Friday, April 10, 2015

A cornucopia of pleasures

I'm really enjoying the weather at the moment. The sun is out and it's been dry for a few days now (not throughout Easter of course when it was cold and rainy for 3 days!) and everywhere looks so beautiful that I just want to spend all day outdoors drinking it in. The birds and bees are doing what they do best at this time of year and the lambs are busy gamboling so the best thing I can do is share some photos from my runs and other outdoorsy things along with progress on my afghan, which has slowed a bit due to sore hands from too much gardening.

It's a pattern full of interest and makes a refreshing change from granny squares and ripples. Not that there's anything wrong with them it's just that I have a plethora of both plus I really like overlay crochet.

I'm very glad I took this photo as I've made a mistake on the dark navy round I started late last night - I've made the first flower into the wrong part of the stitch - bother! Although it also looks as if the flowers are slightly to the right of the stems that will be corrected on the next round when the stitch is anchored.

I've created the cluster inbetween the v stitch, ie in the body of it ……..

Rather than into the top of it where I've inserted my hook here:

At least I'd hadn't got too far to rip back. Serves me right for doing it when I was most likely too tired and not concentrating.

Hairy Horse

You know that Spring has finally sprung when the horses start to moult. I took this photo of Esther through the kitchen window. There were 5 rooks pecking away at her bottom, getting rid of any bugs but then taking away some of her hair for their nests. A mutually beneficial act!

Esther has a very thick coat and only needs a rug when the temperature stays low for a long period. I just rubbed my hand across her back and look what came off:

As the farrier was due yesterday I took the opportunity of giving her a really good brushing to help speed up the process of moulting. She looks all sleepy and mellow doesn't she.

She just investigated what I'd got on my hand in case it was something to eat and then let me get on with it.

After about 5 minutes of brushing I'd got nearly a bucketful which I left for the birds to use as lining in their nests.

Which reminds me, the pampas grass flowers I put by the compost heap are getting smaller and smaller with a convoy of birds taking them for their nests. Plus, all the dead plant stems and small twigs left on the flowerbeds are being tidied for me by pairs of birds which is exactly what I'd hoped for.

Time for some Nature

The sun has brought some butterflies out. So far I've only seen Peacocks, as seen below, and small tortoiseshells but there are plenty of bees buzzing around which is why it's so important that there are nectar-rich flowers available for them to build up their strength.

The lanes are bedecked with primroses.

The deciduous woodland is full of wood anemones with the promise of bluebells and wild garlic to come very soon.

Another beauty is the Lesser Celandine which is often spotted along the hedgerows. Its cheery buttercup-yellow petals shine out from the undergrowth above its pretty, marbled, heart-shaped leaves. 

You might think that William Wordsworth’s favourite flower was the Daffodil, but it was actually the lesser celandine about which he wrote three poems. Here is a verse taken from my favourite:

To The Small Celandine

Pansies, Lilies, Kingcups, Daisies, 
Let them live upon their praises; 
Long as there’s a sun that sets Primroses will have their glory; 
Long as there are Violets,
They will have a place in story: 
There’s a flower that shall be mine, 
‘Tis the little Celandine. 

You may be familiar with the gorgeous purple flowers of Viola riviniana aka the Dog Violet which, unlike many other violets, has no scent. You can make a Violet tea using the fresh leaves but I'm not fond of the flavour even though I believe it's renowned for its demulcent properties and might be good for me!

What you may not have seen before though is a white version. I'd never seen it before we moved to our village where there's a large patch growing in a verge. They look so delicate and fresh. Native wild violets are an important food plant for Butterflies such as Fritillaries.

This next beauty is one of my favourite wild flowers. It is Cardamine pratensis but it's common name is Lady's Smock or the Cuckoo flower as it usually appears with the arrival of the first cuckoo (although we don't get nearly as many cuckoos as we used to).

This is another plant that has been used for it's medicinal properties as it contains a high level of vitamin C and was used to help prevent Scurvy in olden times.

I still have lots more to write about and loads of photos to share but I can't bear to be away from the garden too long as there's so much to do.

The main reason I'm writing this is now that there are very high levels of pollution across the UK at the moment and there has been a horrible thick smog lingering over the valley all day. Health warnings have been issued for asthmatics and people with lung problems.

I spent a couple of hours outside this morning but was sensible and didn't run today which turned out to be the right decision as a massive coughing fit sent me scuttling back inside. I shall just have to get on with some crochet which isn't such a bad thing after all.

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