Tuesday 23 August 2011

Summer Partying

Our little boys are growing up so quickly. And we've had tons of fun celebrating.
The cookbooks were raided for ideas and I gave it my best shot. I'm not the best cook so it was a relief to see it all eaten and some very smiley faces, even if the dragon arrived without his wings.
We did the old fashioned thing;  a few good friends, games in the garden and jelly and ice cream.
Special summer days.
Time to pack up now and set off for the south-west, hence the new header. Holiday time is here.
Back soon with tales from the sea.

Saturday 13 August 2011

Scenes from Show Day

The rain stopped finally and we headed a few short miles to the hills for a lovely afternoon at a local agricultural show. If it was just me I'd have spent all day here from the crack of dawn, taking in the preparations, the atmosphere and the characters around. Why there's never been a documentary series about show days I don't know.
The Manifold Show is a small, traditional event with all the usual classes for cattle, sheep, horses, poultry. What it has less of are the commercial stands (aside from farm equipment and country clothing) that can dominate at the big shows. Right on top of the hills above Dovedale, under a lowering sky, we bought plants, ate ice cream and watched the skills of stockmen, riders & drivers and keepers.
The Handicrafts tent is always a favourite of mine. The place where you find the skills of growers, bakers, makers and children too, with cups to be won for everything from "My favourite salad" to enormous veg, flower arrangements and cakes .

Being new hen keepers we all loved the Poultry Club tent. All sorts of fancy hens, ducks and doves plus giant rabbits, funny ferrets and sweet little guinea pigs.
Around the show ring is where you find the real farming folk with their magnificent beasts. There were some jolly lunch parties going on in the backs of trailers, complete with stoves, picnic chairs and tea urns while the cattle and sheep in their rosettes munched theirs

Years ago I used to ride and read all those horsey novels written in the 50s about gymkhanas. These scenes bring all those books back to me. Woody and the boys don't get it at all but I really enjoy watching a bit of showing and showjumping, even though I was never any good at it!

There's a real tradition of showing Shire Horses around these parts and there were lots here. They're magnificent; I think these chaps probably deserve their ice cream.
A really lovely outing despite the grey sky. Hopeless for pictures but thankfully it wasn't raining and we got to enjoy the highlight of the farming season. Looking forward to next year.
P.S Thank you for all the fabulous comments I've been left recently, especially in light of the riots in England this past week. Its disturbing and embarrassing to know how shocked people across the world have been. Thanks for all your thoughts. But seeing the fantastic community spirit that's emerged across the country is really heartening, so there's hope at least.

Tuesday 9 August 2011

Evening Light

We took the top path around our part of the village tonight on a small family walk. Golden sunlight flooded the fields and  a cool breeze waved through the high grasses as we passed by.
Through dark tunnels of trees the light broke through and bathed us in blazing gold.
Already trees are thick with berries that will ripen very soon. Skeletons of hogweed are shedding their seed too, making stark silhouettes against the bright sky.
It was a beautiful evening to be out and about, enjoying the peace and quiet. If only everyone felt the same. While parts of our cities are ransacked and torched again tonight, I can hardly believe this is my country too.
Strange, unnerving and dangerous times. Held to ransom by bunches of kids for trainers and TVs.
What are things coming to?

Saturday 6 August 2011

High Summer, maybe Late

Where is it going? Two weeks into the holidays already and I've no idea where time is flying to. Thank goodness the weather has been going our way at last. Its even been good to see the rain this morning and now the sun is peeping from behind the clouds and I've been busy in the garden potting up the chrysanths and deadheading.
I love this part of the summer, the bit when you can feel yourself at the top of the downhill run into the season ahead. I'm always thinking about the autumn, even in March if I'm honest! July drives me to distraction with its disappointing weather and all the end of term madness, but when we tip into August things wind down to a slower pace and I can feel my favourite season around the corner.
But before its over there are lovely summery things I want to enjoy over the next few weeks and then I can let September pick me up in all it gorgeous, golden splendour, breathe out and get ready for cosying up.

In the meantime though I want to:

  • Have birthday fun - both our boys are August babies so there are special treats planned for the safari park, cinema, a party at home, water park fun and we'll be eating plenty of cake.
  • Collect our first eggs - our girls are settling in very nicely, hoping we won't have too long to wait for those first eggs.
  • Camp by the river - if the weather holds we've made plans with friends to pack the tent and head into the hills for a couple of nights in a field by a White Peak river.
  • Walk the fields - and find where the blackberries and crab apples are ripening
  • Swim in the cold sea - for the last week of summer we'll be back in our favourite part of the world to eat pasties, cook fish on the beach, play in the waves and sing with The Fishermen.
  • Visit the show- its Agricultural Show time again around these parts. Hoping to make it to The Manifold next weekend to see huge cattle, massive vegetables and eat ice cream by the bucketful.
What are you up to in August? Xxx

Wednesday 3 August 2011

Feathered Friends

Being brought up watching The Good Life changes what you want in life. Three little hens have made me more excited than a designer handbag or posh shoes ever could. I've always wanted chickens. I love their comical expressions and their busy little ways. And now, officially we are a hen family. At last!
My lovely family knew about my dream and surprised me with a very early birthday and Christmas present of a lovely hen house and run which we could never have stretched to. The view down the garden is looking a little different now. And today we did the exciting bit and brought home some feathered friends from the farm up the road. So here are the girls...
Ethel is a Black Rock hen with the darkest of feathers and a beautiful gold fringe around her neck.
Dottie (Dorothea) looks a little fierce in this picture doesn't she, but she's got the makings of a supermodel. She's a Cuckoo Maran cross called a Speckled Star.
And hiding at the back is Flo (Florence), a lovely bright Light Sussex.Our ladies are all hybrid hens which are supposed to be easy to look after for beginners (phew), good layers and should stand up to our harsh moorland winters.

They're all tucked up for the night now and tomorrow we can let them out into their run because for now we're keeping them off the garden. Perhaps in the autumn and winter we'll let them range around the beds but they've got plenty of space in the run, and flowers and chickens I understand don't really mix.
And the flowers are starting to perk up again here. The warm weather has brought on the late summer stars. Hot, strong colours are pushing through the green again.
And we've been sitting back enjoying it all. I keep finding little friends amongst the flowers.
And now we have some feathered friends to join us to. Looking foward to those eggs so much.