Inquisitive jackdaws

 

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A pair of young jackdaws are trying to build a nest in our chimney. Throughout the day piles of sticks have been falling down and landing in a sooty mess on the carpet. I’ve now spread out last weekend’s Observer newspaper and hopefully they have found somewhere else to roost for the night.

It has been so cold and damp recently. A late spring such as this always brings to mind Thomas Hardy’s poem “A Backward Spring”. Much as I love his novels and the story of his life and loves it is his poetry I return to most often. A couple of years ago we walked along the river from Boscastle to the church of St Juliot where as a young man he met the love of his life and which became the setting and inspiration for his first novel “A Pair of Blue Eyes”. It was the Easter holidays and primroses and bluebells had spread to the banks of the river and even though Boscastle itself was heaving, once we’d walked 500 metres from the centre we did not see another soul for the entire walk.

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No Cornish holiday for the foreseeable future but tomorrow we will be at the cottage and walking on the South Downs, where we should catch a glimpse of the sea. Last weekend we were in Kent to celebrate our daughter’s 20th birthday. The weather was wet, windy and cold and the north Kent coast was grey as grey could be but we had a lovely day with our special girl.

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I’m comtinuing to direct sow at the allotment despite the rain and today I prepared another seed bed (I love doing this) and sowed borage, cerinthe and flat-leaf parsley. Leeks were sown in a rough square grid one sunny  evening this week and the sowings I made the other week (salads, rocket, beetroot, radish and perpetual spinach) are all up and through. Even the sweet peas are tentatively starting to climb.

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We are eating lots of purple sprouting broccoli, chard and rhubarb from the allotment and last night I made Yotam Ottolenghi’s paella with purple sprouting broccoli which was delicious. Yotam’s recipe was actually served with out of season broad beans and as my first sowing was eaten by mice and the second batch are still to germinate I reckon it will be July before I will be podding and skinning broad beans. But the asparagus is just visible, although these early spears are sure to be damaged by tonight’s frost. The earliest date I’ve picked enough asparagus for four (as opposed to lunch for one!) has been 16 April. I wonder when the first proper cutting will be made this month.

 

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As respite from the cold and wet today I’ve started hand quilting a hand-pieced hexagon quilt made using the scraps from my first log cabin quilt completed almost a year ago. I am also enjoying cross stitching Alicia’s Midsummer Sprigs sampler. I started this about two weeks ago thinking it would take me until at least midsummer and I’m now pacing myself as I don’t want to finish it too soon.

It’s a strange on the cusp time of year. On one hand I would love to hold on to this chilly April day. My garden is a vision of snow white beauty with amelanchier at its very best, blossom breaking on the pear tree which will soon look like a ship in full sail and, in a supporting role for now, a pure white magnolia stellata, all underplanted with Narcissus ‘Thalia’, N. ‘Sailboat’, and N. WP Milner, white tulips (Purissima and Spring Green) and white anemone. Primroses, epimedium, and erythronium are providing a wash of softest yellow. But you can’t deny the tug of the season as the days lengthen and the sun climbs higher. I hope you’re making the most of every moment too.

 

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10 thoughts on “Inquisitive jackdaws

  1. Lovely allotment photo, and gorgeous blossom and sea shots. I love Thomas Hardy’s poems as well, especially The Darkling Thrush, my absolute favourite. I need to get down and sort out the allotment. It sounds as though you’ve been busy and already have plenty in. My first asparagus spear was poking through a week or so ago, so no doubt there are more to be seen by now. I hope you have a lovely time at the cottage and on the South Downs. I think the weather is set fair. CJ xx

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  2. I love Ottolenghi’s veggie paella recipe and even quite enjoy skinning all those broad beans if I’m in a meditative frame of mind! You have been busy down at the allotment and what a lovely way to celebrate your daughter’s birthday. I haven’t read any of Hardy’s poetry. I think I’ve been put off by my husband’s moaning about it; he had to study it for Eng Lit O level and it killed it dead for him. I think I’ll have to dig some out and decide for myself. Enjoy your yummy asparagus. xx

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  3. Your allotment shot shows what a huge amount of effort you put into it. So neat and good looking. Your thoughts of Cornwall have sparked a memory of wonderful holidays at Coombe Valley when the children were very small, the rope swing over the brook and running along Sandymouth Bay. I’d love to go back with them again. It’s a lovely time of year – I’ve just been weeding our border along the back wall, starting off wearing three layers and quickly down to t-shirt as the sun warmed the wall. It was actually quite hot. Hope you’re having a lovely weekend at your cottage and enjoying this glorious spring day. PS Good luck with the jackdaws.

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  4. It is such an exciting time of the year, I love every minute of it. You have been busy on your allotment and what a lot you have got to look forward to. My first broad bean sowings were eaten by mice too.. They nip all the shoots off, the little beasts.
    It must be fun to go to the cottage and enjoy walks on the beach.

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  5. I would be quite happy to press a pause button at this time of year – April and May are my favourite months. It does seem a late spring in some ways but as you say you can’t deny the “tug of the season’. I must follow your example and do more direct sowing at the allotment.

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  6. I hope your jackdaws don’t fall down the chimney. We once found an owl that fell down our chimney. You’re well ahead with your seed sowing. We didn’t get around to sowing our broad beans in the autumn and have learnt from experience that spring sowing in our cold, clay soil is not worthwhile so no broad beans for us this year. How wonderful for you to be eating your own produce so early in the year.

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  7. What a nice spring post, Sarah. I don’t think I’ve ever seen jackdaws. I think they’re something like crows? I hope they don’t fall down the chimney. I was surprised to see an absolutely huge nest in my little olive tree last week. I can’t believe it hasn’t fallen to the ground. It’s sitting so precariously on a narrow branch. I liked seeing your allotment and plants. I wish we had allotments here. We are gardening veggies mostly in buckets this spring, after many mediocre harvests in previous years when we planted in the ground. So far, it’s going pretty well. Lettuce should be ready in a couple more weeks! I hope you’re having a good weekend so far.

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  8. Would the jackdaws persist if they had the Sunday Times, do you think…? Well done with all your planting and picking – and what a lovely Kent beach photo. Your amelanchier must be gorgeous – so often I walk under mine and forget to look up – which is such a shame!

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  9. Big birds need a nice high place for their nest. We have a Crows nest on our chimney. We discovered it when the room filled with smoke! I wasn’t too worried until readers commented that crows fell down their chimneys and caused havoc in the house when they were out. Your allotment looks lovely and it’s good to hear how productive it is.

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