31st December

Final day of the year! And a very mild day for late December. Sunny with a light breeze and not a cloud in the sky. The birds have been very active this morning and we've spotted a few confused Forsythia with yellow blooms on them! Those bushes should not bloom until April! If I wasn't down with a cold, I'd be out tending to the garden this weekend. Typically, it is far too cold this time of year. *laughs* We shall see what crazy weather patterns 2012 brings us.

Happy New Year!

31st Decrember 2011

Ok something weird going on here:
Garden. Last day of December.
It's winter? Right?
How come the hazel tree has catkins? The roses are budding? The birds are singing a dawn chorus? The fish in the pond are feeding (as opposed to semi-hibernation at the bottom of the pond)

Catkins? In December???????


All over the Holidays

I picked the gorgeous one up from Malaga train station on the 22nd and after picking our way through the beautifully decorated streets of Malaga found our way back up the mountain by midnight. It was he that noted the sky first - absolutely smothered in stars - the deepest black velvet with few spaces between each twinkling light. Some were bright and large shouting their presence, others a dim reflection, the overall impact was incredible. I can honestly say I have never seen so many stars in one go and to top it all, a shooting star. I made my wish!

Since then we have only had two slightly chilly and overcast days (Christmas Eve and Christmas Day), otherwise it has been set fair. I keep meaning to research the full artist's palette of blues to find the name for the colour with which we are so lucky to be crowned with, one of many things on my 'to do' list.

We took the dogs down to the beach at Torre del Mar and apart from an unfortunate incident with an injured seagull (the foster dog needs a LOT of training) it was a lovely warm day on which to picnic. In the winter the sun has a marvellous way of making the sea sparkle; it is as if it is encrusted with crystals.

Today's venture is up and down the mountainsides; considerable exercise is required due to the inordinate amount of wine and pasta consumed. Not too unpleasurable a way to compensate.
The 'boys' enjoying the sunlit sea (Torre del Mar, Andalucia)


29h December

funny sort of day. Rained a bit, sunny a bit, rained a bit more then was sunny a bit more - its almost as if the Weather Gods can't make up their minds.
Maybe they've all overindulged over Christmas and are now a tad frazzled so are squabbling over who pushes what weather button.
"no, sunny"
"No, I want rainy"
"I want sunny"


24th December

It is so mild I am sitting here at 7.15 p.m. with the window slightly open. Even spenbt some time in the garden - without a coat.

Yesterday it poured with rain for a short while - and who knows what tomorrow will do!

Merry Christmas!


22nd December 2011

Winter Solstice

Today is the shortest day of the year
when the sun is furthest from the Earth.

May the Sun and the Moon shine forever on your face
And may all Shadow fall behind you

It is 7.15 a.m. and I am sitting with my office window open, awaiting the sunrise.
I thought I would share some images that are on my screen saver

Bright Blessings
to you all


21st December

I created this graphic last year to mark the beginning of the Winter Solstice - and shamelessly borrowed a quote from Helen! Thought I'd post it here as well.

The sky is shrouded in fog and steel-colored clouds. I was nearly drowned while out running errands this morning - the roads are saturated with rainwater. It's chilly - 58F/13C and I'd like nothing more than to crawl beneath a thick comforter and snooze the rest of the day away.

I also created a Holiday Greetings video and would like to share it here as well. Thank you for the brilliant idea, Helen! And thank you to Bronwen Harrison for the gorgeous  music she wrote especially for the video!

Bright Blessings!

Shortest Day

It may be the shortest day but it is one of my busiest, and that is without picking up a pen! House to be cleaned, dogs bathed, more biscotti to be made (I tested one too many of the previous batch) and then the beautifying routine (the longest of the activities) ready for the arrival of the gorgeous one tomorrow.

I have been blessed with a lovely warm day, for which I think the dogs are also grateful. 17C by half past eleven this morning. Damp dogs are now steaming in the sun.

I've noticed that many people are getting excited that with the winter solstice out of the way that Spring is only around the corner. Well, we know that's not true; the solstice is the start of winter not the end! Yes the days may lengthen ever so slightly but it is still going to be cold(er) (and in the UK no doubt wet), and anyway if you don't have winter you can't have spring, unless you're in southern Spain. Down here we have two springs and a summer!

Anyway, back to the housework.

Have a super Christmas!


19th December

Sunny and mild here today. Dog is asleep in the sun on the back porch. Plump Wren is stuffing herself on the bird feeder. I will no doubt need to fill that back up very soon. Nearly reached 60 degrees (15c) today, almost. At least its sunny! I still required a sweater to walk down to the mailbox earlier.

19th December

It is absolutely pouring.

The fish are all down the bottom of the pond - I've been scooping out fallen leaves from the water these last couple of weeks (using a fishing net) noticed a couple down on the bottom of the pond toady.

Sorry absolutely NO WAY was I putting my hand and arm in there! Too cold!

Not sure the fish particularly appreciated me fumbling about with the net along the bottom though. Still, said leaves now removed.

Taken Spring 2010


18th December

It tried to snow this morning. Fortunately it didn't try very hard.


16th December

Pouring rain all night. The rain didn't keep me awake (actually I like the sound of rain) but the guttering is broken and so water just cascades down the wall - not down the drain pipe.
That is OK (well it isn't - one day the landlord might get it fixed) but I had tidied the garden up a bit yesterday. I put the empty flower pots in the corner where the gutter is broken - so the sound of the rain falling on an upturned plastic flower container was like listening to an untalented drummer in a not very good boy band.
In the end I got up, found an umbrella and went out and "sorted it"
Very grateful for a nice warm bed to scuttle back into!


15th, December

I know that I have been absent quite a bit as of late, but I have not been swallowed up by the ground or anything. *laughs* I've been working like a fiend to finish up all projects for  2011 in hopes of a small vacation at the end of this month. That vacation begins this Saturday if it kills me. *laughs* So weather wise....mildly cool, breezy and partly cloudy here in North Carolina today. [63F/17C] A bit unseasonably warm actually.

Here are a few photos:
The woods behind our house. Nothing but limbs and empty branches now.

My Christmas Cactus is blooming!

Another shot of the Cactus.
The wreath on our kitchen door.

My Pansies are doing well in their hanging baskets along the porch.


14th December

Bright but cold.
No sign of the predicted storm here yet - though the forecast this morning said it might miss the UK & go over France instead.
Don't let them say we Brits never give them anything.....

I ordered a copy of Deborah's book - it arrived yesterday - looks good!

Baking, Drying, Still

Standing in my kitchen rolling out my biscotti dough, looking out at the sheets flapping away like some angry birds, I am very pleased that I now have the curtain to prevent the whistling draught through my front door. The oven is warming the kitchen which means the fire does not need to be lit just yet. Yet, when I had gone into the village to collect the post (and surprise I am now in receipt of three Christmas cards!) there was not even the slightest breeze to disturb the leaves on the trees. I swear it was  a few degrees warmer as well.
The dogs are agitating to go for their walk but they will have to hold fire until the biscuits are done. We will definitely be venturing out, I need to collect some kindling and I espied some good size bits of tree that would burn nicely in the grate... I remind myself of the poor man collecting winter fuel.


13th December

Bit of a storm last night - great gusts of wind battering everything & lashings of rain - and according to the forecast there is an even bigger storm heralding in from the west due to hit around Thursday.
It's all very still out there at the moment though.

Few of my solar powered lights are working now, the sun is not high enough to charge them up.
It's almost 4 pm, dusk already.


The Sky's The Limit

After a chilly morning where the blood was heated by battling through the throngs in Velez-Malaga, a friend and I stopped for a little libation before heading up the mountain. From our seats in the now warming sun we were able to view the aerobatics performed above Trapiche airfield. It reminded me of summer days spent similarly sat outside White Waltham airfield (though the aerobatics there were of a higher quality) watching some of the best aerobatic pilots in the country. I was also young then!
Speaking of young, the Maidenhead Advertiser ran a little piece on my book, A Tale of Nine Cities, and they gave me an age of 31. How wonderful to lose ten years overnight; shame no-one told my body!
My body is encased in more than one layer now. Whilst we still have sun and blue skies, the clouds and wind are more frequent visitors. T-shirts require a cardigan or jumper over the top and bare legs are not recommended. I am grateful that I am not trussed up in hat, scarves, gloves, thermal underwear and any other necessary attire to combat the early and cold British winter.  To my friends across the globe suffering cold temperatures I raise a warming toast…


10th December

Its cold.
'Nuff said.


7th December

I'm afraid no sunshine here in North Carolina either! I had to drive into town this morning and it was a wet ride! And don't tell the police, but I snapped a few photos on my phone whist driving. *laughs*

Driving on the bridge across the Catawba River, part of Lake Norman.

The view out my windshield (or wind screen depending on where you are in the world).

Temps are holding at about 60F/14C at present. Damp and not too cold today. But the forecast is for much colder weather on the morrow. The trees are now bare and a Carolina Wren has decided to nest in one of my hanging flower pots on the side porch. So I must let the plant die by  not watering it if her egg(s) are to survive. The basket is right by our side entryway and we are in and out all the time...why the little mamma bird would choose that location for her nest is beyond me!

7th December

Up earlier than usual this morning - they are resurfacing the road outside and even with double glazing, having my bedroom at the front of the house and noisy road mending is not compatible!
They started yesterday and with their huge lorries rolling back & forth etc the house felt as if I was sitting of top of a minor earthquake. Everything shaking & rattling.

Anyway.... the sky outside is a pale blue - blue only, not a cloud in sight, but gosh it looks (and is!) very cold.
The wind is from the north east, quite blowy and bitter cold.
Its one of those winter days when even just looking out the window (from the comfort of a centrally heated room) you just know it is icy cold out there.

So I am snug in my fluffy dressing gown sitting at my desk with a cosy radiator right next to me & a finished cup of tea. My feet are a bit cold now though. (Where is that draught coming from?) Must go find my slippers and then head for the bathroom for a shower & get dressed.
The day has begun and I really must do some work!

(What a contrast to Deborah's last post - she was sitting outside a cafe enjoying the Spanish sunshine!)


Out and About

Yesterday I was trawling the towns around Axarquia for shops that stock English language books to plead for shelf space for my own masterpiece. I chose a good day for it. Clear blue skies, warm sun and almost empty, winding roads as I steered the car from my village eastwards towards Competa. I did quite well as the two shops that met my criteria took my book - I thank them for it. Before standing in front of shopowners I needed a cup of tea to bolster my bravery quota and sat at an outdoor cafe, sunglasses firmly in place and enjoyed the beauty of the village. We have some mighty fine places that are ideal for aimless meandering up and down village lanes that could lead just about anyway - and often do.

Then to Nerja, the Balcon of Europe. As I waited for the owner of a shop to return I took the opportunity for a glass of something on a terrace overlooking the sea. The sun reflected onto the gentle rippling sea as silhouettes of ships slid along the horizon as they left the port of Malaga and headed eastwards. I was again fortunate and am ever grateful for the opportunity offered by the shop owner. So a successful and enjoyable day all told.

Today I have been beavering away on chapter plans whilst sat in the sun. However, the dogs require walking and we have been acccompanied on our jaunts with the sounds of young goats calling to their mothers and men knocking the ripe olives from the trees. The light is fantastic at this time of year, clear of heat haze and the moon rising in the afternoon sky must have helped as well.


5th December

The wind was very cold in London yesterday evening.
By "London" I mean the city of London - the main middle bit, not the outer suburbs where I live. (The City is about 7 miles away)

I was at St James for dinner with my US publisher at the Reform Club (very grand place)

Many London streets are long and have tall buildings either side - wind tunnels.
I walked from Green Park Station, along Piccadilly (past the Ritz hotel)

 Turned into St James Street.
It had been raining earlier so quite a few puddles about. Shop windows were beautifully decorated, so I stopped often to have a gaze.
At the end the road bends sharply to the left where the entrance to St James Palace is situated.

There's often a guard on duty -

didn't stop to see if there was one last night because as I turned the corner  phew - a blast of ice cold wind almost knocked me over.
I huddled into my coat & scuttled for the warmth of the Reform Club!
Sourcebooks' author Monica Fairview
 - and that gorgeous fire!


There's snow on them there hills!

There is the faintest of lines of snow on the uppermost ridge of Maroma. The inclement weather of the other evening resulted in the white line being haphazardly drawn across the mountain's top. I am positive this is earlier than last year's first snow. The good thing is I can enjoy the look without having to battle through too many snowstorms; the top of the mountain often carries snow whilst we enjoy the 20 degree winter sun.

It is not quite 20 degrees today. Whilst we have a blue sky and sun the thermometer is showing a low 15. Good dog-walking weather though.

The snow is just too far away to capture with my camera, so I shall share some of last year's with you instead.


Just how strong was the wind?

From a non-technical perspective, last night's wind was a) strong, b) noisy c) cold. Arriving home on the stroke of midnight I was unable to put the car on the drive as I could not open the gates. It took all my strength (and I am no sapling) to push the gate open enough for me to get through.

My rented house is lovely in the summer, a cool respite from the heat. In the winter it is draughty and cold, so I pull all the shutters down to keep the heat from the fire in and the weather out. Actions duly taken I retired to bed and lay there until about 4am unable to sleep due to the noise of the wind. It sounded as if I was in the middle of the fiercest storm, the wind screamed along the side of the house. The shutters rattled and not for the first time of a winter, did I lie there wondering how much would be left in the garden, would my huge beast of a car still be there.

The car is always there of course; the wind is not as strong and fiercesome as it makes out with its bellowing and howling. I tried to find the actual wind speed data on the internet (but gave up, not that interested really) but found instead a table with scales of wind strength. From the descriptions I think that we were somewhere in the 'near gale' to 'gale' category. Near Gale gives the description that 'whole trees sway' - well that certainly was the case - and Gale has 'Twigs break off trees'. I have carried out a quick reconnoitre of the immediate area and there are a few more twigs than yesterday. So, from that information I can deduce that the wind speed was probably between 51 and 74 kph (32 and 46 mph). That's pretty fast.

This morning there are blue skies a few puffy clouds and a light breeze, and even that is subsiding. Peace reigns again in the valley. Thank goodness.


Autumnal Spring

The windy, rainy cold part of an autumnal Spring has hit today. There may be new lambs in the field but, as in England, that does not marshall in good weather.
The rain has been well and truly blown away and whilst blue skies dominate my view the trees and bamboo are bending like a limber ballet dancer.
The fire has been lit and I wish that the curtain designed to curtail the draught under my front door was hanging in front of it, not residing in the seamstresses' shop.
The dogs are playing havoc indoors as the front door is firmly shut so they cannot go in and out as they choose. I think they are the wrong side of said door!

2nd December

Its not very Christmassy outside - thank goodness. OK so snow looks lovely on Christmas Cards but in practicality when you have horses to see to, chickens to look after and already find it hard walking because of a hip problem.... sorry folks give me a lovely sunny, crisp non-snowy winter's day any time!

Have you ever noticed how pale a blue sky is in winter? In summer it's a rich, dark, deep blue, today it's more like white with just a hint of blue - no clouds, a pale, pale sky.
All the leaves are off the Big Tree now and not many left on my Wisteria.
Fingers crossed that it flowers again next year!


Lying in the sun writing is probably the best way to pass a day. That is the week so far, along with the odd dog walk.

Tomorrow brings shopping in the big city! Hopefully it is still too early for the Spanish to cram the streets of Malaga for Christmas shopping and I can remain relatively unmolested. Fingers crossed!

30th November

Bright, bright blue sky, no wind - but a distinct chill in the air.
It's the sort of day to go for a lovely walk in the woods.
And I get to go Christmas shopping down Walthamstow market instead.
Pah, who drew the short straw then? :-(


28th November

Rain! Steady and not too heavy. Dropped the temps down as well. Nearly all the leaves are off the trees. Some bright red leaves are still hanging on the branches of the Burning Bushes. All my Pansies are enjoying the cool weather and rain! My dog is not. He becomes depressed every time it rains. *laughs* I don't mind the rain...rather soothing sound to me. Unless it is storming, which thankfully it is not this evening.

The Vultures are Circling

Just been further up the mountain with the boys for a walk. The vultures were
circling so a new carcass must have been put in their feeding pen. The sea
looked lovely, glowing pink from the sun. Unfortunately the camera did not take
the picture as the eye saw it - shame. On a clear day we can see the Atlas
Mountains in Africa but too hazy today.  We have lovely sunny weather and it is forecast
to continue for the rest of the week. Hurrah!

The slight pinkish tinge behind the trees - that is the Mediterranean Sea!

A close up of the vulture statue up the mountain.
I tried taking pictures of the real thing but a dot or disappearing tail feather was as good as it got.
This is much better!

28th November

Frosty this morning - a fine layer of white everywhere. That will mean the last of the leaves. One more "blow" from a strong wind and the trees will fall to bits. Naked trees - ooh cover your eyes! *laugh*


Bizarre dreams continued (going to check the label on wine bottle. What am I drinking?) but fingers are still intact. A neighbour's garden smells divine at the moment as aromatics come into flower. I decided to take a picture of a non-smelly flower though (I don't think scratch and sniff is available on the inter-web yet). A nice sunny plant to lighten anybody's winter.

27th November

Yesterday we cleared the last of the geraniums and potted them up in various pots to put safe in the greenhouse. Fingers crossed they survive the winter as they have been beautiful in the garden all summer.
The garden looks a bit bare now - but has turned a lovely autumn colour.
WE went down to the stable yard in Waltham Abbey today (Kathy wanted me to watch her ride Lexie - gosh that horse is BIG - 17.2 at least)
WE drove home through Epping Forest. The sun was low - even at mid day so everything was a bit dazzled. Clear blue sky - a very pale blue, many of the trees that turned early now have bare branches, but the oaks, beeches, silver birch are ablaze with autumn colour  - mostly yellows this year, not many reds or coppers.
In my garden the big tree next door (must find out what it is!) has lost all its leaves, my hazel is a glorious yellow & the copper beech hedge is more yellow than copper.
The dogwoods have changed now - one has yellow stems, one red.
The wisteria (yellow leaves also) is shedding badly, I have to fish leaves ot of the fish pond every day.  The fish are still feeding, but not as much as when it was warm
Cold wind today - it got quite fierce during the night.
Kathy has collected loads of conkers - no idea what she is going to do with them though!
I'd love to plant a couple but I think a Horse Chestnut tree would be far too big for our garden - pity!


26th November

Cool, breezy, partly cloudy day. The Black Cap Chickadees have all but cleaned out the bird feeder again. However, we seem to have lost our pair of Cardinals. Not heard nor seen them for a couple of weeks. Didn't think they migrated.

It's about 14c/55f at present. Good weather for yard work if I was so inclined. I'm not. *laughs*

26th November

A beautiful day - clear blue sky and a warm winter sun. I am very grateful for a light, sunny day after my dark dreams last night.
I had gone to sleep with my head full of wonderful thoughts of my beau, but when woken by one of the dogs barking frantically at 3am I became concerned (there was an attempted break-in at a neighbour's a few days previously). My dreams subsequently were a little darker in nature. At one point I was being chased by a large cut-throat razor across the grass (the razor had been 'pimped' and had a chain attached as well), I was jumping over it but I knew it wanted me to pick it up so it could cut my fingers off. My mother was calling to me and I kept saying, "I cannot write if I do not have any fingers!"
A little look into my psyche there!!

Today I am off in search of a plant that I glimpsed the other day on my walks that with hindsight may well be the supplier of saffron. Nature is very bountiful here and one could stock a herb store, fruit and veg stall and, if particularly bloodthirsty, the meat larder with all that is freely on offer here.
I'm just going to be very careful that there are no razors lurking in the undergrowth...


25th November

It was bright and sunny today, though distinctlly chilly. It's dusk now - almost dark, the sky is a dark blue, but I have my window open (stuffy in my office) and I can hear birds singing. Two wrens I think... ah they've stopped, but it is almost dark now.


23rd November

Again on Dog Pee patrol in the early hours of this morning. It was very still (and dark) breath in great clouds of mist - so very cold.
Must get the last of the gerniums under cover.


22nd November

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.
         Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
Bit like that here. Despite two days of almost continuous rain, with the stream running with such force it could almost be classed as a torrent, and the ground sodden and helping to create our second Spring, but with the sun now in the sky for the second day running I find myself entering the second day without water.
This is not funny. I am having to fill the kettle with bottled water, then fill the basin and wash from there; I am rationing my cups of tea (this quite frankly is the greatest problem) and I am filling the dogs' water bowls from the sheep trough that luckily sits only a few metres from my gates. All I want is to stand under a powerful shower and up my tea intake to the required 10 cups per day...

But despite all that I still have the beautiful mountain, Maroma, filling the view from my living room window.


21st November

"Dawn had meandered over the horizon, cascading dew over the grass and overnight-spun conwebs with a sparkle of fairy-diamonds"
from I am the Chosen King p228

posted on my Facebook wall by Vicki Nesting
thank you Vicki - how lovely!

21st November

The day began with a misty morning that did not burn off until mid morning. Now it is a bit warm for mid November in my opinion at 73F/21C. Sunny at the moment despite the foggy start of the day.

Yesterday I managed to finally plant the last of my Pansies:

I haven't mulched them in yet, so I expect the neighborhood cats to have fun digging in the dirt until I do! *laughs*


Sunny but chilly. Ron (husband) took Doggo for a walk down near the River Lea and said it was very misty.

I thought it was quite misty out when I let said Doggo out into the garden for an urgent pee at about 3 a.m.
That could have been because I'd had several large wines & was still more or less asleep though....
The weather has been decidedly miserable. Thunder-storms, drizzle and grey skies do nothing for the soul. I have been at the coast and the sea is a multiude of colours. Where the waves have churned up the sea-bed close to the shoreline it is a dirty white colour turning grey and dark as it moves out to the deeps.

I am also returning from the coast with another dog. I have fostered Squiff to save him from the gallows. He is a barker and after several denuncia (where a neighbour or such like denounce you to the police), his safest option was thought to be moved away, safe from the euthanasia needle.

So, I have been a good Samaritan this weekend - that'll teach me to drink too much wine!  ;0)


18th November

Where is this month going?? I had such high hopes of getting a lot more completed by midmonth! *laughs*

What I do have is much colder weather and leaves EVERYWHERE. We've had a cold stiff breeze for days now and I'm having 'fun' trying to keep the leaves off the back porch and side entryway steps. As many leaves as are blanketing our property, I'd expect to look up and see naked trees....but no, there are plenty still hanging on to yet litter our yard!

Current temps: 9C/48F

And last night's freeze got all my beautiful Impatients. So need to pull those up this weekend.

Happy Friday!


17th November

A lovely autumn day of which I have taken full advantage, walking with the dogs to my neighbour in the next valley . Clear blue sky, light breeze and a few fluffy clouds scudding their way across to gather in some slightly larger clouds over the top of the mountain are the background to my walk. And as I climb higher - views of the sea. I love it here!
The reason for my walk is to get instructions for the coming week when the 'family' will grow from two dogs to four dogs and a mule. So for one week I will be a true country girl, mucking out, grooming and my weather reports will be from one valley over!
This weekend, however, we are off to the seaside a little further west. Will it be calm seas or churning foam? Either way I'll be happy!


14th November

I woke to grey clouds but by the time I had made my way out of the front door to walk the dogs there were swathes of blue sky and the clouds were more white than grey. A good day ahead, thought I. An hour later and the sky was covered again with a grey blanket.
13:00  I am not too bothered by greyness today as I need to do some serious writing. I have been more than lax recently. I find the wet, grey days quite good for head-down work, no sun tempting me out into its warmth.
15:50 Thunder has been bouncing off the mountain sides and now the heavy rain has come. I'm going to make squash soup for dinner tonight, and have already brought some logs in for the evening fire. Cosiness is called for. Good thing is, the writing is progressing well.
16:40 A good inch of rain in the dogs' food bowls which I have just recovered indoors. It has stopped for the time being and there is a strip of blue between the greys, as if a random swish of paint had been applied.
18:45 The fire is lit, a glass of red wine is poured and a peaceful evening stretches in front of me as the clouds continue to build in the dark night.


13th November

Woke to a bright, bright, blue sky - and its turned "warm" again (by which I mean its not too cold!)
The yellowed leaves are tumbling from my Wisteria now - I have to fish them out from the pond every morning. (In hindsight, allowing the Wisteria to thread itself over wires across the pond was stupid - but as the pond and the Wisteria are both outside my office window....) Once its died back we're going to re-arrange where the wires go.
Anyone know when the Dogwoods change colour? One is supposed to be red wood, the other yellow..... they both look a bit greenish from where I'm sitting here in my office. Must go take a closer look.

Collecting Kathy from the stable yard yesterday we drove along the Epping New Road, which is a high ridge between the Lea Valley and the Roding Valley. The Forest is so beautiful in Autumn.

The Lee / Lea is confusing as there are two spellings Lee and Lea.
The Lee Valley is the name of the valley - and all its leisure centres etc (and site of the 2012 Olympic Games) while the  River Lea is the river - as Wikipedia states:

'There are many different spellings of the river's name. In the 19th century the Ordnance Survey decided to use both Lea and Lee. After years of dispute about the spelling, now it is agreed that the natural features such as the river are spelt Lea, whilst man-made features are spelt Lee, such as the Lee Valley Park'

Epping Forest
 (photo pilfered from the internet!)

13th November

Whatever the weather it is bright, far too bright. I need sleep...and headache tablets...bright light, bright light...too bright.


12th November

The sun is still warm and lighting the sky but today a little obscured by white clouds and a breeze is building. Rain is forecast for Monday, though with our micro-climate who knows.
The goats have been on a wander eating all the lush grass. One of my dogs goes apoplectic with rage that they dare walk past the house whilst the other whines to go and play. The goats are indifferent.

Opposite my gates goats are making the most of the
new grass at the edge of the track.


11th November

It may become a little tiresome if I report, yet again, a clear blue sky and warm sum greet me today. So, about last night...
the moon was big and bright and lit up my garden with that eerie silvery/white light so beloved of horror films, and the stars shone against the black backdrop of the sky. I love bright nights, it reminds me of my days as a Goth (dressed head to toe in black, backcombed hair and frightful make-up - looking like I'd just been dug up), skulking around the town at night thinking poetic, dark thoughts (typical Goth behaviour). I've sort of grown out of that now (less black and no make-up, though my hair often looks like a birds nest!), but last night, wrapped up in my thick dressing gown, I enjoyed sitting on the verendah thinking poetic thoughts.
Garden lit by the moon.
(Apologies for blurriness but slow shutter speed and no flash means me having to stand still - not good at that!)


Thursday 10th

Well it didn't rain today, so I suppose that's an improvement.

There was a wren singing outside my bedroom window this morning - one of our smallest birds, but with one of the loudest songs. They're dear little things, but hard to spot as they hide in thick hedges and undergrowth - unless its the male sitting on top of something high & singing his heart out.
(Not always good - they also sing during the night, especially just before dawn.....)

 I'm feeling quite outdone by Cathy & Deborah! I will have to get myself a camera & learn how to upload the photos to the computer  (did I hear Cathy snort just then? She knows how hopeless I am with techie things! *laugh* )

10 November

Cold front blew in last night and with it brought a little rain. Damp and not extremely chilly outside. But the weather did allow for some colorful photos as I was driving to town this morning *shhhhh* don't tell the police that I was using my cellphone camera while driving! *laughs*

Currently 59F here in Maiden.

View of the mountain that I live on in full autumn color.

View towards Charlotte, NC as I drove down off the mountain this morning.
 Strange how blue the sky came out on the phone camera - it looks more gray to the naked eye.
Another gorgeous day - blue skies, warm sun and some new flowers poking their heads skywards. Moved my pot plants to catch the sun and found a hitch-hiker in the form of a Praying Mantid.


Autumn is a little back to front in this part of the world. Yes, the leaves are falling from the almond trees and the vines are displaying colours reminiscent of the heat of the summer, but we also have growth. Succulent little blades of green are pushing their way through the scorched earth of the summer encouraged by the rainfall. Patches of emerald are sprouting up all around. Orange and lemon trees have produced their fruit which slowly are starting to turn yellow and orange in the autumn sun. Pomegranate fruits are bursting open on the branches, their ruby jewels attracting the birds and the last of the wasps.
And so I sit on my verendah, cup of tea at my elbow and listen to the birdsong and the burbling of the brook (fed by the autumn rains), and enjoy the sun before getting on with some much needed work.

9th November

Another dull morning, but it isn't raining. Most of the geraniums have finished now, although there are a few stout ones determined to continue flowering. As soon as I get the chance, must move them to the greenhouse.
Last year we lost the lot because they went mouldy. I think we put them away damp & didn't have enough ventilation in the greenhouse.
Won't make that mistake again.

I need to plant out the foxgloves (in pots at the moment) might keep the lupin in its pot though.
I set the pot on an old stool so it was raised above the other plants - and out of easy reach of the wretched snails & slugs.
First time for years that I had a lupin bloom.

Good idea for use of unwanted stools or small coffee tables. Place in the border & put pots on it. Provides height.

so to plant or not to plant?

Thinking of bees (work it out )
Will any bees or insects use my bee box?
Supposedly a safe, warm & cosy place for them to over winter. Two years running and nothing has moved in.
Oh well, at least I'm showing willing even if the bees aren't!


Back in Andalucia where the sun had been shining today, which was good as it was a dry walk to where my lift had broken down! All sorted now and sat in front of autumn's first log fire. The temperature does not really warrant it but, having been in hotels where the temperature resolutely remained at 28 degrees despite my attacks on the thermostat, it feels chilly.
Italy's weather was patchy, though luckily I was not in the flooded areas, and rain lashed down as I boarded the plane in Rome.
Raining when I leave and dry when I arrive...if all my trips were so fortuitous weather-wise!

Day one in Grottammare, blue sky and calm sea.

Day three in Grottammare - clouds are gathering and the sea has come alive.

Fortress in Camerino

Autumn colours - Umbria