New Roots

Good morning! I hope life is treating you well. Here we are deep in the heart of spring, and we’re having a fine old time at Nixiemade Towers. Here’s what’s been happening…

I’ve joined One Year No Beer and I’m happy to say it’s been very easy to swap out the evening wine habit. My only moment of temptation came during a particularly stinky migraine on Monday, which was probably caused by a very long gap between meals. I slept, I ate an inadvisable amount of crisps and I took myself for a walk to admire what the woods and fields had to offer. There is nothing like clean air and birdsong to lift the spirits.

We have sunflowers and courgettes on the way, a blowsy hanging basket and a senetti to greet us at the front door, and a new brigade of bedding plants admirably doing their thing. I’d not been a big flower grower in the past. I’m converted.

I found a big pile of cuttings that someone had left in the pocket park and took home some goat willow. They’ve taken, and they’re flowering! Even a stray sprig of basil has enthusiastically taken root. This world is full of little wonders.

And so to another sea change. We have a wedding to plan, it is true, and in the meantime I’m pursuing an unexpected diversion in career. It’s a little like rolling down a hill very fast….I can’t change the speed of travel but I can sure as hell do something about the direction I’m going in. Another germination is taking place….new roots. Exciting times. And time is what it’s all about, in the end – doing what is right for you, even if it’s difficult, while we have the time.

Have a wonderful day, and make it yours.

Sunrise and Snowdrops

Good morning! How are you doing today?

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blogging front, but I knew it would be a busy time ahead, in our promising new abode.  My aunt said she thought we’d be all settled in by now…what were we still doing? Well, I told her, there was no bathroom light fitting, two of the sockets were burned out/cracked, four more had broken corners. The oven was full of old dribbles and matted dog fur, the previous owner had taken the shower with her. The top of the cupboards were coated in black gunk, as was the floor beneath them. The grout was filthy. The dog flap was broken so we needed a new back door panel, the bolts on the back gate didn’t work. Chunks were missing out of the plaster on several walls, the pointing above the porch is failing, some roof tiles need replacing, the gutters are blocked, one gutter leaks, the cover for the air outlet for the tumble drier was missing. The drain in the garden is broken and full of soil. The toilets didn’t flush properly, the lights in the kitchen and dining room didn’t work, and the electrical supply for the oven had to be repaired. There was a leak under the kitchen sink. One of the upstairs doors will not open without a good deal of persuasion when shut, as I discovered to my hilarious cost. The mechanisms of most of the door handles are missing. The garage door is broken. There were two conifers growing against the lounge window. The garden fence was missing panels. The paint on the ceilings is peeling. The bottom of the drive/road was so choked with leaves we didn’t initially even know there were foul water and meter covers there. The blind in one of the bedrooms fell off the wall the first time it was used. The airing cupboard door doesn’t open properly. Shall I go on? Probably not. And that’s before we’d painted the walls four times, put up shelves, hung any curtains, built any furniture, or done the usual things that people do, like go to work.

Still, it’s coming. The holy trinity of a dishwasher, a good oven and a bigger kitchen have opened up a whole new culinary adventure, we’re enjoying our newfound peace and privacy, and we adore the location. Woodpigeons sit in the trees opposite the house and serenade us with their gentle calls. Their latin name is columba palumbus (isn’t that wonderful?), but we mostly call them The Fat Chickens. They are occasionally joined by a red kite. There are quite often a few squirrels bouncing around in the branches too, and it turns out they’re especially entertaining when they’ve found a piece of fruitcake.

Some days I take a walk before work and it completely changes the way I slide into the day. Fresh air and seeing the sun come up with the animals and birds is such a joy. I saw a bullfinch for the first time, what a stunner. After twenty years in a town, this new life is heaven. Wanna see? Okay.

We’re right on the edge of the countryside…
I’m pretty sure there used to be a big ol’ oak tree there…
Yup. There she is.
Out of the murk comes the sun…and I’ve discovered a dry track to follow. Hoorah!
How can you not be glad to see a new day, fresh and full of possibility?
On the homeward path I discovered clumps of blooming snowdrops. Glorious.

I can’t wait to see what new life spring and summer will bring us. I’ll share my discoveries as they emerge. Watch this space 🙂

Spring Rain

Spring Rain

I thought I had forgotten,
But it all came back again
To-night with the first spring thunder
In a rush of rain.

I remembered a darkened doorway
Where we stood while the storm swept by,
Thunder gripping the earth
And lightning scrawled on the sky.

The passing motor busses swayed,
For the street was a river of rain,
Lashed into little golden waves
In the lamp light’s stain.

With the wild spring rain and thunder
My heart was wild and gay;
Your eyes said more to me that night
Than your lips would ever say. . . .

I thought I had forgotten,
But it all came back again
To-night with the first spring thunder
In a rush of rain.

Sara Teasdale

Crazy golf, big skies and new leaves

Last weekend was a complete gift. Warm, sunny, begging to be enjoyed outside. So off we trotted to Wicksteed Park, where we played crazy golf with our friend Adam. All of us are well past the 40 mark, which might explain why the man with the clubs and balls wanted to know who would be playing. I think he was expecting kids. He was looking at them. It was really fun…made me feel ten years old again.

I’ve been waiting for a chance to get some photos of skies, for next term’s art classes. We’re going to be experimenting on a large scale and need some reference material, and yesterday provided some great opportunities to build up the photo stock.

 

Wicksteed Park Cloudy Sky

 

Yep, I think that counts as a Big Sky. There’s going to be some serious blue mixing going on.

 

Wicksteed Park Railway

 

I love the green lines emerging across the lake. Spring has sprung!

 

Wicksteed Park Alpacas

 

Popped by the new arrivals to say hello….

 

Wicksteed Park Ponies

 

and to see some old friends.

 

Wicksteed Park Blossom

 

Sunshine yellow erupting along the lakeside…

 

Wicksteed Park Willow Avenue

 

This magnificent corridor of new leaf makes me a bit giddy. You just can’t beat the feeling of sap rising and life bursting from the earth.

 

Wicksteed Park Mountain Ash

 

I can feel nature calling…”here, check this out…and you thought I was sleeping!” 🙂

 

Wicksteed Park Pine

Wicksteed Park Cherry Blossom

Wicksteed Park Pink Cherry Bloom

Wicksteed Park Boathouse and Boating Lake

 

There might be a painting in here somewhere…

 

Wicksteed Park Lake

 

Or maybe here?

I went home knowing what a pear willow and a tulip tree look like. Seriously cool, If you’re a treek like me.

Have a great week! Keep an eye out for those skies…

 

A little venture into Robin Hood Country

 

Happy Sunday! I hope you’re having a good day, whatever you’re up to.

We’ve just spent a few days celebrating Paul’s birthday in Robin Hood country. We stayed at the 18th century Forest Lodge Hotel in Edwinstowe, a charming old building with a history as an inn, fish shop and tea room, spitting distance from the magnificent Sherwood Forest with its fabulous craft centre, unspoilt woodland and of course Major Oak (reputed hidey hole of Robin Hood and his merry men).

Major Oak Sherwood Forest

 

Spectacular. This little guy followed us on our walk through the forest, serenading us 🙂

 

Sherwood Forest Birdwatching Robin

 

We loved these little houses that have been carved from tree stumps along the way.

 

Sherwood Forest Stump Treehouse

 

This chap fascinated us, trawling the trees for his supper. He’s a treecreeper – the first we’d ever seen. Treecreepers don’t sit still for long, I can tell you that.

 

Sherwood Forest Treecreeper

 

The hotel window faces St Mary’s church, the site of the church where Robin was said to have married Maid Marian, and its restaurant is sited on the original stable block – the archway for the horses remains. It’s a wonderful place to stay, with a cosy bar and glorious food for the winter evenings – perfect for a pint and a game of Quirkle or draughts. We loved it there. And look at the rather delicious birthday present we found in our room!

 

Forest Lodge Wine

 

A rather beautiful room at that.

 

Forest Lodge Buddha Room

 

If you’re in that part of the world, I’d recommend a walk at Creswell Crags.

 

Creswell Crags

 

It’s a stunning gorge and lake with an abundance of eerie and curious-looking caves.

 

Creswell Crags cave

 

We were too late for the last tour of the day after our horsey adventure with Derbyshire Pony Trekking. It’s about 30 years since I’ve ridden – we absolutely loved every second of it. Thanks to Rosie and Mr Tubbs for taking such good care of us! Oh my, did we ache later! Totally worth it. You can see four counties from this lookout point.

 

Derbyshire Pony Trekking Four Counties View

 

So it’s back to reality tomorrow…let’s see what this week has in store! There’s a monk, John Piper, a new art class project, Punch and Judy costumes, a few new recipes, a dentist appointment, some pensions paperwork and a time management book on the horizon. I’m going to need that last one.