Saturday, 26 April 2014

Yellow Is The Colour

I have to say it - I really am not keen on the colour Yellow!

Out of all the colours on the spectrum I confess that I like yellow the least.

 I do not possess any yellow clothes; none of my decorating schemes contain yellow and I would definitely not choose to drive a yellow car. Red, pink, white and cream roses I adore - but not bright Yellow.

However, as I went about my business today, everywhere I looked I saw splashes of vibrant yellow. There were Dandelions in the verge along the roadside; Buttercups in the fields; - and I couldn't help but feel uplifted and cheerful as this bright sunny colour stained a formerly grey and dreary world with the welcome warming tint of Spring.

I saw Gorse;

the vivid buttery yellow of the gorse flower bright against the blue sky,

the delicious coconut scent transporting me back to childhood days as I walked with my parents in baking hot sunshine along country tracks leading to mountains and seaside.

(Is it any wonder that the Gorse Bach Flower Remedy is recommended for bringing the sunshine back into your life when sadness is all around?)

I saw yellow Daffodils

and a Spring Lamb gamboling.

 From the kitchen window I saw the profusion of glorious yellow pom-pom flowers of the Jew's Mallow (otherwise known as Bachelor's Buttons or Japanese Rose) in the garden.

Then I thought how I love to see the long tassels (or to be correct - racemes) of yellow bloom that once the mallow fades, will soon be festooning the Laburnum tree.

and later the bold Sunflowers at the allotment

The glowing Achillea Moonshine that I cut and dry, 

then use to decorate my Handmade Soap,

Mediterranean Citrus

and Chamomile Soap.

My handmade herbal soaps that are coloured yellow, thanks to the natural dye from Calendula, also known for it's skin healing benefits.

 For the first time I really noticed the vibrant yellow colours in the floral design on my vintage china, laid out on an old embroidered tablecloth.

Suddenly I realise that I actually love yellow! Yellow is beautiful - it is sunshine, warmth, happiness and Spring.

I feel the need to make a yellow floral arrangement,

and to incorporate yellow into my decorating scheme for La Petite Maison.....

 Perhaps I should trade my sensible silver Mini Cooper for a dazzlingly flamboyant yellow car?

OK, perhaps that is a step too far, but maybe, just maybe I shall find myself a yellow raincoat to bring some sunshine to a drab day,

or should I just buy that pair of trousers to wear down at the allotment?

As my conversion to loving yellow grows, I find myself browsing the David Austin catalogue and so who knows, a yellow rose may actually find a home in Le Jardin de La Petite Maison!


Sunday, 13 April 2014

A Tale of Two Lambs

When I was very young, my mum made me a stuffed toy lamb that I called Skippity. Skippity featured in many bed-time stories, along with his imaginary sister lamb called Hoppity. Skippity may well have been put aside many years ago, but when I was told earlier this week about a real life Hoppity and Skippity, my  inner child awoke and with a wave of childhood nostalgia I simply had to make their acquaintance.

It was a bright blustery morning, as we headed a short distance out of the city and to the farm in the country, where lived the sweetest little pair of lambs.

Yellow daffodils nodding in the breeze bordered the lane leading to the farm. As we crossed the field beside the farmhouse a single lamb spotted us and confidently pranced across to me, curious to see what was on offer.

Disappointed that there was nothing edible available, she wandered off to join her siblings;

twin lambs with black noses,

who were watching nearby beside the gorse bush and bleating their high pitched Baaaaaaaa...s

The mother Ewe watched from the neighbouring field and eventually deciding that her family had been in the limelight long enough, she bleated peremptorily, summonsing her brood to her side before imperiously strutting off with them into the next field.

As we turned around; bounding across the field towards us were the two little pet lambs that I had come to see -

Hoppity and Skippity!

Three and a half weeks old, they had already lost the fragility and spindly leggedness of new-born lambs and were delighted to be made a fuss of. Both rejected by their mothers, they were the best of friends,

nuzzling each other affectionately

gently headbutting and sucking at my outstretched fingers.

Skippity's mother had lambed early and he had been born during the night in the field beside the river. Disastrously he had rolled down into the mud and water along the river bank so that only his little head was visible. Alerted the next morning by the frantic Baaaaaaas of the Ewe, the farmer and his wife Fliss,  hastened over to see what was wrong. 

Thankfully still breathing, baby Skippity was gathered up and rushed to the farmhouse where he was soon immersed in a hot bath and then wrapped up in front of the fire. A nip of brandy and a bottle of milk revived him further. Safe and warm, Skippity was reunited with his mother, but unfortunately she had already given up on him, turning her back upon him and refusing to acknowledge him. So it was back to the farmhouse and another bottle (no brandy this time).

By this time Hoppity had arrived into the world, but her mother - already looking after two lambs, decided she didn't want the hassle of a third and so rejected her. Hoppity joined Skippity beside the fire in the old farmhouse to be cared for by Fliss.

Feeding times are every four hours and so poor Fliss is suffering ever so from sleep deprivation, as there is also another lamb that is being part-fed on the bottle. Already feeding one lamb, the Ewe seems to realise that her second little lamb is not getting sufficient milk and so compared to it's brother looks small and runt-like. Hence every four hours the mother sheep escorts her two lambs down to the farm-gate for Fliss to bottle-feed the smaller, after which they disappear back over the hill and into the surrounding fields until it is time for the next feed.

Hoppity and Skippity became great pals; shunned by the other Ewes and their lambs, they wandered around together - always side by side, learning from each other and being in the privileged position of the freedom of the large farmhouse kitchen and fire; racing in calling for Fliss to feed them. (The flagged farmhouse floor means that any little accidents are soon able to be dealt with easily).

Warmed bottles of milk are guzzled in less than a minute, 

tails wagging eagerly as though they were dogs,

and if one lamb should finish slightly before the other, there is a friendly challenge to the other lambs bottle.

After their lunch they wandered off together beneath the tree in the farmhouse garden.

Meeting the lambs was lovely and as we left, they both rushed up to the farm gate and with their cloven hooves on the bottom rail of the gate, called Baaaaaaaaaye Baaaaaaaaaaaye to us! Honestly - they really did!!!

(Mr Long Suffering groaned in disgust when I informed him of this - sadly he didn't get the inner child awakening experience!)


Sunday, 6 April 2014

Sowing and Sewing

Despite my lack of posts to keep you updated, March was in fact a busy month. (I will apologise now for the rather uninspiring photos.)

At the allotment the greenhouse was crying out for a spring-clean. Empty seed trays were strewn amongst dead leaves. Raspberries had infiltrated their root systems under the base of the greenhouse and the spiny canes were entwined amongst the tendrils of the grapevine - which looked suspiciously dormant - (dead?).

A horrible and unfamiliar weed had also appeared and was enthusiastically spreading thin fibrous roots everywhere. (If anyone has an inkling of what my latest invader is, I would be delighted to hear.) All in all it was a mess and I had procrastinated over addressing it for sometime.

However as dark clouds gathered, and fat drops of rain began to fall, I abandoned my plan of digging over a bed in preparation for planting onion sets and retreated into the overgrown greenhouse. As the rain bounced off the glass panes I filled buckets full of dead vine leaves; tore out the rampant raspberries, digging furiously to get the roots out and gingerly teased out the root system of the unknown weed.

At the end of an hour and as the rain ceased, the greenhouse was respectable once more. Although I am not convinced that all the fine roots of the weed have been removed, the soil is bare and the vine tidied. A closer inspection revealed a happy discovery of new buds on the stems waiting to burst forth into life.

I had unearthed some old galvanised bucket containers from a dark corner of the shed and decided that this year I would plant them with strawberries as an experiment to see if they grow better under cover. The question was how to hang them? 

Mr Production had - as was his yearly habit, (in order to maximise the early morning light filtering through to his plot), removed some more boughs from the trees between the railway embankment and the bottom of his plot;

so congratulating myself for what I perceived to be great ingenuity, I engineered and maneuvered (thankfully without any major mishaps - such as getting hit by an oncoming train!), an unexpectedly awkward and heavy branch from the bramble and nettle strewn wasteland that runs alongside the railway tracks, over to the other side of the wire fence.

Once the branch was safely within the confines of my plot, I attacked it with a saw and created a limb-like crosspiece spanning the length of the greenhouse upon which to hang the buckets.

Strawberries planted, I sat in the greenhouse, sheltered from the rain and decided that next to follow will be some tumbling tomatoes in another bucket.

With the rain passed I resumed my work on the raised bed and soon the onion and garlic sets were sown. Peas are next on the list - some I shall sow in an old section of guttering and the rest will be planted later in stages straight into the ground. I spotted that as usual Mr Production is much more organised than I am and is already well ahead with his seedlings.


The allotment is not the only place that I have been sowing. Back at La Petite Maison, now that almost all the building work is completed (don't get excited - I said NEARLY! - There is still a little way to go before it is totally complete), I have been happily engrossed with the pleasurable task........

(one that is so much more enjoyable than jollying along my Much Appreciated Men-Folk with the building work)..........

and that is - sewing with an "E"!

First there was a doorstop for the bathroom out of some vintage blue rose fabric from Cabbages and Roses that I have had folded in a drawer for ages.......


then a cushion cover from some other scraps of Cabbages and Roses linen fabric that I have been using for the Kitchen area.

The front of the cover is plain - but to fasten it at the back, I couldn't help indulge myself and instead of using a basic zip or button 

I attached three ribbon ties.

Lots more sewing (and sowing) is planned for the forthcoming weeks, and I cannot begin to tell you how marvelous it is to at last be free (sort of) to turn my attention away from the hard dirty work of renovating and instead be free to be creative; surrounding myself with lovely fabrics, ribbons and flowers. I shall soon be free too to return to my soapmaking!

Of course - the hard landscaping of the garden still has to be done, so with a rather weary sigh I accept that my time of keeping my Men-Folk on track and "helping out on the tools" is definitely not yet over!