Bonfire Night

A belated bonfire night post. It seems that we are building quite a tradition with bonfire night at the barns before we are even living there. Last year I really thought that we would be living in our new home but once again we were scavenging around the building site to build a bonfire ready for a Guy Fawkes night. It was a lovely evening, if a little chilly. In fact it became too light when the moon rose! We lit the fire, had a few fireworks and then tucked into some bonfire food and mulled wine. Then we enjoyed a couple of commercial fireworks displays across the valley (for free!) and had a lovely time playing with sparklers!


The bacon butty walk

A couple of weeks ago we decided to walk from the barns to Codnor Park reservoir to get some fresh air. It's a walk that goes down the fields, across the steam railway, along the coach road and then onto Cromford canal and then to the reservoir. It is a nice walk, not dramatic, but nice and it harks back to our industrial heritage. The weather started off sunny but we just reached the bacon butty van at the reservoir when the heavens opened. There was no option but to have a bacon sandwich and a cup of tea whilst sheltering from the rain. Well, I have to say it was the best bacon sandwich I've had in ages, and the cup of tea hit the spot as well. The Waters Edge bacon butty van has featured in Derbyshire Life magazine and manages very well without advertising but relies on word of mouth and facebook recommendations. After the rain we turned around and rushed back to the barns before the next deluge.....and almost made it in time.

The reservoir at Codnor park has become a favourite gentle stroll and bird watching venue. At the moment there are many baby water fowl including swans, moorhen, mallard and coot. Checkout my instagram feed for photos. 

Hardwick Hall - more glass than wall

I love where we live, not specifically our temporary rented hovel, but our bit of Derbyshire. It has many attributes but one of them is that it has stately homes all over the place. Today I dashed out to Hardwick Hall - it's only maybe 10 miles from where we live - and it was such a beautiful afternoon and we are members of the National Trust so it's easy to pop over for an hour. I took some really nice photo's of the herb garden in all it's loveliness but have just accidentally deleted them. Oh well, I will just have to pop over again another time and take some more. I did manage to salvage one of my photo's but I've a feeling that I've taken this very view before. One thing I didn't know about Hardwick was that it was featured in Harry Potter as the outside of the Malfoy mansion. When I saw it in the film I thought that it looked very much like Hardwick Hall!

Heart Hanger - Homemade Christmas Presents

It's been a long time since last blogging and so much has happened with Christmas, New Year holiday, working away from home, another new hip..... Yes, this is 'the winter of hipcontent' to misquote Shakespeare.

First of all it is now quite safe to reveal the family homemade present. This year I thought I would do something a little easier and less time consuming and settled for making shabby chic style heart garlands. But, oh how wrong I was. I mean, I 'cheated' by using a heart die cutter to cut out a vast number of hearts. Aha, what a sneaky shortcut person I am. However, I didn't factor in the hours it would take to sew the hearts together, turn them the right way around, stuff them, make the hessian roses, string them together and just, well, THINK about them. For example, what colours would each offspring like, what patterns, where to get the fabric from (obviously I had to buy new fabric as mine is still in storage), research the hessian roses, make the hessian roses, do a trial run, find some beads as extra embellishments, play with hessian leftovers to make tassles. Well, it goes on (and on). Don't get me wrong, I loved making them and actually made 7 in the end with two more to finish off FOR ME - they are really nice, but my goodness, they've consumed all my sewing time. The poor old hexagon quilt has once again taken a back seat because of Christmas.

Christmas at Chatsworth House

We are very fortunate to have Chatsworth House a short drive from where we live and the Christmas decorations are a special attraction and well worth a visit, although it is really busy. I had a sisters day out - myself and my sisters have a trip out and lunch instead of buying each other Christmas presents. This year we had a bigger party as my niece and her little boy came too and also our dad, so it was extra nice with 4 generations of the family represented. Here are a few photos of the decorations, though they barely do them justice. I've also included a photo of my favourite sculpture of the Veiled Vestal Virgin. This year the theme for the decorations is 'The Nutcracker' so there were ballerinas dancing around too ("the pretty ladies" as described by little Oscar). My favourite room had a tutu tree and a bauble bath :) 

Golden Valley and Codnor Castle Walk

The sun was shining and I have a new leg (so to speak), so it was time to test it out and try out a walk that will be a local walk when we move to the barns. 

It's a very historical walk which sort of goes back in time from the industrial revolution back to medieval times. We started with the industrial revolution by walking along the remains of the Cromford canal at Golden Valley. We have spent many a happy time with the kids over the years visiting the Cromford canal at Cromford near Matlock, but have never really investigated the canal on our doorstep. We parked near the Newlands Inn which is a sad shell of a grade 2 listed building destroyed by fire in 2011 with no sign for years of it being rebuilt.

Across the road from the Newlands is the footpath along Cromford Canal towards Codnor Reservoir. This is quite overgrown in places but is a pleasant walk and well used by walkers and birders. We saw a kingfisher which was very exciting - apparantly there are a pair seen regularly.

We continued along the canal past the reservoir until we reached the start of  Erewash Meadows Country Reserve where we turned off to cross the railway line. The nature reserve will have to be a walk for another day! Across the railway line we walked through the woods until we reached a farm track and fields near to Codnor Castle. Fortunately for us the castle was open as they have open/maintenance days on the 2nd Sunday of every month. There is an excellent web site with lots of information about the castle here, and we were really quite shocked at our lamentable knowledge of our only local castle. It was featured on a Time Team program which we watched on YouTube when we got home.

After a little photography break at the castle we headed back towards the start of the walk, but first we took a little detour to see the  Codnor Park Monunment, another local landmark which we can actually see from the barns. It was a tower and hall built in the memory of William Jessop Jnr 1784-1852, a local industrialist active in the Butterley Company, founded by his father. It was actually a bit of disappointment because it's on private land and you can't get near it. Bah. The photo below shows the view across Golden Valley and you can just see our barns (with the help of the arrow!)

To finish off our walk we retraced our steps back to the track and walked back to the main road. We crossed the road and carried on along the footpath opting to walk on a high bank under the electricity cables after walking through the woods to a) see the view and b) it was easier walking because all the vegetation had been cleared underneath the wires.

All in all it was an unexpected lovely walk and one that we will do again. If you have enjoyed this post or would like to make a comment, please click on the buttons below.

Bonfire Night Party

Sparkler Writing

It's great having space and an abundant supply of stuff to burn on a bonfire. We are making full use of our barn garden in it's 'before' state. No doubt when it reaches the 'after' state we won't have a bonfire patch just in front of the kitchen window. Anyway, for the moment we can have a bonfire night party with a big bonfire. We have no electricity apart from a temporary cable run from the neighbours, no water and no bathroom facilities. However, on the plus side, you don't have to worry about people stomping indoors in muddy boots. We did make an effort from a safety perspective to cordon off some of the very big holes on the site so that we didn't break any legs. Somehow, that seemed like a very good idea. We managed to organise hot food and mulled wine and set these up in one of the barns just in case it rained and then everyone arrived and the burning commenced. We even had a Guy Fawkes on the bonfire, which in retrospect may have seemed a little gruesome to the Colombian friend of the daughters. It was a really nice evening with all the family and we have a new tradition of sparkler writing which takes quite a bit of co-ordination when there are 10 sparkler writers!

Cherry Harvest

In the garden of our (future) barn conversion is a rather large cherry tree. Last year we had a load of cherries on the tree before we went on holiday and none when we came back. Typical. This year our holiday timing has been a lot better and we've been able to keep an eye on the cherries. I picked some last weekend that were slightly under-ripe and put them on the window cill to finish ripening. The were ok, but a bit tart and tough - I de-stoned them all this morning and cooked them gently with a little water and honey to be used in some cakes and smoothies. This afternoon we popped over to the barns to get the car ready to take a load of stuff to the tip for the kids and we saw that the cherries must be ripe because a flock of birds flew out of the tree as we drove past. The only thing to do was to get a ladder and get picking! We picked loads and loads and had to stop because the bag was full. I fully intended to give up jam making until we had a proper kitchen but since we spied the jam pan in the storage container, we are going to give it a go. The jam pan was visible but almost inaccessible - we nearly had to give up on our jam quest,  but a bit of climbing and balancing and it was in our hands. Interestingly we had the forethought to keep it with the jam thermometer and bottling jug - it was almost as if we had planned it. The temperature on the thermometer was 100F so it's pretty warm at the moment in the container. Actually, the recent warm spell (after the monsoon season) makes our flat most uncomfortably hot; we must be mad thinking of making jam in our pokey furnace of a kitchen.