Archive for February, 2011

Inspired by reading an article about gardening expert Carol Klein, in the magazine Somerset Life, I decided to stop sitting about at home all day and drove south to East Lambrook, which is thought to be a good example of cottage garden style as planted by Margery Fish just before the second world war.

The garden was quite a lot smaller than I expected and must be quite lovely when everything is flowering in the spring and summer. This picture is of the shop’s display of the many different varieties of snowdrop planted in the garden and available to buy there. I couldn’t actually get them all in the picture.

It had turned into the most beautifully sunny day but it was so windy that the many, many varieties of hellebore and snowdrop that I photographed didn’t come out very well, as they were blowing around so much and I’d forgotten to put my camera on the idiot proof ‘running man’ setting. I’m not sure I completely understand ‘galanthophilia’ or snowdrop mania, though, as the differences between the different kinds are pretty subtle. For me it was enough to notice that some of them were pretty giant – about 10″ tall and with quite substantial foliage. I think when they get to that size, they cease being lovely snowdrops as there’s not much of the ‘drop’ about them anymore. The variations amongst the hellebores struck me far more because of the different colours and number of petals, and I’ve now taken to looking much more closely at my own  – one of which you can see here which lives in my front garden.

I’d missed the snowdrops’ main flowering, which must have been a couple of weeks ago but it was still an impressive show. I came away with just one purchase, although I could have made more: a type of hellebore that I haven’t yet got. So pretty.

flowering hellebore

This post makes it sounds like I had a very solidly horticultural day. In fact I didn’t. I am omitting the story of the wild goose chase across the county in search of an old fashioned, leather dog collar and lead for You Know Who. Another sign of the times, when the little village pet shops have all closed and one has to go to a massive superstore. Who knew?

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I’ve got a new project on the go and will write about it when it’s complete but here are a couple of pictures in the meantime.

oilcloth

Lloyd Loom carboot find

handknitted socks

Oh, and here are the socks I’ve just knitted, with Opal sock wool. Wonderful self-patterning knitting yarn which is simplicity itself to turn into a pair of pretty socks. For this inspiration, I thank my blogfriend, Charlotte.

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red sky in the morning, shepherds' warningA fine red sky this morning, so, of course, the early morning’s clear weather has deteriorated into a fine, drizzly mist, so thick now, that you need fog lights to drive up here in the Quantocks.

Luckily, though, the dry weather held out until we got back from riding. I was riding a much smaller horse called Joseph today, which was nice because I actually felt like I could get my legs down far enough to gee him up properly. Trigger is just so broad but Joseph was a dream, but perhaps I’m actually just getting better at riding.

We rode up to Fyne Court, a direction in which I’d never ridden before, and then back again. Did loads of trotting which I can now manage absolutely fine and, apart from sometimes feeling a bit fretful about what I’m doing with the reins, I felt quite in control. Cantering was harder and I need more practice at that. It was great to go riding with a group that didn’t include a total novice, so that we could actually do more difficult stuff than just walking. So many cars, though, on the roads and a tractor and rattly trailer came along, which really spooked Trigger and Harry, who were in front of me and went dashing off up a bank and into the woods. I wore my lovely new half chaps that the children gave me for my birthday. Thanks!

Sad news though of John H., who has just had to be taken into a care facility because he has suddenly got very confused; he’s probably disturbed by the new kitchen they are having put in at the farm, so hopefully it will settle down again, when the work’s finished. It’s only two weeks ago that I saw him driving past the cottage on his quad bike. Let’s hope he can come home again soon. He’s such a character.

It is starting to feel a bit more springlike. Quite a lot of bushes have got buds on and there are putative narcissi everywhere. In my garden, there is one single dwarf narcissus blooming and I saw a single daffodil on a verge as we were going along. I have a bush that’s covered in blossom but have no idea what it is. I will photograph tomorrow. Apparently, it’s going to get much colder again next week, with temperatures back down to almost freezing, so this mild spell has been a bit of a false hope. It’s still February, after all, but it feels like a very long winter.

After making some spicy vegetable soup for a late lunch, I went in to Bishop’s Lydeard to buy some supplies, which included a visit to the fabulous butcher’s. Everyone in there is always chatting away, so there were many apologies for keeping me waiting but it gave me time to look at what I wanted to buy. So instead of the single chop for tonight’s supper, I also came away with a free range chicken and some Exmoor blue cheese, which I haven’t tried before. I love the slower pace of things down here. Even in the Co-op, the staff are slower. In London, they are in such a rush to get to the next person in the queue that I end up feeling so slow and clumsy, fiddling around with my purse and my Onya bag, while the assistant taps her nails impatiently, as though I were about 105. There’s just no sense of actually ‘serving’ the customer there; it’s just all about taking their money and moving on the the next, so it feels like such an indulgence to shop here.

A hen chicken (Gallus gallus)

This is rather a long ramble and not a very interesting one, so I hope you’ll forgive me. So I’ll end with something that has been exercising me a bit today, given that I’m in the adoption mood. Through Twitter I came upon a farmer who has had to give up his business because the supermarkets are paying so little for his eggs; he needs to sell off all his laying hens before the end of March. His daughter has made a great video about them in the hope that they can be sold rather than sent for slaughter. Shame I really can’t have chickens… (There’s also some nice music.)

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Qualms, qualms

This is so embarassing. After my last post, there was this odd clerical slip-up, where my email to the dog rescue didn’t get through. So after two days of feeling very bereft and sad, I suddenly got driving directions to the place where Angel Dog, henceforth to be known as Tilly, is currently fostered. From the way this just put me straight back into the previous quandary, I realised that I do want to go ahead with the adoption.

So I’ve pulled myself together, have bought her a harness for the long trip back from Yorkshire and our fortnightly drives to Somerset, have Googled dog walkers and discovered that it shouldn’t be a problem to find someone to help me cope with the additional family member. So now it’s all systems go. Here she is on the Westies in Need site – scroll down until you get to Jill.

I’m still feeling slightly queasy about losing my independence again but I think the benefits will outweigh that. I’ll definitely keep you posted.

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Small sad postscript

After meeting the lovely, quite angelic dog, I was all set to adopt her for a couple of days. Then I had a very sleepless night yesterday, which led to the realisation that it just really isn’t the right time for me to do this, however much I want to.

I’m feeling very sad and disappointed. I have, however, made a donation to Westies in Need as an act of contrition for messing the wonderful Mo around by being so indecisive this weekend. I’m sure that she would welcome others if anyone is of a mind to be generous.

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Last summer I thought I had a cobnut hedge at the back of the garden between the field and the lawned garden. There it is on the left.

back garden

Before that I thought it was beech (having not paid any attention to its lack of wintry leaf), now I’m not so sure that it’s not hazel, which is, of course, very similar to cobnut. At any rate, it looked like this on Saturday, which was very pretty. And that’s all I’m prepared to say about it!

hedge detail

Actually, what this post is all about is displacement activity, as the adoption of a dog has suddenly become something of a reality. After searching for many months, I’ve found a my ideal dog, a seven year-old West Highland White Terrier, in a rescue in North Yorkshire and now I’m tussling with the logistics of changing all my weekend plans, which include a friend’s birthday party, my own birthday and the Boy’s birthday, in order to drive up there to pick her up. It’s so exciting and at the same time a bit terrifying. Tomorrow, I have to decide.

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I had to smile when I saw this lichen on Saturday:

lichen shaped like a heart

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