Monday, 31 August 2015

Goodbye Summer - why did you leave so soon?

The last few days of the month have been very Autumnal and most evenings we've needed the light on by 7.30pm, there's been quite a lot of rain too and when it wasn't raining it was grey. I've even abandoned shorts for leggings on a couple of days and we've lit the Rayburn for hot water again.

Seems like almost everyone in Blogland has had a holiday, you lucky people. I - as usual- have been cleaning loos for the people on holiday on the campsite. By this time every season I'm quite looking forward to less visitors, especially if we've had some here with yappy dogs and shouty children.......  good grief what a miserable old fogey I am!

 We have the Lightweight Camping Club - no children! - coming in a few days time, some will stay for just a couple of nights and others may stay longer. Then just a few caravans on and off all month. If the weather improves we might be busier.

Two wet bank holiday mornings = No Car Boot sales. So we had a short trip out to a local antique centre on Sunday for a look round, we're (well just me really) are still looking for a replacement for our modern-bought-in-a-rush sideboard that I don't like but there was nothing at the centre that was any good.

We picked all the greengages - just 3lb - and they made yet more jam. That really is the end of jam making this year. I may still make some more chutney and I'm going to have a go at Honey Mustard for the hampers as soon as I get to The Grape Tree for mustard seed.

Probably Back Soon

Friday, 28 August 2015

Diary Notes From A Slightly Soggy Week

It's been a dismal grey week, until today. Most of the week autumn was lurking just round the corner. We had un-seasonal high winds and quite a lot of rain. The solar thermal panels are not much use without sun so we lit the Rayburn a couple of times for hot water.

On Monday I had a light bulb moment. We have cylinders full of gas for the hob already paid for so if we go back to using a kettle on the gas hob instead of the electric kettle we could save some money, it's not as quick as electric but that doesn't matter. Of course once we are lighting the Rayburn everyday we will use that for the kettle. We have a big Aga kettle that we use on the Rayburn  but decided it would be a good idea to buy a little kettle just for 2 cups. The only tiny kettle in Saxmundham was £6.99 and very lightweight, I was a bit dubious and was proved right - it BURNS the water - honestly - it tastes awful unless used on the smallest gas ring and heated up slowly which was not the point.

 During the week Col has delivered more things that we sold at the yard sale and a couple of bits of machinery that have now been paid for so a little more money for winter.

Today we got the old raspberry canes in the fruit cage cut out and the new canes fixed between the wires, it looks lovely and tidy.
 What else has happened this week?
The ride on mower stopped while Col was cutting the campsite and I had to tow him back round to the workshop. He rang a man to ask about fuses and got instructions to find a hidden one that was soon replaced.

Something ( no idea what and how) hit the bathroom window, smashing a small hole right through. It's double glazed, plastic framed so will need the whole thing replaced - Damn.

I'm waiting for the third thing.

 August Bank Holiday weekend always used to be our busiest weekend on the campsite, but in the last few years, although we've been full with 5 caravans, we haven't had tent campers turning up on the off chance. One year we opened up part of the hay field to give people more room. Now almost everyone books in advance. This year, probably because the holiday is right at the end of the month, we are not even full with caravans.

Not a very exciting week really.

Back Soon

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Going back to childhood

I missed out on lots of children's books when I was young, I had a comic every week but we didn't go to the library and books only came into the house at Christmas, birthdays and Sunday school anniversary. The schools mobile library came to our primary school so we had plenty to read in school but we didn't take them home.
Luckily I got a job in a library when I was 16 and haven't stopped reading since.

When our children were young the library was one of the cheapest places to go in the school holidays and  there were plenty of jumble sales so always loads of books around. Our favourites for reading aloud were things that rhymed - like Hairy Maclary plus Topsy and Tim books, Jill Murphy and then Shirley Hughes was producing her lovely books but we still didn't get around to Beatrix Potter, Little Grey Rabbit and The Brambley Hedge Books

I'm putting it right now and have collected all Beatrix Potter from car boot sales over the last few years. I read all the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House books a few years ago and today spotted this in the charity shop for £1.50.
 Like Beatrix Potter it's the paintings that really make the detailed.

I've just finished one of Alison Uttley's biographies about her childhood - Ambush of Young days, I have another on order for next library visit and one of her children's books - Hare Joins the Home Guard  sounds intriguing so I've added it to my wish list.

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Here's a thought........ Have you seen all the on-line Bingo ads on TV? They all claim to have "More Players than any other Bingo site", Tell me if I'm wrong but surely you would have more chance of winning if there were less players??

Back Soon

Monday, 24 August 2015

An Acorn conversation and plum jam

Apart from delivering the other chicken shed, we had a quietish weekend and I spent quite a lot of time enjoying the sunshine that covered our part of the world. The campsite was busy including 7 small children, which was why it was quietish rather than quiet! I sometimes quite fancy the idea of being an Adult Only campsite.

Conversation with two small girls as I went to clean the toilet/shower block..... they are in the washroom...  Me  "what are you two up to?"...... Them "we're washing acorns, 'cos they're all sticky -yuck".... Me " what are you going to do with them when you've washed them?"..... Them " put them down here to dry " - laying them on the mat on the floor...... Me "what are you going to do with them when they're dry?".... Them " put them in our nest!"..... Whereupon they gather up acorns and tell me they are going to get some more to wash. Me" if you want to wash more acorns you can do it in your caravans because I'm now going to do all the cleaning" Them " but this is the washing place!"
No answer to that is there!

Our son came over on Saturday afternoon to get his dad's help with car things and then took Col down the pub to watch the England/France Rugby friendly. I stayed at home and half listened on the radio - a very poor game apart from the last 10 minutes. Col said they were in one room of the pub while an aging             (60+, long hair, big bellies) rock band were warming up in another - glad I stayed at home!

As I thought, the plums are being attacked by wasps and plum moth maggot. Last year I froze a lot  but they didn't seem very nice once defrosted - (They went in pink and sweet and came out brown and sharp) so we are eating them as quick as we can and I made yet more jam, just half a dozen jars. One thing no one could complain about here is lack of choice in the jam cupboard.

Thanks for comments on Saturday. No one need commiserate with me about moving and missing this place as personally I can't wait to be off!

Back soon

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Hurrying through August

On Monday we delivered the chicken shed to smallholder W in Mid Suffolk. If you can imagine driving through half of Suffolk towing a big trailer with this loaded on top you can see why we got a few odd looks.

Col had taken the nest boxes off the side but even so the shed over hung the trailer by a foot on the near-side so we had to slow down and move to the middle of the road when the road was narrow to avoid getting stuck in the hedge or running into a signpost. The shed is on metal skids so unloaded easily. We still have the other small shed to take to them another day. It's quite odd to know that we will never again keep chickens by the 100s.
We called in at two other places - as you do- one to a company that supply packaging materials to try and find some lids to fit some jam jars that seem to be an odd size and secondly to buy some cheap meat from a butchery place. 2 Huge fresh chickens for £5 each - bargain.

 Tuesday was an incredibly wet day, it's rare that we get continuous rain for so many hours. When I commiserated with one of the people on the campsite she said "it's OK we're from Oldham, we're used to it!"
There were things I could have done but after some clearing in the poly-tunnel I sort of went into a  dull grey mood and did nothing much for the rest of the day.

Then on Wednesday we had brilliant sunshine and blue skies. In the afternoon Col took our elderly friend up to Norwich Hospital again and I sat out and enjoyed the sun. Everyone on the campsite was out and for the first time in weeks no farm machinery chugging round the fields so it was quiet and  peaceful.

Thursday started wet again but I was bread baking so it didn't matter. Col has been delivering various things that people bought at the yard sale on Saturday. A man came back for a second look at the old cement mixer and bought it and a couple of tyres for £40 and another bloke who came to pick up some posts bought on Saturday also bought some other wood for another £15. I've worked out  that the yard sale and the 2 car boots and selling the chicken sheds will keep us for 2 months in winter.

Our electric went off early Thursday evening, we could see that the isolator levers on the electric pole over the road were all unconnected so we knew it wasn't just us. I rang the number for UK Power Networks in the Phone book and a very helpful man looked through all the info on his screen and told me we and 28 other homes around had been switched off for some urgent work somewhere over the fields behind us. He then rang back later to say we should be on by 8.30pm and rang back again at 9pm to check we were back on.   (It was). What good service and what a shame it's so unusual that it needs commenting on.

Col went out to work for his Leiston customer on Friday morning and took a load of junk to the dump. I was supposed to be cutting grass but because we had a heavy dew overnight everywhere was too wet. It turned really hot and humid as the morning went on and then it was too hot for pushing a mower....... tomorrow maybe. Col did the easy ride-on-mower bits in the afternoon and loaded the small chicken shed onto the trailer ready for delivering.
A few weeks ago I sent an email to the man who does features on houses for sale in the East Anglian Daily Times Property section. The houses he writes about are usually huge/expensive/unusual or very special but going on the theory that there is no harm in asking, I invited him to see our self-sufficient Suffolk property with 5 acres for under £500,000 that we can't sell. Much to my surprise he phoned and is coming out in early September - all publicity is good publicity!

I watched the programme on i-player presented by Anne Robinson- Britain's Spending Secrets , Col didn't want to see it on the night it was on - not his thing - he would have muttered all the way through!
There certainly are some people with plenty of money but how is it that in some places people easily find in-date food  in skips round the back of shops? Round here the bins are all in locked  gated areas. 
I was interested to hear Anne R saying how people are so reluctant to talk about what they earn yet scathing about how others spend their money. Having just detailed our whole budget for all of Blogland to see I know see what she means - for as far as I know no one else has ever done the same - or if they have I've not read any. Talking about money and earnings has never bothered me. That's what we earn, that's what we spend -So What?
 Which reminds me that I never got round to replying to comments after that post . Thanks to everyone who reminded me that we are very lucky to have savings and that's what they were saved for- true. Also sympathy to all other people like me who have had their pension age pushed back and to everyone younger for whom it's even worse. I'm glad to hear other smallholders have plans for what they will do in the future.We thought we had too, until unexpected health problems. The suggestion for selling the land and/or campsite separately isn't feasible here because of the way things (water, electric,drainage and driveway) are laid out and because we are in the middle of arable giant-field country where our little bit is worth nothing much on its own. I'm not worried about what will happen in the future as we've always found that  something turns up as long as we've done what we think is right.
On the post before that Sol asked if I could list the books that I'm taking to a car boot but there are rather too many to list or photograph.

Hope everyone has a good weekend
Back soon

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

We are going to be living on less.

Whether we sell the house soon or not so soon, we are going to have to find a way to live on less from October. There are several reasons - firstly because Col had to stop doing any heavy work for a couple of months our farmer friend had to find someone else to do the irrigation work. So no income from that this summer. For the same reason we didn't cut the third hay field and we've got 36 chickens instead of 130 and we didn't grow as much to sell. It's obvious there will be very little money going into savings for winter. The other reason is that we invested in Bonds at a good monthly interest rate with the inheritance when my Dad died and now those bonds are finishing, and interest rates are rock bottom.

 The plan was to sell this house, use the bond money to buy a small, cheap house that we would live in and prepare for renting out and meanwhile look for a small cottage somewhere cheaper. We would then have an income from the rental as well as the extra cash left over from the sale of this place to live on to see us through until Col gets his work pension and we both get our state pensions. It's looking very unlikely that we will sell the house before October so we will not be able to begin the plan.

Things are not as bad as they sound because I got the unexpected pension pot payout and clearing up here has given us extra money from selling scrap and the chicken sheds and we've done two car boot sales, plus the yard sale of course. However  living off savings instead of saving is going to need a whole different mindset.

I've been looking at how we have cut our budget to make the savings stretch and what else we can do in future.

This is the post about our budget I did in January this year before Cols new health problems and
before we knew we would definitely be putting the house up for sale.

 New updates and ideas in Blue What I wrote before is in black italics with old totals in red.

How we organise our budget 
 1. Council Tax. Because  we have lived here for 23 years our Council Tax is based on the tax bands when they were first set in  1991. I believe tax bands are re-calculated when houses are sold. We are also in a very rural area, so our Council Tax is a lot less than that paid in towns. We pay by direct debit over 10 months.  I'm not expecting the cost to go up very much as County, District and Parish councils have pledged to keep costs down.

2. Water Bill. We have a meter for the Campsite and farm buildings. The house is not metered. We have no mains sewer here, so septic tank drainage. The water bill for the house is direct debit over 10 months and is also based on the 1991 Council tax band. We pay the metered bill twice a year, this varies - the more campers we get the higher the bill. But the more campers the bigger the income anyway.The usage for farm/garden is low as we have huge rainfall collection tanks ( 8000 litres total!) on the farm buildings  and move the water around to water tanks in the garden.

3. Electric Bill. This varies a lot, again depending on how many campers come to the site. We pay quarterly for both.

4. TV Licence. I budget £15 a month, for 12 months. This allows for price increase and a bit left each year to add to anything with a shortage.
Total needed for those 4 things is approx £290 per month ( less for 2 months with no council tax)
 No change for these for the rest of the year.

The Campsite and smallholding businesses

1. Public Liability and Business insurance. We have to send a copy of this to The Camping and Caravanning Club. Without it we would be unable to run the site. We also need it because of selling eggs etc.  This seems to go up by a few pounds every year. Direct Debit £53 a month for 12 months at the moment. We paid this up front all at once in April which saved us about £25
2. Campsite electric inspection and test. Every year we have to have an electric test on the hook-ups and a certificate to say it's been done. A copy of this goes to the Camping and Caravanning Club. Without this we wouldn't be able to operate the campsite. It's around £75 each year. Nothing needed repair so it was just £60 this year.
3. Chicken feed. Range Layers pellets direct from the Mill. They changed from 25kg to 20 kg bags last year and  now  we collect 20 bags at a time. With the number of hens  we have at present this lasts a couple of months. When we drop down to 2 dozen hens for a while  one load will last us longer.We also need to buy grit and oyster shell. Even though they are free range they need these as our soil is heavy clay. We kept 36 old chickens, we  collect 10 bags of feed at a time which lasts us over 2 months.
4. Buying new point-of -lay  hens. To keep a steady egg supply for our customers, we replace the very old hens with new young hens each year. About 60 each year at £6.50 each. We plan to restock in summer so need to save for then. We are not going to restock with a large amount again. We plan to hang onto what we have, maybe replacing them with just half a dozen young hens if the house doesn't sell before winter.
5.Egg Boxes, Egg wash and cleaning cloths. We use plain grey boxes as they are the cheapest  and we buy them in big packs of 300 collecting 1500 once a year direct from a farm supplier. I use a sanitizing egg wash for cleaning muddy eggs and a clean cloth ( J cloth type) every day which then goes in the wash. We have enough to see us through.
6. Diesel for the tractor. We are allowed to use Red diesel for the tractor BUT nowhere locally sells it. We could have 1000 Litres delivered! except a tank costs a fortune and that amount would last us for ever. So we get a can full whenever possible from Morrisons in Ipswich as they are the only garage that we know of that sells it.
7.Petrol for the mower and chainsaw. Neither uses a huge amount. We need both, one for cutting the campsite and the other for cutting our free heating wood.
8.Campsite requisites. That's Loo rolls, paper towels, cleaning stuff. I usually buy these out of the housekeeping except for the paper towels which I stock up on when Viking mail order office supplies have a sale.
9. Multi purpose and seed compost plus seeds and plants for vegetables. I always check through several seed companies catalogues comparing prices. I have spent a lot less this year, cutting down in several places - £63 so far and seed potatoes still to buy. We sell probably 70 - 80% of what we grow so easily get our money back and earn a good income from June through to October. We are not sure what we will manage this year, it depends on how much Col can do.  
We cut down on some things because Col wasn't able to get all the beds ready at the right time. There are quite a lot of seeds in my seed tin and 3 bags of multi purpose compost left so if we are somewhere to grow things next year it won't cost very much.
10. Smallholding repairs and maintenance. There are always expenses when you own land and want to earn an income from it .Machinery repairs and replacements and maintenance and even small things like sticky labels for selling things at the gate, the list is endless. BUT as we will be doing less I shouldn't need to save so much each month.

Approx £240 a month needed  for the above This can be cut to about £200 a month perhaps more and of course these will all disappear when we sell.

 The ( B*****) Jeep!  The (B*****) Hyundai Tucson!
We changed the gas guzzling jeep,( but not to something smaller because Col wanted to make sure we could still tow a big trailer) to the Tucson in February. It has saved us a lot of money on diesel, the insurance is much the same, road tax a bit less. A recent repair cost £290.

1. Diesel for the Tucson. We try not to waste journeys and  do lots of  errands  when we are out. Luckily for most of our daily requirements we only need a 5 mile round trip. I cycle whenever I can. Our nearest petrol station is the local one in Leiston, who have now started giving Tesco Club Card points. They are often no more expensive than the supermarket filling stations and the nearest one of those is  over 20 miles away. We plan to change to something MUCH more economical later in the year as we won't need to haul large trailers about anymore
 The Plan changed so we could still tow a caravan/trailer
2.  Insurance. This is the almost the cheapest bit of running our car. As we are over 50 we get it via Saga and they will match any quote we can find elsewhere. Col checked out insurance for something smaller and it would be about £30 -£40 less each year.
3. MOT. Col is able to do most of the servicing so checks the car out before taking it to the garage.
4. Road Tax = Too Much but unavoidable! £285 this year. This will be much less when we swap to something smaller. It was a bit less but not a lot less
5.Bits for servicing, tires, oil  etc

Approx £200 a month in total at the moment but hopefully half that later in the year
.Less, but NOT 50% less.

The things we need for everyday life

1.All  Food and drink ( including Christmas)
2. Clothes and shoes ( Urgently need to save for something for our daughters wedding.)These were bought mainly off Ebay without spending a fortune. I have also bought 3 new bras this year but no other new clothes needed.
3 Personal Hygiene (  Loo rolls,Toothpaste, soap, shampoo etc etc)
4.Cleaning and Laundry stuff
5.Pre-payment prescription cards, opticians and dentist. ( I get free prescriptions after April)Prescriptions now free for me and optician check up
6. Phone and computer.When we move we will start again with a new provider as Talk Talk have put up prices, but it's not worth trying to change now.
7.Bottled gas for the hob  and coal to keep the Rayburn alight overnight when it's very cold We have enough to last us through the winter.   
8. Birthday and Christmas gifts for family and friends ( I MUST cut this for 2015) I plan to spend a lot less this year for Christmas gifts
9. House and contents insurance We swapped and saved
10. Smaller Things for the house Nothing needed
11. Postage I spent £20 to stock up on stamps before the price went up in April and haven't had to buy any more yet.

Approx £475 per month for all above but a bit less after April
 Have cut this to about £400 at the moment hopefully by more later.

We have money in savings for replacing household appliances, the expected expenses like pumping out the septic tank and the unexpected. These need to be added to if possible as there are always unexpected expenses!
We will be using savings rather than adding to them!

Then we want to have some money for the things that make life interesting
Christmas treats
Days out We've had NO days out this summer, instead we bought a caravan and plan to have an Autumn holiday if the house doesn't sell by then.
Craft materials Must NOT buy anything else! Unless.................
Feeding the birds This is an area we will have to cut, especially if we don't have chickens and therefore don't go to the feed mill where bird food is cheaper.

 Can we earn more than £1205 now £1065 a month averaged out over the year?
 No, I don't think we can .

Hopefully we can but I'm not as sure as I was last year because our income comes from several sources and the list below is shorter than it was in 2014. And even shorter now!

  • The campsite between April and October.....Praying for good weather! All OK, we are up on last year.
  • Egg sales every day ( a lot less than last year and less again when we drop down to enable us to get on holiday). Income is now only about £20 a week, still enough to cover feed and to have free eggs for us.We don't plan to restock on a large scale here
  • Sale of hay after haymaking and throughout year ( only our 2 acres here will be cut for hay in 2015) The man who owns one of the fields we rented asked Col to organise getting it cut and baled and didn't want any rent. We have sold the hay but are still waiting to be paid. We owe for getting the field cut and baled.
  • Sale of fruit, vegetables and a few flowers mainly from June until November. As usual we are able to sell everything we grow. Lost the sale of flowers due to the road being closed.
  • Income from Cs odd jobs. ( We don't know what he will be able to manage). He has been replaced in one and a half of the jobs he was doing regularly!
  • Occasional income - Election duty, I opted out last year but will probably do it this year             (approx £100) I didn't do this as we were not sure how well Col would be.
  • Car boot sale? - I swore last year not to do another for a few years but we have some STUFF! We found enough from the house and workshop to do 2 so far with an income of £300. Maybe doing another later.
  •  Income from investments. This will decrease mid-year when our 5 year Bonds come to an end. Interest rates have dropped dramatically since we invested the money left to us by my Dad in 2010. The bonds finish in September/ October. We can't invest long term because we need money available for the  future plans.
  • Repayments from money we loaned to someone in the family last year to help them out of bother.A third has been repaid so far.
 So that's our budget for 2015. If things go as planned we will be OK, if not we will have to use some of the savings. I will hate to see savings used  for everyday so will try to avoid if possible.

   The above is how I finished when this was written in January  and now we know things didn't go as planned, another health issue cropped up and we decided it was time to move.
 Now I just need to get my head around having to use savings to live on - after all, that's what they were there for but if we can't sell they are going to be eaten into much more than we wanted.
So S-t-r-e-t-c-h the savings will be the theme for the rest of the year.

Thanks for comments after the last post.
Back in a day or 3

Sunday, 16 August 2015

So how did it go?

They came and  they bought  and we are £700 better off!

We had advertised the barn/yard sale as starting at 9am but I went up to the shed at 10 to 8 to take a tray with the kettle and coffee stuff  and found a bloke poking about already and then from 8.30 on it was busy busy busy. Our elderly friend came to direct people to the car parking space and a couple of our regular campers volunteered to help too. I wanted to take pictures of the crowds
but never got a chance to go back indoors for my camera. Luckily Col had snapped a couple on Friday for his Facebook page.Above is the outside stuff all laid out for people to see. And below the barn with the

 smaller things, the books and household stuff all covered over.

I'm so glad we finished at 1pm as by then I was cream crackered! Col went up the road to take down all the signs, we cleared away the few things that were worth more than £2 into the workshop and then had lunch.  Time to clean the campsite toilets, do the eggs,  a swift bit of tidying indoors and we were ready for a potential purchaser viewing at 4pm. Phew!

We still have quite a lot of our daughters furniture here but we did sell a few bits of hers so she is also up £50. The list of useful smallholding things that are left have been emailed straight away to the newsletter editor for inclusion in the September Suffolk Smallholders Newsletter. Books have been brought back indoors and with other small workshop items will go to yet another car-boot sale in September. Col has got to deliver several things locally including the bricks which, as everyone predicted on comments on the last post, did sell easily.

All our campsite visitors came round for a look including Fran ( Bonnie Of Clyde Blog) who had been camping with husband and lovely dog all week.

Back later in the week

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Damage limitation

On Saturday we ate the first 2 sweetcorn cobs, on Tuesday we ate 2 more. They were deliciously sweet and juicy. Walking by the plants this morning Col noticed wasps all over them, and look what the B*****  things have done........

.......munched their way through the ends and ruined half the crop. It's annoying how they can do so much damage so quickly. Needless to say the cobs were picked, stripped of their kernels, blanched PDQ and into the freezer. I'll be keeping a close eye on the smaller cobs.

We've had another busy few days moving things into place for the yard/barn sale on Saturday. I'm not sure if anyone will want a load of bits of pipe, dozens of old bricks or any of the other things-that-might-come-in-useful-but-haven't which Col has laid out on the grass. We shall see. We advertised it in the Suffolk Smallholders Newsletter, on a blackboard outside and signs at the ends of the road so hopefully people will come to have a look. I can just imagine having to move everything back again if it doesn't sell - not something we would be keen on doing.Col suggested loading everything that's left over straight onto the big trailer and going off to a car boot on Sunday morning!

Welcome to 2torts, a new follower and thanks to Sadie,John, Pat, Sue, Michelle,Cro, Mending,Making,Crafting, Rachel and Gill for comments on Mondays post - apologies for not replying individually.

Back with sale news after Saturday

Monday, 10 August 2015

Last week and the weekend

It was only when  Angela pointed out that I had two books the same in my Library book photo that I noticed - not sure how that happened. I'll return one to Leiston library to get it back into circulation.

It seemed to be an extra busy week last week. Col was in and out almost everyday. Monday, baling straw. Tuesday, taking another load of scrap, much smaller this time and the price has dropped so only £77. Wednesday, he took our very elderly friend up to hospital in Norwich. On Thursday he was working for one of his customers in Leiston and delivering the straw. Saturday taking loads of bottles to the bottle bank (just in case you think we have been driven to drink by the stress of trying to sell the house they were from the campsite- not ours!)
 Meanwhile I did the August shop,  took two families round for two viewings during the week, made jam, bottled apricots, baked bread and cakes and did all the normal cleaning both indoors and on the campsite where  we have been busy all week and full at the weekend - we even had to turn people away.
 On Saturday  we knew we had our son, future daughter in law and her dad visiting us, but before they arrived we had what seemed like an endless stream of interruptions to our afternoon of sitting in the sun. 2 local people saw the  barn sale signs and thought they would just "pop in a week early to see what we were going to have for sale". I would have said Come Back Next Week, but Col is too nice and let them look round! Then our farmer friend arrived to collect the grass topper and someone else called in to pick up campsite info.
On Sunday we had friends round for the day which was good, although after they went I realised that everything I had dished up to eat was rather fattening and they are both on a healthy eating, keep fit thing - Oh well.
 I managed to zoom up the road to the car boot early before preparing food and picked up this preserving book for 50p, I really don't need another preserving book, but it just jumped into my hand!
( I have put 5 books into the car boot/barn sale boxes to make up for this!) I also found some craft paper and peel-off labels for card-making and a basket for one of the Christmas Hampers I'm planning

And here we are round to Monday again, which is what I said this time last week, which seems like 5 minutes ago. I hate the way the days are rushing by so quickly.

Welcome to Darlene, a new follower, hope you enjoy my diary.

Back in a day or 2

Saturday, 8 August 2015

This months library haul

Collected from the library van on Friday were these books
Most are ones I had ordered online, either new books by authors I've enjoyed, books recommended on my Amazon page or ideas from other bloggers. I still have 5 left to read from last month so plenty to get my teeth into if only there were a few more hours in each day.
Once again there are lots of crime fiction including a couple more of the British Library Crime Classics from the 1940s. I'm trying another Stella Gibbons after I enjoyed The Matchmaker last month. Preserves, Pickles & Cures is borrowed just in case it has an idea in it that isn't in my own 6 books about preserving!

Many thanks for all the comments about jam and jam making on my last post. Cro said he had eaten his first fig so I'm keeping a close eye on mine. I've now bottled 3 kilner jars of apricots and put many more in the freezer. One of Cols' customers asked to buy several pounds too. The wasps are really having a field day now on the fruit crops, it's going to be difficult to hang onto plums I fear. We have stood and watched the pests, trying to find where they head to their nest to destroy it but without any luck.

Back next week

Thursday, 6 August 2015

What sort of jam do you fancy?

We only have 1 blackcurrant bush now. When we moved here there were 8 but they were really old and not producing much so a few years back we replaced them with gooseberry bushes because we knew we could sell the gooseberries and, despite the prickles, gooseberries are easier to pick than fiddly black currants. A seedling currant was growing in the fruit cage so I potted it up and when it was big enough planted it out. I thought it was a redcurrant because that was what we had  growing there but it turned out to be a blackcurrant. It's given enough this year to make a few pounds of jam.

 Then yesterday I made Apricot jam, 9 jars of various sizes. The wasps have started to damage the apricots so rapid processing is needed. More have been put in the freezer.
In the cupboard we now  have apricot jam, blackcurrant jam, green gooseberry jam, red gooseberry jam, strawberry and gooseberry jam, strawberry jam, marrow and ginger jam and mixed fruit jam. Enough choice there I think.
Although later in the year, if I wanted too, I could make  plum, damson, greengage and any combination of apple and something that you can think of. But not raspberry - too seedy. And not  fig - they will be all mine -fresh and delicious!

Back soon, library day tomorrow - where did 4 weeks go?

Monday, 3 August 2015

I ought to look back at July.................

.........................................but  I can't be bothered!

We have the car back, it's sort-of fixed!
 The bloke who owns the little repair garage Col has always used suggested that Col source the part via t'internet,because it would be £100 cheaper, so he did and the wrong part, which, according to part numbers  should have been right, arrived. The next step was to take the old part to the Hyundai dealer in Ipswich to match it up,(which I think should have been done in the first place!) which is when Col discovered that you could buy a part of the part rather than the whole part!! We still have the wrong part here waiting for collection. The part of the part has been fixed back on the car and it goes, except for we have no air-con which doesn't matter as we can just open the window. I hope the wrong part gets collected so that the t'internet company can refund the £300. The part of the part that got things working again was 'only' £90. Are you still with me?

We've been walking our neighbours dogs for her over the weekend. We thought it would be a quiet amble round the track along the back fields on Saturday morning - it was only just after 8am - but we met 4 people we knew and had to stop for a chat with all of them. I've never known it so busy. Saturday evening we didn't see anyone.

It was the village flower and produce show on Saturday. I hadn't entered anything this year as it sort of snuck up on me before I got round to picking up a schedule. I biked down to have a look at the stalls outside - the Church and Chapel always have fundraising stalls -  and came back with these 2 treasures. You will be pleased to know they were just £2 each and I have immediately put two things from the cupboard into the car boot box to make up for allowing more STUFF into the house. But I really couldn't let these bits of old Blue and White china escape could I?
The piece on the right is, I think, a Ham stand, though I've not been able to find anything like it on Ebay. The left hand bowl is not so old, probably 1970s but very lovely.

On Sunday morning I left Col to walk the dogs on his own and  pootled off to the car boot sale. Loads of boots selling things at silly prices. I just came home with these
Very handy canvas bag for £1, Socks will be a Christmas present for a friend who actually Likes socks for Christmas (£2) and  'Keep Calm and Carry On' is a 2CD set of wartime songs(£1.50) which starts with an Air-raid siren!

And here we are round to Monday again. I need to do the August shop, we really must try the caravan awning and there are plenty of other jobs that need doing plus I Must read up about bottling the apricots, last year there were 40lb and the trees have even more on them this year.

Hi to Debbie a new follower, with a little picture on the right.

I shall be back in a day or 4


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