Saturday, 5 July 2014

a postcard from ... Southwold

The coast was calling and Southwold was our destination a couple of weeks or so ago.

Dignified and charming, this quintessentially English seaside town on the Suffolk Heritage Coast is almost an island, bounded by the North Sea to the east by the River Blyth and the harbour to the south-west and by Buss Creek to the North.  As in all the best seaside towns, there is just a single road in ... and out ...

Our choice of weekday avoided the usual influx of week-enders although as we are on the cusp of holiday season and being a beautiful blue-sky day, the town was busy, but happily so, and on this occasion we had no problem finding a place for lunch, as well as all those necessary coffee pit-stops along the way.

But surely any trip to Southwold must begin with an amble along The Pier.  And so we did. The cheeky antics of The Water Clock stops us in our tracks.  Made in just three weeks by Tim Hunkin and Will Jackson, the Water Clock was originally designed as a feature to promote water recycling sponsored by Thames Water.  Nowadays it is powered electrically but I'm glad to say that all the copper used in the making of this idiosyncratic clock has indeed been salvaged from old hot water cylinders.

Another must-see is the 'Under The Pier Show'.  Once again Tim Hunkin has delivered his mad-cap take on the world in a unique collection of typically potty hand-built machinery.  'Walk the Dog' and 'get the mother-in-law frisked' as well as 'Whack a banker'!  It's absolutely hilarious but not for the faint-hearted.

Below is a view from the Pier over to the Lighthouse which stands in the middle of the town. The Lighthouse provides a waymark for vessels navigating the East Coast and for those coming into Southwold Harbour.  It was built in 1887 and replaced three local lighthouses that were under threat from severe coastal erosion at Orfordness.

After all the excitement it's definitely time for a coffee pit-stop and for this we leave the delights of The Pier behind.  Getting just a tad crowded.  Instead we head along North Parade to Suzie's Beach Cafe at the bottom of the steps by The Sailor's Reading Room. Sitting in the sunshine with a local newspaper and frothy cappuccino watching the world go by must surely be one of life's greatest idle pleasures.

Colourful beach huts line the lower promenade.  I've always hankered after a beach hut - it must be great fun spending lazy days, whether rain or shine, just a hop and skip from the beach.  They sell at extortionate prices these days, but I'm told can be hired at fairly reasonable rates by the day or week.

Before hitting the High Street we take a detour into Queen Street and the wonderful Serena Hall Gallery.  A couple of cold drinks are purchased in Munchies Cafe to slake our thirst and then suddenly the street fans out into a wonderful open panorama.  An expansive green common interspersed with pathways and flanked by fabulous Georgian architecture.  After a fire destroyed most of the town in 1659, a large number of green spaces were created and these spaces survive today, giving the town a very spacious feel.

The houses here cost well into the millions but for me their history is what fascinates.  Who were the people who lived in these grand houses?  I imagine ladies in crinoline dresses and bonnets a la Jane Austen.  Surely this was the heyday of the town.  Were they wealthy maritime merchants and their families, on having made their fortune in the City were now enjoying the fruits of their wealth with a second home by the sea.  If that's the case not a lot has changed in 200 years!

Our walk takes us down Constitution Hill and into Queen's Road as the sun burns down from a cloudless sky.  The light is fantastic as we take in the view from the Ferry Road.  We are in the farthest reaches of the town before the landscape gives way to countryside and rich marshland.  Retracing our steps we head back into town.  Market Place is home to the Town Pump and Jubilee clock and then we are into the High Street with its independent shops and cafes and some very expensive boutiques.  We pop into Southwold Gallery which exhibits work by some of the Region's most respected artists including Karen SJ Keable, George Hill, Rosemary Cook and Raymond Leach.  The Black Olive is a deliciously enticing deli and The Two Magpies sells wonderful pastries.

The next coffee stop is No 51, Southwold, a relatively new opening, bright and airy and service with a smile. What could be better.  Then on to Adnams Cellar and Kitchen. Adnams is the local brewery but have branched out into much more - I could spend a lot of money in here.

Our meander takes us unto Victoria Street where we find a terrace of charming fisherman's cottages painted in a jaunty seaside palette of pastel colours. Many of these bijou properties are holiday lets and with their coastal themed names and ubiquitous planting of hollyhocks, verbascum, sea-holly and fleabane tumbling over walls and railings, you can see why holiday-makers flock to websites such as The Best of Suffolk for their holiday get-away.  Click on the link and prepare to be transported to Southwold.  Expensive but excellent quality.

Time for lunch before whiling away an hour or two on the sandy beach.  Our chosen venue is the aptly named Sole Bay Inn.

What's for lunch?  Well, Fish & Chips of course!

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Saturday, 14 June 2014

Meadow Cottage flowers

I haven't been around this little space for a week or two, so many thanks for continuing to pop by to say hello.  I'm sorry not to have replied, especially to the lovely Marcheline with her query on growing basil. Marcheline, I will be catching up with you very soon.

In the meantime these lovely flowers are from my friend Sue's garden.  Thank you Sue for a relaxing day and for the lovely flowers.  They smell divine!

You may remember a previous post on Meadow Cottage when Sue's garden was wearing it's spring best.   Well, here it is, now in its June ensemble, looking very lovely indeed.

Productive too in the vegetable garden.  A real, honest garden.

I will be back soon with updates on Cottage Garden in June, a post on an Open Garden event and a visit to Southwold.

Have a great weekend.
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Thursday, 5 June 2014

a wave from here

Just a brief post today.  It's been one of those weeks .... 

But, I'm enjoying my potted herbs on the window sill...  

And I'm loving my new mug from local artist Caroline Davidson at Fruit Farm Fabrics.

Have a great weekend!

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Wednesday, 28 May 2014

I know why the Caged Bird Sings

Maya Angelou, playwright, director, actor, singer, songwriter and novelist 
4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014
Rest in Peace

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings 
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn-bright lawn
and he names the sky his own.

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

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Wednesday, 21 May 2014

the first rose ... almost

The Cottage Garden rose has bloomed early this year.  The fine weather has worked its magic, this lovely climber/rambler (I'm not sure which, and have no record of its name) usually waits until at least early June before beguiling us with its sugar-almond pink petals and sweet fragrance.

My plan was to share the very first rose of the year, which fully bloomed on the 16th - but by the time these photos were taken on the 18th it was already beginning to fade .... how fleeting is the beauty of the rose ....!

Since then it has been joined by a couple more in full bloom together with numerous buds, both tightly bound in fresh green, and several pointed with pink - from pale to dark.

Maybe not the first rose, but lovely nonetheless ...

Do you have a favourite rose?  Has it bloomed yet?  Do tell ...

Time of Roses by Thomas Hood

It was not in the Winter
Our loving lot was cast;
It was the time of the roses -
We plucked them as we passed!

That churlish season never frowned
On early lovers yet;
O no - the world was newly crowned
With flowers when first we met!

Twas twilight, and I bade you go,
But still you held me fast;
It was the time of the roses -
We plucked them as we passed!

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Wednesday, 14 May 2014

morning procrastination

"It is impossible to enjoy idling thoroughly unless one has plenty of work to do"
~ Jerome K Jerome (1859 - 1927)

Early morning.  
The sun is shining.  
I'm sitting in my favourite chair.  
I'm reading an excellent book.  
I'm enjoying tea from my favourite mug.  
The flowers smell divine.
I'm thinking.
I have deadlines.
I should be working.
But not just yet ...

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Saturday, 10 May 2014

a walk in the lilac wood

Now that lilacs are in bloom
She has a bowl of lilacs in her room ...

~ T S Elliot ~

Its been a funny old day.  I got up this morning with the most horrendous back ache, I'm not sure how I got it.  Did a bit of painting yesterday so maybe it was that.  I seem to get a lot of aches lately. I took something for the pain, put the heat pad on for 30 minutes and did some gentle stretching.  The ache eased ... the rain stopped for a time, and the sun came out, which always makes me feel better.

In between the squally showers we took a walk in the woods and around the fields ... to collect some blossom from the bank of abundant lilac trees ... sorry about the slightly blurred photo above -  

this photo is much better - but I cheated and its an old photo from a friend's garden:-)

I think its OK to pick a few bunches - they don't belong to anyone, so technically its not filching but nevertheless.  Is it wrong to deny the tree some of its beautiful blooms?  I give thanks for my small bounty and pledge to enjoy and admire their beauty and  fragrance in the house; to do them justice in a beautiful vase.

We are looking after a friend's dog for the day ... she is so sweet and the OH looks right at home walking her.

This is our very own lilac shrub in the garden - the fragrance is divine .... drawn out with the warmth of the sun after rain.

When we arrive home, there is a 'present' from Bobbi in the house.  Unfortunately we are too late and  the poor little thing has expired with fright.  A tiny field mouse - a baby I think.  Easy pickings for Bobbi, she is an opportunist, she hardly ever hunts or so I like to think.  I'm probably wrong.  But mostly she likes to doze in the garden, in her favourite places.  She comes in at dusk and we keep her home, this is her time with us, snuggling on laps, purring in contentment. 

The lilacs have wilted even in the short time it takes to walk home.  They look slightly shabby from this angle.

A little better here.  I'm sure they will perk up now they are in water.

I've been working this week on a project for a client, cataloguing his art collection, carrying out some basic research as to provenance etc. and in doing so, although entirely unconnected to his collection in any way, came across the work of Marc Chagall, the 'Painter as Poet'.  I'm really quite taken with his work, and indeed the man himself, and have ordered this book which should arrive soon.

Chagall's paintings are full of vibrant colour, mystery and mythology.  Find out more here,

The Lovers in the Lilacs was painted in 1930.  I love it.  Such a tender image and so appropriate for this post.

Happy weekend.

By kind permission of

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Wednesday, 7 May 2014


... come and see the garden ...

But firstly, apologies for my unintended absence and for not having visited your blogs for a whole month.

Where did April go?

It started off wonderfully, then went downhill from the middle of the month when I had to go into hospital for some surgery.  Nothing serious.  I'm OK.  But suffice to say I felt a tad delicate and just a little bit sorry for myself.  As you do.  I may talk about it a bit later down the line but for now I'm waiting for the results of a biopsy and I'm sure everything will be fine.

I had fully intended to post about my trip to the Cambridge Botanical Gardens and Kettle's Yard but this was way back at the end of March now, so perhaps not.   There has been a fair bit of cinema and culture. The Love Punch was hilarious; a Screen Arts production of Richard II with David Tennant in the title role along with a great ensemble cast was excellent, and a little while back we went to listen to the The Academy of Ancient Music at The Apex which was sublime.  But enough of the superlatives and back to the here and now.

My garden is as ever a source of great solace and recent tweaks to it are keeping my optimism levels up and my mind off other things.  Changes again?, I hear you groan.  Well as you know we had to change the hurdle fence as it kept getting blown down in the raging vortex that seems to afflict our garden from time to time, not only that but the wasps were making a fine old meal out of it; munching through at least six inches off the top.  Hey, it was coming to the end of its life anyway but despite that Sue and her husband have given it a good home at Meadow Cottage - using it to hide something nasty or other in the adjoining field - don't ask!

So we have a lovely new picket fence which is currently being transformed with Tudor black paint to match the shed ... we also have an arch ... which looks a bit like the entrance into a garden centre at the moment but will be unrecognisable once I have planted some climbers around it.

Its all looking lush and colourful for early May but I have yet to do any sowing whatsoever, and one raised bed is completely devoid of anything - a cutting patch perhaps ...?  I'm also planning a box edge border opposite the ferns below.  Its still a work in progress but here is a quick peep.

And now for some blog visiting!

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