Tolkein weather

In recent days we have had torrential rains, blistering sun, hobbits, amphibians identifying as birds, volcanoes and insect plagues. Increasingly it feels like we are on the ring quest with Bilbo and the boys. If I see five orcs and a dwarf coming over the hill I shall give them all a cheery wave and usher them in. Thus far the trees in the orchard have not moved, but they are definitely muttering in the northerly wind, so doubtless it is only a matter of time.

With brilliant sun and torrential rain alternating at a dizzying rate, it has been tricky to plan the day. No sooner have I decided to devote myself to the ironing pile and indoor projects, than the sun comes out (and with it the three foot weeds which have sprouted during the downpour). On Monday we had alternating sun and showers. I initially decided to prune back a lonicera. However, the job had to be abandoned when I found a toad had taken up residence in an old birds nest in the thicket of stems. Unable to settle at anything much after that, Lachlan and I took Lyra down to the river again for a walk, hoping the rain held off. Along the track to the river walk I noticed the strangest little building under a tree. It looks like it was built, then covered over with soil and finally had a tree planted on top. The roots have grown down either side so that it was quite nestled underneath as if the tree was its pointy hat. A little further on we came to a classical folly looking out over the cauld. Quite the contrast of architectural nonsense……..As we strolled along we passed several fancy new cars at the fishing hut. Four men in waders were companionably arranged around the table and the third bottle of wine was almost empty. They looked suspiciously dry (externally at any rate).

Tuesday was a consistent washout. As the rain pelted down I decided to make some more soap and Anne next door came along to watch. In the way of these things, having an audience made me rush. Just when Anne and I were congratulating ourselves on how nice the mix looked as I poured it into the mould there was an almighty whoosh and bubbling mixture foamed and spitted back out. Anne wrestled the now hardening mix back in and mopped up whilst I tried to find out what had happened. This was, apparently, a soap volcano. I had not let the lye water cool sufficiently. I had a second go later in the day in the spirit of getting back on the horse (the metal plate in my arm testifies to this not necessarily being sound advice, but whatever….). Annoyingly, with no audience it all worked perfectly. As the block mould was full of the first batch I pulled into service some silicone bun moulds I had never found a use for (Lidl impulse buy from the random item bin). Next day they turned out perfectly. We now have a range of Christmas themed tomato leaf and herb soap (though I’m not getting much tomato leaf on the nose if I am honest). The first batch had also turned out fine save for a lumpy top layer which I sliced off. Mum has been roped in for testing these – she is allergic to everything so if she can handle these I will be most pleased.

Thursday was stunningly hot. I started the day with a bug safari, chasing down the butterflies and bees for their yearbook stills. My how the peacocks pose! I was well into my lunch when I noticed that I had acquired my own personal bee… Much weeding and moving things about followed. Today, walking up the back track, it looks like the periodic rain has helped all the various rehomed geraniums settle in. In the greenhouse, though, disaster has struck in he form of whitefly. This is hubris in action. Only last week our friend Bob was remarking how whitefly free we were and I had nodded smugly. Fatal. I did, though, remember Bob’s own trick and have moved the kitchen basil into the greenhouse. Fingers crossed.

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