Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Jams, Quilts & Falling Off Punts Into Rivers

There is a crab apple tree in one of the hedges on my local run. For the past week, it has been dropping its fruit on the ploughed field and I've been jumping over the tiny speckled apples thinking I really must come and collect some for winter jelly. I remembered to do this over the weekend and today I made up two kilner jars of rosehip and crab apple jelly. It tastes lovely and the colour....oh my! Next stop...tomato and courgette chutney (once I have changed the gas canister over).

I have also finished F's going away to uni quilt today, with help from Chief Quilt Overseer, Poppy...

While Deputy Quilt Overseer Ted slept on oblivious on top of a double layer of beds. Poppy grumbled it was like the princess and the pea as she lay down on the floor watching me pin layers of fabric together, ignoring the occasional gentle swear as I pinned my finger instead.

I'm pleased with the way it's turned out, and quite tempted to make an identical one for us as there's enough fabric left over. It's very snuggly and warm, thanks to the wadding which is 50% cotton, 50% bamboo, so nice and soft.

I particularly love this dove fabric which is part of the quilt. The finished product has a faintly medieval feel which is perfect as F is off to study archeology....

We spent a chunk of the weekend punting on the Cherwell in Oxford with fifteen members of the family before all heading off to a hotel in the Cotswolds for the night to celebrate M's 50th and L's 16th. The punting has become something of a summer tradition since the children were little, and it's become obligatory for the three dads (M, his brother and cousin) to "fall" in. They duly obliged in style, much to the hilarity of everyone else (including complete strangers in other punts who nevertheless hastened past, clearly keen to establish a reasonable bit of watery distance between themselves and the loons in the three punts). The littlest boys (aged 11 and 8) were in ecstasy at the dunkings, particularly as the oldest pushed M in (no photo of that as M took ages re-emerging and I was starting to panic that he'd drowned). He discovered the hard way that if you're going to shove an uncle off a punt into a river you're quite likely to find yourself being taken along with him (see third pic down) :o)

The hotel, on the edge of the Cotswolds, was lovely. A proper old-fashioned place. The rooms were huge, light and airy and we had a dining room all to ourselves (probably wise- we're a raucous bunch) with the tables set out like a tudor banquet. M, L and I sat at the head with two long arms of family stretching down either side. The food was delicious and after supper we all retired to the bar snug where whiskey, brandy, port and baileys did several rounds amid much conversation and laughter from large old leather and fabric armchairs.

The following morning, after a leisurely breakfast, we headed off en masse (complete with helium filled silver birthday balloons, one of which had found its way into my car where it proceeded to drive me mad floating about on the back seat like a disembodied head) to visit Great Coxwell Barn, a 13th century Cotswold stone barn that was once part of a monastic farm complex. M and I had been before, it is very beautiful. The last time we were there, earlier this summer, a Little Owl flew out of the barn right over my head and perched on the roof of the court house below. There are also several species of bat in the roof which has the original 13th C timbers. Master Craftsmanship, eh?

Talking of owls, last Sunday evening a Barn Owl floated down out of the gloaming and sat on our garage roof. He was there ages, looking around, peering in the window at us. Magical.

The Garden Birds are still eating me out of house and home. We now have siskins a-plenty, back in the garden much earlier than in previous years (I usually don't see them until January has stripped the cones from the trees), and the baby woodie is still around too. The Swifts have left Romsey and I haven't heard Blackcaps or Chiffchaffs for ages, so assume they've also headed off. But the Robins have started singing again and my heron has returned to the lake and the wrens are busy being bossy and scolding everyone in sight....

Great Tit

Marsh Tit

Assorted Tits in the rain

Siskins and goldfinches

Sparrows squabbling over the water

Baby GSW
Running-wise, I'm now back to under 24 minute Parkrun times and have another half marathon this weekend. A road race this time, just to try something a bit different. I'd been grumbling to M that I didn't feel like my fitness had improved recently, then it occurred to me that a month ago there's no way I would have decided on a Monday that I fancied running a half marathon at the weekend, looked one up and booked it, so I guess that speaks for itself. Measuring improvements in your ability becomes harder the longer you've been running, I'm finding. Anyway, I'm interested to see how I do as this race is completely different from my preferred off road and hilly ones. I will report back (warts and all).

Hope you're all well? We have GCSE results here on Thursday. We are not panicking. We are actually Quite Calm. I will be proud of him whatever the results as he worked his socks off so he deserves to do well. You can't ask anyone for more than that.

CT :o)


  1. Nevertheless good luck with those results.

  2. I have never made crab apple jelly before, looks and sounds lovely, I love preserving in the summer months and stocking up for winter. I have enjoyed seeing the birds in your garden, we still get the regulars, we have also decided to set up an avairy, we use to breed birds, but will just be having a few this time. I just love all birds.x

  3. Lots to savour in this post. The quilt looks wonderful as does the jelly. Had to laugh at the punting larks, men will be men! The hotel stay sounded fun. Wish your daughter well with archaeology. Although I trained as a primary teacher at teacher training college back in the year dot my main subject was archaeology. Oh what larks we had and I'm sure your daughter will too. Look forward to hearing about it.
    Fab bird pix as always. B x
    p s good luck with your next half, bet it will be a doddle!

  4. P.P.S thinking of you on Thursday. All will be well I'm sure xx

  5. The quilt looks gorgeous. I wouldn't know where to start. Good luck for the exam results and the next half marathon. X

  6. Your quilt is absolutely gorgeous and it will be a lovely feeling to know that it will be keeping F warm at uni. Archaeology will be fascinating - we've been on a few digs and, apart from them being rather back breaking, we've thoroughly enjoyed them. I've made crab apple jelly before, but never with rosehips; it sounds delish. I also love punting, but fortunately have always managed to stay in the punt! Good luck on Thursday, I have every faith that the GCSEs will be fine.xx

  7. So much happiness here, CT. An heirloom quilt, fabulous family time and celebrations, punting, children blossoming, owls and other birds... Best of luck with the next set of results. xx

  8. A new and very beautiful quilt, messing about on the river and baby birds in the garden - we have another brood of blackbirds! - possibly three of my favourite things. I'm thinking of having a rest from jam-making this year ... Have a lovely day celebrating L's exam results on Thursday.

  9. Gorgeous quilt, very nicely done, no doubt it will be very much appreciated. Your Cotswold trip sounds brilliant, loads of fun and great to get together with family to celebrate the birthdays. Glad you all had such a good time. CJ xx

  10. My mother, now 91 has lived in Great Coxwell since I think about 1977, so I know the barn very well, it is beautiful. What you did not mention is that Great Coxwell does not have a pub, for that essential service you have to go to Little Coxwell. That is country logic for you.

  11. So much to see in this post. I love the quilt and yes the doves remind me of medieval knights for some reason. Such a lovely gift to give, personal and useful. I made a patchwork quilt when I was 17...and still have it in the linen cupboard.
    The punting weekend looked brilliant fun and the best country weekend. Great stuff.
    Jam...yum...kilner jars are the best. I should be making orange marmalade..our elderly neighbour has the most superb tree. Inundated with oranges but they are so sweet and juicy and frankly the best oranges I've ever eaten that...can bring myself to cook them! So we have a giant bowl in cooler room...and they are being picked off daily.
    Happy times CT...glad you liked Ed's book week photo.
    Love to you all.

  12. What lovely times you have been having! The quilt is pretty and will be very snuggly too I am sure.

  13. So much fun, love your photo of lad going into the water, the barn looks stunning. You are clever with your quilting, I do hope you decide to make another quilt for yourself, I have one cat who likes to help with my crafting, normally by lying on anything I put down. Bird photo's are great. lovely post.

  14. Crab apple jelly is wonderful - as is Quince. I would not be laughing if I fell off a punt. I cannot swim. That hasn't stopped me from punting in the past though, before I lost my sense of balance.

  15. I would love to try crab apple jelly sometime. I only wish I'd known it was a thing when I lived in the northeastern US, where we had crab apple trees galore. If anything, I think I had some idea you couldn't eat them because they would make you sick! Silly to think of that now. Your jelly is very pretty. Good luck with the test results!

  16. Love the quilt. Your trip sounds such fun, glad you all had a great time. We're being eaten out of house and home too by our feathered friends.. but they are worth it.. great photos by the way. Good luck for tomorrows exam results.

  17. Hope the GCSE results go well tomorrow. Your crab apple and rosehip jelly looks a wonderful colour! Your annual
    family punting looks good fun! Sarah x

  18. Ooh wonder if that jelly would go well with Manchego cheese? Sounds delicious! Your weekend sounds amazing! So much fun. And as for your run, that isn't running that is flying!! Fingers crossed for today xx

  19. What a lovely fun post CT. That crab apple jelly is luscious. I love this time of year, the gathering, the bottling and storing. Your family traditions sound fab, punting and quilts for uni - another great store of memories. I'm interested in your fitness grumble -what is the target time for the HM? And, CT do you run every day? Best of luck for today! Xx


Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x