Shropshire lanes

It's been some time since I've been out, so as Joe had pumped Marjorie's tyres up, I went out for a much needed spin. 

Sunday morning is  a good time to cycle, as although the main road looks quiet here, it can be busy, especially at harvest and holiday time.

Off the main road is quieter and takes me up to better views of the far off Shropshire hills. I startled a kestrel, which took flight over my head.

I had brought out art materials, in case I felt the urge to scribble, but the light was quite flat, which makes everything too muted for my taste,  so I settled for snaps.

It was only a short spin, under two hours, what with my stopping every so often with the camera, but it was good to get out. 

The clouds were right, and in the afternoon we had rain. 


Little Arcadias

I have a new shop section for the miniature landscapes I have been making recently. I've really enjoyed making these - even if they are a bit fiddly at times. 

In the piece below, I've tried a new-to-me technique of blending in different wools to suggest falling light. It is even more accentuated when it actually does get caught in the light, and shadows fall.

They are designed so that they can be displayed from any angle. Which sometimes changes the mood of the piece.

This one is my favourite. 

I think of them as tiny escape hatches or contemplation pieces for when things get a bit much and the place you'd really like to be is on a quiet, faraway hill, with a tree or two and maybe a little house to seek refuge in.


The Troubles of Tatters

If one has a very large book collection amassed over many years, it is quite easy to overlook a particular treasure. I have owned this lovely volume, 'The Troubles of Tatters' for a long time and today I took it from the shelf and re-discovered the wonderful illustrations inside.

Very much in the style of it's time - the late 19th century - the artworks are typically Art Nouveau and remind me a little of Toulouse-Lautrec mingled with Arthur Rackham and a smidgen of Aubrey Beardsley. The illustrator was Alice B. Woodward, a prolific and well known illustrator in her time.

If I were being overly critical, I would say that the illustrator's strengths were in the motifs and half page designs. There are many full page plates, such as the one below but in my opinion, while being accomplished, they lack the punch and graphic impact of the smaller decorations, while her animals and insects have more character than the humans depicted.

I also have to confess, I have never actually read the book, being more interested in the wonderful designs.

It is lavishly illustrated and there are too many delightful images to show here, but these are some of my favorites.

Nothing says 'Art Nouveau' more than dragonflies. 


And so we come to the end - for myself, the sign of a beautifully designed book is on the back cover. It's the little details that count.


Slow hedge cutting

The time came ten days ago when I finally felt up to tackling the front yard. As you can see, it is a little overgrown. It has been for a few years. If anything expresses my life as it has been, it is this messy jungle.  So I fetched my secateurs and got to work.


It was a mish mash of mostly  honeysuckle, wild geraniums and some kind of jasmine, with assorted weeds for good measure. As with the rest of the garden, it has just had random things put in it, here and there. And some rocks.

Cutting back a large hedge with small secateurs may seem like a thankless task, but I enjoyed every minute of it. I could have got the shears out, or even borrowed a small hedge cutter, but this way I got to see exactly what was what and to know where everything I wanted to keep was rooted.

After a few sessions, you could actually see the fence and Joe helped me get the weeds out of the cracks. We disturbed an ants nest and one managed to get in my vest. It got its revenge by biting me a couple of times; the bites were tiny but extraordinarily painful for such a small creature.

The (possible) jasmine in the far corner is a bit of a beast, but it does provide cover all year round.

Yesterday, I had an afternoon session and finally cleared it. I just need to get rid of the rotten wooden trough now.

It does look bare, however a lovely person sent me some seeds in the post and hopefully I will be able to plant it up next year. Some are from the Brown Envelope Seed company, and some from the lovely Bealtaine Cottage.

Blessed are the seed givers. I look forward to the time when I too can send someone lovely little packets of garden treasure.


One potato, two potato

This week we picked the first courgette in the new vegetable patch.

It is quiche weather here, so the usual eggs were beaten up with a sprinkling of my first harvest of thyme and some chopped chives.

I had some left over pastry in the freezer, which is always a blessing; I greased the quiche tray with olive oil, giving it a nice summery flavour; that is why it appears a little translucent. In went the sliced courgette, with the herby, cheesy egg mixture.

We held our breath as we dug up the first early potato plant. Had anything grown? It had!

There were just enough potatoes on that first plant for both of us. The first ones I've grown since 2011, before moving here.

 And the quiche turned out well too. Another small step in the right direction.


A lot of motorbikes

 Last Sunday we drove out with Brian-next-door to our regular auction.

There was the usual mix of good things, bad and frankly bizarre things. 


I could only find a few things that I wanted, so after marking my sheet, we went outside where more interesting things were going on.

The UK attempt to beat the world record for an all female bike rally. Of course, there were plenty of blokes there, but only actual women bikers were registered for the count. It was a very happy occasion and I could have stayed outside taking pictures for much longer, had the auction not been about to start.

We were outside long enough to hear the tally of 1,132 recorded riders, beating a previous Australian meet up (of 1,002 riders). Bikes had come from all over the UK, of every shape, type and size. 

By the time we emerged, everyone was setting off home. I did manage to snag a couple of the things I wanted in the auction - but I enjoyed the bikes more.