Friday 25 December 2015

Happy Christmas

The gangs arrived. So just time to wish you all a.....

Monday 21 December 2015

Time to prep but not to stress

Hello All.
 Especially Frugal Finger a new follower on the side there and Jangray on Bloglovin.
I, like many others, have lost some followers lately, (Google prob?) but have no idea who they are.

Like yourselves, I'm sure, I am now on countdown to Christmas Day. I'm a little late with some of the preparations as I was a little unwell with a cold last week (when I was busy with other stuff too) and from Saturday, after we returned from Santa duty, David has been unwell too with a nasty cold. When David gets a cold it usually knocks him up as he has such a weak chest from his fight with cancer and heart surgery. So I have been nursing him as best I can as he is determined that he will be well enough for his last Santa duties on Wednesday when the canal boat will be pulled by a horse. Being on the boat all day has effectively lost us a days prep, so I will pull in tasks either side.

Christmas Day prep so far.....
Over the last few weeks I have done what prep I can. So far I have made and frozen the stuffing and the cheese sauce (compulsory in this house with all meals!) I have grown, processed and frozen  the apple sauce, parsnips, roast potatoes and the peas (I will pick the brussels fresh on Christmas Eve) We have a large leg of homegrown pork which I will take out of the freezer on Tuesday night along with a ham and the large turkey bought by a dear friend who joins us every Christmas day and always supplies the turkey. I am lucky enough to have a large old fridge (the beer fridge) in an outside room where I can defrost these joints slowly and safely.
From yesterday afternoon until tea time today  our ten year old granddaughter has been with us. She has helped to post the local cards and has made a sponge for the trifle which I will start tomorrow.  Most importantly, she has looked after her granddad, freeing me up to put the fifteen boxes of books back onto the shelves in the parrot's room and strip all the beds for the weekend.

Our youngest daughter and myself have already bought a goodly selection of cheese and tomorrow we will  pop to the shops for a joint of beef to roast for eating cold. Our eldest daughter has given me the money for this.

 Godson has been gifted a Christmas pudding which he has donated to the meal ( a posh Waitrose one no less) Not everyone likes Christmas pud, so YD  made and froze a treacle sponge yesterday, With the trifle that should be enough sweet stuff for the day.

 On Christmas Eve afternoon , after she has picked up the pigs in blankets, which she always buys, YD and myself will process the carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels and potatoes for mashing, boil the ham and roast the beef. We will also par-cook the pork joint to make the logistic of Christmas lunch easier.
We will then all go to a friend's early family party, pick up GSon son from work and then join some friends at a pub, before getting home at about midnight.

  Perhaps I should explain that though this might  seem excessive amounts of food to some it has to go some way ( though hopefully there will be plenty of leftovers to process)  I have just added up who will be at ours on Christmas Day and we will be 17 for Christmas Dinner with at least 14 more joining us for an Evening Buffet.
 So there you are. My Christmas prep. I have left out all the bits and bobs (pickles, bread etc) as this post is getting too long and boring.
I don't know whether I will be posting again before Christmas (I shall certainly be reading your blogs) so I will take this opportunity to wish you  a VERY HAPPY CHRISTMAS and a PEACEFUL NEW YEAR.
Best Wishes to you all.
Gill x
PS If it is your first Christmas hosting don't forget the extra milk and loo paper!

Saturday 19 December 2015

On Santa duties again

"So what have I been up to "? you ask. Or maybe you didn't but I will tell you anyway!

I have been getting Percy's room ready to receive a new carpet.Which has meant a full redecoration.
 . There is no point in putting in a new carpet (essential as the old one had shredded near the door and had become a trip hazard) without at least glossing the skirting boards and door frame, which makes the rest of the room look grimier than ever. So I have emulsioned the ceiling  and the walls and glossed the rest and on monday the carpet was fitted. Putting all the books back is going to be a nightmare.
I do all the decorating here. I always have done. As a girl I was my dad's "boy". he was disabled  and though he did most things, often on his hands and knees, there  were things he couldn't do, so I learnt how to do them, along with such skills as trimming the strip on the side of the wallpaper. Do any of you remember that?

Tuesday was our "Staff Lunch" This means that the diverse folk who meet here on Tuesdays to work on the smallholding or the derelict canal that runs through the village, will have a cracker to pull when they have their cheesy beans on toast at lunch. I have pushed the boat out and bought some mince pies too. Gosh I spoil folk don't I!? (no I didn't make them myself)
 Then I  baked and got ready for a meeting at ours on wednesday night before getting Adam's room ready for thursday. Adam is to stay with us from thursday morning until saturday night as an "Emergency placement". We have planned a few things for him to keep him relaxed and happy as things are not too good at home at the  moment.
David and I are Santa and his Elf  on the canal boat from 10.30 until 3.30 today, so ED and EGD are to take Adam to a Matlock Christmas market to keep him occupied while we are on Yuletide duties. Adam LOVES (both markets and the girls!) them so he will be a happy bunny. Once we have delivered him back home we are whizzing off to a party for a few hours. I reckon we should wear our costumes, but David thinks not. Spoilsport!
But mostly this week I have been battling MUD. Gosh it's the worst I've ever seen with no frost to make the walking and working easier. The hens are knee deep in the stuff. it is so mild here that the bees have been out which is not really what you want as they are using up stores and energy that they should be saving.
Must go now  Santa's reindeer are champing at the bit.
Back soon with Christmas plans

Friday 11 December 2015

Windows 10

Hello All
Been a while hasn't it?
I have been reading blogs and commenting occasionally, but my blogging mojo is somewhat reduced.
I have been extremely busy lately and blogging has taken a back seat, but if I'm truthful I've also  been struggling with being nice!
I find myself wanting to rant about all sorts of stuff and also argue with some of the blogs I have read. Now you can't all be wrong so it must be me! So as our mothers said "If you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all"
So I will ask a neutral, non combative  question... Has anyone loaded Windows 10 and what do you think of it?
Brief post for me eh?

Sunday 22 November 2015

Sorting the Books and my Stuffing Recipe

I'm currently getting my "Snug" aka parrot's room, ready to decorate. I have been ruthless with the books in the  book shelves, which will have to come down so that the carpet can be fitted. Between 90 and a 100 books in bags to go. I told you I had been ruthless!.
I put the books up on the "Free to Homes in Amber Valley" FB page and a lovely young woman has just picked them up. She is having a book stall at their PTA Christmas Fayre. Brilliant! It has been quite cathartic clearing those shelves out. I might attack another bookshelf  or corner of shame and continue the sort out..or not.
  Last of the runners to for tea today. I shall miss them, as I never freeze them -  they become a different animal when frozen. So,  no beans until next year ( I certainly won't buy those out of season tasteless beans from Kenya)
 I have started to think about Christmas (sorry Cro) I bought two short-dates loaves at 20p each and have made "The Christmas sage and onion Stuffing" two large trays worth, in the freezer and one less thing to do nearer the day. This stuffing is simple and suitable for vegetarians as well as the carnivores. it's almost too simple to write about, but I will anyway, just in case there is someone out there who might be interested!
 I usually use my food processor to make this.
In  the willy whizzer I make a large bowl full of breadcrumbs. ( In this case I used the loaves, but I also save crusts in the freezer too)
 Now I roughly chop 4 good sized onions and put them into the Whizzer and blitz until well chopped.
I then empty the onions into a saucepan and wash out the whizzer into said saucepan with a scant pint and half of pints of water.
Bring the onions to the boil and simmer five minutes.
While the onions are cooking I put a couple of teaspoons of salt, and a scant teaspoon of pepper into the breadcrumbs along with a  couple of tablespoons of dried sage and one tablespoon of thyme.
 I now pour the hot boiled onions with their water onto the breadcrumbs and mix thoroughly. Done!
 Place into bags and freeze when cool.
When you cook this, don't use too much fat or oil (veggies) just enough to grease the dish.
  I particularly like this stuffing when wrapped in streaky bacon into rolls.

Welcome to Northsider Dave - proper smallholder!- on the follower bar and someone on Bloglovin  - I can't make out who you are as the names have been re-organised for some reason. Sorry about that.
All for now

Saturday 14 November 2015

Update and Snowman Tutorial

Hello All
 Welcome to Fast SOS on the follower bar. Love your blog!
Thursday's Remembrance Evening went well and was well attended. It's lovely to see some of our senior residents getting out for a good chinwag. If I had more time I would set up a regular social event just for folk to get together for a natter.
Thursday was the last of the Civic Society events (apart from one committee meeting in December) over with and I can settle down to the mountain of tasks that have grown over the last five weeks.
Yesterday I managed to dig  up a few more potato plants and a couple of buckets of jerusalem artichokes and pick one of spinach. There are only two apple trees left to harvest, both Jonagold, which are good keepers and we should be eating well into February.
The hens have stopped laying completely again so our meals will change for a little time while we are eggless. I had hoped to put some down in waterglass earlier in the year when the hens were laying well, but struggled to get waterglass.

This weekend I will start to clear the room next to the kitchen that I use as an office and snug (and also houses our parrot Percy - so is always kept warm) The carpet has decided to disintegrate at the door opening and has become a trip hazard. Before we can have a new carpet there I will need to empty the room .. aaargh! it is VERY cluttered ..and then decorate as it hasn't had a coat of paint in many years. If I don't get a move on I shall be painting the week before Christmas again.

I thought that those of you with young children might like to have a go at making the no-sew snowmen that I made with YGD a couple of weeks ago. Here is a link to the tutorial that I used. My youngest daughter did this link for me as I didn't know how to do it!
How to make a sock Snowman

All for now.
My thoughts are with those people in Paris. How awful it all is.

Saturday 7 November 2015

Using the Veg and Remembrance Evening

Hello Fellow Frugellers.
On Tuesday a friend gave me two huge bunches of chillis, just a fraction of her mammoth crop this year. Aren't they impressive?.... and HOT!!
I have open froze(n) some on a tray and put some to dry. Any more ideas folks?
In my last post I said that I would share a recipe made from some of the veg picked that day. I had been to Lidl last week for the winter iron-rations and bought some ricotta which was on offer. I used this in the mix.
Firstly I made a pancake mix and made six pancakes.
In a pan I sweated a chopped onion,  then added six grated jerusalem artichokes. When these were soft I added some shredded kale and spinach, when this had wilted down I added the ricotta cheese,  a couple of tbs of grated parmesan, salt, lots of pepper, nutmeg and a couple of tbs of milk. This mixture was rolled in the pancakes, which I then laid out in an oiled dish on a bed of sliced over-ripe  tomatoes. These went into the oven until they were heated all the way through.
 They were very tasty , though EGD said that some grated cheese on top would be good. I agree with her!
 I think I will have a go at some artichoke rosti as they cooked so well grated in the pancakes. I guess I will need to season them well or they may be a bit bland.

It is very warm for the time of year, though wet - good growing weather! Today I picked three buckets of  runner beans, a bowl of brussels, a large bunch of beetroot, the last of the sweet corn (9 cobs), MORE Jerusalem artichokes and MORE spinach. I also found a couple of small cucumbers that I had missed and a mixing bowl of tomatoes. and as for apples!!
 It's ridiculous. it's November for goodness sake! I should be concentrating on my Christmas and winter cooking and I'm harvest processing for England here.

 I need to start baking again tomorrow as it is our Remembrance Evening next Thursday. After a short service we have tea and cake and a good gossip. The older people in the village really enjoy getting together. We started to hold these evenings three years ago when our Civic Society rescued the wooden war memorial plaque from the empty mission in our village. This year we also have THE BELL on show. You may remember that the old mission bell was to be sold by the mother church and that we set up a fund to buy it back for the village. We raised enough money to offer the scrap value price for this Taylors of Loughborough bell (£400) prior to auction. We are now asking residents for ideas ( and probably further fundraising)  as to how to display this for the village, while keeping it safe from the metal thieves. The ideas coming in from people seem to lean towards combining the war memorial with the bell into some sort of memorial plinth. Watch this space!

 When we held our first Remembrance Evening it was declared open by Stan the eldest resident of our village.  He died last Tuesday. He was 99 years and three months and had lived in the village his entire life. His passing will add an extra frisson of thoughfulness to next Thursday, especially as he was a D Day survivor.
Enough for now.
Take Care

Tuesday 3 November 2015

Of this and that since my last post

Hello All
I hope the fog is clearing for you. It seems like years since we had some proper fog!
 You may remember I took my Grandson to the airport on Friday so that he could visit his friend in Glasgow. He was supposed to fly back last night, but the flight was cancelled due to the fog. He should be back today fingers crossed, as he is back at work tomorrow.
What a change the weather has been from the weekend. David took this picture of one of our hives, just coming out, they are clearly collecting pollen from somewhere. I'll guess at ivy for the most part.

David also took this pic of part of the pyracanthus hedge that grows above our drystone wall at our road frontage. Weaver was saying that there were few hawthorn berries this year (same here) so these berries are particularly important for the birds.

I had this great plan to spend more time in the garden this weekend, but failed miserably. Here is another half hours worth of collecting. I'll share a recipe I made up from some of this veg in my next post.

We went to the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Discovery Days at Cromford on Saturday. On the way back we called in at our fiends' Tea Rooms at Holmesford Cottage. If you are anywhere near, the Tea Rooms are on the A6 between Whatsdandwell and Matlock Bath and definitely worth a visit. All sorts of teas and coffees to choose from, light lunches and cakes made by the manager or local women. (She also make retro dresses fitted to order for women - you know what they say "If you want something doing ask a busy woman")

Our youngest granddaughter stayed over on Sunday Night. We had a great day yesterday. We spent the morning peeling apples for the freezer, she LOVES peeling apples!. We then went shopping, to the bank to pay in Charlie, the rescued Lab's adoption fee -( Yes! it's official!!) took some books to the charity shops and chose three to bring back.
Back home again she set about making some snowmen from socks. We had seen it as a tutorial on facebook and it looked easy. Indeed it was. She is now thinking of variations on this theme, so we are looking for red and green socks now.
Here are her first efforts.

I'm expecting  a houseful today so need to go and clear some space.
Back Soon
PS The Canadian visitors were really nice folk. It was interesting to get their view on world events and the like.

Friday 30 October 2015

Cheaper Travel and Calico Cats

Today I drove my grandson to East Midlands Airport. He's off to stay with friends for a weekend -look out Glasgow!
He was going to go by train from Derby, but it would have cost him £122 return. To fly from East Midlands which is only another 20 miles from our house it will cost him £66 return NO BRAINER!! I cannot understand why it cost so much more to go by train. perhaps someone out there in Blogland can explain it to me.
Tomorrow he is going to a Fancy Dress Halloween party. Here he is in his fancy dress.

Last Sunday there  was an article in The Independant about calico cats. It said they were the meanest cats.

 I beg to differ. Here is my sweet Dixie...butter wouldn't melt!
I haven't been in the garden for  a few days as we have hosted exhibitions, talks and walks all this week as part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Discovery Days (phew what a mouthful!) this morning, in just half an hour I gathered this small haul, apart from the nuts which came from a friend.

Tomorrow I hope to have much longer in the gardens as there is so much still to harvest. I've never known a year like it for a late crops, second flushes and the like.
Yesterday David and I were on our own for the day ..most unusual!... so we went "Winter Food Shopping" We bought a goodly amount of dried foodstuffs ... flour, sugar, rice, pasta etc. I will do a winter food post soon and elaborate on how and what we lay down for winter.
Off to pour myself a small scotch before some friends of friends arrive from Canada. They are staying at our house for the weekend as we have the room and our friend's house is full. I hope they are okay with "casual"!
Take care all
Oh yes, Welcome to Bloglover and Patricia Sylvia.on Bloglovin and Vicky Peel, an old bloggy friend on the Follower bar (do I have to follow you on Bloglovin Vicky ?)

Saturday 24 October 2015

Happy (Labrador) Ending

Yes I know it's been a while and I'm sure you don't want a blow by blow account of why I have been away. Suffice to say here I am, just in time to give you  a story with a happy ending.

 In my last post I told you about a guy who was looking for a dog after he had lost his beloved Labrador. You may remember that my youngest daughter volunteers with a Labrador rescue charity. The day after that post YD was informed of an 8 year old Lab called Charlie who was looking for a forever home after the breakup of his owners relationship.
Here he is

 Today, after a couple more assessment visits and discussions Charlie met with his new daddy.
Love at first sight!

Back soon

Monday 28 September 2015

Autumn arrives and Labrador Rescue

Hello All
It's starting to look and feel Autumnal here in Derbyshire. It has been warm and sunny today while this morning there was a decided nip in the air and an early fog covered the valley
Here is the view from our paddock up the valley.
 Somewhat different from my colorful photo yesterday!

There is still much to gather in the garden meaning that autumn has rather crept up on me! My kitchen is littered with buckets and bowls of apples, tomatoes, beans and damsons. The spinach, kale and Romanesco caulis need picking and processing. I guess that as the weather is cooling now the maize and the butter beans are unlikely to ripen properly. I suppose I will use the maize as animal fodder and the beans as a large flagolet.
 I shall be jam and jelly making in earnest this week, having also put many pounds of fruit into the freezer to make into wine when I have more time later in the year.

 A couple of years ago I wrote a few posts on getting ready for winter. I intend to do something similar this year. I hope you will join in and add your own spin on "Getting Ready for Winter"

A few weeks ago we were at the Ashover  Agricultural show. This is a great old-fashioned show which we visit most years. The weather was scorching and we were sat outside the beer tent (really? surely not!) with our friend, our daughter and her son and their rescue lab, Sammie. A gentleman was fussing Sammie and saying how he missed his old lab that had had to be put down a couple of weeks before. My grandson told him that his mother worked for a Labrador Rescue society and the guy showed some interest. Our daughter, realising how raw this guy was, gave him her phone number and told him that if he ever felt like having another Lab give her a ring.
 This weekend he rang her to say that he was missing having a dog- the daily walks and the company, and could she help him to find an older dog that needed adopting?
She arranged an assessment visit and was pleased with the home that this man could offer. He had a good size secure garden and  he wasn't bothered if he took on a dog or a bitch, but felt he couldn't take on a young dog.
This sounds like a really positive chance for one old dog. I'll keep you posted.

A Warm welcome to Pioneer Prepper (much to learn from him I'm sure) on the follower bar and Elaine Baron on Bloglovin.
Back Soon

Saturday 26 September 2015

More Colour

Hello All
Quite s few of you enjoyed the pictures of colourful carrots, So here is another colourful picture from the garden. While late to flower there seems to be no stopping them now. Dahlias and Calendula to the fore, with pink spray crysanths' just starting to the right and nasturtiums to the rear. I sat on a bucket with my camera and a cup of tea and looked at this scene for some time.

 The tomatoes were a little late starting too and while the main crop is coming to an end the "Sweet Million" are still going strong. There are lots higher up..rubbish pic I know.

 Here is Coda and Sammie playing with a large Sticky Stick. They help themselves from the pile to be processed outside David's workshop and though we give them a smaller one each they prefer to share.
When David saw them he said "I wondered where the scratches on the car were from" oops!

Just a quick one today. I'm off picking more Damsons as they are selling well and I haven't even put any down for the wine yet, though  have made a few jars of jam.
Back soon

Tuesday 22 September 2015

Thanks Weaver and Parsnip

Hello bloggy friends, especially  Pat "The Weaver of Grass" and .Angry Parsnip of "Two Little Square Black Dogs"
Earlier in the year Parsnip, who lives in the Sonoran Desert (North USA) sent Weaver who lives in Yorkshire Dales some multi-coloured carrot seed. Weaver can't grow carrots in her soil so sent them on to me.
Here is the first pulling...

The reddy/purply ones are different in size and shape and I was surprised to see are only that colour on the outside (what do I know about these things?!) I peeled the big carrots but just scrubbed these little ones.
Here they are ready to cook with tonight's dinner....

I won't post this until we have tasted them and I can give you my verdict.

Just tasted them and the orange and red ones taste as I expect carrot to taste, the yelloe one is a little bit swedie and the white one is a little bit turnippy, both with overtones of carrot.
Very Very Tasty.
 Thanks Weaver and Parsnip xx

Monday 21 September 2015

Bright and Beautiful

Hello All from a wet Derbyshire
I am so please it is raining. We have had so little over the pasts few weeks and the gardens needed it. We seem to have been on the edge of the rain as it came north and then again when it came south and it never really got to us. Whereas my friend in Cornwall reports a rainy summer down there. Time was, the Cornish weather was sunnier than ours, but it seems to be turned on its' head the last couple of years. Anyway..
We are now in the midst of harvesting (in our small way!) Here are a couple of views of my favourite dahlia "Bishop of Lllandaff". I grow this everywhere in the garden, the flowers and foliage are bright and beautiful and because it is a single the bees love it.
 A couple of views of the middle garden.

I dug up the Pink Fir Apple potatoes and was amazed at the amount I got from this one plant. They weighed 3.5 kilos which I think is pretty good for an old fashioned potato. The other plants weren't quite as fecund as this one, but still pretty good.
I tried to take an arty photo of the maincrop potatoes Sarpo Mira, which are still growing strong. As you can see I missed the potatoes and got a pic of the back of the house instead!  At the back of the plot  you can see more Bishop, some cactus dahlias , Jerusalem Artichokes and a huge teasle that has self seeded and looks magnificent, the bees think so too. It looks as though we will get flowers on the Jerusalem  Artichoke. If you have never seen them they are of the helianthus family and look like small single sunflowers way up ten feet (and higher) up in the air. Yet again, loved by bees.
Quick update on the sheep. Biscuit is now completely healed. All five sheep aren't particularly big, tho' very healthy. we have had no problems with worms or strike (maggots) and they fed and weaned really well. They are part mountain sheep which will make them smaller. I have suddenly remembered a poem from my school days 
"The mountain sheep are sweeter,
 but the valley sheep are fatter.
We therefore thought it meeter
 to carry off the latter"
from the"The War Song of Dinas Vwawr (?)"
Many thanks for your comments about Traffic Wardens. It's always nice to have people agree with me!
And what about Corbyn?! Thought I would throw that one in!
Back soon
PS. hello to Frederique on Bloglovin
PSS Why is this post centering  itself like this?

Wednesday 16 September 2015

Traffic Warden

Hi All
I rarely go into town either early or at the weekends. I remember when I was working, feeling well p****d off with the Wrinklies buying their half pound of butter and two slices of ham on a Saturday at the supermarket or early in the morning when I was on my way to work and buying some milk for the office. I would stand behind them in the queue thinking "Why didn't they go in the week when workers were at work?" They had all week to do their shopping and here they were fumbling in their purses for the right change or forgetting their pin number and saying !I'm a silly old fool aren't I?".while the queue of folk on their way to work stretched ever longer. Well now  I AM THAT WRINKLY. I do try to give the right change though I do forget my pin number occasionally, what I try not to do is be that shopper either at the weekend or early in the morning.
There is a reason for this preamble (bear with me)
Last week I went into town at half past nine on a Saturday. I needed sugar from Farmfoods (39p a kilo!) for some jam making,and to take some money to the bank with some urgency for my granddaughter. I'll just pop in I thought. Outside a short row of shops is free short-term parking, where I often park as it is close to the bank and I was lucky enough to find a spot there. As a traffic Warden was leaning against a shop window I made a mental note of the time so as not to over run the parking time. I always think that Traffic Wardens get a bad press and a hard time from the public, so I gave him a little nod as I sped off. Banking done, sugar bought I returned to my car to find a parking ticket on the windscreen . The Traffic Warden was now leaning on another shop window a few yards away. I looked at him and said "WHAT!?" He pointed to a sign high up on a post and said "There's no parking allowed between 7.00 and 10.00 I'm afraid" I was extremely angry and didn't trust myself to speak to him again. I tore the ticket off the windscreen and threw it with my bag in the car and drove away.
NOW I know that ignorance is no excuse so I have paid my fine. HOWEVER, I really feel that the Traffic Warden could have informed me that there was no parking at that time. He watched me park and get out of my car and walk away, I even nodded to him. A couple of words or a meaningful look up at the sign would have sufficed surely. I can't believe that traffic wardens are there purely to give out tickets and not advice.
What do you think?

Thursday 10 September 2015

Two types of Damage!

Hello from Sunny Cornwall
David is fishing and I now have Broadband connection, so I am able to do a quick blog.
Welcome 2Torts on the follower bar, lovely to see you here.

Our granddaughter, with support from her mother, is looking after the house, greenhouses and animals. She and her mum phoned me the other night to tell me that Biscuit (ram lamb) had been fighting with Biffa (his brother) and had lost his horns... He was bleeding profusely. We discussed what she needed to do.
Here he is poor thing

And here are the horns that they found side by side in the middle of the field!

They have cleaned him up with wound spray and then used wound powder to dry the wounds up. Phil next door has also lent them a purple spray as an ongoing treatment and fly deterrent. They then cut some willow twigs for him to eat, which they feed him daily (The bark contains a form of aspirin).
I hear today that he is doing well with no sign of further bleeding, but that he is proving difficult to catch to spray again as he is a bit spooked with the whole affair. I have suggested bribery with something really tasty.

Not to be outdone on the disaster and damage front, I have pranged the car! I was reversing in one of these fine, winding Cornish roads and didn't see the large rock that was in the grass on a verge.
Here is the damage!

As you can see each panel leading to the damage is affected in some way and we cannot open the boot. We can access the boot from the back seats, which fold down (God Bless Berlingos!)
Fortunately it is okay to drive as the lights have not been affected. So we will wait until we get home to get it fixed as it will probably take a few days bodyworking to fix it.

The girls tell me that they are processing windfall cookers and ripe tomatoes by the bucketful. - tomato puree and sliced apples in the freezer -Aren't they good?
When we get back on Saturday afternoon we will be off again to my nephew's 50th birthday party (where did the time go?!) But Sunday we will settle down to pick THE DAMSONS.. We have seven large damson trees which are full of fruit. We will make jam and wine and sell many pounds (we hope) the proceeds of which help to feed the animals in the winter and buy sugar for all the processing that is taking place.
All for now.

Friday 4 September 2015

Fishing holidayand fruit picking.

Hello All
Hello to Karen O'Brien and Kellie Steele on Blog Lovin. Lovely to see you here.
Tomorrow David and I are off to Cornwall for a WEEKS (!) fishing. Today I am getting lists ready for the housesitters. It looks a lot written down! Also attacking the huge pile of ironing left after the bed changes - friends and granddaughters have been staying here this week and have now left to be replaced by the house sitters.
 Fruit has been picked that really won't last a week - two buckets of Victoria plums, a bucket of tomatoes, two buckets of beans, two buckets of blackberries and three buckets of Cooking apples. Some have been processed into the freezer or jam, some in cold store, some put outside in bags for any passing trade and the rest given away or taken with us as we will be cooking for ourselves when we are there ( apart from compulsory fish and chips in Looe and a planned meal out with fishing friends)
I am going shopping  this afternoon for food for here and "iron rations" (whisky and good crisps) to take with us.
I am hoping to be able to regale you (brag) with my charity shop finds. I am am looking for winter working trousers, shirts and jumpers and pudding basins..
Those who know me, know that I am trying to big-up this holiday as I don't really like going away and can just about manage a weekend, whereas the thought of a whole week stresses me out. And if one more person says that I could do with the rest I shall scream!
 I am taking my laptop with me so will be able to keep up with all the blogs and also get the Civic Society Newsletter done. I might well manage a post too.

 The news is full of the those poor souls dying in the Mediterranean. I must say I'm surprised that people had to see a picture of a drowned child before they realised how desperate some people are. What I keep thinking about is those men who are at the beginning of their journey. The men who tell people that houses and jobs await them in Europe, that take thousands of pounds from them to secure a place in an unsafe boat and then abandon them to their fate. These men are the new drug barons, dealing in human misery and caring not one jot for anything other than getting rich. That's where my hate is directed.

 Off to take my daughter's dog for a run in our paddock.. This means sitting on a bench in the field with a cup of tea while throwing a ball with one of those throwy things, while looking at the beautiful Derbyshire scenery. It's tough I know!

Take care all

Saturday 29 August 2015

New home for the bees and Plum Jam recipe

Hello All
And a big Derbyshire welcome to Debbie on the follower bar and Jane and Sophie on bloglovin
A couple of weeks ago we were planning to move a colony of bees to Hathersage, A village in the Peak District of Derbyshire.  Our plans didn't work out and then I mislaid their number so we aborted the move. Yesterday we finally managed it!
 The colony was for first time beekeepers S. and L, who I am sure will make excellent beekeepers. They live on a farm in the hills with views to die for. Where to site the hive had to be given quite a bit of thought as the farm is quite exposed and is can be effected by strong winds. However they looked pretty snug when we left. I took a couple of pictures of them and their surroundings, but for some reason the pics didn't turn out.
 Before we set off home we had a cup of tea and also tried some soft cheese that they are producing and will be marketing. And very very nice it was too, a bit like a tastier Brie  (we love Brie) They kindly gave us a half round to take home, which we resisted eating as we drove along. As we drove through Crich we popped into "The Loaf" bakery and bought a light rye loaf.
 Back home -out with the butter, a couple of freshly picked tomatoes,  the loaf, the cheese and we ate the lot!! Oh my it was a delicious, simple meal.

 A friend said that she had some plums picked for me. I was a little tied up so my granddaughter fetched them for me .. bags  and bags of yellow plums!!. So far I have stoned and open frozen the perfect ones, bagged a several pounds of smaller, less perfect ones for wine, stewed 4 pounds for a couple of crumbles and made some jam ( the chickens have had the really rubbish ones)

 I used a simple recipe for the jam, which is pretty foolproof. Here it is -
 To each 3 pound of plums add half a pint of water and cook until soft
Add 3 pounds of warmed sugar and cook until setting point reached.

That's it. I always remove the stones and I don't crack these and add them to the jam tied in muslin as it is such a faff and I am unhappy about using plum stones as they can be quite toxic.

   All for now

Friday 21 August 2015

Saver of Suburbia

Just a quickie
I have been getting  random posts about who knows what.from "Suburbia"
I finally realised that someone has started to use The Saver of Suburbia blog.
 I have unfollowed this and hope that if she ever takes up blogging again we will be able to find her.

Thursday 20 August 2015

Talking of weedkiller

 Gosh It's been a while since I last posted. However people are still commenting on it, which I'm so pleased with.
In the field next to us one of the utility companies has been excavating a problem. This has been going on for some years now. In order to get at the problem they have shifted tons of earth into a huge bund next to our wall. This bund is actually three bunds making a large "C" shaped earthwork. Each year the weeds grow really high here and the butterflies visiting the flowers are lovely. A couple of years ago they sprayed without our knowledge and a large ash and a birch that we are growing at the boundry were damaged (initially we though we had ash dieback) The weeds died back and became quite a fire hazard next to our barn.
Last week David walked into the field to see a guy spraying the bund. He hot foots it over to the bloke and asks him what he is doing. The guy with the sprayer told him that someone from the village has complained about the weeds being unsightly and possibly seeding into their gardens, so they are spraying it with weedkiller. David is incandescent by now.. "What weedkiller?" He asks "Roundup" the guy says proudly. Despite David wanting to throttle the guy (goodness knows it wasn't his fault, he was only following orders) he politely asked him to stop, He informed the guy that it was our land that was next to the weeds and that we had been growing without any chemicals for twenty five years and that there were 14 hives of bees within feet of his spraying. All credit to the guy, he stopped immediately. A couple of days later a digger arrived, removed the top layer of soil alongside the weeds and then another bloke followed on with a strimmer to our wall. MUCH BETTER. !

Interestingly, before we knew that next door was being sprayed, I was hanging the washing out in the garden that houses the hives  and a few bees were "fizzing" around me. We live in harmony with the bees in this garden and this was unusual enough for me to mention it to David. We wonder if the two incidents were connected.
Here is our outside eating area, you can see the bund over the wall.
 Earlier this year I realised that we hadn't made too good a job of digging up all last year's potatoes, when a few leaves appeared . I decided to leave them as we were not going to do much with that garden this year. All I did with them is throw some grass cuttings around them. A couple of days ago I noticed that a couple of those plants were starting to die back so I dug two plants up. The first plant yielded 5.5 kg and the second 3.5kg. What a yield and there is more to come.
Here they are. They are Sarpo Miras and are a blight resistant variety that are superb for jackets and roasties.

Off to Cornwall tomorrow for a spot of sea fishing. as usual the family will move in to oversee the animals and greenhouses.

Thanks for joining in with the discussion about food intolerance.

Thought you might like to see Coda, our granddaughter's dog with a small stick that he has found. He hopes that we will throw it for him!

Back soon

Thursday 6 August 2015

Food Intolerance

 Hello All                                                                                                                                                     What's going on?
I've written a little on this subject before, but it has impacted our lives again recently.
 I have several friends/ relatives and also follow several bloggers who are suffering with intolerences /allergies, IBS, Coeliac Disease  etc. The numbers of people living with these issues seem to be increasing.
We aren't talking about something exotic, we are talking foods such as milk and wheat. These seem to be the main culprits and these are STAPLES. These are foods that have sustained  mankind for Milllenia. These are foods that are for some the main ingredient of their meals, foods that can be grown locally in some form or another all over the world.
The impact on lives is dramatic, from "I'm feeling a bit bloated and I'm going to look at what I eat to see if something is disagreeing with me" to, within weeks - " I ate something with a milligramm of wheat in it and I've been on the loo all night/ doubled up in cramps/hospitalised" . This is a scary situation!
It seems to be the same with Asthma. We have a sign outside our house saying that we have honey for sale. Over the last year we have sold just about all we have and mostly to people with asthma and/or excema who hope that local pure (i.e. nothing has been done to it) honey will help them. This rarely happened before, people bought our honey just because they liked honey!

So what's to do? I hope that the medical profession is doing more than handing out prescriptions for gluten-free bread, for example. I hope that they (and the farming community) are pressuring for assessments of the make-up of the wheat we grow or the milk we produce.
 The only people responding to what I believe to be a "crisis" are the Supermarkets, who are doing very nicely thank you, with the rows and rows of Free-From foods, some of which wind me up as much as "Diabetic Jam"!
Rant over, but concern still here. What do you think? Do you think the "Government" should be doing more to research the reasons for this situation?

On a lighter note I have been working on the cucumber glut. It's not a vegetable that you can eat with every meal is it?! So this week I have made Cucumber and Tomato Relish and Bread and Butter Pickles.

" Happening upon happiness "(great handle!) was saying how she sometimes has an inferiority complex when seeing how others get on and/or achieve. Just to make her feel better here is one of my cucumber plants!

Back Soon

Friday 31 July 2015

Poorly laptop

Hello All
I'm sorry that I have not answered your comments. I have only just got my laptop back from laptop hospital. Hopefully all is well now. I have been bereft and really missed you all. I will be on catch-up for several days, reading my favourite blogs and a few new ones on the way. You know how that goes don't you? you visit blog A and see a comment by a follower B and click on their face and suddenly you have been all over the world and several hours have disappeared.

Anyway here I am and I must welcome Janice Foehring on Bloglovin and Lilacgumtree and Matt Jarvis on the Follower bar. Matt is a neighbour of mine, so I bet you will get the the inside story now and then from him!!

  I am in some haste tonight, we have been really busy in the gardens and with the bees, having had two more swarms this week. This is the end of July for heaven's sake! Mind you there is a strong honey flow which does seem a little late. We have been unable to collect the second swarm and it is still high up in a tree. We put out a bait hive to encourage it to house itself, with no luck as they are still stuck up there for the second (cold) night. I'll let you know how they get on.
We have a busy weekend in front of us. Tomorrow we off to the World Hen Racing Championships which are held at the pub where our grandson works. It is also our youngest granddaughter's birthday weekend, so we will be over there for tea. We also have to move some bees to Hathersage were they are to have a new home with some first-time beekeepers.

 Tomorrow morning I have a bucketful of redcurrants to process into wine, a bucketful of honey to  jar for sale and some lumps of wax to melt and pour into ounce bar moulds(?) for an order. I do love this time of year. It is what we work all year for!
 Must go now, my hot milk calls.

Saturday 25 July 2015

Pension Pot.

                                                                                                                                                                      Hello Everyone!
Especially new followers Carol, NannyAnny and Undomestic Diva on the follower bar and jangray, Bronzewing and Rebecca on Blog Lovin. It is really good to see you here.
I recently saw a couple on the TV who are going to use a draw down from their pensions to travel the world. This couple both had pensions and my guess were a professional couple, probably with decent pensions. They appeared to have done their homework and good luck to them, though it is not a move that I would make, nor equity release.
I must admit to being anxious about draw-down. I am concerned that some older people might be taken advantage of. You might think that I am being patronising here and that people know what they are doing. I agree that many do, but my experience as a Social Worker tells me that some older people are vulnerable from fraudsters with "investment" advice or likely to be targeted/befriended by family members and so-called friends and neighbours.
"Bless him, my grandson is having a difficult time. He has finished college and would like a year out before he settles down"
"My granddaughter says that if she had a car she could get a job"
"My son needs a short term loan for a holiday. He works so hard he deserves a break"
"My nephew has been using drugs but says he isn't using them anymore and needs a bond to get himself a flat and make a new start"
Now there is nothing wrong with helping family out. That's what families are for, helping each other, but I have heard these statements and similar so many times when an older person has cashed in an insurance policy or similar. They are so pleased to be able to help their relative out and I suppose if they never see the pay out again (they probably wont) it was money they never had (though have paid into) but draw-down reduces the amount of money they need to live on in the long term and the loss of it will impinge on a person's standard of living.
For those not familiar with Drawdown, put simply, a person can take a percentage of their pension pot as a lump sum. Clearly this will reduce the regular pension payments afterwards.

 A headline in my Sunday paper a couple of weeks ago stated that "People in their 20s have retirement mapped out - but they aren't saving" The article says that twentysomethings expect to retire at 63 on an annual income of £23,000, which many plan to spend travelling the world. They believe that they don't need to start saving until they hit 30 and almost half believe that they can rely on a state pension to give them a decent income.  Just how much of that is likely?!

And am I the only person who doesn't want to travel the world?!

Just watched an article on the news about a young woman who is the first apprentice Bee farmer. She works on her dad's farm and hopes one day to take over the business. Good for her! I was especially pleased to see the old cobbled together hives that are still in service after many years in the elements. It made me feel better about our apiary (after looking at some of the hives of beauty that I see on other blogs)
 We took our first honey harvest this week. Hive No 1 yielded  60lb of honey, which is a good start. We hope to find time remove the supers from Hive No 11 and 4 today.
Having seen the projections for the winter weather as a result of a very active El Nineo (how do you spell it?) I shall be kicking into Prepper mode for the next couple of months, putting stores away....oooh I do love harvest time.
Enough of my ramblings for now.
Hope to be back soon

Thursday 16 July 2015

Daughter to the rescue wearing her big girl pants!

Hello All
A warm welcome to Jessica Schlenther, Rebecca, Sandy Humphreys, Striving for Simplicity and Clemcat on Bloglovin.
Yesterday I was getting tarted up (  aka shower and wearing non-gardening clothes) to drive to Derby to see my youngest granddaughter's school production of "Grease"
 My youngest daughter had arrived for a spot of lunch with her dad and that  familiar sound and sight in the sky meant... A Swarm!
The swarm quickly settled high into a large damson tree and I'm stood there knowing I can't let our granddaughter down.
"You go mother, I'll help dad" says YD. I quickly collected together all they might need ( I know were everything is) and set off as YD was phoning work to negotiate a longer lunch break!
I texted her just before the performance and she texted back to say that the bees were boxed, the slight hiccup being that David managed to drop a branch full of bees on to her head as she footed the ladder! (apparently she dropped the "F" bomb when this happened)
This swarm was spread over three branches, which David had to cut off and lower ( or drop!) to YD individually. The bees were then shaken into a waiting brood box that David had placed in a hastily cleared site.
 Here is the swarm settled in the tree, as you can see a good large bucket full (the yellow line is one of our washing lines)
And here is a video of them as the third branch has been shaken into the box. Note the frames to the side, these will be placed in the hive with the others once the bees are definitely in there with their queen.

Jobs a good 'un Thanks to YD for the help and the photo and video.
Back soon, lots of things on my mind at the moment.

Tuesday 14 July 2015


Thanks for your comments on my butter making efforts.
Is it something I said? I lost a couple of followers this week, surely butter making isn't that controversial! However I am pleased to welcome Laura to the follower bar. Hello Laura!

 I have started picking peas this week and am pleased that my pea plans (!) seem to be working, ensuring fresh peas for some months yet. Mind you I think peas freeze particularly well and am hoping to put some down for winter too. Here are the peas that I am growing this year.
 Firstly Kelevdon Wonder. I am picking these now. I notice that a few mange tout peas have found their way in among the two rows. I have no idea how they got there, but am happy with their appearance. I have used sycamore twigs to support these.
Pictured here are Alderman peas these are a very tall pea, with  quite a lengthy cropping season. This year I have strung baling twine across bean poles, next year I shall go back to using netting as the stringing has been quite time consuming. These peas are still growing and look as though will make 6 to 7 foot.
The third pea is Sakura. this is a marrowfat pea that is grown commercially. I hope that you can see that they are self supporting, which is essential if you are growing acres of the things, and are ready more or less all at once, making them perfect for freezing or drying for the winter. I will do both.
I thought I would share my, rabbit - pidgeon- cabbage white butterfly deterrrent. David made this for me last year. It is a glassless greenhouse, cobbled together with bits and pieces of old greenhouses. Last year David covered it with chicken wire to keep the rabbits off the peas in the paddock garden. This year we have moved it to the top garden and covered the whole thing with fine plastic netting. I have planted brussel sprouts in here. This way I can stake the brussels and let them grow as tall as they like (In the past the plants have often been weighed down by netting) and get in to tend to them with no problem.
My final picture is of some of blackberry flowers. We have several yards of blackberries around the holding and it looks like it is going to be a bumper year. I am planning on making plenty of jellies and wine, as it also looks as though there will be plenty of damsons and apples too.
I have just finished "Hovel in the Hills" a book about life on a remote Welsh hill farm, I thought life was tough for us when we moved. Next to these folk we had a walk in the park! I am looking forward to reading the next two books.
All for now folks
back soon

Wednesday 8 July 2015

Festival and Butter Making

Last weekend we had our annual Bash which we call our "Festival", we have been holding this party for quite a few years now. It started as a small family party (can't remember the occasion now) over the years more friends joined us and camped so that they could have a drink, the numbers grew as we and our daughters added more friends. One year it absolutely poured and someone said this is just like Glasto and the term Festival was adopted.
This year there were thirty tents and a couple of hundred souls. Everyone brings a plate of food, a drink and a chair and/or a tent. This year we had four barrels of real ale which we ask for a donation of £1-50 a pint. This covers the price of the beer and if donations exceed cost the difference goes to our chosen charity. ( as does the proceeds a a little raffle we hold with gifts that guests bring if they wish.
They start arriving on Thursday night and Friday night is almost as big as the day itself. This year our godson made some great braziers from tyre rims (picture to follow) and these were stood on slabs and served as campfires for groups dotted around the field.
  The field is now back to normal except for a tent that is to be waterproofed and the large marquee that needs some attention.
  Quite a few people that bought puddings also bought cartons of cream, which we keep in an electric cool box on the tables with the butter. On Sunday morning there was a litre and a half remaining so yesterday I decided to make some butter. I have made small amounts before (mostly by accident) but made an effort to make some, assessing if it was a feasible/ frugal way to make our butter. We love butter in this house and only use margarine for cooking.
 I am sure many of you have made butter so bear with me!
Here is the double cream. I don't know how much it cost so I have googled a price site and it would probably be about £2-80 a litre (much cheaper if it was on offer of course) which equals £4-20 for these.
I put this into the Kenwood  and whizzed past the thick stage to the sloshy stage (when the water was thrown across the kitchen!) I strained this all through a fine sieve over a bowl. I but this liquid - buttermilk- into a measuring jug.
I washed the butter in running cold water, squeazing it until the liquid ran clear from the butter. I added dampened salt and bashed it into a rough butter type shape. This weighed one and a half pounds.
As you can see there was a yield of one and a half pints of buttermilk. I have split this into half pint cartons and after checking that I could do this, I have frozen it to make soda bread.
 In summary
From one and a half litres of double cream and a tablespoon of salt I have made one and a half pounds of butter and one and a half pints of buttermilk. I reckon that if I had bought the cream at full price I would have broken even, with some yellow sticker cream it would have been worth doing financially (obviously it didn't cost me anything on this occasion)
 Off to now try to beat the birds to the cherries and tie up the broad beans which have decided to go horizontal on me!
Back soon - hopefully with my post on retirement Sue.

Wednesday 1 July 2015

Bees overheating.

Hello All
This is not the post I was going to do today, I was going to write a "deep and meaningful" post about retirement. However I thought you might be interested in seeing what can happen to a strong hive when the weather is really hot.
This morning a neighbour knocked to tell me that she thought our bees were swarming. We went into the front garden to see many bees gathered at the front of hive No 1. They were very quiet and I realised that the bees were hanging around outside the hive to keep cool. This hive is extremely strong with three supers on and ready to receive another. The heat builds up in a hive on hot days and the fanning by the bees is not enough to keep the hive cool. So some bees come outside the hive to make more air space.

 Here they are at about nine o'clock
And by lunchtime.
The temperature rose and rose
And by teatime
This phenomenon is known as "Bearding" A very descriptive word don't you think? It is now 21.30 and they are still covering the whole of the front of the hive, with a beard of bees underneath.  I have only seen this once before in over 40 years of bee keeping.
Interesting don't you think?
Back Soon

Wednesday 24 June 2015

Saving the Bell

Hello fellow Frugellers
 Over the last few days I have been pushing myself to do the myriad of jobs on my HUGE list. We are  less than a fortnight away from our big bash in our field, on Thursday we make a swift trip to Looe in Cornwall for a sea fishing trip, we get back Saturday afternoon and friends arrive on Saturday evening, we are out for a gig and then they will stay for a while. The gardens are calling, the goosgogs are ready for picking and so and so on....
I have also been very busy with the civic society. We have launched a sub-group with some independent folk (engineers, architect, Councillors, canal experts) to influence the development of a large brownfield site in the midst of our area.
We formed our society in 2009 in response to the proposed development, We have no issue with development, but did want to influence the type of houses built and the manner in which they are built. The line of a canal runs through the site. We campaigned for the line to be protected so that nothing was built on it , that way the canal could be reinstated when the funds were available. We succeeded, so far so good. Then earlier this year we were told by a respected engineer that the canal would never be put back in water as when the houses were built there would never be enough room for spoil and movement of plant and that infrastructure would have to be heavily disrupted to ensure that the appropriate drainage etc  could be put in place.  Mmmmm what to do? campaign for the developers to reinstate the canal at the same time as the development! Anyone who knows anything about planning, housing developments engineering, etc will tell you that this is no small order. In fact it is a HUGE ask. The sub-group we have set up is getting a lengthy and learned document together to demonstrate the feasibility of such a project.
This has taken up much of my time and I thought it manageable as we tend to reduce our meetings through the summer. Then we heard about THE BELL.............
 The old Mission in our village has been derelict for six or seven years now. Two years ago when we found that the war memorial ( WWI and WWII) was still in the building festering away and deteriorating.We set up a campaign to save it and re-site it in our little village hall. This we did and have had two wonderful Remembrance Day events since. Outside the church hung a bell and we have hoped that the folk at the mother church a  mile away would do something about it before it was stolen. They now have and they have put it up for auction!! This bell was bought by public subscription by the residents of the area years and years ago. So here we go again another campaign!!
We have set up a fund to buy the bell back for the village.  Over the weekend I cobbled together and printed a letter and over a couple of days with three other committee members posted nearly 400 letters to residents of the area explaining what had happened and asking for pledges. I am pleased to say that I have had several phone calls today already. So fingers crossed !
 Yet again my post has nothing to do with Self Sufficiency or Frugality ! I will try harder next time.
Off to get ready for our fishing trip before our shared lives guys arrive. We have a couple of tip runs to do (a favourite job) and when we take stuff to the tip is really is rubbish!
Back Soon

Sunday 14 June 2015

This is Me (sorry)

As promised a picture of me - I told you that I was a 69 year old weather beaten old bag Kev!
Here is the seat I use when drinking my early morning cuppa. it is a bit mizzly today, but you get the idea. The next two pictures are my view whilst drinking said cuppa.

Looks ideal doesn't it? and indeed it is, as nothing beats the Derbyshire Countryside.
I'll take some pictures of my corners of shame another time to balance them up!
All for now, cooking tea for the festival fairies, who are currently pulling nettles.