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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.

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One week on from the show, and the peas are looking fab (what a shame they weren’t good enough last week).

Sure they’ll be yummy though! 😉

Jam Today!

Well, I can see why my rhubarb and orange marmalade wasn’t in the prizes at Newport show – given its consistency is similar to runny honey rather than marmalade!  But putting aside the not-quite-perfect viscosity, the taste (even if I say so myself) is pretty fab.  The sweetness of the orange is tempered by the more tart taste of the rhubarb – meaning that overall it’s darn yummy!!  Am much more pleased with this than my previous two attempts.  So if next year I get the texture right too – who knows, maybe I’ll be able to win over the judges. 😉

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?  😉

OK, so the weather this year has been shocking, but whilst the continued rain may not appeal to us, it seems to be keeping the veg happy.  Slightly concerned about the potatoes and onions simply rotting away, but the other veg appears to be doing well.  Have just snapped open the first pea pod – the peas are the sweetest imaginable (taste reminiscent of fresh unsalted peanuts when you break them out of their shells).  Gorgeous.

Yesterday, we had the first of our baby carrots – also sweet and delicious.  With only a few feet from garden to kitchen, and only a few minutes from ground to plate, you can really taste the difference between home-grown and shop bought.

So, don’t be disheartened by the weather, folks.  Everything still tastes great – and at least we don’t have to do much watering! 😉

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.

New recruits

Thanks in no small part to some silly woman who is leaving dog biscuits and other tempting treats in the lane that runs outside our house, a fox braved coming into our garden the other night.  It managed to get into the smaller A-frame hen house, and kill the two hens in there.  So I hope dog-biscuit woman is pleased with herself.

Anyway, we’ve just had three new chucks delivered (honestly – there are three, just the other one went straight into the house before I could take her photo!) – and the hen house has a new catch which will hopefully foil Mr Fox if he returns.

Let’s hope these hens have a long and happy fox-free life!