Monday, 28 September 2015

Five Reasons Why I Love An Indian Summer

I'm not particularly tolerant of the heat so not being a big fan of the summer, I really love the changes that autumn brings as she eases us into winter.  The evenings can still be quite light and the days warm and sunny - which usually brings about the contrast of a cool evening because of the clear sky (speaking of which, the supermoon lunar eclipse last night with the orange moon in the cloud-less sky was spectacular). 

This week-end I've been outdoors in the sunshine because with the sun lower in the sky, it doesn't burn my skin and I can be outdoors for hours so this has been helping a lot to top us my vitamin D levels (which got very depleted last winter).  So this makes me happy.

Here are 5 reasons why I particularly love an Indian Summer:

1.  The kind weather gives extra opportunity to get out and achieve those jobs which which have been put off for months.  

We've been intending to paint the outside walls of the house for years but not managed it - until this week-end that is.  Excellent conditions for painting and the house is now transformed (I keep going out into the garden and looking at it - the change is amazing and I feel as though we've moved house!)

2.  The continued sunshine enables some of the veggie plants (in this case, beans and cherry tomatoes) to continue pushing out their harvests.

3.  Some flowers we saw earlier in the year are enjoying a second flowering (marigolds, nasturtiums and violas).

4.  It's warm enough to sit in the garden and enjoy some cooling ice cream or frozen yogurt

5.  The warm golden colours of the season are inspirational for new jewellery creations

It's said that this weather is likely to continue into October for us on the South coast (and is it asking too much for me to put in a request for November too?)

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Smugglers and Cream Teas in Alfriston

It's said that Alfriston is one of the most appealing villages in Sussex so I don't know why we've lived here all these years and only just managed to visit - maybe because its slightly tucked away, off the beaten track, and requires a tiny detour to get there, so we've never actually passed through it.

Surrounded by Downland and sitting on the banks of the gentle river Cuckmere, Alfriston's natural beauty is said to have inspired the popular hymn "Morning Has Broken" (written by Eleanor Farjeon in 1931 but later recorded by Cat Stevens in the 1970's).  

The main street is narrow and slopes gently downhill and is lined with old houses, unique shops, tearooms and medieval inns.

Its hard to believe now that Alfriston used to be a port (before the 18th century) and because of its comparative isolation near a lonely stretch of coast, it was an ideal centre for smuggling with many reminders today of its smuggling past.

The village green is known as The Tye and on the far side of it sits the parish church of St Andrews, known as "The Cathedral of the South Downs" due to its size.  

Close to the church, there's the Clergy House - this was originally the vicarage but became the very first property bought by the National Trust in 1896.  A small but interesting building with tranquil gardens looking out onto the Downs and the river.

We had time to sit down for our last cream tea of the summer and enjoy the view across the Tye from the tea garden.  The downside of eating jam outdoors in late summer is that the mad wasps soon find out and come to join the party! Fortunately the ladies in the tea room were prepared with little net "hats" for the jam pots which kept the wasps busy around the jam pot pushed to the far end of the table so they were too preoccupied to disturb us!

 What a lovely, little village to escape to - I must go back soon!

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Bless My Little Cotton Tops

As part of my summer clearout (which is still a work in progress), my wardrobe also came under review.  I prefer wearing natural fibres as much as I can which means lots of cotton, particularly in summer. 

I realised that some items weren't being worn, even though I loved the fabrics (I just love colour and patterns) so it was a case of wear it or donate it to the charity shop or, in a few cases, alterations were required to make all the difference.

A favourite is this orange and reds Indian paisley top with ruched detail and metallic "coins".  I realised I wasn't wearing it because it was too long and it made me feel too short (I am short, but it made me feel even shorter!).  So I trimmed a band off the bottom and recycled the cut off piece to make a matching hairband.  Now it feels much more "me" and I'm wearing it again!

The paisley top was too long but the green and blue strappy top was too "full" due to an extra layer underneath which made me feel too wide. So an adjustment here meant reducing the underneath layer to make it more floaty and also fixing the straps which annoyingly kept falling off my shoulders.  

Then there was my lucky charity shop find which didn't require any alterations - a Fat Face top found whilst on our camping trip in Cornwall - I came back with a nice, useful souvenir and the British Heart Foundation made some money out of my purchase - a win-win for both parties.

I currently have a work in progress that is a recycling of some fabric off-cuts from my scraps box - a blue and white montage of spots and stripes (you'll have to use your imagination a little here).

I really do get plenty of wear out of these little tops because they're very useful for layering up over t-shirts and under cardigans, once the weather starts to get a bit cooler.

I suppose the moral of the story here is, if there's something that's not being used, ask yourself why?  If something can be fixed, adapted or converted into something else which would make it useful, then do it.  But if not, then is it merely just taking up valuable space and would it probably be time to donate it to a new owner who would be able to appreciate it more?

Thursday, 3 September 2015

On A Hot Summer Day Not So Very Long Ago

Throughout the year, as we move from one month to the next, there always seems to be a gradual, subtle change.  However, the move from August to September always seems to be the exception - in August its all about being hot and sticky, lots of cold drinks to stay hydrated and being happy to walk around in bare feet and flip flops.  Come September, its as though someone's flicked a switch - cold drinks are replaced by hot cups of tea and socks and cardigans are needed by the evening.

Was it really less than a month ago when I was walking on the Downs, wearing my sunglasses, suncream and straw hat in an attempt to not get burnt, listening to the crickets in the grass below my feet and the swallows in the sky above my head?

Having said that, September really is my favourite month of the year, and there's talk of an Indian Summer which, if it's true, means these golden mellow days are set to continue for a little while yet.

In the meantime, here's a photographic reminder of that hot and sultry English summer's day that now seems just a distant memory ...