grey skies and frothy blossoms

cherry blossom and grey skies

There’s been a such a change in the weather here, finally the cherry trees around here are in full blossom and looking so beautiful……most are in people’s gardens but there’s a handful that are growing in the green spaces that the village where I live is full of…tucked away from cars and traffic so it’s always nice to pick headgerow fruit and forage here without worrying about stepping off any sloping verge into the road.

Last week when I was walking back from the shops I kept wanting to look up, it was hard not to notice the huge grey clouds up in the sky, such a contrast to the soft white petals of the cherry blossom…..I wasn’t home long before the heaven’s opened and the rain/hail started……

a sky of blossom

I love seeing the glimpses of blue sky and billowy clouds up through the cherry branches and the froth of white petals.  I always think there’s something quite cheerleader like when the cherry trees are in full blossom, all pompoms and “Spring is here, Rah Rah Rah”…..

milky white blossoms

Up close the blossoms are so pretty, delicate milk white petals with golden yellow stamens and apple green centres….they must be full of pollen as the trees almost vibrate with the sound of bees gently buzzing from branch tip to branch tip.

And while I love each of the seasons in their own way, the cherry trees seem to be celebrating spring with an abundance of blossoms which fill the air with a sweet scent making a trip outside a treat for eyes and nose alike that…..

forget-me-nots

In our garden everything is waking up, our raised beds and path edges need some serious weeding but for now we’re happy to give over some garden to these pretty forget-me-nots…as the sunshine has been a bit slow arriving the tiny flowers are a much more intense blue than is usual.

The forget-me-nots were one of the first wild flowers I think I knew the name of, they’re very distinct looking and I think the name makes them easy to remember……because other insects like to visit them, along with the bees, then we often notice the birds having a poke about, investigating around the plants, finding food and tiny six legged snacks.

cowslip

Earlier in the year we moved a couple of our apple trees, they weren’t getting enough sun where they were and both now seem to be responding to the move very well….sprouting soft pink buds and blossoms, and giving something for the blue tits to sit on while they queue to use the feeders (they seem to wait for the great tits but anything else that is at the feederes they just fly down and shove out of the way…even the robin which is normally a feisty little chap gets chirped at nd told to move on)…during the apple tree move the cowslips must have been disturbed as there’s been no sign of them this year, but then when I began lifting the leaves of the wild strawberries I found these ones…..and since I took this photo I’ve found another one so fingers crossed next year we’ll have our yellow carpet again……

The yellow is such a soft shade, brighter than a primrose and nowhere near as intense as gorse or broom…the yellow is quite similar in hue to powdery catkins….I’ve always liked the name of them.

jack in the hedge

Something that does grow most unwanted in the garden is this jack in the hedge…it’s super stinky like wild garlic, and you can eat the young leaves…but I don’t like garlic to eat or to smell so it’s not coming into our kitchen…..it’s quite an invasive plant and you need to pull it up as soon as you see it as if not it’ll take over the garden in no time at all…because it’s been so wet some of the garden has been a bit forgotten about so I’ve spent a couple of days going round whipping these out…they do lift out quite easily, but the air around where they’ve been growing is still pungent with garlic aromas for some time afterwards…..And while I’ll happily admit they do look pretty, and have inspired me with numerous little florl embroideries, those tiny white petals combined with the yellowish green un-opened buds are so dainty, they’re not something I let grow in the garden for long.

Being outside when it’s Spring time and sunny feels such a treat after too many wet and windy afternoons cooped up indoors, when front gardens and hedgerows both are bursting with daubs of colour, sitting on the back door step keeping quiet with a lap full of  knitting and a cup of tea, Bernard sprawled out alongside my feet, birds are busy everywhere, scurrying and skittering around under the shrubs, feeding youngesters or still nest building and pulling at the fleece I’ve put out for them….the sound of them all singing lifts my heart as well as any piece of music by Bach, even the magpies raspily squawking at each other in the huge Sycamore tree that overlooks part of our garden…it’s hard not to be out of doors for 5 minutes this time of year without wanting to smile.

Blousey blossoms, silver sage lichens and a nature’s shades fungi…..

blossom by the train track

I’d fully intended to share the last of the pictures from our walk up to Keswick Mill the other week somewhat sooner but then with one thing and another, writing about knitting the second Moonaker shawl and making custard based puddings it completely slipped my mind….but better late than never……

I’m very lucky where I live, there’s a bus stop right outside the house, many’s the time I’ve quickly darted back inside to change my coat or add a warmer scarf depending on the weather while waiting for the bus to take me into town if I’m too lazy too walk in, and then not even 5 minutes leisurely stroll in the other direction are the meadows and marshes that make my heart fair sing each time I walk across them…..on slightly higher ground runs the train track, and from time to time you can hear the odd rumble of the trains as they hurtle along….last year we had a real treat as a steam train was on the line, at the time I was doing my Jenny Agutter impression of waving at the train for my boyfriend (and yes, I resisted the urge to show any petticoat) so to see a steam train  suddenly come chugging away from behind the hedgerow with a whoo whoo whistle of steam was very exciting.

There’s more than one walk over the meadows and one such way leads along the back of a local golf club, hazel and blackthorn hedges line both sides of the path that runs almost parallel for a time with the train track. Right now the blossoms there are so blousey and meringue like….frothy white bunches bursting with lime green pollen tipped filaments .

hedgerow of lichen

Further up across the meadows, a bit away from the trains are a couple of pasture fields edged with a hedgerow of hawthorn, come Autumn these are a foragers heaven but for now they’re a bit sparce….though at first glance I thought something was up with the blossom but it was only when we got closer that I could see what I’d mistaken for very early Spring blooms was in fact a mass of silver lichen….most of the hawthorn trees and hedges on the marshes are home to patches of sagey silver lichen of some sort but these ones are almost covered with it…..

lichen in Spring sunshine

In the sunshine the bare branches twinkle and I’ve made a note to try and remember to head up this way come Winter as lichen on a frosty morning is stunning.

silver lichen

Lichen seems to particularly like growing on hawthorn, and it really did look very pretty.  I love that sagey silver colour and it made me think of some of the natural un-dyed sheep wool I have on shade cards where the greys are very silvery.  I’m also thinking how interesting this would be to use for a stranded colourwork source…….

fungi growng near the golf course

On the way back we noticed this amazing fungi, I’m not quite sure how we missed it before but then sometimes I tend to only look in one direction as I walk, noticing one side on the way out and then the other as we head back homewards…..

The fungi spiraled all the way up the fence post and so I suspect something in the hedge had become a bit unruly for the golf club and so it’s been trimmed back rather and now serves as part of the fencing.

golf club fungi

Looking at those circles and bands of brown and grey I couldn’t not but be reminded of some of the gorgeous shawls on the recent KnitBritish/BritYarn kal …..beautiful soft shades of fawn, moorit, chestnut…teemed up with shaela,sholmit…gentle scalloped edges…..the fungi looked so strokable and velvety, like a beautiful Paul Poiret opera cape.

Keswick Mill and a bridge full of texture and inspirational hues…..

part of Keswick Mill

What a change in the weather….after a week that’s seen some very welcome Spring sunshine and blue skies today I’ve woken up to a right wet and dreary, very overcast morning, all dark grey clouds and a cold bitter rain……so some reminiscing about last weekend seems to be more than a little welcome….

On Sunday we decided to head outdoors quite early for a weekend walk as the sun was right out and after being photographed in my shawl (and having to strip off somewhat as it was a whole lot warmer out than I’d been expecting thinking) we decided to walk up to Keswick Mill (you miss out the “w” and pronounce it Kez-ick)….you can often see the mill in some of my pictures when I’m traipsing about on the marshes.  It’s really nice and quiet along here and it used to be one of our favourite walks but then it just got too doo-pooey so we’ve not actually been up this way for well over a year now.

From time to time there’s the rumble of the train as the track runs out from Norwich station over the marsh and common land, but for the most part it’s peaceful, with just the sound of bird song.

view across the weir

Last time we headed out here the fields were all full of horses but not a one was to be seen today, so no ear scritching and muzzle rubbing today.

This is a lovely view across the river to the dovecote.  A few Winter’s ago the ice and snow really piled up around the sides of the river , stupidly I didn’t always bring a camera out with me but it looked amazing……the river is pretty fast flowing (originally the mill was a water mill) and the bridge I’m standing on to take these pictures is very low to the water, the bridge has at least 3 arches underneath and I guess there must be some sort of weir for the water to rush in through so quickly…it’s a bit noisy but lovely to stand and listen to.

Those of you with keen eyes may spot what looks like a couple of sheep grazing in the pasture behind the out-building, these aren’t real sheep but rather “folly” sheep, garden ornaments that had me fooled.

across from Keswick Mill

This is a closer picture of the old dovecote, the building underneath was originally a cattle shed though I’m thinking it’s now all spruced up inside….how amazing would it be to have this as a studio!

I’ve not been up here for really ages so I’m not sure what it was like when the marshes flooded last year, I’m suspecting the water must have rose a fair bit.

I love the colour of the brickwork in the building and looking of it am reminded so much of Felix Ford’s lovely pictures of the colourwork in the house where she lives and which she used to knit her Crofthoose hat.  Check out her blog for a lovely interview with Ella Gordon.

mill bridge lichen

I love the old bridge that goes over the river, it’s a really beautiful pinkish, warm brown coloured brick, with flecks of green moss and mustard lichens on the side and then these rose petal pink lichens on top….though they look a bit white in the pictures.

It’s quite exhilarating to lean over the side a little and look down, the sound of the water rushing beneath you, you can really feel the power that would once have been harnessed to mill grain.

pink lichens

I couldn’t stop touching the stone, it’s so worn that in places it’s almost smooth, but then there are weathered rough spots amidst the texture of moss and lichen…it feels wonderful, and combined with all the different hues and shades…it’s hard to stand here and not feel all inspired.

I’m not there yet with my knitting but the clogs are turning with ideas to combine some of these beautiful shades with some of those wave like ripples of the river.

river fish

The water wheels of the Mill are long since gone but if you’re at all interested this is a link to a page detailing the history of the Mill.

We’d already noticed at how clear the water looked, no murky depths of bubbling algae and such, walking back there’s a smaller little bridge, my boyfriend looked down as something caught his attention in the water…….and there in the stream were 3 fish.  The biggest one was getting on for 2 foot long, and the smaller ones were nearly a foot and a half….I have no idea what sort of fish they were but it felt quite exciting to see “wild” fish in our river….I knew there must be fish about as the other year I saw an otter swimming about not all that far away and friends have told me they’ve seen a otter up in the river at the UEA.

The fish were just letting the slight current of this side stream off the the river gently move them along, the occasional flick of their tails and bodies, but they weren’t moving fast and seemed to enjoy the sunlight that was dancing over the water above them.

At the start of the year I mentioned Keswick mill and was contacted by a lady who’d seen the blog and remembered living there in the early ninties as a student…so Good Morning Karen, this post is really for you.

 

*In case you don’t know, Felix is also Knitsonik, and a couple of years ago she wrote a truly inspirational and amazing book about stranded colour knitting which I bought because I really like her method of being colour inspired by everyday items or views or buildings….I think Felix talks about her lovely red brick house in the KnitBritish post Edinburgh Yarn Festival podcast where Felix and Louise Scollay are chatting about how amazing the festival was…sadly I wasn’t able to go to the festival but a listen to Louise and Felix natter away over toast and tea was a second best.

A wee sprig of blue, baking bread, ladybirds and the shawl thief strikes again…..

this weeks sourdough loaf

It’s been lovely and Spring sun-shiny here today,  at times there was a little bit of overcast and cloud but for the most part it’s been just glorious….I’m still feeling an hour behind myself with the clock change last weekend but hopefully this next week will see me perk up a bit more….this morning though I felt too tired to get up and so lolled in bed with Bernard using my hand as a public resting post…he likes it if I wrap my fingers behind his ears and scritch, as I get a bit drowsy my fingers slowly stop and then he soon perks up and pokes me in the nose with a fat paw to make me wake up and continue my scritchy scritchy.

I made sourdough bread on Thursday and it’s come out a fair bit smaller than normal, the beloved said it tastes fine and not to stress.  One of the things I like about baking bread at home is how no two loaves ever seem to come out quite the same but when a loaf comes out not up to scratch (in my opinion) I get a bit sulky. Not sure why this one didn’t bloom as well as the ones I’ve been making, I forgot to let the sponge bubble away over night like I’ve been doing so suspect this may be the reason.

first of the forget me nots

Earlier I had a bit of a nose around the garden as it was so smashing outside today and was so happy to find the first of  this year’s forget-me-nots…. and once I spotted this wee sprig I became aware of other tiny smudges of blue dotted around in sunny spots.

ladybird ladybird

And it wasn’t just forget-me-nots I started noticing, there were also a fair few ladybirds scurrying around or basking in the sunshine like this one….I love ladybirds, they always make me think of Summer, and on a day that’s warm and really rather splendid, then thinking of Summer doesn’t feel too daft….and hearing an ice-cream van just down the road really created the right mood (though we didn’t pop out for a Choc Ice …..I always used to like the slice of ice-cream wedged in between two wafers).

hiding amongst the strawberries

I also spotted this one hiding up in one of the wild strawberry plants , scuttling about under dry leaves it seemed very busy though I’m not too sure what it was up to.

wild strawberries

Some of the wild strawberries are already i blossom, dainty milky white blossoms with such a bright yellow centre…these ones were being visited most of the morning by some really fat bees….we’ve noticed a lot of bees around here this year, proper fat bumbles that are nearly as large as my thumb……just up the road there’s a house with a little tree in the garden that’s had the sweetest grey catkins, so soft and downy just like kitten paws…they’ve become so powdery and fuzzy the last week or so, and yesterday I stood and watched at least a dozen bees rolling around and tumbling over the the blossoming catkins…covered in the prettiest powdery yellow pollen.

The other leaves along the bottom edge are cowslips, I first grew these some years ago and bought the seeds from some old plants with me when I moved…we’ve (well he’s) dug up and moved two of the apple trees so theses should get a bit more light this year…the apple trees weren’t doing so well where they were so we’re (he’s) just deciding where is the best spot to position them)…..I like pottering and doing as I’m told in the garden but he’s the ones with the green fingers.

Bernard and his new shawl

I’ve finally finished my Nature’s Shades Moonraker shawl, I’m so pleased with it, it’s incredibly soft and drapey, and much warmer than I thought it was going to be.  I’ve washed it in some Eucalan and have blocked it pretty hard to get it to form a nice triangle. I ended up using a couple of hefty old metal yard sticks to make a solid long straight line between the shawl tips so I could pull the knitting out accurately, and 3 boxes of knit pro blocking pins.

It’s now dry and I was hoping so much to get out and persuade the boyfriend to take some snaps of me in it while the weather was so good however “someone” has been sprawling out on it for most of the day (there’s been more than a little bit of paddy paws plucky plucky going on so I’m going to have to wriggle and pull in a couple of the stitches to bring them back into shape.   He got really grouchy with me when I tried to move him off and that tail was flicking like nobody’s business so I felt it safer to just let him be rather than risk anymore damage by him holding on tightly as I lifted him up.

The mid-brown Blue Faced Leicester that I’ve used for the main body of the shawl is so similar in colour to how Bernard looks…it’s much more of a grey than brown but when it’s sunny those brown hues really do shine.  I’ve loved doing this kal, and the other finished knits over on Brit Yarns Ravelry page are just stunning.  I’m not normally one for naturals, greys and browns but I really like the different shades of cream and milk combined with the darker shades of charcoal and smokey grey.  I’d certainly consider using these beautiful un-dyed shades again, maybe in a cardigan or a tank top to wear with something really bright.

Kettle caterwauling and frosty sweetpeas……

frosty patches in the garden

Last week when I woke up early Monday morning there was that odd eerie light when you know there’s fog or snow outside…I opened the curtains so slowly with my eyes squeezed shut and hoped…please please please….and all my wishes were granted.  During the night we’d had a soft fall of snow, nothing crazy that would upset the traffic or be a hazard, just enough to made my heart skip and paint the garden and neighbours rooftops white…..

I quickly bundled myself up in fat cardigans and my yellow shawl (it’s never very far away, being worn in bed as I read before lights out, and wrapped round me while I wait for the heating to come on in the morning) and stepped out into the garden….snow light is the weirdest, early monings look more like twilight, it’s very jarring to the senses and I feel like I’m the only one in the world awake….I made sure the feeders were all topped up with food, brushed snow off the bird bath and broke the ice that was underneath before quickly hurrying back indoors as I heard the kettle start to whistle (it’s getting on a bit now so it’s once tuneful song has now become a right old caterwaul.)

frosty sweet peas

Once I’ve had a hot drink and feel a bit more wakey, and have put a decent amount of clothes on I venture out again, I love poking about in the garden, seeing what the frost has done to any plants that are still lingering on from before Christmas such as the little pots of sweet peas on the potting up table……an old champagne box which we use to grow salads has become home to a whole load of weeds which look beautiful, gorgeous greens and a burgundy claret…not a combination I’d think to put together but which looks stunning this snowy morning.

frosty greens

Most of our Winter greens didn’t do so well, you may recall me saying in the Autumn how the kittens next door had played havoc with a lot of the vegetables, even though we staked out plants and put up lots of little fences so it was like Fort Knox or Colditz in the raised beds, they still wriggled under, tearing the fleece which was protecting the greens…..and then the pigeons swooped in…so we’ve had some cavalo nero but the broccoli has all been eaten.  The best broccoli we’ve grown was some I’d bought as seedlings from an old boy at a car boot, the plants were pence each and grew huge, the broccoli kept us going for 3 or 4 months and was so abundant, finally they flowered and became a tad stinky but the butterlies and bees really flocked around their tiny yellow blossoms.

a snowy house for birds

Just round the corner from where we live is a patch of green which is home to some pretty little crab apple trees which I’ve shared pictures of before.  I’m not sure when this bird house went up but I’ve really only now noticed it being here…it looked so pretty amongst the snow and I thought it was like a wee house you read about in a fairy tale…..I half expected someone tiny to peep their head out with arms crossed or wings all a flutter and ask me what I was about….

lichen roves and mossy green

Up close the apple trees are all lichen covered, roves and scabbiness….which feel wonderful to touch though my mittens were off for only the briefest of moments…too cold today for bare hands.

snow is melting before the morning is over

I love the mix of textures and colours, sage and silvers, deep mistletoe and bright green with all the sparling white of the snow….melting almost in front of my eyes….it felt so bitter cold but it was still too mild for the snow to stay around.

Today though the weather couldn’t be more different, we’ve walked down to the shop and I didn’t even need to wear a coat (though I had my shawl cuddled around my shoulders…it felt lovely not being all bundled up in big mittens and Winter coats, patches of green all blooming with smudges of primrse pastels, crocus, snowdrop speckles all snow white fresh, the brightest yellow and egg yolk orange daffodills…the air smelling so fresh and clean and the sunshine so full of Springtime promises.

 

 

A foggy old frost and a hedgehog tree……

faint shapes through the fog

This past week has seen a bit of a shift in weather here, a couple of mornings we’ve woken up to quite a heavy frost, when the curtains are pulled back and I see the rooftops opposite sparkling white my heart begins to race before I realise with a sigh it’s just a frost rather than snow…..but at this time of year a good frost means I can at least traipse out over the marshes, the spongy boggy meadows are walkable when it’s so cold….the dead grasses and bronzey coloured remains of Summer are all transformed…..

River reeds become so golden hued, and where if there was just a slight breeze they’d all be moving, rustling in the air, a frost silences them, from time to time they quiver as a willow tit briefly perches before flying off…..

fallen and mossy

The marshes themselves are a stone’s throw away, not even 5 minutes walk away, and separating them from our house is a litttel lane…this used to be a real road before planning and bypasses and such mean it was all closed off to any through traffic, the busiest it seems now is the odd cyclist and dog walker.

One side of the lane is all cutlivated, clipped grass and the sound of “four” as it’s the local golf course…however the side I love is all tangled and wild, fallen trees coated with the brightest green moss, home to Jays and squirrels….dark shiny ivy drapes itself around old trees and frame beautiful views that speak of mystery and remind me of old folk tales and fairy stories…..

foggy view through the gate

Normally you’d be able to see right across here, a beautiful meadow which is a real treat in Summer, full of meadowsweet and tufted vetch, patches of fragile torn wisps of ragged robin and meadow buttercups waist high……today it’s hard to see much further than a few foggy feet out over the pasture…..I can hear someone calling their dog but even the sound of that is muffled, distant.  The fog acts as a buffer to what I can hear as well as what I’m seeing.

frosted cow parsley

The verges of the path are all quite sorry looking and most forlorn, the last memories of Summer loom through the mist, angelica and hogweed seem ghosts of their former selves when they’re topped with clouds of white blossoms…..most of the seeds in their crowns have been eaten by tiny tits that fly up and down the lane.

 

golden reeds

It’s been quite wet here this Winter and this is the highest I’ve seen the water in the ditch for a long time, normally it just looks muddy but there’s a good few feet of water in there….I’ve never tried clambering across here as I’m not sure how solid it all is and quite what is in the undergrowth, it looked proper bleak when I took the photos and it felt very strange to have such a limited view through the reeds.

 

misty and cold

Trees which look so beautiful when they are all leafy and green startle me as I look across at their bare tops and finger stretching branches….the small tree to the right side makes me think of Hans my Hedgehog, part man part snuffling hedgehog…..perhaps this is a tree version…all bent over with his spindly spikey back…..

 

tree monster through the fog

I nearly didn’t see this fellow…a distant motionless “treebeard” with his arms outstretched to balance himself like Frankenstein’s Monster…..it’s easy to let my imagination run away with me…..

 

view over the marshes

It’s so cold out, even all bundled up in my shawl and wearing fat Norwegian mittens…..it’s un-protected parts like my legs that really feel the cold air….the marshes are always lots colder, the frosts are always more intense and with such a fog the cold feels like a real presence…..it’s one of the foggiest mornings I’ve known while I’ve lived here.

It’s not a quiet walk by any means, the air is filled with the sound of birds chirping, and calling, the tits are all in the blackthorn hedges which are now nearly all in blossom, mostly it’s little blue tits and willow tits, they don’t stay long enough for me to take their picture and I try not to disturb them while they’re busy finding food, and there’s that squeeky tsk tsk tutting chirp of long tailed tits, tiny pink grey and black pom poms of feathery fluff with those long tails……elsewhere on the verge edges are robins and blackbirds, turning over frosty leaves and weeds looking for something wriggly and soft……somewhere in the distant I can hear a woodpecker…the sound always echos off and it’s even more impossible to work out where it is when it’s so foggy….a couple of Jays swoop over and call,  with that all the tits fly up together, huddled together as one.

 

 

finding gold on a Winter morning…

bracken by the golf course

As I mentioned yesterday, if I’ve had a walk out over the marsh I often turn down a little path that runs behind the back of a local golf course….a skinny copse of trees edges the green and for the most part it’s allowed to run wild….there’s been a lot of “conservation” work going on over the marshes and nearby Denby wood of late and personally I think it’s all been done a bit heavy handed, but trees and undergrowth seem to be allowed to just do their own thing here……….

There’s small pockets where frosty fingers haven’t reached and this tends to be full of birds, busy turning over leaves, rooting around for insects, grubs, anything wriggly to eat…..I’m ignored by most of them though one Robin flys over to where I’m watching them with his head cocked, this way, that way…. then when he realizes I don’t have anything with me he gives me a quick chirrup of song before he flies back to the other birds.  Everytime I try and take pictures of the wild birds here I end up not apppreciating what I’m actually seeing… (also my pictures come out looking dreadful, all blurred and too distanty*)

glowing bracken

But what I can share is how beautiful the braken was that morning….all golden and warm toned with the sunlight shining on it….all those delicate fronds , repeating away into nothing…..I love bracken, from when it first appears and is so bright and granny smith coloured, all curled in on itself and then slowly opening up to reveal the deepest Christmas tree green…..in part it brings back happy memories of playing on the common near where I grew up, running around half wild as the bracken would tickle my legs, making dens and head quarters as we played war games…..or deer watching with my mum and dad where we’d get up really early, drive out to pockets of woodland near to where we lived and then quietly walk and watch the deer, as the mist over the fields cleared the stag and does would head back into the woodland and the cover of trees……

golden amidst the frsot

So all those memories flood back back I walk through here…..I love the shape the bracken forms and that brown is so gleaming, all shades of precious metal, and almost amber coloured in parts….. (as soon as I got home a big tin of embroidery threads was emptied as I tried to capture those fragile frosty fronds in silk and stitches…..)

frozen gorse

There’s also gorse on the marshes, all prickles and mustardy blossoms…..it looked so breathtaking with it’s sparkling frosty shimmer….parts of the gorse were almost sagey green and teal in colour.

golden gorse blossom in the frost

When it’s Summer and the blossoms are warm I like to carefully pick some and eat them, all velvety and swtet, they almost melt away on my tongue….apparently you can make a nice wine from their blossoms but I’m thinking you’d need to pick quite a lot and to have hardy old finger tips.

In warmer months the gorse is so full of fat bees, softly buzzing and tumbling over the blossom, it’s quite eerie to see it so bare of insect life.

mustard coloured lichens

A patch of lichen catches my eye….it’s such a bright vomity mustard, a real contrast to the muted frosty colours everywhere else….it’s all mouldy and scabby looking but such a fierce strong colour.  I feel like I’ve found the pot of gold at the end of rainbow…….a golden treasure near the end of my walk.

teal coloured lichen

There’s actually lots of lichen growing in this section of the marsh, mostly it’s that glorious, heart uplifting gold that does you the world of good to see, but there are softer shades as well, this delicate teal, all trembly and barely there like gold leaf flakes that have just been finger pressed down….the copse and undergrowth are so quiet to explore when it’s cold….(no shouts of “four” from the golf course as I think it’s a bit early and too nippy) and is so rich in colour, shape and texture.  I never fail to go home all inspired with new ideas and colour combinations.

* if you’d like to see some truly beautiful photographs of wild birds then head over to Jeni Reid’s Instagram page…..I first saw her work on Wovember but love her photographs of birds in her garden

a frost kissed morning and the finest lace knitting…..

hawthorn tree on a frosty morning

As I mentioned yesterday, we’ve had a few damp and most dreary of days, when it’s all wet out it’s a bit limiting on our walks as they mostly involve heading out over pastures and meadows and going over marsh land…..but when there’s been a good old frost like we woke up to Thursday then I can head out and trapse along the hedgerows, often feeling like I’ve been transported to another world or time……the distant rumbling of trains soon becomes part and parcel of any background noise……

If you were reading my blog last Summer you may remember some pictures I posted of lush meadows filled with wild flowers, looking like something from a 1970’s flake advert……this is the same meadow in the Winter.  In the middle there is a small cluster of hawthorn trees and when the cows are out they tend to gather here…perhaps they all get together to have a right gossip….a few last berries remain on the trees, all shriveled and frozen.

hawthorn against the morning sky

The witchy finger twists of the hawthorn totally fascinate me, it’s not something I take a lot of notice of once they are covered in new leaves and little red berries but come Autumn with blustery winds then they become one of my favourite trees……the gnarly little branches and twig tips are covered in lichens, tiny peeps of gold and mustard almost look too bright against the greys and muted colours of a Winter’s morning.

 

frozen brambles

Under the hawthron there are a few brambles, I don’t normally pick many fruit from this bush as they tend to be a bit small and it’s really prickly, but it looks beautiful this morning, those prickly stems are all covered in fine frosty crystals which sparkle in the sunlight…..in warmer months there are usually no end of little birds here, a banditry of tit-mice live close by and you can hear them squeekily chiruping…not today, they’ve headed off to any gardens that are close by in search of fat balls and treats*.

angelica and frost kissed sorrel

Around the edges of the meadow are the remains of last years sorrel and angelica….the shapes they form are really striking and and are inspirring me with a new series of botanical embroideries….

sorrel all frost kissed

That gorgeous deep rusty red all hidden under the frost…..I love the nubblieness of the sorrel seeds but they look even more beautiful with their dusting of white…..

frozen yarrow and moss

Crouching down low to the ground I can see small patches of moss and yarrow….it’s like a miniature world down here…the yarrow seems more like fluffy bracken fronds and are so clearly defined….

the finest lace knitting

Over the marshes and then along the back of the golf course….there’s a small copse which seems to offer a little shelter from the cold morning, and I’m aware of all the birds pecking about, poking under the dry leaves, and there’s a couple of squirrels which are scampering about, turning up littel piles of mulch….not sure if they’ve forgotten where they’ve burried their larder…they look quite indignant to see me and stop and watch as I walk past.

I nearly missed this cobweb, so carefully spun and looking like the finest spun piece of lace knitting…….

*not connected with my walk but I’ve just ordered some special peanut butter from Wiggly Wormers for the the birds in our garden…..they’re a brilliant company to buy from if you live in the uk as their bird food is grown here.  They often have really good offers and are the best place I think to buy live food for birds….if you’ve not tried live food before then it’s amazing, the birds love it and one little robin sat just inches away from my finger when I used to fill our feeder last year.

A fine and frosty morning…..

A frosty Thursday mornin'

While the past couple of days have been somewhat damp and dreary, when I woke early on Thursday the light seemed so odd that at first I thought we’d had snow (we get so little of it here in Norfolk that it still makes me get all excited and happy), in fact it was a heavy frost and it’d quite transformed the way everywhere outside looked…..

As soon as my boyfriend had gone off to work I bundled up and headed out to the shops but as it was such a beautiful morning I figured the marshes would be walkable so I took the scenic route…..

Within minutes my nose felt numb and it felt like it was starting to run, the skin around my eyes was all tingly because of the crisp air….I hadn’t realised it was quite this cold and was glad I’d really wrapped up warm (I ended up wearing what I now think of the cat blanket but which is in fact a nice shawl from a posh boutique that used to be in Norwich so I wasn’t going to win any style prizes for dress but hoped I’d stay warm)…..

 

just after nine in the morning over the marshes

Normally in the winter this way is really boggy, and the year before last it flooded, so all this was under water, it looked beautiful with swans and moor hens swimming very close by to where I’d sat that day…….it’s so open here and so very very beautiful….

The air is just filled with an orchestra of bird song, they’re all out in force, hungry for food…and I’m glad I made sure to fill all our feeders before I stepped out.

looking across to Keswick mill

For a good couple of weeks last year this way wasn’t really walk-able, you could get part way but then it was just too wet underfoot where the water has risen….. but today while it’s still cold and frozen underfoot I thought I’d risk it, see how it is and if it’s too wet I can always turn back.

I always love this view, Keswick MIll is just in the distance.  It looks so bleak here in the colder months but when there’s been a frost it looks so otherworldly, all fey and mystery.

The light is really grey and eeie and I was hoping hoping hoping with fingers crossed inside my mitten that it would snow later on (it didn’t).

frosty view over the marshes

The only other sound apart from the bird song is the rumble of the trains as they hurtle along in the distance….

I bought a pair of boots by Sorel some years ago and they are brilliant for wearing when the weather isn’t great, they keep my feet warm and dry, they also lace on which means if I step in a wet muddy bit they don’t slip off like wellies….

the morning starts to wake

It looks so different here in the Summer, pastures all full of colourful wild flowers, blue catseye speedwell, and stitchwort which looks like tiny white stars, wild chamomile…tiny tufts of ragged robin.

marsh grass and frozen puddles

I love the look of the marsh grass when it’s frosty, the spikey clumps look just like they do on maps to show that land is marshy……it’s such the best map illustration/marker. Sometimes when I’m here I half expect to see a Marshwiggle all set up with his tent……

But the marsh grass also hides a secret, it tends to grow up where it’s particularly boggy, and while it’s fine to walk across here in the summer when it’s been good and dry, when it’s wet or wintery you’re more like to sink into the mud ….

frozen puddles

A little further in and you get an idea of how treacherous this area of the marshes can be, I think the frost helps to pin point the really wet bits so they are easier to avoid….

the cow tracks to the gate are all frozen over

The cows were quite late off the marshes this year and where they’ve kicked up and trodden is still very noticeable….the tracks are all muddy and that’s frozen across good and proper. This always makes me think of big pieces of bark, if you’ve ever seen old Yew trees their bark looks just like this, all layers and soft curved edges…..

Ooh but it was cold though, even with fat mittens from Norway on and wrapped up in “the cat blanket” I began to right feel the pip…..it’s hard to walk fast across here as the ground is boggy underneath the frost so you have to step carefully…..once I’d crossed the meadow though I was able to walk a bit faster through the copse behind the golf course, and by the time I got to the shops I was all rosy cheeked and pink nosed…..