Sunday, June 28, 2009


Oh to be in England, now that Summer's here!
An English country garden conjures up the magic of summer . Reading Three Men in a Boat or The History of Mr Polly under the shade of a big oak tree with a cottage loaf, a chunk of cheddar, a pickled onion and a glass of olde English cider or ale. Too warm and lazy to move, you listen to the hum of the bees, the distant put-put of a lawn mower ans smell the honeysuckle and roses. Oooooohh it's heaven!

On Strawberry Pickin'
You have the tremendous joy and satisfaction of the back breaking toil in the mid-day sun to pick those berries when they are just ripe and warmed, to be able to take them home on your bike, which you thought you were still young enough and fit enough to ride. (well the idea seemed idyllic). Then to stand some more to wash and hull them, and get your beautiful soft white hands red and sore. So you can stand some more in a hot kitchen, over a hot preserving pan until you miss the setting point and have to panic! But, the real beauty of strawberry pickin’ is that all the work becomes a labour of love when your jars are full of luscious whole strawberry jam (enough to feed an army) and you have your own homemade labels on the jars and your shelves look just like the Waltons’ pantry. Well all that done I’m off to bed to rest my aching back and toil no more (today!). ‘Nite Grandma, ‘nite Erin, ‘nite John Boy...

Now, About Picnics...

"..."They ro
de down the river past the Wild Wood as far as the old water mill, there, Rat, bought out his boat alongside the river bank so they could set out a picnic.

"What have we got?" asked Mole, who was hungry.

"There's chicken and ham and salad and lemonade and cake and chocolate biscuits..."

"Oh, my!" said Mole."

This quote of Kenneth Grahame's says it all to us, this must be truly the simplest picnic ever written about and yet the most remembered with affection and aspired to.

What's Cooking?

In this age of equality and political correctness, there is one area which is still the prerogative f us males. I refer, of course, to the ritual of the barbecue.
Although, we would agree that cooking is normally women’s work, when it takes place outdoors, it becomes men’s work. No matter that, usually, we are unable to even boil water, burning meat outdoors appeals to our hunter instincts. We love all the paraphernalia associated with barbecuing. The long handled forks, lighting the charcoal and getting it to just the right temperature, sweating over the griddle with our eyes streaming because the wind is blowing the smoke the wrong way, and making sure that no way do we let women get anywhere near it. (Me make fire, prepare food).
After several attempts to keep the charcoal alight, we finally get to put the meat on the griddle. On goes the sausages, chicken, burgers, corn wrapped in foil, chops etc. Several beers later (barbecuing is thirsty work), we call out ‘Come and get it!’ Aren’t we proud of ourselves as we hand out charred burgers, blackened sausages (raw inside), hard, tough corn and chicken portions which when you cut open look just a little too pink. Excuse me now, I can smell something burning.....

Sunday, June 21, 2009


This morning found Toby ready to go again even after yesterday's dive-bombing, so we snapped this picture of him ready for action, but looking over his shoulder just in case, however, some cats just never learn.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Stone the Crows!

Early this morning, as I was walking back to the house from our car park, I heard a commotion. As I got closer, I could see the cause of it. Toby was lying flat on the ground watching two crows who were giving him some verbal abuse. Just at that minute, Toby leaped several feet off the ground at the nearest crow and caught hold of it. It was squawking and carrying on and managed to get free at which point Toby raced off hotly pursued by the other crow flying low over him, who eventually gave up. Pretty scary, no wonder Molly, as she is sooo tiny, keeps well away from the crows as they could easily carry her off. It really was an amazing sight, I wish I had had a video camera with me.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Where There's Muck, There's Gold

As we were driving home from Terry and Yvonne's yesterday, I discovered my tiny gold bracelet was missing, this was tragic news to me as it was a present from Bri for a special anniversary and I had never taken it off from day one. Help! Where could I start looking? We had been in Terry's garden, down the allotment picking salad etc, across a large car park. All seemed very very lost.
I am not one to give up, however, so I phoned Yvonne who straight away searched the garden, hall, driveway, but no luck. We searched the car park on the way home, nothing! This left the plot, all the veg patch, rhubarb bed, lettuce leaves, spinach and strawberry patch. Never in a pig's eye will I find it. Yet, after a very careful search with my heart and soul in it, I found my bracelet on the side of a path in the potato plot and the little gold padlock buried in the pumpkin patch, was I lucky or what? It was the finest, dearest picking to come off our allotment and the old saying 'where there's muck' is certainly true because I dug in horse muck to find my very sentimental gold...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Plot Thickens

Well it's been another hectic week down the plot by the look of things. The growing season is obviously well on its way without us.When we got down there today, after only two days away, everything was lush and thick. We have giant cos lettuce, mazuna taking over, but healthy, giant radish , strawberries ripening as we watched, gooseberries the size of golf balls, and apple tree branches which are groaning with the weight of the fruit and needing support All our swedes and parsnips are well germinated and up and running . In general, it was a sight to behold. And yet, the work has only just begun because there is now harvesting every day, not that we are complaining, but harvesting means jam making, cooking, blanching and freezing. Oh yes, and lots of eating. Amongst all these rich pickings,there is a down side, our onions have gone twirly-curly. Goodness knows what has happened to them but they've got to come up. Fred, who had the plot before us, was known as the 'Onion King', we fear that we will never be 'royalty'. The upside of our downside, was that Chris, next plot up but one, gave us some corn to replace the four of ours which have gone missing, so kind of her. As we carried away a trug full of bounty which included a cos, lollo rosso, radish, rhubarb, strawberries and spinach we were thankful that this is the beginning and not the end of the season. What delights yet await us?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Chateau Neuf de Hazel

Yesterday evening we opened the bottle of Raspberry and Blackberry wine we have been saving for a special occasion and Yvonne, being fifty this week, seemed just right. So we popped the cork, poured out the most beautiful, clear, red wine. It tasted of sun warmed ripe summer fruits, God knows where she got those raspberries! It was truly delicious... It was also very alcoholic. We have come to the conclusion that Hazel was either a bootlegger, moonshiner or vintner in a previous life, this was good stuff hic, hic, hic!!!...thank you Hazel.

Weeding Hell!!

I wish we hadn't moaned about the rain stopping play because, when the sun did come out, we had to start weeding big time. This time, it was too hot; we are now beginning to feel like Goldilocks - too wet, too hot ,too much work! We made good use of the free bark that had been left on the Hill and finished all our paths off with a thick layer which gives it a natural look.
We've planted corn, broccoli, red cabbage, potted on and put out some of our tomatoes, and hundreds of baby flower seedlings of all descriptions. We have planted more herbs, one of which is Sorrel which has an oooh! factor. When you first bite into it, there is nothing to report, as you chew,it makes you go oooh! with surprise as a sudden tangy taste appears almost like berries. It should be good to liven up a bowl of salad leaves. Julie kindly filled one of our water barrels for us, which leaves us one to do. We now have left strawberries, gooseberries and red and black currants to net up, plant out our butternut squash and mini pumpkins into our raised bed to stop them roaming too far. Hazel gave us a good tip and told us to pin them down into circles as they grow. Also our Sungold tomatoes need potting on as they were a bit later than the Gardener's Delight. Then, apart from painting our picnic table, we're done. We can watch everything grow -yeah sure - like Hell!