It will be worked on in the studio to give a before and after. Easier to say this as No1 son has gone to see his grandparents for a few days, No2 is quietly teaching himself some computer code and someone else is cooking supper! Its turning out a better day than I thought.
I have harvested the pears from the early tree and have started to pick both the Katy apples and the Owen Thomas. There is a Worcesterish flavour apple at the community orchard ripe too.
Butterflies seem to be especially abundant this year and I have seen a Brimstone recently which is unusual, even rarer is the Fritillary has been flying strongly in the garden, we have dozens of Gatekeepers or are they Meadow browns? and a few Speckled Wood. A while back we were seeing Red Admirals and before that in June some tortoiseshells. Of course when I say abundant I do not mean in the sorts of numbers there were in London when I was a kid but relative to what I have seen here in Sussex in recent years. The most popular flower in the garden at the moment is the oregano which is covered in a busy haze of bees and bee imposters as well as the little brown and orange butterflies. An enormous Southern Hawker dragonfly was sitting on the spirea too one day.
The hot border was at an NGS garden called the Hundred House near Framfield in Sussex. I am currently planning a day trip to Great Dixter to keep DIY dad away from his multiple projects for a day. The garden here has had a big change imposed on it- the tatty summer house has been taken down and a new roof is to be made for it…..and a proper base. Anyone thinking of spending good money on a shed should pay attention here , the base is as important as the shed itself and needs to keep the shed itself up and out of the mud which will lead to rot as night follows day. Any earth which is nearby at a higher level will slump towards your shed, any tree which has leaves to drop nearby will pile its leaves on the damp earth and wick moisture up to the thin wooden walls. Animals will move in underneath if they can and make a den or nest, solitary bees will find crevices in the walls or doors to make nests. All this has to be considered when placing a shed. Then there is the maintenance…..the roof, it follows, must always keep out the rain. Our best shed/summer house is in amazing if not perfect condition …it appears in a photo of my former neighbours taken in about 1960. It must be made from red cedar as I do not believe any other wood could last so long.
size 15cm x 30cm, 6″ x 12″ approx.
There was to be a mornings painting of fruit with lovely aunt but she, not being able to concentrate as well as before, ate the still life!!
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 apologise abjectly , as 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.