Friday, July 3, 2015

Every garden needs a dragon...

... And ours is no exception. Yes, it may be tiny but there just had to be a quiet spot for a dragon to sleep. First, find the spot so after a major sorting I found one just by the lavender tub out front in a sunny but also shady bit. Perfect. Now finding a dragon is another issue. Bri and I searched and searched a few weeks ago and not a dragon could we find let alone the right dragon. Not too big not too small had to be cute but not goofy had to be relaxed and not mean had to be friendly. Well our dragon, which has yet to be named by our nieces is just the ticket. We didn't find him he found us! Just when we had given up. We were looking for a toadstool for another part of the border a shady boring bit when all of a sudden he appeared,(obviously by magic as all dragons do), sleeping amongst bird baths. We loved him at first sight and so he is now in the garden just as we pictured him just waiting for a name....

Sunday, June 21, 2015

It's been a funny and not so funny old week

Well, last week ended on a high when Bri and I did finally see a pair of kingfishers flash and I mean flash by at Wolseley Bridge nature reserve.
 Monday started with a visit to the beautiful National Arboretum in Staffordshire and that's when the week started going downhill fast. I slipped a disk while there, walking a bit too far for me.
 Tuesday we blew the mains electric and had only lights. Being as this weekend is summer solstice and the only thing we didn't need on were the lights. As you know we never burn the midnight as our motto has always been "you're burnin' daylight " for us its up early to bed early. Fortunately for us next door had a man in doing her kitchen so we paid him to fix it. Great.
 Wednesday, however, no kettle, it died on us, owing to yesterday's incident. So off we went like fools to Curry's to get another one. No chance, the help there is useless in fact totally non existent. After shopping around another five mile journey we made it home for a cuppa
 Thursday, nice, we were down the lottie picking strawberries, radish and lettuce for tea but came home crippled with my back so Friday and Saturday were definitely non starters. However, another little highlight turned up Bri went to water the garden tubs and found a huge frog inside the watering can waiting to be rescued. He sure hopped off quick.

Today, though, was great we went to Blithbury Reservoir, got lost on the way, as we do and stumbled onto a lovely tucked away treasure called The Cobweb. It sells tea, homemade cakes (Bri loved it on sight) also soups and light lunches. It was so tiny tucked in the courtyard of a big farmhouse and the house had nests of house martins all around it. We watched them coming and going feeding the chicks. It was a treat. Then we were chatting to other folk and found we were hardly lost at all so got to Blithbury and there was the most beautiful tall tree woods with bark paths leading through it. We saw young cormorants, oyster catchers and common sandpipers and guess what?
not a heron all week.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

A very strange encounter again....

I've had a Mary Berry of a day. I thought I would try a couple more recipes out of her new book. So I have baked her famous lemon drizzle cake and yes we have tried it. It was good, I can't say I was impressed with her meatballs. I have definitely made better. Delia's and Adrianna Trigianni's Italian family recipe ones were both a nicer texture. The sauce was good enough though. After having a bit of a moment in the culinary department we went off to the lottie for a talk on how to grow and show. Now here is where the day took a very odd turn for me. One of the ladies (no names to protect the crazy), said to me,

"Are you John's wife?".

"No I'm Bri's wife".

"No you're not you're John's wife, I saw you come in with him"

"No, I came in with Bri."

"No, you didn't".

 It was starting to get unreal. In fact it was getting downright ugly. It also was getting to the point that I believed her and nearly apologised for me mistaking my husband. Looking for reassurance
 I turned around and saw a friend who really knew who I had arrived with and knew who I am married to start to grin. Thank goodness I thought, I'm not daft after all, at least I don't think  I am, am I? Why do I attract the oddballs?....

Thursday, June 11, 2015

a dreamy picture perfect afternoon

It was the kind of afternoon you dream about if you love reading about Uncle Silas, Mr.Polly or the Larkins. It was a hot, sun high in the bluer than blue sky afternoon. All you could hear were birds and when you got into the woods, glimpses of light streaming through the trees and onto a little wooden bridge. My idea of heaven. We followed the  worn trodden path until we came to a clearing and then came to a little old brick humpback bridge over the canal. When I looked over the wall there was such a timeless sight, a barge making its way down the canal which was flanked by buttercups.
To me, picture perfect. We went a little farther past a style and an old wooden signpost and then another surprise, the sound of seagulls. They were nesting on little islands and their sound just filled the air. They were flying around like a snowstorm, magic.
 I have always been a country bumpkin  (and Bri is getting there) but it seems much more precious these days when everything is so technical. An afternoon with nothing but the beauty of nature and a more simple way of life is the best prescription you can have, food for the soul.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The early birder catches?

We have discovered a down side to bird watching.....the weather. This week we have been looking for birds near large expanses of open water. Normally, in June, you would think this would be a pleasant experience. Not so! There was a North Easterly blowing that wouldn't have been out of place in the English Channel in February!
Alan Titchmarsh says there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. How right he is! Bird watchers have to be a hardy lot as this hobby requires them to be out early in the morning and at dusk to have the best chance of spotting and in all types of weather
We wouldn't have minded the wind so much if there had been any birds to see but they obviously had more sense and were tucked away somewhere warm. However, lessons learned, next time we will be like boy scouts and prepared for all weather conditions.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

It's been a heron of a week

Yes,yes, I know I usually say it's been a funny old week but this week has been downright queer. Bri has started bird watching and I have been watching him, but as the week has gone on, I think we have both been watched or even maybe stalked. Monday we went to Middleton Lakes looking for a kingfisher, found a yellow wagtail, nuthatch and loads of goldfinches and we were watching the Heron chicks on the top of the tree in their nest when a man behind us shouted, " look up!, look up!"
 and there above us were a flock of them circling over our heads really low. Come Tuesday out we were again looking for a kingfisher when Bri is looking down stream at Elford in the river Tame and there, sitting on a big tree stump right in the middle of the river was, yes you've guessed it, a very large Heron.

 He then flew over Bri's head and disappeared. We then went on Thursday to Wheat's Garden Centre looking for a kingfisher and there on the island in the middle of the lake flew in another Heron right into Bri's view. Friday we went to Fradley Junction, looking for a kingfisher and yet another Heron flew in front of Bri and landed on the jetty, Then walking from there to the car guess what I spotted a ............ wooden one. Queer or not I ask you?  Now, I want to know did the Heron follow us around all week, have we been hallucinating, have the Herons got it in for us? Or had someone taped a picture to the lenses of Bri's new bins?  Either way I know what Heron looks like from every angle but I would rather see a KINGFISHER.

Friday, June 5, 2015

A-twitching We Will Go

We have a new hobby. For years my brother-in-law has been a fanatical bird watching enthusiast. I used to wind him up by saying to him " they are all brown and black". How wrong can you be!
Recently, I have decided to take up twitching ( a birders term) myself. Plum has been keen for years but I wasn't interested.
One day we went to Middleton Hall where there is an RSPB site. There, they have bird feeders set up and all manner of birds use them.  Plum took a close up of a Greater Spotted Woodpecker which is fantastic. I thought that I would buy a pair of binoculars from the local charity shop to see if I would like birding.
Of course, as soon as you can see them magnified, it is a different story. I was hooked.
Back to Middleton we go and start watching in earnest. Then we go to Wolseley Bridge Nature Reserve to see if we can spot a kingfisher ( no luck there)
you will have spotted by now that the term "bird watching" is not used by us birders. Only non participants use this.
The next thing is I obviously need a better pair of bins( that's what we birders call binoculars) This meant a day of intensive research as to which would be the best and which I could afford. Another trip to Wolseley Bridge to test them out as there aren't any specialist shops around any more.
Various pairs are tested and a decision is made.
Now we are off and running! Another trip to the charity shop to buy books on birding and also watching wildlife in general. We are really into it now..... equipment sorted and books read it is time for the serious stuff to begin.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Just for the Joy of it...

... This year getting the plot fixed up and ready to go has been a real joy. We have used our greenhouse to start everything until it was bursting with new life. We have fed the ground with manure, the very best I might add, bought by the girls we all have come to appreciate. We limed where we should and we planted out, tended, watered as we should and we are now seeing why the 'old boys', always said, 'the answer lies in the soil'. 
We have also worked on the look of our plot this year adding little picket fences front and back and planted flowers alongside them. The Gazinias are exploding with colour every time the sun comes out which has been often the begonias are holding their own against the wretched slugs and my pretty little Aqualegia foliage has emerged ready to go, though probably no flowers until next year now. I can wait. I have waited seven years to see my plot how I pictured it when we first started. Full of flowers including the lovely big blousy yellow roses I got from the pound shop. Even fuller with veg of all sorts, swedes, onions, parsnips, cabbages, sprouts, calabrese (though not so happy with that), squash, peas (two kinds), celeriac, shallots, potatoes (three kinds), parsley, beans (two kinds), leeks, courgettes of course, corn (our favourite extra sweet), broad beans,lettuce, radishes, beetroot and then... there is all the fruit, strawberries (not so many owing to them being new plants, raspberries, plums (two kinds), apples (three kinds),blackcurrants and red, rhubarb, perennial now as well as spring, and of course cucumber indoor and out and tomatoes three varieties indoors and out. 
Our little picket fence
So we are happy bunnies this year so far and as long as the slug pellets hold out. I do have a new pet in the greenhouse or you could call him a secret weapon, he is Charlie our toad. The other thing we had fun doing this year was adding a few very old stepping stones from the reccy yard to our little path by the greenhouse well it is just half paved because we stopped at the overhead quote I put up a while ago of Lord Byron's which seemed just right...' there is a pleasure in the pathless woods'. Yes, this year has been a real joy working on our plot I just hope we are eating our labours well into winter and sprouts come Christmas.
To the pathless woods

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Christmas Visitors

Molly and I were busy as usual getting her breakfast when we heard a knocking at the back door. A bit early but a visitor is a visitor and will always be made welcome at our house. Well you could have knocked us both down with a feather for there on the step were Molly's old friends Henry and Ferret who had moved house eighteen months ago. What a wonderful surprise wasn't it? They had come all the way from their new house to see us. What made them come now the week before Christmas? Not only that but together. Was it a  planned visit. It makes you wonder doesn't it. Needless to say they got lots of fuss and brekkie which I can tell they expected and then quietly left again. The gang reunited just for a while was Molly's gift for Christmas I think she has really missed them. We let Tom know to make sure he knew they were here and on their way back. It was sure like old times a really special visit from two very special friends...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

what's cookin'

When I was growing up in the 50's and 60's, Mum stayed at home and looked after the house and Dad went out to work. Men did not cook. I used to pass through the kitchen on my way somewhere else but never washed a plate, or made a cup of tea. When we got married, Plum could  cook so there wasn't any need for me to learn. Over the years I have got a bit better. I am sort of Sous chef in that I prepare vegetables for soups and stews but, apart from boiling the odd egg or making porridge, I still didn't cook After watching many series of Masterchef, Nigella and Nigel Slater you would think I would have picked up a thing or two. Plum always said that she wished I would learn for, apart from the fact that she would get a break, not that she was bothered about that, should she become ill, she was worried that I wouldn't be able to look after us both.
Last week she was in bed with 'flu for a few days so I had to step up to the plate. With written instructions I made soup. It was very tasty. After that I made a stew, and,after a suggestion from Plum, an apple crumble to go with it. That was pretty good too. I was on a roll.  When she was a bit better, I made sausage, mash and beans under her supervision. Today I am doing pasta and bolognese sauce. Next year maybe I should apply to be a contestant on Masterchef? ........