Friday, 28 August 2015

Diary Notes From A Slightly Soggy Week

It's been a dismal grey week, until today. Most of the week autumn was lurking just round the corner. We had un-seasonal high winds and quite a lot of rain. The solar thermal panels are not much use without sun so we lit the Rayburn a couple of times for hot water.

On Monday I had a light bulb moment. We have cylinders full of gas for the hob already paid for so if we go back to using a kettle on the gas hob instead of the electric kettle we could save some money, it's not as quick as electric but that doesn't matter. Of course once we are lighting the Rayburn everyday we will use that for the kettle. We have a big Aga kettle that we use on the Rayburn  but decided it would be a good idea to buy a little kettle just for 2 cups. The only tiny kettle in Saxmundham was £6.99 and very lightweight, I was a bit dubious and was proved right - it BURNS the water - honestly - it tastes awful unless used on the smallest gas ring and heated up slowly which was not the point.

 During the week Col has delivered more things that we sold at the yard sale and a couple of bits of machinery that have now been paid for so a little more money for winter.

Today we got the old raspberry canes in the fruit cage cut out and the new canes fixed between the wires, it looks lovely and tidy.
 What else has happened this week?
The ride on mower stopped while Col was cutting the campsite and I had to tow him back round to the workshop. He rang a man to ask about fuses and got instructions to find a hidden one that was soon replaced.

Something ( no idea what and how) hit the bathroom window, smashing a small hole right through. It's double glazed, plastic framed so will need the whole thing replaced - Damn.

I'm waiting for the third thing.

 August Bank Holiday weekend always used to be our busiest weekend on the campsite, but in the last few years, although we've been full with 5 caravans, we haven't had tent campers turning up on the off chance. One year we opened up part of the hay field to give people more room. Now almost everyone books in advance. This year, probably because the holiday is right at the end of the month, we are not even full with caravans.

Not a very exciting week really.

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Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Going back to childhood

I missed out on lots of children's books when I was young, I had a comic every week but we didn't go to the library and books only came into the house at Christmas, birthdays and Sunday school anniversary. The schools mobile library came to our primary school so we had plenty to read in school but we didn't take them home.
Luckily I got a job in a library when I was 16 and haven't stopped reading since.

When our children were young the library was one of the cheapest places to go in the school holidays and  there were plenty of jumble sales so always loads of books around. Our favourites for reading aloud were things that rhymed - like Hairy Maclary plus Topsy and Tim books, Jill Murphy and then Shirley Hughes was producing her lovely books but we still didn't get around to Beatrix Potter, Little Grey Rabbit and The Brambley Hedge Books

I'm putting it right now and have collected all Beatrix Potter from car boot sales over the last few years. I read all the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House books a few years ago and today spotted this in the charity shop for £1.50.
 Like Beatrix Potter it's the paintings that really make the detailed.

I've just finished one of Alison Uttley's biographies about her childhood - Ambush of Young days, I have another on order for next library visit and one of her children's books - Hare Joins the Home Guard  sounds intriguing so I've added it to my wish list.

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Here's a thought........ Have you seen all the on-line Bingo ads on TV? They all claim to have "More Players than any other Bingo site", Tell me if I'm wrong but surely you would have more chance of winning if there were less players??

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Monday, 24 August 2015

An Acorn conversation and plum jam

Apart from delivering the other chicken shed, we had a quietish weekend and I spent quite a lot of time enjoying the sunshine that covered our part of the world. The campsite was busy including 7 small children, which was why it was quietish rather than quiet! I sometimes quite fancy the idea of being an Adult Only campsite.

Conversation with two small girls as I went to clean the toilet/shower block..... they are in the washroom...  Me  "what are you two up to?"...... Them "we're washing acorns, 'cos they're all sticky -yuck".... Me " what are you going to do with them when you've washed them?"..... Them " put them down here to dry " - laying them on the mat on the floor...... Me "what are you going to do with them when they're dry?".... Them " put them in our nest!"..... Whereupon they gather up acorns and tell me they are going to get some more to wash. Me" if you want to wash more acorns you can do it in your caravans because I'm now going to do all the cleaning" Them " but this is the washing place!"
No answer to that is there!

Our son came over on Saturday afternoon to get his dad's help with car things and then took Col down the pub to watch the England/France Rugby friendly. I stayed at home and half listened on the radio - a very poor game apart from the last 10 minutes. Col said they were in one room of the pub while an aging             (60+, long hair, big bellies) rock band were warming up in another - glad I stayed at home!

As I thought, the plums are being attacked by wasps and plum moth maggot. Last year I froze a lot  but they didn't seem very nice once defrosted - (They went in pink and sweet and came out brown and sharp) so we are eating them as quick as we can and I made yet more jam, just half a dozen jars. One thing no one could complain about here is lack of choice in the jam cupboard.

Thanks for comments on Saturday. No one need commiserate with me about moving and missing this place as personally I can't wait to be off!

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Saturday, 22 August 2015

Hurrying through August

On Monday we delivered the chicken shed to smallholder W in Mid Suffolk. If you can imagine driving through half of Suffolk towing a big trailer with this loaded on top you can see why we got a few odd looks.

Col had taken the nest boxes off the side but even so the shed over hung the trailer by a foot on the near-side so we had to slow down and move to the middle of the road when the road was narrow to avoid getting stuck in the hedge or running into a signpost. The shed is on metal skids so unloaded easily. We still have the other small shed to take to them another day. It's quite odd to know that we will never again keep chickens by the 100s.
We called in at two other places - as you do- one to a company that supply packaging materials to try and find some lids to fit some jam jars that seem to be an odd size and secondly to buy some cheap meat from a butchery place. 2 Huge fresh chickens for £5 each - bargain.

 Tuesday was an incredibly wet day, it's rare that we get continuous rain for so many hours. When I commiserated with one of the people on the campsite she said "it's OK we're from Oldham, we're used to it!"
There were things I could have done but after some clearing in the poly-tunnel I sort of went into a  dull grey mood and did nothing much for the rest of the day.

Then on Wednesday we had brilliant sunshine and blue skies. In the afternoon Col took our elderly friend up to Norwich Hospital again and I sat out and enjoyed the sun. Everyone on the campsite was out and for the first time in weeks no farm machinery chugging round the fields so it was quiet and  peaceful.

Thursday started wet again but I was bread baking so it didn't matter. Col has been delivering various things that people bought at the yard sale on Saturday. A man came back for a second look at the old cement mixer and bought it and a couple of tyres for £40 and another bloke who came to pick up some posts bought on Saturday also bought some other wood for another £15. I've worked out  that the yard sale and the 2 car boots and selling the chicken sheds will keep us for 2 months in winter.

Our electric went off early Thursday evening, we could see that the isolator levers on the electric pole over the road were all unconnected so we knew it wasn't just us. I rang the number for UK Power Networks in the Phone book and a very helpful man looked through all the info on his screen and told me we and 28 other homes around had been switched off for some urgent work somewhere over the fields behind us. He then rang back later to say we should be on by 8.30pm and rang back again at 9pm to check we were back on.   (It was). What good service and what a shame it's so unusual that it needs commenting on.

Col went out to work for his Leiston customer on Friday morning and took a load of junk to the dump. I was supposed to be cutting grass but because we had a heavy dew overnight everywhere was too wet. It turned really hot and humid as the morning went on and then it was too hot for pushing a mower....... tomorrow maybe. Col did the easy ride-on-mower bits in the afternoon and loaded the small chicken shed onto the trailer ready for delivering.
A few weeks ago I sent an email to the man who does features on houses for sale in the East Anglian Daily Times Property section. The houses he writes about are usually huge/expensive/unusual or very special but going on the theory that there is no harm in asking, I invited him to see our self-sufficient Suffolk property with 5 acres for under £500,000 that we can't sell. Much to my surprise he phoned and is coming out in early September - all publicity is good publicity!

I watched the programme on i-player presented by Anne Robinson- Britain's Spending Secrets , Col didn't want to see it on the night it was on - not his thing - he would have muttered all the way through!
There certainly are some people with plenty of money but how is it that in some places people easily find in-date food  in skips round the back of shops? Round here the bins are all in locked  gated areas. 
I was interested to hear Anne R saying how people are so reluctant to talk about what they earn yet scathing about how others spend their money. Having just detailed our whole budget for all of Blogland to see I know see what she means - for as far as I know no one else has ever done the same - or if they have I've not read any. Talking about money and earnings has never bothered me. That's what we earn, that's what we spend -So What?
 Which reminds me that I never got round to replying to comments after that post . Thanks to everyone who reminded me that we are very lucky to have savings and that's what they were saved for- true. Also sympathy to all other people like me who have had their pension age pushed back and to everyone younger for whom it's even worse. I'm glad to hear other smallholders have plans for what they will do in the future.We thought we had too, until unexpected health problems. The suggestion for selling the land and/or campsite separately isn't feasible here because of the way things (water, electric,drainage and driveway) are laid out and because we are in the middle of arable giant-field country where our little bit is worth nothing much on its own. I'm not worried about what will happen in the future as we've always found that  something turns up as long as we've done what we think is right.
On the post before that Sol asked if I could list the books that I'm taking to a car boot but there are rather too many to list or photograph.

Hope everyone has a good weekend
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