of late and it has been glorious.

Seeing the hedgerows green up and change from silvery-brown and dark green to bright green again never fails to fill my heart with gratitude for the return of the sun.  Hearing the birds busily rushing to and fro, always with a song, is such a welcome thing and makes a change from the lone robin song of winter.

Every living thing in the woods is waking up from a slumber, brought around from their nap by the sunlight.  Ah, dappled sunlight!  I’ve missed you too.

Some trees were clinging on to the last of their old leaves despite them having a brand new layer of green.

There is something magical about walking alone amongst the anemonies.  I have such happy memories of visiting Southrey woods in Lincolnshire and snapping some wonderful pictures of them.  I love how they carpet a whole woodland floor in such profusion so as to cover completely all of last year’s leaflitter and debris.

Perhaps my favourite view of all?  A literal tunnel of blackthorn blossom, banked high on either side.  Pretty amazing, eh?  I snapped an identical photo whilst waiting for Mr VP to have his interview at around this time last year and I must say, it brought back all of those memories of hope and excitement (and nerves!).  Who knew where we’d be this time last year?

I don’t think I could ever get enough of the blossom.  I think I have fallen in love with spring, utterly and completely.

I found a secret short-cut and followed my adventurer’s spirit, which found me in amongst a dappled bank of trees overlooking the river below.  I was surprised that I didn’t come across more people on my walk as the weather was so lovely, but in other ways I’m glad that I had it all to myself for a couple of hours.

I saw my first bee-mimicking fly (Bombylius major) of the year!  Can you spot him?

Nope, that blue-and-frothy-white combination will never grow old :)

Thursday 16 April 2015

Mid-week Music: Ed Harcourt – Restoration

To celebrate Nils Frahm’s World Piano Day, Ed Harcourt sat down in his studio for a couple of hours and composed a piece to celebrate the piano.  Its theme was one piano in particular, the last grand piano in Gaza, that was part of a BBC documentary.  The documentary spurred Ed to write this song, with a live video stream of the whole composition process.  It’s a fascinating watch, not least because you get to see inside Ed’s pretty amazing studio, but also because you get an intimate glimpse into the process of producing a song from idea to completion (from my favourite singer-songwriter!).

Ed subsequently released the single, titled Restoration after the BBC documentary, via his Bandcamp page.  You can go there to listen to and purchase the song (it’s a pay-what-you-like affair), with 100% of the proceeds going to the charity that is restoring the piano.  Pretty amazing, right?

Wednesday 15 April 2015

Days of Spring

Have you felt that first, heady rush of spring yet?  I keep getting odd whiffs of it in the air and I’m instantly excited by the lengthening days and the warmth that the sun now possesses, not to mention the sight of blossom and imminent-blooms just waiting to unfurl.  It reminds me of this time last year, when we were in the midst of packing up our tiny Cambridge life and waiting ourselves to unfurl into the wide open spaces of Northumberland.

I certainly have enjoyed getting to explore and re-learn this new landscape of ours.  I can’t believe it has been a year and we’re still exploring.  I could spend the rest of my days here and still never see all that it has to offer.

We are finding new places all the time, however, and loved finding this little walk that bordered a farm that allowed us to idly pause to admire the donkeys and the pigs.

I started seeing butterflies on the Easter weekend and have since seen quite a few more, but none were so happy to stop and sunbathe in a photogenic manner as this tortoiseshell and this comma!  Mind you, a hedgerow of hawthorn and blackthorn blossom is probably one of the nicest places to stop and pause.

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