Not-so everlasting Ethel


Ethel was The Hop Garden's first hen, having been given to us over three years ago complete with a clutch of adorable fluffy chicks. She was a fantastic mother to those youngsters (which included Harriet, the only one now remaining), and raised many more in subsequent years. Read More...

Let there be light


There's something magical about being outside in autumn as the night draws in, with the smell of wood smoke and the subdued squabbling of the chickens as they settle down to sleep. For once, I wasn't in a mass pre-event panic (that had come much earlier in the afternoon) so I could happily watch Diane stoke the wood fired oven with the bellows, safe in the knowledge that pretty much everything was in place for any passing hungry visitors who dropped by.

As it was, we weren't nearly as busy as last year, but it's always good to be prepared, and I was happy to know that me and David didn't have to try and keep the fire going, serve hot chocolate, take money and sort out jacket potatoes simultaneously like last year!


Thanks to all those who made it a wonderfully relaxed evening: local potters extraordinaire Marv and Dianne, for doing what they do best and playing with fire, their hours of patience resulting in a perfect spud oven, which was glowing white and 300 degrees at 8pm (and still warm the next morning!); to Phil for being such a great one-man welcoming committee and hot chocolate pourer; Victoria for entertaining visitors; Liz for her amazing willow sparkler-making sessions in the shed and to her 93-year-old Mum for being such a good sport reading stories to the children (above).

It's quietening down in the garden a little now, although there are still a few orange tomatoes ripening in the polytunnel. The short, sharp frost we had Sunday night put pay to the dahlias (the first I've ever successfully got past the slugs) and a few other plants are looking a bit blackened. I think it's time to move the wormery in before the frost returns.

I've also just done a spot of pruning - gooseberries and apples mainly - and me and Peter cut down the jerusalem artichokes and put one of the compost piles to bed for the winter.
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