Seasonally inspired things to Make, Learn & Do.

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A walk by Loch Lomond

loch lomond

I grew up by the sea - in a coastal village in East Lothian. It wasn't a proper sea really, more a tidal river, Fife is visible just across the water, but it was the seaside and I spent a lot of my childhood paddling and ambling along the sand, beach combing, bird watching, building castles.

Even now - if I want to clear my head, I head for tidal waters, to watch the waves, calming myself in their rhythm. Most holidays are taken by the sea, it is a recuperation, an energising, a cleansing.

My phone is full of video clips of lapping waves, saved for times when I just need to even out my brain.

And yet, when we came to choose somewhere to settle, we were both drawn to the shelter of the hills, the slopes and folds of grassy pasture, the navy and purple mountains as a backdrop.

Here, by Loch Lomond, always felt like home. It was funny - when I was about 7, at school in Edinburgh, lots of my peers would head off for Bank Holiday Weekends to their house in 'The Trossachs' - the idea of a holiday house was not something I'd come across before and, in my head, the exoticism turned it into 'The Tropics' with visions of Edinburgh schoolgirls, pith helmeted, sweating through the jungle.

loch lomond

Now that we live right at the edge of the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, I realise that the Trossachs has very little in common with my imagined tropical climes - not much heat, no pith helmets, no machetes.

The small hill across the track from my home is the terminal moraine of Loch Lomond - the furthest edge of the Ice Age loch, the border of the current National Park. I love that idea, that once upon a time, our garden was part of the loch.

loch lomond

So when I feel in need of water to brood by or splash through, I head to the east side of Loch Lomond - usually parking in Balmaha and walking along the loch side, past the little sandy beaches, the fields of Highland Cows, and I sit and watch the sky on the water.

loch lomond

It isn't all about water though - one of the attractions of the walk by the loch is that there are beautiful old trees on the banks - mainly alders, birch, oaks.

Over the past decade the Japanese have been researching the scientific evidence behind their practice of forest bathing - a very ritualised walk through a forest, with music, movement, meditation built into the experience.

One thing that they have found is that the phytoncides (plant oils) given off by the trees reduce stress hormones and blood pressure, so that as well as having the benefits of fresh air and exercise, people who walk near trees may have extra health benefits.

loch lomond

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Between the plum trees and the studio is a sloping space that was created when we flattened a patch of land to build. It is a mix of subsoil, rocks and odd seams of rich pasture land. ⠀
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As grass began to grow there about 7 years ago,  I sowed a perennial meadow mix, I planted lots of random plants from the cutting beds, I worked without a plan, without knowing what would thrive and what would gently vanish. ⠀
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Now there is minimal gardening involvement - I try and keep the nettles from taking over, we dig out brambles - and in the autumn and winter I lure the chickens there to scratch out patches of bare soil for the wildflower seeds. ⠀
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It’s a patchy space, caught on the cusp of abandonment - but it is the most beautiful space in the garden, buzzing with insects, rustling with birds. ⠀
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Low light, bright petals, setting sun. ⠀
A couple of days ago I got a message from a friend asking what I thought about all the 'picking wild flowers' photos on here and the fact that a country style magazine was promoting it as a
My Gran had hangers like these.  Knitted from odds and ends of wool, hanging softly squashed together in the big dark wardrobe in her bedroom.⁠⠀
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My cousin and I would take the fancy silky 1960s dresses from them and transform ourselves into glamorous detectives, spying on passers-by from behind the net curtains, making notes.⁠⠀
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Now the hangers are my favourite things to make from wool scraps - each takes 37 grams of wool and you only need to be able to do a plain stitch to make it. ⁠⠀
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As well as being chock full of nostalgia for me, they are also the most practical kind of hanger, as the garter stitch keeps even the flimsiest of straps in place so clothes don’t end up on the floor.
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This week's business improvement was deciding to make the postcards that go in with orders more useful, getting Kate Stockwell to turn them into activity cards for me. ⁠⠀
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This is the first, going out with orders from today.⁠⠀
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I’m always amazed at how many plants from sunnier climes take to the garden. ⠀
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Sicilian honey garlic - Nectaroscordum siculum - is one of the plants that grow in rows in the orchard - ghosts of the flower field, buzzing with bees, happy in grass, a strong whiff of onion as I pass. ⠀
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This month I’ve been experimenting with solar dyeing- using plants and sunlight and a jar to dye wool on the windowsill. 
I was amazed at what bright shades were possible and at how easy and self contained it turned out to be. 
It was part of the Studio Membership mini “Introduction to plant dyes” course but I’ve also put together a kit in the shop with full instructions and everything you need to get started with solar dyeing wool (there are mini skeins in the kit). The photo is my drying rack on the dye deck - part of the studio where I used to prep flowers when I sold them. 
The wood rack used to be for shoes and wellies.
Inspired by @josephinepbrooks I’m still using this time for some serious decluttering of my business - looking hard at which parts have descended over the years into one of those drawers stuffed full of things.  Which bits are muddled, useless, impossible to open without everything falling out. 
Last week was the turn of the blog - so many out of date things, so many broken links, pretty much impossible to browse. 
Now it’s been sorted out - David and @fuzzyjill at Fuzzy Lime helped me divide it into sections and now it’s all easily accessible from the navigation bar.

So if you are looking for tutorials, nature notes, gardening, recipes or musings on life you can find them without scrolling through hundreds of pages. 
And - as always seems to happen when you  declutter - I’m suddenly full of ideas for things to write about, so that I can fit them nicely into my new space! 
The poppies are from Friday’s blog about how they make wonderful cut flowers.
Another week. Another new morning 
I was chatting to a friend yesterday about what was the best thing about running my own business - and I decided that it was probably being excited about each day and all the things I want to do. ⠀
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That I now rarely need to force myself. ⠀

Today it’s finishing off this week’s Studio Members lesson about solar dyeing and putting together these activity postcards which I am getting printed to go out with orders. ⠀
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What are you looking forward to doing today?
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About Snapdragon

At Snapdragon we gently guide you through bringing the changing seasons into your daily life, helping you slow down, so that you can experience increased well being, calm and creativity.

Through our communities, both free and paid for, through Jane's writing on the blog, through carefully hand crafted gifts and activity kits, and through our online and in-person workshops we aim to bring people back in touch with the rhythms of a seasonal life.

Learn more about why here

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