Saturday, 30 July 2016

The garden

At last our kitchen garden is looking good after a very slow start this year. The sweet peas smell wonderful and I'm taking large bunches down to church in preparation for our afternoon tea party (they'll be arranged casually in jars along with deep red dahlias and bright orange marigolds.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Mother and baby

While dad dust bathed, mother pheasant kept a keen eye on her youngster. Eventually dad decided he'd had enough of family life and headed off to the peace of the Big Field!

Dust bathing

No, not a new option for our guests! Mr Pheasant decided my newly dug bed was the perfect place for a nice dust bath.

Thursday, 28 July 2016


The garden seen very early in the morning as the sun rises from behind the house. Later in the year it comes up to the right across the field opposite us.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016


Digging has definitely become my area of expertise but this last project has taken me an age. The soil under the grass is thick with matted roots and there are also roots from the hedging. This all has to be carefully picked out and recently it's been hard to find the amount of time required to really get to grips with the work. Now though after three days of solid digging (and a couple of pre-breakfast starts) I have achieved enough to go and buy some plants for the first part of this new bed.


Dave has started and completed a new project ... we have lots of guttering and down pipes on the barns and a soak away but the water wasn't getting down the one and into the other. Now, thanks to his handiwork, we have a range of brick structures to collect up the water and channel it down the pipes. For the first time this summer we are actively hoping for rain so we can see if it all works!

Monday, 25 July 2016


I can't bear to take down the bunting as it looks so pretty and summery, I'll just have to buy more if this gets too tattered by the wind. Tonight the sun shone low across the landscape and for a few minutes the light was exceptional, I paused in making Joe a sandwich to grab the camera and the photo.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Runner beans

Finally our beans have decided to make their way up the supporting structure I lovingly built for them. I was surprised to find that they have white flowers but then I remembered our first lot failed to germinate and so these were purchased as a second attempt from a very limited selection of plants remaining in our local nursery (limited because apparently lots of other people had been there doing the same thing!) My sweet peas in the background are producing flowers on lovely long stems but still, despite tying in, don't seem to want to go up their tripods either. Obviously not social climbers ....

Friday, 22 July 2016


Our guests brought me these flowers which were perfect as co-coincidently I'd intended planting the helenium in my newly created border, I hadn't considered using hypericum though as I'm not really a fan of its yellow flowers, but seeing how brilliantly the berries work in this arrangement I'll have to see where I can put it (at least I know it will be happy in the very dry soil by the hedge).

Tea time

Getting ready for afternoon tea in the garden. The sun is shining and it's not too windy. I love this pretty tablecloth with its orange tree peonies set against a turquoise ground. The marigolds, dark dahlias and sweet peas are perfect and the summery paper napkins fun. I love these bright summery hues and feel the butterfly on my verbena is saying 'look at me and see how well I match your scheme'!

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

He's back

Now the hay has been cut the young grass is growing back and I'm delighted to see that this has encouraged our hare to return. When resting he is hard to spot and he can stay still for ages nibbling and resting, but then he's up and off and, as ever, I'm surprised by how large he looks and how fast he can move - here he's running between our wrapped bales. Today I was outside with my cup of tea at 6am waiting for his arrival.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Keeping watch

I was up early this morning and the buzzard was also up early looking for his breakfast. He sits so still in the tree, the old ash branch making the perfect perch.

Monday, 18 July 2016


I've been busy working outside whenever the weather allows and as well as all the regular jobs I am still digging over my new plot. We have also tackled an area of nettles and brambles by the barn. My verbascum is still going strong and now seems to be presiding over the vegetables!


The garden is absolutely full of bees but so far butterflies have been thin on the ground (and in the air). The first of the small tortoiseshells have appeared and the field is full of meadow browns but they don't like to settle for a photograph. Here is a large white, fortunately on my nasturtiums but they've also been on the sprouts, and a speckled wood.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Balloon landing

We sat out enjoying the evening air when we noticed a hot air balloon in the distance, over the next hour it came closer and closer until it landed just across from us. It looked very picturesque with the sun setting behind.

A special soldier

This is part of the 141 days project commemorating the Battle of the Somme. To mark the duration of the battle 141 of these exquisite tiny brass soldiers, each holding a poppy, have been created by artist Nic Joly to be placed on war memorials across the UK.  To find out more about this work I am including a link: 141 days. They are hidden in secret locations but you don't have to venture far from our farm to discover this one.

Friday, 15 July 2016

Sweet peas

My sweet peas are just beginning to flower but they are still down amongst the foxglove flowers at the bottom of the tripod, you'd have thought with all the rain they'd be reaching for the top but no they are dawdling around the base (unlike the grass which seems to look as if it should be cut daily).

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Out again!

This time I am heading off to a WI tea party in Doveridge to celebrate (belatedly) the Queen's birthday and the fact that our WI was founded 95 years ago. I laughed at the wedding when we sang Jerusalem as in my bag I also had a pot of strawberry jam that I'd made for my sister - Jam and Jerusalem indeed! The flowers were for a table decoration and look so pretty. I remember my first year here when the only things to arrange were grasses from the field!

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Dark skies

We sat outside facing west watching a pretty sunset but behind us the sky was almost indigo. As you can see I can't bear to take my bunting down as it feels so summery. We were also looking out for the barn owl who has been a reliable visitor this year, we are thinking of putting up a nest box for them. Meanwhile whilst scoping out a suitable site I realised that the collared doves are nesting with us again this year, but now they are in the big barn. I love to hear their loud coo-ing.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016


I was delighted with the first significant harvest from our four blackcurrant bushes. Last year they had just been planted and we collected a very few berries but today I have 3lbs worth and these made up into 7 jars of jam, plus a little extra which we sampled in a sponge cake with cream.

Saturday, 9 July 2016


Arrived home to find that we had had rain of 'biblical proportions' as a local friend described it! This didn't do the hay any favours and it ended up getting wrapped to make haylage, which like silage preserves itself by a fermentation process. Puss came to survey the result and didn't seem impressed with the black aliens in her field.

Friday, 8 July 2016

Summer wedding

Makes a lovely change from summer weeding! I travelled down to Somerset with eldest son Tom for the wedding of my nephew James and got a chance to catch up with my brother and sister. I was surprised to find I co-ordinated so well with the event's colour scheme!

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

More jam

At the moment our nearest supermarket is selling local strawberries at a reduced price, so I've been using these and supplementing them with my own alpine strawberries to make more jam. It's been a revelation working in small batches and just using a saucepan instead of the preserving pan. It also helps that I have a collection of jars ready and waiting and now tonight I've been designing and printing suitable Hill Farm labels.


Finally the weather looked settled enough to cut the grass ready for haymaking. Of course as soon as this was done we had a deluge ... but the wind has dried it again and today the twizzler came.

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Plant combinations

The wind earlier in the week caused my foxgloves to collapse amongst the red cabbage to truly stunning effect. Whilst I spend time working out my planting combinations nature manages to excel with seemingly no effort.


Dave is fixing up wire supports for my 'The Generous Gardener' rose from David Austin as I hope to eventually train it right across this wall. Something else we saw done superbly at Felley Priory!

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Nacreous sky

Tonight we have nacreous clouds forming in the sky. I believe the rainbow like effect is caused by ice crystals refracting the light as the sun starts to drop down to the horizon. My menfolk are watching football but I would much rather be watching the sky!

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Sparrowhawk sighting

This is the first sparrowhawk that I've seen at Hill Farm. I had to use the internet to identify him but the yellow eyes appear to provide definite confirmation. Not a welcome visitor when so many baby birds are around.