Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Ambling Through the Week

This last week I've taken a far more relaxed approach to my days. Circumstances are such that now more than ever before, my days are blurring into one another and once again I find myself having to take a step back from a regular routine. I definitely won't be returning to work until September at the earliest, and at the moment I don't yet know in what capacity. I should hopefully find out more later in the week but, as with anything at the moment, any plans will be subject to change.

Time spent in the garden has been sporadic and only when weather permitting. All but one of the sunflowers have survived the winds so far and I don't think it will be long until they begin to flower. The carrots are still a while off being harvested and the strawberries are all finished for the season but I'm happy to see that some of the beetroot will be ready within the next couple of weeks.
I've re-potted the apple trees and coriander, but they are growing so fast I will need to put them in even bigger pots before long. With the weather having been so changeable lately, I've been keeping the pots indoors. We even had some heavy hail just the other day, it's not what we usually experience at this time of year.

Spending more time at home it is very easy for me to become inactive, so in an attempt to incorporate some form of exercise into my day, I tried going out for a run with Lily riding her bike alongside me. I was pleasantly surprised to find it actually worked quite well. We didn't go very far, just along the lanes to the village, but I now know it's an option at least - no more excuses!
On our way home we passed a chicken by the roadside. At this point we were quite a way from any farm it could have wandered from, so we stopped and I picked it up to put it safely into the field. Unfortunately, it didn't make a difference as it kept trying to escape back through the gate. Fortunately for me (and the chicken) a farmer friend was passing by in his pickup and he offered to drive it back to the farm further along the road if I put it in the back. It was such a relief. I didn't like the thought of it being hit by a car, nor did I relish the idea of running the rest of the way home with it tucked under my arm.

At the weekend we went for a wander in the woods. Slightly further afield this time and it felt felt good to be gradually navigating our way into the wider world once more. It would have felt even better had I been able to enjoy a proper coffee at the end of our walk, but a certain someone was keen to return home and with it looking like it could rain at any moment, I reluctantly agreed. Coffee can wait.

In the kitchen I've been successfully sticking to my menu plans and we've been enjoying some old favourites I hadn't made for a while. Chow mein, risotto and quiche have all made a welcome return to the dinner menu, and it's even better when I make enough to last for two mealtimes. A few days ago I set about creating a sourdough starter. I've never made sourdough bread before, so I'm taking it as a challenge. Watch this space.

J. X

Tuesday, 30 June 2020


Better late than never, isn't that what they say. Its been a week of ups and downs again here, yet in the current climate that shouldn't really surprise me. The important thing is that there have definitely been more ups - warm sunny days, walks by the river, fields of wildflowers, and best of all....sea air.

Most days I've been gathering strawberries fresh from the garden and just like last year I have enjoyed a plentiful supply. Not bad for what began as two small plants which I almost threw away. They are very nearly all gone now but they have been delicious while they lasted.

For Lily's birthday she received a butterfly kit, so for the last few weeks we have watched while the tiny caterpillars grew and grew, formed chrysalides and eventually emerged as beautiful butterflies, which we then released into the garden a few days later. It was a great little project and something she would have ordinarily been enjoying at school this term.

Midweek we had initially planned to go to the beach but, unfortunately, fate had other ideas. It was a huge disappointment, as I had been so looking forward to breathing in some fresh sea air and feeling the soft sand beneath my feet. Instead, we settled for spending what turned out to be a rather pleasant afternoon in the garden, cooling off in the paddling pool, our earlier misfortune quickly put behind us.

The following day was forecast to be hot hot hot, so we decided on an early morning walk through the fields before high temperatures would have made it far too uncomfortable. The pond and the stream which runs through the woods were almost completely dry, and a still quiet replaced the more usual noise of running water. At a clearing in the tress the wildflower meadow appeared alive with butterflies and bees, as startled rabbits darted off into the undergrowth flashing their white tails.
While we were out we called in at the farm shop so that I could buy some rhubarb and we also treated ourselves to some delicious chocolate ice cream.

With not having been able to travel very far, we have spent a lot of time down by the river over these last few months. Although, much as I love it there, for me it doesn't come compare to being by the sea and following our setback earlier in the week it was with huge delight that we finally made it to the shore. Sandcastles were built, shells collected and it just felt so good to sit and gaze out to sea as shadows grew longer and the sun sank lower in the evening sky.  I hope we will get to enjoy many more visits there this year.

Disappointingly, by the end of the week our spell of good weather had broken and it was a very damp Mog who announced her displeasure at this (rather loudly) at 4am on Saturday morning. The sunflowers have been on the receiving end of quite a battering from the strong winds and rain, although fortunately, having been propped up again several times, they all seem to be okay. The tomatoes are beginning to flower now and the beetroot and carrots appear to be growing well so I hope this means we will get to enjoy some of our produce in the next few weeks.

With the summer weather seemingly on pause for the time being, we are concentrating on our last few weeks of home learning. There are only three weeks of the school term remaining now and although at the beginning of the year I could never have imagined it would turn out to be anything like this, I think that despite one or two tricky moments we have successfully navigated our way through this unfamiliar territory.

J. X

Monday, 22 June 2020

A Day Out

At the beginning of last week we had planned to visit some nearby gardens and as luck would have it, being that at the time my car was still out of action, the day dawned bright and sunny. In fact, it was so much warmer than I'd anticipated, we set off a little earlier, so that we could take our time.
With lunch tucked away in my rucksack, along with several bottles of water, we set off walking along a narrow track, through the fields and down towards the river. All the while bees and butterflies were crossing our path, enjoying the early morning sunshine, all eager to reach the abundance of wildflowers at the foot of the hedgerows.

We stopped for a while at the side of the river in order to enjoy a mid morning snack of flapjack and a cooling drink. Lily was mainly preoccupied with climbing on the rocks and searching for minnows, the field behind us was filled with oxeye daisies swaying in the gentle breeze.

We continued along the path, crossing the bridge, then along the quiet narrow lanes to our destination. With all the picnic tables packed away for the time being, we found a cool shaded spot beneath the trees to enjoy our lunch. While I was eating, out of the corner of my eye I noticed what I thought was a leaf moving. Watching closer, I saw it was actually a small mouse popping it's head out of a hole, then disappearing again.

The gardens were looking so beautiful in the sunshine and, as you can tell from the photographs, with visitor numbers being limited, it was lovely and quiet there. We followed the path as it weaved around the rockery, admired the kitchen garden (always my favourite) and orchard, and watched as the brilliant blue Damselflies hovered above the ponds.
Lily was beside herself with glee to discover some water sprinklers and it was with a slightly soggier child that I left a little while later.

Our walk home took us back alongside the river once again but on the opposite bank this time, the trees providing some much needed shade from the heat of the sun. Of course, while we were still a little way from home, the unpredictable weather provided us with a sudden heavy downpour of rain. Fortunately, this had been expected so we had some thin waterproof jackets with us. Although, I admit I was a little reluctant to wear mine. The rain, falling in large warm droplets, felt so refreshing against my bare arms and legs and the air was filled with that wonderful petrichor scent that only occurs when it rains after a spell of hot, dry weather.

It was such an enjoyable day out and I hope, now that restrictions are beginning to relax a little, we will be able to go a little further afield another time.