Saturday, 16 August 2014

Summer lilies, Hedgerow Harvest, Dolphins in Cardigan Bay

Each year the lilies in my somewhat chaotic garden astonish me with their magnificence.
Although the gardens are looking very full & lush they need some work to be done to remove the dead heads of straggling ground cover plants and some general end of summer tidying up, however the lilies rise above the general tangle.

I was out at 7 o'clock this morning with the dogs and a basket for brambles. This is proving to be a wonderful season for the hedgerow harvest. I have already frozen 4 large boxes of brambles and they are masses more to come. I was pleased to find sloes hiding behind their thorny barricades...last year there were almost none. There will be a good crop of hazelnuts too this year if I can get to them before the squirrels, I have already found scatterings of shells in various wooded corners of the farm. A fine gathering of field mushrooms was had the other morning to add to my list of seasonal bounty, delicious fried with bacon for breakfast.
There is a definite breath of autumn in the air now and the there has been a change in the weather though the Sons are still busy on silage.

The Farmer & I went to the beach one evening last week and swam in warm-ish waters. It was lovely and even better when once again we saw a small number of dolphins swimming just a few hundred yards from us. We have never seen dolphins off that particular beach before so was very exciting. There have been a lot of sightings of the dolphins that patrol Cardigan Bay this summer and it is always special if we catch a glimpse of them on one of our infrequent visits to the coast.

The summer stream of holiday-makers in the cottage is keeping me busy...I am waiting to do my next change-over while I write this.
We have had a lot of delightful people staying really enjoying being here on the farm. It is always good when families just spend their days sitting outside & chatting reading and going for walks and generally watching the farm activities. It makes us feel that they really appreciate what the place is about & enjoy seeing how we live, which is on the whole so very different from urban lives. Most of our guests are town-dwellers and they love being in the real countryside for a week though some do say to us that they couldn't live a country life for long!

Thursday, 7 August 2014

St. Dogmael's Abbey & Shakespeare, Ethical Shopping

A lovely August morning after threats of bad weather that never really materialised apart form a heavy rainstorm two nights ago. The Sons are still busy working bringing in other people's silage though Younger Son has been driving for a straw haulier today & yesterday, leaving home at 3am with a lorry & drag to get to Oxfordshire to pick up a load to bring back to Wales. Wales does not grow much arable and so we need to import straw from the productive arable lands of England & the haulier's lorries can be seen ploughing up & down the motorways with their huge golden loads.

Near the small town of Cardigan is the village of St. Dogmael's or Llandudoch as it should rightfully be known. at the heart of the village are the wonderful ruins of St. Dogmael's abbey where each year a production of a Shakespeare play is put on in the abbey grounds by the Abbey Shakespeare Players (
This year it was 'The Merchant of Venice' and through a a last minute invitiation by a friend the Farmer & I were able to go. We had not been to this event for a number of years though we used to take the Sons when they were little quite regularly. As an outdoor event the weather has not been favourable for a number of summers recently, however this year it was perfect. The production was very good and as always the abbey ruins are used as the stage and with very simple sets, props & clever lighting a world is created. As the evening drew on and the light faded with bats coming out an flitting over the heads of the actors & audience and owls calling from the woods surrounding the abbey & with the moon appearing just at the right point for the 'On such a night...' speech, it was a lively & entertaining production, though the anti-semitic aspects of the play I always find somewhat disturbing.

Lately we have been having conversations with friends about ethical shopping.
The subject came up as we were talking about the merits of Rachel's Dairy yoghourts which I no longer buy. Many years ago our milk went to supply Rachel's Dairy at their small family run business in Aberystwyth. Since then the business has been sold to a string of companies and is now owned by a French firm Lactalis, a French dairy 'giant' which is a partner of the multi-national giant Nestle. Nestle is one the most boycotted companies in the world, a stance that started back in the 1970's with the aggressive promotion of baby milk formula. Nestle own a vast number of brands that are available in every store & supermarket. For details of their empire go to is a real eyeopener! I do not wish to buy products that are marketed by a vast impersonal organisation that is only interested in profit. Dairy products particulary seem more inappropriate in such a scenario than most, especially when so many good dairy products (not necessarily just organic ones) are produced locally all over the country.
Other products I do not buy are Green & Black's owned by Kraft & anything from Cadbury's which is also owned by Kraft.
There are many independent producers of all goods and surely it is better to buy everything as locally as possible.
As for yoghourt I buy Yeo Valley which is where our milk goes.