Monday 29 April 2013

Chickens and eggs

My new little hens are all settling in very well.  I have introduced new hens to the flock many times, and know that it is normally a loud and quite vicious process, but for some reason this time, the eglu and run have been very harmonious.  No shouting or bullying or pecking at all.  I am not sure why; perhaps because my older two are now very elderly - nearly 8 years old - so they are not as bothered about the arrival of three young upstarts as they would have been a few years ago.

The older ones have not been laying properly for a few years now - Maud not at all, and Queenie only intermittently. However, with the arrival of the new ones, Queenie has rediscovered her egg-laying powers and is currently giving me an egg a day.  Ethel, the young, black, maran-cross hen is also now laying every day.  Bertha and Adelaide look ready to lay, but haven't produced anything yet.

So most days, this is what is waiting for me in the nest box.

Eggs from the garden  

An enormous pale egg from Queenie, and a little dark one from Ethel.

On Saturday I used one of Ethel's little eggs to make digestive biscuits.  The recipe (from the wonderful Peyton & Byrne baking book) called for "1 small egg", so I knew immediately which one to use.  I cut the biscuits out with my chicken cookie cutter, and had a whole flock of buff-coloured chickens, cooling on my kitchen table.  I decided I wanted chocolate digestives, so I painted the chickens with melted Green & Blacks milk chocolate (thereby making them more Ethel-coloured, which was fitting).

A flock of chicken digestive biscuits

I'd not made digestive biscuits at home before, and was delighted to find out that they are very quick and easy, and satisfyingly authentic.  It's a good job Ethel's laying regularly, because the biscuits only hung around for a couple of days. Yum!

Chocolate digestive chicken

Sunday 21 April 2013

Seen on the streets

Seen on the streets of Soho, in central London, on the first sunny Saturday afternoon of spring:
    Drinking in the sunshine with the nurses
  •  Hundreds of people, standing outside pubs, drinking wine and pints and turning their faces towards the sky, like sunflowers.
  • Two little girls, pony-galloping up Carnaby Street doing a complicated hand-clapping game together.
  • Three young dudes, zooming past on longboards.
  • A pretty young lady, wrapped in a gold pashmina, photographing her boyfriend's pint of beer with the biggest Nikon camera I've ever seen.
  • Three teenage girls, all wearing very high-heeled turquoise pumps, and with huge Primark bags hooked over their arms, teetering along the road singing Abba tunes together.
  • Three German tourists, wondering how many millilitres were in a pint.  Nobody could tell them.
  • Bubbles in my prosecco, as I enjoyed an afternoon out with some of my nursing friends.
Prosecco in the sunshine!
Springtime in London

Sunday 14 April 2013

The sock spring

I sat outside in the sunshine, on the last day of my holidays.  I finished knitting one pair of socks, and started another pair.

My new socks match my reading material!

Casting on more socks!  

I reflected on a great day spent with my sister yesterday, and then a lovely phone call with my brother.  It doesn't take much to keep me happy - socks, siblings and some sunshine. 

It feels as though spring finally came to East London today.

Saturday 13 April 2013


I often don't realise the level of influence I have over my children.  On a quiet afternoon this week, Olivia pottered into the kitchen with her arms full of fabric scraps and said in her typically quiet way, "I thought I'd make some bunting for my room - can you show me how?"

Livvy's made bunting for her room  

On the other hand, when Moss Stitch and I took all our children on a longish walk in Epping Forest a few days later, we had to bribe them into participating with moderate enthusiasm and not moaning, by lugging along heavy bags full of chocolate biscuits and flasks of mocha coffee in order to keep them stoked up with sugar and caffeine at all times.

Walking on a spring log 

My love of long walks and being in amongst the trees has clearly not had as much influence on them as my love of fabric and cake.  

When we got back home, I said to Olivia, "You know, in years to come I bet you take your children on walks like that."  She looked me straight in the eye and replied, "I would never be so cruel."

Walking on a little bridge  

Tuesday 9 April 2013

In the school and university holidays

New things:
  • The new sense of optimism and energy in our high street these days; Graham and I like stopping off for an espresso on our way out, if there's time.

    Leyton espresso
  •  Three new hens! Including this blue-egg laying beauty, who we've called Adelaide.  They are settling in very well.
    Adelaide's lovely mohican hairdo
  •  The novelty of having early mornings to myself - the children now sleep in until nearly 10am if left to their own devices. 
  • Visiting the Cutty Sark in its newly restored splendour at Greenwich.  It was a fascinating day, and the boat has been restored brilliantly.  We all loved the 'audience' of figureheads at one end of the boat.

  •  New tea towels from Snowden Flood, who designs such beautiful things. 
    New tea towels from Snowden Flood
And amongst all this newness, there is still the stability of well-known, familiar things. Days out with old friends and with grandparents. Watching some good tele.  Favourite meals.  Baking with friends.

Good times.

The Cutty Sark