Author Archives: Alison

About Alison

Maritime Canadian abroad

Rain, Rain Go Away

“It rained, and it rained, and it rained. Pooh splashed to his door and looked out… “This is serious,” he said. “I must have an Escape.” So he took his largest pot of honey and escaped with it to a broad branch of his tree, well above the water.” ~A.A.Milne.

We are gritting our teeth through the second weekend in a row of inclement weather; high winds, heavy rain. This has been the pattern on and off since mid-October, courtesy of a jet stream that hangs around like an unwanted house guest. I don’t think you need all the fingers of one hand to count the number of dry weeks we have had since then. Its more than an inconvenience or an annoyance now. Parts of the country are facing serious loss of property and livelihood. Its looking very dire for some farmers who’s Winter crops may not be successful and are facing Spring planing on fields that are too wet to cultivate.

Flood defences for at risk areas are either inadequate or non existent, but there seems to be plenty of money for a new rail service (the now notorious HS2 which is billions over budget and barely started).  Simple preventative measures like annual storm drain clearance is rarely done. I think I’ve seen the storm drains in the roads being cleaned out once, perhaps twice in the nearly two decades I’ve been living here.

The authorities (if that’s what you want to call them) at all levels are unable or unwilling to apply more than temporary fixes to the issue of weather-related problems. I suppose its like so much else here; its beyond their capabilities or even interest. Any wonder ordinary people take over and come together to look after one another. I think this is a trend that will continue into the future, and one that government with encourage. One can only wonder what the point of government will be in the future beyond relieving you of tax money for more pointless projects.

In the meantime, anyone got a recipe for the opposite of a Rain Dance?

 

A Brief History of Valentine’s Day

 

Love it or loathe it, Valentine’s Day didn’t start out the way it is celebrated today. Trace back far enough and February 14th kind of began in ancient Rome. The Romans celebrated the Festival of Lupercalia, which started on February 13 and lasted through February 15. The observation was to avert evil spirits and promote health and fertility and by all accounts, was pretty rowdy, if not downright violent. A communal lottery matched up the men and women for the three day event. If the match was right, some couples would stay together after the festival was over. Hence the romantic link. Just about.

By the third century A.D., Christianity had taken over the narrative. Three different saints named Valentine had claim to being the day’s namesake. One was supposedly imprisoned by the Roman emperor, Claudius II, for his Christian beliefs. Another is the bishop, St Valentine of Terni and a third was a Roman priest who performed weddings for soldiers who were barred from marrying. The story goes that he wore a ring with a Cupid on it and handed out paper hearts to remind Christians of their love of God. This last Valentine is often citied as the true St Valentine and by the fifth century, February 14th was formally declared as St Valentine’s feast day.

Tokens to give to loved ones were handmade until the mid 18th century with the Victorians going really nuts with it. Some of the best examples of Valentine paraphenalia comes from that era. In 1913, Hallmark began selling Valentine’s Day cards and the rest is history.

To some, the day will always be sneeringly referred to as the “Hallmark Holiday” and it doesn’t help that the retail sector have taken it up with almost the same enthusiasm as they do Christmas. And Easter, Halloween, Thanksgiving ……

No, you don’t need one day to tell someone you care. But I still think its nice to observe the sentiment and say “I love you”. My husband and I have let occasions slide far too much over the last few years, using work as an excuse. This year he got a nice meal package from Waitrose, so we are going to shut up shop early, put away the electronics and actually sit down together to enjoy some good food and a bottle of wine.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

February – Spring On The Horizon

Clewley Coppice. One of my favourite spots to dog walk. Set in the middle of an industrial park, you would never know its there if you didn’t look for it. England is an overpopulated country so finding a place in the middle of a busy urban area that hasn’t been spoilt by overuse is a treat!

Despite being on the same latitude as Newfoundland, the U.K. is fortunate to have consistently mild Winters. It rarely snows, except in the very Northern areas and into Scotland, so signs of Spring are already showing up. Snowdrops that came up in January and are now in full bloom. This month I’m seeing crocuses and the green shoots of daffodils. I planted a container of primroses and mini daffodils last week to bring a bit of colour to the front door. Its still too early to do much with the containers in the back yard, though I’m seeing lots of green shoots in the ground and two of the trees in the back are showing signs of life again. I have no idea what will bloom this Spring since we moved into this house at the end of April last year and missed the early bloomers.

The fields behind the house are being plowed this week.

Our Honey turned two on January 31st! She celebrated by being piggier than usual. To her, mealtimes are an all day event! That’s a Lab for you.

Work is mega busy, I think I’m going to need to get some part time help soon, so we are thinking about short breaks in March. Cove Park on the Isle of Portland on the Dorset coast, has been a favourite long weekend spot for us for many years. We rent a four season caravan (trailer to we North Americans), bring a bag of groceries and wine and enjoy the sea view. The wifi isn’t great and there’s not much for television, which is exactly what you need to really wind down. The Park is offering 20% off bookings placed before March 1st, so the last weekend of March is looking good to us. There is an excellent Chinese take out, The Golden Island, that we always visit as soon as we get unpacked. Its a sort of first night ritual to get a tub of chow mein and relax after the long drive from the Midlands to the Dorset coast. Don’t make that “healthy eating” face at me. Egg roll anyone?

Bodycare with Apple & Bears

A little announcement here; I am very pleased to say that I have recently teamed up with UK luxury body care brand, Apple & Bears to act as Brand Ambassador.

I discovered them a few years ago, but this is their first foray into partnering with bloggers and others on social media. The company is based in Wraysbury and is family owned and managed with a strong ethic that starts with ingredient sourcing and continues through to manufacturing and customer care.

All Apple & Bears products are organic and natural and they have recently expanded into candles and diffusers.

There are four fragrances in the body care range, my favourite is the Pomegranate & Aloe Vera pictured above. The term “luxury” really does apply here. The body silks and washes feel really luxurious and work beautifully to keep skin in good condition. The scents are not overpowering at all, something I appreciate, and the packaging is simple and elegant.

The candles are soy-based and hand poured and the diffuser range have the same scents as the candles. The same attention to simplicity and elegance is reflected in the containers for the homewares.

If you haven’t tried Apple & Bears, please do! I promise you won’t be disappointed. Please use my referral link HERE to purchase.

If you are interested in becoming an Apple & Bears Brand Ambassador use the unique sign up link HERE. You do not need to have a blog or be an “influencer” (ick!) to join the Apple & Bears program.

New Year, New Decade

I don’t know about you, but I’m glad to see the back of the 2010’s, possibly one of the ugliest decades since the world wide web launched. It brought out some of the worst in human nature and turned social media into anti-social media. Adult, rational, intelligent discussion became a thing of the past. You can now ruin someone’s life, make people afraid to offer an opinion and drive them off the Net all from the comfortable anonymity of the device of your choice.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my online presence and what I want to do during this new decade. I’m hoping the ugliness of the past one has made other people as disgusted as I am and initiate a return to a more tolerant and frankly saner world online. One can always hope. I’m totally old school when it comes to blogs. I don’t begrudge anyone who is making a living from their blog or site. I know its hard work, but I want to return to the days when a blog post wasn’t a product review or sales pitch. There are still sites out there that offer a more personal approach, posts that are a slice of someone’s life, often relatable and frankly, a pleasure to read. You can talk to the author and other readers of the blog via the comments. I’ve made friends I never met this way, though most of them have disappeared online, not happy with the direction things took.

With that in mind, I won’t be spending much time any more on Twitter or Instagram. I want to concentrate on blogging and have re-discovered how much I enjoy Pinterest.

Offline I have plans for some more home improvements and I’m really looking forward to the Spring and the opportunity to get back into the garden again.

So Happy New Year and here’s to a gentler new decade.

Twelve Days to Christmas

Not to be confused with the Twelve Days of Christmas which stars on December 25th. I have another week of work before I shut the office down for ten days. Its been a long, busy year and I am so looking forward to the break. I was sent a lovely Christmas hamper by a client, full of wine, chocolate and other Christmas treats. The healthy eating of the past few months is going to go a bit off the rails this month!

The jet stream continues to favour us with its presence, like a house guest who wore out their welcome weeks ago. A day or two of dry weather, then its back to wet, windy and miserable. Dog walking has gone from the now waterlogged, mud soaked fields to the sidewalk and bits of parkland that isn’t completely waterlogged. There is a horrible smell on the fields, like sewage, so that has put us off walking our Lab, Honey, on them any more. There a number of canals in the area and the water is dangerously high now. She has a habit of straying near the edge to get her nose in and I’m not keen on trying to haul her out of the dirty water if she goes in. She’s a Lab, so she swims like a fish, but she does have a mild ear condition that precludes diving into the local waterways.

Spring is months away yet, but I couldn’t resist these hyacinth bulbs the local supermarket was selling as Christmas gifts. I have no idea what colour they will be when they bloom, but that’s part of the fun of watching them. The colour and scent will be a pleasant spot during the long, dark, grey days of Winter.

Honey says “have a great weekend!”

December

New month, three weeks to Christmas, cold, dry and sunny. Finally, the wet miserable weather of October and November has blown out. At least for now. Dark at 4 p.m., not daylight again until 8 a.m. That is really the only thing I dislike about Winter. I like light and sun, as much of it as I can get!

I’m days late getting my Christmas cards done so this year I”m sending to my children and grandkids only.  Got the tree up and decorated last weekend and I’m pleased with how good the new set of lights look.

We took the hound out to Cannock Chase last Sunday, early in the morning before it started raining again. The fields and woods near us are saturated from the last eight weeks of rain so we thought it would be less messy to go on the trails around the Chase. It still looks like Autumn there and the temp was perfect.

I love how quiet it is there. England is badly overcrowded with far too many vehicles, so its a real treat to be able to walk somewhere quiet and enjoy nature.

I’ve no plans for the holidays other than closing the office for ten days for some badly overdue time off. Whatever your plans are for Christmas, I hope you have a happy and blessed one!