Showing posts from July, 2020

Weekend Wandering: To the Sunflowers!

Chippenham is currently all a-buzz with news of the appearance of a huge field of sunflowers to the north of the town this week.  Come with me on the three or so mile stroll to see them in their full glory - the photo above is a mere teaser of what truly greets us at the end of our walk... As you can see our countryside's having a bit of a blonde moment as the grasses which line many of our roads have now dried to show off their decorative seed heads. We're lucky on this walk as we're following Maud Heath's Causeway for much of the way. It means we have a nice safe path to walk along away from any passing traffic. We go under the railway and even here the path remains as... ... we have our own pedestrian tunnel. The path predates the railway by centuries (15th vs 19th). Here we're looking back the way I've come so we can see the evening light through the tunnel. More blonde moments... ... a pause by a shadowy bench... ... over the ancient clapper bridge , then

Wildflower Wednesday: Hedge woundwort

2020 is proving to be a spectacular year for wildflowers, not just in terms of their abundance, but also for new ones popping up. A few weeks ago I spotted this newbie peeping out of the shade in our front side garden. A closer look and I'd instantly consigned it to a member of the deadnettle family owing to its nettle-like, hairy leaves without the familiar tingling sensation when touched. There my identification would have stayed; thank goodness for blogging and Wildflower Wednesday to encourage me to investigate further! A quick glance at Plantlife's information on the red dead-nettle and I could see straight away my initial ID was wrong owing to the rounder leaves and rather pink flowers. It doesn't have the distinctive markings of my garden's plant.  I turned to my trusty Francis Rose and found the answer within a couple of minutes in the form of exhibit A on the page. The leaves and distinctive flowers mark it out as hedge woundwort ( Stachys sylvatica ) inste

Garden Bloggers' Blooms Day: Surprise Flowers

In some ways flowers blooming out of season aren't that surprising here at VP Gardens , but I don't think I've found them in midsummer before. This week, I was surprised to find not one, but two instances on my daily walk around the garden. Here we have a few damp apple blossoms shining out in the rain; even more surprising seeing the tree is already bearing a goodly crop of maturing fruit. If spring to summer blooms isn't that much of a stretch of the imagination, then winter/spring to summer might just do it in the shape of this hellebore. It's so comfortable in what it's doing, it's put out another bud since I first spotted it in flower. This is one of a new batch I planted out last year, which were just small plugs when I got them. A few flowered at their allotted time in January, but many more didn't, which I put down to them not being mature enough. Perhaps it's showing it's all grown up now? I've been pondering the reason(s) why these

Take a leek

We reached a recovery milestone on Saturday with NAH venturing out to do the weekly shop for the first time since March. What we hadn't bargained for was my enthusiasm for using every scrap of a piece of paper and NAH being unused to what should be on there. As a result he shopped using last week's list found on the other side as I hadn't crossed it out like he usually does. It meant I had a surfeit of leeks and pondering them a couple of days ago, I came up with a simple, healthy stir-fry for tea, substituting the leeks for my usual choice of onions. The mange tout (snow peas) I planted out at the end of April are in full flow, so I used them instead of frozen peas, and the fresh red chilli came courtesy of my neighbour who presented me with a bag of them from her regular veg box order. NAH declared the result a success and I've decided the subtle flavour from the leeks makes for a more delicious stir-fry in future. The recipe follows... Ingredients   Oil spray for fry

From a Day in the Life to Lockdown Life

A little while ago I told you about my latest WI project - A Day in the Life - which I started in May and included a blog post about my day under full Lockdown conditions. I had an amazing response with over 31 women taking part, that's around two thirds of our membership. I then spent most of May and some of early June collating it all into a magazine called Lockdown Life .  The picture above shows the front cover with a photo of a local community mosaic which I chose as its colours are similar in tone to everything else. It was such fun to do and I learnt a lot as it was my first attempt at such a thing; I now have a much greater appreciation of the editorial process.  The magazine's reception has been amazing and I even got to talk about it on local radio recently! It's also going into the Covid-19 archives at our local library, museum and history centre, so we've definitely made our mark on the history of these strange times. So how did I make the magazine? It was