Monday, 27 June 2011

Love The Space You're In....X

 Don't ever be tempted to purchase a two-wheelie wheelbarrow, because they're less use to a serious gardener than a chocolate teapot.  And they don't remotely go round corners when you want them to.  Other than that, a wheelbarrow of any description can transport a tremendous amount of Goosegog branches from The Funny Farm Orchard to the safety of the conservatory in order to harvest in the comfort of your own kitchen, which is why I did it, because torrential rain was forecast, and therefore I could still make hay, even though the sun was refusing to shine.  The Gogs were teeny weeny, green and acidic, and absolutely so perfect for teaming with my ripe Strawbs to 'spin out' a low-pectin fruit for a jolly good jam set.

And only just yesterday, Trousers and I held 'A Very Village Tea Party', opening The Funny Farm Gardens to locals to raise money for the village hall/village show kind of thing - hence the existence of bunting, and I have to admit, I've not had that much fun, nor met as many hugely lovely and interesting peeps in a long, long time, so my thanks goes out to each and every one of you for bothering to turn up, and making our day so extremely special.X.

Incidentally, apologies going back to the really weeny gogs, and Trousers is dispairing of me flitting from one thing to another, but life's too short to waste time topping'n'tailing them, so I tend to cook them down and strain their pectin-richness for the future, freezing or bottling to preserve.

And having fallen for the charms of my man yet again, I pandered to his every wish of making fresh scones, ultimately for himself, but also for our lovely friends Pippy and Lyn, with homemade jam, fresh strawberries, and clotted cream.  But if you can't spoil the ones you love to be with, what indeedy is the point, eh?

 On a beautiful summer day in your own kitchen garden, there's nothing more mouthwatering than having a bit of a wander round with your gardening cat (she seems to be permanently super-glued to me these days....... which was nice.....), and deciding what mostly to harvest today
 I'll let you into a little secret now, because up until our Very Village Tea Party, I momentarily stopped harvesting produce so that my friend Gloria could have some photographic opportunities on the day, and so that visitors had some produce to look at.  And it goes against my very nature to not harvest stuff when it's ready..... so I'm pleased to say that normality rules now once again thankfully, and we're in certain danger of overdosing on  freshness in our kitchen, pantry and freezer for the rest of the summer ....!

 With our Village Produce Show taking place this coming Saturday, and certainly everything being at least 3 weeks early round here, I've harvested all of my Red and Whitecurrants, and the majority of the Blackcurrants, Chokerberries, and Worcesterberries prollly tomorrow if no showers. 
Having devised the Show Schedule, with classes such as 3 strings of Redcurrants/Blackcurrant etc.  it's going to be a lick your finger, stick it in the air, see which way the wind is blowing, and has a single solitary villager got any sodding fruit left to enter?!  I'm dead chilled about it myself because I made an executive decision not to enter the show this year, so that I'm beyond reproach, but whatever happens on the day will be a complete disaster, or a huge success for those that are hoping to beat their rivals once again... .  Either way, I am so beautifully looking forward to The Show that I've treated myself to getting my hair washed and blow-dried on the morning whilst Trousers is making sandwiches for The Judges' Lunches. 

I confess that I begged Trousers to take this photograph the other morning, because everything was just so gorgeous, and it's rare to capture a rapture such as this that you feel. And anyways, the cat was in one of her 'my mum is the coolest mum on the planet' moments.  And to be perfectly honest, when you've got bare feet on dewy-wet morning grass, the birds are singing, the sheep are bleeting, the cows are moo-ing, and everything is wonderful   (There's a Noddy joke that goes something similar, but you probably know it already?!) it would be a tragedy in my book not to be able to look back on that special moment during the depths of the winter when you feel that you want to.

Now then.....I'd be lying if I told you that I wasn't nervous about standing up there in front of everyone in the village hall this Saturday introducing the lovely Pat to open the show, and then announcing the winners for her to present them with their trophies, but ultimately, and hugely personally, I'm very proud of myself, not only for taking over her responsibilities, but introducing a new award to the show:...The Patricia Beattie Best In Show Shield, where she judges, in her opinion, the best, and most outstanding entry in the entire show.
A proper Village Show is a huge thing to cherish as far as I'm concerned, and thankfully, it is still very close to these people's hearts, as it is to my own.
And I hope that, at the end of the day, if any of them ever read this blog, that they will appreciate my sincerity.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Want Something Done? Ask A Busy Person My Friend......

Below, we have A Proper Blokie's Brekkie, because I'm trying, (very trying) to get Trousers to respond to my Wellie Tummy Tickle, which involves Trousers helping me in the garden on a monumental momentary basis in order to tidy the untidy corners for the Invited Guests Open Garden Day in two weeks' time.  And I hate to burst your bubble Babe, but honestly, there really aren't any 'other' House or Garden Fairies, I just do it myself??

I'm a huge believer in homegrown 'Mini Veg', because you can plant MUCH closer togevver, they mature quicker, and you get more crops per square metre over a shorter period of time than a sodding huge head of something. Besides, mini-veg costs a fortune in the shops:  Calabrese, Cabbage, Cauli - it works for most, and it's just perfect for the two of you if you're 'multi-vegging', even more perfect as a portion for one a la Cauli-Cheese, and completely 'blows my frock up' to show off at Dinner Party level, whether fresh, or out of season from your freezer.  With an army to feed, just let 'em grow until they're the size that you want.  Simples!

Now then Children......when I ask Trousers to take a photo for the blog, I'm thinking that he might give a thought to photo-graphic/genic composition, but clearly, we're not on similar planets.   I was thinking that my handful of slugs was going to be the main focus, and therefore a close-up of the hand, to answer a specific email query for a new blog reader this week.  Personally, I don't give a minkey what I look like in the mirror when tending my own private garden, as my neighbours will testify, when I'm on my lonesome, but if it were my own choice, to be photographed wearing a gorgeous Janet Reiger black bra (Christmas Present) with a completely incongruous white t-shirt, a handful of slugs on a blog read by millions around the world.....personally, I promise you, I would have put 'something else on'.
 Who's Queen?

So! What does one do of a Wet Weekend?  Well... one weeds like mad in The Funny Farm Kitchen Garden whilst it's dry, then one retires to one's kitchen to make many more Jams, Jellies and Marmalades, then labels them all, and hopes to make them a pleasure in someone else's kitchen, freeing up space in ones' own kitchen once again, to make more of the same as the fruit comes to fruition.
For those of you keen to know what's happening with my organising our local Village Produce Show for the first time this year, (after 20 years beautifully run by my predecessor),  I am learning that, unlike the wisdom of Forest Gump, sometimes life is NOT a box of chocolates.  It's way in excess of TWO boxes of chocolates, and definitely that gorgeous.... Having put my heart and soul into creating a totally new, innovative and creative Show Schedule for 2011, with the blessings of the very lovely Pat & Alan, the good people of the village are coming out to embrace me, and those that aren't, aren't, with knobs on.

Sunday, 5 June 2011


I've got a confession to make to you?  Last week I picked Elderflowers, and  irreverently chucked them into a purple recycling kerbside bag, and took them into The Funny Farm Kitchen, hugely proud of my harvest.  Not having previously warmed to the scent of the umbels, I had no proper respect for the beauty of my harvest.  So now, I stand before you, like one would in front of Simon Mayo of an evening on Radio Two, and beg forgiveness.
And I openly castigate myself on your behalf, in order that you also become aware that when you cut an elderflower umbel at its' base, you should cup it in your hand, and not let the delicate pollen spill out before you, and then tenderly lay it in the pot of boiled water in order to capture every bit of its' essence.
And one more thing,  because my lovely new friend Emma told me this week that, just like coffee, if you tip boiled water over, it scalds, and ruins the flavour?.  So, boys'n'girls, that's the lesson here today, because for every tip you pass on to someone else, they pass another lovely one onto you. 

With today's first Strawb harvest at 1lb. plus, enough to make the Strawb & Goosegog Jam from my friend Gloria's 'Fruits of the Earth' book (ISBN 978-1-906525-26-2), and have enough left over for a Trousers and Wellie Funny Five Minutes pudding with a goodly dollop of clotted cream, there's a tremendous bounty of to begin to look forward to in the months ahead..
Trousers has a keen eye for spotting a Mangetout that's ready to pick at a thousand paces, but with a beautiful stripey young courgette, and a few young and tender broadies to add to the pan for tonight's dinner, with some summer-sprouting broccoli, we're in for a very lush and fresh dinner this evening.

 I've finally managed to stop 'chasing my tail' watering stuff in pots, and actually get the majority of my homegrown tomato seedlings planted into the ground now. PHEW!!!!
 And where would I be without my adorable garden birds, eh?  You Tweeters'n'Twitterers have absolutely no idea how beautiful it is here, and to NOT be in touch with a mobile phone, an I-Wotsit or whatever you have glued to you right now.  Honestly, each to their own, but I love the calm and beauty that surrounds me far more than pressing keys or buttons in the beauty of this welsh border countryside.

I'm very sadly, the Mrs. Poppins that gives you my mobile number, and I cut you off when you've rung me by pressing the wrong frigging button?!
And just as sadly, I missed the birth of these two very late babies by absolute seconds yesterday afternoon.
Having alerted our favourite 'Sheep Whisperer' to the newness of The Twins, there wasn't an App in sight.  Just two blokes, two mugs of tea, a gardening cat, and what better than a lovely chat over the garden fence?
May I 'big up' our two new blog members here this Sunday evening, and just to say Thank You for joining us, and that for whatever reasons you've joined in the fun, I hope I'll continue to entertain you for as long as you wish to stay.X