Monday, 27 February 2017

Parrot tulips

Just when all of the spring flowers started to appear, the weather regressed back to its wintery ways.

These peachy, coral coloured parrot tulips have brought with them some spring cheer in between the gale force winds and the rain lashing down.

The winter revival can't last forever, St David's Day is almost upon us, and right on cue the daffodils are opening at a spring-like rate now.

It's so wonderful how the seasons unfold, time after time, bringing their own bounty with them.

Kate  x

Monday, 20 February 2017

From heat waves to snowdrops

I am back in the UK to very pleasant temperatures of around 11 degrees. That won't sound particularly pleasant to many people, but having just been plunged back into an unbearably hot Australian summer with temperatures hovering around 40 degrees for days on end, I am relishing the late winter/early spring days now that I am back in England.

What I am not relishing is the lingering jet lag. I just can't seem to shake it and get back to a sensible sleeping pattern. It didn't help that I landed at 6am on Friday after 24 hours of near-sleepless travel. I was full of good intentions to stay awake as much as possible and limit myself to a two hour nap...

Nine hours later, I woke at 8.20pm. Disaster. 

So on Saturday we devised a masterplan to get out in the cool, fresh air, admiring snowdrops as they come into their best. Crisp, clean, country air is a cure all. The snowdrops were a very pretty added bonus.

This is Cerney House Gardens in Gloucestershire. The woodland walk here is magical during snowdrop season. Great swaths of their pretty little blooms carpet the undergrowth, spilling down alongside muddy paths, and ring the bottom of ancient beech trees. 

I have great admiration for snowdrops. They defy the freezing overnight temperatures to be the first flower to bloom each year. The thick, sodden, decaying layer of autumn leaf and winter debris on the ground can't hold them back, they push through it all, heralding that spring is surely not too far away 

Just about every churchyard in England is visited by snowdrops at this time of the year. It makes for a lovely atmospheric and poignant scene. The Victorians associated snowdrops with death, owing to the way the little bell-shaped flowers bow their heads just above graves, appearing to mimic mourners in churchyards. 

England, once again, delights as it shifts through the seasons. I thought my first autumn here was beautiful and surely couldn't be beaten. I can't imagine what true spring has in store.

Kate  x

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Visiting home

 A little over two weeks ago we swapped the harsh January frosts for a visit back home to Australia (technically not a holiday as such, Alex had to come back for work and I tagged along- so a holiday for me, I guess). Alex flew off to go snowboarding in Japan on his way back to England, but I stayed down under to soak up some summer sunshine and walk barefoot outdoors as much as I possibly could. The vitamin D hit has been lovely, although the temperatures have been a little extreme at times- 40 degrees is just too much. Too stifling. Too scary. I shudder to think how much higher Australian record temperatures can reach...

Still, many days were conducive to being in the garden, and other people's gardens.

I fly back to England tomorrow. I am more than a little excited to get back. It's currently snowdrop season, and I can't wait to watch as the frosts give way to be replaced with more and more spring bulbs, new life, and new growth.

Kate  x

Friday, 10 February 2017

177 years ago

If you saw my collection of books on the subject of Queen Victoria, you would probably think- Kate, you really couldn't possibly need another book about Vic- and you might be right. But I just received a belated birthday gift, and guess what?

Julia Baird has written a really insightful, fascinating and easy to digest book about my favourite historical figure. I've been devouring it in recent days, and I just realised as I got to the chapters on Victoria's wedding and marriage to Prince Albert that today, February 10th, I am reading about these events on the 177th anniversary of their wedding. That is of course if my maths is correct...

The Anthropologist and History lover in me adores real life stories and facts much more than fiction, so here's some lovely little tid bits I've learnt.

Victoria was steadfast in her decision to leave the word "obey" in her wedding vows. Baird writes, 'It was not, for her, a call to subservience, but a reminder that she could not, or perhaps would not, dominate the man she married, as she did the rest of her household, her Cabinet, and her millions of subjects.'

The pattern for Victoria's wedding gown was promptly destroyed after the wedding so that it could never be copied. In attempt to boost the struggling lace industry, Victoria commissioned a large amount of hand-made Honiton lace.

Victoria's white gown popularised bridal white. She chose white mostly to show off the delicate lace detail of her gown. White was a rare and costly colour (bleaching had not yet been perfected) for brides. Her colour choice reflected her wealth, and was not a symbol of purity. 

So, cheers to Vicky and Bertie. 
And cheers to great books for holiday reading!

Kate  x