Celia Hart's blog about what's going on in and around her studio.
Art, printmaking, inspirations, gardening, vegetables, hens, landscapes, wild flowers, East Anglia, adventure, travel.

Friday 31 May 2013

The Hen-wife's Tale

. . . Chanticleer Cheep stood high upon his toes, 
Stretching his neck, and both his eyes did close, 
And so did crow right loudly, for the nonce; 

And Russel Fox, he started up at once, 
And by the gorget grabbed our Chanticleer Cheep, 
Flung him on back, and toward the wood did steer . . .

This simple widow and her daughters two We
heard these hens cry and make so great ado, 
And out of doors they started on the run 

And saw the fox into the grove just gone, 
Bearing upon his back the cock away. 
And then they cried, "Alas, and weladay! 

Oh, oh, the fox!" and after him they ran.

This cock, which lay across the fox's back, 

In all his fear unto the fox did clack 
And say: "Sir, were I you, as I should be, 
Then would I say (as God may now help me!), 
'Turn back again, presumptuous peasants all! 
A very pestilence upon you fall! 
Now that I've gained here to this dark wood's side, 
In spite of you this cock shall here abide. 
I'll eat him, by my faith, and that anon!'" 

The fox replied: "In faith, it shall be done!" 

And as he spoke that word, all suddenly 
This cock broke from his mouth, full cleverly.

And that (with apologies to Geoffrey Chaucer) is more or less what happened on Monday evening when Cheep was grabbed by a fox and miraculously escaped with a scratch and rather less feathers than he had earlier in the day.

Unfortunately our relief at Cheep's miraculous escape from the jaws of death, turned to sadness when, on Wednesday, I discovered that Bryony was missing . . . presumed taken to be Russel Fox's supper.

Of the three new pullets we got last October, I think Bryony was my favourite. She was bossy and annoying (especially when she spent three weeks insisting she was broody!)

We will miss her, I think Cheep misses her, and this weekend for the last time we will enjoy her final beautiful dark brown egg.


Friday 24 May 2013

How do you select a holiday destination?

Do you visit the same holiday destination over an over again? Or, do you prefer to visit a different places? And how to you choose where to go?

Earlier this year Cliff and I saw a small exhibition at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge, it was about ancient carvings on rocks . . . some were 8000 years old! The exhibition PITOTI "explored the links between the world of archaeology and the world of film, digital humanities and computer vision"What was fascinating was the use of 3D printing to recreate the carving as models you could pick up and handle . . . something I'm sure will be much used in in museum displays in the future.

We found out the carvings are found in the Val Camonica, in Lombardy in northern Italy extending north from Lake Iseo (which is one of the Italian lakes near Como and Garda, but you probably haven't heard of it because it seems that the Italians want to keep it all to themselves!)

Last week we flew to Italy for a holiday, we stayed in Iseo and had a stunning view of Lake Iseo from our room. It was only a short walk to the railway station to catch a train up the valley to Capo di Ponte, the town nearest to a large number of the rock carvings.

I'd be lying if I said we joined the hundreds of other visitors to the Archaeological sights . . . in fact we may have been the only visitors that day! But there were some information boards and signs pointing the way up the hill outside the town.

We found a fenced off area with large boulders in a grassy area at the foot of a cliff . . . the boulders were covered with carvings!

Nearby we spotted a small museum full of photos and casts of most of the significant carvings; there were also some fascinating reconstructions of tools and cutting and carving methods. I think the person who showed us the exhibits was the museum founder, Dr Ausilio Priuli.

We were recommended to walk further up the hill to another park where there were many more carvings on the exposed rock faces.

Some carvings were easy to spot, others were subtle and indistinct; but it was a beautiful place and the rocks were surrounded by beautiful mountain wildflowers and trees.

The views were stunning!

We had a lovely relaxing week in Iseo – catching trains, boats and buses to explore the nearby towns and villages. I'd forgotten just how beautiful Italy is!

I bought vegetable seeds and had a pistachio ice-cream . . . that equals a perfect holiday for me!

Yes it rained at bit, but even the storms are picturesque when it's warm enough to sit outside with your shoes off!

Back home, I'm paddling madly to catch up with work. Fingers crossed the weather warms up this weekend so I can sow those vegetable seeds :-)

But right now I'm going to snuggle up on the sofa with a hot drink and a piece of Amaretto chocolate.

Celia xx

Sunday 12 May 2013

Laughter really is a good tonic

On Saturday we went to Wembley . . . no, not to the Cup Final . . . the Arena, to see the Eddie Izzard gig 'Force Mageure'.

We had a great time (I ached a bit from laughing at the bit about dressage being useful for reversing a horse into a cupboard) and it makes quite a change to be in a massive arena full of thousands of people.

After the show we walked the short distance back to the hotel, had a beer and fell asleep . . . So much better than driving all the way back to Suffolk. This morning we decided to find somewhere to explore before heading home, so we went to Hampstead and after a lovely breakfast we went to Fenton House . . . and it turned out to be a wonderful surprise! I think it may be my idea of a perfect garden, because there were all the things I like most . . .

 a lovely lean-to greenhouse, 
lots of seats and lovely secret corners 

beautiful but simple topiary

an orchard with wild flowers in the grass under the trees

a walled veg plot with perfectly trained fruit trees

and a very tame robin

Who would have thought you could be in such a beautiful tranquil garden, but still see the sky scrapers of central London from 4th floor balcony?!

The rooms in Fenton House are full of the most delightful treasures . . . 18th century ceramics, embroideries of the most amazing detail and some lovely paintings. Everything was so charmingly displayed; I think I could happily spend a whole day in each room looking at all the things in detail.

I came away with my relaxed mind buzzing with ideas!


Saturday 4 May 2013

PPP now means Pigeon Proof Pen

Hello! I've had an enforced break from blogging (reason: illusive cable snappage = no broadband) but I'm back and I'd like to welcome anyone who has found Purple Podded Peas via this lovely recommendation by that very nice chap Ryan in a rather good magazine called The Edible Garden (I'm not a huge reader of gardening mags, but this one is full of very interesting stuff).

So, what's all this about Purple Podded Peas? Regular visitors to my blog will know that I ramble on about all sorts of things, including our garden; but the peas haven't played a major role for the past couple of years mainly do to the ****ing pigeons. Now, I don't usually swear and I hardly ever cry, but the ****ing pigeons have made me do both over the past two or three growing seasons. I used to be able to grow tall wigwams of beautiful heritage peas with just a few pigeon-distraction measures in the early stages of growth. THEN (I can feel myself getting angry and upset just remembering this) the ****ing pigeons used nasty tactics; they waited until my peas were tall and covered with beautiful flowers and tiny pods and in a dawn raid they demolished the lot!

Something had to be done.
a) I could give up growing peas (I have saved seeds of over a dozen heritage varieties, most with purple pods) – that's not going to happen
b) I could buy an air gun, learn how to use it and live on pigeon breast terrine – I seriously considered this option
c) I could install a 'fruit cage' – previously ruled out due to huge expense

Earlier this year I noticed a tiny advert in a national newspaper: Henry Cowles - netting made in Britain since 1889, could they supply the solution at a price I could afford? . . . yes they could! AND what's more, the cage is made to measure so it perfectly fits over two of the raised beds in our vegetable garden :-)

The cage arrived . . . and it had to be constructed. Luckily I have a very tall person who was up to the task :-) 

The Pigeon Proof Pen (as it will now be called) has made me deliriously happy . . . for the price of one designer shoe my peas can grow, safe in the knowledge that the squadron of elite attack pigeons cannot harm them :-)

I start the peas in large deep pots in the greenhouse, when they are a few inches tall and with good roots, I plant then out around wigwams made of canes (home harvested form a giant miscanthus grass) and twiggy sticks (prunings from the garden shrubs)

One half of the Pigeon Proof Pen is now planted with five wigwams: Shiraz Purple Podded Mangetout, Tutankhamun, Curruther's Purple Podded, Robinson and Salmon Flowered.

The wigwams will be interplanted with various varieties of lettuce and brassicas.

Thanks to the Pigeon Proof Pen, the Purple Podded Peas have returned to the PPPs Blog!