Last week …

unravelling woollen sweater


A couple of years ago, I knitted two sweaters using the Warriston pattern by Kate Davies but because I ran short of wool  they both ended up with sleeves too short. I hate three quarter length sleeves (almost as much as I detest clothes without pockets) so I’m unravelling the sweaters and rewinding the wool so that I can knit one good sweater with proper sleeves.

Have you read how you should soak and then dry your yarn before rewinding it to get rid of the bouncy kinks? Heed that advice. I tried knitting kinky wool and it looked awful. Which meant yet more unravelling.

hand written recipe book


Mum gave me her mother’s recipe books and I’ve been trying to follow some of the recipes. Or aides-memoires as I prefer to call them as many of them are just a list of ingredients with scant instructions.

Some of the recipes are cut from the newspaper with the news on the reverse “a great force of heavy RAF bombers crossed the East Coast early last night heading for the continent” and “Blackout (London) 10.26 – 5.45”. From scribbled notes, I know that Gran “planted bulbs in bowls on 10th October 1938″ and that “rubbing paraffin wax on the heels of your stockings makes them last longer”.

Yesterday I followed a recipe for Adelaide cakes. Tell me, do you know how Adelaide cakes should look? There was no mention of tin size or shape. Fairy cake or muffin sized? Round? Oblong?


My brain

The Seville oranges are in the shops so, as usual I set about making enough marmalade to last us for the year. The kitchen filled with a glorious smell as I juiced and chopped, stirred and boiled. Then, as I ladled the marmalade into the jars, I noticed pips floating around and realised that I’d tipped the juice into the pan without straining out the pips. Doh!

The marmalade tastes fine but every spoonful has to be inspected for pesky pips and believe me, Seville oranges have loads of pips.

crab apples in frost

on the farm in January

frosted rosehips

At last we’ve had a spell of cold weather. We’ve haven’t had any snow here, but a couple of hard frosts have made everywhere look pretty first thing in the morning.

newly planted hedge Barn Field

With the ground frozen, Bill and Jack have spent the first two hours of the day hand planting new hedges, before the ground warms up and turns to a muddy slush. Here, a mixed hedge of hawthorn, dog rose, blackthorn, maple, hazel and dogwood tops an earth bund that forms a barrier between the yard and the road. Guards on the young plants not only protect them from rabbits and deer but also from a farmer with a strimmer or knapsack sprayer.

pruning raspberries

In the fruit field, the raspberries are pruned; a back-breaking job on any day but even worse when it’s cold and knees get wet and dirty from kneeling in mud. Luckily, not my job any more.

apples under the trees

I’ve been picking up Bramley apples since they fell to the ground in the autumn. In a normal year, they would have rotted by now but it’s been so mild that until this week they’ve been okay to cook with. I suspect this cold spell will finish them off but at least I have enough inside to make one last apple crumble.

At last we seem to have shaken off the dull, grey days and the days are getting longer. Hurrah.


taking stock


knitting socks

On the farm, there has been much sawing up of trees that have died or of branches that have blown down in the recent winds while in the Barley Barn, Ruth and I have packed up the remaining Christmas decorations, stored away the display units and swept the floor of (most of) the glitter as we return the barn to its normal state. We’ve discussed how the season went, what our themes will be for Christmas 2016 and in a few days we’re off to our first trade show of the year to find our stock for next Christmas.

While we were doing a physical stock take in the Barley Barn, I was reminded of Jane’s stock taking exercise at The Shady Baker. The New Year seems as good a time as any to take stock, so here’s mine …

Eating: Christmas leftovers. The most successful was probably replacing the raspberries in my Raspberry Cake with cranberry sauce.

Resolving: to take a photograph every day. My only New Year’s Resolution.

Abandoning: New Year’s Resolutions. Life’s too short to spend the day looking for a photo opportunity.

Playing: board games. Trying new games, delving to the back of the cupboard to find the ones we rarely play and discarding the ones that nobody ever wants to play or that cause too many tantrums.

Drinking: our way (slowly) through the drinks cupboard, in similar vein to the board games cupboard. Why do we have such a collection of weird liqueurs?

Thinking: maybe we have too many cupboards.

Making: socks with leftover sock yarn. No two socks will be the same, which will cut down time wasted trying to match pairs.

Enjoying: closing the shutters, lighting the log fire and settling in for the evening.

Wishing: it was possible to visit my sister and her family in Australia more often.

Reading: Thin Air by Ann Cleeves

Cursing: the fox that ransacked the duck run, killing five ducks but taking none. Sadly, Rosa was one of the dead though her partner Sir Francis Drake escaped to the pond with six others.

Deciding: which seeds to sow in the vegetable garden.

Considering: our next long distance walk. Possibly the Devon coast to coast Two Moors Way

Hoping: for snow. Just for a day or two.

Disliking: these grey gloomy days

Buying: oranges direct from the grower in Spain. A box full of juicy goodness

Trying: lino printing.

Looking forward to: 2016


How about you?