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Monday

Blue Sea

Luminous blue chicory growing wild at the side of the road in Hungary this summer.  Then at noon the flowers close up and hold their secret until dawn the next day.

Saturday

Last of the summer beans

I've done it again, missed out on a great swath of season.  The summer is always so action packed that I don't manage to keep up with my aims.  So please forgive my absence.  Now in late September we are savouring the last of things from the garden, Cos lettuces, Comice pears, and next up runner beans.  Cutting down the bean stalks always strikes me as a decisive moment in my year, never again in 2016 will I be hot in the sun and I must wait another 11 months to taste the perfect steamed bean,

Thursday

Happy 100th Birthday Moondog

26th May

A really fascinating musician, not to everybody's taste but I can't help hearing this without shivers tingling up my spine.  Individuals who don't fit a mould are to be celebrated when they can produce something really special.
Here is his short Theme please click on it and listen.
Also a biography from American Spectator by Aaron Goldstein  A Classicist  in a class of his own.t in a Class of His Own

A Classicist in a Class of His Own



Tuesday

Making glaze materials bone ash

Following Saturday's walk on Norbury Hill, and my sheep bone finds, they are now "fired" in my woodburner and here I am bashing them up (finally I put them in my Spong coffee grinder to make a good fine powder).


Friday

Kiln cooled

The bisque firing is now finished and the kiln cool enough to open, and despite packing it within an inch of its life, there were no breakages, just lots of new exciting shapes.

New project bubbling up!

Here is a corner of my workshop with all manner of shapes and sizes I've made on the wheel.  Trialling 4 new clays, plus using up a bit of porcelain.

A finely etched line


Monday

Essentials of Life...

Favourite designs begin with what we love to use. I made this for Andrew's birthday
 some years ago and we bring it out each afternoon for tea.



February 2016

Is this the winter we didn't have.  If you can count 4 days of cold as such.  I am the last to complain given my love of heat, but now the promise of spring is believable I can now relish some of the nice bits - gathering kindling for an evening nestling next to the woodstove, and rich and meltingly tender shin of beef casserole for supper mmmm.....
 

A quick peek

    This a link to an online version Here


Sunday

Colleybird and Hellebore

Blackbird or "colley"bird, our much loved garden bird, with its handsome plumage and bright yellow beak, calling its raucous winter alarm, here on my favourite square dish.  

Tuesday

Saturday

Unfeasibly bright orange berries with cerise seed cases.  Gladdens the heart on a dull November day.

A November find

Wood Blewits found on my early morning walk, Seen from above their russet caps do a very good imitation of a fallen oak or beech leaf, but their beautiful violet blue gills mark them out as very special.  Even their scent is intensely lavenderish.

Wednesday

last colour of 2015

Snatched from the teeth of the storm (Barney) I picked the last few flowers in my garden before they succumbed to the imminent frost. This is definitely the end of Autumn, so these colours I'll hold in my mind to keep me going for months to come.

Small packets of hope

A rare sunny moment in November is to be seized upon!  Today I  planted some more spring bulbs; tiny crocuses (not those big bruisers which seem to have flooded the market), fragrant narcissi, iris reticulata, and as a treat some Snake's head fritillaries. Some to line the path to the orchard and some for under the fruit trees to coincide  with fruit blossom (I hope).

I have a small worry that in doing so I have laid out some nourishing morsels for the hedgehog who regularly wanders that way.

Sunday

After days and days of dull foggy weather finding a solitary spindle tree full of bright orange seeds in their cerise cases encouraged me to sow a few.  It seems as though they are sticklers for the right conditions to break the dormancy, but it is worth a try.

Friday

plums and custard

click on image for a larger helping

Still days of Autumn

The season changes and the subtle light of autumn glows low on the horizon.
http://andrewbrickett.blogspot.co.uk/

October begins. Here is my walk one morning - as I go higher, so the mist lifts...


I play a mean game of table football...


Saturday

Finally decided to cut down my squash plants - a difficult decision when they are still gamely scrambling over the teepee I made for them.  But nights are cold now and very soon they will turn into poor bedraggled things, so better enjoy their beauty in a photo now.

Tuesday

More from the village Garden show

Here's how 5 tomatoes can set your pulse racing....   Cut throat competition in the Tomato category.  What a joy to see a person lavishing affection and pride on their little darlings as they present their garden produce to the world, rather like the Debutante's Coming Out Ball for the very well heeled.  Onions are even polished with a little talcum powder to bring out their silken sheen.


Fame fortune and winning at Lydbury North Garden and Produce Show

The joys of small village life.  Last weekend was the local Garden Show, eagerly awaited by many of residents of our small rural community, it is a major event in the local diary and I was mightily pleased to have got First prize for my vase of home grown annuals.  Here they are afterwards having endured a cycle ride home in my bike basket.

Friday

The scouting gene

Something happens at this time of year when even with dubious English temperatures the urge to cook on fires outside is irresistible.  This year it has been in many forms, not just your classic barby.  Today I fancied hot smoking some trout fillets for supper.  I had the fish, I had the newly cut plum branches, so it was the work of an instant.
The fire was not too hot, so on went the plum wood to create the smoke, then the trout, then the lid and in 8 mins it was ready, lightly cooked with a delicate smokiness.

 Along with this an intense dill and horseradish creme fraiche, rosemary and chilli roasted potties and a bowl of salad from the garden.

  

Monday

Preprandial delights

The joy of early summer harvests.  The first broad beans - sweet and tender and totally different from any bought ones (they need to be picked just before eating), pop them out of their pods at the table and nibble along with home made bread sticks whilst sipping a cool sauvignon blanc...

Friday

St Patrick's Cabbage

Tellima grandiflora, this one had me going, even Fitter and Fitter only had a squiffy little line drawing, but the joy of trawling the internet finally found me the answer - although I confess I have not the slightest about what St. Patrick had to do with it.  I first saw it growing in a hedgerow a couple of years ago and next year when it grows again I won't be left wondering what is this odd plant. click on the image for a bit more detail.

Tuesday

Early morning walk... blackcap announcing he has arrived in UK

video

This is a magnificent beast, self sown verbascum.  It currently measures over a meter in diameter.  Soon it will produce a lofty flower spike with yellow buds, then the verbascum moths will arrive (as sure as eggs is eggs) and shred it to a sorry thing.

garden catwalk

What the well dressed water butt is wearing this season. Sashaying in with this fetching little number, equally good for daywear or cocktail hour.  Much as I like the practicality of a water butt next to my greenhouse having sun warmed rainwater at the ready for my thirsty seedlings, its old faded plastic was ugly, so I made it a "dress" out of old roof battens.

Wednesday

Poplar plantation

This has got to be one of my favourite spring sights, the first leaves bursting out from poplars grown in strict rows.  The ones on the right turning a gorgeous gold green, the ones on the left still to catch up.

Monday

First to be out in the garden

It marks a special day in spring when I can plant out the first fragile plants.
Safely under cover they look so strong and healthy, but put out in the ground where they have to fend for themselves against any passing pest is a worrying moment!  If they survive this then the promise of delicious tender sugar snap peas beats anything you can buy in a shop. These are called Delikett - I don't think they are available anymore so I save the seed year after year.

Thursday

Tomorrow's breakfast cooling in the larder

I don't always manage it but home made hot cross buns are definitely worth the effort.  Made on the Thursday to eat Good Friday morning, lightly toasted with butter.

Tuesday

Tardy spring but still some treats

By the end of March I'm just about desperate for spring to get a hold.  Each year brings its own surprises, 2013 was thick snow on 27th, last year was warm early.  This year it's stormy cold winds have the upper hand.  But I have been keeping a beady eye on my favourite patch of wild garlic growing on the far side of our village brook.  Yesterday, clad in my wonderful new Dunlop wellingtons crossed the stream to gather some.  After steaming it and cooling it for mere moments I made a Korean dressing of soy sauce, toasted sesame seeds and oil and serves it with some home made tofu - my new skill!  The wild garlic was sweet, crunchy and tender but packed with a punch.

Monday

Beautiful and functional, the perfect combination.
www.cranecookware.co.uk





First crop of the year

Purple sprouting, I love it for the name alone - abbreviating it to just its adjective.  But mostly because these tough, winter resilient plants manage to produce the tenderest, sweetest spring shoots which need steaming for a mere nano second or two.  

Wednesday

Progress report

The surprises one is dealt in life sometimes come thick and fast.  A couple of years ago I would never have imagined my working life would have reached these exciting markets.  As one window closes, another unexpectedly opens.  Sadly our manufacturer in Stoke is no longer making our English Creamware.  We still have some items for sale, but they are now in short supply.  They are listed on the right of this page.
Our next designs are now selling well in South Korea and in the future we aim to have these designs available in the UK too.

Saturday

Armed to the teeth

Armed with my new garden implement a -  wrotter - dutch for "weedy outy" thing, or in Old Frisian "tough worker", no dandelion is safe in my garden.

Sunday

Too much of a good thing??

Winter snowdrops, am I weird for not liking carpets of them?  I like the few in a group growing beside the village brook just as they come out of bud.

Monday

Return of "Frankie"

Many thanks to our neighbours for crucial info on how to make one's weathervane accurate.  Now our sky running hare is absolutely on the button with the wind direction.  Admittedly he is now bolted together with lumps of lead weight to his head - hence him being re-christened after Mary Shelley's gothic character.

Sunday

how to distract myself from January

Dream of summer and sow some sweet pea seeds.  Snow still lying here, but I am planning ahead. Made newspaper tubes for long pea roots this morning and sowed seeds collected in autumn 2013, here they are on my kitchen window.  Then went out to try lunch at Powis Arms, and PINK BEEF!  Wonderful, why can't all pubs keep their beef rare, who wants to eat boot leather?

Wednesday

14 jan 15

Not even "Fuji Blue", but as it was this morning on my Oakley Mynd walk.  A thin layer of snow defining the fine mesh of branches on an ancient ash tree.  Stunning blue sky, violet shadows in the snow and a brightness we only get here in winter.

The start of a new photography project

This is for some of our new designs launched in South Korea.  Its funny how  nervy I get given that this is my idea of work heaven, but before I begin I feel schizophrenic, then suddenly it all gels and concentration sets in to the exclusion of all else.  This is maybe more of a challenge in that I only really like natural light for my photography and we are fast approaching the shortest day with light levels at their lowest.  Still the request comes from Seoul and I am eager to make it all stunning.

Sunday

The interloper

Actually there were 2 of them that wandered into my garden this morning, vying for the most sumptuous plumage.  Not exactly subtle or camouflaged, these were beautiful plump sleek birds purple and coppery gold.  Here is one as he reached up to drink from my bird bath.
There is really nothing good to be said about having a cold.  Feeling rather sorry for myself with sore throat and fever, so I'm a bit off my feed - which is never good.  2 weeks left to the shortest day then the wait through the dark months.  Should I be spending winters in the Antipodes?

Sunday morning, view takes your breath away.  After days of fog Sunday dawned clear and we went up the Mynd to absorb the view.

Thursday

As if we ever wait that long















Our very nice new neighbours have been extremely generous with their apple harvest, knowing I am a total fruit bat.  There has been a wonderful mix of russets and James Grieves, and an unknown one which has stored very well, little but a good sweet acid balance.  And the bashed ones I used to make a very nice spiced chutney.
Here is the recipe
3kg sweet dessert apples, peeled and cored
6 tiny onions peeled and chopped
9 or 10 cloves garlic smashed and chopped roughly
400 ml malt vinegar
500g granulated sugar (could be a little less)
2 good tsp chilli flakes
1 x tbs black pepper corns
Seeds from 8 cardamon pods
2 x tsp salt
1 x big tsp mustard seed


3 x good tbs semi dried coriander seeds
Boil up, then simmer till thick and unctuous (1 and a half hours ish). Bottle into hot jars and seal.

KEEP 3 MONTHS BEFORE EATING

Wednesday

More like this please...

Not the French Riviera but South Shropshire on 5 November - not bad, but still dreaming of cycling through pine woods in Les Landes next summer.
Still I can thoroughly recommend eschewing the GMT nonsense, who want to have afternoon tea in the dark? be like us, stick to BST at least a few more weeks yet.

Saturday

Food for the soul

Ribeye steak from British White cattle (old variety  - white as you'd expect, with black noses and ears known for their excellent eating).  This one from a Mr Plunkett (I kid you not).  Wood burner stoked in readiness for searing, griddle heating, Tenterden Chapel Down pinot noir airing, rocket leaf salad prepped, potato rosti ready to toast off.  And Autumn Bliss raspberries from the garden.  Can't wait...