Sunday, 30 August 2015

My kitchen garden

I took these four photos to record what was happening in each of my plots at the end of this second summer at Hill Farm. Overall it has been a less successful growing year than before, many things didn't really recover from the very cold and windy start, but our potatoes have been good and it all looks pretty.

Saturday, 29 August 2015


Not quite Glastonbury but we spent an enjoyable evening at Dovefest, made all the more interesting by the sight of our carpet fitter on the bass guitar! Black clouds loomed but the rain stayed away and we regretted eating our supper at home as the food looked very tempting, we'll have to remember to plan better for next year.

A pot of gold

There was a rainbow right over the house this evening which is very timely as we could certainly do with a pot of gold! All week we've had sudden torrential downpours which are very localised. There was flash flooding near to the Pirelli Stadium when everyone returned from football.


It's breezy today and clouds of thistledown are wafting on the wind. We have a clump down by the cart shed that is being enjoyed by a very happy goldfinch.
Others meanwhile are dining on the fennel seeds. The garden is filled with birds and butterflies at the moment. We have a young visitor arrive, complete with a butterfly outfit fashioned from balloons, and she is able to watch all the activity on our butterfly bushes.

Friday, 28 August 2015

Summer's End

The sight of damsons ripening on the trees and the sound of ploughing tell me that summer is drawing to a close. The evenings are shorter and certainly colder now with darkness falling before 9pm.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Moon shapes

The moon tonight was very bright and lit up the clouds from behind. As I watched from the bedroom window a huge pair of bunny ears chased across the sky followed by a variety of other shapes.

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Wet soil welcomed

After all my gardening, Dave cut the lawn and more rain fell. The blackbirds were very happy though and spent lots of time catching worms (and hopefully some of the giant slugs that have appeared).


It seems as if the sun will never arrive this summer to bake the onions. I've loosened them off and am leaving them on the surface for a while, but 'drying off' isn't likely at the moment.

No vampires here

The ideal job for a rainy day, I sat down and plaited my garlic into strings. The first two were a little wonky but I'd definitely improved by the time I came to make the last one. Very artisan-al!

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Me and my baby

Mother pheasant still has her pair of babies although one of them is very camera shy. The fruit bushes seem to be their favoured location, that and the long still uncut grass around the hedges.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Egg lovers

I had to smile as these two fried eggs prepared for a hug! Minutes later they went on top of our gammon and with home grown potatoes made a delicious supper.

Photographing swallows

When I woke this morning I could here the swallows chirruping. Outside they weren't, as I'd thought, on the roof but swooping about in and out the barn buildings. It seems as if there are some late chicks as well as young adults preparing for the long journey down to Africa, I couldn't blame them for deciding to set off early after our 'non' summer. Trying to photograph these birds is very hit and miss and just when you've finally given up they come to swoop around your head!

Sunday, 23 August 2015

A cloud of crows

After the corn was harvested there came the inevitable muck spreading with a cloud of birds followed the tractors up and down the fields. Earlier there had been sunshine and brief showers meaning that we saw blue sky and clouds for the first time in ages - infinitely preferable to the grey skies we've had too many of.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Ta da

At last my summer homework is finished and I have completed my share of the WI sewing project - I am looking forward to seeing how the whole work comes together. No excuses now not to get on with house projects!

Friday, 21 August 2015

Butterfly garden

There can be no doubt about how much the butterflies enjoy things here at Hill Farm. Everywhere you go at the moment there is fluttering, on the grass and paths as well as on the flowers. Less photogenically the ants keep taking to the wing, much to the delight of the swallows. I'm less pleased as some manage to find their way into the kitchen. It's been very humid.

Another project

Dave's new project is scraping off the worst of the rust on the shed beams so that it can be repainted. A very dirty and dusty task, plus there is a lot of perilous standing on ladders.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Fennel foragers

There are lots of birds enjoying our fennel which stands around six to seven foot tall. Some birds are taking the seeds but others enjoy the small black flies that seem to cluster around the flower heads. There were lots of blue tits but it was tricky to photograph without disturbing them.

Mind the traffic

I looked out of the bedroom window this morning and saw a very cautious mother pheasant. To my delight I realised that she was carefully shepherding along a chick. Later I spotted a second baby. She managed to get them safely across the road and now they seem happy in my fruit bed enjoying the tiny strawberries and the first of the autumn raspberries!

Tuesday, 18 August 2015


Some bright sunny weather has helped the garlic to dry although it's been coming indoors at night. Yesterday I heard the sound of geese calling and the heavy dew in the mornings certainly heralds the approach of autumn.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Wine making

Maybe not the traditional way! Dave uses his special drill attachment (self designed) to take the gas out of the wine before it's bottled. Two dozen new labels are now required. It was a mega-brewing day as while I sewed Dave bottled his beer as well.

Saturday, 15 August 2015


I was going to pull up the few remaining leeks from last years (which I'd kept to see the flowers develop) but I found they were covered in wasps. I know previously we've seen them enjoying the flowers on the ivy - I left them to enjoy the pollen.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Very smart

The deluge on the freshly cut grass has left the garden looking good. Sadly in term of vegetables and fruit the weather has made it a disappointing season. The very dry May has meant things like the dahlias and the beans never really recovered, and the crab apple looks unhappy - I think it has scab.

One man went to mow!

Dave set out to mow the lawn and had nearly reached the end of the task when the heavens opened. It rained so suddenly and so hard he and the lawn mower had to seek refuge in the cart shed!

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

A piece of string

Finally the field opposite us is cut but we laugh to see that the bit on the back of the tractor is being controlled by a piece of string! The cutting is done just in time ahead of some heavy rain which is good for the hedging we've just transplanted.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Garden posy

I am so happy to be able to pick a posy of flowers as I walk round the garden. When we came here there was nothing and I missed this simple pleasure. Somehow only having grasses to pick just wasn't the same!

Yellow Scabious

These pretty flowers are full of bees. I grew them from seeds sent by my sister as I couldn't source them anywhere. Cleverly I have all the pinky purple scabious at the back of the house and these yellow ones grouped together at the front. This was more by luck than judgement as I feel sure they were all planted out into the same seed tray. I see this 'giant yellow scabious' is more correctly called Cephalaria gigantea (if I'd know this I could have found it online!)

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Striking clouds

At supper time tonight the clouds look particularly striking. We've been dining 'a deux' on pasta with courgettes, bacon and mushrooms served with a garden salad that included parsley, radish, red spring onions, nasturtium flowers and lettuce leaves. The yellow courgette makes a very pretty (and delicious) addition to the meal. We have our own wine to accompany it and some home made chocolate cake for dessert 'Buon Appetito'!

Racing today

When we got back from planting out the hedging at the bottom of the big field Dave found this racing pigeon who had paused in our garden for a pit stop. It had rings on both legs, but the numbers were impossible to read as it hopped about. It was happy to drink some water though and after about 30 minutes resting, just as we were google-ing 'lost racing pigeon' it decided to fly off again". But we did discover that you mustn't feed them bread and there I was looking for a recipient for my disaster loaf made in a hurry last night (it's too easy to forget to add your yeast to the bread machine!)

Saturday, 8 August 2015

House martins

The house martins have arrived and are busy on the roof where they are very well camouflaged amongst the Staffordshire blue tiles. There are also one or two resident swallows here in the photograph who I am sure are not impressed by this noisy invasion. These house martins are juveniles and travel around in a large group.

Vampire proofing

I've just dug up my garlic and put it outside to dry as today it's breezy and warm here for once. It has got rust badly on the stems but hopefully the bulbs will be OK. I might see if I can thread them together into a plait. Sitting outside the air brings me both the sweet smell of the buddleia and the more pungent smell of the garlic!

Friday, 7 August 2015

A tiny nest

As I reach the last metre of hedging I spot this tiny nest very close to the ground. I wonder who made it as they were lucky it remained unscathed (possibly it was protected by all the thistles that I've been busy removing). Now at least the rest of the hedge can breathe and hopefully any rain we have should make it's way down to the plant roots. Just as I complete my task the farmer comes to cut and collect the grass off the adjoining field.

Bonfire day

After all our clearing we have created another large pile of stuff ready for a bonfire. Today is still but unfortunately our greenery isn't really dry enough so creates an awful lot of smoke and so, good neighbours that we are, we decide burning the rest of it will have to wait for a while. I think the smell of our fire is infinitely preferable to the smell it replaced (the farmers have been spreading something very pungent on their stubble field!)