Sunday, July 28, 2013

Make hay while the sun shines

The rain has finally arrived but I made the most of the beautiful weather last week.

Last week I was mostly -

Studying the moon
Chasing butterflies
Dancing in the kitchen to Benny Goodman whilst cleaning the fridge
Listening to Woman's Hour on Radio 4
Making picnics
Drinking Pimms with home-grown strawberries 
Doing Yoga in the sitting room to George Michael whilst being nudged by a Big (hairy) Dog

Wednesday -

Ez and I took Big Dog on an evening walk.

This hat has been waiting for it's owner for quite a while

A hot, mellow evening

Big Dog cooled down in the river

We saw a water vole on the way home!  Shame the photo didn't come out

Thursday -

We decided (at nearly half past nine) to walk to the local pub, much to the excitement of Esme and the dog. Ooooh, and I found a bargain in a charity shop.  Sarah hates it when strange objet d'art appear in the house.  Luckily this one passed the test and can stay!

It looks cute in our new turquoise downstairs loo

So much happiness for £2!

We are now eating runner beans and courgette with everything!

Raw peas - yum

Friday -

My usual Friday walk was supposed to be a short one but as usual I got side-tracked and wandered off.  I stopped at Lorenzo's Trail on the way home from school at about 8.30am and didn't get home for breakfast until 10am!  Ooops.  Once the few pre-work dog walkers disappeared we were totally alone.  I must have walked through every cobweb that morning though, agh!


Beautiful trees, the odd Buzzard circling above us and peace - what more could a girl (and dog) want

I had to bury my big hooter in this Honeysuckle and have a good sniff

Lorenzo Trail is a walk we used to do regularly but as we emerged from the trees I realised that I had never walked it during such hot, dry weather and seen everything so golden and soft in colour.  

I'd forgotten how good the view was from here

I didn't see a soul.  Just me, Big Dog and hundreds of butterflies

Top left - Five-spot Burnet Moth
Bottom left - Marbled White
Bottom right - Small Tortoiseshell

Burcombe punch bowl

That dog is such a poser!

We could just see Salisbury Cathedral in the hazy distance

I love this time of year as I have a passion for seed-heads.  I like architectural, simple shapes and this is why I adore the work that designers Angie Lewin and Orla Kiely produce.

Spey Birches

Multi Stem Wallpaper Multi

Poppy seed heads on the veggie patch

My sweet peas have been making lovely shapes too, bless their little tendrils.....

Sarah also decided to get rid of some debris (we have a lot of debris) so we all smelt like kippers by the end of the night.  It was great watching the fire with a beer and crisps at eleven o'clock at night.

Sarah likes to burn 'stuff'.

Saturday -

Ez helped me make biccies - I had severe baking withdrawal symptoms. 

Buttery, syrupy oat biscuits
Oat Biscuits
100g plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
100g rolled oats
100g butter
100g caster sugar
1 tablespoon golden syrup
Heat oven to 150 degrees C.  Sift flour and soda into a bowl, mix in oats.  Dissolve butter, sugar & syrup over a low heat, then stir in to dry ingredients.  Put teaspoons of the mixture on greased baking sheets, bake in centre of oven for 15-20 minutes.  Leave to cool for only a few seconds, then loosen with a palette knife and cool on a wire rack.  So easy and delicious!

Sunday -

A picnic in Grovely Woods.

I'd love to renovate this overgrown, deserted house and live in the woods.

Followed by a lazy lie on the grass in Lizzie Gardens whilst the dulcet tones of Salisbury Big Band wafted over us.

We had to keep chucking Big Dog in the river to distract her from sniffing people's picnics!

In the evening we had a BBQ (with Pimms).  We've never had so many BBQ's.

One very large, round shape we have been studying on these long balmy evenings is the moon.  Esme's telescope is held together with selotape though which makes star gazing a bit tricky.


Big Dog with scary eyes......
Monday -

Our friend Ele gave me a brick.  She has just moved to a smaller house and has given us terracotta pots, a cold frame, plants, tools etc....  V kind.

I'm quite proud of my brick.  It has pride of place in my alpine garden.

Wednesday -

I used some of Ele's lovely terracotta plant pots to re-pot my cacti.

Re-potted cacti (and new floor)

They add to the Mexican cafe feel in our Dining Room (Arriba, Arriba)

Thursday -

Cloud watching

We ate our first 'green tint patty pan squash'.

It looked like a spaceship but tasted and cooked like courgette.  V yummy.

Not bad for a free packet of seeds stuck to a magazine!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Lazy, hazy days of summer

OK, this is getting silly.

31 degrees now and I have ceased to function.

I have to do everything    r e a l l y   s l o w l y....... The ground is baked hard, the greenhouse at the weekend was 46 degrees and rising.  The thermometer stops at 50!   This weather is fine if you are lying by a pool with a book (how dull) but I want to go on my usual long, brisk dog walks, garden, stir pans of bubbling chutney, bake fragrant cakes, move furniture around and sleep!  Alas, the heat is showing me up for what I am - a pale, freckly, blonde eyebrowed, factor 30 wearing Anglo-Saxon with heat rash.

This week I have been mostly -

Listening to Radio 4
Studying weeds
Sitting in pub gardens with a pint of ale whilst insects nibble on my lower limbs
Drinking herbal tea
Making salads
Lurking in the library
Eating strawberries and ice-cream in bed

Wednesday -

Esme made a scarecrow for the veggie patch

Meet Tom

Thursday -

I strung up the garlic, poured spuds in to a hessian sack and hung some herbs to dry

Oregano and Sage

Friday -

A hot walk involving me walking up this hill twice - Big Dog got bored of me constantly stooping to photograph wild flowers and decided to go AWOL for nearly 30 minutes!

Bind weed - or as we called it when we were kids, 'Granny-pop-out-of-bed'

Scotch Thistle - makes me think of tartan and shortbread


Why are smells so evocative?  I love the sweet, lemon sherbet smell of Groundsel.  One sniff of this rather unassuming weed and I am a child again, standing on the gravel drive at Villee Farm, my grandparent's house.  The memories come flooding back......

- flocks of starlings at dusk
- orange twine
- cows lolling over the dry stone wall at the end of the garden
- the organ in the freezing cold front room that we never sat in
- being frightened by the ghostly sound of the wind through the front door keyhole 
- watching Grampy smooth Brylcreem on his hair, his braces hanging down and his shirt sleeves rolled up
- Nanny standing a loaf of bread on it's end, buttering it and then slicing it sideways!  She could peel an apple in one too.

Grampy (on the right)

Me and Grampy (good 1980's hairdo!)



This is common on roadsides and waste places, especially in the South

Small Bindweed

Bindweed kills plants by twining  itself around them and always twists anti-clockwise.  

Wall Lettuce?  Not sure......

Field Scabious

This plant likes dry, chalky soil.  It has other more romantic names:

- Bachelor's Buttons
- Lady's Cushion
- Pins and Needles

In early days it was thought to cure scabies.   It was also thought by herbalists to be a remedy for skin complaints ranging from wounds and sores to dandruff and unwanted freckles!    

May weed

Persian Speedwell

Scarlet Pimpernel

This tiny plant prefers chalky soil and closes it's flowers when rain is approaching.  Hence, it's other name:

- Poor Man's Weather Glass

Friday - 

Lunch with my wilting weeds in a jar

In the afternoon I met up with Maisie (middle chick) for tea and cake at my favourite cafe in Salisbury, Fisherton Mill Gallery.  Entering the Gallery for me is like being in a sweet shop......  So much eye candy and a feast for the senses.  Sumptuous scarves, tactile earthenware, unusual jewellery, hand made leather bags - I can dream......

Maisie had chocolate brownie and home made lemonade

On returning home I ironed with the curtains shut (nice and coooool.....) and listened to a great programme that I had recorded on the radio, all about this place - Shakespeare and Company.  It's a book shop on the Left Bank in Paris and a place I would like to visit on my 'bucket list'.  Some of my favourite authors have stayed here seeking peace and inspiration - Jeanette Winterson and Anais Nin to name a couple.

Throughout the programme, you could hear the tinkle of customers playing on the bookshop's piano.

From the programme blurb -

Stuart Maconie travels to the Shakespeare and Company bookshop in a bid to understand how a winding, twisting, bohemian bookstore in Paris has become a draw for generations of writers.
Since its beginnings in 1919, Shakespeare and Company has played host to an extraordinary range of authors. James Joyce and the Lost Generation of Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein communed, borrowed books and exchanged ideas in the original shop founded by Sylvia Beach.
A bookshop dedicated to empowering writers, it was Sylvia Beach who first published James Joyce's Ulysses. George Whitman took up this mantle in 1951 and attracted the writers of the Beat Generation including Allen Ginsberg, William S Burroughs, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Anais Nin, and Henry Miller. In a rare interview, Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti speaks to Stuart Maconie about his relationship with George Whitman.
It was not just these famous authors who worked, slept, ate and loved in this "socialist utopia masquerading as a bookstore". Stuart Maconie meets with Sylvia Whitman, daughter of the former owner, to discover the lives of the 30,000 aspiring writers called Tumbleweeds who have found shelter among the books.
Professor Andrew Hussey OBE discusses the bookshop's contemporary cultural contribution. In a literary landscape dominated by digital downloads, Stuart Maconie investigates if this labyrinth of bookish treasures can remain culturally relevant or if it has become a museum to its past.

 A cosy nook for a 'Tumbleweed'.  A customer once screamed when she stumbled on a body asleep in the art section!

I can't think of anything better than snuggling under the covers at Shakespeare and Company.

I'm off to dream of dusty bookshops...