Good morning

Blue skies again

Already though a whisper of chill on the early morning air tells me that a change is coming.  Leaves already turning, confused by weeks of relentless heat and sun.

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For now though the garden remains vibrantly, verdantly lush.

A slight breeze, and if I breathe in hard I catch the faint trace of lavender. Even this early in the morning the bush is heavy with bees addicted to the sweetly antiseptic scent.  Another breath and I can smell the last blooms of the honeysuckle, their fragrance touched with decay.

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An obese pigeon flies overhead, comical in it’s ungainliness.  In it’s head is it soaring with the grace of an eagle?

Wasps circle the lawn like sharks.  I tuck my feet up on the chair.

Just in case.

Eyes closed now, the haven of my garden shrinks away and I am gradually surrounded, not by the peace and tranquility I expected, but by an absolute cacophony of noise.

Magpies argue loudly on the rooftop.  The smaller birds, finches and tits, delighting in their ability to manoeuvre in a garden that is inaccessible to their larger cousins, chase each other from tree to tree, taunting as they fly.

The gently inebriated drone of the bees.

Further away now.  Today the noise of the distant traffic becomes transmuted in my head into the roar of a great river.  The sound is the same but the irritation is gone.  Magic.

Overhead the faint rumble of a plane.  A white thread of silk in a tapestry of blue.  In this moment I don’t envy the travellers.  In this moment I wouldn’t swap this tiny tangle of green for anywhere else.

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Wild Hunt

It’s the Monday after the first Sunday after the fourth of September.

So it must be

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The Abbots Bromley Horn Dance.

Possibly the best folk custom in the world.

Ever.

The day starts with the blessing of the horns in the Parish C

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hur

ch.

And then the day begins.

This year was a special year as it is the centenary of the start of the First World War.
Four dancers went off to war in 1914, but only two returned.

Today,  four dancers wore uniform in remembrance of those who lost their lives in the war,  in particular those lost from

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The D

ance

As always,  it was a joy to follow the dancers around the village and su

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rrounding

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area.

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But today was particularly poignant.

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Pearls

I thought they were extinct

Or at least an endangered species

But at the Faversham Hop Festival today we spotted them.

At first just a pair

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But later,  a whole posse of them

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Performing “Roll out the barrel”,  “My Old Mans a Dustman”  and so many more.

It was great.

There were hops a plenty

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In garlands

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And on hats.

And Faversham is lovely

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It has a Physic Garden

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A rather beautifully decorated brewery

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And a gunpowder mill.

Every town should have one.

Ahem.

The festival was noisy,  bustling and good fun.

Beer was flowing freely

But as I cant stand the stuff we sampled other local produce instead.

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All in the name of supporting small local artisans you understand 🙂

Yum.

Sun and slime

The first sunny day in what seems like forever.

The 2015 man-free holiday.

An annual tradition,  a few days of catch-up chat,  laughter,  and the opportunity to see some of the more eccentric aspects of British life.

Today we headed to Brightlingsea for the Opening of the Oyster Fishery.  

The Mayor and the great and the good headed off in boats

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Proclamations were made and a long lunch was had to celebrate the start of oyster season.

Well,  there is now an ‘r’ in the month.

Shockingly,  there is nowhere in Brightlingsea to sample oysters so we headed down the coast to Whitstable,  a fab,  retro,  slightly bohemian seaside resort on the Kent coast.

Couldn’t move for oyster shops there!

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I’ve tried oysters before,  and yes,  they are still disgusting second time around.

Imagine swallowing a giant,  slightly salty and fishy tasting bogey and you’ll get the idea.

Not that I’ve ever tasted a giant,  slightly salty and fishy tasting bogey.   But if I had,  that’s what it would be like.

Hope no one’s eating as they read this!  🙂

Hops and cream teas tomorrow.

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Andy and the Owls

So, staycationing.

So, Monday saw us heading into Birmingham for the day.

I say “we”, I actually mean youngest child, one of her friends and myself.

Oldest child heard the words “art gallery” and refused to leave his bedroom.

He still remembers our pre-Christmas trip to the Tate Modern

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Youngest child on the other hand was tremendously excited by the whole thing.image

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Boing.

And yes,  she was hyped up like this for the whole trip.

I slept well that night.

We headed to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery for their “Love is Enough” exhibition.

Focussing on Andy Warhol and William Morris.

I would have included a photo but Copyright issues mean photography wasn’t allowed.

It’s an interesting exhibition but the exhibits are a bit sparse and I’m not convinced that there are enough parallels between the artists for it to be completely successful

But, it was interesting to see the works ‘in the flesh’

And Warhol is always a hit with the kids

I’m not really a huge fan myself, but I found with this exhibition that I really liked his line drawings

Especially Young Man With Heart

Birmingham is also currently being invaded by giant owl sculptures.

Random or what?

There is an Owl Trail, should you wish to track them all down

But we were happy just admiring the ones we stumbled across

Particularly Ozzy Osbourne’s slightly sinister gothic one.

Add in chocolate pizza (yes really) at Ask, and bubble tea for the journey home

and it was actually a rather nice day out.

Sun, sea and sand? Pah, who needs ’em?

Be Here Now

I have developed an irrational and completely over-reactive dislike of the phrase “Staycation”

It’s right up there with “thinking outside of the box”, “one-stop shop”, “joined-up thinking” and “chillax”.

Guaranteed to make me want to gnash my teeth, gnaw the carpet and possibly prise my eyeballs out with blunt spoons.

Well, perhaps not quite that, but you get the idea.

But, staycationing is what we are doing this year, since our eagerly anticipated holiday to Egypt was cancelled by Thomsons, bless their cotton socks.

And our even more eagerly anticipated replacement holiday to India isn’t happening until next spring.

So, a summer spent exploring the delights of the Midlands.

And actually? I’m looking forward to it.

We might finally get to all those places that we keep meaning to go to, which are on our doorstep but get overlooked in the rush to get some place else

Somewhere more exotic.

Like Derbyshire 😉

So Sunday found us heading over to Rutland, smallest historic county in England, to visit Rutland Water.

  
It’s been on my list of places to visit for years.

Bits of it are beautiful, and quiet and peaceful.

Bits of it are noisy, and jam packed with people and cars.

And the shared cycle/pedestrian pathway works as well as the new shared pedestrian/motor vehicle area in Coventry

Organised chaos it is then.

A good place if you like watersports, or don’t want to walk far from your car for a picnic.

Not so great if you like to get away from civilisation, and like your nature a bit on the wild side. 

 

Mmmmm

It’s June.

It’s sunny (on and off)

So there must be

Freshly picked,  sunwarmed strawberries

Freshly picked, sunwarmed strawberries

Which transform nicely into

Gently heated,  lemon infused,  strawberry scented kitchens

Gently heated, lemon infused, strawberry scented kitchens

Which stack up perfectly into

Homemade strawberry jam

Homemade strawberry jam

Which of course just perfectly lends itself to

Oven warm homemades scones with jam and clotted cream

Oven warm homemades scones with jam and clotted cream

Mmm mmm mmm.  🙂

Vroom

Happy Mothering Sunday!

Yesterday oldest child finally had his first driving lesson.

At 13.

They grow up so quickly these days don’t they?  🙂

But this was a birthday present.

Yep, the chance to hurtle through woods, plunge into bogs and scare passing paintballers.

In a 4×4 automatic LandRover.

Possibly the best present a 13year old boy could receive.  Ever.

Or so he said afterwards.

Before hand?



Slightly nervous.  🙂

The cars are all less than 18months old





Because that’s their life expectancy with 11-17 years old screaming around the track in first gear.

I didn’t ask about the life expectancy of the driving instructors.

I also didn’t realise that Andrew, Rosie and myself would be shoehorned into the back of the 4×4 to experience the drive with Jacob.

Otherwise I might have looked for a knitting experience for him instead.



See how nervous he looks there?  That’s nothing compared to how nervous the three of us in the back were looking.



But it was great fun.

Really.

And Jacob was remarkably self-possessed and good at handling the car.

Not distracted at all by the screams from the back.



He’s still not driving my mini though.

Reprieve

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It feels like spring is just about here.

Without winter really having shown its face at all.

A few frosty mornings.

A sprinkling of snow.

But already bulbs are staring to push through, and curling leaf buds appearing on some of the hardier (foolhardy) trees.

A dry day on Friday and we took our chance to explore close to home.

The beautiful Warwickshire countryside

Along country lanes

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Picking up a companion for part of the way

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Stopping at Chesterton church

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And pondering a “fixer-upper”

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A good day.