Saturday, 4 July 2020

Busy, busy.

It's a busy month. This year's weather, a lot of rain, a good spell of sun and now a return to rain, has been good for my fruit bushes and the crops are heavy. I am outside picking when its dry and inside jamming, juicing and cooking when its not. I've made raspberry jam and a red berry jam mix of strawberries, raspberries and redcurrant. I always think of my mother when I'm picking raspberries. We had a large, unruly patch at home in which she would be lost from sight. If she wasn't in the house when I got home from school I knew that she would be somewhere hidden among the raspberry canes filling yet another bowl with fruit. I'm still using her old copper jam pan. 
The figs are ripening more slowly and not enough at a time to make jam, as last year.
I've used some to decorate this frangipane tart.
Make a sweet pastry case for a 20cm tart tin and chill while making the filling.
Ingredients for the filling
2 eggs
2 tbsp brandy
zest and juice of an orange
50gm unsalted butter, softened
3 tbsp honey
50 ground almonds
2 tbsp flour

Beat together  the butter and honey, add the beaten eggs and brandy. Mix in the almonds, orange juice and grated zest and flour and pour the mixture into the pastry case.
Cook at gas 4 for about 40 minutes. Glaze with honey or jam while still warm.

Thursday, 25 June 2020


Well, after the downpours, the blistering heat! This weather is quite exceptional and we are searching out the shady areas of the garden, quite a change from the usual pattern of longing for sun.

Because of the recent soaking everything is growing well, the peas heading skywards and just coming into flower.
They are an attractive colour, although I'm more interested in the crop and hope it will be prolific.
The Queen of Denmark
and Rosa Mundi.
and an un-named but prolific rambler.
Summer months are a joy.

Friday, 19 June 2020


It seems to have done nothing but rain, hard, since my last post. The ground is sodden, all the water butts are overflowing. There is soft fruit to pick, but it is going to have to wait.
Branches and flower heads are bent with the weight of water.

It's good to be in the kitchen on days like these. I've managed to buy some flour so I'm able to bake. This fruit cake recipe is so easy, just a mixture of whatever fruits you happen to have in your store cupboard soaked in sugar and tea.
4oz each of raisins, sultanas, apricots, glacé cherries or whatever (16 oz in total) soaked in half a pint of tea together with
6 oz dark muscovado sugar. Leave for the tea to absorb into the fruit and sugar.
10 oz self-raising flour mixed into the fruit together with
1 beaten egg. I add a slurp of brandy to soften the mixture.
Put the mixture into a 1kg loaf tin and bake at gas 4 for approx an hour and a half.

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Thunder and lightening

We've had a couple of days listening to the distant roll of thunder and watching occasional flashes of lightening to see if the storm is moving closer. We take refuge in the greenhouse when the sky darkens and drops of rain start to fall. It's crowded in the greenhouse with tomatoes, figs and assorted flowering plants, there is just enough room to cram in an old pub table and a couple of chairs.

The oleanders have grown from tiny cuttings, I have four different colours. It is a lovely plant and very easy to grow, but every bit of it is poisonous so I should really consider throwing them away.

The air feels oppressive, the low light level rather threatening.
The edge of the pond has still to recover from Sparky's enthusiastic investigations!

The soil in my garden is very light and sandy and does not retain moisture, there is little sign of the downpour we had just a few days ago, apart, that is, from a great growth spurt from the weeds! The potato patch would certainly appreciate some more rain.

Monday, 15 June 2020


Sometimes you know its going to be a glorious day.
There were just a few seconds between taking the first and then the second photo. This is why I blog my garden. Endlessly. It is so transient. Yesterday this poppy had all its petals and it didn't look anything special, the sun hadn't sought it out. But today the remaining petals were lit up against the dark foliage. Tomorrow it will be gone.

Sunday, 14 June 2020


We've been in need of rain for quite a few weeks. Well, now we've got it! It  comes in sharp, drenching bursts, spilling over the guttering and hammering against the windows. The garden is loving it!
Between the rainstorms I wander out to see how things are. There are good things to pick for the table now, various green veg and soft fruit, strawberries and raspberries. 
I was salivating at the thought of eating our own artichoke hearts, but by the time I had steamed the heads and removed the choke there was hardly any heart to be found. What a disappointment! I'm just going to leave the other heads to flower.
The wind has battered a few delphiniums down, but by-and-large my staking is working well.

The delphiniums are dotted all about the garden. In the past I bought plants from garden centres but thought that I couldn't grow them, they were always being eaten by slugs. These ones are grown from seed. I wait 'til they have a good root system before planting them out. I sprinkle grit round the base of each plant and that seems to do the trick. The colours surprise me, because all the seed came from one dark blue plant.

One or two broken stems brought into the house to enjoy.

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Local history

Edward Colston is cooling his toes.
The source of his wealth something everyone knows.
They told us, 'But look, he gave so much away!'
On his plinth he stood proud, looking down to survey
the people of Bristol, black, grey and white,
deaf to our protests,
forgetting the plight of thousands of people,
bound, shipped, out of sight.

But the people of Bristol, black, white and grey,
gathered together with something to say
and they roped up the roper and rolled him away.
Hauled to the harbour where his money was made.
No statue here for despicable trade!
At the waterside they tipped him in
and I'm telling you now that bronze statues can't swim!
The stain on this city is washing away.
Perhaps down in the water is where he should stay.