Farewell sweet summer

I adore Autumn; its throbs of juicy blackberries cluttering the bushes, trees twisting to umber and all around, the soft delicate colours of summer ebbing gently away…blowing her last kiss.

This summer we moved into our new nest, and we are achingly lucky, although, we have no sofa, grubby carpets, not a shelf for a book nor a cupboard for our clothes – we are blissfully happy.
Perched on the top of a hill, Tutton no less, we have a stunning view of the valley and the mornings often give way to this, a sea of mist below.
Framed by our neighbours roofs and enthralled by a lone starling starting up the day for me on its morning maiden voyage.

Bean endowment

Broad beans, carrots, plums, pears, apples, runner beans, cauliflowers, cabbages, potatoes, the bounty dripping off the vegetable plot at my mum and dads house this summer has been melodious. We have feasted like kings on great bowls of fresh runner beans steamed and lathered with melting butter and a frolicking of french sea salt…….scrummmdiddly.

The children love it too and, to be frank, nothing tastes more wonderful than a freshly picked pea or a head of cabbage, as we should all know by now if we listen to the vast array of chefs who continually intone; seasonal, seasonal, seasonal…
I love to get the children involved in picking, plucking and podding. I send Fealte up the pear or plum tree if there is one particlularly perfect looking specimen waaaay above my head and Betty-Blanche prefers nothing better than digging in the mud for potatoes, or carrots or beets.
As we have just moved into the house of our very dreams, I thought, really too late in the year, that I should get down and groovy with my new, small, veg patch.
So I spent a full day turning over the soil and removing a whole host of strange looking, seriously stubborn green beasts, and with a profound sense of pleasure and achievement I planted a very small courgette plant. One I had procured from an honest lad at the school fete; he had grown it from seed and I was heartily impressed with his apparently blasé success.
So in it went, tucked up and fed with a great drink of agua. The next day I went to visit my newly planted green baby, already fantasizing about the courgette glut I was so obviously to expect, as it is, according to my veg book, a bloody easy plant to grow.
But, yeeuuuuuuchhhh, it’s leaves had been eaten by foul slugs and slimy snails, ergo I put loads of slug pellets down and went about my business, pretending to myself I was and am the keen garden professional and this is one small setback in my plan to…succeed.
The next day I went to view yet more dead snails and slugs, and the next day more, and more and really my veg patch has become a graveyard to many, many molluscs and my courgette plant is a yellowed and wilted affair from far too much rain and too many mollusc munchers, which quite frankly are putting me off my pathetic attempt at vegetable domination.
What on earth should I do next year when I really would like to achieve some kind of vegetable production on the very simplest foundation.
Any mollusc murdering advice greatly appreciated.

R.I.P Sunny

Death, has become a hot topic in our house; as our children have grown they regularly discuss everyones mortality…

I have a theory that I should always be honest when discussing anything with my children…which I instantly regret when put upon to chat about the end of life as we know it with two six-year olds. However, I have to be realistic to them and to myself – death is part of life.
One fateful day this August we fell upon Sunny; a tiny fluffy hen chick racing down an empty lane towards, apparently, nowhere. My daughter picked him up and…instantly fell in love. As did her twin brother and younger sister. We spent the rest of the afternoon trying to locate Sunny’s mother, siblings, the farm or house he came from, but, alas, no-one seemed to own him.
So, we realised, he was now our responsibility. We got a box, some hay, a sheepskin, some water – mashed some vegetables up, we tried, in vain, to feed him, to make him drink water. We shone a lamp on him to keep him warm, we wrapped him in wool but alas all to no avail – Sunny cheeped endlessly for his mother. My daughter, miraculously, managed to get him to sleep and we all went to bed worrying for his welfare.
The morning brought us terrible news, Sunny could barely stand, he was bedraggled and, quite simply, dying – he held out most of the day until he finally surrendered and departed this life.
Blimey – what a black day that was.
So we had our first taste of death and Felix (6yrs) was distraught, Millie his twin sister appeared more tough and Betty their 3yr sister wondered why Sunny slept all the time.
We created, naturally, a shoe box tomb. Filled it with pictures, a fat ball, a toy soldier to protect him and some wool to keep him warm. My children worried desperately about his welfare in death; and heaven and its bouncy fluffy clouds offered them great comfort.
Thank, God – there is some consolation to offer a grieving child. The concept of an all-encompassing god-like father figure out there ready to comfort and cuddle with a whole host of big fluffy clouds for little chicks, and grandpa’s, to bounce on was a great relief all round and helped ease the pain of their new-found grief.
If only, I wish to myself, as my father battles against cancer, this could be true.
R.I.P Sunny, bounce on for us.