Wednesday 31 May 2017

Up the Lane on the Last day of May

All lovely and green, but the big change is that we had the lane resurfaced. It shook both cars to needing repairs within two months and nothing had been done to it for more than 10 years. We are sharing the cost with one neighbour, the other lot reckon they can't afford their share and their house is up for sale anyway and no-one lives in the 4th house - it's been empty since it was built 15 years ago - how weird is that and what a waste of a house.

 Dog Roses are just appearing, they are pink as normal but appear white don't know why

 Elderflowers are late this year

 Comfrey growing wild here, I might cut some to add to the compost heap

 Flags on the edge of the drainage ditch.

 I'd like to have a picture of  mother Mallard and her 5 ducklings here but they zoom off at great speed into hiding whenever anyone goes too close.

 And finally the footpath sign pointing the way down our meadow.

Another trip up the lane  on the last day of June

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Tuesday 30 May 2017

Back Again

Not that I've been anywhere
Just fell in a black hole over Bank Holiday Weekend. Colin was in hospital from Friday night until Monday lunchtime. I went and saw granddaughter but otherwise couldn't be bothered to do anything.

Today I've started painting the kitchen and turning the ceiling from grubby grey to bright white has cheered me up.

So onward we go........................

Our flower garden here is a joy

I've never - in all our houses - 7  before here- moved in somewhere with such a lovely established flower garden.
There's a white Peony under the front window........gorgeous

The biggest area of flowers is this quarter circle - seen from upstairs . It's not a good picture as it was so sunny (and we don't often say that in this country!)

There's a narrow slab path through the middle making it easier to reach everything. Giving height are a Rosemary, and Sage, a standard Lavender and a tall perennial which will have yellow flowers but I'll have to track down it's name.The big white splodge is snow-in-summer and the are small sedums at the corners.

I really shouldn't feel down in the dumps with a garden like this.

Last day of the month tomorrow and I shall be taking photos of the lane again, lots of changes to see this month.


Friday 26 May 2017

How Does Our Garden Grow.................. Part 2....... Fruit

We arrived to find 5 trees in the orchard and a few bushes in a soft fruit bed and a small rhubarb plant among the weeds.

The trees are a plum, two pear and two apple, one of which is a family tree with two or perhaps 3 varieties grafted onto one tree.

The fruit bed had one white currant, two other un-identified currant bushes, a dead gooseberry bush and a few raspberry canes.

We've planted more rhubarb crowns, two gooseberry bushes, the cheap blackcurrant bush and the bargain raspberry canes from Poundland and Wilkinsons and six strawberry plants from Aldi. In pots I have a small Apricot tree and a patio pear tree, both are alive but no fruit this year.

Apples looking as if they might be a  good crop
Pears look promising
Soft fruit bed. A few raspberries and currants from the established canes/bushes this year. More next year we hope Just 2 of the very cheap raspberry canes didn't survive. The largest currant bush - back left, colour unknown, has No berries at all, I'll cut it back and give it a chance next year. I need to find a way of covering the raspberries soon. There is netting left behind by Mrs F so it will be some sort of makeshift thing. Not a bit  like the huge walk in fruit cage we had at the smallholding.

The strawberry plants are in pots and will give us a small bowl of berries soon. I want to sort out a proper strawberry bed if possible before next year - raised would be good. All the rhubarb plants are still very small, I hope they put on growth for next year.
Both the Fig (£3.99 Wikinsons) and the Grapevine (£1.99 QD) have suddenly put on a foot of new growth in the last fortnight and even the mini lemon tree - as mentioned the other day - has suddenly sprouted a new leaf.

This is next door's elderly cat, she removed herself from the corner of the soft fruit bed quite quickly  when she realised I had crept up on her!

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Thursday 25 May 2017

A Very Quiet Reading Day

I had a quiet day yesterday.

Colin was asleep in bed most of the day as the antibiotics took effect making him feel sick, hopefully before feeling better, and there was nothing drastic that needed doing indoors so after  a bit of weeding (and despite being covered with a net frame and having fleece over the edges, something has got in and ruined a lot of the beetroot plants seedlings Grrrrr!) I settled down with a non-fiction book for a change.

Terms and Conditions; Life in Girls' Boarding Schools 1939 -1979

The Preface is by writer Nicola Shulman - The Marchioness of Normanby and as you can see- in tiny print on the paper wrapper -  she says it is "The funniest book you'll read all year". Fascinating yes but  I found it a sad book mostly full of stories of the privations suffered by  girls in various schools - large and small. Even some of the better, happier schools left the girls with a poor education.
I've mentioned before how few books I had at home so missed out on reading all the stories by Enid Blyton, Angela Brazil and Elinor Brent Dyer written for girls about exciting adventures in boarding schools. This book makes me glad I didn't read them and beg to go to boarding school, not that I would have been able to go anyway!
Post War at Cheltenham Ladies College sounds particularly awful.

Even though I've never been to a a boarding school I can relate to some of the stories about education received during the '60's. I went to a small Grammar School where we were divided in the second year into "streams" - S = Special, this group had the best teachers and were destined for university, G = General - that's where I was, not particularly good, not extra poor then there was the R group R = Remainder - how sickening that even in 1970 there was a class called The Leftovers. I don't know how many of the R class went to uni but I do know that only about half of the G class did. The rest of us left at age 16 after O levels. No encouragement to stay either from home or school. In fact there was virtually no contact between school and home at all, just like the girls left at boarding schools often for months (or more if their parents were overseas) at a time without any visits home. But at least P.E. and Games was only a couple of hours a week, none of our teachers were sadistic and we all got to go home at the end of the day.

This little  book is well researched, there is a list in the back thanking over 100 "old girls" that the author spoke to, and is easily read in a day. A little glimpse into the lives of the privileged or maybe not so privileged few. A lovely way to spend a quiet day.
Thank you to whoever mentioned this on a blog - or I would never have know about it.

Also on the subject of keeping quiet. I don't live in a bubble. I do know about the crazy happenings in the world, I do care but  just choose not to mention them on my blog. There is enough talk elsewhere.

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Wednesday 24 May 2017

Time on my Hands ? No. Just Crime in my Hands

I've read 5 books in the last couple of weeks and all were crime fiction.

Deborah Crombie - Garden of Lamentations.
 This is the 17th and latest in a series of modern crime fiction. Another author from the States who writes crime set in this country. It features Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James, a married couple who both work for the police in London.

Agatha Christie - The Listerdale Mystery . A collection of 12 of her early short stories, very light reading and some are odd rather than good.

Alys Clare  - The Devil's Cup. The 17th and final book in the Hawkenlye Mystery Crime series. Set mainly in Kent during the 12th Century. I've loved these books which mix history, magic and mystery at a time when some people still follow pagan ways. At the beginning these were set in Hawkenlye Abbey and feature Abbess Helewise and Josse d' aquin with the Great Forest of The Weald of Kent as a backdrop. Although still featuring the abbey the later books involve the younger members of the families and move across Europe as far as Jerusalem. It really is best to start with the first to enjoy the story developing. Read about them on Fantastic Fiction HERE

Dorothy L Sayers - In the Teeth of the Evidence. Early short stories and like the Agatha Christie mentioned above they are very light reading, with crimes quickly solved.

Kate Ellis - The Mermaids Scream. This is the 21st novel in her police/crime/history/archaeology  series featuring D.I Wesley Peterson and set in Dartmouth Devon which she calls Tradmouth (and Totnes is thinly disguised as Neston with Kingswear becoming Queenswear, so I don't know really why she bothered to change the names!) They are a good read if a little predictable now and each time I'm not sure if I should bother reading but always do. As with all books featuring the same characters it's best to start with the first which was "The Merchants House" published in 1998

I've got several non-fiction to read now for a change although the latest in the Jacqueline Winspear Maisie Dobbs series is shouting "Read Me" and I know it will be brilliant.

Thank you for comments over the last couple of days.

We are still waiting for the call for Colin to go back into hospital to re-start the chemo tablets, hope the smaller dose tablets arrive soon and a bed becomes available........ he is losing energy fast as the lymphoma builds up again. We had to go to the day-centre yesterday for blood tests and he is on anti-biotics again as a precaution. I do hope he's not stuck in hospital for Bank Holiday weekend, that will be frustrating,  a repeat of last year. Hey Ho ......... all jolly good fun - (NOT!)

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Tuesday 23 May 2017

T'was a Sunny Sunday...........

............................. so as usual I was up and out early to a car boot sale.
Once again I  could have easily stocked a dozen playrooms for a dozen grandchildren but decided against and came home with a brand new fitted sheet for £1, card making bits for £2 and a bottle of "bubble stuff" for 25p.

 Colin wore himself out transplanting a few lettuce seedlings from under the plastic cloche tunnel into the salad barrels . It's frightening how little energy he has.
 After the boot sale I still had plenty of time to make a Sunday lunch for us, A, our youngest, and B her OH and of course their gorgeous Florence.
Poor Florence had had a cold all last week which is on it's way out but leaving her a bit clogged up in her throat and not very happy. Even blowing bubbles for her and then a go on the swing didn't cheer her up for long and she just wanted to chew everything rather than play............teeth on the way I guess.

While the family were here we got B to cut down a dead willow in the lane opposite the house. It had been coppiced at some time so no thick branches. He moved the cut down stuff  to near the workshop where I'll sort it into large bits that will need more chainsaw cutting, small bits I can do with the loppers, some bits for pea sticks and the thinnest twiggy bits for the bonfire heap.

After our visitors had headed home Col found a place to sit out sheltered from sun and wind and I finished reading another library book.

If only all Sundays were Sun Days it  would be lovely.

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Monday 22 May 2017

Friday and Saturday

 I picked Colin up from hospital  Friday lunchtime, he is OK except for being very tired and no energy at all. Last Tuesday evening he started to have a bad reaction to the Chemo tablets, which were restarted at the higher rate he was on when they were stopped 3 weeks ago. The "joy" of being a guinea pig taking drugs that have hardly been used before means that the doctors are not sure how patients will react. Nurses on the oncology ward called in a doctor over night Tuesday and he was monitored closely, given various things to counteract the toxins  and eventually sent to Critical Care but by then things were stabilising. Blood levels quickly picked up again and as he was off antibiotics they said he could come home for the weekend and then will go back in again during this week when the Venetoclax will start again but back at the low dose, he'll be in for just a couple of nights.............we hope.

He was  pleased to get out into the garden for a while in the sun on Saturday morning to see what I had been up to in his absence. While he watched on I weeded the beetroot and raised the wire mesh over them and took the fleece off, then pulled the long grass and buttercups from round the edges of the beds. He then spent the rest of the day with his feet up in the conservatory, getting some much needed vitamin D and sleep.
 I  eventually managed to get the small mower going - with the miracle that is Easy Start - and did a bit of grass cutting around the beds and in the bits that are too small for the big ride-on mower. Then it rained...........again. After weeks without we are suddenly getting Too Much. So the ideal time for a bit of card making.

Cards for men were what I needed, but after fiddling about I only finished two and half finished two more
I'm seem to be stuck on 3D decoupage at the moment, it doesn't take a lot of brain power!

Thank you for comments about the unusual and expensive fruit. White blackberries certainly don't appeal to me at all.

Back in a jiffy

Saturday 20 May 2017

Could Be Expensive

In the post the other day was a small catalogue from Marshalls -The Vegetable and Fruit Company. I love browsing through plant and seed catalogues so settled down for a read.
Looking at some of the prices I realised just how much a person could spend if tempted to buy some of the new things that have been developed.

(All pictures from The Marshalls May Catalogue and website, and they are not paying me to mention them ...unfortunately!)

White Blackberries £19.98 for 3 plants

Blackberry Polarberry Plants x3

My thought "Why white blackberries?

A large supposedly extra prolific Blueberry
Blueberry Bluegold
 £12.99 for one plant

To go with the white blackberry you could have a black raspberry
Potted Raspberry Black Jewel x1 That's another £9.99

They've come up with a type of Rhubarb that doesn't go dormant in the summer
Rhubarb Livingstone -Plants 2ltr pot Rhubarb Livingstone £14.99

A standard Gooseberry so you don't have to bend to pick them
Gooseberry Hinnonmaki Red - Standard Tree  That will be £22.99 please

And that's just for starters.

 Then there is a lemon tree for £19.99 but it is between 3 and 4 foot tall which is probably more likely to produce fruit sooner than my lemon "tree" which came as an extra for £2.99 when  I bought other things from some random garden catalogue earlier this year.
My "tree" is all of 4 inches tall! and if I can keep it alive ............doubtful............. it might produce fruit in about 10 years time!

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  ( Edited in to say that because some people had problems reading my blog because adding  a Wordpress blog belonging to my penfriend onto my reading list somehow pushed my blog to a strip down the side, must be something to do with her picture. So apologies D I've had to take your blog off the side)

Friday 19 May 2017

How Does Our Garden Grow........... Part 1.... Vegetables

The first lettuce from under a plastic cloche (Mrs F left 2 tunnel cloches here which have been very useful) was cut a few days ago, so that's lettuces, radishes and chives to eat - not quite self-sufficiency but better than nothing. In a year or two there should also be asparagus (we planted 10 crowns and see signs that 8 are alive) and rhubarb at this time of year.

The runner beans have begun to climb the canes and I've also planted out my climbing French beans and put a little fence made of sacking around them to keep the wind off until they get going as I did with the runners.  Three courgette plants are under a mesh frame to keep next door's cat from laying on them...........she prefers our garden to theirs for some reason. Polly rarely lays about outside, preferring a bed or a chair indoors! There are several rows of beetroot under fleece for the same reason.............and to stop birds pulling them up. The first lot sown were sparse so gaps have been filled with new seeds which are now all germinating.
Our 20 potatoes plants are all looking healthy. They were all under fleece protecting them from the late frosts the other week but I've pulled the fleece back to slow the second-earlies down a bit.
Then under the other little polythene tunnel cloche are the chard and mange-tout peas with room for more later in the season. I started the peas in pots in the greenhouse in the hope they will survive all pests. I've got a heap of sticks there ready for them to clamber over when I take the cloche off.
16  Brussel sprout plants arrived in the post yesterday (Yes I've Cheated) 8 for us and 8 for Col's brother as that number is the cheapest way to buy and we don't need them all. So a while after the top photo was taken I was outside planting them and had to take another photo.

Mrs F left several wooden frames covered with wire netting and also lots of clay pots, and that's how I've covered things...........using the pots to support the frames. The sprout plants also have fleece over the frame to shade them until they get established. (The house in the picture is next door and is up for sale...........for £100,000 more than they paid for it 18 months ago! I know they had a new kitchen and bathroom, but good grief, things haven't gone up that much). There is space for another tripod of Climbing French beans, runner beans  and for 8 Purple Sprout Broccoli plants which will arrive in July. They will be our only brassica plants, being the things that produce the most from least space. Sadly no room for cauliflowers, calabrese or cabbage.

On the edge of the driveway, so they can trail without getting in the way, are three squash plants which I put in 3 tyres filled with soil and compost. Each tyre is sitting on some material stuff we found in the workshop, it lets water through but not the soil. I hope when the squash have finished I'll be able to clear away the tyres and drag the soil on the cloth stuff across to the veg beds - that's my plan anyway. To keep the plants from being blown about I pushed a tile upright on the side of the prevailing wind.

Into the greenhouse and there I have some Basil, 5 plum tomato and 4 cherry tomato plants and 4 cucumber plants, although I shall only keep 3 as there isn't room for more.........and I've run out of big pots anyway... ......the greenhouse has a solid floor so no borders to plant in.
 On the staging on the left I've got 4 aubergines and several pepper plants - hopefully more sweet peppers  than chili peppers but I'm not sure as some didn't get labelled properly (oops). Two sowings of leeks eventually produced a few seedlings and I've potted 2 dozen into bigger pots with more to do later and I've also just sown more runner beans.  There are a couple of spare courgette and squash plants.......just in case.......... and last but not least the fig tree which is looking well and my £1.99 grapevine - which I picked up from QD in Stowmarket a few weeks ago.

It's been an interesting challenge to work out what not to bother with in the limited space and we may regret something and change plans next year or we might find we have more room for things this year and pop in a few extras later. Actually it might be interesting to do a post on what we're not growing and why .............well, interesting for me!

I've just found my penfriend from Michigan has a blog HERE

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PS Thanks for nice comments yesterday

Thursday 18 May 2017

The First One We've Seen Here............

............but I bet it's not the last.
A bushy tailed pest but awfully cute with it. Since I took this photo a week or so ago he/she has managed to prise the bottom off two peanut feeders so I'm not putting any out at the moment until we can get a squirrel proof one......if there is such a thing!

Thank you for all the comments yesterday. It's specially interesting to hear from other WI members about their meetings and with all WIs discussing resolutions this month it's good to compare thoughts. As for that resolution on being lonely............ I'm not often lonely now and never when the weather is sunny! There was a time when I felt a severe sort of lonelyness but that was many years ago and was really the signs of a type of depression which I'm now treated for to combat the lack of whatever it is in the brain. I'm more fed-up than lonely with all the hospital stuff over such a long period. Then I remember that it's even worse for Colin! I know a lot of people would stop blogging with what we have going on, so I apologise if you feel I'm angling for sympathy......I'm not. I'm just telling it as it is and I keep writing because that's what I like doing.

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Wednesday 17 May 2017


May's meeting was a discussion on the Resolutions that will be voted on at National level later this year. Every year the WI's around the country are invited to put forward suggestions on what subjects  will be campaigned for during the following year.

Out of 91,000 suggestions put forward, these were the  two chosen.

( I suddenly had a thought that there might be a reason I shouldn't blog about this but as its available to anyone who looks on the NFWI website I hope it's OK)

Alleviating loneliness            

"This meeting calls on every WI and the NFWI to work alongside health and social care providers and their local community to raise awareness of the causes and impacts of loneliness, thus ensuring better identification of lonely people in order to be able to offer them the appropriate assistance and support".


Plastic Soup: Keep microplastic fibres out of our ocean            

"Microplastic fibres are shed from synthetic clothing with every wash and are the main contributors to microplastic contamination of the oceans. The NFWI calls on Government and industry to research and develop innovative solutions to this problem in order to stop the accumulation of microplastic fibres        in        our        oceans."

The president read out the information on both subjects and then we discussed them. We had to  decide how to instruct our delegate to vote. Either for or against each  subject or to leave it to their discretion after they had heard more of the debate at the National meeting.

I really should have done some research on the subjects because I always find it difficult to take in information when being read to, preferring to read things for myself .

We discussed the fact that with funds always being cut for council health and social services was there any point in trying to work along side them as they probably wouldn't be doing anything anyway! How to identify someone who was lonely was also a point raised, not everyone wants "busybodies poking their nose in!" A fact read out was that loneliness can cost the health service more to treat than treating someone for the effects of smoking 15 cigarettes a day. 

  None of us had heard  about Plastic Soup which is different to the problems with actual plastic (bottles etc) that float around the oceans. Was there a way to capture these fibres in the washing machine so they didn't get into the water system? We all looked at the clothes we were wearing and felt guilty for fleece jackets which are made from re-cycled plastic! one of the worst things for shedding the micro-fibres.

There was too much discussion to have leave time for the quiz that one of the committee had prepared which was sad as I like a good quiz! Then it was time for coffee and cakes and home to my lonely house!! where the cat seemed pleased to see me.

Colin has gone back on the special tablets so they are keeping him in hospital for extra days to monitor him as it's over two weeks since they were stopped . The worrying thing is how quickly the signs of lymphoma returned without the tablets and how ill he is feeling now he's on them again.We both try and keep positive but it's not always easy.

 Thank you for all the comments about the garden and the aquilegia, I'm going to leave them to seed then take out the plants that are covering or too close to other things. It's lovely to have a flower garden ready made so that I just have to keep it organised. We didn't have many flowers at the smallholding, I tried to start flower gardens but too much time was always spent with animals, campsite and the vegetables and we were so dry there that water was for veg first.

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Tuesday 16 May 2017

A Surfeit of Aquilegia.........

.......................shouldn't be possible as they are very pretty, but we have so many in the flower garden out the back that they are almost hiding everything which will come later.
They must have self seeded like crazy and they're all shades of pink or purple, I think I need to remove some once they've finished flowering. There's a delphinium, a hollyhock and a hydrangea in there somewhere!

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Monday 15 May 2017


It's that C (December 25th) word again. These 2 were from a week ago and I was pleased with both items.
A Fortnum and Mason ( I assume it's genuine) basket which will become a Christmas Hamper for Sister or Sister in Law (although I really want to keep it). It was £3. The pack of two pretty notebooks was 50p and will be a draw prize for W.I.
Then on Saturday, on the way to visit Col in hospital, I called in at the giant car boot sale and spent £2 on a new doormat for the conservatory, £3 on a basket for kindling wood and £3 on a  handbag, but then when I put my stuff in the new bag I discovered the handle was coming loose - b****r!
I had checked the inside was all OK, and it looked in new condition but missed the fact that when full and held by the handle or shoulder strap all the stitching at the back of the handle was pulling away from the bag, which had torn a bit. Grrrrrrrrr hate it when I've bought  a dud and nothing to be done about it.

The visit to the small Antique and Vintage fair ( on the way to visit Colin on Sunday) yielded nothing. In fact it seemed not much more than a glorified car boot sale and it didn't help that there was a sudden downpour and half the stalls were covered up!

Not the most successful of weekends.
Ho Hum

And Col said the radish nibblers could also have been ants - I'd forgotten the problems they used to cause at the smallholding, especially in the dry soil of the polytunnels. They often spoiled the strawberries too. So ants, slugs, mice or's a wonder we get anything to eat at all. BTW Col is still in hospital, 9 days now, the infection has been fought off and he should be out in the next day or so.......we hope

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Sunday 14 May 2017

Something has nibbled.....................................

........................ my radishes!

 Just big enough to pull for my salad but they've been spoiled by mice, slugs or birds. They didn't go to waste as I cut off the manky bits and ate the middles. Now how to protect the rest of the row?

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Friday 12 May 2017

Library Book Haul and the Answer

 Lovely collection of books from the library van yesterday, most I had ordered on-line but I did pick up the cookery books off the shelf to have a look through and the Dorothy Sayers crime.
There are a couple of books about rationing which were listed in the back of "Eggs and Anarchy" the book I wrote about  HERE. I've read "Spuds,Spam and eating for Victory" before but don't have a copy on my WWII shelves. The other is called Rations - A Very Peculiar History and is actually a childrens book but I thought I'd give it a look.
 I'm most looking forward to the books by Alys Clare and Jacqueline Winspear both historical crime, one is medieval and the other set in the 1930's.
The little blue book is "Terms and Conditions; Life in Girls Boarding Schools" which I saw mentioned on some of the Book Blogs I read.
Far right........ almost chopped off the picture is "The House on an Irish Hillside", I must have heard about it somewhere.

Well, thanks to Janice who googled "aged ceramic bottle birdhouse"
 the answer to the mystery object is that's a nesting bottle for birds. Fancy that. It was once for sale in The States from Spring Hill Nursery. There should be a stick threaded through near the small bottle opening for birds to perch on.

As for Col, he is still in hospital and feeling pretty rough. The infection that made his temperature shoot up on Sunday has been difficult for them to track down. He spent from Sunday to last night on a ward they use for overflow, right at the other end of the hospital from the Oncology ward, not very convenient for the doctors and specialist nurse.They finally had room for him on Somersham ward last night. He has had saline drip, blood transfusions, antibiotics and then had to have a diuretic too, all to try and sort out the problems and despite having a fan running all the time he is always so hot.
We don't know if he'll be in all weekend, we both hope not but things don't look good.

I shall keep busy with  a boot sale, antique fair, the garden, visiting Col and all those books and of course the Highlight of the weekend is The Eurovision Song Contest!!!  I feel compelled  to watch it, don't know why because  I guess UK will be somewhere near the bottom again.

Back Again Soon

Thursday 11 May 2017

And Here's Another Weird Thing............


It was fixed to the pergola, you can see it there,

and someone asked what it was. As far as I can see it's just a decorative bottle thingy, though sister-in-law said it looked like a old fashioned  bedpan for men! Maybe it should be fixed  to have water pouring out of it over a pond?

Whatever it is it will probably be attached somewhere else when the pergola comes down, just so that in another 20 years someone can look at it and wonder what it is.

And another mystery............................I planted out some chard plants...............completely GONE! , no sign they were ever there. My guess is the pair of ducks we have around. Next planting.........and luckily I didn't tip out the rest of the seedlings..................will be covered.

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Wednesday 10 May 2017

Here's a weird thing...................

....................500 people every day, are still looking at my old blog.

Hello, "waving madly" I'm over here.............. on the new blog!

And Thanks everyone for making me regret not buying the Ladybird postcards! You are no help at all on the frugal front!!
But I forgive you.

Back Shortly

Tuesday 9 May 2017

What I Didn't Buy

I decided to go to a car-boot sale on Saturday. It was the first of the season in this venue where they only have them on the first Saturday of the month from May to September

The things I didn't buy were these.......... 100 Postcards of classic Ladybird covers in a box as the woman wouldn't drop her price from £5 ( and what would I do with 100 postcards anyway? although they looked brilliant)

Product Details

I also didn't buy a big basket for holding kindling wood for the wood-burner. It was priced up at £6 and the wooden trug we are using will do until I find something bigger but cheaper. ( SO cross that we left the perfect kindling basket at the smallholding!)

And I didn't buy a "vintage" wooden box for holding craft stuff as it was also priced  at £5.

What I did buy was a Hosta...........Purple flowers (of course - it dawned on me as I looked at them)
for  the purple bed and these
 the Vtech baby walker toy was a £2  bargain. Waste bin for my craft room 20p. New pack of Christmas Yankee Candles £2 ( will be a Christmas present), 6 small stamps for crafting were 50p the lot and the plastic box to store all my stamps and zig-zag scissors was £1.99 from a trade stand where they sell all sorts of new stuff.

On the way home I called in at the Garden Centre for compost and spotted some dark purple Salvia bedding plants to fill the gaps in my purple bed and also splashed out on a tray of mixed cut and come again salad leaves to get the half water-butt beds off to an quick start.

Plenty of  jobs to do in the garden now.......... and as I'm here on my own I'd better get on with it.

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Monday 8 May 2017

The Leaking Water Barrel

A water butt that leaks all down the side where the seam had split is useless for water BUT Col had a brain-wave and with a rest in between each part of the job he cut the barrel in half, found and cut a piece of plywood for each end, bolted the bits on and look what we have now.
Just right for cut and come again lettuce plants and other salad leaves - not far from the back door.  Brilliant, and it will free up space  for other things in the veg. beds in the garden.

It turns out that "the nasty looking vine" ( mentioned the other day as one of the things on the pergola thingy,) is actually a hop. Mrs F said it should have been a golden leaf variety but wasn't. So it will be kept  as I love the smell of dried hops.........there could be a plan for hop pillows and we have an idea for giving it something to climb over that's better than just a post.

 During yesterday morning Col turned really cold and shivery, which with him is always a bad sign, and sure enough he was running a high temperature. So a phone call to the oncology ward and he is now in hospital for a few days so they can give intravenous anti-biotics.

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Saturday 6 May 2017

Before and After

I've tackled that mess at the end of the garden
It took me almost all of yesterday morning to cut out the weed suppressant that was buried under 2+ inches of weeds beneath the pergola thing. I could then see what was supposed to be growing up the posts.

  There are roses at two of the posts, but they aren't climbers, an almost dead honeysuckle and a nasty looking vine of some sort. Also 2 Hebes ,which are not my favourite shrubs although Mrs F must have liked them as there are others around the plot.
 So nothing that has to be kept and then we found that several of the posts are rotten at the bottom, so that clinches it.................The Thing at the bottom of the garden will be taken down.
It needs some soil to level it with the grass surrounding and then we can mow regularly which will get rid of the weeds and the wood will be cut up to keep the wood burner going for several evenings. There are two big ash trees in the hedge-line boundary just behind the pergola, between us and the field so this area isn't much good for growing.

It was a good day job-wise as  I also planted the blackcurrant then we got the  screw eyes in the greenhouse and the wires threaded through ready to tie up  the cucumbers ............when they grow.. Col visited his Dad and mowed with the ride on mower.

 Also had a letter yesterday from the tax office telling us what Col will be allowed from  ESA and  his County Council pension before they start taking tax off, so  we are getting nearer to learning what we have to live on while Colin is still having treatment.

Many thanks for all the yogurt comments yesterday. It's strange to think what a large part of the fridges in supermarkets are taken up by all the different types of yogurt in 2017 when  it was virtually unknown 50 years ago.We've been persuaded it is something we need when actually we could easily live without it if we had to!

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Friday 5 May 2017

Feeling Cultured

"Yogurt, yoghurt, or yoghourt is a food produced by bacterial fermentation of milk. The bacteria used to make yogurt are known as yogurt cultures"
So says Wikiwotsit

I used to make it myself years ago but when we kept goats I found goat's milk didn't make good yogurt, or at least it didn't the way I made it!  Nowadays it isn't a regular thing on my shopping list, but this time of year is the in-between time for fresh fruit so I do buy some for deserts.

A friend  who is into healthy eating swears by Skyr, it was on offer a week or two ago so I tried Strawberry and also the Honey one . Oh YUCK it's like eating some sort of face-cream! There seems to be a competition as to who can make the sourest yogurt.  At the beginning of Col's treatment when he had to be careful of infections he was advised to eat the Alpro Soya Yoghurt but it isn't very exciting. I prefer something with a bit of fruit and flavour and not too sharp.

Black Cherry would be my yogurt flavour of choice although I think the last one I bought produced by Onken was tasteless. I go for whatever's on offer but avoiding those expensive ones with "corners".

This week I came home with ..............Leftovers?? Or to be precise  LEFT-YEOVERS. It describes itself on the side as using left-over apples  from organic fruit farmer Adam Wakeley. The ones that are not perfect and unsuitable for supermarkets.
It also says that for each pot sold  10p is donated to FareShare....... The charity that helps to supply food to vulnarable people. Apparently this is the fourth of these special yogurts each produced just for a short while, with help from Tescos... I hadn't come across them before.

BTW it was very tasty
And I've not been paid to mention Tescos or Yeo Valley yogurt but if they want to send me vouchers to buy them I wouldn't say no!

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Thursday 4 May 2017

Calling in here, there and everywhere.

With Colin at hospital two days a week we seem to run out of days to do other things, which means errands build up and we end up doing a dozen on one trip out.

So Tuesday afternoon started in Stowmarket to pay a bill, visit the ATM and nip into The Works for a Christmas (ooops sorry mentioned it again) present. The book I wrote about the other day was on offer there and I've emailed a friend telling her not to buy it or read it.They only had one copy so I didn't get it for me......honest!
 Then via the Tip - or recycling site if you are posh- but the gates were shut and the queue was about 20 cars long, so the old mattress........ which was our sons but somehow ended up in our shed, stayed in the car for another day. Next stop at a hardware place to buy some screwy-in things I need in the greenhouse to hold  wires for training the cucumbers, then to my sister's to pick up a gas cylinder that was at their house when they moved in which we can use it for our cooker. Penultimate stop to collect an old bench that was outside a house selling for £10 and deliver a birthday card.
   It needs some(actually lots of) TLC, but Col reckons he'll get it sorted and the last stop was to pick up tablets from the health centre.
Home just in time before the lovely day turned grey and cold.

Wednesday started grey and cold again, then got worse with nasty drizzle. Col had his regular trip to hospital for blood tests so I dropped him off and did a shop at Tesco and Poundland. Nipped into Hobbycraft as I've got a cunning plan for Christmas (ooops yet again!)  presents for my 5 Penny Pincher penfriends . I also needed a pen that writes on fabric and then vanishes so I can write and then stitch on the mystery gifts! No bargains at Tesco except they were clearing out fruit bushes so I picked up a blackcurrant bush for £1.71.
I've not mentioned the  chemo tablets and treatment for a few weeks but he is now up to maximum dose. They are working well, in fact rather too well and he has to have a break from them until we see the doctor next week. We don't know how long it will be before the donor stem cell treatment. The worst side effect of the tablets is to make him very tired and short of energy. He's still on steroids which help slightly.
Home from hospital before lunch.
Colin is at hospital again today for blood transfusion while I'm staying at home and baking......and ironing 😒

Still enjoying the sunsets we can see from the cottage, this was one from a few days ago.

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Wednesday 3 May 2017

Eggs or Anarchy - Book Review

The wartime event at the railway museum had a small display about food rationing and by co-incidence I was reading this
 book, picked up by chance from the library van last month.

Lord Woolton, Minister for food during most of the war years kept a diary of his time in office and entries from this, his wife's diary and historical records are used to tell the story of how the nation was fed.
Thankfully the government had learned from the 1914-18 war that they needed to introduce rationing very quickly in the event of another war so all procedures to do this had been put in place before September 1939. Having been given the job of sorting out the problems of clothing the fighting forces in early 1939 and his speed in getting the factories on-side, in April 1940 Woolton was asked to take on the roll of keeping the country fed and healthy.

During the 1930s Britain had imported a large percentage of it's food,(food miles is not a new worry) but with shipping routes under attack and European imports lost Woolton had to find a way to ration what was available, to increase production at home and persuade people and the government that he knew what he was doing. Even Churchill, when he took over as PM,  doubted Woolton could cope and constantly questioned his decisions.

Using his business skills - he was in charge of several department stores in the north of England - he set about negotiating with factories, farmers and shipping lines. He wanted people to end the war healthier than they had been when it started and had to persuade them to not get involved in the Black Market, to use the rations wisely and then to use their gardens to grow some food to supplement the rations.

If you are at all interested in this subject you will find this book full of information that you probably didn't know. For instance - the majority of people working in the Ministry of Food were secretly moved out of London to Colwyn Bay in Wales, taking over hotels and schools.

A really good read, it will be added to my WWII  Home Front collection when I can find a cheap copy

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Tuesday 2 May 2017

In The War Years

Just across the fields from us is The Mid Suffolk Light Railway Heritage Museum and they held their annual "Middy at War" event so we went to have a look.
The first nice thing was they have a discounted entry for villagers.......half price.

The steam train with passenger carriages was chugging up and down the track. It's only quarter of a mile long at the moment but they have permission to extend another quarter mile............they just need to raise more funds.
They've restored some carriages and goods wagons that would have run in the 30's and 40's.

There were several old military vehicles, a Home Guard display, a couple of stalls selling vintage bits and bobs.

I succumbed to temptation and bought a book (no surprise there, although in my defence this is the only book I've bought all month!)  to add to my WWII Home Front collection-

Then they had a display of American and British Army firing guns.LOUD. Quite a few people came dressed up for the period, something I'd quite like to get involved with I think, although it's really just standing around all maybe not.

Son and Daughter in Law met us there and we looked round for a while, had a ride on the train, a hotdog and drink each and then home again. The sun was shining but by golly the wind was chilly.

There was no RAF Memorial Flight  flypast due to the weather being too windy for the planes to take off from RAF Coningsby - their home base- disappointing.

Thank you for all the comments on my poor frugal list, not a patch on the old days of 2013 - sadly.
 Welcome to new followers especially everyone who is remembering to click again on my new blog - much appreciated. 

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