30 May 2013

The Birds In My Garden

This morning, as I was hanging the washing on the line before going off to the market, I happened to look up at the sky. Behind my house and pretty much all around are trees so as you can imagine, we have lots of birds. As I stood there, like a demented loon, taking in the lovely morning, a bird hopping up a telegraph pole across the road caught my eye. It was a Great Spotted Woodpecker. I know this because after it had flown away, giving me a flash of it's bright red backside as it went, I dashed inside and googled it! I was thrilled. I know we have woodpeckers around here because I hear them all the time while I'm in the garden, pecking away at the trees but it's the first time I have ever seen one. It really  made my day. It also got me thinking about all the birds we have around here and I have decided that I am going to try and keep a record of the birds I see. (I also watched "The Big Year" again recently so I'm a bit obsessed).
Picture Courtesy of RSPB
Anyway, from now on, I will be keeping a bit of a bloggy journal and posting each week about the birds I have seen in the area. First things first though, I will definitely need to buy a pair of binoculars! Maybe from a car boot sale or something because although a lot of the birds around here are quite big and easy to spot, like the woodpecker and jays and buzzards and things, some of them are much smaller and it would be a nightmare to try and identify them without a pair of binoculars (there is a teeny tiny wren that hops around outside my kitchen window and it's the smallest cutest thing you can imagine but trying to spot it on a tree a few hundred feet away would be almost impossible!!). Trouble is, I'm now straying a little further into nerd territory than usual but what the heck, most of the people who know think I'm a total geek anyway so nothing new there :-)

I'm not sure how successful I will be at photographing the birds. I only have a very basic camera so the pictures might just end up being a series of specks in the distance. Again, I guess I will just have to see what I can do but, if they are specks, I will find a nice colourful internet picture to go with the speck in the photo so at least I have a decent record of what I see. Anyway, here is bird number two from this morning although the pictures doesn't really show it's size. It's a Jay. The first time I saw one of these I was amazed at how big they are and as I said, the picture doesn't really show the size particularly well. Still, they are beautiful nevertheless. I'm sure if I had had the time this morning I could have spent ages out there looking for birds but in the five minutes I was out there these two were the ones that I saw. Anyway ....... watch this space.
Picture Courtesy of wildlifeupclose.co.uk

27 May 2013

Garden Lovliness and the Start of my Favourite Time of Year

I had a lovely day in the garden yesterday. It was sunny with a gentle breeze and I pottered about to my hearts content. I planted my cucumbers into bigger pots and did the same to my courgettes. I also potted on my tomato plants, again into bigger pots and moved some of my other stuff around. I haven't found a spot for my rosa rugosa yet but I have discovered that it has some pretty mean thorns! Still, that should come in handy to keep the nasty neighbours at bay. I think I am going to plant it along the boundary fence that runs down the side of my house between my house and their driveway. It will look lovely when the flowers bloom and I will be able to see them from my kitchen window.

I'm very behind with my veg planting. Not only is my garden completely out of control at the moment but the weather down here has been so cold. Even yesterday morning, there was frost on the windscreen of my car when I went out at about 7.30am. This brings me to the other part of the title. My favourite time of the year ............. Car Boot Sale Season. For those of you who don't know, I am a bit of a carbootaholic. I love rummaging about to find a bargain and I love the atmosphere of the whole thing, particularly the mandatory Sunday morning bacon butty from the catering van ....... you can smell the deliciousness as soon as you get out of the car. So it was with great glee that a hopped out of bed at 6.30am yesterday morning to give the dogs a quick run in the field before setting off to my nearest car boot sale. It was the third one of the season and so far, I have bought some preserving jars for 50p, three fabulous brass wall lights for £4 which are destined to be sold on to a lady I know, a cut glass trinket pot with a cute little pointy lid for 20p, a china teacup and saucer for 50p which is destined to be made into a candle and some wonderful unmounted rubber stamps for £1 per pack. Quite a haul and quite a bargain. I was back home by about 9.30am and as I said in the post yesterday, I had to wait a while before I could start clattering around in the garden. Fingers crossed for some more fine days so I can try and get my garden under control again :-)

Anyway, here are some more pictures I snapped in my garden in the early morning sun. 

26 May 2013

The Saga of the Trerulefoot Worms.

Wow, three posts in one week, not bad considering my track record over the last couple of months has been appalling. Actually, I'm sitting on the sofa waiting for the sun to get a little higher before I go out and start doing some much-needed gardening. My shiny new petrol mower arrived a couple of weeks ago but the minute I put the thing together, it rained. It then rained on pretty much every day off I have had since, until earlier this week when I managed to finally attack the patio, which resembled a field. The plan today is to attack the lawn, which also looks like a field. I did mow a path from the garden gate to the compost bin before I did anything else though, so I could empty the grass basket on the mower without getting completely soaked.

Not so shiny after mowing some of the dreaded patio :-)

Anyway. You might be wondering about the title of the post, given the saga of the slow worms on the living room light fitting the other day (Hmmm I do seem to have been having a lot of sagas lately). I am happy and somewhat relieved to say that these are worms of a much less scary nature. At the market, one of the stall holders, Bridget, apart from all the fabulous local fruit and veg and plants that she sells, often comes in with some amazingly weird and wonderful items that she also sells on her stall. A couple of weeks ago, along came some terracotta worms, designed to sit on your plant pots . Since then, the worms seem to have taken on a life of their own. The people who came to the market loved them. They were bought by people from all over the country and some have even ventured even further afield, one of them went across the Channel to Disneyland and one of them is off to Africa very shortly! They have been photographed on various stalls in various guises (One now has an eye patch because someone dropped him and he lost an eye!) and things seem to be getting a little crazy. Still, it's all good fun, although just how mad the people who visit the market think we are is quite another matter. 

Anyway, here are a couple of pictures of my worm, Stanley just hanging around on my stall. 

You can check out the adventures of the worms Here :-)

Right, the sun is now shining, the day is warming up, the neighbours are awake enough not to mind if I bang and clatter around too much so I am off to do some gardening. I have cucumber and courgette plants to pot on, some runner beans to plant out, more clematis to plant, a rosa rugosa plant from my friend Bridget to find a space for, some willow sticks to plant to try and screen the mess the neighbours have made putting in their sewage treatment thing and a massive lawn to tame. I could be gone a while. 

23 May 2013

Market Days and a Thrifty Supper

I realised today that it's been almost four months since I started at the Trerulefoot Local Produce Market. I can't believe it's been so long. I have to say I still love being there. My biggest problem, quite frankly, is coming up with new and different things to put on my stall and then trying to decide which of them sell well and which I should put on hold for a while. In order to try and make the most of my stall, I have tried to come up with seasonal things so, for instance, at the moment I have some oilcloth garden kneelers on my stall in the vain hope that, at some point, the sun will shine, summer will appear and people will want to do a bit of gardening. I also made some cute peg bags, again in anticipation of some sunny, line-drying weather. 

One of my new peg bags .... loving this fabric, it's so cheerful.
A couple of the oilcloth garden kneelers
I'm also working on some cute little lavender scented Cornish pixie houses. I have made a couple so far and there will be some photos to follow when I have made a few more. Maybe I will make a whole pixie village to take to the market :-)

Finally, although I now do most of my food shopping at the market now, I'm still thrifty enough to grab a bargain when I see one so when I spotted a couple of bags of reduced peppers in the supermarket the other day, I grabbed them to make a huge pot of ratatouille. It was delicious and the following day, I used what was left to make some stuffed peppers. I just added some partially cooked rice, a tablespoon of red pesto, some chopped garlic and some cubes of cheese to the ratatouille, stuffed it into the de-seeded peppers and popped them into the oven to cook until the peppers were tender. I love this kind of cooking, making meals from things I have in the house. It's a real challenge and oddly satisfying. Anyway, as I happened to have my camera handy, having been snapping away at my kitchen dresser ready for some before and after pictures (I'm going to paint it, I'm just trying to decide what colour), I snapped a quick picture of the peppers :-)

22 May 2013

"Snakes on a Light Fitting"!!!!

You have heard of the film "Snakes on a Plane" well last night, here in deepest darkest Cornwall, it was "Snakes In The Living Room Dangling From The Wall  Light". Now, I've always thought that I wasn't overly scared of snakes. I wouldn't go out of my way to find one and I wouldn't keep one as a pet but for the most part, I assumed that if I saw one I probably wouldn't freak out. Turns out I WAS SOOOO WRONG!!!!

Last night, at 9pm, my daughter KT and I settled down to watch the Mary Portas program about the regeneration of the high streets as this week, the featured town was Liskeard, about 5 miles from where we live. About 15 minutes into the program, I happened to notice, out of the corner of my eye, that some of the cats were a bit agitated and making a beeline for the piano at the far end of the room. 

Now, I have to explain a bit about my house. It's quite old. It used to be three foundry cottages and in the early 1980's they were converted into a house by some utter cowboy! That's the only way to describe the job that was done. Corners were cut all over the place and nothing is straight or level or square or fits together properly but it's solid and it has walls which are at least a foot and a half thick so it's cool in summer and warm in winter and for the most part, it's a nice house. 

So, back to the cats ......... 

As I turned my head to see what they were looking at, I saw two writhing objects hooked onto the wall light at the far end of the room with a whole bunch of cats sitting on top of the piano trying to get to them! I am ashamed to admit it but I squealed. Gone was the rational scientist, gone was the practical, tackle anything person that I usually am and in it's place was a squealing, panicking wimp shouting "Oh my God .... SNAKES!!!!!!

In my defence, the thing I was mostly worried about was the cats being bitten because they were very very keen to get at them but other than that, there is really no excuse for my wimp-like behaviour. Anyway, amongst all the panic of me squealing, my daughter leaping onto the sofa and the cats doing their utmost to get at them, I managed to pluck up the courage to get closer and have a look. Armed with a long stick I crept over to the piano to see what they were. There were two of them. Each about 45cm long. One hooked over the curly bit of the light fitting and one hanging on to the tail of the one on the light by it's mouth. It was a totally surreal sight. They had apparently fallen through the ceiling, probably after getting into the walls of the house from the big wall that runs all the way along the outside of the house. 

Realising that if they fell off the light I would have to move the piano and try and find the little buggers, the only option was to get them off the light before they fell and into some sort of container. Luckily, by this point, somewhere in my turned-to-mush-girly-wimp brain, I had realised that they weren't actually snakes, although just to be on the safe side I did Google them before poking them with the stick! They were slow worms! Oddly enough, knowing they were only slow worms didn't ease the panic completely although it did ease it enough for me to be able to disentangle them from the light and put them into a bag.

A few minutes later, after the panic had subsided a good hundred or so notches, I open the bag so I could have a good look at them. They were, in fact, quite sweet little things with teeny tongues that darted out just like snakes, even though they aren't actually snakes. Sadly, I didn't take any photos before I took them out to the field to let them go, mostly due to the fact that my hands were still shaking although with hindsight, I totally wish I had. Anyway, here is a picture of a slow worm, for those of you who have never seen one and a few interesting facts. 

Picture Courtesy of www.froglife.org

Anguis fragilis

Where to find them
The slow-worm is often found in gardens and is widespread throughout the British Isles; it is naturally absent from Ireland. 

Slow-worms are lizards, though they are often mistaken for snakes. Unlike snakes they have eyelids, a flat forked tongue and can drop their tail to escape from a predator. 

Slow-worms have a shiny appearance. Males are a greyish brown and females are brown with dark sides. Some females possess a thin line down the back. Juvenile slow-worms are very thin and are initially around 4cm long. Juveniles have black bellies and gold or silver dorsal sides, sometimes with a stripe running along the length of the body.

Unlike other British reptiles, slow-worms rarely bask in the open, instead preferring to hide under logs or in compost heaps. Slow-worms feed on slow-moving prey, particularly small slugs. Like common lizards, female slow-worms incubate their eggs internally and ‘give birth’ in the late summer.

Slow-worms are protected by law in Great Britain against being deliberately killed, injured or sold/traded in any way.

Just to mention that there is a giveaway going on over at Frugal Queen's blog. Click this link to hop on over to her blog and enter.