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Thursday, 30 August 2012

What a difference a day makes!

 After yesterday's torrential rain today has been a bright and sunny day albeit after a dull start.  The sky has been blue all afternoon and the sun has been shining.  One advantage of all that rain is that although the weeds are shooting up everywhere they are at least a bit easier to pull up and I have been out trying to rid the front garden of dandelions this afternoon.

 However there is a definite feeling that summer is coming to an end as the rosehips indicate and there was a chilly breeze along with the sunshine.

 I did however manage a short while after lunch sitting on the bench to finish this book.  It is a sequel to a book called The Secret River which I read some years ago although you could read it without having read the first one.  Quite different to the Snow Child this one tells the story of a young girl and her life in Australia in the 1820s.  The descriptions are excellent and you really get the feeling of being there and  what it might have been like.  I can recommend this book.  Yet another recommendation is After River by Donna Milner which I returned to the library yesterday so no photo I'm afraid!  Set in Canada near the border with America at the time of the Vietnam war it tells of how a single action by the 15 year old protagonist brings tragic results to her family.  Again do let me know if you read either of these and if so what you think of them and if you have any books you can recommend I'd be glad to hear about those too.

Thank you for all your kind comments on my last post - seems I am not alone in feeling frustrated at the new word verification.  

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Singing in the rain and other things

I decided to walk into town this morning.  I could have got ready sooner and gone with Mr marigold who had an appointment at the doctor's in town or I could have got the bus but I wanted the exercise and also to test the weather resistance of my recently purchased pack away mac.

 You've seen this walk many times before but today I had it all to myself - wonder why?!  I did wish I had a camera, or maybe it is the photographic skills I lack, to take a photo of the patterns made by the raindrops in the puddles - the ever extending circles which ran into each other and were embellished by bubbles!  Made me think of a design for fabric perhaps.

This little culvert alongside the path is usually a silent trickle at the bottom of the ditch but today the sound of rushing water was alongside me and the churned up muddy water was very high as you can see.

Nobody on the swings today - no mothers chatting on the seats watching their little darlings on the slides.  The puddle in front of the gate was like a minature boating pond - any child would have loved it!  The ducks didn't mind the rain of course and seemed happy to be left in peace today!  I could also hear a bird busily singing in the trees above me although I didn't see him. 

I don't mind the rain providing I am not going to have to stay wet all day or even worse to be camping and be wet all night too (incidentally sister-in-law didn't get washed away at Weymouth over the weekend as they didn't get the same torrential rain as we did just 30 miles up the road so were able to take the walks they planned and to enjoy the scenery if not in full sunshine at least in the dry!).  If I didn't have somewhere warm and dry to come back to I might feel differently but as it is I love walking in the rain - and in the sun too of course.

I am pleased to say my mac did what it said on the label and was weather resistant, my feet in my walking boots (changed into those at the last minute and am I glad I did) remained dry, my mother's old brolly (better than my fold up one for this sort of rain) kept my hair dry and the only thing that got wet was my jeans - not a good idea to wear jeans walking in the wet as they just wick up the water from all the puddles. I met my husband at the library and we enjoyed a coffee in town and did a bit of shopping before coming home to change into dry clothes. 

For those of you who might be interested I have posted the recipe for nettle soup on a separate page top right of the blog and called recipes (as it would be wouldn't it?)!

I found the Snow Child on Book Depository for only £3.99 with free P+P anywhere in the world - I ordered a copy for the wanderer as she started it but didn't finish it whilst she was here and being a library book she couldn't take it with her.  So if you are interested in reading it but haven't come across it anywhere yet I can recommend The book Depository as I used it a lot when we lived in France. PS see Joanna's comment as apparently this isn't the best price!  I have a couple of other books to recommend too although I won't be reading out on the blue bench in the sunshine this afternoon I fear!  I'll post about them next time.

I am beginning to think perhaps I am a robot as the blogs which require the new style verification are driving me mad - sometimes I just give up after  the fourth attempt to read the letters and numbers.  Is it only me, am I a robot or do others of you find it really annoying?

I have been awarded a Leibster award by Rose at Second Hand Rose for which many thanks Rose.  I am supposed to pass it on to 11 other bloggers and also to tell you 11 things you might not know about me.  Apologies Rose but I will pass on this as I can't think of anything you might want to know about me that you don't already know nor can I pick 11 blogs above all others that I feel worthy of such an award.  I don't want to be a spoilsport - sorry!

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Nettles and recipe books

I've finished over the fence!  Now I wait for it to grow over a little so it doesn't look quite so bare and I have visions of neat rows of young stinging nettles along my path and plenty of lovely blackberries - I know it won't actually be like that of course but I can dream.

Why would I want stinging nettles at all I hear you ask?  Well so that I can make soup with them - naturally!  I read about nettle soup in two library books I had earlier this year and I decided to try making some.  I picked a carrier bag of nettles - just the tips and not from anywhere I though any dogs might have been and wearing rubber gloves to do so - and this was my harvest picked over and washed ready for use.

The soup was delicious - even the wanderer who was still with us at the time enjoyed it and asked for seconds. 

All of this brings me to my recipe file - I was inspired to post about this having read of Helen's recipe books On her blog Helsie's Happenings (can't do a link to it for some reason it keeps telling me that a script in it will make my computer unresponsive and I then have to log off) and thought how professional hers looked.  This is mine.  Just an ordinary A4 ring binder with a clip art design on the front and spine.

My recipes are a motley collection including clippings from old newspapers - now yellowed with age,

Some recipes from magazines....

Some handwritten ones...

Some recipes in my Mum's handwriting - it is wonderful to have something which a loved one actually wrote,  the paper she physically touched - as she died nearly 11 years ago there won't be any more of these.  And notice what this recipe is for - nettle beer so more uses for the nettles on my path!!  I haven't actually made this but if I get a crop of nettles I might give it a try next year.

Some of my recipes are written in French - this one my neighbour gave me.  She told me that a clafouti is made with cherries and if you make the same thing with apples it is a flognarde - this recipe was for flognarde.

And here's another French one.

So nothing professional about my recipe book but a collection of recipes from all sorts of places many of which bring back happy memories of the friends who kindly passed their recipes on and of the times when I enjoyed them.  My pages are often splattered with marks and put together in a somewhat scruffy way but it works for me!!  Do you have a recipe collection and if so how do you organise yours?

The wanderer is on her way to spend a couple of days with us - we haven't seen her since she left at the beginning of June and I have been making her favourite biscuits from one of my recipes in the folder along with granola which we made when she was here and she enjoyed.  Shan't be able to make any nettle soup this time though as you really need young green nettles not the 10 foot tall ones I have been pulling up!!

Many thanks for all your kind comments on my last post - I noticed I had suddenly had 2 more followers again and now one's gone so as you all say it's best not to worry about it!  Hope you all have a good weekend - for those in UK hope your Bank Holiday weekend is not a complete washout.  My sister-in-law is camping near Weymouth with her walking group - I wouldn't be too surprised to see her at the door asking for a dry bed as it's been raining cats and dogs all day here!!

PS Many thanks too for all your good wishes for Mr M - glad to say he is on the mend now - must be that Metatone I bought for him!!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Garden update!

 I thought you might like to see some more attractive garden photos than in my previous post!  I have almost finished my clearing over the fence and thought a little break might be nice so today I went with a friend to the Castle Garden Centre in Sherborne for lunch.

 This lovely area was what greeted us in the car park - isn't it beautiful?  If you click on any of my photos you will get them in larger format and be able to see the flowers here in more detail.

 It struck me that this could be seen as what can be achieved when the world pulls together - a sort of metaphor for world peace perhaps.

 This vertical wall of begonias is stunning isn't it?

 Pretty buildings slumbering in the sunshine complete with beautiful hanging baskets.

 My hanging baskets never looked like these and in fact this year I didn't plant any as at the time for planting we were having a drought and I thought it pointless now I wish I had had a little more faith!!

 Aren't they stunning?    We enjoyed a sandwich and a coffee sitting in the sunshine here.  Tomorrow I will don my heavy gloves and get over the fence and finsih off that job but just for today I was enjoying these beauties.

I notice that my followers seem to be growing fewer in number - I wonder why and whether it matters?  Do I need to have loads of followers - does having lots of followers make me a better blogger or is it like belonging to the popular gang at school?  I know that there are some loyal friends who visit me regularly and I always appreciate your comments - you know who you are.  The others probably come and go and although I know one cannot please all the people all the time I can't help feeling slightly sad that my writing isn't holding their attention as it once did - how do other bloggers deal with falling followers or shouldn't I mind?!!

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Through the hedge backwards!

When we bought this house 4 years ago one of the things we liked about it was the fact that on one boundary of the triangular garden was woodland.  There was a post and rail fence with rosa rugosa bushes along it and in the spring hundreds of primroses bloom on our side of the fence.  This side of our triangle is probably about 100 feet in length and the part you can see in this photo is about 40 feet of it as it continues alongside the house and down the side of our driveway too.

In previous years we have been able to get through the fence and behind the roses to trim them back as needed but this year although the tomatoes have blight, the French beans are looking decidedly poorly and sparse and the cucumbers are refusing to grow in the chilly wet weather which has been this year's summer the nettles and brambles on the other side of the fence along with the roses have gone mad!  Look at those nettles in the above photo they are about 10 feet tall.

The roses have completely taken over the fence and are tumbling down the bank towards the drive.

It's a total jungle out there this year and I said to Mr Marigold that if we didn't do something soon people would begin to say "I wonder whatever happened to that funny old couple who used to live in the house by the wood - haven't seen them for a while" and we would just disappear under the overgrowth!  I don't think it is the right time to prune the roses but I don't think we can be picky here!

Mr Marigold is not well just now - he has shingles poor lad and is feeling very sorry for himself and spending quite a lot of time having a lie down (not unnaturally) so I thought maybe it was up to me to do something about the boundary before the brambles completely took over our garden.  I peered over the fence in the bottom corner of the garden and thought "No way can I do that" - swiftly followed by "Every journey starts with a single step and if you don't try you'll never know what you can do"

 So on Tuesday morning I managed to clear a gap big enough to climb through the fence and made a start on trying to clear a narrow path behind our fence.  After lunch I had arranged to go into town to meet a couple of friends for a coffee and a chat so I dusted myself down and changed my clothes and walked into town - it was a lovely sunny day here - I came back on the bus and after making Mr Marigold a nice cup of tea I changed back into my old clothes and donned my thick leather gloves and clambered back into the wood to continue.  It was pouring with rain yesterday and I thought that rain would stop play and it would be indoor games but the sun came through in the afternoon and I was able to do a bit more and today I have again been at it.  I feel like some intrepid adventurer back here - pity I don't have a machete!

One advantage of clearing a pathway is that now I can actually pick the blackberries which I couldn't reach before and tonight we had blackberries and apple for our pudding.  So far I have done about a quarter of the length and I am hopeful that if I do a bit each day I will actually get to the other end before the beginning has become all over grown again!!  And when Mr Marigold is better he can help me to keep it clear so we don't have to do this again in the future!

After a shaky start our sweet peas are going like the clappers - probably in competition with the brambles - and I am picking a bunch every other day to have on our table.

Another of Summer's pleasures along with sitting in the sun with a cup of tea and a good book is to bury my nose in a bunch of just picked sweet peas each bloom reminding me of ladies in delicate swirling tea dresses and their fragrance is so delightful it makes all the scrambling in the wood getting scratched and stung fade away and I am in heaven for a moment at least!

Thanks to everyone who left comments on my previous post - I do hope that if you read the Snow Child you will enjoy it - you might also like to know that the author has a blog called Letters from Alaska which you might enjoy reading too if you like the book.

By the way can anyone tell me how I can stop following a blog - I sometimes come upon a blog via another blog and want to look at it for a while but then can't figure out how to stop!!

Friday, 10 August 2012

Summer pleasures + a book recommendation

Summer pleasures - yes we have summer here at last - include sitting in the sunshine with a cup of tea and my current reading material.  This is the bench just outside the back door where I often sit with my cuppa weather permitting and where I have been enjoying my afternoon tea and a rock bun warm from the oven (sadly not in the photo as I'd already eaten it!) today.

Seldom does a book have such an effect on me that I feel compelled to tell you about it but this one was such an unusual story and told in the most beautiful prose that I simply couldn't put it down.  I am sorry that I have finished it as I wanted it to go on forever!  If you haven't already read it I urge you to search it out both for the wonderful descriptions of the Alaskan countryside (that word is far too tame for the place described which is a harsh and unforgiving wilderness yet with its own beauty) and for the story which was a sort of modern fairy tale and not my usual choice of reading at all but I just LOVED it!

I'd love to know what you think of it if you do read it.

I have been very remiss in not thanking all those of you who have so kindly posted comments on my recent blog posts - thank you all and welcome to those new followers who have joined me - can't believe I now have 188 people who enjoy what I write enough to add me to their lists!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Family - does size matter?

Noticed this duck with her family en route for town this morning - she had 10 babies last week if she is the same one!
 I had an e-mail from a friend this morning in which she told me of her recent doings which all concerned masses of visitors and cooking, a wedding and various other exploits incorporating a massive cast of family and friends.  It got me thinking about families and how different they are.

My family is miniscule in comparison and never have we had a big family gathering such as many of my friends do at the drop of a hat.

I am an only child (or as the French say une enfant unique which sounds much nicer and less apologetic don't you think?) of a single mother.  I did of course have a father but not only was he someone else's father too (some of you may remember this story) but he died when I was only 2 years old and I have no recollections of him at all.

My mother's mother died when my mother was a girl so I never had a Granny but I did know her father so had a Grandfather.  My paternal grandparents never knew of my existence!

My mother had 2 sisters neither of whom had any children nor were they married, and 3 brothers 2 of whom married and had families one having one child and the other 4 children.  As a child I saw my cousins fairly often but we have gradually lost contact other than a card at Christmas and rarely see each other - last time was at my mother's funeral 11 years ago!

My husband has 2 sisters one of whom is single and whom we see regularly and the other who has 2 children and several grandchildren but she lives in Australia and those neices and nephews we have never seen

We have one daughter (not through choice but that's just how it happened) and she is single.

So our family consists of a very independent daughter in her 30s, and a sister-in-law plus us two.  It's hard to have a family get together with lots of noise and laughter with only 4 people. I do sometimes wonder if it would be nice to be part of a big close family but then again I realise that it doesn't always work out like that.

As a child I was always able to be alone if I wanted to which would obviously not be possible with brothers and sisters around and sharing bedrooms and so on.  I learned to be independent and also how to make friends as if I wanted anyone to play with that was a necessity!  I had a choice of whether to be out enjoying my friends' company or whether I might prefer to play alone maybe reading or doing some other solitary pursuit.  What I didn't learn was how to share, how to enjoy playing card games and things which require someone else to play with or how the give and take of normal family life works.

I wonder if you come from big families or small.  If you have lots of brothers and sisters do you all get on well together.  Does family size matter?

PS As I finished typing this Thomas has just come to remind me that we also have two cats so our family is not as small as I would have you believe!

PPS Do pop over to Pipany's blog to see her large family having fun and running their own Olympics - if we did that unless we had the cats joining in we'd all get medals as there wouldn't be enough of us to not win!!

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Olympic Gold for postboxes

Every time a British athlete wins a gold medal in the Olympics or Paralympics, Royal Mail will paint a post box gold in their home town. 

 Have you got one of these where you live yet?!  This one is in Sherborne where we went to do our weekend shopping this morning (showery again as you can see!)  Most of the flowering tubs and hanging baskets we see everywhere this year are in shades of red, white and blue as you can see here and this summer's weather seems to suit them as they are all looking good.

This one is in honour of Peter Wilson who won gold for shooting earlier this week and who lives in a village near Sherborne. 

The speed with which Royal Mail is getting out the stamps and painting the mail boxes is amazing - maybe they merit a gold medal too as it's certainly faster than the mail delivery service is sometimes!!

Having said I wasn't interested in sport and how could we possibly justify spending all that money on Games and so on and so forth I now find myself getting drawn in  to Games Fever!  I was only passing through the sitting room where my husband was watching the cycling yesterday and I sat on a footstool for a moment and discovered two hours had passed by and no dinner started!

As  Mick Brown said in today's Telegraph:  Over the last week something quite magical has happened in Britain. People of whom most of us have never heard, doing things about which most of us know absolutely nothing, have put the country – and me – under a spell. Rowing, cycling, slalom canoeing, sports shooting – we are all experts now, gathered round our television screens and computer terminals (Work? That can wait), united in that most precious and exhilarating of things – a Great National Conversation.....The effect of all this on London has been particularly remarkable. People seem to be walking with a lighter step, strangers engage each other in conversation; the familiar landmarks are cast in a new and wondrous light as Olympic settings. Could any city in the world have provided as splendid a backdrop to beach volleyball as Horse Guards Parade, and to an equestrian event as Greenwich?.... As if in some exuberant proletarian uprising, crowds have lined the streets of the city and the leafy suburbs, five deep, reclaiming the spirit of the Games from the autocratic hands of the IOC and corporate sponsorship. They can’t say you can only eat McDonald’s, drink Pepsi or wear Adidas sneakers when you’re standing outside your own house in Dorking.

2012 is certainly proving to be an amazing year here in the UK what with the Silver Jubilee celebrations, the torch carrying all over Britain and now the Olympic Games and the Paralympics to follow.  It's all going to be a bit of an anticlimax once it's all over isn't it?!