Friday, 26 October 2012

Nature's Bounty

    R. Great Ouse
    Yesterday we went for a walk along the river bank which lies just behind our house.  It was a pretty dismal grey day but we wanted to see how the river looked after all the recent rain, so clad in stout wellies and barbours we set off.   The water was rather dark and muddy looking but it wasn't enough to deter one or two fisherman.  Even in the damp mist nature didn't disappoint, the autumn colours were just beginning to show and the haw berries looked fantastic with droplets of rain hanging from the branches.

     I have loved foraging since I was a small child being taken on blackberry picking expeditions in rural Sussex and since those far ago beginnings I have learnt the delights of making Sloe Gin, Rose Hip Syrup, Elderflower Champagne and a myriad of other cordials and condiments.  Today David had to fashion a walking stick from the hedgerow in order to reach the crab apples we had come in search of, but we managed to pick about 10 pound of gorgeous golden fruit.  Once home, after a welcome, warming cuppa (and a choccy biscuit) we washed and cooked our precious haul.

      10lb spiced crab apples

      After leaving to drip through a jelly bag over night, today we made loads of jars of delicious Spiced Crab Apple Jelly.

      Thursday, 27 September 2012

      Golden Age of Steam

      Arriving at Wansford Station

      Last week we ticked another item off our list of "Things We Want To Do".  Some are quite big things but most are not, just things we want to see or experience but take a little organising.  So a wonderful day was spent being pulled through the Nene Valley by a majestic steam locomotive.

      Hooking up our engine

      The sound of the whistle and great billowing clouds of steam hissing high into the air was pure magic.  We were both transported back to our childhood when these same trains were still in service and were an every day form of transport

      And we are off

      These monsters were being given the once over in readiness for an upcoming gala.

       .  Looking through the window and admiring the river as it meandered through acre upon acre of farmland and unspoilt countryside it felt like the clock had been turned back fifty or sixty years.  Pure nostalgia - just fantastic.

      Wednesday, 15 August 2012

      A Fishy Story

      Despite the forecast of imminent bad weather Heather was determined she wasn't going to miss competing in The Dale Rogers Fishing Cup.  We arrived at the river bank and she left to pick out her peg number.  Within minutes the thunder started to rumble and the lightening flashed and then it rained, not your ordinary shower by a long way, no this was more like a monsoon.  However by the time they were due to start fishing it turned out to be a dry evening.  Three hours later the whistle blew and the marshals did the rounds for the weigh in.

      The final catch

      Our girl was a little apprehensive because she thought her catch may have been a bit less than the previous event and it could be a close thing.  We all stood round and held our breath  while the results were announced in reverse order - and finally Heather was proclaimed winner of the Cup with a total catch of 3lb 12oz - what a girl !!!!!!!!  Another fantastic result - You are a STAR !!!!!

      Presentation by The Club President
      Meanwhile her biggest fan was in the audience and applauded loudly and enthusiastically as the Cup was presented and official photographs were taken.  H's baby cousin then asked politely if she could please have her photo taken with "the man" (Club President) and he kindly offered, however she then went very shy and coy and decided it would be safer to settle for a handshake with Daddy instead.

      Congratulations Daddy

      Thursday, 9 August 2012

      Fruits Of My Labours

      In Spring all our fruit trees were covered in blossom, apples, pears, plums, peaches and gages and we were eagerly anticipating a bumper crop. The fruit formed and then for some reason it all fell off, it wasn't the "June Drop" it was just a total avalanche.  So now we are left with one  lovely pear, about a dozen plums,  half a dozen Cox's, Bramley's and Gages, what a joke but it's hard to be amused. My peaches are grown against a south facing wall and those that were left grew huge but when they were picked many were rotten on the back (the wall side),  probably due to all the rain.  On the bright side there were plentiful redcurrants and enough gooseberries to make some chutney and at the moment the raspberries are beginning to ripen up.  I am left wondering if other parts of the country have suffered as I have or perhaps it was just this area or even just my garden, hopefully time will tell.
      This peach is Avalon Pride and does not succumb to peach leaf curl, the fruit is sweet and full of juice.

      I love to just stand and look at red currants, they are perfectly round and look like clusters of shining rubies.

      On a happier note the grape vines have really benefitted from all the rain, so now we just need some sunshine to ripen them and then we just need to stop the birds from getting there first.  Perhaps I won't start designing wine bottle labels just yet.

      Sunday, 5 August 2012

      Grandad Hat

      Posted by Erin - Age 3 3/4

      My Grandad always wears a hat and I think it's fantastic, so much so that since I was very tiny I have always called him 'Grandad Hat'.  Tonight he gave me my very own hat to wear which is just like his and I think I look really cool.

      Tonight we went out to see my cousin Heather take part in a fishing competition and Grandad and I splashed in all the puddles on the way there.  We had loads of fun.


      Monday, 30 July 2012

      Memorial Cup

      When my brother-in-law died my husband and his younger brother decided to sponsor a competition at our local fishing club in his name.  John had supported the club all his life and loved nothing more than to encourage young people to take up the sport and so The John Minney Memorial Cup was launched for the youth members.  Our 13 year old grand-daughter has been a keen fisherman for many years and has won cups and wonderful prizes of rods, reels and other fishing equipment but this was her first entry for the Memorial Cup, previous years dates have always coincided with Guide Camp.  On Sunday Heather was the only girl entrant and the last to draw for a peg.  She settled to the task in hand and soon started landing, roach, perch, bleak, dace and minnows.  The final whistle sounded and at the weigh in she  was delighted to find she had landed 4lb 1oz.  - a personal record catch.  Many of the boys are quite experienced fisherman and had rather red faces when Heather was announced the winner and presented with the cup, to keep for a year (this will have her name engraved on it) and £25.  We are so proud of her and thrilled that she shares our love of nature and the countryside.  Great Uncle John would be pretty thrilled too!
      Planning her strategy