Taking Stock – July

Making: lists for August, mostly walks, visits, trips

Cooking: Jamie Oliver’s Falafel patties I used mixed beans and a can of borlotti, with rose harissa because it’s what I had open in the fridge.

Sipping: Jasmine tea

Secret scrumping field location

Reading: I’ve read some v good books lately, including The Beloved Girls by Harriet Evans. I gave 5 stars for slow building tension and menace. A cracking story, it’s due to be published on 19th August

Waiting: for normal life to resume, it’s much better than last July (see post here ) but we are most definitely still in the grip of the pandemic and I’m cautious. The mask, distancing and sanitising is still very much in place and I don’t think I’ve been into a city since last autumn

My garden

Looking: up at the tv, it looks like Team GB just won another Olympic gold

Listening: to the rain falling

Wishing: for my library reservation to come quickly. It’s the first printed book I’ve requested since last winter. I’ll show you when it comes…

Barley field, on our circular 7 mile walk yesterday

Enjoying: dipping in and out of Instagram, my enthusiasm for it goes in phases. I’m still loving Alex Hollywood’s account, so many good foody ideas and recipes

Appreciating: all the colours of summer, currently dripping with water but withstanding the onslaught of rain and wind (not sure the local farmers will be feeling the same way. Have you seen Clarkson’s Farm on Prime btw? Recommend)

Eating: lots of salads, fish and I made my first plum crumble last night. I’ve always preferred raw plums, but since we’ve found an excellent source of plums for scrumping I promised Someone a crumble

Liking: Nigel Slater’s crumble mix: 150g plain flour & 80g butter mixed together, then stir in 50g ground almonds, 70g demerara sugar, 75g rolled oats. I sprinkled in a little cinnamon too. Not much, because I’d already sprinkled cinnamon, ground ginger and freshly grated nutmeg into the plums, with a 2-3 tablespoons of sugar and a dash or two of water. 180 fan / 200 c for 30-35mins

Loving: cold plum crumble eaten with extra thick cream

Buying: a new top and trousers from Seasalt. Love Seasalt!

Managing: weeds, sort of. Gardening is like housework, it’s never done

Watching: the phlox begin to flower, there’s a stunning pink one flowering, but now the white are beginning to appear. Next the purple and white one I hope

Whichford Pottery, Warwickshire

Hoping: an influx of visitors aren’t going to spell disaster for the area

Wearing: I’m not saying!

Hidcote Manor Garden, Gloucestershire

Noticing: it’s much, much colder. I’d folded up my Tilted Squares blanket and put it away upstairs, but have found myself snuggling in my Spice of Life blanket in the evening instead (FYI: Black Sheep Wools asked me to take part and publicise the CAL, in return for free yarn back in 2015. I chose my own colour combo.)

Following: which vegetables and fruits are now in season

Sorting: spiders into tissues

Buscot Park, Oxfordshire

Getting: restless

Coveting: a cottage by the sea, where it’s never affected by severe weather

Feeling: impatient to start new crochet makes, if I undo previously started things I can, right?!

Buscot Park, Oxfordshire

Hearing: sighing and breath exhaled – he’s tense watching people either run around, or leap over bars. I did enjoy watching the BMX race on catch-up, that was exhilarating but that’s the extent of my viewing. I hope we continue to do well, but don’t feel any need to watch

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What are you: eating, making, watching, reading?

Three Good Things

I’ve seen Three Good Things lists around quite a bit lately. Stopping to think about the good things means you’re focusing on positives.

They can be big things or small things, even really tiny things. I think that’s probably the point – noting even ordinary things for which you are appreciative and grateful; such as a perfect cup of tea, the smell of clean laundry or a funny shaped cloud that drifted by. It’s valuable practice, particularly during these strange and worrying times as it anchors you to what’s good.

Actually, I have a FB friend who has posted her ‘Happies for today’ for literally years and years. They’re nice to read as well as well as helping her.

I’m going to post mine here whenever I fancy. So here’s today’s:

1: Greengages

I look out for these plums every summer. They aren’t around in the supermarkets for long and when I see them I snap them up. These are the first I’ve seen this year.

These were grown in Kent (England.) So sweet and tasty.

2: Flowers

Just a few from my garden, it’s absolutely full of colour and buzzing. It’s bee paradise out there!

Hydrangea – this was taken in late June. It’s now changing colour but just as lovely

Lace hydrangea – perfection!

Finally the agapanthus flowers have begun opening – I always loved seeing these along a part of the Thames Path in London. This is the first time I’ve had any in my garden. There are more too.

First Japanese anemone to open

Osteospermum. I bought this in June. You see how it’s trebled since I repotted it? It’s now absolutely covered in buds again too. A close up of the flowers – all different shades of purple.

So kind – I was offered this bunch of dahlia straight out of someone’s vase. She has grown herself a flower garden and said she could always pick herself some more. Aren’t they beauties?

3: Being able to do a bit of crochet again!

Not too often and very carefully, but you can imagine how much I’m enjoying it. This was yesterday, sitting on my garden bench while listening to some music.

That’s the second side of my pot holder. Then when that’s done I’ll be pulling out my next Lucky Dip from my craft box of mystery long-ago started items!

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Would you like to post your Three Good Things somewhere? With or without photos, anywhere you fancy. Even in a notebook or on a scrap of paper no one else will ever see. It’s for you. But if you do fancy sharing – tag me! I’d love to see yours.

A walk

As we started off on our walk earlier I was saying how twee I find the ‘Come for a walk?’ kind of blog post. I always find myself involuntarily wincing, but then usually really enjoy the pics; especially when they’re from another county. Yorkshire or Cornwall are definitely in the top five locations.

During the first part of lockdown when we were at home, making essential journeys only and going out to exercise once a day, I started recording highlights of my walks for my friends on Facebook. Apparently that inspired some to do the same. I loved seeing where they’d walked, run or cycled that day. A change of scenery is always welcome.

Here’s this morning’s walk for you, from The Cotswolds.

We’ve walked a mere 10 minutes and found a small plum tree. I picked half a dozen to share. Result! Tasty and sweet. Someone thinks they are mirabelle, do you agree? They’re bigger than damsons, smaller than victorias.

That sky looks ominous, doesn’t it?

Plenty of sloes all the way along the path and fields around. I might have a try at making sloe and blackberry jam or something else new. It used to be a family thing to make sloe gin, but actually none of us really like it anymore. I now think it tastes like cough medicine, too syrupy and far too sweet. The thought of sloe gin has nudged me into remembering there’s a bottle of unopened damson gin given by friends the Christmas before last, somewhere at home and still unopened.

I’d paused again and said I must take a picture of the vine (my brother and I called them Tarzan vines when children.) Are they part of very old ivy plants?

Lesser or common burdock. So pretty.

I’ve been trying to identify this using the Butterfly Conservation site. I wondered if it’s a moth, rather than butterfly, but haven’t come up with anything on that section either. I sent the picture to a friend whose husband is apparently a moth geek, presumably he’s also a butterfly geek.

More future foraging opportunities; a tree laden with crab apples. I bet there’s plenty you can make with these too. Have you ever?

Ahhh fields of barley, it’s the feathery rippling in the breeze that gets me. I also like the log. It looks like it’s been carefully placed there for people to perch on and admire the views.

I’m sure I’ve taken photos here several times before, it’s like looking out of a picture window. It had started to rain, but because we were in a tunnel of trees, with deep hedges either side we could hardly feel it. My jacket was still tied around my waist, as it was rather on the humid side in fact.

Uh-oh here we go! Out from the tunnel of trees appraoching what I always call the Crossroads, where the footpath and bridleway cross, and it was raining on us a little more now.

I had stopped for a drink of water and we put our jackets on, there was no ignoring the rain now, but it was refreshing and I always like the sound as it plops on my raincoat’s hood. 

The view was now wheat fields all around. The combines have started harvesting crops around the area this week; so I have to make the most of the golden views while I can.

The rain had become torrential at this point and so we were sheltering under a large oak tree when suddenly I saw something going up and down in the wheat field, about 20 feet away. Another bounce and we realised it was a pair of very straight ears: a hare! When we stopped talking it seemed to stop bouncing. So I sang ‘Oh I do like to be beside the seaside’ (I’m not sure why that song) in a gentle bid to get it moving again. If it was, we could no longer see it.

Thunder had started crashing overhead. It was definitely time to carry on.

Ten minutes later in the torrential rain I took this photo of a beautiful thistle under a tree and we decided the wisest thing would be to turn around and go home; we were soaked through to the skin. I realised my coat must need re-proofing. This is the first time I’ve ever been properly wet during a rainstorm, it’s served me well in the three or so years since I bought it. We squelched along the field edge, kicking up muddy spray.

By the time we got home we’d walked over five miles and were so wet through that we had to peel off our sodden and muddy clothes in the kitchen, to put them straight into the washing machine.

I stood in my underwear eating a few Big Hula Hoops and sipping cold lager out of a can before going up to change. That’s a pretty good ending to a walk!