inspired by …

black bryony berries S

… vivid colours in the hedgerows. The black bryony twists its way through the bare branches of hedges with its ropes of brilliant red berries glistening like jewels. Alas, the berries are poisonous and not to be picked for jams and jellies but they brighten up a walk on a grey overcast day.

Over the summer Ruth and I made S shapes around the farm from flowers, leaves, fruit, branches and stones that we laid out on paths or in the fields and called temporary land art. I’m not sure if anyone else noticed them, other than the dogs who cocked their legs over the large stones, but we had fun. Paired with ivy growing by the old unused gateway to the garden, the black bryony berries were ideal for a November S for Slamseys.

What’s inspired you this week?

getting ready

It seems that life in early November is devoted to “getting ready”.

knitting fingerless mittens


I quickly knitted a pair of fingerless mittens ready for Bonfire Night. Usually on 5th November, the fire is built, supper is waiting to be taken outside to the fire and then there’s a mad dash around the house to find hats and gloves that haven’t been used since the previous spring. I admit that I did have to search for a hat, but my mittens knitted with a ball of alpaca yarn were laid out ready and once outside in the cold were comfortingly warm.

Next to get ready was the Christmas cake using a combination of recipes from Mary Berry, Nigella Lawson and Delia Smith with various additions and omissions. The dried fruit is soaked in Slamseys Sloe Gin rather than the prescribed sherry, there are no glace cherries in this year’s cake because I’d run out and I used freshly candied orange and lemon peel instead of the normal tough bought peel. I’m not sure that the tin absolutely needs wrapping in newspaper or brown paper for baking, but somehow it’s a tradition I find hard to break.

november morning across fields
It’s been a mild autumn, with unseasonably warm weather some days, but with the first cold mornings comes the realisation that winter is not too far away. In late summer I started to make a tray bake that has evolved through autumn.

pear chocolate fudgy fingers


autumn fruit fudgy fingers

First it was made with blackberries, then blackberry and apple, then apple on its own and finally pears. Each fruit gets a slightly different flavouring that adds a little variety. When I make this in November, we eat one half and the other half is frozen ready to feed the workforce in the Christmas Tree Barn next month. Sadly this foresight is negated when I defrost it a couple of days later because the cake tin is empty.

For the last couple of weeks we’ve been setting up the Christmas shop set up in The Barley Barn. It seems far too early to be selling Christmas decorations but it seems that there is customer demand so as ever, we bow to their command. There has been much discussion about the best layout in the barn and on occasions I’ve come back from lunch to find someone has completely changed everything around. Yesterday we said, enough’s enough. No more changes. Everything stays where it is or we’ll never be ready. It’s a big day tomorrow as the Christmas Barn opens and there’s a chocolate truffle making workshop, but not in the same space, even though that might be interesting.
Next week we’ll be getting ready for selling Christmas Trees. Our corporate orders have been coming in for the last few weeks and the enquiries have started about domestic trees. We don’t open until the end of November but there’s lots to get ready before then. Heigh-ho! Off we go again.



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