Friday, September 12, 2014

London Fashion Week… for Chickens

Hello, I’m Peggy MBE *

To coincide with London Fashion Week I’m proud to unveil my latest plumage. When I arrived at Mary’s coop some weeks ago I’ll admit that after a year of barn life with no direct sunlight I was due for a bit of a makeover.

Hulanicki, (who's a bit of a diva), was only too eager to rise to the challenge of giving me a few styling tips. She's quite a stunner. Passionate about the black and white Op art of the sixties, she can carry off shockingly bold designs with her slim figure and catwalk swagger. 

For me, fortunately, she toned things down a bit. I’m at that stage in life where a 'tunic to cover the tummy' is so much more flattering. Call it real fashion, for real fowl.

So, tah dah... I hope you like my textured layers, topped off with cheeky dip-dyed tail feathers! 

…job well done!

* I am named in memory of a dear friend. Peggy had been awarded an MBE for a lifetime of fundraising for sick children. 
Mine too is for services to the community... an egg a day for as long as I can remember.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

I Love Allotments

Earlier this summer I jumped at the invitation to visit a friend’s community allotment open day.
The sunny slope was like an intricate patchwork quilt. 
Colourful annuals were embroidered between rows of neatly weeded leeks.

Lolling cardoons danced around a chic scarecrow-ess, while abandoned courgettes, with their heavily swollen bellies, eyed the vigour of neighbouring climbing beans.

There were favourite nooks for private thoughts,

blue water butts hugging precious rainfall,

 lots of little sheds full of treasured garden tools,

and contentment written on absolutely everyone’s face!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


How did we so quickly tumble into September? 

Carrots, sweetcorn, lettuce, beans, courgette, cucumber and plums, the succulent currency of August, 
has been exchanged for Autumn’s apples and blackberries. 

 The drone of heavy farm machinery competes with approaching thunderclouds as summer is rolled swiftly away. 

Rural idyll? 

Two buzzards were calling to each other last night; an extraordinary experience and an extraordinary sound, but every thirty-five seconds for two hours?  As I lay awake, I was wondering how I could most accurately describe the hullabaloo they were making. Imagine a terrier chewing on a squeaky toy and you’re somewhere close. 

Sweet dreams!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Bin Day

“Happiness is a by-product of absorption”. T E Lawrence

I’ve just been messing around with some ghastly plastic tubs from the recycling bin
 and a few wooden slats from a rotting garden chair. 

I have been very absorbed...

...and my carrots are delighted with their Victoriana makeover.

Who’d have thought so much happiness was lingering in the bin!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The lucky damsons, that escaped the sticky spoons of jam making, found a snug home in a charity shop teacup.

Monday, August 11, 2014

My New Best Friend

There is one thing that really, really irks me about jam making... apart from standing over a spitting cauldron in the middle of August, with cobwebs in my hair because I’ve just been searching for empty jam jars (and matching lids!!) in the outhouse... 

Yes, it’s that irritating rectangle of glue left smirking at me from the side of the jar once I’ve soaked the old label off. Am I alone?

Well, now I’m the one smiling. Meet my knight in shining armour, my solvent in a gleaming tin, who goes by the name of WD-40 and not only dissolves adhesive in a trice but also promises to ‘stop squeaks, drive out moisture, clean and protect, loosen rusted parts and free sticky mechanisms’. What a thoroughly decent gentleman!
P.S. Just in case our relationship doesn’t last, I've decided to make my labels out of gumstrip which will soak off easily next time around!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Change of Address

Hello, it's Hulanicki, guest blogging again, but oh my goodness me, where do I start? 

For the past month I’ve been a refugee in my own garden, shunted from camp to camp at the dead of night and waking up at dawn, holed up in another less than desirable accommodation.

It started around the time Mary set up a blind date for the cockerel. We all got up one morning to find the new girlfriend presumptuously making herself at home in the coop. To be honest she looked rather drab, (I thought Mary was more discerning), plain brown feathers all out of alignment, a pale face and a limp comb. I could see she’d got potential but I’d definitely have to give her some styling tips.

However, once we got chatting over breakfast and she’d explained her grim lineage I really began to warm to her. Her entire life, to date, had been spent shut in a barn with hundreds of other hens popping out eggs regular as clockwork. 
At one year old she’d been spared the impending journey to the dog meat factory because Mary offered to give her a home. She’d been singled out as the best looking bird in the flock; most of her friends had barely any feathers left at all! 
Well, of course I felt dreadful now, to think I’d called her drab!

For the next few days I really enjoyed hanging out with my new friend and showing her all my favourite nooks in the garden. Johns Junior the cockerel was pretty chuffed too. So, happy families. Until, horror of horrors, a greedy mean-eyed fox slinks up on us one fine afternoon and with a snap of his jaws snatches Johns Junior from under our beaks. Panic, where to go, what to do. In the time it took the rest of us to leg it back to the coop there were two more casualities.

So, that was the start of our incarceration. Mary didn’t dare let us out at all now. After a few days I was beginning to understand what my new brown friend had been through. I suppose in hindsight it’s given us a real bond. 

A few days later we suffered the indignity of being shoved into the catbox and transferred to the empty dog kennel. Mary thought we’d appreciate the small concrete run. Well, ahem, I’m not a dog! 

She must have heard me complaining because knock me down with a feather, a week later, she’s fenced (watch out it gives you a nasty jolt if you touch it) off a lovely big patch of grass between the house and her studio. There’s daisies twinkling in the sunshine, some lovely long swishy grass full of bugs and beasties and some dappled shade under a ginko tree. It’s heaven! I don’t even mind that we’re in temporary
accommodation... the rabbit hutch is quite cosy for four.

Mary says she’s going to move our coop down from the orchard eventually but it’s very heavy and she needs some help and anyway at the moment she’s too busy looking after her husband who’s just had a new knee fitted, or something. I don't know, men and their gadgets!

Hmmm, I suppose that’ll move us right down the pecking order for a bit!