Oops… forgot to write a title!

At the end of last month, I managed to squeeze in writing a post but on the whole I have been overwhelmed by the move to teaching online and am only now coming down to earth.

One self-care activity I have managed in recent days is to use the rosehips I had picked and frozen last September. Rosehip syrup is said to be good for colds, though I don’t often get one, so whether it has a preventative or a restorative effect is a moot point.

I think I have mastered sock knitting as well. After several years of being a crochet-only kind of gal, I realised that if I wanted socks, I was going to have to get to grips with a circular needle, so here we are with my latest.

Perhaps this weekend I will get down to mending the back garden gate but it doesn’t take long to get out of the habit of being remotely active out of an armchair. Are you finding the same or are you raring at the bit to get out there?

Posted in Crafts, In the kitchen | Tagged , | 12 Comments

A triumph of life

Well, we come to the end of an extra-ordinary month. And whilst we’ve been trapped in our homes, nature has been busily getting on with what it normally does all around.

This has provided some wry amusement. For example, one pigeon showed me the itinerary of its menu round the garden. Of course, I didn’t have my phone to hand as it wandered first to the hairy bittercress and then had a nibble on a dandelion leaf before hopping over the path for the real smorgasbord of greener.

The yarrow wasn’t apparently much to its taste but it took a few mouthfuls of fennel and red-veined sorrel. And then topped up in more fennel as well as more dandelion. Fortunately, the nearby globe artichoke must be too well-established or perhaps the wrong colour to be an attraction.

Resting after a lovely feast on the ground.

Wildlife has been one entertainment. Another has been the changing landscape in the front garden. At last the crocuses have shown themselves but what about this?

The tulip on the left has found a gap in the plastic, put down in a dismal attempt to kill off the lawn which refuses to die. I’m not pleased about the grass but having forgotten where exactly the tulips had been planted it is a pleasure to find this unexpected gift from nature.

Posted in Gardening, Wildlife | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Gemming up on Geography

The car battery was getting a bit low. The car has always shown a weakness with regard to batteries, so I suspect the ultimate fault lies elsewhere but that doesn’t alter the fact that the vehicle needs a long run on a regular basis.

With the current social restrictions, there is little need to go long distances. Conversely, there appear to be plenty of opportunities for short ones. I really wish I had got a bike by now but maybe this lockdown will enable me to save more effectively for one.

Notwithstanding, in the meantime, the car battery is dodgy. So, feeling the need to get away from my home cum classroom/meeting room, I took myself off into North Yorkshire.

In truth, this isn’t far from us, so I reckoned if I went round the houses a bit I would just about be able to do the requisite 45 minutes of motoring to charge the battery fully.

Indeed, I did go round the houses, having a look at Micklefield and then Sherburn-in-Elmet and then South Mildford, small towns on the North/West Yorkshire border. And then I looked at the time and I realised I needed to be getting home in time for the hour I’d given my daughter.

Seeing a sign for the A1, I thought this would be my best bet. But the sign didn’t tell me how far the nearest junction was. And this happened to be further south than anticipated.

Just when I thought I should be arriving home, I realised I was nearly halfway to my parents’ in Grantham. Fortunately, there was a convenient slip road just up ahead, so I was only about 30 minutes from home. It was also a gloriously sunny day, and thanks to the wonders of smartphones I was able to inform my daughter of the slight discrepancy between what I was doing and what I said I would be doing.

Lotherton Hall, near Wetherby, has left its gates open and visitors can enter the grounds for free at the current time. So, I took a quick drive into the estate to establish whether it would be viable for us to have a trip out there soon.

Disclaimer: This post may seem a far cry from the aims of the blog but rest assured there will be a post or two in the near future which return to the theme of gardening, wildlife and such.

Posted in Days out | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Motivation to move

Over the winter I somewhat lost my gardening mojo, doing only the bare minimum. So some jobs will now have to wait until the autumn.

However, with the current lockdown, I have resurrected the custom of talking a stroll round the garden with my coffee first thing in the morning. This is still more of a hop than a stroll but one day the paths will be sorted.

Anyway, over the last few days I have noticed a new flower. As I didn’t knowingly obtain it, I have no idea what it is. So, does anyone else?

Two for the price of one: this time the plant is one that is growing by the pond. It’s been around a while and I think it graces the edge of the pond rather well. But I have no idea what it is called.

Posted in Gardening, Pond and bog garden | 17 Comments

An unexpected jelly

Yesterday evening I got the inspiration to use up some rhubarb which had been lurking in the fridge from reading a blogpost by Reclaiming Paradise with a rhubarb cake recipe.

Now, this recipe called for the rhubarb to be stewed before being added to the batter. So, as is my wont, I added too much water to the pan, which resulted in a rhubarb flavoured liquid in addition to the stewed fruit.

Rather than pour it down the sink I had an idea. Maybe there was some gelatine in the cupboard and I would be able to use this up as well as having an interesting dessert? Indeed, there were two sheets of gelatine in the packet, so I dissolved them in the still warm liquid along with some sugar and put the bowl in the fridge to see if its contents would set.

I’ve yet to actually tuck in but my concoction definitely has the jelly wobble. And, while I’ve always been mindful of using food wisely rather than chucking it into landfill, now it might become increasingly difficult to obtain enough, getting a second dish out of an ingredient is particularly pleasing.

Posted in Good for the environment, In the kitchen | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Mother’s Day in Spring

How are you feeling? Hopefully well and able to appreciate the start of spring.

It was a beautiful day for Mothering Sunday and, even though it was sad that my parents couldn’t join us for the meal I had booked at the Crooked Billet in Saxton, at least we didn’t need to let the pub down.

The establishment had improvised with a takeaway service and there was an added little surprise. Whilst waiting for our meal to finish being prepared and brought out to our car, I had noticed a gentleman at the order point

preparing bunches of daffodils. I had thought they might have been on order but when the waitress brought our crate of food, this is what came with it:

My eyes welled up at this point. Perhaps they always do this for customers on Mother’s Day but it was particularly poignant on this occasion.

As it turns out, I got an additional surprise as I hadn’t ordered a cup of coffee. Then when I had a sip I got a mouthful of gravy. Still, this will be used on another meal at home, as the meal we ate today came with a generous amount on the plate. And they had done their best to reduce waste, as most of the packaging was either comparable or recyclable, or looks like it had been repurposed. So, good on them several times over.

Wanting to make a day of it, I took my daughter on the Towton Battlefield Walk (not the official one with a guide, as these have been stopped for the time being), which started just along the road. Normally, I’m not especially enamoured with too many daffodils but today their presence along the side of the fields was quite grounding.

An unexpected end to the trip out was bumping into a colleague who is currently on maternity leave. It wasn’t the occasion for cuddles with the baby but a nice surprise to see her with her family.

It was also nice to come home to the bunch of tulips my mum had sent me. They had seemed a bit bedraggled when they arrived on Friday but the company had sent them in plastic-free packaging, so it would have been a miracle if they had looked as if they had just been cut.

Anyway, to all mothers out there I hope you’ve had a good day.

Posted in Days out | Tagged , , , | 19 Comments

A country lane marred

At lunchtime, I decided to stretch my legs by posting my Mother’s Day card at the other end of the village. I hadn’t been on this particular walk for many months and as I entered the bridle path I was overjoyed to see the hawthorn blossom coming out.

This positive emotion was short-lived, however, for when I reached the edge of the rhubarb field, further along the path, I could see that the trees had all been mutilated. The farmer was putting tree guards round saplings which had been newly planted on the edge of the field next to the path and the father of one of my neighbours was in the throes of berating him for the mess caused.

To have lost the tree canopy on one side of the path is quite a blow. It certainly alters the feel of the walk and I was sad for the trees but rather than just walk on, I decided to chat to the farmer to find out what was going on.

It transpires that not only is there no right of way over the field on the other side of the trees but people had been riding quad bikes on it, including through the rhubarb. I dare say the farmer might have tolerated the occasional walker but I can see how upsetting it must be when someone drives uninvited through your crop.

So, ugly as the edge of the field now is, the farmer hopes that the council cutting down the trees and creating a thick and prickly fence with them will keep the trepassers out. And this fence should provide a habitat for wildlife as well bringing more light to the undergrowth.

These are the thoughts that consoled me but it would have been nice if the trees themselves hadn’t been hacked down.

Posted in trees, Wildlife | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

A salutary look round the garden

Yesterday, I left my office for what might be several months. At least I still have a job and my employer has loaned me a laptop so I can keep teaching at home. However, I am trying to keep the concerns of the world at bay as much as possible, especially as today I am on annual leave and it’s my birthday.

I recently came across a book called An indifference of birds by Richard Smyth. The essence of its message, I believe, is that we need birds a lot more than they need us. And watching them in my garden certainly suggests this to be the case. Without their ever knowing it, they will be keeping me going over the next few weeks and months.

Anyway, should the opportunity arise, I may just buy this book but in the meantime the garden continues to delight in other ways too.

If you get a sense of déjà vu looking at these first two photos, it could well be that you have really seen them before. I seem to remember that I posted similar last year. The difference is in the timing, as the rhubarb was not sprouting at the same time as the wood anemones and glory of the snow.

Can you spot the patch of nettles. I’ll be picking these later today for my first batch of nettle and potato soup.

Of a novel nature are the following sights. First up are the almost flowering tulips. In front of them is a pot of dwarf snowdrops. I was going to plant them round a tree I need to move in the front garden but this job will have to wait till the autumn now.

I’m pleased that the Snake’s head fritillary has made a reappearance this year. The stem seems shorter than last year, which could of course be my imagination, but it looks like it is spreading, so I could end up with a nice clump of them in the bog garden.

As you can see, the red-veined sorrel and lavender are perking up after their winter rest, so as well as flowers we will have otter leaves to spruce up our dinner plates. So, it’s not all doom and gloom!

Posted in edible weeds, forest garden, Gardening, Pond and bog garden | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

Getting out before we have to stay in

On a weekend when the CEO of Sainsbury sends out an email begging customers not to panic buy, yet the public hysteria appears to continue mounting, I thought it best to go out and support a few local businesses.

A shame some of the panic buyers couldn’t have found their way to Elsecar Heritage Centre near Rotherham. Admittedly, it’s a place I’d passed many a time when driving up and down the M1 and only ventured into now, after picking up this week’s raw milk from further up the road. But my daughter was glowing in her assessment, so we’ll obviously have to go back.

In the meantime, here is a snapshot of what it’s like. With so few punters, there was no difficulty getting a clear view.

I imagine the bespoke furniture from the shop on the right will be pricey but definitely somewhere to consider for a tricky spot under the stairs.
A video illustrated by Elsecar school children, depicting some of the village’s history.

Usually, my daughter is wooed by food but on this occasion, I actually think it was the antique store rather than the Bakewell tart. Maybe the charm of watching the Antiques Roadshow with granny and granddad has rubbed off or perhaps it was the cabinet of rings at this particular venue. I didn’t actually buy any of those but, always being in need of teaspoons, we got a couple of these. And whilst rummaging amongst the cutlery, I came across this spork.

Anyone any ideas about the history of the spork?

Posted in Days out, Good for the environment, Health | Tagged , | 10 Comments

Taking matters into my own hands

At the beginning of the year, the neighbour who shares my back garden gate

raised the subject of getting it replaced. As you can see in the above photo, it is a little worse for wear.

What you can’t see is that the top bar with the lock on it comes away and has a tendency to knock us on the head when we open the gate. So, it is only a matter of time before it does us an injury and/or will provide us with not even a smidge of security.

My neighbour had raised the issue of making a new gate, which she thought might be quite simple. However, after she had put in the new fence between us (it is strictly speaking my fence but I didn’t have the funds to help with costs), I felt it was appropriate for me to do the honours on this occasion.

A friend had suggested a company which had put her fence in. So, I took a look at what it had to offer and was quite taken with one of their fence panels, which could be made into gate. So far so good.

I would really love to have had this gate and for them to do the installation, too. The issue was that they messed me around and after a phone conversation with the liaison person this afternoon, I decided to roll back my plan.

The upshot is that I now have a plank of wood

from another company who were friendly and helpful. They may be a national firm and the wood may not be from quite the same ethical source but I am tired of ethical companies with poor customer service.

Anyway, the hope is that I can mend the gate, thus providing a breathing space in order to decide what to do for the long term. Ticking all the boxes might be a bit of a challenge but we shall see!

Posted in Crafts, Gardening, Make do and mend | Tagged , , | 8 Comments