Sunday 27 March 2016

Easter celebrations

Easter has come to my seasonal tree now, and the multitude of eggs have arrived!  I do like this time of year when the clocks go forward and the light is with us for longer.  If we get a bit of sunshine, it's even better!
 I baked some biscuits in the shape of chicks and rabbits.
 I also received my Easter swap from Amanda at Graham's Landing.  The swap was organised by Kimberley at Creative Chaos  and was another lovely swap to be part of.  Amanda had wrapped the parcels in pretty pastel tissue paper.
 Here's what was inside:  rabbit chocolates, pastel ribbon, Easter stickers, Easter chicks, egg decorations, eggs in nests, a Happy Easter decoration and a knitted chick.
 The knitted chick was really sweet...
 ...and it also held rather a yummy surprise!
 Here's what I sent to Amanda: cupcake cases and decorations, mini eggs, Easter cutters, cosmos seeds, ribbon, a chick decoration and a felt decoration with some jewellery (of course!).  A Huge Thank You to Amanda for her generosity and for being such a great swap partner and thanks also to Kimberley for organising the swap.
I think this says it all - for those who celebrate it, have a very Happy Easter.

Monday 21 March 2016

Two swaps

 I have taken part in lots of swaps so far this year and here is the Stationery Swap (organised by Tracy from Mad About Bags).  I was partnered with Amanda from Graham's Landing and we did the usual email chat to find out likes and dislikes and got swapping.  I was stunned by Amanda's generosity!  We had to swap five things, one of which needed to be hand made. I loved the beautiful tissue paper the gifts were wrapped in.
 Here is a photo of the whole parcel - Amanda had put together a wonderful mixture of unusual items...
 ...stickers, postcards, number pegs, envelopes...
 ...writing set, notebook and more stickers and trims.  There was also a lovely felted notebook cover with a heart.  I love it all - you can never have too much stationery, can you?  Thank you so much to Amanda for being a fantastic swap partner.
Here's what I sent to Amanda, including a bookmark I made incorporating some of her favourite blues.  It was a great swap and thanks to Tracy for organising.
The other swap I recently took part in was organised by Kimberley from Creative Chaos and I was partnered with the lady herself!  (I must say how fantastic the postal service was - my parcel got to New Zealand in five and a half days!)  This was the Send Us Your Country swap and the idea was to do just that - send things from your country and your area.  Again, I have to say how generous people are in blog swaps!  The photo above shows the mountain of goodies Kimberley sent to me.
Lovely wool socks, tea...
sweets, a Kiwi pencil, postcards, a kiwi key ring...
 a beautiful bright and vibrant bag (perfect for shopping!)...
 a gorgeous cushion featuring New Zealand flora and fauna (Kiwi and Tui birds)...
...the sweets and chocolate haven't lasted long, but were much enjoyed!  Thank you so much to Kimberley for both organising the swap and being such a wonderful swap partner.
Here's what I sent to Kimberley - Lincolnshire postcards and note cards, a ceramic K by a local maker, stationery items, English Breakfast tea from a local tea shop, a bracelet and felt heart, fridge magnets and ribbon.
I have been so lucky with my swap partners (and all the lovely gifts I have been sent) and have really enjoyed taking part in all the swaps I have done over the years.
There are two more swaps to report back on in the next week or so - an Easter swap and a Tea cup/Mug exchange.

Tuesday 15 March 2016

In the Garden

 I spent a very happy couple of hours in the garden on Sunday, making the most of the sunny weather.  I did some cutting back and a little tidying of wayward stems.  I also had a good look round to see what was progressing.  Above is Lathyrus Vernus which I always look forward to seeing in Spring.  This one has pink and white flowers, rather than the usual purple and blue.
 One of my patio peonies from last year is budding up nicely.  I have recently bought two more bare root patio peonies which I potted up so I hope they will do well.
 Tulips are just starting to nose out of the soil.
 A little further down the garden, in a bit more sun, more tulips.
 The crocuses were very pleased to see the sun too.
 A few flowers from Prunus Kojo-no-Mai have opened too.
 White phlox plants are just starting to grow.
 White crocus 'Jeanne D'Arc' are looking lovely - you can just make out a pale lilac line inside the flower leading to the stigma and stamens.
 You might be able to see the lilac line better in this close up.
 I still have some snowdrops in flower in this rather full pot.  Some dividing may be required I think.
 The other hellebores are in flower now too.
 They needed a bit of support in order to see into the flowers.
 An erythronium 'Rose Queen' (Dog's Tooth Violet) is also starting to grow.   This was rather dry when I planted it in the Autumn, so I wasn't sure it would grow at all.
A hyacinth providing a splash of deep blue.  I think this plant may need to be located in the sun, rather than the shady spot I planted it in.  Another job to do in a few weeks' time...

Thursday 10 March 2016

Blue Monday by Orkestra Obsolete

(Picture from

Chris drew my attention to this version of Blue Monday by Orkestra Obsolete - I think it's great!
Click Blue Monday to go to the website. (For some reason, I wasn't able to embed it into the blog post).

Here's what is said on BBC Arts:

"New Order's Blue Monday was released on 7 March 1983, and its cutting-edge electronic groove changed pop music forever. But what would it have sounded like if it had been made 50 years earlier? In a special film, using only instruments available in the 1930s - from the theremin and musical saw to the harmonium and prepared piano - the mysterious Orkestra Obsolete present this classic track as you've never heard it before."

I particularly like the drumming!

Tuesday 8 March 2016

'Blind Date with a Book'

(All photos from Amazon)
The University where I work has just finished an initiative in the Library called 'Blind Date with a Book'.  One hundred and four books were wrapped in tissue paper so that you didn't know what you were choosing. Being an avid reader, I decided to take part and here are the four books I chose.  At the top was one I don't think I would ever have chosen, so it was a good start.  The premise was interesting - what happened to Freud during his visit to America which would put him off Americans ever after?  The author's idea was that he could have been involved in a murder case.  Although the psychoanalysis went above my head in some places, it was a gripping (if a little gory) story and I had no idea who the perpetrator was...

 The second book was this novel for young adults - again, one I probably wouldn't have chosen for myself.  It discusses mental illness - and suicide - from the point of view of two traumatised teenagers who develop a bond when one stops the other from throwing themselves off a tower.  Although sad, it was poignant and powerful and it had an uplifting feeling at the end.
Number three was something completely different - a historical novel written about Elizabeth I and the attempts from various parties to get her to marry.  I prefer historical fact, rather than fiction, but a lot of this was based on fact, if slightly amended for the time frame.  It was an interesting view into how her mind might have worked and what her feelings might have been.
I did cheat slightly with number four.  I had seen that this book was in the Blind Date and really wanted to choose it...however, once the Blind Date had finished, I asked the librarian if I could have this one and they kept it back for me - they are lovely!  I had read the reviews and was intrigued by the premise of a lady in her eighties with dementia, who feels that her friend Elizabeth is missing.  Her mind goes back to the disappearance of her sister after the war and in solving one mystery, she inadvertently opens up another.  It was a gripping story; one of those which is difficult to put down and one which stays with you after finishing it.  In fact, I will read it again before taking it back to the library.  
So, although I didn't manage to read many of the Blind Date books, it did encourage me to read outside my usual choice and broaden my reading horizons.  I hope they repeat it at the Library next year.

Tuesday 1 March 2016

First Garden Visit 2016 part two

Having visited Brightwater Gardens, we then went on to Hackthorn Hall, part of the Hackthorn Estate.  The gardens are open three times a year and this was the first time this year, opening for the snowdrops.  When I looked back at my photos, snowdrops didn't figure very highly - I was obviously more interested in the box hedge and the blossom.
 The box hedges either side of the path leading to the church were cut into a beautiful undulating pattern.
It was a very photogenic view (except for the blue pipe across the path!)
 I did take this photo of a clump of snowdrops growing inside the hedge.
This formal garden appealed to me and I'm sure that the summer planting will soften the lines.
 Looking back towards the church.
 We wandered through the woodland and I liked the ground covering ivy, camouflaging more clumps of snowdrops.
I loved the image of the church as seen through the blossom and sunshine.  We went to the walled garden, which has several greenhouses, one containing the second oldest grape vine in the UK, after the one at Hampton Court.  We stopped off at the village hall for tea and crumpets and then made our way home, after a lovely day.