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Thursday September 28, 2017

Indian Summer


Looking beautiful in the autumn sunshine is my latest rose cutting, which took it into its head to bloom - I should have stopped it but it is so lovely. [I know the pot has a commercial growers label on it but I recycled it - honest..].
And below - we have one of the army of visitors that this year's excessively wet weather has produced. Between that and my personal herd of deer the pots really don't stand much of a chance.


Posted on September 28, 2017 at 3:03 PM | Comments (0) Leave a comment

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Saturday July 8, 2017

Hampton Court Flower Show


George's verdict from lat year ["it wasn't as bad as I expected"] meant he was keen enough to take another trip this year. It did mean we spent more time looking at lawn mowers than I might have done otherwise, but overall was quite fun. I bought rather a lot of lavenders.

The gardens were lovely and of course these seaside gardens were the ones that I loved the most.


This is By the Sea designed by James Callicott; inspired by the coastline of Southend-on-Sea:


... and Fun on Sea:


Both of these gardens were built by young offenders from Southend who are trying to get back on their feet. Aren't they perfectly lovely?

Posted on July 8, 2017 at 4:35 PM | Comments (0) Leave a comment

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Sunday June 25, 2017

The way home - Moseley Old Hall

By the time I got to Wolverhampton it was early afternoon (not a cue for a song, sadly, although I'm sure it would have been a great one) and had just come on to rain. My destination was Moseley Old Hall, an Elizabethan farmhouse described as "atmospheric" - which it certainly was.


I think it has rather lovely grounds and gardens but the weather was a bit grim for that kind of thing so I just snapped a couple of photos while waiting to start my tour of the house. This Knot Garden was constructed it in 1962 using a 17th-century design.


The main deal here is priest holes etc and the fact that Charles II hid in the house after his defeat at the Battle of Worcester in 1651. Indeed we started the tour entering the house through the same door used by him on his arrival, and later described in his memories of his escape dictated to Samuel Pepys. Although the tour is very geared towards kids, (as "50 things to do before you're 11 ¾ "), it was seriously one of the most exciting tours I have ever had at an NT property, narrated most passionately by one of the guides.
Rather charmingly Charles seemed to have remembered (and substantially rewarded) all those that helped him escape in this period once he was restored to the throne in 1660. Not necessarily a trait associated with monarchs.

I managed a cream tea (ok just a tea) but I could not linger, as there was quite a way still to go. I paused to buy a few plants from the shop - I like to do this at NT properties when they are on offer - including a myrtle, a plant I never remember having seen before. Jennie tells me it is tender, which might be why, but it seems subsequently to have done quite well in its new pot.

Posted on June 25, 2017 at 11:09 PM | Comments (0) Leave a comment

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Saturday July 9, 2016

Hampton Court Flower Show


George and I went to Hampton Court this year - a rather spur of the moment decision. The couple above clothed from head to toe in hedging completely fascinated me - we were both amazed at how hot they must have been - I was a bit late in snapping them unfortunately.
I spotted them while looking at this conceptual garden - I liked it a lot but the photo I managed to take is not actually showing it very well - the cut outs revealed an inner core. Called simply "Why?" it was sponsored by Rolawn Ltd, designed by Tony Smith and built by Hortus Infinitus. It "depicts the complexity and wonder of the universe and human brain", apparently, but very impressive whatever the inspiration.


Overall quite a pleasing day out - George's verdict "it wasn't as bad as I expected" (!) and he was able to take his new car for a trip out. I was going to go large on buying plants but only managed 2 clematis (and even then had trouble finding a spot for them in the garden when I got back) - all the roses I wanted (For Your Eyes Only, Birthday Girl) had sold out - all my own roses currently have black spot so maybe no bad thing to delay planting new ones.

Posted on July 9, 2016 at 5:10 PM

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Monday May 30, 2016

Everything in the garden...


It is fairly rosy - though Bridge of Sighs has black spot - and it's pretty cold and terribly windy so the plants are finding it hard to really get going.

In the same vein as the great lady gardeners I keep hearing about on the TV, I spent a fortune on plants ready for Jennie to deal with on Bank Holiday Monday. I bought two lovely Iris (Raspberry Crush and Bold Print), and Jennie brought along a Kent Pride which has been all the rage at Chelsea this year.


I also bought far too many bedding plants - lots of dianthus in pale oranges and white - as well as some petunias and others to replant the seasonal pots. I managed to do the latter myself before Jennie arrived - they are non-matching but, although the yellow and red one is very pretty, I wish I had followed through on my instinct and gone with black and white for both of them.

The result is that the new bed outside the utility room building project is pretty stuffed with plants now, and they all look fairly happy - hoping the wind and rain predicted for the week does not flatten everything.

Posted on May 30, 2016 at 8:10 AM

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Monday November 9, 2015

Disturbed Ground


This was so beautiful and perfectly formed I had to take its photo. I looked it up and feel it must be the "orange peel" fungus which is fairly common and pretty distinct. It's a "cup" fungus - and there are other examples in the garden that demonstrate this more clearly - but this one is wonderfully distorted - and the most fantastic colour.
Apparently it is edible but not very tasty - so no temptation to put that to the test.

Posted on November 9, 2015 at 8:23 AM

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Monday October 5, 2015



It's that time of year again... and for the tail end of the Indian Summer, we have escaped to France for a few days - which have been filled with making plum jam, pressing apples, and bottling the juice.

[Home again on the night ferry...]

Posted on October 5, 2015 at 2:01 PM

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Monday September 28, 2015



I was a bit surprised to find myself awake at 4am just in time to remember that there was an eclipse of the moon going on - and I had a great view of it. Not really represented in my picture but you get the idea...

Rob also took a set of photos with some wonderful detail (and a better lens!).




Posted on September 28, 2015 at 3:47 PM

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Tuesday August 18, 2015

Summer Flowers


I just took a couple of pictures of my later flowering pots as everything looks so pretty at the moment. The recent rain has freshened everything though the grass has not fared so well this year. I wanted a quick result for the pots and the local nurseries were all selling off the summer plants (they were looking a bit bedraggled) - but the pack of begonias have perked up very well and I have planted an extra pot of them to sit temporarily in one of the beds by the gate.

There is also a mystery dahlia that Jennie bought me - she purchased a pack of 3 tubers as Karma Chocolate - one died, hers has come out as advertised "chocolate", but mine is orange! From the description it looks more like David Howard - and it is lovely.


Posted on August 18, 2015 at 9:03 AM

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Thursday July 2, 2015

Hampton Court RHS


Jennie and I went to Hampton Court - it was pleasant enough but seemed very hot and we did not get round to see all the gardens. The floral tent was really great though and we bought several plants. I got a clematis for Rob who has hacked back his front garden and could do with a less vigorous replacement climber. I chose Queen Mother which is summer flowering - though not showing itself yet.

I am wholly smitten with roses at the moment though, and this one, Hot Chocolate seemed to be everywhere. I will get one - but need to decide where to put it...


Posted on July 2, 2015 at 1:10 PM

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Friday June 5, 2015



I bought this iris from our local flower show - and it's a really weird colour. I like it very much but it is unusual. As it progressed the colour seems to have mellowed a little. But very lovely.

Posted on June 5, 2015 at 3:27 PM

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Sunday May 24, 2015



This is a pretty pink rose in France that I have been trying to propagate - I am fearful for its future with all the building work.
I took 5 cuttings following advice on the web (and I can tell you they have subsequently all expired!). Last year, I took about 8 cuttings from various French roses, which included the pink one. Of those cuttings, two plants have survived - and I was absolutely convinced they are the robust red rose at the front of the cottage. Thus, I planted one in the garden in England and gave one to Rob. And now, after all, I am completely astonished to see a distinctly pink bud making an appearance in my garden.
So... result! I suppose...
[I have yet to find out what colour Rob's rose is].


Later news from June: both Rob's and my rose cuttings have turned out to be pink after all that. Pretty amusing as I was so convinced they were the large red one...

Posted on May 24, 2015 at 9:23 AM

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Sunday May 3, 2015



The wisteria in France was positively overwhelming - in both colour, size of blooms, and perfume. I saw the sun glinting through the branches overhanging the door - it's a nice enough photo but does not quite capture the moment.
I am pleased that my cutting the poor thing back to the wood does not seem to have slowed it down much - that part is in full leaf now and the section I left alone has burst into these heavy blossoms - it's always been a lovely plant but this year seems exceptional. [... and by the time we left a couple of days later, the strong winds had blown huge amounts of petals clean away...].


Posted on May 3, 2015 at 6:23 PM

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Sunday July 13, 2014

Hampton Court


Following the lovely day at Chelsea, Jenny and I decided to also go to Hampton Court, where we had a great day despite the peculiar weather which produced terrible downpours of rain, and intervals of scorching sun.

The picture is of the NSPCC garden which cleverly showed planting schemes from 3 eras since the charity started. What I noted was that the earliest garden is the type that I favour - and what I have chosen for the front borders in our house (lavender, lambs ears, lady's mantle etc) - whereas Jenny favours the more modern scheme.
The middle era garden was from the 1970s with a riot of bright planting (French marigolds and salvias) - and, true to form, looked just like the garden Rob and I created in Chichester.

Posted on July 13, 2014 at 8:09 PM

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Friday May 23, 2014



I was lucky enough to be able to accompany Jennie to the Chelsea Flower Show. There was so much to see it's hard to choose pictures to show from all that I took - and also it is hard to take good pictures of the gardens unless you are a professional photographer.
I saw a lot of the gardens on TV before we went, and was very interested in the Birmingham City Council Parks entry, which focussed on a WWI memorial garden including a highly stylised representation of a (rather floral) trench - but I loved the fountains made from giant whistles, and this old bicycle (the like of which I hope to recreate in my own garden as a rather smaller project).


The Beatrix Potter garden was delightful and deservedly got an award - unfortunately they decided to go with slightly over-sized plastic versions of Peter Rabbit among the vegetation - a hit with the kids but not with me. I loved the more restrained reference to Peter with his little blue jacket as a scarecrow among the climbing beans.


Alan Titchmarsh produced a very clever garden, but it was more representational than one that you would like to just teleport to your own back yard. I did love the garden designed by Patrick Collins as a celebration of St George's Hospital's Neonatal Unit. Not too sure about the representational aspects of the journey of life but it was a lovely garden.


There were a huge number of retail outlets - I bought George a garden thermometer. We also ran across these wonderful sculptures of giant frogs (not obvious in the picture but larger than human sized...).


Last time I went to Chelsea was in the 1970s, and I don't remember it that well except some vague idea it was very crowded. This time it did not feel so very crowded - and I wonder if that's because we are generally more used to large events being impossibly seething with people these days.
So all in all a very pleasant day.

Posted on May 23, 2014 at 4:01 PM

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Friday May 16, 2014

The New Shed


I painted the shed at the allotment. The weather was unforgivingly hot.

Posted on May 16, 2014 at 6:27 PM

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Thursday October 3, 2013



George bought a new gadget - though to be fair, it hardly qualifies as the (in my book) derogatory term "gadget", since it is based firmly in the local farming tradition around here.


George drinks a lot of fruit juices - and apple is a favourite - and we do seem to own an apple orchard** - so - obvious really.
** Actually we also own a GIANT apple press as well (in one of the buildings), but I fear it would take more than a couple of puny office workers to get it working again.


We experimented with different mixes of apples from different trees. I always imagined that the famous Normandy cider would be fermented from specific varieties like a vintage wine, but the French say that the best cider comes from a complete mix of varieties, which is why you find all kinds of different trees in the orchards. Our conclusion from tasting the juice is that they are (as you would expect) completely right - some of our juice was overly sweet and the finest was definitely one with a sharp undertone alongside the sweetness. And can we remember which mix that was? ....


We were able to make slightly over 8 pints per pressing. We froze it in re-purposed plastic milk bottles - but you can pasteurise it and then bottle it if you don't have enough room in the freezer.

I suspect there will have been some kind of run on these less industrial "home" versions of apple presses, because Monty Don featured them on Gardeners World recently and exhorted everyone to use up their windfalls by making juice. I hasten to add we are no middle class victims of mass marketing - at least not by the BBC(!) - as we ordered ours long before Monty featured them
- so there -
we are avant-garde.

Posted on October 3, 2013 at 6:57 PM

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Sunday September 15, 2013

Culprits Caught on Camera!


Throughout this summer we have had visitations from the local wildlife - not the first time - however unusually this year we seem to have had them making free with the plants in the garden ie helpfully trimming all the tops off the fuchsias in the beds close to the house. I know that some of my neighbours a few miles away have a terrible problem, but the area of the heath where we are is bordered on 3 sides by main roads so they rarely find their way to us.
While Alison and her sister and family visited one afternoon in August, the children spotted the deer family nearby and they seemed to be quite tame. And finally here they are again today, right on our doorstep.


Lovely though they are - I do hope they find their way back to the open heath soon.....

Posted on September 15, 2013 at 6:22 PM

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Monday August 26, 2013



This is just impossibly cute isn't it?
It appeared on the bakehouse doorstep just after George stepped inside. It was totally mesmerised and appeared to be unable to move to the degree it seemed to us that it might have fallen out of a nest - however, I think it was in the process of fledging. We stepped back and forth over it, and when we were away from it, it cried pitifully - and we could hear again what seemed to be responses from possibly its parents. But they never appeared.

I can't really identify it but on thinking about the birds we see around, I am wondering if it's a baby spotted flycatcher. It's the beak that gives it away a bit. Having looked at the web I find it looks just like this little chap captured on You tube - and the description of the robust flying sounds very similar.


Finally, it fluttered straight up from the step into the nearby apple tree - quite a tough call. There, we watched it sitting and moving - calling all the time. On this basis I think it has probably made it through OK.

Posted on August 26, 2013 at 5:53 PM

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Saturday August 17, 2013



So...while I was living it up at the button workshop, Jennie had entered my hydrangeas in the local horticultural society flower show on my behalf. And they won! Second prize - which is less than I deserve since the idea and execution were all down to Jennie. [Now I feel like part of the plot of Downton Abbey.].


Anyway - as I have mentioned before - the hydrangeas here are lovely.
Nothing to do with me - all down to them - and now, Jennie.


Posted on August 17, 2013 at 5:08 PM

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Monday May 6, 2013

May Bank Holiday


We had a pretty full schedule over the weekend (mine was totally self serving, devoting self to hair-do, pedicure and buying myself bunches of flowers). But we spent the holiday Monday, (which, against all the rules, was a lovely sunny day), at the allotment.
George was putting up bean supports - but he quickly found he had no hope of competing with the amazing edifice constructed by our neighbour, John. The photos show George doing the hard bit, digging in compost and putting edging boards in place, in the morning when there was some cloud cover. By the afternoon we were sweltering under clear sunny skies.
[My contribution was supplying thermos flasks of tea, and a bit of weeding in the asparagus bed - from which we cropped and ate 2 twigs today... My abandoned orange-handled fork visible on the bed at the right of the picture as evidence of my activity. Pretty yellow dandelions visible in the strawberry bed in the foreground were dealt with later - this bed is also full of the prettiest blue wild flowers, which I am sad to have to remove...]


The beans in the afternoon sunshine, waiting to be planted out. [It's still very cold at night here - everything is very late].


Posted on May 6, 2013 at 7:06 PM

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Saturday April 6, 2013

Sheep .... in the garden

Our final day in France - and a small flock of sheep came trotting down the drive with a shepherdess in hot pursuit. The were quite purposeful - as well as charming - but I was only able to catch a photo when they had panicked and escaped into the adjacent field. I'm not sure how the adventure ended......

Posted on April 6, 2013 at 1:28 PM

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Monday April 1, 2013

Beating the Bounds


By Saturday afternoon the snow had vanished - despite laying moderately thickly, the temperatures were quite high enough to cause an immediate thaw to set in.
We did a tour of the boundary checking up on the horse chestnut tree, which seems to be showing signs of being a real tree now, growing strong and straight since it was released from its pot. Only 40 years until it flowers - though I have had it since 1997, so - not long to go! [George obligingly providing scale].
Perhaps when it reaches maturity it will obscure the splendid view of the newly erected electricity pylons - more of this later.


The rhubarb seems to have survived the winter, though the spring seems to be pretty challenging. Every time the plants give it a go, there is a sudden frost.


The latest addition to the Bakehouse - shutters to stop the rain pouring in the "French" windows. Here it is in the sunshine - looking like butter wouldn't melt in it's mouth.

Posted on April 1, 2013 at 4:41 PM

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Saturday March 30, 2013

Snow in Summer

It's Easter Saturday in France.
I repeat EASTER Saturday,
and this is the scene that greeted me on awakening.
[OK I suppose technically it's Spring].

Posted on March 30, 2013 at 7:56 AM

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Thursday January 10, 2013



Some years ago I put my name down for an allotment, and to my astonishment, this year we were given one. Here we are choosing our plot (yes! there was a choice) and collecting the key.

Posted on January 10, 2013 at 12:37 PM

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Tuesday July 24, 2012

Torch in Kingston


This is Anna Smith, who carried the torch in recognition of her bravery in going to the aid of another, at great personal cost. Having read all about her, it is excellent to see her in such fine form.

So far I seem to have been to several locations on the same day as the torch but not actually seen it. So Robert shared his early morning's experiences with me, via a home movie.
He and I had a beer in the garden before walking round to the pub for some al fresco dining. As we went, we observed the terrapin, all shiny, having freshly exited the pond, as he crawled up the side of the submerged duck house roof to his customary place in the evening sunshine.

Posted on July 24, 2012 at 3:49 PM

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Sunday May 27, 2012


George called me out into the garden in a state of some amazement, while searching to grab his camera...


He could not be sure if he really was seeing a terrapin sitting on the roof of the old duck house in our pond - but he was indeed. I was slightly less surprised than he, as some years ago the fish mongers told me something about people "freeing" terrapins into the pond - I think they are regarded as vermin, presumably detrimental to the natives. However, I was not sure I really believed it at the time. Anyway, there he was - basking - all beautiful and stripey.

Posted on May 27, 2012 at 5:13 PM

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Splendid Summer

It was a beautifully sunny weekend and we spent it all in the garden.


George has the veg patch and pots well under control, but I have a bit more work to do! Encouraged by Jenny, our new gardener, I set about cleaning up the porch area and washing the garden chairs.


I am fully repainting the porch chairs, and got as far as refurbishing the wooden feet with wood hardener and undercoat, plus applying Hammerite ("paint on to rust") to the metal parts. They are nice old chairs, but it always amuses me that I spend more on paint and equipment than the chairs actually cost - one being free - in desperation the auctioneer included it in another lot I had bought, whether I needed it or not!

Posted on May 27, 2012 at 2:01 PM

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Thursday April 19, 2012


Sad to say, we have been steadily removing trees from the front of our house - I hate it, but it was necessary. This is the ash tree coming down. Although huge, ash trees grow very quickly and his progeny is all over the rest of our garden (!). I pull up an average of 80 of his seedlings from the flower beds every time I weed - no exaggeration.


It seems terrible to remove any lovely old trees - but compare the picture of our garden above (view towards the pond) with this picture of our house below, taken around 100 years ago, when it was first built. This is exactly the same view but in the opposite direction across the pond - and - not a tree in sight. The common really was a common and not a wood.


Posted on April 19, 2012 at 7:01 PM

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Thursday April 5, 2012

... et la bête


When we got back, the weather was delightful again, so George was straight out on the mower.... for about half an hour. Then I had to go out and help him investigate why the engine cut out every time he lowered the cutting blades. We spent ages looking at the automatic cut out switches and finally jacked it up to look at the blades, finding that one was totally seized up - and the cause was trivial: a sizeable chunk of wood was firmly wedged in it.

Posted on April 5, 2012 at 3:34 PM


Im glad to see that George looks like he's wearing a nice warm sweater to work outside!

Posted by: Alison on April 5, 2012 7:06 PM

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Tuesday April 3, 2012

La Tondeuse arrive sur la remorque


George nursed the old lawnmower through most of last season - it had lost some vital parts on its way round the field. We waited until the new season to purchase a replacement. This is not a brand new machine but pretty solid with some nice features, and also picks the grass up - this is both an advantage and a disadvantage - most of our land is field rather than lawn so we need to leave the cut grass where it falls; we have a widget on order which will give us that option. As things stand currently, George has created a grass mountain in a single (late) afternoon's mowing.


Posted on April 3, 2012 at 5:36 PM

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Sunday February 5, 2012

Just snow


I have to admit that the "winter wonderland" scene in my garden is becoming a bit of a habit. But even if it happens every year - it is really wondrous when you wake up and find a virgin blanket of snow. Later on in the day, you find out how much wildlife activity there really is in your garden!

Posted on February 5, 2012 at 8:36 PM

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Friday April 22, 2011



I did not know rhubarb could do this. It's hard to see but it has shot up a flower spike and is now about 6 feet tall. I read now that you should (as I suspected) cut this off if you plan to crop it. As we have not eaten any of it yet - waiting for the poor neglected thing to get established - I hope it makes it feel good.

Posted on April 22, 2011 at 9:36 AM

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Saturday April 9, 2011



An outing to Wisley to view the spring flowers, gain allotment inspiration, and tour the hot-house.


All the Wisley subjects are so wonderfully photogenic.



Posted on April 9, 2011 at 5:44 PM

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Saturday January 29, 2011

The Mousetrap


George organised the most wonderful birthday treat for me as a surprise. We went to see the "Mousetrap" - I was absolutely delighted. The show is older even than I am - 2012 will be its diamond jubilee (and not mine!) - and I have never seen it before. The plot is a sort of amalgamation of Agatha Christie favourite themes including blizzards and locked rooms, so it made it possible to make a stab at who the murderer was, but the implausible coincidences and relationships between the characters made it all the more interesting and charming. I felt like I wanted to dress in costume - not a mouse costume... - but would have looked an idiot so luckily suppressed the urge.

Following the theme: we had "stored" our apple crop (about 4 Bramleys) in the attic - and I found that the mice regarded them as winter fodder. They did not eat them all at once you understand, just came back for another bite from time to time. We don't have "house" mice but pretty little brown wood mice who prefer to live outside except in the coldest weather when they come in - and eat anything they can find. I managed to exclude them from the downstairs area and kitchen by preventing entry (anything in the lobby is fair game for them), but the attic is impossible to make mouse-proof.
I'm afraid I had to "deal" with them. And remove the apples.

Posted on January 29, 2011 at 4:02 PM

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Wednesday December 1, 2010

Icy Weirdness

I return to find weird weather.




Posted on December 1, 2010 at 5:57 PM

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Sunday November 28, 2010


We have a medlar tree in France and this year we found some fruit from it, so I "left them to rot" for a while, as instructed, and then made jelly and jam.


Not sure if it's because it's a good year for medlars, but whatever the reason they seem to be having a lot of items about them in the media. I did know you have to blet them, but, having watched the TV programs, I think that's more for eating them as fruit rather than making jelly. For the latter I think you need more of a mix with unripened fruit. My jelly and jam was somewhat bland, and not very exciting. Eating the raw bletted fruit was much as described - like stewed apple with the cinammon and spices already added.

Posted on November 28, 2010 at 12:38 PM

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Wednesday September 1, 2010

Green (...and white and orange)

All summer we have been eating our own vegetables. The results have been variable - mostly we have had very small crops as we grew only a few plants.


Above are the butter beans - I am very proud of them - we had only 2 plants that made it to maturity so we have had literally 2 or 3 beans with each meal....! The runner beans are highly productive and undemanding as usual. This years carrots are great - different variety from last year but just as successful in containers. We had some tomatoes this year - the blight did not get them. I have been eating these cherry ones every day for lunch.


These larger tomatoes are from G's Mother who grew them from seed. They were very late developing and are still very green - but we will ripen them indoors later on if necessary. We used some interesting little pots designed to work with a grow bag, and they have their own personal greenhouse.


Posted on September 1, 2010 at 9:41 AM

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Sunday August 29, 2010



Having been a member for two years, we finally decided to visit RHS Wisley and see the Sculpture Trail. It was very interesting and some items were quite desirable - but not quite in our price range.


I was very inspired by the vegetable plots on show - especially the "caged" brassicas which protected them from caterpillers. In the end we purchased a tiered set of shelving so that I can make a home for a mass of strawberry offshoots that I brought home from France. These were last years named varieties that I took over there at the end of the season and the fruit is delicious - each has a different flavour - though George and I only got to eat about 3 strawberries from them! I originally chose them as they each cropped at different times but now I have no idea from which plants the babies are derived.
This year I found a tray of pathetically sick looking strawberries for 25p in Homebase - 3 seem to have survived and cropped about 2 strawberries - which were nice but not wonderful. The plants are now doing well so - maybe next year....

Posted on August 29, 2010 at 8:28 PM

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Monday August 9, 2010

Summer Rose


Rob trimmed his floribunda white rose and gave me this lovely country arrangement.

Posted on August 9, 2010 at 1:27 PM

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Sunday August 8, 2010



We were forced to empty a bag of potatoes prematurely (they are late earlies so needed a bit longer to mature) as one of the potato plants seemed to be withering and I feared blight. In the event the single plant had not developed and the attached root was rotten but it did not seem to have bothered the others.


Not a truly great yield but - yum.

We have subsequently had lots of potatoes, runner beans, french beans, butter beans, courgettes, and carrots - again not huge yields, as I think we do not enrich our soil sufficiently, but quite satisfactory. I still have fennel, curly kale, and broccoli to crop. I have rather rashly put our name down for an allotment, (there is a long waiting list!). We visited a couple of the allotment sites - a recce - and they are delightful - like walking into a bygone age.

Posted on August 8, 2010 at 9:15 AM

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Wednesday July 14, 2010

Sissinghurst and Tudeley

After only about 25 years, my friend Jocelyn came over to see me from Australia - she has been over before but we have always missed each other. It was great to see her again, and we went on a couple of days out.

We visited Sissinghurst - I've always wanted to see the famous garden (now owned by the National Trust) - and it was as lovely as I expected. Unfortunately I have had camera issues for a while now and failed to get any personal photos of Joc or the garden. Anyway - I decided to post this photo of 3 generations of the family (men) take around 1967.


The next 3 generations posed in the same way about 20 odd years later - for fun I imagine - and the two photos were exhibited side by side. This kind of idea always has great appeal for me (as in my crude attempts to copy the original model poses in POM) - so I was hoping to post the same here but am unable to find a copy of the later photo on the web.

As we were (relatively) close - in Kent at any rate - I finally took that detour to Tudeley to see the Chagall windows in All Saints Church. I did not warn Joc of where we were going as I was not sure what to expect - but it was utterly beautiful in its tranquil setting with not another soul about; a very impressive end to the day.


Posted on July 14, 2010 at 8:29 PM

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Tuesday February 9, 2010


..so on and off over Christmas, I put all this stuff out for the birds (Christmas excesses etc)... and they really loved it - one minute it was there and the next it was gone!


Here they are tucking into some cheese rind.

Posted on February 9, 2010 at 8:06 PM

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Friday January 15, 2010

Umble Pie

I have been watching a delightful TV series The War Time Kitchen and Garden. It is a semi-reenactment of domestic life during WWII with Ruth Mott and Harry Dodson who partly act out roles as cook and head gardener, and also provide their personal memories of the period - all interspersed with period film footage and radio broadcasts.

HumblePieWWIIPoster.jpg Harry works with a "land girl" making a slow burning bonfire working from instructions in a government information leaflet (which he clearly finds somewhat lacking in "information"). It's rather like the charcoal burners in Swallows and Amazons.
Whilst Ruth makes "swiss breakfast" (muesli) with grated carrot, chopped apple, and oats.
She also made mayonnaise..... without any eggs.... (she had to use the egg in the VE Day party cake - o what's that? what about the pancakes? they were made with powdered egg and milk of course!). The mayonnaise was made by simply substituting the egg by cooked potato, rubbed through a sieve, then whipped up with mustard, vinegar and the usual gradual addition of oil. (I think I might have coped with a simple vinaigrette?).

If the above appeals, see:

Snuffling around the web I find I have woken up a little late to this series from 1993. The other parent series are available on DVD but not this one. However, it is a gem, and is currently being shown on the UK TV history channel Yesterday. I have to confess I ran across it after watching a TV drama series that I remember from my youth.... it seems Yesterday shows these series as ... well... "history"!

Posted on January 15, 2010 at 7:55 AM

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Saturday September 12, 2009

Home Grown

We had to dig up the potato. I say THE potato. We had only one plant, and along with all other related species in the garden, it got blight, so we dug them up before anything worse happened. I did find it very helpful that the Gardeners World team showed us all their blighted potatoes (it was common throughout the UK this year), and offered advice on how to deal with the results, and crop what you can.


We did not feel that our haul was especially mighty, but they were Desirees which should be "lates" - so it was a bit early for them (!), and it rendered enough for 2 meals for us.

Overall we have done very well with our other vegetables. Not certain it has been very economic overall, but for weeks now we have not had to buy any vegetables - though our diet has been restricted to eating only carrots and beans.


We had a few courgettes - but they are very easy to grow and we should have done better. We had lots of lettuce and rocket, and my fennel was very successful - almost too embarrassed to show photos as they did not develop good bulbs, but were very good in my fish soup nonetheless. Here is a group photo showing the beans, fennel, lettuce and tubs of carrots in the distance.


Our brassicas have all bolted - the brussel sprouts may be producing nodules about the size of peas, so we'll have to see, and the butternut squash - I planted four very late and one of them produced a tiny squash, which a squirrel has done its best to consume, but not altogether successfully!

Posted on September 12, 2009 at 8:11 PM

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Monday May 25, 2009

Magic Beans

It seems no accident that Jack's magic plant was a bean. George left for France and I noticed that 2 little pimples had appeared in my indoor bean pots.

A day later all 8 are through - and they have scared me with their rate of growth. I have moved them outside to slow them down a bit.

Other than that - the holiday weekend has been warm and sunny and we exhausted ourselves in the garden. I have little to show for it but bare earth where the weedy drive used to be.

And I also scoured a fleece in preparation for more fleeces arriving from my sister tomorrow.

I rose very early today and started more work but after a couple of hours It began to rain and has continued on and off ever since, so no more real progress on the weeds.

Posted on May 25, 2009 at 10:34 PM

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Sunday May 17, 2009

Digging In

We had hoped to make great progress this weekend, but the weather has been pretty horrid. What makes it most difficult is that there is an unpleasant cold wind, which means that going into the garden is not at all appealing. George made a lot of headway yesterday while I was enjoying myself at the workshop, and today we finished off digging over enough beds to finish planting the Brussels Sprouts from last weekend.


The plant tumbling over the rocky edge of the bed, to the right in the foreground, is an adventitious oregano**. As it has self-seeded, I never felt brave enough to try eating it - but it smells wonderful and attracts a huge number of bees when in flower - as does the geranium Herb Robert (a "weed") to the left of the picture, under the rose.
Our main problem was that it rained on and off all day. The digging was hard work, and although George prepared the canes, we did not plant the bean seeds, as it still seems so very cold. Meanwhile, I have planted up some pots of beans to germinate indoors.

** I never quite decided whether this plant was oregano or marjoram - I knew it was one or the other and tended to mentally label it marjoram. However, I thought I would determine which for this blog entry and now discover that this area is the subject of general confusion not just my own. I had never really thought before that they are even the same family - I just used the commercial dried herbs from jars. I now think this must be oregano on the grounds that it is perennial and has purple flowers; even then, oregano the herb is also known as "wild marjoram".

Posted on May 17, 2009 at 6:23 PM

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Sunday May 10, 2009

Dig for Victory

The BBC Dig In campaign that seems to have affected everyone in the UK (well, all the middle classes who watch Gardeners World, anyway). We always fancied the idea of growing vegetables - but in my past garden adventures I never really tried. My parents grew vegetables and so I know that (a) it involves hard work, and (b) the possibility of failure is always stalking you.

In our current garden, there is not an obviously good site with any amount of sun to dig a vegetable plot. However I seemed to remember dimly from my youth that runner beans were simple enough, so I bought some seeds and some canes with a view to making a wigwam in one of the sunnier flower beds - and I bought a growbag to raise some tomatoes. Then, yesterday, while weeding our drive, I noticed that an adjacent scruffy overgrown patch of garden was sitting in sunshine for a good part of the day. So that sealed its fate.

We (George) removed lawn turf and weeds, and dug over the tiniest patch of earth. And finally at the end of the day, we were ready to plant out some purple sprouting broccoli and Brussel sprouts. In fact, the bed is nothing like large enough for the brassica - so next weekend we will be attacking another patch of the little lawn

We also planted up some containers of tomatoes, courgettes, strawberries, and salad leaves.

Here are my floral pots that I planted last week, (a new pot due to fox activity on the old one last year...). Plus replanted pots of tarragon and thyme.

By the way, the title of this entry is not to suggest any chauvinistic call to arms - just a little historical nostalgia for a post-World-War-II world of allotments and potting sheds.

Posted on May 10, 2009 at 11:14 PM


Gracious, it's been too long since I visited here. And now I find that you were in France at Easter (though your taking care of your getaway is a bit different than my touristy visit trouping around the Paris landmarks), have read the sheep detective story (glad you enjoyed it), and have made a very clever spinner's apron. That last is a great idea. I generally just accumulate debris on my pants leg, and then try to hobble to a nearby wastebasket to brush it off without dumping it all on the carpet. :) The vegetable garden looks promising -- and ambitious!

Posted by: Cathy on May 14, 2009 2:39 AM

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Sunday April 19, 2009


I took these views of the garden while it was still sunny in the evening.
The wisteria which just popped out during our stay:

The raspberry bed, still looking good. I weeded out a couple of nettles and buttercups, and George, having cut them back last year, contained the canes with some poles and twine:

Finally - the pieris forestii, of which I am not so very fond, it being more Surrey than Normandy - but - what a fabulous example, and especially splendid right now.

I always thought they were little shrubs, but now I read that they can reach over 5metres!

Posted on April 19, 2009 at 10:04 AM


That wisteria looks lovely.

Posted by: Alison on April 24, 2009 12:56 AM

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Saturday November 8, 2008

More Apples

Continuing to "deal" with the apples - this is one of my favourite desserts. It looks very pretty with its icing sugar dusting, and is quick to make, (once you have assembled the ingredients); in fact, the quicker the better, as it needs to go into the oven as soon as possible after the flour is mixed in.

Almond Apple Dessert Cake


(serves 6 - or 4 greedy people)

  • 3oz butter
  • One large egg
  • 4oz castor sugar (I like the 'golden' variety)
  • 1 teaspoon of almond essence
  • 4oz self-raising flour sifted with 1 rounded teaspoon of baking powder
  • 12oz Bramley apples, (weight before peeling)
  • icing sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C in a fan oven, or Gas Mark 5. Use ½oz of the butter to grease a 6 inch loose-bottomed cake tin.
  2. Melt the rest of the butter in a pan until just runny.
  3. Peel and core the apples - you can slice them now, or wait until you are ready to use them, to try and avoid their turning overly brown.
  4. Beat together the egg, sugar, and almond oil; then pour the melted butter into the mixture in a thin steady stream while still beating. (Use an electric whisk if possible as it makes it much easier to do this).
  5. Fold in the sifted flour and baking powder.
  6. Spread about two thirds of the mixture in the bottom of the tin.
  7. Quickly slice the apples and put them roughly on top of the mixture.
  8. Finally spread the remaining mixture over the apples. This seems like an impossible task as there is very little mixture left with which to work, but smear it over as best you can (use a flexible spatula to get all you can out of the bowl), and don't worry that it is not smooth - this will even out in cooking, and the mixture will rise up to mostly cover the apples.
  9. Now put it into the oven, and bake for about 45 minutes to an hour, until the apple is soft (test with a skewer); check towards the end of the cooking time to make sure the cake is not going too brown on the top.
  10. Once out of the oven, loosen the sides of the cake with a knife, and carefully push out. When slightly cooler, dust with icing sugar.

This can be served warm or cold, and keeps for a couple of days (covered) in the fridge. I'm afraid this is another dessert designed to be served with cream.

Posted on November 8, 2008 at 10:55 PM

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Tuesday October 28, 2008


They all fell off my Bramley apple tree - so I have a mini apple mountain.
We are resigned to our fate of putting on pounds through eating extra apple desserts; it's tough but someone has to do it.

Apple Betty is new to me and this chocolate version was suggested to me by Tony. I found it a bit too sweet, though it might depend on how sweet your apples are. Next time I might try adding a little lemon or lime juice to the apple layer, and using less sugar and syrup in the topping.
Some traditional versions of this pudding use alternate layers of crumbs and apple.

Chocolate Apple Betty


(serves 3 - or 2 greedy people)

  • 1lb Bramley apples, peeled, cored, and chopped into large chunks
  • 1oz butter
  • 2oz fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 1½oz light soft brown sugar
  • 2oz dark chocolate*, roughly chopped
  • 1½oz butter, melted
  • 1 heaped tablespoon golden syrup

* Choose a good quality chocolate here, as the flavour is very evident.


  1. Mix the crumbs, sugar and chocolate. I blend them each separately in a food processor to get the right degree of "chopping" and then mix them all together.
  2. Cook the apple pieces for a few minutes with the ounce of butter melted in 1 tablespoon of water over a moderate heat. When the apples are just turning soft and far from mushy, put them in the baking dish.
  3. Cover with the crumb mixture.
  4. Mix the melted butter and the golden syrup then pour it over the crumb topping, making certain to soak it all.
  5. Bake in the oven at 190 degrees C or Gas Mark 5 for 30-35 minutes until the apple is soft and the topping is crunchy.

Delicious served with cream or ice cream.

Posted on October 28, 2008 at 10:54 AM

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Thursday May 29, 2008

Tropical Storms

Given the terrible events that have happened elsewhere in the world recently, I use this term loosely of course. However, all things being relative, this warm wet weather has caused huge growth in the garden making for a pretty if somewhat wild look.


It's been quite hot today - I have been to a customer site north of London and am travelling down to Havant feeling hot and grubby in my crimplene* business suit. It is cooling down though, and I am keeping my fingers crossed for fine weather as we set off across the channel tonight.

*When I first joined my company as a graduate trainee we were given an induction course which included advice on business dress - delivered by a badly (or frumpily) dressed woman extolling the virtues of crimplene. It did not go down well with any members of the audience, regardless of age. Now of course - I am that woman.... and there has been a revival of interest in easy-care nylon suits (or was that last year?!).

Posted on May 29, 2008 at 12:04 PM

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Tuesday May 27, 2008

Soggy Monday

The weather has been just awful - we started the day with water pouring through the ceiling in the spare room. Not only the rain but the wind has been positively hurricane-like. How different from last weekend when all was tranquility as I snapped this butterfly (Speckled Wood?) in a patch of sun while George and I were out for walk on Sunday.


So the Bank Holiday weekend has been one of finishing projects.
I reworked the toes on the original socks I made for Terry a couple years ago, as he had worn them through, and my sister had got to the point where further darning was not possible.
I reworked the neck on the knitalong guernsey ready to take away with me to France next weekend.
I finally completed Pattern of the Month for May - just in time to post it before June starts! I was very satisfied with the result - the bamboo yarn is lovely.

So as my victories this weekend have not been very photogenic - I return to last weekend's walk: here is a little pond area - often dry, but now with all the recent rain looking quite pond-like.


A heron lands on Mere pond:
Heron2.jpg Heron1.jpg

Robert is planning to join the Africa Day celebrations in Trafalgar Square today but I imagine it will be rained off, the weather is really so bad.

Posted on May 27, 2008 at 12:47 AM

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Monday May 5, 2008

Weeds and weather

This morning, we walked into Walton to see the Antiques Fair, found nothing we wanted - my button lady was absent again, which is a shame - and so we came home empty handed. George did some negotiations and has headed off back there with some items he wants to sell to the dealers.


We have spent quite a lot of the holiday in the garden, actually working, as we haven't seen anything of the gardener yet this year. We spent Saturday touring garden centres and finally purchased a mower (all our equipment being resident in France). So George attacked the grass, while I started weeding the gravel drive. Yesterday, we continued pruning and tidying - as usual my method of working is slow and probably not very effective, so I suspect the work will continue all week - or all summer! The weather predictions are blazing sunshine after Tuesday, so I am sure I can manage a few hours of work a day in the garden.



Looking at the BBC weather report for my area for the past week, it was predicting the weekend would be "changeable" - rain and sun. As the weekend approached, it started to predict rain and more rain. Even this morning it staunchly predicted nothing but rain - and as I gazed at the sunshine outside the window, I fell to thinking that usually, even if the 5 day forecast is a bit dubious, they usually get it right on the actual day the weather is happening....
Now at 11am I am amused to see it's been updated to show sun.


Posted on May 5, 2008 at 11:41 AM

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Sunday April 27, 2008

If It wasn't for the 'Ouses in Between** - Gus Elen

We have scaffolding around the house, as the recent high winds caused our weather vane to shift and (unusually) water came in at the very pinnacle of the Rapunzel tower. More true to form, I first noticed this on hearing the water splashing through my bedroom ceiling at 7am one morning - water always finds the path of least resistance so chooses to come through the light fittings.... lovely.


I wanted to make best use of the access to the bedroom window and do some repainting. Again, true to form, the window frames turn out to be thoroughly wet and rotten under the layers of paint, so now the carpenter is coming round to estimate for more substantial repairs. Meanwhile I cunningly stripped off paint and raked out putty leaving the windows all exposed, only to find the weather forecast for today and the rest of the week is rain, and more rain. Sigh.


** Music Hall ditty :-
   "Wiv a ladder and some glasses,
    You could see to 'Ackney Marshes,
    If it wasn't for the 'ouses in between."

I also notice it contains a reference to Epsom: "....you'd fancy you're in Kent, Or at Epsom if you gaze into the mews"

Posted on April 27, 2008 at 8:18 AM

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Sunday April 6, 2008

April Showers

I know it's a cliché - but I woke up this morning and really could not believe my eyes. All week it has been lovely sunshine - temperatures of 17°C - summer suits have been coming out so I would not be too hot at work. Yesterday I took some photos of primulae, basking in warm sunshine.
This is what greeted me when I awoke.

Here are the basking primulae:



Here they are today:


April showers.
This was not what they had in mind.

Posted on April 6, 2008 at 9:23 AM


I was astonished to see this picture this morning! Its not even a light dusting of snow is it? I'm hoping for snow this weekend - but only above 6000 feet.

Posted by: Alison on April 6, 2008 5:27 PM

It was about 3 inches on the grass, and continued snowing all day. However, it was also thawing all day and the paths and roads now are pretty clear.

Posted by: Christina on April 7, 2008 9:09 AM

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Saturday February 9, 2008

Here they are again.

I took these pictures on my way out to work yesterday. It was a beautiful sunny day, and it was a bit of a surprise to see these splashes of colour in the garden. First a little snowdrop:


Croci and primulae: the weather has been unseasonably warm for the last 2 weeks, and I fear they have been tempted out too soon.




Posted on February 9, 2008 at 4:39 PM

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Sunday January 27, 2008

A walk in winter

Yesterday on the way back from a shopping trip with George (my special treat - a visit to John Lewis) we happened to be on the road during the most spectacular sunset. We stopped on our way over Epsom Downs and to photograph it over the racecourse. Unfortunately we missed capturing the more startling colours - but it's still pretty amazing. [Note that I have stitched this photo together, and the join is not perfect, but you can see how splendid it is].


The weather is so fantastic - cold** and sunny.
Perfect for a walk.
It was a bit like a rerun of the Mont Buon walk at New Year - but local to our house on the common.

We have English trees,

English Gorse


and English fungus and lichen.


Finally we have a smug person in Wellingtons, anticipating her birthday.


** "Cold" - but not relative to, say, Canada.

Posted on January 27, 2008 at 6:36 PM

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Saturday August 4, 2007

More heartless beauties for the thinking woman.

Every day new hydrangea bushes start flowering - or so it seems. This one is always very rewarding, not being deprived of water on a regular basis in the normal course of events, even in normal weather.

Then there's my clematis - designed to grow around the bird feeder (not needed in summer). I always thought this was a "Ville de Lyon" (based on memory of the label when I bought it!) - and I used to have one in another garden. However looking at web entries on the subject I am now not sure.
These flowers represent pure thoughts, or beauty of the mind, (which is odd as they are very beautiful on the outside and I don't think they'll be too insulted if I suggest they do not have a mind...).

clematis1.jpg clematis2.jpg

Posted on August 4, 2007 at 3:19 PM

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Saturday July 7, 2007

Vain but not heartless, surely....

I just had to take a picture of the hydrangeas this year as they look so splendid.


I have always preferred the blue varieties to the pink and I am lucky at the moment to have soil that favours these beautiful blues. I like to imagine they were planted by Edwardians when the house was first built, though I also think this is dubious, but whatever the case the adjacent redwood has now grown to such a size that usually they suffer terribly from lack of water in the summer, as the tree takes any that's around. However, it has been so wet these past months that they are flourishing.

In the language of flowers they are listed variously as representing boastfulness, heartlessness; frigidity; vanity; - or saying a thank you for understanding (! - as a Victorian in receipt of such a flower however would you know? am I frigid or understanding? it seems the confusion casts doubts on the usefulness of this secret code). They are indeed beautiful superficial showy flowers - I can see they could be vain or boastful, but I can't see them as frigid**(see additional note at the end).

I like this link for the language of flowers. It not only tells you the flower meanings but allows you to enter your intended message and be informed of the flowers you need to send to your secret amour.




**[Note: my sister made the (good) suggestion that although beautiful, they have no fragrance and this might be why they could represent showy but not sensual. She loves hydrangeas and lacecaps and was recounting the tale of a 1970s gift of a lacecap in a pot, which seemed at the time inappropriate for a woman in her twenties living in a tiny flat overlooking the Thames. Nonetheless, it lived there indoors in Hammersmith for some time, and then it went to live outdoors in my Mother's garden in Sussex, where it flourished for many years (and still does). Finally, when my Mother died, Lyn took cuttings of it and she now has some fantastic plants, which have moved with her several times over the years. (I say: "finally"... but who knows where they may go next?).
No disrespect to my sister but they are quite easy to raise from cuttings, and I am now encouraged to try it.]

Posted on July 7, 2007 at 4:25 PM


Lovely! I really like Hydrangeas and yours look wonderful.

Posted by: Alison on July 8, 2007 10:44 AM

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Thursday May 3, 2007

"A tree is a large plant." Wikipedia

"Though there is no set definition regarding minimum size, the term generally applies to plants at least 6 m (20 ft) high at maturity".

So the lumberjacks arrived to deal with some of our larger "plants", and finally to remove the fallen tree. They were quite manly but I was a little disappointed that there was not a single checked shirt among them - in fact, they seemed to have some kind of polo shirt style uniform.

Lumberjacks1.jpg Lumberjacks2.jpg

Here, an example Jack prepares to scale the giddy heights of our Sequoia (not really a Sequoia, but certainly a redwood and near enough for me to pretend). It's way above our rooftop, even after they took about 10 feet off the top.


Soon, I will have to leave all this excitement, and scuttle off in to work in London.

Posted on May 3, 2007 at 10:02 AM

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Saturday April 14, 2007

"And it soft as silk remains"

So here is the state of play at the Raspberry Bed. George has finished digging in the retaining boards (all his own invention), and I have removed the weeds.


You were quite right about the helpfulness of that Little Cat. She was utterly exhausted after all that effort with those weeds. Even this morning she was out there, scraping away around the edges of the bed, not content that I had completely uprooted all those nettles. [At least I think that's what she was doing...]


Later on in the afternoon she felt up to a little bird-watching.


Posted on April 14, 2007 at 6:51 PM

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Saturday March 24, 2007

Handsome N/S (GSOH) WLTM similar for LTR

Genuine replies only please.


For some days now I have been hearing that lonely explosive "cough through a megaphone" very close to the house. Today he started a 6 and I finally managed to see him. I had a great view of him from my bedroom window, but had to pelt downstairs to take his photo. He wandered around and then mounted the compost heap to best express his lonely mating call a few times, before wandering back onto the common. He is in such fine fettle I think he must belong to someone, and have gotten lost.

Posted on March 24, 2007 at 6:18 AM

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Thursday March 8, 2007

Unexpected treasures


A hyacinth isn't just for Christmas.....

Two years ago, George's Mother gave me some hyacinths for my birthday. They had not progressed quickly enough to be actually flowering on the day, but they were lovely when they arrived.

Last year they did not flower, and I put them out on the porch, with a view to making a permanent home for them in one of the beds in the Autumn. Needless to say I forgot them - and this year - I found them giving it another shot, so I thought they deserved to show off in the kitchen.

Here they are emanating the most wonderful perfume, along with such a glorious colour - I would knit with them if I could!

Posted on March 8, 2007 at 7:37 AM

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Thursday February 8, 2007

Dashing through the snow.

Or rather dragging myself out to take pictures to demonstrate the remarkable change from yesterday. No idea if the pond is frozen or not, as all covered in snow (ok... well, you work it out..).

While outside I heard some persistent biffing noises coming from our big redwood tree; I thought: "I know what this is". I had explored the source of the noise once during the summer, and indeed, it proved to be a Nuthatch. Photographic evidence in extended entry.... (you'll have to trust me on this).

I also put out some more bird seed (on a dry patch under a tree and in one of our oven trays, which will no doubt cause alarm when George finds out). I expect the squirrels will enjoy it - they were much in evidence leaping from tree to tree, causing mini-avalanches.


The nuthatch - you will see that the two photos are of the same portion of tree, and the blurry spot has moved on the trunk (I had quite a good view of it - just no chance of a good photo).

nuthatch1.jpg nuthatch2.jpg

Posted on February 8, 2007 at 10:19 AM

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Wednesday February 7, 2007



This subject was called to mind intially by my discovering why the birds always prefer the peanut feeder, over the seed feeder (see left).
I could see from the house that the feeder was somehow discoloured, and even the squirrel seemed to have given up trying to eat from it. I imagined the seeds had gone rotten - but not a bit of it. Due to much rain, poor drainage and the avian penchant for peanuts, the seeds have germinated, effectively blocking the feeding holes.

Add to all this that I am languishing in bed with hot lemon drinks trying to outwit my own personal crop of germs, and the title seems apt; even though it is not strictly the seventh month of the Revolutionary calendar, there is plenty of evidence for it being the time for buds.

We have snowdrops emerging all over our garden, and I snapped some crocus in a sunny spot at the side of the road. snowdrop.jpg crocus.jpg

Cold and clear day: the early morning frost has remained in shaded areas, in spite of the brilliant sunshine, and you can see the surface of the pond is still frozen, even in the afternoon.


Posted on February 7, 2007 at 3:59 PM

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Tuesday January 30, 2007

And I counted them back in.

This last weekend was the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch. I dutifully reported my garden birds (1-2pm Sunday - not the best time of day). I managed two types of "less-common" birds - 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, and 3 Moorhens. The latter scratch around the garden every day - and every day I fear for their safety, and yet they seem to carry on OK. However, there was such a racket in the garden last night (about 1am) that I was forced to go out to try and intercede.
It was not exactly clear what kind of animals were involved, although it was pretty clear that a large part of it was a fox (or foxes) and that said fox was certainly the cause of all the other noise. After I went out there was some pathetic flapping and cheeping, but no more barking. I saw nothing. I assumed the worst.
But - this morning - there they were again - all three, messing about scratching in my lawn. I would dearly love to ask them what on earth all that noise was about. Try and keep it down after midnight, guys.

Posted on January 30, 2007 at 8:49 AM

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Wednesday January 24, 2007

Feet and fingers glowing.

It snowed.
It always seems such a surprise - like you don't really listen to the weather reports. Anyway, it cheered up the ticket office clerk at the station no end. It also had the effect of delaying trains into London, made worse on the way, with minor scuffles breaking out as commuters tried to squeeze onto the already crammed 2 coaches. This made for a disquieting journey before finally meeting up with an American colleague outside Holborn tube station. [We had never met before and he had no mobile (cell) phone - how much we (I) have grown to rely on these...].
Now the business meetings are over, and I have returned home to the snowy wastes (it has all melted, making my 2 pairs of socks seem like overkill) and I am utterly worn out, so time for hot cocoa and an early night.


Posted on January 24, 2007 at 9:04 PM