J > Clun Forest isn’t actually a forest at all! Before we moved to Uist we lived a little to the north of the Clun Forest. It was always high up on our favourite areas to go exploring, whether summer or winter, for coffee and cake or a striding out along Offa’s Dyke or the rolling hills of traditional small-scale pasture and woods that make this border country so wonderful. These days, the sheep to be found grazing on the hills of the Clun Forest are various : Llanwenog ; Hill Radnor ; Welsh White Mountain ; Beulah Speckle-faced ; Welsh Hill Speckle-faced ; Brecknock Hill Cheviot ; Kerry Hill ; and
Recently, I’ve found I’ve got more time for home baking. No prizes for guessing the reason!
I bake quiches fairly often, but now I’ve time to make quiches more often, and consequently I’ll rely less on something from the co-op. This tuna and rosemary quiche is made with herbs, eggs, onion and potato from our garden.
It’s rare that I bake scones. I never buy anything like that. When I make them, they are usually savoury scones – with cheese and parsley, for example. But these are the sort of scones that both J and I remember our mothers baking : lightly sweetened, and with currants or raisins.
Isn’t the smell of home baking wonderful. It stirs the soul, makes us remember our childhood, and fills the house with joy!
But no scones for us until we’ve done some work and earned a tea break. So, it’s outside into the garden, where there’s pruning to do yet (mostly J), and preparing the soil (which at last is drying in the warm sun and light breeze) for sowing and planting (mostly me).
Onions and shallots will soon be in the ground, putting down roots and pushing up their tender green ‘monocot’ leaves.
In the same family, but permanently planted, both chives and garlic chives have a little fresh growth to cut : the scent of these in cooking is profoundly satisfying.
D > Q: Compost – or Mulch? A : It depends! We compost heavily before planting new trees, fruit bushes, rhubarb. Each winter or early spring after the first year, we top up with mixed mulch made from shredding prunings and other tougher garden waste. The main use of compost, however, is for digging into areas to be planted with potatoes.
We recently had the opportunity to acquire a large number of books published by the Everyman’s Library, and included in The Millennium Library. Thanks to the Coronavirus, both J and I are in need of reading material and at the least expense possible.
J & D > We’re falling back on our own resources, as the coronavirus crisis bears down on us. Thank heavens, that we own our own house outright, we’re without mortgage or other debt, and have good fertile garden soil and all the other the resources we need to grow much of our own food, and to live healthily and well!
Until even a few days ago, we would never – we could never ! – have believed that anything like this could happen – other than in a Holywood disaster movie! Yesterday, the Scottish Government announced that ferries to the Outer Hebrides will, until further notice, be limited to carrying only persons who are permanent residents of the islands, or key service workers !
D > Through the winter I worked on the design and first examples of a few new products, and amongst those are these totes and bags. There are two types shown here : crochet bags (in three sizes) in our own Cheviot wool naturally dyed with plant-extracts ; and, in vertical stripes , woven tote bags in Harris Tweed woollen twill, fully lined with a sturdy cotton fabric.
J > We have a new building under construction on our croft, across the sea in Eriskay. It’s very close to the shore : in fact it’s less than ten metres back from the high tide line, and no more than three metres or so above it.
Here’s a handful of skeins I finished recently. The red and yellow strands are made with fine merino ; the black is natural Shetland ; but it’s the grey that’s interesting. Each of the two strands is variegated, with two shades of naturally brown-grey Blue-Faced Leicester, along with Soya fibre.
The Hebridean Woolshed : new designs of yarn by Jonathan
Soya fibre is fine and whispy, lustrous and velvet-smooth, and creamy in colour. Not unlike silk!