I know we're not quite at September's end yet, but it's been a while since I last wrote a post and it's been a month filled with all kinds of things. New discoveries, projects completed and new ones started, a house to renovate. But in between we've managed to fit in lots of family time and outdoor adventures.
I've been making some more lino cuts ready for a craft fair (which will be held on Halloween). Also, drawing and painting - fuelled by treacle toffee and cups of tea - and so many meetings at the printers. But my A-Z prints are due to arrive any day now. I'm trying not to think about putting them all into frames...
We've been on family walks. The weather's just perfect for me right now: sunshine, breezes and that slight chill in the air.
Joe's settled into his new preschool routine after an initial wobble. I drop him off in the mornings and he asks why I can't stay and play.
Me: 'Because preschool's for little boys and little girls. They go there and play.'
Joe: 'And mummies go to parties'.
I can assure you, my child-free time is not spent attending parties.
It's such a beautiful time of the year. We've gathered seed heads and displayed them in vases, and have been out picking berries.
A few weeks ago we stumbled upon a field filled with nodding sunflowers. I took a lot of photographs and brought a few dried heads home for the squirrels.
The chillier nights have been all about staying home, keeping cosy and relaxing. I love to read in bed and have finished a few Armistead Maupin books. They're the most recent from the 'Tales of the City' series and make for good reading when you're tired: not too challenging but funny. Probably a complete contrast to what I'm about to start. I picked up a dog-eared copy of 'The Bridges of Madison County' last week in a charity bookshop. The film makes me sob inconsolably so I've no idea what the book's going to do to me.
After that I'm going to read 'Housekeeping' by Marilynne Robinson. Having scanned the blurb on the back cover it looks like it could be just my kind of thing.
We've been eating lots of keep-the-cold-out food: cauliflower cheese, braised chicken, curry. And there have been seasonal bakes too. Yes, the recipes are Nigel Slater ones (chocolate and damson cake and a sticky ginger cake). Yes, I desperately want Kitchen Diaries III. It's on my list. Along with the Laura Ingalls Wilder 'Little House' books.
I've noticed that things are getting a little bit festive in the supermarkets. It doesn't bother me too much but I did feel a bit irritated when I saw Christmas cards on display in late August. Time flies too much as it is; I know it's sensible to start putting a bit of money away and maybe start making things in advance but what about savouring autumn? All Hallow's Eve, bonfires, mists and mellow fruitfulness?
There's so much to enjoy right now. The food, the weather, the little details. The days are getting shorter and the sun's getting lower in the sky.
I want to make the most of golden autumn before winter comes along.
Speaking of seasonal abundance, we've been on a few blackberry picking expeditions. They were - excuse the obvious pun - fruitful. But our usual spot wasn't great this year. We may well have timed it wrong, but the berries just weren't there. Instead there were plenty of elderberries ripe for the foraging so we filled our bag and felt lucky that one absent hedgerow delicacy had at least been replaced by another.
The result: bramble and elderberry jelly. Nine jars of it. Much will be given away; I'll keep a few back for ourselves. I'm thinking pancakes and perhaps a Victoria sponge.
The house renovations continue. Despite having met quite possibly the rudest plasterer ever, everything's going (more or less) to plan. We spend any Joe-free time sanding, filling and applying undercoat. It's dusty and dirty but things are taking shape. Yesterday we spent the day there and ate a picnic lunch in the back garden. It was really warm and sunny. The buddleia next door is still in flower and was smothered in butterflies, and I'm pleased that the violets poking through the grass haven't been squashed by the tradesmen.
We received compensation from the vendors because of the time and money we had to spend clearing the house. It's most welcome. Even a modest little cottage costs a lot of money to renovate. We're not talking fancy finishes or top-of-the-range fixtures and fittings, just simple and basic stuff. My, how it all adds up.
So, September's almost at an end. But not quite. Despite this constant busy-ness, the plate-spinning and multi-tasking, I'm trying to find time to stop and enjoy the little things. I hope you are too. Have a good week.
PS. I had a sleepless night last night and am kicking myself for not having got up to watch the eclipse...