I keep my blog as a personal record of what I'm up to, which might be seen as working towards "An elegant sufficiency, content, retirement, rural quiet, friendship, books, ease and alternate labour, useful life"

I'm certainly not there yet.  There is quite some way to go!










Gruezi Miteinand!




The day began rather earlier than usual, on a murky M4 on the way to the airport.  A noontime flight was just about our limit for not staying overnight and bearing in mind the potential problems with early morning traffic en route, we allowed plenty of time.  Needless to say, having allowed that time, we didn’t need it and so we found ourselves arriving with time to spare.




No, the airport wasn’t really this empty, but just as I thought to take a picture for my journal, there was no-one in view.  Isn’t it spooky how we can give an altogether different version of reality?!




So, after a morning spent sitting in the lounge, waiting, our flight left a little late at 12.30pm, flying through clear skies directly over Paris, en route to Zürich.




I don’t know which I liked best, the spectacle of the city with assorted landmarks to look out for, or the marvellous patterns of the fields of eastern France, so different from the patterns of fields elsewhere in the world: the envelope shapes of Canterbury, New Zealand and the circular patterns created by irrigation systems in North America, for example.




Or the lush, green pastures of northern Switzerland, for that matter.




Our plane was the golden feather patterned Airbus, now looking a bit shabby, but maybe the one used to transport the Olympic flame?




Anyway, having set off from home early this morning, an hour and a half’s flight later we arrived in Zürich, picked up a car and drove to our hotel in Rapperswil, at the southerly tip of the Zürisee,  How come it was now 4.30 pm and where did that day go?




Well, of course, it didn’t really matter, for after a quick shower and change, we set out across the causeway to Lachen, on the other side of the lake, where the vernissage we’d been invited to was being held.  What a beautiful setting to celebrate the publication of a new biography of a man born just steps away and what’s more, the afternoon showers moved on leaving the most gorgeous sky behind them.




It was a fascinating evening with speeches, music, presentations and lively conversation amongst like-minded people.  We chatted over an elegant apéro, made plans to meet our friends for dinner on Saturday before saying our farewells and heading back over the causeway again.

Needless to say, my hero has some rather interesting bedtime reading.


Think ahead


I’m a practical sort of person.  Even if you didn’t know me, you might guess how I spend much of my time by taking a look at my hands.  They are frequently a little bruised and battered from sewing and cutting things and, truth be told, when I have things on my mind, I’m a bit of a picker.  If I’ve been painting and dyeing things, then all of this might be revealed a little more than usual, because the stain tends to stay in the cracks and crevices, doesn’t it?  It doesn’t worry me.  I get out the sugar scrub just as my Mum would have done and usually, in a day or so, it’s gone.

Yes, I have a large box of latex gloves on my worktable but no, I can’t work in them.

Anyway, a couple of days ago, I read about Noelle’s Elderberry Cordial and thinking about the last drops of berries sitting outside on the trees in our garden, I just had to give it a whirl.  Bless her, she shared her recipe and yesterday I set to work.




Result, a couple of hours later, we had about a litre and a half of aromatic cordial.  Thank you, Noelle, it’s delicious and remarkably easy to make.  Next year, though, I’m not going to wait until the last gasp of summer to gather the berries, but get out there when the trees are dripping with them!




I was also left with a pair of the most vile looking hands you can imagine.  Believe me, they are way better today than yesterday, for I have washed and scrubbed away at them at every opportunity.




They still look dreadful and I’m wondering just how long it’s going to take for that grey-blue stain to wear off.  Because, although I wouldn’t normally give it any thought at all, I didn’t think ahead to what’s happening in the next few days.




Tomorrow, I’ll teach a group of country ladies who will hopefully appreciate the situation, for I’m pretty sure they’ll have done something similar themselves.  Though I’d rather not have close attention paid to my hands when I am so conscious of their appearance, I hope they know me well enough to be able to look beyond some grey-blue fingernails.

But what about Thursday?  The day after tomorrow, when we are invited to a vernissage in a small Swiss town where everyone will be elegantly dressed and many hands will be shaken?  I didn’t give it a second thought.  I hope that I’m not destined for a weekend of explanation about the “holunderbeere” auf Deutsch.

Surely, they will be clean by early next week when Tra will play a concert and we will be in rather grand company.  Maybe I’d better sneak some Ferrero Rocher in my pocket to distract the honoured guest? Winking smile

Or perhaps I’d better just get the Domestos out?





Actually, I could have written a whole blogpost on the difficulty of taking a photograph of my hand.  Out came the tripod, the self timer was switched on and about thirty photographs taken before I got just a handful to use here.  Where was my hero when I needed him?






Coming home late this evening, I couldn’t help but go straight outside into the garden and take a photograph with my l’il ol’ camera. 


Signs of the season




There’s an enormous Horse Chestnut tree outside our local supermarket and at this time of the year it’s not only the small boys and girls who are keeping their eyes open for jewels.  Who can resist a shiny brown conker, freshly fallen from the tree, to put in a pocket and treasure?  I’ve heard that placing them in the corner of a room will keep the spiders away and keeping a couple in a pocket might help with rheumatism.  Who knows?  Maybe that’s why a deep brown glossy conker doesn’t lay on the ground for long before being picked up?




I couldn’t walk past this one which fell right in front of me yesterday morning and placed it carefully by my side on the car seat. I forgot about it until I spotted it this morning and remembered Autumn term at school when we couldn’t wait to play conkers!  Sadly it was no longer the beauty it was yesterday, because a real conker soon dries out and loses its beautifully deep and glossy surface, unlike the Penkridge Ceramics one in the first photograph, which is a shiny and bright as the day we bought it, some dozen or so years ago.




Although the children are all back at school and the cooler mornings and darker evenings tell us it’s September, the sun is still shining and we seem to be in a settled weather pattern right now.




Let’s hope it carries on for a little bit longer!


A little bit of mould and a small spider for company


As he washed up the dinner plates, my hero noted the absence of the pink gingham mug.  OK, he referred to it as the “red tartan mug”, but hey, even heroes aren’t colour and fabric specialists.  It was surely down to me, for undoubtedly, the pink gingham mug was sitting on my worktable in the studio growing mould or something horrid, so I scooted downstairs to try to find it before he did.

It wasn’t on my worktable.

It wasn’t even in on my desk, in the laundry or on a windowsill.  I looked.

I wondered if it was out in the garden and by way of killing two birds with one stone, decided to head out through the garage, where my eye fell on one of the shelves.




Well, who’d have thought it? 

Even heroes put their tea in funny places Winking smile