Category: General


Acton Scott Working Farm

Went to Acton Scott Farm yesterday where they film ‘Victorian Farm‘.  I’ve uploaded photos to the SlightlyTurquoise facebook page, so take a look.  http://www.facebook.com/pages/SlightlyTurquoise/184153818289310?ref=hl#!/media/set/?set=a.455267294511293.97980.184153818289310&type=1

There are rather a lot of pictures of roofs, as I love the traditional wooden building structures!

It was great going out of season – we practically had the place to ourselves.  Saw new piglets, and a ploughing demo.   And so lovely to see real stalls that hadn’t been demolished, or converted into a tea room or a shop!

Cut the lavender last night, ready to dry and make into lavender bags and so forth (if I ever get round to it….).  Then today, I lifted the garlic.  They’re a bit on the small side, but look healthy enough (something of a miracle given the prolonged wet weather).  I’ve hung them to dry out a bit on the butcher’s hook in the kitchen.  At least it should keep the vampires away!

The herb garden is really looking fabulous at the moment:

  

I’ve used some of the herbs in my attempt at homemade fly repellant for the horses (cold tea, vinegar, rosemary, thyme, lemon mint, lavender).  Have no idea if it’ll work or not – if not, the horses will just smell funny!

Oh, and I also lifted the first of the potatoes this evening – these are the ones which simply decided to grow – not the ones I carefully planted!  Despite all the rules about not growing them in the same place twice, they seem to have done quite well.

With so many countryside events cancelled this year, it was great to see the Newport Show on as usual.  It helps that the showground itself is purpose-built, and exceptionally well draining.  Nonetheless, although the weather held during the morning, the heavens opened in the afternoon, testing even the Newport infrastructure.  This did mean that some of the main ring entertainment was curtailed, but all in all, the organisers of the event are to be congratulated for keeping the show going despite the testing conditions.

Some pictures from the morning while the sun still shone!

 

 

 

When the heavens opened, everyone took shelter in the horticultural tent!

My two successful entries (of seven!) – raspberry jam, and gooseberries:

 

Bit disappointed that my peas (which looked so good!) didn’t get placed, but clearly I have much to learn in the world of vegetable showing!  Still, there’s always next year, eh?  😉

National Shed Week!

I have to admit, National Shed Week has almost come to an end without me even being aware of its existence.  Fortunately, in the nick of time, I’m able to bring it to the attention of my readers so they too can marvel at the fact there is a “Shed of the Year” competition – for this year’s winner, see: http://www.shedblog.co.uk/2012/07/01/the-winner-of-shed-of-the-year-2012-is-the-pub-shed-woodhenge-owned-by-john-plumridge/

Who’d have thought, eh?!  😉

Our Olympic tickets arrived the other day, and I’ve now booked our train tickets for the event.  Was relieved that the prices don’t seem to have been overly inflated, and that there was still plenty of choice in terms of ticket availability.  Prices might have affected our decision whether to take the train or go by car, and I’m relieved that we leave the car behind, both from the point of view of the hassle involved, and the environmental impact.

Even more delighted to discover in our ticket pack tags for the BP Target Neutral scheme.  OK, possibly not a huge fan of BP in recent times – a quick search of the internet will bring up all sorts of crimes against the company, and accusations of a poor safety and environmental record (we’ve not forgotten the gulf of Mexico oil spill for instance, which seemed to take months for them to tackle). But shall we give them some credit for trying with the Olympic Target Neutral scheme, or do we just discount it as a massive publicity stunt?

Publicity stunt or not, the effect will be a positive one if enough people sign up to the scheme.  It’s pretty simple – if you’re a ticket holder, you go to the website (https://spectatortargetneutral.bp.com/tag/start) and enter the code on the tag which was sent with your tickets (one per person) – and BP offset the carbon for your journey (on an estimated basis, obviously, calculated on the basis of the country from which you’re travelling).

If you’re not off to the Olympics, or you’d like to offset your whole carbon footprint, you can also buy into the scheme, which helps fund environmental projects around the world.  (There’s a cute video fronted by Adam Hart-Davis in a mad-scientist’s basement which explains more: http://www.bptargetneutral.com/2011/09/how-does-carbon-offsetting-work/)

If you want to hand over your real hard-earned money, The Woodland Trust also have an offset scheme (http://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/en/support-us/carbon/Pages/reduce.aspx) which is perhaps easier to understand, and arguably less open to abuse, but you can explore the two schemes for yourself to see which you prefer.

But if you’re off to the games, make sure you sign up for the Target Neutral Scheme – it’ll cost you nothing, and if nothing else, will help make a statement about sustainability for future Olympic games.

Wash ’em and squash ’em

Tomorrow sees the start of National Recycle Week.  According to Recycle Now (http://www.recyclenow.com/recycle_week/) the focus of the week is on raising awareness about plastic bottle recycling, as currently less than 50% of those used in the UK get recycled.

I’m always a bit dubious about these national ‘weeks’ – I know they’re great publicity, but you can’t help feeling the issues raised should be just as important the other 51 weeks of the year.  Still, if it makes people think about it a little more, I guess it’s a good thing.

Amusing statistic on the website: “If all of us in the UK recycled just one extra plastic bottle during Recycle Week, this would save enough energy to power over 71,000 plasma screen TVs for a year.”

Think what we could achieve if we recycled plasma screen TVs!!  😉

Ok, so we didn’t go away for Bank Holiday weekend, and the weather might have been typically dismal, but we feel like we’ve had a break anyway.  Yesterday we had a lovely long lie-in, and this morning we went to the other extreme – out of bed early, and off for a walk.  It’s funny how when we’re away on holiday, going walking seems second nature, but at home, we tend to forget about all that there is to explore right on our doorstep.

So this morning, we headed from the house, out across the fields and down into Newport, following the canal – or what’s left of it.  The canal actually goes much further than we’d originally thought, and then the original route is marked with a footpath (another route to explore next time).  Doubling back, we headed through the town, to the walk route we’ve always been meaning to do since we moved here – and it’s a good job we did it now, given they’re likely to build a Sainsbury’s superstore on it in the near future.  Lots of local resistance, as to be expected – check out http://www.savenewport.co.uk/ for more information on the campaign against the development plans.  It seems criminal to dig up another bit of our green and pleasant land, when there are alternative brownfield sites available.

Cutting back through quiet country lanes towards home again, it was just like being on holiday – spotting gorgeous cottages and farms, and saying hello to the odd grazing pony.  We’ve also realised just how much more there’s left for us to explore another day.

And the weather might well have been a bit of a dampener on the Jubilee celebrations, but it’s done wonders for the garden – all the veggies have gone mad!  😉

Return of the old bag…

Put our recycling out on Sunday night as per, then on Monday after the collections, went to retrieve the various bags and boxes provided by the local authority for all the different types of recycling.  The big blue bag for the cardboard had disappeared.  This would be less weird if it didn’t have our house number emblazoned on the outside (following a previous loss of the can/bottle crate).

We had a brief search, then waited for a while to see if someone might return it, but no sign of it.  Having yesterday finally resorted to ordering a new one lo, this morning, it turns up at the end of the lane.

So now we’ll have two!  Some irony that we have now acquired some more stuff in order to dispose of other stuff.

Anyone need a spare cardboard-recycling bag?

Can they be recycled??

As we are signed up for on-line gas bills, we get to use the nifty graph to see how our gas consumption compares year on year.  We’ve now had the log burner up and running for 13 months.  Our gas consumption for 2011-12 is staggeringly a third of the figure for 2010-11!  A third!  Granted, this winter has not seen the temperatures plummet as they did last year, but even so…it’s still a fairly incredible difference.  The house feels generally warmer because, unlike the central heating, we can have the log burner running pretty much all our waking hours (and sometimes well into the night).  And whilst we still have some problems with damp in the bedrooms, it’s generally less severe than it was. 

And the best thing?  If we just burn wood rather than coal, it’s carbon neutral and FREE!  😉

Went to let the hens out this morning, and one was lying dead in the straw near the door.  Very sad.  Hens have no respect for each other – the others were just stepping over (and sometimes on) her to get out.  I presume she was the one who was tucked up asleep one evening recently when I went to shut them in.  Thinking about it now, it was unusual. 

I guess I’m going to have to get used to them dying of old age/natural causes, rather than premature fox murder, now they’re generally safe in their run.  When we just had the small coop, they mostly got clobbered before they had a chance to reach old age.

We’ve buried her under the big apple tree where all the hens like to spend a lot of time, scratching around.  RIP, little girl.  😦