Sunday, 28 September 2008
A perfect weekend.
The weekend was as beautiful as promised. Sunshine from morning through to dusk meant two days spent in the garden trying to get it back under some sort of control after pretty much ignoring it for the last two summers. I am something of a gardening addict and love my time spent pottering, weeding, pruning, blitzing...whatever is needed I pretty much enjoy. It is a long-held addiction which began as a little girl following my Dad around his veg plot and dead-heading marigolds into a bucket for my lovely Grandad, the vibrant orange petals leaving a gungy mess on my fingers which fascinated me even then.
Our own garden is fairly large and has the end part fenced off for the hens. At the moment we are down to one, the other three having succombed to a fox attack and old age (probably died of shock bless her) and, of course, the survivor is once again a dear little Gold Line hen called Discovery - I won't go into the reasons behind this odd name yet again, but suffice it to say that this hen sleeps in our sloe tree and has always managed to escape the fox where other less intelligent hens have failed miserably. We have decided this week we shall replace the missing three with some more Gold Lines as they are such a lovely breed and genuinely enjoy human company, following us around as we weed and running up to us when we come through the back door to be stroked. My eldest son once taught one to fly across the pen and land on his shoulder; a dubious thing to achieve but very funny. Hopefully the new ones will be as much fun.
The rest of the garden needed a serious re-think and I was called in for one of my favourite jobs of re-designing. I had to lift all the plants, of which there are literally hundreds, re-shape some beds and remove others to enable a new grass area to be seeded when the heat goes out of the weather a little. We had gradually lost much of our grass to plants over the years and while this was lovely in its own way, it meant that Isabella really had nowhere to play that was toddler-friendly, though the front garden is perfect in this respect and we do use it a lot. I wanted her to be able to join me in my gardening without worrying about her safety and so the garden once more will have grass. It will be lovely to see the children camping out there again next summer and sitting round the camp fire late into the night.
So, as I chopped and dug and levelled with Lucy helping out- when she could stop herself scoffing blackberries and nasturtium flowers - Mr Dave and Elias built a new hen house to replace our huge one which we built together for our very first hens many years ago. This was also due an overhaul as the blasted birds pt using it as a means to escape, launching themselves onto the roof and then walking over the top of the fence to plop down the other side. It was like watching Chicken Run, but no more will they munch my plants and devour my seedlings. The new house is smaller, lower of roof and made from scrap wood to please me (Dave would much rather get wood of the right size than cobble together, but it is so cute in a higgeldy-piggeldy way and I love it).
The weekend ended with a roaring camp fire to reduce the enormous mountains my clearance had produced. The ducks watched bemused as always, Discovery sat down as close to us as she could bear (it really was roaring and thus swelteringly hot) and I sipped my Homemade Something as I stoked the flames. The Homemade Something? I have various demi-johns full of different coloured liquids in our porch. Some, such as this one, are 7-8 years old and the labels have long since gone so I have no idea what they are. Generally they are nothing to write home about and I recork them to see if another year will improve the situation. Dave would quite merrily bin them, but he is learning as this year two of them have struck gold. One tastes like an Amontillado sherry - dry, walnutty and wonderful poured over ice. The other is just gorgeous - more like a liqueur with a rich, velvety feel and that wonderful warmth as it fills your mouth. I think it either a plum or rhubarb or possibly a honeysuckle wine, though less likely the latter. Anyway it is delicious and I quie merrily sipped away until I was quite chilled out. The perfect end to a perfect weekend.
Cheers all xx
P.S. I feel obliged to mention (for those who may be worried) that we rarely have a fox attack and we do shut the majority of the girls up at night. Unfortunately, nature is red in tooth and all that, and will always win some of the battles.