Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Snow Diaries

Minus twelve. But a sunlit blue sky was enough to tempt me out. 
Walking past a field of sweetcorn, leaves like crumpled parchment and cobs robbed of kernels; I disturbed a woodcock. 
From the sanctuary of the dried stalks, the bird suddenly shot skywards, its distinctive long black beak like a confident pen stroke, inked across a sheet of Basildon Bond blue.
Still inhabiting a monochrome world, pierced only by the yellow of a blackbird’s beak, the warm orange of a robin’s breast.... or me lumbering up the garden to feed the chickens in the mis-matched layers of every single jumper I own!

Looking towards Gardener’s Cottage the snow covered field is bounded by a line of monumental oaks. In their prime at this time of year, when you can trace every meandering branch to its twiggy end. 
As if on the up-beat of the conductor’s baton a flock of pigeons scatter from the canopy of one oak, and convene again, after a spirited cadenza, on the next.
Right on cue for the annual R.S.P.B.'s Big Garden Birdwatch, the kingfisher posed for me on a low branch over the pond, the green patina of its back gleaming in the sun. 
Total bird count included a jay, blackbirds, green woodpeckers, a coot, pigeons-a-plenty, pheasants, bullfinches, and a wren, all equally vocal over the sudden welcome rise in temperature. Goodbye snow.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


 Cold but exhilerating. 
And there comes a point when your finger can't even feel the shutter button any more.
So what will the chickens make of it?

Monday, January 14, 2013

"A Gard'ner's work is never at an end; it begins with the Year and continues to the next." John Evelyn 1664 The Gard'ner's Almanac

I woke to the most delicate of snow flurries this weekend. Having suspected that my two rows of garlic had rotted in the squelch that calls itself a vegetable garden, the relief at spotting tiny green spears piercing the frozen soil inspired a frenzied clearing out of the greenhouse.

Thankfully, temperatures inside the inhospitable accommodation were slightly above freezing and the combination of a beret and a bucket of scalding soapy water safeguarded my circulation. 

I was not alone in my happy pursuit. A hibernating frog opened a grumpy eye when I unwittingly pulled back his mossy bedclothes. I just hope he’s ravenous when he wakes up properly, then he can dine like a prince on any bugs that I’ve missed.

Bad light eventually stopped play. That was my cue to warm up in front of the fire with a pile of seed catalogues and all the ambitious intent an empty green house provokes!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

New Year, New Calendar

Unveiling one of my favourite projects from last year... a dozen watercolours for the lovely folks at Blue Hill, New York.  
They grow their own vegetables, rear their own animals and serve them up in their own beautiful restaurant. 
If you can't book a table, at least pour yourself a glass of wine and tuck into their inspiring website. www.bluehillfarm.com