Archive for May, 2012

The chickens get a treat

The other day a friend gave us a whole pile of left over bread for the chickens.  The chickens go mad for bread, they grab a bit in their beak, run off to find a quiet spot to eat it and then run back for another bit.  When they hear our feet on the gravel they know we are coming and they wait by the fence expectantly.

The chickens waiting for us

Then as soon as I throw them the bread they tuck in straight away and all you can see is their bottoms in the air as they peck away. 




 After they have finished the bread they return to “spuddling” about in the run.  Spuddling being a local word for scratching about.  Some of them found some nice dry earth to have a dust bath.  Above is a picture of our remaining Cream Legbar hen, looking very handsome at the moment. She is the one that lays blue eggs.

A friend came to see us recently and was delighted to collect the eggs from the nest box, something of course that we take for granted as we do it every day. The girls are laying well at the moment, most days we get 12 eggs from 14 hens.

our friend collecting the eggs

So if you want to taste our lovely fresh eggs visit us at

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Invasion of the fluffy white seeds

For the past 2 days, fluffy white seeds have been blown in the wind all over the place.  They blew in through the bathroom window, they have covered the grass and the flowers, they even got in Tarquin the cat’s fur.  We thought it was Dandelion fluff, but there was just so much of it that by the side of the  back drive it looked like a snow drift.

fluffy white seed “snow drift”

This afternoon a local woodman came to visit and he told us the seeds were from the Willow tree, known locally here as “Withy”, so not dandelion at all.  The seeds just stuck to everything, they got it your hair and clothes and all over the seedtrays I spent the day sowing. 

 If you want to see our summer snow, visit us at   This white fluff is everywhere, it feels like we have been invaded.  Probably because we have so many withy or willow trees in our woods!!

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My two favourite walks

Yesterday a friend, whom we’d not seem for a few years, came to visit us.  It was lovely to see her again, and we were lucky in that the sun shone, even though the wind was cold.  After lunch we took her up to Staple Hill, which is one of my 2 favourite places nearby to go for a walk.

A wonderful tree at Staple Hill

Staple Hill is one of the highest places in the Blackdown Hills, Somerset, England and on a fine day it is said you can see right over to Wales. 

 From there we got back in the car and headed the short distance to Otterhead Lakes at Otterford.  At this time of year the bluebells are out in force and there are carpets of blue in the woods.

 English native bluebells have flowers on one side only and droop to the side.  Unfortunately there has been an influx of spanish bluebells in garden centres and these have flowers all the way round.  Luckily in established woodland the bluebells are all native English ones.

 We also spotted some wild garlic with pretty little white flowers and lots of ferns growing up poised ready to unfurl as these ones below.

It’s a lovely walk down to the first lake, then along  a footpath by the side of a stream, across a footbridge and then eventually the path comes out by the second lake.  We met a couple of guys walking their dogs and they took a photo of all 3 of us on the footbridge.


The footbridge at Otterhead Lakes

You can see we are well wrapped up as it was quite chilly yesterday, but it is a lovely spot for a walk, really beautiful with all those bluebells.

 If you want to visit Staple Hill or Otterhead Lakes and stay at our B&B, visit us at

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Marble cake

Today I made a marble cake.  There’s nothing like a bit of baking when the weather is not so good, and also when you’ve got friends coming over.  It’s an easy recipe, but looks impressive.

my marble cake


  • 225g butter , softened ( I used “Utterly Butterly”)
  • 225g caster sugar (I used golden castor sugar)
  • 4 eggs
  • 225g self-raising flour (I used wholemeal flour)
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder


Heat the oven to 180C.  Line an 8 inch round cake tin with baking paper.

Cream the butter and sugar together and then gradually beat in the eggs.  Fold in the flour and then divide the mixture into 2 bowls.

In one bowl add the vanilla extract and stir in.  In the other bowle add the cocoa powder and the milk, and mix until evenly distributed. (I have in the past split the mixure into 3 and done the 3rd bowl pink!!).

Spoon the mixture into the cake tin, alternating between the cocoa mixture and the vanilla mixture.  Take a knife and swirl through the mixture to mix the colours and create the marbled effect..

Bake in the centre of an prewarmed oven for 45 to 55 minutes.  The cake is cooked when a scewer or knife comes away clean from the centre of the cake.

Leave on a cooling tray for 15 minutes before easing out of the cake tin.

When you cut into this cake you will have a delightful pattern of cocoa and vanilla coloured sponge.  should keep for 3 or 4 days in an airtight container.

Cut Marble cake (from BBC Good Food)

Want some cake?? visit us at

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my seeds are growing

The seeds I planted in cardboard tubes indoors have sprouted and are reaching for the sun.  The beans are getting quite tall and will start to wind round each other soon, so I have decided to plant them out into the garden.

my emerging beans

The courgettes and sweetcorn have started to come through but are not so far advanced, so I will leave them indoors for another week.

Courgettes and sweetcorn

As we had some welcome lovely warm weather over the weekend, I also planted directly into the ground, some more sweetcorn, some raddish, rocket and lettuce.  I bought some cabbage seedlings at the local school May fete and planted those out, surrounded by shrouds to keep the rabbits at bay.  I can see my peas are starting to come through.  The blueberry bushes are covered in blossom, the rhurbarb is growing like mad, and we still are picking the purple sprouting broccoli.  It’s such an exciting time of year, watching all the plants spring to life in the garden, and looking forward to the harvest of fruit and vegetables in a couple of months time. 

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Sowing peas and beans

In spite of the unseasonably cold weather we have been dodging the rain and working out in the veggie patch.  Last week I sowed peas into one half of one of our vegetable beds.  As peas are susceptible to being attacked by mice and rabbits, Neil made a mesh frame to sit on top of the raised bed to protect the emerging seedlings from being munched.

mesh frame to protect seedlings

In the next bed we dug in plenty of rotting horse manure to make a good compost for our beans.  We then put up our bean poles into 3 lines and I sowed runner beans and climbing french beans, 2 to each pole.  It was quite a sturdy structure by the time we had finished, as we do get the winds up here on the hill.

Bean canes

 We have already started picking our asparagus, just 4 spears so far, so not enough for a meal yet, but slowly slowly.  This is our first year that we have been able to harvest any aspargus, so I am quite excited about it.  The rhubarb is going great guns, and we are still eating purple sprouting broccoli.  I love eating straight from the garden, so fresh and so full of vitamins!!

 visit us at – still some vacancies for May and June this year!!

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