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 31 August 2014

Forever Beloved

Each time I visit Mum in Lincoln, we inevitably go out to one of the many walks around the countryside or woodland in Lincolnshire (as you’ve seen from many posts on the subject!).  There is a good choice of places to go, they often aren’t too busy and they all have their own charm.  Some are more favoured than others, and this wood in particular is one of my favourites and has been written about a lot.  I’ve been going there since 2002-ish, I think, and it was somewhere that Mr VP and I visited when we had just met, so it it holds a lot of good memories.  We love it there; each time I visit there is something new to see, clothed in familiarity.  I know all of the walks and what will greet us at every turn.  I also know the sounds of the woods, the sounds of pine creaking and the sound of the bullfinch’s song.  It is a place, banked in my memory, that will forever be synonymous with happiness.

And last weekend, we went to say goodbye to it.  Why? Well, my Mother, seeing how settled we are in Northumberland, and loving the area herself, has decided to move up to be with us.  You see, the journey from Northumberland to Lincoln is a very long one indeed; depending on roadworks/ traffic, it can take up to four hours.  As we want to see one another regularly, it’d mean 380-mile round-trips, planning ahead in advance and a lot of time on the road.  I am extremely excited over this new chapter in our family’s life – and obviously I’m excited that I’ll be able to pop over for tea and knitting advice (and cake!) on a regular basis!  Of course we’ll visit, to see people and for long weekends, but it won’t be that regular presence in our year like it has been for the last decade.  Whilst it is sad saying goodbye to places, I know that there will be many more hellos that we’ll make up here as Mum acquaints herself with Northumberland.

Friday 29 August 2014

The End of Summer

We went to visit Goltho Gardens whilst we were visiting Mum last weekend and I’m so glad that we did.  The garden had changed such a lot from the cool, pale green and blossom-filled garden we had visited in April.  Those blossoms on the apple trees in April had been transformed into big apples, each a different colour, just like their blossom.  The hens next to the potager were still squawking and clucking, just as before, but the potager itself was full of a variety of lovely vegetables not seen in April.  Huge cabbages and runner beans lay burdened under the weight of their produce. And grapes!  Not something we often come across growing so freely, this vine was heavy with developing grapes, all hues of purple and waxy-blue.  It was quite a sight to see.

In other places, there was change too.  The nut walk was no longer a name on a sign; the hazel trees were full of unripe filberts (hazelnuts) and there was evidence of the creatures that come out at night to feast on the fallen ones.  The flower beds were no longer full of pink tulips and pale fritillaries but full of bright peuce echinaceas, yellow dhalias and orange daisies.  Butterflies were everywhere and quite open in their flutterings, which afforded us a lovely view.  Under the cherry trees and pines, where snowdrops had been a few months previously, there was an eruption of pink and white cyclamen, which had spread like an ornate carpet, over a large patch of the garden’s boundary.  Turning the corner and being met by a wall of pale pinka nd white in such number is striking yet absolutely lovely.

Saturday 26 April 2014

All Kinds of Magic

This is the second half of our walk around Goltho Gardens.  I thought it seemed right to divide the posts between blossoms and trees, as there ended up being so many of both!  The gardens are roughly divided, with formally-planted beds and lawn in the centre, whilst wilder, more natural areas are around the outside.  It is amazing how different it feels in the wooded areas to the more formal paths.  There is a certain peace to be found walking under the green canopy, smelling the leaf-litter and hearing the songs of the birds that sing from their branches.  The floor-covering plants self-regulate their growth while the trees grow tall and leggy above them, and every now and then there are patches of colour from bluebells, periwinkle and dandelions.  It is so peaceful.

It is nice that the owners of the gardens have put a lot of thought into the wooded areas as well as to the formally-planted areas.  A nut walk leads you past a line of hazel trees with benches and sculptures dotted throughout, until you reach the small wild pasture, which is full of the fritillaries seen in the last post.  A little further on still and the smell ramsons was intense on the air; a smell which will forever remind me of Northumberland.  For such a small garden (compared to some of the enormous National Trust gardens we’ve been around), it packs quite a punch visually and is very enjoyable to wander around.  I’d love to see it in every season, particularly summer, when more of the roses and shrubs are at their best.  It really was one of the nicest ways to spend a morning.

Thursday 24 April 2014

Bursting Brightly

In the midst of a lot of upheaval*, we had a quiet Easter weekend which we could spend together as a family recuperating from the whirlwind of events.  We had an Easter Monday dilemma: it is a bank-holiday and we want to avoid touristy-places as much as possible, where shall we go?!  Mr VP came up with a solution: Goltho Gardens just outside of Lincoln.  We managed to avoid most of the traffic (everyone and their plumber was going to Skegness, so the roads were hectic) by going out early.  The sun was shining, the mercury was rising and a sort of haze hung on the horizon.

We hadn’t been to a formal garden for what seems like ages.  I always find myself feeling overwhelmed and excited with ideas for things I could do with my own garden**.  This was no exception: it was filled with all sorts of new varieties of flowers that I hadn’t come across in my time as a gardener.  We were lucky to visit it on such a glorious day as we were able to enjoy the splendid first flush of flowers.  Tulips, apple blossom, cherry blossom, primulas and lamiums were all a riot of colour and vibrance.  The birds were singing, we were all laughing and chatting as we went round and I was busy snapping photos and mentally taking notes of all the things that I would like in my future garden.  I fell in love with tulips all over again, noticing how they were planted here in swathes of one or two colours.  It looked so effective that I think it is something I’ll have to try, this block-colouring.  I fell very much in love with the fruit-salad coloured tulips, the silver-leaved brunnera, the lines of hazel trees and the lamiums, which I had never seen in such a stunning colour.

Once we’d walked through all of the wooded areas, we were met by a swathe of snakeshead fritillaries with their nodding heads and purple chequered colouring.  It was absolute heaven.  Bees were intently seeking pollen and it was everywhere.  The smell of fresh spring, with scents like apple blossom, gorse and slightly niffy pear blossom, all mixing on the air.  In the next post, I’ll show you all of the woodland bits (I took a lot of photos and couldn’t condense it all down!) which were just as magical as the floral bits, if not quite as vibrant.

*Gosh, it’s almost here!
**The garden we will eventually have, when everything works out.

Tuesday 22 April 2014

Among the fields of gold

Whilst Sting wasn’t writing about fields of rapeseed (canola) when he wrote his Fields of Gold, everytime I see these yellow springtime fields, I can’t help but think of that song (and particularly Eva Cassidy’s rendition).  Aren’t they splendid?  I seem to find people complaining about them at every turn, and I agree that those fields which are used for biofuel could be better used growing food for us, but I can’t bring myself to dislike these glorious golden fields.  They stretch out to the horizon and further, wrapping all of our countryside in swathes of bright yellow blossom.  After all, they only last a couple of weeks and mark out the beginning of spring-proper; what’s to dislike?

I have always meant to stop and get close to the fields where these gorgeous plants grow, but usually I pass by whilst I’m in the car and forget to stop and enjoy them on the way home.  However, yesterday gave me the time and opportunity to pull the car off the road and get right into their heady smell (some people don’t like the smell – I love it, it’s just like linseed oil).  It was such a blue sky day, with the temperature rising to 18ºC and full of little buzzing insects, cawing crows and swooping magpies.  A day full of happiness with family.

Sunday 20 April 2014

Easter Garden

Happy Easter!  I hope that it has been a nice day for you all, however you choose to celebrate it.  For us, it was a simple (but very delicious) meal of slow-cooked shoulder of mutton with fresh vegetables.  Delicious.  We decided to forego the traditional Easter eggs, deciding to save our waistlines and feeling them rather unnecessary, so we bought a pack of smaller eggs to share between the three of us.  It was just right.  It seems a bit odd that Easter is so late this year, but it also means that I have been able to spend the weekend revelling in the blossom and blooms in my mother’s garden.  Everything is suddenly blooming from the bright yellow kerria to the heavily-scented wallflowers.  It is a riot of colour, with none of summer’s heat to wilt anything.

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Where the Wild Primroses Grow

We’ve been doing quite a bit of travelling recently, here and there.  I’m always surprised by the difference in plantlife between the north, the midlands and the south.  It seems odd that by the time Cambridge’s blossoms have finished (about a week ago now), those up north are just beginning to get going.  Where there are just stamens and leaves on those down south, those up north are a riot of milky white blossom.

It was a balmy, heavy day when we went out for a meander in the woods.  It really felt like summer was here.

Possibility and spring was bursting out at every turn.

One of my favourite trees was wearing its usual evergreen coat, which looked splendidly green next to the hazy blue skies.

Around another corner, we saw the year’s first primroses.  What a happy sight!

I am very fond of a paint colour called ‘primrose white’, because it has a slightly creamy warm glow to it.  Just like these primroses did amongst the browns and the greens of the woodland floor.  The primroses are, I think, the first sign of spring-proper.  Daffodils can be out in gardens from late January, when the weather is anything but springlike, often finding themselves blown flat in February’s gales.  As for snowdrops, aconites and celandines, they come in stages from January and lead us in bright yellow hopefulness into February and March.  But primroses, those delicate cream flowers, only come when the air is milder and the threat of the harsher frosts have gone; when everything is well and truly awake and ready to begin doing and being once more.  Standing in the woods, peppered with tumps of creamy petals, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that spring was well and truly here.

I mentioned the toads in my last post and here they are again.  We have been gifted with an abundance of wildlife recently.  Just the other day we saw a hare, not an oft-seen creature these days, darting across a road on its long legs.  For the first time in my life I’ve seen a multitude of toads, in this case, these were the second lot I’d seen in two days.

Did you know, rather than the ‘ribbit’ sound you’d expect them to make, they sound like honking geese?  I find it heartening to know that after not seeing these fairly rare bastions of British wildlife for so long, that they seem to be doing well and thriving.

More primroses… just because.

At the edge of a different pond, I found myself looking for toads, frogspawn and newts, but only found this wonderful reflection.

These flowers (water buttercup?) were such a startling yellow that I couldn’t resist taking a couple of photos.

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