Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Spiced Rhubarb cake recipe

Sue asked for the recipe for this yesterday so here it is. It is sort of a cross between a cake and a pudding. You can also make it with peaches or anything else you fancy.

Spiced rhubarb cake
75g sugar
100g self raising flour
100g butter
2 eggs
1 tsp ground ginger
1tsp mixed spice
Cream the butter and sugar, add eggs, fold in flour and spices. Mix well and spoon into a greased 8” / 26cm cake tin.
600g rhubarb
sugar for sprinkling
Chop rhubarb into 1” pieces, place on top of cake mixture and sprinkle with a little sugar
75g butter
50g Demerara sugar
100g flour
Rub butter and flour together to a breadcrumb consistency and add sugar. Cover the rhubarb with the crumble topping
Bake at 180 degrees (160 fan) / gas mark 4
check after 45 minutes (we gave ours another 10 minutes)

Monday, 25 May 2009

A great weekend.

To me a bank holiday weekend should be relaxed and kind of impromptu but they rarely happen that way. This one has sort of happened that way, but before I explain I want to share this lovely Iris with you.

I have no idea which variety it is as it was already in the garden before we moved in. I love iris's so have split the clump over the last couple of years and transplanted it all around the garden,

Anyway on Saturday one of Sharron's work friends who is from Lithuania was bringing her sisters and cousin to ours for tea. On friday night 2 old friends of mine rang and asked if they could call in as they would be driving past of course we said yes so we hosted a tea party in the garden., a selection of fish paste or cucumber sandwiches and a fantastic Rhubarb cake baked by Sharron. We just needed the vicar to be there to make a truely traditional high tea!

We had to chase them off fairly early as we were getting up at 4am (yes thats 4am!) on Sunday morning. As part of the Village in Bloom events we had a Dawn Chorus birdwalk, amazingly we had 15 people turn out .It was a really good walk hearing a total of 24 bird species and ending up at the village hall for bacon rolls.

After the walk I had a nice doze in the garden waking to the sound of a Cuckoo, the first I have heard this year.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Always remember to pick your greens.

I left a few heads on the broccoli this year and the resulting flowers look fantastic. You always forget how lovely the flowers of some veg are. We all grow alliums of course and Peas and bean give a great display but most things we stop before they flower. I think the only brassica that you see in full flower (please correct me as I am sure there are more) is Oil seed rape.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

New residents at The Willows

Well we have finally got some chickens, 3 of them, a Columbian Red, a Black Rock and a Bluebell. We had talked about getting some since before we moved here but kept putting it off. Last weekend we were at the local farmers market and saw some chicken houses for sale that we liked, well made and lots of room, so we decided to go for it. I am going to build a large enclosure for them and give them the run of the fruit cage (once I protect the lower bushes) which should sort the slugs out. I am sure they will cause some damage but as long as they repay with eggs and manure I will forgive them.

Monday, 18 May 2009

A great day in Wimbledon SW19

We had a fantastic weekend, we had arranged a suprise for my my in laws, we had got them tickets for the event at Wimbledon to celebrate the new roof on centre court. The event featured 3 exhibition matches with Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, Tim Henman and Kim Clijsters.

Of course the star of the day was the new roof, which close without a flaw, a good thing too as in true Wimbledon form it poured with rain all afternoon.

Two other people who enjoyed themselves were my wife Sharron who as you can see was one of the line judges

and Mike, who seemed to make a new friend.

The whole event helped raise money for the players charities and they really seemed to enjoy themselves.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Monday, 11 May 2009


This stunning Meconopsis (cambrica var ?) is always the first to flower in the garden. It's delicate flowers only last 24hrs or so dance around on their tall stems in the prevailing winds that blow across the garden at this time. I love poppies, they have wonderfully untidy flowers.

We had a great weekend. On saturday we held a bar-b-que for some of Sharron's work friends. It was the first time any of them had been here and I think they all enjoyed getting out of London for the day. Hopefully this year we will be having a lot more events in the garden after last summers washout. Boris thought it was a great idea, lots of people to play with and more sausages than he had ever dreamt of!

Yesterday we drove up to Trent Bridge in Nottingham, Sharron had never been to a Cricket match so we went to watch Nottinghamshire play Worcestershire in a one day match. Notts won although Worcs looked the better team on the field, Anyway it was a good match and I am pleased to say Sharron enjoyed it. We are going to watch Northamptonshire vs Australia later in the year which will be fun.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Broandband, Favourite flowers and Music

First let me apologise for not answering any comments in the last couple of days, the village lost broadband for 36hrs..not good, thanks BT. As you are probably aware I work from home online so I was totally stuffed! There is of course some irony in the situation as I work for er BT!

We all have our favourite plants and this is one of mine, the Perennial cornflower Centaurea Montana. I think the colour is amazing; the rayed petals are really interesting. I also love the scaled pattern made by the bracts on the calyx, which is so reminiscent of the calyx of its wild relatives the knapweeds and star thistles. One of the other things I like about this plant is that we inherited it; it appeared in the middle of the veg patch the first spring we were here, I have since divided it and moved it to more appropriate places in the garden.

On Wednesday night we went to a concert at Peterborough Cathedral in aid of the Great Fen project. This project is to reclaim 3,700 hectares of fen habitat between Peterborough and Huntingdon, this is an area of land about ten times the size of Central park in New York or three times the size of Richmond Park in London. They still need to raise about £7m to buy the remaining farmland. Anyway, the concert by the Britten Sinfonia featured music by Vaughan Williams, Mahler, Delius, Sibelius , Britten and the world premiere of a piece by John Woolrich called Whittel’s Ey. The music, all pieces with wildlife connections were played beautifully in wonderful surroundings, there is something special about music performed in churches that makes it far more intimate than concert hall performances.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

More weeds and new neighbours

A couple more weeds from the garden. The first one is the bane of my life, it is everywhere, I dig it out as fast as I can but if you leave a trace of it in the ground it is back.

Creeping Buttercup (Ranunculus repens)

I leave the the cow parsley to do it's own thing in some parts of the garden. It's umbels have such lace like delicacy and attract beneficial insects such as hoverflies to the garden. You do have to be careful as it is very invasive if you don't control it a bit.

Cow Parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris)

We have some new neighbours in the field at the bottom of the garden, the sheep have moved out and the cows have moved in. This little calf is only a couple of weeks (if that) old. One of the local farmers puts them on the field over the summer. It is great as it keeps the grass cropped short which in turn is good for the Barn owls (not good for voles).

We are off out tonight to a concert at Peterborough Cathedral in aid of the Great Fen Project www.greatfen.org which should be good, I will give a critical report on my next update.