Last Sunday we had our first meal out for eons! We pootled along the back lanes past Holy Island to Bamburgh. Other than a late night drive through when we came to the Mizzen Head for dinner a couple of years ago, I don’t think I have ever been to Bamburgh. It is a lovely little place. The castle dominates everything, it is hugely imposing perched on a cliff that seems to rise inexplicably from the fields and beach below. It is licensed for weddings, but I can’t help but think that the setting would seriously upstage the bride unless perhaps she was dressed in furs and armour, sporting a battle-axe or two. After a walk round the base of the castle we hoved over to the beach to let Lyra have a pre-lunch run. All along the way to the beach there are great mounds of flowering ivy amongst the dune grass – which is something I’ve never seen before. The beach is huge and it seems that the dogs of the world congregate there to run races. Lyra made a number of new friends, including a small dog inexplicably dressed all over (including all four legs) in a boiler suit. Lyra, who was sporting a natty bandana, was most intrigued. After a good run we wandered up the hill past lots of interesting little shops (the queue at the butchers seemed to bode well so on the way home we picked up some pork pies and ham which were indeed splendid). Lunch was at the Potted Lobster which I heartily recommend. They are happy to accommodate dogs, the service is friendly and the food excellent. We had thought to have a further walk on the beach at Cocklawburn to blow away the vapours on the way back but alas timed the tide wrong and there was but 3 inches of beach left. There was nothing for it but to go home and fall asleep by the fire. Today we headed further up the coast to Eyemouth to pick up a somewhat more prosaic (but just what the doctor ordered) fish and chip tea (though in Lachlan’s case he went for the battered sausage).
In and out weather this week. Invariably it turned out fine when I had an indoors job planned and mizzled relentlessly when I was out. Hey ho. During the indoor sessions we had much progress on the provisioning front. The third apple pressing went so well we have decided to defer the beer and shoot for a fourth. Keith has made a giant vat of chutney – as yet unnamed, but on current trends it could well turn out to be Ermentrude. I finally got to work on the quince jelly from mum’s quinces, the juice from which had been languishing under the jelly bag for a few days. This first batch didn’t use up all the quinces but I didn’t have a full pan for a second batch so I topped the last of the quinces up with crabapples and sloes and decided to have a go with that. I was at the boiling up stage of this batch when I discovered I had run out of lemons! I used the measly half lemon scavenged from the fridge, added more sloes and a few bay leaves and finished it off with a good glue of cointreau for the citrus tang. Genius – if I do say so myself – and the recipe on the home page link if anyone else is sitting on a glut. There was more of the quince/crabapple/sloe juice left after the jellymaking so some has gone to yet another liqueur. It is a violent pink so Lachlan feels it may be one for the laydeez… I am pondering a suitable name. The rest went into a syrup for poaching pears, now bottled for the larder.
Outdoors it has mainly been weeding, cutting back and getting in the last of the bulbs. This is all taking much longer than I hoped as the bulbs are mainly destined for the bottom border leading to the pond. This has looked lovely all year, but in a very overblown Madame Recamier about to fall out of her bodice way, and almost everything needs split. Yesterday I rehomed a ton of primroses, white phlox and Iris and despatched a purple sage to the compost heap, leaving a further ton of iris and phlox to be dealt with before I can get the tulips in…. However, we have taken the plunge and agreed to reopen for the open garden scheme next year. Having a year off this year has let me get to grips with the new border and some larger scale rejigging I would have struggled with if I had to keep on top of the weeds properly, but it is good to have a target for getting back under control and finishing things off. We have gone for an earlier slot though, at the end of June, as keeping tidy all through July is a bit of a chore. We are also opening up by arrangement for committed bulb fanciers so I do hope this year’s bulb plantings take and the squirrel and mice don’t run off with them. I saw a few lying on the surface yesterday and had my suspicions…..
Walking with Lyra has been a muddy old business this week. I feel sure I have worked off the lobster and the chips yomping the fields with two inches of mud on my boots for extra weight. Lyra has worked off her gravy bones by chasing rabbits. I’ll swear she is getting faster, still not caught one, but definitely closing the gap. An attempt to take Lyra into the shower to get rid of said mud yesterday resulted in complete chaos. She broke out thrice, pulling the door off its runners. Lachlan and I wrestled her back in but on the fourth escape we gave in so she was 70% clean at the end of the day. I looked like I had been participating in a mud wrestling bout and the floor was a swamp. Never again…. On the plus side we have new friends. Jogging Simon has moved his rylands to the field by the road. They are very tame and Lyra has formed a firm attachment to the the spotty one.