jelly print of walk

something to hold

Do you worry that everything is digital nowadays and wonder if future generations will have something to hold in their hands that we touched? Everything seems to be on-screen now. Handwritten letters are rare, postcards almost non-existent and official documents are filed online.

When Bill went travelling he diligently wrote a letter to his parents once a month or thereabouts, all of which his mother kept to hand back to him when he arrived home and occasionally he flicks through them and revives a distant memory. Now, our children update us from far flung places by Facebook, which is instant but fleeting and will doubtless float off in the ether, lost to us all. Photos are stored on computers that crash or on free cloud storage with no guarantee of permanency and I have a pile of cine film, VHS tapes, cassette tapes and floppy disks loaded with memories but now unreadable.

I was pondering all this as I replaced some of the way mark discs (for the public footpaths and bridleways) around the farm that have faded or mysteriously disappeared.  I went past the flowering violets, primroses and cowslips and lichen on bare branches along a track that has been walked for hundreds of years and wondered how many people had walked along and noticed the same things, watched the seasons roll past and trees grow from tiny acorns to spreading oak trees. Almost imperceptible daily changes that we take for granted and yet add up to massive change over the years. So, of course we don’t mark or record it and the memory of how it used to be disappears.

making jelly prints

On the way I stuffed a few bits and pieces in my pockets – leaves, feathers and flowers (though I ate the violets) and used them to make jelly prints that I folded into little books as a permanent memory.

 

One of them is a snake book, which unfolds rather like a walk and the other has pockets in which to tuck collected things or perhaps photographs (if I get them printed) and an unfolding narrative of the walk in the back.

An evening spent in frivolous creativeness. Because sometimes it’s good to have something to hold. A reminder of how it is today, because it’s bound to change in the future. Though obviously only for me because my children will almost certainly throw them out, which I completely understand (I would do the same).

How do you store your experiences and memories for future generations? Does it really matter?

What happens on a farm?

ducks

Let’s have a change from the normal.

Inspired by Jane’s Weekend Photo Safari and Cecilia’s audio track of the animals in her barn, I thought I’d combine the two with a video of yesterday on the farm.

This is a rather staccato video * – more slideshow almost – looking for eggs, checking scarecrows that should be keeping the pigeons off the oilseed rape, shutting up hens, tucking the sourdough up for the night. Nothing exciting, but life is like that sometimes don’t you think? When I watched it back, I was amazed at how noisy it is here. Not the bird song or cockerel crowing but the noise from the road. I didn’t realise how much I blank it out and listen for noises above it. No wonder, when we’re walking, we so often comment how beautifully quiet it is.

These are the two posts that inspired me. Click to look or listen.

The Shady Baker: Weekend Photo Safari

The Kitchens Garden: Shh, just listen

 

* My rather sparse filming technique is a direct reaction to childhood memories of watching home cine films where my mother slowly, slowly panned across the tulip fields of Holland (so slowly I swear we could have counted every individual flower in those vast fields).

Simple pleasures

Making time for simple pleasures …

 

scones and jam

 

Baking scones. One of the easiest and quickest things to bake. Less than ten minutes to get everything weighed out, mixed and in the oven. Another ten or fifteen minutes in the oven and they’re on the plate. Almost as quick as wrestling open a packet of biscuits with their annoying little Open Here tag.

 

library books

 

Making the most of my library card. Our local library has reduced its hours as part of the cutbacks and I wonder how long the council will consider it viable. It’s the best thing about our town, so it would be a terrible shame to lose it. Currently I am between fiction books so Bill offered me some of his – I could choose from Dead Man’s Land, A Time to Kill or The Dying Hours. Hmmm. A bit of a theme running through those titles.

 

enjoying the late afternoon un

 

Sitting for five minutes on the back doorstep with a cup of tea. Time enough to enjoy the late afternoon sunshine and listen to the birdsong. And just long enough to realise that there’s a lot to do in the garden.

 

bedroom

 

Making the bed with sheets that have hung outside on the washing line to blow dry in the spring sunshine. So much better than winter sheets dried above the boiler with their faint whiff of kerosene.

 

Slamseys Strawberry Gin with mouse

 

 

Deciding how to drink my Strawberry Gin. I know, it’s a tough life.

 

Happy Friday, friends (to borrow Jane’s phrase).

 

 

A wreath for spring

willow heart

 

The birds are singing, the sun is shining and it feels as though spring has arrived. On the farm, there is much work to do; there’s been a flurry of spraying and fertiliser spreading, the spring beans have been sown and ground has been cultivated in preparation for Christmas tree planting.

 

In a burst of spring clearing in the garden, I cut down the catmint and lavender and finally took down the hanging basket that has been hanging forlornly outside the kitchen window for months years. I’m useless at looking after hanging baskets. I forget to water them and then I don’t notice that the plants have died and that the anticipated cascade of brilliantly coloured flowers has been replaced by a tangled mass of brown leaves with one bright green weed determinedly pushing through. For the last two years, I haven’t even planted this hanging basket and I’ve felt moderately guilty every time I glanced at it.

 

The bracket looked rather bare without the basket so I decided to decorate it with something low maintenance. In one of our fields we have a willow tree that years ago fell across the track. The top of the trunk was sawn off but the uprooted base remained and every year sends up new growth, just within my reach. I had an idea that I could cut some of these whippy willow branches to make a willow ball that I could hang from the bracket. Then practical common sense prevailed and I decided that a wreath would be an awful lot easier and quicker. A heart shaped one seemed spring-like, though I’m not sure why.

 

Should you be thinking about making a wreath to celebrate spring or Mothering Sunday or Easter or just because you can, here’s how to do it. Now is the time to cut willow though hazel or any flexible branch will do the job.

 

 

how to make a willow heart

You’ll need six whippy branches about 140 centimetres long, some florists wire and twine or raffia.

Use the branches as soon as you’ve cut them so that they’re still flexible and bend them into a U shape. They won’t hold their shape but they will stay a bit bent. Divide into two bunches of three and lay them on the table with the thin twiggy ends crossing over diagonally  and wire these ends together.

 

how to make a willow heart step 2

Now, take the thick end of the left hand bunch and bend it over so that it crosses the right hand bunch about 25cms above the wired crossover. Wire it into place and then repeat with the right hand bunch onto the left, threading the branches through the already bent branches, rather than simply laying them on top, as this will hold the shape better.

 

Use twine or raffia to cover the wire (or holding the branches in place, remove the wire and replace with twine, raffia, ribbon or whatever). Trim the thick ends of the branches to neaten and use a piece of twine or ribbon to make a hanging loop.

willow heart wreath

 

Decorate. You can wire in your decorations but I just poked flowers in as I shall replace them when they start to die and will probably add more at Easter.

Hang. On a door or from a tree or bracket where it will turn in the breeze. Hang it inside. Hang it outside.

Enjoy.

The wreath will last for ages so you can decorate it through the year. I’ve made a stack of hearts (because they’re so easy) and shall decorate them with roses in summer, perhaps with a little lavender threaded through and in autumn they can be decorated with rosehips and ivy. If you’re handy with the crochet hook then you could crochet a multitude of flowers as Elizabeth did here.

 

Instructions for a round wreath

An Easter Wreath