Tuesday 13 March 2018

With (a) spring in my step...

It has been a while. 
A rather long while. 
Blog intentions were present and willing. 
Life threw me other things to do first. 

And then one day I caved in to friends' insistence that I ought to try Instagram.
So I have been instagramming a bit. (You can find me at @helenabernald on Instagram.) 

After months of hibernation, when I have occasionally placed a paw outside, in the vain (= desperate) hope for some spring vibes, it was not until today that I felt the air filled with hope and signs that spring is on its way.

So I have (a) spring in my step today.

And decided to welcome spring with some recycled, upcycled "Easter craft on a shoestring"  (inspired by the very creative and crafty Helena at http://helenalyth.se/). Photos taken with my phone, so the quality is not brilliant, but you get the idea... :-) 

I used egg shells from previous lunches, some leftover wall paint, the tiny satin ribbons you sometimes get in new T-shirts (the ones used to keep the T-shirt on its hanger), some small branches from a pile of cut down bushes nearby, and voilĂ , mini vases with a spring-y, Easter-y feel! 

Wishing you all a lovely week!


Wednesday 27 September 2017

September... with that spring feeling... ?!

Dear blog readers,

I hope you have had a lovely summer and that September and the reality of back-to-school/work did not hit you too hard... Perhaps you even welcomed it?

The leaves are beginning to change colour here in the UK and I find myself seeking out maples and other colour-generous autumn providers, just to see if they are "on fire" yet and marvel at nature's magic. 

And then there is the odd surprise to brighten one's Tuesday. Like the garden of my son's saxophone teacher, which yesterday greeted us with a sea of small cyclamens. Photo snapped with my phone, just before I lay down and rolled around on this pink blanket. No, not really. But very nearly. Decorum is overrated, don't you think...? đŸ˜‰

Wishing you a colourful, flower-rich week!


Friday 30 June 2017

A summer postcard...

Oh, go on then, why not make it two...

Dartmouth Castle, dating back to the 1380s.

... from stunning Dartmouth on the coast of Devon here in the UK. These photos are from a couple of years ago and I long to go back. Should you find yourselves anywhere in the area, I urge you to visit this gorgeous spot on the on the western bank of the estuary of the River Dart. Stay in Dartmouth or across the water in Kingswear and take the small ferry across to have dinner in Dartmouth, enjoying the sunset on the water. Great sea view walks in the area and for those longing for white sails, there is the annual Port of Dartmouth Royal Regatta

The countdown has started. Summer holidays, come, come!!!

Summer greetings,

Monday 5 June 2017

What's for dinner..?

Oh dear. Not much, by the looks of it... ☺ 

But this is where dinner happens, when it happens. Prepared in the tiny kitchen at the back of the house, it is carried through a small "passage" and gobbled up at this Ebay bargain oak dining table. 

On one side an IKEA bench, reasonably comfortable for a long meal with friends, and on the other side, oh-so-uncomfortable plastic stools. As this space is quite small, I prefer to have small stools rather than space-craving chairs, but for the sake of my family and friends, I hope I will soon find some more comfortable ones!

I do have a penchant for small bird details on kitchenware... (This bowl is a recent find at IKEA.)

The quarry-tiled floor in the dining room I believe is the original floor in this old worker's cottage and dates back more than a century. When I came across this old and rusty (army?) barrel, I thought it would make a nice side table to match the slightly "rougher" look of this room. An old floorboard, a jigsaw and a few pearls of sweat later, a table top was born and now hosts my bowl of proud orchids.

So, there we are, a small tour of my small dining room. 
Now, time to start thinking about what to cook tonight! 

All the best,

Thursday 25 May 2017

Fairytale feathers...

It is quite a crazy creation, don't you think? (Good crazy!) This blue beauty, our 'town bird'. 

Yes, going for a stroll around our little town without stumbling over a peacock or five is actually quite an unusual thing. They live in the grounds of Corsham Court, the local Estate house, but often venture out into the streets, stopping for a casual rest on the side of the road, on top of a wall or in someone's garden... 

Even as I write this, just after midnight, I can hear them calling, in that "tooting" voice I have become so accustomed to, yet still find so peculiar. How can these, the prettiest of birds, make that noise? Fairytale birds who, you would think, ought to have vocal cords like silk to match their spectacular costume?

But don't get me wrong... I love these fancy feathers and their unusual way of communicating with the world. And I love stumbling on them on an almost daily basis, sometimes even in my road. Nature's own painter's masterpiece. The world's very real fantasy bird.

All the best,

Thursday 11 May 2017

Peaceful pickings...

Perhaps I should not be so light-hearted in my word play about something 
so crucially, urgently, desperately important. 

With so much conflict in the world, and so much pain, it may perhaps feel like making a peace sign of moss and bluebells is a decadent waste of time - time which might instead be used to try to make the world a better place? Like the whole idea of blogging about craft projects and pretty petals is a pointless luxury that is unlikely to feed hungry mouths or put an end to suffering, big or small?

Yes, I feel like that sometimes. But throughout history, different forms of art have helped people through difficult times, perhaps served as a balance to an uglier reality nearby. And perhaps that is what I am drawn to... an opportunity to balance bonkers* with beauty? For myself and for others. To offer a corner of tranquility with no demands on the reader, you, to do anything other than sit back, relax and hopefully find something that pleases your eye or inspires you in your own artistic expressions. 

Perhaps that sounded big-headed of me... to think that I could offer all of the above? Well, it is perhaps a wish more than a belief and with that, I think I may just have described the reason I am blogging...! However, this is not to say that we can't combine the two... Balancing bonkers with beauty AND work for a better world in any way we feel we can.


And on the topic of bloggable blue beauties...

The image above and the two below are recycled images from a few of my previous blog posts of bloggable bluebells. From the rougher, "untidier", or wilder looks (pic above and second of the two below) to a slightly more sophisticated setting in the first photo below - I love them all... sweet, sweet little blue friends!

The last photo above was snapped with my phone a few weeks ago, when I stumbled upon one of UKs many, many bluebell forests (and no, you are not drunk, the photo was taken on a slope!). I believe my squeals of bluebell delight are still echoing between the trees...

Wishing you peace in every form,
Helena x

* "bonkers" is British English for "crazy", or here: "madness"

Wednesday 26 April 2017

Green meditation...

In recent years, I have seen an increasing number of colouring books for grown-ups pop up in book stores everywhere. They are often designed to offer a form of meditative, anti-stress art therapy, or mindfulness, and often contain different mandala shapes for you to colour in. I completely see how they could offer all of the above, but have personally not been drawn to them. 

However, when I recently stumbled upon stunningly creative Hanna Wendelbo, (click on her name for link to her website and here for a link to her instagram account) a Swedish designer with a passion for all things floral and who, among other things, designs beautiful wallpaper and offers workshops in what I would call floral art, something clicked in me and I could not wait to experiment a little myself. 

A large black sheet of paper, a few leaves and buds snippety-snipped from my garden and I found myself absorbed in meditative petal positioning and a wonderfully symmetrical adventure that is right up my street! These first attempts are perhaps not so advanced or elaborate, but the marvellous thing about creating something for yourself is that it does not need to be advanced or elaborate - it can be what you would like it to be! I already have ideas for many other patterns and petals, and with any luck I will find the time for some more green meditation...

I will finish this blog post with one of Hanna Wendelbo's photos of one of her amazing flower art creations. For some reason, this photo has really stuck with me and I find these gerbera petal angel wings so breathtakingly beautiful.

(Image shown with Hanna's approval.)

So, dear friends, go on, pick some petals and try for yourselves. But a small warning might be appropriate here... I cannot guarantee that you will not become slightly addicted once you start! 😊


Ps. I just saw that another hugely talented and creative designer and influencer, Helena Lyth, recently attended and wrote about one of Hanna's workshops on her blog, where she also shows some of her own beautiful flower mandalas.

Ps 2. Thank you so much for your kind words on my last blog post and for welcoming me back so generously to the blog world, despite my long absence!

Friday 21 April 2017

Pretty in pink...

Dear readers, 
Greetings from a dormant blog...!
It has been a while. A very long while...

Having just spent a snowy (!) Easter in Sweden, it was rather lovely to come back to a very pink world in our small town in the UK. Eager to enjoy the floral fiesta before the petals fall to the ground, I walked down to the local cricket field, stroking the soft, fluffy cherry blossoms as I walked underneath them, spotting at least two benches where I could see myself with a picnic basket...

With a head so full of craft ideas and a heart full of blog-longing, I would love to take a few trembling steps back into the blog world. Life tends to demand my attention to be directed elsewhere, but I might just try a gentle re-entry... Baby steps...

Wishing you all a colourful day!

Wednesday 5 November 2014

A sneak peak...

Dearest blog readers,
A quick hello from the land of dormant blogs...
Thank you so much for all of your lovely greetings, both here and in emails 
- you have really touched me with your kindness!
Many of you have also asked to see the inside of my new home.
So perhaps it is time for a little sneak peak...?

Yes, there is an inside to this little cottage. 
A work in progress, you might say. 
An interior that is yet to be Helenafied, or Swenglified. 
For this I need a creative mind to outwit the challenges of compact living, 
a eureka moment about how to live with carpets e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e, 
and the time and the head space to realise the ideas as they come to me.
But I think I might get there in the end.
Even if slowly.
The potential is there.
The good vibes.
The friendly house elfs.
Together, we will create...

The walls look a strange shade of greeny-yellow here, but they are in fact white. See the strange and not at all straight line at the top of the first photo above? Yes, that is indeed where the wall meets the ceiling. Visitors taller than 1,87 m may think twice about coming for tea... Compact living? Oh yes. Bijou at its bijouiest...

Wishing you the loveliest of weeks!

Wednesday 16 July 2014

Summer greetings...

Dear blog readers,
Have you entered the summer "lull" yet, 
the lazy days,
 the stopping what you are doing long enough to spot the most wonderful of growing inspiration, 
of "Nothing Is Impossible" and two fingers in the air to anyone who says 
poppies cannot grow out of a dry stone wall if they feel like it...

Does you laundry smell wonderfully fresh from spending hours in the light summer breeze, weaving more than fresh air into the thread count of the sheets, storing life and new beginnings in the same...?

Is your home-made elderflower cordial drunk yet, 
drunk with sparkling water to the tune of the ice cubes clinking and clanking in the glass,
drunk till the last drop of golden summer flavours is devoured 
and the longing for next year's harvest has begun...?

Has your vine started producing grapes yet? 

And more importantly... 
- have you stopped to smell the roses?

I confess, I am not quite there yet. 
My work has not gone on holiday, so neither have I.
But occasionally, and eagerly encouraged by my youngest son,
I do stop to smell the roses.
My son says:
"Mamma, you have got to come here and smell this one. It smells like lemon."
Although he says it in Swedish. 
"Den luktar citron, mamma!"
"Oh, and come here. This one smells like raspberries!"
So I stop.
And I smell.
And he is right. The yellow rose does smell a little bit like lemon, the red one like raspberries.
So I pick one, put it on the table.
The scent of lemon, summer and sweetness fills the room.
Wraps us all in the arms of summer, despite the boys still having a week left before school finishes and my having more work than I dare to think about...
Lemon. Roses. Raspberries.
Sometimes that is all it takes.


Monday 23 June 2014

Why I think I might start drumming...

Every now and then I hear other parents tell me - not seldom without a poorly hidden despondency in their voices - that they have just bought a drum kit for their child, because said child really, really wants to become a drummer...

I have often wondered how I would react if one of my boys presented this idea to me...

Glorious, GLORIOUS part of this home, housing the indoor swimming pool.

I am not sure I would jump up and down with joy... 
I think I would rather spend the rest of the day trying to convince them that the instruments 
they are already playing are SO much better for them, for so many reasons... 
Noise level being one of them... 


... having today fallen completely and irrevocably in love with this 
stunning house and its equally stunning gardens...

 I am beginning to think that this drumming business is not such a bad idea after all...

If this is what Nick Mason, former drummer in Pink Floyd, is able to call home (one of his homes) today 
(and yes, this is his home, on the outskirts of our little town)...

... I think my view of my boys potentially choosing a drumming career might just have changed dramatically...

In fact, I think I might give it a go myself!!!

Summer greetings to you all!

Thursday 8 May 2014

Garden glimpses...

Scruffy shed at the back of the garden?

Nothing that a few pots of lavenderishious loveliness and a couple of 
gently green garden chairs (from ASDA) cannot fix...

My peaceful friend joined me in the move from the old house...

 ... and now enjoys the scents of summer from the perfumed plants, 
whilst contributing to 'the calm and the cosy' 
in this little corner of contemplation.

The view from the chairs or the bench above?
Well, a lawn crying out for a haircut and the garden path leading back to home, sweet home!

Dearest readers,
I am - again - humbled by your kind words, 
your greetings here on the blog and via email, your warmth and your kindness. 
Thank you all SO much!

With love,

Thursday 24 April 2014

Trashy treasures and a woolly welcome...

Dearest blog readers,
Would you let me hug you, please? 
Hold you tight for a minute and tell you how lovely you are and how touched I was 
by your kind words after my modest blog come-back two weeks ago? 
I struggle to find the right words to describe how you made me feel. 
I feel I ought to say something profound and yet all that comes to mind, 
over and over again, is "you made my day". 
You. Made. My. Day.

During my blog silence, one of the things that kept me busy was moving in to this little 18th-century cottage, in a tiny hamlet a few minutes away from the "old" Swenglish Home. Full of good vibes, history, lady birds and spiders (!), this is a home where my compact living skills will be tested again and again...

However, my nose for recycling and turning trash into treasure has already proven intact, for example when I spotted these two rattan chairs being thrown away at the local recycling centre. "Stop, hold on! Surely you are not throwing those away?!" I bellowed at the men unloading the contents of their lorry into the skip. "Want them? They're yours!" they bellowed back, raising one or two eyebrows at the beaming Swede embracing their rubbish with such joy. Perhaps not my dream garden chairs, but they were free and they have already proven to be splendid seats for lunches in the sun.

The observant among you may have noticed that there seem to be two front doors to this little aged beauty. This is indeed true. In the old days, this used to be two cottages and as I sweat and fret over lack of storage space, I think of what it must have been like living here in those days, in only half of the cottage, and instantly I feel really blessed and grateful for the space that I have got!

The front door to the left in the photo above leads straight into the kitchen. This is a kitchen that, in the mouth of an over-eager estate agent might be described as "bijou", but which we all would know means "so tiny you can barely turn around". But do you know what? It also comes with this view:

 ... and that makes even washing up (my least favourite household chore) a joy!

And just like my woolly neighbour welcomed me into my new home,
let me welcome you to
 "The New Swenglish Home Blog"!