Friday 28 May 2021

No Mow May

Hello Friends!

The Merrie Merrie Month of May is nearly spent, and I took part in No Mow May, a conservation project that began in the UK, but which is now gathering global momentum.  You can read about it HERE if you wish to do so.

So, in a nutshell, it's all about not mowing your lawn for the entire month to allow beneficial conditions for small wildlife and insects to have a chance to breed and feed as the world moves into late spring.  

It wasn't a hardship to not mow for a month, but it's going to be a push to get the mower through the first time!  

Here's some of what I've recorded:

Some grasses and plantain

Daisies and Buttercup 


Naturally, there are Dandelions

and the one that makes me happiest of all ~

Milkmaid's Smock

I found one growing in my lawn a few years ago, and cautiously mowed around it for weeks, the following year there were two or three, then last year none, but this year it's back in profusion, and maybe eighteen plants.  I am finding it everywhere I turn! I am thrilled.

It is a valuable food source for one of my favourite butterflies, the Orange Tip.

What are you doing to help and encourage wildlife, especially bees, in your garden?   You can be Bee and Wildlife Friendly even if you only have a window box, or a few pots on a balcony.

Until next time
Stay Safe, Stay Well

Wednesday 19 May 2021

Stained Glass and Cut Grass

Hello Friends!

I plucked up courage and went inside a church this week for the first time in over 14 months.  You will be shocked that it was not the Cathedral, I'm sure, but I have my reasons, and it was all very carefully planned.

As some of you know, I recently lost a very dear friend, suddenly and unexpectedly.  We had no warning, no time to say goodbye.  She had been on my mind for a few days and I'd been meaning to phone her, but I didn't and now it's too late.   I wanted to light a candle for her, which is something I do on times such as this, and especially as I cannot attend her funeral.  As I say, it was carefully planned, yet despite the planning I still panicked when I got there.

The walk down was delightful, it makes me want to sing out loud {I assure you that this would not be a good thing, so I restrained myself}; not too hot; a perfect blue sky; calm with a gentle spring breeze and enough sway for the Cow Parsley and grasses to dance delightfully in tune with my steps.  Every step I put in front of the other was made with a grateful heart full of joy in honour of a beautiful day, and remembering my friend who enjoyed this part of the world so much.  We've been blessed with some delightful weather of late, if a trifle cold, but hatches are battened for the coming days which bring change.

The reason I picked the Chapel of Our Lady and Saint Non, which sits on a high clifftop, overlooking Saint Bride's Bay and the wild Atlantic Ocean is that it would, hopefully, be much less busy than the more popular Cathedral, and right now the Cathedral is operating on a timed ticket only entry system.  I did not want to take up an entry slot just to light a candle.  That seemed a little selfish to do.

This chapel was built in 1934 and stands in the grounds of Saint Non's Retreat.

I left my cottage early, purposely to make an attempt to avoid too many other people.  I encountered a couple of coast path walkers who turned right on to the coast path, not headed the same way I was headed, so I was okay!  

I arrived to find the door slightly ajar, and I put on my mask, as required, and gelled my hands with sanitiser.  It is all arranged inside in accordance with current guidelines. I brought my own matches from home to avoid touching their lighter, and I lit the candle carefully, as alcohol based hand sanitiser is flammable!  

As I was on my own, I took the opportunity to take a few photos; they are not brilliant as they're on my phone, and by now I was starting to panic a bit.  I noticed a small card on the altar, it contained a prayer for our deliverance from the Pandemic.  I stood by the altar and read it aloud.

The stained glass over the altar did not come out, but it shows Saint Non.

The four windows are of:

Saint Bride

Saint Winifred

Saint Brynach

Saint David

As you emerge from the dark interior, you are greeted by the most magnificent view of the coastline, facing south and west.  You get an idea of how near the coast path this precious little chapel sits.

Before heading home, a last look back at the Chapel

Near the {open, no touching needed} gate, the ox eye daisies flower in grand profusion. 

and further along, on the flat edge of the path, are spikes of pennywort, which I've never seen on the ground, only growing up a wall.

My heart leaped with joy when I spotted my first flowering foxglove spike of the year, but sadly there was a group of breakfast picnickers sitting just a little bit too close to it for me to get a photo.  Still, it brings hope that soon more will follow!

The fields that line the road are no longer the lush, verdant green of recent weeks, rather they are now the colour of pale, golden straw, for they have been mowed in the last day or two for a cut of silage.

Until next time
Stay Safe, Stay Well

Saturday 15 May 2021

More Than Just Words

Hello Friends!

Recently, I have been poring over old documents and family records, most of which are of no interest to anyone, however, I came across a handful of letters which, while of no interest to anyone other than me, I found some very telling facts about how our attitude to smoking has changed.

I have cropped and edited the letters for security and personal reasons.

When my Grandfather was taken very seriously ill during the late 1940's, he required specialist care which could only be provided at a specialist hospital over 60 miles away.  As my family were not able to afford a car, and my Grandmother had to continue working to support the family, visiting him was nigh on impossible, unless she could secure a day off on one of the incredibly scant visiting days, along with an offer of transport, for travelling 60 miles by bus, with at least two changes of service for a strictly governed hour and a half of visiting {many will remember Matron and her Visiting Bell} it was a logistical nightmare, as you will see here:

It seems Draconian, doesn't it?  Then, we think of what is happening now with no visiting of loved ones in hospitals and care homes allowed for the past year or longer due to the pandemic.  At least today there is technology to support virtual visiting.  Yet, one thing remains the same: how hard it must have been to know you may never see your loved one again.

The following excerpts say more about the times and the attitude towards smoking than I have ever seen.  Remember, these letters came from a person in charge!

Just look at the fact that he was allowed to smoke in bed in hospital!  As I said, very telling letters indeed.
{The cost of tobacco must have gone up a penny!}

The final letter I will share was written after he had passed away.  Everything I have ever heard about my Dadcu is that he was kind, considerate, and a gentle man.  It must have brought some comfort to my Grandmother and Mother that his illness and hospital confinement, which was very long indeed, did not affect his temperament.  What a wonderful way to go, to just gently slip away while enjoying one last cigarette.  Such a gentle way of describing how he simply slipped away to God's keeping.

I am typing now with tears running down my face.

I hope you have enjoyed seeing this little glimpse into the past.  Letters are such wonderful things, and contain so much more than words.  They have no value to anyone, so I plan to offer them to the local Historical Society.

Until next time
Stay Safe, Stay Well

Sunday 9 May 2021

Painting a Picture

Hello Friends!

I was recently given this lovely colouring book. What makes it special, and more exciting than my other colouring books is that this one is all printed on quality watercolour stock.  This means I can use my favourite wet mediums without buckling or tearing the paper.

The illustrations are also printed in light grey scale, so unlike most dry medium colouring books, the lines disappear once painted, instead of remaining highly visible on the finished piece.

I found my set of Inktense blocks, which I feel will give me the best selection of colours to do the chosen piece of two gourds.

Of course, this wouldn't be me without a blunder.

I didn't know there was a page of instructions in the book, which had stuck together.

So, by the time I found them, I'd already started and gone about it the wrong way.  I had also picked up the wrong colour and put it down in the wrong section.  C'est la vie!

Onward and upward.

I started using the instructions, back peddling now to try and save the day, laying down the colour where it shoud have been put in the first place.  I have to say, if you didn't know, it isn't too bad.

However, this is what it should be more akin to.  Then again, it is the first layers and will be built up.

I shouldn't say it, but I am mightily chuffed with the stem.  It's turned out well.  I keep on wanting to touch it.

I must contain myself and let well alone, not fiddle with it any more, and hope that I can recover the earlier mistake on the body of the gourd to better match the stem.

It may seem like a lot of photos, but there's method in the madness.  Keeping a good photographic record of each stage helps me learn from my mistakes, a visual step by step of progress.  It becomes an invaluable tool.  I do end up with a lot of similar looking images, but each one is different to the previous set.

Later on, they can be put side by side, as each layer happens, or a colour change is made.

Digital photograpy is a superb tool in this process as it time and date stamps each photo, so if you forget to tag, the process keeps in order.

I won't bore you with all the stages, here's the end result ~ et voilĂ  

I had to make myself stop.  That's always a problem I have, knowing when it's done.

I also took an online, hour long, paint along tutorial hosted by Matthew Palmer.  I found it very difficult to keep up as I had to keep changing glasses due to near vision issues between screen and workspace.  So, it's a bit of a mess.  Also, because it was simultaneously broadcast in America, it was late in the evening here {almost bedtime} and I found working under artificial light my grey mixed up to more of a purple.  Anyway, for those who haven't seen it, this is what I ended up with.  The waterfall is abysmal indeed.

Then the next day, I did this one trying to remember what to do.  I didn't have masking tape, so used pretty, low tack Washi instead.  I didn't do another waterfall, and used the purple paint to create some misty mountains.

Removing the tape to reveal a border makes a huge difference, even when the painting is awful.

I've been working in the garden, more off than on in the cold, and taking lots of walks, as well as painting,  Gardening and walking when the weather is good, painting for when it is not good.  I'll never be any good at painting, but it makes me very happy to putter for a few hours.

Until next time
Stay Safe, Stay Well

Wednesday 5 May 2021

After The Rain and the Wind

Hello Friends!

Just a quick pop in otherwise this will be out of date and there'll be no point in sharing.  Hope you are all doing well and keeping safe with Hands, Face,  Space as lockdown is slowly eased?

The bad weather came, and came with vengeance!  The winds blew gustily for over a day, up to 70mph in the midst of it all. And it rained, at times, torrentially.

After so long without very strong winds, by juxtaposition, it seemed so much more brutal than it actually was.  After all, for most of April it's been dry and fairly wind free, an alien concept for where I live. When you are used to living in a wind tunnel, high winds are something you get used to.  April was cold but a welcome change from endless windy and wet days we generally see.  Most of us never dreamed we'd actually be praying for rain in April, or the start of May as it turned out.  We certainly caught up over the weekend!

Then, as the winds slowly eased up, I was hoping to get out to the garden, but as the sun started to shine and the clouds started to leave, suddenly the sky went dark and the heavens opened with a hail storm barrelling in out of nowhere.  A sting in the tail!

I rushed to my phone and hit record, something I've decided I'm going to get used to having since I got a Smartphone three years ago.  It's about time I learned to use the features.  So, here's what happened.

Not very pretty, and I'm glad I didn't have laundry out, nor was I out walking!  I saw my neighbours give up trying to bring their laundry in. Can you believe that it only lasted a few minutes?  As soon as it was over, the sky was blue again!

Also, I finally plucked up the courage to pop into a shop!  Well, not exactly pop, it takes me days to mentally prepare, with all the planning and self talk that I can do this.  I arrived right as they opened, and I did breathing exercises so I averted the panic attack I felt starting, donned my mask, and over the threshold I stepped. There were signs advising how many could be inside at any one time, with "one out, one in" in place; a lovely, large hand sanitising station; the floor clearly marked with tape for social distancing; and clear plexiglass screens at the counter and till point.  The staff all wore masks, were incredibly helpful, and I was the only person in store!  

When I came out, this was the glorious view down the Cross Square towards the Cathedral in the valley below.

How fresh and clean it all looks after the weekend weather washed away the dust!  And, not busy at all! Who knows, maybe I'll go shopping again soon?  I have another shop I love, and miss heaps, in the village, a super deli where I can buy some treats to eat and drink.  In the meantime, you will find me in the garden.

Until next time
Stay Safe, Stay Well.

A Short Walk

Hello Friends!

I'm doing my best now to get out and about to revel in the glorious Spring weather. It's been a long winter for all of us. I have always carried my camera, but lately have been relying on my phone.  However, I've now started taking the camera as well.  Won't you come along?

Walking is so much more to me than fresh air and exercise. I love strolling along finding things to capture with my camera, but I also find walking is so very good for my spirit too.  Who could not be uplifted when surrounded by such natural beauty?

Right now, the spring weather is incredible.  Each day brings crystal clear blue skies, often cloudless, just blue from horizon to horizon.  Everything seems cleaner and clearer, colours are sharper than I ever recall.  Birdsong is sharper and chirpier, and the heady scent of spring blossoms is intoxicating. I don't know if this is because of the lack of air pollution as a result of Covid travel restrictions, or if it is because I have been hunkered down, indoors, for most of the year, only venturing into the village for my monthly prescription, scurrying along with my head down.  Whatever the reason, it's a pure delight for the senses.

The only down side is we're not getting any rain, and although it's wonderful to be dry when working in the garden, I'm already having to water, and my lawn is yellowing up not so nicely.  April showers did not come, so will we see the flowers that bloom in May?  None of us ever thought we'd be crying out for rain in April.

The wind that blows is coming from the east and north, a cold and drying wind, that chills to the bone, and the sea does not whip into the usual frenzy of white horses we see when it blows more warmly from the south and the west.  Bands of calm, still, blue ocean and a cloudless blue sky contrast against lush, verdant green pastures where the candy floss puffy, fluffy cotton creamy sheep graze, somehow anchored firmly, for they look as if they'd just blow away on the breeze.

Rich, yellow gorse, and dreamy, bridal white blackthorn border the ancient stone walls that form the enclosures and fields that spread across the Shire like a big, patchwork quilt of viridescent green. 

Just look at those distant miniature forests of gorse!

The blackthorn will bring forth sloes, later in the year, and many a bottle of sloe gin will be maturing over the autumn months ready to warm the cockles of our hearts on a long, cold walk in winter.  My hip flask is ready and waiting!  We'll raise a glass to absent friends on Christmas Day while sitting around the fire.

We've had a little rain overnight, just enough to wash the dust away, but it's all change this weekend.  Wouldn't you know it? May Day Bank Holiday weekend and Bank Holiday Monday is set to bring forth heavy rain {not good when the ground is so dry as it will run off and not soak in} and gale force winds {ugh}.  So, I'm making the most of the lovely days, and once more the old familiar routing of battening hatches happens.  It's the visitors and holiday makers I feel for, with limited places open to visitors, what will they do?  Sit in their holiday accommodation, or wander around in the wild, windy, wet Welsh weather? 

Until next time
Stay Safe, Stay Well