Wednesday 30 June 2021

Is it Because I'm an Aries?...................

........................or just impatient!

 It used to drive Col potty...................whenever I had an idea for something (and I was always having a Good Idea!) it needed to be done straight away.

Here's what I mean......................

On Friday I remember Penstemons  and how they would be a good idea for the garden as they are longer lasting than many of the plants already here..........................

On Saturday I went to Stowmarket and on one of the market stalls were Penstemons -  good size plants- for £2.50 each,  2 different colours...........plain dark pink or these.............

Penstemon Phoenix Appleblossom

I looked up the variety.........

A new group of Penstemon cultivars called Phoenix Series. This series, which includes other color variations such as red and magenta, was bred specifically to withstand heat and be disease resistant. The throat is bright white which offers a stark contrast to the deeply colored outer edges. The Phoenix Series grows to about 18" tall and is excellent as a border plant or in containers. 

 No sooner thought than bought! 

Summer of Sport update.................Good result for England yesterday in the football which I actually watched right through as it seemed to be a better game than any of the 3 previous and Mark Cavendish took a stage in Le Tour, which I caught just before the football. Dan Evans won his match at Wimbledon but Cam Norrie went one set down just before it got too dark for them to play.

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Tuesday 29 June 2021

Down the Rabbit Hole

 My blog post last week sent me down the rabbit hole of book searching - if you love books and reading  as much as I do then it's easy to spend half an hour - or an hour - following a trail of searching on line!

Here's Jenny's comment that got me remembering and googling Hope Bourne

The Hope Bourne book is a delight. A friend gave me a copy and I can remember putting a chair in my first walk-in plastic greenhouse at our old home, and sitting down and devouring a big chunk of it. She was incredibly frugal, and I believe grew all her own vegetables, and lived off wild greens when she could. She was truly self sufficient. She moved to Exmoor in 1950, from Hartland in N. Devon. I have her other books too, Living on Exmoor and A Moorland Year. All an absolute delight to read. I have just gone through all my bookcases to find them and have brought them down to read bits of again. One I haven't got (yet!) is A Little History of Exmoor.

Would you believe I once had all of them - back in the day - before moving house twice. Now I don't have any.
She was a one-off wasn't she..... shooting all her own wild meat which she had for breakfast as well as dinner!



The Exmoor area and that part of the coast is one of my favourite places, we had many holidays on the edge of the moor at Woolacombe, Minehead and Watchet and went over the moor so many times. I probably bought Wild Harvest when we were in holiday down there, way before internet book searching. It was originally published in 1979 and my copy was one of the early ones from about that time. It's since been reprinted with a different cover.
It was many years later before I came across A Moorland Year and then ordered a copy of her earlier book  Living on Exmoor. The books all went during the three lots of downsizing  and that would have been the end of it without my post and Jenny's comment.
I googled..................She was very well known in the area and even has a Wiki entry

Hope Bourne (Hartland, Devon 1920 – 22 August 2010) was a self-sufficient painter and writer who lived alone in primitive cottages and a caravan on Exmoor  surviving by growing her own vegetables, fishing, and hunting for rabbits. Known as the Lady of Exmoor, she wrote five books on Exmoor and one novel set in North Devon, was the subject of three TV documentaries and contributed a weekly column to The West Somerset Free Press. 

So I knew about 3 books and Jenny mentioned a Little History of Exmoor  which it turns out was published in 1968. And much to my surprise Suffolk Libraries have a copy in the County Reserve so I'll be ordering that to have a look at. The fifth of her books is Hope Bourne's Exmoor Village. This could be more writings about Exmoor or possibly a book of her painting and drawings - she was an wonderful artist.

There is a book all about her art on Amazon - I bet its a lovely book but as its £25 upwards I shan't be buying that one


A documentary about her life " Hope Bourne; Alone on Exmoor" was shown by HTV in 1978.  Then I searched youtube and found this

Then this popped up.....

Opening sequence of 'How Many People See The Stars As I Do? The Exmoor Story of Hope Bourne'. Premiered at the Simonsbath Festival to a sell out audience in May 2014, Chris Chapman's 50 minute documentary explores the extraordinary life and talent of Exmoor's legendary figure, the artist and writer, Hope Bourne. Hope led a life of self-sufficiency in a tiny caravan in remote isolation in the ruins of a farm on Exmoor for some 24 years and spent much of her time painting and sketching the moor, writing a column for the local paper, and combining this creativity in a remarkable series of books.

There is a DVD but its currently unavailable on Amazon or The Exmoor National Park online although a VHS is still around.

This is one of the few times that I regret selling or giving away books I once owned.

Thank you for comments yesterday about the plant stand. Next door neighbour at Clay Cottage had an Auricula stand, with long rows of pots going down in size.  I'm thinking a mix of all sorts at different seasons with some trailing plants too.......
Wimbledon got going with the 19 year old Brit Jack Draper taking the first set off moany Djokovic which was a lovely start for him. Djokovic took the next 3 sets of course. Surprised to see Tsitsipas losing in 3 straight sets. He is 22 - so another with years ahead but needs to get used to more grass play if he wants to be an all round winner. Brit wildcard Katie Boulter won her game and then on came Andy M................. the first player to play with a metal replacement hip? Torturous to watch.

The men came to finish the concrete base for my greenhouse - another job done. Not sure when the greenhouse will actually be erected but progress is being made.
Back Tomorrow


Monday 28 June 2021

A Bigger Than Usual Spend at the Car-boot Sale

 A grey and chilly morning at the car-boot sale yesterday but still lots of sellers and buyers although anyone who arrived after 8.30am might have got wet as it started to drizzle as I left.

My bigger than usual spend was £20 on this....................

The bloke wanted £25 which was all I had in my purse. I walked round a bit more, saw it was still there and offered him £20.

A better version of my old shabby-chic ladder that I  had at the smallholding and then at Clay Cottage. It wasn't used in 2020 because it had got really loose and wobbly so  went off to BiL's to be cut up for firewood when I cleared the cottage garage.

I'm going to give this a going over with a wire brush and then a coat of colour. The two cacti were also from the boot-sale - £1 each -and need re-potting into something bigger. Then I can spend the rest of the summer looking for small clay pots and decide what plants to display.... should be a fun garden project.
It may be pretty busy this week if I'm to fit in everything planned and watch as much Wimbledon as possible, so please forgive me if I don't leave many comments elsewhere.

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Saturday 26 June 2021

Last Saturday in June

First of all a BIG thank you to all the comments this week about my charity shop finds on Monday, cheesemaking on Tuesday, books on Wednesday (one comment gave me an idea for another post and no, I definitely don't want a kindle!) the new raised beds on Thursday and my  post that wasn't a post on Friday, it wasn't about bloggers and I'm glad it raised a smile as it was meant to. 
Apologies for not replying to everyone.
A few notes from the week................
On Monday I baked a batch of Fruit Slices (on the separate recipe page, scroll down) but realised once I got started that I hadn't got any ground almonds or almond essence so they are a bit plain! I'm still gradually restocking the cupboards after running things down before moving.
 An email on Monday announced the availability of early-bird tickets for the Suffolk Show 2022 which will be on the 31st May and 1st June next year. On the website was a countdown clock with 343 days to go and hours, minutes and seconds counting down..............that's really looking ahead with enthusiasm!! 
Better get my ticket and save £3. Had to smile on the ticket application page as Adults are able to get a 2 day ticket making a saving over the cost of 2 x 1 day tickets,  but that choice isn't available to seniors over 65, perhaps they think us poor old people wouldn't manage to walk round the acres of showground on both my case they're probably right!

The greenhouse glass and frame arrived before 8.30 on Tuesday morning and it was only by luck that I knew it was coming. I'd rung on Monday to check the actual size needed for the concrete base and asked what the time lag was now on delivery and installation. He looked it up and said "it's coming tomorrow, you should have had an email or text message". No I said or I wouldn't be asking! Luckily I managed to shift a few things in the garage to make a space for the crate of glass also luckily the driver was willing to bring the bits right up to the bungalow as "they are only obliged to deliver to the kerbside!" Pleased it has arrived already as initially it wasn't expected until September although installation is still a date unknown in the future, which will give time for the concrete base to harden up.

On Wednesday......
 Someone asked what will I be growing in my 3 vegetable beds - and the answer is - much the same as I did at Clay Cottage (but without the potatoes) but not this year. The soil needs building up and  lots of compost added to make it good enough for seeds  as what was under the grass was solid heavy clay. There's time for runner beans I hope and  perhaps some winter veg plants. Next year the greenhouse will be up and then I'll be all set.

Thursday morning was shopping, Morrisons was so busy, the A140 was so busy, everywhere is it really because the part of the population who usually head off to foreign places are having to stay at home?!

Yesterday I had to be up in good time for the men to arrive to do the concrete base for my greenhouse. They arrived and took off the turf, got the wooden bits in round the edges (that have a proper name that I can't think of) and then it started to pour with rain which isn't much good for laying concrete. So they'll be back Monday afternoon. The ballast, sand and cement are all here ready. (They could have finished because the rest of the day was fine- Oh well)

Flowers on the table this week was just one rose at a time. This is a lovely peach colour from a small bush, sadly no fragrance at all.

and then a gorgeous yellow/orange. Again very small roses from a small leaved bush and no fragrance. 

I've sniffed my way round all 6 climbing roses and the same number of smaller bushes and only one has any perfume to speak of.

It's dawned on me that the colourful plants in the garden that were here when I arrived all have relatively short flowering periods (apart from the climbing roses which should keep going for several weeks). Lupins, foxgloves,peonies, - beautiful for a while but then gone....maybe a few second-flush flowers later if it's not too dry.  So more absent friends I've thought of are Penstemons and perennial Salvias both tend to flower for more than a few days.

This week I'm grateful for

  • Lots of help from BiL
  • The beginnings of a greenhouse base
  • Getting the garage tidier and finding the 3 plant supports that I thought I'd left behind!
  • Watching some of the Wimbledon qualifying matches - the stars of the future?

Have a lovely weekend - I will be back on Monday

Friday 25 June 2021

People Who Moan

 Why is it that some people can find something to moan about in any situation? 

I had a post written for today but it just sounded like someone moaning about people who I deleted it!

Back Tomorrow

Thursday 24 June 2021

Vegetable Beds




Couple of hours with a turf remover machine thing, a lot of forking over, fixing the wood round and banging in metal corner bits to screw the whole lot together and TA DA! thanks to my brilliant BiL Andrew I have 3 vegetable beds. What a star........... and yes I did treat him to fish and chips!

All I have to do now is sort out some top soil and a few bags of compost for one bed to start with. We put all the turf that came off grass-side-down in a builders bag and covered it over because.... in theory.... the grass should die and the whole rot will rot down into just soil which can then be added back onto a bed in a years time.

And because the turf cutter machine was delivered an hour later than the time I'd got written down Andrew even had time to put together a set of metal shelving that I'd bought for the garage!  

What a successful day and this young visitor was ever so happy to find some fresh soil to sort through

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Wednesday 23 June 2021

Books ......Borrowing, Reading, Buying and Remembering

This post will be a bit boring if you don't like books!
 I have 25 books reserved at the library ........the maximum allowed. Out of those there are 6  already waiting for me and  more  'in transit'  will be there for when the van's next round on the 1st July.
The problem is the 1st July is a week away and I got to the end of the June books last week - a bit too quickly because 4 are going back unread including the two British Library Crime Classics on the right which I just couldn't get into to enjoy.

Also unread is the Magpie Murders - I believe this is the second go at his books without actually finishing. I'd borrowed The Garden Farmer by Francine Raymond before so just a quick flip through reminded me there was nothing really relevant to the garden here. Even the book by Alys Clare on the top of the pile didn't appeal. It's the second in a new series. I know I read the first but just couldn't be bothered with this one - the plot was too guessable.

The books I've finished are.............

Alys Clare - The Lammas Wild. Crime Fiction.(Published 2021) I raced through this as it has been a very good series of mystery, magic and crime and this is the last one. 
Josie George - A Still Life. Non Fiction (Published 2021) This is a memoir about her life with an unexplained painful illness that sometimes reduces her to having to rest for days on end. She writes about her small world between her home, her son's school, her friend's home and the community centre. It is beautifully written, noticing all the small things and finding joy in life as it is for her. 
Stuart Pawson - The Judas Sheep. Crime Fiction (Published 1996) I read a couple by this author many years ago .They now seem very dated
Jacqueline Winspear - The Consequences of Fear. Crime Fiction(Published 2021). London 1941, bombs are still falling and 12 year old Freddie Hacket is a message runner for a government office. On one errand he sees two men  fighting, quickly hides and realises he is watching a murder and then is terrified to discover the man he has just seen is the person to whom he has to deliver the message. The police do not believe him so he turns to Maisie Dobbs - the private investigator.
Danie Couchman - Afloat. Non Fiction. (Published 2019). Fed up with flat sharing and the rush of central London, on one of her walks Danni finds the Regents Canal and after a while she buys a Narrow boat.
 I've just counted how many books are on my Amazon wish list...............79!, although some of them are just there to remind me to order from the library sometime as they are non fiction books that I don't want all at once. There are several fiction listed that are not yet published.......... the British Library Crime Classics appear on Amazon months before their publication date and of course the Furrowed Middlebrow reprints from Dean Street Press. Then there are some that I doubt will ever be cheap enough for me - or anyone else to buy for me - like the half dozen Angela Thirkell books that I haven't got in my collection.
I gave myself permission to buy books more often but that's not as easy as it sounds after years of necessary frugality. Buying fiction that will only be read once really goes against the grain and buying non-fiction that the library has in stock seems silly. So in reality I don't buy many at all!
Apart from finding 3 Persephone and the Witches spell book (mentioned the other day) these are what I've bought secondhand from Amazon or Abebooks in the last 3 months, so not too extravagant. I'm reading Wanderland at the moment.
 The book on the top by Irene Soper "The Romany Way" is all due to a new blog called Farms on my bookshelf. 
Miki is in the Netherlands and is reading books by people who've got away from it all and finding out more about them, where possible. I've read some of the books she has written about but hadn't heard of Irene Soper who wrote about living in the New Forest. On Amazon it's nearly £10 but  Romany Way was only £2.25 with free postage and a subject that I'm interested in. (Do you remember those wonderful days before Covid when books were to be had for 1p?)
Other books Miki has mentioned by Elizabeth West, John Seymour, Jeanine McMullen and Eileen Atkins I've read already. So I had a look through by Book-of-Books-read to see if I could remember anything similar and came up with the following
Hope Bourne - Wild harvest
Neil Ansell - Deep Country
Denise Hall - Stones and Stars
Sally Borst - Self Deficiency 
Daniel Butler -Urban Dreams, Rural Realities 
Anne Cholawe - Island on the Edge
Patrick Rivers - Living on a Little Land
Katherine Stewart - Croft in the Hills
Hilary Burden - A Story of Seven Summers
Another I thought of but couldn't find the details for was about  couple who lived in a remote place in Scotland and ended up writing and photographing a recipe book - Turkish or Isreali? I'll have to have another look.

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Tuesday 22 June 2021

A Wet Sunday

 What else is there to do on a wet chilly Sunday in June except to have a go at making Halloumi cheese from the cheese making kit?

The Ricotta is relatively easy but the Halloumi is a bit more complicated, so this is probably a one off try, just to say I've done it!
The recipe calls for 4 litres of full cream milk  making 600g of cheese. But as I'm not that keen on squeaky cheese I just bought a litre of unhomogenized full cream milk from the farm shop.
There are 19 steps in the instructions to making the cheese, starting with dissolving the rennet tablet in cooled boiled water and then heating the milk gently and adding the rennet.
Then it has to be left until it's beginning to set. Next the curd is cut into chunks to release the whey
Everything is then gently heated again for 15 minutes and then allowed to stand for another 10 minutes
The curds are then put to drain in a muslin cloth over a bowl to catch the whey. A plate on top and then I added a couple of tins to make a weight.
After an hour the next part is the unusual bit as the solid curd is then cut into slices and put back in the whey and reheated and kept at a low boil for 20 minutes. My slices were more like chunks because draining  the curds in muslin and a sieve had made the whole thing bowl shaped - no good for nice neat slices.
Next the pieces are lifted out, dipped into very cold water and then put to drain on a rack. Salt is sprinkled over both sides and it's left to cool
It will keep in the fridge for 5 days. I'm going to follow one of the suggestions in the booklet and dip the chunks in panko crumbs and shallow fry. Then probably have the rest in a curry.
I tried a little straight away and it has more flavour than shop-bought Halloumi but is just as squeaky.
Apart from Ricotta and Halloumi the other cheeses which I have the instructions for are Mozzarella, Mascarpone and Feta. Mozzarella is cheap to buy and not worth making as I only use it for topping pizzas or lasagne. Mascarpone requires a lot of double cream as well as milk to make and it's not a cheese I'd used very often. Feta might be worth a go although the recipe uses goats milk, unhomogenised cow's milk and yoghurt and takes two days to make............. so maybe not!
After cheese making it was good to settle down to watch the Tennis Final from Queens Club. Cam Norrie did well but just so many aces from Matteo Berrettini - how does he do that!
Yesterday was the 21st - the summer solstice - and I didn't even notice because here it was so wet, cold and gloomy and now it's all downhill to winter😕............
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Monday 21 June 2021

Two Towns and a Garden Centre

 It was so chilly here on Saturday completely different to last weekend and not sunbathing weather for sure............. at least is was fine for my morning out.

I had to take some ID to Jewsons  tool hire place for hiring a turf cutter thing this week and then went into town for a tour of the remaining charity shops. Stowmarket has lost four in the last year or so. I'd heard that the Hospice Charity Shop were going to run the coffee shop that was in the building next to their shop but it's not open yet, they are appealing for volunteers to run it. The new Aldi is also due to open next month this will be the second time they've tried to run a store in town.On the other hand Barclays Bank are about to close and Asda are having lots of building work done, not to expand as I assumed but actually to make room for the Pharmacy to move from is current position in a separate shop in the precinct into the main store, meaning the main shop will actually stock fewer lines.  It's certainly all change everywhere mostly due to Covid.

My next stop was the Garden Centre for a nice big pot and more compost ready for the Tulip bulbs which are due to arrive in August. Haven't got room for a cutting garden here but I so enjoyed the 'Florists Favourite' tulips I had at Clay Cottage that I've got some on order and will cram them in a big pot and bring a few indoors when they flower.

Thought I might as well go another mile into the next small town and visit the two charity shops there and at the Sue Ryder shop I found a few bits............
A magical book - heavens knows why - just curious to look at the spells! The little book "Five poems about teachers" is one of the Candlestick Press 'instead of a card' books. I'll put it away for when one of the grandchildren is old enough 

Next is a card from a painting of Crowfield Church. It's the only timber framed church in Suffolk and where, in normal years, I usually go for their Flower Festival and second hand book sale in May ......hopefully next year? I'll use it as a letter card and my final small purchase was a set of Jacks and a ball - hadn't seen these anywhere for years. Thought it would be fun to show the grandchildren when they are bigger.

These are my first charity shop finds for a while........... apart from the Persephone books in May. I still love looking around but don't often spend. 

And it was so cold on Saturday evening I had to put the heating on - not fun for June.

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Saturday 19 June 2021

Saturday Catch Up

This week.................................

My first strawberry from my six plants ripened this week - just the one so far- so I thought I'd better go and see if the big strawberry patch at BiL's was producing because I knew he wouldn't think to let me know when they were ready. Good thing I did as just the one lot of rain on Wednesday night had already started to spoil them. Brought home a colander full but some were already too squishy for jam. 1½ pounds popped into the freezer for later. I'm just going to make a few jars for the Christmas Hampers.

Friday was exciting as the information about my State Pension arrived.  I'm only entitled to the basic State Pension as most of my life was spent at home with children but it's still nice to know I have some money coming in each month as well as the spouses pension from the County Council. I'm frequently thankful that Colin loved his job as a bridge inspector and stayed long enough for the pension.

Flowers on the table this week are some of my own roses, thanks to the previous owners there are plenty to pick. They don't last long indoors and even less time outdoors when it rains. The Peonies and Geums also got flattened with Wednesday night's and Friday's rain although it was much needed everywhere else.

Weather forecast for Sunday isn't looking hopeful for a car-boot sale so not many plans for the weekend. On Saturday I just have to go and show my ID to book the hire of a turf removal machine thingy so I can make my raised vegetable beds. Decided that would be much easier than any other method when I tried to dig some slots for the wooden bed sides to sit in - Much Too Hard. According to the Gardeners World website if I stack the turf upside down and cover it, it will rot down and provide some good soil to add to the flower and veg beds in a year or so.

Hope there are some dry spells for the tennis to get finished at  Queens, then its a countdown to Wimbledon starting on the 28th.

This week I've been grateful for
  • Some rain for the garden
  • Strawberries from BiL's garden
  • Tennis on TV
  • Time to do some cross stitch
  • A quiet swimming session
Have a good weekend wherever you are. I shall be back Monday.

Friday 18 June 2021

More Tennis News and Eye Castle

Thank you for all the comments yesterday about my new home. I once said I'd never live in a village again but things change. Apart from getting older it's also the being alone thing- only one person - me- to do the driving. The same with getting a dishwasher that I always said I wouldn't have -  when all the washing up sits there and only me to do it!

 Bad news for us Rafa fans yesterday when we heard that he has pulled out of Wimbledon and mixed  news from Queens Club with Andy M out but Dan Evans through to the quarter finals. Andy's opponent Berrettini served about 100 aces - maybe a slight exaggeration -  Andy isn't yet moving well enough to get them back.


Early in  2020 I had an idea for visiting some local touristy things. I even began writing a list, starting with the nearest.....

Eye Castle Mound 
The Crowe Street Cottages at The Museum of East Anglian Life in Stowmarket
Framlingham Castle
Woodbridge Tide Mill
Pakenham Windmill
Orford Castle (and the church)
Southwold Pier (and the church)
RSPB Minsmere
Bury St Edmunds Moyes' Hall Museum
More churches from the 100 Treasures in churches book (Still 50 left to visit).
Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich

 Of course that was Before Covid  and suddenly there was nowhere to go and even now booking is needed for many places.

But not for Eye Castle - although there's not much to see but it was somewhere I'd not visited despite going to Eye for shopping dozens of times and it's the nearest......... only 5 miles from home.

So a few weeks ago I climbed the steps.......

And this is what's at the top
The few inner walls inside the Motte are actually remains of a folly built by General Edward Kerrison to house his batman who had served him and saved his life during the Battle of Waterloo

As I said not much there and even the descriptive board agrees........ Is this it?

 There were some small white flowers beside the steps - I'm not really sure what they were, someone will know - I thought they were part of the allium family but no onion smell


And then I went down the steps again and home.

A very quick visit to all that remains of the nearest castle to home and one thing ticked off my list. 

HERE is the wiki website for more info.


Back Tomorrow

Thursday 17 June 2021

The New Header Photo

 The new header is my bungalow, the only bungalow built when this new housing estate of about 60 homes was started in the 1980s. I'm on the front edge of the estate fronting one of the main roads through the village and although that means more passing traffic (especially early mornings but thankfully not all night!) at least I don't have houses crowding in on all sides. Each side of me is a house built at the same time and over the back fence is the back garden of another house which fronts onto the road into the estate. 
A few years ago I would have avoided a position like this completely but after a total of 27 years living where everything required driving it is a treat to be able to walk to things.
 I no longer have to keep a box for glass recycling and then load it up to take to the bottle bank - it's just a stroll up the road to the bottle bank behind the pub. The library van, the chip shop, the doctors, the hairdressers are just a short walk away. As is the URC chapel where WI will be held once they can have proper meetings again. The rubbish and recycling bins are just a few steps from the front door and only need wheeling on the path to the roadside - unlike Clay Cottage where I had to either wheelbarrow or drive bags down to the end of the lane.


The bungalow was built with a double garage and the previous owners used one garage to extend the front main bedroom, this work was done about 6 years ago. So I have a nice big bedroom/craftroom and en-suite shower room at the front of the house while the really good size living/dining room is at the back away from the road. The kitchen and bathroom are also at the front with the other two bedrooms at the back looking onto the garden. I've got used to not having a door to outside from the kitchen so may not bother to have one put in. With no fires to fetch wood etc for I won't need to pop in and out quite as often in winter so just having the patio doors into the back garden from the living room will probably suffice. I'm loving having the patio doors open all day - something that's never happened before because both at the smallholding and at Clay Cottage the doors opened into a conservatory which just made the rooms too hot.

It was another  lovely hot sunny day yesterday - now we are due thunderstorms of course (someone said an English summer is 3 fine days and a thunderstorm) and a bit more unsettled for a while. More good tennis  on TV yesterday, with Cam Norrie and Jack Draper both getting through to the quarter finals.....and due to play each other, so we are assured of a Brit in the semis. I went swimming but found I had no energy so only did 25 minutes, that was enough.

Back Tomorrow 

Wednesday 16 June 2021

Summer Stitching

First a tennis update......Lovely to see more Brits winning at Queens Club on the grass courts yesterday. Although of course there aren't many top players there so we stand more chance! Good to see Andy Murray back after all the trials and tribulations of hip replacements and  injuries. He got through easily in two sets.
I still haven't watched any of the Euro football matches properly all the way through, always reading or writing at the same time, then they all shout and I find I've missed the goal! Mostly I've turned over after a while to watch something on iplayer.

 Must be a year or even more since I did any cross stitching but I had an idea to make a little sampler to fill a frame I already had to add to my art wall.

I'm making it up as I go along using ideas from two samplers I've done in the past and some ideas from other charts.

For an awful 10 minutes I thought I'd lost this cross stitch chart book in the move. Surely I'd not taken it with other craft books to the charity shop? found it at the bottom of the box of cross stitch fabric and kits....phew.... along with it's companion book of numbers.

Stitching from the bottom up is not really the way you're supposed to tackle a bit of cross stitching... ...although it could be from the top down until I stitch a house and a text.........  but it's how this one will be done so as to keep to the right size.

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Tuesday 15 June 2021

For The Grandchildren Again

Thank you for comments yesterday, I survived the dentist. Didn't enjoy the squishy stuff for taking impressions! Yuck. So one appointment done 3 more to go and no more 75 minute ones - thankfully.

Interesting experience on the way there. You know when a road is closed for "accident investigation work", well I actually saw one of the things they do yesterday when I was held up for 5 minutes.  A police car pulled out of a side road in Ipswich in front of me and promptly stopped with blue lights flashing and blocked the road. The policeman hopped out of his car to tell me and a car behind that they were just holding traffic for a few minutes while they checked the road surface. A police Accident Investigation van - with blue lights flashing - then drove up and down a short stretch of road braking hard each time by the roundabout. After a while we were allowed to carry on to the roundabout where there were more police holding up traffic and doing something on the first exit. There must have been an accident at the roundabout sometime earlier I deduced. (luckily I wasn't late for the dentist).


Sunday was car-boot day again and it was very warm morning for a good walk round. I found some Barbie clothes for Eldest Granddaughter (£3) and yet another Barbie - ( who knew there was a doughnut maker Barbie?) in a box (£4) to put away for Christmas and a massive heap of books of the sort that go alongside school projects (all for £1 - bargain)

I also bought another Alchemilla Mollis (Lady's Mantle) for £1 which has gone out in the front garden border to replace one of the horrible 5 Hebes that are here (now  forever known, thanks to a comment, as the heebbie-geebies!) And then this 3 foot Christmas Tree in a pot for £5. This will also go out the front as soon as we get some rain..............hope no one nicks it at Christmas time!

I just missed out on a brand new kettle for £5  - which was annoying as my red spotty kettle...... which was  bought new when we were living in Ipswich in 2016...... has started to get temperamental about switching itself off. Treated myself to a slice of banoffee cake from 'the Cake Lady' to take home and despite going around everywhere twice I was still home for breakfast. (which was toast - NOT the cake!)

The French Open tennis final on Sunday afternoon was a much better match than I thought it would be. I would have liked to have seen Tsitsipas (first Greek player in a final) win against the moaning Djokovic but in reality it was unlikely. But at 22 years old he has lots of years ahead. Then yesterday the first match on grass at Queens Club London for 2 years featured a Brit, Jack Draper - a Wild Card entrant - who did well to get his first win on the main ATP Tour beating Jannik Sinner - an Italian who had played in the French Open last week.

Back Tomorrow

Monday 14 June 2021

Lunch In a Tipi But Out of a Box

I came across the details of this years Suffolk Craft Society Summer Show


and as I happened to be over by the coast visiting Youngest Daughter and Eldest Granddaughter on Friday I decided to go and look on the opening day because otherwise I'd probably forget. (This was one of the few things I used to visit Aldeburgh for in the summer, as only tourists and second home owners go in summer - the locals stay well away!) This year the early weeks of the craft show are at Snape Maltings.  before it moves to Woodbridge  in July.

 Photos on my phone no longer come out well (or at all) but this is a general view. There seemed to be fewer exhibits than some years.

Two artists appealed, couldn't afford their originals (prices in the £100s) so just a couple of cards purchased.On the left is a reproduction of a lino print by Helen Maxwell and the right a copy of a water colour by Jennie Nutbeem who is usually a textile artist.

I might find a little frame for the Orwell Bridge print because of it's links to Colin..........when the bridge was first built it was under the care of Suffolk County Council Bridge Section and Col had to go down inside the bridge a couple of times which involved lifting a heavy metal cover and climbing down a steep ladder. The whole SCC Bridge Section were very glad when the road and  bridge opened properly and  the job of looking after it transferred to the National Highways Agency, now called Highways England, who look after the Motorways and main A roads like the A14.

 Snape Maltings have now got more places to eat - including a tipi....... so I treated myself to a vegetarian sausage roll (very tasty) with salad which came in a box (like a KFC only posher!) and a locally produced apple juice.

After lunch I took some photos of the iconic view of the maltings and reed-beds but couldn't get them to transfer off the phone and that's not the only reason I may need a new phone soon. Must remember to take my proper camera everywhere this year even if it is a bit big for lugging about.

It was a real treat to be able to get back to the normality of a visit to an exhibition and  lunch out. Hopefully by this time next year even  smaller, local events will be up and running and maybe without a mask..............Fingers crossed.

 Today is my 75 minute appointment at the dentist and it's also going to be jolly hot so I'm looking forward to it even less.

See you on the other side!


Saturday 12 June 2021

The Second Saturday in June

If you don't like any sports then you'd best avoid TV for the next few weeks. French Open tennis is just finishing (and if you love tennis you'll have enjoyed last nights semi-final which was amazing.)
 The Euro football tournament is on for several weeks, lots more tennis from Queens Club and Wimbedon, Tour de France cycling and then one-year-late Olympics. If you don't like any sports you'd best hibernate! 
I won't be hibernating - love it all (although I shan't watch Every football match and probably won't be filling in the wall chart that so helpfully came on the cover of the Radio Times 😄).

 Flowers on the table this week have been a bunch of bought Stocks (or are they antirrhinums)   and some young growth from the Viburnum in the garden .

I nearly didn't go swimming this week as it was such a lovely sunny day, too nice to go anywhere in a hot car but didn't like to waste my £2.25 booking (tight!) so drove over and it turned out that other people had decided not to swim too so I was the only person in half the pool - what a treat.

Oh BTW I've finished reading the memoir by Josie George - A Still Life. I enjoyed it even though it's about her struggle with the pain of an unexplained chronic illness that started when she was young. She writes so well about all the small things that perhaps those of us who move quickly and further than she can don't always notice. 

 This weekend there's an Open Gardens event in the village where I was in a holiday let  that I hope to visit, also  the Farmers Market in another village that I visited just once a couple of years ago has started up again so I may go and look at that too plus the Sunday car-boot sale of course.

Hope you have a good weekend.

Back Monday

Friday 11 June 2021

Bee-ing Helpful

Thank you to everyone for comments yesterday and to Vonnie who I think solved the mystery of the suddenly dead tree.

 I sent a donation to receive this from Friends of the Earth. Not sure yet where I'll sow the seeds - I have until September to decide -  but the Bee recognition chart and the lists of Bee friendly flowers for each season will be useful.

I've also sent for some Nerine and Tulip bulbs for Autumn planting - more colour for the garden.

Back Tomorrow

Thursday 10 June 2021

Garden Views and Climbing Plants

More things are flowering in my new back garden, the previous owners had certainly made it colourful.

From the left, standing by the living room back wall across the lawn to the shed........................

and from the right, standing by the shed across to the left fence.


Now here's a strange happening. Can you see the small tree with purple leaves and pink clusters of flowers in the top left of the photo below? 3 weeks ago it was looking fine - another Elder or an Acer - not sure

But look at it this week - suddenly dying and almost dead! I can see no reason.

Thank goodness everything else is OK including several climbers on the fences and trellises, mostly roses but also two honeysuckle, a jasmine and hidden away there are a couple of clematis, one climbing through the magnolia and another struggling through a rose and this honeysuckle.


There hasn't been one of Cecily Mary Barkers illustrations on my blog for a while so here's the Honeysuckle Fairy and his song


Thank you to everyone for comments yesterday about the film Nomadland. I'm no good at writing reviews - books or films, so end up just copying paragraphs from other sources. And I wasn't at all worried about going to the cinema, knew  it would be fine, there were about 20 people there spread out around 50 or so seats for Screen 3 - I'm just pleased that it's open again after the refurbishment. They've got The Dig on next week - might go and see it, but Not planning to see a couple of futuristic horror things - the trailers were LOUD and scary!.

Back Tomorrow

Wednesday 9 June 2021


 A comment from 27th May

I think it would be helpful if people went and saw the film "Nomadland". People bought houses when they were affordable for people on modest incomes, jobs were secure in a way they are no longer and though people say 'they paid their taxes' there was tax relief on mortgages. Described as a 'middle class perk' by Gordon Brown when he abolished it. The house buying generation of the 1970's and 1980's would be wise to remember this. 

I read this comment and thought "slightly barbed? .......OK then, I'll go and see it"

 So I took myself off to the newly re-furbished Regal in Stowmarket. Owned by the council it's been closed for over a year for a huge building project. And now  the place we all used to hang-out every Saturday night in the late 60's has turned into a fantastic 3 screen theatre/cinema.

What did I think of the film? It was good even though nothing much happened. However it  isn't totally about people who can't afford a home - true, many of the Nomad community living in the vans/caravans have lost their homes for whatever reason. But some have chosen this way of life as a way of escaping their past.
Fern, the main character played by Francis McDormand (who is also one of the producers) had lived and worked in Empire, Nevada a desert town where everyone worked at the US Gypsum factory. When the factory closes and Ferns husband dies she leaves what has now become a ghost town to live and travel in her van.
Many of the characters in the film really are part of the Nomad community and play slightly fictional versions of themselves which is interesting. Including Bob Wells  a Youtuber and author.

Fern is able to pick up temporary work (who knew that Amazon have taken advantage of Nomads by setting up a campsite for them by their Texas fulfillment centre and employ many of them in the pre-Christmas rush). 
 She twice has the chance to stay in houses for a while - once with her sister and again with a fellow van-dweller who has gone back to his family, but each time she's unable to settle and set's out on the road again. 
 goodbyes are not final in the nomad community as its members always promise to see each other again "down the road."

The film is based on the 2017 Non-Fiction book by Jessica Bruder..... described thus................
From the beet fields of North Dakota to the campgrounds of California to Amazon's CamperForce program in Texas, employers have discovered a new, low-cost labour pool, made up largely of transient older adults. These invisible casualties of the Great Recession have taken to the road by the tens of thousands in RVs and modified vans, forming a growing community of nomads. 'Nomadland' tells a revelatory tale of the dark underbelly of the American economy - one which foreshadows the precarious future that may await many more of us. At the same time, it celebrates the exceptional resilience and creativity of people who have given up ordinary rooted-ness to survive, but have not given up hope.

My Conclusion:- It won loads of awards but I'm not sure why although I did enjoy it and the 2 hours went by quickly. It's very American...............obviously!
I've got the book on order from the library - it's been republished because of the interest in the film. 

Back Tomorrow


Tuesday 8 June 2021

To the Car-Boot Sale.......As Usual

 What a beautiful sunny Sunday for a good walk early in the morning. 

 I found a few useful things amongst all the junk

The Weird Bugs book (50p)is ready for Jacob's next visit - it's a pop up moving parts book that I reckon he will like. There's a pack of 4 Princess/Fairy sticker books(50p) for the two Granddaughters. My War Diary(50p) is actually a childrens book - which I should have realised but I'll have a look. RHS Plants and Flowers (£1) so I can sort out the things in the garden that I don't recognise. There's a gift set of re-usable bag and mug which will be a Christmas present (£2.50) A pack of 10 charity Christmas cards (20p) and the small microwave steamer (£2) is something I've thought about buying for a while - it will save me using cling film when I do frozen peas etc in the microwave. 

Back Tomorrow

Monday 7 June 2021

Absent Friends................... the garden.

As mentioned previously there are all sorts of plants in the borders around the back garden lawn but some of my favourite things are missing.

So after a spree at a car-boot sale and then Dobbies Garden Centre on Saturday I came home with a selection.

From the boot-sale I bought 2 Lady's Mantle (Alchemilla Mollis) and  1 purple leaf  Ice Plant (Sedum). From the garden centre..........a Holly, a white Agapanthus, an Astrantia  and  an already large Gooseberry bush.

 The Astrantia is so pretty, the variety is Pink Sparkling Stars

Also on my list of "must have" plants for my new garden is a Purple Hazel and a tall thin conifer of some sort......... there's not a single conifer anywhere here - which to my mind is a serious absence.

There were some pots of Alstroemeria (Peruvian Lilies) at the garden centre which I looked at but decided against as they were £16.99 a pot and the flowers were not very tall and orange - and I'm trying to stick to pink/purple/white flowers as that's what's mainly here already. Despite looking at garden centres and catalogues I've never been able to find Alstromeria plants as good as those I got many years ago at the smallholding to sell as cut flowers.

I looked for Hollyhocks but it was probably a good thing there were none for sale as the two that are here already looking very sad with rust

The heavy rain we had on Friday didn't do the Lupins much good. They had nearly all collapsed and that's when I discovered something that must have got left behind at Clay Cottage - my wire plant prop-up/support half circle frame things. Surely I didn't leave them? But must have as they aren't in the shed here. Wonder what the chances are of finding some at a car-boot sale? Although the ones I had wouldn't have been tall enough to support the Lupins anyway.

The header is the Camellia in the corner of the garden, which has now burst into flower- it's buds are pink but then the flowers change to white as they open. I cut back the Spirea which was starting to hide the Camellia and there's also a large Hebe there too which I plan to take out.

(Pictured below on 24th May post)


Back Tomorrow

Saturday 5 June 2021

First Saturday in June

 So much for my new home resolution of buying myself a bunch of flowers more regularly......I didn't remember for the first 3 weeks but finally.............

Flowers on the table this week. Tulips from the Co-op and some bits of fresh Viburnum growth from the garden.

 In the day between finishing reading two of my own books and the library van coming round I started to have a proper look at this.............a book I bought in February

It's full of ideas for making all-sorts including something that looked interesting (being a new dishwasher owner).....dishwasher detergent tabs.

The ingredients are washing soda, baking soda, citric acid, kosher salt (had to look this up as the book is from the US - I think it's what we call cooking salt) few drops of an essential oil and water, mixed and dried in a silicon mold/mould.  Plus then adding white vinegar as a rinse aid. I'm interested to know if anyone has ever made these tablets or if any of the ingredients listed would be damaging to a dishwasher - I presume not as the author of the book uses these and would white vinegar really work as a rinse aid?
 I bought Ecover dishwasher tablets but although ecologically sound each one is wrapped separately in a little bit of non-recyclable wrapping that has to go in the bin.

Brother-in-Law Andrew brought round the wood that he had weather proofed and cut to the right lengths for my vegetable beds. 

 They are going to look very good when eventually the beds are made, although I'm not exactly sure how I shall make these without hiring a turf remover and someone to use it as I don't think the plan of putting down cardboard and covering with compost/soil will work because of the heavy clay soil here.
Another garden job was to get  rid of the nasty looking, slightly poisonous shrub (the one with the flowers like those on a potato). I cut back as much as possible to add to the garden waste bin and then while he was here got BiL to dig out the main part and take it away to burn. It's left more room for the two rhubarb plants to get going and perhaps a space for a Gooseberry bush................ much more useful

Despite it being half term holiday there were some lane swimming sessions available so I booked for lunchtime Friday and it was surprisingly quiet -  a good half hour swimming, that was enough as it was two weeks since my last swim.


This week I have been grateful for

  • Seeing the oldest grandchildren playing together
  • Enjoying the  sunshine all week
  • and also the tennis on TV
  • Nice quiet swim
  • Lovely collection of library books
Hope you all have a good weekend, I shall be back Monday.