Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Rosie and Alice`s Adventure

This is a guest blog entry by Anne.

One dark, wet, cold winter evening, I was looking on Google and came across the
 Edenbridge and Oxted show site.
 I realised they had classes for donkeys and my mind went into over-drive.
 "Hey Tim shall we enter the donkeys into the Edenbridge show?" I asked.
 "Yes OK," he replied.
 I didn't need any further bidding. My fingers flew over the key pad and there.... it was done....
 Alice and Rosie were entered.
Easter came and went. The campsite was open. The yurts were up and guests were enjoying their stay. It was time to start training the donkeys for their big day. The first thing was to make the donkeys feel happy to be apart. That went well, as long as the donkey left behind, had a tasty treat to eat. Next, was having a donkey that would trot, in the show ring, when asked. This was more problematic. Rosie was very reluctant. We tried several methods.... running in front with a bucket of food, gentle persuasion, pleading and being cross. She eventually got the idea and we could trot round the field in unison. We were ready for our first show.

On the day of the show, Alice and Rosie were bathed, groomed and pampered, until not a hair was out of place. Their bridles and lead ropes had been polished as well as my boots. The donkeys were loaded into the trailer, my show outfit was stowed safely in the truck and off we went ...... full of hope and anticipation for the forthcoming show.
The first class was "Condition and Turn out." 
Rosie and I walked calmly into the ring, full of confidence. We walked round the ring following the other donkeys. Alice meanwhile, was waiting outside the ring with Tim and she decided that she didn't like being separated from her friend. She started calling to her. Rosie replied, and as we walked past the exit, she tried to leave the ring. Undeterred we struggled on .... me, half dragging her, and her calling out and trying to leave the ring. Meanwhile the lead donkey, now had to trot round the ring and stop when it reached the last donkey in the line. Then the next donkey did the same etc. to show themselves to the judges.
Then it was our turn!! 
"We can do this," I thought. 
"We`ve been practicing for months!" 
However Rosie decided that she didn't want to trot. This resulted in the judge having to run behind her, flapping her arms like crazy to get 10 strides of trot!! 
Well we came 4th and yes you guessed it .... there were only four donkeys in the class.

The  next class was "Best Mare." I asked Tim to take Alice back to the trailer so we didn't have any distractions. Then we could really show the judge what we were made of.
Off we went into the ring, but not feeling quite so confident this time. 
Rosie decided she didn't even want to walk round the ring. As we passed the commentators` box, the ladies clapped and thanked us for coming, as they were enjoying watching Rosie`s escapade. 
This wasn't how I had pictured the afternoon ..... all my dreams evaporated. 
As I struggled round the ring, I began to have a few negative thoughts about Rosie. 
At one point I tried to leave the ring (there is only so much humiliation one can take,) but I was encouraged to carry on by the judges. We tried to do the same as the other well-behaved donkeys, 
but we failed miserably. 
BUT.... wonder of wonders, we were placed 3rd, and there were 4 donkeys in the class.
The judge must have seen her true potential ..... all my negative thoughts were forgotten.

"Pet Donkey," was our last class, and both Alice and Rosie were in it together. 
What could go wrong! 
We walked into the ring, me with Rosie and Hollie with Alice. We received the now customary clapping and cheering from the commentators` box and took our place in line with the other donkeys. The walk-round went fine, then came the trotting. 
"Can we go together?" I asked.
"Please do," was the reply.
 Off we went for our triumphant trot round the ring. 
Only yes .... you guessed it ..... neither of them would trot.
We slunk back to the end of the line in total humiliation.
However, Rosie received 3rd place and Alice 4th ...... amazing.  
We left the ring to the cheers and standing ovation, from the commentators` box. 

We loaded Alice and Rosie back into the trailer, took our seats in the truck with rosettes adorning the dashboard, and reflected on the days` events. 
It hadn't been that bad, had it?
"Shall we try again?"
" YES!" was the resounding cry!!

 If you want to see more of Rosie and Alice`s adventures, they will be in the Lord Mayor`s Show in London, in November, with lots of other donkeys, from the Donkey Breed Society.
 They will be in the second row from the front. Please give them a cheer and a wave.


Lobster Pots and Icecreams

About half an hours drive from Freshwinds, is unique Dungeness.
For myself, I like the wide open skies and the landscape of fishing boats and bits and bobs. 
This was to have been my birthday treat but circumstances prevented it.
We chose a lovely day to visit nonetheless. 
 The houses on the eastern side stretch off in a ribbon, into the distance. When you travel on the little train, you pass by all these houses and can peep into their pebbly gardens.
We had delicious fish and chips at the Pilot, sitting in the shingle garden, watching the tiny steam train go by and waving to all the passengers.
Then we walked out to the sea, past sea cabbages and over the shingle banks to the sea where lazy fishermen dozed in the sunshine, by their rods.
Nets, lobster pots, piles of timber, rusting metal....
an artist`s paradise.
After searching for driftwood and shells, we made our way towards
Dungeness Fish Bar for icecreams.
This is an outdoor bar, made from an old container, picnic benches arranged on the shingle and obviously very popular.
There were baskets of blankets for more inclement days, but they were not needed on this day.


I loved the "carpet" which holds the ever-shifting 
shingle in one place. 

I also enjoyed the outdoor washroom facilities.
It is a great place to visit.
I love it there for all kinds of reasons.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Damson Days and Straw Strimming.

We must have harvested about two thirds of our damson crop.
As it`s a miserable wet day, I will be making the next batch of jam, if I can find enough jars.
We`ve probably had about 15lbs so far.
A brilliant crop.
We have also dug some more potatoes....very odd shapes.
 After the rain the newly planted lettuce are looking good.
Lots of butterflies around still.
They are loving the marjoram and buddleia.

I love the colour combination of rudbeckia and marjoram.
The nicotiania sylvestris is towering over the surrounding plants and smells sweet.
In the herb garden, which I cleared recently, the growth is all new and the angelica needs thinning out.
The sweetpeas continue to perfume the garden.
I carry on deadheading but do not use them as cut flowers any more.
Apart from cutting the grass under the orchard trees, we used the strimmer to dessicate straw with a view to using this finer material for our next cobbing efforts.
A lot landed on the surrounding area.

Last week Anne, Steve and I dug some clay from the Woodland yurt area and we hope to make a plaster layer for the cob shed, starting this week.
Another project is to use the willow arch trimmings to continue our new bit of wattle fencing.
One idea I had yesterday was to fashion viewing windows in the construction.
Watch this space!!!
Pumpkins are ripening far sooner than is usual.
And this lovely flower is called erodium.
I must try to remember the name. 

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Reaping Rewards

Mid August and we are well into harvesting.
Busy times but still very important to sit back and enjoy it all. 
There was a lot of rain this morning but it turned into 
a hot sunny day.
After visiting the mobile library, which comes to our village every 3 weeks, we set to making plum jam and tomato sauce.

There was plenty to use up.
Later in the day, this was the result.

Yet to be labelled.
Over the weekend we ate two of our own melons....delicious.
There are still quite a few to go.

 This is a heritage tomato. It weighs 13 ounces.
The onion crop is drying in the garden room.
There are two layers here. 
And one white aubergine.
Must have come in the mixed seeds. 
I have started a big project in our own garden.....
completely digging out our rose garden to get rid of the ground elder which is rampant.
I am potting up all my plants, some of which have needed splitting.
I can hardly move in my greenhouse.
And the holding area outside is over-flowing.
 Around the rest of the garden, asters are beginning to look good.
Twynings Smartie dahlia is stunning.

Petunias continue to thrive. The ones on the right are climbers.
And cosmos continue to give pleasure.
I love August.