bunch of spring flowers

Diary of an Essex week

The Essex House at Wrabness

Sister has rented the Grayson Perry designed House for Essex for weekend and invited selected persons to share experience. Delighted to be one of said selected persons and sally forth to wilds of Wrabness. Amazed and entranced by house. Ponder ways of introducing infinity mirror corridor and moped chandelier into own house.

House party sets forth on walk to Mistley for lunch. Soon realise that map dismissed as unnecessary would be quite useful and inadvertently blueblaze the Essex Way. After few miles, decided not to follow leading sisters and cousins through marshy ground but lead renegade group along byway. Slightly surprised later to discover that sisters hadn’t immediately noticed their slightly ancient mother was no longer following. Less surprised when passing zorbing activity that mother expresses interest in having a go. Noted for future days out. Finally reach destination, meet others who had to retrace steps and are now behind us, have delicious lunch and catch train back.

Later in weekend, discover others have spent Saturday night ramming farm gates and thieving. Consult with neighbouring farmers and discover we were not sole targets. Much swearing and denouncing of certain sort of person. Considerable time spent by all over next few days dealing with consequences and building up further defences.

Relieved that expiring central heating boiler in house is replaced as enormous new red monster burner finally fired up. Downside – can hear money burning as each wood pellet pings into burner. Upside – house is warm. Charming young man explains thermostat programmer. Tells me he has set temperature low and I should turn up thermostat over coming days until comfortable ambient temperature reached. Spend next few days turning thermostat down and still hit by bank of warm air when opening door to sitting room. More fine tuning to do.

spring flowers lino print

Join Ruth on tester printmaking course. Told to arrive with nothing more than open mind. And, if time, please bring cake. Spend two days day making artful displays with flowers, drawing, mixing colours and printing. End course enthused and brimming with ideas for future printmaking. Make Steller story of experience. Ruth very critical of efforts and redoes story.

Upset today when Bill finds one of the guinea fowl has been run over and left dead on farm chase. Not overly surprised as guinea fowl have tendency to run towards and not away from oncoming vehicles but would prefer the driver had stopped or swerved to avoid it. Rather wish it had been the jay that wakes us every morning as it bashes its beak on windows around the house. Resolve to have stiff words about road safety with remaining guinea fowl when shutting them up tonight.



You can read the Steller story here.


Diary of a Frugal Month

Hope that sunny days and daffodils bursting into flower herald start of warm spring weather. Start springtime regime of Using Food from the Freezer in order to have good break between frozen fruit and vegetables and fresh from the garden. Find several unlabelled bags that could be apple juice or chicken stock and great quantities of rabbit casseroles. Decide to start with soft fruit and pull out bag of unappealing raspberry rubble squashed at bottom of freezer. Make Raspberry Loaf Cake and discover raspberry pieces work just as well as whole raspberries.

Raspberry Cake

Regret that raspberry cake needs only two eggs as small mountain of eggs has appeared in pantry because every hen and duck is laying an egg a day. Encourage grandson to collect eggs from nest box on premise that he will then have to take them home. Had forgotten that toddlers hurl eggs rather than carefully placing them in egg box. Eat scrambled eggs for lunch.

Rabbit Furs

In fit of frugality, regard rabbit skins destined for throwing away after meat has been cut up as terrible waste of resources. Consult numerous websites for ways to preserve skins and consider options. Have no battery acid to hand and no wish to scrape brains from rabbit so follow instructions using salt and alum (conveniently left over from natural dyeing experiments last year). Realise half way through that alum supplies are insufficient. Hastily place order for more via internet. Days pass. Emails exchange. Regret managing to pick supplier whose health issues make trips to Post Office difficult and infrequent. Add more salt and hope lack of alum doesn’t affect end product. Alum finally arrives and process continues. Skins dried and stretched as instructed so now have small collection of rabbit skins, though no idea what to use them for. Diminutive size of collection banishes thoughts of making rug to drape artistically over sofa in front of roaring fire.

Clear books from one shelf on bookcase in effort to Remove Unnecessary Clutter in lieu of proper Spring Cleaning and find several children’s books. Flick through book of nursery rhymes. Eyes alight on

Bye, baby bunting,
Daddy’s gone a-hunting,
Gone to get a rabbit skin
To wrap the baby bunting in.

A possibility. Or perhaps just a fur trimmed hat.