Saturday, 30 May 2009

Hooli's back

He's such a clever dog, but just a bit camera shy.

Friday, 29 May 2009

Racing Dolphins

I only just got around to copying video from my Flip Video to my computer. This was filmed when we were on a boat trip in La Gomera in the Canary Islands. We saw loads of dolphins, and it's almost as if they were racing the boat we were on.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Burnt Offerings

I decided to make some chocolate chip cookies. I didn't use chocolate chips because I have some nice organic dark chocolate bars. So I chopped one of those up and used them in my standard chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Then I was too lazy to measure out spoonfuls of dough, and decided to make chocolate chip cookie bars instead. Since the recipe said not to grease the pan, I didn't. I then stuck the pan in the oven, and went out to do some gardening while it cooked.

The wind was blowing, and making a racket as it ruffled all the leaves in the trees, so I didn't hear the oven timer when it went off. By the time I remembered and went to look, the cookie was burnt all around the edges.

I decided this wasn't too much of a problem because I could cut the edges off when I cut it up into bars.

Easier said than done: since I didn't grease the pan the whole thing was stuck like glue. I did manage to cut out and scrape out about 20 cookie bars, and the rest was burn edges and crumbs which I have put into a plastic tub, and which I will nibble on while I have a cup of tea (just so I don't waste any).

It may not look very pretty, but it tastes quite good, if slightly burnt and crumbly.

You have to feel sorry for me.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Hooli again and a walk in the woods

Following on from yesterday's post about Hooli finding the rubber squeeky santa turkey, he was so pleased with himself that he slept with it by his side all night, and picked it up again first thing in the morning. So the house was filled with thumps interspersed with squeeks from the turkey as Hooli charged around with it in his mouth.

When I was getting ready to take him for a walk, everything went silent. Next time I checked, the turkey was gone. It's nowhere to be found. When I ask him where it is, he looks at me as if to say: "Turkey? What turkey?". I think he may have buried it again.

We went for a walk in the woods....

A field full of buttercups.

A rather elegant bug.
A molehill?

The path in the wood was almost overrun by wildflowers.

Like a low cloud.

And leaving the woods, I couldn't see the path out.
Till Hooli came back and showed me the way.

When we first came into the wood, there were three muntjac deer on the path ahead.
Two ran away before I could get my camera out.
If you click on the picture above you should be able to see the remaining deer a bit more clearly.
As we walked up the path we could hear loud barking sounds, which seemed to echo through the woods.
It was a little eerie.
When I got home I looked up the deer online.
They're the smallest deer in the UK and are known as the barking deer.
Click on this link to hear what it sounded like.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Gorgeous Day

It's been a gorgeous day here with wall to wall sunshine. In between washing and hanging out laundry, I read for a bit in the garden, and then I started to do some gardening.

Last year was a bit of a disaster in my vegetable patch, because even though I'd covered my vegetables with fleece or netting, I woke up one morning to find that all my salad plants had been decimated overnight by marauding slugs and snails.

I read recently that coffee grounds left around the salad patch are a good barrier for slugs, so I've been saving them up, and today I planted some lettuce seeds in a square area and surrounded it with coffee grounds. Unfortunately I ran out before the square was closed, but I think I have enough time, before the seedlings come up, to drink enough coffee to complete the square.

I've outlined the shape of the square, you can just barely see the coffee grounds, and the green line shows where I started and the red arrow shows where I ran out.

I hope this works, because I got very annoyed last year when I lost my whole crop.

I'm looking after Hooli this weekend and I got quite cross with him because he was digging near the boundary fence. I told him to stop, he'd pause, then start digging again, and just when I was ready to really yell at him, he pulled out a squeeky rubber turkey dressed in a santa costume.

He was so pleased with himself, he kept making it squeek.

I once read that squirrels bury nuts all through the summer and autumn, for use in the winter, and then can't remember where they buried them. Well I reckon Hooli must have buried that turkey at Christmas time, and remembered it all these months later. Does that make him smarter than a squirrel?

Friday, 22 May 2009

I do get some funny emails 1

The first celebrity to die of swine flu......

.....and we all know who gave it to him.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Christmas Steps

I was in Bristol recently and took a walk down St. Michael's Hill. Having driven up and down the hill several times before, I hadn't realised quite how steep it was until I walked it.

After reaching the bottom of the hill, I saw this across the road...

Naturally I was intrigued and had to see more, so on the way back, I had a closer look.

These two pictures were taken looking up, and then down, from the bottom of the first flight of steps.

Of course I had to Google it, and there's a nice article on the BBC Bristol website. According to the plaque on the right hand side of the street above "This streete was steppered done and finished 1669". You can see some close-ups and the full wording here .
Incidentally, I didn't walk back up St. Michael's Hill - I took a taxi. It just looked too much like hard work.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

More weeds...

I have too many dandelions in my garden, and they're not easy to pull out. They have such long twisty roots, which invariably break and regenerate. But according to various books and websites it seems that every part of this plant is edible and very nutritious.

The leaves and roots can be made into a gentle diuretic tea. The leaves can also be used in salad, fried, boiled or even wrapped around cheese. The roots can be eaten raw or cooked, or can be roasted and ground and used as a coffee substitute. The flowers can be added to salad, fried in batter, or made into wine. Even the seeds can be sprouted and eaten.

So why do we pull them up and mutter and curse about them? I guess it's because we can't control where they grow.

I took pictures of the seed head just for the fun of it. Here is a sample of three photos....

I hope it's given the impression of the seeds with their parachutes blowing away from the main plant.
Time to confess: I cheated and placed the seed head on a glass table top, and then knocked a few seeds off and spread them around to look as if they'd blown away. Did my trick work?
By the way, Dandelion is from the french dent de lion which means lion's tooth, because the leaves have a ragged tooth shape.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Vicious Stinging Nettles

It's that time of year when I do battle with stinging nettles. They creep into my garden, hiding among the flowers and fruit, and seem to suddenly appear out of nowhere, fully grown, and towering over everything else.

The other day I set to work pulling up a couple of clumps that had grown out of their hiding place in two quince bushes that grow against a fence in my garden. Being an old hand at dealing with this perrenial weed, I wore long thick gardening gloves and started pulling. As well as the danger of being stung, the quince bushes are quite thorny, so I was very careful.

You can see above that they've just popped up through the quince, but by the time I see them they're pretty big and very vicious.
Here is a closeup of one of the leaves. Those fine hairs on the leaves and on the stems are what cause all the pain.
Despite taking very good care, I still got an extremely nasty sting on my arm just above the edge of the gardening gloves. I pulled too hard, too fast and too low down the stem, and the top of the plant whiplashed onto my bare arm. Ouch!

I may have been wounded, but look where the nettles ended up. Score so far: 1-1
Apparently they make a good and nourishing soup, but it would take a huge leap of faith for me to even try it.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Scented breeze

The village smells lovely today. I can't exactly identify the scents, but I would guess at blossoms and wildflowers and green growing things. Every now and then there's a change in the wind and it carries a hint of woodsmoke. It isn't a sunny day, but it's light and it's breezy. Really nice if you're out walking.