Tuesday, 31 August 2010

End of August


End of August and the bonfire smoke
climbs up the apple tree,
obscures the leaves and fruit
 and double masks the cloud-veiled, rounded moon.

Into the silence a dull apple thud.
and screech owl, calling, far away.
Twigs crackle
while the witch leans on her stick and smiles into the dark.
The moon, amazed,
stares at the sudden bonfire blaze
as cloud and smoke are gone.

Ten Good Reasons to Walk at Night.

First, you get to wear the invisible cloak
fitting better than through the day.
You can drift in the dark
or sit on a tussock
and mull over things.
Those pink rubber flutes, called ears,
are finely attuned
to the drop of a leaf,
the air's sigh,
the heart beat of a deer.
Sharp edges, that might do harm in daylight
are softened by shadows in the night.
There is flight from the mundane.
The sixth good reason
 is  the sense that comes over you in darkness,
call it a, 'sixth sense',
about how things were, and are and will be.
And seventh is the heaven on a clear night
of seeing bears, both great and small
and myriads of others with no name at all.
There is no traffic spoiling,
no noise of people toiling.
An owl may call you
when you walk at night,
moving quietly,
cloak-covered and complete.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Ponds and pools

I've been pootling in the garden pond, removing blanket weed. Every sweep of my net catches infant newts, so the process of cleaning weed and debris is a delicate one. We used to have a large and scary carp until last winter's freeze put paid to it. In the summer months it would leap out of the water catching insects, making the dog bark with a mixture of terror and annoyance - a bark that said, "just wait 'til I get you!" at the same time as, "don't come near me!"
Anyway, without the monster fish, the newts are obviously thriving and I expect to see them putting on displays of formation swimming any day now.
Any overflow from the pond feeds into the well, which in the past was the only supply of water to our cottage.

Every spring a pair of ducks attempt to build a nest at the pond edge but they are always given their marching orders by the dog.

There is a small water trough in the greenhouse, fitted with an electrically operated fountain. Unfortunately the hum of electricity is as loud as the tinkling water of the fountain, so I rarely put it on.

I keep the trough filled with rainwater from the outside butt, so it does serve a useful purpose.

Yesterday, before the rain set in, I walked to the pond in the wood. It is a beautifully tranquil spot, where you can sometimes catch a glimpse of a kingfisher. The dead fir tree on the central island has been removed and stakes support two newly planted trees.

The pond is very shallow and at this time of year the water is almost obscured by plant growth.

Thursday, 19 August 2010


I took my car for its forty-thousand mile service this week. It can be an expensive business. Not the car - it seems to be behaving itself quite well, but the garage is near to a large garden centre and a major service leaves a lot of time in which to be tempted. I had been sent a flyer in the post of the latest gardening offers, (they know a sucker when they see one). They were advertising a white tulip with fringed petals called 'Swan Wings', three packets for the price of two. Irresistible! 
 Everyone else must have thought the same because by the time I got there they had all been sold. I consoled myself a little in buying 'Madonna', white feather-petaled parrot tulips with streaks of green. But I am disappointed because I had already imagined a drift of swan wings across my garden next spring. 
I like a beautiful flower to have an equally beautiful name and I've resisted buying any number of lovely plants because their name seemed ugly or inappropriate. 

It's English summer weather today, dull, wet and windy. But I'm feeling quite smug because I harvested the onion crop while the sun was still shining. They are drying out nicely in trays in the greenhouse before being hung up and stored for winter. Some of the red onions had bolted so I chopped them up and cooked them with plenty of homegrown garlic and cherry tomatoes sprinkled with basil, to eat with pasta.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Late summer flowers

Although it is only mid August, it's already starting to feel like autumn, some flowers have finished blooming for the year and others are looking rather bedraggled. 

  The annual cosmos, 'Purity', as long as it is dead-headed, will flower all summer long. 

For someone who is not too fond of yellow there's still a lot of it about!

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Sunday lunch

This was the final day of the Bristol Balloon Fiesta, but it has been miserable weather for most of the week, with wind and rain. I had been hoping for a good drift of hot air balloons over the garden so that I could take some 'arty' photographs of round, floating forms above round plants and clipped, round bushes. Nice idea!

Three balloons came over fast and high - no good photographs for me, but exciting journeys for the occupants!

We went with friends  for Sunday lunch  at Angela and Alban's. (June posts.) The sun always seems to be shining when we visit their special house and garden, but this morning started dull and cool.

 On the way we passed a horse drawn caravan and by the time we arrived in their village the sun was out. 

All Angela's vegetables are home grown.

She made individual fruit tartlets with cinnamon pastry and creme patissiere.

Even better with cream!

To finish us off there was a chocolate roulade.

after which we all sat in the garden with no desire to move.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Blue onions

Fruit, glorious fruit, as Oliver Twist never sang. We know the damsons are ready when we hear them rolling down and bouncing off the garage roof. Himself has got out the ladder and a bucket and is on collection duty. The damsons are small and fiddly to stone so I tend to stew them whole before freezing. When it's just the two of us having a meal together we are happy to unceremoniously discard the stones into a dish as we eat. I don't serve them up for guests because I'm on my best behaviour when I'm entertaining; if I offer plums you can be sure that they will be laboriously stoned Victoria's!

We've had a sociable few days, starting with a birthday lunch, when I cooked a sea trout to accompany the garden produce. I served it on an oval platter that had belonged to my parents and been used on many happy occasions. The pattern is called, 'Blue Onion'.

It was designed by Johann Kaendler in 1739 and manufactured by Meissen in Germany. My platter was made in the potteries area of England, in Stoke on Trent, date unknown.
It is thought that the pattern was copied from a Chinese bowl, decorated with peaches and pomegranates, of the K'ang Hsi period. These fruits were unknown to the European makers, so they painted blue onions instead!