Profuse apologies, my dear Reader, for my epic summer silence. It seems an age since I was last tip tapping away a little note to you and I can only blame it on lots of work and plenty of lovely things happening at Margot and Jerry HQ, giving me not time at all to resume my position at the writing desk. With Primrose and Poppy at home creating mayhem for almost 8 WEEKS of summer horror, I mean holiday, I haven’t had a moment to even hear myself think either!
Days have been filled with exploring our patch of Hampshire, trips to secluded sandy spots, sampling a lot of local goodies (wine, beer, gin…..) so when we finally headed off for our staycation and annual trip to Tom and Barbara’s shire farmstead, we couldn’t be too downhearted when it weed it down with rain. Lots of time at home too – the spare room has had its bedding stripped more times than a boutique B&B of late! As anyone who knows us well knows, we’re always more than happy to have friends to stay – any excuse for a good gossip over a large glass of something!
One of my favourite weekends saw Minty and Tree descend on us with their gorgeously blonde boys for a weekend of fishing, drinking and much use of Tree’s best phrase “Indoor voice, Minty, indoor voice”. A weekend with them is never dull! They are the very epitome of Country Life’s Tottering By Gently, albeit distinctly rather more youthful, and I adore them for it. Tree came up trumps with the most stunning fishing location on a blissfully hot summer’s day – what could be more perfect that sitting on the banks of the River Test, picnic and children sprawled out on the grass, glass of wine in hand whilst dangling one’s toes into crystal clear water? I kid you not, dear Reader, it was stunning. For anyone who thinks fishing is boring, think again. Tree had Jerry and I hooked. Literally. Although, unsurprisingly, fly fishing is far more complicated than I thought. The knack of casting is something which I think could take me a lifetime to master. Tree was EXCEPTIONALLY patient and in between trying to avoid 4 small children falling into the river or jumping into stinging nettles head first, he had me practising the perfect cast. I can imagine that it is immensely satisfying when you get it right….however, I can’t say I managed much more than hooking the back of Primrose’s cardigan. Thank goodness that no one was counting on me to provide a freshly caught lunch. Standing quietly is also a skill that would vastly improve one’s ability to catch fish. Dear Reader, I feel I fell at the first hurdle on that score…… Tree’s exceptional fishing prowess meant that the day was saved and ‘together’ we caught a weeny wild brown trout. Very satisfying to catch something but this one was certainly not destined for the fish kettle.
A wonderful afternoon and absolute heaven enjoying a spot of river bank picnicking that seemed to have jumped straight out of the pages of The Wind in the Willows. Thanks to Tree, I now have the perfect Christmas present all neatly tied up for Jerry. With 3 women in his life, a day learning how to master fly fishing will feel like an eternity of peace of quiet – just what he needs!
Back to earth with a bump and the start of a new term. The beginning of September saw Poppy going to nursery for the first time – a momentous occasion for our little stick of dynamite. Jerry and I kept waiting for a phone call the first week into her new routine. Would she like it? Would the staff cope with her feisty temperament? Would she instigate a coup….? I am pleased to report that the phone hasn’t rung yet……perhaps she is biding her time before taking any decisive action? With Primrose happily skipping off to school too, a year older and wiser, it seems that FINALLY I might get back to the desk and pen something, that is if I can steer myself away from the coffee machine and reading Twitter timelines.
Harvest seemed to resonate so much more with me this year. Not just because it is always a magical spectacle watching the local farmers bringing in the harvest but because, at last, the time had also come to say goodbye to our woolly friends. After all the bottle feeding, nursing by the Everhot, spraying for FlyStrike, chasing them back into the field after yet another escape, the hour of their departure was upon us. No ceremony, no tears – loaded into a trailer, off they went. A strange moment of pride, sense of achievement and sadness. Poppy and Primrose waved them goodbye in full knowledge of the fact that we would next see them in a very different form. I am so proud to say that the girls have dealt with the whole process like true farmer’s daughters – something I never would have imagined when we moved here a year ago.
Dear Reader, we really should take our hats off to the farming community. Bringing food from field to fork is a long hard slog. I have huge admiration for all those farmers out there who work day and night to bring us our Sunday roasts, eggs sunny side up, bread, cereal, mince for our spaghetti Bolognese and SO MUCH MORE. They are truly the heroes and heroines of our countryside life. We’ve met some truly remarkable people along the way of our own small scale farming experience and I have to say that the shepherdesses, farmers and online farming community have shown us an incredible amount of support. With the lambs slaughtered, butchered and now in the chest freezer, I’ve yet to pluck up the courage to cook the first roast from our own flock but I’m hoping that when we do, it will be the best lamb we’ve ever eaten.
Could this be the last of Farmer Margot, I hear you ask dear Reader? Will there be more sightings of Margot in farmer’s overalls? For now, we will simply enjoy the autumn – walking up the lane picking blackberries, scrumping in our neighbours’ orchard for apples, a spot of shooting perhaps? Jerry will no doubt be delighted and breathe a sigh of relief. Although, dear Reader, little does he know that I did cast my eye over this delightful pair at a local agricultural show recently……
PS – a couple of other little bits and bobs…
Do look out for Margot’s latest little blog spot at Country Child Magazine – I shall be a regular feature there now too.
Glut of runner beans? A little recipe from me to you over at CountryWives