Don't let the above photo deceive you - it hasn't been all sunny days in my part of Blighty recently. This week we've had rain, hailstones and frost, so today's sun has made a very welcome change. Also, the cold snap has affected some of my species surveys too. They're supposed to be carried out in spring, but at optimal air temperatures. These colder days we've been having has meant that certain surveys for reptiles and great crested newts are on hold until the weather warms up. However, I did find some cresties during a recent survey...
...cute aren't they?
Whenever weather has permitted, I've been out in the orchard mowing the grass and also trying to get our raised border and seating area finished. Its changed quite a bit since I last blogged about it here and is no longer an untidy, overgrown pile of grot, but somewhere peaceful to sit out and catch the morning sun (not very often recently!).
Husband rebuilt sections of the former greenhouse foundations and I filled in some of the voids with fragments of broken pottery and china that I've collected over the years.
I've included blue and white transfer pottery that I dug up on a Victorian rubbish dump, half a toy china tea cup found in a stream and the base of a pottery beer bottle from a derelict cottage's rubbish dump. I've collected fragments like these since I was a kid and they still fascinate me, so it was a nice touch to be able to include these.
I'm aiming to plant the border in a cottage garden style and am currently growing some sweet-pea seedlings to plant against the rustic wigwam that I made from hazel and jute rope under Dad's supervision.
We were lucky with the bench. A neighbour gave it to us as it saved him from having to chop it up. Its paint was flaking off and the exposed wood rather rough, but after I gave it a sand down and a few coats of paint, its spruced up perfectly and is comfortable too. The elephant plant stand was rescued from Mum and Dad's old summerhouse before they moved last year. It makes an ideal stand for a mug of tea or beer bottle!
There are plenty of nettles in the orchard, which gave me the chance to make some nettle soup in the week. The cooking removes any sting, and the nettles combined with potato and carrots makes for a hearty, earthy tasting soup. Honestly, it does taste good! If you fancy having a go yourself, I can recommend the recipe on the River Cottage website.