The moments of sunshine appear in and out of showers in these end of summer days, as I notice the bees nipping in and out of the fading flowers for every last dusting of pollen.
With the cooling of the summer’s warmth, is it my imagination that the bees’ furry coat becomes fuller?
We spent the last week of summer visiting John’s family in Hereford where the round bales of hay were being rolled in the fields and the trees were showing the first tinges of autumn.
I’ve always liked the autumn and winter months, perhaps because I was born in the winter. At the same time there is also a feeling of sadness as summer ends.
My grandad used to call it ‘the ebb time’. I feel the retreating evening warmth in the buzzing of the bees and watching them eagerly gathering every last flowerful of nectar from the Japanese anemones in the garden.
This year it’s different because I see the summer sunshine in my bees’ honey. I can appreciate the hard work of summer’s end and enjoy the beginning of autumn as we take the harvest and prepare the hives for the winter.
In Hereford I saw the richness of the harvest in the fruits of the fields as we picked blackberries, plums and apples for pie and crumble.
The cows were watching as we filled up tubs with fat juicy blackberries from the hedgerows. They (the cows) were inquisitive, said John’s mum. So was The Gruffalo, the magnificent new bull, but he got fresh hay, not blackberries, for supper and enjoyed his nose being scratched.
After the bank holiday’s rain had passed, we drove ‘abroad’ to Wales to view the impressive Victorian dams set in the beautiful Elan Valley in Rhayader. The country is always changing in Wales. It’s stunning.
A visit to the Elan Valley “never fails to delight and inspire” says the information at the visitor centre. I could imagine that living here would inspire creativity to flow from every pore.
There is a feeling of spending time in nature that I can only describe as contentment.
We met a friend of mine for lunch by Hereford cathedral and he put into words exactly what I felt. In London there is everything to do and no time to do it. Here, there is a lot to do and more time to do it. While being on holiday puts everything in a romantic light, I could easily imagine swapping city life for living in the country.
On the farm John’s dad brought home a bunch of hops and asked if I knew what they were. I didn’t.
He also found a dead grass snake in the corn field to bring back for show-and-tell. We laid him to rest behind a tree in the garden.
The last day of summer was the best day with deep blue skies and golden sunshine. I sat on the back of the bike as John cycled from the cottage to the farm house, listening to the birds and bees and watching the cats preen lazily in the yards.
We enjoyed a full roast dinner before saying our goodbyes and driving back to London. John took the very scenic route through Gloucester and Burford in the Cotswolds, and we eventually arrived home just before sunset. Our small London flat smelt of the honey that had been slowly dripping from frames hanging over a container for a week. Patience and perseverance has paid off, I may be able to return wet supers with drawn comb to the hive to give the bees a head start in spring.
Autumn is now here and as the sun rises lower in the skies so the afternoon shadows stretch longer and further, and the days grow shorter. My kitchen is overflowing with summer’s bounty of apples, plums and honey ready to make honeyed fruit crumbles and pies. Winter is coming so I’ll leave this memory of a playful calf frolicking at summer’s end.
Reblogged this on Linda's wildlife garden and commented:
Thank you for sharing have a blessed day
Thank you Linda, I hope that you’ve also had a lovely summer.
Lovely reading. Thank you.
Thank you Rachel, it was a wonderful time.
I see the end of summer all about me. The birds and foxes have totally abandoned my neighbourhood for the countryside since autumn is so abundant.
The birds and foxes have more sense than us! I do love autumn though and I’m looking forward to my favourite equinox.
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful. Thanks for sharing your trip!
Thank you, we had such a lovely time and I realised again that the UK is a beautiful country even when it rains a bit.
How beautifully put, I actually feel like I’ve had a holiday in Hereford. Next time you find yourselves in Burford stop for a cup of tea and a piece of lardy cake, it will remind you of the last days of school summer holidays when you were small, or smaller, when we used to take a picnic to Ruislip Lido. Anyway, I digress.
All of your photos are lovely, each in their different ways. I particularly like the Japanese anemone and the lone sheep.
Your kitchen sounds very inviting too at the moment, full of harvested goodies. Bring on the crumbles, that’s what Bryan says!
It’s a lovely part of the world. We’d like to visit The Pudding Club in the Cotswolds where each room is decorated like a pudding!
I’ll try to make a crumble one evening this week 🙂
It is so interesting seeing the beautiful Hereford countryside as I have never been there. It looked like a great place to keep bees with all that lovely heather around! Amelia
I have been teasing John about keeping a hive in a garden there, although it really would be nice to have a hive near all that heather and wild flowers. Hereford is such a lovely place too.
Feel like I was right there with you. Can see some of these photos looking good in a future Ealing beekeepers newsletter.
Imagine Ealing beekeepers in such a beautiful setting – we’d be too busy admiring the countryside to drink tea and eat cake!
Omg. I did the apple and blackberry picking thing recently too and have a crumble on the go which is beyond tasty. Fruit you’ve picked yourself is on a whole new level of fruit.
Being followed by cows also takes fruit picking to a whole new level!
Some great photos – I wish I could take such artistic ones
Hi Simon, I’m just using my iPhone (and John’s Samsung phone) to take pictures with Instagram as it’s been such a busy summer, and only a few of these are taken on my Canon camera. It’s easy to take artistic photos in such a pretty place (and with a little help from Instagram) – I bet you could take some lovely artistic shots of insects!
Loved this post. Hereford looks wonderful! I need to visit it next time that I am in England. Might be soon!
Yes it’s so lovely! We went to Cheltenham also for the day (shopping) which is another pretty town. When are you in England?
It will be next year. My twin sister is going in October to Cornwall and then taking the train up to the lake country (Hilltop) and York. I am very envious!
You must go! I went on holiday to Paris with my sister – it was so much fun – and Cornwall is so beautiful too. Enjoy!
Everyone of those photos could make a great jigsaw puzzle. Very beautiful. I looked at MapQuest. It looks like Hereford is a mere three hours from London. I’m a grandparent…I’d love to have my kids and grandkids living closer to me, someone to help out on the farm (if I had one). Hmmm, where am I going with this?
That’s a lovely idea (for jigsaws and farms). I don’t know much about farming except its 24/7 hard work but I would like to have an apiary there! Why not get the kids and grandkids to help out with that?
It makes perfect sense!
How are you getting on extracting that thick honey? It sounds like you’ve nearly done it.
Well, I’m not sure this is in the books but I came up with my own method of extracting the honey that wouldn’t come out in an extractor.
I capped all the frames one night after work and left the wax cappings in a bucket to use later. Then I placed all the frames to hang over a plastic storage box that’s about as wide as a super.
The box of dripping frames is now on my kitchen work surface above the washing machine / dryer. The warmth in the kitchen may be helping some and, I hope, the vibrations from the washing machine, which is on most nights, because I’m a clean freak!
The frames have been hanging and dripping for two weeks and about half the honey has dripped out now. But it is very slow. I’ve thought of a way to finally get it all out without damaging the comb so that the bees have supers with honeycomb for a headstart next year. I’ll reveal that, if it works, in my next post.
Wow, that’s clever but still sounds like a lot of work. What a shame the extractor didn’t work.
It’s a shame as Bob used that extractor for years to spin his honey and it was so lovely of him to give it to me. I’ve yet to repay his generous gift with any honey spun out! I’ve a strong feeling that it’s the type of forage our bees are getting and not the extractor, the temperature or technique that is making the honey difficult to extract. We had exactly the same problem when we took the honey off the same hive three years ago and tried to extract same day. And that was a warm summer’s day.
A perfect way to end the summer… what a lovely trip. Nice blackberries too. RH
Thank you RH, it was and a perfect start to my favourite season. With all the fruit in the kitchen, big spiders hanging outside the window and chilly misty mornings creeping in, it really feels cliched autumnal!
Forgot to add a thanks for the WWT London tip – we’ll be making some trips there in autumn 🙂
Do you know what the bees could be eating?
A few ideas although the characteristics of the honey don’t fit with two of the likely suspects to cause viscous honey: rapeseed and heather. Rapeseed is said to be quite gritty and granulates, this honey is not gritty and is not granulating easily (I’ve tested some in the fridge), and heather honey is darker in colour with a bitter aftertaste, while our honey is very light with a sweet even tone. I wonder if there could be a percentage of ivy as everything is early this year, but that is said to be bitter and granulating also. So far a mystery.
I hope you find it out!
I will! 🙂
And yes, a pot of honey is reserved!
I particularly liked the photos where the countryside seemed to be painted with heather!
That’s a lovely way of putting it – the purple haze was so beautiful it was almost like a mirage.
Wonderful photos and such a contrast to the parched brown of Texas right now. What a lovely way to end the summer.
Thank you though you make Texas sound pretty too, and I wouldn’t mind swapping some of our rain for your sunshine next year 🙂