Wednesday, 25 February 2009

I have no time.............

Crows in a tree at Ednovean Farm

I drove though the high narrow lanes today between St Hilary and St Erth, the lanes framed by the gaunt twisted trees still bare and stark in the beauty of their sinuous naked forms. Natures palette still restrained by the last breath of winter, in russet deepening to richer browns, under a sullen grey sky. The catkins are there already, dangling incongruously along my route to the glamorous destination of the local tip bearing a mattress now replaced with a pump new one. Open gateways with views suddenly revealed by an until the lane closed in again, framed by the sinuous archway of branches.

The fields lay tidily abandoned today, the soil tilled into neat order, as we have watched over the last dry weeks, taking Sootty and Danni out for their morning exercise. Sootty skittering at the sight of the hated tractors that have swarmed in every field we've passed. Massive machines that drone too and throw causing Sootty to snort and arch his neck, snatching at his bit and making me glad of his double bridle as he eyed the horse eating monsters in consternation.

But this afternoon the countryside was silent and the landrover was a gentle companion on the way to the dump through the ancient lanes and I could study the sculptural shaped of the trees along my route through a country side poised almost in limbo waiting for the first breath of Spring.

Monday, 23 February 2009

A tidy life

Eau de Vie! probably featuring Esso (deceased) who had a very strange habit (but was very nice about it!

I wish I had a tidy life but as it is I tend to collect things and hoard them in heaps, personal heaps, tidy heaps, teetering heaps and there they stay until their metamorphis to "things that go in the loft"

These two cartoons are the type of things that can be found in heaps, they were a parting gift from a guest and hoarded in the office for many years, a treasured snap shot of life at Ednovean Farm in the 90's, they had eventually been filed flat for safety with thankyou letters, until we reached the point of no return in the office and a days heap sorting was deemed necessary.

Not that this was a single pronged approach - oh no - first we emptied the loft as we had vowed and declared we would and "take the lot to a charity shop" The resulting muddle had formed very big heaps indeed and only the impending approach of visitors who may like to use the room motivated us into action this weekend.

"Shelves for the loft, would be an advantage in such circumstances" I thought and bought several flat pack versions................then added some stacking boxes too.......... that looked very useful things.

And we sorted and examined, perused and reminisced until eventually we had a heap for the Marazion charity shop, three bin bags for the local tip and the we carefully repacked the rest into the see through stacking boxes and put them back into the loft.

And so feeling suitably worthy we have reaffirm our attachment to our dubious detritus and stacked it ever so neatly away again. Well just for another year until we are feeling stronger perhaps...........the office looks pretty good though!

" it french" Sooty does prefer a british cox's apple if asked but he could have been more polite!

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Yesterday morning at Ednovean Farm

There was a special thrill to wake up yesterday morning and to see the bay anew, redolent with the promise of spring. With our Courtyards still silent and shrouded by shadows the sun reflected across Mounts Bay bringing St Micheal's Mount into a magical relief.

From the kitchen window as I cooked breakfast for our guests, I could see the first perfect blue sky of spring emerged from the haunting hold of winter, as I rolled the breakfast sausages this way and that

Down in the garden, our sheltering belt of Cordylines were the first to meet the sun as the morning dew melted from the grass this Saturday at Ednovean Farm.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

The lonliness of the long distance lawn mower

Big Bertha was of an unknown make, not popular and probably a "special purchase" she had a massive cut, steady speed and the ability to mulch or collect as the fancy took her. She came to Ednovean Farm when the gardens were in their infancy and chugged relentlessly through reclaimed paddock to produce the lawns that you can see today. She mulched obsessively to produce the tilth under the lawns in the Italian garden, which was built on the horses old sand school - which in itself was on the mining rab or stony sub soil. She collected the clipping decorously nearer to the house as we soon discovered that our bedroom carpets acquired a fine coat of grass cuttings if they were left unattended!

The years took there toll on Big Bertha though, her once gleaming paintwork became dull and she became cantankerous with age but still soldiered on into her pensionalble years. She was supported in her role by the little Mountford "Little Bertha" bought, when Bertha spent an interminable period in the workshops of a local lawn mower hospital. Twice weekly Charles did battle with the two Berthas in the spring grass growing season, keeping Big Bertha going with surreptitious kicks to her seizing wheels, until the day came when she planted herself firmly on the edge of the lawn and refused to move at all. No amount of kicking or cagouling would move the errant machine and she was dispatched to a specialist, a top of the range work shop, were, after a fitting period she was declared U/S.

Little Bertha has stepped manfully into the breach, working for five hours at a stretch and restating at the first pull but surely now she must be approaching her sixty thousand mile service. With great reluctance and a high pressure weather forecast for this week, we set off for B&Q and their bright plastic ranks of Montfields. After half an hour comparing statistics and finally consulting a very nice man I found sweeping up, behind the pot plants, we were the owners of a very large box with a picture of a lawn mower on it. We were assured that this was a lawn mower.............and the man was very reassuring about the assembly.

As we drove on into Penzance Charles said "so how much were those new door mats you bought?" Peering at the bill it was obvious that it was not my very nice terracotta/machine washable/just right for the guest sitting room mats, that were to blame but a to put it politely an overcharge - and just as gentlemanly Charles had politely, paid the bill. Four very nice ladies later we had a refund and were still in possession of the box bearing the picture of the lawn mower and home we went.

It's usually best to keep out of the way when technical things go on but some time and two left over screws later. Charles had assemble a very passable lawn mower and I had a very nice box to recycle to the local dump. She was carried sedately out into the garden on a wheel barrow - strange but the easiest way to transit the courtyard steps and the moment of truth had arrived. She roared into life and sat poised in front of a very passable growing hay field. Charles tenderly took the handle and gently squeezed the throttle and she just as gently moved forward for a few moments, before taking off at a speed of knots dragging Charles behind her.

In half the time and barely time to stop for a cup of tea, this was the result - a bit rough around the edges but a very passable facsimile of a lawn - Big Bertha is dead - long live Big Bertha!

Monday, 16 February 2009

Sunset from Perranuthnoe beach

The promise of Sunday morning did not quite come true for a while until the evening when a magic spell was woven. With the shafts of sunlight angling across the fields and the last haynet filled and waterbucket carried the evening promised something special in store and so "we went to the sea again" and slipped down to the village below just after 5.00pm, for a dusk with the quality of spun silk so enfolding was its magic.

We gossiped for a while on the slipway, to friends and neighbours equally drawn to the lure of the sunset over Perranuthnoe beach - watching the small family groups each with a good workmanlike dog bounding beside them - each unwilling to let the special dusk of the sunset go as it drew closer around them. The colours of the sky changing from the first golden glow to deepen through the colour spectrum to the pinks and reds, reflected artfully back by the small pools abandoned by the retreating tide

Some local children discovered a cable drum to play with

The swirling pattern of the tidal pools below the rock rampart giving way to golden sands

local people enjoying the beach into the dusk

"the dusk with the quality of spun silk, so enfolding was its magic"

The last misty moments before the evening faded into the night.

Perran beach lays just below Perranuthnoe village in west Cornwall

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Sunday, 15 February 2009

What would I like to do this morning?

This morning in Cornwall dawned womb like in its intense promise of spring, with an all imbracing warm, misty embrace. Every bird in every tree compete to celebrate the day with natures melody.

Where would I like to go this morning in Cornwall to walk across Porthkidney sands with friends and eventualy into St Ives, on sands exposed by the low spring tides?

Explore the ancient footpaths that run down through the woodland towards Porthgwora Cove

or amble gently around a little fishing Cove

Cadgwith Cove with the neatly stacked lobster pot

Newlyn harbour, a gritty working enviroment.

But as the cat starts to snore in his self elected spot beside me in the office, I think I had better go to work and leave these memories for you!

Saturday, 14 February 2009

So who Is Wilbur?!

A tabby cat sitting on one of our stone benches- this area was designed by Ian Lowe as a viewing area for our Courtyard garden

So who is Wilbur? Cousin of a million cats in Cornwall, I'm sure and manifest in several forms at the Stray Cat Cafe (See previous post) It has slowly dawned on me with the steady, well relentless really, consumption of Hill's Science Diet that there may be more than one Wilbur. Yesterdays Wilbur had a white spot on his chest but today's Wilbur, ah hum, has none

Perhaps some one locally could recognise Wilbur the secretive, willey, tabby tom that can fade instantly into the bushes. Perhaps he is the survivor of a litter dumped in the countryside or the product of a feral queen who know.

He's wintered well this year, as you can see, Charles described him as looking like a tea cosy, nearly sperical but still remains nearly as elusive as a mountain lion to spot about the gardens at Ednovean farm. I'm sure he's happy in his chosen isolation and he's welcome to as many garden rabbits as he can find............Wilbur one and two.

The only person that could know for sure how many Wilburs there are, is the ever watchful Olley patrolling the Parterre at dusk!
The puzzle of Ednovean Farm!
p.s Charles was hoping to photograph the sunset last night but got side tracked!

Friday, 13 February 2009

No dogs please (or pets)

Olley our cat
No dogs please our web site says or perhaps more accurately "No pets" - (we had to change it to no pets to cover a few more species after a German couple manged to smuggle their cat through customs in a picnic basket. "But you say no dogs, not no cats".............) The armed response unit that arrived and the subsequent report on the local radio about a raid on a B&B in Perranuthoe was a bit embarrassing but the police were very nice for the three hours they were here. And then there was the couple that arrived with a parrot - we decided to compromise and let them put the cage in the guest sitting room - provided they didn't let it out of course. I was a bit surprised when I saw it flying passed the stables but the couple swore they always "flew their parrot free" and it was indeed as a fiat accompli now sitting on his masters shoulders on the Blue room terrace....But definitely not left in his cage as agreed. Yes well- so no pets it is then.
Olley it must be said, is not fond of dogs, as an opinionated Cat - which is why we are Dogless of Perranuthnoe at the moment and although I long for a Lurcher dog now the loss of Blaze two years ago has found a new place, we still don't have a dog. So we definitely don't take dogs or cats or parrots - humans only infact.............over 16 years
We've had couples that have arrived late at night with a car full of dogs, we couldn't subject the animals to a night in the car in possibly sub zero temperatures, and none of the pubs (1) hotels (4) or B&B's(3) that we have contacted on their behalf, were willing to take pets or accept responsibility for them sleeping outside either. So please do check when booking. There is an excellent guide called Pets Welcome for people travelling with a dog - but come to think of it we didn't travel with Blaze when he was alive either. So Sorry but we really don't take dogs.....or pets.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Signs of spring

Violets thriving on a Cornish bank

Every day I look, as the day get longer, at a certain spot, on a certain bank for the first violets of Spring. They were there today and yesterday as well, if I'm honest and perhaps since Christmas now I come to think! but they are strangely uplifting these tiny, brave, flowers that appear each year with a reasonable certainty.

I quickly glance each day as we hack the horses passed along the lane and each morning I see them, still touched by the morning dew.

The orderly daffodil fields

St Micheal's Mount from Ednovean Farm this morning

The gentle swing of the horses backs and the rhythmic fall of their feet takes us miles into West Penwith, past the ever changing pattern of fields and just lately, we have started to spot the daffodil pickers swathed in their waterproofs hard at work in the local flower fields.

Sootty and Danni are always happy to return home though, to the view of St Micheal's Mount basking this morning in the sunshine, to their cosy stable with the prospect of a bulging haynets and pan of corn. Probably to spend the rest of the day dreaming of their adventure as they perched their bottoms on the back of their stable walls. and settle down to snooze the day away until supper time.

For last two days, we have had the first burst of the suns rays, well deserved in my opinion after a record three inches of rain. This encouraged Charles to throw open the stable doors to the house upstairs and down whilst exhorting the Cat to "Get some fresh air in his lungs" Olley was probably muttering "One swallow doesn't make a spring" or some such banality but dubiously crept outside for a good twenty minutes..............the invoice box in which he has been living was found to be full of shredded paper - what an industrious cat!

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

The pump this morning at Ednovean Farm

The enigmatic shadow cast on the courtyard wall by the old pump

The old pump has always stood in our courtyard for as long as I have been here - not long in Cornish terms of course - since 1978 in fact when my father bought the farm at auction. The farm, stripped of fences and gates, just the bare building and the bare soil and the pump tucked in a mouldering corner of stinging nettles.

Made by Holman's of Penzance it presides over one of the big water tanks in the Courtyard that were rumoured to have been blown out of the farmyard with explosives "at the end of the last century" I suppose the century has changed again now so lets say a long time ago. I used the water for the horses for many years here, scorning the slowness of taps when a bucket suspended on a rope and dipped into the depths was instantly filled with sweet fresh water. The pump I should ad doesn't work - it is thought that a chain bearing buckets should follow the smooth curved disk at its centre - perhaps someone reading this will know something of the workings of old pumps??

Holmans & Sons Penzance

Mounts bay and St Micheal's Mount just beyond the pump that has not travelled far from the forge of Holman's (Now Penzance Dry Dock)

The pump stands at the side of a small courtyard now, filled with palms and catching the first warmth of the spring sunshine today. Sometimes our house guests like to breakfast there in the morning before setting off to walk along the coastal footpath to Marazion to west or Cuden Point to the east. But as you can see we have all year round diners enjoying the daily bird fest. Strangely looking out of our Dining room window there are still berries on the holly this morning so perhaps birds along the the rest of the population have succumbed to convenience foods!

The ideal spot for a bird feeder just under the kitchen window

One of the winter Courtyards this morning touched by the sunshine

The lovely tracery of light bring the garden to life again

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Life in the creeper

One of the hand made plaques, produced by a local artist that frame the front door, framed by the creeper.

We can never be too sure when the creeper arrived that gently embraces our home. Certainly our old barn at Ednovean Farm, looked pristine and almost too new when we had finished the renovation back in 1991. But one day perhaps by accident, perhaps by stealth, perhaps by a seed causally discarded from a passing bird, the creeper arrived. Slowly it has crept up the building, gently becoming part of our consciousness like a familiar ornament seen but not seen always in the same place. With great tact the verdant ivy has staked her claim to our home, growing in vigour with each passing year. Each glossy, triangular leaf reflecting a small disk of light back into the cosmos, shimmering and rustling in the wind.

She has a life of her own this creeper at Ednovean Farm, colonies of birds that squabble in the depths - humble house sparrows with wings industriously beating, in a smooth brown blur of motion, as they hunt a choice insect or berries from the creepers heart. The tiny wrens that return each night to roost tucked against the warm honeyed granite of our home, that was quarried from the cliffs just beyond Perranuthnoe village that lays in the valley below. And the even tinier Gold crests hoping busily about in an eternal industry of avian housekeeping.

The creepers conquest is now complete holding the barn in a sure embrace in steely defiance. We have to trim its boundaries at least twice a year now, to prevent it taking over the house all together together, so sure now of her victory as she sends out her searching tendrils towards the windows, doors and roof in an effort to finally obliterate the building and make natures conquest complete. But not yet, not yet because this is where I live too, in the honeyed barn with the shimmering clothing of creeper in the far south west of Cornwall.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Life changes with the small adds

Our kitchen at Ednovean Farm
Its curious isn't it how a simple thing can change your life - take the small adds for instance, the innocuous give away paper that you pick up with the petrol or find tucked into your daily paper. Opening it and flicking through ht the pages............ there is "just the thing" that you have been looking for for ages.
I set my heart on a Rayburn for our kitchen when we renovated our barn at Ednovean Farm, not just any Rayburn but a glossy racing green, a model just out, the Rayburn nouvelle. This was a pretty tall order as we were nearing the end of our renovation and shall we say a tad over budget! Enter the magic fairy in the shape of the Penwith Pirate and there it was - barely a year old and about to be discarded by a home owner with little patience with the idiosyncrasies of Rayburns.
We stored the magic Rayburn in an old Rice trailer for nearly a year until we were ready to fit it and it swung up to the first floor teetering on the fork lift of a tractor - beautiful green and shiny and I've warmed myself against it and cooked breakfast for my house guest on it, ever since.
Then again, shortly after we were married my lovely old Lurcher Maize Brown (for picture see the Ednvoean Cats) died leaving us "dogless" A very small add caught my eye - "Lonely Lurcher seeks home" I phoned the lovely forthright Doggie lady who said "Dear Dog deserves a good home" in the sort of staccato reserved for very good dogs but alas he had already been rehomed. But i don't give up quite that easily and left my name and phone number - just in case. Well they rehomed Blaze twice - the second lot of people even asked for their money back from the charity and so the battered Volvo was launched to Redruth I think (which was about the limit of the old cars range) and Blaze came home panting anxiously in the back seat.
What a dog and companion, he went everywhere with us; every shopping expedition; trip to the bank ;walk along the coastal path. He adored life, everything was an adventure to him with his optimistic enthusiasm and bright shining eyes. Towards the end of his life the beating he had suffered before he was rescued started to catch up with him and he succumbed to epilepsy and when he went he left a hole that even the small ads couldn't fill.

Blaize with my husband Charles (not found in the small adds!) at Stackhouse Cove

Blaize at Stackhouse Cove - his favourite walk, particularly with a picnik
Then the garden path of course. By the year 2000 we had more or less finished renovating the barn - must be time to landscape the courtyards then! For years I pored over the small adds "of interest to gardeners" or perhaps "building materials" looking for granite sets I had always wanted and there they were "Reclaimed granite sets" just as the landscapers were starting to think about paths. They had been pulled out of a house in Newlyn beautiful timeworn pink squares to treasure. We laid them between the car park and the house hugging a courtyard wall on one side and bordering a small herb garden on the other the final peice of our jigsaw. Walking back to the house late last night The circle of lights across Mounts Bay lay before me punctuated by the brighter lights of the ships sheltering from the storm and the moon caught the regular shapes of the granite sets leading my homeward and to the life shaped in the small ads!
The cobbles that lead into the courtyard at Ednvoean Farm

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Images from a guest

This beautiful evocative shot of St Micheal's mount was taken by a guest from the Blue room terrace just as night fell last summer.

.............preceded by a haunting sunset.

Images:- Thank you Mike Mc Nally

Saturday, 7 February 2009

The cats of Ednovean Farm

Over the years, Ednovean Farm has been home to a small family of cats, descended from our original matriarch Mumma Cat.

Mumma Cat was acquired from a local farmer and delivered in a small cardboard box which containing Mumma and her sister Aunty Cat, two tiny silky black kittens

Jessica walking across the old farmyard to what is now our front door at Ednovean Farm

Jessica, Mumma Cat and Maizie Brown outside what is now the Pink room Bathroom window!

Aunty Cat prove too nervous for farm life and went home to Rosudgeon to live with my parents but Mumma Cat thrived here, producing litter after litter of kittens, like Henry Ford, in every colour as long as it was black.

Her first litter was found tucked under the horses haynet in a stable where the Pink room is now and contained Jessica and her brother Boots who also remained here for all of their days.........After her second litter a small operation was called for at the vets, as although I love cats even I had to admit that it was becoming a bit crowded at feeding time and new homes were becoming harder to find.

Occasionally a feral cat would wander in and add to the numbers that stalked the stables and haunted the hay barn, although dear Esso was found as a minute kitten at the bottom of one of our fields as an elderly neighbour who walked to the village each day to collect their daily paper - Well our hedge = our cat and Boots adopted him immediately; the battered old tom teaching the young cat to mouse in his own unsuccessful fashion. A strange sight the battle hardened tom and the feisty young kitten, prowling together, sleeping together and even cleaning each other as an unlikely couple.

Boots our battered old Tom

As we converted the barn into our home the cats looked on with a world weary eye, little did we know they were plotting their next move as Jessica would scale a builders ladder face pinched with determination one rung at a time to examine the top floor. So when we moved in, so did the cats announcing they were "House Cats" now purring loudly.

The cats Jessica, Boots and Esso liked to range about the front door at night soaking up the evening sun and one such evening a very thin, dirty white tom crept up the yard. Sensing a conquest I rushed out with my dish of "Whiskers" the poor cat shook with fear and excitement at the unexpected bounty. Each night he came haughtily through and each night I waited until at last he stayed.

Slowly George made his home with the other cats joining their basking numbers on the terrace. George, the most prolific mouser of them all , he would slink about the farm with the assurance of a tiger with one of the biggest personalities on the farm.

George a big personality photo taken by Mr L of Texas

George and Esso on the newly built Parterre wall

George and Esso who swore they hated each other, early days for our B&B photo supplied by a German guest thank you - I probably wondered where they were.
George in what is now our garden, towards the end of his life
The years went on and the cats faded one by one until the farm was empty and strangely no cat arrived on the doorstep to check out our home. Charles had always wanted a ginger tom so with a few brief phone calls to animal shelters I located Olley at the RSPCA at St Cullum Major. An interview, home check and £40 later Olley was wailing loudly that "road travel was totally unsuitable for a cat" propped in a Cat basket beside our long suffering Lurcher dog, Blaze in the back seat of our battered Volvo making his way to Ednovean Farm. Actually I think the chief sale point for Charles was the sign on the cage saying "Not to be rehomed with another cat"...........and so we became a single cat household!

Olley airing the laundry "not to be rehomed with another cat"
...........and so we became a single cat household