Thursday, 29 April 2010

My Spring Garden

As we approach late Spring, I thought I'd post this lovely little poem about a Spring garden. Lots growing, and more seeds to sow and sow and sow. A little rain for the next few days is very welcome as the earth is quite dry at the moment. Then the sunshine will be welcomed back with open arms from me and the plants.

My Spring Garden

Here is my little garden,
Some seeds I'm
Going to sow.

Here is my rake
To rake the ground,
Here is my handy hoe.

Here is the big
Round yellow sun,
The sun warms everything.
Here are the rain clouds
In the sky,
The birds will start to sing.

Little plants will
Wake up soon,
And lift their sleepy heads.
Little plants will
Grow and grow
From their warm earth beds.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Hampshire Green Fair 2010 - Sustainability Centre

It's nearly that time of year again when the Sustainability Centre in East Meon holds it's green fair. We have been to this over the last few years and it's a great day out in a truly wonderful setting. Sunday 9th May, 10am - 5pm. Last year Ben Law was there as the guest opening the fair and signing his latest book. He is working with the centre at the moment on a woodland classroom which you can see the raising of the timber frame later in May, another date for the diary.

The last few years it has been a lovely hot sunny day to enjoy what's on offer and enjoy walking around the woodland exploring and discovering. There is such a lot on offer to see too on sustainable living, permaculture, etc. Yurts, Tipis, compost toilet, solar showers, outside oven area, I could go on and on. Hopefully the weather will be kind again, although it will still be enjoyable if it rains. There is also the very tranquil site of the Natural Burial Site, in a peaceful secluded area adjoining the centre's woodland.

This year, the green fair has this on offer:

The Centre's main paddock will be lined with stalls selling ethically sourced goods and local produce. There will be hands-on displays of practical crafts; rag-rug making, green woodworking and willow-weaving to name a few, as well as information on green building techniques. Learn how to make your own home a healthier, greener, more efficient place, with working demonstrations of renewable energy in action

The Green Fair is a great opportunity to get involved with local groups taking real positive steps to ensure a healthier, brighter planet for us all. Meet the, Hampshire Conservation Volunteers, Petersfield Beekeepers and Winchester Action on Climate Change, amongst many others.

The GreenShare marquee is a new feature this year, offering a series of talks and discussions on green issues concerning local residents and the wider community. Take the opportunity to bring your questions to the debate!

In addition there is a seed swap area, to bring along your unwanted seeds and maybe try something new.

For the children, there are lots of activities and things to learn for all ages - chalk carving, bushcraft, traditional bread making, as well as those above and more. There is also a big fancy dress parade for them.

Permanent Publications bookshop will also be open on the day as will the Centre’s Beech Café, working alongside the Art House Café from Southampton to serve up delicious food throughout the day, wherever possible using local, organic and fairly traded ingredients.

This is really a lovely day out, last year it started off my new journey into spinning wool, having come across a 2nd hand spinning wheel. We also had fun watching and participating in other crafts and can't wait to do more again this year.

Monday, 26 April 2010

The beauty of things to come

Elder flower buds

I pass this Elder bush regularly, we're good friends. Look, the flowers are developing, bringing thoughts to my head on making Elderflower cordial and champagne again this year.

For now, I shall wait, but soon, soon this Elder will once again allow me to pick some of it's beautiful flowers to make the most delicious refreshments. Have I told you how much I love elderflower cordial? It has to be one of my favourites to drink and to make.

The champagne last year was a big hit. In more ways than one with a couple of explosions (no-one was hurt though). We shall learn from that this year, we are endeavouring to obtain some recycled champagne bottles, the corks and wires are easy to pick up. We're not big drinkers but enjoy a nice cool glass of organic beers, red wines (well not Alex), and the champagne last year. No horrible chemically after effects, all natural and quite alcoholic really.

What a luxury champagne is to buy, but homemade Elderflower champagne is not; just pick a few flower heads, water, sugar or honey, lemons and a little white wine vinegar and time. Pennies per bottle rather than the prices paid in wine shops and supermarkets, and all natural.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Theatre tomorrow to see ... cancelled

**Unfortunately, due to sickness we have had to cancel this, luckily we knew someone else who was able to go, so the tickets weren't wasted. Maybe another time, another show**

Chris and Pui on tour with "Show me"

Chris and Pui

This will mean nothing to those with young children or those who do not watch television; but if you do know the Show me Show me programme on CBeebies, that's who we are going to see. This is still a surprise for Imogen at the moment, Alex bought the tickets ages ago but we decided to wait until this afternoon to surprise her otherwise she'd have been asking us about it for weeks.

We're looking forward to it and at the moment can only imagine the excitement that Imogen will have. Perhaps I'll update this post later.

Alex is running one of his community gardening courses this morning, so we shall surprise Imogen with this when he's back for lunch, and then an afternoon at the allotment is planned.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Forest Gardening and Edible Gardens - Weekend reading material

I have these lovely books to start reading at the weekend.

Firstly, Creating a Forest Garden by Martin Crawford. A new book recently won in a competition, it looks lovely at first sight and comes recommended by many wonderful people in the world of gardening, permaculture and forest gardening.

And secondly, The Edible Garden by Alys Fowler, accompanying the series on BBC2 currently. This is from the library and again looks very nice.

Will let you know what I think of them.

Imogen and nature

I just love how Imogen loves to learn about nature and spends time exploring things. She's always ever so careful not to tread on bugs and creatures.

This week, and in recent weeks, she has been asking what leaves caterpillars will eat. She'll point out leaves and question if they would like them. She has also been laying out little piles of leaves for them for their breakfast, dinner and tea. Often I find little piles like these on the bay tree bush or the floor.

food for the caterpillars

These leaves became wings for Imogen who was being an Eagle this time. This prompted lots of questions about what noise Eagles have and how big they are, so we talked about this and looked for answers in books and on the Internet.

I'm being an Eagle
making flags

The leaves later became a flag with a couple of sticks we found too. She made one a few days ago too with the bay leaves (the smaller one on the left).

Nature is good, and full of opportunities to learn.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Earth Day 2010

I wanted to post something for Earth Day, a day for everyone to think a little more about our Earth and what we can all do to preserve it's future. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we all thought more about it every day though, caring for the Earth isn't just for Earth day. The Earth Day campaign is 40 years old this year too, started by Gaylord Nelson (a US senator) in America, I found this archive footage on youtube from that week back in 1970, the year of my birth (yes I'm 40 this year too!)

Earth Day 1970 logo
found at

This year, the focus of Earth Day is about outdoors, so I think we shall spend some time planting in the garden. Some of Imogen's planted chestnuts and acorns from last Autum have grown into little tree saplings - what a lovely thing that we could plant a tree for the future, but maybe not in our back garden, it's a bit too small for what will one day be a large tree.

I decided I would like to share this little video that was actually released a few years ago now (for Live Earth), but it's one I like the message that it sends, and then there's the added interest for me with the wool and knitting. Hope you enjoy it.

If you have a little longer, this film below is a nice tribute to Gaylord Nelson who started the concept of Earth day, he raised many environmental issues and concerns.

Happy Earth Day

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Earth Day craft for tomorrow

I have a blog post for Earth Day tomorrow, but today my hands were busy knitting this

What have you got planned for Earth Day? (if anything)

In the garden ...

Magnolia Stellata

An update on things growing in the garden now. Mostly pictures, a record of how things are this month. Starting with an ornamental above, Magnolia Stellata - I've always loved this one, I do have some ornamental flowering plants and this is one of my favourites. What nicer a place to spend some time in this lovely warm sunny weather too. Bliss.

Mostly I grow things that are edible though, so here goes

Lovely Blueberries
2 varieties

The Kiwi vigorous climber!
Some of the greenhouse plants - many more too (you get the picture)

Lemon Balm - I love it's fragrance and taste
Perennial and vigorous so needs some taming

Spinach in the garden

Chard in the garden

Lettuce and salad leaves

Red ribbed Dandelion leaves,
Red ribbed Sorrel (perennial salad leaves)

Strawberries ... so English!

The Pear trees in blossom,
a little ahead of the older, more established pear tree at the allotment.

The blossom of the Almond tree


Spider hanging mid-air in my greenhouse!

Many salads and meals with Spinach and Chard at the moment which is lovely. Our lettuces and other salad leaves are just lovely at the moment - picking little (or not so little) and often.

Growing things update

red tailed bumble bee on the broad beans

A few update posts to things we've been up to over the last few days. We spent some time at the allotment on Sunday after Alex ran his community gardening course in the morning. It was a gloriously sunny afternoon. One of our plot neighbours was sunbathing when we arrived.

Imogen started with a little bug hunting, something she enjoys doing. She also likes to lay out foods for the bugs, especially caterpillars lately.


So a little weeding around the Asparagus bed which is showing up some of these this year - hooray! We are allowed to pick some this year but not too much. We actually thought it wasn't going to come up this year very well after a funny history with them. We bought 20 crowns between my Dad and ourselves, and last Spring we only saw signs of life from 10 plants - it seems we had a 50% crop failure. We're monitoring it this year and will be getting in touch with the supplier if the same occurs as it's 2 seasons this year. Anyway, a nice sight to see.

Imogen helped Daddy clear an old potato bed where it appears we forgot to dig up the potatoes from, so came home with a crate of potatoes and some we planted as they'd got good growth on them already. Most of the ones taken home were still okay, a bit thick skinned but okay once cooked.

This bed was then planted up with some Peas that have been waiting patiently to go in the ground. A little support of netting and all done.

Potatoes replanted

We harvested more purple and white sprouting broccoli, and plenty of Chard. We left the Spinach bed this week as we had some at home still, and actually the bed of Spinach at home is producing loads at the moment too.

red tailed bumble bee busy and in flight

Broad Beans are looking well, and we spent a while fascinated by this red-tailed bumblebee flying between the flowers after the nectar. The bees have been around for quite a while now, and the honeybees from the hive near our plot have been busy.

Fruit bushes and trees are looking good - these gooseberries are forming nicely and abundantly.

The Pear tree with almost flowering
(later than the ones at home)

Beautiful Apple Blossom

It's Earth Day tomorrow, so I have written a little post in recognition of a day that it would be nice if everyone around the world would just stop and think. Of course, it shouldn't just be one day, we should be thinking and acting every day. A bit sad really that flights have re-commenced just before Earth Day.

Back soon with more updates.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The friendly fox ...

  knitted fox

Meet the new addition to the knitted animals, the fox that Imogen said she would like. The fox to chase the chickens. On it's first run at chasing the chickens, the fox decided to be friendly instead and now the chicken and the fox are best friends.

making friends with the chickens

I love to see the joy on her face when she discovers new toys I make and leave somewhere for her to find in the mornings. At first, she said she thought this was a pig (?) until she saw his big bushy tail and she exclaimed "a fox, a fox, a fox to chase the chickens".

Happy girl finding the fox

Latest request is for a sheepdog.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Naalbinding and Nuno Felting Workshop

 It was the monthly meeting at my Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers on Saturday. After a lovely news and views and catching up with friends, we had a guest speaker on Naalbinding which was great to have a go at. I'd read around this ancient craft some time ago and was interested to have a go.

Naalbinding needle
A hat on display - made in the naalbinding technique

Naalbinding (which has many other names too) predates knitting and crochet, and is very different to both of these. It has a long history of use by the Vikings and Romans, and many other ancient times. It is not easy to grasp at first and our guest speaker said it can take up to 3 months to really get the hang of it. Lots of us had a go, with varying results and some frustration ... but it was fun. I came away with a needle so will be having a play and practice again some time.

After lunch was the long awaited felting workshop with one of the members who is an experienced and very talented felter. She had set us up with a nuno felting project, which was laid our fantastically and her instructions and encouragement were great, she had a couple of helpers going around too, all offering advice, instruction and encouragement.

bag of goodies

We were all given a small bag of fibres, bits of fabric, bits of spun wool and a piece of muslin cloth as the backing. We had a picture of some flowers for inspiration and a plastic folder to lay our design on so we could see it before felting. I can't tell you how much fun this was. I was sat with a couple of friends and we were having a great time, laughing and designing.

This is my design before the felting began

Half felted - awaiting shocking in hot water 
and then a bit more rubbing, throwing and shaping

The finished article, dried at home

So versatile too, as our mentor said, they can be made into anything - purses, covers for books, bags, cut into squares to make a patchwork, cut into squares to use to make cards ... the possibilities are endless, and all with only a few resources. It's also a great way to recycle all those little bits of fabric and wool left over from projects that you don't know what to do with. This ticks another box for me - recycling.

This was so much fun, and easy. I think I shall have to do some more of this at home, and involve Imogen too - I think she will love trying this. I think I may do some again soon with lots of pictures of the stages. I have some from the Guild but with other members and their work so probably not fair to pop them on my blog without asking. Watch this space ...