August love

There's definitely been a harvest feel to my days lately. I 'took off' my first honey and have made beeswax candles. There should be more to come next week but this is a one hive production line at the moment as my other colonies are swarms from this season and I want to build them up for next year. I have learnt so much from mistakes as well as successes and I feel I could become a half decent beekeeper in a few years. I decided to give each of my queen bees names, homage to my reading of medieval poetry in my twenties, so we have Guinevere, Isolde and Aliénor. Guinevere may well be superseded this month but her hive will always bear her lovely name. Isolde is very capable and her colony should be very strong next year. Aliénor concerns me a little - there's not much brood in her hive. A beekeeper needs to be patient and nurture a weak colony and I have more of an idea now about what to do. 
I enjoy homesteading as a lifestyle choice even if I do just a few things with herbs and plants and the bees. Do you remember when dried flowers were a thing? I liked them then and this week I have been foraging stems for drying and display. I love nature's colours and feel inspired to match them in yarn and cloth. I am continuing with my Cedar River Blanket with its pops of stronger colour but I feel the draw of a hap or shawl in earthy tones using some of the left over alpaca yarn when I was crocheting some of Ed's Animals. I'll need some more obviously and I should also start to make Patrick's bat soon too; his birthday is in October.
The sculpture of the girl reading is from Ragley Hall near to us. We had a surreal afternoon there on Friday. We were the only visitors and the guide gave us a private tour. It's an 18th century house with an amazing interior and a Capability Brown landscaped garden. A hidden gem I would  say. I loved the contemporary murals that cover the hall and south staircase.  
We are off at the start of September, to North Africa and we've been watching Yotam Ottolenghi's Mediterranean Feast series in anticipation. The food reminds me of Provençal dishes which I really like. My next post will be about our trip to Morocco. 














Kate and Dan's wedding

I have neglected this blog over the last few months preferring to post little bites on IG. The wedding preparations were all consuming so I lived a different life for a while. As we head towards the end of July we are picking things up again but this special day on the 7th will be in our short term memories for a very long time. We had a glorious day and whilst the official photos are not yet out, I have put together a few images taken on various phone cameras. Blogging is scrapbooking for me so I have included a few styling shots too. Many of our friends are interested in table settings, flowers and favours. It's impossible to choose highlights from all the loveliness but the ceremony in the glade was wonderful and it set the tone of elegance without formality for the rest of the day. Of course everything whizzed past and at one in the morning when we left, I felt I wanted to do it all again. 
Still that's what photos are for and we have more of those to come.





















go wild


I'm recovering from a nasty cold and cough which have needed antibiotics to clear up so I've had a quiet week even by my standards. The start of the month saw us in Oxford which we think of as home in our memories because of the time we spent there when K, L & P were at the exploring age in their childhood. Pitt Rivers Museum was such a favourite and it was nice to go again and see 'new' things. We've always loved anthropology and the artefacts tell so many stories about living in different times and places. David said we should go every month and view one display cabinet at a time. Now there's a challenge I'm up for especially if I can have a slice of courgette and coconut cake before or afterwards.
I have been enjoying being out in the villages and our garden when it's been sunny. It's been warm enough to hear and see bees foraging and I took some photos of their favourite flowers. They love the tree blossom too and here on the Worcestershire / Gloucestershire borders there are plenty of commercial orchards left as well as a fine gardening tradition. I've posted a couple of photos from the plum orchard where I walk Max and the other two are from my garden, the white one is an amelanchier and the pink a prunus. Of all the wild flowers it's the white nettle the bees seem to love. I am looking forward to the beekeeping year and am delighted my colony has survived the winter. Guinevere and her workers have inspired me to go wild and use the plants they love in my garden even if they don't flower for long. I'm afraid a lot of show case plants in garden centres won't make it to the till. My woodland garden is good for the spring but I need to expand the meadow area by the hedges. At the moment it's just a metre square with pink and white campion. I thought of these lines wending my way though this bit of woodland in the hedgerow.

O let them be left, wildness and wet;Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.
(GMH at the beginning of the last century)

This weekend is Kate and Dan's hen / stag celebration. I like that they have organised a evening out in the city for both groups together but are staying in separate cottages with different activities. Luci drove up this afternoon and Patrick is flying in to Manchester airport. There will also be a mother hen do in May which I am looking forward to. It'll be lovely to be out with my girlies. I can't write a post without some mention of the big W can I? 











decisions

Hello Easter bunnies, my post today is about finding calm in the midst of decision making. The 'mood' board is about calming crochet and reading. I am now on to my fourth animal and he will be a tabby cat for Kate hopefully with some of the markings her real kitty has. I am reading some nice stuff: The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell is fun and speaks to me on many levels and a re-read of Jane Eyre which I last read in my 30's. I just  felt drawn to it again. The boards which I use for photos are locally reclaimed pine flooring braced at the back which we shall be using to display the seating plan for the wedding reception tables in July. The garden beckons me when it's sunny and I do need to get up front and personal with my woodland area - bluebells are coming through as well as the woodland sweet pea which does well every year. There is a fair bit of weeding and tidying to do which I might make a start on this afternoon. I often have pots of tulips for the spring and this year I chose a creamy white one with pink edges. The flower globes are just about to open probably in time for David's birthday on Sunday.

The decisions are mostly wedding related, of course - I am obsessing with table runners atm. I think it's going silver linen, recycled vases and terracotta long toms to balance the elegant with just a few rustic touches. The photo has brown runners but the flowers and settings are👌🏼We are very lucky to have such a beautiful venue and I feel a responsibility to do it justice I guess. 

We are also planning to redo some of our rooms downstairs. The downside of decluttering is that it makes me reassess everything. The piano has gone now which I kinda agonised over but I hung on to the thought that it's sad to have an unplayed piano in the house and so it's gone to an acquaintance who is keen to learn to play. I love this wallpaper which I first saw in a magazine but the company offers many other botanical designs. Our 'study' will become a pretty room off the hall with storage aka the 1850's French chest of drawers or commode, a wing chair which we have had redone in herringbone linen and a peg rail for a few coats. I had thought wood panelling but there is no pattern in the room as shutters have replaced the curtains so maybe wallpaper is the way to go. We won't decide in a hurry and certainly not before the downstairs flooring is replaced in May followed quite promptly with my AQA marking (GCSE and A level this year) and then the BIG day. I'm also toying with a new sofa and coffee table. That really won't happen till after the summer. 

We have no holiday plans as such😟. David says we should go to Utrecht to see Patrick; he was with us over Easter which I was thankful for and I know he will be back to see Kate and Luci for the stag / hen event this month too. The next time I see him will be just days before the wedding. We could go over in May or August possibly. There, another decision to make.  










time

flies when you're having fun. I spent a whole day tending to the lawn in the sunshine, raking, weeding and tidying the edges. David mowed in the late afternoon when it was dry. I still haven't done the so called back back where the shade of the trees has made the grass patchy but there's plenty of time actually looking at the blog posts from last year when we didn't get our gardening gloves out till April. The lantern clock from a local museum here in the Cotswolds, reminds me of the novel The Lady and the Unicorn which I am enjoying very much - love the Middle Ages and the stories of the women is mesmerising. 

I am pretty busy with all things wedding related at the moment. We may be going to London at the weekend to do a final measuring and swatch choice. Cannot get it wrong for the makers in Mumbai. The garden has made me think of the table flowerpots and other props. I need to plant out the wild flowers I've bought as plugs asap. The seed packet proof has come back but needless to say there are amendments. I do like the way my drawing looks though. 

I'm really pleased with the cake Kate wants and am looking forward to the tasting day in April. We're all going to the hotel in Cheltenham and the no / low carbs rule will be revoked for the afternoon. The circular table is the cake table at the stone barn and we might use this wooden cake stand. 

I am looking after myself a lot more now I'm out of the workplace. I like fresh turmeric grated and used as a tisane with honey and lemon. I tried it with thyme but it tasted too medicinal. I still drink black tea sometimes and I love the new blends available now. This French Earl Grey has a lovely fruit kick and I take it with a slice of lemon to make it really sing. If I want a little sweetness I go for a few dates as a mid afternoon treat. 

By the way I have finished David's lion  - I put him on IG but won't put him on here as David reads my blog sometimes (when he's bored). I am now making the legs for Luci's palomino pony. Then there are the animals for our bride and groom. They chose them last weekend but don't know they won't see them till the day, possibly displayed with some of the flower arrangements. Patrick has yet to choose his animal but he is coming home for the Easter weekend so he can tell me what he thinks then.