Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Winter scrapbook

Well, it seems like I was never going to write this post. Joe's been off preschool with some vomiting bug or other, which I've picked up but it's (thankfully) only a mild version. He's fine again now and the famously voracious appetite has returned.

Of course, a picture-heavy post means I always go a bit lighter on the words. Probably because I try to write the kind of blog I myself like reading. So lots of photos and a few little updates. I'm planning a wordier post for later in the week. Or perhaps the weekend.

It's bright here today. At last. The seemingly endless grey skies and rain can make you wonder if this is possibly the most depressing winter ever. Looking back through the camera though, I can recapture a little of the frost and snow-induced cheeriness.

The Flying Scotsman has now left these parts, but we saw it plenty.

It's still flipping cold. Not as much as a few weeks ago, but my fingers are a bit numb typing this.

I've booked in to do the Crafty Vintage handmade markets for 2016, held here and here. So I've been busy Making Art. Still much to do. And an eye-catching stand to design and build.

I just finished reading 'The Remains of the Day'. I loved it - it has now become one of my favourite novels ever. Jay treated me to the DVD so that's Saturday night sorted. I suspect I might cry.

Speaking of Jay (and I know he reads this): he's been baking a lot recently. Experimental stuff. Last weekend we had rhubarb and custard muffins and very tasty they were too. I also know he goes and bakes to escape to the kitchen when Joe is being a nuisance. I know this because I do it too.

I'm longing to get out into the garden. We need to do some heavy stuff first; a big pile of earth has to be moved to make way for a shed. Maybe a bit of poking and pottering first, just to ease us in. We have snowdrops and miniature daffs and hellebores. 

At the risk of sounding a bit odd, I really want to scrub the trunk on the birch tree.

Joe and I have joined another local library. I found a great book on printmaking, and we borrowed lots of train books for him. We did a story session ('I don't want to join in' - him, 'I'll give you a YoYo if you do' - me, 'Alright then' - him). The craft bit afterwards was more of a success. 

He's really enjoying the new preschool and sings as we walk there. But it's still a little bit heartbreaking to see his old one up for sale and all the little tables and climbing frames and things being sold on Facebook.

We did a walk on a very frosty day last month. Thick ice everywhere. But still evidence of the Boxing Day floods - even dry stone walls are scattered across the fields in some places.

The snow was short-lived but we made the most of it. Two snowmen, a snow bear and a three-year-old who refused to wear gloves. 

It was great to let Joe loose in the field behind the house and watch him run around. Much better than the ice - he insists on slithering across frozen puddles and I wait for him to slip and crack his head. Hence the woolly hat.

We've had a trip or two out - in late January we went to Cumbria and saw Furness Abbey and visited the South Lakes Zoo.

 A cockatoo fell in love with Jay. 

And although there were acrobatic monkeys making car-alarm noises, and wolves and tigers, and a kangaroo with a baby in its pouch, we all agreed on our favourite bits: the bird enclosure with parrots flying overhead, and the cafe with a woodburning stove. Because it was a bitterly, bitterly cold day.

We managed to get to the beach too. 

And although it looks like he's having a wonderful time in the pictures here, Joe's absolute favourite part of it: doing a wee outdoors for the first time ever. Standing up. Apparently that's what a three-year-old really enjoys about a day out.

I'll leave you with that delightful thought. Sorry.

I hope you're finding some brightness in these gloomy months. Speaking of which, I'm really thinking of repainting the downstairs of the house in white. Low ceilings and beams and small windows make cottages cute and cosy but also very dark in winter. I know Jay wants nothing to do with it, having just decorated. I totally understand. But come spring I'm happy to chip away at it myself. You know, with all the free time I have ;)

Have a good rest-of-the-week.

P.S. I've also discovered Aldi chocolate. Dark, with hazelnuts in. It's actually rather posh-looking and tasting. No this isn't a sponsored post - just passing on a tip to help keep the cold out.


  1. There are so many things I love about this post but the thing that really made me smile was the idea of scrubbing the birch tree. It's something I hadn't even thought of until a few years ago when someone told me that her mother does exactly that. And since then there are times when I've been tempted to do the same. Go on - do it!

    1. Do you know, I actually have instructions for doing it. I remember seeing an old lady across the road once, dusting a conifer in a pot. That's maybe taking things a bit far!

  2. I can remember peeling the papery bark off a birch tree at school when I was very young. We all did it, but I'm sure it wasn't allowed. I wonder how that poor tree survived. I'm glad Joe is enjoying his new school and that the transition hasn't been too difficult for him. He's at a good age for a change like that, I think. I enjoyed your photos, it does look very cold there right now. Bundle up and stay warm.

  3. I envy your snow! We not had one single flake here. Come to think of it we've not had many frosts either. Just howling gales! Defo scrub the birch tree. They do at Anglesey Abbey

    1. I'll be lucky if I get it as clean as that - but I'm willing to try! I once saw a cluster of pristine birches in a National Trust garden (Dunham Massey) and they looked incredible against a dark background.

  4. Anybody who has had a boy will understand the idea that a big boy's wee is the best part of a day out!

  5. I am the old lady who scrubs her Betula Jacquemontii. They come up lovely and shining white.

  6. Such beautiful photos! I see you are doing more in landscape these days than portrait! You should scrub the birch - silver I assume? - I am sure that I have seen that on gardening programmes, it will bring up the trunk beautifully, but if it is old and gnarly it will still be dark and trunkey but the white will come up! xx

  7. such a lovely post Sarah, sorry to hear about the horrible lurgy, hope you're feeling better soon, and that it's the last of the winter illnesses x

  8. Hazelnuts you say... I shall look out for that. Joe's favourite bit has made me laugh. How beautifully you have photographed winter. As always. You have such a talent with a camera. I particularly like the top photo and the train. CJ xx

  9. Lovely post and many wonderful photos..
    Amanda xx

  10. Stunning photographs! I too tried the Aldi chocolate, and rather wish I hadn't - utterly delicious. Their chocolate cocoa dusted truffles at Christmas were divine too...

  11. Sorry you've been poorly. Hope you're all fully recovered now. We had a magnificent Himalayan birch (Betula jacquemontii) in our old garden – very white bark, beautiful – and I used to wash it when it got a bit green. It looked gorgeous afterwards. It's not as bonkers as you might think... Gorgeous photos Sarah. Boys love peeing outdoors. They don't grow out of it. Sam x

  12. Hey Sarah,
    Two things; yes you will cry and wait for the see executed whilst spinning around. That's a beauty.
    Leanne xx

  13. All my boys (including the adult one) love having a wee outside. It must be a boy thing. Have a lovely weekend. x

  14. Beautiful, beautiful photos. Thank you!

  15. Your silver birch would look lovely with Cornus midwinter fire planted close by and snowdrops at its feet. Add a sarcococca for winter scent (aka Christmas Box and evergreen) and you have a winter garden. Your photos are beautiful, I can feel the cold.


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