Sunset from Hill House, Mount Helen. February 2024

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The evenings are drawing in

Actually, you know - it really, really irritates me when it gets to the summer solstice and the doom and gloom merchants start muttering in an Eeyore sort of way that the days are now getting shorter and it will be winter before we know it. Strictly speaking, the summer has only just that very minute begun!  And from my point of view for most of June and July it never really goes dark in Derbyshire.  It does, of course. We are not in the Arctic Circle.  But it is light (for most of June and July) when I go to bed - usually between 10 and 10:30. It is indisputably light when I wake up (usually around 5 in the morning; earlier when the sun is very bright and the blackbirds are singing heartily). I don't really notice the few hours of darkness.

It is still light when I wake up in the mornings.  But it was properly dark last night when I went to bed around 10:30. We had turned the lounge room light on around 9 pm. But it is now nearly August. And an evening that stays light outside until 10 pm should be enough for anyone who wishes to sit outside on the warm summer evenings.! And so far we have indeed had a lovely summer.  It's been mostly warm and sunny around our area. We have enjoyed many evenings sat outside.  We have even eaten outside!  There have been some very exciting storms in other bits of the UK (hail storms in Brighton, anyone?) but we seem to have avoided anything in the way of very exciting weather

(Having said all of that, I don't actually mind the darkness of winter evenings.  If it is cold and stormy, or even just cold then it is Right and Proper that it should also be dark and we can all snuggle up in the warm house and drink hot chocolate with the lamps on :-D )

Cally came to stay last weekend,  although I don't think she really wanted to.  Or at least, I don't think she wanted to come on her own.  She wanted her mother to come too.  However, it was the Tramlines Music Festival in Sheffield and Daddy was working eversoeverso hard in the Green Room pub all weekend, and Mummy was out watching some of the bands.  So The Builder and I went to Bishops' House in the morning and picked Cally up at lunch time, despite her protests.  And in fact she was fine when we got to our place.  There were noisy library books to play with and Minions to watch on the television and munchy things to eat and games to play. She woke up sunny and smiling on Sunday. We talked to Grandma Stella and Grandpa Tony on Skype.  We watched the minions several times more. And then Daddy arrived to collect her and to have lunch.

Mind you - it was a bit like having the Very Hungry Caterpillar visiting on Sunday morning.  She had two bowls of cereal, toast and jam, a huge great big banana, not one, not two but THREE pears, two child-friendly biscuits and some chocolate throughout the morning.  And then she had a bowl of rice with a tiny bit of fish and a little titchy bit of curry sauce for lunch.  I was very impressed with her dexterity - we have some training chopsticks which she wanted to use. She did a splendid job of picking up rice with the training chopsticks, especially since she had never used them before.

I have bought Minions 2 and a Monsters Inc DVD.  I think The Builder was going to go stark staring bonkers if he had to watch Minions 1 even one more time!

Monday, July 21, 2014


I have absolutely no idea where last week went!  The weekend was very pleasant. We went to Bishops' House in the morning; Tabitha, Gareth and Cally went to a birthday party near Sherwood Forest.  We went home; Tabitha, Gareth and Cally came to our place too for the night. We spent Sunday in a peaceful, calm, sunny way; Tabitha, Gareth and Cally went to the beach.

Monday came around. I had a relatively quiet week at work - and the week simply vanished.

It wasn't even that it was a particularly exciting week, although a few things of interest did happen.  We went to the Bishops' House AGM on Monday evening, which we preceded with a trip to the (Sheffield) Rutland for dinner.  I made an unusual solo trip to the pub on Friday evening to farewell a work colleague who is off to work in the corporate sector. Otherwise it was a fairly uneventful week.  Uneventful, and gone!

This weekend was fairly uneventful as well, although we did have quite an interesting thunderstorm on Saturday evening. Otherwise, there was nothing noteworthy. We did the usual weekend things, though we went to Chatsworth's farm shop rather than Marsh Green, for I wanted some  Chatsworth soap and some fish, neither of which can be got at Marsh Green. We haven't been to the Chatsworth farm shop for some time, mostly because Marsh Green is significantly closer and sells very similar things.  It just isn't as big (and doesn't sell Chatsworth's own things, nor does it have a fish counter).

And now here it is.  Monday again. My diary suggests that this is also likely to be a fairly quiet, uneventful week.  I wonder how fast this one will rush by. (I also wonder how uneventful it will prove to be, but that will no doubt become clear at the other end of the week :-D )

Where's Marlo?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Things are growing well on the allotment

a small pumpkin

An even smaller pumpkin, both in the greenhouse

Bramley apples on our little apple tree

More apples on the little tree

Tomato and pumpkin happiness in the greenhouse

More tomato happiness in the other greenhouse

Everything is growing well on the allotment. Except for the potatoes, which are going yellow and dying off. I don['t think they've had enough water:

We've started digging the potatoes and had our first lot yesterday with lunch. They were very delicious. We also had peas, baby broad beans, baby button squash and carrots, plus I used one of last year's apples to make apple sauce. So our vegetably and fruity ingredients were all home grown.

The Under Gardener has finished picking the peas at home. The broad beans aren't quite big enough to pick yet. But he has also picked all the red currants. There are mountains of gooseberries to come, and still raspberries and black currants.  It looks as though we should have a good apple harvest and a reasonable pear harvest.  However, there are very few plums and pretty much no cherries. Some years are just like that!

We've put a late planting of peas in, just to see what happens.  I've also planted out my tiny capsicum plants which had been left, forgotten and struggling in the greenhouse. They're looking much happier now, but it may be a bit late for us to get much in the way of fruit.  We'll see.

The flower garden has gone bonkers and is running rampant everywhere.  I really must do something about it!  I'll get some (hopefully "before" and "after) photos of it in the next few days.

Friday, July 11, 2014


A small group of us went out for coffee this morning, to a coffee shop across from the Roman Catholic cathedral.

The cathedral bells were ringing merrily.  And at length. The sun was shining. It was a lovely morning.  We sat at a table outside the coffee shop.

There were lots of people milling about, dressed in their party clothes.  Too much black for it to be a wedding.  Not enough for it to be a funeral.

There were nuns.

The cathedral bells continued to peal.

Then there were loads of priests, dressed in the Easter vestments.  They formed an orderly procession and went in by a side door.

The church bells silenced - and the organ burst into triumphant sound which we could hear clearly from our place across the road

A procession of bishops went past, wearing Easter vestments and beautiful mitres.  Apart from the one who was wearing a gold crown!

And finally, the liturgical procession went past, with lay people, priests and a cardinal. And the bells burst forth again in jubilation.

Clearly something very important was afoot.

We had stumbled across the enthronement of the new RC Bishop of Hallam!

We don't go out for coffee all that often, and if we do, we usually stay on campus.  It was the lure of the sunshine that drew us outside and across the road.  But if it were always that exciting - we would possibly go out more often!

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

I don't know. You have absolutely no international visitors for months and months and months ...

... and then you get two lots almost at the same time. Although not all of them actually stayed over, but just came for lunch on Saturday.

The second group were a former colleague, Kelly, who lives in Washington State in the US of A., her (British by birth, American by choice) husband Steve and their two daughters. They came to lunch three years ago, at about this time of year.  This time I also invited Bea, who also used to work with Kelly, and her partner Steve. Two Steves.  Fortunately not as confusing as it might have been!

It actually rained on Saturday morning. Proper rain - just not enough to fill the water buts. But more than enough for me to decide that on this occasion we would have lunch inside.  So we tidied up the dining room, extended the dining room table so we could fit 8 around it and shoved one end of it back up against the fireplace so we had room to walk around.

Of course, by the time the visitors all arrived, the sun had come out and the afternoon was lovely.  We decided to stay inside, since we had got all set up!  We had Cornish new potatoes, and a huge big salad, and I made crumbed chicken pieces and I grilled sausages and I made tomato and beef burgers to go with it all.  And for dessert I re-stocked my ice cream van treat stand with more cakes, more popcorn, and more mixed fruit and nuts.

It was a great afternoon.  It was good to see Kelly, Steve and the children again.  It was good to see Bea and Steve too, but we see them more often than once every three years!

(I forgot to take photos - sorry :-( )

Sunday was also a lovely day.  We spoke to Stella and Tony in the morning, and to Lindsey. We had spoken to Matthew on Saturday morning. We were just missing Simon and Wendy - though Wendy doesn't seem to have a Skype account.  We pootled out to Marsh Green for a few bits and pieces.  The Builder watched the British Grand Prix - on the telly; he didn't go to Silverstone in person.  I mounted an attack on the bindweed that was trying with determination to strangle our beautiful twisted witch hazel tree. I don't think either of us watched the Wimbledon Men's final. But we did have roast beef and new potatoes and veg from the garden for lunch, with some lovely wine that Paul and Carol had given us the previous weekend. And the sun shone.  You'd almost think it was summer!

The poor Builder is now even more toothless than he was.  He went to the dentist this morning for a post-extraction and plate fitting check up.  I think he only expected to be there three minutes.  While he was there he mentioned that he was having trouble chewing because of three crumbling molars.  The dentist looked, x-rayed and pondered. The Builder, I suspect, thought he would be sent away and told to make another appointment. Instead, the dentist decided to whip the offending teeth out then and there. Something of a surprise in the day.  The Builder was even more surprised when I came home from work this evening bearing a bottle of mouthwash for him.  Whisky does count as an effective mouthwash, doesn't it?

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

A quiet few days and a Cousins' Do

I had been thinking that I might take Matt and Belinda to Hardwick Hall on Saturday afternoon to collect another long gallery. In the end, I decided that it was going to be too much, given that we were expecting a massive invasion of cousins on the Sunday who were probably going to expect to be fed.  So Matt and I went to Marsh Green in the morning for meaty things.  Then The Builder went to town and collected Tabitha, Gareth and Cally who had come with their tent for an overnight stay.  Then we had lunch. After that, Matt, Tabitha and I went to the supermarket for a big shop.  And then we walked the wetlands.  I baked cakes and started to get ready for Sunday.  It was a nice day - and especially nice to have a quiet day after the long and busy day which Friday had been.

Sunday dawned cool and grey and drizzly.  This was a bit disappointing.  We had been hoping to use the new picnic tables and the new sun umbrellas and eat outside.  I had been hoping to use the barbecue.  I realised as the morning progressed that I was getting a bit stressed.  This isn't absolutely unusual if there is a big gathering in prospect - but it's unusual when it's family who are unlikely to be particularly dismayed if food is a bit delayed.  I talked to Stella and Tony at the usual time. Then realised that my stress levels were going up and up - because I would think: "I'll just finish this then I'll go and get showered and dressed."  "Oh, there's someone in the bathroom.  Well, I'll just do this and *then* I'll go and have a shower and get dressed."  "Oh. There's someone else in the bathroom.  Well, I'll do this and THEN I'll go and have a shower and get dressed."  It was beginning to look as though I would still be in my pyjamas and dressing gown when the visitors all came!!!

Fortunately, I had managed to have a shower and get dressed before they arrived.  I had even prepared lunch!

It was a lovely afternoon.  Everyone came except Jane and Tim. Jane we had seen on Friday and Tim had been hoping to come but in the end couldn't arrange it. I had drastically under-counted the vegetarians but there was enough veggie friendly food.  There was plenty of gluten free food - the butcher at Marsh Green makes amazing gluten free sausages! And I can manage gluten free kebabs and chicken pieces.  Belinda scrubbed an absolute mountain of Jersey royal potatoes, which I oh-so-nearly forgot to put out when we served lunch :-S  We had chocolate cakes and popcorn and fudge and dried fruit and nuts and lollies for dessert and the sun came out and we got to use the barbecue and the picnic tables and the sun umbrellas.

My fun, ice cream van treat stand

Cousins having lunch
And then, all of a sudden, it was Monday and Matt, Belinda, Sage and William's last day with us.  We had a very quiet day, with a walk around the block, and packing, and lunch, and tidying and checking that nothing had been left behind.  And then they were gone.  The Builder took them to the station so they could take a train to Manchester Airport.  Their flight was at 9:30 this morning so it wasn't really practical to take them to the airport this morning. The house seemed very, very quiet after they had left.  And very empty.

I'm back at work now. And they are (apparently) flying over Eastern Europeon their way to Abu Dhabi and then home.

MBSW at the bridge in Bakewell.  Click on them to reach their photo album