New bespoke sign for the house

It’s been more or less a decade since we moved to Willow Cottage and in all that time we’ve never had a house name on the building.

We’ve been through several postmen and postwomen and, after several trips round the village locating parcels, the’ve all learned over the years that we’re the ones tucked away in the corner.

One of our friends has just set up a new business creating beautiful bespoke signs from cut steel – so we thought this was the perfect chance for us to solve the house sign problem.

We comissioned a couple of signs – one smaller one for the house front:
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…and one larger one for the garden (naturally):

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We think they’re lovely. You can see more of Lucia’s products online at Wild Ink.

Him

A tour of the garden in July

I managed to get out and take a few pictures in-between rain storms today. I thought you might like a look.

The borders are looking full and green. The roses, lavender and cosmos are flowering well.

The orchard is recovering after a hard winter. We were unsure whether the grass would come back. The chickens and ducks are enjoying the growth and if you look carefully you can see that it was actually long enough to mow a path down the middle.

Lots of change in the veg patch. That scarecrow is in desperate need of a makeover.

The spinach is already going to flower, the potatoes are cropping well and the courgettes are huge! The only thing not looking great is my runner beans.

Do you remember that I am trying to grow my runner beans along side my sweet peas? Well, so far, neither look great. They are about 50cm high and still have a long way to climb up those poles we put in! You can just see the purple sprouting broccoli plant down the middle. They are doing really well.

We have a new addition to the garden – a rather handsome rhubarb forcer.

Here’s hoping the sun shines…

Her x

Boys 8th birthday campfire party

When the boy turned eight whilst we were living in the garden, it was only natural to hold a campfire birthday party for him. It seems so long ago now but the evening was fantastic and the boys all loved it.

We had a birthday tent for sleeping…

We had a campfire tea and breakfast. This was cooked mainly by the boys: some had only ever seen a BBQ before so looked quite startled when we told them to make a fire if they were hungry.

They toasted marshmallows on the campfire too.

We went on a night hike with torches. The boys ran off loads of steam and were tired out when we got back and certainly ready for bed.

We had a donut cake tower for supper and everyone was asleep by 9.30pm.

It was a great concept for a party and one we will all remember for a long time. Partly because of the building work, partly because it was so different, and partly because the boys loved it so much.

Her x

We’re back in action!

Phew! Well, it’s been a busy nine months or so, but we’re pleased to be back in action on what seems to have been the first sunny and warm(ish) day of the year.

Where have we been? Well, we mentioned a while back that we were going to have some building work done. We had great plans in place to blog our summer living in the garden. We had a bit of a go, then the building work took over…

The rain finally stopped and after a few weeks house-sitting for friends on holiday and sleeping on the living room floor at the in-laws me managed an impressive six weeks under canvas in the back garden.

The builders thought we were crazy, but were very good at leaving things like a pipe for water (operated by spanner), a toilet (open to the elements) and an electric socket so we could boil the kettle or operate the slow cooker (but not at the same time).

We had some particular highlights: the boy’s 8th campfire birthday party (no toilet access for the night but a bucket covered ably); drinking wine from jam jars because we packed all the glasses; and just generally going to sleep when the sun went down with the sound of Nature around you.

Lowlights, on the other hand, were: toilet facilities (for girls in particular), washing (people and clothes) and there are only so many variations on slow cooker food that one family can possibly enjoy (crunchy rice a particular favourite).

Building work

We’re pleased with the results…but just looking forward to getting back to the garden.

Him and Her x

PS. We’ll add some posts from garden adventures soon

Willow cottage gardeners are pleased to annouce the arrival of our first red tomato!

This rainy weather has been upsetting the greenhouse. We are finding that this year growth seems to be slow and spindly. Despite this we are pleased to announce the arrival of our first red tomato!

This is a plum variety called Roma. We are very proud parents and hope to have many more to follow this one.

The greenhouse looks very different to this time last year.

I feel that I am still waiting for it to grow. The tomato plants are covered in flowers but look very ‘thin’ despite a weekly feed. Any suggestions from fellow gardeners on why this is?

Maybe it is these ‘organic’ grow bags, or the cool temperatures or something else.

I am sad to say that my cucumbers died. They were looking so good and then they were attacked by black fly. I thought I would spray them with some soap mix. I must have mixed it up too strong as the next day they were past recovery. I have managed to source a couple more plants that I will put in and watch what happens. It is sad to see empty grow bag space…

Her x

Beautiful berries – raspberries, strawberries, blackcurrants, red currants and dessert gooseberries.

The berry patch looks like a jungle; all the rain has produced loads of lush green growth that has tangled together. The fruitcage looks like it may fall down at any moment, but  it is doing its job. The birds seem to be leaving the berries alone and despite the weather the berries  are ripening.

Picking them is not for the faint hearted as you really do need to fight your way in. During a break in the rain this afternoon, I braved the jungle and was rewarded with a fine selection of produce!

There are still many un-ripened berries on the bushes with no sign of any blueberries yet. I picked a few from each bush but the glut has still to appear.

I think the first berry crop needs to be eaten as it is, fresh and unaltered. Others I will jam, freeze, stew and jelly but these I think will just be enjoyed in the pure form – yummy! I love the taste of fresh summer berries and hope this harvest will be the first of many more.

Can you spot the glimmer of berries hidden in the bushy, wild and overgrown fruit cage?

The only pests we have are slugs! They have been having a wonderful  munch on my strawberries that I having lovingly tended all spring.  The straw surrounding them is very soggy, probably providing a cosy home for slugs and snails. Hubby suggested a beer trap – I think I will give it a try!

Her x

First garden grown meal of the year – homemade minestrone and fresh stawberries (not together)!

The garden is soggy but productive. We have not spent as much time out there as we would want to; the rain has been horrid and the packing has kept us busy. I thought I would have a wander down the garden this week to see what I could find.

I was delighted to pick the following selection of lovely garden yummyness.

If you look carefully you may spot courgettes, baby carrots, celery, fennel, spinach, purple sprouting broccoli, new potatoes and spring onions.

This all inspired me to turn it into a hearty minestrone soup.

I only added some tinned tomatoes, chorizo (to provide a depth of flavour), ready cooked leftover pasta and some stock. The result was delicious and is always a favourite in our house. It’s never the same twice and is a great way of using up a vast selection of pickings.

This is even better the next day, so we make plenty!

To top it all, as I was picking the spinach I noticed a glimmer of red in the fruit cage, could it be? Yes, we have our first ripe strawberries!

The other berries were not quite ripe but these tasted great as they were.

Her x