Seasonally inspired things to Learn, Make and 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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When I was at University it was the time of the Poll Tax, an unpopular tax made even more unpopular by being implemented in Scotland a year before the rest of the UK - 'Thatcher's guinea pigs'.⁠⠀
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It was a time of demonstration and violence with 50,000 marching in Glasgow, 1 million Scots refusing to pay. ⁠⠀
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It was a time Sheriff's Officers and poind sales of possessions. ⁠⠀
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Coalition student groups were formed - Socialist and Feminist and Anarchist and so on - there were big meetings in the Union, debates about a name and a logo and a manifesto. I remember lots of young, middle class, white men talked at length.  I remember that very, very little got done - a bus was organised to take students to Glasgow for the protests. ⁠⠀
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In the meantime, up the hill from the campus, three women (I thought of them as old at the time but I'm sure they were the age I am now) simply stood outside the auctions and asked nobody to attend.  They stood by the front doors, they explained their reasons, they prevailed.  They possibly looked randomly menacing in that way middle aged women can.⁠⠀
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People calmly bought back their possessions for 50p and their debts were squared. Action, meaningful results, a recognition that the personal is political - all while the student groups still debated their slogans.⁠⠀
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I've been thinking about those women a lot recently. If they were the age I think they were, they will be queuing up for their vaccines this month.
In my happy place.⁠⠀
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In the winter months The Studio is the centre of my working life. ⁠⠀
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This was yesterday.  Trimming pieces of vintage velvet fabric for the Studio Club shop; alpaca socks drying in the dispatch room behind me (we now have size 8-10 in stock too); a roll @scottishlinen seconds to experiment with hogging the cutting table.⁠⠀
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Bright and light and inspiring.
Starting the week with a photo from last year (simply because I lost a lot of this weekend to fatigue, so didn't take a new photo.)⁠⠀
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Budgie, my beautiful and psychotic cat, with a windowsill of white amaryllis. ⁠⠀
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Worth a second outing.
The proposed airstream conversion is in for planning permission approval at the moment, so that we change change its use from (neglected) artist's workshop into beautiful holiday accommodation.⁠⠀
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In my vision for this we get to use the paid holidaymaking element to subsidise some artist's residencies - painters, writers, musicians, makers coming here to soak up the landscape and be inspired.⁠⠀
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At the moment though I'm still at the stage of answering environmental health questions about quite how loud I am in my Studio and how we will light the path to the compost loo.
Yesterday my elder daughter, who lives in London, messaged me to say that our local DPD driver Slav was being given an award by @official.dpd.uk for his outstanding service. 

It was because of the hundreds of messages that they had been sent commenting on his helpfulness, incredible good cheer, and parcel based problem solving.⁠⠀

Slav has been an important part of my lockdown life here. ⁠⠀
When roads look like this, good delivery drivers are a vital (and hopefully appreciated) part of life.⁠⠀
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As my younger daughter chimed in “Go Slav!
This photo is from last week - but I see through the gloom that it has snowed overnight .⁠⠀
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This part of the garden is outside our bedroom, the beech hedge borders the road, it used to be a drive when our bedroom was a garage.⁠⠀
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Now it has a birch tree (symbolic for me of my miscarried babies, as I had to leave their actual birch trees behind when we moved here) surrounded by lots of box grown from small plants and cuttings.⁠⠀
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We buried Jasmine, my scruffy miniature schnauzer, here in the summer, so in some ways it is becoming a garden for sitting on the bench and remembering and watching the birds.  I shall ask my ever generous  friend Nadja for some snowdrops to plant in the grass.⁠⠀
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In my mind, eventually, the box balls will become like the ones on the front of @arnemaynardgardendesign book Garden Design Details - but this year they remain unclipped. ⁠⠀
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I suspect box blight in the back garden and @jekkamcvicar points out that unclipped box does not get blight.⁠⠀
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I love old gates - particularly old gates that stand in the middle of old unused spaces, leading to nowhere, keeping nothing in.⁠⠀
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A memory of another time.
Last year - while I was dyeing socks out on my Studio deck, I was also dyeing wool yarn. ⁠⠀
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Wool dyed with docks and nettle, gorse and meadowsweet, onions and plum bark all from the garden and lane.⁠⠀
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Over the winter I gathered the wool skeins together - all the soft bright colours - and knitted myself an oversized stripy jumper. ⁠⠀
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@rhiannonconnelly described it as wearing 'a hug from my garden' and I think she was spot on. ⁠⠀
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The pattern is the 'After the Rain' sweater by @heidikdesigns but with random stripes as I wasn't sure how much of each colour I had. #aftertherainsweater
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About Snapdragon Life

At Snapdragon Life I 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.

 

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