Sunday 23 October 2011

Plenty to see here...

I mentioned the other day being about to travel on one of my favourite stretches of railway line anywhere - and today I have just travelled back along it in the other direction! This is the stretch of line in South Devon, between Starcross and Teignmouth - where the line travels so close to the sea that at times it feels like a miracle that you don't have wet feet, and where in stormy weather the waves crash right up and over the trains. Today WAS a stormy day - although oddly it didn't feel like that at all back in Dartmouth where it was a beautiful warm autumn day. By the time we hit that stretch of coast though the wind had whipped up and the tide was high enough that the waves were looking spectacular!

I could have done with my binoculars today - countless different birds - some forced towards the coast because of worse conditions out to sea I suspect, lined the coast from the masses of sparkling white Little Egrets on the marshes to the inky dark Cormorants occupying a wrecked vessel along the coast a little further. Then assorted Ducks (unidentifiable at the distance) and waders galore - curlews, Godwits and flocks of Turnstones wheeling in the air like shoals of mackerel - first light, then dark. All in all a lovely journey, and one which I always enjoy!


Ps - apologies for the poor quality of today's photo - from my defence it was taken through the none-too-clean window of a moving intercity 125!

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Thursday 20 October 2011

The smallest thing can be a treat...

That's the thing about trying to live frugally, sparingly. When you have little spare money where you spend what you do have has to be carefully considered. Your priorities change too - a few years ago a 'treat' would have been a pair of shoes, or a new bag. Maybe a splurge on new makeup and cosmetics at Boots. Now though this £1.69 cuppa, to be drunk whilst sitting on a station platform waiting for a train, will do nicely!


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A lovely day for a train ride...

I'm on my way down to Devon - yes, again! This time it's just me heading down, so I'm on the train on a beautiful crisp Autumn day. The sky is blue and the sunshine is bringing out the stunning colours in the trees and bushes fantastically. At the moment we're travelling through Hampshire but later on I'll be travelling on one of my favourite stretches of railway line anywhere, around the Devon coast between Exeter and Totnes.

The picture above was taken on my last visit to the in-laws, in their amazing garden. It provides the majority of the fruit and veg they eat through the summer and autumn, as well as jars and jars of jams, chutneys and other preserves that my Mum-in-law makes each year. Clever lady - I love visiting and nearly always come back with new skills and cooking ideas!


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Saturday 8 October 2011

Autumn Festival (1)

Today has been a lovely day - bright and sunny with a few showers and just enough of a nip in the air to remind you that actually, Autumn's here.

What better day to get together with family then and visit an Autumn Festival? The family concerned were Mum and Dad-in-law, brother-in-law Ed and his wife Emma, and baby nephew Sam, not forgetting of course Wurzel the dog. We watched Morris-Men, we sampled Bread, and apple juice, and we bought cheese, biltong, and more apple juice, and we had a lovely walk through some beautiful woodland with much stick-throwing for Wurzel!


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Monday 3 October 2011

It pays to ask...

We were out collecting in my Avon books on Sunday, nothing unusual in that, but nearly tripping over a large, fallen, yellow fruit on someone's path is a little exceptional. Looking up we quickly realised that it had come from an overhanging tree which was positively laden with more large, yellow fruit. Quince! Instantly recognisable, and all the more when we smelt them, a beautiful fragrance all of their own - apparently they make excellent car air fresheners as they shrivel, rather than rot, and will perfume the air delicately for ages. I returned to the house, apologised for bothering them, and asked if it would be OK to take some of the overhanging fruit - I think they were quite pleased to be asked! (Probably saves them having to constantly go round and clear up windfalls!) We have 2kg of them....and now have to decide what best to use them for....jelly? Something like a fruit cheese? I think I've seen a jam recipe somewhere. I shall probably pop over to The Quince Tree Blog and take a look at what she has done with them...


Sunday 2 October 2011

Lovely day for a stroll!

We'd heard about a walnut tree with nuts both ready to pick and as windfalls, so decided to head off to find it.

First bit of the instructions said to park up by Matching Church - and what a pretty church it is! Very traditional with it's square stone tower - we're used to seeing these towers poking up across the countryside here in Essex - far more of our churches have towers than steeples!

Had it not been for the light breeze blowing it would have been rather too warm for walking far - incredible for October! Signs of autumn are everywhere - the leaves are turning ever more golden by the day and the breeze blowing through them making that distinctive dry rustling.

We found our walnuts - all the way up this footpath - not many in reach on the tree but plenty fallen on the ground. It would have been helpful had I remembered sooner that walnut juice stains the skin badly...Ben now has black fingers! Oops!

Having picked up plenty of the nuts from the ground, and also a pound or so of Haws from a nearby Hawthorn we headed back to the car stopping along the way to photograph things that caught my eye, like this startling dead tree. The nuts will be taking a trip to Devon shortly for Mum-in-law, and the Haws are going to be added to some crab apples to make a fruit leather. More free food!


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