The Power Of The Pen

So.. what do you do on a cold, wet and very grey May Bank Holiday Sunday? My own answer to that question is: I catch up with my correspondence. No, not work related messages.  I mean writing letters and emails to friends and family just for the pure fun of keeping in touch and sharing what is going on in my life; my thoughts… feelings… opinions.

These days I have to confess that I often give way to the 21st Century disease of impatience and write emails, Read More

A Question of Honour

Fern Unfurling
Fern unfurling into new life

We have had an unprecedentedly long winter which has over-lapped with much of our spring. Such is the way of the natural world that, once given the chance, everything has speeded up, almost like an old silent movie. Except that the natural world is rarely silent! We have families of house sparrows, starlings and jackdaws nesting in our eves and old chimneys – I feel like I am living in an avian nursery!

But I digress. As the month of March came to a close and April began we celebrated Easter. My garden and the surrounding fields, woods and mountains still looked to be in the depths of winter. By the middle of April, crocus and daffodils were beginning to burst forth into an extravaganza of spring colour and the race was suddenly on to catch up with the season. The wonderfully warm, sunny Bank Holiday Read More

Random Acts of Jungle Warfare

When I refer to doing some gardening, I do not always mean those genteel activities such as sitting sowing seeds into trays of aromatic compost, planting seedlings out into sun-warmed earth or gracefully wielding a hoe while sporting the latest in sun hats and nattily coloured canvas gloves. Sometimes – and especially if land has recently been as neglected as mine has – it requires a considerably larger amount of oomph to even locate said garden, let alone begin any cultivation of it

Today I sallied forth into my overgrown plot, initially to cut back a short length of ancient privet hedge which periodically tries to take over the world and has to be spoken to severely. But then I realised Read More

An Apple a Day…

Autumn Apples
Looking back to last autumn

At long last, yesterday spring truly arrived! Or perhaps, as it was so very warm and sunny with clear blue skies, one could almost attribute it as being the first day of summer and simply skip the spring altogether as Nature herself seems to have done this year!

As often happens, I found myself spending at least part of the afternoon in my kitchen, preparing the evening meal and using up the very last of the autumn apples which have been stored in the garage over the winter. For nearly seven months they have kept us supplied with golden apple pies, spicy apple cakes, creamy Chesham tarts, fragrant baked apples, apple dumplings, sweet apple sauce to accompany savoury foods and a host of other treats such as apple chutney and apple and bramble preserve.

As the pan of pale apple pieces slowly heated on the aga, Read More

Everything In Its Season…

Damson blossom
Damson blossom in warm sunshine

At last, spring has finally arrived! Another sunny morning here in the mountains of Snowdonia – although the nights are still pretty chilly – down to three degrees here last night and I am hoping that the little lettuce seedlings which I planted out a couple of days ago are coping.

It feels as if this winter has gone on for ever! Nature has been struggling with herself as seasonal blooms and blossoms have been cruelly siered by bitter gales, buried beneath inches of soft but deceptively deadly snow or simply frozen rigid by hard frosts. My heart bled to see the little snowdrops stiff as boards; and my crocus (usually in bloom in February) only finally opened their buds last week, while the daffodils began to fully unfurl their golden trumpets a couple of days ago. Unfortunately this is all a bit late for the Easter weekend which, of course, has already been and gone! But everything in its season – even if that season is somewhat delayed!

The thing about the natural world is that it simply can’t be hurried. It will do everything at its own pace and, no matter how delayed, will always eventually get there in the end. Nature never rushes. It never grabs at life – even though it will always make the absolute most of its opportunities. Unlike humanity which hurtles along its increasingly volatile and toxic path. We all tend to do it. Easter is a case in point. Read More

Earth Hour

Candle BurningThis evening we are due to celebrate a very special occasion and something that is always popular in our family… ‘Earth Hour’. This is the time when we all gather round, light the candles and little oil lamps, and switch everything that is powered by electric off – the whole house, off grid. This includes freezers, fridges, stand-bys, mobile phones the lot!

Year by year, Earth Hour becomes better known and more widely supported. It began in Sydney, Australia, back in 2007 and brings hundreds of millions of people together from all around the world in a global demonstration of awareness, care and concern for the future of our planet. Last year, over nine million people in the U.K. took part. There are many people who are deeply concerned about climate change, but more often than not we tend to feel isolated and impotent against big business and government.  Earth Hour demonstrates the impact we can achieve together – something as simple as turning off your lights. We can ALL do that!

In one sense it can be seen as a mass protest, but it has grown to such an extent that the people who participate in it can no longer be viewed as merely whacky odd-balls; their voice is now too loud and large to be brushed to one side and ignored.

The beauty about Earth Hour though is that it is so simple to take part in, is peaceful,  and is also great fun. Some people organise parties or other community activities; most simply make it a family occasion. Over the years I have heard numerous accounts of families where the younger generation have vociferously resisted being separated from their various technological devices for a whole, unbearable sixty minutes and who have glared in utter indignation and horror as the candles have been lit, the bowls of snacks appeared and board games have been taken from the cupboard and set up on the table. I have also heard of the similarly numerous times when, at the end of that hour, those same youngsters have protested just as loudly when the lights have gone back on again, and elected to carry on in the more gentle, intimate glow with their games and chatter, very reluctant to loose the wonderful feeling of warmth, intimacy and security which coming together in this way invariably  brings.

Of course, there are lots of other things that you may prefer to choose to occupy yourself with; singing, making music, story-telling, jokes, riddles, discussion and debate, an individual or communal craft project (as long as you have enough light to see what you are doing and without straining your eyes!) How about getting your community together and everyone knitting or crotcheting a woollen square and sewing it into an Earth Hour Blanket? What would you like to do for a whole hour free from technology and interruption?

In this age of such endless opportunities for individual and mass communication, we so rarely reach out and come together face to face, breath in the same air, sit in the same space and actually listen to what each other is saying. Earth Hour is a brilliant opportunity to do all those things… and more.

We have noticed that once the electrical currents fizzing through the very fabric of our homes has been temporarily eliminated, a totally different kind of darkness and quality of shade and shadow pervades our living spaces; everything seems much stiller and a deeper silence fills the rooms. It is extremely relaxing. I well remember my frail, elderly, rarely-,lucid father who was suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, spending most of his time sitting slumped in his chair, but as soon as the electricity all went off, he astonished us by beginning to perfectly coherently chat and reminisce.

Living flames produce an amazing amount of heat – even tiny candle flames… whether they be tapers, tee lights or oil lamps. they engender literal and metaphorical warmth. They also shrink space to the much smaller area which their little flames are capable of illuminating, encouraging us to move in closer to each other and look more intently at each other’s faces. Their light is softer and easier on tired eyes. Their wavering, graceful flames can have a hypnotic effect. (A candle flame can be extremely good to meditate on.)

From the Sydney Opera House to the Eiffel Tower to Buckingham Palace to Edinburgh Castle, the lights will have recently been put out, or will be going out. As 8.30,pm. approaches, where will you be, what will you be doing? Want to join the rest of us? All it takes is a few little clicks….


Greetings For International Women’s Day!

March Snow
thick snow this morning… and then the sun came out!

Welcome to the new incarnation of my ‘Merry Midwinter’ blog! Here at ‘Simply Seasonal’ I shall be covering the other three seasons as the spring unfolds and the new growing season begins to burst into life.

However, winter obviously hasn’t finished with us yet! This morning I awoke to find that, once again, snow had fallen in the night and was still dropping thick and fast… those tiny fine flakes which pile up and drift to such an amazingly devastating affect! In fact this has been the deepest snowfall that we have had all winter; bushes thickly coated to resemble groups of elemental yeti, branches bent low to the ground under the colossal weight of frozen water, sugar icing crystals spread thickly across the fields and the mountains completely obliterated by ice and cloud in turn. Read More