Friday, 21 November 2008

My neighbour decided to get rid of this tree so down it came today, in portions. That handsome tree surgeon (yes he was very handsome!) is alot higher up than it looks. Now if only the great big fir tree that has over shadowed my vegetable patch could also be brought down. It blocks the sunlight and a super view. The tree is staying though so the veggie patch is being moved, that means the digging up of our lawn and alot of work.
Rather than work or Christmas preparation, some procrastination and play went on in the kitchen. The photos aren't great because of the sunshine streaming though the window - but these were terrific fun to make

I went to a Pampered Chef party recently and treated myself to this little decorating set. They are really easy to use and I am very pleased with them.
Pampered Chef Decorating Set

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Marion

A few days of precious holiday. I have decided that this break will be for me, how selfish is that? I have just felt lately that I need some time to myself, time to do nothing, perhaps finish a few ufo's, read, think, but mainly just see where it takes me.

This morning I have been puttering around, talking to the chickens, tidying the kitchen a little and drinking tea. Tea with chocolate traybake and a browse through one of my favourite books.







A few years ago I got a book out of the library. The only thing I could remember about the title was that it had the blurb 'Marion - the story of a medieval housewife' on the front cover. The story of Marion captivated me and stayed in my mind, so years later I decided to buy it. It took me 2 or 3 years to eventually find it, this time as 'Medieval Woman', by Ann Baer.


Poor Marion! To suffer the hardships and deprivations of a medieval life. Usually this time is written about from the romantic point of view of kings and knights and ladies. Marion knew nothing of those things, only the daily struggle for life on a subsistance level. The book follows a year in the life of the village, the daily routines interspersed with festivals that marked the seasons. The relationship which the serfs had with the hall. In Marions village the master was fairly benevolent, how people fared in under harsher stewardship I would hate to imagine.


Here is an excerpt from April


Peter had at last completed the plough he had been making to Rollo's orders, and today, as a sort of unofficial holiday, he was at home attending to the garden. Peterkin was with him, to Marion's pleasure, for she knew it sealed a relationship between father and son which she valued as part of Peterkin's training to be an adult. For the past weeks Peterkin had been out before dawn in all weathers, up in the new-sown fields, throwing stones and shouting at the rooks, and had returned home an exhausted wisp of a child, red-faced, red-fingered, re-eared and with a croaking voice. (Peterkin was around 8 years of age).


Today was peaceful and Marion felt content. With the top and bottom halves of the door open, the cottage was light inside. Marion had busied herself with sorting and tidying, stacking up her spools of spun wool, getting in logs, sweeping the ground round the fire clear of bits of straw, grinding some dried beans in the stone quern, always with half an eye on Alice who sat quietly on the floor sweeping up the dust into little ridges with her fat palms. The sun shone, but the wind, flickering over the new shiny grass had a chilly edge. Marion went out, pulling up her clothes, and squatted at the edge of the dunghill. She concentrated on excreting for a while, then her attention went to a bluebottle, newly awakened by the warm sun, which had landed on a dead leaf near her foot. She looked at its brilliant iridescent blue body, watched it stroking its front legs together. Then it flew to somehing vividly green nearby. It was the remains of a mallard drake's head, probably last year's, that had been thrown to Tibtab and which the cat had eventually abondoned. Old though it was, the brilliant green feathers still blazed with that strange unearthly colour in the sunlight. Marion watched the bright blue jewel walking on the bright green feathers, so strange, so unlike any colour in nature. If questioned, Marion would have said that both drakes' heads and bluebottles were part of nature, yet the very strangeness of these colours made her wonder if they were not supernatural, some lost angel's jewels or devil's snares. Just for the moment she wondered at the sudden flood of delight that these rare and glistening colours illuminated in her mind. It was not a thought that she would ever have tried to express. Then, realizing she had finished, she pulled some new-sprouted dock leaves growing by and wiped her bottom, for she had been brought up to be cleanly.

The goat had had her kid recently, a nice little nanny, at present sucking at her mother's teats. Marion filled up the goat shed water butt and pulled some more hay down to the goat's mouth level. She stroked the old nanny but did not touch her baby. Marion had already planned that she would allow the kid all her mohter's milk for a few weeks, then when grass was more plentiful, wean her, so that come summer the kid would be a perfect gift to the hall. A healthy nanny kid would be a valuable present and would free Marion from other obligations to the hall for some time. As the kid was weaned so Marion would steadily milk the goat and there should be plenty of milk and cheese for many months. The grass before the cottage already looked plentiful - perhaps she would get the goat out of doors next day if Peter would help tether her. It was all very satisfactory.

In these days of credit crunch and legitimate worry about the economy and the effect it is or could be having on us, reading this book again has reinforced in me how very fortunate me and my family are. To have good food, a change of clothes, warmth and the love of family, how wealthy I am!

Monday, 13 October 2008

Apples on an Autumn Day

So, this is how to spend a very enjoyable, very tiring, Sunday afternoon.


Take some good friends, with a few sacks of apples....



and one Scratter, ready to go.....



Place the apples in a barrel of water, a mix of varieties is always best....



Constantly feed said apples through the Scratter....



Buckets (and buckets and buckets!) of apple pulp result......



This then gets put through the Press, a little muscle power here helps.....


Phew! Now what is needed is more friends with more apples and another press



Oh and more friends with more apples!!!!!



The resulting apple juice (lots of it!) now ready for cider making, wine making (my choice) and for freezing to be savoured through the winter months.


Of course lovely food, good company, a lovely autumn day and lots of glasses of refreshing apple juice make for a perfect combination.


Thursday, 9 October 2008

Broome Park Farm

This is the home of my friend Cath. One day I will post about her - you have been warned Cath! She is one of those people who are so good at everything that you could really not like her!! Except that is not possible because she is truly lovely with it.

An awful lot of love, care and jolly hard work has gone into this home, it really was almost derelict when they bought it. This is the Georgian front half of the house, but in parts it dates to the 14th Century I believe, and it has been restored very sympathetically.

As well as being a farmers wife, Cath is a teacher so works outside of the home. Even so she has embarked on a B&B business, if anyone is thinking of visiting Shropshire here is a relaxing place to stay http://www.broomeparkfarm.co.uk/. Take a look!

And what about this for a view from the house

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Autumn is progressing apace, with rain and winds on a regular basis. During a quiet spell we went to collect crab apples from this old tree, it was smothered in apples this year. I made Crab Apple Jelly and Crab Apple & Mint Jelly. I really did not like the latter, the jelly was very perfumed, the mint was too strong I think.

One of the last blooms in the garden, I must look into getting more colour into the garden around the year, it's lovely in the summer but goes over very quickly. I am also in the process (very slowly mind) of digging up the entire lawn, next year will be serious vegetable gardening around here!


It is also that time of year when wrapping the shoeboxes is in full swing. http://www.operationchristmaschild.org.uk/
I try to do a couple in the evening, a very energetic lady collects them and there is a community push to fill as many as possible. I wonder if there will be as many this year whilst people are worrying about their own finances.

Last week I popped into Worcester to get some birthday presents - October is heavy with birthdays in this family! Well I managed to miss my bus, and with an hour to spare I made a bee line for a little quilting shop I know - The Cotton Reel. So anyway, can't get out of there without buying something - no not possible, so here are the stockings I decided to make for the nieces and nephew. I cut them all out last night ready to sew. I shall embroider their names on the top and embellish with ribbons and buttons. Can you see the gorgeous ribbon at the bottom - Love Never Melts. AAaahh! Christmas plans ahead, mincemeat, Christmas cake and more sewing = I really love this time of year.




I have been enjoying this blog very much lately - http://blueberrycottage.blogspot.com/ I'm going to find a Pumpkin to try the Pumpkin Cookies, they sound delicious.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Bits & Pieces

There has been much talk in blogland about homemade cleaning products. Some talk of being 'greener' and with some it is a cost issue. At the same time though I have read a few bloggers comment that they could not use homemade washing products because they cannot believe it cleans as well as bought box powders, or that they like a fragrance. Well this is what I have used for ages, it's cheaper, convenient - and it works!

The M27 rootstock apple I planted earlier this year has given me 7 apples this year which I am very pleased with, hopefully it will go bananas next year (not literally!) It is 'James Grieves' and a very nice apple to pick of the tree as I walk past.


Last night tea was delayed as I caught a glimpse of a balloon coming very close to the house. We get them all summer but this one was close. The photos are taken after they have skimmed over our house - over the hills and far away.




Saturday, 13 September 2008

The Birds and The Bees (Butterflies too!)

Today has been one of those glorious September days, you know the sort I mean, one that is even more precious because the days will soon be short and cold and there is a certain expectation in the air of change to come. I was so pleased to see bees in the garden today, they have been a rare sight this summer.



My buddleia was a busy place today. Unfortunately it has got to go - to make way for more dwarf apple trees. I will be planting another one on the front garden though.








I did title this The Birds and The Bees, so here are Gucci, Chanel and Dior enjoying an afternoon on the lawn, while we took opportunity of the weather to dismantle, clean and overhaul their house.



Tomorrow is forecast to be another fine day so I am going to try and get up to the top of the village where I have spied a Crab Apple tree which is dripping in little golden apples. I look forward to making Crab Apple Jelly, Mint and Apple Jelly and anything else I can think of!

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

First of all may I say a big thank you to Teresa at Honeycomb cottage for giving me this award


and also Tracey at funkeymonkey for this one

As far as I can see the rules are the same:-

1. Put the logo on your blog
2. Add a link to the person who awarded you
3. Nominate at least seven other blogs
4. Add links to those blogs
5. Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs.
On Simply Being
A Life Full Of Blessings
Codlins and Cream
faerie nuff
Lucy Locket
Contemplating Change
home matters most

Should any of you ladies not wish to participate that is fine by me, I just wanted you to know that visiting all your blogs is a pleasure. There are many more of course, the world of blogging is such an interesting and inspirational place, and I am thankful to you all.

Now back to photos.

Chatsworth House, the home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, it will be more in the public eye as the film The Duchess hits the screens, I am sure it will be a huge success here and across the pond.



The day was beautiful, sunny but not too hot. The interior of the house is magnificent, just as I remembered it from years ago. Being very keen Austen fans we know that this is the house that Pemberley was based on in Pride & Prejudice, we could just imagine the divine Darcy strutting around the place! If any of you have the chance to visit I would urge you to do so, it is one of the finest houses in England.
http://www.chatsworth.org/

This is a photo of the side of the house, unfortunately we couldn't take one of the front, but open the link and take a look at just how impressive the approach is!

DD wanted to visit the Blue John mines, one of the reasons we went to the Peak District, we all duly climbed and trudged down deep into the earth, although many photos were taken only a few came out, and here they are







It was quite an ordeal coming back up from the depths! but apparently it was worth it. This particular hill in the Derbyshire countryside is the only place on earth where Blue John is found. I could only afford a small ring for dd, it is tucked away to be found in her Christmas stocking. Take a look at the website - there is a good little video there.

Friday, 15 August 2008

We have enjoyed our 'holiday' at home, relaxing and seeing friends etc. On Wednesday I went to see Mamma Mia - which is hysterical, well worth seeing for a good laugh! Anyway we decided to take an overnight trip to the Peak District, eldest daughter wanted to visit the Blue John Mines and we all wanted to see Chatsworth - I will post about those over the weekend. Our overnight stop was in Castleton - in the Hope Valley. Such a beautiful part of the country - and Castleton was very picturesque, as the following will confirm!




Miners cottages by the stream




Peveril Castle overlooks the village - we will walk up the hill next time we visit!





The Market Place






A view up the lane to one of the caverns





Lots of quaint little cottages to see.





Bargate Cottage B&B. This was a great place to stay. The rooms are cosy and comfortable, and the breakfast was very enjoyable. The hostess is super and I hope we get to visit again, maybe next year.

http://www.bargatecottage.co.uk/



The cavern in the village has a rather cheeky name, apparently Queen Victoria visited it and there was an attempt to change the name - but it didn't happen. Take a look a the website:-