About

Name:VintagePretty
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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Sunday 5 March 2017

A Sunday morning walk along the beach

Have you noticed that we’re now exiting the deepest, darkest bits of winter? Like a plant deprived of the sun, I am desperately craning myself to find some its rays again. So when the weather gets above 10C and the wind is not blowing a gale and the sun is shining? I make like a cat and luxuriate, nay revel, in its appearance. Hoo-boy, Sun, you have been away far too long!

All of the above necessary conditions were met the other day and so I set off with Mr VP and Baby VP, the Archers omnibus on in the car (to my absolute flummoxing, I’ve discovered that Mr VP is not only a closet fan of the Archers but if I miss an episode it turns out I can rely on his almost encyclopaedic knowledge of the goings on in Ambridge to set me straight! *insert wide-eyed surprise-face here*).

And so we walked. Away from others, though as it was pretty early (for a Sunday), there weren’t many takers for a brisk walk. Just myself, my girl and Mr VP. Blue skies, white clouds, oystercatchers, a huge stretch of golden sand to explore and beachcomb on and the deep blue North Sea.

On the way back we saw a couple of unfamiliar birds flitting back and forth in the hedgerow. It turns out that they were stonechats. A new one on us!

Thursday 11 June 2015

Meadows in June

Is there a more beautiful sight to behold than this?  I mean, it’s not grand or austentatious; it doesn’t inspire awe to most as, say, a vast snow-tipped mountain range might.  But to me, this little world that barely breaches ankle-height is no less awe-inspiring.  It is the sight of June, these lush meadows full of green and growth and I realised it had been far too long since I last saw meadows like these.

This is the best bit of summer; before everything is crispy and brown, when everything is still gloriously green.

I still can’t get over a good larch, all pale green and softly-needled.

This beauty is a pyramidal orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis) and was the reason for our evening walk.  I love our wild orchids and try to make it out to see them whenever they’re in season.  Having seen a few on the roadside verges as I whizzed past in the car, I knew it was the right time to seek them out.  Upon first scanning the meadow, I couldn’t see them, until I trained my eyes towards the deep pink-purple splodges of colour that could be nothing else.  After seeing one, I saw a whole meadow full.

I mean, it’s quite something, isn’t it?

When I say that this meadow was alive, I don’t just mean the flowers.  Bees, beetles (can you see the cardinal beetle on the clover?), spiders and all sorts of winged insects were busily going from a to b as we watched.

It’s also really nice to see that after May’s chill winds, we have gained a bit of warmth back, with evenings staying mild well into the night and days often too warm to stay any length of time in.

Clover love.  Our former neighbours used to cast aspersions at our lawn for having clover in it.  There would be the odd pointed comment about how nice lawns looked if they have only grass in them…  At which point I’d say how terribly fond I was of the pink and white clover that not only fed the lawn but helped to feed the bees that would hum busily around them.

This is a grass spider whose latin name, Tibellus oblongus, speaks of its long, oblong-shaped body.  At first, I thought it was a grasshopper moving through the grass, as it was so big (large house spider sized), but lo and behold, once we got up close to it, we realised that it was a spider and that she was carrying a huge ball of her eggs around with her.  Whilst I’m not a fan of spiders in the house (money spiders and zebra spiders excepted), I am quite happy to see them in their natural habitat.

Most of the May is finally over, but in shadier, cooler spots, there is still some to be found.  This  pink May is such a picture of beauty.

As we headed back to the car, I came across these pine trees and their showy pollen heads that will eventually become cones.  Don’t they look exotic?

Who says that pine trees are just green and brown?!  I think I can deal with all of the pollen dust on the car for a few weeks of tropical-coloured pine trees.

Sunday 24 May 2015

Spring Sunset

May really is the most beautiful month, isn’t it?  The wild garlic beginning to open and release its tangy odour; the bluebells opening and tilting their heads and fresh new leaves bursting forth. Speaking of trees, can anyone identify the two trees in the above photos, the pale-green leafed one (I thought it might be common whitebeam but now I’m sure it’s not) and the one that looks almost like purple sprouting broccoli?  Searching for ‘trees that look like broccoli’ ends up yielding a more literal result and the pale green one has us stumped, though it grows everywhere up here and adds a lovely brightness to the surroundings.

On our evening walks, I’ve noticed some wonderful skies too.  From perfect pastel affairs with thin, whispy cirrus clouds to the big, fluffy clouds (and sometimes grey rain-bearers we’ve had of late) above.  Ahhh, May, you lovely month.

Friday 22 May 2015

A Trip Away to Melrose

For Mr VP’s birthday, we opted to go on a short holiday.  Things are quite busy here at Chez VP at the moment, so a full week away wasn’t really feasible.  To save us spending most of our short break on the road, we opted to stay reasonably local and visit the Borders; a region of Scotland that we hadn’t explored.  I’m so glad that we did, as we had such a nice – if brief – time there.  Our first (and main) port of call was a little town just north of Jedburgh called Melrose.  I had heard that it was a nice place to visit and had connections with St Cuthbert as he began his monastic life in the town.  Nowadays, it forms part of the famous St Cuthbert’s Way, a walk of just over 62 miles that traces his journey from Melrose to Holy Island, where he ended his days.

It seemed apt, then, that we began our trip with a little look around the mighty red sandstone abbey that is really Melrose’s centrepiece.  Whilst not on quite on the same scale as Fountains Abbey, it is quite a sight to behold, and I must admit I was awed by how well it has been preserved.  Vaulted ceilings remain intact, cornicings and intricate carvings, gargoyles and window tracery are all present and quite beautiful.

I found it easy to imagine how wonderful it would have been to walk through the huge aisles, coming across the monks at their daily prayers and ecclesiastical business.

Some ruined abbeys have quite a dark feeling about them.  Perhaps it is a leftover remnant of the dissolution and destruction of the monasteries and abbeys.  Perhaps it’s just the centuries of not being loved or used for their intended purposes.  However I didn’t get any bad feelings from Melrose.  It is a very pleasant place to walk around.

If you’re in the area, it’s definitely worth a visit.

Cross over the road and continue into the other part of what would have been the monastery and you can find the remnants of Medieval engineering – the great drain.  This would have provided water and flushings for the whole site.  Isn’t it impressively constructed?

A little further on and you will come across a Medieval canal, still in (some) use today.  On the day we visited it was full of cherry blossoms (it was quite windy) – even better!

My favourite photo of 2015?  I think so!

Walking on the grass was like walking on the softest Wilton carpet with a delicious pattern.  I wonder what this would look like as a carpet?  Hmmm…

Flippin’ heck – it doesn’t get any better!  Squee!  The best bit about travelling northwards at this time of year is that you can enjoy a second blossom season!  Love.

Melrose is all old, high brick walls covered in lichen and blossom.

It has its share of gardens to walk around, too.  This is the Harmony House garden, which is National Trust.

Obviously, I gravitated towards anything that was blossom-based.  It is so fleeting, after all, that one has to get one’s fill where and when one can!  We had such a nice time together and really enjoyed our time away.  Life has been quite busy of late, so having the chance to reconnect and enjoy one-another’s company is so important…  And where better to do it than somewhere beautiful, eh?

Peeping at the abbey from under a huge Cypress tree in the Harmony garden…

Melrose town is quite a looker, too.  Full of old industrial-age buildings, it is quite pretty and filled with nice shops to look around (particularly the book shop – love it!).  It is also full of good places to eat – we recommend Burt’s Hotel.  That big hill is one of two called the Eildon hills and the gap in the middle is where you walk if you follow St Cuthbert’s Way.

Another place worth a visit is the Priorwood garden which would once have been the abbey’s walled kitchen garden.  To this day it has ancient apple trees and houses Scotland’s only dedicated dried flower garden.  There is an exhibit and shop where you can see the drying room and buy some of the flowers.  It’s very interesting, but not half as interesting as the apple trees!

I don’t think it is possible to have visited at a better time!  Blossom.  Everywhere.  As well as a lot of lichen – no wonder it felt wonderful to breathe the air!

Apples from (almost) long-lost varieties as well as a few more modern standards.  Cider apples.  Donated apple trees.  I can imagine that come autumn it must be gloriously brimming with apples.

This is the Leaderfoot viaduct and provided too good a view not to stop and take a photo.  The river is the Tweed, apparently a very good place to go salmon fishing (though speaking to some fishermen it wasn’t a good time for it!) especially if you can find a knowledgeable Gillie to show you the best spots!  The bridge is now sadly disused.

On the way home, we had to stop at the border and take a photo looking back towards Scotland.  The drive was absolutely beautiful if a little windy (and windy!) and took virtually no time at all, so we have vowed that we must return for a longer break when we get the chance.

Bye Scotland!

Friday 1 May 2015

Fulmars On the Wing









What a way to welcome May into being!  Despite being fairly exhausted after a busy day, it seemed a waste to miss an evening walk as the sun was shining and it wasn’t too cold.  We opted to drive a little further and visit a ‘special’ beach and we are so glad that we did!  The sea was almost at its lowest and had exposed a whole swathe of pools and seaweed-encrusted rocks.  I was really pleased to see that the fulmars that I mentioned here hadn’t disappeared after all (the second time we visited all of the nests were empty and we thought they’d been scared off by something) but were back in even larger numbers than before.  It was amazing to see that they had survived and even more amazing to witness one fulmar on the wing, as they are known to do, riding the thermals that rise in front of the rocky cliff-face. I couldn’t contain my excitement as I stood there watching the fulmar glide overhead, doing aerial acrobatic displays.

Thursday 30 April 2015

April: Short but Sweet





April has been one of my favourite months in a long while.  Maybe because this month the weather has been glorious, the flowers have blossomed and the greenery has taken on a fresh new-life green hue that I’ve missed.  It is the month that I’ve revelled in sunshine on my skin and the return of a whole swathe of wildlife to our shores.  Unfortunately, the month has also gone quicker than I think I can remember any month going ever, even when I was working 40-hour weeks or revising for exams!  I would like to press pause and just savour these last moments of April before May’s arrival, when it undoubtedly takes on a more summery hue.

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!

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