Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Moving Blog

The time has come to make it official.  This blog can now be found at Hope and Wander.  Click on the link to take you there or the address is: hopeandwander.wordpress.com.

If you are an email reader now or would like to receive my new blog by email, all you need to do is go to the above address for the blog.  In the bottom right hand corner is a little Follow button.  Click on that, enter your email address and that is it.  You will get a confirmation email to say you were successful.  Thank you very much!!
If you have any question you can leave me a comment on either blog, or an email at midwesttomidlands@gmail.com.

Also a favour, if you have a link on your blog to this blog would you please change it to the new blog address?  If you have my blog listed as a link please let me know and I will do the same.

Why did I decide to move blog?  One of the main reasons, is just that it easier to add photos, as they have a drag and drop feature.  There are also options to do photo galleries right within the editor.
 
Oh also why did I say moving blog?  Well in the USA when you move from one residence to another, you usually say "I am moving" or "We are moving next week." In England when people move they say "I'm moving house"or "I just moved house".  Just one of those little differences that makes life as an expat interesting.

My latest post is up at Hope and Wander today.  Head on over, ( no pun intended!) if you want to learn why one man was buried with his head facing down.  It's a topsy turvy world sometimes!

Thank you guys!


Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Taking a Leap

Hello, I haven't forgotten about this blog and that I said I had some more posts coming on The Chelsea Flower Show and England.  I've been working on the posts and I'll tell you about that in a minute.  The truth is I'm taking a leap, but I'm not sure about the landing!


I've been working on a Word Press blog and I've put some posts up there.  I'm still working my way around and trying to figure it all out.  Hopefully I will have some help with it next week.  For now I am leaving this blog put right here.  I might eventually move some posts over there, but will take it one step at a time.  I am not really sure how you connect with other bloggers, especially Blogger blogs on that platform, so I can still do that here.
If you want to take a peak at what I have so far, please do.  If you are an email subscriber, you don't have to do anything right now until I come back here and let you know the full plan.  The new blog is at www.hopeandwander.wordpress.com  By the way the new blog name is Hope and Wander!  We shall see how it goes, fingers crossed!

Thursday, 29 May 2014

On the Way to the Chelsea Flower Show


Hello and to anyone who is waiting to see some pictures of England - that is coming right up.

 First a note on the patio, nothing is happening right now as it is raining this week.  It usually doesn't look as bad as the before picture did! it is just that nothing got done last year since we were gone during the summer.  And now, I have many many ideas.  I guess I can report that the flowers I transplanted are still alive, so that is something!  Thanks for your encouragement.

Now for the good stuff.  Last week we went caravanning just south of London.  As I mentioned we had tickets to the Chelsea Flower Show.  Thursday morning we got up early and caught the train into Victoria Station.  There was a shuttle from the station to the flower show, but we decided to walk instead.  (As if we weren't going to get enough walking in the rest of the day-ha!)
We walked down Buckingham Palace Road and turned the corner onto Pimlico Road.  


I was so glad we had decided to walk because - wow! I was in love with this street from the start.


I knew there were decor stores on this street, but I did not know the window shopping would be so awesome.


At about this point I was thinking, maybe I don't need to go to the flower show after all because this is too much fun.  (I just looked it up, and this area of Pimlico is known as the Design District.)



These photos are a little rushed as someone else was encouraging me to hurry up so we could get to the grounds at 8 when they opened.  So in love with these plaid jackets and the way they were styled.


As you can see the reflections of the architecture in the windows, which side of the street to look?



This is a area that needs to be explored more on a future visit.  Who wants to join me???



Roses flowing out into the street from a doorway.  Reminding me to step it up and get thee to Chelsea to see the gardens and floral displays.  That I will share in the next post.  We also went to some historic properties over the weekend those recaps coming up soon too.
PS. Anyone out there on Instagram?  If you are let me know so I can follow you.  I just signed up under hopeandwander.  Something else new for me to learn:)


Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Someday is Today; The Garden Patio



It is has been 8 years ago this week since I moved to England.  I can't believe it.  The lilac trees in our front yard are in bloom right now just as they were when we first pulled in the drive when my journey began.  I'll always remember that, seeing those trees in full bloom like a big Welcome to England banner.  




Of course it hasn't been all blossoms, days of sunshine, and fairy tales for eight years. There have been the the long cold winters, and some dark days and nights and sad times.
  But you know what?  The flowers are in bloom again and spring is the best time for new energy, new focus and appreciating what life has to offer.

Which brings me to my new motto, 
Someday is Today!

I'm not sure when I came to the realisation, I think I might have been watching a movie, and something clicked with me in a very positive way.  The years are going to go by, good, bad, productive or not.  I think we all have a tendency to say, "Someday I will _____ (fill in the blank.)  But I thought - wait a minute, I am at that someday point!  
These thoughts and sayings of "Do it now" "No time like the present" the personal motivation slogans are nothing I came up with.  They have been around for ages, but for me it suddenly became more real and personal.  What I'm trying to say is I'm not getting any younger and when my last days come, hopefully still a long time from now, I don't want to be saying or thinking, " I wish I had done ____."  Instead I want to think, "Yes I'm glad I did it."


(The above flowers are blooming in our garden now.)


Since I feel like I still have a few good years in me:) one my other slogans for now is:
Operation Clean Up!



First project - the patio.  Below is my inspiration picture.  Not necessarily the colours, but the general feeling, the softness, relaxed and pretty.

Sorry I don't have a credit for this picture.




This was the reality.  But that's OK because now it is the before picture and progress has been made!




Keeping in mind the man's castle from the last post wasn't built in a day, but he had a vision in mind I am sure.
Inch by inch anythings a cinch.




The biggest stumbling block to getting started was getting the power washer working.  That had been a long ongoing saga, but Someday is Today and we finally got it up and running. HURRAY! In this picture still more work to be done, but in the bottom left you can see the before and after difference the power washing made.  Maybe in a few years we will replace the concrete squares, but for now it is all about working with what we have.  




And what we have is a boat-load of flowers to plant.  This is only a small portion.  Mr. H has been working away on a project during the days, in case you were wondering where he fits in this scenario.  But he had been busy planting seeds earlier in the year.  I think he got carried away, but he said he did not even plant all of the seeds in the packets.  




I set up a little planting station on the patio.  I felt like I was working at Flower City.


Here's where we are at now.  Still a ways to go, but so much better than it was.  I have primed the window and door, but the paint I wanted wasn't in stock.  The paint is important because the same colour is going to be used on the rest of the house trim.
(You can see we had bright sunshine by the harsh shadows.)


I will show more progress pics as the summer develops as there is more ahead and it will be fun to watch it grow.  Now instead of looking out the kitchen window and feeling sad seeing the patio, I can feel happy for the progress and where things will go from here.  My favourite saying:

"Where flowers bloom, so does hope." Lady Bird Johnson

I should get plenty more inspiration later this week as we are going to the Chelsea Flower Show.  I cannot wait!  I will report next week so look for that and maybe some other places in England we will discover.

Wishing you an early great Bank Holiday weekend in the UK and Happy Memorial Day to you Americans!

(a collage of some of our flowers this year made into an oil painting effect)

Monday, 19 May 2014

Inspiration, a Castle Made

Wow we are having some beautiful weather here in England.  Perfect for working outside which I have been doing the last few days.  When I was feeling slightly overwhelmed with all there is to do, I thought of this home in Spain I am about to show you.  This is what we saw looking downhill from the caves in the last post.  My curiosity led me down the hill to see what it was all about.


At the entrance a For Sale sign.  I was intrigued and as I was looking things over from the outside, an elderly gentleman inside saw me and waved at me to enter up the stairs.  (Meanwhile Mr. H was back up the hill.)



Up the stairs he pointed me towards this little sanctuary tucked away on the side.



It is great how you can communicate with someone with gestures, nods and smiles.  But I was sorry I wasn't able to communicate further with the owner on the whys and hows of building his storybook castle.


I heard his wife call him from inside as I was left on my own to climb more steps up to the top level.


There were several terraces with many types of creative sculptures and adornments.  Just really cool.


And he did it with a sense of humour too with little cat faces, gingerbread type men and a variety of shapes.  All the time, effort and love gone into this property really inspired me when I was working around home.  
(I don't want to spoil this man's creation with putting pictures of our garden in this post, so will share that tomorrow.  See you then, I hope.)



Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Creativity at the Caves

Hello out there.  This post is from Spain and part of an afternoon trip we took out in the countryside from Torrevieja.  First stop was in Rojales at the artists caves.  We had tried to find these once before, but didn't try hard enough or have enough info.  This time even with the proper directions and following the signs we still took a wrong turn or two but we eventually found ourselves at the top of the hill with great views and the caves below us.  Nothing was open when we were there but there was a sign about an exhibition the coming Monday.  Although the open day was after our departure I found plenty of inspiration from the local sculptures and setting while we were looking around.  I am always amazed and happy when I see the creativity and originality of people and how they use their art to express themselves.
















One of the sculptures below in the artist community.  This looks like they found a new use for an old mattress spring.
How about you, have you done anything creative lately?  (Please share if you have.)
PS. I found this slightly nostalgic as way back in the day my dad used to make plant stands out of welding together old farming machinery bits and pieces.  I think some of you reading this might still have one of his creations.








Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Palms on Parade


The City of Elche, Spain is known for its palm trees, over 200,000 of them throughout the city.  The Palm Grove of Elche or Palmeral of Elche was given World Heritage status in 2000.


With it being just a little less than 60 minutes up the road from us in Spain, it was a no brainer where to go on Palm Sunday.  The Palm Sunday Procession was declared of International Tourist Interest in 1997.


We weren't sure exactly where to go but we went in the general direction of those dressed in their Sunday best.  We waited patiently with others, trying to keep ourselves cool in the sunshine.



We walked up to the river to see if we could see the parade coming and sure enough they were starting to cross the bridge after having the blessing of the palms in the palm grove.



 Soon the flag of Elche escorted by the playing band, had worked its way around the streets and was in front of us.  


Is this what you were expecting to see when you think of a Palm Sunday procession?  


A close up of the intricate palm weaving.  I have heard them referred to as bleached palms, but in fact the way they get the light coloured palm leaves is to wrap the crown of the tree in dark plastic early in the year, so the palms develop, but stay soft for weaving.


This is just a small portion of the procession.  I am not sure how many participated this year, but there were 35,000 participants in 2009, if that gives you an idea.  Many, many palms and people.



If you have been a reader in the past you might remember I showed how they carry the large floats, as they are very heavy.  They carry it for a ways, set in down, then pick it back up again and march forward.  All the time remaining in step.



The earliest recorded procession on Palm Sunday in Elche dates back to 1371.


Making their way up the now very crowded street.


After the procession we walked up towards the park where they had booths selling the palm weavings.  In the week prior I read that they have approval for up to 70 booths selling the intricate palm creations.  Elche, a beautiful city with a beautiful tradition.