Friday, 23 December 2011

Mistletoe, Mulled Wine and a Fine Gathering!

Last Sunday a great many villagers gathered together to celebrate Christmas in our Victorian Church. I describe it thus because we have two Churches, one much earlier, which is generally known as the Little Church or the George Herbert one and St John, which is generally known as  the one by the school!  This one was due to be left to fall into direpair as mending the broken heating was prohibitive, so we have got together, formed numerous committees and are planning to turn our church into a village hall. I won't go into all the details but do have a look at the link if you're interested-

It was such a happy, festive gathering, I couldn't resist sharing it . The photos are by my son Sam

taken with great panache but a little more blurry that my ususal ones as they are from his ipod!

This was not just a carol concert- there was mulled wine and mince pies-

And hot chocolate with marshmallows-

There was a stall selling all sorts of homemade treats-

I bought a pot of Quince jelly made by the best Quince jelly maker in the village!

I raided a boot-load of mistletoe from David's orchard-

There were lots tempted...

There was a craft area for the more energetic-

And the whole church was made more beautiful with candles and decorations

And of course, our friends!

As we said to each other-


So wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
Jane xxx

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Happiness in Making Wreaths

However I'm feeling- crotchety, sad or tired- whenever I make a wreath I become calm and contented. I like building up its shape and choosing colours, gathering the plants and herbs and then working with them. I make wreaths all year round, to mark the seasons and always have one on my door, if only a plain twist of creeper.
These two are very traditional but please me none the less. I have made the bases out of Honeysuckle, Virginia Creeper and an overgrown Jasmine. I'm always aware of what is growing in the nearby hedges, gardens and woodlands- and at Christmas I get a particularly acquisitive gleam in my eye...
My first is for the back door that opens onto our little courtyard garden and I wanted simple mistletoe against the white. I'm so lucky to have an almost unlimited supply. David has an old orchard behind his cottage and the trees are weighed down with mistletoe balls.

Our lovely crimson front door calls out for a mixed wreath with lots of bright berries-

I hasten to add that I do only pick a few bits and bobs and I always ask first!

Monday, 12 December 2011

101 Things to Prepare before Christmas and I did this.....

I'm a bit late getting my Christmas spirit this year but I'm hoping that the return home of the Emily in all her glory and the successful Christmas Dinners x 2 at my Day Centre this week will put me in the right frame of mind. Sam is already buzzing with excitement (and exhaustion) as he is in the Pantomime. It's the big, proper professional one and as one of the Youth Group he has to work blooming hard... 24 performances left to do!
Well, I felt like a bit of fun, so abandoning housework and all other more sensible Christmas preparations, I decided to decorate the tiny crab apple tree in our courtyard garden.

I have sometimes strung up a tasteful collection of white lights but this year I thought I'd go for the natural look...
Using all my imagination and a slightly silly sense of humour I came up with this collection-

They were rather fiddly to make but I did enjoy myself!

I may add a few more but now I really must go and sweep up the mess I've made!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Beautiful November

Yesterday was a bright sunny day and I was lucky enough to be out and about and able to enjoy it. Today is softer and more misty but to my eyes, still beautiful. I know November can be raw, damp and dank and it is easy to be depressed by the dark mornings and the winter evenings drawing in but I've never disliked this month. When the last of the leaves go, I'm happy to see the well remembered shape of each tree re-appear-

The first verse of Roy Campbell's poem Autumn sums it up perfectly-

I love to see, when leaves depart,
the clear anatomy arrive,
Winter, the paragon of art,
that kills all form of life and feeling
save what is pure and will survive.

I'm always surprised how much colour there is in the landscape, whether it is the last remaining berries-

or the patterns in a field-

And there are some places, like this beech hedge, where the autumn colours linger into winter-

So even on a rapidly darkening November day, there is something to enjoy

Autumn Evening
The day sinks gently into quiet repose
with silvered lavender and fading rose.
 Bright berries are muted by the misty air,
stripped by the first frosts the creepers hang bare.
There's no sun, no clouds, all is silent grey
And yet on this tranquil Autumn day
I have no wish for the summer to stay
Despite falling leaves and withered grasses
It is in peace not sadness that the old year passes.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Artisans Fair

I have to admit that this day passed in rather a blur. If it wasn't for the nobleness of Emmie, Sam (who did a magnificent job loading of the car) and my lovely man, I would never have got ready. I just couldn't seem to focus. I'm usually totally organised when choosing, sorting and packing but everything ended up a bit of a mish-mash.
I did have some pretty things on my stall-

But it seemed a muddle, with no particular theme. Because I have such a variety of things- books, vintage and kitchenalia, I usually do have a theme in mind, either colours - green and yellow is a favourite, or florals, which are perfect for a summer fair. Perhaps I didn't feel Chrismassy enough to give my things the right seasonal touch!

It was a lovely little fair though. We had delicious homemade cakes and soup to keep us well fed and happy and there were such friendly stall holders-

I was especially pleased that Sophie from 'Fading Grace' was there. It's particularly nice to get to know somebody that you have only known via 'blogland'! She had such a lovely stall-

I treated myself to a Susie Cooper cup and saucer and Emily bought a wonderful black and white spotty dress. This was worn with great style and pride on her return to Uni on Monday morning! Thank you Sophie, you made Em's day.
As you can see there was quite a variety of  stalls with differing things for sale -

 I was particularly fond of two contrasting books on my stall

Dashing Rob Roy always makes me laugh!

Apart from buying dresses and a lovely little umbrella, Emily found time to refurbish a pair of pumps...

I'll finish this piece by sending my love to her, Sam and David, who have given me such loving support over the last few weeks

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Artisan Christmas Fair at Middle Woodford this Sunday 20th November

                                  The Artisan Christmas Fair is on this Sunday 11.00am to 4.00pm

The Woodford Village Hall
Middle Woodford

Our Christmas Fair has an eclectic mix of fine vintage and original handmade treasures. Choose Christmas gifts from stalls selling beeswax candles, hand turned wooden bowls, jewellery, antiquarian books, treats for the cook, vintage collectables, paintings, linens, lace and creative knits. Tea, coffee and delicious homemade cakes served. Middle Woodford is 4 miles north of Salisbury on the river Avon. It is signed from the A360. Free entry and plentiful free parking!

My apologies for scant detail and abrupt writing. I've just come back and wanted to at least let everybody know what is happening this coming weekend!
I think it will be a great little fair and I hope to write about it properly when I have caught up with myself, as soon as I'm able.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Refusal to Mourn

My Father L.K. Way (right)  and my Grandfather J.E.D Hall both Political Journalists-
Conservative Conference, sometime in the 1950's at Brighton
My father lived for 95 years. (28th September 1916- 8th November 2011)
His life spanned nearly a century- it's hard to imagine what changes he has seen. He was at Dunkirk and was rescued by a ship from the beaches. He never spoke of the war but regretted missing so much of his two elder sons' early lives and his wife's last years (she died  of cancer not long after he returned from duty). All his life he was involved with words and politics. He had been awarded a C.B.E , had poems published and was a political journalist respected by all political parties.
He always spoke of the joy and delight he felt when he met my beautiful mother, who was then an ice dancer with ' Holiday on Ice' and how lucky he felt to be given another chance at happiness when he had a second family- myself and my brother- together with her.
I will not now speak of all the things I could tell you of him: his goodness, integrity and intelligence and I will only say that to me he was the perfect English gentleman.
I refuse to mourn his passing.
For the last few years all the things that he enjoyed and all the things that made him himself have been slowly stripped from him. He coped with courage, wry humour and dignity but I could feel only fury.
That has passed now and I feel sadness but no more rage.
I am lucky to have my faith and believe that when it is my time to make that final leap over to the other side, his hands will be there to catch me.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Not a pretty baby....but much loved

Please excuse orange age spots on photo!

Today is my 50th Birthday
Yesterday, in a nostalgic mood, I was looking through some old photo albums and these made me laugh!
The above is me in my cot with my boot button black eyes and strange sticking up hair -it looked just like a loo brush I've been told...My Mum, love her, says I was beautiful, and good and very friendly to all strangers...

The next is in the garden in Amersham. Such a beautiful place to grow up.
I still love dressing up today! ( Perhaps not as a nurse...)

And finally, to my mind the most amusing of all-

At Univesity in the 80's... 
What more can I say?

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Elektra-fying (so sorry for the pun!)

Two summers ago my daughter had a wonderful chance to join an acting course on the island of Hydra in Greece. She had to be incredibly brave, as she knew no-one and travelled alone, even spending the night in a hotel in a port near Athens.
She phoned me a few days into the course bubbling with excitement as she had been chosen to play the role of Elektra in Sophocles's play. They rehearsed all week and the play was performed to the public in an amphitheatre!
I have just received an email from her with a link posted  on utube by Corrina , who runs the courses.
I wanted to share it with you and have a proud Motherly moment.

We don't have many other photos from the play but here is one of the best of them

I'm so proud of my lovely girl..

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Beautiful Dawn

I couldn't resist sharing these pictures.
I awoke early and decided to do some research at the computer. I hadn't even looked outside at the day or the weather but my tiny book room was lit up with a beautiful pink light. Grabbing my camera, I  dashed upstairs to Sam's top floor bedroom, which looks towards the sunrise and the Cathedral.
Luckily for his sanity (you should never wake a teenage boy too quickly, it's very damaging...) he was away at his Father's, so the coast was clear and I could wrench open our creaky sash windows, climb precariously onto a chair and several books, lean out of the window... and capture these few glorious moments-

and five minutes later-

The colour and light change so quickly, I'm glad I was awake to witness this beautiful start to the day.

ps. I haven't altered or enhanced these pictures in any way!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Arts and Tarts...

Salisbury Arts Trail has come to an end and I feel a little sad. It was hard work but such good fun! I loved having so many visitors in my house and talking to so many interesting people.
It was good too, to be surrounded by beautiful things and to have our lovely city humming with the excitment of art and artists every day.

I've shown some photographs of my things, in a previous post, so here are a few pictures from our friends and fellow artists across the road

Bluetit by Lindsay Keir

Corner of Lindsay's studio all set up for the Arts Trail

Necklace by Pepe Argo

Linocut by Pippa Unwin

Even the window sill was beautiful!

Here are two of my favourite pieces from my artists:  John Gustard, painter and Laura Smith, photographer



At our house we decided that Arts week was a good excuse for having not one but two parties!
 A private view at the beginning and a Sunday afternoon tea party to end the event.
The first was considered a great success as we heard a guest say on leaving that it was 'such a crush'.

The tea party had a selection of delicious little cakes- we did have some tarts as well!

I had a wonderful time and most importantly, so did the artists

John and his wife Ann Marie

Laura with vital supplies of wine at the Private View!

 It's such a shame it doesn't happen every year...