Tuesday 26 February 2019

Wonky Vegetable Box

This is a Lidl's wonky vegetable box, bought this morning, for £1.50.   Not a wonky or mouldering vegetable in sight!   Everything is fresh, firm and wholesome.

Broccoli spears, asparagus, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, onions, a swede, clementines, satsumas and lemons.    Excellent value, wonderful quality. 

Today was beautifully mild and sunny, once the early morning frost had cleared away.  Toby found himself being taken for some extra walks, for I find it impossible to stay indoors when it is fine weather.

Just as well I made the most of it, I hear the weather is going to break at the weekend.

Wooster and Dolly were making the most of the sunshine and couldn't be bothered to do more than half open an eye.

The last time I took that  route, a few days ago,  Dolly refused to leave her stable at all, but    Wooster insisted on coming over to have a conversation and a nose rub.     

I don't know much about Dolly, but Wooster is about 30 years old.    He looks his age these days, but he had his glory days and won lots of competitions in his youth.

He is a lucky lad, getting to live his life out in peace and comfort.

Dolly, who is as round as it is possible for one little pony to be, keeps him company.

He is content with his lot.

This is what I am reading today.   Published in 1935, it is a collection of history, tradition, folk lore, flower names and herbal lore, gathered together by Members of Dorset Women's Institutes.   Not a recipe in sight!

So far I have only had a quick skim through but it looks fascinating - no recipes, perhaps, but I have just discovered a couple of pages of old remedies...violets to treat cancer, Madonna lily to treat whitlows, and Groundsel as a cure for boils.

"Here's to you and yours
The good you and yours
Done to we and ours
If it be in our powers
To do the good to you and yours
You and yours done to we and ours
We'll do it."

Saturday 23 February 2019

Magpies, Wombles, and Books, Books, Books

This motley collection of books are a few of the ones I have plucked from my bookshelves this week.    Most have cost just a few pence, from charity shops, book sales, etc. 

The weather lore book on the right hand side is the youngest of them, it was published in 1981 and is packed with 1900 sayings from the English countryside.    Interestingly, they have also been 'tested' and star rated as to their truth!

Following on from Sue's post about Magpies I thought it would be fun to add these sayings:

For anglers in spring it is
always unlucky to see single
magpies; but two may always be 
regarded as a favourable omen.
And the reason for this is, that in cold
and stormy weathr one magpie
alone leaves the nest in search
of food, while the other one
remains sitting with the eggs or
young ones; but when two go out
together, it is only when the 
weather is mild and warm, and
favourable for fishing.

Star rating: *

Magpies flying three or four
together and uttering harsh cries
predict windy weather.

Star rating: *

Given the particularly mild and sunny days we have enjoyed this week, the following saying is a bit worrying - especially as it is given a star rating of ****.

If there's spring in winter, and
winter in spring
The year won't be good for anything.

February is fast running away with us, but tomorrow, 24th February, is St Matthias' Day, apparently he is the patron saint of alcoholics.

Sayings for his day:                               

If it freezes on Saint Matthias' Day,
it will freeze for a month together.   

Star rating: *

Saint Matthias breaks the ice;        *
If he finds none, he will make it.    **

Saint Matthie
Sends sap up into the trees.

The Hand to Mouth book is an old Women's Institute cookery book,  originally published in 1933, my copy dates from 1944. 

The Lotions and Potions book dates from the 1960's, another Women's Institute one.    It is fascinating, full of very old recipes for creams, unguents, medicines and cures, many dating from centuries ago.

Today has been spent bread making, visiting family, and doing a little Wombling.

I decided I could no longer ignore the discarded aluminium cans, coffee cups, bottles, sweetie wrappers, chocolate wrappers, plastic bags, dog dropping bags (full), old lottery tickets, and general detritus, which was strewn along the lane.

I hitched up Toby, grabbed a rubbish bag, my litter picking stick, and set to work.     I cleared both sides of approx 500m of lane and ended up with a large bin bag full of trash.   

The vodka drinker seems to have stopped drinking though, or perhaps they have moved, for there wasn't a single alcohol bottle, whereas previously there would have been at least half a dozen, sometimes more.

A short time later, I went back up the lane to buy some eggs from one of our neighbours.   On the way home I had to pick up another can which someone had discarded since I cleared the verges.

Hey ho!

Thursday 21 February 2019

People Who Enjoy Conflict

Some bloggers seem to thrive on conflict, and if they can't drum up a good argument on their own blog, they take their big wooden spoon and try to stir it up in comments elsewhere.

Are their real lives so dull that this is the only way they can get a little excitement?
Does it supply their hit of the hormones released by conflict and drama? 

Does it make them feel important?

Biting my tongue not to say more.   Grump over.

Normal service will be resumed later.

Monday 18 February 2019


February, possibly the least liked month of the year. 

Despite the gloom, the mud and the insidious chill, I quite like it.

I love being able to see the bare contours of the land, the tracery of the trees, the bare fields.   

Winter walks through fields and along tracks mean that the dog and I will be squelching through mud and puddles.     Even so, there is something wonderfully exhilarating about being out in the cold, fresh air and pale sunshine, as long as you are wearing suitable clothing and footwear, of course!

Shadows and shade. 
Longer views, thanks to the lack of leaves, give surprising new glimpses of some favourite old places.

Learning the true lie of the land, sometimes so  different from how it appears when everywhere is dressed in summer finery.

Beautiful little glimpses.

Weak wintery sunshine adds a little warmth to the winter palette.

Countless snowdrops lift the gloom of the woodland floor.

Snowdrops will soon give way to the golden trumpets of daffodils.  They, in their turn, will make way for the haze of the bluebells and wild garlic.   

Home again, and the sunlight hits upon a cluster of crocuses, encouraging them to 'open wide'.

First job is to get rid of the mud from my boots, then comes the more time-consuming job of cleaning down the dog.

"Paddy-paw, paddy-paw.  Rub a dub a dub dub dub. Good boy!"

Hands washed, then on with the kettle for a good cup of tea. 


Soup is nearly always on the menu during winter.   Always home made, preferably served with a wedge of home made bread or a slice of quiche.

I make a large pot, normally sufficient to last three or four days.    Like most things, the flavours mellow and meld, so that the soup tastes even better, a couple of days later,  than it did on day one.

I made a very simple vegetable soup, nothing special, so I won't bother to give you the recipe.

This is a walnut and broccoli quiche - tasted much nicer than it looks, I promise.

The pastry recipe was a new one to me, using warm water and Marmite to mix...      I wasn't sure that it would work, but it turned out short and crisp, perfect and tasty. 

I will definitely be making it again.


175g (6oz) wholewheat plain flour
75g (3oz) Butter or Margarine
1 tsp Marmite yeast extract
Warm water to mix

Rub the fat into the flour, stir in the Marmite, then mix the pastry to a manageable dough using warm water.   Lightly knead on a floured surface, the roll out and use to line your tin.     Chill.         Bake blind for ten or fifteen minutes before adding the filling of your choice.

Thursday 14 February 2019

Love from Mum xxx

(A family post today.)

Five years already!

Tuesday 12 February 2019

Marbling the Village Hall

Yesterday afternoon the tiny village hall was almost filled to bursting (slight exaggeration) as a dozen ladies of the parish attended our monthly TED's meeting.

They didn't come along for the local history, and I am fairly sure the refreshments were not what got them across the threshold.  My bet is that the chairman of our local Parish Council 'whipped' them in, for she was hosting the meeting and had arranged for someone to come and demonstrate the ancient art of marbling.

Whatever the answer, it was good to see the hall buzzing with conversation and activity.

The newcomers were introduced and some people found that they had been living almost next door to one another for over three years and yet had never met...and this is in a very small village - the total number of parish residents is 185, and a good number of them don't live in the village.

Then the demonstration got under way.    Our instructor explained the process, then showed us how to marble on fabric, paper, stones, wood, tiles - almost anything which is porous and can be submerged.    It was fascinating and magical.

Lots of different techniques, no two are ever the same.

This is a tiny mounted canvas - a few twirls with a cocktail stick, to swirl and curl the paint, a quick dip, and this pattern is what appeared.

A very jolly couple of hours passed, eventually we left clutching our own pieces of marbled fabric.

The lovely Miss Read was there, of course.  She enjoys anything to do with crafting and was one of the first ones to get stuck in and have a play.

She was also absolutely thrilled to bits when she spotted the enormous woollen tablecloth( click for story) which used to belong to the village WI.     My husband and I had been into the hall to hang it from a metal curtain pole, for all the village to see - on those rare occasions when they attend a function in the hall.

Unfortunately I forgot to take a photograph, I was slightly distracted by all the possibilities offered by the art of marbling - I am thinking about fabrics for fairies, end papers for books and journals, wrapping paper, greetings cards, etc.

Of course I had to come back down to earth - help to clear away the cups and saucers, then dash home to get tea ready for the grandchildren.

Still, it hasn't stopped my brain from ticking over, I like the potential of that craft.

Next month we are having a visit from an elderly woman who used to live in the next hamlet along, I believe she is a few years older than Miss Read, so we are looking forward to hearing her reminiscences of village life.     

It would be marvellous if we could have a similar turnout.

Saturday 9 February 2019

A Spoonful of Sugar

No sooner do I complete the enormous task of clearing the woodland floor than Storm Erik comes along to rock and roll among the trees, tearing down branches.   Ah, well.   That is life. 

Owl Wood is a place of magical delight to humans and animals alike, but it does come with responsibilities and expenses.     In this modern day and age, even for such a small scrap of woodland, we have to have special woodland insurance and that doesn't come cheap.    Add to that the many hours we spend maintaining the place and, at this time of year, I do sometimes wonder why?

Then I come across photographs like this...

A safe space for our grandchildren and their friends to play in and explore, for treasure hunts, map reading practice, or for rambles with the dog.

Fun isn't limited to the summer.
Two cousins take a spin around the woodland.

A lazy swing and a bit of contemplation


A game of hide and seek with someone who hasn't quite grasped the concept...oh, the hours we spent doing that!

Early evening adventures, a little bit of darkness makes it all seem so much more exciting - for that is when you have to watch out for bears and wolves.

Owl Wood has been home to several little flocks of retired battery hens - their joy at the freedom to roam was very special.       They soon regained their feathers and their health, wonderful characters, each and every one of them.

The most recent flock were fancy breeds.   Beautiful girls, but definitely not as robust as those battery girls.     So many hens over the years, yet each one developed into a character.

There are many bird boxes, as well as nests, perched up in the trees.   

The most special box is the one where these three little creatures were hatched, three Tawny Owl chicks, all three successfully fledged, hence 'Owl Wood' - so much nicer than the official name.

Adding all these delights up, and all the ones I haven't mentioned - wild garlic, for instance - offsetting them against the cost of insurance (£150 pa) plus all the hard work - is it worth it?

You bet!

Thank you for all your lovely comments, they helped me through my silence. 

Whatever it was seems to have been blown away by the wind, for I came back from walking Toby feeling bright and energetic, windswept and cleansed of whatever ailed me.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday 6 February 2019

Has The Cat Got My Tongue?

I find myself struggling to bash out a blog post.      

Words have deserted me.      

So many posts started, then abandoned.        

This blog has come to a standstill.

My thanks to everyone who commented on my previous post
my apologies for not getting around to answering you.

I will be back when I find my words.