Sunday, 7 May 2017


 For years I have walked through the woods around here hoping to see a wild orchid, this weekend I was very lucky and that moment arrived.  These beautiful orchids were in woodland very near the airport, I almost missed them as they were within a sea of fading bluebells, their flowers so tiny, but their distinct spotty leaves and their delicate spikes of beauty were unmistakable, small and delicate in their perfect beauty.

 fuzzy photos from my phone.  When I walked back the same way to take another picture a few hours later,  the flowers had already begun to fade and wilt in the dappled sunshine.  Short lived beauty.  But now I know where they are I can come back every year to see them :)

On May Day I remembered that my mother always celebrated this time of year with bunches of violets, we never see them here any more, although they grow wild in the woods and there are a few in my garden.

This is a picture from about 5 years ago, picked in the woods here, it would be hard to find this many in 2017... an indication that things are changing in nature and a reminder of how important it is to protect wild flowers in their natural habitat.  I have learned over the years not to be tempted to pick flowers like this, they have delicate root systems that can easily be damaged, they also don't survive in houses, wilting within hours of picking, my grandmother never allowed cut wild flowers of any sort indoors as she believed fairies lived in them, I am inclined to agree... with age comes wisdom. .  I feel more responsible for my footprint on this planet these days.

Fly agaric.  Last seen here about 3 years ago, one of my most favourite finds... not so often seen here now.  They grow in the same place year after year so if disturbed then a small and beautiful sighting could be lost forever.  As they like beech and pine wood as a habitat, the woods behind me are a good place to search in Autumn, but there have been none the last few years, I am always on the look out.

Winters like this are a rare event in the UK now too, an indication of our changing climate.  We still reminisce about this Winter as, apart from the beauty of it all, there was a wonderful quiet in the woods, the snow didn't just blanket the earth, it blanketed sound, all that could be heard were the birds, and then they stopped to listen too.

Here are some more snaps of the things I saw on my 'orchid walk' yesterday....

cowslips - hardly ever seen around here, I was surprised to see so many in one place.

and the last of the bluebells are dying off, a whole year to wait before we can enjoy them again. still beautiful in faded glory.

vetch, I found an area the size of a football pitch, I think next month it's going to be a beautiful purple carpet.  College boy accompanies me on my walks, we stop for a cider in the pub on the way home.  Four hours walking is thirsty work!

My library book this week is Chris Packham, Fingers in the Sparke Jar ... if you are in the UK and watch Springwatch, you will know him as a wildlife expert.  The book is all about his amazing childhood, a boy who seems to be on the autistic spectrum (we have people wearing that badge in this family).  After much research and planning he finds a nest and helps himself to a fledgling bird of prey and rears it, his journey and its detail is brilliant.... he tells all about how his fascination with the natural world he has encountered or sought out has shaped his future.  This is a book worthy of a film, I hope you get a chance to read it and enjoy it as much as I have.

I am off for a holiday in the sun with hubby, our first overseas holiday together for 23 years!  Our boys will be looking after our house and Amber cat whilst they revise for college and university final exams.  I will be back soon.   It was nice to chat with you, maybe you will leave a comment so I know you passed by this little corner of the World.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Easter Weekend

Spring lamb!

 The nearest I could find to one, at the little church which we visit through the woods....

Their window displays and Easter garden were beautiful... we happened upon a lady who cares for the Church, who gave us some history... this is St Bartholomews at Burstow... John Flamsteed, who founded The Royal Observatory, was an astronomer and the first astronomer to the Royal Family.  He was also rector at this church from 1684-1719 and is buried here.  He cataloged 3000 stars and was the first to notice Uranus.  One of the stained glass windows in the church was placed to commemorate him.  There is a little sunday school building opposite built by him. 

It was Flamsteed who taught us the use of the telescope and who showed longitude at sea, gave us the position of the sun, moon and stars and showed how to foretell the weather.  What an important history and connection for a small, humble, village!  There is more history to this church which I will tell you about another time no doubt as I can sense you are nodding off.... 
Here's something more if you haven't....

  The woods are still crammed with lucky to have these so close.

One of my favourite bloggers, Pompom, suggested drawing Easter dresses a while ago, here's mine.... I think it would look pretty in a woodland bluebell setting, maybe a few robins and woodpeckers flying overhead and some butterflies skittering past.  It's fun to doodle, there are lots of adult colouring books available now for those who need a start, I think this sort of thing is therapeutic for all and not just reserved for children.

Hope you enjoyed the Easter weekend.  For many of us it's a time of reflection, celebration and hope.  For me it is a time of renewal.  What better way to feel renewed than out in the fresh air, walking....

On a four hour walk with college boy this weekend, hidden amongst the dandelions, we spotted tiny wild strawberry plants.  So small the fruit is only likely to be big enough for a fairy, but apparently they taste much stronger than supermarket variety, despite their size, hope I get to taste one.  .....

So many wildflowers around, borage and herb robert and dead nettle here.

I have been buying these pretty little pink marguerita type daisies - last year they flowered all Summer.  They were £2 each in the market and will grow quite large.

My lovely neighbours gave me pannetone- delicious and wrapped with pretty yellow ribbon so I will sign off now and tuck in.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017


Only a week since these same woods were carpeted in white, This Sunday they surprised me with a mass of bluebells, I think they are early this year.

This is the woodland at Outwood which I visited on my last post.  It is next to the windmill (which was the oldest working windmill in England until storms caused damage in 2013).  The National Trust owns this woodland, which is part of the Harewood Estate.


These beautiful flowers are an indicator of ancient woodland, which is defined as land that has been continuously wooded since 1600 or earlier.

Wood anemone spreads via root, not seed and takes 100 years to spread a mere six foot.  because of its slow growth it is usually only found in old woodland.  It is tempting to pick but is poisonous.

Bluebells here are the old English Bluebell and not the more recent Spanish variety that has become invasive in some parts of this country.   The English bluebell is the only one that carries scent (I think they smell like sugar and rain)  and the flower spike has bells on one side only, giving the graceful droop that is so characteristic, the English Bluebell  has white, not blue, anthers.

IN 1548 William Turner wrote about Bluebell in his book, The Names of Herbe's,
 'some use the root as glue' (surprising that such a delicate flower would have such strength hidden inside).   I have been reading about this and found there is evidence that the flower glue was used to fix feathers to arrows in the Bronze age.  Just imagine.

There is so much to see in these woods:  banks of celandine by the stream, wild primrose and violet,  honeysuckle putting out new shoots, hover flies and butterflies everywhere here already.

Our ancient woodland is protected but there are loopholes in our UK development regulations that still leave some beautiful areas in danger of being lost.   There is much about this and proposed amendments to the current protective laws of ancient  woodland at The Woodland Trust website *here*.  

For the next few weeks I am very lucky to be able to see these thousands of wood anemone in drifts mingling with bluebells as far as the eye can see.  Beyond this some fields are now bright yellow with rapeseed.  All I' m looking for now to complete the picture is a spring lamb or two!

Today I am pottering, I might paint a little, do some gardening or even some Spring cleaning! but it's likely I will be heading back to the bluebells too before the day is over........

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Last week of March

 Up at 5.30am I sat outside and listened to the dawn chorus.  When it's a little warmer, the best time to start a walk will be now, early, watching the sun rise and hearing all the birds, seeing the light on the fields as our world awakens and the woodland creatures retire to their burrows.   I have a little pocket of woodland behind me so the birds are right up close and very noisy.  Visiting at the moment for food are blackbirds, robins, blue and coal tits, wood pigeon, crow, jay and magpie, wren, chaffinch, song thrush, mistle thrush.  Amber is too old to chase birds now so we sit and watch them eat bread together.

The garden is coming to life, the sticks aboe are to keep cats off my potato crops.  Later this month I will have tomato and herbs in the windows.  This year I decided to let the woods take over a bit so anything that self seeds in my borders can stay, currently I have nettle and violet.

It was Mother's Day in the UK last Sunday and college boy took me to the windmill and the woods. there was much chocolate and cider donated by both sons and I felt very special.

The woods are now carpeted in delicate wood anemone ... 

There was even the odd early a few weeks this same spot will be a sea of blue.

I love visiting the windmill, there are several around here but this is the one you can get right next to.
I have never been inside, although there is another a short drive away that holds occasional church services inside, so tiny you can only fit about 20 people in.  I visited one summer a few years back and found it very special.

There was nobody else here at the woodside windmill as it's quite a long walk across fields and was late in the afternoon so we had all this to ourselves, the birdsong, sunshine and flowers....

Earlier in the week I went to the pretty village of Forest Row... the mission was to get hairclips.

 a lovely lady in the craft shop had some and very kindly put my hair up and
showed me how to use them in different ways.  Below is a little pub that is popular, I haven't been inside but admire the beautiful slate roofing.  College boy is learning bricklaying so finds the patternwork impressive.  I would so love to give that door some tlc though, it needs some wood preserver!

Every shop in this village has the most beautiful window or pavement display, don't you think? there are several health food shops, a florist that also sells organic wine, an organic vegetable shop and a shop that specialises in natural oils and tinctures.  It's only about 10 miles from home and feels like a treat to pop over there for a browse.  There's a new shop where you can join tutorials to learn crochet and upholstering for example, this was their pretty flower display...

This is the hardware shop.  I would prefer a short drive to collect my lawnmower blades, growbags and seed potatos to a shop this pretty instead of big diy store and I like the idea of supporting small local business too.

sold out, whatever it was it was good

and the florist - their hanging baskets are so much more creative than the average garden centre offerings and less expensive.I like the idea of twining the baskets with pussy willow.

Amber is shedding her Winter coat , so we are putting out her fur for the birds, they are grateful.  Imagine all the little nests lined with soft ginger fur.

Do you like a bit of vintage?  I have added a link to a you tube video of my great aunt Olive's wedding, her best man was my grandfather, the little boy was my father.  My cousin had this made up into a dvd and colour enhanced a few years back, the original film was in 1939.  Thought you might like to enjoy it too.  The link is not on this post, it's on my right sidebar.  I have also added a list of the blogs I follow on the sidebar, you might like to visit some that are new to you. 

I have another walk today and a quiet afternoon with my new Leon cookbook.  Lunch for the men is slow roast brisket (I'm veggie so having quorn sausage), to finish we have JK Rowlings Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them to watch on download.... saw it the other night but there was so much to take in that it needs watching again!  Every bit as good as the Harry Potter films and the creatures are amazing....  How's your Sunday going?

Monday, 20 March 2017

Spring Equinox

 For me, the first sign of Spring is when I see those tiny yellow star shaped celandine flowers appearing along the hedgerows, I noticed them for the first time last week.  Also the odd wild anemone was catching the breeze.

It is cold and grey here but the day can't pass without observing that it is  the vernal equinox, today is the first day of Spring in the UK if you observe the pagan calendar... a day that we have always looked forward to in my family and on which we would bring into the house lots of pussywillow and catkins in vases, my mother's way of welcoming Spring in.

 I had a few moments for a little painting today, to stop and observe Spring's arrival and to mark the occasion , there are plenty of signs of Spring in the woods, buds are forming and the birds are very busy.

For some who observe the Equinox, today is either spent Spring cleaning and/or planting seeds.  I did a bit of both and planted a few nasturium seeds. At the weekend I planted a new Jasmine too and some hebes into my tiny garden.  I do believe it's good for the soul to have these little rituals.

I am sure there will be beautiful wood anemone carpeting the woods any time now so will be visiting the woods very soon to see them.  In other years there has been a fabulous carpet of the little white star like flowers tinged with pink.....  The badgers might also be above ground now. 

Here's an old picture of the woods with the anemones this time last year to be going on with .
Happy First day of Spring!

Sunday, 5 March 2017


It's Sunday, the skies are grey and there is a sleety hailstone downpour going on outside, inside it's warm and cosy and an ideal opportunity to have the paints out....

There are no birds today, they are hiding in the trees.  No morning cup of tea in the garden whilst Ambercat watches with me while the birds swoop in for bread and nuts .. too wet today... so here's a little robin and a blue tit to fill the emptiness while we wait for the weather to improve.... I think the robin needs a bit more work, he looks a bit angry.

There is a small nest box in the garden which teenage boy made years ago, a couple of blue tits have been investigating, with all the cats around it's unlikely they will stay - but it's fun watching them, and hoping...

This week I will try to paint every day that I am home, just a little at a time... I'm rusty and get bored quickly you see.

By the way my most favourite author and self taught artist, Susan Branch, took a peek in here and gave me some really kind advice about painting in reply to a comment I left on her blog.  She suggested using online tutorials from Youtube .  This is where the watercolour birds have originated from - tutorials, anyone can have a go and it's very helpful if, like me, you don't know which bits to fill in first or where shadow needs to go.

This is what I want the woods to look like - full of celandine and wood amenone, hints of bluebells - too early yet but it's nice to be reminded.... can't wait to walk through woods ankle deep in bluebells and smell their lovely perfume - is there such a thing bottled? I wish.... plenty of these at the moment - catkins, nodding away just behind my fence... buds on branches too.

Have you been out looking for signs of Spring?  It's muddy in the woods here and very little to see - although I was surprised by some snowdrops growing under the silver birch trees...

My birthday was good, having had a great day out in Brighton with my youngest brother, I went back and did it all again later that week with teenage boy who treated me to another lunch at Leon - I love their food.

I had lots of pressies, one of the best is these pretty knitting needles and soft merino wool in my favourite colour from my blogging buddy Nana this wool is all the way from New Zealand and has 15% possum fluff!  I think it will be just enough for a hat.  There was also lots of Irn Bru Crumble and Coconut Ice but it was swooped upon so I can't show you... I had wine and flowers, beautiful white orchids, a night out at an Indian restuarant... I was very spoilt and felt much loved and appreciated.

Do you bid or sell on EBay?  I do infrequently, I won an EBay bid for 'Along Came Betty' (Tesco/discontinued) and won the toiletries bag and contents (all sealed and brand new) for £6.50 including the postage.

source: Google
The contents were a bonus, it was the bag I wanted, for holiday packing... later this year we are going to Costa Rica, I will have to tell you all about it nearer the time, but there will be a trip to the Cloud Forest, volcano, hot springs, lots of exciting stuff... and a girl needs a decent waterproof travel bag for her things - so this is it :D

 I will be back later in the month - hope you have time to leave a comment so I know you passed this way, tell me a bit about where you live, the landscape, the wildflowers, the trees.  Make a cup of tea, help yourself to a biscuit and stay awhile.