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Showing posts from April, 2009

Garden update

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"That's not going to sell the house," said my OH, after looking at my last blog post on the garden. Well, I suppose he has a point. The garden is looking a bit better now: I'd like to say this is entirely and absolutely by our own now blistered hands, but stuff just growing and hiding other stuff that shouldn't be there has had quite a bit to do with it too.

Not that the house is for sale: after the estate agent's visit (your chimneys, your pointing, your acros, your fencing..... oh yes, we know, we know), we're still here and likely to be for a bit.

Some views of the garden - alas not all - make it look quite good, and this is one.



and another:






The dog is stealing a pear which I had hoped the birds would eat. The very dead thing you can see below is our curry plant, which is alas showing no signs of life at all, which is a real shame as it was a lovely plant, with silvery-blue foliage through most of the year.




Deserted flower pot still there, you'll n…

Pigeons

I have become a bit obsessive of late. Every time I trot backwards and forwards through the garden, great fat pigeons hurtle out of the shrubbery and fly away in a panic, en route to my vegetable patch. Everytime I go up to the hens even fatter pigeons hurtle out from where they have been filching the hens' food.

Ha.


Hobgoblin nor foul fiend

No this isn't (cheap shot coming) another post about teenagers. I was in church on Sunday and we sang He Who Would Valiant Be. This is a hymn I have not sung for years, but I was pretty certain I remembered it from my childhood.

Well, I sort of did: what I actually remembered, I found out in a bit of post-church research, after being thoroughly confused by the complete absence of the hobgoblins and foul fiends I was convinced should have been there, was the original by John Bunyan: Who Would True Valour See, rather a different beast to the 1906 version by Percy Dearmer which is all we're now allowed. The two different versions are given here.

This disconnect between what I think should be there and what actually is happens quite often. "Oh good," I think, as the organ starts the next hymn. And off I launch, only to find that as I am often singing from memory, I'm not singing quite what I am now supposed to. Complete Anglican Hymns Old and New, which is the hymnbo…

Revenge by teenager

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I don't know what made me pick this book up, but I'm very glad I did. Mrs Fytton's Country Life, by Mavis Cheek is one of the best things I've read in ages.



It is about Angela Fytton, who married young, and dedicated her life to raising her family, and working with her husband to develop his business, waiting only for the point when the children left and they could enjoy being with each other. However, Ian Fytton had other ideas, and left her for Binnie, a dentist who provided him with a baby. The book opens with Angela's negotiations as she moves out of London and into the country. She has a misty, romantic vision of country life and the Dignity of Honest Toil, but beneath all that is a cast iron determination to get her husband back. Her teenagers are 17 and 18, and she knows perfectly well the last thing they will want to do is move out of London to live with her, stuck out in the middle of nowhere. So where will her little darlings go? To live with her husband,…

Alison Hart's Shadow Horse - the Sequel!

You might remember I waffled on about how much I enjoyed this book, but what a pity it was there was no sequel. Well, Alison Hart has emailed me, and there will be one in 2010. It will be called Whirlwind, and will be published by Random House. Can't wait! I think pony and horse book fans are very lucky: unlike the fan of the school story, which is pretty much moribund in its traditional format, horse books keep being published.

Foggy morning walk

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This actually happened on Tuesday. I haven't been on this walk for a week, and the crop (whatever it is) has shot up. It's well past my waist now.




I love this time of year with all the different wild flowers. Jack-in-the-hedge is below (which I know has lots of other names but I can't remember even one other at the moment)

Daisies not yet awake:

I was born in Bedfordshire, where we called this Cow parsley. In Northants, it's Kek. I do know it's also called Queen Anne's Lace, but I've never actually heard anyone call it that.

Elderflower just starting to sprout. Elder is supposed to be such a wonderful tree you are not supposed to cut it down. When we moved here, the garden was full of self-set elder, and we cut it all down. Er hum. Perhaps that might explain the dicey state of our chimneys; the parlous condition of our pointing, or the acros which have been faithfully propping up the cow byre for the last 10 years. Or perhaps not. Anyway, I am not nor…

New hens

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A couple of weeks ago I went out to buy feed at Dodson and Horrell. When I drove up, what should they have but a poultry event. I couldn't of course, walk by the hens and ducks on display without having a jolly good look, but I was strong. I didn't buy anything. Then. But I went back the next day and bought myself an early birthday present: two point of lay Black Rocks. They are hardy hybrids who are supposed to be able to cope with cold, and bearing in mind our field is always windy, and in winter is positively Arctic, they seemed a sensible choice.


I got them home and fetched daughter to name one (had already decided on the drive back that one would be Black Bess - she's below).



The hens erupted out of the carrier into the stable, and Miranda promptly named the other one Tiger.




And what a prophetic name that was. Poor Scrabbles, my head hen, has been demoted. Tiger is now top of the pecking order. She's more likely to jump on the others that stop fights, but Scrabble…

The Garden...

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This is the hell hole that is our garden (actually it would be more accurate to say was, as we've pulled our socks up a bit and Tackled the Horror). Still, you might as well see what happens to a garden when you don't do anything to it for months other than race through it at a rate of knots Not Looking.

You can just see, on the right hand border below, a small blob of white, which is a carrier bag that has been there since before Christmas.


The back garden. This photo is just dull, and I have still managed to avoid showing you a close up of the beds.

But not here. Not good, is it?


I do think a toppled over watering can does ornament a garden so.




This next bit is particularly awful. I do usually make an attempt at getting in amongst this lot as because the church doesn't have a kitchen, ours is handy (being next door) so we use the front for tables and chairs during church events. There wasn't one last year, so I had a cast iron excuse for doing nothing, and nothing …

Morning walk - bit of a catch up

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This is actually a walk I did a few weeks ago. I've developed tinnitus, which is a tad annoying. I've been trying to cut down on overworking to see if it makes any difference, so haven't done much with the blog. Did rather fancy the idea of reclining on the sofa, hand to my pale brow, saying "No, I must not work. My health will not stand it," in a fading, Dame aux Camellias way, but it's not to be. Working, or not, seems to make not one jot of difference, though the tinnitus is a lot worse if I am tired.

Still, back to the walk. There was a sort of blue light about that morning:







A huge treat to see these violets, which are all along the path. I love violets, though curse the bright idea I had a few years ago to plant them next to our gravel path, as I've spent every spring since then picking hundreds of seedlings out of the gravel.


I love the leaves of the Lords and Ladies once they've gone spotty.



I have a feeling this is sloe blossom, but I'm not su…

Amazon and the books that don't exist.

Another little problem on Amazon. Click here to read more.

Pippa Funnell: Tilly's Pony Tails

Pippa Funnell: Magic Spirit (Tilly's Pony Tails 1)
Orion, £4.99

Publication date: May 2009

I have huge admiration for Pippa Funnell as a rider, and whenever I’ve seen her interviewed, or read anything about her, she always comes across as a the sort of person that if you lent a book to, she’d give it back (could there be higher praise?)

The children’s book market has its fair share of celebrity writers: Madonna, Geri Haliwell, and of course when it comes to pony books, Katie Price. Publishers like to publish what sells: it does, after all, keep them in business, and in our celeb –obsessed culture, a famous name on a book will often guarantee sales, whatever the quality.

So, I approached the first in Pippa Funnell’s Tilly’s Pony Tails series – Magic Spirit - with a bit of trepidation. I liked it. It does, thank the Lord, steer clear of the magical, which is something most pony book authors can’t cope with, and sticks with a thoroughly likeable heroine and good, solid, fact. The boo…

The very hens in your flock are all numbered

Well, they're not at the moment, but if Defra has its clunking way they soon will be. I was reading The Times last night and lurking in the news found the nugget that Defra are proposing "that anyone owning a cow, pig, sheep or chicken will... have to pay compulsory insurance to cover costs in case of an outbreak of disease, and be forced to pay a separate levy to cover the costs of disease research and surveillance."

My heart beyond sank when I read this. I already have huge wodges of forms to wade through each year to claim our payment for our land, and I simply cannot believe that this new effort will not cost more to collect than it will raise. It will of course need a new computer system (and we all know how wonderfully well the government does with those - the new health service system, anyone? Has there actually been even one computer system the Government's commissioned that has not cost at least double what it was originally supposed to?)

One of the bel…