Saturday 30 July 2022

End of the Week and the Month

(Yes, I know today is the 30th and July has 31 days but it's near enough 😛)
Thank goodness for a much cooler week, even put a cardigan on one evening but still so dry apart from a half hour shower on Tuesday evening. Not much mention of rain in the  10 day forecast either.
I'm looking forward to watching on TV all the sports at the Commonwealth Games which started yesterday- and on at the right time to watch - being in Birmingham and so good that  Para sports are going to be mixed in rather than at a completely different time.
 I loved the World Athletic Championships  during the month but as they were in Eugene, Oregon watching live would have involved being up at 1a.m. By the time they had a catch up programme on BBC I'd often already heard about any British medal results on the radio news! 
We were talking about watching sports when Son and DiL were here on Sunday and they said they'd  just realised the next Olympics in 2024 are from Paris so again the timings will be right for seeing them live. They were two of the lucky people who got tickets to watch some events in London in 2012.

And onto my usual round up - no extras earned so just the two pensions and small bits of interest on savings were my income and thankfully July is a month without any large bills due - although the way electric and diesel  prices are rising there are large bills every month!

Saving to spend?

Years ago we saved our pennies in many places to simply survive. Nowadays I save my pennies in some places so I can spend them in others.

 So I make no apology for my frugal month notes even if I don't need to be so frugal anymore.

  • Always sending post by second class rather than first
  • Mixing whole milk half and half with water - 2 pints becomes 4 pints at the price of 2.
  • Home made bread
  • Cucumbers, Aubergines, Tomatoes from the greenhouse
  • Beetroot,Courgettes, French Climbing Beans from the garden
  • Dried Basil leaves for winter 
  • Jam made using an overlarge courgette plus apricots from the cupboard
  • Bundle of 8 good greetings cards from boot sale for 50p each 
  • Always washing the car myself
  • Washing dried outside all month
  • Washing Soda for clothes washing with a minimum of Ecover laundry liquid
  • No clothes, shoes etc bought all month
  • Personal spending limited to swimming and second-hand books - mainly 50p each from boot sales
  • Co-op meal deal = Freezer Filler £5 - (Mixed Veg, Chicken Burgers and Chicken Breast Fillets, Alphabeti potato waffle/chip things and  2 Vienettas.  I'm stocking up for summers smaller visitors.(Some people will probably tut about this being over processed food like they did last time I mentioned the Co-op freezer filler deal but as it's only a once or twice a year thing, they can tut as much as they like!)
  • No car journeys except for boot sales/shopping and swimming/shopping, family visits and WI in the next-but-one village.

I have a date for the fitting of the water meter next month, which I know will reduce both my water and sewage costs. In this bit of Suffolk we pay for water to Essex and Suffolk Water company which is owned by Northumberland Water (?) and pay Anglian Water (owned by a French company?) for our sewage. Hopefully then the  first should tell the second that I now have a meter as the second will be then based on the first rather than on Council Tax band.......if you follow!

  Martin Lewis, the Money Saving Expert, was on the Today programme on Thursday calling for help for poorer families with the potential rise in energy prices. It's predicted that the average energy costs for a home  with gas and electric could be up to £500 a month - how on earth can people manage that?  I don't have direct debit for electric but read the meter and pay only for what I've used every 4 weeks.(which actually worked out at paying two bills this month). The heating oil tank is  just over half full so will need 500 litres in August.  The oil fired boiler only comes on in summer when the hot tap is used so I try to only use it for showering/washing myself and if I do have to turn on the hot tap in the kitchen for washing something that can't go in the dishwasher then I catch a whole jug full of cold before the hot arrives and use it for something - soaking a messy pan or watering the Chives out the front of the house.

  Lots of card making bits and another load of books have gone off to the charity shop this month thanks to the library van being missing for so long. It's made me read several and sort others that have been sitting there for years.

Also gone out of the home are a few bits of baking equipment that I don't use and  a bundle of old post cards and birthday/Christmas cards have been recycled as card to write shopping lists on or into the recycling bin.
  I've been meaning to  check on how long I need to keep self employment details in case the tax man wants to see them. We both filed our last tax returns for the 2015-2016 year and I thought it was 7 years but it might be 5, either way I'll soon be able to get rid of folders full of campsite etc paperwork that have moved house 3 times!

What will the expenses be in August? I've looked back at my accounts for August 2021 (when I had a dentist visit, bought new pairs of shorts and electric propagator and had the boiler serviced) Dentist and boiler service will be in September this year but my half year subscription for the Radio Times is due. I shall keep that as it's my only magazine purchase and I do like finding out more about the TV programmes I enjoy (it works out at less than £2 a week - so much, much cheaper than most magazines).
There is one big expense that's a definite for August and I'll write about that when it happens.

That's about it, I shall be back on Monday.

Friday 29 July 2022

No Library Van Visit - Again

Guess what..............The mobile library was cancelled again! I should have been picking up  9 books but once again they are stuck in the depot.This time it's the driver with an injury. That means that by the time they come in 4 weeks it will have been 16 weeks since the last visit! This never used to happen in my day!! (There was more money back then and a relief driver was usually available to step in).

So the new library book photo will probably have to wait another 4 weeks................... although I have emailed to ask if there is any way of getting those books to one of my nearest libraries for me to pick up instead, as several will be new and on long waiting lists and when they are tied up for an extra 4 weeks it slows things down for everyone on the waiting list.

Of course I still have a great ol' heap (10 to be precise) left from the ones the library Manager delivered to me  2½ weeks ago.............Thank goodness he did!

The few I have read from the heap above are on the separate Book Read 2022 page. I'm taking back the D.E. Stevenson unread - much too silly and very dated and am currently reading Into The Tangled Bank by Lev Parikian,  which is interesting but has a plethora of asterisks  of all sorts..........🞻 * ☨ that means looking at the notes at the bottom of the page before going back to the main text. Sometimes there are three to a page - odd.
As it's a slow read I decided to read the Anne Perry historical crime book at the same time .It's in her Elena Standish series and set in 1930s Berlin.

Thanks to everyone for comments about the tomatoes and fishcakes yesterday - lots of ideas there.

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Thursday 28 July 2022

Short of Things to Write About

I'm not going far at the moment, saving fuel for the things I really want to do but that means not much to write about.

 I put a photo of the first two yellow tomatoes, eaten about  two weeks ago on Monday's post


First two Artisan Tomatoes from Thompson and Morgan seeds
 but this is how they should look, after waiting a while........picked this week ......... a bit bigger and with a red blush on the yellow. Good flavour too and quite prolific.. I'm hoping there are 5 of equal size to pick and enter in the Bacton Flower and Produce show in a couple of weeks. Unusual varieties and labelled with their name sometimes helps when it comes to the judges awarding a prize!

I will probably grow them again

But here's something I won't buy again. Someone mentioned fish cakes when I last did a post about trying various supermarket vegetarian products.So I looked to see what Morrisons had in their freezers. These were a bit bland and could have done with some black pepper or perhaps chili..............anything!

I used to make salmon fishcakes years ago for the family, bit of a faff for one person even if I froze them plus I'd have to buy potatoes that mash, which I don't really like for anything else. I can manage quite easily without.

Thanks to the blog............. while looking for posts about aubergines I discovered they'd been used with a Red Thai Curry Kit to make a batch of vegetable curry..............long forgotten. So a kit has been added to the shopping list and curry will be made as soon as there are a couple more aubergines big enough.

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Wednesday 27 July 2022

The Wild Flower Seeds

 On the bare ground under the Minarette apple trees I scattered a packet of wildflower seeds. Now  there are two Marigolds, some shoots of  Dill or Fennel, a couple of Dandelion and Groundsel plants and these pretty Phacelia.

The Groundsel and Dandelions might well have appeared anyway, Dill/Fennel are not what I'd call wild flowers and the Phacelia are usually a plant sown as green manure...................................

Phacelia tanacetifolia

A valuable, quick growing, green manure

Good in dry soils, but suitable for all soil types

Attractive foliage quickly smothers weeds

If left to flower will attract bees and other beneficial insects


Not a swathe of old fashioned wild flowers then but interesting all the same. 

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Tuesday 26 July 2022

(Almost) Home Produced Meal

 Saturday's main meal

A small Aubergine grilled and  topped with sliced tomatoes, basil leaves and grated cheese. Served up with green beans. With this I had a homemade tomato and herb bread roll to mop up the juices.

As near as I can get to a wholly home produced meal now.

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Monday 25 July 2022


 I know which tomatoes are growing because I  remembered to label them properly for a change .

This variety were a first for me - they looked interesting. The catalogue said

We love the colours and flavours in the unusual Artisan Tomato series - a new class of elongated mini-plum tomato. We’ve brought together Artisan Blush Tiger (pink blush on golden skin) and Artisan Pink Tiger (pink and gold stripes) to offer not only superb flavours but a highly decorative duo for both greenhouse and outdoor cropping. Tapering, 5-6cm long fruits each reach 18-20g and feature strong cracking tolerance for tip-top tomatoes straight off the vine. 


I picked the first two a couple of weeks ago - a yellow blush and discovered the strong cracking tolerance meant they had quite tough skins!

 Undeterred I tried the next two to be ready and thank goodness they were much better, lovely sweet flavour, obviously they need to be really bright yellow before picking.

Sungrape I've grown before, they are small red plum shape - they seem to be slow ripening this year but good to eat when they do . The 3 San Marzano plants are awful - with blossom end rot appearing long before they are ripe.

But the Super Mama are just GI-NORMOUSE . I'm really looking forward to them ripening so I can pick one and weigh it. I'll be skinning them and popping in the freezer ready for my Red Hot(or not) Relish.

And finally, must say hello and welcome to some more people who have clicked the follower button. Hope you enjoy reading my wafflings as much as I enjoy writing them!

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Saturday 23 July 2022

That Was The Week That Was

 The two hot days have been and gone it was up to just over 40℃ in places in the South East which is a couple of degrees over 100℉. Don't think it got that hot here - I don't have a thermometer outside so no way of knowing but it must have been in the high 30's/ 90s.

 I know these temperatures are nothing compared to some countries have in their summers, and people are probably wondering why we are feeling the heat so much but we are not really set up for it here as it's such a rare occurrence (the same as we are never prepared for heavy snow as that doesn't happen often either). Houses are built to cope with what we have - not extremes that we've never had before!

Apart from unusual heat we've also had virtually no rain for months in Suffolk and everywhere is tinder dry. I'm watering the edibles but some of the perennials under the two magnolia trees have faded away, although losing a few plants is nothing compared to the people in various places in the country, including not so far away in Norfolk, who've lost their homes to wild fires. One started in a compost heap and others spread so quickly from  field fires (sometimes caused by hot farm machinery and dust) - frightening to see something we've seen on TV from Australia and the US happening in this country.

Anyway on Monday and most of Tuesday I just stayed in but then Tuesday evening I got stupidly hot and sweaty by going to WI. There was a short email debate in the morning about cancelling but one woman said we are all grown up enough to cope and that meant the President couldn't cancel without looking silly.
I couldn't really Not go because had been volunteered to take the secretary's seat as it was Members Topsy-turvy evening (when the committee take a night off and "volunteers" take the meeting). In all the WI's and meetings I've been to it's never been taken quite so seriously!
The speaker was willing to turn out in the heat and he did a presentation about a beginners guide to Astronomy which I'd seen in 2019 at Stonham Aspal WI! It was just as interesting second time round despite many of us melting, drinking lots of water and fanning ourselves with anything handy.
Heat must affect people in different ways as some members came wearing trousers and not looking hot or sweating at
But the worst thing about going to WI was having to shut up the bungalow at 7pm. Came home to a building still like an oven at 9.45pm.I took two ice packs wrapped in tea-towels and a wet flannel to bed with me!...................I don't have a fan - can't afford more electric.

I shopped early Wednesday when the temps were down to a more reasonable 25℃, did a bit of Nanna duty on Thursday morning with middle does someone 2 years and 5 months old know the names of so many dinosaurs? Then on Friday morning I went to see Youngest Granddaughter at her pre-school leaving thing - she starts proper school in September.That's 3 out of 5 grandchildren who will be at school - growing up fast.

Mentioning not using a fan and generally trying to use less electric will be even more important from October onwards when prices are set to rise yet again. Dc at Frugal in Norfolk put a link to Martin Lewis' youtube speech telling the new prime minister that they need to do something - fat chance there! I'm not worried for me - I've got savings and have lived simply and on less all my life  but  with food prices rising - pushed up by the rising fuel prices and heating costs going crazy it may well be a bad winter. I've tried to tell family about the years when inflation went crazy and then the rolling power cuts and strikes and back then mortgages were tiny compared to now.

The 1970s are a decade remembered for industrial strife, particularly the Three-Day-Week of 1974 and 1979’s Winter of Discontent.

The pattern of dispute and disruption was set at the start of the decade, when in the run up to Christmas 1970 the country was crippled by power cuts as the result of industrial action.

As the lights went out, folk had to carry on with their daily lives as best they could.

I can't imagine how power cuts would work now when practically every part of our lives involves electric- imagine a hospital without power for 3 hours every day. This winter countries will all be vying to buy oil and gas, with Russia cutting off most of Europe and prices will go up yet again.

All we can do is to look after our families, prepare for the worst and hope for the best and have faith in ourselves.

This week I have been grateful for

  • Being able to stay in and do nothing much during the hot days
  • Good fresh cold water from the tap
  • More food from the garden

Have a good weekend wherever you are and I shall return with something (no idea what!) on Monday.


Friday 22 July 2022

And Two More

The grandchildren's toy shelves in the small bedroom are well stocked so I'm not spending more on them at the moment. Definitely no more plants for the garden either and haven't spotted anything for presents for weeks. Really there's not much that I need from car boot sales  and finds have been few and far between, the cards I mentioned earlier in the week were all I found one morning. Never the less I still like my early morning walk round once or twice a week, avoiding all the junk but sorting through any boxes of books and one Saturday these two came home with me - 50p each again (if they'd cost more I'd have left them in the box!)

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Thursday 21 July 2022

All About Aubergines

A colour plate dating from the C19 in a little book about vegetables I picked up for £2.46 from Abebooks. Been waiting for it to appear cheap with free postage after it popped up somewhere as a recommendation. (I'm a sucker for little books with interesting illustrations and bits of random information!)


And 21st Century Aubergines from my greenhouse

Somewhere on line I read about their possible health benefits

  Full of vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre and with the potential to lower cholesterol and help manage weight, aubergines are a great choice for salads, stews and beyond. .
Aubergines are rich in antioxidants, specifically nasunin  found in aubergine skin - which gives it its purple colour. ( I know someone who doesn't eat the skins - better tell them about this!) A potent antioxidant and free radical scavenger, nasunin has been found to protect the lipids (fats) in brain cell membranes. Cell membranes are almost entirely composed of lipids and are responsible for protecting the cell and helping it to function. The lipid layer is crucial for letting nutrients in, wastes out and receiving instructions from messenger molecules that tell the cell what to do.

 Aubergines are very ancient vegetables first recorded in India where it is called Brinjal. In Spanish it is Berengenas (apples of Love), Aubergines  here or Eggplants in the USA (they were originally white and smaller), are members of the the nightshade family Solanaceae.

On the history of Aubergines........ Wiki says..........
 The aubergine is unrecorded in England until the 16th century. An English botany book in 1597 described the madde or raging Apple:

This plant groweth in Egypt almost everywhere... bringing foorth fruite of the bignes of a great Cucumber.... We have had the same in our London gardens, where it hath borne flowers, but the winter approching before the time of ripening, it perished: notwithstanding it came to beare fruite of the bignes of a goose egge one extraordinarie temperate yeere... but never to the full ripenesse.

Because of the plant's relationship with various other nightshades, the fruit was at one time believed to be extremely poisonous.(Like tomatoes and potatoes were when they were first brought here) The flowers and leaves can be poisonous if consumed in large quantities due to the presence of solanine.

 Originally they were really bitter and needed salting and draining before eating but in Europe and the Americas the bitterness has been bred out. In Africa and oriental cooking there are still some bitter varieties that are used.

And as  it's such an old and widely used vegetable there are recipes from many cultures and it can be steamed, stir-fried, pan fried, deep fried, barbecued, roasted, baked, stewed, curried, stuffed or pickled.

 I've been growing them for many years now, although before I started growing them I'd never eaten one.  I start seeds in the electric propagator in early March, then pot up into small pots and keep in at night until the weather is warm enough to leave them in the greenhouse all night.They go into bigger pots and need plenty of water and before producing the first fruits which are ready just before mid July.

I use them in a few recipes but my favourite is to make a big batch of pasta sauce using aubergines, onions, tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, garlic puree and black pepper. (there's a courgette chucked in there too this time as I'm adding them to everything!). Portioned up and in the freezer for quick meals later in the year.

There's never a mention anywhere of the very vicious short spines on the green calyx so that aubergines need cutting from the plant with scissors and carrying into the kitchen very carefully.
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Wednesday 20 July 2022

An Odd but Good Jam

 What to do with an over large courgette - I wouldn't call it a marrow but it was a good size already.

I used to make Marrow and Ginger jam but it never sets well and it's not a favourite anyway so I looked in my preserving books and came across..................

 An odd combination perhaps but as there were apricots left from the Christmas cakes that needed using and lemons in the freezer I decided to give it a go. (Lemons from the freezer can't be grated for the rind so I added the juice and quite a lot of the pulp instead)

It also sounded a bit dull so I decided to buy some ginger and grated that in as well. I didn't make as much as the recipe - the large courgette wasn't big enough (produced 1lb prepared  plus 8oz apricots and 1¾ lb sugar )

Just to make sure of a set I used proper jam sugar which I'd got in ready to do Strawberry Jam later.

Rather a nice colour. Filled these 3 smallish jars and half another.

It might sound like an odd combination but oh my goodness it's delicious and more like a marmalade than jam - nice and tangy. The two small jars were planned for the 2 Christmas hampers  - but they might be kept!

(this was made a week or so ago before the weather got really hot !)

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Tuesday 19 July 2022

Greetings Cards

 At one Sunday car boot sale a few weeks ago I came home with nothing except this bundle of lovely cards to use for birthdays/Christmas, they are mostly hares or owls and were 50p each. 

Finding these gave me a nudge to sort out my card making stuff - I really needed to have a sort out and clear out as when the en-suite is rebuilt in the bedroom my craft shelves and boxes will have to be moved out and after the work is done there won't be as much room for them as previously.
This year I think I've only put together a couple of cards from die-cut toppers and can't really get up any enthusiasm for card making anymore.
So I had a big clear out - material I was keeping "just in case I ever bought another sewing machine" was reduced to a smaller box; a large box of ribbons and bows was whittled down to just a small bag that went in with the material; another big box of random bits for decorating cards went out;  lots of papers were put into a box ready to go to grandchildren for crafting and all that meant  I went from 2 sets of shelves full of stuff down to one and several empty storage boxes to put in the garage/sell or give away along with the spare shelf unit.

I've kept the cross stitch charts, a few small kits, aida, threads and card blanks and the peel-off labels,  because perhaps sometime in the future I'll be glad of doing X stitch again. Also hanging onto a folder of die cut sheets that are easy to use for cards. I've kept a box of shape cutters and serrated scissors which hopefully will be passed onto the grandchildren when they are older. But everything else is in the car ready for a charity shop.

How did you get on during the first of the Red Hot Days? (We were only in the Amber warning area here but plenty warm enough) It would have been nicer here without the workman next door - carrying on with laying their patio with his radio going all day. I had all jobs done by 10am and settled down with the World Athletics Championships on TV, lots of glasses of water, a Sudoku book, another of my library books and the start of turning an old watercolour book into a scrapbook to keep all the best bits from the old scrapbooks that I found in the boot sale last year and to add some of my own old postcards and scraps.

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Monday 18 July 2022

Fiction from Fact

 This seems a very apt book to read with our lack of rain and high temperatures! The way sandy areas near the coast here are farmed and parts of the fens that are wide and open have caused dust storms in this country but nothing on the scale of the 30's dust bowl in the US.

 It was a good read although at times I wasn't sure about finishing it as it's a harrowing and depressing story in many ways.


Sponsored Ad – The Four Winds: The Number One Bestselling Richard & Judy Book Club Pick

Texas, 1934. Elsa Martinelli had finally found the life she’d yearned for. A family, a home and a livelihood on a farm on the Great Plains. But when drought threatens all she and her community hold dear, Elsa’s world is shattered to the winds.

Fearful of the future, when Elsa wakes to find her husband has fled, she is forced to make the most agonizing decision of her life. Fight for the land she loves or take her beloved children, Loreda and Ant, west to California in search of a better life. Will it be the land of milk and honey? Or will their experience challenge every ounce of strength they possess?

From the overriding love of a mother for her child, the value of female friendship and the ability to love again – against all odds – Elsa’s incredible journey is a story of survival, hope and what we do for the ones we love.


It made me want to find out more about the Dust Bowl and migration because it's a very long time since I read The Grapes of Wrath and I didn't understood it back then anyway and certainly didn't know the reasons for it.
I expect everyone in the US already knows all this so apologies, but it's not a period we learn about in history lessons. 
A map and more details found on line


A map of the United States showing the area affected by the Dust Bowl (from Moore, 2020).

A summing up in 17 facts.

1. Main cause: Farmers over planted and overgrazed their land for decades. They also failed to 
plant drought resistant crops, so when the drops died out, there was no way to hold the topsoil in place.
2. Great Depression: After years of bad practices, the Great Depression caused farmers
 to not be able to plant as many crops as usual. As such, many areas throughout the Plains were 
left barren even of protective grasses.
3. Drought catalyst: Drought conditions in several states — Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico,
 Texas, and Nebraska — exposed poor land management when the soil blew away. 
The effects of the drought spread all the way to the Dakotas and affected agriculture all the way to 
4. Homesteading laws: Plains farming boomed in the early 20th century after homesteading laws
 provided settlers with 640 acres of free land, courtesy of the feds. European demand for wheat fed 
this cycle.
5. Government seduction: Farming practices were out of control, no doubt. But the Department 
ofAgriculture promoted the (bizarre?) idea that increased farming caused more rain to fall on the Plains.
6. The inevitable fall: Crop prices fell at the same time that the drought began. In desperation, farmers
 started planting even more crops, which only compounded the rate at which topsoil was destroyed.
7. Dust storms: Giant clouds of dirt (fueled by 30 mph winds) literally blew across the landscape, 
engulfing homes and even entire towns. Each year, the problem grew worse. In 1932, 14 dust storms
 were recorded. In 1932, the number jumped to 38.
8. Size and scope: The average 1930s dust storm carried more dirt than it would take to build two
 Panama Canals.
9. Death of livestock: Cattle were blinded and suffocated by the dust cloud. They were discovered with
 stomachs full of sand and dust.
10. Schools closed: Most students were sent home from school, lest they develop “dust pneumonia.” 
(7000 people lost their lives to this affliction.) In other cases, students stayed overnight at school 
when dust storms made conditions too dangerous to travel.
11. Black & white reality: The six states affected the most by the Dust Bowl were rendered into colors
 of black and white, ironically, just like the widely available photo medium of the 1930s.
12. Black Sunday: April 14, 1935 was the single worst day of the Dust Bowl. Winds reached 60 miles
 per hour and were most severe in the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles. These “black blizzards” caused
 day to turn into night.
13. Loss of livelihood: The Farmers not only watched their property blow away, but their jobs also
 disappeared as well. There was little left to do but pack up for the promised land.
14. Migration to California: Unemployment in the Great Depression was already a 1 in 4 statistic. Once
 farmers and their families showed up on the scene, unemployment in California (and other urban areas)
 grew even worse.
15. Hoovervilles: Some 200,000 migrant farmers relocated to California. Most of them did not find work
. Those who did were chronically underpaid. The new population was forced to set up makeshift “towns”
 known as “Hoovervilles.”
16. Okies: Any and all migrant farmers were given the pejorative nickname “Okies” even though only
 about 20% of migrants actually hailed from Oklahoma.
17. New Deal: Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal programs included new laws to help get back into 
business and heal the land. These laws included: (a) Agricultural Adjustment Act; (b) Civilian 
Conservation Corps; (c) Farm Security Administration; (d) Soil Conservation Services; and
 (e) Rural Electrification Act.


 I looked at reviews on Amazon to see what other people thought and found the strangest thing - Many reviews from UK readers recommended it - yet here are some comments from readers in the States

"I was happy to see a new book by one of my favorite authors, but will not be buying more. Be warned that this book is a political statement"


"This is an amazing author, I’ve loved her work.
Am disappointed in her crafted story to promote Communism, wish I hadn’t spent $14.99 to support it."


"I’m three-fourths though this book and I can’t even finish. It’s horribly written, pro-communist dribble that I can’t even bring myself to care about how it ends. Don’t waste your time or money."


What a difference the Atlantic Ocean makes to the reading of a book! 

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Saturday 16 July 2022

It's All About the Temperature

"The Met Office has issued an extreme heat weather warning for tomorrow - Sunday and Monday and Tuesday."

 Although temperatures were supposed to be high all week, gradually creeping up to a possible 38℃ here next Tuesday it hasn't been too bad.............. so far.

Monday - Hot, clear blue skies and sunshine with a bit of breeze  27℃

  Extreme Heat Warnings is what we've been getting from the weather forecasters. They showed which years had been the hottest since the 1970s. One of which was 1976 - I remember that one very well as I was working on the mobile library - a tin box! No such thing as air-con back then but windows and side door open while we were traveling kept us cool enough - it was the 30 minute stops in villages when we practically cooked.
 During many of the hottest summers in the last 30 years we were living at the smallholding just 4 miles, as the crow flies, from the Suffolk coast which tended to keep us a degree or two cooler than further inland.
Tuesday - Cloudy and humid all day with occasional sunshine 25℃. A good shower in the evening revived the plants but added nothing to the water butts
This weeks rising temperatures have coincided with my next door neighbours having some work done to replace their very old, broken and uneven patio slabs and extend  to make room for a pool for their two children - one of those free-standing ones that's  bigger than paddling but smaller than swimming! So doors and windows open wide and mini-digger, whacker plate, slab cutter, cement mixer and their landscaper's radio playing and lots of dust!  Abby said he is supposed to get it all done before the end of next week when school finishes.
I made a point of not letting the noise bother me  - just one of those things that will pass eventually.
Evening is the best time for watering the garden, and my big water butt has needed re-filling from the mains yet again. I've had to haul two more tomato plants out of the greenhouse. They were getting badly diseased, blossom end rot and yellowing leaves. All in all it's not looking like a good year for tomatoes - on one 5 foot tall plant there is only 1 truss of flowers - no idea why and still none ripe enough to eat yet. Thank goodness there are some HUGE green toms on 'Super Mama' so I'm hopeful for having enough to make the red hot relish later. Weighing about 8oz each?
  I've still got plenty of cucumbers......... been giving them away to anyone who'll have them but they are also not looking healthy (too hot and dry for them despite misting them a couple of times a day) and will probably give up  soon. The peppers and aubergines love the heat and are still growing well. I ate the first aubergine on Tuesday.
Wednesday - Hot and humid with cloud coming and going, quite breezy in the morning, enough to keep blowing the patio door shut. 24 ℃
Next door's landscaper man has discovered a mystery regarding the drains from the back of their house which seem to turn a corner without a manhole to run into a manhole on the driveway between our houses. It's helped work out which way the drains run in front of my bungalow which is useful to know for when the builders come to do the work to move the en-suite. The manhole cover in between our parking areas is not a heavy duty one and has been bent out of shape so really needs replacing. Another job for their man to do - we'll share the cost. 

Thursday- Some clear skies, some cloud, cooler and breezy - even 'fresh' at times 24℃
I've been visiting Germany and Sicily this week after a strange couple of evenings in Senegal .........???????.......TV crime drama of course! The Senegal drama is the first African Crime series to appear via Walter Presents on the 4 catch up channel. It was weird and included Zombies and Witch Doctors. In Germany I've been with Falke, who started in Hamburg but then seemed to move around. Also had two evenings in Sicily watching the very last two ever of the Inspector Montalbano mysteries. Plus I spent a couple of afternoons in France with Le Tour. I was pondering, as I watched them biking up a mountain, if anyone has ever got off and walked!
Friday Beautiful sunny blue sky 25  in the morning and then cloud cover and cooler in the afternoon 23

I cut back the dark purple Buddleia hard last autumn in the hope that butterflies visiting this years flowers would be more at photography level - but No, the new growth was huge and the butterflies are still way up too high. You'll have to believe me when I say there were 3 Peacock, one Red Admiral and best of all 1 Comma all at once on there in the sunshine.

So that was the week in temperatures and now for the HEAT, how close to 40℃ will it get? We will see. If it does it will be the highest temperature EVER recorded in this country. 

Have a very good weekend, take care, drink water, stay cool 😎 and BTW don't do what I did a few years ago and put a hot water bottle full of water in the freezer to use to keep cool overnight. When I tipped it out half the inside rubber stuff went too!

Back Monday

Friday 15 July 2022

Downsizing at the Right Time

 When to downsize - that was the question after Colin died. I would have loved to stay at Clay Cottage but it just had too many problems waiting to happen and the never ending driving everywhere got more and more annoying once I was on my own. 
Plus there's the fact that one person just doesn't need an acre of land to care for and a big council tax bill every April.
So when I found that there were so few houses for sale due to the year of covid and those that were for sale were fetching a good price and selling quickly I put the house on the market and it's sale was agreed so soon that I had to find something else without delay.
 I'd previously joked with the family that I would buy one of the new builds in Bacton, because they were planned for a field conveniently in between the shop and the doctors with a pub just over the road and the village hall 200 yards away. But no one knew when they would be started. I looked at new builds in the village where son and family live but the decent sized houses were expensive and the whole estate seemed very squashed together plus the houses I liked had huge trees at the back.
So I gave up looking for new and decided I didn't really need a house with 4 bedrooms, and after looking at half a dozen houses, I found this bungalow in one of the villages I was happy  to move to.

When I moved here someone in blogland wanted a floor-plan of the bungalow and I've finally got around to drawing a rough sketch. It's not exactly to scale (the kitchen and living room are not as wide as they look on the plan and the two back bedrooms are a bit narrower) but just an idea of  sizes and where the rooms are.
Explaining why I'm moving the en-suite to the front of the bungalow as a toilet that you can't use when the electric goes off is just silly

Selling then was a good move because since then the 80 houses on the estate between shop and doctors in Bacton have been started and they are not building any bungalows  and the 2 bedroom homes are selling for the same price as this bungalow was a year ago!
 There's another small estate in Bacton also being built just around the corner from the first one and there a 3 bedroom bungalow is selling for £100,000 more than I paid for this place and it isn't so big.
Look how small the Living/Dining room is.

I'm glad I didn't wait for them to start building in Bacton and picked a good time to sell so that it worked out well in the end.

Back Tomorrow

Thursday 14 July 2022

Vegetarian Taste Test (Home Made This Time)

 Having tried all the weird and wonderful pastry lattice things from various supermarkets, I made my own.

Using a pack of ready rolled puff pastry, filled with a mix of potato (chopped small and cooked for a few minutes) defrosted peppers from the freezer and grated cheddar cheese plus plenty of black pepper.

I ate one and put the others in the freezer. It certainly had more flavour than many of the supermarket things I've tried but I thought there was a bit too much pastry, so need a way to squash in more filling, yet still keep the edges sealed.

The Aldi Puff Pastry is 85p so I think these must cost less than 50p each  - a guesstimate as I didn't note how much cheese I used.

I need to stick a reminder  on the lap-top to remind me to look in spam. Forgot for a few days and Everyone was in there ! Pat, Sue and Joy - for goodness sake blogger they are NOT spam!

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Wednesday 13 July 2022

A Home Delivery

 Had a surprise phone call last Thursday from Mobile Library HQ, apologizing for the long time between visits due to the Jubilee bank holiday and then the driver being ill. The call said that they were planning to hand deliver books that people had waiting for them to collect. "What a treat" I said "Yes Please!" He made a note of where I was in the village and said he would need a large box to bring them!
And sure enough he brought them yesterday........  15 in total.

6 Non Fiction by Adrian Bell, Ronald Blythe, Lev Parikan, Adam Nicolson,John Nevis and Charlie Corbett
 6  Fiction by Rachel Hore, D.E.Stevenson, Claire Fuller, Kristin Hannah,  Claire Keegan and Sarah Steele. Only the first two are authors I've read before so the others are a mystery as to where I heard about them - here in Blogland probably!
And just 3 crime and one of those is by Anthony Horowitz who I've tried and failed at before.
So plenty to read again before the van comes round in a couple of weeks time (At least I HOPE the van comes round again......... hope the driver is well again)

Now I need to find out what's happened to  3 other books that were originally waiting for me to collect but have gone off into the ether somewhere due to "allocation expired". Which is what happens when books are not collected in time from the reserve shelves....which is what I couldn't do because the van didn't come! Somehow I don't think it's vital that they arrive this month anyway.

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday 12 July 2022

Growing For Winter On the Hottest Days

 The brassica  plants I'd ordered arrived - just as the weather got hot, hot ,HOT!

I bought Kale and Brussels Sprouts - because they both produce the most from the smallest space.

They came from Browns Seed Company this year and the quality was excellent. I waited until evening before planting out after they had been in the shade and in water .

They came in 10s and now half are planted out and the others have gone to Brother in Law.

Surrounded with the wire netting frames brought with me from Clay Cottage and covered with enviromesh to keep the  Cabbage White butterflies and any other critters out .
Hope I can keep them alive through this heatwave. 
Back Tomorrow

Monday 11 July 2022

Another Book Found and Aubergine Answer

I found a comment from Elizabeth left on the gardening post over a week ago asking what Aubergines seeds I grew.This year they were 'Genie' from the Marshalls seed company. Started with heat in the electric propagator  around the first week of March. I have no idea if I've ever grown this variety before but I know a couple of years ago I had some called Moneymaker.
Thank you also to Sarah who left a lovely long comment about vegetable growing on that same post that I'd not spotted.


From a boot-sale recently I came home with this little book for 50p. It's got some good illustrations.

I had to smile as I walked away from  the man who was selling it because when I asked "how much?" he held out his hand for the book, looked at the front and then at the back and then inside the title page and then he flicked through it and after all that said "you can have it for 50p"! (Was he very indecisive or perhaps he thought he'd left a £10 note inside! and did he dither like that over everything he was selling).

This means that since the beginning of April I've added 8 countryside type books to my shelves. The six from last month

  and one from the sale shelf in a church a while ago.

and the new one. 

So far I've read 2 out of the 8 during my weeks of enforced reading-from-my-shelves.

Well, Wimbledon is all over for another year. With the various finals spread out over more days, there seemed more opportunity to watch - including some of the amazing the wheelchair finals. Now I'll be watching the rest of the Tour of France and then the Commonwealth Games to look forward to starting at the end of the month.

Back Tomorrow


Saturday 9 July 2022

Saturday 9th

 The hotter weather we were forecast all week finally arrived on Friday but most of the week we had cloud but no rain and what the weather forecasts call Moderate Breeze - which was actually quite chilly at times........for July, but it got the washing dry. 

What is it they say about a week being a long time in politics? I really shouldn't mention politics on here - but oh what fun they've been having in Downing Street and the Houses of Parliament this week! Each day has brought a new development. Thank goodness they are all off soon on their summer hols and "only" a leadership contest to hear about. I guess there are some people, somewhere who find it all enthralling?

Meanwhile ............ I quickly read my way through 4 of the books by Alexander McCall Smith, set in Edinburgh about Philosopher and Editor Isobel Dalhousie. They've been sitting on my shelves for years and I'd always thought they were crime fiction but they're not really crime at all, rather stories about moral and ethical dilemmas that Isobel gets herself involved in because of being so interested in people and getting to the reason for their problems.

 Perhaps some people were put off by the title...... " From Sewing To Swimming" as there were only 19 members present at the other village WI on Monday. But it was an extremely entertaining talk. The speaker was a lady who teaches sewing and dress making and when she was asked by someone about making a swimming costume she found herself at age 50 drawn into the world of long distance open water swimming. She obviously loves it as she now, just five years later, regularly does 10K swims, English Channel Relay swims and is planning a solo swim from the Channel Islands to France later this year. She showed us all the gear needed for long distance swims and all the rules and regulations - there are many - to do a legal and registered swim.

On Tuesday afternoon while watching tennis, I spent ages trawling through the photos stored on the lap top to find two I wanted. I needed to move them to the memory stick and get them printed out ready for entering in the Photography classes at Bacton Fayre and Show in August.
This one is for "A Pathway" (unless I get a better idea)
 and this for "An Old House" (ditto)
 Probably not good enough to take a place in the top 3 but it's the entering that counts (she says, lying through her teeth!)

While searching for Old House photos  I came across this photo of  Debenham, taken in 2021, which might be the one  where Hilary's  (Trips,Books and Hedgehogs blog) grandfather is standing outside a shop. She is going to look for the right place next time she's in Suffolk.

What else have I done this week?
Swimming followed by shopping and  Wednesday a.m. was W.I. Knit and Stitch group - the cross stitch picture for a coaster is only being done there so coming along awfully slowly - and not a lot else ....mostly reading and watching tennis ......usually at the same time and talking of tennis I've gone right off Rafa as by not pulling out when he was so obviously injured in the quarter finals he did us out of a semi-final yesterday and put the annoying Kyrgios straight through to Sunday's final against Djokovic (of course - who else!)

The diary is blank for the weekend so car-boot sales, more reading and watching tennis is all I shall do although I'd better tackle the ironing basket  before I run out of shorts and tee-shirts.
Have a good weekend.

Back Monday


Friday 8 July 2022

Did You Stand on a Ladder?

 Thought it was about time I used my bread-maker for something other than ordinary bread. I choose a Spiced Fruit Loaf. I followed the recipe and it made a big deliciously soft and spicy loaf. Which I cut in half and put one half in the freezer, that's what I do with my usual bread because usually I only have a slice a day.

I know what Colin would have said about the amount of sultanas.

"Did you stand on a ladder to add the fruit, because I think you missed?!"


Back Tomorrow

Thursday 7 July 2022

All About London Bridge

Thank you to everyone for comments yesterday and apologies for not replying, too much tennis watching/reading is my poor excuse. 
I could make chutney with the excess courgettes, and Col would have enjoyed it, but I would be giving it all away because I only like my three favourites that I make (Red Tomato and Pepper Relish, Mango and Pepper plus Sweet Onion chutney). I have made pesto with walnuts when we had a walnut tree back at the smallholding but they wouldn't go well in the Spinach and Ricotta Lasagne I make using Pine Nuts. Also thank you to anon who said my photos of the veg growing in the garden meant I certainly wasn't 'mouldering away in my bungalow' - that made me smile!


 The Speaker at the Over 60's meeting last week told us all about the history of London Bridge. He had been an engineer and draughtsman before retirement and had become fascinated by the construction of the Bridge and had done the most incredible drawings of how the bridge looked when it was covered with houses and even a church.

The first bridge there was built by the Romans as it was the only place with some solid ground on each side, as most of the Thames flows through mud.

The Medieval bridge was only 20 feet wide with 12 feet in the middle for the carts to pass, leaving just 4 feet each side for the shops and businesses to be built. The ground floor was only 4 feet but the next storey was wider - hanging out over the side and the next storey even wider again. He'd made a small model of a little bit of bridge with a small house to show how the houses balanced on the edge of the bridge.
 The bridge was built and funded even now by Bridge House Estates Charity possible the longest running charity in the world, they made their money from the rents for the businesses and shops on the bridge.

He told us no drawings or paintings of the medieval bridge are to be found in this country so almost everything that is known comes from historical written records and drawings done by Dutch Architects who came here to see it. There is even a London Bridge Museum in The Netherlands. 

He suggested we go online and have a look at this below which  is a model of the bridge that can be seen in St Magnus the Martyr Church on the North Bank of the bridge. Or even better- go and look at it for real.


The model of Old London Bridge inside the church of St Magnus The Martyr.
Photo From the London Walking Tours Website

The 'London Bridge is Falling Down' nursery rhyme comes from the time when the bridge was given away to the wife of a king (Henry 3rd??) who took all the income from the shops and businesses on the bridge and spent nothing on repairs.

Looking north across London Bridge in the 1920s and in the modern day

Photo of newest London Bridge in the 1920s blended into one  now, from internet

 It was a fascinating talk and made me want to borrow a book he suggested by Patricia Pierce.

Old London Bridge: The Story of the Longest Inhabited Bridge in Europe

There is much more on WIKI

Back Tomorrow


Wednesday 6 July 2022

Courgette Recipes

Whoop Whoop Hip Hip and Hooray!! Cam Norrie is through to the Semi-finals at Wimbledon - unfortunately he has to play Djokovic..............


 When I wrote about the tip for getting  Basil cuttings to root in water, I mentioned making pesto to use in a recipe called Courgette Crumble and Ang asked for more details.

So I'll start with the Crumble Recipe (you can see I've had this a while as it was cut from the Somerfield Magazine, and Somerfield disappeared years ago). When the children were at home I would serve this up with chips to persuade them to eat it! 

I don't use Parmesan either in the home made Pesto or in the crumble topping but just some grated cheddar instead and I use a bit of garlic from a tube rather than fresh as I don't eat enough of it to make it worthwhile buying or growing.It doesn't need the salt. Pine nuts are very expensive but I use them when I make the spinach and ricotta lasagne so buy a small bag for that, wrap up the remainder tight and peg closed and store in a tub in the fridge. I think years ago I just went without.
42p  per portion back then.....How much now?

Hadn't actually made Courgette Crumble for a while but with the basil growing so I could make a tablespoon of pesto and with an overload of courgettes I made a small crumble at the weekend and just like years ago I served it up with chips but mine were a handful of  Mixed Vegetable Fries which I discovered in Morrisons freezers a while back.

 And then other idea is Courgette Fritters

For one person I used 1 courgette, grated and squeezed as dry as possible, handful of frozen peas - defrosted. Mixed with a a tablespoon of flour, half teaspoon baking powder (not sure that's necessary) a small egg, small pinch salt and good amount of black pepper and half a teaspoon whichever seasoning you fancy - the recipe says cumin, but I used curry powder.

Drop spoons full into hot oil in frying pan and press down, turn over when browned. For a different version of most fritter type recipes some grated cheese can be added but I didn't this time  but I served up mine with a couple of rashers of bacon and some tomato ketchup.

That's a few less courgettes to give  away or compost!

I've added the recipes to the Recipe Page

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday 5 July 2022

Food Production in Early July

 Things are coming along OK - although we need rain. I filled up the big water butt from the mains a couple of weeks ago and now it's empty again.

Had the first picking of French Climbing Beans yesterday. I discovered one of the plants absolutely covered with Black Fly - never had that on this sort of beans before. I filled a spray bottle with water and washing up liquid and tried that - hope it works as I don't want to lose the plants so soon and also don't want to use anything nasty.


Sweetcorn plants - too close ( a common theme) , behind them is the space where I shall put the Kale and Brussels Sprout plants when they arrive. I've got the wire netting frames BiL made for me and enviromesh to put round and over them.


Beetroot - too close with a couple of rows of leeks squashed in behind them and 4 courgette plants - Two too many!


Onions in front - which I won't bother with again ( don't know why I grew them this year as I'd decided not to grow them again a few years ago - cheap to buy and too dry is the reason). There are 3 squash plants - with room to trail - just about! and empty canes for the runner beans on the right some have been sown here and some in a small tray and the French Climbing on the left.

In the greenhouse are too many tomato plants, 3 cucumber plants at the end, one aubergine standing on the water butt and one more on the ground. I moved one tomato plant to outside a few weeks ago but could really have moved two more out before they got too big to move.
Four pepper plants, the basil and two more aubergines standing up on the staging


Pointy peppers beginning to get pointy


Some of the aubergines flowers have set but others just fell off. There will be enough to a big batch of make my favourite aubergine/tomato pasta sauce

Nice to get back to growing food again after my enforced year off last year. 

Back Tomorrow