“What is one to say about June…

… the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise
of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade.”
–  Gertrude Jekyll,  On Gardening

 

Last Sunday we decided to take the day off from cleaning and clearing and go down into Derbyshire for a walk around the open gardens in the village of Birchover near Bakewell.

It was if you remember a very hot day and not a lot of shade for me but I was determined to see as many of the gardens as possible I just had to walk more quickly around the ones out in the open.  Luckily most people have a tree or two which provided me with some cover when I needed it.

We began our tour at an artists garden – this was my absolute favourite although my photo does not do it justice.

I have never seen a garden with such a limited colour palette before but this one really works.  There were three basic colours –  green of course with many shades and tones  of purple and cream through to lemon.  The planting was casual and mainly Ferns, Irises, Alchemilla Mollis, Geranium and Lavender and the majestic plant to the right (which may be a Thalictrum?) all surrounding a daisy lawn.  The paint colour of the house toned in well with the garden.  The effect was amazing.

Behind this ladies cottage is a tiny white-painted chalet used as an artist’s studio and gallery complete with wood burning stove.  This would be my absolute dream.

 

Before long we headed for the village hall named the Reading Rooms were they were serving tea and cakes.

 

 

The hall has now had a full refurbishment and is well used by all members of the community.

The notice on the wall made interesting reading – the hall opened in 1907, but only men were allowed to go and read the newspapers provided to broaden their horizons.   The rules state that 3 newspapers had to be provided (which I forgot to make a note of but I think one was the Sporting Times!) and no women were allowed.

It was a good cup of tea and a delicious slice of Victoria sandwich cake made by the village ladies.

Lower down the lane is the church of St Michael’s originally built as a private chapel for the owners of Rowtor Hall.

It is a modest church with a tiny graveyard sited next to the huge old vicarage (now a private residence).  In the large picture below you can see that this would have been the garden entrance from the hall which then became the vicarage from what I understand.

 

In contrast to the traditional window in the chancel the stained glass windows pictured below in the South wall are the work of acclaimed artist Brian Clarke and generously gifted to the village.  Clarke lived in Birchover for a number of years and his work has worldwide recognition.

 

The striking clear colours and simple shapes are stunning.

 

The pew ends had been delicately decorated with a few wild flowers for the event.

On leaving the church we decided to wander further down the lane to stay in the shade.

The notice above is asking the Council not to spray this section of verge to preserve the wild flowers and the organic garden beyond.

 

We eventually came across Rowtor Rocks – a series of caves and intriguing rocks to explore  – we will definitely go back and have a walk around here another day.  This is just one of the unusual caves at the entrance.

 

Such a beautiful day the light dancing on the water and through the overhanging trees was quite spectacular.

We walked all the way up to Rocking Stone Farm with the promise of Pimms and strawberries – well worth the trek even in the heat.

We walked back into the village and spent another hour wandering from garden to garden.  On the South side of the village all the gardens seemed to have a stream running through or a babbling brook probably coming from the same source and occasionally disappearing underground in places.  Most of the gardens had made a feature of the water like the picture below.

Out on the main street under the shade of the trees was a pottery stall run by two lovely ladies who belonged to a co-operative pottery studio.

 

This little bowl in particular caught my eye  – I am told it is a bubble glaze – and you might now spot it on my dining room table!

 

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starting with a fresh page…

I have hesitated and pondered about writing this blog post – it is not easy to begin again after my long ‘gap year’ last year, to say nothing of finding some time to sit and think of what to write.  I worry in case this is the only post I produce again this year and another unforseen crisis will suddenly strike and prevent me from having any time for blogging.   As you may well have guessed last year was not an easy one as we continued to try to sort out our flood damaged cottage with the insurers, keep up with the extra demands of work since the death of my colleague and progress the probate to a conclusion.

But…it was not all doom and gloom and the highlight of the year was my eldest daughters decision to get married in the July.  The wedding on 30th July was followed on the 31st with our Ruby Wedding anniversary and my granddaughters 2nd birthday on the 1st August – what a weekend of celebrations and cake spent with friends and family.

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I spent every spare minute between January and July planning and organising the wedding, sewing miles and miles of bunting, making confetti, favours, invitations and doing alterations.  Believe me, 6 months is not very long to do everything you have to do to for a wedding especially as it took place in Scotland 250 miles away in my husband’s home town.  Having our cottage out of action did not help but my daughter felt she could not hang on any longer for it to be fixed so we went ahead and hired a farmhouse nearby for the week.

Wedding Flowers

We had the most wonderful day – glorious weather which was just as well as the reception was very much an outdoor wedding held at Castle Kennedy Gardens on the Castle Kennedy estate owned by Lord Stair.  It was here that my daughter’s Great granddad lived and worked as head gardener from the twenties to about 1960.  The wedding ceremony took place in the nearby Inch Church where her dad was baptised and her grandparents worshipped.  So a very special place for our family and what better place for a wedding.

The style of the wedding was a mix of formal and informal but very much home made with lots of summery flowers, peonies and roses in peaches and creams.  The bridesmaids wore floaty long coral dresses and the little one ivory.  The formal ceremony took place in church and a white Morris Minor took them on to the reception.  We had an old fahsioned Afternoon Tea on picnic tables before the sit down buffet of salads and cold meats for the evening meal in the marquee, then lots of dancing.

We made plenty of these signs to get people from their hotels to the church and reception…

wedding-signs

and we made all the notices from free pieces of wood from the recycle bin outside the Ikea store in Leeds and painted them with blackboard paint…

the-running-order

We also made some of the flower arrangements ourselves…these hanging cones on the stone pillars at the entrance to the Church were made of chicken wire lined with Sphagnum moss

with a hidden jam jar of water inside to hold the flowers…

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The bride and groom left the church to the sound of Scottish pipes…

outside-the-church

We held a drinks reception in the beautiful walled garden by the old ruin castle.

castle kennedy

With plenty of bubbles being blown

Wedding Bubbles

We also made large cut out photo frames and dotted these around the grounds for guests to take selfies…

selfies

Then it was afternoon tea on the lawns by the old painted tea room…a casual affair on the picnic tables

Afternoon Tea

 

castle-kennedy

then the afternoon interlude when our guests could wander the grounds or sit and take in the view or play games…putting up the little princess castle proved more difficult than putting up the marquee…

little-castle

but it proved to be a big hit with the kids…

Playtime

and everyone amused themselves in the sunshine whilst the bridal party had all their pictures taken…

bridal-party

Then all too soon it was time for the sit down buffet in the marquee – we decorated this ourselves with bunting and paper lampshades and large vases of hydrangeas from our cottage garden…

marquee

We designed and made the table plans that complemented the invitations and mounted these on long sticks stuck into herb pots…

seating-plans

the favours we made were tiny biodegradable seed pots (10p for 30) with a packet of wild flower seeds in printed envelopes placed inside

and a packet of Scottish shortbread made by a friends mum…

on each table was a different poem or verse about love and marriage and flowers…

table-numbers

 

Marquee

after the meal we had a lot of fun with the speeches…

the-speeches

and finally the ceilidh with music provided by the brilliant band the Veritable Ceilidh Club…

marquee-at-night

then everyone joined in the dancing and on such a warm evening we were able to spill outside  – it all looked very magical by night lit up with fairy lights and candles around the castle and large lanterns in the trees –  and not a midge in sight…how lucky were we?

marquee-outside

Once the wedding day and celebrations were over it was straight back to dealing with the insurers over the flood damage and the probate project. In October we bought a caravan to put on site at the cottage – it is wonderful to have a base at last.  No more B&B’s and hotels… a place to call  home at last until we get our cottage sorted.l1040676

Just to leave you with a recent picture of my granddaughter – she has grown quite a bit over the past year and she is just a joy to us all.

xmas-selfie

So a very apprehensive blogger is looking forward to the coming year and hoping it will be a year where we actually see some results for all our hard work during the last few difficult years.

A belated Happy New Year to you all – I have a lot of catching up to do and I hope some of my old blogging friends are still out there.

 

 

 

 

home and away…

We came back from our jolly hols in Scotland yesterday.  It has been a mixture of hard work in our cottage garden interspersed with a little relaxation and the odd trip out (or two) – more news on this another day.

Drummore2

 

As I have been away from my blog for what seems like a lifetime I have a bit of catching up to do as well as filling regular readers in on just what has been happening over here and just where the journey has taken me recently.  But not all at once – this is merely to check in and say hi – hope you are all well and enjoying the summer.

Drummore

 

Stairhaven

 

I know tomorrow when I return to work I will hit the ground running.  I seriously wish I could leave now – all though I do love my job it has begun to take over my life and there are so many things I want to do whilst I still can.  I have lost all control on our finances and I have a heap of receipts to deal with.  Luckily the bills are always taken care of so I need not worry too much about missing a payment but I do like to balance my statements and know where my money has been spent.

Having said that I did arrive home yesterday to a letter from Yorkshire Water saying we had not paid them.  For some reason when we had the meter installed last year I thought we had switched to direct debit but it appears not and I should have reset the standing order in April.

My other mail was an assortment of the usual marketing junk, voting papers for building societies and bank statements which I still get on paper; hidden amongst the pile was my most recent issue of Country Living so that brought a smile to my face and eased the pain of dealing with all the rest.

I spent most of today unpacking – funny that it seems to take longer to unpack than pack – but  because it was hot during the two weeks we were away and the rented cottage we stayed in had a washing machine most of the clothes I took came back clean and could just go straight into the drawers leaving only two or three small loads of washing to do which I did manage to get outside and dry on the line before the heavens opened.

Cottage

Now I only have the really dirty gardening clothes to wash but these will have to have a pre-soak as we have both spent the best part of the fortnight scrambling around in the undergrowth.  The cottage may still be in a dire need of repair but the garden has certainly sprung to life and become even more vigorous since the flood  – all that fertiliser washing down over the fields I expect.  I don’t suppose there are many people who take their gardening outfits on holiday LoL!!  I should really splash out on some designer gear – something a little more special than Sainsbury’s own t-shirts and stretchy jeans.  Perhaps Joanna Lumley takes her gardening clothes when she holidays at her cotttage up the road from us!

My travel items have been sorted, refilled and repacked ready for our next visit and what my long-suffering hubby calls ‘the mobile library’ that we take is back on the book shelves – this consists of three bags full of a variety of gardening books and note books just in case I need to know the best place for a plant or need some design inspiration.  Of course since the flood we have to take everything up and down with us now unless it will keep in the garage – but usually this is just the gardening tools that we store in there as it is a bit too damp for most things.

Annoyingly I have found that the mice quite like to eat gardening gloves and shred my green kneeling pad to bits to build their nests so I have to hide them in a drawer!

I am now in the throes of planning out July.  I have a few appointments – hair, eyes, mammogram and one to make for a massage using my mother’s day token.  I have a few birthdays and anniversaries; my sister-in-law, myself, a couple of friends and our wedding anniversary.  I desperately need to go shopping for clothes and shoes  – a combination of a little excess weight acquired during our last few months of very unhealthy eating and having a big clear out leaving me with very little to wear!  We desperately need to buy a new computer and shredder too.  Part of my lack of posting has been down to the temperament of my computer which is on a go slow at present and nothing we do will make it get a move on not even the threat of a new one.

Luckily it is only time not money that prevents me from buying one.  The good thing about working all hours is there is no time to shop so you spend very little whilst all the extra overtime money builds up.

Well I have written more than I thought – my aim is to keep it short and sweet and try to make an hour for blogging whenever I can.

Back to crazy world tomorrow – must get some sleep in.

 

Whilst August yet wears her golden crown…

    Ripening fields lush- bright with promise;

Summer waxes long, then wanes, quietly passing   

  Her fading green glory on to riotous Autumn.”

–  Michelle L. Thieme, August’s Crown 

I always think of August as the transition month between the slow fading of summer and the coming of Autumn.  By this point I am always feeling desperate to hang on to the warm sunny days and light nights, having the windows wide open and eating meals outside and we are really trying to make the best of each day left now.  Today we decided against staying in and doing those endless chores so we set down our tools and headed off into Derbyshire, stopping for lunch at the cafe at Hassop Station and then having a wander around Tideswell.  Having a leisurely ‘potter’ around is definitely one of our favourite pastimes and below is an excerpt from my Art Journal ‘Celebrating the Year 2010’  In this journal I talk about all the different things I love in my life.  This is the entry for August.

Sketching at Gawsworth Hall

Watercolour Sketch at Gawsworth Hall August 2002

Lazy days and Sundays

‘There is no other word that best suits wandering around one of your favourite places on a lazy summer’s afternoon than ‘pottering’; a day when you are more comfortable with familiarity rather than looking for adventure.  We often make one of those spur of the moment decisions to head off for the day to some sleepy corner of the countryside and take a picnic or stop on the way somewhere for lunch.

One of our favourite places for such a day is Gawsworth Hall near Macclesfield in Cheshire.  It is a beautiful black and white timbered hall, the private home of the Richards family and this is so evident when you step inside as the whole place has a feeling that they have just gone out of the room for a few minutes to make you a cup of tea!  In the sitting room you might see a part read Radio Times left on the chair from watching the TV the night before together with a piece of half finished knitting, while in the bedroom don’t be surprised to find a pot of cream on the dressing table just used that morning.  The little chapel still in use today has spectacular stained glass windows.

The family hold many events here but the biggest attraction is the Open Air theatre held in July and August.  Take along your picnic, a couple of deck chairs, and some fine wine, and of course a good friend or two and look forward to a memorable evening.’

How do you spend your lazy summer days?

You may also like to read

Summer Flowers

Sweet Summer

The dawn of a summer day…

Poppies at Renishaw Hall Gardens

Taken from my Art Journal –  ‘Celebrating the Year 2009’

Poppies at Renishaw

Watercolour Sketch July 2004

That beautiful season the Summer! 
Filled was the air with a dreamy and magical light;
and the landscape
Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.
–   Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

July is one of my favourite months.  The flower borders are bursting with summer colour and if you have never been to Renishaw Hall Gardens and you live nearby then you are definitely missing a treat.  It is the home of the Sitwell family and their history is steeped in the Arts and Crafts movement.

Renishaw House

Here we all are (apart from me – I’m taking the picture and we are missing a daughter and partner and a neice) on our recent family picnic posing in front of Renishaw Hall as if it were ours!

Meet the family at Renishaw Hall

Allium Bed Renishaw

The extensive grounds are a mixture of formal gardens near to the house leading into the naturalised woodland area Bluebell Wood Renishaw

complete with this Laburnum walk.

Laburnum Walk Renishaw

There are also plants on sale that you will have seen growing in the garden.

 Yew Hedge Renishaw

 We have been lucky enough to be there when they have had musicians positioned behind the huge Yew hedges playing flute and violin.  The sound is carried around the gardens on the breeze with the nearby fountain bending and spraying spurts of water as if in time.

The Fountain Renishaw

On a warm summers day I could sketch happily here for hours popping into the tea shop in the popular Courtyard for refreshments and a home baked scone then a wander around the grounds what could be a more perfect relaxing day?  You can also book ahead to attend a performance at the outdoor theatre or fireworks or have a tour of the vineyard and sample their own wine.

The courtyard also houses a little museum and art gallery.  In the tea room you can buy a cold salad lunch by weight.  Just help yourself to a plate and choose from the vast selection of salads and meat, then weigh and pay!

If you go in Mid April to early May they have a splendid display of Auriculas (a type of Primula) in a purpose built Auricula House.  This is like a small wooden bookcase painted black to enhance the colours of these delicate blooms with a wire netting front.  They are quite fascinating when displayed this way.

Auricular House Renishaw

Auriculars Renishaw

I hope everyone has a glorious July and that we have some of those warm halcyon days we can all remember from our childhood when it never rained all summer long!!  This will be posted ahead of time (I know it isn’t July until Monday) but I will be on my way to Scotland and without any internet, TV and a very intermittent mobile signal.