Saturday, 17 March 2012

Spring Time !

A whole month spent catching up with old friends and family in England, and here I am back home in Italy welcomed by Em, the animali, (including Wabbit!), and an abundance of beautiful wild flowers!

Spring has definitely waved her magic wand, splashing vibrant colour in our garden and throughout the woodland.
New life forcing it's way through dry ground and dead leaves, you have to wonder how they have the strength!
Primroses, beautiful tiny Violets, Helibors, daffodils to name but a few lifting our spirits denoting not only the change in season but signalling wonderful new hope!

Snowdrops were out in abundance, we saw them throughout England and Scotland.

I didn't have to look far to find this little clump in Clavering after our superb night at Jamie Oliver's dad's pub, The Cricketers.
Now that's a mouthful!
What a fabulous old English pub, everything gleamed from the glasses hanging above the bar to the old brass, all polished and pucker!
Curtains and soft furnishings were all of a quality and beautifully clean, none of the old tat and smelly carpets here!
The en suite bedroom was just as comfortable with a huge bed and attractive furnishings.
We celebrated our belated birthdays with a fabulously tasty dinner in the restaurant.
Here at the Cricketers they take great pride in sourcing the best produce.
Meat is properly hung, fish always fresh and the seasonal, organic vegetables and herbs are supplied by Jamie.
Bread is made daily.
Staff were all friendly and smiley knowing just how to pitch the service, it was great, fully recommend it!

Clavering itself is a picturesque old English village with individual thatched cottages.

After the best poached eggs on toast and crispy bacon we were reluctantly on our way.....well not strictly true, happy to head north for a couple of nights to our lovely friends, Laura and Paul!

Visiting them is always a joy, Laura always insists on us having her lovely cottage whilst she moves herself in with Paul. A fantastic welcome, from scented candles to Prosecco chilling in the fridge, thoroughly spoilt we are!
Apart from the laughter the highlight of our stay is always a walk up to their allotment to see Paul's latest shed, hand built from recycled wood and basically anything he can lay his hands on!
When they first took the land on it was completely over grown, I am knocked out by what they have achieved and how much they have planted.
They must grow every vegetable as well as fruit to make your mouth water, gooseberries, rhubarb, strawberries and the like! A pond attracts all kinds of wildlife and they have even restored an old 60's caravan where they brew up when they fancy a break!
I am inspired and over whelmed by their hard work and immense enthusiasm!
I love mooching around seeing what the other allotments are like, Laura introduces me and I always end up taking endless photographs of the characters, posting them copies once I am home!
All the allotments are walled and gated, an amazing community of life, everyone sharing their produce between themselves and with their neighbours.
Apart from one, the chap who only grows leeks, prize leeks, ones that cannot be eaten, they are so enormous! And anyway, his wife will only eat vegetables if they come from the local supermarket!!!!!!?

And so we move on to beautiful Edinburgh, spending a day at Gullane on the coast.
A beautiful day in terms of light and colour combined with happy memories.
Before this day we came here perhaps more than 20 years ago.
This thought and standing in the very same place with the children when they were small and Jim's lovely parents made me think about time.
How strange it is, if we could wind it back, here we would be playing with the children, hair blowing on that blustery cold day!

I love collecting shells...... apart from Scallops, I found lovely big shells I haven't been able to identify yet.
Inspired to mount them on a canvas, I bought some home, planning also to inscribe a line of text.

My holiday started in the south catching up with my sister, nephew and nieces and finished there with a lovely week spent with my parents in between.

A trip to beautiful old Stamford with lunch at The George and a night with my dear friend of 50 years, Michelle!

I was taken to Foxton Locks for lunch at a proper old canal pub by Michelle and her lovely dad Barclay.
It bought to life wonderful memories of our childhood, cycling along the canal and catching tadpoles and newts!
Those were the days when we disappeared all day, a time when Enid Blyton was read by all, inspiring us to be adventurous.
We invented our own entertainment!
With our pic-nic packed, sun on our backs our imagination carried us from one escapade to another, before finally arriving home for tea, a bath and bed!
Our friendship has continued throughout the years, from walking to infant school we lived just doors apart.
We won joint prize for a milk project in Junior school, when Michelle encouraged me to eat fruit yoghurt, quite something as I had only tasted natural and loathed it!!!
We even created a make believe village with all the characters which years later we discovered our lovely teacher, Mr.Noble, had kept!
Our play "Ethel and Maud" was remembered by all, we sourced the costumes and wrote the script!
Two old dears slowly appearing on stage wobbling on our walking sticks!
We became members of the local Youth Theatre group, putting on plays all over the county.
Michelle dug out this old photograph taken by the local rag on carnival day with our drama teacher, Bev Willis.

From left to right..Martyn kneeling, Debbie, Julie Bev in the bowler, cameraman?, me, Michelle and Rachel with Keith behind and Val in the deck chair! 

Bev not only roused the actor within us but was a great charismatic man encouraging and believing in us.................. to this day we are still in touch!
We remember it well, a gusty day when our hand painted back drop blew down, much to our concern!

College days were spent apart as we each pursued our choice of career.
Our children were born whilst we lived in different areas of the country.
Meeting was difficult although we did manage a wonderful holiday on Barcs Arc, a fabulous narrowboat Barclay had completely rebuilt with great skill and a good deal of passion!
Awakening each morning to an enchanting haze, we shared the tranquility of gently gliding along the canal, stopping off where fancy took us or when we had to run and open the locks!
Arthur taught Lauren to fish and to all our astonishment, she literally reeled in one after another!!!
William was a baby crawling along the deck, Michelle was pregnant with Tom and the girls were old enough to be totally excited and still talk today about the experience!
Cleo, our English Pointer made the most of all the new smells and gambled alongside until all she wanted to do was sleep on deck in the sun!

Ours is the kind of wonderful, unique friendship where it never mattered if we didn't see one another for years, we always just picked up where we had left off.
Nowadays we make time every year!

        Michelle took me to Kirby Hall, this wonderful Elizabethan part ruin in Northamptonshire.

Old graffiti !

Love the old stained glass..........  and iron bars on the windows like they have in this area of Tuscany!

As you approach the Hall you cannot fail to notice the presence of hundreds of Crows nesting. Never experiencing them en masse like this before, I find their loud cawing a little sinister!

The fabulous architecture, such a perfect ruin if ever there can be combined with the statues, grounds and position makes it well worth a visit...... a truly fascinating place!

Time to drive back to Michelle's for tea!

                                                                        Where Mau came to greet us!

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