Sunday, 30 November 2014

A catch up diary post

Goodness me, I've not done a proper diary post for days.

 So what's been happening here on the Simple Suffolk Smallholding?

On Wednesday the weather was awful, rain almost all day. I baked some of Cs favourite shortcakes  to put in  the freezer and a coffee sponge. I also used up the last packet of cake mix that arrived from Approved Foods in a free Lucky Box - chocolate cup cakes - oh dear not very nice. Actually of all the cake mixes I've had cheap from AF only packets of Morrisons carrot cake were good enough to even consider buying - although I never have.
C sharpened the chainsaw - the one problem with cutting scrap wood, it's sometimes very difficult to avoid hitting a nail. Then he went and baited our neighbours rat boxes.

Thursday morning was tidying up ready for the Estate agent bloke. In the afternoon C went over to our neighbours to drain the water from her watering system which is pumped from her well, while I wrote some more Christmas cards and letters.

Friday was spent chopping kindling, bringing some more scrap wood into the wood cutting shed and then cutting it up. I biked down to the library van and collected two bags of books to last us through to January. Kate-who-had-my-goats came and collected 20 bales of hay for the girls. She's got a billy goat staying with Izzy at the moment hoping for some kids in the spring. Having a Billy there is a bit of a shock for Kate who hadn't realised just how smelly they are.

Saturday morning the wind was from the east and it was one of the rare mornings when we could hear the sea from 4 miles away. It doesn't sound whoosh, whoosh, like when you are on the beach but a constant noise a bit like a central heating system. The weather/tide conditions are only right to hear it one or two days a year.
 C wanted to clean out the small chicken shed and move it to somewhere dryer, except the tractor couldn't get a grip so the shed had to stay where it was, while we wait for a hard frost or a week of drying winds.
I got on my bike and went down to the Annual Cancer Research Christmas Fair in Knodishall.  Last year all I found was the 50p Christmas decoration which I mentioned the other day as being the most viewed post on my blog - weird. Anyway, this year I found 2 small presents, a genuine old print of Great Yarmouth in a frame, some new oven gloves, and a bundle of Christmas cards - amongst them was one for a grand-daughter!.... maybe a bit of a wait before I get to use that one and I had 5 raffle tickets, I left the tickets with my phone number on but I won't hold my breath - not a lot of chance of me winning, I NEVER win in raffles! but  I did enjoy my free mulled wine and mince pie. Total spend for my morning out £4.50.
Lots of sport for C to watch on TV in the afternoon, rugby,darts and snooker. I wrote a few more cards and put the radio on in the craft room to see how Ipswich Town FC were doing. I found they had an early kick off so the match had already finished and they had won 1-0. Good news indeed and put them up to 2nd in the Championship. The town will get a  huge boost if they manage to get promoted to the Premiership, even better news later....... Norwich lost!

Sunday dawned grey and foggy, no work planned so we went down to Aldeburgh for a walk along the beach and back through the town

 The tide was very low and just  a few people about, one man fishing and a couple dog walking. More people in town as we went back  peering in the shop windows. Mostly expensive clothes shops and art galleries for the holiday cottage owners.
We drove back through Thorpness and stopped to look in the antiques and collectibles emporium. Spending for our morning out was nothing except for the bit of diesel.
A quiet afternoon planned before a busier week next week

Back Tomorrow

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Something quite tasty

The 2 samples of the vegetable nut roast things I concocted for Christmas, came out of the freezer for dinner last night. Yummy yum yum!

Only one problem........they are HUGE!
If R, G and me have one each we might not have room for the sausages,roast potatoes, roast parsnips, carrots, peas, Brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, bread sauce and gravy! Not to mention the Chocolate Meringue Gateaux or Christmas pud.
But if we only have half each they will look a bit mean. A rethink needed maybe ramekins instead of the mini cake tins, but I'm not sure my ramekins are oven proof as they came from a charity shop (of course!)
I actually remembered to write down what I did so I can give you the recipe.

Individual nut and vegetable  roast thingys ( this made 2)
Sorry I'm still not into metric so

Some dried cranberries soaked in boiling water and cooked in the microwave for a minute or so 'til soft, then drained.

4oz carrots }   Boiled and mashed
4oz parsnip}        together with some black pepper

2oz unsalted cashew nuts whizzed in the nut chopper thing, but not too fine
3oz breadcrumbs
1 small onion                     }    chopped finely and cooked 'til soft in a teeny bit of butter in
2 smallish stalks of celery }                          the microwave

Mix the celery,onion,nuts and breadcrumbs together with a beaten egg.

Line 2 mini cake tins with parchment paper and put a layer of the nut mix in the bottom.
Press down tight.
Then a layer of parsnip/carrot mash and smooth down again
Next some cranberries
Then another layer of the nut mix.
Press down firmly again.
I used medium hot oven and cooked them for about 40 minutes until they were firm and golden.
Because I wanted to check that they froze OK I then left them to cool, popped each one still in the tins into the freezer.
They were taken out of the freezer in the morning and left to defrost in the kitchen and then reheated, with a bit of foil over the top, for about 25 minutes to serve hot for dinner.

I had thought about cheese on top but decided they didn't need it. They will be luscious with warm cranberry sauce over them.

Thank you for comments yesterday
Back Tomorrow

Friday, 28 November 2014

Answering comments

Although it was library day I'll leave that until next week because I need to reply to some comments from the last few days.

Stephanie asks about reasons why her hens are not laying at this time of year. There could be several reasons. First make sure they are not laying somewhere else other than the nest boxes. Second if they are a pure breed of hen they will go off lay as soon as the days get shorter. That's why we and other people who need eggs all year round buy hybrid birds, bred to lay all year round but with a shorter life span. Thirdly how old are the hens. The older they get the less eggs they lay especially the hybrids which will only lay for about 3 years at the most. Fourth question, what are you feeding them? Hens won't lay unless they are well fed. Proper layers pellets or mash and always clean water. If you just feed grain and grass that's not enough for them to lay except in the summer.If none of those are the reasons for them not laying then there could be something getting into the hen house such as rats which will put hens off laying and take eggs or there could be an infestation of red mite under the perches and in the nest boxes.
Other than that I have no more ideas.

Please don't take things I say too seriously. I was only joking when I moaned about the newspaper voucher info from blogging friends when we have no Aldi for 25 miles. Yes we miss out on bargains but on the other hand we are never tempted to go and shop when we don't really need too. The same for the Black Friday thing. What would be the point of us doing a 50 mile round trip to save money on something when there is nothing we need at the moment anyway.

Thanks to everyone for comments about moving/not moving. We don't intend to do anything at the moment. For one thing we have no idea where we would want to move to and I'm loathe to give up my lovely big kitchen that I've only had for 3 years and all the fruit trees until we really have to.
The Estate agents valuation being a bit vague was no surprise but it does mean we can't really work out what we could afford until the place actually goes on the market and we see what interest there is in it. I think most of the independent agents around here are used to selling unusual country properties and they have links with other independent agents in other parts of the country.
 It's just amazing that something bought for £85,000 in 1992 is now worth so much more, mind you it was one heck of a tip back then and no-one had done anything to since it was built in 1955.
Northsider Dave said " you are buying in the same market that you are selling in?". well I guess so.

Julee said Dreamies were Crack for cats which I thought  was very funny. Cats do seem to love them but the handy thing is they are teeny so  there are loads in a packet and cats only need 5 or 6 at a time. I always give Polly a few when she has come in when I've called her in.

I  Think that's it for now
Back Tomorrow

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Helping us to decide?

When C had the hardly-a-heart-attack we thought we might have to move to somewhere easier to manage sooner rather than later. We booked an Estate Agent to come and do a valuation of the smallholding to help us to decide what we  should do next.

Today he came and had a look round and told us what we already knew - that it is a very difficult house to put a value on.

If you go onto Zoopla website it will tell you what other homes in the area have sold for recently. It's no good doing that here as there is nothing like this place anywhere,  let alone in the same road.

The downside to selling here are our proximity to a Nuclear power station and the pylons on the neighbouring field. Chalet bungalows with sloping ceilings in the bedrooms will put some people off and we have no central heating.
On the other hand we have 4 bedrooms three of which are doubles, a large kitchen/family room plus a living room,dining room. office/craft room. A wet room, family bathroom and an en-suite and our heating is free.
The outside 5 acres put some people off but horsey people who want an equestrian property always want the stables, fencing and a manage already done. The buildings would be brilliant for anyone wanting  to run a small business but too big for people used to just a garden shed.  Some people might like the idea of a campsite income but others wouldn't. Our self-sufficient garden has been perfect for us but far too much work for many.

Estate agents like to know who the property is aimed at but heavens knows who would want this!

So his valuation? Anywhere between £425,000 and £475,000.
Has it helped us to decide what to do next.............No!

BTW it's really good to have all the info from blogging friends about vouchers in newspapers on days when we are not leaving the house to get a paper and not going anywhere near an Aldi which is 25 miles away!! Am I bitter? Grrrrrrr!

Also thank you to everyone for cat and Christmas card comments yesterday. Mabel was in the nest she has made herself in the haybales again this morning and when I started to stroke her she came right to me.She seems to be in good condition considering and I could have picked her up and brought her indoors but I think she would probably shoot straight out again and even though Polly and Mabel were in the same pen at the Cats Protection fosterers place I have a feeling Polly would object strongly to finding another cat in the house. Hmmm more decisions to make!

Back Tomorrow

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Christmas card writing.............already?

The weather was grey and wet and depressing yet again so I decided to put the lights on in my craft room and start writing the Christmas cards. I have a couple for overseas so need to get those posted and for 3 relatives who live in and around Ipswich I use Scout Post and they need to be done by the 10th. The 1st Ipswich Scout Group have been fundraising by delivering Christmas cards in Ipswich for years, all you have to do is pop your cards and 25p per card into the special "letterboxes" in the town centre -  I use the Oxfam Bookshop. Then between the 13th and 24th there must be dozens of Scouts and helpers popping them through letterboxes all over the town and surrounding area. I missed out doing it in 2013 because we weren't in town at the right time but C has to take the Jeep to the dealers regarding the recall notice in early December so he will drop me in town for an hour and I will drop the cards in the box.

We have a Mabel cat breakthrough. If you were reading in February you will remember we adopted two timid cats from Cats Protection. Polly soon became friendly and is now very settled but Mabel somehow managed to get out of the back door before we had started to let them out. We've been feeding her outside and often see her around the smallholding but as soon as she spotted us she would be off, she wasn't even keen on being looked at through the window. But today as I came back from collecting the eggs she was sitting on the bales in the hay shed, normally she moves away but today she let me walk right up to her and actually let me stroke her. So I came indoors and got the packet of Dreamies ( I have no idea what's in them but cats love them and now people are getting paranoid about advertising on Vlogs and blogs I have to say no-one has paid me in anyway to mention them and won't it be boring if we have to do this every time we mention a trade name!) and went back and gave her a few. Maybe she will get friendlier and want to come indoors, especially if the weather turns colder but goodness knows what Polly will say about that.

Thank you for comments yesterday about veggie Christmas meals. On the two occasions I've chosen the vegetarian option for a change when eating out with groups at Christmas, one was a goats cheese tart and was really nasty and the other was supposed to be a nut loaf but just tasted like a stuffing mix.  Fobbed off with rubbishy food is what I thought!

I must welcome Anne B and Cottage Retreatest who have started  following via Bloglovin'. Cottage Retreatest has an all singing, all dancing blog about getting out of debt. ( i.e it has features like moving pictures and twitter messages that I wouldn't have a clue about!)

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Family Fame and Vegetarian Christmas Fare

A week or two ago I wrote about our Archaeologist son being on local ITV news when he was showing some schoolchildren around an old WWII  airfield as part of his latest job. I tried to work out how to put the TV clip onto the blog but failed so if you want to see what the Eighth In The East Community Archeaology project is all about you can Find it here
Yesterday we found our eldest daughter was also making a tenuous claim to fame as she had put this picture on her Facebook page. This lady appears almost at the end of the full length  Lidl Christmas ad on TV  and our daughter was the print designer who designed the bird design on her blouse. I had a look and there it is on the  Phase Eight website.

  I've finally made it in TV!! Well not me exactly, just a print I designed! Look out for the lady wearing the bird print blouse at the end of the Lidl Christmas advert!!!!

Meanwhile back on the Simple Suffolk Smallholding we are not getting carried away by our children's fame and  our feet are truly on the ground .............very wet ground......... everywhere!

C had to go to the dentist this morning, then he worked in the poly-tunnels getting all the stakes that had been holding up the tomatoes, out of the tunnels. Next job will be to barrow in as much compost as possible ready for forking in.
I spent the morning playing in the kitchen; Baking bread, making a mushroom quiche and concocting a recipe for individual  nut and vegetable roasts ready for our future daughter in law R and her sister who will be here on Christmas day. I've layered a breadcrumb/cashew nut/celery/onion  mix with a parsnip/carrot mash with some cranberries in between. The mix I used today was just enough for 2 and  I cooked them until they were firm and golden. I'm going to put them in the freezer, take them out in a couple of days time and reheat with some mozzarella on top. We will have them for dinner and if they are tasty enough I shall then make more and freeze ready for the 25th. I will probably do 3 then I can have one as well, which will leave more chicken or turkey for the rest of December. R says that sometimes Christmas vegetarian meals in pubs or restaurants are just a pasta or something equally un-Christmassy, which means she misses out on the roast potatoes, Brussel sprouts and all the other things which go to make a proper Festive meal. I will also get some veggie sausages so R and G won't have to miss out my special honey and mustard glazed chipolatas which the meat eaters in the family all love.

This afternoon I shelled out the climbing French beans which have been drying in the kitchen for a few weeks. This resulted in half a jar full which will be plenty for sowing next year.

That's another November day done and dusted, we are certainly  rushing towards  December now.

Back Tomorrow

Monday, 24 November 2014

Our first frost

We had the first touch of frost of the Autumn overnight so that when I let the chickens out it was 4℃ compared to 13℃ yesterday morning. The sun was shining too which we certainly needed after all the rain.
Much too wet for working in the garden today except for getting in the rest of  tomatoes from the poly-tunnels. The red ones into the fridge and the green ones on a tray.

They will be put in the unheated dining room and will ripen gradually over the next few weeks, leaving a couple of riper ones in the tray helps the rest to turn red.
One other job done that didn't involve walking over any wet bits was to take the dead stuff off the rhubarb bed and barrow some compost all over.

C had to go to the doctors to make sure all his tablets were still doing their job so I popped into town and found a couple more gifts for Christmas. One of the things we do here is Christmas tree presents. I don't know how and where they started, but both Cs mum and my mum did them so I've carried on. It's just a little extra present to have after tea when Christmas day is almost finished. I try and find things during the year at car boot sales if possible but not much luck this year. So a trip to the hardware shop has sorted a couple of little gifts for some of the men of the family.

Thank you for comments about stats yesterday.
Back Tomorrow

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Looking at the Stats on a wet Sunday

We really are getting the worst of the weather at the moment, grey, gloomy and rain forecast for all day. Still no sign of frost and when I went out to let the chickens out just after 7 this morning it was already 13 ℃. Grass ( and weeds I guess) grow at anything over 6 ℃ but it's too wet for grass cutting.

10.30am and we've already been in the shed and cut some more wood, the pile is getting bigger, plenty to last us for several weeks.  I'm not sure we will bother with going far today,  just round the field to collect the eggs and fill up the big chicken feeder. I may wrap a few Christmas presents and start sorting the seed purchasing list which I've been talking about doing for weeks.

Every now and again I amuse myself for 10 minutes looking at the Statistics page.

I know.......... too much time on my hands!

The all time most viewed post is this one

I had no idea why this should be the most looked at, but now  I think I've found out. If you Google 50p Christmas decorations ( though why would you?) up comes my picture from the post.

Next on the list is "The truth about Country Living" from the other day and third is also from this month " Decisions,Decisions". So November must be a good month for writing popular posts but I'm sure it's not because my brain works better in November!

I see there have been 1,852 page views from Russia - goodness me, I'm glad we don't have a CCTV camera as I've heard they can look at us much more closely than I want to be looked at!

Interesting posts are looked at by between 750 and 800 on the same day but boring ones by only around 350 - 400. Extremely boring posts get less than 300 page views.How does anyone know if the post is boring or not?

Last time I filled a post by wittering on about blog stats I was getting around 1000 page views each day, now that's up to 1,500. Being a nosy old woman I would love too know how many page views YOU get each day?

Thanks for lots of nice comments yesterday.

Back Tomorrow

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Second to last- better luck next time?

For  2 years up until March 2013 we went to charity quiz nights that are held in local villages to raise money for churches etc. We were part of a team with our farmer friend and his wife M and a couple of other people. Then one night, for some reason M seemed to take offence because I volunteered to write the answers on the quiz sheet, she didn't join in the discussion over answers as usual, just whispering to her husband, it was so obvious to everyone else in the team that it was ridiculously embarrassing.
That happened to be the last quiz of the season but in autumn 2013 when the next quiz was advertised and C mentioned about quizzing they didn't seem keen. One day I happened to meet M walking her dog as I was biking home from the library van and decided to apologise for whatever I had done that had upset her. She wasn't very nice at all and said she found me really rather nasty.
After that I didn't particularly like the idea of spending an evening with her so we didn't volunteer to book a table for a quiz again. As far as I know they haven't quizzed anymore either.
But Hip Hip Hooray!  we now have two parts of our family in Suffolk, enough for a table of 6 people so I suggested a family night out at the quiz last night.
We were almost hopeless! 10th out of 11 tables.
But it was a lovely way to spend an evening with two of our children and their partners.

Heaven knows how C managed to chop our youngests bloke in half, but he hates having his photo taken anyway.

Our son and his partner stayed overnight and this morning he helped me barrow some soil down to fill the hole where the old shed base was, that was a great help as it would have taken me weeks on my own. We just got done before the rain started at 11.
Now we just need to level it out and chuck a bit of grass seed down.

We saw the first Christmas lights in someones front porch in the village last night, a wee bit early I thought. Although this afternoon at only 3 O'clock it is almost dark and we could do with Christmas lights here to cheer things up a bit.

Back Tomorrow

Friday, 21 November 2014

November 21st -Opening the 5p tin

If you were around on frugal Blogland in April 2013 you will remember the 30 ways to save a £1,      ( You can see my list here if you are so inclined) , that lots of people did and earned £30 on Paypal, I can't remember who it was running this and giving away the £30, but I don't think they will do it again as there were rather a lot of entries.
 I redid   my list  one a day for each day in November last year and when I got to number 21  "save 5ps that you get in your change, they are small and fiddly and you won't miss them". I thought I really ought to listen to my own advice and  do that!
That's when I started putting every 5p into my telephone box money box. It was a bit slow at first, then there were more during the summer through the letterbox for veg, but not loads as we sell things in round numbers of 50p or £1.
Eventually it got quite heavy when I lifted it down from the shelf to add another one.
Now one year on, 21st November 2014, today is the day for tipping them out and counting.

 First clear space on table, tip out, round up the ones that got away and start piling them up in heaps of 10 and the grand total was £32.45p. The £2.45 has gone back in the tin, the £30 will be changed at the bank and that will be our meat money for Christmas. A nice big Gammon ham and 2 big chickens or if I can't get them I suppose it will have to be Turkey. We have 10 meat eaters  here for Christmas day and I like to have plenty left over so that I don't even have to think about what to eat for the best part of a week.
I didn't miss them from my purse so this was a good way to save a bit of money.

Thank you for comments yesterday and a warm welcome to Irene who has clicked the Google followers  button.
Back Tomorrow

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Stretching one of Frugal Queens recipes

I do hope Jane at Frugal Queen doesn't mind me sharing my idea for one of her recipes.
I noted it down from her blog a few weeks ago because it sounded good. The idea is a pie filling using bacon, potatoes,onion, leeks and a tin of condensed chicken soup. It sounded very tasty and I finally got round to making it today.
I had a thought that making pasties instead of a pie would make it easier for me to put some in the freezer for another day.
And this was how many I made

Because it was being divided up into more meals I used a bit more bacon than Froogs, 250g rather than 150g which was fried gently then 1 diced onion added and stirred around for a while. Two big leeks chopped small and 4 medium sized peeled potatoes diced quite small were then added to the pan with half a cup of water. Lid on and cook gently for a few minutes until soft. Finally stir in one can of condensed chicken soup , mix really well and let it go cold. Spoons full into centre of shortcrust pastry circle, seal up using water brushed round the edge then top shelf of oven 'til brown and lower shelf for another few minutes.
Very delicious but of course more pastry so more fattening than the original recipe.
We decided they are even better than my usual pasties made using minced beef.
The 8 we didn't eat were wrapped in foil and put in the freezer.
I might do a vegetarian version  sometime using mushrooms instead of the bacon and a can of condensed celery soup  or  maybe fresh celery and condensed mushroom soup.

The Christmas cakes made yesterday ( the recipe is on yesterdays post, and BTW I use cold tea for soaking the fruit, sherry or brandy would be extremely extravagant !)

  were wrapped in foil when they were cool and put away in the cupboard in the unheated dining room.
 I will feed them with a few teaspoons of brandy a couple of times over the next few weeks. Then add marzipan and ice much nearer to Christmas. The small one just has a circle of marzipan and icing on top, nothing around the sides that would make it far too sweet.

It's typical that the day I'm in the kitchen all morning - I also made 3 loaves of bread and an apple meringue pie - we have  had the best weather. I want to get biking again but haven't had a chance this week either too busy or too wet.
C went over to our neighbours and swept up leaves with her sweeper thing that goes on the ride on mower and he put some wires up for the Tiree Honeysuckle ( sent all the way here from my penfriend) and trained the blackberry canes around their wires. I thought he was going to be fed up during the months of recovery after the Hardly-a-Heart-Attack but he is pottering around getting everything done but with more stops in between for a cuppa. We said that when we were 20 years younger we did 2 hours work and then sat down for half an hour, now we do half an hours work and sit down for 2 hours!

Welcome to J  George who has put the number of Google followers back to 230 and also to someone on Bloglovin' which today won't let me in to see who you are.

Back Tomorrow

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Christmas cake making and technology creeping in.

I put the fruit into soak on Sunday so today was the day to get the Christmas cakes all mixed and into the oven.

My Christmas Cake recipe is here  if you are interested. This year I did 2½ times the recipe and that's made one very large cake for us, one small and a mini one for gifts.

We watched and enjoyed the " Secrets of the Castle" on BBC 2 last night.. The bloke who does the reviews for The Guardian ( which I found on line and pinched the photo from ) wasn't sure it could be interesting for 5 one hour episodes, we will see.What I liked was the fact that they hadn't made everyone wear bright blue/orange/ whatever hard hats. Though I did notice some people had goggles and they all seemed to be wearing proper work boots.
Secrets of the Castle
Peter plus chisel
  Gill and Kev in comments said they would do series record. " What's that" I had to ask C.                 " Something we don't have on FreeSat" was the answer. We are so far behind with modern technology.  I supposed we will be forced to join in eventually, when people are swapped for machines as they have done in Barclays Bank in Ipswich. I went in to pay in a cheque and the whole place had changed, where there was once people was a row of computers. I turned round and left and paid the cheque in a our local branch. But I'm sure the same thing will happen there before long. One of the girls in there asked me recently why I still needed to use cheques. " To pay for things by post I said" she looked amazed. We get people coming to the campsite without cash and they want to pay by card but as far as I know it still costs a lot for businesses to have one of the card machines, so I have to say cash or cheque please.
The ads for all the different sorts of tablets/phones/things I don't understand on TV, all make them look amazingly clever, with apps to do all sorts of useful things and even Ilona at Life without money has got a Hudl and I don't even know what one of them is. I'm not sure my poor brain  could cope? It took me weeks to get the hang of blogging!
Although I do like the Symbols  thing I've just found so I can do ☺ or ✌ or ½ or ✔ or ☕ it's added a whole new dimension to the blog!

I've just noticed someone has vanished from Google  Friends, that's unusual, and the weird anti-women bloke is around leaving his rant on comments  again - boring.

Back Tomorrow
Sue ☺

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

I say Hello and you say Goodbye.

Hello and welcome to Sooze, Northsider Dave and Frugal in Essex who have clicked the Google follower button and Goodbye to 2 people who've disappeared from Bloglovin'. Your loss!

My post yesterday stirred up lots of comments - all good fun. Thank you to everyone for joining in.
I'm back to normal today.

*    *    *    *    *    *    *

We are getting some grey, damp depressing days over this side of the country at the moment and no sign in the forecast of much change. To avoid the black dog of depression creeping up on me, we have gone out for  a short walk every day in the odd fine spell.

C covered a few of the vegetable beds with black plastic, held down by metal pipes of the kind you see on bridge railings, all county council chuck outs and very handy, though I wish some were a bit shorter so I could move them more easily.
 Talking Suffolk County Council, we have had discussions lately with 2 people who still work for CC Highways  now working  with Kier Group .The CC passed all maintenance onto the private company to save money and it now costs more for the work to be priced up than it does for the actual job. They (Kier) are getting rid of road workers left, right and centre, heavens knows what happens when the roads need gritting, the poor blokes will be on very long shifts, just to add to the nonsense of it all Kier went and spent a few hundred thousands on new gritting lorries ( claiming the money back from the CC or rather us, the council tax payers) even though the CC already had enough and they stand unused for 40+ weeks of the year anyway.
We are just glad that C is out of it all, talking to his ex-colleagues is so depressing.

I spent a while hauling some more stuff out of the polytunnels and found more late peppers left than I thought, all this lot in fact.

Several have been sliced and put in the freezer and I wiped and wrapped the rest in kitchen roll and put them in the fridge salad drawer on an old tea-towel with another one over the top. Hopefully they will keep perfectly for quite a while.The kitchen roll and tea towels absorb moisture which is what makes veg go mouldy.
Also brought in today- and isn't it brilliant to still have these available from the poly-tunnel and garden - tomatoes, mixed leaf and beetroot.

 Before Halloween when we sold all the pumpkins, there were just 5 green ones left. These have now turned orange so yesterday they went out by the stall with a sign saying 'last pumpkins £1 each' and much to my surprise 3 have sold already. I  thought we might end up feeding them to the chickens.

Ruth Goodman, Peter Ginn and Tom Pinfold are back on TV tonight. They've moved away from farming through the ages and are over in France taking part in a 25 year archeological experiment to build a medieval castle using only tools of the period. Might be interesting, we've been turning off the TV every Tuesday night for weeks ( and Wednesday and Thursdays too come to think about it) so we shall probably watch and see what it's like.

Back Tomorrow
Sue ☺

Monday, 17 November 2014

The truth about country living

This post comes with a large wooden spoon, as I like to stir things up!!

Living in the sticks is not always as wonderful as people think. Roses round the door, peace and quiet,  yes you might get those but what about the other side of the coin.

If you are in a village with a railway station or on a bus route you are probably in the minority. Even if there is a bus service  buses may only be once a week to take people to the local town for market day. Perhaps 4 a day for getting to and from work but there's unlikely to be anything after 6pm.
That means its almost impossible to manage without a car.
Once you have a car then there will probably be no choice about where to get your fuel. Not many villages still have petrol stations.

Think yourself lucky if your village still has a shop. If it does the prices are sure to be more than a supermarket. Ah, I hear you say, there's a farm shop or farmers market but if  you have one of these then the prices there will be even higher. Put the word Artisan in front of your loaf of bread and the price doubles. Where do you go for cash? There is no bank and even the nearest small town probably only has one bank with the threat of it closing hanging over it. The village Post Office is long gone. In the nearest small town the Post Office will have moved into the back of a shop, the shop is closed for stocktaking on the day you have gone to post an urgent parcel. Tough! You'll have to travel to the next town.

Very few villages have cable for TV and computer. You might be lucky and have good fast connections but more likely things will be very slow, difficult for running a business and impossible to watch a TV programme.

Village schools do exist but often taking children from several villages all around, you might have to pay for a school bus or take them yourselves. Narrow roads with no footpaths might have been OK for walking to school in the 60s but back roads are often rat-runs for people driving to work in the 21st century. So you have to drive and become part of the problem of traffic chaos around so many village schools that were not built with car-parking spaces 100 years ago! Village schools may have less facilities than larger schools. In affluent country areas many people choose to send their children to private schools so less money goes to village schools. Once children are old enough for secondary schools it probably means a bus journey. They have less chance to join in with any out of hours activities or to meet up with friends. If you want to choose which secondary school your child goes to, there may be no choice or only choices involving long journeys and no transport - yes you definitely need a car.
Your nearest college might be 25-50 miles away, how will your children get there for further education if your school has no Sixth form.

Health care.
You might be lucky and live in a village with a doctors surgery, if not its a trip to the nearest town. Hospitals are likely to be 20 to 50 miles away. Once again you do not have much choice about where to go for your operation. Nearest or 50 -100 miles away.

Heating your home
Oil or electric are the usual choices, Natural Gas might be available in larger villages but huge areas of the countryside are bypassed by the gas pipes. One plus is that in the country you may have more access to wood and maybe no neighbours to complain when you are cutting it up for your woodburner.

Of course you have beautiful countryside for walking in all around.
Well no, not necessarily. Footpaths may not be maintained and if they are then they are likely to be a sea of mud in winter. Country roads are often narrow, no street lights obviously. Right to roam may be relevant in upland areas, but you try walking through anyones land in arable country and you will soon have a farmer asking you what the h*** you are doing crossing his land. Try walking through woodland used by a local shoot and the gamekeeper will be after you in no time. Private Property notices abound. Large areas of countryside are owned by RSPB, Wildlife Trusts or National Trust, they charge you to get in or to park your car, so that's another large expanse of countryside that is closed to walkers.

Peace and quiet
If you are in the heart of a village you will still get people cutting the grass, dogs barking just like a town. Housing associations sometimes move "troubled" families from towns to village in the hope they will cause less problems!There may be less traffic but sound travels further so 3 miles from a motorway and you may still have the background roar of trucks all day and night. Out in the country you could find yourself woken at silly a.m by bird scarers, farmers working through the night on the field next door, large lorries roaring down tiny roads to farms, second home owners having all night parties - why should they care, they're off back to London tomorrow! Or your local farmer may suddenly get permission for building 6 large chicken sheds and then you have the joy of horrible smells when the sheds are cleaned and thousands of flies or maybe he decides to liven things up by holding 3 day music festivals. You might be a couple of miles away but the thump of the base will make your house vibrate.

Community spirit in a village may be sadly lacking when half the houses are second homes or holiday lets. The people who own them contribute very little to the local area and without enough support suddenly there is no shop and post office, nowhere to meet anyone for a chat.  Village halls are often old, lacking facilities and needing large sums of money for upkeep. If half the homes in a village are second homes and half of the other half are elderly people there's not many fit young folk to look after village facilities.

Ha Ha. It's stay at home with the TV or get that car out again. Often village events are not advertised so if you're new to an area you might not know about something 'til after it's happened. Village organisations can be a bit clique affected, especially in villages that have not had new estates with an influx of new people. If everyone knows everyone else and you say something to the wrong person you might find you're suddenly not welcome.

Lots of generalisation  here I think.
Your village is probably not like this at all.

Back Tomorrow

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Review of Home Farmer Magazine

What a horrible grey nasty Sunday.

We did almost nothing except cutting some wood and watching Gareth Malone's Children In Need celebrity choir thing, which we didn't see last week.
Therefore nowt to write about so it's handy that  the very nice people at Home Farmer Magazine seemed to have put me down for a regular subscription which is a surprise as I was only expecting one copy to review. However  I shan't complain and it gives me something to blog about once a month. ( And I apologise to any fellow bloggers and commentators who  don't like people reviewing free things on their blog posts.)

The December copy arrived here two weeks ago but what with one thing and another I only got round to having a proper look yesterday.

As usual lots of articles on many various subjects of interest to smallholders, gardeners and anyone interested in " doing their own thing".

There are two more cheese recipes to make at home, this month Camembert and a Creamy Lancashire Blue and to go with them some recipes for various crackers which look very tasty. ( Has anyone else noticed cheese making kits for sale everywhere for this Christmas?)

The magazine often features small scale food producers and this month have visited " Totally Fudged"  who make what sounds like very delicious Fudge in West Sussex.

For gardeners the Author John Harrison has a piece about choosing what vegetable seeds to buy for the 2015 growing season. There is a very handy chart showing how long seeds will keep. Most are viable for several years, so don't chuck them out just because you didn't use them this year. The only things I always buy fresh each year are parsley and parsnip. As John says " the fun bit is settling down with the seed catalogues ( or computer) to see what they are offering."

If you have a poly-tunnel there is a timely article about First Aid for getting the tunnel through the winter. You may remember what happened to one of ours last year!

It needed more than First Aid!

The second part of "Diary of an incompetent smallholder" is at the end of the magazine and once again it is full of stories of things that shouldn't happen if you are more careful than Mr Barr. I was horrified to read about his sheep escaping and eating rhododendron leaves. A good shepherd checks boundary fences every day and I didn't find his description of his sheep foaming at the mouth very funny. Sorry HF editors but I'm afraid items like this "don't do what I do" are not amusing.
'More money than sense' comes to mind when I read bits like this.

Completely opposite to this is Dot Tynes diary from her Welsh Smallholding - they DO know what they are doing.
For crafters there are pieces about making bird boxes and a rag wreath.

All in all lots of reading with few adverts and this months special offer is for a free book - choice of chicken or pig keeping- you only pay postage. Bargain!

Back Tomorrow

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Halfway through the month, a look at spending and my "to do" list

 Half way through the month, so I thought I would look back at my November Plans list.
This is what I wrote at the beginning of the month

  1. Continue eating our own fresh apples and fruit from the freezer so that we spend no money on fruit apart from an orange and a lemon for the Christmas cakes.✔
  2. Make a double batch of Naan bread✔
  3. Make a batch of Tomato and Herb rolls✔
  4. Do the main monthly shop✔
  5.  Sort the seed/veg plant order and make sure it is less than the £100 that it was last year.
  6. Get chicken feed on the way back from Ipswich when C has his 24 hour heart monitor fitted✔
  7. Christmas cakes to make, 1 for us and 3 small ones for gifts
  8.  I need to find out what Cs Dad and Brother would like for Christmas and get them sorted out
  9. We need to clear the 2 runner bean beds and store the canes away and pick off some beans for drying.✔
  10. More clearing in the 3 poly-tunnels
  11. Chop a few more sacks of kindling wood✔
  12. Clean out the empty chicken shed✔
  13. Clear a few veg beds - at least 3
  14. I want to fit in  some cycling or swimming or both for fitness
  15. Go and see the sea✔
  16. Visit charity shops in a different town✔
  17. Confirm how many people will be here on Christmas day✔ 
11 out of 17 things ticked and I have asked Cs Dad (a blue shirt) and brother what they want for Christmas, but his brother hasn't a clue - no help. He is the only person left with a blank space beside his name in my Christmas book.
I've looked at what seeds we have but as we can't decide if/what we will be growing for sale (or not) in 2015  I've done nothing about ordering.
 So overall not too bad. Plus some things have been done that were not on the list like hiring a breaker to finish the old shed base, clearing the broken concrete away and moving some wood from the open fronted cart shed into the wood shed for cutting.

 As for the plan to keep spending well below November of last year, that's on track apart from the cat costing me a small fortune.
So far this month
Direct Debits for Council Tax, Water, Phone, Charity donation, Business and Campsite insurance =£227. Diesel £49, Birthday and Christmas Gifts £228,( from money saved all year for gift spending and some was clothes for C) Huge sack of Peanuts for birds ( will last all winter) £25. Smallholding £55, Chicken Feed £61, Printer paper £3, Bathroom stuff £6, Stamps £6, Laundry Liquid ( years supply online bulk buy) £32, Me ( secondhand books and yarn) £6, Food inc. some for Xmas £117. And the Very Expensive Cat £121 ( 2 months of food as on offer)
Total of £933.
In the second half of the month I will be sorting out some more Christmas gifts and buying milk and a few bits of fresh stuff.

I was looking back at last years posts and found the one I did about how little do we need to live on.

This suddenly seems very apt as we try and decide what to do here (or somewhere else). We've been talking ourselves around in circles for the last few weeks and seem to have these options.
  • Stay here and scale down on the strenuous work, live as simply as possible but perhaps forcing us to use savings to live on.
  • Move somewhere in Suffolk that's much cheaper, leaving enough to also buy something to rent out for income.
  • Have a complete change of scenery and move to another part of the country to somewhere a little cheaper and use savings to buy holiday flat/caravan in the same location to rent out for income.
  • Get proper jobs. ( C says not an option!)

So that's half of the month gone, perhaps we will have more idea of what we are doing by the end of the month - but I doubt it

Back Tomorrow
Sue ☺

Friday, 14 November 2014

Beans means.............more beans next year

It's been a Very Grey Day here on the Suffolk coast , C needed the light on  for reading before 3 o'clock.
We did a couple of jobs outside before the rain started and cut a bit more wood inside the shed later. 

 This afternoon I shelled out the runner beans, which had been drying over the Rayburn.

A nice lot for saving to sow next year
They should all be the same sort -  St George -  but a few others seem to have sneaked in.

I need to reply to a few comments on previous days posts.

Yesterday I deleted a very strange comment from a male chauvinist who was very anti women. DON'T click on his blog please.
Also yesterday John Grey reckoned I looked like the terminator while I was using the concrete breaker. Thanks John! I was wearing C's visor and ear defenders that he uses for wood cutting, so probably did look a bit odd, although compared to some things I was called when I was much younger that was probably a compliment.

A few days ago Sue at New Life in the country said Sunday mornings was a good time to practice driving on a Motorway, that's a good idea but the trouble is that we are nearly 80 miles from the nearest - either the M11 which is the other side of Cambridge or the dreadful M25. I wonder if it's possible to drive around the country avoiding every motorway - that's what I would do I think!

There were lots and lots of suggestions after my Sunday post about deciding our future. Our smallholding is out in the country a mile from villages, 2 miles+ from small towns and 25 miles from a big town. We've done  village life and I wouldn't want to go back. A village has all of the downsides of a town with none of the benefits. I've lived in  a small town in Suffolk for 5½ out of my 59½ years, a hamlet of a few houses for 42 years ( including 22+ here) out of 59½ and in villages for the other 12  years. I do know I would never live in a city or a large town. Someone suggested a canal boat but that's something we've done for holidays and enjoyed but not a permanent solution for us now. A small town on the coast somewhere would be ideal, but that won't be in Suffolk as there are only 4 towns on our coastline, and for various reasons we wouldn't want to live in any of them!

I don't seem to be getting around to leaving any comments on other peoples blogs at the mo. Not sure where the time goes. I know some bloggers get annoyed at people reading and not leaving a comment but I have so many blogs I like reading and not enough hours in my day.

Back Tomorrow

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Breaking the bank AND concrete.

I finished yesterdays post by saying I would be back today with a frugally post unfortunately that was before I took Polly to the vets. £97!!!!!!! It's been ages since we last took an animal to a vets, I had no idea that vets fees had gone up so much. Polly needed to be looked at because she was looking a bit tatty after I used some cheap flea stuff on her and I remembered a cat we had many years ago having the same problem. So a steroid injection, 6 months supply of  decent flea treatment, two lots of different wormer and I was nearly £100 worse off.

The vets is right next to the tool hire place so while I was being robbed C popped in there and hired an electric concrete breaker so we could get that last bit of shed base done. He was doing it bit by bit with a sledge hammer and had spent twenty minutes on it just an hour before the Hardly a Heart Attack 5 weeks ago.
Me and the breaker

did all the rest in half an hour easy peasy!

Look at this for a late autumn treat, because the weather has been fairly dry and extra warm the autumn raspberries had a late flourish.
And Finally for today,
 Spotted in M&S yesterday
Specially for  your bed for Christmas
You don't decorate your bed for Christmas?
M&S think you should, they have this Christmas Duvet cover or you could have reindeer or Santa

WHY? well why not?
after all it's only £59!

Back Tomorrow
 Sue          Toile Bedding Set

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Drive repeated

Thank goodness I don't have to commute to work everyday.

Today was almost a repeat of yesterday as I drove C to hospital to return the 24 hour heart monitor. We swapped over and he dropped me off in town while he took the Jeep to the dealers as we've had a recall notice on it - something to do with the towbar and rear end collisions. The jeep is 11 years old so it seems odd that they've now found a problem with the design. I dashed around a few shops and sorted another Christmas present then he picked me up and I drove home again.
Two days of driving to Ipswich and back is enough driving practice for me !

We had some campsite visitors who have become friends pop in for a cuppa and a natter this afternoon.

I'm now shattered.

Back Tomorrow - I'll try and do a proper frugalling post.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Driving practice

We had an early start as C had to be at Ipswich hospital for 9.15. He could have driven today as it's 4 weeks since I notified the insurers about the Heart Attack, but he said I ought to have as much practice as possible!
We started off at the hospital then went down to Felixstowe to see the grey North  Sea, the  wind was right off the sea so it was good and rough.

  Next into town for a browse round a few charity shops ( just £2 spent on 2 old Enid Blyton books..... I'm reverting to childhood!) then home via a car place so C could have a look at a car he saw for sale on t'internet. It's A Ford Fusion -  a possible make for downsizing, but he's undecided at the moment. Everything seems very small compared to the Jeep Cheroke which we've had for the last 7 years. Our final stop was the feed mill to pick up a some bags of chicken pellets. In all a round trip of about 100 miles. He said my driving is fine and my confidence is certainly building. His being in hospital for 10 days forced me into the driving seat and has done me no harm although I've still got no experience of Motorway driving or on really busy A roads.

Thank you for comments yesterday

Back Tomorrow

Monday, 10 November 2014

A normal Monday

Thank you to Mary in Bath, Jean at Shrimpton and Perfect, Morgan at Growing in the Fens, Kev, Chickpea, A Kentish Maid, Bovey Belle ( and thank you for the alternative Apple Dappy recipe), The Saver of Surburbia, SusanM, Gill, Cro, Pam, Sweet Blondie Blue Eyes and Out My Window for comments yesterday about moving or not moving.
I have no idea what we will do. Nothing between now and Christmas that's for sure.

This morning after I'd got the bread dough proving we delivered 12 bales of straw to Cs customer in Leiston, she uses it for mulching dahlias and other flowers over winter. She settled up what was owed for him working there last month. When the bread was doing it's second rising we cut a bit more wood. We thought if we do 15 minutes of cutting every day that we can the wood heap will soon be big enough for lasting for ages. C brought in all the french climbing beans to dry and took down the canes.

This afternoon I've been turning a small white tablecloth that was bought from a car boot sale umpteen years ago, into 4 napkins. It's looking as if we will have 12 people here for Christmas day  and I've got 8 Christmassy napkins so these 4 will make enough and that will save me buying paper ones. Christmas day is the only day I even think about us being posh enough to use napkins! They do look nice when the table is all laid.
That's the sum total of the excitement here today apart from a dash round everywhere with the hoover and duster.

Back Tomorrow

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Decisions, Decisions

We've been here since 1992, in the early years we managed a week or so away each year by having relatives and then the grown up children coming to stay, but recently we've had just 1 week away in the last 4 years. Not because we can't afford it but it's just so blinkin' complicated when there are a mass of chickens  and plants and poly-tunnels and a campsite to consider. There is no getting away from the fact that a smallholding like this is a tie and Hard Work.

C's Ha Ha ( Hardly a Heart Attack - Jean at Shrimpton and Perfect suggested we call it this in the hope he can laugh it off!) has made us reconsider how long we can stay here, whether it would be sensible to consider moving to a normal house. Could we stay here without growing to sell and keeping lots of chickens? Would the campsite bring us enough money to live on? Would the inheritance from my Dad stretch to live on until pension time if we moved somewhere cheaper? This place must be worth about £400,000 it would be easy to find somewhere a lot less than that. But would we be bored rigid without a smallholding?

I get restive every winter. It's hard to join in with anything when every event requires a car journey. Walking is no fun here in winter when all the footpaths are a muddy quagmire. Sometimes I feel confined to the house when it's dark by 4.30. In a town there is often things going on after dark that can be got to by walking  Mostly I don't mind feeling housebound for 5 months of the year but sometimes I do!

All this is because I looked through the seed tin to see what we needed for next year. We had already decided not to bother with some of the winter vegetables. We don't grow anything to sell once pumpkins and squash have finished. White fly has ruined many of the brassicas again this year despite enviromesh which seems to make them taller and weaker. Then it came to deciding how many tomato, cucumber and pepper seeds we needed to buy this year. If we have a holiday it would need to be before  the campsite opens or after it closes. Then we have our eldest daughters wedding to get to in May. When would I start the seeds and how would I leave the plants if we are away?

What ARE we going to do?

Where else would we like to live? ( that's easy for me -- anywhere by the sea where the sea is NOT grey)

Who knows, and how and when do we decide?

Back Tomorrow

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Saturday odds and ends

Welcome to Here We Go Looby Lou and A Kentish Maid who are both following via Google and Karen and Catherine on Bloglovin'.

This morning I took C to the surgery for a flu jab, apparently having heart issues qualifies him for a jab for free. Even though I'm 2 years older than him and had pneumonia this year I didn't qualify- I feel quite left out!
 While waiting for him I popped into the library and found this lovely book on the For Sale shelves,The island in question is in Strangford Lough and the photos are gorgeous. I paid £1.50 for it and it's in lovely condition, I can't work out why it had been withdrawn for sale after only 4 years.

Still no frosts here on the Suffolk coast so the tomatoes and peppers are  hanging on in the poly-tunnels and the beetroot outside are still OK in the ground. I've been waiting for more seed catalogues to arrive so I can sort the seed order but still only Marshalls, The Organic Garden Catalogue and Suttons. What's happened to Browns and Kings this year? Maybe I'll write my list of what we need tomorrow as the forecast is awful so I don't think we will be going far plus there is tennis on TV in the afternoon.
Today has been fine and a load of washing was dry by lunchtime. We did another bit of wood cutting, adding some more small stuff to the wood heap and filled up the chicken feeders. This afternoon C took the pressure washer to the empty chicken shed( mower trailer in use again), fixed up the hosepipe and electric and got into his waterproof overalls to give it a clean out.Another job done.

 These are almost the last of our eating apples, picked off  the small trees before tomorrows weather knocks them down. There are a few of the very late variety still on the bigger tree in the garden, they are well sheltered so should be OK. Last year we picked them off in November, wrapped them and they stored until mid January. This year there are so few I think we will have eaten them all by mid December.

And finally a view from right at the top of our field, the furthest end from the house, there is a gap through the hedge and the countryside stretches away with the pylons marching  into the distance all the way to the outskirts of Ipswich.

 Back Tomorrow

Friday, 7 November 2014

Apple Dapple recipe, Book Review and todays news

This is the recipe I mentioned yesterday, it came from a leaflet picked up in the Co-op.

It is real winter stodge!
I hope you can see it, basically its flour, butter and sugar and milk( the recipe says cream) mixed together, rolled into an oblong. Grate apple allover and sprinkle demerara sugar over that, with the long side of the oblong facing you roll up carefully, cut into slices, put on parchment paper on a tray, sprinkle a bit more sugar over and bake at 220C/450F/Gas7 for 20-25 minutes.
My tips are DON'T make this too far in advance of cooking as the apple juice soaks into the pastry and the whole thing collapses! 100g flour makes a very small amount of pastry, 4 tbsp milk is FAR TOO MUCH. 1 grated apple looks mean so I used 2 .The slice in the middle didn't cook enough.
Otherwise it was quite tasty served up with some nice custard and another way to use windfall apples.

My book review is of the book received from Persephone publishers.

If anyone had told me how much I would enjoy a book written in the USA in 1924 I probably wouldn't have believed them.
This little treasure of a book ( I read it in a few hours over two evenings) looks at role reversal, with Father staying at home to look after the children and Mother going out to work. In 2014 this would perhaps sadly still raise an eyebrow but 90 years ago it was unheard of.
The story starts with Evangeline, the fanatically clean housewife and Lester the dreaming accountant as square pegs forced into round holes,both extremely unhappy but without either of them knowing why. We find the 3 children suffering, the eldest two are sickly children while the youngest shows his unhappiness by rebelling against everyone and everything.
Tragedy strikes and Eva is forced to go to work selling clothes for the department store in which her husband had failed as a hopeless accountant. Lester, now in a wheelchair, stays at home as the new Home Maker.
We see the family blossoming in their new roles while neighbours in small town America look on some kindly but others still unable to see beyond convention.
There are some beautifully written passages- just how do you crack an egg if you've not done it before? and the new relationship between Lester and Stephen is described in loving detail.
The twist at the end is good too - when is honesty NOT a good thing?
I would definitely recommend this ( and I normally read historical crime!)

*      *      *      *      *      *
We had a horrible wet and windy morning here today. C decided to fire up the chainsaw for the first time since the "hardly a heart attack". I went and loaded the bits of wood onto the sawing horse to help. He just did 15 minutes cutting some small stuff and got on fine- no ill effects.

In 2012 I bought some Polyanthus plug plants and potted them up and put them out for sale, hardly any sold and most went into pots and into the garden. Then in 2013 someone told me they were disappointed I didn't have any for sale. So this year I got some more and have been carrying them in and out to the stall everyday for weeks and have sold just 6 plants, so I gave up and this morning they've gone in more pots out the front of the house. Remind me not to try them for selling again!

That's me done for today
Back Tomorrow

Thursday, 6 November 2014

An un-exciting day

I took C to the doctors this morning,  he'll be able  to drive himself  again from next Tuesday, thankgoodness.  His tablets are being jiggled again and she agreed that the hospital doctor increasing the statin tablets eightfold was rather a big increase, they gave him awful indigestion so he's gone back to the original dose. This tablet thing is complicated stuff.
I went in the Co-op while I was waiting and came to the conclusion that my hamper idea is rubbish! I buy stuff for Christmas bit by bit anyway  and only buy what we need, so buying other things to put in a hamper box would just be a waste of money.

This afternoon C went over to our neighbours to do a few small jobs she needed doing and I sorted a lasagne and a new recipe called Apple Dappy ready for our youngest and her bloke coming round for dinner tonight. IF the apple thing is edible I'll post the recipe tomorrow.
Nothing else of note to write about today, I'm too busy reading my free Persephone book!

( for some reason the Naan Bread recipe link didn't work yesterday , it should be OK now)

Back Tomorrow

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Knock Knock, who's there? Lucy. Lucy who?

Lucy Lastic!
That's what happened to a pair of my leggings, so I spent a while this morning  turning over the top, where the loose elastic had been stitched in, stitching it down and threading in a new bit. I have come to the end of a huge bundle of elastic that I picked up at a car boot sale about 10 years ago. I'd better remember to add elastic to my shopping list as you never know when you will need it.
I also mended a couple of big tears in Cs overalls to keep them useful for a while longer. Mending was the perfect job for a day where the rain started at 1am and carried on for 11 hours virtually non stop. The field was quickly waterlogged.

My other job this morning was making a double batch of Tomato and Herb rolls.
 I'm sure I've posted the recipe already but it's not labelled under recipes so this is it if anyone wants to try them.

 Yesterday I made Naan Bread and we cleaned out the empty chicken shed, so that's 3 things off my November Plan list from last Sundays post.

I said the other day that we never worry about the postman coming and this morning he brought all sorts of interesting things. 2 were items ordered for Christmas gifts, the latest Home Farmer Magazine for me to review ( they must have put me down for a whole years subscription for free - Goodness me!) and finally a box saying Live Plants..... at last the 24 Strawberry Plants had arrived. They were free except for postage from Junes issue of Home Farmer - that was a copy I had bought for myself!
 We got some cheap grow bags from B & Q several months ago because we want to grow the strawberries in the poly-tunnel but up above ground level. C has planted them up today with each grow bag on an old scaffold board. They will sit outside until late winter then we will move them into the poly tunnel. I'm not sure if this will work or maybe they should be under cover straight away? We will see what happens.

Right, The delivery man has just brought the AF order so I'm off to unpack it and put everything away before dinner.
Back Tomorrow
PS Thanks for all the interesting comments yesterday about Christmas hampers and shopping catalogues.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Christmas Hampers

Do you remember the time, before the internet, when every home had a big fat catalogue for mail order shopping - Kays or Littlewoods, Freemans or Grattan?

It was Kays for us and my favourite thing when I was little was looking through the Winter catalogue and choosing what toys I would have if only I could buy them all. Then I would turn to the pages with all the Christmas Hampers and think what fun it would be to have a huge box of Christmassy food arrive.

I've always liked the idea of a Christmas Hamper. Years ago I was on a playgroup committee and we came up with the idea of  all the parents donating items of food to make a big hamper for a Christmas raffle fundraiser. So much was donated I suggested that we divide it all up to make 3 smaller boxes to give more mums a chance to win but I was over ruled and the person who won the huge box full was someone who could easily have afforded to buy it ten times over while those of us on a tight budget had to smile and grit our teeth ! ( You can tell  I've never forgotten it!)

The Lakeland Catalogue is the only one I see nowadays, they do small Hampers at extortionate prices. But I can see the catch with a hamper,  because there are always one or two things that either I've already made or I would never eat.

So I  decided as I was unlikely ever to win a hamper or have one given me, I would do my own. Every time I go shopping between now and Christmas I will buy one thing that we don't usually have and add it to a box. This way everything will be something we like. If I put the things in a box without looking at what's there already perhaps I will have forgotten what I've bought and it will all be a surprise when we come to open it.

I googled Christmas Hampers and this came up

A Waitrose Hamper which costs £200!!!! Very Posh.
  • Waitrose Brut NV Champagne 75cl
  • Waitrose Ruby Port 75cl
  • McWilliams Silverwood Pinot Grigio 75cl
  • Houghton The Bandit Cabernet Sauvignon Shiraz 75cl
  • Arden & Amici Almond & Chocolate Chip Biscotti 180g
  • Brodies Traditional Scottish Christmas Tea in Caddy 125g
  • Buiteman Parmigiano Reggiano Biscuits 75g
  • Convivial Yorkshire Cheddar & Caramelised Onion Chutney Crisps 100g
  • Joe & Seph's Brandy Butter Popcorn 80g
  • Linden Lady Handmade 15 Luxury Chocolates 240g
  • Maxwell & Franks Christmas Pudding with Cider 454g
  • Panettone Classico in Gold Wrap 500g
  • The Dormen Caramelised Almonds 95g
  • Waitrose Olympian Olives in Brine 300g
  • Waitrose Seriously Chocolatey All Butter Triple Chocolate Biscuits 125g
  • Waitrose Bittersweet Seville Orange Fresh Fruit Marmalade 340g
  • Waitrose Bright & Tangy Wild Cranberry Sauce 205g
  • Waitrose Rich, Smooth & Well Balanced Colombian Ground Coffee 227g
  • Waitrose Rich, Sweet & Crumbly All Butter Shortbread Selection 450g
Yes you read it right, this picture shows what you get for £200. Of course you get a basket and free delivery which makes it OK for them to charge this much?!  My hamper won't be quite so extravagant.

I started yesterday with a box of chocolate biscuits for £4

I shall let you know how my hamper progresses.

Thanks for all the comments yesterday, Captain Shagrat asked for the tuna quiche recipe. It was just a small tin of tuna chunks drained, chopped parsley and chives, some sliced tomato, black pepper and covered with a mix of 2 eggs beaten and a bit of milk. Sorry, I'm very vague on measurements as with a quiche I just guesstimate what I need. It was cooked on high for about 15 mins while the scones were in the oven then moved to the Rayburn which wasn't hot enough to do scones but finished off the quiche.

Back Tomorrow

Monday, 3 November 2014

4 Days Diaires in one post

On Friday I did my usual Review of The Month, On Saturday it was The Library Book Photo , yesterday was a list of Plans for November so it's about time for an ordinary diary post catch up.

The warmest Halloween on record and C felt well enough on Friday afternoon to go over to our neighbours and use the ride on mower to cut her grass, she was pleased that he will still be able to work for her. I made a small batch of cheese scones for C and some fruit ones for me and a small tuna quiche for weekend lunches. A few outside jobs were done as well but I can't remember what they were!

On Saturday up popped an email for reduced price delivery from Approved Foods and a Free Lucky box too. I wasn't sure there was anything I wanted but found a giant bag of Salt, some Pure soap, biscuits, mandarin segments, fajita seasoning, mint cremes- well in date -  and cranberry sauce  for Christmas, liquorice allsorts for C and Cadburys Screme eggs for me ( ordinary creme eggs but with a halloween wrapper!) and that was enough for an order.
While I was fiddling about online I did a small Amazon order for some Christmas presents.
The weather was decent so we worked together outside and got the electric fences down from around the now empty chicken shed, then C was able to hook the shed up to the tractor and tow it down to right beside the muck heap on the field so it will be easy to clean out. We used the trailer on the mower to shift the feed bin that was beside the shed which means everything there is now cleared away. C also drained the water out of the campsite toilets.

My sister and brother-in-law called in for a cup of tea and a natter after doing a 7 mile walk along the coast. ( They are much fitter than we are I think!).

We didn't bother to go and see if the car boot was happening on Sunday morning  as the weather was windy with rain threatening. The rain held off long enough for us to clear one bed of runner beans and I picked off a tray full of beans for drying to use for seed next year.

On Sunday afternoon we planned to go for a walk along the prom at Aldeburgh but the rain was pouring down and neither of us fancied a wet walk. We had a quiet afternoon watching Darts on TV and reading instead.

Today we went to Saxmundham to do the monthly shop. I had a £4 off £30 spend  and £6 in vouchers for Tescos. Quite a big spend there because cat food was on offer so I got 2 boxes of pouches for Polly, and they had some boxes of chocolate biscuits on offer which will be Christmas presents.
When we got home the postman had been and brought me something nice..... A free book :-)
When the Persephone Biannually catalogue arrived a couple of weeks ago I noticed a paragraph saying that they had a free book - The Home Maker by Dorothy Canfield Fisher to give away to bloggers, as you can imagine I was there emailing them like a shot. Now I just have to read it and review and link my review to their website.
 I love the Persephone publishing company, they find books that have been forgotten and reprint them in their special way with endpapers featuring fabric of the period. I've been slowly collecting them  over the last few years but not usually new as they are quite pricey.

 This afternoon the rain really came down so while I was working indoors C went out and made a start on sorting out his workshop which is in a terrible mess. I've been offering to help him tidy it all summer as things just get dumped in any old how but he thinks I want to throw too much out (true) so he always refuses my help.
Our friend T arrived with the nice big cheque - £900- for the hay he had back in the summer, that will help the bank balance no end and make it easier for us to get through to campsite opening time without dipping into the savings, Then  a ring of the doorbell and a lady who had a couple of bales of hay for her ponies a month ago was back for another 6 bales and that was another £15 into the kitty. 

Right, that's up to date and I must go and sort out dinner

Thanks for comments yesterday.

Back Tomorrow

Sunday, 2 November 2014

November plans

I was thinking about what needed doing this month and decided to do what I always do - Write a List.
Then I thought I might as well share it with you
  1.  Looking back at last Novembers accounts I found that it would have been a low spend month if we hadn't had to spend out a whopping £500 on tractor repairs. Without any tractor spending this month ( now I've said that the B.......thing will probably break down!) I would like the 2014 November spending to be well down on last year.
  2. Continue eating our own fresh apples and fruit from the freezer so that we spend no money on fruit apart from an orange and a lemon for the Christmas cakes.
  3. Make a double batch of Naan bread
  4. Make a batch of Tomato and Herb rolls 
  5. Do the main monthly shop
  6.  Sort the seed/veg plant order and make sure it is less than the £100 that it was last year.
  7. Get chicken feed on the way back from Ipswich when C has his 24 hour heart monitor fitted
  8. Christmas cakes to make, 1 for us and 3 small ones for gifts
  9.  I need to find out what Cs Dad and Brother would like for Christmas and get them sorted out
  10. We need to clear the 2 runner bean beds and store the canes away and pick off some beans for drying.
  11. More clearing in the 3 poly-tunnels
  12. Chop a few more sacks of kindling wood
  13. Clean out the empty chicken shed
  14. Clear a few veg beds - at least 3
  15. I want to fit in  some cycling or swimming or both for fitness
  16. Go and see the sea
  17. Visit charity shops in a different town
  18. Confirm how many people will be here on Christmas day
C said "that's only 18 things so 18 days what are you going to do for the other 12?!"
Mmmm guess what I said.

Back Tomorrow

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Library Book Photo and Year in Books Link

Not many books for me to collect this month, which is probably a good thing as I still have lots left unread from 4 weeks ago.
4 of these are crime fiction by Authors I've not read before so I'm not sure about them. Out of the 8 books above there are only 2 that I know I will enjoy.
Linking in with Laura at The Circle of Pine Trees for The Year in Books

These are the books I brought home last time. I read and enjoyed James Runcie - Sidney Chambers and the shadow of Death ( On TV as Grantchester), Ann Cleeves- Thin Air, Alys Clare - Blood of the South, Sally Spencer - Death's Dark Shadow, Andrew Swanston - The Kings Spy, Mel Starr - Rest not in Peace.

I looked at and abandoned Diving belles( short supernatural stories based on Cornish folk tales). The Blank Wall ( Persephone reprint of a 1940s suspense set in WWII USA). Paying guests by Sarah Waters.

I perused A slice of Organic Life and Kirstie Allsops' Christmas Crafts but wouldn't want to add either to my bookshelves

All the rest are still in a heap under the table beside my armchair waiting for me to have more time.

Back Tomorrow


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