gulls following cultivator

Summer Alert!

The sun is shining, the thermometer is hovering in the high 20s and Met Office has declared a level three heatwave alert *. While MPs debate whether employers should be legally forced to provide air conditioning to combat high temperatures and commuters face delays as rail companies reduce train speeds for fear of hot rails buckling, we just get on with life.

In the fields …



cultivating with Discordon

The oilseed rape crop has been harvested and today the field has been cultivated, drawing in hundreds of gulls that follow the tractor and cultivator down the field. They swoop down behind the cultivator forming a long white row and then, when the tractor turns at the end of the field and comes back towards them, they lift into the air in a white mass and repeat the whole procedure.

eating …


We’re eating so many blackcurrants that our vitamin C levels must be at maximum. In an effort to prove to my sons that making meals is simple, I forced encouraged one of them to make ice cream. Not complicated egg custard ice cream, but the ‘whip up a pint of cream and add a tin of condensed milk’ variety. We swirled in a few tablespoons of blackcurrant compote and hey presto, Blackcurrant Ripple Ice Cream that has been very welcome this week.

baking …

Adelaide cakes

I baked Adelaide Cakes for a visiting Wheaton relative from Kangaroo Island, which seemed appropriate.  I also discovered that replacing the raspberries in this easy loaf cake with blackcurrants makes a deliciously sharp and fruit cake, which is perfect with a cup of tea.

Printing …

jelly printing on fabric

Ruth runs Print Club sessions in the Barley Barn and while others crank delicate drypoint prints through the press or make detailed screen prints, I ink up a slab of jelly and randomly throw bits of foliage on top. I enjoy the simplicity of this sort of printing and the way it reflects the seasons.

In early spring I print with primrose flowers and leaves in spring colours of pale yellow and zingy greens and later, the lacy umbrella shaped flowers and fern-like leaves of cow parsley make delicate prints alongside young dead nettle leaves. At this time of year,  I use leaves from the herb garden (marjoram is particularly good) and from the ash tree and hornbeam hedge for their different shapes.

After much experimentation, I’ve finally worked out a technique for jelly printing on fabric and now just need to find some sewing projects to use it all.

Playing …

jelly print repeat

I’ve been jelly printing onto fabric strips about 22 centimetres wide, which is fine for the children’s sunhats that I’ve been making, but not so good for larger projects. With the vague thought that I might want a long length of fairly uniform fabric, which will be a bit tricky with this slightly unpredictable printing method, I’ve been playing around with some digital manipulation.

I think this could become a little addictive.



*Please don’t mock if you come from a hot climate! It’s hot for us, even if our Australian visitor described our heat as like a warm spring day.

wish you were here

Postcards from this week …

above Amberley on South Downs Way


We caught an early train to London, wedged with our rucksacks in a moving mass of grey as commuters made their way to work and we sat smug in the knowledge that we were off to walk in the sunshine. Picking up the South Downs Way at Amberley, we headed up to the hills and away.


museum Singleton

By early afternoon we reached the Weald and Downland Open Air Museum where buildings have been rescued from decay and destruction by dismantling them and reconstructing them on this large site.


seeded leeks-

The museum wasn’t too busy and at times it felt as though we had stumbled upon an almost deserted village as we followed paths through gardens and in through the back doors of houses where fires smouldered in the hearth. It gave me more of a feeling of how people lived than I’ve ever experienced in a normal museum room set and I couldn’t help thinking that the introduction of glazed windows must have made an enormous difference to people.

South Downs Way Beauworth

Over the next two days, we saw villages and farms nestled into the valleys below us and crops at different stages of ripening formed a coloured patchwork that reached into the distance. We ate lunch in the shade of trees as we gazed up at the blue sky and finally walked into Winchester, at the end of the South Downs Way.

Slamseys raspberry gin

Home again, home again, jiggety jig. My favourite drink this summer is a  Raspberry Gn Slush.


What a day

Woken by husband in early hours with news of referendum shock. Discussed (briefly). Turned on radio and drifted in and out of sleep to sounds of political turmoil. Leapt out of bed at time check, ate breakfast and complained that the kitchen clock had stopped again. Checked another clock for correct time and realised I’d misheard the time check and got up an hour early.

Took Morris the Fox Terrier for a walk across the fields. Met a man with two dogs that snarled at us as they strained at their harnesses. Passed them without incident. In an act of bravado/stupidity, Morris slipped his collar and ran back to bark at them. Result: Two dogs pinning my dog to the ground by his neck; man lying on ground trying to prize jaws apart; much yelping (my dog); tearful pleading (him); swearing and hitting (me); determination to kill (his dogs). Finally, he managed to pull his dogs off. We parted on not altogether civil terms.

Bloody dog taken to vet who discovers six puncture wounds (one only a millimetre from his jugular vein), skin tears and bruising. Dog returned home with quantity of expensive medication and spends the day sitting very quietly.

Mop floor where washing machine leaks slightly and hang out sheets on the washing line to dry. Go out twice to pick them up as they’ve come unpegged. Ignore slightly dirty corner of one sheet.

Start sweeping and discover suspicious bare patch and ‘bits’ (again) in one corner of the sitting room carpet.  Google carpet moth. Confirm suspicion of carpet moth infestation. Move all furniture, roll up carpet and underlay and throw it out of front door.

Resume sweeping and find a penny. Remember old rhyme – find a penny, pick it up and all day long you’ll have good luck. Have tucked penny into pocket and await a turn in fortune.

If not, I shall resort to gin.