Friday, 16 March 2012

Miscellany

All sorts of things are crowding for attention here on the blog after a few days when my laptop died and went away to be resuscitated.  (Thank you Alison of the Allyway).  It's just like a car breaking down: one moment you are taking it entirely for granted and the next you realise that your whole life is built around having access to it.  It showed the blue screen of death and I began to prepare myself for its funeral but Alison not only retrieved all my data but got the whole thing working again, slicker than ever.

So here is a canter through some of things that have been happening.


I spent a few days down in Devon with my parents.  It was that beautiful week when the sun shone so warm that the smell of spring was everywhere.  My sister and I, with my son and his wife, took the dogs up onto Dartmoor one afternoon.  The grass was not yet greening up on the moor but the stream was brown and clear like whisky.


There was swimming to be done if you were a dog.



The air was still and soft and Dartmoor rolled away into the haze.

At home we were experimenting with sourdough bread.  Ian had been creating a leaven, feeding it daily with flour and water and watching it bubble magically into life.


You can take from it every day to provide the raising agent for a new loaf.  The whole process is slow and gentle and the loaf itself needs to be left to rise for plenty of time, occasionally gently and quickly kneaded.


This is the bread I made from Dan Lepard's The Handmade Loaf.  I was going to take a picture of the loaf all baked and beautiful before I cut it but it looked and smelt so good that I inadvertently ate quite a bit of it first.


And yesterday I did a great sowing of euphorbia seeds.  At the end of last year I was lucky enough to meet Don Witton, who is the brother of one of our walking friends.  Don holds the national collection of euphorbias in his garden and allotments in Yorkshire.  We were on a walk with a group of friends and Don and I chatted and talked gardens and plants.  A few days later a packet appeared through the post containing the seeds of seven different types of euphorbia and a book he had written on euphorbias for the Hardy Plant Society.  Kate at Beangenie was blogging only the other day about the generosity of gardeners and here is another prime example!

So the seeds of Euphorbia griffithii have gone into the freezer for stratification and all of the others have gone into seed trays and into a heated propagator.  I have never grown euphorbia from seed and am still a very novice seed sower in general so I am not holding my breath.  If I only get one or two seedlings that will be exciting enough.  There is so much more to do and so many more seeds to sow!

39 comments:

  1. mmmm that bread looks very tasty. I love dartmoor,it's a good couple of years since we've been there though. Would love to get down there this summer.

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    1. Dartmoor is very special and has to be my second favourite place in the country after the Clwydian hills where I live!

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  2. Oh, I thought you were Cher being 'Miss Cellany' for a minute.

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    1. I cannot count the ways in which I am not like Cher! I could start by my inability to sing maybe.

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  3. What a lovely interesting post. As to euphorbias, many of mine seed themselves naturally; not anything special, but a quick way to fill a wild garden.

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    1. Euphorbia amygloiddees robbiae (sp?) seeds itself about here but that is the only one. These are seeds are some of the bigger shrubby ones so fingers crossed that I get some!

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  4. I can almost smell the bread on the winds blowing this way from Moel y Parc. Looks gorgeous.

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    1. It was the most fabulous smell! Ian is doing some more this morning.

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  5. I like the idea of inadvertently eating.

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    1. Happens to me quite a lot when my back is turned!

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  6. Bread and seeds - something so elemental in today's post. Gardeners are, indeed, generous - at the outset and then with the results of their work.

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    1. Sometimes I am generous with what we grow to eat but other times I would have to admit I just need to pass it on cos I can't keep up with it!

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  7. Bread, seeds, holiday, family, walking -- you certainly know how to get lots into a post. Well done and glad you had such a good time!

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    1. It was a catch up post! Now I feel I have used up all sorts of blogging opportunities at once!

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  8. I've had to stop bread making because of all that inadvertent eating....

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    1. Oh don't let it stop you Rachel! It is all part of the charm.

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  9. I am affected by the same sort of inadvertence, Elizabeth. That made me smile! Years ago when I was thick into child-raising and home-making I used to make sourdough bread and the sight of that loaf makes me a bit nostalgic.
    But my biggest smile came from some other inaddvertence - my tendency to drop or rearrange letters when I read. I thought you had coined a new expression - 'sowing euphoria seeds' - and thought it was lovely and so apt for a gardener!! May I use it? It makes me want to write....
    And in one of those lovely instances of connectivity, as I'm writing this, a little chime announced the arrival of your comment. Thank you!

    Oh, and Dartmoor, too. Having heard so much about the place, I realize that I've almost never seen pictures of it. I want to go there, and I want to take the dog!

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    1. If only my seeds would germinate they would certainly be euphoria seeds!

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  10. Don't know if you had your data backed up Elizabeth. I use http://www.carbonite.co.uk/ and the sense of continual reassurance is palpable.

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    1. I had some stuff backed up on a memory stick but Alison recommended using a hard drive and I will probably do that. Might look at carbonite before I invest!

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  11. It's amazing how a little touch of spring weather can start all us gardeneres reaching for the seed packets. I've never thought of growing euphorbias though.

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    1. I wouldn't have thought of growing euphorbia from seed either and to be honest it still feels a bit theoretical! But having been given the chance I feel honour bound to have a go.

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  12. A busy and full week indeed. I see your blog appearance has changed as well. I did like the old one but it was a little temperamental.

    Glad you had a good time in Dartmoor

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    1. I liked the old one too but I got a bit fed up of people having problems so thought I would go back to the simple version for a while!

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  13. This post does have a certain spring time feeling to it. You've reminded me of Brooklyn days way back in the early l970's when I used to bake bread every weekend. It was fun, and I still remember that scent...it always made me want to make that first slice into the loaf.

    Perhaps I can take this inspiration far enough to buy some yeast and try some 2012 experiments.

    Many thanks, xo

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    1. Hope you do have a go at making bread Frances. I find it an extremely calming and nourishing thing to do!

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  14. This whole post was as delicious as that bread looks - which is saying something!

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    1. I am sure you would love Dartmoor Marcheline, couldn't be much more different from where you live!

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  15. Dartmoor looks beautiful, it's an area that I've never had the opportunity to visit. Glad that your computer is well again and I hope that all your seeds come through.

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    1. I think I might have to wait a while for the euphorbia seeds, if they come through at all. My sweetpeas are up and doing though!

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  16. Do you know that I recognise that plate under the sour dough? We have the same ones here. Or rather had, once; there are just a few left, the others having not been fast enough at avoiding chips and cracks and gravity. You tempt me with the sourdough, but on balance I think I'll stick to the bread machine. Your post reminds me that I have never visited Dartmoor - or Exmoor - despite being able to see Exmoor rising on t'other side of the Channel. I fear Dartmoor would come at me redolent with memories of webbed hands and mine shafts and baying hounds covered in phosphorescent paint. Even your lab would, I fear, take on a frightening complexion.

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    1. You have never been to Dartmoor? Terrible oversight. Go to Belstone which is a lovely place to start and entirely devoid of tourist tat as no one has ever heard of it except me because my family live there!

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  17. thanks to Alison have been able to enjoy your walk across the watery expansiveness of the moors and come back with a hearty appetite for more from Elizabeth's kitchin. Very impressed by the leaven btw.
    p.s. have been taken with euphorbias in the parks, just want one clump of shade lovers. Such a versatile group

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    1. I like euphorbias a lot and have some sun lovers already. The one which grows best in shade for me is amygloiddes robbiae but it might be invasive in more favoured spots than mine!

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  18. I'll have to Google euphorbias , since I haven't any idea what they are ( well , apart from Vegetable rather than Mineral , I mean ) . With such fresh seeds from a good source , your patience should stand a very good chance of success .
    And as for the bread .... well , you were obliged to eat a slice or two so that you could photograph the splendid crumb , too !

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    1. I knew there was a reason for my diving into the bread that was better than total absence of self control!

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  19. I love euphorbias. They seem to proliferate very readily so you should be ok.

    Now Belstone, is that featured in the film the Belstone Fox? Because I read somewhere that the film was filmed very near me, not in Devon at all.

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    1. I don't think Belstone fox is the same Belstone as my family live in. I seem to remember that he took the name but the setting is not Dartmoor as far as I recall. I love euphorbias too.

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  20. Proper sourdough requires more patience than I have. Sounds (and looks) as though it was delicious.

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