Monday 30 November 2015

Me on Monday: one More Birthday

Good Morning on this windy Monday morning. I have just insanely decided to hang my washing out on the line having seen a glimpse of sunshine so if you see an item of clothing passing your window you will know where to return it!
The weekend started early for me with my birthday on Friday. There was some rapid opening of cards and  lovely presents over our birthday croissant breakfast before the school run and getting ready for a trip out. Then it was off to Marshfield a large village on the very southern edge of the Cotswolds. Here I met up with my walk and talk friends for our monthly walk. It didn't take me long to realise that they were up to something on my arrival and I was presented with:-
Party hat with a steamer tassel.
Flower garland for round my neck.
Birthday badge the size of a tea plate.
What a bunch of friends! I started the walk with all three on feeling self conscious even in front of the sheep and horses that we passed. Fortunately I have no photos for you! Gradually I surreptitiously removed each item as the walk progressed before we met any other walkers. The walk was very wet underfoot and so the going was tricky in places. We did however pass through some scenic woodland and lovely countryside.

The advantage of starting from a village is that on the return route the church towering above the houses is always a welcome sight indicating that the walk is nearly completed. This walk was no exception.

When I reached home the girls had afternoon birthday tea all ready to have with all family members on the farm. Two cakes had been made by older daughter and scones prepared by younger daughter and her friends. There was much blowing out of candles and singing. 

Thank you everyone for their kind birthday wishes.
  Saturday was really a catch up day doing all sorts of jobs including bottling the mincemeat I had started on Thursday. See previous post for details. Then Sunday after roast dinner it was off into Bristol with Brian to the Royal Marines Christmas Concert. This is something we go to most years. It is always light hearted seasonal entertainment with a patriotic touch in the second part with lots of of flag waving. The drummers are always particularly good. I am pretty sure I would end up with no nose if I had a go at that. Photograph is courtesy of their website.

Then it was off to a friend's house for tea and yes you guessed ...... More birthday cake for myself and a friend.

So we come back to Monday where I wave to Sian and all the other Monday bloggers. It is a Monday touched with sadness as the news that little Harvey Hext our local little hero passed away yesterday. This cheerful little boy who has suffered with childhood cancer for many was known to all in the village and even the Chew Valley area. The scarecrow trail that I have blogged many times was in support of his cause. The way his lovely family have coped through this time is an example to us all. Please give a little thought and prayer for them today.

Sunday 29 November 2015

Winter Rose

When visiting mum last week I noticed that some of her roses were still persevering to bloom. Some showed the effects of the weather.

Or were just clinging on.

Some were still practically perfect!


A lovely dash of colour on a dull day.

Saturday 28 November 2015

Cherry and Walnut

I have sat in my kitchen at the moment a bowl of Christmas goodies. I had hoped to have enough mincemeat left from last Christmas but had suddenly realised I needed some more. It's takes a week or so to mature so I needed to get on with making it.
 The mincemeat I am making this time is quite a luxurious mix. It is cherry and walnut and a firm favourite in our house. 

The main reason I save it as a special one is that it contains half a pint of brandy!

All the fruit, spices, sugar and brandy are all mixed up and ready to sit.

Tomorrow it will be ready to pop in some jars.

Friday 27 November 2015

One Crazy Dog

It must be a week or so since I have given everyone a "Monty Fix" as Helena would call it. Only Monty would manage to wrap himself in a curtain when lying down. No wonder it gets so dirty!


Then needless to say wherever Monty is you can be sure that his trusty friend is not far away!

Not sure what they have their eye on outside the window.

Thursday 26 November 2015

Going on a Birthday Treat

Father and daughter went off on Tuesday morning to enjoy their joint birthday treat from me. They left at 5.30 in the morning to travel up to Solihull to the Landrover factory. They were booked in to a Celebratory tour of the Defender construction line. The Defender is the "proper"  Landrover unlike the more luxury models that have come since such as the Range Rover and Discovery. It's manufacture is due to come to an end in January so this was one of the last opportunities to see the final few being built in the traditional way by hand.
They had a great day out. I had stayed at the farm to help "hold the fort" and so requested a few photos of the day. They were not able to take any in the factory itself but managed a few in the exhibition showing some vintage models.

They both had a great day with only one complaint. The promised refreshments turned out to be only a coffee without so much as a biscuit! They are now planning their next trip to see the Range Rovers being built in a far more modern way by robots!

Wednesday 25 November 2015

Pairs: A Change of Light

Today to join in with Helena's Pairs I have chosen a series of pictures that I took at sunrise and then paired them up with a similar shot taken later in the day. We have been lucky to have some beautiful sunrises lately and some crisp bright days.

Tuesday 24 November 2015


Yesterday was the first real frosty morning of the winter. It was a need to scrape the car kind of day and I was glad that it was not my turn to do the school run. Instead I sneaked outside in my dressing gown to take some sunrise pictures and while I was there a few frosty ones too. It was very evident in the vegetable garden.

Many gardeners will tell you that certain vegetables taste better for a good frost on them. Is this an Old Gardener's Tale?

Socks was busy watching my activity at this early hour of the day.

Meanwhile Margot was well wrapped against the cold and had some haylage to eat until the frost was gone. It is said that frosted grass is not good for horses.

Monday 23 November 2015

Me on Monday: A Mixture of Happenings

Another weekend has passed by and I am waving to Sian at From High in the Sky and all the other Monday bloggers on this crisp bright Monday morning. I can't say that the weekend has been exactly quiet and uneventful. Friday evening found me returning from a visit to see my parents to find I had made a bit of a mistake. I had made a quantity of Leek and Potato soup for a charity event on Saturday. It was only when I came to blend it that I realised I had added double the amount of liquid needed........ So early Saturday morning was spent cooking more vegetables to add to it. Result a LARGE amount of soup!
Saturday morning was also a time for stories to be told. It seems that while we slumbered the other half of the farm (my brother in law and family) were busy pursuing intruders. They had returned late to find a suspect car in the road and then spotted the intruders hiding in the drive. The suspect car was hemmed in, the police called and fortunately nothing has gone missing. Their technique for hiding reminds me a bit of children hiding by sticking their head under a blanket.

It was all go on Saturday. I went off with my soup to the Winter Warmer lunch at the church to serve soup and puddings and to do endless washing up. The girls meanwhile went off to market to see older daughter's cattle being sold. They were sold as store cattle which means that someone will buy them to do the final fattening up to make them finished cattle. She was very happy with their sale and is looking forward to the cheque! Here they are being sold taken by younger daughter. Older daughter can be seen stood by the auctioneer on the right while he takes the bids.

Saturday evening was a time for us old ones to take it easy while the girls were out socialising. It was not surprising that I awoke on Sunday with a banging headache so I treated myself to a bit of a lie in till 8am! There was a frost overnight and the day was bright so it was outside to shift my headache and take a few snippets in the sunshine. Leaves clinging on but only just.

Beech hedge

And cherry tree.

Then back to the kitchen to prepare and eat roast pork with sage and caramelised onion yorkshire pud    before getting out in the garden to work it all off! I managed an hour or so of gardening while younger daughter rode her pony. Her new riding socks which have recently arrived in the post from her cousin Lauren certainly helped to keep her toes warm as the day chilled off.


Meanwhile older daughter sorted lambs with the boys ready for another trip to market today. That should be another cheque coming all being well! It makes all the hard work worthwhile and this one will be to share between our two girls and their cousins who all own the sheep.
So the week is starting bright with another wonderful sunrise. I nipped out in my dressing gown to take this one.

Wishing you all a good week.There is a birthday treat ahead for two in the family tomorrow and yet another birthday coming up too. Guess who it is this time!

Sunday 22 November 2015


The pyracantha is covered in berries this year.


They give a vivid orange colour. Unfortunately most of them are on the field side of the wall rather than the garden. The cotoneaster along with the winter jasmine is also giving a good show.

Saturday 21 November 2015

Memories from a Photo

I am joining in an idea created by Louise H at Life in the Scrap Lane. She took an old family photo and drew old memories from it.
I have chosen a photo taken at the bottom of our garden with my mum and brother. That's me in the front and my brother peeping round mum's head. I wonder if my sister took the photo with the little Brownie camera I had.

We moved to this house when I was five and the bottom part of the garden remained fairly untamed for some time. We had an Elder tree in this wild area long before anyone thought of making their own elderflower cordial but my uncle did come and pick them for Elderberry wine. We children were far more interested in the small "den" we made under the roots of the tree. 
This area was our jungle where we played for hours. No computers and iPhones for us! There were old creepers hanging from the trees which we would swing on and play Tarzan! I was the middle one so had the privileged position (not that I thought it at the time) of having an older sister and younger brother 2 years and 4 months apart from me. What amazing family planning that was mum! I therefore had two great playmates. 
My sister and I spent HOURS excavating the garden when we first moved there. The house was new and the garden in the process of being developed. We had an amazing stash of pieces of china and clay pipes. We were going to make our fortune. We would piece these valuable items back together and sell them! Imagine our horror when mum threw the whole lot out!
We made the most exotic perfume from rose petals collected around the garden. Only ones that had tumbled off, never shaken from the bushes or pulled off of course (don't tell mum!). We stored our fragrance in bottles in the shed. Alas within weeks it sadly turned to the aroma of rotten cabbages. Bang went another opportunity to make our fortune!
My brother and I often made camp fires. I think we were a little older by then. We collected piles of stinging nettles to make a gourmet dish to eat. We boiled them up but we're not over impressed by our smokey spinach.
Focusing back on the photo I smile to see mum's anorak.

She and dad had virtually matching anoraks that they both wore for years and years. Both navy and padded. If you look closely you can see mum is holding her glasses in her hand. Mum wore glasses for as long as I can remember but off they came when the camera came out!
My brother Andrew is waving something which I can't identify. I would guess it was a toy. A car or something similar. He always had some kind of toy next to him on the dinner table or not far away. He hasn't changed today except that nowadays it's the latest gadget!
Happy carefree days in a wonderful safe environment. How lucky we were to have what many children today just don't experience.

Friday 20 November 2015

The Test

Something that all cattle farmers are anxious about is the TB Test. This is carried out annually in most high risk areas then in addition to this there may be extra tests if it is judged that any animals have been in close contact with any outbreaks. It is also necessary for cattle to be tested before they move off the holding. It is time for older daughter to sell some of her cattle so this week these cattle had a test.

The test is done one day and then the results read 3 days later. Fortunately all the cattle were negative. It can be a serious matter for farmers if they are unable to sell their stock due to a positive reading.

She can now sell the cattle at market.

Thursday 19 November 2015

A Bit of Colour for the Tables

Some time ago I had rather rashly offered to help with a monthly lunch for the elderly held in a local church hall "if they are ever stuck". Back in May I was asked to help out as the organiser has a serious illness. Within a month I was 'in charge'. Each month between us we cook a two course meal for approximately 30 people. 
Yesterday I raided the garden for a little bit of cheerfulness to put on the tables. I am no flower arranger...

It's surprising what I could find even if it was a little weather beaten.

Hopefully we helped to brighten up their day. The ham and parsley sauce went down well with some good old roast potatoes from the farm. Nobody could resist the Bread and Butter Pudding either.