Friday 30 June 2017

Down the Lane on the Last Day of June

Here we are on the last of the month already.
Now the lane looks very green, lots of new things to see since the Last day of March - HERE or April HERE or May HERE

 Sorry about the picture quality, I had to rush out to do this last evening as the sun was disappearing.

 Standing at the end of the lane our house and the other houses are on on the left. On the right is a wide drainage ditch which was full of water up until a week or so ago, now it is mostly dry.

 Please note tidy hedge thanks to Colin being well enough to wield the hedge-cutter........... if it was left to me I'd let it grow tall so we would be hidden behind it!

 We have perennial sweet-peas growing out through the top of the hedge, he cut round them carefully

 Look what I spotted (after telling two people that we hadn't got any around here because it's too dry!) This is Meadowsweet growing right on the edge of the ditch, it smells lovely
 Elderflowers have turned into berries, starting to grow - will they be black by the end of July?

 It doesn't matter that I dug up the clump of Golden Rod from the garden, there's so much here along the lane - plenty for butterflies and bees.

 Bramble flowers, - blackberries later I hope - if we get enough rain

A clump of Yellow Loosestrife on the edge of the ditch, an escapee from a garden like the Golden Rod

 Get to the road end of the lane and this is the view to the right, postbox almost hidden in the hedge, that's a Walnut tree hanging down over the Footpath sign. It's right in the corner of a garden but over hangs the lane. I shall look out for Walnuts.
 and to the left all very green and quiet.

Come for a walk down......or up the lane again on the last of July
Back Soon


Thursday 29 June 2017

Two New Crime Authors

When I collected my books from the library van a few weeks ago, two were by authors I'd not
 come across and both already have written more in each series, and both were good reads - I Love it when that happens!

Julie Wassmer - The Whitstable Pearl Mystery.
book cover of 

The Whitstable Pearl Mystery
 This is the first in a series of 4 so far. Modern crime set in and around Whitstable in Kent. The main character - Pearl is a single mother of a teenage son and was a police officer before having her son. She now runs a successful seafood restaurant and is also trying to start a private detective agency. Her slightly hippy mother Dolly features and it looks like there will be lots of foodie stuff and info about that area.
Summary from the library website.............
Pearl Nolan always wanted to be a detective but life, and a teenage pregnancy, got in the way and instead she built up a successful seafood restaurant in her coastal home town of Whitstable - famous for its native oysters. Now, at 39, and with son Charlie away at university, Pearl finds herself suffering from empty nest syndrome - until she discovers the drowned body of local oyster fisherman Vinnie Rowe, weighted down with an anchor chain, on the eve of Whitstable's annual oyster festival. Pearl seizes the opportunity to prove her detection skills and discover the truth but she soon comes into conflict with Canterbury city police detective, Chief Inspector Mike McGuire. Then another body is discovered - and Pearl finds herself trawling the past for clues, triggering memories of another emotional summer more than 20 years ago

I enjoyed this and have ordered the next one............ Murder-on-Sea from the library.

Tessa Harris - The Anatomists Apprentice.

 Another  author I'd not come across before and again a good read. This is historical crime set in the1780s about  Dr Silkstone, a pioneering forensic detective. The first of six so far.
From the library website....................
 The death of Sir Edward Crick has unleashed a torrent of gossip through the seedy taverns and elegant ballrooms of Oxfordshire. No one mourns the dissolute young man except his sister, the beautiful Lady Lydia Farrell. When her husband comes under suspicion of murder, she seeks expert help from Dr Thomas Silkstone.

I've ordered the next in the series from the library straight away.

Thank you all for comments about the mini pond. Col's sister said she's got some oxygenating plants in her pond and will give us some next time we are there. Round my sink pond at the smallholding (see below) I had a fantastic collection of stones picked up from all parts of the country over 20+ years of holidays
I would have loved to have taken the sink and stones from the smallholding to Ipswich but was banned from even thinking about it!  and anyway the sink was solid stone and weighed a ton! I doubt I'll get the chance to collect interesting pebbles again so will be stuck with Suffolk's flints around the mini pond.

Back in a trice

Wednesday 28 June 2017

There I was, a-diggin this hole............

a 'ole in the ground
so big and sort o' round
and there was I, diggin' it deep
it was flat at the bottom and the sides were steep.

Did you sing it? or are you too young! (If you don't know what I'm talking about look HERE)

Why was I diggin'a 'ole?
Well it was because I don't like the plant Golden Rod and because Col found those great ol' plastic pots at the boot sale.
So I dug out the Golden Rod and dug a big hole (I did get a bit of help from Col and his big boots!), then we lined out the pot with some thick black plastic and sunk it in the hole. Covered the edges with some bits of rock from a huge heap on the side of the meadow and hey presto we have a pond.

Now you might think that a pond this small is a bit useless but I know from past experience that even this little bit of water in a garden can attract frogs and frogs eat slugs. Frogs need a way out of a deep hole so Col used his angle-grinder to cut a 2" slice off a sandstone slab and we've put that in the water so they have something to use like a step-ladder out to the edge. My next job will be to collect lots of stones to cover all the plastic. Heaps of stones around the edge make a good place for small  creatures to hide.
 I didn't think we would need a pond here because there is a wide ditch across the lane, which had ducks and moorhens on just a few weeks ago, now after the prolonged dry spell it's completely dry. But - hooray - we had rain last night, not a lot but better than nothing and hopefully more forecast in the next few days. We've been watering the greenhouse crops and some of the outside things but there's nothing like a good rain for fruit trees.

Many thanks for comments yesterday.The walnut must have been buried there by a squirrel although the nearest walnut tree that I know of is right at the end of the lane where it joins the road that's about 150 metres - quite a long way for a squirrel to carry a walnut!

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday 27 June 2017

How One Job Leads....................... a find in the hedge.

This was the pergola thing at the bottom of the garden when we arrived. I cleared all the weeds and weed-proof membrane from underneath and found lots of the posts were rotten.
We didn't really want it anyway. It must have been a good idea when it was built but now just an eyesore.

So with a bit of hammering, unscrewing bolts and taking down, now it looks like this.
 At the moment we've left the Hop, just to see if it does actually produce any hops. The post it's on is rotten, so needed a couple of posts left to prop it up and the other posts are still there because they are concreted in and need some effort to get out, but will be dug out later.

The cross beams of the pergola were still OK and I suggested we use them as the edges for a new bed for raspberries and Col said 4 of the posts would make another edging for a strawberry bed.

So using metal stakes and rope we measured out 2 square beds. It was while I was standing holding the end of the tape that I noticed something I recognised growing just in the foot of the blackthorn hedge that's between us and the field.

A young Walnut tree
I fetched the loppers and we cut away the blackthorn hedge that was all around it and quite a way above,  then pulled out all the ivy from the ground. Gave it a good  watering and hopefully it will grow into a fine walnut about 50 years time!

The two long rails of the framework will be used for edging the 5th vegetable bed in the garden, the only one without anything around it. I'm not sure when we'll actually get the 2 new square beds made as the ground is like rock after our dry month.

Back Soonish

Monday 26 June 2017

Small Spend at a Small Car Boot.............

and Bigger spend at the bigger car boot!

I found this photo on the camera from the nearest  car boot sale of several weeks ago, when the weather wasn't too good and there were not many there.

My small spend was a total of £2.60 on these useful things. 2 box files (20p each!), 100 muffin cases, 7 zoo animals, "Chatterbox" a Shirley Hughes book that was new to me and a Jack Wills shirt  for Col. He needs a few long sleeved shirts as he's supposed to keep covered from the sun due to the chemo tablets. Before cancer he preferred short sleeves so only had one or two thin cotton long sleeved.
 I said "look what I found for you............a Jack Wills shirt for 50p." . "Who?" he asked. " Jack Wills" I said, "They must be posh because they've got a shop in Aldeburgh!" " Looks like an ordinary shirt to me" he said! Totally unimpressed by the brand...............Thank Heavens.

We had to go out last Saturday to visit someone so called in at the Big boot sale on the way.

Col is feeling well at the moment so he walked round too and found 7 HUGE plastic flower pots which will be useful, the biggest is nearly 2 foot across. He paid £10 for the lot. The way the grapevine is growing in the conservatory we'll be needing that big pot quite soon.

I found this lot below and spent £5 on the chair - a bedroom chair for my bedroom. £2.50 on crafting bits which included loads of C6 envelopes, cards and inserts - with words - and some Christmas bits. The storage container and oven gloves came from the same stall for 75p each and I couldn't resist the  30 dolly pegs for £1. Then I saw some pink reins which I got for youngest and Florence. I'm not sure if young mums use reins nowadays but they were only £1 and might be handy especially as she will also have the dog when Florence wants to walk.

The craft bits have been sorted and put away and hopefully I'll get a chance to do some more card making soon. I've been cross stitching while watching the tennis so have a couple of little pictures to iron and  fit into card blanks.

Re the tennis, when the top seeds at the Queens club tournament were knocked out early I thought it would be one of the younger players who would win but in the end it was a brilliant final by two men who've been around for ages. Now I'm looking forward to July 3rd when Wimbledon starts although for the first time ever (as far as I know) the qualifiers will be on the BBC Red Button next week. Have you seen the trail for the Championships between other programmes on the Beeb, where a tennis ball bounces around the country causing chaos - all computer generated but very clever - I'm easily entertained!

Thank you for lots of comments on Saturdays post.

Back Soon

Saturday 24 June 2017

Replies and a Cake Recipe

First of all welcome to new followers and thank you for comments which I will reply to in a second but I need to ask a question...............someone without a blog told me they couldn't comment or follow without giving away lots of information about themselves. Is that correct? because I thought that with an anon comment or following with just a name ( any name will do) means that people clicking on the comment or little shadow picture on the followers button can see nothing much except how long a person has been commenting/following on blogger. Or do they mean that Google have their information?

Anyway here are the replies to a few points raised in comments recently.

We do have a donor for Colin's stem cell transplant, but given that 3 other treatments haven't worked we are concerned about this next step which will involve a long stay in Addenbrookes hospital near Cambridge.

I wish we had an aerial photo from later years at the smallholding as we expanded the campsite and planted hedges and trees all around it. We took down the old asbestos concrete sheds and replaced with new buildings, put up a third poly-tunnel, altered the path to the campsite and built a huge new fruit cage. Some of the fences on the 2nd photo were just made of pallets and when they rotted we took them down and used electric flexi-netting for the chickens which opened up the field to make it easier for hay-making. I don't know if there are still companies that take aerial photos and then knock on your door offering to sell them to you?

We've heard nothing about the new owners of the smallholding except they put up campsite pitch fees, installed CCTV and started selling things at the gate not grown on the holding..........which is something you are not supposed to do! But hey ho that's up to them. Nearest neighbours to the smallholding still haven't met the new owners - 2 years on!

 And the cake recipe

 Looking for something that would make a pack-up to take to the beach, I found this recipe which I'd not made for ages.

Fruit Slices
Line the base of a 7"x 7" shallow cake tin

Into a bowl 5oz plain flour, work in 3oz butter and 1oz castor sugar, when mix binds together press into the base of the tin.
Scatter 1oz currants and 12 glace cherries that have been cut into tiny pieces over the base and press down gently.
Cream together 3oz butter and 3 oz castor sugar. Add 1oz ground almonds, 3oz flour, 1 beaten egg and a couple of drops of almond essence and mix all together.
Spread the sponge mixture over the fruit and then bake at Mk 5 (190℃) for about 40 minutes. Turn the heat down or move the tin lower if it starts to look a little too brown.
Leave to cool and cut into slices.

I'll add this to the recipe page at the top of the blog

Thanks once again for all the lovely comments.

Back Soon

Friday 23 June 2017


Someone (reputedly George II in the 1730's) once said that an English summer was 3 sunny days and a thunderstorm. Our storm was at 11am yesterday morning. One flash of lightening, a few rumbles of thunder and a 3 minute shower, our 8 water butts are almost empty so we could have done with a bit more. Colin worked out that it only costs pence to fill a water butt with mains water so that's what we will have to do otherwise I'll lose all my greenhouse crops which would be a loss of pounds rather than pence.

 We've now been eating our own new potatoes for a couple of  weeks. Like everything else in the garden they've suffered from dry weather and ants and also being grown on land that was previously grass - at least it had been for a few years.
But with a bit of scraping and removing nasty bits they are quite edible. We certainly won't be self-sufficient in potatoes like we were in smallholding days as we only had room for 10 of each first and second earlies. These are Foremost, the first earlies. Taste-wise they certainly beat some new potatoes I bought a while back which had no flavour at all.
We've also had our first courgettes and two small bowls of raspberries from the canes that were here before us, plus I have cucumber overload! I sowed four seeds as sometimes they can be difficult to get going, all four grew then I couldn't bring myself to throw out the two plants I didn't need!

Thank you for all the comments on the last two posts. The years flew by so quickly it's good to look back sometimes to remember all we did.

Back in a flash

Thursday 22 June 2017

Our Story Continued from Yesterday

From 1992 up to the present.

So there we were May 5th 1992 at last on our own smallholding.There were two reasons it was the cheapest 5 acres in Suffolk first  it was a mess and very run down and secondly there were two huge pylons from the sizewell power station just over the boundary at the end of our field.
We spent the first two weeks living in our touring caravan because the house had to be completely rewired before the building society would release all the mortgage money. Before we could move the caravan in we had to cut the grass around the house, which was a foot tall in places, so that we could find a level place to park.
 The chalet bungalow had been built in 1955 and had had no money spent on it in the 30+ years. There were several old buildings and a 4 acre overgrown field. The first month we were there we asked a local farmer to cut the hay meadow, but he refused saying he didn't know what rubbish was laying about among the long grass and we later pulled out lengths of wire and old machinery.

This aerial photo is from the early spring of 1993 a year after moving in,the digger was there putting in a new septic tank and one for the campsite too. By this time we had re-roofed the house and a start was soon made on vegetable gardens and much of the mess had been cleared. There were 2 old caravans on the land that had to be knocked to bits and scrapped, 3 Farm buildings full of rubbish, some cold frames that had collapsed and everywhere bits of broken glass. Broken, we were told, by the alcoholic man when in a rage!

And this below from about 2002/3 not sure which without more research.

Over our 23 years there we kept goats and sheep, chickens by the hundred and pigs now and again. We planted well over 250 trees and became almost self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables, milk and meat and also heating the house with wood. We replaced the old buildings with modern and there was soon no sign of what a mess the place had been. The campsite - A Camping and Caravanning Club 5 van site was started in 1994, became well established and after adding new toilets, shower and recreation room we were very busy, often full at weekends and through the summer holidays.

In 1992 when we bought the smallholding it was the done thing to have an interest only mortgage and an insurance to pay off the balance at the end. Around about 1998ish we started getting letters from the building society warning that there wouldn't be enough money in the insurance to pay off the mortgage. So we changed to a repayment mortgage and set about paying it off early. It was around this time that interest rates shot up to 16% for a while. Obviously to do this is meant being frugal, but of course after all these years we were old hands at managing on a small budget. We found that if we saved all pennies and spare pounds until we had £500 we could make a repayment of the capital. Then we would write a letter asking for a year to be taken off the mortgage term ( I don't know if this is still possible nowadays but I would recommend finding out because if it is then this is a AMAZING way to pay off mortgages quickly). In this way we'd paid for the smallholding by 2007. Ten Years Early!
 Our Children grew, the eldest two went through university and then left home and the youngest moved out too in 2005.
When my Dad died and left us some money we spent a lot of it in 2011 building an extension to the bungalow with a lovely big kitchen and upstairs master bedroom with en-suite. The rest of the house was re-configured at the same time and we also added a conservatory.
Col carried on working as a Bridge Inspector for the County Council but once we paid off the mortgage and then saved a bit of money, he had a plan to retire at age 55 in March 2012 and earn a living from the campsite, smallholding and odd-jobbing. And that's just what he did, although carried on for another year working for the council one day a week.

We had a busy year in 2012/13 getting the things that would earn us money more established and all was going well. Then in the summer of 2013 having rarely had a day off all his working life Col had health problems which ended up with him needing stents fitted to prevent a heart attack. Although this was sorted we had to slow down a bit on what we were doing and in June 2015 decided to put the smallholding up for sale so we could have a change of lifestyle. We hadn't been able to have a holiday during the summer for many years and with the campsite so busy it was difficult to even get a day off between May and September ........... we bought a cheap touring caravan off ebay and lots of travelling was planned.
 It took an age to find a buyer for the smallholding, not everyone was willing to take it on or to live with pylons so close it was November 2015 before we had a buyer and then we  soon found a small  bungalow to live in while travelling. But  things got delayed and it took even longer to get everything sorted. Unfortunately by November more heath issues had appeared although we didn't know what they were.

Thought at first to be some sort of anemia or stomach ulcer, Col was diagnosed with Mantle Cell Non Hodgkins Lymphoma in January 2016, and we started the regular trips to hospital. Our buyers delayed things a lot and we finally got moved to the small bungalow in Ipswich in March 2016 and he spent until October 2016 having treatment which seemed to be working. After just a few months in town we knew it wasn't really for us and  we also realised we probably wouldn't  travel as much as we planned and then in October, when we thought he was going to get well again, we spotted a cottage in a lovely position down a lane in Mid Suffolk and knew it was just what we wanted. But  a few weeks later Col was told his treatment hadn't worked and he  was put on a different sort of chemo tablet. By then we were so hooked on the cottage we decided to carry on with the purchase but once again moving was delayed by a mix up at the solicitors, so that only  3 days after moving in on 1st March we were told  the new tablets were not working either and they would try a radical new untested drug.

So here we are in the cottage at the end of a lane in a very quiet part of Suffolk, still going through the ups and downs of chemo tablets and hoping for a donor stem cell replacement later this summer - Fingers crossed that it works.

Back Soon

Wednesday 21 June 2017

Repeating and Updating an Old Post

 Right back at the beginning of my old Blog I wrote about how we came to be living on a 5 acre smallholding.
Lots of people who read this blog weren't reading then so I thought it worth repeating and updating to tell how and why we are now living in a cottage on an acre, and while I was doing that I decided to add some photos of our biggest house refurbishment.
Photos and Italics have been added to the original post.
C is Colin obviously!

It all started back in 1978 when, for £8,000,  I bought a tiny 2 bed Victorian end terraced house in Stowmarket in Suffolk using a £2000 mortgage and half the house money I got after a very short marriage and a quick divorce.  The house had no bathroom, just a shower which had been chopped off one of the small bedrooms. The kitchen and toilet had been built onto the back of the house and were a bit tatty. What the house did have was a long narrow vegetable garden and some gooseberry bushes and a rhubarb plant. That was when I started growing stuff and making jam, and luckily it was only a short cycle ride to the library where I was working.
When C and I got married he moved in and used a moped to get to work where he was  a council road man. They did things like sweeping paths and clearing out drainage channels at the edge of the road. The pay wasn't much and my pay as a library assistant was also a long way down the County Council pay-scale too. We had gas connected to the house as it was already along the road outside and tidied up the kitchen.
Then I had our eldest daughter, so we were down to one small pay cheque, we grew more vegetables and I learned how to make jam and chutney and we bought everything secondhand.
Once I stopped work it made more sense to move to the village where the council depot was, so C could bike to work. We were very lucky because house prices were beginning to shoot up and we sold it to a single bloke who wanted to get on the housing ladder for £14,000. That's how mad the housing market was, almost double in 2 and a bit years!
We found a modern 3 bed end terrace that was going cheap because it Stank! The lady bred cats and cooked up fish and liver all the time, the neighbours had complained and the worst of it was she was a health visitor! It was £16,000 so we had to have a bigger mortgage but mortgages were easy to get then.
We also had to have a bridging loan to give us time to strip all the wood from the house and re paint everywhere. C and my dad did all the work and Dad helped by putting in a Parkray fire with a back boiler and a couple of radiators as there was no heating in the house apart from an open fire. We had an allotment and then two because by then we had worked out the only way to manage was to grow all our own stuff. I used to keep a strict check on what electric we used, we stocked up on coal in the summer when it was cheap, bought things secondhand and took care to economise wherever we could. Cloth nappies come to mind and walking everywhere in the village.
C worked overtime in the summer doing road resurfacing and in the winter on the gritter lorries. During this time he had changed to a being a Ganger, which meant being in charge of a three man gang and driving the lorry which gave us a few extra pounds a week.
Our next move was 3 years later, just 2 miles to the next village, by which time we had a son too. We sold the house for £20,000 and everyone thought we were mad as we took two children under 4 to live in a caravan while we did up a house.
Colin would get home from work and after a meal would be working on the house 'til 9 each night. These 6 photos show what we bought and a bit of the work involved. What we didn't get a photo of at the time was the whole place as a skeleton, because the tiles were off too for a while. The house was semi detached and the other half was being renovated at the same time by a young couple. On the bottom left photo you can just see a corner of the caravan we lived in through a very cold winter. No heating in the caravan except a propane gas mobile heater and a convector heater. And no-one caught a cold all year!
Top right and middle right are the back of the house where we built a new extension of kitchen and cloakroom downstairs and bathroom and bedroom upstairs and that skinny young fella is Colin aged around 25! He is as thin as that again now - but not by choice.

 The house was so bad that it had been declared unfit for habitation but a council grant of £10,000 was available for anyone restoring it. The thing we liked was that it had quarter acre of land at the front. We paid £10,000 for it and got a mortgage which they paid out a bit at a time as the work was done. C did a lot of the work, and I helped when I could. The house was stripped back to timber beams, we ( and yes I say we as that was one of the jobs I could and did help with every time the children were asleep) had to dig out 2 foot of dirt floor to get the room height and all the walls had to be underpinned. My dad was able to do the extension ( he was a builder) and plumbing for us.
When our daughter started school I would bike the 2 miles there and back with 2 children on the bike because we couldn't afford very much petrol for the car. We started keeping chickens here and selling the eggs to neighbours.
After a year C got a better job in the council as a supervising foreman, looking after all the gangs who looked after the roads. He was now supervising the winter gritting so we had to stay within 8 miles of the council base to be available for emergencies.
By the time our son was 3 and going to playschool  I was biking up or down that 2 mile road 6 times a day ! and also working as a cleaner when the children were at school and playschool. So we decided to move back to the village where the school was. The house sold for £40,000 again doubling in 3 years because house prices were rising so fast.
We found a bungalow with ½ an acre of land in the village for £42,000, so we had to stretch to a bigger mortgage again. Cs pay was still very average and we always had to make do with what we had, no foreign holidays etc. etc. We built a utility room on the side of the bungalow and an extension out the back- again C did most of the work and then I had our youngest daughter. The bungalow was tucked in at the end of a cul-de-sac with several noisy neighbours, it was OK but not where we wanted to stay. When both children were at school before I had our youngest, I did part time work as a school dinner lady also selling herbs and picking fruit for a fruit farm.
But then we had 2 bits of good fortune. One was C got the job of County Council Bridge Inspector, which was based in Ipswich and didn't have to be tied to where we lived in Mid Suffolk (one of the reasons that he got the job was because no-one with engineering qualifications would take it because the pay was too low!) and secondly we realised that the back garden which had a way into it from a small lane could be sold for a building plot. So after 5 years we sold the house for £71,000 moved into a rented place back in the town we had started from and looked for a smallholding. The children were 11, 9 and 4 by then and for 6 months I home educated rather than change schools twice.
We soon found the smallholding owned by a mad woman and an alcoholic! It was a tip! and cost us £85,000 in 1992, We had to have a bigger mortgage again but thought we could manage it.

So that's how in May 1992 we came to own 5 acres in Suffolk and a 4 bedroom Chalet bungalow.

TO BE CONTINUED..............................................


Tuesday 20 June 2017

Family Day by the Sea

Our Eldest Daughter and Grandson Jacob came to visit for the weekend and our son decided we should all meet up at the beach hut on Sunday. As they say in the newspapers "Phew what a scorcher!" Actually it was lovely there with a little breeze, so much cooler than it would have been inland at home.
(BTW Our Cornetto parasol wasn't nicked from a pub garden!)
Luckily the tide was right so we could go on the beach, it would have been lethal having a toddler up by the hut with a 5 foot drop from the hut level down to the prom. At high tide the sea is right up to the steps you can sea behind our encampment.

Image may contain: 1 person, sky and outdoor
Trying to stay in the shade - except Jacob who, now he is toddling, doesn't stay anywhere!
 and won't keep a hat on either

Jacob having a few seconds rest on Grandad. Poor Grandad has to keep covered all the time due to the chemo tablets

Florence and her daddy

Our beach hut from the beach

Florence posing for camera on Grandad

Both babies paddled, our 3 children had a swim and so did I. It was so good seeing all three grown up children in the sea together - just like when the were much much younger.

Eldest and Jacob went home Monday morning and Nana Sue and Grandad Colin collapsed in a heap for the rest of the day. Jacob sleeps well through the night but likes to be up early at 5am! and once up he just doesn't stop. His favourite words " Brrrrm Brmmm Car Car Go Go!"

Back after recovering

Monday 19 June 2017

Seeing Red

On Friday we went and picked more strawberries from Col's brother's garden. Brought them home and started something for Christmas presents for the two hampers.

Strawberry Vodka Liqueur. A small bottle of vodka had moved house with us twice........ I think I bought it when I thought a vodka drinker was coming at Christmas the year before we it was about time it was used. I filled a jar with good strawberries added a third of a jar of castor sugar and the vodka right to the top. Now I need 2 small bottles to decant into just before Christmas. 

They won't get much each but it makes an extra little gift, which reminds me - I must look out at car-boot sales for another basket of some sort for the other hamper. 

We ate strawberries and ice cream for dinner and kept the best for sharing with weekend visitors.

Apologies for all those mentions of 25th December, I've whispered them in tiny print! 

Back Soon

Saturday 17 June 2017

Full of Green-ness

How are the plants in the greenhouse getting on I hear you ask.

Here's the greenhouse on the 19th of May

And now it looks like this

Very Green, but all is not perfect
The tomatoes on the right all got some sort of virus. The top leaves curled up into funny shapes, we took  off  the tops of the plants which means there are only 2 trusses on each plant. I looked it up in a book of diseases and there is something called Tomato Fern Leaf Virus and that's probably what it was. Annoying and not something I've come across before. At the end of the growing season I'll be giving the whole of the inside a really good clean with disinfectant, something I should have done earlier but I was in too much of a hurry to get started on the growing. Of course I've also got too many plants too close together which hasn't helped.

Straight ahead on the metal bench are 4 cucumber plants. I only meant to have 2 but 4 seeds germinated. Then I thought I'd fit in 3 plants but found another big pot and kept all 4! Once again too close together, they are trailing around the sides of the greenhouse tied onto wires. Since my post with the FIRST TWO CUCUMBERS we've had 3 more of these half sized beauties. I've pinched out a lot of the side shoots after two fruits and taken off quite a lot of teeny fruit, this puts more oomph (not a gardening term you'll hear on Gardeners World!) into the remaining cucs and the main stem.

On the left up on the wooden bench are the 4 aubergines and several peppers - both chilli and sweet peppers, of course just because I wanted more sweet than chilli it's the other way round. There's another aubergine on the bit of bench just inside the door on the right. The grapevine was also there until it went crazy and started to take over. I re-potted it and it's now in the conservatory taking that over instead.

Also on the left is a Begonia in a pretty pot that our Eldest gave me for mother's day, the inedible orange tree, more mangetout peas to go out in a week or two, more climbing French beans just sown, some little pots of parsley that need potting on or out and some pots of Basil.

On the whole not too bad and really no room to fit in anything else.

Returning Monday

Friday 16 June 2017

Bright Young Men

When our eldest daughter went to uni we said she was the first in the family to get there but only in our small bit of the family, because this was another photo I came across while looking through the shoe box of photos.

 On the back it says "Uncle Victor at Oxford". I'm guessing taken in the early 1920s. Thanks to the  arrows by his feet I know Uncle Victor is the one sitting far left. I have no idea which college he was at or what he studied . If I'm right Victor Cone was the brother of my grandmother on my Dad's side of the family. From the spidery writing in our old Family Bible I know he married in 1925 and died in Bromley in Kent. I vaguely remember some of my Dad's Aunts and Uncles but not Victor so maybe he didn't live in Suffolk.

What struck me most was the difference in neck-ware, some have the modern turned down collar and tie, some like Victor have a jaunty bow-tie and some still have the upright collar that seems to hark back to Victorian times.  I wonder what became of these Bright Young Men.Were they too young for the Great War? Did they survive WWII? Perhaps somewhere there are other families with this same photograph among there family heirlooms.

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Thursday 15 June 2017

First of The Year

Not content with painting at home we went to the beach hut and gave the front of it a couple of coats of  wood protection in a nice shade of blue/green. It really needed doing.
What with moving, illness, cold weather it was our first trip there this year. Had to have the first of these of course!

Thank you for all the comments about the photos yesterday, there are more to share on future posts - you have been warned!

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Wednesday 14 June 2017

Fun With Old Photos

While searching through a large shoe box full of old photos, looking for something planned for a future post I found lots that I'd love to share. So I will just because I can!
What's my mum trying to show me on my new blackboard in this carefully posed photo? Xmas 1957 or 58 it says on the back written in much later. Probably 58 I think

On the right - this was a regular thing every spring, our next door neighbour Mrs A would take us for a walk "up the fields to the woods" where we probably wiped out all the primroses, cowslips and oxslips, bringing them home by the basket-full. Mrs A is seated on a tree-stump, with her grand-daughter Penny on her knee. I'm on the right - school gaberdine coat and welly boots! (What WERE gaberdines?) and on the right is Margaret the grand-daughter of the people who lived the other side of Mrs A.  There were very few children in our street so visiting grand-children were roped in whenever possible to keep us company. This would have been taken in about 1962 or 3.

Honeymoon accommodation September 1979! . A tent and camping equipment borrowed from the Scout group where we were both leaders, on a slightly tatty campsite just inland from Sandown on the Isle of Wight. I was thin then!

 The campsite has since been modernised and is now owned by The Camping and Caravanning Club.

And Finally.............Where are they now?

The above photo is of our School reunion held at the school in October 1988. All of us here began at Stowmarket Grammar School in September 1966 and left in 1971 or 1973. Three of us (Front row second left P., third left me and 4th left G)., got together to organise this. Of course this was before social media and the only way to find people was if they or their parents were still in the area and saw the newspaper article or we found their parents in the phone book.

We managed to trace about two-thirds of the 80ish who started in 1966. Lots were overseas and unable to come, one or two "Never wanted to cross the thresh-hold of that place ever again!" and several we couldn't find but those who did come had a good if somewhat surreal evening.  The headmaster - Dr Robert Montgomery and some of the other teachers from that time are seated in the second row. "Monty" as he was obviously called was still headmaster at the time of this photo in 1988 and helped us contact some of the staff.

I could name many of those in the photo but  probably not really correct to do that (although I must mention Charles the guy with the fantastic moustache - he was in the RAF - obviously! and Roderick - known as Roux because of the ginger hair who was at the same primary school as me - last heard of living and working in Sweden). I later became distantly connected through marriage to the lady sitting front right as she is Col's sister's husband's cousin! (Wonder if I have all the apostrophes in the right places? I never could get the hang of them in the first year at Grammar school!)

Now of course everyone seems to keep in touch with everyone else long after school but back in the 70's once you left and went separate ways you were unlikely to ever meet again.Especially if you were at a Grammar school which took children who passed their 11 Plus test from a very wide area.

 Our school reunion was the first ever at the school but once the photo above appeared in the local paper I believe several more from other school years were held.

 I had a passing fancy (but was busy with a smallholding at the time) to organise another re-union in 2006 - 40 years after starting at the school as our School song was verses 1 and 4 of  "40 Years on". Much more famously known as THE HARROW SCHOOL SONG. Someone obviously had illusions of grandeur when they made this the school song of the much less well known Stowmarket Grammar School!

Back in a trice

Tuesday 13 June 2017

Ants in my..........................

On Saturday we came home from collecting more strawberries to find a kitchen full of ants. Small ants and flying ants swarming all over the walls around the range cooker. I got the hoover out sharpish and sucked up all I could see and then again and again and again!
They are obviously in the old brickwork of the inglenook where my range now sits.

On Sunday we came home from the car boot sale to find a kitchen full of ants.............AGAIN. Repeat performance with hoover.

Oh the joys of living in an old house!

Took me right back to childhood when every summer we would have the same problem but I'm sure my Mum's answer to the annual swarming was to spray them all with insect killer.

 The cottage I grew up in was even older than our present home and dated from around the 17th century. It had a timber frame and some wattle and daub walls. Here we have clay lump walls on two and a half sides of the older part of the house while the other  walls must have been replaced with bricks at a later date. The other part is a modern extension built in the 1970s. The whole house was then rendered at some time and repainting that is yet another job that needs doing...........but not by us!
We keep finding things that need repair work - and the one most worrying was when the man who came to service the oil boiler told us that we really ought to update and move our oil tank as it was showing signs of age and is too close to the garage. Of course this was a few weeks after having it filled!

Some of the other things that need doing are
  • Get on with finishing painting woodwork in the kitchen.
  • Paint living-room
  • Get the garage re-roofed before winter - The felt is split, wooden bits rotting and tiles uneven.
  • Have a new up and over garage doors so we can actually get a car in and out - the doors won't stay open, having a tendency to fall on your head/the car.
  • Find a good builder to make the corner of the bedroom into an en-suite
  • Get cracks filled in  rendering on outside of house and get it painted or coated with weathershield stuff
  • Get the toilet replaced downstairs
  • Have a new kitchen fitted ( not anytime soon!)
I need to write another list of what we have got done in our 3½ months here but not right now.

Thank you for all the comments yesterday

Back in a tick

Monday 12 June 2017

Strike While the Iron's Hot AKA............

..................Quick, while the husband's well!

Colin had a good week last week, with all infections gone and the special chemo tablets working without causing problems. So we decided to take our boxes of books-that-don't-fit-and-we've-had-them-for-years-without-reading and other unwanted odds and ends to the local car boot sale.

(On Saturday he also managed a bit of hedge cutting too )

We'd got nothing of any great worth so sold most things for 50p ......... simply to get them out of the way. After paying the £5 pitch fee we made just £22. Oh well, better than nothing I guess.

I found a 'couple' of useful things while we were there
 Wooden skittles and a push and go tractor for when Jacob comes to visit were £3. A roll of double sided sticky tape, a roll of grease-proof paper, 2 Sudoko books and a Katie Fforde book of short stories and the 2 bags came to £5.10p and another box of mushrooms for £1.
 I checked the bags really well after my last disaster, but these are very sturdy and cheerful too. Obviously we took snacks and drinks with us and even avoided buying ice creams so no spend other than the above.

We were home again by just after noon and unpacked the few things left. The books have gone in the cupboard under the stairs.....I'm hoping son will take them to a boot-sale when he does one later in the year. Other bits and bobs fitted into one large carrier bag and will go to a charity shop. 3 cardboard boxes have been flattened so all in all quite pleased with our few hours out.

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Saturday 10 June 2017

Surprise at the End of the Garden and Diary Update.

Look what I spotted in the hedge at the end of the garden.........and still there after the storms.
Not apples, too big for cherries so I think Mirabelle cherry-plums. It's a big tree in among other trees that are in a wide hedge bit between our garden, next door's garden and the field. Of course most of the fruit are way out of reach and are bound to get nicked by birds! But we might get one or two.

We've had an in and out sort of week, hospital, shopping, library van,visiting and voting (what a fun result!) Also went and picked lots of Strawberries from Col's Brother and Dad's house. Brother is now diabetic so has to limit fruit and this years crop is huge. Now there are 4lb in the freezer ready for jam making later in the year when I will add a couple of our cooking apples to help it set.
Friends visited too which is always good.
Not sure what's happening this weekend, hope the weather picks up a bit, although there is the French Open tennis finals to watch. I've been catching bits of the tournament between painting the kitchen in week one and rushing in and out in week two.
Of course I can also make a start on reading the 17 library books.

Welcome to lots of new followers and thank you for comments on recent posts

Back Monday I guess.

Friday 9 June 2017

How Many Library Books?.....................


Good grief, when will I get the chance to read all those when Queens Club and Wimbledon tennis are both on TV in the next month! 
 Luckily borrowing from the library van means we have 8 weeks to read them and I can probably renew them anyway. 

Several of yesterdays haul are books that have been mentioned on blogs or have popped up somewhere as recommended and I've requested them.
So what have we got. From the left.......a book about the first months of the war. Then a cookbook which I've glanced through - looks like some good value recipes. Then the latest in a very long series of historical crime by Anne Perry - always a good read. Next "Four Fields" - saw this mentioned but it may be a bit of a 'dry' read. There are two by Peter Turnbull, who has been churning out crime fiction at the rate of two a year for ever!. Tessa Harris - new to me - no idea what it is.
From the bottom of the pile........ Alys Fowler has done several gardening books but this is an exploration of the Birmingham canals by inflatable kayak! Next Crimson and Bones, read about this somewhere and I thought it was historical crime but maybe just historical, it might be OK.
Too Marvellous for Words by Julie Welch is another book about life in a girls boarding school. Trisha Ashley writes light fluffy books which I read now and again for a change.
The Whitstable Pearl idea about this except it's set in Whitstable! " The Shipping Forecast" There are several books around on this subject and this is the latest - a BBC book . Family Matters is another of the British Library Crime Classic reprints.
Then "Six Against The Yard" Which was originally published in 1932 and is a story written by members of The Detection Club which included Margery Allingham and Dorothy L. Sayers. An Agatha Christie that I've not read before............ The Secret of Chimneys and top of the heap is  "A Year in the Life of the Yorkshire Shepherdess" This is the lady (with umpteen children) who lives in the middle of nowhere on the moors.

Should keep me busy for a while. I'll keep you posted on how I get on with them.
All books read recently have been added to the  'Books Read 2017 Page'.

Thank you for all the comments on our beautiful grandchildren......... I do like being a Nana!

Back in a flash

Thursday 8 June 2017

Nana Sue Shows Off!

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting and sleeping 
Hope these photos work as they are off the two daughters facebook pages and sometimes they don't copy properly. So apologies if all you see is words and no photos!

Our little poppet Florence is  8 months old now.
We usually try to get over to see her once a week, saw her yesterday and she was in chatty mood, trying out all sorts of sounds. She gets around at quite a speed commando style on her tummy, daughter found her sucking the pram wheels!  Washed her mouth very quickly!

Image may contain: 1 person, child

 And our cheeky monkey Jacob was one at the end of May, hopefully he'll be coming up from Surrey to visit before the end of June. We'll need to move a lot of things up out of reach!

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Wednesday 7 June 2017

Stormy Weather and Charity Shop Books

We had rain yesterday, though it was more like RAIN in capital letters as it came down hard and fast while the wind whipped the trees into a frenzy and the electric went off for 7 hours. We were OK as we had the LPG range for boiling a kettle and cooking dinner. I took round a flask of boiling water to our neighbours - (the ones who won't share the driveway costs) so they could have a hot drink, in the hope it will make them feel guilty!!
We rang the power people to notify them of the outage and found we could get text message updates on their progress at restoring power. What a handy service! All afternoon we kept getting little messages telling us what was happening and what time they hoped to fix it by.
They got it fixed just as it was getting dark.

And the book bit............after months of finding no books in charity shops, I  acquired 4 from various places over the last 3 weeks.

 Left to right
Modern Crimes by CHRIS NICKSON.
Last time I saw my Penny Pincher friend A she mentioned that Nickson had started yet another series, I checked the library website, found they didn't have it and then forgot all about it so when I spotted this I knew exactly what it was and snapped it up for 50p.
Mrs Miniver by Jan Struther.
This is a WWII classic and I have read it  but didn't own a copy. Winston Churchill  credited the film, which was made from the book in 1942, with increasing American support for the war effort. Oxfam Bookshop so £1.99
Carol Harris - Women at War In Uniform.
 Another addition to my collection of WWII books. Haven't read this. Also Oxfam Bookshop £1.99.
Barbara Pym - An Academic Question.
Pym is an author I didn't read  when working in libraries through the '70's  in fact I don't remember them at all. Reading the details about her on Fantastic Fiction I see that she had 6 books published between 1950 and 1961 ( before I was reading!) and two in the seventies but then four more were published after her death in 1980. It also says that when TLS asked critics to name underrated authors Pym was the only author mentioned twice, which brought her back to public recognition not long before she died. A short book, quickly read, the fourth of her books I've read and enjoyed. Another 50p purchase, which I'll now pass on to a friend.

Many thanks for comments about the Calamondin tree. Maybe it is edible after all, but will I be able to keep it alive long enough to find out?
Thank you also to everyone who has clicked the follower button ........welcome.

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