Wednesday, 31 August 2016


Now girls what do you think you're doing? For a while, over the last couple of days, we were the proud owners of over a hundred sheep that WEREN'T ours! Asked by the first farmer we contacted what they looked like I was tempted to say: four legs, white and woolly, but I think something more technical was hoped for. Eventually this morning one man and his dog came to take them home after their bank holiday adventures!

A young hare

I didn't sleep very well last night and by half past five decided I may as well get up. I'd made a cup of tea and was watching some wrens in the garden when this young hare came by. He paused for a while before loping off across the field.

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Capability Brown

On the 300th anniversary of his birth, the view from our garden could have been designed by Capability Brown himself - there is the most perfect vista with Doveridge church aligned through a gap in the trees.

Friday, 26 August 2016


A new lot of baby swallows are busy with low flying operations in the garden. Each time we venture outside they are sweeping about in the company of their parents. Unfortunately for them, now we've removed all the overhead cables from Hill Farm, they have had to make use of tall branches of hawthorn to 'park up' on.

Skip time

Dave in his wisdom ordered a skip which arrived on probably the hottest day of the year so far ... and what do you do on a baking day, why of course you drag out a whole lot of rubbish left at the farm by its previous owners. Not the most pleasant of jobs but it will be satisfying to see so much stuff cleared out from the barns.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Bird on a hot tin roof

Well not quite but I had to laugh, this very young collared dove was sitting on top of our chimney cowl for ages watching the baby swallows dash by.


I didn't know that we had any nuts yet on our hazel bushes until there weren't any left. I spotted these nibbled remains lying at the bottom of the hedge. Next year I will have to be more vigilant. We have very few squirrels so I wonder whether a mouse enjoyed this feast.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Small Copper

Dave spotted this Small Copper butterfly sunning itself on the lawn. It really was very small and as it likes to eat nettles and docks it is a very welcome friend.

Summer time

The sweet peas are in full flower and we even have blue skies - yes it must be summer here at Hill Farm.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Pond progress

Whilst Dave inspects the pond situation we already have a happy pair of dragonflies taking advantage of the water. There are also lots of freshwater shrimps and pondweed all delighted with progress so far. Most days the heron also flies by to check on how things are going!

Sunday, 21 August 2016

The pond

The pond saga continues.... Dave decided to try and block up the drainage pipe (where the water disappeared down earlier in the year) but did so in the pouring rain! Gradually water is collecting but as you can see the summer spring water is only coming in at a trickle.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Growing up

This young collared dove must have just fledged from one of the nests in our barn. I came outside and saw it trying out Dave's ladder, but whilst Mum called frantically from the chimney pot, the baby just sat and watched me with great curiosity. Earlier I saw the mother pheasant with her offspring in the long grass by the orchard, they are now almost the same size but you can tell the mother bird as she is so vigilant in her care, sitting upright, ever watchful and alert while the youngster explores - now in the long grass, now under the blackberry bushes ...

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Wow: flower power

Because they spoil in the rain I picked a big bunch of dahlias and sweet peas to bring indoors. The colours are absolutely zing-ing and the scent of the deepest coloured sweet peas is wonderful.

Red sky at night

The setting sun looked spectacular this evening and I sat outside watching it drop down towards the hills behind us. Even late the bees are still around and the scent from my Buddleia 'Lochinch' outside the back door is drifting around the garden. All day it's been covered in butterflies: Red Admirals, Peacocks and Painted Ladies (what wonderful names they have).


We decided that we better dig our onions up before the forecast rain. I worked to tie then into bunches and then strung them along the barn supports so that they can 'air dry' in the gales that are scheduled for this weekend! They looked very pretty when I was done and fortunately it was still just about light enough to take a photograph. I hate the evenings drawing in so fast.

Happy eating

This afternoon a friend came round and helped me pick blackberries from the hedges opposite the farm. We made a good team as Helen is tall and between us not many escaped (I'm normally stuck with the very best fruit hanging just out of my reach). She also bought me the gift of a lovely yellow courgette (my yellow courgette plant having made a nice slug sized snack earlier in the year). I turned it into supper with dill from the front garden, a few runner beans, a sprinkling of peas, a couple of spring onions and a tiny bit of smoked salmon that was waiting in the freezer - summer happiness on a plate.

The pond project

This was what Dave was strimming when he missed seeing the plane. We are having another attempt at getting our prospective pond to actually contain water. We've found where it disappeared to (down one of two drainage pipes) and so plan B is to try and bung this up with clay and see if the puddled clay will keep the water in, although I guess we are going to have to wait longer for results than we did with the sodden winter soil.

A huge plane

I had to laugh as while I was gardening this morning an absolutely enormous plane flew overhead, when I asked Dave (who'd been strimming) what he thought it was ... he said he hadn't heard or seen it!!! Research on the internet suggests that it is possibly an A400M Atlas based at RAF Brize Norton which would make sense.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Tiny planes

This flotilla of micro lights flew over us early this evening. The noise they made was disproportionate to their tiny size! You'd laugh but there were specs on this photo that I tried to edit out before I realised that they are actually thunder flies which have somehow got behind the computer screen!

Butterfly time

The butterflies are late this year but now that they are here the buddleia outside the back door is alive with them. I saw a blue butterfly earlier, flying above the ivy that clambers through the tall hedging but it didn't settle and so I couldn't photograph and positively identify it, but it seems most likely that it was a 'common blue'. The Butterfly Conservation website tells us that: the brightly coloured males are conspicuous but females are more secretive. (ah yes!)

Early morning

I woke to a misty start this morning with the light catching the hills behind us and sunshine touching the top of the hedge as I looked up the lane. The grass underfoot was wet with dew and I could hear sheep calling down by the church. At the weekend one made her way into the the churchyard and I tried unsuccessfully to return her to the field - but a determined sheep is a surprisingly solid object - I caught hold of her but then couldn't actually get a suitable grip to pick her up and poke her back through the hedge - a phone call to her owner was necessary as I admitted defeat.


I love the way that the wasps enjoy drinking water, wherever it occurs in the garden you'll find them trying to drink but absolutely their favourite place is the edge of the bird bath and yes I find myself topping it up specially for them if I notice they are struggling to reach.

More birds

As I type this I can here the buzzard calling on high. I love these birds although I know they act as predators but there is something so wild about their cry. Elsewhere this morning I laughed to see the opportunist robin trying out this garden light for size. Maybe he felt he was entitled to a podium position after all his hard work collecting little insects from the newly dug flower bed.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Amazing sky

A challenging evening spent trying to combine the excitement of watching the Olympics (with gold medals for us in the cycling) whilst looking at the amazing evening sky! The others were watching Burton Albion achieve their first home victory of the season, so a successful night all round!

Bedroom view

If you stay in either of our B&B rooms this is the view that you will wake up too - I may be biased but I think it is pretty special, and judging by their comments so do our guests!

Monday, 15 August 2016

A borrowed toy

Dave had 'fun' trying out a ride on mower borrowed from a friend. The verdict was that our bumpy grass doesn't really make the grade as a 'lawn' and it now looks like the poor badly shorn sheep from the 'Specsavers' ad - full of overly short bits from the bumps and shaggy areas from the dips. Maybe not a purchase we'll be making any time soon.

The mid-summer garden

Finally we have some very welcome blue skies above Hill Farm. It's been a funny summer weather wise, very dry but with much more cloud than sun and we've also had more than our share of strong and sometimes cold winds. Despite this we are harvesting peas, beans, potatoes, parsnips, strawberries and raspberries in plenty but so far only one courgette, the sweetcorn is slow and we lost all our second sowing of lettuce and carrots to the slugs. At least we have something home grown to add to every meal at the moment.

Sunday, 14 August 2016


As I put up these photos I wonder why all the birds are facing the same way! We have either a second pair of collared doves making a nest or our resident pair have decided to relocate. Unfortunately they've chosen a spot immediately above where Dave has been working in the barn sanding down a door (with inevitable consequences!) The red legged partridge and his wife like to potter along the side of the road in the morning looking for their favourite dandelion seed heads, but on this occasion I photographed them by the top of the Big Field. The house martins are another bird that likes our lane, on summer evenings a whole little flock of them will sweep down presumably collecting mud for emergency house repairs. When we first came here we mistook them for swallows but they are much more gregarious and easy to spot with their white undersides.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

Another summer project

Taking advantage of the fine weather and no visitors Dave decides that the window for the big bathroom needs some attention. It turns out to be a rather larger repair job than anticipated, but it stays dry for the painting and is another thing that can be ticked off the list. (The work was slightly delayed though by very strong winds which made working up a ladder not the best option!)

Friday, 12 August 2016

Painted ladies

Suddenly this week there are lots of 'painted ladies' appearing in our front garden! These butterflies are enjoying a midsummer nectar feast from the vebena bonariensis which is flowering everywhere (alongside dill and marigolds), whilst the bees enjoy the last of the borage.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Hot stuff

My new bed is now planted with heleniuims, crocosmia, buddleia and honeysuckle designed to create a mid to late summer planting of hot colours and fragrance. I also have lavender, rosemary and thyme. This area will always be fairly dry as it is next to the hedge and so I reconsidered what to grow here as I worked to dig the soil over. One advantage of manual labour is that there is plenty of time for thinking. Now I need to prepare the rest of the area which I want to plant up during the autumn.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016


The first of the blackberries are ripening and we had a delicious blackberry and apple crumble with plenty of custard and cream.