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!










Around here




The rose petals are drying nicely and have kept their colour.  Of course, now I’m worrying about the possibility of fine clothes being stained by any dampness in the air and deep hued rose petals!  The airing cupboard has never been so sweetly scented.




In the meantime, I’m building up to our next road trip adventure with the usual journal prep.  I’ve been mooching about various websites, in search of paper for the pages but felt thwarted by an abundance of “cute” designs.  It’s not that I an anti-cute, but I was hoping for something with a little less personality than most and hopefully in a more sophisticated palette than primary colours.

I found the answer in my stash.

This morning, I’d decided to go with the “use what you have” concept and began to cut pages from a pile of paper leftover from other projects.  Deep into the pile, I was beginning to get picky.  Did I really want one pink page, a green patterned one, a black and white checked page followed by a turquoise blue stripe?  Not really.  But lo and behold, there, lurking at the bottom of the heap was a full set of 6 x 12 sheets left from a previous travel journal (this one)




Considering the itinerary of that road trip in the Pacific North West (a couple of cities, a bit of coast and some woodsy countryside) I could see why I’d chosen that design and colour palette.  This trip will be pretty similar – we are not headed for canyons or desert this time round, but to the state with the second longest coastline in the USA – 3288 miles.  We’re looking forward to exploring a couple of cities we’ve had on our list for a while and revisiting an all-time favourite, spending time with friends and, a first for us, experiencing lakeside life.

This year, we’re going to explore Michigan, driving a round trip from Chicago!




Having cut a good number of pages (which, together with some plain white sheets will be plenty), I needed to make the covers.  In my trawl through the paper pile, I came across a sheet of paper I’d created on some workshop or other which I thought would do nicely.




Ready to go.




But a girl’s got to do something whilst the paint dries, don’t you think?  A couple of my textiley friends have been pinning links to their pinterest pages that sent me looking for my Weavette.  I hadn’t opened that box in ages (or the other two, different sized looms!)




In less than fifteen minutes I was remembering just why I loved it from the minute I started.




Half an hour later, I just had to go and get on with things!  It’s so easy to get carried away with something like this.  It’s therapeutic in that mindless way, satisfying because it works so well and it’s so easy to achieve a great result from the off.

Surely, there must be a couple more projects I can get going in the meantime!?


The scent of Summer




How lovely to enjoy a relaxed Bank Holiday weekend at home and not in a 16-mile traffic jam: yes, southbound on the M5 yesterday….thankfully we were heading northbound.  Last evening, whilst sitting exploring the hidden tricks of my new camera, I spotted this chap taking a break on the garden room window and couldn’t resist a photo.  I’d have liked to have caught the other side too, but I disturbed him and he flew off.




This morning, I’ve been out in the garden, pottering about.  The philadelphus smells so sweet, I’m hoping the rain forecast for later today doesn’t wash it all away.  Time to make the most of it now.




We’ve a few roses in bloom, so with a bowl in hand, I went collecting rose petals for a sweet friend whose daughter is getting married in a couple of weeks.  Around here, we do what we can for our friends and during our book group discussion last week all agreed, we’d collect and dry as many petals as we could for her confetti.




If only the colours would stay so bright!




If only the scent would stay too.  Instead, you’ll have to imagine how sweet our airing cupboard smells with trays of rose petals drying in there right now.




We’re still having probs with our pond and rill, so I took the opportunity to top it up, noticing the beautiful iris as I did.




I’m still waiting for our peonies to open though.




I’ve been keeping an eye on the elderflowers too, noticing them coming into bloom a good week or more earlier than usual.  Time to (not) find the packet of citric acid powder then and get the stocks of lemons and sugar in, ready to get the cordial factory going.  Who knows where we had put that citric acid though?  Thankfully, Intralabs offer a super quick delivery, so this morning I had no excuses.  Could I find the recipe though?  Yes, of course I could!




The blooms this year are enormous and extraordinarily plentiful and I think this could be the earliest Elderflower Cordial post ever.




With an airing cupboard smelling of roses, a kitchen filled with lemon and elderflower, can there be any better scent of summer?




The bowl of fruit I just prepared for lunch, maybe?  (No pavlova today!)


Friday morning shopping


With “click and collect” a Friday morning shop can be quite interesting.  There in the trolley with the weekend fruit and veg, bin liners and washing powder there’s a pack of hoover bags and a new camera.

I last wrote about cameras in February 2015.  Regular readers might remember that the new camera almost came a cropper on Boracay beach when we were in the Philippines shortly afterwards, when I dropped it in the sand?  Though it’s been mostly ok, there are still times when it crunches as it comes to life (presumably caused by a few grains of sand in the mechanism which opens the lens cover?) and there are still the irritating grains which appear inside the lens from time to time.




Can you see one in the top corner?  Whilst it stays there, it’ll be fine, but it might just find its way to somewhere in the middle, when it’s a pain in the neck!




I’ve muttered about the build quality of cameras before, because usually it’s that which propels me into buying a replacement.  It’s my own fault really – I don’t “treasure” such things, but throw them into my bag with everything else, cart them around the world without a case and generally use them – and love them – to bits.  I’ve taken tens of thousands of photographs with this one and don’t really feel it owes me anything, but recently, the battery cover has begun to spring open of its own accord.




Then, when we were in St Petersburg, I was trying to review a couple of photos, using the round dial to navigate through them when that too came loose and wouldn’t work properly.  Though neither was mission-critical, I knew it wouldn’t be long before I was looking for a replacement.

And then my textile friends began chatting about cameras and I researched the current equivalent of this one.  You’ll guess what happened next.




The new one, another Sony Cybershot is slightly smaller than the one it’s replacing, but is packed with the same features and a few new ones.




This one has a pop-up viewfinder, for those days when the sun makes it really tricky to see the screen.  I have been known to take “blind” pictures, just guessing how they’ll work out, so although I probably won’t use the viewfinder that often, it’s good to have the choice.




It also has a tilt-out screen which will also go some way to resolving those issues too.  Might be good when we do the old self timer shots as well?




It has inbuilt wifi which seems a more useful feature than I’ve found it to be so far – or maybe I’ve just not taken the time to really explore how best to utilise it?  It’s so easy to connect be cable or remove the SD card, the wifi option hasn’t sold itself to me yet, particularly since I haven’t worked out a means of sending straight to Dropbox (as I can do on my phone, for example).




But yesterday, I was out taking a few photographs with my old camera, which as you can see, is still working beautifully.


DSC04557 copy


I’d looked out over the valley, wondering what that blot on the landscape was – surely someone wasn’t starting to build there?




Huh.  Using the super 30x zoom, I could see that someone has been fly tipping.  Just what makes people do such things?




So I thought I’d take another look this afternoon and took this photograph with my new camera.  Of course, the light is different today, but even so, I think the detail is sharper?

Still can’t see any fingerprints  though Sad smile




Anyway, having turned off the artificial “click” sound on the new one, there was just one last custom fitting required: The little bear charm on the wrist strap Winking smile


back at Daylesford


Well, not literally, even if I could move in there permanently!  But in my last post, I mentioned the fascinating Cult Vinegar display, which prompted a comment from Jonathan, who kindly sent me a couple of photos from the barn last Saturday.


cult 1-001


We spent some time chatting about the process of making vinegar, about which neither my Hero nor I had much idea.  I suppose I might have had a vague inkling that it was a kind of ferment, possibly resulting from opening bottles of sour wine.  But beyond that, we hadn’t a clue.  No need to go into loads of detail here – it’s all there on the Cult website, which opens up a whole new way of looking at vinegar and how it can be made and used.  Needless to say, for me, the styling hit the spot right away!


cult 2-001


What had caught my Hero’s eye were the hexagonal, slip cast vessels for making the vinegar in at home.  Beautifully designed and constructed, there’s something so satisfying about that shape, isn’t there?  Good to have the opportunity to chat to Billy about the process of making these Vinegar Vases, then, and to acknowledge the benefits of occasions like this where people with a passion have a chance to share it with the rest of us.  I’m sure that spending a summer Saturday standing in a draughty barn out in the wilds of Gloucestershire wouldn’t make the ideal weekend, but however beautiful the styling, however slick the website, sometimes there’s nothing better than actually talking to the makers and hearing the enthusiasm and commitment in their voices!

Thanks Jonathan (and Billy).


More weather


Well, what else?




Today, the sun is shining, the temperatures have soared and there was far too much flabby flesh on show in Cheltenham today.  Indeed, it could be that the English Summer has arrived.




A shame it didn’t arrive a couple of days ago, though.  There were so many plans for last Saturday; everywhere we went, it seemed there was yet another sign for a fete, a school fair or village revels.  We’d arranged to meet friends at Daylesford, for their Summer Festival but eyeing the weather forecast, we went well equipped with coats, umbrellas, hats, sensible shoes…the lot.




Arranging an event in California must be so easy.  Decide on a date and time and Bob’s your uncle, the sun will shine.  (Though maybe not necessarily in January….)  Pity all event organisers last weekend, then, who had spent months putting all their ideas into action, only to find the day dawning overcast and threatening rain.  Oh well, we are English.  We make the most of it, don’t we?  So, with map in hand, we sallied forth to find the fun.




It didn’t take us long to find it, for the whole place was full of things to try and yes, things to buy, too.  In the courtyard was a gazebo with Seedlip flavours to try.  Delicious!  (Yes, of course we did…try *and* buy!)




I must say, everything was looking beautiful, even without the sunshine.  Every time we go to Daylesford, there is something new, some new addition or extension and this time was no exception.




The extension to the farm shop had been built last Christmas, for I’d taken a photograph of the amazing advent calendar in there.  But further development has brought an indoor link along the front of the building, and on such a chilly morning, we were glad to minimise our time outside!  With all doors open and the whole place at our disposal, we took the opportunity to take a look in the corners we don’t usually explore




such as the Cookery School.




The barns were also open, cleared of livestock and filled with interesting things.




Plenty of goings on to discover and to talk about.




Since we arrived early, we had the time and the space to chat too.  I didn’t take a photograph of the vinegar makers and we really enjoyed chatting to the knife makers (whose name, sadly, we also neglected to note)  But I did enjoy finding out a little more about the basket maker from Barbados!




Thinking that it’d be a good idea to capitalise on the outdoor activities before the heavens opened, we took a look around the car park.




The Daylesford car park is usually a pretty interesting place with a smarter-than-average class of car parked there (!) but today, there was a rather older style to the area Winking smile




The usual, glorious selection of vegetables were on offer – but at those prices, we’ll take the Waitrose route home.




But who can resist the bread?  Not me!




And there’s more!  Such a shame it’s not picnic weather – we’d have had a feast!




Instead, there were yummy pizzas baking in the wood fired oven, pink frizzante sparkling in the glasses and a rather fine fire pit to sit by.  No, of course it’s not going to rain, we said…(with our hoods up)




Well, we did stay dry (ish), had time to make a paper flower in the workshop, too.




A little smaller than those adorning the light fittings, but sweetly scented with organic flower oils and all made from recycled paper too.




Eventually, we made it outside again, just to see what we’d missed.  But looking at those clouds rolling in, we thought it time to do a last circuit of the farmers market and head off home.




It was a great event, plenty to enjoy and apart from any purchases made (!) more or less free of charge too.  The organisation was fantastic and clearly a great deal of time had been spent in getting everything shipshape, ready for the big day.  Of course, knowing Daylesford as we do, it was bound to be pretty grand.




After all, when the site plan comes in the form of a Turkish map fold, how could it be anything less than splendid?!

(in seeking a link for that last sentence, I’ve discovered a variation and fresh challenge.  Hungarian map fold, anyone?)

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