2 Jun 2014

Simple pleasures

As mentioned in my previous post, my husband recently underwent a total hip replacement and whilst he’s done incredibly well with it and is now back at work and recovering well, we did have a period of 12 weeks or so when we were restricted to where we could get to on foot – with him on crutches – so not that far.  I could go out on a bus if I chose, but buses aren’t as much fun on your own and when only using them through necessity for essential chores.  

Please click on any of the photographs for a larger view.

The scene where we settle for supper and to just enjoy being there.  6 days previously there hadn’t been a single blossom on the hawthorns.

During that time, we were well aware that it was a temporary and necessary blip and it was a great comfort and motivation to us to have something to look forward to.  The time of the year helped enormously, having his surgery in February meant we were housebound in the least favourable season for weather and had the spring and summer ahead of us to enjoy once mobile again.  I feel sure it would have felt a little less palatable if he’d had surgery in late summer or autumn.

I take great inspiration from the foliage that grows in the verges, it always fascinates me, especially all the different species of grasses.

As I’ve blogged about many times, one of our favourite spots is Beacon Fell in Lancashire, England – we’ve been going there regularly for over 40 years, long before we even knew each other.  It’s a place that’s very busy during the day, but once the teashop closes and the loos are locked up for the night, you only tend to find it frequented by locals and dog walkers and local cycle clubs who use the challenging inclines of the roadways.   And this is our very favourite time.

I’ve mentioned many times how obsessed I am with sunlight through trees and perhaps early summer evening sun is the very prettiest – with pristine new greenery and golden light.  I wish I could bottle how this makes me feel and take a sip whenever my spirits flag.

We’ve got into the habit in recent years of dashing up there at the end of a working day, whenever the weather is suitable, armed with a picnic and some reading matter.  We can usually manage to get there in time for a decent walk, then retire to a quiet parking layby which has fabulous views for a picnic supper from the back of the car, then we retire inside the car with coffee, a biscuit, some reading material and binoculars and stay till either we get cold, need the loo, or get driven away by nibbling insects.  We try and leave before dark because we often see good wildlife on the drive home at dusk.

We always stop and pause on this stretch as the bird song tends to be particularly good.  The woodland is mostly coniferous as it’s a commercial plantation, but this area is mixed, so attracts a good selection of birds.

Maybe we’re just turning into a pair of old farts, but there are few things I enjoy more – Mr Boo thinks that I’m a very cheap date.   Just as well, I don’t think he could afford me otherwise!  It’s at its most enjoyable at this time of year – the evenings are the longest, often still cool enough to be able to enjoy a decent walk, yet warm enough to eat supper in shirt sleeves and the countryside at its most pristine and enjoyable. 

They’ve taken the decision this last winter to thin out some of the coniferous woodland to allow more light in to encourage more forest floor growth.  Being planted as a commercial crop originally, it was densely packed and very little light permeated.  Hence there are more spots now where the sunlight streams through, giving rise to these gorgeous treats.

So,  we sat on Saturday evening, supervising the hay making down the valley through binoculars, listening to nothing other than the breeze through the trees, evening bird song, lambs baaing for their Mums, Curlews in the field adjacent and the distant hum of the farm vehicles.  We were passed all evening by a grand total of two cyclists and three cars – although one of those did go past twice.

The drive up there is a significant part of the pleasure for us, through delightful English countryside, much of which is farmed.  We’d love to have somewhere we love as much a little closer to home and although we have other places we like to go, nowhere else has quite all the right ingredients.  On the latest journey there we spotted a record haul of wildlife en route; a hedgehog snuffling along the verge, a hare eating at the roadside who stood up tall and gave us a good looking at as we passed; three different owls, hunting earlier than usual and several close encounters with curlews, variously in flight or perched on fence posts.

This particular area seems to be especially abundant with varieties of grasses at the verge-side, from tiny little low ones with feathery seeds to tall exotic looking ones that sway in the breeze.  I think they’ll be at their most fabulous in another 3 or 4 weeks.

So it was the very thought of these such evenings that kept us going during our enforced immobile period at home.  We knew we had the very best of the early summer ahead of us to enjoy it and it was an absolute joy to get back there last week after looking forward to it for over 3 months.  And it didn’t disappoint – it was all the more delicious for having to wait and being deprived of it for longer than usual.  We enjoyed it so much, we’ve spent 3 evenings there in the last 2 weeks.  I’m already watching the weather forecast to see if an evening this week will allow us visit no.4.

The mild winter this year has meant that the garden has survived rather better than usual and I already have a decent show of colour without any new planting, with annuals from last year not only surviving, but already flowering again – I don’t think that has ever happened before.  I have a couple of good sized lavender plants and they are thick with busy bees.  Mr Boo is fascinated watching them – he wonders if they’re all the same bees returning, or lots of different ones.

Recent finished work:

I’ve now entirely lost track of what I’ve already published and what is new, so I’ll just show a few photographs of pieces that I know I’ve finished very recently.  The pendant below is double sided and the front features a cabochon I made in polymer clay which is a faux lapis colour and has been finished to a high gloss with many coats of acrylic varnish.  The cab has been set in a round pendant and held in place with lots of tiny individually sculpted leaves.  The reverse features an appliqued design of a daisy and a triple loop bail with tiny leaves and balls.

A large kite shaped and dyed piece of top drilled agate that I’ve made into a simple pendant with a wire wrapped bail and decorative folded poppy cap – taken from a tutorial design by on-line friend and talented fellow jewellery maker Keirsten Giles and her tutorial for Happy Mango Beads and I offer it with her permission.   Her version was in sheet metal, but I modified it to be made in copper clay, creating a custom texture sheet for it so that I could give it a border.   It proved to be an ideal solution for some oddly shaped stones in my stash.  I already had an idea in progress for it, but I like this one rather better.

I often find that once I make a particular design, I get a smidge fixated with it and make quite a few on the same theme.  It’s also true to say that once you get into a flow with something, it’s worth continuing to work once your eye is in.  Hence I made quite a few different versions of these rosebud knot wrap earrings.  I sell a lot of earrings in this price bracket, so it makes sense to offer a decent selection.

Now, let’s see that weather forecast for Thursday again . . .

2 thoughts on “Simple pleasures

  1. Thank you Nana Louise. There are a lot of hours invested in the cab pendant – but it gets worked on in stages over time, so it develops gradually. I’ve nearly finished another one with a faux amber cab.

    I do get significant peace from trees – I can’t imagine my life without them, I love being amongst them.

  2. Absolutely love those two pendants, particularly the top one. Wow, that must have taken ages.

    I envy you your fixation with themes and I think that is the best way to learn. I tend to get distracted by something else before I have explored a subject fully.

    Love the forest photos too. Such peace to be had amongst the trees.

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