ne’er cast the clout ……

ere May is out, says the old English proverb and goodness, this year it feels like there won’t be much opportunity to cast any clouts (clothes). I am having to keep the woodstove on in the workshop, except yesterday, which was a rare sunny and warm day.

since  that Aprille with his shoures soote/The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote, we have no shortage of water here, in over-flowing water butts and in the ground, although hosepipe bans are still in place, and the ponds still look a little low.

plant life seems to be happy with the rain, although the storm on Sunday knocked buds and new leaves off. migratory birds are back, but the weather subdues them … I hear blackcaps and garden warblers in all the woods (today a black cap perched and performed right in front of me in the green lane) and in the gardens around my house, yesterday I heard whitethroats in the hedges, and last week there was a willow warbler singing in the fringes of Bale wood … I hope he stays. the chiffchaffs have been present since the end of March.

yesterday we made the annual pilgrimage to Bullfer grove to photograph the bluebells

they grow all over the banks of the bridlepath and the hedgerows surrounding the wood, so I assume it is a place where there has been an ancient continuity of woodland. there are wild garlic clumps amongst the oaks at the northern end, but it is the beech trees that encourage bluebells, as they generally keep the woodland floor clear of undergrowth.

a lovely purple-blue mist which photographs rarely do justice to – and a sweet scent, despite the rapeseed fields quite close with their sickly-sweet shit smell.

the heavy rain and wind may have flattened their leaves but the flowers still stand straight and look as if they have another week or so of flowering.

the orchid I noticed last year is still there – two plants – is that more than last year? I must check last year’s blog.

back in the workshop, door open to the sunshine yesterday – not today in the rain and wind – I have been working on new things, and new old. six years ago I made three of these islamic ewer shapes with a four part base and a square foot, and I sold them almost immediately. after that I went on to making three part bases, and finally spherical bases made with press-moulds, but I never felt any of these were as successful as the originals. they are not easy to make – the neck/spout has to be light, or the base collapses; after a few false starts I have a strategy worked out and have five ready for bisque. the two oval dishes are made from the same template as the big new shaped bottles, and are a further development of the circular ones I made in january and february.

then little beakers, which I want for Hatfield. the dark grey clay is a sculptural clay full of molochite grog sold as pizza oven clay. it is okay as long as it hasn’t lost a critical amount of moisture; yesterday I had to wet it repeatedly with a sponge as it dried too quickly … clay doesn’t like that sort of treatment, so the pieces I made were much more cracked than sunday’s efforts. I have studded it with broken up dried porcelain, rolled into the slab.

Dameon Lynn kindly brought me some clay his neighbouring farmer had dug up – it’s fenland clay – riverine – all black with anaerobic life and smelly – black mud just like the saltmarsh, so I am trying it as a slip.

over the off-white stoneware clay …

I brushed it on with a big chinese brush and scratched lines through it. it will be interesting to see how it works out. it fires pale orange at 1000 C; that will darken at stoneware temperature. I will put it on some bits and pieces for glaze tests.

yesterday I was very optimistic and put in four rows of carrot seed, also some more salad greens

I am eating the thinnings of the first lot of salad sowing, in the mini-poly-tunnel. I have another polytunnel for the second lot – partly to discourage the rabbits – I have seen young rabbits in my garden a couple of times …..

here is a bed of love in the mist and cornflowers and a few wildflower annuals

the beauty of bath has all its blossom out, but there are very few insects to pollinate it. yesterday I saw a comma and an orange tip – this time last year orange tips were everywhere, and the jack-in-the-hedge they love had been up tall and flowering for weeks … this year it is not at that stage yet.


  1. I had a look for the Bee orchids that I found last year…the leaves are coming through,so hopefully flowers will follow.It’s quite worrying that we haven’t heard the cuckoo in the village yet,it’s generally heard anytime between the 15th and 22nd April.Swallows have been seen near the river.I did hear a cuckoo when I was near Bintree mill on the 22nd though.

  2. we never hear a cuckoo in Bale these days .. I have heard one at Morston in the last ten years … if habitat for the bird they are parasitic on goes … then you won’t see them any more – never mind the habitat in Africa, which is threatened in the case of many of our summer visitors. I haven’t seen a single swallow yet :((

Leave a Reply to Sue from Brampton Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.