Archive for June, 2010


Well, our broody hens finally produced some chicks. We don’t keep a cockerel so we got some eggs from someone who did, and put them under the hens. Of the three, two are wonderful mothers. Ada, the white hen, is a bit vicious to the chicks that aren’t hers, but very loving of her own. Audrey, the brown hen, is gorgeous and wants to be mother to every single chick. Josephine, the speckledy, hatched one chick and promptly kicked it out of the nest. And then swanned off as though nothing had happened. I suppose even in other species there are those who wouldn’t opt for motherhood… The poorly chick is under a heat lamp in the kitchen, and seems to be doing well, apart from having a bad leg. We hope to persuade Audrey to foster it in due course.

Anyway, Mr SowandSew spent the weekend building the Hilton of henhouses, and the two mums and their broods have moved in. But enough of that – I know you’ll want to see pictures!

Here’s Ada with her babies:

And Audrey with hers:

And here’s Mr SowandSew holding two of the little fluffballs:

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Elderflower harvest

Yesterday we harvested some elderflower to make cordial. We love elderflower cordial in this house, but we can’t afford to drink as much of it as we’d like at £3 for a small bottle. And as we have a lot of elder trees, it seems too good to waste. So yesterday afternoon, while the sun was shining on it, we picked 140 heads of elderflower, and yesterday evening I chopped sixteen lemons and boiled seven litres of water and tipped in a tub of citric acid and … rather a lot of sugar. The whole lot is sitting macerating in a big plastic jerry can at the moment, so in a few days we’ll filter it, and then two days after that we’ll bottle it. So, not a quick process, but once the picking is done, hardly a labour intensive one – and the results are more than worth it.

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A single flower he sent me, since we met.
All tenderly his messenger he chose;
Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet–
One perfect rose.

I knew the language of the floweret;
“My fragile leaves,” it said, “his heart enclose.”
Love long has taken for his amulet
One perfect rose.

Why is it no one ever sent me yet
One perfect limousine, do you suppose?
Ah no, it’s always just my luck to get
One perfect rose.

Dorothy Parker

The first roses are blooming in my garden (we’re about a month behind the rest of the country here) and I have to say, I don’t think a limousine would make me any happier. They are, from top to bottom, Gertrude Jekyll, a wild rambling rose and Queen of Sweden. The first and last are by David Austin, and I really rate his roses. The Gertrude Jekyll smells as velvety and intense as it looks, and the Queen of Sweden is simply covered in buds.

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The Little Boy’s birthday was a while ago now, but on the day, I couldn’t find my camera, so borrowed someone else’s to take pictures. I’ve only just retrieved my photos, so I can now share with you my first attempt at cake decoration that involved piping.

It is meant to be a drum (although this wasn’t immediately obvious to everyone, ho hum) and it was a simple sponge cake layered with jam and buttercream, with glace icing on top, and buttercream on the sides. I don’t want to think about the amount of red dye I needed to get the icing that colour… The chocolate buttercream stripes were piped on (and I learned that trying to pipe in a straight line the day after tricep dips at Pilates is Not Easy) as was the writing on the top. The cake went down very well, despite the lurid icing, not just with little folk, but with adults as well.

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On Friday, we took a little day trip. Some friends were en route to their holiday in Snowdonia, so we met them halfway at Welshpool. We started off at the Dingle, a lovely garden and nursery. I was very good and didn’t buy any plants (I have too many waiting forlornly in containers while I decide what to do with them) but we had a lovely walk around the gardens and I took lots of pictures. It is an amazing space, not least because it is comparatively small, and on a steep slope, and yet it feels spacious and the planting is lovely. It is mainly shrubs, but the many little paths take you to lovely prospects, cute little bridges and shelters, and interesting specimen plants.

I love paeonies, and this one, ‘Bowl of Beauty‘ is a stunner.

There had been some rain, so I was able to indulge my habit of taking photos of water on leaves, in this case, a rather splendid hosta.

The occasional splashes of colour in among the many shades of green could be quite startling:

I loved the colour of these poppies.


This was some of the planting by the lake:

And one of the little paths:

After a picnic lunch, my friend and I left our children with our husbands and took ourselves off to the Colinette mill, and more importantly, the sale room. I do not need any yarn. I have alluded many times in this blog to my extensive yarn stash. But I defy any knitter, however steely of resolve, to come out of the millshop empty handed. I adore Colinette’s colours – each yarn is available in solids, heathered semi-solids and the most amazing variagated colourways – and a shop full of the stuff is just amazing. Better yet, there’s a room full of yarn which is discounted – in some cases heavily so.


This is some of what somehow found its way into my basket – I have a project in mind and I’m quite excited by it.

I now have to do a lot of knitting and whittle down my stash in order to justify another visit…

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We recently realised we needed a new room for the Little Girl, so we divided my old office (which was huge) in two. This gave me a smaller office and a her little bedroom. The Little Girl has definite ideas about colour and style – actually, she has definite ideas about most things – and selected a shade called ‘Sugared Lilac’ for her bedroom. As our house is old and timber-framed, we have to be careful about the paint we use on the walls, so the lilac paint could only go on the new dividing walls. I didn’t want to faff with fancy paint on the other walls, so I got a stencil and used some of the leftover paint to decorate the other two walls. It was ludicrously easy and I am very pleased with the effect. Some cheapish lilac bedding, a bargainous curtain and a truly hideous lampshade (my concession to the two-year-old aesthetic – she saw it in a shop and loved it so much) and we were there. We put it all together this afternoon and did the grand unveiling. It was fair to say she loved it. My bedtime-phobic daughter climbed into her bed and told us ‘I goin-a sleep in my purple bedjrum’. At five thirty in the afternoon. She was only persuaded downstairs with the promise of ice cream.

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We have one, sole, solitary azalea, but as the soil here is quite acid, they do very well, and our neighbours have lots. So, I’ve been around photographing them – partly because they’re pretty, and partly so I know which ones to beg cuttings from later in the year…

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