Friday 31 July 2015

Green Tomato Chutney

One of the tomato plants in the poly-tunnel went rotten at the bottom of the main stem where a side shoot had been removed. It was loaded with green tomatoes, absolutely perfect for making a batch of green tomato chutney. This is a very easy chutney. Nothing to go wrong really and easy to make half the amount.

This is how it was made

Yesterday 4½ lb of tomatoes and 1½lb of onions were sliced and chopped and put in a bowl, then sprinkled with a little salt - about an ounce, covered with a tea towel and left overnight. ( The recipe is really 5lb and 1lb but altering the combination won't matter). This brings a lot of water out of the tomatoes.

Today I  put 2 pints vinegar into a large pan (I didn't have spiced pickling vinegar, which is what the recipe states or pickling spices to make some,  so used ordinary malt vinegar with a couple of teaspoons of mustard seeds and a dried chilli pepper) 1lb sugar, 1lb chopped cooking apples and 1lb of sultanas ( or half and half with raisins) were added and brought  to the boil stirring well to dissolve sugar. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Strain the tomato and onion mix and add to the pan.
Bring it back to boiling and then simmer it for about an hour until there is no loose liquid and it's nice and thick. You need to stir quite often to make sure it doesn't catch and burn on the bottom.
Pour into sterilised jars ( 15 minutes in a hot oven) and cover with clean lids. This made 10 jars of various sizes. It's best left for a few weeks to mature and it keeps for a couple of years. Col likes it with cheese and I also use it in curry.

I have a couple of things that help with jam and chutney making, neither are necessary but just make things easier. A big wooden spoon with a flat edge gets right along the bottom and into the edges of the pan and a wide mouthed funnel for getting the chutney into the jars without making a mess.

I will add this to my separate page of recipes.

We have a bit of warm sunshine here today - in between the cloud, something we've not  really seen for  a week. I'm going to enjoy it while it's here!

Back shortly

Wednesday 29 July 2015

Two good historical crime fiction books

Both of these books are part of a series so if you like the sound of them it's best to start at the beginning. Use Fantastic fiction website to see in what order to read them.
By coincidence they are both set in 1937.

 London Rain by Nicola Upson is the 6th in a series about the crime writer Josephine Tey.( A pseudonym used by Elizabeth Mackintosh who wrote mystery novels in the 1930s and 40s. Still very popular when I worked in the library in the 70s)  This book is set in 1937 and all the action takes place in London during the coronation of King George VI. Josephine's play is just about to be broadcast by BBC radio when a well known radio commentator is found murdered.There are some interesting details about the early years of the BBC.

A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear is the 11th in the Maisie Dobbs series. At the end of Book 10, Leaving Everything Most Loved, Maisie, an intuitive private investigator, was travelling to India to help her decide what to do next in her life. Now it's 1937 and 4 years later and we find through letters that she did marry  James and move to Canada, but James had  been killed in a tragic plane crash which had caused Maisie to lose her unborn baby. She is on her way back to England from India, where she had returned to, to recover from the double tragedy. She decides to stop in Gibraltar where she stumbles across a body which sets her off trying to track down the murderer. In 1937, Gibraltar is on the edge of the Spanish Civil War and Maisie crosses the border to help at a hospital.

I'm sure there will be more in both series.

Welcome to Jennifer who is a new follower and thanks to everyone for nice comments about the cards.

Back very soon


Monday 27 July 2015

Card making weather

WHEN we sell the house and  IF we go off in a caravan ( Almost the title of my favourite Famous Five book), I won't have a lot of space to take card crafting stuff so as it was pouring with rain again  (We've had more than a month's worth, it can stop now - Please!) I thought I would do a bit of card making.

This is what was created on a wet Sunday and a cross stitch card finished a week or two ago.

Thanks for all the comments about Estate Agents etc after my last post. I said I wouldn't go on about the house and selling - far too boring so I really will shut up about it now until we actually sell.

Back soon

Saturday 25 July 2015

Another viewing

We were just getting ourselves  lunch today when we noticed a car hovering on the road outside. There was nothing out for sale as it had been raining hard first thing so they were obviously looking at the house. A few minutes later the phone rang with the agents saying that someone wanted to come and view straightaway. We put them off for half an hour and I did a bit of tidying and we had a quick lunch. When they arrived they were a very posh couple older than us and it was obvious they had no idea that we had a smallholding with a campsite. NOT best pleased with the Estate agents!

What a good rain we had overnight. 2 inches in total, should have done the fruit trees a power of good.

Apologies for anyone who couldn't find this post anywhere, it got published by mistake, it wasn't due to be finished 'til next week. But as it escaped I thought I would publish it anyway!

Thanks for comments and welcome to Susan R, Jose and Mrs H who are new followers.

Back later than sooner or sooner than later.

Friday 24 July 2015

The week flies by

Where do the days go?

Monday was hot and humid. A man with a van came to mend 2 tires on Col's tractor. They were OK on Friday when he was using it but then Saturday morning flat as pancakes.
This is what I picked first thing to go out for sale:- 4 punnets of raspberries, 1 punnet of morello cooking cherries, 4 cucumbers, 2 bunches of beetroot, 4 bags of potatoes, 1 bag of green beans, 1 bunch of onions, 1 Marrow and a small bag of cherry tomatoes - the first toms to go out this year.
On Sunday I moved everything out of the big chest freezer so I could defrost it. We've still got a smaller freezer in the shed so everything was squashed in there with 2 big bricks on the top to keep it shut. Now it's all back in the largest and the small one will go to the scrap yard with the next load of scrap.It was when Col was hauling an old bale sledge out of the nettles to add to the scrap heap that he must have run over something that punctured the tractor tyres .
We've been doing lots more tidying ready to have a barn/yard sale here on 15th August, so as well as the scrap to go, the skip load of rubbish has been taken away.
University Challenge at 8 and Only Connect at 8.30 were the only things we watched on TV. Hardly able to answer any questions - as usual. 

Tuesday, still hot and dry.
 Col went off to get chicken feed and I made 3 loaves of bread and did some weeding. Then I took a bucket of soapy water out to the caravan to give the fridge and oven a good clean. We've checked everything (except the awning and the loo) to make sure it works and the only repair needed is to the worktop cover for the sink and drainer. We spent less than half of my surprise pension payout on this caravan and we are pretty chuffed, because others similar on Ebay are well over £5,000.

Wednesday. Hot and sunny again with a nice breeze. Black skies in the evening produced about 10 spots of rain - no good at all.
 Serves me right for being pleased about the caravan bargain because today the  car went to have an odd rattle checked out and it needs a part that's going to cost us nearly £300. It's something Col can't do himself and its going to take a few days to repair.
 I biked to Saxmundham for  shopping, it was lovely weather for cycling, but hot work walking up the hill out of Saxmundham with a two loaded baskets of shopping - one on the back and one on the front. I've mentioned before that our choice of shops locally is Tesco or Waitrose. - No choice really, and I just don't understand how anyone can afford Waitrose. Take yogurt for instance. Since Col had the bladder operation and the subsequent problems that meant two spells on antibiotics, I've been buying him yogurt to help re-balance everything. Tesco everyday value 45p for 500g versus Waitrose everyday essentials £1.20 for the same amount. Wonder which I buy?
Here is a conversation that happens in our house now and again. Me" I'm trying something for dinner that we've not had before". Him looking and sounding worried "Oh Dear" ! Today it was savoury pancakes stuffed with soft cheese and courgette and chard ( in place of spinach) topped with a home made tomato sauce (the last of my last batch of pizza topping) and cheese. It was OK but needed a bit more ooomph.
Vera on TV in the evening. A new series I think, although I read the book on which this story was based last year, so it seemed very familiar.

Thursday. Really cold overnight, I hope the tent campers on the campsite kept warm. We had some sunshine but quite a lot of cloud too.
 Today I mixed up a big batch of crumble topping to go in the freezer and made 6 boxes of pizza topping too.
This is very simple to make using about a pound of onions, finely chopped and softened in a little sunflower oil. Then half a tube of tomato puree squeezed in and stirred around. Next 2 tins of cheapest plum tomatoes without the juice - I save it to use for cheap tomato soup. Chop up the tomatoes, add pepper and cook everything for a few minutes to thicken.
Another home grown veggie meal for dinner using the first of the aubergines from the poly tunnel.
  Aubergine and pasta bake.

I've added the recipe to the separate recipe page. We only eat this once or twice a year when we have aubergines available as it is quite oily. I then made 6 sausage rolls (using 200g of sausage meat and ¼ of a pack of puff pastry) to shove in the oven at the same time ready for dinner tomorrow and Saturday lunch.
Col was doing some repairs to the lid of the nest box on the chicken shed we are selling and working at our neighbours.
Not a single thing on TV in the evening so it was back to Jo Wiley on radio 2.

I had an email with a voucher for half price delivery from Approved Foods. I've not ordered anything for a while so I had a look to see what they'd got in stock. They still have the lovely malted wheat flour in big 16kg sacks and have reduced the price even more but I do think some of their prices have gone up since they were featured on the TV programme. I dithered a bit and put things in the basket and took them out again.Had another look, checked prices on My supermarket site and eventually put in an order for some of the branded products we buy like Yorkshire Teabags, Heinz tomato ketchup and Blue Dragon stir fry sauce. We've tried cheap tea bags but with our hard water Yorkshire are the only ones that taste good and we use so little tomato sauce that we decided we might as well have something decent. The Blue Dragon sauces were 4 for a £1 - quite a saving. I also got some tortilla wraps, custard powder, Jacobs biscuits for cheese and de-indentified table salt at 5 x 1kg for £1. Think I might give three of these to the children. Cols treat was Liquorice Allsorts and my treat was De-identified Cappuccino dusting at 500g for 75p. That should last ages on my morning Frothy Coffee.

So here we are round to Friday. The first runner beans are out for sale today. I looked on My Supermarket again to check prices and the cheapest were £4.75Kg - Good Grief, and how weird is this -  you can actually buy them ready sliced. Surely they would dry up and look awful? I guess someone must buy them. We are forecast to get some rain today which would be useful, hope it doesn't miss us again. Col is doing more work on the trailer in the workshop and I don't know what I'm doing yet although I have picked redcurrants, raspberries, cucumbers, onions and beetroot to sell and washed the hall floor.
Our homemade and homegrown food eaten today will be raspberries, tayberries, salad leaves, beetroot, cucumber, tomatoes,potatoes, green beans,  the sausage rolls made yesterday, bread, jam for Col and a apple and blackberry crumble with fruit from the freezer. The bought food eaten today will be porridge, milk, coffee, tea, cheese, yogurt, butter, a couple of biscuits and peanut butter for me.

Before I forget, welcome to more followers - Simple Living and Chris - hope you enjoy my diary.

Back sometime soon

Sunday 19 July 2015

We have somewhere to live whatever happens

Welcome to Sue, Ariel and Frugal Cookie who are new followers.

When or IF we find someone to buy this smallholding ( still only 3 viewings in the first month) we can avoid an onward chain as we've been and bought a caravan. We risked E-bay to get an older one secondhand  at a good price and it's come with loads of extras which you don't get if buy from a caravan dealer. Yesterday we traveled up to Bourne in Lincolnshire  - a lovely cross country journey over the Fens - to collect it, and it towed home well.
Col parked it on our campsite to try the electrics and they all work OK, just need to try out the awning, the gas and heating, give the fridge and oven a good clean and repair a couple of small things that are damaged inside but for a 'van 17 years old it's in remarkably good condition. It even came with a winter cover and a breathable groundsheet for the awning, neither of which we have ever had with any of the caravans we've owned before.
It also means we might even get a holiday in the autumn which would be a treat. We had a week in a cottage in March which was our first holiday for 3 years but at over £300 for the week  (and cottages are even more expensive to rent in summer, it isn't a cheap way for a break.). A week on a small campsite can be under £100 including electric.
And the chance of a Gap Year to visit the places we've never been could be a reality! By the way I've added another couple of things to My List of places to visit. As well as Hay-on-Wye which I remembered  before, there is Flag Fen in Cambridgeshire where they discovered a Bronze Age causeway. We saw the sign when we were that way yesterday and we've not been there and we also want to go to the town in Yorkshire ( I think) where they have the Brass band competition where bands move round the town playing in different places. I'm not sure where it is but someone will tell me I'm sure.

Right, I'm now going to watch the 4th and hopefully last set in the Davis Cup tennis and finish my cross stitch picture that will go in another 'fridge magnet.

Almost forgot to say many thanks for the lovely comments about handmade crafts on the last post.

Back in a few days

Thursday 16 July 2015

Handmade treasures

Many moons ago,over at Happening upon Happiness blog were some pictures of lovely homemade things that she has in her house ( sorry to say She but I can't find a name) and a suggestion that we share our favourite handcrafted items from our homes. I began a post and filed it away in drafts and forgot it was there, now I've remembered so here goes with a few pictures from our  home.......

First on the right is a lovely painting our eldest did for Art A level. It's quite big and very beautiful. The pots were from home so it captures a moment from many years ago. She went on to do weird pictures of broken dolls for her final year, we didn't keep any of those! After A levels she did an Art Foundation course at Lowestoft college went on to Winchester School of Art and Design, specialised in textile design and is now a print designer for Phase Eight and because almost everything is now done by computer, I don't think she has done any painting for years which is a shame.

 Then some cross stitch pictures and long stitch tapestries- all my own work - several years ago.

And the only thing I can knit - so far- dishcloths

Not many home made things really as most of my time over the years has gone into edible home made things and they don't hang around for long :-)

Welcome to Delia, a new follower, hope you enjoy reading

Back in a couple of days

Tuesday 14 July 2015

Hay and other stuff including the C word.... in July! (Sorry)

Col spent several hours over the weekend shifting hay bales from the field up the road. I'm glad to say this didn't involve too much physical work as he was using the front forks on the tractor to lift big round bales onto the trailer and delivering them to a stables 4 miles away, where he just rolled them off. The girl who is having all this hay is going to set up a standing order to pay us each month as she can't afford it all at once. I would really have preferred to have sold it to someone who could pay straight away, so I hope this works out OK. She has also bought some small bales from another farmer and Col will be helping her move those too.We have already been paid for all of our small bales from here, so that cheque has gone into the bank.

After delivering the small bales it was obvious that the wooden part of the sides of the old horse box trailer were falling to bits. Now this is the trailer we want to use to take the garden bits and Col's workshop stuff to wherever, whenever, we move. So mending the trailer is  his job for this week.
It's already had new tires and a new floor so should be good as new(ish) once he's finished.

The other thing he did at the weekend was to help out someone who's writing articles for Smallholder Magazine. This bloke knows us through Suffolk Smallholders Society and needed someone with an old tiller rotovator so he could take some photos of the parts and how they go together. Col also borrowed our neighbours Mantis tiller and that's also been photographed to appear too. As a thank you for his help he was given a bottle of red wine which has gone into the wine cellar ( just a wine crate in the cupboard in the utility room!) I don't drink any alcohol at all and Col only likes an occasional beer and wine at Christmas so most of the bottles we are given end up being passed onto someone else and this one will have a muslin bag of mulled wine spices tied to it and will go into one of the Christmas Hampers I'm putting together. Raspberry Vinegar is another thing I'm making and that  got started on Monday. I've already made the lavender sachets,  whiskey marmalade and two lots of jam. Next will be chutneys and mustard. Then chocolate truffles nearer to Christmas. I've been looking for something to put all the things in but baskets - even second-hand - are silly prices.

Discovered this recipe - on a scrappy bit of paper torn from somewhere - when I was sorting out my recipe folder. It didn't have a name, and I've altered it a bit anyway, so it's been christened.................

Chicken wings in a tasty sauce  
This was the amount I used for 4 chicken wings, served up with noodles and stir fry veg (carrots,onion,courgette and pepper - all home grown of course) it's was enough for us.

Make a few slits  in the fleshy part of the chicken wings
In a bowl mix together 4 tbsp tomato ketchup, 3tbsp clear honey, 2tbsp soy sauce, 1tbsp sweet chilli sauce and 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar. Add the wings to the bowl and mix them round , then pop in fridge for at least an hour, give them another mix round if you remember.
Turn the mix into a roasting tin and cook at 170C Fan oven or Gas 5 for 45 minutes, basting once or twice.
Lift out the wings, add just a little boiling water to the remaining sauce, just to thin and loosen all the sticky bits, stir well and mix with the stir fried veg and noodles.

I've added this recipe to the Recipes From My Suffolk Kitchen page.

Today was weeding day. The long front flower bed was a right ol' mess because lots of  the self seeded annuals had died off. Now it's tidy but with several empty spaces. Do I spend to fill it up when we might not be here to see it? The strawberry bed was another place that got sorted, lots of plants have died  due to the dry weather, we have to do so much watering in the poly tunnels that stuff outside often gets left to fend for itself.
I've potted up 5 of  the Walnut seedlings that popped up this year. I've found 7 so far but one is in the middle of the raspberries so I can't get at it and the other is a bit to close to a buried water pipe.
2 seedlings I found several years ago are now trees 6 foot tall on the edge of the campsite.Now what do I do with these babies? I may have to give them to someone to babysit them until we find a new  home.

( Thanks to Dawn at Doing It For Ourselves for reminding me to dig up the walnut seedlings after reading her post yesterday)

Oh good, new followers to welcome. Hello to Lisanrichard in the Google pictures and Sandy Rebecca, Rita, Jo, Jane,Lizzie and Lee  and maybe some others on Bloglovin'.

Back Soon

Saturday 11 July 2015

July's Library Book Picture

What a treat, so many lovely books brought home from the library van. Most of these were ordered on line and several are brand new. What on earth are we going to do if we move somewhere where they charge to order books?
Not sure how half of Col's head sneaked in the picture :-)
Fashion On The Ration is a new book which I came across on Amazon and that reminded me of Stitching For Victory which I had borrowed and read several years ago, and decided to reorder and re-read. There are 5 new crime novels by authors I enjoy. Love and War in the Wrens was on the library shelves and looks good. Erica James writes light fiction and I'm having another go at a Stella Gibbons after my failure last month. No Time for Romance is a biography about her nursing experiences during WWII by Lucilla Andrews who wrote dozens of romantic fiction books.
A Homespun Year sounded interesting although after flicking through it I can see it's not got a lot in it.
The only decision to make is which one to read first.

Back Soon

Friday 10 July 2015

The Books I Didn't Read

This was last months library haul

several will go back  unread,  for various reasons.

Peter May - Runaway, the plot line seemed very familiar, either a crime story seen on TV or read before so I didn't bother to finish it.
Barbara Kingsolver - Pigs in heaven. The second part of a story that began in The Bean Trees, which I enjoyed. I started this but didn't enjoy it so didn't finish it.
Marghanita Laski - The Village. I really tried hard with this book,written in 1952 it's about how the upper, middle and working classes in a village react to life after the war. I could have finished it but it became so predictable I gave up and just read the end!
Stella Gibbons - Westwood. I wanted to enjoy this too, a book set during the war about a plain girl whose mother has told her that she will never attract a man to marry. She doesn't. I tried it, skimmed through and gave up.
Emily Brightwell - The Inspector and Mrs Jeffries. The first of a crime series about a housekeeper who solves the mysteries and murders that baffle her Police Inspector employer. I knew they were light fiction but I thought it a bit rubbishy and silly.
Ian Sansom - The Case of the Missing Books, a Mobile Library Mystery. Given the subject I was hopeful that it would be readable but it was another load of rubbish!
Jayne Thynne - Black Roses. Picked off the shelves just to see what it was but not a subject I was interested in reading.
James Oswald - Prayers for The Dead. I enjoyed the first few books he wrote but didn't finish the last one and couldn't remember why. Started this and found out why, it was because the recent books have gone all supernatural. I'm afraid I prefer fictional crime without the weird.

I seem to have been a bit fussy this month!

The books I did read were by Katie Fforde, Kate Ellis, Angela Thirkell, Donna Fletcher Crow, Anne Perry, John Bude and Neil Sentance.  'Swallow This' by Joanna Blythman is about the secrets of the food industry - I'm still reading it and it's putting me right off processed food. Thankfully we don't eat much anyway. I started to read 'An Invisible Friendship'  which is letters between Joyce Grenfell and Katharine Moore and enjoyed it so much I decided to buy a 1p copy from Amazon to keep to read another time.
 The books that I did read have been added to my Books Read page at the top of the blog.

Back Soon with July's Library book photo.

Wednesday 8 July 2015

Fruitful pictures

Just a 'few' pictures of how the garden is growing this year.
Best ever Tayberry crop

 Tomatoes looking tidier in the biggest poly tunnel

 Runner bean plants coming along slowly, only just starting to flower, the beans are going to be very late this year.

 All sorts of brassicas under the enviromesh. The B****** butterflies still get in sometimes. Autumn raspberry bed on the right.
 Courgettes bed with courgettes that turn into marrows overnight

Raspberries in the fruit cage just starting to turn red, a whole month later than last year.

Very, very late redcurrants
2 beds of beetroot, just big enough to start eating and selling.

These will be cooking apples when they grow a bit bigger
These will be plums when they get a bit purpler!
 First time I've grown Tomatillos,( sometimes known as Mexican Husk or Mexican Green Tomatoes) lots of 'paper' cases, no fruit inside yet.
 The pepper plants in the poly-tunnel are very short, although there are 3 good peppers on this one. Need to get in here and do some weeding I think.
Really good cucumbers this year, so many I'm selling them at 25p each, which is better than NOT selling them at 50p each. Tesco selling at 49p all year has ruined my cucumber business!
Aubergine flowers are so pretty, I hope they set 
 Sad parsnips but the leeks look OK. The Alstromeria flowers should have been out for sale during the 10 days the road was closed.
Joy Oh Joy a wonderful crop of figs- All mine! as Col doesn't like them.
The pears look awful, the whole tree is like this, and the other two trees have no fruit on at all.

Chard is much more reliable than spinach as it doesn't run to seed so quickly in hot weather
Leaving the best to last - Loads of Apricots - yummy yum yum.

This is what I will miss when we move, not the house or the smallholding or the campsite or the area but the fruit trees.

Many thanks for the 13 comments after the last post, just a couple of points. Dawn said well done on selling surplus, but it isn't really surplus as we actually grow to sell, just not as much as previously because of the health things and having the house for sale. Rachel said we could offer cheaper campsite pitches but that would only work if we actually had people ringing up to book a pitch in the first place! Can't drag them in off the streets to camp - they have to be members of the Camping and Caravanning club and WANT to come here.

The Estate Agents are going to advertise our property in the September issue of Country Smallholding Magazine (which comes out at the end of this month) so that might give it a wider audience.

Back sooner than later

Monday 6 July 2015

Sun, a storm, more sun and a good rain.

Five Days of Diary Entries.

It's been a lovely start to the month weather wise. Although the lack of rain for watering is starting to cause worries as we have nearly got through the 9,000 litres we had stored from the roofs of the 2 farm buildings.
Some of my time has been spent here
underneath the walnut tree, always the coolest part of the garden when the weather is really hot. A few walnuts growing but no doubt the squirrels will pinch them as usual.

Wednesday 1st
Very hot but with a bit of a breeze.I picked more gooseberries on and off all day and put them out for sale. With 4 bags of freshly dug potatoes, 2 cucumbers, 2 bunches of flowers, a bag of courgettes and a bag of green beans our gate income was £45.50. - Handy. Herb omlettes for dinner, with a home made bread roll and salad of lettuce and cucumber. Col turned the hay on both fields. Kate-who-had-my-goats came to collect the feed bin and hurdles she has bought from us - another handy £90 in the kitty. I forgot to say that last weekend a friend from Suffolk Smallholder Society came to look at our 2 movable chicken sheds and will buy both which will be a bonus of £400 sometime in the next couple of months, when they are ready to have them delivered.

Thursday 2nd
It was hotter here today than yesterday through the morning, but cloudier later. Col had been checking the forecast and decided to small bale our field late morning. We had one helper to load trailers and sold 28 bales straight away. The rest has gone into the horsebox trailer, the big car trailer  ( parked in the workshop) and the old caravan chassis trailer (  parked in the hay shed). We were done by 1am with 150ish bales out of the weather just in time because there was a short downpour at 1.30 which would have put off baling. We had our first cauliflower as cauliflower cheese for dinner and planned to do a few thin sliced chips with it but the deep fat fryer decided to give up the ghost. Another thing that I won't replace. I managed to watch some tennis but had to pick more gooseberries so missed most of the Nadal/Brown match which apparently was very entertaining. Gate income today £25. Plus £56 for the hay.

Friday 3rd
 Picking gooseberries several times again. I've not kept a count of how many punnets have been put out for sale this year - just couldn't be bothered. Also out for sale today-- a cucumber glut (found 10 lurking under the leaves so sold them for 25p each and they all went), a giant marrow that must have grown overnight as I'm sure it wasn't there yesterday and potatoes. Gate income today = £37.  I popped to Tesco first thing for the main July shop. There were some things on my list that would have been cheaper at Aldi, until you factor in the cost of a 50 mile round trip. We only shop at Aldi when we have several places to go in Ipswich and there is nothing we need from there at the moment. Col did odd jobs here. He  sent for a handle bar extension for his bike so that he can sit a bit more upright and got that fixed, he now needs to build up some strength so that we can cycle together. I find biking easy but he has always found it hard work, especially  before he knew he had angina and  had the stents put in 2 years ago.
My copy of Home Farmer magazine arrived. If bought from a shop it's £3.95 but you can buy online for £3.45 inc. postage. I subscribed for a while but couldn't really afford to keep it going for the amount of information I was getting from it, so now I look online to see what's in it and buy an occasional copy. This month there was a recipe for courgette and cheese patties ( although they called them rissoles) which I thought was worth a try. We ate them with our first broad beans and first small calabrese.
 They were  a mix of  softened finely chopped onion, grated cheddar, grated courgette, dry crumbled bread and a little ground mixed nuts, seasonings and an egg. The mix was very wet so I rolled them in some dry breadcrumbs before shallow frying and it was only as they were cooking I thought that I could have added a few porridge oats. The verdict - not a lot of flavour but very crispy! ( a bit overdone!) The nuts added nothing to the mix so I would use a little extra cheese and bread next time.
That was our third home grown veggie meal in 3 days.
Also in the August  Home Farmer an article about keeping chickens on a budget ( i.e not spending a small fortune on a dinky little chicken house) and building a dehydrator, from an old fridge for drying food which sounds better  than splashing out over £200! I'm a real skinflint when it comes to  gadgets. To me they are just one more THING that needs cupboard space, cleaning and replacing when they break. My idea of self-sufficiency is to do without things and eat with the seasons as much as possible but I know others swear by them so I'll shut-up!( Especially because of my Sunday confession!)
Several new arrivals on the campsite today - we have a busy weekend but then just 2 pitches in use all next week and NOTHING in the bookings diary for a whole week later in the month, which is worrying.

Saturday 4th
Fantastic storms overnight with sheet lightning illuminating  everywhere.We had what sounded like a lot of rain but turned out to be  just ¼ inch or 5 mm. At least it will have put a little bit more into the storage tanks.
The hay bales which were on the old caravan chassis trailer had to be taken off into the hay shed today when Col had a phone call from a friend who had a friend wanting to buy the trailer to use it for carrying a man powered hovercraft! Something I had never heard of. Pedal-powered apparently!
He paid £50 for it.
 After picking enough gooseberries to put out 10 punnets this morning and digging enough potatoes for 3 bags full, I decided to have a day off from harvesting and selling as  there was a tennis-fest on TV. Then the temperature crept up and it was soon too hot to stay inside  as we had our hottest day of the year and even the breeze was hot. The sun had moved round by the time Andy M was playing so I came back in to watch him win.
 We are now digging the Charlotte potatoes, just so delicious in a potato salad, which is what we had for dinner with some ham and salad. I usually use chives and parsley in potato salad but the dry weather has almost killed off the chives despite watering whenever I remember. The parsley is just inside the poly tunnel so gets watered early every morning when I do the 50+ tomato plants.

Sunday 5th
The weather was sunny first thing but thankfully not so hot as yesterday.
CONFESSION - I am a car boot shopaholic! Despite the house being for sale I'm still going to boot sales and spending ................................................£2.50!
I was really pleased to find this Framecraft ceramic bowl with lid for putting some cross stitch in.      (the picture you see is just an illustration not stitching)
The very old label on the box says £18.99 and I paid £1.50. There's no cross stitch fabric or threads with it which doesn't matter as the chart was for 18 count which is too small for my eyes, so I'll find a picture of something that will fit on 14 count Aida.It looks as if Framecraft don't even sell these any more. The large book -  A Slice of Organic life was just 50p and I think there is a profit to be made there when we have our yard/barn sale to smallholders. The Robert Barnard book, also 50p, is one I've not come across and is small enough to fit in a bag of books to take if we do go off in a caravan. I shall now go and put some more books from my shelves into the car boot/yard sale boxes to make up for this frantic buying madness!
The clouds came over during the morning making it cool enough to work in the big poly-tunnel and lots of the bottom leaves on the tomato plants have been taken off, de-shooting done and weeding plus tying up finished. By 10.30 we had good steady rain which carried on right through the early afternoon.
We cut each others hair and then settled down to watch the British Grand Prix,it got so gloomy that I needed a light on to cross stitch.
Later the sun came out again, a beautiful summer evening. Time for more Gooseberry picking.

Back in a day or two

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Review of the month, looking back at June

Look at this - 2 Posts in 2 days, and I'm still gooseberry picking!

Half the year has gone, so time for a  look back at what happened in June

  • We got the house on the market, the brochure looks good, 2 viewings so far.
  • Col did a few hours work for his Leiston customer
  • We had lots of visitors to the campsite so income was over £1,000 and we are just a little up on the same time last year.
  • 4 Good  tyres for the small horse-box trailer for £50
  • Managed to get Mabel ( the shy cat) to the vet for her jab.
  • My unexpected pension pot pay out - Thank you Suffolk County Council!
  • Lots of good reading from the library
  • Col fixed squeak on car - new brake pad - £21
  • I made all our own bread all month
  • We had potatoes, salad leaves, radish, lettuce, cucumber, green beans, carrots, onions, calabrese, cauliflower, beetroot, courgettes, strawberries,tayberries and gooseberries from the garden and poly-tunnels
  • Saved £13 on £40 Tesco food shop ( £6 off £40 voucher and £7 loyalty vouchers)
  • Saved £10 on £30 Co-op food shop ( £6 Divi and £4 off £20 shop voucher)
  • Due to the above food spending was down below budget.
  • Made 8 jars of gooseberry and strawberry jam
  • And 10 jars of gooseberry jam.
  • Visited friends in Essex for the day
  • Tennis from Queens Club on TV to watch every afternoon for a week and the start of Wimbledon fortnight.
  • Lots of clearing and tidying done and a load of scrap to scrap yard = £240.
  • Started cross stitching again, the picture for a fridge magnet and lavender sachets for small gifts 
The blank fridge magnet was one of 3 I bought from a boot sale on May 4th. I got the 3 for 50p, made up with the stitching it makes a little gift small enough to fit in an envelope

  • Looked round 2  car boot sales spent 50p on 3 tumblers, 50p cross stitch kit, 50p string holder, 2 books 50p each, £1.50 beginners tea-cosy knitting kit
  • The story behind me buying this kit is that a few weeks ago the man at the car boot had several of these in a box and wanted £4 for them, I offered £2 but he said no, so I said you'll be left with them at the end of the day, to which he just shrugged his shoulders. So there he was at the boot-sale on Sunday selling them for £1.50 each! They have 2 balls of chunky wool, knitting needles and easy - I hope- row by row instructions and a thing for making pom-poms. This is my next knitting venture after dishcloths.
    On the negative side of the equation

     A water main along our road burst and we were without water for 4 hours and then the road was closed for 10  days, so 10 days unable to sell anything
    There are too many gaps in the campsite bookings diary for July
    Large electric bill due to busier campsite

    I wonder what July will bring . Will we get the hay in or will it be ruined by storms now forecast for tomorrow - Drat!
    Will we get more viewings or any offers. Time will tell.

    Many thanks to Pat, Kev, Amy, Kate and Making,mending,crafting for comments yeserday.

    Back in a few days


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