Saturday, 31 May 2014

The villages of the Dales.

Yesterday, friend W and I went over to Kirby Lonsdale to meet our friend P for lunch.   Regular readers of my blog will know that this is a journey we make often and that it is usually to meet two friends.   The reason there is only one friend this time is that the other one, D, has just begun a walk from Land's End to John O'Groats!  He is walking with another friend, S, and so far they have covered Cornwall and Devon and are now well up into Somerset.   I feel that once Somerset is passed there will be a boost as they will at last actually be going North.   But it is a very long way and is destined to take them 11 weeks (averaging 15 miles a day and one day off each week).  We wish them the best of luck.  D is a great supporter of Oxfam, doing a lot of voluntary work for the organisation - and he is being sponsored for that.

So - to that lunch.   As usual we met at Avanti, which is a good Italian bistro in the town, where the food is delicious.   We always book a table (thank you P) because it is so popular.   I photographed the table for you to see - W and P both had chicken dishes, I had spinach and ricotta ravioli and a side dish of tiny Spanish  chorizo which had been roasted (delicious).

On the way to KL we had to drive through a lot of Dales villages with their village greens, their local-stone houses, their pretty gardens - images of the beautiful area.

When I first moved up here with my previous husband twenty seven years ago many of these villages had local populations, there were very few 'off-cumd uns'.  I remember well that there was really only one restaurant which opened in the evening for food - local folk were not really into the habit of 'eating out'.

A friend, long since passed away, moved into one of these villages but after a year sold up and moved elsewhere because in the village where she lived all the people were local.   In fact there were only four or five families and they were all inter related, so that she felt there was little or no chance of ever breaking into village life.

How different then from how it is now.   There are of course drawbacks to this influx of people from afar.   In the first place, many of the cottages have been bought as holiday homes and are only inhabited in the Summer, being closed up for much of the Winter.   In the second place, house prices have risen so much as the properties are bought, modernised, prettified and then put on the market again, that local folk are often priced out of the market - particularly young local folk.   This means that in many villages there is a large percentage of retired and elderly, and young folk have to move away as everything is too expensive to fit in with local wages.

But, interestingly, the village from which my friend moved all those years ago, is the village where friend W and I went to hear a Poet read from his work last week.   It seems to me that there is now a tremendous community spirit in the village because, first of all they held Computer classes in the Village Hall, open to all.   Now they have a computer in the Village Hall, which anyone can use, and anyone in the village can order their shopping from the same supermarket - all to be delivered on the same day (thus saving on the delivery charge) - anyone without computer skills can find someone to put their grocery order on line for them.

So it would seem to me that there is good and there is bad in this take over of the Dales village.    Have any of you out there anything to add to the debate on the fors and againsts?

Our journey meant seeing many more horse-drawn caravans on their way to the Horse Fair and many 'parked up' for the night on our return, when the occupants of the caravans had gathered together in lay-bys, lit a fire and were cooking their evening meals.   It all looked so 'romantic' - I just hope they left everywhere tidy when they moved on.   It prompted my friend to quote the verse that we learned as children:

I wish I lived in a caravan
with a horse to drive, like a pedlar-man.
Where he comes from nobody knows
Nor where he goes to - but on he goes.

Enjoy your week-end.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

It's that time of year again.

Two things will make a difference to the amount of traffic which passes through the Dales during the next week.   The first is that it is almost time for the TT Races on the Isle of Man.   I hear from Denise (Mrs Nesbitt's Space) that they will be passing the end of our Lane shortly on their way to catch the ferry over to the Island.  Many motor cyclists from the mainland go over for the racing, catching the ferry at Heysham and crossing the Irish Sea.  Many of these motor cyclists make their way through Wensleydale - quickly.

The other event which starts a week on Saturday is the annual Appleby Horse Fair - an event which has been going for many years and is an opportunity for the travelling folk to meet up.   Over this week 'gypsy' caravans have begun to appear on various village greens as their occupants camp for the night, feed and water their horses and then continue along the route the next day to Appleby in what used to be Westmorland.   There they all set up camp and trade horses.   I have always wanted to go as I understand that it is very colourful occasion but I can't persuade the farmer to come with me.

This morning we had occasion to go to Hawes and we saw half a dozen such caravans.   Each time the farmer slowed down to help me to get a good shot.   I give you them below.   Please bear in mind that they were all taken through the window of the car as we were going along.  But I hope the shots will give you a flavour of what it is like here at present.  One of the outfits was particularly smart and the horses were splendidly turned out - perhaps you can see which one.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Back to winter.

Here we seem to get one day of warm, sunny weather and then we revert to chilly, cloudy or rainy weather.  Monday was a lovely day for potting up plants and general tidying the garden.   Now I would not turn a dog out.

Yesterday my god-daughter and her husband came for the day so there was no time for blogging.   We don't see them very often so it was lovely to catch up on all their news.  Then, in the evening, my grandchildren called - so bedtime arrived without the computer being switched on.

Today, friend W and I have been to hear the Scottish poet, Don Paterson, read his work.   The event was part of our local Swaledale Festival and was really well-attended.   There were about sixty people there which is a good turn out for poetry I think.   In the question time afterwards he said that he felt Poetry was as strong as it ever was, and I agree with him.

If you don't know his work do look it up on the internet - it is such powerful stuff and to hear him read it and to see him standing there and using his hands to help indicate his meaning was a real treat.

On the way home we called into a pub for Butternut Squash and Wild Mushroom risotto - delicious.  (try it - I certainly will have a go at making it shortly.)

Monday, 26 May 2014

To everything a season.

At last things are settling down into our 'Summer' way of life here on the farm.   Today sheep and this year's lambs have arrived for the Summer and are in the big pasture.   Each mum has two babies (any more and it is difficult for sheep as they have only two tits each).   What always makes me smile is that mum lets the lambs wander wherever they like and then, when she wants them, she just calls - once.   Immediately her two come to her.   All sheep sound alike to me, but a lamb recognises its mum's call and I have never seen a lamb disobey that call to come.

Also heifers have come for the barn pasture - eleven of them, some British Blue Cross and some Limousin Cross.   They are a frisky lot at the moment.

 I have been gardening today and have had little time, but once things settle down I will post photographs of both the sheep and lambs and of the heifers.

On the Lane things are really beautiful.   Cow parsley is a froth of white blossom and the hawthorn hedge is covered in May blossom, so there is a lovely almondy smell as you walk down.   But look carefully in the grass and you will find so many treasures.   There are patches of deep pink campion, swathes of ladies' bedstraw and one large patch of Germander Speedwell (Bird's eye) which is the deepest, most beautiful blue.   The buttercups are going back now but there is plenty to take their place.

Silaging is still to come for us and I must say that I am rather pleased about that because as I walked the Lane after lunch each silage meadow had curlew giving alarm calls and hovering over the long grass as I passed - a sign that there are nests on the ground.

The farmer and I bedded out all our tubs and pots this afternoon, so now we can tick that job off the list.   The trouble with gardening is that it is never done.   You can't spend an afternoon working in the garden and then come in thinking 'well that's the garden done' because it isn't.   By morning weeds will have sprung up in places where you didn't see them yesterday, green fly, black spot and the like will have found something to suit their taste - and leave these things for a week and they will have taken over.

There is something to be said for a concrete back yard.

Saturday, 24 May 2014


It would seem that the paragraph in my last blogpost about exclamation marks and dashes being a personal thing, has really set off a rash.   If you look at the comments in reply to the post you will see that it has spread through blogland like wildfire.   John (By Stargoose and Hanglands) has had a truly bad attack and many others are quite badly infected.   It just goes to show how quickly things spread through the blogosphere.

The farmer's operation went well.   He says he never felt a thing.   In fact the only irritation when he arrived home (the hospital is almost an hour's drive away) was how long the journey had taken them because of all the roadworks with traffic lights.   This morning he has taken the dressing off and it is drying up nicely but looks as though it will leave a nasty scar - although this will be largely hidden by his spectacles.   Not being at all vain I don't think he will mind anyway.   He goes next Friday to have the large number of stitches (which look like staples) removed.

Out with friend W to Farmers' Market this morning, followed by a visit to an Art Exhibition and an Embroidery Exhibition, together with our usual cup of coffee.  I shall have to take an umbrella.

Friday, 23 May 2014

Typical Bank Holiday Weather.

Today, as yesterday, is typical Bank Holiday weather.   It is cold, very wet (and inch of rain yesterday), a strong North Easterly wind blowing - nothing to commend it really.

The farmer went off in happy mood for his operation, says he never felt a thing and has come home with a VERY black eye.   As he has a perforated ear drum on the same side of his face he is now telling everyone that I have attacked him.

After our meeting for Friday coffee and an early lunch for the farmer before he went off to hospital, I went along to sit and chat to friend M for the afternoon.   Isn't that what friends are for - nice long afternoon chats when the weather is pretty awful.   Where would we be without such soul mates?

Friend M talked about the overuse these days of exclamation marks - so I am trying hard to do the whole of this post without using one, as I feel this is one of my failings.  (sorry M for bringing it up, but I am finding it hard to think of anything to write about tonight).  Actually, on the subject of punctuation, I do feel it is largely down to personal preference these days.   We have discussions on this at our Writers' Group - whether to use a colon or a full stop, how often to end one sentence and begin another.   I know that the exclamation mark and the dash are overused in my writing, but thinking about it I think I metaphorically overuse both in my speech too. (there would have been an exclamation mark there had I not made a vow not to use one tonight.)

I had intended to change my header photograph today for one showing a whole hedge of May blossom (hawthorn), but sadly the day is too wet and dull to get a good photograph and I rather think the wind is so strong that a lot of the blossom will have been blown off by the time the sun returns.  The farmer feels that this may lead to poor berries in the Autumn because although there is a profusion of blossom the bees are not about today because it is so cold and wet.

Anyone who listened to the News this evening will, I am sure, be totally and completely sick of hearing about the election results and seeing those giant maps of the British Isles projected onto the floor of the studio so that some announcer can prance about jumping from one colour (red for Labour) to another (blue for Conservative)
in what to me at any rate is a totally meaningless manner.   I am off to make myself of soothing cup of really good coffee.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Silaging and other topics.

First of all apologies to John (By Stargoose and Hanglands) for highlighting his site in red at the top of my blog list - I don't know what I have done wrong but shall wait until my son appears and he will correct it for me.

Now to silaging.   Some of our local farmers have already got in their first cut silage.   Once we get up on the top road and look down across the fields it is easy to see where the fields have been cut and the grass gathered in as the fields are a pale yellow.   Luckily they all seem to have got it in yesterday as today it has poured with rain all day.   There is a school of thought now which thinks that very early first cut is not necessarily a good thing as the early grass has a very high sugar content and this may lead to fermentation.  The farmer and I were talking about winter feed on our return journey from our monthly visit to the physiotherapist this morning - before silaging (which is well within the farmer's memory) all the grass fields were made into hay and there was only one cut.   But of course, in those days, milking herds were very much smaller.   Now it would be impossible for a farmer to make a living from such a small dairy herd and when a local farm is sold one of the neighbouring farmers usually buys it so that he can increase his herd.   Most local herds have at least a hundred cows actually milking, plus dry cows awaiting calving and young stock for replacement.   So you can see why some farmers silage early so that they can with luck get in three crops in the summer.

The other thing we noticed from the top road was how all the bright yellow rape fields have suddenly disappeared.   The weather has been warm and sunny for a few days before today and the flowers have gone and the seeds are set and the cheery yellow has gone for another year.

The farmer goes to hospital for an operation to remove a rodent ulcer from just below his eye tomorrow.   He seems to be taking the whole thing in his stride - but I shall be mighty pleased when it is all over.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

A Garden Idea.

One of the places we went to in Northumberland was Howick Hall.   There is such a lot to see and the gardens are just beautiful.
The approach to the house has such a good idea that I thought I would pass it on to you.

It is planted with grass and amongst the grass, for Spring, is a variety of bulbs, narcissi, tulips, daffodils, bluebells.   The tulips are in a variety of colours and all the bulbs are randomly planted.   To follow on there are various wild flowers amongst the grass, so that it is not cut until the wild flower seed has set and the bulbs have died down.   This can make for a rather dull approach in June, but it is a small price to pay.

When we went in mid=May the bulbs were almost over but it was possible to see what the effect had been - I am sure you will agree when you look at the photographs.   The lady who planted the garden calls it her Botticelli garden and anyone who has seen and fallen in love with Botticelli's painting 'Primavera' will know exactly why she gave it that name.
 In our fields the Hawthorn blossom is coming out and the Crab Apple blossom is fully out.   The honeysuckle is in bud and the Cow Parsley lines the road sides with its white froth.   The grass is growing well and it will soon be time to begin silage cutting; some of our neighbouring farmers have already started.   Our paddock is closed to all animals because the farmer likes to cut that for hay if there is a nice warm spell.

Tomorrow I will try to put on photographs of these, although the weather forecast is for heavy rain.  I haven't had time today as it has been our Poetry day - eight of us and, as usual, some lovely poetry to pass a relaxed and enjoyable afternoon.   Perhaps my favourite poem of the afternoon was Sylvia Plath's 'Tulips' - she really was such an inspirational poet.  Later on I read Ted Hughes's poem 'A Pink Wool Knitted Dress' - the poem about his wedding day to Sylvia Plath.   A doomed relationship from the start; the fact that we know this now makes the poems all the more heart-rending.

To finish today here is a short John Clare poem from his Shepherd.s Calendar.  It is called June but it aptly describes the countryside here at the moment.

Now Summer is in flower and nature's hum
Is never silent round her sultry bloom,
Insects as small as dust have never done
Wi' glittering dance and reeling in the sun,
And greenwood fly and blossom haunting bee
Are never weary of their melody.
Round field hedge now flowers in full glory twine,
Large bindweed bells, wild hop and streaked woodbine
That life athirst their slender throated flowers,
Agape for dew falls and for honey showers;
These round each bush in sweet disorder run
And spread their wild hues to the sultry sun,
Where its silk netting lace on twigs and leaves
The mottled spider at eve's leisure weaves,
That every morning meet the poet's eye
Like fairies; dew-wet dresses hung to dry.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014


On our holiday we stayed in a hotel in the little town of Bamburgh on the coast of Northumberland.   It has a majestic castle, built on a rock and looking out to sea.

It was also the birthplace of Grace Darling, famous for helping her father to save seamen during a storm off the Farne Islands.  She was only a slip of a girl and yet she held the boat steady while her father went ashore to get the survivors off.   The actual boat is in the Grace Darling Museum - it is a boat which in Northumberland is called a coble and for a 'rowing' boat it is huge, with enormous oars.

I had a morning wandering round Bamburgh when the farmer went across to the Farne Islands.   Sadly the swell was too great for them to land but he really enjoyed seeing the seabirds and the seals.  The puffins were there in force - I would have loved to see them.

There is a super Hugh MacDiarmid poem about puffins, made all the better for having seen them.   Here is the first verse:

In my dealings with facts I resemble
One of the puffins we see in the Shetlands here.
The puffin flies in from the sea
With as many as ten little fish
Held sideways in its beak.
And the fish are usually arranged
With heads and tails alternating.
How is it done?

Sadly, going back to Grace Darling, she died only three years later (after being decorated for her bravery and after becoming famous)
from tuberculosis.   Few families escaped the scourge in those days.

On the home front - the fields which we rent to our friend and neighbour are now full of young cattle.   When they have settled down a bit I will go round with my camera, but at present they take off like rockets at the approach of humans - and as for dogs - well let's just say that they put the fear of god in Tess yesterday when they chased her round their field.

Monday, 19 May 2014

Three Bird Stories.

Three bird stories today - two sad ones and then a cheerful one to end with - and a rather tatty photograph but the best I could manage as I hardly dare move nearer for fear of disturbing her.
First of all - if you have been reading my blog regularly you will know that the farmer disturbed a robin nesting in a watering can.  She never returned - sadly as there were five eggs in her nest.   Cobwebs grew thickly over the hole, so it was obvious that she hadn't been back.   I have just written an e mail to the rspb asking them whether they think she will start again - I do hope so as we both feel so sad at disturbing her.

Ever since we came back from Northumberland the farmer has noticed a cock pheasant in the long grass of the paddock, more or less in the same place; he didn't seem to be moving.   This morning the farmer went into the paddock and picked him up.   He was unable to move as he had a broken leg, so sadly the farmer had to put him out of his misery.   It did strike me how wild animals and birds who are injured just seem to stand and await their fate.

Thirdly, a lovely happy piece of news.   Mrs pheasant,
who nested just outside our front door, has brought off her brood.  Just after lunch today I was upstairs and the farmer was coming downstairs when he called for me to look out of the bedroom window.   There she was on the front lawn with at least seven babies.   There is plenty of cover for them as the plants are growing quite tall, but we suspect that she will take them out of the garden and into the field tonight as dusk falls.  I took the photograph - the best I could get.

Opposite the farm, on the lane where the waller rebuilt some of the stone walls a couple of weeks ago, he cut down a bush and left the debris on the lane side.   This morning the farmer went over the lane intending to gather up all the twiggy bits to burn on the bonfire.  Just in time he noticed another hen pheasant sitting among the branches on the deep grass, so he has left well alone.   Let's hope she brings her brood off too. 

Sunday, 18 May 2014


We have been to Northumberland for a week, staying in the Lord Crewe Hotel in Bamburgh.   The castle, which is majestic, was visible from our bedroom window, as was the sea.

I am not very mobile and cannot walk too far, so we tended to go to places where I could have gentle walks and enjoy the scenery while the farmer set off on a five mile walk.   We would meet up for a sandwich lunch - there are plenty of sandwich shops in Bamburgh, where you can choose your sandwich filling from a wide variety.

My modest walks would be followed by reading the Times, doing all the Mind Games and then chatting to anyone who came by.   Quite often a National Park Warden would come by and be only too happy to chat, so I learned a lot about this wondereful place.

The Cheviots are so beautiful and the whole area is so green.   We spent several days in the Harthope Valley which is just out into the National Park from the little town of Wooler.

I heard the cuckoo for the first time in many years, I heard and watched Song Thrushes - we never hear one round where we live - and the air was full of sandmartins, who had built their nests in the river bank.

The principal breed of sheep was Scottish Blackface - a lovely breed with the most beautiful lambs with black legs and faces.

We have been to the area before, so there was no need to visit the National Trust Properties and the like - this time we spent the whole time out of doors enjoying the scenery.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

We're Back.

After a holiday in the Northumberland National Park, staying at a lovely hotel in Bamburgh and going deep into the Cheviots most days to enjoy the warm sunshine, the superb bird life, lovely friendly folk and delicious food, we are back home to grass which needs cutting, mountains of washing, which is flapping on the line as I write and the possibility of getting back to 'normal' by tomorrow morning.   So watch this space.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

New ladies arrive.

Eight new young ladies have arrived.   They are all British Blue X Heifers and today is their first day out on grass since early October last year, when they were taken in with their mothers for the Winter.  They are just a year old and have been inside without their mothers for a few months, so this is their first taste of freedom.  And, by golly, aren't they making the most of it - they are flying round the field like mad things, so frisky that it is impossible to do anything with them at present.   When they have settled in and calmed down I will take a photograph of them to show you.

The pasture they are in is far too big for them - they will eat far too much grass; so when they have calmed down they will be electric-fenced into a small part of the field.   There is no point in doing this straight away as they would just clear the fence!

Sadly it looks as though Mrs Robin has deserted the nest in the watering can.  There is a thick cobweb over the hole and it has been there for a couple of days.   The farmer hasn-t been near enough to look in but that doesn't sound good, does it?

Winter woollies have gone back on here as the weather has turned cloudy and chilly - just when it was beginning to warm up.  No sign of the sun today.   Hope there is wherever you live.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

A Stimulating Morning.

This morning our Writers' Group had a short course, conducted by our Joint Chairman, about writing non-fiction articles for magazines.  It was such an interesting couple of hours, with everyone participating and such a lot of good advice for anyone who wished to submit such work.   I rarely do so these days, although, having submitted a poem to The Dalesman magazine several years ago, I find that they have published it this month  - and sent me an unexpected cheque in payment.  A lovely surprise.

After the class friend S and I went out for lunch together - to a local restaurant we both like (crab cakes, salad and chips before you ask).  It is a lovely country restaurant, approached by a road where llamas graze in a field and where a Brahma cockerel and his two White Sussex hens watch from just above the Car Park.  Came home feeling rather full of crab cakes, but managed to do one or two jobs which urgently needed doing, so not a wasted day work wise.

The weather has turned decidedly wintry today, so I shall now light the wood burner and get the house warm.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Tidying up loose ends.

There is something very satisfying about tidying up loose ends don't you think?   I have a tidy mind and if I get too many things left half done I tend to get stressed out, so my motto is usually to set aside a day to square everything up.   Today was such a day.

My first job was to enter the VAT quarter on line.   Writing the very words fills me with a kind of dread - I never do it right first time.   The trouble with doing things on line is that is does not allow the tiniest error; there is no human there to just alter it a bit for you.   This morning, when I had finished entering all the relevant information the site told me I had made an error.  I read through all the figures several times and could see no error, so I deleted the lot and re-entered them.   Still the site told me I had made an error, and also my time slot had run out, so I had to log off and start again.   Finally I found it - eureka - I was leaving a space between the decimal point and the pence!   Job done, lots of sweat and toil, but job satisfaction number one.

My second job concerns my driving.   Because I was ill nine months ago I had to stop driving.   Although I did not reapply, thinking I just would not bother again, I had a letter from the Licensing Authority to say that I could drive again.  It happens to be time to renew my Driver's Licence, so I determined today was the day to fill that in and send it off.   I will not go into the trouble I had filling in the form (sufficient to say I think you need at least one degree, probably two, to fill it in easily).   I sent off the form.   Job done.

Then it was off with friend W to our Exercise for the Over 60's class.   A marvellous, if exhausting, hour of concentrated exercise which leaves me completely knackered if you will pardon the word.

After lunch it was over to our County town to take our Year End books to the accountant.   I am always pleased when I do this because it means I have balanced the books and sorted everything out.   Handing over the full file of stuff is very cathartic.

I had made a list of all these jobs, which I intended to do today, so I have just been able to cross them all out on the list.   That (and I know this sounds daft) is a most satisfying thing to do.

Then coming back home, I drove and immediately felt OK again about driving.   Only two complaints about my driving by the farmer - once I was going too fast and once I was in the wrong gear.  But that is pretty much par for the course.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Far brighter than that gaudy melon flower.

To quote a bit of Browning's Home Thoughts from Abroad, when talking about buttercups.   After lunch today, walking up the field, I found two large buttercups in flower - the first I have seen this year.   They are such an iconic flower for me, such a Summer flower, soon the field will be yellow with them but these are the first two and all the more welcome for it.

The may blossom on the hawthorn trees is going to be prolific this year but as yet it is only in bud.  I know it is full out in many places further South, but we are seven hundred feet ASL and a long way to the North of the country, so we must wait patiently until suddenly one morning it is full out and the air is full of the smell of its almondy blossom.

The cows have all gone today.   I was hoping they were going to be let out all at once to gallop away down the pasture, tails in the air.   But these are sedate, pregnant ladies and were going to three different places, so they were all taken away by tractor and trailer.
Three who were 'springing' to use a local word (showing signs that calving was near) were taken back home to await the births.  Another group who are not far off calving were taken to a field nearer to home, and the final group, only recently put into calf, were taken to a pasture further away where they could enjoy some good, luscious grass for a few weeks.   I am always sorry to see them go.   Friends who call always go down the yard to look at the cows before they come in - it has become a ritual.

Three loads of washing done this morning, so now three loads of ironing to do before tea time, so must sign off.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Be careful.

This morning the farmer finished planting up all he wishes to do in the garden until the end of the month when the danger of frosts should be passed and he can put in things like green and runner beans.

He sowed a row of Spring Onion seeds and then went into the greenhouse to get the watering can, so that he could water the seeds in.   I should point out that we don't use our greenhouse and some of the panes of glass are missing.

The can was lying on its side and as he picked it up a little bird flew out.   It was a robin and there was a robin's nest inside the can.  The action of picking the can up had tipped the two eggs out of the nest, so the farmer carefully put them back and laid the can back down on its side.   Now we can only hope that Mrs. Robin will return and that she will forgive us for disturbing her.

Our friends arrived for lunch.   The watercress soup, garnished with a swirl of single cream, followed by a plate of cold meats (roast ham, salami, belly pork), new potatoes with parsley and butter, lettuce, parmesan and crouton salad, tomato, olive and feta cheese salad, Brussels pate, cheddar cheese and a freshly baked Ciabatta, and finally a rhubarb and orange crumble with half fat creme fraiche - all went down well.

We walked round the fields, to see the orchid and to come across the first two buttercups (hopefully a photograph tomorrow) and then sat and chatted for the rest of the afternoon.

Time to go now and join the farmer who is watching the final of the snooker - very exciting.   See you tomorrow.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

The Rotovator arrives.

On the back of a lorry from the firm in our little market town who hire out machinery and equipment.   The back vegetable garden had become so hard during the Winter that the farmer just could not dig it properly.   It had all been well-'mucked' but apart from the onions, nothing else had been put in.

The rotovator arrived at lunchtime and by the middle of the afternoon, when I took this photograph, the whole garden had been gone over once.   Then the farmer did it again, working the opposite way, and now there are also three rows of peas already planted. What an easy way to get the garden dug - I trust he will always do it this way in the future - it is certainly less back-breaking.

Friend W and I went to the monthly coffee morning and had lots of nice chats as usual.   After lunch Tess and I walked round the fields, looking for what the farmer saw yesterday when he walked round.....a female roe deer!    He thought she was probably looking for somewhere to drop her calf as they tend to calve around the beginning of May and like to be in a quiet, private place.   Last year she calved in the field which we have bought this year - the field had been neglected for some years and was in a sorry state  - just what she would like.   But, of course, it is now well-looked-after and sadly not at all suitable for her purposes.   I do hope she found somewhere.

Friends tomorrow.   I have already made the rhubarb crumble - smelled so good when I took it out of the oven that I was severely tempted to have a taste.  As recommended by Nigella, I added the grated zest and the juice of an orange, so I will report on the taste tomorrow.  Now, in the morning, all I have to do is make some Cream of Watercress soup - an easy job - and make a variety of salads to go with the cold meats and pate.  All ready and no hard work.

The weather has been fine and sunny until the middle of the afternoon, when it clouded over, but stayed dry.   So the first day of the Annual Food Festival in our little Market town has gone well - I am sure it will have been a great success.

Have a great week end.

Friday, 2 May 2014

A Lonely Little Orchid.?

You have no doubt all heard of the 'Lonely little petunia in the onion patch'?   Well, here we have a lonely little early purple orchid in a grassy patch.   It is a brave little flower, standing tall amongst the quickly growing grass - the first one we have seen on the farm for a few years.   When I first married the farmer, twenty one years ago, we had a lot along the hedgerows but gradually they have disappeared.   Now, one is back - albeit in a different field, so I hope it is the beginning of their return.

This week-end sees The Dales Festival of Food and Drink in our little market town.   It is a highly popular event, visited by folk from all over the North of England.   On the whole I don't think many local people go because of the crowds, the parking  and the fact that much of the produce is familiar to us anyway.

Instead, friend W and I will go to our village monthly coffee morning, where friends J and M will be doing the raffle as usual, where a lot of the villagers I never see at any other time will be there for a chat.  I shall no doubt come home with some home-baked goodies and full of village information to tell the farmer.   Village life revolves around chat - some folk don't like it and consider it a down side to village life - but I think on balance the fact that folk know a lot about each other is often very helpful, particularly in an emergency.   There have been quite a few deaths among friends and villagers over the past few weeks - and I know for a fact that those left behind have been comforted by village support, as I was all those years ago when I lost my first husband.
Give me village life over the impersonality of town living any day.

Friends to lunch on Sunday.   To make it easy for myself I have planned a simple menu.   I shall not reveal it on here as the said friends read my blog (!!) but sufficient to say that our local deli features widely.

Out tonight with friend W to see our local Amateur Dramatic Society in B O G O F - two one act plays (buy one get one free) - I understand that last night was a sell out - they are always popular - so I will report on it tomorrow.   Have a lovely May Day Week-end - a Bank Holiday here in the UK.