Thursday 27 April 2017

Meet my Best Friends...

Frozen Peas
A Hot Bag
A Soak in the Bath
Pain Killers
my Chiropractor.

Can't sit, can't lie down, can't stand for long
and worst of all,
can't sleep.
Some muscles in my back keep going into spasm.

Chiropractor worked some magic today.
Slightly less pain now.
Thank goodness.

Saturday 22 April 2017

Done at the Gallop

We visited the small market town of Louth.   It was a brief visit - Max only bought a one hour parking ticket - so everything was done at a gallop.  

The town is tiny, so it wouldn't have been so bad if the shops I wanted to visit hadn't been as far away from each other as it is possible to be.   Just as well I am reasonably fleet of foot, for an oldie.

Photograph borrowed from remembering the old ways blogspot

As I was making my way to the Health Food Co-op I saw two very smartly dressed little girls with their parents, they were just leaving the market place.   Something clicked in my brain and before I'd reached my destination I had the answer... I remembered where I'd seen these twins and their mother.   The mother writes the Remembering the Old Ways blog - which is filled with beautifully evocative photographs.

The twins were dressed in beautiful matching winter coats and their mother wore a lovely vintage jacket and skirt.  

Louth Market Place

As I walked back to the other end of the town I fell to thinking about how beautifully turned out the girls were.   I know that my own children would have fought against being dressed like that, my grandchildren would definitely rebel.   They like to choose their own clothing each day.

Thank goodness for school uniforms.   No arguments on school days!

I didn't have time to take photographs yesterday.    These photographs of Louth are some I used in one of my previous blogs, years before I began 'Parsonage Cottage'.

Nothing much changes in Louth.   Shops may relocate, others go out of business, new ones come in.

The market is held on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with a Farmers Market on the 4th Wednesday of the month, Food Market on 2nd Friday of the month, and Craft Markets 3rd Saturday of the month through the summer.    Then, of course, there is the cattle market and that is held once a week 'up the hill'.

Truly a market town.

These are just a couple of the old terraced houses.  Lovely, characterful places.

Purchases made, I was back at the car with ten minutes to spare.

We were soon heading home.

Monday 17 April 2017

The First Flaming Parrot has Arrived!

Our gardens are fairly quiet.
Soft undulating borders, pretty flowers
plenty of lawns.
Old stone.
Old people.

Drifts of cream and green tulips.

Purple beauties
lots of weeds!

Each spring we are visited by some very noisy parrots.

The first one has arrived and is unfurling his petals.
Loud, clashing colours.
Totally outrageous!
They screech across the garden, refuse to be hushed.
I love them!

Their name?  Flaming Parrots.

A Rare Sight

I adore seeing all my family together; it is a rare enough event to have them all in the same country, never mind in the same house, at the same time.   This weekend we all came together for a family meal and the annual Easter Egg Hunt in Owl Wood.

Normally I manage to avoid being photographed.   Phone cameras are sneaky, Poppy caught me on hers.  

So here I am.   No makeup, scruffy jeans and jumper, dog walking coat, Wellies.    The real me.     It was the closing stages of the great Easter Egg Hunt.

Three trails had been laid, three maps handed out.   The routes were graded for difficulty, according to the age of the child.   Two children like chocolate, one doesn't.   Nothing is ever simple in our house!

The children had a great time, so did the adults.

Afterwards, the young ones had a celebratory drive around the wood.

Our second-youngest grandson achieved one of his ambitions.   He got to drive the little green car.   His legs were just long enough to reach the pedals.   The centre bottom picture in the collage shows his Mama hanging on to the back of the car, terrified as her speed-merchant three-year old ran into tree after tree...  

She hung on to the back of that car like a superhero!   A mama hen protecting her chick.   (Grandpa had it all in hand, there was no danger.)
The youngling thought he had driven like a proper driver and wanted to drive their real car home to London.   Luckily, his legs don't reach those pedals, yet.

Next year this little one will want a basket and some chocolate eggs, but just for now he is content to sit on Grandpa's knee.

Tuesday 11 April 2017

Discovering the Queen's Hoard

It has been an exciting week here at Parsonage Cottage.   Our vegetable garden was sadly neglected last year, because we were so busy helping to renovate our son's cottage.     Now that those cottage renovations are almost complete we have been able to turn our attention to our vegetable garden.


This has involved lots of digging, plenty of soil shifting, hoeing and raking because we have decided to remove three of the growing beds, leaving us just four large beds, the greenhouse and the polytunnel - more than enough work for us, especially given the size of the other gardens and Owl Wood.

The low brick wall will sweep around and enclose the vegetable garden with a lavender hedge.

We do ok for a couple of oldies, but we just don't have the same energy levels as we had 11 years ago when we established the original vegetable garden.  

Not much baking has taken place this week, though, due to a lack of eggs.    Our girls seemed to have stopped laying.    After five or six days, and still no eggs, we decided that we needed to investigate further.    Could someone be 'borrowing' the eggs, or perhaps the rats were eating them...

No, Queen Mab, leader of the flock, had taken up part time broodiness and had somehow managed to get the other two to lay their eggs in the same place as her - under a mountain of sticks and fallen branches which will soon be used for making chippings.   She was well hidden but young Eagle Eye found her.

Last year she went broody a couple of times, but on those occasions she simply hid herself away with her own eggs, not turning up for food  or bedtime.    The other hens continued to lay as normal.

Poor Queen Mab, she was a tad grumpy when we took the eggs away.

Saturday 8 April 2017

Over the Garden Gate

I have a busy day ahead of me.   However, there is just enough time for a bit of a gossip, 'over the garden gate'.

I met the new neighbour, she is very nice indeed.  So are her animals.   This is just two of her four beautiful dogs.

As you know, I don't use real names on this blog, so I'll call their owner 'Arabella'.   Now let's hope I don't do this by mistake, next time I meet her!

Arabella is an excellent horsewoman, she used to compete at a very high level.   Her beloved horses are 'Lady' (for blogging purposes) and

this one is 'Sir'.

I was a little perplexed by small bundles of animal hair which I kept finding in Owl Wood.   I began to think that murder was being committed there,  on a nightly basis.

Eventually it dawned on me, birds are stealing the hair which comes out when Lady is groomed.   I imagine it makes for a very cosy nest lining!   Mystery solved, thank goodness.

Tuesday 4 April 2017

Hubble Bubble + Parsonage Gardens

I need to get myself a cauldron.    The dandelion brew which I made, for cleaning the windows, etc, is so good that I should really go into production and market the stuff!

I found the recipe in a stray page of a very cheaply produced recipe book which probably dates from around a hundred years ago.      My daughter was sceptical but she has requested a bottle of the brew now she has seen how well it works.

A cauldron would be great fun, I could have a small fire in Owl Wood with the cauldron on a tripod ready for brewing the dandelion mixture.     The more I think about it, the more I like the idea!    I could become the village witch...

Many years ago I had a cauldron.  It was when I was 'The Old Woman who Lived in a Shoe' - on a carnival float.    I was about 15 or 16 years old - so that makes it almost half a century ago!

One of the props was a big black, three legged cauldron, you can just see it in the bottom left of the picture.   That's me in the yellow dress, my younger brother was Little Jack Horner.   I'm not sure he ever forgave my mother for making him wear that outfit - the big white collar and bow, the daft hat, but hey, I had to wear a mop cap.   Mortification all round.

Other teenagers were doing music festivals and having fun!

*     *     *

Meanwhile, back in the here and now.

The primroses have been quite wonderful this year, these steps lead up to the old herb garden.   The brick structure is all that remains of what used to be the privy for the main house.   It had become unsafe, so we dismantled most of it but turned it into the herb garden.   Chives and rosemary are doing really well at the moment, everything else will catch up in time.

The first tulips are out, but the ones I am really looking forward to seeing again are those crazy parrot tulips.   Terribly bright, loud, flashy, not my usual style at all.  Yet I really like them!

Foliage of every colour, but down at the base of the old birdbath the first of the forget-me-nots are appearing.

A little play with the macro setting on the camera and their sweet beauty is revealed.

They will soon be bursting into bloom here.  

The colour of these grape hyacinths is beautiful but, sometimes, all I really need to make me smile

is a daisy.    I love to see them dotted around in the lawn!  

As you can see, we don't keep a bowling green lawn.    This part of the garden leads on to Owl Wood, you can just see the top of the hens gazebo to the middle left, though you would probably have to enlarge the photograph.   The old herb garden is on the right.

There is quite a way to go but spring is beginning to to brighten up the place.    

Talking of brightening up the place - our beautiful daughter-in-law, Poppy, is flying in from Shanghai tomorrow evening.    


We are so looking forward to having you home, Poppy!

Saturday 1 April 2017

Owl Wood Tales

Several years ago I began drawing and writing a journal all about Owl Wood.   I thought it would be fun to record some of the animals, flowers and birds which come to take up residence.
This is the map which I drew for my grandchildren, it needs updating, but it gives you a general idea of the place

This is the area shown to the top left-hand side of the map, by the log store.
The gazebo is attached to the hen house; we put it there
when we had to keep the hens in quarantine during the recent bird flu epidemic.

The birds have roamed free for a few weeks now but we
are reluctant to dismantle the gazebo, just in case.

The important part of the photograph is the row of pots and tubs around the stumps.
They contain young trees which will soon be planted in Owl Wood.

Rowans, Crab Apples, Wild Cherries and Silver Birch.
A  lovely selection, and they were all 
Someone had wildly over estimated what they required
very kindly donated them to Owl Wood.

The patches of violets are spreading nicely, 
the wild garlic is very happily spreading itself around.

Before long though, the cow parsley will hide almost everything from view
 a froth of white, which will reach a height of about five feet
in places.

We could lose the hens for days!

This is Owl Wood this morning.
The undergrowth is already almost at shoulder height for the hens.
They don't mind, it provides a handy wind-break for when they hunker down
for a gossip.

The owl box has new residents.
I saw them spring cleaning the place, this morning.

Where have all the Tawnies gone?

I haven't seen any signs of the hedgehogs yet
but I did see the bats flying around last night.
That is a sight which always makes me happy.

The wild plum trees are bursting into blossom
I hope that means we'll have a good crop of plums from them this year.
They are a seasonal treat,  greatly anticipated and much enjoyed.

Rather like the wild garlic.
I gathered enough for a small baking session.
I made wild garlic scones,
a wild garlic and mushroom quiche
and wild garlic bread.
I won't bore you with them here,
I'll post them on my Parsonage Cottage Kitchen blog.

I like to keep an eye on things.

Just as Owl Wood likes to keep an eye on us.