Saturday, 30 July 2016

Keep on peddling!

People deal with grief in many different ways; after Ken died in November 2014 I bought myself a bike and took up pedalling.  

Its been neatly three year and I've covered several 1000 miles: as well as round and about the Hampshire countryside I've also cycled round London through the night, all the way from London to Brighton, braved the heat cycling from the south to North Vietnam and again cycling through tropical India and Kerela. Last year I also did the LondonPrudential 100 and as with many if my rides I was raising money for charities that supported us when we needed help the most. 

Pedalling all those miles has helped. The grief doesn't go away, I don't think it ever will, but turning those pedals and being outside gave me the time and space to learn how to cope, how to reset my life and find a new way to live. 
And now I'm back riding again, but this time I'm doing the 100 just for me - no one else, just for me, just because I can. 

Wish me luck!

Latitude 2016

With wifi being so rubbish I had difficulty blogging from Latitude, so here is a quick roundup!

Cooking was a whole lot easier this year thanks to my new gas stove

and of course having a share in a breakfast chef helped too!

The new tent was also spacious 

and got into the festival spirit with added bunting!

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

A little bit of sunshine

Each morning in a tent I act like a chrysalis - as it warms up I shed my various layers! 

But it does mean I can breakfast in the sun and enjoy reading, feels quite decadent! 

Latitude Festival prides itself on being very green and Eco friendly. To do my I brought along a tray of living lettuce; it might not save the planet, but at least I won't get scurvy ;-)

Is this normal?

One of the things on my 'to do' list was to go to a music festival in a field. It's ticked off now as last year I went and worked at Latitude in Suffolk with my uni friend Judy.

 Brilliant, even the sheep got in the festival mood!

I had such an amazing time that I'm back for more this year..... Welcome to Latitude 2016!

Despite my best intentions I still ended up pitching my tent at 11.30pm. Still it wasn't raining and I had a box of wine to open! My new tent went up a treat thanks to Steph and Dan.

So this is my home from home for the next few days, what more does a girl need? Yes sunshine, but first thing a fresh brewed coffee, 

porridge and an almond croissant will do!

A lazy day chatting, reading and knitting ( I'm soooo cool!) Alison and Tom finally arrive and then time for our staff briefing in the main Arena area. 

Still being built, the torrential rain is hampering us all, but the welcome is warm and we're all full of enthusiasm so what's not to enjoy?

Even the sheep are on plan, wearing neon pink this season ;-)

Monday, 6 June 2016

The view from beyond the bridge

One of my favourite rides I call 'The Dipley Mill circular', for no other reason than it goes over the bridge at Dipley and I can pause awhile and gaze into the garden, as I did in early spring this year

But today was to be different,

because I was finally allowed to park my bike and wander in, thanks to the National Garden Scheme.

As you can see, today I wasn't alone,  in fact there was quite a crowd!

The gardens didn't disappoint,

I passed these amazing and otherworldly gunnera manicata just as I walked around the front of the house.  The leaves are still growing and by the end of the season will be so huge I could stand under them!

And finally, here is the my usual view of Dilpey Mill, from the 'other side'!

Through the bambo tunnel,

past the lush ferns, gently unrolling their fonds,

past a bed of white alliums, an all time favourite with me, as well as with the bees.

Ending up in the herb garden, laid out using petite lavender hedges and with pots and beds brimming full of fragrant herbs.  Who knew dove could have such a grand residence?

The mill wheel no longer turns, but the river still runs underneath the house!

Perhaps they rely on this fellow to keep an eye on the water level...

You are free to wander the many paths and grassy walks discovering all the different garden rooms

admire the flowers, 

envy the structures,

realise you're never too old for a swing!

and enjoy the sheer diversity of nature.

The surprising bright blue spiral staircase led up the outside of an ancient pill box to a rooftop garden.  The perfect place to watch for shooting stars at night!

Vesta's garden was serene and cool in shades of white and green

but if you wander through this gate and turn left you can be sure of a cheeky welcome from the resident alpacas!

The newly planted oriental carpet garden is tucked away behind the glass house and nearly was missed!

All too soon it was time to go as the house returned once more to a private home, but not without having a pretty cupcake and cup of tea under a shady tree.

No ride back for me today.  I had to hitch a lift home - a flat tyre and broken pump...  but it didn't spoil a very pleasant afternoon strolling through beautiful gardens in the sun.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Worth the ride

Normally I make my rides circular, so I don't see the same scene twice, but sometimes it's good to break a habit and today was one of those days.  Private gardens are opened for charity under the National Garden Scheme and this weekend Lowder Mill opened it's garden gate.  What a delight awaited those who walked through.

Baskets, urns and tubs were brimming with blooms in the peak of perfection.  See the basket of violas on the wall?

here's a closer look.  Isn't it beautiful?  Pansies and violas are such cheerful flowers, I can't help but smile when I see them.

Gardeners always like the opportunity to acquire new specimens and there was ample opportunity today.  As you can see not everyone came by bike, so they can be sure of getting their plants safely home!

I was sooooo tempted by the barrow of succulents.....

The garden was looking a picture, so I parked my bike ( I did ask first, and as you can see I did remove my shoes too!) and set off to explore.

It wasn't just succulents in wheelbarrows but more violas too.

But still my head was turned by these magnificent bronze succulents and

and this clematis is a definite winner too.

Walking round a corner and into a cool haven of ferns and

Soloman's seal, and some delicate white flowers.  Pity I don't know it's name!

More succulents on show; who would have thought to display them this way?

I can't resist a good door and this one is so beautifully staged.

See the fox gloves?  Mine aren't out yet, but I hope they'll look just as stunning when they do.


Don't throw out that old bird cage!

More lovely succulents, pity I missed photographing the hanging basket overflowing but it's something I might have a go at doing too.

I wonder if there any bronzed varieties on the sales table?

But I must leave it behind and walk around the mill pond set with the blue iris and 

cool ferns, up the steps and to the promised....

...cakes!  What a magnificent spread and having cycled all that way I think I can have a piece too!

Homemade cakes and pretty china - yum, yum, yum!

I had a huge slice of Hummingbird cake and a cup of Earl Gray, outside beside the lake,

with a posy of homegrown blooms to grace the table.

The view across the pond was a delight,

but the locals were becoming a bit insistent.

They came mob handed, looking for any crumbs that might have fallen....not a chance from my plate, it was too yummy a cake!

Cake eaten, tea drunk, time to wander and see the gardens.  So many things to delight,

who knew a mossy, old table and rusty urn could become so atmospheric, especially with the woodland chandelier hanging above.

Over a bridge,

turn to look at the pool house, there's still plenty wanting tea and cake.

Don't they realise the delights that await? Like this delicate primula

and if we step over the stream and look right

the view is calming and serene.

Dotted around are many lanterns.  It must be magical to wander through the garden when they are all light.

I could wander for longer,

and marvel at the colours.  It must take so much work to make a garden this beautiful,

I doubt there is much time to sit in this shadey spot ( just look at all those terracotta plant pots...)

but look, look at all these succulents. Oh my, what an amazing display.  I want them all!

I love the different ways they have been planted up

and the colours, Just look at the colours combinations...such perfection.

Terracota pots, old sweetie tins, metal jelly moulds, rusty biscuit tins, even an old enamel colander,

....and a wire chicken all planted with succulents.  I think I will have fun trying out some of these ideas at home.

I do have watering can envy - that's not something most people will admit to!

I was also particularly taken with this tiered stand,

in fact I love all this area

and enjoyed this small still-life too.

No opportunity for display had been overlooked

although you wouldn't be able to sit and enjoy the view of the house from here.

I didn't want to miss out the vegetable garden, with its neat raised beds of orderly vegetables,

hen house and

pails of carrots.

Such magnificent rhubarb forcing pots, *sigh*

Even the chickens live in style.

Chives are flowering,

scented stocks too.

One last planter to admire and then it was time for the gardens to close and for me to be in my way.

So many hills in one day and 57 miles peddled, but it was worth it.  If you'd like to know more about the garden then head over to Lowder Mill's web site