Saturday, 31 August 2013

Review of the month - Looking Back At August

  1. Him Outside came home from hospital  and is now feeling very well.
  2. The weather has been wonderful.
  3. Campsite income was excellent, making up for Him Outside not being able to earn any money from odd jobs for most of the month due to the heart thing.
  4. We were able to buy 9 chickens from a friend and 24 new point of lay today to replace hens that are getting old.
  5. We got a years supply of wheat from the same friend.
  6. The vegetables have been brilliant and selling well. We've had tomatoes,cucumbers,courgettes, marrows, aubergines, chilli peppers, peppers, runner beans, onions ,potatoes, carrots, red beet, lettuces.
  7. NO vegetables have been bought this month( self sufficient for the second month running)
  8. I had a lovely supply of good books from the library van
  9. I entered the village flower show for the first time in several years and achieved a couple of Firsts and a few Second and Third placings
  10. The Jeep passed it's MOT without a hitch.
  11. We got a handy income from a load of scrap
  12. Our 3 children and 2 out of three of their partners came  and we shared a big take-away treat.
  13. We got the raspberries all pruned and I made a start on the gooseberry pruning
  14. Him Outside got some of the vegetable beds cleared and covered with compost.
  15. I got a £10 voucher from Craft Creations to spend on card making supplies.
  16. Our friends came to visit for the day
  17. I tried out Approved Foods and got a good bread flour bargain.
  18. We had some nice afternoons sitting out and making the most of the good weather
  19. I carried on enjoying the blogging
Income apart from campsite was low.
Only a tiny bit of money has been saved in the ISAs for winter.
Food budget was overspent.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Naan Bread Recipe and Campers I remember - for various reasons!

Well, I still haven't finished the post about how we budget so instead I shall share with you my Naan Bread recipe which I made today.

Naan Bread
1lb strong white bread flour
1 level tsp baking powder
1 heaped tsp instant yeast ( I use Doves)
half tsp. salt
1 tsp sugar
Just over third of a pint tepid milk
1 egg beaten
2 tablespoons cooking oil
(We like plain ones but you could add coriander and garlic if you prefer)

Mix all the dry ingredients together, make a well in the centre and stir in all the wet ingredients.
Mix well and then knead well for 10 minutes.
 Put in an oiled bowl and cover and leave to rise, until doubled in size.
Knead again and divide into 8 pieces if you want big Naans. I make 12 smaller ones.
 Put onto 3 oiled baking sheets and leave for another hour or so to rise a bit.

Pre-heat grill to very hot
Prick each naan with a fork a few times, then sprinkle a little water on each naan on the first tray.
Place under the hot grill for about 2 minutes until golden, turn over prick and sprinkle again.
Shove under grill again usually less than 2 minutes until golden brown again. WATCH THEM!
They burn quickly if you take your eyes off them.
Repeat with second and third trays.
Leave to cool

 Freeze. Reheat in microwave when you want or under the grill for a few seconds.

The reason for mentioning campers I remember, is because the other day Gill at Frugal in Derbyshire had a picture of her Damson Tree on her blog and I commented that I had had a Know-it-all type camper here over bank holiday who had pointed to our Damson and said" Your Victoria Plum Tree looks as if they are ready ". I said " It's more of a damson type plum and they are still quite hard and solid as yet". He said " I'm sure it's a Victoria Plum as we have one near us at home". I wasn't going to argue so I just said Oh Right. There is no telling some people!

This is our very old Damson type tree
 They are sharp and not very nice even cooked, nothing like the lovely plum beside it which I had on yesterdays blog, which probably is a Victoria.

This damson/victoria discussion happened on the campers first day here, and I wasn't at all surprised when he came back to the door several times over the 5 days they were here. The first time he said" what's the best time to come to the door with enquiries?" I wasn't really sure what enquiries he meant as he had already asked me dozens of questions when he arrived. I don't mind answering questions about everything around but he didn't seem to listen to anything I said anyway!

This reminded me of some of the other odd things that have happened in our 20 years of owning a campsite.

There was the man who came running across the camp site to me in a panic when we were having the hay field cut many years ago. He was horrified we were having the field cut in case something flew up and hit his caravan. As he was several yards away from the hay field I didn't think there would be a problem. But he argued for several minutes that it was stupid of us to have the field cut when we had caravans on the adjoining bit.We planted a hedge between the two fields after that, just in case he ever came back!

Then the people whose car alarm went off early one morning and nothing they could do to stop it. It was so loud and the man didn't even know how to open the bonnet of the car. Very odd.

Years and years ago we had some people who would come every year to camp while they went sailing at Aldeburgh. But everyday there would be a line of huge knickers hanging up to dry. Did she really fall in that often and why did she have such huge knickers?

Several years ago, before we had hook ups, a small campervan pulled in to ask about the site. I spent several minutes answering questions about everything and then said it was £3 a night per person. Which was all we charged back then. The man said that was fine and started up to drive in but his wife suddenly shouted at him that £6 was |FAR TOO MUCH and they would find somewhere cheaper. He gave me a look of despair and put the van into reverse to back out again, without saying another word, they had gone.

An elderly couple used to come regularly, but every time they came they would want to borrow a ladder or some tools for mending the caravan. Him Outside was a bit worried about this old boy going up a ladder so it always ended up with HO doing the job for them instead.

About 5 years ago I was in the shed milking the goats at about quarter to seven in the morning when I was amazed to hear two caravans pull in. They had booked but I wasn't expecting them THAT early. We had other caravans on site so I quietly explained where they could pitch and said I was surprised to see them that early. One of the men said they had come down from a site in Norfolk and wanted to avoid the traffic around Norwich. Whatever had the campers thought on the site in Norfolk when they packed up and went at about 4 o'clock? The trouble was they didn't just pitch and settle down quietly. They started putting up awnings, rattling all the poles and shouting across to each other. You should have seen their faces when I went out and told them to be quiet and have some consideration for other people. I'm sure they had never been told off before!

A while back someone came to the door and said they were a bit worried because a man on the campsite was trying to fly a kite. Now normally this wouldn't be a problem on a campsite but we have the Very High Voltage wires not far away so kite flying is a definite No, obvious to most people with a bit of common sense.  So I went out and explained that kite flying was really not sensible.He was another who seemed surprised to have someone tell him he couldn't do something. Eventually he agreed that it would be more sensible to take the kite down to the beach ( only a few miles away). But as I walked away he and his wife started having a huge shouting match, with her saying "I told you not to " and him shouting back that he wouldn't be told what to do and then the son started yelling at them to stop fighting. I crept away quickly!

Thank goodness the majority of people who come are just nice normal holiday makers and we haven't had anything very odd for quite a while.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Thursday Notes

Thank you to heleng, Gill at Frugal in Derbyshire, Sft at saving for travel, Angela at Tracing Rainbows, Attila and Dc at frugal in Norfolk for comments yesterday. It was interesting to do the maths on AF orders - keeps the old brain active.
Also welcome to some new followers - very pleased to see you.

Another lovely day, we have been so lucky with the weather here although we haven't done much outside today as I made bread and organised dinner for tonight when our youngest and her other half will pop round for a roast. It will be the very last chicken in the freezer from some we raised from "off heat" age a year ago. We used to buy them in at 6 weeks old from a bloke who got the "leftovers" from one of the big poultry producers. Unfortunately he can't get them anymore so the next chicken we buy will be from a butcher or supermarket. The other alternative is to buy in meat breed chicks at a day old, but the minimum order is 100 and when we last did this we had problems selling on some of the chickens for other people to finish. No room in the freezers here for 100 chickens!! and not allowed to sell them prepared for the table without all the proper butchery rules and regulations and approvals. Red Tape - Don't you just love it! I'm wondering when the time will come when some city person will decide that chickens need Electronic Identification Ear Tags too!

Him outside went to get a new packet of tablets out of the cupboard and found they had been missed off his last prescription, so he had to make a special trip down to the doctors to sort that out. He also bought a new battery for the jeep to see if that will improve the starting of the blinkin' thing when the weather gets chillier.

Good news on the empty campsite September diary problem after two phone calls today. First someone coming for 2 WEEKS! - Quite unusual. Then the day they go another caravan in for a week.

After being stuck indoors all morning I was planning on getting back to the raspberry pruning, but it was so hot in the fruit cage I decided to leave it for today, so I had a wander with the camera instead.

The very old Bramley loaded with apples.

Plums slowly ripening

One row of raspberries pruned. One row still to do

More Conference pears than we have had for years.

The Fig Tree, hope some more ripen, after two bad years the tree looked dead, but looks better now
 That's me done for today,
Back tomorrow when I hope to do the blog about budgeting that you may have glimpsed when it got accidentally posted before it was finished.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Is Buying from Approved Food Cost Effective?

I expect this has been talked about before on frugal blogs, but being new to both blogging and Approved Foods I would have  missed out on any conclusions that anyone else has come to.
So my tuppence worth- for discussion!

 Today, as I was doing Septembers Tesco shop, 4 days early so as to use a £6 off £40 voucher, I looked at their prices of some of the things I had got from my very first order with Approved foods. My main reason from ordering from them was the Hovis Bread Flour 3kg bags at just 50p each. A proper bargain. The flour was limited to 4 bags per person and as the minimum order is £15 I obviously had to find more things I wanted to buy.
Delivery is £5.25 so buying £20 worth of stuff means that for each £1 worth bought you need to add 26p ( Hope I've got my maths right otherwise I'll look a right plonker!)  Obviously if you buy £40 worth of things then you only need to add 13p to each £1 worth bought.
 So two Blue Dragon Stir-fry Mixes which were 2 for £1 are really £1.26. In Tesco they are 65p each, so £1.30. Saving just 4p. But then you have to think about the costs of getting to Tesco. Getting complicated.

I usually make biscuits, we like one with our afternoon cuppa, but don't always get time to bake them so I've often got a packet of shop ones in the cupboard, just in case. We've tried value packs from various places, mostly pretty disgusting - very dusty tasting. When we go to Ipswich I usually get some Foxes brand from Poundland, but we haven't been to Ipswich for months. So as AF had Elkes triple packs of malted milk,custard cream and Nice for £1.50.( £1.89 with the delivery) Total of 550g in the 3 packs, and I happened to know that Elkes is a brand name of Foxes or vice-verse, thought they would be good quality, and they are very tasty. Can I make 550g of biscuits for £1.89? Yes I should think so. Maybe not a good buy then.

Then the carrot cake mix that I mentioned in yesterdays blog at 4 for £1. So that's 4 boxes for £1.26 or 32p a box. Add an egg ( free eggs here as we eat the ones we can't sell), 3oz butter and a squirt of lemon juice = total of about 66p a box which if baked in square tins and cut into 12 cakes means the cakes are 5 and a half p each not counting the cooking. Can I make a cake for that from scratch ? - doubtful. Of course it would have been a different thing entirely had the mixes tasted nasty!

Tins of mandarins were 8 for £1. Or 8 for £1.26 if you add delivery. So that's a fraction under 16p each, which is still cheaper than the 19p I paid at Tesco when I last noted the price down in April.      ( AF reckoned the RRP was £1 tin which is way above the price any sane person would pay for a small tin of broken mandarin segments).

Mayonnaise was on my shopping list and AF had 2 Hellmanns Light 400g for £1.20 or £1.31 I think with the delivery ratio bit added. (Yes I know making my own would be MUCH cheaper and that is something I did when we had 3 children at home). We only use Mayo for potato salad and egg sarnies, Him Outside preferring salad cream, so home made wouldn't get eaten quickly enough. I checked the price of the value mayo, which is what I probably would have bought. Oooops made a boob there. Value is 42p! although Hellmanns is better quality.

Last and by no means least, what about the Thorntons Premium Collection Chocolates at 60p a bag. They are £1.50 in the Thorntons shop in Ipswich and occasionally £1 a bag in Poundland. Really I shouldn't have bought them at all, but who could resist cheap Thorntons chocs - NOT ME!

So is shopping at AF cost effective? I think it depends on what and how much you buy. Same as everywhere else I suppose.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

Getting some work done

After 3 lazy days when the minimum of work was done, it was time to get back to normal.  So I started the day by doing some baking. I made a big batch of currant shortcakes mainly for putting in the freezer for Him Outside.

8oz SR Flour
4oz Butter
4oz Caster Sugar
3oz currants
1 egg
Egg  for brushing on and caster sugar for sprinkling.

Rub fat into flour stir in sugar and currants, mix in egg.
Roll out as thin as the currants will let you. Cut into squares, oblongs, whatever.
Put on greased baking sheets. Brush with a little beaten egg and then sprinkle just a little sugar.
Bake in medium not TOO hot oven for 10 - 15 minutes until golden. Watch them to make sure the currants don't burn. Leave for just a couple of minutes to cool then use a fish slice to move onto cooling racks.

I also did a plain sponge in square tins. This will also go in the freezer either to be used as a sponge cake or cut into fingers to use  for trifle bases.

My other bake was a packet of the carrot cake mix that came from approved foods when I got the Bread Flour.( Did anyone else take advantage of that offer. I still can't believe I have 12kg of flour in the cupboard for £2 !)
I NEVER usually buy cake mixes but carrot cake is one of my favourites that I don't bother to make very often. So when I saw 4 packs for £1, I thought they were worth a try. They are actually very nice. I was puzzled by the smell of the packet of icing mix - bad feet! It turns out the icing has cheese powder in it to imitate the cream cheese that would normally be used to ice carrot cake. I wondered whether to use it but decided to give it a go and used a few drops of lemon juice to add a tang and that turned out OK too.

I am not converted to ready made cake mixes as I'm not keen on the list of weird ingredients on the packet. But I'm hoping that as a one off ( 4 times!) they will not do me any harm.

After baking it was back to the fruit cage to do some more pruning of raspberry canes. Summer fruiting raspberries have to have all the canes that fruited this year cut out at ground level and the new growth of canes that will fruit next year are gently bent to go up between the wires to hold them in
place. I managed to get to the end of one whole row. So just one more left to do.

While I was baking and it was still foggy outside Him Outside did the downstairs hoovering for me ( he is getting quite handy with the hoover, since he has been helping indoors more so that I can help  him outside with more jobs ) Then he got  busy clearing a veg bed that had finished, covering with compost and turning it in with the rotavator, and finished off the day by transplanting some lettuce plants.

We had three caravans leaving and 3 new ones arriving so quite a busy day on the campsite. By this time next week we will be empty for the first time for months. The September diary is very quiet although we might have a group of teenagers and their teachers coming here while doing their Duke of Edinburgh award.

We had a Once-a-Year dinner tonight!

Pasta, Aubergine and cheese bake.
 For 2 people
1 Large Aubergine or two small.
3oz Pasta penne
3 Tablespoons Tomato Puree in third pint hot water
4oz grated mature cheddar
Salt & Pepper

Cook pasta as usual
Slice aubergine fairly thin and fry in olive oil ( I use rapeseed oil) until browned.
Layer aubergines, pasta, puree mix in a baking dish, with a little cheese, salt and good twist of pepper
Save most of cheese for putting over the top.
Bake for 25 minutes in hottish oven.

Forgot to take picture until we had started eating, so this looks a bit messy but tasted lovely

 The reason we only have this once a year is because it is a bit greasy as the aubergines absorb a lot of oil. Also aubergines are not something I buy as we try to eat only our own vegetables most of the time, so we can only eat this if we've grown them in the first place! Which we did this year and have a good crop mainly to sell or we also roast them in a mixed vegetable roast.

Tonight we will be watching New Tricks. We only "found" this programme about 2 series ago and have no idea why we didn't watch it in the earlier series. I'm interested to see how Nicholas Lyndhurst fits in as he is much younger than the other actors in it. There's also a repeat of Only Connect on in a minute - good brain testing quiz.
Better go and put the TV on and the kettle too I think.

Monday, 26 August 2013

For Monday read yesterday

Bank holiday Monday and as predicted much the same as yesterday. The car boot sale was bigger, Him Outside got the best bargain of a battery suitable for the tractor for £15. I found a couple of books and a present to use for Christmas.
We came home, we did the jobs that needed doing, we sat out and read our books.
Tomorrow I MUST do some work, all this sitting about is making me lazy!

Ooops nearly forgot to say - Thanks for comments yesterday.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Car boot bargains on a lazy Sunday.

A couple of really heavy downpours over night and a bit of a grey start but brighter by 7.30 am so after putting the eggs, tomatoes and cucumbers out on the stall we nipped the 4 miles up the road to the car boot. The weather had deterred a few booters so not a huge amount there. Him Outside got a garden spade and fork for £3 for both - a good bargain. These are for our eldest and her other half who have just bought their first home. They asked us to look out for gardening stuff for them - much cheaper here than in Surrey.
I spent the grand total of £2.30 on 4 things

 Furry cover for hot-water bottle - 30p, skipping rope for the Operation Christmas Child box - 50p, a card craft kit from back in the day when Lakeland did craft stuff - £1, and a tin money box in the shape of a telephone box with an 1920's lady making a call, bought for 50p. The first 3 things all have a good use but the money box was just because I liked it and at 50p it didn't do any damage to my purse. It once held toffees according to a label on the base and sold for £4.99.
We were home by 9.30 and after picking some runner beans to put out for sale and apart from the regular campsite loo cleaning and then egg collecting, we have had a lazy day, I wrote a couple of letters, browsed through some more old craft magazines and read a bit while Him Outside listened to cricket.
Tomorrow may well be almost exactly the same!
You can't beat a lazy sunday afternoon. Someone should write a song about it!

Saturday, 24 August 2013

The Start of a Bank Holiday Weekend - but not for us - again!

Once again we are at home looking after the campsite while the world and his wife ( and his mother too probably)  are on jolly holidays! Am I bitter? No don't be daft! Would I really want to be sitting in a traffic jam or a car park somewhere? Or on a crowded beach. I wouldn't mind a quiet, sandy secluded beach but not many of them around on a Bank Holiday weekend.
So while most people were out being tourists, and we've had several showers here today so not the best day to be out,  I've had an enjoyable couple of hours browsing through my Craft Creations Magazines and on their website deciding what to buy with my £10 voucher. Somehow(?) I found £27 of other things I wanted too. Lots of creative papers, 3D decoupage sheets, peel offs, die cut toppers, card blanks - the list goes on. I'm planning lots of card making in the Autumn and Winter. ( No holiday this year  =  a bit of extra spending money - YES!)

My blog yesterday, full of things I couldn't tell you, received lots of comments, more than on the days when I do have something to say, that's a bit worrying. But thank you to everyone for commenting and especially to new visitors.

 Money spent over the Bank Holiday so far = NOTHING

Car boot sale tomorrow weather permitting and Monday too. Good news indeed.

Hope your Saturday has been a good one.

Back tomorrow.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Things I can't tell you about.

Four phone calls today from people who've left it rather late to look for a pitch for the weekend.  Had to say sorry to all as we have our allowance of 5 caravans booked in already.
Picked, packed and put out for sale runner beans, tomatoes, chilli peppers, cucumbers, onions, beetroot, potatoes and they were gone by midday.
Cleaned the campsite facilities and collected eggs.
Made a double size batch of tomato and herb rolls. Sat out in the sun.

That's it!

I can't tell you how we got out of huge debt - we've never had any.
I can't tell you how we are saving to pay off the mortgage - Did that 10 years ago.
I can't tell you what yellow sticker things I've bought - we have  no big supermarkets near enough that do big reductions.
I can't tell you that I'm saving for a holiday- we are not having one this year.
I can't tell you about an interesting day out - I've only been to the doctors and to Tescos this week.
I can't tell you about any food challenges that I'm taking part in - we are frugal everywhere else instead.
I can't tell you about the exciting things we will be doing over the Bank Holiday weekend - we shall be here looking after our campsite as per usual.
I can't tell you about my crafting projects - I'm not doing anything until the autumn.

I can tell you that we have a lovely smallholding in sunny Suffolk, where we live quietly, happily and simply, doing our own thing in our own way.

 That's all folks, back tomorrow.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

A strange weather phenomenon!

Odd weather here on the edge today - rain, on and off all day, haven't had that for 3 months.

Here's another odd thing- a fig, not just any old fig but the only one we've had off our fig tree for 2 years.
I love fresh figs, Him Outside doesn't. Lucky me!

This is what we had all around yesterday afternoon, lots of noise and dust, but finished by early evening
It's cutter is 30 foot wide. So got round the field pretty quickly. They'll be baling next.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Stocking up again; This time it's a years supply of wheat for the chickens

Another lovely day, sunshine and gentle breeze, I'm glad we didn't move west to wet Wales 4 years ago. I think this dry sunny weather makes me feel so much better.
2 caravans out today and 1 caravan and a trailer tent coming in. The caravanners arriving said what a lovely quiet, tidy site we have, so I don't know what they'll think when the farmer who farms the land all around us starts on the wheat cutting, the combine is HUGE and LOUD, but at least with such huge machines they get done quickly, although they sometimes work until midnight!
The friend who we got the 9 chickens from last week, SEE THIS POST  also had lots of wheat, stored in barrels that he wanted to sell, so Him Outside went over with the trailer and collected it all this morning. We chuck a scoop of wheat in whenever we need to go into the chicken runs as it keeps them out of the way- otherwise they get right under you feet. We've now got enough to last a year or more. The barrels have clip on lids so will be handy for all sorts of storage, he also bought 2 big chicken feeders and a carton of new egg boxes. We will probably sell on the feeders via the Suffolk Smallholders newsletter.
Just a quick post today as I want to finish this book asap.

  Her books are always good, if you like historical crime novels and haven't discovered Anne Perry then you are in for a marathon reading session as she's written at least 45 books ( probably more but I've only read two of the series she does) not counting her Christmas novellas.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Apricots - what a treat

Welcome to a new followers - Retrowren Wren  and John Gray- I see I now have 56, did anyone read Johns blog  (Going Gently) the other day when he was wanting more followers so as to get to 600! I think I have a way to go.
Lovely sunny day here today - still need rain though.
We weren't sure what jobs to do today but needed to get some blackthorn out of the fence beside the campsite driveway where it had appeared. ( Don't want a camper or a dog to walk into one of the sharp spines - Health and Safety!) While we had got the secateurs out we decided to start on pruning. Raspberries first, taking out this years fruiting canes and gently bending all the new growth up between the wires. The long bed in the garden was finished, but it got too warm to do the  two new rows in the fruit cage. This is usually a job I do on my own, but with Him Outside not doing any work for anyone else at the moment I had some help. He also did some odd bits of grass cutting in various places and put the topper on the tractor to do some more serious cutting up between the trees at the top of the field.
We had an hour sitting out in the sun this afternoon - the joy of self employment and simple living!

And look what we had for dessert tonight - Our own Apricots.

 We planted two trees in 2008. In 2009 - nothing. 2010 - 2 apricots. 2011 - 4lb. 2012 - nothing. This year 9 apricots. Not exactly a good return on investment, but we are ever hopeful. So for a while we are fruitless as the summer raspberries have finished. Next will be damsons and plums and the autumn raspberries, then apples and pears.Then the long wait until the rhubarb season next spring.

Monday, 19 August 2013

A mini spree at Craft Creations

In the post this morning a £10 gift voucher from CRAFT CREATIONS and the return of my card that I had sent in for a competition ( didn't win a prize) but because it was featured on the Readers Gallery pages I get the voucher. Brilliant.
As you can see it is just a very simple card and that's the really good thing about Craft Creations they cater for people making very complicated paper crafted cards and for un-adventurous  people like me who just do basic stuff.
 I shall use my voucher to get some of their new 3D decoupage sheets and creative papers of birds to use for card making for men - always the hardest to find ideas for. I haven't done any card making for months but will get going on cross stitch and paper crafted cards in the Autumn.

After a  weekend which was full of visitors and too much eating and lots of nattering we are back to normal today. My first job was to skin and then put 6lb of the huge Andine tomatoes into the freezer ready to make chutney or tomato sauces later.
 Next job was to start getting half of the hay shed for some new young pullets we will get at the end of the month. This involved using some shed sections ( which we didn't use for the new campsite shower as it has a concrete floor and a part perspex roof) to divide the empty bit off from the bit where hay is still stored. Some netting has been fixed to the top, just in case a fox decides to climb the bales and drop down into the chicken bit.In the corner of the shed was the remainder of a pile of old pallets that had been stored there ready for  cutting up before we built the other farm building and decided to use that for cutting wood. I suggested moving them to the new shed but Him Outside thought it would be easier to cut them where they were, so for the first time time since last winter out comes the electric chainsaw. Which, because it hasn't been used for 5 months, doesn't want to work. After taking apart, cleaning and putting back together again we are off. He does some cutting and I do the barrowing. It really is a sign of the changing seasons when we start adding to the wood heap ready for the Rayburn and the woodburner. So glad he is feeling well enough too!
The campsite is beginning to get busier as we head towards Bank Holiday weekend. It's been surprising how many people have rung in the last week wanting to come and when I've said " sorry we are already full ( 5 caravans) because it's Bank Holiday" they hadn't realised, as Bank Hol seems earlier than normal. We've also got bookings for the week after too which is good, sometimes things go very quiet then.
Easy meals today mainly featuring leftovers from yesterday.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Too Full To Blog!

We had friends around for the day, nattered a lot, ate too much, too full to blog!

Saturday, 17 August 2013

What if there wasn't a loo to run to?

Thank you to Attila, Sadie and Dc for comments yesterday. For some reason I couldn't leave a reply to Dc - don't know why but the computer won't let me - very strange.

Today has all been about visitors.
First it was getting some cooking and baking done ready for friends coming to see us tomorrow, then several caravanners came to the door for various things, then our elderly friend from the village stopped in for a coffee and just as he was getting up to go some other friends from the Suffolk Smallholders Society called in to find out how Him Outside was getting on. So we ended up having 3 cups of coffee before lunch time and running to the loo for the rest of the day!!

Which links up with the other thing I wanted to blog about today -

The other day Dc at Frugal in Norfolk mentioned the charity Water Aid
find out about them here and by one of those strange co-incidences, what should be in the post this morning but a copy of their newsletter  - Oasis.

 Dc was choosing to give a donation to them this month  and they are one of the charities I support with a small standing order each month. Like Dc I'm writing about this not to appear as a Goody Two Shoes but because they are one of the most worthwhile charities to give to ( In my opinion).
My late mum always said Charity begins at home and was never keen to donate to anything, yet on the other hand she always used to say there is always somebody worse off than yourself. So I'm not sure why she was a bit funny about giving. ( Maybe growing up in Wartime in a family of 6 children with a father who was often ill has something to do with it)
 I've got this feeling that what goes around comes around - is that what they say? - well something like that. So I think if anyone can spare a few quid a month( and with Water Aid even £2 a month can make a difference ) then we should try to help women ( it's almost always women) to be able to give clean water to their children. It's not just water, imagine having to walk for half a mile to find somewhere private to squat to go to the loo and dealing with menstruation with no water to wash with. We don't realise just how lucky we are to turn on the tap and know fresh water is there straight away and to have a loo to run to after three cups of coffee!
Easy access to clean water and hygienic latrines means mothers don't have to spend half their day fetching water, and finding somewhere to go to the loo, that gives them time to grow food for their families and to sell.  Children don't get ill, which means they can go to school. There they get an education which can move them out of poverty. All because of a tap and a latrine in their village.
Water Aid are starting a big campaign to try to bring clean water to everyone by 2030, it would be better if it was even sooner.

Apologies for going on a bit.
I'll be back to normal(?) tomorrow!
PS You would NEVER believe how many empty shop-bought fancy water bottles I find in the campsite bin. OUR TAP WATER IS EXCELLENT QUALITY WHY ARE YOU BUYING BOTTLED?!!

Friday, 16 August 2013

Thoughts on Friday

  • It's funny how today has been a nothing accomplished sort of day, the complete opposite of Wednesday
  • That bit of rain must have helped the garden
  • I hope the campers on bikes found some shelter
  • Wonder if there is anything interesting in this Autumn garden catalogue
  • Better write that cheque for the hay mower repair even though the darn thing went wrong  somewhere else and we still couldn't use it
  • There are too many flies in this house today
  • Why do people buy ice cubes from a supermarket?
  • I'm glad they've still got nectarines for £1
  • Why has our Hospice charity shop become a clearance shop, do they think Leiston is only good enough for the dregs from their other charity shops?
  • Ah ha, a "new" vest top for only a pound!
  • How can doctors be running nearly an hour late by 10.20am?
  • How come we have a whole stack of odd bits of wood but nothing that's the right size to make new chicken perches?
  • Wonder why nobody wants to buy the cucumbers today.
  • Actually I think we could host some coffee,cake and craft mornings for smallholders in winter
  • Noodles or rice?
  • Must remember to phone up about going to the AGM/harvest meal
  • Pro-rata sick pay for temporary County Council staff, how odd but handy.
  • How on earth are we going to shift 6 giant round straw bales from one shed to another?
  • Oh I see- the front forks of the tractor, then shove and roll!
  • Nothing much on TV again tonight.
  • Where's the pen from near the phone gone- AGAIN
  • Shall we get 24 or 30 new point of lay hens at the end of the month
  • Better go and do the watering
  • Bye, Blogging friends, see you tomorrow

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Two emails

Had a lovely email this morning to say that a friends daughter had got the A levels she needed and has got into CAMBRIDGE! So very well done P! She had already got through the interview bit so it all hinged on her results. She worked VERY hard and it has all paid off.
Sadly in the same email my friend also said that their lovely old dog had gone. Always  a sad thing. Him Outside said taking our old dog Lucy to the vets a few years back had been the worst thing he had ever had to do. We buried her under a sweet chestnut tree and she has never been replaced. She was a collie cross rescued dog and was just SO clever, she seemed to understand everything that was said, there was never any need to raise our voice to her. 

An email yesterday was interesting as it was from the Chair of the Suffolk Smallholders Society asking for our help in producing a booklet of memories to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Society which happens at the end of this year/ beginning of next. No one is exactly sure, because it took a while from the first group of people who came up with idea to the Society actually getting started. We got involved almost from the start and Him Outside was Vice Chair and then Chairman while I did the  membership secretaries  job  for AGES! I also wrote a regular monthly bit for the newsletter for most of the last 20 years, until April when I decided that I was repeating myself just a bit too much and started blogging instead.

 Sadly ( in our view) the Society has changed in the last 6 years. At the start it was quite a social group with regular monthly meetings where we had a speaker and then chance for a chat - a useful way to get to know fellow smallholders. We had an annual Smallholders Show which was brilliant for catching up with old friends. ( It was due to promoting the Society and the Show that we got ourselves into the East Anglian Daily Times twice! The second time the headline was 'The Real Good Life Couple'!)  Now it is more of a training group, with courses run for new smallholders, occasional smallholding visits but no regular meetings and no annual show. There are over 300 families who are members yet they now have problems finding enough people to sit on the committee and some of the things that are organised are not well supported. The AGM comes around in September so maybe a new committee will be able to get things done. There was a mention in the newsletter during the winter of maybe starting some daytime get-togethers for those of us who work full time on our holdings and may not get to see many folk. ( Last winter was so long and cold that many people felt isolated) I hope this idea is actually acted upon.

This morning we got yet more weeding done and have nearly caught up with it all.Then two things that seem to mark the change from summer into Autumn, emptying a compost bin onto the rhubarb beds and taking the net off the top of the fruit cage.There is no getting away from the fact that Autumn is just around the corner with winter not far behind.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

How the day goes by on a simple Suffolk Smallholding

 A beautiful sunny morning and we were up and outside by 7am  so that by 8am we had picked, packed and put out on the stall  
 10 boxes of eggs
3 cucumbers
4 bags of good tomatoes
1 bag of cooking tomatoes
2 bunches of beetroot
2 bunches of carrots
2 bags of onions
1 bag of courgettes
4 bags of potatoes
3 large bags of runner beans
1 small bag of runner beans
1 bag of chilli peppers
2 aubergines
And 1 large courgette masquerading as a marrow ( or vice versa)

(By 11 am the whole lot had gone!)

A couple more jobs indoors, washing hung out and we were ready for a cup of coffee by 9am. Bread started, lots of weeding done and  we had another coffee at 10.45!
2 cheques in the post for campsite deposits and new cartridges for the printer. So cheques put away, printer sorted, more campsite welcome leaflets photocopied, potatoes prepared for dinner,bread finished, campsite loos cleaned, some things shifted with the tractor bucket and we were hungry and ready for lunch( lots of home grown salad with some blue cheese, then raspberries) by just after midday.
An hour sitting down, then washing up and wiping up and tidying up. Checking chickens water and collecting and sorting eggs(me) bashing the old hay mower with a hammer to see why it stopped working(Him) and by 2.30 it is time for a proper rest ( Him) and I'm ready for a shower.( No early showers here as we have to wait for the sun to heat the solar water thingy on the roof).
Then a cuppa and a biscuit and some brain work as He watches  Rachel Riley Countdown and I half watch while pinning up the hem on a pair of too long shorts that I'm shortening.
More weeding ( Him) and sewing up the shorts  hem ( me).
Then it's outside to check the chickens water and to pick up any late eggs (me) while he checks emails, then goes out to the poly tunnel to prepare an empty bit for seed sowing.
 Next I pick and prepare some french beans for dinner and we get dinner sorted. ( The other half of yesterdays cheese and tomato quiche,fried potatoes and the gorgeous french beans.) A few more of the last raspberries for dessert. Local news on TV, more washing  and wiping up, watering polytunnels, a shave and shower for Him,  an evening reading and watching TV (and blog reading for me) and that's another day gone!

Thank you to everyone for comments yesterday, the whole of blogland has now got men peeing on compost heaps! and Bridgets comment made me smile.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

A load of rubbish

We are NOT scrap dealers, we DO NOT collect scrap so how is it about once a year or so we have a trailer load of scrap to take to the scrap merchants?

It happens because Him Outsides motto is always accept anything offered as it might come in handy and if you don't accept you won't be offered anything again.
 Friend to Him Outside " I've got a couple of rolls of netting that might be OK for you". Him Outside " OK, bring them round and I'll have a look" Netting is rusting and no good so it is put in a heap tucked away behind the shed.
Another friend" I've got some metal pipes in the garage that came from a gazebo/awning/somewhere or other they might be useful to you for making a fence" Him Outside " OK bring them round and I'll have a look".  Pipes are too thin for fence posts so they are put on the heap.
Another friend " Do you want that old shed that's falling down at the bottom of the garden, it would be good for kindling wood, but you will have to clear it out first". Him Outside " OK , I'll bring the trailer down, clear the shed and the knock it down and bring it back here" Shed contains various old things - lawn mower, bits of old tools, and the roof is rusting tin. Everything is added to the heap.
Neighbour says " Do you want that old bike frame, you might be able to take something off it to use" Bike frame is useless so it gets added to the heap
A Camper arrives on site, unfolds his folding chair and finds it is broken, so leaves it beside the dustbins for us to clear up. The frame is metal and it gets added to the heap.
Daughter moves house " Dad, there's some stuff in our shed and we don't know what to do with it" Dad " Don't worry, chuck it in the back of the car and bring it round and I'll sort it out for you"
You get the idea?
Then there are all the cans from the bins - steel, and even better, aluminium, ( kept separate) old brake discs removed from the jeep, a 50 gallon drum once used for water - now rusty, old nails cleaned out from the Rayburn and woodburner ( once in pallets that we have burned) the list goes on.
So about once  every year or so we load it all up, fix it all down with a big net and trundle off to the scrapyard and come home later with a cheque that will be tucked into the ISA for winter. The price of scrap metal has fallen compared to what it was a few years ago but it is still a handy amount.

Thank you to Pam, Bridget and Gill for comments yesterday. If anyone didn't like my rant about foxes they kept very quiet about it. And yes Him Outside also pees on the compost heap, it's well known as a good  compost accelerator!

Monday, 12 August 2013

9 extra chickens

Last night we had a phone call from a friend in the Suffolk Smallholders Society, I would put a link here but the website is rubbish so I won't bother! He was looking for a home for his 9 remaining chickens. A few days ago he had 20, but everyday a family of foxes would appear and kill two or three, so he had decided to give up as they are moving soon anyway.
We said yes, of course, working on the theory that you never turn down anything as you don't get asked a second time! ( More about this tomorrow)
Now there are people out there who like foxes, people who feed them in their gardens, an animal protection Society that catches urban foxes,tends them if the are injured and then lets the B....... things loose in the countryside. If you are one of these people then you are NUTS! They kill for fun not always for food,they have no natural predators and then twats in the government supported by people in cities banned fox hunting.( Ooops Simple Suffolk Smallholder upsets all city dwellers and causes  offence again - nothing new there then!)
Every day, all over the countryside there are people who go out to tend their chickens to find a fox has attacked and all that's left is some carcases and feathers.They might be rare breed hens or a source of income for the family but the fox doesn't care.
We have, so far, TOUCH WOOD been very lucky and haven't lost any. When we first came here a gamekeeper who raised pheasants and looked after the shooting in the local woods would tell us when he had seen a fox and then get rid of it. Now there is no local shoot so we use electric netting run by a car battery. This pulses a current which foxes can hear and tend to stay away from. The chickens are shut up as soon as they go to bed at dusk and the sheds are secure and fox proof. We also do strange witch type things like sprinkling our cut hair in the gaps at the top of the field where a fox could walk in. Him Outside will pee up there too - foxes don't like that! When we had a dog we would walk her around the whole field every day leaving nice doggy scents behind.
The men working for a tree cutting company have recently removed all the undergrowth and trees that were growing under the pylons, leaving an open space - nowhere for fox to hide, hopefully that will also help us.
We had to quickly sort out what to do with 9 extra chickens. The best time to introduce a group of chickens into another group( Adding one or two chickens into an established group can cause drastic problems - like them killing each other) is during the night, this wasn't an option. Had we have put the new hens straight outside with the others they wouldn't have known where to go to bed tonight. So we sectioned off part of the shed and put the nine in the small bit leaving the pop-holes open for the others to go in and out as usual in the rest of the shed. Hopefully we will let them all out tomorrow morning and they will sort themselves out.
Before we did that we had to clean out the shed ( and we also did the other bigger chicken shed out on the field), dust all crevices with red mite powder and Him Outside used some waste oil on the underside of the perches to discourage the red mite from hiding there. Red Mite are a real problem in summer. If you suddenly find your chickens going off lay or refusing to go up on their perches at night then you could have red mite lurking, ready to come out at night and feast on the chickens blood - YUCK. We also found a big clump of them on a couple of bricks that were being used under the feeder to  raise it up off the shed floor.
Our next chicken related job will be moving 5 big round straw bales that are in half of our hay shed and preparing that area to take 24 young hens which we will get at point of lay. When they are laying well we will take our very old batch of layers to a friend who will use them for ferret food! Then we will move the new hens outside. Buying point-of-lay hens in the autumn will ensure they carry on laying right through the winter, whereas some of the older ones may slow down a bit as the days get shorter.
It's been a very productive day today lots of jobs done outside, several phone calls for campsite bookings and loads of vegetables out and sold on the stall. No housework done at all!

Are all our eggs in one basket- No this is only half of them!

PS welcome to another new follower today.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Shock Announcement - I Think I've gone off car boot sales!

We hadn't been to one for several weeks due to either being busy or Him Outside being stuck in hospital, so I was looking forward to a trip to the local one, and there were several boots there. I wandered up and down 10 rows- about 50 boots, found some melamine coasters with chickens on for £1.50 and a new tiny nailbrush in the shape of a duck ( 20p) to go into the Samaritans Purse Operation Christmas Child shoebox ( I'm doing one for a girl of 10 - 14 this year.) If you haven't heard of this, with my new skill of putting links you can find out about it HERE. Although I would be surprised if you didn't know about it as they seem to send out loads of 'junk 'mail every year. After that I just couldn't be bothered to walk around the rest of the field. I hadn't even seen anything else I wanted, let alone needed.  All  Him Outside found was a small garden fork for our eldest, they've just bought their first home with a garden to tackle.So we were home again by just after 9 am.
The family were out visiting friends that they were at school with so we had a lazy afternoon and then waved them all goodbye until next time they visit.

While they were out I read one of the library books that I collected on Friday.
Karen at Chelmarsh Chunterings said she was reading this but got a bit bored.  I didn't get bored but I did get cross as I often do with books by people who have moved out of London into the country and bought a whole load of animals without having any money and anyway|if they had sold a London flat and he was still working as an estate agent in London how come they had no money?!
 Of course it all turns out happily ever after as they become completely self sufficient, they run courses on self-sufficiency, he writes for various newspapers and magazines and this is his second book.
I'm only cross as I'm slightly envious as we might have done all those things except we had children, and when we were on the radio and in the local paper it was before the internet so we didn't suddenly find ourselves famous. Actually I wouldn't want to be famous and never felt the need to spend so much time being self -sufficient that there was no time for anything else.We also never wanted to turn our smallholding into a fully fledged business. So scrub all that about being envious!
I'm not adding this to my wishlist of books to buy sometime, as I probably wouldn't want to read it again. His first book was called The Self  Sufficiency Bible and was published in 2010. I did borrow it from the library at the time but also didn't bother to look out for it cheap as it didn't tell me anything new really.
We seem to have had 2 days without doing much, Him Outside is feeling tons better so next week we really must get on with some work.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

A family visiting day

Our two children who don't live in the area are visiting this weekend ( to check that their Dad really is OK!). Our eldest daughter has just explained what I doing wrong when trying to put in a link to another site,  so to practice my new skill you can find out  about the company she does the print designs for here . Our son is an archaeologist  and lives in Wing where he is involved in a local history project which you can read about here. Our youngest daughter is only down the road in Leiston so she and her partner will join us for a take away meal tonight. Our son's partner is not keen on Chinese, but that's my favourite so we may have to collect from both Indian and Chinese - a rare treat!

Friday, 9 August 2013

MOT Pass - Thank Heavens!

With Him Outside not being able to have a look at or service our pain-in-the-a**e of a Jeep Cherokee before it went for it's MOT, we were not at all sure if it would pass. Thank goodness it did, one less thing to sort out. The darn thing has been a pain ever since we got it although it does what we got it for - that is pulling a big trailer everywhere including over fields easily. It is very comfortable to ride in and feels very safe as it's built like a tank! But we have to take a fuse out all the time as it runs the battery down for some strange reason that no-one has been able to fathom. So we can't use the radio or central locking (slightly annoying) unless we are on a long journey and then we put the fuse in. In winter we have to make sure it's tucked up in the workshop or it's liable to sulk and not start. Every now and again we discuss changing it but then decide we might as well keep it as its 10 years old now and any other secondhand vehicle might have just as many problems. We've had it  5 years so  we've got our moneys worth out of it .

We have a pointy pepper DISASTER! the pointy peppers are NOT SWEET! it was a packet bought from a car boot sale, they look right, but they are hot as chillies. The proper sweet ones are one of Him Outsides favourite things in a salad, so he is bereft!

Hip Hip Hooray - it's library van day! It doesn't seem like 4 weeks since I last had the book photo but here it is again. This is today's haul and the problem is that I didn't have time to read all of last months so have rather a lot of library books to get through in the next four weeks.
Actually that's not a problem at all!

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Campsite Inspection Day

Every year the Camping and Caravan Club site inspectors come around to look at our campsite. The couple who've been coming for several years are retiring so this will be their last year. They don't get paid, only expenses and spend several weeks in summer just going around looking at Certificated Sites. It's not a job I would like, apparently some site owners are awkward and don't like the inspectors coming, it doesn't bother me as I know everything on site is OK. My biggest moan every year is how little mention us small site owners get in the Club Magazine. Lots of information about the big Club sites though. They need us CS owners as membership of the Club increases year on year and without us there wouldn't be enough pitches for all the members.

Before they arrived we had a visit from the Healthy Heart Rehab Lady. I wanted to listen in to find out what Him Outside will and won't be able to do. It seems he needs to take things steady until the next stent is done and then build up strength until he should be able to do almost everything he could do before, except avoiding things that causes strain on the chest area, like really heavy lifting and pushing a heavy wheelbarrow. So that's good news as it means between us we should be able to manage all the normal work here.  Keeping his blood pressure low seems to be the most important thing, so that will need regular checking, and we had better not have any arguments!

I heard a bit of interesting news early this morning on the radio. It has been discovered
- probably- that drinking two cups of hot chocolate drink every day could have a good effect on slowing the narrowing of blood vessels in the brain that cause dementia. It was a very small survey and seems to be all ifs, buts and maybes, but I reckon two cups of drinking chocolate everyday sounds like a very good idea, whatever the effect!

See How They Grow!

This is the first photo I took of the tomatoes in the new big polytunnel

Here is the second, several weeks later

Here they are today after a good tidy up and lots of leaves removed to let the light in, and a close up of some of the best plants. We are dissappointed with the San marzano plum plants this year they are poor , some with only 1 truss of fruit set.
I had a count up to see exactly how many plants we have in the 3 tunnels. There are 75 tomatoes, 8 cucumber, 7 aubergine, 11 chilli peppers, 10 traditional shaped pepper plants and 12 of the pointy pepper. We are selling 5 or 6 bags of toms ( just over 8oz in each bag) every day and 2 or 3 cucumbers. The chilli peppers are sold in a bag of about 8 for 50p, with a bag selling every other day roughly. The other peppers are still to ripen to red.
8pm and jobs done for the day, a load of nothing on TV so it's time for a good read.
Back tomorrow

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Eating my words

Before I forget I must say welcome to a new follower lisamaywalters, now up to 52 followers, may be a while until I catch up to Ilona and Frugal Queen!

Yesterday I finished by saying I was off to check Approved Foods to see if I could find the sort of bargains other people blogged about. And what did I find straight away? Bread Flour! which I had also mentioned on my blog yesterday. AF had Hovis 3kg  ( i.e. double normal size) for 50p a bag - now that IS a bargain. I also found some other things which were on my shopping list for this month or next month, the cheapy tins of mandarins at 8 for £1 which they always seem to have in stock(  for winter stores) and a couple of things for next weekend when the family are coming to visit to check their Dad really is  OK! Total just a fraction over £16, with a saving of over £30. I'm semi converted. Although it was the bread flour that persuaded me and I probably won't buy from them again for many months.

Him Outside is beginning to get some energy back so we finally got around to doing some much needed weeding in poly tunnels and veg beds, which I hadn't had time for in the last fortnight. There is still a lot to do but we are taking it steady. He now has a date for the second visit to Papworth - Mid September, so not too long to wait.

We also had a look to see what our main crop potatoes are like - Oh Dear! Not good at all due to  signs of blight and lack of rain. The squash plants are also suffering from the prolonged dry spell. He then held the bottom of the step ladder and used a hoe to hook down the branches of the Morello cherry so that I could climb up and pick some from higher. Normally it would be me on the ground and him up the ladder!

Anyone else take Craft Creations Magazine? Its the only one I like as it is produced by the Craft Creations card making supplies company so there are discounts available for subscribers. Plus it is only 4 times a year for £12, so not wildly expensive like most of the crafting magazines at the newsagents. I had a card featured in the Readers Gallery in the latest edition and was expecting a voucher - I think it was £10  I had last time, but nothing has arrived. Maybe they don't do that  anymore. I shall email to find out.

It was hair cutting day today. No trips to expensive hairdressers for us. We have the cutters so he does mine - a 6 all over, and I do his - a 3 all over with a 2 round the edges. Simple, cheap, tidy. What more do you need from a haircut! How much does your hair cut cost? In the interests of frugality would you ever DIY?

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Odds and Ends

How are some people able to buy 4 pints of milk for £1? I've read this on a couple of blogs lately. Around here CO-OP and Tesco have just both put their semi skimmed up by 10p to £1.39. Waitrose are the only other shop locally, I expect they are the same. I know some people have swapped to powdered but too many years of Scout Camps with horrible powdered milk - with lumps- has somewhat put me off, although I expect it is better quality nowadays.

We had even more stuff out on the stall-at-the-gate this morning as the runner beans have finally got going. They were covered in flowers which set then seemed to go slow. I was only able to give them a good watering two or three times over the last couple of weeks but with rain a day or so ago and another good downpour last night they are now  growing quickly.

Sara at Afrugalwife has been blogging about ways of cutting  laundry costs, this made me look at at my laundry costs over the last year. (I know there are only 2 of us , so with Sara's two tots a lot more washing would be done! and she has done really well.) My laundry costs - not counting electric - for the last 15 months have been about £22 ! I bought an Ecover Non-Bio Bag in a Box 5L laundry liquid. This is decanted into an old 5L container and then again into a smaller bottle as needed. I have a plastic thing once used to fill an iron with water and into this I put about 2 Tablespoons of the liquid and then top up with hot water and add about a tablespoonful of Washing Soda Crystals (99p kg). This goes into the machine. I don't use fabric softener and keep a bar of Vanish soap in the cupboard for stains. I guess we do about 4 or 5 loads of washing a week. Bath Towels are hung over the banister at the top of the stairs to dry after one use and only put in the wash after the second or even third use. When we go out and are forced to wear 'good clothes',  I change out of them the minute I come in the door and then hang them up at the end of the rail to wear again. Old work clothes are worn until they are dirty. I don't think we smell!! We do have a tumble dryer as we rescued it from my Dad's house after he died, but it is out in the shed and doesn't get used much. Clothes are dried outside whenever possible, over the airer above the Rayburn to finish them off  in winter. We have the advantage of living in the dryest part of the country so I can usually guarantee enough dry days in a week to get the washing at least partly dry outside. To save electric on days when I know the washing will dry outside, I turn the spin speed down. All washing is done at 40 degrees with an occasional hot wash to help clean the washing machine( We use Ecover as it is better for the septic tank and also because we  LOATHE the smell of both the cheap and the posh soap powders.)

It was bread baking day today. I'm very puzzled at the price of bread flour which seems to be going up and down at random. Allinsons was still £1 last time we went to Aldi so I stocked up with 4 bags and Tesco own brand was also £1 after going up and then down again. If I didn't have to cut costs I would buy Marriages flour from the CO-OP as they are an Essex Company using wheat from East Anglia. They do a lovely Malted Grain flour which, many years ago when there were 5 of us at home, I would buy by the sackful from a wholefood warehouse in Norwich.

GRRRRRRR - another cancellation for the campsite today from a family who were due to be here all next week. I suppose I should be used to it after all these years.But I still hate doing the crossing out in the bookings diary.

I'm now going to have another look at the Approved Foods site. Everyone keeps raving about their bargain buys yet every time I look I can't seem to find anything I would normally buy and is a bargain really a bargain if it is something that would normally not be bought?

Monday, 5 August 2013

It's all just Common Sense

We needed to go and get some chicken feed, wheat, oyster shell and hen grit from the Feed Milling Company and some packaging for vegetables, so that was our morning out. Him Outside is not allowed to drive for this week but he came along for the ride. I don't mind driving a 50 mile round trip on country back roads but the same distance to Ipswich I shall need more practice at. We  needed some perforated plastic bags and and small punnets for this year but thought that as we were there we might as well  stock up on punnets for next years gooseberry crop too, so I now have 500 x 500g punnets and 350 x 250g  punnets - be prepared is my motto - after 20 years as a Cub Scout Leader their motto rubbed off on me! 
Two things in the news have interested me.( Well, three things really if you include news about food banks, food price increases and the rush for the rich and famous to jump on the frugal food bandwagon) Anyway what I want to say was I heard about a survey that said how many people were unable to point to the part of their bank statement that showed the balance and didn't know that was how much money they had available (or not available as the case may be). The second piece of news was about the number of people on zero hours contracts. Zero Hours contract is when you are             " employed" but only if they want you to work and you only get paid if you do work. You are not unemployed therefore no benefits. This seems to hark back to the thirties where the men would queue at the docks or outside a factory and wait to see how many men would be taken on that day. In a way it is similar to being self employed. If you don't find a way to earn money then you have no income and you don't get any benefits either, at least not in the short term.
How can you educate people about money, surely it must start in the home and at school. I'm old enough to remember savings stamps at school where you took along sixpence ( that's 2 and a half p to anyone born since 1971) and bought a little stamp. This was stuck into a book and at the end of the summer term a lady would come to school and give out the money that you had saved ready for the summer holidays. An easy way to learn that if you save a little bit regularly it adds up a lot. 
As children we spent ages rubbing coins with paper and crayon, then cutting them out and playing shops with toys or whatever. I think there are plans to bring personal finance into the school curriculum, hopefully that will help.
We've never been in debt, thanks to Him Outside always being in work, although well below the national average for much of our early years together. And I have to say also thanks to my skill at working out what was  important to pay for and want we could cut back on.
The mortgage was always top priority, then council tax (or the rates as it was called back then). Water rates, electric bill, TV licence were saved for bit by bit. At that time you could buy savings stamps at the Post Office to save towards many things- stuck on a card to save them just like school days.
 Living in the country a car was virtually a  necessity, so road tax,insurance,MOT were also saved for in tins in the kitchen cupboard. Just as now, the things that could be cut back on were food,clothes,furnishings and extras. The trouble is that now many people think the extras are theirs by right. Somehow a lot of folk are going to have to take a different outlook on what they spend their money on.
We are self employed, we only earn money if we work. We have no pensions yet or insurance. If Him Outside is unable to work for other people for the next few weeks then our only income will be from the campsite, what we sell at the gate plus the bit of interest from investments.  Someone visiting yesterday to see how he was seemed very surprised that we had kept the campsite open for me to manage on my own. Last week another person phoned to ask how things were going for him in hospital and was surprised to find I hadn't been to see him for a couple of days. But chickens need tending to, plants need watering and campers need looking after. That's why I stayed to look after things and because of our skill at managing we will get through whatever happens. Can you learn that at school? or is it something that seems to be sadly lacking in so many areas of life nowadays-good old Common Sense. 
This morning Him Outside asked if I had ever taken a picture of the stall at the gate when it was fully loaded with fruit and veg? Then he passed me my camera - so here it is - full of goodies for lucky people to buy. I say lucky because by midday the whole lot except for the marrows had been bought! 

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Belated Review of the Month- Looking Back At July

On the plus side first
  1. We earned more than we spent - always a good start to the review of the month.
  2. We were able to save some into the ISAs
  3. The weather was lovely and sunny at last. ( Longest sunny spell since 2006)
  4. Despite numerous machinery breakdowns ( and a useless hay turner that will have to be returned to the place we got it from) The HUGE haymaking job was done. The first 70 bales were sold. There is still money for 230 bales to come, plus 350 more bales will provide us with a small income through the Autumn and early winter, - the man who is having  them  needs to spread his cost and we are happy to do it that way too.
  5. The campsite income was good and has been saved for winter.
  6. The path along the back of the house was finished.
  7. There were some excellent tennis matches at Wimbledon,  and Andy Murray triumphed and seemed a much less grumpy person than in previous years
  8. An excellent gooseberry harvest resulted in a grand total of 286lb. Some were put into the freezer, 12lb swapped for picture framing and the rest were sold bringing an income of approx £375!!
  9. No vegetables were bought during the whole month - we were completely self-sufficient. 
  10. The new raspberry rows gave their first good crop so with strawberries available early in the month, the only fruit bought were nectarines/peaches.
  11. Numbers 8 and 9 meant the food spending was well in budget leaving some spare to give to our youngest and her partner for food on the days they took me to hospital, and didn't have time to cook.
  12. Another lovely pile of books from the library van( most of which I haven't had time to read yet - can't think why?!)
  13. Loads of tasty fruit and vegetables to eat and to sell on the stall at the gate including Salad stuff, Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Runner beans, Climbing French Beans, Chilli peppers, Beetroot, Raspberries, Courgettes, Marrows, Morello Cherries.
  14. Lots of Best wishes from fellow bloggers helped to get me through the 10 days on my own. Special mention to Bridget who sent so many positive vibes that there were none left in Dorset and her minibus failed it's MOT!
  15. Emails and a gift from my Penny Pinching friend S in  Hagley and an extra letter from my penfriend W on Tiree, also helped me through.
  16. Him Outside got small cheques for moving the irrigator,grass cutting and for rotavating at Friston allotments.
  17.  Got my paper storage sorted in the craft room for £10 after finding the drawer units at a car boot sale.

  • Little did we know that when Him Outside returned from hospital after the angiogram he would then be rushed in by ambulance and be stuck there and at Papworth for the next 10 days!
  • The hot weather and their age resulted in some of our chickens going off lay.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Happy Saturday!

Oh it is nice to have Him Outside home again. He has had a wander around the garden a couple of times and lots of rests. The tablets that he had to take for 8 days  to drastically lower pulse rate and blood pressure will take a while to get out of the system. Then it's 6 weeks or so of  pottering about here before another trip to Papworth after which he will be a new man! As my friend said " did you want a new man?" :-)
It's been a lovely day here today with a strong breeze keeping temperatures down to a comfortable level and a good rain during the night has watered all the outside stuff - saving me a job later.
Yesterday I said we had had a cancellation for the campsite  this weekend and today someone rang asking for a space for 3 nights so that worked out well.
My return to the world of village show competition was nice. I entered 15 classes, veg.,cookeryand crafts and came home with two firsts,six seconds and one third. Grand total of £6.70 won, less the £3 fees ( 20p  each class entered) less going up and down to Knodishall so maybe a profit of £1? But people don't enter shows for the prize money, it's to see these little stickers on the cards. I was most pleased with my 2nd for a jar of gooseberry jam. I had just enough fruit from our one red gooseberry bush to make a pound of jam and mine was the only red gooseberry. I've never won a prize in the jam classes before. Also got a second for pumpkin and pepper chutney. Firsts were for cucumbers and eggs. My poem came 2nd. Someone had come up with the idea of a poem with each line starting with the letters KNODISHALL. Very clever- why didn't I think of that!
I found a couple of books on the Church Secondhand book stall so all in all a very Happy Saturday!

Tomorrow I really will get around to doing the Review of the Month for July.

Friday, 2 August 2013

He is home safe and sound!!

Him Outside is now Him at Home Resting!
He had quite a nasty time at Papworth ( although the food is a lot better than that at Ipswich apparently), things didn't quite go as easily as they might have done. But he is now home and sitting in his armchair, feeling better than he has done for more than two weeks. The doctor told him that he is on "light duties" for 4 - 6 weeks until he gets back to Papworth for the second stent. I suggested this could be cooking dinner, washing dishes and wiping up !
Now I must say a HUGE BIG THANK YOU to all these people who left best wishes for us over the last week and a bit.
Sadie C
The Domestic Storyteller
And I hope I haven't missed anyone
It was really nice to find all the lovely messages every day and it has  helped me  to know so many people were thinking about us.

Now some replies to questions
The giant tomatoes are a variety called Andine Cornue and I got them from The Organic Gardening Company. This is the third year we've grown them and the tomato I took the picture of is the biggest one we have ever had. They are grown in the poly tunnel and originally come from South America.

The campsite is a Camping and Caravanning Club C.S. site. In their Big Sites Book or on the web site we are 156/165. We are open until the end of October as long as the weather is OK. We should have had 5 caravan/motorhomes on site tonight but then I had a cancellation this morning. It made me smile as the lady, after apologizing for cancelling the three nights, said "we are self-employed so have to work around things". I thought -well so am I and that's £36 that I've just lost out on!

I shall have an early start tomorrow to pick and pack stuff for sale and then to choose the best 2 courgettes, cucumbers and peppers to take down to the local show. Entries have to be in before 10.30. Then I shall dash down again at 2pm to see if I've won anything and to check out the secondhand book stall and then pop back again at 4pm to collect any winnings! ( first prize =£1 second prize is 70p and third prize is 50p. So big money involved! and to bring home the cross stitched things. I'll leave the rest for auctioning off.

It's two days into August and I wanted to do my review of July but still haven't had a chance to think about things.Except to hope that August is slightly more peaceful so that I can go back to being just a Simple Suffolk Smallholder.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Flower show entry and a giant tomato

Many thanks to everyone who kept fingers crossed for Him Outside.News from Papworth is sort-of OK. He had a heart-stopping moment - literally - when they did the worst bit of the collapsed artery so although he will be home tomorrow he will have to go back again in a few weeks time with resting in between. Looks like I will still be busy!
I suddenly realised that the local village flower and produce show is on Saturday and as I had already made the jam and craft things I really wanted to enter them.

 Today was the last date for entries so I did a dash down to the village with my form. I decided not to do masses of cake cooking entries - not a lot of time for baking - so I'll just do Suffolk Rusks, Fruit Scones and Cheese Scones, with just a few things from the garden and the craft things. A total of  15 classes entered.

The poetry entry was a short poem about a village.
This is what I came up with
A Village

A chapel, a Pub and a Church
A lady who'll cut your hair
A School for village children
With a shop and a Post Office there

This is the perfect village
Once found both near and far
 Then along came modern life
When everyone has a car

But it is people who make a village
Who stop to laugh and chat
And the village flower and produce show
Is the ideal place for that.

My final photo today is the first of the giant Andine Tomatoes, pictured beside a £2 coin so you can see it's size. It weighed just over 13oz. They are a pain to get germinated, difficult to grow and always look as if they about to keel over. But the taste!! With virtually no seeds and a very thin skin they are just delicious.
Yes, honestly, that is a tomato! I had half for my lunch and the other half for my dinner. YUM
I really WILL get around to answering comments especially to potential campsite visitors as soon as I have a bit more time. I also need to do a review of the month for July too. Just need more hours in the day.
 Thank you everyone for your bloggy support.


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