Showing posts from August, 2009

A couple of days off

This week we had a couple of stolen days, no jobs, no working away at the relentless list, just a couple of days for going out and behaving as if we were on holiday. Last year we managed a whole week, with two nights away and a detailed programme. This year somehow we weren't quite so organised and ended up with Tuesday to Thursday, with a visit to some friends on Wednesday at The Blackden Trust in the middle. Blackden is a magic place which I have blogged about before. If you get the chance, go and see. On Tuesday we started with a walk, a local one, the kind of thing we always think we will do but somehow never happens because there is weeding to be done and grass to cut, logs to chop and jobs to do. It took us about four hours, down the hill and back up to Caerwys, over to Babell and then across to Ysceifiog and down and up to home again. There were trees full of damsons, leaving me torn between my urge to forage and get out there for more jam making sessions and the knowledge

The pleasure of a glut

Every grower of vegetables will know about gluts. One moment you are anxiously waiting for your new crop, watching every day to see if you can pick something, cherishing your tiny carrots, your courgette flowers, your nascent beans, and bringing them to the table with butter and due ceremony. The next you are staring at vast piles of cucumber, yet more courgettes, tomatoes by the bucketload, beans which turn from tasty and tender tiddlers to huge coarse monsters overnight. I can see it can be overwhelming to have baskets of produce coming into the kitchen which you can scarcely use before the replacement basket is sitting accusingly on the worktop, but I love a good glut. Principally this is because I love chutneys and preserves and the whole process of producing shelves of shining jars which will keep you company through the winter. Just now I am planning a week of preserving (not this week, we are having our strictly no jobs, go out, have fun, pretend you are on holiday week but

some things that make me smile

Things that make me smile: Chickens, the one left behind suddenly realising and running after the others like a cartoon chicken, suddenly panic stricken, legs akimbo, all flap and silliness. Cockerels shouting at each other, calling and fussing, gathering their girls to them for a particularly tasty morsel. Hens in a dust bath, settling, fluffing their wings, scratching and dousing themselves in dust as if it were water. My grandson, serious, silly, three years old, all blond hair and blue eyes. We are driving. A voice comes from the back. "Grandma." "Yes, love." "I'm beautiful." "Are you, love? That's nice." What is going on here, a very young narcissist? "Yes, and my mummy is very beautiful." "Well you're a very lucky boy." My father in law, telling me yet again, both amused and indignant, at his horror on discovering that the chocolate chip ice cream he had bought was green. "Green! I thought it w

Bodnant Gardens and The National Eisteddfod

On Wednesday I went to Bodnant Garden for a guided walk with the Head Gardener. Fifteen or so of us wandered round while he showed us what they were doing, talked about particular problems, such as sudden oak death, and their potential solutions and showed us both the public and some of the private areas of the garden. It is one of my absolute favourite places. The house is still lived in by the family who developed the garden and gave it to the National Trust. They are still deeply involved in its development and care. The house sits above a series of wide terraces. Huge trees frame views across to the mountains. The terraces are formal: a rose garden, full of sweet smelling David Austin roses first. Hmm, where is the blackspot which has taken over all of mine except the tough Rugosas? I have a love hate relationship with roses. In winter and spring when they are all sticks and thorns I think they are ugly and boring. Then they overwhelm me with blossom and scent and I fa

Seven words

Little Brown Dog (writer of one of the best blogs in the world) has tagged me to identify seven words which describe me. Mmm. Tricky. I thought of ringing my daughter and asking her advice as described by Fennie (another writer of great blogs) but that seemed a bit too copy cat. So here goes: Sociable I like company. I like talk and laughter and people round the table with a glass of wine. I can talk to anyone about pretty much anything and love meeting new people and going to new places. I love jokes and funny stories and have had to train myself not to be the last to leave. I always assume that everyone I meet is a potential friend. However in order to be sociable I have to have large tracts of time when I am Solitary I like being by myself and sometimes if I have had uninterrupted company for too long I find myself needing to run away and hide in a cupboard. I am quite happy to have days in a row where I don't see anyone and talk to no-one but the cats and the chicke