08 November 2015

Nasturtium Joy

English garden does not offer much joy in autumn, it is dark, wet and cold. However, one thing that makes me really happy on a daily basis are my nasturtium plants. Even now, in November, they are flowering and producing seeds. I am collecting them as they fall off the plant and letting them dry to make sure that we can grow some nasturtiums next year as well. It is the first time I have grown Nasturtium, but oh, what joy!

07 November 2015

Meeting Tortoises

African spurred tortoises walking around in their little pen are definitely not a typical sight in England in middle of October, but in a reptile centre near National trust property Clandon Park it can very well be.

I could spend ages just looking at them. In fact lately I have been thinking about changing my career slightly and just be a tortoise shepherd somewhere in Galapagos, but this desire is slightly hindered by the fact that I speak absolutely no Spanish. Still, tortoises are one of the most amazing creatures on this Earth.

19 October 2015

Beginnings of Autumn

The last couple of weeks have been so full of work that I have barely had the time to appreciate this wonderful season of autumn that has come upon us. Morning chills and mists, scarves and warm coats, waking up in the dark and reading on the bus to work in an early morning twilight.

Some days are grim, yes, and I am busy, yes, but there is always a little bit of time to appreciate the little things in life that make me comfy and happy. The nice woolly jumper that I wear in the evenings to keep me warm, the soft lighting in our bathroom, going out to have late breakfast on Saturday mornings and sipping a flavoured latte whilst discussing the events of the previous and following week or just sitting in front of the computer screen reading other people’s blog posts whilst stuffing my face with boršč soup and nice dense bread.

We had some friends visiting earlier this month and even though it was incredibly hard to fit everything into our busy schedules, I am incredibly happy for those couple of days that showed me that friendships can still thrive even when you're hundreds of miles away from people.

24 September 2015

A Sad Weekend for One Sick Pigeon

I was repotting my succulents on Saturday afternoon when I noticed a single woodpigeon sitting on a paved area near the house. It just sat there, looking unscared, blinking occasionally.Immediately, I saw an opportunity to take a good woodpigeon picture and ran for my camera. But something was wrong.

 The pigeon did not move, not even when I came really close to it. Its head was tilted to the back, as if in a cramp. I intentionally stumped my feet to scare it and that's when I definitely knew something is very very wrong. The pigeon tried to fly, but it flopped backwards, flapping around in circles, looking utterly terrified, showering the floor around it with little feathers.

I saw this at the zoo while I worked there, lots of the domestic pigeons suddenly started behaving weirdly due to a virus and had to be out down. So I phoned Wildlife Aid and asked them what to do. Based on their instructions, I put on gloves, transferred pigeon into a box and off we went to a wildlife hospital in Leatherhead. I have not held a pigeon in my hands for twenty years, snce I was seven and visiting my great grandfather in Czech republic who kept domestic pigeons. I remember the little pigeon babies trying to peck at us from the nests when we tried to pet them.

The hospital took it in and gave me its diary number so that I can call to check on how it's doing. Unfortunately, when I checked on it on Sunday, I was told it had to be put down.
I am not too sad though, as the disease was most likely pigeon paramyxovirus, which is highly infectious among pigeons and can lead to slow death by starvation. It does not harm humans but I feel better without sick animals around our home. Hopefully this means that other pigeons in our garden will be safe. Even though we complain about them eating out our birdfeeder and leaving poop around, I do not want to see them ill. 
And I know that this might be going a bit too far, but I think that maybe this bird came so close to our house because it knew that we could help it out of its misery.

Radish Seed Pods

Radishes this year, apart from a couple of first good ones, have been a complete failure.I planted them in several different places and the only ones that actually grew nice red radishes were in a rubbish sandy soil in a very small container on the terrace. Others, including ones in the shady spot in free soil and in a nice sunny spot in a big container full of rich compost, turned thin and woody, basically like a bit thicker stems and not radishes at all.

So I let them be, since the snails quite enjoy eating their leaves, I saved them as a fresh food source for my pets. They went into flower and then produced juicy-looking seed pods, which, according to Alys Fowler, are edible!

So I tried one and I was pleased to discover that they have a really nice gently radishy taste, but not as spicy as radishes. I actually prefer the pods.

I added them to salads that I made for my lunch and we made one delicious stir-fry with them as well.


A little article about radish seed pods from Mother Earth News here

Garden Betty's blog post about pickling radish seed pods with beautiful photographs here

22 September 2015

Potato Harvest

I haven't been to the garden for two weeks. The new job has really sucked out all of my energy, but on Saturday I wandered out and saw that all of the King Edward potatoes have died down and I knew it was time to dig them up.

I ws very pleasantly surprised. I finally felt like a proper gardener.

The harvest was really plentiful, there is enough for at least three family dinners. It might not sound much, but it is more than I anticipated after last year's failure.

Always must take a feet selfie!
This year's largest.
This year's smallest.
This year's weirdest. 
All of the harvesting and photographing happened under supervision of Birdybird, now fully grown and with adult feathers.

21 September 2015

Coming Home and Happy Snails

One of the worst things about travelling for me (other than all the waiting at railway stations and bus stops and airports and the stress related to it) is leaving my animals and plants in other people's hands. Luckily, snails do not need that much care and can withstnd some pretty long periods without food or moisture, but I am still happy to come back home and see that they are well. Hence one of the first things that I did was  run to the garden and get
them some nice and juicy dandelion leaves.
Happy snails, happy me.

20 September 2015

Holiday by the Sea

September is here and nearly over and now comes the time to reminisce about the sunny summer days by the sea. This year we once again visited Combe Martin, my fiance's  family's favourite holiday spot since before he was born.

Combe Martin has a special meaning to us all. I have only been there twice, but I will never forget it as a place where we got engaged. It has two beaches and is full of wonderful views. I know one day I will want to bring my children there.

The rocky coast has given me a lot of opportunities for beachcombing. I found a lot of stuff and came home with a lovely little collection of crab exoskeletons, mostly carapaces. Limpets, anemones and periwinkles were everywhere. I was mostly on a lookout for cuttlefish bones for my snails, which were so abundant last year, but I only managed to find a single little broken piece during the whole week. I also happened to de-tangle about twenty metres of fishing line with a hook on end from seaweeed. I had to pry it from underneath two limpets who decided to camp on it for the day, but I felt good about doing my bit of beach cleaning.

One thing I really love bout holidays is the food. No thinking about what is healthy or feeling bad about eating out too much, it is a holiday, so let's enjoy it. On the evenings that we cooked and ate in, we all ate together and had a great time. My little obsession at the time were steak and ale pies, but we also ate a lot of scampi and chips, cakes, cream teas and we even tried an 'animal bread' from a local bakery.

A lot of our time was spent by collectively looking after my niece. Everything was played with. Even an empty box from green tea was turned into a ery cruel gecko storing unit (I am still looking for the person who did it.)

There was a lot of craftiness, too! On a trip to Ilfracombe, we discovered a tiny fabric shop. As soon as we saw it, we knew we HAD TO go in. It was called 'Two Green Monkeys' and was full of most beautiful fabric. Lucky for us, there were massive discounts, unlucky for everyone, it was in its last week. The owner continues to sell handmade bunting and quilts, but no more fabric. I feel lucky that I could buy some of it before she closed.

Another crafty shop was Knit Moor right in the Combe Martin town centre. I treated myself to horrendous amount of yarn and some very cute stitch markers (now finally will the octohug arms be evenly spread around the body!)

We also went for ice-cream every day after dinner, played board games and tried surfing for the first time (neither of us managed to stand up on the board, but I was happy with half kneeling, half standing before falling off).

How was your holiday? Did you have a good time?

31 August 2015

Farmers Market in Prague

After a week of being comfortably at home with my parents, visiting family and our cottage and so on, we went on to Czech Republic to spend a couple of days in Prague, the town where I spent the last seven years of my life.
The first thing we did the moment we got off the train was to deposit our bags in the hotel's baggage room and went oto the river to see one of the early morning farmers markets on the riverbank.

The atmosphere of these markets is incredible. The early morning people shopping for their weekend fruit and veg and the odd-bit hunters looking for interesting things at the flea markets plus all the casual strollers having their favourite cups of coffee, tasting various cakes and browsing through the handmade products from around the country whilst walking their dogs and children.

Ther ewas even a little flea market on an old boat.

Handmade baskets and pottery with the river in the background looked idyllic.

And with so much good food, there were always swans, pigeons and ducks to clean up the leftovers and beg for bits.

Summer in Prague is just amazing and there are farmers markets all the time. I could just stay there and have homemade cakes and good cappuccinos and lattes for breakfast every single day.

29 August 2015

Visiting Jasovska jaskyna (Jasov Cave)

The cave is considered a national natural monument.
In 1995 it also became one of the sites of the world heritage.

The cave is located in the eastern part of Slovakia, not far from my hometown. It is a great system of many caverns on various different levels, which was made by now quite tiny river Bodva. Not all of the cave is accessible to the public, but the parts that are are definitely worth it. There are stalactites, stalagmites, stalagnates and a lot of other rock shapes, colonies of various species of bats and a couple of archaeological and historical relics.

The permission to take photographs costs more than a single person entry fee, so I gave that up, but there are lots of interesting photographs online (here)

Of course, there are rules when visiting caves.

The entrance to the cave is in the building
in the foyer of which there are maps and interesting
posters as well as some specimens from the cave.
Even though I did not take any photos inside
the cave, the forrest aroud the exit was interesting
enough. The top picture shows the area around
the old exit of the cave. It is currently barred up
and you cannot see into the cave at all, but what
you can do is come close to the gate and listen to
the colony of bats on the ceiling inside.

28 August 2015

Chilling in Košice

Another summer holiday is nearly over, but before I go and fuly throw myself into the perils of a teacher's life, I would love to recap the summer in a couple of blog posts. 
My first stop this summer was my Slovakian hometown Košice.

The theatre and the singing fountain - during the day and at night.

The good food. From top left: traditional halušky, Gran's stuffed chicken with rice, Gran's soup with meaty dumplings and homemade noodles, Grandma's pork with cabbage and potato dumplings. Yum!

Urban's tower in the centre of Košice.

The little cafe in the lane of crafts.

St Elizabeth's Cathedral at night. A little shame about the scaffolding, but that only means they are making it nicer ;-)

It was two lovely weeks of seeing friends, visiting family, eating out or endulging in my Mum's and Grandma's cooking, admiring the cathedral, theatre and singing fountain in the town centre and overall (mostly) having a good time.

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