Sunday, 31 May 2015

Bird in flight

This kestrel flew round the field following the tractor on the lookout for little creatures that were escaping from the long grass. As I watched there was lots of hovering but she made no dives. Later as I drowned my sneezes in the bath I noticed the poor pheasant just staring into the field as if to say 'what has happened to my home?'

Looking good

The sunlight catches the feathers on this splendid male pheasant as he hurries by the vegetables. I am relieved that he seems much more interested in patrolling his territory than he does in investigating my plants!

Poppy splendour

The front garden has hundreds of poppies in bloom at the moment. I encouraged them to seed last year and then carefully weeded around the developing plants. I love the way the buds open fresh each morning as by nightfall the stems are bare and the soil littered with petals, but by breakfast the following day more flowers will have opened to take their place.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Amazing sky

This was the amazing sky that I wrote about in my last post. You can see the stars have just come out. I love the long days of nearly summer.

Friday, 29 May 2015

Fig leaves

I'm delighted to see that our carefully planted fig is starting to unfurl its leaves. Fortunately I managed to go and buy some new summer clothes today as my current, rather aged selection, is pretty much falling apart and these leaves wouldn't really provide much of a cover up unless you were a size zero.

I'm writing this entry at ten thirty and although it's too dark to see the keyboard (and because I touch type I haven't bothered getting up to switch on the light), outside the clouds are making huge, dark shadowy shapes against a lighter sky where the setting sun is still throwing up some orange hues amongst the high up pale blue, I can also see the first stars, so I guess it's time for bed!

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

A rare day out

Today the weather was better than forecast and so we decided to go to the Staffordshire County Show. It was great fun and one of my favourite sights had to be seeing grown men using hairbrushes to fluff up their animals' coats. These three sheep were fluffed to first place perfection.

We also got to see 'The Sheep Show' impossible to describe, amazing to see, dancing sheep were certainly a first for me! Plus there was duck shepherding - a good day out and a much needed break from our seemingly endless tasks here.


The hawthorn is late this year and only in the last week or so have the hedgerows around the farm been studded with white blossom. The fragrance, mixed with that of the burgeoning cow parsley, leaves a heavy scent in the air, which is (to me) neither pleasant or unpleasant.

In good order

It is good to be able to look out at the cut lawn and the neatly edged kitchen garden. When I see it looking like this I feel that the hard work is worthwhile. Many of our passers by stop to make nice comments about it.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015


I'd finished taking my photographs and was heading back into the house for a morning cup of tea when I noticed the dove watching me from high up on the chimney. She is building a nest again in the barn behind the house (or rather, like us, refurbishing her old one!)

An early start

I was outside at half past five this morning because for once the sun was shining and the light made the buttercups, growing in glorious yellow drifts, shine. I adore the sight of them as they hold their heads high amongst all our varied grasses, so different from the ryegrass monoculture of some farmers fields. The grass was wet with dew and recent rain and I was surrounded by birdsong - a perfect way to start the day.

Monday, 25 May 2015


This has to be the perfect plate from which to serve my freshly baked scones for a cream tea. Our garden would also be the perfect cream tea venue ......

Tea time

I've been buying some very pretty china (it could easily become an addiction), this set is vintage Aynsley and the cups have a very attractive shape. I love that it is floral but only modestly so. We have guests coming to join us for tea next week and I am looking forward to using it for the first time.

Tiny poppies

Sadly I didn't think to include anything to give this photo scale, but next to our normal size poppies in the front garden are these tiny ones, stunted I think by trying to grow in very dry conditions. They are only about 4" tall.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

A new vantage point

It didn't take long for puss to discover that our recently acquired table made an excellent vantage point from which to stare at me as I wash up. She has me so well trained these days (sadly it's very one way and she moves swiftly away if we come within 5 foot of her), but I'm sure she appreciates our hospitality and comes for breakfast and supper and often sleeps in the dairy.

Grass cutting

Today despite being Sunday certainly wasn't a day of rest for our neighbouring farmers. All day long I could hear the tractor as it cut the grass on the hill facing us for silage. Ours will stay growing for longer as it is used to make hay.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

This year's raddish

These radish are our first crop of the year. I decided to grow two varieties and must remember to pick them while they are still young and delicious. I must also remember to hurry up and make a second sowing as they grow so fast.

Friday, 22 May 2015

1000 posts

I feel I should have champagne or at least prosecco to mark the occasion as it's the 1000th about life here at Hill Farm and it's exactly 2 years since we first saw the property and first visited Somersal Herbert.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Waiting for varnish!

And yes it feels like waiting for Godot .... sometimes I think we'll never reach the end. We've decided on a compromise with our new bedroom furniture and Dave is painting and ageing the tops and varnishing the rest. These drawers are next in line for his attention.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Cushion fabric

This is the fabric I'm using to make some of my cushions. It's designed by Mark Hearld and called 'Harvest Hare', the challenge is deciding how best to centre the images of the hare and the partridge, eventually I discover that the easiest way to position things is to use a  cushion-sized template made from a transparent plastic bag. The print is expensive and so I need to work carefully!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Stormy skies

We've had hail, thunder and lightening today! Not kind for the garden (or the gardener) so I'm busy indoors sewing.

My Chelsea moment

I've always wanted to grow alliums, I associate them with the Chelsea Flower Show where they used to be a habitual favourite, but this is the first time I've planted them. Allium 'Purple Sensation' is the one shown in my photograph and I have it in groups with the slightly paler Allium hollandicum. Somehow they have survived the strong winds and exactly match the colour of the last remaining 'Havran' tulips which are almost at the end of their flowering - hastened along by the unkind weather.

Dark skies

It's lovely having dark night-time skies but I would prefer not to have them in the daytime as well! The sky today is almost indigo. Everything in the garden is thriving but we have to glimpse it from windows streaming with rain. The garden was so dry before, due mainly to the strong winds, that I resorted to watering the vegetables at the weekend, so I know the rain is necessary and the landscape is looking amazingly green.

Monday, 18 May 2015

eBay success

I managed to buy a nice garden table and chairs on eBay, I was the successful (if stressed) bidder winning by 29p!  I'd been looking for quite a while but unless we could go and collect the cost of transport made things too expensive for us to consider. These came from the far side of Nottingham, towards Melton Mowbray, but it was a nice drive and to my relief everything fitted in the car perfectly.

Unfortunately as you'll see from the colour of the sky today we won't be eating outside just at the moment.

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Salad days

Well not quite yet .... but my rows of salad crops are growing well, somewhat protected by being between the fennel and the garlic. I've radishes, lettuce, parsley, chives, beetroot and spring onions. Soon I must put in a second planting of each. Our first radish are almost ready to pick and our 'Winston' new potatoes (first earlies) won't be far behind.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

A church wedding

Today we had a couple get married at St Peter's church in the village. It was my turn to do the altar flowers so I used lots of cow parsley and white lilies which looked pretty and hopefully struck the right note of rural simplicity. Fortunately the bride liked what I'd done. Although the weather was cool and rather windy the sun came out as they left the church.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Courgette protection

Yesterday was warm and for the first time in ages, wind-free. I planted out my courgettes as they had outgrown their frame but within 24 hours the wind is back and the poor plants were being whipped about. Dave managed to construct some protection for them using bits of old lath and scaffold board. I've decided my squash plants will have to wait a while before they go outside as protecting them will be harder.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Neat edges

It's taken a while but now all the edges are nice and neat. I've been busy with a new pair of shears. It was a slow task as the grass had grown very long and I also had to weed as I went. Now I've just got the other parts of the garden to do!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Weather systems

We've had lots of strong winds and the temperature feels even colder than it is. Tonight the sun came out briefly and there were lines of clouds racing across the evening sky.

Wild flowers

My wild flowers that I sowed from seed last year are finally making their appearance although unfortunately they look less attractive than intended as there are now docks dying off around them! Still it's good to see that our efforts to remove the docks are having some success, hopefully we can gradually restore this permanent pasture to a species rich grassland.

Monday, 11 May 2015


The first of the grasses is in bloom and the strong winds sweep it in waves across the big field. It's 'Timothy' grass (remembered from the distant past of my PhD) but is more poetically know as 'meadow cat's grass' and we certainly have one of those. She loves to sit for hours out in the field just watching and listening. Our cat is most definitely a loner.

Checking up

Once again we had the 'electricity' helicopter here checking the power supply (and possibly wondering where ours has disappeared to!) He flies so low it's a miracle that he can avoid the obvious hazards. Today he was very well colour matched by the field of oil seed rape behind him which has just begun to flower.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Red sky at night

Looking out the bathroom window before I went to bed tonight it looked as if the hills in the distance were on fire as the sun set in a brilliant blazing line of red. Hopefully it foretells better weather ahead.


Last year I moved a little piece of iris tuber around and around to keep it safe from the builders as it was amongst very few flowers growing here originally. Now for the first time it's flowered and I get to see what it's like, the result is that it fits in perfectly with the other plants in this front border.

Bluebells and violets

Walking home from church this morning on Rogation Sunday the bluebells are out in our lane and the cow parsley is flowering, with violets lower down if you take the time to look. I went out in the sunshine but sadly it hasn't lasted and so my decision not to take a coat seems a little rash.

Rogation Sunday is when traditionally farmers had their crops blessed sometimes by priests 'walking the bounds' of their parishes but this asking for a successful growing season probably dates back to pre-Christian times.

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Blue skies

The blue sky belies the fact that this week we've had terrible weather. Two damaging hail storms, bitter north and north westerly winds and heavy rain. I can hardly bear to look at my poor battered flowers and dare not put out the more tender things like my courgettes, pumpkins and sweet peas.

Our shed's steaming!

I've heard of people having 'love shacks' in their gardens but we seem to have a 'steamy shed'! After more heavy rain the sun briefly appeared and the cart shed roof started to steam. Sadly though the gales this week have caused it to lean even more than previously.

Friday, 8 May 2015

A taste of fluff

This red legged partridge was very amusing, he was one of a pair going from dandelion to dandelion eating all the fluffy seed heads. I could only imagine it was rather like candy floss. Originally they had been spared for the goldfinches who also adore them.