Friday, 25 July 2014

Summer - week 1

Week one of the summer has flown by. What glorious weather we are having - has anyone said it is too hot yet? Not me, even during the hot sticky nights I refuse to say it, better hot that wet.
Last week hasn't been about doing anything exciting, it has been about relaxing and getting my balance back. Oh how that word keeps coming up this year! There have been afternoon sleeps, reading and plain sitting this week. Just to be able to sit and think, put things into perspective is so wonderful.
 I have also been imposing some order onto the house. I know that some people will think I am mad spending my first week cleaning but I can't tell you how great I feel when I am sitting in a clean room. It is part of being balanced for me, the process of cleaning brings with it peace. I use products that smell lovely as well as do the job and with Radio 4 on in the background I happily wipe, scrub and tidy. *
There has also been time with my family, meals outside, salad picked from the garden and time to plan and create. Perhaps more of that another day...

This week there is packing and journeying on the menu - there is a pint of Guinness  with my name on it!

*Please don't be fooled - this desire to clean will go away and the house will return to its usual chaos very soon. I have a very on-off relationship with housework - we fall out quite quickly!

The Graduate

Monday was such a special day for us - we watched Erin graduate from university. It was such a beautiful day. There was lots of ceremony (in Latin) and bowing and then with a quick robe change she was officially a graduate! 

Bowing and doffing, bowing and doffing. Then exiting newly gowned.

Always at times like these (when they leave primary, when they start secondary school and then GCSEs, then A level) you feel that this is a stage and that your children are on the edge of something. I have written about this before and recently but it is strong in my head at the minute. I am so excited for Erin and the life she has ahead. I feel blessed to have been part of the making of her. Not the messy part though, that bit can belong to some one else...
Back at her college we posed for photos with friends, as a family and then had an excellent lunch with too much wine. All the while the sun shone and as the graduates said their farewells there was such a sense that these were her lifelong friends and although this was the end of something it was also the beginning of something wonderful.

July Mantel

There is quite a different look to my mantel this month. Gone is the usual picture - I really fancied a change. My head is in Ireland as we plan our holiday this year. We love to go to West Cork and so the map went up in order that that we could look at our destination and get more excited as departure day draws near. The sea's call is getting stronger and so in my landlocked county we arrange shells and dream...

Dream of days wandering the lanes of Baltimore (the first Baltimore) and think of the pirates that once roamed there. We dream of island picnics and pints in pubs warmed by a peat fire and we dream of sound sleep brought on by days outside feeling wild and free. It is a beautiful dream.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Favourite Foodies

Given that one of my real loves is cooking, I can't work out why I rarely write about food here. Recently I have been looking at more and more food blogs and getting so much inspiration from them. These are three of my current favourites:
Farmette -  American by birth she was a city girl and then she fell for a handsome Irish farmer and now lives on a farm in rural Ireland. She will pubish her first cookery book this autumn.

I first discovered Local Milk via Pinterest. I became curious about this Beth Kirby who pinned such inspirational photography. A hop over to her blog and I was hooked. She has a slow living philosophy and her photos look like renaissance paintings. Oh and the food is gorgeous.

The Bojon Gourmet - Alanna Taylor-Tobin trained as a pastry chef. A spate of unemployment (Bojon is no job backwards) caused her to turn to blogging. her site is full of beautiful recipes, the tart in the pictures above is based on her recipe for Apricot Custard Pie with Cardamom Crumble Crust.. 
We have no need to be gluten free so I altered the crust, using wheat flour and substituted peaches for apricots. The crust was wonderful and this is a recipe I will revisit more than once.

Do you have some favourite food blogs?

Friday, 18 July 2014

Here Comes Summer

Wow what a couple of weeks it has been! As is usual the end of term has been manic and so I have been very quiet here. I miss this space so much when I can't make it. 
But now a few weeks of summer stretch out before me. One of the things that I really appreciate about my job is the summer; I know how very lucky that makes me, and it  sees me through the hard work. Some things have fallen by the wayside recently - bread making I am looking at you, and reading, These are real pleasures that I really want to reconnect with. 
The other things on the list are the usual summer pleasures. The stuff of future memories; camp fires on the beach of an island; time to gaze at the stars; meals shared with family and friends, all of these will be things to store for the cold days of winter.
Summer - my time to rest and rebalance - how I love thee.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

In my garden.

I am loving my garden at the minute, it really is a wonderful place to sit at the end of a busy day. There is something so relaxing about being outside and feeling the ground beneath my feet, touching the earth. It is the pottering about, checking out the flowers that allows me to leave the stresses of the day behind and reconnects me with the beauty of life.

Monday, 30 June 2014

June Mantle

June already - and the end of June at that. The year is going so fast. June is the month of two of my favourite flowers, roses and peonies. My instgram feed has been packed with these flowers recently.  The mantle has been a source of joy this month - so much pretty!

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Summer Lovin' - Strawberries

One of the rituals of summer is to go to Clive's Fruit Farm and pick strawberries and raspberries. We go to this beautiful farm about once a month and for me it is a place that helps me mark the seasons because we pick fruit from June to October moving from strawberries to apples and pears.
One of the things we try to do as a family is eat seasonally and to know where our food comes from. I like Finn to pick food from plants, to feed the very cute pigs that will one day be his bacon - I want him to understand that the food is not something that just comes in a plastic container. For me understanding this is an extension of this wonderful movement.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Bringing Erin Home

The first time I brought Erin home she was so tiny. Both Mark and I were filed with a love disproportionate to her size and I knew then that I had done something wonderful; that she was wonderful and that it was my duty, my pleasure and my honour to encourage and watch her grow into the best person she could possibly be. I was also clueless, scared but packed full of hope.
This weekend I brought Erin home once more. After three wonderful years she has finished university and at the end of this week she turns 21. My baby is a woman. And what a woman. She is so clever and she has honoured her intelligence with hard work and nourished it with reading and thought. She is also beautiful, generous of spirit and very, very funny. Her life is packed with friendships and plans. On Wednesday she is off to Glastonbury where she will celebrate her birthday. After that she is going to America to take up a scholarship that will allow her to explore how jazz rhythm has affected modern poetry (sic) and when she returns in September she is moving to Oxford to take up a job. We are so proud of her. Mark and I have done a good job; we have done exactly what we set out to do - we have raised a great adult. She is her own person and it is right that she is ready to leave. My head is happy but oh my heart...

Sunday, 22 June 2014


What a beautiful solstice weekend we are having in the uk. As if to honour the occasion the light has been golden. Somehow it fills me with a sense of peace. How I love this time of year and even though it officially marks the mid point for me there is the sense that this is the start of summer and the endless possibilities that stretch out ahead. 
In the Cunningham house there was a simple meal of fish served with tapenade, potatoes and salad on Friday night; made even tastier by the company of friends and a fair amount of wine quaffing. Yesterday was spent completing domestic chores and a walk across the common to the pub before retreating home for dinner. Today I have a drive through the most beautiful countryside to collect my girl for the very last time. Time indeed flies...

The photo is one I posted on Instagram yesterday. Light was in my head all day and I loved the way it caught the wood on the table and shone through the petals.