Friday, 21 February 2014

Skywatch Friday

Just when I thought that a grey, rain-soaked sky was not worth a photograph the rain stopped, the sun shone, briefly, and even more briefly than that a rainbow appeared. Good job it was Skywatch Friday and I was keeping my eyes open!
I didn't venture from the house, I wasn't going to get wet.

And while I was looking skyward I photographed some blossom in front of the walnut tree.
I'm linking up with Skywatch Friday to look at skies where it's not raining all the time!

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Where I live

I live in a gamekeeper's house in a small hamlet that was formerly occupied solely by estate workers for the 'big house'. Everyone had their specific role, water bailiff, farm hand and so forth. Those days are long gone and the houses are now privately owned. The 'big house' is a hotel under new ownership, in the process of being refurbished.
Here is a photograph of the gamekeeper who used to live in our house. The farmer down the road has a shepherd's hut in his field, I don't know if it's the one that's in this photograph. They are now very desirable structures and sell for ridiculous prices. (It would be nice to own one!)
This is how the hamlet looked in the 1970's when the estate had been newly sold. It looks very workaday with the hedges cut low and new building work still quite raw. The barns and outbuildings of the home farm had been developed into separate dwellings.
By the end of the century trees and shrubs had softened the area.
This is our home before the greenhouse was built on the south side of the house and before the garage rebuild.
And this is how it was looking last September. There are solar panels on the roof to provide electricity for the air source heat pump - our attempt at going green. The greenhouse is out of sight, hidden by the shadow of the neighbouring cedar trees. All the cottages have wells in their gardens, dating from the time when there was no water supply to the village. We remain without street lighting, for which we are all thankful as it means that we can see the stars!

Monday, 17 February 2014

Shepherds' Delight.

"Red sky at night, shepherds' delight.
Red sky in the morning, shepherds' warning."
On Saturday evening the sky gave a brief but wonderful display of colour. And the old saying was correct because on Sunday, after weeks of rain, it was dry and the sun shone, ALL DAY!!!
I put on everything electrical to make the most of our solar energy - washing machine, dishwasher, dough hook bashing some bread in the Kenwood machine,  and I did a bit of ironing.
Today it's raining, the light level is abysmal. Yes, abysmal, that's the only word for it.
If you're living somewhere warm and sunny can I come and live with you?
Joining up with my little home and garden for her Sunlit Sunday.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Flowers in the house

Tiny winter posies are so reassuring. Snowdrops must be tough as old boots to survive in this weather. They are out there in the garden carpeting the ground. I've brought a few stalks into the house and here they are looking pristine and delicate. I don't know how they do it!
The regular houseplants are also performing well.
This orchid has been flowering for years. I ignore it for weeks and then soak it in tepid rain water, drain off and leave it dry for another long while.
I'm giving it's tiny companion the same rough treatment and it seems to be responding well. This is its second spray of flowers.
The white roses are STILL flowering, the free pot of daffodils coming into bloom and, oh, just smell the hyacinth!
Hearts in various forms are creeping into the house,  Valentine's Day coming soon!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

What's cooking?

Mmmm, looks promising! What am I cooking?
Soil. I took a look at my pots of auriculas and they looked SICK. Oh dear, let me guess. I knocked one out of it's pot and there they were, those horrible, fat, white vine weevil grubs chewing away at the roots. I've got dozens of plants and every one of them will need to be re-potted. I've scrubbed the pots and I'm using a fresh mix of John Innes compost. I'm sterilising batches of the used soil in a battered old baking tray in the Aga - those weevil grubs are dead meat!
A couple of dozen plants treated, and a great many more to go!
A friend came round with a brace of pheasant. They had been hanging for over a week so I was able to do some rather more conventional cooking.
They taste good but careful chewing is required in case of lead shot!
We are skulking in the house because the weather outside is fearful. We drive a 4x4 so the flooded roads are not, as yet, proving a problem. On a quick dash to the shops for provisions I cheered myself up with a bouquet of white roses. £2 from Lidl and they are behaving beautifully. They were in tight bud when bought but just look at them now! I can remember when flowers in the middle of winter were incredibly expensive and you had to pay £2 for just one bloom.

 I was given a tiny pot of daffodils at the garden centre whilst buying the John Innes compost. They are sitting on the kitchen table with the hyacinths that I planted before Christmas and they remind me that spring IS coming - but not yet!

The rain stopped and the sun shone, just for a little while, making everything look a great deal more cheerful.

But now it's back to battering winds and driving rain. We are thankful that our home is warm and dry and the electricity still working. But candles are at the ready and the wood pile well stocked!