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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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Sunday 24 September 2017

Autumn solstice

I am sitting at our dining room table and the light is dull, a sort of warm grey as the light filters through the clouds. The greens at the bottom of the garden, the huge expanse of blue-green pine and yellow-green ash and hawthorn are not as bright as they were even a month ago; the hawthorn is well on the turn, now a sallow yellow colour, and beginning to drop its leaves, while the ornamental cherry I love so much is beginning to smoulder before it bursts into full flame.

I thought as I was walking yesterday, out in the fresh air, about time and how we perceive it as we age. How a week would seem to take a lifetime and how long weekends would take to come around. Time is such a luxury now, time to enjoy and savour, even the little moments. There is not enough of it, there’s not enough time and I feel that all the coffee spoons (or teaspoons in my case) are being lined up too quickly. I perpetually feel like I’m chasing my tail and not making the most of the time I have, even though I’m trying to be better.

There is a plate of apples and pears on the table in front of me. It’s that time of year for wonderful British varieties. The current lot are Lord Lambourne, a tad disappointing on the flavour front but pleasingly tart; the last lot were Red Windsor and were some of my favourite. They had the most wonderful, fragrant flavour (thanks to the Cox’s Orange Pippin in their heritage) and a lush red skin. The next lot are ‘Santana’, which smell so strongly of pineapple and which fizz in the mouth.  I remember this wonderful day and I am sad that we don’t have any PYO orchards in Northumberland.  It’s just not a very apple-y place up here.

I’ve been focusing on rhythms recently, trying to sort things out in my head and also in our house. It all started with me reading Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Art of Tidying Up. Whilst I’m not fully on board with all of her thoughts about tidying up and some of the more esoteric elements of it, I get that her particular method is effective, and going through my clothes I found it easier to ‘thank’ the clothes and let them go. It almost felt like I was freeing myself from this weighty burden of guilt.  I managed to get rid of 6 large bags of clothing that I’d been carrying around through multiple house moves. Old clothes, trinkets, boxes and bags of stuff that I knew I wouldn’t use again, or didn’t like or kept just because I felt obligated to. Sadly, this is just a drop in the ocean and I’ve still got the rest of the house to declutter but it does feel good seeing us lightening the load.

The autumn solstice was yesterday, though I’ve been noticing the leaves and the smell for a while now. Summer has been a bit of an odd one for us. I don’t know about you, but the weather all summer has been a splendidly mixed bag of torrential rain and mild, warm days, then wind and more rain. I don’t think we’ve had a ‘hot’ day since May/ early June. Not that I minded the cooler weather, in fact I quite liked it. There were enough long langurous sunny days to allow us to spend them on the beach. I think I’ve rockpooled more this summer than I have for many, many a year. It has been a summer of buckets and spades, jellyfish, crabs and plennys; walks in the woods and the odd weekend picnic.

The shops are now full of pumpkins and the odd Christmas display. Soon it will be Halloween and bonfire night and then the rush into Christmas. The beech leaves are beginning to turn orangey brown before they curl, some hanging on until spring, some falling almost immediately. We went for a walk, just Little VP and I, around a lake that we’ve grown to know and love. It’s a good walk, about a mile around, and we do it slooooowly but have a good laugh as we do. The smell of the leaves and the honking of the geese, the odd hiss of the swans and the wing beats of the birds flying over the water, the sound of beech mast or conkers hitting foliage as they fall to the ground and the fascinating chats we have as we make our way round.

Wednesday 29 March 2017

Feeling better

Have you noticed I’m sort of blogging again? I didn’t want to come out and say “I’m back!” until I knew I was going to come out to post more than a couple of blogs. But here I am and after fighting with some pretty major writer’s block, I feel a bit more able to tackle all the things I’ve been wanting to write about. It feels nice! I don’t know exactly how many posts or how often I’ll be able to do it but I miss it so much that I’m going to endeavour to do it a bit more.

I started taking some supplements a couple of months ago, to help make me feel a bit better and they seem to be yielding results. I’m not really a sun-worshipper, in that I tend to remain fairly well covered in the sun and am definitely not a fan of hot weather on the few days a year we get it, so it’s almost certain I’m vitamin D deficient. I started taking DLux (1000 i.u.) twice daily, a vitamin B complex and also zinc, as having a toddler means I usually end up getting whatever bugs are going round! So far, so good.

Pretty quickly I stared to notice a difference and combined with making sure that I am careful with my diet (especially sugar consumption), I know that I will continue to feel better soon. I always notice that I start to feel better when I see the light sky in the mornings. My mornings now begin an hour earlier than I am accustomed to, as Baby VP’s schedule shifted around 16 months, but I quite like the long stretch of day that it gives me.  It also means that by 9pm I’m usually to be found laying beached on a horizontal surface, totally exhausted, but in a good way.

I cannot wait to get out to the beach again, now with a toddler who can run up and down on the sand :) We’ve already had a few beach visits but there was less running and more trying to stay upright as BabyVP felt the force of the north easterly wind! We have a bucket and spade ready and I’m looking forward to sandy sandwiches and coconut suncream. Until then, I’m making do with plum and cherry blossom on the trees. Bliss!

Saturday 25 March 2017

The may is unfolding in the hedgerows

The hedgerow at the bottom of our garden has in the last week unfurled its beautiful green leaves. Suddenly, almost overnight, the branches are clothed in a thick velvet fabric of such density and verdancy, just as they were those twelve (!) years ago that we bought the house. I look back at those years and that person I was then; I daresay I wouldn’t recognise her at all, in her naivete and youthful exuberance. I daresay she wouldn’t recognise me, either, though I know she’d love the life I’m trying to create for our family.

Spring is the happiest time of year. I used to like winter a lot, but now for me no other season is as wonderful or magical as spring. As lovely as autumn is, it is tinged with a sorrow at losing the lovely days of spring and summer and succumbing to the indoors for a few months. Spring on the other hand beckons you out, holds your hand, wafts sweet scents of newly cut grass and may blossom on the breeze. It has the season’s first strawberries and birds nest-building and long, long, long overdue sun.

Today was one of those dreamy spring days. It was warm, a whopping 14C and almost entirely windless. We had a late-for-us start followed by me making pancakes for everyone, with extra blueberries for Baby VP whose idea of the perfect meal is a blueberry (or twenty).

Mr VP has started the long, arduous task of DIY – painting the dining room and the bathroom amongst other things – so while he got on with that, I took Baby VP out and we went to the beach for a walk. It was so busy there that we actually struggled to find parking – something that hardly ever happens at this particular beach, so you could tell the weather was exceptionally nice. The ice-cream van had a line ten deep for oysters and 99s and Zaps. We walked and she and I and talked about the things we could see; why the water looked so blue and about the people, the birds and the sand.

Spring is a hopeful season. I love it and can’t wait to get out for some more walks and get to see some more places.

Saturday 11 March 2017

Amongst the trees and the birds in winter

Weekends are so short these days. They fly by in the blink of an eye, so, so quickly. What’s different? We’re busy with little Baby VP who is definitely not a baby any more! But weekends… they disappear. So we try to make sure that we go out and do Interesting Things together as a family.

So a couple of weekends ago we donned warm coats, Baby VP wore her thick all-in-one bunny coat, and we headed out for a decent countryside walk. I must admit that since having a baby, our walks are not as long as they used to be, and certainly shorter now that we don’t use a pram any more. But we make sure that we stop to enjoy all that nature has to offer and now that spring is so tantalisingly close.

We find that getting out early is best as we not only avoid the crowds but we make the most of the pre-nap energy. I also think that getting out and about early is best to see wildlife and we were lucky, seeing a treecreeper, lots of blue tits, coal tits, great tits and chaffinches as well as a pheasant, robin and moorhen. It was the first time that Baby VP had been into a bird hide for quite a while, and this time it was magical because she was so open to seeing the birds. We made sure we pointed each one out.  We’re not ‘twitchers’ by any means, but there is a lot I appreciate about seeing birds come and go and spotting new ones I haven’t seen before. They really are beautiful things, birds.

I think about the things I want to pass on to Baby VP, the things she’ll remember forever, and one of the greatest things I can think of is a love of the outdoors. An abiding love and deep appreciation for the wonder and beauty of nature; the awe-inspiring brilliance of the world’s living body. I think of how much information there is to teach; how much I am learning alongside her and I feel so humbled by it all. The weight of this duty is immense. What a wonderful job to have.

By the time we were finished walking and bird-watching we were ready for a sit down and a coffee, complete with a toasted teacake shared between us three.

Saturday 19 November 2016

Autumn, wearing her finest colours

I think you can tell from the photos above and below, we found autumn in all of her splendour.  Despite the temperature – 3ºC; it was Baltic as they say around these parts – we wrapped BabyVP (and ourselves) up well in many, many layers and ventured out for a walk. Most of the trees are bare, but not the beeches.

We walked and took photos here and there of leaves on the floor, chattering all the time to BabyVP about the birds flitting around us; from blackbirds and blue tits to the robins that suddenly appear in such large numbers around now. We came around a corner and were struck silent by this one, lone beech tree.

It was photographic perfection; all black-line branches and yellow-orange-brown leaves. So different to the pines, oaks, horse chestnuts and yews around it. Not that the oaks and chestnuts don’t have beautiful leaves – they do – but unlike all of the beech’s deciduous neighbours whose leaves were long gone, this tree was still clothed in the most wonderful golden coat.

I wonder what BabyVP made of all of this; she must have wondered what on earth her mother was getting so excited about.  I hope to pass this pure adoration of nature on to her; and I see it in the way she points out birds and trees.

I have had a reason to go out with camera in hand. This last week I have been taking part in an online photography course that was free. It’s only 4 weeks, only takes 3 hours a week of taking part in ‘webinars’. I have really enjoyed reconnecting with my camera and its myriad of functions.

We all had a good time, cold hands and rosy cheeks and all.

This week’s lesson was on aperture priority. This is all stuff I knew already but I am learning tips as we go, too. Aperture priority is what gives you amazing bokeh as well as certain lenses (usually the older analogue ones); it controls focus in the same way that scrunching your eyes up allows you to focus a bit better on certain things.

Photography courses aside, when the sun was shining and the birds were singing and BabyVP was cuddled up in her many layers, it really was the perfect day to be outside.  The sun, when it did shine, was almost warm enough to make you forget the icy chill. Almost.

Gosh we were glad to get back into the warmth of the cafe and have a bite to eat. Then home, with a very sleepy BabyVP in the back of the car, who nodded off to sleep shortly after we set off. Those colours though! Those colours…

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! :)












Thursday 21 August 2014

Pine Trees Forever




Last weekend, Mr VP and I went back to a place that has always been very important to us.  I used to walk the dog there every day, in driving rain and snow; in autumn gales and spring gusts.  It was a place I knew so well that I could describe the plants there, the trees, the paths.  Despite our four year absence, it was largely the same but somehow felt different; not because it is different, but because maybe I am.  I think I appreciate so much more than I used to.  We stopped for a moment in the heart of the woods to watch three or four speckled wood butterflies dance round a patch of brambles.  I feel very lucky to have seen a family of wrens before they noticed us and flew off.  Even more amazing was that we came face-to-face with a big doe deer, a roe deer I think, before she leapt and sprang her way off deeper into the pine woods.  What an amazing place.

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