Tuesday 31 August 2010

I blame the jet stream!

At this time of year the jet stream normally sits well up north between the UK and Iceland, bringing warm, sunny dry weather to our shores. This year however, it has been stuck firmly over the southern part of the country, bringing lots and lots of rain throughout August - and may possibly be responsible for both the extreme heatwave in Russia and the devastating floods in Pakistan.

Naturally enough, we were on holiday in August - and it was wet. VERY wet!
It rained during part or all of every single one of the 12 days that we were down in Devon. We're not talking gentle showers here either, we're talking torrential downpours worthy of November or February ........ the only positive thing about the rain was that it was warm!

However, being the roughty-toughty Northerners that we are, we were prepared and didn't let the rain stop us doing anything - but I'm very glad we weren't camping this year!(we were staying with my lovely sister-in-law, Sal, and her family). The weather caused my Yorkshireness to sneak out one day when the rain began and I yelled "Oye, Andy, chuck us me cag!" Sal's partner, Josh - a southerner, had NO idea what I'd just said!!!
Lavish praise will be heaped upon any non-Yorkshire dweller who can work out what I meant! :D

We went up onto Dartmoor - land of endless skies............!

We did a walk up to the Avon reservoir about 5 miles from where we were staying. The day started off well, although that 3 inch deep stream wasn't supposed to be there according to the map! :)

The thick moss on the dry stone walls should have been a bit of a clue to the general dampness really!

The gentle summer stream trickling down the rocks!

The dam we were heading for - with its overflow in full use.

Our original plan was to walk round the reservoir and back down over the moor via the remains of a pre-historic settlement - but the clouds gathered, the clag came down and the heavens opened so, rather than risk being on Dartmoor without a compass or much visibility, we went back by the route we'd come up, still managing a nice respectable 10 miles.

The rain eventually let up just before we got back to the village, having done about 4 miles in the downpour! Himself's trousers aren't two-tone, it's just that we were walking into horizontal rain! Our walking boots were drenched and although our jumpers were in the backpack they still had to be dried out when we got back.

The rain has done wonders for the colours on the gorse though :)

Having failed to see my pre-historic settlement, we decided to visit the pre-historic stone rows, a menhir (standing stone), cairns and stone circle at Merrivale instead a couple of days later. Couldn't find the stone circle, but the stone rows were quite impressive and I've always had a bit of a fondness for menhirs!

Yep ....another walk, more clag! That stream was a bit of a puzzle as it was higher than the surrounding ground and appeared to follow the contours of the hilltop rather than a more obvious route. It also appeared to be lined with rocks - did pre-historic man divert a stream away from a ceremonial site?

Whilst me and Himself debated why pre-historic man should want to build things in such isolated, bleak places and wondered what they were used for, Last-Born chipped in grumpily with her theory that they were probably bored! It has to be said that she really wasn't impressed by either the ruins or the weather!

Many of the numerous ruins, stone circles, remains of settlements etc that scatter Dartmoor are in a fairly straight line running south west to north east and are on ley lines apparently - but it still doesn't help us understand what pre-historic man was up to.

One of the stone rows and its guardian stone.

The menhir.

Even Dartmoor shouldn't be this wet in August!

This is normally a nice view point!

The sun did come out sometimes, so we did a little bit of this.....

and a bit of this........ Himself on look-out duty from Totnes Castle!

and even a brief bit of sunbathing inside the castle!

and one day we even managed a very nice 6 mile circular walk along the coast and back to the pub in time for a late lunch!

We also visited a few stately homes and gardens ......... but more of that next time :D

Wednesday 4 August 2010


My wonderful parents in law came up on Sunday, so for dinner we had: potatoes, runner beans and carrots, eaten with roast duck and bitter orange sauce .......

followed by Summer Pudding with home-made blackcurrant ice cream! Yes - I know these are raspberries, but they're a major ingredient in summer pudding .....and we'd just eaten all the blackcurrants!

Tea was home made scones with cream and jam - plum, damson or mixed fruit, take your pick! Just to prevent any confusion, in Yorkshire, we have dinner at dinner time (1.00ish) and tea at tea time (6.00ish). It's only posh southerners who have lunch at dinner time and dinner as their evening meal......unless we're going to a restaurant in the evening, in which case we're going out for dinner.... but if we're going round to friends for an evening meal, then it's still tea! I bet you're dead glad I clarified that for you?!

Anyway, moving swiftly on! A quick tour round the vegetable garden in all its prolific glory!

Sweetcorn, courgettes, squash, parsnips,radishes, chard, spinach, runner beans, with raspberries along the right hand edge.

Leeks, red and white onions, garlic.

Globe artichokes.

The new salad bed - onto its 4th rotation of salad leaves - not bad considering .......
it looked like this in May!

Purple sprouting broccoli, broccoli Romanesco and vertus cabbages.

Broad beans, peas, mange tout and runner beans ...... but all was not well in the broad beans.
They got SERIOUSLY black-flied again in spite of everything I put on them and everything that nature could chuck at them as well! It took me ages to identify these ladybird larvae - but they didn't mind me not knowing what they were as they muched away happily on the black fly :D

I also found a new variety of ladybird that I'd not seen before - anyone know what variety it is?

The bees were busy on the echinops

A little (camera shy) black and white bee on the heather

A moth I found on a woodpile I was clearing last weekend
All the early potatoes dug up and dried off ready for storing. The first cucumber and tomatoes from the greenhouse, radishes and rainbow chard.

It's not just the fruits (and veg!) of my labours - it's the flowers and plants too!

The top pond in the Japanese garden is maturing nicely.

And this stipa is quite superb this year!

I LOVE this time of year!