As a small child, in the primary school playground and at birthday parties, I used to play a ring game with my friends called "In and Out the Starry Bluebells". My surname then was "Starkey", so needless to say the words were usually changed to "In and Out the Starkey Bluebells"!
In those days I had never seen bluebells en masse, but now I am fortunate enough to live in a village where there is an ancient wood which is full of bluebells in Spring. They are finally in flower, a good fortnight later then last year. Sadly my photos don't do them justice, but I wanted to try to capture something of the loveliness of the blue carpet they make...
...by this book, which I borrowed from the library this week:
I know the book has been out for some time, but I had not looked at it until now. The lovely photos, projects and the clear way techiques are described has re-enthused me about dressmaking-type sewing, which I haven't done for many a long year ( apart from my recent enforced school-play-costume-making). I even got as far as pinning and cutting out one of the patterns I'd bought recently, although I found that our dining-room table was far from ideal for this.
I used to love dressmaking - I'm going back to my teenage, post-exams, long summers years here - and have many happy memories of the rattle of the sewing machine , the lovely smell of the steamed fabric when pressing seams, and the joy of immersing myself for hour upon hour in a project. I'm hoping to recapture some of that joy, although I fear that it may be a little more elusive now with family, work, house and garden all clamouring for my time...
A sad footnote to my "missing hen" post - I found a small pile of speckled grey feathers at athe end of our garden this morning - proof positive that our local Mr or Mrs Fox has taken Beryl. This is the first hen we have lost to a fox in nearly 6 years, though, so I suppose we have been lucky up to now.
One of the first things we did when we moved here 6 years ago was to plant some apple, pear and plum trees in a roughly triangular area beyond our pond which we now (laughingly) call "The Orchard". Yes, I'm still dreaming of floating around my Sissinghurst-like garden in a long frock and taking tea on the terrace...
But today, even in the real world of my rather scruffy, weedy and overgrown garden, the sight of this apple tree in full blossom is uplifting to the spirits. I'm not sure what variety it is as we managed to mix up the labels after planting our fruit trees - I think it might be Jonagold. This is the most blossom it has had so far so I'm hoping for a really good crop of apples this Autumn. We had our first real crop last year, which was the 5th season since planting.
Elsewhere in our village, the bluebells are finally out in The Ancient Wood - I walked back from school that way with my friend L. and saw (and smelt!) the gorgeous carpet of blue. There were a lot of orchids too - seems like this Spring is a really good one for all kinds of flowers. I'll take my camera with me down to the wood either this afternoon or tomorrow to try to capture a picture of the bluebells.
I hope you are all enjoying your own display of blossoms and blooms in the gardens, streets, woods etc of your own neighbourhoods..
Sorry to have been absent this week - somehow too much has been going on with teaching work, family ( and the General Election!) to make it on to here.
One highlight of last week for me, though, was that this little country mouse went down to London to meet up with a friend who I hardly ever see nowadays. It was great fun for me as it's such a change from my usual life. As another, local, friend said to me, even sitting on the train reading the newspaper or a magazine for an hour and forty minutes was a blissful break from my real life!
I met C., my friend, in Oxford Street and we spent the next 4 hours or so talking, having coffee, talking, having lunch, talking and window-shopping and in all that time didn't stray more than a couple of hundred yards from where we met up.
As you can see we did make it as far as Selfridges - and what is in the bag?
This gorgeous Guzzini mug which C. bought me as a early birthday present and which is perfect for drinking my daily Cappucino out of. Thank you so much, C.!
With the busy-ness in my life this past week, crafting has unfortunately been rather pushed out, but I did manage to make my Sister-in-Law a card for her 50th Birthday:
It seems that we have lost Beryl, our Speckledy hen, leaving us with just one hen, Edwina - who is looking rather sad and lonely.
Chickens will always return to their house to roost at dusk, so normally both hens are waiting for me when I go out to give them some corn as dusk approaches. On Thursday Beryl was unusually nowhere to be seen, but after a few minutes of calling and corn-box rattling, she appeared from the next-door garden. But on Friday evening she simply didn't appear at all and has not been seen since.
It is possible she's been taken by a fox - Edwina had an extremely lucky escape from the very jaws of a fox last summer, but I haven't seen any foxes at all this year. It has also occurrred to me that Beryl had not been laying any eggs in the nestbox for a couple of weeks before she disappeared - she may have laid a clutch of eggs under a bush or hedge somewhere and be broodily sitting on them. The problem with this is that they will never hatch and she is quite capable of not coming off the nest to eat or drink. I'm not certain, but I think she could end up dying of thirst or starvation. We've looked everywhere we can think of in our garden and next door, but no sign. So I think it may be "Bye bye Beryl", even though I still hope maybe it's only "Au Revoir"...
Back in November I posted about planting my tulip bulbs. I have two small beds surrounded by box hedges and with potted holly trees in the centre of each outside the back of the barn. These are my attempt at "formal" beds and the idea originally was to have a show of single colour tulips in Spring followed by a different type of bedding plant each summer. As you can see, such plans have gone awry - I do plant a different species of tulip each Autumn and try to dig up all the bulbs of the previous one, but obviously I have missed quite a few, and after 5 years we now have quite a mix. Not what I intended, but at least it's colourful, I suppose!
This year's Summer bedding is Sweet Williams bought from a very green-fingered and creative acquaintance in the village, which , since they are biennial , have been happily growing in the bed since last summer and should put on a good show this year.
Also, I just wanted to show the layout from the final class I did during the UK Scrappers Cyber Crop at the weekend. The class was by Sarah Youde and involved distressing, sewing and using raffia - good fun. Now the Cyber Crop has finished I feel at a loose end creatively - not that I haven't got lots of things I could be finishing off - knitting and sewing projects especially, and I need to make a card for my Sister-in-Law's 50th birthday...I think I need to have a play with some of my supplies and try to get inspired.
Yes it's the Cybercrop weekend on UK Scrappers! For those of you who are not UKS devotees, a cybercrop is a weekend of online classes, challenges and general fun with points and even prizes to be won.
Each CC has a theme - this one is Monopoly with all the classes and the teams monopoly-themed. So far I have managed to do 2 of the classes as well as the pre-crop challenge ( which I did a little sneak preview of in my last post) and the Mystery Kit challenge where you buy a scrapbooking kit from an online shop without knowing what it consists of and then have to make something with just the items in the kit. I love doing this - it is such fun to do and then later see what everyone else has done with the same kit. I'm always inspired by other people's ideas and talents. This time, two of the LOs made involve wonderful 3-d elements - a fruit basket and a 3-d house.
Here's my ( definitely 2-d!) Mystery Kit LO :
And here is the LO I used the Tim Holtz compass mask on:
The first class I did was by the very talented Angie Woolfall, and involved intricate hand-cutting and doodling to make a frame. I normally avoid using a craft knife in favour of scissors or my trimmer so this was a real challenge for me. I persevered, though, and ( some hours later) had made this:
I'm actually really pleased with how this turned out, and may even have a go at this type of hand-cutting again. ( You might recognise the photo from a recent post!)
Then, this afternoon, I spent a very rushed couple of hours making a LO following a class by Gertie. I didn't leave myself enough time for the paint over the masked letters to dry as I had to upload the LO by 4pm to claim my points, so the title doesn't look as good as I'd hoped and I think I could have made a better choice of fonts for the letters. I may have a go at redoing the title some time.
Looking at these LOs now, it would appear that I'm very fond of the colour blue!
I'm hoping to do a couple more classes this evening or tomorrow, if I can take the pace...