SNV30239

SNV30239

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Sunday, 24 June 2012

Days of Open Gardens

Driving along the country lanes, there are a few signs that gladden my heart. "Cream teas served here" is one of them, but the sign that really gets me going is "Open Gardens"...
There's nothing more delightful than whiling away an afternoon, being invited into someone else's garden. Of course, the garden is always on it's best behaviour......it's been manicured, pampered and prepared for the big moment.

 Garden tools are sharpened up, cleaned , and stored neatly, and the owners of the gardens look relaxed as they cheerfully welcome you into their gardens, even though you know that for some, their knees and backs are aching after hours of work getting the gardens into tip top shape.

Every year, I'm an avid fan of the yellow Book from the National Gardens Scheme which lists all the gardens open in aid of a number of charities, including Macmillan Cancer Support and Marie Curie cancer care.
But I love it when villages open their gardens...and this weekend that's exactly what villagers nearby have done....


Saddington is a fairly small village...it has a church, a pub and a sailing club but that's about it. It's a hilltop village though, with stunning views from one side of the village over the Saddington Reservoir......

But first, the welcoming committee as I parked my car.....




There were fourteen gardens open ...one of the smallest, but cleverly planted was Rose Cottage....and as I walked through into the garden , there were wafts of the gloriously perfumed pink  Gertrude Jekyll rose on the air....I have to buy one!


I regularly drive through Saddington...I have friends living there too, but the beauty of  walking around  a village is that you get to see what 's hidden. And up a track I've never been before was  a beautiful thatched cottage



with a lovely large garden ...




Up another track was another large garden....with quite a few plant rarities and various features which caught my eye....here's one of them



There were also plants and crafts to buy...Anne Kottler who lives in the village sold her handmade cards and works of art....





And then across the other side of the village were the gardens with views of the reservoir....



Wouldn't you like a view like this?




The Old Rectory,  which is split into two houses, also looks over the reservoir .....but standing drinking in the view from the house on the left (which belongs to a friend), I turned around ....a lovely timeless country garden....

The weather yesterday was rather mercurial....breezy, one minute faint sunshine, the next dark clouds....especially when I was at Saddington Hall......but even the darkness can't hide the glorious wild meadow planted a couple of years ago....uniting the hall with the rolling countryside beyond






but with brand new landscaping at the side of the Hall....


All in all a great afternoon...for being inspired by what other gardeners have achieved, how they've utilised their space. An interesting afternoon eavesdropping on other visitors too. The knowledgeable ones....who insist on calling everything by their latin names and suggesting better partners for planting, the bitchy ones..."Tasteful? No, I don't think so..."

Some of the men being dragged around the village by their keen wives....."Look, you go off and look at a few others, I'll just nip to the pub for a pint"....and the majority, like me, who admired, who loved the genuine empathy between gardeners and who appreciated the generosity of others opening their gardens for a good cause.

But some visitors weren't interested by any of the above .....there were more important things to do....




If you live in Leicestershire, the gardens are open today until 5pm!

Today's track...Sean Hayes...and "garden"....I adore his voice


Monday, 18 June 2012

A day of cakes and crafts

 Sunday afternoon....and I headed to Loughborough to meet my friend Becca (from the Make Do and Spend blog). The treat in store was a garden party and secret craft fair with the promise of cakes thrown in.
When I say cakes, I mean lots of them, and very tasty ones too. But more about the cakes later.....

Pete and Janet were the hosts


They run the Refectory Table....which offers secret creative courses  http://therefectorytable.com/
Pete is a business coach and a Business Editor at Craft and Design magazine...and Janet, as well as being a creative professional, runs the Loughborough branch of the Clandestine Cake Club.
See, I told you there was lots of cakes....exceedingly good ones...

This chocolate cake , a homage to the works of sculptor Anish Kapoor,  was made by Janet. An intense, rich, moist chocolate cake ....





And look at this impressive concoction......well, I did more than look at it...I had to try a piece of this too.....



But the afternoon wasn't just about cake......there were also some seriously talented artists there too.....
with beautiful, vibrant cards from Helen Rhodes...




More clever cards plus prints and textiles too from Sue Bulmer.I bought the perfect card for a friend from her...and would love to see more of her textile work.




Also there was  Maxine Greer  whose creations are very different....., she makes paper birds - lots of them,with quite different personalities I thought....





Fabulous aren't they?

And then it was back to the kitchen table for some more cake!


And more cake.....the Damien Hirst cake....




Trying to talk with a mouth stuffed full of cake proved surprisingly easy  for most of us...but there were lulls in the conversations where the odd "Oooooohh", "Mmnnn" and gasps of pleasure filled in the gaps.

I had a great chat about vegetables in cakes with a lovely, very knowledgeable lady while I devoured her luscious lemon drizzle cake...and then it was time to look and admire other crafts.....


I admired Kay van Bellen's quirky illustrations which remind me so much of 1920 and 1930's European childrens' books.....




And then it was time to go into the garden . After all it was a garden party and the sun was shining.....



there were more crafts on display outside....and there were lots of little nooks to sit and eat cake.....






 I also talked again to the lemon drizzle lady ....it turns out she's Lyn Hill, the actual founder of the Clandestine Cake Club, who organised her first cake club about eighteen months ago.


According to Lyn  "It was purely a need in getting more people together over Tea and Cake, without having to do all the baking myself. The people can do the baking and they can invite a guest. It was that simple”

 What a cracking idea......cake loving people getting together at secret venues only revealed to people attending. So full of admiration for how she's set it up..there's clubs all over the country and even across the Channel, and even better news,  there's a recipe book on the way.

But it was also time for Becca and I to be on our way....



By now I was waddling back to the car....replete, full, stuffed...whatever you like to call it....after tasting so many delicious cakes, and seeing so many visual treats.

A simply perfect way of spending a Sunday afternoon..... 

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Day of firsts....

The last  three weeks with Boo, our new puppy have been magical. She's melted hearts, changed our lives and is the most soppiest , affectionate dog you ever did see.

But with all the family around for the Jubilee celebrations including Mama - my mum, our daughter , her boyfriend,our eldest son, and our nephew,  Boo has had lots of fun and lots of fuss. Since they've been gone though, she's been a bit of  a madam, demanding attention and getting quite nazzy when she doesn't have it.

She needs to get out, and now it's virtually a week after last injection, she's had her first day out today.

I've taken her on a couple of short car rides to the village down the hill. So far Boo hasn't been happy in the car, and today was no exception....
Look at that face.....oh so cute but saying can I sit on your knee while you drive?

But there was a surprise for her at the bottom of the hill.I was taking her to see her sister called Pepper, who was bought by friends of ours. Tina also has a border terrier called Billie....and we all went for a walk to the field where Tina keeps her horse.

It was the first time Boo has walked on a lead properly. I've been trying in the garden but she wasn't impressed. Parking her little bottom firmly on the grass , she kept refusing to move and trying to bite the lead. But with her sister and Billie leading the way, she trotted along like an old pro.....




Then there was the field where we let the girls off their leads, and Boo and Pepper set to ....play fighting for about half an hour. They didn't draw breath, trying to establish just who the more dominant.



Look, here's Pepper....apart from the flash of white on her chest , are'nt they alike?



And when they both got too rough, Billie kept them both in check.  Then it was time for a treat..(Boo is on the right) and  time to get back.


I put Boo in the car, and before I had even switched the engine on, she was curled up nearly asleep




She was cream crackered.....and strangely enough , so was I.....

But when we got home, it was only 6.30pm. I fancied a track to wake me up. A real belter and a blast from the past. from Bell X1. Such a brilliant Irish band who I last saw in Birmingham  about six years ago.
It perked me up a treat...and while I was singing the lyrics at the top of my voice, Boo slept and gently snored....



What tracks are the ones to wake you you up - and make you sing out loud?

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Jubilee days....

Well, what a week it's been..and I can officially declare that I am now jubileed out. No more wall to wall coverage of the jubilee on television, or in the newspapers please. No, I mean it. It was lovely, despite the weather, and I thoroughly enjoyed the pomp and ritual in London,plus the more down to earth celebrations here in Leicestershire.

On Sunday I was working...visiting and broadcasting live from quite a few jubilee events . One was in Kibworth where the local pub ,The Coach and Horses,  transformed itself into a boat with funnels, life rafts, illuminated portholes and a bow.


The landlord Andrew Southerdon became the Admiral of the fleet and thousands of people turned in nautical gear of some sort or other...as naval officers, ratings, gondoliers, pirates et al.  Slightly surreal as Leicestershire is one of the most landlocked counties in the country.

Nearly eighty tables under gazebos snaked down the main street of the village..and Michael Wood , the broadcaster and historian who based his " History of England" TV series there, was also present.

Katie Fforde, the romantic novelist described him on twitter as the thinking woman's crumpet.....and do you know what? After interviewing him, I can confirm she's right!


In Wigston I met a Queen.....who really got into the spirit of things....his name was Paul and he had the deepest voice.....





But on Monday, our village celebrated the Jubilee. With only twenty six houses, the celebrations were slightly more modest than those in London....

Children from the village got dolled up in fancy dress, and led by Tom and Michelle on trumpets, marched down from the twelfth century church to the village green....

to the modest marquee which seated eighty of us!


We all tucked into cornation chicken, salads, breads, puddings and we got through quite a lot of wine and beer....



There were union jacks everywhere...


Even the youngest baby there was very patriotic.... 


Apart from the flags there were a number of vintage cars on display too....some the men in our village have a thing about them.Willie, Brian, Tom and John are enthusiasts...and they have a lovely collection of classic cars between them.... 

Isn't she beautiful? 

And what about these...love the Riley and the 1924 Rolls Royce at the end....


But there was a space, so my eldest son decided to put his classic, clapped out Saxo into the line up!




And as the sun came out, it was  time for fun and games on the green by the old village school....


A lovely day when the whole village gathered and celebrated in a very traditional way. Brilliantly  organised by Georgina Whitehead and Rhian Goodman... enjoyed by everyone... including all of my family , except for the boy in Australia...who rang just as we all gathered in the marquee. Such impeccable  timing...and he was able to join in a rousing chorus of Land of Hope and Glory..

What did you do for the Jubilee?

Today's track has to be this -Land of Hope and Glory...every time I hear this, it always moves me. Rousing, beautifully orchestrated, always instilling pride.....in a way that the dirge that is" God save our Queen " never does.....