Wednesday 25 November 2020

No Man's Land

Hello Friends!

It's a no man's land between the seasons now; days are mostly void of colour and subtle shades of graphite wash over the fields and the valleys and the hills; the flowers of Summer and the leaves of Autumn have blown away, gone for another year, and only seed heads and skeletons remain, starkly standing against the sky, to remind us of the long gone days of Summer. Autumn days shift, and drift around us in swirling mists and Winter starts to nip at your nose and your toes.

Rain falls, often in great curtains of water, sheets of rain that fall from the cloud laden sky and often all is backlit by a pale shaft of sunlight that reminds us of that which is hidden from view

The gales of late Autumn batter us with increasing regularity and thoughts turn more and more to being indoors.  Hallowe'en decorations are down, but the seasonal pumpkins and leaves still decorate my home and will do until Thanksgiving brings this time of year to its conclusion.  Although I no longer bake a special meal, for it seems a bit odd to carry on a tradition observed from a different chapter of my life, and as a Welshwoman living in Wales I have now returned to celebrating Harvest Thanksgiving in early October, as is the way here.

Of course, a plus of all the cloudy weather means that occasionally we still see some lovely sunsets out to the west of the cottage and all the bare branched trees provide a perfect foil.

Occasionally, we have an unexpected break in the grey, late Autumn weather and we are blessed with that most precious of things, a blue skied, brightly sunny day.  Although cold, I wrapped up warm and did a few hours clearing in the garden.  These are the views to the west and north, respectively, from my future vegetable plot.

Sadly the fortnightly garden waste collection finishes this coming week, so I will have to make a corner in which to place the pernicious weeds if I am to continue clearing the garden without the bin collection.

It's Thanksgiving in America, and although we don't celebrate in Wales, I still think it's time to bring out the turkey patterned plates I found earlier this year.  Even though I am a vegetarian, they are so beautiful it is a shame not to trot them out again.  As the traditional meat for Christmas Dinner in Wales is turkey, I will keep them out through December.  

They are by Johnson Bros and are, I think, called stoneware, and look as if they are hand coloured on a transfer.

Barnyard King is the first, and the second is Wild Turkey

Soon, thoughts will turn to Christmas decorating, and I wonder how these holidays will be marked this year.  Will we be able to gather responsibly with limited numbers of close family, or will we have to stay put and celebrate responsibly and in a very different way, according to the guidelines dictated in our various regions.   However you celebrate, have as wonderful a day as you can manage while keeping everyone safe.

Some birds of a different sort now, a couple of garden birds happily foraging some forgotten apples.

Finally, despite the cooling, sunless days overall, I had quite a surprise to find these in the strawberry pots this morning.  The seasons sure are as out of kilter as the year has been.

Until next time
Stay safe and well
Deborah xoxo

Wednesday 11 November 2020

Little Donkeys

 Hello Friends!

How are you all doing?  We've just come out of a seventeen day Fire Break Lockdown in Wales, and England has just started a four week long Lockdown, which may be extended. I hope you are keeping well and busy, to help take your mind off things.

Once, a long, long time ago I had a dear cousin who regularly holidayed in Devon, and every year she brought back a tourist trap gift for my Grandmother.  Very often, this gift took the form of a donkey which always puzzled me, why a donkey?  Now I think about it, this was because she always went to the beautifully picturesque, historic, and unique village of Clovelly which is on a very, very steep hill.  Donkeys have, historically, played an enormous part in the day to day transport of provisions and services in this village on a hill, and you can read more about the village and the donkeys here and here.  I believe, today, the villagers use sleds to haul everything, thankfully the donkeys are retired and are now an attraction, no longer used as beasts of burden.

As I have been going through boxes in my attic, some of these have come to light.  

This one is a salt and pepper set, and if you look at the relief plate, following, that donkey also carries similar panniers so I think these are based on traditional methods of carrying goods up and down the streets of Clovelly.

Although not much is moving in the garden at present, I am thinking ahead to next Spring and an early crop of Broad Beans.  I love Broad Beans, so did my Mum and we always grew a later harvesting crop.  I enjoy them from the first pick of fresh, young beans, right through until they are old and floury when I cook up a panful and toss the well cooked beans in plenty of butter and serve seasoned with pepper and vinegar with slices of thick, buttered wholemeal bread to mop up the vinegary, buttery juices.  Mum and I both loved that Broad Bean Feed as we called it.

So, apparently, you can get an early crop of beans by starting your seeds off in Autumn.  I am all for having an extended crop of one of my favourites, so I sowed seventeen seeds, half the contents of my pack, around the middle of October, soaking them first, overnight, in a bowl of water.  This, apparently, helps speed up germination.

By Hallowe'en they had started to germinate, 

A few days later, coming along nicely

and this morning, the plants seem to be doing well, strong and healthy looking.

So, in under a month, I'm very happy with them.  Now the hard work begins, nursing them through the cold, wet Winter months.  Fifteen out of the seventeen seeds germinated, and I have another seventeen seeds to sow in the Spring.

I hope they come on and I have plenty to freeze, and to share with my neighbours too.

Until next time
Stay safe and well
Deborah xoxo