Thursday, 8 July 2010

An Apparition...

...I beheld today, in the form of a man. Wearing an old fashioned looking tweedy three piece suit, walking along the pavement as I drove past, close cut beard, thick dark hair. He was Alan Bates as Gabriel Oak in Far From the Madding Crowd.

He was beautiful. And seeing such beauty made my day and made my ovaries ping a little!

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Stock Judging

Went to my brothers farm today as he was hosting his local Ayrshire Breeders Club in a stock judging event.
Basically, the farmer presents two or three classes of six cows/heifers and a guest master judge places them in order of merit. Everybody else judges them and those closest to the master judges placings win. There are mens, womens and junior categories.

Here is Sandyford Clover who was the breed champion at Cheshire Show last week.

These are some of  the views they enjoy from their home...

As children, we eagerly looked forward to stock judging events. They were usually held in the summer on four consecutive Friday evenings. It was a chance to try and win a few shillings and best of all there was always a reet good spread afterwards!

It was nostalgic for me today because it must be at least thirty years since I last had a go at stock judging. And yes there was a reet good spread. But best of all, I came joint first in the ladies judging!!! I was astounded, just going to show what a great stockman my father was and he taught us well.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010


Tonight we enjoyed our first cucumber. It was not too big and a bit spiky but when peeled and sliced it was delish. We each had a piece of a shop bought one followed by a piece of this and God was it good in comparison. I only wish I had a few plants now and not just one.

We also shared a bowl of strawberries, (approx 2 each) Royal Sovereign from DT Browns. They are beautiful, glistening and just the right size. They are sweet with a hint of sharpness. I have never tasted a strawberry like them before.

The peas are coming on too and the french beans scrambling up the poles amongst other things. Growing at home has been much more successful for me than at an allotment. It is easier to keep on top of and whilst I have only a miniscule amount of space in comparison I have far fewer weeds and my plants are much healthier too. I have not been overwhelmed as I often was in the past.

Here is bigger son helping to water the garden well as his little brother.

On a sad note, Reynard has paid us a visit twice in the last week and we have lost four of our hens, Edwina, Bunty, Dorothy and Maud. Maud was my favourite. Nature can be vicious sometimes.

P.S. My nephew (who is wearing the red shorts in my banner above ) has been poorly for several days and finally, after a lot of messing about, had his appendix removed the early hours of this morning. Have a good thought/prayer for him and his mum, my sister, who is expecting and has had several torrid nights with little if any sleep. Plus he has to stay in for several days for IV antibiotics as it was seemingly pretty bad.
Thank you in anticipation.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Another Grand Day Out Cheshire County Show.
The sun was blazing and there was so much to see.
Here is my 9 year old niece who won 1st prize for best young handler of a calf.

I particularly loved all the different breeds of cattle, some are really beautiful. This Hereford bull was huge...

and this shorthorn bull was a lovely dappled colour..

These Dexter cattle have very short legs and resemble dwarves..

My brother won Ayrshire breed champion with Sandyford Clover but I didn't get a pic so read this link if you want to know more

Here's a large billy goat giving us the eye..

and we managed to spot the Queen bee in this brood chamber..

There was a stunning array of vintage vehicles. I loved this ambulance..

complete with leather interior.

Whilst the boys preferred the tractors..

The country crafts were fabulous. This willow basket maker had learned from his dad before him, they weren't on the internet but managed to make a living..

Areas of forest unaccessible to vehicles are still worked by heavy horses. The relationship between this horse and his master were amazing. He was so obedient..

Handicrafts there were aplenty but I didn't take photos. The children didn't want to linger. One stall with lovely pinnies and pegbags was Madame Sew N Sew. Well worth a look. I was spent up by this stage so had to be content with browsing.

It was a great day out and last night when watering my garden I spotted this cheeky little chappie helping himself to my bird feeder...

Forgotten this one when I posted earlier...

Showing cattle (and the partying that goes with it) is pretty exhausting work. I don't know who he is but he was sparked out completely next to his cow!

Monday, 21 June 2010

Summer Solstice

I've been to visit an elderly man who is poorly in Blackburn Royal Hospital this evening. He is one of my patients and I am rather fond of him. He was pleased to see me so it was worth the effort.
As I left the little valley in which we live and breached the summit before descending to Blackburn, the sun was in full glory and I glimpsed the shiny ribbon of sea that is the Fylde coast, some forty plus miles away. It was a wonderful view. And then I saw a tractor and baler in a field of hay at the roadside. The bales were the old fashioned rarely seen these days oblong ones. It made my heart swell as I was transported back to my idyllic childhood. Haymaking was sweaty, hard heavy work and the bales scratched your thighs if you were wearing shorts. But the triumph of sitting atop an ambling gentle rolling trailer full of well stacked bales on the way back to the farmyard was well worth all the effort.

And when I got home we had a bit of fun in the garden....

big sis teaching littlest brother how to do the crab.

This girl is a champion under arm trumper. She has quite a repertoire which always sends her brothers into fits of giggles. Here she is doing it to music!

Today was a good day. High summer happiness and silliness I wish you all.

Friday, 18 June 2010

New Additions

We have two new additions to our little flock.....

Henrietta above and Hermione below...

They are light sussex and quite large hens compared to our regular brown Warrens and, great excitement, Henrietta is broody. Pictured above she is sitting on five hopefully fertile eggs provided by a friend who has a flock running with two cocks. So fingers crossed, in approx 18 days from now we may have some chicklets!

Meanwhile the garden is beginning to flourish. Just look at my little applets above. Aren't they cute?

This is a clematis called Graham something-or-other planted in September and looking lovely at the moment.

Here is our biggest strawberry "Royal Sovereign" just ready to turn hopefully.

Pea pods they are a plenty...can't wait to sample them.

And the boys have had loads of fun chasing bubbles. (Just look at my view, aren't I lucky?)
Hope you all had good weekends too.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Making Me Happy This week....

These gorgeous flowers a gift from my lovely littlest sis.

This baby boy is now four! (and still gets in with me at bedtime. I love it, we cuddle, he goes to sleep,I read for half an hour, blissful!)

And finally finished some knitting. This is Billie from Rowan Pipsqueaks. (I have nearly keeled over in shock when I've just seen how much this book is selling for on Amazon!)
It is knitted in a Bergere yarn and I've lost the ball band, it was totally the wrong tension so I knitted it 2 sizes bigger and it's OK, thank God because I am very poor at pulling things back to correct mistakes.
More to the point, he likes it. A big bonus in my book. It's for school and I am very proud to be the only mother with a child sporting a handknitted garment in our playground, even if it did take in excess of a year to complete!

And of course obligatory baking, for a senior citizens tea party at church this time....

40 scones.....

and two cakes with the last of my home made blackberry jam I'm afraid. Will have to make more this year.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Bertha, the Beach and Baby Knitting.

We took an impromptu trip today to Rhosneigr on the Isle of Anglesey. Any excuse to pack up Bertha and the knitting needles!

The new baby knitting is the same pattern as last time but a different baby to be.
Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino is really a bit out of my price range (£4.45 per ball) but gosh is it luxurious. So soft and smooth to knit. It's the tactile equivalent of creamy mashed potato, I could almost eat it.
And the baby is a bit special as it is to be my youngest sisters third child (after two consecutive miscarriages) and my Dad's 20th and most probably last grandchild. (He long ago gave up trying to remember all the birthdays!)
Anyway, she has had the 12 week scan and all is going well and the little critter is due mid December, so I thought this vibrant lime green would be just the splash of colour to get a midwinter baby noticed.

The weather was a bit dull today but it didn't dampen the childrens spirits and they were straight in the water. I had the luxury of reading almost all of the paper on the drive down, and uninterrupted knitting on the way back.

Standing on a patch of just washed pebble free sand in bare feet is akin to walking on velvet.
On the journey there I had read an article in the Times magazine by a columnist who is recovering from a  recent fall from a horse and subsequent paralysis. Her legs are totally useless at the moment and she was describing having just had a return of some sensation in her toes. It is heartbreaking stuff.

So I stood for ages on the shoreline, just moving to a fresh patch of sand after each wave broke, with my eyes closed, and relished the sensation, and thanked God for my two rather large but fully functioning feet.

Today I learned that I should celebrate the ordinary and little things, and give thanks every day. There is always somebody worse off than ourselves.

Monday, 31 May 2010

Party Time

We had a right royal get together on Saturday. There was food (lots of it)...

family  (45 in total)...

these are 3 of my lovely sisters.

and lots of fun despite the rain.

This is me above in true Ma Larkin style wearing my favourite pinny and supping some rather tasty vintage cider. My brother-in-law is the most appreciative pudding taster ever!

Another bro-in-law runs a rather posh gentlmens clothes shop and is always immaculately turned out. He kindly passes on his shirts to my hubby who wears them all till the death, usually of the collar first. I have saved these shirts and have now put them to good use as bunting (with the odd pair of pyjamas thrown in for good measure) So forget Kath Kidston, my bunting is Armani, Haines and Bonner, Aquascutum and Ted Baker to name but a few!

 We had a good coincidental reason to celebrate as one of my Dads donkeys, Ruby, produced this gorgeous little creature on Friday....

It's hard to believe she is only a day old here as she looks so tall next to her mum.
She is called Octavia, in memory of our very first donkey 40 years ago.
The original Octavia was the most placid donkey you could ever meet. It was impossible to contain her though, she should have been called Houdini. She could escape from anywhere and consequently spent her life wandering around the parish but always came home.
It is said you never see a donkey die, and when her time came a few years ago, my dad sat up all night with her in the stable as she neared her end. At 5 am he went into the house to brew a pint of tea as it would soon be milking time (he's a dairy farmer.) When he returned a few minutes later, she had gone.
I have many happy memories of days spent with that donkey.

Sunday, 23 May 2010

The Baskets First Outing

There was sunshine, it was someones 10th birthday, the basket (hereafter referred to as Bertha) was crying out for an airing, how could we resist?

So after a birthday treat of roller skating...


it was off to our favourite picnic spot of  Eddisford Bridge near Clitheroe..
There was feasting,

and fishing..

and swimming...

 and lots of posing on the lovely river bank...

And to round it off,

 cake of course.