Showing posts with label Winter. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Winter. Show all posts

Monday, 13 February 2017

Sussex and Silence

Silence.  Not always golden, but sometimes there seems nothing much to say.  

2017 did not get off to the best start for me, with the sad news that an old friend had died after three years on the rollercoaster that is cancer.  Someone very special to us as it was through his family that I met my husband, and someone whose life has threaded through mine for well over a decade now.  At 64, he was too young to die and had so much to live for.  A beautiful, loving wife and four children in their 20s. Children whose weddings he will never attend, grandchildren he will never hold and cherish, although his very close family will always hold him in their hearts.

Then there have been the usual winter bugs which strike and refuse to move on for weeks and which are still lingering now, but with the longer days and brighter sunshine (on the days we emerge from under the grey umbrella which dominates here in winter), I too am feeling brighter and hopefully recovering some of my lost energy.  But I feel I have lost the last few weeks and have spent most of them hibernating (and comforting myself with lots of Hygge and box sets) with only essential exeats. 

We did manage a trip to Sussex for the funeral, and we stayed on for a couple of days in sub-zero temperatures, enjoying an invigorating walk on Camber Sands watching the light bounce off the cold, clear water, followed by a whistle-stop tour of the ancient Cinque Port town of Rye, taking time to admire the beautiful 12th century Church of St Mary the Virgin, before driving home through the frost-bound countryside. 

How has 2017 been for you so far?  What do you have planned this year and are you longing, like me, for Spring to arrive?


Camber Sands


Beach houses, Camber Sands

Mermaid Street, Rye

St Mary the Virgin, Rye




Stained glass, St Mary the Virgin, Rye

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Winter in Amsterdam

Winter suits Amsterdam.  Even in mid-March there are still splinters of ice in the North wind and the cold blue-grey light is the perfect backdrop for the monochrome colour palette of the city, with its network of canals bordered by merchants houses, still as beautiful and harmonious today as when they were built.

We spent my recent birthday there, staying on the Herengracht, one of the prettiest canals in Amsterdam, browsing around the markets and churches, enjoying the ambiance in the cafes, shops and restaurants, and admiring the art in the museums and galleries, chatting with the very friendly locals and hopping on and off trams whilst trying to avoid the bikes which seem to come flying from all directions!  

Amsterdam has many faces and most of these photos were taken in the Nine Streets area near our hotel.  This area is lovely by day...







... and by night.  In the evenings, we would walk around the Nine Streets after dinner, admiring the stark winter-bare trees against the night sky and the lit-up windows of the beautiful old houses. 







 I was particularly fascinated by the shop windows, lit up at night and full of colour and life













A great city for a short break and one I look forward to revisiting one day.

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, 5 December 2014

The Ghosts of Christmas, Past and Present


Love it or loathe it, Christmas cannot be avoided in this part of the world, and I do love it, much as I dislike ongoing Christmas creep.  I know retailers need to profit from the orgy of spending we embark upon every midwinter, but I refuse to have much to do with Christmas until the beginning of December.  From then on, however, I embrace it enthusiastically.  The special excitement and anticipation I treasure from my own childhood has never deserted me and we all need to nurture our inner child.  I would always celebrate Christmas even if I didn't have a family but I know I am lucky to be part of a large combined family and there is always a lot of love around at Christmas.

As a child growing up as part of a large Irish Catholic family (now scattered to the four winds) on the outskirts of a large city in the North of England, Christmas was very much a time for church and family and with numerous aunts and uncles and 18 first cousins all living in the same city there was so much fun to be had just spending time together.   I'm sure there were tensions amongst the adults (I know there were tensions amongst the adults - my own parents, shockingly, separated and divorced; the family rift never healed), but we children had a wonderful time and no doubt drove our parents to drink.  Well, as I said, we were Irish.


I have strong memories of cold houses with ice patterns blooming on the inside of the window panes, our breath misting in the bedrooms as we dressed hastily in the mornings, the small, artificial Christmas tree being brought down lovingly from the attic to the sitting room on Christmas Eve and festooned with ancient baubles, the same ones every year, and a string of coloured Christmas lights with a fairy on top - there was always fierce competition to be the one who put the fairy on top.  I remember being woken from a deep sleep at 11 o'clock at night, bundling up into warm clothes, then the long freezing walk to church for Midnight Mass through the clear, frosty, starlit night, cold red chapped knees and rosy cheeks glowing, then back to bed longing to wake up to the weight of the freshly-filled stocking, stuffed with fruit and nuts, chocolate money and tiny treats lying across my feet, and just one very special, much-longed for new toy.  


At eight years old, I was actually secretly disappointed to be given this gorgeous book which I now treasure and will pass on to my grandchildren... 



  
... but I was thrilled to find this baby doll at the end of my bed one year (she had more hair then) and  I wish I could remember what I called her all those years ago.  But what I really, really wanted for Christmas was a kitten and that I couldn't have, my father being allergic, or so he said.  Of course, ever since I have collected cats and currently have three sharing my life and scratching the furniture, part of my animal family, and books and children have continued to be a huge part of my life.


Now my partner and I have a big combined family of seven young adults, many with partners of their own and one living in another country with his small daughter and Christmas has evolved to accommodate our new circumstances.  We no longer focus on Christmas day as, with so many families in the mix, we all need to be flexible and we would hate the children to feel they have to come, so we just try to spend time with as many of our children as we can reasonably see in the run-up to Christmas and spread the pleasure of a big family Christmas.  It works for us.


Tuesday, 21 January 2014

London - Winter Walk


    I love the light shining through the winter-bare trees, just before dusk


    the stark, strong lines of the Albert Bridge seen through the bare branches


   the fast-flowing River Thames which continues to thread through my life


   and the wonderful London parks - the lungs of this beautiful City.

  Taken in Battersea Park, London, January 2014

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.