But we did get out on Saturday for a nice walk and some very welcome fresh air and I wanted to post the photographs I took, if only so that I can find them again. That is, if the new 'streamlined' Blogger interface will allow me. If it's as slow and tedious as the last post I made proved to be, I may well not include many images after all!
Please click on any photographs to see a larger view. If your browser has the option, clicking to open in a new tab or window will allow you to see it at the full size I prepared it at.
The young pine trees were all exploding with vibrant new foliage. Trees in the better light were further progressed, but those in deeper shadow still bore their little papery sheaths over the new growth of needles. The green of the emerging needles was almost unnaturally bright and in stark contrast to the darker older growth. As I understand it, they only grow in this manner as young trees, developing needles differently as they age?
It's a Lancashire County Council run forest park with a visitor centre, toilets, cafe that also serves ice creams (we had one and made like we were on holiday), lots of car parking salted throughout the woodland (and even using the main car park only costs £1 GB Pound per day) and an infinite variety of walking, with miles of well made paths snaking and criss-crossing through the trees and adjacent moorland - meaning that you can walk as much or little as you wish - with many paths with disabled access, there's something suitable for everyone. It's our default 'day out' location as it's about 20 miles from home, has everything we need, is open all year and I suspect that we often head there, because the drive to it is a pleasure in itself. Perhaps our favourite time is in winter; on crisp clear days, especially mid-week, when we often have the place much to ourselves. Sunny summer Sundays, not so much.
This little group of beech trees were just opening into leaf and catching a ray of sunshine - very momentarily - through the dense trees. The colour was pure optimism; the brightest freshest perfect green of a new generation, in sharp relief to the brown of their past-foliage underneath, which will go on to decay and nourish the tree for the future.
We've visited so often over very many years (Mr Boo was in a Scout party that helped lay some of the paths, over 40 years ago) that we must now have seen it in every possible weather and time of year. But each time we visit, there's something different of interest and each season has its own particular pleasures.
This weekends particular pleasure was that gorgeous emergence of spring flowers and early foliage, when everything is at its most pristine, with the promise of summer to come, but before leaves have been ravaged by weather and insects - when everything is at the most perfect and the colours most intense and vibrant.
In looking through my wild flower books to identify the plant above, I was struck by the gorgeous names of old fashioned English wild flowers, such evocative and descriptive names as Mouse-ear Hawkweed, Lady's Bedstraw, Nipplewort, Frogbit and Butcher's Broom.
Most of the ground in clearings and path edges amongst the coniferous areas had a new bright green carpet of Bilberry bushes with their gorgeous, almost hidden, tiny bell-shaped flowers in a delicate translucent red - what my wild flower book called "nodding globular flowers". I really couldn't do them justice and was struggling to even focus properly on them as they truly were nodding in the very brisk breeze, whole branches moving several inches back and forth, so this is the best I managed. They're so pretty, it's well worth bending down and turning back a few leaves to have a look at them - they look like berries at a casual glance.
After our walk, as it was drawing close to the time that they lock the gates on the smaller in-tree car parks, we relocated to one of the quieter road-side spots with a good view, to have a bite to eat and a warm drink and we parked next to a field with a handful of sheep, each with a single lamb. They must have thought that we were 'the man' that brings their supper as they all came galloping over, baa-ing loudly for their supper and were a little put-out that we obviously weren't who they'd hoped to see.
I worked on two significant - and rather different - projects this week - one was to create some more copper clay components for designs I have in mind. It's the sort of work where I have to work in sessions amongst other work, as it takes time to dry enough to handle for filing and shaping, then it needs a little longer to dry thoroughly until it can be fired - then that process ends a little drawn out as I do them in small batches as I'm torch firing - then pickle and polish etc. etc. This is a batch of finished components between filing and firing; I can't resist polishing them a little to reveal the metal appearance as it gives me a better idea of how they might look as finished.
I had a couple of orders for rings this week, so once I had my eye in and was set up for ring making, I made a few more to replenish my craft fair stock - going back to earlier designs that I haven't made for a while. I don't know how I feel about making rings - I enjoy the process in itself, but worry about the whole sizing issue - perhaps because my fingers change size a dozen times a day and I rarely wear fashion rings for that reason. So I worry about someone getting a ring I've made and not being able to wear it, even though I know it was sent the size they ordered - what if they measured wrong themselves, or their fingers swell as much as mine do? Earrings a little longer or shorter than expected wouldn't be a deal-breaker, but a ring has to be spot on.
Of the designs I've made over the last few days, I think I might now offer a few of the more repeatable designs on-line and see how they are received. I'm happy to sell them at craft fairs as people can simply try them on and choose one they like, but on-line has always felt more problematic and a little uncomfortable. The wire wrapped rings are the ones I've sold in person in the past as they can be made with any bead with a hole and inexpensively enough for impulse treats.
I love the colour of these Czech pressed melon beads against the copper and have enough to offer these as made to order rings, along with the more delicate rosebud knot 'stacker' variant of my hammered band ring, as shown below. I'll see how I feel about them in a few days time.