Wednesday, 28 July 2010

High Summer

The full moon in July

We may not get the temperatures many of you get but we get Weather! And dramatic skyscapes, both day and night, even in high summer. As the saying goes: ‘if you are fed up with the weather in England just wait five minutes’.

A typical summer sky
with just the hint of a slight thickening in the cloud.

The view from my window is changing daily. Farmers are using every minute of daylight for haymaking and fresh fields are turning from bright green to  light tan, with every shade from palest straw to rich cream in between. The sound of tractors crisscrossing fields and hillsides is everywhere, and long even tramlines of hay appear, are left to dry and scooped, rolled and wrapped up in a white, filmy bandage or a horrible, shiny black plastic skin as soon as possible. The threat of rain is ever present and getting the hay in while it is dry is no easy task. Damp hay rots easily and becomes a stinky, mouldy mess, that no beast will touch.

Hayfields after mowing

Whole herds of cattle are still in the fields together, the bull keeping a watchful eye on his family, cows grazing contentedly. The calves will son be removed from their mothers, which means that these will call for days for their offspring, a mournful sound, getting more and more desperate, until, finally, they give up. I know that this is where my roast beef comes from and why I can have milk in my coffee, but I still find these sounds heartbreaking. 

Curious calves
peeking at me from across the river

The thistles are in flower in July, providing a welcome harvest of nectar for bees. There are ever fewer bees around and I am very glad to see that thistles in the hedgerows and some garden plants, like buddleias still attract a good number around here. Every bee that loses its way and gets into the house or conservatory is carefully gathered up by means of a gentle shove into a clear plastic cup and safely deposited on a flower outside.

 Bumblebee on a thistle

Berries are harvested in July. We have almost finished picking red- and blackcurrants, raspberries, worcesterberies and gooseberries. All end up in the freezer for now. Freezers are a boon to me, In the olden days women had to deal with the glut of vegetables, fruit and berries instantly; now we can freeze most of them and either preserve them whole and unprocessed or turn them into jams and jellies, chutneys and pickles at our leisure. Beloved is only now turning last year’s berries into home made ‘wine’, which is splendid for cooking, being very fruity.

Gooseberries waiting to be frozwn

All photos can be enlarged.


  1. Hey, that's a Canadian expression - in fact it's a WESTERN Canadian expression!! Now that I think of it, it might even be an original to Calgary. Yup, that's it. But you can borrow it for your weather.

    I would have my head buried under many pillows if those cows were in my back yard - I can hardly stand it when the Noa-dog howls for his master. All the heartbreak in the world is in that sound.

    Lovely looking gooseberries, so neatly plump and awaiting their fate. Send me some jam, woman!

  2. On Friday night I was camping in Essex - the ground was so hard and dry, the grass just dust, they have had so little rain this year!

    On Sunday I was at a party in Kent and I got stung by a bee - my first ever bee sting and I wasn't even aware the bee had landed on me until it stung me, so it wasn't me provoking it. I always think its a shame when they sting, because they die soon afterwards and really I wasn't going to attack it!

  3. What a lovely post. Your photos are beautiful. In many ways your photos and words could be describing the area of NZ that I grew up but I have never heard of worcester berries, they sound intriguing.

  4. What a wide assortment of berries you can preserve. I am jealous. We got strawberries this year but a pack of raccoons raided the raspberry bushes and broke all the new branches. They did the same for the blueberries. Next year, maybe.

  5. Our world is such a beautiful place. Thanks for sharing your corner of it with me.

  6. Thanks for a glimpse of the English countryside. Lovely photos! It sounds like a busy time with all the berries you have to pick.

  7. Your post just reinforces everything I've learned about England from those infallible resources, Rosamund Pilcher and Barbara Pym. I just knew it was all true!

  8. Thank you for sharing your country side with us by way of your lovely words and pictures. Enjoy the fruits of your labour!

  9. Dear Friko: Gooseberries are in the colder regions of Northern Ontario. I happened upon them going across to Manitoulin Island area. They had gooseberry jam featured everywhere. I had never known such a thing so I bought some. I dont think they are as sweet or as tasty as a blueberry but they made a lovely jam. Do you add anything to them? When the cows come home. The sky so idealic. That's where LOTR was filmed? Lush, green paradise. The moon picture is awesome; capturing this essence of this summer! Happy Midsummer or High Summer everyone!

  10. Oh the lazy days of summer. I don't know why they call them lazy what with all the harvesting. I've never eaten gooseberries and never even heard of worcesterberries.

  11. You've written a beautiful picture of England. I can just see the diligent farmers and the varying colours of fields.
    And I agree, isn't it wonderful to have deep freezers? Mine is filling up with the same sort of goodness as yours.

  12. When we took a holiday cottage on Bodmin Moor a few weeks ago, the farmer was still making hay, in the field behind us, at 23.00. He had been up since 03.30. A long, long day. Hats off to the farmers!

  13. Glorious photos, particularly the moon and the gooseberries. I share your response to the desperation of cows separated from their calves although, like you, it doesn't stop me eating beef.

  14. Ah no! The weather quote originated in Wisconsin, USA!! :o) Actually, isn't it wonderful we can all relate...and we are surrounded by farm fields too - haying is done for now but the tall corn is going to keep everyone busy soon.
    What are worcesterberries??? Similar to...???
    Your gooseberries are gorgeous. Thank you for sharing such lovely images.

  15. Oh marvelous England!

    Aloha from Waikiki

    Comfort Spiral

  16. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful walk through your England. Your skies are fabulous! I grew up in the Midwest of the United States and now am located in the edge of the high desert in Southern California. I know our area gets some of these wonderful skyscapes also, however, it is much less often than when I was in a more changing climate. I have really grown to appreciate so many of these things that I took for granted as a child and long to again be near them.

    Even the green fields of hay! Here we seem to have about 2-4 weeks of green hills in the spring before they turn brown simply from the dry weather. The longer I am here, the more desolate of an area it seems to me.

  17. Wonderful pictures, especially the one of the moon! A lot is familiar -- but we have no gooseberries.

  18. Wow.. that's a lot of berries. I have never had gooseberries.. I trust they're yummy. Thanks for sharing your lovely summer day.

  19. Pictures of late summer - lovely. gooseberries look delicious. I planted two little bushes last year but unfortunately one succumbed to an errant strimmer and the other produced about 5 gooseberries!

  20. Thank you all for coming along to enjoy an English summer's day.
    I definitely lay claim to the saying being English, although, being kind-hearted and generous, I'll let some of you have the loan of it.

    Shropshire Hills is a gentle and peaceful area far from the madding crowds. Gooseberries are plentiful, the climate is just right.
    Worcesterberries are a cross between various berries, mainly gooseberries and blackcurrants. There are many different kind of such fruits, all sorts of crosses.
    Pondsode, Pilcher and Pym are somewhat outdated. But I know you're making fun.


Comments are good, I like to know what you think of my posts. I know you'll keep it civil.