Birds & Bees

We like to encourage small birds into our garden, but are not so keen on the larger ones, who need no encouragement. We live close to the sea, so seagulls are regular visitors, as are crows and wood pigeons.

At the other end of the size scale we have dunnocks and sparrows, coal tits and blue tits, all of whom fly in and out to eat seeds from our bird feeder, and at times we’ve even seen an occasional goldfinch. In the winter we have robins, too, wary with their wonderful red breasts.

But the real characters when it comes to the garden birds are the starlings and the blackbirds. The starlings with their speckled backs and their funny little calls seem to travel around in groups like attention-seeking teenagers, jumpy and agitated and strutting their stuff with attitude, as if they own the place.

My favourites are without doubt the blackbirds, they always seem so friendly as they watch us as we’re gardening, getting surprisingly close as they wait patiently for worms and other delicacies disturbed by our endeavours. Sometimes when I’m sitting quiet and still on the bench they’ll hop about happily by my feet, and I love to hear their song, clear and melodic…

Oh, and of course we have bee-friendly plants growing in the garden so there are always bees buzzing around happily, and butterflies too πŸ™‚

Weekly Prompts: Birds & Bees

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Busy In the Garden

With the nicer weather at last I’ve been busy out in the garden lately, and it feels long overdue! We seem to have had such a lot of rain this spring, so everything is growing beautifully, including the weeds.

Of course with my arthritic hip, ‘busy’ these days means doing a bit, having a rest, doing a bit of something else, having a rest, then stopping when I’ve done enough…

I’ve had to learn to over-ride my stubborn tendency to keep pushing myself to do a bit more, just to get something finished – I find I usually pay the price the following day when my hip joint seizes up in pain, so little and often seems to be the best way forward for me.

And at least my garden bench is earning its keep, and it feels good to enjoy just sitting in the garden, contemplating how lucky I am to have such a lovely outdoor space to spend time in πŸ™‚

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Starts with Over

Weekly Prompt: Busy

The Full Picture

Fresh dewy fields, green and bucolic
Where new-born spring lambs sweetly frolic
Yet this pastoral view
Ends with tasty lamb stew
Or a roast dinner, how melancholic…

NB I was born into and grew up in a rural community where planned life and planned death are simply part of the natural cycle of farming animals for food. So I do see cute little baby lambs to ooh and aah over, but I also see a viable business in progress, and have no problem holding both views in my mind simultaneously… πŸ™‚

Weekly Prompt: Frolic

In My Garden at Easter

It was so nice to be able to spend some time in the garden over Easter – it stayed reasonably dry and sunny for most of the time, although a chill wind was blowing and I needed to stay wrapped up to keep warm.

But I sat on the garden bench in the spring sunshine and enjoyed a lovely, lingering cup of tea in the crisp fresh air, surveying the splash of colour from the daffodils, hyacinths, primroses, and the honesty starting to flower. The tulips heads are all in bud, but none have burst free yet. Green shoots are coming up everywhere – I noticed the Solomon’s Seal, the hostas, the peonies and the lupins are all busy building foliage for flowering later in the year.

My garden is definitely more of a free-flowing cottage-garden style than regimented borders of bedding, but it really suits me to be this way and I love it so very much… πŸ™‚

Flower of the Day

Weekly Prompt: Gardens

Mind the Gap

Before moving back to Inverness in the North of Scotland almost four years ago, I lived in London for almost two decades.

We moved in 2019 from a cramped one bed first floor flat with no garden and a front door that opened directly onto the pavement, to a three bed detached bungalow set in its own garden front and back. The gap between living that lifestyle and this feels huge. I really love having so much space around me – in our home, in our garden, within our town or easily-accessible countryside. Even the sky feels more vast living here.

As an introvert I sometimes found London an overwhelming place to live – exciting, yes, but it was a bit too full-on for me a lot of the time, especially on public transport commuting to and from work during rush-hour. Even at home it could feel a bit claustrophobic at times, so I would often spend time outside just wandering and exploring different areas of the city.

I always managed to find the quieter spaces and places to go to seek temporary refuge from the crowds – old churches and churchyards, public parks, canal paths, precious breathing spaces – small oases of calm in what could be a stifling, suffocating city.

And I took loads of photographs everywhere I went, as if obscured behind my camera I could feel somehow distanced from it all – seeing the bustling urban world through the camera lens I became more of an observer rather than a fully-fledged participant? For me it was a kind of creative coping mechanism, I suppose…

But now we are here, living an altogether slower pace of life that feels far more in keeping with us growing old together, safe in our own space. That was then and this is now, an ever-widening gap stretching out between past memory and present experience, and I honestly have no regrets at all… πŸ™‚

Weekly Prompts: Gap

Abstract Acrylic Pour

It may just be me being a bit pedantic but I’m not sure that I’d class pouring as painting so I’m not including it in my A-Z Challenge posts. However, looking at painting tutorials online it seems to be a popular creative skill using acrylic paints so I thought I’d give it a try to see how I got on. And here is my one-and-only attempt at an abstract acrylic pour!

I used only three basic colours, ultramarine blue, lemon yellow, and permanent rose, and layered them together in a cup (using cheap PVA glue as a pouring medium) before turning it over on the canvas and letting it do its own thing, followed by a little tilting from me this way and that to help it stretch and warp the way I found most pleasing.

I used these particular colours because I have some larger tubes of cheap paints I bought to try out which are really not the greatest quality so I was happy enough to experiment with them here. Of course as ever the paints have all dried a lot darker, and disappointingly the final dried surface isn’t nearly as smooth and glossy as it looks here. I should probably have added some white as well to lighten it all up but I didn’t want to waste any of my decent white paint as I use a lot of it in my paintings.

And to be honest I was probably right to make that decision, because even making allowances for the overly dark and brooding choice of colours it all feels a bit too abstract and alien for me as a creative process so even though I wouldn’t class the experiment as a complete failure, I probably won’t be exploring the joys of acrylic pouring again, it’s just not for me…

But at least I’ve tried it! πŸ™‚

Stream of Consciousness Saturday: Antic

Weekly Prompt: Tricolour

Sitting On the Train

Sometimes being on a regular long-distance train journey feels a bit like being stuck in a moving waiting room, as you basically sit in one place waiting patiently while you travel from A to B… This is our East Coast train travelling from Inverness to London last October, a total journey of eight hours πŸ™‚

Weekly Prompt: Wait

Impasto Sunset in Acrylics

When I saw today’s Ragtag Daily Prompt was Sunset I thought about trying to paint a bright, colourful, impressionistic sunset to see how I got on – I’m still working out how best to use a palette knife to create the impasto texture I want with my acrylic paints so I figured it’s good to get the practice in, because I definitely need it.

Although I do find it quite absorbing to coax the textured lines and curves to appear more pleasingly on this 10×12 inch canvas board, the technique is all still very new to me and my inexperience shows. I have no clue how to make the reflections on the water look like reflections on water rather than just blobs of paint on a blue base! It’s been fun, though, something a bit different to try.

I realised a bit late on that I should maybe have started with the sun right down on the horizon with the other colours radiating out above it, but it’s done now, oops! Oh well, there’s always next time… πŸ™‚

Ragtag Daily Prompt: Sunset

Word of the Day: Working

Fandango’s One Word Challenge: Absorb