Posts Tagged ‘summer’

Nothing I could write at the moment would make much sense. There’s a lot going on in my head as I prepare for my last three days at work. I’ve been there for 27 years and it’s going to be quite a wrench. It is a good thing but still A Thing To Get Through.

So here are some soothing pictures, taken last weekend, when I got up at 5.30 on a beautiful morning and went straight out into the garden to look at the world with my camera in an effort to stop my stupid brain whirring on and on.

Sunrise over Bridgwater Bay

gate

Nigella buds

plane

camomile

gate2

It will be alright.

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blue sky with small white cloud

It’s been so very hot. Rising early before the heat of the day allows me a few hours’ activity but, even then, the effort dampens and frustrates my hair’s supposed straightness.

flower petals on garden table

The plants are exhausted and thirsty. Some buds simply dry before opening. Others flower but quickly lose their petals, dropping wherever, confetti-like

gravel and mauve flower petals

geranium petals in a pond

Yet others twine joyously around despite their yards of dry branches, as if to say: you can’t catch me…

clematis on a wall

The grass yellows. I leave it long to keep it damp and pathways are trodden into its margins by animals I never see.

Long grass in evening sunlight

When cars pass dust rises and coats the bins –dustbins – by the side of the road, just as its cousin, the mud, did a few months ago but now the ground is cracked and hard.

It is summer, at last.

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If you were anywhere near here, you’ll have dashed in and out of your house dodging the rain this summer.

You’ll have paid your gardener, whom you’ve been eagerly awaiting for two weeks to give you a hand with the tons of stuff you can’t keep up with out there, and watched her drive away with your lawn half mown and her kids soaked to the skin, only to find the sun out 20 minutes later.

That’s what we’ve been doing this summer. An absolute horror, so far.

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Looking forward

Looking forward

I’m looking forward to soon being somewhere else.

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I’d like to post something positive about this summer but the weather still shows no sign of improvement after weeks and weeks of rain.

I had very little inclination to make it down to Spring Cottage yesterday, given the wild weather forecast. But I worry when I know there could be problems I need to sort out. Plus, I need my fix of green, horse and a wider horizon.

The lane had flooded and I was reminded how precient it had been to check the Environment Agency’s flood risk map before I moved here. At almost the highest point around here, your ears pop with the change in altitude as you come up the lane to the cottage. Despite the extra effort required on walks and rides hereabouts, I’d rather not be down below in the little hamlet where most people round here live. It turned out that we’d had our own type of flood at the cottage though, with the ongoing saga of the leaking chimney.

Strong winds blowing from the south east meant that rain is still being driven in from somewhere. It’s even been getting in through the windows.

However, to look on the bright side, I have health and enough to eat, including these beautiful pale blue duck eggs that I bought at the farm near Nether Stowey (my Coleridge link – this is all much cleverer than it appears…) this morning. So I’m going put a bucket under the leaking chimney, light a fire to dry it out, curl up with my book and feel positive after all.

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Last rays

Sometimes the sun’s last rays of the day are the best of all.

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Working from home this week, I find I’m massively distracted by the sudden, fine weather. It’s mighty cool in the living room, as the walls of the cottage are 18 inches thick but upstairs it’s warmer under the roof.

There’s weeding to do and sawing up all the wood that I’ve been collecting over the winter for kindling. The garage is full of it. My saw is blunt, or may be I just can’t saw, either way – I’ve been making heavy weather of it.

In the house, I find there are other distractions like my new bag (bought in February at Palmgrens in Stockholm but not yet used), which I have to play with until I know it well enough to ignore it; endlessly repositioning things within it for optimum ease of use. Ridiculous. I’ll get the hang of it soon enough. But I’m delighted that it’s finally warm enough to use something that says ‘summer’ quite clearly. Let’s hope the weather can hear.

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I have been missing a fellow blogger’s posts. Mike, over at Hazel Tree, has not been posting for a while and, from the comments on his last post, I’m clearly not the only person to have noticed this.

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This made me wonder whether my posts would be missed and about whether posting anything is better than having a hiatus. In case it is, here is an abandoned railway line in Canada, which is where I have been at a family wedding. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

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I just have some rather murky phone camera pictures but I bet you can guess where we went today. I never knew you could enter a village show in so many categories, even eggs!

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And I bought a Scrabble game the same vintage as the one we had when I was a child in the car boot sale. Perfect!

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Torekov from the water

Torekov is a little seaside town in the southern Swedish province of Skåne (roughly pronounced ‘skornay’) or Scania in English. It’s a place I feel very at home and of which I have happy holiday memories.

map of Bjärehalvon

If you’ve watched any of the various Wallander series on TV or read Henning Mankell‘s books, Skåne is the part of Sweden where the stories are set and filmed, although that takes place further south than Torekov, which is at the tip of a rocky promontary called Bjärehalvon. Quite different from the more mountainous north, Skåne is gently undulating, not to say flat in parts, inland, with both rocky and sandy beaches along the coast.

anchors

A former fishing village, with just  a vestige of its old industry left, Torekov is now a very upmarket place, full of rich Swedes based in Stockholm, who pretty much have the monopoly on all most expensive houses.

I’ve always been fortunate to stay with friends or rent locally, so I am happy to leave these tiny, picturesque 18th century fishermen’s cottages to those wealthy enough to afford £600k for a holiday home. But the fact that these places still exist and are beautifully maintained, make Torekov an extremely pretty and pleasant to visit.

Old houses in Sweden

On a similar latitude to Edinburgh, this part of Sweden has a slightly milder climate, protected from the cold North Sea by Denmark. It can be fiercely hot, and wet and windy in the same week. We had both during my short trip but even when it is bleakly windy and wet, it is atmospheric. Although, the protected waters come with a smelly cost, as, with so little tide there can, at times, be a rather pervasive smell of seaweed.

seaside view

Torekov is filled with bicycles like my heavy Pashley, which make me happy, as at home I feel like a freak surrounded by speedy Lycra clad chaps racing to their desks. Although in the years since my last visit there has been a marked decrease in the number of ex-army Kronan bikes, which I loved.

bikes

It is a place where you are likely to encounter people in bathrobes in the supermarket, en route to or from their daily dip in the chilly waters of the Kattegat – the stretch of water which runs between Sweden and Denmark –

morgons bryggen

or cycling back afterwards.

And further along the coast is the marvellous rocky scenery of Hovs Hallar, where we had a good walk and a picnic on the beach. We narrowly missed sitting near a rotting seal which had washed up on the rocks but did have the pleasure of watching a few cormorants drying their wings on the rocks in the water. They stood there like this for ages.

And, as I have to get something garden-related in – I saw many of my favourite geraniums, as Sweden is the home of Pelargonium Mårbacka, which I’ve written about before. I’m always in a frenzy of annoyance about the fact that you can’t get these in the UK, so if anyone knows of a source, please let me know. The closest I’ve found is a salmon pink variety with variegated leaves that has failed to grow properly this summer and has remained about 20 centimetres high.

pelargonium marbacka

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Garden in late evening light

It’s hard to be in the city when the weather’s so nice. I want, instead, to be lying on the grass, watching insects at close quarters scrabbling over blades of grass; hearing aeroplanes passing almost silently high, high overhead on their way to North America; and listening to the rather freaky, ‘munch, munch, scrunch blow’ sounds coming from behind the hedge over the lane, where a small herd of steers, accompanied by a random, greying and threadbare-tailed horse, are assiduously cropping the grass.

In my garden, all taming is temporary as it’s the time of year when the geraniums run riot and the profusion of alchemilla mollis decides to lay its blond curls on the grass before turning brown.

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In honour of what is happening down under, where the England Cricket Team is smashing the Australians to pieces to bring home The Ashes, here is a picture of cricket as it is played in small towns and villages all over the country. I took this in Wiveliscombe, in Somerset, about 20 miles or so from Spring Cottage, one slightly overcast summer’s day in 2009. There’s also something very soothing about listening to the cricket commentary on the radio, when you’re ill. And, at this bleak time of year, it reminds me what summer looks like, as well…

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January

Floodtime:  We had a pipe burst in the loft over the kitchen and I learned to leave the heating on and turn off the water at the mains when I leave.

lkj

February

Repairtime: So many things wrong with the house all of a sudden that it became rather depressing to be here but we got through it.


March

In which my neighbour brought me some eggs from the farm, Spring Cottage had lots of visitors and I was reimbursed for the flood by the insurance.


April

When Spring arrived at the cottage, as did a lorryload of logs, and the house was painted. We also celebrated our first year here.

;l

May

Started with a bang. On the day I collected my new car, I had a crash. Racing, double-barrelled cow driving the other car, who then lied about what happened. I’m still annoyed…

l

June

We settled into enjoying the cottage this month, with visitors and summer times in the garden. Nice that the pace slowed down a little.


July

During which nothing much happened and blogging really almost stopped, only to be followed by…

;l


flower
August

During which the blog went public. I had a holiday down here, and blogged like a woman possessed. I also journeyed to the beautiful Montacute House, south of here, and did lots of gardening.


riding clothesSeptember

Brought the discovery that what I thought was mainly an ornamental vine in the garden, actually had grapes on it. I also celebrated the first comment on the blog and went riding for the first time.

autumn leavesOctober

October arrived with the cheque from the insurers for the car accident in May. It took five months for them to settle the claim, because they are a pile of idiots. I started having riding lessons.

November

In which Spring Cottage had eight lads to stay and there was the first snow before Christmas for many years.


December

Was cold and frosty, with snow covering everything for the best part of a fortnight. It was frustrating not to be able to get to the cottage despite the Tank – although this was mostly cowardice rather than practicality.

Happy New Year! I hope 2011 brings all the things everyone wishes for, combined with good health and happiness.

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