Wednesday, 24 September 2014

A Year in the life.....

There are many writers whose style I enjoy, and look for. Susan Hill is a popular and admirable author, but not one I generally read. The first Christmas after our marriage, Best Beloved gave me 'The Magic Apple Tree'.  I absolutely fell in love with it. It is very much a calendar of the country year, much in the tradition of Flora Thompson or Frances Kilvert.
This is a book which I come back to, and read regularly. It never fails to cheer me, when I am in low spirits. It is full of the gentle delights of small, homely things. So, although I don't read many of her other books, Susan Hill is one of my favourite writers.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014


Today is the Autumn Equinox. Balanced halfway between the end of Summer, and the beginning of Winter. Light and dark ( day and night ) of equal measure.
It has been an extraordinary year. An unusually wet winter, followed by an unusually dry Spring and Summer. We had two days of almost torrential rain, and then plunged into an Indian Summer. ( I am writing only of the local experience - other areas have been very different.)
I have heard that many people, having experienced bumper fruit crops last year, have fared less well this year. We have been lucky. Our apples have produced similar crops to last year. The pear tree, having been caught by a late frost, produced no ripe fruit last year.  This year, we had more than we can eat. Such a joy to be able to preserve some, and share some with family and friends. The plums did well, too, but went from ripe to mouldy  almost overnight, if not watched. The damsons are still being picked. The mulberry tree has produced a pleasing crop, too. We have to keep checking, and then picking when we see some ripe fruit .... the Blackbirds have discovered them, and will gorge themselves and take everything if they can.
In our hedgerows, the fruiting trees are looking good... Spindle Tree, ( above ) will split the calyx on the seeds soon, and the seeds will shine a bright orange though the pink shell.
In this picture, the fruit of the Dogwood look like blackberries, but the sprays of fruit are half the size of my hand.
These Sloes ( fruit of the Blackthorn ) will be ready for use after the first hard frost. The frost is necessary to produce what little sugar is available in the flesh. ( precious little! )

The dog roses and eglantynes have been wonderful, so the hedges are covered in these hips, really splashing the dulled green of late summer foliage with some life.
My first foray into growing Dahlias has been a great delight. I have had flowers from all the plants I started. Not many from some, and lots from others.
I can only remember the name of one. The amazing bloom above is from a dahlia called Nick Sr. It is the size of my hand with fingers spread out, like a star.
And this last one is actually much darker than the picture shows. A really rich, intense colour.