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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Tuesday 1 March 2016

Good Things

I wrote a blog post a couple of weeks ago and somehow never pushed the ‘publish’ button; such is life these days. I don’t have much time to blog and when I do I find myself flip-flopping around about what I should say, so it ends up sitting there until I write a blog post later that I do find acceptable. Oh but there have been so many good things recently that I have been meaning to tell you about: like Baby VP’s sudden ability to sit up unaided, or the baby-led-weaning thing that is just so much fun (and also SO messy!).

So as I can’t sit down to write long-form, I’ll use bullet-points to illustrate the Good Things going on right now:

  • The days getting longer again. I am extremely glad to see the back end of winter, let me tell you. Even if they do keep mentioning the s-word and ‘Arctic winds’ on the news.
  • Plum blossom on the trees in town… even if it has been there since January (crazy).
  • Hawthorn leaves out at the beginning of February… even crazier.
  • This song, after not hearing it for ages.
  • Oh and this one tooMad Rush – I didn’t know the meaning of the concept until recently.
  • And for you Iceland-lovers, the official release of this song that I mentioned ages ago.
  • The bed-time routine: a golden hour of giggles and books and baths.
  • Our newest gadget: a Canon Selphy CP910 printer so I can finally get going with the ProjectLife set that Mr VP got me for my birthday last year.
  • Daffodils and Welsh cakes; it is St David’s Day after all.
  • Watching our neighbour’s bird boxes come to life again with regular sprucing-up visits from prospective great tits.
  • Seeing a cormorant in the middle of town and a whole v-shaped flying formation of curlews along the coast.
  • … not to mention a robin and a heron…
  • Baby VP’s first proper beachy walks. The best days ever.

Sunday 27 October 2013

Wet and Windy

As I type this, we are beginning to feel the very fringes of the great St Jude’s storm (highly apt, given that he is the saint of depression and lost causes!), which is due to pass over us this evening and tomorrow morning.  Candles and matches are at the ready, phones are charged and we have all but battoned down the hatches here at VP Central.  The wind is lashing at the door and occasionally spattering the windows with high-velocity rain.  It’s all very scary, not knowing exactly what will happen to our belongings, our house and our car in the next few hours – and be powerless to prevent damage.

All I can do is snuggle down with Mr VP, drink tea (lots of it), make sure that there is plenty of hot water in the hot-water-tank, put on a film and crochet my snuggly ripple blanket and think of all of those people who aren’t as fortunate as we are, to be cosy and warm in the winds.  A very sobering thought indeed.

Today was also the day that we lost one of music’s leading lights: Lou Reed.  RIP Lou.  In memory of him, here’s a track that I know and love very dearly.

Sunday 7 July 2013

Summer Garden by Day

Suddenly, in the space of just a few days, the mercury has risen and we are in the middle of a heatwave.  Grass that was once green is now hues of yellow and brown; trees are less vivid and look slightly dishevelled; people are reduced to wearing as little clothing as possible and we all feel like insects under a particularly cruel child’s magnifying glass.  These photos were taken before the heatwave, when the temperature was settled in the mid-teens and the garden was a riot of colour and glory.

The iris above was one of a huge selection of plants that Mr VP and I bought on our honeymoon in Dorset.  Ironically, and perhaps poetically, it has only begun to flower in the last couple of years when we re-located it to my mother’s garden when we moved from Northumberland.  It is such a wonderful plant and I am glad that it is now happy in its new home.  I make sure that I am around to photograph it when it does bloom, though, and it is even better because it usually blooms just before our anniversary.

I miss growing lupins.  They were one of the first plants we grew in our house in Northumberland as they were self-set and very happy.  I shifted them to a better position and they would flower so merrily and in such great profusion.  Where we see dandelions and buttercups blooming along most of our roads in summer, in Sweden you only see lupins.  They’re clearly very hardy plants!  What a wonderful sight to behold, zooming down the glorious E4 motorway; a sea of blues and purples erupting.

My mother’s garden is mostly a cottage garden as she and I hold many of the same ideas about plants and planting.  Cornflowers, both the perennial Centaurea montana (below)  and annual Centaurea cyanus versions, flower cheek-by-jowl with aquelegias (above), herbs, roses, clematis and honeysuckles.  Before the heat of summer really strikes, the garden looks superb.

Wednesday 6 February 2013

Glorious, Despite the Weather

I lay in bed this morning watching the clouds race across the sky and listening to the wind battering the roof.  What little sun we had this morning was quickly replaced with grey clouds, getting progressively darker until the clouds, spurred on by the strong Northerly winds, wrung themselves out over us.  It now looks like we’re in the middle of a car wash as the rain lashes at the windows and a cold wind blows madly at the door.  All of this weather is not quite as bad as the other night, when we were woken at past midnight by crashes of the oddest thunder and lightning I’ve ever seen in my twenty-seven years on this green earth.  It was by turns eerie and worrying all at once because it was directly overhead and then proceeded to hurl hailstones upon us at a ferocious speed.  At least it was not snow though!

Unless you happen to love the cold, wet weather (I think the next generation of Brits will be born with webbed feet), today is definitely a day for all things ‘inside’.  I bought the flowers above as they were massively reduced in the supermarket (three bunches originally totalling £12 were reduced down to £1.20!) and they really do light the place. They are some of my favourite flowers: lysianthus and ranunculus (wonderfully-named ‘cabbage roses’!).  Aren’t they beautiful?

I was also compelled to make soup because it is simple, quick and beautifully warming.  This time it was a pot of leek and potato.  To make it, merely wash three or four small leeks and roughly dice.  Dice an onion.  Wilt these in a little bit of butter, over a medium heat, for five minutes or until they are all soft and scented.  Add two large potatoes, diced into large pieces.  Add a pint of organic chicken or vegetable stock (I love Kallo stock cubes – brilliant quality) and a small glass of milk (I used skimmed because that’s all we drink).  Simmer until the potatoes are cooked – about twenty minutes.

I sometimes leave it chunky, but because these leeks weren’t the most tender, I decided to blitz it with a hand blender.  The result is a smooth, thick soup with a slight sweetness, a good depth of flavour and a real feeling of ‘healthiness’ to it.  And who do I have to thank for all of this but the gales and the rain outside?

Truly glorious because of the weather.

Thursday 31 January 2013

Last Walk of January, Part 1

The UK has recently been battered by winds; the same winds that lashed the east-coast in 1953, causing some of the worst flooding that the country has ever seen.  Ironically, exactly sixty years later, the UK has been battered by hurricane-strength winds.  I can attest to the strength of the winds as I happened to glance out of the window at the exact moment that a neighbour’s fascia and flashing on their roof flew off and landed in their garden!  Scary!

I was definitely in the mood for a walk this afternoon.  After having been cooped up for most of January due to weather and illness, I needed to feel the icy wind on my face and breathe the air that is, despite feeling cold, much warmer than it was a week ago.  I got out with just fifty minutes until sunset and I was definitely into the depths of the golden hour; that hallowed time for photographers and artists alike.

It was such a beautiful day, but so windy that it took your breath away.  I opened my arms out and the force of the wind was immense.  I felt the wind rush through my fingers and felt the wind’s own fingers run through my hair; cooling my scalp and giving me a brainfreeze headache.

I looked out for signs of life and though the trees weren’t showing any buds, this cow parsley was looking as if it was coming back to life.  I look forward to the days when buds appear on every branch and every tree.

These two photos of this hawthorn tree look so much like the fractals that make them.  I think nature is inordinately more beautiful when you learn that it follows the golden ratio of fractals and so, like all natural things (think of snowflakes!) it is linked to every other living thing.  Can you see each branch, branching off into different directions – doesn’t it look like the branches of a snowflake?  Given just a couple of months, you wouldn’t be able to see this for all of the soft green leaves covering it from top to toe.

This is the same walk that was completely flooded over Christmas.  All of these snails were drowned by the sheer amount of water and length that the place was flooded.

Some of the last rosehips on the bush will soon fall and make way for new leaves, then flowers and then more rosehips.  It is so clear to see the cyclical nature of wildlife.

This was, I think, a shag flying to its roost site.  I’m glad that I managed to catch it before it sped away, flying into such a headwind.

Ever one for a natural silhouette, this time I was not disappointed.  Walking back I felt wildly refreshed and vital, full of the same vitality that horses and dogs show when they run in the wind.  It was as if Mother Nature herself had slapped me on the cheeks and said “You’re alive!” because I came back with red cheeks and a running nose.  It was glorious!

Saturday 12 January 2013

Cold, Sightless Grey

It is so cold here at the moment.  It is a time for my favourite knitted-by-mum blanket (I must blog about it!) and heating and hot drinks a-plenty.  It is a time for inside; a time to wrap up and be kind and gentle.

This was the scene that met me the other morning.  Freezing fog enveloped everything around us; fields, hedgerows, sheep – things that had been bright and clear, just the night before.  What a difference twelve hours can make…

The fog hung unashamedly, blanketing everything but providing no warmth.  It was a cold, musty smelling mist that even the sun could not penetrate.

I could see neither in front of me, nor behind me.

These sheep are due to give birth any moment. What a cold, lonely kind of place to bear one’s young.

This orb is the sun, trying in vain to burn through the impenetrable layers of aspirate.  The land’s breath.

Tuesday 27 November 2012

NaBloPoMo 2012: Day 27. The Wintry Garden.

Cineraria looks, in all weathers, as though the frost has caught its leaves.  This time it really had.  Water droplets gathered and clung and then froze solid to every surface in the garden.  In just a few hours we were part of the most wonderful winter wonderland.

And yet despite the frost, there comes forth new life, resilient in its determination to live despite the cold.

From that humble beginning, the new life will become one of these cyclamen.  The hardiest, sweetest winter garden plant.

This little wintergreen plant, full of that characteristic heady minty-pine aroma is quietly blossoming.  Its red provides dramatic difference to the cyclamen leaves.  Can you see the spider’s web, hiding?

The strawberry leaves are going a most stunning colour – the same colour, in fact, as their fruit.  Magical!

Yet despite death there is grace and life and beauty.  This fuschia is a hardy bush variety, which flowers late into the season and looks just as good as it has all summer long.

Like a pink and purple ballerina.

Ahh, the last of the season’s roses, blooming and budding.  It won’t be doing it for much longer though, the cold is too much for even the hardiest rose cultivars.

And we finish on the delicate bending neck of another cyclamen.

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