Using Lavender from the garden

We have lavender bushes all along the path in the front garden.

At this time of year I have to cut back the lavender flowers, and then dry them to be able to use them.

I cut the stalks and then patiently cut the flower heads off and put them in a paper bag to dry.

When completely dry I can use them to make lovely little lavender bags to sell or for gifts.

Or I use them to include in my therapeutic wheat and lavender bags that you heat in the microwave and place on whichever part of the body ails. These I sell for £5.00 each. contact me at kathy.arnold@gmx.co.uk if you would like one.

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Walk at Castle Neroche

Sunday was a bright cold day so a morning walk was in order. Castle Neroche is a Norman motte-and-bailey castle on the site of an earlier hill fort in the parish of Curland, near Staple Fitzpaine, Somerset. It is a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The land is owned by the Forestry Commission and there are stunning walks with breathtaking views over the Quantock Hills and Exmoor.

I particularly liked the dragons that were carved into some old tree trunks along one of the paths

The paths take you through beautiful woodland with a steep drop to one side. It’s quite a popular place to walk and there were lots of people with their dogs or children out on Sunday.

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Bees that have swarmed

Bees have been keeping Neil busy today.  He was called out to a large swarm, he described as a prime cast, meaning the initial swarm from a hive.  This swarm was hanging in a fir tree and we were told it had been there for 3 days, so Neil was anxious to get there and get the swarm before they headed off elsewhere.DSC04041

Firstly he placed a new hive on his workmate, under the branches of the tree where they hung, and then smoked the swarm,  cutting off various branches of the tree to clear the way to the bees.  He then cut the branches with them on and shook them down into the hive.  Most of the bees went in but some flew around and about.  DSC04042

Hopefully the queen was in the middle of the swarm and was successfully knocked into the hive.  We put on the crown board and the lid and wrapped the hive in a sheet and placed into the boot of the car.  Driving back home we must have looked funny in our bee suits that we still wore in case any bees were flying around in the car.

Once home Neil transferred the hive to one of his bee stands and opened the door bar a little so they could come and go.  It’s a waiting game now to see if they stay put, but why wouldn’t they, now they have a safe hive with brood frames to build upon?DSC04044

Neil then got a call from a friend Dave, to say he had been contacted about another swarm on a fence post in a farmer’s field.  They both went to investigate and wow was it a large swarm on this post? 20200714_171950

Dave put a skep over the top to encourage them to move into the dark space as they like dark spaces. This is Dave below.20200714_172016

Neil set his workmate up again and put another hive right next to the post, and lured it with lemongrass oil to encourage them to go into the hive.20200714_172412

This will be a waiting game to see if they like the hive.  It was too difficult to brush them down into a hive as they were wrapped around the post and there is always the  danger of losing the queen when you do this.  Dave and Neil will go back tomorrow to see if the bees have moved.

What a busy day with the bees!!

 

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Gooseberry and Elderflower Cakes

I’ve been finding things to do with gooseberries as we have such an abundant crop this year.  Apart from stewing them up for crumbles and pies (and popping the stewed fruit in the freezer) I have found other recipes and here is one.

You use fresh gooseberries just top and tail them first.

Ingredients:

150g self raising flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg

40 golden caster sugar

2 tablespoons milk

75ml elderflower cordial

50g melted butter, slightly cooled

225g gooseberries

1 tablespoon of demerara sugar

Method:

Pre heat oven to 200 degrees C or gas mark 6

Put 12 cake cases into a cake tray

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl

In another bowl whisk the egg, sugar, milk, elderflower cordial and melted butter.

Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ones quickly (ie about 15 seconds)

Fold in the gooseberries whole,  (reserving 12 smaller ones), no stirring, the mixture will look lumpy

Divide the mixture between the cake cases (I made 12)

Lightly press 2 smaller gooseberries into the top of each cake

Sprinkle the demerara sugar over the top

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until well risen and golden brown

Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool

Store in a airtight tin – these will keep for 2 or 3 days – delicious

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Little baby swallow

We  have a swallow’s nest in the stables.  It is right up in the roof top timbers and we have seen the mother bird flying in and out and heard the cheeping of little baby birds.

The other day Neil opened the stable door and there on the ground was one of the tiny birds.  He quickly fetched a tall ladder and put on some latex gloves so when he touched the birdie it wouldn’t get his human smell.

He picked the baby bird up and put it in a bucket so he could climb the ladder safely whilst holding onto the baby swallow.  I passed the bucket up to him and he picked up the birdie and popped it back in the nest.DSC04016

A little while later we saw the mother bird flying into the stables again, so all was well.

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Rat Attack!!

There’s been a naughty rat who has munched his way through the wood into the hen house.

Neil went down to check the hens were all in the hen house the other evening and found a rat in the hen house helping himself to the hen food. He had gnawed his way through the wood above the door, quite a bit hole to let himself in.20200615_103739

He soon scarpared when he saw Neil.20200615_103731

The next day Neil screwed a large piece of pallet wood across where the rat had gnawed his way through.  He checked last night and it had done the trick for now, no more rats.20200615_104639

We have had to put down some rat poison too to try and dissuade the rats from trying to get in the hen house.

Time for a new hen house we think.

 

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Walking along the prom at Seaton May2020

As it is now allowed to travel to exercise we took a trip to the seaside at Seaton which is 20 miles from us.

It was a beautiful day, blue sky and seamless sunshine and the sea was calm with the waves just gently lapping the sand.DSC03951

There were few people about, and those that were were keeping their 2 metre distance.DSC03953

A group of 4 teenagers went swimming in the sea.  I imagine it was still quite cold.

The benches were mostly empty which makes a change but just shows how few people were there. Neil took advantage for this snap.DSC03954

There were gorgeous banks of flowers along the promenade.DSC03955DSC03957

I took the opportunity to wear a sun dress – makes a change from gardening clothes.DSC03959

It was really gorgeous there and as I had not been out anywhere (except our local lanes) for 8 weeks made a great change.DSC03961

However, there was no where to buy an ice cream or any refreshment open, and the public toilets were also all closed, so if you are going to Seaton, bear this in mind.

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A drive through Dommett to see the Bluebells

On Saturday we took a mini detour through Dommett (which is still part of Buckland St Mary), as the scenery is so beautiful and picturesque along there.

The road had been freshly gritted.DSC03933

The views are lovely.DSC03934

Someone had a vigorous Clematis Montana in their front garden.DSC03935

Another householder had painted a rainbow for the NHS on a tyre, very imaginative!.DSC03936

Then we came to the Bluebells.DSC03938

The lanes are so pretty as you drive along.DSC03939

There were lots of Bluebells.DSC03940

And another bank of Bluebells.  I do love to see them.DSC03942

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A walk that was an excuse to wear a dress

Ever since Lockdown we have been out in the garden, weeding, digging, preparing the veggie beds and I have been wearing old gardening clothes.  I have 3 new Summer dresses, bought before Lockdown and no reason to wear them.  So I decided I would put one on to go for our walk along the lanes of Buckland.

We stopped at the telephone exchange and I posed on the steps – me in a dress!!20200508_112541

I don’t think we have ever walked these lanes at this time of year before.  Normally when the Bluebells come out we head to Otterhead Lakes as they have swathes of them there and they are so beautiful.  So this was the first time we came across the fields of Bluebells here in Buckland on our walk.20200508_113519

They were not easy to photograph as they were behind a tall hedge, but we had a go.20200508_113418

It’s amazing what you can discover because we are being forced to do things differently and this gives us an opportunity to view our local nature in a new light.20200508_113401

 

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Walk through Buckland St Mary to the church and back.

During this coronavirus lockdown we are making more time to go for walks so that we get some exercise other than gardening.  Today we walked through the village up to the church and back and these are some of the views we saw along our way, for the benefit of those who don’t live locally.

Firstly the view across the fields from just up from our house.20200419_125805

A field had either been mowed or rolled into neat lines,20200420_114502

and this is where the footpath sign to the church is.20200420_114517

The telephone box by the telephone exchange is looking a bit worse for wear. Perhaps we could have a village book swap in there like some villages do?20200420_114849

Further up the lane a flag was flying.20200420_114956

We passed a Dutch barn where they store hay in the Winter and commented on the lovely view.20200420_115136

This is the lane to the mill.  We  have never been down there as we are told the path becomes very muddy.20200420_115221

A sign post shows the way to Buckland Church and in the other direction to Birchwood.20200420_115308

Bear right there and you can see the church.20200420_115336

Opposite the church is a small shelter.20200420_120407

The lychgate to the church has been recently renovated.20200420_120503

This is the wording as you pass under.20200420_120519

As we walked around the outside of the church we spotted this gargoyle.20200420_120631

The steps up at the back of the church lead to private land.20200420_120648

All the tombstones were showing up brightly in the sunshine.20200420_120748

The memorial still has some poppy wreaths on it.20200420_120858

On the way back home we stopped to look at the view towards Birchwood.20200420_121912

This is the lane homewards.20200420_122710

The junction of the lanes that make the triangle near us, also shows a neighbour’s field.20200420_123059

And home again.  En route we stopped to chatter to locals in their gardens or in their cars, all from a suitable 2 metre distance of course.  It makes for a sociable walk.

 

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