Sorry to all those who adore August, but I am dancing a very happy jig as we are in the last sighs of this month. The nights are noticeably shorter with cool breezes being welcomed into the house as the evenings close in and the black cloak covers the green land.
This month has had me shouting out "Oh August why do you torture me?" Many days have seen my home in darkness. The blackout blinds shut out the hot sun and the garden door is shut to stop the hot air coming through the door like an overheating oven. Thank goodness I have a regular plan for this month.
During August (my least favourite month in case you hadn't guessed), I start my autumn jobs as my way of coping. From the first day of this month I start getting the house ready for the eagerly awaited cozy nights and the comforts of home. I always start with a job I don't particularly like doing but with the good weather, or shall we say, in between showers!, my washing machine goes into overdrive with cleaning curtains, throws, winter linens, cushions, door mats... you name it, it gets washed.
Wardrobes get looked into like staring in to see if there is actually a back, or maybe could things disappear into Narnia? Teenagers!
Why do I bother ironing - really, why?!
In the garden I start collecting herbs for ice cubes to be used in the autumn and winter comfort food.
The lavender is trimmed a little to dry and use in pot pourri for restful slumber on crisp evenings.
Job upon job is planned and ticked off as I go through the month. Then before I know it, September finally knocks on the door and I welcome her with open arms.
I have a couple of extra jobs this time around though with updating my trusty laptop with Windows 10. Yes, I am a fan with only one problem in that my touchpad does not work with the upgrade, but in positive mood, I have to say that I have been trying to disable this for a while as one touch and tiles and all sorts come up as I type. Now, I can touch it at my hearts content and nothing happens. My little wireless mouse is a lot quicker than the pad so things are not so cumbersome.
Then the other job was to upgrade my phone. iPhone 6 vs Samsung S6? I went on so many sites to work out what would be best and settled on the Samsung for its camera as, after all, that is what I really want a phone for!! Handy for when I don't want to carry the big one around (my back just will not survive).
And so, with the wheat gathered in and the golden sunsets covering the fields with a warm glow it's time to say goodbye to August and welcome September... I have MISSED you!!
Do you have months such as these when you start to list the jobs to get you through? I would love to hear how you plan yours.
Every evening when I come home from work, little Tia makes a fuss and then looks at her lead. Not to go on a quick walk around the village, oh no that would be so easy for me, instead she loves to get in the car, look out of the back window and wait for the dodging of the pot holes just off a road that leads onto the Brown Fen. Her lead comes off and she boldly walks down the track to say 'I'm here', 'I'm off lead', 'I'm safe and happy'. She walks ahead and stops occasionally to smell the air and to see how high the wheat has grown in a day.
The track is long but straight. Perfect for a deaf dog that will look back to make sure she is doing right.
As we walk, I think about what she is missing and how we take the sense of hearing for granted. The track we use starts with a fine gravel, then a courser gravel which is a little uncomfortable, then an easier grass pathway. The echoes of our footsteps change with each surface. Sometimes sounding like a group of people marching then the softer sound of grass brushing against legs the higher it grows (and nettles... ouch!). In the background a faint tinkle of a collar and tag telling us Tia is still with us.
Tia follows behind on the soles of our shoes, stopping occasionally to look over the bank or sniff at the ground. We go on ahead, turning occasionally to make sure she is safe, then her head looks up and she runs to us like an old lost friend.
How we would love her to hear the wind hissing through the wheat like a snake warning us of its presence.
The distant traffic up on the bank with its distant engine noise passing the colourful cottages (love, love, love the pink bus!).
The tall maze with its dark sunless roots reaching up for the best light, beckoning us to get lost amongst its stalks and tapping against each other. This can be a problem with a deaf dog so eyes are on her constantly here!
At the end of the straight walk, little Tia waits for us as she knows she now knows she needs to go on her lead. The reason? This beautiful sight is our reward...
The River Welland flows beneath us with no barrier, meaning dogs love to run down the walk, up the bank and splash straight in the river! Tia watches, but hasn't yet learned the habits of others, thank goodness as I don't fancy fishing her out of here! The wind turbines turn in the distance, the water laps against the bank and the sheep baa their way through the stillness of the day.
The river is still today and so calming. The silence of the water is comforting and we sit by the bank watching the wildlife, and Tia as she explores in her silent world.
As we sit in the grass planning a picnic in the future on this spot, we appreciate the little things around us such as the wildflowers looking as though they are shedding their fur, just like Tia!
And of course, I do love old wood, and seeing this piece against the bright blue of the river made me smile. What its purpose is, I have no idea, but it is beautiful in its own right.
This walk is a little further on from our sadly missed Coco's favourite walk and Tia has claimed this in her own right and where she feels safe and secure. She has even got used to the other dogs she sees each evening and meets them as a regular friend.
We pass the musical gate to go back down the walk. This gate looks so innocent but with the wind blowing, it performs its lonely forlorn little tune through the metal bars. So eerie but comforting.
In the distance the faint hum of harvest can be heard. Tia carries on walking, sniffing and watching things that catch her eye. We just smile at the hum knowing that the thunder flies (or as I have been saying 'thunder thighs' and getting some weird looks!) will soon be gone.
This sound on our walk gave me the most pleasure as this means that it will be safe to open our windows again without the horrid flies from the corn coming in through the windows and doors and then behind screens and picture frames. Awful things!
Of course, Mr Badger came with us too as our guest from Pom Pom's Ponderings. Bringing him down to earth after his trip to Downton Abbey!
A simple walk, with simple sounds. And when home, the sound of Tia's sweet snores as she cozies up to Mr Teen for cuddles and dreams of her adventures on her walks.
All together now... AWWWWW.
For those who haven't seen Tia before she is a rescue dog and we have been blessed with her for about two months now. If you would like to follow along with Tia's walks and little misadventures as she gets used to her new life, just go along and 'like' on her Facebook page which is in my sidebar or here for more 'awwww' photos!
Thank you so much for your comments on Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey) and on my post on the Walnut Cake. You are all so kind. I've noticed that there were quite a few 'No Reply Bloggers' which is a shame as I can't get back to you, so I will say thank you so much here.
Yes, it's back! The Great British Bake Off. That wonderful series of marquees, ovens and soggy bottoms! Time for me to put my pinny on and grab my rolling pin and spring bottomed sandwich tins.
In episode one there was one cake that stood out to me. Frosted Walnut Layer Cake (the recipe and instructions are here. I am rather partial to a large slab of coffee and walnut I have to say, so the concept of no coffee intrigued me along with the boiled icing?!! So, do you want to see me attempt one? It's been a while since I have done a cookery post, but I just keep thinking of the rewards (hopefully) at the end of this post!
With all ingredients set out, the science begins. Mixing the flour, butter, sugar, walnuts until deliciously creamy.
Then separated into three sandwich tins that had been carefully greased and then put into the oven to hopefully rise!
Meanwhile, it was time for the caramel for the caramelised walnuts. Now, here things went pear shaped! I tried twice to get this to work - it didn't - enough said!
So, we will gloss over that part and pretend it never happened! Instead, it was buttercream time. Now this went much better and the wonderful flavour of vanilla shone through.
The sponges are ready! Risen and a lovely golden brown (and no soggy bottoms!).
After cooling, it was time to assemble. First sponge and first dollop of buttercream...
Then the second...
And lastly the third...
Looking good so far! Now for the boiled icing... nervous as this was my first attempt.
I thought it was too wet and would not work well when coming to ice the cake, but I was really surprised at how strong this stuff is!
There we go, not a soggy bottom in sight and delicious. I don't think this will be hanging around for long.
I wonder what will 'float my boat' in the next episode!
The cake is very sweet! Be warned, so a lovely strong cup of tea is needed to accompany this.