pear tree log: I started this blog to keep my younger son, Jonny, in touch with life in Lincolnshire, while he spent a year working in China. That year turned into five! Now he is home and training to become a physics teacher. This is simply a patchwork quilt of some of the things I enjoy - life in rural Lincolnshire, our animals, friends, architecture, books, the gardens, and things of passing interest.

Friday, 30 March 2012


Hello Everyone,

Life is very busy here.   The gardens are making huge demands, I need to get to work on some paintings, I have knitting, crochet and sewing projects all clamouring for attention - and there are only so many hours in a day - so I have decided to take a break from blogging.   

I have met so many wonderful people through the blog, so many friendships I would like to continue.  I shall, of course, continue to read your blogs at every opportunity.

This has been a really difficult decision for me, I hope you will understand.  


Thursday, 29 March 2012

Peace and Quiet

I sat on a bench in the garden, drinking a cup of tea and listening to the silence all around me, this is what I heard:

The drone of a distant aeroplane in the hot, blue sky
Two cockerels, one testosterone fuelled, the other lazily responding
One trundling old tractor
Two talking dog walkers
Several singing birds (wish I could identify them)
A buzzing bumble bee
Whistling (George, working on the polytunnel)
A caterwauling peacock  from the watermill
One speeding car (wish I had a stinger, it's a 30mph zone)
A chirruped cat greeting from Sparky
The occasional boom of a bird scarer in distant crop fields
The frantic flap of pigeon wings
The bleat of lambs
Their answering Mums

One shot from a high-powered rifle
The panicked panting of a frightened dog
'Silence' shattered
Time to go indoors
Calm Toby


Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Blue Sky Thinking

I wandered around the garden, enjoying the sunshine and blue skies, taking the occasional photograph...
like this silver birch tree - and the chimney which George and Jonny built.  

The silver birch is beautiful, provides a little dappled shade in summer, and the sap has been used by Jonny to make wine... an interesting brew.

The chimney is a wonderful addition to the house as it means we can have a log burner at that end of the kitchen, but it also helps to secure the wobbliest wall of this old building, which was built without real foundations.

Looking at the chimney made me remember this, which I bought as a broken bargain - many years ago.  I loved the winky wonky roof line, the chimney stack, the colour of the roof.  It cost just £10.00 for this very large chunk of pottery.
This is the 'interior' of the attic.

So really it is just the front roof and chimney with half an interior, completely open at the back with a good solid base.  It is chunky and a dust trap, but I still think it is charming.  Luckily, Davina agrees...
because not long after we all moved here I gave it to her because I thought it looked like a romanticised version of her old farmhouse.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Sloe Mornings and Delays

The blackthorn hedge may be spiky and vicious but isn't this blossom beautiful?  Another reason I am happy to see the blossom is the thought of all those wonderful sloes in autumn and the delights of making sloe gin ready for Christmas gifts.
Blackthorn Blossom (become Sloes, in autumn)
A Surprise Flower in the Garden,  pink, blue and lilac all on one tiny stem
I don't mind surprises like this one!
Honeysuckle Leaves Drenched with Moisture
Can you see the spider?
I love the collection of droplets clinging to this plant
Drenched, but beautiful, these flowers were found in a forgotten flowerpot
 they survived the winter and are doing their own thing.
I had time to meander around the garden this morning, it was cold and misty - perfect for playing with the macro lens of the camera.

The delays?  George is suffering from a trapped sciatic nerve, so the polytunnel won't be completed for a while.   He has had this before; he suffered badly for a few days and then it cleared up and he was mobile again...  

... otherwise he'll be off to the chiropractor whether he likes it or not.

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Swanning Around?

Just a quick post today because we spent the morning with the Aged Aunt and didn't get home until mid afternoon - which was when we began working on the garden, again! 

Can you see the water dripping from the swan's beak?  

Our journey home took us through Burwell and past a farm which has a rather lovely pond.  There are a couple of boats and a lone swan on it.  It all looked so lovely in the cold spring sunshine that I just had to take a couple of photographs.  

This photograph was taken through a hedge, so the detail is not great, but I think you get an idea of how lovely it is.

I'm sure you don't want to see yet more photos of the polytunnel base, or the vegetable beds, so I'll spare you that.  We have made good progress again today.

The good news is that the tunnel will be with us tomorrow -  eek!  

I may be quiet for a couple of days, it is hard work.

I hope you all have a good weekend!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Sparky The Circus Cat & Update for Jonny

It will come as no surprise to regular readers to learn that George and I spent today...digging.    Sparky performed tricks and tried to keep us happy.  Deadlines can be highly motivating and the knowledge that the polytunnel may be with us by Saturday...
...spurred us on.  This is some of the pile of things which we had to move in order to clear the site.  Ugly, but potentially useful things.   That little job took half a day, last weekend.  

Since then we have been digging trenches for the electric cable,  and another for the water pipe.  Then came the fun part as we tugged up a huge network of ancient nettle roots, hedging, tree roots of assorted sizes and finally the tirfor was needed to help remove three tree stumps.
Gradually the site has begun to look a bit more promising.
We just couldn't have managed without Sparky's help and close supervision.

I managed to escape for a little while at lunch time, I wanted to visit Arnold and also check to see whether the swans were still across the road on the pond.

Arnold was fine, so was John.  I had a really lovely chat with both of them, then I nipped to the pond and was disappointed to see that it was devoid of ducks, swans, geese.  There was a lone fisherman and his dog...

I continued up to the tiny hamlet of Claythorpe, then went down by the beautiful old watermill and saw this pair of swans.  Of course I don't know for sure that they are the same ones, but I'd like to think they may be.  
On my way to the watermill I passed the sheep field and was delighted to see all these beautiful lambs and their proud mamas.   

Spring has arrived!


Hi Jonny,

I hope you enjoyed seeing what we have been up to.  I know that you could have done it in half the time but I am pretty pleased with what we two oldies have achieved.

I also hope you got all the attachments I sent to you.  Let me know if you need any more, but do it early as we have to visit Aunty Nick tomorrow - and you know how long that takes, although we hope to get on and dig the plate holes later in the afternoon.    Your dad has also uploaded more files of photos to Spider, so there may be some there which will be useful.

I enjoyed the photographs on your updated blog.  Keep them coming.

All love,


Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Pond Life

As we were digging in the vegetable garden I heard a great creaking noise in the sky -  I looked up and saw two swans flying in the direction of the pond.  

They seemed very calm, quite at home.  I hope they stay.  

Monday, 19 March 2012


I love a bargain as much as anyone else and recently I found these in the charity shops in Louth.    The metal bowl with lid is just so gloriously OTT that I can imagine it filled with beautiful things at Christmas time.
I really like quite plain things, but this was too tempting to leave behind at just £2.50.
Perhaps I'll fill it up with small Easter eggs and see how long it takes young Harry to find them!  Toby would probably show him the way.
The yellow is not where base metal is showing through, it is down to my poor attempt at lighting.
This piece of fabric is beautifully heavy Sanderson fabric, 2 metres, £4.00.
This is a pair of heavy cotton curtains, £2.00.    Faded and gorgeous.
This heavy fabric is just an offcut, perhaps 16" wide by  4' long.  
Then this piece of embroidery - it's not in fabulous condition and it certainly isn't fine work -  it's pretty and I think I'll make a cushion cover out of it, which is probably what it was in an earlier life.  It cost 50p.

My fingers are itching to get stitching, but the garden is the priority at the moment.  

I'd better get back to work!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Kneeling in the Mud

We had a lot of much needed rain last night.  Unfortunately that meant that the ground was too soggy for me to get back to my digging.
So I headed into the garden for a little session with the macro lens and found this beauty down in the hellebore patch.   Odd man out amongst the green flowers.
Nearby I found this Chinese Lantern Skeleton, I was kneeling in the mud (accidental, I wobbled) trying to get a decent macro shot when
my very cute 'assistant', Sparky made me jump, when she pushed her sweet little face into the lens.   I gave her a fussing and sent her off to earn her keep,   catch a mouse, preferably a rat... 
I picked up the displaced Chinese Lantern and tried again.
Very amusing, but not what I was after.  
I gave up.

I did the ironing instead.

She probably did me a favour, the ironing basket is now empty!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Butterbur, Butterdock, Pestilence Wort...

On a recent walk I spotted an unusual-looking plant which I had never come across before.  I asked for help in identifying it and wonderful Meggie on the Prairie very kindly did some research and found that it was a Butterbur.
In between digging jobs in the garden I have found a little time to do some reading about the plant and its uses in folk medicine.    I found it interesting, so I thought I'd post about it.

First of all, why the strange name - well it seems that the leaves were used to wrap butter.  At the time I found the flowers there were no leaves visible, but apparently they can grow to a metre in diameter, on a stalk of up to 1.2 metres.  I can't wait to go back and have another look - it will probably be a jungle in there by now.

There are many other common names for it, Bog Rhubarb, Butterdock, Devil's Hat, and Pestilence Wort (my favourite), Umbrella leaves, Flapperdock and many others.  It was well known to country folk!

Nicholas Culpeper, the great herbalist,  called it a great preserver of the heart and reviver of the spirits and documented the use of Butterbur to provoke sweat and fight the plague, and fevers.
Borrowed image of Nicholas Culpeper

The roots were dried, beaten to a powder and drunk in wine.  Not sure how effective it was.  Please do not try this at home Knatolee!

Folk medicine applications include use as a diuretic, to treat coughs, wounds, hayfever, asthma, stress and stammering. It was used mashed into a poultice and applied to wounds and broken skin.   Warning:  Butterbur contains liver-toxic and possibly carcinogenic components.

In a lighter vein, historically the seeds have been used for love divination.   So, according to English folk lore, a young maiden should sow the seeds of Butterdock/Butterbur on the grass on a Friday morning, in a lonesome place, half an hour before sunrise, saying: 

"I sow, I sow,  
Then, my own dear, 
Come here, Come here, 
And mow, and mow."
A painting by Walter Hunt

Once the seed is scattered she will see her future husband mowing with a scythe, at a short distance from her.  She must not be frightened, for if she says "Have mercy on me!" he will immediately disappear.

This is said to be an infallible method, if somewhat desperate and bold!

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Twelve Swans a Flying

This afternoon I was just thinking about giving up on digging the vegetable beds when I heard a noise in the sky and was treated to the  most wonderful sight of twelve swans flying in formation. Typically, I didn't have my camera to hand.  

So I have borrowed this image from the internet...
Borrowed Image
... my swans were flying in a much tidier formation, they were breathtakingly beautiful.  I decided it was a gift from Mother Nature - a reward for my hard work -  I carried on with my digging!
This is part of the vegetable garden, you can see my next digging job, another large vegetable bed which is covered with weeds.  The long narrow bed is a newly created one, especially for peas and beans, it is a little over fifty feet long, the vegetable beds are about  15 feet long by  6 or 7 feet wide.  
After taking these photos I set to and finished digging the bed to the right of the photo.  Mean while, George was busy working to remove roots and hedging so that we can get to work on the site for the polytunnel.   More about that next week. 

We know how to have fun.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

A Little Sparrow Told Me... Rhubarb Cake

Ms Sparrow very kindly shared some lovely rhubarb recipes from her family cookbook.  I chose to make the rhubarb cake.
Our rhubarb patch survived a terrible trauma and has come out fighting...
this is how it looked ten days ago!  By yesterday there were enough sticks of rhubarb ripe and ready for me to make Ms Sparrow's  rhubarb cake (click for recipe).

Quick and easy to make,  the cake was moist and delicious.  Second slices were soon called for, by three adults, one little boy, and one Toby dog was going crazy, snuffling around for fallen crumbs.  Safe to say, it was a success!  George has just had the final slice tonight - and enjoyed it every bit as much as the first.

Next time I make it I think I will treat it as a pudding - I can hardly wait for the next batch of rhubarb to be ready.  Imagine this cake with a drizzle of single cream, or custard if I am being really indulgent!

A huge thank you to Ms Sparrow for that wonderful peek into your special family cookbook - and I hope you won't mind if I copy it into my family recipe book - along with a note about how it comes to be there.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Lambs in the Field and Crimes Against Wildlife

Lovely open bay building on a Claythorpe farm
This morning, as I was working in the vegetable garden (digging, as seems to be my lot this year!) I could hear the bleat of sheep and lambs.  Spring must have sprung, the sheep are lambing.
The old railway engine building, Claythorpe
The sound was definitely coming from the Claythorpe area, so I grabbed my camera and set off.    I walked past the likely fields in Claythorpe, but could only see one distant sheep with twins, too far away to photograph.
The beautiful old Railway Station building (now a home) at Claythorpe

Eventually I managed to find  them but couldn't get close as I didn't want to upset these brand new babies and their anxious mothers.
Give them a few days and they will soon be relaxed and skipping around, their mamas will be less protective and I may be able to get a little closer.
On the way home I saw these lovely geese and ducks on the Great Eau, I had seen, and heard, the geese fly over our vegetable garden an hour earlier.

It was a funny old day which started off with an early visit from a couple of Wildlife Crimes Officers as they asked for permission to have a look in our woodland.   It seems that someone who lives close by, and who has been in trouble before for dealing in wild birds, is being investigated again.  I won't go into too much detail,  but fair to say it infuriates me that people trap wild birds and then sell them on.

They had a look round and agreed with us that he hadn't been using our woodland this time, which was a relief.

The upside is that one of the officers takes a great interest in plants and has offered to identify my mystery plant for me.  He had a look at my photo and couldn't immediately name it, but he will get back to me.   I'll let you know when he does.
So, in some ways it was a lovely day - I love seeing the first lambs of the year.

My brother, Ian, has done his account of the happenings on The Owl Wood Blogspot.