The sun did appear for most of Saturday
I started the weekend with a nice walk on Friday evening towards the Ridgeway - it means more hills but I had my comfy wellies on and Barry bouncing along in front which meant I couldn't go too slow. He's certainly come on leaps and bounds (literally!) since his fractured leg fiasco and it's great to see the muscle definition returning to his bad leg - it still looks a lot smaller in comparison with his other hind leg but that's also because the fur is still growing back.
Jack also came home with beautiful flowers for me on Friday :-)
My best friend arrived late Friday night after a tiring journey from where she lives in Suffolk. I don't think the roads were particularly kind to her because of the bank holiday traffic and she was glad to arrive before midnight! It was her first visit to our new house so it was nice to show her around our home and the lovely village we live in. We also made sure to celebrate her recent news on becoming a qualified Veterinary Nurse, well done Jess!
We were up a decent time on Saturday morning to make the most of the weather - we were told by the weatherman that Saturday was the only decent day and they were right. We had glorious sunshine all Saturday morning and ventured to nearby Millets Farm Centre near Abingdon, Oxford (http://www.milletsfarmcentre.com/). I am so excited that I've discovered this place as it's fantastic. They have a large farm shop which sells their own produce or produce sourced from the local area. They also have a garden centre, falconry, maize maze and the most exciting part; pick your own! I can remember visiting the local farm to pick strawberries when I was very young but sadly this seemed to almost die out a while back, so it's lovely to find a local farm which does let you pick your own and they had a variety of things to choose from. Jess had already brought me a sack full of goodies from her and her fiancé's allotment (marrow, squash, runner beans and beetroot), so I picked my own sweetcorn cobs, Victoria plums and raspberries.
We had a great time picking our own produce in the sunshine and the prices were very decent too (which makes it all the better at the end of the day). The plums are very ripe and tasty and I can't eat them quick enough so I may have a go at making a plum jam. I've also seen on my BBC Good Food calendar that next month's recipe is for a plum crumble cake so perhaps I'll give that a go. I have frozen the majority of the raspberries too. We had the sweetcorn cobs last night and they were delicious.
My 'pick your own' haul
I will definitely be frequenting Millets Farm Centre in the future, it was just so lovely to wander around and pick what you needed before heading off to pay. I'm sure many of you (smallholders, allotment holders etc.) get even more satisfaction when your hard work has also gone into the growing of the fruit and veg and I too hope to have this joy next year when I hope to grow my own veg and fruit, but in the meantime I like this alternative and it certainly beats the dreaded supermarket shop sometimes! The farm has a pick your own potatoes event in a few weeks' time which I may try and go along to, as I've only got a few potatoes growing in the garden and I don't think they're going to amount to very much. I may even be a big kid next time and try the Maize Maze if I can persuade Jack to join me!
I had a lovely weekend with my best friend anyway; we only see each other every few months so it was nice to spend a whole weekend together to giggle and catch up, and Jess gets married next year so there was plenty to chat about. I do miss my old friends back in Cambridgeshire and it's hard sometimes being away from everyone you know. Luckily Jack and I do enjoy each other's company and we're the best of friends too, though I know how much he likes time with the 'lads' the same as I need time with the girls. We took Jess for a lovely meal in our local pub, the Crown and Horns (http://crownandhorns.com/) and I had a lovely homemade pie and chips, yum. We also went out for Sunday roast in Newbury so in terms of eating... yes we've done a lot of that this weekend! I did however kick this morning off with a healthy home-blended juice of banana, raspberries and blackberries so I'll hopefully start this week as I mean to go on. Jess headed home on Sunday afternoon so Jack decided to finish the tortoise run in between the rain showers. He has managed to get it done and I'm so grateful as it looks great. I need to paint it (if the weather will let me!) and get designing and building the inside of the run, so I hope to have photos for you all soon.
Because of the persistent wet weather yesterday, there wasn't a lot I could do outdoors. I popped into Newbury for a few bits but then spent the rest of the day on the sofa determined to learn how to crochet. I say determined, because on many occasion I have attempted and only succeeded in throwing the hook and wool back in the bag in anger!
For the most part, this is how I feel when crocheting!
However, for some reason I actually seemed to understand it this time, hurrah! I spent all afternoon practising double crochet, half treble, treble and such like and they're starting to sink in. I'm afraid my pictures are very un-exciting and un-inspiring as all I kept doing was practising, but practice makes perfect and let's hope I have something substantial to show you next time. I'm just very pleased anyway as I love knitting and I find that easy and I've been so frustrated that I couldn't crochet. I'm trying to read and understand crochet patterns now and though I seem to understand what they're asking I must be going wrong in more than one place because mine just don't look like their example pictures :-( Try and try again I suppose... I'd love to make a patchwork blanket so I'm hoping to successfully crochet some squares soon, but at the moment I'm struggling (all tips welcome, pretty please).
Nothing exciting, just practice
Jack has also requested I crochet matching Christmas jumpers for him and the dog and I did tell him to get stuffed for at least another three years - that's if I can even master a square by then, let alone a jumper! Perhaps I should stick to sewing and knitting...
The dog found crochet very boring
Finally, I did manage to have two trips out to the garden centre this weekend which was nice; I definitely think summer has left us now and autumn is arriving so it was nice to get some ideas of adding some colour in the garden for these approaching colder months. I'd also like to get some bulbs planted in the front and back gardens too at some point. I've bought a huge lavender plant to put in the tortoise's new run, it's not poisonous to them and they don't tend to eat it anyway, preferring to use it as a good hiding place so it will add some nice colour to the run and hopefully survive the winter if it establishes in the ground soon. I got a Hebe with purple flowers for their run too. The Lobelia in the pot by our front door has also almost finished flowering now so I'm going to replace them with a large Chrysanthemum plant I got which is covered in little purple flowers and as long as I keep removing the dead flowers they'll keep flowering for quite some time, at least a little colour out the front of our house, especially as the Buddleia has almost finished flowering and other than a few weeds in the big bed there's no other colour. You can't tell that purple is my favourite colour can you?! We'd like to plant a miniature apple tree out the front as it's quite a sunny position and I think it would like it there. My question to all my lovely new blog friends is when would be the best time to plant said apple tree? Should we wait until next year now?
It's my birthday tomorrow and I'll be stuck at work all day, which is rather depressing. I used to always make sure I had my birthday off just so it didn't become any other working day, even if I still didn't actually do anything but we have a busy month end at work and I work in finance so that combination means no such luck for having my birthday off. Oh well, Jack is taking me out for dinner so I look forward to that :-)
Happy four-day week everyone!