Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Just a quick note

Just a short note for family, friends and blogging friends. Him Outside is now Him In Papworth Hospital. He may be home Friday if it is just simple or it may be more complicated than first thought in which case he might have to stay a bit longer.
We have had some good rain here last night and today. First decent rain for 6 weeks so a bit less watering to do tonight. Temps of 30 degrees tomorrow so it will soon be dry again!
Thanks for comments, will get to reply ASAP.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Change of plan - might have known.

Well Him Outside is still Him Stuck In Ipswich Hospital! He should go to Papworth tomorrow and should still be home Friday.( Big feature on Papworth on Look East - our local BBC TV. They have perfected an operation which removes blood clots from lungs. Previously usually fatal- clever stuff).
The grass on the campsite didn't get cut by our neighbours gardener because we had showers of rain from about 9.30 onwards. I dug into a patch of soil to see how far it's penetrated and it hasn't! Not enough to do any good again.
The motorhomes have decided to stay for another night and I came home from shopping to find 2 messages on the phone for people wanting to come this weekend, another person phoned and then I found an email too. We already had one booking in the diary, so that's the 5 caravans/motorhomes we are allowed - very good news for the income column.
I am often amused when people congratulate themselves on having two consecutive No-Spend days. I realised that including todays trip for milk and cheese I have only been to any sort of shop 6 times this month. That means 25 No Spend days!
Once again many thanks for comments left on the blog and I'm sorry once again for not replying to everyone. You are all Lovely People! I've also not had a chance to put any comments on anyones blogs for a day or two either. Hopefully I'll have more time soon.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Good news at last - fingers crossed.

Him Outside should be having a CT scan tomorrow morning and off to Papworth in the afternoon. I say should, because you never know with hospitals. With luck he will be home by the end of the week,which will be good as it is beginning to get a bit lonely here.
I thought I had an empty campsite tonight and then two phone calls- first was for a group of friends in 3 motorhomes probably just for tonight, maybe tomorrow too and second was for someone who suddenly had the chance to get away for 4 nights-Very handy bookings. Then a couple on cycles turned up with a tent for the night. So from no one to lots all at once!
Spent part of the morning,( after the picking and packing of veg to sell) making some strawberry and gooseberry jam. It is a brilliant combination as the gooseberries make the strawberry set. I used 4 pound of strawbs and 2 pound goosegogs. Cook separately to start with and if you cook the gooseberries down to pulp then they mix in to the strawberries and sugar without anyone knowing there are gooseberries in it. Clever!
I needed to get the jam done to make room in the freezer for cherries and later for apples. The cherries are morello cooking cherries so are very sharp. Some years the blackbirds move in but they've left them alone so far this year. I tried making jam with them one year and they were still sharp. Now I put some in the freezer to mix with apples in crumbles or pies and then sell the rest. They are such a pain to prepare as the stones need removing and however I do it I always seem to get me and the kitchen covered in cherry juice.
We had about five minutes of rain- gee whiz. Everybody who came on site said they had driven through thunderstorms and heavy rain and here we are on the edge of Suffolk and nothing. So when the sun goes down I will be out there yet again watering as much as I have energy to do. Even worse we have strong wind which will just dry the topsoil even more.
Finally got around to taking a photo of my hollyhocks now coming into flower. These are some I bought from a cheap catalogue to fill our new flower bed. The 'annuals in a container' that I mentioned several weeks ago which we got to fill up the spaces didn't work. I guess the new bed didn't have fine enough soil for the seeds to get going.There are now a few weedy marigolds and many more weedy weeds! Must get the hoe out if only I had a minute to spare. ( More hoeing less blogging maybe!)

And finally a warm welcome to new readers and followers and thank you for all the good wishes for Him Outside. Perhaps in a weeks time I will not have to mention hospitals or arteries ever again.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Good grief - Sunday already and another small Sunday soapbox that's bound to offend!

Firstly thank you to everyone for comments and good wishes yesterday and once again apologies for not replying to each one of you individually.
 I've taken your advice and when I took her eggs around I asked our  neighbour A if I could borrow her gardener on her ride on mower to do a quick dash around the campsite grass on Tuesday morning. So that job will be done.
I should have kept my big mouth shut (or my fingers off the keyboard!) last evening about the lovely rain. We had hardly any! GRRRRRRR. So today I had to connect up the hose and fill up all the water butts off the metered supply again so as to keep all the tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers alive in the polytunnels.
What we did have was a very blustery night which woke me several times and today there has been a nice breeze but it is still too darn hot. I used to love hot weather so I think I must be getting old  as I've begun to moan about it.
I got the kitchen windows cleaned today which is something I've been wanting to do for a fortnight, then I put some more raspberries and some redcurrants into the freezer and did the ironing. I texted Him Outside to give him my regular update of what is happening here ( THANK HEAVENS for mobile phones and text messages) and he said I could have the rest of the day off! Very Funny- not.
I listened to the food programme at 12.30 on Radio 4 which was all about below the poverty line food blogs by  various people including Jack Munro ( agirlcalledjack) who is now doing a book of very frugal recipes. It was reading her blog several weeks ago that made me question my right to call this a frugal blog. But I decided to carry on as we ARE frugal but thankfully have never been below the poverty line. One of the things we avoid buying and then having to maintain or replace are gadgets. I have managed in the kitchen all my life with 'only' a food mixer and without all the other must-have gadgets that seem to fill the worktops in most peoples homes. And I definitely DON'T have a juicer. If God had wanted us to turn all our lovely variety of food into a liquid mess then he wouldn't have given us teeth! Apologies as that is bound to offend someone somewhere!

Saturday, 27 July 2013

It's raining it's pouring!

Saturday evening and just back from visiting Him Outside who is still stuck in Ipswich Hospital waiting to be transferred. ( I didn't drive, but got a lift with our youngest and her other half).
 But the real news is that we have rain, lovely refreshing rain, rain running off the roofs and filling the water butts, rain watering all the runner beans that I haven't been able to do often, lovely rain making the courgettes grow bigger, rain that we have been waiting for for weeks and weeks. Never thought I would be so glad to see some rain.
We had fog rolling in off the sea this morning which made the garden cool enough for me to get the small mower out to do a bit of grass/weed cutting. The campsite will need doing soon, Him Outside tried to give me instructions for the ride on mower. I used to do the campsite years ago with a ride on but haven't used this new one, sounds complicated. I will let you know how I get on or I might just borrow our neighbours gardener and mower when he is over the road on Tuesday.

Friday, 26 July 2013

So many thank yous to say.

Thank you to everyone who left lovely good wishes and encouragement yesterday. Apologies for not replying individually. Him Outside read the blog via our daughters phone when they went to visit in the evening and he says A BIG THANK YOU too. I've only been blogging for  3 months and you      " don't know me from Adam" but it is a really a nice support to know that people are wishing us well.
I'm glad he is in hospital as he has had pains a few times while being there and if he was here he would be worrying that he wasn't able to help me. I'm fine here on my own and can manage most things that need doing, at least with this weather I don't need to worry about running out of wood for the woodburner as wielding a chainsaw is something I can't do! It has always been me left at home to look after stuff as I was the goat milker so needed to stay and to do that everyday.
This morning two ladies nearly came to blows over the raspberries that I had just put out for sale. I was unloading them from a tray onto the stall when a lady from up the road stopped and said she might take all 7 punnets. Another car pulled up behind and the lady in that car said she had been past 2 minutes earlier to see if we had raspberries out, seen me walking from the house, turned round in the next gateway and came back to buy some. Meanwhile lady 1 was merrily loading all 7 punnets into her car and lady 2 was a bit put out that she wasn't going to get even 1 punnet. There was nothing I could do except apologise and say there were no more to go out for sale today. Lady 2 went off in a huff! Lady 1 didn't even seem to notice! I think I would have felt guilty for taking the whole lot.
STILL no rain so I had to fill up all the water butts with a hosepipe this morning using metered water - THAT HURT! We have 2 separate water supplies, the one to the farm buildings and campsite is metered but our house is still based on the old ratings value from when we moved in 21 years ago. Unfortunately there is no way to connect a hose to any house taps and I feel that that would be cheating anyway. You know about the watched pot that never boils, well a filling water butt never fills until you do something else for 5 minutes and then it overflows! It certainly makes you think about water supplies for crops in dry countries when you have to spend a lot of time moving and carrying cans of water - it's heavy stuff. One of the charities I support is Water Aid, they do brilliant work in many countries. Luckily in the UK there  might get be rain here tomorrow, I hope there is. If the big tanks by the sheds get filled by rain they will flow automatically into the small tanks by the polytunnels which will save me a lot of work.
Thank you all once again for your thoughts and prayers. I just hope he gets to Papworth soon. Luckily he will go by hospital transport and it should only be an overnight stay there so I will  not need  to go.  I shall just

Time to do the egg collecting.
Back tomorrow.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

I didn't plan to write about Him Outside!

When I started this blog it was meant to be about our simple life here instead it has turned into a series of health bulletins!
Him Outside got carted off to hospital by ambulance again on Tuesday night after his chest pain came back while he was sitting resting and he had been advised to call 999 if he needed to use the angina spray pain while resting after the angiogram.
Now he is stuck in Ipswich hospital - labelled up as complete bed rest- until they can send him to Papworth for the stent. The coronary ward that he is on, were surprised that the angiogram outpatients dept. had sent him home Monday as the artery partial narrowing is quite severe. The worst news is that it could be 4-7 days in Ipswich. So he will be really fed up!
I got extremely brave and drove to and from Ipswich yesterday to see him and to take him more books. But I was a shaking wreck by the time I got home! - Very Pathetic I know!
Our youngest will go up today and he knows how madly busy I will be here on my own so won't expect me to go very often. I think he has 5 books to read so should be OK! Several of the people he used to work with live not too far from the hospital so will pop in and see him.
Meanwhile we have had a small shower of rain this morning though not enough to do any good, just enough to make the raspberries horrible to pick with the wet leaves. Still no storms. Sill hot and humid. Still BUSY so must go and pick and pack more stuff to sell.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

The mystery of the missing post box?

Many, many thanks to everyone for good wishes yesterday. Very much appreciated. Him Outside is having a couple of days rest, then we shall see what he can or can't do and how long it takes before he gets the call to go to Papworth.

For years and years and years there was a post box at the end of our road - just half a mile away, suddenly this week it's gone, leaving a messy pile of rubble. 

I nabbed the postman this morning to ask him what had happened, but he just said it got demolished. By whom? Accidentally? On purpose? No too much mess. Aliens? The postman looked blank. So I asked if it was to be replaced, but it isn't going to be because it wasn't used much. I USED IT!
Now instead of quickly nipping down the road on my bike, I shall have to remember to take letters with me when I go out or cycle a mile and a bit down to Friston. That's progress!

While the rest of the country had thunderstorms and rain, here on the edge of Suffolk it stayed stubbornly dry until we had a tiny shower at 2pm and just a bit more at 2.30, you could see the spots drying as it hit the ground, it's done no good at all. I hope we get some more later tonight.
The chickens don't like this heat and the older ones have gone off lay which is a nuisance, leaving us a bit short of eggs to go out each day. I never thought I would say this but I'll be glad if the temperature drops by a few degrees.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Thankyou for good wishes and more book photos

Many thanks  for all the good wishes for Him Outsides day at hospital. He had to be in Ipswich at 8am so it was an early start. I was very brave and drove the car home after dropping him off (which sounds pathetic but I  learned to drive so long ago that there were no duel-carriage ways! and in the last 20 years have done very little driving except round about here on quiet country roads, although pulling a big trailer load of hay home from Saxmundham doesn't bother me at all!)
He got a work colleague who lives near the hospital to bring him home as he knew that driving up and back yet again would have got me in a dither. The news is not too good and he will need to go to the heart hospital at Papworth to have a stent fitted in the next 6 weeks, unfortunately Ipswich  hospitals department for doing this doesn't open until October and he needs it done before then. So instead of three quarters of an hour away he will be three and a half hours away! We shall have to see how he is once that's done and decide if we can carry on smallholding or not, although it is supposed to be a pretty good solution to artery problems.
Today we have found out what everyone else has been enjoying/suffering for the last two weeks as the weather here has been the hottest this year and no sea breeze. I spent half an hour picking raspberries when I got back from Ipswich and ended up feeling like a wet rag- yuck. Then this afternoon when I went up the field to collect the eggs I had to come in and stick my head under the cold tap! I thought "Oh This is what people inland have been complaining about".
 My penny pincher penfriend S. emailed to tell me she looks forward to my visit to the library van to see the photos of books that I borrow  as it gives her ideas for reading.
So specially for you S. Here is another one!
It was the subjects of this novel that got me interested - Nineteenth Century USA, Quakers, Quilts and slavery. I enjoyed it - another Good Book.
More books, this time all belonging to me and Him Outside ( mostly mine!)

When we had the new kitchen extension a couple of years ago the access to it went through the old bathroom. The third picture under the stairs was where our shower used to be. Now its all my book shelf corridor.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Still preparing for winter.

We did some delivering this morning of hay to the lady who bought my goats from me 3 years ago - I still miss them and the everyday fresh milk.( but I know in reality that we will not keep goats again). Then we took 12lb of topped, tailed and frozen gooseberries to our friend P as a swap for sorting out those pictures. ( Monday 17th June blog, if you want to see them). The glass was not big enough for the frames and the backing paper was tatty, so he has replaced both but the frames were OK, so we kept those.
As we happened to be passing a car boot sale of course we stopped in for a look!
This is what I found for £1. Every year there is always at least 1 hot water bottle that perishes so I like to keep one new one in the cupboard as a spare.

Why does the photo sometimes turn around between taking it and uploading?This was not the way I took this photo!
We don't have central heating so I always put  at least 2 and sometimes even 3 hot water bottles in the bed before I get in. Hot water bottles are such comfy things!
I also found a new roll of Christmas wrapping paper for 50p - that's the first one I have seen this year at car boots and I was beginning to worry that I would have to buy some from a shop at Christmas time and I don't like doing that!
The campsite has been busy this weekend but after tonight we have NO bookings for several days, which is odd considering it's the start of the school holidays. I hope we will have some phone calls this week although rather than worrying about it I now look upon an empty site as a break from loo cleaning!
Him outside has done some odd jobs that needed doing before the day at hospital tomorrow and is now resting while listening to cricket. He doesn't admit it but I think he is also glad to get to the end of haymaking. Although most of the time he was riding on the tractor some of the hooking up of machinery etc is  quite hard work.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Dumpster Diving ?

Welcome to several new followers over the last couple of weeks, I hope you enjoy my diary from a simple Suffolk smallholding.
I'm not averse to a bit of fishing in skips or bins or dumpster diving as they call it in the States. If we lived in a town I'd probably cruise around on my bike to see what I could find but as we are out in the sticks the only bins I see are the ones on the campsite.
We get campers to sort as much as possible for recycling although being on holiday not everyone can be bothered. Maybe they don't even bother at home - who knows?
I often pull out newspapers or magazines from the paper/ cardboard bin to read and have even found completely new and sealed packets of food occasionally.
Today I checked the glass bin and spotted these, I don't know what they had in them but they look as if they ought to be re-used. Of course! Tea-light holders! If I was arty I could paint them with flowers or something.

 This morning we had cloud and a bit of drizzley sea mist blowing in which nearly  put paid to the plan to get the last two rows of hay baled. Then after lunch we had a spell of sunshine and at 4pm just as I had 6 pages left to read of my book, Him Outside announced that we would go and get it done. It was a bit greener than he would have liked but as long as the person collecting it keeps it separate from the rest and uses it first it should be OK. Him Outside is in hospital on Monday for the angiogram  with at  least two days rest afterwards, so we wanted to get to the end of haymaking before then. I brought  home the trailer with the bale sledge on the back, Him Outside brought home the tractor and baler and just needs to go back tomorrow for the hay turner and then we can say Thank goodness it's over for another year.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Haymaking and More Good Books

I spent yesterday afternoon trudging around a VERY hot field, surrounded by high hedges there were very few places with a breeze. We were getting the field baled- the one we rent - at Saxmundham. Because we have an ancient bale sledge that doesn't release the bales properly it means having to chuck the bales out when the sledge is full, so that they are at least roughly in a heap to make it slightly easier for loading them onto a trailer. The whole field was done apart from 2 rows which lay too close to a hedge to dry properly, so needed turning further into the field when the rest was removed. Loading hay bales high onto the trailer is one thing that Him Outside with the new angina problem has found difficult. The people who are buying the hay had to do their own loading this year. So hay making is ALMOST finished and I was too exhausted to do anything as energetic as blogging, and collapsed  on the settee to read by 8.30pm( after a refreshing shower using the oodles of free hot water we are getting from our solar thermal thingy on the roof).

The reason I only ever mention GOOD books is because if I find something not so good I don't bother to finish it. Life is too short and the world is full of good books.

I don't know why this picture is upside down it isn't like this in the file picture! The book is by Mark Sundeen and is the true story of a man known as Daniel Suelo who lives without money, in the USA of course. It is an odd story but well written.

This is an author I hadn't come across before, it is crime, set in the London Blitz of 1940. Seems it is the second in a series of four, so I shall be looking to order the rest from the library and also checking out what else this lady has written.

This book could be considered a bit of a rip off because much of the book has already been published by these people ( Patricia and Robert Malcolmson) in previous books, namely Nella Last's War, Dorset in Wartime: The Diary of Phyllis Walther and Warriors at home 1940-42 and another of their sources is to be turned into another diary book in the next year or so. Luckily I had only read two of the books they had already done and as it's a library book I hadn't paid the £20 it's priced at. I won't be putting it on my list of books to buy sometime as I'm finding it interesting but slightly heavy going. I will read it in bits between other books.

Hay making should be completely finished by tomorrow - God, Health and Machinary willing. Then we will await payment for all 800 or so bales, pay the rent on the two fields and squirrel away the rest for the winter.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Blue sky thinking

Here was my view for an hour this afternoon as I 'forced' myself to do nothing.

I saw swallows and swifts, herring gulls and goldfinches,dragonflies and butterflies, a kestrel and a buzzard. Way up higher I saw metal boxes full of people flying off to foreign parts. Silly fools!

Coming under the heading of things we never buy this is what we had for dinner last night

First of the french beans - so delicious.

A message for all those who are getting themselves into a tizzy, worrying about what they should and shouldn't eat, what they should and shouldn't do, what other people will think, LIFE'S TOO SHORT

Don't Worry- Be Happy!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Pictures of big irrigation systems- growing onions for the nation!

Him Outside went out three times yesterday to sort out the irrigation system on a field of onions for our farmer friend W. who was away working elsewhere, the last time he went out at 8pm and didn't get back until 10.15. Something had made the massive pipes twisted, everything had come to a halt, by which time W. was back from where he had been hay making right out by the River Deben, so was able to help work out what was wrong.
Here are some pictures of the big system that big farmers use.

 Here's the winding up end, it tows the squirty end slowly up the field  by winding  the pipe around the drum
 Here is the squirty end that starts off at the bottom of the field and gradually gets wound back up to the winding bit then it stops squirting and turns itself off, ready to be moved across the field, towed to the bottom of the field ready to be start all over again.
The big field of light sandy soil where onions are being grown by a huge farming company that farms thousands and thousands of acres, including all the land around our little 5 acre patch and most of the fields to the right of us from here for miles.
If all fields were a nice regular shape it would be easier but this morning he had to go out at 11.30 to switch a switch to stop the spray going all over someones house on its right hand sweep( I went too to take the photos)
Then back again at 1 o'clock to do the big move.
Meanwhile back at the simple Suffolk smallholding, I've been doing all the usual stuff. Starting off by making a couple of jars of jam with the few red gooseberries off our 1 red gooseberry bush. My entry in class 77- Jar of Gooseberry Jam - for the Knodishall flower and produce show.
Picking and preparing more gooseberries for the freezer and more raspberries too, cleaning the loos on the campsite, collecting eggs - the list goes on as usual. It's a good job I don't have any sort of house cleaning fetish as nothing much has been done indoors for weeks!

Monday, 15 July 2013

We can't see the raspberries for the leaves!

First job of the day is always putting yesterdays eggs out on the stall at the gate, next letting the chickens out and checking their water, then it's a zoom around the garden picking and packing stuff to put out for sale with the eggs.Today there were three bags of courgettes, two cucumbers, three bags of fresh dug potatoes and two small punnets of raspberries (and enough for us to eat too of course!)
The problem this year is finding the darn things amongst the leaves and next years new growth which is really lush.
They were far enough apart when we planted them in the autumn before last - little canes about a foot tall. Last summer with all the rain there was plenty of new growth which is now fruiting for the first time this year. At the end of the summer this years fruiting canes will be cut out and all the new canes will be put between the wires to hold them upright.

Something else that's having a good crop this year is the tayberry. I'm not keen - they have a sort of perfume flavour but Him Outside likes them. There are never enough to sell.
Before the kitchen got too hot I made 4 pastry cases to go in the freezer and a batch of peanut biscuits.
Pastry cases made for taste - not for their good looks!
 Then the next job was picking lots more gooseberries ready for our friend P to collect as a swap for redoing the picture frames and glass.  This afternoon I sat out and topped and tailed the gooseberries just in case P doesn't get here tomorrow, then they can go in the freezer until we can do the swap. I may pick a few more when the temperature drops tonight to make it up to 12lb.

Meanwhile Him Outside has been turning the hay at Saxmundham, checking the irrigation system for our farmer friend ( and one of these days I'll explain why our farmer friend W has to be away working some where else so that he has to pay Him Outside to move the irrigation system on his own land), rowing up the hay behind the second home just up the road, Moving the irrigation system when it was time, baling the hay and then driving around the field with a trailer so the person who is buying it ( and his family) could load  it. Then bringing some back here and some to another barn for storage. Then he had just had half an hour sit down tonight  when the phone rang with a message to say that  someone had noticed that the irrigation has stopped so off he has gone again to see why. They are irrigating onions at the moment on the light sandy soils down the road. I wish we had enough water to irrigate our onions, they really need it but our water has to be saved for the polytunnels.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Craft storage solutions

Thank you for all comments left over the last few days and welcome to new followers too.
Does anyone know what has happened to Hard Up Hester- her blog seems to have suddenly stopped?  I enjoyed her cutting comments about the staff at the school she worked at!
Also someone left a comment on my blog one day and then removed it before I could read it - what's that all about?
We decided to pop up the road to the car boot sale this morning as we hadn't been for a few weeks. I've been looking for something to keep all my crafting coloured papers in, as at the moment they were all lumped together in one big box which meant sorting through the whole lot every time I wanted something.
I quite fancied one of these
But as they are hundreds of pounds each - maybe not!
Then today I spotted these two office drawer units. They both had wheels but Him Outside easily removed the wheels off one so that it could stand on top of the other one.
Best of all only £5 each - BARGAIN.
On top of the two x 3 drawer sets are 2 small thick-card little drawer sets, one pink, and one grey ( chopped off my picture). Also found this morning for 25p each ANOTHER BARGAIN!
I was eager to get home and sort my papers into different colours, put them in the drawers and get them labelled up. But first I had to have a shuffle round of desk and another cupboard as I wanted to fit these in right by the desk.
The other things we got today were a brand new set of basin taps for £3 to replace those on one of our wash basins that have been a bit dodgy for a year, a wooden tray for £1 (  to replace a rusting metal one chucked out for the scrap heap) and a couple more Beatrix Potter books to add to my collection for 50p each.
We were home again by 9.30 and I got busy moving things in the craft room while Him Outside cleaned up the strawberry bed which has now finished fruiting.
Yesterday I got a flan case out of the freezer to make a quiche but it had a big cracks right across. ( I batch bake 4 pastry cases at once and keep them in a big plastic box in the freezer - this one was at the bottom of the box and must have got squished) It was no good for quiche as the eggy mix would have run right out and underneath. Him Outside said " it's only a bit of pastry- chuck it out for the birds". WHAT says I - HORRIFIED at the idea.I'm supposed to be frugal-in-Suffolk!
 So today I made a lemon meringue pie and let the lemon mix set a bit more than usual before putting
it in the cracked pastry case. Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy!
We had a herb omelet instead of quiche.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Thoughts on stocking up for winter on a sunny day.

Him Outside loved his job for years. He spent his time driving around Suffolk, inspecting things, organising the repairs and then supervising the men who did the work. Then it all changed, preparing for being contracted out they called it - one of the County Councils ideas for saving money. His job involved just driving round, filling in forms, putting stuff on the computer and listening to the men moaning about the lack of organisation. He decided that at 55 he would pack up, go self employed doing odd jobs. The council put him onto casual hours and now he works just 2 to 4 days a month for them. So most of our income now arrives during the summer and last winter was our first living in this new way. It wasn't easy, we weren't exactly short of money but I did have to take a cut in housekeeping. This meant that by spring the cupboards were not as well stocked as I like to keep them. So as July is always a low spend / good income month I'm planning to re stock the cupboard ready for the winter. We are also stocking up the instant access ISAs with spare bits of cash and best of all we have started stocking up the freezer. We picked more gooseberries and put in the freezer  most of the broad beans have been put into the freezer after a quick blanching and then the very first basin of raspberries.

Delicious raspberries - my favourite fruit   
 The raspberries have started just in time as strawberries are finishing. I always put lots of bags of raspberries in the freezer as they go so well with apples to make a pie or crumble in winter.

Him Outside worked like crazy yesterday ( with me checking he felt OK and making sure he had the angina spray with him at all times!) sorting baling of hay and getting it collected, stored here or carted away. Things didn't go as planned- they never do - more breakdowns as usual, but it was done by evening. So today was supposed to be spent turning one more lot of hay and sitting out listening to the cricket. Then his ears pricked up as he heard someone cutting a hay field a way down the road. Did this mean our farmer friends mower was mended? would he be able to cut the field we rent in Saxmundham? If it isn't done this week the opportunity to do it will be gone. He was up the road like a shot, but it wasn't our friend but someone else on yet another borrowed mower doing a favour for our farmer friend. Phone calls were made and yes, this chap could cut the field for us. So off Him Outside went to walk the field ahead of the mower to check for ragwort. Perhaps tomorrow will be restful?

Friday, 12 July 2013

A small step onto my soapbox due to our County town of Ipswich being featured on the BBC

Did you see that programme last night? It was called something like " We're the tax payers who pay your benefits" and paired up people on benefits with people working hard but not earning very much. It was a surprise when Nick Hewer, one of the presenters, said " we're off to Ipswich". Hardly ever featured in TV programmes but chosen apparently for it's averageness (is there such a word?). I was interested to watch as I like to know how it is that some people can or can't manage on benefits without looking for a job and others who want to work but can't find work so are forced into benefits. Having read lots of historical books about workhouses or even earlier when there was no help at all for people unable to work, I wouldn't like to see the country going back to that. What annoys me is that some folks receive more in handouts than others who work. One woman featured had a dog, cats and various other assorted pets and treated herself to nights out with vodka as a norm.  I expect many people watching thought " Hang on, something's not right there." The programme continues next week. I shall watch. Him Outside HATES programmes like this - full of whingers he says. Part of me agrees but the other bit thinks what would we have done if we hadn't been able to somehow manage on the very average council roadmans income.
How did we pay a mortgage and survive?
 Him Outside worked lots of overtime in summer ( surface dressing roads) and in winter ( on the gritting lorry). We grew our own stuff right from the start, meals were made from scratch, bought clothes and toys  from jumble sales, holidays were a week in a tent, cars were old. Going to the pub was definitely out and takeaways were a special treat. We had evenings out - volunteering as Cub and Scout leaders! We once qualified for free milk- for about 6 weeks until summer overtime started. I did small jobs when I could - dinner lady, child minding, cleaning. Outgoings HAD to be less than income and were pared to the bone.
When our eldest was about  9, she asked if we could pay for one of her friends to go on a school trip as her friends mum couldn't afford it. I asked her where had we seen her friend playing as we came back from Grandma's last Sunday? - In the garden of the local pub with her mum and dad drinking nearby. I explained we chose to do things differently. I don't think the children knew how little spare cash we had because we always found what they needed for school trips etc. Luckily all this was in the mid 1980s before the age of mobile phones, computers, designer clothes and other must-have gadgets. There were less outside pressures on families then I think.

Back to normal diary mode and


All this lovely reading for free, I'm glad that part of peoples taxes are spent on libraries. We earn so little that we don't even pay any taxes any more! So who am I to say what taxes should or shouldn't be spent on. Perhaps I should keep my thoughts to myself!!

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Running out of water.

Despite the huge collection tanks we have, with hosepipes taking the water down to the garden, we are starting to run out of water.
Here is the water trail from shed to garden ( not the most exciting pictures I've ever taken!)

Rainwater collection at the back of the big shed

Through one of the chicken runs

Past the other shed and down the garden

All the way to the water butts by the polytunnels with a ballcock so they don't overflow
  So we need rain! But not just yet as we need to get some hay baled first. Although we are beginning to think the Gods are against us, Him Outside went out this morning to find the hay turner and the tractor had both got a flat tire overnight.With the problems we've already had with breakdowns it is lucky that we have had a longer than usual spell of dry weather.
There are people coming to help load and collect bales later this afternoon, so fingers crossed for no more breakdowns. Will the very old baler work without  a hitch ? We shall see.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Lovely surprise in the post this morning

Look what I got in the post this morning

What a lovely surprise. Someone who has stayed on the campsite has taken the trouble to contact the Camping and Caravanning Club and has nominated us in the category of " Most friendly welcome".
Makes all the toilet cleaning worthwhile!

We had a complete change in the weather this morning, as a bank of cloud moved over giving us a little drizzley misty rain, not enough to ruin the hay thankfully. Him Outside spent some time in the polytunnels catching up on tomato de-shooting, which it has been too hot to do for a week. Then he got some weeding done with  me popping in and out to help between making bread and biscuits.

Guess how much mess a split bag of chicken feed makes in the back of the jeep- answer = LOTS!
In all the years of bringing home  bags of feed this has never happened before, but the pellets went everywhere, trickling down into gaps and even getting inside one of the folded down back seats. Took us ages to collect up as much as possible, then the rest was hoovered up with the hoover bag then tipped into the chicken run.

I'm still gooseberry picking and have picked and sold 107kg so far- that's 214 punnets!!!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Another Library Book Finished

Many thanks for lovely comments on yesterdays blog. Pam,Fran,dreamer, Bridget,Karen and Dc all said the path and the mini pond looked good.
I'm really enjoying looking at other peoples blogs of places where they have been on holiday. Today I've 'visited' Banbury with Karen, and Glastonbury with Ilona and Kath. We did manage a holiday last September after 2 years without, but this year we shall stay at home and treat ourselves to an occasional Chinese take away, magazine or afternoon off instead.

 I've finished the library book that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. It was written by May Smith who was 24 when war started and teaching at a primary school- a job she didn't seem to enjoy much.
She spent almost all her money on clothes, material for making clothes or hats and usually had to borrow from her parents to see her through until payday. Much of the book is about her friendship with the man who went on to become her husband and her trips to town for shopping and the fun they had at tennis club.  It is a completely different look at how things were in wartime compared to some others that I have read.
I was surprised at just how many wartime diaries I had when I collected them together for this photo

My favourite is 'Few eggs and no Oranges' by Vere Hodgson. I'm not sure if I will put the new one onto my wish list to look out for buying at some time. I enjoyed the read but maybe don't need to read it again.
With all my library books read and the Mobile Library not due until Friday, I'm re reading this, which is one of the books in the picture at the top of my blog.
If you've not come across it before it's worth a look.

We went to Framlingham this morning, mainly to go to the Milling Company for chicken feed, but also to drop in the two prints that we bought at the Antique fair last month to our friend P. who can be found every Tuesday morning at the Country Market. ( what were once called WI markets), he and his wife make jam,chutneys,cakes,cards woodturning and picture framing to sell at the market. We decided the prints didn't need new frames but just new glass the right size and then finishing off properly at the back. P is willing to take gooseberries for the work - barter is our best way of doing things!
Still loving this sunny weather and for once we are thankful to have a sea breeze keeping the temperatures down a bit compared to more inland areas. Tomorrow might be cloudy which will be handy as it has been too warm to get anything done in the polytunnels except watering.
Hay making is proceeding slowly with machinery breaking down or falling apart just at the wrong time, which is what happens when all you can afford is old second-hand stuff. Only the big farmers can afford the tens of thousands needed for new modern machinery.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Hooray for help to finish the path.

After nearly 8 months of climbing over rubble or using the temporary slab path to take us on a detour around the garden and then wondering how we would get it done after strenuous wheelbarrow work became a problem, THE PATH IS FINISHED! Many thanks were given to the people who helped and when one of our visitors on the campsite and his son-in-law offered to help too the job was soon done.

Now we just need to bring round some soil that we have in a heap on the field to fill the gap, as the new path didn't need to be as wide as the old one.

I'm worried that we have frightened away some frogs with something we did today.
This is an old stone sink that we found half buried here when we moved in all those years ago. At different times it has had herbs or heathers, but has been unused for a while waiting for the path to be done so that we could put it beside the path and fill it with water. We had a tiny pond that our youngest dug when she was about 10 and she's 25 now. It was gradually disappearing under a tree and impossible to clean out and we thought there was nothing in it except pond weed and sludge, so I filled the new sink pond, scooped out some water from the old pond to top it up and Him Outside
fished about in the sludge and much to our surprise found four frogs. We moved them to the new pond and they promptly hopped out and hid under the conifer! Oh dear, looks as if the new pond wasn't suitable accommodation for them, I hope they hop back in again, or we shall have to dig a new little pond for them somewhere else.

Sunday, 7 July 2013


Watched the tennis and enjoyed every minute. They worked so hard and it was so hot. Brilliant win.


Some lovely sunny days at last, it seems like an age since we had a few days when we wake up to sunshine and know that it's going to be lovely all day.
So smallholding and campsite jobs done as quick as possible, Him Outside has done some hay turning and also helped our farmer friend with moving the huge irrigator on the potato fields, but other than that we have taken the opportunity to sit out and feel warm. Gooseberry picking is done late evening when things have cooled down.
Brilliant tennis watching planned for this afternoon.
Oh, I forgot to say, the path along the back of the house was finished early yesterday morning. Before and after photos to follow!
Too hot to blog anymore.
Back Tomorrow.
Enjoy this sun while it lasts!

Friday, 5 July 2013

Scratching a living!

As it says over on the right hand side, we live a fairly frugal simple sort of lifestyle so that we can manage on what we earn here and a few other bits of income and so that Him Outside doesn't need to do his old job for more than a few days a month.
So we don't get the £1,650 pay cheque at the end of the month like we used to before March 2012. Now our income comes in little bits and mostly in the summer. We have the campsite income which varies depending on the weather and on people actually wanting to stay here from April to September.  We have the income from a savings bond which we started with some money my dad left me when he died ( and you know what's happened to interest rates in the last 5 years - down and down). We have the "proper job" income which varies depending on how many days he is needed, anything from two days to four days a month (and that might end in October). We have the income from Him Outside grass cutting at the second home, a half or whole day once a week, again only in the summer.We have the income from the odd bits of work he does for 5 other people - not regular but perhaps adding up to a few days a month. We have the egg income from selling on the stall at the front gate. We have the income from selling hay that we make from 3 fields( and that depends on the weather and now the B...... mower has broken down again!) and last but not least we have the income from selling whatever we can on the stall at the gate. So Thank goodness for gooseberries! They may be scratchy and a pain to pick, but when we sell 30 punnets in one day like we did today at £1.50 a punnet it's a really useful bit of money!

3 photos on a beautiful sunny day
Alstromeria cut ready to bunch up and put out for sale

Honey suckle over one of our trellis arches

Beautiful clusters of flowers on the Black Elder.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Busy Thursday

What have we done today?
Gooseberry picking,strawberry picking, hanging out washing, hay cutting, fixing hay mower, helping farmer friend load some cattle, potato digging, cauliflower cutting, flower cutting, flower bunching, packing things for sale, bread making,washing up, egg collecting, egg cleaning, egg packing, chatting to visitor, answering phone, monthly main shop at Tesco, to bank to pay a bill, making potato salad, lettuce washing,cooking dinner, washing up, getting washing in, collecting daughter, taking daughter home again, washing up, more gooseberry picking, watering three poly tunnels, checking campsite toilets.
No time for photos.
Now time for bed!

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

I'm blaming my late Mum!

About 5 years ago I had a horrible ache under the ball of one foot, it felt as if something was nipping together, very painful especially after a good walk. So I went to the doctor who more or less told me I was wasting his time, it wasn't bad enough for NHS  and I should buy a pair of insoles and cut a hole in them where it was hurting! ( I've NEVER been back to see him again - what a weird thing to say). Anyway I went to the chiropodist in town and she said it was because the arch was not supported and she sold me some carbon -fibre arch supports which solved the problem straight away. She said that feet problems tend to be inherited and it makes very little difference if you've always bought "good" shoes or not. Which is why I blame my poor old late mother! All those years of taking us to have our feet  measured and all those proper Clarkes shoes that we hated but  were made to wear made no difference at all. Even the 10 years of wearing Dr Scholls exercise sandals when I worked in the library and was on my feet all day didn't solve the problem I now have inherited from her - poor OLD feet!
I can't wear wellies anymore and I can't slip slop around indoors in slippers or flip flops. All my shoes have to have arch supports, be wide and comfortable, not too flat and not too much heel and meeting all those requirements means they are NOT cheap. Which is why we had to go into Ipswich today to find something that I could wear indoors ( to replace an old pair that had split right across underneath) - something easily slipped on and off as I seem to spend much of my days going in and out to the garden or campsite. I got a new pair of blinkin' expensive soft arch supports from the Shuropody shop that I can stick in to sandals but they had no suitable slip ons and then I  was forced to spend out another blinkin' fortune on some wide slip on sandals from Hotter. Aaaaaagh That's my gooseberry profits nearly vanished straight away! Pain in the pocket but comfy feet!

This afternoon Him Outside took the trailer to go and collect the hay mower from the repair place. He bought it off ebay last year and when he started to use it found it was totally useless, we ended up borrowing one but now someone else has broken that mower so it was a good thing that we've been able to get the ebay one repaired, and just in the nick of time because the 10 day forecast in 3 different places on t'internet all say GOOD WEATHER! Hay making weather. I'm not sure how it's going to work this year as neither of us can lift small bales  around  anymore so what we sell will have to either be collected by whoever wants it straight off the field or made into big round bales and moved by the loading forks on a tractor.He has  got three fields to do- ours, one just along the road at a second home ( yet ANOTHER second home- they are everywhere around us) and a 5 acre field in Saxmundham that we have rented for hay for years. So that will be his job for the next week, cutting, turning, turning and turning again and then baling. Prayers required for good weather and good health please!

Old Tractor, old mower and not-so-old man - all getting 'past it'!

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Gooseberries,gooseberries and even more gooseberries.

We have quite a lot of gooseberry bushes, probably 22 I think. Some were here when we came - that makes them well over 20 years old, we added some more when we found that gooseberries sell well on the stall at the gate and then a few years ago we thought about moving and I took some cuttings to take with us and most grew, so  when we didn't move after all they were also planted and are now 4 years old and fruiting.
I started this years picking just under 2 weeks ago, but lots were not very big so I waited until today to really get going. People have been knocking at the door asking when they are going to be ready so I wasn't surprised when 24 punnets sold today( and 6 more delivered to a friend) as quickly as I could get them picked and sorted. The forecast is for rain tomorrow so we carried on picking until we had enough to put out tomorrow too.

Just a few gooseberries!
Picking gooseberries is not a bad occupation for a fine day. I've got an old milk crate that's got a carpet tile fixed to the bottom, so a comfy seat to sit on - much better than stooping, and I'm hidden behind the big old Bramley apple tree, so I can see everyone who stops to buy stuff and they can't see me until I shout "Hello" and make them jump a mile!
What a good income it is too.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Looking Back at June

Before I forget, must say welcome to 2 new followers recently, now up to 40, pretty good after just 3 months I'm told.
Looking back at June
  1. Oh dear, we spent more than we earned, mainly because of paying for a years pre-payment prescription card for Him Outside, the electric bill, ballast and cement for the path and the dreaded dentist( although campsite income is not counted in the above earnings)
  2. The electric bill money and dentist money were already put to one side so we didn't need to dip into savings.
  3. The income from campsite and Him Outsides cheque for the 2 months grass cutting at the second home have been tucked into the ISA for the winter.
  4. We have STRAWBERRIES!
  5. Lots of things in the vegetable garden and poly tunnels are doing well, despite the cool weather.
  6. Him Outside has tested out the hospital service in Suffolk for the first time.
  7. Egg sales are still eggsellent!( Sorry, I must stop that awful pun every month) bringing an income of about one third of our total monthly requirements.
  8. We have started to sell gooseberries, strawberries, courgettes, cucumbers, early potatoes 
  9. Have put a small amount of broad beans and 4lb strawbs into the freezer.
  10. Thanks to the help from two ex-work friends, half the pathway at the back of the house is finished.
  11. Decided to make the effort to enter things in the local Flower and Produce show.
  12. Made 1 small cross stitch card, plus a small cross stitch Xmas decoration for the above show.
  13. Wrote a poem about A Village also for the above show.
  14. Had a wonderfully large pile of good books from the library van. 
  15. The raspberries are constantly covered by bees of various sorts and look to be very prolific
  16. Found some interesting and hopefully useful card crafting stuff from Car Boot sales
  17. Lots of lovely tennis to watch on TV with Andy M. winning Queens, just sad to see Rafa knocked out of Wimbledon so early.
  18. Him Outside was able to get the parts for doing the jeep brakes off ebay, and got them fixed- saving a fortune on garage bills.
Conclusion:- An odd sort of month, weird weather, weird health issues. But we got through.

Raspberries to look forward to in July


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