Sweetbriar Dreams

So where shall we go on our journey today?

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Spring Means New Life

I don't know about you, but for those in the UK do you feel a change in the weather?  Have you felt how warm the sun's rays are?  Have you panicked at the weeds that have suddenly made an appearance and how quick the seedlings have burst out of the soil?  Dare I whisper it?  Has spring finally arrived?  Judging from the blossom that has appeared on my plum tree, I have a feeling it has.  
Now to those lovely people who read my blog regularly you may notice something a little different.  I've had a little bit of a spring clean on my blog.  This is mainly due to the beautiful weather we have been currently having, the blossom that has now burst on the trees, the seeds germinating and the smell of freshly mown lawn once again.  So the header banner has a more springy feel and I have tidied up bits and pieces.

Also I haven't had a chance to go out on a rambling tour this week.  Mainly because I have been working at home due to the office re-decoration, but also because I now have the dreaded 'lurgy'!  How I would love to just curl up at this moment.  So a tour of the garden will have to suffice this week!

Before I start I must really say thank you all so much for your wonderful comments last week about my friend's passing.  She was incredibly special and I have been smiling with the memories that she has left me.  She was a rare individual and so positive about everything around her.  I am blessed to have known her.  This also made me think that life is for living and was very naughty and treated myself to a new camera!  I have mentioned a few times before that I wasn't exactly happy with my last one so after the last difficult couple of weeks I thought, yes, be selfish, buy something for me, something to really cheer me up, something where I can record real images of life, let's capture it properly.  So here it is, a deep red Nikon Coolpix L810, 16mp, 26x zoom, and really easy to use.  I fell in love with it from the first shot!  So clear, so clever and no need for photo editing to put forward the shot I originally wanted.  I am happy with the world again!  Ideally I would have liked a DSLR but I have a film loading one and use this with a tripod for a specific 'patient' shot.  So, this one is ideal!
But hey, let's have some photos from my new 'baby'!  I didn't know what to call this camera (the Fujifilm was called Flo!), I was going to ask for suggestions, but my thoughts are that I bought it with Val's love for life, her love of colours relating to Betty Boop, so it is hereby christened 'Val'!  So come Val, let's go on a short tour of the spring garden.

So firstly, my blog title this week is Spring Means New Life, and today this chrysalis (which has been under the care of Mr Teenager) decided to do just that, spring into life.
I took the delicate, crumpled butterfly outside onto the kitchen window baskets (which have equally been bursting into life) and it turned to say thank you.
Once dry it turned out to be a Cabbage White, hopefully it will find another garden to wreak it's havoc on!

In the greenhouse, things are getting very busy.  Lettuces, tomatoes, radishes, cucumbers, peppers, spring onions, courgettes and runner beans are all racing away.  Here are my peppery lettuce leaves and the start of my tomato seeds (I have had to cheat a little by buying some established too!).
Then in amongst all this was this sleeping Hummingbird Bee (well, I think it is, glad for some advice here)!  We knew we had a couple from when we saw them hovering around the blossom but they are far to quick to capture.  This one was very photogenic though and slept through my daring close up shots!  (Isn't 'Val' amazing?!)
The Daffodils and the Narcissus are all doing well around the different parts of the garden.  These beauties were put in my kitchen window baskets all those months ago and I am surprised that they bloomed this year!
These are in my main raised border in the garden.
These are in my herb garden.
The typical trumpet types are everywhere!
And then tulips!  We were so worried that there wasn't going to be any this year.  The Spalding Flower Parade are really going to be hit for next week's event (which apparently is the last!) - more to come next week on this.  We have a wooded type area next to our garage where we let things naturalize and these certainly haven't let us down this year.
At the back of the house we have a couple in full bloom.  
You can even see the pollen!  This shot reminds me of vanilla pods and custard!
Then there are hyacinths!  But my favourites are the tiny grape hyacinths.  Again planted in my kitchen window sill baskets.  
But shall we take a break from the flowers for a moment while the birds have a feed?
Remember I told you that I will be an auntie very soon (next month!).  I have been very busy with a pram blanket which was harder as we don't know what they are having.  The inspiration was from Jan Eaton's 200 Crochet Blocks (Pattern 189 - Willow).
 I have done this in grey and white as this will fit in with most colour schemes and it has come out in a lovely lacy pattern.
The edging was done using triple stitches and bobble stitches.  All done, now waiting for the arrival.  So excited!!
 Now back to the garden.  This is the front of the house, very pitiful compared to the rest, however the weeping pear's blossom is coming through now and the greenery is starting to appear.  This will be my project this weekend to add some more colour and interest.
There are daisies in the lawn but I don't mind that at all.  More wildlife buzzing around that way, and what speaks of summer more.
And lastly, saying goodbye to the winter rose (helloborum).  This will soon be surrounded by peace lilies and gladioli.
So, VERY happy with 'Val' and my new spring like blog posts.  Hopefully back to normal 'tour' business next week with the Spalding Flower Parade.  I'll try and get a good position for you.

Now off to my sick bed and sleep!

Have a wonderful weekend and I look forward to catching up with your posts.

P.S.  Don't forget to follow me on Bloglovin before the 'deadline', and I'll also be updating my Facebook page a bit more to include other photos throughout the weeks.

Take care.

This week I am sharing with:

Saturday, 20 April 2013

A Food and Craft Event at Sandringham, Norfolk

There is a regular event that myself and mumsy take ourselves off to called the Sandringham Craft Fair, where the Queen opens up her Norfolk home's grounds for these events.  This takes on a few different guises throughout the year but last weekend's version was a food and craft fair.  We decided to go on the Friday rather than the weekend as it wouldn't be so crowded and the weather was said to be better for that day(...it rained!).  There were so many craft and food stalls that we didn't know where to start, but we were drawn to the main arena where there was a line of spectators in the middle and an eagle owl finishing off his 'treat' before flying between them.
After a gentle coaxing, he delighted the crowds.
To the right of the arena was the deafening sound of the chainsaw sculptors.  They are regularly at these events and I am always in awe of the intricate beauty that they produce from such a large piece of machinery and a plain piece of wood.
We returned later to this same artist to see how he was getting along...
...and to look further at their other work.
This eagle is amazing!  To think this is done with a chainsaw shows the skill that these artist's possess.
However, before we got too drawn in, this was also a FOOD fair, meaning lots of tasters...and it was lunch time, so we bypassed this sign for the alternative meats (I know what you are thinking, 6oz...what??!)...
...and headed for the food tent where we were greeted with so many tempting tasting posts.  There were cheeses, the usual olive stand (why do they always charge so much after you have asked for a small pot...and the taster from them...sun dried tomato - yum, a cheese - yum and a whole clove of garlic...wasn't expecting that when I bit down on it!!), pickles, jams, salami's...
Some amazing breads were on display from this stall.  I bought a huge iced bun for the family...delicious!
Mumsy bought my Dad a great looking pie for his tea from 'The Cheese and Pie Man'.
There was so much to choose from but only so much we could carry, so we made our way out towards the craft tents.  Now at some fairs I get very disappointed as my expectations are too high, but sometimes I find one stall that will stand out from the crowd, something a bit different, not just with the goods set out, but actually making the items to sell in full view - showing how they do their craft.  There were a few at this fair, and this one has to be my favourite!  This lady makes goblins!  Detailed, individual goblins (take a look at her website here).
The workmanship that she has put into these and her imagination is spectacular.
If I had to choose a favourite, it would be this one...
I love the facial expression!

And look at these delectable little shoes and hats.  It reminds me of the story the Elves and the Shoemaker.
Moving on (even though I could have spent hours looking at this lady's work!), there were quite a few pottery stalls, dishes and containers from Cotswold Pottery...
...then some great, individual, fun pottery.  I love the toothbrush holders!!
And then there was this...
At first I thought this was a rusty helmet but no, these potters are amazing (their website is here).
Along with the potters were quilters...
Soap makers...
Bead Makers...
Such an intricate craft.
 HUGE crochet hooks and knitting needles!
More hot work, this one making glass horses...
And then there were these fantastic wooden and slates signs.  I love the one saying 'plant with a latin name' and the one called 'weed'!
And how many of you can relate to this one...
Then there was the craft of the corn dolly.  This one gave me the chilly wobbles!  But, look at the different designs, such a clever craft.
Now this man collects antlers that have naturally fallen and sells them on.
He also creates natural walking sticks.  The one in the forefront is silver birch naturally wrapped in honeysuckle...
Outside there were metal crafts...
Wind chimes that were put together to resemble stringed puppets...
There were so many more crafts but time was against us once again and we knew we would be back in a couple of months for more.

So, off we set with the top of Sandringham House in the distance.
If you ever manage to go to one of these Living Heritage Fairs they really are a great day out.

Now, some other news, remember my post on my two bad things that happened and waiting for the third?  I thought this may have been when my dog Coco decided to use the greenhouse door as a dog flap a while ago, but I'm afraid not.  Unfortunately I lost a very good and close friend last Sunday evening to cancer.  A true 'Cockney Sparrow', who was a joy to be around.  She had the sort of personality where everything was bright and breezy even though life dealt her some very hard and tough blows.  Her hugs were literally breath taking and she had nicknames for all those she met.  Mine was 'Chipper' because I was always smiling.   She was told about her cancer just before Christmas and in a way I am thankful that she did not have to suffer for too long with the pain and progression that this took on her body.  I last saw her on Saturday afternoon when she was sleeping but she soon realised someone was with her and opened her eyes to say 'Hi Chips'.  I held her hand the whole time I was there and she whispered after a while 'make me smile' and I tried my best to do this.  She was sedated soon after I left and she died the following day.   Her husband rang me early morning to tell me the news and I have pretty much been on auto pilot since.  I'm ok when I am with people to put on 'an act' but then once in the car on my own, the tears start to flow.  It's hard, so hard to think that someone so wonderful could be taken so quickly.  Her funeral is on Tuesday and that is going to be a very trying time for all who knew her.  May you now rest in peace my Valentine Val xx

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