Friday, 5 August 2016

Borders and Bees- on painting my hearth

I am not an artist, yet my house is filled with examples of my need to express myself and make my home unique to me. I still get a thrill when I step outside the normal rules and write on a wall or paint something in an slightly eccentric manner.

We have all become used to people painting their cupboards and chairs in delicate chalky pastels but to add words and patterns to the structure of the house feels different to me, more daring and so much more fun!

A friend asked me " How do you dare, what if it goes wrong?" I suppose I keep altering it in the hope it comes right, or in desperation paint over it...
 I always draw freehand and feel it doesn't have to be perfect, although I will admit that writing the first word is always nerve-wracking.

My most recent artiness is a painted heath rug. Well, it's not quite that but all my heath rugs had holes burnt into them by spitting logs and the original concrete hearth was damaged and ugly, so I decided to paint something instead- less of a fire hazard or an eyesore.
I started with a simple leaf garland,

and then added details as the mood took me. I love medieval Books of Hours, with their gold leaf, vibrant colours and their quirky borders with tiny flowers and creatures, so these were my inspiration.

I haven't the patience or skill to match their detailed perfection, for one thing it's darn painful trying to paint, lying on my tummy trying not to smudge any wet bits- but I think there is at least a 'feel' of these beautiful books in my slightly scruffy attempt.

I haven't been able to photograph the whole of the final painting, the room is small and the light bad, yet I hope this gives an idea of the finished result.

I still may add a suitable quotation but I have yet to find one with a hearth and fire theme that isn't too trite or sentimental. I'm happy though and I enjoy letting my creations evolve over the months and years. 

Sunday, 31 July 2016

High Summer: Village Fetes and Shows

In my opinion, a Village Fete provides everything you might need to enjoy yourself on a Summer's day. David and I have our favourites and look forward to them eagerly. Everybody involved is relaxed and friendly, in the mood to chat and appreciate life. When held in some of Wiltshire's most beautiful villages, it is a pleasure just to wander around appreciating the beautiful cottages and their summer gardens.

The old rhythms of the seasons and village life are still alive. When you look back at photographs from the past, these fetes continue an unbroken line of celebration and gathering together that goes back centuries.


There are always craftsmen and enthusiasts sharing their skills and showing off their treasures

Old skills, old tools

A little steam engine

The field or village green is filled with families, their dogs and their children and there is always a queue for the tea tent. The tea is often a little stewed or cool but this is more than made up for by the cakes. The choice is bewildering: richly iced coffee cake, decorated with walnuts, rock buns, shortbread, moist dark tea loaf and chocolate fairy cakes, all homemade, all delicious and so cheap!
Who can resist?


After this treat we decided to take a little exercise and David proved his skills as a bowler by winning me a prize from the coconut shy.

I like best the big tent where the exhibits from the Horticultural show are collected together. I spend ages looking at the carefully prepared fruit and vegetables, preserves and cakes.

Many years ago, I remember my brother Anthony carefully choosing his five best runner beans, explaining how it wasn't the biggest but the most perfect and regular ones that would win. He then wrapped them in damp newspaper, to keep them fresh and straight in preparation for the next day's show.


When I lived at Sixpenny Handley in Dorset, I once won prizes for my elderflower cordial and lemon curd. The pride I felt at seeing that coveted red certificate! I do also remember though, my fury at the cutting comments of the judges  made about my jam sponge...
Today though, I was not exhibiting, so I could relax and enjoy the colour, ingenuity and beauty on show.

Miniature garden

A trug of a whole garden's produce

Posies in unusual containers ( cupcake cases)

I love the yellow courgettes

Floribunda rose

Three perfect eggs

We wandered, we chatted, we indulged and we treated ourselves to some homemade jams and chutneys.
It was a perfect way to spend a thoroughly English Saturday.
Now I've been inspired, I think I'll go and make some Rock Buns!


Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Flowery mead


June is the month when the meadows seem to overflow with colour.
The golden carpet above is all buttercups and they glow in the misty, thundery light.

This meadow must have dozens of different varieties of flowers and they form a more subtle tapestry.

I've been intrigued by the swathe of pink in a field alongside the A36 just past Wilton. Today I turned down a bumpy little track and went exploring. The pink is a mass of Campion flowers- red, pink and white. It is a breath-taking sight.

I can now boast that I have my own meadow. For some time, with the help of a gardening friend, I have been creating a tiny orchard at the bottom of my narrow terrace garden and have planted wild flowers and grasses beneath the trees. To some it might seem an over-gown muddle but to me it is utterly enchanting.

I will write a proper piece about my little orchard. It is a magical transformation from the bare earth of  two years ago.
I love the abundance of June in England.

Monday, 25 April 2016

Spring Greens

I love the moment in Spring when everything is just on the brink of bursting into leaf. The shoots, buds and new leaves are so many different shades and often there is a warm haze of purple and pink over the woodlands.

The new leaves are different colours on each tree and bush and only in Autumn does the countryside show such a variety of tones.
On my wanderings this weekend, I tried to capture as many different greens as I could find- such a pleasure!

Horse Chestnut



The verges are changed from their bedraggled winter dun colour to a rich new green where;
" Weeds in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush"


Queen Anne's Lace

mainly Blackberry

 Bluebells and stitchwort gleam against their background of grass and beech
Patterns of ferns and a Beech avenue
Everything was glowing in the sunlight
Wheat fields and far hills are green
And the tree line is, for this short space of time, a mix of so many shades and hues, before it settles down to the uniform green of summer

" Proud pied April, dressed in all his trim,
Hath put a spirit of youth in every thing."