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  • Nights are drawing in

    Nights are drawing in

    Finished work, as usual, at 5.30-ish and thought: it’s still sunny and dry – I’ve got time to take the dog for a proper walk, rather than round the village circuit on a lead.  So it’s up to the bridle-way in the car and along the track.  The dog is ecstatic. The shorter days are already impacting on her fun and she’s thrilled to be on her favourite route. We meet another dog walker –... Continue reading

  • An autumn Saturday: jumbles and bonfires

    An autumn Saturday: jumbles and bonfires

    Rutland’s first frost of the autumn followed by a day of clear blue skies and sunshine.  A perfect day.  I helped at one of our twice-a-year jumble sales this afternoon, a fund-raising activity that has all but died out, according to the faithful who actually queue up from 1.30 for a 2pm kick-off. Our customers don’t come from our own village but from larger villages nearby and the towns – even from Corby.  It’s a... Continue reading

  • The great wall of Rutland

    The great wall of Rutland

    Now decades of ivy has been cut carefully off the wall and piled high in the front garden, ready for several bonfires, I can see the damage to the wall.  And in fact, the ivy is only the half of it. In one place, the wall has developed curvature of the spine, curling over at the top so that it’s about 12 inches off vertical.  It leans so badly that individual stones are being squeezed... Continue reading

  • Never plant an ivy

    Never plant an ivy

    The old stone wall that forms the boundary between my 18th century cottage and next door runs, with a couple of kinks in it, for about 50 yards from the road at the front to the field at the back. It’s between 6 feet and 9 feet high and provides both houses with privacy. It was swamped in ivy which I’m just getting around to dealing with.  I wrote, care of the letting agency, to... Continue reading

  • Bottling my fruit liqueurs

    This year the hedgerow harvest has passed me by: don’t know how, but it seems to me that the dry spring inhibited Rutland’s sloes and blackberries, which usually hang in profusion in every field and really slow down my dog walking activities. So, no new sloe gin or anything this year. Instead, yesterday I carried out my final filtering of last year’s fruit liqueurs, and put the end result into vintage-style stoppered glass bottles, which... Continue reading

  • A million pheasants

    A million pheasants

    Rutland is knee deep in pheasants, and partridges.  They’re not very bright birds.  I can’t drive to Oakham via the back lanes without weaving around small flocks wandering across the road.  The dog can’t snuffle along a hedgerow without flushing out five, 10 or 20 partridge in a panic. And a favourite field is  now off limits because it’s full of kale, being grown solely for winter cover for game birds, and the gamekeeper’s warned... Continue reading

  • Rutland rush hour hazards

    My city friends will love this. Late for work this morning because, as I returned in the car from walking the dog (a stroll around the village being too tame) I found a small crowd at my garden gate, and six sheep (tups) penned inside the garden. Now, this isn’t as disastrous as it sounds, since the ‘garden’ is a pile of weed-strewn rubble after the cottage renovation – and this is exactly why, when... Continue reading

  • My Rutland Renovation: switches and sockets

    My Rutland Renovation: switches and sockets

    One of my biggest indulgences in renovating the cottage was to splash out on new light switches and sockets throughout, as well as new lights. I do not see the point of putting in a beautiful slate floor, an Arts & Crafts fireplace, replacement cottage-style windows and all the rest, only to spoil the overall effect by keeping white plastic light switches: they’re always at eye level, by the door, where everyone can see them.... Continue reading

  • Red Kites over Rutland

    Red Kites over Rutland

    A pair of red kites is nesting in a tree in a quiet corner on the edge of my village. There has been quite a lot of coverage lately about the way that these beautiful birds have multiplied with a lot of help from various conservation bodies. The local paper, the Rutland Mercury, carried some features and letters about the extent to which they may, or may not, prey on song birds. Personally, I doubt... Continue reading

  • My Rutland Renovation: buried treasure

    Beneath the quarry tiles in the living room, and under the york stone flags in the kitchen, a quantity of broken china and glass, thoughtfully put on one side for me by my lovely builder, is a window on previous occupants. The bits and pieces include the stems of several clay pipes and one broken pipe bowl…  several bits of ‘blue and white’ china with Victorian transfer printed scenes – very Willow Pattern.  There are... Continue reading