The new waterwheel has arrived!
The Mosaic weekend went well, as it always does. The leader, Anne Schwegmann-Fielding, and I are keen to do a day In September 2010 on creating mosaic panels in seashells. Anne has been working on the National Trust Shell House in Hatfield Forest, in Essex, which was created in the 18th century. We thought it would be a great thing to do with all those shells that people collect on their summer holidays. We are also talking about the possibility of creating a Sculpture Park here in the future. New courses for next year are Pig-Keeping - keeping a few pigs in your garden - and Sheep for
A team from Thames Talkback came here at the end of July to film a programme about making coracles (ancient portable boats). Denise, the presenter, and I started to make one out of hazel rods on the grass alongside the millpond. The boat is made upside down, so we pushed the rods into the earth at regular intervals to form an oval, and then we bent them over, working on opposite sides, and tied them roughly in the middle with baler twine until the frame was made. Luckily someone from the last course had left their coracle behind, so we were both able to go out and I was able to show her
Another amazingly popular beekeeping course. Simon Cousins, the tutor, manages to make what could be a very dry subject funny. He has to cover everything you would need to know about beekeeping in a day, so it's quite a tall order. On another day, he met six students in the pub at Wormingford, near to where he keeps most of his bees, for a look inside the hives, suitably kitted up of course.
6.45 We have just seen the two barn owl chicks sitting on the tray outside their box, blinking in the early morning sun and obviously waiting for the parents to feed them.
Just after midsummer day, two barn owl chicks were found in the strawbale owl tower, built last year. And three kestrel young were found in the other barn owl box on a pole nearby. Next week someone will be coming to ring them, so that we might know where they move to eventually. Let's hope there isn't a long period of wet weather in the near future, which will prevent the parents from finding enough food for them.
A lovely day for making mud pies, and that's really what the clay oven course was about. We trod the home-grown clay (Assington Mill is in a valley with a stream running through)in wellies or with bare feet and mixed it with straw and water. Then, having made the shape of the inside of the oven with logs, then sand, and covered the lot with wet newspaper, we slapped the clay on outside to form a very thick layer, with a hole on one side for a door.
We have just had the most marvellous camp here: 90+ adults and children aged from three to seventy. The idea, started in the 1930s, is to introduce city children to the joys of country living, I think. Most people seemed to come from London.
The one-day course on May 17 turned out to be the best so far, judging from the comments. I think this was because instead of a cookery demonstration, Emma took her group out to pick nettles first of all and then they made nettle soup for lunch. Meanwhile, others picked salad leaves, such as wild garlic, chickweed and broom flowers, to eat with the wild rabbit pie.
After lunch John Warner gave his inimitable demonstration on skinning and jointing a rabbit. Next time (11 Oct) we have decided to ask for volunteers and John will talk them through the process.
Monday 18 May 2009
Another extremely well-attended Food for Free course, and possibly the best yet, judging from the comment sheets. Emma Eastham took her group out to learn about, pick and cook nettles for soup at lunchtime, whilst Nick Miller took his group out to hunt for salad leaves, such as wild garlic, jack-in-the-hedge, broom flowers etc.
After lunch of nettle soup,wild rabbit pie and the last of the elderflower cordial, and another walk, followed by tea and home-made carrot cakes, John Warner instructed some of us on how to catch (in theory only), skin and joint a rabbit.
We have a new course on bread-making, on Sunday 17 January 2010.
John Lawrence will be running a one-day course to help people to improve their bread-making skills. We will explore three different rising methods, and use several flour types including some non-wheat, non-gluten flours.
You will come away with 4-5 loaves for dinner, breakfast or the freezer.
We will provide all ingredients and baking tins, some notes on bread-making and recipes for the loaves you will have made.