Tuesday, 31 May 2011

BH Monday at Fort Nelson

We decided to make a trip to Fort Nelson for this Bank Holiday Monday. The weather forecast was for rain during the day so we went there knowing that some of it is indoors so we could hopefully skip the showers. As it was it didn't rain until we just got into the car to return home, so it was a good day.

Fort Nelson was built in the 1860s, as part of a chain of fortifications protecting 
the great naval harbour of Portsmouth in Hampshire and its Royal Dockyard 
from a feared French invasion.
Covering nearly 19 acres and now fully restored, Fort Nelson sits majestically 
atop Portsdown Hill, with amazing views of the Solent and the Meon Valley. 
The Fort stands today as a monument to the skills and ingenuity of 
Victorian engineering and architecture.
Opened in 1995 as home to the Royal Armouries collection of artillery, Fort Nelson has 
over 350 big guns and historic cannon on display, all part of the national collection 
of arms and armour. 

It's a really impressive Fort, and a free day out although donations are welcome to help it's upkeep, keeping it free to visit. As it was clear and dry on arrival we headed to the top and walked around the Ramparts and took in the views.
 Imogen was very excited to explore the Fort

There was going to be a live firing of a canon at 1pm so we went along to see that and wow was it loud, twice too. You can pay £25 to fire it so long as you are aged 14 or over, Imogen decided she wouldn't want to do it though.
Big Bang!!!
Imogen really enjoyed having her camera today, and I could see myself in the way she was framing photos, she's watched me enough times! We saw many many cannons and big guns - I think Imogen may well have taken a photo of all of them!

 Big Guns and Cannons

On the subject of photos, Imogen took 161 photos today, and would you believe it ... I took 161 photos too, spooky.
Imogen the budding photographer
Model of HMS Warrior which Imogen remembered going on

Imogen sat here at the front top of the Fort overlooking Portsmouth - can you see the Spinnaker Tower through the Arrow hole slits?

Imogen on the wall
Here it is closer view through the slit ...
 ... see the Spinnaker Tower now?

The banks were covered in parts with beautiful Oxeye Daisies which we both enjoyed photographing.

Beautiful Oxeye Daisies

We also ventured down the very long cold dark tunnel taking us deep underground, it was a great adventure. Through the tunneled bedrock I pointed out the seams of flint in the rocks to Imogen which she thought were fascinating and wanted to know more. I talked about Geology study (something Mommy studied years ago) and Imogen said she wanted to study Geology so I can see a little project possibility there for us, following in her Mama's footsteps with her love of the natural environment.

 Tunnel view

I took a photo of these buckets for sand and water - a reminder that fire when the fort was in use could have been disastrous, and a lovely image too.

Some more photos outside on the way home. We had a good day, I would recommend a visit if you're nearby.


Long time no blogging, must catch up and first is one of those wonderful things I look forward to in May, the Elder flowers and they were even earlier again this year, ready to pick at the beginning of May.

These beautiful blooms of elder flowers have been intoxicating lately, I pass them every day in the morning and afternoon, and their heavy scent has been delightful.

That scent can just keep on giving now too as these wonderful blooms have been transformed into Elderflower and Honey cordial. Delicious.

We are giving the elderflower champagne a miss this year, too many other things going on and lack of space so we shall return to brewing this delicious drink again next year probably.

And so the season moves on, these are already turning now, so I shall look forward to picking the berries in the Autumn now.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Predicting a bumper fruit year

Just look at the fruit on these trees, it's going to be a bumper harvest again this year.

Pear Tree
This Pear tree did okay last year although not as good as the year before where we had well over 100 fruit - it's not  big tree. This year looks like it will be similarly abundant.

 Desert apple tree

The desert apple tree at the allotment - masses of fruit as usual. I haven't checked the Worcester in the garden, but it's a later one so the fruit are probably just forming - there were masses of blossom so should be good too.

Fig tree

The Fig tree is doing good this year too - lots of fruit there and it's more open now so should ripen lovely.

Bramley Apple Tree

These beauties are on the apple tree I've mentioned before - dug up and removed from the garden where it wasn't doing well, and replanted with fingers crossed at the allotment. It's shown good signs of life and now these lovely fruits so it was worthwhile moving this.

And a tale of two vines - one discovered  on the overgrown plot we took on and Alex is trying to see what it may do this year. There were grapes on it last year, so with a bit of care and attention it may do well.

 Rescued Vine - white grape, no idea on variety

Boskoop Glory Vine
(currently interplanted with Garlic and Broad Beans and many spare canes!)
This one is one we bought last year - after much searching for the much recommended Boskoop Glory by Bob Flowerdew, apparently a really easy one to grow in the UK.

The gooseberries are abundant too and ready to pick soon, the rhubarb is coming to an end. Oh I must go and see how the currants and blueberries are doing. I've seen flowers on the Kiwi - fingers crossed that some pollination goes on. Not a fruit but a nut - the Almond has a few nuts forming too.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Sowing, Hoeing, Growing ... and eating

Couldn't think of another word to rhyme to express eating or harvesting!

Busy, busy days in the greenhouse, garden and allotment. I think we're doing pretty good this year at keeping on top of the sowing, although more to do. I really want to keep the succession of crops going this year - often it just ebbs away as the season progresses. It's an aim though, and going okay at the moment.

Work going on at the allotment recently looks like this ...

One of the boxes of seedlings taken up
 Celeriac seedlings planted out
(yes, I use slug pellets or I'd lose everything!)
Carrots and mixed lettuce leaves
 Beetroots above, lettuce below

 More Beetroot, Kohl Rabi and Lettuce
 Garlic beds and Sorrel and Chard interplanted
 Beans mulched with skirtings from fleeces, and Peas

... and oops, I've let the herb spiral become rather overgrown with Sage. Must work on that one soon, harvest and dry or freeze a load. There are other herbs in there somewhere!

overgrown herb spiral

Harvesting Broad Beans at the moment, we have pinched out the shoots to hopefully avoid the blackfly problem, and we have eaten these in salads - delicious. Also harvesting pea shoots for salads, and numerous salad leaves - lettuces, sorrel, rockets, mizuna, etc. We've picked the last of the chard from last years plants as they have been trying to flower for a while, we cut out the flowering spike for a while to delay this but eventually they exhaust themselves. They have been replaced with new plants now.

No trip to the allotment or garden even is without a bit of nature spotting, and these were some of what we saw recently.
Slow worms

Slow worms are resident on our plot and always a lovely sight to see them.

Day moth - Cinnabar

I'm not sure on the name for this one, haven't had a chance to look it up yet, anyone know? ETA: Just found it's a Cinnabar.

So more planting out this week - tomato plants, sunflowers (pretty tall now in their pots!), and more beans, courgettes and more (can't think what's out there). More sowing too. Oh and that poor herb spiral. It's all good.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Back in business ... and what else we're doing today

Woohoo, look what just got delivered.

connector for the treadle

My lovely lady will be repaired today and back doing what she does best, spin, spin, spin ...

We're off to a birthday party at lunchtime today, so I will fit this this afternoon, help Imogen with her pirate boat building for school - will share pictures as it is looking cool.

This evening we may be going to an evening with bats, bat detective work in a churchyard and batty crafts. Depending on how tiredness levels are later, but it will be great to go along to this museums at night event.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Poorly wheel ...

My poor Louet, needs a little attention as this happened yesterday evening whilst plying  ...

... and snap! The connector from the treadle to the connecting rod. A replacement is on it's way though. So I shall be doing more carding this week until I can tend to her injury.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Fun at the Fair

We had a great weekend, lovely day out at the fair. We weren't sure what the weather would be after all the rain we had over Friday and Saturday night - wow, but great for the garden and the water butts!

Outside the Woodland classroom

We picked up some friends and arrived at the Sustainability Centre around 11.30am, took the tractor ride from the car park and arrived to a short sharp shower of rain, then it stopped as we got off and the day got better and better. Glorious sunshine for the rest of our visit, wonderful.

 Concentrating on the plate spinning
 walking wheels (or ankle injurers!)
Tight rope walking

We partook of circus skills, crafts and a little face painting (well Imogen did all these) - Imogen has only recently decided she would like face painted. Today she decided to have an angel painted on her face and looked lovely. Oh, and a little bee on her cheek.

My little angel

We visited the woodland classroom and heard questions and answer sessions with the Harlands, Ben Law and John-Paul Flintoff. Interesting stuff. Picked up a few seeds at the seed swap, enjoyed walking around, the atmosphere, the parade and having fun with friends.

 On parade

With some money from her nanny's visit she bought a handheld prayer drum and a finger piano (Karimba) and we made music as we walked and went on the parade.

Lost in thought playing the finger piano, chilling in the Yurt
 ... and running around having fun with the handheld drum!

Looking forward to next year already.