Sunday, 11 January 2015

A Refreshing Start

Look! There's life outside despite it being so dank and dark. Not that I'm minding much. Seasons are what keep me going, they mark and celebrate the year, so darkness and chill during January are really just how things should be. Seeing the bulbs peep through though is massive cause for celebration.

I'm not one for giving things up in January, it's a time for comfort and cosiness but  I do rather like to try something new. My concession to the New Year health kick is to try and knock back my sugary coffees and teas (I'm surely the only person left who still takes it!) -  but gosh it's hard. 

Instead of total abstinence I'm reducing my number of mugs and replacing them with a new found friendship with fruit and herbal teas. The Dorset Tea Company kindly offered me a chance to sample some of their delicious range of teas and fruit infusions which was quite timely for me and I've been making some lovely discoveries. 
(note - teapot not required but I wanted to show off my bargain, charity shop Saddler pot. I love it!)

Based in beautiful Dorset where we've had such lovely holidays, the Dorset Tea Company has recently created this new range of fruit and herbal infusions and green teas inspired by the some of England's most gentle and beautiful scenery. Its also good to read they're a producer member of The Rain Forest Alliance.

So, my new regime features a morning boost of Wild About Mint, without doubt my favourite; a mix of peppermint and spearmint (and tingling nettle apparently) that I'm finding a totally different experience and very refreshing. Green tea is a completely new drink to me and one I've looked at with trepidation if I'm honest - but with added lemon it's rather uplifting and relaxing; if that's a possible combination?! 

Woody's sweet tooth has been captured by Strawberries and Cream as an afternoon pick me up. For a fella he can be a bit refined and the special Earl of Dorset blend is disappearing fast. 
A handy flask is making my herbal habit very easy to keep up too. When I'm busy in the borders I like to top up my brew and I found today this trick works even better with herbal teas (lack of milk) and means you're not faced with that lukewarm disappointment that's the curse of the gardener's cuppa.

I've also taken to popping a few bags and a couple of flasks in the back of the car and a warm fruity or herbal choice was very popular after our blustery New Year's Day walk with this lovely bunch. They just reminded me that I really need to remember biscuits too next time - not quite so good for my sugar detox!
So have you picked up a new habit for the year to come? I'd love to know xx

Monday, 29 December 2014

Frozen Beauty

This time last year I couldn't run for a bus. The idea of stepping out in sub-zero temperatures - to exercise! - was an alien concept. If you follow this blog frequently you'll know that things for me in this regard have changed quite a bit. 

Today felt like a reminder of what I enjoy most about getting out running. Nature in all her glory. And a ok a bit cold but you soon get over that. I enjoyed every step x 

Saturday, 27 December 2014

They Said There'd Be Snow at Christmas ...

Late on Boxing Night it came. Great feathery flakes, the size of the golden coins in the boys stockings. Quickly settling and blanketing the village, our Boxing Day get together came to a swift end with family bundling back into the cars to get back over the hills. 

My sister has often been stuck trying to get back to Buxton and thankfully they made it over the treacherous Axe Edge just in time before the roads were closed. 

Mum and Dad live only four miles away but the last mile up the hill was too much for their car and they had to hike up together in the dark. Luckily they're made of sturdy stuff. This morning, knowing that everyone had made it back home safely, meant I could revel in our wintry, festive landscape.
Snow at Christmas time is something I cross my fingers for every year, never imagining it might come. A couple of inches dusted our valley but a mile or two away in Leek there's been a huge dump and pictures from friends in Buxton make it look like Narnia!

I know its nothing like in Europe or the States, but this dusting, when we have our Christmas trees and fairy lights up and have time to sledge and build snowmen, is precious. Christmas snow; the very best type there is. xxx

A Homely Christmas

Cosying in with close family, good food and time together to laugh and chat is all we could have wished for at Christmas and we were so lucky to have that.

Thanks for all your lovely Christmas wishes and I hope if you've been marking the festive season you've had a smashing time too. 

Its truly been a merry and bright time for us, which sort of puts into perspective how for many, many people it isn't and I think that moved us all too. We're a very lucky family and I shall be thankful all year - especially for our extra Christmas present that arrived on Boxing Night. More in the next post. xx

Sunday, 21 December 2014

A Solstice Wander

We'd made a little a plan while ago, my lovely middle sister Rachel and me, that on the shortest day we'd grab ourselves a little free time to walk the lanes and gather some greenery to decorate our homes.

So we set off this dank and blustery morning (perfect!) to wander around Bagnall, the village where we grew up. I only live a couple of miles away but Rach lives over the hills in Buxton and although she's often here visiting us or our folks, I can't remember the last time we had the chance to saunter about together with no time pressure or small people needing our attention.
Both of us were keen to see if we could still remember where all the footpaths went, so first of all we headed down towards to old mill pools and then onto the Salt Track where merchants brought the mineral over from Nantwich to the monks at Hulton Abbey centuries ago. I remember this cosy cottage in a really tucked away spot, as a tumbled down farm for a long time and it was great to see that its being lovingly restored

The wooded end of the Salt Track proved to be a treasure trove for the wreaths we wanted to make and we found wispy seed heads, berried holly and rosehips to snip (leaving plenty for the birds and the rest of the village.)
Our morning was literally a walk down memory lane. We had a good laugh remembering Grandad getting us to hang upside down from the little white bridge over the ford to grab moss for his hanging baskets! We kept complaining about getting wet but typical Grandad he just said' "its only a bit a' watter!" (and his hanging baskets were the best bless him.)

The little brick building is the parish hall where we went to Sunday School, playgroup and lots of village barn dances and things. There's a more modern village hall too that's much better suited to parties and events, but I have really fond memories of the church hall, the glorious view out of the back door and tea from Woods Ware crockery. Its been closed for years and I harbour a little dream that I might turn it into a family home one day (the wooden floors were wonderful!)
So this is what we made. Rachel's is a rather elegant effort, lots of ivy and some discreet rosehips that she's hoping won't get blown away in the windy part of Buxton where she lives. Mine's a bit more of a rustic affair with a little of everything we found including holly, yew, and ivy berries.

I had such a great time, it was treat for us to chat and put the world to rights together and I think just maybe we've invented a new family tradition.  Happy winter solstice everyone xx

Friday, 12 December 2014

Advent Adventures #2

Apologies if you follow me on Instagram and have seen these pictures all before! My camera is gathering dust at the moment with a fault so my trusty phone is tracking my seasonal wanderings and will have to do for now.

Advent is marching on isn't it. Life is getting busier but it feels exciting and full of anticipation. The steam railway at the end of our road is doing a roaring trade with its Santa Express and looks magnificent.

This year I have a ten day break from the office, precious days to spend with special friends and lovely family. I feel very fortunate to be in that position and it means an awful a lot to me x

So as you can imagine there are rather a few things on the wish list and a few achieved already:

:: visiting the man himself at our local National Trust estate at Ilam Park near Dovedale.  It was a foul winter's day with snow in the air and mobbed by field fares and red wings. I adored it!  Father Christmas was very jovial despite being so busy and even our 11 year old was transfixed. Joyous!

:: we discovered a new local pub in a neighbouring village that was total perfection. Roaring fire, friendly welcome and a delicious roast dinner. I can't imagine anything much better :)

Now I'm looking forward to;

:: feeding carrots to my lovely friend Helen's new pony 

:: a walk with my middle sister on the winter solstice to gather our greenery for wreath making and, a flying visit from my younger sister to swap presents.

:: the village carol service

:: a visit to the pantomime

:: a festive feast with our Buxton friends and a New Year's Day walk with all the kids, if the weather obliges.

Preparations beckon now though, wrapping and cleaning mostly! Hope yours are going well if you are too x

P.s hello to my new follower from just down the road *waves to Milton*. (where I went to school :) 

Monday, 8 December 2014

Advent Adventures #1

took a trip north last week to kick off the festive season with my sister in her adopted home city of York. It was impossibly festive; full of shoppers , fabulous lights and a lovely atmosphere.

Mum and dad joined us too which was really lovely. Just us girls and our folks doesn't happen all that often and was such a treat. They spoilt us rotten too with a delicious lunch in a very cosy pub close to the minster and later we had tea and cakes in a rather good bookshop. 
We're very similar in our tastes in our family, history and art definitely being our main shared interests, so when Susie ducked down one of York's many curious alleyways and lead us to the breathtaking Holy Trinity Church, we were all very thrilled. (Inside pics = Holy Trinity, external pic = York Minster).

Decked for Yuletide with greenery and candles we history geeks enjoyed a break from the hustle and bustle admiring box pews, Lancet arches and ancient stained glass windows. Talk about memorable x 
Later we couldn't resist the lure of the marvellous medieval fayre at Barley Hall (one of my favourite buildings in the world). The shopping was wonderful and I bought handmade pottery, divine chocolates and wooden instruments to the backdrop of medieval carols and the aroma of mulled wine. Heaven.
So all in all a delicious family day that's got my Christmas off to a wonderful start. How is your Advent going so far?