Thursday 18 April 2024

In the Garden......


.........six Goldcrests - Regulus regulus have delighted us today as they flittered around our Norwegian Spruce for half an hour. Along with the Firecrest the Goldcrest is the UKs smallest bird. They particularly enjoy spruce trees as their small thin beak is ideally suited for picking out the tiny insects from between the pine needles. 
One of our resident Robins Erithacus rubecula 
has been cautiously flying in and out with mouthfuls of moss putting the final touches to its nest. The nest is in a climbing hydrangea on one our house walls but I am a little concerned that it is situated rather low. I am aware, however, that they do tend to build low and Robins know better than me. We have several Magpies Pica pica who patrol our garden along with a pair of resident Jays Garrulus glandarius which makes the garden a hostile world for smaller birds. I have already spotted a Magpie with a blue egg in its beak flying out of the hedgerow whilst watched by two very distressed blackbirds Turdus merula.

The exquisite perfume from this beautiful  Stephanotis floribunda in the conservatory brings back memories of my bridal bouquet which featured its pretty white waxy flowers
The flowers perfume reminds me of how lovely it would be to wander through a beautiful tropical flower garden in the warm April sunshine, which with luck, we hope to be doing soon. However, flying is currently off our agenda as we endeavour to keep our carbon footprint lower, so where might we be going? 

Thursday 4 April 2024

What is your Opinion?

Beatrix Potter's book about a little wood mouse named Mrs Thomasina Tittlemouse tells the story of her efforts to keep her house in order, which is something that I have been endeavouring to do, but very slowly - hence my absence.
Currently a controversial object in our small town is this black boy statue which has graced one of the building for exactly 250 years.

The building, once a school, is now privately owned, and the little statue rings the bell on the hour.
The black boy clock was made by a local clockmaker in 1774, and is the only clock with what is known as a Jacquemart clock movement in the county of Gloucestershire.
Jacquemarts are usually part of clocks or clocktowers, and are often near or at the top of a construction. The figurine is also known as Jack of the Clock or Jack o'Clock. 
Many people are calling for it to be removed, but is that actually an endeavour to wipe the slate clean and not acknowledge the awful facts and history surrounding the influence of slavery and colonialism? The current situation is that because the clock is attached to what is now a private dwelling, the local council's powers to take action are limited.

Friday 9 February 2024

Pondering.........



...........why gardens are flowering earlier this year! Rain and strong winds have featured in parts of the country, but reasonable temperatures have persisted throughout much of this winter season to date. 

Photo from earlier this week, by now this gigantic tree will be surrounded by a carpet of purple.

It was a pleasant day so we packed a lunch and headed off to view the touring Gaia installation currently being held in Tewkesbury Abbey, a glorious 900 year old building founded by the Normans. 
In Greek mythology Gaia is the personification of the Earth.
The artwork on the sphere was created by Luke Jerram using the Visible Earth series from NASA in 1972. We are all aware that the earth is known as the Blue Planet, but as the sphere slowly turns it is astonishing to see how overwhelmingly large the seas and oceans are compared to the landmass. Clearly, it is imperative that urgent action on climate change must happen to prevent further melting of the ice caps and glaciers and the rise in sea level.

Tuesday 23 January 2024

Celebrating Winters Little Marvels.......

.........Snowdrops Galanthus usually have the stage to themselves,

but this year they are sharing a platform with other Spring plants who are also well through the ground.

Snowdrops bravely face whatever weather is thrown at them, be it cold winds, rain, frost or being completely covered in snow. 

The striking whiteness of their flowers together with the finely etched vivid green markings are delightful features found on most of the 19 species of snowdrops. I think that I can safely say that those of us who live in this northern hemisphere eagerly look forward to the Snowdrops arrival, particular now, when the celestial sphere is near its lowest point for us.

Deep sleeps the Winter,

Cold, Wet, and grey;

Surely all the world is dead;

Spring is far away.

Wait! the world shall waken;

it is not dead, for lo,

The Fair maids of February

Stand in the snow! 

Cicely Mary Barker





These attractive Bohemian Waxwings - Bombycilla garrulus have been delighting us for the past few days. A very large flock of them have been feasting on the glut of hawthorn berries found on the land surrounding our home. Word of these lovely birds arrival appeared to travel quickly and an influx of "twitchers" turned up armed with long lenses. 
Rather like the Short-eared Owls that recently arrived here in large numbers from Scandinavia, more Waxwings than usual have also travelled here seeking food. 

Wednesday 17 January 2024

Chestnut Soup

Sometimes luck favours you - that's exactly how I felt when I spotted a pile of sweet roasted chestnuts left over from Christmas. Foil packed with a best before date of 2025, and ready to go. We love chestnut soup, but roasting the nuts and peeling them is a very time consuming messy job.  

I know that I have shown this recipe from my book "Wild Food" by Roger Phillips before. However, several of you mentioned that you had never eaten sweet chestnuts, so I am encouraging you to give the soup a try. I have looked carefully at the small print on the back of one of my packets, and amazingly they were packed in China! However, they are excellent. Apparently Chinese chestnuts - Castanea mollissima are slightly different from the European ones, they are smaller and  sweeter. China send their exports around the world, so these must be available to you too.

Chestnut Soup - serves 4
450g chestnuts
500ml milk
250ml veg stock
freshly ground black pepper & teaspoon of nutmeg
pinch of sea salt
2 large onions finely chopped & a clove of garlic cooked in olive or rapeseed oil
toasted pine nuts & parsley to serve
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Roast the chestnuts if not using the ready prepared ones. 

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Cook onions and garlic in oil until soft, add the milk, stock, and spices, then gently heat them all up. Before boiling point turn the heat right down and let them infuse. Add the chestnuts and cook them all gently, but don't boil. When the chestnuts are soft purée the mixture with a stick blender. 

This is a very tasty, nourishing, elegant soup with a velvety texture. Serve topped with toasted pine nuts, parsley, and some good crusty bread.  

Another "nutty" recipe coming soon.