A Private Viewing

The Capsule Poster

The Capsule Poster

I went to an exhibition at the weekend in a super little private gallery in Norfolk called The Capsule.

The Capsule Extension Gazebo

The Capsule Extension Gazebo

The very talented and very lovely daughters of my dear friends John & Kate were invited to exhibit some of their fabulous work in The Capsule and it is their exhibition that I went to see.

John adding the finishing touches

John adding the finishing touches

Jess and Millie are also the grandaughters of Pam and Neal French’s and you can see how they are so talented. It clearly runs in the family.

Getting Ready

Getting Ready

Their work is brilliant and hugely diverse.

Checking everything over

Checking everything over

It is done with nearly everything you can think of to create with – pens, pencils, crayons, paper, cameras, ipads, paint, clay and many more. I really think they could make art with just about anything.

ready for the viewing

ready for the viewing

The exhibition is a collection of just some some of their stuff

Millie's photos

Millie’s photos

Both girls are hugely busy and enthusiastic artists. Millie loves photography and Jess loves ipad art but their talents spread across everything they try.

Jess's ipad art

Jess’s ipad art

And their work has such charm and freedom of expression.

Jess's Clay Sculptures

Jess’s Clay Sculptures

I loved it all.

and the people came

and the people came

The entire day was a delight

Jess and Millie talking to visitors

Jess and Millie talking to visitors

Setting up, chatting to those viewing the exhibition and watching the girls pieces being so well received made for a super atmosphere.

viewing and chatting over a drink

viewing and chatting over a drink

The interest was phenomenal and I hope it has encouraged them to carry on with even more lovely work.

Millie talking through the work

Millie talking through the work

They were so professional in their dealings with people, it was wonderful to watch and I’m sure they learned some valuable lessons.

Jess talking through some orders

Jess talking through some orders

I imagine it would be quite daunting for such young talent to put themselves out there but they seemed to take it very much in their stride and rose to the task wonderfully.

and they keep coming

and they keep coming

Their talent is endless!

in the fading light

in the fading light

It was a completely lovely exhibition.

Millie's street lamp ipad art

Millie’s street lamp ipad art

It looked like the girls had a great time and there were lots of visitors to chat to about their work.

Night Sky

Night Sky

The interest was keen and a lot of their pieces were sold.

riverbank

riverbank

Their sales were across the exhibition; some originals and some limited edition prints which will be despatched to their supporters soon. The sculptures were just about sold out and I don’t think they went home with much.

a lovely lady in her finery

a lovely lady in her finery

I am myself, the the proud owner of a few of their pieces and I am delighted with them.

cute croc

cute croc

So, people, you saw it here first!

Watch this space because I don’t think this is the last you will see of these super talented young ladies.

a very happy Millie

a very happy Millie


horseboarding UK

leaning into that corner

greens – leaning into that corner

It’s about 18 months since I first ‘discovered’ horseboarding. I now follow it on FB and enjoy the odd post from the hard working teams.

 

purples - clearing the gate

purples – clearing the gate

I would like to eventually do more to support the sport as I just love it but for now, I remain an enthusiastic spectator.

dare devils - 9 and 13 years old

dare devils – 9 and 13 years old

It is fun, funky and very, very exciting.

norfolk and good

norfolk and good

I’m not lucky enough to feed my interest in it often but it does’t diminish my enthusiasm.

IMG_8038

Today, I got my fix at Sandringham Game Fair and it just gets better and better.

fast and exciting

fast and exciting

To the uninitiated, it probably just looks like a lot of very fast fun but there is some serious skill involved. There are polo players, championship snow boarders, olympia qualifiers and some very good jockeys.

I know that they perform as often as they can and I also know that they practice hard. There are long days on the road to get to where they need to go and I’m sure they have a wonderful associated social life but there will also be some massive sacrifices.

raising some dust

my favourite ‘dead pigeons’  raising some dust

And they rescue horses!! What’s not to love?

balance going

balance going

My favourites are still Dead Pigeon but there are some great new teams.

uh oh!

uh oh! Poor Tom took a tumble just before the end

I just love the sport and wish I was still a rider….. I might just think about taking it up!!


The debate about Badgers

footprints

badger footprints

The trial badger cull ended yesterday after Natural England decided that the numbers culled did not achieve those required to test if culling would prevent the spread of Bovine TB in cattle.  We won’t know whether it has had an impact (positive or otherwise) for quite some time to come I expect but I think we do know that the killing of badgers during the licensed period was a complete waste of wild life.

Whatever your feelings about what the solution is to this particular problem, there is no doubt that the british cattle farmer is facing a difficult road ahead because there is a very definite affect on farmers from Bovine TB throughout the British Countryside.

badger sett

badger sett

Where we walk there is lots of evidence of Badger activity. We never see the badgers themselves but it is lovely to know that they have been about their business before we arrived.

The same badgers that leave the tell tale signs are hidden away in their cosy setts when we go out and we would need to sit in a hide (I am very tempted to camp out one night to be able to watch them) for long hours to stand any chance of catching them when they did venture out.

clearing mounds around the sett

clearing mounds around the sett

We know they are there though. We see their footprints, their scrapings from food foraging, their numerous territory markers (where they dig a hole and leave their droppings) and there are lots of entrances to their setts along the dike sides.

badger toilet

badger toilet

They are interesting and odd looking burrowing creatures when compared to lots of our british wildlife. They are nocturnal, strangely coloured (for our environment) and are seemingly related to weasels and wolverines.

They look like they should be carnivores but they are omnivores and so are as happy eating roots as worms. Bizarre when you consider how viciously well equipped they are for the life of a carnivore.

They are incredibly strong, make good parents and although they can be solitary, they mostly live communally. We’ve all seen the cute footage on wildlife programmes where they are filmed socialising and playing in mixed family groups at the neck of their setts..

main entrance to the sett

main entrance to the sett

They are a ferocious creature with the capability of inflicting a lot of damage with their might and their mouths.  These qualities and their fight to the death defence strategy have very sadly meant they have been used to fight dogs. This, thankfully for both dog and badger, has been illegal for some time now (though I suspect this horrible activity still goes on somewhere).

Because Badgers are complex and look a little out of place; they fascinate me and I would love to be able to observe our local population one day.

The thought of this peculiar shaped, omnivorous mammal with mad markings being eradicated or driven out of farming areas entirely because a sensible solution to address the issue of Bovine TB can’t be found, doesn’t sit well with me.

I do not know what the solution is but I do know that we need to stop bulldozing problems and find a much more inclusive way to balance these things out. I really hope that there is an effective, none invasive way forward that deals with the problem both the badgers and the farmers of the UK face.


foraging for fungi

field mushroom harvest

field mushroom harvest

I have expressed my desire to learn more about identifying fungi before and I still haven’t done the course that was a present from hubby christmas 2011. I really must! If only to broaden our menu and save us from inevitable tummy ache.

freshly cut with ring in tact

freshly cut horse mushroom with ring in tact

It hasn’t, however, stopped my foraging this week. There is a field where we walk at the weekends that has a small but productive crop of enormous and delicious horse mushrooms. I haven’t seen them there before but they are certainly there now and boy are they tasty looking.

The fields are still very green and the bright white beacon of deliciousness that these wonderful wild food sources are is clear to see in the middle of the field.

bright edible domes amongst the grass

bright edible domes amongst the grass

I couldn’t help but notice them and after clearing it with the farm I collected only those that had been knocked off their stems by the ponies in the field.  Each morning, though, the ones that were tiny the day before had become monsters and so I couldn’t resist and picked some of those still growing.

the smallest of these is about 100mm across

the smallest of these is about 100mm across

Picking them properly is important (always use a sharp knife and cut off at stem, never pull them out with the whole stem) and you should never harvest an entire field.

Always leave plenty behind. There may be others who want to enjoy natures larder too but it is also important to maintain the crop to ensure they grow another year.

shades of pink and brown gills

shades of pink and brown gills

There are lots and lots left that will come to maturity over the next few weeks so we should see them again next year.

cider vinegar, thyme, salt and pepper

cider vinegar, thyme, salt and pepper

Preparing them is nearly as important.  Never wash them. Clean off any dirt or insects and then brush the outside clean. I’m a great believer that a bit of muck and interest adds to the flavour but if you prefer, the skins can be peeled to remove any possibility of unwanted flavourings (whatever form that might take!!).

I love mushrooms. I love their meatiness which makes them a great substitute for meat in a vegetarian dish. I especially love risotto, chicken and mushroom pie and I particularly love fried mushrooms on a thick slice of thoroughly toasted wholemeal or artisan bread.

What a wonderful autumn gift.

We had Chicken and mushroom pie on Saturday night but we ran out of time for any other mushroom dishes this weekend. In order to continue to enjoy the taste and waste nothing, I have gifted some, dried some and preserved some for later when the crop has finished.  Loving them fresh as I do, I have held back a few of today’s harvest to go into a mushroom based dish (whatever it ends up being) that I will conjure up later in the week.

horse mushrooms preserved in oil

horse mushrooms preserved in oil

The dried ones have a much stronger smell now they are jarred and I understand that drying enhances the flavour. I can’t wait to use them in a nice juicy dish in the middle of the winter when they are no longer available.

The others I have preserved in oil and vinegar from a recipe in the preserving book I bought some time ago. The flavours in the oil say to me that they should be eaten straight from the jar  raw but we will see as I have never used mushrooms in oil before. New things are great!!

dried mushrooms

dried mushrooms

The smell of freshly picked wild mushrooms is amazing. It is rich and earthy and reminds me very much of being a child. We always came home with field mushrooms or something edible and free when we had been raking around the open countryside for as much of the day as we could squeeze out of it.

It brings to mind people like my grandparents and my gran particularly who loved a bit of free food and a forage. I’m sure it is her tasks to us kids to bring home something tasty that fuels my interest in hedgerow eating. I realised the other day when I looked at a photo of me holding the mushrooms that I picked that I have her hands…. almost identical!

dried and preserved

dried and preserved

 


a weekend in the Peak District

the view

the view

This weekend of blistering temperatures and the threat of summer actually arriving, has reminded me of a weekend we were lucky enough to disappear on recently.

our acommodation for the weekend

our acommodation for the weekend

It was a gloriously sunny and fun weekend in the peak district to catch up with friends that we haven’t seen in far too long.

Max watching the coffee and cards session

Max watching the coffee and cards session

We booked a cottage that catered for all our needs, that was in a rural location but also close to the amenities of a little market town called Wirkworth.

We did brilliantly well with our choice and the cottage was amazing.  Recently converted from a barn just next to a very pretty public footpath, it afforded us quite a lot of privacy but the occasional distraction from passers by; especially since Max decided to greet each and every one with his big bark!!

Hamlet making the most of it

Hamlet making the most of it

It was just what we all needed. We went with absolutely no expectations and found it completely charming and far better that we could have hoped.

village pond

village pond

We had good weather, gorgeous surroundings, great company and enough beer to kill a man. What else do you need?

Everyone mucked in, there was lots of booze drunk, rubbish spoken and food eaten and it couldn’t have been better.

Matlock Baths - Biker's Paradise

Matlock Baths – Biker’s Paradise

Mostly we just chilled out at the gorgeous, gorgeous and perfectly appointed cottage. We played cards around the garden table or set up tennis (for the more energetic amongst us), we read, we chatted (a lot!!) and thoroughly relaxed.

When we did venture out (we were very tempted to stay put but really felt that we had to see more than the wonderful view from the barn garden), we were just as happy with what we found and some of it came as a complete surprise.

rows and rows of speed machines

rows and rows of speed machines

We had briefly passed through Matlock Baths on the Friday night as we arrived, so we decided to go and wander through this sleepy little ribbon town on Sunday morning. We would grab a coffee, maybe an ice cream and enjoy the peace and quiet of the riverbank walk and it’s pretty shops. It should be pretty quiet leading up to lunchtime.

 

think bike - bit difficult to avoid it really

think bike – bit difficult to avoid it really

I think we were the only people in the whole county who DIDN’T know that every Sunday, Matlock Baths is overrun with bikes and scooters of all shapes and sizes as well as the diverse collection of people that ride them.

 

Every single parking space along the length of the village has 2 wheels parked in it and even the station car park was struggling to accommodate the 4 wheels that had chosen to visit at the same time.

 

hamlet enjoying a cooling roll in the grass

hamlet enjoying a cooling roll on the grass

JC got some cracking shots of some of the bikes (clearly someone’s pride and joy) and the irony of the huge, seemingly out of place, ‘think bike’ sign wasn’t missed on us – you really couldn’t help thinking about bikes since it was practically all there was as far as the eye could see.

 

some of the lovely little stairways in town

some of the lovely little stairways in town

Once we thought about it, it made sense that this funny little place couldn’t sustain about 8 fish and chip shops a greater number of cafes and 2 bike wear shops without something spectacular like the sunday pilgrimage to contribute to the coffers.

 

rambling pond side properties

rambling pond side properties

Everyone was clearly happy and there was a nice vibe.

Not remotely what we had expected but quite wonderful all the same.

 

village waterwheel

village waterwheel

We eaked out as much of the weekend as we could and didn’t leave until the latest possible (our booking was until monday am but we all had to get back for work!! boohoo) with another walk to check out the local station of Wirkworth and the sweet town centre itself.

 

dry stone walls

dry stone walls

These small towns are clearly affected by the out of town supermarkets and the change in our shopping habits but it is hanging on in there. Like all small market towns, it has it’s problems but it is surviving. It has retained its charm and there are a handful of brilliant little retailers as well as decent pubs and I hope it lasts.

 

lovely hilly meadows

lovely hilly meadows

We are going to make this little weekend an annual event now because we were so taken by the place and the surroundings. We’ll be booking it well in advance so we aren’t disappointed.

I’m looking forward to it already!!


Horse Boarding

The Dead Pigeons in Round 1 time trials

The Dead Pigeons in Round 1 time trials

Unlike the title might suggest, Horse Boarding is NOT a form of torture.

It is an equestrian sport and it is tremendous fun!!

And what’s more, I can’t believe I have been in the dark about this fantastic sport for the 5 years since it was originated in the UK.

The Dedicated Drinkers

The Dedicated Drinkers

There is a horse boarding association.

They have a Facebook page.

There are national horse boarding championships.

Do or die

Do or die

There is membership, a magazine, courses and endless videos but I still didn’t know about it until yesterday!!

We went to Burghley Game and Country Fair which we have done for a couple of years now.  It is a good opportunity to stock up on all things country and country sports. There is more camo and green clothing than you can shake a stick at but there are also great fun demonstrations and competitions.

Kauldren

Kauldren

We always watch whatever is on in the main ring as we shop, we always check out the dog agility and terrier classes, the birds of prey and we always check out the food village.

We went a lot earlier today than normal and I think that may be why we caught the fly fishing demonstration, bought some (more) green clothing and most importantly managed to catch the Horse Boarding spectacle!!

Do or Die were flying in the time trials

Do or Die were flying in the time trials

I love horses and spent a lot of time around them as a kid. I wasn’t always involved in the proceedings but I was an enthusiastic spectator and helper. As a result of my close dealings with them, I love them, their smell and a lot of horsey sports are of interest to me. I don’t ride anymore, if I could do it all the time, I would take it up again (I really don’t fancy walking like a gun toting cowboy every few months because my thigh muscles have ‘forgotten’ what they are for between times!!) but I don’t have enough time for less demanding things so taking up horses again would be impossible right now.

Anyway, yesterday was soooo much fun to watch. One of the team horses is Lord Atterbury whoh is a retired race horse who was one of only 13 finishers about 4 years ago in the Grand National.

Ross of the Dead Pigeons uses a decoy for streamlining his helmet

Ross of the Dead Pigeons uses a decoy for streamlining his helmet

Apart from Burghley being just lovely as a venue, we already enjoy the horse trials in september and will continue to go for years to come, this country fair and the sandringham one are a great way to get close to the country sports that both JC and I have been involved with since we were kids.

We live in the city now but our weekend jaunts to the countryside allow us to dip into these lovely pass times every now and again.

Lord Atterbury doing his thing

Lord Atterbury doing his thing

We didn’t stay for the 3pm final as the sun had brought a lot of visitors out and it was getting very crowded by lunchtime but we will be looking out for it again and the teams that entertained us so well yesterday.

Good luck in the championships Do or Die, The Dead Pigeons, Kauldren & Designated Drinkers!


Bug Hotel

comfort bug style

comfort bug style

I was reading the UK handmade magazine summer 2013 (which I would highly recommend – you can read the online magazine or you can buy the download pdf)

And as I came to the end and page 81 presented me with a lovely image of a bug hotel project for your garden, I suddenly realised that our recent DIY project (more to come about that) had unwittingly provided us with the building blocks of the bug house and we pretty much had everything we needed around and about.

bamboo, loo roll tubes, twigs, logs and cardboard

bamboo, loo roll tubes, twigs, logs and cardboard

After a riffle through the recycling, chopping some lengths of bamboo up, selecting some nice short logs from the log pile and steeling a length of waste pipe from the garage I was all set to assemble them along with the slate and bricks into our own recycled version.

tada!!

tada!!

It won’t pass the inspection of even the most laid back structural engineer and the hotel inspector would be aghast but as Bug Hotels go, I think it is pretty fantabulous.

I’m very pleased with it and have stuck it in a little corner that does’t have much happening in it but it has been earmarked as our wild corner so couldn’t be better sited.

Fingers crossed for some creepy crawly guests :o)