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First blog post in a long while – and a lot has happened in that time! We bought a house, got married, went on honeymoon, made jam, started renovating the house… I shan’t bore you with the details, just a few juicy snippets and a quick summary.

The house purchase finally went through at the beginning of June, which was a huge relief and a great source of excitement as we started planning in earnest how best to renovate it. Most exciting was the garden: 120 whole feet of it, in the middle of town.

Garden 39

Concrete and nasty for now, but bags of potential...

Not to mention the laden Bramley apple tree, magnolia tree and huge fish pond. Have a look at the picture for a glimpse of what we’ve got – most of that concrete barbecue monstrosity has gone now, as have the bungalow trees. My studio will be built about where I’m standing to take the photo, and below that will be a gravelled area with herbs and a bridge over a rill from the new pond (yet to be dug), to the fish pond. We’ll have a big wooden table to eat out at on warm summer evenings… The lily pond (square thing, centre-right of photo) has now also gone – we spent a weekend covered in goo trying to heave the lilies out and into the big pond.

Before all the work got started on the house, I was still preparing manically for our wedding on the 16th July. Last minute preparations were indeed frantic, particularly because we also went up to Bangor for my graduation ceremony that week. Mum and I had all the flower arranging to do, including the bouquets, buttonholes, and corsages in the last two days before the wedding!

Flower arrangement

One of the larger flower arrangements in the church

I was still arranging buttonholes and decorating the cake on the morning of the big day, and arrived at the church more than a little fashionably late! I had intended to be a respectable five minutes late, but it ended up being almost half an hour… gulp! Still, it all went swimmingly, and we had a wonderful day. The sun even shone by lunchtime, despite the brooding clouds and horizontal rain when I woke up that morning!

We went to France for a week for our honeymoon, and spent lazy days pootling around the Loire Valley. We visited several chateaux and gardens, including Villandry which was spectacular, and had the best sort of picnic lunches which involve fresh bread from the boulanger, ripe organic chevre from some little wine caves we found, plenty of tomatoes and olives, and a box of wine perched on the dashboard to keep husband happy! The weather wasn’t brilliant, but it didn’t matter as we spent the first couple of days catching up on sleep! We also went French supermarket shopping (always a highlight for me – simple things, I know!) and came back with Normandy cider (yum), boxes of French wine, which may be reasonable but equally may be plonk, enough jam to keep us going for several months, and… (little did I know how useful this purchase would prove) a copper preserving pan! I’d admired one in a cooks’ shop in Hereford for a while, but couldn’t justify the £75 they wanted, so when I saw this one for 22Euros, it was a must!

I’ve since made three successful batches of jam: apple and blackberry, hedgerow jam (apples, plums, and blackberries), and spiced apple and plum. (Recipes will follow in my next post… honest!)

I’m keen to try out something with elderberries, and also with hawthorn berries, though lack the space at the moment to make proper jellies. I think haws are quite stony little berries, so would probably take aeons to push through a sieve. Roll on my new kitchen!

Happily ever after

Happily ever after...