Sunday 25 October 2015

Summing up Sunday 25th

A busy week full of autumnal events.
It always seems odd that the mulberry is the last to get leaves and the first to loose them and it's no different this year. The  shower of yellow dinner plate sized leaves has been going on for a week or so and without a frost and an avalanche of leaves  the steady trickle will continue. Joyce visited to swing whilst J did the sweeping up...

The biggest event of the week was the arrival of Jacob, a visiting shetland ram, last weekend. He's gradually been accepted by our rather flighty group of girls. Initially Cleo and Bunty bossed him about but they are now being a little more accepting of him and he's showing the right kind of interest in them, so we hope for the patter of tiny feet at Easter. However, he seems to be encouraging bad behaviour, and on the  first very rainy autumnal day they wickedly knocked down the mollytunnel defences and ate through the plastic to get into a nice dry space with hay!

The second autumnal event was an amazing apple day in cambridge botanic gardens visited by a and t . We went in with a mission to try and identify some varieties for the end of our field and found 7 great ones to bring home to the south west for a bit more of a trial. We realise we are going to have to do a bit more of a search in South west pomonas ( fruit encyclopaedias for areas ...) but it was a good start.

The apple tasting tables in full flow

Autumnal event number 3 is the start of the grand pickle and chutney preserving which starts now and will go on, traditionally in this house anyway, to Boxing Day when the final pumpkin will be pickled. T in cambridge has been making quince cheese and setting it in lovely containers with wax seals, and here we have been using up all the green tomatoes in chutney before blight takes them over. 

Sunday 18 October 2015

Summing Up Sunday 18th October

What's been happening at 2CC this week?


Jacob, our stud ram, has arrived! He comes from Shepton Mallet and is staying for six weeks (which is two cycles for the rams). He's only five months old, so we'll see how he gets on. (Best quote: 'he has some very large, er, apparatus at the back!' - E)

Here's where he came from:

Two lovely sheep-y women asked lots of proper questions about pedigrees etc. which made A and J realise they never got our flock's in the first place. Oops. Jacob's paternal side are all named after people from the bible (Jacob), and his maternal side are all named for foodstuff. (Jacob's Cream Crackers)

The ladies are getting used to him, and he ate from the trough with them for the first time this afternoon.

What else?
  • A and J went to a salsa party which involved a lesson followed by a party. Sounded like it was fun!
  • Reading - J on 'The Gracekeepers', A reading poetry, E moving between 'The Virgin Suicides', 'Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe', and Michael Morpurgo's 'War Horse.' Good feedback all round!
  • Disappointment at the Man Booker announcement; E must have missed something. Have to admit, it's still not that enticing to get through that many pages for something that sounds intrinsically nasty...
  • Popoki is growing! She's not really a kitten any more, more like a small-cat. Spayed and microchipped on Monday! (You wouldn't have known she'd been under a GA, starting from Monday afternoon, she has been the most manic we've ever seen her!)
  • A brief felting 'workshop' with a neighbour that wasn't entirely successful... At least A managed to get something presentable! The herd wick's fleece didn't felt easily at all, as we had been promised. And alpaca wool definitely needs quite a lot of sheep's wool with it to get the lanolin. Oh well, it's a learning process.
  • A and J went garden centre-ing (along with grocery shopping) and got some colour for the winter months ahead - wall flowers, cyclamen, pansies and pinks.
  • E finished stitching together her wooly project, so just a border to go. Watch this space...
5/15 on The Guardian Quiz. A mediocre score. We should have stuck with our first thought - the Chancellor of the Exchequer is the Master of the Mint!

Happy Sunday!

Tuesday 13 October 2015

Man Booker 2015

This is Us reading The Man Booker 2015.


Not really that impressed with the six finalists, if we're honest, and we didn't manage to read all of them, even between all of us. Anyway, here they are:

A Brief History of Seven Killings: well, E tried this one for 50 pages (as said before) and couldn't continue. The pidgin or Patois dialect was too difficult to decipher, and the characters were too extensive - even in 50 pages! Apparently, we're introduced to 75 different characters within the first 50-100 pages, so at least I doesn't feel quite so stupid! Still, obviously missing something here, as there must be something good in it for the nomination!

Satin Island: A tried it, and it was basically unintelligible. Another non starter.

The Fishermen:

The Year of the Runaways: E has read it, and A is partway through. Pretty good novel - darting between three men emigrated from India, and one woman, and their struggles there, and their pasts trials before moving. Quite a heavy read, but ultimately pretty good. Would have been more enjoyable with more of their lives in Britain, as it felt more interesting, but there needs to be a balance. A fairly good read.

A Spool of Blue Thread: as said before, a fantastic read. Just wonderful. In good hands from the offing. Recommend to anyone. However, it won't win as the judges look for something ground breaking and innovative in terms of structure or point-of-view etc, and this isn't it. What happened to just a Good Read? All the other titles are pretty horrific in their own ways and this isn't but was so compelling, and there's only so many awful things one can read. The world itself is bad enough.

A Little Life: E read this (not so little at 720 pages) one. Well, it is fantastically written, there's no doubt about it. You are completely inside the characters' (one in particular) heads, and feel with them. It's deftly constructed, has believable characters and a compelling storyline.
I would not recommend this to anyone. Anyone. If you suffer/have suffered with any of the myriad difficulties explored, it is triggering, and a nightmare to read. Literally: I am dreaming about it. 'Impossible to put down... and impossible to forget...' I guess I agree with this review, but please don't read it. Apparently I was advised not to read it, but I only had this communicated to me two thirds of the way through the novel. I would have heeded the advice, and I pass it on wholeheartedly. Please don't read it.

Hanya Yanagihara (A Little Life) is predicted to win, according to 'The Bookies.' I hope it doesn't. I don't want anyone else to be exposed to it.

But we shall see!

Sunday 11 October 2015

Summing up Sunday 11th October 2015

Main event of the week: The Lottie Project (see earlier post) which raised £145! (yay!)

CB: E has finished sewing in ends!

A and E went to the North Somerset Butterfly House, amazingly warm and very beautiful butterflies. One landed and travelled on E for most of the way around.

A finished and sent an amazingly odd sewing stand for k s birthday - devilishly hard to make as I couldn't get my head around the 3d nature of the whole thing and right up to the very last minute I wasn't sure it would actually work.

A went out to Hugh F-W's Canteen in Bristol for a surprise birthday lunch for d, a very old friend indeed. It's interesting how friendships last phases of life and our lives do seem to have quietly woven in and around each other's careers,families and book-reading.

J cut wood until the chainsaw gave out,

J and E are currently watching a very amusing Noel Coward farce "Relative Values".

There was an incredible sunset this evening, one would have thought it an improbable backdrop if seen in a film.

Bananagrams of the week: squally, extant, fatwa, cleat, dally, agony.

Terrible Guardian Quiz - can't even remember!

Friday 9 October 2015

The Lottie Project

I know 'The Lottie Project' is a (very good) book by Jacqueline Wilson, but this was something different. Some of our friend's own an allotment that allows people with mental health problems to access growing and the outdoors. Recently, they've got planning permission to have a polytunnel - hurray!

So, to buy the polytunnel they need to raise a bit of money - what better way than a garden sale? In true lucky-British fashion, the weather was be-a-utiful yesterday, which was such a relief (there wasn't really a contingency plan for rain...) And it was a great turnout, despite our worries.

Look how many people came
The allotment was bedecked in finery with beautiful bunting.

And all the things for sale... Wow! So many generous people. One very generous person (who isn't even involved in the organisation) donated a huge amount of cakes. Thank you so much! We were all very, very touched by the magnanimous gift. She must've been baking all day!

Coffee and walnut cake. There were also FOUR lemon drizzle cakes, and a huge batch each of almond and cherry, and chocolate sour cream muffins! Wow! Thank you so much.
MJ (whose sale it was) planted out some wonderful wellies! It's cat grass in the Hello Kitty Boots.

She also made the lovely herb garden markers. Other things on the table: A and E's seed packets (saved from the garden), MJ's tea light holders, A's lovely willow bird feeders, and some stones painted by people from 4 in 1, a mental health charity.

Our painted charm stones...

Pickles and relishes...

Pickled eggs, beetroot and onion relish, and marmalade.

Teasels transplanted from the garden...

And my lovely (if I do say so myself) bee and ladybird noughts and crosses boards. Four of them all sold! The stones were collected from Clevedon beech, painted in acrylics, varnished, wood chain-sawed by Joe, then varnished, and then the willow grid marked out.

And here's a glimpse of MJ with her stall.

Really successful sale, and fingers crossed enough has been raised! Watch this space.

Sunday 4 October 2015

Summing up Sunday 5th October

What we've been up to: 
First ever pub quiz for the Blaxter Tristrams - 66/100 for J and E's team, and 71/100 for A on a rather odd rival team... Think we came about 8th or 9th. Not our finest hour, but we knew some odd ones - for some bizarre reason E knows the real first name of Tyger Woods! 

First and last visit to Chew Valley Sailing club. Sadly not enough wind to do anything at all. There has been mention of an extra session next week to make up for the disappointment, so watch this space...

Last of the courgettes picked, garden going over. Apples dropping like crazy. Still rudbeckia and sunflowers going strong.

First week of term for A, first lecture to the new first years. Busy times.

First (of hopefully two!) celebrations for Hugo round the corner. Small boys, pizza, cake and sparklers. Lots of laughs.

Last week of the garden blog without Orchard S, as she has returned from her European travels. Two beautiful little needle felted presents of a sweet bunny rabbit and some acorns.

Last vaccine for little Popoki... After spaying, she'll be allowed out into the wide world. Scary stuff! The cats are all beginning to get along a bit better though, long may it continue.

Last (almost!) ends sewn in of a wooly something being completed (it will be done, it will be done!)...

First visit to local Yeo Valley Farm - beautiful sunshine and beautiful prairie style planting in the garden bit. When enough Yeokens have been collected, a trip to their canteen will be in order!

First prize for the lowest score in the Guardian Quiz - a spectacular one, with the only correct answer by J about the safety lamp being invented Humphrey Davie. 

First go at getting Glastonbury tickets for J - no luck at all, didn't even manage to get onto the site. Still, there's the resales later...