Hopbines Blog

What happened to May – and June – and half of July?

I did say that my blog posts might be rather random and they certainly are!

Below, in italics, are two attempts to write Blog entries which didn’t get finished or published.

So, where are we? Well, Broad Beans have come and gone – mostly in the freezer. Had some with the Toad-in-the hole for dinner this evening and they were very good. Strawberries are all over – very poor crop. Raspberries are still going strong and we don’t really know what to do with them all. The hens are helping out as they love them! Jam made, many frozen. Rhubarb and Raspberry crumble tomorrow and some puree on the go. Gooseberries went into pies and pudding recipes, some wonderful ice cream and the rest in the freezer. Red and Black Currants are looking good and should be picked in the next week or so. Had a good few Loganberries this year too. Courgettes are daily. Mange Tout, Snap Peas are not too bad. Peas will start to be picked in the next day or two. Potatoes are OK but couldn’t keep them wet enough in May for there to be a great crop. Carrots are looking good and the Kale is excellent. Cabbages soon too. A very good garlic crop is drying in the garage, and the onions and shallots will be ready to harvest when they have dried out from the rain over the last few days.

The whole garden has been weeded and tidied once and I’m now well into the second pass. The weather is helping now by encouraging the weeds to grow again!

As we are supporting a family member we are now self-isolating again for the whole of July. We did venture out to Sutton Hoo a couple of weeks ago. It was very quiet. Apart from essential trips to get food for ourselves, the hens and for the bird feeders we haven’t really been anywhere much. Looking forward to August when we can see all the family again.

As I’m writing this the Government have announced further easing of restrictions so we may be able to start up the Table Tennis Club again soon.

Daily walks continue with over 100 consecutive days walked by the end of June!! It has been noticeable that the number of local walkers and cyclists has reduced significantly since the restrictions have been eased. Social distancing doesn’t seem so prominent now either!

Guess you are all bored with this now, so here are a few photos from our daily walks around Long Thurlow.

Stormy Skies
Hogweed for dinner!
Poppy
Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly
From a footpath

That’s it for now. Who knows I may write again soon , or it may be a while. For those who do read this, thank you. As always your comments are welcome.

Well I did start to write a Blog entry in mid-May as you will see below but events have rather overtaken me . Well, actually, it is the lack of events as most of my time has been spent in the garden – morn ’til night! Never had to do so much watering in May before. Of course daily walks, and family Zoom meetings continued too as well as the odd “Click and Collect” adventure. We did have a Saturday of May Mayhem when all the family and a friend from New Zealand had a Zoom day of making various things like a Maypole, birthday cards, paper WW2 planes and, of course, a quiz.

I have left the original blog entry here as, having gone to the effort of writing it,

So here we are almost in mid-May and still “locked down” in Long Thurlow, as is everywhere else. Could be worse as we have some lovely walks locally and a good sized garden to play in.

All the back garden has now been weeded and tidied and the weeds are happily growing again waiting for me to remove them again! The front borders weeding project is abut one-third of the way through and is a rather bigger task than I first thought.

All the remaining vegetable seeds have been set – Runner, Dwarf and Bolotti beans, Courgettes, Marrows etc. and the Sweetcorn. The Bed Bed has mostly been sown and seedlings already showing through. Peas still have to go out into the garden from the greenhouse but the weather needs to warm up a bit before they can be planted.

The little girl next door came down the Lane next to ours today with her Mum looking for the centre of the earth, which is a long way down she said. She wants to find it it as the dinosaurs live there, and they will eat all the virus up apparently! A 4 year-olds take on the Coronavirus solution!

STAYING AT HOME!

So it is a couple of weeks since my last post, and I’ve continued to weed the garden, every day until a couple of days ago when it started to rain. Much needed but disappointing that I didn’t quite finish weeding and tidying the final border in the back garden – well only just started it actually. As you can see the garden is looking fairly OK now. Still have the front borders to do as well.

Fishpond with pole growing well!!
The Gnome seems happy!
Just a weeded Border.

Additionally a couple of objects for the garden have been put together. A Bed Bed for Valerie and a cover for the carrots to stop the carrot root fly. Here is the Bed Bed, the carrot cover is too boring to photograph. The Bed Bed has now had a liner and soil put in and seeds planted. Let’s see how well it grows.

Bed Bed

Sadly one of the hens has passed away so only five are left now, and they are old so not laying much. Three (or four) new hens have been ordered from Katie at Rectory Farm in Thurston. http://www.purebreedpoultry.com/ and these will be collected in early June, hopefully.

Peas are coming up nicely in the gutters in which we start them off and will be ready to go out next week some time. Sweetcorn, Runner Beans, Courgettes, Marrows and Squashes will be set in the next few days. Yes, later than most people but it works in our garden.

Our daily walks are taking us to places where we have never been in the 26+ years we have lived here. Hundred Lane is a really good walk although we have only walked part of it so far. It is close to where East and West Suffolk meet and this is the bridge across the border, and an Oak Tree from another walk because I like taking photos of old Oak Trees.

Where East meets West – Suffolk
Oak Tree in Hantons Lane, Gt. Ashfield

Interestingly this morning, we saw a family taking a goose for a walk. Yes, a goose. They weren’t talkative so we couldn’t ask about it or take a photo. Social distancing at its best! Reminded me of the old paintings of flocks of geese etc. being driven to market.

Finally, as I’ve probably bored you enough, here is an Aquilegia flower for all our wonderful NHS people and everyone else helping to keep the country running.

Aquilegia Flower

And finally, finally here is a Spitfire to wish Captain/Colonel Tom a very happy 100th birthday.

Grace Spitfire ML407, Felixstowe, Suffolk – 4th August 2013

Settling Down

So the Easter “break” is over and we hope everyone found ways to enjoy themselves at home and all are safe and well. Our virtual Easter Eggstravangaza went rather well on Saturday I thought. It was good to be able to see friends in New Zealand as well as more local friends and family though the wonders of Zoom.

I guess everyone will now start to settle into the routine of our new, and hopefully temporary, “normal” as it seems it will be like this for the next few weeks. Locally everyone still seems to be adhering to the new rules on social distancing and being very polite, although I do find that some Lycra-clad cyclists with racing bikes seem to think they own the road and social-distancing is not for them.

I amused myself on my early Sunday morning run/jog by running along the white lines in the middle of the road through Walsham-le-Willows to see how far I could get before seeing a car. Managed about three quarters of the way through the village before a car or two came along. Can’t think where they were going that early on Easter Sunday morning – churches and shops closed, and I guess pharmacies too. I hope they were NHS, Carer or other key workers.

I do find it rather odd that a lot of people seem to be having difficulty staying at home. I have great sympathy for those living in flats or apartments who are not able to get out at all, and those self-isolating for 12 weeks without being able to leave home, but when we were young we didn’t go out much. A week (sometimes two) in August to Sheringham staying with various Aunts was our only holiday of the year. We might have the occasional Sunday bus jaunt to an Aunt and Uncle but never more than about 10- 15 miles from home. Very occasionally we might go on the bus into the fine city of Norwich – a monumental 12 miles away. The rest of the time we were in the house or garden or around our home town of Aylsham. Of course, the current rules are more restrictive, but they will only be temporary.

The largest border in the garden has now been thoroughly weeded and most of the Ground Elder and Celandine removed as you will see from the picture. This was done over a number of days because of the heat, then the cold! Broad Beans have also been set out in the garden as you can see. Three rows of Carrots have also gone in.

Large Border, Hopbines Garden
Broad Beans, Hopbines Garden

Daily walks continue and new routes are under consideration. Here are a couple of photos from last week on a warm and sunny morning just 15 minutes walk from home.

Wood, Gt. Ashfield/Daisy Green
Blackthorn Blossom, Daisy Green

Will post again soon.

I’m just so busy

You would have thought that with not being able to go out, or do any of my Table Tennis stuff, I would have plenty of time to write. Not so. If fact it has been busier than ever here. Six new vegetable beds were completed by the end of March and a photo is below. This turned out to be a heavy and drawn out task. Getting each of the beds level was the most time-consuming. Replacing is always much more difficult than a having a “green field” site. Anyway the sides may need a bit more internal support but I will see how they work for a while first.

Six New Vegetable Beds

50 potatoes have been planted in one bed and another 24 in potato sacks. 3 rows of Tender & True Parsnip seeds were set today. Valerie has been extremely busy over the past few weeks setting seeds. Many of these are nearly ready to be pricked out. Indeed the Tomatoes and Chilli seedlings have been potted on in the last couple of days.

My annual battle against Ground Elder has started. There will only be one winner though – the Ground Elder. A neighbour said he had tried to kill a patch of Ground Elder with chemicals (not something I would ever condone) but it still came up the next year! The best I will do is reduce the spread a bit.

We have had some good local walks recently and saw three Roe Deer the other day. There were a long way away but here is a reasonable ( I think) photo of them.

Roe Deer near Badwell Ash Hall, Suffolk

There were also some good cloud formations .

Clouds near Long Thurlow, Suffolk

So we start week 3 of the Stay at Home – Protect the NHS – Save Lives campaign and hope everyone is complying. In our sleepy hamlet everyone seems to be doing so. Ironically we have seen more people walking the local footpaths to shout “Hello” to than we usually do. Everyone is keeping the required distance though. Sadly the father of one of our neighbours has succumbed to Coronavirus. We didn’t know him and he didn’t live locally but it makes you realise how important is reducing contact with others everywhere. As well as the NHS of course, there are many others working to keep us fed and healthy. So just a big thank you to Suffolk Dairies of Stowmarket who continue to deliver our milk every day.

Hopefully, now that all the urgent garden stuff is nearing completion these Blogs might be more regular – or not. Stay safe and well.

Strange Times at Hopbines

So here we are just coming to the end of the first week of restrictions on our movements in the fight against Corvid-19. The NHS and other essential services are doing a magnificent job of organising the country so that the virus can be fought, and everyone should be extremely grateful to them. It is sad that a small minority are unable to understand the seriousness and enormity of the situation and not doing what is required. Whatever our opinions of those in government and major national organisations, this is the time to, support them not to oppose them. Nobody knows what the right thing to do is as we have never been in this situation before and going on the best medical and scientific advice seems the best way forward to me. We are fortunate that we live in times where there is excellent communication and medicine and science are sufficiently far advanced to at least give a chance of finding a cure in a reasonable timespan. Previous generations would have not had such help and advice.

So, you may be asking, or not, as the case may be why the blog hasn’t been updated recently. Well, despite being unable to go out because of the restrictions it has been an extremely busy time in the garden. The new vegetable beds weren’t ready for the spring as planned because we had such a wet winter. The autumn garden weed didn’t happen because of the wet weather too so there is much catching up to do. Also, of course, organising food has taken up more hours than it ever has before.

Some close family members are in the extremely vulnerable category, so time has been spent making sure they are OK and chatting to them. Who would have thought that Mother’s Day would be via a Zoom conference!!

I guess that everything will start to settle down into a new
routine this coming week. Not perhaps a very pleasant one particularly for
those cooped up in their houses but we will try to keep them cheerful and
upbeat.

I’m sure you would be disappointed if I didn’t display the annual daffodil photos so here they are, together with early progress on some new vegetable bed enclosures.

The plan is to bore you all with regular garden updates of
what has been sown and how things are progressing. There will be some photos of
the garden as we go. Obviously, there will be no trips out so everything will
be garden or local area based as I often take my camera on our daily exercise
trips. We are so fortunate living in the countryside as have some lovely walks
and we come across only a few people when we are out, and they are mostly in
the distance.

So, that will do for now and I will write again soon.

It’s been a funny week!

A visit to Anglesey Abbey last week to see this year’s snowdrop display was very pleasant. The snowdrops didn’t seem to be as prolific this year. Maybe it is just that we have got used to seeing them as we go most years. However the sun shone most of the day and here are a couple of photos.

Snowdrops, Anglesey Abbey NT
Winter Garden, Anglesey Abbey NT

Then we had Storm Ciara so nothing was done in the garden for a few days. Not much damage done just the carrot frame broken to pieces and the large gnome flat on its face! Now we have Storm Dennis, so again not gardening weather. So looking forward to getting back to the garden and being able to show you some garden photos. In the meantime here is a Pitcher plant flower. You may have seen it on FB but I quite like it so here it is again.

Sarracenia, Pitcher Plant,

It was cold at Lackford Lakes.

This post was originally published on January 22, 2020.

So, after an exciting trip to the hospital for the annual CT scan on 21st January, we went to Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s nature reserve at Lackford Lakes for coffee and cake. Parts of the lakes were still frozen, but we still saw 31 different bird species. Photography was difficult because the light was not great most of the time, and the Kingfisher insisted on sitting in the bushes. Here are a few photos from later in the day when the sun did break through.

Lackford Lakes 21/01/2020
Lackford Lakes 21/01/2020
Lackford Lakes 21/01/2020

Visual Composer Abandoned – For Now

Having created some nice blogs with Visual Composer we discovered that Blog posts which were either created or edited with this programme couldn’t be seen by much of the big wide world either properly or at all. So the blog will just be written with WordPress functionality, at least in the short-term. Most of the Blog posts which used Visual Composer have been deleted.

Saturday 11th January 2020

We haven’t been far in January so far but have been busy at home. A calendar contain 12 of our favourite photos from 2019 has been prepared and printed by Photobox and looks good hanging in the kitchen.

Just so I can see what it looks like here is a photo from a visit to the fine city of Norwich just before Christmas. It is the (now) annual Tunnel of Light.