Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Shades of Purple


Last weekend, my mum suggested a visit to Lordington Lavender, a nearby lavender farm which opens its fields to the public for one week a year. I'd never heard of it but I think everyone else in Sussex and Hampshire had, judging by the crowds. It was still lovely though and, despite the number of visitors and the fact that they'd sold out of ice cream, managed to retain a charming English village fete feel, with tractor rides, hay bales, and stalls selling teas and lavender cake, as well as their own lavender products. The colour and scent of the flowers is as strong as you'd imagine, but the thing that struck me the most was the hum of the bees. You almost don't notice it at first, but once you do, it's captivating. So many beautiful bees, just doing their thing. That hour was just the pause I needed at a very busy time of year. 


As you would expect for somewhere so photogenic, it's very popular with photographers and I think there were lots of people there who'd gone wearing nice clothes and with good cameras purely to take some pretty family photos. I hadn't really given the whole trip much thought and, while I had remembered my camera, I forgot the memory card, and I hadn't given a moment's thought to what myself or the kids were wearing (with Angus in that awful Minecraft t-shirt that he loves and I loathe). 


But still, a delightful way to spend a warm Saturday afternoon in July, and I got some gorgeous body lotion too.


With my head full of those rows of purple flowers, I went straight to my sister's to beg an armful of the stuff from the huge plant in her front garden.


I had thought about drying some but it's currently sitting in an earthenware pot on the kitchen table. I love it. I can pretend I live in a Provencal farmhouse.


I also became obsessed with making lavender shortbread, and baked a batch on Sunday afternoon. I was worried that the flavour might be too strong - I love floral flavours like lavender and rose but know that not everyone does - so took them into work on Monday for honest criticism. The response was more lavender, not less, which was relief. I didn't want anyone to think they were eating soap.


I just made another two batches tonight as we're having a tea party after work tomorrow for a much loved colleague who it retiring, and we're all bringing something along. Don't worry, I've kept some shortbread back for us to eat.


Lavender aside, I finally managed to produce a few sweet peas, not my usual amount but enough to put in a little vase on my bedside table.


We also spent a little time picking all the redcurrants and blackcurrants at the bushes from the bottom of the garden. I say we - I bribed the kids and made them do it, as I was distracted by lavender shortbread. Ziggy, as ever, had to be in on the action.


 For now, all the berries have been washed, weighed and frozen, ready for a day when I am not rushed and actually have time to deal with them. I'm thinking redcurrant jelly, possibly to be turned into a sweet chilli dipping sauce, as I did last year, and maybe a summer pudding. For the blackcurrants, I have enough for one batch of Nigella's blackcurrant and liquorice ice cream and possibly a jar of jam.

Thank you for your kind comments on Bella's room. Yes she is a lucky girl, but I know that she appreciates the space she has and in no way takes it for granted. I came home from work on Monday to find that she'd stripped the bed and put fresh sheets on, dusted, watered the plants and was in the process of vacuuming! That instantly put me in a good mood, let me tell you. However, the rest of the house is a complete pigsty at the moment because we're all just concentrating on getting to the end of term and letting out a huge exhale in relief. Two more days. 

*

Lavender shortbread

125 g soft butter
55 g caster sugar
180 g plain flour
1 level tsp chopped lavender flowers

  • pre-heat the oven to 180°C
  • mix butter, sugar and lavender together
  • add the flour until you have a dough
  • tip out onto a floured work surface, pat into a smooth ball and roll until 1 cm thick
  • cut into circles
  • bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly browned
This amount of dough gives me anywhere between 12 and 15 biscuits depending on how thickly I roll it out. You can keep going until every last bit of dough is used, but I find the last few scraps become crumbly from the extra flour you're working into it and hard to roll out. 

14 comments:

  1. I too work in a school and I fully understand the 'just getting to the end of term' feeling, and my front room is a tip! But my brand new kitchen is super and I can fully understand Bella's pride in her new bed room that she wants to keep it nice.
    Love the photos of the lavender fields.

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  2. What an amazing place, I can't imagine what the scent must be like. Well done Bella, this is impressive stuff indeed. Dusting is done under great protest around here. Those with large bedrooms are threatened with being swapped to the small bedroom if they fail to look after/appreciate their space. I have also been bribing them to pick fruit. Again, done under protest. Sigh. One day someone will do something willing and without being asked. They will, won't they? Beautiful lavender photo of you all, Minecraft t-shirt notwithstanding. CJ xx

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  3. Those photos are amazing. The purple is just gorgeous. My grandmother used to keep dried lavender in little covered pots and would just take the top off and stir it around a bit to produce the most wonderful smell. Fond memories. What a nice photo of you and your children!

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  4. When my husband and I used to holiday in Scarborough, every year I was determined that this year we'd make it to the lavender farm that had brochures and posters all over the place, but we never did - we didn't have a car, and somehow we never managed to find a bus ride there that would suit us.
    I love lavender, the sight and scent of it, and I am sure I'd love the cookies/shortbread too.

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  5. It looks absolutley stunning, Gillian. I keep saying how much I would love to visit a lavender farm but Lily is terrified of bees! Maybe one day. X

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  6. Gosh, what a star Bella! Love the thought of family's putting on their best ready for photos in the lavender - and you not! A lovely photo... Remunds me of the Christmas tree photo with families all wrapped up beautifully- and us, trying to find the one eyed, limp farmer in a field of mud. He's usually in the barn preparing the turkeys. Not an Instagram worthy moment. Happy very nearly end of term!

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  7. What a superstar Bella is! (Did Angus take any notice?!?)

    Sounds like a lovely day, and really it is all about enjoying the moment not the super styled photos afterwards. I was thinking about this on holiday when I ended up with a full memory stick on my camera and had to delete photos to have space for the last day and a bit. Back in the day we only had 24 or 36 snaps per film and we were so careful as it costs so much to get them processed.* There is a time for posing and a time for just getting on with having fun!

    *I sound about 80 here but I'm only talking about the 90s when I was in my teens and 'carefully' using the camera film on school trips! x

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  8. Those fields look absolutely beautiful, Gillian. There is such a depth of colour in the purple. I have loads of lavender in my front and back gardens and the buzzing just hits you , especially in the front where the garden is smaller but more lavender.
    End of term almost there, enjoy the last few days of mayhem! (Just remembering my time in Reception classes!)

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  9. Beautiful pictures Gillian. I love lavender.And I love your blog posts. They are always so calming & comforting. And thanks for the recipe!

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  10. These are stunning photos - could you interest a magazine in your photos in a professional capacity? Or sell to photo library sites? I am using some of these for my business and your photos are honestly the equal at least of anything I see there. Places like Canva and Alamy.
    You have brown feet. That is such a non-Scottish thing.
    My goodness you must be exhausted with school not yet out. Our schools finished on 28 June. But they do go back on 19 August, so I guess it evens out.

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  11. Lavender purple is just the best purple ever! I visited lavender fields in France many years ago but the memory of the buzz of the bees remains with me. We have a lavender "hedge" surrounding our wildflower front garden and I shall pick some flowers to make short bread. The scent of lavender reminds me so much of my dad. When he was very ill in hospital, the nursing staff used lavender scented water to freshen him up because this is what he loved. Bella is one fabulous young lady! Glad she loves and appreciates her new room(s) and takes care to keep it neat and tidy. Last day of term for you I think! Hope it all goes well x

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  12. شركة تنظيف منازل بالجبيل افضل شركة خدمات منزلية بالجبيل نظافة شاملة مع التعقيم والتلميع وابادة الحشرات شركة تنظيف بالجبيل شركة المثالية هي افضل شركة نظافة بالجبيل والمنطقة الشرقية تقدم لعملائها افضل جودة وارخص الاسعار بالاضافة الي تقديم الخدمات من خلال عمالة مدربة وذات خبرة كبيرة بمجالات التنظيف ومكافحة الحشرات , فلا تتردد في الاتصال بشركة تنظيف بالجبيل للحصول علي كل ما هو مميز ولضمان الحصول علي منزل امن نظيف راقي خالي من المواد الضارة والميكروبات

    شركة تنظيف منازل بالجبيل
    شركة تنظيف بالجبيل

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  13. Thanks for visiting my blog - you are kind adding so many comments. I remember the end of term feeling too. I am returning to the classroom in September and know I will experience it all over again. Well done on the fruit, a good harvest. Jo xx

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