Monday, 2 January 2017

Photo Project 2017: Flowers

Another year and another photo project. 

Over the last few years I've tried to take a weekly photo either in or from the garden that illustrates the changing of the seasons: I've focused on the potager through the year, or the Pic de Montaigu (above) as seen from the house. Last year was a look at a large oak tree (below) that stands on the edge of our garden, and dominates it in the summer, and the unmanaged woodland that faces it on the opposite boundary.

This year I have decided to try something a little different, and find a flower in bloom to photograph each week. Most of the year this will be very easy, although finding a different variety may be more of a challenge.

The first few months will be the toughest, although there are always a few winter stalwarts to be found, like the rosemary (above).

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Garden: The Year of Disastrous Leeks

While the summer might be all tomatoes and aubergines, courgettes and basil, the winter is all about deep hearty stews, cheesy gratins and satisfying pies. 

Leek, lentil and smoked sausage.
All of the latter need leeks - leeks, lentils and smoked sausage cooked cassoulet style in the oven with a bread crumb topping stirred in half way through is about as good as it gets after a day on the slopes. Baked leeks under a blanket of cheese sauce - strong cheddar back in the UK or a mature Cantal home in France - served with roast spuds and parsnips and some deep green crinkly cavolo nero makes a powerful alternative roast when we have vegetarians visiting, or have just run out of cash for the month. Leek and bacon pie, double crust and oozing with smoky juices, or a simple leek and mushroom quiche, served with chips, of course are the things I like forward to in the colder months. Frugal yet flavoursome food that relies on a few bought staples and the garden's bounty.

This year will be rather different because I spent most of yesterday digging up and binning my entire leek crop. In late June I spent two back breaking days in mid-thirties heat planting out over two hundred little leeklings - dib hole, drop in plant, add a scoop of garden compost and water, then repeat two hundred or so times. The next day I replanted the twenty or so that an inquisitive blackbird had pulled from its hole.

Mid November and still healthy.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Book Review: A Christmas Outing by Jonathan Hill

It is a long time since I've found myself laughing out loud over a book (note to self - read more fun stuff) but this quick short story is just brilliantly funny. Anyone who has read Jonathan Hill's stories about the accident prone Maureen will know that he can handle comedic scenes, but this is an entire step up in class. His observation is first class: when did he meet my family?