Archive for September, 2012

Trip to Minehead on the West Somerset Railway

Today Neil and I took the unusual step of having a day off working in the garden. Instead we had a day out on the West Somerset Railway with a trip from Bishops Lydeard, just outside Taunton, to Minehead on the north Devon coast.  Yes it was grey and overcast, and we hadn’t exactly picked the best day to go, but we decided to go for it all the same.

Flowers at Bishops Lydeard

I admired the lovely flowers everywhere at the station as we waited for the steam train to arrive.

Neil admiring one of the steam engines

The train gently chuffed it’s way through the various stations and across the countryside for an hour and a quarter before arriving in Minehead.  This was a typical English seaside town with the normal assortment of amusement arcades and novelty gift shops, although out of season not that busy.  The tide was in when we first arrived at the beach.

Looking towards the harbour at Minehead

We took a leisurely stroll along the prom to the harbour where we found a quiet pub that served food, and treated ourselves to fish and chips. It was very reasonably priced and delicious.

Boats in the harbour at Minehead

We strolled back and on the way passed an old car parked in the front of a hotel.  It was a vintage Rover in excellent condition.

Vintage Rover

We sat in one of the many shelters along the sea front just watching the world go by.

Us sat by the sea front

There were some really gorgeous flower beds in colours of red, white and blue, which had been planted for the jubilee.

patriotic flower bed

Making our way back to the train station we could see the smoke from the steam engine coming into the platform.

steam train arriving in Minehead

They shunted the engine up and down the track to latch onto the other end of the train to drive us back to Bishops Lydeard.

steam engines at Minehead

The early afternoon train rambled back along the track to Bishops Lydeard and the sun came out as we were chuffing along.  With the rhythm of the train and and warmth of the sun, the effect was quite soporific.  We arrived back home early evening to a nice cup of tea.  All in all a great day out and thoroughly recommended.

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Peas to rival Birds Eye!

I’ve picked the last of our peas and I really had quite a lot.  Now Birds Eye say that their frozen peas take only 2 1/2 hours from plant to freezer so I set myself a challenge.  Pick them, pod them, blanche them, chill them and then freeze them and see how long it takes.

Freshly picked peas

I was pulling up the used plants as I picked the pods and putting them in the compost, so that took about an hour.  I then came inside and starting shelling them, that took another hour as there were so many and I was doing it on my own.

freshly shelled peas

As I had so many I split them into 2 and the first lot I plunged into boiling water for 90 seconds to blanche them, then ran them under cold water to chill them.  The cooled peas were then bagged up and popped into the freezer, so all in all just under 2 1/2 hours – I beat Birds Eye!!

The second batch I made into pea soup, the normal recipe, potatoe, a little butter, onion (if you like it, I left it out), peas and stock, boiled for 2o minutes then liquidised.  Resulting soup, tasted very much of peas as you would expect, but not my favourite and I won’t make it again.

However I now have lots of lovely peas in the freezer which didn’t come from Tesco!!

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Insects on the ice plant

We have a beautiful ice plant, which is a type of sedum, that has just come into flower.  It is amazing to see the insects attracted to these flowers, all sorts of buzzy things and butterflies.

butterfly on the ice plant

The buddleia seems to attract the butterflies more and the sedum the bees.

bees and other flying insects on the sedum

Our ice plant is currently in a pot in the front garden, but really should go ito the ground when the back garden is sorted out, so that is can spread and we can divide it.  The buddleia is in the front garden too and will need to be dug up and moved when we do the renovations to the pump house.

Peacock butterfly on the Buddleia

I should like to grow more plants that attract bees and butterflies, I think it is so important, so next year I shall have a new flower bed in the back garden that I will plant with insect attracting flowers.



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Beautiful Blackberries

Last year I planted a cultivated blackberry cane into the fruit cage.  I started to regret this decision when the plant turned into a triffid and produced runners all over the place, but in the Summer it was covered in blossom, and the bees were all over it.  I thought I might get some good fruit from it, and I wasn’t wrong.  The blackberries are not only plentiful but enormous.  Some the size of a 10p piece.  The wild blackberries are more like a 5p piece.

Comparative sizes of blackberries

Last night I picked the biggest ones out and we ate them raw with some creme fraiche, they were delicious, but today I picked some apples from our Bramley apple tree and cooked up some apple and the remaining blackberries with them, to freeze and to turn into blackberry and apple crumble later in the year.

Beautiful blackberries

So now, not only do I not have to go foraging for wild blackberries in the hedgerows, but I no longer regret planting this blackberry plant, as it is producing bountious beautiful blackberries.

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Macmillan Coffee Morning

Yesterday we hosted a fundraising Macmillan coffee morning in Buckland St Mary church.  Every second Saturday of the month a coffee morning is held in the church.  Each month different people organise it in aid of different charities.  The actual date set by Macmillan for the “World’s biggest coffee morning” is Friday 28th Sept, but as here it has to be a Saturday, we did ours early.

me ready for the coffee morning to start

I got my friends to help out too. We had 2 people on the raffle in the porch, catching people as they came in. Two more friends manned the cake and jam stall (I had been baking all day Friday and other friends donated cakes they had made too).  Neil and I were on tea and coffee making and he did most of the washing up, helped by another friend.  It still felt like hard work, all for an hour and a half coffee morning, but still, only once a year and we made £259 altogether.

Our friends running the raffle

We took £103.20 in donations for coffee, and a further £103 for the raffle, and £52.80 in cakes and jam.

The coffee morning in progress

So this week we will be sending £259 to Macmillan Cancer support charity.  We were pleased with the amount raised and grateful to all the helpers and all attendees.

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Wedding on the Bluebell line

Last weekend we went to a wedding on the Bluebell railway line.  The ceremony was in the waiting room on the platform at Horsted Keynes, and afterwards we were served canapes and bucks fizz on the station platform, whilst we waited for the steam train to arrive.

Having drinks on the platform

Then we got on a train in the dining car, first class of course, and went up the line, then back down the line to Sheffield Park, where we all got out and watched them move the engine round to the other end of the train.

The train coming in

More photos were taken, then we all piled back in the dining car, where we had been served drinks and a light lunch, and we made our way back to Horsted Keynes.

The dining car

Here is another photo of the steam engine:-

the steam train

The platform was all done out in 1920’s colours and curios.  There was a whole pile of luggage on one side, that amused me.  How different luggage looks these days!

left luggage

Neil was rather taken with this old sign:-

Neil with old BSA sign

The bride and groom then left in a beautiful old Rolls Royce car to the second part of the reception.

vintage Rollls Royce

The wedding cake was great fun.  It had been made by the bride, including all the flowers and leaves.  On top were lego figures of a bride and groom and running all round the cake board was a little steam train.  How original!

The wedding cake

There was a BBQ, then a disco and the evening was spent bopping away to “oldies”.  It was a really fun and different wedding and very in keeping with the bride and groom.  We stayed overnight and on Sunday made our way back home, with a couple of days to sort ourselves out before welcoming our next B&B guests.

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