All posts by jpeggytaylor

About jpeggytaylor

I love to design and handcraft original textiles including clothing, accessories and household items. I use some new materials but also incorporate up-cycled and found natural materials into my designs where appropriate.

Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge: Public Transportation

Newcastle upon Tyne Central Station

This elevated view of Newcastle upon Tyne’s Central Station is one of several panoramas that can be enjoyed if you are sprightly enough to climb the many stone steps and spiral staircases to the rooftop of Newcastle’s medieval Castle Keep.

Do take a look at what has inspired others for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week.

Peggy

Nature’s home

A jar of bright and colourful dahlias
A jar of Summer – bright and colourful Dahlias

I’ve spent the morning browsing seed catalogues and seed merchants websites, dreaming again of sunny days and Summer flowers … To be fair, our weather hasn’t been too wintry so far this Winter, though the wind has been rather wild this weekend.

As I’m browsing, I am also thinking about my New Year’s Resolution … to do whatever I can for our beleaguered planet. In choosing the flowers I will grow for Summer 2020, I intend to consciously choose varieties that actively support garden wildlife. I’m looking at nectar-rich blooms to feed our VIPs (Very Important Pollinators) – bees and hoverflies, butterflies and moths. But I am also looking ahead to the end-of-season seedheads that will enrich the diet of birds visiting the garden for food as the Autumn and Winter draw on.

Comma butterfly in sunshine
Comma butterfly

Usually in the vegetable patch I am looking to keep most animals out – especially rabbits.But one animal I would love to encourage into the garden is one of my very favourite creatures, the hedgehog. And I know I am not the only one. Here in the UK there are now a whole lot of hedgehog supporters … over 620,000 of us on Hugh Warwick’s petition to Help save Britain’s hedgehogs with ‘hedgehog highways’!

hedgehog eating on a road near a car
Endangered species – hedgehog

Hedgehog highways are a very simple idea, but hugely important for hedgehogs. One of the main reasons that hedgehogs have become so scarce in the UK is because we keep fencing off more and more bits of the landscape into smaller and smaller pieces.

The ‘hedgehog highways’ petition has been seeking to bring housing developers onboard to make sure that new housing is hedgehog-friendly. Of course, it is not only new housing that needs to be hedgehog-connected. The more of our gardens that are connected, the better for hedgehogs. Our hedgehogs only need a 13 cm hole in the bottom of a fence or garden wall that allows hedgehogs to move freely between gardens so they can find food or find a mate. (That’s about the size of a CD … if you remember those 😉 )

If you’d like to join the growing band of hedgehog supporters, doing your little bit for hedgehogs, you might like to take a stroll down Hedgehog Street to find more about Britain’s favourite animal. There’s an interactive map too, where you can log sightings of hedgehogs (now also available as a phone app, which is very handy).

Whether it’s bees, butterflies, birds, hedgehogs, or any of the other creatures with which we share our gardens, I’ll be looking to incorporate ideas on gardening for wildlife and there are plenty of ways of “Giving Nature a Home” over on the RSPB’s website too.

Peggy

Flowers for Friday

I love flowers. For me, flowers give so much, from the anticipation when sowing their tiny seeds to enjoying the beauty and scents of their full grown blooms. Then, there are some flowers that become so much a part of life, they are practically part of the family.

Christmas Cactus in bloom
Christmas Cactus

My fondness for the plant I know as the Christmas cactus spans several decades. From early Autumn, I begin watching out for the beginnings of tiny buds forming on its shiny dark green leaves. Gradually the buds fill out and then, usually just before Christmas, the bright fuschia pink flowers burst open.

I remember my very first Christmas cactus. It comprised of just two green leaves. I’d bought it from the plant stall at the church Christmas fair. I was an eight year old Brownie and the plant cost me 10 pence.

There were no flowers for a few years, but slowly, year by year, my two leaves grew into the fuschia flowering plant I now know so well.

My cactus plant has met a few mishaps along the way. Bits of it snapped off when it fell off the fridge in the first apartment my husband and I lived in. Bits of it “snapped off somehow” at the hands of our children too – it usually involved footballs or light sabers 😉

Many of these broken off pieces of cactus plant were then divided up into smaller cuttings and planted into potting compost in a small pot. Quite a few cuttings later is the plant you see in my photo.

I have several of these cactus plants, all grown from cuttings … that would have been taken from plants that themselves had started out as cuttings …

Some of my cuttings have developed into the most splendid specimens, about 2 feet across (that’s about 60cm), just like the original plant that fell off the fridge years ago.

Some plants are really so generous and can be so easily raised from cuttings from mature plants. For me, the Christmas cactus has always been one of those.

Peggy

Cee's Flower Of The Day banner
Cee’s Flower Of The Day

Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge: Moving Water

Waterfall on a woodland stream in black and white
Woodland stream waterfall

From busy streams (or ‘burns’ as we call them in our northern corner of England 😉 ) …

To white-topped waves …

Moving water has such a power to mesmerise us and hold our thoughts.

Sometimes peacefully babbling, sometimes an angry torrent, our favourite woodland stream is an old friend and always has something to say.

White water waves and cliffs at Marsden Bay
White waves at Marsden Bay

And then the sea …

How many hours have been whiled away gazing at the sea? I wonder. I know I will have added a few to that total myself.

Gently restless lapping on a sunny shore or foaming wild waters, crashing against cliffs, the sea always speaks of journeys – real or imagined – to far away places or just along the shoreline.

For more moving water images, do take a look at what others have posted for Cee’s Black and White Photo Challenge this week.

Peggy

2020 vision

The new Butterfly Bridge, River Derwent, Gateshead
The new Butterfly Bridge, River Derwent, Gateshead

I’m riding in a bus on the way to my opticians appointment as I write this post on my phone. New Year resolutions whir in my head. Avoid single use plastic. Focus forwards and stay positive. Use time wisely. But how?

The planet is in crisis. We have only one childhood left to make a difference. Australia is already burning … Jakarta is flooded …

I’m so glad I am not the only one pondering on how we begin to look ahead into 2020 and beyond without being overwhelmed by the craziness of it all.

As the bus drove along, I spotted an email in my inbox from the RSPB’s Conservation Director, a new blog post entitled “2020: why we must remain conditional optimists”. Intrigued, I opened it. Martin Harper explains that he first encountered the idea a couple of years back when the phrase was originally used by Professor Paul Romer on Earth Day 2017 to help explain his ideas on how we might face the challenge of decarbonisation on a global scale.

Professor Romer contrasted the ideas of complacent optimism against conditional optimism. With complacent optimism, we just wait and hope – will we receive what we want? However, conditional optimism is much more dynamic and makes us actors in achieving the result we want – especially when we work together.

Earth Day 2020 on 22nd April will be the 50th anniversary of this worldwide collaboration and mobilisation of people who care about the future of our planet and all its inhabitants. The theme this year will surprise no-one: climate action. Literally billions of people across the world will be doing stuff for Earth Day 2020. I’m sure they will be taking climate action on many other days too.

Earth Optimism“will be happening in Cambridge, in the UK, hosted by the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, a public event with Sir David Attenborough. Earth Optimism is all about celebrating, sharing and replicating the successes in nature conservation across the world. Everyone knows there is still plenty of work to do, but taking action to achieve what we would hope for is certainly a very positive step in the right direction and I will look forward to hearing more Earth Optimism stories in due course.

As expected, my optician confirmed that my vision had changed slightly so it’s new glasses time for me. I might not any longer have 2020 vision but I at least I do now feel that my vision for 2020 is becoming somewhat clearer. I will continue caring for the Earth in whatever ways I can.

As I was leaving the opticians and heading back through town to the bus station, I passed by a Newcastle upon Tyne Christmas institution – Fenwick’s window. Fenwick’s is a large department store in Newcastle and every December its large shop windows host an animated tale, a world from storytime, to delight children and Christmas shoppers. This year we have a glimpse into Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, with Quentin Blake’s illustrations beautifully rendered in animated models and tableaux.

So I will leave you with my image from Fenwick’s window – the scene where Charlie has entered the sweet shop to buy his famous chocolate bar. The Evening Gazette’s headline says it all …

Fenwick’s window – Christmas 2019: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

The “Last Golden Ticket still to be found”!

I think that sums up nicely how I felt as I started this post – can we find the Golden Ticket that will save the planet? And whilst I can’t claim that I have quite found it, I do believe it will be found …

… because literally billions of us are looking for it.

Best wishes for 2020. I hope you too have also found your reasons to be hopeful this year.

Peggy

P.S. The bridge photo I chose as the header to this post is called The Butterfly Bridge in Gateshead’s Derwent Valley. The bridge you see is the replacement for an older bridge that was washed away by floods on 6th September 2008.

Victorian rural railway bridge in snow monochrome

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Hot or Cold Things

Victorian rural railway bridge in snow monochrome
Victorian railway bridge trimmed with snow in our local woods
Snowy sunrise in sepia tones
Snowy Sunrise in Sepia

Snowy views have inspired me for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week. Black and white definitely feels cold in the view of the Victorian bridge. But I felt that the sepia tones really warmed up the snowy sunrise looking across our valley.

Now I’m off to take a look at what has inspired others for Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge this week …

Peggy

Happy New Year 2020

New Year’s dawn

A new year and a new decade … an excellent time for a new start to blogging.

I always feel that the tradition of looking back and looking forward as we head into a new year connects us down the centuries.

The month of January is named after the Roman god, Janus, the door-keeper of the heavens, with his two heads so he could look both forwards and backwards at the same time.

The Celtic Winter Solstice marks the astronomical turning point of the year, when the daylight is at its shortest and the night at its longest here in the Northern Hemisphere. However, astronomers can explain how this doesn’t mean that the days then immediately begin to lengthen as this is controlled by the Earth’s orbit of the sun and varies a bit depending on your exact latitude.

I think of this ’10 Days of Christmas’ period as the time when everything is slightly on pause – including being on holiday from work – making it an ideal time to reflect on where we have been and make plans for where the next year’s adventures will take us.

Happy New Year! May it be a good one!

Peggy