Thursday, 23 November 2017

Autumn allotment

Yellow dahlias on the allotment

Down the allotment with a bag and a spade for the last not slug munched spuds and an armful of corn that escaped the trampling snuffling humbug of Brock's paws. Still traffic murmured autumn air that lulls you into winding down for the season and yet there is much to be done amongst the dahlias and the compost heap. In the corner of the site, a man all grey trousered and narly jumpered prods a leaf pile with a fork like he expects a viper to slither out and a cough of a mutter escapes. 

Mould-green bog stenching leaf litter slides off the side. 'ya bugger'

Out comes the toffees from rat's nest stuffed pockets and on goes the shed kettle.
Pink dahlias
Black grapes in a greenhouse

Greenhouse hiding plot holders tend to unripe tomatoes or cascading grapes on autumn coloured turning vines, twisting and tendrilling suspiciously across to the box of Growmore and the chicken manure. Next year it's world domination.

A snip and a gather, green tomatoes will ripen in a brown bag and perhaps taste nice fried or in a chutney. And back outside in a huge clump, some kale, the bitter green leviathan of the plot, with sprawling tentacles to last the winter through. Some to take home for Dad's chickenosauruses, ferocious things that peck your wellied feet and pluck each others feathers. 
Standing, summing up, pondering. Bonfire heaps and forgotten watering cans. The last chance to harvest any squashes before the frost hits them. A time for making plans for the next gardening year.....there is always next year. New veggies to grow or fruit trees to buy and seed catalogues to order for afternoons by the fire dreaming of next year's cutting garden and bountiful beans of all varieties, striped and spotted pods, popping into soups for months and months.
Allotment plot

Before the late autumn set in, the plot was swarming with scarecrows, the young and the old crafting sock-faced granny dressed hat wearing guardians that can not even frighten a sparrow let alone a corvid. I have seen crows mocking with a chucking caw as they sit aloft an old straw hatted wurzel 'Come see, come see oh raven and rook, a mermaid to keep us away and over there, caw-caw, a stuffed French man. And my doesn't this sweetcorn taste good'.
Mermaid scarecrow

Creamy dahlias

French scarecrow

Sweetcorn on the allotment
Whilst I wandered, amused and inspired, amongst the rows of brown sugar dipped dahlias and the burnt out sunflower heads, I heard a cheery 'hello' to my Dad. Another plot holder has arrived, on her bicycle, helmet off and camera quickly out from her rucksack. Here to photograph the haunting abundance yet decay of late autumn, just as I am. Completely normal to me, bemusing to my Dad who carries on digging for spuds and then shuffling along the path for some apples whilst propping netting back up and flapping at a crow.

A few more snaps by the patch of gone midnight-pumpkins that sprawl in drunken disorder, mildew setting in on bristly leaves, powdered end of year dust. No glass slippers just the season algae tainted glasshouses, ready for cleaning for spring. And their occupants, still pottering away, hiding out with mugs of tea and having a break from compost snake charming.
orange dahlias

Pumpkin patch
sunflower head
yellow daisy flowers
And now home down the grassy path, waving goodbye, bags full of those earthy potatoes for mashing with salted butter, a few late borlotti beans, add some herbs, maybe roast some pumpkin and a glug of gravy. Place some vegetable into the store shed to last over the cold months when there is little to harvest aside from winter greens and especially that perfect Christmas Brussels sprout.
sweetcorn tassels
Autumn allotment

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

November living space layering

So here we go, full on cosy comfort month although it actually still feels quite warm outside and I'm not as yet getting the hats and scarves out or really lighting a fire in the woodburner. There was a light frost the other morning, enough to have me excited about photographing crystallised flowers and crisp tufts of grass but I blinked and the sun appeared and it was gone. I want cold.

In preparation though, as I know it will soon descend as soon as Little Bird is back in school, I will be embarking on a full on home redecorate and restyle for it's all gone a bit bland, I've tamed down my arty urges and shudder at this, gone a bit woody and beige. So expect to see some new room styling on here and lots of decluttering only to be replaced by new clutter and lots of fresh paint.

The front room need a total start over project, it's the room that greets guests and has a lot of playing going on from my son, everything is starting to look shabby and in need of some love. I've been considering a new sofa and have had a look at the range from Fishpools, particularly a corner sofa to make the best use of the space and divide the room into walk through and place of cosy retreat, especially through the winter.
corner sofa

Around they key item of a sofa, it's the dressing and layering that I love. New cushions and throws, rugs for keeping toes warm, mirrors to add light and new dimension and different types of warm glow from table and floor lamps. I love deep colours such as the blue rug and throw and the stag mirror adds that autumn and winter feel. The snow globe cushion adds some whimsy, it's just too cute to resist. The overall colour scheme are probably darker and deeper than my normal choice but I'm just really fancying change, a new space to fulfil all the November days. I'll be reusing my wonderful circus star lamp, one of my favourite items in my house for it adds just the right amount of light for a relaxing evening.

November home style

Blue rug, iRugs
Snow globe cushion, Asda
Blue blanket, H&M
Table lamp, Ikea
Blackberry window box, Next
Antler Mirror, M&S
Blue hanging heart, Dunelm
Jar Candle, Matalan
Star light, my own

*Collaborative post

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

No tricks just treats

hanging up Halloween lights
Black grungy jumper

Preparing for Halloween, getting the pumpkin lights out and trying to string them up whilst enthusiastic Boo pup tries to paw and chew them. (More about Boo to come in her own post) Two boxes of Halloween decorations to scatter and drape around the house like an explosion of pumpkins, spiders and glitter. This is my favourite time of year for so many reasons, the setting in of evening by the time it's the end of a school day, the scent of damp leaves and smoke, a squeal of a firework and the cosy clothes to snuggle into. I was recently very lucky to look and choose from the amazing range of clothes at LOTD and have invested in some items to get me through the colder months. Gorgeous long black jumper (£12) with side splits for wearing with skinny jeans and boots, grungy look perfection yes!
More decorations and oranges and purples, cats and pumpkins, masks and brooms. All my Halloweens over the past 15 years stored and accumulated. I have the first ever trinket I bought for my new house at the time, as I moved in on Halloween. A memorable day.  To celebrate, some Halloween drinks and a black fitted blazer (£12), love it! I'm going to wear this so often with a little top and jeans with some heels.  A Darke Daiquiri please or a Black Magic with orange and vodka.
Black blazer

Boo pup and I will be adventuring soon for the rest of autumn, she's had her final vaccination, now a 2-week wait and we can go off out anywhere we like, she has a cute little grey jumper and I have this padded gilet  (£20) so we will both be warm. I teamed it with a grey sweatshirt with cut out shoulders. Finally, more cosiness with a long grey cardigan (£18)  that I'll wear with jeans (of course) and a skirt with tights, so I have a few key autumn and winter wardrobe items now.

I will be visiting LOTD again,  it has so much to choose from and I mean loads! Everything is an absolute bargain and delivery is super quick. I have already got my eye on more clothes for some Christmas nights out and casual clothes for those winter walks and pub visits. My friend has a little dog too so it will be nice to go for doggy meet ups at the park and find all the dog friendly pubs.
witch and her pup

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Witch's Cottage

Walking through a village in the Cotswolds finding a cottage of perfect proportions and fairy tale beauty, with a broom propped by the blush still buzzy bee pollen dipped legged visited roses and a battered and bent almost pointed hat hung up on a wooden peg in the ramshackle porch. Rambling wild garden filled with colour and scent, some of it musty, some of it dead, seed pods and haws with a prickly bramble hedge. Nature's apothecary gathered each morning after nasturtium tea and nettle bread, a pinch of dog rose hip and a dash of dahlia petals. By lunchtime a whisp of purple smoke circling and snaking under the wisteria, a slight spicy smell and cross words uttered as a spell doesn't work. Not enough dawn dew collected or was it the addition of blue berried badger scat. Try again.

Not a black cat here but a pudgy tabby with paws like a tiger cub and battle worn ears from many an alley altercation with the neighbourhood mog or a swooping peck from the great tawny owl of the spinney where the witch gathers her kindling for the fire. He's happiest when the pot is bubbling away, pop pop pop bursts of love potions and incantations for neighbours who quarrel and gossip. For whilst trouble and kindness are brewing, he is ladled warm milk and has the whorls on his belly tickled by the cloak of our spell maker as she dances around the pot.  

Standing outside I heard a gurgle and a hiccup, then a cackle like old saw teeth cutting through wood. Thin skin and fingernails grab the hat which gleans like the carapace of a stag beetle in the chink of afternoon sunlight. Through blowing curtains, I caught the outline of the crone and her cat, perched aloft over her shoulders. Clouds drifted across the autumn sun, a gauzy layer, a gloomy edge, a feeling of something about to happen and then it did....... For a witch also flies by day and out she shot on a tatty old broom, with her tatty old cat and her tatty old hat, out of the front door and way up high, with a smile, a cheeky curse and a winking eye. 

Monday, 23 October 2017


This season is full of little treats, fruits and eye bounty of colourful leaves and fungi sprouting up from the earth over night, once said to be wear lightening had struck. As I drove along, my eye was caught by a fairy tale clustering of Amina muscaria, known as Fly Agaric. Quintessential pixie toadstools in every fairytale book. The seat of many a elf's bottom,lounge for smoking caterpillars or landing pad of fairies....
Amanita muscaria

Fly Agaric

Grouped on a grassy verge outside a house, as if awaiting a party of naughty pixies to come along, I quickly stopped the car and had a closer look. So striking that I'm sure if the neighbours  saw people on their hands and knees outside they would instantly know why. Rounded globes at first, red blobs dabbed with whipped cream. Fairy tale they may look but do not be fooled for they are poisonous, containing hallucinogenic agents, muscimol and ibotenic acid in varying quantities. Not to be messed with and best left to fairy folk who dabble in such mind altering shrooms. 

Associated with shamanistic religions of the Siberia people such as the Lapps, used in their storytelling and the singing of 'heroic songs', ritualistic and mysterious. Reindeer absolutely love to eat these mushrooms and there is folklore around Father Christmas being the result of a reindeer urine drinking session or two, (taking it this way reduced the toxicity) creating visions of flying, red and white....ho ho ho. 
Young Fly Agaric

As they mature the parasols open up flat, perfect for a fairy carriage runway but soon to be gone from their mossy patch. I returned a week later to find them well past their prime and browning. Treasure of autumn, a lucky find, keep your eyes pealed for them springing up after moonshine, look but don't touch to be on the safe side.
Flat top Amanita muscaria


Red spotty toadstools

Wild Food UK

Magic mushrooms and reindeer - Weird Nature - BBC animals

L. G. Czig√°ny. "The Use of Hallucinogens and the Shamanistic Tradition of the Finno-Ugrian People." The Slavonic and East European Review 58, no. 2 (1980): 212-17.

Rush, John A. Entheogens and the development of culture: the anthropology and neurobiology of ecstatic experience. Berkeley, CA: North Atlantic, 2013.
group of fly agaric