Saturday, 31 October 2020

In the garden at the end of October - Six on Saturday

The Propagator under whose wings we shelter has been busy refurbishing his nest, but will still be keeping a beady eye on his brood.  You should see his sweetpea seedlings...

Another week of rain and wind, and having developed a mood of acceptance, find pleasure in the garden at the close of the month.  I have heard over and over how grasses are so wonderful this time of the year.  Apart from Hakonechloa and Phalaris, I have none with the lovely seedheads, and don't really have an urge to grown them here as the garden is so small.  I have enjoyed watching the waves created on other plants particularly the fuchsias which have arching flowering stems, and Salvia Amistad as they are buffeted by the gusts.

 (1) Orchid Coelogyne fimbriata

This little orchid is enjoying the rain. This plant comes from The Writhlington School Orchid Project, acquired when one of their students came to talk to our gardening club. Our Chairman bought the plant and I was delighted when Alison gave me a nicely rooted cutting a year or so back. It is my only little orchid and I ought to learn more about looking after it!  PS I put all the links in, so that at a later date I can come back, and find the posts or sources for further reading. Isn't it great that a school project has given many students a wide range of skills and knowledge through this project.  They have an Etsy selling outlet, and I may just be pointing a few people in that direction should they wonder what to get me for my Christmas present!

(2) It time again for planting garlic.  I was delighted with the success and harvest from growing garlic the first time this year.  The cloves are still firm and look like they will keep in good condition until I can use them up.  I have therefore selected the best plump cloves and planted them out.  Mr S found my marking each one with an old icelolly stick quite amusing, he now understands why I sometimes buy him a multipack of mini ice cream lollies!  I've been saving these for a few years, and really if I don't use them for something like this, I may as well throw them out. I use these to keep track of where I was planting for spacing etc., and no doubt will be checking on where those first green pointed garlic shoots emerge during the next few months.

(3)  'Fledgling' plants are enjoying the rain like this Geranium sanguineum 'Nana', newly planted a few months ago, and flowering for the first time.  Hurrah geraniums are not the go to plants for garden molluscs!

(4) Each good gardener deserves a rest sometime.  One of my favourite birds to watch from the conservatory is the Robin.  My grandma used to call it Robin redbreast, and I thought this was very strange and almost thought she was being funny using 'baby language' to big me at eight or nine years old.  Well just how wrong was I...leaning lots of interesting things about Robins from this book, including the use of the term Robin Redbreast.

(5) Every good gardener deserves good socks.  I'm starting some socks for a gardening friend, and I have some West Yorkshire Spinners yarn called 'Robin'.  A little bird told me I could sneak that in as  it is a 'rainy gardening day' activity! I have no greenhouse in which to potter.

(6)  Jo Hynes is coming  to talk at our Garden Club next month.  She has the National collection of cyclamen, and I have checked, and sadly she is not bringing any plants for sale.  

Ought I to get myself organized and pot some of these little seedling up to share? I've just noticed the two have different leaf shapes.  Yes I have some named varieties but these two  came from seed 'foraged' a few years ago.  If I had a woodland, I would have one half carpeted with hederifoliums, and the other half with coums, with a few patches for other springs bulbs.

Friday, 30 October 2020

Friday Bun Day - using creme pat in a bun for the first time

 Inspired by Weekend Bakery's Cherry and Almond Cream Buns, today being Friday Bun Day, I set to yesterday evening, and made a dough and WB's crème pat.  I used Bake with Jack's dough recipe for this breakfast fruit loaf, mainly as I like egg in an enriched dough which I had used before.  The two loaves made back in August were super successful..

I just love a bake with a crème pattissiere, but made a slight twist on the recipe as I forgot and added vanilla pod, before realising that I ought to have added the almond essence instead.  Since I also love pain aux raisins which I have never made either, I made a sort of pain aux raisins crossed with chelsea bun.  The raisins are some very large black flame raisins which I had on the shelf soaking in Marsala. I made the dough and filling last night, and the dough rose slowly overnight.

Mr S earlier on was disappointed that I was making 'custard' infused buns..not his favourite..but now we have had one, well I wasn't going to make him something different today, he LOVES them!


Wednesday, 28 October 2020

Somerset Rural Life Museum first time visit

 Mr S and I thoroughly enjoyed our two hours at the Somerset Rural Life Museum in Glastonbury.  We booked our slot and visited just before half term.  There is ample free parking at the rear of the Museum, with the entrance at the side of the great barn.

Outside in the 'farm yard' a farm horse in old iron stands strong and patient...'Punch' is a life sized sculpture by Artist Harriet Mead.

As a break we enjoyed a drink in the cafe, and how refreshing they had local apple juice!  

Lots to see, to read, and well worth revisiting with our annual passes...

Butter moulds...

my favourite...

The dairy industry and reputation of milk and cheese producers is without equal..."by 1950 Somerset had become the leading producer milk producer in England". 

The farmhouse kitchen set out as it would have been in the mid 1940's was filled with interesting pieces...and opened at just the right page for me, I have a Rhubarb and Fig preserve recipe!

And just as then, so we find Somerset people a friendly bunch, but not unpolished....

Monday, 26 October 2020

Cyclamen hederifolium in a Vase on Monday

As rain and wind set in this week, pottering around the garden will be isolated to a few sorties and a lull this morning allowed me to pick a few small blooms.  Cathy has gone 'Country Style' this week.  As we post we link in under comments, and hence can see what others are posting.

What drives one to collect?  Is it an innate quest to find the unusual, or just the quest for beauty?  I shall ponder this.  I've always collected as long as I can remember.  I don't hoard or feel compelled to keep to keep collections after my interest wanes.  My interest in cyclamen is still growing, so it was not surprising that I picked up a couple of cyclamen hederifolium with dark purple flowers, at the Rare Plant Fair at the Bishop's Palace this year.  

The dark purple cyclamen hederifolium make their debut on IAVOM today. The blooms are about two thirds the size of the other cyclamen flowers.

Other silver sword leaved and other hederifolium blooms join in too.

My smallest triangular glass vases, and a perfume bottle divested of its stopper is about the right size too for the miniature arrangements.

Sunday, 25 October 2020

Sunday morning walk to Split Rock Quarry - 25 October 2020

 This morning the clocks changed, and we decided on a compromise to get up three quarters of an hour earlier, which is a quarter of an hour later, relative to yesterday!  What amazed us that there were relatively few people out walking on such a lovely day.  I wanted to check out a turn off I wished I had tried on one of our recent walks to Wookey.

From home by going up Milton Lane reached Milton Hill.  I thought we were heading for Arthur's Point, but had not taken the map.  Had we followed the map and made for Milton Hill, we would have bypassed Split Rock Quarry.  What a little find.  Since arriving back I have, par hazard, found a link to a post by my U3A geology group. 

On the right hand side the Limestone is quite grey

On the other side layers of iron staining....

A path takes you through to the Eastern edge of the woods, with views towards Model Farm and their lovely orchard. As we retraced our steps, the autumn sunshine was stunning.

We then walked down Lime Kiln Lane

Then we walked down pass St Cuthbert's Paper Mill.  Back in September 2017, I was lucky enough to be taken on a tour of the Mills and see the world famous artist paper being made.

 then via roads and paths back home. Mr S made up lunch of doorstep cornbeef sandwiches which he had been hankering after.  On our walk, as we passed the mill and saw the lions he wondered whether the Lion there had been the symbol for his Lion Brand writing pad which he was given at the same time as his first fountain pen, when he was but a lad? Lions were used as symbols on all sorts of things 

Saturday, 24 October 2020

Covid Cardigan in Alpaca

 I remember knitting my first Trance Pattern up in red wool, and I am still wearing it over fourteen years later.  Trance is a knitting pattern by Kim Hargreaves that appeared in Rowan Magazine No 26, which I still have. With a nice stash of Alpaca yarn, I have others too, I checked the tension and that I had all the right needles etc.  It is finished now and is just finally drying off.

In the true spirit of using what one already has, I went through my button box and found some Fimo buttons which I had made at a workshop with Henlen Clues. I know they will last, as when I got back from the course, I sewed a button on the side of one of my hand knit socks, which I have worked out have been machine washed around 200 times. 

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Beyond 'standard' Babkas thanks to all those who inspire me

 I love the way that keeping in contact and sharing can widen one's horizons, and encourage one to step outside our comfort zones.  For several years I have been baking yeast doughs, then about ten years ago I got into sourdough. I love all types of yeast dough, having used fresh, dried, and wild yeasts.  Way back I met and became great friends with Vicki who used to bake for her artisan stall at Southwold, then I taught my friend Marie-Claire in Kenilworth to bake bread and to make preserves, then also in Kenilworth my friend Mandy who loves experimenting in the kitchen too, have all helped me enjoy and share my kitchen adventures.

Vickie introduced me to Bertinet, and various other great bakers and writers, on whose courses she had been on.  I am completely self taught, and enjoy absorbing and practicing techniques at home. Marie-Claire introduced me to Bake with Jack, and I have been following and enjoyed learning from him via his YouTube videos and blogs, and  Mandy suggested that I may find  Sourdough Bakers on Facebook, whose name has morphed to Wild Sourdough UK and Beyond, interesting.  

Last week after reading Joe Parke's details of his Babka on WSUB, I felt it was time for me to attempt a sweetened enriched sourdough.  

At the same time I wanted to try a 'filling' which Marie-Claire has used in some of her 'Chelsea Buns'.  So thanks to Marie-Claire, Mandy, and Joe Parke, my first Sourdough Babka is quite a success.  

The amusing thing is that I was completely unaware that Babka's had featured on GBBO recently.  It was  Marie-Claire who enlightened me after I emailed her with the Babka pictures as attachments with my rating of the filling she had sent me.  Now I understand the subtext to some of the comments on Joe Parke's post.  Joe is a professional working at Star Bistro, which is currently not open.  What a smashing place this looks, I wish them well and hope they open and are well supported as soon as safely possible.  With it not far from Cheltenham, I can just see that it would be lovely for Mr S and I to have a break in that area and drop in for a few meals at the Star Bistro.

Joe suggested I look up 'The Perfect Loaf'.  I happened on their post on how to make Ricotta, so out came the litre of raw buffalo milk from the freezer, and I have a cheese for a Pizza Blonde, another suggestion by an internet gardening friend Brian. The Whey is going in the dough, and also lunch time soup!

 Pizza Blonde about to go in the oven

Dinner is served!

Monday, 19 October 2020

In a Vase on Monday - Busy doing other things

 I'm later than usual: I've been busy doing other things.  Here is the quick arrangement of items I had picked yesterday. I am sure lots of others will have joined Cathy already. I've had a peep at Cathy's arrangement and I am charmed by her little prop this week.

On Sunday, Mr S came out really to start me off, on cutting back the variegated ivy growing on the side fence.   There was so much to cut back, just to make more room to move along the narrow path,   The Ivy had matured and sent up flowering stems, mainly on the sunny outer side.  Those have been left for the bees, and later no doubt the berries will be much needed winter food for the birds.  On the shady side they still have to be cut off so are the mainstay of the arrangement this week. White Solanum laxum album, and purple Salvia amistad complete the vase.  After posing here in the low autumn sun, they were made into a posy with raffia, and passed to one of our NHS heroes who lives in our close.

This morning I cycled into town to do our shopping,  when I had to complain to three people leaning across me in the supermarket, which made me hot and bothered. Its not as if there were many people, or that there was no room, surely if people are so hurried, they could ask one to move!

On a more successful note  I have been working on my first Sweet enriched sourdough.  Including the overnight fridge rest, these have taken about 42 hours from start to finish, and as I write this these beauties are on the cooling rack. Two different babkas one with date, orange and sesame seeds, and the other walnuts and spices, both with butter and sugar.  The little buns are samples!

Off now to have a cuppa and a sample.  

Saturday, 17 October 2020

In the Front Garden Mid October - Six on Saturday

It is always interesting to see what gardeners and plant enthusiasts are up to.  A band of us, and you too can join, come together under the Prop in this weekly meme: Six on Saturday. I love the humour too in some of the posts and this week Jon made me smile when he described being as excited by the pots as the plants when he bought some violas.

(1)  Last week Cathy asked about my Golden Lonicera.  I've had this plant and loved it for many years in each of my gardens.  It is very easy to propagate, and several of the shrubs here now, were simply bits put into the ground, under the shade of the first courgettes grown in this garden. I really have a surplus, with the potential of a couple of good ones being offered to local gardening friends.  I must get round to posting this on our gardening club Facebook page.  I just can't help myself from propagating, but I ought to curtail this, as I find them hard to consign surplus to the compost, and love to find good homes for them, which is not always so easy to do.

Here a few shrubs are placed alternatively with Geranium Magnificum, also a much divided plant. I love to shape the Lonicera, but it looks to be sporty a similar cut to not cut since early this year! The idea was to grow a low informal edge which would deter people from hoping across and taking a short cut across the lawn.  Now the lawn is gone and the area planted with shrubs, bulbs etc, it is even more important.

(2) Geranium robustum Silver Cloak: One of the new geraniums planted in the front is showing its first flower.  In my mind it will be resplendent next year. For now I am very happy with its finely divided silver grey leaves. I have not grown this one before and hope it is sufficiently hardy.  Thinking about this, I'll take a few cuttings later today.

(3) Again in the front, Iris Jane Phillips divided at the start of July has lost all its cut leaves and looks well on its way to getting ready to store up sufficient energy to provide me with my first blooms next year.  And one of those spare Lonicera just peeping in on the right hand side.  More Jane Phillips just along, spares too! 

(4) Tanacetum densum ssp amani aka Partridge Feather. Planted up earlier in the year in the front garden: another delicately cut velvety silver leaved foliage plant. I did have it in the back, but it got overshadowed and did not survive my moving it. I liked it so much I had to buy another!

(5) Not far away a silver leaved succulent, again moved from the back garden, is this little beauty. With its pale blue-green leaves it is one of those small plants that I can spot a mile.  About three years ago I spotted this in Alison's garden, it wasn't long before a small clump was established. It has yet to flower here, but again I hope it will next year.  Maybe it doesn't flower in this climate, but the rosettes alone of Rhodiola pachyclados sometimes known as Sedum pachyclados are fine by me.

(6) Just another little silver leaved plant in the garden?  Well it might as well join the Six on Saturday Front garden slot, since it is there.

Artemisia schmidtiana 'Nana' with its soft silvery extra finely dissected leaves, whose silky soft leaves beg to be stroked. Yes it is small, but I like it! When I saw that our Herb Lady in the market had this for sale a few months ago, I knew I had to have it.

Continuing with the greens

 I keep picking the small unmatured cucumbers, by this time I ought to ditch the plants, but they small cucumber are rather good in a stir fry.  The 'wild rocket' is grown from a tub of seeds given to me by my son last year.  We've been growing them in trays and cut them as large micro greens, but I think these planted out in the garden are rather less demanding of watering etc. Are those my best kitchen scissors I see? Tut tut, but I was rushing outside to pick a few leaves for lunch.

Thursday, 15 October 2020

Anniversaries and learning new things

 This week I joined some members of our WI to celebrate an anniversary. It is ten years since this group was formed.  I joined soon after we arrived here, having been a member of my local WI in Kenilworth, where I had met some great friends, and had been on some memorable adventures, and enjoyed the mall bookclub.   I learnt a lot at the Craft Group in particular with our then President Kay Pluse taking me beyond the sewing on of buttons, and repairing hems etc!

Quite a few activities had been planned to mark this tenth anniversary year, but with gatherings being out of the question, we had a Zoom celebration.  We were sent some cloth and invited to get ready! I can't say I was at all in the mood, sometimes I feel overcome with everything that is happening, but again I had my mother's voice in my head encouraging me to make an effort.  

With no instructions, I had to ask on the Whatsapp group: I was one of the few who did not get instructions, as they thought I would be able to sail through this.  People get the impression that I find things easy, how so?  Maybe I give off an outward optimism and confidence?  This is not put on, but I do find things difficult, and put things off.  I managed to get the flower done by 6pm...then I read the invite , and the little label, and then was reminded that a drink was to be prepared.  

I poured myself a large glass of Kombucha, and arranged my long piece of knitted Hemp lace, and attached the broch, found a lovely handmade vintage top, took a selfie and uploaded it to the group to say I was ready and prepared.

I obviously need to work on hair and makeup which is just a little more than lipstick, get the lighting and the pose right. I still have not been to the hairdresser for a haircut!

This year thanks to Members of Wells WI, I have learnt how to take part in Zoom meetings, started to use my mobile and uploaded WhatsApp, and for this party taken my first selfie, I think.  Then I managed to transfer the picture to my main computer...all small steps for most, a great step for me!

During times when quite honestly I could have curled up, excluded myself from the outside world, and just gardened, baked, gone for walks and cycle rides, I have learnt a few new tricks! Thanks for WIs and friends for keeping me going.

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Cheddar Gorge Walk

 It was a fine morning for a walk, so we set off in the car, parked in Cheddar, and chose the path along the north of gorge.  The first part was a deep valley, strew with stones.  Alongl the lower part of the walk there were tall sky reaching ash trees which were just starting to shed their leaves. With few people on the walk, we could easily move aside.  On one such stop, I looked side ways, and would have missed a little cave/shelter which we then went up to investigate.

Further up, there were views out to the levels across stone walls for as far as the eye could see, but we had further to go.

In the other direction green fields of the Mendips with hedges, and large tree clumps...

There were still a range of wild flowers to spot, but I didn't come across any of the Cheddar Pinks: here some of the patches of wild marjoram, but there were hair bells, scabious and yellow toadflax out in different patches.

We arrived at this sign post after a fairly long descent and there was something which attracted Mr S's attention: a  sleeper with the indent from where a three bolt chair had been fitted. At this point with all the uphill and down hills, our knees needed a rest.  I could hear the road close to on our right, and followed a path down to the road.

The scenery was quite spectacular, 

and we could hear goats and sheep calling.

So pleased that we took the road, and next time we shall walk on the other side, but come down the road again.  Three people on ropes help to give an idea of the scale of the cliffs.

Further along, we found a cafe with outside seating, and had a great lunch, before returning home.