It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas……….

Well, it certainly is beginning to feel like it should be Christmas, soon!

The Fieldfares have arrived – always a sure sign that the colder weather is on the way. They have been loving the winter berries and seem to suddenly darken the sky as they fly in great numbers from tree to tree.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
Some of the Fieldfares that stayed still long enough to be photographed

The lights are up and twinkling in the nearby Market Town of Diss and also Norwich, our County Town; Carols were being played during the St Nicholas Christmas Fair staged by the various crafters in the Diss Heritage Triangle last weekend and Gillian has been busy making a Wreath for our front door.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
Gillian makes a Wreath for the Front Door every year

The hens are not enjoying the cold wind so much – we have been down to just 2 eggs per day, recently – but Bertie the Black Cat who adopted us just over a year ago, choosing to live in a basket just outside our back door (we’ve tried inviting him in, but he prefers the outside), really appreciates the Pet’s Pad we heat for him each night in the microwave.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA
Bertie the Black Cat

We wish a Very Merry Christmas to all our guests and also to those whom we will be welcoming to Inglewood House in the coming year.

Bertie the Black Cat

Bertie the, once very timid, black feral cat who adopted us last November has, over the intervening months, become very human-tolerating and has taken to following us around the garden with a “what you doin’?” type expression on his face.

Bertie in a box
Bertie in a box

He also loves sitting any box he can find,

Bertie in a smaller box
Bertie in a smaller box

so it was little surprise to find him guarding the up-turned brassica cage this afternoon!

Bertie in the brassica cage
Bertie in the brassica cage

Open Gardens Weekend – 2nd & 3rd June 2018

We were delighted to be invited, once again, to take part in the Bressingham & Fersfield Open Gardens Weekend – Blooming Bressingham & Fragrant Fersfield on 2nd & 3rd June.

It was held a little earlier than before this year which, as Spring had been delayed by the ‘Beast from the East’, presented a few challenges but, all in all, we were very happy with how the weekend went. The rain forecast for the Friday afternoon decided to linger, on and off, throughout Saturday but what a change Sunday was! We were basking in temperatures well above the expected average for early June and felt very fortunate to have a Garden House in which to ‘picnic’ in-between welcoming a steady stream of people to the Garden. Huddling in there on the Saturday we began to ask ourselves whether we would really be out there, in that sort of weather, had the Open Gardens not been happening! Nevertheless a fair few hardy souls still came and were determined to enjoy the garden, despite wearing anoraks and holding umbrellas over their heads.

Perennial Border
Perennial Border

Gillian’s planted Log Wall was much admired as was the Fernery/Stumpery, which has really ‘taken off’ since the last Open Day – the ferns have obviously liked the combination of cold then hot weather interspersed by downpours. Unfortunately, the Lupins rather disliked the heavy rain and some judicious pruning of ‘heavy heads’ had to take place each morning.

Gillian's Log Wall
Gillian’s Log Wall
The Fernery
The Fernery

The Damsel Flies and Broad Bodied Chasers, of various colours, performed their aerial acrobatics and mating dances over the heads of the Frogs as they cooled themselves in the Pond (but proved impossible to photograph!) and one little girl was absolutely fascinated by her ability to control the height of the fountain the Japanese Garden by how much shadow she cast over its solar panel.

The Pond and Lupins
The Pond and Lupins

We didn’t win the Best Wheelbarrow competition, but Gillian was justly proud of her ‘Moss Maid’ which she was inspired to create on our recent visit to The Lost Gardens of Heligan.

WIlney Green Moss Maid
WIlney Green Moss Maid

The winner will be announced on the Village’s Website, where there will also be, in due course, some official photos of all the participating Gardens: www.bressinghamandfersfield.org

Snow!

After a few feeble attempts earlier this winter, the winter finally arrived on Tuesday.

Initially we had about 3 inches of snow, but a further 7 inches arrived today making everything smooth and glistening in the intervals of bright sunshine between the ‘white-outs’.

Fortunately we don’t have any guests due today and, as we didn’t need to go out, we have stayed warm and cosy most of the day only making brief trips out to feed the birds, brush snow from the fruit cage roof and to make sure the chickens are ok.

Inglewood House in the snow Feb 2018
Inglewood House in the snow Feb 2018
Inglewood House
Inglewood House
The view from the Purple Bedroom
The view from the Purple Bedroom
The cherry tree with the Orchard behind
The cherry tree with the Orchard behind
Smokie, having had enough fun in the snow
Smokie, having had enough fun in the snow
A hungry robin
A hungry robin

Happy Christmas

Autumnal colours
Autumnal colours

The leaves seemed to stay on the trees much later this year than previously, although that did give us the wonderful array of Autumnal colours for a longer than is sometimes the case. The October winds brought a great deal down but, as can be seen from this late November photo, many managed to cling on – nicely marking the passing of another year.

A much sadder passing was that of our second adoptive cat ‘Tiggy’. We first saw him, as a feral kitten, in July 2016. He was quickly befriended by Smokie (who had adopted us the previous year) and shown which door to come to for food. By the September he was brave enough to come through the door and very quickly became the loving and interactive cat we adored.

Smokie and Tiggy's first meeting
Smokie and Tiggy’s first meeting
Smokie & Tiggy
Smokie & Tiggy

Those of you who have already stayed with us will know how quiet Wilney Green is and how few passing cars there are – unfortunately Tiggy chose just the wrong moment to return from one of his forages in the field opposite and his all-too short life came to an abrupt end. He is buried in the garden that was his home for just under 18 months.

The Fieldfares have arrived for their winter stay and have very much enjoyed the windfall apples that we saved for them. This picture was taken by our local wildlife photographer – her gallery can be viewed on www.dawnmonrose.co.uk.

Fieldfare (photo credit Dawn Monrose)
Fieldfare (photo credit Dawn Monrose)

We wish a Very Happy Christmas to all our guests, both new and returning, and look forward to seeing you again in the future.

Fresh Apple Juice!

In my previous blog I mentioned the purchase of a Fruit Press. As is always the case, time passed and things happened (it’s good to be busy!) so it was only this week that we got around to trying it out.

The wind has been strong recently, so we’ve been able to collect plentiful supplies of windfalls from the various apple trees with which to make a ‘mixed flavour’ juice.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Being new to the game, we made the rookie mistake of not chopping the apples finely enough at first but, once we had learned our lesson, then the juice really started flowing!

From a fairly full tub-trug of apples we produced 4.5 litres of juice. Due to the colour of some of the apples, it is a much darker liquid than you would buy in the Supermarket, but it tastes really nice! I imagine we could also dilute it, like squash?

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Having done a little research, we are assured that it freezes really well so, in preparation for the event, we’d been cutting down our old plastic milk bottles to form moulds in which we could put half-litre bags of juice. That was really successful, so now we have nine ‘blocks’ in our freezer.

New Arrivals

After the excitement of the Tawny Owls fledging (see https://www.facebook.com/100006322028114/videos/1778990112321706/), things settled down to the usual summer routine, here at Inglewood House – longer days, adult birds bringing their youngsters to the feeders, young squirrels being shown around by their parents (with particular attention being given to the Walnut tree!), deer barking in the orchard and lots of lovely guests attending Weddings and Birthday Celebrations.

In recent days the Combine has made its annual visit to harvest the fields around us, followed closely behind by the Baler. It doesn’t seem very long since the fields were being drilled – and how did they turn from green to yellow so quickly? Once the bales have been collected they will, no doubt, be turning brown again and the sequence will start all over again.

Meanwhile the Buzzards are enjoying being able to circle lazily over the wide open expanse!

Our own flock has increased recently, too – a local farmer’s daughter was contacting everyone she knew, desperately trying to find new homes for some hens that she had heard of, who had outgrown their ‘commercially useful’ life. Realistically we could only take two, despite her efforts to encourage us to take more of the ‘several thousand’. To start with we kept them in the run of the larger coop, in the middle of the covered run. They settled in well and fed happily. The others went to see them but soon wandered off, having shown very little interest.

After a couple of days they were introduced fully to the others and soon ‘found their place’ in the pecking order. We have named one Aggie (as she was a little scraggy – although she has already started to grow new feathers) and the other is Meg (short for Nutmeg, as that is her colour). They lay lovely brown eggs which nicely complement those of the Speckledy hens, the lighter ones from our Silver-laced Wyandottes and the smaller Bantam’s eggs.

In past years, we’ve had so many apples we couldn’t eat them all, so we’ve invested in an Fruit Press so that we can make our own apple juice for serving at the breakfast table alongside the homemade bread, jams and potato scones. As I write this, it seems that the damp weather we had earlier in the year is also a distant memory – perhaps we are in for an Indian Summer, once again?

Meg
Meg
Aggie
Aggie

Of Birds & Bees

A couple of years ago we put up an Owl Box in the Oak tree at the bottom of the garden. I was specifically aimed at the Little Owls that we knew lived in and around that tree but it very soon became home to a family of squirrels instead!

Although strongly secured, it blew down in the gales last autumn and the squirrels decided to find somewhere else to live. We mended it, returned it to the tree and waited to see what would happen.

Once again the Little Owls have missed out – but this time it’s due to a Tawny Owl nesting in it! We have set up a camera and think that the eggs have probably not yet hatched as she leaves the nest at dusk to feed – joining the bats in swooping low over our patio as she flies in each direction.

Owl Box - with tail sticking out
Owl Box – with tail sticking out!

The Little Owls, meanwhile, continue to be heard so we can only assume that they are happy where they are. There is a Barn Owl roost in some nearby farm buildings and they can often be seen coursing the field at the foot of our garden, so that makes the set.

Meanwhile, a Sparrow Hawk has built a nest in one of the trees on the boundary between the side of our garden and the neighbouring Orchard. Add the Kestrels that are also often seen over the field behind us and the three Buzzards that regularly soar overhead and it appears that Inglewood House is fast becoming a Raptor magnet – we are just waiting for the Red Kite from Bressingham Fen and the Marsh Harriers from Redgrave & Lopham Fen, which is about a mile away, to hear about us, too!

Most of our small bird nesting boxes are occupied by Robins, Great Tits and Blue Tits and we are looking forward to seeing the fledglings being brought to our various feeding stations by their grateful parents – and it has been great to see adult Dunnocks, Woodpeckers, Jays, Pigeons, Doves and Magpies visiting them to collect food for their youngsters.

We are hoping that the Swifts will soon be back in the skies of Norfolk and will be attracted to one of the Swift Boxes we have built into the gable end of the house.

On the other side of the garden we installed a Mason Bee habitat about a month ago and are delighted to see that four of the little residences are already taken.

Bee Habitat
Bee Habitat

Now all we need is the sun to remember to come out and warm us all up a bit………

Raft Spiders and Mechanical Street Music – it must be Spring!

We’re just back from a lovely walk around Redgrave & Lopham Fen on a beautiful Spring afternoon, during which we admired the blossom on the hedgerows and watched three buzzards lazily soaring on the thermals, and I felt in the mood for writing another blog!

The Fen is only about a mile away from Inglewood House and is home to the extremely rare Great Raft Spider. Although found in various parts of Europe, Redgrave & Lopham Fen was the first site in the UK at which a population of the Spider was ever recorded. That was in 1956 and, despite the fact that their body is 2cm long and their legs can span 7cm, I’ve still yet to actually see one! You can read more here.

Much easier to spot are the very colourful (and noisy!) street organs which will be coming to Diss on May 14th. This brand new event aims to be the biggest celebration of Mechanical Music in the UK. Over FORTY instruments, ranging from Dutch Street Organs, Fairground Organs and Concert Organs to Busker Organs and Musical Boxes will be ‘in play’ throughout Diss from 10-5pm. Something I didn’t know was that the world-famous organ builders Hill, Norman & Beard can trace their roots back to Beehive Yard, Diss while W.A. Boggis, another internationally known organ building company, originated in Louie’s Lane, Diss. You can read more here.

As an added attraction there will be a Rally of vintage tractors, cars and military vehicles in the Park alongside Diss Mere – I won’t know where to look first!, but I must say I am really blessed to live in such a beautiful and vibrant part of the Country.

Happy New Year

Firstly, let me wish all our guests past and present a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. Today, after the misty and murky weather over the Christmas period, 2017 is greeted by beautiful sunny scenes over the Waveney valley as I look out of our office window – very promising for the year ahead.

I was browsing on the computer and noticed that there are many diverse events happening in East Anglia in the coming months and in particular our local area such as The Peddars Way Ultra Marathon at the end of January which starts at nearby Knettishall Heath – in fact we were only walking off the Christmas Dinner pounds there the other day! Also ‘Take That’ are bringing their Wonderland Tour to Carrow Road Stadium, Norwich in June.

From an historically interesting point of view, this year marks the 75th Anniversary of the “Friendly Invasion” of USAAF troops to this region. We are surrounded by ex-USAAF airfields with Fersfield, just a mile up the road, being the most notable as Operation Aphrodite, a secret plan for using stripped down war weary bombers as explosive packed, radio controlled, flying bombs was carried out from there. One such mission resulted in the death of Lt. Joseph P Kennedy Jnr, brother of future President John F Kennedy, when his plane exploded over the village of Blythburgh in Suffolk.

The 453rd Bomb Group flew 259 missions from nearby Old Buckenham airfield between December 1943 and April 1945. Both James Stewart and Walter Matthau were stationed there. This airfield is still in use and there are Memorials at both the airfield and the village hall which also has a Roll of Honour and wartime memorabilia. See http://oldbuck.com for information. Also within easy reach are many other ex-USAAF airfields such as Thorpe Abbots which has a restored control tower with the 100th Bomber group memorial and Snetterton Heath, home to the 386th Bomb Group for a few days then 96th Bomb Group. Snetterton is now a motor racing circuit but there is a war memorial window in St Andrew’s Church, Quidenham. Look at https://norfolksamericanconnections.com/the-friendly-invasion/ a very useful and interesting website.

Well, now we are going to walk off a few more pounds – this time at the close by Redgrave and Lopham Fen, while seeing how much wildlife we can spot!

Bye for now and Happy New Year!