Sunday, 21 December 2014

A Solstice Wander

We'd made a little a plan while ago, my lovely middle sister Rachel and me, that on the shortest day we'd grab ourselves a little free time to walk the lanes and gather some greenery to decorate our homes.

So we set off this dank and blustery morning (perfect!) to wander around Bagnall, the village where we grew up. I only live a couple of miles away but Rach lives over the hills in Buxton and although she's often here visiting us or our folks, I can't remember the last time we had the chance to saunter about together with no time pressure or small people needing our attention.
Both of us were keen to see if we could still remember where all the footpaths went, so first of all we headed down towards to old mill pools and then onto the Salt Track where merchants brought the mineral over from Nantwich to the monks at Hulton Abbey centuries ago. I remember this cosy cottage in a really tucked away spot, as a tumbled down farm for a long time and it was great to see that its being lovingly restored

The wooded end of the Salt Track proved to be a treasure trove for the wreaths we wanted to make and we found wispy seed heads, berried holly and rosehips to snip (leaving plenty for the birds and the rest of the village.)
Our morning was literally a walk down memory lane. We had a good laugh remembering Grandad getting us to hang upside down from the little white bridge over the ford to grab moss for his hanging baskets! We kept complaining about getting wet but typical Grandad he just said' "its only a bit a' watter!" (and his hanging baskets were the best bless him.)

The little brick building is the parish hall where we went to Sunday School, playgroup and lots of village barn dances and things. There's a more modern village hall too that's much better suited to parties and events, but I have really fond memories of the church hall, the glorious view out of the back door and tea from Woods Ware crockery. Its been closed for years and I harbour a little dream that I might turn it into a family home one day (the wooden floors were wonderful!)
So this is what we made. Rachel's is a rather elegant effort, lots of ivy and some discreet rosehips that she's hoping won't get blown away in the windy part of Buxton where she lives. Mine's a bit more of a rustic affair with a little of everything we found including holly, yew, and ivy berries.

I had such a great time, it was treat for us to chat and put the world to rights together and I think just maybe we've invented a new family tradition.  Happy winter solstice everyone xx

Friday, 12 December 2014

Advent Adventures #2

Apologies if you follow me on Instagram and have seen these pictures all before! My camera is gathering dust at the moment with a fault so my trusty phone is tracking my seasonal wanderings and will have to do for now.

Advent is marching on isn't it. Life is getting busier but it feels exciting and full of anticipation. The steam railway at the end of our road is doing a roaring trade with its Santa Express and looks magnificent.

This year I have a ten day break from the office, precious days to spend with special friends and lovely family. I feel very fortunate to be in that position and it means an awful a lot to me x

So as you can imagine there are rather a few things on the wish list and a few achieved already:

:: visiting the man himself at our local National Trust estate at Ilam Park near Dovedale.  It was a foul winter's day with snow in the air and mobbed by field fares and red wings. I adored it!  Father Christmas was very jovial despite being so busy and even our 11 year old was transfixed. Joyous!

:: we discovered a new local pub in a neighbouring village that was total perfection. Roaring fire, friendly welcome and a delicious roast dinner. I can't imagine anything much better :)

Now I'm looking forward to;

:: feeding carrots to my lovely friend Helen's new pony 

:: a walk with my middle sister on the winter solstice to gather our greenery for wreath making and, a flying visit from my younger sister to swap presents.

:: the village carol service

:: a visit to the pantomime

:: a festive feast with our Buxton friends and a New Year's Day walk with all the kids, if the weather obliges.

Preparations beckon now though, wrapping and cleaning mostly! Hope yours are going well if you are too x

P.s hello to my new follower from just down the road *waves to Milton*. (where I went to school :) 

Monday, 8 December 2014

Advent Adventures #1

took a trip north last week to kick off the festive season with my sister in her adopted home city of York. It was impossibly festive; full of shoppers , fabulous lights and a lovely atmosphere.

Mum and dad joined us too which was really lovely. Just us girls and our folks doesn't happen all that often and was such a treat. They spoilt us rotten too with a delicious lunch in a very cosy pub close to the minster and later we had tea and cakes in a rather good bookshop. 
We're very similar in our tastes in our family, history and art definitely being our main shared interests, so when Susie ducked down one of York's many curious alleyways and lead us to the breathtaking Holy Trinity Church, we were all very thrilled. (Inside pics = Holy Trinity, external pic = York Minster).

Decked for Yuletide with greenery and candles we history geeks enjoyed a break from the hustle and bustle admiring box pews, Lancet arches and ancient stained glass windows. Talk about memorable x 
Later we couldn't resist the lure of the marvellous medieval fayre at Barley Hall (one of my favourite buildings in the world). The shopping was wonderful and I bought handmade pottery, divine chocolates and wooden instruments to the backdrop of medieval carols and the aroma of mulled wine. Heaven.
So all in all a delicious family day that's got my Christmas off to a wonderful start. How is your Advent going so far?

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Instagram Autumn

As the light leaves us earlier everyday now I've been looking back through my Instagram feed at my favourite autumnal moments:

:: I love the blazing beeches along the lane I take from town to home. Full of jays, pheasants scuttling in the undergrowth and acrobatic squirrels, it's a breathtaking place that's very precious to me.

:: potting up tulips and narcissi for a spring show. There's a lovely atmosphere in the garden late in the year; the scent of damp compost, leaf litter and woodsmoke takes me back to busy garden days with my parents when I was little. 

:: I've had some lovely autumnal runs this season. The canal side was especially beautiful in our mild October.

:: my last #weekendposy of the year. Every weekend I've gathered a few blooms from the garden and gathered them together on Instagram with this hashtag. I'll be starting again in the spring and it would be great if you'd like to join in!

:: fun in the woods. We joined the lovely Nina and her smashing family  (www.ninanixon.blogspot.co.uk) for a haunting afternoon of spookiness, scavenging, potion making and campfire fun. It was a fantastic, gloriously muddy afternoon - thanks so much! 

And now winter is creeping in and I'm enjoying every moment. The air turns colder, sparkle and twinkle lights the night sky and we're making preparations for celebrations to come. Thank you autumn for another glorious season, see you next year. 

Saturday, 22 November 2014

A Bit of a Do

Thanks ever so much for all the wonderful support and comments on mine and Archie's little run the other weekend.

When this running lark started I had in the back of my mind that I definitely wanted to be in better shape by the time I was 40.

Well the weekend before last, just after Bonfire Night, I hit that landmark feeling so much better about all sorts things in life. 
I hadn't ever thought I'd have a party but once we thought about it, it seemed just the best thing to do. So we gathered together the loveliest bunch of family and friends at the Foxlowe Arts Centre in town, turned on the fairy lights, ate hearty food and let off fireworks and danced into the night.

What a fantastic time. I laughed and
and talked so much I went hoarse and only took a few quick snaps on my phone. 

It was so lovely to have everyone there who helped us to have such fun. I feel really lucky to be here, at 40, with a fantastic family and smashing friends. Life is very good so here's to the next decade! Xx

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Running up that hill - or hills!

I crossed the rubicon a couple of weeks ago and did something I never thought I could ever do. I was in a race! Well race in the loosest sense, more of an amble with a thousand other people - and I didn't actually come last!


Our littlest man is growing to love running so we looked for a cross country thing he might be able to do and a friend suggested the Dovedale Dash, just over the hills from home. But the thing is, there is an adults race too, all around the beautiful dale and the pretty estate village of Ilam. 


Before I knew what I was doing I could hear myself saying I would do it too to give Archie some encouragement and support. Blimey how things have changed! 
Look at his face! He absolutely cantered around, hurtling up the hellish ascent that is Lin Dale to the finish as pleased as punch. I was totally overcome with emotion for him, it's a hard run and I was just bursting with pride.
My run? Well I chickened out of splashing through the freezing River Dove (bit worried I might lose a shoe in the first 1/2 mile!) and took the stepping stones instead. 


Our course plodded along the riverside, over steep, rutty fields then through the village, back over fields, through the thickest mud I HAVE EVER SEEN, skittered back along the river below Thorpe Cloud and eventually back up the ridiculous Lin Dale  (admittedly I walked most of that).


4 & 3/4 strenuous Peak District miles I will never forget. I got a lovely certificate, a pounding head and eventually a very nice feeling of proving myself wrong. 


Here's a shocking picture (excuse the spare tyre - ugh Lycra) but proof I did it and showed my boys that their mum can move, something last year they may have questioned. And that change is enough for me x

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Down by the Dove

We headed over the Weaver Hills late this Sunday afternoon to buy pumpkins at the farm shop and stroll along the river bank.

It's an afternoon that will stay with me for such a long time. A stiff breeze, tumbling rooks, the boys wheeling and whirling and the light fading fast (hence the not brilliant quality photos). I could taste the atmosphere, if only I could have bottled it. Autumn texture and faded colour all around us.
There was a fly fishing match on and we chatted to a couple of happy fishermen, wending their way home after a successful day.

The fields of stubble were showing a hint of green and bordered by skeletons of hogweed, some have come home with us to sit in a huge jug on the mantelpiece. 

I'm joining in with Nina's (www.ninanixon.blogspot.com) #wanderandgather link. The perfect join up if you too are the type never to come home without an empty pocket, always stuffed with nature's treasures!
Quicker than we thought the light slipped away on this afternoon after our clocks have fallen back. There couldn't have been a more perfect couple of hours I don't think and the only way to finish it off was to scurry home, stick on a roast and prepare to slump! 

Hope you've enjoyed your Sunday x