Sunday, 31 January 2010

So much spam!

What a week I've had. I've had soooo much spam, it's been ridiculous. Obviously this blog has been flagged for some reason, but hopefully the new code verification thing will stop this, but I appologise to you all for activating it. I find it a bit fiddly sometimes, but I hope it won't put you off from commenting.

It's been a very tiring week here at the Retreat, and I've often felt overwhelmed, but have to make sure I take some time today to rest up and recharge my batteries. That's after all the washing, ironing and vacuuming is finished, hmmm, I'm wondering how that's going to work then!

I'm still managing to get a little art finished and have listed lots of things on Etsy, so that's been good, actually getting to grips with the business side of my art. I promise to be back with a more interesting post soon, but for now I need to sort out the animals and children as they all need mucking out :)

Edit: I'm nearly finished with all the work so may get a restful evening, happy in the knowledge that I'm on top of everything and then I can take it slower this week (maybe!).

I'm going to have an early night with my laptop and the next episode of Battlestar Galactica. It's ok, I've not lost my mind and it's not the old clunky series, but an amazing remake that I've been hooked on for the last two years.

Monday, 25 January 2010


Omigosh! I've been totally blocked this past week or so and have had so very little to say. That in itself has been a shock! A few weeks ago I read a post on Gemma's blog about a book called The Artist's Way. Being an impulsive book adict, I bought it (damn you one click!) and it arrived a few days ago. Well, it's interesting and although I have a few issues with it's statement that art comes from God or the Divine, it's does have some very good points. The Morning Pages are 3 pages that you need to write in first thing every morning. Easy and unnecessary were my first thoughts, but set about them anyway. Well, I wasn't prepared for the surge of anger that washed over me when my alarm went off early so that I could do the pages before my normal routine. I finally gave in and started to write, my only concession being that I MUST have my cup of tea at the same time, rather than doing the pages before anything else.

The result was interesting. The writing is not meant to be technically correct, pleasing or clever in any way. It's a form of active meditation and afterwards, I felt strangely empty and cleansed. I still feel blocked to a large extent but am keen to get my mental and physical house in order. It's true that being back at work makes my normal routine difficult as I still have the same amount of work but condensed into a shorter timespan, but slowly I'll get there!

Now, it's time to tackle the bedroom and create a calm space. Soon I want to redecorate and fancy something lush and gothic!

On another note, I've been getting soooo much spam and rubbish in my comments. I don't know why this has suddenly become a problem as I never had an issue before!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

What can I say?

Well, there's not a great deal happening here at the Retreat worth writing about! School has resumed and I have a hectic schedule which keeps me very busy and I'm still loving it! The children are so adorable and completely brighten my day with their happy faces and funny ways.

Visitors to my new blog will see that I'm managing to get some painting done and indeed, I've just finished another that will be posted up tonight. Then I'll get my Etsy January Sale sorted and start putting a selection of pictures together for a pony fair that I'm attending in February. The Website is waiting to be put together, but that is my goal to achieve before the end of this month.

At the same time as all this, my fingers have been straying towards my planting diary and I need to plan the vegetable plot for this year. It will be simpler this year, with mainly leeks and onions and some fresh greens and salads as I want to really concentrate on my art and the ponies. This is the year that Merlin will be put to a trap, so I have to admit to some excitement :) (and fear!)

The snow has all but gone now, although we have a little more forecast for Wednesday. Hopefully it won't settle, as it was just too much chaos in our little village and we need some time to recover! I know some of the older people who didn't leave home for nearly two weeks!

Well, that's what's been going on with me, how are you?

Thursday, 14 January 2010

My new blog.

Thank you to those of you who have dropped by and taken a peek at the Studio blog. I've arranged the posts so that it will run from top to bottom and there will just be a month per page. So if you pop in and think that nothing has happened, scroll down and you'll see the updates, a couple a week, that's all as the backward dates are tricky :)

There's a new Valentine picture in the process, but the trouble is, I want to paint it in so many different ways that I think I need to reign in my excitement :)

Soon, the Retreat will be hidden from my profile, maybe in a week or two, when the website is online.

Edited to add: Ok, it's back to normal format now, as I just couldn't be doing with all the backward dates. I guess I'll be fiddling with it for a while yet!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Last shot!

Just in case you're getting sick of the snow, here a last photo. I can't stop looking at the beautiful pictures and am wishing it would stay just a little longer. However, heavy rain is forecast for the next few days, which is soooo depressing. I'd take this lovely bright, cold weather over heavy, overcast skies any day.

So, a last final blast of a great snowball fight :)

And now for something different. At nearly 16, it's so good to know that Arnold still enjoys a good game of 'defend the stairs'.

Sorry this picture is blurry, but boy, he's quick! This game involves tearing a chunk out of your unsuspecting vicitim's head as they pass below you.

I do love this kitty. He's very grumpy and will shred a gentle hand without a moments notice, but is often purring as the blood flows! What can I say, we have funny animals that share our lives :)

Saturday, 9 January 2010

I don't want to.....

Go out, that is. The wind is fierce this morning and it's warm and cozy here beside the fire and inside my dressing gown!

The sun is showing just a golden ribbon behind the grey clouds wandering towards the village, trying not to look menacing, but coming closer all the same!

I shall make up a flask of boiling water, as the ponies so love their hot breakfast, and then climb into my many, many layers of clothes. I can barely do my coat up over it all, but it has kept me warm so far. I'm just not looking forward to it today, boo! I'll bribe myself to go with the promise of a big plate of bacon and eggs on my return :)

Stay warm everyone and take care. x

Friday, 8 January 2010

The white stuff.

Well, we still have plenty of the stuff and it's not showing any signs of going just yet!
I went back to work for just two days and although I could get to the school quite easily, none of the other staff could, so I've been home all week. In a way, it's been quite fortunate as just getting through the days has been quite a task all of it's own.

The journey to the field is lengthy and not without hazard, then it's home to prepare the food for the day. I'm being very careful with our supplies and we are eating a lot of simple foods, like homemade bread, cheese and pickles. Today I made pea and ham soup with the leftovers from last nights dinner, gammon, egg and chips. We have lots of potatoes so I made the chips in the oven, just wedges of potatoes drizzled with a little oil and baked until cooked. Sadly I had to buy the eggs, which sticks in the craw a bit, but my hens seem to be all egged out sadly and this needs to be looked at in the new year. More hens and a larger pen for the old girls to retire happily.

It's easy to eat well with only basic supplies, and those supplies can be kept in bulk, without too much forward planning. I always keep at least four bags of flour, stored in the fridge, a very large bag of pasta (5kg) and the same amount of rice. Add to this a dozen tins of tomatoes, tinned fish and beans and a well stocked freezer, plenty of dried pulses and some tins of dried milk, you have the makings of many delicious meals. Whenever foods are on special offer, I always buy plenty and put some of these in the store cupboard, so I have several jars of pasta sauce, tuna, curry sauce and coffee. There are other blogs covering this subject in greater detail, so check them out and find the system that suits you best.

Don't be fooled by how cute the Moomin looks, she throws a mean snowball.

This is the lane as clear as it's going to get. The roads in our village are all brown and mushy with all the salt and grit making travelling a lot easier.

Our footprints are at least 8inches deep, and it makes your legs ache wading through the heavy, crunchy snow. The Moomin pushed me over in it today and to the right of this picture is a big hole where my butt landed and got stuck!

I love the ripples in the snow here, there was quite a strong wind last night and frost faeries tap, tapped at our windows.

The Apple Tree Man, the guardian of our field.

My favourite picture of our field, so far.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010


Last night it snowed solidly from the start of my last post and throughout the night. At 9.30pm we got a call from our brother in law asking if we could put him up for the night, of course we told him yes and he brought with him tales of woe. Hundreds of cars blocked the motorways, with people just leaving their vehicles on the hard shoulder and walking to the nearest exits. Blizzards and snow drifts brought traffic to a standstill, leaving so many cars unable to move. A nearby supermarket stayed open as a drop in center and this morning we heard stories of people being taken in by kindly souls, but many more spent a very cold night in their cars.

This was the hill out of our village to the West,

and to the east. Cars left all over the road made a slippery hill harder to negotiate, even with 4wd!

This is the hill down from our lane, with happy children compacting the surface to an ice rink consistency.

Up the lane towards our field is the little church, pretty as a chocolate box on any day, but today, so gorgeous it almost hurt to look at it!

The magical tunnel of trees in the lane heading towards the field.

The trees were so heavy with snow and then just around the corner, outside our field

one of our trees was down and across the road.

It was almost enjoyable working together in the snow to remove the obstruction from the lane. Although, I did have to stop to take some photos of our progress!

Merlin really appreciated his bucketful of warm mash and apples.

Horses nearby were having quite a yar around, and Merlin was very watchful. Our field is about 3miles away from the house, so getting there was quite stressful and wading through the drifts was pretty tiring.

After a slightly nervous drive home through falling temperatures, we settled down with a small whiskey and began to prepare dinner. That was when the power went out. Thankfully I keep a large supply of candles and matches and within 10 minutes cooking resumed. My kitchen looks soooo messy, but in the candlelight I could hardly see it, but the flash shows it up now!!!

We all sat together in the kitchen for a very jovial meal and afterwards the children played board games.

It's been a very tiring, but actually wonderful day. It was almost disappointing when the power came back on, but at least I can now have a hot bath and prepare for another adventure tomorrow.

A lot of people, however, aren't as well prepared as we are, and I'm wondering how long the goodwill will last when food supplies run low. I have one friend cut off, and in the middle of nowhere with only enough food to last a couple of days and our village shops were rapidly selling out of bread and milk as people panicked and bought anything they could grab. The veneer of civilisation is a thin one and actually more fragile than many of us realise. I hope the strength of it isn't tested any time soon!

Tuesday, 5 January 2010


Narnia is outside our window. The fir trees are heavy, branches drooping low with snow. Houses submerged beneath huge mounds of white. The landscape transformed into mounds and hills of cold white, soft stuff.

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is on the television and twin images are outside our windows, our landscape changing, merging into a dream world of fantasy and still the snow is falling. Beautiful, but dangerous.

On our way home from the field we watched a van sliding sideways, first left and then right as it crawled the long way up the hill. As we made our way along the road towards home, a car came sliding out of a side road and into our path. Thank goodness for four wheel drive, is all I can say! A nasty crash was avoided, but only because we were careful. I hope others take it easy, or simply stay off the roads. This is the heaviest snow I've EVER seen. Tomorrow I'll take lots of pictures, but for tonight, I hope you are all safe and sound inside your warm, cosy homes.

Yes, it's still falling, getting deeper and deeper......

Monday, 4 January 2010

New Blog!

I'm going to be starting a new blog this week, one to support my website. I don't think I'll link it back to this one, as this has become my little haven and retreat, somewhere I can blog without too many worries. I may then hide this blog from my profile, so you will only be able to access it if you have a link or have saved the blog address. This will take a few weeks and I'll let everyone know, as I don't want to suddenly disappear, as I seemed to with the last blog!

On another note, I'm back to school today and have first day nerves again! How funny is that? The weather is suitably freezing with ground frost as thick as snow, and more snow forecast for today or tomorrow. This is only adding to my nerves, as we have to get to the ponies and the children to different schools with only hubby's truck able to cope with the ice. This is only do able if hubby is working from home, otherwise, EEK!

Still the sun is rising over the hill, and the sky is lightening, but not with warm spring hues, but with Winter's cold embrace, like an ice rimmed ocean.

Stay warm everyone and have a good day.

ps, I've had to put comment moderation on, as I've had a lot of spam comments over the holiday, and it really bugs me! So no more of that thank you ;)