Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Evolution of a flower bed

Short photographic post today.

Remember the island bed I dug out earlier this year ready to create? I thought it would be fun to show the photos of how it has changed to date.

Just wait until the flowers begin to bloom now!

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Little working holiday in Purbeck.

I am having a duvet day. I was working in Dorset for a couple of nights Thursday and Friday and I started my 5 hour car journey back to Lancashire after work finished at 10pm Friday. You can tell just why I am so tired today. Crazy most people called me as I set off but, for me, more crazy is wasting the whole of yesterday on busy roads when I could be home. I managed it all without a stop (for once, my pea sized bladder didn't let me down) and was in my bed by 3 am. What made it most exhasuting was the fact that I only drove there the day before ready to work from 2 until 10.
No other expenses as a lovely lady put myself and another singer up for the night and was most welcoming to us, so kind of someone to open up their home to two strange men, just because they assume opera singers are nice and honest people (which, of course, we mostly are).
Yesterday I only had to be back working at 3, so my friend and I went for an explore, which was like a mini (very mini) holiday. We got up early and were on our way by 9 with only a vague idea where to go, just drive and stop when we feel like it. We headed out and made our first stop at Corfe Castle for a quick wander around the town. It is very small, but exceedinly perfect in every way, a true Dorset village (overrun with visitors of course.) We didn't do the castle as it was quite expensive, but as it was a ruin anyway, just looked at it from afar.
It is everything that a ruined castle should be.

I was most excited because, so the stories go, it is the castle that Enid Blyton based her Famous Five's Kirrin Castle on (there is an Enid Blyton shop in the town)

Back in the car and on to Studland where we stopped and walked to Harry's old Rocks. It was a pleasant walk and we found a very small crop of rather tired, but still pungent wild garlic growing in the hedgerow. I took a few leaves and shoved them in my pocket for some pasta tonight.

After the walk we moved on again for a quick lunch of egg butties in Swanage, which is one of those very old fashioned coastal resort towns, now populated by retired people walking along the prom. It was really, really lovely (and my expectations had been quite low having been brought up near Blackpool).

A quick trip to a garden centre and finally on to my rehearsal at Lulworth Castle.

Quite a lot to pack into a morning off, but I loved every second and the weather was extremely kind to us.

Monday, 10 June 2013


It's been a gorgeous week here in the UK, every day for a week or more has been one of bright hot sunshine and blue skies. Besides a couple of days work in London I have been lucky enough to be off and able to enjoy it. Sadly, the weather is a bit grey today for the first time in ages and rain is forecast. Oh, well, at least I won't have to water the garden today.

The unknown plant that I thought was nemesia I have now changed that opinion and I think that it is a type of  phlox.

Anyone any thoughts?

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Cheap and cheerful lentil curry

Tonight I made a dead cheap and delicious lentil curry. Everything in it is cheap after the initial outlay of spices, which will last for many a curry in the future.


1 lg onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
4 green chillies chopped
350ml water
4g turmeric
140g red lentils
30g yellow split lentils
4 tbsp of oil
2 dried chilles
2 tablespoons of curry leaves
Teaspoon of mustard seeds
Teaspoon of cumin seeds

1 can of chopped tomatoes


To a pan of 350ml water add the onion, fresh chilli, turmeric and all the lentils.
Bring to the boil and simmer slowly for 35 minutes or until the lentils are soft. Add more water if it gets dry.
Break up the lentils with a potato masher, add 2 teaspoons of salt and the can of tomatoes, mixing well.
Bring back up to a gentle simmer and cook to a thick sauce for 10 minutes, remove from heat.
Warm the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat, add the garlic, curry leaves, cumin seeds and mustard seeds and dried chilles and cook until the garlic browns.
Pour the oil and spices into the lentil pan and cover.
After 5 minutes stir the lentil mix well, taste and season to suit, garnish with coriander leaves if you have any.

I reckon this was 4 of my greedy portions.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Garden bursting into Summer.

Well it was a long time coming, but the garden has erupted while I have been away. A few flowers here and there, but mostly the promise of much to come.

The Pearl d'Azur clematis has taken well and I can't wait until the time that it eventually climbs over the whole archway with it's sky blue flowers.

This is what i call the Azalea bed, even though there is only one azalea in it - the tall thing in the middle. Remember last year it had mildew, well this year, so far, it is as healthy as a vegetarian athlete. The azelea was the first ever thing to go into this new bed last year (hence the name) and I bought it after flowering time, so I still have no idea what colour it is. Some people may thing this is an odd thing to look forward to, but I can't wait until it bursts forth with it's wonderful flowers. Also in this bed are delphiniums, alliums, wallflowers, sweetpeas, Shasta daisies, mint and forget-me-nots (I think) and a bright red old fashioned rambling rose on the right, ready to go over the wooden archway.

This potted azelea is about to come out in flower too. It was another one I didn't know the colour of and it promises deep pink flowers soon.

The central bed is all planted up now (canes in the middle are to deter the pooing cat). Sweet peas, lavender, nasturtiums, sweet william, foxgloves, delphiniums, hollyhocks, lupins, iris and something I forgot to label! haha. It's like a chorus of Percy Grainger.

The decking pots are all coming along nicely, I love it on here, it is a complete jumble of sweetpeas, clematis, tomatoes, fruit bushes, geraniums and loads more.

The other side. The lovely standard baytree was a 40th birthday gift from a friend.

Sometimes a gamble ends up being a wonderful surprise. I bought this plant from B and Q last year, 10p because it was finished and unlabeled. It clung on like a small dried up weed over winter and then this happened! It is so pretty. I think it is nemesia but someone may like to put me right on that. A 10p bargain indeed.

The raised vegetable bed now has sown into it leeks, spring onions, runner beans, broad beans, lettuce, rocket, carrots and purple sprouting broccoli. Some are looking better than others (I have never had much success with leeks and carrots are a first for me)

The Tess of the d'Urbevilles rose is beginning it's climb up the obelisk. I planted a potato plant (the purple flowers) alongside it to hopefully entangle itself in there too.

While I was away I bought this tin bath, I though it would be perfect for something in the garden.

I have drilled holes in the base and added plenty of crocks. Next spring I thought it would look good absolutely filled with one colour of tulips, but for now, I have filled it with 22 bright red geraniums.

It should looks stunning when they all come out.

Not much left in seed trays now. There are some pots with fresia in, some with gladioli. Some night scented stock and some cornflowers, all in their seedling stage, but most things are looking good. Weirdly the worst thing that I tried to grow from seed this year was the lobelia. I tried two sorts and neither have come to much. Well, you live and learn.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Nice to be missed and a weekend in Brighton

Hello everyone. Big apologies for most of May being missed on my blog, I have pretty much been away since my last post, but had a lovely time. Plenty to blog about. I don't seem to have lost any followers but sorry for the massive gap.

Rather than drive home every weekend, I had a gorgeous long weekend in Brighton with a very good friend, visiting the open art houses which are part of the Brighton festival. For those of you who don't know, Brighton is a very artistic city and hundreds of artists open their houses up for the public to wander into every weekend in May and admire their artwork (and nose around the houses, fingering their dusty knick-knacks). I didn't buy anything, as most of it was very expensive but we had a lot of fun, admiring skill and sniggering at the people who are not so skilled but still think their artwork deserves £400 price tags.

Some people go to town decorating the front of their houses.

And some exhibits want to to kill you.

I have never really been to this city and it was good to be shown around by someone local and  knowledgeable. We visited the lanes, which are full of interesting shops that sell everything you could never want. Anyone for some dolls of pure evil?

It was perfect weather and the Pavillion looked lovely in the sunshine, as did we, of course.

and then a quick trip down the pier.

We went to lots of coffee shops and had fun just wandering around the museum and an old Regency house (with some very dubious art installations films of fish swimming backwards) inexplicable to my mind, but good for a laugh. The house itself was a wonderful example, although in the middle of renovation.

For a city break, this was a charming place and so much nicer a city to visit than London. I recommend it very highly. It gave me a much needed boost in the middle of a difficult few weeks away.

And many thanks to Adrian for a lovely weekend and very good photos (as you can see, they are a cut above my usual photographic offerings).

Next time, more on what has been happening in the garden at home, some sourdough delights and lemon curd.