Enjoying the Spring Sunshine

I’ve been struggling with the blog recently. Regular blog subjects, like visiting the beach, eating scones at local cafes and taking part in knit and natter groups have all stopped. I threw myself into some knitting and craft projects, but it didn’t seem the same. I’m not a walker – I use a disability scooter to get about, and have other health issues so I hadn’t been leaving the house. This week I reached the point when it was time to pull myself together and, as the weather was so good, I got the scooter out and joined K on a couple of walks with Buddy, the Labrador. I’m so glad I did.

The little Amelanchier tree in the front garden has finally come in to flower and is looking stunning

As we walked through the village I saw a few rainbows, painted by children and stuck in windows.

There’s also this sign, which has been placed at the entrance to the little garden of remembrance, which is known as Green Hut Corner.

It’s a lovely gesture – the village has applauded loudly for NHS staff and other key workers every Thursday night – there were even fireworks last week!

I enjoyed seeing all the spring flowers. This garden wall was festooned with aubretia.

Here in Shilbottle, the grass verges are full of daffodils in Spring. Until now I hadn’t noticed that some hyacinths had been planted with them in one spot. I wondered if they had originally been indoor ones that someone had planted out after they finished flowering. They had a beautiful fragrance that we could smell as we went past.

There’s a really quiet lane that winds through farmland – we can let Buddy off his lead there. He’s not bad at avoiding other dogs and people if you tell him to “leave” . We met several people out for their daily exercise or walking dogs but all were cheerfully observing distance guidelines. We are lucky to live here where there is the space to get out safely.

One of my favourite spots on this route is a by a gate at the top of a bank- there’s a wonderful view towards the sea from here. It was very hazy on one of my walks this week but yesterday was beautifully clear.

It was good to see the wildflowers in bloom as well as the garden plants. These primroses are one of my favourite signs of spring.

The blackthorn is also in full bloom. We hope that the sloe berries this autumn are as profuse as the flowers – we always make a batch of sloe gin if we can pick sloes. Some years, if there are late frosts that stop the fruit forming, there are none to be found.

Of course the newborn lambs are one of the signs of spring we love to see and there were plenty in the fields.

We doubled back and came back up the hill, stopping for a little while to take in that view again. Buddy seemed to be glad of the break. I had forgotten just how important it is to get our in the fresh air and I felt so much better for it.

Singing about sheep and celebrating the landscape.

It’s been a busy couple of days with some knitting connections, though rather tenuous!

Yesterday I went to a choir rehearsal – my former workplace , Newcastle City Council, has had a staff choir for several years. I am a founder member of the choir and still involved since I retired. We have been practicing for a lovely civic event. Every year the mayor of Bergen, Norway, one of the City’s twin towns, presents the City with a beautiful big Christmas tree and this year we are one of the choirs who will be singing at the presentation ceremony. Here’s more about Newcastle’s relationship with Bergen and its other twin towns .

This year’s Lord Mayor is originally from Sheffield and has asked us to sing the Yorkshire version of While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night (sung to the tune of On Ilkley Moor Baht ‘at) , so we were working on that. There are lots of verses to get through, but the arrangement is lovely (in four parts) and I’m enjoying singing soprano on this one. It’s not too high and we get some nice harmonies and echo the ‘flocks by night line’ I haven’t got a recording of us but I found this which gives you an idea of what it sounds like

After singing about sheep (or shepherds) yesterday, Today I saw lots of sheep while I was driving to The Sill – the amazing Landscape Visitor Centre, close to Hadrian’s Wall at Once Brewed. The Centre includes a youth hostel, cafe and gift shop and an interesting exhibition about the landscape and its connections to farming, leisure, industry and conservation. It also has the most stunning views across some of Northumberland’s hill country towards the Wall, especially from the roof, which is easily accessible up a fairly gently sloping path. On my last visit I spent ages using the augmented reality technology which enables you to “fly” over the local landscape and beyond .The Centre is well worth a visit.

I was meeting up with family and our friend M, who is herself a skilled knitter and has even knitted Fair Isle with the locals while visiting Fair Isle itself! We had a delicious lunch and then I sneaked into the exhibition, while the others were chatting in the lobby area – they noticed a lovely moving projection onto the floor of animal and bird footprints and birds flying by. The sheep in the exhibition weren’t very fleecy though!

Here in Northumberland the hills are steep and covered in poor soil. It’s hard to grow crops like cabbages and corn, but super for sheep, so…..without this landscape (and the sheep and their wool) we’d be cold!

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