Saturday, 31 March 2012

feeling blue

narcissi bloom bright...
feeling under the weather
cornflower tea helps

Friday, 16 March 2012

baby boots

I don't think I will ever truly be able to follow a crochet pattern from start to finish...After numerous attempts at various patterns, I finally found one that I mostly followed to make Baby Naidu some tiny booties.

The pattern came from Sharon Watterson at Knit 'n' Scribble, I hope she doesn't mind me sharing the link to the pdf with you here. I can strongly recommend it and she actually offers patterns for a number of booties here, including one from my new favourite crafting blog Purl Bee.

The pattern is pretty easy to follow and I even discovered a new stitch which I adore. It's called a front or back post double crochet and here's a video showing how to do it here:

Wednesday, 14 March 2012


It's so lovely when you hear of someone you know spending some time in a place you're fond of. After hearing that Carla from Polka Dot Lighthouse is spending some time in Zuerich for a project, it prompted me to revisit some of the pictures I took when I was working in the area a few years ago.

A strange nostalgia flooded back. I had been insanely lonely during that time, but also incredibly content. I had a lot of time to think. I enjoyed a stillness that I've never experienced since. The 20 minute walk to work was a dream; ambling through the village in the delirious heat of a continental summer morning; deep breaths of fresh mountain air; a thousand new things to observe.

My memory of Switzerland is a jumble of senses; it's the smell of Ovomaltine and warm Zopf; it's the taste of strong coffee taken with mini toblerones in the office each morning; it's the bright red of flags and window boxes; it's the dark green of the mountains; and it's the delicate sound of cowbells all day long in the fields nearby.

Here are some snaps; the view from the office window, and fireworks at the Seenachtsfest in Rapperswil-Jona in August.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Grandpa Gordon the Scientist

My sister found this amazing photo of my Grandpa Gordon posing alongside some hybrid sweetcorn in Merton in the 60's.

Although he died when my dad was young, Grandpa was very much a part of our childhood through the stories dad would tell us.

As a horticultural scientist, he spent his career researching plant genetics and I maintain the romantic notion that he'd be horrified with the reputation the genetics industry has today. The industry is vital in securing the food security of future peoples; discovering ways of improving yield, adding vitamins to staple crops and creating food varieties able to adapt to unpredictable changes in climate. But scaremongering in the media coupled with the exploitation of genetic science by large corporations as they strive to increase margins, has led to a substantial fear of the genetic modification of crops.

James, Sarah and I all enjoy gardening, but none of us really inherited Grandpa's green fingers.

My approach to gardening mostly takes the form of ramshackle experiments and letting nature find it's own solutions rather than the controlled experiments that the scientists at John Innes must've done. I'm really interested in the principles of permaculture and in particular, companion planting. I love helping the garden to create its own optimal ways of thriving, planting wildflowers next to vegetables, which attracts insects to increase pollination, using marigolds and onions to mitigate against slug damage, increasing the parsnip yield by planting them next to carrots. I'm an advocate of creating a garden as biodiverse as possible.

Many tips and tricks come from folklore and other allotment holders, and this year I'm planning to follow the "Three sisters" approach followed by Native Americans. Sweetcorn is planted in a square formation to allow wind pollination, beans grow upwards, using the sweetcorn as a support and feeding nitrogen to the soil, then squash is grown in between to shade the ground, preventing weeds and creating a natural mulch for the whole area. I am looking forward to seeing how this works, though I'm also mentally prepared in the event that a wet and rainy summer scuppers my plans.

Last year a friend of mine suggested that I follow the lunar cycle when planting my allotment, tying in my planting times to the waxing and waning phases of the moon. There's no way I would ever be organised enough to do this, but I liked the idea of it, until I found this little story by my Grandpa, denouncing this theory as complete piffle.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Spring flowers

On Saturday I stopped by the Garden Centre to pick up a few seeds for the allotment, and as usual, came away with an assortment of half dead plants that I was determined to rescue.

So far this year, my window boxes have held just a few lonely daffodils and a couple of crocuses, so I repotted and rejigged the bulbs, sprinkled a few seeds in amongst the plants and voila!

I'll post some more pics once some of the other flowers start growing.

Chatouille wasn't much help!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Everyone's a winner!

Hello everyone, I hope you've all had a nice weekend.

Thanks so much to everyone who entered the marigold giveaway, I always feel very drawn to flowers at this time of year so was very glad you all got into the swing of things and shared some of your favourite flowers. Here are the things that you recommended:

Carla and Olga at Polka Dot Lighthouse love the handmade fabric Ranunculus over at Wedding Bee.

Emma must love this time of year, she's been busy crocheting some favourite daffodils which you can buy from her etsy shop.
Debbie shared a selection of her own crochet flowers

Carla recommended a crochet expert that I've been following for a while too, Attic 24 always has a beautiful, bright crochet project on the go.

and Calendula Grower on twitter loved the Rainbow birthday cupcakes at Twig and Toadstool.

Thank you so much for sharing these fantastic images. I've spent the weekend potting flowers so will have some pictures of my own to show you later this week.
So now to the moment you've all been waiting for...

There were 5 of you that contributed to the giveaway and 3 of you got a bonus entry for following me on google.

So that means that everyone gets a prize! The winner of the goodies is Polka Dot Lighthouse and everyone else gets a packet of seeds! Sow them in a sunny spot outdoors towards the end of this month or you can start them off inside and plant out mid to end of April.

Please all email me your addresses to and I shall pop your prizes in the post within the week!

Thank you all so much for taking part!