Wednesday 31 December 2014

winter walk and happy new year

A winter walk on a bright frosty morning is one of my most favourite things. Wrapped up snug against the chill, two pairs of socks and thermals for good measure. 

We were pleased to have some Boxing Day snow. Not enough to cause problems travelling but just enough for the little ones to have some fun. Excited squeals rang out as they threw snowballs and cracked the ice on puddles. Playing chase through the little trees in the forest. 

Though bitterly cold, the sun shone sending dappled light through the trees. After a play on the rope swings, it was back to the car for a warming flask of tea. Lovely winter downtime.

Tonight, we will be ringing in the New Year at home, most probably with Jools Holland and a glass of wine. Tomorrow, a roast dinner at home with my parents in law for company. I've baked Mary Berry's chocolate celebration cake for dessert. A fitting start to the new year.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy 2015 full of adventure, good times and fun. Hope you all have a wonderful New Year. 

Wednesday 24 December 2014

merry christmas

Just popping in to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Tonight, we're cosied up by the fire. The hay and carrots have been left out in the garden for the reindeer. The little ones will be off to bed soon. They are so excited. We will be enjoying a simple supper and a few glasses of wine. I quite fancy a Baileys coffee. 

Tomorrow will undoubtedly begin with a very early start and a lot of excitement. We are spending the day at home. Just the five of us. Christmas Day at our own pace. My favourite way. On Boxing Day, we will visit my family for another festive feast. 

After that I'm planning downtime with my little family. Doing the things we enjoy. The best times.

Thanks so much for your friendship and kind words this past year. Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas, however you choose to spend it. See you on the other side. 

Saturday 20 December 2014

precious things #4

Our nativity. My precious thing for the festive season.

I really like the simplicity of the design. Tactile white porcelain figures edged with gold. The wooden stable, so perfectly formed. A gift from my parents when we moved into our home just before Christmas, five years ago.

Like all seasonal decorations it gets packed away to be refound each December. It always makes me smile.

To see some other precious things, pop over and visit these lovely blogs.

Sarah at Mitenska
N at Creative Academia
Leanne at Today's Stuff

Sunday 7 December 2014

slow december

So my plan for a slow, calm December seems to be working out so far. There hasn't been any manic dashing to the shops. Father Christmas has been sorted for a while now and I've enjoyed visiting some local craft fairs to find presents.

I've made our Christmas pudding and ordered a capon cockerel for Christmas Day. I'm hoping to do some Christmas crafting too. Our tree will be decorated next weekend.

There aren't less things needing doing this year. I've just prioritised the important things and prepared better. I've made a conscious decision to reduce stress. I'm not pressuring myself into unnecessary extras. After being very unwell last year with shingles, I want to relax and just let the season unfold. 

I'm going to enjoy our Christmas festivities and traditions. The school nativity, our annual visit to Father Christmas, going to the Christmas markets and seeing friends.  Beyond that, I am anticipating some precious down time with my lovely family.

So, what about you? Festive craziness or calm this year?

Thank you for your lovely comments on my posts recently. They always make me smile.

Sunday 30 November 2014

simple pleasures

Simple things bringing happiness my way recently.

:  :     Making Christmas pudding and remembering my lovely granny.
:  :     Dried hydrangeas from my mum and dad's garden.
:  :     Amazing evening skies. A photo from earlier today.

So that's it for November. The festive season is almost here. I'm hoping for a slow, calm December. Time to celebrate the season and enjoy the simple things.

Our advent tradition of 'Mrs Christmas' will begin tomorrow morning. I can't wait to see the little ones faces.

Thursday 20 November 2014

precious things #3

Apologies for my tardiness in posting this month's precious thing.  I very nearly missed the boat. That may be a pun too far. I do apologise. 

As I have confessed before, I do have a bit of a magpies eye. I'm drawn to pretty, shiny things. A sparkle only adds to the allure for me. I have a small collection of jewellery. Most of it, gifts from my lovely husband and family. This vintage silver charm is one of my favourites. 

I love it. The perfect shape of the ark and the tiny animals inside. Each little detail so carefully crafted in miniature. I wear it as a pendant on a necklace almost every day. A treasure given a second chance. One of my most precious things.

There are more precious things featured on these lovely blogs today. Pop over and take a peek.

Sarah at Mitenska
Leanne at Today's Stuff

Tuesday 18 November 2014

woodland walk

A slightly damp Sunday morning walk. Brightening skies and a mild air tempted us to some welcome time outdoors. Much needed after the wet, dreary days last week.

We stayed local, visiting a native woodland close to where we live. We squelched through the muddy, leaf littered lanes. Played in the woodland. Followed deer hoof prints. Admired fungi and lichen. Found wood sorrel and gathered sticks. 

A morning well spent.

As an aside, thank you for your comments on my last post. It seems I am not alone in my nervousness of eating foraged fungi. A foraging course may be added to my bucket list.

Thursday 6 November 2014

grow, forage, cook: fungi

So many varieties of fungi are popping up all over our garden at the moment. Under the hedges, through the grass and in the vegetable patch. I am strangely drawn to them.  

Is it normal to be fascinated by these little treasures of nature? The many, many different varieties. Their peculiar structures, colours and textures. Despite my fascination with all manner of fungi, I know very little about them. I certainly wouldn't chance eating any I had picked from the wild. With my limited knowledge, it would certainly end in tragedy.

I am curious though. Have you ever gone foraging for edible fungi? Do tell if you have any experiences or wisdom to share. 

Joining in with the lovely ladies from Wolves in London and Circle of Pine Trees for their series 'grow, forage, cook'.

Sunday 26 October 2014


Spinning, spinning, forever spinning. He can't get enough of these spinning cups. This one was especially fast and he loved it. Begging to be spun faster and faster and then shouting for help to stop. Then just as it slowed down, he wanted more and more. 

This little one is my daredevil. Strong willed and fearless. He had the best fun today. 

Monday 20 October 2014

precious things #2

Crinoline ladies aren't normally to my taste. They're just a little too twee. However I make exception for this little lady. She is very special to me. 

She belonged to my great aunt Rose Ann, my grandfather's sister. She was displayed on the mantel piece in the living room of Rose Ann's cottage. Each time we visited she was taken down and I was allowed to play with her. 

She brings back so many happy memories of the house and the lovely times I spent there. My grandparents, father and I visited two or three times a year. Rose Ann was full of Irish hospitality and we were always given a warm welcome.

Her home was amazing. There were beautiful flagstone floors and a traditional open fireplace with a crook for hanging the blackened pots and kettles. A painted dresser displaying sponge ware crockery. A wooden table covered with a pretty tablecloth. And always a vase of flowers.

The exterior was whitewashed with lime and the doors and windows painted red. The roof was thatched. A typical old Irish cottage.

Rose Ann passed way in 1991 aged ninety. My grandfather kept the little lady and gave it to me. Twenty three years ago. He knew I'd love her. A really precious thing.

Pop over and visit my fellow bloggers for their precious things posts at the links below.

Sarah at Mitenska
N at Creative Academia
Leanne at Today's Stuff

Thursday 9 October 2014


Ten years ago today, I married my best friend. A special something I wanted to celebrate.

Tuesday 7 October 2014


Today is a special day. Our little boy celebrated his seventh birthday.

He is properly wonderful. A little charmer with a fantastic sense of fun. He is mischievous, caring and full of love. Brimming with quiet confidence.

He woke this morning to a noisy rendition of Happy Birthday performed by his big brother and little sister. He has spent every free moment building his beloved Lego. His collection grew today. On Saturday, we will have a party for his cousins and friends. He is very excited.

Happy birthday little man. We all love you so very much.

Thursday 2 October 2014

hello october

October arrived yesterday in a blaze of sunshine, The sky so beautifully blue, dotted with cotton wool clouds. The laundry pegged out on the washing line, billowing in the cool breeze. I wore sandals. The flowers glowed in the hazy autumn light. Those yellows and blues, so perfect together.

A day worth remembering in the dark days of winter. 

Tuesday 30 September 2014

the year in books: september

Last month's read Perfect by Rachel Joyce was just that, perfect. I loved it. The writing is beautiful. Insightful and very descriptive. The story held me captivated all the way to the end. The characters were so well drawn they seemed real. Perfect definitely deserves a recommendation.

Rachel's first novel The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry has also been added to my reading pile.

I've just started reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

Joining as always with Laura for the year in books.

Thursday 25 September 2014

grow, forage, cook: plum jam

Plum jam is possibly my favourite. Although I don't think I've ever met a jam I don't like.

A little while ago, my lovely neighbour called one afternoon with three kilos of plums from his garden. To say I was delighted is an understatement. I knew I wanted to have a go at making plum jam. 'Don't let it go too long or you'll have toffee.' With Eric's advice ringing in my ears, I started jamming.

After taking a kilo of plums, halving them and removing the stones, I put them in my biggest saucepan and added 225ml of water. I simmered them gently over a medium heat for about 20 minutes until the fruit had softened.

While the plums simmered I warmed 700gms of granulated sugar in the oven. My granny warmed sugar for jam so that it dissolved more easily and didn't become grainy. I put it in the oven in a dish along with the jars which were sterilising on a low heat.

To the softened plums, I added the warm sugar and simmered for another 15 minutes. When the sugar dissolved completely I boiled the jam quickly for 10 minutes. I checked for 'set' using the cold plate method. When the jam reached setting point I took it off the heat, letting it cool slightly before pouring into sterilised jars. It's really lovely with freshly baked scones.

I attempted spiced plum jam with the remaining plums adding a teaspoon each of ground cinnamon and mixed spice. It tastes delicious but I either stirred it too much or didn't boil it for long enough so it never really set. I'm calling it confiture, a lovely soft set French jam and declaring it a success.

Have you been jamming this year? What's your favourite flavour?

Joining in with the lovely ladies at Circle of Pine Trees and Wolves in London for their 'grow, forage, cook' series.

Thursday 18 September 2014

precious things

I am really excited to have been asked by Sarah, a lovely blogging friend to collaborate on her new monthly series entitled Precious Things. Sarah has a beautiful blog called Mitenska, full of stunning photography and lovely writing.

So what's it all about? Precious Things is about celebrating little treasures. The things you'd want to save in the event of a fire (aside from living things of course). And recognising why they are so important to us.

What makes something precious? Precious things evoke memories of places and times past. Baby's first shoes, holiday mementos and old family photographs. All just as precious as gold or jewels.

The things I regard as precious are not necessarily valuable or expensive. They have stories attached. The stories of how they came to be mine and the memories they conjure up. They hold a special place in my heart.

For this month's precious thing, I have chosen a little silver snuff box featuring Eyebright one of Cicely Mary Barker's Flower Fairies. After I admired it at a market stall in Covent Garden Market, my lovely man bought it for me as a surprise. It's a treasured souvenir of our last visit to London nearly ten years ago.

We both adore London but haven't visited since the Christmas after we married. Three little ones have hampered our freedom to travel. But this little trinket rekindles many happy memories. It makes me want to visit again. One day, we will.

Thanks so much Sarah. I've really enjoyed choosing one of my favourite things to share here.

You'll find the other Precious Things posts at the links below. Do pop over and take a look. I know you'll enjoy them.

Sarah at Mitenska
Leanne at Today's Stuff
N at Creative Academia

Saturday 13 September 2014


A collection of sorts. Found last weekend on our woodland walk. The wee ones were delighted with their autumn treasure. These conkers are pretty tiny though. The search for bigger ones continues.

Joining in with the lovely Caroline from scraps of us for her collections series. 

Saturday 6 September 2014

last days of summer

It's been quiet here in this little space of mine. Normal service will resume soon. We're been enjoying these last summer days. This past week has been sunny and bright. Though there's a definite coolness in the air. 

The light is beautiful at the moment. All glowy and soft. I love this time of year and the inevitable change of season. 

Tomorrow morning we are going to the woods. We've planned a picnic. The little ones are hoping for conkers. Fingers crossed we find some.

Hope you all have a lovely Sunday.

Sunday 31 August 2014

the year in books: august

By the skin of my teeth. My year in books August post. Last month I read That Summer at Hill Farm by Miranda France. It is a well written first novel set on a farm in the English countryside.

The main plot centres around Hill Farm and Hayes, the farmer, his wife Isobel and their three children. The village inhabitants, who are a little stereotyped, play a role in the drama which unfolds in this idyllic rural setting.  The author has a natural writing style which I really enjoyed. She eloquently describes life in the countryside. Both the good and bad.

The novel does drift occasionally though and comes to an unresolved end which left me feeling slightly shortchanged. Despite this, That Summer at Hill Farm is worth reading. I'd definitely read future novels by Miranda France.

For the year in books in September I've chosen Perfect by Rachel Joyce. I'm hoping it lives up to its recommendation from The Times. 'You will end up recommending this wild, searching book to everyone you know.' I'll let you know next month if I reckon a recommendation is deserved.

Joining in as always with Laura.

Sunday 17 August 2014

simple pleasures

Simple pleasures which made me happy recently.

: :    All the blues. Skies, sheets and pegs.
: :    Bees and butterflies on the oregano. 
: :    The scent of thyme flowers. 

A record of these simple happy things. So reminiscent of summer as the seasons begin to change again. The weather here is blustery at best and has been properly cold some days. 

Autumn is my favourite season. But shouldn't we have just a little more summer? What do you think? Are you looking forward to the change of season?
© the linen cloud. All rights reserved.
Blogger Templates by pipdig