Sunday 29 November 2009

Christmas Roses

To celebrate the beginning of Advent
I think any of these would be the most wonderful gift to receive
Perfect sumptuous velvety roses from the

I gave some to my MIL last Christmas and we all delighted in them

They were like this

What makes them extra special are the herbs that are mixed into all the arrangements

How I would love to fill my home with them

This is definitely my favourite, I like the way light refracts through the ribbed glass

Happy Advent everyone x

Saturday 28 November 2009

The West wind doth blow

Off for one of our favourite walks.
I love returning to the same spots through the seasons, it is so fascinating seeing the landscape change. The pond at the start of this wallk is absoloutley smothered with leaf fall and the lichen is looking furry and magical on the branches.
The corn field looks so beautiful too.

A lovely natural lichen frame, nature is so clever dont you think?
We slide our way along the lanes, boots bogged with mud!
Until we are rewarded on the peak of the hill by the first glimpse of a favourite place.

As we look down across the rain soaked field the wind whips up and begins to gust, Him down the Lane says "We had better get a wriggle on!" as the skies darken.

The grass looks emerald in this light
We marvel at the old stocks in this wall every time we pass it and never get bored looking at all the colours and how beautifully made they are.

The wall is dead straight too considering how long it has been there!
Oh and look at the scrolls and curls on this gate.
These are a tantalising few views of the very wonderful Penshurst Place if you are ever in our neck of the woods do try to visit it's brilliant inside and out!

Set in the rural Weald of Kent surrounded by picturesque countryside and ancient parkland, Penshurst Place and Gardens has changed little over the centuries. This mediaeval masterpiece has been the seat of the Sidney family since 1552 and retains the warmth and character of a much-loved family home. Today, Philip Sidney, Viscount De L'Isle, continues the family guardianship of this wonderful old house and garden with his wife Isobel and their two children, Philip and Sophia.
If you are interested I think this is the most beautiful and accurate description.

Weather is looking even more ominous!
Let's shelter under here.

Remember my Secret Garden Post? Well the lucky De L'Isle family have their own entrance into the churchyard from the house which is discreetly tucked away to the right of the church-yard. I think it looks very gothic! Their very own locked gate leading into their gardens. Mary would approve I am sure, provided she was able to find the key to open it.

Heading back towards home now we make the pilgrimage past a special tree.

So ancient he needs a walking stick!
The Sidney oak, in the grounds at Penshurst, is said to have been planted on the christening of Sir Philip Sidney but it is, in fact, much older. Acorns from the Oak have been planted all over the world by well-travelled members of the Sidney family although it was already 500 years old when the Sidney's first came to Penshurst.
Now nearly 1000 years old there are plans to genetically clone the Sidney Oak as it is currently in a very sorry state.

He looks so magisterial to me.
Still standing resoloutley in all manner of squalls and storms and witness to so much English History. I like to nod to him as I pass, as I would to any distinguished gentleman of great age.

Even his plaque is looking a little weather beaten these days.
Fifty important trees were chosen as part of the Celebrations for the Queen's Golden Jubilee in 2002.
I may have lingered here a little too long, here comes the storm!

Despite my best efforts these pictures look very still and yet the winds were swirling and the rain was lashing through in great curtains of seived water!

Fortunately I was with Ray Mears sorry I mean Bear Grylls who was able to find the very spot to shelter out of the wind and rain.
Thank you Mr.Lane!
It seemed to take an eternity to blow through and then just as he predicted it would the sun came weakly back for long enough that were able to made a break for it.

Here I am!
Looking remarkably dry considering, my hero....

O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn's being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,
Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes:
O thou,Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed

Percy Bysshe Shelley

As a post script to all this, when I began to put this post together I planned to finnish with this poem, what I didn't realise was that Shelley was in fact descended from the Sidneys -
Technically speaking the Sidney line died out with Jocelyn Sidney, 7th Earl of Leicester in 1743. None of the sons of Robert Sidney, 4th Earl of Leicester, produced a male heir so Penshurst was passed through Elizabeth Sidney (1713 - 1781), the daughter of Thomas Sidney and Mary Reeve. She married William Perry and Penshurst passed through their daughter Elizabeth Jane Perry.
Elizabeth Perry became the second wife of Sir Bysshe Shelley, grandfather of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. He was descended from one of the grand-daughters of
William Sidney and could claim Sidney blood in his veins. He obtained royal permission for his sons to use the Sidney name and crest.

For Simon, Penny and Sidney x

Wednesday 25 November 2009

A little Christmas cottage industry

Hello All!
I have been busy, busy elfing away in my friends shop .
It is a very little shop in the front room of her house!
Here is the window in all its festive finery.
I am especially fond of the Russian doll bunting and the felt birdie garlands.
Having finnished the window I bombed off in the car for some retail therapy of our favourite sort.................

And then I had to set up for one of Christmas Fairs that we do.
Here is my table ready to rock and roll

I also have this particularly brilliant piece of equipment which always attracts a crowd!

Yes I really do use it!
It's great for all the small change.
Here we are in action!
All the fun of the fair!
Hope you are having a good week?

Sarah x

Saturday 21 November 2009

The robin

She could see the tops of trees above the wall, and when she stood still she saw a bird with a bright red breast sitting on the topmost branch of one of them, and suddenly he burst into his winter song - almost as if he had caught sight of her and was calling to her.

She stopped and listened to him, and somehow his cheerful, friendly littlle whistle gave her a pleased feeling - even a disagreeable little girl may be lonely, and the big closed house and big bare moor and big bare gardens made this one feel as if there was no one left in the world but herself. If she had been an affectionate child, who had been used to being loved, she would have broken her heart, but even though she was "Mistress Mary quite contrary"she was desolate, and the bright - breasted little bird brought a look into her sour face which was almost a smile. She listened to him until he flew away.

........."There were trees there - I saw the tops of them. A bird with a red breast was sitting in one of them, and he sang."
To her surprise the surly old weather-beaten face actually changed it's expression. A slow smile spread over it and the gardener looked quite different. It made her think that it was curious how much nicer a person looked when he smiled. She had not thought of it before.
He turned about to the orchard side of his garden began to whistle - a low soft, whistle. She could not understand how such a surly man could make such a coaxing sound.
Almost the next moment a wonderful thing happened. She heard a soft little rushing flight through the air - and it was the little bird with the red breast flying to them, and he actually alighted on the big clod of earth quite near to the gardener's foot.
"Here he is," chuckled the old man, and then he spoke to the bird as if he were speaking to a child.
"Where hast thou been, tha cheeky little beggar?" he said."I've not seen tha before today. Has tha begun tha courtin' this early season? Tha'rt too for'ard."
The bird put his tiny head on one side and looked up at him with his soft bright eye, which was like a black dew drop. He seemed quite familiar and not the least afraid.............
"Will he always come when you call him?" she asked in almost a whisper.
"Aye, that he will, I've known him ever since he were a fledgling..............."
" What kind of a bird is he?" Mary asked.
"Doesn't tha know? He's a robin redbreast, an' they're the friendliest curiousest birds alive.........."
Extract from THE SECRET GARDEN by Frances Hodgson Burnett
When I was a little girl, Magpie would read this to me, and I always wanted to hear about the robin, over and over again.
I have loved robins ever since and we have one who frequents our garden regularly, he even obliges me by perching on the handle of my spade, just as I am losing hope that he will come nearer, he does. (Incidentally, I always garden in this outfit!)

Such an iconic winter bird, I have learned to recognise their song too, very pretty and even when I am in deepest thought it seems to reach my sub-conscious, forcing me to break from my reverie and look out of the window to see him.

I am also fond of this Robin too! But that's a whole different story for another day.

The Christmas Toast catalogue has landed, and look who is starring in it!

And if you reading Mr.Lane, yes please I should love one of these fabric covered note-books!
Oh and I love that wallpaper.

Now to sit here and read THE SECRET GARDEN again from start to finnish,
just pop my slippers on
Robins are the Gardeners' best friend x

Saturday 14 November 2009

Rosy and cosy with a dash of mustard!

I am loving the sweet simple comfort of home.................. as we batten down the hatches here and brace ourselves for those much forcasted gales!

I am currently obsessing about the warmth of soft rosy hued pinks, dusky pinks and mauves with a little dash of mustard or eggy yellow.....divine.

Although warm pinks and mauves can take quite a few similar toned colours and still sing, I love that.

I love the huge papaver poppies in this painting by Walter J West (1860-1933) , gorgeous sumptious flower heads with dark splotches as though someone had spilt ink in the centre.

And who wouldn't lust after this wonderful wallpaper adorned with oversized
roses, see what a mean about that hint of mustard with the pink, just lovely.

Hmm, and then you know all about my Gypsy caravan wistfulness.............. this is from the cover of the Kew Autumn Winter brochure and I must confess that I have sucumbed to the outfit on the left! I, unfortunately, am not able to stand in front of this wonderfully painted caravan when I wear it!

So tonight I will be lighting the candles and enjoying the warm glow they cast whilst rearranging cushions and cosying the place up.
Speaking of candles here are some Birthday candles.................

Two of the best, brightest, most beautiful and dearest people in my life are celebrating their Birthdays!
Happy Birthday Girls!
Yes, Scorpions both! another reason for my title "...with a dash of mustard" as we all know about the sting in the tail! (Only kidding!)

Mrs. Faraway, a slice of Nanny's Victoria sponge for you as I know you don't really like cake x
(she made it especially, another scorpio too!)

Hydrangeas for you both as we all love them from the garden in Cornwall.

And for you my Ludo a whole cake!
we both know we could do this at one sitting! x

What's that? It's your Birthday too! Oh goody, pull up a pew and we'll open the bubbly, pink of course...............Happy Birthday x

Tuesday 10 November 2009

Fruits and berries

Rose-hips, sloes, haws, chestnuts, acorns, holly berries, and of course crab apples................. ........those amazing red cherry like crab apples outside the kitchen window. (Malus Robusta)
Sorry, they do seem to featuring a lot lately, but I cant take my eyes off them! And nor can the birds! Although they are terribly bitter and the birds leave them tuntil last, every other berry is stripped from the hedgerows before they will take my crab apples! They last well into January and so my Christmas Cherry Tree is preserved for the festivities!

Calm and deep peace, on this high wold;
And on these dews that drench the furze

And all the silver gossamers
That twinkle into green and gold.
Calm and still light on yon great plain
That sweeps with all it's autumn bowers
This pathway is strewn with naturalised cyclamen and leaf fall, it just so beautiful, the contast is amazing between the coppery damp leaves and the prim lilac feathers of the cyclamen.

Anyway, lets get back to the start.
Berries, fruit simply everywhere I turn, so abundant is this season of "Mellow Fruitfulness". ( My nod to Mr.Keats, for whom my heart is full having seen Bright Star at the weekend!)

I love red in all its shades and inacrnations!
I think I have mentioned that before too!

But there is always room for Damson blue.
I really enjoy the changing of wardrobe that accompanies this time of year. Carried away by the romance of Cabbages and Roses Autumn Winter collection.....

Please may I have that coat?

For Charlotte from Cottontails an autumn posy

I am thinking of the fairy rings appearing in the woods at the moment. Strange perfect circles of toadstools appear overnight, magical.
I think I will have a go at making this autumnal wreath in honour of them

Hope you are having a fruitful week x