Lovely weather for ducks…

…and toads. I spent so long moaning about the cold during the winter I hesitate to mention the heat, but in Norfolk over the last few days it’s been hot,hot,hot… It was lovely to wake up this morning to the gentle patter of rain, and good that the dry spell didn’t break with a thunderstorm and a deluge that just runs straight off and down the drains.

Higgins has spent a lot of time lying around, too hot to get up to mischief (mostly). We tried a cooling spray of water from the hose but as far as he was concerned it was rain, and he was very put out. This morning when he barked to go out and it really was raining, he just sat and growled at it to stop. When it finally eased off enough for a quick sortie round the garden he was most intrigued to meet one of these…

I’ve not seen him wandering around the garden before, but he must have been feasting on our slugs for a while because he was really rather large. I hope by now he’s found another comfy spot for pest control duty.

I’ve been nibbling my way around the veg patch for a few weeks now, mostly salad greens and carrot thinnings. The mange tout have been tasty and the pea flowers very pretty…

… but my raised beds are not really big enough for such straggly plants. I keep finding enormous pods under the collapsed foliage which are definitely only suitable for ‘mange’ing the bits out of the middle. The beetroot are looking great though, and the little ones I thinned out were delicious. We had the first two courgettes for lunch, thumb size, and the first few beans, french and runner are beginning to show. Oh, and the potatoes I planted in two big buckets are looking really healthy. I just hope there’s something happening below soil level.

I’ve been trying to get some colour into the pots in the courtyard area by the studio to make up for the fact that my front garden is suffering from a) the dry and the heat and b) my inability to get things to flower which will take over from the spring flowers, aquilegia, poppies and all the other things currently running to seed. I’m finding the black walls of the studio a good background for bright colours. It worked well for the primulas…

…and now they are over I’ve planted a vibrant mix of dahlias and geraniums.

We actually managed to beat the blackbirds to the cherries this year, probably because we’ve had the best crop ever.

We can never get many as the trees are quite tall, and pruned to give a high canopy of shade, but Will went up and did his orangutan impression and we managed a couple of pounds of sweet dark fruit.

Trying to make the most of them I found a recipe for pickled cherries on the internet. Unfortunately not a good recipe, the amounts were all wrong so I had to improvise and won’t know if it worked for a month, but if it does I will let you know and share the recipe. Looks pretty though…

Cherry jam required stoning the fruit. Oh dear…Tim came into the kitchen to what appeared to be a blood bath…Juice on the work top, the floor, most of the utensils, my hands, arms, clothes… There was only a pound of cherries. I ended up with just a jar and half of jam which allows for testing…absolutely delicious…but by the time I had cleaned up and bleached the kitchen the project was probably not an effective use of time. Anyone getting offered cherry jam when they come to my house will know they are very special!

I’ve also finished a poignant project. A while ago I lost Jan, my much loved Aunt, a patchwork enthusiast. Her daughters-in-law passed on two works in progress along with her sewing effects, and hoped I might be able to make them into the family heirlooms Jan had intended. I was a bit stumped with the first one. It was a long strip of hand sewn hexagons, three to five pieces in width, and long enough to be the width of a double quilt. Looking at the prepared pieces, and the fabrics I had to work with, I wasn’t going to be able to complete something that size. And anyway, I really wanted to keep it as predominately Jan’s work and adding another nine tenths to it would take mean it was more my project. In the end I divided it into three pieces, and rejoined them to make a rectangle, piecing in hexagons Jan had tacked to card (old Christmas cards in fact, and rather moving to find cards from my grandfather, and other relatives now passed away amongst them) until I had something about baby quilt size.

Now I had to keep my fingers crossed for a baby! Last month, little Euan arrived. He would have been Jan’s fourth grandchild and she would have been so happy. But at least I could pass on the quilt she had made so much of, with both our names on the back, to give him a cuddle …


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About penny

I live in Norfolk, England in a cottage on the edge of the Norfolk Broads where it can be peaceful and beautiful, or wet and muddy, or occasionally wild and windswept. With me is husband Tim, Henry the elderly and opinionated tabby cat, and Higgins, the miniature dachshund with a massive personality. You’ll find me chattering on about wool and textiles, knitting and crochet, recipes, books and patterns, exhibitions and shopping and of course, the adventures of a small dog! Planet Penny has a Facebook Page, you can find me on UK Handmade and I am featured on Channel4/4Homes Favourite Craft Blog List.

7 thoughts on “Lovely weather for ducks…

  1. vanessa

    Higgins you little charmer! Ellie and Douglas dislike the rain too, funny isn’t it?! Your Cherries! They look like designer specimens! Toads are lovely in a fascinatingly ugly sort of way, I always think they look so vulnerable, and it’s not their fault they’re so crusty looking, and they do great pest control don’t they. How lovely about the quilt, how touching, you’ve produced an heirloom with a wonderful story for future generations. It’s beautiful Penny. Love Vanessa xxx

  2. Geraldine

    You’ve made something lovely and just what she would have loved to make herself out of those scraps . Well done !
    Your gentle rain was certainly better than our two ferocious torrential rainstorms .We were lucky , the tomatoes survived but about half an hour away , houses were under water .
    I wasn’t allowed to comment on your last post , by the way , so I’m hoping this gets through .I always enjoy your posts so much !

  3. HilarySh

    Hi Penny, what a beautiful quilt! I love the idea of using greetings cards etc., for the templates. Hilary. x

  4. Kit

    Please can we borrow your toad to munch his way through all the molluscs that have devoured my verbenas, poppies, canary creeper et al. I even offered them beer to divert their attention, but no……… it’s war and the underside of my wellies!

  5. greenrabbitdesigns

    What a really lovely story about the quilt, I’m sure that’s the happy ending your Aunt would have wanted!
    Delicious looking cherries you have there.
    And Higgins, how cute! 🙂
    Vivienne x

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