8 days ago
There is just so much to do but my target is to harvest at least one crop a day and put it away for winter storage. Tomorrow is the official start of the apple harvest and, having jumped the gun by a week on the crabapples and edibles from the new top orchard I have created, work will, start on the old orchard by the river which is dripping with reddening apples begging to be scratted and crushed into juice. Meanwhile…
17 days ago
Yesterday, as my Oxford contemporaries discovered whether they were moving up or down the slippery pole at Westminster, my five year old son Joshua and I celebrated getting a sex pest suspended from his work, by going blackberry picking. It is horses for courses I guess. But boy was it fun as we discovered two new spots where nobody seems to have been and which were dripping with blackberries. Joshua’s motive is that if we picked enough I could make more cordial which then becomes ice cream. His birthday party looms and he is keen that his friends have his favourite ice cream. Meanwhile…
93 days ago
Those attending ShareStock will enjoy a full range of homemade jams, alongside breakfast croissants and tea-time scones. First up is the gooseberry jam, made with dessert gooseberries. There may be another pot to come, but for now, that is it. Next up, blackcurrant and strawberry jams.
142 days ago
The garden I created in the area once known as the jungle sits about 4-6 foot, depending on where you are, above the lane that leads to the Welsh Hovel. You may remember that last year I lined it with lavender bushes. Then came the weeds.
317 days ago
In the run up to my next Greek trip, once every few days, I am now decanting various of the fruit gins and vodkas made in late summer. The Mrs and i are still working our way through the plum vodka. Yesterday I decanted the rhubarb and ginger gin.
355 days ago
Having spotted some blackberries in the churchyard yesterday morning, when the Mrs arrived home to take charge of Jayarani, I headed back through the drizzle with young Joshua to harvest. We discussed the weather in Welsh as walked up the hill. We both know all the key phrases and also “it is sunny” not that we get to use that very often.
365 days ago
I flagged up the other day that the apple harvest from the old orchard by the River Dee had been piss poor. But still what juice might it produce. As you can see below the press I bought last year was wheeled into action.
390 days ago
It is hoped that daughter Olaf, currently spending a term at the Sorbonne in Paris, will honour us with a visit at Christmas and, as you might have gathered, she is a thirsty young lady. As such, I have today been adding to the plum and damson vodka, gently becoming even more fruit flavoured on the larder shelf.
472 days ago
This time it is rhubarb ice cream using the same amount of cooked rhubarb as the recipe I am given for strawberries and using rhubarb juice for half the suggested amount of milk. So far Joshua has not had a taste, his penultimate Friday ever at his nursery beckoned so no breakfast here. But the Mrs agrees it is fairly magnificent. Ideal for those who want something a bit less sweet than yesterday’s elderflower ice cream.
538 days ago
Here in Holt, the last village in Wales, where snitching on your neighbour with unfounded allegations is deemed fair game but something that cannot be discussed openly, a bright sun shines this Tuesday morning revealing another night of, modest, frost. So far this frost season the blossom on the fruit trees has survived and peas and beans planted a few weeks ago, grow unaffected.
573 days ago
A few folks asked how we could be enjoying rhubarb already here at the Welsh Hovel. The answer is in the top photo below; each of the eight plants is covered with a pot which seems to be accelerating growth. Don’t ask me to explain but it works. The tree in the middle of the rhubarb is, incidentally, one of the eight cherry trees I planted in December 2019 and it looks all set to blossom and deliver fruit quite magnificently this year. But it is not just the rhubarb which, after some persuasion, even four-year-old Joshua decided he liked.
574 days ago
It is only March but we have the first harvest from the newly created gardens at the Welsh Hovel – a small bunch of rhubarb. There is more to come. Today sees the planting of beans, peas and potatoes. Yesterday it was (indoors) chillis and peppers. More photos later.
603 days ago
This patch is the far end of the area formerly known as the jungle. Behind the wall is the lane down to the hovel and on the opposite side of it is the only other chap in the village who is cursing the defeat of Ireland by Wales today. Eight rhubarb plants went in last year and eight have emerged this year. They are now all covered with pots which, I am told, gets them shooting ahead faster. Round the edge are the surplus lavender plants from the lavender hedge we are creating, and in the middle one of the cherry trees planted 14 months ago along the edge of the garden and which is coming along very well indeed. So I hope for another bumper rhubarb harvest to make rhubarb gin for the Mrs, rhubarb crumble for Joshua and er…what else do you make with rhubarb?
627 days ago
If I tried to explain my pride at what you see below to daughter Olaf she would just roll her eyes with that “daddy you are so old and boring“ look. So, dear readers, humour me and share my pleasure at what you see below.
644 days ago
The day is looming when I must consider my New Year’s Resolutions. It is no great shock in that my top few are all to do with being a little bit, no a lot more, healthy. Spending those last couple of weeks with Dad and his death, covid, the second big lockdown here in Wales, the new baby and now Christmas have not been good for my health. The large Christmas jumper given to me by my mother in law is a little tight. I am all too aware of what needs doing. I am 53 in two weeks time and I have a one month old baby so I need to up my game in the healthy living department. It is all very well me considering plans for wind down and retirement but you have to live long enough to get to spend more time with your children and goats.
735 days ago
The two bigger jars were made earlier and already my damson and rhubarb gins are starting to take on a colour. The smaller, later batches of apple and pear are not colouring yet. In fact, I am not sure they ever will. The next steps: shake each jar once a day for a week so that all the sugar dissolves. Then store in a cold dark place, not hard to find here in Wales, until Advent when all four batches should be ready.
736 days ago
I harvest not just for myself but for the pensioner couple one house up the lane and 95 year old E one house further up. And so we have a small number of crab apples from the two trees I planted this year – enough for one small pot of crab apple jelly, the last of the damsons for gin and then stacks of cooking apples from the orchard by the river and pears from a tree in the centre of the vegetable patch. Then finally some rhubarb which I planted this year… I have promised the family rhubarb crumble this evening. But I will also be making apple jam, pear jam and maybe a bit of rhubarb and ginger gin.
2242 days ago
I noted in my culinary bible that is a Darina Allen tome a recipe for summer pudding without raspberries. Darina uses cake as her padding I stick with the traditional white bread. Armed with the last of the blackcurrants from Shipston as well as the last of the dessert gooseberries I started to improvise. Having cooked both fruit until they popped in sugar water the overwhelming taste was blackcurrant. The juice was like concentrated ribena. But cripes there was not enough mixture for both bowls.
2276 days ago
As I mentioned at some stage last week my step mother is keen that fruit from the garden in Shipston does not go to waste. And so I returned home for an all too brief weekend in Bristol with a punnet of gooseberries that I had picked. Oakley's friend Tara was buried beneath the rhubarb earlier this year and, I apologise if you regard this as tasteless but it had come up amazingly.