It has been a few days since the last post. Things are becoming a little more normal here at Ruthven, the vista of life is opening up. We have had not one but two visitors to liven things up (Thomas and Anne) and I think we have all benefitted from differing perspectives and a licence to play. We even got the croquet out. This morning we were still enjoying the lingering effects and sat around outside with coffee talking nonsense. We have now scheduled Saturday mornings in the family diary for spontaneous free association.
So what has been happening since the last update?
We have visited mum with the shopping and admired her garden (latest pictorial updates below). The new cat statue is composed of three huge coping stones that fell off the old church yard wall (now a sad ruin opposite Mum) after a collision with the prisoner transport van (she is also opposite the Sherrif Court). Mum carried them over the road and down the stairs, wrestled them through the shrubbery (how??) and erected them behind the pond. An uncle or cousin was then despatched to pick up a small statue for the top and directed to get an otter for verisimilitude. (Mum is big on this and objects to the small elephant statue in our rose garden on the grounds that elephants are not native. My usual rejoinder that neither are ladies in togas and she has one of those is met with a snort.) A cat was then supplied. This whole project says everything you need to know about my family. As for the shopping, now that masks are mandatory Keith and I prowl the isles of Sainsbury like bandits. I favour the black silk Zorro number but Keith remains loyal to Floral Bandit. Our system is that Keith does our family shop and I do Mum’s, thus turning two trips to one. Since I took over Mum’s shopping she has started to creak under the burden of the “small extras” I sneak in. Things have got slightly out of hand. Whilst I feel Dad will have appreciated the profiterole tower (which for health’s sake I balanced off with two low fat rice puddings) Mum definitely looked askance at the smoked mackerel and the bottle of prune juice. I shall try not to go off-liste this week.
With the assistance of my young sidekick Eilidh I reprised the Daktari episode and a newt, a toad and a frog were all liberated from the cundy at the back of the garden store. The first two posed for a selfie with their liberators but the frog leaped off and made for the hills.
My attempts to find a good use for all the rose petals liberated by dead heading continues. The advent of visitors prompted a bit of floral art. I have also now moved from pot pourri (2 jars and counting – they are drying in my garret which now smells like a tart’s boudoir) and rose oil (two batches now maturing though I feel slightly doubtful about one) into rosewater (I am filling our empty Pimm’s bottles – of which there is a slightly embarrassing abundance). I have also got as far as internet research on the making of soap. It doesn’t look that tricky – I fear I am on the verge of a new fad…..
We roped in Anne for a first harvest of the lavender field. We took out 3 trugs and a basin full and you can hardly see any difference. Most of this pick is drying on the TV room floor (which smells, according to Lachlan, like an old lady’s pants drawer. I am not sure this is the effect I am seeking.) The harvest looks far too much for the available lavender bags so I can see I am gong to have to knock up some more. I have frozen two tubs of flowers anent future shortages (and with a thought to pear and lavender jam which I spotted a London friend eating on Instagram). The basin full has been made into Lavender water. This came out a colour so striking it is redolent of parrafin so I think I shall not be spraying it on the sheets! I shall experiment with this, and the rosewater, as toner pending further inspiration. Anyone visiting should inspect my complexion carefully to see if this is a good thing.
I have picked and dried a first harvest of herbs and these are macerating in differing combos in various jars of olive oil. We shall have to have a tasting in a couple of weeks to decide on the best combinations. In the confident assumption that at least one of these will be a winner, and knowing that we will have a great many chillis to deal with so chilli oil is a roaring certainty for the autumn, I have been cruising glass bottle websites for likely vessels. Keith remains a strong fan of the Worcester sauce bottle but I have my eye on some fancy square jobs. I tried to engage him last night in bottle choices but he fixed me with a withering eye and declared it “much too late for that”. I bowed to the superior knowledge of the man who understands the vicissitudes of bulk bottle purchasing and knitted a few rows of the red jumper in silence. (This is now approaching the front armhole level and I really can’t put off a decision about the neckline much longer…..)
Whilst we put Anne to work dead heading her namesake up a ladder on the dining room wall yesterday I wafted around the garden with a trug picking flowers I thought might dry and keep their shape and colour. We had none of the “top ten” off the website I consulted so I just used my initiative. These are now hanging from a rafter in the attic above the garage, an initiative completed with only one serious crack on the head. We will know in a couple of weeks how well this has worked and I shall report back.
So now you are all up to date.