A Celebration and a Giveaway.

We recently returned from a family holiday in The Lake District where we did a little walking and visited old haunts. The weather had finally turned from bitingly cold to warmer and wetter, more typically bright and breezy days. The fells were dotted with newborn lambs and daffodils dutifully danced in the breeze.

It was my first time to climb to the top of Orrest Head; that is me in the photograph, hanging on for dear life as it was extremely windy and head staggeringly high, although the image looks deceptive. The view from the top is wonderful and you can see for miles in all directions. Hills, mountains, lakes and valleys with Lake Windermere being the closest. Wainwright said of this place “Those few hours on Orrest Head cast a spell that changed my life forever”.

I have always loved the Lake District and have fond memories of childhood visits with my parents and later as a pupil. Our school had a house on the shores of Lake Coniston and we would stay there on field trips. Years later we went as students and visited Dove Cottage. It was the garden at Dove Cottage that made a lasting impression on me, so much so that I was reluctant to visit again in case the spell was broken. It was the home of the poet Wordsworth where he lived with his sister Dorothy and it was here that she wrote her now famous journal and shared the delights of her beloved garden.

I particularly loved the view of the garden from the little kitchen window. The garden is very steep and climbs up the hillside in such a way as to present the viewer with a green tapestry, filling the window frame with layer upon layer of lush vegetation. This time it was daffodils but the first time I went the entire garden seemed to have been embroidered with wild strawberries. When you climb to the top of the garden path you can see way above the rooftops to Grassmere and the surrounding mountains. Wordsworth loved this place and referred to it as “a love within a love”.

I wonder if Dorothy would have kept a blog had she been alive today? She certainly had many interests; her love of nature, her garden and poetry would have been well suited to the medium of the blog. All of which brings me to my little celebration; on the 25th of this month this little blog will be five years old! I have never been very good at journal keeping and any diary I have attempted to write has been short lived, so it has been interesting to look back on the past five years via these posts. I thought it called for something of a celebration and so I am having a little give away. On offer is a “Little Lamb” (see above) print of an illustration I did for “A Book of Days” which was first published in 1984. Goodness how time flies, my work is now vintage!
You can read a little more about the print here in my Etsy shop.

If you wish to take part in the giveaway, please leave me a comment indicating your wish to do so. If you have a special place that you hold dear maybe you would like to share it with us? I will choose a winner on Sunday May 5th.


  1. Hi Valerie! Congratulations on your 5th year of blogging! I am a huge fan of your works and would love to participate and be amongst the many hopefuls to win your wonderful art. Looking forward to more of your magical illustrations! ~Charisse

  2. I am sure Dorothy would have been a blogger - she was always quite forward thinking and she was a communicator in her time. Wouldn't it have been exciting to read?
    Of course I would love to be include in your give away - I absolutely love your drawing and your sense of design.
    As for favourite place - well I am a Lincolnshire lass - Lincolnshire, as I am sure you know, is flat, flat and flat - but that does not stop me loving every inch of it. Perhaps my favourite is those long fen roads that go on for ever with dykes on the side and not a hedge in sight - boring to some but home to me.

  3. I would be honored to win this adorable work of art. My favorite place is my study in the cozy chair with a book of poems. The lap cat Sunny is with me.

  4. Hello Valerie,
    I also enjoy your work and blogs,
    I do have a 'magical spot' mine is Dartmoor, Devon, Cragg torr to be precise, I hike their alone every time we go with just my 2 dogs for company..... I'm anxious to visit again, as last July I fell and broke my leg and found myself stranded alone with my dogs miles from anywhere.... It was a harrowing time, I'm worried how il be out alone next time, so my partner will accompany me the next time so i may build my confidence up.... And find the very spot my accident occurred.
    I love it up there, I rarely see a single sole (that's how i like it).
    I'd love to be in with a chance to win :-)

    Best wishes

  5. Congratulations on your blog-iversary! I love the perspective in this painting - feels like I could walk right into the frame and hug the little lamb! Wish me luck. ;)

  6. Happy 5th Blogiversary! I love your little lamby print with all my favorite colors. Please include my name in your generous giveaway drawing. Thank you, Valerie!

  7. Ahhhhh, I sigh with starry eyes thinking of the Lake District...
    I hold my memories of our trip to England VERY dear...I hope I get a chance to make more one day, I'd so love to return.
    Congrats on your Blogiversary!
    I'd LOVE to be entered in your give away! Melody :))))

  8. Love your artwork! And I love little lambies! And spring flowers! I have several special places.....the American west for one. Especially Yellowstone National Park and the Tetons. And Door County Wisconsin in the midwest. I would love to see your print hanging in my home!

  9. Hi Valerie,
    I love your little lamb - my grandson has become very fond of lambs and wants one for his own to care for - not possible where they live! You know I enjoy your blog and seeing you on facebook!

  10. Count me in please! Lovely little lamb, I particularly like the cowslips. I went with school to stay in some cottages just up from lake Coniston, fabulous times we had, I have walked up the 'Old Man of Coniston' in the snow, and sailed and canoed on the lake in the summer of '76, what a summer, the Lake District had never known such a dry period, happy times! I can't pick out one place that is special, the Yorkshire Dales comes high on my list though. Looks like you had a good trip.

  11. Love that lamb, I have followed your blog for ages and love it. I am getting a bit more sporadic with my blogging as I get older and have less to stay. We did visit beatrice Potters house and garden when in the UK, she was a relative of my husband and loved it. We didnt get to Dove cottage, but here in Oz I grew up with swallows and amazons.
    My favorite place would mean little to you, but here in South Australia, Kangaroo Island is my favorite, from our visit for our honeymoon 54 years ago, camping and scuba diving with our children to now, a week over Christmas walking the beaches.

  12. Congratulations on the five years. Blogging is the same as journal keeping I imagine all the diary keepers would have been bloggers. Mmm Favourite places... well the Lakes are beautiful, I also love the Dales and the Moors, hard to pick really everywhere has its special charms don't you think? I am partial to Sydney, where I live and as autumn is trying to make an appearance I am very happy, strangely all my spring bulbs are up.

  13. When I was in high school, I rescued a lamb that had somehow gotten on the wrong side of a pasture fence. Its mother was baa-ing and it was bleating frantically, so I just scooped it up and put it back over the fence as quickly as possible. The memory of it, light-as-a-feather and oh so soft, is a sense memory in my arms even after 50 years. (I call my husband Lambie because he's just as sweet!)

  14. I think it's wonderful that you have kept your blog going for five years. That is a major accomplishment! I love your art and have been following you for a while now. I am hoping that your sweet little lamb will come to live with me. Thank you for generously hosting a giveaway.

  15. Happy 5th Anniversary of VG blogging! An occasion for cake perhaps? I look forward to more of your beautiful posts, which are always something for the eye and the soul.
    Please count me in for the lovely Lamb print!
    No doubt it is nothing compared to the Lake District, but I do like certain lookouts from the ravine trails here, the rustle of trees down down to the winding braided creeks, muting the sounds of nearby suburbia.

  16. Happy 5th Anniversary! I'm not good with words, but I enjoy sharing my photos on my blog. I don't have a special place other than out in nature. No matter where you are, there are always so many interesting things to see. Please enter me into your giveaway. Have a lovely day!

  17. I love the smile of victory on your face as you cling on to your hat. What a wonderful place to visit.
    My favourite places are generally beaches in Cornwall and quiet coves or even warm sand dunes.
    It's a beautiful little picture xx

  18. A very Happy Fifth Blogging Anniversary to you, Valerie.

    I do hope to visit the Lakes District one day. I've also got lots of beautiful places that I grant special places in my own memory lane. However, for current visits, I think I'd have to name Central Park's Shakespeare Garden...in all seasons.

    Please do add me to the drawing for your beautiful Lamb print.


  19. Hi Valerie..I think my special place is The Killarney Lakes in Ireland...something about water that draws us isn't there?
    I am the same as far as journal keeping...I have many half filled books and this is the first time I've been consistent in keeping a log of my daily life. I think part of it is that I need a place to put all of my photos! Maybe it's the sharing with others that I enjoy and finding out what other people are up to in other parts of the world...sharing creativeness and ideas...kindred souls.
    p.s if my name happens to be lucky enough to be chosen, please choose another name since I've already been blessed with one of your giveaways.

  20. Just popping by to say congratulations on your 5 years of blogging. Please don't enter my name into the give-away as, like Kerry above, I have already been the recipient of a most lovely gift from one of your previous give-aways. You look very windswept but very happy to have reached the top of Orrest Head:)

  21. Hello, I was sent over by adventures in thread, your work is very lovely. Thanks for a chance at the giveaway!!
    smjohns63 at yahoo dot com

  22. Your blog is lovely and congratulations on your fifth birthday! I would love to win your little lamb...it would remind me of a precious week I spent with my daughter in the Lakes District. I'm from Ausralia and she had gone to London for work experience so you can imagine how wonderful to have this visit with her in such a beautiful spot. I have lovely photos of the walks we took, the amazing views! Dove Cottage with daffodils I recall........
    Thankyou for this opportunitym Mrs A

  23. Hello, my Friend. I was thinking of you this morning...you were just there in my mind. ((hugs)) I just now visited your blog and enjoyed every word you wrote. These pictures are so intriguing. Your artwork fills my eyes.

    Have a lovely lovely day, my Friend!

  24. Oh! And Happy Fifth Anniversary. If I ever happen to be able to go overseas--I would so love to visit a place which could be "embroidered with wild strawberries..."

  25. Hi Valerie,
    Thank you for your wonderful blog posts. I feel grateful to have found your blog and your artwork. I found a used copy of your book of Days and it is pure magic. Congratulations on 5 years of blog journalling.

  26. Congratulations on your 5-year anniversary. I have truly enjoyed reading your blog and getting peeks at your wonderful artwork. I also love the views of England that you share. I would love to participate. Thank you.

  27. Hello Valerie,

    I absolutely love your photos of the Lake District.. I would love to see this magical place B. Potter called her home. How very lucky that you have been to this beautiful area so many times..

    Your Lamb poster is absolutely beautiful... You are such a very talented lady.. Have a lovely week.. Hugs judy

  28. I love your style of painting and would be honored to win one of your illustrations! I enjoyed your tour in the Lake District. If I ever get to England I've always planned to visit Dove Cottage. I did not realize that Dorothy's journal had been published. I see I can get one through my library. Thanks for mentioning it.

  29. Oh yes, absolutely, Dorothy W. would have been a blogger!

    We are blessed are we not to live in such a beautiful county ... I love the Lakes too, and Suffolk, and Somerset and, oh so many other places ... how can one pick a favourite?!

  30. Valerie, Well, you know that I envy your closeness to the Lake District, Oh that I could see it! But since I can't, at present, I would say that My favorite place is right in my own back yard, so to speak. If I just follow an old logging trail into the woods, I come upon a magical hollow, where ferns grow nearly hip high in the hundreds. The earth is black and rich, where it isn't covered in dozens of forms of mosses and lichens,and it is dead quiet, not a bird sound, not a twitter.... just peace and serenity.
    May you blog for many more years, I am pretty sure Dorothy would have blogged as well.

  31. It is amazing how quickly five years can go, good to look back on when it is recorded on a blog.
    Glad to see you have enjoyed staying in the Lake District and of course being a tourist visiting lovely places. It will no doubt be a busy bank holiday weekend, so hope the weather stays good so people can enjoy their time and see it at its best. I am giving my time to gardening and admiring the views.

  32. Beautiful little lamb, Valerie, but I'm way too late for the draw. This is such a lovely post - all new to me living on the other side of the world. I didn't even know Dorothy had written a garden journal so now I'll have to find a copy. I'm sure it would be wonderful to read about her garden.