Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Hope of Things to Come

Two weeks from today and we will be moving into our new home. I can't wait! I keep reminding everyone that next week is the last full week of living in the hotel and to just hang in there. Fortunately, we are getting out most days and seeing friends we haven't seen in a long time which has been just lovely. Today, however, every.single.one. of us woke up with a sore, scratchy throat - the promise of a head cold to come. DD2 has a double whammy as she was diagnosed with a painful cyst yesterday so is on a course of antibiotics. Needless to say, that today is not one of those days where my positivity coaching is being taken very well 😁

I thought that today I would drop in and show you some pictures of our new home. There is a LOT of work that I have ahead of me in the garden. It is a skeleton really but it has a lovely green lawn and ample of space to put in a small fruit orchard, a lovely kitchen garden and plenty of space for an English Cottage garden...my favourite. 

All our friends and family who have seen these pictures remark on how similar this house is to the beloved home we had in Chesterfield. We were so, SO happy there. The moment I saw this house I fell in love with it and I think that it is because of the similarities. We are set to move in on Tuesday the 2nd of October. On the first following Saturday, I intend on finding my nearest garden centre and buying my annual autumn pots of chrysanthemums. 

Would you look at that front entrance above... below was the front entrance to my Chesterfield home...

You can see the full posts on my autumn decor for 2014 HERE and HERE. I still have that chalkboard and plan on doing something very similar this year. I have to say that I am itching to get decorating. This is my favourite time of the year and I have these deep ingrained seasonal rituals that I absolutely delight in so being unable to decorate or bake or pootle about my home while I see the signs of autumn all around me is so hard! Still...the equinox is not until later on this week so autumn has not officially arrived, makes me feel a little better thinking that anyway.

Above you will see a HUGE back patio, honestly, I can see this being a little oasis with our garden furniture and then lots of beautiful terracotta posts full of pretty flowering things. I'd quite like to put one of those large fire bowls out here for atmospheric evening entertaining. That field that you see has horses living in it. That room to the right is the living room. It has a sliding door onto the patio as you can see and a big picture window overlooking the horse field so plenty of light which is what I love during winter months. A conservatory would have been perfect but there is always a compromise to be made. Nothing is perfect.

Now above is the front garden. As I mentioned it has a really lovely lawn and what you cannot see to the right is the perfect spot for my small orchard. We have sweeping country views out this side and that shed you see on the left is a cowshed. When we viewed the property there were baby cows living there that had been weaned from their mothers. They are too cute and ever so curious as to who we were and what we were doing.

Being in the middle of farmland the road that lies just on the other side of the hedge often has tractors buzzing about which I love. I like being surrounded by farm life. Our home in Devon was the same and I loved to just stop and watch the farmer buzzing about his fields ploughing or making hay. My kitchen window has this view too, a lovely big picture window and a double kitchen sink so washing dishes is going to be a pleasure. I like a kitchen sink with a view, don't you?

As we get to know our landlord I'm hoping that he will be amenable to us adding a few chickens to our family in the spring. We used to have a small flock of chickens when we lived in South Africa. The girls absolutely loved them and would love to have some more. Ahhh, the plans and dreams! Isn't that one of the things that makes life so exciting? A simple life well lived and seasoned with love and kindness is what we all need.

So lovelies, I will love and leave you until next time. I hope that you are having a lovely week and I'll see you back here very soon.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Natures Healing Effect

After breakfast this morning before lessons I went for a walk along the quay. I was feeling a little out of sorts and perhaps a little stifled at living in a hotel. I may even have been a little grumpy 😄so there was no doubt that I needed to just get out and let the cool fresh air work its magic.

Getting out when we get a little grumpy is always a sure way to get rid of the cobwebs. I've blogged about it before and it still holds true in our family. 

Today I was the one who needed the therapeutic fresh air. Living in a hotel might sound like a dream but it's heavy going. We are basically living where my husband works so you need to watch little things all the time as you are pretty much under a microscope. The staff watch you, fuss a little too much, they see your living quarters, I'm always making sure that our rooms are neat, tidy and orderly before housekeeping pops by. We are all already sick of hotel food and craving home-cooked meals. When your discussions turn to what the meal plan will be once we move into our home you know that 'eating out' has lost its appeal big time! I don't think we will be rushing to eat out for a 'treat' any time soon after we are in our new home.

So as the girls went upstairs to get ready to meet a friend in the city, I pulled on my trainers, grabbed my camera, and set off for some much-needed space. The air has been crisp today which is marvellously refreshing. It has felt truly autumnal all day and I delighted in each berry, turning leaf and bird that I encountered on my walk.

Walking along beside the water I spotted this swan. I stood for quite some time watching it gently glide gracefully along. As I watched it, I found my mind settling down and peace once again returning. 

I stopped focusing on the irritants that faced me today and started to focus first on the wonders of Gods creation evident in the middle of a busy city which then led me to ponder on Gods immense goodness and His amazing provision in every area and in each season of our lives.

How blessed we are to be back in the north. I am a different person here, a happier person. I'm more me if that makes sense. A shadow that has cloaked me for three years seems to have lifted and I am marvelling once again at the small things. I am inspired to create. Each day I remember something that's packed away in a box sitting in storage and think, "When we move into our new home I really want to...finish that quilt/spend a day filling my freezer with home cooked meals/dying up yarn/knitting a new cuddly blanket"...and so on. A million ideas and projects running through my mind that add comfort and warmth to a home.

Our new garden is skeletal compared to the ones we had in Devon and I find that inspiring because I have ideas scrambling over themselves in my head for that. Spring bulbs, a small orchard, a kitchen garden, chickens perhaps. My husband is dreaming too, he can't wait to build a lovely fish pond and has the perfect place all picked out.

Although I have admired and appreciated the established gardens in our Devon homes, I haven't had a connection with them for they were someone else's. 

I returned to the hotel with a spring in my step, hope in my heart and joy in my soul. Even in the middle of a busy city, God used nature, His creation, to work its magic. How easy it can be to walk through your day and miss the blessings that God has in store for you if you would only take a moment to pause and notice.

As I finish typing up the post I've just had a call from the estate agents to say that our application for our new home has been approved and we can now start planning our move in date! Thrills!!! I will be back to share how God has provided -yet again - a home that is just perfect for our family. Until then, have a blessed day and look for those small things that God wants to use to bless you.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A Little City Living

We have been in Manchester for a little over a week now so I thought it might be a good time to pop in and give you an update.

View from the end of the Quay where our hotel is situated.
We are currently living in the hotel that my husband is GM of. We get to stay here for a month while we look for a new home...which we think we have found! It's a lovely home just out of Chester (CHESTER! Just one of the most beautiful places to visit!). It's out in the country, as is our preference. It's actually on a farm which is about as close as we are ever going to get to live out our farm dreams LOL. 

We are currently in the application process so it should all be confirmed by the end of the week. We hope to move in during the last week of September.

View from my hotel room. 
In the meantime, we are enjoying our city adventure. My husband's hotel is situated on one of Manchester's many quays and surprisingly, there is a lot of wildlife around. Swans, ducks, Canada Geese, cormorants etc. We really have been enjoying watching the cormorants dive for (and catch) fish and the geese noisily fly in noisily each evening.

Walking along the Quay after dinner.
Even in the city, I can see signs of autumn all around. The trees are all beginning to put on their autumn splendour and the urge to decorate my home to reflect the seasons' glory is strong...except I can't. Still, October is the month where autumn is at it's best so I am consoling myself that I still have plenty of time to pootle about in this regard. I've bought a pumpkin spice candle already which is sitting in my hotel room right now. I can't burn it for fear of setting off the smoke alarms so instead, I open the top and have a sniff every so often 😄.

We are currently 'hotel schooling' rather than homeschooling. Once the restaurant has emptied out after breakfast we find a comfortable spot and begin the days' lessons. My eldest joins us to work on her illustrations or goes into the city to visit a gallery or museum. Tomorrow she is meeting up with a friend while we get on with lessons. I think she is feeling a little at a loss at what to do. We knew that living in the hotel was going to be a little heavy going so we are all trying to make the best of it.

Victoria-Leigh's bee illustration she was working on.
Manchester as a city is beautiful. The buildings! So much history and the most beautiful architecture. Just look at these walkways linking the Town Hall to the extension. It looks like it should be at Hogwarts. The Town Hall itself is just gorgeous. This is usually where the Christmas Market is held which is quite magical to visit, a must-do if you are in the city over the festive season. This year they have an ice village coming to the market - I can't wait to visit!

Since we last lived here, Manchester has undergone such regeneration! It's much nicer than it used to be. Very metropolitan and exciting. It has a very similar vibe to London actually. After having lived in a city that was pretty much bombed to pieces in the 2nd world war and lost just about all of its historical buildings, it is lovely to be back in a city that has hundreds of years of architecture everywhere you look.

I will be sure to share more of our city adventures with you over the next few weeks. Now that the house-hunting stress is over I can focus on taking advantage of the art and culture that this city has to offer. I look forward to seeing you back here soon.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

An Inspired Life

With only a week to go before we head up north, my girls and I decided to pay one last visit to my own personal favourite NT property...Greenway House, the once much-loved home of my most favourite author, Agatha Christie.

Oh to live in such a lovely property! The very setting inspires one to write. Did you know that her book Dead Mans Folly was inspired by and set in Greenway? In fact, it was just a few weeks ago that I was watching Dead Man's Folly with David Suchet, and caught a glimpse of the house in the background. I hadn't known that they had filmed part of that episode at Greenway - how lovely!

Just a quick pic of my favourite exploring partners, they sure are growing up quickly!

As per usual, my favourite parts of any NT that I visit...the kitchens and gardens. In the kitchen, there are rows of wonderful vintage cookbooks. I took this photograph as a reminder to seek out one or two of the titles that caught my eye and because the sight of a full bookshelf brings joy to this homeschooling mums heart. I really do love books 😍

These pots! Oh my goodness, what it is about terracotta pots I just don't know. I desperately want my own little pile of pots stacked neatly against a garden wall, waiting to be put to use in the spring or perhaps a made into a cosy home by a friendly garden robin for the winter. 

Gardener Carol Klein made a wonderful gardening program of her garden through the seasons and she had loads of terracotta pots filled with tulips. I determined then and then that I would do the same. I should still have time after we move into our new home in October (can you believe that we will be staying in my husband's hotel for a whole month while we look for a home? Ugh). They have to be terracotta pots though, no yucky plastic.

Now...take a look at the walled garden and the greenhouses. Be still my beating heart! The picture above looks like Peter Rabbit could just hop right out at any moment. Picture perfect! If I had a garden like this I think I would spend most of my time out here pottering about, or perhaps I would set up a writing desk and on warm summer days, I would write in the walled garden surrounded by the greenhouses and pots of new plants. On rainy days I would move my writing desk into one of the greenhouses and watch the rain falling on the glass and running gently down the panes.

In the smaller of the two greenhouses, we encountered the sweetest little Siamese cat. She wasn't very old, not even a year I would guess. She was sprawled out in the flowerbed and rather enjoyed all the petting and strokes she was getting from us. We were rewarded with loud, appreciative purrs.

I was talking to my grandmother this week about books. My girls and I went to see Christopher Robin at the cinema on Monday (Go and see it! It's wonderful!), and I was reminded of how very much I love my childhood books. I will still use certain of them as part of seasonal displays after I've had a read through them again of course. I still enjoy my childhood classics and I still read them as an adult. I was telling my grandmother that I could quite easily live in a storybook. How wonderful it would be! 

After I had shared this with her she shared a memory with me. When I was very small she took me to see Mary Poppins when it had just come out. Apparently, I ran up the aisle towards the screen wanting to go an join them in that chalk painted world in the park.

So you see, it appears I have had a love for books and the worlds they offer from a very young age. I suddenly understood myself a little better 😊. Family gives us a sense of, and insight into, who we are and where we come from. They give us a sense of belonging. After that little conversation, don't feel like such a weirdo for loving my childhood books or for cherishing the adventures they offered me still to this day.

Anyhoo, the point of that rather long-winded story does have a connection to the photograph above because as I go through the days of my life I will often happen across a scene such as this arched door in the walled garden leading to another garden room that reminds me of a storybook world. This one for some reason reminds me so much of what I imagine Alice in Wonderlands garden to look like. Perhaps she ran down a path just like this one through a face-brick arched door in the wall just like this one and out into the rambling gardens before encountering the white rabbit and following it down into a magical world through the rabbit hole.

I copied a quote into my Commonplace Book this morning and I wanted to share it with you. The book is Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray, and this quote really struck me because it holds so much truth about what kind of life you choose to have. It is all about how you look at the world.

"The world is a looking-glass and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face. Frown at it, and it will, in turn, look sourly upon you; laugh at it and with it, and it is a jolly kind companion, and so let all young persons take their choice."

Blessing to you all today...

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Nature Notes

I'm enjoying these last late days of summer and our last (less than) two weeks in Devon. I can feel that undefinable shift that marks the end of summer and the transition into autumn is imminent. At any moment that shift will happen, it will be felt, sensed, and a new season shall be ushered in. So this week we have been resting in those last hazy lazy summer days that seem to be trying to hold on a little longer before surrendering to a new season.

This week I was reading Job 38 - and was struck by God's descriptive language, indeed... poetry, when drawing to Job's attention the mysteries of Himself.

A few of the poetic lines jumped out at me:

"...and who laid its cornerstone as the morning stars sang together and the angels shouted for joy?" v 6-7

Referring to the oceans, "I said, 'This far and no farther will you come. Here your proud waves must stop!'" v 11

"Can you direct the sequence of the seasons or guide the Bear with her cubs across the heavens?" v32

Aren't those lines just wonderful? The entire chapter gives the reader pause for thought. So it is with these verses of scripture in mind that I look forward to the Lord directing in the new season with a little more appreciation than usual.

I am finding such joy in what makes up the last days of summer. All around my home the farmer has been busy harvesting and baling. It is one of those simple joys that I treasure in my heart to see bright blue skies watching over freshly harvested fields of gold. As I drive down the country lanes I am so tempted to stop and just drink in the scenery. However, country lanes are not easy to just stop your car in. They are far too narrow. 

Fortunately, I can see the field above from my conservatory. On this particular day, I noticed someone walking the fields with a metal detector. I wonder what it was he was looking for? 

It was soothing to stand quietly watching his afternoons work from a distance. Perhaps it's these simple country scenes that I will pop into my nature journal in the next few weeks.

My neighbour has a Buddleia bush whose branches happily stray over my wall and for that, I am very grateful because this plant attracts butterflies of all kinds. In fact, the Buddleia's common name is the Butterfly Bush for this reason. The bumblebees quite like it too and it is a pleasure to take a few minutes out of each day to stand quietly watching the butterflies and bees gently move from flower to flower.

Now I know that snails are not on everyone's 'favourite creature' list, but I do find them fascinating to watch. Those little stalky eyes...so funny. I think this snail chose a lovely place to feast, don't you? 

This past week we seem to have had a misty start to most mornings, a bit early for autumn mists perhaps but I am reminded of the beauty of the season to come. When I take my early morning walk around the garden I am quite taken with the beauty of the spider's webs all strung with little water drops and looking like precious jewels. Such delicate beauty.

For the past 2 or 3 weeks, I have noticed that the blackberries are ripening and the brambles seem to have a bumper crop to offer us hedgerow gleaners. I think I am going to fit in a quick jam making session before the removal company comes in to pack us up next week. It is a tradition in my home to make my 'Hedgerow Apple Bramble' jam each season so it would be a shame not to do so this year. 

All these photographs represent little moments in my week that I have taken out to just quietly be and observe. Each moment has brought peace and calm into my day. By penning down this post I am able to relive those moments and as I type I am reminded that although we are about to hit a busy and unsettled few weeks, I can always step away for a few moments and connect with the slow, calm pace that nature sets. May you find those moments too.

Blessings to you all.