Saturday 6 October 2012

Red Red Wine and White White Bread

Autumn drawers on, and lovely and warm they are too!

My ventures across the paddock in fetching check boxer shorts and slippers are finished for the year as the temperatures start to drop, not only that I don't fancy going in with the pigs with my nether regions so exposed to an inquisitive cold wet muddy snout!

It's supposed to drop to 4c tonight and I am wondering when the first frost will hit, not that I'm bothered really, the poly tunnel is stocked with fairly hardy stuff and the vulnerable stuff in the garden has been harvested or eaten by my beautiful small assistant or the ducks, chickens, goats and when they can get out the sheep!

So its the time for preserving, baking, freezing and brewing.

We have a ever increasing stock of pickles, purees, pickled eggs, pickled fruit, mincemeat for the pies at Christmas and some amazing marow jam.  Not to mention the cheese, ice cream and other goodies that Nanny Southwellski keeps putting on the shelves and in the freezer with great regularity.

My contribution this year has been the fruit juices (these lasted almost a week, it was hardly worth putting the lids on the bottles), wines, beers and medicines for the coming dark months.

Berry berry nice!
As I write, I am waiting for the elderberries that are steeping in boiled water to cool down to a manageable temperature before in gets strained and put into the demi-john for the first fermentation.

Never made Elderberry wine before so this is new ground for me,  I am using the River Cottage recipe and methods so basically juice the berries, about 1.5kg to 1.8kg for a gallon of wine, by covering them with 4 pints of boiling water and then mashing them with a potato masher.

Taking the strain
Meanwhile dissolve 1.25kg of white sugar (that's for medium wine, use 1kg for dry and 1.5kg for sweet wine) in another 4 pints of boiling water and allow both lots to cool.

When cool strain them together into a large container before tarnsferring to a clean demi-john with wine yeast, yeast nutrient and waiting for 4-5 days for the fermentation to slow down before decanting it into a second clean demi-john.

If you find the level of fluid dropping below the neck of the demi-john top up with cooled boiled water.

One cautionary note, don't squeeze the strainer bag with your bare hands.  Anyone know what will remove Elderberry juice stain from hands?

Now I know where the saying respect your elders comes from.

I will keep you posted as to how it turns out.

I promised to give you my bread recipe, well actually it's not entirely my own I have just adapted it on a trial and error basis and believe me their have been quite a few errors!

I use strong white flour for the basic recipe which gives me two good sized white loaves.  I get my flour from Wessex Mill ( down in Wantage, birthplace of King Alfred no less!  I know this because it's printed on the side of the flour bags.

They deliver really quickly and the 10kg and 16kg bags that I get work out really cheap.  Two loaves for well under a £1, lovely!  They also do a whole range of different flours including Cinnamon and Apple, and Pasta flour to name but two.

Anyway the recipe.......

10 fluid ounces of slightly warmer than hand hot water
2 tablespoons of white sugar
2 teaspoons of dried active yeast
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter (melted)
10 fluid ounces milk (whole or semi skimmed)
1 tablespoon of salt
5-6 cups strong white flour.


Dissolve the sugar in the warm water and sprinkle the yeast over the top allowing it to form a foam head, usually about 10 mins.

Don't have the water too hot as this will just kill the yeast.  As a guide you should be able to bear your (clean) finger in it for a while without feeling any discomfort and certainly no blistering!!!

Put 1 cup of flour in a large mixing bowl along with the milk, melted butter and salt.

Pour in the yeast mixture and mix to a lumpy batter.

Now gradually add the remaing flour until you get a slightly sticky yet soft flexible dough, about ten minutes or so.  You can do this by hand, but I prefer using our 'Kitchenaid' static mixer with a dough hook which does all the hard work while I make a cup of tea.

Don't worry if you don't use all the flour, save it for next time.

When the dough is ready transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl and turn the dough around in the oil until it is all thinly coated.

Leave in a warm place until doubled in size then turn out onto a worktop and knead gently for a couple of minutes.  Continue by dividing into two, shaping into a ball shape and letting it rest for five minutes or so.  After that pop the dough into oiled loaf tins and allow to rise again.  When the dough just peeps above the tin sides preheat the oven to 220c.

When the loaf is fully risen put it in the oven and then turn the temperature down to 190c immediately you close the oven door.

Bake for about 30 - 35 minutes until the loaf has an even brown colouring and sounds hollow when tapped.

Twisted dough!
Truly best of both
For something different, make a batch of white dough and a batch of wholemeal.

After the first proving (rising) , twist the wholemeal and white dough together and then put in the tin to rise.  Bake as above.

The results are quite spectacular, in their own way.


Friday 5 October 2012

Brutus RIP

It's a sad day here at the garden.  Brutus our first cockerel passed away today.  We don't know how old he was, he came to us from Little Hen Rescue almost two years ago and he was an adult then.

The day we got him, Nanny Southwellski, Coco and I went to collect six ex-battery hens from the rescue centre, and made a strict agreement that we would not have a cockerel, we weren't sure how a cockerel would be around Coco, we'd heard they could be a bit 'funny'.

So we left with six ex-battery hens and Brutus!

He was originally rescued from a roundabout near Bungay in Suffolk, where a whole flock had been living and expanding as people who no longer wanted their chickens dropped them off.

It then became apparent that local 'low life's' had been going down and abusing the chickens and hence they were rescued.

Here at the garden he quickly stamped his gentle but firm authority on his flock, and the dogs who gave him a wide berth.  He was a gentleman of a cockerel who was always respectful of us and in particular Coco and we never had to worry that he would attack her as he would simply wander away from her.

We have three hens that are his offspring so his presence will continue in our flock for a good while yet.

But I will miss his presence around the garden, his wandering around with me, close enough to be there but not close enough for me to hold him.  I will miss not having to worry about the hens getting back to the coop safely, he always did that.

His final resting place is under the apple tree in the fruit garden, one of his favourite haunts, especially when the strawberries were ready.

Will we replace him?

No I don't think so, he was one of a kind.

Sunday 30 September 2012

Well that's just hard cheese!!!

Wow! Two posts in one month, is my resolve not to let my blog take over my life weakening?

Nah, not at all I had half an hour to spare before I finish reading the Hunger games trilogy.

If you haven't read it/them yet you need to.

What you also need to do, and you can do this immediately after you've read my blog, is to Google 'Woodworking for Mere Mortals'.  You cannot fail to be impressed!

Anyway, we've had a productive couple of weeks, well Nanny Southwellski has and I've been encouraging her so I've had a productive time too.

Our larder is filling nicely, with jams, pickles, pickled eggs, canned fruit, apple sauce and much more besides, although I can't believe the alarming regularity with which Nanny Southwellski dishes out the pickled eggs to all and sundry.

You can't walk down the drive before Nanny Southwellski has the lid off the jar.

We make our own cheese from the milk Simone our goat provides for us, and already we have a favourite in Chevre, a cream cheese not dissimilar to 'Philly', just tastier.

Cheese press
The cheddar making process is a bit more complicated and you would have to ask Nanny Southwellski about the ins and outs of it but here's my take on it.

You put the milk in a big saucepan and warm it up a bit.  Then you chuck some cheese starter in and wait until the curds have set.

The curds are cut up and scooped out of the whey.

Waxing lyrically
Put the curds in a cheesecloth and then put it in the cheese press and squeeze some of the liquid out of it.

Unwrap it after 'a while', and let it dry a bit before waxing it.

The recipe we use says let it mature for not less than 4 weeks, then gorge yourself!

We cut into our first batch of cheddar today, tasty enough (apart from the side where we cut a bit of mould off) but more akin to Parmesan than a firm but pliable cheddar.

Cheddar Mk1
We think we left it to dry out too long before waxing it, ah well live and learn.  Our second cheddar is on the way only three weeks to go.

Now, you have to have a nice bit of bread to put your cheese on, but what to have, white or wholemeal?

Why not have both, and no I don't mean one of those insipid rubbery loaves you can buy which purport to be 'Best of Both' but one which has white and wholemeal.

Best of both!
I can't take credit for this as much as I would like to.  A good friend of ours, Jo 'Coops' Cooper came to visit a couple of weeks back and brought a loaf which was both white and brown bread all in one loaf.

It's not as hard as it looks, all there is to it is to make two batches of dough, one wholemeal and one white.

Bread with a twist
The process itself is very easy, prepare enough of white and wholemeal dough to make one loaf of each, divide both dough's into two then simply twist a white and a wholemeal together, slap it in you're loaf tin and wait for it to rise.

I have at last, and let me tell you I have tried a good few recipes, found a recipe that gives me a good sized loaf that is well risen, soft on the inside and with a crust to die for and I will quite possibly share it with you next time.

And that's shallot!
This year I said I would get more organised in the veggie growing department and in all honesty it hasn't happened.

Yes we had some lousy weather, too much rain and not enough sunshine.  But that's not all bad, we are still picking cucumbers and tomato's and the alpine strawberries are still fruiting after almost three months.

Our shallots have been harvested, (I needed the plot for something else) dried and braided.  They now hang proudly from our pan rack in the kitchen.

The foraging is going well, and we now have enough Elderberries for a few bottles of wine, I just need to decant my cider and pear wine from the demi johns so I can start the next batch of wine.

Coco found this little chap/chapette on the hawthorn leaves from our foraging for berries.  The shell is 6mm across, that's 1/4" for those of us still working in proper measurements.

On the remedies front we have Hawthorn berries and Rose hips as well and I will start making the winter remedies this week.

You have much to learn grasshopper!
I will also be collecting the last of the red clover flowers to dry along with some white dead nettles.  These both make very pleasant infusions in their own rights let alone the remedial effects on hay fever and PMT respectively.

The grasshopper(right) made its way onto the deck at the back of our house this afternoon, probably thought it was safer there than trying to dodge the sheep and goats playing chase in the paddock.

Don't even think about moving me!
And finally........... yes its wood burner time again and Monty has claimed the hearth.

And don't forget,  The Hunger Games trilogy and Woodworking for Mere Mortals.

Go on, do it now.

Monday 17 September 2012

Pig wrestling, cider making and more new arrivals

Me and my goats
It's strange to think that at the beginning of July this year we had a large usable paddock, the chance to lay in in the mornings (until Coco decides it's time to rise that is), a kitchen that was adequate for our needs and a bike shed!

Now, it's a case of whoever gets up first, gets to feed the sheep, pigs, chickens, ducks, goats and milk Simone and let me tell you it is a pleasure (so far, ask again in November, December and January!) to open the goat pen and see her trot across to the bike shed milking parlour and hop up onto the milking stand.

The goats seem to have an awareness that Coco is a very small person and they are very gentle with her, that said we are always aware that they could get spooked and we are never far away when they are accessible to her.

Coco starts the milking process each morning as we take the first few squirts off each teat into a separate bucket which Coco then gives to the dog of her choice.  Incidentally the dog of her choice is always Blossom.

Lovely cheddar from a Nanny made by a Nanny!
We average about 1.5litres of lovely warm creamy goats milk every milking session, which equates to £4.41 per day if we were buying it from Sainsburys at £1.47 a litre!

Take into account also, that Nanny Southwellski now produces all of our cheese, ice cream, double cream, and sometimes butter as well and we are quids in!!!!! :)

Now a friend of ours who works as a healthcare assistant, who shall remain nameless (you know who you are Angela Attlesey) was concerned about our cholesterol being very high given that we eat several, actually many eggs each week, drink full cream milk and eat home made cheese, butter, ice cream etc etc.

Anyway Sainsburys have been doing free cholesterol checks and mine came back at 4.89 and Nanny Southwellski's was just over 5, result I say.

But joking aside, if it wasn't for our 'friend' we probably wouldn't have had it done and we are grateful for that.  And it doesn't hurt.

So, want some advice?  Get yourself a bike shed, a stainless steel bucket (no seams as these are harder to clean!) and go get a goat, go on do it today.

One, Two, Three! You're out!
Now for the pig wrestling.

We got our pigs for one reason and one reason only to provide us with meat (say venison to me later in the blog!) which has been raised in a loving and kind environment and from a source where we know what has gone into it food wise.

Now that reasoning isn't going to make it any easier when that fateful day comes and they head off to the abattoir, but for now they are a source of much entertainment and good company and that journey is yet to come.

They are also a great means of getting rid of the apple 'cheese' (see left, looks yummy) from our cider and juice making processes.

This is one of the few occasions where we can actually give them something other than pig nuts due to various regulations.

We process the apple outside under the trees they came from and from picking to pigs is only a matter of an hours or so and nothing is added to the fruit.

Taking them into the kitchen would 'officially' make them catering waste and as such we are not allowed to feed them to the pigs.

As an aside if we lived in France we would be able to feed the pigs our surplus eggs, however we don't so we can't! It's all rather confusing really.

Wow, that sounds like I really have a grasp of this whole smallholding thing, I'm really impressed with myself!

But then, 3 apple trees have only provided us with 6 litres of apple juice and 5 litres of cider (maybe) so it's a bit disappointing really.

What wasn't disappointing was my birthday pressie from Nanny Southwellski.

No child exploitation here!
I was lucky enough to get a Vigo fruit scratter and press for me birthday and very lovely they are too.

All I needed to get started was to find a small child to build a stand for the press, a bucketful of apples and away we go.

The remains of the apples after scratting and pressing form a 'cheese', in shape only and the pigs love them.

I'm hiding!
The pigs are also doing an great job of cultivating the plot they are in and this will be the potato patch next year (unless they're still here of course).

The chooks love following up behind them as they turn it all over, I do feel, however, that it's only a matter of time before one of the chooks gets squished!

When we started getting into being more self sufficient one of the things we wanted to make a difference with is waste, not the waste that we pile into our bins day in day out but making more use of what we have.

For example, last Christmas some friends gave us a goose.  Nanny Southwellski left no part unused and even the neck skin got turned into a fabulous sausage made from the giblets.

Now, this next bit isn't necessarily for the squeamish but I will share it with you anyway.

Last Saturday, I arrange with Farmer Robin to collect some bales of straw for bedding at 7.00am.  On the way to his farm the car in front hit a young Muntjac deer killing it instantly and taking off the front valance of the car in the process.

Not having time to stop and pick it up, the deer not the valance, I made a mental note that if it was still on the side of the road on my way back I would have it.

It was still there when I came back at 7.30am so in the back of the van it went.

By 9.30am it had been bled, skinned and butchered and a haunch was in a pan being marinated by Nanny Southwellski ready to go on the barbecue later that day.

The rest of the carcass got jointed, bagged and frozen.

We had a venison goulash this evening, one of Delia's recipes, we just swapped the beef for venison and very nice it was to.

Isn't it amazing how much better venison sounds than roadkill!

Hard work this foraging lark!
Last Sunday we went for a foraging bike ride and pick wild plums, elderberries and crab apples.

Having spotted the crab apple tree on the 'deer journey' we biked the two miles armed with carrier bags and brought almost 10kg home.

Now despite our physically active lifestyle (and low cholesterol!) we'd be the first to admit we're not that fit.  By the time we got back my buttocks were even more painful than Mr Goodleys slipper ever made them at school.

It didn't help that as we made our weary way up the hill to Broadlands that we spotted a crab apple tree not 50 yards from our front door.  The plums and elderberries we have in our garden anyway!  Gutted or what?

Grizzly McDuff
And finally, as if we haven't enough critters we have two new arrivals to introduce.

Our cats, Jarvis and KC have been very loyal if somewhat aloof family pets and we love them dearly but there comes a time when a cat should be taking it a little easier and passing the rat and mouse catching duties onto younger trainees and so we have Grizzly McDuff and Scarface Claw.

Strange names I hear you say, not if you are a fan of Slinky Malinky and Hairy McCleary (from Donaldsons dairy)

These are a series of children's books that we would recommend to any child and indeed to anyone, I love reading them to Coco and she knows all the characters such as Hercules Morse, Bottomley Potts, The Poppadum Kittens to name but a few.

Scarface Claw
But her favouritest of them all is Scarface Claw the toughest tom in town!

Our new arrivals, both males, seem to be settling in well despite the mayhem and madness that is our life.

Friday 31 August 2012

It's all happening at the 'farm'!

It's been a mixed week tinged with sadness, we lost a Silky bantam chick which drowned in the pigs drinking trough, and the next day Nanny Southwellski found a dripping wet Silky bantam chick shivering next to the ducks sunken bath.

Dr Coco sprang into action and helped me get everything ready to try and save the little wet chick.

What the blazes is that blue thing?
We made a hot water bottle and sat the chick on it after we had dried it with a towel, covered it with an emergency space blanket and another blanket over that.

It was Dr Coco's prescription of a dose of Eeyore that made all the difference and an hour later the chick reluctantly left the warm furry hot water bottle and was returned to the wilds of the garden.

Made us think for a while that we should stop the chicks getting to the water but then again we would have to rethink how we look after all the other animals and without penning everyone up it would be difficult to remove the risks.

Plum picking
As we all know anyway, you remove one danger and it is immediately replaced by two more.

Talking of danger, have you ever tried to pick the top plums from a hedgerow plum tree?

Thought not, it's a risky business I can tell you and even with a ladder it wasn't easy.

My little helper didn't make it anymore successful by taking a bite out of every other plum, declaring it "not ready" and pitching it back into the hedgerow!

Mrs Harrison and Brandy
 But never mind, we didn't pick plums for long.  Mrs Harrison who is 90 came by with her dog Brandy and we just had to stop and say hello.

Mrs Harrison, or Betty as she keeps trying to get us to call her, walks her dog morning and night and is a real character who knows her spades from her spades and doesn't mind telling you so.

I don't think we will ever relent and call her 'Betty', it seems disrespectful somehow so Mrs Harrison it is.
Blackberryless bucket!

It's Friday today and it's been flipping blowing a hooley up here on the hill. We were forced to resort to jumpers. thick socks and wellies when we went out to find some blackberries.

It was a wasted trip as even the biggest bushes nearby didn't have a single berry on them, but that said we did pick some apples and a few green beans on the way through the garden.

On the crop front we had a great harvest of potatoes, beans and courgettes and the greens are at last looking good despite the cabbage white trying to eat them all.
 The grape vines are doing exceptionally well, shame I don't know how to look after them but hey isn't that what google is for?

I trod on a grape once, it gave a little whine!
We'll try again, one plus one is two!  Got it?

The animals continue to be amazing and very productive.  Simone and Aisha are just the best and they stick almost to their own routine.

We literally open the goat run of a morning and Simone takes herself off to the milking shed and settles herself down while we feed Aisha and then return to milk her.

But for me, the best bit is that they are just such gentle animals.

Coco spend hours searching the garden for plantain and dock leaves to give the goats.

They are both so good with Coco, but rest assured we haven't lost sight of the fact that they are still animals and could do a lot of harm to a certain small child.

So in a nutshell that about it from the garden today.

I will return.

Wednesday 22 August 2012

Has anyone missed me?

Potatoes ridged up! - Lovely!
At the beginning of 2012 I said I wasn't going to get locked into religiously doing my blog.

It would be done when I was good and ready!

Now that I am finally good and ready, I have found it's been such a long time since I was last here that it would take me hours, nay days to cover everything that has happened so I thought that a pictorial re-introduction to our garden is in order.

Except, or maybe that should have been a 'but', it should now be called a 'Grandpa Southwellski's smallholding'.

Read on all will be revealed.

The polytunnel getting stocked up
 The polytunnel has been a hive of activity and here it is in early May being prepped/planted for the summer.

What you see here has now been and gone, and has been replaced by other crops also since departed to the kitchen.

The evening skies - spectacular!

A thing of beauty
There have been a few additions to our livestock/poultry numbers since my last post, in fact there have been 23 new additions. They come in the guise of, 2 Goats, 2 Berkshire pigs, 2 sheep, 9 Silky bantams that Nanny Southwellski hatched out (in an incubator of course!), 3 Khaki Campbell (white) ducks, 2 crested ducks and 3 laying hens. Now add that to the 12 various chickens and cockerels we had, 4 dogs, 2 cats and you have a menagerie of 41!

So lets meet a few of them.

Big and Small
We bought our three Khaki Campbell's from a local smallholding in something of a hurry as Blossom our scatty rat catching terrier had consumed 3 of our 'Miniature crested ducklings' on the day of their arrival after they escaped from their box.

The one remaining duckling, 'Small', was very lonely so we thought get some ducks and he'll be fine.

They didn't want anything to do with him so we contacted Melsop Farm in Norfolk and took an orphan black crested duck.

As time has gone on it is quite clear that despite having a crest, Small is anything but a genuine pukka Miniature Crested Duck.  He is more like a Crested Indian Runner! (is there such a thing?)
The Three Ducketeers!

The Khaki's were just that when they got here, a dirty Khaki brown but once they'd got the hang of the pond they soon cleaned themselves up.

Their first encounter with a pond was not an auspicious occasion as they hadn't a clue about swimming and it was only by accident that one got out of it's depth and started swimming backwards!
Burpy burpy sheep sheep!

They have since been banished to the paddock to live with the rest of the critters
 since they turned our lovely pond emerald green and ate all the plants!

Our lambs/sheep have the greater part of the paddock to graze and live a life of luxury.  We supplement their diet with ewe nuts and despite being a bit nervous when they got here they are getting to be a bit more friendly.

They are very gentle and allow Coco to get right up to feed them from her hand.

The pigs

The Berkshires, well what to say about them really?

They have given us such entertainment since we got them, I now see why people say they are some of the most intelligent animals around.

It's hard trying to stay detached from them as they are only with us for a short period of time, but already I notice that come morning they are the first ones that Nanny and I head for.

They are our first tentative steps towards producing our own pork and likewise the lambs are also destined for the freezer.
Simone and Aisha

Our goats came with names and are here for the duration as dairy goats.

Simone and Aisha are very affectionate British Alpines and Simone currently provides us with 3 litres of milk each and every day.

Nanny Southwellski then filters and separates it for cream and semi skimmed milk and uses it to make cheese, butter and the most amazing ice cream you are ever likely to taste!

We have a licence to walk them round the block should we choose to do so.  We had a visit from the State Veterinary Service who walked the route (in a car) we wanted to use in order to see if there were other bovines on it.

Not that it matters if there are because as long as they are 2 metres away from the other animals that's OK.

Even he said it was a farce dreamt up by the politicians in Brussels.

Incidentally did you know you can feed your pigs eggs in France but not in the UK?

And did you know, (oh no, here comes Meldrew!) that you can pick an apple off your tree and give it to the pigs, if you bring it into the house first and wash it they can't have it because it then becomes catering waste!

Anyway, he gave us our permit so when we want to take a playful goat or two out we can :)

Not that Aisha will need the exercise. she loves climbing (see left) and chasing the sheep around the paddock.

Silky bantam chicks

The last members of our cast are the silky bantam chicks.

There are only 9 of them but sometimes when you look for them you find 5 in with the sheep. 4 in with the pigs, 7 in the veggies, 3 in their run, and at least another 20 in various parts of the plot.

However they're are soooooooooooooo cute they can go wherever they want.

Well, that's it kind of up to date so see you soon!

Thursday 26 April 2012

Gullible is not in the dictionary!

Name the councillor!

Not a gardening theme to start with but kind of relevant in the grand scheme of things (although don't ask for the clarification as to why it's relevant).

What with Thetford Town Council adopting a 'Sunshine Management' approach to the local peoples ideas, ie we'll do what we like sunshine, and with Rupert Murdoch saying he didn't know about the cover up at the now defunct News of the World. 

Are people gullible? Hmmmmm
Do these people, either at lowly Town Council level or those who move in the circle of the likes  of Rupert Murdoch, really think we are all so very gullible.

You know I think they do.
Come on peeps, think about it,  you don't bite the ankles of the people who put you where you are whether by buying your papers over putting a cross on the ballot paper.

Anyway, gardening!

Is it me or does it seem to have rained everyday since the hosepipe ban was announced?

If so would it not have been prudent of the water companies to announce the ban two months earlier?

You looking at me?
The rain is very welcome here at the garden, although Brutus and the chooks are not so chuffed about it being soggy under foot.

The two 'Borp' (Buff Orpingtons) cockerels, Coco calls them 'the boys', are susceptible to being wet as their plummage absorbs the water and takes longer to dry out than the other chooks we have, so we have to make sure that they have shelter available all the time.

On wet days you can see both of them peering gloomily out of the door of their coop.

Spring onions in the tunnel.
The potatoes are just peeping their shoots through and the polytunnel is starting to look positively full with fresh green shoots.

The salad crops in the poly tunnel are making a grand show now and we have spring onions, radishes, lettuces, and rocket growing fast.

On the seed front the peppers, chillis, tomatoes and a selection of brassicas, beans and peas are all making an appearance.

Lemon balm
The mouse has departed from the potting shed and it is filling up with trays of compost all sown and neatly labelled.

Take me to your parsley!
The herb garden is coming back to life with a vengeance and the rain is keeping everything lush. The green and bronze fennels, common mallow, chives, and others are all shooting up.

The parsley is suffering a little from a pair of chubby little fingers belonging to Coco who can't resist taking off all new growth and popping it in her mouth with a "Yes, nice!"

Bramley blossom.

Around the garden the fruit and nut trees (all we need is a chocolate tree) are all in blossom or about to burst into blossom.

The wild strawberries (below) are also flowering around the beds in the house garden although it's only a matter of time before 'someone' finds the pretty little flowers.

Wild strawberries

We have three alpine strawberies in the polytunnel and they are thriving as well.

Last autumn I split the old rhubarb into three plants, chucked them into seperate pots of compost and put them in the potting shed under the bench.

I subsequently forgot all about them until I noticed one of the flower pots I have put over them was hovering in mid air.  An inspection soon revealed strong new growth from all three crowns and they continue to do well.

Now I'm just waiting for the rain and the (hopefully) last frosts to pass before putting them out in the garden.

Cherry tree in blossom (a Coco pic)
Coco loves to have a snap with my camera, I keep a closer watch now since the last one got buried, and sometimes she gets a decent shot like the one to the right of the summer house, a blossoming cherry tree and the vent pipe from the septic tank.

On Sunday last, Coco and I went for a walk in the rain with the sole intention of puddle jumping.  I discovered on my first puddle that at some point I have made a small hole in the bottom of my wellie so had to indulge in some one legged puddle jumping.

Splish splash!
Coco on the other hand went for it, clothed in her new  waterproof leggings, coat and wellies she was well protected and didn't hold back.

Hey gringo, what you looking at?
And finally, Nanny Southwellski has often mentioned to me the horse with the moustache at the end of Mill Lane and if I am totally honest I thought 'yeah okay', but it is most definitely true and most definitely a moustache!

So did you look it up?

Gullible is in the dictionary.