Summer - high summer, even - seems to have arrived on Skye. We had a long, hot spell followed by chilly grey days but the sun's back and the mercury's rising. The photographs in this post were taken a few weeks ago, mostly at the castle, but since then the season has progressed. The cow parsley and meadow grasses have gone to seed and that rich verdancy of late spring is giving way to golds and purples. There's that dusty feel to things and the ground is no longer soft underfoot but baked hard and hollow.
This is a bit of a hurried post. School finishes early today, then we have seven weeks of later starts and holiday activities. So who knows when I'll manage to shoehorn in writing, printmaking, social media and everything else? I suspect things are going to get very ad-hoc. Not to mention that I just got an iPhone yesterday (the most basic version - I'm not really a tech fiend) but have never used one before so am still at the setting-up stage.
So apologies for not being very contactable, if anyone's trying to get hold of me.
So. A few little lists to sum up life right now...
Like the things I'm loving. Rude Health almond milk. Geranium oil (mixed with sweet almond oil, as a facial moisturiser - you go to bed in a cloud of perfume). Lip balm from here - and many places on Skye sell it, too. White paint (we're currently brightening up both reception rooms and a coat - or two - of pure white has completely transformed things). Currant leaves: crushed between the fingers, the scent takes me right back to being seven years old in my best friend's garden. Oh, and I tried Misty Isle gin last night. Gin and tonic on a hot evening with friends whilst Joe was finding newts in their pond...
P.S. No sponsors here, just things I like!
Things I would like to own (all work-related, so perfectly acceptable): A set of Pfeil lino cutting tools (one day)... A UV lightbox for making cyanotype prints, even on a cloudy day. Drypoint etching tools - I'm wanting to try this kind of printmaking. Lots of new inks in interesting colours. And a subscription to Pressing matters magazine would be perfect...
And a bit of a miscellany. I've been reading poetry by Mary Oliver (a bit of a departure from my usual 18th and 19th century verse). And re-reading my whole Green Gables collection. I just love them and have since I discovered them as a youngster. As for telly - not much really. Just the usual Gardener's World and Versailles. I'm completely hooked on Louis, Philippe and their exploits. The intrigue! The plotting! The debauchery!
Back to real life. In the garden, we're growing pumpkins and nasturtiums. Also blooming in the borders: lupins, sea holly, roses and fuchsias. Soon to come: delphiniums and soft fruits.
I have a list still to write. Joe and I need to think about all the things we want to do over the summer: places to go, cakes to bake, experiments to carry out (Maddie Moate has helped with this one)...
And finally. Creative Countryside magazine.
I received my issue earlier in the week, along with a box of them which can be bought from me directly. It's beautiful - so much dreamy photography and so many inspiring words. And I just wanted to say a bit about independent magazines (ours in particular).
Sometimes, when people ask about it, they ask about the price. Which is £12. And they gasp and do a shocked face. A magazine costing twelve pounds???
Well, firstly: the magazine is quarterly. An issue per season (perfect, considering it's all about simple, mindful and seasonal living). So, £4 per month. Secondly, it's printed on quality, matte paper. Not that shiny, thin, slippery stuff. Eleanor (the editor) had the aim for Creative Countryside to be more like a book, kept on the shelf to be re-read again and again. What else? There are no adverts. Just out of curiosity, this morning I looked through one of my back issues of a certain well-established lifestyle magazine which is owned by a large publications company. Out of 180 pages, 74 of those were advertisements. That's over 40% of the total content. And all for stuff I couldn't possibly afford.
Our magazine is printed in limited numbers. It's filled with thoughtfully-written poetry, stories and inspiring articles. Beautiful photographs and artwork. Talented people contributing interviews, recipes, knowledge about so many things we can all try for ourselves, for very little financial cost but perhaps an investment of some time which is guaranteed to be well-spent.
So hopefully that helps explain why the magazine isn't just a few pounds. If you'd like a taste, there's a lot of free loveliness to be had via the online journal at www.creativecountryside.com
And now it's time to head out into the sunshine, up the lane to school where you can look out over the mountains and sea, and to collect Joe. And then summer really begins.
See you soon!