Posts Tagged ‘Lady-Vendor’

One area of the garden I had been ignoring was a rather odd section of gravel into which Lady-Vendor had inserted an old metal wheel rim, which had what I thought was some kind of moss growing in it (turned out to be a kind of low growing thyme). I have never liked it particularly and therefore took no particular notice of it. There was quite enough to focus on elsewhere.

part of the garden

Yesterday , rather late in the day, we hared over to Triscombe and bought some herbs to replant this into something useful. There are already some herbs in the garden: fennel, chives, oregano, the inevitable mint but I’ve always thought some additional ones would be nice.

So, with a glass of wine, a chicken in the oven and the sun setting on glorious day, we turned my eyesore into something acceptable.

prepared earth for planting

positioning pots to decide where to plant things

fully planted herbs in the earth

How wonderful friends are, giving inspiration for change, knowledge, good company, laughter and support. This weekend has been a joy!

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Last weekend, I warbled on so much about horsey stuff that I didn’t mention the garden but Spring really was starting to show. At 200 or so metres above sea level, things are a bit further behind at Spring Cottage than in towns or down on the Somerset Levels. So, belatedly, here are some pictures:


I love the way that these daffodils have managed to grow right at the top of the bank between Higher Close, the field behind the cottage, and our garden. Perhaps Lady-Vendor planted them up there deliberately, or perhaps they got there courtesy of a rabbit, who knows? But it’s a lovely spot for them.

cats in the garden

The cats are always very keen to get out into the garden and they have very little competition for their territory here. In this picture, they are are advancing in a crouch, still a little bit ‘on guard’ as they head out to explore. The concrete behind Percy is the top of the septic tank and to its left a rough patch of earth that I haven’t yet decided what to do with. I had thought that I would grow a few vegetables there originally but they would need a lot of protection from the rabbits and, so far, I haven’t had the energy to prepare the bed properly for that. My other idea is to have a wild flower patch.

frosty garden and daffodils

Saturday morning dawned with clear skies, a temperature of minus three degrees and a sharp frost, which produced the rather odd juxtaposition of frost and daffodils. The daffodils have a very strong scent unlike any of the shop bought ones I’ve come across.

budding shoots

I think these are peonies just starting to come up. They look frighteningly triffid-like.


And, of course, after almost three months, the hellebores are still going strong. These two look like a pair of ballet dancers doing a pas de deux.

front garden


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close up of window on sunny dayIf yesterday was chalk, then today is definitely cheese. The weather couldn’t be more different from yesterday’s bleakness: blue sky and bright, bright sunshine with a crisp frost on the ground.

This is the new cowshed at the farm down the road. Not yet finished, it juts unwelcomely into the view. When the field behind it is full of crop, it will look more obvious than it does now. But it could be worse.

The Boy and I went riding, he on my pal Trigger, and me on Harry. Through the woods and combes, we rode across hard frozen mud and icy puddles, the sun slipping through the tall trees above. I wonder who owns the woodland – it’s private around here mostly, I think, although there’s much Forestry Commission land about these parts too. Land that the government wants to sell off with the mistaken aim of raising money for their bankrupt coffers. Money that they’ll then need to spend on subsidies to private landowners, so that they can afford to maintain the woodland. I hope they will see the error of their ways.

On our return, we had  a long talk with John Honeyball, much family history and tales of local neighbourly disputes were divulged and I heard that Lady-Vendor visited recently. I wonder whether she paid a visit to Spring Cottage. If she did, I hope she didn’t find my upkeep wanting.

cat on the grass

cat sitting in the sunshine

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All the images enlarge if you click on them.

Looking through my pictures, I have just realised how often I have photographed the front garden from roughly this spot and how much it changes during the year.

I took the first picture in January 2009 when I first saw Spring Cottage and the garden is still full of Lady-Vendor’s stone ornaments. So, we have here Winter 2009 to Spring 2010.

It does strike me how much less manicured the garden looks in the last picture than in the first two or three. This is a testament to Nick, Lady-Vendor’s gardener, who used to come once a week for a whole day to keep the place in very good shape – not quite like now, with Lady-Gardener and me, who manage a couple of hours a week on it, so that it is has become rather rampant.

I never tire of looking at it and will probably continue taking pictures from here for years. My favourite picture is the one with my two hooded offspring on their first proper trip to Spring Cottage, who got straight out of bed and raced outside on a rainy morning for their first view of the garden in the light.

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Since the blog became public, I’ve been finding it harder to write anything and have gone visual in a big way. This is a shame because its whole point is that this is a record of my time down here.

There was a time when I would just go: “Blah, blah, blah. Went for a walk to Aisholt. Glorious day. Walked for three hours. It was hilly, very hilly. I saw cows and sheep.”

So, anyway, while I was out, I ate something growing by the side of the bridle path, which I thought was a redcurrant, then I spat it out because I wasn’t sure, and now I’m glad I did because it wasn’t one. But I don’t know what it was. There doesn’t seem to be a website with images of ‘things that look like redcurrants but will poison you’. So if I don’t come home, someone please tell them it was this (picture enlarges if you click on it, they all do):

The church in Aisholt is really pretty – I’ve been there twice already, according to the visitors book – they still haven’t changed the pen, which runs out before you can get to the end of your comment, so that it reads: ‘very peaceful, look forward to visiting aga so’.

Aisholt ChurchIt’s possibly one of the smallest churches I’ve ever seen, tucked down in the folds of the hills, not quite at the bottom of the valley but almost. At the bottom of the valley is a house that Wordsworth almost rented. It’s a pretty, white, thatched house with a stream at the bottom of the garden. But gloomy. No wonder he went off to the Lake District.

There’s also a farm in Aisholt that grows turf. This takes so much land. Grow it from seed, that’s what I say, and grow something we can eat in its place. Having said that, they have a pallet of turf rolls outside and an honesty box. And of course, I have bought some, because Lady-Vendor took her bird bath with her when she moved out and left a square of bare earth right bang in the middle of the path up the middle of the garden. I did try seed but it wasn’t very successful in the shade of the Japanese maple. So I will have to eat my words, or the turf, or something.

old lime kilnOh, and I found an old lime kiln by the side of the lane (this area is covered in them because of all the disused quarries round about – it’s where they used to process the limestone being dug out to extract the quicklime which was useful for farming and other things) and some rather sick trees. I wonder what’s wrong with them – sick treesI’ve seen this in other parts of the county as well.

And there was temptation in the form of a notice about springer spaniel puppies for sale. Not fair.

There, that wasn’t so difficult, was it? Or interesting. Oh well. This really is for me. Yes it is.

Postscript: jaw dropping moment – someone just walked past the house, on the field side. That never happens, never. (The maize has finally been harvested, so that I have my view back, which is nice.) But what is going on?

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Spring Cottage with the Honeytree ladies this weekend. The weather was wonderful, it was really nice to have company and we had a lovely time. It was the last weekend that we will have both girls with us before university – and another era – starts.

We drove to Watchet on Saturday, via lunch in an excellent pub/restaurant in Bicknoller (a find that I must remember), where there was an art exhibition as part of Somerset art week. I bought a giclee print by a local-ish artist in the show. Soon the cottage will have colour on its walls.

Followed by a quiet drink before supper at the Travellers’ Rest, which was quieter than I’ve ever seen it. I discovered that it doesn’t open until 7pm which is why I couldn’t go last weekend. What a clot! I felt a bit guilty that we didn’t eat there, but went home to have some delicious pasta made by one of my guests.

The silliest part of the weekend was when we were suddenly invaded by about seven pheasant in the garden. I’ve never seen so many of them, or such brazen ones, before. IMG_3072 pheasantI think they must have been attracted by the growing crop of ripening blackberries a the back of the house. I think they were juveniles as they didn’t have long tail feathers or female colouring.

We did mainly local walks from the house this weekend, up Broomfield Hill on Saturday, to get a sense of the locality and then over to Manor Farm on Sunday.IMG_3079walk

I am so lucky to have found such a wonderful place. The more I learn about my neighbours and the surrounding area, the more I like it. On our walk through Manor Farm, we met John Honeyball, whose details were given to me by Lady-Vendor way back in April. He was on his way back from church in his mobility vehicle with a trailer on the back with two lovely big dogs and offered us a lift. He is such a character  — I don’t mean that to sound patronising, he just is more colourful than ordinary mortals — beautifully got up in a tweed suit, waistcoat and bowler hat and possessed of a wonderful turn of phrase.)

He told us that he’d trained racehorses, which I already knew from the farm’s website which I’d been looking at when I was thinking of going riding, and that he’s been a master of hounds, which I am recording here for my holey memory’s sake. He showed us the way to the path that we were trying to follow through Manor Farm’s yard and explained a bit about the countryside stewardship scheme. The Rowes at Great Holwell do his hedge topping for him nowadays as he can no longer drive a tractor. Although very limber, he’s clearly quite elderly but very spry with quite a twinkle in his eye. I hope I get old like that. He reminded me of Granny and her siblings as I remember them during my childhood before they got decrepit.

It was very nice to work out more of how everything locally fits together. I get a very clear sense of how the immediate local area is split between these two farms more or less. The walk home along the path pretty much across the field opposite Spring Cottage, so now I know a short cut to the farm, if ever I need one. And can start a walk virtually over the road from the house.


Postscript 27 September 2010: a year later, I now know that Lady-Vendor owned a racehorse that was trained by John Honeyball in the 1980s. They clearly knew her well. I researched this after a slightly mystifying conversation while I was on a ride with Sue Honeyball. It doesn’t help that conversations on horseback are often over the shoulder… It’s fascinating to find out about people, it really is

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I realise that I haven’t blogged for a while. That’s because I’ve been so busy with everything. This weekend’s trip to Spring Cottage culminated with the construction of one bed and the other being in pieces with the headboard downstairs. I didn’t dare dismantle the spiral stairs but phoned Nick, Lady-Vendor’s gardener, to ask him how to do it. He gave me courage that it was possible and my heart returned to its proper place from my boots. I had seriously been thinking that I would have to saw the headboard in half horizontally to get it upstairs. It was wonderful to actually sleep on a mattress instead of on the floor. Aching hands though from all the hard gardening and carting things about.

I gave the painter an advance for materials, as he reckons he is going to start at the end of the week. I’d like to believe that this will actually be the case. As much as I’ve been enjoying setting it all up, it has been wearing me out somewhat, that all the weekends are just full of tasks and chores, and more and more shopping. Who would have thought you could get bored of that.

I finally made the inevitable visit to IKEA which I’ve been postponing for a month. Spent less than I thought I would but bought far more things. At least now I must be almost done with the essentials.

It was a beautiful weekend withHorses stunning skies and a light breeze. The field across the road had three beautiful, sleek horses in, instead of the usual ‘cow-boys’. They were really lovely and I took many pictures, one of which I will upload as this week’s picture, when I am in another place. The field is part of Manor Farm where they ‘do’ riding and seeing the beauty of the beasts has redoubled my intention to have lessons there when the house is sorted out. I felt sorry for them being out all night as they were all stacked closely together for warmth when I got up at 6.30 on Sunday morning. But I’m just being anthropomorphic and I’m sure they love a night in the dark cold.

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