Little glimmers of hope

In June 2012 we were burgled, of all the things taken it was the sentimental jewellery that hit me the hardest, even to this day I still find it upsetting when I think about what was taken.  A few pieces that were essentially worthless but meant the world to me for it was WHO they belonged to that was important.


The stack of empty boxes still sits in my bedroom on a shelf as to dispose of them is to admit finally that the contents have gone.

I could write a whole post on how useless the police and then insurance company were, some items were found in a local jewellers but the ineptitude of the police meant that there was a delay in getting to the shop to formally identify them, by this time the shop had gone and they were lost again.  The insurance company appointed loss adjustors who dragged their heels constantly, lost paperwork and when I finally agreed settlement it was for much less but I was just desperate for it all to end.

So when the cheque did finally arrive, what to do with the money?  Somewhere along this whole sorry journey I had the idea of commissioning pieces.  I could never replace the items (and in fact for some of them my memory was not good enough to remember precise details). My idea was instead to take elements from the jewellery and have pieces that represented key elements.  By commissioning items, I could make them unique to me

First of all, I contacted the wonderfully talented Belinda of Wild Acre Jewellery.  She lives near to me, so planning was easy and it is always a pleasure to visit her barn for consultations.   Many of the items were rings that had been passed down to me, I had seen Belinda’s stackable rings which had a simplicity that I really liked.

Over the summer months a series of rings were made, each one more delightful.  At one time it had been planned to wear them as a stack, but actually I prefer them separately.  One of my pleasures is choosing which ring to wear each day.  My idea worked – each piece does signify an item that was lost, but they have become more than this and have their own value as well.


Apart from the rings, there were a number of smaller items – earrings, pendants etc.  There was also a sovereign (the most valuable item and my least worn due to its bling value) that had been on my nana’s charm bracelet.  Then an idea pinged – why don’t I have a charm bracelet and again, choose charms to represent these other items.  The person do this was obvious …. the incredibly skilled Emma at Silverpebble.  I had been on her silver clay workshops (and the items I made had been part of the burglars haul) and knew her skill at being able to construct detail in silver.   So, the emails and planning started.   After much deliberation (on my part) on the clasp and bracelet, all was finalised and I waited patiently for Emma to do her magic.

I was not disappointed – the final piece is a joy.  Each charm has a significance to me, and like the rings the bracelet has become much more than I could have hoped for.


Lessons learned:

Firstly commissioning jewellery is the most wonderful process.  We have so much talent locally and the final piece is so much better than something that has been mass produced.  It has been a real pleasure to be part of process.

Secondly, photograph all your jewellery (and other precious items), insurance companies are weasels.  Store these images somewhere safe and I trust that you never need them.


Spring shadows

The glorious March sunlight, casting shadows across the lawn as it is time to go home.

There are just a few weeks when the sun is the right height in the sky at this time to cast the long shadows, today is the day that the clocks go forward and whilst the light evenings will be welcomed I will miss the atmosphere of this time of day.


Dicksonia antarctica

I have never really got up close and personal with the big tree ferns, but these specimens are in storage whilst the Swiss Garden is being renovated.

There is something so photogenic about the ferns fronds and I am taken back to the images of Karl Blossfeldt as part of the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) movement.  The organic unfurling is so graceful.  A wonderful mix of simplicity of shape with incredibly intricate detail within the frond.

Need to go back and revisit with a decent camera before they return to their home turf.












At Shuttleworth, just outside the walled garden is a lawn area.  There are some wonderful trees planted here – Catalpa bignonioides, Morus nigra and Aesculus hippocastanum all large specimens that fill the space.  However in spring the daffodils start to emerge and enlighten the lawn with a bank of yellow.

It is in this mass setting that this flower comes into its own.  Daffodils should not be viewed singularly or even in small groups but en masse, bold and strident across the landscape,  trumpeting their golden yellow as spring marches forward.






From rain to sunshine

Early February was swallowed up with revision (and rain).



The rain then seemed to continue ….



I seemed to take awhile to get going on the garden.  However last weekend was glorious, the temperature soared.



So it was on with the tree planting – post here.

Lots of new things at the plot this weekend.  On Saturday, we borrowed a generator, my Dad and a heap of power tools to get the beds finished.

There are now two raised beds for the fruit cage.  The plan is to use them from strawberries and get them off the ground from the slugs.



There is now a purpose built brassica cage, so maybe the pigeons won’t get all the crop next winter.  Clever design means it give more from bed to bed to I can rotate the crops.







The currant and gooseberries got pruned.  Blackberry, Loganberry and Tayberry all got tied in on the wires.  Weeding done (but the ground is still very wet so will leave at least another week before I try to put the raspberry canes in).






A platform has been made to house my liquid compost barrel, now just need to collect the weeds.  The bulbs that were planted around the blueberry bath have survived and are now starting to bloom.



Apricot and Ginger Fruitcake



Just after Christmas we had the big kitchen cupboard clear out.  Finding a glut of dried fruit (including the dates from last Christmas) I needed something to use them all up.  As a lover of ginger (in fact think it is my all time favourite flavour) I remember seeing this recipe by Diana Henry tweeted.

The cake is delicious, very moist and more interesting flavours then the traditional Dundee cake that is normally made in my family and certainly hasn’t lasted too long in our house!

The walnuts from my parents tree came in handy to decorate.