Friday, 20 May 2016

Attempting to bring order........

I am all painted out.
I never used to mind decorating back in our UK days,
but here I find myself getting impatient and wanting to do other things.
But the room is getting done,
and it does look nice,
but for today I needed to be outside.
No rain today, nor chilly winds,

just sunshine.
So off outside I went,
with scythe in hand and dogs following on behind,
the project being to sort out this jungle....

....which used to look like this,
but now does not.
Because we moved on to the larger vegetable paddocks,
and left this one to go its own way,
which it most surely has.
And in amongst the jungle of rampant growth are several young fruit trees,
which need to be got to so they can be watered.
So instructions were given by Himself,
that if I had time, would I go and clear the space.
Of course I had time.
The sun was shining,
so ******* the paint brushes!
Instructions had also been given from Himself,
that the spearmint needed harvesting,
so perhaps to do that as well.
Lester used to be a tea drinker,
but a few days ago he became converted to herbal tea,
spearmint in particular,
and enthuses endlessly about what a great drink it is.
For myself, I find it too strong for my stomach,
but he has developed a passion equivalent to the passion he once had for red wine.
(He still does love red wine but it does not like him)
But the dehydrated store of spearmint (harvested 2014)  has now come to an end,
and now more needs to be cut and dried.
I am now on my way to doing just that.
I did find some spearmint....
.......not as much as there used to be because the stronger growing grass is threatening to overwhelm the mint,
but I did fill the dehydrator trays with leaves to dry,
except that Himself was already raiding those leaves so he could have his cup of spearmint tea.
Normally the incoming harvest, once prepped for storage,
is then put away until the winter.
I don't think that is going to be happening with this harvest.
I did try him on the other type of mint growing here,
but definitely not, he said, it has to be spearmint.
Journeying on through the tangle,
and I came across a patch of yarrow.
I already knew it was there, and had planned to use it as a plant dye.
To confirm that it could be used as a dye,
I did a quick internet search only to find that it is a superb herb as well,
and that it could also be used as a herbal tea.
With this thought held in my mind,
and thinking that Lester might be coaxed into converting to yarrow tea to slow down his rate of consumption with the spearmint,
I scythed through the patch of yarrow.
I hope it grows again, but this time I shall look after it.
I so wanted to dehydrate it, but the spearmint took up all the room in the dehydrator,
and since the stems were wilting badly I had to put aside my thoughts of using it as a herbal tea.
It is now chopped up and soaking in water ready to be cooked tomorrow,
the destiny of this particular harvest being to dye our spun wool yarn.
There is another patch of yarrow in the first vegetable paddock,
but I shall leave that to make more of itself,
and perhaps  'borrow' snippets to dehydrate for future herbal use.
Continuing on with the scything,
and I arrived at a large patch of fennel.

This could not be cut down and harvested yet, so I will have to work my way round it.

...and a patch of borage, unusually tall.
I shall try and work round that as well.
Borage is a herb as well, but I have as yet investigated its uses.
Meanwhile, the mallow is just about to burst into flower,
and we have left that to grow wherever it wants to,
which is everywhere.
Soon we shall be gloriously swamped with purple flowers as it launches into bloom.
Alack and alas though,
I missed the nettle harvest....

I wanted to dehydrate the leaves, but things (bad weather, painting, etc) got in the way,
and before I knew it the nettles were up and away and are now flowering.
Nettles have to be harvested before they reach knee height,
and these are nearly head height.
Apparently, once they get past knee height,
 the leaves get bitter but also have a chemical
(calcium something or other I think) which is not good for us.
They nettles could still be used as fertiliser, but we have not got round to making a brew of that horrendously smelly liquid yet this year.
We have lots of nettles around, and I shall be cutting most of them down to ground level soon.
Hopefully they will continue on with growing by sending up some new shoots,
and these I shall definitely harvest for use as a herbal medicine and herbal tea.
I might even be able to convert Lester to nettle tea!
Bye for now,

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Is it me?

Is it I the only one who finds that painting with a paint roller to be the messiest business going.  Everything gets rained on by little splats of paint as I roll up and down the surface of the wall, so that it looks as if a mini snow storm has just visited.
And those little paint splatters find the tiniest bit of floor which is not covered by the dust sheet, the tiniest bit of skin which is not covered by the old clothes I am wearing for painting,
and I shall not mention the state of my hair.
So, with reluctance, it is time that I started painting the downstairs lounge / bedroom / therapy room, the reluctance made more so because it has been lovely weather and the urge to get outside and do outside things is flying through my veins, fuelled by the desire to warm my bones up.
How did last Sunday go?
Not going to say too much other than that we were parked up by the side of a road, so that a lot of the time the band felt like it was playing to passing traffic,
but the people in the cars did wave to us,
which was nice.
The sun shone a little bit, but was useless in its warmth because a chilly wind robbed it of its heat,
and so I slowly got chilled. Everyone else was alright because they moved about as they played, but I have to stay sitting down because the accordion is a heavy beast and if I stand up I am likely to topple over, especially if the ground is on an incline, and it was, not much of one, but enough to send me over backwards should a gust of wind decide to blow.
So I had to sit in one position.
The wind took much delight in sending its cold drafts of air into my bones.
And then there was the effort of keeping the music on the stand.
At one point Lester, with mandolin strapped across his chest and playing the violin meanwhile, also had one booted foot up on the music stand to stop it from blowing over.
All in all, it was a good day though,
and it was good to be out and about with our fellow musicians.
It was not the best we have played,
but it was a good exercise in being able to fit together as a team.
The band is going through changing times at the moment and needs such outings.
So although it was a good day, it gave me an inner chill which lasted for several days, which is why I had several irritable moments as I rollered those walls, breathing in the paint fumes, getting splashed with paint, hearing the chickens cooing outside the window. Their 'Oh this is lovely sun, and we are really warming up' chuckles between themselves not lending anything positive to my mood.
Of course I could have stopped the painting, but I had to start the job sometime, and I had promised myself to make the effort to get started......
This is the room....
This the wall I am working on today....
.... and I have temporarily retired the paint roller, and have found a serenity in using a paint brush.
I still get paint splots, but not many, and definitely do not get paint snow anymore.
So it takes longer to use the brush, but the payoff is my calmness of mind,
and that, for all of us living here, is a good thing.
Using the roller might be faster but my goodness me it puts me in a horrid mood,
when flashes of temper will suddenly shoot out from me,
which is not a good thing.
I do not think I am, by nature, a DIY person,
although DIY food is something which I enjoy doing,
and I love DIY crafts like sewing and knitting,
but anything related to DIY building stuff  is definitely not for me.
However, I shall continue on.....
With paint loaded into an old baked bean tin and paint brush in hand,
I shall be up the ladder again in a moment,
onwards, Vera, onwards.....!!!!
Bye for now,
One of the band members posted up some photos of last Sunday on FB:
The shearing of the sheep:
This is the man who also shears our sheep, but with electric clippers, not the hand ones he is using here.
The spinning of the wool:
.... and looking the exact opposite of how I look when I spin.
First of all, I do not wear a long blue frock and a blue hat,
and neither is the fleece I spin as clean as this lady's was.

The band:
Herve and Jacques wandering along the road playing bagpipes and drum.
The red building on the right is the bull ring.
Most villages have one.
And the rest of us:

Nellie, Jackie, me, and Lester.
 (and  a thankyou to Jackie for 'borrowing' her photos)
PS. Please excuse me not smiling in this photo, only I was busy concentrating on the music, hoping that the wind would not tip the music stand over, and thus forgot to smile!


Saturday, 30 April 2016

What are you doing on Sunday?

Well, it being May 1st,
we are going to be outside in a field,
playing music with Etceltera,
that is what we are doing
on Sunday May 1st.
And this morning, the last day of April, 
 we opened the doors to go outside to cut grass for the pigs and cows,
and it was horrid,
large winds, sleeting sharp showers,
and a chilliness in the wind which said
 'Best stay indoors today'.
And I thought of how it might be tomorrow,
when we stand in a field playing music,
if those winds blow,
(and away into the wind will go the sheet music)
and a sleety shower happens along,
( now that will mess the electric sound system up )
and if the chilliness persists,
( not too worried about that, I am still in winter thermals )
And so why are we doing this gig,
and I use the word 'gig' with relish.
We are not a celeb band,
and probably never will be with me playing in it,
so no Wembley Stadium for us,
but we are going to be playing in a field,
and that is good enough for me.
And so why are we doing this gig?
I am not sure.
I know the band will get fed,
and I know that there will be hand crafting people there,
spinners and such like,
and that sheep will get sheared,
and that there is a market of local food producers,
so I suppose it will be a country fair type of venue,
and that will do for me,
because we shall be playing for the people coming along.
 Estang, France,
on the
1st May 2016
there will be a
Journeé du mouton
( Day of the Sheep)
Tonte des moutons a partir de 10h
( Shearing of the sheep to start at 10am )
Marché des producteurs
( Farmers' Market )
Métiers anciens
( Old crafts )

Restauration a base de mouton
( Couldn't translate that!)

Annulation en cas d'intempéries
( Cancellation of bad weather)
Hope this 'all over the place' weather calms down.
Hope we are able to play.
I think it will be celebration of local country life.
It will be good to share this life,
which is slowly being eroded by the onward march of consumerism.
Hope to see you there,
but wear sturdy shoes,
it is an 'open air in a field' type of venue after all!
 Bye for now,