Nature · Seasons · Trees

Welcoming Winter

I open my curtains every morning to gauge the weather. I suppose I could look at my phone and the Weather App would tell me but old habits die hard.

If it hadn’t been for the time I lived abroad I probably wouldn’t be so conscious of this part of my daily routine. I opened the curtains one morning after about six weeks in my new home to another day of blue sky.

thumb_IMG_7694_1024

 

It had been the same every day since I arrived. It was then I realized that the daily habit of a lifetime was of no more use. It was going to be pretty much sunny with cloudless skies, every day.

Now don’t get me wrong, coming from Scotland I felt there was much to be delighted about by this!

 

 

 

This morning I opened the curtains and a frost covered the ground. It hadn’t been there the morning before.

thumb_IMG_7999_1024

I knew it would be cold outside and yet, what a beautiful scene lay before me.

Nature’s artist providing a final flourish, the one to give it that wow! factor. The touch to highlight the beauty, clarify the lines, exaggerate every detail. It is a shout out to us all – Look! Look at how stunning Nature is; the delicacy, the intricacy.

My own choice and knowledge of words will never be enough to describe the scene and yet, how does it make me feel?

Like a child. Opening the curtains in the morning brings a dawning in me, winter is here. The time of woolly hats and mittens, boots and heavy coats has arrived. I step out the door to an icy freshness.

Sun, of a light different to the warm glows of Autumn, displays the frosty sparkle. It is a muted, hazy light contrasting with the freshness of the air. The first lulling you into hibernation as the latter wakes you up, demanding your attention.

I think of the bulbs underground. Tucked up for winter. Thinking of them brings me onto spring, but then again, what is the rush? Why not welcome the winter, enjoy the precious light of the days and the evenings, tucked up, almost hibernating myself? Safe in the knowledge the bulbs are waiting.

 

Books

What goes with a fresh cup of tea?

I recently wrote a post about ‘Cup of Tea Books’, you know, the books or stories you return to again and again. Comforting, familiar, like the old worn crochet blanket you wrap yourself up in at night.

thumb_IMG_7966_1024
My ‘Cup of Tea’ Book for Winter

Well, I had some lovely replies on Twitter and Facebook and I thought I’d list them here. Admittedly so I could make up a list for myself of books to read and then I thought, why not share it? So here we are.

A huge thank you to all who replied, it’s been great fun seeing your recommendations and a good excuse to keep in touch!

I’ll keep on adding to the list and add this to the main page of the blog so please feel free to send me the titles of your ‘Cup of Tea Books’ and spread the word, thank you!

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

A Man called Ove – Fredrik Backman

The Miniaturist – Jesse Burton

Theft in a Cake Shop – Italo Calvino

Agatha Christie

Elemental – Amanda Curtin

Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

Elizabeth is Missing – Emma Healey

H is for Hawk – Helen Macdonald

Nutshell – Ian McEwan

The Heart of Horses – Molly Gloss

Birdsong – Sebastian Faulkes

Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

We are all Completely Beside Ourselves – Karen Joy Fowler

The Magus – John Fowles

Poldark – Winston Graham

The Island – Victoria Hislop

Ugly, a Memoir – Robert Hoge

The Kite runner – Khaled Hosseini

At First Light – Vanessa Lafaye

How to Eat – Nigella Lawson

The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney

The Lewis Trilogies – Peter May

The Chosen – Chaim Potok

Dorothy Sayers

Eligible – Curtis Sittenfeld

The Help – Kathryn Stockett

Wild – Cheryl Strayed

Consolations of the Forest – Sylvain Tesson

Marianne Wheelaghan

The Book Thief – Marcus Zusak

 

So what goes with a fresh cup of tea? A book!

 

thumb_IMG_7600_1024

Garden · Inspiration · Trees

Countryside Yarns

Autumn has swept in with all the colours of a warm, woolly scarf.

I went on holiday recently, full of enthusiasm to leave and have a change. Well, the holiday was a real treat but so was the return.

In the time I was away the countryside has been transformed. Summer has ended but a new season, a fresh start has begun.

thumb_IMG_7527_1024

Last year I planted a rowan tree by our front door. As a child I remember being told a rowan tree was always planted in Scottish gardens by the front door to ward off evil. On the other hand, the wood is also used to make wands.

I don’t know if any of it is true but this rowan tree has certainly given us a magical  display with it’s long fingers of reds, oranges and greens.

Now I just need to put on my own woolly scarf, go out, and start planting bulbs for the spring.

 

thumb_IMG_7606_1024

Books · Flowers · Inspiration

‘Cup of Tea Books’

thumb_IMG_6979_1024

Returning to the theme of books, I wanted to mention ‘Cup of Tea Books’.

I’m sure you know the ones I mean, the books you return to time and time again. For many people it is the classics such as Jane Eyre, for others it may be a favourite series.

Maeve Binchy will always be one of my favourites, I would also count Elizabeth Jane Howard and her Cazelet Chronicles. Perhaps there is a theme, they are all stories of families through the years. The characters develop over time to become like old friends.

When I need a book to chill out with then I’ll turn to one of these.

Sometimes I think these are ‘easy’ books to read as they often deal with everyday life but I am sure they were not easy to write! If I could write one story with characters you would like to ‘meet’ again then I’d be very happy!

 

thumb_IMG_7597_1024

 

 

Flowers · Garden · Inspiration

Sunflowers

thumb_IMG_7539_1024

 

Okay, this sunflower photo had to have pride of place here, right at the top, hopefully bright and cheery!

I wondered if anything would come of the seeds since I planted them a bit late but my imperfect timing doesn’t seem to have really mattered.

Flowers have now appeared: majestic crowns on top of their giant bodies. (I’m thinking of Jack and the Beanstalk here!).

As far as I remember I’ve loved sunflowers since I first saw an exhibition of Van Gogh paintings at The Burrell Collection in Glasgow, I think it was in 1990. A while ago I was lucky enough to go to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, where I unashamedly enjoyed filling in the worksheet provided for the children!

On a practical note I think I can chop off the head (!) and leave it out for the birds in the winter for feed, surely a win-win all round?

Maybe next year I’ll plant the seeds late again or maybe early, who knows?

 

 

Books · Flowers · Inspiration

Lost in a Good Book

Libraries Week

 

Thank goodness for the libraries. Otherwise the rest of the shelves on my already overfull bookshelves would collapse!

thumb_IMG_7537_1024

 

I’ve given many books away over the years but some are just too difficult to part with: the presents from a special person, the book I read on a great holiday, the one I would like to read again, the book I know I should read but haven’t!

These shelves have now also become a deposit for books my children have outgrown but I am finding it hard to give away!

Visiting the library always brings back happy memories. Pushing open the heavy wood and glass door I used to feel I had walked into a whole new world. One where shelves of books were all at my height and arranged neatly so I could instantly spot a new book. The librarians sat at a desk low enough for me to talk to them and they would often recommend a new author.

 “A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert.” Andrew Carnegie

Nowadays I’ve realised the benefit of the Library App and I can request a book in seconds. My latest trick is to borrow the books for our book club reads and then if I really like the book I can think about buying it.

The only problem is, when I go in to collect the book I always find a few more to read and then, well, where does the time go when you’re lost in a good book?

 

thumb_IMG_7494_1024

 

Flowers · Inspiration

It has to be …

Teapots!

Well, it has to start with a teapot really, doesn’t it?thumb_IMG_7485_1024

 

I have to confess I bought this teapot over 20 years ago, it’s travelled with me around the world and yet, I don’t think I’ve ever had a cup of tea from it.

It is strange looking back at the things we keep as we move houses and countries, as we age, as our families grow and change. Why did I keep this teapot when so many other things have been left behind along the way?

I bought it on holiday in Keswick in the Lake District but when I recently returned to the town, it was only to discover the place I bought it from, The Teapottery, was no longer there.  A little reminder not to look back too much but to keep on moving forward?

I know am certainly not alone in admiring a teapot. Hans Christian Anderson was moved to write a story about one.

Now, like Aladdin, I’m going to wipe this teapot, have a cup of tea and maybe, just maybe, it will be an inspiration for me to write!

 

thumb_IMG_7486_1024