size 12 in x 6in, 30cm x 15cm
Coming back to planet normal after a week on the Aegean was a bit
of a gentle letdown, the trees had coloured up, the leaves had dropped damply
onto every surface but there had been no major frosts; I could have left all
those hastily gathered tender plants to carry on blooming. Lobelia is still doing
well in a pot, it loves the damp of course, there is something very similar to
our annual blue lobelia growing in the rock crevices which sit in the permanent
spray from Victoria Falls.
The fox has started chewing up a pair of gardening gauntlets left
out by mistake. The cider is still bubbling away happily…Ah yes I have been
blogless for months but that does not mean nothing has happened, quite the
reverse. DIY dad has constructed an apple press from my collection of old oak
gateposts and a large car jack. Using this and a gang of family members we
pressed some 180 litres of juice. There were apples from a neighbour’s tree,
apples from relative’s trees and community orchard apples harvested in proper
cider fashion using a panking pole to shake apples onto a tarpaulin. Endless
fun of the“ Let soandso have a go with the pole he’s a proper panker” sort was
had, we do a lot of boy humour round here. We also had some of our own Ellisons
Orange which we had stored outdoors they had lost some of their zip but
produced a very sweet juice.
Todays painting is a worked up sketch from the holiday; it is a
view down one of the narrow passages in Mandraki , Nisyros. A very elderly
woman came and sat beside me to watch saying “Jasas corrie” (Bless you
daughter”, it felt like decades since someone said that to me. The polite reply
is “Jasas yaya” ( Bless you granny). The overhanging tree is a giant rubber
plant or Ficus. I could literally have spent the whole day finding places to sketch there and the same applies to
Simi town where we also went. The problem with that idea is that there were
three people who needed a wife, mother and skipper to make their holiday work.
It’s boring waiting for someone to finish their painting.
We went to Mandraki
for lunch after being taken up to the crater of the volcano. The caldera is
vast and contains both agricultural land and a heath complete with flowering
heather like a patch of the New Forest dropped into a volcano. Very odd indeed,
from the heathery plain you drop down a rough cliff path into a wide crater
which has a flat mud floor with pits of boiling mud in its centre. Around the
edge there are vents where steam , so thick with sulphur that it crystallises
on the sides of the vent in delicate yellow needles, streams out to pollute the
atmosphere with the worst rotten egg smell possible. Afterwards the smell of
sulphur clings to ones skin. There are also active cones within the caldera
crater which look very new and raw.
#181 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog
Day One hundred and eighty one Mandraki
Click here to bid size 12 in x 6in, 30cm x 15cm
Day One hundred and seventy two
Click here to bid size 8 in x 6 in, 20cm x 15cm
Written last night :
There’s nothing like being rung up and told that your child was due in school after a bleary breakfast when you dragged yourself out of bed only to be convinced half way through ( too late to enjoy going back to bed of course) that it was actually an inset day. We were sceptical and checked the school website…it was an inset day….I retrieved dinner money and set a revision paper….but the noble souls who teach my son were working through their inset day ( as well as doing the training presumably), in order to sort out the knotty bits that need to be fixed before the exams, they phoned to complain after the event. Damn, blast and double blast. All revision that occurs outside home and doesn’t involve major complaint sessions within earshot is worth real money in my book and today the money just rolled down the drain. I was humiliated and bound to apolagise abjectly , as the I lowered the receiver I turned to the snivelling brat responsible…….
Last night and the night before we had a barbeque…as it was glorious again today a hat-trick was suggested…it’s that dreaded call, ” I’m on the TRAIN and I think we should have a BARBEQUE!”. I’d run out of ideas and cholesterol capacity so got trout from the supermarket and put them in a fish gadget which holds them together. They looked very enticing with the skins scorched and curled, bread, lemons and salad were all that were needed. The day time temperature on a north facing wall has been up to and above twenty -three days running so it has been warm enough to sit out until dusk.
Last night I saw a pair of bats chasing each other, today I saw an orange tip butterfly the first in a few years. I am trying really hard to catch up on weeding and planting…I made some grim rotting corpse type discoveries in the shed, improper storage/extreme cold has cost me a very fine dahlia and some so so ones and a Colocasia .I will leave the final excavation until I am feeling braver.
There are quite a few losses in the garden from this time last year, the raspberry scented Salvia is all gone, the Dryas colony has died ( calls itself an alpine too), a pretty delicate Hebe is toast or rather kindling and a delicate south African Rhodoxis? has turned to dust ( I am almost sure). I’ve lost all the Siberian wallflowers including a good looking cutting. I also lost most of the seedling Hellebores from last year but that was drought last summer not the cold. More hedge is succumbing to the honey fungus and so are the potentillas…however they are producing insane numbers of seedlings. I can’t believe it when they were so hard to grow from seed originally.
Lovely aunt is enjoying the good weather and the barbeques at which she claims to be an almost complete novice…I can’t believe she has missed everyone of the barbies we have transported to my mothers house in the past and cooked for the extended family; she was always at weekend gatherings there until my cousins whisked her off in a hurry to the cleaner air in Hampshire. Her description of this to the G.P. had the G.P. ‘s eyes doing that “ you are kidding me “ thing at me. I ended up muttering “don’t go there” as it is all very distressing for her still. I can’t tell their side of the story as they refuse to discuss it.
I have tucked some sprigs of rosemary and Siberian Wallflower (taken from mothers magnificent plant…how come…oh never mind) into the cuttings pot to try and get some new plants. The seedlings of Tiarella which I put out in the shady area last year are looking fantastic, fresh green plants which are starting to merge into effective ground cover (effective free groundcover). The apples are starting to come into flower Owen Thomas two days ago and Katy today.
Onwards to the next barbeque day….
#172 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog
These apples are for cooking with in winter I think that they may be Calville Blanc d’Hiver.
Today I reheated the Oxtail stew I started yesterday, it was lush, lovely aunt ate until she was full. We have heard nothing from Social Services about setting up a meeting which is annoying.
Lentil and ham soup with sippets
There is nothing better than a bargain, but I prefer to pre-plan my bargains and make sure there is enough variety to keep us all (well me ) happy.
There are times when I have regretted the buy one get one free in the supermarket, it tempts me into buying outside my normal pattern and then I find I end up eating more than I want of one thing or never working it into a meal schedule and throwing at least some of it away. I make an exception for packs of satsumas and new potatoes pausing to check that the pack price is not simply double what it would be normally.
My big plan to get us though the next few years is to go back to some of the habits of the frugal fifties and earlier. As a kid I loved this as it meant you knew that if you had boiled bacon joints one day the next week would contain a soup either made with lentils or with leeks and potato. My grandfather could recite the weekly menu that his mother used to get the family through until she had more than one working adult at home-1900-1916. I wish I had written it down, it was fairly austere but it had a takeaway for the day when the washing was done-chips and mushy peas. Apart from that day it was all home cooked and each meal dovetailed around another. They made good use of cheaper cuts of meat and offal too of course, cowheel stew , tripe, elder, breast of lamb, steak and kidney and liver all featured until my childhood in the fifties/sixties.
So the take on buy one get one free is to plan a meal for one day which produces one or more meals for the next two or three days. Today’s example is a gammon piece which was quite dear but it made one meal on Friday night, it will make one more main meal for four and also lunch on Saturday.
It is very cold today, warming food is vital; I put a jar of the water in which the ham had boiled into the fridge in case I need it again. The rest I tasted and made a judgement on the salt level, I then diluted it to taste and brought it to the boil. I added half an onion which was left over from something else, a cup of lentils (red) and boiled until it was getting smooth. I then added a cooking apple peeled and chopped. It had gone a little thin when I add the extra water so I thickened it with semolina ( I could have used ground lentils), I didn’t use cornflour as it could have made it a little too smooth and the soup needs to have a texture to it. Once the semolina was worked in gradually I boiled it for three minutes. Just before serving I diced a slice of the ham and added chopped parsley, winter savoury, black pepper and a pinch of sugar. Serve with sippets, they are easier to cook than croutons. The sippets were made from the heel end of a malted grain loaf; each slice cut in four and gently fried in olive oil. It helps if the bread is old and beginning to dry out. Funny the boys eat brown bread without a word when it is fried. There is still enough on the gammon joint for an evening meal. It keeps well in the fridge so I will leave it until Monday by which time I will have some leftover chicken from Sunday, at the moment I am thinking chicken and ham pie in a creamy sauce. I’d be thinking ham chicken and dried cep risotto if the fussy member of the family didn’t have quite such an anti-risotto stance.
We moved back into our decorated room with a sealed sanded and polished floor, bliss. It has some furniture in too now which is going to take a bit of getting used to. I could end up with all my clothes in one room….odd that.
Click here to bid size 6 in x 9 in, 15cm x 24cm
There was a classic shepherds warning this morning lighting up the bathroom with a coral glow. By ten it had begun to rain and has continued on and off all day.
I was very lazy today the children got just what they wanted, pizza at lunch and fish and chips in the evening. The only homemade thing they had all day was an apple crumble which was cooked with the pizza.
Maths continued on the kitchen table, in fact a sheet of it appears in todays painting.
#148 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog
Sunrise over next doors building project, they are getting ready to roof this bit I think, but the scaffolders
had to be told to take the scaffolding poles off the new fence. The sky was actually several shades brighter
than this, honest.
Click here to bid size 7 in x 9 in 17cm x 22cm, charcoal and wash on Fabriano paper
On Friday I started to investigate the problem of what happens to the GCSE curriculum as it seems possible to me that local schools are only teaching a part of the syllabus; they may not be alone in this.
I started with OFSTED as they have given the school, where only part of the GCSE syllabus was taught to my son, a good report. They have not heard of the problem and tell me that it is not really within their remit. They suggested the Department of Education. The D. of E. said that they were not aware of a problem and it was not the sort of thing they dealt with. They suggested two more organisations, OFQUAL and QCDA, the people I spoke to here had casually heard of teaching to the exam but they saw it as something the media went on about. They finally said that it could only be dealt with in writing, so now I must wait up to two weeks for a reply.
Meanwhile I am contacting an academic who has said something about this in the press and I will try and find a journalist who can shed some light on the matter. No1 son thinks I am nuts; if a GCSE can be got by doing half the work he believes that can only be a good thing…..in the short term son, in the short term.
I was waiting for the paint to dry on my painting of the day and shaking out some clean washing when something started buzzing in it…it was the biggest hornet I have seen this year it must be a queen. I got it into a wine glass in the end and took it out to take it’s chance in the cold wintery night out there.See picture below:-
Recently painting of the ceiling has been more to the forefront of our minds than watercolour but we ran out of brilliant white and what with the twittering and the lumpen teenagers on half term I didn’t remember to get another pot. Anyway DIY Dad has retired to bed early with a cold after a miserable day negotiating time sheets with colleagues who want to bill 31+ days a month……
I have finished putting apples away now and just have the remainder left to get juiced on Thursday. The picture is charcoal and wash of fruit nearly ready to store, I just wrap each good fruit in newspaper and put it in the shed which is cool( but not very cool yet on sunny days like today). The garden is full of jobs that need doing lots of things need rescuing from the cold before it does for them.
#147 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog
The body as thick, no thicker than my drawing pencil…shudder.
size 6 in x 4.5 in 15cm x 12cm watercolour on heavy weight rag paper
A Good Crop of Cookers
This is a very rushed post. There has been too much to do today. I decided to tackle the honey fungus , buy a sack of potatoes , locate a plasterer, and find somewhere to juice apples closer to here than the place I’ve used before.
Once I had got hold of the cleaning fluid that has a second use as a fungus protector, I dug up all the three tufts of honey fungus. I then poured solution into the holes and then poured it over the bases of all the apple trees roses and shrubs in the area. It smells just like Jeyes Fluid, which always reminds me of the toilet arrangements at Guide camp. Apparently this can cause it to fruit more because its underground ‘bootlaces’ are knocked back , however the article goes on to say the spores can only infect dead wood. (Whereas the rhizomorphs or bootlaces can infect happy flowering plants and treees that I really want to keep) Then I decided to remove lots of stuff that was getting too big to let me check that there were no more signs of the lurgy hidden beneath. I ended up with a pile of cut stuff the size of a sleeping pair of hippos.
Opened my blog today and found someone from Australia selling cures for nail fungus attempting to post without saying anything about the subjects on the blog, are they a huge fan of watercolour or are they just trying to sell me a cure for my cured nails? I keep my nails sweet with neat tea tree oil and metallic green nail varnish. I must have put toenails in as a tag at some point and that had lured them or some automatic post generator to my site. Either that or they can smell my feet from Australia! Or they think honey fungus is a toe disease and not a pathogen of woody plants.
This apple is a James Grieve well it could be, we keep getting revisions on the community orchard apples.
#139 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog
NFS size 6 in x 5 in 15cm x 13cm watercolour on heavy weight rag paper
The morning came wet and dull; I took my boys to the station and to school and parped the in-laws on their way down to the station.
Then I had a very mixed day of cooking and shopping for food, trying to light my bonfire again and cutting down Berberis bushes which are getting too crowded. This isn’t as therapeutic as it could have been as it revealed a lot of scrawny brambles that had been sheltering underneath. I also started pruning out grotty branches on the pear tree. More air for next years crop.
I painted some fresh morning glory as yesterday’s had shrivelled up, and had a look at some other painting a day blogs. I started to key the apple I was sure was a Cox and it came out as a Christmas Pearmain, I think. Or a Manningtons Pearmain whatever that is. It tastes very nice quite sharp and Coxish.
Tonight after some protracted arguments with No2 son about the exact meaning of current and resistance and whether the central heating analogy was worth thinking about (plumbing is still on DIY Dads mind),we decided to bite the bullet and start moving stuff from the room where everything went during the build project. I found among other things an Art Nouveau vase from my grandmothers (I remember her bringing it back from a jumble sale coated in black muck) and four sable brushes along with a steel rule, a boxwood rule and some Indian ink. I consolidated DIY Dads kimberlite collection (as in a bit of every kimberlite pipe he ever found). This released two big cardboard boxes but the place still looks like a bomb hit it. It needs to be clear so that the ceiling can be skimmed. Although the builders did not work in that room they managed to trash the ceiling, mainly by falling through it, and we are sick of looking at the patch.
#136 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog
Two more mystery apples
size 6 in x 6 in 15cm x 15cm watercolour on heavy weight rag paper
Ceps ready for slicing and drying
The end of the summer holidays –
The what? It can’t be , that means uniform and packed lunches, No2 son is in a decline just thinking about it.
However before he went into his decline (i.e. lying in bed- hard to see the difference on normal existence over the summer really),the clever little sprat found a way to sell paintings over the internet in a site of one’s own using Paypal. It’s a BT government initiative so I got a call from a pleasant young Scotsman asking if I was planning to sell bulk quantities of paintings..”.ah, um, I could try, but honestly not very likely”. He was very nice about this in fact I think he used the word groovy which always makes me laugh (fresh young thing using jaded old hippy words).
Anyway, No2 and I have set it up as the Lemonaday Shop http://www.lemonaday-shop.co.uk/gallery-shop . On this you will find some of my older blog pieces and some other paintings that make an attractive addition to the site. The prices reflect that there is no chance of competitive bidding and include postage for simplicity at the moment. The prices also reflect my own attachment to the painting, some pictures fit into groups that could be exhibited together so may not appear.
There were a few more outings to the woods in the last week. (understatement, we went nearly every day) In the last two days we have picked over ten pounds of ceps, this is one of my favourite edible fungi, one which I didn’t find when I was a teenager and started collecting fungi to eat. Some years we find two or three in a season, even when you know where it grows, you have to get there on the day it produces its fruit or toadstool, before someone else takes it or kicks it over. This year is phenomenal and we have found a quiet wood where, it seems, no-one else collects. They will be sliced and dried and stored for winter soups and rissottos for years possibly. We are going to have a lot at the end of this year, the season could go on to November.
In the garden the red apples are finishing and the Ellison’s Orange is ripening. Ellisons orange is a fantastic apple when you get it just ripe and before it goes grainy. The official line is that it has a spicy taste: to me it tastes just like the ice lollies that ice cream vans used to sell called cyder ices. The tomatoes are showing some sign of blight but not much, they are ripening up fast now.
I am very pleased to see the creamy flowers of the Hedychium opening out in its new position and in its original site.
#122 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog
this painting is framed and for sale in the burgess hill open house event see blog June 4th
Day One Hundred and ten - a painting a day
size 6 in x 11 in 15cm x 28cm watercolour on heavy weight rag paper
Oh fantastic, we all get back from holiday and THEN we all go down like in sequence with something akin to the winter vomiting- starting before the holiday wash is complete but after DIY Dad has partially demolished the downstairs loo. He has removed the door giving an uninterrupted view of the hall and front door.
I think I have the less serious version I feel dreadful but not as if I am going to die (unlike the people I have been mopping up for).
There have been some very kind comments on my holiday pictures, for which thank you. I can whole heartedly recommend the beautiful landscape between Dubrovnik and Split, that is the order to do it in as the ferries can be booked in advance going north but NOT going south, unless you are as persuasive as I am….
The garden looked like an autumn scene this morning, the dew was so thick a shining drop hung on every blade of grass, red apples lay on the ground and branches hung low with fruit. How can this have happened?
#110 a painting a day by Alison Warner on her lemon a day art blog