Monday, 28 July 2014

Monday, Monday

The Tour de France finally pulled into Paris yesterday with the Italian cyclist Vincenzo Nibali taking the top spot on the podium. Yorkshire took the race to it's heart and the giddy anticipation of the tour starting in the county saw residents painting pushbikes yellow and hanging them off their homes, Pub's renaming their hostelries with a gallic twist and an entire village knitting tiny cycle jumpers to decorate the market square! It was a little unusual for us too as we saw the York race route pass by the end of the street where we had our first home in the city. Then on the final Friday of the race the route spun past the tiny hamlet we once called home in France. We used to enjoy watching the tour from the side of the road in France. We've seen a race start, with the heightened excitement and the holding of breath as the seconds to the start beep tick down. And we've camped out for hours on the sides of french country lanes to catch a glimpse of the race speed by. The fun was always to find a spot where we could climb onto our car for a better vantage point, hoping that the 'caravan' of promotion vehicles that prelude the actual race would be able to throw their freebies to us!

One of the publicity cars galloping by!

The 'tete de la course'

Our little Fermette in the Gers, South West France looked south onto the Pyrenees and the Highest peak we could see was the Col du Tormalet, one of the most gruelling climbs for the tour cyclists.

Our little bit of France with the Pyrenees on the horizon

Back here in the garden I made a discovery, a strange fruit on the large Camellia to the side of our patio area. Never having had a Camellia before now I had no clue what it was but a quick look online told me it a the seed pod which if left on the bush until it dries out will reveal seeds that can be propagated. Another use is that if picked while still fleshy it can be squeezed to release a tea flavoured oil which can be used in cooking or to soften the skin. So that's my new fact for today!

Camellia seed pod or cagary

Since our workmen finished the roof we have been able to get to the bed to one side of our kitchen doors. It's edged with some lovely old railway sleepers and is to become the new herb garden and after Gary had weeded all the big stuff out I spent Sunday afternoon clearing most of it ready for planting. It already contains a healthy Lavender and some Lemon Balm plus a blackcurrant bush which was probably a 'happy accident' from a bird dropping, this is going to be moved to a fruit bed in the veg area. Hoping to plant up not only culinary herbs but also include ones who's flowers are worthy of a place there. So I'm on the look out for Monarda plants, bronze fennel and perhaps an Angelica for it's architectural beauty.

New Herb bed cleared and ready for planting up

The Veg garden has given up sufficient to be able to make our first meal of the season off it. Granted it's not a vast amount but it was all planted rather late this year. I harvested a couple of the shallots, a large courgette, a sprig of thyme and the first two ripe Roma plum tomatoes. Once some leftover pastry had defrosted and a yorkshire pudding tin was utilised as a small tartlet tray, the four pastry cases were blind baked. The shallot, courgette and thyme were sauteed in olive oil, added to the cases along with a beaten egg mixed with some creme fraiche and a grating of parmesan cheese. Finally the tomatoes topped the tarts and they were baked until golden. A little rustic but made with love for our homegrown produce.

A celebration of all things homegrown

In the Studio we are excited that one of Gary's limited edition prints is featured in UK Handmade's Summer Showcase Collection.

Avocet - gracing the pages of UK Handmade Summer Showcase

I've tried to upload the link to the online brochure but it is misbehaving so here's the link to the site and from there if you go to the Showcase you will be able to flick through the Summer Collection brochure pages online and find our Avocet print there. It's worth a look through as it's brimming over with UK handmade wonders. Link below:

We've been busy printing this weekend too. Managed to find a free hour to print the third colour of my latest linocut, not ready for a full reveal but here is just a hint of what it might be...

What on earth could it be?!

This week will see us cutting lino plates, no doubt printing, building more fences and hopefully getting on with the herb bed.

Hope the week brings you smiles.

'Summer is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces up, snow is exhilarating; there is no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather'
John Ruskin.


  1. First of all, adore the arvocet! Beautiful colors!

    I watched every minute of the Tour. I was excited they went to England this year -- boy, the crowds were huge! Perhaps there should be the Tour de Brittania!

  2. Lovely Avocet lovely colours. enjoyed reading about the cycle race and the cooking and veg garden :)