the great outdoors

After the terrible weather of the last few weeks, it was like winning the lottery to pull back the curtain and be almost blinded by the sun yesterday. Although I really love Winter and all it brings; soups, stews, blankets, frosty mornings and of course, Christmas, I’m one of those people who gets withdrawal symptoms if they can’t get outside frequently. The frost and snow has made for some really ace photo opportunities though, and I’ve spent a long time over the last few weeks crouched over leaves and branches, desperately trying to capture the beauty of the colder months…

Cyclamen (sadly, with no flowers – I have no idea why, either. Sigh).

I was overjoyed to discover shoots hiding in a corner – we weren’t living in this house this time last year, so I have no idea what they are!

Finding tracks in the snow is always fun. We don’t own a cat, either!

Planting some hydrangea cuttings – they’re now covered with plastic bags and perched on our bedroom windowsill.

Enthralled. And cold.

Although we live in Hampshire, our house isn’t what I’d class as really rural, but it is overlooked by a whole load of trees – which means we get lots of birds flitting around. When Autumn came, we started putting out food for them; bread soaked in water (you have to make sure it’s damp before they eat it), peanuts and fat balls, and before long we found we had some regulars. Two pigeons, two robins, several long tailed tits, two blue tits and a thrush (I think, I need a closer look!) all seem to spend most of their time perched on the tree at the bottom of our garden, snacking and just generally hopping about. I’ve become sort of addicted to watching them – I’ve never really seen the fascination with birds until now (I’m actually scared of them. True fact), but the more I watch them, the more interested I am. I spent half an hour one afternoon, camera in hand, fingers numb with cold, just waiting for them to appear – I haven’t got a zoom lens yet, so I have to be really stealthy – and finally, my patience paid off, and I managed to capture them on film.

Spot the robin.

Once the thaw arrived, everything was grey, wet and miserable for a couple of days, but finally the sun reappeared. We made a thankful trip to the market (we had to get our veg from the supermarket the week before – I needed four red chillies, but they only came in packs of three. There was no option to buy them singly. Why, *insert supermarket name here*, why??), and I had some great luck in the Oxfam bookshop round the corner. The sun shone, the kiddos behaved, and all was well for the day.

I absolutely cannot wait to get into the garden this year – I’m ordering my seeds, looking for reclaimed wood and scrap bookshelves to make raised beds from, and covering tins to make planters like there’s no tomorrow. I’ve got a definite idea of how I want things to work this year – plenty of food to last well into the Autumn, time spent foraging and fruit picking, really working with nature. Expect plenty of horticulture based posts coming up!


  1. Helen - sittinginthekitchensink
    January 28, 2013 / 8:15 am

    Oh I'm with you on the birdbwatching! Makes me feel such a nerd, but there's something nostalgic about being able to identify birds. I stalked a couple of thrushes round the local park the other day!Looking forward to hearing more of your garden plans too – I need to get digging and building raised beds in ours. Bookshelves are such a good idea! I was flicking through the Sarah Raven veg catalogue the other day, dreaming of everything I wanted to grow. What are you covering your tins with? x

    • Vicky
      February 1, 2013 / 8:38 am

      The lovely Lucy over at Lulastic blog has cleverly come up with homemade chalkboard paint that adheres to ANYTHING, so some are going to be smothered in that, also some decopage with fabric and paper, and some old maps. I've got quite a supply! The bookshelf idea came from someone on Twitter – afraid I can't take claim for that!

  2. Kate
    January 28, 2013 / 10:28 am

    Lovely photos. I know what you mean about the garden, our garden is quite new to us and we haven't really done anything with it and I am itching to get out there this year! Been getting gardening books out of the library and planning like mad, I can't wait to get going on it.

    • Vicky
      February 1, 2013 / 8:46 am

      I've been poring over Alys Fowlers books, and also a great big RHS guide – I feel like by just reading them, I'm improving my gardening skills!

  3. Carolyn Carter
    January 28, 2013 / 12:30 pm

    Great photos… particularly love the frosty flower pots & footprints in the snow. i too am eager for Spring's arrival. We just moved into our own place with a garden and I am looking forward to getting green fingered and pottering out there… despite not really knowing what I'm doing. 🙂

    • Vicky
      February 1, 2013 / 8:53 am

      We moved into our place in May last year, but had to do so much to the house that there wasn't much time for gardening – I'm going to make up for it this year! I think what you lack in skill you can certainly make up for in enthusiasm!

  4. Eleanor
    January 28, 2013 / 4:22 pm

    Glorious photos…. it was amazing to have the sun back… it's now raining again though after a weekend of thunderous storms and hail.. back to reality 🙁

    • Vicky
      February 1, 2013 / 8:56 am

      Tell me about it – ever since I posted this it's been raining here. I think I jinxed the weather!

  5. KatGotTheCream
    January 28, 2013 / 10:39 pm

    Good to see you've been making use of your new camera. Great photos and I love the birdies.When we first moved to our house a couple of winters ago I had no idea what might come up next and spring/summer were such a revelation. The old lady who used to live here had cultivated a lovely garden over 40 years so there was always something new and colourful coming up throughout the year. It's a travesty that we (gardening dunces)have inherited it but we haven't ripped anything out and have tried to keep it going. *shuffles off to listen to Gardener's Question time*

    • Vicky
      February 1, 2013 / 9:01 am

      Ahh, thanks lady! I do love my camera, I still feel very lucky to have it.I quite like the thrill of waiting to see what the shoots might turn out to be – you can plant over the top of the bulbs as well, so it works out that once the Winter flowers have died back, the Spring and Summer flowers will take their place. Get me, knowing gardeny stuff!

  6. Prune
    January 29, 2013 / 10:02 pm

    I think the shoots could be snowdrops. We inherited some clumps when we moved in here six years ago…still a thrill when they come up.

    • Vicky
      February 1, 2013 / 9:10 am

      Ooh thanks – I'm not very good at identifying plants when they're fully grown, let alone as a shoot! The latest issue of Country Living has an excellent feature on snowdrops – some bulbs go for hundreds of pounds!

  7. Vicky
    February 1, 2013 / 9:11 am

    Ooh thanks lovely!

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