Jersey Lavender farm

In July we were on holiday in Jersey, and visited the Jersey Lavender farm.
2014-07-16 Jersey lavender farm

It’s a lovely wee farm, where they grow their own lavender and several other plants, and produce their own lavender products – oils, soaps, biscuits and fudge, and other such delights.
2014-07-16 Jersey lavender farm

As it was summer the lavender flowers were in bloom – some even almost on their way out, as it had been an early summer. Harvest was in full swing.
2014-07-16 Jersey lavender farm

In the summer they also organise talks about the farm, the growing, harvesting, and distilling process, and how they make their products. It was very interesting – I never knew there were so many species and varieties of lavender, plus the hybrid Lavandins. The Jersey Lavender blog has a good post on the difference between lavandula and lavendin.
2014-07-16 Jersey lavender farm

Here are some of the varieties grown and used in products.

Lavandula x intermedia “Grosso”
2014-07-16 Jersey lavender farm

Lavandula angustifolia “Elizabeth” which was bred in this farm.
2014-07-16 Jersey lavender farm

And some of the other varieties in their ‘exhibition’ collection.

Lavandula angustifolia “Miss Katherine”
2014-07-16 Jersey lavender farm

Lavandula angustifolia “Fring Favourite”
2014-07-16 Jersey lavender farm

Lavandula x intermedia “Edelweiss”
2014-07-16 Jersey lavender farm

Lavandula viridis
2014-07-16 Jersey lavender farm

Lavandula canariensis (from the Canary Islands)
2014-07-16 Jersey lavender farm

It never occurred to me, until I saw this big hedge of rosemary at the farm, that lavender and rosemary are related, but it seems so obvious now. They’re both part of the big Lamiaceae herb family, which also includes mint, basil, sage, thyme, oregano, bugle plant (which does well in my garden), and also teak!
2014-07-16 Jersey lavender farm

Meanwhile, back in Aberdeen, we’d attempted to grow Munstead lavender and Hidcote lavender, and it was the Hidcote that managed to do fairly well. I do like it’s little rounded buds and deep purple colour.
2014-09-13 Hidcote lavender

Lovely, lovely lavender
2014-07-16 Jersey lavender farm

Alpaca farm

I’d heard that there were alpaca farms around Aberdeenshire, but then I found out that someone I know has family who manage a farm right in Balmedie. So of course my knitting group arranged a visit, and just in time, as the alpacas were due their annual shear the following weekend.

2014-06-22 Alpaca farm

They’re so cute, like giant Ewoks. There are about 40 alpacas on this farm.
2014-06-22 Alpaca farm

Alpacas and llamas are related, but they’re quite different. Alpacas are smaller, friendlier, and have softer fur. They’re bred for their fibre, whereas llamas are bigger and stronger, and are bred as pack animals. The alpacas we met were a little shy at first, but very friendly. We gave the mummies and babies some space, but the rest were perfectly happy to be stroked, and they were all very affectionate with their owner.
2014-06-22 Alpaca farm

2014-06-22 Alpaca farm

Here are the boys, coming to see what all the fuss is.
2014-06-22 Alpaca farm

Three amigos.
2014-06-22 Alpaca farm

This dude was a right charmer.
2014-06-22 Alpaca farm

There were some sheep as well,
2014-06-22 Alpaca farm

and some piggies – we gave them lots of attention too so they wouldn’t feel left out.
2014-06-22 Alpaca farm

And here is the newest little cria (the proper term for baby alpaca), already an inquisitive one.
2014-06-22 Alpaca farm

Mabel, the alpacas’ ‘mummy’, very kindly showed us round, and told us all about her lovely pets – she enjoyed having knitters round, who were so enthralled by her alpacas and their beautiful fur. She also very very generously gave me a big bag of fibre!
2014-06-22 Alpaca farm

I’m very touched and thrilled to have it, but I’m also a little apprehensive – it’s so pretty and precious, but I’ve never spun anything other than combed top with my little drop spindle. At some point I will attempt to spin some of this, at least just to show Mabel, but I shall also try and get in touch with some local spinners as I’m happy to pass some of this on to someone who knows what they’re doing!

Aside from fibre, Mabel also had some yarn that she got spun up. She’s not really been selling these, but we managed to twist her arm and we all bought several balls!
I came away with a ball of aran, which was from a mixed lot of fibre, and 2 balls of DK, which named the alpacas they were from, whom we’d met today – how lovely!
2014-06-22 Alpaca farm

I’ve done something with my yarn at least – I’ve been using the aran to make some of these little wedding crochet hearts.
2014-04-07 Alpaca hearts

100 Happy days: Final week

This pretty orchid was a gift in 2012. It flowered again last year, and it’s back in beautiful bloom this year.

When we visited an alpaca farm a few weeks ago we also bought some yarn which came from the fibre of some of the animals we met. Lex has gotten started on some lovely alpaca socks.

The petit pois are almost ready!

I’ve been crocheting wee hearts, and here’s a look at the ones I’ve made so far. I’m not sure what exactly I’m doing with them yet, but they’ll feature somewhere in our wedding. And what a nice ending to this series: happy hearts.

So that’s it, 100 days of pointing out things that make me happy. It wasn’t easy, but it was still good fun. The most difficult part was remembering to take a photo of something while enjoying the moment, although some days it was difficult deciding which photo to use! So it’s something I think I’ll try and keep up – just thinking about little things that make me happy and appreciating them, and tweeting happy photos every so often, just because :)

100 Happy days: Week 14

It was Jema and James’ wedding today – the day was just brilliant, and we’re so very happy for them!

It’s great being on holiday, but there’s always something special about going home.

Our little fish babies are getting bigger and bigger. Previously you could hardly see the little guppies, but now you can see them and their developing colours pretty clearly, especially this yellow one.

The rose bush in our back garden is in full bloom now, showing off its beautiful pink flowers.

A wee nod to the 4th of July, with good old pizzas, and a stuffed crust one, no less.

Gareth made up a lovely dessert – strawberry jelly and strawberry mascarpone cream on shortbread.

A tiring but successful afternoon in the garden, with a fine harvest of Chard Bright Lights for dinner.

100 Happy days: Week 13

The delphiniums have done really well this year, turning out tall and straight, and I particularly love this purply blue shade.

Just finished Neil Gaiman’s Stardust. I loved the movie, and I love the book even more. One of the main characters is a beautiful star (as in, from the sky), who is also grumpy and swears. That probably sums up why Neil Gaiman is one of my favourite authors.

I was away on a work trip to Newcastle, and we stayed just across from St. James’ Park (Newcastle football grounds). That’s was just coincidence – we didn’t go inside, but it was exciting to be up close to it.

In Newcastle we had a work team-building event, which included a day of orienteering and challenges in Chopwell Wood. The wood was beautiful and tranquil (apart from the mad bunch of us running around in it), and one of my favourite specimens was this little orchid.

Back home, and tucking into seafood paella – One of our favourites from Markies, which is yummy despite conveniently taking 7 minutes in the microwave!

Here we are in Belfast, meeting up with my friend Jema, whom I hadn’t seen in years! We also got to meet her charming husband-to-be, and a couple of other uni friends.

We visited Belfast Zoo, and I nearly died from the cuteness of these little piglets. It’s not a great photo as it’s from my mobile, but trust me they are the cutest piglets ever – Visayan Warty Pig.