Thursday, 30 April 2015

A partridge posing

It's good to see the partridge back, this one was posing by my pretty white narcissus which smell glorious (the flowers not the partridge!)

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Spraying docks

Reluctantly we decided there was no option other than to spray our docks. They are especially prolific where the soil has recently been disturbed. Having bought the correct spray and a sprayer we had to wait until evening for the wind to drop enough to begin work. As we continued into darkness we felt we had joined the ranks of 'proper farming folk'!

New pegs for old

We have a peg rail in one of our cupboards with some of the pegs broken or missing so we found someone (very local) to make us replacements (and yes they fit!) I think now we just need to hammer in some nail holes so they blend with the woodworm-ed originals. Last year, when looking for kitchen units, we actually saw some with man made woodworm holes for that authentically distressed look.

Ne'er cast a clout ...

The vegetables are thriving but we've frosts forecast for this week so at night I'm wrapping up my newly planted strawberries and covering my just sprouted lettuce. Dave heaps the soil in positively alpine mounds around the potatoes which are growing well. (We had a white frost on Monday night, followed by a milder one on Tuesday).

Monday, 27 April 2015

Fresh again

It's that time when you are reminded that we no longer have a mains drainage system! Fortunately we were able to get a good deal by joining up with a neighbour to have our tanks emptied at the same time. Ours will need more significant work at some future date. For the moment it's on the 'jobs pending' list.

Sunday, 26 April 2015


Having removed all the doors for more wood treatment, Dave is now working on their frames. This mean a whole collection of hazards need negotiating when you get up in the night. Dangling dustsheet curtains I could cope with but this has now been joined by a 'limbo bar' (keeping some recently glued wood in place). It makes bringing Dave his morning cup of tea a little tricky.

Saturday, 25 April 2015


The butterflies are well and truly on the wing again and the garden is full of them fluttering by. We've seen a lot of peacocks and orange tips but I am delighted to see this comma butterfly and pass on the following information from the UK Butterflies website:

"Looking like a tatty Small Tortoiseshell, the Comma is now a familiar sight throughout most of England and Wales and is one of the few species that is bucking the trend by considerably expanding its range. The butterfly gets its name from the only white marking on its underside, which resembles a comma. When resting with wings closed this butterfly has excellent camouflage, the jagged outline of the wings giving the appearance of a withered leaf, making the butterfly inconspicuous when resting on a tree trunk or when hibernating.

This butterfly was once widespread over most of England and Wales, and parts of southern Scotland, but by the middle of the 1800s had suffered a severe decline that left it confined to the Welsh border counties, especially West Gloucestershire, East Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Monmouthshire. It is thought that the decline may have been due to a reduction in Hop farming, a key larval foodplant at the time. Since the 1960s this butterfly has made a spectacular comeback, with a preference for Common Nettle as the larval foodplant, and it is now found throughout England, Wales, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands and has recently reached Scotland. There have also been a few records from Ireland."

Thursday, 23 April 2015

A fresh perspective

Today the weather was too glorious for domestic and renovation tasks, so mid afternoon we decided to walk the footpath loop that circles around our farm. It was exciting to see our property from a new perspective even if photo opportunities were limited by the fact that I'd hung out my floor length curtains on the line (ready to be remade) and they seemed rather prominent!

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Garden planning

I can breathe a sigh of relief now that the main part of the garden is planted up and things are thriving in their pots ready to venture outside once the frosts have passed. Everything has it's planned space as you can see and my yellow tape measure has proved invaluable for marking it all out.

The first swallow

We have seen our first swallows this week, I love to hear them chattering although I fear the main topic of conversation was probably 'where have our nice poles and wires gone'!

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Our garden is looking good

I have spent a week working tirelessly outside but the result is that I've now planted everything either in the kitchen garden or in pots. The reward is looking out and seeing it all looking as I imagined when I was busy digging the beds out of the rough grass last year.

Early morning

I woke early this morning (sleep wasn't helped by the fact that bizarrely my wisdom tooth has decided to try and make its appearance). There had been a light and unexpected frost but my narcissi are looking beautiful and fortunately the chilly weather doesn't seem to have caused any damage.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Tea time

We haven't seen our neighbours for a while (it turned out they'd been to Canada and America) so they were invited for tea and it gave me the chance to use my pretty tablecloth and to make sure I hadn't lost my touch with the baking. It was wonderfully sunny and we sat outside into the early evening enjoying the warmth and the views. Wendy brought me the most exquisite posy of spring flowers from her garden.


I was up early and rewarded by the sight of the hare sunning himself in the morning sunshine. Later he came running back across the garden keen to get on with the business of the day.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

A clean trough

Our water trough hadn't been cleaned out - possibly forever - and the contents really didn't look very nice so I made use of the sunny weather to drain and dry it. In the process I removed several inches of sediment from the bottom, now it's refilled and it looks much more inviting.

Saturday, 18 April 2015


I am home alone as the others have gone to see if Burton Albion can secure promotion to League 1 (they did). The soil is perfect for planting my seeds: dry and crumbly on top but moist beneath. As a result I do much more than I'd intended and work to put my carefully designed plan in place.

Tulip time

My tulips (Sarah Raven's Venetian Mix) are much happier in the flower bed than they were last year in their pots and are flowering gloriously in the spring sunshine (I just have to keep my fingers crossed that the wind doesn't come like it did before to sweep their petals away prematurely). Inspired by how good the bed is looking I carefully cut the grass edges back (with scissors as I don't possess shears!!)

Seedling success

I put my trays of seeds on the window of the large bathroom and just a week later the courgettes and pumpkins have already germinated. We have a small cold frame to transfer them into when they are a little larger but at the moment they are obviously enjoying the unseasonably warm weather (as are we).

Friday, 17 April 2015

Well girls who's in the mood ...

These female pheasants were quite happy pottering round the garden together pecking tasty items from the lawn but the male pheasant decided that now was the moment and he kept trying to jump on them. They definitely looked as if they were saying 'oh for heavens sake go and find something else to do'!

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Fireplace update

The original bedroom fireplace has now been finished with grate blacking (and in the process a large amount of the graphite seemed to transfer itself onto Dave!) Under the top however he discovered that this model was named 'The Primrose' presumably as that is what is represented by the small flowers on the top panel. More striking though are the oak leaves and acorns that make up the design down the sides and inside the surround. It must have been made in large numbers as there are examples currently for sale on the internet, where it is described as:
A highly decorated late Victorian cast iron combination fireplace. The frieze has a central bunch of primroses and on either side are garlands of flowers and acorns which cascade down each side to the foot blocks.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Pheasant bliss

This pheasant found a nice plant free part of my flower bed and proceeded to have a prolonged dust bath. I couldn't believe how much dry earth was flying up into the air. Later he lay on his back and wriggled on the soil like a cat!

Another black bird

This very dark pheasant was spotted nipping across the garden. I love that they hate to fly and so will run around for a remarkable distance. There are a number of pheasants here at the moment, all trying to establish territories, or mates and so are very agitated. Each time I go into the garden I can hear them calling.

A black ladybird

I discovered this harlequin ladybird on the leaf of my borage plant growing in the front garden. It's an unwelcome alien which has displaced many of our existing ladybirds. Apparently introduced from Asia to Europe as recently as 2004 is it now widespread here.

Blackthorn blossom

Suddenly the hedgerows are starting to fill with blossom. I was delighted to see this blackthorn in flower as it is part of our very recently transplanted hedging.

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Our stonemason

Dave has had to learn a huge number of skills for this restoration. Currently stone masonry is the task of the week! During early work on the project the stone sides to our front path were removed for drainage trenches to be dug. Now we need to put them back and find some extra pieces. It's a difficult task as the path itself runs at an angle from the house but for the moment that is how it is going to be re-instated.

Ageing ...

We've painted a bedside cupboard and are now trying out an ageing glaze on it. We, unlike our furniture, don't need any help to look aged!

Spring vegetables

The hard work preparing the vegetable plot has paid off and this morning the sunshine was throwing shadows across the rows of potatoes. The first earlies have just emerged and so will need earthing up and an eye kept out in case of frost.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Daffodil relocation

I've been busy today moving clumps of daffodils. Our naturalised double daffodils span a broad section across the lawn but I would love to have more of them in the area nearer to our boundary so they are being re-located (until Dave requires the spade)! Very meanly while I'm doing this, something (probably a horse fly) takes three large bites from my inner thigh ... ouch, ouch, ouch! Obviously gardening in a skirt wasn't such a good plan.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Just looking

Our plum is just coming into blossom and I hope this tit is just looking for aphids and not eyeing up the tasty buds!

Friday, 10 April 2015

Spring flowers

I was very careful last year when weeding to leave the violets undisturbed and to give them some water during dry periods and the result is that we now have several lovely clumps flowering near the front door where we also have primroses and grape hyacinths - mauve shaded blues and lemon yellows, the colours of an English spring.


Watch this space, Dave is currently being very busy with Blacking for Grates (and hands and faces it seems!)
The results will be published shortly!

Hares but no boxing

I've been keeping watch on the hares hoping to see them box. Apparently it isn't two males fighting but a female telling a male she isn't interested. As you'll see from the above that wasn't the case for this pair - maybe we'll have leverets on the farm this summer.

'Like rabbits, hares start to breed from a young age, and from about seven months they produce an average of 12 leverets a year in three litters. The breeding season runs from January to October, but May is a good time to look out for the young leverets as food becomes more abundant. They are born with their eyes open and are left alone in the day, in small depressions in the ground, known as forms, to avoid attracting predators. The young hares begin to feed on grass from two weeks old and are fully weaned at four weeks.'

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Ginger biscuits

I was delighted to win this months WI competition with my ginger biscuits. I used a Delia Smith recipe but added a pinch of cinnamon and a little fresh ginger chopped to a pulp (and yes I weighed each one before baking to ensure that they were exactly the same size!) I know, I know but that's just how I am!

Sheep relocation

The farmer decided to move his sheep up to the next field (which sadly means I can't watch them from the bedroom window). The move was exciting, the road gate was shut and they were rounded up by man rather than dog power - at first I don't think they could believe that they were actually free - and I was oh so tempted to just open our gate and call "here sheepy, sheepy ..."