Saturday 29 June 2019

Looking Back and Forward or...........

.......................looking forward and back............+  answering comments.

It's going to be very warm today so take care.................chill!

Next Week
Yippee Do! Wimbledon starts on Monday. I hope the weather will be good and I'll have to choose between watching/sunbathing/gardening.................a First World dilemma!

Last week.
Gi-normous car boot at Needham Market last Saturday. I got there even earlier than the week before (7.20 instead of 7.40) and the car-park was still chock-a-block. I reckon  that nowadays to be there early enough to get the bargains and park closer to the people selling I would need to get there at 5.30am........... NOT doing that!
My only finds were a big Lock and Lock box for £1 and and a Cars activity pack for Jacobs next visit for 80p. There was tons of stuff that I didn't need........... Must find the "what I'm looking for" list.

At the Sunday local small boot-sale I came home with...........a bunch of beetroot (after nothing at all last week) It almost seems a waste of time driving down the road but I like my hour walking round and this time of year I'm always awake early enough so might as well get up and go out.

During the week
  • I quizzed with small WI in the Summer Quiz. We came 17th out of 44 teams. Not too bad I guess - we are always hard on ourselves -  we like to be top third.
  • Swum - it was lovely and quiet in the pool this week.
  • Picked lots of strawberries from BiL's garden and took some to Youngest daughter and Florence and put more in the freezer and made a little jam. 
  • Did some more edge cutting with my new strimmer
  • Got the electric hedge cutter, which I hadn't used before, out of the garage and had a go at the front hedge. It's a bit heavy for me to use I found. I managed to avoid chopping through the electric lead, didn't do many metres but it's one less bit for BiL to do.
  • Read a lot and sat in the sun when it appeared on Thursday.
  • Weeded bits of garden.
  • Made pesto and then used it in a courgette crumble (first time I've made it for years as Col didn't like pesto or the courgette dish!)

Now to answer some questions that have cropped up in comments during the week.

Thank you for comments about the greenhouse crops. The recipe for Aubergine/Egg Plant and tomato pasta sauce that I mentioned is on the Recipe page, scroll down past a few recipes to find it. I harvested the first two aubergines and made a big batch of the sauce yesterday. Divided up for the freezer.

Mikemax asked about the colours of Blue Tits and Great Tits
From a free photo site this is a good picture to show the colours of a Blue Tit. Not sure how widespread they are through Europe.
Blue Tit, Songbird, Bird, Nature

 And the slightly bigger Great Tit photo from internet

The garden behind the little thatched cottage in Wetherden was lovely. Very green with all sorts of shapes of leaves and evergreens for year round colour with pops and pots of bright colour here and there. The owner said they found it very tranquil for a small space. I said it was beautiful.

The Book Festival/Hedge cutting dilemma was solved when I heard and saw the weather forecast. There was no way I wanted to drive for an hour down to Felixstowe ............which will be packed out as it'll be a bit cooler on the coast and everyone will be heading there so the traffic will be awful........ and go to the talk for an hour in the Hot hotel at midday (It was hot last year and it was late afternoon) and drive home again in that heat. (Yes I've lost the price of my ticket, but saved my sanity! and diesel, my plan had it been cooler was to go early and look round charity shops - but not in the heat). And likewise no way was I going to be clearing up hedge trimmings either. I don't work in anything over 21 degrees! So everything is cancelled today.
BiL should appear tomorrow sometime, when it will be much cooler, he's at the pub listening to a band 'til 1a.m. tonight (The life of a busy 60 year old bachelor!) so might not be here very early.

This week I am grateful for...............
A quiet swimming pool
Strawberries from BiL
First vegetables from the garden

Have a good weekend
I'll be back Monday...........July already

Friday 28 June 2019


Question of the Day.......................Why, traditionally, are babies left under gooseberry bushes?

According to Richard Mabey's book 'Food For Free' - There is a widespread belief that wild gooseberries are bird sown from garden varieties..........but the species is almost certainly native.......The history of the gooseberry's domestication from the wild to dessert fruit is one of the most extraordinary stories of vernacular plant breeding. Cultivated gooseberries were not known until the C16 but by the end of the C19 there were as many as 2,000 named varieties. The improvement was due almost entirely by the ingenuity of amateur growers, especially in the Industrial Midlands, who were spurred annual competitions.

The first money I ever earned was by picking gooseberries.......I would have been about 13 at the time, it was on a fruit farm in the next village to where I lived. The farmer, Mr Noy was terrifying, he got really cross if we had any leaves in our buckets.

There were a few gooseberry bushes at the smallholding when we moved in and they were always a good seller, so we added several more. I spent hours picking punnets full every June. By the time we had to move away I think it was well over 100 x 500g punnets every year and I tried to make sure there were never any leaves included!

Two gooseberry bushes were planted here two years ago when we arrived and last week  I picked most of the fruit off. It came to 3lb and I'll use some to mix with strawberries to make jam. The combination works well as long as the gooseberries are cooked separately until they are really pulpy and soft. The strawberries are cooked a little, then the fruit mixed together before the sugar is added. The finished jam is red and tastes like strawberry but sets well without needing pectin.

 There's still some fruit left on the bushes to clear later. Hopefully they'll be enough to make a couple of jars of Gooseberry and Date Chutney to give away.

Back Tomorrow

Thursday 27 June 2019

Wetherden Open Gardens

Parked up and crossed the road to see the Poor old Primary School, it's not been a Primary School for 30 years. For a while it was used for Wetherden Playgroup,  but it's been empty now for about 5 years. It's just sold to be converted to a house - of course. I was there from 1960 - 1966 when the attendance was about 60 children. In the first few years our only play area was the playground at the front and a tiny bit round the back. Then the school got a big field on the right to use - a big playing field with 4 trees that we used as the rounders posts and room for sports day without having to carry all the benches etc up the road to the village playing field. Now both on the old school field on the right and what was a field on the left and at the back there are houses.

 The church, not one of the churches featured in the 100 treasures book. There were a few people showing their crafts here
Including silk scarves, silk paintings and flowers
One of the oldest houses in the village "Weavers Cottage"right opposite the church
Love this cottage"The Chantry" it has a big extension on the back and the loveliest small garden completely full of ferns and hostas and other green things
 Just a peek
 More thatch on Harvest Cottage

they had  giant alliums

 The Old School House, not right beside the school as many were but a little way up the road. The Head  Teachers used to live here. I remember first Miss Harrison and then Miss Lewis. The school only had two teachers, I guess the other teacher had to find their own place to live.

 The Baptist Church where I went to Sunday School every Sunday from the age of 7 to 16. My choice - nearly all the village children went - if they didn't go to C of E church - and I didn't want to miss out on Christmas parties, prize giving and summer outings. I also went here to FOY - Fellowship of Youth - (Baptist Youth Club) one evening a week - we had wonderful leaders and had great fun.
Out the back of the chapel is the final resting place of my Mum and uncle/step-dad/dad!(Complicated- My Dad died in an accident a few months before I was born, when I was 3 Mum married his older brother - and I called him Dad). Neither me or my sister "tend the graves". We are not the sort of family who does.
 Then I went for a Cream Tea in the village hall - very nice too

Just a couple of hours in the village, didn't see anyone I knew. I'll be back there for the  annual Local History Society Exhibition later in the year.
(It was only when I came to do the post that I realised how few photos I had taken of the actual gardens!)

Back Tomorrow

Wednesday 26 June 2019

Summer on the Mantel

The weather wasn't summery a couple of weeks ago when the Summer Haze Cottage came out of the cupboard and onto the mantel shelf, but has improved a bit since then. Then I added a rose now the wood-burner isn't needed.

I've got several rose bushes in what I call "The Oval Rose Garden",  they all look lovely when in bud, then open and soon are fading and gone.

I really know nothing much about roses, only had a couple of climbers at the smallholding which I would just attack when they got too big and begun to be a nuisance. There is just one here that I know the name of and that's "Thinking of you" which was given me by friends after Colin died last year. David Austin Roses got quite a lot of mentions while I was watching the Chelsea Flower show last month, so I looked on their website and can see that most of his roses seem to have many more petals in their flowers than any of mine. I looked further and found this..........Oh, So that's how many different sorts there are. It's like a whole new language to learn.

Many Varieties Of Rose Plants | Roses | Planting roses ...

Or maybe I'll just look at them from my kitchen window and enjoy them whatever they are

and watch the blue tits feeding their fluffy babies with the greenfly - doing a good job I reckon.

Apologies for not replying to comments over the last few days. (Been a bit busy, grass cutting and then quizzing Monday and jam making etc on Tuesday.)

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday 25 June 2019

From Little Seeds..............

...................Good Things Grow

Coming along nicely in the greenhouse...............

Four of the Cascade tomato plants are in the baskets on the garage wall and there was one left over so instead of chucking it out it's standing in the greenhouse and is producing some teeny weeny tomatoes.......... as are the ones outside.

These are Big Mama Plum tomatoes.

I really do have too many tomato plants in the greenhouse. Each plant is much too tall - searching for the light with the trusses of tomatoes very sparse.  There are a few Sun Grape mini plum tomatoes but the 2 Ildi Yellow plums plants are way behind. Must remember FEWER PLANTS NEXT YEAR!

I have aubergines and these grow almost as you watch them. I'm looking forward to making the aubergine and tomato pasta sauce to put in the freezer.

 Lots more aubergine flowers, hopefully will produce lots more aubergines

 And 'pointy' sweet peppers

 Cucumbers lurking among the lush greenery, and I've already eaten 3 cucumbers and given 2 away.

I let plant number 4, that I didn't really have room for, produce two cucumbers -while I took the teeny ones off the other 3 plants. Then plant 4 went in the compost heap and the other 3 are now climbing halfway round the greenhouse.

And from outside I have the first slightly manky (word origin - British, meaning - slightly inferior!) raspberries - just one cane is obviously a yellow fruited raspberry. 

And that's why I love growing things to eat.

Back Tomorrow

Monday 24 June 2019

Sorting Out My New Toy

In the past when a new bit of garden machinery was needed I would leave it to Colin to sort out - outdoor stuff like that were HIS new toys! (My new toys were things like  a new washing machine or hoover!)

But needs must and with Col's brother busy with Stock Car meetings so not able to get here for a while to use the mighty petrol strimmer I decided  to send off for a battery one that I can use on the smaller areas. It was odd that the topic came up with one of the ladies I was sitting with at the WI garden party and she said her daughter got her a mid-range Black and Decker which was about half the weight and price of a Bosch one they had had before, and it seemed pretty good.
So that's what I sent for.

It came and by reading the instruction book - something Col never bothered with beyond a quick glance - I was able to fit the handle, charge the battery, fit the safety guard and work out how to make the thing go.

I swapped from shorts to trousers and from crocs to wellies and I was off.

And it works!
Another new skill learned.
And while getting at some of the grass under one of the shrubs in the garden I spotted 4 more bee orchids and one more pyramid orchid and avoided chopping them down........... hopefully even more next year.

So when Andrew finally gets here to help me out there will just be the big stuff all around the boundary hedges for him to do.

Now I need to get some upper arm strength so I can tackle the front hedge with the hedge cutter.

(I now have a dilemma - BiL says he can come next Saturday afternoon to do everything. BUT I have a ticket for a talk at Felixstowe Book Festival. Do I (a) risk asking him if he can come Sunday instead - he probably has other plans, do I (b) cancel him coming over..... but the hedge and big strimming desperately need doing and if he doesn't come Saturday he's probably busy most weekends in July, or do I  (c) just quietly forget about Felixstowe) ??

Back Tomorrow

Saturday 22 June 2019

Another Week in Suffolk

Something I'm still getting used to after 38 years of marriage is sometimes finding living alone is Hard Work. Both mentally and physically.  Every thing that needs doing in the house and garden has to be done  myself - it's obvious really but still catches up on me now and again..............there's a limit to how much gadding about as well as house-keeping, gardening, planning and organising a person can cope with..........I'm learning that every now and again I need a quiet week.

This last week was one of those weeks.

So on Monday I stayed at home all day  until evening WI, enjoying the sunshine - although a bit of grass cutting was done where I'd forgotten to do over the weekend and some hoeing through the beetroot and onions, around the rhubarb and where the Runner Beans will go. Spotted the male Bullfinch to go with the female I saw last week.


On Tuesday I stayed at home except for going to pick up my prescription meds from the doctors pharmacy and tying that in with cheap meal day for pensioners at the Fish and Chip shop in the same village. While at home I went round half the hedge cutting out the brambles and pulling up the nettles so that I can get closer with the ride on mower. Also weeded the strawberry bed while I was picking a bowl full.

On Wednesday I stayed at home all day, the weather was gloomy after a lot of rain overnight. I read a bit, did the ironing and sorted out all my craft papers ready to clear out the majority. I thought I would watch tennis from Queens club - but when I turned on it was 'rain stopped play'

On Thursday I stayed at home all day. The day started sunny but soon clouded up again although the washing got dry easily. I baked and made bread (well the bread maker did the real work) and then got my new "toy" sorted - details next week and finally got to watch some tennis. 

On Friday I went to Diss to meet up with Rachel From Norfolk for a coffee, a bit of shopping and then home to watch tennis.

So my quiet week isn't a week doing nothing but a week without plans and driving too far. Means I missed swimming and going to visit Youngest Daughter and Florence and didn't go to Stowmarket and the Household recycling centre which I'd planned but I do feel much better for a less dashing about week.

Here's an occasional  new feature for my Saturday round up posts.............
A weeks main meals, just to prove to my family that I'm still eating 'proper' meals even if I have gone off 'proper' cooking!

  • Mushroom Tagliatelle ( I got some smoked paprika, makes a big difference)
  • Tuna Pasta Salad........ taken to the  small WI garden party, so there were lots of other things to eat too including too many delicious deserts.
  • Pensioners Fish and Chips meal with home grown lettuce and cucumber.
  • Mushroom Omelette (remainder of mushrooms after using half for the tagliatelle)
  • Home made Sausage rolls with vegetables out of the freezer.
  • A portion of  home made veggie curry from the freezer with rice and half a big naan bread.
  • A value range small pizza topped with home made topping and more cheese. With lettuce and cucumber from the garden
Lunches have been the leftover tuna pasta salad brought home from the garden party; Cheese sandwich and salad stuff; and more of the home made sausage rolls with salad stuff.

This week I'm Grateful for -
The mixed weather that has helped the plants
Being happy to stay at home
Meeting up with another blogger

Hope everyone has a good weekend. I'll be car-booting of course and  I'm going to some open gardens in the village where I went to primary school which is also the village where I spent a lot of time in my early teenage years - just hanging around! Wonder if I'll see any of the people I used to hang around with? Will I recognise anyone after 50 years?

Back Monday

Friday 21 June 2019


In all the houses I've lived in, strawberries have been the fruit that's been planted first. They only take a year to produce a crop which is so  useful.

The only place we didn't bother with them was during the  time we were renting before buying the smallholding and then the year in Ipswich.

When we had 3 children at home in the early smallholding years we had 4 beds of plants. All started in successive  years and after their 4th year the bed would be cleared. Then as the kids left home we gradually got down to just a couple of beds. Most of the time we had plants that I'd propagated by pegging the runners into pots and then every few years I'd buy some new plants from the seed catalogues. Strawberry plants like seed potatoes have to be from certified producers to avoid the import of diseases, although you often see them for sale at car boot sales but I wouldn't buy them there.

To avoid weeds and to keep the fruit clean I've tried them grown through holes cut in plastic or used straw, now with just a small bed I don't bother with anything.It's easy just to wipe any fruit that get a bit dirty. Wet straw is also wonderful for harbouring slugs!

The Strawberry Fairy in the Flower Fairy books is the wild strawberry, something I've only ever seen once when we were on holiday somewhere in the country where the weather is wetter than Suffolk.

I tried to grow them from seed once but with no luck.

The plants I got in the 'Bargain Fruit Offer' were squashed into two planters and stood inside the cold frame. They gave me a few strawberries a week or two earlier than the outside bed. Now they are producing runners so I lifted one planter out to make room for pegging a few runners into pots ready to transplant somewhere later. Somewhere being the important word here as I have no idea where I'm going to put all the plants!

There's only room for a few in the Strawberry bed to make up for some lost in last summer's drought.

I had a look in my Plant Folklore book but nothing at all about strawberries. Although in my book of quotations I found this attributed to Queen Elizabeth 1st by Francis Bacon from the C16

Like strawberry wives, that laid two or three great strawberries at the mouth of their pot, and all the rest were little ones.

This made me smile as on the few occasions we had enough strawberries to sell that's exactly what I did!

Back Tomorrow

Thursday 20 June 2019

Pegs, Chilli Peppers and a Book

Weekend car boot sales were not very exciting. Despite going fairly early to Needham Market Big boot sale on Saturday the car park was already chock-a-block , so if there were bargains they'd probably already gone.

From one of the house clearance bods I gave 20p for a small box of pegs. When used  in the garden for pegging fleece to canes they always break then I get short of them for their proper job so it's useful to find a few cheap to make up the numbers.

Then  2 chilli pepper plants. No plans to grow any this year until Eldest Daughter was here and talking about wanting some chilli jelly/chutney. Spotted these for 50p each and thought as I had the pots and the compost, might as well have them. What I haven't got is room for them in the greenhouse! nevertheless I'll squeeze them in. I'll be able to make chilli jelly for the Christmas hampers too.

No plans to buy any books this month either- as I want to have a big splurge when the new Furrowed Middlebrow Collection  are published in early August.
But then I spotted this. Often used on birthday cards etc,  I like her paintings of old cottages, probably a bit 'twee' for modern tastes and  probably a lot of artistic licence was used when they were painted. There's an original painting on ebay for over £3,000.
 The book is a biography as well as details of her paintings at a better price of £2.

Sundays local car boot saw me coming home with............Nothing!

Back Tomorrow

Wednesday 19 June 2019


A few weeks back I was looking at Teresa's blog from the USA with her photo of a beautiful Myrtle wood trug and some of her friendly comment-ers said they had never heard of the word Trug.
This sent me on a mission to find out why this word isn't know by everyone as it's still used in this country...................


(also trug basket)


  • A shallow oblong basket made of strips of wood, traditionally used for carrying garden flowers and produce.


Late Middle English (denoting a basin): perhaps a dialect variant of trough.

So that's where the word comes from .................

Then I remembered something I'd written on the old blog and after a bit of searching I found it.............

There is another item here which is used for carrying things, my lovely trug, handmade by Col several years ago.

I had found the measurements and instructions in a craft book and persuaded him to make a few to sell on our stand at a Suffolk Smallholders Annual Show in about 2007. He doesn't mind making things but these were much more complicated than his usual bodged gates etc and he got crosser and crosser with each one. I painted them, distressed and waxed all 6 and thought they looked really good. But when we came to work out the cost for selling we had to price them at £15 each and we didn't sell a single one. Col was NOT pleased. We gave some away as Christmas presents and I kept two here which I still have and I still love them even if no one else did!

I'm glad I still have two trugs

  because a few months ago, down in Surrey, someone set fire to Eldest Daughters shed (and despite neighbours having CCTV footage of a man carrying a cigarette lighter and a bottle of whisky trying to get into the neighbours house and despite people seeing the same man sitting very drunk in the road outside, the police wouldn't question him! even though everyone knew who he was) one of the things lost by the fire was her trug that her Dad made. The fire service said it was definitely arson and the insurance paid out but she wouldn't have been able to replace the trug  if I hadn't kept two and can pass one to soon as they get the shed rebuilt.(Thankfully Jacob slept through the whole thing, fire engines and noise).

If you want to read the whole post, titled Baskets, Buckets and Trugs, from March 2015, it's HERE
(I still have all the baskets in the photos).(and part of that post comes from something written even earlier for the Suffolk Smallholders Society)

And if you want to read about the history of Trug making in this country - mainly in Sussex (for readers from overseas that's a county on the South coast of England) I found this HERE

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday 18 June 2019

Village Art

There was an Art and Photography Exhibition going on in Old Newton village school which is just across the road

  from the Flower Festival in Old Newton church..............yesterdays post.

(With the village school being over a mile from the village, it's absolute chaos here at school start and finish times - almost everyone drives their children to school, then they all park on the  narrow road with lots of bends. Much quieter on a Sunday)

Just a small Art Show.

These two are felted textile art.......... £65 each

I liked this one that had sold, pen and ink  - Washing Day. £20

Flowers in Linocut - £85 each

This was BIG , very 'in your face'. 'Shelley Summer' . Oils £500

I'm enjoying my visits to art exhibitions.

Back Tomorrow

Monday 17 June 2019

Old Newton Parish Church

Every time I visit Son, DiL and Willow in their village I go past this church on the way, yet it's taken me until now to visit.

St Mary's in Old Newton is a small church situated at one end of the village, and like many other villages the main part is now over a mile away.

It's one of the churches featured in the 100 Treasures book because of this...... An Altar prayer book dating from 1793. It was found under the vestry floor during building work and is now displayed in a glass case.

On the page that's open it shows where the names of the king or queen at various time has been crossed out with the new monarch written in. The last person mentioned is Queen Victoria.

This was the weekend of the Annual Flower Festival, so flower arrangements everywhere.

There's a small gallery in the west end, I didn't go up there but apparently it's divided to keep boys and girls apart.

 This is unusual war memorial made of wooden fret-work

The theme of the Flower Festival was 'Art and Artists'. This one depicts  Freda Kahlo.

Lots of small arrangements, depicting Claude Monet's Water Lily Pond

Jackson Pollock

The Fighting Temeraire by JMW Turner

An arrangement mirroring the painting by Jan van Huysom - 'Still Life with Flowers, Fruit, Bird's nest and eggs'

Different sort of Art.....Music..............This is Rocket Man by Elton John

Thank you for all the comments on Saturday's post. Hello and welcome to some more followers, just noticed numbers are up a bit.

Back Tomorrow