Saturday, 29 March 2014

Froggy went a-courting...

I visited a friend's house the other week, and she took me for a tour around her garden. I was warned as I stepped out of the back door to mind where I was walking...and it immediately became obvious when I looked down. There were frogs everywhere! Her garden is a wildlife haven, filled with bird boxes, water dishes, feeding stations, and she also has a couple of ponds - one is for frogs, and the other for fish (although frogs can go into the fish pond, of course, but the frog spawn will get eaten) and at this time of year the frogs are absolutely rampant.

How many frogs can you spot? She has counted 50 in this pond at one point!
Those of a delicate disposition should look away now, as these frogs are just shameless!

'Freeze!' Well, no, they were just trying to get up the steps - they got there eventually...

Growing, growing...

Spring has sprung, quite definitely... the celeriac has finally been harvested and the raised bed cleared ready for new planting; the garden (and the lane beyond) is filled with flowers and buds; and the sparrows are chasing each other like the Red Arrows on their day off, swooping down, zipping off, and the whole thing accompanied by their incessant chirping. All the other birds are singing their songs too, 'I'm here! Over here! Come and find me!' as they search for a mate. The noise and movement is quite crazy at times. I've only seen one lone little frog hiding in the pond, too shy to go a-courting. At least the plants just get on with it quietly - a bit of creaking, I'd imagine, as they push through the ground, a teeny, tiny, squeak, as their buds finally *pop*, a delighted sigh as the sun comes out and they turn their flowery faces towards it... Much more discreet.

Enough 'may' or hawthorn to allow for 'borrowing' some...
Rip Van Winkle daffodil
In the lane, white violets...
...and violet violets.
Forget-me-not. As if...

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Cool Colchester...

A quick trip to Colchester the other week to search for a birthday present for Mr Drookit. It was a lovely warm day, and the architecture was looking its best in the sunshine - unfortunately the castle is closed for a major refurbishment, but was looking pretty handsome against the blue sky. Friends of friends used to live in the house where Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star was composed - they got slightly tired of having folk trying to peer in the windows! I tried to be a bit discreet taking my pictures!

Colchester castle
Home of Jane Taylor who wrote Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.
Stopped in at the rather groovy and hip Emmaus Emporium and Emmaus Home (the charity for the homeless) - two shops, filled with 'retro, cool junk, antique and weird' stuff! Charity shopping in style!

I spotted a whole load of women, all dressed in red and purple, and had to find out their story - they are the Phoenix Fillies, part of The Red Hat Society, inspired by the Jenny Joseph poem, 'Warning' - which is worth a read. It is a world-wide society of women who go out to celebrate fun and friendship, dressed in purple, and wearing red hats. They were really charming, and delighted to pose for me. Aren't they lovely? I do think they have misread the poem, as all of their hats suited them very well indeed!

"When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me."
from Warning by Jenny Joseph.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Homeward Bound....

Via Ashbourne, for tea and cake in the St John Street Gallery - some lovely bits and pieces, including paintings and prints by names such as Barbara Rae, and Donald Hamilton Fraser. Of course, we also oohed over a couple of lovely quilts draped over the mezzanine level - we are crafty types, after all. A bit of a grey day, as if to remind us that our holiday was coming to an end.

A pretty little building on the main street.
To Helen's house, which is always a joy for us too infrequent visitors. Mr H had provided several different pizzas with exotic toppings - my new favourite being pear and St Augur cheese, which was just delicious... Haven't made it myself yet, but I will! The best thing about going to their house is doing the wander round... What's changed? Where's the new artwork? How are the chickens?! So, lots of sighs of delight and enthusiasm from me and Karen...!

One of Helen's beautiful artworks on the wall...
Amongst so many other lovely things, a new print on the stairs, some zany sculptures by the boys, and a chance for me to see Karen's gorgeous lap quilt, made for two special 'H' birthdays last year...

One of Helen's beautiful vases, and a gorgeous print by Helen Rhodes.
Cat, crochet, cake and yet more chat - just in case we hadn't managed enough whilst we were away.

And, next morning, before we left, a last look around at all the lovely things, little still life groupings, assemblages, and the chickens. Until next time...! xxx

One of Mr H's fun pics.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Bakewell Tarts...

Time to catch up with our second full day in Derbyshire, which dawned frosty and cold - but with a beautiful view from the house. But, oh, what an embarrassment to find out that we had missed the Aurora Borealis the previous evening, as we knitted, and nattered, and drank wine. Ah, well. It's something I've always wanted to see, but I'm sure I will. One day!

A wander round Wirksworth, first thing in the morning, and a visit to the Farmers' Market - so characterful and full of characters!

Nice hat!
Then off to Bakewell, famous for its tarts. Over the bridge, and into town, passing the now ubiquitous padlocks - or is that a little cynical of me? It's a bit like those pictures of teddy bears or garden gnomes, taken in front of the Eiffel Tower, or Grand Canyon - just too many of them now!

Cakes, tarts, meringues, bread, cheese, and all sorts of other good stuff to eat, in delightful and individual shops. A quirky little dog, carried by a glamorous and indulgent owner, and a lovely flower shop tucked down an alleyway caught my attention.

Time to head home, and I was captivated by this hilltop and its trees as we sped past in the car.

A quick stop at a fabric and sewing shop; based in an old church with fabrics displayed on the old pews, it was one of those places where I could easily spend a small fortune, so enticing were the colours and patterns. But... I'm sensible these days. No, that's a good thing. Really.

I took a quick walk when we got 'home', up onto the path behind where we were staying, and discovered a lovely view of the town stretched out below.

A bit of knitting, a bit of knattering (yes, correct, if the nattering is mainly about knitting), a fab dinner made by Helen (cake by Karen!) and then off to the Northern Light Cinema to see Enough Said, a lovely, funny, and thought-provoking film starring James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, which I'd heartily recommend - we all stumbled out afterwards wiping tears away! The cinema itself is really charming - each seat is covered in mis-matched fabrics, and with armchairs and couches in the back rows, with tables to put your wine glass on, it makes for a very glamorous and civilized evening out. I'd imagine being a regular there if I lived in Wirksworth - no wonder booking is essential!