Monday 31 August 2020

The Barley is Nearly In

 Farmer Daughter and Younger Daughter have gone off to Cornwall camping with a friend. They are having a good time but what happens as soon as they have gone? The weather improves. 

Today the combine harvester arrived to get the Spring barley cut. There is about 25 acres and he has been going all day.

The weather has stayed good and the barley is reasonably
dry. While the combine has been working brother in law has been in another field baling the wheat straw that has been in the field since the combine was here a few weeks ago. You may recall that the wheat was harvested just before the thunder storms.

The grain is emptied periodically into a trailer which Farmer Husband  has been hauling back up to the farm and unloading.

Then off he goes again. He has finished for tonight but will be back tomorrow to continue on the last bit weather permitting. 

I spotted this sign on the back of our trailer that made me smile. 

Saturday 29 August 2020

Hestercombe and the Swan Story

 I posted some photos of our trip to Hestercombe at the beginning of the month. It has taken me a while to get round to showing some more. Hestercombe is an estate just north of Taunton in Somerset. It has the benefit of being up on the hill overlooking the surrounding countryside. The house dates back to 1280 however much of what is visible today of the house and gardens stretches through the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian periods.

I shall start by taking you on a walk around the Georgian Landscape Garden. This pond is known as the Pear Pond simply because of it’s shape. You look down on this as you start out but I will show you a little more of it later.

The landscape garden was originally created in the 1750s by Coplestone Warre Bampfylde. It has been restored and opened to the public in the 1990s. The path takes you past a series of temples, lakes and waterfalls. This is one is know as the Chinese Seat.

There are a series of cascades that feed the small lakes. Unfortunately my photo of the Great Cascade is rather shadowed. It was a sizzling hot day at It is an ideal spot for children to play and cool off.

The top pool is called the Box Pond. This Chinese Bridge and small cascade are at the bottom of this. You can see from the pictures that there are only a limited number of people around. The bridge was one place where we had to wait our turn to cross. We had the distinct impression that a lot of the people we met possibly had not been many places since lockdown. They were understandably very nervous and tended to view everyone as if they were highly infectious even at a distance.  

A great deal of restoration has been carried out on many of the temples and follies to try and return them to their further glory. One of the more recent projects has been Sibyl’s temple which has been totally rebuilt.

Note the wasps nest!

Some of the paths are not currently open because of trying to maintain a one way system. The charcoal burners are not accessible however the main path gradually winds up to the highest point where there is a sudden turn which  brings you to the Gothic Alcove boasting  an open view out across the open fields towards Taunton Vale and the Blackmoor Hills.

Like many of the follies you get a better view of the Gothic Alcove as you walk on and look back. The whole idea of the garden design is to offer a series of carefully composed views, designed to look like a landscape painting and inspired by classical views of Italy.

The Temple Arbour is set just off the path as you descend along the main path. It is becoming a little hidden amongst the undergrowth. There was only one gardener working during lockdown in the formal gardens but it is not clear what maintenance was possible in the landscaped garden.

The Witch House is a curious addition to the garden with macabre shapes and statues created from twisted branches.

Like many landscaped gardens features reappear as you wander round. The Chinese Seat is visible again as you drop down to the other side of the Pear Pond.

It is then down to the Mill Pond .

Views of the side of the house are now visible.

There is also a feeling of being back where you start as you glimpse the Octagon Summerhouse which was the first folly that you past when you start out.

Finally I am returning to a photo I posted a week or so ago of the pair of swans with a bit of a sad story. Since our visit the male swan has had to be treated by a vet for leg injuries and was sadly put to sleep. Swans normally mate for life and the female flew off in search of him. She was fortunately found and has been taken to her original home in the hope of finding her a new mate. She may then be able to return to Hestercombe.

A sad note to finish on so here is a taster of the formal Edwardian garden. These fantastic daisy steps connect the formal gardens to the older Victorian shrubbery and then the landscaped gardens.


Thursday 27 August 2020

Tomato Relish : The Recipe

 I don’t have to go far at the moment to find some tomatoes. The greenhouse is only a stone’s throw from our back door.

There are definitely enough tomatoes.

Like most fruit and vegetables they taste so much better straight off the vine and there is nothing quite like that scent.

There are of course many different recipes that include tomatoes.

Today I shall concentrate on just one.

I have posted about Tomato Relish before which you can find here but haven’t actually posted the recipe. This is a great family favourite. I always have some in the cupboard and my sister in law makes gallons of it. It is in fact a recipe she gave me many years ago.

Tomato Relish 

3 and a half pounds ripe tomatoes skinned.
2 pounds onions chopped finely.
3 and a half ounces demerara sugar.
2 and a half pounds sugar.
1 ounce ginger.
Quarter ounce chilli powder.
1 pint malt vinegar.

1. Chop tomatoes and place all ingredients except vinegar in a pan. Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Cook gently over a low heat for an hour to a thick consistency stirring occasionally.
2. Add vinegar, cook for another 10 minutes (the book says) but we keep cooking for at least 40 minutes until thickish.
3.Pour into sterilised jars and cover with vinegar proof lids.

Good luck!

Tuesday 25 August 2020

A Full Cupboard and Freezer

 It’s that time of year when then there is abundance of produce and this year we seem to have some good crops. My preserve cupboard is already full.

The greenhouse is full of tomatoes. I have already made one batch of the family’s favourite Tomato Relish. The big decision is whether I should make some more.
You will see also a good supply of honey. Our niece now has two hives on the farm but because she has had a baby this year she has asked someone to manage her hives for her. He technically gets all the honey but he was kind enough to give us a good sized tub which I have decanted into jars. A useful gift for friends as well as a supply for us. This picture was taken last year when younger daughter gave her a hand removing some spent comb.

I have been late making strawberry jam this year. I spotted some cheap fruit in the greengrocers this week so I had a bit of unexpected jam making to do today. This has made for a busy day with a trip to the opticians this morning and a visit from my hairdresser this afternoon. Both of which were completely different experiences than normal, particularly my hairdresser who has given up his salon after 50 years due to the pandemic. He is has now become mobile and has been good enough to drive the 18miles from Bath to sort out my hair.
Anyway back to produce. The blackberries are ready early this year and I have managed to pick a few between showers.

They are now in the freezer ready for some crumbles and pies. Does anyone soak their blackberries to remove bugs? I have only heard of doing this recently. I’m afraid I take the line that any bugs have only fed on blackberries and pop them straight in the freezer!

So what else have I been harvesting? These are cooking pears off my mum’s 60 plus year old tree. I shall poach and probably freeze them. Chocolate pear crumble is a particular family favourite.

No pictures but I have been given two batches of plums which I oven roast and freeze. The next job will be apples. I have a lot of Katy apples to make apple jelly with and Bramley apples still maturing on the tree. I’m hoping Storm Francis won’t have created to many fallers.
The biggest issue this year has been wasps. Lots of them everywhere there is fruit. We are being vigilant picking up fallers before they are smothered in the ghastly insects. Brother in law got a nasty sting picking plums and I know that I don’t react well to their stings. I always keep a can of Wasp Eze in the medicine cupboard but am dismayed to find it’s been discontinued. So stay away wasps!

Saturday 22 August 2020

Adapting to Change

 Like everyone else we are trying to adapt to carrying on life in the present pandemic. We are as I have said before taking baby steps back to some normal activities. One of these is my walking group Walk and Talk. Quite a few of my friends are vulnerable so we have to tread  carefully. Quite a few also live alone so social interaction is even more important to them. We have tentatively started walking again. Last month 4 of us had a socially distanced walk from the farm on a baking hot day.

This was followed by lunch in the garden everyone having brought their own picnic. One of our clan has recently retired so there was a compulsory glass of Prosecco and a cake to celebrate. Note that the bottle of hand sanitizer also features!

This month we ventured out from another friend’s house. There were a few more of us so we walked in two groups. Long walk and shorter walk. I plumped for the shorter one which took us around a local nature reserve in an old sand works.

We were lucky enough to see a heron and several red kites. No photos I’m afraid of either I didn’t have my close up lens with me. The red kites were soaring around on the thermals and were a lovely sight to see. 

We did appear to have our own red kite amongst us when it momentarily started to rain.

We passed another sign of the times,  an outdoor event venue being put together in a local field with views stretching out across the countryside.

Then it was back to my friend’s garden which is fortunately very big for a socially distanced picnic. 

The weather was not as kind as it could have been and umbrellas were needed. Some more successfully than others.

There were two other changes or ‘new for us’  yesterday. I had a letter by email from the minister from our church giving the date of the first Sunday service in this new COViD world. The instructions as you might expect were quite specific including details on entering, mask wearing, communion, seating and exiting. All helpful and reassuring information. There were two bits however that made me titter. The instructions started thus:-

Before leaving home please use the toilet/wash your hands thoroughly as the last thing/s to do before departure.

Well it’s some years since I have been instructed to have a safety wee especially by a member of the church! Further on it continued thus:-

We really want to see you again but please come with minimal baggage and other than tissues, reading glasses etc. bring your own face mask (essential) and gloves (if you have the personal need) and bottled drinking waterif you think you will have a need.

So I can’t take my large suitcase handbag in case I get bored during the sermon and want to start rummaging? Shame! You can see that I am truly wicked and will never at this rate earn my place in heaven.
Then in the evening after great deliberation Farmer Husband and I decided to have a take away from a local pub. We haven’t been this brave before but we want these businesses to keep going so we thought we would give it a try. I had rung through my order and turned up at the prescribed time. I hadn’t been given any collection instructions and hadn’t thought to ask. One door clearly said enter and another exit. So in I went, sanitized my hands to find I would stood in a relatively busy bar with lots of locals stood around drinking in the normal fashion (well old normal). Inevitably I knew quite a few of them so found myself chatting to them before asking where I went to collect a take away. They obligingly shuffled out the way for me to follow the well marked floor to the top bar. Here I found someone being served drinks at the bar ( I thought they had to be served at their tables??)
Eventually I got my take away and exited by the correct door in a bit of a sweat. The food was delicious eaten in the safety of our own house with a glass or two of wine. I will however be rethinking my strategy before I order another and I shall be thinking twice about visiting any pubs for a meal!

Thursday 20 August 2020

A Car Trip with a Difference

 I came across these photos when going through some family photos. They are taken at Southampton in approximately 1963. My auntie and uncle had an extended stay in Canada. These photos show the return of  their VW Beetle car and their belongings in a wooden crate. I don’t remember this day but I do remember their car with all the travel stickers on it! They brought me back a little Native American baby doll in a papoose which I actually found the other day.

They meanwhile flew back.

We had travelled down to see the goods unloaded perhaps because they were still away. That’s me on the right with my mum on the left and my brother in the middle. We are stood in front of our car a Humber Hawk.

This last photo taken probably a little later shows my dad with me in the middle and my older sister. It is taken outside my Grandma’s house. We frequently visited on a Sunday after we had been to church. My dad nearly always wore a suit so it’s tricky to tell. I don’t exactly look dressed for Sunday school. Dad always wore a silk coloured hanky in his top pocket. I used to love to pull it out to ‘annoy’ him!
The shiny bumper is the same Humber Hawk.

Wednesday 19 August 2020

Visiting Rosemoor 4 Roses and More

 Our next visit was to the Rose Gardens. There are two of these. The Shrub Rose Garden is a wonderful mixture of roses and other summer shrubs. It is mainly the more traditional and old fashioned roses. It’s the kind of garden where you could just sit in all day.

Here are a few of my favourites.

Can’t you just smell them from here?

The Queen Mother’s Rose Garden reflects more modern varieties of roses.

After sharing a cream tea at the outdoor cafe (well we thought we better support them, sounds like a good enough excuse) we moved on to the Cool Garden. This is is the most recent addition to Rosemoor and is certainly architecturally impressive.

There is a series of channels of shallow water which are accurately constructed to give exactly the right flow of water.

Alongside this are plantings of mainly whites and blues but as you can see some yellows.

The garden replaces a previous garden called The Winter Garden and some of the shrubs have been preserved from this.

A complete contrast is found in the adjacent garden. The Hot Garden is full of rich reds, oranges and yellows. All very pleasing to the eye.

The colours are reflected in the leaves as well as the flowers.

This fiery display of helenium were particularly impressive. It prompted to me to buy a helenium in the plant centre although I can’t imagine mine looking this good!

I hope you have enjoyed my trip around Rosemoor. We certainly had a lovely day. Next on my list of RHS gardens is Wisley but whether we will get there this year, I don’t know.