Saturday, 10 December 2016


So to start with evening and a crescent moon, cold night ahead - that was last night. Today - out with the scythe and cutting the overgrown grass on the banking and alongside the stream - I only nicked myself once checking to see how sharp the blade was after sharpening. I should have raked the grass off and taken it to the compost but will have to do it tomorrow. Usual blood blister on my left hand.

Back to the useless rat trap - this pheasant cannot understand why it cannot get to the bait inside. 

I am making rhubarb and ginger jam with the frozen fruit from 2015 to try and make space in the big freezer. It is a bit of a fiddle what with muslin bags of ginger root and so on.
Then as I chopped the crystallised ginger I was reminded how much my father used to love eating it - and he has been gone nearly thirty years.

This morning there was a splendid sunrise over the bay and the Forest of Bowland. It was cold but rain is on its way and warmer weather.

A recipe?
3 lbs rhubarb and 3 lbs sugar in a bowl - stir up and leave overnight for the juices to come out. Put in jam pan.
Wrap 1 oz root ginger sliced in a muslin bag and hang in the mixture, add juice and grated peel of 3 lemons, simmer till reduced and thickened a bit.
Take out muslin bag, add 4oz chopped crystallised ginger, boil till thicker and stuff in hot jam jars.

Do not eat at bedtime as may keep you awake.

Made some bread too but R making butterscotch sauce (to go on ice cream and sticky toffee pudding)(interestingly sticky toffee pudding was invented by a Canadian I think!)(Not John Tovey).

All this has nothing to do with gardening - one labours on at this time of year trimming and tidying. The days of frost look to be over for a while which is a pity - I would much rather have a sharp sunny day than a dour dark dismal one when the lights in the house never go off and going outside is a chore rather than a pleasure.

Off to pick up windfall sticks and shove them in a heap in the wood for creatures to inhabit.

Now some call these bullrushes (are where the old top pond was by the hedge) but they are actually reedmace and do dry - except I keep forget to cut them.

Thought I would end with this pic across Morecambe Bay from Birkrigg to Heysham Nuclear Power Station - we can see it from the house. The bay is about 15 miles across, 23 km, and a haven for birds as the tide comes in and goes out at speed - in places faster than a galloping horse - hence the many drownings when it used to be the main way to get to us from the south. In the pic you can see some small spots on the lower left - these are shrimpers with their tractors!

You can also see that we are on a main aeroplane corridor by the contrails in the sky.


I can see thirty miles to Bowland -
imagine the million waders on the Bay.
Out there at low tide, shrimping,
you can hear conversations at Cark,
talk from Bardsea and Morecambe - 
but your own voice is dead,
smothered by the absorbent sand.
Under the shifting surface
coaches, horses and corpses lie,
caught by the race, trapped,
buried.  Even tractors sink,
ambushed by liquified sediment.

Out in the wet desert
fishermen go in pairs,
stretch nets across shallow rills,
rock for cockles - their boards
suck the shells to the surface.
Some still push hand-nets
through the water’s edge,
drown shrimps in air, boil them pink,
pick them at the kitchen table,
pack them in butter.  Eat,
make the cycle complete. 
In the Bay the tide slides on.

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