Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Strolling into Spring


Yesterday, while preparing the patio for a friend's visit, I snapped a few shots of the front entrance and surrounding garden. The sun was warm and inviting and the light was spectacularly bright. 

 Above is our herb and rock garden. We had originally planted oregano, thyme, rosemary, mint, laurel, lavender, and a few Cretan herbs used for aromatic teas. It is quite lush right now and the herbs fill the air with a minty freshness that floats along in the spring breeze. 


On the left, above, is how the herb garden looked when we first planted it, about four years ago. I can't believe how tall and full the Goldcrest cedar trees have grown! 


 Still to make an appearance is an intensely sweet and  exotic type of jasmine, which arrives with the start of summer. Here on the island, that could be any day now!  The strange thing is, we don't remember planting it - a gift from the gods, I guess!


My one and only lilac bloom! We planted two bushes three years ago. They prefer a cooler climate, so I consider myself lucky for this lone, nonetheless, lovely, lilac! After all, it only takes one to breathe in its intoxicating perfume.
Bottom left and top right: Callistemon, Bottom right: Metrosideros Excelsa
These prickly red stunners are magnificent in Mediterranean gardens. The Callistemon, which in Greek means 'good thread', also known as the bottle brush flower for its cylindrical shape, which, along with its look-alike, rounder sidekick, called Metrosideros Excelsa, accent the wavy stone border at our front entrance.
 
Left: Before, Right: Now


Our black wrought iron fence is now covered by the density of the cedars and Leyland cypresses. Although I appreciate the beauty and fullness of these evergreens, I also love the views of the vineyards and olive groves in the near distance.  It was either a little privacy or pretty views, and my husband, being practical and protective, insisted on the former. 



Fortunately, from the upstairs veranda we have panoramic views for miles, including the island of Dia, anchored in the Sea of Crete.



Paid a visit to our local flower nursery a few weeks ago and returned with some gorgeously robust red petunias to warmly welcome guests at the front door. 


Left: A small vineyard at our front gate, Middle: our Callistemon tree, Right: our Maple tree





The petite potted daisies situated on the patio are so adorable! I just had to give you a closer look at these mini pink petals that always make me smile!


Hope you enjoyed this little stroll
 around our spring garden.

Thanks for visiting,


xo

Poppy

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

MY 'Happy' Kitchen


Last October, I entered a contest on the very popular blog, Hooked On Houses, written by Julia. The contest is aptly titled, "Hooked On Your Kitchens", and we were asked to tell Julia what we loved about our kitchens and submit a few photos. I was intrigued, and so I did a little styling, snapped a few shots, among them some 'before and afters', and sent in my entry. I wrote, (and I quote) - can I quote myself - how surreal is that?


'This may sound strange, but, what I love most about my kitchen is the fact that it took four (!) years to build and thus, I appreciate it so much more. My husband, who is a contractor, got his carpenter to work on the kitchen whenever our funds allowed.


'Although frustrating, this condition not only taught me patience, but more importantly, appreciation.  It’s funny, but, sometimes I think it’s true that the longer you wait for something, the more you cherish it.'

BEFORE

Closed shutters, still to be delivered appliances and an absence of necessary knickknacks made the space feel cold, dark and uninviting, despite it being brand new.



Then, with sunlight streaming in through the windows, classical red and white checks for texture and bright and bold bric-√†-brac  lining the white shelves, you suddenly have a room that shines!


'Rich, earthy colours that echo those of the French countryside are used as sunny accents to complement the creamy white cabinetry and curvy open shelving, popular English country features.



'A little bit of whimsy thrown in for good measure, (the Mediterranean in me- can’t get too serious!), and voil√†, you have an eclectic, custom made kitchen that personifies its creator, a Greek Canadian expat, living on the island of Crete.


'And lastly,' I said, ending my description, 'It’s just a happy space that I love waking up to every morning!'. And just like that, I pressed 'send' and hoped for the best. Interestingly, about two months later, my kitchen was featured on Julia's blog and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Julia and her readers commented on how 'friendly' my kitchen looked, and for me, this was the nicest compliment I could have ever received. After all, who wouldn't want to be greeted by a cheery smile first thing in the morning?  And a cup of steaming hot coffee...And something sweet! And fresh flowers. A bouquet of happiness, indeed!


Well, that's my 'happy' kitchen. Hope you enjoyed the 
little tour. What do you love about your kitchen?

Thanks for visiting! xx
Poppy

Van Gogh, "Still Life: Red Poppies and Daisies"


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Guest Post: Mousehold Heath: Maria's Walk Through History and Heather

Mousehold Heath: www.geograph.org.uk

Today I’d like to share with you a post written by my very sweet and talented friend, Maria. We have been best friends since New Year’s Eve, 2000, which just happens to be the night we met! We clicked instantly and have been inseparable ever since, at least in spirit! You see, Maria and her family relocated to England a few years after our initial meeting, but lucky for me, the family visits Crete every summer and when it does, we spend quality time together, reminiscing, pondering, wondering, laughing and crying, all accompanied by our favourite dishes and Crete's dramatic sunsets. 


Maria

Maria, who is a teacher and postgraduate student, recently took a family trip to Mousehold Heath, a famous woodland and nature reserve near the town of Norwich, England. There, she found herself deeply mesmerized in its presence, reflecting on the area’s history, while rummaging through its hauntingly beautiful heathland.  Upon visiting her unique blog about pre-Elizabethan England, you will be further intrigued with her captivating style of writing, evident in her well researched essays discussing English history. I was truly taken by this memorable account of  her thoughts and feelings about the place, as I'm sure, you will be.  Enjoy!           
           
A view of Norwich from Mousehold Heath: norfolk.iwitness24.co.uk

Mousehold Heath

My Easter weekend in England was spent in Norfolk, mainly near and at the historic city of Norwich. It's a part of England I have always wanted to visit, specifically for its historic significance. Aside from the medieval relics and shrines which pilgrims from far and wide would visit, such as the Our Lady of Walsingham shrine, Norfolk contains sites where some of the most dramatic moments in English history occurred - one of which is Mousehold Heath. 


Arriving at the site, I felt a rush of anticipation and excitement at the thought of walking in the footsteps of thousands of brave men who camped and fought as part of a rebellion in the name of the common man against the forces of repression. In 1549, during the reign of Edward VI, Robert Kett and his men numbering in the region of 4000 engaged in a massive rebellion which verged on civil war against enclosures erected by the aristocracy and the landed gentry. Mousehold Heath was their camp site. Here they remained for weeks, camped in defiance of the law and the army. They slaughtered local livestock for their survival and organised their next plan of action. Ultimately, their rebellion was crushed under Protector Somerset's leadership by the Earl of Warwick and an army of 14,000 men including foreign mercenaries. The men were slaughtered and those who were captured were hung, drawn and quartered. 

www.pre-elizabethanengland.blogspot.com


As I walked with my family and friends through the woodland, I knew they were oblivious to my thoughts and sentiments. I felt a sense of detachment and isolation in my preoccupation as I contemplated the magnitude of what had once occurred in this beautiful and peaceful woodland park. Ghostly apparitions - products of my over-active imagination - presented themselves in various spots. Here they lit a fire. There they slaughtered a cow. Around the corner they trained in armed combat, while next to them men sharpened their weapons. These ancient apparitions seemed somehow strangely tranquil and benign in the peaceful serenity of Easter Sunday, 2013. Their presence was not one of turbulence and anticipated doom, but one of hope and liberation. In my romantic mind's eye I envisioned Spartan-like brave warriors preparing for the ultimate sacrifice.  

www.pre-elizabethanengland.blogspot.com

My family's laughter and chatter rudely interrupted my pensive mood, when a friend discovered a rope attached to a tree branch with a piece of wood tied at the end in the shape of a swing's seat. They took it in turn to jump on the rope and swing before jumping off. Such happy, frivolous playfulness - similar to countless other examples of families and children who grew up in the area and have visited the site for leisure and exploration. I wondered how many of these casual visitors ever stopped to contemplate the plight of Robert Kett and his rebels? Or is it just the indulgence of the occasional sensitive history enthusiasts, who seek to walk in the footsteps of ancestors while recreating dramatic moments in their mind's eye?

'Heather and Gorse', Vivienne Bradshaw

Thank you Maria for an intriguing account 
of your adventure at Mousehold Heath!

Thanks for visiting, everyone!


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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

BETWEEN THE BUDS AND BEYOND

Yesterday morning, we planted two terracotta jardinieres of pink daisies and 'invisible' gardenias on the patio, along with a tiny blue pot of carnations and an extra large one of basil. 
This afternoon, I spent some quiet time out in the garden, leafing through a magazine, occasionally looking up from the beautiful photos to gaze at the bold bursts of colour and soft and dainty shapes that surrounded me.
And every spring, I'm always amazed at how the red and pink geraniums, which were planted four years ago, always arrive first, without fail, without sufficient rainfall, and seemingly, without effort. If these power flowers could talk, I don't think they would ever complain about anything; they just get on with it, resilient and forgiving!
Even when they're sandwiched between an overgrown and overbearing cluster of lilies and a tangled mass of stringy jasmine, not to mention a weak, but determined grapevine, these low key lovelies just keep calm and carry on.
And that's exactly what I did, as I leaned back into my chair, stretched out my legs and closed my eyes, the warm and comforting rays of the sun soothing my soul, while birds sang a sweet song and farmers ploughed their fields, in the near distance, beyond. A beautiful bouquet of sights, sounds and smells naturally wrapped up in wonder and awe!
Thanks for visiting,

Poppy

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