Archive for the ‘Country pursuits’ Category

A week ago I managed to grab a few days by the sea, courtesy of my sister and brother-in-law:)

Exhausted by the constant round of health practitioners, I was worn out and desperate for some ‘down’ time.  When I finally arrived and unpacked, I fell into bed with a good book, and believe it or not, there I remained for 36 hours.  I ached in every muscle and was just too tired to do anything but sleep and read.  Luckily I had taken home-made soup, burgers and veg/salad so had no need to go out unless I wanted to.

However, I finally came ’round’ and was able to relax and enjoy the fabulous view from their windows.



It is such a pretty and comfortable caravan with stunning views:


A walk round the site and the surrounding countryside gave an overview of the site itself:

It is a mature site with hedges and trees surrounding the caravans which is lovely!!

In some sheltered sunny spots I saw lots of butterflies, Red Admirals in particular.



And one can walk directly from the caravan on to the cliff path through lovely countryside towards Bempton Cliffs which is an RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) site, of which I am a member.  We had violent winds and rain for part of each day, followed by glorious sunshine.  Which, of course, gave us lots of rainbows.  This was the view from the Dining Area of the Caravan of one such, looking towards Bempton Cliffs:



Of course I took myself for a happy day’s bird watching:






There is a huge colony of Gannets, but I also saw Razorbills, Kittiwakes and Herring Gulls and others which I did not stop to identify, as I was just glorying in walking and smelling and watching, in the sunshine and the wind and the sea air.

In this next one I can actually see some of the colours which Monet saw in water, all the purples, aquamarines, mauves, greens and blues.


On one day I went to Flamborough village and bought fresh fish from a fisherman, and it was simply gorgeous.  I bought some fresh runner beans from the local greengrocer and had a super chat with both her and another customer about goose eggs.  Then I called into the local coffee shop for a cup of tea and some homemade tea-bread: dogs were allowed in which was fun and a pleasant change from all the ghastly health and safety hype.  How can you ever develop a good immune system without coming into contact with germs?

All in all, I had a wonderfully relaxed trip with no unexpected events (bliss) except that one very sad and lonely widower propositioned me!!  He said he was looking for a rich widow, and I could truthfully explain that I was neither:)

Ho hum, I rather thought that I was safely past the age when such things could happen!!


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Life has been complicated lately: I have had a couple of accidents, nothing in themselves but the accumulation of trauma has caused an old injury on a knee to re-assert itself.  So I have not been able to sit, lift or drive.  Walking is compromised and going to the loo is cause for imagination and extra dexterity!!

Husband is not himself either, so all in all, we have had some weeks of abnormal home life.  At  least, I insist that it is abnormal and not the beginning of new ‘normal’ around her.

I have had to cancel a couple of trips to see close friends, one in Ireland and the other in Oban, much to my disappointment.  And also had to cancel our appointments with the Supervet to take our two dogs for consultations:(

There is another trip planned which I will tell you about in another post, so fingers crossed it will come to pass.

But I wanted to share a short video with you of the most inspiring and wonderful person who has helped me enormously this year while I was feeling so helpless and desperate.  I identify so much with her and regard her as a role model.

I hope you enjoy this too:)


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You could not make this up!

Yesterday was a busy day here.

Work on the fence round the new veggie patch.

A trip to an Agricultural Merchant to buy fence posts, half posts, fencewire strainers, stock fencing and a sheep hurdle.

Some digging in said veggie patch and planting out the garlic since I assume the worst of the winter rain is now past.

It was hot and sunny and blissful to be working out of doors amongst burgeoning Nature.

As I removed the horticultural fleece from the Kale I joked that now it would snow.

And of course, it did, today.  But luckily it did not settle.

Whilst I was working in the warm soil and husband was stringing wire, we had a visit from someone we used to know many years ago and with whom we are not so much in touch nowadays.  A nice chap who went to the same Church that we frequented when we were Churchgoers.  As we have become backsliders and more agnostic he has remained loyal, faithful and very active in the Church even though he has changed denominations.

Half way through me planting the garlic he said to me,”Did you know that I am no longer preaching?”  I replied in the negative and asked why.  “Oh, they asked me to leave because of my hobby of writing erotic literature”

I did not see that one coming.  Luckily I was bending over looking at the earth so he could not see my face.

“But surely you write under a nom de plume?” I choked.

“Yes, but they found out anyway”.

“Well, that seems a little hard given they must believe that sex was invented by God”, I ventured.  “Of course, it might be different if it was considered pornographic.”

“Well, it is published on a rather extreme website,” he countered.

Silence from me for a moment.  I was having trouble with my breathing.  And anyway I needed to collect my thoughts.

“And you decided to choose to continue your writing rather than your preaching?”I queried, placidly planting more cloves.

“Oh, yes”.

Longer silence from me.  This from someone who had preached for over thirty years. Who had devoted his and his family’s life to supporting the local church. I was rather at a loss for words.

“Its very popular, I won a prize on the website last year and get thousands of hits”, he said.  “But of course it’s only e-publishing.”

“How’s the family?” I asked.




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At least for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere.

When the time to sow seeds, nurture seedlings and watch our gardens grow emerges from the hibernating slough of stasis which has surrounded us for weeks and weeks and weeks.

Our household comprises only two permanent human inhabitants so one packet of seeds is too many for a single growing season.  So, first to see the light of day are the opened packets carefully stored since last year.

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And here we have our familiar performers: Runner Beans both red (Scarlet Emperor) and white (White Lady) and multicoloured (St. George); Broad Beans ‘The Sutton’; French ‘bush’ beans variety ‘Cupidon’; Carrot ‘Early Nantes 2’ and ‘Autuumn King Improved’; Radish ‘French Breakfast 3’; Leeks ‘Elephant’; three different kinds of Garlic; and Sweet Peas with Old Fashioned Fragrance which I always grow amongst my beans to encourage pollinators.

This year I am not growing potatoes as husband does not eat many and I eat none now being on a special Auto Immune Protocol which in my case requires non participation in members of the Nightshade family. Also they do take up a lot of room which I would rather use for other things.   The same reasons lie behind my not growing Tomatoes, Aubergines or Peppers: he does not like eating Aubergines or Peppers much.  I do, but cannot:(

In place of potatoes I tend to eat Swede, Turnip, Kohl Rabi and Carrots, so they are figuring high on my list of veg to grow this year although  I find that I am having trouble getting my carrots to germinate nowadays (although I used to have no trouble years ago) and also my healthy slug population likes to live inside my swedes and turnips unless I dig them up really young.  But, the Kohl Rabi did really well and I have high hopes of it for an over-wintering crop.

So I sent off for a few packets of new seeds:one does have to have some indulgences.  However it was very hard to choose and I could have bought at least 20 packets.  I restrained myself to six.  They came in a small, brown cardboard envelope,

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containing further inconspicuous packets with no bright pictures or expensive packaging.

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Because these are from a specialist seed company which tries to keep costs down, does not charge much for postage for those who are unwaged and which supplies seed which is rarely available due to EU regulations forbidding sale of certain varieties.  By paying one penny a year one becomes a member of a Club which allows all of us members to ‘swap’ seeds that we save ourselves and ‘contribute’ to the Club’s funds.  Last year I had great success with their Asparagus Kale which is absolutely delicious and a gourmet change from the ubiquitous curly kale.  I also had great success with their French Beans.

So, what have I chosen this year? Another variety of Kohn Rabi ‘Gigant’ “a huge white variety that makes large bulbs up to 4kg in weight.  Traditionally grown for overwintering storage as it does not go ‘woody’ but is also great for fresh use from Spring sowing“.

Two kinds of carrot, ‘Touchon’ and ‘Manchester Table’.  The first is “A quick-growing heirloom variety of the orange carrot from France dating from the late 1700s.  It has a fine texture and an excellent sweet flavour”; the second  is “an old English culinary variety.  Strong plants with full-flavoured orange roots finally back in the catalogue after a six year project to regenerate it from a seedbank sample.”  We are urged to save our own seed from this one especially as there is still so little around.  This year I am going to try to germinate my carrots in modules and plant them out, as sowing directly into position is getting me nowhere.

Then I am going heavy on the green leaves:

an Italian Endive ‘Bianca Ricci da Taglio’ “A unique Italian Endive  bred to be used as a Lettuce. Looks and tastes like Lettuce but grows at lower temperatures and non-bitter as long as kept cool.”

and two lots for next Autumn/Winter: Claytonia/ Miners’ Lettuce/Winter Purslane “Native to North America but naturalised in Europe since 1749 to eat both raw and cooked”: and Corn Salad/Lambs Lettuce ‘Coquille de Louviers’.

You may have noticed a slight emphasis on varieties which can cope with cold, or heat, or drought, or wet.  That  way I hope to get at least one crop of each kind of vegetable.

Unfortunately this did not work last year with my strawberries: I have now grown and experimented with nine varieties to cover all types of weather and they have had the most favoured position in the garden, but few berries and those were not a good flavour.  I am sooo disappointed.  They were all chosen by recommendation from gardening blogs, gardening fora, and books concentrating on taste.  Clearly my own particular soil and micro- climate does not favour them.  Shall I press on, or just give up?  Not sure yet, but it is five years now that I have allowed my most valued cultivatable plot to be devoted to the art of growing strawberries.

Last year I ran out of patience and sowed my seeds too early: by the time I could plant out my seedlings they were leggy and soft.  I expect I have waited too late this time.  Ah well, that’s gardening for you:)

I wish much pleasure to all my gardening friends, enjoy yourselves.  It’s Spring!!!


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We had some family over for tea today: so out came the best china, silver and tablecloths from previous generations.

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Its only Christmas and Easter that these things see the light of day but it seems a shame.

Sunday tea used to be an Institution.  It is rare that I make egg mayonnaise sandwiches with the crusts cut off.

Perhaps we should bring the custom back once a month or every six weeks or so.

I hope you all enjoyed the Bank Holiday:)

PS The dogs loved the crusts!!



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This  was our view on 6th March this year driving from our house to have tea out on Mothering Sunday:

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And today March 27th  we have no snow, green grass, young leaves on bushes,  flowers, bright sunshine and blustery winds, and this:

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To all who celebrate the season, I wish a very happy time, whether it be Easter, the Goddess Oestre or just Spring, New Life and Chocolate:)


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Celebrate Dr. Jane’s legacy with the global Roots & Shoots family!

On February 19th, 2016, Roots & Shoots celebrates its 25th anniversary. Help celebrate by joining the global Growing Together campaign for plants, trees and forests. Create healthy habitats for plants and trees and become part of a movement that is making a difference for people, animals and the environment!

It was in the early 1970s that by reading her book, ‘In the shadow of man’, I became familiar with Jane van Lawick Goodall’s ground-breaking work with chimpanzees.  She had lived alone with a group of chimps, eating and sharing their lives and made observations that were to change the scientific community’s perception of the great apes: no longer were human beings the only tool makers and users on the planet.

“By remaining in almost constant contact with the chimps, she discovered a number of previously unobserved behaviors. She noted that chimps have a complex social system, complete with ritualized behaviors and primitive but discernible communication methods, including a primitive “language” system containing more than 20 individual sounds. She is credited with making the first recorded observations of chimpanzees eating meat and using and making tools. Tool making was previously thought to be an exclusively human trait, used, until her discovery, to distinguish humans from animals. She also noted that chimpanzees throw stones as weapons, use touch and embraces to comfort one another, and develop long-term familial bonds. The male plays no active role in family life but is part of the group’s social stratification. The chimpanzee “caste” system places the dominant males at the top. The lower castes often act obsequiously in their presence, trying to ingratiate themselves to avoid possible harm. The male’s rank is often related to the intensity of his entrance performance at feedings and other gatherings.

To preserve the wild chimpanzee’s environment, Goodall encourages African nations to develop nature-friendly tourism programs, a measure that makes wildlife into a profitable resource. She actively works with business and local governments to promote ecological responsibility. Her efforts on behalf of captive chimpanzees have taken her around the world on a number of lecture tours. She outlined her position strongly in her 1990 book Through a Window: “The more we learn of the true nature of nonhuman animals, especially those with complex brains and corresponding complex social behaviour, the more ethical concerns are raised regarding their use in the service of man–whether this be in entertainment, as ‘pets,’ for food, in research laboratories or any of the other uses to which we subject them. This concern is sharpened when the usage in question leads to intense physical or mental suffering–as is so often true with regard to vivisection.” (from http://www.biography.com/people/jane-goodall-9542363#discoveries)

 In 1991  Roots & Shoots was developed: Dr. Goodall created Roots & Shoots with 12 Tanzanian high school students who wanted to tackle urgent problems they witnessed in their community and it is now the youth-led community action and learning programme of the Jane Goodall Institute. The program builds on the legacy and vision of Dr. Jane Goodall to place the power and responsibility for creating community-based solutions to big challenges in the hands of the young people. Through the program, young people map their community to identify specific challenges their neighborhoods face. From there, they prioritize the problems, develop a plan for a solution, and take action all while developing the skills and attitudes to become part of the next generation of Dr. Jane Goodalls.


The programme is about making positive change happen — for our communities, for animals and for the environment. With hundreds of thousands of young people in more than 130 countries, the Roots & Shoots network connects youth of all ages who share a desire to create a better world. Young people identify problems in their communities and take action. Through service projects, youth-led campaigns and an interactive website, Roots & Shoots members are making a difference across the globe.

For more information, please visit http://www.rootsandshoots.org.

 This year, Dr. Goodall is inviting individuals around the world to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Roots & Shoots by participating in the Growing Together Campaign.

Learn more about the campaign in the USA:


Learn more about the global celebration:




Example Growing Together Projects from around the world:
In Western Australia, students planted a native species
garden where endangered animals can feed and nest.

In Austria, groups are contacting local media and making films to inform on the important functions of the forests.

In Belgium, Roots & Shootsers planted a vegetable garden to offer a haven for urban biodiversity and promote sustainable food. Elementary students in British Columbia, Canada removed invasive species to enhance habitat around a lake. In France, youth organized to clean up litter in their school yard and the nearby forest. Roots & Shoots Youth in India are not only planting trees but are working to raise awareness about conservation.
Young people in Indonesia are teaching the community about organutans to raise awareness about habitat destruction. In Peru, students protect schoolyard plants by caring for them and posting signs to keep
others from harming them.

Roots & Shoots youth in Qatar created kits to share with members of their community to
show them how to start their own roof gardens.

In Spain, students are recycling cell phones to reuse components and fund educational and conservation projects in Africa. Tanzanian students planted 2 acres of diverse trees to benefit their school and community. Youth in the United Kingdom are promoting educational resources to connect kids with nature

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