Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Huffing and puffing








Germs are circling the homestead this week.  Nothing major, just colds and shivers, that kind of thing.  I've taken the children to school in the car for the past two days.  They were making noises about staying at home.  I said something like, "We can go in the car, but you'll have to get ready now".  It worked like a charm thereby avoiding an epic battle.  I felt guilty all day both days though.  And it means I haven't had much exercise, which has left me feeling a bit grouchy.  Maybe the germs are circling me as well.  I've been horribly snappy and grumpy and I feel like I need to run up the road as fast as I can.  I'm in my pyjamas though, so I probably won't.  Although let's not rule it out.

We're still enjoying a few home grown veggies.  I'd been thinking that there was nothing home grown left, but when I really thought about it I found quite a few things.  The last of the onions and garlic, a couple of big turk's turban squashes and one last small ukichi kuri, leeks, the last of the sprouts, a little kale, chard and spinach, in the freezer: the last tub of tomato sauce, borlotti beans, blackcurrants, tayberries and blackberries.  Quite a feast.

I used the last of the little squash to make soup.  Some onions, carrots, red lentils, coconut, ginger and nutmeg.  I put the first few snippings of chives on the top.  It was good, thick and hot and fragrant.

I planted some tomatoes today.  I'm sure I sowed some in February last year, but early March is good enough.  They're tucked up in the nice warm kitchen now.  No heated propagators here, but the kitchen is a cosy place, never particularly cold.  The chillies germinated beautifully, no doubt the tomatoes will too.  I've sown Sungold, which always do well for me, Ferline, which have some blight resistance, Golden Sunrise (thank you Flighty), Mastkotka (thank you Jane) and Totem, which I've seen recommended by a couple of bloggers.  I've also ordered some Orkado seeds, they've had good reviews, and I like to try two or three new varieties every year.  I don't know what it is about them, but growing tomatoes is quite addictive.  They're tricky, and sometimes the yields are really low, really low, but every year I keep on trying with them.

The tree picture is from a very brief walk we did on Sunday.  Everyone let me choose what I wanted to do.  (This almost never happens).  I picked a walk up on the common.  Twenty minutes in and the horizontal icy rain started.  They all wanted to go home.  So we did.  The did manage to climb a quick tree first, and pick up some sticks, do a bit of whittling and I found a golf ball.  So it wasn't a wasted trip.

I'm going to have a bit of a sit on the sofa now with my eyes closed if you don't mind.  Enjoy the rest of the week friends.  CJ xx

Friday, 27 February 2015

The February allotment


There are little shoots appearing down at the plot.  Garlic and onions, rhubarb and sedums.  I spent the morning there today, pulling out a few weeds, picking some of the biggest boy's precious leeks, spreading precious compost over the bare earth and making a short paved path to the water butt.  It was deliciously warm, once I got moving, almost t-shirt weather.

A robin watched me closely, waiting for worms.  Birds were flitting about in the trees around the edge of the site.  It occurred to me that I have one of the nicest plots.  Away from the road, next to the trees.  I can hear the stream flowing past just a few feet away.  The water is beautifully clear.  The little hazel copse has been trimmed back.  The harvested hazel will be used for bean sticks.  I took a nest box with me to put up, but in the end I didn't have the necessary equipment.  I'll do it next time.  Ideally it should be up already, but better late than never.

A couple of derelict plots have been taken over by the most enthusiastic people.  It's great to see overgrown patches of couch grass and bindweed turned into clean bare earth ready for spring planting.  Fruit bushes have been put in, sheds erected, broad beans sown.  Vive allotments and vive enthusiastic allotmenteers.

The leeks were pretty good.  The biggest boy did almost all the work himself, sowing them, potting them up, planting them out, weeding and watering.  I took over when he broke his knee cap.  It seems quite a long time ago.  Thankfully he's back at full throttle now.  There will be football this weekend, probably a hard-fought match.  I will be watching two matches at the same time.  Not sure how that will work.  I hope you have a good weekend, whatever you will be doing.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Salt water, a quandary and some inherited clumsiness













There were huge tides on the River Severn this weekend, it was time for the Severn Bore, a big wave that runs up the upper reaches of the river.  At the wildfowl and wetlands place we go to the floodplain had been covered at high tide.  It's a rare Atlantic salt marsh habitat, and excellent for all sorts of wetlands birds.  The weather was hideous, and I hunkered down in the corner of a hide at the top of a tower while the real birders opened all the windows and let the rain and the force ten gale in.  I took a big flask of cocoa (unsweetened - Lent).  It was actually very peaceful up there, just gazing out at the river and the hills in the distance and thinking quiet thoughts.  One of my happy places.  Sometimes the proper birders find something wonderful with their telescopes and they let us have a look.  Say, a peregrine falcon or a marsh harrier, something like that.  If I have the binoculars I look at the little houses on the other side of the river and wonder if the grass is greener over there.

Back on the ground a squirrel was helping himself to the bird food from the feeder.  He hung upside down like that for ages.  If you look closely you can see two rats underneath, picking up anything that's dropped.  There are lots there at the moment, apparently it's a good year for rats.

My blog friend Teresa sent me a lovely crocheted heart and wrote me a sweet card in her beautiful calligraphy.  It's something I'd love to try one day when there's miraculously more time.  It made me happy when the postman dropped the envelope on the mat, all the way from Oregon.  So kind and thoughtful.

The first seedlings are up.  Apricot chillies, planted a couple of weeks ago.  I don't have a fancy heated thing to put them in, so I just kept them in the warm kitchen, next to the bread machine.  It worked a treat.  I bought the seeds on Ebay, and seven out of eight have germinated.  Apricot chillies are supposed to be really mild.  We shall see.

I went looking for snowdrops this afternoon.  The church is having a little roof repair at the moment.  The snowdrops are looking beautiful though, down at the other end of the churchyard.  I don't know what variety they are, but the ground is thick with them.

Oh the home front the littlest boy is needing eye drops.  Any tips for how this might possibly be accomplished gratefully received.  I did get one in his ear.  He can't even do it for chocolate buttons.  (Yes, I do employ bribery wherever possible.)

I'm in a quandary over whether to crochet a blanket or knit a cardigan.  A friend gave me a voucher for yarn, I need to spend it wisely.  Such a large project will probably last me for years, so I'm not rushing in to anything.  I'm still slowly sewing a quilt or two.  And I have a couple of little cross stitch projects knocking around.  Maybe I shouldn't start anything else just yet.  But then again, if the mood to knit strikes it would be terrible to be projectless.  The middle boy and I share a complete inability to make decisions.  We agonise over the smallest thing for days and days.  If I ask him what birthday cake he would like, two weeks before his birthday, I can guarantee that the day before no decision will still have been reached.  The littlest boy and I share a humongous clumsiness.  He came home from school with an injury note yesterday.  Then he fell off the bed and hurt himself.  Then two minutes later he fell of the bed again and hurt himself even more.  This evening he hit his face on the table.  I actually remember regularly running upstairs and hitting my shin really hard when I was little.  He does that all the time too.  I do hope they get some good stuff from me as well as the dodgy qualities.  Although I can't think of what that might be offhand.  If I come to a yarny decision I shall let you know.  Your thoughts on the subject, or in fact any subject, will be very welcome.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Half term ramblings










How fast half term flies by.  There's been sunshine, roller skating, rain, football, fires, mud, hair cuts and pancakes.  Now it's Lent and I've given up sweet things and salty snacks.  I've done it before and I know that the first few days are the worst.  I went years eating almost no sweet food, but these days I like a pudding every day.  Sugar doesn't really agree with me though, so I always feel so much better when I give it up.  Just need to get through those first few days.  There's millionaire's shortbread in the fridge, with really thick plain chocolate on top.  Sigh.  Let's not talk about that now.

We took a walk by the canal.  It's sixteen feet deep which makes me ever so slightly nervous.  I tried to keep them away from the edge.  Especially the small slippery one.  The biggest boy spotted a goldcrest in the hedge, Britain's smallest bird (along with the firecrest).  It was the first one he'd ever seen, so he was glad we dragged him out.  The boys usually complain about going on walks, but once they're there they're happy as clams.

The littlest boy is thinking about going to live with the Queen.  I told him he'll be able to have a corgi and almost certainly a pony as well.  The biggest boy told him he could have his own cow too if he wanted.  I forget why we were talking about cows, you know how these conversations ramble on.  He wondered if he could have a trampoline.  I said he could have one in his room, the rooms are so big.  I think I shall go too.  A footman will bring me a perfectly boiled egg in the morning, on a nice tray with a glass of orange juice and the post.  After breakfast I'll take a turn around the shrubbery.  Oh it's going to be grand.  Anyone you'd like to move in with?  Do tell.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

The Colour Collaborative: February: Precious


The most precious things in life aren't ones that directly cost money.  For me, they are time, memories, happy moments with the children.


Life can be quite full and overwhelming a lot of the time, making those quiet moments very precious.  As the days and weeks fly by, it's important to try and fit in those good times whenever we can.


They don't have to be holiday moments, just a little time when the demands of the everyday world recede and life is stripped back to what's important.  They don't have to last for hours, just a quiet time at home or a short walk together is enough.


There's often a blue or a green haze over my memories.  Sky, sea, nature.  The things that don't change too fast, the simple things that have been the same all my life, and that will still be the same after I'm gone.  These are the places we choose to be together.  The countryside, the seaside.  Hours spent wandering, chatting, exploring.  Precious times indeed.


To visit the other Colour Collaborative blogs for more of this month's posts, just click on the links below:

          Annie at Annie Cholewa                                    Gillian at Tales from a Happy House

          Sandra at Cherry Heart                                    Jennifer at Thistlebear

And this month's guest poster, Sarah at Mitenska

What is The Colour Collaborative?

All creative bloggers make stuff, gather stuff, shape stuff, and share stuff. Mostly they work on their own, but what happens when a group of them work together? Is a creative collaboration greater than the sum of its parts? We think so and we hope you will too. We'll each be offering our own monthly take on a colour related theme, and hoping that in combination our ideas will encourage us, and perhaps you, to think about colour in new ways.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Fire and knives







































You know it's been a good weekend when there's been a little birthday celebrating.  When a nine year old is happy with his gifts of a Swiss Army knife, a flint and steel fire starter and a fire bowl.  When there's been skating and scooting and skateboarding and the directions to the hospital weren't needed after all.  When a football match has been won and a goal has been scored and another set up.  When the littlest boy fell out of a tree, and only winded himself and ripped his trousers.

We took the little people to an indoor skate park on Saturday, as a birthday treat for the middle boy.  We went to Cirencester afterwards for a wander.  Most of the photos are from there.  The yew hedge is the biggest in Britain.  Quite amazing.  I love the houses there, all that beautiful Cotswold stone.  A nice antidote to the indoor skate park.  The biggest boy was bitten by a dog in the park though.  Dog owners that don't control their dogs make me SO cross.  The owner vanished without so much as an apology.  It was a nasty bite.  It made him feel quite rubbish, it hurt, and it was upsetting that someone didn't really care that he was hurt.

Overall a good weekend here though.  What with the fire and the knives and the scooting and the skating I feel that we have the makings of a circus act.  We're tired now, muddy, bruised and smelling of wood smoke.  Which is how it should be I think.  Wishing you all a good week.  CJ xx