Monday, 21 May 2012

Meet the Girls

Meet my three beautiful girls – my little helpers in the garden and general ‘cheerer uppers’ as they never fail to make me laugh out loud at their everyday antics.

Whatever my mood the sight of the three of them hurtling down the garden in response to me shouting  ‘where’s my beautiful girls’ is a joy to behold. Three bodies of feather and fluff immediately forget what they are doing to come to me charging across grass and flower beds. They waddle from side to side, combs bobbing and bloomers fluffed out, hopping and skipping over any obstacle that might be in their path.

Alice is pure white (at the moment without any tail feathers) but always sports a permanent bib of soil or grass stains from her constant dust baths or digging.  She has a very deep voice, which she uses often, and is usually first out of the coup in the morning, trampling over anyone in her way and usually the last to bed at night, always insisting on a final stroll round the hen house or a nose round the food bowl before retiring.  

                                                          Alice enjoying a rest

                                               Alice and Audrey Joy checking for titbits

Elsie May is grey (or blue if using the official name) and is very girly and gentle. She has a very delicate voice and loves to be with you walking round the garden quietly chattering to herself. She enjoys being stroked, closing her eyes in pure bliss when you get to caress the skin round her neck through her feathers.  
                                                              Elsie May posing for the camera

Audrey Joy is the eldest of the girls, shiny jet black with petrol blue markings along her wings.  She is also the shyest and always the last one up in a morning and usually the first to bed at night, grabbing the best spot where she can snuggle down, spread out her bloomers and basically prevent anyone else getting a look in.

                                                                     Audrey Joy

Audrey Joy on a pole in the veg patch

All the three girls love to help with the gardening by digging or scratting and can often deplete the worm population in an afternoon. There have been many times when they nearly get decapitated as they dart in for a worm at the last second as the spade comes down. They are a great time waster too as I spend more time digging for their pleasure than getting things done.

Last year they discovered ten bags of leaves that had been gently rotting for two years ready to mulch the borders. I had heard the commotion; a very excited and prolonged frenzy of ‘ooooh, bop, bop’ and eventually went to investigate knowing it was something more exciting than a nest of woodlice. I was met with a sea of ripped black bin liners and a vast expanse of perfectly decomposed leaf mould scattered across the garden. They were obviously very pleased with themselves and had spent a very enjoyable hour or so scratting for bugs and other critters that had been eating their way through the leaves.
                                                     The girls helping with planting the potatoes

Usually, the girls are ‘all for one and one for all’ always walking together or sharing a dust bath, until they find a tasty treat then it is then each to her own. One of them will find a tasty morsel; usually a worm, and her great ‘whoop’ of delight gives the game away. There is then an ugly rush as the others try to steal it and she runs, darting here and there, in an attempt to lose the others. The worm, dangling from her beak then gets snatched from one beak to another until eventually it is swiftly sucked up into the winners beak.  I have to admit that I have had the misfortune to witness the outcome of an ill-fated worm caught between two hens that refuse to let go - not a pretty sight as each hen ends up with a little bit each…..
Still, the girls are my absolute delight and I would never want to be without them.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Love Letters

At The Fluffy Slug, part of the joy of making is the searching, routing and finding the treasured bits and pieces used in the things I make, especially when I find the stories behind them.  Most of the time you never  know their history but the objects do carry a little of each person that has loved and treasured them … a scratch, wear and tear or a small dent. Some of the old letters and documents hold interesting snippets of those who wrote them.

Generally, it is just a letter or two but every so often I come across a box or small suitcase of old letters from family or friends writing over many years to update each other on their daily lives or a package of love letters that have been reread and treasured until a final clear out.
An old suitcase full of letters from one sister to another updating each other on daily life.

In a world of texts and e-mails we are losing the art of letter writing. A pile of printed off e-mails is not the same as a bundle of well-read, beautifully hand written letters tied with ribbon and kept in a perfumed chocolate box.

My latest find is a number of letters from one sweetheart to another as they were parted by his work in the army and later (as she becomes his beloved wife) separated by war. They contain the most beautiful sentiments from someone who missed his wife so much and didn’t want to be separated from her, even for a minute. Never meant for eyes other than his wife’s, it seems a little intrusive reading the letters and I cannot bring myself to use them or separate them from each other. They always start with beautiful sentiments such as ‘my own darling …’’, ‘’my own darling little wife’’ and are lovingly signed off with ‘I remain your affectionate sweetheart …’’ or ‘’my darling, with fondest love, I always remain yours till death (yes till death)’’,’’with all my love my darling and millions of kisses xxxxxxxxxxxx I am always dearest your ever devoted Husband’’

Written in ink on beautiful crisp paper

I wonder what happened to them, did he return home to his beloved wife safe and sound? Did they go on to have a family and live to an old age?

Love reckons hours for months, and days for years; And every little absence is an age.
John Dryden

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Robin Hood, Robin Hood, Riding Through the Glen …

Robin Hood, Nottingham’s most famous son and the heroic outlaw in English Folk law, was known for ‘’robbing the rich and giving to the poor’’ and portrayed as living in Sherwood Forest. Despite being virtually on my doorstep I had never visited Sherwood Forest in the ten years that I have lived here. I went for the first time in January and now, it is one of my favourite places to walk.

It is a beautiful and tranquil place with magnificent ancient trees, many over 500 years old, (what have they seen in their lifetime?) including the famous Robin Hood’s Kings Oak, which is said to be around 1150 years old with a colossal 33’ waistline. Helped along with timber scaffolding to support her branches, she is still very beautiful with her lovely knobbly and knarled bark and branches.
The forest is also full of wildlife - birds, squirrels and deer as well as creepy crawlies that live in the dead trees, many of which are left purposely to rot where they fall to become home to the beetles, mosses and fungi.

Robin Hood's King Oak, though it is difficult to judge the  sheer scale of the tree from the photo.

A close up of the King's Oak

A forest of moss and lychin growing on fallen stumps .....

A beautiful ancient tree stump named Medusa by the Forestry Wardens who use it as a location marker when they are working in the forest. Many of the old trees or stumps have been given names.

Weather worn tree bases .....

Curly wurly branches
The leaves on the large trees are just starting to bud so still look bare but the birch trees are in full leaf and look like they are lit up from behnd.

A natural drinking hole for the wildlife formed in the base of a tree

The base of a tree is host to woodworm .....

A sea of silver birch trunks

Fungi growing on a fallen branch .....

A face in the grass

And finally ..... a rather rotund squirrel taking advantage of the nuts and seeds put out on the bird feeding stations provided throughout the forest.....

Happy May!