Royal Welsh Show by Catherine Evans :: 23rd July 2009

Yesterday we spent the day at the Royal Welsh Show at Builth Wells. Having visited the Royal a few years ago the Royal Welsh is infinitely better. There is definitely something for everyone. One of our favourite sections is the Forestry Area and it was wonderful to see heavy horses at work – the affinity between horse and human was amazing.

Another favourite is the Food Hall with lots of free samples to taste and quite a few purchases made- toffee waffles and toffee vodka amongst the favourites! We also watched the shear off between Wales and New Zealand (I have no idea how the scoring works!) and fortunately Wales won – much to the delight of the crowd. Despite the rain we had a great day and can’t wait to go back again next year.

Another Prize Winner by Catherine Evans :: 11th July 2009

We have a new member of the family – Geoffrey the Giraffe (made by Richard). Geoffrey took first prize at the 4th Annual Neen Savage Scarecrow Convention, beating a very impressive Tony the Tiger and assortment of other creatures, loosely interpreting the theme of ‘Carnival of the Animals’.

A major logistical operation was needed to transport Geoff (using tractor and transport box) as he is over 10 feet tall and he is currently awaiting collection from the village hall. I am not sure if he is returning to the end of the drive or to the vegetable garden to fulfill his role as a scarecrow!

Cleobury in Bloom by Catherine Evans :: 07th July 2009

This weekend the judging of Cleobury in Bloom took place. Members of the Chamber of Trade are automatically entered and amazingly we won the non licensed business category! Presentations were made on Sunday evening and I was strongly encouraged to attend! This was rather tricky as we were off to Ludlow for the Festival Finale so Flo (chair of the Horticultural Society) agreed to present my award first – an enormous shield and a certificate which I shall proudly display in the entrance hall.

Hen Heaven! by Catherine Evans :: 28th June 2009

The mother hen and her chicks have been moved into their own coup beyond the main hen house. She is very protective, making it difficult to photo the chicks! They are growing at an alarming rate, consuming a vast amount of chick crumb. The piglets have finally been named by my visiting sister and friends – Spot, Diane and Lily!

Another busy weekend with a Band gig on Saturday and Dancing Out at Hartlebury Castle and Harvington Hall (both worth a visit) today. I have found time to make orange/lemod curd – delicious on granary toast! and elderflower cordial although it is a bit browner than normal and not so syrupy? I hope it will taste OK.

Unfortunately the Marches Energy Agency were runners up in their category for the Ashden Awards – but you can still see the video they made at www.ashdenawards.org/videoandphotos.

Mother Hen by Catherine Evans :: 14th June 2009

The hen finally hatched out 6 eggs so there are now 6 chicks running around in the empty calf pen. Here you can just see 3 of them – she is very protective if I try to get too close. In a few days time they will go in the small hen coop outside until they are old enough to join the rest of the gang in the main hen house. Hopefully more than 50% will be hens to increase egg production yet again!

Hanging Baskets Hung by Catherine Evans :: 11th June 2009

John has hung the new hanging baskets either side of the front door and I think they really set of the newly repaired stonework. Those of you who visited recently will remember the damage wrecked by Rebecca shortly after passing her test – almost 12 months ago to the day! Hopefully that was a lesson learnt as there have been no further scrapes since.

One of the hens has been sitting on an ever increasing clutch of eggs for the last 3 weeks and we weren’t really expecting any to hatch. However John informs me there are 4 chicks but when I went out to take a photo I couldn’t get near the hen – and John says she’s really sweet! I’m not risking being pecked for a snap so you will have to wait!!

Rain and More Rain by Catherine Evans :: 07th June 2009

It has done nothing but rain here for over 24 hours which is great for the garden – the beans especially were looking very sad – but a bit depressing so I am cheering you up with a picture of one of my hanging baskets. I bought it from some of the Year 10 pupils at Lacon Childe School who have made baskets as part of their Vocational Studies class. John is not so keen as he now has to put up 2 more brackets by the front door to hang them on!

More Piggies! by Catherine Evans :: 01st June 2009

We collected our latest batch of weaners yesterday from Linda. They are the youngest yet at only 7 weeks and seem tiny! They are Gloucester Old Spots crossed with a Duroc boar which sometimes gives tehm a ginger coat but not this time – just lots of spots! No names so far – I am running out of inspiration – maybe Simon, Piers and Amanda but as they are all gilts (girls) maybe not! They seem quite happy anyway!

Chicken Rescue by Catherine Evans :: 31st May 2009

We have acquired 5 new hens this week from our local free range egg farm. They were destined for the chop as the farm replaces its flock every year to maintain maximum egg production. These 5 have had a lucky escape and seem to be settling in well and already laying too – eggs have doubled in quantity since they arrived! Hopefully these comercial hens will continue to lay regularly throughout the winter months when the rare breed ones stop.

Food and Ale Trail by Catherine Evans :: 25th May 2009

Another busy weekend – this time supporting Cleobury Country’s Food and Ale Trail. 250 walkers came out in the glorious sunshine to walk a route around Kinlet, Chorley and Stottesdon. On the way they sampled local food and Hobsons beer – we provided the desserts – Eton Mess, Catalan Cream or Strawberries and Meringue – for the final stop at Kinlet Hall. Many thanks to Bekkkay, Becki and Sandra for all their help.

The day ended with local entertainment – Crooked Steeple Morris, The Bell Inn Brass Band, The Reid Warblers and country dancing.

A Starring Role! by Catherine Evans :: 08th May 2009

Breakfast looked so good this morning I just had to take a photo!

Becky and I have become film stars this week and will be expecting the red carpet treatment everywhere we go – well almost! Cleobury has been part of a 3 year project to reduce our carbon footprint and the project has been so successful it has been shortlisted (1 of 2) for an award from the Ashden Trust. This meant a day of filming to show off what has been achieved – all to make a 5 minute film! Becky spent the morning at Hobsons as part of a group looking round their sustainable energy initiatives, then Nick the cameraman filmed Simon, one of the project co-ordinators, talking to my Year 7 class at Lacon Childe school about sustainable energy.

The day ended at Broome Park to film the changes we have made here as a result of the project. That included the solar panels installed in 2007 – working very succesfully to generate most of our hot water from April to October; underfloor insulation above the cellar; wood burning stoves and low energy lightbulbs. The Awards ceremony is in London on the 10th June and the film will be shown then! We may be available for autographs if we win!!

Upton Folk Festival by Catherine Evans :: 03rd May 2009

Had a fantastic day today at Upton Folk Festival – this is an annual event, attracting Morris sides from all over the Country and even a side from British Columbia were dancing today. The day starts with a procession through the town then we dance outside the pubs along the river front. Everyone gets a ‘spot’ where they can showcase their best dances – we did Pipers Ash, Lancaster and Royton. By the end of the day we are all exhausted but happy!

Garden Progress by Catherine Evans :: 02nd May 2009

Everything is growing well in the garden – the strawberry plants all have lots of flowers so hopefully we will get a good crop. Beyond them John has planted beetroots and carrots and today I have planted a few more mangetout (under the mesh to keep the pigeons off), spring onions and mixed salad leaves.

Beyond that are some mini sweetcorn plants that I started in the greenhouse – these really take up too much space for the amount of crop returned but I like to have lots of different crops! Finally there are my 3 new blueberry bushes – these won’t fruit for another 2 years but will hopefully establish themselves out of the wind by the hedge.

The onions and shallots I planted in February are growing well, as are the first crop of salad leaves – the egg shells are supposed to keep the slugs away! The are also mangetout under the mesh and spring onions too. Between the rows of onions John has planted more root crops – companion planting, especially carrots with onions is supposed to ward off carrot fly.In the greenhouse I have lots of bean plants ready to plant out once the ground is prepared and over 40 tomato plant – no, I don’t know why I need that many either!

Cat Napping! by Catherine Evans :: 19th April 2009

It has been a lovely sunny day here again today and the cat has managed to find a shady spot to hide! I have just managed an hour in the hammock!

Becky raised an amazing £591 at her cake sale, enough for her trip to America and to give donations of £133 each to WaterAid and Send a Cow.

Cake Sale by Catherine Evans :: 15th April 2009

Becky and I have spent all day today baking. Becky has been selected to attend a World Affairs Seminar in America in June and is being sponsored by the Rotary Club – they have paid her air fare to and from Wisconsin but she has to raise the £325 cost of her place at the seminar. So a cake sale seemed a good idea. It will take place on friday so today has been spent baking then tomorrow is all about decorating and packaging! Hopefully we will raise enough money not to need to do another sale.

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