Monthly Archives: December 2016

it’s hygge round here…

Apparently, hygge has been a big, big trend for 2016.  Though I have to say it passed me by until I read a plethora of articles on ‘hygge’ in autumn. So I looked up the meaning.  Well, I like to think that the lovely OH and I have been bang on the zeitgeist even if we didn’t realise it.

To get in the right mood, right on cue the weather has obliged and turned the holding into a winterscape.

dsc_0027dsc_0023dsc_0030Chilly on the outside but warm indoors and what better way to have a ‘hygge at home’ moment – cozy fire, lit candles, blankets, and great food.

Simplicity is in, so the lovely OH prepared gravlax…

dsc_0007dsc_0008which we partnered with fresh salads (beetroot & apple; pickled cucumber; potato); rye and crisp breads, plus blinis topped with creme fraiche and lumpfish caviar.

dsc_0001Served alongside a flute of sparkling champagne.

Happy New Year!








dress the tree – steps 1,2, & 3

Step one – add lights… step two – add more lights… step three

pile on all the baubles.   I colour co-ordinate across the spectrum.

christmas-tree-2016My vintage bauble rehoming initiative has continued apace with some 1950-1960s additions, sourced from a number of Ledbury’s fine charity emporiums.dsc_0684The following 2 pictures show concave glass forms; the latter has handpainted details.  What could be nicer for these 50+ year old baubles than another outing on a tree?   dsc_0698dsc_0696Talking of which, the tree is a superb specimen.  Regrettably, this is probably the final year we can take a spruce from our neighbours’ plantation. With another year of growth the trees will be too tall for our library.  We’ll have to find another local grower.  Given that this is the last year, we’re very pleased that our £25.00 along with all the other monies raised from our neighbours’ christmas tree sales will go to a local cancer support charity.

All set for the big day.

Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year.




Well I couldn’t resist, so I bought tulip bulbs in the sale.

dsc_0680The work on the structural elements of the ornamental garden will continue into next year so it seemed a good idea to inject some colour on the terrace with pots of tulips.

Whilst we planted the narcissi and fritillaries in the orchard some months back, it is fine to plant tulips this late in the year as they have a short growth period, and, hopefully, the recent cold snap has killed off the fungal spores and viral diseases that can afflict the plants.

In the Sarah Raven’s sale I plumped for combinations of:

  • Brown Sugar; Ballerina and Comet
  • Cairo; Ronaldo; La Belle Epoque and Bruine Wimpel
  • Recreado; Bruine Wimpel and La Belle Epoque

The collections can be seen on her website, and Dan Pearson also mentions a number of them in his tulip trials at Hillside, (2012 & 2014).  The colours are a mix of oranges; bronzes; crimson; deep violet, dark purple….

I found the largest, deepest pots we have and added a layer of gravel at the base.   The compost mix included lime and horticultural sand as tulips prefer alkaline soil and sharp drainage.

dsc_0674dsc_0681I made sure that the bulbs had a good depth of compost above them.

dsc_0683A scattering of blood, fish and bone finished off the planting.

dsc_0675 In other pots I tried out Sarah’s recommended technique of layering the bulbs to pack even more in.  As we are short on large containers I’ve had to improvise with my planting pots….these old feeders have been commandeered…

dsc_0673I’m anticipating a fabulous display next spring!




willow wood, withies, weaving, wreaths…

We planted our sallows, (willows), the year after we first started putting in the shelter belt blocks.  The lovely OH cut some short lengths from a neighbour’s copse and pushed the cuttings into the soil.  Willow strikes really easily and grows quickly.  If I stand in the centre of the copse it almost – almost, has the character of a small piece of woodland.

dsc_0677I stand amongst the willow and have a ‘Walter Mitty’ moment whereupon one day I might spot a Purple Emperor butterfly flitting overhead, (the caterpillars feed on goat willow leaves).

As willow branches, (withe), are straight and very flexible they are ideal for weaving, so we decided to have a go at making our own Christmas wreaths.

dsc_0668dsc_0670Here I have to admit that the lovely OH is far better at weaving than I so I soon handed the job of making the woven rings over to him. We had gathered some branch trimmings of spruce when we collected our Christmas tree; the remainder of foliage came from the holding.  With a glass of dessert wine and a few biscotti to hand, we set to….

dsc_0668bdsc_0671One smallholding wreath!




it’s beginning to feel like a lot like Christmas…

…especially when the aroma from spices like star anise perfume the kitchen.

We’ve been storing some pears in a little fridge in an outbuilding.  The Williams were still nice and firm, so I decided to use them to make Tom Kerridge’s version of spiced pear chutney.

dsc_0649 dsc_0655dsc_0667The recipe calls for a small amount of perry, the pear version of cider.  We don’t produce enough pears for perry making so I headed off to our local grocery store. The most famous brand, of course, is that great retro drink, ‘Baby Cham’.  I didn’t realise that the brand was still around but it is! though it’s not stocked at my local; which is a shame as I seem to recall that the bottles were quite small which would have been handy as the recipe only needed 100ml.

Though we  are in December, I don’t like to start decorating for Christmas too early, however, we will be getting our tree this Sunday.  Once again it will come from a neighbour’s small plantation of Norway Spruce, a tree I much prefer to the Nordmann fir in spite of the propensity to drop its needles.  I understand that this year our neighbour has upped his retail offering and made a netting machine from an old oil drum.

In anticipation of the tree’s arrival, I have been rescuing forlorn baubles from the charity shop…..

dsc_0664….getting a lot like Christmas.