Wednesday 22 April 2020

Postcard from La-La Land

I got up very early, gulped down a quick cup of coffee, hitched up the dog, then headed off to explore.

There are several well known bluebell woods around here, but this is one I hadn't visited before.

It is little more than a mile (as the crow flies) from home, yet it was new to me.    I have long admired the woodland, figured that it must be another remnant of the ancient woodland which covered this area after the last Ice Age.

Heading to the woodland.

I regularly walk along the farm tracks and along the bridleway, but this time I was determined to turn off the public right of way and explore the private woodland, see whether the bluebells were as beautiful as I had been told.

The scent of the bluebells and that exquisite colour, stretching as far as the eye could see, took my breath away. 

Further into the woods I came across this decrepit old sign.    I wonder whether this used to be open to the public, I quite like the idea of people coming along for the spectacle, then purchasing a jug of tea, settling down on a picnic rug and eating their homemade sandwiches.

I must ask Miss Read, she will know.

Eventually I decided not to push my luck and risk discovery.   I called Toby to heel and we set off for home.

Little realising that Nature had another treat in store for me.

The big field we skirted had a group of five hares romping around without a care in the world.

With best wishes to you all,

Thursday 16 April 2020

Swallows, Mustard and Bats

The Barn Swallows are home, swooping and swirling through the air, scooping up little insects as they go.    Judging by the activity near the barn I suspect that the beautiful nest they used last year, tucked high up in the roof timbers of the barn, has been deemed suitable for 2020 use.

All very exciting, especially during these days when so much time is spent in and around home!

Yesterday evening I was thrilled to spot bats swooping around - munching on flying food.   Despite their bad publicity, I love those little creatures.   Sitting out on the patio and watching them fly around is one of the delights of the season.

I made a loaf of herby bread - I simply made a batch of basic white dough, let it rise, knocked it back and then spread it with freshly made mustard, grated Parmesan cheese, and chopped wild garlic.    Roll it up, pop it into a loaf tin, bake.

Not much to look at, maybe, but it was delicious served with homemade soup on a day when the cold wind was blowing in off the North Sea coastline.

It looks as though it could be a good year for sloes, look at that blossom. 

Potatoes planted!

Time for a nap!

Anyone would think they had been mowing lawns, planting veggies, etc. 

The pace of my days seems to be slowing.   There is plenty to do, but plenty of time to do it in, and yet the days seem to whizz by. 

I almost feel as though I am sleepwalking through Spring, there is an air of unreality about things.

The lane is generally pretty quiet these days, just the usual tractors and the occasional delivery van, lots of cyclists - quite a number are lycra clad, but there are others who have obviously dug out a ong neglected bike from the back of the shed and have decided to use it for their hour of outdoor activity.  Few walkers cut through the field, but I have noticed that more walkers are coming along the lane.

I have also noticed that there is an increase in the amount of rubbish which is piling up along the verges - chocolate wrappers, headache tablet boxes, crisp bags, cider cans, lager cans, rum bottle, gin bottle, three dry slices of thick white bread (not homemade!!).   

Not so terribly different from the normal range of rubbish, except that there are no high energy cans, no coffee cups, takeaway containers or sandwich wrappers.

Obviously the birds took care of the bread, but the rest of it will stay there until I feel that I can safely womble and clean the rubbish away.   It doesn't look as though that is going to be any time soon.

Right, I am going out to watch the bats for a while.

Have a lovely evening.
Stay safe.
Wash your hands - which reminds me, is anyone else having trouble with the skin on their hands?  I swear that all this washing is turning the backs of my hands into crocodile/alligator skin, despite all the E45 I keep applying.

Tuesday 7 April 2020

My Witches Cauldron

It is that time of year again.  Dandelions are sprouting everywhere in my garden.     I know I could eat the leaves in salads, but I like to dig them up, roots, leaves, tendrils and flowers and boil them, show them no mercy!

No, I am not being vindictive, I use the concentrated brew to clean windows, mirrors, metal work, etc.     

Yes, it really does work.

Mirrors and windows sparkle, no smears.

No chemicals!


Dig up three or four dandelions and give them a quick rinse.  Put the whole lot,  roots, leaves, tendrils and flowers  into a pot with about three pints of water.   Bring to the boil and boil until reduced by about half.

Allow to cool, strain, decant.  Label!!  Keep out of reach of children and pets - just in case.

Use within a week.

All I do is to apply with a clean cloth, rubbing as I go, then follow up with a another dry, clean cloth, to dry and polish off.

The first time I made the brew I was pretty sceptical about whether it would really be of much use, but I was delighted with it.

Go on, pull out your witches cauldron, give it a go!

Sunday 5 April 2020

The Parish Magazine and Social Distancing

The local parish magazine, published once a month,  is always worth a read.   I have subscribed to it since we moved here, so quite a few years now.   

Initially it was delivered by an interesting little old lady, who probably weighed all of five and a half stone.   She would walk all the way out of the village, with her middle aged daughter,  to put my copy in the letter box, if I was around at the time we would have a bit of a chat.     The years passed,  she was no longer able to do the deliveries so a friend of mine took over for several years.   Then she moved away.

These days they are delivered by my friend,  a farmer's wife, who also happens to be a churchwarden.  I often give her a hand, it gives us a nice opportunity to have a chat.

It costs a little under £5 for the year and is popular with both those who attend church, and others, like me, who just enjoy the read and all the snippets of local information.

This new situation has caused the editor/publisher to have a bit of a rethink.    The magazine has gone online!    It feels as though it has been dragged from the ink and quill age into the 21st century.

I like it in the new format.    I suppose one downside is that there will be some people, the very elderly and those, like Miss Read, who have poor eyesight and have zero knowledge of the internet, who will not be able to access it.

I was assigned a little job today - could I drop a note off to some local subscribers, telling them where they would be able to access the magazine.    I decided that I would have to make it part of my daily walk with Toby, we would have to cut through the village and drop them off as we went.

I left home at 6.30 am, just to make sure that we could do it in peace.

Once the notes had been stealthily put through the letterboxes, my plastic gloves removed and safely disposed, Toby and I headed out across the fields and along farm tracks, skirting woodland and breathing in the early morning air.

Despite all the horrors of the current situation, the world is still a beautiful place.   There was a chilly wind blowing but the sun was shining, birds sang and I could hear the woodpeckers determinedly drilling.     Plants and crops are growing, the spring flowers continue to bloom. 

As I ambled along a farm track I spotted a deer meandering along about fifty yards ahead of me.  Toby was a few yards behind me giving his nose a good workout.    I walked, the deer walked and the dog happily sniffed his clumps of grass.   We continued in this way for about three hundred yards before the deer spotted me and bounced away into the undergrowth.   Magical.

I met only one human being.   A woman also out for some early morning exercise, on her bike.   Of course we met at the narrowest part of the very narrow lane!     I squeezed over to the side of the narrow verge and she steered her bike as far as she could away from me. 

We still managed to smile at one another, exchange greetings and comment on the beautiful weather.

It felt decidedly weird.

Home again.   Time for a cup of tea, a bowl of porridge, then some work in the vegetable garden.

I hope you have all had a good weekend.