Monday 31 August 2020

Winter Wood + End of August Ins, Outs and Frugal Bits

When Brother-in-Law Andrew comes to cut wood for me I know I'm in for a day of hard work with a wheelbarrow. On Saturday he brought the log splitter and chainsaw and was determined to get as much as possible cut. When Col and I used to cut wood we would do an hour or two and then stop for a coffee..........Andrew hardly stops at all.......probably because he knows that if he stops he'll seize up and won't be able to get started again.............. the results of spending 40+ years repairing machinery on the concrete floor of cold farm reason he's packing up the job before the end of the year.
 Anyway I'm always grateful he's willing to come and get me ready for winter -  but Sunday morning I could hardly move! It's a good thing it was raining so I didn't go to the car-boot sale, I'd have hobbled round like a much older woman.

A shed full of free heat!

Now the Finances....................

 Looking back at what I said about August on the last day of July post

"How will August pan out? Well, in theory I don't need to buy any more books now the library van will be round each month  and they've let people reserve books again - at last,  BUT the Furrowed Middlebrow NEW SELECTION of reprints is out on the 3rd August and I might be tempted.
The half year water bill is due - that might be a bit more than usual. Sometimes the electric bill comes right at the end of August and it looks as if one of the cooker gas cylinders will run out  during the month too and I've just emptied the last of the petrol into the mower so that will need refilling.
Other than that it should be a lowish spend month..........I hope."

The up to date list of what 'one old woman' can produce from a garden..................

All these are finished now
  • Lettuces (I tried to get some going but they just ran to seed - too hot I think)
  • Rocket and small beetroot leaves as salad leaves
  • A few asparagus spears -
  • lots of rhubarb-
  • A surprising amount of strawberries from 6 new plants and a few from the old bed.
  • 3lb of gooseberries
  • Lots of raspberries and 3lb put in the freezer
  • 2lb Redcurrants
  • Few mange-tout peas  - put in the freezer
  • Green beans  - some put in the freezer
  • 2 small Calabrese heads.
  • 2 small cauliflowers 
  • Figs
 Still eating
  • last Courgettes.
  • A few potatoes left
  • Lots of tomatoes from greenhouse
  • Just a few aubergines left
  • The last cucumber is now in the fridge
  • A few runner beans - but not doing very well due to wind damage again 
  • Beetroot
  • Onions 
New for August
  • Huge peppers
  • Plums
  • Apples
  • Pears

Looking at September...............
I guess the electric bill will arrive eventually. They keep pestering me by email and letter to get a smart meter - I'm ignoring until it's forced upon me.
The cooker gas cylinder ran out over the weekend and I need to decide what to do about bird feeding this winter. I gave up in early spring because it was only attracting magpies.

Back Tomorrow

Saturday 29 August 2020

Last Week and it Seems Like Summer Has Gone

The week just ending felt like the beginning of Autumn already. Tuesday night with Storm Francis which woke me several times and then chillier evenings. The lights are on before 8pm for reading now but still two months before the clocks change - thankfully.

Swimming on Wednesday morning was good again and more people there but still not busy as they are limiting numbers. During the summer holidays they would normally be running canoeing or snorkeling classes and inflatable play times but all those things aren't happening so there's actually more opportunity to swim than a normal August. I probably need to go more often to make up for lost time as 25 minutes was enough to get me out of breathe and aching. I'd only just bought a new 20 swim ticket just before Lockdown so can go lots of times before needing to pay again.

When it was fine I shifted all the logs from one builders bag that had been standing outside by the woodshed into an empty bag inside the shed, something I've been meaning to do since spring. Now there's  a gap to reach all the logs that still need splitting.  BiL Andrew will be round later today, weather permitting with either the log splitter or chainsaw or both to split or cut some of the stuff that's been waiting 3 years. Although if he doesn't make it now he's talking about retiring at the end of October so will have a bit more time then.

Also got a batch of roasted onion/pepper/tomato sauce made (as per instructions from Sue in Wales/England!) 1 portion to eat and 4 in the freezer.  When I said the peppers from the 3 Thompson and Morgan plants were huge - this is what I mean.........

Huge pepper beside a £1 coin

Rainy afternoons have been spent watching the earlier series of Strike on BBC i-player (see below) ready for a new series starting tomorrow and there's actually some live cricket on BBC this weekend. Colin would have enjoyed that a lot, after all the years of only being able to see the highlights of test matches at the end of the day.

This week I'm grateful for
  • Swimming again
  • Not watching Strike when it was on TV first time so I can enjoy it now!
  • Lots of fruit from the garden 
  • A good collection of library books

The weather forecast for the weekend is fine but lowish temperatures. That's OK for wood cutting and boot-sale visit and a probable meet up for coffee with Rachel.

Hope you have a good weekend, a Bank Holiday long weekend for some people.
Back Monday

Friday 28 August 2020

A Big Heap of Library Books

This is more like it - a nice lot of books to last me for the next four weeks

Seven crime fiction, five are by authors I've read before. Plus 'The Lifer's Club'  by Francis Pryor, an archaeologist often seen on TV who is a new to me author as is Catriona McPherson. I must have seen the book by Niall Williams mentioned somewhere - no idea what it is. There are three non fiction............ a cookery book to browse, Surfacing by Kathleen Jamie is one of the books from The Wainwright  Country Writing prize long-list. Finally The Nature of Spring - just something to look through I think.

Four weeks ago I brought home these 6 and read four, details on the Books Read 2020 page

Back Tomorrow

Thursday 27 August 2020

First Pepper

The Pepper seed-sowing failure seems a long time ago now. One plant from 2 or was it 3 sowings? I can't remember. But the first pepper from my one plant was picked a couple of weeks ago. A very odd shape, it ought to be long and pointy but this curling happens sometimes.

These below were the plants I sent for from Thompson and Morgan, the only company I could find that were still accepting orders back then when all garden centres were closed.

 They were good plants, grew well and the peppers on them are gi-normous!

A couple have turned red and are now sliced and in the freezer, I think I'll be giving some away - there are so many.

Keep forgetting to say hello and welcome to more people who've clicked the follower button. Hope you enjoy reading about my 'even quieter life than it once was' in Suffolk

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Wednesday 26 August 2020

Big Boot-Sale ....But Few Finds

Last Sunday morning was a bit dull and quite windy so I wasn't sure how many people would be selling but it was much busier than the week before.

I walked past all the tons of clothes, ornaments, toys and junk - and only spent £1 each on two things. A set of alphabet stamps in the box and numbers and punctuation loose - something I've never owned despite making cards for years and a brand new thing which I call a wheat bag  but here it is a "Soothing Body Wrap" which will make a Christmas present for someone.

Then home for breakfast.

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday 25 August 2020

Today is Tuesday

Now that things are getting back to normal it helps to know what day it is, for months I had to check and it didn't matter anyway.

Yesterday morning I went into Ipswich town centre for the first time since January. The road to get to the car park I usually use was closed due to roadworks which meant parking on a big car-park closer to was virtually empty.  There were very few people in town and as I was really only going for two shops in particular I just paid for an hours parking and didn't venture far through the town but Oh Dear  the bit I did see was looking so sad - many, many empty shops. Some have been empty for years like Bhs and what was once a huge Co-op Department store but so many others now stand forlorn and tatty.
 I went to the loo before driving home.........just the two disabled cubicles in use and the lady who looks after them and had to wipe handles etc after each person said that the other toilets in town weren't open and hardly anyone was coming into town, the car parks were still charging the full amount and the town is really dying. So sad.

I managed to get one of the things I'd gone to town for  from the Fair Trade shop - Wooden name letters with animals on for Youngest Grandsons bedroom door - just the same as I first got for Eldest Grandson 4 years ago and for the two girls in between.
Into Lakeland and half their shelves were empty - and they didn't have what I wanted - made me wonder if they will go back to just mail order which is how they started years ago.
Not a great outing, it may well be another 7 months before heading to our County Town again.

The weather forecast for today looked a bit nasty with storm Francis (Frances?) blowing through so I thought it best to get the grass cut yesterday afternoon.  I've got a lot of very nasty weed spreading all over the grass round the back.  Not sure what it is but it's a very dense fast growing creeper with yellow flowers,  possibly Creeping Cinquefoil?

 I set the ride on cutter really low and went over that bit twice - hope that will help get rid of it but it's already spread right across all the septic tank lids where I can't cut.
There's a tank lid under there somewhere!

 Might have to resort to some weed killer or when the time comes for getting the septic tank emptied they'll be no hope of finding the lids.

Best to stay indoors today out of the weather, I'll get the breadmaker going and do a bit more book  shifting. Youngest doesn't want the big shelves but I can't get them downstairs on my own anyway and when they are down I don't know what to do with them.

Back Tomorrow

Monday 24 August 2020

Saturday Was Exciting After All


Swimming costume and towel on the line for the first time for 5½ month.

After checking the website all week, at last on Saturday morning the booking schedule for the little pool I swim at was online.

I booked quickly - Slow Lane - 1.30pm. I went, swam and it was brilliant to be back. Because it was the first day there were just 2 people in the slow lane (which is actually half the pool- it's a small pool and only has 4 lanes). After 25 minutes I thought that was probably enough for the first swim since 2nd March( I stopped going before Covid because the changing rooms were closed for refurbishment).

On my way out I booked a morning swim for during the week.............two things in the diary next week ...........swim and library van..........another first since March.

Back Tomorrow

Saturday 22 August 2020

Looking Back at the Week

I spent Monday morning sorting more books to sell on Ziffit and at the end of the on-line stuff  it said they would be collected by courier instead of having to take them somewhere for collection - which was handy.

The electric was off for a planned outage on Tuesday morning so I pootled up to Diss and Morrisons and took advantage of the government half price food thing for my morning coffee break. Also went into Boots and printed out some up to date photos of the grandchildren to fill up the 4 space frame. Only Eldest Grandson's photo isn't recent - he'll have school photos soon as he starts in September. (Seems much too soon as he was only 4 in May - I don't like the way they do school intakes now).

On Wednesday Youngest Granddaughter came round to play while DiL and Youngest Grandson had to go out - and then Youngest Daughter arrived with Eldest Granddaughter so it was girl cousins together  - great fun! YD cooked for us all which was a treat.

On Thursday as  the mower was back from it's latest repair I was able to hook up the trailer and shift the 20+ paving slabs that were round what was the new raspberry bed. Hot work - not sure a 65 year old woman is supposed to be shifting slabs. But the job's done all bar the soil leveling.
 I'm advertising the fruit cage frame and netting in the local parish mag. next month - hopefully someone locally will want it.

Friday was so windy but a very warm wind - already the trees down the meadow have been losing leaves due to the lack of rain and after Friday even more are on the ground. Autumn really is just round the corner............ I don't mind, every season has it's moments.
I spent more time sorting bookshelves, tidying emptying, cleaning. One new bookcase (bought when we moved here as the shelves at the smallholding were all built-in) has been put in my bedroom as a bedside table so I can get rid if what was there. I managed to slide the old lot downstairs and will advertise it for free on the local facebook page. Youngest Daughter may have the other book case if we can find a way to get them to her.

 All week I've also been doing other odd bits of gardening - between rain and the sweaty humidity. There's quite a lot to clear now -sometimes it feels overwhelming - but a bit at a time will get it done and I remember I feel like this at the end of every growing season since Colin died.

This week I'm grateful for
  • Energy for shifting paving slabs and bookshelves
  • Finding the whole first series of Yellowstone (US TV modern western series starring Kevin Costner) on My5 catch up site. I can watch anything with him in it no matter how violent!
  • Plums without maggots to put in the freezer.

Now here we are round to Saturday again, I doubt anything exciting is happening this weekend but I'm ever hopeful!

Back Monday

Friday 21 August 2020


Many years ago I had to spend a week in a convalescent home after a major operation. I couldn't go straight home because we were doing up an old house while living in a caravan and sleeping on a mattress on the floor and the hospital doctors reckoned it wouldn't be a good idea!
The home was full of elderly poorly people - everyone was about 50 years older than me -  but one lady was friendly and  tried to show me how do Cryptic Crossword Puzzles which until then might as well have been written in Chinese - I hadn't a clue.

I later borrowed a book about doing Cryptic crosswords - it didn't help  and I forgot all about them.

Then we had lockdown, more time and SiL sent me a heap of puzzle pages from the East Anglian Daily Times (and I've been going to pick them up once we were allowed out) I've been trying to do Cryptic Crosswords again, usually managing to sort out about 3 or 4 answers - that's my limit and even when I can see the answers in the next days pages I still can't work out the  hows or whys.

So you can imagine the shock to fill up nearly the whole crossword. Wow I thought - I've got it!

Sadly Not. The next one I tried it was back to normal - just the odd two or three filled in- Oh well back to the Sudoku - at least I can complete those OK.

Back Tomorrow

Thursday 20 August 2020

Greater Knapweed

A few weeks ago when short of ideas for blog posts I took some photos on the meadow and made a post out of Knapweed! Then it didn't get published so............

 There's   There WAS a lovely crop of Greater Knapweed on the meadow. It's quite pretty and the bees love it. So is it a wild flower or a weed?...the eternal question. It wouldn't be there if all the meadow was kept cut as it was before we moved here.

The plant gets a mention in the Flower Fairies book by Cicely Mary Barker

I can't imagine many little children even looking at it nowadays and they certainly wouldn't know it's name! and as for growing on chalk - it's heavy clay here.

After the rain over the last few days all the knapweed plants are now brown and mucky, good thing I took the photo when I did.

Back Tomorrow

Wednesday 19 August 2020

A Smaller Car-Boot Sale

A very misty morning here last Sunday which must have put a lot of people off selling. I arrived good and early as the cat had woken me at first light bringing another mouse into the bedroom, chasing it around for a while - which involves much crashing and banging -  and then losing it under the wardrobe. It's possible there are three mice in the house somewhere!

Anyway I arrived early and had quite a speedy walk round and came home with just a few little bits

A couple of kits for making Easter crowns - for Grandchildren sometime . I spotted a tin opener, which I'd been looking for, not new but I examined it closely and it looks OK and 2 little pictures that caught my eye. They are just prints by a John Morland and then hand coloured, nothing special and I wouldn't usually even look at pictures because I really have enough already but these just needed to come home with me.
 Total spend £2.50

I was home for my breakfast well before 9am with plenty of time to get the bread-maker going, cook up some beetroot and do some gardening - although not a lot as despite the cloud cover it was hot, humid and sweaty.

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday 18 August 2020

Using the Cheese Making Kit

The cheese making kit found at the car boot sale a couple of weeks ago cost me £3. It contained a cheese-making thermometer(itself worth £6) a big piece of butter-muslin, a draining basket, organic salt, citric acid, rennet tablets and some dried herbs and most importantly an instruction booklet.

There are instructions for 5 cheeses
  and I decided to start with Ricotta.

 It would have been OK using just blue top ordinary milk but the booklet says milk with more fat content makes better cheese so as I was shopping I got a bottle of gold top - do you remember school milk with the thick cream  on top of the third pint when the school crate had been sitting out in the sun!?. My gold top looked like that after leaving it out to come to room temperature in the kitchen. I mixed half and half with blue top normal milk and soon got curds and whey. The recipe made 2lb - rather a lot so I did half. It was ever so easy to make and I soon had 1lb. It worked out no cheaper than buying it.......... But Oh My Goodness - the difference in taste between a tub of shop ricotta and my home made - mine was so creamy and delicious and there was the fun of the making too. Worth every penny!

Ricotta freezes best if used in a recipe before freezing so I made a huge spinach and 3 cheese (ricotta in the lasagna and grated chedder and a mozzarella ball sliced on top) lasagna and portioned it up. One to eat and 5 in the freezer.It didn't look very photogenic so no photos but it tasted delicious - very creamy.

Left a little Ricotta to have with crackers and figs -Mmm! How Italian am I?!

Back Tomorrow

Monday 17 August 2020

A Surprise Jumble Sale

What a surprise on Saturday morning when I was out................saw a poster for a Jumble Sale in a village just a couple of miles from home and being held in their Parish Church. I had to go a look obviously!

Great excitement...............a socially distanced queue in a churchyard for a Jumble sale!

I found a few things :- A couple of what they call  "cosy" crime books from the USA, 2 new Pritt sticks and a little Aloe Vera plant - haven't had one for a while so will endeavour to care for this one  as they are so handy for burns.

 My total donation to Church Funds was £3.

I hope this is a sign of things getting more normal as I also found some of the smaller libraries are going to re-open for browsing next week and Very Excited because the swimming pool may also be opening at the end of the month.
After hearing on the local news that in the counties of Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk (that's a total population of around about 3 million people) there were just 22 people in the regions  hospitals with Covid on the 9th August, I think we are pretty safe whatever we do.

Back Tomorrow

Saturday 15 August 2020

Halfway Through August

Suffolk was in the  HOT  part of the country all week until yesterday.  6 days over 30℃ is quite unusual for England and 6 nights of +20℃ is also unusual and not good for sleeping. Even the cat wandered about looking for somewhere cool. I was just glad I hadn't got to go to work!
 My "triple aspect" living room means the sun shines in all day - which I love for the light but it does get rather warm.I don't like electric fans - my electric bill doesn't need to be bigger - so I just open the windows wide, draw the curtains over and keep as cool as possible and then lazed about watching the World Championship snooker - delayed from May and so much better without an audience coughing and fidgeting!

So what's been happening this week apart from snooker watching...................

I delivered my two pathetic Blueberry bushes to Sis-in- law and Brother-in-law with half a bag of Ericaceous compost in the hope they are better at looking after them than I am! SiL got one for BiL for his birthday last May so now they have 3 which should help with pollination. While there I picked up another bundle of the puzzle pages from the local  daily  paper. I've been trying to do the huge Sudoku which is 25 x 25 and uses numbers 1 - 9 as well as letters L - Z. There must be a trick to doing it somehow - but I've not found it yet.

Tried to start the ride-on mower during the week just to trim some of the grass round the back of the house, turned the key and got a horrible rattling noise - oh heck. It's gone away for repair again, second time this year something's gone wrong, this time probably the solenoid in the starter motor, just hope it's not too expensive. I want to use the mower and it's trailer to move the 20 slabs that are round what was the new raspberry bed, although it would have been to hot for that job this week anyway.

 On Tuesday I used my boot-sale bargain cheese making kit to make my first batch - more about that next week as it deserves a post all to itself.

Visited Youngest Daughter and Oldest Granddaughter and took the PPE that I collected in Stowmarket last week for the opticians where she works.
Then had a visit from DiL with Youngest Granddaughter and Youngest Grandson. The little fella is 6 months old and so much happier now. He can sit up with a little support, is enjoying his first tastes of squishy solids and loving water in a sippy cup which is very handy with this hot weather. I fetched down the photo album with Son at the same age - completely the same- little round face and blond hair and same smile too.

Here's Son with his big sister and Colin in 1982 when Eldest Daughter was nearly 2 and Son about 6 months. None of the children or grandchildren have inherited Col's mad thick curly hair!

Youngest Grandson below has the same look of astonishment when having his photo taken although less hair than his daddy had at the same age!

Listening to odd bits of radio and TV news this week I feel so sorry for all people whinging about having to decide between going abroad for a holiday and maybe having to isolate themselves when they come back - what a shame! Pity they don't remember the part of the population who can't afford a holiday anywhere because they've lost their jobs and another bit of the population surviving on the minimum wage and having no hope of a holiday.

This week I'm Grateful for
  • Always plenty of things to do at home
  • Having 3 out of 4 grandchildren in Suffolk to see them grow all the time
  • Not worrying about "conspiracy theories", 
  • An ability to think for myself and plough my own furrow!

Hope everyone has a good weekend - the forecast for Sunday looks a bit iffy for a car-boot sale  visit, hope it's wrong. Despite the yellow weather warnings for thunderstorms there's still only been a couple of light showers here.

Back Monday

Wednesday 12 August 2020

Talking About Shops, Supplies and Preparedness

It was chance that meant I didn't panic when the shops ran out of loo roll in March. Luckily I'd just had my first delivery of 48 from the "Who Gives a Crap" company.

I'd also bought flour during February and can remember the checkout lady say "goodness you're going to do a lot of baking" and I said I was just restocking after Christmas and New Year. There actually wasn't a shortage of flour at the beginning of lock-down - only a lack of mills packing in small 1.5kg bags. The majority of flour sold in this country is either packed in 20kg sacks for bakeries or carried in bulk tankers for food manufacturing companies.

During the first week that the shelves emptied I opened a new pack of 6 yeast sachets and straight away wrote them on my shopping list - because that's what I do............ the supermarket yeast shelf was empty for weeks but luckily I found yeast before getting to the end of the pack.
So lack of stock on the shelves wasn't a cause for panic - and anyway there's always well stocked cupboards and freezer up the end of the lane..............miles from a never know when it might be needed............... snow/car problems/dodgy knees or back.

In the fresh fruit gap after rhubarb and before the strawberries and raspberries  got going  I had a sort out of the tinned fruit on the top shelf and found I had one can of fruit cocktail dating back to BBE 5/2018 and 3 various others were BBE 2019. I remember buying extra cans of fruit when we were supposed to leave the EU first time round, as I imagined imports of fruit getting held up, but obviously didn't rotate my stock properly!
I ate my way through them - all were OK of course.
Now we've almost left the EU with discussions going on about trade tariffs and deal/no deal and once again it all happens at the time when there is a lack of English fruit available. So I'm going to re-stock with a few cans again.

The book I wrote about a while back talks about how the country prepared for rationing during wartime. People were urged not to hoard and of course many could not afford to buy anything extra to put away.

The Religious Community of Mormons are required to keep a supply of food stored away for themselves so they have enough to help other people where needed and that must have been useful for food shortages recently.

If you've ever watched any of the "Inside the Factory" programmes, (and there were also some made to show how food factories were affected during the early Covid problems) you will have seen how factories operate a 'Just in Time' ordering system, no storage at all.......straight from the truck into the production line.  Supermarkets only have small stockrooms now because with computerization they always know whats left on the shelves and items are ordered automatically. When shelves are empty it's rarely any good asking if there's some of what's missing 'out the back' anymore.

But going back to what I'd like  to store for any future lock-down or Brexit shortages and it would be the types of food that are my  favourite things to not tins of baked beans, chick peas or lentils for sure!
I reckon flour is one of the best basic store-cupboard necessities for versatility . It stores well as long as it's dry and double wrapped. The local flour from Essex I bought a couple of weeks ago is dated March 2021 and that's only a Best Before date so in theory it would be possible to keep a years supply tucked away.Yeast can be kept in the freezer and once you have those you have bread - and I'd never get tired of toast.
 I've read that Ghee is a way of preserving butter and I know it's widely used in Indian cooking and keeps for a long time but I've never used it, so have no idea what it tastes like, is it only used in cooking? Can I spread it on my toast? 
Most dried and canned products will  keep for ages. I have a lot of space at the back corner of a corner cupboard that I could fill with all sorts but how much does one person need to store?
and what about if all over 50's are told to shield through the winter, which was one rumour mentioned - don't like that idea at all!

So many questions - such a rambling blog post!

If you've read this far you are probably as confused as I am.

Not a lot to blog about in this heat so I'll take a few days off.
Back Saturday


Tuesday 11 August 2020

Lucky for the Grandchildren

The Sunday car-boot sale was busy again but all I brought home were more things to pass on to the grandchildren, a Christmas book to put in the cupboard for Youngest Granddaughter's advent parcels and a Christmas gift for one of the children down the lane.
 I like to find the 4 children in the lane a little gift for Christmas, this 'Colour a Photo Frame' will be
 OK for the youngest of the girls. I already had something the the boy and the oldest girl. There's just a 12 year old girl to find something for now. Total spend for everything was £4.50.
I got there quite early before it got hot so spent time looking through boxes of books and  hundreds of DVD's but didn't see a single thing of interest - think I'm very fussy about films.
Then home to throw the windows wide, pull the curtains over and try to keep cool on another hot day.

Back Tomorrow

Monday 10 August 2020

Counting Figs

First of my figs for 2020, so, so delicious and since these three I've had 12 more - what a treat. 

The fig tree is only a few years old, brought here in a pot after I bought it from Wilkinsons for £3.50 in January 2017, just before we moved here.
Col took up a paving slab from the patio to make a sheltered spot for it and I watered it all through the dry summers we've had since.

We had a fig tree at the smallholding, started in a pot and them planted out at the back of a chicken shed so the water would run off over it. It took many years to fruit as it wasn't really in a sunny enough place.
I remember my Dad saying "are you going to eat them?" and me saying "yes of course, I love them fresh". He said the only other person he knew who'd liked them was his Mother -  the Gran I never knew because she died when I was only a few months old - I wish I'd known her as she loved gardening and farm life.

What about finding out more about this ancient fruit to fill a blog post?

 Figs originate from Mediterranean countries where they grew wild and were eaten fresh and dried as  part of a staple diet. It's thought the  Romans brought the first fruit here but the trees came quite a while later, perhaps in the early 16th century. They were first grown here as an architectural plant, growing up to 26 feet tall. The fruit rarely ripened and even now after breeding new varieties we only get one crop a year whereas in sunnier and warmer countries they have two crops in a year.
Ben Johnson (1572- 1637) wrote
The early cherry with the later plum, fig, grape and quince each in his time doth come.
 and of course figs get lots of mentions in the bible. The Victorians used tin fig leaves to cover nude male statues in museums and country houses.

As children we were given Syrup of Figs quite often even if we didn't know if we'd "been" or not! I didn't mind it................ but dried figs are quite nasty in my opinion - gritty - one of those things bought every Christmas that nobody ate.

 Back Tomorrow

Saturday 8 August 2020

My Week In Suffolk

It looks as if the "Legacy Blogger" will be switched off completely  towards the end of the month so I've swapped onto the new one and will have to put up with all it's foibles I guess. I tried it a few weeks ago and like everyone else found it annoying and went back, hoping it would continue as an alternative, but it seems not. Oh well.

Flowers on the table this week, blue and white - I know what both these are but the names have just gone out of my head for the moment!

 Shopping this week was at Asda in Stowmarket. While in Stow I ran an errand for the Opticians  by the coast where youngest works. She'd asked if I could pick up a box of PPE from a Stowmarket Opticians to take to her next week. I'm glad I had the address because when I lived and shopped in Stow in the 1980's this opticians was at one end of the town's shopping street and in the mean time it had moved right to the other end.
Coincidentally one of the few Facebook pages I look at  is a Stowmarket Then and Now page and this week they had photos through the years of one of the small shops in the town centre. I remember it as a sweet shop in the 1960's and an Estate Agent in the 1980s but between then and while we were away living near the coast it had been all sorts of different things- interesting to see. It's a British Heart Foundation Charity shop now.

During the week I roasted a tray of my beetroot and onions and shop-bought carrots  to box up and freeze like last year. This year I didn't put in aubergines or peppers because my peppers aren't ready yet and reheated roasted aubergines were horribly squidgy. The boxes were so handy last winter just to pull out and microwave. I need some more boxes before doing another batch because there are already a heap of tubs of aubergine and tomato sauce in the freezer. Winter supplies are looking good so far.

This is what happens when you leave 16 Tulip bulbs in heavy clay soil for 3 years and the reason why my tulips in the Cutting Garden this spring were spindly and small. The original bulbs had produced dozens of tiny bulblets but dry weather on  clay means they don't get much bigger than a thumbnail.

I always watch Gardeners World with envy when Monty digs his lovely soil with a hand trowel to plant things. Here its a battle with a crowbar! Well not quite, but you can see the size of the clods I turned up and this was AFTER I'd bashed the bigger clods a bit.

The Cut Flower Bed was made in a hurry, Colin wasn't really very well although he managed to run the rotovator over this patch after taking off the turf and using more of the wood from the pergola to do the edges and we put the wire netting up around the sides to keep the ducks and pheasants off just a few days before he died.
I came home from shopping via a garden centre and bought a bag of multi purpose compost and a bag of topsoil - to try and improve the soil here a little but what it needs first is some rain.
Then I'll replant the biggest bulbs and put the smaller ones in a planter filled with multi purpose in the hope that they will increase in size. 

 In the mood for sorting out the garden I've made a start on clearing the raspberry bed that we made in the first year and like the strawberry bed in a much too dry a spot. The canes just never multiplied and produced only a handful this year.Forgot to take a photo and there doesn't seem to be a single photo of the raspberry cage apart from the glimpse of it from the bedroom window. 

Eventually found the right size spanner to undo the bolts and now the aluminium frame is down and stacked ready to advertise for sale somewhere - I'll try the Parish Magazine first. Next job when it's cooler is to lever out the wood surround and move 20 paving slabs that we'd put down around the outside. Not this weekend - much too hot.

 This week I'm grateful for

  • The energy to get things done outside 
  • Sunshine
  • Still blogging despite the new annoying format

Hope you all have a good weekend. Car boot for me of course and plenty of reading while half watching the snooker on TV.

Back Monday


Friday 7 August 2020

Plums and Damsons.

You can tell I'm on new blogger for this post, 1 photo centered and then the next won't centre, but at least it's easier to either justify or centre the writing than a few weeks ago.

Plums are ripening BUT the plum-moth trap didn't work - so another year of not biting before cutting open and if it isn't maggots from the moth then it's damage by the wasps. Such a good crop too. All of the above had maggots and their dropping inside - ugh - all looking much worse than the one I'd cut open first

There are even more Damsons than plums - but they are too sharp to eat straight off the tree. I've put two bags full in the freezer. One lot are for Damson Gin for the Christmas Hampers and the other lot for Damson jelly. It's impossible to get the stones out of them so I thought jelly would be easier to make. I ran a sharp knife round the damsons to slit the skins before freezing them so when cooked they should break down more easily.

Many bits of the country, including here in Suffolk are forecast to have a VERY hot day. I think I'll be keeping cool indoors. Must be getting old as I used to love sitting out in the sun!

Back Tomorrow

Thursday 6 August 2020

A Sneak Peek

I can't resist giving a sneaky peek at what I've been doing with the air-drying terracotta coloured  'Das' clay.

Nearly ready for the Christmas hampers. Hopefully today is  a day that neither my Sister or Sister in Law looks at the blog!

Back Tomorrow

Wednesday 5 August 2020

No Sooner Said Than Gone

Colin used to complain that when I came up with an idea I always wanted it done straight away. This is very true. Poor man.............. how did he put up with me for so many years!?

Anyway, having decided last week that the strawberry bed we built in our first year here wasn't worth keeping I straight away set about getting rid.

The edges were made from the wood frame of the strange pointless pergola thing, that lurked at the end of the garden when we moved in ...... Here it is in April 2017

By July 2017 we'd done this with some of the wood. The new raspberry bed closest to camera and the strawberry bed beyond

From the bedroom window you can see how close the two beds(the raspberry cage frame also needs to come down- somehow- it's bolted, nailed and very fixed) are to the hedge and trees - a much too dry spot. Photo below from September 2018.

First I forked out all the half-dead strawberry plants then I was able to unscrew most of the wood frame and with a bit of levering with a spade removed all the wood. That's now on the heap to be cut up for firewood sometime.

Leaving a hump of soil.............
After shoveling off 4 barrow loads of loose top soil it was more or less level with the grass surrounding it.
So job done. I can now run over it with the ride on mower and cut down whatever grows and eventually it will grass over - or I could buy a little grass seed.

Back Tomorrow


Tuesday 4 August 2020

A Few Good Finds at the Boot-Sale

Lots of people selling at the local boot-sale on Sunday and crowds buying too, but plenty of room to look round without feeling hassled by too many people. They've spread the sellers out and stretched the car park to a bit further away so although it's further to walk from the car park it never feels crowded around the tables of stuff - and plenty of STUFF too - junk, tat and unwanted rubbish!

Although if I had a bottomless purse I could have bought toys for grandchildren to last them for the next 10 years and enough children's books to stock several libraries!

 Instead I came away with just 4 things

 A large photo frame with four spaces now I have four grandchildren was £1. The tin of 4 puzzles and the clock fit-together thing were to take to Youngest Granddaughter  as I was going there for lunch but my favourite find was the Mediterranean Cheese Making Kit. "It's not been opened and its out of date" The lady said when I asked how much and I was expecting her to say it was several £'s but when she said £3 my purse opened quite quickly! . After putting my glasses on I found the Best Before date was 1st August 2020 - so only 1 day over!
 I used to make a soft goats cheese quite often when we had plenty of milk and also a paneer type cheese too and thought it would be fun to see what this kit does. (Just looked on Amazon - this kit retails for £27.50 !!!)

I still haven't got round to writing a list of things to look for but remembered to search for a  tin-opener - although it  might be better to buy a brand new one anyway, to be sure it's OK. I do have a tin opener but it's sometimes temperamental so put one on my mental "look for" list. Perhaps next week - weather permitting.

Back Tomorrow

Monday 3 August 2020

Library Book Last

It has been a long wait but these were my reservations collected from the library van last week

Three crime fiction and three non-fiction.
Candace Robb hadn't written a book in her Owen Archer historical crime series since 2008 so I'd given up looking on Fantastic Fiction for new books, then suddenly she's produced two more. Mine is the first from 2019 and I have the 2020 one on order too. The other two crime are both the latest in their series. Feed your family for £20 a week might have a few ideas - if they can be altered for feeding one person-  I'll flip through it. The Last Landlady is the authors story of her Grandmother who was the first woman to hold a pub license in her own right. Not sure what The Lifegiving Home is or where I heard about it but a quick look tells me I won't be reading it.

Andrew the library man said during the first weeks of lock-down he rang everyone on his membership list - all  the people who use the van - about 650 he thought and only one person had had any virus symptoms. The majority of people who use the library van are elderly  - I'm young compared to most! so there really weren't many people in Suffolk with covid - I've still not come across anyone who's had it. The window cleaner who's been out and about all through the last 5 months said he only knew of one person who'd died from it- and that was an elderly neighbour who'd gone into a care home and had lots of other background problems. He'd heard of a few people who'd had possible symptoms early on but nothing for weeks.
Still a safe place to live I think.

Library man Andrew is even more worried about keeping his job- he said almost everyone was returning their books but not wanting to browse the shelves or take any home except what they'd ordered - even with the safety measures put in place. This could be a good excuse for saying the mobile library isn't needed, as they were already talking about reducing it to just a small van with a limited choice.  As I normally order all my books and just collect from the van it would be easy for me to collect them from a branch, although I would need to go more often than once in 4 weeks as they don't keep requests on the reservation shelf for very long and I'd need to keep an eye on the due dates to avoid fines, something I don't need to think about at the moment.

Apologies for lack of comments on all the blogs I read. I've been turning the lap top off early and many people post in the evening so I don't get to read until next day when it always seems a bit late to leave a comment. For the same reason more apologies are needed for not getting round to replying to comments on here. ........hopeless!

Back Tomorrow

Saturday 1 August 2020

August Country Days

The mice are back.
This is the August page illustrating the Sara Coleridge poem from a childrens book I've used before.

The mice are gleaning the cornfield for their winter stores.

Don't worry about rain in August because...........

"August rain gives honey and wine"

But on the other hand..............
  "Dry August and warm doth harvest no harm".

The first of August is celebrated in some parts of the Northern hemisphere as Lammas or Loaf Mass. This is when the first loaf of bread made from the first wheat harvested is blessed in a church service.
It would have been a public holiday when fairs were held and also marked the start of the time commoners were allowed to graze their animals on the stubble fields.

Combines are out and about here cutting the barley, the wheat will be next, it's almost ready.

Here's an obvious saying............
If weather be fair and tidy,
thy grain make speedy carriage,
for fear of rain. 


There were plenty of "speedy carriages"on the road yesterday when I popped over early to see Youngest Daughter and Florence. The mass of traffic heading up the A12 to Lowestoft was crazy. With fewer people going abroad this summer I reckon the coast roads will be madly busy on any sunny day.

I shall be staying close to home through August.

Have  a good weekend, whatever your plans - hope you don't get stuck in a traffic jam.
Back Monday