Monday, September 29, 2008

P. S. Elle C

P.S Just in case anyone wants to catch up with Elle C's week, she did sit on our laps all the time we were there on the last night and purred and nuzzled and loved us lots, but she still was really pleased to see her mom on Saturday. We hope she will still pop in and not forget us. Molly has her dish all to herself, much to her relief. You can take this sharing thing too far, says Molly.

A Jewel of a Day

Yesterday, was our Ruby Wedding Anniversary. We held it in the back room of the Bull in Shenstone where we gathered with all our family and our old friends (adopted family). When we arrived, Terry and Yvonne had dresssed the room just how we had always imagined we would want it for a romantic setting, with sparkling lights, red gingham tablecloths, pots of red and white flowers and tea lights in pretty little cut glasses flickering away. All chattering away together like a large Italian family,( but without the violin cases!!) over a splendid lunch.When we looked around, the generations spread from a great,great, aunt to our five month old niece, it was just perfect. We had finally got the cake there, duly decorated. We all went back to our place for champagne, cake and chocolate truffles and a rousing game of Articulate, a family favourite. It was a great day and we will really cherish the memory of all the effort and love that went into it on our behalf.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Rescuers

Not Walt Disney's Rescuers but the Hill's. Thanks to Julie for a saw and Hazel for cake decorating help we are now all set again. Needless to say I hope that I didn't need the saw for my cake, but after my first disaster who knows. We needed a saw to reinforce the shed where we have put up a tea time bell so we won't have to shout when tea is up and disturb everyone.It's much better than shouting, 'come and get it'. So remember girls you are welcome for a cuppa when the bell rings. Hazel I will check out the places you suggest and keep my fingers crossed, thanks.

Last, but definitely not least we would like to wish Kieran a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY for Thursday and hope he has a wonderful day.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Cat Sitting and Cake Making

This week, we are cat sitting for a neighbour, the plan being that we feed her in the morning and lunch time and sit with her for an hour at night. Saturday, the first day, she looked us up and down, and then went back to bed. Sunday, was a little better. she sat on our lap for two minutes, and watched us from the hall for a bit before she went off to bed obviously disgusted with our choice of viewing which was the so called 'variety' show, a more dire piece of tv I have yet to see. Monday, however, Plum had a nice visit with her in the afternoon, and in the evening she kept us and our friend Sarah company and was purring and sitting on the sofa washing and stayed with us for a good hour and a half before she went to bed. Today, we had a lovely surprise, while we were eating our lunch, she came to visit us!! She went and checked out Molly upstairs before going back home. Plum went with her to feed her and got lots of purrs and love in return. We are hoping that when we go round tonight, she will stay with us all the time we are there and not feel such a little lost soul.

As far as the cake making goes.. it isn't. We are making a big cake for Sunday, but our first attempt sunk without trace. The second one looks a lot better (couldn't have looked any worse) we thought all now will be plain sailing, we've got the cake, just the decorating to do. But what a nightmare it has turned out to be. There is nowhere including Hobbycraft to get cake decorations so we are now stuck with a bare cake, what are we going to do??? We have til Saturday to come up with a solution..... we definitely prefer cat sitting to cake making.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Job Well Done

Today we went down the lottie with a purpose – to paint the shed and our garden bench. Needless to say, Alan and Tony had plenty of helpful advice and suggestions as to what colour scheme we should use such as pink, Barry offered us some distemper. Hazel brought her co-plot holder, Jane and her husband Paul and their dog Herbie to meet us , and brought us some freshly picked carrots. We in turn told her to pick as many raspberries as she wanted, which she did so she can make some raspberry and blackberry wine. The shed was duly painted, the same colour as previously and is now looking as good as new. The bench has been painted a nice garden green and is looking really smart. Overall, the top of the plot is almost as good as we want it, there are just a couple of things left to do to make it perfick for us!!
Tomorrow we plan to collect some flowers that our friend John (bottom of the Hill) has got for us . We have been waiting for them to die down before we move them. The other thing that we will do is plant Plum’s anniversary tree.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Another Wild Night in Lichfield

Last night, the Cathedral City of Lichfield played host to one of the icons of the Seventies. I refer , of course, to Mr Coo-Ca-Choo himself, Alvin Stardust. This was Terry and Yvonne's era, so we all went together to see him. During the first half, he played all the old rock n roll songs (our era) and told stories of meeting his own idols. In the second half, he entered to the roar of a motor bike engine and lots of smoke, donned in the black leather gear he is famous for and belted out his own hit records as well as some more old rock and roll favourites which got everybody dancing in the aisles.
During the encore, he peeled off his leather gloves and threw one of them to Yvonne, who missed out. Then, he began to shake up a bottle of champagne prior to spraying the front rows with it. Now this was too much for Yvonne, just the sight of drink, let alone the smell of it, galvanised her into action. She was up out of her seat and down at the stage front before you could say 'my coo-ca- choo'. After he had sprayed the audience with some of the fizz, he gave the remainder of the bottle to Yvonne, who duly asked him to autograph it after the show.
Reluctantly we all went home but happy and satisfied with a good night out singing all the way back to the car and planning our next night out. Not a bad start to our Ruby Wedding celebrations.

Gourd Blimey!!

Yesterday, we went down to the lottie where we saw Julie, who kindly gave us some beetroot and she also showed Plum some pretty little gourds that she is growing so that she can show them in a decorative bowl in her porch. This is something Plum would love to do.(perhaps next year Julie will give her some advice on how to go about it). This year, however, Hazel said that Plum could have a couple of hers when she has dried them out.
Reg (4 plots down next to Lionel) came up for a chat, and brought us up to date as to how the show went this year. Reg usually wins all the prizes for his dahlias, however, this year, there seemed to be a problem with the judges which he and Julie discussed. We were on a flying visit so didn't stay very long to chat as we were going back today to dig up the last of our potatoes (Charlottes) and probably pick the last of our courgettes and the rest of our corn to take to Terry and Yvonne.
Today, we made a path between us and Julie to make visiting for a mug of tea easier. We are looking forward to having a fire as soon as it is allowed (1 October to end of March) to get rid of the blighted tomatoes which will give us some potash for the rasberries and strawberries.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Barking Mad

So, yesterday afternoon, we went and bought three bags of decorative bark , a packet of mizuna seeds and some Japanese onions. Then, after we had had our tea, we went back to the lottie, where we ran into Julie and Kieran (next door the other way) who we hadn't seen for ages. After a little chat about tomatoes and potatoes, Julie said she has found a blight free tomato called Legend - yippee!! so we are going to share some of those. She has also found some interesting potatoes called Anyas which we will try next year. They then went home for their tea and we laid down the wooden slats to hold the bark for our new path between us and Alison (she is on the front) and put down a good layer of bark up to the compost bins. It looks really neat. Then we sowed the mizuna seeds ( a little bit late they should be in by end of August) and also 50 Japanese onion bulbs to overwinter. There was still lots to do but the midges were biting mercilessly so we decided to go back in the morning.

Today, after baking some hazelnut fudge brownies, and some buttermilk scones to come back to, we went off again. We bumped into Alison who was picking her runner beans for lunch and tea, she reckoned and doing a bit of tidying up as well. Lionel (three plots down) came up for a bag to take his produce home in. First job was to widen the top path to stop us tripping over the gooseberry bush and this used up the rest of the bark. This meant we had to pull up half of the mint and its runners, which we had wanted to do for some time as it was spreading too far. We weeded all the broccoli to give it a fighting chance, took off the yellowing leaves on the swedes, and moved the foxgloves to a spot under the evergrowing buddlea by the lupins and bird bath. We also moved a selection of herbs and flowers to prevent the mint growing back again and generally wore ourselves out. Had a cup of tea and decided that enough was enough for this weekend but congratulated ourselves on a job well done as everything is starting to look much more organised. Now the top half is finally getting a more cottagey garden feel to it which is what we are aiming for. When we came back, we noticed that the leaves on our little pear tree are starting to turn gold.. Autumn is on the way.....

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Reclaiming the Plot

At last, the sun is shining so we were able to go down to the lottie. Just got back from 3 hours hard work (6 hours really because we were both working). This is the time of year when there is a lot of tidying up to do. We had to ditch all the tomatoes because it has been so wet they couldn't ripen and so they got the dreaded blighty, Terry and Yvonne's tomatoes, meanwhile are happily ripening in their conservatory.We also had to rescue the lavender which was too wet. The patio is clear now that the tomatoes have gone... good!! We constructed a new bed ready for the mizuna( a Japanses type of lettuce) and Japanese onions which we will overwinter.( I think I'm turning Japanese) We also pulled up the onions so they can dry out before we put them in netting and hang them in the shed. (Last year, we foolishly left pears and potaoes in sacks and boxes in the shed to store them, and they were all eaten by rodents) A lesson learnt there!!
Whilst we were weeding, Tony and Alan from next door, gave us a lovely marrow and me some earache about not working as hard as Plum although I explained that I was supervising. Barry(next plot but one) gave us some advice about when to move our gooseberry bushes (between November and March before the new buds form). While we had a mid morning break, our Robin came to visit us. He comes so close you can nearly touch him. Then, as were getting ready to leave, we bumped into Hazel who was merrily chomping away on a delicious cob of freshly picked corn. We asked her to pick as many rasberries as she wants as we have too many already frozen . She said se will make jam with them. Speaking of Hazel, we have to thank her for giving us the idea of cheering up our plot no matter what the weather by using some children's brightly coloured balls, making a slit in them, and sticking them on canes and then putting netting over them to keep the pests off. It is a really cheery idea. Just off no to get some bark for the path we have made this morning and our seeds for next year.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

What's Mine is Mine

Henry came in for his smackerel, as usual, yesterday, and he also ate the rest of Molly's dinner, as usual. This is o.k with Molly as she is used to it. However, what she isn't used to, is what happened next. After his dinner, Henry always comes in to the lounge to thank us, and he climbs up on our laps and gives us a kiss.
Now Molly doesn't normally see him do this and she was, to say the least ,taken aback. She doesn't climb on us herself, (I think she might think it wouldn't be polite, but of course it would).
To see Henry, therefore, doing something that she doesn't, did not go down too well. She looked on but her expression said 'Hey! that's taking my hospitality too far!' Needless to say, it wasn't long after that that Henry thought he had possibly overstayed his welcome.. never mind, Henry see you tomorrow.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Duck Tales From a Small Corner of Warwickshire (2)

 So……… the same pair of mallards have been coming into our garden since the spring of 2006.

Hang on, how do you know it’s the same pair? I hear you cry.

All ducks look alike, don’t they? The males are brightly coloured and the females are a dull brown.

Well, no, each has its own distinct and unique markings and colouring. I must admit you do need to get fairly close to distinguish who is who. Bearing this in mind and not having the best eyesight, from the first time I began feeding the pair regularly I decided that I would make a rather peculiar clucking sound every time I fed them (a noise they and only they would associate with FOOD) clever huh!

Within a very short time they were soon waddling up the garden as fast as they could every time they heard me call. In those early far off days we only fed them bread. (Very bad I now know. Angie likened it to being fed ‘Junk’ food all the time).

However, it could not have done them any harm as one day during early summer their pattern of coming into the garden suddenly changed. Instead of them both coming into the garden together, they began coming separately, the female one day the male the next. Thinking they had had a ‘tiff’ I thought no more about it.  Over the course of about the next three / four weeks the males visits became less and less and eventually stopped. The female came about every 2 days ravenously hungry, devouring everything we put down.

Still I did not twig! Then nothing, what had I done wrong?

 Then one day, a short while later while Angie and I were down at the bottom pond (our largest) checking on the fish (as the heron was very active at this time, to put it mildly) through the fence came the female duck followed by six tiny ducklings.

We were delighted. It must have taken them ages to waddle across the field from the brook and would have been quite dangerous as it is very exposed. They only came that once, staying for a short while.

 It seemed to me that apart from showing off her young, as we all do! She was saying ‘Thanks for feeding me over the past few months this is what you have helped to produce’.

I decided that should the pair return the next spring I would find out more about ducks and get some proper duck food! Then who knows what could happen.....L.A

Friday, September 5, 2008

Just a Smackerel

'When you're visiting a friend and you find that it is time for a little smackerel of something,try looking wistfully in the direction of the cupboard'. This quote from Pooh's Little Instruction Book sums up perfectly our friend Henry, who arrives at least twice a day for a little smackerel ( in his case Whiskas Temptations) which he and Molly love to take it in turns, one for Henry, one for Molly, one for Henry....

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


We haven't been down the lottie for four days, so we were a bit apprehensive about how things were doing. We needn't have worried. There were tons of raspberries to pick, well, not tons exactly, but we weighed them when we got home and there were three and a half pounds. More than enough to make raspberry jam .Yummy!! There was also lettuce and spinach to pick, a few courgettes, which are still going strong, our first Discovery apple and a couple of Russets. Not a bad haul considering how bad the weather has been. The only downside is that the tomatoes still aren't ripening.. we need some sunshine! While I have been writing this, Plum has made 8 jars of raspberry jam. From plot to jar in less than an hour, can't get fresher than that!!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

It's All Gone Pear Shaped

Pear harvest day is one of my favourites. We love our little pear tree, we speculate all during March when the buds start appearing, and pray during April showers when the flowers appear , and hope all through May that the wind won't take them. In June, we watch for the drop. Then it is all plain sailing until September when we can taste the fruits of our labours. Today we picked, Molly helped by swinging on the ladders, running along the branches and getting thoroughly excited as it was her first harvest. She will be even more so when we all go knocking on our neighbours doors to share our bounty.
Last night she had another thrill. Being September 1st,as always. the green woodpecker arrived. He must have been in a traffic jam because he was an hour late on last year. You can almost set your watch by him. He has been doing this for at least ten years. Molly thought it was truly wonderful when Woody, as he has come to be known, started calling and even more wonderful when she could chase him, and he still came back for more. She was so excited that she really didn't want to come in at her usual time. It was a case of 'Please can I stay out for five minutes more?'