Saturday 30 May 2020

Still Troshin'

I have not let the grass grow under my feet (I did cut the lawn) for the past 3 days, it hasnt quite been perpetual movement but close, very close.

The newly planted bed looks splendid, tomatoes standing to attention and courgettes putting on strong growth.

My attention is now focussed on the cucumbers, those reluctant little plants who seemed to wish to stay as seeds forever.

I now have a dozen healthly plants of varying sizes. 
Where to put them ?
How to grow them ?

My friend Jess grows hers up rose arches, mmmm very pretty.
I don't have rose arches.
I am not about to drive out searching for some.
My garden is more exposed and I am not sure how suitable they would be.
Or how long they would last.
Or where I would put them.

What I do have is a good supply of Hazel rods.
I could make stylised arches, a bit rustic,widthways against one of the fences. I can push the rods into the ground, tie in cross members at the height that suits me (and the rod length) and then tie in short bits like ladder rungs. It is possible to fix them to the fence if I wish to.
They can be level with the top of the fence, so no wind damage.
They would be behind the newly planted tomatoes.
They would cost nothing but a bit of work (and that's my favourite price FREE)

Guess what I will be doing today.

I had a look on line and strong arches are a wicked price, the cheapy ones are blown together, and blow apart easily in the wind. Plus they rust, wood rots and goes into compost eventually and then gets replaced.

I have been knitting a little, reading a little, watching a tiny bit of TV and the days are full. I relised this morning that I am living as my granny did, she rarely went further than the garden for large chunks of her life. For a few years she worked in Norwich and of course there were the annual trips out with the Buffs and the Oddfellows. If we managed a day out at the seaside, as long as it wasn't Gt. Yarmouth, she would come. Cromer, Sheringham and Wells next the sea were her favourites. 

I am happy to live like this, for now, I do miss meeting with friends and am aching to see the grandchildren, but it will happen. Later rather than sooner, but it's best to be safe.

On that thought it's time that I got herbie out, he is giving my the look, he wants his walk and he wants it now.

Stay safe.

                                 TTFN                           Pam

Wednesday 27 May 2020

Flowing downhill

Primarily it is the Squit, Nonsense and absolute Excreta that is pouring from the PM and his band of idiots. The absolute fool Cummings,who decided to drive out to "test his eyesight" (and other blatant stretching and bending the rules) is not fit to hold office. 
A case of  "Do as I say, not as I do".

My eyesight is poor and I would not drive as far as the next house to test it. I know how far and how clearly I can see.

Secondly it is the perspiration that is pouring from me. All of me.

I took the decision yesterday to take out the monster Czar tree. I had a good look round it and there were precisely 3 tiny fruit on it. They did not look like plums to me. 
I think that I bought a pig in a poke.
AKA a bird cherry.
I got out the extending loppers and took all the small branches off, leaving the trunk in situ.
This morning I dug the stump and roots out, hot and sticky work.

That is the second tree that I have moved from that corner of the garden. 
There will not be a third. 
I can take a hint.

Cool Sun Wearing Sunglasses Emoji Cartoon Vector Clipart ...

The resulting space may just be big enough for the raised bed that I want need. 

The tree is gone completely, the small stuff has gone through the chipper and the rest is ready for my neighbour to take to his Mums, she has open fires and once seasoned it will give her a warming.

I have had to come indoors now, it is very hot, too much for me and the dogs. I took them out early for a long walk but they do like to be where the action is. There is shade but they would far rather be in the hottest spot, panting away and making me feel guilty.

I will go out a bit later and tidy the ground up and then measure.
There are some small fruit bushes nearby that I grew from cuttings. I might relocate them in the autumn, or they might be incorporated in to a larger raised bed. I will play it by ear, and take into consideration what materials I have to hand.

Now it looks like lunch time, absolutely no idea what to have. Dinner tonight is griddled Tofu with a hoisin and garlic sauce on a noodle stir fry. I hope that pea shoots will replace mangetout as I don't have any.

Stay safe.

                          TTFN                                         Pam

Tuesday 26 May 2020

Another day

Another year older. 69 years ago yesterday I entered the world in a rush and I have been rushing ever since.

I like to be busy and hate sitting with empty hands. I am not sure whether it is nature or nurture but my Granny and my Mum were just the same. Of my siblings both my brothers are fidgets and my eldest sister is, my baby sister (52) could still be a teenager as she is quite happy to just loll.

Michael continues to walk/shuffle/hop around with his elbow crutches but is still in some considerable pain.

Herbie is delighted to have a sofa bound person to snuggle down with. He does sit with me at times but hates it when I move, he's not too keen on me knitting either, I am sure that he resents every tiny movement.

I sat in the sun too long yesterday and have the headache to prove it this morning, 2 paracetamol will soon sort that out. I did have shade up but the rays bounce off shiny surfaces and of course I wasn't sitting for long stretches, I was back and forth across the garden.

Nothing much planned for today, there is a small pile of ironing and I will do the usual bathroom/kitchen/hoover. I am convinced that I hoover up a dogs worth of hair every morning.

The garden is looking a bit wild after the wind and I will be putting some changes in place through the summer. The Czar plum has some tiny fruitlets on it so it may live on but it has to be stopped and at least 3 feet taken off. The soft fruit bushes will be lifted in autumn and relocated, they are in the wrong place. The new raised bed will take that space ready for next spring.

I have cast a beady eye over my bedroom and want to make some small changes. I have a storage unit that is not right for my needs so it will be swapped out. I need a chest to house my quilts, they are vac packed on top of the wardrobe. I am sick of looking at them so that will be sorted as soon as possible. 

I have got the rest of the house more or less as I want it, things do change from time to time, and am happy with it. The sewing room is slowly being denuded of stash. stacks of smaller cuts of fabric went into the face masks and the paler and bright skeins of wool have produced many pairs of socks. I look forward to using the darker and richer colours once my eyes are dealt with. There will be no need for more sock yarn this year, and probably much of the next one. All the leftovers are making scrappy socks or going into a scrappy Flax Light, that is about 3/4 done. I still have an amazing amount of scraps to work through.

It is time that I stirred myself off the sofa and moved about, I don't want to seize up.

Stay safe.

                              TTFN                                Pam

Saturday 23 May 2020

The winds in the willows

And the oaks, ash, holly and every other tree, shrub and plant in the valley. 
It seems to be waning now but its been a rough couple of days. 

I have been out in it, Herbie still needed his walks and I need the exercise and fresh air.

I have been up and down the stairs more times than I care to count.
Michael did make the journey downstairs and stayed down for a while. The return trip from the bathroom was just too much but hopefully he will be more able as the days go by.

I don't seem to have suffered much mayhem in the garden, a few pots had arrived on the wind, and the greenhouse is still in situ.

Francesca sent me a bouquet of flowers, they are lovely, I have a look at them between trips up and down, very soothing to the soul.

I was up early and made the most of it by bottoming the living room, a great deal of "stuff" has gone and there are some empty spaces here and there. Much better.

A collection of bits and pieces that live on Michaels side table are now housed in an unobtrusive lidded pot. All are apparently essential, I understand, I have my own collection. I just don't want to have to move them piece by piece when I dust, so they are now housed together as mine are.

Gosh that was a bit moany, I am no Hyacinth Bucket/Bouquet. I just don't like piles of clutter around, not even my own.

Nothing much to say really, I hope that none of you have suffered any wind damage. It's nothing compared to what some countries have as a matter of course. I think that the Brits take any extremes of weather as almost a personal afront.

Now I better get Herbie out for his last walk, he's snoring his head off beside me and its making me feel weary.

Stay safe.

                               TTFN                              Pam

Friday 22 May 2020

A ray of sunshine

Thank you for all your kind comments regarding Michael the Lame.

He is home but confined upstairs for a while, the doctors had to manipulate his ankle quite considerably and it will take a few days to calm down.

He has some mega watt pain meds and is spaced out, like cool man.

It hasn't affected his appetite though, he managed a grilled cheese sandwich about an hour after getting home and, for dinner, worked his way through homemade burgers, sausages, 2 doorsteps of bread still warm from the oven and a huge salad.

The ray of sunshine came from Jess and Will. Now that my garden plans are on indefinite hold ( a bit like the Tokyo Olympics) I have to rehome 7 large potted shrubs, all of which need to go into the garden this autumn. They are too big for me to manhandle and Jess and Will have kindly offered to rehome them at the weekend. As luck would have it they have an area that needs clearing and planting up. Win Win.

Perhaps the Gods had seen beyond my initial idea to the next step and have given me a solution to a future problem.

I was in the garden after dinner potting up the tumbler tomato plants and putting stakes in for the rest. Of course I have too many, even after giving some away to a brand new greenhouse owner. If I cannot find a suitable slot for them I hope that she has room for a few more.

The dogs had settled down for a snooze, they had a busy day following me round house and garden plus 2 decent walks and several sessions of rough and tumble.

I was in bed quite early, I didn't manage to sleep in the afternoon, I was too wired. Although I merely pootled about I knocked a few jobs off the everlasting list.

We had rain overnight, I didn't hear it but the tiles are still damp and there is the odd puddle of water on the road.
It is quite grey and windy out there so I will catch up with any chores that I missed/avoided yesterday. I can turn a blind eye with the best of them.
I did get an hours worth of tidying in the sewing room yesterday. In one corner I have a shelf unit that houses all my preserving gear, jars both empty and full, the maslin pan and waterbath canner.
During my rejig those had been decidely muddled but all is pleasing to my eyes now. Another short session should get it completely back to rights.
But first, tea and later toast?, not porrage this morning I don't fancy it at all.

Stay safe.

                          TTFN                                  Pam

Thursday 21 May 2020

Famous last words

People make plans and the gods laugh.
They are certainly laughing in my direction.
Michael and I had a good chat about my ideas for the garden, we walked up and down and came up with A Plan.

This was after dinner. Then we decided to take Herbie and Co out for a walk. within spitting distance of the house Michael slipped off the edge of the pavement and broke his ankle. It's nasty and he is still in hospital but should be back later today.

He has a job halfway through and there is no telling how long it will be before he is able to work, or even if he will be able.

Time for a big rethink about the garden and the future. If this doesn't mend properly it may well mean moving, once we are out of lockdown. The bathroom is upstairs and it would mean an extension to have one downstairs.
I can not begin to get my head round that one, it can wait.

The dogs are sprawled out on the sofa, all snoring gently with the odd wimper here and there.

Washing is pegged out, dinner is in the fridge. I made a large pot of beany chilli yesterday and picked a vast amount of salad from the garden. 

It could be much worse.
We will get everything sorted once we have a full prognosis.

Onwards and Upwards.

Stay safe.

                              TTFN                                    Pam

Wednesday 20 May 2020

Baby it's hot hot hot

Too hot for me and the furries to be outside after around 10, and that's pushing it.

An early walk, an hours selective weeding, a check round the various pots and beds and indoors for some shade. Not forgetting the daily chores.

My selective weeding is done up the stone steps and along the path. I let the mint spread as it wishes, if it gets out of hand I can just pull some up, wash and dry it for tea. There are some creeping buttercups and I allow a few to flower, they are pretty and the bees like them.

Some of the lawn grasses have escaped to poke up around the stones, some are mini boulders, that border the steps and I leave them to grow tall. They provide a refuge for tiny wildlife although I do cut the stems back before they seed, likewise the corners of the lawn. They grow tall and get cut back by hand before they get too unruly. It all helps to soften the edges and is to our taste, my Mother would have rooted it all out and just had a designated wild area. I have one of those around the hedgehog house, the brambles are so fierce that even Herbie keeps out. Revi and Poppy show no interest, perhaps because there is a patch of the 3 cornered wild leeks growing there. A very handy source of food, they have a strong scent but taste very mild, we are having omelette and salad tonight and there will be stems in the omelette and flowers in the salad. The flowers make tasty fritters with gram flour to have with chilli or even curry. Makes a change from onion bhajis.

As many of the plants as I had space for have been taken from the greenhouse to enjoy the fresh air. Some will be staying in there, tomatoes, for the duration and even though the door is open all night I am sure that a spell outside will do them good.

I am thinking of having a leanto greenhouse on the gable wall of the kitchen. There  aare 2 plant shelf units there now that Michael made but I want to move them into the little courtyard garden. The clumsy Revi has stood on or fell in/over everything in there, hopefully she would see the shelves. She isn't really clumsy, like a  foal she needs to grow into her legs. I am sure that she considers herself to be the same size as Herbie, if not Poppy. She constantly tries to get herself on my lap, not understanding that there is not room for her body, head and all 4 legs. She usuall ends up with her bottom perched on my knees, head under my chin and front legs wrapped round my kneck. Not comfy for me and she slowly slips floorwards.

I washed a pile of socks this morning, Michael is busy working and going through them at an alarming rate, 1 pair for work and a clean pair after his shower.

My new "sourdough" is doing well, I have made 3 loaves and the bubbles are getting bigger and the distinctive aroma and taste is getting there.
It isn't a true sourdough, I got the recipe? method? from a YouTube channel, Mary's Nest. As yeast is as rare as rocking horse manure. along with baking powder, I thought that it wouldn't hurt to try it out.

I have been looking at the garden with a new idea. My square footage is on the small side and I have fruit trees and some ornamentals, but there is plenty of room upwards. I plan on getting the structures in place over this winter. Not me personally but I know a man who can. I thought about a pergola over the path but that would cast too much shade so it has to be the south facing fence.
Posts will have to sunk independantly of it, I don't want it collapsing under too much weight if we have gale force winds. Cross rails with bracing struts firmly fitted will give me the basic structure. Then I can tie in hazel poles with canes woven in at an angle to strenghten it. Peas and beans can romp away and the raised beds will gain a bit of extra shelter but lose no sun. Between that and the fence will be the ideal place for squashes to rampage.

Man makes plans and the gods laugh, we will see. I may be aiming too high, pun not intended, but if you don't make a plan it doesn't stand a chance of happening.

On that note I am off to make a cuppa, mine is sitting beside me as cold as a witches t*t. sobs into a tissue.

Stay safe. 

                              TTFN                                   Pam

Monday 18 May 2020

Would you?

Go back in time and change things if you could.

Feeling a bit bleh this morning, only for a few minutes, I thought I would love to go back and start over.
Quickly followed by " when to and where". My past has made me who I am today. Some bits have been really bad, but most has been from okay to wonderful. There are millions of peeps who would gladly accept okay, and of course there are the ones who expect every moment to be wonderful.

Life is not like that, it is not fair it is more of a circus with highs and lows. Swings and roundabouts. If you never have a bad time how can you recognise and appreciate the good times.

On mulling it over for, ooh, all of a nano second (isn't the mind wonderful) I decided that no, I would not go back and deliberately change anything.

I wouldn't mind if The Doctor whisked me off to various points so I could enjoy them all over again. 
Wait a minute, that is what memory is for. So thats why we have one. We can choose to leave whole chunks locked away and revel in the ones that we wish to. But (there it is again) it would be foolish to indulge in that to the extent that we miss out on the here and now.
I like the here and now, the good, the bad and even the downright ugly, because that is what life is all about.

It was overcast and quite grey when I awoke, hence the Bleh. It is now bright with a fairly brisk breeze but not at all cold, not even cool. 
My "foster" dogs came bounding in this morning, they spend weekends with their owner as he works on the family farm then.

The naughty lab puppy, Revi, had chewed through Poppys lead so my first job was to make a new one. I have a stock of webbing, lightweight but I doubled it up, and it was a matter of 5 minutes and a nice new one was done.

Revi also had a bit of a chewfest on her own lead so I used a spare retractable lead for the walk. She has a slip lead and I do not have anything remotely suitable to make a replacement.

I have virtually emptied the patio of plants and will be giving it a good sweep before putting some different pots there. The pots that require rainwater are coming round from the front garden. I hope to get another water butt nearer to the front but right now I am fed up with carrying cans of water, 6 planters = 12 cans of water = 6 round trips. Then there are the blueberries in the soil, in dry weather thats another 3 or 4 round trips. I will be looking for a butt to go out there today, I have a diverter kit to put in the downpipe. Fingers crossed it won't be many days before it is sorted ( and we get some rain to fill it)

I have a dwarf apple tree that is in the wrong place, not in my way but it seems to be in a mini wind tunnel. It has been battered and sculpted by the wind, and I think that Herbie has inadvertantly helped this when he jumps up to pick his own apples.

This autumn when it is dormant we will be digging it up and tranferring it to Jess,s garden. The fruits are red and shiny so she will have 2 pairs of hands rather that a doggy mouth to remove them.

I will not be replanting with anything as there is not much point.

I spent a considerable part of yesterday right at the top of my garden in the "midden". It is an area that was full of all sorts of household items that had been disgarded by previous occupants. Of course it kept being pushed to the bottom of the to do list and over the years had had many layers of fallen leaves mulch it. There are some old and dying bushes that are covered with ivy around the edges. 
I should say that there were, I had a full body workout up there hacking it all down, some of the ivy stems were almost as thick as my wrists. Once it dies off the small stuff will go through the chipper and become mulch for the beds and pots.

I started at one side and have rootled and dug down to remove old bits of rusting metal, miles of old hosepipe and almost a trees worth of rotting wood. 

This is now on hold till next weekend as the dogs cannot be allowed up there, and I don't mind a break from it. My arms and shoulders are complaining this morning and my leg muscles are moaning as well. I walked several miles back and forth . There is a considerable amount of leaf mould, soil and old spent compost up there and I think it will become a good growing space for next year. I hope to fill it with broad beans in November, I have a supply of well rotted manure to improve the growing medium.  
The seed is not expensive and it will give me an indication of its suitability. If it works the ground should be cleared in time for a crop of something to go in by late spring, early summer.

The dogs are all sleeping so I am off to do the patio, the gentle snoring may lull me off into a snooze otherwise.

Stay safe.

                                   TTFN                    Pam

Sunday 17 May 2020

Feeling frustrated

I love to preserve food for the darker months, a jar of strawberry jam brings back the memory of hot days, the air heavy with the scent of warm fruit. A jar of tomatoes for pasta sauce opened and I can smell the plants and feel the almost tropical warmth.

I have a deep water canner for my fruit and tomatoes but would love a pressure canner.

I can buy one from the US but delivery, vat and sundry charges would be almost as much as air travel ( if it was possible). I have searched the web but haven't come up with any joy.
There's opposing views on the Hawkins Big Boy, some say that it is fine for canning but the manufacturers say that it is not safe.

If anyone out there has any help or advice I would be very grateful to receive it. I have the freezer but, hopefully, it will not be large enough. There is always the possibility of a power cut or of it just up and dying. Should that be down and dying?

If I was still in Lincolnshire I would enquire at the US Air bases, but it's a long haul from here.

Oh well, perhaps one day.

I had a very lazy evening yesterday, just Herbie, me and my knitting on the sofa. I didn't actually touch the knitting but it was there.
We had a late dinner, 7 is late for us, of Pasta Puttanesca. Cleared the kitchen and put a contaner of the sauce in the freezer. We like it so I always make enough to freeze, I separate it before adding the anchovies.

After some chewing gum for the brain TV I walked Herbie and set the washing machine on timer, I was in bed by 10 and asleep in seconds.

It,s a bit dull and cool this morning but I plan on getting outside. We will have a good walk after breakfast and then I have some pots to move around. 
The fleece covers need to be folded or rolled up tidily and stashed away till the autumn, I use them to cover late salads. 
It won't be long before the seed catalogues start popping through the letter box. I don't open them till we have a rainy day, otherwise I would lose a day just browsing and indulging in fantasies of planting a jungle of food.

I have not grown main crop potatoes for several years, they were so reasonable to buy that it did not seem a good use of the ground.
Some time ago I watched a video of someone growing them in tall black planters. He had amazing results and I thought, yes I'll try that. Of course I let it slide and forgot all about it. 
Last week the same chap popped up on YouTube and included a link to buy the pots. I have ordered some, they are not cheap but not eyewateringly pricey. I figure that I can get 2 crops a year by starting the potatoes off early in the greenhouse and then after "lifting" them I will back fill the compost adding a little fish, blood and bone and get a crop of something in. Leeks perhaps, they would be small but very welcome, I will give it some thought and perhaps try a few different things for the first year.

I had a look at my pantry shelves and am pretty pleased with the new look. But, there's always a but somewhere, they could be better. One shelf is full of cookbooks, I use each and every one, that are the remainder after my clear out some time ago.

That shelf could be put to better use.
I like having my books close to hand.
There is nowhere else in the kitchen to have them.
The vast majority of our books live in the sewing room.
Those shelves are full.
I don't want to add more furniture to the living room. ( I would prefer to lose some)
What to do.
Perhaps repurpose some of the existing storage in there?
That sounds like a repeat of yesterday.

Maybe I should empty my units and assess what's in there, I know that one unit is in dire need of a sort out, and then put the books in and sift through the rest.
It would definitely be a good thing to empty the yarn stash out and go through that.

I have just noticed both the time and how wordy this post is. I will publish and then head for the shower.

Enjoy your Sunday and stay safe wherever you are.

                                  TTFN                        Pam

Saturday 16 May 2020

Taking a break. Ha.

That was the idea anyway, After a reasonably busy week I planned on pottering around house and garden. 
It all started well, a pot of tea, a lemonade scone with some berry jam. A long walk with Herbie and a pot of coffee to come home to.

Washed up, cleared kitchen, all the usual things and then opened up the greenhouse. Check round and all is well.

Back indoors and I thought that it was time to have a rummage round the pantry shelves. 

Bad Idea.

3 hours later and shelves were emptied, cleaned and contents shuffled around. Not sure if that will suit or whether I will be putting it all back as it was. 

So much for a break.

But I am pleased that it is done and even more pleased that there was only a tiny bit of dust to remove.

Really pleased to discover 5 jars of mango chutney, I thought it had all been eaten, and some large kilner jars of Victoria Plums from last years bumper harvest.

There will not be so many this year as the weight of fruit led to the loss of a branch. I had it propped up but a night of really strong wind took it down, all the fruit was saved and processed that day.

The Damson tree had a good flush of blossom but one of the storms stripped most of it. The Czar plum is laden with tiny fruit and if it grows well will compensate. The fruits are quite dark and will make a good substitute for damson jam and jelly.

I was thinking of an Early Blue River plum but couldn't source one.
Michael and I have had a discussion as to the feasability of a windbreak to help shelter that section of the garden. No doubt it will happen but what form it will take is anyones guess.

I tried knitting last evening, it was fine for an hour then my eyes were tired and I knitted a whole round wrong and had to tink back.
Note to self only knit in sunlight and pace myself.

Getting in for a sight test is top of my list when I feel safe enough. There will probably be a high demand so I will be surprised if it is this year.

The type of cataracts mean that everything is darker and I can only knit or sew with pastel and bright colours. I have 3 colourwork patterns that I was hoping to have as my winter knitting but they are on the back burner. I have not bothered to dye the yarn yet as I am not sure that the colour that I see is the colour that it is.
I  will not be buying commercial yarn as I will only need small amounts of most colours and I made the mini skeins ages ago.

I dug out a pair of summer weight curtains this morning and thought what a glorious skirt and jacket they would make. Maybe I will later so I put them back for now.

Herbie has just bounced onto the sofa and, with a look, informed me that it is past time that we went outside.

Stay safe.

                               TTFN                              Pam

Friday 15 May 2020

A bits and bobs kind of day

I don't have a set plan for the day, just a broad outline and a list in descending order of priority
Tea, toast and more tea. done
Get ingredients ready for dinner and some baking. done
Dog walk. done
Make a pot of coffee and enjoy. done
Set more Autumn King carrots. done
Make a cuppa. done
Set more coriander seed. next job
I won't bore you with the rest, it concerns manure amongst other things.

I went through the fridge yesterday and found some cheddar that had not been wrapped too well and is starting to dry and harden. There were also 2 pots of buttermilk getting close to use by.

On peering into the freezers I found some space. Woo Hoo.

There is a bottle of lemonade that was started the day before.

Cue Cheese and sage/chive/parsley buttermilk scones and lemonade scones (there was also a pot of thick cream) some with raisins and/or cranberries.

Cottage pie for dinner so that can go in the oven when the scones come out and I might prepare a tray of chickpeas and fennel seeds to roast, that will slide in on the next shelf.
Result, I hate putting the big oven on for one thing but that lot would take for ever using the mini oven.

Scones, like Yorkshire Puddings are a wonderful item to have in the freezer. They take no time to reheat, I do nuke the scones but the yorkies go straight on the shelf in a hot oven and are ready in  minutes.

Now where's my list. I want to complete it today while the garden still has a little shade.

Stay safe.

                              TTFN                              Pam

PS. I dont over do the scones just enough to warm them slightly. if they are too hot the butter melts and the jam and cream end up on the plate or worse in my lap.

Thursday 14 May 2020

It's been a bit fruity round here

Naughty, but very nice.
The fruit in question was a mixture of bags of frozen berries and the last of my blackberries from the chest freezer.
The first batch was turned into jam, a very nice 8 jars of not too firm a set. I had to scrape round the maslin pan for a taster.

The rest I cooked and strained overnight for jelly, I had to pick out the strawberries as they do not agree with Michael.
No waste, I cooked them with a little sugar and made a lumpy sauce to pour over porrage. Frozen in small blocks they will liven up my breakfasts till my strawberries are ready.

The pulp left in the jelly bag was pushed through a sieve, weighed and matched with sugar, and a good squeeze of lemon juice, and cooked till really gloopy. A bit like chutney. Into jars and sealed. I first read about this on Frugal in Norfolks blog several years ago and have done it ever since.

As it is a glorious morning I threw another load into the washing machine, I had one on timer overnight, and that is all pegged out.

To complete my session as wannabe domestic goddess I cleaned the oven!!!! At 7 30 am? It was a bit smokey when the jars were sterilising so I felt compelled.
Now I feel smug.

The dogs have had their long walk, the kitchen is back to rights and the jelly bag is soaking. I think I need to make a new one as it is getting on a bit.

I have a tin of jack fruit to try and I know that it is promoted as a vegan pulled pork but I am going to try to replicate Kung Po. I have a selection of Asian spices and they haven't been touched for a few weeks.

Told you it was fruity.

On the same theme, my fruit bowl has a plethora of citrus fruits. I will be making some more mixed up marmalade. However I am going to put it all through the mincer, with a coarse disc in. I was friendly many years ago with a family who always minced the fruit for marmalade. They did make well over 100 jars each year so slicing would have taken forever.

I use marmalade in various cakes and puddings and I hope that this will go smoothly into the mixture.

Note that I haven't mentioned the garden. That's because  pegging out is as far as I have been. I want to sweep and wash the kitchen floor and whizz round the bathroom first.

I need to find a new tin to keep my seed packets in, my old faithfull has more dents than a banger car and the lid no longer stays on. I looked online for a tin of biscuits ( that would make the tin free, right. Or the biscuits)  Duh, they are either tiny little things or such fancy shapes that render them useless for my needs.

The so called Seed Tins are on the small side or are an horrendous price, not made for real gardeners at all. I would not spend the equivalent of my weekly food budget on a tin and trail it round the garden, leave in the greenhouse or shed etc. Mind you I have no intention of buying one, can not justify the cost. I do have a fairly sturdy cardboard box and thought of lining it with thick aluminium foil, hmm the outside would get damp and soggy.
Then I wondered if a coat of some sort of paint might do it, hmm that would mean buying paint.

Cartoon lightbulb having an idea. Vector illustration with simple gradients, Lightbulb and background shape on separate layers for easy editing.

Wood, handmade, by Michael from scrap wood.
Michael is building a shed/summerhouse/storage for a neighbour. Observing all the social distancing regs.

There is bound to be a raft of offcuts.
He shares my belief that nothing should be wasted,
Especially wood.

He built a large deck for friends a few years ago and they have an array of planters made from the offcuts.

This time no planters are required so I will beg the offcuts and  barter, maybe with preserves as they always have a jar or 2 from every batch that I make, or ask what they would like.

I am happy to wait, there is no hurry I will not be buying more seeds yet. Thinking further ahead I intend to start growing some perennial veg this autumn so the seed box will not need to be quite as large as I first imagined. Act in haste and repent at leisure, that's Granny again.

Now I need to act on the remainder of my chores so I can get outside asap.

Stay safe.

                                TTFN                                 Pam

Tuesday 12 May 2020

The sun had its hat on today

and boy did it play.
After yesterdays wind it was marvellous to wake and find stillness, even if there was a miniscule shimmer of frost.

That soon melted and the day warmed up nicely, no frost damage but quite a few plants were ruffled by the wind.

I have put the fleece back again tonight, just in case as the sky is devoid of cloud. Not so much as a wisp of white to be seen.

Does anyone remember Jasper Carrot? He used to do a joke about a machine gun turret and moles in his garden.

Well I would like to see many speed traps to deal with the maniacs who regard the traffic denuded roads as race tracks. They roar through the village at breakneck speed, overtaking anything in their path, regardless of all the parked vehicles. There have been a few near misses with screaming brakes and lots of loud hooting and probably a fair bit of language too.

I wouldn't machine gun them but happily see the cars hauled off to the crusher and the drivers left to walk home.

Did I tell you about the cucumber seed? I set it nice and early and waited, and waited, its in a warm place, and waited. So I set some more and waited, and waited, its in another warmer spot, and waited. Spoke to my sister in Norfolk to find that she was in much the same boat. These are outdoor ridge cucmbers, all the greenhouse ones that she grows for her daughter are romping away.

Time passed and when walking past the first lot I noticed a strong green shoot through the cover, Woo Hoo. 
A little later and there were 3, Woo Ho again.

Next day I decided to check the second batch, nothing Boo Hoo.
The day after there were 2, today there,s another 3. I shall be over run with them, I see lots of cucumber pickles in my life, good job that we like it. Lots.

I managed to buy a 16Kg bag of bread flour, white but better than nothing. Of course I am low on yeast so sourdough is back on the menu. 
Nothing wrong with that, we both like it. 
Far too much. 
I will be making small loaves.
We have been known to eat a loaf at one sitting.
Greedy McGreedies.
That's us.

Now, who's for toast and marmalade.

Stay safe

                             TTFN                                       Pam

Monday 11 May 2020

Woosh, there goes another carrier bag/crisp packet/sweet wrapper

That was my morning walk with the dogs, it made for a full body workout. Anything that landed near us was pounced upon by Herbie and Poppy, the jack russel. Anything that sailed overhead was a target for the Springbok that is disguised as a chocolate labrador puppy. I had to check once or twice that both arms were still in their sockets, and my footwork whilst avoiding the little ones was worthy of Fred Astaire or Michael Flatley.

Once we got off the road, 2 minutes of hopping and dancing, and onto the footpath we were fine. 

We used to put out recycling into plastic bags and tie them up, now we have these heavy duty square bags with hook and eye closures that are prety much useless. There is a sizeable gap along each side ot the bag and the wind rushes through carrying anything light out with it.

We also have black rigid plastic bins for glass and paper and textiles, much better you think. Well if the lids locked in place it would be fine, as it is most households no longer have lids and the hedgerows, and garden hedges are festooned with splinters and chunks of rigid black plastic. They ride the wind better that any frisbee and when dropped thay shatter like a cup hitting quarry tiles.

Moan, moan, whinge whinge, that's a collective from the whole village.

Of course the carrier bags have only come back as deliveries are all bagged up to preserve social distancing. Swings and roundabouts I am lining all my pots and planters with said carriers. The idea is that it will be easier to get the contents out than trying to tip a huge planter out.

My little mouse having decimated the peas that were direct sown has passed through to further fields, or someone elses garden, fat and happy.

The brassicas that I planted early are growing well inside their pop bottle homes, I have just sown some 60 day broccoli seed, we will see if I am eating it in 60 days time. I have grown it before and on the eastern side of the country it was always another 10-15 days. 

I have been researching perennial vegetables and will be trying some out next year, along with some "polyculture" broadcast sowing several different plant types in a raised bed for a long harvest season without having to replant. it looks interesting and there is time for me to play that game this year.

Just have to convince Michael that there IS room for another raised bed. not to mention finding the materials to build it.....there is a heap of old bricks lurking some where at the top of the garden. Might have to "discover" them later on today.

I haven't been converted solely to the garden, once I get my eyes sorted there will be sewing and patterned or colourwork knitting taking place. Fingers crossed just in time for the end of the gardening season.

Now it is time for a cuppa and perhaps a sandwich as it is gone 2.

Stay safe.

                         TTFN                                      Pam

Saturday 9 May 2020

One day out

For most of this week I have been a day out, thinking that it was a day later. No idea why, I message people every morning, watch the news and listen to the radio. Each day I have realised at some point what day it is but the next morning I am back in the time warp.

It may be age related, or too much sun. It could be all the fresh air or maybe I am going stir crazy.

Whatever the cause is it doesn't really matter as most days are much the same.

Not moaning, just saying.

A big positve from all this outdoorsy time is the effect it has had on my quality of sleep.
I fall into bed and am asleep before my head hits the pillow around 10 and am waking up around 5. That's 7 yes 7 whole hours, 2 nights sleep for the old me. I love it, I feel refreshed and full of energy each morning. I still get a couple of hours to myself in the morning in which I drink tea and map out my day. 
I do not always follow the map but the intention is there.

I have been potting up rooted cuttings and some self rooted shrub branches that drooped onto the soil. These will all become gifts, some have been dropped off on doorsteps including some tiny crab apple trees that I grew from seed. There is no telling what they will be like but as long as they give joy it does not matter.

Jess and I have swapped seeds and plants along with encouragement and advice. Both gardens should be bountiful for some time. 

I am hoping to source a perrenial kale for the autumn, we had one when I was a child and tremendous amounts were cut on a regular basis. We had to as it was a big beastie and grew like a triffid. 

I am aching to get my eyes sorted, it is affecting all parts of my life and I really want to sew again.

We had a humdinger of a thunderstorm this afternoon, Herbie was incensed that something was making all that noise in HIS garden, he launched himself  through the door at the first clap and stood on guard for ages.

The rain was plentiful and my water butts are now well topped up.

That is more than my tea levels are so I am off to get the kettle singing.

Stay safe.

                          TTFN                                  Pam

Thursday 7 May 2020

Resolution cancelled

I don't really make resolutions for the new year, or the old one come to that.
This january though I decided to limit my online purchases to those that I could not get any other way.

Well that soon went out the window. 
Before lockdown and all the ensuing madness.

I watched the news, I listened to the experts and the drips under pressure and came to my own conclusions.

I also remembered my Granny telling me of villages that were decimated by Spanish Flu.

I checked my cupboards.

I set up a weekly delivery spot for 12 months with Asda (they were the only company that had such a thing).

I did not panic buy 5 million loo rolls and half a tonne of pasta/rice/baked beans etc.

I have cancelled 2 of my delivery spots as I did not need them.

It is not perfect but it works. I much prefer to select my own shopping but have no desire to queue for hours and then be jostled round the store at breakneck speed.

My shopping arrives mid week without delay. There are sometimes substitutions, they do not always make sense to me, but I either use them or pass them on.

My Granny did this as a matter of course.  She had 2 notebooks, filled in one during the week and passed it to the delivery man and received the other back with her groceries. That one would be duly used and swapped a week later.

She never ran out of anything and there were never any meals concocted from a random selection of oddities.

Meal planning was the norm and most weeks followed a set pattern, roast on Sunday, cold on Monday, cottage pie on Tuesday and so on. The fish man came on Friday and we had whatever the catch was.

I have sidestepped.

As I was leading up to, all my shopping is now online. A Brucie bonus is that I have plenty of cardboard for the brown portion in my compost bin. 
A big downside is that much comes in plastic, very little of which is suitable for recycling.
We do not have a milk delivery in the village and cartons and plastic are the only option.
I am using the plastic containers in the garden every pot has at least one beside it, filled with rain water for the ericaceous plants, tap water for the rest. No need to reel out the hose, the pots are mulched the plants take up water at varying rates and the water is right there on hand. As I empty one I refill and return it for the next time.

I am enjoying having no need to leave the village, there are many options for dog walking and most times I see nobody.

Once we have (if we ever do) reached a point where there are zero new cases, and some time has passed, I will resume shopping myself. However I will be doing one trip and only one per week, regardless of anything that I feel that I want or need. Meal planning has run so smoothly over the past weeks, wereas it was rather eratic, that it has become the new 'norm.

I list what I want to make, order just what I need and nothing extra because it caught my eye.
Mind you I do miss the "fridge bottom" meals.

Clothes are not an issue, I always relenish the "undies drawer" in the January sales. Most of everything else I make, and there is still a sizeable stash of yarn and fabric. Still waiting for elastic.
The only possible hiccup will be my eyesight, hopefully that will be the first item to be crossed of the To Do in the Outside World list.

Of course my hair is growing steadily more unruly but I scoop it up into a bun, plaits or pony tail and ignore it.
Some of my outfits are rather loud, I love colour, but the only people who see me are accustomed to that. any that care about it don't matter and those that do matter don't care.

I care that I do not dissappear into a cloud of beige and none colours, my Mum and Granny were the same. Bolder is better and brightest is bestest.

On that upbeat note I am off to have a look at the garden while it is still a bit overcast, we are due some more searing heat and I don't venture out in that.

Stay safe.

                           TTFN                               Pam

Wednesday 6 May 2020

Indoors! In this weather?

Too right I am. I have no wish to go crisp and red and am rationing the factor 50.
Even the dogs came in voluntarily as the sun soared overhead, usually they have to be turfed off the patio chairs and herded inside.

I have been out and at it for most of the morning. The first sowing of Autumn King carrots to follow on from Nantes, and hopefully sit in the ground over winter.
I have put 4 courgette plants into containers to clear a little room in the greenhouse. The pots are big and I have layered wood chippings for drainage, well rotted manure, homemade manure then some grass clippings, for the worms to munch on, toped off with multi purpose compost. 
I know, it's too early to plant them out BUT, they are in a sunny and sheltered spot and  have tall covers for overnight. They will each be growing up through a tomato cage, that way I will not have to scrabble through those scratchy leaves.  Perhaps missing some that turn into marrows in the blink of an eye.

Some of the tomatoes will have to be potted on again, I thought that I was late getting the seed in but not a bit. I know that I was too early with some of the beans but after next Sunday and Mondays cold snap the larger ones will go out. The bed and supports are ready and I have fleece to protect them. Likewise the potatoes in pots, fleece is to hand ready to fling over, I did cover them last night but the temperature didn't drop that low.

There are not enough hours in the day for me now, its not all work though. The dogs keep me occupied with 2 long walks daily and a third shorter one if weather permits. They love to be in the garden and I have to be out with them, just like children what one doesn't think of the other one will. 
Herbie in particular knows that strawberries are on the way and is trying to climb up to investigate.( I moved all my plants into containers to claim the bed for veggies)
While his foster sister leaps like a springbok and is sizing up the fence round the raised beds.
Little Poppy is a typical terrier and is constantly busy and if there is the slightest space will push her nose into it. She is tiny and I am concerned that she may wriggle free.

The minute that I sit down with a cuppa or cool drink Poppy is on my lap and the phone starts, I am almost certain that there is a concealed camera telling everyone when I am indoors. I have not been into blogland or you tubeville for ages and am so far behind with recorded TV programs that I might just delete them all. Even if I didn't sleep I could not catch up in a month.

None of this should be regarded as a whinge or moan. I love being so occupied, most of my friends are in the same position. Some like me with pets and gardens others with children and gardens. Most of us are only too pleased that we cannot go shopping at the drop of a hat or the wail of "can you just nip to town and pick up.......for me?)

On that note I am off to get the kettle on and check that I have everything that I need out for dinner, pasta with a chicken, leek and cheese sauce. Not forgetting salad leaves and herbs from the garden, baby radishes as well tonight and pea shoots.

Stay safe.
                                TTFN                                 Pam

Sunday 3 May 2020

Busy, rest, Busy, rest .......

Yesterday was a mixed bag of frenetic activity and pure idleness.
I did some speed weeding interspersed with sitting on my btm and reading. 
I went into overdrive on the laundry front and consequently now have a small mountain (perhaps it's a hill) of ironing. It will need ironing as there was sun but no wind to smooth out the wrinkles.

Amazingly Michael suddenly appeared clasping an armful of laundry late afternoon?! 
Where did he hide it.
Why did he hide it.
Did it creep in from another house.
Did it start life as a lonely sock and just self pollinate.
Have we entered the Twiglet Zone.

Doesn't matter, it is all on the whirlygig.
Along with a forest of hand knitted socks (maybe a small sheeps worth), some of which may be mine, that have been slowly accumulating. 

I am running out of ground space so have cast my eyes skywards.
Anything that can be persuaded to grow up will be greatly encouraged to do so. 
I have ventured out to cut some more hazel poles, an armful are leaning against the wall and another will soon follow. A great deal of cutting back and coppicing has been going on close to me, the cut wood has just been dumped in piles. I asked nicely and was told to fill my boots! I would rather fill my arms. It is wonderful what effect a jar of chunky, slightly bitter homemade marmalde can have.

It can even get you bags full of well rotted manure, 2nd delivery arriving later today, cue a happy dance.

The weather report is for an overcast day. The sun is streaming through my window right now but there are large patches of flat greyish cloud around.

Roast Lamb for dinner tonight, Welsh of course, just a small joint so a minted lamb Oggy will be on the menu for Tuesday.
We had spicy pork wraps last night with salad from the garden, lush.

Thanks to my well stocked pantry, and my need to keep a stock of all essentials, we have not struggled for anything. My bread flour and yeast supplies are shrinking now and those are as rare as hot snow. If I do run out we will use the local bakery, their bread is good but we prefer homebaked.

The Morrisons  food boxes are not bad at all, I sent one to my sister in Norfolk who was stuggling to get most things. They are fine as an occasional purchase but you still need other things.

Vegetable seeds are creeping back onto shelves, I am told that home bargains and poundstretcher have some.

The only seeds that I did not have were butternut squash and sweetcorn. I will miss them but will grow extra of other veg.

One good result os this rush to grow your own is that the seed for next year will be fresh.

The fruit trees have, and the apples still have, a tremendous amount of blossom. I can see myself thinning out after the June drop and the Czar plum that was on St. Julien semi vigorous root stock has passed 20 ft. I may need to grow some wings, or borrow a cherry picker and lop the top off.

On that note it is time for coffee, the machine has been hissing and spitting like a Kilkenny cat but all is quiet now.

Take care and stay safe.

                              TTFN                                 Pam