Saturday, 21 May 2016

Apple Blossom, Pesto & Rhubarb Crumble

The sky was blue and the birds were in good voice, so we took a walk down to Mansbridge to check on the progress of the Community Orchard blossom. En route we passed the Pitch and Putt course, which is sadly now closed due to a lack of funding by our ever more squeezed council.
We are pleased to report that the Apple trees were in magnificent shape and looked fantastic in full bloom. We also noticed signs that other people had been helping prune off dead wood to enhance the health of the trees.
While we were exploring, we managed to open up access to a couple of new Apple trees and continued to cut back brambles to keep them out of the branches.

Later that night we made Pesto for our pasta using our stash of Hazel and Walnuts from last year and Basil. 

The wonderful weekend continued in fine fashion as the Saints (Southampton Football Club) won their final few matches of the season with a flourish, to finish on record points and higher up the Premier league than ever before. 
To polish off the proceedings (after I had finished running around the garden celebrating), we made one of my favourite seasonal puddings, Rhubarb Crumble, made from the first fruits of our allotment. 
Simply delicious!

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Beltain and a Blossom Walk

It looks like the Summer is finally getting a grip here in the south UK and everyone should soon be making Elderflower Cordial. I prefer Elderflower Champagne but you need to take a few elementary precautions.
I believe the warm weather may have been encouraged as a result of the recent Beltain celebrations at Butser Ancient Farm. Beltain is an ancient tradition to bring on the summer, to celebrate the drawing back of the night and lengthening of the days.
We often visit this wonderful place for this extraordinary event; there is always lots of interesting things to explore and do. The evening always culminates with the very dramatic burning of the colossal Wickerman.
This year  the 10m hight shape-shifting Wickerman took the form of a human body, with the head of a badger, and antlers sprouting out from behind its ears. You can write down your wishes on paper scraps and stuff them into his legs, to be burned and sent into the night sky as red hot sparks later in the evening.
It was a chilly day and we were prepared for rain (though it never came), you can always hide in a round house and sit by an open fire listening to stories, if you get too cold. My daughter and I kept warm by walking about all the various activities, drinking hot cocoa and by dancing to a band playing sea shanties.
Toward the end of the evening, as darkness fell, everyone was entranced by a team of rhythmic drummers marching out toward our towering statuesque bonfire, which was lit by a lucky young lad with a flaming torch.
While the flames licked ever upwards and our wishes joined the stars glimmering in the darkness, there was a constant chorus of ooh!s,  ah!s and cheers to supplement the drummers, who had now retreated to a safer distance, as various parts joined the conflagration or exploded after crashing to the ground.
Finally, we tramped back over the fields, tired and weary but still awed by a night of wonder, our path lit by the flaming torches we carried.

There will be a Blossom Walk on Saturday May 14th at the Mansbridge Community Orchard. We will meet at 04:00pm on the old stone bridge over the Itchen, regardless of the weather. The bridge is at the end of the Pitch and Putt course and near the White Swan pub/restaurant on the A27. 
The walk is free and volunteer led but you will be traversing rough ground and fields, so dress appropriately and everyone is responsible for their own health and safety.
If anyone wants to buy copies of my lovely book, let me know in advance and they will be available for the totally fantastic price of just £10.00.