Wednesday 30 September 2020

The End of September Finances - Ins, Outs and Frugal Bits

What a gloomy day yesterday was here in Suffolk. I think the rest of the country had decent weather but Norfolk and Suffolk got drizzle and then really heavy rain and back to drizzle again. I went and got a proper hair cut, picked up my tablets from the surgery and had a stroke of luck..... no queue, which meant I avoided getting too wet but what on earth are they going to do when the weather gets really bad. Making very elderly people queue outside to collect their prescription medications will end up killing them off! I know they do some deliveries but lots of older people like the little bit of independence .

 Anyway it's the end of September so..................

The  usual monthly income - County Council Spouses Pensions, interest from savings plus £50 for the sale of the Fruit Cage and all of a £1.50 Tesco voucher!.

The usual outgoings....Direct Debits for Council Tax, Car Breakdown, Phones and Charity - all the same each month. Plus........The electric bill finally  arrived, three weeks later than last year so it was a bit more and I bought a new gas cylinder for the cooker = £37 - they've stayed the same price since I had the LPG cooker installed 3 years ago
More diesel used this month now that I'm driving more to swimming, boot sales and across to the coast to visit or look after Eldest Granddaughter,  diesel spending not quite back to pre-lockdown but nearly.
 Decided to "allow" myself one new book a month if there was no sign of the library getting a copy, this month it was a second-hand copy of one of the British Library Crime Classics.
Food for me and stocked up on more cat food than usual as some was on offer. Few bits for the first aid drawer and the bathroom cupboard. I spent £20 on compost, Heathers and some allium bulbs for the garden and I bought the local paper a couple of times and a new puzzle book.

And finally after 6 months I had a proper hair cut which I really REALLY needed.




Frugal Bits

The only fruit bought  all month were the 3 mangoes for the Mango Chutney. I ate pears and apples from the garden
Only money spent on vegetables was a few pence for carrots and £1 for a bag of stir-fry bits including bean-sprouts to make a change from my usual pepper/carrot/onion combo (the bag did 3 meals)
Home made bread all month
Cold water caught before the hot appears - to use elsewhere
Milk mixed half and half with water
Boiler not used for 2 weeks when it went wrong! (luckily the water got heated by the solar thermal panel and the weather was still good.)
Reading library books for free
2 DVDs borrowed from library for free (they go back to charging for them and overdue books in October)
One Pensioners Fish and Chips meal when picking up prescription meds from next village.
A pensioners discount on haircut too because of going on a Tuesday
No clothes, shoes, make-up, perfume etc etc etc
A bundle of Puzzle pages out of the local paper from my sister.
Cheap swimming using my prepayment discount card - which from Oct 1st the company have now withdrawn - and, because of now having to book and pay online,  they've not worked out a way to refund the unused portion which means they have £15 of my money! Everyone Active run over 180 leisure centres around the country so there must be quite a lot of people owed money and with so little money coming in because of the limitations on numbers, I wonder if I'll get my money back

Plans for October
The bill will arrive for the boiler repair/service and I'd better organise the chimney to be swept. 
There shouldn't be too many big expenses - hopefully, and after all the recent rain there might not be any small at-the-car-boot spending either as the site could well be water-logged.
Back Tomorrow

Tuesday 29 September 2020

It's All About Tomatoes

It's almost  the end of the tomatoes in the greenhouse. I've had plenty to eat all the way since the very first one in June and  have now taken  off lots of leaves and dead bits to let the light in to the few remaining that are still green.

 The seed catalogues for 2021 have started to arrive - 3 so far -  Kings, D.T Brown and Marshalls. I had a look in the seed tin to see what's left from this year. ........Very few Ildi Yellow plum, even less Big Mama and a new packet of Rio Grande which must have been in a collection on a magazine because they are not a variety I know.

Once upon a time - not so long ago all tomatoes were red, round and 8 to a pound. My Aunt and Uncle on a Land Settlement Association smallholding through the 50's and 60's had long greenhouses full - all one sort - round, red and 8 to the pound. Anything too big or too small were fed to the pigs.

Now it's easier to buy more than one variety in the supermarket and the choice for growing at home is huge..........................In the  D.T Brown catalogue alone  there are 49 different sorts to choose from. Indoor only, Indoor/outdoor or outdoor only; Giant Beefsteak, very large, large,  small or very small;  round,  plum or grape; yellow, red, orange, striped, black and new this year a tomato that ripens to.....................GREEN....................why I wondered?

In Suffolk we have a HUGE greenhouse, the size of 11 football pitches built a few years ago and now producing vine tomatoes from March to October. Another similar has already being built in Norfolk.

and two more are in the planning stage....... I googled..................

Two giant greenhouses costing £120m are to be built next to sewage works to grow millions of tomatoes and bring 360 agricultural jobs.
Work on the greenhouses - the UK's largest - has already begun at Trowse, near Norwich, and Ingham, Suffolk.
Heat to create an ideal growing temperature will be pumped into the greenhouses from the sewage works.
New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) said they would provide an economic "shot in the arm".
Britain consumes 500,000 tonnes of tomatoes a year but only 20% are home-grown.

But back to my greenhouse - what 7 or 8 plants to grow next year?  Definitely Big Mama from the D.T Brown  Indoor only list,  they are delicious and have hardly any seeds or pulp and the skin comes off really easily when using them for chutney. I'll use the T & M Rio Grande packet and then maybe find something else completely different because looking for a new packet of Ildi - the yellow plum toms - in the Kings catalogue, I found, printed over the top of the Ildi photo CROP FAILURE!  

 So that's the reason none of mine germinated........... the seeds which I bought last year all failed and so did  those grown for seed for 2021. Well......... that answers that conundrum which I've been puzzling over all summer..........I must have re-sown with something different when the Ildi didn't appear and forgot to re-write the label! No point keeping the few seeds left from this year then!
 I shall peruse my catalogues and choose. Hopefully once again I will be 100% home grown from June to October.
Back Tomorrow

Monday 28 September 2020

This, That and The Ogham Alphabet

 E.ON who are my electricity supplier have decided they are moving everything online - perhaps to persuade more people to have the smart meter. It says I MUST register and set up an online account or I won't be able to see my bill. I'm pondering what will happen if I do nothing and don't see my bill - ha! wont be able to pay it then will I? How long would they let things go before cutting me off?  

I'm selfishly very happy with the way the swimming pool is having to operate at the moment with virus restrictions. There are many more opportunities to swim than before and so few people swimming. I went early afternoon on Saturday and had half the pool to myself, a lovely quiet swim.(Although they are now changing this session to a family one so I won't be able to go at the same time). The only down was on the way home when a stone flew up and chipped the windscreen. Bother!

Saturday afternoon and the first fire of the season and it was much needed too.

Last month I forgot to do a post about the tree that represented the 9th Lunar month in the Ogham Tree Alphabet. (It was Hazel) and nearly missed this one too.

For the 10th Lunar month, the 'tree' is a Bramble representing the letter  M -  perhaps to the Celtic Druids 2,000 years ago there was no difference in language between trees and bushes, and brambles left to themselves soon turn into a thicket.

Above and Below....The illustrations from the Ogham Sketch Book  by Karen Cater


This Bramble below is one of my own - newly grown - not on purpose - at the top of the ditch on the meadow. 

I haven't picked any blackberries this year  - they are not my favourite things - I'd rather have an apple crumble without the seeds, prefer strawberry jam to blackberry and have plenty of other fruit in the freezer. So the birds will benefit. 

Guess what I'll be watching on TV this week?....................Tennis! French open on ITV4 all week. Good News Indeed.


Going back to my Friday Library Book Photo and all the interesting comments - here are some replies.

Unknown.....................I like sharing ideas for reading and collecting ideas from other bloggers 

Rachel..................I think it was you or Pat Weaver who mentioned the Jan Morris book. I had just started work in the library when he became her and remember the fuss about the new book at the time and change of name 

 Ang.....................The Little Library Year is more recipes than books - disappointing (for me anyway) 

 Sharon...................I'm glad you enjoy the library photo  

Pat..........................Fewer books on shelves now! 

Mazda...................Hope you get your proper library service back   

Sooze...................Hope you reading mojo soon returns

Later this week there will be photos of men up poles! Our electric in the area will be off while they switch us all to a generator for the week as lots of upgrading of poles and wires is happening. Including the pole right outside my gateway.

Back Tomorrow

Saturday 26 September 2020

Going Back to Strange Times? Week 28

Thank you to everyone for comments about books yesterday. Sorry for not replying - I had the sort of day that hopefully won't be repeated very soon. More on this later..............


Now..................shall I write about all the strange things regarding Strange Times that I've heard this week...........?

"There could be queues of up to 7,000 lorries waiting in Kent to cross the channel during the first few weeks of January, with a No Deal Brexit"

"People mustn't visit inside another persons home in Scotland"

"No one is allowed in a pub or restaurant  after 10pm"

 "Huge increase in purchases of toilet rolls reported at Cash and Carry stores this week" 

"University students may not be allowed home for Christmas." 

"Half the population of Wales is in a type of Lockdown"


No, No and  No!!  I'll just write what's happened up the end of a lane in Mid Suffolk......................

Two late flowering gladioli on the table this week. The same colour as the first. There should be 2 different colours but only these gorgeous dark pink have appeared. 

Both Youngest Daughter and Son decided they didn't want the bookshelves that were originally in Col's bedroom. So I got Brother-in-Law to help me get them downstairs to use them in the conservatory for the grandchildren's toys.
 I do seem to have rather a lot of toys, at least there's no chance of them being bored when they come to visit! Everything on these shelves are my car-boot bargains, except for the little cart of bricks bottom left, they were new.....................handmade about 63 years ago! And the "vintage" Fisher Price Play People, they were new.....................about 38 years ago.


Hooray for Ian, the boiler repair man, who arrived much later than planned on Monday due  to problems at the previous job.  He apologised for being so late but I said it was just good that he could get here before the weather changes to cold later in the week. He repaired and serviced the boiler and said did I know the boiler is nearly 40 years old (blimey!) and it could give up anytime. He's reminded me of this every time it's serviced. He doesn't do new boiler installation  but gave me details of 2 companies that are reliable. That means the boiler and the sewer need doing sooner rather than later......Expensive...............The outside of the house could do with painting too.....sometime.

Swimming was good, just 3 people in the slow half of the pool so we had to go round and round but plenty of room to avoid each other. A new sign in the Sports Centre told everyone they have to download the new NHS app so they can register where they are and be informed of coming into contact with someone with a virus. My cheap phone does do apps but it clogs things up and apps soon stop working - which doesn't bother me because my phone is just for phoning and texting.. As the pool have all my details because of the on-line booking system  I don't intend to go out and buy a new phone. 

And then yesterday, a day that involved driving across to the coast, getting the  nearly-4-year-old Oldest Granddaughter in and out of the car several times. Picking her up. Feeding us both lunch, getting her changed out of Nursery uniform,  and into Ballet clothes, driving to ballet and back and then out of Ballet clothes into home clothes and finally a late and slow drive home to Mid Suffolk and all this in pouring rain with the wind blowing a hooley. Floods and trees down all over the place and roads closed................ I didn't do much when I got home except collapse in a heap. This Nana business is Hard Work!
Got up this morning to find a huge branch from the Field Maple in the back boundary hedge is down, right where the raspberry cage was -...........phew...........thank goodness I took the cage down and got it sold.

Hope you all have a good weekend.  Apart from going swimming - mine will be quiet - Very Quiet!
Back Monday

Friday 25 September 2020

The September Library Book Haul

Happiness is......................bringing home a nice heap of books from the library van.

 Some of these are here because they've been mentioned on another book-lovers blog. Others have popped up on the recommended bit of Amazon and  the one by M.W. Craven on the right looks very familiar but  it's not in my book of books read.

Of course Best of All is the Elly Griffiths book - I've been on the very long waiting list for an age. 2nd best will be the Anne Perry book - always a good read.

 I've been wanting to read the Persephone book - Saplings for ages and even have an old original pre-Persephone copy on my shelf but the print is too small to read, finally remembered to order it.

 Also there is a cookery book to look through and  The sustainable(ish)  Living Guide for a reminder of what I should be doing.

And this month I've also borrowed 2 DVDs - because it's still free to borrow them. Third Star on the right has  Tom Burke (Strike) in it as I wanted to see what else he'd done.On the left is a Kevin Costner film I've never seen. My children wouldn't be surprised to see this here! they know KC was my second favourite man after their Dad!

Last Month 

These were the books collected in August. They've all gone back although some were unread for various reasons - mostly because I just couldn't get into them. The 5 read have been added to the separate 'Books Read 2020' Page

Not sure that the September heap will last me through the next 4 weeks, but there are still "quite a few" here on my own shelves to read!

 Back Tomorrow


Thursday 24 September 2020

Why I Bought 3 Heathers

Last Saturday  I bought 3 Heathers. I left home with no intention of buying any plants at all. 

And it's all because months ago I gave away the sad Blueberry bushes to my Sis-in-Law and BiL and  also passed on a quarter of a bag of Ericasious compost. Later I remembered it was meant to be used to refresh the huge pot which holds my Camellia. 

So off I go to buy a new bag of compost, they are quite big, which meant I would again be left with some in the bag sitting in the greenhouse but while at the garden centre I noticed their collections of Heathers, which also need Ericasious..........a colourful way to cheer up the winter patio and use some more compost I thought,  but they were in packs of 6 and quite expensive, so I left them.

On the way home I stopped at Tesco, and outside they had lots of individual Heathers, cheaper than the garden centre. Brainwave ........... I could put them in the little planter that I'd emptied of it's dead pansies and stand it on the patio table for the winter.
So I bought 2 small Heathers and one a bit bigger, it  had to be 3  because of the odd number rule when planting. (As per Pat - Weavers - blog post from a couple of weeks ago!)
One Problem.................3 plants wouldn't fit in the planter I was planning to use. Never mind, there is another - it's plastic - not as nice as the small stone one , but would do.

When I got round to planting and put my glasses on to read the labels I found............  2 of my new colourful Heathers are FAKE!

I Googled............. What are Painted Heathers? and found................................
 "Painted" or "dyed" heathers are heathers, almost always plants of Calluna vulgaris (ling or Scotch heather), which have been sprayed all over with a dye. Therefore, instead of being the typical darkish green one expects of a living heather, they are garishly coloured: bright, florescent blue, red, yellow, orange and pale green. The dyes used are evidently water- and weatherproof because they do not wash off in rain. The colouring also appears not to fade in sunlight.

Information about the dyes used is difficult to obtain, apart from the general assertion that they are "food dyes".

To be effective, the dye has to be sprayed all over the heather. This treatment cannot be good for a living plant. Any plants I have purchased have been dead within a short time. The dyes are undoubtedly harmful to the plants by inhibiting photosynthesis and transpiration.

"Painted" heathers need the same growing conditions that all Calluna cultivars require: lime-free, moist soil and full sunlight. They are frost-hardy.

These artificially dyed plants are not indoor plants - they should be grown outdoors either planted in a container (tub, window-box) or into a flower-bed. However the garish colours are not appropriate for most garden situations.

What happens next? Providing the heather is alive and lives, new shoots should appear in spring. These will not be coated with the dye so they should be green (or turn green). Gradually the dyed foliage should be shed and a fully green plant will gradually develop.

In short, "painted" or "dyed" heathers are as artificial as plastic flowers - heather enthusiasts should not be tempted to waste money on them.

 So I've got 1 real and 2 fake! and all because I gave away a quarter of a bag of compost!!

Although they look quite good when viewed from the kitchen window.

Back Tomorrow

Wednesday 23 September 2020

How One Thing Leads to Another and Mango Chutney

What gorgeous weather we've had here in Mid-Suffolk over the last few days. Absolutely perfect for Autumn outdoor work, although my list of outdoor jobs to do seems to be getting longer as I start doing one bit of clearing which then turns into finding somewhere else that needs tidying.................the straight forward job of cutting back the Lavender ended up in pulling out a lot of  the Phlomis - Turkish Sage that was spreading everywhere - it might look good in early summer but it's a bit of a bully.

 Brother-in-Law using the topper to clear on the meadow gave me access to the small heap of  road planings that were delivered not long before Colin died. They were meant for patching up pot-holes down the track and most were used. Now I've cut away the brambles that were trailing over the heap I can use some of what's left for doing the edge of the track and just inside my gateway............ it turns muddy in winter because I squeeze through one gate to save me opening both! Another job for the list.

Sometimes I have to switch to indoor jobs to use the things that are growing, so here's another chutney to make use of the big red peppers, hadn't made this one for ages. Possibly another  concocted from a couple of other recipes to make something sweet and fruity to go with curry. One recipe  tried years ago before making this one, turned out even hotter than the curry - not what I wanted at all.


3lb Mangoes ( 3 Very large or 5 small)
½ tsp salt
1 Large Red pepper
12oz cooking apples
15 fl oz distilled vinegar
1 large onion chopped
7oz  gran. sugar
1tsp ground ginger
Slice the mango flesh, place in a non metallic bowl, sprinkle with salt and set aside.
Put vinegar and sugar in a preserving  pan and heat gently until sugar is dissolved.
Add the peeled, cored and chopped apples, mangoes,onion and ginger to pan, bring to boil slowly stirring regularly.
Reduce heat and simmer gently for about an hour, stirring more frequently until chutney is thick with no excess liquid.
Pour chutney into sterilised jars and seal with new sterilised lid.
Leave to mature for 2 weeks and use within a year.
Chopped in the pan and ready to cook
This is what I want it to look like when cooked...... after about an hour or so. I gave it a bit of a mash with a potato masher just to squash a few bits of the mango which didn't cook down so well.

Just a tad under 4 jars full, 2 will go in the Christmas hampers.
 I've eaten several, given some away, put loads in the freezer, made two lots of chutney and there are still 4 huge peppers - gradually turning to red -  on the plants in the greenhouse!

 Back Tomorrow

Tuesday 22 September 2020

Putting Autumn Back on the Mantelpiece

 Summer wasn't very exciting on my living room mantelpiece, which doesn't really matter as most of my time is hopefully spent outside. 


 But when Autumn arrives it's all change. With today being the traditional first day of Autumn, the equinox or Mabon,  it was time to pull out the box  from under the stairs and cheer things up as we head to shorter days.


My Hare stays there all year (A hare-for-all-seasons!) and this is the fourth autumn for the leaf swag, jug and wooden fruit, the second year for the mushroom cluster and the first year for the 2 wooden mushrooms, sent to me from my penfriend. I've added a little "Happiness is Home made" plate this year for a change - it usually sits on the dresser - might need to stick it to the wall with a bit of blue-tac as I don't possess a plate stand thingy of any sort. The mantelpiece has cheered things up for a few weeks, and bats and pumpkin will be added for Halloween. 

Speaking of Bats........... anyone know how a cat catches a bat? Have you ever seen it happen? I ask because on Sunday night Polly came through the cat flap in a rush, always a bad sign! Luckily the door into the conservatory was open and that's where she took her catch, which I assumed was a mouse. But when I went to investigate I found a bat flitting about desperately looking for a way out. I quickly opened the outside door and went back into the living room shutting the door behind me and it must have found it's way back out into the dark - probably in a state of shock. 

This is the second time my small black cat has brought a bat indoors and I have no idea how she does it, how does a bat with its built in radar get caught by a wimp of a cat.

 Back Tomorrow

And a PS - hello and welcome to some more new followers, just noticed numbers have reached 630. If you've just found me I hope you enjoy reading.

Monday 21 September 2020


 Winter is coming!    

As well as the Hawthorn being covered in Haws, the Holly trees a mile away are also loaded with berries.

I cycled the 6 mile loop  round all the bits of the village last Friday stopping on the way to take this photo and a couple of other tree photos for the Ogham Tree Alphabet blog posts (which got completely forgotten this month). I hadn't been out on my bike at all since getting back to swimming, had to pump up the tyres before I could get going.

Brother-in-Law came yesterday with his old tractor and topper to sort the meadow, it's done and looking tidy with brambles gone from as much as possible. If there are no orchids next year I know I've done the wrong thing but hopefully the seeds should still be there.

He started off by saying that he would cut down everything but I managed to persuade him to leave a bit of the wildness down the bottom end on the right, leaving seed heads and undergrowth for a few creatures.

Mrs F. who we bought the house from, used to keep the whole meadow cut short all the time but I've got better things to do. The compromise is to keep the footpath cut and leave the rest and then every few years have a big tidy as above......that's my theory anyway.

A huge bonfire heap on the left waiting for November 5th . There are still a few rockets in the cupboard  from my first ever bonfire/fireworks party last year - hope at least a few people will be allowed to come and share fireworks and hot dogs. It's 7 weeks away and heavens know what restrictions will be happening by then.

Back Tomorrow


Saturday 19 September 2020

A Good Week

I hadn't though about trying a different font until Deborah in Wales mentioned it, there are dozens, and I mean DOZENS available to choose from with new blogger .....this one is called COURGETTE .......seems apt! I think it's too hard to read  easily so it will be a one off. I scrolled down and down the fonts available without ever getting to the end but didn't find Comic Sans which is what I always use when typing on Word.

Maybe I'll try a different font everyday!

Beautiful sunny days here for most of the week and when the patio out the back of the house was in shade I scraped out the moss, soil and weeds from between lots of the slabs and pavers. Amazing what will grow when there doesn't even seem room for a seed to get started. It's not the look of the patio full of weeds that's the problem but rather a clump of weeds collects more dust and dirt around it - then rain water won't run away which  breaks the concrete joints and eventually loosens the slab. It was getting really messy and needed doing before we get too much rain to make bits slimey and slippery.
There was lots of this.......

Yellow Oxalis, Sleeping Beauty (Oxalis corniculata)

"A fairly common garden weed that ought to be welcome for its ability to cover the ground in interesting reddish leaves and bright yellow trumpet flowers. Spreads rapidly, grows anywhere. Very difficult to get rid of, with tiny tubers and lots of seeds."

Also during the week when  the full water butt was in shade I washed all the flower pots that had been used this year - and I reckon some from last year too. Job done.

Just one swim during the week, but only two people booked in for the slow half so we were able to go up and down, rather than round and round. (Last Saturday I had half the pool to myself!) I keep hoping it's not going to get much busier and so far so good, although that's not much help for the finances of Everyone Active - the company who run the pool and the job security of the staff.

 This week I'm grateful for 

  • Sunny September days
  • The letter from the NHS saying no problems seen on the mammogram


Tomorrow BiL Andrew is coming with tractor and topper/mower to cut down some of the very weedy bits of the meadow. Don't believe everything you read about the new buzz word............Re-Wilding! What actually happens when you leave a plot to "go back to nature" is that after a few years you get brambles.........not wonderful wild flowers and Silver Birch trees which is what is supposed to happen. It's true we had orchids here that have never been seen here before, but they too are soon crowded out by bigger, hardier stuff. It needs a bit of management. 

Hope everyone has a lovely weekend. I hope to make the most of the sunny weather as the forecast for the end of next week isn't too good. 
P.S Forgot to reply to comments yesterday. I turned off the laptop early and never went back. A Peahen is a female Peacock and no, there are no wildlife parks anywhere and yes they are noisy. Not seen her now for several days so maybe she's moved on.
Back Monday

Friday 18 September 2020

If I hadn't heard...............................

.................... the sound of this bird a few weeks ago, and later told by my neighbour it had been seen around. I would have had a shock when I spotted it out on the front field grazing the stubble along with the pheasants.

Nobody knows who she belongs to or if she has just arrived in our part of the village for a 'flying' visit!.

Fun but very strange to see a Peahen "in the wild"

Back tomorrow,


Thursday 17 September 2020

Don't Try This at Home.......Yet

I wanted a chutney recipe to use and celebrate the  giant red peppers but without using tomatoes (which have nearly finished). Searched my recipe books and found this in my oldest, much splattered preserves book.

But I didn't want a brown chutney so didn't want to use brown vinegar or brown sugar or black treacle and I'm not overly keen on currants,raisins or sultanas in chutney.


I chopped some onions, cooking apples and 4 giant red peppers and added up the weights. Which came to more or less half the weight of the fruit in the original recipe. I added white sugar and red wine vinegar - using a bit more than half the recipe as it looked too dry - and a little salt .

Cooked it all together until it thickened up and popped into hot sterilised jars. ( I didn't add spices to the jar as per the recipe) Screwed down tight while still hot.

It made 5 jars

and a little left over to taste. Very sweet and sour.

  Because this is a sort-of made up idea for a chutney I have no idea how well it will keep - which is why I say don't try it yet. I'll let you know in a month or three.

There are still some big peppers ripening in the greenhouse and I've already put lots in the freezer, but among my recipes is one for mango and pepper chutney - another one for the Christmas hampers maybe.
(See the old metric measurement for vinegar............. 6dl? This book was written way before we went metric and dl's were never used when eventually metric became more common - not even sure what it means.........deci-litres I guess ...........600ml we would say now I think)

Back Tomorrow

Wednesday 16 September 2020

The Usual Photo of Car-Boot Bargains!

"Oh My God, she's been buying loads of stuff again!"  It's true - but what I buy is secondhand and cheap, saves me money, saves my children money, the money is kept local, saves things from landfill and you won't find photos of all the new things I buy..............because I rarely do.

 Anyway.......I'm not sure how many more car-boot bargain photos there will be........... depends on the weather, once we get spell of wet then they'll have to stop as the whole site gets water-logged.

The Grandchildren came off best as usual last Sunday.

I took the drum (but not the drumsticks) from the box of musical instruments over to Son's house for 7 month old Youngest Grandson to bang,  "music" is important...........right?! Also in the box is a tambourine, shakers and a few other noisy things, better keep them here for now......... £2 paid.

The toy microwave, kettle and toaster (also £2) will stay here but the travel activity packs (50p)will go on journeys with grandchildren when they are a bit older. There's a box of candles (50p) ready for Eldest Granddaughter's birthday in October and the teeny flip-top bottle (20p) to add to two I found in a charity shop are for the Damson Gin for the Christmas hampers.

Finally the old bread-board was just 30p! I've got a few of these now - I use them for pan-stands or chopping boards - never paid as little as 30p for one before though.

Back Tomorrow


Tuesday 15 September 2020

Preparing for Winter

The Hawthorn hedges are loaded with berries..........traditionally a sign of a hard winter.

....................but more likely a sign of a perfect Autumn.

 Preparing for winter in town or city involves  just buying a new winter coat and a new pair of boots and getting the central heating checked.
(That last thing is something that urgently needs doing here  because 2 weeks ago the timer control thingy went wrong  so the only way I could turn the boiler off was by its main switch, then next day it was OK but the following day it wouldn't switch on!)

But apart from the boiler there are several other things I need to  do to get ready for winter living out here in the country for my 3rd winter alone, especially with possible Brexit problems on the horizon and local lockdown always threatening.

Love a list...........
  • Get the boiler fixed and serviced
  • Get the chimney swept
  • Chop more kindling and bring some wood closer to the house.
  • Put lots of apples into the freezer
  • Make some gooseberry/date chutney for hampers
  • Make Damson jelly for hampers
  • Re-stock with windscreen wash stuff for the car
  • Clear the veg. beds that have finished 
  • Clean out the greenhouse
  • Wash all the empty flower pots
  • Get things ready to lag outside tap and washing machine outlet
  • Make sure cupboards are well stocked with food in-case of bad weather
  • Don't leave Christmas prep until December..............just-in-case.

I used to write a piece each winter for the Suffolk Smallholders Society Newsletter about preparing the smallholding for winter. There were lots of things to do to get ready for feeding livestock and then for lambing. Plus checking and preparing vehicles for bad weather.

It's a bit simpler here.

 Many thanks for comments yesterday.

Back Tomorrow


Monday 14 September 2020

Rural Bygones Sale

First of all thank you to everyone for comments about the NHS winter flu jab. The consensus seems to be that side effects are negligible so I will try and remember to ring at their specified time and book in for October.


 Three times a year the Auction place at Campsea Ash has a Domestic and Rural Bygones and Collectibles sale. After a look at the on-line catalogue I decided a journey out to look on viewing day seemed a good idea - must be a year since I last went.

 Here is a little look at a few of the 1,000 + Lots

This first photo is from online as it was in the cabinet so impossible to photograph. This is an "Unusual Folk Art  Salve Box" - lovely bit of treen  Estimated to sell at £20 to £40

I took a few photos of some of the interesting bits and bobs from amongst the rusty junk!

 Old Staddle Stones estimated to go for £200 - £400 EACH!


A newly built "Shepherds Hut".........Estimated at £2,500 - £3,000. ( It didn't meet it's reserve so didn't sell - wouldn't it make a good play house for Grandchildren! - if only I had a spare £2,500!)

I spent ages a few years ago looking for a replacement glass  'fishing float' after mine broke while we were living in Ipswich. There are 6 boxes of them here - about 36 in total. different colours and sizes.
Lots of metal mechanical money boxes, these are reproductions and were estimated at £10 to £20 each.........which is how I know they are repro....... 100+ year old originals would be much more

I love these old gingerbread moulds but they would become dust collectors in my house. The one on the right is double sided and estimated at £40 - £60(It sold for £75) The other was estimated £20 - £40


This is something I LOVE! "An Antique Glass Lacemakers lamp"  only about 8 inches tall, but it has nowhere for oil or candle so I think its a magnifier and would have been stood in front of a candle to increase the range of light (Jennie in Wales will tell me if I'm wrong). It is beautiful but estimated at £50 - £80 so not in my price range!


I wouldn't mind this collection of kitchenalia - a few old cookery books and a Tala stacking cake tin. Estimated at £10 - £20


On the catalogue website I thought this little cabinet- below -  was about 12 inches wide but it was actually about double that. Estimated at £60 - £80, but it sold for £150.

In front are two old elm bowls from the C19 they sold for £35

A very weird collection of wooden frogs,supposedly from a shop display - very strange but online bidding was already up to £45 on Friday

And finally another photo from the auction website because  I forgot to look at this collection of small C19 oddments which includes a couple of Welsh Love spoons. I meant to look specially at the little patch(?) box with a painted lid, it looks very pretty.

I was having an early lunch so watched some of the auction online. The "Star" lot was a 1952 Series 1 Landrover - owned since new by  one farming family and not restored. It was estimated at £5,000 - £7,000 but sold for an amazing £19,000! 

I didn't bid on anything but I expect lots of people did and most will have sold by the end of the day.

Back Tomorrow


Saturday 12 September 2020

Saturday Once More

Notes from the week....................

Wanted.......... someone with a strong boot to dig out 4 dead-ish rose bushes. They were here when I came and despite regular dead-heading are now more dead than alive. Either they are bushes that  should have been cut right back or they've just come to the end of their natural life. I don't really know much about roses, not something I ever choose to grow in any of the 7 homes so have only inherited them in various gardens. But as it's a dedicated rose garden, edged with bricks and has obviously been there a long time it would be nice to add some new bushes after I've remove the old, dug over the rock hard bed and added some soil improver. Just have no idea how to get the darn things out - might have to wait for a big down pour and a strong man!

It's sad when some things's nothing serious, just my next door but one neighbours putting their beautiful home up for sale, they are such a lovely young couple, Suffolk people who've lived there since they built it mostly themselves 6 years ago on the site of an old cottage.
Who will afford it - it's very expensive but costs nothing to run as it has every energy saving feature you can think of.  I will miss them and their two daughters. It means I'll have lived up the lane longer than everyone else yet I've only been here 3½ years.

Here's another change......... making me feel eldest grandson down in Surrey has started school as he'll be 5 next May. Eldest daughter sent me a lovely photo of him looking so grown up in his uniform,which I'll be able to print out and pop in my 4 space photo frame.

On Thursday it was the regular every-three-years Boob Squashing! Just a quick trip up to Eye and the mobile unit. Thank goodness for this service, I shall await the results and hope all is OK. Still don't understand people who refuse to go for this easy check up. Although there is one thing I was invited for this week............ my first flu-jab -  that I'm not sure about having it at all. I've heard some folk get a bad reaction and other people don't and as I spend very little time mixing with people other than family indoors and even less this winter plus we'll all be wearing masks when out, maybe it's better to avoid the jab.

These are the last of the aubergines, less than egg sized egg-plants!. Too late now for them to get much bigger so I brought them all in, even the ones no bigger than a large grape and turned them into a batch of aubergine, pepper, tomato and onion sauce for pasta. Nothing going to waste here.

 Clearing stuff out.

The last mention of clearing things out was at the end of February before everything came to a standstill. But now I can get started again. So....................

  •  5 Jigsaw puzzles have gone to my sister ( I decided I'd rather read or write than do a jigsaw - I really only like them when they are finished!)
  • A large cardboard box full of old wrapping paper and bubble wrap that's been stood in the corner of the garage for 3 years has been sorted and chucked or kept for sending parcels.
  • Bag of books to charity shop
  • 2 Bookcases are on their way to Son and DiL when they can fetch them
 This week I'm grateful for...........
  1.  The Lifeguard at the pool seeing sense last Monday - when there were only two of us in half the pool she wanted us to go round and round - we objected and told her that all the other lifeguards let people swim up and down if there were only 2 people swimming. She had to radio the"boss" who agreed with us two ladies in the pool! It's much easier to swim up and down than to try and swim round corners. Of course if more than 2 people then we do have to follow pool lane-protocol. 
  2. No hills in Suffolk like the men cycling in the Tour De France have to cope with!

Lovely weather forecast for the next few days - a burst of summer to cheer us in September.

Hope everyone has a good weekend

Back Monday


Friday 11 September 2020

Robin's Pincushion

In the corner of  the back garden among the Rose Hips in the hedge I spotted.............

 "The Robin's pincushion is a red, round, hairy growth that can be seen on wild roses. It is caused by the larvae of a tiny gall wasp that feeds on the host plant, but causes little damage."

Or maybe the explanation by Cecily Mary Barker in her Flower Fairies of the Autumn book is the real one.

Many thanks for comments yesterday. I'm sure I'll grow onions and squash again next year. That's the best thing about growing your own..........there is always next year and anyway I like the little bit of independence - even if it is just 1 squash!

 Back Tomorrow

Thursday 10 September 2020

So Christmas is Cancelled and Crop Disappointments

Oh what good news (NOT) yesterday..................actually it was announced after 10pm on Tuesday night...............I heard it on Radio 4 as I was going to bed. I'm talking about  limiting numbers meeting socially to 6 and supposedly the news was revealed at that time to stop some scandal(?) involving someone in government (?) getting onto the mornings front pages. I have no idea of the truth of that but the cynical in me thinks it sounds about right.  No idea if this affects the swimming pool or the car boot sale and  scientists are cheerfully saying Christmas will be cancelled! Back to Puritan England then.

Thank you for all the comments yesterday with ideas for the pears. Unfortunately most seemed to include buying things such as alcohol that I don't keep in stock and as I'm on a budget ....things I don't buy for one-off recipes. I'm quite happy poaching a few at a time in a little water with lemon juice to keep them from going brown and a little sugar to bring out the pear flavour. I'm eating a bowl full every day so will get to the end of them in a week or three.

And the crop disappointments? well it  wasn't all wonderful in the garden this it ever?

I got all the onions up to dry out a few weeks ago - such a poor crop. I didn't get round to weighing them but  surely could have bought the same weight from the supermarket for less than the cost of the onion sets last March.
The tops on my onions were blown over early which stopped them getting any bigger and some were even going rotten on the bottom when I brought them in. More have gone rotten since, so that what's left won't last much more than a couple of months.

A kilo from Asda are 80p with 11 in the pack and many of mine are smaller than shop bought size.

A pack of  heat treated onion sets in the new Marshalls Seed Company catalogue that arrived last week are  £4.49 for 75. I buy heat treated so they don't run to seed and it's true these didn't bolt during the dry weather.

Then Butternut  Squash...................I started off with 5 plants from new seeds - a variety said to be extra large. I planted them into big pots on the patio and watered regularly. After a while it was obvious that 3 of the plants were dying off. They'd had flowers which hadn't opened but then just seemed to give up. Two plants hung on a bit longer looking nice and green with plenty of flowers  but again the flowers didn't open. Finally one flower produced just one squash, and yes it is bigger than normal.
 I'll use it to make a big batch of vegetable curry later in the winter.

So 2021......Onions and  grow or not to grow, that is the question?

Back Tomorrow

Wednesday 9 September 2020

Apples and Pears

Firstly must say hello and welcome to two new followers, hope you enjoy reading.

Apples and Pears might be Cockney rhyming slang for stairs but here they are the real edible things and what a good crop this year, so much better than 2019 when I only put a couple of bags of apple slices in the freezer.

The apples are good old Bramleys, they are being peeled, cored, sliced into a bowl of salt water - which keeps them white without giving a salty taste and then bagged for the freezer.

 The pears are a problem. From experience I know they go slimy when frozen. They are also a bit tasteless. Rock hard off the tree and often going brown in the middle before actually getting soft enough to eat. No good leaving them on the tree to ripen either.............they fall off too easily. So I've been cooking up a few at a time with some lemon juice in the water so they don't go brown. They are edible like that so not going to waste but given a  choice I'd rather eat almost any other fruit!
The other pear tree has pears of Conference shape but I don't think they are Conference  they don't freeze well either and yet at the smallholding my definitely Conference were fine frozen. They are a bit later so still hanging on the tree.

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday 8 September 2020

Back to the Car-Boot Sale

A sunny Sunday morning after the wet one the week before so off to the boot sale early - although not as early as planned as 5 minutes after 6am it was suddenly 7.15..........not sure how that happened?

More sellers and buyers than any other Sunday this year and a mixture of finds for me and the grandchildren.

The Beatrix Potter book ends are just right for the set of her books that I collected a few years ago. A jute shopping bag as they are always handy and the mug is a replacement for one that had to be chucked last month. A game and activity book to pop in the cupboard for grandchildren and that little book "Chimneys, Gables and Gargoyles; A Guide to Britain's rooftops" just because I was curious.

Total spend £5

Back Tomorrow

Monday 7 September 2020

A Monkey Puzzle Tree

It's going to be a long wait for this Monkey-Puzzle tree to be big enough to sit under!

I found these for sale locally and thought it would be fun to see how much it would grow while I'm still around to see it! They were labelled as 2 year old trees, it cost me £3.50.

It brought back memories of visiting a Great Aunt (we were dragged around lots of Great Aunts - it was usually very boring) This Aunt lived in a bungalow along Nacton Road one of the main roads out of Ipswich and in the middle of the front lawn was a huge Monkey Puzzle tree.

Would I have remembered the Monkey Puzzle if I didn't have a very old photo to remind me? I don't know. There is one branch of the tree on the left hand photo and the right hand photo is me, (back right) my sister and two cousins standing outside the bungalow. - Wonder why we were all there together? 1968 it says in my album - so I was 13.

 Monkey Puzzles are also called Chili Pine according to my tree book and introduced to Britain in 1795 after being brought to Europe from South America by the Spaniards in the C17. They were very popular with the Victorians
Apparently the trees rarely live longer than 100 years reaching a height of 80 feet.
The common name of Monkey Puzzle is usually said to be because with their sharp close-set leaves even a monkey finds them a puzzle to climb!

Back Tomorrow