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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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Friday 14 April 2017

The flowers of spring and a ramble

Last week we had the most glorious few days: bright blue skies filled with an even brighter (and warmer!) sun; the wind finally calm and the temperature cool but not cold. We were toying with the idea of visiting a town on Saturday but thought why not enjoy the countryside in this lovely weather? So we hopped into the car and ended up at our local National Trust property. Luckily, we were there early and managed to get in before the crowds, which is always the best time to go (especially as it was the start of the Easter hols and they were doing an Easter egg hunt around the grounds).

The plum blossom is already pretty much over here, but is being replaced by cherry blossom, those big blousy petals calling to everyone and proclaiming the arrival of spring. And the blue skies – they’re always bluer in spring; deep blue, in a way that they’re not at any other time of year.

The lichen growing on the trees is a good sign; it shows how clean the air is, as they are very discerning fellows.

These impatiens are enormous – much bigger than their British-bizzy-lizzy-relatives – as they’re grown in a hot house. I am a big fan of the hot house in winter and spring – I love going inside and escaping into the warmth and humidity for a while. I can imagine the heating bill is pretty hefty though!

I’m not sure what this tree blossom is. I thought it was an amelanchier like ours, but now I’m not so sure. Its blossoms were very understated and elegant.

These are little brunnera that pop up everywhere in the estate. Mum has a clump in her garden and they’re making like Triffids, but they are very pretty.

We stopped to feed the geese and ducks. The lady ducks were so friendly you could stroke them (though we refrained). Feeding the ducks always proves a big hit around here and it’s a cheap way to spend an hour or so, especially when incorporated into a walk.

We’re almost at the end of daffodil season! I can’t believe it. These fancy daffs were still in their prime, though. Aren’t they gorgeous? Totally different to the upright, trumpet daffs I know and love, but no less full of sunshine.

The anemones were just coming out and carpeting the woodland floor. I always think of this wood (and those photos) and this song when I see a carpet of wood anemones.

Their spindly necks hold one perfect, delicate, nodding bloom. Only seen for a couple of weeks a year and always looked-forward to as one of the first signs of spring, coming as they do at the same time as the cuckoo’s first calls (in Lincolnshire at least; we don’t seem to get many cuckoos here).

This is a lesser celandine. It seems that they’re a pretty common plant around these woods but I don’t recall seeing them often down south. It was so, so, so yellow! Bright and warm in such drab surroundings.

In the formal gardens there were the first signs of blossom. Deep blue skies and the first hints of pure white, blousy blooms. It makes me want desperately to get my lino cutting stuff out again but I’m not sure I’ll get round to it. Truth be told I am not terribly artistic but I did very much enjoy doing my lino cutting. It’s been ages since I last had a go (2013!). Maybe one evening…

All sorts of things were in bloom; some I knew, some I didn’t. I love the colours and the textures and the dappled sunlight. The quality (and the quantity) of the light has changed so much in the last month; it is so different to the weaker winter sun.

Is this plum blossom? I’m pretty sure it is. The plums always come before the cherry blossom. Aren’t they beautiful and delicate? Those ice-white petals next to the copper leaves – lovely.

The may leaves are out in abundance at the bottom of our garden too. Soon we’ll see the buds burst into a snow-like cascade.

There’s something different about the way time moves now. I honestly wake up in one month and the next thing I know it is the next and I have to try to scrabble through days to work out where it’s gone. I used to think time flew when working 40+ hours a week, and it did to an extent, but I think that now time moves differently. It is probably to do with having children and the changes it has on the brain – who knows?! But either way I am really aware that time no longer moves in the way it has for so many years and I feel a bit powerless to slow it. The seasons, marking out the passage of time somehow, are something I can grasp hold of to try to make the time slow down a bit.

Ah Spring! I love this time of year very much, and even moreso now that I have a little companion running around enjoying it and finding awe in it as much – if not more – than I do. I hope that you’re enjoying spring wherever you are!

Tuesday 23 June 2015

Buttercups, Blooms and Blossoms













(Almost) all of the blossoms-proper have now disappeared and have been replaced by the blooms of early summer.  The hedgerows are full of Queen Anne’s lace, the beginnings of hogweed, buttercups, stitchwort, elderflower and the very, very last of the May blossom.  Roses, like the pink rugosa and the white rose (Rosa corymbifera?) are just coming into bloom and are flooding the hedgerows with the most wonderful scents.  Ferns and bracken are unfurling themselves while bees dance from flower to flower – what a selection they have!  The air is just alive with… well, life.  I do love June very, very much indeed.

Thursday 18 June 2015

Lilacs, Roses and Rhododendrons

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.

Tuesday 9 June 2015

Woodland Wildlife

It was perhaps the mistral winds on Saturday that kept the crowds away, but when we arrived at one of our favourite woodlands, it was all but empty.  This made for a peaceful, if windy, walk and a nice chance to get out of the house for a decent amount of time.  Whilst I am struggling to get to grips with the notion that it is already a quarter of the way through June (I’m sure it was April last time I checked?!), the birds are deep into the swing of chick-rearing and feeding and it’s taking its toll on the parents, who are beginning to look a little weary and hen-pecked as they juggle moulting and rearing simultaneously.  Judging by how many fevered dashes backwards and forwards to the feeders were made in the time we were watching, there must be a good many plump chicks to feed.  Each bird approaches feeding their little ones differently; some favouring peanuts to sunflower seeds, others (the great tits) bullying their smaller cousins (coal tits) off the feeders; some are content with just plodding around (pheasants) where others skittishly analyse each feeder for its contents (jackdaws).  Did you know that jackdaws mate for life?  They’re rapidly becoming one of my favourite birds as I watch them each morning from our kitchen window and see them on the roofs of neighbouring houses.  Thankfully they don’t seem to like our chimney as much as they do some of the other houses, so our chimney sweep shouldn’t have too much of a job when he next comes to sweep ours!

As for the woodland itself, it seems only a month ago that it was thick with frost and ice, but no, it was 4 months ago, which goes to show that time stands still for no man (or woman!).  The vast, empty, leaft-littered spaces have been replaced by lush greenery, bracken, nettles, wild strawberries and grasses.  It really is the start of summer.

Wednesday 27 May 2015

The May in May

True to its name, the May is out in abundance both in the countryside and at the bottom of our garden. Each time we open the back door, our noses are met with the powdery, sweet smell of the early May blossom, before it starts to take on that slightly foetid odour that attracts the flies to it.  Whilst different to the apple, plum and sloe blossom of April, this blossom is totally unique and yet no less splendid as it fills roadsides and hedgerows up and down this green and pleasant land of ours.

Even though we had a slightly reluctant walker with us, we had such a nice potter through the countryside.  You might be able to tell that I’m so happy that the light, bright, spring greens are back again.  No more – for a few months at least – will we see the dull, drab greens of autumn and winter.  These bright greens are everywhere, from stinging nettles to ramsons to the Queen Anne’s lace and even on the pines and larches whose new needles are vivid and soft.  We paused to admire the red campion outshining its green and white neighbours, enjoyed the pungent tang of the ramsons on the air (yes, that sea of white is all garlic!) and stopped to gaze at the vast expanse of the Tyne river.  It really was a splendid day to get out of the house and enjoy the gloriousness of spring.

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.

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