Friday, 18 December 2009

So winter is finally upon us and a conundrum for you.

This is the view from the office this morning, not as bad as I had expected but it seems to be causing the usual chaos out there. Our christmas tree blew over twice yesterday, once I have sorted it out I will post some pictures of our Christmas efforts.

I have had an interesting week I went down to London for a work meeting. As most of you regular readers will have worked out I am a homeworker for a major company. This was the first time I had seen my boss on in fact anyone from my team since September 2008 yes 2008! The company has had a travel ban in place to save money which is OK but the effect has been to make workers like myself feel very isolated and vunerable.

My Christmas present from Sharron arrived whilst I was in London so the postman left it next door. I think Ron was a bit puzzled by a very thin light 2m long package, he found somewhere out of the rain to keep it dry which was quiet funny as it is designed to get very wet! What is it? I will tell you after Christmas as it would spoil the surprise , but it's not for use in the garden and it gets just as wet in the sun as the rain?

And finally,

Q. Why did Frostie move to the mid Atlantic?

A. Becuase Snowman is an island.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Global warming? And big changes

I have always been a firm believer in global warming and have seen lots of evidence to support it, earlier flowering, survival of tender plants, but I wasn't expecting to still be picking tomatoes from an unheated Cambridgeshire greenhouse in December! So far this year we have had one very light frost, both the Willow trees in the garden are still in leaf and the tulips are already coming up.

Also in the greenhouse are these sweetpeas I have started off for next year. I will let them grow on a bit before pinching them out. They will then either stay in the greenhouse over winter or get moved out to a coldframe.

I went a bit mad buying bulbs for next summer. I bought about 80 alliums, which seemed a good idea at the time, then I had to find places to plant them all. I think next June the garden will be nothing but purple globes, oh well never mind!

Last night we had the last meeting of the 'Village in Bloom' group we have decided that it had run it's course as the amount of interest in the village has waned.. In it's place we have launched a new conservation based group called Natural Woodhurst. We intend to apply for some conservation grants to help fund some local projects as well as working with local volunteers. In fact we have already started some of the projects, we had a seed collection event with the aim of growing native species to repopulated some local hedgerows. We have also been working on projects in our village conservation area and with a couple of ponds in the village. So what of the 'In Bloom" competition? Well, we will still be maintaining the various planters and flowerbeds in the village and if we feel like entering the event we will, it just won't be the main priority anymore, in fact we may well be looking at other schemes that recognise our enviromental efforts more.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

The problem with colour blindness

I took this shot yesterday morning between the showers, after all the storms of the last few days they are still a few leaves hanging on the walnut. We have had a lot of rain but nothing like they have had in the North. Most of the rivers around her, principally the Great Ouse will burst their banks in the next few days, but this is normal and infact essential as it supplys nutrients to the fields or levels as they are known, I will get some photo's this year to show you.

As regular readers will know we are in the long process of decorating the house, well the current project is the staircase. The last stage of was to be laying a new carpet. Last Tuesday was the day, Sharron was away in Leeds when the man arrived to lay the bit on the landing at the top of the stairs. I chatted to him as he lay it it looked really good, if a little lighter than I thought it would, but the light at the top of the stairs is not good. Anyway when Sharron got back, excited to see the progress, she took one look and told me it was the wrong carpet. In fact when we checked with the supplier it wasn't even made by the same manufacturer! I felt a total idiot but in my defence my memory for colour is hopeless as is my ability to match shades of greens, browns and reds. we have painted part of the staircase Olive (I know this as it say's so on the tin) depending on the lighting it is either green, muddy brown or dark grey. Anyway the carpet people were really nice and are going to replace it soon.

I am a tennis widower again this week, Sharron is working as an official at the ATP masters at the O2 in London. I always miss her when she is away but at least I only need to turn the TV on to see her.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Spoils of toil

The 'in bloom' group (soon to be renamed) had designated yesterday morning to finish clearing the beds at the entrance to the village. This is part of a project which I am in charge of to regenerate the area. The major task yesterday was to remove a very large dogwood, we removed one a few weeks ago so I new what we were in for. Anyway it took me 2 hours with a mattock to get it out. Rather than dump it we relocated it at the back of the site behind some silver birches, I thought the winter contrast of the white trunks against the red stems of the dogwood would look good. Whilst I dealt with the dogwood Andy my colleague was clearing one of the herbaceous beds. As you can see from the photograph he removed a lot of plants. This is the barrow load that I rescued. It contains a hebe, several clumps of flag iris and a lot of euphorbia all of which are destined for a new home in my garden. All gardeners enjoy aquiring free plants so you can imagine how I felt taking this load home.

After all the high winds and rain of the last few days the house and garden appear remarkably unscathed. In fact the only damage I know of in the village was a friends flagpole snaped off within the tabernacle (the base of a wooden flagpole), I am please to say plans are already afoot to replace it as it is a bit of a village landmark.

Friday, 13 November 2009

A wet Friday

Greetings from a wet and miserable Cambridgeshire, as you can see the leaves on the Walnut are turning a lovely autumnal hue. The more observant will also see that the blue plastic bag that was stuck in the tree in spring is STILL there, although it is gradually breaking up.

Last evening I went down to London, Sharron was having a leaving drink as she is changing job's so I thought it would be nice to go and meet the members of her old team I hadn't met before. To get to London took about an hour on the train into Kings Cross and then I walked down to The Globe theatre on Bankside next to Tate Modern on the South of the Thames where they were meeting which took about 40 mins. I don't go down to London very often. Since we moved here 3 years ago I had always lived and worked there. Now when I go there I feel depressed, the noise , congestion, and just the taste of air makes me feel so lucky that we live where we do. It is strange how quickly you change, my pace of life has definitely slowed down and I just can't handle all that frenetic rushing about anymore, I just can't see the point.

Anyway when I got to the bar it was really nice to meet her old team and even nicer to find that several of them read this blog. I actually spent most of evening discussing gardening which was great. I was asked for suggestions on veg you can grow in flower borders when your not allowed to expand the veg plot, Swiss Chard for instance. I also suggested Cardoons to someone as an alternative to globe artichokes in a small town garden as they take up a bit less space. It was a lot more fun than the usual " and what do you do ?" conversations you normal get at these events.

Before I went down yesterday I ordered some plants for next year. My shopping list was:

6 x Allium giganteum
75 x Allium aflatuense (purple sensation)
12 x Kniphofia

and free with these come with

30 double daffodils
30 Pinocchio tulips

Which will sort out my spring window boxes

This forward planning is because we are planning a garden party next summer and I want to make sure the garden is going to look fantastic. I have lots of plans for plants I want to get and changes I want to make so watch this space.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

I'm back. hen's and pots.

Firstly sorry about my absence from the blogosphere for the last couple of weeks, we both had some time off and have been working hard decorating our stairway. Not the easiest of jobs at the best of times as what seems to be a straight forward job never is in an old house. When you remove the wall paper huge lumps of plaster come with it and none of the door lock fittings are standard so you need to file them out to get the new knobs to fit (even the guy in the shop thought they were all standard!) The other interesting problem is how to paint the stairs with paint that takes 18hours to dry when you live with 2 cats and a dog? We did end up with a cat with a cream stripe up her side, quite fetching actually.

This photo shows you one of the problems with keeping hens, She is sitting in one of the planters I use for Blueberries. She has excavated down from the rim, removing the Blueberry in the process to make her own dust jaccuzi. So I have replanted the Blueberry elsewhere and left her with her new spot.

The late warm spell has been good for some of the local farmers allowing the rape to get a good start.

A lot of people object to fields of rape, but one advantage to fields like this one is that it attracts the woodpigeons away from my cabbages. This view is looking back towards the house across the grass fields at the bottom of the garden.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Halfway there and a bit of a moan.

I spent much of my long weekend tidying up the garden, I think I am about halfway there. I Managed to do most of the things I needed to do in the veg patch. I cleared the debris off the rhubarb, dug over the empty beds and planted out spring cabbage and broad beans. This part of the year is a real time of change, it is sad to look at the forlorn leaves of the courgette plants knowing all that is left for them is the short trip to the compost heap. I felt the same as I cut down the remnants of the runner beans. However looking around the patch I still have Parsnips, Celeriac, and Jerusalem Artichokes to harvest and my leeks are coming on nicely.

One of the other jobs that I wanted to do was a bit of bulb planting. I had decided to plant bulbs under the lawn in hope over time they will naturalise. I planted a couple of hundred crocus and about 120 Tete a tete daffodils, I love these miniature daffs and I feel when I am planting them that is like placing unexploded fireworks in the soil, waiting for spring to ignite the fuse.
I have also planted loads of hyacinths along the edge of the path and in the verge outside the house, I am looking forward the scent from them.

We had a very disappointing turnout for our In Bloom' workday on the village flowerbeds, only three of us turned up. I spent 2 hours getting one of the old dogwoods out and broke my favourite spade in the process, I was not happy. But as one of the team said if people don't turn up they loose their right to complain about what we are doing.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

A long weekend of gardening

This is the view from the window of my home office this morning, it's a beautiful autumnal day out there, it's just sad I am stuck in front of my work PC. I have therefore decided to take tomorrow and Monday off to garden. I have a lot of leave that needs using up and I can't think a better use for it than a bit of digging. The garden hasn't been getting the attention it deserved over the last few weeks, what with weekends away, visitors, and the mini drought in the East of England making our clay soil like concrete.
I need to get some winter veg in soon as well as some winter salad crops. I also need to replant our blueberries as the hens have dug them out of the planters ( big flowerpot = luxury chicken dust bath). The lawn needs cutting, the flower beds need tidying as does the greenhouse, our boundary hedge also needs a good haircut but at the moment it is still supplying a great crop of blackberries, so I might leave that a few more weeks. I also have a load of bulbs that need planting and will probably go down to the Monday market in St Ives to get some more. I must also start taking pelagonium cuttings before we get a frost and loose them all.

On Saturday I am leading a working party to sort out some communal flowerbeds and begin work on a wild flower meadow on a strip of land at the entrance to the village. This will involve amongst other tasks digging out 3 mature dogwoods, which ought to be fun! This is the first of our projects for the new look 'In Bloom' group, we are planning to relaunch it in the near future to something with a more enviromental based name to get away from the corporate planter/hanging basket image.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

The Walnut harvest and Monty Don's new book

The Walnut harvest is in full flow. every time I go into the garden I fill my pockets with the latest windfalls. Many them crack when they hit the concrete under the tree. The header picture for the blog was taken from under the tree so you get an idea of its location in he garden. These broken one are either eaten by me as I pick them up, fed to the chickens or to Boris who takes delight in crunching them open. The squirrels have also found them but unlike last year they have left it late. the result is that they are making more ripe nuts fall out of the tree than they are eating.

The rest of them I bring indoors to dry. I am going to have to start giving them away as we have far to many for even me to eat.

A nice surprise yesterday, a copy of Monty Don's new book The Ivington Diaries arrived in the post, I had pre-ordered it from Amazon and it was only published on Monday. I have already read all the way up to March. The book is a collection of extracts from his diary from when the move to Ivington. I enjoy Monty's writing, I recently read 'The Jewel Garden' in which he deals with the periods of depression that he suffers from, this struck a note with me as it is something that afflicts me. I am of course extremely jealous of Monty's garden, I wish I had a plot that required 20 tons of Mushroom compost a year as a mulch! His writing style makes you feel you not only know his garden but also feel as if you are a friend he is talking too.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Did you see the sky last night?

The sky last night was fantastic, when I took Boris out to the garden at about 11.30 the moon was backlighting the clouds. I tried to grab a photo but I couldn't really capture it very well.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Breadmaking, a follow up

It's funny how when you mention food on a blog you get lots of comments! So I thought I would expand on my bread making a bit today.

I am really enjoying the bread making, when Sharron was away in the USA I decided that from now on I would bake all our bread, partly as a way of de-stressing (kneading is a good workout) and also because it tastes better. I am not only baking loaves but also things like Pizza's, Roti and Naan. I also used some of the butter I made and eggs from our hens to make some fantastic shortbread biscuits, which went down really well at Sharron's office.

I thought I would show you some of the stages in my breadmaking and just how easy it is.

I use locally grown and milled organic flours in all the bread I bake.

This is important to me as it means not only no additives, pesticides etc, but also less food miles.

I have been using as my main reference Bread by Daniel Stevens which is No3 in the River Cottage Handbooks, this is one of the best cookery books I have read and the recipes work. One of the things I have learnt from it was to make a sourdough starter, this is a culture made from wild yeast that you keep growing and use in just about all yeast breads to get them going.

I am preparing all my breads by hand as I think this gives a much better result than a bread maker. The most important thing is to knead well and to let the bread rise well.

I place my dough in a proving basket (a split cane basket) for this stage as it lets the dough breathe better than a bowl.

Once it has risen and been 'knocked back' or gently kneaded a couple of times it is ready for it's final proving before baking. I allow it to double in size before transferring it to a baking sheet or a pizza 'peel'. I then shape it, cut the top to allow it to expand, brush or spray it with water and dust it with rye flour to give it that rustic look.

To bake it I use a pizza stone in the oven which I place above a tray of water as the steam helps keep it moist. The oven is turned up to full heat (about 250c, 450 f, gas 9-10) for the fist 10 mins then turned down to 200 -170 c for about 45-50 mins.

Allow it to cool, slice and serve with homemade butter and marmalade.


Thursday, 1 October 2009

Autumn, Walnuts and Homemade Bread and Butter

Well it's the 1st of October and autumn is really here. All the fields around here have been harvested and most of them have now been ploughed.

Every morning as I drive Sharron to the station the leaves are taking on a new hue. The long dry spell that we have had here in the East of the country should result in a fantastic display of colour.

I got excited last night as I felt a few spots of rain but it has came to nothing. the soil in the veg patch is like concrete. The forecast hints that we might get some rain by the weekend, but I won't hold my breath.

One of the best things about this time of year is the walnut harvest, as you can see it has started well. regular readers will remember I only got to eat one walnut last year due to a squirrel problem, this year the tree is laden with them (nuts not squirrels) everytime I go into the garden i pick up a pocket full.

Also in the picture is my homemade Sourdough bread and my homemade butter. I am really into baking at the moment, and am producing all our bread now. I had never made butter before, I was actually extracting buttermilk from some cream to use in some soda bread and it was a by product, it tastes fantastic.

If you want to try making butter, put some double cream in a mixer and churn it using a paddle, it will thicken into whipped cream but keep going. You will start to see yellow streaks appear, then suddenly as if by magic it will separate into butter and buttermilk. Scoop out the butter and wash it to get rid of any residual buttermilk and spread it on your toast, wonderful.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Boris Becka and a Fig tree.

Our friends Lesley and Paul came to stay over the weekend and they brought us a present a fig tree Ficus carica 'Black necked lady' which I have planted in a nice spot sheltered from the northwind and with a good sunny view to the south. I have made sure that I have restricted the roots as I have been advised that this will help promote fruiting.

One of the reasons they came to visit was to leave their dog with us while they have some building work done. As regular readers will know, and indeed some have met we have Boris a Ridgeback Mastiff cross, well lesley and Paul liked him so much they got Becka a female Ridgeback and as you can see she has settled in well.

What you can't see in the photo is Sharron who was trying to eat at the time so this is their 'What about me? I am a poor starving dog' pose. Oh and yes I did feel a right idiot when we took them for a walk last evening shouting "here Boris Becka' !

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Gary's 100th Post and Village in Bloom result.

I am amazed to find that this is my 100th post on this blog as as it is I want to say thank you to all of you who have been reading it and giving me feedback, I love reading your comments. Those of you who read it and don't leave comments, please don't be shy and say hello.

There are also some people I want to say a special thank you too, first Sharron who puts up with me doing this and enjoys pointing out my speeling mistooks. Out there in the blogosphere there are some fellow bloggers who deserve a mention. Firsty Victoria at Victoria's Backyard who has been really supportive since I started, next I must thank Lucy at Pictures Just Pictures whose outstanding photographs have inspired me to work much harder on my own. I also want to thank Esther at Esthers boring garden blog for being anything but boring and for making me think and laugh, finally I want to thank VP at Vegplotting for the inspiration and feedback. I also want to say thank you to all the members of Blotanical for your support.

Now the big news the village won a Silver Gilt in the best small village section of Anglia in Bloom. Congratulations to everyone in the village reading this for all your efforts.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Kamikaze Dog visits Norfolk

As you can see from the photo autumn is upon us and the leaves are turning. I have prepared a bed to put my garlic in and will be going out today to get some materials for a landscaping project we have planned.

Anyway the story of the kamikaze dog. We spent the weekend up on the North Norfolk coast staying in a lovely hotel, The Lifeboat in Thornham, which not only serves wonderful food but also allows dogs to stay. On saturday we decided to do the cliff top walk from Weybourne to Sherringham a distance of about 3 miles. After about 400yards we watched in horror as the rear end of Boris vanished over the edge of the cliff. Scared stiff as to what we would find when we looked over the edge, we saw daft dog 6o feet below us down a near vertical cliff standing on the beach looking up at us tail wagging. There was of course no way I could get down there and equally no way he could get back up. So i had to walk all the way back to the start of the walk and along the beach to get him. The damage, a tiny cut over his eye, we assume he must have rolled onto the beach or hit something on the way down? Needless to say he stayed on the lead for the rest of the day!

I am sorry there are no photographs of the stunning Norfolk coastline with this update but I have been using my analogue camera (film, remember that?) for the last few weeks. Partly because I love using it, it's a Leica M6 probably one of the finest cameras ever made and also because I makes you think about what you are taking. I felt I needed to get back to basics for a bit.

Whilst we were in Norfolk I visited several galleries to look at local landscape photographers work, the quality of some of it is outstanding (see ) I am already planning some winter photographic trips up ther.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Driving into the 19th Century and the Marrow contest-results

It was quite funny that on Saturday someone said to me that one of the problems with our village was that a few of the residents are still living in the past. Well it is official that at least transport in the village has finally entered the 19th century!

This fantastic old Traction engine came trundling down the lane yesterday lunchtime. The driver was looking for a fire hydrant as the old lady (they are always female apparently) was very thirsty. I did think about asking about it's carbon footprint, I am sure that it is worse than most 4x4's.

On Friday night we had our village pub night and the judging of the marrow contest. At the beginning of the year we gave out marrow seeds to all the villagers as part of the 'In Bloom" competition. We had no idea what the take up would be and were quite pleased with the turnout. My entry is the one at the far end which came 2nd to the one next to it. Mine weighed in at 7.6kg loosing by about 0.5kg.

Anyway, I am already planning tactics for next year, it involves a lot of manure.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Why I was awake at 4am this morning.

As regular readers of this blog will know I live in a lovely quiet little village in Cambridgeshire. We moved here from London a few years ago partly to escape the noise etc. Anyway twice now in the last couple of weeks I have been woken up at 4 am by a racket outside the bedroom window. The culprit, a Tawny owl sitting on the telephone pole outside the window calling to it's mate. Last night was actually worse because it's mate was in the tree opposite, owls in stereo .... wonderful!

Of course whenever I go out around here to try and watch Tawnys in the wild I can never find them. So I am going to start sleeping with my camera next to the bed so I am ready for them next time.

Tawny Owl

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Verbena and Large white

Over the last few weeks my Verbena has been a favourite food source for Large white butterflies Pieris brassicae. This year I netted all my brassicas so I don't throw a fit and start swearing every time one flies into the garden, I can relax and just enjoy their beauty. Agreed they don't have the same impact as a Painted lady or my favourite, the Comma, but they are easier to watch as they do their dancing, courtship flight over the flower beds then fly off to lay their eggs on someone else's cabbages!
The flower clusters of the Verbena (Verbena bonariensis) almost glow as the sway above the other plants in the flowerbed and must appear as beacons to foraging insects.

I finally cleared enough space in the veg patch over the weekend to plant my leeks, hopefully not to late. I have been bringing them on in trays and they all had a massive root structure when I transplanted them so hopefully they will take quickly.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Exciting news

This morning I took some artwork to a local gallery and framers to be mounted and framed. It's a lovely little gallery called L'Bidi in Abbots Ripton and I use them for all my framing.

Anyway, I have been talking with the owner about the possibility of having an exhibition of my photos at sometime. Well I think it is going to happen next June to coincide with the Abbots Ripton flower show. It's not definite yet but I have a good feeling about it. My next problem is finding a selection of my botanical work that I feel happy enough with to exhibit, I am a terrible self critic. Then I have to decide what value to put on them? To be honest I haven't a clue what they are worth, so if anyone out there has any suggestions please let me know.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Ashes, films and fresh eggs.

Firsty so as not to upset our friends in Australia who read this blog I am not going to mention England's great win in the Ashes yesterday. It would be churlish of me to gloat as I know they would never do such a thing had the result been reversed ( yeah right!).

Anyway I actually spent a lot of the weekend in the garden (with the radio on) enjoying the lovely weather. We even went to an outdoor film so next door on Saturday night. I read in the gardening magazines that this is a new craze, you just need to hook up a projector to a laptop and find a suitable screen, in this case the back wall of a garage. It works really well and is great fun.

As you can see our blackberries are ripening well at the moment. I think my decision not to chop the hedges back as much over the winter has paid off as it looks like we are going to get a bumper crop this year.

After a barren couple of weeks the hens have started laying again. I have no idea why they stopped or for that matter why they have stared again. I am sure the is a reason, someone said it may be the autumn moult but I haven't seen any evidence to suggest that. All I know is the quality of my breakfast was suffering!

Friday, 21 August 2009

They've gone!

We have finally got the house back too ourselves, we have had various visitors staying with us for about 3 weeks. It been great fun having them here and I have really enjoyed the company but it does interrupt your set routines , one of which is writing this blog and taking the photo's for it, so hopefully it will be back too business as usual next week!

One of the things I nearly missed in the garden over the last few weeks was this little flower. It is a hardy climber called Condonoysis tangshen I planted it earlier this year with the hope it would be a spectacular display along a fence, well, maybe next year! I found this flower hiding behind a lavender bush.

I published a request in the village news letter this week for people to save seeds for the seed swap event I hope to run in the village next year. I have no idea what the take up will be but hopefully people will take part. I think it should appeal as in effect it is something for nothing, but the problem with all these things is motivation, we will see.

Sunday, 16 August 2009


We took our visitors to Norfolk yesterday, Sharron was officiating at a tennis tournament in Cromer, so we thought it would fun to take them and Boris with us. After dropping Sharron off I took them to Sandringham, they toured the house while Boris and I explored the estate, it's actually quite a nice place the Queen has there.

I really like Norfolk, it has become quite trendy in the last few years and this was obvious with the number people on the roads yesterday. My favourite time to visit though is in the winter. When the north wind blowing straight in from the Arctic cuts through you. That is when you can get the huge sweeping beaches to yourself and you understand why it has been a favourite place with artists. It is also one of the best places to go wildlife watching, the marshes around Cley and Titchewell teem with birds and the flocks of geese and waders at Snettisham are a spectacular sight.

Anyway yesterday everywhere was full of day trippers enjoying a lovely sunny day. I can't really complain as that was exactly what we were doing! But I will be back later in the year when I can get the place to myself again.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

A busy week


This last week has been pretty busy, we have had some friends of our staying with us while they are over from Australia. I have been trying to fit my tour guide role in around work and everything else. I took John who is an ex world war 2 pilot to the aircraft collection at Duxford on Monday and we all went to Cambridge yesterday. We seem to have spent most of the time dodging the rain.

On top of all the other things we had an 'In Bloom' meeting on Tuesday evening. I cannot say much about it here as things need to be formally announced to the village, but suffice to say they are going to be some major changes in the next few months. There were some strong but sensible views put forward which I think will go down well.

Out in the garden the flowerbeds are looking great but do need a good weeding. The grass needs cutting about twice a week due to all the rain, but of course the rain prevents me doing it.
As I write the sun is out so hopefully by mid afternoon it will have dried off out there.

We have had a mass of Large White butterflies in the garden in the last couple of weeks, such as this one on my valerian. I am pleased to say that the netting I put up this year seems to have kept them off the brassicas.

I am also picking some very nice Raspberries at the moment and have harvested all the discovery apples before the wasps got to them.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Rain rain go away, come again another day.

I remember that rhyme from when I was little and how true it is at the moment. We live on the highest bit of Huntingdonshire (250ft above sea level, so not that high!) and with the rain we have been having that might be crucial! The farmers are having a terrible time we can hear the grain driers running at night and the tractors and combines are running all night when it's not raining.

The good news is that the roof repairs we did last week held, the bad news is we have another leak in the main roof around the chimney.

Despite the weather the flowers are still blooming in the garden. The Dahlia's are coming into their own at the moment. It's strange the have been out of fashion for a while, too big and flouncy, mind you this is not unusual Gertrude Jekyll wrote in 'Colour in the Flower Garden (1908)

"It is a matter of great regret that the best kind of Dahlias for garden effect have lost favour with nurserymen"

This did mean that I managed to pick up some tubers extremely cheaply from a local market this spring and I am now reaping the benefits as you can see from the photo's.

Monday, 3 August 2009

A bad apple

As you can see this is not an apple you would want to bite into, even if it is a Discovery!

We are having a busy time here, we have our third visitors in a week staying with us which is fun. I have lots of trips out planned for them this week so I am hoping the weather stays good.

Last week Sharron's niece and nephew came to stay. Jarrod her nephew helped me fix the roof over our utility room as it had been leaking during the heavy rain we have been having. So far it seems the repairs have worked but I won't know for sure until we get a heavy storm from the south.

Due to all the rain and the visitors I haven't been able to do much in the garden and was horrified when I saw how much the weeds had grown in the last few days, hopefully I can get out there this week and do some weeding.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

A plague

We have been suffering a plague of flies this year, I thought it was just around here but my brother who lives down on the South Coast says it's been bad down there. It is quite fun to watch Boris try and catch them as they land on him, the cats chase after them as well.

My neighbours tell me that this was a common problem in the village in the past. The village is a medieval ring village, which means that the houses were built in a ring around an open area. Until recently (thankful before we moved here) this area contained a pig farm. Apparently it was impossible to open your windows at times due to the flies!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

A new week

Well I am so pleased the last few weeks are over and life can get back to normal. I have a wedding to go to later this week and I have been asked to take the photos, I am really looking forward to it and feel honoured to have been asked to do the pictures.

As I am writing this it is yet again raining, the last couple of weeks seems to have been nothing but showers. It has made it impossible to get out in the garden to mow the lawn and I find weeding in the rain tedious to say the least. I really do feel sorry for the farmers , harvest has started and they need to get the crops in dry or spend a fortune drying the grain with large oil burning heaters. We had a dryish day yesterday and the combines were out, when we went to bed last night they were still running eventually finishing about midnight.

One positive thing about the rain is our blackcurrants have all swollen up with juice and the marrow I am growing for the village competition is doing really well. More good news is that all 3 hens are now laying, the bad news is none of them could be bothered to lay yesterday, mind you seeing the size of the egg to that of the hen can't say I blame them. ouch!

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Goodbye to my dad

Yesterday was my dad's funeral which was a sad day for all of us. As part of the service my nieces Polly and Charlotte read the following poem. It was written by Polly who is only 14.

Hail and farewell

They say each person has their time, and I guess that's

They say life flashes before your eyes, but that's really
hard to prove.
It's sad to have to watch you go. but I hope you're happy
where you are.
It's sad to see and sad to know, but you're still here in
our hearts.
It isn't always how you thought it, and I never said
It isn't always how we're taught it, but you wouldn't want
us to cry,
I'm sorry that you had to leave, and I'll miss you
I'm sorry that time has to flow, and that you couldn't
We'll remember everything, all the words you said,
We'll cherish each little thing, and rejoice in the life you
Time must pass and time will heal,
But to us you'll still be real,
You're always there,
You're with us now,
So we say goodbye,
We say goodnight
We wish you well,
In future.
Farewell Grandad, we'll miss you so,
Goodbye for now, we won't let go.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Bloodsports in the veg patch

Now I don't really approve of bloodsports, I was the first in the queue to sign petitions to ban fox hunting, and still am against Bull fighting. I will hold my hand up and admit to being partial to a nice pheasant but wouldn't shoot it myself. Anyway I have discovered a new one and it involves Betty whose picture is here, Slug and Snail baiting. Yesterday as I was working in the fruit cage I moved the pots the Blueberries are growing in, underneath were a collection of large 2 inch long yellow slugs. Before I new it Betty and her mates dived in an they were gone. She is just as good with snails eating them shell and all, they reabsorb the calcium from the shell to use in the their own egg shells. Having seen how efficient they are I can forgive them for stripping all the gooseberries off the bushes. They also love it if I do some digging, they fight over who gets to the fresh soil first, I do have to be careful as they stick their heads between the tines of the fork in their eagerness. I am looking forward to their help in preparing the soil on the veg patch in the autumn, grubbing out lavae.

Thursday, 9 July 2009


This is my Wheelmarrow, I planted it up as part of the village gardens competition but it is doing so well in the front garden that I am going to leave it there.

I am sorry that I have not been around for the last week or so. Lots of things have been happening, some good, some bad. The bad bit was my dad died a week ago, he was 83 and had various medical problems but it still came as a bit of a shock.

Anyway the goods bits, the village had a great feast week even if I didn't win the container competition (you wait till next year!). I missed the barn dance as I was down at Wimbledon with Sharron. She had a great championship and was a line judge on the mens final.

Yesterday the village was judged for Anglia in Bloom, I helped escort the judges around the village. Sadly we have had a couple of days of very heavy rain which prevented a lot of the manic grass mowing that usually occurs before judging, also it has flattened or knocked the blooms off a lot of flowers. I think the village still looked lovely and I think the judges were pleased with what theu saw.

I am also pleased that Storm here has been producing some lovely eggs for the last couple of weeks, hopefully the other 2 will start soon.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Feast week garden competition

This week is feast week in the village, it started on Sunday with Cream teas and the fete held in the garden opposite. We have other events going on all week including the Scarecrow competition (yet to be photographed) and the village garden competition.

This is split into 3 sections Best Front garden, Back garden and Containers. As we don't have a front garden due to the previous owner dumping several tons of pebbles into it and the back garden is still in development I entered the container section.

I have tried to keep the containers fairly simple and symetrical across the front of the house. I have also included one feature item my old wheelbarrow which I have planted with a marrow and a lettuce.

The results aren't announced until the hog roast and Barn dance on Saturday night which sadly I will miss as I will be at Wimbledon.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Poppies and a Tawny owl.

Yes I know I have done poppies before but I just love them. This one is called 'Fluffy ruffles' can't think why? These have self seeded all around the garden and the veg patch I can't bring myself to weed them out.

I love the splash of red that suddenly appears in the middle of the flower bed which just draws the eye to it.

About a week ago my friend Sally found this young Tawny owl hopping around her flower bed. After speaking to a local expert she placed the chick in a box and put it in a dark garage ready to release it that evening when the parents would return to look for it.

I haven't seen her since but as far as I am aware all went well.