Saturday, 15 August 2015

Betwixt and between

Between houses, between seasons, between different stages in life...

Apologies in advance for the many, many photos in this post. I'm currently juggling things and seem to have fallen into this pattern of posting maybe once a week and bombarding you with tons of pictures all in one go.

It's not long now until Joe turns 3. A few weeks, in fact. Which means he'll be spending three mornings a week in preschool and I'll be able to work from home during that time. In one way it'll be a relief to get on with things uninterrupted but in another way it's the end of an era. I fully intend to make the most of our time together until then and, once September comes, to enjoy our non-preschool time too.

The seasons are changing. You can feel it. And yet... 

I went for a walk on Wednesday morning. Joe was at nursery and the weather was glorious. Not something we've had much of this summer. The sky was blue, the sun was out and it was wonderfully warm. So I took myself for an amble through the fields and woods, along the river and back in a loop. It only took 45 minutes or so but it was blissful.

On such a temperate day it really does feel like the height of summer. Insects buzzing, butterflies flitting about, birds singing. There are still lots of wild flowers around - mostly yellows and blues. Scabious and knapweed and vetch.

But amongst them, the haws are turning red and so are the blackberries. Hazels are ripening. Roses have become hips.

In the woods, there were plenty of webs spun between the umbellifers. They caught the sun. One of the signs of autumn, for me, is the appearance of spiders - particularly in the house. Apparently they're considered a sign of good luck.

I've become even more interested in wild flowers recently. That's probably down to my having studied them closely as part of my drawing and painting. But that process has also meant I refer to lots of books and the names and habits of these flowers fascinate me. I passed one particular field I've always admired at this time of year with its haze of blue. On closer inspection I realised the flowers are wild scabious. It's covered in them. And a week or two ago I didn't even know scabious grew wild.

Of course, the weather's cooled down since then and we've had chillier days with plenty of rain. The jumpers are back on. My salvaged Welsh blanket is across the foot of the bed.

I've noticed other signs of a seasonal shift too. At the market this morning, there were damsons and English blackberries. After we bought our fruit and vegetables we headed over to Yorkshire to our favourite garden centre. All was rich oranges and reds and pinks: rudbeckia, crocosmia, echinacea. They looked stunning with the (fleeting) sun illuminating them. And the spring bulbs are all on display too.

I came home with a punnet of greengages and some rhubarb. Crumble will be made.

Of course, we're between houses too. The electrician's in at the moment doing an unexpected and rather expensive rewire. The budget's been adjusted accordingly. It'll be a bathroom on a shoestring. Fortunately the stuff that goes in the house - furniture and objects - are the sort of things I prefer to buy second hand anyway. Finding them and bringing them home is all part of the fun.

Which leads me on to more lucky finds: another six Observer guides picked up at the charity shop for a very good price (pictured above with some new silk-covered flex for the lights - it's all about the little details, right?) If I can just get my paws on a Wild Flowers one I'll be happy. Oh, and perhaps the Geology one too...

I'm between stages in the A-Z art project as well. All the drawing work is now complete. Next: watercolours. Then getting them printed, framed and delivered to the shop where they'll be displayed and (hopefully) sold. I cannot tell you how relieved I am to have reached this point. And yes - I have been playing with wax rubbings (you can see them behind the books). Joe likes doing it too, I promise...

At the new house: a cat. With a collar which says 'I am deaf'. He/she enjoys sneaking in through open windows and getting comfy on people's beds, apparently. There are also signs of a previous feline inhabitant. And yet more objects surfacing from cupboards and goodness knows where.

The garden's been taken back to its bare bones. We've kept the birch tree (but it needs a good lopping). The twisted hazel's had a trim and looks lovely. And something called 'Sambucus Nigra' - thank you Google - is staying too. The rest: chopped down, pulled up and burnt or taken to the tip.

Suddenly our (very) little plot looks bigger. We're planning to have raised beds for fruit and vegetables. The shady border will provide a home for our hostas and fern, and we'll find other shade-lovers too. And a couple of dwarf fruit trees will be planted somewhere.

Thank you for reading yet another mammoth post. And thank you for your lovely comments (and tips). They're much appreciated. Hope you're having a lovely weekend...


  1. It is a funny time betwixt seasons isn't it, you want to hold on to the old one, and are anticipating and hoping for the new one at the same time! Glad that things are going well with the house, it is good to get things like the electrics done, the decorative things will come in time! xx

  2. Wonderful post with plenty of lovely photos for me to see, they would make a lovely book ! ( now there's a Idea ) there was a hint of Autumn in the air to day, love the smell of fresh air coming through the open door.
    Amanda xx

  3. Oh that twisted hazel is wonderful. You've been working hard I think, making quite a transformation out there. Love the photo of the figs. I'm waiting for mine to ripen, they're such a treat. If you have a spare corner, a fig tree is a very lovely thing to squeeze in. I hope you and Joe enjoy your time together after he goes to pre-school. I used to love picking mine up at lunchtime and making lunch while they sat in the kitchen with me chattering away. Then a lovely afternoon together. You've taken me back! Have a good Sunday Sarah. CJ xx

  4. What a beautiful post! Your photos are wonderful. The wallpaper takes me back - I stripped seven layers off Meg's bedroom when we first moved in here 15 years ago. Cherish the time with Joe - it goes so quickly! I hope all of your projects come to fruition x

  5. we are still sorting out cupboards
    but I'd rather be in the garden. Almost finished planting the second side.

  6. It looks like things are speeding towards autumn there all of a sudden. I love this time of year, when it's just starting to happen. I love full-on autumn even more, but this is an interesting pause kind of moment. I hope all continues to move along with the house, it sounds like you're working hard. It will be worth it and in a few months, it will feel like the house was always yours.

  7. Down here in Essex, we don't seem to have had summer proper this year....we had an early heat wave but right now it could be October! Autumn is my favourite season so I'm looking forward to the gentle unfurling if it.

    I am intrigued by your artwork, do you do the lettering freehand? It is so neat and straight! I hope it sells well, it is beautiful.

    1. Hello! Interesting to know that the poor summer wasn't just a northern thing... But yes, autumn's my favourite too and I love spotting signs of its approach.
      I use a ruler and pencil for my lettering then go over it in ink - very slowly! Occasionally there's a wobbly bit but I just tell myself that means it's definitely drawn by hand and the little imperfections make it unique ;)

  8. No need to apologise for all the photos. I love looking at them. It seems you have been very busy and especially in your new garden. I will look forward to more photos :)

  9. A lovely catch up blog and photos, buying an older house is always an adventure good and bad, I am sure you will make it beautiful :)

  10. a lovely week of catching up! our neighbours have a sambucus, it's oh so pretty.

  11. Betwixt and between.... I looked at the trees this week and felt the autumn palette appearing.

  12. Gorgeous shots, you capture the natural world so beautifully. Both my student children collect The Observer Guides and I managed to find Architecture for my son and Cacti for my daughter which has a bright yellow cloth cover under its dust jacket for their Christmas stockings last year. I have Birds and Wild Flowers, both of which I refer to constantly. I am having my parents' wooden 1950s standard lamp rewired at the moment and I chose a similar flex. I'm now deciding whether to wax it or paint it having cleaned it up with wire wool and white spirit. Sambucus Nigra looks good with acid green foliage and flowers such as the grass Hakonechloa macra 'aureola' as well as the shrubby Euphobia characias wulfenii. The twisted hazel would look lovely with spring flowering bulbs underneath but don't be in too much of a hurry as you may discover all sorts of treasures next spring. It looks like you're having fun collecting pre-loved objects for your new house - great stuff!

    1. Thanks for the garden tips! And yes, I have a feeling there'll be lots of surprises once spring comes around. I really do want to plant snowdrops though, I love them and they'd look perfect under the hazel.
      The 1950s lamp sounds wonderful. Maybe try keeping the wood first and if it's not great you can always paint it (after a bit of a strip-down job). I'd be tempted to try covering a shade with some lovely fabric too.
      As for the Observer guides: the Fungi one is my favourite simply because of that gorgeous yellow cover!
      S x

  13. No such thing as too many photos! I like your feline visitor, very unusual blue eyes. I'm still trying to get our house in order. I finally tiled the kitchen at the end of last week (once the kids were back at school and before work started for me), the kitchen was only fitted ten years ago!

  14. Hey Sarah,
    Just having a rather lovely catch up here. You take the most exquisite photos. How do get that sharpness and clarity? It's strange; when Olly started school I missed him and enjoyed having the time for myself. Quite a paradox. I made sure that I didn't spend the whole time housekeeping, a trap I could have easily fallen into. A year on, and I've made some new friends, become fitter, healthier and a bit slimmer (always a bonus, even if it shouldn't be) and I feel happier. It's done my mental health the power of good. And I have enjoyed this long summer holiday so much more. It's like I get to keep him to myself once again.
    Anyway. I ramble on.
    Have a lovely week, my friend. I hope all is well at your end?
    Leanne xx

    1. Hi Leanne -
      I know all about catch ups! I was up at 6.30 yesterday morning just to read around my favourite blogs, and only managed to visit maybe half of them... I'll probably do the same tomorrow.
      All's fine here. Just very, very busy what with trying to work around Joe (nigh on impossible if I'm honest) and sorting out the new house. Tradesmen are still in there so I'm dreading getting the decorating done. We'll probably end up pulling all-nighters!
      I know exactly what you mean about the paradox: on the one hand it'll be sad to see Joe go to preschool but on the other I really need some hours to get other things, i.e. bringing in some money, done. Hopefully I'll be a bit more patient with him too. Some days it really does feel as though I'm being continually poked with a stick. Then I get annoyed and snappy and it's not good, I sound like such a witch with the constant 'I said STOP DOING THAT!!!' etc.
      I'm so glad you're doing good. It's great news about your dad too and yes, losing a bit of weight is such a boost. I know it'll be for yourself and not for the benefit of what other people think so there's no shame in that. I hope you enjoy the rest of the holidays and that there's plenty of sunshine your way.
      S xx
      P.S. Photos: for every decent one there are lots of crappy ones, but editing works wonders ;)

  15. I really enjoy these round-up posts and you can never share too many of your photographs which are always stunning. For some reason I've been taking notice of the wild flowers round here though I can't identify most of them. Lots of change in the offing for you but lots of possibility, too.

  16. Such wonderful photos, there's a real sense of fulfilment in your words too. I really love this time of year...the prelude to the new academic year and the start of (dare I say it?) Autumn. Although I feel as though I'm chasing my tail a bit at the moment - trying to keep on top of everything. The new house sounds very, very exciting. Preschool for Joe soon - he's getting big :) I know what you mean about not being interrupted. I joked only today that I come to work for a rest and where I'm not stalked round the house! BigR is 6 in 3 weeks. How did that happen? Looking forward to more commenting very soon. Take care xx

  17. I suppose that lightblue wooden bed the previous owners had left, has gone in the skip? If not, what a nice toddler's bench could be made out of the bedhead.... Sorry about late and unsolicited advice, but I just discovered your nice beauty-loving blog! What better activity is there in this broken world than fixing and redeeming a bit of it to become a thing of joy and beauty?
    Jet Willems, Netherlands

  18. Finally, I'm back online properly, blog fixing done, and can catch up with everyone!

    I love these long, picture heavy posts of yours. Too often posts with lots of pictures hold nothing to catch my eye as I rapidly scroll through them to get to the text, but your photographs always catch my attention and often enchant me.

    Hurrah for third birthdays and three days at nursery ... we were once between houses, staying with my parents in law with our three (then) young children while builders did their thing ... hang in their Sarah, it comes right in the end.

  19. lovely photos....hopping over here from Annie's blog. :)

  20. Dropping in to catch up and see how you have been getting on - glad to see that you are enjoying nature amidst all the changes and goings on there. Giving you calm I hope x


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