Thursday, 23 February 2017

Storm Doris Bowls Through

The garden boundary of our son's cottage has some very large trees growing alongside.    They are not his trees, they are on estate parkland.    There is one big  tree in particular which overhangs the summer house and is long overdue for some serious attention.

The old summerhouse is where the previous owner's wife, an artist, used to do her paintings.     These days it is the temporary resting place for  new kitchen cupboards.   Fitting them is the next big job to be tackled.

During a lull in the storm (Doris) we decided to take a quick drive along to check on the cottage and the cat.      The cottage was fine, warm and cosy,  but the cat was definitely lonely.   He misses our daughter-in-law, Poppy.   She is back in Shanghai at the moment.       I played with the cat while Max did a little 'pottering'.   He can never resist doing a few odd jobs around the place.

We were almost ready to leave when there was a very loud noise, the tree near the summerhouse had split in two, missing the summerhouse, but crashing into the road.     Fortunately not on top of a vehicle or pedestrian.

From this side it doesn't look too bad, but there was even more behind it.   We'd nipped outside to see whether we could drag it to one side but it was impossible.    Already there were two heavy hay lorries and lots of cars queuing on the far side.  

We made a  quick phone call to the police, who  said it could be a while before they got to the incident because the sudden strong gusts had also taken out quite a few others.   Fair enough.

We locked the house, got into our car and before we had driven out onto the road, another big tree had fallen across it.   This one was about a hundred and fifty yards further along, in the other direction.   We were trapped!

The landowner came along, checked everyone was alright and detailed his men to get things cleared asap.     He also agreed to do something about what is left of the tree overhanging the summerhouse, though not today.     His own house,  set in the parkland to the rear of the cottage, had also received a very near-miss.   A huge tree had just fallen against it,  the uppermost branches just scraping the house, but not causing any serious damage.

Effectively trapped, we went back into the cottage and had a cup of tea, of course!

Almost an hour after the incident the road was still closed but enough space had been created at the side of the first fallen tree for us to squeeze past.      We had to take quite a detour to reach home, but we made it.

Glad to say that Owl Wood is still standing, at the moment, and the hen-house gazebo (only in use because of the Defra restrictions) is still standing.  

This Doris is not nearly as cute and cuddly as her name would suggest.

I am so thankful that nothing worse happened.
Fingers crossed.
Stay safe everyone.

Two Country Mice Travel to the City

Once in a while it becomes necessary to winkle Max out of his comfortable routine around Parsonage Cottage and Owl Wood.    I make him change out of his Wellington boots and beloved work clothes and into something more suited to visiting civilisation.  

We head to Lincoln, Just a 45 minute drive along some beautiful country roads.  

We always park near the Lincoln Cathedral, then walk down the hill.    I didn't have much time for taking photographs, but I managed to take some quick snaps as we progressed.    In this collage you can see the Cathedral to the left, the upper section of Steep Hill to the middle, and a corner of Lincoln Castle to the right.    

All of these were taken from one spot - click, click, click.   No time wasted there.

It was a beautiful day, blue skies, weak sunshine, cool rather than cold.    It was also only nine in the morning, so nice and quiet.   I do love this old city.   It is compact, quirky, steeped in history and very beautiful.

This is the really steep part of Steep Hill, it has a one-in-seven gradient which doesn't sound bad until you come back up it laden with shopping bags.   Suddenly one begins to find all manner of things interesting, in order to take a little pause for breath.    Much of the way is lined with interesting little shops.  

For many years there was a wonderful second-hand book shop, half-way up.   It was called 'The Reader's Rest'.    It got a lot of trade as winded people would stagger in to browse the shelves while they got their breath back.    

My parents loved that shop.  I spent many a happy hour in there with them, for I got my love of reading from my mother and my book-collecting habit from my father.  

Errands run, commissions fulfilled, we take some time to have coffee and cake before heading back up the hills.

Another lovely drive through the countryside and we are home.   The animals greet us with great enthusiasm and love, as though we have been away months rather than just a few hours.

Max immediately gets back into his comfortable clothes and heaves a sigh of relief.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Romping Around the Owl Wood

Last weekend we had all four of our grandchildren together.   This doesn't happen very often, so we had to make the most of it.    

Max had spent a week overhauling their little electric car (a bargain buy on ebay, a number of years ago) and utilising the space behind the driver's seat so that there was room for a passenger.      

Lucky children!  A green sporty two-seater car, maximum speed 4mph - although after chasing it for a number of circuits around the Owl Wood, it seems faster.

Our oldest grandson very kindly acted as chauffeur for much of the time.   Don't worry.  Before he was allowed to use the car he had to take a driving test, practical and theory.     He never lets his sister forget that, because somehow Grandpa has been sweet-talked into letting her loose without taking the same test!

The little chap in the yellow coat is just three years old and totally in love with the car, luckily his legs are not as long as his ambition.   His cousin Merry, however,  is five and has very long legs and lots of confidence.

The dog and I get a great workout as we jog trot alongside.   I also provide a useful boost of 'Granny Power' when the wet clay soil sometimes stops progress.

They all take turns to travel in the car, but sometimes it is difficult for the little chap to accept that.  It would have been simple to let him be a passenger all the time, but we felt it was important to learn to take turns.     Howls of protest.    Taking a ride on a dinosaur helps calm things down.

Round and round and round we go!   They never seem to tire.

We do though.

Luckily it was eventually time for tea and the opportunity to spend some precious time  with our youngest visitor, our 11 week old grandson.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Wild Garlic!

The Owl Wood holds many delights - snowdrops, crocuses, daffodils, bluebells, cuckoo pint, cow parsley, aconites, dandelions, buttercups and violets. plus many more.    It is probably the wild garlic which makes me most excited of all, but watch this space.

Yesterday I had a hunch that there could be some early signs of it, if only I could find the right location.    I ended up on hands and knees, peering through my strongest glasses and brushing away debris and leaves which cloak the woodland floor.    

By now my nose was almost touching the ground, but Yes!  I had found some tiny bits of it, scarcely half an inch long, but by carefully breaking a tiny piece off one, and crushing it between my fingers, I could easily detect that wonderful garlicky smell.

It is tiny, but active.   It won't take much more than a few weeks for it to come through and then I'll be baking wild garlic scones, wild garlic bread (much nicer than 'garlic bread'), quiches, pesto... the possibilities are endless.

The flowers are very attractive, as well as edible.   For a few weeks the woodland floor will look like this.

It is a true seasonal delight.   I carefully replaced the covering of leaves and will leave it to grow, for now.

I also found one violet, tucked away and hidden.   It helps that I know where to look, or I would never have seen that pretty little flower.   

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Buckets, Spades and Rhubarb.

The milder weather, with occasional glimpses of sunshine have really lifted my spirits and energised me.    Suddenly I have become aware of the signs of spring.   

Beautiful catkins.

Drifts of snowdrops near the fairy door in the garden.

The first stalks of rhubarb.

Sunshine, shadows, and snowdrops in our little Owl Wood

and this glorious mass of fungi on an old tree stump.  

It has been lovely.   

Not quite ...

...bucket and spade weather, but very nice after a winter of gloom and heavy cloud.

This is the jolly fisherman statue at Skegness railway station.   

He always makes me smile.

I think someone was having a bit of a laugh when they set him off in the direction of Iceland...

Have a lovely weekend.   We have family coming to stay for the weekend.   Very exciting!

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Looking through the Letter Box

I have two boxes of treasure.    
The brown box is mostly filled with letters written by my late mother.    
The blue box is filled with letters written by my grandparents, my father, and one or two others who I'll tell you about later.

I had a bit of a rummage and a read this afternoon and I learnt some things I hadn't known before.    For example, I discovered my maternal grandfather was 5' 7" tall, which is also my height.  Trivial, I know, but I quite like knowing it.

I also learned that he was one of ten children, which presumably means that there are a whole host of relatives out there, of whom I had no knowledge.   Why, I wonder?

Some of the loveliest things I read this afternoon were letters written by my paternal grandparents.   I grew up living right next door to them until I was seven years old which was when we moved to Hong Kong for three years.    

As I read the letters I could hear my grandparents voices, their beautiful Norfolk accents.   I could see my Nanna's decidedly roly-poly shape encased in her pinafore, and the light glinting off her spectacles, just as I could see Grandad's hand holding the pen.   His hand which was lacking a finger (due to an accident), the big leather belt around his waist,  which he used to pretend would be used on us if we didn't behave ourselves.

My grandmother was kicked in the head by a horse, when she was a child.   She made a 'full' recovery but was left profoundly deaf, so Grandpa had to write notes to her and their house always had plenty of scrap paper and pencils lying around for this purpose.

I smiled at one letter where my grandmother was chiding my father for having put a 5p stamp on his letter, she told him that he should only have used a 4p one.   Typical Gran!

My mother was an extremely good correspondent, she wrote long and interesting letters to all the family and it was lovely to see how much they appreciated them, even though the responses were rather stilted as they struggled to find something newsworthy to write.

I took a trip back in time and it was a very enjoyable experience.

I was quite surprised to find that my mother had kept letters from some of the young men I had been out with before I fell instantly in love with my handsome husband!   

Those letters went into the bin,  just as it began to get a bit noisy out on the patio.

Two of my grandchildren had decided to call in for a visit - they live right next door, so it gets busy over here during half-terms and holidays.

Today they wanted to visit the hens, walk the dog, and bake some cakes.

No more time for looking through letter boxes and walking down memory lane today!

It is time to build some happy memories for my own grandchildren.