Sonntag, 24. November 2013

Combe with a View

Wayfarer's Walk, Berkshire
Just a ten minute's drive from Hungerford, on Walbury Hill near Combe, is the highest natural point in the South East of England. Today was cold and drizzly. I had planned to walk a bit on the Wayfarer's Walk on the ridge but the wind was so harsh that I had to find another route, tightly wrapped up in wooly hat, scarf and gloves. As the car was parked up on the ridge I had to make my way back up ... but at least I was quite warm after climbing up the hill:

Selfie with crumpled collar
50th anniversary style
I have never seen so many pheasants in my life, they seem to be everywhere this time of year. Only one of them didn't rush off in a panic ...

posing pheasant

gloriously golden larch in Combe, Berkshire
November view
almost up on the ridge

Sonntag, 10. November 2013

Border Traffic

I drove the 3 miles from Hungerford to Shalbourne today, from West Berkshire to Wiltshire. I always try to walk new circular routes and it was a bright and cold day, just perfect (apart from the seriously muddy footpaths). The light seems to be of a particular brittleness this time of year, the sky has a special transparency to it. On some of the photos I took today one can actually get a sense of it.

near Shalbourne, Wiltshire.
Cichorium intybus
There are still flowers to be found. I was amazed to find lots of chicory blossoms on my way from Shalbourne to Ham, a flower I normally associate with the height of summer. The German name for Cichorium intybus is "Wegwarte" ("guardian of the path") and it is my favourite wild flower. Now that the leaves are falling, my eyes are drawn even more to the trees. Large cedars of Lebanon fascinate me, the vivid colours of larches ...

Sonntag, 20. Oktober 2013

Come Rain or Shine

I went for a really long walk today. Sunday usually is the day I try to keep free for walks, doing all my grocery shopping on Saturday so I don't need to worry about closing times.

A few Sundays ago I walked from Hungerford to Chilton Foliat (where the BBC filmed the classic series Victorian Kitchen Garden and Victorian Flower Garden) and today I walked from Hungerford to Kintbury and back again (about 13 kilometres or more, which is pretty impressive for the likes of me).

The weather was changing constantly, some sunshine, some rain ... Autumn is arriving really fast and there are still lots of rosehips, haws and the last of the damsons around. Yesterday I went foraging for sweet chestnuts and brought home half a carrier bag! Maybe I will make some into marrons glacés ...

On my return I baked some buttermilk scones and ate them slathered in clotted cream and my homemade blackberry jam - the perfect treat and simply the best way to reward myself for my aching feet!

Love, Qaroline

suspicious sheep, near Chilton Foliat

Freeman's Marsh, Hungerford, on my way back from Chilton Foliat

on my way to Kintbury


along the Kennet and Avon Kanal

Tea time: buttermilk scones with clotted cream and homemade blackberry jam. Single tuberose in milk bottle.

Sonntag, 22. September 2013

Second Hand Rose

At the moment I find myself struggling with a rather particular conundrum: designing my very first garden. Or, to be precise - making the most of a pre-existing design.

When I took over this tiny garden it was practically empty, apart from two roses, a overgrown lawn and a few weeds. Due to the brickwalls that surround the plot, there are very few sunny spots but they create a warmish microclimate and the soil is moist and crumbly (I found lots of blue-and-white china shards and few rust-encrusted wrought-iron nails while planting).

I have planted my winter and early spring vegetables (early peas, lettuces, purple sprouting broccoli and spinach), a few winter pansies, Japanese anemones and semi-evergreen low grasses. Yesterday I put in a lot of (inexpensive) bulbs - dwarf tulips and small daffodils.

vegetable patch and dandelion paradise
My Mom's garden (which is the background of all of my OOTD posts) is sort of a cottage garden, lots of different plants, perennials, shrubs, trees, fruit and vegetables intertwined and I have always loved this. But I have known for some time that given the chance I would like to try something more formal. Or at least have more formal elements. I will need some time to figure this one out, maybe by spring I have some more ideas on how to do it.

Japanese bed - just to the right is the neighbour's massive bamboo

One of my second-hand roses [yes, Funny Girl is one of my favourite films ...] has just now come into bloom and it turned out to be - orange. Usually not my favourite colour but somehow it works quite well with the brick-and-flint walls. It smells absolutely delicious, intense and fruity, almost like peaches or apricots.

Love, Qaroline

a tiny conundrum

Sonntag, 15. September 2013

Foraging Frenzy

I have been walking a lot this weekend, foraging for flowers and fruit. This morning I woke up early, had a quick breakfast and went out blackberrying.

I remembered how my parents used to bribe me with picking blackberries or cobnuts when they had trouble persuading me to join them on a Sunday walk. Foraging for free food still is the main reason why I always try to get a sense of my surroundings. I simply have to find out where the blackberry bushes are, good mushroom spots or sweet chestnut trees.

I found lots of beautiful flowers today but as I do not have a single vase in my cupboard I took a milk bottle from the recycling box and arranged the budleija and elderberry branches, the comfrey blossoms and grass stalks in there.

milk bottle bouquet

Apart from blackberries I also found damsons, very small, prune-like, slightly bitter fruit who are quite exotic to me – I haven’t seen them anywhere in Germany. I will try to make damson cheese but my jam-making equipment is still packed away – time for more experimenting …

Love, Qaroline

damsons I brought back home wrapped in my shawl
dusk settles over the river Kennet
Hungerford Common

Samstag, 7. September 2013

Roadtrip: Hughenden Manor & West Wycombe Park

At West Wycombe Park
Two weeks ago I went on a trip to Hughenden Manor and West Wycombe Park, to see some more gardens. I always had wanted to visit West Wycombe Park, as this house features in so many films and TV series I love (like The Importance of Being Earnest or Cranford ...) and public access is restricted to three months a year. And I have recently read the mind-boggling "Matters of Fact in Jane Austen - History, Location and Celebrity" by Janine Barchas [seriously, read this book!] in which ties between the real Dashwood family of West Wycombe Park and Austen's fictitious Dashwood family are explained.

Suggestive architecture: Temple of Aphrodite at West Wycombe Park ... well, yeah.
But I loved Hughenden Manor (once belonging to Benjamin Disraeli) even more. It had a beautiful walled garden where I was given free perpetual spinach seeds [which are doing great and will be potted on shortly].

Hughenden Manor
Hughenden Manor
I hope you're doing something equally wonderful this weekend.

Love, Qaroline
Bildunterschrift hinzufügen

At West Wycombe Park

Mittwoch, 21. August 2013

Benchmarks: Snelsmore Common

I have always loved revisiting places. And like Dr Sheldon Cooper I have a soft spot for ... the right spot. I also believe that a lot of beautiful things can happen, if you allow yourself to sit still for a while.

Today I was up on Snelsmore Common, a site of special scientific interest in Berkshire. I found my favourite bench, sat down, made a few notes in the small notebook that I carry with me most of the time - and a small herd of Exmoor ponies appeared. They slowly worked their way around me, grazing, minding their own business.

As I am currently without a self timing camera, I will not be blogging about fatshion for a while. But I will revisit some of my favourite spots in the UK. Some of them I found when I was here in 2011, some of them will be totally new discoveries. Come along, Pond.


Mittwoch, 26. Juni 2013

OOTD: Sustainable Me

Dress: selfmade
I am still making dresses for a summer that hasn't really showed up yet. After one week of blistering heat it's back to woolly cardigans again, and wearing this white summer dress is an act of defiance. I have just finished it; it is made from thrifted old-fashioned duvet covers with a beautiful white-on-white in-woven leaf pattern.

Obviously I had a bit of help. Hamish insisted on taking care of the leftover fabric:

Hamish hard at work
pulling faces for the camera - glasses: eyes+more; turquoise earrings: gift
almost the same design as the ice-cream cone dress
finally, "Constance Spry" is in full bloom

Mittwoch, 12. Juni 2013

[OOTD]: Treasure Trove

I have been collecting material for quite some time now but somehow I never got around to posting any of it - so this particular post is a multipurpose one, updating my OOTDs, flower blog an craft project blog all at once!


I made this skirt a few weeks ago, using my favourite, very simple pencil skirt pattern which I have adjusted to my size. The cloth is very stiff (needs no ironing, yay!) and almost like canvas. As I love to wear stripes at the moment I thought I'd combine it with horizontal stripes in the same colour range, just for fun.

top: H&M; skirt: selfmade; shoes: my garden clogs

Roadside Bouquet

A week ago I picked the flowers for this bouquet from the roadside: gorgeous lupins [insert Monty Python joke here ...] and daisies. It didn't really last long but was quite stunning.

one day later

Treasure Trove

Looking through some of my stuff I found my tablet weaving box, full of old samples I made back in the days when I was re-enacting Viking and medieval crafts. Although only one of those samples is actually made from linen and therefore more "authentically" Viking than the others [the blue one], I loved finding them all again and will definitely need to get to grips with this craft once more.

Love, Qaroline