Showing posts with label Suffolk. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Suffolk. Show all posts

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Have a Happy Christmas!



Christmas is coming on like an express train!  Where does time go?  How can it be Christmas again so soon?  And why do I need three Christmas trees this year?  I always get carried away at Christmas.

This afternoon was spent at the church carol service, with a cameo Nativity play put on by the local children.  Just as charming as I remember from when my own children were small and happily donned tea towels round their heads to become shepherds.  Mulled wine and mince pies were served afterwards in the village hall and I swear we could have been in Ambridge.  I kept listening out for the hurdy gurdy of the Archers theme tune!





We won't have snow in Suffolk this Christmas, too mild, but I love these wonderfully evocative lines from Christina Rossetti's poem, which we sang in the ancient Suffolk church today.  The church where we were married just over 18 months ago.  

Wishing you all a wonderful (hygge) Christmas!

'In the bleak midwinter, frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow, snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter, long ago'
Christina Rossetti

Friday, 18 November 2016

Woodland Walk


There is a perfect moment each Autumn, when the trees are hanging onto the last of their leaves before the storms strip them bare for the winter...




... a secret place for two lively dogs to explore




This wet little dog has never seen Autumn before but he had no trouble finding the stream at the bottom of the valley



We are so lucky to have this ancient woodland just a few minutes walk from our home and usually have it all to ourselves, apart from bluebell time when it is full of families enjoying picnics and making dens.  We tend to avoid the woods then as the dogs don't take kindly to being walked on a leash and are strangely unwelcome, storming through someone's idyllic picnic!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Blue Bedroom

One blue-grey and white bedroom finished, apart from re-carpeting.  Another time.  I love the colour, which changes with the light and the time of day and works well with the curtains we put up a few years ago, after a sailing holiday in Holland.  They remind me of washed-out Dutch skies, and the walls needed to fit that theme too.  It's a very soft and restful colour and I am enjoying adding the finishing touches.  

The old french chair was re-upholstered using an antique french sheet, and the cushion was made from french fabrics found in flea markets by Jenny at Rosehip in Long Melford.  One of my favourite Suffolk shops.  The flower painting is by a local artist and I crocheted the shawl myself over 40 years ago while on holiday in Ibiza with my then husband, when our love was new.  A few years later our newborn babies were wrapped up in it, to keep them warm.  


I found this botanical painting in the Voewood book and art shop closing down sale in the North Norfolk town of Holt, where we spent our short honeymoon last May.  The picture is painted on vellum, as was the fashion in the 18th century when these paintings were so popular.  It looks very comfortable in its new frame above what used to be my children's bookshelf.  Everything has a history and carries memories.

Perhaps the next project is to paint some of the rather dated pine furniture a soft off-white. Something to keep me busy in the Autumn when the garden is less demanding.


Clothes, shoes, cushions, handbags and scarves, all magically disappeared into the spacious wardrobe in the corner of the room!

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Staying put

The subconscious plays strange tricks.  Deciding to acquire Oskar, our new puppy, was an emotional decision and totally impractical given our plans to move house and downsize to a busier, more urban environment with better facilites and transport links to our growing extended family, preferably back in the rather overcrowded South East of England where we brought up our children (despite this being our second marriage, the children grew up in the same area and were educated at the same school, so lots of ties there). 
All sensible, reasonable, carefully thought through and definitely achievable with one older, settled dog (and the three cats who are well used to upping sticks anyway). But the subconscious was having none of it!

We are still enjoying a love affair with our pretty village house, very much off the beaten track and on the road to nowhere in particular, and with the gorgeous countryside that surrounds us. We can step out of our gate and be in fields in minutes, well away from noise, traffic and pollution and revelling in the space and unspoilt beauty of this part of Suffolk.  Ideal for dog walking and yet within driving distance of so many places we enjoy visiting.  Perhaps if we had found another house we could fall in love with, our decision would have been different, although given the cost and disruption of a house move, it would have had to be very special indeed.  

I have also had to face the fact that my wish to move is very much linked to a strong desire to turn the clock back.  Back to a time and place where I was happy in my role as mother and daughter, where I had a job I enjoyed and found interesting and was surrounded by like-minded friends, very much the hub of my family and part of a community, but life has moved on, choices have been made and for now, it is clear that Oskar has helped us to crystallise our thoughts and, after two years of uncertainty and playing the options, tolerating hoards of strangers tramping through our much loved home, always believing that there would be the perfect house for us out there, we are settling for what we have.  We are simply not ready to give up our country life yet. The colour charts have come out and I am having Rightmove withdrawal symptoms, but we do have two happy, contented dogs (and the cats would be relieved too)!  Of course Oskar is totally oblivious to his role in our decision and is happily getting on with the business of being a puppy but he has certainly changed our lives in more ways than one and I have found out why I needed him in my life.


Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Brand new world - living with a puppy


Every day is a new adventure for Oskar.  The world to him is brand new and surprising, or startling or frightening, and it is refreshing to see it through his three month old puppy eyes.  

This week has been a pivotal week for us, as he is now allowed out into the wider world, vaccinations having taken.  He loves his short walks but has to become accustomed to the constraints of a lead as he tears headlong through the village, snuffling and sniffing, stopping in wonder and terror for every car that goes by (no pavements for us to shelter on). 


He has to learn to travel in the back of the car, behind the dog guard, and not to be afraid as the world whizzes by, and he has started puppy school - a safe place to meet other puppies and learn a few basic skills.  He is also becoming a firm favourite in the village pub, where he has to learn to stay close to us and not to make a noise, yelping and barking. Today he met his first horse walking up the hill near our home, followed by a bike.  So much to see and do and absorb.



His life is a social whirl now and he is welcome everywhere he goes.  Children exclaim and stop and pet him, parents and grandparents rush over to say hello and other dogs sniff him curiously.  The party is definitely wherever he is!  Our older dog looks on with a rather jaundiced eye, the centre of attention no longer and nose temporarily out of joint, but she graciously puppy-sits him every night for us which is a great relief. 


Life has changed in the four weeks since we brought him home, our world has shrunk to the village with short trips further afield limited by his nap times.  We are on puppy duty from 7am to 10pm with nap breaks, and it is wearing but rewarding too.  Putting in time and hard work with him now will pay dividends in the future, but I am looking forward to having two dogs quietly settled in front of the wood burning stove one day, and running free on our rambles, enjoying the country walks that are such an important part of our lives here in Suffolk.

Friday, 29 January 2016

... of Puppies and Frosty Morning Walks

Life changing moments don't always announce themselves with a great fanfare.  A week ago, as I took an early morning walk with my camera, enchanted by the hoar frost which had transformed the mundane into the magical, I wasn't thinking of acquiring another dog just yet, if at all. 

Somewhere in my head, these last 30 years or so, I have carried a picture of two dogs, one black, one blond, sharing my life and although over the years I have usually had one dog to accompany me on my walks, two seemed an impossible dream; time, space, money, practical considerations all held me back.  

So when my sister-in-law phoned me to tell me about her new puppy, a working cocker cross, with brothers and sisters waiting for their forever homes, I really tried hard to say no.  Taking on another dog, rather like having another child, is a massive commitment and there is rarely a perfect moment, but she convinced me that this was a litter worth looking at, both parents living in a home environment and the puppies being raised in the house with children, all beautiful, healthy and well balanced. 

I think the point of no return came when I picked up the phone just to have a chat with the breeder and found myself making an appointment to visit.  My husband was no help at all and frankly encouraged me in achieving this long held dream and somehow we went from 'shall we have another dog' to 'which puppy shall we choose'? (actually, he chose us).  After all, if not now, when?  Crazy I know but we will find a way to make it work and still have our freedom too.  After all, if you have one dog, how much more of a problem can two be?  No doubt we shall find out, but we are committed now and delighted to welcome Oskar to our family.

Are you a pet lover?  Would you have been sensible, or like me, would you have followed your heart?




and some frosty Suffolk village scenes...










Friday, 8 January 2016

Time to Commit

Walking alone today on a rare clear, sunny but very cold winter's day, with our young yellow Labrador, was a good opportunity for contemplation as another year begins its cycle.  Christmas already seems a distant memory as our lovely tree stands naked, propped against the brown bin, waiting to be recycled, which is the best we can offer in return for bringing a little magic into our home.  I do hate putting Christmas away and yet there is something liberating about the space created.  The almost empty calendar is pinned up in the kitchen waiting to be filled with whatever form our lives will take this year, a blank page waiting for its fill of the special and not so special occasions which make up a life.  

Last year was a very special year as we finally celebrated our marriage and also witnessed my youngest stepson marry his girlfriend of the last eight years.  There was, sadly, my father-in-law's funeral, attended by most of his steadily increasing family - a fine testament to his life but a sad loss to those who knew him. There is another big family wedding already booked in for June this year, my step-daughter, and another engagement has just been announced.  Perhaps there will be more grandchildren soon - an empty nest and no grandchild of my own yet is both an opportunity and a vacuum.

But, as I walked through the empty Suffolk countryside this morning, what was really on my mind was the need to commit.  Our house has been on and off the market for most of the last two years as we try and work out how it is we want to live, what is important to us, what is possible and what is just an impossible dream. Moving to Suffolk over 6 years ago, after more than 20 years living and raising my children on the Kent/Sussex border, has been a mixed experience and I have struggled to settle here.  

We have come to love this strange, relatively empty and unspoilt county with its huge skies and stunning coast line, which we were lucky enough to explore on our boat when we kept it here.  The rivers are beautiful and we appreciate the sense of space, the beautifully painted houses, the ancient towns and villages which nestle in the valleys and the warmth and friendliness of the people who make their lives here.  What I have missed, though, are the deep connections I formed during those years of school runs, plays, matches, parents' evenings, putting down deep roots in a community which takes a long time.  So, for over a year, we have really explored the possibility of going back to Kent/East Sussex and have spent a lot of time visiting the area, catching up with old friends, trying to decide if this is a real possibility or if life has just moved on too far, whether we are just chasing a dream and letting go of something that has real value to us here.  


Boxford
Walberswick
Clare
Snape
Aldeburgh
The Stour
The Orwell at Pin Mill
Butt & Oyster
Ponies at Pin Mill
 There are, of course, options three and four! Renting out our house and renting another, almost anywhere, for a year and really shaking things up.  The Ari├Ęge beckons... I have always dreamed of living in France for a while.  Or we could move almost anywhere else in the country - the Yorkshire Dales are proving a big draw at the moment as long as there isn't a river nearby.  

One way or another, the challenge this year is to commit and then to make whatever we decide to do be the right choice.  

What challenges do you face this year, what decisions and life events are on the horizon?

Monday, 4 November 2013

Gratitude - Autumn Walk



Today I am grateful for... 

...the wind in my hair, 
the damp, green autumn grass under my feet, 
the sunlight streaming through the trees, glinting on the last of the falling leaves, 
the quiet embrace of the empty woods and the peace that I find there, 
the muddy stream running through the valley, 
the uncut, faded grass in the meadow where wild flowers grow in the summer 
and the ecstatic freedom of my beautiful, bouncing, bounding, young yellow Labrador as she keeps me company on my walk, 
but most of all I am grateful for the lives and the love of my three beautiful boys. 


Monday, 13 May 2013

May - Morning Walk


                                               
Bluebell wood


Beautiful blond labrador, looking for trouble

Contrasts

Shady country lane

Moody Suffolk skies

Dog tired and very muddy



Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Winter's Icy Grip

Disappointingly, February has failed to live up to her early promise and is busy reminding us that Winter is not yet ready to release its icy grip.

Tramping through the snow-bound fields with Asha, our yellow labrador, the iron-grey sky sealing us into the monochrome landscape, it was a real pleasure to see a few brave yellow daffodils pushing through the crust of snow.


A promise that the English winter must end soon, the sun will shine again and the Spring flowers in this Suffolk meadow will return once more.