28 May 2013

Beehive boggle

Did a beginners' beekeeping course last week - hurray! Fascinating stuff, and have been dreaming of bees every night since.
It is also mind-boggling stuff, especially as you need to get yourself a beehive (and other bits of equipment) before you can give a colony of bees a home. But beehive is not like beehive is not like beehive: there is a confusing number of versions and options, from the minor detail to the drastically redefined. Reading more and more and more about it all has been a major distraction and obsession for the last few days.

One thing I know: I would like to keep bees as kindly and naturally as possible. But then there is nothing natural about keeping bees in a wooden box (quote from the weekend course) - indeed. Surely though, there must be different degrees of intervention...?!

'Modern beekeeping' has changed little for over 150 years, so there is a lot of "it's always done that way" attitudes around. And those who dare to have differing opinions are often just as opinionated. Apparently, if you ask two beekeepers the same question you'll get three contradicting answers.
So how on earth is a beginner to draw their own conclusions and make their own informed decisions? Yes, you have to start somewhere and make it up while you going along, but then this brings us back to the question of the bee hive...

07 May 2013

Glorious spring day

Rain doesn't matter when you get glorious days like this - worth waiting for through a whole week of rain (which rarely happens, even during this awful last winter).
And yes, you an just about see our house in this landscape too!

05 May 2013

Flashback: Leaving London

I lived in London - in Brixton - for 15 years. Until a few years ago I would not have wanted it any other way. But then the cats came... and I realised I had enough of big city life and all its trappings. I realised I don't need to be sure that the restaurants/shops/bars/cinema/gigs are just around the corner, if I actually prefer to hang out at home with the cats or in the park with the dog. I realised it was time to leave.
What I will miss: cycling everywhere, NEVER driving a car, the colourful madness of Brixton market where you can buy fresh herbs by the bagful. Anything else? I don't think so! It really was time to leave!
It took a couple of years of musing, of debating with myself, it took the enthusiastic support of a true companion and a trip on a whim to North Wales...and everything just fell into place.

This photo: Lenya Bass

04 May 2013

On the big cushion

The cats took over the new dog bed in no time. Poor Mojo never even got a chance.

03 May 2013

Wild garlic!

Loads of it - more or less everywhere in the woods. I first noticed a massed sprouting of spade-shaped leaves in early March. As the leaves grew thicker, I also occasionally noticed a faint garlicky smell in the air. I didn't make the connection between the leaves and the smell for several weeks - I was thinking it looked rather like a carpet of lily-of-the-valley.
Then (while miles away on travels) I accidentaly read a newspaper article about seasonal wild garlic recipies - and then it suddenly struck me: we got carpets of the stuff just down the lane!
The aroma is subtly yet unmistakably one of garlic, in a fresh, delicate kind of way. Now we got to try it out in lots of ways, before the brief season is over with flowering. If you have any ideas or tried & tested favourites let me know!

Here's the best impromtu recipe so far:

4 eggs (from this morning)
a little milk
handful of freshly picked wild garlic, finely sliced
half a tin (100g) of laverbread (Welsh speciality of cooked, tinned seaweed)
sea salt & freshly ground pepper
toasted rye bread to serve
>> Mix eggs, milk & laverbread, salt & pepper, cook as scrambled eggs on gentle heat, add the wild garlic when just about cooked. Serve with toasted rye bread (or other dark, rustic bread).

02 May 2013

Queen of the garden

Even (often guarded) Psipsina is getting that spring feeling!