Swallows wheeled about in the sky all around me on the clifftop this morning. Large flocks of them calling to each other and riding the thermals from the sea, feeding up for their long migration south for the winter. I walked along slowly, taking it all in while the dog snuffled in bushes – such a magical moment. There”s are sights, smells and sounds particular to autumn, aren’t there? Berry-laden bushes, cobwebs everywhere, flocks of birds leaving, others arriving, leaves turning… As I walked back to the house through the garden, I spotted a couple of golden bells of Clematis tangutica (golden clematis) in the wildflower patch under the fruit trees. We don’t want clematis growing here so I went back out again to snip off the tendrils and cut a few white Japanese anemones that are growing in the steps to put together a simple Monday vase.
I also have jars and jugs of zinnias in the house – the colours are more muted than the very bright colours in summer but still lovely.
I used to spend more time than I had spare gazing out to sea when we first moved here. After a while, I got used to the view (you have to get on with daily life!) but there were several moments yesterday when we had to stop and stare at the dramatic skies and the serene view.
It’s the last day of the school holidays here and my three are making the most of it, i.e. at midday one is still in bed and the other two are lying on sofas plugged into their devices. To be fair, it’s a dull old rainy day which makes everyone feel lethargic and not inclined to rush about doing all the last-minute back-to-school jobs, plus we’ve run out of breakfast cereal.
While there’s a lull in proceedings, I’ve picked flowers for a Monday vase (I’ve missed it these past few weeks) and set about photographing them with one of the best birthday presents I’ve ever had – a Nikon camera! As well as a fantastic new DSLR to play with, my mum handed me this gorgeous jug yesterday – it was my grandmother’s and she thought I’d like it for flowers. Isn’t it lovely? It’s a little chipped and worn but it holds such happy memories of my dear grandma and I love it.
The contents of the jug are: zinnias, pink Japanese anemones, Verbena bonariensis, poppy seed heads, Miscanthus flowers, jasmine leaves, a spire of Heuchera flowers, dried lavender and a lovely copper-coloured osteospermum. It’s definitely a late-summer-blending-into-autumn collection of blooms. As usual, I’m joining Cathy at Rambling in the Garden who is showcasing a gorgeous ‘Cafe au Lait’ dahlia today.
The village show on Saturday went really well, especially for David. His sourdough loaf won the ‘best home produce’ cup AND the overall ‘best exhibit in the show’ (a large shiny) cup! My son and daughter shared the cash prize for ‘5 meringues’ (he won but they agreed beforehand to split it as they were the only two who entered…), our ‘7 raspberries’ came first and second and my little milk jug of flowers was highly commended (which means it didn’t come first, second or third but the judge thought it had some merit). I also entered these zinnias into the ‘5 flowers of any annual’ and they won 🙂 A happy outcome all round for our family.
Right, I’m off to the supermarket. Wishing you a thoroughly good week whatever you’re doing.
It’s the last day of August and the school holidays are almost over. Other parents of school-age children will recognise marking the passing years in school terms – we’ve had 13 years of them so far in this family and next school year will be our eldest’s final one. It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was rushing to get him to school by 8.45am with a baby and a toddler in tow. My perception of time seems to concertina and bow at the moment; something to do with middle age and teenage children!
I’ve temporarily taken my foot off the pedal with my blog and Instagram. It felt right to spend less time online and looking at screens, especially as I’m trying to help my daughter step away from social media a little. She has been experiencing the downside of it – girls’ social interactions are complicated and can be subtly cruel; there have been tears. I am grateful that I’m around to listen to her, give hugs and be a sounding board.
My middle son loved his trip to Madrid. The whole experience, from travelling with a couple of friends and no adult, to eating proper tapas and paella and staying with his Spanish friend’s family, was hugely positive. They took him to the Real Jardin Botanico de Madrid (lucky thing) and he even enjoyed that!
We had a grown-up party at the weekend and incredibly the weather was amazing – warm and still, with a crescent moon in the sky – we were so lucky and it meant the party could be mostly outdoors (phew). There were fairy lights festooned about the place and tealights in jam jars along the garden walls, straw bales for people to sit on around a fire and dancing indoors. I’d made all the food the day before – beef tacos, Moroccan chicken and a squash and spinach curry – and we had fig tarts (with more of our neighbours figs!), mini scones and other delicious puddings from friends. A load of friends and family came along and we had a blast. It took a few days to recover.
In the run-up to the party, I’d written many lists to keep track of everything: who was coming, food, drink, seating, lighting, music, etc. As someone who is an inveterate list-maker, I loved listening to Jenny Eclair is Listless Today recently on Radio 4 about why women write so many lists, especially to-do lists. Did you hear it? I always feel more in control when I’ve written a list (even if I’m not actually) and even better when I cross things off.
My favourite flowers in the garden this summer have been the zinnias. They took a while to get into their stride with flowering but they’ve been loving the hot, dry weather and I’ve picked many handfuls of bright blooms. They last really well – at least a week – in a vase, too. There’s something about their shapes and colours that just cheers me up. I’ll definitely grow them again next year.
My jam pan is full of raspberries and sugar macerating ready to be boiled up into jam later. I’ve made several jars already but I’ll keep going while there’s fruit still coming. Opening a jar of fragrant homemade jam in the depths of winter, when it’s dark and miserable outside, will remind me of long summer days, the heat of the sun on my back as I pick fruit from the bushes, my fingers stained with raspberry juice.
It’s the Late Summer Show in the village hall on Saturday. I’m entering a cake (a ‘fruity banana bread’), ‘7 raspberries’ and maybe the ‘flower arrangement in a milk jug’, if I have time. The bread class is a sourdough loaf, so David’s entering that and my daughter is planning to make ‘5 meringues’. I’ll be helping to set it all up and put it all away at the end, then we’ll be cracking open a bottle left over from the party.
I hope you’re enjoying this last day of August and have a lovely weekend. Thank you for stopping by.