Saturday, 23 July 2016

The Top of the Mountain

We seem to have reached a bit of a crossroads, Mitenska and me. But that's not really how I view it. A crossroads suggests I have to pick just the one road.

In reality it feels more like I'm standing at the top of a mountain, looking down at a vast and varied landscape. Lots to explore.

As you know, I've been working on Frond and Feather. I'm currently running two Instagram accounts, a Facebook page which needs sorting out, two blogs, a rather neglected Twitter account and a few Pinterest accounts too.

Which suggests I need to simplify things somewhat.

It would make sense to just move everything to Frond and Feather. For the most part that's what I intend to do. But what about Mitenska? Do I just archive everything and move on? I'm not sure. It's different from Frond and Feather. More personal. Little stories of my life. Family memories, photographs. Thoughts and small celebrations, but also times of sadness and worry. Travels, what we eat, walks in the woods.

I don't think I want to let it go just yet. I think it'll stay here and I'll post maybe every few weeks. I want to keep this record going so I will.

The whole 'choices' thing applies to my work, too. I keep questioning what I should actually do (and do well). Printmaking? Illustration? Photography maybe?

Truth is, I really love all of them so I'll keep doing them all. Everything is inspired by nature so there is a thread running through all of my work. And if I want to try new things (current obsession: hand lettering and watercolour wreaths) then that's fine too. Surely it's a healthy thing to want to learn, to explore and experiment.

Joe finished preschool yesterday. I was surprisingly OK with it (alright, I did have a little cry afterwards picturing him having one last cuddle with one of the staff. She's usually very businesslike but shed a few tears as they said goodbye).

There was a teddy bear's picnic and treasure hunt through the village, then all the little leavers were presented with their files and a gift.

And now we have the whole summer ahead of us. I'm torn between panic (six weeks of entertaining him) and sadness that he's growing up. We already have most of his school uniform ready for September. He doesn't turn four until late August. He's still so little! 

Cue all kinds of misgivings despite much reassurance from friends, family and teachers.

We have so much to do. My work's going to drop way down the list while I've got Joe full time. But we're painting downstairs white (partially done), I want to repaint some furniture before autumn arrives and I do need to keep things ticking over on the work front.

But, to use that overused phrase, it is what it is.

I'm fortunate enough to be with Joe for the summer holidays, the last time he's a preschooler. I intend to spend as much time outside with him as possible. We have a key to the school grounds so we can go in and maintain the raised beds. It's somewhere safe for him to practice riding his bike.

On wet days - this is England, after all - we can walk in the woods. I suspect there will be many picnic lunches eaten at the little railway station, too.

We can get together with friends and play in gardens or go for ice cream. Or visit Wallace the goat up at the animal sanctuary.

Jay has booked us a night in Edinburgh in a few weeks. Just us two (while Joe stays with family). The thought of that is quite exciting - because much as I love my little one, there's something extremely freeing about time off. 

We're still hoping to move to Scotland next year. The plan is to put the house up for sale in the spring and to see what happens.

But right now we're going to enjoy what we have here: lots of friends, a happy house, village life. 

So, quite a view from the top of that mountain. I'm enjoying it.

And I'll continue to blog here (how regularly during the holidays remains to be seen) but at least I've made one decision: I don't want to leave Mitenska behind. It may change a little but it won't be mothballed any time soon.

Have a great weekend. We're just heading out for a picnic (as the clouds roll in)...

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Head on over...

Yesterday I headed up to the North East, to Manor Garden Flowers, for a very special event. If you'd like to know more about it (and see far too many photographs), please head on over to my new site here.

P.S. This isn't the end of Mitenska - but I will be posting different things on different blogs. And Gather. Harvest. Feast. most definitely fits into the Frond & Feather kind of post.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Looking back: June

I've been through so many photographs from June. And for this post I decided to stick with more from our holiday on Skye.

It seems fitting because the Colour Collaborative has now run its course. So as a final post it made sense to celebrate June in glorious Technicolour.

Ice-cream coloured houses at Portree harbour.

Sumptuous Liberty fabrics inside Dunvegan Castle.

Seaside colours at Waternish.

Skye was an island of blue and green in June.

The Fairy Pools were a strange shade of pale turquoise - almost other-worldly.

And there was bright colour in the castle gardens.

Joe played in the Fairy Pools wearing an appropriately-hued T shirt.

Red and sea-green: one of my favourite combinations.

Abandoned cottages hidden in the greenery...

More green and blue: water reflecting the sky, bluebells still in flower...

 I've also got this photograph in black and white. But I do like the subdued shades here.

The browns of the deep, silent pine forests, punctuated with verdant emerald ferns.

Acid green seaweed...

Gaily-painted boats and raspberry sauce-drizzled ice creams.

Soft moorland shades dotted with fluffy white cotton grass...

Khaki-coloured seaweed against graphite rocks.

And bright violet orchids growing by the shore.

The gorse was out in all its glory, smothering the hillsides in bright yellow.

And more turquoise: lobster cages washed up and tangled in the grass.

More muted colours: faded red paintwork, greying walls and creamy fleece.

Again at Waternish, an arty little settlement with a beautiful gallery: sun-bleached colours on the Inn sign.

That gorse again. It reminds me of last year's trip across to Bute. Very pretty but lethal if you go near it.

So, Skye in June. I'd love to go back in every season to capture it in photographs.

And farewell to the Colour Collaborative. I enjoyed being a part of it.

Have a wonderful July.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Monday miscellany

This is a bit of a throwback to my old 'Midweek miscellany' posts, I suppose. And the blue of those forget-me-nots matches my current mood. It's wet and chilly and the house is so gloomy under all these clouds.

Joe's really pushing my buttons too. He's becoming so argumentative (usually in public) and very wilful. Preschool reassured me today (after witnessing a massive strop) that he's just 'expressing himself'. I waited until I dropped him off and reached the car before expressing myself - quite swearily. If that's not a real word, it should be.

We've actually had an OK week other than storms of the meteorological and metaphorical kind. A ride on the steam train, complete with packed lunch (his grandparents couldn't make it over on Friday and he was really upset, so we had a day out).

I escaped for a cup of tea and a slice of cake on Thursday, as we had a joiner in to finish some jobs. Joe was in preschool and I fancied a bit of a breather so I visited our local museum and wandered around the raised beds with my camera before holing up in the cafe with a book.

We now have a mantelpiece. Jay actually put that up. It's an old piece of wood I spotted in my stepdad's garage which had been on his boat for years. He kindly sanded it and cut it to size and now I can faff and arrange things to my heart's content.

I've been buying so many good things to eat lately. I'm gluten-free and have recently cut out dairy too. I'm not sure whether it's that or a supplement I'm taking, but the brain fog which has plagued me for years has gone. I feel clear and sharp-minded (well, almost) and don't feel like going to sleep all day long.

I do still eat meat (mainly chicken) and fish. But there are a lot of fruits and vegetables in the house. Joe's mad on podding peas. I'm buying nectarines, apricots and strawberries. And one of my favourite things about this time of year: cherries at the market. Handfuls of them to bring home and scoff.

Yesterday we headed over to Cheshire to collect some plants from our friend who has a nursery. We drove home with a car full of dahlias and cosmos, poppies and geraniums. He gave us some empty hanging baskets too and plenty of things to plant them up with. 

We pottered about in the garden until the rain started to come down. Jay took Joe indoors but I just put my coat on and carried on. Rain in June isn't necessarily a bad thing. It saved us a lot of watering in too.

I tried taking a few pictures around the house but it really is dark. 

We'll be breaking out the white emulsion before summer ends. The pale grey/green is nice but realistically a low-ceilinged cottage in this part of the world needs a blast of brightness. 

You can just see the old book case I finally painted pink. It could do with taking outside once the weather picks up and I'll 'distress' it a bit. (The bird box in the photo near the top of the post is painted in the yellow paint I was so excited about a month or so back).

School preparations continue apace. We already have some bits of uniform ready and waiting (P.E. kit mainly) and this afternoon I'll be taking Joe to playgroup, which is held in the school. The reception class teacher is going to meet all those due to start in September, and they'll get to go and see the classroom. 

I will probably drink tea with the other mums and enjoy the peace for a very short time.

The dill in the photo below was growing at the museum the other day. I have loads of it in little pots, grown from seed, that needs planting out. Another garden job waiting for the rain to clear.

Strange how on Thursday afternoon we were eating ice cream in the park and then by weekend we were back to jumpers and socks. I'm hoping that by the time the summer holidays begin it'll brighten (and warm) up.

And right now it's time to go and collect Joe. I'll probably walk down the lane and see how the hedgerow's changed over the past few weeks, take a deep breath and see what crazy mood he's in when I arrive. Wish me luck...

Have a great week.

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