Saturday, 8 August 2020

Clunk Click every trip

  I bet many of you remember the campaign to get you to belt up when you were in the car.
At the time of this campaign I was working for a market research firm. We were tasked with engaging with divers who were pulled into a layby by police officers. While asking them how many miles they were expecting to travel, how often they drove and other such mundane questions, we observed if they and any passengers were wearing a seat belt. We returned, I think a month later, to do exactly the same exercise. Between these two sessions the Jimmy Saville ( yes I know!) campaign had hit the TV. This had followed other campaigns with Shawn Taylor, but it was considered that the saying "Clunk Click Every Trip" might be super catchy. Indeed it was, and in the second session we noted many more people wearing seat belts. Over the next year it was demonstrable the decrease in deaths and serious injuries from collisions and this was attributed to the campaign. If you wonder why I have suddenly thought of this it is the number of people on the TV shouting about having to wear a face mask, how uncomfortable they are and that it is an infringement of personal liberty. Sometime after the CC campaign the wearing of seat belts became compulsory and people were then saying they weren't going to wear them because they were uncomfortable and it was an infringement  of their personal liberty blah blah blah ... just saying!
Back to the smallholding and my luffas!. Oh my have they grown. I am SO excited about them. I have now stopped the two plants in the greenhouse and they have 6 luffas each. I have been showing them to everybody I can and most have been impressed. Several have said they are going to have a go next year. Here they are. All I have to do now is try to get them to ripen. I guess that might be the most difficult part.



All for now, a few more photos to load and will be back soon
Look after yourselves out there
Gillx

Saturday, 4 July 2020

Growing Loofahs (luffas)


Hello All
I wanted to share my experience with Luffas, or Loofahs, depending on what you know them as.
Last Christmas, my younger daughter bought me some Luffa seed. She, like me, is very keen on minimising her use of plastic and thought I might have a go at growing loofahs to replace plastic bathroom sponges. I am having so much pleasure from growing this crop, which is an entirely new venture for me.
Guessing it would need a long growing season I started the seeds in early  February in a heated propagator. Germination was not one hundred percent, but I ended up with three viable plants. The two strongest I planted in my large (tomato) greenhouse, while nurturing the weaker in the small (cucumber) greenhouse. The plants were slow to get started, but once a tendril or two took hold they raced along. What I wasn't prepared for was the beauty of the flowers! They are sort of Hibiscus -looking. It is easy, as with all cucurbits to tell the difference between the male and female flowers and I have been going to them daily with my soft paint brush to ensure pollination. I probably needn't have bothered as any flies, hoverflies or bees that have found their way into thee greenhouse have made a "bee-line" for them.
The early stem growths are very fine and look as though they wouldn't hold anything, but they soon strengthen up to hold what looks like being a generous crop of loofahs. One of those very fine stems has  wheedled its way through a small space in the apex of the greenhouse roof and escaped outside. I can see one thin tendril reaching for one off the wires that supports the hops. I wonder if it will catch on, and if so will we get outside luffas too.
 Here are the male flowers which are in bunches of six or so, which open and then die on different days
 Here is a female flower.
 I planted one lufffa either side of the greenhouse and they have grown towards each other to form an arch. I think I shall be knocking myself out on those luffas soon, the biggest are already a good six inches long
 Can you see that cheeky little tendril escaping from the greenhouse. You can just see the hops to the extreme right of the picture. one of the supporting wires stretches from those to the apex of the greenhouse and this is what the cheeky tendril is aiming for.

I am unsure how many fruits to allow before I stop them. So far I have 9 fruits over the two plants. I am also not sure how much to feed them. I know I mustn't  over water. If anybody wants to chip in with advice please feel free.
A quick word to bring you up to date with the bees, We have had six swarms this year and managed to box four of those so not too bad. A couple of the hives are very full of bees and we have had to give them extra room as bees were hanging out of the hive all the time. They often beard like this in extreme heat, but because they are short of room they are also short of breathing space. They now have another box of frames to move around and we will soon be taking homey off hive No 6. Hive No 1 was a swarm that landed in the blackberries this year. It is very strong, already having a super on and now it has two. Do you like my posh numbers? I cut up a couple of ice cream tubs and used sharpie pen for the numbers and fixed them with a drawing pin.

All for now. Back  soon with what we have been doing around the place and probably the odd opinion or two!
love Gill x

Monday, 25 May 2020

Life still going on

Hello folks.
That posting a couple of times a week didn't last long did it?!
  Busy here gardening mostly, trying to make up for two years of just managing while David was ill and letting stuff go that didn't seem essential at the time. Well it wasn't really as I felt that keeping the food production going as best I could was more important than weeding and pruning and tidying the "ordinary" garden at thr front of the house
  I just about kept the bees going too, managing to get them ready for winter, catching and boxing swarms, taking some honey off etc, but not going through them properly really and forgetting the mouse guards last year and other such sins!
 My kitchen has a tall stack of supers ready to go on the hives this week. The bees have been really busy and we captured a prime warm last week that might need a bit more space. I would love to put the honey signs out but don't really want to encourage strangers to the door, so will wait a little longer before taking the risk.
There is still quite a bit to plant up in the garden. I usually wait until 1st June before putting my frost tender plants out. However the weather forecast looks pretty good for a week or two really, so I am going to take a chance and put them out over the next few days. This will be outdoor tomatoes, sweet corn, beans, courgettes and the like, celery quinoa, sunflowers and dahlias. The frost a  couple of weeks ago blackened our potatoes and took all the leaves and shoots from our three walnuts, vines and sundry other trees. A bit of a disaster. The potatoes will come back but be set back a bit, but the trees stand no chance for this year. On a positive note the hardy veg and those in the greenhouse are coming along well. The only food coming out of the garden at the mo is Spring Cabbage, which is exceptional this year.
 Four weeks ago we took a cade lamb from someone we know, expecting to buy another one or two to keep it company. Hah! I have trawled just about every Facebook page and farming groups I know and have been unable to get one! So little Covid ( I know, I didn't name hime) is all on his own. He is now out in the paddock all day and in the office at night until he can completely fend for himself. Presently he thinks he's a chicken and usually gets along well grazing the paddock with them. They are less than impressed when he has boingy moment.
As David is sheilding he is super careful about not having anyone in the house and neither he nor I have left the holding for 10 weeks now. However, there have been occaisions when folk have had to come here to collect or bring heavy stuff and it has been quite difficult sorting everything from the front gate, which is approx 12 feet from the road. So we now have a system that works pretty well for us, especially as folk are now allowed to go to the park etc. We open the front gate and then further down the drive, the gate to the field and folk drive straight down into the field and park at a distance where we can shout at each other. Considering our field is bigger than the village park and there is only us in it we reckon it is pretty safe. This way I have also been able to see a couple of members of my family for a little while. Fortunately we have an outside loo, which I have had to fettle as it is usually the man's loo and we all know what that means!
 I think some things will be different for us when all this business is over and goodness knows when that will be. The other day we took delivery of animal food, David's medication and a small flagon of local  beer and I think we may carry on with these deliveries. We have always had our milk and newspapers delivered so no change there.
Talkng of deliveries, we have had all sorts of pressies delivered to the gate. Sometimes I know they are going to be there and other times I just come across them. That I can remember so far we have had several bottles of beer (some home made) bottles of wine and vodka, box of veg, loo paper and paracetemol, box of purple sprouting brocolli, veg plants and a bag of pork fat and chops!
 It is now time for babies' bottle he is now on 3 feeds a day and extremely unhappy about it. We have just seen a swarm come out of hive number 4 and it has settled high up in a large damson tree. There is absolutely no way we can capture it, so we have just set up a bait hive on an accessable roof nearby. Sometime that works, but usually not, but has to be worth a punt.
 Back soon
Gillx




Friday, 24 April 2020

Blossom and Baking in Lock down



I realise I have taken far too many pictures of our apple blossom. We have quite a lot of trees with the blossom (and subsequent apples!) spanning a few weeks. To help with the fertilisation we have two crab apples.
John Downie. almost finished here, there will be sudden drop of petals like snow, from this in the next couple of days.

Here is Golden Hornet, the buds started opening a couple of days ago. The very many small yellow apples making a great show later in the year.
 This is the blossom of Arthur Turner. This picture doesn't do it justice. I might try again for a better ;picture. This cooker is known for it's lovely blossom.
 Here is Grenadier, another cooker, with far too many blossoms really to produce good sized fruits for processing. Hopefully there will be a good June drop to reduce the number of fruits. If you think this pic is a little out of focus it is because the sprinkler is playing on it!
 Enough apple blossom for now methinks. Onto baking...
The neighbour who left me some fresh yeast ( I left a loaf on HER doorstep) asked if I needed any more and how was I doing for flour? Well I'm getting down my stocks pretty quickly and each week my personal shopper (grandson J.) looks to see if any is available, which so far it hasn't been. " I shall ask the baker at work" she says.
 Ta da!......16kg of Bread flour! (and 8 ounces of fresh yeast)

 A bake with just two ounces of the yeast this afternoon. Three different sized loaves, Tea cakes and jam doughnuts. I divided the yeast into individual ounce packets which are now in the freezer. The tea bread isn't a yeast mix. I made a pot of tea last night and then answered the phone. After 20 minutes it was not fit to drink so true to my handle I couldn't waste it and  made a tea loaf.
 This post is a little picture heavy but can't resist this pic of our front lawn. Yes lawn ! David says we can't possibly cut it until the dandelions have finished flowering as they are so useful to the bees. I can't argue with that, but the neighbours might!! Note four of our hives against the far wall.
That is more than enough for now. Lock down is still more than manageable here. I do worry about my eldest daughter who is isolated in her apartment in Jersey. It must be a lonely way to be.
I was going to finish with a few word about Donald Trump, but for once words fail me!
All for now, Back soon from a beautiful sunny Derbyshire
Gillx
PS I have a couple of new followers. but when I click on their photos I get no information whatsoever.  so cannot name them when I extend a  warm Derbyshire welcome .

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

Even more random thoughts from isolation

 Hello Isolators!
Well, it is nearly five weeks since David and I went outside the homestead. If someone had told me that I would survive this amount of time with  just my husband and be perfectly happy I would have snorted in disbelief!  We have been absolutely fine! Mind you the weather has helped as we are outside most of the day, prepping the veggie plots, sawing/chopping wood, organising bee equipment and other sundry smallholdy stuff. I am almost hoping for rain so that I can attack the indoor jobs and projects. It's a good job that we can have no visitors because the house is ditched!
We are finding items left at the gate for us. So far there has been a bag of vegetables, some loo paper, a box of purple sprouting brocolli, three seperate deliveries of home made ale and yesterday some fresh yeast!! ( I can hear you getting excited )
Though we live in a village it is not the chocolate box type. with a village green, pretty church and thatched cottages. Our village is really a line of houses along a main road. That road is usually pretty busy as it is on the road to the Peak District one way and the M1 the other. It has been pretty quiet recently, which means we can shout across the road to each other. Our stretch of the road have been clapping for the NHS each Thursday and recently a guy from the other side of the road suggested we go into our front gardens at 3.00 last Sunday with a cup of tea (or beer) for a social social isolating. It was a great idea and we sat there chatting away for nearly two hours until tea. A little music was played and we sang along to a few old (cheesy) favourites.
 Anybody else playing having a nosey at the bookshelves in people's homes? While reporters, personalities etc are isolating and speaking from their homes they are usually in front of their bookshelves, which I much prefer to a bunch of flowers or a shelf full of ornaments. (Mind you I was impressed by Richard E Grant's dresser, which was full of interesting pieces of china and a couple of impressive candlesticks!) I find I am looking head to one side trying to read the titles and feeling ridiculously smug if I have the same book.
In my last post I spoke of finding parts for a couple of Edison Phonographs.  I was delighted to be contacted by someone we know to say she believes her husband could get the drive belts. He delivered said belts within a couple of days ! Thanks Rissa and Steve, We were able to play a cylinder that night... what a dreadful noise! My friend has many more cylinders and when we are able to meet up with him again we hope to listen to something a little less hurtful on the ears.
 On a similar subject, I have just realised that it is the Repair Shop followed by The Great British Sewing Bee tonight. Now that's what I call good viewing. Off to fetch some ice, back soon with some pics I have taken of the apples blossom, which is spectacular this year.
Back Soon
Gillx



Saturday, 28 March 2020

Random thoughts from Isolation

Hello everyone out there !
 We live on the route to the Peaks and Matlock Bath. Last weekend was RIDICULOUS. Hoards of people driving past us on their way to stand shoulder to shoulder in Matlock Bath and the pubs actually serving them only two days after being told to shut!!
Our local pub, which is already struggling, would love to stay open. David meets some friends there once a week' David didn't join them last week because we have been staying away for some time, but joined in via his mobile. This week one of his friends organised a video link and everyone joined in from  home on their phones. The screen on his mobile got a little crowded but it worked pretty well really.  David says he will get his tablet up and working for next week. I wrote his answers down while he held his phone, which was pretty civilised, as I sat by the fire with a cup of tea. The only down side is that I really dislike quizzes and can't avoid them under these circumstances!
 Has anyone tried to get groceries delivered from the supermarket ? Our grandson, J. organised a delivery for us online a couple of weeks ago. He chose Asda as Sainsburys was booked up for three weeks and Asda only one. We ordered 2 weeks supply,  thinking we would order another two weeks in a weeks time. Hah! Fat chance !!! All the supermarkets are fully booked for slots for the next four weeks, taking no orders  at the moment for after that. He and I have been trawling the sites looking for an empty slot as we have been told to do. This morning I thought I had one, which turned out to be a click and collect slot. Okay I thought J. will pick that up for us I am sure. Err it was for 6 o;clock on a Sunday morning 2 weeks away at a store a good 10 miles away! After a pow wow with J he tells me that by Monday he will have isolated himself for long enough since he was laid off from his job when he was in close contact with the public. So we have agreed that next Monday or Tuesday he will go with my list (and his own) and buy that which we need. I hear he may have to queue to get his car parked and then take his turn to go into the shop, but eventually he should get the deed done ( I wonder how his Aspergers will cope with it!)
 We have reorganised one of our veg plots this week, the weather being so good and us not going anywhere. I have to say the two plots we are working are looking pretty good (for us) and I might even take a pic as they look nearly as good as the tidy gardens fellow bloggers have.
 from early in the week here is a corner of the first garden. with Spring cabbage  "Durham Early" to the rear and (late) garlic to the fore of these.
 This next is a poor picture of the peach blossom. We had no peaches last year, but 40 the year before and they were absolutely lovely. The variety is  "Newhaven".  If the blessed birds will leave the buds alone we could get a good crop again in 2020
As we have pulled up the drawbridge we are not selling our eggs and honey from the door  the hens, of course are laying for England so we have trays building up. I have been trying to buy waterglass to preserve these eggs, knowing I will be extremely happy to have eggs for the slack times later in the year. I have struggled to find waterglass of food quality anywhere. I asked a smallholder facebook group I have just joined if they knew where to get it. One of the suggestions was that I look on Pinterest. I hadn't thought of that. So I dived into that cornucopia of interesting things to do. The only help that I could relate to was from Leigh at "5 acres and a Dream" who I follow  (and she me) Unfortunately I cannot get the make she suggests as they don't sell to the UK , but I do have somewhere to start looking over here now.
On a different issue (there she goes again at a tangent) one pursuit to interest me over the last week or two has been trawling the Net for parts to repair a couple of early Edison Phonographs for a friend of mine. He has two  early 1900s phonographs, both needing belts and needles and one needing a horn. I have found and bought a horn and some needles in an original tin but haven't had any luck with  the belts and I really would like to buy a couple of sapphire needles too. These machines are things of beauty. this one doesn't have a horn.

All for now
Anybody else missing their family ?
love Gillx

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

STILL Isolating

 Me again
Well at last our PM Has grown a pair and done the right thing
I thought I would start this post by giving the heads up on where the important people in my life are  while we settle into our self-isolation.
My elder daughter and her husband and daughter live in south Yorkshire where she has  a very senior management position in a statutory agency. She can work from home some of the time if needed. She did indeed  have to a while back after a conference  when she found she had been in contact with  someone who was being tested for Covid 19. She went home and self-isolated for a week, living and working from a bedroom, with her meals being left on the landing by her husband! Anyway she is clear and currently she is working every hour God sends ensuring the public gets a service and responding to changing directives. Her husband, an engineering manager who will no doubt now be working from home. Their daughter aged 14 has been studying from home via computer.This system seems to be well thought out and working presently. As her mum is a Keyworker she could go to school but is perfectly able to look after herself,
My younger daughter works on a large engineering project in Jersey. Most flights into /out of the Island are now closed and she doesn't feel she will be home before the end of June.at the earliest. If she leaves Jersey now she will not be allowed back in.
Her son is a resteraunt supervisor in a  popular local resort . He has been laid off now and like many others is unsure what happens next.
His sister, who you may remember had her surprise wedding at our yearly festival last July is 17 weeks pregnant ( I can't tell you how excited we all are about this!) she works for Fire and Rescue service and along with other pregnant woman has been sent home.  Her husband is a self employed Trees Surgeon,  they think he may have to stop work.

 I have been alternating gardening with sewing. One of the projects has been altering David's new bee suit. They say that women are pears and men are apples. It is fair to say this of David and he is definitely an apple and a Bramley at that! Apparently, according to his new suit,  with his girth he should also be 7 ft tall The legs are sooo long. I have taken 10 inches out of each leg and they should now do.
A Facebook post by our local Smallholders states that one of the committee has been approached by a newspaper for their views on recent thefts of chickens because of the shortage of eggs! I understand the shortage of eggs as we have had to take our signs in today and are supplying only our regular customers and those with specific needs. Anybody else heard about thefts of chickens?
All for now
lots more to share, but my posts get too long don't they?
Keep safe
Gillx