Happy Fall!



Last time I wrote I was waiting for Spring!  Well, Spring arrived at long last and quickly turned into the hottest, wettest, most humid summer I can ever remember.  By the end of July I was tired of the heat and started wishing for Fall.  But like Spring, Fall (or Autumn as it is called in most of the English speaking world) was noticeably late this year.  Summer stretched into September…and beyond!

But time passes and as we turned our calendars to October there was a change.  Cooler air at last!  It was still a bit wet,  but so refreshing!  The trees have at last begun to put on their Fall colors….though they are still a bit yellow.  I am hoping the reds and oranges will appear as the the nights grow colder.  We have still not had a frost.

But the pumpkins and mums are out!  My favorite thing!  It was the beauty of pumpkins and mums in the Fall that first inspired me to start this blog….so many years ago.  Of course I have been busy with Fall decorations.

3CA01638-55DD-4FA2-9DE5-513006890CB6The window boxes got their usual pumpkins, gourds and Indian corn.

AA673448-E2D6-4767-B5D2-EEA042E4F2CECluckingham Palace was also decorated.

8DF3CE97-C743-4C89-BA41-1AD40BB13646The vinca from the summer is still happy so I left it.  The green is nice with the colors of Fall.

1326664E-DB28-46FB-8286-FC7C265ED3F7Mums by the bench are stunning.

But there is much of summer still in the gardens.  The Nasturtiums continue to bloom brightly in the gardens..


…and in the greenhouse.

BE341233-35B0-4850-818B-85EC64A8305BJust gorgeous!

The zinnias and marigolds are still happy as well.




The sedum is having its moment.


930F160F-BB68-41AF-9238-E960AEA0AF55 Striking beside the white birdbath.

And of course the ever faithful alyssum..

BEC4FA82-87B3-4CAF-BE86-7280B3DD1CC9…continues to brighten its corner of the garden.

There are even a few snapdragons and salvia left.


And much to my delight..

18F9A302-335E-48B5-BB9E-CAFBB11D6BED…..the roses, a new addition this year, have almost reached the top of the arch.

As you can see, while Fall has arrived,  the gardens are far from done!

A frost is expected later in the week, so things will change soon.  But for now there is much to enjoy!

I have more to show you….I have been busy in Cluckingham Palace as well as in the house, and I have some sad news to share,  but it will have to wait as this blog grows too long!

I hope you are all having a wonderful Fall!












Posted in Autumn, Gardens, Nature | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Spring? Anyone seen Spring?


So it snowed today.  No accumulation…just snowflakes floating down all morning.  Sigh.  It is gray and raw and very unSpringlike and it is April!  A few brave little green sprouts are emerging but I haven’t even raked out the beds.  It feels too cold to remove their winter bedding.  We really could use a bit of color!

I took a quick walk around the gardens this afternoon when the snow stopped.  There is NOT much going on!

IMG_0046This lone primrose is struggling to open.

IMG_0048These two, in a sunnier location, are a bit farther along.

IMG_0049This Mrs Mooney pulmonaria is braving the cold….though cautiously.

It seems April is continuing the Lion days of March….

IMG_0052The garlic is just starting to emerge.

IMG_0057 Even the crocuses are slow to appear.   Where is Spring?

IMG_0051The daffodils have begun but no blooms yet.  

Thankfully the heather doesn’t mind the cold.

IMG_0055It’s vibrant pink is a very welcome sight!

IMG_0054As is this lighter pink one.

IMG_0058Heather is a beautiful plant. Its early blossoms are usually a feast for the awakening bees…but I haven’t seen amy bees yet….

IMG_0041The girls are trying to make the best of it.  I gave them some parsley and they were thrilled to have it.  It has been a long winter.

Merlin is upstairs most of the time now as long as he can get up and away from Fiona….who just wants him to PLAY!!  He too is waiting for a sunny window to sit in….

Fiona is the only one who is not impatient for Spring.  

She is loving her walks in the woods.

IMG_0013She even ran into her Aunt Sunny the other day.  We had never met her before but we commented on how much they look alike..found out Sunny was a Willow Wind pup like Fiona (and Fergus) and then discovered that Sunny is Topsy’s sister.  Topsy was Fiona’s mom.  and so Fiona’s Aunt.  Small world!

IMG_0015They has a wonderful time chasing each other and finding sticks to chew on.  (Notice there is still some snow on the ground in the woods!)

So it is not all bad and we are keeping busy while we wait and wait and WAIT for Spring to arrive…and for life to return…

Thankfully my inside primroses are still quite happy.


They continue to flower and to bring  much cheer.

IMG_0060I will plant them outside at some point….but not yet.

And look what else has started to bloom!

IMG_0062I brought last summer’s geraniums in for the winter….and just a few weeks ago, they started to bloom….a welcome sight indeed!

And perhaps..just perhaps, a sign that Spring is on the way!

Posted in Brookwood Shire, Fiona, Gardens, Nature, Spring | Tagged , | 3 Comments

The Tradition Goes On

Many of you who follow this blog may remember that in early March of 2014, our dog Fergus was diagnosed with spleen cancer.  His future was very uncertain and I wondered if he would see another St.Patrick’s Day.

IMG_0796He did.  Here he is in 2014 with his lovely St.Patrick’s Day scarf.    After St.Patrick’s Day, I carefully put his scarf away and wondered if he would wear it again.  He did.  In 2015 and in 2016.  But sadly, in June of 2016, we lost Fergus.

We had our adventures in Ireland, and returned in Spring of 2017.

Fiona arrived in May.  

imageTime has gone quickly and now it is March again.

Today, Fiona proudly wore her great uncle Fergus’ scarf.


She had a lovely walk in the woods.

17C566F2-0812-4D83-9EAA-F9812B37A23FE7D465E4-A039-41FF-B116-E2E945D8FEEFA30BD03D-7E3C-44EF-AF63-2118DBE2C47E2A163F93-6FB6-4A02-86BD-7C153841DE5AIt was a grand day.

The tradition goes on…

Happy St.Patrick’s Day!



Posted in Nature | 3 Comments

Some Good News

Hello and Happy New Year!  

IMG_7670The bitter cold weather that had descended upon us in mid December seems to be gone and we are having  more typical winter weather.  It is a relief to be sure….it was just TOO cold!  But is is still a long way until Spring so, as usual, I have filled the house with cheery primroses!  

IMG_7675They are a reminder that Spring will return and the gardens will again be filled with color.

IMG_7674These little daffodils will have to do until Spring arrives outside.  Last year at this time we were in Ireland and daffodils were up…not blooming  yet, but up.  But here in New England everything sleeps beneath the snow….it will be months before the daffodils emerge.

IMG_7663Merlin has called a truce and come upstairs.  The cellar was too cold and he missed his heater.  Fiona is VERY excited to see him upstairs…but of course he still won’t play with her.   She chases him and he leaves.  No fun at all!

IMG_7666 So she chews on her toys by the fire…

She is also busy with her rehab exercises.  As you may remember, she injured her knee a few months ago.  Surgery was recommended but not until her growth plates close which would take a few months.  So she doesn’t lose all the muscle mass in the injured leg while she waits,  she has PT exercise to do.

IMG_7679We call the blue circle thing the “cookie machine.”  She steps on it with her front feet and you wave a cookie around so she keeps shifting her weight on the back legs.  It keeps the injured leg engaged.  But as far as Fiona is concerned, the purpose of putting your feet on it is to produce cookies.  She loves it and never misses an opportunity to get a cookie.  The black dish is similar..front feet on it and she pivots around it with her back feet.  And another cookie is produced.  How wonderful!

IMG_7677These are cavellettis.   The bar is adjustable and she has to walk through, stepping over the bars and using each foot…no cheating and not using the lame leg.  The first hole (6″) was nothing but the second hole (9″) is challenging.  But she has been practicing and cookies are given so it is all good.

Today she went to the Vet to have more X rays to see if her growth plates have closed and to see how the knee looks.  She has been doing so well in rehab and shows no signs of lameness that I have been hoping that the knee has healed.

And perhaps it has.  The X-rays showed no fluid (which would indicate inflammation and a compromised ACL ligament.)  The little bump that indicated she had pulled the ligament away from the bone, is gone.   You can’t see the actual ligament on the X-ray so nothing is certain.  But surgery may not be needed.  If the ligament has reattached to the bone and healed, it should be secure..and she should be fine.  Unless it is not lined up right and it causes the ligament to tear.  That is what isn’t clear.  But her growth plates have closed and her muscle mass is good in both legs.  So we will continue with the rehab exercises AND she can have a longer leash for walks…and romp a bit.  We shall see how is goes but we are cautiously optimistic that we are on the road to recovery…she may not need surgery after all!!!  Such good news!!!

IMG_7676Fiona is tired after her big morning (and some sedation for the X-rays) but it won’t be long until she is herself again and ready for some fun!


Posted in Fiona, Nature, New England Weather, Winter | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Winter Has Arrived

Winter, it appears, has arrived at Brookwood Shire…bringing snow, ice, frigid temperatures, grey skies and dark days.  A big change after the mild Fall we had,   and not my favorite season.  It is always a bit of a shock.

Luckily, most of our winter preparations were made before the really bitter cold came.

IMG_7585Our bird feeders are up and ready for hungry birds and squirrels  who may come by.

IMG_7594I have added straw to the big run…

IMG_7598…and to the little run.  It gives the girls something to do and it is a bit of insulation from the frozen ground.

IMG_7600The nesting boxes got more straw as well.  As you can see, Lucinda is now laying.  So far only Rowena and Lucinda are laying but I think Marigold is thinking about it….or was before it got so cold.  We shall see how it goes.

Since it is so cold outside, I have been focusing on the inside…time to make it all a bit festive.  My lovely neighbor had an abundance of holly from her holly bush and generously shared with everyone, so I had lots of holly in addition to my usual greens and winterberry.

IMG_7560The mantle looks so warm and welcoming with the holly, greens and candles.

The kitchen is also very festive…..

IMG_7569The fridge is even cuter with a bit of holly.

IMG_7570The shelf above the fridge.

IMG_7579Another shelf, above the coffee area.  You can see I have hung the measuring spoons that I got for the Irish cottage.  Nice to have a place for them here as well.

I redid the coffee area with Christmas dishes.

IMG_7606And I used the chicken canisters from Ireland.  

IMG_7607The shelves and cabinet together.

IMG_7571More holly by the sink.

And some on the island.

IMG_7545 Light for the dark days of winter.



And look who has decided it is too cold in the cellar.

IMG_7575He still hates Fiona but has figured out when she is asleep or in her crate and comes upstairs then.

IMG_7584He still loves “his” heater under the little cabinet in the kitchen and spends as much time as he can there.

IMG_7592Fiona still can’t understand why he won’t play with her.  Here  she is looking very grown up and dignified..Notice she has taken over “his” chair in the sun.

So despite the dark and the cold, Brookwood Shire is cozy and warm….and everyone is settling in.



Posted in Brookwood Shire, holiday greens, Merlin, Merlin, Winter | 4 Comments

The Kitchen So Far

As I mentioned awhile ago, we are planning to do some work on our kitchen.  I have wanted a cottage kitchen for as long as I can remember.  I had thought I would have one in Ireland…but that didn’t work out.  So I am determined to create one here  at Brookwood Shire.  I have lots of ideas and some sense of what it will look like when it is done, but it remains a work in progress.  


Given that Fiona is still supposed to be resting while she waits for her growth plates to close so she can have her knee surgery, it is not a good time to totally disrupt the house.  So most of the work will have to wait.  But I am doing some small things.

IMG_7457I have reorganized the cabinets….eventually these will be shelves  and I am trying to decide what will go where.  I also got this bread box.  I love it and it holds a LOT of bread!

IMG_7459I put the blue willow dishes in this cabinet.  I am thinking I may like to put them in some sort of plate rack eventually, though I am happy with how they look here (imagine no verticals).  As I said, a work in progress.

IMG_7460The china cabinet will become a pantry.  I have started it.  It needs more shelves but I think it will be fine.

IMG_7465I created a little coffee area where the flour used to be.  I was able to use some of the things from the Irish kitchen so that is nice.

IMG_7468I have been looking for a new kettle for awhile.  Our old cast iron one died before we went to Ireland and we were using an old camping kettle in the mean time.  But now we are home and we need a proper kettle.  I spotted this one online.  A chicken design seems  perfect for my cottage kitchen.

IMG_7471We have had this refrigerator for almost 20 years and I have hated it the entire time.  It is too big for our kitchen and looms large over everything.  And we don’t need that much refrigerator space.  In Ireland we had a small under the counter fridge and it was fine.  I wanted to find something smaller..and frankly..something cuter.  And I did.  I was able to find a fridge just like the one that was in the thatched cottage in Ireland that we wanted to buy…. How wonderful is that?!


IMG_7498In preparation for its arrival, we took the doors off the cabinet above the fridge.  With a smaller fridge I would actually be able to use that space for something.

IMG_7501I painted it white and put a few things inside.  The new refrigerator is much shorter so the things on top of it will be below the shelf.

IMG_7507We moved the big fridge outside.  Mass Save will come and collect it next week.    I think it looks better already…

IMG_7509Our new refrigerator was delivered today.

IMG_7510Here it is as we were unboxing it.  It took awhile to set it up.  All the shelves are adjustable and had to be arranged.  And it had to be leveled…and plugged in.  Isn’t it beautiful?

IMG_7514Here it is installed.  Lots of room on either side.  I can easily reach things on top and the cabinet behind it, which has been basically useless for years, is now visible.

IMG_7515Plenty of room inside.

IMG_7516More storage on the door.  It will be fine.  The freezer is small but we have a freezer in the cellar as well so that is not a problem.

IMG_7519I just love it!

Posted in cottage kitchen, house projects | 7 Comments

Bumps in the Road

It has been such a long time since I have been able to write.  Part of that is due to having too many projects, but part of it is because, while Fergus was quite content to nap quietly as I blogged, Fiona is not.  She is a busy girl and sees no purpose to computers.  I must say she has a point, but  so much has happened in the last few months (has it been that long?!) that I want to fill you all in.

IMG_7197First, I am very sorry to say that we lost Prudence at the end of October.  She had been doing remarkably well after her diagnosis in April.  She had a lovely summer and enjoyed watching the chicks grow.  She never let them get near her food, but she liked being with them.  Then last week she took a very sudden turn for the worse.  I brought her in the house for the colder evenings, and she spent a few days basking in the warmth of the greenhouse.

IMG_7356I  set up a pen so she and Beatrix could spend some time together outside.

IMG_7349They enjoyed a bit of grass and sunshine….and of course worms.  

But after a few days Prudence decided that even this was too much.  She passed peacefully…I was with her.  It was so hard to see her go, but she was ready.  I like to think she is with her beloved Amber now..somewhere..free ranging with no hawks to worry about..and having adventures.  She was a very special girl…challenging in many ways…never willing to share food and earning the name “Houdini Hen” because of her ability to escape.  She will be sorely missed.

IMG_7386That leaves Beatrix as the sole defender of Cluckingham Palace.  At least that is how she sees it.

IMG_7385She decides if the “invaders” are allowed in or not!  They remain respectful of her..she is now the Queen of Cluckingham Palace after all..but there really is plenty room for everyone.

IMG_7381On a happier note, Rowena laid an egg!  She has been laying for almost a week now.  So far she is the only one, but I expect the others to lay soon.

IMG_7410Her eggs are still small…as she is young..but they get bigger every day and will soon be as big as Beatrix’s.  

IMG_7392I have begun winterizing the coop.  It is still remarkably mild for November but there have been a few cold nights.  I am also harvesting the last of the herbs and hanging them.  

IMG_7399Some are hanging in the storage side of the coop.

IMG_7395But most are in the coop.  I love the way they look and they small so nice.

IMG_7387I hung fresh lavender near the nesting box it is supposed to be calming.  And that is pineapple sage below.  It really does smell like pineapple!

I did my usual Fall decorating with pumpkins and mums…and they were beautiful…though the hungry chipmunks and squirrels have been busy feasting on them..and the mums have now faded to brown.  Soon I will cut them back and save the remaining pumpkins for treats for the girls.


Fiona has had a very rough couple of months as well.  It started in late September with what we thought was a groin injury.  She had to have leash walks only for a few days and seemed to be improving.  But then she began limping again.  We rested her completely for a week (NOT easy with a puppy) and she improved.  A few more weeks of leash walks and she was looking good.  She got the OK from the Vet to have a bit of time off leash time last week.  We were all very relieved and happy to be out in the woods again.  But after only one off leash walk she was limping again!  So X-rays were taken.  They showed fluid in her knee and indicate an ACL injury.  Very bad news.  She will likely need surgery to repair the knee BUT she is still growing.  They won’t do the surgery until her growth plates close which is at least two months away!  She can have short leash walks but no playing..no running or romping… She is not a happy girl.  

She has been consoling herself with chewies.

IMG_7308And watching the squirrels outside.

IMG_7315She even has a new harness to for walks..but she is not thrilled with it.  She wants to PLAY!!!!!

It will be a long winter I am afraid…and romping in the snow may have to wait until next year.  But there is not much to be done.  She will go to PT on Wed and be given some exercises..something to do!  Hopefully that will help.  And we will get through it all…

There are always bumps in the road…we have apparently hit a few…but the journey continues.  And you never know what might be around the next bend.


Posted in Autumn, Brookwood Shire, Cluckingham Palace, Hens, Nature | 2 Comments