Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Seasonal Pleasures

One of my favourite cookery books is Seasonal Pleasures by Rosamond Richardson and I was flicking through it's pages today seeking inspiration for something to do with all our gooseberries. We have made a few jars of jam but we wanted to try something else this year.

I think of all the summer berries gooseberries are my favourite - in fact there is nothing like a good gooseberry crumble
served with either custard, greek youghurt or vanilla ice cream as a special pudding - so a few of those will be made and frozen and we have decided to try gooseberry chutney and gooseberry and elderflower preserve too.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

A walk before rain

It was 10a.m. as we pulled into the parking area near Wetton Mill and there was only one other car standing there. As we were pulling on coats and checking that car doors were locked a man approached us to ask if we were from the Hanley Walking Club. We said we weren't and he seemed disappointed. Apparently they were supposed to meet at 10a.m. for a walk - I do hope they all turned up eventually. We wandered along the trail from Wetton Mill towards Thor's Cave. The air was damp with just the occasional spot of rain and it was so peaceful that the quiet seemed almost touchable; just the occasional squawk of a crow or coo of a pigeon to break the intense silence. Two squirrels ran out of the undergrowth and along the path in front of us before they veered off to the other side, up the nearest tree and disappeared. A redstart flitted across a small field where two calves and their mother peered at us from the shelter of their disintegrating barn.

The last time we'd walked this route was in autumn when the trees and hedgerows were russet red to pale yellow in colour and the wild rose hips and sloes were lingering on the bushes along the pathway. Today the hedgerows were fresh and green and the predominant colour on the path sides was a silvery white interspersed occasionally with the pale bright blue of the meadow cranesbill which grows in profusion in this area. The white, of course, from the Cow Parsley or Keck as it is sometimes called. There was a huge expanse of it just near the pathway up to Thor's cave.

As we stood gazing up at the cave deciding that we couldn't make it up there today a voice said 'Does the bear still live in there?' We turned to see a man and his son who had been gazing at the information panel which had a picture of a bear in the mouth of the cave. He was smiling in fun but his son looked slightly worried. 'No', we said 'it's long gone' I think they were possibly Dutch or German but their spoken english was perfect. They set off to make their way up to the cave whilst we turned and made our way back to the mill arriving at the cafe just as the heavens opened. We sat with steaming hot mugs of coffee and pieces of homemade lemon cake, the tortoiseshell cat was in her usual place on one of the benches, used to all the fuss and attention she gets and taking it all in her stride, whilst outside the ducks gathered near the tables waiting for a crumb or two - unfortunately we were all inside with the cat.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Foxglove on Cannock Chase

We had a lovely walk on Cannock Chase this morning. It was warm and sunny after the last few rainy days so we tried to make the most of it as rain is expected again tomorrow. As soon as we got home I mowed the lawns, strimmed the edges and cleared the moss from under the garden seat whilst Paul made pizza for tea and enough bread to last us the rest of the week. All very ordinary stuff; I'm afraid I haven't many words at the moment - writer's block perhaps?

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Mock Orange

Last summer we forgot to prune back the Philadelphus or Mock Orange tree and this is the result. This variety is Philadelphus 'Virginal' and has lovely double bloomed flowers which have a sweet, gentle fragrance. Early this morning the boughs were drooping with the weight of both the flowers and the rain.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

A Tranquil Place

I thought this gateway was lovely; it drew me in I wanted to go through and seek out what was on the other side. The photo below shows what is beyond this gate - the tranquil, churchyard of St Katherine's church, Teversal, Nottinghamshire.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Actions Speak Louder than Words

There was a report tonight on the local evening news concerning the proposed closure of the main city post office which I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago. On Monday a group of about 100 pensioners, organised by North Staffs Grey Power, marched from the main post office into the Potteries Shopping Centre up the two flights of escalators to W.H.Smith and queued to buy books of second class stamps. They were making a point about the difficulties of gaining access to post offices services and also how difficult it would be for W H Smith staff to deal with the post office business as well as their own sales. There will be lots of business; I've queued in the main post office sometimes with 40+ other folks. The shopping centre manager escorted the protesters through the centre flanked by security guards and would only let a few people at a time into Smiths - as someone said in the newspaper afterwards - they wouldn't have done that if there had been a queue for a book signing at the store. The pensioners have the backing of Stoke Central MP Mark Fisher. It was great to see them all marching through the town just wish I'd known about it - I'd have gone and joined them; after all it's not just pensioners who need post office services is it?

Saturday, June 02, 2007

A Week of Sunshine and Showers

I think the photo below sums up how the week has been for us. As it has been half term we have had days out and about and the house and garden have been somewhat neglected. Having said that yesterday Paul trimmed the front hedge on both sides and tidied up the pond. Today I mowed the grass and did some weeding. On Thursday we met up with family at Teversal Manor it really is the most delightful place. When we visited last year the sun was shining; this time it was raining - we had a tasty lunch and a wander around the lovely gift shop and then a quick look at the church accompanied by sun, rain and rumbles of thunder in the distance. Unfortunately is was too wet to go into the garden but I know we will go back again before too long.

This morning we drove over to the Wolseley Centre Nature Reserve which belongs to the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust. The photo below is of one of the lakes on the complex which also has an interesting visitor centre as well as habitat trails, orchard, woodlands and sensory garden.

This is Chloe enjoying watching the frogs and newts in the pond. It's one of her favourite places. She always gets her tail wet through.