Just about bordering on odd, I see things through different eyes.The heading says it all - I live, I love, I craft, I am me...


Well, what's been happening?

I know I have been a little quiet on the blogging front, I promise that I am still around - it just seems that we seemed to have been somewhat busier at the moment and certain things have sort of fallen to the wayside.

However, we all took a day off yesterday, 
to breathe and walk and it felt good. 
Seems a long time that all four of us and Moss had time out together.
We did about 10 miles (13.6km) in the afternoon - suffice to say, I am tired today!
Moss who probably did double and Youngest who seemed to lollop around as much as she did,
both morphed into semi-comatose lumps last night, moving only to eat and then go to bed.

Why are we so busy?
Well, we are still working on the summerhouse studio (still makes me smile when I say that)
Not fully completed, 
we need to finish insulating the roof,
board the walls,
board out the ceiling,
lay some sort of warm but tough flooring.
But - I have lights,
it is warm already.
The windows are in - my favourite being the one we call...
'The frog pond' window - a double sized pane of glass down to floor level.
Most of the exterior has been painted, just a few bits remain - the weather kept beating us to it.
I've got back into baking bread - the boys requested cheese and basil lunch loaves,
seemed silly to deny them seeing they are building my studio for me :)
Painting stock for October is still happening
but not nearly as much as I would like,
need to 'get to it'. 
And, in the midst of all this busy-ness
a friend of mine has recently started leading guided meditation classes,
they are just what I need.
An hour and half of kind and gentle 'nothing'
where my brain tries to switch off (however, not always successfully!) 
Plans, organising and interviews with artists
for our October Art Trail are on-going.
I still waiver from uber excited to positively terrified!
But we are getting there....
the only way is forward!
I even have an 'official' event advert for my part of the Open Trail.
So you see, I've been a bit busy...

And you can always find me here,
have a happy week xxx


It's me - Moss

Hiya, it's Moss here.

I noticed there has been a distinct lack of blogginess happenings by herself so I thought I would put paw to keyboard and wuffle a story or two.

Herself does a fair bit of painting type 'stuff' and when she does, I have the essential job of lying on her feet or sleeping up against the back of her chair.

When she is not painting, she does something I used to be terrified of.... GARDENING.  I am still not too sure about certain SCARY things, but I have braved up a bit...actually quite a lot!

Once upon a time my heart would stop at the sight of welly-boots, I would quiver in fear if any spades or rakes were picked up and I would hide myself when a wheelbarrow came out to play.

Now, I am still wary but I have seemed to have grown a (slightly) thicker skin. I've had to - I go 'hard core gardening' once weekly when herself volunteers in the walled garden.
I've been three times and last week was my bestest day so far!
The sun shone on my fur and I was happy playing. 
I sunbathed on the recently mown grass,
it smelt just like hay
My fur smelt so sweet! 
Now, I strangely find weeding rather good fun.
Each time she pulls one up...it might...just...be...a...ball..
which she just might..throw...for...me
oh the anticipation
and excitement!

Oh - it was just a weed.
No wait...she's going pick up a ball!!
And if she just does not get the hint - 
I get my favourite toy and drop it at her feet when she stops for a brew 
(I usually insist on a biscuit then too!)
I have happily discovered that if I drop my ball into the water trough
I get to have a sneaky swim!
She says it is therapy 
(not sure whether I can eat that or play fetch with it)
for both of us
if we garden each week.

What ever it is -
I think I like it.

(Just hope she doesn't use the hammer 
or make a loud noise, I might have to hide)


Happy dancing promised

Been a bit busy recently - so thought I'd quickly pop in and chat for a while. Some of you may have noticed a distinct lack of 'Potager updates'. It is not because I have been lax at writing them, or that the slugs had decimated my vegetables (although they have tried their hardest to do so), nor due to the rains flattening them either (although, yes you guessed it - it has definitely tried to do so). No. Nothing like that.

No - my potager has reduced in size somewhat - I have lost nearly 3/4 of it to this........ 
This not quite complete summer house will eventually be my new studio! 
How exciting! (except I am too tired to leap about like a happy thing!) 
We have just spent two days, all four of us, building. 
There has been a few frayed moments,  a few gnashing of teeth but a lot of laughing, loads of nails and screws and tacks and glue. Oh so many planks, beams and boards. Why is it all so very heavy!?!

Have to admit that I never thought I'd see it up. The rain...... the rain - sigh.

The company that supplied the building need lessons with their customer service.
Their choice of delivery company is appalling! (it took THREE separate deliveries before it actually arrived, each one a flat packed summer house made it to the village but only the final one actually got off the truck! The first one arrived horribly damaged and I refused delivery, the second one never got to us, the delivery driver insisted he stood at our door knocking on it and we'd not answered - Eldest stood on the pavement looking out for him when we were given the half hour warning - nothing. A third summerhouse finally arrived .... then it rained for about three weeks....)
The workmanship of the building is not consistent nor was the company's quality control - Himself has had to fix lots of stupid basic errors.
Although not fully up - due to time wasted messing with windows not fitting the frames or the hinges needing to be countersunk so the doors actually fit the frame - it is up and waterproof!
I can visualise where my desk and I will be, I can visualise where my art will sit as it drys and I can visualise the layout for October when my 'studio' will be part of the open studios art trail - eek!

I'd planned to have it painted before it was assembled but we watched the weather and saw a small window this weekend - I'll have to paint it another day.  

I'll also have to make sure it is insulated for winter (brrrrrr!) so I can work out all year round. But, despite a lot still to do - I am quietly chuffed that in our garden, tucked in between the trees and usurping my vegetable garden - I have a summerhouse studio :)

Right - off for a shower and bed - I am tired and suspect I will be stiff (as a board!) tomorrow - but I will probably definitely do the happy dance (but not in the rain) in my studio!

PS - I have belatedly added the list of words for this month's Scavenger hunt to the top right of the page - enjoy! xxx


May August be filled with art - oh! Look it has already started :)

Some years ago, when I was taller than my boys, I very bravely took them off on a summer holiday leaving Himself at home working and pet watching. We went up to Dumfries and Galloway and spent a rather rainy but glorious week in a stone tower perched on a rocky coastline.
One of our days out (we managed to do many jollies in between the showers) we ended with a visit in a small cafe in the delightful artists' town of Kirkcudbright. We sat in the window seat steaming dry as we waited for our mugs of tea and lattes to arrive. The cafe walls were adorned with the work of local artists and one that I kept looking back at was a very pretty Celtic inspired tree of life. I loved the twirls and curls and the delicate colours.

As we paid for our meal and welcome hot drinks (that was a story in itself but hey ho!) at the desk my eye was caught by the sweetest little business cards ... for the same artist on the wall. So I took one.
Once home I found out that not only is she a cracking artist but she is also a blogger - so I happily became her secret stalker! So who is this artist that I was inspired by?

Ruthie Redden , who not has a blog but an official art and illustration website. So where is this all going? Well I entered her giveaway and won a pretty 'do-it-yourself' butterfly bunting kit and she kindly added two beautiful cards.

This morning, before I woke the boys, I opened my parcel and was delighted at the thoughtful presentation. I know exactly where this is going! (This too is another story in itself - but this one is still unfolding :) )
So, as much as I would like to get my coloured pencils out and be totally absorbed in the art of colouring in - I have other more pressing things to do - besides the sun is shining and I need to water the greenhouse!

Any hoo - HaPpY TuEsDaY everyone :)

PS - I've not forgotten my list of words for August's Scavenger Photo Hunt, they will appear shortly at the top right hand side of my blog soon xx


July's link up party - Mark II

With apologies, once again the link up I used previously has let me down, so here goes with a different one (fingers crossed!)

July's words and images

Firstly - welcome to my new followers, thank you for popping in to my little part of the world :)

Even this month's list had me scratching my head! They were inspired by my Eldest who chose words which have more than one meaning and in some cases several. So, here goes, here are my scavenger hunt interpretations for July...

Made some years ago, from drift wood. He sat for a long time up high (due to his delicate construction) out of the reach of cats and kids (both of which have grown older and wiser) unfortunately not out of my reach .... I broke him about eight months ago when trying to tidy up. (Moral of the story - don't dust) However, his little pieces of drift wood were saved and feature in another picture.

A monster granny circle, I really fancied a large circular crochet mat and did my usual of diving in without reading the instructions. I found that after a while the flat mat began to have first little undulations then huge waves, didn't matter how many times I frogged it and reduced the number of stitches I seemed to get a wavy edge...grrrrr. It did eventually get to be about a metre and a half across by which time I'd had enough and ripped the whole thing back and returned the large balls of carpet wool to my stash cupboard.

Remember my broken crane? Well, I made a set of wooden Santas from him last year. I think I prefer them like this :) You may even recognise one or two of the shapes in both images.

Not far from the hamlet of Langcliffe is an amazing piece of hidden history - the Hoffman Kilns. We've been a few times and each visit never fails to impress me. You can be standing outside in brilliant sunshine and as soon as you step in you are plunged into total darkness...then as your eyes adjust - you can see stripes of light. It never ceases to amaze me. Well worth a visit.

I had planned on using the bow of a boat or a bow and arrows that the boys played with as smallies but having visited Acorn Bank (NT) Penrith and seeing that the only form of decoration in the building were two portraits which didn't even belong to the house, I had use the image of a rather dour lady with in her black garb, the only colour being a small red ribbon and a bow shaped gold coloured brooch at her throat.

After winter, I yearn for any promise of spring coming and as soon as we see things like snowdrops or catkins, I feel a wave of relief. It is strange, I know the weather turns, I know winter ends and spring quietly replaces it, but I need to see physical evidence before I actually believe the seasons are turning!

I struggled here - should I do an open door? Open jar? Open sign? In then end I opted for an 'opening'. A carved hole in a stone post that would have held a pole keeping the road closed. Without that pole, the old track is now open.

Can you image sitting besides this grand fireplace? I image (looking the the seating around the back of the hearth) that the space was not a roaring inferno filling the hall with heat but rather a smaller more modest pile of embers. The residents would probably sit around the fire toasting their toes, spurning the large and cold hall for the more intimate warmth of the grand inglenook fireplace.

We don't have a park - in the traditional sense - in our village but we do have a series of open spaces. Our regular haunt is our 'rec' (recreation grounds) where Moss can play and run. It is a busy space with various events through out the year and dog walkers on a daily basis. It is a rather windy place at the top of a rounded hill with poor drainage and during the winter rains we are 'blessed' with seasonal 'lakes'. What you are looking at is Moss galloping through at full speed during last February. What you can't see is she probably has a silly grin on her face. What a nutty dog!

My own choice
When out walking, I try to capture images that are 'different' to the usual views and photographs. So when I came across this little rocking horse gently decaying forgotten in the hedge on a quiet lane alongside a field with a number of disintegrating farming implements in a state of neglect, I had to capture the image. It does make you wonder at the back story of the rocking horse... is it's owner now grown up and has no need for it, did they have with them to play on while the farmer was working in the field, has it been stashed for firewood and now lies forgotten?  Who knows.

So, there you have it, this month's words and images. I am off now to see what you lovely lot have been up to! 


Ta-da(rt) garden style :)

I don't normally dedicate a post just to my painterly activities here, I usually waffle about art and coffee on my 'by kate...kjsutcliffe artist' blog but seeing it is connected to my weekly fix of volunteering in the walled garden, I thought ...  well why not!?

The garden I volunteer in has a long history of being a quite a productive little kitchen garden in it's hey day. The house itself was built in circ.1780s with later extensions and alterations in the early and mid 1800s. The garden, although I can not find a definite date of construction, could potentially have been soon after the house.

It was designed with three definite separate but conjoining areas. The first section (a) is an open three sided large square plot where potatoes were planted and grown (in the days before understanding the importance of crop rotation).  This area now acts as a sheep shelter on rough and windy days.

(Image from internet with my extra annotations in yellow)

The middle section (b) is now the allotment style vegetable garden growing traditional crops which have to be tough to survive living and growing on this rather wild moorside hill. I have anecdotal evidence that this is the highest productive walled garden in the UK, there are others in much wilder and wetter places but at a lower altitude.

I must admit not being fired up by rows of vegetables (especially when swamped by cheerfully rampant weeds) but can see a form of functional beauty in the order (or rather the potential of order - this is still work in progress!) I do find it a rather 'sterile' art form.

I am more in to the making of compost, planting in circles, square foot gardening, three sisters planting, potager, mandala and permaculture gardening. Free flowing shapes, flowers and herbs filling a space in joyous celebration of life and growing and flowering.

The top section, also fully walled, (c), used to be a fruiting area - not specifically an orchard from what I can gather but now has a row or two of stunted oak (kept due to their rarity in the locality) a couple of young apple, a recently planted meddler and a variety of herbs in planters. And weeds.
I love this area, it has a more vibrant feel to it - it is untidy and wild and optimistic and has so much potential.  I suspect that despite this part being earmarked as a base for learning and safe play for groups - there hasn't been the woman power to do anything more than keep on top of mowing the pathways and pulling up ragwort.

Hence the link to my art - I decided to leave the weeding to the other volunteers who are 'allotmenteers' and are happy to harrow in straight rows. So, with any passing help I began to tackle the 'sensory garden' (last week I had Eldest, the head ranger and his helper, and this week I had Eldest and Moss!)

What better way than to give the space credence than to give it a physical name.
I'm no sign writer - but I think that harkens back to my aversion to straight lines!


Happy? Of course silly!

Gentle reminder (to myself as much as any) that the Photo Scavenger Hunt challenge is coming up fast and is only a little over a week away (Am I the only one still not sorted??)

1. Crane
2. Ring
3. Set
4. Light
5. Bow
6. Spring
7. Open
8. Grand
9. Park
10. My own choice

A photograph inspired by a word,
words inspired by the photograph.
Remember to think laterally and interpret at YOU fancy,
be it a current photo or one from your archives! Enjoy :)

If you want to join in, please do - we'd love you too :) details HERE.  I promise promise promise knitting news next time, I have been a little busy but I do want to share my shawl with you - coz I love it and I hope you will too!


Monday wool-gathering

I am sitting waiting for images to down load, I thought I would pop in and say hi and see how your weekend went. Was it good? I hope so.

We were up early today, Youngest is off on a four day expedition on his DofE Gold and had to be at school and on the mini-bus for 7.30am.   He doesn't do early at the best of times ......

I could barely lift his rucksack once he'd packed it and right up to the last minute he kept adding 'essentials'... his phone, his charger, his charging cable, pack of cards, speaker for the phone (you get my drift?) I suspect he may have taken a little more than he will need ....  :)

So fingers crossed for good weather, although the BBC weather reporter cheerfully announced that Wednesday was going to be a day of thunderstorms followed by rows of organised rain.... huh? Now everything has been made waterproof or encased in some form of plastic/waterproofing spray - I suspect when I collect him on Thursday he may be a little damp, a little bit sweaty and very tired.

Ok..... It's a Monday. As usual the weekend has evaporated, not really sure what we did. I know it was a lot of 'bitta'. A bit of this and a bit of that. Bitta-weeding, bitta-gardening, bitta-baking, bitta-knitting. Talking of knitting, my second shawl is now complete and has been worn with great success. So, give me a bitta-time and I'll write down the 'recipe' for you :)

I'll also get Eldest to take some photos of it to show you how it sits on me :) In the meantime you can have this as a sneak preview.
See that colour change?
Well, that was down to simple chance that I had three different yarns all with some degree of compatible variegation. The russet and brown shades happily melded into the green and brown twist which equally happily flowed into the greens - how good it feels to have stash busting power!!

Ok, best stop waffling - have yourselves a lovely Monday afternoon - hope the sun is shining where you are!


End of the week wafflings

This week, in a quietly-busy-sort-of-way, has just flown by. I have either been gardening, painting, knitting, painting, gardening, knitting, painting and gardening. Other things have occurred, such as sleeping, eating, cooking and knitting, gardening and painting.
On Wednesday I think I managed to fit all activities in one day!
Eldest and I were almost overwhelmed by weeds working in the walled garden for the day,
so for a bit of light relief  away from the weeds, Eldest rediscovered mowed foot paths
 through the wilderness sensory garden.
I chose to empty a compost bin in preference to hoeing the vigorous little blighters 
growing rampantly between the vegetables.
I was pleasantly surprised and definitely pleased 
that the compost was turning into a rather delicious chocolately brown crumbly cake, 
it didn't seem so long ago that we built them :)
We did punctuate garden bashing with tea drinking
and, surprise surprise,
knitting...(Well, I was knitting, Eldest and Moss did not!)
See that glorious green flush?
Despite my anti-weeds mutterings, it was fun, 
we had a National Trust ranger and another volunteer with us for most of the day 
so the banter and chuckles kept us going!

Did I mention painting?
After a number of commissions (still have some waiting)
I decided to treat myself and paint something I wanted...
a hare of course :)


from little acorns ....

Last year Eldest, prior to going to university, started volunteering with the National Trust. I would drive him up to Malham Tarn Estate and walk the dog for 8 hours (after which, we would both be shattered) then collect him - he would also be tired, filthy but happy.
He very 'kindly' put my name forward to the rangers when it seemed they needed some help in the walled garden.  He said.... My mum is 'a bit of a gardener' ... thanks son.  Any hoo, to cut a long story short, I have been volunteering in the walled garden since July last year. Apart from the genuine fact it is hard work - I love it.
Last week, as a thank you, the rangers took a minibus-load of volunteers off to Acorn Bank for the day. What a treat!
We were lucky enough to be taken on a tour of the house with plenty of stories of the occupants and owners. It was interesting to hear how a house can morph into what is required of it, from humble beginnings of a Knights Templar pilgrim retreat to a tenancy farm, from being requisitioned during the war for railway managers, to being a home for a wealthy socialite then a home for elderly women. Now, as shell needing lots of tender loving care (and an open wallet) the house is still impressive.
The gardens however more than make up for the house. It has an amazing herb garden with the largest selection of culinary and medical herbs of any of the National Trust properties. Eldest and I lingered here the longest and returned several times during the day.
We wandered through the orchards and vegetable gardens. We took so many photographs!
 Having torn ourselves away the herb garden (again) we went down into the 'Well Garden' 
which houses in it's centre, a circular formal pond full of water lilies.... 
and we discovered something amazing.
It was fascinating watching the dragonfly stretch out it's legs one by one. 
The wings, which had been crinkled and pressed against it's body, slowly flattened out and took shape.
All around the pond were empty nymph cases and in the water - 
small crested newtlets (my name for them) pootling around.
If I mentioned that I took 199 photographs during our jolly out - would you be surprised? There were so many lovely corners and delights as we walked around that it was hard not to become snap happy!

And, I may have even partaken in a little knitting too! Yes it is another shawl like my last one, except this time I am writing down the pattern and doing a bit of a test run. So fingers crossed I can share it soon :)
So - was it a good day? 
It certainly was :)

Thank you National Trust x