Thursday, September 29, 2016

It's raining... again

It is raining today. Rain is usually the exception here not the usual but since we have been back from the UK (and while we were away apparently) it is the norm. Oh it is so lovely to have full tanks and dams and puddles so I am not ever going to complain about too much rain... ever. It is perfect weather for blog reading, writing letters, deep cleaning, craft. The options are limitless. It is also school holidays so I have a companion in whatever I decide to do. That's nice.

Well I think my birthday is finally finished for this year. Although it was on the 20th, I still received a card today and yesterday but I think that will be all for 2016. My son sent me up this sweet little planter. When it is dry I am going to pop outside and put a succulent in it. I think that will suit it best.

I did have some other birthday mail. Cards from the very lovely Joolz and Lisa. It is so nice to know that someone has thought of you. Thank you ladies, you brighten my days with your posts and my birthday in particular with the post you sent me.

 I have been quite lax with blogging and writing of late so I think I will spend a bit of this rainy day catching up on that front. It is a pastime that is dear to my heart but if you are not in the mood to sit and chat then the words don't flow and the letter just doesn't really work. You just can't force it.

Spring is here it really is. Just delayed and wet and cool but I'm sure the summer weather will come soon and with a vengeance.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Bear with me

Please bear with me while I engage in a little self indulgence. It's my birthday today and that is my excuse.

I'm sure some of you have heard of River Cottage but if not then just ignore my post altogether, roll your eyes or maybe follow the link to check it out. I am a fan obviously so when we made plans to go to the UK it was on the must-do list and thankfully a Summer Luncheon fit in with our schedule. I also had breakfast and a dinner at the Canteen in Axminster. I said I was a fan. And I would definitely go back.

River Cottage HQ is set in a truly stunning part of England. Well most of England is pretty stunning actually but it was a perfect summers day in the perfect setting for me. I love gardens and I love farms and looking around them and taking inspiration and ideas to use at home.

I have to say I wasn't keen on the tractor ride down to the farmhouse (we walked back to the car) but I am someone who doesn't go on any amusement rides. The closest I come to that kind of thing is sitting on the ride on lawn mower. Perhaps that might give you some indication as to what a big deal it was for me to go on a plane. Once the scary (to me) tractor ride was over, apertifs were served in the yurt and a little talk about the day and the property and such. And then it was time to explore and enjoy before lunch.

The farmhouse is lovely. And the staff friendly and welcoming. They took time to talk and answer any questions. Nothing seemed to be too much trouble.

Our day at River Cottage came at the end of our trip and I was quite eager to get back home to see my pets and farm animals. I missed them whether they missed me or not. So it was really nice to spend some time in the company of cats, ducks, chickens, sheep, bees and pigs. Oh yes, I still haven't got my pigs and I still would love to give some a home. A friend recently said he can imagine me with a couple of pigs. I'm going to take that as a compliment.

The kitchen garden is large and produce is used in the kitchens but still supplies have to brought in.

 Before the meal, the chef chatted about the menu and where everything came from . Local, organic and very much seasonal. Delicious too which matters an awful lot. The kitchen was also quite open and guests were welcome to have a look around but warned they might be put to work.

Sorry, I am a rubbish food photographer

Vegetarians weren't overlooked and the food was delicious.

Shared starters- a bean salad, cucumber salad and a split pea hummus with grilled courgette . Meat eaters had grilled liver in place of the zucchini. I think a few people found the liver a bit confronting. The beans too for some. I'm surprised by how many vegetable shirkers there are out there. I'll confess, I wanted to try the liver.

The main meal was a beetroot tarte tatin with wilted greens and grilled tomatoes. meat eaters had a huge plate of food with roasted beef, bubble and squeak ( a posh version from the looks) and beans. I would have tried the beef too if I had the chance.

Dessert- bay leaf ice cream with a biscuit crumble and blueberries. Yum. Tim's favourite. My favourite was the split pea hummus and courgette. Non-vegetarians had a bay leaf panna cotta. I might try that at home using vegetarian gelatin substitiute.

All this followed by tea/ coffee and petit fours. I needed the walk back up to the car park.

I'm now in search of sticks and twigs to support my peas and beans.

It was truly a lovely experience and I would recommend a visit. Fan or not.

I've also been indulging in a bit of plant buying. My seedlings are so far behind because we were away. That's my excuse this time. There are worse vices I could have.

I've had a rather nice day at home today with just my animals for company. Drinking tea, reading a book and working just a bit. Presents tonight after dinner.

Thanks for visiting today

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Just enjoying the garden

Quite often for me the garden is all about work. I love the work . I really do. It's exercise, it's outside and it's all about growing good things to eat or pretty things to look at. It's my take it easy day today so the only real work I did was spread some compost. I needed the wheelbarrow elsewhere so I had to use the compost. There are never enough wheelbarrows here. I've even put in a request for one for a birthday gift.

It is nice however to take the time to just enjoy the garden like I would if I visited someone else's patch. Looking around at the good things without paying heed to jobs that need attention. It was something I loved doing in England, visiting the great gardens they have. And although they have paid gardeners working full time, there was always still something not done. If it is good enough for them then it is good enough for me.

I'm glad I actually planted some brassicas be fore I went away. The sprouting broccoli are starting to make their way to the kitchen in small quantities.

And the red cabbages. I think I would grow them even if I didn't want to eat them. Next time I think I will plant some in the flower garden. Kind of like ornamental kale but much better because you eat the end product.

 More purple. This time the purple podded peas. The peas inside when they develop are green but I like to eat them like snow peas, pod and all. I think they are especially delicious eaten in the garden.

I couldn't resist this little face when I was at the garden centre on Wednesday. Now I just have to remember to water it. I do sometimes forget to water my pot plants.

Bye for now

Saturday, September 10, 2016


I'll start off by saying what made me interested in going to Iceland in the first place. I like to listen to Richard Fidler's Conversations radio program and he spoke with Hannah Kent who is the author of Burial Rites which is set in Iceland. I was intrigued and thought as we would be in the neighbourhood when we travelled to the UK then why not. Who knows, we may never leave travel that way again. For me it was one of those places that the more I looked, the more I wanted to go there. I'm glad I did. 

 It is really a land of ice and fire with volcanoes and glaciers and all sorts of unsettled geology. Hot springs, geysers, lava fields and a sense of remoteness even in the more populated areas. I really loved it.Pictures (mine anyway) do not do it justice and it was truly overwhelming.

If you are a fan of waterfalls then I doubt it can be beaten for quantity and quality.

We stayed in Reykjavik which is the capital and the city that doesn't sleep during the weekends in summer. The sun doesn't go down and the people stay up too. I did keep getting up during the night to check on the sun just to make sure it stayed shining all night.

I did a crash course in Icelandic before we arrived but it really wasn't necessary or very successful.  English is spoken so widely and so well. The amount of English speaking tourists too means there is always someone who will understand you. I'm glad because I think it would take a good while immersed in the language before I could hold a proper conversation.

 And a big bonus for me. Iceland is home to the largest number of Atlantic puffins and we were there in time for them to still be nesting. What a bonus. The rest of the year they spend most of their time at sea. I think I am even more of a fan of the sweet little puffin since seeing them in real life.So very cute but tough as can be to survive the harsh conditions they endure.

I don't really give advice because honestly, who needs it? But, Iceland is expensive. The cost of living there is quite high so take some extra cash.

Next time I visit I'd like to explore other parts of the island and go in a different season. Maybe when the northern lights might put on a display.

Bye for now,

Monday, September 5, 2016

I think I will just ramble on a bit today. I've been home for a couple of weeks and feel like I am on top of things that needed to be done. There are 28 raised beds in my main kitchen garden and in that time, I weeded them all and got them sorted ready for planting. I can't honestly figure out how I managed it because I struggle to keep on top of it usually. I'll just put it down to a feeling of eagerness and a burst of energy from having such an extended holiday. The energy bubble has popped for now.

It is lovely weather today and I spent some time in the garden but my vigour has deserted me right now. So I'm having a rest , writing this post and catching up with blog posts I have missed.I need to make sure I have my supplements
 I suppose I could just eat more of this. A lot more.

The herb garden is in my sights now to be weeded and tidied up. I really love herbs and herbal lore and want to incorporate more unusual plants in the garden.

I'm glad I am home in time for the heartsease. I love their sweet little faces. I especially love that they take care of themselves and never need to be planted or molly coddled.

What did need some molly coddling was my sourdough starter. It umm... finished while I was away so I have to start over. That's ok. I like the process. And it is warming up so it should get going quick sticks. I hope so.

Bye for now

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Spring has sprung

Well it did feel like spring had sprung this morning. This afternoon not nearly so sunny and warm but nature doesn't abide by the turning of the pages on the calendar.

I've been sowing seeds aplenty to make up for not getting them in earlier. I even did some spring cleaning today if you can call tidying up my bedside table spring cleaning... probably not.

The Chinese witch hazel is looking quite lovely. I'm not a fan of pink but this really is lovely. More so in real life than on the screen.

Plums are doing what they should and putting on a lovely display.

As is the almond tree. I would be happier if the bees were bothering with it more but they are preferring the gum trees which are in flower at the moment. I'll have to get a feather and hand pollinate just to be sure.

I'm sure the mulberry is jumping the gun... again and will be struck down by frost. This is such a troublesome tree. Never a good cropper and always in two minds about the seasons. I should just get another one and let this one do its thing without worrying about it.

Anyway, it is my favourite month of the year (my birthday month) and I'm going to treat myself extra kindly. I love spring.