“We’d incorporated Asia into our bones – its colours and laughter, its smells, its rhythms, its tolerance and patience, its compassion, its lack of ageism.” ~ Jane Wilson-Howarth
Colour is important to me, as you can see from both the cottage and the garden.
I am led to infuse it into my daily life, as in the tie-dyed sheet that hangs as a curtain on the old doorway.
Sometimes it’s all too easy to go to the shops and buy what is deemed suitable for covering a doorway…usually a door!
But, as always, a cottage can be very forgiving and accommodating to whatever furniture or resources one has.
A cottage is never in competition with the big, new house down the road!
It’s more of a “make do and mend” kind of home, where anything goes, be it period or modern, or just recycled, as is the case here at Bealtaine.
As I snapped these photos this morning, my gaze was being continually led outside…and so it should be, for that connectivity is immensely important.
I recall living in an old house in Muswell Hill in London and how I loved tending the window boxes beyond the old sash windows. How just the simple act of pushing them up and the outside coming in provided a kind of release of energy both ways!
Returning home earlier today, I immediately gathered my camera and eagerly set out to capture some of the images which greeted me.
Being away for such a length of time has made me homesick, even though part of this time has been spent with friends I rarely get to see.
Spending time in London was both a pleasure and a shock!
I travelled there by coach and ferry, as I try to avoid flying and the carbon footprint it incurs.
However, this allows me lots of time to do what I love…observe!
Arriving on the outskirts of London, just as it’s vast population begins to awaken and stir, is both magical and awesome, for it is at this time that the birds hold sway, their dawn chorus loud and jubilant!
The occasional fox is observed, slinking home after a night’s forage. (My ‘fox cushion’ evokes a memory or two!)
As the coach rolls down towards central London and Victoria Station, shops are rising shutters and newspapers are being stacked in plastic covered piles outside shops and kiosks…the storm is about to break, as tens of thousands of feet start to pound the beat along the arteries connecting home and work.
I love this city!
The shock to my system confronts me as the beat of life, incessant and purposeful, is now much louder than I remember it.
London is more crowded, people are attached to hand-held devices, living in their own singularities, at least on the outside, but connected to the now powerful force of the internet.
I wonder how many are sitting on trains, buses, workplaces, reading this and unaware of that powerful connection to like-minded people reading this website brings to you?
The Singularity is an era in which our intelligence will become increasingly non-biological and trillions of times more powerful than it is today—the dawning of a new civilization that will enable us to transcend our biological limitations and amplify our creativity.
Watching hundreds of people around me wherever I walked or travelled made me feel invisible, for none looked up, either at me or one another.
For more than fleeting moments I caught a glimpse of the future in cities!
John von Neumann was quoted as saying that “the ever accelerating progress of technology … gives the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, could not continue.” His definition of the Singularity was that the Singularity is the moment beyond which “technological progress will become incomprehensively rapid and complicated.”
I travelled on to Kefalonia in Greece, after some days spent in London. This was to celebrate a very special anniversary with friends.
(Much of what I have experienced over this time is covered in more depth, and photographs, than this site now allows for and can be read and viewed on the new website, Bealtaine Cottage Good Life.
I shall be posting there in the next few hours.)
Thanks to all who have written to me, emailed, phoned and signed up to the new website. I am about to work though the sign-up backlog, then take some time to respond to your correspondence.
The start of the week in this sacred place, where edges meet and overlap…a cooling, calming morning.
Yesterday was a day of visits and creating bouquets to take with me.
The gardens are flourishing and birthing beauty all around me, so there was much to gather and choose from.
This is the tenth year using the roll of cellophane bought for me by my eldest daughter all those years ago as a leaving London present!
Small investments can and do go on giving!
Walking the gardens this morning, after the rain, with the earth scents rising all around me, it was a delight to see the apples well on their way to a grand harvest.
I continue to drink the apple juice saved as frozen juice from the harvest last year.
The “poor” land here has given me more food than I can cope with…a continuing surplus builds year on year.
In this tenth year, it is no longer a surprise that the main stream media has steered clear of permaculture, for the truth of biodiversity undermines the huge Agri-business pushed by governments and those in power.
Permaculture has been pushed out to the fringes of society by ignoring the outcomes of such an approach.
This is why I write and photograph and film and keep putting it out there.
I don’t mind being ignored, but Mother Earth WILL have her voice heard and those tuning in are rising in numbers to a point where the mainstream media will have to take notice or end up being overtaken.
The compost heaps continue to rise toward the sky, dropping back down to earth as they bio-degrade. Newly planted beds promise a rich return all Autumn and well into the Winter. Natural Spring water flows in abundance from an aquifer that is unabused by demanding “flush it away,” toilet cisterns.
There is no away and besides which, water is sacred!
Why use clean water to flush our human waste into the rivers and oceans…no way, there is no away! Taking care of people means taking care of the Earth…how simple is that philosophy to put into practice?
Not if you are a corporation or a politician on the make and take, for there is no money in caring, just an abundant, real economy!
Our abiding relationship is with Mother Earth.
It is the only physical relationship which surpasses all others in this life.
If we imagine our world as a tapestry, then where are you on the stitching?
Where do you want to be on the weave?
Here’s a thought: one of the biggest and most powerful supermarket chains in the UK and Ireland spent a small fortune on creating this advertising slogan, “Every Little Helps!”
The air is still. The storm has passed. Stillness and silence pervades the cottage. Jack is in his bed, and the boys continue to doss away the morning in the Lodge. A midwinter scene repeated all across the northern hemisphere. Someone remarked on the increasing silence they noticed in the world around them. Midwinter is a silent time, suffused with echoes and occasional sounds from strange places. Places that are more difficult to pinpoint on the landscape…it’s a trick played on us by Mother Nature as she paces the dormitories of sleep and hibernation. Candles illuminate the darkness, dispelling matt grey for moving shadows. Jingles of Christmas on the radio, some lovely, most rapaciously dreadful, urging the listener to get out now and spend, spend, spend! And so the radio is switched off and music switched on, low and evocative. Midwinter enchants us all with memories of stillness and light, fires and food…times past, selected for our personal album of memories. I found this photograph recently. It was taken around Midwinter, in a photo-booth in London, when I first ventured away from home and Ireland. Scents were what I most missed. The scents of home, like turf and coal smoke, wisping out of chimney pots on rows of terraced houses. London was filled with new, more exotic scents, especially places like Portobello Road Market on a Saturday morning, where Patchouli oil perfume lingered in the air. Working patchwork, brings me back to early days, in London and the sheer wealth of fabric shops and stalls, Laura Ashley and the love of William Morris retro!Colours, fabrics and textures continue to fascinate.Natural fabrics hold most memory…perhaps because they are from the natural world, where energy is hosted.Sackcloth and old lace cover a jam jar, filled with Honesty.Cotton gingham of various colours in the kitchen.Willow, wood and clay pottery, mugs and bowls.The morning, washed by soft midwinter light…not to be bought and packaged for Christmas, but absorbed by the celebratory soul.Blessings from this midwinter cottage…
There is much talk about energy and the best way to keep warm.
Last night I arrived back from visiting my mother in Omagh, to a cold cottage.
After walking Jack and feeding the boys, I set about lighting the stove in the Lodge.
Within ten minutes the Lodge was warm and cosy.
I could take off my coat and think about a pot of tea!
This has got to be the most efficient, and gentle on the planet way, to warm a home, especially using wood from nearby…in my case the land around the cottage.
Why even setting a fire with cardboard is effective and warms the cold air very quickly indeed!
When I lived in London, I was a perpetual Skip Hunter…forever foraging for wood and never disappointed, for the amount of waste in the cities is incredible!
The kettle sits atop the stove and will be ready for making tea shortly.
Not many gas or oil central heating boilers can do this…for free!
This wood is stuff I collected from the hedgerows.
There is a lot of wood lying around following the storm of last night and it’s just a matter of picking it up!
Elsewhere in this little Lodge, coziness abounds!
I have started to use the top of the little stove for making soups upon.
The heat is equivalent to that on a gas or electric hob and can be adjusted with regulation of the air-flow.
The place is toasty warm in a very short time!
Talking of which…making toast by an open fire is the height of luxury!
This stove only needs a metal chimney and can be installed in a day.
If you can’t install a wood-burning stove, then ensure you make one room in your home as cosy as you can, with a little bed that doubles as a sofa, where you can sleep on especially cold nights.
Here in the Irish countryside there are a lot of splendid looking mansions, all recently built over the past decade.
I doubt if many of them are as cozy and welcoming as this little Lodge.
A Little Bealtaine Cottage Christmas Book…
I am into a second print run and am posting from today, Friday 15th of November!
Sad to add that all the lovely cards are now gone! (I can post seeds with the booklets!)
If any kind visitor to this blog would like to support the work of Bealtaine Cottage, then…
The light is changing.
The nights are drawing in.
The Equinox approaches…a time of equality in night and day, dark and light, balanced on the cusp of the descent into winter.
Much more of autumn is to come, with the delights of Samhain and last harvest in the coming month…my favourite time of year, for it is the season of my birth.
The season of mists and mellow fruitfulness…the dying sun. I love the changing of the seasons and the scents of the earth as the musky, mellow scent of autumn evokes a spirit of welcome for the darker nights.
We are seasonal creatures forced unwillingly into man-made rhythms that go against our inner desires to snuggle down into the deep recesses of a feather quilt and keep warm.
Now is the time to plant Broad Beans, Garlic and Onions for a good early crop next year.
This is also the time to hang winter curtains and make sure all outside painting tasks are completed to safeguard wood against the rigours of winter.
When I lived in London, I often ventured into the Hertfordshire countryside to buy sacks of vegetables direct from farms,to store in my pantry and use during the winter months.
I believe that a good pantry is worth any amount of fitted kitchen and can be easily constructed for little money!
The Equinox is near…make the most of your time outdoors and enjoy the autumn, one of the most beautiful seasons!
Living miles from the nearest town, beyond a fair stretch of the legs, shopping becomes an event…not to be treated in a casual way at all!
There is no such thing as, ‘just popping out to the shops,’ as the journey there and back can be costly on limited resources, such as petrol for the car.
Running out of food is simply not an option, so a pantry is essential, where a good stock of food can be built up and held in reserve.
The pantry really comes into it’s own at Christmas and other festivals where visitors are expected to descend with little notice…and the tradition is to always feed the visitor!
As the pantry is a cool, dark place, storing food is easy, much better than a fridge in some cases, especially when it comes to cakes, home made bread, vegetables and the like.
The Victorians were especially adept at designing and building pantries and larders. However, there appears to be little inclusion of this excellent feature in any modern design. I would even go so far as to say that few architects would even have heard of this small, but very essential room.
I used to live in an old Victorian house in London that came complete with a stone slabbed pantry, with fine mesh wire window, facing north for ultimate coolness!
Ideally the only light to penetrate the pantry is an artificial light or weak light from the north.
It is possible to build a small pantry in any home and I have even seen them made from wood, lined with various materials, in city apartments.
The pantry here at Bealtaine Cottage is well stocked. Over the course of this week it will fill up with home baked goodies. Jellies and cakes will jostle with cans and jars on the shelves.
Christmas cannot be bought…well, not here at any rate!
Cats will always find a home. The cleverest cats manage to find hotels. Cat hotels. The best food, drink and accomodation, free of charge with limitless facilities!
And so it is that Missy the ginger cat has come to stay at Bealtaine Cottage…
Missy is the daughter of a feral cat. Her mother was killed on the road, leaving Missy and her siblings orphaned and living in the hedgerow. A kindly man rescued them and Missy came to live at Bealtaine. years later she went further afield, to London and became a city cat…but has now returned to Bealtaine Cottage.
I think all cats are wild. They only act tame if there’s a saucer of milk in it for them. ~ Douglas Adams
Sitting on the window-sill this morning waiting to be let in…for a jolly hearty breakfast!
Lat take a cat, and fostre hym wel with milk
And tendre flessh, and make his couche of silk,
And lat hym seen a mous go by the wal,
Anon he weyveth milk and flessh and al,
And every deyntee that is in that hous,
Swich appetit hath he to ete a mous.
~ Geoffrey Chaucer The Manciple’s Tale
Today, someone told me to expect snow at Halloween…Samhain as the Celtic calendar states…but, I ask you, snow? What on earth could it be doing snowing at Halloween in Ireland?
Cats are smarter than dogs. You can’t get eight cats to pull a sled through snow. ~ Jeff Valdez