Monday, 23 September 2013

Welcome to Autumn...

Yesterday was the Autumnal equinox - the day when day and night have approximately equal length. After this date, the days shorten each day until we reach the shortest day of the year in December.  At Hazel Cottage, its not only the leaves that are beginning to fall off the trees, we are in the middle of the hazel harvest (or glut!).  The spare bed is covered with hundreds of hazelnuts, drying gently.  Each day another handful (or basketful) falls from the skies.  We are now looking into nice ways of using them up.

The word autumn has French origins, the older English term for this season is 'fall', a contraction of "fall of the year".   The pilgrim fathers took the old word with them to the Americas (fall is still used today in the USA), but it gradually died out here in England and was replaced by autumn.

Autumn or fall is one of my favourite times of year - a sense of new beginnings, of harvesting nature's bounty.  The trees will start to change colour, the spiders are making webs everywhere and the seeds of the horse chestnut tree (known as conkers) start to hurtle to the ground.  The weather is warm and still again after several days of cooler weather, and we've had little flocks of starlings streaming into the garden for the last week or two.  The woodpecker is still with us, which is so exciting and I am impatient to plant out my tulip bulbs, but I really must wait until October at least. 


“Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love - that makes life and nature harmonise. The birds are consulting about their migrations, the trees are putting on the hectic or the pallid hues of decay, and begin to strew the ground, that one's very footsteps may not disturb the repose of earth and air, while they give us a scent that is a perfect anodyne to the restless spirit.  Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.”
George Eliot

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Apple jam and patchwork hexagons

I decided to make Apple Jam with the apples from our tree (and some from a friend who is inundated this year).  I would usually make chutney with apples, but we have made a lot of marrow pickle and still have some left over chutney from last autumn.    

I found this recipe which is an old recipe   

It is pretty simple and I found a handful of blackberries from the freezer to add the bit of colour and taste they mentioned, as I didn't have loganberies.
Apples from our tree

The slightly tedious bit - peeling!

The ingredients in my new jam pan

Ta-da! Fourteen jars of apple jam! 
We found a rather dull modern pine wall shelf on eBay recently and Mr C did a lovely job on painting it and making it look fabulous.  It now sits on our bedroom wall in a little corner filled with old small books that were scattered about the house.

I've started putting together some hexy patches to make a patchwork picture.  I've got an idea what it will look like of course, and if it works well I will post a picture later on.  I've just started to make the hexagon patches and still have a way to go before I can sew them together.

Its now September and the weather has cooled down a little, especially first thing in the morning and last thing at night. We seem to have a bit more rain too, which is very welcome.  The most exciting thing in the garden at the moment are the visitors we've had.  We saw a thrush on our bird feeder several times last week and last night we kept on hearing a loud kik kik kik sound from the garden.  It sounded different to the usual blackbird and robin sounds we hear, so I stood at the back door looking to see where it was coming from, and from the top of the large fir tree next door was what we think was a Great Spotted Woodpecker!  I managed to take a poor picture by zooming in madly, which helped us identify it.  This was wonderful news!