Sunday, September 06, 2020

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Sunday, June 21, 2015

One of the finest views in Hampshire......

NGS Open Day at Farleigh Wallop, view from the patio doors.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Walking in Wiltshire

Amazing part of the world, and on my doorstep more or less.

Lovely pub at the end of the 5 miles, I shall return!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

I'm jamming....

Rhubarb & vanilla to be precise!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Bumper crop of rhubarb this year

So I think Saturday will be spent making rhubarb & vanilla jam!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015


The road outside my house is being resurfaced this week..... no access most of the day today!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Fledged then dead

I found these two dead Blue Tit chicks on the driveway this morning whilst getting ready for my 08:00 appointment with the local Council Waste Recycling Centre (it's empty before 08:30 on a Sunday!).

I have lots of bird boxes around the grounds with lot's of activity this year, let's hope the parents can raise a second or third brood.

Friday, April 18, 2014

2nd crop of the day.....

And todays second crop from the garden is Rhubarb.... the pink stalks are now being prepped into julienne strips and poached in a vanilla & marsala syrup for a dinner party dessert tomorrow night served with a Panna Cotta. The rest will be served as a crumble.

The garden produce season has started.....

The sun is out, the strawberry plants have been thinned & the first crop from the garden this year is Asparagus. It will be lightly steamed later, then wrapped in parma ham topped with parmesan shavings & grilled, served with a small salad and a cheeky Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc..... happy days!

Monday, April 07, 2014

Bargain of the week.......

I know I don't need another camera, but this offer was too good to turn down....  Currys have this full HD, 12 megapixel, 20x optical zoom, GPS enabled digital camera for just £129.00 - more gadgets & features than you can shake a stick at, but more importantly, it takes really good, crisp clear photo's very easily.

The downside, I now have 7 different Canon battery chargers on my study desk.....

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A stormy night....

I went for dinner at a friends house in Amport on Friday night - a non-Valentines Day evening, works for me.

After a couple of glasses of recently discovered Bourgogne Aligote I had helped my host purchase from BBR in Basingstoke, dinner was about to be served when the power went off, luckily it was only off momentarily, so the euphoric cheer of the dinner party guests probably masked what was going on outside, this tree had fallen across the road & rested on the power & phone cables. Needless to say the exit at 1:00AM to meet the taxi was a bit of assault course test, but we managed.
When I went back earlier today to pick up the car, I saw this sight, the water level has risen so far that water is spouting through the manhole covers along the road. Water was also spurting water through the vent holes the retaining wall if the garden creating a wonderful lake on the patio & a river coursing through the gravel driveway, nothing like the floods in Surrey, but worrying enough.
A little further down the road, the sound of chainsaws continued & this huge tree was next on the list for firewood..... makes my broken fence panels & posts seem an insignificant inconvenience.

Monday, January 27, 2014

A coveted item finally purchased......

I have for years wanted a KitchenAid Artisan mixer, but the hefty price tag & the fact that I had a perfectly good Kenwood mixer in the cupboard prevented me from logically purchasing another mixer.

But now, after a good number of years service & recent few weeks of bread making, the Kenwood has finally given up the ghost & blown up. So now I have an all white satin painted & frosted glass KitchenAid mixer, the spectrum of colours available was mind boggling, but I'll stick with the clean sharp white. The catalogue of attachments seems quite good & comparable to the old Kenwood Chef range that my Mum used to have, so I'm sure I will invest in a couple of those in due course... but in the meantime it comes with a dough hook, so more bread making is on the cards.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Salisbury Cathedral tower tour

The internal wooden scaffolding structure of the c1320 spire at Salisbury Cathedral which is hollow, as seen on one of their amazing tours. A windy day made for some exciting climbs up stairs with the whistling noise all around, some very scared tourists and some disappointing views from a vantage point atop the tower (209ft up!)

Friday, December 13, 2013

Salisbury Christmas Market 2013

Particularly quiet at Salisbury Christmas Market this evening, loads of stalls, fantastic selection of food on sale, lovely smells floating around of Mulled wine, hot chocolate, churros & even a Swiss Raclette stall!

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

A day out in Winchester.....

Lovely day off, spent the whole day in Winchester in & around the Cathedral. Lunch at the Old Vine and an evening shopping at the Christmas Market in the Cathedral grounds. The Old Vine is a A new find & one I shall be revisiting, a lovely pub in Cathedral square, an old fashioned dining room with log fire, excellent food, great service & good value.
Took a guided tour of the tower which included a rooftop walk, as we were the only 2 people booked and they were training a new guide, the 90 minutes turned into 2.5 hours with the guides showing us all of the hidden bits that bigger tours don't get to see. The photograph shows looking directly south from the very top of Winchester Cathedral, Winchester College to the left of the picture, the Wykeham Arms in the streets below, St Cross just below the horizon & in the distance on a clear day you can see the Isle of Wight, you could just make out the flares at Fawley today.

My photograph from the "most photographed spot in Europe" according to the guide. It is one of the largest cathedrals in England, with the longest nave and greatest overall length of any Gothic cathedral in Europe. It was said that Hitler didn't bomb the area, as he wanted to be crowned ruler of England in the cathedral when the war was won, such is the historical significance of this City as a powerbase for England. It is said that at one time one third of the available currency [gold & silver] was stored in the Chancery in the cathedral.
The Christmas market by night, lovely in the middle of the week, heaving madness at weekends apparently.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

A tree reduced to logs......

... but only after it was struck down in the gales last month.

A local huge cedar tree felled by the winds has been converted to fire wood for the winter. Lot's & lot's of lovely slow burning firewood, makes me wish I had an open fire again.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The stark contrast of Autumn colour

A processed monochrome shot of a tree I used to walk past every day when a schoolboy, walking down from John Hanson to my father's shop behind the Station Hotel for a lift home when he had finished work.
A full colour of the same shot, I have only slightly tweaked the colours & contrast with Snapseed & Paintshop Pro, very beautiful even today without much sunshine. Lot's of the leaves have dropped, but still a load more to go.

I've used Snapseed on the iPad for a while, but was very unhappy to see Google had withdrawn the Windows version, fixed that problem now though!


Sunday, November 03, 2013

Autumnal walk at RHS Wisley

Last visit here was in May, much quieter today. The colours were lovely, still quite a few things in blossom. I'm still discovering new areas of the gardens to explore, even after half a dozen visits.

The last of the fruit on the tree's, free pickings of the windfallen fruit could be had.

Restaurants were busy, but efficient service was had. Food as always was excellent, and actually not too expensive. Lot's of nice Christmas present idea's on show & the bookshop as always had a couple of stunning garden books to add to the collection of coffee table titles.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

A walk in the (Royal) Park.....

A walk from Bishopsgate to Windsor was had today, 3.5 miles each way, it would have been better without the Windsor Half Marathon taking place, but nevertheless a nice, warm, sunny autumnal day was had. Saw lots of flora & fauna in the morning, the start of rutting season meant that the stags were barking & displaying, but as soon as the masses arrived everything went off to hide.

A return trip soon for the Autumn colours will be had.

Quite surprised how close you could get to this stag, I was expecting a Japanese tourist to go & sit next to it & have a photo taken.
The standard view from the George III statue looking north along the Long Walk to Windsor Castle, lovely spot, shame about the aircraft noise!

At the top of the Long Walk close to the Castle gates, these willow arches have been erected to commemorate something. Quite interesting, but not quite as interesting to note that in the 1800's this area was particularly known for the loitering prostitutes allegedly servicing the needs of the gated community within!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Finishing touches to my own Summerhouse

After last weekend's antics of helping a neighbour erect their summerhouse, I decided this weekend to tackle the final finishing touches to my own summerhouse.

There had always been a plan to cover over the exposed part of the concrete slab base with something, but I hadn't really formulated any plans of exactly what to do.

So here is my solution, a bit of decking, stained green to match the lawn (when it's not parched - I'm not complaining about the weather!)

Much measuring & sawing was done and I'm very pleased with the result.

Monday, May 27, 2013

A river runs through it.....

This is the first time I had visited this garden in Longparish, nearly 30 years after first knowing of it's existence.

Absolutely stunning, 15 acres of beautiful English country gardens with the River Test flowing right through the middle of it.


On the way to garden #1 on the National Garden Scheme open day in Longparish.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

South of France.....

.... no, it's the South of Buckinghamshire! Cliveden to be precise, a good time was had, a stunning place & a beautiful hotel, it could do with a bit of sprucing up, but nonetheless, it was lovely.

Lot's of history & absolutely stunning on a sunny Sunday, the Duke of Sutherland had the house rebuilt after a fire, the current form and his vision for an Italianate Mediterranean Villa with a veranda overlooking the Parterre garden is wonderful.

The house was designed by Charles Barry, architect of the Houses of Parliament, similarities at Cliveden can be seen. Unusually not made of stone, it is brick built with concrete façade.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

RHS Gardens at Wisley

A good day out was had at RHS Wisley, the car parks were filling fast, but the Ghurka's had it all under control.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Refreshed Strawberry bed

After a bit of thought (wondering whether to leave as was for a 2nd season & let nature take it's course, or refresh & replant) I decided to dig out & replant the strawberry bed, propagate some new plants & get rid of all the runners & dead leaves etc.

So I now have a refreshed & renewed bed of healthy 2nd year plants that should crop well this summer.

I also have 25+ strong new plants that I plan to put up in long trays in full sun on the patio as trailing plants off the ground to avoid slugs & snails.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

et voila.... l'asperge!

Noted on a lunchtime stroll around the garden was this, the first sign of an asparagus crop! I know I won't get a great harvest as this was only planted a year ago (almost to the day!), but nice to see it doing well.

The potatoes & garlic are also showing already, the warm soil temperature is helping quite a bit, I just hope that the threatened colder snap next week won't knock everything back!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Finally able to get into the garden....

Last weekend I finally managed to start preparing for some work in the garden, a bit of tidying up, digging over the raised beds, removing the old strawberry plants ready for sorting & re-planting & I even managed to mow the lawn. The first crop of forced rhubarb was had last week as well, just lightly stewed with some Demerera sugar & a vanilla pod.

Today I have planted my chitted Red Duke of York potatoes. Fingers crossed for a good crop, they were wonderful eating last year so have planted a couple more, some garlic & horseradish went in today as well, then rain stopped play.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Wine of the week.....

Whilst having a browse around, I was persuaded to buy a bottle of this last week in a new(ish) local Wine shop in Stockbridge - Wine Utopia.

I was on the look-out for some Greek wine (other than Retsina) to take to a Greek themed dinner party, got chatting to the Shop Manager about New Zealand wines produced by the Stanley Estate & got onto the Albariño grape variety, which is one that I knew nothing about.

A lovely light, white wine, the grape in mostly grown in north west Spain, but appears to be making an appearance in New Zealand & California.

Well worth a try in my opinion & was even a wine choice on Saturday Kitchen today.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Long overdue (short) film review

Ironically this will be short review as it was a very loooong film. Les Miserable was seen yesterday, having seen the trailer for it last year I thought it was a must see, but I wasn't sure after the reviews I had seen later, most of which were positive, but I wasn't overly keen on the 99% musical delivery (I'm not a fan of musical theatre).

Simplistic view.... Hugh Jackman was OK, Russell Crowe wasn't, Helena Bonham-Carter & Sacha Barron-Cohen steal the show at every appearance.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A skeletal Hurricane....

this was spotted at Thruxton, a skeletal Hurricane airframe being rebuilt was rolled out for ground runs today. One of two being worked on at Classic Aero.

Hopefully the completed aircraft will grace the skies in a few months time. After seeing the Spitfire G-ILDA roll out here a few years ago, it will be good to hear the roar of the iconic WWII aircraft again.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Never Knowingly Undersold.....

Whilst I like & trust the mantra "Never Knowingly Undersold" it isn't always true.....  this Rope-knot doorstop is £28 in John Lewis, yet only £6 in Wilkinsons.

Exactly the same item, standard price, no sale items, no offers.

Ideal for my summerhouse.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The first sign it's getting colder....

Normally the first success of the year with The Big Cheese is always an indicator of The Big Freeze......

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I have dipped my toe......

..... into the Sonos revolution.

After a long time thinking about it I took up an offer to by a Sonos system, or the start of one at least.

Controlled by my iPad with a free App, it was a complete breeze to setup 20 minutes from start to finish.

I think more systems will be added in due course........

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Autumn colours.....

I saw these in the beech hedge on my driveway earlier today, they looked stunning in the brilliant sunshine.

Amazing autumnal colours this year in the UK.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Pumpkin Pie tested on guests

Seeing the shops full of Halloween stuff & the crates of "Carving Pumpkins" I decided to buy one & make various things from it - starting with a Pumpkin Pie.

The recipe called for it to be packed full of sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger & allspice, basically to give the bland flesh of the pumpkin some flavour.

I saw a recipe for a meringue covered pie, so gave it a go. It turned out very well & dinner guests loved it.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A visit to Wisley Gardens

A grand day out was had at Wisley, it's a place I've driven past on hundreds of occassions, but never quite found the time to go there... until today.

I wasn't aware of the sheer scale of the 170+ acres of grounds, nor the diversity of it's planting.

The rain kept me in the amazing glasshouse for a while longer than I would normally have devoted to it, but an interesting place it was to wait for the rain to stop.

Lot's & lot's of fruit tree's bearing wonderful coloured apples, pears, quince as well as a wide variety of berries.

I shall go back in a different season.