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


  1. Blimey Pam, you've been busy! Lovely things from Fran, they must have made you smile. Shin of beef is my favourite for stews, it has the best flavour in my opinion.

  2. I am doing a lot less driving these days and my usual run is into Lamperter or Carmarthen in a few months I have to make a trip to Leicester and already dreading it, I was only thinking last night about aprons, as once again I got in a mess while baking, todays weather is rough again lets hope real spring is around the corner and you get out on your bike :-)

  3. You hit the nail right on the head with these celeb chefs pushing the price of the cheap cuts up! Well to be honest, it's the greedy supermarkets getting on the bandwagon! Your garden sounds like it's springing into life! Nothing much doing in mine yet. Gorgeous Mothering Sunday gifts for a gorgeous lady xx

  4. Wow, I never thought about washing off the sauce from baked beans such a great cost saving idea. I will certainly be trying that one out. You put me to shame, I have not made a start on the garden and keep using the weather as an excuse.

  5. I'm with you, Pam, on the appalling driving standards of some people. It angers me when I see them on their phones, driving with just one hand and speeding to boot. They are not just risking their own lives but those of others too.
    Your Mothering Sunday balloons and flowers are lovely :)

  6. I know what you mean about the light levels. In the dark days of winter I seem to develop a deep lassitude I have a job to get rid of, but when the sky is blue even if the sun isn't shining I feel very different.

    I do a lot of the things you do, but I do have dried beans, so much cheaper then the tinned variety, I cook them in the pressure cooker before putting them in what ever dish I am making, 20 minutes in the PC saves hours of boiling them on the hot plate.

    I have had very reasonable belly pork from Aldi. They always take the skin off, something the supermarkets do not do.

  7. How sweet! Don't you just love surprises like that! A gardening apron like the balloon would be pretty. Enjoyed catching up with your posts!

  8. I am in full agreement with you on today's driving standards, everyone seems to be in a hurry or very angry. My sympathies lay very heavily with learner drivers of any age, the impatience of some other drivers must terrify them. None of us were born with the ability to drive we've all been learners and should give them the respect they deserve.

    I enjoy reading about your experimental cooking, since his retirement Mr B does the majority of the cooking, he really enjoys it. Shopping at Lydl the other day we bought a pack of fresh casserole beef for £4.39, we split it when we got home one half made a really delicious casserole with enough for 2 portions each and the other half with potatoes mushrooms and onion made a pie big enough for 2 meals each for us and the rest was given to one of our grandsons who now has his own home but macdonald, KFC etc don't make money out of him, he loves to cook he added sliced green beans and brocolli. One great tip I was given years ago by the school cook was to use my slow cooker for cooking Brisket, I leave it on over night and the meat is so tender. It never seemed to cook right in the oven.

    Mr B's latest concoction the othe day was beef lasagna but instead of pasta he used oatcakes in the layers, it was delicious, it was served with leeks wrapped in ham with cheese sauce and his lovely green salad.

    Enjoy your week

    Peg x

  9. I totally agree with you about bad drivers. I have been driving 53 years and I think it is worse now than I have ever known it (unless I am just getting older)! Re your slugs. Have you tried Richard Jackson's slug control from QVC. They are environmentally friendly, safe for all animals including dogs and cats and the slugs take them down into the soil so no horrible slimy trails. They are not cheap but they last for ages. Rgds Pauline

  10. Of all the ill-mannered drivers, it's the ones with phones who scare me the most.
    I always adapt recipes to match our taste and what foods we have.

  11. Lovely gift and so nice to be remembered. You are one of the busiest gals around anywhere! We have the same kind of drivers here in our rural area and cities as well!!

  12. How absolutely wonderful to receive those gifts such a lovely surprise I bet! Well the idiotic drivers are not restricted to the Uk by any means there are plenty here in Spain. I would even go so far as to say totally crazy ones too as they do not seem to care about their own lives at all and less still other peoples! What really annoys me as well is the filthy and aggressive language some drivers use! Soap wouldn't clean their mouths out they need to swill with bleach!!

    keep well

    Amanda x

  13. Skirt steak has been pushed up to a high price, here in the US, by the popularity of fajitas. It used to be the cheapest cut. Not any more!

  14. Lovely to hear from you. You do see some shocking driving don't you! I do wonder about some people!! xx

  15. What a lovely gift and yes an apron in that style would be gorgeous.
    We have a bad time with obnoxious drivers on the four mile stretch of road between home and the little town. It's a 40mph zone all the way with very few places to overtake safely but a lot of them choose to ignore it. Being a country lane the worst offenders for being on mobile phones are the tractor drivers. You should see them swerving all across the road while chatting away. It is very scary.

  16. Lovely mum's day pressies. I got a copy of Jamie's book for £1 from a charity shop but haven't made anything from it yet. You blogging about it has inspired me to get it out again and take another look, and maybe follow some of your tips for making the meals even cheaper.


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