Tuesday 29 March 2016

Same old, same old

I have been so busy doing all the same old things that over a week has slithered by without me realising.
The garden is almost there, although it is obscured by rain just now.
Yesterday it was brilliant sunshine and blue skies, with a 10 minute hail storm in the morning, and I made the most of it.
I have been nursing a cold for most of the week, nothing too bad but it did have a couple of days with horrible ear ache and a sore throat. I dealt with that by sipping lots of liquid and snuggling under my blanket while I crocheted the border. Another 3 colours should get it finished.
The kitchen drawers were all emptied, cleaned and refilled. Many bits and bobs have been put into the charity shop, just how did I manage to collect 4 identical sets of cutters?
Seeds have germinated, small plants have been pricked out, more seeds sown.
Purple sprouting broccoli is still going strong but the spinach is done, heavy rain battered it into pulp overnight. I have 2 trays of spinach in the greenhouse for salad leaves and a row in the garden for cooking.
Ben is still as active as ever and we are getting an average of 4 miles walking daily, unfortunately I have not lost an ounce of weight. I put that down to the fact that muscle weighs more than fat.
My pink cardigan is knitted, I have started to make it up. The yarn is out for the children's tops next.
The sun has just popped out and the clouds are rolling away so I am off to have a look round the raised beds.

                       TTFN                                           Pam

PS, my young motorcyclist is on the mend.

Monday 21 March 2016

After the incident.

Thank you all for your supportive comments.
There was a bright side to all this.
I got to cwtch with a young man for a good while.
And he did not run away.

Not a funny situation but I managed to make him smile while he was in pain by saying that to him.

I have found him on Facebook and he only lives a little way from me so I will be in touch in a couple of days.

   Night night.      Pam 

A nasty incident at my front door

This morning just before 11. I left the house to pop over to a friends. I had barely gone 20 yards when there was an almighty bang behind me and screaming.
I turned to see that a motorcyclist was trapped between two cars, one parked, and obviously hurt.
I found out that I can run quite fast when needed.
I helped the young lad from the wreckage and sat him on my garden wall, blood was dripping down his leg and he was fast going into shock. Luckily Mr Muscle was in the garden and he also came running. I got him to telephone for ambulance and police and bring an armful of blankets out. The wind was whistling down from the mountain and cutting like a knife up through the village. The young lad, only 17, was shaking like an aspen leaf so I wrapped him up and then he leant into my arms like a child.
The other driver and passenger were only interested in the damage to their car, the owner of the parked car was very snippy with them and pointed out that the only real concern was the injured person.

We had the police, fire brigade and a para medic there quite quickly  but had to wait for the ambulance to come from Tumble.

Fortunately another motorcyclist came by who recognised the patient and followed him to the hospital once they left.

I have no idea whose fault it was, I do know that the car pulled out from behind a mini bus so his view of the road was restricted. There was the usual line of parked cars for 10 houses so the motor bike had the clearest line of sight and was more than half way along these when the car pulled out.

I had seen the postman waiting to pull away as there was a long stream of traffic coming down the street and when I heard the bang I thought he had pulled out too soon.

I have moaned about motorcyclists taking chances, weaving through traffic and both over and undertaking. 
I have also seen car, van and lorry drivers totally blanking bikes out.
Only by the grace of god was this young man injured rather than killed.
I have his helmet and gloves here and hope that he will be able to collect them himself at some point.

I was happy to walk Ben and then busy myself in the greenhouse once everything had been cleared away. I was not bothered at the blood, or the obviously broken tibia/fibula.
 It was not the sheer fact that a young life could have been snuffed out in that second.
What made me feel so upset was the fact that when he finally got through to his father, his comment was. "well I can't come I am at work"
If it had been my son I would have been into HR in seconds and every company that I have worked for would have said GO.

That's it for today. I have to say that I do feel better for sharing this and am sorry if I have offended anyone.

                  TTFN                                                    Pam

Sunday 20 March 2016

Whistle while you work.

I would if I could, I can not raise a whisper of a whistle no matter how hard I try.
I may sing a bit, but only when I am sure that there is nobody close by.
I have had some busy days, Ben loves this brighter weather as much as I do and we have had some gloriously long walks.
My grey, dull courtyard is now gold and cream. The stone slabs have been lifted, the underlying ground taken down 2" and is now covered with a membrane and 3" of Sunshine Flint. Photos another day.
The slabs have been relocated to the top section of garden. Several barrow loads of rough soil, stones, plastic rubbish and so on have been dug out. The soil was riddled and put back, level, and the stone slabs laid. Some small gaps were left and have been filled with some of the flint for little splashes of colour.
This is just in front of the greenhouse and shed and behind a tall fence, and is sheltered on all sides. It now is home to the barbecue and a table and chairs. I can sit and  relax within hearing distance of the house but be out of sight.
The new path is completed, it has slabs in a random layout and more of the sunshine flint. It is sided with  log rolls and has fairy lights on both sides, there is a double arch leading to the top section and that has fairy lights as well.
I will try to get a photo but am not sure if my camera is up to it.

I hasten to add that I have had help, Mr Muscle has been digging and lifting alongside me and has done much of the heavier work.
I have the canes in ready for climbing peas and beans, the space for leeks has been allocated and lots of seed has been sown.

On the other hand I have a heaped basket of ironing and the polish and dusters have had a good rest.

I have managed a little knitting most nights and the pink cardigan should be finished by neat weekend.

All in all I am as happy as could be, I just need to find some snowdrops in the green for a planter. I plan on a Hydrangea under planted with snowdrops, and maybe some primroses, for my new look courtyard.
The flint was £72 for a large bulk bag and came with miles of free membrane. The log rolls were £2.99 each and the fairy lights were £2.99 each set.
For little over £100, and some hard graft, my entire garden has been transformed. I know lots of people who would spend that on a Saturday and have nothing to show for it bar empty take away containers and a hangover.

That's it for now I am off to walk Ben, and my friends little dogs.

                  TTFN                                              Pam

Thursday 17 March 2016

Happy Feet, I've got those happy feet.

I am so glad that you can not hear me murdering that song, as the late great Eric Morecambe amost said, " I am singing the right notes, they may not be in the right order" 

I have whined and whinged many times about my "huge plates of meat" and the struggle to find good, well fitting shoes without having a major bank to fund them. 
Well late last week I paid a visit to the Hotter website and they had a sale on!!!!
 I found no fewer than 7 pairs of shoes, near faint from exciement and 2 cuppas to recover.
Sense and a tight grip on my debit card narrowed it down to 3 pairs, all originally £75 a pair, now 2 pairs at £18 and 1 at £25. 

The red and black pairs are loafer style with a very small heel and the grey ones have a small wedge heel.
They are very comfortable and well worth the cost, I had them delivered as the cost was less than the diesel would have been and it saved me a trip to Carmarthen. I know full well that I would have had a mooch round the town and spent more money. Baby clothes are soooo tempting.

I am spending every moment possible in the garden, or walking. Yesterday was sunny but cool enough to get a 5 mile walk in, and I enjoyed every step of it.
Friends from just round the corner recently lost their little dog. Yesterday they had grand daughters to visit, Ben went there while I had my walk and was extremely spoilt. So much so that while I stood waiting for him, he was still racing up and down playing ball.
He did just about acknowledge my presence but finished his game before coming to see me. 

This is the result of his playing, usually by now he is ready for the first walk of the day, this morning he is still curled up and snoring.

I am off to pick up some more 8' canes today, I used some of mine for the wigwam last year and a few are past their best. Wilko has them for just over £2 a pack of 10.

The garden is coming along nicely, I now have a second, smaller, greenhouse up. This will be more of a potting and storage area than a growing one, at least that is the plan for now.

I need a few more gravel trays, I will pick them up in Wilko later, they are only £1 each and are very sturdy.
Ooops, time I rootled Ben out of his bed ready for a walk.

              TTFN                                         Pam

Sunday 13 March 2016

Red Skies over Cwmgors

I have had a glorious day, I went outside at 7 with Ben and have hardly been indoors from then till 5.
I have more seeds sown and the whole right hand bed is ready for the off.
The path is laid out and weed suppressant fabric is down, the sides are marked out with log rolls, hammered in 3", and solar fairy lights are ready to be attached to both sides. 
The new trees are in and staked, I gave them a little sprinkle of Blood, Fish and Bone. They did not need much as I dug plenty of manure and spent compost in last year. Weeds are not a problem as the whole bed was covered with the black fabric all winter, that fabric is now on the path. I have some stone slabs to go down and gaps will be filled with shingle of some sort.

My climbing peas are in, some in the ground and some in loo roll middles. I know that I have at least 2 packets of beetroot seed, but of course I can find neither.

The sky over the Morriston Mountain is glowing scarlet tonight, I do hope that it means another day in the garden tomorrow, that should see the path finished and another bed covered with fabric. I intend to stand all my pots on top and the bed will be planted up with Gooseberries and Blackcurrants in October.

Dinner tonight should have been a leg of Welsh lamb, of course by 2:00 I knew that was a none starter, the lamb is in the freezer.
Dinner was Sausages, chips, beans and fried onions, fabulous.
Tomorrow will be soup and toast and if the week stays fine it will be a similar story every day.
My pink cardigan is well on the way, both sleeves and the back are done and I will be casting on the fronts shortly. I will knit them both together up to the armhole shaping, I find it easier that way. Several years ago I knitted the fronts separately, all well and fine until I came to sew it up, not only was one side an inch longer than the other, they were both Right Sides.

I hope that everyone has enjoyed their weekend as much as I have mine.

                   TTFN                                               Pam

Saturday 12 March 2016

Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzz, Vroooooom

I had an early start to my day and had a batch of sunflower seed and oat cookies as well as a tray of cheese scones cooling down before 7 this morning
Then I had a call for help, a friend managed to tumble down the stairs first thing and needed some shopping done.
 No lasting damage but lots of aches and pains, and probably some lurid bruises in a couple of days. 
I went to Parc Trostre as there were things to collect from Bother and Queue, and then over to Testco. Oh what a palaver, I could not find things and possibly got most of my 3 mile walk in up and down the aisles. 
Never Again. The stores at Pontardawe and Ammanford are quite big enough for me.

Back home and shopping delivered and put away I had the dogs to walk before I had time for a cuppa and a quick sandwich. I kid you not my stomach thought my throat was cut.

Then it was on with boots and into the garden. Mr Muscles was busy staking out my path and I was setting seed and planting Polyanthus in the top of  my little stone wall (after weeding it and pulling out mounds of Melissa. AGAIN.)
Then I forked over 2 beds and marked where 3 new trees are to go. I have another Victoria Plum, a Czar Plum and a Sunburst Cherry. They will be in plain view from my sewing room so that I can enjoy the blossom. If I am fleet of foot I may be able to beat the birds and enjoy the fruit as well.

I am off for a badly needed shower before dinner, and then I have to bath Ben. He was the undergardener, or do I mean under the garden. He looked like an oversized mole at one point, but it was my fault for spilling the compost.

                                          TTFN                             Pam

Wednesday 9 March 2016

Driving me crazy

I have been clocking up the miles lately and the standard of driving is sending me round the bend. 
I do not claim to be the best driver in the world, and certainly not the fastest. 

I use my indicators.
I position my car correctly.
I do not overtake on blind bends.
I do follow the speed limits.
I do not use my mobile phone when driving.
I do not have a child on my lap.
Or my dog.
I do not leave my indicator blinking for miles after a turn.
I do give way to pedestrians when the road bisects the pavement.
I do give way to public transport and emergency vehicles.

Which ever way I chose to drive between Carmarthen and Cardigan there are hairpin bends, sheer drops, dreadful cambers and blind corners.
There are also idiot drivers who seem to think that they are driving on a 6 lane motorway with no other car in sight.

My nerves are frazzled and my shoulders rigid with tension.
I need to "bathe in chocolate and have a rub down with the Sporting Life" as an old friend used to say.

I did have a lovely gift from Francesca on Friday, which has lifted my spirits and soothed my soul.

I answered a knock on the door to find a delivery man with a box as large as a fridge. I started to say " you have the wrong house" when he lifted it up and handed it to me as though it were empty.
In it were the balloons. Soon after the flowers arrived.

Although the roses do not have much scent, the lilies are now opening and filling the room with their fragrance.

The main balloon is perfect, I would love a gardening apron like that and intend to draw up a pattern and try to make one.
Note the wooden spoon, they are great for stirring Vermiculite into compost and the handle is a perfect dibber.

I am still making Jamie's money saving recipes, adapted of course, and loving them. I have not had any adverse comments from those who have tried them with me.
I found a copy of the book, in pristine condition, very cheaply and bought it. 
Although I have never been a huge fan, I do like James Martin and Hugh F-W much better, this book ticks all the boxes for me.
He uses much the same spices that I do, and advocates bulk buying, and frequently advises the reader to substitute and use what they have.
I do not buy the brands that he uses, and I do not buy organic everything. My frozen spinach and petit pois come from Farm Foods. I do not buy white beans, I just wash the sauce off baked beans from Lidl. I buy tinned tomatoes from Poundstretcher for 25p per tin and they are very good.

My chicken comes from the local butcher, legs are £1 per Kilo. I do not pay through the nose for Belly Pork but use shoulder at half the price. With the added bonus of lots of crunchy crackling.
I love lamb shanks but they are a ridiculous price. I wait until legs are on offer and buy as many as possible then joint them up before freezing. 

I used to buy Ox tail but the celebrity chefs have pushed the price through the roof, along with skirt steak. I tend to use Shin or Brisket now, but still watch the price per Kilo. I have seen Brisket on sale between £3.50 and £8.99 per Kilo, I have also seen Shin of beef, sliced up and sold as braising steak for £9. per Kilo.

On the garden front, my overwintered spring greens and Kale are doing well since I attacked the slug population boom. The garlic has thrown up strong shoots and the Banana shallots are settled in.
I have small but sturdy leek seedlings, and the first spring onions are in. 
The greenhouse has 2 pots of Early Onward peas, these are for shoots, and some climbing peas in loo roll middles. There are also 2 trays of cut and come again salad leaves, just ready for the first cut.
The propagator has some sturdy looking tomato seedlings, along with some chilli and aubergines.
The Rhubarb is looking promising and the strawberries are sending out fresh leaves.
In the house I am just doing the basics, I will have a good go through once the weather brightens up. I am useless in these low light levels. Not only do I struggle to see but I find it difficult to summon up the enthusiasm and the energy required. 

The shed is up and all things shed bound have been put in place. My "glory hole" has had a thorough fettling and is looking as a larder should. Lots of shelves with neat rows of cans, jars and containers. All labels legible and facing forward, making a shopping list will be so much easier now.
I did have a bit of a clear out and have passed on several things that were lurking in the deepest corners.
My bike is still under wraps, I need to find out how the fancy gears work before too much longer. Once we see some sunshine both sides of the hedgerows I want to be out on it.
Now I really must have a cuppa.
            TTFN                                                       Pam

Wednesday 2 March 2016

Jamie's cheap dinners, even cheaper.

I was flicking through the tv guide a couple of days ago, just for something light while I knitted, and found Jamie Oliver.  He was making "cheap" meals for around £1.65 per portion. That may be cheap in the Oliver household but there are thousands who need to feed  their family for as near to that amount as possible.
I did a little rootling round the larder and fridge and came up with these versions.

Banh Mi 

Chose your bread, soft rolls, baguette or in my case a RTC tiger loaf. Place in oven to warm through.

Make a pickle with half a cucumber and a grated carrot, squeezed out in a tea towel, add a quarter of a white cabbage and toss together. Mix in 1 tbsp of white wine vinegar, 1 tsp low salt soy sauce and a shake of lemon juice.

Take leftover roast meat, I used shoulder of pork, and slice up.

Open a pack of pate, I used coarse, this was RTC from £1 to 30p. Otherwise I would have used the cheap one from Lidl.

Heat a little oil in a frying pan, add the meat and cook, stirring for a couple of minutes. Add a glug of sweet chilli sauce, I used the Caribbean chilli and lime from Farm Foods £1 a bottle, and a dollop of chilli and tomato jam with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Stir round and let simmer for 2 minutes. 

Take bread from oven, slice open and spread with half the pate. Then pile in half the pickle and all the meat with its sauce.
Press the loaf together and cut into slices, chunks or wedges. Serve with the rest of the pickle. You can add some sliced red chilli and coriander leaves if you have them. Sliced sweet pepper and radish would work well, as would fine sliced celery and red onion or shallot.

It was yummy and too much for two.

Barbecue Beans.

Peel 2 small carrots and 2 small red onions, slice and heat in pan with a little oil, add a generous pinch of salt and pepper.

Add a heaped tsp of smoked paprika and another of cumin seeds along with a pinch of chilli flakes. Stir and cook for a couple of minutes.

Pour in a quarter of a a bottle of barbecue sauce,

with 2 tins of beans, any will do.

Stir up and add a splash of water to slacken the sauce,

Pour in a tetra pack of tomato passata and rinse it out with some water, pour that in as well.

Mix together well and pour into an oven proof dish, slide into the middle of an oven at 180c and cook for 1 hour. Wash a potato for each person and prick the skin, rub in a little oil and bake on the top shelf for an hour.
Serve up and enjoy. You could add bacon, sausage, cooked meat to the beans if you want, a Kilo of chunky bacon from Lidl will set you back £1. 45.  You can vary the veg, celery and sweet peppers would work, mushrooms and any root veg can go in. 

I have not priced these up as lots of the ingredients are from the larder. I use any RTC bargains that I can find and will happily chop and change things to utilise what I have.

One thing that I will not do is buy the top priced brand names, it is not necessary. The bean mix is similar to the Boston Baked Bean recipe that I have used on and off for years and should freeze well. Next time I make this I will be filling the oven and getting some into the freezer.

                     TTFN                                                Pam

Tuesday 1 March 2016