26 July 2009

Baby melons

As you may have read last year Ian has a recently-discovered passion for growing melons.

He's currently growing this 'sweetheart' melon that he grew so successfully last year:

and for the first time a watermelon. It's about the size of a grape in this photograph:

A Mulberry Tree

Yesterday we took a day trip to the New Forest to visit the New Forest Otter, Owl and Wildlife Park (owned by the same family as the Chestnut Centre). Ian was particularly keen to take his new camcorder and video the otters.

There were three highlights for me - watching an asian short clawed otter climbing a fence, the recent addition of a tropical butterfly house and a beautiful black mulberry (Morus nigra) tree outside the first otter enclosure. I've walked past the tree a number of times in the Spring without paying it any attention, but being summer it was fruiting profusely.

The ground was stained with fallen fruits and there were still thousands on the tree itself. I didn't feel cheeky enough to pick some and taste them (and I couldn't remember if you could eat them raw), but we did collect lots of the fallen fruit with the hope of planting one of our own.

I have to say that it was one of the most beautiful and unusual trees I've ever seen. I have to have one!

Many people know only of the mulberry from the fact that the leaves provide the only source of food for the silkworm and from the nursery rhyme "here we go round the mulberry bush". No species of mulberry actually forms a bush and it may be that it was adapted from an earlier version "here we go round the bramble bush".

18 July 2009


Finally I've finished making the path next to the large pond. I started it back in April, but to finish it I required some triangular brick pieces to go round the corner (thanks so much to Ian and his new angle grinder for cutting them) and some wet weather to make the clay easier to dig.

The straight section that I completed a couple of months ago is rather overgrown now, but I like it that way.

6 July 2009

Lemon syrup cake

Mum gave me a wonderful book "a year of desserts" a couple of years ago and I've started making some of them. The coconut ice cream was a bit too sweet for me, but Ian loved it (and of course I'll post the recipe if anyone's interested). We both really love this lemon cake - it's very moist and lemony and best served warm.

The worst part is chopping the candied peel - not easy as it's so sticky. Hopefully there's a shop out there that sells it already chopped, but we haven't found it yet.