Thursday 27 August 2015

The Colour Collaborative: August: Dress

I decided to take this month's prompt quite literally; no interpretive stuff this time around. You see, I do own a few dresses. Not many, just a handful of them and most of those I've had for years. So some of them may look familiar to readers who've been visiting the blog for a while now...

First of all is my favourite dress. I don't generally believe in keeping things 'for best' but this one - well, it was bought many moons ago on a birthday trip to Paris. It's silk. It took up almost all of my birthday money. I don't want to snag it or stain it, so it's strictly for posh events - or those not involving Joe (probably explains why it's so seldom worn).

These colours. I do love them so. The print too, so old-fashioned and vintage-looking. But the colours most of all. In a way they reflect the rest of my wardrobe; if you open the doors and stand back you'll see it's predominantly inky blues, creams, brick reds. Add a healthy splash of grey and that pretty much covers it.

I'm not a pastel person. Rich shades and muted hues attract me. There's the occasional bright to punctuate this: red wellies, a yellow mac, a fuchsia-pink floral scarf from Krakow. 

But this love of rich and muted goes beyond my wardrobe. It applies to my home and garden too. I much prefer a deep crimson peony to a pale pink one, a dark purple cornflower to a chalky blue. Mustard yellow trumps lemon every time, and I like my shades of orange burnt.

It probably explains why I like this part of the summer most of all. The softer hues have given way to the more painterly colours as dahlias, rudbeckias and chrysanthemums start to dominate. And after that the sere, smoky, earthy shades of autumn.

As for dresses themselves... I tend to follow a script. Boxy shapes, loose-fitting. Sack dresses and tunic-style frocks do it for me. Easy, comfortable. Best worn with woolly tights and maybe even something long-sleeved underneath.

I favour stripes and checks over polka dots and ditsy florals. Folksy details rather than sparkle. Strong, serviceable and often with pockets.

Most of them were bought in sales. I prefer to buy quality and wear something for many years.

Jeans are my uniform of choice, so if something can be worn over them... well, it's going to see an awful lot of wear. 

And some dresses come to the rescue every time. A stone-coloured linen number (another sale find) is a wedding/Christening/party stalwart. I love it very much.

It's the only linen item of clothing I own but I can see why people swear by the stuff. It washes and irons beautifully and seems to improve with age. It hangs well and feels incredibly soft against the skin.

So there you have it: dresses and colours. Simple, really. You choose what you like, you buy (or make) it and then you wear it. Over and over again. There's nothing wrong with having a formula that works; I find it fascinating to see how we're all attracted to particular and often very specific colours. It represents so much more than whether something 'suits' us or not.

Don't forget to visit the other Colour Collaborative blogs for more of this month's posts, just click on the links below.

What is The Colour Collaborative?

All creative bloggers make stuff, gather stuff, shape stuff, and share stuff. Mostly they work on their own, but what happens when a group of them work together? Is a creative collaboration greater than the sum of its parts? We think so and we hope you will too. We'll each be offering our own monthly take on a colour related theme, and hoping that in combination our ideas will encourage us, and perhaps you, to think about colour in new ways.

Monday 24 August 2015

Many pictures, few(ish) words

How do the weeks seem to be flying past at such a pace? Here we are again: a look back at our little comings and goings. Yes, I will write a more in-depth and meaningful post at some point. It isn't as though I don't have lots of them in my head (and a few jotted down too). But until we're into September, when deadlines will have been met and I'll have more time at my disposal, those kind of posts will just have to remain on the back burner.

So, without further ado (and in no particular order): our week.

Working: painting and researching local printing companies.

Reading: a new Diana Henry cookery book, From a Distance by Raffaella Barker (a library find), Peppa Pig and Q Pootle 5 stories (library again, but for Joe this time).

Wandering: here and there. Churchyards, river banks, fields and - of course - the railway platform.

Noticing: signs of the approaching autumn. 

Planning: a blackberry picking trip. And looking at recipes for said blackberries.

Appreciating: gifts for Joe. Two lovely knits (courtesy of Auntie T) ready for the colder months.

Wishing: I could knit more than scarves and the most basic of hats.

Wondering: why our dahlias haven't flowered. Everyone else's seem to be fine.

Buying: asters for my mum's grave.

Eating: plums and apples. Pork belly. Takeaway curry.

Drinking: Earl Grey tea. A bit of prosecco. The odd bottle of beer.

Watching: re-runs of Masterchef. Not sure why but I'm addicted to it.

Observing: thunderstorms and torrential night-time downpours.

Choosing: birthday presents for Joe.

Wearing: some of my mum's nightclothes, which are much nicer than my shabby old ones (now destined to become dusters). Billowing cotton nighties, a bit Jane Austen, are my new Thing.

Swapping: the light summer quilt for the heavier winter one. Then realising it's a bit too soon yet.

Hoping: for good weather this coming weekend. We're planning a trip on Grandad's little boat for Joe's birthday.

Deciding: what to bake for a get-together with friends on Wednesday morning.

Discovering: a farm shop just up the road where Joe can play on pedal tractors and feed the chickens and ducks with his little friends.

Trying: to stay optimistic about the house now it's stripped back to its bones.

Feeling: a bit like Amelie, having returned some personal items from the new house to their rightful owners. It took a bit of detective work but they were so thankful. 

Realising: that performing random acts of kindness could become addictive.

Anticipating: the change of season. For so many reasons. I could quite happily live in a world of perpetual autumn.

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...

Thursday 6 August 2015

Scraps, layers, bits and pieces

A little miscellany on a Thursday...

Firstly, thank you for all your lovely comments on my previous post. It was interesting (and funny) to read your stories of house moves; seems our experience struck a chord with many people. I actually saved the worst photos for the solicitors. Whether we'll get anything back, who knows? If it covers the £126 for the hire of a skip we'll be happy.

I've been working on my art whenever time allows, and going out with Joe finding little flowers, leaves and seed heads to bring home and study is always good fun. 

This morning a lovely old man came out to see what I was photographing at the edge of his garden. I explained, and it turns out his wife was an artist. We went into his house and he showed us her paintings. She painted flowers too. Joe was very interested in the grandfather clock.

We've done evening walks with grandparents and lunchtime ambles with flasks and sandwiches. The weather continues to be overcast and windy with sharp showers. My uniform of late consists of jeans and Nordic-style knitted jumpers. I've also pulled on woolly tights in the mornings - quite a combination when worn with a nightie and cardigan. I probably look a bit 'bewildered', as my mum used to say.

Speaking of my mum, my stepdad found some envelopes with seeds she'd collected. Nigella seeds, dill. They're labelled 2013 so I'll see whether they germinate or not. I have her lemon-scented geranium cuttings she gave me and although they're doing OK they could do with a boost. Any advice would be most welcome.

We're very excited about the new garden. Jay's been up there clearing some of the straggly shrubs and taking a couple of trees down. There's plenty to keep too and it's good to see things surfacing as the layers are peeled back. The same goes for indoors. The builders have already ripped out the fitted wardrobes, kitchen, carpets and flooring and in the evenings we find little pieces of the house's history: the plans for the kitchen extension from 1987, a very grimy framed print of a kitsch but (in my opinion) quite sweet floral display. I took it out of the frame as the glass was broken and gave it a wipe down. Not bad.

I also cleaned up the drawing equipment and gave it a bit of beeswax. And the layers of wallpaper - I'm really enjoying seeing them appear as bits of plaster and cladding are removed. It's all very fragile but I do intend to keep these little scraps and maybe put them in a frame. Last night I glimpsed some really lovely paper but it was way out of reach - for now.

We have a big First coming up this weekend: Joe's staying overnight with his grandparents. It'll be our first night without him in very nearly three years. It's not so much the desperate need for a lie-in as that we want to be up and gardening on Saturday. Trips to the new place with him are quite fraught, what with sharp nails and electricals and dirt everywhere. We can get several hours' hard graft in before we go and collect him.

And several hours' hard graft should definitely justify fish and chips afterwards. And beer too.

P.S. To those who suggested it: the builders changed the locks at the new place so we're feeling a lot happier about that.

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