Wednesday 31 May 2023

End of May Round Up

 We certainly didn't get the warm sunny weather that other parts of the country had through the second half  of May. The position of the jet stream across the Atlantic meant the weather here in East Anglia came from the north and north east. This has meant that the heating has come on in the mornings and one morning when I got up too early the living room was freezing, as cold as a winter morning. That's taken the oil in the tank down to six bars = 840 litres. I'm watching heating oil prices and tank level ready to stock up during the summer when it tends to be cheaper. 

We had all 100% of our May rain in the first days of the month and then nothing, and already I've had to fill a water butt from the mains for watering in the greenhouse- annoying.

As you can imagine going on holiday meant it wasn't a frugal month - I decided my biggest treat would be eating out and had one very good meal and two average meals - which made me glad to be home to cook my own again! -just can't win with this holiday thing!
Joining the National Trust for a year was a chunk of money but it does mean I will visit all the Suffolk NT places later in the year without any extra expense. Other larger expenses were breakdown insurance and diesel for the car, council tax, phones and broadband plus food of course.
No electric bill again this month as I'm still in credit from the chunk we got from the government but next month it will be back to paying again

My personal spending was for swimming a couple of times, the Keep Moving Group, some second hand books, new underwear, 2 x flowers and 3 tee-shirts - one new and 2 from charity shops. Plus the Buddha head.
And I  bought a ticket to see Eldest Granddaughter in this. 

She's been going to the School of Dance since she was a tiny tot. This lady runs classes in lots of places near the Suffolk coast and the older children do modern dance and tap as well as ballet which is what the little'uns start with...... "Good toes - Naughty toes" was the first thing she told me about! As a 6 year old she's still in the ballet classes. There were more than 100 little and bigger girls in the show and just a few boys. Great fun was had by all I think.

Other smaller expenses like bin bags, dishwasher salt, toothpaste, bits for grandchildren, all add up even though they don't seem much at the time. I bought some wild bird feed too but might have to stop for a while as a suet block attracted a large family of starlings who ate the whole thing in one afternoon - could prove a bit expensive to keep feeding them like that! 

Any Frugal things in the days I wasn't on holiday?

  • Used the tumble dryer just once during the month
  • Bread maker for home made bread and spiced fruit  loaf
  • Still mixing milk half and half with water
  • Only use 2nd Class stamps
  • Mainly reading free library books
  • 2 tee-shirts from charity shops
  • Several Christmas and birthday cards from car-boot sales for 20p or 50p each
  • Mending leggings - yet again
  • Not buying make-up and fancy products
  • No alcohol bought
  • Reading light for an hour is the only lighting needed now.
  • And these Six 'posh' Christmas crackers were a 50p - car boot bargain

I finished the April Frugal Month notes by saying I MUST not buy any more plants so why did I buy a tray of marigolds to help with pollination in the greenhouse, a Rowan tree because it was 'only' £5, a Begenia plant to fill a space, and a small Heuchera because it had variegated leaves and I've not got one like that!

Expenses coming up in June? Not too many I hope. Last year June was the month I spent less than any other month. I know the fee for having a garden recycling bin is due - no doubt it will have gone up but apart from that only the usual monthly outgoings. I'd like to try and spend as little as possible - need to start saving for next years holiday!

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday 30 May 2023

Baron Bigod

 This is the Suffolk cheese that started all the cheese tasting thing. It happened because of a comment that said it was someone's favourite which they preferred and I said I knew of it as it's made in Suffolk but had  never tasted it as it's quite expensive.  I was doing the Value Range Experiment at the time it didn't exactly fit in!

It's an Artisan Brie type cheese from Fen Farm Dairy on the Norfolk/Suffolk border which I bought from their new mini-shop on the Eye Airfield industrial estate.

I googled to find out more...........

The cheese is named after 12th century Earl of Norfolk, Baron Bigod (pronounced By-god). He was originally from Normandy, where bloomy-rinded cheeses such as Brie and Camembert are well known, but came over to Britain during the Norman invasion.

Baron Bigod is the finest traditional Brie-de-Meaux style cheese produced in the UK and one of only a handful of its type in the world to be made by the farmer on the farm. Beneath the nutty, mushroomy rind, Baron Bigod has a smooth, silky golden breakdown which will often ooze out over a delicate, fresh and citrussy centre. Baron Bigod is made by hand in small batches, very early in the morning so that we can use the fresh milk straight from the cow at the perfect temperature for cheesemaking. The mould cultures are added to the warm morning’s milk and it is gently gravity fed into small vats just a few metres from the milking parlour, where the rennet is added. The curds are carefully hand-ladled into large moulds, using traditional pelle-a-brie ladles and the young cheeses are hand salted and then aged for up to 8 weeks in a cave-like environment. It is a unique expression of the incredible milk of our free-ranging Montbeliarde cows and the diversity of our wildlife-rich grazing marshland.

Despite living among farms for most of my life I'd not heard of Montbeliarde cows - so had to google them too..... They are of Swiss/French origin from the 19th century.............

The animals are red pied with white heads and short horns, and of dairy type. Mature cows weigh 600 to 700 kg (1,300 to 1,500 lb) and stand about 145 cm (57 in) tall at the withers, and mature bulls weigh 900 to 1,200 kg (2,000 to 2,600 lb).The milk is particularly well suited to cheesemaking because of a high frequency of kappa casein BB variants, giving higher yields of cheese. Being of less extreme dairy type than modern Holsteins, the cows have lower milk yields, but better longevity and fertility and lower cell counts in the milk, indicating lower mastitis incidence.


Photo courtesy of O.S. Montbéliarde,
The Montbéliarde is light red and white in colour quite similar to the red and white Holstein. They have a white head with a light muzzle and have lyra-shaped horns. The breed is renowned for tough feet and strong udders.


I don't usually visit the cattle area at the Suffolk Show but may have to go and see if they have any on show there this year!

I had my first piece of Baron Bigod as a meal with a pear, grapes and some home made cheese straws and it certainly is delicious.
Much more flavour than the other Brie-type cheeses I've tried.

I definitely preferred it to the Suffolk Brie from my nearest cheese producer and the Yarlington from Somerset.

If I want a brie for a cheese board next Christmas or even as a treat for just me I would choose this. 

(Apologies - yesterday I accidently deleted some comments - sorry - not sure what I was doing - not concentrating for sure) 

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Monday 29 May 2023

How Many Fiction Books................

...........have been written to explain the 11 days when Agatha Christie disappeared in 1926? 

I've read two, one was  'A Talent for Murder' by  Andrew Wilson and then this one.......

Agatha Christie is already a well know author when she disappears on December 3rd 1926. She's been married to Archie Christie for several years and has a daughter Teddy. Her world is one of glamourous society parties and country house weekends. Unfortunately she knows that Archie has a mistress -Nan- and is probably about to divorce her to be with Nan.

In this account Nan is very different and has escaped a tough London upbringing to live in Ireland where she becomes pregnant and spends the pregnancy in a convent maternity home where the nuns are aloof, the priest takes advantage of the women and the child is taken away after just a few weeks.
Managing to get back to England she is noticed by Archie and later becomes involved with Agatha's disappearance. The father of Nan's baby and a policeman are also involved and the story is told from the point of view of all four characters.

A clever story- very well written, and as Agatha never did reveal or remember what she had been doing in Harrogate in those missing days, there is plenty of opportunity for any author to make up a good tale.

 I came across another in my search but not in the library stock........ 'The Mystery of Mrs Christie" by Marie Benedict and there are a couple of non fiction books on the same subject too

Back Tomorrow

Saturday 27 May 2023

Another Bank Holiday Weekend

 With the Coronation Bank Holiday as well,  this is the third Monday BH of the month. Why did he have to get crowned in May - any other month would have spread out the BH weekends a bit better!
We get less days off than many other countries anyway- very unfair I used to think when Colin was working for the County Council - of course once retired, every day is a holiday?!  

Some Stocks bought off the market have been my Flowers on the Table for part of this week ,although they didn't last long, with some lovely Spirea from the garden to fill up the jug.

I keep hoping that something will grow for me to have my own Flowers on the Table but don't really have enough of anything and the roses are covered in greenfly again.

Had an annoying letter this week telling me that Barclays Bank in Diss is closing in August. They've already closed the one in Stowmarket (and Eye and Debenham and almost every other several years ago) so where on earth do I go now if I want a bag full of £1 coins for car boot sales! I opened my bank account with them when I started work at 16 and hadn't changed simply because they had branches everywhere we lived and it cost me nothing to have an account there. Now the only Building Society/Bank in both Stowmarket and Diss is Nationwide and they've annoyed me too by changing rules on their Savings Bond so that monthly interest money can't be paid into any other account - which I was using to top up my monthly pension. Seems to me nowadays they just think - "B*g**r the customer!

75p was spent on a pot of Basil from Aldi this week to do my usual thing of persuading the cuttings to root in water and turning them into plants which is so much easier than growing from seed. (I'm grateful every year for finding this tip on a blog)

I also bought a pot of Parsley for the same price and have divided the seedlings so some are in the ground and some in pots. They should grow and last all summer.

This week I've been grateful for
  • Seeds sown
  • Plants growing
  • Spending a day with Middle Grandson - the 3 year old dinosaur expert!
  • Good books

Hope you all have a good Long/Short weekend - depending on where you live.

I'll be back on Monday

Friday 26 May 2023

I Must Stop Finding Nice Greetings Cards + The Job List.

 I'm sure there are now more than enough cards in the card box for this years birthdays. But when I spot someone is selling nice greetings cards for pence it's difficult to resist looking through what they have.

These were the most recent find - all from one person who originally, when I asked "How Much", said "they might be £1 each....... depending! "  I said if they were going to be £1 each I would be putting them back! So he sold me all 5 for £1 instead - very odd.

The owl one unfolds to make a 3D card and has a £3.95 label on the back - bargain.

At the same boot sale I got a couple of things for Middle Grandson as I'm going to be looking after him on Mondays now and again during the rest of the school term.

I think he probably has something similar already as he is the most fanatical and knowledgeable 3 year old dinosaur fan I have ever known, but they will be new for here. £2.50 for these 2 things.

There were several garden jobs that needed doing this week, - at the beginning of the week I wrote a list to spur me on

Raise the net frame that's over the beetroot
Take the net frame off the early leeks
Sow more beetroot seeds
Prick out  the second lot of leek plants
Plant out squash plants
Sow the sweetcorn
Plant out the Climbing French bean plants
Cut back the perennial geranium over hanging the front path
Give a really good watering to all the new things I've planted in the last month
Weeding the patio
and more weeding

Lots got done..........except the weeding!

I keep hearing about the lovely weather in the west of the country - here in the east we've had sun but lots of cloud rolling in from the north and bringing with it a chilly north and north east wind. It's so Not Fair!....stamps feet!

Back Tomorrow

Thursday 25 May 2023

The Final Holiday Post

Sheringham on the North Norfolk coast is a very old small town but everywhere you look there is building work going on. Many of the small 'courts' that would have been fishermen's cottages have been replaced by blocks of flats and holiday homes. The place I was staying had been a semi detached house but by adding a small bit on the side half of it had been turned into 3 holiday let flats, with very small parking spaces. It reminded me of Aldeburgh in Suffolk where holiday homes are built in any small space.

Many of the older buildings feature the local flint pebbles.

One of the surviving small courts, with cottages all modernised

While in Norfolk  I bought some Norfolk Cheese to bring home. A small piece of Norfolk Dapple, which is a hard cheese. Had to google to find out more..............

One of the Norfolk Cheese Company’s most popular cheeses.

Produced by Ferndale Farm at Little Barningham, in Norfolk

The cheese is made using fresh whole raw milk – it gives the cheese a more distinctive, unique flavour; by using unpasteurised milk they are making better use of the natural flavours and properties of the milk

All the milk which goes into the cheese comes from one nearby farm – Abbey Farm in Binham – so that we can be sure that the milk is of a consistent top standard and the cows are kept to excellent welfare standards. If you visit the picturesque village of Binham, it is easy to spot the cows – they graze the land surrounding the 11th century priory.


It was very good and definitely had a different flavour to a regular supermarket cheddar.

 I was asked about going on holiday alone. Thanks to the 9 weeks in holiday lets before I was able to move in here I'd got used to the idiosyncrasies of strange homes, key safes, internet codes and odd TVs! I don't mind eating out by myself  and visiting places alone is fine.  It was the furthest I've driven alone and I was glad of the Sat Nav that Son and DiL passed onto me a while back. It helped at odd junctions and in Sheringham town.

What I found most difficult was actually just being on holiday and being so tired, I'm not used to being out and doing something all the time and couldn't always decide what to do and missed a couple of things I should have visited.
I actually like being at home so holidays won't become a regular thing and we've already decided that next year it will be a holiday with Son, DiL and the two grandchildren in the summer to the Isle of Wight.

Thanks to my lovely neighbour B who opened and closed the greenhouse door each day, the plants in the greenhouse were all fine . One of the reasons for going in May rather than later was because I knew it would be OK to be away from the garden for a few days.

Back Tomorrow

Wednesday 24 May 2023

Sheringham Museum

 There's a modern museum (info HERE) on Sheringham Promenade, built on the site of some old houses that had to be removed when the sea encroached and Anglian Water Company needed the site to sort out the drainage and new sea defences were needed

Sheringham was once an important fishing village so many of the exhibits tell the story of the fishermen who once would have lived in the old town.

I took a photo of the description of this cannon above because, weirdly, the name had just got a mention in the book I was reading on holiday. (Mr Campions Abdication by Mike Ripley) although it's now a week later and I can't remember what the mention was! and the book's gone back to the library already.

There's a small 'street' with frontages of some of the old shops in Sheringham

The introductory video says that everybody wonders how they got so many huge boats inside the building but didn't give the answer to that question!

Specially for the knitters!..................

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday 23 May 2023

North Norfolk Heritage Railway

 Also known as The Poppy Line ..................but only at the right time of year!

This heritage railway runs for just 5¼ miles from Sheringham along the coast and then inland to Holt. 

They run steam and old diesel engines and almost everyone who works on the trains and in the stations is a volunteer. 

I took a trip along the line one morning 

Passing the Golf Course on the way out of Sheringham. On the way back the air ambulance was sitting on the golf course - I looked online and it just said Medical Emergency - hope the golfer was OK. 

Photos of the engine are definitely required! 

Weybourne Station is one of the stops on the way.

And back to Sheringham again.

The tickets last all day so people can get on and off and catch a different train to get back which is what I should have done but I was feeling really tired and didn't fancy being at each station for an hour to catch the next train. So I stayed on the train there and back and just did some people watching (and listening!) instead- thinking how lucky I was not to be with the moaning woman sitting behind me!

Back Tomorrow

Monday 22 May 2023

Failed Fossil Hunt

 It was probably around 1977 or 78 when I took the eldest Cub Scouts to spend a few nights at the Scout camp at West Runton on the North Norfolk coast. One morning we walked from the campsite down some lanes and then down onto West Runton beach and straight away among all the pebbles we picked up several fossils. I kept a fossilised Sea Anemone for years and it sat outside on top of a flower pot that had a Hosta in it. That's probably where it was left when I had to organise the move from the smallholding to the Ipswich bungalow by myself when Colin was ill and in hospital. 

Sheringham is just along the coast from West Runton so I went in hope, but between 1978 and now fossil hunting has become a Big Thing and despite spending ages walking up and down not a single fossil was found.

West Runton is popular with school trips and there is a North Norfolk Adventure Centre where they stay from all parts of the country and while I was here there were several dozen children on the beach here checking out the rock pools and playing football and then spending their money in the café and shop!

This is the sort of thing I was looking for but didn't find!

So I had a coffee in the café, read my book and then drove along to Cromer for my lunch!

I've never had purple coleslaw before!

Back Tomorrow

Saturday 20 May 2023

Felbrigg House

 On the way up to Sheringham the road took me right by the entrance to  Felbrigg house - perfect for a visit.

Car parking at NT properties is now £5 and entrance prices vary from about £12 upwards and I worked out that as long as I also visit Sutton Hoo, Dunwich Heath, Melford Hall and Ickworth House in Suffolk (and maybe back to Blickling Hall in Norfolk ) I would get my money back on a years membership.
Something I didn't know was that if you join at a NT property they get ¾ of the joining money (whereas joining on line all the money goes to NT HQ). 
At the moment money is needed at Felbrigg for this.........

 If you want to read all about the history of Felbrigg it's HERE

It's BIG!

Below is the main frontage and the photo below that  shows all the service buildings and as you can see from the illustration above there are even more buildings on the right of these

They handout a very useful little booklet to use as a guide as you walk through the house

I didn't take photos inside because the whole place is kept shaded and very gloomy to protect the furnishings - plus they say don't use flash in case of visitors with epilepsy and everywhere was very busy.

But there is one room - actually a corridor built to improve the route between kitchen and dining room - that is lighter - it's full of stuffed birds in glass cases all shot by a bird-loving ornithologist owner!  The grandfather of the last Squire.

The kitchens are always interesting to visit

There is a huge walled kitchen garden that would have once employed several gardeners

They keep a few chickens too

The dovecot is huge.

From the little booklet I took this photo of the beautiful screen that is in one of the rooms

and another photo from the booklet with details of the last owner of this huge estate.

I thought this was my first visit to Felbrigg but it turns out that I'd visited with Colin many years ago.
I only remembered when I went in the second-hand bookshop and it seemed very familiar! 

Back Monday