Monday, 23 June 2008


Today is Midsummer day. The 24 th of June. The middle of Summer. Last saturday was the 21st, which was the Solstice. The longest day. People , in general, have forgotten that these are two seperate,although related, celebrations.

(Sorry,rant coming). I have heard a lot of twaddle spoken about the solstice/first day of summer/first day of spring, and seasons in general lately. Most notably on the Chris Evans Radio two show. It seems to me, that there are a great many people who live urban lifestyles, who do not have the faintest clue about Nature and her rhythms. They then have the temerity to try and tell Nature, and those who do listen to her, when the seasons may fall ! So, for those who may be interested, a short resume of approximate dates:

The end and beginning of the year, Samhaine (halloween) 31st October [this is also the start of winter].
Winter Solstice (longest night) 21st or 22nd December .

Yule/Midwinter 23rd December.
Imbolc. First day of spring. 1st or 2nd February .
Vernal (spring)Equinox. Balance. The hours of light and dark are equal. 21st or 22nd March.
Beltane. First day of summer. 1st of May. A most important festival.
Summer Solstice ( longest day) 21st or 22nd June.
Midsummer Day 24th June.
Lughnasad.First day of autumn. Celebration of the first harvests. 1st or 2nd of August.
Autumn Equinox. Balance of light again. 22nd or 23rd of September.
Back to Samhain.
I say approximate,because each year is slightly different, and also because Human calanders are out of sync with the Earth and the stars.
This was meant to be a loving note about the beauty of Nature at Midsummer. Well, nature is still beautiful, and it is still Midsummer. I leave you with a photo of Rosa 'surprise', and a hope that your Midsummer is warm, happy, and joyful. Blessed be.

Sunday, 15 June 2008


I love Roses. Not the stiff,angular Hybrid Tea types, or the awkward Floribundas. The sort I adore are the billowing,voluptuous old fashioned roses. Lush, silken petals, sending clouds of intoxicating perfume into the air.
I had always been vaguely aware of different sorts of roses, but in 1986, I went to the R.H.S. Chelsea Flower Show. In the Main Pavillion, I came face to face (as it were) with Peter Beales wonderful display of scented, old fashioned roses. But you couldn't buy at Chelsea (from the display stands). However, later that year, I met the Peter Beales stand again at the Bath and West Show. So, I bought a Souvenir de la Malmaison Rose, and a Baroness Rotheschild. That was it - I was hooked!
^ This Rose is Stanwell Perpetual. It's not overly popular,because the leaves have odd little marks and spots,as though it has black spot.But it dosn't. A super short climber, with a lovely,slightly sharp scent.

<- Gertrude Jekyll. A beautiful David Austin rose. She looks authentic, smells fabulous, and is fairly problem free.

<- Another David Austin-Eglantyne. Just wonderful. I have two in my garden.

<- And here is Isphahan. Unfortunately, when I bought this, I forgot to check whether it was remontant. It's not. So we get one amazing display in June,and that's it. Most of my Roses are repeat flowering. I think I have fourteen different roses in the garden. Only Isphahan, and Pauls Himalayan Musk, are once-only bloomers.
With all of these roses in bloom, along with three different Honeysuckles, three different varieties of Philadelphus (mock orange) and a drift of white sweet rocket, it's like walking in a bowl of pot pourri. Bliss....

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Spice buns and buttercups.

Ness and Lisa came over for coffee, this morning, bringing Little One for her first visit. She really is a little treasure. We had a lovely walk around the garden, happily wearing the buttercups we were given and 'oohing' at Dragonflies.
It was such a treat to see them, that I celebrated by making some little buns, to go with the coffee. (Tea, actually. I couldn't serve grotty coffee to the Maestro!). These are Cardamom and Cinnamon buns, from 'Falling Cloudberries', but drizzled with icing rather than glazed.
If I make three things from a new cookbook within a week of getting it, it's got to be good. I have done that with both of Tessa Kiros' books. I love them.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Blue and White.

I am not a great lover of Blue, and I never wear it. I do have an ongoing love affair with Blue and White china, though. I collect special , or unusual, pieces of blue and white Dragon china (surprise!). My everyday china is Masons/Johnson bros. Blue Denmark.
I went into a local charity shop yesterday, to buy knitting needles, for lending to non-knitting friends taking part in the Oxfam project. There, in the window, was a pile of the Blue Denmark. 35 pieces, to be exact. Perfect condition. £10. What could I do? I had said to Best Beloved that we needed more china .....we never have enough when the Close Knit girls come around.
Speaking of Best Beloved- He has been on leave for two weeks, and has just started the third,and final, week. This holiday (!) has been spent replacing three windows. That sounds straight forward, but they are large windows. He has also insulated and dry-lined the wall around each of those windows, and plastered the walls. The intention is to eventually have the house insulated to Eco-standards, and to generate as much energy as possible ourselves, from the wood burning stoves, and from solar panels, etc.
A post-script. I was very excited at the prospect of our hen Pheasant hatching chicks. Sadly, I arrived home in time to see the hen and cock pheasant trying to chase off FIVE Magpies, who were picking off the Chicks as they hatched. Yes,I know, that is what happens in Nature. It didn't stop me from chasing the Magpies with a broom. Nor did it stop me from crying sad tears.