Thursday, October 31, 2013

Orange October

This month I have been mostly going out.  The house is a mess, the garden is a mud bath and the ironing pile is starting to cast a shadow..... 

We've had electricians - the outside light was going on and off like a lighthouse.  I thought I was either going to have a fit or planes would start landing on the drive.

We've had plasterers - decorating is soooooo boring.

We've had builders - the room we are decorating developed a huge wet patch on the ceiling - agh!

We've had lots of animal stuff.

We had to pull the remaining carrots up as the ducks were pulling them out whole and leaving them on the ground!  I was going to say 'lawn' then but you could hardly call our garden a lawn.

Sarah (aka 'The Duck Whisperer')  -  Jemima and Donald first for a treat

All spring and summer the boys were fighting over the girls now we have had to split the two females up as they keep scrapping.  Jemima (practises escapology in her spare time) likes to levitate over the fence so we are constantly putting her back in the pen.

Jemima - the Marilyn Monroe of the duck world

The cows have gone to another field now, much to Big Dog's relief.

Stand off - 38 cows against 1 dog

Big Dog having a well earned snooze......

I have been studying the soft autumn light.

We've been clearing the veggie patch.

The last of the courgettes and patti pans

A lonely lettuce with just a few spindly leeks for company

The neighbours love Sarah as she is now busy raking up everybody's leaves for her leaf mould bin.

We've had some great walks.  The shooting season is in full swing - lots of ratchety sounding pheasants, flapping partridges and tweed jackets (not on the birds).  We got mistaken for the hired help the other day when a lady stopped her car outside the 'big house' (where they were holding a shoot) and told us she had put the soup and cake in the kitchen!

This is Sarah scrambling down a near vertical hill - we went a bit off piste, oops

Gorgeous light at Hare Warren

If only my legs really were this long

The barns are all full of hay

Big Dog's favourite walk by the mill

I don't know why I love hairy rope, twine and string

I'm glad that I made the most of the good weather and light evenings.

Now, the weather has turned.  Very wet, windy and gloomy.

Orange twine - sigh.....

A damp, blustery Cathedral close 

Last Sunday night we had an awful storm.  There were winds of 100 miles per hour over the south coast. I hardly slept a wink that night.  I lay there terrified that our little bungalow would simply take off like the Wizard of Oz!  The window frames creaked, the wind howled and the rain lashed against the glass.  The next day there was a trampoline in the middle of the drove.  We've since seen the owner who was out with his dog looking for it.  He lives a quarter of a mile away!

One good thing about the clocks changing and the weather being grotty is that I can't feel guilty for not gardening.  I can go to the theatre and to concerts with a clean conscious.

The best concert was Kate Rusby.  Her band were amazing and I love her Yorkshire wit and the stories she tells.  What better on a dark, windy autumn night than listening to folk songs about fishermen on stormy seas and desperate women waiting by the harbour for their men to come home. Lots of raw emotion, murder, loss and angst.  Great stuff!  

Kate Rusby

The best play was 'Ghosts' by Ibsen.

What I love about theatre are the sets and the costumes.  It's like a grown up version of a dolls house - open the front and peer into another world.  

The production of 'Ghosts' was inspired by the artist Edvard Munch's stage design for the play previously seen only once, in Berlin in 1906!  It was a fantastic set.  It had everything - the open fire, grandfather clock, atmospheric lamps and mysterious staircases.  Very dark and eerie.

Perhaps that's why I like our 1980's wall lights.  They remind me of a Victorian gas lamp.

I feel like I'm getting ready to settle in for the dark months ahead.  We've had a log delivery and I'm desperately trying to finish my Henning Mankell book so that I can read my usual spooky classic running up to Christmas.  I've got 'The Woman in White' this year.

I made some celery soup

With grated cheese and lots of pepper

Sarah made rye, ale and oat bread which was gorgeous with smoked cheese

And, I've got a cat for my lap!

Meet Frank

Frank is four and a bit mad.  He talks a lot, likes to jump on top of the book cases, is ripping the leather sofas to bits and sits on my chest whilst I am trying to watch 'Downton Abbey'.  I am in love....... 

Look - how could you be cross with that?

He's even got a beauty spot

He likes to watch Big Dog from the sink

Now you see him.....

When he's had his second jab he can go outside and play with the six ducks!

Anyway, must be off.  I bought a small pumpkin this year as we are home alone without children but Sarah is downstairs as I type making pumpkin pie which I am intrigued to try. 

 My sister always wins the imaginative pumpkin design competition.

I'll get her back on Sunday as she will be joining me in her fourth decade!  Ha ha!  And sis, if you read this. These are my tips for a happy middle age.....

- pretend you are French (no eating at the fridge, only eat when sitting at a table with a linen napkin)
- wear only simple clothes.  Complicated clothes make for weird attire and being late for work
- say 'no' a lot
- discover Lycra
- less is more with make up.  You don't want to look like Joan Rivers
- drink more alcohol
- try not to worry about your tyres, they're really not flat 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Succulent September

Ok, I couldn't stay away.  I have blogitus, blog disease, blog spots.  

Delicious, mellow autumn fruitiness
Last month I was mostly:

Enjoying things beginning with 'm'

Mozart and Mendelssohn


Watching films
Studying cows
Feeling very vintage
Wearing brogues
Frantically wiping spider's webs off my face
Running away from Daddy longlegs (ffffrrrrrrttttttt....)
Having bad hair
Buying new slippers
Watching 'Strictly' and 'Downton Abbey'
Eating meatballs

Sorry, did I mention meatballs again?  I could eat them every day.  Basil, our friend and fellow Jamie Oliver fan, stayed one night and we had meatballs, yum - I think we scored it 8/10.  She enjoys us experimenting on her with a new recipe and then scrawling comments all over the recipe book (in pen!) whilst we are busy preparing the pudding.  It has now become a tradition to go head to head with the Radio Times quiz after dinner and if we are still feeling perky, even the Radio Times crossword. Steady.....

Jamie Oliver (the God) - Lamb meatballs, chopped salad and harissa yoghurt

Favourite film of September -
I adore French films, I adore Kirstin Scott Thomas (she kills me with her French speaking, waistcoat and tie in this!) and I love psychological dramas so this film at the Arts Centre was a must.  It was slightly creepy but very funny. 
Dans la maison (film).jpg

Germain (Fabrice Luchini) and Jeanne (Kristin Scott Thomas) in In the House

We decided one day to investigate the vintage market in the Royal Arcade, Boscombe.  It was a beautiful, Victorian building.  Very sad that the massive chain stores on the high street draw more shoppers and it was half empty. A ghostly reminder of a more romantic, sophisticated way of shopping.

I could have spent a fortune on silk scarves, bags and other vintage goodies.

Whilst in Boscombe we found this lovely cafe...  A mysterious lady wearing bright red lipstick and 1940's garb (including a gorgeous knitted waistcoat) was reading at a low table at the front of the bookshop.   Who was she? 

Vintage + books + cafe = deep sigh

Outside The Crooked Book, Boscombe, Dorset

Vintage cookware at The Crooked Book, Boscombe, Dorset

The only downside to this time of year - very large spiders

Vibrant colours

Rosehips, Rowan, Sloes and Elderberries

So much to do in the garden - all that good weather has turned it in to a jungle

But still plenty of colour in the garden


We are enjoying the fruits of our labours

I always thought that this pink furry stuff was a type of flower but I recently found out what these funky coloured, tufted balls really are.  They are caused by a kind of wasp (called a gall wasp) puncturing the leaf of dog and field roses and laying eggs.  These eggs then form larvae which creeps in to the leaf tissue until the whole thing swells in to this pink moss like gall.  In the middle ages they used it to induce sleep by placing it under pillows.

I want a cardy this colour

Old Man's Beard


We took an afternoon off work one Wednesday to visit the Manor House at Stratford Tony which was open for the National Garden Scheme.  We drive past this house all the time so it was great to have a nose!  It has a 5 acre garden.  It was beautiful with lots of areas of interest.  I particularly liked the vegetable garden with raised beds, potting shed and greenhouse.  Such a shame the weather was grey.

The Manor House, Stratford Tony

I snuck in to the greenhouse to take a photo of these yellow gourds

We've been picking blackberries and adding them to apple crumble and custard 

There are so many this year - I need a bigger freezer!

No bungalow bake off at the moment as I haven't had time but Sarah did make these rolls which were delicious with home made minestrone soup.  I like the way you make the rolls and stick them together so that when they're cooked you can tear them off in a rustic, macho way and dip them in yer soup!

Ale bread rolls

I'm still taking photos of sunsets

One morning we received 38 new visitors in the field behind the bungalow.  Devon Red cows, including babies (ah...).  They are very interested in our ducks!  I can't believe that they know when the farm manager is coming to feed them.  It's quite a noise - but I love it.  I like to sit in my old chair and watch their tails swishing.  It reminds me of being a kid and watching Bonanza or High Chaparral.  I always wanted to be a cowgirl.....yeeeeee haaaa.

It's still very mild and the perfect temperature for walks

These flowers have been planted along the edge of a field

A pictorial nature table

Gorgeous girls

Big Dog is unimpressed with the cows

The peppers are ripening

Shop bought cucumber doesn't have any flavour compared to these beauties

Our tomatoes are finally starting to ripen + new curtains at last

I've been walking in mist, fog, rain, the dark - all of them together.  I love it!  I imagine I'm Cathy in Wuthering Heights struggling across the moors in the wind and rain, my hair whipping my face.

Lots of spooky, misty mornings

I hate the thorns on Pyracantha - but that colour is so juicy

I treated myself to some new slippers. When they arrived at the office my colleague Sarah tried them on and decided to buy a pair too.  We stole the idea from our friend and ex-colleague Sioban who has several pairs. They are the cosiest thing I have ever worn.  It's like wearing two sheep on your feet!  

Sheepskin Slippers - Bootees

We wore them to Sioban's for dinner last night to surprise her.

And here we are comparing slippers.....

Now I'm worried. 

I'm off to do a bit of bungee jumping.....