Sunday, 4 November 2018


Hello All
Just a few words to say that I am still here but not too active blogwise.
Thank you for the comments on my last post. Sorry I have not replied...remiss of me I know
Spending much of my time toing and froing with David to the Royal Derby as they struggle to raise his hb and decrease the odema while managing his heart failure. He has had many procedures, tests consultancies, transfusions, drugs, minor ops etc. He is in hospital again at the mo. Thank goodness for the dear old NHS.Without it our house would be remortgaged by now!!!
Still pounds and pounds of tomatoes to pick and process (in November for goodness sake! ) and many buckets of apples on the trees still to be picked (should finish the apple picking next week)
Just finished several Civic Society exhibitions and functions with just our Remebrance Evening to go next week and I can concentrate on the sewing pile.
All for now
Sorry this is such a poor post
Our new cat Baloo has been busy this week.... three mice, two moles and a weasle!!

Friday, 21 September 2018

Beans and David's health (not connected!)

Hello All
Pretty busy here at the moment. It is that time of year and it seems to be going on longer this year with still much to harvest and process from the garden. Each year I try to grow different varieties  along with my old favourites. This year I grew four types of french bean.  Tendergreen, which is a bush variety, Blue Lake a climber which I have grown for at least ten years, Cobra a climber and Yard Long just for laughs! I have also grown my usual Borlotti which can be used as a french bean if you don't let it grow as a dried speckled bean for winter.
I took these pics a few weeks ago when they were at their best.
Here is Cobra which has been fantastic, a very heavy cropper with lovely long straight beans

This is Tendergreen, which even with some support has fallen about all over the place, not at all like Castandel which I grew last year and will return to.
Here is Borlotti at its green bean stage, maturing very late this year and for some reason making an awful lot of leaf.
And for your amusement Yard Long
For some reason I don't have a pic of the Blue Lake which has not done too well this year.
I will definitely grow Cobra again and have already saved some seed.
The Leon Millet grapes have done exceptionally well, here is one of the many branches. They are now picked, some have gone into wine, some for juice and the rest are in the freezer.

The peaches actually ripened and I am SO pleased with them. The flavour was exceptional, much better than those I have bought from the shop. There were forty in all, here are what was left after we made ourselves ill eating them! The pears are the first I have harvested here , so all good there too. The mushrooms are the only two that we found in the paddock this year... Oh well you can't win them all!
Just a heads-up on why I am even tardier with my postings. David is having to go to The Royal Derby everyday (inc weekends) to have intravenous diuretic to try to remove the fluid that he is retaining that not only gathers in his legs but around his vital organs including his heart. As he is in heart failure the fluid is putting an extra strain on him. Unfortunately his kidneys are also impaired and as the diuretic puts a strain on his kidneys they are having a bit of a juggling match.. The heart and renal Consultants will be meeting in the car park with stethoscopes at dawn soon !!! David's heart was damaged by radio therapy that he received some years ago when he had a 5 year fisticuffs with Hodgkins ( put simply, cancer of the lymphatic system) He had a new valve fitted nearly ten years ago, but his heart function has gradually declined. As his blood pressure is being kept VERY low the hospital does not want him to drive home after treatment so I have been driving him there, dropping him off and collecting him two to three hours later. During this time he is only allowed 1500mls of fluid a day. He is HATING this as he loves his tea and a couple of nights a week he joins friends for  real ale! When home I have been holding the fort and looking after the shared lives guys, while processing the food mountain. If the traffic is light (fat chance on the A38!) it takes me 20 mins each way. I am told this could go on 7 days a week for several weeks yet!
I am looking forward to to tomorrow. When we get back from the hospital YD and EGD and I are going to a newly opened store in Chapel Street Belper called Sue's Sustainables. She will be selling dry goods that you take your own containers for and lots of plastic free stuff.
In the Evening we are going to a 60th birthday party. They are serious Rock and Rollers and I am attempting to finish a full skirted frock. If I can get to the shops to buy the zip this afternoon I might just get it done.
Sorry about any typos and if this is disjointed as I don't have time to edit , but wanted to keep in touch.

Friday, 24 August 2018

Some fruit trees and a puppy picture

Hello All
Thank you for your thoughts on how I might sell our excess produce. I am still unsure what to do. I was excited when I heard that the local council has an open market produce day at the end of next month, but the stalls are £35 !!
Anyway there is still time to decide. In the meantime I will try to improve our roadside signs and carry on processing what I can. This is taking up a huge amount of time, but it would be criminal to let anything go to waste.
The fruit trees are exceptional this year.
 Here is one of our twelve apple trees, a Bramley

 And one of our two Victoria Plums (with a couple of Marjorie seedling plums hanging down in front of me like a pair of clackers - remember them?)
 One of our ten Damsons
 Our Leon Millet grape

The Medlar

And most exciting of all, for the first time...Peaches! (Red Haven)
Hope this doesn't sound like gloating, I'm just so pleased!
Extra busy weekend as twenty or so folks descend on us, most camping or caravaning with just a couple or so on the house. Copious amounts of baking etc done before hand , much by my youngest daughter and her daughter, so that we can all enjoy ourselves. This is easy peasy after the big party we had in July with well over a hundred and thirty odd tents!
I still haven't taken a picture of the new family dogs to put on the blog, perhaps I will remember to do so this weekend.
Here is one photo I DO have. This is Hattie. This was taken two months ago when she was sixteen weeks old. She is my eldest granddaughter's dog (company for her yellow Lab, Coda) Hattie, who  has a delightful personality,  is a Bernese Mountain dog and is going to be HUGE.
It is getting late so will close for now and hope you in the UK are keeping as warm as possible on this cold Bank Holiday!
Love Gillx

Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Where to Boot or Farmers market?

Hello All
I'm looking at those fruit/veggies that I have a glut of and want to ensure there is no wastage.
In a few weeks I will have huge quantities of damsons, apples, plums, beetroot, blackberries and spinach and other sundry stuff.  I will be making copious amounts of wine and preserves, but there is only so much jam a family can eat ( not so sure that is true of the wine!) So I am planning on having a go at selling our excess. The door sales aren't anywhere near as popular as they used to be, possibly because of the road getting much busier and people not wanting to stop in such traffic. I have bought some new jam jars so that stuff is up to scratch. Second hand , i.e re-purposed, jars will do US nicely,  but I am told that I can't use these to sell.
So, okay then, where to sell? I am told that Farmers markets are good and interested in such produce and there is one in Belper, which is only 4 miles away. There is also a large Car Boot at Tansley, near Matlock which is approx. 8 miles away and has a greater footfall.
I will also have honey and wax to sell and am planning on using up some of my huge fabric stash for tote bags and veggie bags. ( as I am typing this I keep thinking of other things I could take along)
What do you think then?
I would love to hear your views
For now

Tuesday, 31 July 2018

Courgette and cheese bake and green beans with tomatoes recipes

Hello All
The gardens are giving generously now and it is time to think creatively about what to do with the courgette glut. The abundance of tomatoes and green beans are never seen as a challenge though. Here are two tried and trusted (by me) recipes that you might like to try.

Courgette and Cheese slice  - as a base I use
2 large courgettes, grated - I used yellow and green
one onion, chopped
a little oil
3 eggs, beaten
2 cloves garlic, crushed
a cup of tasty cheese. grated
salt and pepper
parsley chopped
 You could add some grated root veg if you want. I added a large potato (grated) too last time and went really well.
Grease a tray and set oven for 170
Grate the courgette and put into a sieve to drain off the water.
While draining, saute the onion and garlic in the oil.
Squeeze the courgette in a cloth to get out as much fluid as possible.
Tip courgette (and any other grated veg you might have) in with the onions and fry gently for about 5 mins. Add the rest of the ingredients and tip into your tray.
Cook for about 25 mins until set.
Eat hot or cold. Good with salad, or as a packed lunch, or with jacket potatoes, or with the next recipe.

Green beans with tomato
1lb french beans cut into similar lengths 2 to 3 inches suits us.
1 chopped onion
3 crushed cloves garlic
2 tbs oil
2 tbs vinegar (whatever suits you)
1 tbs honey or sugar
1 and a half pounds of fresh tomatoes, skinned and chopped. or a tin of chopped tomatoes.
chopped basil.
Salt and pepper
Place beans in a saucepan of boiling water, cook for 5 mins and then drain and steep into cold water, drain and put aside.
Saute the onion and garlic in the oil for 5 mins.
add the sugar/honey and caramelise for a couple of mins.
Add the vinegar, tomatoes, seasoning and chopped basil and cook for a further 5 mins.
Add the beans.
This is best eaten when warmed through.
This freezes very well or can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days until needed.
I served this up with some new potatoes and the courgette bake for a tasty veggie meal, all from our garden.

I was cutting out a dress pattern yesterday and was reminded of the days we saved the tissue paper cut away for loo paper. Anyone else remember doing that?! We also saved the paper that was wrapped around bars of soap to draw on. It sounds like those days might be coming back when we don't waste anything. Not a bad thing.
All for now.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Events, dogs and plastic

Hello All
I realise that it has been over two months since my last post. I have rather lost my blogging mojo and goodness the time flies nowadays! Much has happened and I have been really busy. However, onwards eh?
This glorious (too hot.. give us rome rain!) weather has meant that I have spent many waking hours in the gardens and next to none in the house. The blossom has been exceptional this year hasn't it? The trees are now groaning with smaller than usual fruit  The bees have been busy for the last four months  Yesterday while I was hanging out the washing the smell of honey coming from the hives in the garden was very strong. It looks as though it is going to be another good honey year.
 The vegetable patches are now producing well, what a great feeling that is. I have tried to fill every available space with something useful.
I have quite a few events taking up my time, which I am actively involved in setting up/ running/ hosting etc and I didn't quite know how I was going to really fit them in. I guess it is time I learnt to say "No" more often. The most significant (i.e I am heavily involved) are -  our Civic Society meeting, the AGM of a Hydro project, co-hosting (and cooking for) a yearly meet of a Book Plate Society at my friend's mansion, our yearly family and friends Festival (30+ tents 200 people) and a couple of heritage exhibitions. I usually have a few fishing trips to Cornwall thrown in, but David is not well enough to go. These events have now passed successfully I'm relieved to say and I am now  girding my loins for some more happenings and of course the honey and garden harvests that will now roll out over the next couple of months.
 We have new dogs added to the family pack! In the header picture is, from the left,Sammie, Coda and Jed. Unfortunately Jed passed away last Autumn, aged 14. He was a gentle soul. Now that his mum, my eldest daughter, has moved jobs, house and county and they are finally settled  they have rescued a lab/springer cross called Bailey. He is such a livewire, I guess it is the springer in him. Coda now has a new sister called Hattie. She is a Bernese Mountain pup, quite delightful and already huge! Finally, my grandson and his partner now have a Shiba-inu (no neither have I!).called Freja (the J is pronounced Y) Our dear Sammie, my youngest daughter's rescue is still with us at 15 an a half. So it is fun and games when they are all here on Sundays for tea. I will try to get some photos this weekend, maybe it is time for a new header.
I went to "Belper Goes Green" last month. It is a two day/ three evening event. It was very interesting, though I was surprised not to see The Green Party represented and little made of the drive to reduce our use of plastics.
Talking of plastics, when we were coming home from Cornwall at the beginning of May we called in at our favourite services at  Gloucester. There was a pretty impressive display of plastic-free items for sale. However the prices were extortionate ( e.g.£24.00 for a wooden brush for cleaning your computer!!) and I'm not sure everyone is understanding the principle. One woman picked up a couple of wooden with bristle sink brushes declaring that she would throw her plastic ones away when she got home. I was all set to ask her if there was still some life left in her plastic ones or could they at least be repurposed when my mind reader of a husband steered me away! (incidentally I bought a couple of wooden and bristle sink brushes from B&M for less than £2 each)
In common with many I am working in reducing plastic use. The throw-away/use once bags/containers have  bothered me for some time, if only for the cost but mostly because of the earth's finite resources. Now seeing the impact on our oceans and rivers (Hail ! Saint David Attenborough) I have decided to be even more active in reducing my use of these items. I stopped using plastic shopping bags several years ago, but am now ramping up my fabric recycling with bags for fruit and veg. Guess what everyone will be getting for Christmas this year?!
While this doesn't really cover a couple of months in my life it sort of brings us up to date and gets me back into the swing of things.
Won't be so long next time
Love Gillx

Sunday, 13 May 2018