Friday, 22 February 2013

Day 53 - a wee problem to solve but the prize is chocolate!

Friday 22nd February

I have had such a lovely day today and even the Co-op experience was fine. There must be something in the air. Let me tell you what I would like to be in the air.....positivity.  I am fed up with doom and gloom.  I visited James of Arran chocolate shop today to get you guys a lovely box of their chocolates for my give away (more later) and got into a lovely conversation with Cath who manages the shop.  We quickly agreed that it is time for some positivity around the island.  Local press does not always paint the best picture of the island and the feedback on my blog is the complete opposite.  On the drive home I made a personal pledge to try and have as many conversations with islanders about businesses and places that they are impressed with.  No place for doom and gloom in those conversations and I hope to be able to share some of them with you.  As a community we get a lot right and it is high time we shared that with the world.  End of sermon!

A cold but dry day greeted us this morning but sadly lacking in frost so I couldn't go walk about with my camera to capture some frozen spider webs.  No matter, I took the dogs up the track to collect firewood and on the way down it occured to me that I do not, as yet, have many photos of Hazelbank on my blog.  I love Hazelbank, not just because it is my home.  It has a calmness about it and I think this comes from the trees.  We have lots and lots of trees on the smallholding and when the breeze blows they whisper to us.  Their gentle rustling is very captivating.

 My new studio is cradled by trees and I just wanted to share.

I love the way the studio has already started to blend into its environment and with spring growth around the corner I sense a place of great peace.  I love my family dearly but I have wanted a space where I can be truly alone for a long while.

We have 10 acres on Hazelbank but activity focuses around our growing tunnel. 

This is where you will find me a lot of the time and this is one of the places I am happiest.  The joy of growing was passed down from my mother and I have passed it onto my children.  I love this time of year because the new growth is so small and fragile and it is my job to help it establish itself.  My favourite growth at the moment is from mint cuttings that Max took last year.  Simply cut off small, but healthy stems and place in a jam jar of water and place on your windowsill.  Over the next few weeks you will be rewarded with roots and you can then plant them into pots with compost.  Max's cuttings are shining the brightest in the tunnel at the moment. 

Our vegetable and herb gardens are close to the main house because we don't want to tramp over muddy fields to harvest.  Plant to plate is less then 20 metres and that is just how we like it.  The exception to this is the pea crop because Pete eats those before they reach the plate.  Beyond the new willow plot are two large fields.  Our fostered alpacas will take up some of this space but the rest is space to extend the willow ventures as required. 

We do have lovely views from Hazelbank and it is important to have your 'stop and stare' moments.  Our next project is to clear an area that has become a bit of a dump zone.  I am not sure how that happened but it so needs clearing.  Not least because it is the area that has been reserved for the new chickens.  Pete will build them a lovely warm house with laying boxes but the first job is to clear the space and repair the fences.  Ducks lived here once upon a time but not it is the new chicken home.  That is because I stole the chicken house and made it into a studio!

It might not have been shining on Hazelbank today because the sun refused to shine but I did see new growth as the dafodils are preparing to flower.

For me yellow is the colour of spring and this little patch is right next to my studio.  Lovely! 

Now to the all important give away that I promised last week.  I have the most gorgeous box of chocolates from James of Arran chocolate shop to give away to the first person that tells me the answer to the following -

What am I?

Fiona is completely obsessed with me and I am always a feature in her garden.  She takes good care of me by laying a straw bed under me to keep me from going soggy.  I am less impressed by her plans this year though as I understand she wants to slice me up and dry me out slowly in a low oven.  If I burn I will not be best pleased.

If you know the answer write it in the comments box below and the first person to get it right will receive a box of chocolates, assuming I haven't eaten them on the way to the post office. 

It is Friday and my favourite day of the week.  I do hope you all have a lovely weekend and that we all see some sunshine.  Concluding my first round of guest bloggers tomorrow is the wonderful Assja.  I have known her for years and her creativity knows no bounds.  When I say all Arran women are fabulous I do mean it and Assja may be the most fabulous of us all.  Look out on my With Love from Arran facebook page for the first Mother's Day gallery offering some of the very best gifts from the island.  With a good wind behind me it should be up this weekend.  Lots to do, always lots to do.

Until tomorrow. xx

Picture was taken yesterday as I approached the beach.  Love the contrast between the yellow and blue. xx