Today was a great day.
An ordinary domestic weekend kind of a day, but blessed with great weather and no engagements for any of us.
A chance for me to catch up on many of the long neglected house and garden chores, and for our family to enjoy some chilled-out time around the house.
We’ve been burning more wood on the fire recently and the chimney was overdue a sweep. So I blocked up the fireplace with a bin bag and some foam, then climbed on the roof and swept down from the chimney pot. It was my first time sweeping a chimney and this method made it very simple. I just left the fireplace sealed up for a few hours for the dust to settle before opening it up and shovelling out the shoot along with the old ash.
My wife had seen a recipe for “Hedgerow Jelly” by Elisabeth Luard in a magazine, so she, and our two daughters, walked out down the local lanes to find the ingredients: 1kg crab apples or Bramleys; 250g blackberries, 250g sloes or bullaces or damsons, 250g rowan berries or elderberries, 125g hawthorn berries (haws), 125g rosehips (wild or cultivated), plus about 2 litres of water and about 2kg of granulated sugar.
(Our eldest daughter decided to take photographs of the process, which ultimately led to this blog post — I normally rarely post about home life.)
Meanwhile, after clearing gutters and sweeping the drive, I was working down by the lake front thinning out some trees. A few months ago we had a group of big old trees one corner of our garden cut down. Mostly pine with some silver birch and hazel. (You can see in the photo the large pile of wood I still need to chop, chop, chop.) That gave us a view of the lake again. Something we’d lost over the years since we moved in as the trees have grown up and bushed out.
Having got that narrow view of the lake I wanted to extend it through the trees to the right by thinning out their lower branches.
The summer weather in Ireland has been pretty poor the last few years. We seem to get a few lovely weeks in spring, then summer is a mostly washout with grey skies and regular showers. Then, just after the kids go back to school, we get a few bright weeks again—the Irish “Indian Summer”—around September/October. Fabulous days like today.
There’s a reason Ireland is so green. It rains. A lot. Especially in the west were we are. Despite the bright sunshine today the grass was squelching under my feet. The logs need to be stored or they’ll rot over the winter. I shifted a few wheelbarrow loads today and started clearing a space off the grass to store them.
A friend and I wielded axes a few weeks ago so we’ve a reasonable stockpile of split logs now, which I finished stacking today. I’ve been told the wood gets harder to split the longer its left, and I don’t fancy trying to split logs on dark wet winter nights, so I guess I need to keep at it.
Back indoors the domesticity continued with our eldest daughter making the topping for an Apple Crumble.
Our eating apple tree is still recovering from the pruning I gave it last winter (it’s first for many years) but our cooking apple tree seems very happy this year.
That was the glossy edited version of the day. The uncut version includes me falling off the ladder into the lake, our youngest daughter having a tantrum and throwing handfuls of apple crumble onto the floor, and me pouring scalding hot Hedgerow Jelly over my hand. Ahh, domestic bliss!