Posts Tagged ‘garden’

Things I have recently made at Ham House

The other day I was talking about the lovely fresh fruit and vegetables that the gardeners bring us at the Ham House cafe. Today, I’m going to show you that food in action. This is just a few of the things we have done with the garden produce.

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A fig and greengage tart

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An almond cake with blackcurrants and raspberries

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A gooseberry and apricot tart

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Mixture of dried herbs to flavour soups and risottos and stews

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Edible flowers decorating the cake section. The tart on the bottom left is with blackcurrants from the garden

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One of the table displays that a gardener made for the cafe

Danda and the chicken leg

A few years ago, Danda was living alone and he was eating how men eat when they live alone. He’d freeze things for emergencies – a ready made meal, a bit of meat, some peas (every freezer needs some peas, even if you never touch them), etc etc. You get the idea.

On the day in question, he was rooting through the freezer to see what emergency supplies he had. He found a lone chicken leg. It wasn’t in a packet or anything. He wasn’t sure how long it had been there. So he decided to throw it away. It was a Thursday and the bins wouldn’t be collected until Tuesday so he didn’t want to put it in the bin because it would defrost and then attract flies and the whole thing would be very unpleasant.

Hmm, thought Danda. What shall I do with the chicken leg? Oo! The foxes might like it.

As there are foxes around, he thought they might like a little nibble on a chicken leg.

The gardens of the houses in the two parallel roads back onto each other, so that the bottom of one garden meets the bottom of the other. The garden behind was always a wilderness of overgrown weeds and grasses. These overgrown weeds were also all over the fence dividing the two gardens so that you couldn’t even see into the next garden unless you went to an upstairs bedroom and could see a bit more.

Danda thought the foxes probably roam around in there all the time. Certainly no humans are wandering around in there, it’s too overgrown.

And so Danda, in his ultimate wisdom, with his plan in place, approached the bottom of the garden, frozen chicken leg in hand, and threw it quite hard over the weed covered fence and into the next garden.

CRAAAAASH!

Danda ducked and ran inside, hiding behind the back door and trying to work out what the noise was. Could it have been someone breaking into one of the houses? Someone throwing something at him? A domestic got out of control and a couple throwing each other’s stuff out of the bedroom window?

Puzzled, he climbed the stairs to look out of the back window and try to work out what was going on.

And that’s when he saw it.

The people who owned the garden behind had obviously tired of the wilderness nature of their garden and decided to smarten it up. Some of the long grasses had been cleared and they had even erected a brand new swanky-looking garden shed.

A garden shed with a chicken-leg-shaped hole in one of the lovely new glass windows…..

A walk around the garden (part 2)

In June, we walked around the garden and had a little look at everything, in anticipation of the changes that would come with summer. And they did. So last night, I thought, tomorrow I’ll do another walk around the garden, that’ll be nice.

And then it rained. And I walked anyway. So let’s go!

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Let’s start next to the back door. This is the cherry tree and that little stick above the leaf, the stick with nothing on the end of it. That held our entire cherry harvest for the year. Yep. One cherry. We have one little cherry. And it was stolen. I imagine it was a bird. Apparently they love cherries. It was unfair of them to take our only cherry though.

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Plums! Woop woop! These are doing pretty well at the moment. Its taken them a little while to get going but they’re looking good now.

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Tomatoes. I love when there are tomatoes at different stages of ripeness on the same bunch.

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This lavender plant has gone absolutely mad! During the day it is covered in bees and that makes me very happy.

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In between all the lavender plants is the lone rosemary bush. I love popping outside while cooking to grab some rosemary.

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More lavender.

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That beautiful mystery tree with the white flowers….? Yeh, it didn’t last long.

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The rain hasn’t done the flower corner any good 😦

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New petunias by the shed.

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More petunias!

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The new rhubarb plant! I got it from Ham House.

Operation Strawberry

For those of you who were over here on Monday, you may remember I had suffered a great injustice. The strawberry plant I bought on returning from Italy in April had started to bear fruit, which was then stolen from me in a most brutal manner. I feel I have been wronged in the most extreme way and have decided to set up Operation Strawberry to find justice for myself and my garden.

The aim of the inquiry:
To find the thief who thought it was ok to enter a garden not their own and help themself to the fruit they found there.

Statement from the injured party:
At 5.10pm on Sunday 7th July 2013, I arrived home from work. I went straight into the garden as it was hot and I wanted to sit down and read for a bit. Near the table is a strawberry plant. The day before, there was one strawberry which was almost at the point of being ready to eat. I had decided to give it one more day to go a bit redder. On the day in question, I sat down to read and looked at the strawberry plant and saw that the strawberry was no longer there.

Victim presents Exhibit A (photograph of crime scene):

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Victim impact evidence:
The loss of the strawberry has caused me great distress. I worry about leaving the other blossoming strawberries to go to work. I feel unsafe in my own garden and have thought about getting rid of the strawberry plants altogether, to avoid the possibility of further heartache, should the thief return. I worry for my cherry tree, plum tree and tomato plants and have taken to counting the budding fruit five times a day. This has been a difficult time for me.

The suspects:

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Suspect A – the fattest pigeon the world has ever seen
Suspect B – a human
Suspect C – a bat
Suspect D – the wind
Suspect E – the feisty squirrel

The evidence against Suspect A:
Suspect A, the fat pigeon, has been a regular in the garden for over 18 months. The victim claims to have seen him strutting around eating the bread that she puts out. She has rarely seen him fly and thinks he would find it a great strain to do so, given his body weight. She has seen him fly from the garden to the fence to perch but very little other movement. Given the height of the strawberry at the time of its disappearance, the pigeon would have had to be hovering in mid air to have got a good peck and dislodged it. This seems unlikely, given its dislike of flying in general. An authority on the matter (Google) tells me that wild birds do like to eat berries but there appears to be little solid evidence to bring into this courtroom about the specific situation of pigeons and strawberries.

You may leave the stand now, Fat Pigeon, unless you would like to offer any closing statements.

Fat Pigeon: “Has anyone got any bread I can eat, please?”

The evidence against Suspect B:
Suspect B, a human, is dealing with a lot of hurdles to get to the garden and the strawberry. Firstly, all the gardens on the road are joined together and are attached to the all the gardens behind the houses on a parallel road. There are no alleyways in between the gardens and no access to the general public. A human would have had to contend with a lot of gardens and fences before reaching the garden in question and in so doing, would have passed many other opportunities for fruit pilfering. There were no footprints or signs of forced entry in or around the garden. As such, it seems unlikely that a human is responsible for the crime.

You may now leave the stand, humans. Would you like to offer any closing statements?

Humans: “We could never steal from such a fantastic blogger. We definitely didn’t do it.”

The evidence against Suspect C:
Suspect C, a bat, is known to have a taste for sweet fruits but generally sticks to things growing higher up in trees. The strawberry plant would be far too low for a bat to consider it a snack worth going for. While the victim recalls seeing bats fly low over the garden during summer evenings, the time of the day that the crime was committed is at odds with the known waking hours of bats. The theft must have happened before 5.10pm, the time when bats are generally not known to be active. It seems unlikely that the bat was involved in the strawberry theft.

You may now leave the stand, bat. Do you wish to give any closing statements?

Bat: “Zzzzzzzzzz…..”

The evidence against Suspect D:
Suspect D, the wind, has been responsible for other fruit destruction in the garden, the victim says. The plums and cherries have all had to contend with unusual summer weather consisting of lower temperatures and higher winds than usual. It seems the wind could have played a part. The forensic evidence team returned to the scene of the crime the following day and shook the branches of the strawberry plant but no strawberries were seen to fall from the plant. Whilst leaving the property, one member of the team accidentally brushed lightly against the plum tree and a small green unripe plum fell to the ground, thus demonstrating the different effects the wind has on the different plants. It seems that, while plums dislodged and fell quite easily, the strawberries were more solidly affixed to their branches. The team also scoured the area at the time the crime was first reported and found no evidence of a fallen strawberry. It is unlikely, therefore, that the wind played a part in this crime.

You may leave the stand, wind. Do you have any closing statements?

Wind: “Sorry about the plums and the cherries. It was an accident.”

The evidence against Suspect E:
Suspect E, the feisty squirrel, is seen in the above photograph braving even the Fat Pigeon to get near the bread. We have evidence, therefore, that this Feisty Squirrel will face intimidating situations if the reward is a tasty snack. The squirrel has a taller body and stands on his back legs, bringing him to the correct height to be able to reach the strawberry plant where it sits on a slightly raised platform. The recognised authority on squirrels (Mumsnet.com) has a forum on which many fruit-growing members of the public have battled with the loss of strawberries via squirrel theft. Given the previous convictions in this area, it seems likely that the squirrel is the culprit. The victim recalls seeing this Feisty Squirrel in the garden often and has previously thought affectionately about him, as he was doing no harm. It now appears that there has been some premeditation to this crime, as the many visits by the squirrel were likely used to keep an eye on the growing fruit and know when it was ready for picking. It had obviously overheard the plan to eat it the following day and knew it was his chance to strike. It also seems, given the timing, that the squirrel had been building up a picture of when the house (and garden) were empty, the inhabitants being out at work, and chose precisely his moment to strike, using the information he had gathered over the months.

In light of the evidence, Feisty Squirrel, I hearby convict you of the crime of strawberry theft from Miss LL Maisey and order you to pay a fine of fifty nuts. You are also under a restraining order which prevents you from being within 100 metres of the garden boundary. Should you attempt to enter the garden illegally, you will be shouted at and the victim shall run at you with raised arms and yell obscenities.

This court is adjourned.

Stop press! Emergency!

Something has happened. Something of great seriousness and utmost importance. There must be an inquiry. Something must be done. The culprit must be found.

For I have some disturbing news, my friends. There has been A Theft. A Theft of massive proportions. Something of high importance has been stolen from me.

Do you remember a few weeks ago, when we had a look around the garden? And do you remember when I mentioned the strawberries?

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Well, this exact strawberry I’ve pictured here had started turn red a few days ago. And as we sat out eating dinner the other night, Danda said we should eat it. It was still quite pale though so I said we should give it one more day to let it go darker red and it would be more juicy. Excited, we rubbed our hands in glee and imagined the lovely strawberry fun which was to be had.

We would maybe eat it raw, we thought. Perhaps with a bit of cream. There were endless possibilities.

And so I came home today. And found this….

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And the strawberry was nowhere to be found. Danda says he can’t find it on the floor.

SO WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE? WHERE’S MY BLOODY STRAWBERRY?!

Who’s nicked it? Come on! Own up! Who’s had it? Was it a bird? A squirrel?

I need an inquiry here. At the very least, people need to be questioned.

What is the world coming to?

Things Trumpkin says

About a week ago, I attempted another challenge from my book called Going Greener by Simon Gear. He asked me to have a cup of tea in the garden. It was about appreciating nature and also getting know the garden all year round. When I woke up on the day I intended to do it, it had rained and looked freezing. So I stayed in bed instead.

This morning, I thought, let’s go for it again, get a jumper on and let’s do this! The last few days have been scorchio so I felt confident it would be nice for my challenge.

And then I woke up this morning and came downstairs and…..

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Yeh, I’m regretting putting that towel out on the line now.

And so, the back up plan comes into play. It’s similar to another post I wrote last week, about my favourite quotes from Narnia but today I’m specifically focussing on one character from the fourth book, Prince Caspian, a red dwarf called Trumpkin. You’ll see why I’ve chosen him to quote.

“Horns and halibuts!” exclaimed Trumpkin.

“Bulbs and bolsters!” he thought.

“Whistles and whirligigs!” said Trumpkin.

“Thimbles and thunderstorms!” he cried.

“Lobsters and lollipops!” he muttered.

“Giants and junipers!” Trumpkin shouted.

“Tubs and tortoiseshells!” said Trumpkin.

“Cobbles and kettledrums!” he shouted.

“Wraiths and wreckage!” exclaimed Trumpkin.

“Weights and water-bottles!” came Trumpkin’s angry voice.

Brilliant, aren’t they? We really should speak like this again.

So if you get annoyed at any point today, feel free to use any one of these phrases to exclaim, to show your annoyance. It also works for situations in which you are shocked or excited.

A walk around the garden (part 1)

Ok everyone. Let’s take a walk around the garden. I’m pretty proud of what’s going on there at the moment and should be surrounded by things to eat soon. The idea is that we will go for another walk around the garden in a month or so when everything has grown a bit more.

Let’s start by the back door. Immediately to our right, we have the new cherry tree, which I am massively excited about…

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Then a bit further along is the new plum tree that we bought the day we came back from Italy, to soften the blow of no longer being in Italy.

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Following the fence on the right hand side of the garden, we have the strawberry plants…

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…and the tomato plants….

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Inbetween the tomato plants and the lawn, near the rosemary bush, is the lavender plant, bursting out of its pot…

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…then at the end of the lawn is the mystery tree our neighbour gave us. We did figure it out and now I’ve forgotten what it’s called.

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My photographs didn’t turn out very well for the fuschia, the marigolds, the trailing lobelia or the pansies so you will just have to trust me that they are there and when we take another walk around, I’ll show you them.