Sunday, 4 December 2022

Common walk

While staying with the friends in Wimbledon, we went on a walk on the common.   I hadn't been aware of the semi-natural state of this carefully tended common land.   Joint walks in the past tended to be over the grassy area around Rushmere pond at the South-Eastern corner of the common, but this time we drove to The Windmill, a museum at the centre.  From there, a walk to Queensmere Pond, and on to the edge of Putney Cemetery and back via Jerry's Hill.  Here's some pics.

Wednesday, 30 November 2022

England trip

 We're just back from a trip to England, visiting friends and family.   Here's a few observations:

Energy.  The houses we visited were cooler than we are used to.   Not cold, but cooler than we remember.  And other energy usage is being sharply curtailed; more attention is being paid to turning off lights in unused rooms, and so on.

Shopping.   A couple of things; we went into the shopping centre in Fareham, and it was definitely less populous than we remember.  There were more boarded-up shops too.  With people seriously concerned about their upcoming energy bills, non-necessities are being cut hard back.   This coming recession will be a doozy.  And price differentials between France and the UK.   An impact wrtench via Amazon was about £23 from and for delivery to the UK, and around €47 for delivery to France from .fr  And the vitamine D pills that we pay nearly €10 for in France, were under £2 from a standard pharmacy in England.   And four quid for a plastic seed tray in a garden centre?  You're taking the Mick - you can get metal oven trays in Asda of about the same size for half the price.

We discovered a new garden - West Dean.  The village is pretty, with a clear stream running between the grass banks, and the garden, a shortway along the main road, is spectacular.  Their walled vegetable garden makes me envious.   We will aim to visit it again in Summer.

I had never seen espaliered fruit trees on a 3-D frame before.  It's something I might try.

And a walk on Wimbledon common - later for pics.

Wednesday, 16 November 2022

Survival wood chips

I have been impressed recently by the mutual self-help network that has arisen spontaneously in our little village.   It has matured to the extent that there is now a Whatsapp group devoted to local goods or services wanted or offered.   A bride forgets her wedding shoes and needs something finer to replace her trainers?  No problem.   Surplus squash for eating?  Put them on the wall in front of the bar, alert the group and they'll be gone in an hour.  A ride into town?  When can I pick you up?

I have benefitted from an example of this recently.  A pile of wood chips has been created, and offered around.   After a few days when everyone has had what they need, there's still a big heap left.  I'm collecting them to spread on the garden to keep the weeds down.   There's about three trailer loads - plenty.

I got a load yesterday and spread it on the flower bed.  Another that I got today is still in the trailer, and the last load remains as a heap, waiting to be collected later in the week.

It's a trivial example, perhaps, but it could well be that we are in for darker times, thanks to our wise politicians.   This sort of thing might be key to survival.

Friday, 28 October 2022


It's become our tradition that when one of our pet cats dies, we bury him and plant a shrub or tree as a grave marker.   Our cat Minuit died at the end of long hot dry summer, so the options on offer at the local garden centre were limited.  I settled for a hardy Fucshia, the best of a tatty-looking bunch, but still alive at least.

The grave lies in a shaded corner of the garden near the grange, not ideal for Fuschias, but sheltered from wind and protectd by the thermal inertia of the building.  I have been keeping an eye on the plant for the last few years, making sure that it's thriving.   This year it has rewarded us with a big diplay of flowers.

Tuesday, 25 October 2022

Preserving food

I had a basket of unshelled walnuts left over from last year, and this year's crop was plentiful too.   So I set out to shell the lot and get them ready for use, preserved in vacuum packing plastic bags.   It took about half an hour per bag, and I have a lot of bags.

There's a good crop of beans too, so those are being treated the same way.   Cassoulet (and baked beans) on the horizon!

Friday, 21 October 2022


It's a voyage of discovery to visit the veg patch.   This morning I found a hitherto unnoticed, perfectly ripe butternut squash in amongst the leaves.   And a dark green, well-camouflaged Courge de Provence nearby too.   The courge is about 18 inches diameter so I don't know how I failed to notice it.

The leeks are doing well this year, I planted carrots alongside them to keep the bugs down.   This seems to have worked as there are hardly any bugs on the leeks this year.   Of course this is only anecdotal evidece so I should stop planting carrots alongside leeks until a carefully-controlled double-blind experiment proves that they are effective.

I have pulled out the tomato plants, but I left in the little French marigolds that are also said to help keep the bugs off.   After all, they look pretty and are doing no harm.   The green tomatoes will be sliced and fried.     And the last of the beans are waiting for the first air frosts before I harvest them.

Sweet corn wasn't very successful this year: I got two nice fresh ears off the 20-odd plants that grew, but those that I pulled later proved chewy.   Perhaps I have to pull them all off when they're still tender, and hope that they keep.   I will try to do better next year because I do like sweet corn.   The sunflowers grew well enough but don't seem to be good for anything.   Perhaps the birds will eat the seeds.

This metal grille in this picture was supposed to be a climbing frame for sweet potatoes, this year was the first time I tried them.   They got swamped by the squashes, so I'm not expecting much from them.   I found that they didn't seem to like being transplanted outside, perhaps it was still too cold when I did it, or perhaps I didn't let their roots grow long enough first.

In other news, green peppers, aubergines, beetroot and parsnips are doing well, as are carrots and scorzonera.

Thursday, 6 October 2022


Following swiftly on from my last post, here's a wicked walnut and fig tart.   With lashings of Calvados.  The recipe called for a glass of it, but didn't say how big a glass.

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