Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Kitchen and Garden


It's almost the end of the school year and I am tired, but it's not my usual end of term fatigue. Usually, I'm physically exhausted, but I'll have an undercurrent of excitement as I think about everything that lies ahead over the six week break; the end of term staff night out, a holiday perhaps, catching up with friends and family, having people to stay, days out, ticking jobs of the to-do list. This year is different. I find myself both physically and mentally exhausted, unsure of what to do with the long break. Can we go and stay with friends and family? Can they stay with us? Is anything open? It's impossible to be spontaneous at the moment. I just hope that we have some good weather so we can at least go to the beach. Our planned holiday to France has been cancelled but I'm not despondent as we've just booked a last minute self catering break to Camber Sands in East Sussex with my parents and I'm looking forward to that very much.

Despite the uncertainty hanging over the whole summer, we have actually been doing some really nice things, just pottering around, enjoying our home and garden and local area. Now I'm working full time again, the garden only really gets my attention at the weekend, and then it's wonderful to spend a few hours out there and see what's going on.

My first ranunculus has flowered. So far it's the only one. If it's anything like the sweet peas then I'll just be happy with the one...


We have tomatoes. Multiple tomatoes on multiple plants! It don't think it will be a chutney situation but we may have enough for a salad.


I've been trying to perk up the front of our house lately, all on a budget. (My dreams of cedar cladding must remain that for now.) I bought a couple of huge pots and plants to sit on the balcony at the front, against the white upvc cladding. 


I treated myself to a David Austin climbing rose, New Dawn.


I've planted it at the back of this border where I hope it will grow up against the fence, filing the gap.


 These drumstick alliums have taken their sweet time flowering, but finally they are the most glorious deep purple.


I picked a few to bring indoors.


I haven't had much success with my blackcurrants this year (although I think the birds have had a lovely feast) but have picked 250 grams of redcurrants. I usually have enough to make one jar of redcurrant jelly which gets used throughout the winter with cold meats or stirred into gravy when we make a roast, and I always like the way a little bit of bottled summer comes into autumn and winter with us. But this year I fancy trying this recipe, redcurrant and red onion relish instead.


I've been really enjoying cooking over the last few weeks and have been trying lots of new recipes at the weekends. I think I might do a couple of my monthly cookery book posts over the summer, while there is time. Funny how I had all that free time in lockdown, but I didn't ever want to try any new recipes then. I wanted comfort food and familiar recipes, not to mention you could never be sure that you'd get exactly what you wanted in the supermarket. 

I recently tried these peppermint chocolate slices by Edd Kimber. They were really good, although rich. I quite like the look of his new cookery book One Tin Bakes. Honestly, any cookery book that says "one tin" or "tray bake" and I'm ready to buy it. 


You might remember that a couple of years ago John built us a lovely wooden peg rail shelf, which has always hung in the hall. I love it. It's both useful and beautiful and it's one of my favourite things in the house. Anyway, it was made from quite cheap wood and over time the left hand side of the shelf has bent and warped so much that you can't really put anything on it.  Plants would just slide right off. You can't really tell from this photo, but it was really annoying.


So John, with the last few days of his furloughed time at home, built a new one from ash. It's much sturdier and the wood is really gorgeous, it has such a beautiful grain. My Observer original books are currently residing up there, looking very pretty against the white wall.


The weather has been odd over the last few weeks. Windy, often overcast and humid, with the occasional shower that never really waters the garden as much as you hoped it would. There have been nicer days where we've seen blue sky, but it needs to be a few degrees warmer before I want to swim in the sea again.


It doesn't take many days of dry weather before the fields start to get that faded, slightly parched look. This always makes me feel like summer is half over already.


My sampler has been ironed and dropped off at the framers. I totally forgot to add the date to the bottom of the piece - I'll have to write it on the back of the frame.



My EPP patchwork quilt has been the most delightful evening project lately and I am absolutely loving every stitch. So far I have made and sewed together ten hexagon flower shapes. I find the easiest thing is to make a pile of the flowers, then moved them around, deciding where I want to put them, then I sew them to another flower. 


So far I am really happy with the random-ish arrangement of colours and patterns. 


I know it will be years before it's finished but it's such a soothing project. 

18 comments:

  1. Are you sewing your patchwork quilt together by hand? I've been thinking of trying this pattern. It is just so lovely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, with tiny whip stitches. It's perfect sewing to do on the sofa in front of the TV!

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  2. It all looks so lovely. Enjoy your break. The sunshine looks lovely. Cold and dreary here in our six week lockdown (again) in Melbourne Australia.

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  3. Mmmh, those peppermint slices look like my kind of rich, sweet treat!
    The Observer books look good on the new shelf, which is really lovely. What have you put in their old place now?
    I know exactly what you mean about this feeling of summer being half over already (at least). I felt the same these past few days when on my after-work walks I have been coming across more and more fields that are already harvested, or very close to harvest.
    Yes, everything is different this summer. Nice to know you have that break ahead to look forward to!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My little bookcase is looking a bit bare actually, I haven't quite decided yet what to put there. I could buy more books.....?

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  4. Lovely post as usual. I love those "this will take years" projects as there seems to be no time pressure on them so you really can enjoy the process. I have been working on a tapestry for 18 months, made up as I go along. I shall miss it if it ever gets finished! Happy end of term.😊

    ReplyDelete
  5. Dear Gillian
    Rose 'New Dawn' is a stunner - I have two in my garden, both flowering away happily with a very pale pink flower with a nice fragrance. I hope yours will do well.
    Best wishes
    Ellie

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wish I could send you a pic of my New Dawns. I do post my garden pics on Instagram if you want to take a look at that majestic rose growing abilities ;>p It is different is it, the evenings are becoming shorter and all is earlier. Your son and the dog <3 <3 <3 You did make me laugh about forgetting the date, shall we ever forget 2020? The year of when desaster struck on huge scale and the COVID virus? I wish you a lovely summer full of connecting with loved ones. But do take care, the virus is still there and chancing rapidly.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Beautiful garden, I love redcurrant and wish I could grow some. Wish you great summer.

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  8. your patchwork is lovely. I have new dawn, mine doesn't like its position and may have to move, once they take off though are fabulous.

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  9. A lovely post Gillian and I do love catching up with what you've been up to. Take care, stay safe & huggles from down under.

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  10. I so enjoyed this post. The new shelf is beautiful I love the grain of the wood and your books look great on it with all their colors. Your patchwork is really coming along and it is so cheerful I can see why it is such a joy to work on.

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  11. That quilt! Really amazing work. Also, I love your "Be Kind" sign. The world needs lots more kindness. thanks for a great post!

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  12. Great post. We too have lost our holiday to Switzerland and are wondering what the summer brings. I am exhausted from full time Primary School - being so flexible and cooperative has worn me out. Fingers crossed for more summer blooms in your garden. Jo xx

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