Posts Tagged ‘holiday’

I followed the progress of recent tempests and deluges in the West Country from afar, always expecting there to be bad news when I returned. But it wasn’t the crumbly old front windows; on the list for replacement since June but not yet started by the joiner. It wasn’t the roof, although a bit of the garage roof did go flying. It wasn’t the already leaking woodshed which seems barely worse than usual.

offending porchNo, to ring the changes, it was our little porch, hopefully constructed by some bodger, that allowed the rain to be driven in. The mighty wooden lintel above the old front door is sodden, the walls in the vestibule are sodden, the big coir doormat acted like a sponge and is … sodden. And … rather unbearably after two very large chunks of expenditure … the fireplace is sodden. Again.

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But it’s still early in the year and, like this heron, I’m full of relaxed joy and a resolution not to sweat the small stuff. So instead of dwelling on what are fortunately only minor annoyances, here are some things that I saw on some of the many walks I went on in various places, including a snowy golf course where I got lost in the holes.

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But it wasn’t all hard walk. My cousin Sweet Tooth also needed his fixes so sometimes we just had to go inside.

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Easter break?

Well, I did everything that I meant to do here over Easter but most importantly Tincknells arrived to deliver the heating oil before the weekend, which meant it was even possible to be here with temperatures relentlessly close to freezing. They don’t know how much I love them for getting here on Thursday afternoon.

oil tanker delivering fuel

So, it went like this: I mended the gutter that I’ve been waiting weeks for a chap from the village to do. He seems to have just vanished and I’ve given up chasing him. His loss. On Friday I went for an absolutely freezing horse ride and cleaned the windows, well…some of them. I cooked roast (British – important in these days when newborn lambs are being lost to snowdrifts and farming life is hard) lamb on Sunday,  made scones for a cream tea yesterday, and walked a new route up a bridlepath on a non-crowded bit of Cothelstone Hill on Sunday before lunch. Was it Sunday? I’m losing track.

wheelbarrow full of logsOn Saturday, I trundled at least 10 wheelbarrowfuls of logs round from the garage to the woodshed while the Girl stacked them – it was great having the help and, every time I do this, I am grateful that the woodshed is down the hill from the garage (which is where the supplier drops off the logs) not vice versa.

And today I planted five new bits of hedge to fill in the winter’s damage by the county council/rain/landslides at the end of the garden. I say ‘bits’ because I don’t really know what to call them – there were five of them  – five holes to be dug and filled in again. I bought viburnum on the recommendation of Stuart at Triscombe Nurseries, which is a plant I don’t particularly like, but we needed something robust and evergreen that would root quite quickly and help bind the bank together. I don’t need to see it often as it’s quite far from the house. I just need it to be a hedge. Just a hedge.

frosty garden

Oh, and I read a whole book. Now I think I need a rest. This isn’t quite how a break is supposed to work, is it?

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In London this morning, on my way to the supermarket – a five-minute cycle ride – I spotted so many pretty festive wreaths.

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Grr, blurry above. I just can’t tell when the stupid viewfinderless camera isn’t focusing where I want it to.

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There’s a fine selection of wreaths at Not on the High Street. Too late for this Christmas, of course, but plenty of ideas there for do-it-yourself wreaths for next year, if you’re that way inclined.

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And there is a link to how to make a felted ball wreath rather nicer than those being sold online, on the Pickles website, which you can read about it an old post.

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This last one reminds me of one I used to have. But on my door this year is a very simple, cheap wreath from Sainsbury’s because last year, on Christmas Eve, ours was stolen. At least at Spring Cottage, that’s not so likely to happen. At least I hope not, so here it is – made from holly and berries from the garden.

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Postscript: it turns out that I’m not the only one with a thing for wreaths at this time of year. There are some lovely ones over at Charlotte’s Plot as well.

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I set out to avoid the Olympics in London, where I spend much of the week. All the edicts about what you could and couldn’t do, say or print had been annoying me so much in the run-up to the opening ceremony. A Swedish friend of mine suggested a house swap way back in February and I leapt at the idea. Ironically, I ended up watching loads of track and field events during the second week on TV in Sweden and grew quite addicted to keeping up with the ever-growing British medal tally. Now I’m looking forward to the Paralympics.

We swapped pets as well as houses and looked after the wonderful Doglas, a Bernese Sennenhund, a breed I’d never heard of. Related to St Bernards, he had been shorn of much of his thick coat for the summer so that he wasn’t too hot but, even so, he spent a fair amount of time lying in the bathroom, the coolest room in the house. He is the best dog, not retaliating when he’s barked at by yappy little terriers, or running off to herd up the cows we encountered on this walk, even though that’s what is in his genes. We quickly became bilingual in Swedish dogspeak, which is not difficult as it’s fot, pronounced ‘foot’ for ‘heel’ and sitta for ‘sit’ but barely needed to tell him to behave.

I’ve been to this part of Sweden many times before over the last 15 years or so and this was one of the first times the weather had been pretty poor throughout but we still enjoyed many long walks, good food and the quiet, gentility of a largish seaside village in the summertime.

We managed a couple of dips in the freezing sea (an early morning and evening tradition with locals, who wander or ride their bikes down to the beach in their bathrobes) – mine on a particularly seaweedy, squally day, quite unlike the sunnier day that dawned when I took the picture above.

This is Hovs Hallar, quite close to where we were staying. You can see the Danish coast across the Kattegat, depending on which way you look.

You make your way down to the beach through quiet, silvery woods and knee-high heather.When you arrive, the beach is pebbly and sown with random grasses and yet more heather.And the purity of the air is evident in the rich lichens growing on the stones along the shore.

We were even treated to a 4.4 magnitude earthquake on our second night, which is relatively unusual for the region, which has tremors roughly every decade or so. I woke up and thought it was thunder followed by the dog bumping into my bed.

It was also lovely to unexpectedly have the Boy with us before he heads off for a year in Australia. Of course we squabbled (this is real life, after all), the tension of a long separation that I’m none too keen on rubbing our emotions raw at times. But these are some of the impressions that will keep me going over the months of grey wet pavements ahead.

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Looking forward

Looking forward

I’m looking forward to soon being somewhere else.

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It probably doesn’t take a genius to work out that I’ve been away. Somewhere very much colder than the UK. Somewhere the recession hasn’t touched. Somewhere buzzing with confidence and style.

I have never happily tramped so many miles dressed in so many clothes.

Or been so surprised by so much wonderful, art nouveau architecture

or so many beautiful baroque buildings in a city that manages simultaneously to exist so vibrantly in the present day.

A place where people shovel snow from the roofs of buildings, so that it doesn’t spontaneously avalanche off and kill passers by.

Where can it be?

It’s Stockholm. I’ll be telling more stories about it soon. But now it’s time to catch up on some well-earned rest.

 

 

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Peace

This is my favourite week of the year – between Christmas and New Year, before everything cranks up to full pitch again. Nothing coming into my inbox. Time to do mending and baking. Children where they ‘should’ be – asleep in their beds. Daily life muted. I feel like I want time to stand still. I don’t really – I’d get cabin fever and be bored, restless and irritable. But for the moment, this quiet is wonderful. Savouring how great life is, how lucky I am, is wonderful. So I’m preserving it here.

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