August; The Fruity Season…. Monday, Aug 31 2015 

Here we are again at the end of another summer & the Swallows preparing to leave.

I’ve enjoyed it & have had more visitors than usual,but generally a lazy time with no projects underway.

With visitors gone, my son has just returned from a family holiday in Croatia & my daughters children have returned from a month in South Africa-it feels as though all is being gathered in !

I’ve had a brilliant crop of all fruits this year, the red currants, blueberries & plums have been enjoyed with the surplus now in the deep freeze to enjoy during the winter.

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Likewise the Blackberry season has just got underway so when rain permits I’m picking & freezing them & also today made Crab Apple jelly….successfully, it actually set !

This year too,unlike last year when there were none,the Cox’s apple tree is heavily laden with fruit so I can’t wait to get my teeth stuck into a really crisp apple,how I wish there was a fool proof way to store them through the winter.

Next up will be the walnuts, though I’m not so sure they are going to be that plentiful this year although the hazelnuts are everywhere…..which will no doubt please the squirrels,which disappointingly I’ve not seen hide nor hair of this year.

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During the summer I’ve acquired a new friend,I call her Pud-cat, she won’t let me get any nearer than about 12ft,but she turns up & just watches me work,never tries to enter the house & not that interested in food. She was heavily pregnant last winter when I first saw her, but then she disappeared until the summer.

Unusually,she has beautiful blue eyes.

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It’s time like this I truly wonder if I could ever give all this up & leave the property ?

Tour de Force ? Sunday, Jul 5 2015 

Early Thursday morning I was up & away at crack of dawn [ I exaggerate, but 9am was for me !] & off to the boulangerie to buy warm fresh croissants for 6.

After all the amazing sun & heat it was very disappointing to have dark grey skies & very heavy rain .

My journey was en route to the coast where I was meeting up with my son & five of his old school [ Canford] & university chums. They had done the overnight ferry crossing to St Malo & we arranged to meet for a ‘pit stop’.

I also packed boiled eggs, butter, apricot jam, & general picnic bits,plus lots of iced water,thinking it was to be around 39c !image1 3Photo not taken by me,but sent later in the day,unfortunately not one with all 5.

They made it in good time to the meeting point, all in good shape & by this time the rain had stopped.

I hadn’t seen the other boys for years ,but apart from good jobs,marriage & parenthood,they had changed little. The banter between long-standing male friends is hilarious,the way they can tease each other [ even at that time of day] & no one takes offence………unlike girls who tend to be rather tetchy by comparison.

This was a great start to my day. :-)

After everything was eaten I waved them off on their next leg….to Mont St Michel where they had planned lunch.

Their route was St Malo, Vivier, Mont St Michel, Vire, St Lo,Caen.As you can see the rest of their trip was under blue skies, preferable to rain even in the heat.

This is the 5th year they’ve done a cycling trip in Europe,but the first in France.Well done lads.

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That’s my boy Jonty on the far right in the turquoise ……I bet he regrets not breathing in for that pic. LoL. :-))

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Bumming around !

Slave Labour ….. :-)) Monday, Jun 8 2015 

 

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What a lovely time we had,half term for children is a time to get out into the fresh air,get some exercise & try new things……for Granny though it’s a time to teach them new skills !

My 11-year-old granddaughter loves to climb & has no fear of heights,so I generously gave her a small pruning saw & suggested she could cut off a branch or two from the smaller Laburnum tree,she was brilliant.We worked together for hours thoroughly enjoying the work & each others company.

Her 13-year-old brother is heavily into all things technical, like his father, so he proudly rewired my satellite TV out in the studio,this was no mean task as it meant taking out all old cables & he was up & down a ladder to get to the satellite dish set in amongst greenery against the house wall & wisteria.The female Blackbird showed her disapproval at being disturbed & though rather alarming when she shot out squawking loudly,he has got the system working perfectly !

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Owl topiary

Another day we played with a bit of topiary , granddaughter is the arty one & owl was born. Dobin was not quite as successful but we had fun doing them. Each day we checked out the Badger holes & each evening at dusk we went to see if we could spot any other activity or a sighting of them leaving for their hunt. No luck though.

Unlike many parents I believe school holidays are a home-time, in my old-fashioned way I don’t believe in this modern attitude of constantly buying entertainment for children,we were at home the whole week & so at the end of the week rewards were,spending money…20 euros each in lieu of labour, a lunch at the local bowling ally plus to rounds of bowling & shopping at the junk shop ….which they love.

So do I. This time I bought this charger with the words, ‘Prise de la Bastille’ = Storming the Bastille 1789.

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The plate had been around for months at the price of €35 going down to €20 but this time only €5,it was meant for me !  The two youngsters bought a small Quimper bell & a small china elephant, for 1€ each.

I do this because I want them to understand recycling & the value of money,whilst they are privileged in so many ways I still feel these are important lessons,that they don’t always need to go for bright new shiny expensive things & there are many treasures to be found in charity & secondhand shops.

I’m also trying to encourage the hobby of collecting,though they both played & enjoy chess.

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So the week passed happily,masses of food was enjoyed……..this two will eat anything, a veggie bake no problem, snails & even deep fried frogs legs !!

A friend came to tea midweek armed with chocolate eclairs, another day we made sausages & coconut ice, chocolate pancakes for breakfast, another day a chocolate fondue…healthy because fruit was used for the dip & my large coffee cake was demolished by the week end….not to mention depletion of my sweet jar. :-)

Home made strawberry milk shakes & my latest passion for a milky nightcap..peanut butter,honey,oats,3 mins in micro & whizzed to a froth,yummy. Sounds mad but try it !

I have such lovely memories of Enid Blyton picnics for the Famous Five I can relive them when children come sans parents, no nagging about numbers etc. Frankly I think it all nonsense,having a sweet tooth & brought up by parents who owned a sweet shop we never had any problems,nor do I with these two who sleep soundly.

Traditionally each day starts with tea & biscuits in my large four poster bed, they bring in their pillow & we sit up to watch haunted house or have you been framed for an hour….it’s all very decadent & time has no meaning.

What makes you think I love being a granny ???

[As you will know by now,all photos will enlarge when clicked.]

More on My Wildlife……. Monday, Apr 20 2015 

No not the clubs or wining & dining,just my garden which is becoming a refuge for animals !
Badgers have really made themselves at home though as yet I have not ventured into the garden at night to watch them. I cannot believe what efficient diggers they are ,this is just one of four holes & signs of more in the track leading to the field . Fortunately all along the border of my garden so not causing any problems.

Badger sett.

Badger sett.

This little chap emerged last week in broad daylight,not a good sign apparently,but s/he seemed fit  & is an adult, scuttling scratching & eating for a while before going into the field.

Only when I uploaded this pic did I realise there’s something behind its ear, I’ve done a search & I can only assume those white/blue things house a parasite of some sort, click for a closer look.

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Also in the past two weeks the 4 deer have emerged, amazing they must have been here all winter but they all but hibernate for months on end, it has been good watching change them shed their winter coats. Not good though when I found the new growth on my roses all chewed off !

The young female.

The young female.

Finally,I have finished opening up my view & now have a distance view from the house & can see my lovely trees beyond instead of an untidy row of wild rose,Hypericum & Elderberry. I’ve opened it up on the other side too.

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Very soon the large Beech will be in leaf & the May tree will bloom.

I have a purple plum & enjoyed them so much last year I decided to plant a golden plum-tree this year,also raspberries,black & red current,sown Rocket,Chillies & red Chard seed , now we need some rain to get them all going.

Hopefully unlike last year we will have apples,very strange last year not one apple did I & others in the area, have.

Finally & at long last Frederic, the apiarist arrived to take away his ladder, I had begun to think it too would take root as it has been against the house for a year !!

Unfortunately his plan to get the bees from the roof/chimney pot/stone work failed,he’d built a wooden arrangement hoping the bees would relocate,but no, so to stop them entering the house he kindly brought his very heavy,tall ladder inside [ which a male friend & I had struggled with & failed to do]  & filled the small hole they had made right up high in the ridge beam of my big room, having a vaulted ceiling has its draw backs, but anyway,hopefully now the bees can stay where they are & no longer be a problem to me.

Very kind of Frederic,this work was beyond any brief for the volunteer bee system, he wouldn’t accept any donation to a charity or a bottle of wine,saying it is a free service.

CLICK ON ANY PHOTO TO ENLARGE.

On Cold & Beautiful Morning ….. Wednesday, Feb 18 2015 

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It’s a stunningly beautiful frosty morning & sun just rising behind the house .
Yesterday I gave the grass its first cut of the year,swept up  remaining leaves & winter debris, had a general tidy up after work on a palm tree removing all the dead leaves & ivy…what a horrible job that was !
I’ve been spurred on by the impending arrival of family for half term….all of them…the Bristol & the Jersey contingent, that’s 4 four grandchildren & their parents,plus some extended family.

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In preparation I am today baking a chocolate cake ,granary bread & a Jersey bean crock.

The beans are a good standby to have something hot for anyone who wants them on return of a walk etc.

Bean crock recipe:

Butter Beans
Medium size Haricot Beans
Red Kidney Beans
Pigs Trotter & or Hock
Large onion chopped
1 Carrot chopped
S&P

Water to cover.

As I no longer have an Aga I now use a slow cooker.
Soak beans overnight.

Cook on setting 2 until bubbling then down to 1 overnight.
When the trotter has started to disintegrate remove from pot,cut up the flesh & skin [removing all the bones] & return to pot.
Add a scant dessert spoon of golden syrup.

Continue to cook or keep warm,this is a perfect dish to have ‘on the go’ for hungry adults & children.

Serve alone or with a sprinkling of Worcester sauce. Enjoy !

Free counters!

Squirrels…. Wednesday, Oct 15 2014 

Sasanqua Versicolor

Sasanqua Versicolor

In the 21 years I have owned this house squirrels have only been seen in the last three.Imagine my joy the first time on spying one scurrying past my conservatory door one afternoon, in midsummer when the cherries were ripe.
A red Squirrel that is as fortunately there are no greys here.

I had no more sightings until the following year when I once again saw him [?] in almost the same spot.Later the same year he was heard & seen in the trees & once on the lawn in Autumn.

Well,last week,not only was he scampering briefly on the lawn last seen hopping towards a large shrub with berries,but the following day, also from under the Magnolia, to my amazement out came another very red baby Squirrel !
I couldn’t believe it, this must mean there’s a family here,two sightings in two days of two different Squirrels,this is a first of many visits I hope.
Whilst there’s an abundance of trees & particularly Oaks all around here with a good green corridor to cover a Squirrels feeding zone, mine is the only property with a variety of Oaks,Chestnuts,Walnut,Conifers, with cones,Norwegian Spruce,a large Beech which had excellent mast this year,several  & Hazelnut, Maple, Birch, to name but a few.

The haul so far…….
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I see no reason why these little chaps need to leave, at present they are chomping their way through a lot of chestnuts which I am not interested in, too much like hard work & it’s a race to get to the Walnuts before they do, but the evidence is there with quite a few open & empty shells of nuts they’ve enjoyed.

That’s Better……. Monday, Sep 8 2014 

Typically once I’ve decided to do something , I couldn’t wait.  So I got stuck into dismantling this old archway last week & now have a view from the house out across the garden.
This took four whole days to remove & clear all the debris. With deeply planted wooden posts, a metal frame & steel rods attaching the two,all of course knitted together & gripped by ivy roots, it was not as straight forward as first thought.

I think you’ll agree though, it was well worth the effort……

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I’ve taken the above photo with the fisheye lens because it is the widest angle lens.

As you can see, I also stripped ivy off the stones in the centre of lawn surrounding the Rhododendrons & will now be able to enjoy the lovely Camellia Sasanqua which starts to flower next month which will continue until January !

Plus all the autumn colour of the Sumach trees will be more visible from inside the house.

 

Before

Before

Fortunately I have all the tools need for the job.

Work in progress.


Work in progress.

I was originally going to take down the Italian cypress on the right,but once all the ivy & lover dead branches had been removed I rather like the elegance of the bare trunk, so it has been reprieved.

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As you can see,the bee man has still not taken his ladder away, I don’t think he knows how to capture the bees in the roof .

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Finished !
Of course one job always leads to another & now I can see the far trees more clearly, I’m eying the ugly palm in the top lefthand corner of first photo, I did have one removed earlier in the year,but I shall just take the ivy & dead leaves off this one.

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