Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Pain and pampering

So apparently I have shingles and it is one of the most painful things I've had in my life. What a lovely bunch of friends I have around here though. I've had four calls this morning from friends asking if they could take the boys to school to help me out, another friend picked up Bo and fed both the boys this evening, and I came home to this pile of goodies and a note from another friend. Nice to feel so cared for!

Spanish in the sun

On Thursday it is a year since we left Argentina. We are going back there in September though, probably until February, although this time to Gualeguaychu, not Buenos Aires. We've booked the boys into this school and they're putting them into the same class, which will be great for them.
And here in Hay the boys have joined a Spanish class for under-6s, led by a super languages teacher called Mariel.

Monday, 26 March 2012

The naked scribe

Thinking of Buenos Aires

My gardenia is flowering and I'm enjoying having a bit of Buenos Aires (the city is filled with the scent of gardenia) here in Wales. I have the flowers in little pots around the cabin and each whif takes me back to familiar streets where bunches of gardenia would be on sale for a few pesos by street vendors, and mostly to our gardenia filled roof  terrace at our former home in Villa Crespo (which has been part refurnished by the new owners and looks like this). 

Passing time

Still waiting for a solution to the ongoing trusses issue, so in the meantime we're fixing small problems, like putting in new oak lintels and stone windowsills.

Early starts

So the boys were over their virus and waking-up-at-5am phase and back to normal. Then the clocks changed. This should, in theory, have kept them in bed later and us nudging very slightly closer towards a lie-in.

No chance. Sunday morning, a lamb woke us up. Today, Monday, we had to drive Ollie to Hereford to catch a train to Cambridge. Both days we had to wake the boys up, which is i. unheard of and ii. something that no parent of an under-5 should have to do, they should be able to savour every second that the kids are asleep. But seeing the lamb being born was pretty special, and the sunrise and mist covering the river valley as we drove the hill made our early start worth it.
Tomorrow though, I'm hoping for a lie in.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Wake up call

We were woken this morning at 6am by the farmer telling us he was about to deliver a lamb outside our cabin. So we all traipsed out in our PJs to a little lamb enter the world. He took a while to start breathing but made it in the end and he was up and walking and drinking milk within half an hour. Triplets were also born earlier in the morning, which the ewe couldn't feed, so the boys helped out at feeding time.

Two very happy boys, loving life on the farm in springtime and learning lots from Tony the farmer.
 Look, giant goose eggs!

Sunday best

Music among the bookstacks

Yesterday evening we went to hear my new running partner, Catherine Hughes, sing Welsh folk songs among the bookshelves upstairs in Booth's Bookshop. Catherine has a beautiful voice. She mostly sings at weddings and has just brought out a CD which is available to buy here.  Catherine also founded the Hay Community Choir, which Hay on TV ran a story about (click here to view).

A Welsh thing?

Fun afternoon at a stone moving party. Reward of hotdog and beer, and sitting about in the sun in a beautiful spot hidden away in the hills.

Hazy Saturday

Found object

We found this nest with three beautiful blue eggs in it in Pottery Cottage last week. We were hoping the mother bird would return but sadly no sign of her.


The first batch of frames are in: three sets of doors and the gable end window. Next up are the rest of the windows for the guest cottage end.
Here's a partial view of the mezzanine in the guest cottage, looking in from the gable end window. Work to support the roof in the main cottage begins tomorrow and once that's done they'll start wiring and plumbing and it should all shape up quite quickly.

Kindred spirits

Lovely day out with my Pa earlier in the week. As always he managed to sniff out where there was a stash of dinky cars for two little car-obsessed boys. This time it was in wonderful Abergavenny market where they sell delicious local food as well as all sorts of weird things like these piles of plastic wrestlers.

Friday, 23 March 2012


Hardly a trial to support Friends of Clyro School homebaking fundraiser when they're selling things like this:

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Textbook bad

Some old gent offered to take this photo of Seth and me at Abergavenny Castle this week. Afterwards he told me I would always be able to look at that photo and be able to tell my son that it was taken on the day of an equinox. Really??? This photo???

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

My new beautiful babies

Pottery Cottage: still a building site

No wonder the boys loved London

The driver of our train to Paddington let the boys play in his seat and showed them the engine room. After that excitement they rode on on a double-decker bus, saw Big Ben, the London Eye, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, and we haven't stopped talking about LONDON since. A trip to the Big Smoke and an overnight stay at Granny's has worn them out and they're back to waking up at a more civilised time of 6.30am (was before 5am for a few days), and we're all friends again back here at the cabin.

Mmmmm magnolia

I am LOVING seeing magnolia trees in bloom everywhere. The flowers are fabulous and each tree has such an individual shape that I enjoy each one. We had magnolia on the tables at our wedding and I've just planted a magnolia tree outside Pottery Cottage. These pics were taken outside my sister-in-law's flat in Notting Hill at the weekend.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Slow travel

An insight into Ollie's weekly train journey to Cambridge, via London, here in a piece by Kate Holmes in the Huffington Post (about life around Hay):
I am off to Paris next week on the Eurostar to do a DJ gig for my fashion line Client. If only the train to London was as easy as Eurostar. Newport Station has now been redesigned and remodernised and where you used to cross over the platform to grab the London connection both journeys this now involves you running up a flight of stairs, down a corridor, over a bridge, down two more flights of stairs to catch a four minute connection that locks its doors 40 seconds before departure. I have never once caught it so have to sit in the freezing cold with no cafe and a depressing smelly waiting room for the next train. When myself ( and others) complain we are told that the trains are run by different companies. They obviously don't speak to each other about train timetables as why make the London connection only four minutes - especially as the London train is never on time! Late at night First Great Western have to pay for taxis for the missed connections as the trains run hourly so it must cost them a fortune.
We leave Clyro at 6am on Tuesday to drop him at Hereford railway station and pick Ollie up on Thursday at 10 or 11pm depending on whether he makes the connection I'm not complaining though, Hay wouldn't be the place it is if it was easy to get to, and we did choose to live in Hay not in Cambridge, but this 4 minute connection is annoying.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Spring greens

Ooh, I do like the window display at Hay Deli, with props supplied by Marina Rendle from The End. I've reserved some of the old florists vases for when they come out the window at Hay Deli.

Mixed feelings

Unusually for Seth he is ill and was up all last night. This morning I was at the dentist and I still can't open my mouth to eat properly, and later this afternoon Bo was given an inhaler as it seems he has asthma. So we three have spent most of the day cuddled up on the sofa feeling sorry for ourselves.
I did have some good news today though. We have found a solution to the trusses issue at Pottery Cottage, so the steel girders will go in next week and it should all move quickly now. The first folding door went in today which feels like major progress, having had two gaping holes in the back of the house for months.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Inspiration: Boca, Barracas and Bahia

Before we left Argentina last year I was guide to Anthropologie's buyer-at-large, Keith Johnson, and home design director, Mitzie Wong on a three-day 'inspiration trip' around Buenos Aires. I was chuffed to bits today to see some of the work that came from that visit.

Crewelwork cushion inspired by the painted houses in La Boca
 Their bestselling bath collection inspired by the mosaic covered houses on Calle Lanin in Barracas
The South American inspiration trip took them on to Brazil and Peru, and a photo taken on a beach in Bahia was the beginning of this sofa. Here's what Mitzie says about it:
'The photo print you see here was originally taken on a beach in Bahia using a smartphone. I have so many fond memories of that beach - the heat curling off the sand, the swish-swish of lapping waves, the locals dragging their tables and chairs into the surf to cool off and relax, the smell of cheese grilling on barbeques. It was nothing short of magical.'