29 May 2019

Life on the Hedge

This morning we visited our local farm shop to buy a few things for lunch.  Paul had baked bread and we wanted to get some pâté and cheese to go with it. There were just too many tempting things on display!  Kat is at home this week so I blame her for persuading Paul to buy the bottle of Sloe Gin.  We had a tasting session when we got home – it packed quite a punch but was absolutely delicious.

the Wild Boar pâté was good too

Earlier in the day all three of us had gone out on our bikes. Kat was riding her traditional ladies bicycle and I was a bit worried that she wouldn't be able to keep up with us on our snazzy hybrids.  I should have known better, she cruised effortlessly along and left me standing!  Paul just about managed to stay with her but I had to play catch up all the way.  Give me another glass of that Sloe Gin!

27 May 2019

A Model Dog

A cool and blustery Bank Holiday Monday.  No art class in Market Rasen today but I decided to get my paints out and do some painting at home.  Rick offered to be my model (much more fun than still life). 

not the best pose but at least he was still

preliminary colour wash

a bit more detail required (I never know when to finish) but it doesn't look scruffy enough to be Rick

24 May 2019

Are You Mad?

Are you mad?  This was the question that went through people’s minds when Paul and I announced that we were leaving our beautiful house in south west France and moving back to the UK and to the county of Lincolnshire.  Before we came here I had visions of flat fens, cold easterly winds with mist rolling in from the North Sea and flat fields full of potatoes and turnips but the countryside in North Lincolnshire is a very different story.

For the past two mornings we have gone out early to cycle.  Extensive blue skies and warm sunshine have really showed the countryside in all its glory.  It has been a real joy cycling the lanes through the pretty villages.  Yesterday we headed south, through Normanby by Spital (pronounced Normby Spital by the locals) down to Spridlington, turned eastwards past the futuristic looking Sky Dock, and then north through the three Toft villages (Newton-by-Toft, Toft-next-Newton and Newtoft).  The roads were smooth and flat and we managed a good speed, the best this year.  We cycled past Gibbets Post Farm, a rather macabre place name but the site of an old gibbet tree. (Gibbeting was a common form of punishment in Britain up until 1832 when criminals were hung up to rot in gibbet irons by the roadside as a warning to others.)

the gibbet tree at Gibbet Post Farm
Today was a bit breezier.  We headed north to Waddingham and sat outside the pretty church to take a short break.  The wind must have been behind us coming home because I managed to hurtle up the hill without any help from Frogs A-Courtin.

St Mary and St Peter's Church, Waddingham
Our parsley in the herb patch is going bonkers so I picked a big bunch and mixed it with some basil leaves to make pesto for lunch.  I used salted peanuts instead of pine nuts because the price of pine nuts is ridiculous - £4.75 for a very small packet.  We ate outside, drinking red wine with pesto and pasta for lunch.  France seems very far away now.

19 May 2019

The Vegetable Garden

Paul has worked incredibly hard since our arrival last September to make a vegetable garden from scratch.  He had to remove the turf, rotovate and prepare the soil and build a fence around the plot to keep Rick out. After all this work and some careful planting it is finally beginning to look like a proper little potager.

the spinach is producing extremely well

Paul planted his potatoes in tubs, even recycling the old water tank from the loft

hoping to get some broad beans this year

catch the dandelion seeds before they fall

Rick is convinced he can't be seen when he hides behind the cordyline pot


18 May 2019

Distracted Baking

I decided to bake something different today, a lemon drizzle cake and some almond buns.  This would be an incredibly easy task for Mary Berry but it was going to be quite a challenge for someone like me.  I was going to have to concentrate and do everything very carefully.

I had just made the basic cake mix when Paul burst into the kitchen and asked me to look after Rick while he disposed of a dead pigeon.  He didn’t actually see Rick kill it, and Rick insisted it was the neighbour’s cat but the feathers sticking out of his mouth suggested otherwise.  Rick looked at me with innocent eyes while I got back to the baking.  I poured the cake mix into the pan before realising that I had forgotten to add the lemon zest.  After re-mixing and repouring I was back on track.

I added the crushed almonds and chopped apricots to the other half of the cake mix and....what the?  I looked out of the window in disbelief.  Paul had climbed a ladder and was half way up the big poplar tree, hanging on with one hand and waving a saw in the other.  How the heck was I supposed to be able to concentrate on baking surrounded by all these distractions.

The cakes all seemed to turn out okay but I might just stick to rock buns in future.

16 May 2019

Self Image

We went cycling today, across to Brandy Wharf and back along the River Ancholme.  It was very blustery but Paul was an effective windbreak, I tucked up close behind him and he did all the hard work.  It was pleasant riding alongside the river, there were two swans on the water and a third sitting on a nest amongst the reeds.

Our overall speed was down due to the wind but we managed a couple of good sprints.  In France I used to recite the Owl and the Pussycat when I was climbing long hills.  The hills in Lincolnshire are less steep but faster so I find that singing A Frog Went A-courting is a more effective tempo.  It certainly seems to help me get up that last hill before home.

When I’m sprinting along I picture myself as a lithe, athletic figure on my bike...

 The reality is of course very different...

15 May 2019

Lunch in the Garden

What a fabulous day it has been here in Lincolnshire - clear blue skies and sunshine.  We had lunch on the terrace and it was nice to linger and just enjoy being outside.  We were entertained by the most incredible birdsong.  Our garden is surrounded by trees and hedges and we have so many song birds - blackbirds, thrushes, robins and ring-necked doves to name just a few.  It was truly enchanting.

After lunch it was time for Rick’s walk.  He decided to do his business under a hawthorn bush in full blossom.  By the time I had scrambled under the bush and retrieved his mess in the doggy bag we looked like we had both been to a wedding, we were covered in white petals. 

We are making the most of this sunshine, it’s not going to last.