November 2016 letter from The Ferns chatting about Newport Lights switch on and composting and raspberry liqueur

Newport Lights Switch On Friday 25th November

Image result for guildhall newport shropshire lights


Image result for newport shropshire lights

The winner of the schools’ Christmas Card competition gets to switch on the town’s lights and to drive in an open carriage  along the High Street accompanied by torch bearers. The winner this year is Thea Lee. The procession leaves The Guildhall at six, and the switch on takes place at 6.20pm at the old Butter Cross, after which will be a sing along at St Nicholas’ church.

I shall be there for the ‘switch on’ on Friday to record the event for our History Society’s Snap photographic project, which records not just old photos of the town but we keep the images up-to-date with pictures of local events. Next year when I do my November blog, I should be able to post some new and hopefully excellent photos!

If my readers are interested in other exciting lights, a local village Haughton is famous these days for its vaste display of Christmas lighrs. People travel from a huge area tro see them. Haughton is about 8 miles from Newport. They  are on from Saturday 10th December   till 1st January 2017. More on this next month.

Composting in our garden

We always have two compost heaps in our garden – the old one rotting down and a current one. Nothing gets wasted here from veg waste to fig leaves.  The old one has just been cleared out – and there are piles of compost waiting to be dug into the veg patch and strawberry plants. I know that people can buy  special compost heaps, but I have always just built our compost heaps from old bricks. My dad always did this , and, as long as there are  a few dozen old bricks in the garden, it means that there is no cost involved. The  new heap which has just been closed down,  has been covered with soil and an old carpet.


Old heap

This will be left till next spring, when I shall give the whole heap a good turnover: bringing the old material up to the top and giving it all a good mix up. The new heap always gets started with old sticks or rough stuff such as the dead runner bean plants so that there is a bit of airation at the bottom.


Starting the new heap

Monty Don has some good advice in the Gardens World website. he says,

Put in anything that has lived but exclude all meat, fat and anything that has been cooked, as these will attract vermin.

 50:50 mix of nitrogen and carbon. Nitrogen comes from lush, green material and carbon comes from woody stems.

For every barrow load of cut grass, you should mix in the same volume of straw, sawdust or cardboard. Ensure any woody material is broken into small pieces or shredded. Except for gloss or colour-printed paper, all packaging can be composted. It should be scrumpled up and mixed in equally with the normal vegetable waste to allow plenty of air to get in, rather than placed in lasagne-like layers.

Most compost bins have too much nitrogen, especially if the main source is from grass cuttings and kitchen waste – the result is an evil-smelling sludge. Equally, an excess of carbon will significantly slow down the composting process..

  • A sunny corner of the garden
  • An equal mix of nitrogen- and carbon-rich waste
  • Compost bin

Find a sunny corner of your garden, on soil, where you can site either a plastic compost bin or  built one up yourself. Setting your bin up on soil will allow worms and other micro-organisms from the earth to speed up the composting process; add some fine chicken wire at the base to keep rodents out. Start adding organic waste, aiming for an equal mix of green and woody waste as you go. Build up your heap in layers, or mix the ingredients as you go.

You can speed up the process by turning your heap occasionally with a garden fork to aerate it, mixing the outside ingredients to the inside. Make sure you cover your heap to keep the rain out.  When the mixture turns brown and crumbly and very slightly sweet smelling, the process is complete.

 Raspberry Liqueur

I always make a liqueur for Christmas and for gifts  to family and friends. This year it is raspberry.


 It is still not to late to make this excellent liqueur, especially if you have raspberries in your freezer.


  • 1 lb fresh respberries
  • 3 cups good quality vodka
  • 1 14 cups sugar

Cut the raspberriess into small pieces. Place in a glass container (such as a large Kilner jar), add vodka.  Cap and store in a cool, dark place, stir once a week for 2 – 4 weeks.

Strain & transfer the unsweetened liqueur to an  glass container.  I leave the odd raspberry in the mix, just so that peopole can see that it  is raspberry!Add the sugar, recap & let mellow untill the sugar has dissolved – stir occasionally to speed up the process of sugar absorption.

Pour to a new bottle. Add more sugar if you want it sweeter! Salud!


Best wishes Linda