Monday, 31 July 2017

A British summer

The weather has been awful this last week with strong winds that blew the bunting down and after such a dry spell, very heavy rain which is pouring down the lane to the village. Time to focus on indoor tasks for a while I think and hope August delivers summer sun.

Thursday, 27 July 2017


It's been a day of rain here but also of rainbows shining across the field opposite. I ran down the garden trying to keep the camera lens dry to grab this shot.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Evening stalking

Wandering around the garden this evening I noticed puss on her rounds. She barely acknowledges us these days but still comes to the farm to hunt for voles. Any thoughts of taming her are long gone.


Last year very late frosts meant that we lost virtually all our apple blossom, resulting in almost no crop. This year though is a year of plenty and as you can see from my photograph the early ripening variety 'discovery' is already laden with fruit.

Pretty sky

Tonight it's turned windy but there is sunshine here and a very pretty sky. I went out to tie in the long growths on my pumpkins which seem to extend by several inches each day.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Gardening - again

July has been a really busy month for us with the B&B and but now we have a little gap in bookings and so it's been time to turn my attention to the garden which once again appears in urgent need of weeding! Dave meanwhile has just finished repairing the barn roof which lost tiles during the winter storms and then work was delayed by nesting wagtails, now however it's something else to tick off the 'to do' list.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

An English Summer

Today I packed up a glorious picnic in my posh wicker basket for guests going to an outdoor cinema screening of Tarzan at Keddleston Hall (including as shown the fixings for their Pimms). We then went to Dovefest but after an incredibly dry few weeks it poured with steady rain all night, still we had fun and the plants were grateful for their soaking, even if the guests weren't.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Bathroom lavender

All winter I've kept a peppermint scented geranium (pelargonium) in the big bathroom but as the year has progressed it's got increasingly leggy so today I decided I had to remove it. It's been replaced by this beautiful lavender. I love to keep scented plants where you can really appreciate them.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017


(Yes they are meant to be yellow and the leaves mottled!) Last year was a very disappointing one for this crop and we had to rely on friends for courgettes, this year though we are back in production. They made the perfect supper for vegetarian guests staying here, I stuffed them, topped them with breadcrumbs and cheese and there were roasted pumpkin seeds, brown rice and a garden salad to go with them followed by blackcurrant and apple crumble.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Jam today

Our alpine strawberries are finally starting to produce enough fruit to make jam. I mix them with full size ones and spent a busy afternoon over a hot stove but with satisfying results. Our church is having a grand raffle this summer and 'a cream tea at Hill Farm' is one of the prizes so the jam-making is a must.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

More grass cutting

This has been a very good year here for grass and already by mid July the second cut is being taken (unfortunately our irrigation hose also got cut but that's another story!) When it came to blowing the grass out into the trailer the wind was so strong most of it seemed to go over the tractor!

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Vintage delights

I took myself off to Uttoxeter's Antique and Collectors Fair today and came home with a rather curious assortment of items with which I was delighted: a mother and baby hare jelly mould, a pretty green Prinknash pottery jug, a Beswick goldcrest with a tiny chip on his beak and a large china leek! (All for a total spend of £11). As Dave was away in Scotland for a weekend of golf I felt I was entitled to a little extravagance!!

The Prinknash Abbey Pottery was founded in 1942 by the monks when they found a seam of clay during some building work. 

Friday, 14 July 2017

Hare-ing about

It's been a good evening for hare watching tonight. Two of them have been racing about the field and rolling on their backs in the shallow scrapes of earth that make up their 'forms'.Once again failing light has stopped my photographs but not their play.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

A special landscape

We have such a glorious outlook here at Hill Farm and the scenery in our part of the Derbyshire Dales seems especially timeless. This week it's been a pleasure to share it with friends from Texas.

Tissington fun

Today we went to Tissington with my friend Dianne and her husband. After careers travelling the world and now living in Texas, it was our first chance to meet up in over three decades! I was particularly delighted to be able to take them to Bassettwood Tea Room where the cows look through the barn window at the tempting cakes just out of reach!

Four babies

Looking out from the kitchen window I realised that Mrs Pheasant actually had three babies but then a little later looking carefully I spotted four! (In the bottom photo the two on the left are walking side by side in front of mum). I hope, but doubt that she manages to keep them all. The magpie flew down but I was impressed to see the babies, as well as the mother shooing it off. It is very distracting when you are trying to cook guests their breakfasts and you keep seeing things you HAVE to take pictures of!

Tuesday, 11 July 2017


Lots of home grown produce for our supper tonight. The first of our courgettes are also appearing to join lettuce, radish, potatoes (now we are eating Nadine), spring onions and of course edible flowers!

Mrs Pheasant

I was watching this hen pheasant sheltering in the base of our hedge from the sudden and very welcome rain. I noticed her undercarriage heaving and suddenly out popped a baby bird that she had been keeping dry beneath her!

Rain at last

Recently rain has been forecast and we've watched dark clouds pass straight over us. Today I took a cup of coffee outside and watched amazed as heavy rain began to fall on the other side of the field but not on me! Fortunately it soon made it's way across but it was such an extraordinary sight that I called Dave so he could witness it too. I remember my mother saying that her father had taken her outside one evening to show her rain falling on the other side of the street but not on theirs and telling her how rare this was to see.

Summer garden

It's very much a summer garden here now with the first freshness having gone over and instead things are ripening and setting seed. It has been a very dry few weeks and we are having to get the hose out at night to rescue our fruit, vegetables and new plantings. Finally though my sweet peas are in bloom and this year I've grown a row of Californian Poppies from seed and these too are now looking good, they shut completely at night and re-open in the morning. Gardening these days operates around the swallows nesting in our dairy where we keep our tools - instead I have to pop in and quickly gather all I might need to reduce their disturbance. They meanwhile are much less caring and have created rather a large mess for us to sort out when the single, very large baby fledges.

Monday, 10 July 2017

Moths and butterflies

The garden is suddenly full of butterflies as the weather warms up (understatement!) and while I was trying to photograph them this tiger moth flew overhead. At this time of year a lot of the butterflies are almost permanently on the wing and so I wait for ages so that I can grab a photo once they've landed but by the time the camera has focused on them they're gone again. The exceptions are the cabbage whites and these small tortoiseshells.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Full moon

Going upstairs tonight I was struck by the size of the full moon. Sunrises, sunsets, full moons, hares, butterflies ... and the sound of the owl at night, who could ask for more.

V sign

How to spot a hare .... first you look at the grass and realise that the V shape isn't an errant dock but a pair of ears, then you sit, wait, wait some more and watch!

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Cardboard box sheep

The shops in Ashbourne had decorated their windows to celebrate the fair and I felt that the best display had to be these amazing cardboard box sheep in The Flower Shop of Ashbourne, so clever and effective.

Ashbourne Sheep Fair

Today we went to Ashbourne to the Sheep Fair, it was great fun with a variety of sheep penned in the central market square including some ridiculously expensive ones from Switzerland the Valais Blacknose with fancy coats and horns. I have to say the Herdwick, Welsh Mountain and Badger Face were much more to my taste (just as well thinks Dave!)

A light lunch

Today we have guests staying here to attend a local wedding. They decided lunch beforehand might be a wise idea and it was fun to be preparing lunch for a change. I thought, with Wimbledon on, it had to be sponge with home made strawberry jam and strawberries and cream for dessert.

Friday, 7 July 2017

Three in one

I finally manage to get the three hares all in a single photo (I won't confess to the hours of watching I've spent!) The trouble is that they really like to come out to play when the light is almost gone.

Just watching!

Life would be more productive but much less fun without the hares. They disappear for ages and then return. Judging by their behaviour I'd say there is an adult and two youngsters (although there is little size difference). The two youngsters though are very boisterous, racing and chasing about the field whilst the third (adult?) just sits quietly enjoying the fresh re-growth of grass.