Tuesday, August 30, 2011


We have had our first litter of Wessex Saddlebacks. They were born yesterday. Luckily only one of our three sows appears to have been pregnant, as she had a large litter and we had only built one farrowing pen.

None of our sows seemed to fall pregnant last year, but this year at least one has got the job done...

They are by far the cutest of all the new born animals at Willowbrook. The odd one out is 'Caramel', who by rights ought to be black and white like the others.

By this Christmas we should have sold most of the animals born over the last 2 months, and start to recoup some of the money put into starting up the farm (and a nice Christmas dinner!)

Who could eat something so cute???

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Study Blues....

Today marks my first day in part-time employment! I am stepping down from my full-time work at the hospital after 10 years, to work half time (from 60 to 30 hours/week). I have my last professional exams in February (FACEM) and I have been studying for them for the last year, but in these last few months the pressure is really on.

I have dedicated myself more to them for the past 3 months. Somedays, as I look around the house it looks like a scene from Grey Gardens: my usually pedantic, borderline OCD, house-proud standards relaxing a bit as I sink into a quagmire of textbooks and paper...

Time does evaporate. Willowbrook Park has consumed any spare time I have had over the last 2 years. When I look back through the blog, there are posts about things which I had forgotten had happened. I can't remember what happened last year, let alone 10 years ago. Med school seems a distant memory. It is hard to believe that this November will be my 10th anniversary of qualifying as a Doctor, my 7th year of training as an Emergency and Trauma Specialist, and the 5th anniversary of my Ordination as a Priest in the Anglican Chruch.

I am looking forward to putting the study behind me next year, and getting back to a life on the land, taking up all the interests I have been putting off (fencing, learning the cello, equine eventing and social hunts, throwing pottery, reading all the leisure books that people have given me over the past year or so, and perhaps blogging a bit more (or at least blogging without feeling guilty (hard to know whether it will be as fun without the guilt!). We have also decided to postpone the start of building the Manor until after my exams (as Peter knows there would be no way I could leave the project to run itself and concentrate on exams when there was something far more exciting to do).

So, over the next 6 months there may be a few less posts at Willowbrook, but I'll still be following all your blogs when I have some spare, guilt-free time!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Riparian Dreams...

Well, the cold weather is starting to pass. One good thing that came from it was a timely dry spell (and the frosts may have kicked the tulips into acceleration).

This morning, as I pooled through the vast list of 'draft' posts on blogger, wondering which one I was in the mood to work on, I found this post I had started on Waterways, when I was sourcing ideas for how we could beautify the titular brook at Willowbrook. I thought I would post it this morning, just as it is - a picture scrapbook of possibilities...

Above and Below: Pictures of the Avon at Warwick castle taken 2 years ago.

Above and below: A small stream running through the countryside in Devon, also taken about tht time.

Below: An assortment of riparian scenes...

Monday, August 15, 2011


Here's a little weather update for all those Ex-pats out there, and others who are interested. It's very cold here at Willowbrook...

The whole of New Zealand is experiencing a freak antartic blizzard, with cold southerlies blowing up from the south pole and conditions conspiring to make it difficult throughout the country.

We have even had an hour of snow at Willowbrook (and the last time it snowed in Hamilton was 72 years ago!).

The Met service says New Zealand is having a one-in-50-year polar blast - a bitterly cold southerly has caused snow to fall in areas of New Zealand which do not usually receive it, making roads impassable in many areas of both islands, closing airports and cutting power to thousands.

Authorities across the country have warned motorists to avoid all non-essential travel.

The new -born lambs and goatlings are not impressed, trying their best to draw their heads back into their bodies like turtles!

Monday, August 8, 2011

... a rose by any other name would smell as sweet...

We have now planted all the roses around the border to the potager. The potager lies patient in hibernation, with the brown winter hornbeams and the bare-twigged rose bushes. Most are English roses, in particular David Austen varieties (although we are definitely not going for the one stop shop look). There are a few old fashioned and some French varieties and well as many China roses.

We took much inspiration from Austen's Shropshire rose garden, Albrighton...

The roses we chose were...


Gertrude Jekyl

Rosa Centifolia Muscosa

Chatreuse de Parma

Wife of Bath


Zephirine Drouhin Climber




Princess of Wales


Lilac Rose

Blue Sky


Kathryn Mansfield



Jude of Obscure


Yellow Charles Austin


Amber Flush

Tequilla Sunrise

Wild Fire

Mari Dot


Black Beauty

Lady in Red

Dublin Bay

Loving Memory


Rosa Chinensis var Viridiflora

(technically the above is a rose, but the flowerheads are made up of multiple septals instead of petals. It works great in white and green flower arrangements).

Some more Austen Roses...

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