Saturday 31 May 2014

New shed Stage 2 + log splitting.

We got off to an early start and had the concreting finished and everything tidied up, cleaned and put away by 11.30. The ballast was on the trailer so it was easier for C to shovel downwards into the mixer. I did the wheel-barrowing and tipping out and he did the mixing and leveling.

We've put a plastic fence around so as to avoid small cat paw prints which were always a feature of any concreting done years ago.
Then it was in for showers and changing out of cement splattered clothes before lunch

After lunch  C was outside and came in asking did I know the wood splitter had appeared? We asked our farmer friend if we could borrow it about 4 months ago but it was being used on another farm. Then suddenly this afternoon there it was standing in the hayshed.
Of course as it was a chance to play with a bit of machinery, C was out there in 2 seconds flat! We have a couple of piles of wood to split, some already seasoned and some cut down after the gales in December.
I lagged behind a bit as I was still sorting and boxing the eggs,  then took the camera up for an 'action' photo.
Difficult to capture any action with an hydraulic log splitter!

 A few minutes after taking this a pipe blew off showering engine oil all over the tractor cab. Whoops. It was soon fixed although clearing the oil up will take a while longer. I thought I had better help so there we were, me lifting the logs onto the splitter, him operating the handle, some of the logs into a builders bag and some into the wheelbarrow for me to take them to the shed.
We got one pile sorted and then I rebelled as I wanted to watch Andy Murray at the French Open.

Thank you for comments yesterday about which of my draft blogs I should finish first, now I'm worried because I don't think any of them will be as interesting as you think! No time to finish them for a while either.

Nearly 3lb of strawberries picked today. Yummy yum yum.

Back Tomorrow

Friday 30 May 2014

Catching up weather.

Just a quick post today as I have a good book to finish this evening.
(Anna Quindlen- Still life with breadcrumbs)

At last a morning when I was able to get outside and catch up on work not done when the weather was bad.
C has got our small motor mower working better so that now I have to run to keep up instead of struggling to keep it moving.I didn't realise he had done it so it was quite a shock when I started it up and it went zooming off with me hanging on behind. I also got the flower border weeded and was pleased to find that several foxgloves and aquilegia  have  seeded themselves so there are several baby plants growing.

And my radio arrived, it looks brilliant and I'm so pleased I saved up for it. If I had gone out and bought it using money from savings I would have felt guilty for spending on something I didn't really need. That's the trouble with frugal living - sometimes you get too frugal and become unable to enjoy spending anything at all.
I have  4 posts half started in the drafts file, I really must find time to get them done.
Which one do you want first
Cost Effective Self sufficiency or Self Sufficiency at any cost?
Avoiding Gadgets?
10 things to take if you were a pioneer?
Checking Finances?

Then I will need to do the Year In Books Link for June  and my usual Review of the Month. I just need an extra day next week!

Back tomorrow ( after concreting the shed base)

Thursday 29 May 2014

Talking about comments

I love the way blogging is so informative. Yesterday I wrote about the bees under/in a small space on the cement mixer and Ellen commented that they look like Tree Bees and gave the site details for more info.
See Here
They certainly look like the picture and behave in the same way as the information says. The best thing is that they are brilliant for pollinating. Both raspberry beds are constantly covered with them. I think there is a saying that Nature Abhors a Vacuum, so have these bees moved in to fill the gap left by the absence of Honey and Bumble bees?
We shall leave them well alone and will be hiring a cement mixer for Saturdays concreting.

It's been a nasty day not a lot of rain, but grey and cold with drizzle every now and again. I managed to get some jobs done outside first thing this morning, 2 more pepper plants and 3 pots of Basil into the poly-tunnel, 9 squash plants potted from modules into pots and 2 cucumbers, bought from the car boot sale to replace the 2 that got eaten, also into bigger pots.
I put 3 pots of Basil and 3 bunches of flowers out for sale but only 1 bunch sold today but we did sell £20 worth of eggs so there must have been some passing traffic.

Our campsite stands empty tonight, the first night with nobody here since early April. The forecast is good for the weekend so maybe we will get a phone call tomorrow. I did wonder if we would get people wanting to come so they could visit Minsmere where Springwatch is being filmed.

Going back to yesterdays comments Jackie says she reads via Feedly, is there a way to find who follows via feedly? or are they all mystery readers. You are all very welcome whoever and where ever you are and Hello again to AlisonB43 in Scarborough, I thought you were down south somewhere.

Back tomorrow

Wednesday 28 May 2014

A Buzzy problem

A much better day today even a little bit of sunshine this afternoon. On Radio 4 this morning they mentioned that Weybourne on the North Norfolk coast had 33 hours of continuous rain, I'm glad we didn't get that much. The big motorhome decided to stay another night as they know they are on hard ground and will be able to get off OK.

C has got the frame of the shed done and stood it up so I could see how big it is = HUGE. My old shed is 7' x 10' and the new one at 14' x 8' doesn't sound much bigger but there will be room for everything. I'm sure I shall soon fill it up and being the shed that's nearest the house all sorts of things get dumped there while waiting to go elsewhere.

We put the first produce out for sale today - 3 bunches of  flowers (Alstromeria, is that how to spell it?) at £1 bunch, and 5 bags of 'Fresh dug new potatoes' at 50p a bag.(Approx 500g) C wanted to see how the potatoes under fleece were getting on but as he had to dig 4 roots to get this amount, we will wait a while longer before digging anymore to sell. We never sell things by weight because if you do you have to have special scales which need testing by Trading Standards- much too much hassle. So everything is sold by the bag, by the bunch or by the punnet. If people think they are not getting value for money then they won't come back but as we sell everything we put out that's never been a problem for us.

C went to pull out the cement mixer to bring nearer the house for doing the concrete base of the shed.
He was surrounded very quickly by several  small annoyed  bees. They are not Honey bees and not as big as a Bumble and there are not hundreds of them, they spend a lot of time on the raspberries and we can't afford to lose them.
Difficult to take a picture of bees under a cement mixer but the brown bit almost in the middle of the photo is a bee and that's where they have decided to live for the summer. We have another lot in the roof of the workshop.
We don't want to have to dress in beekeeping gear to make cement for the shed base so it looks as if we may have to hire a mixer unless we can borrow one.

I'm trying to catch some of the French Open tennis on TV, I love the tennis season - French Open, Queens Club and Wimbledon. It's a pity it comes at our busiest time of the year.

Welcome to a new follower - Countryside Tales on Google friends and to some new people following on Bloglovin'- Elizabeth, Jane and Kate are all new I think although numbers have only increased by 1, so someone or two have un-followed! Shock Horror!
I'm pleased to see Vintage Vicki back in the world of blogging. She is the blogger who lives closest to us on the edge of Suffolk.
Thanks also to everyone else for comments yeserday.

Back tomorrow

Tuesday 27 May 2014

Serves me right for crowing

I spent all weekend saying how nice and dry it was here and it's come back to haunt me as the weather has been awful for most of the day.
It was just about dry when I dashed out to pick strawberries - almost 2lb-  before lunch time and not too bad earlier when I popped to Mr Ts supermarket for milk and a few other bits to last the rest of the month. This means that I don't need to shop until June and that means there is £50 left in my purse. I'm not sure how, as food spending wasn't far under budget, but as we've been no further than the car boot sales all month there has been no occasion to use money elsewhere.

So whoopee! After 5 months I can order my Roberts red retro digital  radio.

Now I want to save for a better digital camera. Taking photos is something I've always done. Years ago I had a simple Russian SLR, cheap and cheerful but brilliant quality pictures. The little Canon that C got me for my birthday last year is OK but I find it very frustrating as the zoom is only x5. I would also like a viewfinder so I can see what I'm pointing at. There seem to be dozens of DSLR cameras on the market and they are not cheap. It will take a long time to save up for. I shall do some research.

We had no one due in on the campsite but a large motorhome arrived so we've put them on the edge of the campsite and driveway where they won't get stuck - in case we have even more rain.

C thought about taking a load of horse muck from our neighbours down to Leiston to his customers allotments but was put off by the rain, the tractor has a bit of a cab but not very weather proof. He was planning to bring back a load of ballast for concreting the shed floor. Instead he has spent the day working on the frame of the shed which he can do out of the rain. He 'found' some wooden window frames which were up in the roof of the workshop ( might come in handy) and has cut them down to fit.

The forecast for the rest of the week is pretty dire too and it's the Suffolk Agricultural Association Show tomorrow and Thursday. I used to love going to the show and  watching the show jumping, going around the food hall and craft tents and seeing how many free cups of coffee and other drinks I could blag ( Barclays Bank used to do Pimms - very nice too) but we haven't been for years. It's very expensive now just to get in and once in too many temptations and it's huge- miles and miles of walking around. It will be fun tomorrow for all the rich, famous and the cream of Suffolk families as the ladies struggle through the mud in their high heels, unsuitable clothes and with one hand clutching their hats!

Many thanks for comments yesterday. I've added westwickdreaming to my blog roll for reading - a new smallholder just getting started.

Back tomorrow

Monday 26 May 2014

Come outside and see my cherries!

Morello Cherries that is
coming along nicely.

And the gooseberries too,

they look as if they will be ready soon.

Hope everyone had a good bank holiday weekend, we were so lucky with the weather as it's been another fine day here.

Many thanks for all the comments yesterday
Back tomorrow

Sunday 25 May 2014

Bank Holidays are for other people, not for us.

When I walked up the field to let the chickens out just after 7 this morning the sky was blue and the sun shining, there was no wind so no road noise from the A12 which is 3 miles away, the tourists  were not yet on their way to Aldeburgh so the A1094 , which is 2 miles away   was also quiet. All the campsite visitors were tucked up behind the curtains in their campervans/caravans and I thought how lucky I was to be up and about on such a glorious morning.
A young hare ran across the field and two small rabbits disappeared into the undergrowth near the pond. Blackbirds and all sorts of other birds were happy in the hedges.
Then trundling up the road from the farm came the huge sprayer machine thingy, he turned into the field that goes all around our 5 acres and started going up and down. Peace shattered!
So the  farming contractors who farm all the land around here are working on a Bank Holiday Sunday and I suppose you could say we do too.
The caravan that's been here for 19 days was away today so C needed to cut the grass where they had been. A motorhome that arrived yesterday was having problems with their fridge so asked if they could borrow some ice packs - no problem. The campsite toilets and shower needed cleaning as usual and the bins checked. Two caravans arrived and needed welcoming and showing where everything is, and of course the eggs needed collecting,sorting and putting in boxes for tomorrow.
But before many people were up we had already popped along to the car boot sale and a few more treasures have been found.
The basket is something I've been vaguely looking for to replace the cardboard box that we have kindling in in the living room.Its the right size and was £4. I thought the picture was a print until I picked it up and looked closely and on the back was a label with an original price of £39 and some details,including the title 'Down by The Ouse' by someone called W. Henry. So I guessed it was an original watercolour. The geese and silver birch trunks in the background are quite well done. No information about the artist online so I think he/she is/was what they call a 'talented amateur'. That was also £4 but it needs reframing. The book is called 'Kindertransport', the biographical account of a young Jewish girl who fled to England just before the war. I paid 50p. The Sudoku book is old but unused and was 20p and the red pot holder 10p. I normally do a Sudoku or 2 when I'm having coffee mid morning - keeps my brain going I think!

Back Tomorrow

Saturday 24 May 2014

New shed - stage 1

We had another good rain early this morning and now at 5 pm its just turned black as night and chucked another load on us, and very windy too. We've had so much rain over the last 3 days that C has lost the job he was supposed to be doing next week. He was to have been looking after all the irrigation work while our farmer friend was away on holiday. Nothing will need irrigating now. Ho Hum - the joys of self-employment!
This is the beginnings of my new garden/potting/storage shed.
The area at the front will be paved in the same way that we did the patio, using the old council paving stones. It will be a bit bigger than my old shed which is a good thing as sometimes I have a job to squeeze into it and frequently have to clear the workbench before I can do anything.
It needs to be big enough for
 Useful-sized clean flowerpots
Dirty flowerpots awaiting washing
Seedtrays, and their covers
Lots of large trays for standing planted pots in for watering
Large flowerpots, that might be useful one day
Some old buckets , ditto
Bags of seed compost
Sacks of coal
Odds and ends of outdoor things that have no home elsewhere
Some of the garden tools
Egg trays that we use for chitting potatoes
A paper sack for the glass that's waiting to be recycled
A box to put old batteries also awaiting recycling
Empty paper sacks that might be needed near the house
A large box that will be used for storing apples again this autumn - I hope.
Old printed egg boxes that people have returned and we might need one day
A box of gardening stuff like ant powder plus some weird sprays that we've never used
Some old towels hanging on nails
A big tub with birds peanuts and another with seed
An old metal sieve with holes too big to be useful
The spare hot-spot tape and repair tape from the poly-tunnels
Some random flower arranging bits in case I ever get the urge to do something artistic.
An old biscuit tin with old empty seed packets, labels and odds and ends
2 old metal watering cans - awaiting my new patio -to be planted with flowers in a shabby chic way!
and probably lots more things too.

Many thanks to Dawn, Pat, Bridget, Rosezeeta, Red Setter,  Kevin and Jane for comments yesterday.

Back Tomorrow

Friday 23 May 2014

More rain, more sunshine and more tractors

Rain again overnight then lovely sunshine all day. Perfect weather in fact.
Perfect weather for critters too so I'm still checking the gooseberries regularly for caterpillars, I wish gooseberry bushes were at a better height, it's a back breaking job.

A couple of phone calls for people wanting a pitch for the weekend but we already have our allocation of 5 caravans booked in, so I had to say Sorry. Someone rang asking about a pitch for two tents - we always have room for tents - then the lady rang back again to check a couple more facts about the site and said she would ring back later to confirm, but I heard no more, which is a shame. When that happens it always makes me wonder what I said that put them off?

C was hedge trimming at our neighbours this morning and I was tackling the asparagus bed which was crying "weed me"  every time I walked by. A good load of washing was dry by half past two and then we had an early cuppa so we could head out to collect chicken feed and then call in to look at a Collective Machinery and  Farming Effects Sale at our local Sale yard.
This is the first sale of it's kind to be held here, by the looks of the number of lots and the crowd of people viewing it will be very popular. It's nice to have this type of sale in Suffolk as previously farmers have had to go to Cambridgeshire or Norfolk to buy and sell machinery.
Lots of big boys toys
and some smaller stuff inside. I quite fancy a garden trolley, the sort of thing you see at garden centres.In summer I could wheel all the fruit and vegetables we have sale out to the gate each morning. C says they usually go for over £ maybe not!

Back Tomorrow

Thursday 22 May 2014

The First Strawberries of 2014.

A lovely good rain yesterday evening gave the garden a much needed
watering. Unfortunately we had a blip with our water-catching-moving-round-the-garden system. The heavy rain must have forced one of the hosepipes up and out of the tank it was in, so several hundred litres were in a big puddle at the end of the sheds instead of in the tanks. Luckily it had filled up most of the other tanks before it went wrong.
I'm so glad I didn't bother with being a Polling Clerk today as I've been operating on about 60% of normal energy all day and even ended up having a couple of hours reading this afternoon- and the sun was shining and I could have been doing something useful outside. I couldn't even summon up the energy to bike to the polling station and I certainly wasn't going to use good diesel to go and vote.
I don't often miss voting unlike someone we know in the family who has reached the age of 55 without ever entering a polling station!
In case you were thinking our first cucumbers from the poly-tunnel were super-duper huge and straight, this  was one of the two we've had. All small cucumbers have now been pinched out so the main shoot can grow a lot longer and produce lots of side shoots and lots more cucumbers.
And here are our first strawberries, lots of manky bits needed cutting off but it was still a treat for so early in the year. We were able to cover both the strawberry beds and the raspberry bed this morning. Another job done, and I washed another lot of flower pots and stacked them away ready for next year.

Twice I've forgotten to thank all blogging friends for comments over the last few days, much appreciated and I do read all of them. Welcome to a new follower- Treelover- on Google friends.

Back Tomorrow

Wednesday 21 May 2014

We were waiting for rain

We need to get the  two beds of strawberries strawed and netted as they are already turning red. We gave them a good watering one day last week and then when rain was forecast for yesterday C said we'll wait until it's rained and then cover them. But yesterdays rain ended up being a 10 minute shower. Rain was forecast for this morning too, but it was fine. So I picked off the ripest strawberries anyway.  The strawbs I picked are pretty poor looking specimens, dry weather and ants have already affected them, they are from plants that are 3 and 4 years old and we probably need to make a new bed. The other bed has plants that are first and second year. We've been debating if we should  have new plants every other  year, planted in grow-bags on raised tables in the poly tunnels.This is how professional growers get good quality early crops. We don't sell strawberries at the moment mainly because the amount and quality are not good enough. But to have enough to sell we would need a large outlay for growbags, C could botch some raised tables/frames to put them on and we could use runners from our plants.Would it be worth the time and trouble to do this for just a few for us? Another problem is that they would be in the way for planting out tomatoes.
And we are NOT having a 4th tunnel!

C was gardening for one of his customers this morning and I had a big bake of shortcakes (recipe here) and plain buns with a water icing and sprinkles. These have been divided into boxes and popped into the freezer ready for C and should keep him in cakes for weeks.

Yesterday I noticed the Hollyhocks had yellow spotty blotches all over them and C's customer had some the same. She said it's a disease called rust and the plants need digging up and burning. Apparently overwintered plants now nearly always get this, shame, as I love Hollyhocks. I've now got 3 large gaps in the flower border.

On Sunday I put a picture on the blog of the herb chopper thing bought from the boot-sale. It's RUBBISH and USELESS! The herbs are pushed around the shallow bowl and  just fall out. I shall go back to putting herbs in a mug and using scissors and the herb chopper will go back into a boot sale - when we eventually get up the enthusiasm to do one. So £2 wasted - stupid woman!

Just as I finished writing this it started raining. Good, we need it and tomorrow we WILL get those strawberries covered.

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday 20 May 2014

A silly smile on my face

Why am I going round with a silly smile on my face?

Yesterday the caravanners who are having a 19 day holiday on our campsite, complimented us on what a nice site it was. They said it was the nicest small site they had been on and there was nothing else we could do to make it any better!

Then Kev at An English Homestead said we were the smallholders he aspires to be like.

And then today a lovely long letter from a penny pinching friend who said she really enjoyed reading the blog.

Goodness me. I'm quite overcome.

Back Tomorrow

Monday 19 May 2014

The first cucumber

Yesterday we had our first cucumber from the poly tunnel. This is several weeks earlier than most years and quite a treat. Most of the teeny weeny cucumbers have now been taken off the plants so that all their energy can go into growing upwards and onwards rather than producing too many cucumbers too soon.
Lots of tomatoes have set and we will now start feeding them and the cucumbers and peppers. We use Comfrey"tea" and an occasional bottle of Tomarite or something similar.

So available from the garden or poly-tunnels today  we have- potatoes, asparagus, lettuce, salad leaves, beetroot, cucumber and rhubarb.

I'm still checking the gooseberries every other day for sawfly caterpillars and squishing as many of the destructive little things as I can find. It takes nearly an hour to go round all the bushes but worth the effort. The bushes are laden with fruit and maybe I will pick even more than last years record which was  over 130kg = 130 x 2.2 = errrrrrrrrrr......................somewhere near to 300lb! I think. Although when C got carted off to hospital and had to stay there for 2 weeks while waiting to go for the stents, I maybe stopped counting.

This morning we got the squash plants out onto the field, 24  I think with some more in the conservatory just beginning to grow. It then turned into the hottest day so far - I hope they will survive. We gave them all a good watering so fingers crossed.

Each plant has the soil earthed up around it so it sits in a small hollow. This is to protect from wind damage and to help catch any rain. With any luck, in a few months time, this area will be completely covered with trailing plants and plenty of squash and pumpkins to sell. Over on the left are our 6 rows of main-crop potatoes just beginning to grow through the ridges.

Earlier this morning I went to Saxmundham to visit Mr Ts supermarket and as I had a letter that needed to go quickly I walked through town to the postbox at the sorting office. You can tell what a quiet life I lead as I got really excited because a new shop had a poster up " Opening soon" selling Antiques, collectables and SECOND HAND BOOKS! Sounds very interesting. Then I went a bit further past  the small wool shop, which at first glance looked as if it had closed down. But they had a poster in the window saying it was having a big refurbishment, would be re-opening in early June with new craft materials and CRAFT CLASSES. Things are on the up!

Back Tomorrow

Sunday 18 May 2014

Where do they go? and why?

If someone comments on my blog and I don't recognise the name I usually click to see if they have a blog. Several times over the last year new people have commented and when I look they have often just started blogging. I add them to my blogroll reading list and sometimes they carry on posting but more often the blog disappears or they do a couple of posts and then stop.
But I want to know why?! I'm nosey. I need to know what happened! Setting up a blog takes a little time so why go to the trouble of starting and then just stopping? Or is  something more sinister happening!?
Please, if you've started a blog and then stopped, tell me why!

It's been a fantastically sunny day here in Suffolk. We went to the car boot sale as usual this morning, dozens of sellers, but we were still home again before 9.
Todays treasures include a couple of things that will be Christmas gifts and three things for me/us/the house.

A brand new hot-water bottle was £1, the glass bottle which will be a pretty vase another £1 and the herb chopping thing was £2. I bought someone one of these for Christmas several years ago and have often thought about getting one for us, so it was nice to find it at a sensible car-boot price.

Before the heat  got going we put up another bed of canes and sowed the runner bean seeds. Hopefully they will follow on from the plants put out during the week.

Then we enjoyed  sitting out in the sun, there was a bit of a breeze and we had to shift the chairs around the garden to find the best place to sit. I've finished my first library book - Rory Clements - The Queens man. Which is actually a pre-quel to the other 5 already written. They are historical crime featuring John Shakespeare - brother to William. Who is an intelligencer in the days of Queen Elizabeth 1st.

Thanks to lots of folk for comments over the last few days and welcome to Hazzy, follower 169 on Google Friends and to a couple more people following by bloglovin'. Hope you enjoy reading about a quiet Suffolk life.

Back tomorrow

Saturday 17 May 2014

Catching some rays

We had cloud first thing but it moved away and then blue skies and sunshine all afternoon. C did several jobs between sitting out, grass cutting and cleaning out the two smallest chicken sheds.
Me? I just sat out!
Although we did get 25 pumpkin plants out onto the field. Then our elderly friend came round with three more that he had spare so I've potted them up and washed quite a few flower pots, so not completely lazy.

Every time I walk past the small sink pond I just have to stand and watch for a minute as there are hundreds of tadpoles swimming and eating all the blanket weed. I'm sure there are too many to survive in such a small space. They are keeping the water so clean that the blue sky is reflected (and my fingers holding the camera!)

Yesterday an email popped up offering me free delivery for Approved Foods, I knew we needed  Sensodyne toothpaste, which they usually have for at least £1 less than the shops and after a search through I found enough to order. I avoided the mistake of buying flour and granulated sugar, which they have  on  at the moment, as Aldi flour is cheaper, as is buying the bulk 5kg sugar that Tesco always stock. So I have £60 pounds worth  of food including vegetable suet, biscuits, custard powder and mixed peel on the way for £27. Not a bad saving I think.

The weather is set fair for a car boot sale visit tomorrow.
I must write myself a new list

Back tomorrow

Friday 16 May 2014

Stop Press: Shock Horror......I forgot the library van!

I thought about the library van coming at around 9 this morning" must get the books organised". Then the thought was gone and we were having lunch before I remembered. So we had to chase it (Not literally) to Orford.
The library lady was pleased to see us as she thought she was going to have to take all our books back again.
Here is my haul of lovely books that I had ordered.
Now which shall I read first?

Apart from following the library van across Suffolk, I've been weeding the Daffodil bed and C has been moving the irrigation equipment for our farmer friend.
The sun has shone and temperatures rose enough to sit out for a while, which is probably why I forgot the library and forgot to clean the campsite loos until way past my usual time.
Oh well. never mind
Back tomorrow

Thursday 15 May 2014

A little bit of warmth

We've had sunshine and cloud over the last few days but always with a chilly wind, sometimes right off the sea but today the wind dropped and we had a blue sky sunny day.
C has been here all day getting lots of gardening done; preparing beds for runner beans, strimming the edges and grass cutting. We got one bed of runners planted out - I had started them in the greenhouse several weeks ago. The other bed will be seed sown straight into the ground in a couple of weeks time. A friend from a mile away called in today and said there was quite a frost at her house this morning but luckily I think we missed it as everything is looking OK.

Thanks to everyone for comments yesterday about the 10 random things and the Nemesia annual/perennial debate. It was good to find someone ( Tiddles) who had also been on the SS Nevasa for a school educational cruise. I thought no one would believe me as it seems such an unlikely thing nowadays. I looked up the Nevasa on Google and was surprised to find she kept going until 1974, that was 6 years after our trip, as we were told at the time that we were one of the last school trips, but they must have tidied her up a bit and carried on. There was a sister ship the SS Uganda and we passed her somewhere on the way to or from the Med.

Back tomorrow

Wednesday 14 May 2014

I wanted to write about 10 random things but...........

I've been enjoying reading blogs with lists of 10 random things about the author, I thought what a interesting idea to do.
But then I couldn't think of any random things about me to write about!

I love books - but you know that by the number of book blog posts.

I love peanut butter, I could live on peanut butter on toast - but that's greedy rather than random.

Then I thought again and came up with these

1. I never knew my Dad, he was killed in a motorcycle accident 5 months before I was born. My mum re-married my dads older brother 3 years later, so my uncle became my Dad!
2. I hate housework, but don't like living with untidy or dirty or clutter, so it gets done in a "sort-of" way.

3. I got married at 20 and divorced at 23! I got married again at 24 and had 3 children  by the time I was 32.

4. I love visiting places I've not been, but hate traveling - I'm waiting for someone to invent a transporter system like Star Trek.

5. When I was 13 I went on school educational cruise. We were amongst the last  school groups to go on the extremely ancient  SS.Nevassa.It was a 10 days cruise and  cost £50. We went to Cadiz, Lisbon, Palma and Gibraltar - I can't  remember anything about it - too busy chatting up boys!

6. I don't possess one single dress and I only own one skirt. I live in jeans, leggings and shorts I don't enjoy buying clothes at all.

7. I hate wearing tights and almost as much don't like socks. I would be bare feet all year if only it was warmer/dryer.

8. The primary school I went to had only 5 other people my age and only one girl. My best friend Jackie was a year younger and then moved away when I was 10. I went from a 50 pupil primary school to a 500  pupil grammer  school. My first good friend Caroline moved away after 2 terms. Is that the reason I find it very difficult to make friends?

9. I hate lifts and would walk up a dozen flights of stairs rather than getting into that small space.

10. I love Hostas
What a good way to fill up a blog post!

Today I was given a gift of a Nemesia, Wisley Vanilla from a fellow blogger - Thank you L that was very kind. It smells gorgeous - vanilla - obviously. It doesn't say on the label if it's a perennial  or annual, so I googled it - as you do. I found this -  " a lot of plants that are classed as annuals are really perennials but they die at the end of the season because they are not hardy- Nemesia is one of these"
Now I'm still confused!

Back tomorrow

Tuesday 13 May 2014

Old iron and old hens

Thank you to everyone for ideas for one more herb to fill a space. When I wrote a list of what herbs I have here I forgot the Parsley, Basil and Horseradish. Still haven't decided what else I need.

What do we do with 40 old chickens. Their eggs were poor quality, they were not laying many and we've already restocked with 60 young hens.
One thing we don't do is to keep them and feed them for little return. We're running a business, they have to go.
So we ring our friend T. He is a wheeler-dealer smallholder, he buys and sells all sorts of things. Yesterday he came and collected our old hens and paid us 50p each. He is also a licensed scrap dealer so he took away a small heap of junk we had here. C normally takes scrap himself, but there wasn't enough to warrant a special trip. T gave us another £20 for the scrap.
So an empty chicken shed has been cleaned out and pressure washed and will be left empty for a while and we have a space by the wood shed ready to start a new scrap heap.

Other jobs done over the last two days include C odd jobbing at our neighbours, cultivating our field to get rid of weeds and pulling the ridger through to make a hollow for planting out the pumpkins and squash. I've been to Leiston for some bits of shopping, sown more squash seeds to make up for those that didn't germinate and also sown another batch of climbing French beans . We got the first lot planted out yesterday and an hour later we had a short hail storm, luckily they've survived.

I can't think of any other happenings here so.............
Back tomorrow

Monday 12 May 2014

The new smaller herb garden

When we first moved here there was a big open grass space to fill out the back and I went mad and had a huge herb garden. A triangle with each side about 10 metres long. With  a bay tree in the middle which started  out as not very tall but by the time we had to cut it down because it was blocking out all the light from the living room it was about 15 metres tall and nearly that round.
I grew all sorts of things that called themselves herbs but were really just weeds in disguise.
It took ages to keep it tidy at the start and then everything went wild and soon it was just a muddle.
Eventually we cut down the area to a oblong about 4 feet by 6 feet and still had things that were not really herbs and got too big.
Time to start again, in the new triangle made by moving the path - so it comes across to the new back door.
 A variegated Sage, Rosemary, Lovage, Chives, Fennel, Welsh onion,Common Thyme and my favourite Golden oregano/marjoram. None were bought as they have all grown from seed, cuttings or division from the old herb garden. I just need to keep everything under control and weed regularly until things have grown.
In pots I have my lovely Black Peppermint and a small Ginger Mint. Across the garden by the front fence, with room to spread is the Spearmint. Growing in the paths of one of the poly-tunnels are  Garlic Chives - they are not supposed to be there but seem indestructible. I also have two small Bay trees, one  in the garden and one in a pot. They were both self sown seedlings from the old Bay tree. And finally there is a Sweet Cecily in the flower garden and Lemon Balm on the edge of a shrub border.
There is a space for one more plant in the new herb garden, I can't decide what to put in.
What would you choose?
It must be useful.

Thanks to everyone for comments yesterday
Back tomorrow

Sunday 11 May 2014

Quiet inside, blowy outside

A wild, windy and chilly  day here with heavy showers blowing through now and again.
We didn't bother to go and check if the boot sale was on - too windy.
C has been tying up the tomatoes in the poly tunnels. I've been fiddling on Word starting my Penny Pinching Letter for my 6 penny pinching friends- my turn for 1st June.
I ventured outside to  empty the recycling bins on the campsite and check the toilets, got blown round the field while collecting the eggs and that's about it.
Even the road is quiet and very few eggs have sold.
A nothing sort of day all round.

Back tomorrow.

Saturday 10 May 2014

An Inspector calls........... eventually.

The Camping and Caravanning Club site inspector was due today at 11.00am. By 11.45 there was still no sign of him so as he had left his mobile number I rang him to find out if we had written down the wrong day. No, he had just been held up and then got lost. I said it was usual for people to call if they were running late. He said he supposed he could have done. Eventually they arrived at 12.30. His excuse was that his Sat Nav had gone wrong and he had followed it to Stowmarket ( which is a town in Mid Suffolk  30 miles away).
There was just nothing I could say without being rude!

Cash in today for three more IBC containers - Handy.
C. delivered two and came back via our friends to collect the picture he had framed for me and some cultivated blackberry runners. You would think that living in the country there would be blackberries everywhere, but last year we had none anywhere close. The hedges are all cut back and the brambles had all been cleared from under the pylons too, and with the dry weather we didn't get to pick any.
He brought home four large clumps and we've put them in a place where they can grow and hopefully not be in the way. C will put up some post and wires later to train them on.

While it was gloomy and wet I got the other two poly-tunnels weeded. We've lost two cucumber plants - something has attacked them at soil level. This is really annoying as the seeds are very expensive and it's getting a bit late to start again, perhaps we'll be able to find some plants at a car boot, although not tomorrow - the weather forecast is not good so it's unlikely the sale will take place. In the other tunnel a couple of pepper plants are looking sad.

We will be watching the Eurovision Song Contest tonight - I don't know why, I doubt UK will get many points, but as it's been on every year for as long as I can remember it's become a bit of a tradition to watch..........and then to go to bed when the voting goes on for so long that we start to fall asleep!

Thank you to everyone for yesterdays  comments about living without a salary. It's Just a case of getting rid of all debts including the mortgage, saving some money for back up and having a way to earn some income that doesn't involve going out to work. Simples! :-)

Back Tomorrow

Friday 9 May 2014

Another week of 'surviving without a salary'.

Not as much rain here as forecast, but very windy. I was up early so decided to do an extra bread loaf bake as well as the tomato and herb rolls that I had been planning.
 I then got one polytunnel weeded before the sun came out and it was too warm plus the bread had risen and needed baking. So it was all go here as I dashed between inside and outside, potting up some more squash plants, pricking out basil, tidying up the shed, watering the squash and pumpkin plants in the conservatory, hoovering.

 Phew -  I was glad to sit down this afternoon and write a letter to a penfriend.

Today has been an eggcelent ( sorry!) day for egg sales. Our 60 new hens are all laying and the oldest 35 are still here before being sold on Monday so we have more eggs than usual. Eggs are normally put out for sale the day after they've been laid but because of the Bank holiday and a wet day we had a half a days backlog, however today we sold all of yesterdays as well as those left from the day before....... an income of £33!

C has been working on the IBC containers, some needed fixing to new pallets as well as a good clean. One has been collected  already after a phone call this morning and he is delivering two more tomorrow.

This makes another very good week for a couple of people without a salary.
When I did a post in April about surviving without a salary it got hundreds of page views and lots of comments, with people saying it helps them to see how it's possible to give up full time work and still manage ( as long as outgoings are low enough i.e no mortgage ) So here  is another weeks 'survival'.

Saturday: Eggs= £22     Campsite = £60 + £24
Sunday:  Eggs = £19   C pay for grass cutting= £50. C cheque for April irrigation work= £290
Monday: Eggs= £13
Tuesday: Eggs= £22
Wednesday: Eggs= £19, Herbs= £2.50  Campsite= £228 ( a 19 day stay!!) + Campsite £10
Thursday: Eggs = £19 ,
Friday: Eggs £33,  Sale of IBC £35

This makes up for the weeks in winter when there will only be egg sales.

Back tomorrow

Thursday 8 May 2014

Summer in a jar

When I cleared out the freezers a couple of weeks ago so that I could squash everything into one, I found a bag of strawberries that I didn't know were there. The best thing to do with frozen strawbs is to add them to something and make jam. Strawberries on their own don't set well so chuck in a few leftover gooseberries and redcurrants and Hey Presto! a nice red jam that sets a treat and smells and tastes like summer in a jar.
The total weight of fruit was just over 3 and a half pounds and it made this amount, although this hasn't been much help in making more space in the freezer.

C was away early this morning doing odd jobs and gardening for his Leiston customer, he got most done before the rain started. We had a few heavy showers but a lot of drizzle, so how much good it's done to the garden we will see.
 He took the trailer and came home via the industrial estate to pick up 6 more IBC containers. I keep mentioning these because they make a handy income for us and if you don't know what they are look here. The ones we get have been used for water soluble cleaning products so with a good clean with the pressure washer they are safe to use for water storage. We have had more phone calls from our ad in the Suffolk Smallholders Newsletter so these will soon be sold.

We had a campsite cancellation due to the weekends  weather forecast. It sounds grim but I doubt it will be as bad as predicted here.  The lady said they hope to come later in the year. So with just one caravan on site this weekend, not too much cleaning or bin emptying will be required. Perhaps if we do have rain over the weekend we will be able to get into the poly tunnels for weeding and  tying up the tomatoes. Or I could spend the time catching up on letter writing and card making.

Back tomorrow
PS Many thanks for comments yesterday about our lovely pink flowered Horse Chestnut.

Wednesday 7 May 2014

7th of the month Following a tree link + other stuff.

Joining up with Lucy at Loose and Leafy blog to follow a tree through 2014. My tree is our pink flowered  Horse Chestnut. Someone planted a conifer hedge behind the tree and it's also near the hedge boundary with some Ash trees on the third side, which have been cut back frequently because to the right of them is the fruit cage where we have raspberries, red currants and gooseberries.
Pink candles from a distance

and closer

A shady spot underneath

I think lichen shows we have lovely clean air here on the edge of Suffolk

I've decided that after I've saved up for my new Roberts Red Retro Radio, I'm starting a new fund for a digital SLR camera. I just don't get on with the little Canon digital. I'm old fashioned, I want a camera I can look through. I had a cheap Russian SLR camera way back in the 1970s and it took lovely photos until it got sand inside.

Now onto today's news
Both of us had more energy today so C started the day loosening the soil on last years Brussel sprout bed and then after an early coffee he went to our neighbours for grass cutting. I did the ironing then wheel-barrowed some compost onto the bed, ready for him to rotovate in.
We then  got 10 courgette plants out, it's quite windy today so we've put an old tyre round each plant until they get established. Wind can do them a lot of  damage - twisting the stem.

Later he prepared the bed for the climbing French beans and got some canes up ready. The beans have been moved from the conservatory to the cold-frame to harden off but we will still wind a bit of fleece round them when we plant them out in a few days time.

It's going to be a bad year for bugs, caterpillars and other nasties. I've been checking the gooseberries for sawfly caterpillars every couple of days and there are lots and greenfly too plus we've already destroyed one wasps nest this year and it's only May. If you have gooseberry bushes it really is worth looking for any half eaten leaves which will usually have a caterpillar underneath. Varying from the size of a dash like this - to about a centimetre long they can eat their way through the leaves on a bush in next to no time  I usually squash them by folding the leaf around them and squishing.

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday 6 May 2014

Running to catch up? Not today

3 days spent at car boot sales, working outside and watching the snooker on TV and I needed to be running to catch up all week.

Then last night C had bad chest pains and we were worried that all the heart things were starting all over again. Hopefully it was just  caused by really bad indigestion, but he got very little sleep and what with one thing and another we are both tired today. By coincidence he had an appointment  with the doctor this morning anyway so was checked out and all is OK. He has to increase the tablets that he already takes which are supposed to stop the other tablets upsetting his stomach. The joy of getting older!

I managed to get the bread making done and some hoovering plus all the chicken and egg things of course but then we both had a rest.

The trouble with this time of year is that there are always so many jobs that need  doing soon  and  I suddenly remembered that I owe letters to two penfriends. Hopefully full energy will be restored tomorrow.

Thank you to everyone for comments yesterday and welcome to new followers on Bloglovin'.

Back tomorrow

Monday 5 May 2014

More boot sale bargains

2 more Car boot sales this morning. Another big one same place as yesterday and a very small one in our nearest village. They only have one a year on this Bank Holiday Monday.
Today I crossed two more things off my list.

Here was my list  on 4th April before the car boot season started, with the things I soon found crossed off.

2 Toilet roll holders for the new Gents toilets on the campsite.( We looked in B & Q - some were £18!!)  bought at the first car boot for 50p each
New Tea Towels as long as they are less than 50p each
Card making bits, although they have to be cheap and I must be really choosy as I have shelves full already.
Wine glasses that look like this Found exactly what I wanted (after looking for about 3 years) for £2
Things that could be Christmas presents.
Books from my "looking for" list............. these have to be cheap.
Books not on my list but look really interesting.......they need to be even cheaper.
A Hosta that has green leaves with yellow edges. Love Hostas. Ahem! 'seem' to have bought 3 Hostas!

Then I added a few  more things to my list

New cheap ( less than £2) T shirts.
An old ( but decent) rug with a traditional pattern in beige and reds  for in front of the wood burner
A large old fashioned square shaped mirror  Found for bargain price of £2  on 21st April

And today I found the rug  - as it was exactly the  colours that I wanted I decided it was worth  the £10 I paid.
Polly approves of the new rug
 And the man who is sometimes at local boot sales with  new T shirts was there, so I got 4 for £5.

Then we called in at Friston where I spotted one of these for sale for £10, brand new, never used but with a little bit of the cover broken in one corner. I've been managing with a small window sill propagator for the last couple of years but with my new shed on the way before next spring this will make life easier.
That means I spent even more than yesterday. Thank goodness the money for the things today didn't have to come out of the housekeeping purse as I could pay myself back from the garden, clothes and house virtual envelopes. If I go on at this rate of spending there will be nothing left in my purse for the Roberts Radio fund, which seems to be taking ages to reach it's target. I may have to do something drastic next month - maybe I'll jump on  the frugal food challenge bandwagon!

C has been really busy here over the last few days with preparations for the concrete base of the new garden shed. ( He is always busy but rarely here several days in a row). I'm very excited  * small excited dance!* I have all sorts of plans for the colour, a small patio area at the front and displaying pots on an old wooden ladder in a vintage shabby chic sort of way. ( Have you noticed that anything for sale labelled vintage, retro or shabby chic has £10 added for each word used!)

Back tomorrow- when I must get back to normal housework/bread making mode.

Sunday 4 May 2014

Spending too much at the car boot sale!

It was the first of 3 local car-boot sales I hope to get to this weekend and it was huge and I bought some things I didn't really need, they were NOT on my list and  I spent more than usual. Oh dear.

Two more Hostas, colour combinations I've not seen before, a pot of sempervivum, these are the outdoor cactus things that spread like mad - I hope - and need virtually no soil to grown in. I've not had any of these since house number 3 ( 1983) where we  had some growing in gaps in a wall. A very old willow patten jug, I love jugs and this in good condition outside - though grotty inside- and will make a brilliant vase. A Charlotte Watson salt keeper. The salt keeper I have at the moment has a chip on the opening, which is sure to break one day. A Henry Watson pottery lemon squeezer. The original Watsons pottery is across in West Suffolk and although they don't make their pottery there anymore they still have a shop which we've been to a couple of times and never been able to afford their stuff new. ( The salt keeper currently sells for £20.75) I really didn't need a lemon squeezer. But this is nice. A sign for the upstairs bathroom door. Certainly didn't need this - I know where the bathroom is! A Miss Read book that seems to have some things in it that I've not seen before, although I may be wrong in which case I wasted 20p and finally an interesting looking book, which I could have noted down the title of and borrowed, from the library saving myself another 20p.
My total spend was £15.40p. 

Meanwhile C was  finding  man treasures.
A metal step ladder/extending ladder, to replace our one which is falling apart. A metal set square, he hasn't got one as big as this apparently. A door/window clamp, he's never had one before. A pack of  plastic ties for fixing bundles of things together. A hosepipe connection - always handy as they don't last forever. And last but not least 6 anchors for fixing wooden posts down onto concrete - for our (sometime in the future) veranda - the Best Bargain at 50p each when they are £ 8 each new. His total spend £19.50.

Luckily we are not doing any bank holiday trips, excursions, meals out or visits to stately homes etc so the only money spent over the weekend will be at car boots and I quite expect to find nothing at all tomorrow, because it will probably be the same people there all over again!

Back tomorrow

Saturday 3 May 2014

A Year in Books Link April/May

Linking up with The Circle of Pine Trees for a year in books.
These were the poor selection of books brought home from the library van to read in April. Only two were read. I don't count cookery books as 'reading' but did look through A Girl Called Jack and copied down a couple of recipes. The Yard was rubbish! and the other book pictured here is Confessions of a Failed Grown Up which I read part of but couldn't be bothered to finish.

The Elly Griffiths book is the 6th in her series about Ruth Galloway, an forensic archaeologist who lives on the bleak Norfolk Coastal Marshes and works at a fictional university in North Norfolk. I enjoyed it but found it slightly predictable. It is best to start with the first in the series if you want to read these well written crime books. ( The Crossing Places published in 2009 is the first)
To the Edge of the Sea by Christina Hall is a memoir about  growing up on the Hebridian Islands of South Uist, Benbecula, Barra  and  then to secondary school in Fort William in the 1940s and 50s. My Library copy is in the Large Print Isis Reminiscence Series, but it isn't necessary to be short sighted or an OAP to enjoy their books!

I shall be reading some of my own books in May although the library van will be round on the 16th so there might be something in the books I've ordered  to tempt me away from them.

Thanks to Laura at Circle of Pine Trees for hosting this link, it's very interesting to see what people are reading and always useful for ideas.

Back Tomorrow

Friday 2 May 2014

First new potatoes and beetroot

First of all welcome to new followers - bojanpr and weekend windup who have clicked the Google button ( now at 168) and Sam and Sandra who are following by Bloglovin' ( now at 140). Hope you like reading about the Simple Suffolk Smallholding. Many thanks to Sue, Jean,Gill,Paid in Chickens, Out my Window, Laura, Karen ,Pat, Weekend Wind up and Shirley who commented yesterday. Pat said that writing a list of positive things must make us feel satisfied with the way we live - and yes it's nice to gather together all the good things that happen in the month. I just hope it doesn't come over as being a bit smug about our lifestyle. I think it is Shirleys' first comment  and she said she enjoyed reading the blog which is lovely to know.

Yesterday stayed fine just long enough for us to get the path between house and poly-tunnels finished. Since we had the kitchen extension, our back door is in a different place and  the path along the back of the house is narrower  so we've had rough rubble and a temporary bit of path bridging the gap. The new path is two slabs wide and looks a bit  straight and stark at the moment, although we are using old slabs, but when we get the new herb garden planted up on the left  and maybe some shrubs on the right it will look better. We know from experience how annoying it is to have a narrow path with things growing close so that every time it rains you get wet legs walking through.

What a treat it is to grow some potatoes and beetroot in the poly tunnel and to eat them as early as the first of May. We only needed 2 roots of spuds to feed 4 of us easily. The variety are Rocket and they were planted as soon as we got back from the potato day on the 8th Feb. Growing and eating your own food is just SO satisfying.

Which means that from our garden and poly tunnels yesterday we had potatoes, mint to flavour them, beetroot, radishes, lettuce, salad leaves and asparagus. Apple and gooseberries from the freezer in a crumble. Fresh eggs from the hens and home made bread.

With drizzley rain all afternoon yesterday C decided it was just the right weather for washing the 2 poly tunnels that haven't had new plastic this year. It makes such a difference. The plastic needs to be damp then a long-handled brush and Ecover washing up liquid gets the green off, then a bucket of clean water chucked over to wash off the bubbles.

This plastic on the big tunnel was new last year but you can see from the back half which has not been cleaned how green it was and how much more light is let in after it's washed

Today has turned much colder and we are planning to cover as much as possible tonight because a frost is forecast . How to cover the twelve foot high Apricot trees - that is the question.

Today  C has been at home again and able to get some more things done. Two more beds cleared and weeded and the old  overgrown herb garden has been dug out and leveled. I shifted the last few slabs of the old patio by sack barrow and potted up a few more self sown herb seedlings and a couple of young Ash trees - or they might be Rowans - that had appeared in the garden.

For most of the winter we have had 3 of the big 1000litre IBC tanks here waiting to be sold. They've been advertised in the Suffolk Smallholders Newsletter each month, then suddenly we had 3 phone calls from the May ad and they've all sold and C will be visiting the place that chucks them out to see if we can get some more.We've also had some income from the campsite with people arriving for Bank Holiday weekend.

It's a good job we have had income as this months shopping was more than I wanted to spend. But several things  on the list  were reduced so I ended up buying two months supply. I also had to buy onions for the first time in 9 months as our home grown finally ran out. I'd been stretching them by using leeks instead wherever  I could but the leeks have run to seed so that's the end of them.

I think that's it for today
Back tomorrow - I might get the new herb garden planted up.

Thursday 1 May 2014

Review of the Month - Looking back at April

Here is my regular look back at the ups and downs of the month on a simple Suffolk Smallholding.

  1. Our income was enough to cover the budget for May.
  2. Food spending just under budget
  3. £5 left in my purse for the Red Roberts Retro Radio fund ( now at £95)
  4. Lots of lovely cards and books for my birthday
  5. A lovely surprise in the post of card making stuff from a fellow blogger
  6. Our son and girlfriend are now living back in Suffolk ( although right at the other side of the county)
  7. The campsite was busy over Easter
  8. Poly tunnels are almost planted up
  9. The new flower garden looked very colourful all month
  10. A couple of small cheques have been saved into the ISAs
  11. Our Eldest daughter fixed a wedding date ( June 2015)
  12. Local Car boot sale season started and a lovely big mirror found  for £2
  13. 60 new hens laying well
  14. Main-crop potatoes are planted
  15. Front fence repaired
  16. Eating asparagus all month
  17. A good day out visiting friends
  18. Our missing Mabel cat is definitely still around and eating the food we put out for her.
On the not-so-good side of the equation
  1. Very little fresh veg available from the garden
  2. We both caught colds - first we've had for at least 3 years
That's about it  for April, I wonder what May will bring us.

Back Tomorrow

PS. Welcome to Penny, Margaret, Laura and Val who are all new followers on Google friends or Bloglovin' . Thank you for clicking the button and  I hope you enjoy reading about our quiet Suffolk life.


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