Archive for November, 2012

Resilient Marigolds

Today started with a sharp frost which cleared to give a cold dry day.  Neil and I decided to make the most of the non-rainy day by doing some work outside.  He is repairing and rebuilding the fence by the side of our garage which adjoins the neighbouring farmer’s field.

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I thought I would try and plant out into pots the remaining daffodil bulbs, which I should have done some time ago, but these are the last few I hadn’t got round to.  As I cleared out some of the bedding plants from pots I noticed a splash of orange.  My Calendula Marigolds were still in flower this late into November (it being the 30th today).  How amazing and how lovely to see these bright orange flower heads on a dull overcast day.

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I was a bit late planting these Marigolds from seed this year, so I guess they are just catching up on their flowering time.  I shall save the seed heads so I can plant again next year.

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Xmas comes early to Buckland St Mary

Yesterday was the Christmas bazaar held in Buckland St Mary village hall.  For the third year running Neil and I were on the Bric-a-brac stall.  When we arrived in the morning to set up there was already loads of “Stuff” in boxes on our table for us to sort out.  In fact we had heaps of stuff and wondered how we were going to sell it all.

The bazaar was opened by Father Christmas at 2.15pm.

He has “Mother Christmas” there to help him sort our which little kiddie is going in to see him next!!

We had a great assortment of things on our stall:-  mugs and coasters, gloves, bags, plates, pictures, jewellery, books, draw liners etc to name but a few.

The funniest thing was someone had knitted some mittens and donated them, but they were both the left hand!! May be someone else is wandering around with 2 right  hand ones.

In spite of the heavy pouring rain the bazaar was well attended. There were raffles and cream teas, a bottle tombola  and the brownies were wandering around with “name the reindeer” so lots to raise money from.  We made £68.50 on our stall, just better than last year.

Busy Xmas Bazaar

The only down side to running the bric-a-brac stall is that you have to clear up whats left afterwards.  We boxed everything up and are going to take it all into Chard to the Ferne Animal Sanctuary Charity Shop tomorrow.

This was the first of various activities to look forward to in Buckland St Mary in the run up to Xmas.

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Making Sloe Gin in November

Our lovely B&B guests very kindly brought us a large bag full of Sloes that they had picked in the hedgerows in Herefordshire.  When they were here last time we were bemoaning that there were no sloes here in Buckland St Mary and they told us the sloes were plentiful near them, so they picked some, froze them and brought them on down to us.  That was so kind and thoughtful of them.

So we started off straight away making some sloe gin.  Firstly  you need the gin and we buy the cheapest we can find from Asda or Lidl.  For each litre of gin you need 250g of granulated sugar and a few drops of Vanilla essence.

These were the sloes just thawing out:

There were some really quite large ones amongst the haul, but they are smaller than damsons.  I used a funnel to add the sugar to the demi john.

And that’s all there is to it, just sloes, gin, sugar and vanilla. You give it a good shake every day for a week, every week for a month and every month for about 6 months.  We split the sloes into 2 demi johns as there were quite a lot of them, and in all used 2.5 litres of gin.  Goodness only knows what the recycling men thought of all the gin bottles in the recyling this week!!

To make sloe gin in November is somewhat later in the year than normal, but then we had different circumstances this year, so we are just glad to be making any at all.  It won’t be ready for Christmas this year though, so good job we have a little drop of sloe gin left from last year’s brew.

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Lovely walk up Staple Hill

Yesterday was a glorious sunny Autumn day, clear and crisp, but also bright.  We went for a walk up one of my favourite places called Staple Hill. There is a thick pine forest wood, with such densely spaced trees that there is only a little light that can be seen through them.

There was still a frost about and I got a picture of these leaves on the grass still with their white frosty covering.

We bumped into some friends as we were walking along the path.  They  had their dogs with them and we stopped for a chat as the dogs chased each other.

When we got through the woods we were delighted with the view, it was so clear you could see right over to the estuary and then to Wales.

Neil’s sister was with us and took a photo of us two:

It was a glorious day to go for a walk and just breathe in the fresh clean cold air.

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My dresser full of memories

Today I decided to dust and polish the dresser and everything on it.  It had got quite dusty, which is an unfortunate result of having woodburning stoves, they do produce a lot of dust.  Taking everything off and dusting it all was a job I quite enjoyed as I remembered where all the different objects came from, it was a trip down memory lane.  It is also very satisfying putting everything back clean and gleaming.

This may look like a crowded dresser full of “nick knacks” but to me it is a dresser full of memories.  There is the blue tea pot with a kingfisher on which was my Mother’s and her Mother’s before that: the phrenology head that my husband bought me from an antiques market; the Greek plates and vases that came from our trips to the Greek islands: the heart shaped pebbles which picked up on a Devon beach before we got engaged; the blue and white plate I hunted for in an antiques market in Hungary; our fish decorated bowl and pot stand that came from Turkey along with the”Hand of Fatima” tile and mirror; the cup, saucer and matching plate that were Neil’s Mother’s; the pictures on slates, given to us by visiting language students who stayed with us; the black and white Wedgewood vase that was a 21st birthday present.  I could go on.  All these items have memories and mean something to us.  I love my dresser full of “Stuff”.  It makes a house a home!!

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Roaring fire and new coal scuttle

There’s nothing like a roaring fire when it’s bitterly cold outside.  Our multifuel stove in the dining room heats the core of the house.  We have an old stone house and you need to keep the centre warm in the winter.  We burn both wood and coal, well nuggets of Taybrite and Ecocoal to be specific.  Most of the wood comes from the trees in our woods which Neil cuts down in the Spring, then leaves to dry out, then cuts into small enough pieces for the stove.

The stove in the dining room

We have a couple of kettles on top of the stove, which boil water for cooking or tea etc.  We can also cook soup, or stews in a pan on the stove top, so if the electric goes out at least we have some means of cooking.

Recently our coal hod or scuttle has been rusting away, until a large hole appeared in the side and the coal was no longer staying inside.  So we needed to buy a new one.  We looked in our local hardware store and they were really quite expensive, so then I looked on Ebay.  I love Ebay, you can get so many things and you don’t have to go trapsing round shops, it gets delivered to your door.  How lazy is that?  Wonderful. I found a great new coal scuttle for half the price of the local store and it duly arrived today.  You can see the old and the new below………

old and new coal scuttles

So with our wood pile, our stack of coal, our new coal scuttle we are all set for the winter.

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Bright flower in November

I have never grown Dahlias before, but this year decided to grow them from bulbs, in pots in the front garden for the first time.  I have had a couple of white flowers, then this single beautiful purple flower came out to give us colour and brightness in these dark winterish November days.

purple dahlia

This cheers me up to see such a bright flower in November.  I shall definitely grow more Dahlias next year!!

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