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 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 :)

Monday 6 April 2015

Easter Sunday: Morning, Noon and Night

I hope that you all had a lovely Easter!  We had a quiet one, but have loved the four-day weekend that it entails.  On Easter Sunday itself, despite the weather predictions being dire, we awoke to the most lovely cloudless, sunny spring day.  We opted to go for an early walk as we were awake pretty early anyway and we were almost entirely alone for our walk.  We saw ducks on the lake, exotic varieties and mallards, as well as cormorants and a duck I’ve yet to identify which had a long ‘mane’ of feathers on its head.  We saw pussy willow catkins blossoming, coltsfoot opening their pretty faces to the sun and we revelled in the blackthorn and hawthorn blossoms.  The sun was really, really warm and by the time we got back to the car it was 14ºC!

We came home and I got to work making a Sunday lunch for ourselves and Mum – I made a roast chicken with all the trimmings, and a large lemon meringue pie for dessert.  All of it was absolutely delicious, if I do say so myself (even though I had real issues with the pastry this time, despite blind baking?!  I suspect it was an oven temperature thing).

By the time we’d rested from our large lunch, the temperature was 19ºC (!) and still glorious, so we hopped into the car and went to the beach for a walk to make the most of the day (and to walk off some of the calories!).  It was fairly busy on the beach but the cool air and the soft sand was just what we needed.  Once we had got back, I took my camera into the garden and enjoyed capturing the huge mass of blossoms on our ornamental cherry tree (Prunus incisa. ‘Kojo No-Mai’).  I went through the VP archives and noticed that we planted that tree 9 years ago in August and it has gone from about 30cm in height to now being about 1.7 metres tall!  I didn’t realise it would grow to be such a lovely tree-like shrub.  It is absolutely beautiful and has rekindled my desire to get back into the garden and get it into shape after four years of relative neglect.

Friday 6 March 2015

(Almost) The End of Winter

It has been a funny old week.  I fell down (our very steep Edwardian) stairs on Monday morning and ended up in hospital because of a cracked coccyx.  I can tell you that it is the one place where you don’t really want to show the doctor what you’ve hurt!  I had a week of appointments and things I had to get done and before I knew what had happened, it was Thursday and I was stressing myself out about things I still had to do, so instead of bottling it all up, I seized my opportunity and went for a long old walk by myself.  As ever, it was the salve I needed to get me out of a fug and as it was so windy, it quite literally blew the cobwebs away too.  I cannot wait for the temperatures to rise a bit more, so that I can spend more of my days outside.  I have missed it a lot.

On the walk, with the blue skies and puffy white clouds, the mild weather after so many days of cold reminded me that spring is well and truly on its way.  Any day that stays above 10ºC is a bonus at the beginning of March in Northumberland.  Buds were bursting on the wild honeysuckle and on the tips of tree branches; it was all looking suddenly very brown but yet very hopeful at the same time.  Ramsons were bursting out of the soil and I know that in a month or so’s time, this whole woods will reek of wild garlic. How exciting!  Yep, my friends, Spring is definitely here.

Monday 23 February 2015

Glorious Day by the Lake

Did you notice on Saturday that it felt tantalisingly spring-like?  I don’t know if it was as mild and glorious for you as it was for us, but my heart began to quicken as we went on a walk and properly felt warmth from the sun for the first time in many months.  The skies were blue, the wind was present but not cold and the temperature got to the balmy heights of 10ºC!  Spring!

The lake was home to lots of birds, both on the water and in the trees surrounding it.  We saw a tree-creeper (can you see her?), lots of blue tits, blackbirds, seagulls, swans and one of my favourite waterfowl: the Canada goose.  We walked the whole circuit of the lake and felt all the better for the fresh air (it is far into the countryside, with no big roads or pollution to mar the peace of the place) and the sun.  By the time we reached the end of the walk, we were both rosy-cheeked and happier for it.  The last picture is the view from our bench as we took a brief rest – what a view!

Indeed, one of the first signs of spring is the return of the evening chorus and on Sunday we heard it for the first time in what feels like a very long time indeed, as two blackbirds took up positions outside the house and sang as loud and as clear as their little beaks could muster.  It was glorious and I don’t mind admitting that I’m definitely ready for spring!

Sunday 8 February 2015

Sunday Morning at Alnmouth

Apologies for the lack of blogging.  It has been busy here and I seem to have lost my blogging mojo for a little longer than anticipated.  On the upside, the days are beginning to get longer and (dare I say it) slightly milder.  I’ve been craving long beachy walks, so each weekend I try to make sure that Mr VP and I make the most of the daylight hours we have together and I look forward to the summer evenings when we can spend long hours at the beach in the warmth.

Alnmouth is a nice beach.  Not very long on its northern flank, but it has lots of rockpools at low tide, and soft, white sand.  We were lucky, we saw the first blue sky in quite a while, with lots of sun.  We watched as purple sandpipers (top) and oyster catchers combed the rockpools.  Hazy silhouettes in the distance of Coquet Island and the bright blue horizon.

Wednesday 31 December 2014

The Old Year: 2014 in Review

You’ll have to excuse me while I panic at the thought of 2014 being over – I was just getting into the swing of things, and last I heard, it was September!  Time it is a-flying.  It has been such a lovely, if challenging year.  It started by joining a gym and taking up swimming again, which I really enjoyed.  I took a lot of power-walks along the rivers of Cambridgeshire, we had an amazing weekend in Southwold at the beginning of March, and then we were thrust into the rush of packing up and moving in March/April.  Before we knew what was happening we had found a delightful rental house, moved, Mr VP had changed jobs and we were ‘back’ into our new and exciting life in Northumberland.  We arrived just as the last of the blossoms in Cambridgeshire were fading and the first of the cherry and hawthorn blossoms were beginning to flower up here – we had the longest, most luxurious spring in my memory.

Summer was a holiday for both of us, and just what we needed after a stressful move.  We visited Coquet Island and saw puffins and seals, we spent our wedding anniversary picking strawberries, we walked for many miles along our favourite beaches old and new, and we made the most of every spare moment we could.  At the beginning of September, we began the mammoth task of house renovation.  This turned out to be not only extremely stressful and difficult, but also very educational and I know a lot more about things I didn’t even know existed (like building regulations and how best to choose decent workmen).  After three months, we moved in to an almost-finished house and that’s where we are now.  We’re still mostly living out of boxes as we’re still waiting for the floor to be laid, but with the lights on, candles lit and the fire going, it is very homely indeed.

If 2014 was about movement, then 2015 will, I hope, be about growth.  Moving house twice in seven months is unbelievably stressful and having to pack-up one house and oversee works in the other is tear-your-hair-out worthy, so I would like to settle down in 2015, yet still grow and develop. At some point I plan to return to my studies, either this year or next, and I would like to increase the time I spend doing good and useful things.  It sounds obtuse, but it means me taking on more challenges and making more committments to myself and the life I would like to create.

I always have a bit of a panic at the end of the year, as I worry about the future and what is to come.  I suppose it’s the not-knowingness that New Year represents that worries me the most, but each year I keep trying to let that worry go a bit more and spend a little bit more living as in-the-moment as I can.  I have had such a glorious year in 2014 that I am eager to see how 2015 will pan out and how we’ll grow and change to meet the year.

So that’s it for 2014.  Here we sit watching Guardians of the Galaxy (Mr VP’s pick), having nibbled at some of the buffet food I’ve made (the homemade sausage rolls and olive palmiers have gone down a treat!) and toasting ourselves in front of a warm fire.  We might not be awake come midnight, but we’ll usually be woken long enough to welcome the new year by the fireworks going off around and about!

To all the lovely blog readers who stop by, I would like to wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2015 for you and yours.  Thanks for reading and see you in 2015! :)

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