Showing posts from October, 2007

Move to the country - a word to the country mole

Did anyone read the diary of a country mole in the Sunday Times? It chronicled the move to the country of a city girl and her family, a disastrous move which ended in their return to London. From the very first article her entire unsuitability for the project screamed out from every paragraph - self pitying, self obsessed, with a mind as closed as a clam and the resourcefulness of a used tissue. (Life being what it is, I shall now somehow meet her and she will be utterly delightful and I will be unable to look her in the face.) So I thought I would have a try at some advice for those considering relocating: what is life in the country really like when the weekenders go home and it is raining again? You spend a lot of time on your own so you need to like your own company. Days can pass without a soul coming along the track and you can find yourself hanging around in the post office, as desperate for conversation as the old lady on the bus who lives on her own. You need to use the inte

New laid eggs and quince jelly

A blue and gold autumn day, balanced between the warmth still in the sun and the wind's slight chill. This morning I took my basket out to pick quince. I am stretching up into the branches of the little tree when Ian shouts for me. Amazement and excitement - the hens have laid! I was entirely resigned to having no eggs until the Spring but Ian looked in the nestbox this morning (instincts of a countryman he claims) and there were two perfect, but tiny eggs. Here they are in the dish with our walnut crop. We had bacon and tiny egg for lunch and they were orange yolked and delicious. I suppose the trouble with bantams is that they will produce small eggs, the upside of not tearing your garden to pieces. The bantam hens had been looking much more henlike for the last couple of weeks, their combs properly grown, their tails high and full. I would love their presence without the eggs, but with eggs as well, what's not to love? When our friends came recently S and I decided that t

A gardening blog

This one is a selfish blog: I want to record my bulb planting this year and I have got out of the habit of using a gardening diary, tending to blog instead. So this one is a personal record of the thoughts I have been having today on bulbs so that I don't lose them. For years I didn't really bother with bulbs; too much planning and forward thinking for my younger, childrearing self. But over the last few years I have become passionate about them. I started with tulips for planting in pots but am now equally entranced by snowdrops, daffodils, bluelbells and alliums and this year have bought irises as well. In 2006 we planted 500 snowdrops in the green and another 200 in February this year. Last autumn I planted the native daffodil, Obvallaris, the Tenby daffodil and loads of tulips in pots. They were lovely, the pots glorious for weeks but there were nowhere near enough of the daffodils. I wanted them in the field around the bottom of the big apple tree and beneath the wild


I never understand those who are always the same: either always on the go, rushing and achieving and leaving you breathless with their lists and accomplishments, or always idling about, doing very little, very inclined to let you put their kettle on when they want a cup of tea. I have friends of both persuasions and find them lovely but exhausting in their different ways. The achievers are like living in a wind tunnel. It's all terribly impressive but you can't hear yourself think. The idlers are like living through a veil. In the end it's all too misty and slow and you long to jump up and cry for "For God's sake, just do something!" I understand both because I am a composite (an adler? an iver?). But I swing about and can be found either curled up by the woodburner reading old copies of Good Housekeeping, wandering through the garden vaguely kicking things or suddenly gripped with a frenzy, throwing off achievements like a toddler throwing off clothes.

An impossibly beautiful day

Our house faces south east across the valley and in the morning the sun streams in through the windows. The shadows are long on the far hill and the dew is deep and shining. I have a hundred and one things to do today but I eat my breakfast slowly outside in the sun under the yew tree. Then I take my camera and wander slowly around the garden. I hope I can share this morning and this place with you. This is the house, tucked into the side of the valley, sheltered for four hundred years from the prevailing wind. There are massive yew trees on either side and beeches behind, in a protective curve. This is the view out up towards the head of the valley where the Offa's Dyke path marches along the ridge towards Moel Arthur and Moel Famau. No doubt at all that this is the place of Arthur's burial to local minds. The kitchen garden still holding onto its last abundance looking towards the big pigsty. Cotoneaster, geometrical, perfect. The house as you come up through t