Monday, June 27, 2022

She's a Rainbow

I'll start this post with the meteorological phenomenon that is a rainbow, shot both from the door step and through the rain-soaked loft window.  It's no longer news to say that the weather is capable of extremes.  However, I've been finding it difficult to sleep lately with my energy levels dipping by mid afternoon, often only revived by a second cup of coffee and a cheeky bit of dark chocolate (90% cocoa 'cos I'm that hard!)  

So, in order not to challenge my sleep deprived brain, I'm going to record my memories of the week in conjunction with the colours of the rainbow, as per the old Peggy Lee song: Sing a Rainbow.

Sing along if it helps.

"Red and Yellow..."

Here's a mini photographed at last weekend's British Mini Club's annual Mini & VW Bus Meet which takes place in our home town....

Beautifully fragrant roses, captured outside Hagley Church on a Sunday stroll...

"...and Pink..."

I made a special trip to capture a local poppy field...a week too late.  Not to be defeated, I decided to photograph them in their faded grandeur, the red draining from drooping petals, leaving a lifeless pink in its wake.

That's more like it!  More roses from Hagley Church.

A flattering shade of pink can also be found in the form of my make-up staple, Dr.PAWPAW's multi-purpose balm in a delicate peach/pink shade.  

Vegan, cruelty-free and 100% natural, it's always in my bag.  I use it (extremely sparingly) on my cheeks, directly in line with the pupils of my eyes on the apples of my cheeks, gently blending in circles outwards towards the tops of my ears.  It creates a wonderful glow for people who don't like the feel of make up.  I also use it as a lip balm.  

Oh and the original clear balm also makes an excellent moisturiser.  I use it on my hands, elbows and to tame frizzy hairs.

"...and Green."

I mentioned recently, that I was looking for an unstructured blazer.  Admittedly, this is a nod to current trends, but in my defence, I only adopt the ones I like!  I am also quite taken with the vibrant pea green colour that is everywhere at the moment (brace yourselves).  I was therefore very happy to come face to face with exactly what I had been searching for in a charity shop this week.  The jacket was part of a suit but I persuaded the Manager to sell me just the jacket and I've teamed it with the only new purchase I have made this year - a pair of Zara patch pocket denim shorts.

More greenery in the form of National Trust managed property and green space, Dudmaston, where we headed to celebrate our wedding anniversary this week with a shandy and a scone in the apple orchard, just before the rain started.

The geese were on the lookout for something...the lady of the lake?

We had a little look inside at the property's art collection, but the heat inside was pretty intense, so I purchased some vibrant postcards featuring the artwork of Wolverhampton born sculptor, artist and art collector, Anthony Twentyman (1906-1988), who, incidentally, was a friend of the previous owner and was commissioned to create sculptures for the Dudmaston Estate(more info here:-

... and soon headed back outside, where we picked some lime tree flowers to make a calming tea (aside from producing an exquisite fragrance, they produce a deliciously delicate tea).  

I also managed to snap one of three resident cats we counted, hunting in an area of wild flowers and taking us neatly into "Orange..."

"...and Purple..."

Dudmaston, shot through lavender.

 "...and Blue."

After that rainy interlude, the sunshine and blue skies returned!

I rounded off the week with a visit to my friend Jenny's driveway plant sale.  Here's a glimpse of her lovely rainbow coloured flower border. I left with an Agapanthus and a couple of foxgloves for our woodland garden.

Gareth has had a chesty cough and streaming cold and so I left him on Saturday night to dose himself up while I disappeared for a while to celebrate my friend Jackie's recent nuptials.  

The remainder of the weekend has been spent in the comfort of our front row sofa seats at a number of Glastonbury performances. The view from Kingswinford was pretty awesome!  Jack White was delightfully eccentric and loud.  Is musical Tourette's a thing?  I think he might have it. Sadly he didn't sing one of my favourites from his tenure with The Raconteurs, so I'll leave it here and dedicate it to my husband of 21 years, my Broken Boy Soldier.  

The Raconteurs – Broken Boy Soldier (Official Music Video) - YouTube

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Long Days, Barley Haze, Saves and Stranger Things

Who doesn't love a jumble sale?  Well, you're in the right place, because after a hectic week of hospital visits, phone calls, show preparations, appointments, charity shop drops, errands and website updating, I've barely had time to come up for air and so, this post will comprise disparate memories of the last couple of weeks - snatched moments here and there; a veritable blog jumble if you will. 

Lotte has been on form, delivering mice to our door step, dropping them on the ground - eyes fixed firmly on us - and gesturing towards them with her head, only to discover that the prize has scurried away to freedom.  So far, so cute...but not so much when she repeats the same trick inside the house.  I mentioned this recently, but last Friday night after a particularly stressful day, any chance of unwinding was swiftly undone by the furry fruit loop!  After endless re-arranging of furniture and lifting of sofas to track down the little rodent, our efforts finally paid off!

I did manage to get a hastily taken outfit photo at some point.  Here I am attempting a rock chick look with a charity shopped waistcoat by Kinshasha born fashion designer Olivier Strelli, which has languished for too long on my clothes rail without seeing the light of day. 

I know very little about the designer, other than the scant Wiki information which confirms that from 1974, Olivier based himself in Brussels and that his full line collection was shown in Paris in 1980.  Famous clients include Brigitte Bardot and the Rolling Stones.  However, the waistcoat, whilst not something I would normally gravitate towards, did somehow catch my eye and I've decided it's a keeper.  

I teamed the aubergine coloured waistcoat with a basic navy and white T-shirt, a green Anokhi scarf and accessorised the outfit with a vintage silver amulet and smoky quartz pendant.  The very messy bun was quite deliberate you understand and not as a result of a really bad hair day.

We managed to squeeze in one walk as I recall; a leisurely amble along peaceful country lanes and farm tracks...

...and through barley fields - one of my favourite things to photograph.  

In the first image, I tried to capture the gentle sway of the barley in the breeze.  Coincidentally, during a mammoth sort out, I discovered some old photos, including this one I had taken of our son many moons ago (how can he now be less than a year away from adulthood?), wandering through barley...

...and again now.  Sorry, a glimpse is all we get these days.  Time and tide waits for no man (or woman).

It's occurred to me that I have failed to share my recent thrifting and charity shop finds, so here goes.

First up, a Chinese silk jacket.  I've been looking for an unstructured blazer, but can't bear the fabric on most of the ones I have seen.  Pure silk will do just fine.  It's not exactly unstructured, but I like the length and colour (teamed with my old faithful cotton maxi) and it's not something you stumble across every day!  Cost?  £4.95.

With all the recent inclement weather, I have been on the lookout for a new waterproof.  This olive green Top Shop waterproof was just the ticket.  Naturally, rain disappeared from the forecast as soon as I handed over my cash and we are now in the midst of a heat wave with weather warnings of a very different kind.

A short, but cute Cath Kidston dressing gown for the princely sum of £3.00.

A Whistles denim shirt - an eBay score for a tiny fraction of its original price.

Gareth sourced (a fancy term for "skip diving") some vintage glass sweet shop jars (two with Bakelite lids)...

 housing pasta and rice on the kitchen counter.

Oh, and not forgetting this pair of collectible 1950s Czech bullet lens vases designed by Rudolf Schrotter and widely sold across Europe in an array of rainbow colours, even gracing the shelves of the beloved and sorely missed UK high street store Woolworths.  Just feel the weight of them.  Go on!

Kicking back at night, we've been sampling the delights of Stranger Things and I'm thrilled that Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill is now hurtling towards number 1 off the back of episode 1.  

I'm not sure what I find more amusing/irritating about this season of Stranger Things; the fact that teenagers across the globe are now "introducing" their parents to Kate Bush, or the incredibly cheesy dialogue between the show's main characters.  Really, did any of us display such sparkling wit at such a young age?  I suppose it depends on whether or not you ran with the cool kids.  I'm guessing it's also part of the producers homage to 1980s cinema.  Having a smart mouth, white socks and a whiter smile, was a must for protagonists of American teen movies back in the day.

Talking of all things 1980s, check out this Delorean, parked up outside The Navigation Pub on the return leg of our aforementioned walk.   

In the garden we have spotted what we think are orange fox-and-cubs - native to alpine regions of central and southern Europe - popping up in various places, including amongst the wild geraniums.

The terrifying triffid that is the Gunnera Manicata, is also looming, dangerously close to the safety of the house.  Gareth can't resist a Gunnera.  

After years of enslavement to the thirsty beast during summer months in the garden, fear not!  This time, we have wisely curbed its invasive tendencies by planting it in a container, where it seems quite content, more shaded, less thirsty and hopefully less inclined to sting and consume us!  (Flip flops are mine - carelessly cast aside - not the rejected parts of some unsuspecting Little Shop of Horrors-style victim).

That's all for this week folks.  I'll leave you with a short video of our other stranger thing. Turn the sound up!

Sunday, June 5, 2022

Little Britain

So here we are at the end of another seven days.  It's been a funny old week.  Partygate and the war in Europe rumbles on and the weather has been behaving in that very British manner; I think the technical term is "playing silly buggers."  

In other news, Johnny Depp won his defamation trial, after losing on the very same evidence against The Sun in the UK and is found, celebrating in a pub in Newcastle.  

The Queen has also been enjoying a perfectly splendid week, with bunting everywhere marking her 70 years on the throne, culminating in a two day Bank Holiday on Thursday and Friday.  But more on that later.

We start on English Bridge in Shrewsbury; a masonry arch viaduct crossing the River Severn.  A bridge has been known to have stood on this spot since at least Norman times.  This incarnation was built in 1926, reusing the original masonry of John Gwynn's 1774 version.  Its sister bridge, Welsh Bridge stands on the other side of town.  Impressive as it is, the Norman bridge sounds way more interesting, comprising five arches, a timber causeway, a tower housing a gate and drawbridge.  The bridge also supported several shops and houses.

Anyway, the light filtering through the arches left in the female pedestrian's wake, caught my eye.  So here's a glimpse of the grade II listed version in all her splendour.

Further along, we encounter said bunting.  Platinum Jubilee fever begins.  Incidentally, has anyone actually seen a Platinum Pudding on sale in a supermarket?  


For me, the star of this photo is the wall painted ghost sign with its unusual typography.  

Elsewhere in town, there's a street art tribute to the local wildlife (and I don't mean the beer bellied punters spilling out of the pubs)....

...and a runner measures her miles alongside the flood measuring stick, which has seen some eye popping readings in recent years.

Back in the garden, I have been out and about with my macro extension tubes again (one day I will treat myself to the real deal).  Focusing is always a little bit trial and error with these things; a case of hovering back and forth until you find the sweet spot and then keeping a very steady hand!  If you want a successful outcome, stay off the caffeine would be my top tip.  

Little things up close never cease to fascinate me.  This little pollinator was getting busy with the raspberry flowers.

His counterpart was rudely awakened from his slumber on the leaf of the Gunnera.  For anyone who has been pondering this question, insects quite often like to call it a day, take shelter and a snooze at around 7pm.

This little sawfly was sheltering on the underside of a buttercup.

The ferns are like big green kaleidoscopes, on a seemingly endless growth cycle; unfurling and creating exquisite shapes.  I decided to create low key black and white versions of a few of my favourites, taking in a dandelion seed head along the way.

But come hither...

...join me for a walk around the block to take in the sights and sounds of suburbia marking Jubilee weekend.  My Dad, a lifelong republican, would be chuntering away to himself about "putting them all on an island" and "self sufficiency" if he were around.  Whilst I don't believe any of them are any better than the bloke down the road (unless you're talking about that bloke...the one at number 10), I can appreciate that this is an exciting moment in our history. 

The houses in our neighbourhood have gone all out with the bunting.

This being the one time industrial heartland of the UK, many locals are tradesmen and evidence of home improvements seems to be everywhere (the cost of living crisis hasn't caught on here just yet it seems).  I counted at least 3 skips on our 10 minute walk and some unusual tributes...

...including this one, which appealed to my sense of humour.  Do we think Ma'am would have had that same fixed smile on her face had she walked out onto the balcony of Bucks Palace, only to be confronted with a view of a skip on The Mall?  This photo ended up on Instagram, accompanied by The Sex Pistols' God Save the Queen.  

Despite being a Bank Holiday, the streets on Thursday appeared deserted, so on Friday, after a leisurely start and a spot of sunbathing in the garden, we headed to Arley again (second time in a month).  On the agenda?  A scenic 4 mile circular walk starting in Arley, heading through Eymore Wood and taking in Trimpley Reservoir.  We also thought we might catch a glimpse of the newly painted purple Taw Valley engine, which has been temporarily named Elizabeth II in honour of the woman of the moment.

Purple seemed to be the colour of the day as evidenced by the carpet of rhododendron petals at the entrance to the wood.

The novelty of 21 degrees made me lose my mind and I failed to take a single photo along the route.  However, with yet more bunting and a number of classic cars adorning Arley Station, I made up for it.

There was no escaping Jubilee fever...

...or photographers.

We heard that the train had been delayed and so we enjoyed half a pint of Thatcher's Cider in the sunshine while we waited...and waited for Elizabeth II to show her face.  Ultimately, it was her rear end we were presented with.  I'll never make a train spotter!  

Gareth took my phone and managed to snap the front of the locomotive and her nameplate.

Before we leave behind the Jubilee celebrations, here's one final tribute, spotted in a farmer's field on the journey home.  

We all know Brits can be a pretty strange bunch.  We can't agree on much, as evidenced by Brexit and Boris.  Many Brits who are already being directly and heavily impacted by the cost of living crisis, took to the streets en masse, to wave their Union Jack flags on The Mall in celebration of a family funded by the state.  We are a mass of contradictions.  So, if you think making an effigy of the Queen out of a hay bale is odd, captured "Erotic Elizabeth" in all her glory on the streets of Didcot.  

Photo:  Paul O'Connor

Last night we rounded off the week with an evening with friends at their new house in Stourport-on-Severn, a Georgian town popular with day trippers and the area's self styled leisure capital.  

We enjoyed cocktails in blazing sunshine on the terrace (really), a delicious array of vegetarian and vegan food, music and merriment.  There were cats and dogs adding to our number - including the gorgeous Saffy - our friends' rescue fox hound, who pinned me to the sofa at one point in a bid to show her affection.  For the uninitiated, this is a totally non threatening, but tricky situation to find yourself in.  Fox hounds are persistent and heavy!

The evening was not without drama however, as Saffy did what fox hounds do best and escaped for a while for a little nocturnal exploration of her own.  A very different kind of hunt ensued and fortunately Saffy was discovered in a neighbouring garden - apparently without a care in the world. 

I'll leave you with a pic of my outfit, featuring my often overlooked and groovylicious vintage St Michael maxi skirt, a Leicester born brand sold in Marks & Spencer stores between 1927 and 2000.

Have a fabulous week!

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