Jane's Blog

An Everyday Story of Country Folk!

Ducks and Drakes

A busy day in the garden. Beans (runners and French) plus pumpkins, courgettes and a new invention Cucamelons(!) all planted in pots. The freshly mowed lawn  (it was more like a field when I mowed it Wednesday pm) has had its edges trimmed, but as most of the border plants are empire building, this will need revisiting and doing properly when they have finished flowering and can be cut back severely.

I hope I have everything in place for the barbecue for the church Gift Day - sausages and rolls have ben bought, onions sliced and cakes made. There is even some bacon to see if I can get the punters going with bacon rolls - a new departure, but maybe the smell will lure in some extra customers. The weather forecast is good, so fingers crossed we shall have a good day.

Charlie and Jemima came back in today. Still no ducklings. They mutter furiously whenever I come near them. but they will just have to get used to me in the garden.

The Tracklog Helpdesk is Open

Well, I came back to Thursday walking with a bang. Trevor's advertised 6 miles was actually 7.5 according to Tracklog. The need for the helpdesk came from an unexpected place - I had to help Trevor find himself on MM tracker when we got started and later get him back from the road map to the 1:250. Bit of finger trouble there, I think. Francoise wasn't with us, so I didn't have to provide a helpdesk for her. However it was a pleasant march through the surroundings of Kilmersdon on a glorious sunny day and we did it in record time, partly due to an almost complete absence of stiles. 

The garden is beginning to look a little more cared for again. The pigeons were watching closely when I planted the pea seeds, so I'm not sure how many will come up. I have tried to foil them with a network of string, to see if I can trip them up and discourage them. Fat chance!

The Wanderer Returns

Well, I am back from France; the trains (buses) all worked as expected to get me back to Ebbsfleet bang on time, and a hero's welcome from my brother in law Andrew.

The trip has been a good one, 60 miles walked in 6 days ( with a very welcome day off in the middle). The scenery has been great, perhaps not as spectacular as it will be later on in places like Conques and Rocamadour, as the first part of the path travels across high level plateaux, all rolling countryside rather than valleys and hills. But the plateaux are covered in flowers at this time of year and we were fortunate to be there before the cows were let out to eat them all, so we were treated to acres of wild daffodils, small pansies in varied colours from pale yellow to purple, orchids, cowslips and wood anemones, to name only the most extensive. We also chased a number of small birds which tended to be impossible to identify reliably without binoculars and a bird book, but the kites, red and black were easier to see, and the sounds of the cuckoos and woodpeckers pretty typical.

The towns/villages were a bit minimal, but had their moments. A mad woodcarver in Saugues had produced much to marvel at, and there were some beautiful stained glass windows in the varied churches on our way.

France is beset with bank holidays in May, which led to a few hairy moments, particularly in Aumont Aubrac when we realised that the shops would not be opening that afternoon, despite our lack of rations for the evening meal. We were very lucky that the local hotel was prepared to feed us (possibly under false pretences, but no matter).  Pilgrim meals at Gites have allowed us to try some local delicacies including Puy Lentils, wild greens as salad and Aligot, a sort of cheesy potato. All have been delicious, though its difficult to be picky about food at the end of a hard walking day!

A large Cat Shaped Space

A large cat shaped space has opened up in our lives with the loss of Morris. She has been aging quite fast and at the end of last week, she just disappeared without trace. I doubt she went far, though we have searched the more accessible hedges in the area to no avail. RIP Morris. I hope she is enjoying the mousing in Cat Heaven.
Despite the empty space, we will not look for another cat for now, as it at least gives us the freedom to travel without concern. Once we've got the travel bug oput of our systems, maybe another cat will find us, though we shall have to look long and hard to find one as placid and easy going as Morris.


Out and About and a Spot of Navigation

I am dry at last, after a complete soaking earlier today. We only wanted to recce a walk round Burrington with Francoise, nothing complicated, but we ignored the weather forecast, at our peril. Fortunately Tony came with us and has walked this route before (its part of a longer, Sunday route he led recently) because after the first 2 hours, with the rain penetrated to every inch of our clothing we had all completely lost interst in the navigation and only wanted to be back at the cars. I just hope Francoise will remember enough of the route to walk it again with other members of her navigation support team!
It has been a busy fortnight; camping for a few days in Shrewsbury while Tony assessed a D of E group allowed us to explore the Black country, new to both of us, with two very good days spent in Ironbrdge, then the Sunday School picnic, in glorious weather, then a series of meetings with the various groupd I belong to, including twoi concerts with two separate choirs. Both went well, not perfect but we hope the punters didn't notice.

Morris - the Odyssey

Tonight we got a call just as we were about to eat - Morris is with a vet in Frome, could we come and get her. We had to borrow Sue & Dave's cat carrier and Tony drove over to fetch her. Apparently someone found her a little way up the road from our house and assumed she was a stray so took her all the way to Frome to find a vet. Kind thought, but it would have been rather better if they'd left her alone! Unfortunately we never been able to put a collar on her, so she's a bit vulnerable to well meaning but misguided people.
It would appear she's not quite as well known as we thought in the area!


How to Do Backwoods Cooking - Indoors

Apple sandwiches can be cooked in the oven, the Brownies have proved it. In fact they were rather less burnt than those cooked in the embers of a campfire. The atmosphere isn't the same, but you don't get wet. Yes, the planned vist to the Scout Camp site for Brownies and Guides fell victim to the weather last night. After steady soaking rain all day we decided it was going to be just too wet to light fires otudoors and reverted to a hastily cobbled together plan B in our meeting hall. The Guides got the kitchen to make (and devour) some excellent frying pan pizzas; the Brownies assembled their sandwiches in the hall and played games until they were cooked. There were no leftovers.

We all came together at the end and the Guides decided to make their Guide Promise en masse. What an evening! (And I still have the biscuits and mallows to make Smores at the end of term picnic)

One Fine Day

Unbelievably, the sun shone all day on the Isle of Wight last Saturday, as a team of Ramblers stomped cheerily round the west end of the island. Les had promised me a gentle walk with frequent stops, which was true. He also told me it was only 10 miles, which wasn't. After the first 3-4 miles, when we stopped for coffee, he explained that the 10 miles started from there! The views from the Tennyson monument, and further on, looking out over The Needles were magnificent, and the increasing sunlight made up for a rather brisk wind. In fact the sun might have been a bit too much without the breeze to keep us cool. The last 3 miles were a bit hard work; everyone was beginning to look a little tired, but the pub at the end revitalised us all before getting back on the ferry. A Grand Day Out.

London or Bust

Bit of retrospective blogging here, as I have been too busy to write anything. Tony came back a couple of Sundays ago, but before life could get back its normal rhythmns,  I had the Brownie trip to London to / get ready for/panic about.

As usual, extensive planning improves the chances of a stress free trip. We invited the Brownies to help us do the Risk Assessment the week before we went, on the grounds that they would then buy into any restrictions we placed on them. This worked very well, and all sorts of ideas about good behaviour and good sense came out. On the day, we were up and on the train so early they were extremely good and rather quiet - we had expected them to be noisy from sheer excitement. Everything (yes, everything!) went according to plan - walk across Hyde Park, Natural History Museum, underground (good game of sardines) ICANDO and tea at Paddington. Unfortunately they were a little noisier on the way back, which we hadn't expected, but I think they were actually over tired and definitely over sugared! We couldn't believe how many sweets the girls had brought with them. So, safely back at Westbury, we handed back some super hyped girls to their parents, and breathed a sigh of relief .
Feedback at the following Brownie meeting suggests that they all had a great time; for some the museum was best, for other the whole experience, and, most tellingly, some just enjoyed being able to choose what they wanted to do at ICANDO. We took note that the favourite place there was the mini stage. Our Brownie group have always been great performers, but we haven't done a lot of theatricals in the last couple of years, perhaps we should consider this again. 



More Drowned Rats and a Small Problem on the Navigational Front

Oops! I shall say that again - Oops!
12 optimistic people, including myself, assembled at Stourhead this morning with a terrible weather forecast, to walk the 6 mile route I had planned for them. I just knew that someone would turn up, so I'd have to go! It started OK; we navigated the first up and down and toiled steadily up to Alfred's tower in the rain - gentle at first but slowly increasing in intensity. It was a very short coffee stop, huddled under the trees, perched on a few tree stumps. Then off back down the track into the wood. I thought we had dealt with all the possible navigation problems, and the track should have been fairly straightforward from there, but at one of the junctions I must have missed the turn, and the inevitable happenned. We were in a wood, with tracks about us but none I recognised. It didn't help that they were all much overgrown since 4 weeks ago, and looked very different. I confessed, and got a lot of sympathy and encouragement from the team, with mixed views on where they thought we were. Dave seems to know those woods better than anyone, and suggested following the current track would eventually bring us to the right place. Ken would have scared me with where he thought we'd got to, if it hadn't been for the impossibility of getting to such a point without crossing a road, which we hadn't! Of course the compass was not helpful - taking bearings off trees never improved matters, and no one could get a GPS to see any satellites.
However, after a bit of extra walking, following Dave's suggestion, we found the main track we should have been on. At this point I used the compass to choose the direction, in the face of some who would have gone the opposite way, and we were back on our route. By this time we were absolutely soaked through - rain was dripping down my hat inside my coat, and I don't think I was alone. The team were quite happy to take a more direct route back to the car park, rather than the pleasant (or unpleasant in the rain) roundabout route with lunch by a lake that was on the original plan, and we strode out to arrive back at our cars by 1pm. 
I think my walk will have been memorable, but Alice wants me to do it all again in better weather - huh! So much for thinking I had a foolproof scheme to stop them asking me to lead a walk again!
Back at home, now looking at small car specs. Steph, niot unreasonably wants to see if she can reduce her overall costs for running a car. Unfortunately it will involve some outlay to get a smaller car in the first place.