Wednesday, 31 August 2011

The Last Day of August

"It's in the trees... it's coming............"    

Oooh bloglies .... can you smell it?  That tang.... that nip in the air.... the signs in the hedgerows?    

If I stand on my very tip-toes and squint a little .... I can see Autumn just around the corner....

My very favouritest favourite time of year. 

I shall welcome it with open arms.
Today I've been walking over the fields, intent on availing Mother Nature of the huge and abundant blackberries Charl and I had discovered on Sunday morning but couldn't harvest at the time.  I took HTH with me and we had a wonderful couple of hours, just walking and watching and listening.   The late Summer sunshine was really warm on my back and it was so blissful to be out there, just half a mile from home, but at the same time deep in the countryside that I love. I 'heard' two other people (on the other side of the hedge from us), walking their dogs.  I saw no other soul from the minute I stepped out of our garden gate until I got back.

Unusually for mid-morning, I heard the owl; I spend my wakeful insomniac hours listening to her calling into the early hours but today I could hear her hoo-hoo-hooing softly in the trees above me.  I looked and looked for him/her but couldn't see where the hooting was coming from.  All I know is that he/she was very close to where I was blackberry picking.  I also heard - and saw - two young buzzards wheeling around directly above.  My poor old camera just caught dots in the sky though.

I won't bore you further with my waxing lyrical so I'll let the photographs do the talking.

The Lightning Tree.   I love this tree.  A lot.  And it hasn't been hit by lightning at all - but that theme tune always comes into my head when I see it.  Yes I know...... moving on .....

Beautiful vistas framed by elderberries

Clouds.   Sigh..

Ivy scrambling up a dead tree trunk

Mellow fruitfulness

The elderberries are really ripe for picking

Now look here.   I can see an elephant lying down.  Front legs (ok one is a bit thinner than the other), trunk sticking up in the air and a white tusk.   I've shown this photo to family members who have either smiled politely and nodded whilst backing away at top speed, or called me a raving loony hippy.  Tut.   How rude.

My beautiful blackberry bounty

Home to gifts of damsons.....

And apples......

And home made cottage pie.

Summer is drawing to a close.

I'm glad I celebrated it with a simple day full of simple pleasures.

It suited simple me perfectly.

Goblin Market

A few years back now, I was in the fug of my warm kitchen, scrapbooking on the kitchen table as dinner cooked in the oven.  It was a Sunday and I distinctly remember it being grey and miserable outside.  I had been in there for most of the afternoon, happily listening to Radio 4 in the background whilst I crafted away.  The afternoon play and gardening programmes eventually melted into Poetry Please.  I listened to a couple of the poems broadcast and then the next one made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.  Whether it was the skill of the narrator and her honeyed tones (I believe it was Daniella Denby-Ashe) or the content of the poem I know not, but I distinctly remember being absolutely enthralled for the rest of the reading and immediately had to read it for myself.

It was incredible karma therefore, a couple of weeks later, that I found this very book in a charity shop for 50p
Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti has been interpreted by many literary critics over time, and each critic has their own views on the subject matter.  The poem is widely seen as a  "a sensuous fairy story, ...  a heady tale of repressed sexuality and sisterhood".  

What.  Ever.   

To me it's evocative of Autumn  and naughty goblin folk and the changing seasons.  It is without doubt a very sensual (and very long!) poem.  I'm no literary buff I'm afraid - I have absolutely no desire to disassemble the poem and look for hidden meanings and all that malarkey.  I just know that I love it and that it's one of my very favourite poems.  I'd love to hear that particular reading again but I've trawled Youtube and the Radio 4 iplayer thingie with no luck. 

I'm not going to post the whole poem again - but check it out here if you wish.   There is a reading up on Youtube by  David Shaw Parker which may have been recorded for Audiobooks, but having heard it read so beautifully by someone else, his reading was complete devoid of the sensuality of the writing somehow and irritated me to death!! (Get me being a diva! - Snigger!!)

Here's the first verse... I do hope that it entices you to read more.

Morning and evening

Maids heard the goblins cry:

"Come buy our orchard fruits,

Come buy, come buy:

Apples and quinces,

Lemons and oranges,

Plump unpecked cherries,

Melons and raspberries,

Bloom-down-cheeked peaches,

Swart-headed mulberries,

Wild free-born cranberries,

Crab-apples, dewberries,

Pine-apples, blackberries,

Apricots, strawberries; -

All ripe together

In summer weather, -

Morns that pass by,

Fair eves that fly;

Come buy, come buy:

Our grapes fresh from the vine,

Pomegranates full and fine,

Dates and sharp bullaces,

Rare pears and greengages,

Damsons and bilberries,

Taste them and try:

Currants and gooseberries,

Bright-fire-like barberries,

Figs to fill your mouth,

Citrons from the South,

Sweet to tongue and sound to eye;

Come buy, come buy........"

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

A Time to Reap....

August rushes by like desert rainfall,

A flood of frenzied upheaval,


But still catching me unprepared.

Like a matchflame

Bursting on the scene,

Heat and haze of crimson sunsets.

Like a dream

Of moon and dark barely recalled,

A moment,

Shadows caught in a blink.

Like a quick kiss;

One wishes for more

But it suddenly turns to leave,

Dragging summer away.

~Elizabeth Maua Taylor~

As expected, 'my' field was harvested over the weekend....

A Roll in the Hay?  Oo-er missus!!

Cassie maintained a safe distance from proceedings from the top of the gate and feigned indifference.

Keep that thing away from me!!
They were working on the back field until 1am this morning.  I'm assuming this is because the Farmer is well aware that the weather will close in today and wanted to get it finished. 

The Wheel of the Year is turning so quickly...  blessings upon your harvest home - whether it be a few bendy carrots - or three hundredweight of courgettes!!

K xxx

Monday, 22 August 2011

Nothing ventured....

During my week off I've had time to do some thinking and assessing.  I make no bones about the fact that I have come to dislike my job intensely.  I've worked for the same company for many years now and I've seen many changes during that time, not always for the better in my opinion but hey; what do I know? I began my working life as a glorified Girl Friday in a tiny engineering office in Stourbridge progressing over time to a PA for management in the insurance sector in Birmingham and then back to Stourbridge to work in a Solicitors office.  Although I had no legal qualifications, my experience led to me working as a paralegal for seven years, during which time I handled hundreds of road traffic accident claims. 

Last year, several things happened in a very short space of time.  My darling Dad was diagnosed with inoperable oesophagal cancer; my marriage, which had been limping painfully along for years, finally ended, my workload shot up and I was finding myself bringing work home as well as working from 8- 6 in the office.  Something had to give, I guess.   Unfortunately that was my mental health.  I was signed off work for three months and, with the support of my family and close friends, eventually sorted my head out enough to return to work.  I knew at that time I simply couldn't stand the stress of the enormous workload of the paralegal position again, and so I stepped back into secretarial work for the same office.

What a difference a year makes. My Dad is, up to now, in remission thanks to some wonderful care and medication via the NHS; I've been in an incredibly loving and respectful relationship for the past 15 months - something that I have to pinch myself about every day; whilst I had to take an enormous pay drop, we're doing ok.  We get by on what we have, we live well, and delight in simple pleasures which cost little or nothing.  Whilst I take nothing for granted, I have a lot to be grateful for.

Except........... ah.... the job thing.   I can't do it any more.  I can feel my personality being leeched out of me as soon as I press the entry fob against the prison gates every morning, and I don't feel like I breathe properly again until I 'fob out' again at five.   Melodramatic?  Well maybe ... but I'm an honest blogger and that's how I feel.

At sixteen, the last thing I ever wanted to do was work in an office.  My work experience was spent at Dudley Zoo, caring for the animals, killing rats to feed to the reptiles and shifting sacks of feed from one end of a barn to the other.  I loved it!  I was a relatively bright student and in the higher streams at school.  I had a love of the English language and adored creative writing - but I had no wish to continue into further education. All the careers which appealed to me (social work, psychology,  criminology) required huge great swathes of applied learning which I simply wasn't prepared to do at that time.  As a result, I guess I've been 'unfulfilled' for all of my working life - and scarily enough, that now spans twenty seven years. 

I'm not sure where this blog post is going really.  It's just a stream of consciousness as always.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I've had a bit of an epiphany in this last week.  The time is now and all that.  No-one is going to change things for me.  If I want to move onwards and upwards then I need to do it myself.  I know I'm capable.  I just need to believe in myself and take a step into the unknown.

Whilst I have the financial cushioning of a permanent job,  I'm going to begin the plotting and planning of a new business venture.  It's not a new idea but certainly one that has a lot of untapped potential.  It will need a lot of work, a not insignificant amount of outlay and plenty of enthusiasm.

"Watch this space", is, I think  a suitable closing statement!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Rock n' Roll

Hi everyone

My precious week off work has absolutely whizzed by. I simply can't believe that I have to go back to the dark and gloomy place tomorrow.  Big sighs of Eeyore proportions are being sighed here at Peapods I can tell you.

However, we've had a lovely few days together and although we haven't had a 'holiday' as such, we've packed lots in to the last few days, including very early start boot sales (why is it that I have no problem in getting up at stupid o'clock to go booting but can hardly haul my derriere out of bed by 8am to get to work for 9?!), long walks with the hooligan who shows very slight signs that he is beginning to calm down - although I'm not holding my breath - and a visit to the 'Home of Metal' exhibition in Birmingham.

If you like your music on the heavy side and are interested in the 'old school' rock bands of the early 70s/80s then this will be pretty interesting to you and is worth a visit.  Tucked down inside the depths of  the basement of Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, it costs £6.00 to get in (it's free entry into the Museum otherwise so you could certainly justify the cost of entry by touring around the rest of the Galleries and displays during your visit.    Personally I thought that the entry price was a little steep considering that the rest of the Museum is free to visit, but perhaps that's just me being a cheapskate. 

The installation has lots of tour memoribilia, mostly provided by fans of the gendre - and to be honest - I could probably charge £6.00 entry to my house and show you as many tour tickets, concert programmes, teeshirts and leather as was available to view in some of the display cabinets.  However, I'm perhaps being a little churlish here.  The exhibition bought back loads of brilliant memories for me of attending rock gigs and rock nights in sweaty Birmingham clubs and pubs, the smell of patchouli oil and the frisson you got when the first power chord on a Fender Strat was struck as the lights went down. Although I'm not a 'Brummie' by birth, it's endearing to think that a heck of a lot of the big names in rock music cut their collective teeth (fangs?) playing in and around Birmingham and the Black Country. 

Travelling through the exhibition, you begin by viewing elements of the heavy industry which dominated the area, then into a typical 60s/70s front room (with Ozzy on the telly!!).  There was a great 'stage' area complete with wigs, drums and guitars for people to have a jam session of their own.  Another section exhibited some stage costumes  from past Judas Priest and Sabbath tours.  There was footage on a loop showing how Donington Monsters of Rock festival (now known as Download of course) evolved (this was great 'cos I used to go to these and it really is hilarious comparing how the festival is now to how it was back in the day!

The thing that had me tittering like a loon though, was the children's activity area where your offspring could... wait for it..... "colour in Rob Halford" or..... (snigger) "Help Ozzy find his way through the maze".   Rock an' bloomin' ROLL kids!!

Here are a few pics - I didn't take many as it was a little dark inside and my poor ancient camera didn't cope very well.

Fab carpet!!  Groovy telly!

Lots of press cuttings about the rise of the mighty Sabbath

Never a truer word spoken.  I don't know how I'd survive without my music

Rockers 'Uniform'
There was a quote by the side of this jacket from it's owner who stated that "Every metal fan had to choose their back patch carefully.  I liked this one because it made old ladies tut".

Hee hee... a man after my own heart!!

Rob Halford's stage outfit  - leather and studs... what else would you expect really?!

Tony Iommi's jacket

KK Downing's leathers - man he has one tiny bum to get into these babies!
 So there you have it.  We spent a pleasant hour around here before venturing out into the wilds of Birmingham City Centre.  Part of it is still showing some scars of the recent riots with a few store windows boarded up, but on the whole things are getting back to normal.   It's not broken.  Just a little bruised in places. 

We found a  little Chinese buffet restaurant for lunch - all you could eat for six quid.  We didn't manage much though, although the food was nice enough.  Neither of us eat much during the day as we tend ot have our main meal in the evening.  Although the food was adequate enough, I have to say that we deducted points because the coffee was evil  and the girl overseeing proceedings needed an intensive course in customer relations - so we escaped to Druckers for our after lunch coffee!! 

How was your week? 

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Lottie Life

Evening all.

Bright Blessings to you. I trust that you have all had a relaxing Sunday doing stuff that makes you happy.

I thought I'd take you on a wander around the allotment today. This is a photo heavy post as I got a little snap happy - but I do hope you'll enjoy them.

You'd be forgiven for thinking that this photo is of bunches of grapes.  The damsons are weighing down the boughs this year and are ready and ripe for picking a good few weeks earlier than usual.

Pretty poppies by the side of the shed

 Feverfew grows in wild abandon all over the allotment in little clumps like this one.  Pretty little flowers with very strongly scented leaves.

The last of our potato harvest.  We had some whoppers in this dig... the largest measures about 8" long and weighs nearly 1lb on it's own!  All these potatoes were grown from chitted shop bought potatoes and  not from seed potatoes.  Our yield has been considerably bigger both in potato size and amount than the ones my parents grew on their plot - all from proper seed potatoes... Go figure as our American friends would say!

The oak leaf salad is doing really well - trouble is as soon as you pick these leaves you need to use it immediately as it goes limp really quickly.  One for the kitchen garden I think, to pick as required, rather than mass grown on a lottie patch.

We weeded our terribly overgrown butternut squash patch.  It was great to see so many flowers on the plants and the runners are really growing away strongly now.  I can't wait to see the squashes start to form.  The sweetcorn is looking very sad for itself. I think we planted this far too late in the season and next year I will sow directly into the ground rather than in pots first of all.   The ubiquitous courgette is, of course, courgetting away prolifically!!

Lovely rainbow bright chard.  This is such a handsome plant and looks amazing when the sun shines on the leaves.   The 'ribbing' and stems just seem to glow.

Our little wildlife pond - would you believe that there are still tadpoles in here?!

Many of the allotment plots have now been arranged into raised beds by the lottie holders.  It really does make much lighter work of gardening.

The longest runner bean I have ever seen!! 

This very neat plot is very orderly and mulched over with shredded bark.  We get job lots for free from a local tree surgeon as well as the local council and use it for the pathways to keep the weeds down as far as we can

These 'cages' are definitely the way forward.  Wooden frames covered in a very fine mesh keeps away marauding pigeons which lay waste to soft fruit and brassicas, peas - well you name it and they'll have it away! It also prevents significant caterpillar damage as the holes in the mesh are too tiny for butterflies to get in.   Soft fruit in particular does brilliantly inside these cages.

This tiny tree is just a couple of years old but the Bramley apples it bears are HUGE!

The local brewery supplies used hops which are perfect as both a mulch and a fertiliser. 

A teeny tiny pumpkin begins it's journey towards Halloween!

And finally - pretty windmills... more decorative than practical I feel as the pigeons merely roll their eyes in disdain !!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Dog Days of Summer

Hello bloglies!

Welcome back once again to my little blog.  I am so pleased to welcome you in.  32 followers now! Wow!!  When I began my babblings I never dreamed that I'd even get one follower never mind 32.  Thank you all very much indeed for visiting me and for leaving comments.  I promise I read and enjoy them all.

There's been more than a sniff of Autumn in the air today.  A mizzly rain started the day but it developed into a pretty mild morning with quite strong sunshine.  Even so, I felt that an almost intangible sniff of Autumn hung in the air. 

We took Harvey the Hooligan for his usual yomp over the field this afternoon.  The wheat has not yet been harvested and is very ripe, the heads of grain hanging heavy on their stems.  I would think that if there's a dry spell by the end of this week, the harvester will be out working into the night as it does every year.  I've probably mentioned before that the field is more than just an open space to me.  I watch the seasons change by it and the wheat harvest never fails to make me a tiny bit wistul that the year is absolutely racing by.

Other autumnal signs........

These little beauties will be well and truly plundered tomorrow morning!

The last of the poppies and their seed heads. 

A close-up - I love this picture!

One man and his dog.  I'm always lagging behind swooning over wildflowers, cloud formations, butterflies and trees. He's used it now!

In other news...........

Harvey had several new toys today.  He does a war dance with this and no ankles are safe!

Still nicks my bloody wool tho!!  Goodness knows how he got hold of this!!

Hattie dug herself a trench this afternoon.  By the time she'd finished her whole body was hidden in the hole!

Charlie seeking peace and quiet on top of the chicken run roof.   Sorry matey - you should know there's no such thing as privacy at Peapods!

Saturday night is our night for cooking something a bit spesh.  It was my turn this weekend - Charlie cooks for us all week as he's home during the day.  I'm doing the Dukan diet as I may have mentioned so I have to stear clear of carbs (oh god - now I know I should go to bed - I just typed crabs!!! hahahahah).

I tend to stick to quite plain meals during the week (although I enjoy them all)  so tonight I really wanted something to tickle my tastebuds as I'm celebrating my first stone off.

To begin with, I made a simple salad of Little Gem lettuce (sadly not home grown but on special offer in Asda!!), some lovely little vine tomatoes which were in the reduced fridge at 25p, some chopped cucumber and onion.  This was made mid-afternoon and all tossed into my lovely new (well - to me anyway) Denby bowl (£2.00 from YWCA chazza shop during the week!).  (Ramble alert:- As an aside - I was browsing a home decorating magazine this morning and spotted a large salad bowl in one of makeover features. Ooh that's nice, I thought.  Yeah it was a beaut.  And a complete steal at just £55!!!  Pah!!  £55 indeed.  That's nearly three quarters of a week's rent fergoodnessakes!!  HAH!! I laugh in the face of your posh salad bowl.   Mine is totally fab so there and does exactly the same job! Ner!)  Ahem.  Where was I?  Oh yeah.  So... back to dinner......  I had a pack of turkey mince in the freezer and some lamb meatballs.  Both from the reduced 'whoops' section and I had paid the princess-ly sum of £1.80 for both packs.  I oven baked the lamb balls  on a grille above the roasting dish because I was a tad worried about their fat content.  To the turkey mince, I added finely chopped onion, sage and thyme, seasoning and an egg, then shaped it into .... erm.... well balls is a bit of a misnomer really.  Let's lovingly call them splodges.  Sounds homely and rustic doesn't it?!  A couple of tins of tommyatoes, onion, garlic, tommyato puree, worcester-shoire (you have to pronounce that  like a farmer cos that's the proper way don'tcha know?! ;) ), a couple of teasp. of sugar and some seasoning were simmered in a pan, before the turkey splodges were added and allowed to bubble away to their little splodgy hearts' content as they cooked and the sauce reduced and thickened.

Some natural yoghurt, mint, onion and cucumber were made into a quick raita dip, and finally some pitta bread warmed through to pile it all into.  Well I had mine piled into salad leaves - but - it was divine!! Even tho I say so myself.  And I do say so!! 

Sounds all long-winded but it really wasn't - probably an hour tops including making and cooking to serving. The boys declared it a hit and I shall definitely do it again. 

Our Saturday Night Feast!

Huge £2.00 Denby bowl stuffed with salad.

Oh dear me - yet another mammoth post.  I can never write one word when 73 will do.  Sorry.  Well a bit anyway!!!

Night all.

Close the door on your way out and don't disturby HTH.   He's had a VERY busy day!!