Amazingly, it is that time again - doesn't the month fly round!? I feel to have been particularly busy this one and not taken my usual excessive amount of photos, so today, it the quiet of the house before I head off to the studio, I thought I'd better get my images and stories out :)
This month's words were supplied by my guest list maker Jak from Jak's Tales ...
I volunteer, well, Moss and I volunteer at the walled garden at Malham Tarn Estate. We, along with another volunteer were up there last Monday when it was particularly warm. Now, as someone who is from Africa, I am very aware of a hot day - I just don't 'feel' it as much as other folk do. Moss, on the other hand who is as northern as you can be ..... was feeling the heat! So - in order to stay COOL she kept wallowing in one of the water storage baths behind the greenhouse. Ignore the muddy state of the water but on the right - can you see her tail 'floating'?
On Tuesday, I was in a meeting all morning and I kept being distracted by the view from where I was sitting. There was a gentle but steady MOVEMENT of people walking their dogs or jogging to their music. The long boats gentle pottered up and down while cyclists slid along the pathway. Workmen studiously plodded along in their heavy bright yellow hi-vis outfits in stark contrast to the lightly dressed folk using the towpath. Boat owners climbed on and off their vessels, some were just enjoying the early morning before it got warmer others were more active, washing their boats, hanging out washing, walking to the shops. All morning, gentle activities quietly happening in my view. (PS the meeting was quite pleasant too :) )
This is a definitely out of the box moment, let me explain, about ten years ago, I made a seven foot tall naked scarecrow out of FENCING wire, complete with essential manly bits of anatomy and body hair (out of wire-wool scrubbies). He was then sprayed in black paint and wore the tiniest and frilliest black apron to hide his modesty. He also held a bowl and spoon and was called 'The Naked Chef'. Why, might you ask, did this even happen?
Well, he was made as part of the village's garden festival and he was my entry into the scarecrow section. After the event, Jamie-crow (his name) was delegated to the back of the garden to live out his days in peace and as a bird perch.
That was, until a couple of weeks ago, he was unearthed and taken off to the walled garden. I had been kindly given some suitably outdoors type clothing for him and he became the walled garden's scarecrow. However, Jamie-crow was not the easiest of fellows to dress, having spent over a decade as a naturist with barely a fig leaf to his name, it took two of us and a silly dog to man handle him into his clothes. We spent most of the morning crying with laughter. But he was worth it :)
...'fraid there have been extra photos for this story and there is one final picture... since this final image, the edges have been straightened, paths mown and Jamie-crow has herbs planted around his feet and vegetables springing up in the beds.
I will always be grateful for photography - particularly digital photography and computers, for allowing me to see up close and personal, things small and apparently insignificant. So, on seeing this SPIKY stem in macro - with all the vicious barbs and spikes, it is only when you zoom out and realise it is a delicate and gentle Aquilegia nodding her head in the dappled shade of my garden.
My own choice...
...has to be an image I took last Saturday as we walked up Oxenber Woods to revel in the bluebells. We do it every year and this year they were perfect. The air was heady with their scent and we sat on the top of the hill on a craggy cliff over looking a beautiful view. Perfect.
I am going to blog about this lovely little micro-adventure next week.
And the more observant of you may have noticed that I missed a word out - I just could not find an image or story to go with it. So, you were all blessed with loads of Jamie-crow images instead!! Now off to see what you lovely lot got up to!
With the sublime weather filling the last few days, I seemed to have let blogging slip. The spring sunshine has woken not just the weedlings but also my mojo - both of which are keeping me occupied.
There have been times when I have drifted toward my blog and then having stared at the laptop for a while, found that my energies drag me elsewhere.
Anyhoo - today, inspired by a photographer friend who spent some time in my garden taking countless pictures of emerging spring flowers, unfurling fronds and fallen cherry blossom, I picked up my camera and took a photo or two.
The garden is in a process of transformation, from a tired space, which quietly grew rangy and unkempt, now she makes me feel inspired. A magical encompassing Eden who wraps around my summerhouse and fills my eyes and head full of beautiful and delicate flowers.
The spring flowers are providing a source of reference for my art - and by painting them - I find I am 'seeing' them in a whole new light.
Apart from my friend who seemed to crawl around the garden capturing views I had previously not noticed, I was accompanied for most of the day by Pepper, who either slipped quietly in and out of the burgeoning plants - she very quickly becomes invisible, or languishing on the pathway, soaking up the sun and watching tiny flies zipping about through half closed eyes.
Then, this evening I returned to the garden. The sky was a thin blue black colour, a few stars had appeared and the air still had a slight hint of warmth. It was beautiful. Long may it last xxxxx
We have quietly reveled in a three day weekend, wrapped in sunshine and surrounded by the greening hills and garden.
☼ ☀☼ ☀☼ ☀☼ ☀☼ ☀☼ ☀ ☼ ☀☼ ☀☼ ☀ ☼ ☀☼ ☀☼
Saturday we venture briefly into the maddening crowd as we need to go shopping and despite our early morning foray - the streets and shops are already full of hot and frazzled folk. Scowling and glowering they appear to block the sunshine from themselves. We return to our oasis as soon as we can. Where we are drenched by bird song and I can breathe. We garden, water precious seedlings, remove weedlings, take photos, share the glasshouse with a blackbird fledgling.
Our pond is full, a small army of frogs have taken up residence, their indifferent outlook on life fascinates Pepper, who sits and watches their barely discernible activity with confused concentration.
Sunday we escape to the hills. Youngest drives, I knit and Himself knowing where to go to avoid people directs us up to a remote and beautiful area. We see a total of four other wild souls - all celebrating giving humanity the slip.
Moss, unimpressed that she has to wear her long-lead until we are sheep free, pulls ahead, willing us to stretch our pace. It is hot. Himself and Youngest remember a stream from a previous adventure and we stop for lunch. Food tastes better eaten under the sky. Moss soaks herself in the stream countless times.
Our path leads us up and over what feels like seemingly endless hills and down in to a fertile and farmed valley full with sheep and lambs.
We chance on a slender strip of protected ground. Sheltered from grazing sheep it is full of cowslips, primroses, wood anemone, lady's smock and ...
... the tiniest violets in a delicious shade of heart-breaking indigo.
The final pull back up on to the edge of the moor tests my knee (and challenges my mettle) but we get there. I've done it - we've done it.
Alongside our garage there is a ladder to the roof which takes you, if you dare, high up above the garden, above the goings-on in the village. From there you can see rooftops, chimneys and beyond them, fields and trees and then to the horizon and her hills and fields.
You can catch voices drifting up as folk walk along the lanes. Their words curl and twist around in the air, making their conversations into an undulating floating sound. I can lie back and watch buzzards drift.
Up on the garage roof, surrounded by grasses, wild flowers, weeds and ferns, I can roll over look down into my glasshouse and cast a proud earth-motherly eye over the seedlings.
Spring is a wonderful time of the year. The greening and rising of the sap along with the deepening of the sun's warmth has made my garden smile.
**for Fil - thank you for your lovely words about my photography. You asked how I get the blurred look around the edges - I have a sony a58 and use the macro option, get as close as I can, keeping my subject in focus. Because I am so close anything in front goes the most gentle fuzzy blur.
Tomorrow promises to be another beautiful day - tomorrow I want to wrap myself in the outside and revel in the sun and the sky.
Thank you every one who joined in with April's Scavenger Hunt - there were some cracking images and lovely new photo-hunters joining us too - so glad you did :)
Please never feel that your images don't measure up against the other hunters - everyone's pictures and stories are worth reading about and worth sharing - your vignettes and photos enrichen our day. So thank you!
Everyone, take a bow you deserve it :)
John - from Stray Rambler - really thought 'out of the box' with my personal favourite being the labyrinth for wood but it seems the Manchester Bee for 'My Own Choice' was the favourite with other hunters.
Fil from Fil's Songs and Stories had a magical theme running through with fairy houses and stories of Viking dog burial islands - love it! Simon the cat seemed the favourite story and picture (as was the soon to be mortgage free slip photo!) in Fiona's 'Made in a Muddle' scavenger hunt post - Simon is a particularly handsome fellow >^.^<
I have to say I was particularly pleased to say that we had not only a new hunter but a new hunter with a brand new scavenger hunt blog called la Papillion Bleu - welcome Vivienne - glad you joined us :) Louise from Ramblings of a Roachling is as busy as ever but still managed to bosh the hunt and have a goodly selection of stories and images! Another busy lady is Lovely Lady from Threads Through My Life - yet she too found the time to squeeze in her photos and she too is another one who thinks outside the box - love your Muddy M!
Cathy from nanacathydotcom said she found this one hard, however after she raided the archives - I think she came up trumps :) my favourite being 'I Bloody Love Knitting! - made me chuckle. Barb's Ramblings cleverly used Halloween cross stitch for letters and it was, I thought, very successful, beautifully stitched Barbara.
Sharon from Sunshine and Celandines only contacted me about 24 hours before going live saying she'd not noticed April's words - yet she still managed to produce the full list with lovely photos and interesting stories (my favourite is Hugo as a pup being 'marooned' on a rock!)
Not everyone will have worked out that Jak from Jak's Tales is my mum and she had to go into hospital for a total knee replacement. This sort of curtailed her blogging activities. So, when I was visiting her on the day after her surgery she pressed her mobile phone into my hand and sent me out with strict instructions to take pictures to match the words. I am afraid they all look like they are leaning to the side as I was not sure how to work her phone (I use a digital camera so find phone cameras a little daunting!)
I enjoy reading photo hunter's blogs from different countries as their images are often quite different - Susan from Granny Smith's Quilting is a good example. She shares lovely images of beaches and exotic views, her hot garden and Australian native animals. Talking of animals, Eunice at Life in the Mouse House shared a most handsome dog - Sam - as her 'My Own Choice', a cracking photo taken on a flint beach.
Rosie from 'Corners of my Mind' shared some lovely photos too, I had to comment on her most pretty playing cards. The ammonite for 'spiral' is beautiful.
Last but not least is Julie from Julie's Scavenger Hunt her first photo of a rather wicked cake delighted me - fortunately looking at cake photos are calorie free (phew!)
So, thank you one and all and
... drum roll please ...
this month's list as supplied by guest-list-supplier ...
My Own Choice
We shall reconvene on Friday 25th May and show and share our photos and stories.
Firstly welcome to my new followers, lovely to see you here and WeLcOmE to April's scavenger Hunt Photos - I took them all over the course of weekend working in the garden.
Up until the evening of the 22nd (Sunday) we had such gloriously lovely weather that both Himself and I were inspired to more or less completely redesign the garden. (Oooh me aching back!!)
The unfurling of the leaves of my Hosta Albomarginata.
I have recently discovered that eating Hosta shoots
can be something rather delicious
then tossed in olive oil and seasoned well.
Guess I'll have to give it a try :)
One of the 'things to do' in our garden remodeling,
was to move the paths we'd first laid nearly 16 years ago.
However, I'd forgotten that one of the paths we'd constructed
was part of a field drainage system we'd installed (how could I forget that??)
Any hoo, this path was not for moving, so after a bit of a think,
It has become a way of leading the eye
to a tall upright rock pillar and Swaledale sheep skull.
Once the plants have settled and grown - I think it will really good.
I - well - we, have a love for old things,
things that gently decay and quietly decompose.
we have very old (rescued from landfill) railway sleepers,
blackened with age and rock hard on the outside,
yet inside soft and spongy filled with all sorts of happy bugs and grubs.
Part of the re-construction of the garden entailed making new compost bays,
which I did last weekend,
this weekend Himself painted the rather starkly pale pallet wood
a deliciously dark black.
Then in the evening, I made two signs,
one for each of them and
on Sunday - Youngest hung them up.
Meet Muck and Magic!!
I LOVE balancing stones!
There is nothing more to say on the matter !
My own choice
A quick snap, taken before the light faded just as it started to rain.
A view from the back of the garden towards the summerhouse studio.
New compost bays,
new brick pathway (wide enough to traverse a wheel barrow)
new bed (not finished) to help soften the view of the compost bays,
new work area (middle view far distance in front of the glass house)
re-laid lawn, lifted and relaid path.
But now, rain.
Promised cold weather front on the way.
Time to come in and light the fire.
Our brief but incredibly deliciously warm week
was not wasted :)
Now to go blog hop all of the scavenger hunters and catch up with what they have written :)
Having been reluctantly glued to the laptop for what feels like far too long, I push for a walk. I have to drop off a pendrive and some brochures, seems like the perfect alibi. Besides Moss has that same cabin-fever look in her eyes that I have in mine.
Collecting a rangy teenager, an over-excited dog, lead and fighting back a persistent cat wishing to join us, we step out of the house. The air is fresh and my hair is flipping around by a boisterous breeze. The sunshine misleading us into a false sense of security and we quickly realise it is cooler than first thought.
We stride out, dog with her shoulders set as she pulls on her lead, Youngest - all legs and arms and flapping jacket matches her pace. I, slower and shorter paced, quicken my step to keep up.
We cross our road, following a quiet lane which curves between a high wall and a row of cottages, over a culvert and up a flight of narrow steps flanked by thick lush grass burgeoning with bobbing headed daffodils. The sound of school play time fluctuates about us as children's voices are carried by the wind and then flung over the village. Our pace, still quick as we continue upwards, is better matched as I loosen, taking longer strides while Moss relaxes into her walk. Youngest and I talk. On this and on that - on something and nothing. We are able to do that, he and I. Both our fringes fly around our eyes and our ears start to feel cold despite the sun.
At the end of the little lane, we turn right, still upward. We hop over puddles and pot holes, mindlessly chatting. Finally we reach the house I have to drop off my parcel - job done.
Neither of us want the walk to end.
So I point out a little used path, a small and well tended one quietly following the garden perimeters. Primula, cowslips, ribes and daffodils line one side and fresh lime green tree leaflets tickle our faces from the other.
The narrow path widens to a grassy track, chickens pootle around and are startled by our arrival, quickly ducking under a gate where they turn and watch us walk by. At this point, although not the highest spot in the village, there is a broad valley view of the village and the buildings. Each group of houses indicating the era of their construction. Higgledy cottages with heavily sagging slate rooves, boxy 1970's social now private housing, modern generic architecture - the type that confirms to a 'look' yet have no character. We walk past larger homes up here, older monied ones financed by mills from years gone by. Our track slips into another more used and rocky one and turns us back down the valley. Snaking around chicken pens and rusting vehicles. Moss runs and puddle-jumps, chasing the ball and returning for another throw - her energy boundless.
The further down the valley, the more sedate the track becomes, the more polite and less rutted more road-like, now tarred, we follow it until we turn into large undulating field. The gate tucked between two large trees lets us enter and once again we feel more free. Youngest throws the ball back and forth for the dog as she hurtles through the bright green grass. Often there is stock in this space, but not today - better for us. Diagonally across we go, accompanied by a zig zagging Moss.
Our field ends and we resume a lead walk for a short distance, down the road, across the main street, follow a winding lane to mills and businesses, back up the other side of the valley. Back on to fields, this time sharply steep. Chatting slows down to accommodate greater breaths but we soon resume our conversation. I turn and view the valley from the other side, tracing our route with my eyes, noticing we were back in the breeze and it is quite cutting. We leave the steep field and join our favourite 'Ol' Joe's Lane'. A short track, narrow in places with tumbling stone walls and amazing views over 'our' hill looming behind the village.
The ball is lobbed again back and forth, Moss eagerly chases, her teeth snapping as misses or catches, leaping up high or twisting round on a quick paw - she is fast and keen. We soon reach the end, procrastinating by observing yet more hens, this time quietly preening and steadfastly ignoring - they are used to walkers stopping to gawk.
Lead back on, we step on to the road back down into the village. Past the house that kindly supplies water for thirsty dogs, past the strange half developed half demolished building, down, down, past the row of cottages with cute little gardens out front, past sleeping lambs, down down, past the village shop and cafe, past the 'Old Jam Pots', past the War Memorial. Over the road, past the community hall and old library, past the pub and nail bar. For a village we have a lot of small businesses quietly keeping the heart beating.
Then we are home, through the back door, kettle on - time for a mug of tea.