Summer time

Summer time

As the hot summer weather and harvest at Slamseys continues, it’s time to pop out with the camera and take some photographs for our Visual Journal.

2018 Harvest tractor waiting in yard

Tractors and trailers are bringing back the grain from the fields to tip into the grainstore.


2018 Harvest straw bales in Grove Field

After combining, the straw is baled up and will soon be carted away.


2018 hot summer horses in paddock

The horses lurk under the shade of the oak trees for most of the day.


raspberries for slamseys gin

The autumn raspberries have just started to ripen and will be picked for Slamseys Raspberry Gin.


ducks by the pond in summer

If I were a duck, I think I’d stay in the pond.




Lately, we have had a spell of hot, sunny days. Lovely as it it to wake each day to a cloudless sky, we need some rain as there was none at all in June and the crops are suffering. Talk amongst the farmers at a party yesterday was that it will deluge just before harvest thereby giving the double whammy of poor yields that deteriorate further in the wet conditions. Pessimism or statistical realism?


Giant dog made from recycled cardboard, fabric and wooden pallet

Lately, there has been a giant dog sitting outside The Barley Barn. It’s an artistic interpretation of recycling and makes an interesting seating place. The bonus of the dry spell is that the giant dog has been evicted from the office, where it took up far too much room as it waited to be dragged out to installed in its current position.


Discussing a print in the printmaking barn at Slamseys

Lately, I have persuaded Ruth to contribute to Slamseys Journal. During the past year, Ruth has asked me several times to write about printmaking but I’ve largely ignored her and instead wittered on about rosehips and rose petals. This is entirely understandable, as I can easily reel off six things you can do with rose petals but am rather vague about making two colour screen prints, but it’s rather frustrating for Ruth.


Mud spattered boots in front of door

Lately, I have resurrected the Life in Mud Spattered Boots blog so that I have somewhere to write about random things that don’t quite fit in here.


Slamseys pond in summer

Lately a dip in the pond looks more enticing with every sun filled day. However, whenever Morris the fox terrier has taken a swim (which he has done several times recently) his progress has been marked by swirls of black mud. I suspect that there’s only a couple of feet of water above a deep muddy sludge, which is far from tempting.

Stop and Smell the Roses

Stop and Smell the Roses


Sometimes, it seems that everybody is in a rush. They have too much to do and not enough time to do it. Busy, busy, busy. Ask someone how they are and the default answer is “Busy”.  Interestingly, the follow up question of “Busy doing what?” sometimes reveals that they’re just busy being busy.

But judging by Instagram (which is of course real life isn’t it?) there’s a sense that people are slowing down to find time for the things that are important in their lives. Taking time to stop and smell the roses. Being creative, making and doing. Lingering for five minutes over a cup of coffee. Arranging flowers. General faffing. Trying to make the world a better place.

We’ve been taking time out too.

Stopping to smell the roses

Generous Gardener Rose with colours picked out below

We have literally been stopping to smell the roses and admire their beauty (and pick them to make Rose Petal Posset). This rose is full of promise, poised to burst into flower and I love this colour combination.

Trying to be greener

rusting barrel under walnut tree in grassy area

We’re lucky that the printmaking space is in a beautiful old barn and lunch breaks can be spent by the pond or wandering down the fields, which adds to the enjoyment of the day and gives a chance for reflection and inspiration amongst nature.

We’re trying to make our printmaking space environmentally friendly but it’s a steady process and a balance between our commitment and student expectation.

Nearly all our inks are water soluble, which means we don’t need to clean with solvents but that can make a difference to the finished prints. Our students cut stencils for screen printing rather than use polymer emulsions, which is fine for beginners but experienced printmakers may feel restricted. Our Who Gives a Crap toilet paper and  recycled paper hand towels do the job they’re designed for, but they don’t look or feel luxurious.

Making & Doing

ox eye daisies in meadow with colours picked out below

The ox-eye daisies in the meadow this year have inspired me to have another go at reduction lino printing.

Lino reduction print "mayweed"

Last year, I tried reduction lino printing or suicide lino printing as Ruth likes to describe it and based my print on a sketch I’d done of some mayweed flowers growing next to the henhouse. Making these prints involves cutting and layering colours from a single lino block and it took me quite a lot of head scratching to make sure I cut the right bit at the right time. Read about the proper way to make reduction lino prints here.

Ignoring Ruth’s advice to keep it simple with a two or three colour design and to plan it properly, I waded in with a half-baked plan and five colours. On reflection, five colours was over-ambitious as was the decision to add in extra details half way through the process. It wasn’t a total success, but if it had been, that would be rather disappointing. After all, half the fun of creative projects is giving it a go and working out how to get better. The real sense of achievement comes when you can see how you’ve progressed. Even if you still have a long way to go.

Getting out into the countryside

Gate Farm Open Farm Sunday

To be fair, we do this every day but on 10th June everybody has the chance to go to the countryside and visit a UK farm. We’re not hosting this year, so for a change we can be visitors at someone else’s farm. Check out the Open Farm Sunday website for details of a farm near you.




Take a deep breath. And relax.

Instagram might does give us a very curated view of life but there’s no doubt that it doesn’t do any harm to slow down for a few minutes and relish the moment. To relax, be happy and inspired by our surroundings or other people. To actually smell the roses. Though possibly not if you suffer from hay fever.

A Posset of Roses

A Posset of Roses

Generous Gardener Rose

There’s a wonderful feeling of abundance in gardens in early June as the plants burst into flower and everywhere looks green and verdant. Unfortunately, our current garden has no flowers as it’s no more than a rough bit of grass littered with old farm machinery and an expanse of sterile gravel.

We have vague plans for the garden but decided that rather than rush into it, we’re spending a few months taking stock of the space, moving chairs around to find the best places to sit and working out path routes and sight lines. While it’s been rather enjoyable not to spend time weeding, cutting back and dealing with the latest outbreak of disease or insect infestation, it’s made me realise how much I enjoy pretty, sweet smelling flowers and a productive vegetable garden.

Generous Gardener Rose in front of herbaceous border in English country garden

Most of all, I enjoy roses at this time of year, especially my favourite The Generous Gardener that, despite being planted in little more than hoggin (gravel, sand and clay) in my previous garden, climbed vigorously over a rose arch and continues to flower profusely.

I enjoy this rose not just for the look of the pale pink and blowsy flowers but for their delicious fragrance whether smelt as you pass by outside or filling a room inside. Perhaps best of all, I love using rose petals for food and drinks. I can’t stand lavender in food as it reminds me too much of soap, but roses are another matter. Hand me a box of Rose and Violet Cream chocolates and I’m happy. Slamseys Rose Gin? One of my favourite of Beth’s flavours. A jar of rose petal jam? The perfect topping to a fresh scone.

Rose Possett creamy dessert flavoured with fresh rose petals

This weekend, I nipped next door to snip off a rose from the arch, along with some petals from a rugosa rose to make this subtly flavoured Rose Petal Posset. The lemon juice gives a little sharpness to the dessert and brings out the pinkness and flavour of the rose petals. If you’re worried about this tasting too floral (though it doesn’t) add the zest of the lemon to make a Rose & Lemon Posset.

Use any unsprayed scented rose petals and shake the insects from the blooms before you start.

Try it. How can you go wrong with sugar, cream and rose petals?




Creamy rose desserts made with cream and rose petals

2 rose heads
300ml double cream
50g caster sugar
Juice of 1 lemon

Snip the petals from the rose heads into a saucepan. Add the cream and sugar and heat gently to boiling point.

Simmer fairly robustly (more than for stock but less than the rolling boil for jam) for 3 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice.

Leave to stand for ten minutes, which will help the flavour of the rose petals infuse the cream. Letting the cream cool a little should also lessen the chance of cracking your glass.

Strain the cream into four small glasses (you can stretch this to five) and chill for at least four hours.