Saturday, August 29, 2020

Garden Notes

We have a little graveled raised bed thing in our garden. I'm not sure why it is there or what it was used for. At some point, we plan on getting rid of it but for now, we are using it as a bit of a staging area and have filled it with pots of autumn flowering plants.


Can you see a little someone in our hedgehog home? Yip, we found this little fell sleeping under the woodpile. I'm so glad that we have hedgehogs in our garden, in all the time we were living on the farm I didn't see one hedgehog. In fact, I was really surprised at how little wildlife there was on the farm, although to be fair, we did see a few hares which you don't get in suburban areas.


We have seen this little fellow a few times now since we caught him napping. I must keep an eye on him and perhaps weigh him to see if he will survive the winter. He is rather small you see and hedgehogs need to be at least 600 grams before hibernation. In the meantime, we are putting down cat pellets to aid his weight gain. 


 Last night we saw him nose-to-nose with our little black and white cat. They were sussing each other out in a friendly manner. My husband put some cat food out for the hedgehog and cat and hedgehog happily shared it. Isn't it amazing how animals can co-exist together?


DH and I paid a visit to the garden center today and stocked up on a couple of pots of mums - because you know my home is never without them in the autumn and spring bulbs!

One thing I noticed about our garden when we moved in at the end of March is that there was not a single spring bulb! So today we bought a 7kg bag of daffodils, 25 bulbs of snowdrops which flower in January/February, and a couple of bags of tulips which I will plant in pots.

I bought a couple of bags of compost too as we have two beds where the soil needs a bit of reconditioning before we start planting. One of these beds I've earmarked to fill with hellebores. I just love the hybrid variations that you can get and as soon as I see them back in the garden center I will definitely be buying a good few. They bring a lovely splash of winter colour.

Now, Autumn is a hop, skip, and a jump away. I have lots of posts planned but they will predominantly be posted on my new bloggy home - Under An English Sky - so please make sure that you have either bookmarked my new web address or subscribed to it by signing up for my monthly newsletter. You can sign up on my new blog. Septembers newsletter will be going out on the 1st so make sure you sign up before then so that you can get your copy delivered into your email box.

Bloglovin followers, please do the same. I seem to have gained quite a few new friends on Bloglovin lately. I have now added my new blog to Bloglovin so it that is your preferred way of subscribing then please do so there. The URL is www.underanenglishsky.co.uk - I have added a link below to make things easier for you to do so. 

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Anyhoo lovelies, have a lovely weekend - we've already lit our first fire of the season believe it or not. Somehow it seems quite wrong to be doing so in August...but only 3 more sleeps and we slip into autumn which makes lighting fires quite acceptable 😂

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Weekending

 Hello, my lovely friends. Can you believe that August is marching along and that we are but a hop, skip, and a jump away from Autumn? Oh I know we still have a good few weeks of lovely summer weather but my thoughts are already turning towards autumn because September and October are bulb planting months and preparing the spring garden. This is the thing with gardening, you always have to think ahead!
This past weekend we had some stunning weather and we spend time enjoying it in the garden. On Saturday we enjoyed a lovely lunch under the gazebo. The soft breeze brushed over our warm skins and we soaked in the peace of birds singing, bees buzzing and butterflies softly fluttering from flower to flower.

We spoke about our gardening plans over the next few weeks which was all about getting ready to plant our spring bulbs. New beds need to be dug and soil in one raised bed needs to be reconditioned with a healthy dose of compost. We also sadly said that in the next month or so we would need to think about dismantling the gazebo and packing it away before the autumn storms begin rolling in.
I'm expecting the autumn garden to be a very busy time - we are surrounded by deciduous trees and all those leaves are going to keep us occupied every weekend once they start falling. The garden brings us much joy. We are not fantastic gardeners by any stretch of the imagination but we do like to potter and perhaps we learn a thing or two as we go along. 
My sweetpeas are producing teeny tiny bouquets at a time. I don't think I will grow them in pots again, I must be doing something wrong but they are not flowering as prolifically as I would like. I don't know if it is my potted plant skills which are not great or the fact that the seeds were who-knows-how-old. Next year's garden will be much better as I now have time to plan and plant of course!


After lunch, DH mowed the lawn and I pottered about dead-heading the flowering plants. The foxgloves have now finished and set seed although there are a few late-season small spikes which I left. I cut all the seed heads off and gave them a good shake over the bed then watered. This is going to be my foxglove bed for years to come so the more plants that self-seed the better. They have quite a long flowering season, the bees love them and I find them utterly delightful.

Once I had washed up after gardening I decided that a cinnamon pear cake would be wonderful with a cup of tea. I discovered this recipe a few weeks ago when I needed something quick and easy to bake to serve to a friend who was coming over for tea. It is such an easy cake to throw together, it doesn't look like much but it is utterly delicious in its simplicity. The original recipe calls for tinned apples but I only had pears so that's what I used on both occasions.

The recipe will be in my next newsletter which will be going out this week. If you want to sign up for it you can visit my dedicated craft and home blog HERE


Oooo, I nearly forgot to share this sweet little picture of a small hedgehog we found whilst gardening having a nap in the woodpile hedgehog hotel. We were thrilled to find him here. We have spotted signs that we have hedgehog activity going on in the garden, and seen one run across the lawn once but to have one taking a nap in our garden...it's so very exciting!!! Foxes and hedgehogs are my favourite British mammals 😍.

Right, I'll love and leave you now and hope to see you all back here very soon.

Saturday, August 08, 2020

Weekend Adventures :: Speke Hall Liverpool

 Hello, my lovelies! How lovely to be back here talking to you. Since starting back at work my time is stretched and no longer all my own. I'd love to spend more time blogging, creating, and dyeing yarn but life is always a bit of a mix isn't it?
I wanted to take you along to a National Trust property we visited recently. We haven't been exploring nearly as much as we would have liked for obvious reasons and National Trust is only offering timed and limited tickets to their properties which you have to book online. They release their tickets each Friday and each Friday comes and goes and I forget, remembering a little too late when all the tickets have been snapped up.
Amazingly, I managed to get myself together one Friday and booked tickets for us to visit Speke Hall in Liverpool. Thankfully the ended up being beautiful, you always risk drippy weather here in England, its the nature of living on an island.
We decided to take a picnic along with us which I'm so very happy that we did. It was simply marvelous! The first picnic of the summer - hopefully, we can squeeze in another before the autumn arrives!
Speke Hall is a wood-framed, wattle-and-daub Tudor manor house. It really is very impressive and very wonky! The house was not open due to covid so we enjoyed walking through the gardens and viewing the house from the outside.

This is what I love about England, would you just look at that picture, the atmospheric summer sky, the greenery, a building hundreds of years old that has presided over countless lives of people we will never know. Witnessing the passing of time and private moments of ordinary lives. It's all quite amazing and I feel incredibly blessed to be living in a land with so much history. I'll never ever tire of it and I will never lose the appreciation I have to live here.

Walking around the house in the peaceful gardens, I imagined what it must have been like to live in this house as a little girl. I'd imagine that Alice in Wonderland would have had similar lovely gardens to play in and it would be a garden like this that she would spy the white rabbit and follow him down the rabbit hole.

Yes, my imagination has been molded by great British authors for when I read these books this was exactly what was conjured in my very fertile imagination!

Along the outer edges of the garden surrounding the lawn in front of the house were these magnificent hydrangeas. A tumbling wall of them. Right then and there I decided that this is what I want in my own garden. I love hydrangeas and have three much smaller shrubs. Three is simply not enough! 

They are quite an old fashioned flower, aren't they? I remember them being prolific in my grandmother's garden and I think that is perhaps why I'm always drawn to them and roses. They are a link to my family, my past. If you haven't noticed by now I'm quite a traditional 'old soul'. I'm absolutely convinced I was born in the wrong era 😂. I love everything old, slow and simple and would be quite happy checking out of the modern world and exchanging it for a Georgian, Victorian, or at a push, Edwardian existence.

So, in a bid to build my hydrangea collection I have taken slips of my current three bushes and am propagating 6 more. I fully intend to take a walk around my neighbourhood and ask for slips from my neighbours as there are quite a few varieties that I wouldn't mind adding to my garden.

Propagating Hydrangeas

Anyhoo, I have meandered off track, back to Speke Hall...after having wandered around the gardens we settled down on the lawn in front of the house and enjoyed a wonderful picnic that would have satisfied the Famous Five on one of their adventures or perhaps the Secret Seven who always seemed to have the most delicious spread at their secret meetings.

Iced tea, scotch eggs, cold grapes, pork pies, and chicken and salad wraps were enjoyed by all. We sat chatting about this and that and resolved to try and get in a few more picnic days in National Trust gardens before the end of summer.

I feel very blessed that our adult daughters still love 'exploring days' with us and that they want us to keep these times together. I love that they still love visiting these properties and don't find them old and boring. I love that a simple picnic can still bring so much joy. The best things in life are absolutely free!

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Exploring Again

I said I'd be back here with chatty general posts and here I am 😊. For the first time in months we have been out exploring again and boy...does it feel fabulous!

Sunday was so lovely and sunny, a stark contrast to the new week so far! We decided to get out of the house on Sunday and go to the beach for a walk. We are within 30 minutes of numerous beaches and the drive to get there is as beautiful as the destination. 


When we arrived at Thurstaston Beach the tide was way out and you could see for miles. I feel so blessed that we have this right on our doorstep and I am sure that we will be visiting this place a lot more now that things are opening up again.


Now doesn't this picture make your eyes swim! The boat in the background looks like it is floating and don't you love how the man is right at the top of the mast doing whatever repairs it is you do up there.


As you walk onto the beach there are signs that say you are not to go out onto the mud-flats...clearly, someone didn't read the sign. It must have been quite heartbreaking to have to call a cab to take you home! On that note actually, there was a long jetty type thing that stretched out across the seabed. I gather it's for launching boats, some cars were out there which I'm assuming belong to the man up the mast and others in the near vicinity. My darling husband stepped off to grab a shell my daughter wanted and before he knew it he was knee-deep in thick, sticky, smelly mud! It took a bit of effort to get unstuck! And that's why you take note of the signs!


It was so lovely to see how much wildlife there was. crabs galore, shrimps, and tiny fish.


The sunshine was so warm, hardly a breath of wind, we felt like we were on holiday. I could feel the cares of the week just slip away. 


We came across a stranded jellyfish. We picked it up and popped it into a pool of water but it seemed we were too late. The poor thing had already expired. The shrimps and small fish almost instantly began feeding on it. The circle of life I suppose.



We were blessed to watch this kestrel hover above the grassed dunes looking for something to snack. They are just so beautiful!


The landscape of beach, rock, sand dune and cloud scattered sky...stunning! I find nature just so therapeutic and marvel at the wonder of God's creation.


And look at what is on the very edge of the beach... a whitewashed house. My dear friend was just telling me about this house and how she would love it. She grew up on the Wirral and I think it wouldn't take much to entice her from her Manchester home to here. Who wouldn't want to live right on the estuary far from the maddening crowd!


The colours of the beach, ocean, and boats are quite inspirational. This boat reminded me of a photograph I have of my youngest when she was about 3. She was sitting at the base of a small lighthouse in Kalk Bay Cape Town. It was the traditionally painted red and white and she was wearing a blue and red striped jumper - I don't know why this image brought that to mind but I'm inspired to stitch something beachy. I'll get my eldest to work on an illustration that we can turn into an embroidery project I think.


The beach just holds so much inspiration. Let me tell you if I could have popped this sea-weathered log into my car I would have taken it home. I love how bleached it is.  


As we left the beach and made out way back up to the car butterflies flittered by. This peacock landed picture perfectly on a weathered boulder with a gorgeous bit of bright green moss...I feel a new yarn colourway beginning to brew 😄. Inspiration is everywhere. It seems to have brought back a little inspiration for my eldest illustrator daughter too. She has been struggling with 'illustrator block', is there such a thing? Well, there's writer's block so why not a creative block for artists?

We had a lovely chat about how she sees her illustration style developing and what sort of job she hopes to do once she has finished her degree. Like me, she wants to work for herself so we chatted about what to do and how to implement it. Behind us youngest daughter and dad were chatting about uni and future plans - this I only found out later at home. It struck me how important it is for us to do things together that relax us all enough to be able to have these conversations. It reminded me so much of our homeschooling days.

Once home we pottered about in the garden and then our vicar and his family popped by for a visit which was just lovely. He had good news...our church is opening up again from this Sunday! Of course, there will be no singing and no communion but how lovely to just be with our church family again, to walk into our lovely stone church and hear God's Word.

Have a blessed week everyone...

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

Building a Creative Dream Under An English Sky

Hello my lovelies! How lovely to see you here again. I am sorry that I haven't been here in a while but I've been busy with some exciting things. Let's just say lots of dyeing yarn and working on building a creative dream. 

You see about two weeks ago I suddenly 'got it'. After three months of reconnecting with myself by having space to think about work, life, creating, and writing, I remembered something that was planted in my heart many years ago when my first daughter was born. I happened upon a beautiful stitchery shop that was independently owned and run out of the lovely lady's own home. It was idyllic to me and I wished so much that I too could have such a lovely little creative business of my own. 

I want to have a place where creative ladies could gather together over a cup of coffee or tea whilst they learn a new skill in a class or workshop. A little peruse of the 'general store' adds to the experience and everyone returns to their homes refreshed and inspired. This is what I'm working towards!




Sadly I also got the dreaded call to return to work around the same time so it has left me less time to work on my yarn, blog, and business plan. I'm getting up early to dye yarn before I start work at 9am and pulling plans together during tea and lunch breaks. Fortunately, I am still working from home so the journey to the office is in my slippers up the stairs with a cup of coffee in hand!




I've created a dedicated website and I'll be posting quite a lot there. I'm still known as Under An English Sky because...well that's who I am. But my posts will be focused on crafting and creating a hygge homespun life and home. 

General chit-chat and faith posts will be reserved for here and may be less frequent. So if you still would like to get regular post updates of a similar but more focused nature then please do visit Under An English Sky's new website and sign up. You will receive post updates and a monthly newsletter if you do.

Hop on over to read a much longer and more explanatory post before you decide. 



Just to let you know that Episode 2 of the podcast has been up for a few days - this is here to stay so please do subscribe if you would like to receive notifications of new episodes. Don't forget to join my Facebook Page for regular updates and short videos. Details of the giveaway mentioned in episode 2 of my podcast will be posted on the Facebook page in the next few days. 

Blessings to you all...