- At the start of the month we "discovered" a little gem of a place less than twenty minutes up the road from where we live - Oakwell Hall & Country Park. Having lived in the same area for 35 years, it's crazy to think that we could have a 110 acre public space complete with woodland walks, nature trails, cafes, a walled garden and a gift shop, practically on our doorstep and not be aware of its existence...but it turns out that truth really is stranger than fiction. We had a lovely ramble through the woods and fields just to get our bearings and figure out the lie of the land for future visits...
...and then called at the cafe for a cup of coffee and a cheeky KitKat. Although I'd have to vacate the premises, never to return, if I ever saw a rat in my house, I quite enjoyed watching this sleek-looking youngster vying with the sparrows for some fallen cake crumbs by a neighbouring bench (wisely giving the rat bait station next to the cafe a very wide berth). My husband was not at all impressed by my reasoning that in a rural, outdoor setting (i.e. not inside my house) it's basically just a squirrel without the floofy tail, isn't it?!
- On the home front, August was a great month for daily mini-harvests of carrots, tomatoes, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries from the garden. There's nothing I like more than a little handful of home-grown goodness to start the day - most of it gathered from pots and containers just outside the back door - fast food at its finest!
- In my ongoing personal quest to find the best pinafore/tunic/apron pattern for layering over and under things all year round, I made myself a Sew Liberated Studio Tunic from charity-shop-bought curtain fabric. This is a really well-designed pattern, very enjoyable to sew, and very comfortable to wear. I absolutely LOVE the massive pockets - they're a complete game-changer in those moments where you have something to take upstairs, or put away, or 'deal with in a minute', because you can just slip whatever it is (phone, 'to-do' list, book, secateurs, wool, empty cup etc.) into your pocket rather than putting it down, forgetting about it and/or having to hunt for it later.
From a purely perfectionist point of view I think I 'messed up' with the right hand pocket by (a) cutting the first one from an area of fabric with a big stain in the middle, then (b) absent-mindedly cutting a left hand pocket to replace it, thus leaving myself (c) just enough fabric for a third and final attempt, which resulted in a rather obvious (to me) pattern repetition front and centre (the cluster of orange berries). I also think I need to come down a size or two when (not if) I make another. I like my clothes to be loose fitting/comfortable, and it's designed to be very 'roomy', but when you could probably slip a padded jacket underneath it and still have wriggle room you know you've gone too far!
- In mid-August I discovered that a dozen or more spiders had set up a crèche around the inside rim of my garden-waste wheelie-bin. I lifted the lid to put some grass cuttings and ivy trimmings in, and they all clasped their little blue egg-sacs to their bosoms in horror, and clung on for dear life. I really agonised about whether to put the bin out for collection that week, but I wasn't sure how long the incubation stage would be, and the bin was pretty full. I did a few emergency practice drills with them over the next few days, opening and closing the lid from time to time, and in the end most of them lived to tell the tale of the Great Rumbling and Tumbling Upside-Down Earthquake Adventure on the day the bin lorry came...
...and then just two weeks later, by the time the next bin collection was due, the spiderlings emerged from their sacs, and scampered away, leaving their poor dehydrated and exhausted mothers to finally rest, in peace...or rather to rest in peace, finally.
Towards the end of the month we went to a little weekend craft market at Kirkstall Abbey. Some of the normally locked-off areas were open, so we had a wander through, admiring the skill and artistry that had gone into the ancient stonework...
...and I bought a clever little beaded spider at the fair. Goodness knows I love a recurring theme!
So to finish as I started, with a rodent sighting, I looked out of the kitchen window yesterday and spotted a parent mouse teaching a baby mouse how to access the coconut shell bird feeder in the hedge. My reaction to this was another example of my complete double standards when it comes to little furry creatures. Outside my house = 'delightful Beatrix Potter idyll', inside my house = 'waking nightmare, Lord of the Rings "You shall not pass!" scenario'. I know this is completely irrational, contradictory and capricious of me, but we are where we are. As long as they play along with my fantasy that they are 'outdoors mice, who live in the ivy on the garage', and as long as I don't find any droppings in the cupboard under the sink (or worse still catch sight of one scurrying across my kitchen floor late in the evening) then we can coexist in perfect harmony...but once that fragile illusion is shattered, as it occasionally is when the colder, darker, Autumn nights start drawing in, then the traps come out, battle lines are drawn, and the XXS Cat dog runs and hides in her bed upstairs, praying for Spring to come soon.