At the beginning of each new year, I always vow to bring fresh flowers or a flowering plant into the house as often as possible.
This time of year it often means buying from the flower stall in the big town 15 minutes drive away, or from the florists in the smaller, nearby town - a proper little town which boasts, amongst other things, a florists, a newsagents with Post Office, a butchers, a bakers, a jewellers, a good old-fashioned hardware store, and even a small family-run Department store.
It is a little gem of a place.
On top of all that, it has all the usual charity shops and banks, hairdressers and selection of take-aways.
It also has free parking, a railway station close to both the high street and supermarket, with regular trains to London one way and Ashford International the other, and a Waitrose within easy walking distance of all the above, as well as a huge Costa's with outside seating for warm, balmy days (but a wistful memory at the moment).
It really is a little gem of a place, a piece of Old England, a relic of what the High Street used to be a like a few decades ago before the out-of-town supermarkets and DIY stores came along, driving the smaller businesses and butchers, bakers and hardware stores out of business. Before the building societies, hairdressers, charity shops, and pound shops took over.
It is not pretty, or picturesque, like many of the Kentish villages in the area. Lots of the buildings are plain and unattractive. But it is always buzzing. The little high street is always busy with people going about their everyday business in a way that is hard to do in most other high streets these days. You could shop daily here if you wanted.
You can get your shoes re-heeled, a key cut, a hair-cut, buy a ring, a joint of beef, and a bouquet of flowers. You can buy a mason jar for preserving, or a pot of paint for decorating. You can get your passport photo taken in the Post Office, send a parcel abroad or borrow a book on travel from the little library. You can buy a loaf of bread, or a loaf tin to bake a loaf of bread. You can hop on a train and be in London in less than an hour or be in France in just over an hour.
The coffee shop is always busy, the high street is always bustling, and you can buy anything from a carpet to a ball of wool in the wonderful little department store (where, incidentally, my daughter had her first summer job this past summer in the old-fashioned school uniform department, and where she took a record sale of over £1,000, right on closing time, from a customer from Russia buying uniform for their child off to boarding school nearby!).
So once I find my crochet mojo this year, I have somewhere to head for, to satisfy any yarn urges - not a huge selection, but I like to support the department store for fear that we lose this treasure of a shop. In fact I like to support as many of the shops as I can, as I realise how lucky we are to still have them.
These are the second pair of fingerless mitts I made from Cute and Easy Crochet by Nicki Trench, using the same pattern as before, but adding a contrast trim and thumbs.
Despite the weather, I have managed to get lots of long walks in over the last few weeks, choosing my moment, dodging the showers. It means a shower in the bath for Logan on return, as wherever we go, across the fields or through the many orchards, there is thick, squelchy mud and huge puddles.
Once dry, Logan is content to lie on a cushion on the back of the sofa and look out of the front window, where, even though it is a fairly quiet and narrow lane, there is enough activity to capture the interest of any self-respecting dog guarding his property.
A few cars and the odd lorry delivering to the pub at the other end of the hamlet, and dog walkers and horses.
As you can see from the photo above, one of his favourite cushions of the moment (and I do change them around rather a lot!) is a vintage one I picked up recently.
A lot of work has gone into this one, reverse applique, white on white.
It is not perfectly executed, but someone had the patience and interest and skill to finish this cushion, and the overall effect is lovely.
Inspired by this cushion, and prompted by a very timely post by the talented Clare at Selfsewn, I felt inspired to seek out a book I have had a few years, and to have a go at some reverse applique myself.
Using a ready cut motif from the Alabama Stitch book, I transfered the design onto a piece of an old shirt of my husbands, and placed it over a large vintage orange linen napkin.
(My regular readers won't raise an eyebrow at all at my choice of fabrics, knowing well that I favour using up-cycled and vintage fabrics where I can, giving them a new lease of life!)
And that, I'm afraid, is as far as I have got for the moment!
But it's a start.
I am hoping to find time in the next day or so to do a little more, but I think it will be a slow old project, and me being impatient me, I will have to start (or finish?) another, quicker project!
What are you working on at the moment?????