The wildflowers here on the chalk clifftops are absolutely breathtaking at the moment; they have been looking beautiful for a while but seem to have reached a peak this week. I find myself dawdling while the dog goes on ahead;  she occasionally looks back to make sure I’m still in range. I’m too busy looking at the little yellow vetches and rough hawkbit; the bright-pink pyramidal orchids (there’s a patch of about 30 in long grass on the sea-side of the cliff path); the delicate, lilac-coloured field scabious; the thistly purple knapweed… And there are many plants that I am unable to identify which frustrates me – I must get a good wildflower book. Whatever they are, they all blend together to create a wonderful natural tapestry.

IMG_7582IMG_7560IMG_7587These pictures were taken with my phone camera and aren’t amazing quality, I’m afraid. Taking photos with my DSLR while walking the dog, having to juggle dog lead and poo bags, is rather too high-risk for my liking. I’m looking into getting a decent compact camera that will fit into my pocket and that I can operate with one hand on dog walks!


Come with me

IMG_5963Down to the beach.



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It’s half term here this week and the skies have been blue, blue, blue which is a thrilling combination. The sun was peeking around the curtains yesterday morning in that ‘come outside, it’s a perfect day’ kind of way, so I couldn’t possibly resist the lure of the beach. I managed to persuade my bleary-eyed daughter to come with me and the dog to see the effects of the recent storms. It appears that Imogen and her mates have thrown much of the beach up on to the car park and there were lots of stranded jellyfish and plastic bits and pieces. Oh, but it was beautiful – one of those magical moments when I couldn’t think of anywhere I’d rather be. And it was lovely to stroll along with my girl, chatting and noticing the gorgeousness around us. I took rather a lot of photos – I have restrained myself in my selection here (really, I have) – and our walk set me up for several hours of proof-reading. It didn’t seem so bad being stuck at a desk after such an excellent start to the day.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Howard Jacobson in the Observer magazine on Sunday which leapt out at me: “Uncertainty is the only respectable intellectual position to have about everything.” I may have more to say about this next time. Oh, and I’ve managed a bit of crochet!

Wishing you a splendid rest of the week.


Five on Friday


ONE  Our lovely hound needs a decent walk every day. My children promised us faithfully (of course they did) that they would walk a dog if we got one but they rarely do. My husband walks/runs with her when he’s home but he’s often away. So it’s mostly down to me and, to be honest, I don’t mind at all. I usually love walking her. It gets me out into our beautiful surroundings for fresh air, exercise, inspiration and thinking time, and I often walk with friends so it’s doubly good. I go out in all weathers, even if it’s a howling gale and the sort of driving rain that stings your face. This week I have donned full waterproof gear and waded through vast puddles, pushed forwards into the scarily strong winds, avoided going near to the cliff edge and been very pleased indeed to get home. So has the dog.

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TWO  Although it’s not been especially cold so far this winter, I took advantage of the January sales and ordered a 13.5-tog winter duvet. It arrived yesterday and it’s SO COSY. It’s like sleeping under a massive, soft pillow. It’s now even harder to get out of bed in the mornings.

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THREE  I am fully conversant with nutrition and healthy eating. I have edited cookery books extolling the virtues of quinoa and kale, buckwheat and beetroot. Despite all this knowledge I still sometimes go through a whole day without eating any fresh fruit or veg (tut tut). I endeavour to get as much as possible into the children but I can be quite lax when it comes to me. This morning, in an effort to eat more healthily, I made myself a big bowl of porridge topped with with a banana, flaked almonds and sunflower seeds. I did then drizzle maple syrup over the top but, hey, it’s a start. I make my porridge the traditional Scottish way – with water and a pinch of salt – which horrifies my husband. He makes his the namby pamby way with milk.

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FOUR  My daughter’s recent biology homework was to make a labelled model of a cell. It turns out she knew she had to do this before the Christmas holidays but somehow we ended up doing it at 9pm last night. She/we stuck two kitchen sponges together, held them in place with a cardboard ‘cell wall’, drew on the components and made labels with cardboard and cocktail sticks. Hey presto, a definitely home-made, simple plant cell which was Good Enough for today’s deadline. Unfortunately, it’s still on the kitchen table…
We had a frantic text exchange and I sent her a photo to show her teacher. She’s a serial leaver-behind-of-important-things and I refuse to trek into school any more.


FIVE  I couldn’t drive it over to school, even if I was so inclined, because I went to visit a friend this morning. The last time I saw this friend she was in full building-work chaos, coping with a temporary kitchen in her front room, making non-stop mugs of tea for the builders and keeping three children out of their way. But it was all totally worth it – just look at that beautiful polished concrete floor and the way the sunlight streams through the windows. While I was there, the sun moved round and bathed the sofa in warm rays and it was very tempting to curl up in the sunshine and have a little sleep.

This is the first time I’ve joined in with Amy and her Five on Friday posts. It’s nice to link with other bloggers and a neat way to present my series of random thoughts to you today. Have a great weekend.


December sunshine


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Despite all my positive intentions, I’ve spent the past 10 days or so in a fug of fedupness (I know that is not a word). No progress has been made on the crochet front, few lists have been written and no sketches made. I’ve definitely had a dose of gloomy-itis and cabin-fever which has not been helped by the dull, low-light days. I’m missing my long walks with the dog, the dog is missing our long walks and we’ve both been moping. Friends have called in for coffee, which has kept me this side of very fed-up indeed, and I have been out of the house, but there has been no stomping across the cliffs and fields. A good stomp is part of my daily routine and I miss it. Never mind. Only four more weeks and the toe should be good to go. And, hooray, today is a glorious sunshine-y day. A stroll/hobble around the garden with my camera made me feel much perkier. I do love the shadows, shapes and colours in this winter sunshine. It’s so sunny that I was even inspired to clean the kitchen windows which has made me feel very virtuous and everything suddenly looks a lot brighter!





Walking the dog across the fields this morning in the warm, slightly misty, spring sunshine – skylarks singing, the sea glistening in the distance – was an uplifting start the day. I still walk with my daughter to the local village primary school, even though she is in her final year and old enough to walk on her own. It’s lovely to have that time together, just the two of us, and she doesn’t seem to mind. She’ll be travelling by train to secondary school with her brothers in September, so these are precious times.

It couldn’t be more of a contrast with my previous life in SW London and the walk to school alongside busy roads, nose-to-tail traffic, planes overhead, everyone rushing. Don’t get me wrong, I loved aspects of my life in the big smoke but this is where I now feel rooted and in my natural place. Being a forces baby, my childhood was peripatetic. We rarely lived in one place for more than a couple of years but all of the RAF stations where we lived were either by the sea or in the countryside and I think that may be why I feel so comfortable in this environment. Perhaps my children will hotfoot it back to the city when they’re older!

Our rescue dog, Cassie (a lurcher), would have hated London. She was a bag of nerves when we adopted her two years ago and still gets spooked by lots of traffic or loud noises. The wide, open spaces here suit her perfectly. I can let her off the lead in the arable fields and she runs and runs in big circles round me, the growing crops tickling her tummy. If dogs could laugh with joy, she’d be doing it.


David has been rebuilding one of the retaining walls in the garden this week and uncovered a slow worm curled up under a rock. We found quite a few last year, mainly in and around the compost heap, but this is the first sighting this year. He also came a cross a large toad and narrowly avoided dropping a rock on its head. Luckily, he managed to transfer it to the side of the pond where it shook itself off and dived in.

This slow worm had a rude awakening.
This slow worm was discovered curled up asleep under a rock.

I’m busy potting on seedlings whenever I have the time to do it. I’m awestruck that tiny seeds (some too small to handle individually – you just have to shake them over the compost and hope they spread out) can grow into miniature plants with leaves, delicate stems and tendril-like roots. Transferring these fragile seedlings into pots can be tricky, especially when they’ve wrapped their roots around each other. I’ve found that the wrong end of a pencil is the best tool for teasing them out of their trays and gently easing them apart. Over the next few weeks, these babies will grow into larger, more robust plants and then we can plant them out into the garden where they can really get their roots down.