Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Perfect day.

What a wonderful day I've had! I got up at my normal 'silly oclock' to water the garden, to find that a gentle rain was doing it for me. The lawn looked totally shocked at the moisture landing on it and briefly put up a fight against absorbing any. Finally though, the rain did sink in as the grass gave a grateful glurp and accepted nourishment. I made a pot of tea and then wandered around the silent and cool house opening windows to let the in the damp breeze.

An hour later found me frantically packing lunch boxes and sending young ones off to buildings of education. And so I arrived at the field in time to see the rain clouds disperse and with them my mornings plans. A quick change about and I decided to seize the moment and take Toffee for a ride before the day either became too hot or too wet!

It was wonderfully cool under the trees as we set off and it seemed that many of our neighbours were out on foot, taking advantage of the break in the heat. As we plodded down the Beech Hill, which we call the Magic Road, I could hear something big and noisy coming towards us. It was a little alarming that we couldn't yet see it, as this meant that it must be very, very big! It came around the bend and was one of the biggest tractors I could ever hope to meet. All red and shiney with yellow swirly, spikey things for turning the hay. So here I am, halfway up a steep hill, with a steep bank on one side and a massive drop on the other. Did I mention that I ride bareback? Thankfully the driver must be aware of the fear his monster tractor inspires in horses and riders, as he stopped at a wide-ish part of the road. We approached and I urged Toffee forwards, not thinking for a second that he would scramble UP the steep bank! I managed to stop him and turn around but as he scrambled back down the bank, my legs were now around his neck and I was sitting almost in his mane! I hope the driver saw the funny side, I did afterwards. Once back on the road I dismounted and led Toffee past with no trouble at all, despite surprisingly wobbly legs, mine not his! I'd be lying if I said that getting back on was easy!

Finally we continued and our path took us up a steeply wooded incline, parallel to the road we'd come down. It was dreamily quiet, with just the birds rustling and twittering above us. Perfect, until Toffee decided that speed was the only way to proceed and as he took off I slid back and came to rest on his rump. Thank goodness he's a little fatty at the moment, otherwise I'd have shot off the end and probably rolled all the way back down the hill! We came to rest at a gap in the hedge overlooking a meadow and beyond that, Middle Earth. Every time I look at the view, my breath catches and I can see Hobbits and Elves and their homes. Today I saw Rivendell glittering in the far off sun.

Back home and Toffee gladly fell to munching his haynet as i took Merlin for a surprisingly uneventful walk! We simply mooched and hung out together, which was lovely :)

Then it was back home for a coffee and a roll stuffed to overflowing with salad, yum!

Saturday, 26 June 2010


It's been a crazy, mad week with lots of laughter and a few tears too, although mostly tears of exhaustion.

As I mentioned on the Studio blog, we've been cutting hay for the ponies. I cannot describe the exhaustion I've felt in this heat and I've barely worked at all compared to hubby, who has been slaving away at it until we've cut nearly an acre. How people managed in the past is just a reflection of how soft we've all become. Mind you, they did die a lot younger than us, haha! Unfortunately, after one particularly hard morning, I pulled a muscle in my thigh which then went into spasm. Imagine a cramp that lasted 24hours. I was in tears despite some very heavy painkillers. By the next morning it was beginning to ease off, but has left me with a very stiff hip and a pain in the butt!

In between all of this, I've been preparing for the Mad Hatters Tea Party which is hosted by Vanessa at A Fanciful Twist. It's been a lot of fun and the Moomin has been a great help and does make quite a sweet 'Alice'.

I have to say though, that I'm looking forward to a quiet week of my normal routine. Most mornings I'm up at 6am to water the garden and tend my growing vegetables. It's become a very soothing start to the day and I guard those moments jealously. Sometimes I'm joined by Arnie cat or sometimes Charm, our bunny as we all revel in the coolness before the day grows hot. The vegetable plot at the field has taken a back seat this year, as I've just not had enough hours in the day to handle it. I'm simply going to lay the unnused beds down to fertiliser and give myself a head start into next year. I do have a bed filled with beans and another for my leeks, plus the raised bed has cucumbers. On top of that the muck heap has sprouted various 'visitors' in the form of potatoes and something that may be squash that has grown from composted seeds! So even on a slack year, the field plot has a half decent yield.

Have a lovely weekend everyone and here's hoping this lovely weather continues, but a little rain would be very welcome :)

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Kitchen Witch!

I said I'd been busy this week, making, cooking and nurturing. It has been a lot of fun though and I think the best bit was taking my foraging basket and going with Moomin to raid the hedgerows.

We gathered nearly a basketful of elderflowers and along with some lemons from the shop we decided to make some elderflower cordial.

Arnie suggested I take the recipe from this book! Moomin needed some pringles to keep her going (to the right of the picture).

The recipe is:
24-32 elderflower heads
4 lemons
2oz citric acid
4lbs plain white sugar

Remove all of the flowers from the green stalks. Put the flowers, sliced lemons,citric acid and sugar into a big plastic bucket. Add a litre of boiling water and stir until all the sugar has dissolved. Keep the bucket covered and stir daily for 3-4 days, leaving the plastic spoon inside the bucket (not sure why, but I did it anyway).

Strain the liquid and then pour into clean bottles. I sterilise all my bottles and utensils as I think it's a good way to ensure the cordial keeps well.

It is thoroughly delicious served with tonic water and makes a nice squash with tap water. Not sure how long it will keep for, but I would think a couple of months in a cool place.

I also made some lemonade, which is a lot quicker to make. Squeeze the juice of four lemons onto 2lb of granulated sugar. Boil 2pints of water and pour onto the sugar and lemon juice. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and add 2 teaspoons of tartric acid. When cool pour the liquid into bottles and serve diluted with water.

With some more of the elderflowers I melted some shea butter and coco butter in a bowl over boiling water. Added the flower heads and a large splash of comfrey infused oil (which I made last year). After about 15mins I removed the bowl from the heat and when cool enough to handle I drained the oil from the flowers. I added a few drops of benzoin which has a lovely scent and acts as a preservative then poured the mixture into sterilised make up pots. This is a beautiful, healing handcream and is great for chapped hands and cracked heels.

I also made a fruit cake - it was scrummy :)

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Turn and turn about.

Just lately I've had some major disappointments, mostly regarding my art and the direction I was hoping it would take. It's knocked me back, I'll be honest. But like most life lessons, I've taken what I needed to learn and have moved on. It's funny, therefore, that last week I was visited by these two beautiful creatures.

(please excuse the shocking windows!)

Moths and butterflies are symbolic of growth and change - transformation.

I've taken a little time to reflect and think about my life and how it affects those around me. My focus has therefore been on my home and family this week. On caring for those who are always there for me and who rely on me to be there for them. I've been baking and nuturing and have now found the peace I need, that we all need, to live a full life. I'm not sure how long it will last before my workaholic muse sends me chasing my tail again. But for now I'm living in the moment, mindful of each task and doing it well :)

I suppose I'm trying to say that it's good to look for yourself and your true North, but sometimes along the way it's easy to be chasing so many paths that MAY lead North - or not at all!
The Romanies have an expression which amounts to this
'A man cannot ride two ponies with just one butt'

Monday, 14 June 2010


It's a post about birds - my chickens and me, haha!

I went to visit a friend last Friday, who happens to be a breeder of rare poultry. She also breeds hybrids and knew that I'd been after a black rock for quite some time. She dangled the carrot and obediently I ran to view them. I was actually very restrained and only came away with two, despite many of the other wonderful offers she made me. One such offer was of a broody Maran who was constantly hatching any egg that was offered. The result being a brood of mixed origins who would accompany mama hen. I'm still very tempted and have a couple of weeks to make my mind up! One of the chicks is a Poland, which the Moomin is desperate to own, so I'm under pressure! She also wants to start a business hatching quail so broody hen would be useful for that too.

So I'm pleased to introduce Tiger Lilly (the black rock) and Oona (silver sussex). These are easily the fanciest and most expensive hens that I've ever owned and I love them to bits. Mabel is really put out and even gentle Lottie is being mean to the pretty girls. I hope they settle soon, cos jealousy is such an ugly emotion!

And last bird picture is of me in my fancy dress costume for School last week. The occassion was Egyptian Day and I really couldn't throw together anything suitable or even that I would want to wear. As it turned out there were at least 30 Cleopatra's in any case!
So what am I wearing? My best steampunk costume in an attempt to be Howard Carter's assistant/wife! It was a fun day and as there were two Howard Carter's I didn't feel too odd, but Moomin totally disowned me, and one child asked if I'd been riding my horse, hahaha!

Friday, 11 June 2010

Where have I been?

Actually, no where, haha! I think I've been suffering from an extreme bout of tiredness as everything seems to be soooo hard to do, even finding words for my blog has been an effort. I have absolutely no energy at the moment and my limbs feel so heavy. I think maybe I was doing too much and trying to fit everything in has taken it's toll. Last week was spent catching up on housework and trying to finish some art work and I've not achieved much else. A few days of rest are needed, and then next week, slowly get back into my routine.

The weather change has been a blessing, as it means I can spend a little time inside and play around with some sketches and sculptures. Although, that still sounds a little like work, I know, but at least it's not hard manual labour :) I've been telling a lot of people lately to take time out and be kind to themselves, but I've not been taking my own advice! So instead of going to the market and giving myself a day of preserving to deal with, I'm just going to feed the ponies, then come home and be peaceful.

I'm going to take a leaf out of the hens book, and mooch around. Sounds like a good plan to me :)