Pay back . . . . .

For the glorious, unseasonably, hot weather in May.  It is now hammering down with rain.  it is much needed for the ground as there is very little moisture in the soil, but it is pretty miserable outside.  The poor old horse has had to stop out in the wet and wind tonight as GOS is in the process of laying a new concrete floor in her stable.  he is having to do this section at a time using our 30 year old concrete mixer.   The floor is cobble stones currently and these have lifted in a lot of places leaving large holes in the surface.  It makes it extremely difficult to muck out.  Anyway in a few days we will be able to use the stable again.  She’ll just have to rough it for a couple of nights as it promises to be wet for a few more days.

The warm dry has been great for keeping up with the lawn cutting, but this wet is going to test us!

Although with it being so wet I did take the opportunity to do some planting.  I have been away a bit as you know and have a got a  bit behind with the garden.  I nipped down to the garden centre first thing after breakfast and purchased 3 butternut squash plants,  a cucumber, an aubergine and an outdoor tomato plant; all of which I want to try outside this year.  These were duly planted along with my runner bean row.  I had managed to prepare a manure trench for these on Saturday.   As long as the slugs don’t get their teeth into my plants we should be well away!


Heralds of summer

I have been following a fellow blogger – jeanmakayart : “Drawn In”  – who often includes art “lessons” on her page.  She does some marvelous illustrations.  Recently she explained how she often uses a grid system of illustration  and suggested people try it – so I thought I would give it a go and I am pretty pleased with the result.

I have resolved to do one of these at the start of each month to give a flavour of what is happening at this time of year. . . . .  above depicts . . . .

“Redstart” which are back in the garden, which is fabulous.  We haven’t knowing had them here for a couple of years.  They are quite shy summer visitors, but very striking in appearance if you catch a glimpse of a male redstart.   About the size of a robin, with a really bright chestnut red breast and under carriage, black face with a bold white flash above the eye.  There has been one flitting about regularly between GOS’ golf patch in the garden, the hawthorn hedge and the front paddock.

Although its is June the hedge rows are absolutely thick with hawthorn or “may blossom” as we call it, though it will be starting to drop its petals following today’s battering by the weather.  In this part of the world it generally comes out latish May.  It does not however give off the most pleasant of smells rather a “stale” sort of odour.  When I  was a child it was always considered very unlucky to bring may blossom into the house; that it invites death, but I haven’t heard anyone say that for years.

The foxgloves are also coming into their own.  I did have some white ones in the garden, but gradually they seem to have reverted to the pink of the wild ones.

On warm evenings too, although they are called “Maybugs”, we still hear the drone of the occasional cockchafer.  After dark they will often startle me crashing, disorientatedly into the lit windows of the house.

What we also have a lot of this year around the garden, as I may have mentioned before, is rabbits.  We have not had many for a long time.  I think this has been a lot to do with having a very active cat.  But now she is twelve or thirteen and has become quite sedentary  over this last winter .  However, she has livened up a bit in this recent warm weather and has  been out hunting .  Witnessed by the rabbit she dragged back into the porch the other morning.  Yowling pitifully;  pleading to bring it into the house.  No way! Eventually,  she took it off elsewhere presumably to eat it.

Anyway, best go and push her outside now for a little bit – she won’t want to go outside in the wet. . .   She can come back in for bed then  a bit later.  In her dotage she is allowed to stay in the kitchen at night on a cushion.  If she is let loose in the rest of the house at night she prowls round seeing whose bed she can curl up on.  If the bedroom door is shut she will keep knocking at it until the occupant of the rooms gives in and opens the door.  She seems to be quite happy on her cushion in the warm though.  . . .





Categories: Animals, Botanical, Nature, Uncategorized, Watercolour

“Scorchio”. . . . . .


Map showing our route and some of the highlights along the way

Another week of ups and downs.  Wonderful, unseasonably, hot weather for a UK May.  Some days it has been as much as 25-27 centigrade;  where I think the usual average is 15-16.  I have been away for three days on,  what has become an annual pilgrimage with “horsey” friends.  We undertake approximately a 70/80 mile loop around the Black Mountains, which straddle the English Welsh border.  If anything it was a little too warm for the horses who still have some winter coat and we cut out the long canters on the way home.   It was particularly hot on the return journey last Wednesday with the warm sun reflected off the south-west facing slope of Wern Fawr as we traversed across the mountain on the final steep descent.

We use a wonderful B&B for 2 nights and stable the horses a little way away and it usually works very well.  Unfortunately, this time someone had been through and left open a normally closed road side gate and the horses went AWOL out of a lush field of grass and after a very hot 20 mile hack!  As half the party arrived at the pub for supper we were met by “Malcolm” who shouted that someone had seen seven horses making there way along the road heading for Abergavenny.  Four of us, hardly dressed for the occasion,  raced up the road with Malcolm.  Luckily a passing motorist had managed to turn two or three of the horses whilst the others had slowed, and as they headed towards us I manged to catch my mare and slip the strap of my shoulder handbag round her neck to lead her back to her field.  Another friend did the same with her horse and a couple more of the escapees trotted on to follow their “friends”.  We got them back to the field and double tied the gate!   The building line of cars were all very patient thank goodness!  The rest of the party turned up at the pub five minutes later blissfully unaware of the what had been going on.  Also by the time they arrived bar talk had increased the escapees to numbering a dozen!

But then all our excitement the following morning was tempered by the awful happening in Manchester, which was by then all over the breakfast news.  Oh dear. . . .  I can hardly imagine what those families involved are going through. . . . .  Enough said tonight . . . .


Categories: Animals, Botanical, geography, Nature, Uncategorized, Watercolour

Working holiday . . . .

I  have  just come home having had 3 days on a bird sketching holiday in the Cotswolds.  The part of the UK where I spent my childhood and somewhere I have not been back to for a very long time.  Strange to return as a “tripper”.

Our group of students had intense tutorials in the morning, under the guidance of a brilliant wildlife artist. We spent the afternoons with her in various locations – a bird zoo,  falconery centre then lastly Slimbridge Wetlands centre “trying” to sketch from life. Extremely hard, as the birds are constantly bobbing about!  A challenging few days in that respect.

Great excitement all round the morning I left. Thieves had used a JCB to prise the cash machine out of the front of the bank in the village high street in the night; leaving a trail of devastation behind and the locals with a lot to talk about.bw

I will write more in a bit.  The family have just arrived for a few days and things are a little bit hectic ……

Categories: Nature, Uncategorized, Watercolour

Little lamb . . . . .


Welsh Mountain Ewe

Well, lambing is in full swing now and we are both shattered.  I don’t think I’ll be writing much tonight.  This getting up in the night to pull lambs,  and fiddling around with newborns,   and all that it entails is a bit kn. . . .ing.  The latest lamb born was at about 3 am this morning and  it couldn’t  stand for ages.  It seems to have got going now this evening.  We milked the ewe and bottle fed the baby  the first time so it got some colostrum and it is up on its feet now trying to suck.  Another ewe that was in labour “stole” a lamb from a “first lamber” who just abandoned this “thing” that had appeared out of her:  so in the long run, perhaps that was a good thing.  Getting a ewe to take to a lamb she loathes is hard work.  You have to keep mother and lamb penned up tight for ages and make sure it sucks til she accepts it readily – can take days!



We will just be glad when it is all done with and the sheep are all back out in the fields.

Life has gone by in a bit of a blur this week.  Although I did have a little titter over All Fools Day.  GOS was, initially, so he told me,  taken in by the story in the press of a polar bear being spotted on North Uist.  . . . .  Don’t think he was the only one fooled. . . .

Categories: Uncategorized

Mary had a little lamb. . . . .

Or rather,  (Hoorah) we have had the first lamb  ( 6 days old) and our granddaughter has named her “Mary”.



All is well now, but her mother, who is an elderly ewe, retained the afterbirth and was quite poorly for a few days.  Antibiotics and other meds and she is fine now and both are on the drive amongst the daffs for a few days so we can keep an eye on them.  But little else happening in the maternity unit at present  . . . . . . I expect the other ewes will pick the most inconvenient moment to start “performing  . . .

Categories: Uncategorized

Flowers that bloom in the spring. . . .


Magnolia stellata

The flowers that bloom in the spring,
Tra la,
Breathe promise of merry sunshine —
As we merrily dance and we sing,
Tra la,
We welcome the hope that they bring,
Tra la,
Of a summer of roses and wine,
Of a summer of roses and wine.
And that’s what we mean when we say that a thing
Is welcome as flowers that bloom in the spring.
Tra la la la la,
Tra la la la la,
The flowers that bloom in the spring.

(from the MIKADO)


Categories: Uncategorized

Ups and downs . . . . .

It has been a week of highs and lows.  Sunshine and a promise of summer and days (as today ) of heavy rain.  The forecasters are talking about a sprinkle of snow on Wednesday.  Last Wednesday was glorious.  I rode out with a friend in the morning ( I am giving her a hand with a newly broken horse). Ella was only “backed” three weeks ago. We are trying to get her to stand nice and still for mounting and “educate” her a bit; let her see a few things. To date, until broken in,  she had never been out of a field . It is really late to start on this training as she is 7 yrs old.  Most horses start to be trained at about 3 years old.  She is a bit of a slow learner!   Steering and brakes non-existent really.  We pottered about on the lanes and tracks near her home in the sunshine and the horses got really warm and sweaty.  So my girl had the afternoon back at home, here in her field, without a rug it was so warm.  However, she was then in her heaviest waterproof rug some two days later!  The only “down” was I managed to clip the lorry on one of said friend’s driveway walls.  There is a narrow walled gateway onto her drive where I have to back off a bridge  into the drive  – needs rather a lot of concentration and unfortunately I got distracted by one of her dogs running loose!!.  Anyway, it isn’t too much damage and GOS thinks he can fix it himself.  One of the skirt panels got knocked and dented.

                                           High:   I spotted the first wood bumblebee lumbering about in the garden this weebeesk.  The magnolia has broken into flower (at least a month early) and the snakeshead fritillera have suddenly appeared. ( Checkaboard petals of pink and burgundy and one clump of white ones.)  I am really pleased these are thriving as it has taken a while to get then established.  The white heather has been a picture but it is just starting to go over.  The season for some plants has really started early.





These mild sunny days the skylarks are soaring above the hill; singing their hearts out.  We are blessed with lots of these little birds.  So evocative of the british countryside, but it’s recent and dramatic population declines now make it a “Red List ” species.



They really lift the spirits, these little birds. (Vaughan Williams “Lark Ascending” – such a beautiful,   descriptive piece of music. . . .)

No lambs have appeared as yet.  The poor old ewes are very uncomfortable and huff  and puff at night when we pop out check on them.  They have been kept in the last three days as they only paddle about on the mud when it I’d as wet as it has been; bleating hungrily as soon as they see me. …

Hope to goodness  to have news of births next week.




Categories: Uncategorized

Time flies. . . . .

I cannot believe another week has gone by already since my last posting.  Before we know it the clocks will be changing again.  Well, at least the weather has improved. We had beautiful warm sunshine today.  The mild winter does seem to have brought some things on in the garden way ahead of time.



My flowering cherry is breaking into blossom and the  brunnera (looks rather like very tall forget-me-not) is flowering.  Neither of these two usually flower here until end of April beginning of May.  The hawthorn hedge one side of the veggie patch is also coming into leaf.  Crazy.


I have broad beans planted in trays (second go at them – the mice lifted the cover of the first lot I planted and ate  all of them, just leaving the shoots).  The new planting has a heavy stone weighing the cover down!  I have put potatoes to “chit” on the attic window sill.  I meant to buy mange tout seed today  when I was in town and completely forgot. (senior moment )  I think I may be struggling to get the veg started off this year as in April I have 4 days away on a painting course and a series of friends and family coming to stay and in  May I am going to be away from home quite a bit.  I think I  will have to concentrate on the easy stuff  that can be left to get on with it  in the veg patch and be a bit neglected.  Anyway, if my planned trips come off I’ll fill you in in due course.

For a while now I have been trying to find an art group or courses locally. I really do not want to travel far especially in the winter.  I did eventually unearth a group who meet quite nearby, but when I enquired the group was over subscribed.  However, low and behold, the organiser remembered me and last week got back in touch to say someone had dropped out of the group and would I like to come along.  So last Friday afternoon I joined for my first session, which was lovely, the other members were so welcoming.  We have a “theme” this term to work with if we want, so that we can participate in an exhibition towards the end of September.  So the theme is ” the local area through the seasons”.  Below is my first effort – from a reference photo and and previous botanical sketches of my own.  Hope you like it . . . . . . .


Sunny day on the canal

I am really looking forward to the next session this Friday.  Only I have been inspired as yet what to tackle next:  unless I do this picture again in another format


Categories: Uncategorized

Endless rain. . . . .

We are really making up for the kind weather in January with a vengeance!  Mud, mud and more mud.  The sheep are due to start to lamb in about 10 days and I can see we will be bringing them in under cover to the buildings early this year.  Normally they are out in the day and in at night to make keeping an eye on them easier, but this wet would hardly do a new born lamb any good at all.  The sheep better stay in the warm and dry for a bit from the end of this week.

It was so wet at the weekend our local “point to point” (horse racing) got cancelled.  The overnight rain on the Thursday before did for racing on the Saturday; the course was water logged.  No hope of getting any vehicles in and out let alone racing.  A very kind neighbour   is allowilambng my horse to graze as small paddock of his; so when we do have a few lambs they will have a nice field to go onto, with a bit of grass, which has not been cut up to a muddy mess with horse hooves.

The frogs seem to appreciate the wet and  mild as all the ditches on the hill are full of frog spawn.  I keep meaning to pop up and get a little bit to put in a bowl for when my granddaughter comes over.  After it is hatched it can go in one of my ditches here in the garden; try and increase my frog population.

The chickens are now at liberty again.  They were extremely confused for a few days and didn’t venture very far when first let out.  They also seemed to be a bit phased as to where they should go at night  as we want them to use the shed for a bit longer until I have purchased a new hen house.  The old henhouse really needs a new water proof roof and a bit of TLC.  The hens have  now come back into lay, which is a blessing.  We had lovely fresh eggs for pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. ( I must say we were quite over indulgent with strawberry pancakes for supper that night !! But they were jolly yummy!  Recipe on the recipe page).


Back outside

Which reminds me must go and shut the poultry up as it is now dark  . .  and the fox has been about. . . .

Categories: Uncategorized

Happy St. David’s day…


To you all

Categories: Uncategorized

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