Monday, 30 September 2013

Talking of bicycles....

Before we left for Yorkshire we were invited for drinks at The Hall in Bradford-on-Avon, which was the home of Dr Alex Moulton, the creator of  Moulton bicycles.  The Hall is an Elizabethan mansion, built around 1610 on an older building; some of the walls at the rear of the property are from the medieval period. The property was bought by the Moulton family in 1848 and the fancy renaissance south front was rebuilt in the 1850's. A number of stone fragments are now dotted about the garden.

Possibly a rather spooky place to wander around alone at dusk!

Something altogether more modern was on display on the terrace, an eye-wateringly expensive Moulton bicycle. It was surrounded by a small group of men looking like children in a sweet shop.
Come on, boys, get a grip!
Did we want to see the workshop? Yes, please!
It is housed in the stable block. Sadly, no photography was allowed, but I can tell you that  these state of the art, of the moment bicycles are created in the most old-fashioned, positively Dickensian environment. Some of the tools looked as though they had been made during the Industrial Revolution, others had been created or adapted in Heath-Robinson fashion. I loved it!
Back at the house I had a little wander around. Can you see the wall decoration?
Lovely murals depicting The Hall and it's occupants.

When we went home to our little cottage it seemed to have shrunk. But on the plus side it's cozy and warm and there's nothing scary in the garden!

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Allez Yorkshire!

We have been in the Yorkshire Dales for a catch-up with friends and to close down the bolthole for the winter. Next summer the Tour de France is coming to Yorkshire and we are already getting excited about it! The route is planned.
It takes a loop around our bolt hole and we are hoping to see plenty of the action. The only dilemma is where to place ourselves on the route. We are in Coverdale, conveniently placed for either the upward or downward run. In theory we could swoop from one site to the other but roads are going to be closed to traffic so it may be a case of a long wait in the car with a flask and sarnies at one of the tough uphill sections.
There are certainly some punishing hills in the Dales and I cycled a few of them in my youth on an old-fashioned three gear bike. I got off and pushed up the hills and flew down the other side in moments, rather terrified by the speed. There was much less traffic  to contend with fifty or so years ago.
The hills are a joy to walk, especially so in kind autumn weather.
A favourite circular walk from our village is up through the fields to the moorland

and then back along one of the old droving roads, known as 'green roads'

to the village below.

But at the start of the week the weather was cold so we went to Hawes and looked around the Dales Museum. They had recreated a kitchen that reminded me of my grandmother's. She had a range just like this one and cooked the most wonderful Yorkshire puddings in the coal heated oven! So many items in the room brought back memories.
 My jam pan is just the same.

It was interesting to read about the customs of the area, many of them still continuing to this day. Redmire feast day was being held during our stay and I intended going to see if they still played the game of  'wallops'. But when their Saint's day came it was such lovely weather that we chose to go walking in the hills instead.

After the museum we looked about the town and were given a very warm welcome from this fire in an antique shop.
But nothing was cooking!

Saturday, 14 September 2013


The minute my back is turned the courgettes turn themselves into thumping big marrows.
I've been dealing with plums all week, making jam and filling containers of cooked fruit for the freezer. I love Victoria plums and can't resist eating far too many of them as I cut out the stones.
The swiss chard looks beautiful in the garden glistening in the rain. It has cropped fantastically well.
It's just a pity that Himself has decided that he doesn't like the taste, "too earthy."  I've got rows of the stuff!
The squash have been harvested and put in the greenhouse for the skins to toughen.

The 'red cherry' tomatoes are still cropping. Their flavour is far superior to the other varieties that I've grown this year, I shall definitely grow them again next year.
'Roma' had a bit of blossom end rot
and 'Shirley' was tasteless.
But there's plenty of basil to brighten things up a bit.
And I'm nurturing a few cuttings brought home from our holiday.
There are still flowers to pick in the garden
for Jane's flowers in the house.

Friday, 13 September 2013

La Maddalena Archipelago

A boat trip on a sunny day is my idea of a perfect holiday outing.
We caught a tourist boat in Cannigione
and headed out of the Gulf of Arzachena to explore the the islands of the Maddalena Archipelago.

Our first stop was at the outlying island of Santa Maria. I struggle to keep my plumbago plant alive throughout the winter months but here it was growing all over the place in gay abandon!
We walked up towards the lighthouse to enjoy a view of the route that we had sailed.
There was time for a swim and then it was back on board and a short sail to a mooring and lunch on board - pasta for everyone. (There was a bit of a kerfuffle attaching to the buoy.)
After lunch we set sail for Spargi, landing by the beautiful beach of Cala Corsara. The Italian tourists went into the water no deeper than their waists and stood in groups to chat. The water was crystal clear,  the bay was empty of swimmers and not too wide - I would swim across it.
I was half way across the bay when a voice behind me called out, "Signora - Medusa!" A small boy in snorkelling gear, some way behind me, was waving and pointing into the water.
I thought for a moment, visualised Medusa's head with her writhing snake hair, did a straightforward translation into 'jellyfish' and headed for the shore!

White flowers were growing where the sandy beach merged into the dunes.

The rocks were beautiful and the plants growing in the crevices made the landscape resemble a Japanese garden.

We clambered up to explore the look-out
and found the remains of an old gun emplacement. 
The sea looked wonderful, and no signs of jellyfish!
Then it was a short sail to the main island and a mooch about the city of La Maddalena, where it seemed that almost every other shop was selling ice-cream. (So, what's a girl to do but eat one. And so many flavours, so hard to choose, better make it a double!)

Lovely flowers hung from the balconies.

Our last stop was offshore in deep, clear water, for those who wanted to dive in and swim around the boat.
Then it was back to Cannigione.
The end of a perfect outing. 
Apart from the medusa!