Sunday, 13 July 2014

The front garden

is almost finished.

Click for larger size

I added some alpines (Sempervivum and Sedum) yesterday in a lovely half-priced terracotta pot.

They need a sunny spot so there is some discussion about where to site them.

Summer sun at about 3.30pm Click for larger size.

I favour the front of the garden, where they will get morning and late afternoon sun. MWNN wants the pot near the house.

Click for larger size.

I also planted a Sedum and a Dianthus  in the front end of the retaining wall, hoping that the creeping sedum will creep over the unsighly broken bricks.

This Sedum has different coloured flowers. I suspect they are red, (very evident) white, (some evidence) and blueish-purple.

Click for larger size.

The pots beside the front door are looking wonderful.

All that is needed to finish the makeover is more shingle to cover the bare patches and a regular blitz on the weeds that keep popping up.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Getting there- slowly

but ye gads, it's hard work.

Just like narrowboating.

We went to view a potential new mooring for our narrowboat, yesterday.

It's in a beautiful location - great for dog-walking and with all the services we'd need for getting the boat back into good shape.

The moorings were built in about 2007, on one of a series of lakes in Northamptonshire. Blackthorn Lake has direst access to the river Nene and, unlike other moorings  along the river, uses floating pontoons. Best news of all is that each pontoon is 70ft long. We haven't had a pontoon that was more than half our boat's length in the 14 years she's been in France.

Bonus points awarded for the fact that there is direct footpath access to Stanwick Lakes, 750 acres of SSI nature reserve.

Woodford Tea Rooms was recommended as a good lunch spot but we opted for lunch at the Axe and Compass. MWNN really enjoyed his pint of EPA.

The thought of repatriating the boat is  beginning to have its effect. Things are looking brighter.


Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Singing is good for you

Picture from 'The Big Sing' Baldock Town Hall, June 2014

I sat in on a session of Singing Aloud last night. It was a fast, noisy session and everyone was fully involved. I already knew a couple of songs and was encouraged to join the basses for 'Catch a Falling Star'. I hadn't learned it with the group but remembered the lower harmony from my childhood. It felt good!

Despite the amount of noise during each section's  run-through with Ruth (mainly enthusiastic practice from other sections) I stayed until the end. The sound is really good - goosebumps from some of the harmonies.

I'm looking forward to learning the bass part to If I Fell (also a song from my childhood).

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Health and Safety kntting?

A member of Hitchin' Stitchin drew the group's attention to an article about the Tour de France preparations that had nothing to do with the sport.

Thousands of knitters have spent months of preparations for the Tour de France. Miles of bunting has been strung across streets in towns that will see the athletes racing through.

One council, however, has ordered that the bunting be removed. The theory is that, when it rains, the weight of wet wool will bend the lamp-posts.

Health and Safety hazard? Masham Town.

Knitters are known for their determination and have found alternative means of demonstrating their support for and celebration of the Tour.

And it's not only bunting that is decorating English towns along the route, bicycles have also been used in a variety of ways.

Yorkshire Pudding bicycle wheel

The start of this year's Tour looks like being a typically quirky British affair.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

The garden is looking lovely

We recently bought two more fuscia plants to brighten up the rear garden. Each one is in a pot on top of the wall pillars

Last year's fuscia is doing very well after its transplant to the side border.

Together with Red Hat Lady Rose from Harkness Roses (now in its 3rd or fourth year, new lavender from Hitchin Lavender (last year), and Asian Lilies, the fuscias add  more colour than ever.

Red Hat Lady is very happy in her specially prepared peat bed. The lavender, meanwhile is thriving on chalk.

Last year's pelargoniums survived the winter outdoors.

View from the lawn, towards the side border.

View from the side border across the garden.

View from the side border across the conservatory terrace.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Beautiful harmony

Picked the rose one early morn
Pricked my finger on a thorn
They'd grown so close, their winding wove
The Briar and the Rose.

The Briar and the Rose - Tom Waites

The final verse, performed by Singing Aloud members at Baldock Town Hall Sunday singalong, June 15th

Monday, 16 June 2014

More Singalong

Darkness on the Delta is a barbershop arrangement. Having been absent from Singing Aloud for over a year, I missed the opportunity to learn the bass part.

I have always wanted to sing barbershop and it was with great pleasure that I recorded this version by the four groups of Singing Aloud singers who gathered at Baldock Town Hall for a Sunday afternoon singalong.

I uploaded the video to YouTube. I used my phone and the original was very shaky. YouTube has a  remove-the-shakes editing program.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Singing is good for the soul

I went along to Baldock Town Hall this afternoon to listen to the 'singalong' of all four Singing Aloud Choirs.

I'm really glad I went. It gave me a real lift to hear all the glorious harmonies. I even remembered the bass part of To Make You Feel my Love and joined the massed choir.

This is just one verse of one of the songs performed on Sunday afternoon.


Monday, 26 May 2014

Sunny Bank Holiday


well it was, yesterday, so we went to Benington Lordship Gardens.

Picspam to follow - doesn't convey the heavenly scents that assailed us as we turned onto a new avenue/path/terrace.

The folly had us both fooled, probably because it was built from the rubble of the Norman Castle (c1830s).

The manor house (not open to the public) was built in the 1740s

MWNN was rather taken with the Aliums.

Planting in the formal walled-garden in front of the house.

Herbaceous border alongside the kitchen garden wall.

Haven't a clue what these are, but I like them

and these.

The bees were busy gathering pollen from various flowers, especially the bell-shaped ones.

I spotted a herb garden with a buxus hedge edging it. Decided it was too low to use as a hedge in our front garden

After we arrived back home, we walked Ron, looking at the various edgings on the estate's open-plan front gardens. A low hedge of Euonymous may well replace the leylandii trees we removed.

Thursday, 1 May 2014


....  beautiful,  soothing, fragrant, bluebells.

Thanks to knitting group member Woolly Chic for reminding me that Hitch Wood is full of bluebells this week.

MWNN and I made the short drive to Hitch Wood on Wednesday morning. We were blessed with a lovely sunny day.

I'd glimpsed bluebells in woodland along the A1 when we first moved out of London and I was still working at a North London Girls' School. That didn't prepare me  for the sight of  vast expanses of bluebells that met us as soon as we set foot onto the 'marked way'.

Nor did those brief glimpses from a moving vehicle prepare me for the wonderful, delicate fragrance we experienced as we moved deeper into the bluebells. I doubt that even the most gifted chemist could re-create and bottle it.

Ron really enjoyed exploring the woods and didn't once pester for a game of chase the ball.

A strategically-placed bench provided a welcome resting place before we turned and made our way back to the car.

We had the woods very much to ourselves. I suspect there may be many more visitors over the Bank Holiday weekend.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Thought for today

Individual commitment to a group effort - 

that is what makes a team work, 

a company work, 

a society work, 

a civilization work.

 ~ Vince Lombardi

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Happy St George's Day

Oh, to be in England
Now that April's there,
And whoever wakes in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England - now!

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Goodbye Suffolk

The Alde - Snape Maltings in the distance.

MWNN and I left Iken Barns early on Friday morning. Before breakfast, I'd taken Ron to say goodbye to Don, the resident horse, and take final photos of the lovely views from the garden.

The view across the paddock behind the barns

Don wasn't really interested in saying goobye. He was too busy with his breakfast to come to the fence.

Lasagne and Moussaka by Cook chef's Liam and Joshua

We'd already decided that we would shop in Friday Street Farm Shop for lunch and dinner. The lamb moussaka and beef lasagne by Cook were delicious. Each meal has the name of the chef  who prepared it on its label.

Dingley Dell pigs

We also bought some Dingley Dell pork chops, sausages, and bacon. Free-range Suffolk pork is probably the best pork we have ever tasted in the UK.

Neighbour's photo, on Mother's Day

It's nice to be home. Our neighbour called in the evening, carrying the Mother's Day bouquet that had been delivered 10 days ago. It was still looking good, although the roses were past their best.

Friday, 11 April 2014

The last day of the holiday

in Suffolk.

We drove to Aldeburgh in search of the 'Boardwalk' section of the Sailors' Path. Our walk began at the car park beside the Hazelwood Marshes.

The signpost told us that it was 2 miles to Snape Warren (where we'd terminated our search for the Boardwalk from the Snape end of the path.) We headed off up the sandy laneway, passing a cottage where the owner of a chocolate Patterdale pup called Norman told us which route to take. The sandy laneway became a hard surfaced footpath bordered with gorse  for a while.

About half a mile further along, we reached the next signpost but still no sign of the Boardwalk. The path crossed heathland before entering a wooded section.

© Suffolk Wildlife Trust 

We passed the signpost for Hazelwood Marsh. One look down the lane through the locked gate showed that the access was very wet indeed. The storm damage (breach in the sea wall) has closed the Reserve, so we walked on towards Snape Warren.

The elusive Boardwalk, at last

Finally, we spotted the Boardwalk at the end of the wood. It was clear that this was not a flat surface provided for the elderly or infirm but was a necessity for crossing the marsh.

We had to keep tight control of Ron because the temptations of the marsh were great for a Patterdale.  This became doubly important when the woodland gave way to wetland grazed by cattle.

Ron's recall was excellent (apart from a short dash into the wood on the return journey) He really enjoyed exploring the edges of the Boardwalk.

My ankle began to complain as we left the Boardwalk and reached the edges of Snape Warren, so we turned around and headed back to the car.

There was not much evidence of flowers on the marsh, apart from a few clumps of early Marsh Marigolds. The hedgerows were in full bloom and birdsong filled the air.

The weather, once again, was kind to us during the walk. The clouds forecast for the day did not begin to appear until we were driving back into Snape.

We lunched at The Crown, Snape. I'd wanted to eat there since we discovered that they serve their own home-reared meat and produce.

The house speciality is pork, so MWNN chose the pork platter for lunch. This was a selection of pork products - from left to right -chorizo,  black pudding fritter (batter almost as light as tempura), cured sausage with chutney, pork sausage, roast pork (already gone), and pork terrine.  He chose to have no accompaniments and 'helped' eat my chips, mushrooms and onion rings.

The food at the Crown was very good - lovely flavours and really well cooked. My locally reared limosin rib-eye steak was full of flavour and very tender.

The male Anglo-Nubian goat

I watched the  neighbouring table (a table of four who'd obviously eaten at the Crown before) order four starters and four deserts. Among the starters was flat mushroom on salad, topped with a wedge of hot goat's cheese. As they were leaving, they went to see the goats who had provided the cheese.

And so our day was a fine end to our two weeks' holiday in Suffolk. We've enjoyed good weather, good walking, and good eating in this special part of England.