Saturday 28 March 2020

Lambing Live

How do you feel when you wake in the mornings at the moment? Do you have that sudden realisation of what is happening in the world? I certainly do. It is therefore a welcome distraction to wake to a cheery video from my daughter or a photo on our latest family Whatsap group 'Lambing Live'. Farmer daughter is out already checking the sheep and updating us all on the latest arrivals.

This mum and her double trouble were this morning's treat.

Lambing is different this year. Farmer Daughter is very much on her own for various reasons. Normally her sister and two cousins are on hand. This year the eldest cousin is expecting a baby any day so she is unavailable. The other two girls both work in the NHS. Our other daughter is a physiotherapist in Swansea and cannot come home and their cousin a nurse in Bristol so is also likely to be very busy. The other difference is our normal flow of admiring visitors who also cannot come this year. We will particularly miss my niece and her two little boys who are isolated in Leamington Spa. It is with them in mind that our little 'Lambing Live' group started to keep them involved. It also keeps my mum in touch who is in isolation with my sister.

They can then enjoy gorgeous pictures like this while sat in their sitting room.

They are also able to have quick updates on what's happening such as today's delivery of quads!

Mother and babes are doing well.

Thursday 26 March 2020

A Garden in Early Spring

It now seems an age ago but in reality it was only two and a half weeks ago that we visited this National Trust garden. How life has changed for us all since then.
We had a chilly but dry walk around The Courts Garden at the beginning of March. This garden is situated in the village of Holt near Bradford on Avon in Wiltshire.
This 20th Century garden is quite a mixture. There are formal lawns including topiary such as these yew trees that appear to be almost bowing.

There are water gardens.

There is an arboretum with some early signs of Spring. The paths around this part were passable but quite muddy in places.

Some of the garden was a former mill and the stream and mill races were transformed into canals and ponds.

The sun was shining intermittently on these flowering trees.

We were also caught in several showers of rain.

This Monet type bridge was a great location for a good reflection.

There were an abundance of Spring bulbs and hellebores.

All National Trust properties are now closed until the covid crisis is under control.

Wednesday 25 March 2020

Ninty Five Years

I was woken this morning by a Whatsap message from Farmer Daughter. She was up earlier than me and out checking the ewes. She found triplets had been born overnight. An encouraging start to the day.

It was quite a frosty morning but another bright day with blue skies. This was the view from one of our attic windows. Not a bad view to take in while getting dressed.! I am having to use the top bathroom until the tap is fixed in my usual one. It's definitely worth it for the outlook!

Today is a special day. It's 95 years since the family moved to the farm. Bert and Florence moved here from a local public house initially renting it and then years later managing to buy it. Their last son Bill (farmer husband's dad) was born here soon after they arrived. 

The house must have so many tales to tell. I wonder what the previous occupants would make of the current world situation.

Meanwhile farming life continues and farmer husband does a bit of sitting down farming by checking out the ewes with binoculars while he enjoys a cup of tea in the sunshine.

Sunday 22 March 2020

Escaping to an Parallel Universe

The uncertain days ahead of us occupy our thoughts and conversations frequently currently.. A few moments of escapism are therefore welcoming. Many of you will already know that I am a loyal fan of the BBC Radio 4 programme The Archers. It is particularly relaxing at the moment because having been recorded well in advance there has been no mention of Coronavirus. This is unusual, topical news items are frequently slotted in at a later date. 
My niece who is also a fan requested a trip to Ambridge for her Christmas present so in February we arrived at BBC Birmingham to learn a little about how the programme is produced.

Our tour gave us a great insight into how Ambridge (the fictional village where The Archers is set) ticks. We had the opportunity to read original scripts, still distributed on paper to ensure no leaks. The scripts are generally read but a certain amount of acting is expected along the way to ensure the correct voices. A bed scene would be acted on a bed or a car would be created in the studio. There are different floors, stairs etc to give the correct ambience. Some characters do real kisses others improvise!

A map on the wall of Ambridge and Borsetshire in the production room is used for reference to ensure that scripts are realistic for example a character moving from one place to another has to be a feasible.

Sound effects are a key element to the programme. There are recordings for background sounds of everything imaginable in an extensive digital library. There are different bird songs for each season, tractor and car sounds for each character's vehicle. When they don't have the correct sound they will go out and record it.

Each scene is acted out as a whole with specific sound effects played out by the sounds effects team as they perform. Riding scenes are done with the characters actually sat on a saddle while the reins are shaken and yes horse hooves are indeed coconut shells! When a baby is involved the doll is held to give the correct depth of voice. The eyelids are taped to prevent incorrect sounds. The only actors not in the studio are the children. They come in at a different time and their lines then inserted. On any occasion when a distressing scene is involved the child would record his lines in a different order to prevent them understanding what is happening.

The ironing board is a creaking gate. The tape hay and straw.

This scruffy box is the bar in The Bull. The hinge no longer works so there is no moving from one bar to the other. Dominoes tipped into a glass are the sound of ice. The board on the right contains all the different doorbells for each house.

Then there is of course Jill's aga. There is different quality china for each household. Every detail is thought of. Rob was stabbed in the kitchen using a water melon to give the right sounds.

Outside scenes are recorded in the dead room where there no echoes due to the foam insulation. Those who listen will recall the death of Nigel Pargetter when he fell off the roof of his stately home. Below is the very spot where it happened!!

We were given an opportunity to record a scene. They chose a very early episode from the 50s. I played Grace Archer and have the recording to prove it. Finally there was a quiz to test our knowledge. It was a thoroughly enjoyable trip and I now listen avidly to all the sounds. Lets just hope that the dreaded virus bypasses Ambridge.

Saturday 21 March 2020

The Hope of New Life.

Life on the farm ticks over. Going out to check the ewes with Farmer Daughter this afternoon was a welcome distraction from what is happening in the wider world. The ewes are nearly ready to have their lambs and thankfully the weather promises to be a bit better. Note the splattered mud on the mirror and windscreen giving a good indication of what the fields have been like.

We have had one early arrival a few days ago, the only survivor of early triplets. A bit of special care was needed overnight under the heat lamp but it is thankfully now doing well.

Friday 20 March 2020

A Daily Reminder

Outside my kitchen window and just by the path when I come out of my door is a little pink primula which has been in flower for quite some time.

It is a lovely reminder of my trip to Highgrove House for a champagne tour of the gardens, a 60th birthday present from my sister. We both bought one of these little plants which were reduced because they had finished flowering. A particularly affordable temptation in a rather expensive shop!
I have been delighted that it is flowering so well and it lifts the gloom during this difficult time.

My sister's is also doing well.

Keep smiling!

Thursday 19 March 2020

Sending Best Wishes

What strange surreal times we all going through. All around the world my friends and relatives are probably experiencing the most catastrophic event to ever happen to us all. The upside is that it has prompted me to turn back to my blog to reach out to everyone.
Like everyone else we are now socially confined to barracks but as you can imagine life on a farm carries on. I am so fortunate that I can still wander the fields with Poppy and indeed because we sell eggs we are still seeing a lot of people with significant social distancing.
I thought it would be good to try and cheer people with a daily photo of life back here on the farm. Who better to start with but a picture of Poppy out for a walk. She has looked like this a great deal during this exceedingly wet winter.

Take good care of yourselves.