Friday, 30 July 2010

July 2010

Another month ends and we are over half way through summer and indeed the year. These photographs were all taken in the grassland behind our home.
A Six-spot Burnet Moth feeding on the nectar of the poisonous Ragwort. Earlier in the year these plants are covered in the caterpillars of the Cinnabar Moth, which use the toxins in the leaves to protect themselves, as the caterpillars are then poisonous themselves. Unlike the Cinnabar Moth, the Six-spot Burnet Moth isn't reliant on just the Ragwort.
The grass is full of wild flowers including the attractive Greater Knapweed. As I walked though the tall grasses clouds of butterflies, mainly Gatekeepers and Meadow Browns, lifted up from feeding on these flowers.
In the hedgerows the fruits are swelling. Many are still green, but the odd blackberry is beginning to ripen.
The banks of the brook, that runs through the grassland, is bordered in swaths of Great Willowherb and Bullrushes.
The brook itself is teeming with small fish that dart into the shadows as soon as they spot you.
If you enlarge the photo you may just be able to discern a few fish - they are there, just very difficult to photograph with my "point and shoot" camera! :)

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Things with Wings ...

Last Sunday we visited Farnborough Airshow 2010. The airshow is held bi-annually and we go each time. I love the noisy jets! And of course The Red Arrows.

Two oldies! My husband and the only remaining flying Vulcan.

One of The Red Devils. The full-sized show car model of The Bloodhound.


This week it has been the Big Butterfly Count in the UK. So far I have completed three counts in my garden and have seen the following butterflies:-

Holly Blue

Meadow Brown

Speckled Wood




Large White

Small White

Top Left - Male Holly Blue : : Top Right - Speckled Wood

Bottom Left - Meadow Brown :: Top Right - Small White

Unfortunately so far in my counts the Red Admirals and Peacock butterflies, that are usually in the garden, haven't put in an appearance and there have been too many Large and Small Whites!

Top Left - Gatekeeper :: Top Right - Red Admiral

Bottom Left - Comma :: Bottom Right - Underside of Male Holly Blue

The July garden is buzzing with the sound of hoverflies and bees. Some of which can be seen in my July garden mosaic. A recent report suggests that British bees are on the increase again, not that I noticed a lack of them in my garden as it is always full of bees and other pollinating insects.

My garden is now in its second flush of flowers, so many that it was a job to choose which ones to photograph for the mosaic! The three buddleias have put on a show and lived up to the name of Butterfly Bush.
My wisteria is flowering for the second time this year and seems to be lasting longer than usual. We have had a good mix of sunshine and rain this month, which has suited the garden very well. The lawn has even recovered from the dry spell in June and is green once again.

As you may have noticed, I have been playing with my blog design and have added some new pages. On the "Birds & Bees" page you can see photos of the creatures that I find in my garden. I love nature and enjoy identifying the different insects that I see. The "Arts & Crafts" page is for all my crafting, a reference page if I can't remember how I made something! "In the Garden" page is where I plan to also put the mosaics. On "My Recipes" blog I have also added a couple of pages. "Celebration Cakes" will feature all of the cakes that I decorate and "In My Kitchen" is an eclectic selection of photos taken in that room. I hope you like the new design. Best wishes, Pj x

Friday, 23 July 2010

Why Do Women Cry?

Recently, I came across this poem about the strength of women and I would like to share it with you, as I think it sums women up very well. We have to be strong even through the pain that life can bring us.

Why Do Women Cry?

Why are you crying?" he asked his Mum. "Because I'm a woman" she told him.
"I don't understand," he said. His Mum just hugged him and said, "And you never will…"

Later the little boy asked his father, "Why does mother seem to cry for no reason?"
"All women cry for no reason" was all his dad could say…

The little boy grew up and became a man, still wondering why women cry…
Finally he put in a call to God; when God got on the phone, the man said,
"God, why do women cry so easily?"

God said…
"When I made woman she had to be special. I made her shoulders strong enough to carry the weight of the world; yet gentle enough to give comfort…
I gave her an inner strength to endure childbirth and the rejection that many times comes from her children…
I gave her a hardness that allows her to keep going when everyone else gives up and take care of her family through sickness and fatigue without complaining…
I gave her the sensitivity to love her children under any and all circumstances, even when their child has hurt them very badly…

This same sensitivity helps her to make a child's injury feel better and shares in their teenagers anxieties and fears…
I gave her strength to carry her husband through his faults and fashioned her from his rib to protect his heart. I gave her wisdom to know that a good husband never hurts his wife, but sometimes tests her strengths and her resolve to stand beside him unfalteringly. I gave her a tear to shed, it's hers exclusively to use whenever it is needed. It's her only weakness…
It's a tear for mankind…"

Author Unknown

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

School's Out for Summer!

Yippee, no school for six weeks! I love the freedom of the summer holidays - no sandwiches to pack up, no after-school activities and no alarm clock! Though to be fair, as my children get older there are fewer evening activities arranged. The holidays will seem slightly strange this year, as my daughter is now out to work and can't take any time off. My husband has three of the six weeks off and we are planning days out, a trip to see my parents in Norfolk and some decorating/DIY at home.

I just love this TV advert :-

In case you haven't guessed, I work in a school! Although I have the easy job of librarian and don't get stressed like the teachers, I still totally understand the advert! :)

Hope you all enjoy your holidays, best wishes Pj x

Monday, 19 July 2010

Another Busy Weekend!

Saturday morning I spent some time in the kitchen and I made 6 lbs of gooseberry jam with some of our homegrown berries.

I baked a coffee cake and topped it with chocolate drops. It has nearly all gone already!
In the afternoon, we popped back to St Swithin's as it was open for a flower festival. A beautiful little church with a lot of history. I like to visit village churches and we discovered this one recently whilst Geocaching.

We then drove a short distance to Up Nately for another Geocache. This is Brick Kiln Bridge, an English listed building, over part of the Basingstoke Canal.
As well as the cache, we found Up Nately Nature Reserve, near the above-mentioned bridge. On a thistle we were lucky enough to see a Psithyrus Rupestis - a rare Cuckoo Bee. The Coots had their young with them and were making quite a noise. The Wild Clematis (Clematis Vitalba), also known as Old Man's Beard/Traveller's Joy and Nettle-leaved Bellflower (Campanula Trachelium) were in bloom.

Also in bloom - my new Birkenstocks! So comfortable!

Sunday we spent a lot of time up the allotment, planting out new seedlings that I had grown in the greenhouse. We harvested these beans and Cavalo Nero for lunch.
We also harvested new potatoes, onions, garlic, more lavender, rhubarb, courgettes and summer squash.

Late afternoon we took a peek at the new allotments. These ones are in our village and we have been successful in acquiring one of the larger plots, approx 95m sq. The soil is very heavy clay so we plan to made raised beds on this allotment.

I think we are going to be very busy! ;)

Friday, 16 July 2010

Last Weekend

Last Saturday, we visited East Wittering on the South Coast. It had been such a hot week, that a cooler day by the sea was very welcome.

Looking east the coast curves around to Bracklesham Bay.

Looking west, the Isle of Wight can be seen across The Solent.

The sea was unusually warm, according to my husband and son; I didn't swim in it as I don't like the usual cold water off the coast of Britain.

I do like to beachcomb though. These are the shells that I collected, both modern and fossil. The fossil shells are the beige-coloured Venericor ones at the top of the photo and the Turritella shells. They are washed up onto the beach from Bracklesham Bay.
On Sunday, we did our first Geocache of the year. We started Geocaching last year, but have been too busy so far this year to complete any caches. We love the fact that Geocaching can lead you to discover places of interest, in your locality, that you would have otherwise have been unaware of. This time we found this unusual church at Nateley Scures. Unfortunately it was closed, but there is a flower festival there this coming weekend, so we may go back for a look inside.
We then went to our allotment for some harvesting.
These gooseberries taste so sweet.
I also started to harvest my lavender. This is the harvest from one bush!
Since last weekend it has been wet, wet, wet! I have had enough of the rain now and would like some more sunshine PLEASE!

I brought a small posy of flowers in from the garden, to enjoy on my kitchen window sill. It has been very windy outside and the garden is sadly taking a bit of a battering. The weather report is looking better for Sunday, so hopefully I can harvest more lavender.
Hope you all enjoy your weekend, best wishes Pj x

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Roses and Recycling

Recently, I bought two new David Austin roses for the back garden -
Abraham Darby
and Geoff Hamilton. Newly flowering in the garden are these Regale lilies, that I planted as bulbs in the spring. I love the smell of roses and lilies.
Ella has been admiring the garden from on high.
And the sparrows have been busy eating the aphids on the climbing roses.
When it has been too hot outside this week I have been crafting indoors. I have experimented with printing on fabric and have made these two personalised gift bags from some recycled cotton sheeting. I like the earrings and bracelets so much that I am tempted to buy some for myself!
I have turned a shop bag into a gift bag with some strategically placed card, cut from an old birthday card.
And recycled a stash of old birthday and Christmas cards into gift tags. Some are simply cut out and others are layered with glue dots for a 3D effect. These are just a few of the ones I made -
I keep cards from close family members, they are too precious to cut up. After they have been displayed I save them in a box in our bedroom. As you can see I still have birthday cards up, we tend to leave them up for a few weeks.
We are off to the coast today, as it is another hot day here in the South of England. Wishing you all a lovely weekend, Pj x

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

A Tour Around the Garden in July

My back garden often features in my posts, so I thought I should give you a tour of it, so that you can have a clear idea of the layout. My garden is only 43' long by 27' wide and is south-facing. It is accessed from the house via the patio door and these photos take you on a trip around the garden.

Stepping out of the patio door and looking towards the end of the garden.

From the same position, but turning to the left is the patio table and chairs. The bike isn't a permanent feature! My son is mending a puncture before he tries to sell his old bike.
Walking past the table, to the rear of the attached garage, are my pots of blueberry bushes, herbs and flowers. The greenhouse is just on the right.
To the right is the greenhouse.
Turning to the right and the view to the far corner of the garden. The greenhouse is just out of the photo to the left.
Turning around and looking back towards the patio.
Walking back past the table and looking left onto the garden.

The half sleepers are the access to the garden.

Looking left whilst on the sleepers.

Looking straight ahead whilst still on the sleepers.

Stepping onto the lawn, to the right is the east-facing flower bed.
Moving anti-clockwise around the garden, the east-facing flower bed continues. Ella can be seen enjoying the catmint!
Beyond the catmint are stepping stones through the border.

The path of stepping stones leads back to the lawn, going past the compost bin at the corner of the garden.
A single half sleeper, edged with broken terracotta crocks and mini hurdles that I bought at Great Dixter a few years ago, leads to the compost bin. The lawn roller was rescued from a disused allotment.
The north-facing border, with the shady area at the far end. I grew the hornbeam, in the corner, from a seedling and underneath it are my ferns.
The west-facing border (still going anti-clockwise around the lawn) looking from the shady corner towards the greenhouse.
And finally, looking back towards the house from the shady corner.
Since cutting down the hardy geraniums, last week, the borders are looking a little bare, but hopefully they will soon be full of colour again, once the flowers that I have grown from seed mature. All I need now is a good rain to perk up the flowers and lawn!