Tag Archives: poppies

New Phone, Fingers and Flowers

 

Last night Julia went on line and arranged an upgrade for me with our airtime provider. Though you do have to pay for it somewhere along the line, it seems like a free phone and is not too bad.

The problem was that they set the ball rolling by sending me a code in a text. It’s tricky receiving a text on a touch screen phone when the screen is in pieces and stabs you in the fingers when you try to use it. Even when you try to use it carefully.

The new one is bigger than the old one, which seems to be the trend. It is also more complicated. I haven’t finished setting it up yet, but I have managed to fit the screen protector and insert it into the protective case.  Yes, definitely a case of locking the stable door after the horse has bolted.

(Did you know screen protectors come with their own screen protector protectors? I didn’t.)

I have also activated the fingerprint security system. Time will tell if this was a good decision.

Call me a pessimist if you will, but all I can think of at the moment is various ways I could lose my finger, and how I would unlock my phone if that happened.

The photos are from the Mencap garden this morning. There was no group in, and Julia needed someone to hold the other end of the tape measure.

A Treasury of Flowers

I’ve been looking at other blogs with envy this year, particularly Derrick J Knight and Tootlepedal’s Blog.  They have a lot of things in common, including beautiful gardens, great photography and gardening partners – the Head Gardener and Mrs Tootlepedal.

It may be time for a little pep talk with Julia. Nothing major, just point her to a few relevant posts and leave an unspoken suggestion…

That way I hope to avoid being told to do it myself, as I already have lots to do. That TV won’t watch itself and blogging takes time.

Meanwhile, just to show we can grow plants (despite the state of our garden this year) here are a few things from last year at the farm.

 

Poppies and the end of the beginning

The poppy project is starting to take shape. Apart from that, it’s been a strange day – D minus 47, or minus 13 if you count days we will actually meet.

Fortunately the group is taking it well, with a few mutterings about farmers and plenty of discussion about what they are going to replace us with. It’s a little sad to be so easily replaced but that’s just how it is. In another way, I was thinking that it’s good that we have taken them to this point and they feel happy to embark on a new venture.  If this had happened a few years ago I’m sure we would have had more trouble about the change.

We’re not finished yet, as we’re still looking for somewhere to go, though we’re driven by optimism more than reality.

Dave, one of the founders, came to visit. He was working with Julia at the council when his contract came to an end and she decided she was fed up of constantly re-applying for her own job. The rest, as they say, is history. He’s been ill for a while, but is now on the way to recovery. That brightened the day, as the group always likes to see him. We’re going to get Men in Sheds to help repair his old electric wheelchair, which is currently refusing to go in the same direction as the joystick.

It seems like a small enough fault, but in the context of a man who likes to get out and about this represents the very narrow margin between sightseeing on a river bank and being featured in a high profile emergency rescue.

He’s challenged me to a wheelchair race when he gets it fixed, so watch this space.

Vicki brought the poppies in from the Barnstone Brownies, so the display is looking good. She’s really put a lot of effort into this, with making poppies and doing research – shame we won’t be able to build on it for next year. I’m thinking of burying the poppies after we’ve used them. It will be both an artistic statement, and an ancient military tactic: there is so much salt in them that the new tenants, with their promised landscaping, may find there is a permanent bald patch where little will grow.

We’ve also been doing a bit of packing, some Christmas planning, and rehearsing the Christmas entertainment. That might be better expressed as Christmas “entertainment” as a bit of Bollywood style belly dancing, a carol (yet to be decided) and a rendition of I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts is going to have an uncertain effect on the audience.

Finally, we have a picture of me wearing a hat from the lost property. According to Julia I look like the oldest of the Lost Boys. I’m not sure how to take that. If it’s a reference to Peter Pan it’s probably OK, but if it’s a reference to the film I’m not so keen.

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The Oldest Lost Boy

Pride, a fall and more gingerbread

I was very pleased with myself last week after the gingerbread baking session.

Obviously I should have known better, pride going before a fall, and all that. Or, Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18) for those of you who prefer your quotes accurate.

To put it another way, whilst having a second go to make sure the recipe works, I had a bit of a problem and the biscuits were not as good this time. I won’t bore you with details, but I will have a bit of a rethink.

Then I tried making Grantham Gingerbread. They are a traditional biscuit, first produced by accident in 1740, and not really like a gingerbread at all, being light in colour and sweet in taste, with not much ginger flavour. That will be something that changes before the next batch.

Mine turned out looking suitably cracked, but rather flat, at which point I remembered that I should have used self-raising flour rather than using the plain flour I had just used in the gingerbread men.

Even so, some had risen and had honeycomb centres, so they weren’t too bad.

Based on a post in Pies and Prejudice (a fine food blog, though modesty prevents me mentioning who writes it) I had an unusual salad with my lunch today – nasturtium leaves and flowers, feral rocket and a cultivated sorrel leaf.

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Foraged nasturtium salad

Julia and the girls started to assemble the poppy project ready for November, using the poppies made by using the bases of plastic bottles.

We had enquiries about Men in Sheds, an educational visit for next spring, renting the room, apple pressing and a forthcoming visit (the teacher wants to know what we have planned – I’m not sure she is expecting the answer “nothing” so I’d better get thinking).

At the end of the day, we had unexpected visitors, which was pleasant, and gave me a chance to offload some biscuits.

That’s about it.

I’ll be going soon, just need to get down on my hands and knees to find out what is jamming the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet.

There’s always something…

 

 

 

The Goat Escape (again)

First things first – we arrived today with a list of things to do, and the first thing we saw was a massed escape of goats. They had clearly been peckish, and if there’s one thing a goat likes it’s some nice twigs. Things weren’t helped when a flat battery allowed them to climb over the so-called electric fence.

They have much more character than sheep. It’s just a shame that they express this character in making such determined bids for freedom.

It was a busy day yesterday – another 100 salt dough shapes ready for Flintham Show, an improved Wheatsheaf loaf, and an element of panic as we realise there is not enough time. That, of course, is not unusual: there never is enough time.

As you can see, the poppies are coming along nicely, though they do take a lot more salt dough. For one thing, they are bigger than many of the shapes we use, and for another, they need to be thicker to pick up the detail.

The thickness isn’t a problem when you are making biscuits, but when you have to glue them to a stalk it can be tricky, as experience shows they can overbalance or pull themselves of the stalks. I’ve invested in better glue this time!

We had a look in the mobile bread oven and found it was full of cobwebs and a small barbecue.  Yes, it was a surprise to me too.

One thing we haven’t done is test the oven or dry any wood. That’s because the farmer doesn’t believe in planning and hates using wood to check things are working. Farmers hate spending money, even if, as in this case, it does grow on trees.

When it all goes wrong tomorrow it will be my fault.

Do you know how many colloquial expressions there are for “goes wrong” in the English language? More to the point, do you know how many of them are suitable for use in polite conversation?

 

The Care Farm Experience

 

It’s been a lazy day today. I’ve tried to be enthusiastic but I didn’t get back from Leeds until 1am this morning and when I tried to go to sleep all I could see was motorway traffic on the back of my eyelids. It was around 3am before I got to sleep, then I woke up at 5…

It wasn’t the best of starts.

At least I know I have done my duty as a father (the one that involves passing cash across and acting as a taxi driver, rather than the bit where you impart moral education and the Laws of Rugby).To make things worse I didn’t write a list of jobs to do, which always leads to wasted time.

It was a strange day for butterflies. We had the usual suspects (whites and small tortoiseshells) but managed a Painted Lady, Red Admiral and Comma. We haven’t seen a Comma or Red Admiral for months.

Julia has been industrious, trying out crafts for Flintham Ploughing Match. She has decided, after a somewhat fraught session, that straw weaving won’t make the cut – it just takes too much time and concentration. We will just take some corn dollies and information sheets.

We have had to revert to using paper art straws because modern wheat straw just isn’t long enough. In 1815 the Brigade of Guards concealed themselves in a field of wheat before leaping out to rout the advancing French. If they’d tried that in 2015 it would not have been so much of a surprise.

 

I’ve finished the McDonald’s Breakfast post on Pies and Prejudice, got the recipes together for the scone post I’m planning and sorted the cutters ready for making the saltdough poppies (part of the Big Autumn Project).

Finally we had home made blackberry jam and, after washing the outside of the jars (which seemed to have got very sticky in the filling process), divided last week’s jam between the group. It was a microwavable recipe – very quick and easy. It produces a slightly soft jam that tastes very fruity.

We spread it on some crackers left over from butter making. Everyone seemed to like it, including a few late summer wasps that were cruising around up to no good.

Currently we are waiting for the taxi. It’s twenty five minutes late already and we’ve been told it will be at least another 20 minutes. The original car, it seems, has broken down and they have been having trouble with the phones, because they always lose reception out here (though strangely enough, I don’t.)

They have several breakdowns every year and never seem to have phones that work.

I detect a slightly unlikely excuse.

I also detect the sort of service you get when the council puts a service out to the lowest bidder.

 

 

The Poppy Fields

On the way back from Scarborough on Friday we passed a couple of fields full of poppies. They may have been growing organic grain, or they may just have forgotten to spray. I don’t suppose it matters in the end, because it was the poppies, not the husbandry system that I was interested in.

I’ve been looking for some good shots of poppies for a month or so now, since deciding on the Big Autumn Project. From that you may deduce that we are going to be doing something on poppies.

Did you know that  poppy seed can lay dormant for over 50 years? Some people go as far as to claim 80 or 90 years and it’s recently become popular to suggest they may be able to lay dormant for 100 years. I can believe that; there isn’t a lot of difference between 80, 90 and 100 years. Of course, the figure of 100 years lines up nicely with the centenary of the Great War, and this may have more to do with the 100 year figure than any botanical fact.

Despite this suspicion it’s interesting to think that poppies may be germinating now that were laid down as seeds whilst the war was still on.

Anyway, here are some photographs. The light was just going and the wind was getting up, so they aren’t brilliant, but at least the Big Autumn Project will have some photographs to support it. Julia has promised to do a bit of messing about with the photos – they won’t look sharper but they will end up looking brighter.