27 days ago
I have these strong childhood memories of life at Butterwell Farm in Byfield of heading out into very cold and dark Autumn nights to help my mum harvest the vegetables for winter storage. There was a sense of urgency, it had to be done. We did not have a freezer so we used sand boxes for root vegetable storage and she also stored things in jars to sit in the cold room, the larder.
174 days ago
An early childhood memory from Butterwell Farm ,was of hearing a series of loud explosions as one of the bottles of ginger beer my parents were making, exploding and setting off a chain reaction among the other bottles. In those days we only had glass bottles. I have never tried my hand at this before but, with the elderflower champagne and cordial season and nettle beer season now almost upon me, I thought I’d also give it a go. I am now working on my ginger bug plant as you can see below.
802 days ago
I have started the carrot harvest and most of what I am digging up are about three inches long. They are, like many folks here in Wales, short, fat and ugly. But unlike Welsh people they taste great. My honey glazed carrots are a favourite of Joshua’s so the menu for the next few weeks should delight the Pest.
829 days ago
I try to encourage Joshua to get involved with bringing vegetables and fruit in from the garden and storing them up for the winter with tales of how I used to do the same with my father and mother at Butterwell Farm when I was his age. It is a battle to get him involved and ton drag him away from moronic cartoons on the goggle box. Today, so far, I have won. He assisted with the weeding of the part of the vegetable garden where winters and Christmas vegetables are being planted today and where strawberry plants will be transferred shortly. Yesterday he was less help as I brought in an enormous spinach plant which has started sprouting and must have been three foot tall.
907 days ago
An early memory from childhood at Butterwell Farm is of the glass bottles in which mum and dad stored the ginger beer and elderflower champagne they made, exploding and then setting off a chain reaction of explosions. The IRA could not have organised it better. And thus the nettle bear I made is stored in plastic bottles which should not explode and which I am now “burping” once a day, that is to say letting the air out and the beer fizz. And boy is it fizzing. In a week’s time, the beer, currently sitting next to a piggy bank in the larder, will be ready to drink and will be decanted into glass bottles and stored in the fridge. I have already promised to bring a glass up to neighbour D, to the chap repointing our barns and to the couple who run the village’s Greek South African restaurant. After all, they had a special present for me today.
925 days ago
It is not exactly by popular demand but this series has a cult following who wish to see more obscure titles assembled as I sort forty cases of books belonging to my late father. The first three in the series are HERE but this set is, arguably, the best yet in its diversity.
930 days ago
You may have thought that yesterday’s obscure pairing of books from the library of my late father was unbeatably obscure and diverse. You would be wrong. As I continue to go through boxes and boxes of books, I continue to find more gems. So how about this for your holiday reading? Diverse is it not?
1077 days ago
This will be our second Christmas without my Godfather and Uncle, Christopher Booker. Every other Christmas in my life, Chris sent first my parents, then my father, then my father and myself a cheese from Cheddar: a real organic product from the county in which he lived and loved, Somerset. Last year, much to my surprise, a cheese arrived as normal. Knowing that he was dying he had, two years ago, placed orders for both 2018 and 2019. But this year I was rather resigned to that tradition ending. This morning a large box arrived at the Welsh Hovel.
1487 days ago
It is only a few days ago that I was bemoaning how the true meaning and heritage of All Soul’s Night or Hop-tu-Naa had been lost into another alcohol fuelled consumer-fest that is Halloween. Now the Mrs thinks that I am turning into Peter Hitchens as we approach Guy Fawkes Night, or as it is known these day Bonfire Night. My thoughts turn to my childhood, forty five or more years ago and a different world.
2463 days ago
Having been deprived of chocolate and sweets for most of the year, late October until November 5th at Butterwell Farm, Byfield provided some greatly appreciated treats.
2464 days ago
One day we woke up and there was an old style gypsy caravan, the ones with a rounded wooden roof, parked in our field at Butterwell Farm in Byfield. Next to it a horse stood gazing. My mother, a free spirit of the 1970s, had offered out our field to a couple called Rob and Maggie who spent their lives as new style gypsies.
2465 days ago
Perhaps it explains why I have picked up such a sweet tooth later in life but, in my early years at Butterwell farm Byfield, chocolate was a real rarity and sweets were just non existent. This was my mother at work.
2466 days ago
I have mentioned my Godfather Vicious in another context elsewhere, that is to say his tendency to fall for lesbians, something that has somehow passed on to me. During our time at Butterwell farm Byfield when I was a young boy, Vicious was in a "between lesbian phase", that is to say his wife who much later became a lesbian had left him as a fresult of his own naughtiness, but he was yet to hook up with the mother of his daughter who then left him for another woman.
2488 days ago
Above the main field at Butterwell Farm in Byfield was a smaller field. On one side was a continuation of the dry stone wall that separated our land from that of Mr Peter Thompson, on the other the extensive gardens that my mother worked to create. At the bottom ,separating this land from the main field, was a giant old barn which contained a wooden three-seater lavatory seat among other gems. At the top there was another barn which in turn formed one half of one side of the yard behind our house. We we worked hard to turn the barn into a fox proof hen-house. and then started to build up a flock of chickens with the odd bantam picked up along the way, for fun.
2490 days ago
At the bottom of our big field at Butterwell farm in Byfield was a stream. For a small boy the bank on the other side, that led up to a metal fence and onto the Daventry Road, seemed very steep and since it was lined with nettles I regarded the stream as the border of our lands.
In the summer it trickled gently on from Mr Peter Thompson's field and open country beyond, at one end through our field and on to a neat, wire mesh lined, hole in a brick wall which separated the bottom part of our land from a small house where an old man lived. In the winter the stream became a bit of a torrent, often more than a yard and a half wide. One year it flooded almost all the way up the slope of the field and must have been thirty yards wide.