Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Settling down

The last week or so has been a busy and emotional time with our eldest leaving home for university at the weekend. The week before was filled with shopping, packing and going out with his friends and then on Saturday everything was packed into the car and off we went.

When we arrived, the whole campus was swarming with people all unloading cars and carrying boxes of stuff into flats. It was busy but well organised and with four of us to help, he soon had everything in his room. After a trip to the supermarket to stock his kitchen cupboard, we had a walk around the campus and then left him to his unpacking.

Such an empty feeling, driving away and leaving him. It was very quiet in the car and we decided to stop for a coffee almost immediately. Somehow we needed to pause for a moment before driving home.

He has been away for a few days now and we have had enthusiastic phone calls, all is going well.

It feels strange to think that he now lives away from us but with mobile phones and email its easy to keep in touch and of course knowing that he is enjoying himself makes it all that much easier.

The photographs were taken on my walk on Sunday, lovely quiet late summer weather, perfect for a slow thoughtful walk.

Saturday, 19 September 2009


Chilli con carne

and Eton Mess

two favourite foods chosen by and made especially for a boy who this time next week will be preparing his first meal away from home at university.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009


I love collecting conkers. There are horse chestnut trees planted in our local station car park and this afternoon while waiting to meet the train I enjoyed rummaging in the undergrowth finding a few conkers.

I like prising open the shell and seeing a fresh shiny conker or two. I collected a couple of handfuls to admire for a few days. When they lose their sheen and start to dry out I will be using them as moth deterrents replacing last years conkers with these fresh new ones.

Opinions are divided as to whether they really work as a deterrent or if its just a nice tradition but has no real effect. I don't mind really, I've been putting conkers in amongst my woollen jumpers and cardigans for years now and even if it has no benefit at all, it can't do any harm can it.

Monday, 14 September 2009

A day in my life

My day in my life this month has been a very slow day as I am still under the weather from a cold/flu bug. It started last Wednesday with a sore throat and since then I seem to have worked my way through a complete list of cold symptoms. I am now left with a constant cough and no energy hence the slow day.

Like our chickens, I have divided my day into periods of activity followed by periods of just sitting!

It was a good washing day today so all the beds were stripped and the sheets dried in the breeze.

The leaves have started to fall from the oak trees, the same colour as the feathers from a moulting chicken.

It has been a good year for apples. I am coming to the end of the Discovery eating apples on my dwarf tree but there are some good sized fruit on the Bramley.

I picked four apples and our pudding tonight was baked apples stuffed with raisins and pecans, perfect comfort food.

I made a short trip to the allotment. I hadn't been there for a week but at this time of the year I can get away with giving it less attention. I didn't have the energy to do any gardening but came home with a couple of courgettes, a few french beans and some lambs lettuce.

Back home for another rest in the garden before cooking dinner, easy food, a fish crumble using tinned salmon with the allotment vegetables and then the baked apples.

This evening I've been resting again (really getting fed up with my lack of energy now) and knitting. My current knitting is not very exciting, dishcloths, but simple knitting is about right for my slightly foggy brain at the moment!

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Shopping and memories

With the new school term started and the days getting shorter its been feeling very autumnal and then suddenly today we were back to summer with a really hot sunny day.

When we woke up it was drizzling so a shopping trip to buy all the bits and pieces needed for university seemed a good idea. By the time we had found the cheapest kitchen stuff (if you are in the same position Wilkinsons is very good) the weather had changed and the sun shone in a cloudless blue sky. We finished shopping, bought sandwiches and stopped for a picnic on the way home.

The Vyne is our nearest National Trust property. When we moved into our house, our eldest was eleven months and crawling everywhere. As our house was newly built the garden was just soil and builders debris so there was nowhere for him to crawl outside. That first summer we spent many afternoons here, I brought a blanket and some toys and we set up camp in the shade of a tree. How quickly the time has passed.

We walked round the grounds, through the gardens, beside the lake and through the woods following the same route we have taken so many times before. We even stopped to look for conkers under the tree that we searched under every year when the boys were younger and conker collection was an important event.

Its amazing how many memories are tied up in a place visited over many years, especially as children take in so many details and remember things adults are too busy to notice.

It was a lovely day, a bonus day really because we didn't expect the sunny summer weather and when we set of this morning we were just going shopping but then the day turned into a summer picnic and a pleasant trip down memory lane.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Autumn colours

The autumn colours are just starting to appear in the garden. The leaves on the grape vine are always some of the first to turn. The grapes are darkening but they are still sour, a few more days of sunshine needed. I will know when they are sweeter because the birds will start to eat them!

Less flowers in bloom now but the nasturtiums and geraniums are still going strong

and coordinate nicely with the tomatoes. These have been slow to ripen this year and there will be plenty of green ones for chutney.

The crab apples are ripe and I've picked most of them, about three washing up bowls full! The crab apple tree was one of the first things I bought for this garden when we moved in eighteen years ago. It is still quite a small tree but over those eighteen years I must have picked many pounds of fruit.

The apples have been stewed and are now in the jelly bag, by tomorrow morning there will be a lovely jug full of pink-orange juice. I make jam adding a pound of sugar to a pint of juice. I always use the traditional pound to a pint ratio when working out how much sugar to use, its easy to remember and its nice to think that generations of jam makers have done the same. I wonder if it will survive when the next generation uses metric measurements, 454g of sugar to 0.568 litres doesn't have quite the same ring to it!

Tomorrows jam will be blackberry and apple jelly. I picked blackberries after work tonight. It was a perfect way to wind down after a busy couple of days. Tomorrow I will cook them and filter the juice to add to the crab apple juice. Its a very easy jam to make, the crab apples have loads of pectin so setting is not a problem.

I love jam and chutney making, preserving some of the autumn colours through the winter.