Sunday, 31 October 2010

Samhain Blessings

It’s Samhain at last! Time to celebrate the end of the harvest and also contemplate the cycle of death and rebirth as the cold, winter darkness looms.

The veil between our world and the spirit realm is at its thinnest tonight…

A sacred time for celebrating the memory of departed loved ones and honouring our ancestors…

Samhain marked the start of the New Year in the Celtic calendar, so this is a wonderful opportunity for letting go of anything that is holding you back. Look instead to the future and focus on the positive attributes you wish to bring into your life.

Wishing you all a very blessed and magical Samhain!

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

An Ode to Autumn

“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimmed their clammy cell.” (read more)
~ John Keats, Ode To Autumn

“Go, sit upon the lofty hill,
And turn your eyes around,
Where waving woods and waters wild
Do hymn an autumn sound.
The summer sun is faint on them -
The summer flowers depart -
Sit still - as all transform’d to stone,
Except your musing heart.” (read more)
~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning, The Autumn

“O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,

Yellow, and black, and pale, and hectic red,
Pestilence-stricken multitudes: O thou,
Who chariotest to their dark wintry bed

The winged seeds, where they lie cold and low,
Each like a corpse within its grave, until
Thine azure sister of the Spring shall blow

Her clarion o’er the dreaming earth, and fill
(Driving sweet buds like flocks to feed in air)
With living hues and odours plain and hill:

Wild Spirit, which art moving everywhere;
Destroyer and preserver; hear, oh hear!” (read more)

~ Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ode to the West Wind

Friday, 22 October 2010

Flower Power Friday

“More than anything, I must have flowers, always, always.”
~ Claude Monet

“The flower that smells the sweetest is shy and lowly.”
~ William Wordsworth

“In joy or sadness, flowers are our constant friends.”
~ Kozuko Okakura

Saturday, 16 October 2010

A Bewitching Halloween Party

Beware the little black bunny in the witchy hat. She may look sweet and innocent, but don’t be fooled by that twitching nose and cutesy little tail, for the Countess…

and her fearsome sidekick, would happily have you for breakfast…

Together they rule with an iron paw from the lofty heights of their velvety castle, and every Halloween throw a spooktacularly creepy party where nothing is quite what it seems. Two human servants cater to their every whim, not least the Countess’s gruesome habit of bathing daily in carrot juice to keep her fur so beautifully soft and silky. Rumour has it she’s a rather distant cousin of Erzsébet Báthory.

Her lady-in-waiting has been working fiendishly hard this week preparing for the party and ‘tis feared she may have muddled her wheatgrass shots with absinthe. It’s not the first time this has happened and would certainly explain a thing or two!

And so without further ado, you are most welcome at this darkly enchanted Halloween party! Come and meet the other guests and help yourself to an array of magical nibbles – all unbaked for the undead…

The eye of newt pâté is really quite delicious washed down with a glass of the finest vintage venom…

Or maybe a cup of witches’ brew and a Green Goblin Cupcake will enchant your tastebuds?

The Brain Splatter Cupcakes are to die for…

Fancy a slice of the Rest in Torment Pie? It’s truly out of this world…

Thanks for stopping by our macabre Halloween Party! Please excuse the unruly behaviour of some of the guests…

They’re only allowed out once a year and like to live it up a little…

(Photos © M. Ellis and P. Jordan)

And last but not least, a huge thank you to the wonderful Vanessa at A Fanciful Twist blog for organising today’s ghoulish event – click here to read Miss V’s party post and for links to the entire list of Halloween cyber-partiers.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Prelude to a Party

Just a quick reminder that we’re participating in Saturday’s Halloween blog party organised by Vanessa of A Fanciful Twist. The Mad Tea Party back in June was brilliant fun, and since Halloween is my favourite festival of the year by far, I’ve been whipping up some weird and positively unsightly raw dessert creations like a woman possessed!

Feeling in need of a little atmospheric music, I stumbled across this haunting Darklily video on YouTube last night – hope you enjoy it too, the magician sequences are pretty cool…

Anyhow, check back on Saturday for some party pics :-)

Friday, 8 October 2010

Fungi Friday

We’ve had a brilliant summer for fungi, but the sight (and smell!) of this impressive fairy ring really made my day last Sunday…

Glorious fly agarics beneath an ancient birch near Audley’s Castle on the shores of Strangford Lough

Although rain-battered now, they must have looked awesome in their prime…

The birch tree itself, was every bit as enchanting as the fly agarics…

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Snooping Around

Filming is currently underway at a number of locations in Northern Ireland for Game of Thrones, HBO’s upcoming television adaptation of George R. R. Martin’s medieval fantasy A Song of Ice and Fire. We’ve been out and about the past two weekends trying to catch a glimpse of the sets in Tollymore Forest Park and Castle Ward estate. Having read all of GRRM’s novels, my other half is a devoted fan and taking great pleasure in speculating on what’s being filmed where – I’m tagging merrily along, ever hopeful of running into Aidan Gillen or Sean Bean. You can catch up on all the latest filming news and rumours aplenty at the Winter Is Coming blog, and also see some photos we’ve contributed (right click here and here to view).

Below are a few of my pics from Castle Ward (taken Sunday 3rd Oct).

This archway could have been standing for centuries. It’s incredibly realistic, blending perfectly with the existing stone walls…

The next two images show part of the castle courtyard set-up for Winterfell – in the first shot, you can just about see a wolf statue in the doorway. They were taken through gaps in a timber-panelled gate, so unfortunately not the best quality…

A tantalising glimpse of Winterfell

Another section of the set, again tying in well with the original stone towers and outbuildings…

I really hope someone gives the Castle Ward donkeys a walk-on part – don’t they look desperate for international stardom?

A little muddy, but blissfully happy on a warm October morning!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Fly With Abandon

There’s something about turquoise that makes my soul sing. It looks a million dollars against sun-tanned skin and in the depths of winter can lift the spirits on even the gloomiest of days.

I was listening to Morcheeba’s ‘Dive Deep’ album before starting this necklace and ‘Enjoy the Ride’ (featuring Judie Tzuke) really stuck in my head - it always does every time I hear it! To me this song is about keeping it simple and living in the moment, a gentle reminder to not become bogged down in all the crap life throws at us and just enjoy the ride…

“With the moonlight to guide you
Feel the joy of being alive
The day that you stop running
Is the day that you arrive”
~ Morcheeba, Enjoy the Ride

(The full lyrics are available here).