Posts Tagged ‘pictures’

close up of an aquilegia seed head

waterbird

seagulls on the coast

There’s nothing nicer than having the time to indulge in what you like doing. For me, that often means taking photographs. Without any pretensions to being a photographer, I do, however, enjoy choosing pictures that highlight beautiful aspects of an ordinary day or that capture an atmosphere or a memory.

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I have an old friend staying, so we went up to Porlock by way of Dunster. I can’t think of better places to show a Canadian some typical English scenery. We drove along a lot of small lanes rather than take the main roads some of the time, which is always heaven around here, as there are so many little spots where the views are fabulous.

bluebell woodLike me she takes lots of photographs – and is thinking of doing it professionally, she is so good – so we stopped a lot more than I normally am able to do, as I usually feel like the person who is holding everyone up by lingering to take yet another picture.

Wildflower meadow with person walking in background

And I finally had the opportunity to stop at the Blue Ball Inn at Triscombe, which I’ve only ever driven past previously. It seems to be quite well known, and certainly, I can vouch for their roast beef and horseradish sandwich being the tenderest I’ve ever eaten.

The Blue Ball pub at Triscombe, Somerset

We spent quite a while in the lovely Dunster, so it took us more or less all day to get as far as Porlock and Porlock Weir, which was wonderful, as by then the weather had cleared up and the light was beautiful.

Porlock Weir in the evening

It was a lovely day and, for me, a great way of seeing places that I’ve been to before.

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Sitting in my kitchen working from home today, I can hear incessant birdcalls. So I thought I’d upload some of the images of birds that I’ve taken in the last couple of years at Spring Cottage. They’re not great pictures or very exciting or unusual birds, but as I keep saying – this is principally a record for me and my family and, if anyone else likes it too, then so much the better.

Chaffinch

Chaffinch

When my parents-in-law first moved to the countryside, I was surprised to see the interest with which they watched the birds in their garden. I couldn’t have found anything less fascinating – I just thought, “Birds, so what?”. Now, I can see my children, who are in their early twenties, thinking the very same thing about me, as I get excited by the birds that nest in the garden or feed on the seed I put out.

pheasant in grassy field

Cock pheasant

old bird book

When I was a very little girl, I was given a bird book, so I must have had an interest in birds (although I also had a great uncle who gave me Ladybird books for Christmas until I was at university, so this doesn’t necessarily follow). I coloured in some of the pages with red felt pen and traced a lot of the images of birds over and over again. I wrote my name inside the front cover alongside little pencil hearts. It’s been well-loved and is now falling to pieces with a very broken spine but, despite having other bird books with lovely photographs, it is still this book that lives permanently in the kitchen and that I go back to when I want to identify a bird. Its drawings are clear and the birds are well described, which is more than you can say for a lot of modern books, although I do really rate the RSPB Bird Identifier website.

Sparrow

Sparrow

And while I’m thinking about my childhood, what bird epitomises a city child’s experience of birdlife better the sparrow? Sadly, these days you rarely see what used to be an everyday little bird, although bright green parakeets are now a common sight across London, frightening away the indigenous species with their loud cries. They annoy me in their huge flocks screeching across the skies, but I do enjoy them in my neighbour’s cherry tree, balancing on one leg while they hold a cherry in the claws of the other foot and take bites. This seems so comical.

Dunnock

Dunnock

Greenfinch

Greenfinch

The picture above is a bit of a cheat as I’ve had to enhance it slightly, as it was taken through my kitchen window and looked a bit murky.

robin on a branch

Robin

My favourite bird though, in town and in the country, remains the robin – for its faithfulness and friendliness. There always seems to be one around and they’re quite happy for me to take endless photographs of them, while they sing their hugely under-appreciated and beautifully varied songs.

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Poster post

posterHere is a new poster for the cottage, which arrived from America recently. Bought from the US Government Printing Office for $15 – it’s a lovely piece of artwork by Charles Harper, advertising travel to the US Atlantic Barrier Islands. It was recommended by Sharilyn from the Lovely Design blog – see Things I Like in the sidebar, who has a lot of other wonderful ideas for wall deco as well.

Unfortunately, the GPO didn’t package it very well, so, not only was bent to hell but it was also waterlogged and stained when it arrived, which was disappointing. But I just decided that this gives it character and framed it anyway. I’ll try and take a crisp picture at some point and replace this iPhone one, or have a look at Lovely Design’s post, which has a good shot of it.

Postscript: I notice that I have developed an obsession with water birds.

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red grapesToday’s delight: the vine, on this cool and windy hillside, has grapes on. Tiny and pretty inedible but grapes, actual grapes, nonetheless.

Car boot sale in Nether Stowey this morning –  must be one of the last ones of the season. Much smaller than usual but nice, normal people selling their old junk rather than the dealery types who turn up sometimes and charge ridiculous amounts. Gloriously sunny and warm – quite a contrast to the blustery hillside at home. I spent the princely sum of £6 on a Lloyd Loom dressing table stool, which needs serious renovation, and a huge woodbasket. Then I fell in love with a 10-week-old Jack Russell puppy, which a man talking to the pasty stall ladies (Help for Heroes) was selling – puppy-farm alarm bells.

water bird picturesHere are my water birds in the bathroom. If you click on them, they’ll enlarge so that you can see their funny, almost smiley faces. I only had to drill all the holes twice because I changed my mind about how to hang them – thank goodness for Photoshop, which is quicker than Polyfilla for repairing the results. And, of course, no sooner had I put all the tools away, than I realised I’d forgotten to put up one upstairs…

I need to be outside today to beat off the fug that’s constantly in my head at the moment. So, it’s lawn-mowing and strimming for me, once the dew’s dried off the grass. Hours later, cut grass blown everywhere, the lawn is trimmed (three cuts as it was so long neglected) but the banks don’t look quite right anymore, like the boy you fancied at school, after he’d had a haircut.

lawnmower

grass cuttings

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I’m cutting the mounts for the bird prints that arrived from Italy while I was at a conference last week. I’m a bit ashamed of myself, as I used to make frames from scratch, but nowadays I just buy ready-made frames from IKEA and cut custom mounts for the pictures.

mount cutting materials

I want these pictures to be a modern take on a traditional idea. I just feel a bit bad for the book from which they’ve been cut by the seller…

bad pic of bird pic

But despite my shortcuts I do take the trouble to tape up the back of the frames properly as it stops dirt and moisture getting in and protects the pictures. It takes time but time spent doing something well, is time well spent.

taping up the back of frame

And it was nice to get out my framing bag again and do something creative.

framing bag contents

I’ll post a picture once they’re in situ, which won’t be blurry or by iPhone as this post has been. I’m still pretty impressed that my phone can do ALL of this though.

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I’m very excited because I have found some prints – mostly modern, 1950s-inspired – to put on the huge empty wall at the cottage. Been buying a lot online from various sellers here and in the States. Looking forward to framing them and putting them up, wall permitting. So once I’ve got my new cabinet and these, the living room will be complete, although I know I will always find more things I love.

It’s not acquisition that matters, it’s creating a lovely atmosphere and having beautiful and interesting things to look at. It feeds the soul.

Postscript: I have just bought four more antique bird prints on eBay – an odd choice perhaps because this is not quite my style but they are destined for the bathroom because of the link to water. My favourite is of an albatross – because of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, written by Samuel Taylor Coleridge in nearby Nether Stowey. I love that it is a ‘wandering’ albatross, which makes me smile.

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I’m such a busy Lizzie that I forget that I’ve only had Spring Cottage for just over two weeks. I’m already impatient with progress on the house, although I’ve got quite a lot done. I’ve now found a painter and he’s due to start in 10 days or so – I hope. He has the keys, so let’s hope he gets going when he said he would. He thinks it will only take a week. At that point, I expect it will feel really different. It should be cleaner and lighter and feel more mine, than it does now, when I can still see where all Lady-Vendor’s furniture and pictures were.

I still can’t take the table down as I’m finding it difficult to get the replacement table for the kitchen in London. Also I will need help with sofa transportation and will have to wait for the Boy to come back from university to help.

I’m just looking forward to begin able to spend a weekend doing something other than clean and organise. Whilst that is fun, I am looking forward to being able to invite people to stay and show them its loveliness.

Beds – I forgot – they are coming in 10 days. I have to find a kind friend to help me put them together and then at least one will be able to sleep properly. So, its beds, table, sofas in that order and then the rudiments of comfortable living will be there. Not much else is necessary really and stuff will accumulate.

Oh yes, and I’m also expecting a peg rail and a slate house sign soon. I got a quote for the new radiator in my room today. Approximately twice what I’d budgeted for. I’ve no idea whether it’s a good price or not, but at least I was right about the existing rad being too small for the room. Since it’s my bedroom, it would be stupid to let it be too cold. Not that I want to sleep in the very warm or spend vast amounts of time in my bedroom but if I found the room cold in May, what will it feel like in December. I just can’t help feel anxious at the amount of cash that seems to go out of the door every day at the moment. But of course this will slow down as things get done.

What fun it must have been for all those MPs to charge stuff like this to the good old taxpayer and feel that they had the right to do so. A rotten system. I don’t blame them individually for doing it, but I do admire those, like Hilary Benn, who avoided doing so. There are so few with real integrity, sadly.  But I think most people’s invoices would look pretty foolish placed under close scrutiny – showing up all our petty vanities, so I think it’s very hard to judge all this out of context. They do need to think of something better though. This system is like something out of the nineteenth century. Oh wait, that’s exactly what it is…

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