July this year saw us take an amazing family trip to celebrate my dad's 60th birthday. We all wanted to be by the beach - the sun. sand and a subtle tan. Our morning flight meant a
not-so-bright wake up at 3am and flight at 6 in the morning. An hour on the plane and a hat-draped snooze later, we arrived in sunny Portugal. First on the agenda was a hearty
breakfast, followed by a dip in the sea and a sand manicure. Ah, the beach. A knee-deep lounge in the water, sitting in the doughnut float. The simple and calming joys of a sea soak.
We stayed at the Jupiter Algarve, which had comfortable rooms and friendly staff. I would recommend it for sure, especially as it was a stone's throw from the beach. The view from our
room balcony overlooked the twinkling sea and the majestic building above, where every morning felt that extra bit zen. You can see it all unfold on sis's video here. We were based in
Portimão, which had a family-friendly feel and pleasant buzz about the place. The sunshine and sand always helps. On our second day, we decided to venture into Lagos for the day,
A colourful carousel in town added to the backdrop of pastel buildings. Shop fronts in the lanes featured an array of souvenirs, from shell-adorned boxes to rows of magnets. As well as
cork art. More on that in a mo. A gallery window exhibited rock-inspired art, with vibrant hues smeared skillfully on a canvas. Which reminds me, I have to experiment more with
impasto paint in the coming year. I've dabbled slightly, yet haven't got around to creating an entire piece with the medium. It tends to get a bit messy, particularly having to clean the
brushes with turpentine. The end result is worth it though. The art has a tactile, raised surface, which adds to the impact.
A local artist beautifully captured the rocky vista, at what appears to be golden hour. I love the use of such vivid colours to capture the striking subject on canvas. I knew I couldn't be
the only person in awe of the landscape. I took many a picture of the stony cliffs, which I'll be sharing in the coming Portu posts. A well-layered stippled palette - a good sign the paint
and ideas have been flowing, This year, I experimented more with shapes and contrasting colours. The Abstraction series features clashing and complementary patterns.
'Hey, shall we hit up the cork factory?' Anyone? Cork was a big thing in Portugal. Tourist spots and vendors sold cork bags, sandals, purses and art-adorned slabs. There was a small
purse with colourful flecks in the cork; I remember thinking, if they had made that in a larger size, possibly circular and satchel style, I would have snapped it up. 'So, cork factory?' No
takers. Well, should you find yourself in Portugal with time on your hands, you know where to go. Cork as a canvas. I do like an unconventional canvas. I am joking a little and
by no means obsessed with the material. It does seem an interesting medium to work with, maybe even craft with... a bag? Not just good for preserving your favourite tipple, ya know.
Detailed tiles lined many a wall. I thought it'd be fun to try my hand at different crafts, so earlier this year I bought some mini tiles and and a pair of tile-cutters, to create mosaics on
paper. Grouting and walls we'll save for another day. Speaking of tile work, I came across the craft of Caroline Jariwala of Mango Mosaics, when I was watching Kirstie's Handmade
Christmas. Pieces spring to life in vibrant florals and lunar panels, where crockery is also creatively re-purposed in her designs. Many a different element forming the final picture.
Once we arrived in Lagos, we stopped in the main city for lunch and then set on our way to the crazy golf venue. Walking though the rustic town, colourful alleyways and repetitive
arrangements entertained visually. Such vibrancy to the city. This year I also combined abstract motifs with fashion illustrations on paper. I remember touching on the thought of
letting the paintbrush flow without overthinking results, at the end of this post, This led to brushstrokes which worked and other segments which had scope for development. Seeing
as we're by the coast, here's 'Shoal'. I went back to three of the designs in the series a few months later to add finishing strokes. The maroon segment at one point appeared quite
dense, so I later added the shimmering scales coursing through it. Sometimes, having that time in between allows for the reflection needed.
Best believe plant spotting takes place wherever I am. Long lengths of sansevieria cast shadows on the windows, forming the backdrop of sprawling greenery. The patterned lengths
mirrored the marbled surroundings. There's plant inspiration everywhere. I mentioned in this post how plants waken many a vessel - there, notably a life-size boat filled with them. We
finally arrived at our destination, where I wasn't expecting buoyant ladies pirouetting away. What a sculptural surprise. The putting park was empty when we arrived - time to play!
Funky plant forms were embedded in the surrounding rock beds. Giant acorn-like structures and fronds with perforated edges lined our game. Alike the rockeries built in my own
garden, the different heights and layers gracefully draw the eye throughout. On a much larger scale in this case. I'm considering adding more ferns to my garden...maybe a collection
which has a similar texture to the lengthy leaves below. Orby hedges wrapped around the expressive silhouettes and the dancers themselves added a light-heartedness.
We enjoyed making our way around the course, at a relaxed and fun pace. I found there was a shot to make atop a mini hill, which I was able to putt in quite easily and some other
holes to make were a little trickier. The score sheet balanced out again - no embellishing the scores here. It was looking fairly level pegging throughout, A continuing and curving shot
was to be taken, where dad smoothly putt the ball in one go. I took a moment for composure on my chance, to find the ball gracefully plipip in too. Yay! Mini celebration all around.
The pink figure must convey how you feel once you've hit a hole-in-one. Speaking of the dancing ladies, a mini placard told us more about them. Their enthusiasm was the brainchild
of artist Karl Heinz Stock, where he wanted to convey the attributes of 'lightness, elegance and grace' through his organic sculptures. Made from polystyrene and a protective layer of
fibreglass, they added a carefree touch throughout the park. Their bold colours stood out against the lush shades of green. Strike a pose.
So, squirty frogs were dotted throughout the course. Boom! A jet beam of water came straight for you when you least expected it. They must've been sensor activated. It wasn't even
subtle: a splashing with a straight up super-soaker pistol . After one encounter, hopping over rock barriers to make a water-free journey was the drier option. You could stay light on
your feet and sprint through, which I did on a few occasions, Midpoint, the boat-pulley-system seemed the only way for us to make our way to the next shot. We emerged on the other
side unscathed and couldn't stop laughing on the way. The prospect of being at froggy's mercy was too much. We later realised there was the option to circumnavigate the route by
walking, but where would've been the fun in that? Our last shot saw the balls vanish into the structure and dad did very well to clinch the win in the end.
I thought I'd have to hop a flight to Hawaii to see such hibiscus. The exotics come to mind. We made our way back to the main town, taking the scenic route past the beach. There's
always time to stop and smell the flowers. Some of these fleurs may not be the scent-emitting type, yet still have an allure about them. The dried floral arrangements combined shells
with materials such as metal and paper. There's no end to the combination of styling blooms, be it a rose in a frosty cube or a cascading coral-esque collaboration.
Palm trees stood breezily along the path, shooting firecracker-like fronds. It'd probably be a stretch to have one in the yard at home. A miniature version would be perfect, especially to
work harmoniously in size with other greenery. If I did plant all the fascinating tree species that caught my eye, I don't think there'd be any walking space in the garden. The fiery yellow
one spotted at Coton Manor would also make an appearance. The texture of this palm's layered bark resembled stacked shells. It looked as if it you could play a melodious scale,
running a xylophone stick across the surface. This tactility is something I want to add in the new shrubs I plant for summer.
We came to the end of the road, to a vista of sails. All things water were happening on the coastal edge: canoe lessons, fishing, boating and general glee from taking a dip. Eye-
catching lighthouses stood strong and striped, irrespective of the weather having had an influence on them. Nothing quite like horizon gazing into the distance, which was the case
with our day in Rutland Water too. Talk about tranquil. Glancing down, mosaic cobbling nodded to the nautical feel surrounding us.
A giant anchor sat ashore, where I'm assuming Poseidon lobbed it far from his underwater haven to land here. It did have a trident quality about it. There's a whole new realm of a world
in the watery depths and you never know what lays just beneath the surface. Elements underneath can also have a stunning impact at a visible level, such as Colombia's rainbow
river. The macarenia clavigera plant is responsible for the hues, with lime green and fuchsia appearing in ever-changing patches. This would be other-worldly to see in person.
As we strolled along, I said 'wait a moment, I'm just going to take a clear shot of the allium.' Sis, of course, felt Homer-Simpsoning into the shot was necessary. Here's the beautiful
result. Stepping in and out of the photo as I tried to capture the flowers. Straight out of the shot as soon as it was taken. I do like this photo, where I made her a 2018 Christmas card with
a photo compilation featuring this one, of course. Can't wait for Spring to make an appearance again, to see an abundance of petals...and maybe another little photo appearance.
Rich orange gladioli danced with the tall palms, where you can never go wrong with blooms in this tone. We continued exploring the town, to come across a lively music and beer
festival. A few dessert stands joined the line-up too. It was time for a strawberry and Nutella crepe and some live music. I wouldn't say no, at any point in my life to either. You can see
the tribute to Elvis and our sweet treat endeavour at the 7 mins 48 mark on sis's vlog. We then ventured back to Portimão for dinner and the hotel for a game of pool with dad.
It's not very often I can step out of the door to find myself at the beach, so I wanted to make the most of it. In the evening, I strolled towards the sandy path, towards the calm waters. I
was accompanied by a hazy lilac sky and delicate swishing heather. The sand resembled multiple mini dunes, ready to mould beneath footprints. It was great being able to see the
mood the beach takes on at different points of the day. We walked past the beach late another night, where the glowing full moon rippled on the dark waters. I was reminded of
the time I spent in Eastbourne and how relaxing the dusky seascape can be.
Running my hands through the grains, shell shards become unearthed. Iridescent pieces caught the last glimmer of daylight, with creamy brown and white bands decorating the sand.
I brought some of the shells home with me, so I could create a sea-inspired terrarium. Maybe some pearly stones combined with spiky air plants to best encapsulate the scene. Quiet
moments on the beach, Pretty serene. Raindrops gently began to make their way down, just as sis joined me. We took in the view, before the heavens opened up something good.
The quote 'we write to live life twice' by Anaïs Nin comes to mind, when I look back at the pages of my blog. It captures why I write and further, why I also have a love for photography. I
remember spending the birthday money I was gifted at the age of 13, on my first Canon click and shoot camera. The excitement of having those images developed - opening up that
envelope and seeing a more tangible form of that moment clicked ages ago. Some photos great, some not so much ('How did this blur occur?') I feel this especially when I see these
snaps of my 27th birthday. Here's 28 and 29 happened this year...that post is also on the way! Chronology - who's got time for that. Mixing it up a little. Sis took me for a lovely birthday
breakfast at Cosy Club in the morning (sharing pancakes and Eggs Benedict is our specialty), where vintage decor and sewing-related furnishings caught my eye.
After choosing to throw caution to the slight rain splutters, we made a visit to Coton Manor in Northampton. Visiting gardens is one of our favourite ways to spend summertime. We've
luckily had a chance to visit a fair few in the past years and I have to say, this is one of my absolute favourites. The rockery at Lamport Hall was memorable for sure, as well as pensive
pond moments at Cottesbrooke Hall. Here, it was the beautiful mix of flora and fauna, if not for a particular long-limbed creature I anticipated seeing.
I could wax lyrical about all the blooms here for a while...so I'm going to. Flowerbeds edged along the length, with hazy purple irises sitting comfortably. Fluid lines of the flowerheads
reminded me of Van Gogh's brushstrokes. There was a fragrant burst which past us every time we were in a certain vicinity. Stepping back and forth to catch the aroma again, we were
able to narrow in on which shrub it was. Each variety was labelled, where it was the 'syringa palibin' - aka lilacs, which excited the scent sense. Cue searching for said shrub in online
garden shops, in the days that followed. That, and about 20 other plant species (slight exaggeration...only slight).
We sat on the lawn by the khaki-coloured lake, absorbing our zen surroundings. It was looking a little touch and go with the weather, although the sun emerged at just the right time.
Those jungle vibes came through with giant palms arching extravagantly out of the water. At times like this, thoughts of creating a water feature in my own garden heightened. Or,
small scale is just as idyll an option, like this microcosm you could hold in your hands. The most striking ducks with Mondrian-esque markings drifted through the chocolate waters.
The variety of flora continues. Creamy pansies smile in clusters and paper-like petals thread daisies together with yellow faces. Wonderland, here we are. Now, the blue poppies
were surprising and surreal. An immediate thought was of course, planting some. An evening with Monty Don on Gardener's World revealed that the Himalayan Poppy is very fussy
with the soil and conditions they are in. Not one to be deterred, I may find them in a flower patch close to me soon. Yes, my Friday evening are usually spent watching what green feats
are blossoming in many a different plot around the United Kingdom. Love it.
Past the archway and fountain, we ventured into one of the most beautiful gardens. A layered landscape with pockets of colour and shrubbery. Glancing around, it was a case of
wanting to visually take in everything, from every angle. Speckles of white and fuchsia stood out against the verdant backdrop. Fiery yellow blooms sparked alight from one corner,
adding to the mottled drama. A perfectly paved path winded into the distance, marked by giant conifers. This was one garden I didn't want to leave.
Gazing towards my feet, fern fronds sprawled onto the path, sprouting in hearty bunches. There's something prehistoric and enchanting about ferns, almost as if they've been here
since dinosaurs roamed. I purchased a beautiful one from Kelmarsh Hall two summers ago, which provides great texture amongst other foliage. Another leafy plant which I'd
embedded in the soil is the Hosta. They showed good promise of growing, yet their leaves proved a bit too delicious for nearby critters. How to keep them at bay? I'm on the search for
environmentally and bug-friendly repellents. Any suggestions are welcome. Back in this garden, as if it couldn't be get more captivating..
This wonderfully dreamlike scenario. Carefree flamingos were happy to strike a long-stemmed pose. Even as you came in a little closer, they were completely cool. Nonchalant steps
and their relaxed demeanour - almost as if they're saying 'Here, feel free to capture this angle.' When they came together to make a neck-curving heart... Ah, they're just showing off
now. I have a definite new love for the flams. Some were in the pool having a little dip. where these two gems opted to have a casual standing siesta. I could happily fill this post with
flamingo photos. I mean, look at them! Talk about a haven for beautiful birds.
Wisteria draped along a wall length of the manor. I bought a wisteria plant around 2 years ago, which sits small and proud in a green pot. It's yet to show any signs of being such an
expansive, all-encompassing formation. Deep soil, many a year and patience should do the trick. From the garden shop here, I chose a climbing sweet-pea as my birthday plant, which
happened to be a vibrant pink/orange shade (matched the flamingos). It was also coincidentally named the 'Happy Birthday' variety on the tag. Couldn't have been more fitting.
Taking life with a plate full of petals and a small side of thorns. Because, well, that's just the balance that it is. Make sure you've got your gardening gloves on though. Those thorns can
have some cutting power. You've still gotta stop to smell the roses once in a while. I've planted two rose bushes in my own garden. I know summertime has come around around when
velvet red roses have unfurled and are surrounded by bees. I find there's always a floral flurry to get lost in.
It was a tranquil Friday near the end of May, when we decided to visit Rutland Water. A few days before my birthday, in fact. Living in a landlocked city like Leicester, spending much
time near a body of water wasn't possible. I did love growing up in this city though, especially bike rides in the local park - steep hills which allowed for soaring when making the non-
pedalling descent. On this particular day, it had been a while since I'd spent some time near the dock of the bay. That said, this year brought an amazing trip to the Algarve in Portugal,
which I'm excited to share in the coming months.
I remember the first time I made a visit here was in Year 4 (approx. aged 8) with school, at a different part of this large location. It was informative learning about the water cycle. That
day many a year ago, was broken up into two parts, where we spent the morning at Cropston Reservoir. We were told prior to the trip that a pair of wellies would be handy, as we
planned to walk through muddy river banks. My mum kindly took me to some shops in search for the perfect pair. She asked if I was certain about the pair I wanted and I thought I was.
They were a tad snug, but there'd be some give with a little wear, right? The end of the walk was a note-to-self moment. As nice as the light pink Wellington boots look, if they're a size
too small, opt for the comfortable, robust green ones which you could easily spend a day fly-fishing in. My teacher complemented them, 'Those are lovely pearly wellies, Darshika.'
'Thanks Miss' (my toes are gone). Inner brackets not my response at the time - just reflecting on how I feel about too-small-a-shoe, 20-odd years later. A fun day regardless, where the
following days at school involved pretending to write from the perspective of a living water droplet, going through its daily life cycle. We've all been there. I remember hand writing a
lengthy piece, which needed to be folded on itself multiple times before it was mounted on the wall. It was decorated with drawings of pebbles and such in the border. I've kept choice
work from my childhood days and yes, I still have this piece written approx 21 years ago. Drop me a message for a PDF version of this lengthy tale (kidding). Well worth the read though.
Practicality over appearance, the vast amount of time these days. My Croc-like gardening clogs would be evidence of this. Never did I think I'd be sporting a pair, yet I've grown quite
accustomed to them. Whether they'll be making a public appearance any time soon remains to be seen. I step out into the garden to put them on and think 'Ah, I'm home.' They
remind me of carefree weed-pulling-makes-everything-come-up-literal-roses times. Mine don't have the mini holes dotted across the plastic barrier of the shoe. They do however,
have the tooth-like shape, resilience and sure do the trick when wading through rocky mud. Convinced yet? Go on, wedge up and get a little muddy. For shoes not reserved for
gardening, I'd go with a pair similar to ones I wore this day, here... these would probably do the trick too.
Next rockery venture: a giant succulent-filled boat. Speaking of one, I did come across an ornamental boat (about 2 feet long) in a shop a few months ago and I was very tempted to
buy it. Navy blue with white edging, it was as nautical as it gets. I envisioned filling it with some compost and echeveria lilacina, with their greyish/faint blue petals mimicking the sea. It
took a lot to put it back down and remember sill space is at a shortage - as mentioned in the last post. I also considered how at this rate, I'm one step short of filling an
abandoned toaster with sprawling succulents - gaze here for vessel-planting inspiration.
I found myself playing camouflage against the stunning structure of Normanton Church. It sits on an arm stretching out into the water and provides a focal point along the landscape.
To think there were plans in the 1970's to flood the surrounding land and building - I'm glad to see it still standing strong today. Speaking of striking construction, the artist Pontus
Jansson carefully staggers rocks and then let's gravity naturally do it's thing (a helping hand sometimes). The balance between the various sized stones is impressive, with serene
locations adding to the zen. Each piece complements the next, leaving your mind to sometimes interpret the sculptural forms - I get 'book perched atop a mini meteor' here.
Gazing into the distance, you wonder what lies beneath the calm surface of the water. Wasn't expecting Nessie, although I'm sure fascinating creatures on a smaller scale are out there
doing their thing. I've always wanted to see coral; there's an abundance of colour, patterns and surrealness underwater. Being surrounded by it all would be quite an experience.
Last year I worked at a summer school, where I visited a dock in Gloucester on a free day. Quaint barges invited you over for tea. Life on the water just seems that bit more chill.
We decided to see some more of the land, so me and sis unhurriedly climbed up a stony pathway. Parents opted to take shade, read the paper and relax.
While writing this post, I found this song automatically play on my playlist. 'No man is an island...maybe you were the ocean when I was just a stone'. Seemed fitting while I look back at
a water-filled day. I'm a big fan of Ben Howard's music - have a listen to his albums for some mellow, yet moving, listening. This feels like a good segue to mention that they played
one of his beaut tunes at the end of a stellar episode of House, that I watched yesterday. I'm on the final series and as I (sadly) edge closer to the last ever episode, I'm over here
wondering how to spend my evenings. I could write or draw, sure, although peak productivity for me tends to be the morning/afternoon and I've carved out the late part of the day for
a show. I'm thinking Grey's Anatomy. I've heard that it's 15 series or so deep, so it's quite the investment. One to make? If you have any recommendations, I'd be happy to hear them.
The shoreline dipped in and out throughout the view, with the majestic building peeking through the trees. Sheep. so many sheep, living off the fat of the land and the good life. I was
reminded of my 28th birthday spent in Derbyshire. We finished this lovely day with a visit to a restaurant not too far from the city centre called Tiranga, for an early birthday dinner. A
great place for some authentic Indian food - the chilli paneer has a tasty crispiness to it. Summer, until you're ready to roll around again, we'll be here.
Last year saw me create my first two small rockeries. I saw a colossus one in the gardens at Lamport Hall and was inspired to make my own version, I then had to consider the
structure becoming waterlogged and the last thing I'd want was a washout rock slide. It was time to scale it down a little. I mentioned in my previous birthday post that dad
helped me build some planters, so smaller rocky microcosms it was. This decision happily led to many an even smaller terrarium created.
Like a kid in a rock candy shop, I had a fun day deciding which pebbles to purchase. Rose quartz, amethyst and aventurine are some semi-precious favourites. Polished pieces add a
statement touch, alongside stones in a more natural, jagged form. I find pebble combos look good with a similar theme, such as slate and metallic ore mineral. Yellow-hued stones
come together to complement light green leaves. The bench is also currently under construction, where dad's building skills know no limits.
I found an online shop which sold a collection of bare-rooted plantlings and a stunning unnamed variety arrived on my doorstep. I conducted some research of my own; the vivid
lengths of Purple Heart make a stunning addition to any planter. Speaking of small plants, you never know what'll spring up overnight. This miniature mushroom felt at home here,
nestled between chunky leaves. If you ever fancy creating a rockery yourself, here's a few tips. This is along the lines of what I initially had in mind for the back of my garden.
When the small wall in the garden was built by dad many a year ago, there were a few grey bricks left spare sitting in the corner. I thought they'd make great mini-mountain additions
to the rockery. Cue an enthusiastic throwing-bricks-against-the-paving session (highly recommended), which led to pieces breaking off in perfect chunks. The area looked like a little
makeshift quarry. I had no idea what to expect in the internal brickwork, yet I was pleased to discover a stellar moon-rock pattern throughout.
The large echeveria first had a home in the flowerbed, but was carefully moved to the planter for better drainage. It's come up a cropper, year after year. Echeveria and sempervivum
are some of my favourite succulents. When I was younger, I remember visiting my aunt's garden, where she used to have some embedded in the soil. I was fascinated by their
rubbery, squidgy leaves - they looked almost artificial. I also like how resilient these two varieties are and how even when the frost bites, they still come through in Spring. Which is
what I was hoping would be the case with the various new stems planted. I found it was sadly, a very different story...
Alike the last post, this one is also a retrospective. As much as I want to say all the plants made it through last year's harsh winter, most of them perished. It was pretty upsetting
stepping out briefly in December and seeing the strong length of the cacti curling up on itself, Many of the leaves had become mushy. In hindsight, I wish I has considered protective
covering measures, alike the couple in Norfolk, who have created an astounding cacti and succulent garden. I came across the article when searching for large-scale ideas and was
blown away by the vast array of exotic greenery (look at all the agaves!), as well as the fact that it's here in England. What a surreal escape, every time you step outside your door.
The last few weeks of summer saw the final photos taken, after that the roots had had time to take hold. I don't want to focus on the fact that the planters no longer look like this. The
weather-beaten lengths were retrieved and bought indoors, in the hopes they'd spring back to life...to no avail. Jeez, I didn't think I'd be this affected. (I'm okay - really). Instead, I'll
mention some more favourites in this mini jungle: Crassula Moonglow, with its patterned nodular leaves; Aeoniums, with their contrasting red edge; and Spoon-leaved
Stonecrop sedum, which have a cluster of greyish-hued florettes. There was one, however, that did make it, which I've had chance to re-pot into a permanently indoor terrarium.
There's a creative element that you can bring to the table, or planter, when decorating. Before the final potting, I had a play with the arrangement in sections, deciding which plants
work next to the other and as a whole. Alongside pebbles, a few beads make an appearance. Each section melds into different tones, from the reddish copper leaves to subdued
blue-tinged ones. Materials such as terracotta, slate and stone course like a rocky stream, into the next. The large keystone bricks were put in place first (same ones which built the
wall), with smaller rocks falling in accordingly. A landscape feel was formed by raising heights in certain areas. There was something so satisfying in seeing it all come together.
I had luckily collected some fallen leaves from some of the plants, which meant I could propagate them this year. It's a slow process, although tiny buds are beautifully starting to take
form. I'm still a tad gutted that there's some cuttings I didn't take, such as the seaweed-looking form above, and the trio of cacti totems. The store from which I bought the bundle is
unfortunately no longer in operation. So, now it's a case of keeping a look-out in plant shops to see if I stumble across them again. Yet, I'm also trying to curb my plant
shopping, as I feel I've officially run out of window sill or sunlight receiving space. I might, might just make rare exception if something striking catches my eye.
As well as every sill space, I've also considered how floor space could be best utilized with long colourful vases - filled with sprawling vines and feathery fronds. Best believe I'll be
covering up this year's planters as the harsh cold comes around again (plastic tray covers maybe)? I recently moved to Hertfordshire, so it won't be possible to spend as much time in
my garden as I used to. That said, Letchworth is coincidentally a 'Garden City' and tree-lined walkways make up for it. A bunny-ear cacti I purchased from a local florist (this be the
exception of paragraph above) has made the perfect house-warming plant. I've also brought some terrariums with me, naturally. All in all, the outlook is still pretty green from here.
Here we are, after what felt like the longest January and flash-by Feb, I hope you've had a pleasant start to the new year. I thought it'd be a while
before I could introduce grassy vibrancy back on the blog, what with winter and icy cold walks being the norm. Yet, it's a chance to share my
birthday from earlier last year in May. I hoped to share it closer to the time...yet procrastination got the better of me. It was my 28th in fact. Do I feel
my years? Not so much. You're as old as you feel though, right? Quote me on that in about 20 years when the #LeafLadies movement (the politically
correct term - no Crazy Plant Lady here) and Dog Lady is in full force. Sounds like the dream to be honest.
We visited Calke Abbey in Derbyshire, surrounded by greenery. There's an undeniable happiness it brings and reminds me that summer isn't too far
away, especially when I look out of my window right now to see a blizzard. No exaggeration. I'm considering this get-up for the next trudge into
town. Even so, there is something mesmerizing about watching the snow and it also makes a great canvas.
Wooden branches in the distance lay like an inviting outdoor installation. A quick hike up the marshy hill led me to find a giant dino-lizard snapping
at my heels. No time to stop...
Venturing in, we found hand-crafted sculptures in wood and wrought-iron lining the garden square. The horsie heads in particular were eye-
catching, with curved panels of wood carefully pieced together. I'm hoping to create a dimensional illustration in my garden this year. Small shards of
wood are to be combined, forming multiple figures. Handsaw and sandpaper are at the ready. Last summer, my dad kindly helped me design and
create small-scale planters for my miniature rockery. This summer, it's be nice to create larger ones to house all the floral trees, such as the magnolia
and cherry blossom. This way, there'll be space for roots to spread out and branches to flower.
We stopped for carrot cake and tea, surrounded by specks of colour. The more sedate lifestyle has kicked in...and quite frankly, I love it.
Walking through, I admired the various blooms, whilst trying to decide on one to purchase. The creamy white petals took centre stage, with their
long draping stems. I didn't catch their name...although if I had to guess, I'd say a variety of gladioli? Three years ago, I planted peacock orchids,
which have similar elegant flower heads. Their bulbs also multiply naturally, so I found many beautiful clusters popping up unexpectedly. Not to
mention the stunning fragrance they release. Catching wind of the scent when walking by is something else. If you're going to plant any flowers for
their smell, make it this variety. Here's hoping the tuberose I planted come to bloom this year, as they're also known for their aroma. The garden
critters need to take a back seat and resist eating them.
We were looking forward to exploring the stately manor which the grounds hold, yet we missed the last tour time. I guess it's an excuse to come and
visit another time with the fam, alike our day in Newark. Many a stable to see here, alas no horsies this time around. Ivy crept up the walls, reminding
me of how it enthusiastically made it's way up tree trunks two Januaries ago, That particular day is a little more fitting in matching the current chill in
the air (I'll be staying here and thinking warm thoughts).
A field of delicate Queen Anne's lace looked as though it had been carefully meshed together. Something I want to do more of this year is hand-
stitch. I recently purchased a stash of seed beads to sew onto paper (if I'm treating myself, it's usually to art goodies and such - it's for my craft, so
justifiable, of course). It starts with 'Oh, I need some light green beads...may as well get them in dark green too seeing as I'm here...can't hold out on
the turquoise...andd checkout'. As pretty as they look in the beadtrove, a mini goal is get them threaded onto a surface. Also, It must've been my first
time seeing black petunias, so they had to make small feature. Fielding and covering many a floral base here.
When toadstools make an appearance, a pixie moment is inevitable. You should see the outtakes of trying to hop aboard - it's a lot higher than it
looks - although we'll save those for another day. (Yeah, they're never seeing the light of day). I chose the dianthus in a pastel shade of orange as my
birthday plant. I have a variety of this flower in shades of pink and they've grown back year after year. They happen to be more commonly known as
'pinks' too, irrespective of colour. Hopefully this one will continue to re-bloom annually in the garden, reminding me of this point in my life.
The dresses I usually wear tend to be of a flared style. yet I was happy to wear this floral number that my mum actually sewed for for me. The love of
sewing is indeed something that's passed down. The apple gladly doesn't fall far and all. I paired it with some tassel loafers, where you can find a
similar pair here. I do like a good tassel or fringe detailing, be it on a shoe or paper. Spotting this nettle mass reminded me of the perils of pricking
plants, alike rosehip thorns - a price I was willing to pay for creating art that day.
Our first encounter when we came upon the vast grounds, was with plentiful sheep. They dotted along the landscape and we were welcomed with
a chorus of bleating. Maybe they were singing Happy Birthday. Casual sauntering and days basking in the shade, like little lamb here have got to be
the best. I'm having a hard time believing that May is rolling around again, so very soon.
Various stones were embedded in the patchwork wall, with different textures and colours working together. It was reminiscent of a collection of
minaudierès and totes. Speaking of stone bags, Barbara Segal is an artist whose work takes heavy shopping bags to a whole new level. She deftly
carves handbags from precious stones, such as marble and onyx. Each design is sculpted to the nearest mm measurement of the original bag, The
attention to detail and bands of colour from the natural material is astounding. It'd be a Herculean feat walking around with these creations -
probably best to admire from a table top on this occasion.
Winding roads twisted in the hilly distance, asking to be explored...
Fields of gold. Sting wasn't joking when he said 'you'll remember me' - he was clearly singing from the perspective of the yellow-petalled fleurs. We
were initially going to call it a day, before we decided to set out on one last stroll around the grounds. The sunshine piercing through was a dream.
Taking the extra steps showed that it's the only way to see where the path leads. If the bright buttercup field we discovered is anything to go by, I'm
going to go ahead and believe it's somewhere beautifully surreal.