Tuesday, 30 September 2014

An expensive month.

I've done the September accounting and it's very obvious that September was an expensive month. My walking boots, the septic tanks pumped out, paying for having the hay and straw baled, a NHS prescription pre-payment card,  a half lamb for the freezer and 2 gas cylinders all pushed up the outgoings. But luckily all were budgeted for, so no overdraft, no credit cards, no borrowing.
 I'll do a proper review of the month tomorrow.

I was all ready to make a double batch of Sweetcorn Relish this morning until LUCKILY, last night, I looked in the cupboard and found the bottle of distilled vinegar wasn't full, as I thought, but almost empty.
So it was off to do Octobers main local Tesco shop a day early. Bargains? yellow stickers? In our Tesco? You've got to be joking! the only good buy was a big -  5Kg - bag of gran. sugar and that was only because they had sent me  £1 off voucher, which made it 5kg for £2.85.
C heard on 5 Live News ( that's the only radio station he can pick up when he's in the big tractor moving the irrigation stuff) that Sainsburys have stopped comparing against Tesco when they do their money off voucher at the checkout because everything is now more expensive at Tesco so there's no point in comparing. I thought that sounded a bit unlikely so onto My Supermarket website where I did a small check with the things  brought home from Tesco today and I couldn't find anything cheaper at Sainsburys except for tins of plum tomatoes which they have on offer at 4 for £1.

There was one thing I had to buy this morning that I don't remember buying for years and that was a pack of Bic pens. Usually we get enough free pens in the post from the Red Cross or Damart and if we were searching for one in the past we could always go and rootle around in Cs work van, where he was bound to have acquired some from the office. However in the last month or so it's been  "where's the blinkin' pen?" when the phone rings and "where's the blinkin' pen?" every time we need to book in a camper. So I've given in and bought a pack of 10, at least they were on offer at £1.50 and they  have a label on for using one up and sending it in for a £10 voucher. I may have to get scribbling!

While I was gallivanting in Saxmundham, C was over the road working  at our neighbours. This afternoon he worked on our field clearing some more weeds from the pumpkin and squash area.
We have sold 50 pumpkins so far, that's an income of £75 and there are still some to sell. Not bad for a few pounds outlay on seeds and a bit of work, as mostly we just let them get on with growing - which is why there are so many weeds this year. He later brought round 33 butternut squash of varying sizes and put them in the shed ready to sell. When I've finished this post I shall have a look to see how much they are selling for in the supermarkets. There are more still on the field but less than we grew last year as the plants from the later sown seeds have plenty of green growth but no squash.

In town I noticed a poster for a new craft group starting at the refurbished wool and needlework shop. It's the 3rd Wednesday of each month from 10 am - 12 noon and is £4 a session which includes a cuppa and a cake. This sounds expensive to me ( although most things seem expensive to me!) but is it? I'm not getting any needlework stuff done at the moment so going there would make me pick up my cross stitch again. But £4? I'm  sounding like a real mean  tight-wad!

Hey hey! Guess what was in the post this morning.......... The new issue of Home Farm Magazine. Ruth and Paul, the editors, must have been happy with my review of last months issue that they have sent me another to review. How lucky am I?
I shall read it and report back as soon as possible. It's arrived at just the right time as the library books had all been finished until the mobile library comes on Friday. Hoping to bike to the van I thought I'd better have a trial bike ride having not cycled anywhere for 8 weeks due to that blasted pneumonia, so hopped on my bike and went up the road for 10 minutes and back again without any ill effects. Good.

Goodbye to someone on Bloglovin who has un-followed!
But for everyone else I shall be 
Back Tomorrow

Monday, 29 September 2014

Frugal in the bathroom.

A couple of days ago I said that I wanted to try to think of more frugal type posts so here goes with one to start with.

In our downstairs bathroom, which is actually a shower room, upstairs bathroom or en-suite you won't find loads of lotions, potions and products. Shampoo, soap, shower gel, toothpaste, deodorant  that's about all we need.

Buying fewer different things  is one of my ways of saving money. I don't bother with make up..

 I buy a medium priced  Shampoo, stocking up from Poundland on our rare Ipswich visits or if it's on offer and use it sparingly.Very cheap shampoo or washing up liquid turns my very thick hair into something akin to straw. I don't wash my hair every day and  no longer buy conditioner as  it didn't seem to make much difference. I've got my hair really short -  another way to save shampoo.

I use a moisturising shower gel and stock up from Poundland when we are in Ipswich or if I see it reduced in the supermarket. At the wash basin we use soap, it's cheaper than hand wash in a bottle and one less thing to go in the bin. The soap we use is Pure which is Morrisons own brand un-perfumed and is £1.35 for 4. It lasts ages, no perfume to make me sneeze and no colourings either. I use it on my face and it's fine. C uses it for shaving and says it's OK for that too. When we get down to a sliver the bits go into the utility room and get squidged together  and used for quick hand washing between jobs.

Toothpaste is always Sensodyne, whichever sort is reduced from Approved Food, bought in bulk  and we use Sensodyne toothbrushes too because they are small and quite soft. Dentists recommend a soft toothbrush, brushing too hard with a hard abrasive brush is about the worst thing you can do to your teeth. I use just a tiny amount of toothpaste, not all along the brush like they used to show on adverts, less than pea sized is enough. Sensodyne is not the cheapest but it works well. When the tube seems to have run out, cut off the top to see what's left and then cut off the bottom too. I use floss  but not as often as I should, according to my dentist.

I use a roll-on deodorant, cheaper than a spray as none is wasted going everywhere.  Stored  upside down, to get everything out and buy whatever is on offer, preferably perfume free. 

Toilet rolls are the Everyday Value double length ones from Tesco, 400 sheets per roll, 6 rolls for £1.95. I would like to buy Nouvelle which are made from recycled paper but they are very expensive. For a comparison table go to Skintdad.com. Lidl actually come out best for value for money. That's fine if you have a Lidl closeby. We don't and going to one specially for loo roll would cost us more for the diesel. They also don't compare the Tesco Double length loo rolls on this comparison chart.

The cheapest bath sponges I can find are  20p each  from Wilkinsons. When we go to Ipswich I usually buy a couple to put in the cupboard. Soak a sponge in hot water with vinegar in every now and again, is good for cleaning it.

For cleaning in the bathroom I use bi-carb for the basin, Ecover Limescale stuff for the glass shower screens and, because we have REALLY hard water,  Harpic in the loo and stock up when it's on special offer. I've tried all the cheaper things but nothing works like Harpic.

Bath towels  are hung over the banisters at the top of the stairs where they dry quickly and are used 2 or 3 times before they go in the wash. After all, when you've had a shower you should be clean so surely a towel shouldn't be dirty and need washing after one use.

Best of all savings is that our water is heated by the Rayburn using wood or by the solar thermal thingy on the roof. When we had the new kitchen built and the bathroom moved, the builder wanted to put a pump on the shower. But because the hot water cylinder is upstairs and the bathroom downstairs  ( that's how it was before too) we had never had a pump and just used gravity. The builder predicted problems with pressure but it's been OK. One less thing using electric.

*            *          *          *          *

Thanks for all the comments about Aldeburgh yesterday. The sad thing about the town is that 30-40% of the houses are second homes and holiday homes, most of the shops are top of the range posh clothes shops or deli's. House prices are crazy and in winter the place is dead, while in summer it's full of the rich and posh - that's why we rarely go in the summer!
There is a comment from Frugal in Essex, a new blogger, welcome to frugal blogland!

Back Tomorrow

Sunday, 28 September 2014

We went to see the sea

 Before I forget I must welcome Simple Living and Astrid on the Google Friends pictures. Also thanks to everyone for comments yesterday and the day before. I'm glad I'm not the only person who enjoys Strictly even if Cro dismisses it as only dancing! So it maybe, but I couldn't do it!

Instead of going to a boot sale we drove down to Aldeburgh to see the grey old North  Sea. It's just 5 miles away but we rarely visit. Cornish Chickpea had some lovely photos of the beautiful Cornish beaches that made me want to see our bit of coast  It was misty at home but clearer on the coast and the sun was just coming through the clouds.
Aldeburgh has a small fleet of fishing boats - 3 or 4, and the fish is sold from huts on the beach, the boats are towed down the beach by the tractors or rolled on rollers.
The tide was right out which is the only time there is a bit of sand to walk on. Walking on the deep shingle is really hard work! It was flat calm this morning with the sun just coming through the clouds, but even with the sun shining the sea is still grey and never the lovely colours of the Cornish coast. I took the photo from the top of the first shingle ridge.
Plenty of gulls on the shingle, the height and width of shingle is the only thing protecting the town from the sea, although the main risk of flooding is from the river which runs alongside and behind part of the town.

There's a Map here
Standing on the low tide line looking back up the beach to the houses along the prom gives some idea of the amount of shingle - the houses are three or 4 storeys high! Walking up the beach is like mountain climbing.
The very old Moot Hall. The Aldeburgh town council chamber is on the 1st floor and a museum below

Read about the Moot Hall here- if you want to!

When we got home and after a coffee C did  some garden tidying and I washed the rest of the pots that I started yesterday- another job finished and then spent AGES trying to get these 5 photos to load onto the blog. You wouldn't believe how slow our connection is here sometimes, drives me nuts!
The sun came out and the temperature shot up after lunch, so we sat out for a couple of hours, making the most of the late September sunshine. All the time I could hear a squirrel pinching the walnuts off our tree. I've picked up a few to bring in a dry but the blasted bushy tailed rat has had the majority.

Back Tomorrow

Saturday, 27 September 2014

The only thing that's still the same price after 2 years?

We thought about going to The Food and Drink festival, an event we've never been to, that has gradually got bigger and bigger since it started. It's only 4 miles down the road and there are over 80 local producers showing off their 'artisan' products. Then I looked on the website and found it was £8 EACH to get in. Yes, you get a free cotton shopping bag and the chance to try lots of free samples, but £8 is a lot, well, it is to us anyway.

Then we thought about going to a charity second-hand book sale that we've been too several times before, especially when we were buying country/smallholding books to sell at shows. That's only 50p to get in and includes a free cuppa. But last year I spent nearly £10 and looking back I can't remember what I bought, and its 20 miles away....... that's several pennies worth of diesel.

In the end we decided to just go and get some new propane gas cylinders as we had two empty ones here. Now we only use gas for the hob, a 47kg cylinder lasts quite a while and it's two years since we bought one. Amazingly they are still the same price - £65 each. Is this the only type of fuel that's not rocketed up in price? In the countryside, where there's no mains gas, lots of people use oil or propane gas for heating. Oil, electric and mains gas prices have all gone up so folk with propane gas heating must be feeling quite pleased.( We combined our trip out with a look round some charity shops in a different town but no treasures.)

Before we went out C spent a while sorting out some of the old tomato plants in the poly tunnels and I got started on washing all the flower pots that we bought from our friends "closing down the smallholding" sale way back in June. They were still in the dustbin that we had brought them home in, so it was about time they were sorted.
This afternoon I've been doing a bit of mending, writing a shopping list for Octobers shopping, deciding what jobs I'm doing next week, sorting eggs and a few other jobs.
C filled up the big water tank for the chickens up the field and cut a few pallets while he was waiting for it to fill. He is planning to move one of the electric fences later to give the chickens some fresh grass.

More Strictly tonight - good, good.

I really must find some more frugal, money saving ideas for posts. The problem is everything we do is just second nature to us now  and I forget there are people who are new to the whole frugal, simple living thing.

Back Tomorrow

Friday, 26 September 2014

Busy doing nothing much

I went to get the hoover to run it round the living room but then...........

I saw some egg/pumpkin money  had come through the letterbox so went into the porch to pick it up........

While there I noticed there was only 1 campsite handout leaflet left on the shelf so............

I went into the craft room to photo copy a few more as we have some bookings for this weekend and next week.

While I was waiting for the copier I noticed I had 2 cards half started on my desk so.......

I finished making one,changed my mind about the second but added the finished one to my card box..........

That made me wonder who I had to send cards to in the next couple of weeks so............

I had a look in my birthday book and then found 3 cards to send..........

That made me think about when our new penny-pincher letter group person had a birthday so.........

I found my letter with the information............

That reminded me to look and see when it was my turn to write a penny-pincher letter so......

I  looked at when I did my last one then........

I spent a few minutes reading through my last letter which reminded me I ought to do the back exercises that I had written about............

By which time almost an hour had passed and I had completely forgotten about the hoovering!

Meanwhile back in the world of really busy people, C was cutting his way through the dead elms, loading them into the little trailer and adding them to the wood pile in the shed. ( If you want to know more about the dead elms, there is a long reply to a comment left on yesterdays post)

It's been a while since I last did a list of "what food grown or produced we have available here today" so on the 26th September the list is
Onions ( in storage)
Runner beans
Autumn Raspberries
and the last of the sweetcorn
In the freezer we have
Cooking Apples
Broad beans

Home made eaten today
Apple Pie

No chance of going hungry today 

After 4 nights with an empty campsite we have 4 caravans/motor-homes in tonight including one staying for 9 nights, so just as we were thinking we wouldn't be taking much more money this season we  will be able to put another £204 in the savings.

Welcome to Catherine, a new follower on Google Friends and thank you for comments yesterday.

Back Tomorrow

PS am I the only person excited to see the return of Strictly on TV tonight - even if I haven't got the foggiest as to who most of the " celebs" are.
PPS My new boots took me for another energy restoring walk today, just a wee bit further than yesterday and back again. Not a pheasant to be seen anywhere today.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

On my walk I saw............

 My new boots have had a small try out, just 10 minutes up the road and back, I'm starting gently!

 On my way I saw about 2 dozen young pheasants. They were on the field and on the road and C said later they were all over our field. The people who organise the shoot in the local woods must have just released them.

  I saw that the farmer hasn't reinstated the footpath across a field like they are supposed to do after cultivating.

 I saw a long bit of fallen branch so I dragged it  home and added it to the wood heap.

And then I saw this, which means the hole in the road outside our house is going to be repaired at last. It's quite deep and everything has been going lump, lump through it for weeks.

 *       *       *       *       *       *

We were given another bag of cooking apples today so I decided to turn some into a couple of pies straight away, I also mixed up some crumble topping to store in the freezer and tackled the kitchen windows, they had got so bad it was embarrassing. 

C was working at our neighbours this morning, clearing out her poly-tunnel and cutting back her summer raspberries but before then he had already been down the road and moved the irrigation stuff. The job will probably come to an end soon as the carrots are almost ready to be lifted.

This afternoon he started to cut up the dead elms that he cut down a few weeks ago, they can go straight into the wood shed. I need to start cutting kindling wood again soon, there are only 2 sacks in the shed and once we start lighting both the Rayburn and the wood-burner everyday we will soon use them up.

Thank you for all the comments about the expensive walking boots and cheap meals out. We shall be eating at home for the foreseeable future! Our youngest and her bloke came round for dinner tonight so we tried the first of the "proper" lamb joints  from the half lamb pack bought earlier this month.
With roast potatoes, parsnip, runner beans and carrots- all home grown. That's what you call a real meal!

Back Tommorow

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Frugal-in-Suffolk spends a small fortune!

If you read regularly you'll know that our main way of being frugal is to stay at home!
But every now and again we  venture out and it was about time for a few hours away from home plus we had the Gardening Club voucher for Wyevale restaurant, 2 meals for the price of one and a voucher for £5 off £15 in the garden centre. So that's where we headed for a meal out - a VERY rare occurrence. As often happens when we eat out we were disappointed - it was cheap and edible - just - and that's about all the good things you can say. The BOGOF was only from their daily menu board and the choice was limited, Fish  and chips, Ham, egg and chips or Quiche and veg.
  We won't bother with going again. The other voucher was used to buy a Christmas present and as that was also a BOGOF it was a proper bargain.

BUT the bit that wasn't frugal was going into Woodbridge and spending a fortune on a decent pair of walking boots. Way back on April the 9th last year  when this blog was just a baby, I congratulated myself on finding a pair of boots for £20 to replace a much older pair. HA HA. They were OK for a while but then started to leak, whatever waterproofing I used didn't work, I kept getting wet feet which is no fun and after a while they weren't even very comfortable. So instead of trekking around Ipswich to the sporty outdoor type shops we went to a proper shoe shop and found me the most expensive article of clothes/footwear I have ever bought in my life. I hope they are worth it. They are beautifully comfy. I'm going to walk my way back  to fitness and then get even fitter!
Back Tomorrow

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

It's all down hill from here

At 2.29 this morning when most people were tucked up in bed  the Autumn equinox happened, that's when the length of day and night are the same, so it's all downhill from here! (Unless you are reading this in Australia in which case you've got spring on the way - lucky people!)

 I never look forward to winter, for so many years it meant feeling cold, lonely and depressed even though I wasn't actually cold or lonely, that's one of the problems of depression it magnifies things out of all proportion.
 Now I can cope better with winter but I still don't like it and I HATE being cold.

By coincidence last night was our first night with nobody on the campsite since......(and I had to look it up in the bookings diary)........... June 2nd.  Pretty good going and so different to years in the past, before we had all the mod-cons.

 I've been feeling loads better over the last couple of days,  I'm really getting back to normal, taking back some of my jobs that C has been doing for 5 weeks. FIVE WEEKS! I've never had that long "off work" before. I'm not sure what we would have done if we'd have still had goats, C couldn't milk ( he has got funny thumbs!) and our neighbour away and then ill at the same time as me, it would have been a real muddle.

So what's happening here on the Suffolk coast.
Yesterday we had the big  lorry come to pump out the two septic tanks - ours and the campsite. One of the benefits of having no mains drainage is the we have no sewer charges and getting the tank pumped out every 2 or 3 years is all we have to pay for. It was £75 for each tank. Not too bad and no more than 3 years ago. I dread to think what sewerage charges are nowadays.
C was here all day yesterday apart from going down the road twice to shift the irrigation stuff, we've had so little rain they are still watering the carrot fields. Farmers are very worried about the oil seed rape seedlings which have come through the ground and then stopped growing, although the farmers with sugar beet like dry weather as it makes it easier to get  up out of the ground and concentrates the sugar content of the beet so they get paid more. We don't have as much sugar beet grown around here as in the past when there was a sugar beet factory in Ipswich. Now the nearest is in Bury St Edmunds which is across the other side of Suffolk. When I worked in Bury many years ago the sweet sickly smell drifting over the town when the campaign started was always a sign of winter on the way.

Today C  loaded the greenhouse staging he's been making into the trailer and went off to work for his customer in Leiston. He came home with a cheque for labour and payment  for the greenhouse that he forced  made her realise it was just what she needed,  to buy off us!   The cheque will go into the ISA savings. C was off again after lunch  shifting the irrigator again and  then did some grass cutting here.

I did a pile of ironing, put a load of windfall cooking apples into the freezer and  made a vegetable curry while yesterday was bread baking  and hoovering up day.

With the weather cooling down and less sunshine we shall soon need to start lighting the Rayburn for hot water, it's yet another sign of winter on the way, when bringing a wheelbarrow full of wood down from the shed becomes a regular daily job.

Welcome to new followers on Bloglovin' and to 1st Man, a new Google friend follower.

There were all sorts of comments about pumpkins yesterday.  I have to say that we get very few things stolen off the stall, especially since we had the new kitchen extension built with a big window overlooking the front gate where the stall is. I have a sign on the stall which asks people to put the money through the letterbox in the front door, which means it is safely in the house out of the way. The majority of people are scrupulously honest, even ringing the doorbell or leaving a note to tell me if they are 5p short of change! and they put in in when they next go by. Thank goodness for our quiet  friendly bit of Suffolk.
The big pumpkins I mentioned are far too big to carry, this one - the biggest - is now even bigger than this photo. There are 4 more nearly as big. No one will even be able to lift them into a car without help.
That's another point about our stall and where we live. Someone once asked why we don't deliver eggs to our customers, it's because they are not close to us- no one is close to us except our few neighbours. We are over a mile from the two nearest villages and people stop to buy things from our stall when they are passing by in cars, they could come from anywhere and are on the way to work or  shopping or whatever. I recognise a lot of people because they are regular customers but mostly I don't know who they are or where they live.

Right, I've waffled on enough.
Back Tomorrow

Monday, 22 September 2014

Plenty of Pumpkin Questions

 We sold our first two pumpkins yesterday and 5 more today and brought another load more in off the field  ready for selling this week(and 1 squash). I did a rough guesstimate of how many we have to sell and I reckon close to 100!

 So how come when I wanted less pumpkins than last year we have more and when I wanted more squash than last year it looks as if there are a lot less?

We've found from previous years if we sell them all for about £1.50 people will buy them. If I put the bigger ones out with a higher price tag they get nicked. Why are pumpkins the only things we have pinched off the stall?

And why are there so many different sizes when they are all from the same seed packet?

And what the heck are we going to do with the MONSTER and the other 4 which are almost as big?

So many questions.
So few answers.

Back Tomorrow

Sunday, 21 September 2014

At last I get to a car boot sale

I hadn't been to a boot sale since the 16th of August so it was good to have enough energy and a fine Sunday morning to pop up the road.

My haul
A red sugar storage jar and a small red bottle ( to add to the red things in my kitchen) were £1 and 30p. A pillowcase for 20p, a big pile of 7 ink cartridges for our printer were £12 and a huge bag of pears for £2. I'm glad I looked at the My Supermarket website yesterday to see how much pears were selling for or I wouldn't have known if this was cheap or not. They've gone in the freezer with our own. I'm very pleased with the ink find as the same thing happened about this time last year, so we've not needed to pay the exorbitant price that Epson charge for ages. Our printer, which we've had for several years, is very intelligent and knows if you try a cheap version - "Incompatible cartridge" comes up on the little screen thing!

Thanks to all the laying about resting I've got to the end of the crime fiction that I brought home from the library van 2 weeks ago ( 6 read and 2 abandoned). So I've read one of my own books for a change.
Because I had read, loved and bought to keep her other books " Good evening Mrs Craven" and "Minnie's Room" I knew I would enjoy this and  by the wonders of the modern world it came to me from The States for less than the price of a newer edition and postage from the UK.
First published and set in 1946 the whole book is just one  day in the life of a woman (who before the war had servants) her husband who had been away for 7 years and their young daughter. It's about how life changed because of the war, how some people were unable to accept the changes while others enjoyed the new world opened up to them. It was a good read.

I got into trouble yesterday when C read my post. I had written that my sister and brother-in-law were planning to move to our area of Suffolk and someone commented that it's nice to have family close and I replied that it will be good as we have no other family. WE meaning me and my sister. But C read it as WE meaning me and him. " We have got other family" he said "what about my dad,sister,brother etc etc.!" Crossed wires I think!

Thanks for pear comments yesterday.

Back Tomorrow

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Pears for winter

We had some rain this morning but not enough for the carrot fields so C had to go and move the irrigator, but he was back again in 15 minutes because the tractor had a flat tyre. He had to wait for the tyre place to come out and mend it before going back later.

We picked off the rest of the pears as some were starting to go rotten on the trees, I looked on the supermarket web sites and pears are currently about 5 for £1, so this is about £6 worth but

it's a pity that all this lot only make about 6 bags of prepared pears, but at least they are now safely in the freezer for winter. I like to eat fresh pears only when they are dripping with juice, but ours always seem to go bad before they get really ripe.

 C was out again after lunch as someone up the road had asked him to tow a very old VW camper-van from one place to another. I think it took longer than he thought, or maybe just longer than I thought! They had to put new wheels on it to get it moving.

It was such a gloomy morning that to cheer things up I made a few scones and then fiddled about with odd jobs and later fiddled about with card making, achieving nothing much on both counts! Thankfully I was saved from a wasted day by an unexpected visit from my sister and brother-in-law who have decided to cross the border and move back into Suffolk. ( They were only in Norfolk, but we always say passports are needed to get there!)  Hopefully they will find something in our part of the world.

Back Tomorrow

Friday, 19 September 2014

More sun and more potatoes

The early weather forecast said thundery showers spreading up from Essex  but although the fog and cloud hung around until 11am, once it had gone it was jolly HOT. C found shorts and I went from tee shirt to vest top.

After moving the irrigation stuff yet again, C lifted  the other two rows of potatoes, they were like the first row, some OK, some scabby and just a few with blight. Which is good, because although  the tops looked a bit dubious a few weeks ago and he cut them off there was no way of knowing how much blight had got down into the spuds.

I got on with some baking as there were no cakes left in freezer. I made Shortcakes and mixed up another two packets of the 20p bun mix from Approved Food. They are just plain vanilla but I've been chucking in a few sultanas to make them more interesting. I won't bother to get anymore, even at that price. They taste too artificial for my liking.

Two phone call bookings for the campsite today, one for this weekend  and one for a weekend in October. Every year we always dither about it being worthwhile staying open through October. If the weather is wet, it can get quite muddy which makes cleaning out the toilets a bit of a pain, it also means cutting the grass regularly - just in case.

There are lots of theories about the amount of berries predicting the weather for winter. This is our variegated Holly near the house, it's got more berries on than I've ever seen on it before. They never get very big and are always more orange than red, the birds always eat them before Christmas so I never get to bring any indoors.
It was less than 5 foot tall when we moved here, now it's as high as the house.

Thank you for comments yeterday
Back Tomorrow

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Enjoying the sunshine + potatoes

This spell of warm weather has been such a treat, if it went on for another two weeks I wouldn't complain. I've had a couple of hours sitting out soaking it up.

Every year we put some main-crop potatoes out on the field, some years they do well, some years not so well. Last year was poor but we still had enough to last until the beginning of this year. We wondered whether to bother with growing them, but of course we tried again.
Using the potato lifter borrowed yesterday C lifted a row this afternoon, not a good crop again, some decent sized, a lot small and some scabby.
He picked them up and said they didn't look too good. We'll have to sort through and see what's good enough to keep and what need using quickly. 2 more rows to lift tomorrow.

This morning he was away early to move the irrigation equipment again - still SO dry here, then after coming home for a coffee he was off again to take the two pigs belonging to someone in the village off to the abattoir. Last time he went, 2 years ago, the abattoir had just moved to a new site and it was chaotic- they had to wait ages. But he said this time it was much more organised, only a short wait so he was home again by 1.30. Were we paid in cash or pork?..........  Both! Cash to cover diesel and the use of the trailer and some pork - probably sausages - to come later. Yippee!

Another quiet day  for me, odd jobs and reading.
Thanks to everyone for comments yesterday
Back Tomorrow

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

A little rest and a little work.

Yet another day of odd jobs and resting in between, I'm afraid this is getting a bit monotonous. I had a phone chat with my doctor today and she said what everyone else has said.........lungs take a while to recover, 6 weeks to get back to full strength and don't push myself too hard.

Now here is a very weird thing. A neighbour was away all last week and came back Saturday having felt a bit unwell for a few days. Saturday night she called for an ambulance as she was having breathing problems and her pulse was way up ( she was a nurse many years ago so knows about these things). She has been in hospital since and guess what she has? Pneumonia! now how strange is that? except she has complications too, poor lady.

So what have we being doing today.
We popped to Saxmundham for the bank, the post office and a few things from Tesco. C has been making the greenhouse staging for his customer, moving the irrigation stuff, fetching the potato lifter from our friend and mending our neighbours small mower. I put some more pears into the freezer, picked another big bowl of autumn raspberries, read a book, sat in the sun and did a bit of cleaning.
My frugal fact of the day- Except for a couple of lemons,we've spent nothing on fruit since the 22nd of July and yet there hasn't been a day without some fresh fruit to eat - not bad I think.

Many thanks for comments yesterday to Dc, Out my window, Julee, Chickpea, Midsuffolk Meadow (hope the AGM goes well but what happened to your blogging W? :-), Karen, The reason I save, Morgan and Julie. Plus some nice comments from Jonathan Gutteridge at The Money Shed.com which seems to be a web site with ideas for working from home and earning money on line. Sorry Jonathan I won't be joining in with paid advertising on my blog!

I forgot a couple of things in yesterdays list of veg grown here namely parsnips and leeks, neither are grown to sell. We haven't started either yet but the leeks are looking very sad, like all the onion family this year, rust disease has been a big problem, just look at my Welsh onions in the herb garden.
They really shouldn't be looking like this!

Good luck to any readers in Scotland - hope you make the right decision tomorrow- whatever That is.

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Growing lessons learned 2014

We've been growing our own veg since 1979, sort-of growing to sell on and off for 22 years, growing seriously for selling for 3 years. Each year is different and there are always new things to try, changes to plan and the weather to cope with.

Here is the post I did about growing to make a small profit back in June and this is what actually happened in the growing season of 2014

Daffs and Alstromeria
We may well stop bothering with Daffodils to sell, they take up a whole bed for little return, although I'm not sure we will get round to digging them up this Autumn. I sold several bunches of Alstromeria  early on then they stopped growing. Must remember to cut back and feed them this autumn.

Early potatoes
We had 4 beds of early and second early potatoes in the garden and had plenty to sell and to eat. We are still eating the last of the Charlotte.

A wonderful crop to sell as usual, our biggest income.

Again these were good, we sold lots of punnets from the summer rows and we are still eating the Autumn variety, picking a basin full every other day.

Tomatoes,cucumbers, peppers and Aubergines
75 Tomato plants gave us plenty to sell for 2 and a half months, anything from 2 to 8 bags a day. The giant Andine variety  have been skinned and put in the freezer for winter. They have now slowed down to only a couple of bags a week to sell. Shirley were the best quality this year. There are still some green tomatoes which may not ripen before a hard frost in which case we will bring them in and put in a tray indoors.
Cucumbers were poor, I grew 8 plants, only 6 survived so we bought 2 from a boot sale. They should have been watered more - 2 or 3 times a day might have helped keep the disease/whatever it was away.
I didn't grow enough sweet pepper plants this year, normally they are still going well into September but there are only a few left to ripen. I've put enough in the freezer to last us all winter - hopefully and sold all the rest. Chili peppers sell slowly, about 2 bags a week, but that is enough to pay for their space. Aubergines looked good but a lot of the early flowers didn't set. We had enough to have some for our aubergine and pasta bake and more to sell. They do make something different to go out on the stall.

We had a dozen plants but should have watered them more, they were very prolific for a while but slowed down quickly.They ought to be still producing but have gone mildewy and more or less died.

Runner and Climbing French beans
The climbing french beans were a great success we sold many, many bags  for £1 bag. Because I had some gaps in the bed I bought another packet of seeds and these were actually better than the originals ( Isabella from DT Browns) The new sort grew longer rather than fatter, and as they are best when they are thin, were ideal. Annoyingly I have no record of what the new ones were, so have left some on the later sown tripod to dry off and use next year.
Runner beans were slow to get going but we have been selling between 2 and 8 bags full every day now for several weeks.
Today's picking of runners
Despite buying heat treated sets we still had some problems with rust, so sold a lot straight away rather than trying to keep them. However there were still enough decent quality to hang 3 big nets of onions in the shed, they'll need checking for rot now and again but hopefully we may not need to buy any until next spring.

Squash and Pumpkins
We were beaten by the weeds as the squash were slow to get going. It looks a real mess out on the field and I'm not sure how many squash we will find later. There does look to be a good crop of pumpkins, but slow to turn orange. This time last year we had already started selling them. We do know we have 1 HUGE pumpkin and 4 more nearly as big, I have no idea what I'm going to do with these monsters. We were given the plants, so they were not planned, as I know from experience that extra large don't sell well, people like them football size for Halloween and smaller for eating.

Successional sowing means they are a regular part of our lunch. We sold some early on, many got too big for selling, we now have a new sowing in the poly tunnel and some in the garden to be put in a sand box for winter.
As well as growing some from seed I sent for some starter plants and we were able to sell lots of cauliflowers as well as having enough for us. Most crops are still to come of course. Plenty for us and maybe a few green and red cabbage to sell.

No Cooking apples to sell this year, but plenty of eating apples and pears. Plums and apricots have gone in the freezer.

Other crops
We have had lettuce or salad leaves available almost every day. Broad beans were not much good again, we may not grow them next year. Sweetcorn is another thing we may not bother with, simply because it's possible to buy frozen sweetcorn for next to nothing and I would probably spend less than 2 packets of seeds. We have carrots just for us and chard.

Back Tomorrow

Monday, 15 September 2014

A Warm September day

Last week C had a call from someone asking if he would be willing to help to take two pigs to the abattoir. C said yes and then remembered our horse-box trailer was still full of sacks of coal that we had bought off a friend almost a year ago. He also knew that some of the paper sacks had got damp and disintegrated so that the coal was falling out of the bottom, so he was expecting it to be a long job to empty the trailer. Thank goodness most of the sacks were still OK and he has now taken the trailer down the road so the man can feed the pigs in the trailer to get them used to going in. This, by the way is a very handy tip for anyone thinking of keeping pigs to fatten up. Pigs take a lot of shifting if there is somewhere they don't want to go! We are now wondering if we will be paid in pork or cash, I'd prefer pork!
C has been out twice today to do the irrigation equipment moving on two small fields then  again later to set it running overnight on a bigger field.
My day has been yet another day of odd jobs and resting in between including sitting out in the September warmth.

Welcome to four new people who have clicked the Bloglovin' button. I fear you have started to follow  when my posts are a bit dull, normally they full of smallholding jobs and frugal ways, I hope you will stick with it until I can get back to full health.

Back Tomorrow

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Family Get Together

Cs sister had been planning a family barbeque for the summer. But our two eldest were so busy all summer that it got round to today before everyone had a free day. Even then our Future Sons-in-law didn't make it, one busy with work stuff and the other a bit poorly.

Luckily the weather stayed fine for us to sit out the back of their lovely old farmhouse, watching the fish in the pond that was probably part of a moat when the house was first built over 400 years ago.

Before heading off for lunch, C and our eldest went to the car boot sale. I've not been to a boot sale for weeks due to the darned pneumonia and lack of energy. Think of all the treasures I might have missed! C came home today with just a box of screws to make staging for the greenhouse for his customer. ( I wanted to hang on to the staging we had ). Our eldest came back with a gardening book and  a GIANT length of hosepipe on a reel almost too heavy to carry.
She went to have a look at the HUGE pumpkin on the field and couldn't believe the size, it's gone on Facebook with caption " growing a pumpkin to turn into a coach for my wedding!"

I'm now back resting yet again........boring.

Back Tomorrow

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Odds and ends

Another day, another dollar............C was off before 8am moving the irrigation stuff again.They are irrigating carrot fields at the mo. I just wish he wouldn't bring so much of the  sandy, slightly muddy soil back with him every time!
We have paid the bill for cutting and baling the fields = £178. Not too bad considering we will be getting back nearly £1000 when we get paid. Then there will be some money from his Leiston customer for the greenhouse and fixing it and money for all this irrigation work. It's good when we owe nothing and can look forward to cash coming in.

We had 2 vouchers in the post the other day for £5 off a £15 spend in September and October for our local (15 miles away is local for Suffolk!) Wyevale Garden centre. There was also a buy-one-get-one- free voucher for lunch in the restaurant. So I'm getting out my Christmas book to see what other presents I need and then we can have a morning out one day next week. It was our 35th wedding anniversary on the 8th and we did nothing to celebrate so this will be a belated treat.

C has worked his way through the rest of the raspberry pruning and done more mowing on the campsite and around the garden. We have 2 tents and 3 caravans here this weekend and another booking for a caravan for next week so not quite as quiet as we thought. Emptying the bins today he found a whole cooked chicken had been chucked out, still sealed in its wrapper, I think waste from the campsite is the worst thing about running it.

I've had yet another rest day, I've read yet another book.... The collected works of A. J. Fikery by Gabrielle Zevin. According to my Book of Books I've Read, which I started in 1971 when I began work in a library this is the first book I've read by an author beginning with Z. It was a really good read. Quirky but in a good way.

 Our eldest has arrived for a quick visit, time to hear all her wedding plans for next May.

That's our day gone again

Back Tomorrow

Friday, 12 September 2014

96 snack sized boxes of Sunmaid Raisins = over 4lb

I didn't have to wait very long for a free delivery offer email to come through from Approved Foods and one of the things they had on Special-One -Day-Only was the mini snack boxes of Sun-maid Raisins. 4 packs of 12 boxes for £1, maximum 8 packs per person. So as raisins were on my shopping list ready for Christmas cakes and puds I decided to get some and then we had fun opening all the teeny boxes and tipping them into my storage jar. The only problem being that the raisins are packed in so tight that every box needs tearing to get them out...... it took ages. It was worth it because I have over 4lb for £2 - bargain! I also got biscuits for Christmas and packs of Tropical Mix that C likes with his muesli/bran-flake breakfast.

C was off early again to do the irrigation equipment moving and then after a coffee he was working at our neighbours. I decided to try a bit of weeding......the strawberry bed is a real mess, but after about 6 foot of clearing I was worn out. Yesterday we got one row of raspberries in the fruit cage cut back and again I had to go and rest for a couple of hours to recover. It seems pneumonia really does take a while to get over. I am managing to help with cleaning on the campsite.........C does the sweeping and I do the sink and toilet cleaning and tap polishing....not too strenuous.

One benefit of all this resting is that I'm really making inroads into  my big heap of library books, I loved The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith and The Blooding by James McGee but I've abandoned James Oswald. I thought the first in this relatively new series was good - a normal police crime story but now they are seriously weird, I can't be doing with demons and devils!

What about this for a handy coincidence ......Just yesterday I said how few cooking apples we'd got this year. This morning our elderly friend who looks after a Londoners second home called in to pick up his mole traps and asked if we wanted a bag of windfall cooking apples. The second-home owners had a huge orchard planted up when they bought the house but almost all their apples go to waste as they only visit about once in the Autumn. They have a shed full of apple racking which our friend lays all the good apples out on but each spring he has to throw most away because they don't use them. A Criminal waste!  He is going to bring us some more windfalls next time he passes too.

Welcome to Thereasonisave ( a new blogger), thank you for clicking the Google button.

Thank you for comments yesterday

Back Tomorrow

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Another week without a salary

People are always interested in how we manage without a regular income. I don't mind blogging about it so here's  a September  week without a salary.

There is not so much to sell now, the garden is really slowing down, although there will be squash and pumpkins later. The campsite is also quieter, only one caravan here next week. Until this week there had been no irrigation work since early August. This time last year C worked rolling some fields but they have been sown with  oil seed rape and rolled at the same time with a roller behind the drill. He is doing a few hours at our neighbours but otherwise we rely on campsite, gate and egg sales. Luckily the chickens have finished their summer moult so they are laying well.

Thursday 4th -- Eggs £17 + Veg £7 
Friday 5th -- Eggs £17 + Veg £6.50 + Campsite £30 + £20
Saturday 6th -- Eggs £21 + Veg £6.50 + Campsite £72 + Pay for odd Jobs £45
Sunday 7th -- Eggs £ 16 + Veg £2 + Campsite £140
Monday 8th --  Eggs £15 + Veg £6 + Campsite £48 + £24
Tuesday 9th --  Eggs £15 + Veg £5.50
Wednesday 10th -- Eggs £19 + Veg £5 + Campsite £20

The last time I did this was  May 9th when we had nothing much to sell but more income from different places. Back in April, again not much to sell but there was income from all sorts of things.

Today there were only  4 bags of runner beans out for sale. Some days in the summer, especially when we were selling gooseberries, gate sales were anything up to £30 a day.
In 2012 we had no cooking apples, last year we sold bags and bags, this year there will be none for sale and hardly enough for us.
 This is why we always save when we can because we never know what income there will be next week or next month. It would be so easy to say " we've made over £500 this week let's buy..........", but of course we can't say that. Expenditure has to be kept low which is much easier to do since paying off the mortgage, heating the house/water for free, being content with what we have, looking for good deals when we do need to buy and sticking to a budget.

I've been having a look at our financial situation and we have managed to save £2,000 since the beginning of summer as well as having enough to live on until next April tucked into the bank and building society. We will survive!

On a different subject, C said those dreaded words " I think there's something wrong with the washing machine". It had turned itself off mid wash and still full of water. We have a problem as the machine is so old that nearly all the numbers/letters have worn off the dial. So with a bit of guess work I put it on pump-out which it did - very slowly. Eventually the door lock light went out and we were able to retrieve some half washed soapy clothes. Luckily C has sorted out many washing machine problems over the years so with me saying half a dozen times " are you sure you've turned off the electric" ( we know someone locally who was electrocuted while fiddling about with a washing machine) he pulled it out and discovered the hose out- pipe out was full of gunge. Soon sorted and washing back in and rinsed - all OK. PHEW.

Welcome to new followers Vintage Gingham, Phyllis Weaving and Tracy on Google Friends. Thank you for reading. Thanks also to lots of blogging friends for comments about autumn raspberries and my shabby chic planted up ladder. Comments from blogging friends are almost as nice as letters from friends - I had one this morning from a friend who I'd not heard from for a few months - what a treat. Now I need to get myself organised to write some letters, I've been a very bad penfriend and forgotten a birthday - Tut!

Back Tomorrow

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Lots of odd jobs

After picking runner beans, tomatoes and beetroot for selling, C went off to move the irrigation equipment down in the village. He set it going yesterday afternoon and went back to check it was  OK in the evening, as it hadn't been used for a month all sorts of things could have gone wrong, but all was well. After a coffee when he got home this morning he was working around at our neighbours strimming and grass cutting.
I spent several chilly minutes rootling round in the chest freezers trying to sort out what we've got. LOADS of plums,apricots, peppers and tomatoes have gone in this year plus some raspberries. We still have some cooking apples left from last year and with all the lamb and chicken bought this month there is no chance of us starving this winter!

These Autumn raspberries are not going into the freezer, they are such a treat that we are picking and eating this many every two days. We'd never grown them until a few years ago, now I wouldn't want to be without.

 The small polyanthus plants were filling out their plug pots so I've got them into bigger pots ready to sell later in the year, the free mini daffodil bulbs have also been put into pots also for selling. That just leaves the crocus bulbs, do I risk putting them in the flower garden or put them in pots. Whatever I do I hope they don't just disappear as all the others have done over the years. A friend in Essex has so many in her garden every year, they just keep spreading but here - zilch!

Here is my ladder planted up for winter/spring, maybe I'll push a few crocus bulbs in with the pansies and polyanthus and see if they survive.
 As I was typing this in came Polly cat with a small rabbit which then dashed round and round the living room, I had to catch and kill the poor little thing - don't like doing it, mice are easy but rabbits always seem to suffer for ages, pointless just letting it go outside as Polly would be straight after it again.

This afternoon we put the first of the pears into the freezer and C decided the wind was in the right direction to burn up some rubbish - he likes a good bonfire. After a cup of tea and Countdown on TV he went and cleaned out one of the chicken sheds while  I got a veggie curry sorted for dinner using all our own veg - onion, green beans, potato, courgette and an eating apple. I used  Thai red curry paste today instead of curry powder for a change. Served up with rice and a homemade naan bread, it makes  a lovely cheap meal .

Wandering round the garden for a bit of exercise I found a few whole walnuts on the ground under the tree ( along with loads of open empty ones which the squirrels have pinched and eaten already) but when I cracked them open they were either mouldy or shriveled. So it seems that squirrels can tell the difference between good and bad without even having to crack them to find out what's inside.

That's my news from a quiet day in Suffolk not much to write about because, as advised by everyone, I'm still resting in between jobs trying to get my energy back after the darned pneumonia.

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

A Tour of East Suffolk

Thank you to everyone for comments yesterday, welcome to new followers on Google friends and goodbye to someone who has disappeared from Bloglovin'!

A very chilly start to the day this morning but at least the sun was shining.
 It was time for one of our mornings out to fit in as many errands as possible while getting the chicken feed. First stop was to collect the picture that our friend had framed for me. It was the water colour that looked like a fishing village not far from us, that I picked up at a car boot sale for £1 back in July. Then across country to a butchery place that does all sorts of things at good prices, more stocking up the freezer, chicken wings, thighs and a couple of chicken breasts plus some belly pork slices. Loads of meals for £25, with the lamb we got the other day we have enough meat to last us for months. Further east to the packaging place as we had completely run out of the small perforated plastic bags that we need for selling tomatoes etc. Back for the chicken feed, which has actually gone down by 10p a bag. Farmers everywhere have seen a big fall in what they can get for wheat this year so we were hoping feed prices would fall too. Next to pick up some glass that C had ordered ready for putting in our old greenhouse which is now at his customers home in Leiston. Finally we stopped at the Factory Shop in Saxmundham to buy some new pillows, some of mine were really old ( and I mean REALLY old!) they have them there at 4 for £10. The old ones were feather and can go into the compost heap.
Then home in time for lunch.
A few odd jobs done this afternoon and then  C had a phone call  from our farmer friend asking him to go and sort out the irrigation system ready to start watering again, it hasn't been used for a month so he went off at 4 O'clock to sort that out.
And that was another day almost gone

Back Tomorrow

Monday, 8 September 2014

A bright Monday

The sun has shone today at last, the campers onsite are sitting out enjoying the warmth.
C took advantage of the dry calm weather to work at our neighbours where she wanted some weeds spraying, I made him put his clothes in the wash as soon as he came back - such a nasty smell.

The winner of the 500th post giveaway has contacted me and the books are winging their way to Gloucester, good news indeed.

I gathered enough energy to bake bread this morning- actually the Kenwood Chef dough hook does most of the work, 2 loaves, 10 bread rolls and also a plum pie made. C put the final lot of plums into the freezer. I need to make some herb rolls and cakes too sometime this week, three weeks out of action and we are running out of so many things. I managed to get to the end of the mile high pile of ironing yesterday, but the basket was only empty for a few hours before another lot came in from the washing line. Ho Hum - there's never an end to housework.
Gardening clearance work is also way behind  schedule, I wanted to get the rest of the raspberries pruned before we got too much wet weather, perhaps by the time we get to next week I shall be back to full strength.

Nothing fantastically interesting or frugal to write about today

Back Tomorrow

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Time for the tree following link again on 7th September

Linking in with Lucy at Loose and Leafy blog.
Here is my pink flowered Horse Chestnut as we head into Autumn
The leaves are starting to turn brown, we've had very little rain here for several weeks and the few conkers are still hanging on. They are completely different to conker shells on a common Horse Chestnut, being smooth and golden rather than green and prickly.
We've a lot of tidying to do later in the year, there are some small maple and ash trees growing up again after being cut to ground level a few years ago. They need cutting right back again to let more light/moisture into the fruit cage.

Still no email from inquisitive1ady re winning the draw for the self sufficiency books. I'm not sure what I should do if I don't get a reply, how long do I wait? I've never done a giveaway before and assumed that anyone who had entered would look to see if they had won and reply straightaway.

Thank you to everyone for comments yesterday about Lakeland. I think they are good value for some things but not for their chocolate, food and Christmas stuff. I suppose SOMEBODY must buy it? Our local Lakeland shop in Ipswich is in one of the oldest buildings in the town, The Ancient House and is all small rooms and stairs up and down. There is a small courtyard, lots of plaster pargetting and beams and one room has a display of things found in the house when it was last renovated. It's one of the places people visiting the town always stop to photograph.

Back Tomorrow

Saturday, 6 September 2014

What a grey Saturday

It's half dark at 4 o'clock and for the second day running there has been no sign of the sun.

I've been resting in between doing a few odd jobs - baking some scones, ironing and a bit of cleaning. C has been busy outside- topping the hayfield, cutting some pallets for small wood, moving some water around from the big tanks behind the shed to the smaller water butts in the garden and doing all the normal campsite and chicken/egg work. I hope by the end of next week to be able to take on most of my jobs again.

Two catalogues in the post this morning one was the first 2015 seed catalogue from Marshalls and the other a Christmas one from Lakeland. Some of the prices in the Lakeland catalogue are exorbitant, who is going to pay £6.49 for 60g of chocolate just because they in the shape of 4 shoes? Or an empty Colmans mustard tin to " store your bits and bobs", when for a couple of £ more you could get a much bigger tin filled with mustard to use. Then there is the salt and pepper mill for £49.99 just because of the Conran name. 50 quid! heck, think how many books |I could buy with that!

Which reminds me. -  Inquisitive 1ady- you were the winner of the 500th post giveaway, you need to email me on the address on yesterdays post and send me your address before Monday morning or I will have to pull another name out of the box.

Thanks to everyone for comments yesterday
Back tomorrow

Friday, 5 September 2014

And the winner is....................... ( + it's library day)

Thank you for everyone who entered the 500th post giveaway, there were loads of names in the hat. So just after midday, we sat down for lunch, put all the names in a hat which was actually a cake tin, C jumbled them about and pulled one out.

 inquisitive 1ady

You are the winner!
Of all these useful books

So if you contact me by email sometime before the end of the weekend with your address, I'll get them parceled up and off in the post as soon as we are in town next week.

Good grief! look at the colour of Cs hands in the top photo, he does wash - honest, but spends more time fiddling with machinery and in the garden than he does indoors.

After a cuppa mid-morning it was time for me to make a start on that mile-high ironing pile, I did 20 minutes before feeling worn out, had a rest and then did another 20 minutes. I can see this recovery will be a slow business.

Library day has come round again, but no biking down the road for me this week, we went down together in the jeep and came home with a giant pile of books as usual. Here are my share. What a treat!

Lots of crime fiction, of course, some cookery books to browse and a couple of weird ones - "The Knowledge " is subtitled - how to rebuild our world from scratch after nuclear war, meteorite strike or pandemic virus! - sounds scary! The other odd one is The Big Necessity - adventures in the world of human waste. Oh yuck, I saw this on the library van shelf and wondered what it was. Not sure I shall get right through both of those. Isn't it amazing what people write books about.

Right, I had better finish  -lots of reading to do
Back Tomorrow

PS Thanks, as always, for all the comments, they are much appreciated.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

It's far too long since I did a proper diary post so this is very long.

What with one thing and another it's AGES since I did a normal 'what's been happening here' post.

So here we go, a catch up on a week on the Simple Suffolk Smallholding

C has been taking care of everything and picking up all my jobs as well as his own while I've been out of action for nearly 3 weeks. Once the straw was baled he hasn't had to work anywhere else except at our neighbours so is keeping on top of the regular work here.

 The campsite is still fairly busy, mostly motor-homes at this time of year calling in for just 1 or 2 nights. Although we do have one of our regulars coming for a fortnight very soon and we have one night next week with all 5 caravan/motor-home spaces taken.

I've been helping in the mornings with the packing and labeling of all the veg while C has been doing all the picking. Things are slowing down now and yesterday we had out for sale
5 bags of runner beans at 50p a bag
1 bunch of beetroot at £1
4 bags of tomatoes at 50p a bag
1 red pointy pepper at 50p
1 big bag of chili peppers at 50p
1 small bag of chili peppers at 25p
1 bag of courgettes at 50p
1 marrow at 50p
1 large cabbage at 75p

The runner beans which were slow to get going are now doing really well and selling well too.Not surprisingly at that price. I forgot to look on My Supermarket comparison site to see how much Mr Ts supermarket had them priced up at and we just sold them at the same price as always - 50p for about 500g. It was only when I shuffled round Tescos yesterday ( C pushing the trolley) that we discovered they are £1 for 255g! - about 6 beans! No wonder they are flying off our stall.

We still have plenty to eat from the garden, apart from all the above we've got lettuce, carrots, autumn raspberries,potatoes, onions and the last of the climbing French beans. Sweetcorn are a bit slow, I pulled back a bit of the green covering to see what they were like and the kernels  are still a bit pale and small. Swedes are at last fattening up- nearly tennis ball instead of golf ball.

For a couple of weeks we put lots of plums out for sale and C did lots for the freezer too. When I got back from hospital he said I had better go and look in the chest freezer in the shed to see if we had enough plums. The answer to that was YES, enough to last 'til plum time next year ! So the rest are being picked and cooked up for us to eat every day, as the quality now is not really good enough to sell. He has also sliced up lots of red peppers and frozen them and I managed to do another couple of bags yesterday.

I am very disappointed by the look of our two Bramley apple trees, I thought we had a half decent crop on the youngest of the two but they've just not grown any bigger and a lot have gone scabby and cracked. The eating apple trees are all OK - none quite ready yet, but hopefully there will be some to store for winter. C has been picking off any wasp-damaged pears and windfalls and cooking them up. I want to put lots in the freezer once they are a wee bit riper and I've got my energy back.

I grew lots of pumpkin plants and filled up the area and then we were given a few Giant Pumpkin plants, so they went onto the muck heap. C said a couple of weeks ago had I seen how big one of them was but I didn't get to see it until today. Good Grief ! How will we shift that? It will have to be rolled onto a pallet, tied on and lifted with the tractor forks. We will have to offer delivery as no-one will get it in a car - if anyone wants to buy it - it could be hollowed out and have room for a child to climb inside!
Here it is with a watering can on top for comparison AND there are another 4 almost as big. 

Coming back through the garden after my 'long' walk up the field, I noticed how a couple of beetroot had gone mad, they are too big to fit in a pan for cooking and would take hours. Although maybe OK for roasting if they are not too tough. The garden is looking in a bit of a mess as we've not had time(him) or energy(me) to do any tidying and weeding.

What about on the frugal/financial front?
Well you know lots of people are doing a 'spend less September'? Our September will be more like a 's*d the budget September!'

The freezer was getting very low in meat then on the way home last Saturday, we saw a sign not far from us saying 'Lamb £6 kg'. It's nearly 5 years since we kept sheep and since then we've eaten very little lamb but I decided to go for a half lamb as a delicious treat to see us through the winter. So on Monday C went and picked up £54 worth of lamb. ( 2x half leg, 2x half shoulder, 4x 4 chops, a large pack of mince and offal). We've tried the chops and they were gorgeous, nothing like the tough tiny things you get from a supermarket but just like our home raised lamb that we had got used to for 15 years.
Next spend was yesterday when C assisted me with the monthly shop. A couple of things we buy ( de-caff coffee and Anchor spread) were reduced so we did a big stock up on those and ended up by spending £80.
Next week we will have a trip out while we get chicken feed and call in at a butchery place that does cheap chicken wings/thighs, as I've none left in the freezer at all. Then as soon as I have more energy we will be off to Mr S's supermarket in Ipswich to stock up on cheap cooking bacon,fish and some minced beef. Then into town to go to The Grape Tree for dried fruit in preparation for Chr****as! Apologies for mentioning the C word in September!

How will we afford all this big spend? We've been nowhere except Saxmundham supermarket, Leiston doctors or Ipswich hospital for nearly a month. No car boots, no charity shops, no Amazon, no Ebay, no spending except on the necessary stuff, so there was money left in my purse at the end of August and we have earned enough from the campsite, egg sales, veg sales and C's odd jobbing to cover all our needs until next April, so all is well. We only owe money to one farmer for the hay cutting and we have nearly £1000 owed to us for hay and straw.

Another job I was able to do today was to sort out my 'shabby-chic' step ladder by the new shed with all my plants on.  They were sadly neglected so I re-potted, fed and watered the few bits still alive, chucked the annual trailing plants that have flowered all summer and replaced them with my trailing pansy plants and the polyanthus ( bought cheap from a leaflet a month or so ago). My step ladder is not so shabby now. I have still to pot up all the rest of the polyanthus sometime, ready to sell when they start flowering. C took his petrol chainsaw up the field to make a start on cutting up the dead elms that he took down a few weeks ago, only to find a bit had broken- the button that pushes the petrol through - I think he said. So change of plan and he was able to start to fit the proper water butts and downpipes on the shed instead.

Although he can manage hoovering, washing up and a bit of cooking, C isn't very good at noticing what other household jobs need doing. The kitchen and hall floors desperately need washing and there is a mile high pile of ironing to do, as far as I know he has never ironed a thing in all his 57 years! So, as I'm beginning to feel so much better I'll hope to make a start on it tomorrow.

All the local swallows decided to use the wires near the house to gather while chatting about their long flight, this was handy as we could count them. The most seen was 51, that was on Tuesday -a  sign that Autumn is here.

Just one more update- Polly, our not-as-small-as-she-was black cat, is still bringing in at least 1 mouse a day sometimes two or even more. There must be hundreds of the darn things out there in the garden.

Finally, don't forget, if you would like a chance to own the 8 self-sufficiency books that are my 500th post giveaway you need to leave a comment on last Mondays post before I look at my computer tomorrow morning. C will draw a name and I'll announce in tomorrows post( which is also library day-Hip hip hooray)

Thanks to everyone for comments yesterday and welcome to new followers on Google friends and Bloglovin'.

Back Tomorrow

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Home Farmer Magazine Reveiw

After buying a copy last month and mentioning in a blog post, I thought I would ask the friendly folk at Home Farmer Magazine if they would like me to review the magazine on my blog and  much to my surprise they said yes and  sent me a copy!
So here goes , this is what I think.

The magazine started a few years back and I was quite excited by it and subscribed ( and made a few small contributions) for about 3 years until I got fed up with all the articles being done by just two people who were also publishing books with exactly the same information in them. Since then those two people have left and the Magazine is much improved in the care of Ruth Tott and Paul Melnyczuk.

 I usually pick up a copy if I'm in the right place ( only WHS in this area) at the right time, however with a subscription now including  the book 'River Cottage Everyday Cookbook', I might be tempted to subscribe again ( or not!)

In my  opinion Home Farmer Magazine is unique as it touches on lots of subjects of interest to people who want to live a simpler, self sufficient type of lifestyle. There are a couple of Smallholding magazines on the market, dozens of cookery ones, loads of gardening magazines and even more crafting ones.But Home farmer is the only one that covers all these AND does it without hundreds of annoying adverts and without an overload of any one subject.

This is the October issue which appeared in the shops at the beginning of September ( I've never quite understood why magazines are often a month ahead of the rest of us , but there must be a reason).

This issue has a "Bold New Look" but comparing it to Septembers issue the only thing that seemed different is the Down to Earth tag line at the top of the cover has gone and they've added in a weird font which looks as if someone has dropped ink all over the top of each feature.

One of my favourite bits are the first few pages where they catch up on items of news connected with smallholding. I find this really useful because unless you listen to Farming Today at quarter to six a.m on BBC Radio 4 much of this news/legislation/information could be missed.

I enjoy reading about other peoples lifestyles so Dot Tyne's smallholding diary ( their website is Viable Self Sufficiency ) is   a good read. She always seems to have more hours in her day than we have! There is also a feature about a young couple who run a dairy selling unpasteurized (raw) and pasteurized but non-homogenized milk from their farm and on-line.Gazegill Organics. Apart from dairying the farm also sells edible herbs and flowers and organic meat and cheese.( Very Expensive, as you would expect)

There are several articles about fruit growing in this months issue.The quick guide to planting apple trees made me smile - "Bear in mind the size of the adult tree in five, ten and twenty years' time when allocating space" Mmmm  easier said than done methinks as all our trees are much too close!
You can also buy a Redcurrant and Blackcurrant bush ( worth 15.90) just for the cost of postage ( £5.65)

A regular monthly feature covers what to do in your poly-tunnel and this month there is even an opportunity to enter a competition to win an 8ft x 10ft tunnel from Ferryman Poly-tunnels. ( as we have 3 tunnels  already I don't think I will enter that!)

Crafty Gifts is a special guide for ideas for presents ( Christmas or otherwise).

Other pages cover geese, bees, hen rescue, Co-operative Land Share schemes and seed bombing        ( wild flowers in derelict areas).

Last but not least there are lots of recipes for autumn including Hugh F. H s' Squash recipes, a pumpkin pie and ideas for comfort cooking for chilly weather.

In next months issue ( available 2nd October) there are features on making your own Stilton Cheese ( who knew you could do that?) building a pond, vintage pickles, winter wildlife, building a brick oven, Buff Orpington chickens, foraging to make liqueurs and several pages of other  recipes too.

I suppose you could call this a sponsored blog post which is something I never thought I would do but it's been an  interesting experience ( and filled up a day while sitting around recovering from  pneumonia).
This sponsored post thing will NOT become a regular feature as I'm not keen on blogs that seem to be always advertising something. I hope all regular readers won't stop reading in a huff!

Don't forget if you want to enter my book giveaway you need to leave comment on 1st Septembers post before Thursday night.

Back to normal tomorrow when I really must do a proper diary post to catch up on what's happening here.

Thanks once again for all the comments and get well  wishes.


Tuesday, 2 September 2014

The Year in Books Link Up August/ September

Linking up again with Laura at Circle of Pine Trees( click on the link over on the right to see lots of bloggers reading choices)

These were the books borrowed from the library van in August

Despite the two weeks of laying about with the flu that was/is pneumonia I am nowhere near getting through this lot. The main reason being that The Diary of a Provincial Lady was a HUGE book and so good and took me several days to read. This edition is really 4 books in one and I enjoyed every bit.

This is the blurb taken from Amazon

"Behind this rather prim title lies the hilarious fictional diary of a disaster-prone lady of the 1930s, and her attempts to keep her somewhat ramshackle household from falling into chaos: there's her husband Robert, who, when he's not snoozing behind The Times, does everything with grumbling reluctance; her gleefully troublesome children; and a succession of tricky servants who invariably seem to gain the upper hand. And if her domestic trials are not enough, she must keep up appearances. Particularly with the maddeningly patronising Lady Boxe, whom our Provincial Lady eternally (and unsuccessfully) tries to compete with."

I've also read the crime fiction by Ann Granger ( historical crime new one in a series), J.M. Gregson ( modern crime, latest by an author who churns out 2 a year), Stuart Pawson ( modern crime) I choose this at random off the library van, found I had read one other by him already but then forgotten about. I shall now go back and reorder from the beginning of the series.

I didn't finish the Ann Cleeves - it went all psychological and I couldn't be bothered. Her Shetland series I find much more readable. I have read other crime by Judith Cutler but couldn't get into this one. I tried " That summer at Hill Farm" but it was a bit weird for my liking.

I've just started the Rennie Airth which is the 4th in a crime series set in the 1940s, you couldn't call this author prolific as there is a gap of 5 years between each book.

So for September I doubt I shall be reading any more from the above picture because Friday is Library day again with another 15 !! books awaiting me so far, six of which I'm really looking forward to, Including two by James Oswald, a book of short stories about 'The Railway Detective' by Edward Martin, The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith( J.K Rowling), James McGee - The Blooding, another Martin Walker and as a complete change from crime - Talking to the Neighbours: Conversations from a Country Parish by Ronald Blythe and Kirstie Allsops' Christmas Crafts.

Don't forget if you want to go into the 500th post celebration draw for the 8 Self Sufficiency books you need to leave a comment on yesterdays post.

Back Tomorrow

PS Welcome to everyone who has clicked the Google friends button. I've crept past 200 and I'm more excited than you can imagine!!


The blog here has now finished please add my new blog to your list instead                               You will find it here at    ...