Recipes from my Suffolk Kitchen

Friday, 24 March 2017

Suddenly Reality Hits

 We've been going along here as if nothing unusual is about to happen, the steroids have given him more energy than he has had for a while and lots of jobs have been done but we haven't had time to sort out so many things.... car repairs, garage roof repair, I've not even learned how to use the ride-on mower yet. The sale of the bungalow is almost complete but not quite, Colin's County Council work pension is being processed but hasn't come through yet. So many things  in the pipeline.

 Then we got the phone call to say Colin has been approved to have the new cancer tablets...... next week. These are some that have only become available this year and haven't even finished their trials. They've been cleared for use with CLL lymphoma in the States with good results but not tested fully on Mantle Cell lymphoma, which is what Colin has but the drug company are permitting them to be used under compassionate licence.

Suddenly we realise this is real, make or break. These tablets proved fatal to some people when they were first trialed as they were given in a high dose straight away. Now they introduce them slowly with lots of fluids to take away the toxins, so patients are monitored closely for several days, just in case.
He's signed the consent forms, one of the list of possible effects which we have to understand is Death.
If they work he then has to go through the donor stem cell treatment later with all the risks of rejection.

 
As they say.......... OMG

Back when I've got my head round the implications
Sue

The Lark by E Nesbit



 

 Another treat from Dean Street Press arrived a few weeks ago. One of their Furrowed Middlebrow reprints for me to read and review.

All I knew about E Nesbit was that she had written 'The Railway Children' and 'Five Children and It', but she also wrote several books for adults, this one being the last, written in 1922.

The Lark isn't about birds but the word is used in the old fashioned sense - fun and an adventure and charts the story of two girls finding a way of earning a living after their guardian has used all their inheritance for himself....... leaving them with a cottage and £500.

Jane and Lucilla are still in school - aged about 18 when they get the letter from their guardian telling them to leave school, but the story had started 6 years earlier. Jane braves a woodland at midnight to chant a magical spell  found in a book which is supposed to show her the man she will marry. By chance  John Rochester, a young man (but several years older than Jane) is walking through the wood and stumbles on Jane but quickly leaves when he realises that she has seen him.

Fast forward 6 years - after WW1- John Rochester just happens to be the nephew of an elderly man who owns a huge empty house close to the cottage the girls are living in.

The story is quite light and fluffy, everything goes well, (except for the Paying Guests!) they sell flowers, get permission to use the garden of the big house, then one of the rooms and then the whole house, find a gardener by chance and rescue him from poverty. Gladys, their favourite maid from the boarding school comes to hep them out - adding many tales of all her young men! There are some lovely descriptions of the house and furnishings and many humorous bits that made me smile.

Happy ending of course for Jane and Mr Rochester ( although they are totally unlike their Charlotte Bronte namesakes) but we never really know the end of the story for the others.

An enjoyable read that I would never had known about without Scott at Furrowed Middlebrow and his collaboration with Dean Street Press.

Thank you for all the comments about the WI on my last post.

Back Soon
Sue



Wednesday, 22 March 2017

W.I.

Image result for W.I.

 I'm not a great joiner of clubs or similar things, especially during winter when venturing out in the dark and cold doesn't appeal.
 So although I loved my 20+ years as a Cub Scout Leader before smallholding and my several years as Membership bod for the Suffolk Smallholders Society once we had the smallholding, I've not done anything lately.
Now there is more time and I really ought to make an effort. Colin's sister H happens to be President of a WI two villages away from where we live now and there was really no excuse not to go and visit a meeting. Last time I was a WI member was back in 1991 and I used to go with several neighbours and we enjoyed the meetings, it was a big group.......... about 30 or so members of all ages and  always interesting.
The group I visited on Monday is much smaller, less than a dozen ladies so H was pleased to have numbers boosted by one plus the subject was Bookbinding and you know about me and books!

The speaker was a neighbour of a member and had never done a talk before and then the overhead projector broke down just as he was about to start, but he did very well and had brought along old books and tools of the trade. He gave a brief account of the history of books and then described how he repaired damaged books and made things like record books for private hospitals. Then we all crowded around his lap-top to see the small photos which we should have seen enlarged.

After the speaker came delicious cakes and coffee, the members take it in turns to make refreshments, two people each month.

I just went as a visitor this time but will probably join properly next month. My only problem is that I don't really want to go on the theatre outings and other things organised so I hope that doesn't matter.

Back Soon
Sue

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Another Jug..........Now How Did That Happen..............

Early Sunday morning I had to go to Number 9 to see if the boiler service receipt was in the draw with cooker instructions and other things left for the new owners. The buyers solicitors said that I'd only included a 2015 service report, I'm sure I sent the 2016 one to our solicitors, but luckily had kept a copy of the receipt.
On the way back I "happened" to call in at our nearest car boot sale which has just restarted after the winter
 Not many booters there yet but I came away with these and yes, that is another little jug. Interestingly this one, which was £1, says "Tonquin" Staffordshire  Dinnerware  by Clarice Cliff on the base but its very unlike the bright geometric designs normally associated with Clarice Cliff ,  just a pink and white pastoral scene,transfer printed. Also in the picture a big punnet of mushrooms for £1, more Sudoku books for 50p each, Mangetout seeds 50p each and old book from the 1920s also 50p and in the front a new padded gilet/waistcoat for me to wear when working outside also a 50p bargain.


Did you know Ostara or Eostre is one of the names given to the Vernal or Spring Equinox. Named after a goddess of spring and new life and presumably turning into Easter as Christianity spread.
That was yesterday, which was not at all spring-like.Grey and windy in the morning and pouring rain in the afternoon. Before it rained I managed to finish the last bit of weeding on the soft fruit bed so it's all ready for planting the gooseberry bushes when they arrive.
Col went online to source some Niger seed and suet fat balls for the birds and with the order came a plant catalogue. Now I'm seriously tempted by their offer of  "spend £25 and get a lemon tree for £1.99". I could get an apricot tree, or 2, like we had at the smallholding. So deliciously tempting!


Back Soon
Sue

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Firewood

Seems odd to be talking about cutting down trees a few days after blogging about planting a mini wood but cutting down trees is what we were doing on Saturday.
When Mr and Mrs F bought the additional bit of land in the 1980s they planted Poplars down one side and Willow and Ash down the other.
The Ash were specially planted to provide firewood as they can be coppiced and will regrow from the base(and burn green too of course) although most of them hadn't been cut at all. Several of the willows had branches sticking out into the field and they can break easily so needed tidying. Colin wanted to make sure I would be OK for firewood next winter just in case, so organised an old friend from his council days to come with Big chainsaw and Giant wood chipper and he took down 6 small Ash trees and several willow branches. Luckily my sister and brother-in-law had said they would help so we were able to tackle the clearing and sorting of logs and brushwood while L did the cutting down.
 I'd intended to take a photo but of course we were too busy to remember!
After  5 hours work we were left with heaps of willow and Ash,wood chips and a big heap of twiggy bits for kindling.

Lunchtime Sunday after a lot had already been shifted and split
Then on Sunday Cols brother came with the log splitter, which looks a Heath Robinson affair but is very effective, and I forgot photos again until after lunchtime.


 By lunch time Sunday we had a good heap stored and even more by the time we finished  at half past two.
There are still several piles of smaller logs on the field which only need cutting - not splitting, and we hope to get them done early in the week. We are just glad that the doctor put Colin back on steroids again which has given him a bit more energy!
 It was very satisfying to be able to get outside and do some "proper" work.

Thank you to lots of new visitors commenting, sorry I didn't get round to replying.......slightly busy!

Back in a jiffy
Sue

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Gorgeous Granddaughter

Photos of  Grandson Jacob featured last week when he stayed here and to redress the balance here is Florence when we went to babysit while Youngest Daughter had a filling at the dentists


She was in happy mode and conveniently went to sleep just after daughter left and woke again about 10 minutes before she came back! An easy baby sitting job. We couldn't stay long as it was the first day since we've been here that the library van came round, had to cheat and take the car, as my bike needed pumping up and I'm also really out of cycling practice. The Mobile library stop is a mile and a half away, but completely flat and open to windy weather so not the best for biking as you have to pedal all the way. I really need to get fit again after a year in a small bungalow with shops just round the corner.

Thank you to new followers who've found me here at the end of a lane and thank you for comments too.

Back Soon
Sue


Friday, 17 March 2017

A Little Cream Jug Comes Home

When we went back to number 9 to do the cleaning we happened to pop into our favourite charity shop (Emmaus - as mentioned HERE ) where they also do coffee and toasted teacake for £1.75 per person.
I'm afraid I couldn't resist this little cream (Mason's) jug to add to my collection and these HOME cubes had to come with me too.
The hyacinths were growing right underneath a shrub in the garden - completely hidden, so I cut them and popped them in the bottle from the last Emmaus visit.
 Eventually I hope to get a new bigger, proper dresser with room to display some of my jugs, most are still in a box along with all my vases........waiting.

Thank you for all the comments about footpaths and woodland, and for reassurance that footpaths are not always a problem, personally I'd rather have a footpath up the lane than a motorway!

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Sue

Thursday, 16 March 2017

The birthday wood, fruit planting and sorting

The Birthday Wood will be here, at the end of our little meadow

A public footpath runs through, so the wood will be enjoyed by some local dog walkers. We don't see many people except on Sundays. At the moment they walk to the end of our meadow, find how muddy the farmers field is at the end and come back again. Later when the field dries out they can carry on across and round and back on another country lane.
 I never thought we would chose to live in a house  in a lane with a footpath running by but the rest of our garden is tucked away out of sight behind the cottage so the footpath isn't a problem.

The soft fruit bed (one white currant, a few raspberry canes, a dead gooseberry bush and a couple of other currants - colour unknown) is in the process of being weeded and after our son had helped dig out a huge nettle clump we had room to get the Poundland/ Wilkinsons raspberry canes into the ground. A couple had given up the ghost but the rest showed signs of leafy life. Had I have known we had a dead gooseberry I would have got one from Wilkinsons or Aldi earlier in the year when they had them for sale for a couple of quid!

Son was here to help sort out the might-come-in-handy-but-now-probably-not smallholder things that have been stored in the horsebox trailer for the last 15 months. Col decided what he wanted to keep, son shifted and I wrote a list of everything ready to take  to the Auction House Collective sale in Mid May.

There is some news on the health issues, but we are waiting for results and authorization so no timeline yet. Meanwhile we just take a day at a time and make the most of him feeling not to bad.

Back Shortly
Sue

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Some Crime Writers.....................

.......................manage a book a year and become very well known.

Others however, take 18 years to write 5 books and are less well known so you might not have come across Rennie Airth.
 book cover of 

The Death of Kings

  The first novel in his Inspector John Madden series, River of Darkness was published in 1999. In this 5th novel,The Death of Kings,although happily retired from the police force, John Madden is persuaded to investigate the case afresh.

On a hot summer day in 1938, a beautiful actress is murdered on the grand Kent estate of Sir Jack Jessup, close friend of the Prince of Wales. The arrest of an ex-convict and his subsequent confession swiftly bring the case to a close, but in 1949, the reappearance of a jade necklace raises questions about the murder. Was the man convicted and executed the decade before truly guilty?

Well written, best to start with the first to find out about the characters.


The January Man by Christopher Somerville is a book of walks in Britain that started by sending me on a google hunt to find out about the song which gave the Author the idea.

Turns out it's well known by everyone except me..................there are dozens of versions on U tube.

Product Details

The walks are inspired by the song. Month by month, season by season and region by region Somerville walks routes that remind him of his childhood and his father.
Starting in the winter floodlands of the River Severn in January and taking him far north to the Island of Foula in the Shetland Isles, St Cuthberts Way in Northumberland and east to The Norfolk coast in October. He describes the history, wildlife, landscapes and people he meets or remembers.

A lovely descriptive book. 

These two and others read recently have been added to my 2017 Books Read list.

Back Again Soon
Sue



Tuesday, 14 March 2017

New Header Photo and Free seeds

Changed the header photo as the picture of the cottage was taken when it still belonged to Mrs F and I don't want to take another now without leaves on the trees and hedges. The postbox is at the road end of our lane and is no good for posting anything much bigger than a postcard!

If you take out a subscription for Kitchen Garden Magazine you can get 3 months of magazines for £5 and 20 "free" packets of seeds. All you have to do is cancel the Direct Debit before they sign you up for another 6 months.

I've done this before and with a seed tin full of mostly old  seeds and a garden waiting it seemed just the time to do it again.

They arrived................all sorts.........some useful and some I don't need which I shall pass on to my sister if she wants them or brother-in-law or a friend. The only problem is I'm still waiting for the first magazine to arrive and there is no contact address or phone number on their website. So if anyone has a copy of the magazine laying about could you leave a comment with their phone number.......many thanks.

I love seed packets...........the promise of food from the garden....nothing better

Monday afternoon and I finally got a chance to get seeds sown. Into the electric propagator went chilli peppers, sweet peppers, cucumber - two sorts, tomatoes - two different plum variety, aubergines and basil. On the bench without heat are lettuce and leeks. Some old packets were only a year or so out of date so I've tried them.........sowing more than  I need just in case.
 

We have a little bit of money left on a Wyevale card and a voucher off compost so will detour there on the way to hospital to pick up multi purpose compost.

I keep forgetting to say welcome and thank you to all the followers who have switched over from the old blog. Hi to all 83...........already! Maybe a while before I get back to the 400+ !!

Back Soon
Sue



Monday, 13 March 2017

Just two more photos...........

 ............ of the little fella
Mrs F said "shall I leave the swing?, there's a baby seat for it in the garage". "Yes Please" we said.

I think he enjoyed Grandad pushing him on the swing!

Back to number 9 this morning to clean up. It looks so small! The estate agents rung to let us know the sale is still going through, searches are being done. We will only need to go back once more to read the meters.

Sun is shining and I need to sow seeds in the greenhouse.

Thank you for all the comments over the last few days.
Back Soon
Sue

Sunday, 12 March 2017

60th Birthday Bash

Colin's 60th and he decided it would be lovely to get together with his cousins and their families, most of whom he hadn't seen for years. So we got son and daughter-in-law, who are top organisers, to find a venue. Col contacted everyone and a big invitation went out.
Over 50 of us gathered at Debenham Community Centre yesterday afternoon for a buffet and birthday cake, lots of chat and looking at old photos. The first time ever that Colin, his brother and sister and all his cousins had been together in one place for photos.

Then of course we had to do our family
Two of my cousins came too and we copied a photo from many, many, MANY (about 55) years ago when Mum and Dad, Auntie and Uncle and us four girls had holidays together
Our eldest, our son-in-law and little Jacob came to stay in our new home for the weekend so photos of him too, he is crawling now so had a good time scooting about on our living room floor and looking at the toys we had collected for him.

Daughter in law had found a local bakery to bake a cake but slightly under estimated how many one cake would feed and ordered two. We now have a huge iced sponge here which will keep us in cake for several months!

Everyone asked Colin what he would like for a present and he decided to ask for some money to buy trees for our new little meadow which will turn into a " Colin's  Birthday Wood". A lasting legacy for people to enjoy.

Any volunteers to plant a couple of hundred trees next Autumn?
Back Soon
Sue



Friday, 10 March 2017

Connected

We have internet at last. Would you believe the first hub thingy they sent was faulty so we had to wait for a replacement and we now are linked up again. In the end it was easier to go with BT for a year as half the equipment for fibre connection was already here. Blinkin' expensive, but we needed to get online ASAP for ordering tablets etc.

Thank you all so much for all the kind wishes. Each day here, so far, Colin has felt OK and we have been able to get some jobs done. He is at hospital again next week for bone marrow sampling and blood tests which will tell the doctors how things are going and how fast too. The doctor was planning to get funding for another type of tablet that's available but hasn't been used much. We don't know what side effects it will have. After that there is only the treatment that has been trialed in the US and is being tried here but only in Plymouth and would mean staying in Plymouth for several weeks for observation................. if he is a suitable guinea-pig. We are keeping positive...........mostly........ and can only hope for the best and we're still glad we moved here with a bit of space and things to do to keep us busy.

We had a bit of luck with finding someone to do decorating. Col asked the Estate Agents if they could recommend anyone locally and by coincidence the father of one of the girls there was just finishing decorating their office and was free to do 3 days for us straight away. He is actually over retirement age but likes to keep busy and picks and chooses. Knowing our circumstances he said he would do the spare room and then see what next. I think he only works for people that pass his test! As soon as he found out we were Suffolk people and not really incomers he was much friendlier!! In 38 years and 7 homes this is the first time we've paid someone to paint a room for us.........Ho Hum.
So spare room all prepared for the Surrey family to arrive tonight ready for tomorrow which is Colin's 60th birthday. ( Photos will follow!).

My LPG Rangemaster cooker is on order, but won't be here until early April and a fitter is organised to do the pipework. We need an electrician to do the electrical wiring for the ignition.
Colin has got a quote for resurfacing the track up to our cottage which is full of huge potholes as nothing has been done to it for years. There are 2 other houses who will put some money towards it too - hopefully. Next weekend, all being well, a friend of Cols will come and cut down some Willows and Col's brother and his mate will bring a log splitter so they can be cut and stored. There are a few small Ash trees that can be coppiced and used straight away. So it's all go here.

This morning we have sunshine at last and spent a while weeding the emptiest of the vegetable beds. It's now been covered with plastic to help it dry out a bit ready for sowing some seeds in a week or two. I haven't had a chance to get into the greenhouse yet to start in there but will soon.
In the ditch down the side of the field we found an old metal dustbin which Mrs F had been using  as an incinerator, the wind must have blown it off the field. It's perfect for forcing the very small Rhubarb crown   that I found....with great excitement!........ in among weeds on one of the other beds.

 Another veg bed had been left to revert to grass so Col has sprayed that off and we've covered with plastic and if he is well enough in a week or two he'll get the rotovator out and turn it into a bed for potatoes..........if the machine will start after standing around unused for nearly 2 years.

 It's lovely to move to a new garden and see what's growing. My favourite things that have appeared so far are these very dark Hellebores...........terrible photo but you have to get down low to see them as they insist on hanging their heads. There are white and light pink clumps too.

I shall now go and read all the comments and other blogs that I've missed in the last 10 days.

Back with more photos soon
Sue

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

5 Little Fruit Trees and other stuff

But I can't remember what they are, I'm sure Mrs F told us that there is a plum, an apple and a pear
but the other two?

 We shall wait and see in a couple of months when the leaves appear.

Meanwhile here I am sitting in Debenham Library using their free wifi on my new laptop because not only did the dongle not work but when we do get a BT connection the storm last week put down phone lines so we'll still be without internet until they get it fixed.

In other news............on the health front ........Not good. We went to the hospital and Col's blood test showed the tablets are not working. To put it frankly we are running out of options and things are looking bleak. There are some new tablets - unlicensed and being trialled in Plymouth that might work. So the planned donor stem cell treatment isn't possible at the moment and although Col is feeling OK he could rapidly go downhill as white blood cells increase.

We have to look on the hopeful side and are trying to get things done at the cottage as quickly as possible. We were lucky in finding someone to start painting straight away (didn't realise how dirty and tatty the rooms were) but I'll be cooker-less for several weeks while we wait for the LPG cooker. We have picnic gas rings and microwave so will survive! Outside we have tidied some stuff away into garage and workshop and hope to get someone to sort trees that need felling and cutting to store for firewood.


So apologies for not replying to comments as I've not been able to see them with time to read. Once we get connected at the cottage I'll read them all properly.

Back Again as soon as possible



Sunday, 5 March 2017

Is this the poshest greenhouse...................

............................that I've ever had?

Oh yes!
and a cold frame adjoining and a water butt attached. I shall be out there sowing those seeds ASAP.

Back soon
Sue

Friday, 3 March 2017

No Land Line

We thought we would try something radical............well kind of.............No land line.

Except the dongle we had wouldn't work at the cottage.

I'm typing this at the hospital while Col has his regular blood test.

We're going to get another dongle ASAP, failing that we'll have to resort to expensive BT.

Thank you for dozens of welcomes.
I have some posts in drafts so will schedule a couple.

Back eventually

Sue


Thursday, 2 March 2017

We've Arrived

A new blog for a new home..............................seemed like a good idea. 


So what sort of home is our cottage at the end of a lane?
Well, part is very old, but most is much newer and it has all the things we would choose for a home.... ..........a utility room and porch at the kitchen door, a downstairs loo as well as an upstairs bathroom, a wood-burner in the living room and a conservatory. Bedrooms for us and visitors and room for my craft things............and space for bookshelves of course.

The inside doors are all solid wood with Suffolk latches but the windows and outside doors have been replaced and are double glazed
There's a greenhouse and a garden with 4 vegetable beds that just need weeding.
Some fruit trees and bushes and space for more
A garage and a workshop for Col to keep all his might-come-in-handy stuff and wide open field views.
A small meadow surrounded with trees  will provide us with firewood and then we will plant more and fill up the space to make a wood.


Pity it's so scruffy and everywhere needs painting
and we haven't got a cooker until we get the pipework done for an LPG range.
One bedroom has an old random shower cubical in the corner, so  we'll need to find a builder to make us an en-suite.

There's enough to keep us busy for as long as we like and one of the first things we did after Storm Doris was to pick up all the twigs from the Ash tree ...........free kindling wood.
It felt right to be doing something with a purpose after a year marking time in town.

(Storm Doris also knocked a tile off the garage, pushed the Bay Tree over and broke its huge terracotta pot and put the electric and phone connection off at the cottage.........but not in town).

We've had questioning looks when we've told people we are moving out to the country when we don't know what the future holds health wise for Colin.

But I'd rather be here than in a small bungalow in town.


Thank you for all the best wishes for the move and thank you for putting up with my moans as we ploughed through all the hold-ups.



Hope you enjoy reading the new blog, which will probably be just like the old one!
Back Soon
Sue