Friday, 23 February 2018

Holme Pierrepont Hall - snowdrops

It's my opinion that you can never have too many snowdrops, or visits to gardens full of them. While weather forecasters are talking about a return of wintry conditions, they prove that spring IS somewhere on the way. So, having visited Shipley Park last month for an early glimpse of them, we decided it was time for another outing, this time to Holme Pierrepont Hall just outside Nottingham.

I'd heard the name "Holme Pierrepont" before - it's the location of a country park and water sports centre - but the Hall itself was a happy find through social media, and another new place to add to my #60Things list. It sits alone, down a winding country road, with only a church for company, and amazingly feels a million miles from a major city!

Our plans for earlier in the day had over-run, so we were a bit worried about being too late, but the owner (I think) welcomed us and promised he wouldn't throw us out for being a little over the announced closing time. That's so nice, don't you think? So many places want everyone off the grounds on time, or even five minutes before! 

We'd been hoping the sun would appear for the afternoon, but it didn't, and although we'd have perhaps taken more time over our visit on a sunny day, it was still enjoyable and the snowdrops fab.

 The first part of the 'snowdrop trail' leads through gardens near the Hall, where other early flowering plants - hellebores, witchhazels and a few eager daffodils - are also to be found.

Then the trail took us past the church and to a two acre wood, where the snowdrops certainly claimed all the glory! All in all, a delightful find.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Making plans for summer - Curious Arts 2018

It may still be cold outside, and not at all the weather to be thinking of outdoor festivals, but over the past few weeks organisers have been starting to announce line-ups, and so the excitement is mounting. 

Now, although I'd visited both Hay and Edinburgh book festivals, I only discovered the appeal of  all inclusive, stay-onsite-in-a-tent, get up early for book events, stay up late listening to music festivals recently, when I was asked along to Curious Arts in 2016 in my book-blogging capacity. I think that till then, I'd always considered them to be only for the under-25s, and a few seasoned festival goers who remembered Glastonbury being a sole guitarist playing in a field of cows. 

Curious Arts Festival proved this idea wrong, and it's quickly become the highlight of my year. For any of you who've missed my previous write-ups (how?), it's multi-faceted music, literary, comedy festive held in the ground of Pylewell Park in the New Forest, with plenty to occupy everyone from children to oldies like me. Imagine a mix of garden party, school fair, and village fete (it even opens with a cricket match), but with attitude, cocktails, and music almost through till dawn! I absolutely love it, even if like last year it rains, and I'm delighted to have been asked back again*.

Kate Mosse

So, who's to be seen this year? 

Well, the complete line-up hasn't been announced yet, but heading the literary side of things will be Kate Mosse (author of Labyrinth, and The Taxidermist's Daughter) with 'support' from poet Lemn Sissay, Adam Kay (This is Going to Hurt), Dolly Alderton (All I Know About Love) and restaurateur, writer and broadcaster Russell Norman,

Gareth Malone

The music will be as wide-ranging as in previous years, with acts as varied as John Newman (headlining on Saturday evening), indie-rockers Outlya, and Gareth Malone (BBC2's The Choir). Even without my youngest daughter along, I'll be there in the music tent till late at night. I can't wait!

If I've managed to intrigue you, more details can be found on the Curious Arts Festival website here, on FB and Twitter @CuriousArtsFest

*yes, this is a sponsored post of sorts but I wouldn't be going if I didn't love it!

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Empty nest again

Back when she was a 'child' of 18, my youngest headed off to university, as somehow we've come to expect that our children will. It wasn't easy to see her go, but we survived.
Then at the end of her first year, despite being in the running for excellent overall results, she decided the course wasn't for her, and she'd get a job while she thought things over.
She came home, found work straight away, and we settled into a rhythm. She'd be here for most of the week but frequently away at weekends, either visiting friends in other parts of the UK or, in this last year particularly, jetting off round Europe. After my first doubts about this - particularly when she went holidaying alone in Italy - I got used to the whole idea, vicariously sharing her experiences, and collecting masses of postcards from everywhere she visited. 

All good things come to an end though, so they say, and now we're in for another big change. She's heading away for longer - taking a job at quite a distance - and I'm back to that first empty nest horror. I think her being away for a year, then coming back to stay, just made me appreciate her presence and what she brought to our small family unit more. 
This move feels more final than heading off to uni, though that doesn't really make sense. There's no reason to suppose the move is forever - who knows, in a month or a couple of years she could decide this wasn't the right job at all! - and I expect to see her as frequently as we did during her uni year, possibly even more as she has the cash for train fares, and we have the enticement of our older daughter's baby here.

To be suddenly faced with any change comes as a bit of a shock though and I think the uni years work as a sort of half-way house, giving both parents and youngsters time to become accustomed to living apart. 
However long you try to delay it, this point is going to come along. No one expects their children to stay in the family home forever, and if she'd finished her course out, now would be the time she'd be thinking of job-hunting, which would probably have taken her away from home anyway.

For now, I'm just trying to feel relieved that she didn't decide to travel the world for a year, and that the wonders of social media will allow us to still feel close.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Getting the year off to a good start

Everyone seems to be complaining about how long January has been - well, not me! I seem to have been busy all the time, and the month has flown past. What, though, have I actually achieved with all this busy-ness, how many new things have I done and how are the resolutions?

Partly I've been engrossed by my new grandson, who obviously is the best baby since my two girls were small, and the seemingly never-ending shawl which I was supposed to knit before he was born. The end is in sight, but that's the best that can be said about it.

I've made a good, if easy, start on my sixty things - cooking carbonara, eating tapas, ordering in Dominos pizza (I know! Who hasn't done that? well, me, obviously), seeing Nottingham from up high, and heading to DPP festival at Derby's Sitwell Tavern to hear new bands. My daughter claims I'm taking this too easy, but it's supposed to be a celebration, so there's no need for everything to be a hard challenge.

As for my New Year resolutions - or the continuation of the old year's -  well, I didn't feel they were going well, but then I thought ... I've certainly made time for crafting else I'd not have advanced at all with the shawl project, I've definitely been continuing my language courses (I'm going to test the Swedish progress on the new series of Modus on BBC4), and I had to undertake a small de-clutter before guests visited this week. So I've made more advancement than it originally seemed. The major thing though, organise and plan my time, hasn't been thought about at all. I need to make more effort in that department!