Pictures of Bunkers Hill taken from my back bedroom over the christmas period last year. It seems some parts of Britain may see some snow as early as next week... Hope we don't though, not until Iv'e finished work on the 17th of December then it can do what it likes...
I want to thank my friend Bev's mum and dad (Dave and Janet) for giving me a chance to help out on their new allotment at feniscowles, as you can see it's a cracking little plot. Full of potential as they say. The only downside is that we all have dogs with quirky mischievious tendancies. Meg the little Patterdale terrier belonging to Janet and Dave is a none stop apple hustler, she just has to round them all up fresh or rotten for you to throw. My dog Harry on the other hand is a well seasoned potato rustler he can't stop nicking them from my potato bag at home. Bev also has a terrier called Archie, whose a bit of a carrot muncher, he'll definately give those carrot flies a run for their money and he loves..... digging. Bev's other dog Kenny (a rescue) is the dark horse in the pack, we don't yet know what he's likely to get up to down on the plot. The good news is that only one dog is allowed down at one time. (Phew) you could imagine the carnage...
It doesn't take much to put a smile on Harrys face, sticks and beaches seem to do the trick each time. It was our first trip to Runswick bay and like most bays in this area tricky to get down to because of the steep gradient. There was a small public carpark at the bottom, a bit pricey at three quid for three hours, alright if you were staying the full 3 hours of course but we were a bit limited because of Harry's dodgy elbow joint. It turned out to be more of a whistlestop tour really. I'd like to have stayed longer because it was lovely and secluded, the beach renowned for fossils, not that we found any.
Just before I went away for a short break in North Yorkshire I managed to bottle up the sloe berries that were in my freezer. Just half fill a litre Kilner jar with the sloes, quarter fill with sugar, then fill to the top with gin. If you don't get enough sloes just use a smaller jar using the same method. You can use brandy or vodka too, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall prefers using vodka to gin because he says its the best way to enjoy the pure flavour of the sloe berries. Gin of course will mask the flavour to some extent because of the juniper content. Don't forget to prick the sloes with a pin to make sure you get as much of the juice and colour into the gin. Store in a dark place for a minimum of 2 or 3 months. Its probably a good idea to strain the juice through a muslin cloth to get rid of any bits of berry flesh that are floating in the gin.
One day all of this will be mine....well a small plot on this allotment site to be precise. Phil and I decided to walk back home along the canal having dropped the car at the garage for its annual mot. We passed by what remained of the old Albion mill on the left and the bowling green on the right. Im sure my grandad Cyril must have played a match or two here at one time. Sadly the bowling greens he played on at Queens park have long since gone, the pavillion having been burned down by vandals. As I passed by Feniscowles allotment I had a quick peek over the fence wondering which plot would eventually be mine. It's probably still a distant dream as the waiting lists are very long... Still, there's always the foraging to fall back on, the sloes are already in the freezer waiting to be soaked in a litre of gin.
Hehe look at these two sweaty Betty's, our number 1 pairing Karen and Mick. Last year A team Abacus was promoted to the first division for the first time and the B team to the second. Unfortunately Mick who was so looking forward to the challenge was diagnosed with a unexpected illness and will miss out for the next year at least. All the team miss you loads and wish you a speedy recovery after your op. Tonight's first game against Halsteads will be no easy ride but we should do ok, fingers crossed. A bored Andy at pre season practice wondering what it would be like to have long locks
These are just a few wildflower pics that I've gathered in my photo files over the last few months. Most have been spotted whilst walking through Witton park and Pleasington nature reserve, one of the paths leads you to this railway bridge which is built over the river Darwen. The Darwen rises on the moors between Bolton and Darwen at a spot called Cranberry Moss, (Freethy 1988 p.133), bet there aren't any cranberries now. I never been there but would like to go check it out sometime. Years ago this was a vibrant clean river with brown trout, salmon and otter, sadly the old textile industries used it as a dumping ground for dyes heavily polluting the waters and surrounding land. The Fielden family who were very influential and wealthy lived alongside the river indeed they once owned Witton park in 1742. William Fielden decided to move away to Scarborough but could not sell their grand house on the banks of the river Darwen. Unfortunately his decision to sue the Board of Health over the severe pollution was unsuccessful. It subsequently fell into ruin and is still there to see today. I've tried to climb down to the ruin to take a photo of this once beautiful property but it is really boggy and there is still a lot of dumped garbage down there which makes it quite treacherous under foot. Information from the River Ribble by (Dr Ron Freethy 1988).
This lovely flower is the marsh cinquefoil: Gaelic name Coig- bhileach usige or Marsh five finger and is related to the wild strawberry. I think there is a discernible resemblance
Sneezewort what a great name
Yarrow: Achillea Millefolium also known as "devils nettle" or "devils plaything". Love all the folklore surrounding herbs and wildflowers. Apparently yarrow was dedicated to Satan and widely used in charms and spells. Supposedly Druids used the plant to ward off evil spirits
A type of cranesbill, common here in Pleasington but such a nice simple flower. Love the colour on this.
Today started really bright with blue skies but quickly clouded over. Yesterday it was the opposite cloudy then blue skies. Phil refused to let me take the camera out with us yesterday until... he said, you've sorted out all those photos there's over three hundred on ere. Typically a photo opportunity of a kestrel hovering was missed grrrr, it was so close to us and wasn't bothered a jot that we were gaping over at in in wonder. It swooped down and pounced on the ground although I didn't see anything in its claws when it moved off. We went back today but there was no sign of him. Got this pic though of the unusual white mushy with the grey gills I suppose it will have to do. The other mushrooms pic were taken a couple of weeks ago.
Green has got to be my favorite colour and was loved by my grandma Doris too. She had more slippers, scarves, bags and shoes in this colour than you could shake a stick at. I think green is so... refreshingly cool, tranquil and relaxing. That's part of the reason why Harry and I like it so much in Pleasington woods or any forest come to that.
This guy lives a couple of doors down from me along with about 5 other older cats. He's a bit of an adventurer already climbing trees like a regular monkey. He's a keen birder but I don't think he's caught anything yet. Can you guess why I called him Poirot?
Harry gradually getting his mojo back after a really bad flare up of his elbow dysplacia. I know he won't be here forever but the time we do share has become even more special if that can be possible. It's really hard to contemplate life without him but I have to respect the fact that my lovely big fella is knocking on a bit and a time may come when I have to make a decision for the right reasons and not for my own selfish wants. This record by Goldfrapp reminds me of the bitter sweet nature of owning a dog. Nature always takes it's course despite human intervention and what we might desire. To feel pain is part and parcel of being human
Lots of other people seem to be making sloe gin these days but where are all these sloes to be found? The other week I came across this bush which was covered in bloom covered purple berries, could these be what I'm looking for? Even after looking on the net I'm not convinced that they are what I want them to be. Those in the know say that the berries contain a stone and very little flesh. These berries do indeed have a stone inside, so can anybody confirm whether this is a sloe. Still there's lots of time to make my mind up because the best time to pick the berries are after the first frost.
I've worked in an optical lab in Blackburn for nearly twenty five years now, much of the time I'm on the phone to Swedish franchise holders answering queries. Most of the people in the shops can speak really good English so there arn't many problems. After asking me about the despatch times for a couple of his patients glasses, Bjorn from Sveavagen Sweden moved to some polite small talk.. He said...
You know.... It's like dis, (It's not a spelling mistake I'm trying to capture his Swedish lilt ;-) )
Are you troubled by dose ah... er... snails
What do you call them... Dose Dose...
"Snakes without shells"
You,ve got to laugh. To be fair I can't speak a word of Swedish so hats off to him.
at the front door
I think the pictures speak for themselves... So Bjorn's ravaged allotment is not alone. According to this months Gardeners world issue Slugs are the number 1 gardeners pest. My outside chilly plants have been scoffed to bits by the little blighters... Unfortunately the garden has the perfect housing for em, dry stone walls, I swear every crevice has a lodger...
But this is not the end of the story, help literally is at hand, we have froggies!!!. Lots of froggies. See also our Mick's blog over at Badylynge
PS: No slugs have been hurt as a consequence, i don't believe in pellets, beer drownings or squishing of any kind, although I have been known to take them for a long walk... All creatures have a place.
Follow the noise of Bees to get to know the best places for tea, that's what I did. Passing under the heavily laden branches of a enormous tree I heard what sounded like a thousand bees above my head. Looking up I not only saw but smelt the fragrance of honey wafting from an abundance of yellow tree blossom. Apparently lime tree blossom makes amazing tea so I've got a few bunches drying in my airing cupboard to do a taste test in a few weeks. Mint and lemon balm also make excellent infusions.
I was determined not to let this year pass without making use of the Elder Flower, last year the Elderberry wine went down a treat, so much so that only one bottle remains. Albeit 3/4's. The word is that the elderberry wine tastes so much better if you allow it to mature;-) Fat chance.....
Well I did have a go at Elderflower champagne and the process was... as the Meercat says 'simples'.
16 flower heads
4 lemons, rind and juice
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
4 litres hot water
2 litres cold water
1 sachet of champagne yeast (not in Hugh's recipe), this is an optional extra as the flowers have natural yeast.
Sometimes when me and Harry go to the woods just off Bunkers Hill we bump into one eared willy, (not his real name), he doesn't give any ground so needless to say we carefully retrace our steps and find another path. Bet he's not so rufty tufty really but you can't be too careful;-).