Category: HABITAT

Our Home Harvest 2016


Our Home Harvest 2016


When we were both still gainfully employed,  😉 it was hard to maintain our fairly long back garden, where the lawn must be mowed, the bushes regularly trimmed, the pond life fed, the garden furniture repaired, etc., the list went on.  We, therefore,  paved over parts of it, but still kept some smaller flower& plant beds and a good size lawn.

A good idea in any size garden is to use plant pots or troughs to grow plants, flowers and vegetables.

Some of the larger pots are fitted with small wheels (like castors) on the base.

This means that we can easily move large plants, such as the tomato plants, to follow the sun as it moves, to maximise exposure to the light and heat.

This spring, and as in previous years, Jean & I decided to try and grow some tomato plants in three of our large pots.  Tomatoes are quite inexpensive and plentifully sold in shops and supermarket during the summer, but growing your own has its own reward.  You can be sure of the freshness and they seem to taste better 🙂




This year’s weather has been mixed in London & SE England.

A rarely frozen and wet winter was followed by rain alternating with hot sunny days in summer, extending well into September. This combination has resulted in a nice crop of tomatoes. some have ripened and hopefully the others will soon as well.

Our two potted small apple trees have produced their ripe fruit nearly a month early this year.

They are ‘Jonagold’ apples, which are sweet and a little bitter to taste but simply delicious.

We found that If you have two potted apple trees, keep them near each other in order to get at least one good crop, this helps cross fertilisation from the bees etc.

We find each year that one tree produces more apples than the other.

However, this year both tree have a lot of apples, thanks to the weather.

our-pear-treeWe have one potted Conference variety pear tree, near the end of the garden, and as with the apple trees we also need to get another one as this lonely tree only produces a pair of pears each year.

Our wild blackberry bush has also produce a bounty of berries this year too!

We wonder if this year’s winter will be cold and wet again. Snow has not fallen to settle on the ground here in nearly the last two years, much to our grandson’s disappointment who is wishing of building a snowman in the garden!

London Sunsets

Sunset over NW London 30 June 2013

Sunset over NW London 30 June 2013

London Sunsets

As I have blogged before, 2014 the English weather up to mid-August has been generally wonderful. Now in early September after a couple of weeks of mainly rainy wet weather we may have an extended hot summer (also called an Indian summer here) with sun and high temperatures for the time of year as Autumn is near.   London sunsets can be amazing whether viewed from tall buildings open grounds etc.
 When I worked at Tintagel House, located along the Albert Embankment SE London, near the Houses of Parliament, the sunset views from our office windows  overlooking  the River Thames and the iconic Battersea Power station in the near distance  were wonderful.
Astronomy is a keen interest of mine, I like to watch the sky day or night!
Jean & I have seen some wonderful sunsets.
One of the best sunsets in the world to witness is over Manila Bay in the Philippines. I had this privilege in 2013.
Sunset over Manila Bay Jan 2013
 Manila Bay The Sunset of sunsets!
The best view we get locally is over the allotment gardens, simply called an allotment, which is a community garden( mainly used to grow vegetables etc), for the neighbourhood to use, especially those with no gardens of their own.
Our local allotment is across the road from where we live.  As no tall buildings are near it, there is quite a wide expanse of western sky to view.
I like looking at clouds and find the many shapes, sizes and colours fascinating.   The best clouds are seen when not a grey leaden cloudy over cast sky with cloud covering all the sky, but the clouds that compete with a blue sky at dawn during the day and at sunset. When I see what looks like a potential scenic sunset, I get my trusty camera and wander across the road and walk down to the allotment.
Sometimes, Jean has come with me when we take our lively and lovely terrier Diesel for his evening walk.  This summer, I have been able to photograph some fantastic sunsets with amazing cloud formations, colours and hues that could have been created by a great artist, in this case Mother Nature herself!  


Through whayt fierce incarnations, furled
In fire and darkness, did I go,
‘Ere I was worthy in the world
To see a dandelion grow?

– G k Chesterton


Photo by Jean Morton

April 2014 032

Dandelion Flower
Photo by Jean Morton

Yellow Dandelion Photo by PH Morton

Yellow Dandelion
Photo by PH Morton

 Dandelion "Clock" By PH Morton

Dandelion “Clock”
By PH Morton

Seeding Dandelion By PH Morton

Seeding Dandelion
By PH Morton

Dandelions are perennial plants, which are treated more like pernicious weeds in British gardens.  Dandelions grow wildly in lawns and pavement cracks.  They can be hard to uproot as they anchor themselves into the ground with unbelievable tenacity.

Dandelion got its name from the French’s dent-de-lion which literally means ‘lion’s teeth.  The lion’s teeth, of course, refers to the shape of dandelion’s serrated leaves (see topmost photo).

Did you know?

The young leaves of dandelions are edible.  They can be eaten as salad sprinkled with some crunchy lardons and croutons.  It is advised to choose the really young leaves before the dandelion flowers start to appear; the more mature leaves tend to be slightly bitter.


Pili Nut Brittle ~Recipe~

Pili Nut brittle, photo by JMorton

Pili Nut brittle, photo by JMorton

In my opinion, Pili nut is the king or queen of all nuts.  Its taste is something that you will appreciate.  It is delicious, it is actually indescribable.  It is buttery and floury with its clean nuttiness, if that make sense! 🙂  Once you have tasted it, it is almost impossible not to be hooked.

We were in Bicol when I had my first taste of pili nuts courtesy of my extraordinarily generous, angelic sister, Marilou.  She said it was delicious and it was.

We bought jars of the pili nuts and loads of pili tarts.  I am afraid I did not really like the pili tarts.  I thought there were not enough pili nuts over a rather tough and chewy dough which doesn’t really taste much as it was rather bland.

Anyway, when I unpacked our luggage from the Philippines, I found a jar of the pili nut.  I tarted eating it while watching back-to-back episodes of The Good Wife.  Well I finished the jar before the second episode of this favourite show.  It was so good; you won’t stop at just a small handful.

It might be hard to get Pili nuts from just any shop because it is not widespreadly farmed just yet. Only the Philippines do it commercially.

Lance Catedral from Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines - pili nut

Lance Catedral from Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines – pili nut

Canarium ovatum, commonly known as pili, is a species of tropical tree belonging to the genus Canarium. It is one of approximately 600 species in the family Burseraceae. Pili are native to maritime Southeast Asia, Papua New Guinea, and Northern Australia. They are commercially cultivated in the Philippines for their edible nuts. (Wikipedia)

If you happen to get lucky and find raw pili nuts, there is no better recipe to cook it with than as a Pili nut brittle.

Below is the recipe from

Pili Nut Brittle ~Recipe~

Pili, Photo by JMorton

Pili, Photo by JMorton


2 cups of raw pili nuts
1/4 cup of sugar
1/2 cup of water
2 teaspoons of vegetable oil

Part 1
Prepare the Pili nuts

1. Boil water in a saucepan. Bring the water to a full boil.

2. Add the Pili nuts to the boiling water.

3. When the skin of the Pili nuts starts to peel off, stop the cooking process.

4. Remove all of the Pili from the water.

5. Peel the skins from the nuts.

Part 2
Cooking the Pili nuts

1. Add vegetable oil to a clean saucepan.

2. Add the Pili nuts.

3. Fry the Pili nuts. Be sure to constantly stir the nuts while frying.

4. Add sugar when the Pili nuts are golden brown.

5. Caramelize the sugar. Allow the caramelized sugar to coat the nuts.

6. Remove the Pili nuts from the heat. Be sure they’re coated in the caramelized sugar evenly and thoroughly!

Let is cool; caramelised sugar is dangerously hot.

Time to enjoy (and share?!!!)

March 20, Spring 2016

Daffodils, photo by PH Morton

Daffodils, photo by PH Morton

I can’t wait for spring.  In a few more days, spring is upon us.

Though spring is supposed to start on 20 March 2016, the flowers, especially the bulbs don’t wait for the official starts.

Some bulbs in our garden have come through, our potted magnolia tree is blooming with gorgeously scented milky white velvety petals.

Our fish in the pond have woken up from their hibernation from the wintry weather.

Again, I have not noticed any sign of frog spawns this year.  This is now the third year that this has happened.  Though I do not really care much for the amphibians, I do not particularly want them to vanish from the face of the earth.  I am sure they have some role to do in this world. 🙂

Spring is my favourite season of all.  It is when darker days/ morning literally lighten up, here in UK anyway. I love to watch plants coming into life.  I like to hear the chirping of the birds which visits the garden more often.  I find that there is a feeling of positivity when spring comes.  New life, new day.  Cycles begin.  Perhaps I just suffer from this syndrome called SAD!

Spring …. bring it on.

Winter, Not Quite of Discontent

Winter, Not Quite of Discontent

This winter is not too bad, touch wood.  It has been rather mind.  I went outside in my t-shirt and I did not freeze to death! 🙂  I supposed it was not for very long.  Just throwing some garbage in the rubbish bin.  It was a dash out, dash in back!

I hope it will continue to be mild especially around my birthday, which is end of this month.  I wish for my birthday to be nicely warm, though end of the month and first week of February are when snow falls due.  Hope not this year!

I need the runway to be clear so our flight to the Philippines is not delayed.

I saw and read news that the US has so much snow.  The White House in Washington DC,  has never been so white; so wintry white.  I hope not too many people are suffering because of this extreme cold.

Wrap up and keep warm.

Don’t let winter blues beat you down.

The weather outside is not frightful (in London)

The weather outside is not frightful (in London), photo by PH Morton

The weather outside is not frightful (in London), photo by PH Morton

The weather has been unseasonable not cold.  It is quite warm for this time of year. In fact this might be one of the warmest December in ages.   I was quite comfortable walking outside our front door into our bins area in my short sleeves.

The weather outside is not frightful (in London)

Christmas was wonderful as well.  No sign of snow whatsoever till now.

This was of course in London.  But in some part of the country, it was a different story.  Thousands of people did not spend Christmas at their respective homes because of flooding.  We are talking about ‘Philippine type of flooding’ here.  Quite shocking really.   Water came inside houses ruining everything it touched, which means, unfortunately, that building and content insurance will be sharply going up for everyone.  Payout to the victims has to come out from somewhere!!!   I do feel for the people who are victims of the flood, however at this rate I think it is really time to change insurance provider and look for a more competitive rate elsewhere.

Because of this warm weather, Peter is getting nervous about how hot summer can become and has been researching getting air-conditioner put in.  I thought a Dyson will do the business but not in Peter’s book.  He does not want the air to just continue circulating inside.  He wants the type where it would blow outside, wouldn’t that contribute to global warming?!!!

The Dyson air-con/ fan looks clean-cut and rather snazzy.  I love it.  Well see…

I hope the weather do not get horrid at the end of January or early February.  We are flying to the Philippines and I can see delay at Heathrow if this happens. No, no, no.  Please let us have some snow in middle of Feb instead of in fact nothing at all.  Let’s have them on Christmas 2016.  Perfect!


Let it snow, let it snow and snow


Let it snow, let it snow and snow, photo by PH Morton

Let it snow, let it snow and snow


Let it snow, let it snow and snow, photo by PH Morton


Let it snow, let it snow and snow, photo by PH Morton

I saw my adorable grandson today. I went to watch him in his school pantomime. They did a very traditional version of the nativity play, which really gladden my heart.

More and more now, schools here in the UK have succumbed to the onslaught of political correctness and therefore do not want to offend other faiths except the Christian religion! They have been vociferously removing Christ from Christmas.  Anyway that is another blog in itself.

While walking from school, Nathan mentioned to me that he wishes snow for Christmas. He wants to make snow balls and have a real good fun fight in the garden. He also wanted to build a smowman and even offered his own scarf for the snowman to use (he is such a kind boy – so proud of him).

There is always a small chance that it would snow of course as the weather is getting colder and colder.

(By the way my heart goes to those people who were victims of the flood in Cumbria and nearby areas. It breaks my heart to see their homes which have been prepared for Christmas. All their furnitures and decorations were lost and ruined in the flood. It is only right that the Government helps them in anyway they can. It was underhanded of the UK Government to have cut the funds for floods, when it has been occuring more often in many places.)

Hopefully we do have a snowy Christmas this year.

Merry Christmas!