Saturday 13 April 2024

Week Ending Saturday 13th

 Two clay pots were found at the boot sale last Saturday and they were my only spend (£1) on a day when there were more people selling than anytime this season so far. Just nothing much needed. I picked up three Beswick Birds like my Blue Tit and Wren, one was a robin but he had a chipped beak, one was supposed to be a grey wagtail but didn't really look like one and had a chipped tail and the third was a much larger pheasant but he'd been badly damaged and repaired even more badly so all three were left behind and I never wanted a Beswick Bird collection anyway! 

I could have bought more toys for grandchildren, a ton of craft stuff, a box of Christmas crackers and loads of Christmas cards but don't need any of them. Boot sales now seem to be more about the things I don't buy! Oh, and someone had the full set of the Country Diary of  an Edwardian Lady Months of the Year plates - I'd not seen any since I got my set  two years ago.

I potted my two recent purchases - a trailing ivy and a bright green sedum into the clay pots and added them to the plant stand. It's was 2021 when I found it at a boot sale and now looking as if it will soon need a new coat of paint. Ever since it blew over I've had it in this spot where it is tied to the trellis.

It looks better in real life than any photograph I've tried to take.

My tomato seedlings in the greenhouse have been potted on again as the warmish weather over last weekend meant they had a growth spurt. I know BiL wanted a couple of my plants to grow something different from those he gets from a friend. Couldn't remember if he wanted the giant Big Mama or the tiny Sungrape so I potted up all  6 of each. 

Most of the trees have suddenly greened up this week with a bit of warmth at the end of the week - I need to get more seedlings into bigger pots and the climbing French beans outside with some way of protecting them if we get a spell of cold. Jobs for the weekend I think. 
Yesterday I had MGS and YGD here as DiL had a school PD day, they were in grumpy end of school holiday mood - there were tears - which is quite unusual and that's my excuse for not replying to comments yet again - plus I'm reading lots of good library books too.

Thank you for birthday wishes - it's not quite yet! Although I did have some cards and a present already - thank you Ang, a lovely surprise - it was unwrapped by the grandchildren - they were very puzzled!

Have a good weekend - I shall be back Monday

Friday 12 April 2024

WI In April

Firstly Thank you for comments on yesterdays post.

My birthday month at WI so a birthday 'posy' which was really a lovely bunch of roses in a gorgeous colour. 

Our speaker at WI this week was a lady telling us all about The Bevin Boys and especially about her father.

At the beginning of WWII much of the coal mined in this country was exported to Poland and Italy so the need for coal  suddenly dropped as war started and therefore it was decided that miners wouldn't be a reserved occupation and many went off to fight. (The government didn't look very far ahead - just like nowadays!)  But by 1943 the country faced a crisis as there was only 3 weeks of coal stock left. Of course this was at a time when coal was used for trains and power stations as well as homes. Winston Churchill gave Ernest Bevin, Minister of Labour and National Service the job of increasing coal production.
Bevin decided that one in ten of all conscripts between 18 and 24  drafted to serve would go down the mines. This was done by a random ballot and anyone who objected could be sent to prison.

The speakers father was a country boy, working on a farm, from south Suffolk who had hardly been out of the county but he was sent off to train for just four weeks on the Derbyshire coalfields along with many other boys from all walks of life.

The way these boys were treated was totally different to boys who went into the forces. They were given no special clothing, their pay was much lower too and only had one week off a year. Because they had nothing to say what their war work was many were treated badly by the public who thought they were conscientious objectors or shirkers.

At the end of the war they were forced to carry on until 1948 and their work was never recognised, they got no thanks, no demob suit and certainly no medals. The lady said some never mentioned what they did as they were ashamed that they hadn't been abroad  fighting for their country. They got no help from the British Legion and when mining was Nationalised all records of the 48,000 Bevin Boys was destroyed.
For 50 years they campaigned to take part in the Remembrance Day service at the Cenotaph and were finally allowed just a few years ago and also very recently they have a new memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum for those who died.


There are only a few men left who were Bevin Boys - all in their 90's - including the speakers father. But by talking about them to various groups around the country and having all the information available via  The Bevin Boys Association they keep their stories alive.

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Thursday 11 April 2024

Turnpikes and Toll houses

 After I did the post about the early C18 Toll house that moved from the A140 to Needham Market where it is now a Vets surgery I looked on the library website to see if there were any books on the subject and reserved this one.

The map shows the roads in Suffolk that had toll houses and the black solid dots show those that still exist in one form or another. 

Most of the toll houses built in Suffolk were not an interesting shape like The Mustard Pot but always built right on the road edge. They would have had a door opening to the road where the gate keeper would sit taking money and opening the gate.

This house below is Tollgate Cottage on the way out of Eye. It dawned on me as I was taking the photo that this is the reason this road in Eye is 'Lowgate'. The house was on the turnpike between Woodbridge and Eye in 1802.
The house previously had a door between the windows,  no doubt blocked up when motorised traffic started rushing by.

I couldn't take a photo of Tollgate Cottage just north of Debenham as it's on a busy road and right where there are road-work traffic lights - but it looks exactly the same as the house above.

In Debenham village there's a house called "The Old Toll House" but this would have been the home of the man who looked after the regular markets and took tolls from the stallholders.

The last few pages of the book are about houses like this one above, that look like toll-houses but have no mention on old maps and records of the C18 and C19 turnpike roads.

After the turnpike roads came the railways and these too had small houses built for the gatekeeper where the railway crossed busy roads.. I'm old enough to remember several places in Suffolk where the railway gatekeeper would hurry out to close the gates to road traffic before the train came and open them again afterwards.

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Wednesday 10 April 2024

READING THE SEASONS - The 4th Book for Spring + A.N.Other

  This was my 4th book with Spring in the title and it was spotting the cover of the book and buying it from the library For Sale shelf  that gave me the idea for Reading The Seasons.

Una is 15 and her sister Hal is 12 when their diplomat father summons them away from their English boarding school to start a new life with him in India. When she discovers their beautiful governess Alix is actually his mistress, she is furious. Bored and lonely, Una starts to spend time with Ravi, the gardener's young assistant. Ravi brings poetry and compassion into Una's life but what began as friendship soon blossoms into something forbidden.
This is a novel of class and caste distinction, expats and the leftover customs of the British Raj but it has wonderful descriptions of the colours and sights of  India. It was first published in 1975.

On the 'Book Read 2024' page is also a precis of another book read "All Around The Year" by Michael Morpurgo. I really enjoyed this diary of a year - 1976/7 - on a mixed farm in North Devon. He spent every day of a year working with the family who were going to be the main farmers for his  charity 'Farms for City Children' which was due to start the following year. There is a Ted Hughes poem for each month and photos from James Ravilious - both neighbours at the time. This is a 2023 Little Toller reprint of a book first published in 1979 and never reprinted until now. More about it HERE

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Tuesday 9 April 2024


One day towards the end of March  I could hear a Goldfinch  somewhere in the Sycamore tree............. they have a very twittery song - a mixture of different sounds............... and stood searching for it for several minutes because I've rarely seen any in the garden here. Later it was on the birdfeeder and I grabbed the camera and got a couple of not very good photos.

I bought a special Niger seed feeder to try and persuade them to visit but this one preferred the general seed feeder.

 When the family were visiting a couple of weeks ago Son (the only one of our 3 children to take after me and Colin in having any interest in birds) spotted two in the garden and there's been one singing  almost every time I've been outside since. Hopefully they are nesting somewhere around.

I did a search in posts to see if this was my first post mentioning seeing Goldfinches here and it is. Back in 2018 I took a picture of a whole group or "charm" of them on the ground under the feeders at Clay Cottage. A real difference in what we saw there - a cottage surrounded by fields with hedges and trees all round compared to here - a smaller garden surrounded by houses. 
Looking in my frequently mentioned book " A Sparrow's Life's as Sweet as Ours" I discovered the reason for a "charm" is because of the Old English for their twittering call "c'irm'.

It's a wonder we see any at all because in 1532 Henry VIII's Preservation of Grain Act put a price on the head of anything feathered or furred, that ate marketable food. It included the Goldfinch even though they feed mainly on thistle seed. The Act wasn't repealed until the eighteenth century.

 Then during the C19 they were often kept as caged birds.  W.H.Hudson wrote in 1895 "Unhappily it is now not very easy to see them, for the Goldfinch is a favourite caged bird and so long as bird-catching is permitted, this charming species will continue to decrease"

The Caged Goldfinch

Within a churchyard, on a recent grave
I saw a little cage
That jailed a Goldfinch. All was silence save 
It's hops from stage to stage.

There was inquiry in it's wistful eye,
And once it tried to sing,
Of him or her who placed it there, and why
No one knew anything

True, a woman was found drowned the day ensuing,
And some at times averred
The grave to be her false one's who when wooing
Gave her the bird.

Thomas Hardy 1840-1928

Number have increased since the mid 1980's when imported Niger seed became available for garden feeding and seemed to be a Goldfinch favourite.

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Monday 8 April 2024

Price Rises 1 Year On.

  The book I read recently 'Across a Waking Land; A 1,000 Mile Walk Through a British Spring' (it's been very useful for blog posts!) begins

 just as Russia invades Ukraine and the author says he thinks this will have a really serious affect on food supplies and prices. It certainly has, coupled with the long term effects of Covid (higher costs after the slowdown of manufacturing etc ) and Brexit (difficulty in getting foreign workers for harvesting and packing). 

Luckily I could check out how much prices had changed because last year in March I was doing  the 'Eating Basics Challenge' and had photos of shopping with prices. This is just one week - an average sort-of shop.

What I wrote a year ago and the prices then. New prices at the end of March 2024 in RED

Milk down 10p, chicken thighs the same. Everything else is up in price, fruit and vegetables by more.

AL Bread 39p (20 slices and 2 crusts) I divided these into 5 x 4 slices and the two crusts and popped all but one in the freezer. Now 45p
AL British Chicken Thighs 1kg = 7 = £2.85 Wrapped individually and frozen .SAME
AL Pears 97p (They were on offer at 30% off) NOW £1.69
AS Back Bacon 300g =£1.40 ( I wanted to buy their cheaper 'Cooking Bacon Pieces' at 90p but not in stock) NO ESSENTIALS RANGE  ANYMORE so 300g now £2.25
AS Pineapple pieces 49p  NOW 71p
AL 2 Pints milk £1.30 (Makes up to 4 pints when mixed half and half with water) £1.20
AS Grated Cheese 500g = £2.60 I have NEVER EVER bought grated cheese before - lazy - except the crazy thing is that this is cheaper than a block of cheese at the moment so for this experiment it works. NOW £2.99 
AS Head of Broccoli 34p NOW 79p
AL 1kg Carrots 50p NOW 65p
AL 500g Parsnips 50p  NOW 65p
AL 6 Mini Apples 59p NOW 99p

A year ago the total was £11.93 - NOW £15.22

We certainly are paying the price for all the things that have happened in the last 7 years. 
I wish I knew for sure that farmers are benefitting from the price increases - but I doubt they are .

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Saturday 6 April 2024

First Saturday in April

 The vegetable seedlings are out in the greenhouse now with fleece to cover them every night. The only benefit of cloudy days is the overnight temperatures are well above freezing. I looked at the weather forecast last Sunday and every single day this week had rain spots under the cloud symbol at some time during the day or night. And they were correct, including a torrential downpour for several minutes on Thursday morning. Luckily Friday was very windy and by late afternoon the grass was just about dry enough to do a quick run around with the mower.

I spent a while  searching the shed and behind it for a couple of clay flower pots that I thought I had but no luck, then I remembered one is upside down in the sink-pond to make a step in and out for frogs (no sign of any yet) and the others must have got broken when the plant stand fell over 2 years ago. There are always plenty at boot sales. I just need two for the two new plants picked up from boot sales this year. I'll take a photo after I've found suitable pots.

"Nanna will do it!"

Badges to sew on for Rainbows for the YGD and for Brownies for EGD. No hurry - it's the Easter break and Nanna has plenty of time!

Didn't realise I'd be doing this job 35 years on from my own children!

This week I am grateful for..............

  • Having plenty of different coloured cottons in my sewing box to match the badges.
  • The knowledge gained over 68 years that there WILL be sunshine and warmth at sometime this spring and summer however hopeless it looks.
  • Vegetable seedlings looking healthy. Fingers crossed.
  • Finding things to write about for the blog everyday .
  • Some good crime fiction to read this month.
  • Phone call from my cousin to tell me his Mum- my one remaining Aunt - is now in a care home - she'll be 100 this year-  pretty amazing - all her five siblings - including my Mum died well before old age.

When it was raining I watched the three programmes in the first series of Signora Volpe. It's on the free UKTV Play now after first being on Acorn - a pay to view channel. Starring Emilia Fox as an exMI6 agent it is set in the beautiful countryside of  Italy. It's well written and very understated. According to news online a season two was commissioned but doesn't seem to have appeared yet.

So it's the weekend again and the Saturday boot-sale if I can get up early enough. The Sunday one was all set to start this week but heavy rain will have turned it back into a quagmire again so I doubt it will.

Hope rain doesn't spoil your weekend plans, I shall be back Monday.


Friday 5 April 2024

The April Library Book Photo

 Not many books brought home from the library van this month. All six are books I'd reserved.  Four are crime fiction by authors I know will be OK. Alexandra Benedict is new to me as is the one on top - Miss Mole by E.H.Young.

Last month I had this much bigger collection. I've hung onto four - all non-fiction, returned two unread - I forgot that I'd given up on reading the  Nicola Upson Josephine Tey books and didn't fancy 'Stealing the Crown'. Those that I did read are all on the books read 2024 page.

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Thursday 4 April 2024

Following A Tree

 I'm a few days late with this post which should have been at the end of March, but the photos were taken on the 31st - so just in time.

There was quite a lot written about oaks in the book  I read about walking through spring (yesterday's post). The author was heading north at about the same speed as spring moves from south-east to northwest using oak trees as the guide. A 2021 survey the first report of an emerging oak leaf came from Devon on March 26th. This is from  the Woodland Trust's Nature's Calendar which anyone can join in with.

The Oaks up the lane are still looking much the same as they did in February, the buds are just a little bigger

Although the Hawthorn growing at the base of one of the oaks has sprung to life in the last few days,  it will be a week or so before the flowers open.

The Blackthorn blossoms all around the hedges are going over so perhaps that will signal the end of the "Blackthorn Winter" and the cold winds we've been having.

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Wednesday 3 April 2024

Reading The Seasons - The Third Book for Spring

 This is the 3rd book in my  'Reading The Seasons 'not-really-a-challenge'.

 "Across a Waking Land; A 1,000 mile walk through a British Spring" by Roger Morgan-Grenville. (It came up on the library website when I put in 'Spring' even though it's not in the main title - I'm glad it did)

Fed up with bleak headlines of biodiversity loss, acclaimed nature writer Roger Morgan-Grenville sets out on a 1,000-mile walk through a British spring to see whether there are reasons to be hopeful about the natural world. His aim is to match the pace at which the oak leaves emerge, roughly 20 miles north each day.

This was a really good read. Roger Morgan-Grenville's plan was to walk  for eight weeks roughly up the middle of the country starting from his home area by the coast of the New Forest and taking in as many different types of countryside and farming areas as possible looking at how things have changed are are changing for better or worse. He had arranged to meet various people involved with conservation and farming. 

I found it so interesting, especially his notes on the research done regarding the way that the countryside is managed - for good and bad. 

One of his notes says.............

"Britain doesn't need farmers, because the food sector isn't critically important to the UK"' a senior treasury advisor said in 2021 . The man who stated this was a Dr Tim Leunig. 

When I googled it I found in one account he said it  not in 2021 but in 2020 before Covid , and it was in an email leaked to the Daily Mail. Either way it seems a crazy thing to say.

The author had quite a lot to say about dog owners who hang their bags of dog poo on hedges for the "Poo Fairy" to collect and did you know that feeding a large dog for a year produces the same level of emissions as 6,000 miles in a large car and 3.2 million more people became pet owners during covid lockdowns.

Worth reading  for all the good information and ideas for things that can be done to help biodiversity.

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Tuesday 2 April 2024

The Easter Art Exhibition

 They've been having an Easter Art Exhibition at Needham Market for many, many years and as usual I went to have a look and admire all the art that I'd never be able to do.

I didn't really see anything where I thought "Love That" but these are some of the work on show that I liked.

This first one is very striking and I think it  would need a large room to display it

It was early on Saturday when I went so the show had only been on for a day (and preview evening) but I didn't notice many red sold dots  although the duck and ducklings above was sold.

The prices are in a catalogue which I didn't want to purchase so I don't know how much paintings here were selling for.

The next Art Exhibition I will visit is in a local village in May.

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Monday 1 April 2024

April Days


From the book 'The Illustrated Book of Days' Artwork by Eugene Grasset

I open wide the portals of the Spring
  To welcome the procession of the flowers,
With their gay banners, and the birds that sing
  Their song of songs from their aerial towers.
I soften with my sunshine and my showers
  The heart of earth; with thoughts of love I glide
Into the hearts of men; and with the Hours
  Upon the Bull with wreathed horns I ride.  

from Longfellow; the poets calendar

Surely we will have some better weather in April? I know all about April Showers bringing forth May flowers but we've really had enough showers in January, February and March and could do with some dry weather. Although most of the old weather sayings prefer a wet month

A dry April
Not the farmer's will
April wet
is what we should get 
April wet, good wheat
April has thirty days, and if it rained on thirty-one,
no harm would be done.

Enjoy your Bank Holiday Monday, it became a holiday with the Bank Holiday's Act of 1871, before that people only had Good Friday and Christmas Day off work.

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Saturday 30 March 2024

End of March Financial Round Up

March Income was the usual two pensions and interest on savings. 

The main expenses in March were for the car windscreen excess payment, servicing and MOT and I'd forgotten that I'd not paid for the tyre valves when they were replaced a couple of months ago - so that was added on. All the normal expenses as usual = Electric, diesel for car, phones and broad band etc. 
Household spending was for a new little electric heater and window cleaner. 
Birthday gifts for my sister and SiL. For the garden I bought a small trailing ivy from a boot-sale to add a bit of interest to the plant stand and a new packet of all female cucumber seeds so I have some to sow  later in the season. 
Buying wild bird feed has become a more regular thing as they just Love the dried mealworms and the suet blocks. If I'm outside and the mealworm feeder is empty a Robin  appears to moan at me and make me feel guilty for not filling it up! 
I also bought a book of  8 x 2nd class postage stamps before the price rise  - should have bought more I guess as they are jumping up by 10p each. 
Food spending was more this month and not just because of that so called 'Suffolk Cheese'!

Personal spending included WI annual subs, which has been subsidised again thank goodness and I re-joined the village Over Sixties group, which is half the cost of WI and is much better value  as unlike WI no money has to go off for regional and national organisations. I avoided second-hand books all month so just exercise group and one swim to pay for. Had my usual coffee and cheese scone when out a couple of times.

I cleared out three bags full of bits and bobs this month including 10 books, 6 DVDs and various other bits that I can't remember. They all went  to a charity shop.

 Frugal Notes for March

  • I've cancelled my Radio Times Subscription. It was a quarterly direct debit and suddenly they took £21 more than the previous quarter without notification making the price the same as it is to buy in a shop. I was very disgusted but there didn't seem to be a way to get a refund on the payment, but at least they won't take anymore in May. 
  • Had to stop mixing whole milk half and half with water as my coffee cappuccino machine won't froth water! I'll be buying semi-skimmed instead. Increase spending on milk is offset by big decrease in spending on boxes of coffee sachets!
  • Make sure to shut curtains as soon as it's dark
  • Mended old leggings again.
  • Only using dishwasher every other day
  • Home made bread and malt loaf, cakes and biscuits
  • Using lots of my own batch made meals from the freezer
  • Finding things for Grandchildren from car-boot sales
  • Found 20p on the ground in the car park!
  • Reading Library books for free
  • Won a tub of Celebrations chocolates at the Over 60's group meeting and as I don't eat chocolate it will be a perfect gift for giving to the family at Easter.
  • Only used tumble dryer once despite having no radiators working for 12 days.

I had a quote for a new oil fired combi boiler £3,500 + VAT this was from a company that specialises in replacement boilers and can do them almost straight away. The next day Ian,  the usual heating engineer came  (the one with all the family disasters) and repaired the old boiler as we agreed we'd give it one more chance. I don't really want to spend out that big sum of money for a new boiler - it's quite a chunk after lending Son etc money for their car.  I might decide to move again and would need what I have for that!

And Looking Forward  with trepidation to April when expenses are always awful.........................

Add together Council Tax, Charity donation, Phones and Broadband, Diesel for the car, TV Licence, Dentist visit, Electric, Plus the  House Buildings and Content insurance and I reckon about £870 without even eating or doing anything! Frightening .............and it's the YGD's birthday mid month although she's had half a sandpit already.
And now there'll be a bill for the boiler repair to add on - an expensive month for sure with no way of spending less.

 State Pension increases in April but from my point of view it won't make a huge difference as I'll just get taxed more on the Suffolk County Council Spouses Pension!

Hope the rest of your Easter weekend goes to plan, clocks forward tomorrow - lovely lighter evenings but makes it harder to get up early for boot sales! 
I found out last week that when the ground is dry enough my nearest boot-sale is going to have a Thursday morning boot-sale as well as Sundays - I'm not sure that's a good thing at all!

I shall be back Monday

Friday 29 March 2024

Good Friday

In the distant past Good Friday was a day when very little work was done and definitely no washing as it was thought that linen hung out on Good Friday would become tainted with Christ's blood. At one time it was also a day which required people to eat nothing except bread, now it's the proper day for Hot Cross Buns, which are the descendants of small cakes/ buns made in celebration of the arrival of spring and for the Anglo Saxon goddess Eostre. The Greeks and the Romans had festive spring cakes too.
 Even the cross was there before Christianity - it was originally a symbol of the year divided into four seasons. At one time all bread was marked with a cross to help it rise, but this was frowned upon by the church after the reformation so that a cross was allowed only on special Holy days.
The earliest reference to Hot Cross Buns was in Poor Robin's Almanack in 1733 and they  were once thought to have holy powers and one would be hung in the house from one year to the next to protect the household from harm. If the bun went mouldy then disaster would strike the house!

Hot Cross Bun Seller from the Illustrated London News 1851

Hot Cross Buns, Hot Cross Buns
One a penny, two a penny Hot Cross Buns.
If you have no daughters give them to your sons,
One a penny, Two a penny, Hot Cross Buns

I have made my own Hot Cross Buns in the past but now they're just bought  from Aldi and are traditional flavour although there are lots of different sorts available - (like mince pies at Christmas)- I'm not sure about Jaffa Orange or Raspberry and Vanilla and 'Caramel' sounds much too sweet.

The Aldi pack proudly states that they are 'Baked In Britain' - I should certainly hope so - I hope that things never get so bad that we had to import Hot-Cross-Buns! Or perhaps the Aldi message means we already are importing them unbaked and Aldi just shove them in an oven!

(Info  taken from my books -  The English Year by Steve Roud and Cattern Cakes and Lace by Julia Jones)

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Thursday 28 March 2024

Added For Easter and Easter Crosses

 I've added a few extras to the seasonal display on the bookshelves.

Just for my benefit, unless I get any unexpected visitors.

Stowmarket Church has a Festival of Crosses for Easter, so I popped in to have a look. Lots of groups and organisations taking part.

A different idea to encourage people into the church at Easter.

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Wednesday 27 March 2024

A Cheese Tasting

 I haven't bought any different cheeses for tasting for many months but when I got a letter from my penfriend with a page included about some different cheeses that her husband had been given for a cheese subscription for Christmas, I was reminded about my plan to try more local cheese.

The Co-op had this which I'd not come across before. The village of Kelsale is only a few miles from where we were at the smallholding but I had no idea this business had been there since 2007.

This is the online blurb.................

The Smokehouse & Deli is a family run business based in Kelsale cum Carlton, near the beautiful Suffolk coast. We were established in 2007 and since then, our list of products has dramatically increased. We originally just sold our smoked cheeses and smoked fish pates at farmers markets; but we were soon picked up by The East of England Co-operative Society. Thanks to their support we have grown and grown. We now also do a range of oak smoked and chili-smoked olives; some traditional pates, but also some more unusual vegetarian ones using 'superfood' ingredients.
We also have a range of smoked & non-smoked condiments using fabulous Pink Himalayan Salt, which we also use to season all our delicious pates.
We supply some lovely local farm shops and regularly attend markets and local food events

I was expecting a good smokey taste but what I got was something a bit rubbery and not particularly special at all, smoked in Suffolk but not made in Suffolk. And it was extra expensive - won't be caught like that again!

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Tuesday 26 March 2024


 This is the second Spring book of my Reading The Seasons 'challenge' - which isn't really a challenge at all but just reading some books with Spring in the title in March, April and May. This one was already reserved to read anyway, before my bright idea.

Cora Harrison -  Spring of Hope. Crime Fiction. (Published 2021). 

This is one of the author's Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins mystery series. 

March 1859 and it's the spring after the summer of   'The Great Stink', when the Thames became so polluted with sewage that Parliament was overwhelmed. Dickens has become friends with Joseph Bazalgette, a young engineer, who is trying to find a way to keep the sewage out the Thames and win a big money prize. At the exhibition to show his plans a man is fatally injured and Dickens and Collins are not convinced it was an accident.
I'm enjoying this series which are fiction but based on some facts and real people of the time. They also shed some light (perhaps) on the woman and her small daughter that Collins took into his home without knowing anything about them.

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Monday 25 March 2024

Freezing Car Boot Sale

 I was glad that it wasn't me standing around selling at the boot sale on Saturday morning and happy to be walking round because the wind was freezing.

I hurried round in an hour and quickly went home for breakfast and to get warm again. These are the things I found.
The T-shirt will make a present for YGD for her birthday next month, there's a little kit for making wind chimes and  two small enamel pie dishes, I would have preferred ceramic as metal won't agree with the dishwasher but they are new and will do to replace the two I have which are ceramic but have become very crazed. Also there are a pack of cheap food bags and I bought a large bag of lovely fresh Purple Broccoli from one of the vegetable sellers. Total spend £6.50 

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Saturday 23 March 2024

There Was Some Sun

 A much better week weather-wise - at last. The sun shone on more than one day - which is an achievement for this year so far.

I went swimming this week for the first time since October but it was crazy busy. The only other public swimming pool in the North Suffolk/Norfolk border area is in Diss and is closed for a year for complete rebuilding so more people are using Stradbroke and it's not very big!

The internet dropped out for several hours on Tuesday - a problem for several villages around I discovered and  I'm still without a heating boiler. The family business (Ian who does repairs, his wife who does the paperwork and their son who does servicing of boilers) - who usually sort out my boiler have a had a 'few' problems that rather put things into perspective - death of Ian's father, whose empty farmhouse was then ransacked and trashed on the day of the funeral, at the same time as their son needed some help moving house which all happened at the same time as the wife was injured by a horse - when I heard all that my boiler didn't seem a priority! I'm planning on having a new boiler as I'm fed up with all the repairs that have been needed since I moved in, although Ian and son only do new boilers in summer so I might go elsewhere.

It's been easy to keep warm enough in the living room and I bought a cheap oil-filled radiator to have on low in the hallway ready for this weekend when the temps are set to drop. It will keep the rest of the bungalow just a little warmer. I'm thankful that washing machines and dishwashers work from cold water inlet but going back to old fashioned ways of keeping myself clean isn't much fun! So although my electric bill will be bigger, the heating oil will be lasting longer - looking on the positive side - and a new boiler will be more energy efficient and will put off having to have a ground source heat pump for longer.

More garden tidying has been done this week and my seedlings in the propagator (aubergine, 2 types of tomatoes, and peppers)  were big enough to prick out into modules. I sowed 3 cucumber seeds, which I discovered were all I had. If all three come up that will be plenty but one failure and they'll be a shortage, plus I wanted to sow a seed later for late cucumbers so I'll need to buy some more seeds. Also sowed some Climbing French Bean seeds, they are on the windowsill beside the propagator.
 The flowers on one of the young pear trees are about to open so I hope we don't get frosts. The big Magnolia flowers are open but the petals are falling like confetti from the flowering cherry.
Flowers on the table (bookshelf) this week are my own tulips -lovely to have enough to bring in. 

Indoors, much reading has been done including a very poorly written book - 'Murder in Paradise' by Ann Cleeves. 

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Published in 1988 -  ten years before starting her Vera and Shetland series - The George and Mollie Palmer-Jones books are a struggle to get through. They are written in an odd way with many short sentences and are quite confusing. All eight have been republished recently.

Much better was this children's book

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"Set in Devon in 1941, 'Digging for Victory' tells the story of twelve-year-old Bonnie Roberts who is desperate to play a valuable part in the war effort. For her, tending the family vegetable patch just doesn't cut it; she wants to be a hero like her RAF pilot brother, Ralph. But when the mysterious Mr Fisher is billeted at her Devon farmhouse, and Ralph is reported missing in action, she starts to question what heroism actually involves. And as Bonnie attempts to find out who Mr Fisher really is, she embarks on a life-changing and emotional voyage of discovery. 'Digging for Victory' is an adventure-filled story, with beautiful verse and a very satisfying ending."

That's about it for my week
Hope you have a good weekend, I'll be back Monday.