Friday 9 September 2022

Memories of Queen Elizabeth 11

The nation, indeed, the whole world, is in mourning for HM the Queen who died yesterday. It is rather wonderful how deeply loved she was and this may be in part due to the fact that many of us have never known a time without her being at the helm and of course for the steadfastness and dignity with which she carried out her duty. There is genuine affection and grief being expressed by multitudes of people all around the globe, everyone from political leaders to the humblest members of the public has something to say about a woman who has been a fixture in all our lives for 70 years. I saw her several times, once as a small child in Cardiff when the royal yacht Britannia was in port and my father somehow had got tickets for us as a family to go to the docks to see the Queen & Prince Philip come in a very shiny black car to meet the ship and go aboard for the next stage of whatever journey they were on. My main memory is of a smiling policeman ushering us to a good vantage place to see them arrive & the Queen and Prince Philip waving to the crowds as the car drove through. The second time was many years later when the Farmer & I with Elder Son, then aged about a year, were up in a small Welsh market town, Llanidloes, deep in the hills of mid-Wales. We were walking along the main street of the town and suddenly realised there were barriers in the street and people gathering so we joined the small crowd and the next thing there was the Queen walking up the street wearing a bright red coat and white hat. It was very bizarre and the sense of excitement in this very small obscure market town was palpable. People were hanging out of windows above the shops and cheering and waving flags. I remember seeing very old farmers in the crowds wearing their best suits and war medals who had clearly come down from their isolated farms for this very special occasion. The Farmer held Elder Son up on his shoulders so he'd be able to say that he had seen the Queen when he was grown up...I must remind him of that story! Another occasion was when I happened to be in Stratford-upon-Avon and the Queen & the Duke of Edinburgh arrived at the Shakespeare Memorial theatre for what appeared to be very low-key visit. As far as I remember there were no great crowds and a minimal police presence. The Queen & the Duke both paused on the steps of the theatre and waved to the small crowd before going in. The Farmer is proud to say that he was the first Queen's Scout to come from Carmarthenshire and because of that he was invited to read the lesson at a special service in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle. Various members of my family have met the Queen and the now King Charles 111 from time to time and the collective memories are treasured. Long Live the King!

Thursday 1 September 2022

Third Cut Silage, Local Agricultural Show, Summer and Autumn Fruit Harvest

Summer is at an end and there is a distinct air of autumn now with the drop in temperature and the beginning of the leaves changing colour. The onset of the new season does not mean an end to our silage making however, there is still a lot of grass to cut and bring in. The re-growth since tha last cut has been good and is now ready. The picture shows the rake being taken along our farm lane to the fields following the mowers which have gone ahead and the rake will arrive in the fields to find the grass cut and lying waiting to be raked into swathes to be ready for the baler and wrapper. The Farmer and Sons are going to have few more long days before it is all done. Summer is now ending and it has been an amazing time, with glorious weather, perfect for the children off school and for holiday-makers. Here in west Wales we have been very fortunate in not suffering the drought conditions that have been affecting other parts of the country but we do appreciate how difficult it has been for farmers elsewhere...but the rain will come. Our local agricultural show is taking place this coming weekend and yesterday the Farmer was up on the show field helping with the preparations, putting up hurdles for pens for the sheep-showing and generally being busy. I have had to put my mind to what I shall be entering in the 'Domestic & Handicrafts Section'. I shall enter some baking, and jars of jam & jelly and possibly some floral arrangements such as an arrangement in a teacup and a teapot, fiddly little things that I quite enjoy doing, though I am not a skillled flower arranger! The Farmer will be entering some turned woodwork & maybe something in the home-brewed alchohol classes. As usual I have left it all to last minute, I should have started planning these things a couple of months ago as I know a lot of people do. In the end it's not so much about the competition as supporting the show which is right on our doorstep and involves a lot of effort by a small number of people. These events need to be supported otherwise they will just disappear, which would be great loss to agricultural communities all over the country.
Thanks to the wonderful summer the Farmer has had a very good season with the bees. He took extracted honey last week and so far we have had about 200lbs and there will be more to come though probably not quite such a quantity this late in the season. Apart from the honey bees enjoying the hot weather we have noticed many bumble bees busy working in the gardens and along the hedgerows as well as other pollinating insects making the tree canopy hum. The bramble harvest has been too and I have frozen many pounds as well making jam and jellies. We have also had a good crop of plums, again put in the freezer and made into plum & apple jelly which glows ruby-red in the jars. The next fruit to be harvested will be apples which the Farmer will use for cider and some will be frozen as juice. there is going to be glut of tomatoes any day now and so I need to plan what to do with them. We have good stock of chutneys so I think I will make sauces and passata. I do enjoy this time of year although keeping up with need to preserve all the fruit before it goes over can be quite a challenge and after all there is only so much jam or chutney needed.