Getting Plastered

I hope that I’m coming to the end of posts with pictures of building works, it may be informative but they are hardly the most colourful things to decorate my blog.  I’ve been debating whether to put the latest ones on first and get them out of the way, or whether to save them till the end and start with prettiness.  I’m really failing on the creativity front at the moment, with all my stuff in boxes, so I’ve been making the most of the colour in the garden and elsewhere.

Tim is away at work again so I am back on dog walking duty, and with the bright sunshine it’s been good to take the camera along.  Bright sunshine, but still an iciness in the breeze so the walking has been brisk and photo opportunities taken speedily. I’ve just discovered that I have managed to delete the  photos of Higgins on today’s walk so if anyone is waiting for an aaah moment, sorry but no doubt another one will come along tomorrow.  He seems to have got the cute thing down to a fine art.

So, let’s get the exciting pictures of drying plaster out of the way.  Actually that sounds as if I’m not excited, and I am. With any luck the studio will be all but finished by next weekend. I had been hoping to be painting this weekend, but the weather hasn’t been helpful with drying out.


and, complete with builder…

..and, you can see my stable door!

Meanwhile, out in the garden…

..actually Higgins has managed to get in on the act…

..I found the first primrose…

…tiny cyclamen under the weeping willow tree…

Delicate blue crocuses …

Bold and brash, purple and gold…

…and blue and yellow.

Meanwhile, back indoors, the tulips are going all unneccessary.  Why do they do that?

 ..and down the lane there is lichen…

and moss and ferns…

Spring is definitely springing…

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Here comes the sun…

…for at least two days according to the forecast (and then the snow’s back…)so I had a wizz round the garden with the camera.  You’ll be glad to know my camera issues have been resolved so the moaning will stop!.   With the  help of Ebay I now have THREE cameras!  When I went back to the nice and long suffering man at the London Camera Exchange with the new Olympus camera that I couldn’t get on with,  I took along the ‘steam’ camera that Tim had bought on Ebay, a Fuji Finepix 6800Zoom which had seemed so ‘state of the art’ when I had one nearly a decade ago.  I showed it to the nice man and said, ‘I just want a camera that takes pictures like this’.  And he couldn’t sell me one.  He said he had had the same camera for about four years, it has a fantastic lens, Tim had got an incredible bargain from Ebay and he gave me a full refund on the one I had had since November!  What amazing service.  He suggests I go back later in the year when the next generation of cameras comes in to see what would suit me.  Meanwhile Tim went back on to Ebay to get a memory card for it and bought a second camera for the same price as a memory card, and finally found an F650 (again at a bargain price) which was the model that I wore out last year.  So I have no excuse now for not filling my blog with lots of pictures – in focus!

As it’s St David’s Day and my daughter was born in Wales I have to include daffodils…

..but a little trip round the garden found things popping out in the sunshine.

It was interesting to see things from the perspective of someone very short…

Slightly out of focus, but Higgins hasn’t had a lot of photography practise so far…

Just to be completely greedy, I  had a pink tulip moment when I went shopping this afternoon,

…and then in the ‘slightly sad and lonely’ bucket, I found these, which just begged to come home with me to be appreciated…

…and I had some help arranging them…

It’s amazing what you can train a dachshund to do…

Growth Spurt

Over the last few days I’ve been watching a hyacinth growing…you can almost see it with the naked eye, but I recorded it more simply with daily photos…

It’s not the most floriferous hyacinth, nor the most colourful, but it’s scent is just as amazing as any of it’s more spectacular cousins and it’s filling the ground floor of the house with the smell of Spring.

Meanwhile, in the garden…

The crocuses seem to have pushed up over night.  Hold on a minute though, what’s that brown shape in the top left hand corner…?

Just checking, are they edible?

From a dachshund point of view, the answer is probably yes…Oh dear…

Higgins has also had a growth spurt, the little black coat he wears for his walks has become like a sausage skin, so we decided to buy another one from Equafleece, this time in a more stylish colour.   His immediate reaction when we tried it on him was “Oh, NO!  A walk!” cue a mad dash to hide in his bed…

He’s just a little ‘weeny’, in every sense of the word!

It’s been raining…

…quite a bit.  This time last year I would have been happy to turn my back on the weather and find things to distract me indoors, but that was before I was a dog owner. So while I was happy to park myself on the sofa with a DVD  (‘Batman Begins’ – I’ve never seen it – very good) and my latest woolly project (cue tantalizing glimpse…can you tell what it is yet?)…

…I was very aware that I had a small energetic bundle of fun to tire out before bedtime. In the middle of the afternoon the room was filled with that lovely golden light that comes when half the sky is a clear washed blue and the other half is inky with passing rain..

…so it was time to press the pause button and put on the wellies.  Poor Higgins, it’s  bit rough only being three inches off the ground when the puddles are four inches deep!  As it is the house training takes three steps forward and two back every rainy day.  I wonder if you can get umbrellas for dachshunds?

We compromised by splashing down the road and walking back through the grass at the edge of the field to wash the mud off Higgins’ tum.

Although it didn’t go entirely to plan…

Once we got home all that was required was a warm dry towel…

…and a nice cup of liquorice tea…

A Colour Infusion

I try so hard this time of the year to convince myself I like autumn.  I look at all the beautiful photographs in Country Living of autumn leaves, and snuggly coats and interesting things to do with sweet chestnuts.  I read articles about the joys of crisp mornings and hot chocolate by a roaring fire and, while I like all these things, nothing can make up for the shortening of the days, and the prospect of the colour gradually leeching out of the surroundings as winter approaches.

Today has been glorious and I took the camera out to capture the last few flashes of colour in the garden

09

So while it’s sunny outside I make the most of the colour left in the year, and when the weather turns, I, and my studio assistants, Henry…

…and Higgins…

…(Oh dear, you can’t get the staff!)… get stuck into the dye bath and making our own colourful landscape.  Using the microwave has been a revelation as far as dyeing is concerned.  I’ve never really used it it much in the kitchen apart from defrosting things, heating up my wheat bag and exploding custard (don’t ask).

dyes

Using the Easifix dyes I’ve been able to work out a foolproof method of mixing the dyes, getting reliable results and not ending up with multicoloured hands and splashes all over the walls. I had the most wonderful time experimenting with mixing the powders and the amounts and have been really excited by the variety of hues possible just using the four shades, Turquoise, Golden Yellow, Ultramarine and Magenta. I have been so organised! colour swatches

…and now I have a whole gardenful of beautiful yarn to play with…

If I never made anything with all these gorgeous colours I would happily sit and look at them, but I do have a project in mind…

Great Dixter

It’s quite disapointing that having got SO exited about my trip to the gardens at Great Dixter and paying homage to the master, Christopher Lloyd, the reaction of so many of my friends and aquaintances has been “Where?” and “Who?”.  I have been an armchair gardener for many years, and have followed the television gurus right from the beginning.  Percy Thrower? Yes,  I started at very young age (and there was little else on television!) He had a greenhouse with no glass in the studio, and all his flowers bloomed in  black and white.  There was Peter Seabrooke on Pebble Mill at One,  the wonderful Geoffrey Hamilton, Alan Titchmarsh and the gardening woman’s crumpet, Monty Don. They all deferred to the great Christo Lloyd. As far as I know he didn’t ever do much on TV, he would occasionally turn up being deferentially interviewed by one of the above on Gardeners World and tantalizing glimpses would be shown of the house and gardens.  I couldn’t imagine that I would ever be in the vicinity of  Great Dixter for any reason to be able to visit, hence my great excitement.

The house itself is amazing.  Nathaniel Lloyd, Christopher’s father, bought the original farmhouse, immediate grounds and farm buildings in 1910.  As the  comfortably-off owner of a printing works, Nathaniel retired in his forties, and as the father of six, of whom Christopher was the youngest, he wanted to restore and enlarge the house.  With his architect, the now renowned Edwin Lutyens the house was enlarged.

As you aproach the house, the porch, and every thing to the right is 15th or early 16th Century.  Lloyd and Lutyens bought and transported the derelict remains of a timber house nine miles away to become an integral part of the main building.

Porch

Everything to the left of the porch is by Edwin Lutyens…

Lutyens wing

We hadn’t factored in a trip round the house, but having seen pictures of the interior, that is a must for the next visit.

 

But now, the garden…

We were given a clue as to what would be in flower, of particular interest to me as my own garden peaks about mid June and peters out into dull green and brown for the next seven months. Well I did say I was an armchair gardener, and who takes anything in anyway when gazing at Monty Don?

The Long Border at Great Dixter has always been spoken of reverentially…

long border

canna lily long border
long border

And I loved the tropical garden.  Christopher Lloyd was always wanting to move on and change things, and scandalised some of the gardening fraternity by ripping out his mothers rose garden to create this.  I’m always a bit wary of anything ‘tropical’ plonked in the middle of an English country garden and can’t get my head round palm trees and alien spiky things.  But this was tropical colour, and really worked.  Even banana plants.

t

I tried very hard to photograph a bee on a dahlia.  If you look closely you can just see the bee’s bum disapearing off the top right hand corner!

But I got him in the end!

And a friend!  Even the alien spikey things are photogenic,

and I just kept finding more and more textures and shapes…

…and kept snapping and snapping…

..until we reached the bottom of the garden!

I think I actually reached overload at this point, both in my heads and in my camera  and that is why it has taken so long to get to grips with this post!  So, without further ado, I shall press publish (and be damned) …

Getting there slowly…

Enough time today to tackle my photograph mountain.  While trawling through all the colour I realised I had all sorts of beautiful natural tones and textures which deserve a little appreciation all on their own.

 A roof at Great Dixter, and all these lovely images from inside the barn.cow parsley

ladder

wooden peg

An amazing wall in Rye…

 

textiles

Luxurious textiles at Sheffield Park

shells

And a shell encrusted anchor on the sea front of Hastings.