Friday 27 August 2021

Grass cutting

 The patches of grass that we are trying to establish as wild flower meadow have had their annual cut.  Patterns of the former pathways mark the ground and the space looks so different, it feels strange to be able to wander all over the area and not have to follow the narrow routes between tall grasses.













Now I need to scarify the ground  and find the bare earth so that I can sow some wild flower seed and put in plug plants. It seems to be quite a business to get back to being wild!

There are plenty of vegetables to pick each day and I've made my store of jam and chutney but when I see the leaves of the squash plants die away I know that summer is coming to a close. Once the temperature drops the food glut will cease.

I'm not ready to say goodbye to summer just yet.

Thursday 19 August 2021

Crime against a plum tree

 The plum tree in our neighbour's orchard is laden with fruit and he is concerned about the branches breaking. But what has he done?!! He handed over this large bucket of hard, green Victoria plums that he had hacked from the tree. They will never ripen so what does he expect me to do with them? Hasn't he heard of propping up the heavy limbs of a tree with forked hazel sticks, a solution that has been practised for many years and that he must have seen us doing when we have a similar problem with the pear trees? What a waste of what would have become the most delicious fruit. Victorias are my favourite.

I find his action so depressing. He is a man with a lot of land, orchard, garden and fields, but so out of step with nature. His obsession is with control and 'tidiness'. I've told him he's suburban! It is different things for different people.

Yesterday the wind was blowing. I'm growing out most of my heavy fringe and it has reached the irritating stage of being neither one thing nor the other. I've pinned back the random wisps with a hair-clip and look like a member of the lower third. I didn't feel like  gardening, what with the green plums and the wind, so we went to look round the open market in Wells. It takes place every Wednesday and Saturday and there is always a lively atmosphere and good local produce to buy. We parked by the cathedral clock, the second oldest mechanical clock in the country, made in 1390.

There were signs up all over the market asking people to wear masks and to keep their distance. Very few complied. One of our daughters works in the NHS and continues to be concerned about the disease and what the coming winter will bring. We are still wearing our masks!

Then, suitably refreshed, it was back home to our windy garden.

Tuesday 17 August 2021

A little bit of meat

Our diet is mostly vegetarian but every now and then we feel like eating a bit of meat. I marinate  pieces of chicken breast in lemon juice and olive oil with the addition of the zest, chopped coriander, cumin seeds and a teaspoon of tumeric and bake it in the oven for twenty minutes or so. It makes a tasty addition to a plateful of veg. We are picking French beans and courgettes daily now. On the plate is ratatouille and pink fir apple potatoes that have been roasted in salt and olive oil.

I don't know why people moan about courgettes being too prolific  (apart from the giant that has been hiding!) because they are so versatile and can be used for all manner of sweet and savoury recipes. My favourite is ratatouille, it tastes delicious both hot and cold and it freezes well. What's not to like! 

A regular summertime dish is stuffed courgettes. I split them lengthwise and parboil to soften the flesh which is then scouped out and mixed with cooked onion and garlic, breadcrumbs and grated cheese and herbs. This mixture is put back into the courgette halves and baked for half an hour until golden.

Eaten with more beans and ratatouille!

Thursday 12 August 2021

Stone fruit season

 Plums and damsons are ripening and I'm busy cooking and freezing the fruit. This year I'm not bothering to remove the stones before cooking, it is a laborious task and hard on the hands, the acidity of the fruit bites into my thumbs! 

Instead I'm cooking most of the fruit in the oven until the stones separate easily from the flesh. When put through a sieve I have a rough mash that can be used for jam or chutney or sweetened as a dessert.

An upside-down pudding is a good way to use plenty of plums.

Melt an oz of marg with 2oz sugar and spread onto the base of a non-stick pan. Cram in as many slices of plum as you can and then top with a Victoria sandwich cake mixture of 4oz each marg and sugar, creamed. Add two eggs and 4oz flour. Slacken with a little milk if the mixture is thick. Bake for about half an hour. Invert  the pan onto a plate and serve. Good hot or cold (with a dollop of cream!)

The weather continues to be mixed and we are making good use of the little conservatory/greenhouse between downpours.

But the steamer chair is ever ready outside for when the sun shines!
The high rainfall has resulted in a growth spurt in the garden. Whenever I put on my boots to do a bit of cutting back the rain returns. Everything is rampaging away unrestricted.
My gardening magazine subscription often includes free seed packets. I planted their freebie tomato seed and they sprouted into such spindly-looking things that I bunged them out in the garden. Well, spindly or not they are doing rather well! There should be enough summer left for them to colour up and ripen.

Squash are fattening.

Late summer colours are appearing and everything in the garden is lovely!

Wednesday 4 August 2021


 And I forgot to mention mist!

This lovely article was in last Saturday's Times newspaper, a homage to the Yorkshire Dales. It has prompted me to search for a book that will help me to identify the various wild flowers. I used to be far more knowledgeable about them as a child, walking out with my father to collect grasses and flowers to press and label. I have one or two old books, an Observers book of grasses and one of wild flowers, but the images are so poor that clear identification is in doubt.

I'm glad I've just had a visit to the dales, otherwise this article would have made me feel very homesick!

Monday 2 August 2021

Thunder, lightening, rain, sun...

 There  is nothing monotonous about the weather in Blighty. We seem to be getting a bit of everything each day at the moment. When its wet it is VERY wet, quickly followed by a warm, sunny patch. What weather for growth! In the short spells when it isn't raining I'm outside cutting back, hacking away at rampant growth. The storm at the weekend battered some plants down and flattened the grass. The thunder growled again for quite a while today but nothing much came of it. I wander round the garden in the moist, warm air and marvel at the tenacity of nature, how quickly it would revert to wild without my efforts. It rather looks as though it has got the better of me now.


The wood man came today so we are stocked for winter. The logs are well seasoned and will burn well. There is something very satisfying about seeing a wood store piled high!