Saturday, 31 May 2014


While I sow the meadow Dave has been painting - although really the term covers rather more than that. The window needed timber treatment and major repairs before the painting process could begin, but it has made a huge difference. Previously we had kitchen paper stuffed into the large holes around the frame and window ledge.


When I come downstairs to make a cup of tea the goldfinches are busy collecting dandelion seed. One decides to hop up onto our garden chair for a better view.

Friday, 30 May 2014

One woman went to sow ... went to sow an old fashioned hay meadow

Dave looks online and suggests I need a sackcloth apron in which to put the seed leaving both hands free to distribute it!! I manage fine with one hand and my supermarket bags full of seed, I work with 2 canes to show me where my 10 metre sections start and end. I have to say an acre is bigger than you think, and now as I sit here at the computer I have to keep opening the study window to shoo the pigeons off and it would be expensive bird seed.

Do farmers usually do it like this?!

Because we've had rain our plans for the farmer to sow our seed have to be abandoned as his tractor would make deep ruts in the soil. Instead guess who has the job of sowing the acre by hand! We work out that there is a linear area of 150 metres to sow and we have a 15Kg bag of seed, so I get the kitchen scales and weigh out 15 bags of seed, one for every 10 metres.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

The Morgans' special mix

We needed to re-seed the area where the ground source heat pipes are buried. After discussions with our local seed merchant they suggested I rang their seed office. As a result we were supplied with an 'old fashioned hay mix' to sow, when it arrived for collection it was labelled 'Special Morgan Mix'. Look for the next post to see what I did with it!!


Going into the kitchen early this morning I see the collared dove sitting outside on the bench. A little later I see him bravely fighting off a magpie to keep his young safe in their nest.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Out walking

For the first time since we moved here I have the energy to go out for a walk in the evening. I have spent the day on the computer changing a mass of address information and it is lovely to be able to go outside for some fresh air. Unfortunately the second half of my walk is rather disappointing as the hedges are so high it is like walking in a tunnel (with strange chewing noises coming from the other side - which must be the cows I enjoy seeing from the bathroom window!)

Tuesday, 27 May 2014


There is a lovely sunset tonight which lights up the wood to the east with an amazing red glow.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Someone's sitting by my vegetables

Walking down to check on my vegetables I found someone else down there checking them out - our red-legged partridge!!!

From the BBC website I discovered the following:
Red-legged partridges are surprisingly hard to spot. Despite such colourful plumage, they blend remarkably well into their preferred habitat of heaths and downs. During the breeding season, these partridges have the unusual occasional habit of laying two clutches of eggs in different nests. One clutch is incubated by the female, the other by the male. They were first successfully introduced into Britain during the reign of King Charles ІІ, who was anxious to establish the birds since numbers of the native partridge were falling as a result of over-hunting.

Saturday, 24 May 2014


This is the view from the study and tempting to spend all ones time gazing out of the window. The buttercups in the meadow have really started to flower in the last week or so and are turning it gold. The hills we look out to are the Weaver Hills and I love how they give our view a sense of perspective.


This was the view from the living room window this morning as I drank my coffee! The hounds had run by earlier in the week but were gone too fast to photograph, today however I thought I could hear them coming down the lane and so grabbed my camera just in time.

Oh dear!

Well I came down to make a cup of tea and immediately saw two potential allotment eating culprits just outside the kitchen window. The rabbit (or young hare) was wolfing down dandelion leaves. I say hare as when he moved off he shadow boxed with his front legs and I didn't think rabbits did this. The pigeons so far are more interested in the field area but Dave reckons this is only as they are waiting for our produce to grow larger and even more tasty. The dandelions were also the focus of attention for a family of goldfinches. I watched as they used their feet to walk from the bottom of the stalk up to the seed head (making the whole stem much more manageable by bringing it down to the ground) so they could eat the seeds. One of them was a baby and although the same size as the adult birds it kept flapping its wings and waiting for food.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Back online

The exciting news is that we finally have an internet connection here at Hill Farm. Now I have to update all the missing days from our blog!

Thursday, 22 May 2014


I am having fun unpacking and arranging our furniture and ornaments. Dave is playing golf today leaving me to take up the brush and continue painting! I'm am best trusted with the first watered down coat on the bare plaster and manage to get a good start on the living room.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Ploughing (sort of)

Where the ground source pipes were laid the grass has grown back very well, but unfortunately, and I guess inevitably, there has been some settlement leading to a few large holes which need to be filled in. Farmer Phil comes with the tools for the job and within an hour our land is smooth (and bare again!) Now we need to select some grass seed to put back down.

Someone is eating our produce

This morning we found some distinct holes in the vegetable patch. A whole parsnip and a marigold had been removed from the soil (roots and all). There was evidence of trampling so definitely not a bird, there are tracks through the long grass so at the moment we believe a badger may be the culprit. I think I will have to sit up with Dave's torch to hand maintaining night-time surveillance.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Up up and away

This morning I look out early and see a hot air balloon heading over the house and going high above the field opposite. I don't know where they take off from but we have seen quite a few (normally slightly further away though).

Looking online I see that Virgin balloon flights (which this was) actually take off at Uttoxeter racecourse - no wonder it seemed rather near!!!! Dave was concerned when I took him his morning tea that the occupants may be spying on him .....

Monday, 19 May 2014

Our collared dove

We have a pair of collared doves nesting in the barn. Here the male is balancing on the electricity wires. His other favourite spot is our chimney where the volume of his coo coo-ing sounds enormous (as does his wife's when she calls from her nest inside the barn). I walk nearby very quietly and she watches me with an intense beady gaze.

Apparently the birds first came here from the Balkans in 1955.

Note new phone wire beneath.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Blossom time

We have a huge, old double white lilac which has a light scent especially in the damper morning air. Today I sit out under it for breakfast although I have to keep a firm grip on the newspaper!

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Water trough

Our water trough is surrounded by buttercups. After such wonderful weather I am watering our tiny seedlings in the evening. Dave managed to weed out some of my 'exotic crop' of fennel thinking it was grass.

A line with a view

Dave bought and fixed a support for our rotary washing line allowing me to dry our clothes outside (assuming we find a day when the wind doesn't carry them for miles). As I hung out my washing I reflected that this line may well have the best view in the country, it was a pleasure to collect it  in dry and sweet smelling a couple of hours later.

Friday, 16 May 2014

Third time lucky

We have been waiting for our phone line to be connected for almost two months and on the second day of the third appointment it finally happened.

The sorry saga began in March when we were given a number for the wrong exchange (this happened twice and the order had to be cancelled and rescheduled adding weeks to our connection date), then for a two man job only one person arrived - more delay; next after our case was referred to the 'disasters department' handily located in Dundee, a visit came from someone to assess the job.

Finally we got Leon (young, ex army) who was determined to connect us come what may. It took him into a second day and we needed 'blue ladders' (made from fibre glass because the electricity is connected to the same pole). Blue ladders are in very short supply apparently but man and ladders came and on a glorious sunny day we actually got our phone line. No internet yet but I guess that would be too much to hope for. I have felt surprisingly unsettled having to rely on our erratic mobiles so this land line is very welcome, and yes don't laugh but after house hunting across different countries and counties we have ended up with a Burton phone number - just as we've had for the last 24 years!

Wednesday, 14 May 2014


Walking back in the late afternoon across the fields I struggle to believe this land and house are really ours. After looking for so long, actually living here sometimes seems unreal. We know how very lucky we are - truly a dream come true. Views and land were always the top of my wish list. I wanted a view with a house attached!

Harvest time

The first produce is ready from the vegetable garden - I planted radishes partly to mark the row of borage I  put in, what I didn't realise is that both have pretty similar leaves when just starting out!!


In a year that is remembering the anniversary of the First World War we have poppies blooming down by the cart shed (and also coming into bud by the house). This house has been here through both the World Wars and many previous conflicts in its two hundred year history. We were told that the cracks to the structure which we had to repair were the result of the explosion at Fauld (the worlds biggest non nuclear explosion) which happened in 1944 when an underground ammunition store exploded.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Our orchard

The apple trees are all in blossom and now sit in a meadow of long grass. A tiny orchard at the moment but promise for years to come. I think of the day that the trees will be old and gnarled and someone else will be enjoying them. It feels a pleasure to be able to give something back to the landscape.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

My things

It is so nice to be able to unpack things and put them on display even if it is only temporary as they have to move again to allow us to decorate. It is the first time I have been able to get all our photo albums out since we left Rolleston.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Satellite TV

After all the frustrations with the telephone line I decide to try and arrange for our television service to be installed. The team from Burton Aerials turn up on a terrible day - we have lashing rain and gale force winds and we feel sure that the job will have to be cancelled, but undeterred by the weather they get on with the job and by lunchtime we have working televisions and an installation which looks just like the one for which we got planning permission. If only all our services had been connected so smoothly.

Monday, 5 May 2014

We're here!

We finally moved in on our wedding anniversary - 1st May. All went remarkably smoothly over the two days, although packing everything was a task I don't want to repeat - including Dave's visit to A&E..... that's what happens when you buy a brand new exceedingly sharp Stanley knife.

BT have still not managed to connect our phone line, so as I type this we are about to disconnect the computer from Peel Mill and so it will be a while before I can update the blog with all the photo's I've taken. Till then wish us well ...

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Creating a garden

After a busy day digging out concrete and creating lots of hardcore I have a new flower bed in front of the dairy and by the back door, making our sitting out space more attractive. While I dug Dave nobly returned to Peel Mill for a full days cleaning.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Sweet peas

A friend brought round some hazel poles so I could make teepees for my sweet peas which have grown so well they really need to go from the window sill to the garden.

Home sweet home

Well we are in and I spent the morning from 5am unpacking boxes. It feels so much more civilised, not to mention comfortable, to have sofas rather than deckchairs to sit on.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Anniversary tulips

When I planted these it was because I hoped that we would be living at Hill Farm when they flowered and that has happened. I felt these were really anniversary tulips as the two in the foreground are joined together at the stem ... that must be how we are after 32 years!