Tuesday 29 September 2015

Farewell to the Barons

 Over the summer, to celebrate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, (a copy of which is in Lincoln Castle), 25 Barons invaded Lincoln.  Hull had toads, Bristol had Shaun the Sheep and Lincoln had Barons!  They were to represent the 25 Barons who forced King John to sign the Magna Carta and each was decorated.  They were then placed around the main shopping area of Lincoln and you could join the Trail and find them all.
 A leaflet was produced, explaining about the original Baron, the painted version, the sponsor and the artist.  They were very popular and it was rare to see one without people posing beside him.  They were yarnbombed and were also the subject of a petition to keep them after the event.  However, they were always designed to be a temporary feature, then they would be auctioned to raise money for The Trussell Trust.
They were gathered up and taken to Lincoln Castle where they could be seen before the auction (which is on 1st October).  So, I headed up to the Castle yesterday on a gloriously sunny morning to take some photos.
 The Castle has ancient parts to it, such as the tower and walls and then Georgian and Victorian additions.  It was a prison and is now the Court.  The Court building is the one in the background, covered in a creeper.
 This Roman soldier Baron was one of my favourites.
 The Steampunk Baron stood outside the Assembly Rooms which is one of the hosts for the annual Steampunk Festival.
 The themes for the Barons were many and various: Lincolnshire flora and fauna; the Red Arrows; teachers; Lincoln Cathedral; truck driving; Mayor of Lincoln; Freeman of Lincoln; Steam trains; Bee keeping; young people; waterways; shopping.

 I also liked this Baron with the Lincoln landmarks.

Chris and I didn't go on the trail, but  managed to see a lot of the Barons on the way to and from work and  on various shopping expeditions around the city.

A last view of the Barons.  I hope they will raise lots of money at the auction.  They have certainly brought some colour to a rather dull summer.

Sunday 20 September 2015

The gradual descent into Autumn

Having a garden does make you aware of the changes of the seasons.  Looking round, you can tell that it is Autumn (even if the calendar says it is 23rd September officially).   The signs are already there - japanese anemones (above is Lady Maria), asters, grasses, fruits and berries.
 One of my novae-angliae asters (Mrs S.T Wright, I think) in a pretty shade of lilac.
 Aster Little Carlow is also flowering away and attracting lots of bees,
 Just in case it is all rather pastel coloured, here's a shot of colour in the form of Crocosmia Emily Mackenzie (my absolute favourite Crocosmia...so far).
 Elegant grasses like this Miscanthus - soft and very tactile.  Behind, you can see the feathery foliage of Cosmos (which is so late to flower this year and hasn't been very promising throughout the summer.  I tried some different varieties this year, but it will be back to tried and tested Cosmos Sonata Dwarf next year).
 Another japanese anemone (Bowles' Pink).
 I love this combination of the Crocosmia and Geranium Rozanne (two of my favourites looking amazing together).
 Another aster, September Ruby, with a happy bee in the centre.
 Here is a close up of the bee.
There are still some reminders of summer, for those of us who don't want it to leave.  Here is Rose Frilly Cuff  in its second flowering and doing well.
This is Rose Comte de Chambord, one of the parents of Rose Gertrude Jekyll, with the recognisable strong fragrance.  One of my new roses this year, I bought it in June, really past the bare root plant season, as a bare root.  It arrived looking very much worse for wear,  pale, limp and not at all happy. I popped it into a pot, not really expecting much from it at all.  In fact, if it survived, I would be surprised. However, as the summer progressed, it started to improve, put out new leaves and look much stronger and healthier.  Then it decided to flower and I was delighted.  The flowers are beautiful and have a lovely scent, as I mentioned.
I keep reading about the predictions for this winter to be one of the coldest in the UK since 1962/3, which is a bit worrying, especially as half my garden is full of pots.  I always protect them, but if this winter turns out to be as predicted, I may have to utilise my shed more.
I am going to enjoy the autumn as much as I can in the meantime.  Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, apples, crumbles, cakes and pies, as well as the lovely autumn flowers and leaf colours. I hope those of you sharing the seasons with the UK will enjoy it too.

A big welcome to my new followers - it is lovely to see you and I hope you will enjoy my blog.

Sunday 13 September 2015


Back in January, my friend Maria visited from Canada and we went to Stamford.  You can read about it here.  While we were there, we went to a very nice interiors/haberdashery shop and Maria saw some material printed with a London map, which she absolutely loved. I bought a metre of the material and rashly promised to make her a doorstop, for her birthday in July, which I would send to Canada.   I did some research in books and on the internet.  I was looking for a pattern which had velcro on the base, and a handle and I ended up feeling a bit like the Prince looking for his Princess in the story of 'The Princess and the Pea'...one was too small, one had a zip, one didn't have a handle, one was a pyramid shape...you get the idea.  Eventually, I found the perfect one for me!  If you'd like to have a go yourself, it's here.  I liked the jokey way the tutorial was written and can say that it was easy to follow and surprisingly easy to make.  I practised first by making a lining from calico, which was a separate cube placed inside the main one, for ease of filling.
Look, here it is!  I made this!  As you can tell, I am pretty pleased with myself. 
 I did have to think about which way up the pieces would have to go, but it worked out well.
 The fabric looks good too.
Not content with that, I also made a notebook cover, with a felt flower made from my felt.
It all arrived safely with Maria (only a few weeks after her birthday...oh well...) and I think she liked it.  It's a little reminder of her visit to England.

Saturday 5 September 2015


I have two raspberry canes in a large tub in the garden.  I did have three, but one just withered away, despite my best efforts.  They are an autumn fruiting variety called Joan J and the remaining two are very reliable.  I chose autumn fruiting because they are easier to prune -  just cut down all the canes to the ground in February and they fruit on the new canes grown each year.  I have watered and fed them and watched the flowers being pollinated by the bees and the fruits forming.  However, as I only have two canes, sadly I don't get enough fruit to make jam.  So, I have eaten them straight off the canes when they are sun warmed, but as the days are getting cooler, I was wondering what else I could do with the small handfuls.  I have made pavlovas in the past, but they are strictly for a treat.  I think I may have found the perfect solution.
 We use the Easi-Yo yogurt system, where you add a sachet of mix to water and then put it in the yogurt maker (filled with just boiled water) overnight.  We like the low fat Greek style mix as it is versatile to use in cooking as well as eaten as a yogurt, usually with honey added in.  In a flash of inspiration, I decided to make a raspberry sauce for the yogurt.  I put the raspberries into a saucepan with some cold water and five (ish) teaspoons of icing sugar (depending how sweet a tooth you have) and then boiled it up, stirring it well.  I boiled it for about five minutes or so and let it cool slightly, before putting it through a sieve to remove the seeds.
As you can see, it has a beautiful colour and I can vouch for the fact that it tasted delicious!  It makes a really nice change from honey and it is a good way of using up the raspberries too.  Perfect!