Slow Lane Life II

How we moved to the West Country and learned to slow down even more



The Gardener gets up very early, and has a couple of hours of quiet time downstairs, amidst sleepy cats and dog, doing all sorts of laptoppy things – editing photos, catching up with Facebook friends (mostly photography-related), downloading books and music to listen to while gardening, and heaven knows what else. I don’t know because I have the sense to stay in bed until at least 8 o’clock, listening to doom and gloom on Radio 4.

And sometimes he emails me a picture, or a song, usually a YouTube video, to find later when I log on. Some I love, some I don’t, some bring tears to my eyes, and some are just plain uplifting. This morning, I found this one, with the message “Play loud!!!” And I did.

I can recommend it for that grey, dull morning when the world seems hopeless and life seems dreary….


Full of beans


I’ve always missed my allotment, and have planted some little odds and ends in containers to console myself; so far I’ve had four French bean plants doing quite well in a container in the back yard, producing just enough in regular episodes to keep us happy but not overwhelmed. Several tomato plants were doing well too, not enough to keep me awake at night fretting about passata, but useful for salads and for popping into the mouth like sweeties. My back door herbs were flourishing, and the cos lettuces did well enough for me not to feel resentful when they succumbed to snails – we had had enough by then.

But now it’s that time on other people’s allotments, and with a resident vegetarian Gardener, who has already been gently implored not to bring so many courgettes home with him from work, we have been targeted by the locals. First of all, I received a furtive phone call: “Er, you couldn’t use some beans, could you?” The slightly hesitant tone hinted at a concealed level of desperation, and, immediately, I knew. Someone, somewhere, had a glut, and the caller couldn’t cope any more with donated bags of courgettes, chard, beans (assorted), shallots or marrow.

I said cheerfully that yes, I could, and offered cynically to swap for the marrow languishing unloved in the fridge. This was rather too promptly turned down, and my bag of beans was handed over. Very nice too, young borlotti beans, prettily speckled. Before we could finish them, a paper bag was brought home by The Gardener, given to him by another neighbour who couldn’t use them all; he hadn’t looked inside, only taking pity on her desperation, but yes, more borlotti beans, this time from another allotmenteer.


Meantime, a large amount of runner beans found their way into the fridge. Then more courgettes. And a few broad beans. Tomatoes. More tomatoes. Plums that were roasted and made into sorbet (quickly eaten up). The fridge bursts with apples and pears for chutney that will eventually be made when I remember to shop for the other ingredients. IMG_8198

And it’s not just the neighbours to blame. My rhubarb has made another effort. The herbs are prolific. Tomatoes ripen in a bowl, and the house is filled with the aroma of passata reducing on the stove, competing with a vegetable curry.


Yesterday, a package was left in the porch. Borlotti beans.

If anyone has garden produce to spare, thank you, but not just now…..




Fall. Or autumn (I have been in the company of a Canadian….). My very favourite time of year. The leaves are just beginning to take on a tinge of gold; little is falling yet, but the hedgerows are full of hips, haws, and Flossie’s much-loved blackberries. The days are warm, the nights cool, and I am in a permanent state of happiness at how beautiful it all is.

R6051997 R6051989 R6052003 R6052031 R6052041R6051997 - Version 2 IMG_1151 R6052027 R6052020 R6052001 R6052077 R6052170 R6052116 R6052089 R6052124 R6052129 R6052165 R6052058

The beloved visitors came and went all summer, and were a joy to show the glories of where we live, the rolling hills, the big skies, the wild ponies, the tearooms…. oops, did I say tearooms? Alas, a surfeit of the latter left its mark, and The Gardener and I are now back on a more disciplined regime, involving what he likes to call – in long-suffering tones – ‘leaves’, and that I call salads and anything green and healthy and not involving cake. I have a new list: the jobs that will need to be done before and during the winter, but for now, there’s nothing much that won’t wait. I shall catch up with everyone in blogland, and get out and about with Flossie while this most wonderful of seasons lasts.



While the back yard was in progress, I had my own little project going on. The dining room poses challenges; it has three doorways, from the hall, to the kitchen, and  to the stairs. And like every other room in the house, it needs to have our books crammed in wherever possible. The junk shop down the road yielded – at a modest price – a sturdy bookcase with adjustable shelves. Just the thing to fit into our decidedly non-rectangular alcove, where once (when? many years ago) there was another doorway into the room.

Trouble was, the bookcase was in my least favourite orange knotty pine. R6051571 R6051572So out came the chalk paint. Old White and a tester pot of Burgundy. R6051987R6051619 Result! I love the way it all looks as though it’s leaning; that’s one of the charms of this old house – no straight lines. R6051986 R6051985This can be a gloomy room, with its internal window and the oversized dresser that I won’t part with, and needs to be simplified, pared down as much as possible. So we changed the overhead light too; The Gardener’s choice.

And why no tablecloth? I hear you ask. I have lots of tablecloths and runners, and love a nicely dressed table, but this one gets wiped and laid moments before dinner is served. Because to some cats, a tablecloth is just …..bedding….. R6051978


Trying hard

….but after three years (post-transplantation from my Newcastle allotment), one tiny but formerly-prolific red gooseberry bush sent me a very clear message. R6051982Yes, poor gallant little RGB, I hear you; I shall move you to a brighter patch of the garden. Thank you for my six little gooseberries anyway; they tasted pretty good.


A rubbish post

imgres urlBin day (rubbish/trash/refuse collection) here occurs fortnightly, with recycling and food waste collection being weekly. It’s always a noisy affair, with much banging, clattering and chucking of glass items, the road often being blocked to other vehicles as the huge wagon trundles slowly up the hill and down again. The narrower lane at the top has a later service with a smaller vehicle.

But in the equally narrow streets of the Greek island of Syros, where my sister lives for half the year, bin day is a much more frequent and picturesque event. The hi-viz jacket remains the uniform apparel, the pace remains slow, and there’s no impatient traffic build up as the bin man and his team of one plod up and down the steep steps and alleyways. photo 1 photo 3 photo 2Such a nice idea. I wonder if West Somerset Waste Partnership would be interes…. maybe not.


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