Sunday, 29 June 2014

A good combination

My borage is flowering really well now and the bees and butterflies cluster around it. I am using the flowers to make my salads look very 'designer'. The marigold 'Indian Prince' is just coming into bloom in front and makes for a very pretty combination (inspired by Sarah Raven). We went to a Garden Sunday today which will remain nameless as the standard was very poor and it made us appreciate how attractive our own vegetable plot is now (not of course that I am biased!)

A traditional breakfast brunch

We bought a variety of sausages and bacon to taste test for the future B&B. I also got some Staffordshire oatcakes and was pleased to find that they make the perfect 'plate' on which to serve the other breakfast elements. I had a long and interesting chat about them at the till! I am currently devising my menu and trying to source local ingredients and where this isn't feasible I am selecting the best ethical options as local and sustainable will be a key part of what we intend to offer, with facilities for walkers and cyclists.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Loading the hay

The hay didn't sit in the fields for long, it's now safely loaded on the trailer and soon heads off on its short journey down the road.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014


Lacking the correct farming terminology to  Dave and I what you see in the photo is hay twizzling (if that can be a verb). The weather is dry still and the hay is being turned daily, sending up clouds of dust, which had me hurrying outside to rescue the washing.

Monday, 23 June 2014

Where are you off to?!

Up early this morning, Joe off to London at 6.15 and the partridges off to where exactly ... maybe they just thought they would pose by the poppies as they matched their red legs and beaks.

Sunday, 22 June 2014


I love courgettes, which is just as well as I have six plants (which according to Dave is about five too many). I am trying Sarah Raven's courgette selection:

  • Courgette 'Bianca' - exceptional for flowers, as well as lovely, pale-green fruit.
  • Courgette 'Romanesco' - superb texture and taste and good large flowers for stuffing with dark green, ribbed fruit.
  • Courgette 'Soleil' - yellow variety for stuffing, tempura and jazzing up courgette pasta and salads.

Interestingly 'Soleil' has yellow leaves as well as yellow fruit.  'Romanesco' is ready first, despite the wind snapping its stem. I propped it back together and it's flourished, however this is the reason for now having six plants, originally there were three but they got so battered when I first planted them out that the duplicates went in as back up and now there are six!

Saturday, 21 June 2014

The farm on the summer solstice

The longest day of the year is as glorious a day as you could hope for. The sun is still hot on the farm at 8pm and everywhere is very quiet. Joe is away for the weekend so it is just the two of us.

Yum, yum

Supper tonight consisted of spicy lamb burgers with new potatoes roasted with rosemary and garlic, salad leaves and our first beetroot which I also roasted. There was a home grown coriander and yoghurt dip - just right for the end of a hot day and one where for once we have just done normal Saturday things (ie no major DIY).

Turning the hay

Already it's time to turn the hay - the very hot sun is drying it fast and for the first time I am having to water our vegetables and my dahlias and sweet peas.

A young rabbit

I notice this young rabbit sitting in the big field, presumably coming to see what all the hay cutting noise was about yesterday. He is quite brave as he poses for his photograph to be taken and is welcome to share our land as long as he doesn't venture near my vegetables.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Just chilling

Sitting and relaxing in the spot up by the top sheds which Joe suggested. It's less windy than I had imagined and as he said, it's the perfect spot to sit and watch the sun go down.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

A leopard in the grass

I walk up to admire the newly cut field and the freshly cleared hedge when suddenly I realise I am being watched by .... a leopard like black cat (who I haven't seen before). Dave and Joe are watching the football - doom and gloom will shortly descend.


I was amazed to hear the buzzards calling and realised that they were swooping low behind the tractor on the lookout I guess for small animals on the run. They were followed by crows and gulls. I hope everyone escaped to safety.


Today the tractor came and cut our hay - suddenly all the grass around these villages is cut down and laying sweetly in the fields. A giant lawn mowing exercise with the smells and noise to match.

Looking better

The 'looking better' applies to the hedge and definitely not to me, I look like I have been dragged literally through a hedge backwards .. several times. At least now there is a clear margin around the plants to let them breathe. I had almost finished the task when I heard the tractor coming to cut the field. The bonus is now he can see how close to the hedge he can cut. I am glad to stagger out of the field and sit and watch him work.


Oh dear our hedge is lying buried under all this growth - thistles, nettles and long, long grass. A fortnight ago it seemed OK and I was going to wait till the grass was cut but obviously I need to tackle this task RIGHT NOW.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Poor Henry

This is Henry 'chillaxing' for once. Poor thing is very well used and looking a little dusty (rather like his owners).

Roses round the door

The pink roses are flowering again by the front door. This is a climbing rose with little scent and very upright flowers which go over very fast but I wanted to keep it as this was one of the extremely few flowers here when we arrived as owners almost a year ago.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

A home

Looking into the kitchen from the living room I can see that our house is definitely becoming a home.

Monday, 16 June 2014


Tonight there was a glorious sunset, photographed from the study window.

Broad beans

It is good to see the bees busy on our broad beans, I keep reading suggestions for using a glut of beans but I will be happy to have our first few to eat just as they come. For now the broad bean hummus will have to wait.

Excuse me

Look hard and in the centre of the photo - and the centre of the allotment - you will most certainly see a rabbit, just as I did when unable to sleep I came downstairs at 4.30 this morning. So excuse me Mr Rabbit but you'd better move somewhere else quickly if you don't want to find yourself on my menu - my cookbook has plenty of recipes!

Sunday, 15 June 2014

A birthday photo

After 11 months of hard toil we aren't looking too bad! As Dave keeps winning at golf all the physical effort must be doing him good, for me it means I can fit back into dresses I haven't worn in ages. Thanks Rob for taking our photo and sharing my birthday for, we reckon, the first time in 40 years!!!

More parsnips and other veg

Dave managed to produce this collection of fantastic looking parsnips from the final round of thinnings and they made it onto the table for my birthday lunch. Unfortunately it wasn't really nice enough to eat outside but we all sat in the kitchen instead. Our first (hopefully of many) celebratory meal around the table here.

New potatoes too, and lettuce ...

Birthday pinks

I had to buy a pot of pinks for my birthday, especially as it was also Father's Day. These though were not quite the old fashioned sort I would have preferred and they went by the unlikely name of 'Pop Star'.

For those who don't know the story, my parents waited ten long years to have me and my father said he would wear a pink or white 'pink' in his buttonhole on the day I was born - indicating to the world whether he had had a girl or a boy. Always after he wore a pink 'pink' on this special day.

A birthday chorus

Sitting quietly outside in the early morning with a cup of tea I was serenaded by a whole line of swallows, definitely the most we've seen at one time this summer. I imagined they were singing 'Happy Birthday'.

A pair of ducks

Much to my surprise this morning brought a pair of ducks (seen to the left of the photo with their heads sticking out above the long grass). Earlier I had noticed that the heavy dew had brought out lots of slugs so I imagine that's what they were having for breakfast. I had a croissant and coffee to celebrate my birthday - although there was a long wait for people to wake up and share it with me!!!

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Driving sheep

This morning a small flock of sheep were 'driven' past the farm to pastures new - Derbyshires' version of transhumance. Farm labourers have obviously upgraded their expectations these days - disappointment was expressed that I wasn't able to provide 'Pimms and ice cream'!!!

Friday, 13 June 2014

Looking good

I am so pleased with how the vegetable garden is coming along. Suddenly there has been a huge amount of growth and everything is looking very good at the moment.


 I woke up very early and came downstairs to see someone sitting on a large piece of stone, right outside the utility room .... I hope he hasn't had an early breakfast of tender vegetables.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Well earned rest

It's been another very busy day and it is lovely to be able to relax outside and enjoy the garden, the views and a glass of wine.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Fish or clouds

Tonight the weather is glorious and we see some strange clouds. They looked like a pair of fish when I went to get the camera.

Big babies

This is why the parent birds had to move outside! Each time I walk outside I am aware of two pairs of eyes following my every move.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014


After using lots of relatively inexpensive paint we have finally bought some proper Farrow and Ball to use on the walls of the living room. The shade we are using is Lime White: "the colour of untinted brightest white limewash or soft distemper". Dave went to buy the paint while I got to go to the dentist!

Sighted at dawn

As long as they stay in the field and eat grass these young hares are most welcome. Every now and then they practice their boxing action. It is hard to stay in bed in the morning as I always wonder what's happening outside, so normally by 5.30 I am downstairs to enjoy our fantastic surroundings and to think how lucky I am and reflect on how long I have dreamed of being somewhere like this.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Weeds as high as an elephants eye

Today I walked down to the cart shed and was horrified to find triffid like weed growth. I spent the afternoon removing the worst of them. It is incredible how fast things shoot up with the perfect growing conditions that we've had so far.

A huge storm

Just as we were about to go out this morning there was a huge storm. The water was all spraying off the car roof and racing down the road to the village. Our poor poppies must have wondered what hit them. By the afternoon though there was little sign of the downpour and I walked down the garden and noticed that the damson trees are heavy with fruit.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

He's still smiling

Dave has done a massive amount of work on our living room and the black boxed in beams have now disappeared behind a coat of white paint which makes it all seem much more spacious. It is hard to remember the smelly room that this used to be, full of damp and with everything in a very sorry state - the wall sinking down and the awful 1950's fireplace. It is so much nicer now that the door into the kitchen has been re-opened and both rooms are hugely improved by this link.

Just to remind us of how it was!

Well done Dave

Dave has done a fantastic job of cleaning up the brass catch on the side of the living room window to reveal that it says 'Wallis, Uttoxeter'. Presumably it was to secure a blind - no one seems quite sure. Dave has also been working hard on the living room ceiling which appears to have boards which have been covered in limewash, a dirty and dusty job. I have been priming skirting and the door of the en-suite.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Two collared doves

The pair of collared doves makes good use of our redundant electricity pole. Later I see they have two very large babies in their nest, which I guess is why they are having to be outside.

Tuesday, 3 June 2014


Dave thins the first of our parsnips and I roast them to have with some chicken.

My log pile

Lacking any Italian men I set about making my own log piles. They don't look very uniform but I blame the fact that I don't have nice neat logs to start with! Today turned into a Hill Farm convention with builders, joiners and friends all arriving at once!

Monday, 2 June 2014

There is a pheasant outside my kitchen window!

When I came down this morning this was the sight that greeted me! Someone is still making holes in the vegetable garden and from the evidence left behind we have to assume it is our hare - he doesn't actually eat things, just disturbs them as he digs holes.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Time flies when ...

It is hard to believe that we have reached June on the other hand we have achieved an enormous amount in the 11 months since we have owned the property. Today was a lovely day and Tom came round with his friends and tried out the garden as a venue for cricket, tennis and hide and seek!


There are just a few apples forming on our apple trees but enough to provide a taste of the different varieties.