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Sunday, 21 June 2015

Summer home and away

The rhythm of my days has changed, for a short time at least. I've started working in a magazine office for three days a week for the next couple of months. It's my first time in an office for 20 years, so I am still getting used to the change. I take a packed lunch. I rush out of the house in the mornings looking vaguely presentable, I have set hours and sit at my computer all day without jumping up to put the washing out or nip down to the post's very different. With one son away, and the other now 17 and very independent, it seemed like the right time to take up the offer which was made to me.
I continue to edit the local magazine, so my days are choc a bloc now. But there have been plenty of opportunities to get out and about. We spent a lovely weekend in Norfolk last weekend, and yesterday I went to a traditional village fete in the neighbouring county of Rutland. Actually, to be strictly accurate, the village is in Northamptonshire, a few metres away from the Rutland border (someone kindly pointed this out to me on Twitter :))

This was a proper old fashioned fete with a brass band playing, cream teas, plant and cake stall, books, bric a brac and a Tombola. It was drizzling when I arrived, but the sun soon came out and the cagoules came off. We sat in the sun on a garden bench and ate our scones and drank tea. 

Harringworth is the village, and it is famous for this rather wonderful viaduct.

It is such a rural county. There is no McDonalds in Rutland - or any other fast food chains! I felt as if I had stepped back in time. I soon had some company on my stroll. These ladies had squeezed out of their field and began to follow me. The pied piper of chickens, that's me.

Once they realised I had no food, they lost interest, but they did keep me company for some way!

We also had a great weekend away in Norfolk last week. It was a drizzly couple of days, but again, it was still very beautiful. One day we walked over the salt marshes at Thornham to the beach and on the second we did the same, this time at Burnham Overy Staithe. There were so many wildflowers, and so many birds. My Dad was with us and was able to tell us the names of everything we saw. These included a Spoonbill, Egret and Avocet. 

While Dad was spotting birds, I was fascinated by this bank of wildflowers. The others left us way behind! I even spotted some wild lupins.

It's such a dramatic landscape, like nowhere else.

Loved this little boat.
And this red one...

We walked miles. 

And blew the cobwebs away....

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Early summer days

This photo sums up the last few weeks in our area. Unsettled weather, intense sunshine, pouring rain, amazing clouds and colours. I take this back route home from our village shop, and the farmer has just cut a path through the grass. I can hop over the fence into our back garden.

The first thing I see in the garden is our old plum tree, now dead, but covered in these white clematis flowers. This is one of the first things that I've done in the garden which has actually gone according to plan! It has taken about four years to scramble over the tree, covering it with foliage and flowers. 

In the veg garden we have lots of rhubarb at the moment. I've been stewing it with orange zest, brown sugar and a little water, and serving it with baked ricotta and honey, a recipe I found in my Riverford recipe book. I highly recommend this combination. Last week, I bought English strawberries on the market and added those to the rhubarb before poaching, the flavour was fabulous.

I am supposedly decluttering (again) and I have managed to move some of my stuff along. But I saw this chipped, crazed old blue and white bowl in Age Concern for £2 on Friday and could not resist it. Despite the high winds and rain, seasonal flowers are everywhere. It's always this time of year when a house in my parents' village puts out bunches of lupins for sale. I look forward to them, as they are such a burst of dramatic colour and shape. When mum rang me to say that she'd seen the lupins and bought  me a couple of bunches, I leapt in the car to go and collect them. Lupins don't last long, and they probably look best in the midst of a cottage garden, but I had a go at painting them to preserve the memory. I had a lovely couple of hours doing this.

Incredible shapes and colours.

Just love this time of year, when even some of the most neglected corners of my garden look almost pretty.

And you can pick a posy from the garden in a few minutes.