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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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.

Sunday 5 March 2017

A Sunday morning walk along the beach

Have you noticed that we’re now exiting the deepest, darkest bits of winter? Like a plant deprived of the sun, I am desperately craning myself to find some its rays again. So when the weather gets above 10C and the wind is not blowing a gale and the sun is shining? I make like a cat and luxuriate, nay revel, in its appearance. Hoo-boy, Sun, you have been away far too long!

All of the above necessary conditions were met the other day and so I set off with Mr VP and Baby VP, the Archers omnibus on in the car (to my absolute flummoxing, I’ve discovered that Mr VP is not only a closet fan of the Archers but if I miss an episode it turns out I can rely on his almost encyclopaedic knowledge of the goings on in Ambridge to set me straight! *insert wide-eyed surprise-face here*).

And so we walked. Away from others, though as it was pretty early (for a Sunday), there weren’t many takers for a brisk walk. Just myself, my girl and Mr VP. Blue skies, white clouds, oystercatchers, a huge stretch of golden sand to explore and beachcomb on and the deep blue North Sea.

On the way back we saw a couple of unfamiliar birds flitting back and forth in the hedgerow. It turns out that they were stonechats. A new one on us!

Sunday 1 February 2015

Snow White

Welcome February!  I have been eagerly awaiting your arrival and thus the arrival of aconites (a month later up here than down in Cambridgeshire), snowdrops and viburnum flowers. To celebrate the new month, we headed off into the depths of the countryside for a walk.  The more northerly and inland we drove, the lower the temperature fell and suddenly the roads started to become snowy.  In the distance, the hills were thick with snow and glinting the sunlight back to us.  Fields full of heavily pregnant sheep, looking rather uncomfortable (the poor loves), were white and small drifts had gathered on the windward side of the hedge.

Finding everything covered in snow, it felt almost like we’d taken the day off and flown somewhere far colder.  The paths we walked down held the imprints of those who had gone before us.  Those arrow-shaped footprints are courtesy of a moorhen and their improbably-sized feet.  Speaking of birds, Gosh!  We saw so many of them.  Bluetits, bullfinches, chaffinches, coal tits, nuthatches, blackbirds, wrens, robins, coots, moorhens, crows and in the distance we could hear the flight call of a buzzard.  One of my favourite birds to see is the nuthatch, as she busies herself with finding food and then hiding it in the nooks and crannies of tree bark.  I was also lucky enough to have finally taken my first photo of a wren!  They’re so quick that to get a photo is normally almost impossible, and I have been trying for some time.  So when this little tiny wren, only about the size of my thumb, was rummaging in the leaves, I took my chance and managed to photograph her before she darted into the undergrowth.

We stopped to soak in some sun on the walk, and within a minute of sitting down we were being watched by two pairs of beady eyes.  The blackbird watched us for a while and then approached, completely unafraid, even when we put our hands out to her.  She sat with us for a while, flying off when people walked past and then returning moments later to watch us again.  She came so close that at one point we thought she’d sit on Mr VP’s boot.  The robin was a little more skittish, but hopped under our legs and looked for bugs hiding on the bench.  We stayed with them for 20 minutes, enjoying their company and feeling very honoured, as one does when wild animals trust you enough to come close.

What a way to start the month, eh?

Saturday 31 January 2015

White Horses

Just like that, January was over in a violence of winds and threatened snow. The last day of January was bitterly cold.  In fact, it doesn’t look like it’s going to warm up any time soon according to the Met Office. At a loose end, we headed out for a coffee and ended up driving past our favourite beach. So we stopped and got out, though we didn’t last long as the wind was so strong and icy that it gave us both brainfreeze headaches, despite our scarves and Mr VP’s hat. We walked for a while and then headed back to the car. The sand was drifting in the gales and the sea was roiling and angry, with waves and spray buffeting the coastline. I think I’ve said it before, but I’m definitely looking forward to a bit of warmer weather!

Wednesday 28 January 2015

The View From Here

It has been snowing on and off all day.  One moment it is bright and sunny, with wide blue skies and the next a dark grey pall saps the light and small, angry snowflakes fall quickly.  The wind is blowing; enough to make the wind bitter and the snow drift and stick to any upright surface it comes across.  It is the tail-end of January so this weather is to be expected and we have been fairly lucky so far, in that we’ve not had any snow until now.  I am, however, eagerly anticipating the start of February and the move towards longer (and milder) days to come (though I have definitely enjoyed January!).  Mr VP has worked from home today because the snow was threatening to start just after lunch and he didn’t want to get stuck in a snowdrift.  So I made cheese scones and parsnip, celery and leek soup and kept him hydrated with cups of tea.  To keep us both toasty, I laid the fire with the last of our wood stores and have revelled in the glow and the heat from our stove.

I’ve been attempting to make the most of the days by keeping busy in the house.  After receiving a note in our veg box a couple of weeks ago notifying us about the availability of organic Seville and blood oranges, I eagerly ordered some and waited for their arrival.  When they arrived I pored over tomes of recipes, trying to decide whether I should do the whole-orange method, the two-day method or whether I should follow Delia’s sage advice and go with her recipe.  I went with Delia in the end, as her recipes are always good, and the house now smells like Spain in summer (or a Tropicana factory…).  I can’t wait to find out what it is like when finished!  I can tell you that I might never get the smell off my hands, though!  This January hibernation thing is turning out pretty nicely.

Saturday 24 January 2015

January Hibernation

I think, dear readers, that I’m going to declare January a bit of a blog write-off.  I keep thinking that I should blog and then the desire to do so seems to dissipate and before long, another week has flown by in the blink of an eye.  It’s almost the end of January – how did that happen?!  The cold and dark days are, hopefully, getting fewer and farther between, but I am eager to feel the warm sun on my skin again!

Mr VP and I have been spending quite a bit of time in the house in our spare time, mostly because we have had so much to do here and because January days can be very dark and dull (as well as flippin’ cold!).  We do try to get out and about regularly, though.  We visit our favourite towns and revel in the quietness of them and also make sure that we get some fresh air in our lungs and our hearts beating by spending time out in the countryside or by the sea.

Last weekend was one such day.  It was pretty much 10 years to the day since Mr VP and I first visited this beach on one thoroughly freezing January day.  On that day back in 2005, we were met on the beach by white breakers, gales and snow, all of which soaked us and froze us.  We walked until we could walk no further and we went back to the car.  That was the day we ‘discovered’ Northumberland, as we were living up until then in the outskirts of Newcastle.  That day sticks in my mind and it only struck me as we were heading home that it was 10 years ago almost exactly that we went for a walk on that beach, with those gales and that snow pelting us.

And when we went there last weekend it was windy and it did snow pretty impressively. We power-walked up the beach, wishing to walk further and maybe to stave off the chill that was blowing off the sea. Yes, that is snow sitting on the sand.  It seems surreal, but up against the dunes it had gathered into whispy drifts of white.  We walked so far that we came to a completely new bit of the beach and we had it all to ourselves.  After stopping for a break and to catch our breath before heading back, the snow arrived and the wind picked up.  By the time we reached the car, we were dripping wet, with snow still sitting in our hair and our cheeks both bright red and burning with the cold. It was the first time I’ve come so close to a goldcrest – Britain’s smallest bird, less than 30cm away from us and which almost flew into Mr VP’s face!  It was such a lovely if freezing walk, full of familiarity and newness all at once.

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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