Thursday, May 5, 2022

Sound and Colour

My troublesome lumbar discs have been troublesome of late, hence my absence from Blogland last week.  I could barely walk properly, let alone sit down and type.  

Whilst swimming is usually the exercise of choice for loosening muscles, I took, what turned out to be a misguided trip to the pool.  Although my swim initially alleviated symptoms, they were back with a vengeance later that day and that evening, I found I was unable to turn over in bed without excruciating pain.  Ice packs and anti inflammatory tablets were the order of the day, accompanied by copious amounts of chuntering.  I even purchased one of those support belts, but eventually saw the light and brought forward my monthly tune up with Nigel the Chiropractor.  

On the walk down, I marvelled at the Cherry Blossom.  Call me a Diva, but I would like to walk everywhere, always, on a carpet of pink petals.

I'm still a little stiff, but the painful spasms have subsided enough for me to sit down for a type and a chat.  In terms of swimming, with lower disc problems, the choices appear to be breast stroke with front crawl leg kicks (although coming up for air can result in lower back pressure) or back stroke.  In the meantime, walking never hurt anyone!  We all know boots are made for walking and there's a stonking pair coming up shortly.

So what have I been up to since my last post?  Well, the teen of the house had a party during the last weekend of the Easter holidays and we were banished to the bedroom.  We would have gone out for the evening, but Gareth was in the throes of the dreaded lurgy I had magnanimously shared with him.  So, after an evening stroll, we snuck in through the front door, greeted a gaggle of girls in the hallway with the words: "You haven't seen us!" and promptly disappeared upstairs with a bottle of wine.  We left them variously gathered around the partially completed fire pit area (formerly dominated by a bramble entangled trampoline) and spilling into the house.

My memories of the past couple of weeks are sketchy to say the least.  There has been a great deal of admin and the kind of mundane day to day activities that I pretend not to participate in for the purposes of an entertaining blog.  

I took a few woodland-in-spring shots.  Pictured here are the highly invasive Spanish Bluebells....

....although we do have some native Bluebells dotted here and there.


Tree shadow puppetry.

Look!  Not one, but two Buzzards!

Other snapshots from this period include a flock of homing pigeons circling over some local rooftops.  

Last Saturday, I played second shooter at a local wedding, although my back was groaning after a short drive to an area of bluebells to capture the happy couple in all of nature's glory.  Still, it was a small price to pay for such a stunning scene.   Here are just a few shots from the happy occasion...

...and an experimental "colour wash" photo (I was probably high on painkillers at the time, but quite like the result).

It does seem a crime to do black and white edits of such vibrant spring colours, but I can't resist the drama.  What do you think?

When I returned home, Gareth surprised me with this pair of Loblan cowboy boots I had been eyeing up for ages.  The company was formed in 1959 and has carved out a reputation for quality raw materials and painstaking workmanship.  Priced steeply at £65.00 (second hand), I decided to monitor the situation periodically in the hope that they would reduce the price.  Finally, they had were reduced to half price and Gareth snapped them up.  They are a size 5 and I'm a 6, so I'm hoping they will fit.  In my decrepit state and with Gareth's assistance, I managed to get one boot on, which felt OK, but I will wait until I'm fully recovered before trying to wrestle these beauties on for a proper outing.

I also bagged a world famous 1970s Dartmouth Pottery Gurgle Fish Jug for £2.50 on the way back from having my back tuned.  It has taken pride of place in the upstairs bathroom in front of one of our old stained glass windows and does indeed gurgle, when water is poured from its gaping mouth.

As for the garden, spring is where it's at here at "Aifa".  Did I ever mention, we named our house after a woodland spirit?  I read years ago that Aifa was a woodland spirit.  Unfortunately, I can't for the life of me remember where I read this or now find any source to back it up, so you'll have to take my word for it.  Gareth made the sign which still hangs outside our front door.  I later discovered that AIFA also stands for the Association of Independent Financial Advisors and so, whilst the sign still hangs proudly, we don't tend to use it.  Thankfully, no one has yet come knocking, asking for mortgage advice.

As you can see, the wisteria is just starting to flower.  It's our one big gardening success story and we quite often have cars stopping to look at it during its fleeting performance.

Here's a sneak peak.

In other news, our new bird feeder hasn't deterred Squirrel Nutkins, caught in the act yesterday.

Lotte the cat also committed the ultimate cat crime by catching - and losing - a mouse inside the house.  When Lotte first decided she was going to live here, she would come in through the bedroom window (I like sleeping with the window open).  This arrangement shows no sign of changing and in the dead of night a few nights ago, we heard her come in through the window and announce her arrival, very loudly, all the way down the stairs (a sure sign she has brought us a gift).  For anyone wondering, we do have a cat flap, but it's programmed with the microchip number of our previous cat, Mowzer. We both instinctively know that it would be futile to try and remedy this situation and train Lotte to use it.  She lives by her own rules!  Look at her!  She has no shame!  

There has been less gardening, more pottering this week, with Gareth also seeking chiropractic torture for a neck and shoulder issue.  I say torture, because he was subjected to acupuncture, a knee in the back and a discombobulating neck manoeuvre.  

Still, it's clear that spring is officially early this year.  Everything is daring to bloom...from the raspberry ripple tinted tulips (yet again, I have forgotten which varieties I planted),  

to the bursting buds of Mexican Fleabane, ready to spill out of the chimney pots once again.

More Forget Me Nots (or Birds' Eyes) - no doubt deposited by their namesake.   I don't mind.  

They have even taken up residence in the herb planted wheelbarrow, 

which is also playing host to this little arachnid.

In the pond, the Marsh Marigold is vying for attention with the water lily...

..and the tadpoles (trust me, there are more than two!)

Leading up to the pond, you can see my tree peony in the foreground (bottom left).  It's alive and kicking but no sign of any flowers yet.  It's only in its second season, so I need to be patient.

These native British grasses I planted in the rockery around the steep bank at the rear of the pond recently, catch the light beautifully.

In fact, the light this morning was exquisite.  I do love a bit of bokeh!

To finish off, I'll leave you with some sound, colour and light play, captured on a recent walk along the canal and shared as an Instagram reel.

Speak soon!


  1. I feel terrible, I should have mentioned the breast stroke/leg kick technique. I made the same mistake prior to my hip op and ended up on the floor for a week.
    You look gorgeous amongst the spring blooms. Lovely to see the fleabane back out and it seems like a particularly good year for Forget-me-Nots, our garden's a haze of blue. The tadpoles are very exciting, none here yet!
    The wedding photos are gorgeous, what a beautiful bride.
    I love those cowboy boots. I think you're very wise not to try them till your poor back's better! Let's hope Nigel can work his magic on Gareth, too.
    Lotte is such a character, I love her.
    I shall click on the link to your IG after sewing Bee, Jon's yelling at me to get off the PC and watch tv! xxx

    1. Thank you Vix! Unfortunately, I did do the right combination of stroke and leg kick because that's how I swim - I've never been able to do a proper frog leg kick. I think even coming up out of the water to breath, puts a stress on your lower back according to Nigel, so I'm hoping it was just that I went swimming when my back was already in need of fixing. I love back stroke but it's not always possible in a crowded pool. I won't give up just yet. I'll let it heal and then try again. xxx

  2. get well soon, dear claire! your back problems sound severe - good that you get help from a therapist.... whats that - the girls got knocked out lately?

    looove the shot of little wild lotte!!
    one mouse? lisbeth brings home mice almost daily since she was 7 month.... but she never lose them - they always get eaten, stomach and intestines neatly dissected and left over.... not even a dot of blood on the floor. except the giant voles - this is mere massacre ;-D and you can add snakes, lizards, frogs and the occasional bird.......

    your new boots are super cool! fingers crossed they fit! and you look beautiful in the indian dress by the wisteria - wisteria envy here.
    beautiful wedding photos - but the b&w ones have a dark undertone indeed..... better not show them to the happy couple ;-D
    take care! xxxxx

    1. Thanks Beate. Lotte has been hunting outside for years, very successfully, but she's only just started bringing mice inside the house, where she seems to lose them more often than not. I'm not sure what that's about! When she does kill them though, she also has the skills of a surgeon. We usually get the stomach and intestines and, as you say, no blood. Either that, or the poor mouse's head (they must not taste so good). Snakes and lizzards! Lisbeth is a killing machine! Fingers crossed the boots fit. They were labelled a size 6 but inside the boots they are a 5 so we'll see. You are quite right, the black and white photos are very dark. They would suit me perfectly as I think my wedding style would now be more "Corpse Bride" than "Cinderella." I think this bride and groom were very divided in their tastes. The groom loves black and white, but the bride is not as keen. xxx

  3. So sorry to hear about your troublesome lumbar discs, Claire! I do hope Nigel managed to sort it out. Ouch about Gareth's neck and shoulder trouble too. I've been suffering from the same, on and off. I think I need a Nigel too!
    Oops about Lotte losing a mouse inside the house. Phoebe, our previous cat, managed to do that twice, which wasn't fun.
    Gorgeous garden and wedding photos. I'm loving the bride's fancy pair of trainers. And speaking of footwear, I do hope those fabulous boots fit.
    I'm having wisteria envy and Gurgle Fish Jug envy too. What a find! xxx

    1. Thanks Ann. It's improving, but slowly. I think I might need another tweak. Lotte excelled herself last night and brought in not one, but two. There was a mouse's head on the rug, but one remains unaccounted for. I'm wondering whether I'm best leaving her out at night, but wouldn't forgive myself if she came to any harm. I initially left the jug behind can you believe? I soon saw sense. The wisteria is so fragrant at the moment - I wish I could bottle it! xxx

  4. Hello Claire, sorry to hear the ol' lumber discs are playing up and I hope your chiropractor sesh helped. Yes of course it is diva-ish to demand a path of pink blossom to walk upon, but do you know what, it beats any red carpet and I would be demanding this treatment given half a chance ;) What a naughty squirrel and even naughtier Lotte!!! Perhaps the mice have all found a hidden spot in your house and are sharing cheese stories of the wild vampire like fluffy beast that jumps through windows and roams the halls.

    Now, that is the second bride I have seen on your blog wearing trainers - but this bride looks very happy to be there. Beautiful photos. The gurgling fish sounds like a great potential party drinks dispenser. I hope that the woodland spirit wards off any stray financial advisors and that the boots fit :) xXx

    1. Thanks Lulu. On the mend now, I think, although I still huff and puff like an old lady when I'm putting my shoes on! (I still haven't braved the boots). Lotte is indeed a naughty cat and in the dead of night, never mind the mice, that's how I see her - a wild vampire fluffy beast. If only I was a graphic artist - lots of inspiration! xxx


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