Sunday 24 December 2017

Happy Christmas

Hello All
Yes, I am still dipping my toe into blogland, I've just been extremely busy here in deepest Derbyshire.
I'm dropping by to wish you all a Very Happy Christmas and a Peaceful New Year.
After Christmas, which is going to be a busy one, I will get back to blogging again and reading all my favourite blogs.
David has his last Santa duties this teatime, before he hangs up his suit for another year. I think we will need to take on less next year!

Have a wonderful time

Monday 13 November 2017

Of the garden and the kitchen

Hello All
A special hello to Clarissa, who thinks I'm being tardy with my posts (I am)
Firstly a garden update (for Clarissa).
As I clear the gardens I am tipping horse manure onto the the cleared area for the chickens to sort. Son-in-law took the trailer and filled twenty bags to the top as he poo picked his daughter's ponies field (yes she has to pick up too!) The bags are so heavy they are impossible to lift so we have to take out half of the brown gold with a spade before we can shift the things.
The tomato plants are finally finished by a light frost. There were still plenty of tomatoes on the plants, many of which I have managed to save. I have made some passatas for the freezer and we are having tomatoes with whatever we can . I have put a bowlful of ripe ones in the fridge to keep longer but this certainly affects the taste, so I need to remember to get them out to warm up.
In the garden ready at the moment we have brussels, black and curly kale, celeriac, beetroot, corn salad and chard. To eat, in the greenhouse, there are several mixed lettuce plants (split up from a living lettuce tray) parsley and the last chillis. As small plants to produce next year we have spring cabbage, purple sprouting, sensyu onions, leeks and garlic. I shall be starting some broad bean seed off in the next couple of weeks. At the weekend Adam podded all the ripe bean seed pods and got several pounds of seed, some for planting next year and some for eating through the winter. After Adam had de-husked the cobnuts a couple of weeks ago my son-in-law and EGD's partner have doggedly cracked them until they are now all ready for eating/preserving.  This morning EGD and I have included chopped cobnuts into our oat biscuits and our cookies and very nice they are too. The remainder are in chinese food containers in the freezer, in a jar in the fridge for immediate use and the rest in jars of honey to pour over yoghurt, cereal etc. Cob nuts keep just about forever stored in honey I have found.
 So that's about it for the garden, methinks.
So to the kitchen -
I've already mentioned the passata, cookies, biscuits and preservation of cobnuts and dried beans, which is kitchen related I suppose. Yesterday we processed the fruit for the marmalade we are making today. This will be used for Christmas presents but also for the house as we are fond of marmalade, both on toast and in cakes (and a very nice steamed pud) As I write this it is simmering away nicely, with the jars in the oven to warm and bread rising from the borrowed heat. If I was really clever the marmalade will be ready and jars out of the oven in time for the bead to go in, but I bet it doesn't work that way! As we had roast chicken for tea yesterday the ubiquitous chicken soup is also bubbling away. I wish I liked it, but I don't. Fortunately David and the shared lives guys love it and will undoubtedly have a bowl or two for their lunch one day this week. The leek and potato soup that I have made today is much more to my liking. I wish I could say that they are my own leeks but they are not and I will have to wait a while longer for those, if they make it at all. So that's about it for the kitchen today, apart from the sausage and bacon casserole that I have made for our evening meal, which we will have with some homegrown potatoes and kale.
We now have semi-permanent signs out for eggs, honey and kindling. As the chickens have decided to go on strike I could done under trade descriptions, but I won't take them down again as they took some getting ready and erecting. I don't suppose it will be long before they oblige again, especially as they are now out of the orchard and roaming all the gardens and the paddock.
I don't know if I have told you about the kindling (skip this paragraph if I have) As you know, we often take delivery of a van full of pallets. These David turns into fencing, beehives, gates etc etc Pallets don't always break up easily and there are mountains of bits of wood to be seen to. These David turns into kindling. He cuts them to a certain length which he passes to Don (shared lives) who chops these lengths into sticks. Colin (shared lives) who loves things to be tidy, then puts the sticks into bags.  Colin then tidies up all the sawdust/shavings etc which he bags for the chickens and rabbits. This team work produces more sticks than we could ever use and so we decided to see if they would sell, the money going to the tea fund. So inside the kitchen next to the honey jar and the egg jar and the garden produce jar is the "stick jar"! The guys really love this activity, in fact would do it every hour they are here. They sit at their respective stations in the workshop, field kitchen lit, kettle on, Radio Derby playing, like a gang of elvin shoemakers!
I reckon that's enough for now. I'm about to jar this marmalade and then fetch David in to sit down. He was very poorly last week, with an infection in his leg. Today is his first day outside and he is overdoing it, so I'll go and nag him to come and put his feet up.
My last post, which was it's usual random rubbish, had double the usual views. I have no idea why, as it wasn't even the Russian spike I sometimes  get (don't we all?!) There is no understanding the wonderful world of blog is there?
Back soon

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Up to date and a discussion item for you.

Hello All
Firstly, welcome to 99to1percent, Elaine Baron, Hannah Williams and Jen on Bloglovin.
Thank you for your comments about my Dixie tribute. For some reason I am not receiving any notifications that there have been any comments. I am trying to find out why.
 I am also having difficulty following people as "frugal in derbyshire". Whenever I try to follow someone it comes up with my personal details/identity instead, which for family reasons I don't want. As there have been some really interesting blogs I would like to follow I am finding this frustrating.

Well, as ever, I have been quite some time between blogs. it seems that whenever I am busy doing lots of (to me) quite interesting things I don't have the time to blog about them!!
 In brief...
 * We have been extremely busy in the garden, planting the overwintering veg and with produce still coming in thick and fast. This needing processing and preserving...freezing and drying, pickling and made into jam and jelly, juice, cider and wine.
Here is Adam (shared lives) de-husking the cobnuts
 And the state of the"Snug" while we are taking advantage of the gas fire being on. (Honey is easier to manage when kept warm)

 * We have been to Cornwall for our last fishing trip of the year.

  *  The bees have taken up much of our time too. Though a little late, we have taken the honey off six of our ten hives.We have left four to what they have as the hives weren't too strong. From the six hives we have spun, strained, and jarred 246 pound of honey! Our best ever honey harvest. Today I am processing the wax, which I will sell as little ounce bricks while reserving some for balm and polish.

  *  I am also supporting my youngest daughter, who lives on her own, who is moving house on the 29th of this month. At around this time her daughter (EGD), who is currently living with us, will be also be moving to the house she has bought with her partner. When they moved in with us two years ago, I took half of what I would have asked for, for board on the understanding that they banked the rest towards a deposit. This they have done and with this amount added to by careful their saving they are on now on the housing ladder!! My eldest daughter now tells us that there is a possibility that she too will be moving house. Come on girls, give me a break, even more tip runs, curtain altering, packing etc!!

 * September and October is quite a busy time for our Civic Society, so I have been/am pretty busy assembling newsletters, exhibitions etc and preparing for/holding meetings.

 *  Last weekend was my eldest daughters 50th Birthday!! How did that happen? I was a child bride you know.

   I think that brings us up to date-ish.

   Last week I watched " Homes under the Hammer". One buyer was asked why he had bought this particular house. The buyer replied that he had bought it for his son. "Will he be helping you?" he was asked."Oh No" the man replied "He doesn't like work"
  As they say .....  DISCUSS  .....          (You know what I think!)
  Back Soon
PS Did I say this post was going to be brief?!

Wednesday 4 October 2017

Tribute to Dixie

Hello All
After a goodly gap I am back to the blog.
This one is picture heavy as it is my Dixie tribute!
If you read my last post you will know that we lost Dixie last month. Here are a few pictures of her from my blog. I have had to select a few as there were many!

Here she is on one of her favourite places laptop.

 And here she is with my youngest daughter's rescue dog Sammie
 Another favourite spot is on any current sewing projects. Here she is with my eldest granddaughter , testing a quilt that she is making.
 Dixie was definitely the queen of the smallholding. She kept the dogs and the sheep in their place. In this pic I just missed the moment that her paw connected with that cute lamb nose.
 Not one to be camera shy, whenever I set up a piece for the blog (in this case some of the books I received for Christmas) she would often get in shot and refuse to move.
 Here she is looking cute on something we actually WANTED her to sleep on.
 Not too good a pic, but around that black hen are several tiny chicks. This pic demonstrates that while she was a good ratter and rabbiter and often bought moor hens through the cat flap (feet first - with wings outstretched on the other side of the door) she never touched the hens or chicks.
 Dixie  testing another quilt in progress
 Dixie demonstrating she can be kind to sheep too (so long as they behave)
 Dixie doing what she did best. being cute and kind and lovable.
 Rest in peace sweetheart. 
We miss you
Back soon

Thursday 14 September 2017

Losing our dear cat.

Hi All
I'm sitting in my friends conservatory in Cornwall (while David is fishing ) feeling a little low, so thought I would talk to you, my virtual friends.
While here, my daughter is looking after the old homestead. Our dear cat, Dixie, has been unwell and "under the vet" for a couple of weeks now. Last night YD rang to say that Dixie had taken a turn for the worse and that maybe the time had come (we had already discussed this between us and the vet) As she was talking to me Dixie fitted in her arms and then drifted away. I'm so sorry that we were not there for Dixie and for YD.
Dixie was about 10years, we are not exactly sure of her age as she was a rescue, but she was a young cat when she came to us. She had a great character and was a fearsome rabbiter and we are going to miss her dreadfully.
As I am away I can do little more that post these few words, but when I get home I will gather the photos of Dixie that I have posted over the years to put up as a sort of tribute


Friday 8 September 2017

Safe after Irma

Thanks for the helpful comments re.. the judging. I have all my "props" to hand now and ready for the morrow.
The fishing gear is mostly packed tho' it is possible we won't set off tomorrow as the weather doesn't look too good for fishing as winds are forecast for Sunday, Monday and possibly Tuesday, so we won't be rushing off.
In truth this all seems a little petty after today when my youngest  daughter and I have been tracking Hurricane Irma every few minutes because her daughter  (the young quilter Weave) is hunkered down in an hotel on the north coast of Cuba!!!!
 The worst seems to have passed now, so she is safe thank goodness, but as yet they haven't been allowed out of the inner, windowless hall that everyone was ordered to stay in until the hurricane had passed. She tells us, by text, that they must stay in a little longer yet  (they have been there since lunchtime) and that they are told that the lobby is destroyed and at least some of the roof has gone, with water is running through the hotel.
What an awful time they are having in that part of the world. Three current hurricanes (and an earthquake today in Mexico) We are so lucky living where we do and yet no one complains about or discusses the weather as much as us Brits!
All for now, keep safe our American friends

Monday 4 September 2017

Judging at the Horticultural Show

Hello All
I might do a bit of an update on my last post soon, discussing the animals, crops , money making schemes etc.
But for now I have a request.
Has anyone judged at an horticultural show and have they any tips?
I have been asked to judge the three preserve categories at our local horticultural show. At first I thought "Who? Me?" thinking I didn't have the experience. On reflection I probably do. I entered my first jar of jam at the Kingsway Hospital Show aged 10. I remember the jam was raspberry, made from fruit that I scrumped from a derelict orchard and I came 3rd. Not a bad start against the WI brigade!. Since then I have pickled, bottled, brewed and dried, salted and jammed and jellied year after year, sometimes in huge amounts.
The show is next weekend and I shall arrive as staging finishes to judge my classes and then set off immediately from the show to travel to Cornwall for a weeks sea fishing. David that is, I will be car booting, charity shopping, sewing, painting and all the other activities I follow while himself is on the briney.
So wish me luck with the judging and if you have any experience please share. The only thing I am absolutely sure of is that I shall find something positive to say about each jar, whatever the quality of the contents.
Back Soon

Tuesday 29 August 2017

How we bought our smallholding

How we bought our smallholding... A bit of a ( drastically edited) life story really.
Are you sitting comfortably? then I'll begin...
 I met David when he moved into a council house 12 doors away from our council house. I was just 14 and he was all of 15 and a half.
Nearly six years later (1966) we married. My parents, who had to give consent as I was a minor, weren't too keen, but I informed them that if we didn't marry soon we might well have our children as bridesmaids.. that did  it! We rented a terraced house a couple a streets away from our parents. The house had an outside loo and a long back garden, which we never used for anything "useful" that I remember. A couple of years ( and a daughter) later we had saved the deposit for a new house on what was then, one of the biggest new private estates in the midlands. My father, a staunch socialist,  was taken aback and not a little disappointed by us being "owner-occupiers" he thought we had overstretched ourselves, a sentiment we had to concur with a couple of years later when fuel prices went through the roof and the interest rate on our mortgage rose to 15%! Those were the days of  real hardship and only the skills taught to me by my mother, much ingenuity and a frugality that had helped us raise the deposit for the house in the first instance, helped us to hang on until things got better. Around this time our second daughter was born.
Living on a new estate meant that most of our neighbours were of a similar age and we had a really good social life. We met people who are still dear friends today. Two people, in particular, we became close to. Newlyweds, they moved in five doors away.. After a while we saw them daily, went on holiday together, played cards into the night and generally lived in each others pockets. By now David and I had started to grow vegetables, keep bees in a friends large garden, rear rabbits for meat, forage, make wine (I had always cooked, baked, made jams and preserves) and yearn for "The Good Life". Our friends became interested too and when we watched the serial "The Survivors" together we were agreed that we were the types who would survive. Coming across John Seymour sealed our growing ambition which was held back purely for economic reasons! As we spent so much time together we reasoned that we stood a good chance of living together and we began to search for a property that our joint incomes could afford and that was big enough for two families (though they still had no children at this time)
Over the next few years we looked at properties, bought "useful things"  for our future life from car boots, read up and practiced skills that could be useful and after many false starts and horrors we found a property that could, with work, meet our needs.
 In the summer of 1981 we sold our houses and arranged to move in the September. One buyer fell through and we decided to take our chances with a bridging loan . Crikey that was financial fun for the next nine months!  Moving two seperate houses and households into one house (that we had yet to convert derelict rooms into liveable accommodation) in what turned out to be a bitter winter is another story really, as this one is telling of how we afforded our little bit of land.
Twelve years later our lives had changed in many ways and we decided that we and our friends wanted/needed/prioritised different things. We bought our friends out and the smallholding became ours alone. (they remain our close friends and we see each other at least weekly)
In short, we moved from council house, to rental , to owner occupier, to joint owners and finally sole owners of a Derbyshire stone cottage with two beautiful acres bounded by a river.
Here I sit feeling pretty smug in our little piece of heaven, bought entirely by our own means (we have never inherited nor won anything) it hasn't been easy at times for all sorts of reasons, but it has always been worth it.
Anybody want to share how they afforded to buy their dream?
Back soon
love Gillx

Sunday 20 August 2017

Trying to sell things and other stuff

Hello All
Blogger friends, do you remember when you first started blogging and you kept looking to see how many views you received? Well that's me on facebook marketplace! I finally put three items up for sale (loads more to do) and I keep checking to see if anybody has looked at them.
After my last post I decided to try to sell items on fb marketplace within 40k of here and if they don't sell will put them on ebay. I have taken lots of photographs and written descriptions that I believe to be clear and honest. All will be transferable to ebay if needed.
 I remember when I first started blogging and my daughter was my first follower (well she would be as she set up the blog for me!) she said that she would get me started and follow me until I got 20 followers. I couldn't imagine that happening at the time and remember the first comment I received, I was SO excited. I'm not a regular blogger so don't really deserve nor court new followers, but I'm am still pleased when someone new follows!
 The news is pretty awful again isn't it? Unlike many people, I really don't have the answer to the terrorist attacks. Anyone can drive a van into a crowd and everyone has access to a kitchen knife, you cannot legislate against either can you? And if a person believes that they are doing the will of god and actually want to be a martyr there are few punishments you can inflict that they won't embrace or welcome.
The weather has been varied here in Derbyshire and we have struggled to get the right weather to take honey off the bees. many people have called or phoned to ask if we have any yet and we are turning them away. it is very frustrating.
Meanwhile, the odd broody is bringing off a couple of chicks here and there. no big broods, but the numbers are adding up for replacement hens for next year.
"Fake or Fortune" starts again tonight. One of my favourite programmes, I shall be bathed and ready to watch it prior to us going out to friends later.
Talking of painters and cheating, there is a new book out called "Traces of Vermeer" by Jane Jelley, which I really, really want to read. Trouble is, it costs £25 which is a lot for me to pay for a book, but I'm not sure that I can wait until it is available second hand. Perhaps if I sell something on facebook I can use the cash to buy the book!!
 Looking back, this is another random post (really? from me?)
I have started to draft a post about buying a smallholding and thought that a good place to begin would be how WE bought our smallholding, so that will be my next post.
A warm welcome to Chezbobs on the follower bar and California Clippin on Bloglovin.
Back soon

Saturday 29 July 2017

I need tips for selling on Ebay please

I've been having a little de-clutter. Not what some would call a de-clutter, but I've made a start with the smallest bedroom aka junk room.
All the fabric, clothes etc has gone to the Air Ambulance. They pick up from the door regularly and I fell lucky with a pick up last week. A few boxes of bric a brac, books etc have gone to the charity shop, but there are some items that I think are worth selling. So how to start? I have never sold anything on ebay and bought very little (and always with the help of my daughter or granddaughter) so I don't really know how to go about it. Do I do lots of photographs,? Do I do a thorough write up?
 My granddaughter says I might do as well on a local facebook selling site. Has anyone found this better than ebay?
One of the reasons for the clear out of the small (which we call the Heidi room because it is snook up into the loft) to make more room for my granddaughter who is currently living with me and is "bottom drawing"  - they don't use that term anymore do they? I remember David and I starting our bottom drawer. For some reason I thought that red and white would be a good theme. My first purchase was a "Domino" coffee set! Really useful! I have no idea where that went but it would fetch far more now than I paid for it then, well over 50 years ago.
Said granddaughter doesn't appear to have plans for a wedding as yet, she is though (with her partner) saving for a deposit on a house. Their long term plan is to have a smallholding and they plan to buy, "do up", move etc until they reach their goal. With the price of property especially with land they have a steep hill to climb, but she's a determined (not to say stroppy and sassy) young woman and they might just do it!! Nothing ventured eh? I know that Sue from the Cottage at the end of the lane did exactly that.
I can feel a theme coming on here - "Who can afford to buy a smallholding and how?" - Next post methinks.
I'd love to hear of your experience of Ebay/facebook selling.
Love Gill x
PS A warm welcome to Debbie Amber, Modern arts and crafts and Hannah Coe on Blogloven.

Sunday 23 July 2017

"I deserve it"

I see that it is over a month since I last posted. Where did the time go!? Been super busy here. Not even been looking at other blogs and I'm months behind with my Civic Society paperwork too. No doubt I will catch up when/if the weather worsens and I am restricted to indoor tasks only.
While gathering my strength to attack the ironing mountain(any excuse to put it off) I have been watching "Right on the money" on the TV. As often happens I have been shouting at the TV again. Well at two "patients" that are struggling with money/debts/savings. What makes me shout? The statement "We/I deserve it"  The parents of four children who believe they deserve a weekend break without the children once a month! (they also have family holidays) and the woman who buys online for things she doesn't need but likes opening packages and she deserves it. At least the woman appeared to be able to afford her purchases, but the couple were overspending in several ways, such as lots of takeaways -"because we work hard"
While I believe that people should have treats, holidays, meals out etc where does this term "deserve it" come from? I also couldn't help wondering how their children felt about how their parents needing so many breaks from them! (David and I had two weekends away on our own in all the time our children lived with us and while enjoyable, we didn't NEED the break)
Am I being a grump? Too judgmental? Do some people work harder than others?
Neck on the line here again - what do you think folks?!
Back with a smallholdy/frugally/generally type post soon.
Off to catch up on some of my favourite blogs - have I missed anything?

Monday 19 June 2017

Of bees

Anyone else with bees looking out the window wondering if they will swarm?! The bees have all made it through a mild winter and the colonies are strong. Because of the heat most hives have lots of bees "bearding" to the out side of the hive to keep themselves and the hive cool. On first sight it is difficult to assess if they are about to swarm, so I keep looking to see what they will do next. We had one swarm last week and it was a whopper! It settled low in a pyracanth so was easy to collect though the nasty thorns kept catching at my veil. When boxed it almost filled all the frames, so it is more than possible that we will get honey from it later in the year.

Our godson who also keeps bees has had several swarms from the hives in his and his parent's gardens (they live next door to each other) Unfortunately, his father was stung last week and had a serious reaction that the doctor says will only get worse with any further stings! So Gds has to look to rehome his bees. he will have to sell some bees and just keep half a dozen hives in whatever plot he finds to house them. So if anyone in Notts/Derbys is looking to buy some bees let me know and I will see that you are contacted.
Looking out of the window I do believe I see bees pouring out of hive No 5.. must go!
Yup. sat at the door for 10 mins to see them landing in one of the damsons. They have settled on several branches at the mo, so will look again in a few minutes to see if they have amalgamated into one lump and where in the tree that might be. I hope it is the lower branch!

Tuesday 13 June 2017

Some Derbyshire cheese

I'm feeling a little more positive about the veggie gardens this week. While there are still some heroic weeds out there I have begun to tame them and am planting with a vengeance! I'm having a go at sweet potatoes this year. The youngsters like them, though I'm not too keen really. They are okay in a chilli and curry but that's about all. Anybody else growing or have grown sweet potatoes? Were they worth the effort and cost (£2 a plant)?
I was in the garden showing GF round, (earlier he had been looking at my latest glass purchases - I told you it was a weakness!) and a fellow beekeeper called in to bring us a sample of her latest cheeses. Oh MY! are they good! She doesn't sell them until she has matured them a little. I do like a nice Brie and these are as close as you can get to a Brie. I love the hole in the middle, she lives on Stanage Edge up in wildest Derbyshire Peak District - hence Stanage Millstone. You can visit her site at
In (a poor) swap I gave her a teasle plant and a syrup feeder for her bees.
We were fishing in Cornwall again last weekend, David brought home a goodly catch of Pollack and Ling and I found a cute stall in the Tavistock Pannier market where I bought 2 cut glass whisky glasses and four small liqueur-type glasses of different styles for my collection. GF tells me that one is Bohemian, one from the mid Victorian era and one from around 1820, he isn't sure about the other. Each glass cost me £1 and I am very pleased with them.
The bees still haven't swarmed, or if they have I have missed them going. We are hoping for a good honey year. Other beekeepers we know feel the same. I do hope my bloggy beekeeper friends are doing well too.
This year's broodies only seem to be able to hatch the odd egg before leaving all the others behind to go cold and expire. We have four hens with eight chicks between them so far - rubbish! Three others are sitting, let's see how well they do!
We are now on countdown to our annual Bash. It is in four weeks and we have another weekend in Cornwall planned before then. No pressure there then. As usual we will have over 20 tents, with approx 150 guests all told (not everyone camps) There will be races, 50 a side rounders, country dancing and a group at night for a boogie. Most of this is no effort as we have all we need in equipment and most people bring a plate of food. David has organised some barrels of local ale and cider and it remains to make the place safe and set up the recycling area.
 Enough of my ramblings.
back soon

Saturday 10 June 2017

Back to the blog post election

Hello All
Just a very quick post to say I am still here and battling on, sorry I have been so tardy posting, but I'm now "Back to the Blog"
The election has been interesting hasn't it?!!
Reading people's  blogs over the last few days (rather than keeping this one up to date!) I am struck by how SURE many people are that they are right and anyone who disagrees is a fool/ misguided etc. I wish I could be so sure that I was Right in my views. There are so many variables to each argument and so many views/ experiences to consider. I am a life-long Socialist (no shit Sherlock!) but do not consider that it is the only party that understands what a country or its people needs. I consider it has many flaws and am often upset  by some of its' policies and pissed off with some of the pretty uninspiring candidates ( I believe Diane Abbot is to leave her shadow cabinet post... thank goodness for that!) Whatever happened to the good old Statesmen of both parties? I have just read that Mrs May may be considering aligning herself with the DUP. marvellous!! anti abortion, anti gay etc. They could  also consider whether women should continue to have the vote while we are at it!
SO enough of that (for now) I'm off to brave the showers and plant up some more veg plants that are bursting out of their pots, prick out the tomatoes, pick gossegogs and string up the hops! All these things are achievable and good for the soul.
Back soon  - honest!

Thursday 25 May 2017

Appeal - Please Drink more Prosecco

Hello from sunny Derbyshire.
This is a drink related post.
I have asked my facebook friends to drink more Prosecco, Cava or Champagne. Strangely, my appeal has been well received and donations are rising steadily.
Here is the reason why -

 How good are those for protecting eyes while gardening?
The canes are from a gardening job that H. undertook some months ago. There was a HUGE quantity of bamboo to be cut down. He bought it here and it has been drying in the barn since then. We have started to trim it to make garden canes and supports. The canes and leaves were at least 10 feet tall, some taller and there is five times more than you see to be trimmed yet. I looked up how to prepare and preserve bamboo and it looked a little complicated, with salt baths etc, so I have just dried and trimmed it. Regarding the corks, wine corks are okay, but  the sparkling wine corks are so much better for fixing and for protective qualities, hence the appeal for more. I use a lot of canes as I grow spray chrysanths , gladioli and such like for cutting as well as vegetables that need support.
   Still drink related,
 I collect old liqueur glasses ( it's a weakness I know - more clutter!). Below are a couple of examples. The one on the right is Victorian and very fine glass. The one on the left is one of my "everyday" glasses, which we use for tasting homemade damson gin, cassis etc. They are tiny but robust and probably not old, but I do love them.
 Now look at these beauties. My friend found these in a charity shop and paid very little for them. He informs me that they are Georgian. They are lovely to hold and my new favourites.
 Not in any way drink related, unless I make a tenuous link to how many bottle they are still drinking each day (3) Here are the lambs. Dumble, Duchess, Daphne, Dora, Delilah and Denzle. Little Duchess, who is sitting down in the grass, has joint ill and is currently on antibiotics. She had a nasty abscess on one foot, which has been lanced and I am currently washing out the wound with salt water twice a day. Her elbow on her other back leg is also affected so she really is in a poor way, but we are giving her the best care we can.

Lovely weather again today, but a little hot to work in the gardens.
I will be amazed if we don't get a swarm!
Keep cool.
Love Gillx

Monday 22 May 2017

Deep beds or no?

Hello All
Welcome to Charlotte and Yours Frugally on Bloglovin and Tom on the sidebar
I notice that many people use the "deep bed" way to grow their veg.
The principle behind deep beds is that the soil is deep and humous-full and that the beds are just wide enough to allow you to tend to the plants while not standing on the soil, as compressing the soil damages the it' friability and drainage. This method means that a higher density of plants can be grown in a given area.
To set the ground up for this method it is usual to make a frame from strong treated wood (often old  railway sleepers) these boxes are usually placed 3 to 4 foot apart and some sort of path made between the beds. (gravel, slabs, chippings) The boxes are then filled with compost and /or soil, ensuring a soil high in nutrients.
You may remember from pics that I have shared that I don't use this method. I have to say that I am not convinced it is the most efficient or frugal way to grow veg. Oooo er controversial Gill!!
Firstly, the outlay to set up this system is pretty high.  If you are growing your own to save money it will be some considerable time before you get your money back (especially if you grow crops such as carrots and potatoes) Consider the cost of the wood, preservative,paving and compost, (though some people do have access to enough improved soil)
Secondly, you can make your soil as rich, deep and productive without using boxed deep beds.
Thirdly, you will grow easily as much per square foot in a well planned "conventional" garden.
Here's how we do it.
We ridge up the garden into 4 to 5 foot beds beds with and 18" gap between, this frees up more gardening space per metre than using the boxed garden, wide path method. I usually lay old floor boards or pallet wood in the gap to walk on or push wheel barrows along.(If you roll these boards over occasionally you can pick off and dispose of the slugs that will gather there - they have to gather somewhere!)
I will grant you that raised beds are tidier and if you are a wheelchair user higher raised beds make gardening possible for you (you will need higher boards for this, say 3 or 4 sleepers deep) I personally favour the chaotic flowers, fruit and vegetables (and quite a few weeds) look, which makes my heart sing in mid summer and have searched out a couple of pics to remind you.

Now some may have to lie down in a darkened room after looking at this organised chaos, but I reckon that the yield from this chaos is pretty good!
Some come on gardeners what do you think? (Head above the parapet here)

Thursday 18 May 2017

"Three Girls". What did you think?

Oh My!
 Anyone else here been watching "Three Girls"? If so, what did you think?
My granddaughter and I have been watching it and believe it to be very well done, though not an easy watch.

Wednesday 10 May 2017

Fishing, Car Boot and the Lambs

Thank you so much for your comments on my last post. How touching and some cases heartbreaking they were. I am so glad that you felt you could share.
David and I are just back from one of our regular fishing trips to Looe in Cornwall. As usual we stayed with our friend in Callington and while David fished J. and I gossiped and visited a couple of car boot sales. I didn't buy much but was pleased with that which I did buy, this gorgeous jerkin for 50pence
 These delightful pincers,which David says are probably Victorian and I thought would be helpful when I am assembling and disassembling frames for the bees. Even if I didn't have a use for them I think they are a beautiful tool and it will reside in my "Woman's Drawer" in the kitchen, with all my other tools.

 I also bought a novel and a couple of soft toys for Coda and Sammie the Labs (expecting them to want the same one!)
David and his friends caught mostly Pollack and we received the spoils from his and of his friends catch too, After I had filleted the catch we had 29lb (13kgs) of fish fillets for the freezer. I cut a couple of the larger pollack into strips to make cougons for the grandchildren and will breadcrumb them, cornflake crumb actually, later and serve them with oven baked homemade chips and mayo. Some we will have for a favourite weekend lunch of fish finger sandwiches (real class!)
The lambs are still on 4 bottles a day and likely to be for a few days yet as a couple of them are not too strong and still need quite a lot of care and I'm not overly confident that they will make it. But each day is a day closer to then making strong lambs.
Here they are out in the sun after their lunchtime bottle
A Warm Derbyshire welcome to Faith Archer on Bloglovin. Do you have a blog Faith?
I have just collected all the bits and bobs of vegetables together that have been languishing in the fridge  since last week. I will see what I can cobble together this afternoon. Will try to remember to take some pics.
Back Soon

Tuesday 2 May 2017

What would you say to your deceased parent?

In my last post I talked pinnys/aprons and Annie of Scrappalachia said that her mother always wore one and how she still missed her mother 15 years after her death. I too still miss my mother, in many ways more than then when she died. I often find myself wanting to ask or tell her things.
 I find myself talking to her ..."Look at this mum" I say when something is happened she would have liked. or "You would have loved her so" When watching my youngest granddaughter, who is named after her. More recently " J is happy and settled" about a grandson who had a difficult early life with his Aspergers.
And as for my dear father, who never saw us move to our smallholding (which my mother did and so loved the place) " How about that view dad?" and "I wish you could tell the children one of your stories" and "Tell me about your grandma and grandma".
What would you like to say to your deceased parent if you could?
Can't see the keyboard as I am sobbing here!

Sunday 30 April 2017

Her life in pinnys or is it aprons?

Hello again
A couple of weeks ago YGD who is nearly 12, came to stay and as is usual, wanted to bake. Out came the pinnys. She put on  the latest one she has been wearing, which was originally made for her older cousin. This one is made of pale green cotton twill, very hard wearing and meant to double up as his carpentry pinny. As he is now nearly 25 and 6' 3" he hasn't worn it in years! When YGD put it on, she only just managed to pull it over her head and it it came half way up her thighs. Time to get out the pinny I had made for her to give her later in the year. Putting GS's green pinny back I realised that it was joining a collection of no-longer-big-enough pinnys belonging to YGD. Why did I keep them? because we often have children visiting and they like to "do things". Here are the ones I found in the drawer... her life in pinnys.

While telling Good Friend  about the pinnys, as I knew he would be interested, being a collector of many things (including tea cosies and fans) I realised that we speak a different language. He calls them aprons, while I call them pinnys or pinafores. Mmmm is this a class thing or a district thing, a bit of both, a bit U and non-U ? So what do you call them? and what is the pinafore in HMS Pinafore? Neither GF nor I knew the answer.
Off to feed the 9 lambs that joined us last week. Pictures to follow.
Welcome to Marlene Snijders and Liane Peddlesden on the side bar and Ani K. Hill on Bloglovin. For some reason I can only see the blogs you follow and not if you have a blog.

Tuesday 18 April 2017

"Teach me before you die"

 Hello All
Welcome to Steve on the follower bar and Bloglovin
We are still waiting fro our poddy lambs. EGD who lives with us has asked if we can keep a couple of the girls and put them to the ram next year. "I want learn how to lamb and you can teach me before you die!" she said cheerfully Now I know that 71 isn't young, but really! On reflection I AM passing on all sorts of things to EGD while she lives with us. Her partner (who is a tree surgeon and gardener) is always asking questions and showing a keen interest in all that we do too. Hope for the future eh?!

The hens are finally in the orchard, the goathouse has being cleaned in preparation for the lambs arriving.(There are two hens with their chicks ensconced in there, but in a couple of weeks time we will put them in a separate run within the orchard to gradually introduce them to the rest of the girls.) So "Hurrah"! I thought, I can finally plant out some of the veggie plants that are waiting in the cold frame and greenhouse. I couldn't  wait to get the cabbages, broad beans and peas in. I stood back admired my handiwork and retired for a well earned scotch and to watch a film that EGD and her fella had bought.
 Has anyone seen " I Daniel Blake"?  EGD and I shed a tear on a couple of occasions and felt upset and frustrated in turns. I have accompanied many people to the job centre over the years and my experience has been mostly positive with regard to the people that work there, even though the system that they work within can be flawed. I did shout at the screen a couple of time (like I do) and though I can't say that I actually enjoyed the film, it was definitely worth watching.

Anyway back to the garden... the next morning I went out to see to the hens and admire the veg plot to find that we had been visited by ...rabbits! I was seriously p***d off and wished that I still smoked!
So all plans that David had for the weekend were shelved while he firmed up the fencing to the orchard that is between the paddock and the veg garden, as on inspection the little fluffy creatures had gnawed through the paddock fencing to hoppity skippity through the orchard and into the self service salad bar.
Yesterday I replanted with some plants that I had put aside for a community allotment group that has been set up. Is that really selfish of me ?
We saw two of "our" swallows this weekend. They swooped and dived overhead, happy to see each other after their long journey. David had only swept the goathouse walls and beams the day before, so we are only just ready for them.
All for now
love Gillx

Thursday 6 April 2017

Update on our Cockerel

Morning Fellow Bloggers!
Thought I would update you on HughTwo. Here he is looking good. You can just see his aluminium splint?
 Here he is looking for all the world as though he is king of the Roost, which indeed he is. We are delighted with his progress and though he is still limping quite badly his foot, which was turning, in is now straighter than it was. He is such a gentle boy (though extremely randy!) and never shows any aggression to animals or humans. If the girls squabble he runs up to them and stands between them. I think he must have gone on a course about diffusing difficult situations! He is (supposed to be) a Lavender Orpington.We are fond of Orpington cockerels because of their natures. HughTwo is so named because he is so like our Buff Orpington Cockerel Hugh, who was an absolute sweetie.
 We have decided to leave the splint on for at least another fortnight. Fingers crossed he will have no lasting problems.
The sun is shining today and I am off to do a spot more posting for the Civic Society and the Canal Society.
I mentioned the blossom yesterday, here is a picture of one of the front garden damsons.

 I have just found this picture of Hugh the buff Orpington. Here he is sitting with one of his many wives. This shows his gentle nature. Can you see the baby between them? We have no idea why it is that colour unless Hugh was cuckolded by ?!
All for now

Tuesday 4 April 2017

I make a stupid mistake

Hello All
Welcome Zuria Amber on Bloglovin, good to see you here.
It's been a busy couple of weeks, mostly with the Civic Society, a seperate pressure group that I am secretary to and the gardens (of course)
Last Sunday most of the family came round for tea, plus a woman (and her husband) who sees our house as her second home and arrives with her scissors to cut anybody's hair that needs it. (line up everyone)   Youngest daughter with her son and daughter  set to to clean the goat house floor, which was covered in over three months worth of chicken s*** as we have been deep littering them .The chickens should really be back in their house in the orchard, but when David set about deep cleansing and fumigating this he found that a couple of shelves and a couple of laying boxes needed replacing. While this is being sorted the hens are still living in the goat house and free-ranging over the vegetable plots that I am desperate to start planting up. We are probably only a couple of weeks from getting our orphan lambs so the goat house also now needs a deep clean. We will need to be careful how we do this as four hens have hunkered down on eggs in various spots in the goat house and we expect chicks from this weekend and over the next two weeks. It looks like we might have a perfect Easter picture with chicks and lambs if all works out to plan (yeah right).
When the dream team had finished mucking out they leant the front of the old goat byres against the end byre. As I needed to access this to pick some eggs I moved one of the byre fronts against the water tap and then forgot it. An hour later ED found our beautiful cockerel Hugh-two, under the (very heavy) byre door. When she extracted him from this he clearly couldn't walk and on investigation it seemed he had broken his leg at his "elbow". I felt dreadful, what a stupid mistake to make.What to do? David cut a piece of angled aluminium, bent it into the shape of Hugh-two's elbow while YD duct taped it to his leg. We then put him into a large rabbit hutch to rest overnight. I hardly slept worrying about what I would find in the morning as it was possible that the splint wouldn't work and/or that he also had internal injuries.
The next morning I opened the rabbit hutch and Hugh-two flew past me squawking loudly. He limped over to the nearest hen and proceeded to do what cockerels are paid for!! Grant you he fell over afterwards, but his pecker was definitely up! We are watching him carefully and so far he is eating well, managing to dust bath rather inelegantly, limping all over his kingdom and bonking for England!
This weekend we are off for the first weekends' sea fishing of the year. So we are Cornwall bound on friday afternoon, while YD and EGD take over, wondering what catastrophes will happen while we are away. A good friend of mine is coming with us this time and she and I  hope to hit the charity shops etc while David is at sea, while taking the opportunity for a good gossip, which we seem to have little time for recently.
Will close for now as I have to post some newsletters and flyers and I'm already a day later than I promised.
Back soon with more bits and pieces of random stuff
Love Gillx
PS Isn't the blossom spectacular this year?


Thursday 23 March 2017

Sad News

Morning All
 I was going to answer the comments from my last post and do a more upbeat one this time. However sadness at the news from London yesterday, coupled with my ambivalent feelings about the lauding of someone who was responsible for so many deaths in Ireland have now been compounded by the news of the death of the husband of one of the sweetest bloggers.
I am sure that those who follow the Weaver of Grass, and there are many, are as upset as I and are thinking of her and sending virtual hugs.
love Gillx

Thursday 16 March 2017

Us selfish smallholders

Hi Everybody.
I'm sat here making my daily list of things that must be done today, those that I will do if I have time, phone calls and emails to that I must make, what we are having for dinner tonight and how many will be here for that and adding to the shopping list for when I go to the shops next ( I shop approx. twice a week)
I do this each day as I am not organised by nature and it helps me to use my time well (and I do love a good list!)
I lead a pretty busy life and realise that I can come over as smug because of this. I think smugness is something smallholders lean towards. "Look at us aren't we good?.. saving the planet, living a good life, cooking good food, not eating junk and generally being more interesting and better than some!
 This is the life we chose (which isn't for everybody thank goodness as there isn't enough land to go round!) and because it is a way of life it can be all consuming and can make us SELFISH!!. What do we do for others? Do we find time to look outside our "rural idyll" at those who are frailer, struggling, in need? I suppose I mean in a proactive face-to-face way. For example, giving to charity shops, while absolutely necessary for those charities, is still a rather passive way to help and let's face it is a way of getting rid of stuff you don't need (which is hardly philanthropic) so I don't think it counts! While taking half an hour to call on (or phone) a lonely neighbour, helping out at a local luncheon club, delivering leaflets for a local cause or maybe walking a dog for someone temporarily incapacitated is giving of your most valuable asset.. time and takes you out of yourself for a little while.
So there is my thought for the day... not that you asked for it!
Goodness what a random post.
PS Welcome to Pauline Williams on the follower bar and Kathy on Bloglovin. Good to see you here x

Monday 13 March 2017

Good Morning Sunshine!!!

Doesn't it make you feel better? Coda thinks so too! (rubbish pic)
This weekend has been dry and mostly sunny.With great help from H. who is EGD's boyfriend, David has taken down an old damson tree that was quite rotten. This tree had grown between three outbuildings and supported a tree house covered with ivy. As the house, tree and even the ivy was crumbling it had to go. Once this was dispatched (a BIG job) and onto a big bonfire, apart from the good wood for logs, the rest of the family arrived and did a great job cleaning up. There was a huge amount of well rotted leaf mould which was a bonus.
Here they are. Note that the girls are cleaning and the boys are watching!
That was Sunday, when all the family and the occasional friend (yesterday it was EGD's friends and their baby)come for a roast dinner. On Friday David and H. attacked the wisteria on the front and side of the house. It was good to have the help of a young man who is happy to scramble up a high ladder. David is extremely good at pruning wisteria for flower and was able to teach H. who is a tree surgeon this skill. Here is ( a very small part) of the pruned  plant.
And the bonus bye-product of the pruning... weaving material!
Some of these are 20 foot long and I hope to make a couple of log baskets with them, with fresh cut willow as stakers.
I looked in the pond last week and saw a large lump of frogspawn. Hurrah! I looked again on Saturday and there was none and the water was disturbed. Our neighbours saw a heron on the chicken hut that that overlooks the pond. Would a heron eat frogspawn?
Yesterday I looked again and there were at least eight frogs having an orgy, so I will find some sort of netting to put over the pond and we will hope to keep any frogspawn.
I have been tidying up my followers list as there were several bloggers that seem to have disappeared. I'm quite sad at the loss of some of these bloggers who have just fallen out of blogland. I often wonder what happened to them, don't you?  I've asked my family to close my blog with a quick explanation if something awful happens to me. Is this morbid?!
Well I started off all happy about the sunshine and have ended up on a negative! So to move this on, the damson is in bud and with all the bulbs and catkins in flower there seems to be plenty of forage for the bees which have flying with gusto over the last few days.

Saturday 4 March 2017

Skills courses and Frogspawn anyone?

Hello  All!!
Well! A whole month since I posted! So many reasons I won't bore you with, suffice to say I'm back to the blog and will try to be more frequent from now on. I realise that I use this blog as a sort of diary and when I  don't keep it up to date I have nothing to refer to when trying to remember something. (gets more difficult with age)
I have some new followers but am struggling to work out who, so will say Welcome and hopefully name you in my next post.
So far the winter has been really mild. The winter door curtains have hardly been used and we have seen the bees flying several times. I'm pleased to say that we have seen live bees from every hive so far.
When my friend J. from Cornwall came to stay a couple of weeks ago we cleared out the pond that is in the orchard/chicken run (while the chickens were ensconced in the barn. It looks awful and bare with absolutely no sign of life. Several people i know have frogspawn, but not us. I do hope we haven't messed with it too much and killed the frogs. Anybody else waiting for frogspawn?
I have invested in "The Complete Tightwad Gazette" by Amy Dacyczyn. Oh my goodness, she makes me look like a spendthrift! You have to convert it from American to English as with Carla Emery but there are some good ideas and you are never too old to learn.
My Eldest granddaughter and I organised a basketmaking course at the village hall  for a few friends last saturday. We had such fun and each of us made a basket. We are now off to cut some fresh willow from the paddock and hope to make baskets for fruit and vegetable gathering this summer. My old baskets (which I always use) have finally broken and it will be good to replace them for free. EGD thinks she might make some small low sided ones to put the preserves in that she makes and gives as presents each Christmas. Great idea.
The success of the "course/get together" has inspired us to host a few more, so we have invited a friend to teach us felt-making and I have been asked to do a make-do-and-mend day and thought we could also do a "things to make with and old tea shirt "day. Goodness knows when we will find time!
Talking of make-do-and-mend, has anyone been on the site of that name on facebook?(with attached blog) It's a great site with ideas from all over, with a big emphasis on the environment and repurposing. It is good to see so many young people on the site. Us old fogeys can't keep going for ever and the need to consume less is now critical.
Earlier this year I was quite unwell and had another period of nauseusness. I found my usual sweet drinks weren't helping so cut out the sugar (I usually take two heaped spoonfuls in each cup!) Once I felt well again I decided to stop taking sugar in my tea altogether, reckoning that as I drink approx. 10 mugs of tea a day I was consuming over half a pound of sugar daily, which is pure junk really.  Six weeks on and I still hate this sugarless tea! I really can't get used to it and found giving up smoking easier!, but will persevere as I am determined not to revert.
While not exactly bringing us up to date at least I've broken my duck and got back to blogging. So I'll sign off and wish you all ...
love from Gill

Monday 30 January 2017

The bacon cure recipe and prisoner hens

  Hello All
Firstly here is the recipe and method for the home cured bacon (courtesy of Cro)
Mix 2 parts sea salt to 1 part brown sugar some crushed black pepper and a good pinch of dried herbs.
 Day 1. Rub this mix all over your pork joint and place in a shallow dish (reserving a little of the mixture).
Day 2 Pour off any liquid and rub in remaining mixture.
 Day 4 wash off the salt mix , pat dry and wrap in muslin. hang in a cool dry place for 2 weeks.
I left the rind on for the curing  and removed it for cooking as it was very hard.
I used a piece of belly pork from half a pig I bought from a friend, but see no reason why you couldn't buy  a piece from the butcher to have a go.  Good Luck if you give it a go.

The chickens are still "cooped up"( I suppose that is the origin of the expression) I have put duct tape over the words"Free Range" on the sign by the road, but am sure that few people understand why. The news reports by Defra, the newspapers and the TV have been dire and sketchy at best.. How many people know (or care)  that we have had more cases of Bird Flu in the country? I wonder what we are suppose to do after 28th February, the date set in the new year for keeping the birds in. We have had four more cases since then but no notification of extending the deadline.
Anyway, I thought I would share the plight of my girls, and goodness knows they are better off than many. The goat house (which hasn't housed a goat since Annie died 4 years ago) is now given over to them. Three breeding doe rabbits now share the house, but we have had to cancel the piglets we ordered and the early cade lambs.
Here is the door to the house, The top is usually open, but the girls can easily jump out when it is. Our major concern is that the swallows arrive in April/May and use this entrance to come and go from the nests they build in the eaves here every year.
At the entrance is a tray, usually used to stand plant pots in, which has a sheet of carpet in the bottom and Jeyes Fluid diluted at the rate of 20 to 1 with water. The container and brush at the side is for cleaning boots etc if necessary.
I'm really chuffed that Jeyes Fluid is approved for footbaths etc for Avian Flu as it is so easily available. I bought 1 litre for £5.45 at Lidl last week.. bargain!
I have turned the small hutches, usually used for young chicks or kits into laying places, stapling black material over the netting an gaps between hutches to encourage the hens to lay in clean bedding.

 Towards the rear of this picture is an large hutch. I am using this as a vermin-proof place to keep some stores. ...Apples, marrows, pumpkins and onions in particular. I'm a little worried that the number of chickens will be increasing the temperature around the veg and they will not keep as well, so I have started to use this particular store. As you can see they birds are eating some soft apples here
 Here we look towards the door. You will notice that we have perspect roofing, which means that we are getting eggs now ( with some artificial light from 5 until 7) While I am complaining on behalf of the birds, the set up actually helps me as there is both electricity and water in the goathouse, meaning I can do all I need to do for their comfort in one place.
      The "bushes " you can see against the wall is a bamboo that I have tied up there to dry and was going to process into canes before the Avian Flu overtook us.                                                                                                                                                  
If this post has done nothing else it will have heartened those who thought THEIR smallholdings were untidy !!!
Back soon

Wednesday 25 January 2017

Hurrah for Harry Potter

Hello All.
Just starting to feel better after back-to-back lurgys!  While I'm getting a new post together with the bacon solution recipe and some bird flu update, here is a post I wrote before Christmas and never posted
There is an awful lot of literary snobbery about the Harry Potter books. I understand that they are not "classics" nor "worthy" and I know of many people who say they are trash and they wouldn't deign to read them.(mmm how can they know they are trash?)
Some years ago my grandson J. aged 7 (who has Asperger's) who could read exceptionally well (ever since a fantastic teacher found a way to make him sit still long enough to teach him the rudiments of reading  - thank you Mr Collinson!) would often stay with me overnight. I would read to him each night even though he read as well as I, as it calmed him and was part of a lifetime ritual. He liked books on Mythology, space stories and dinosaurs  and some other random stuff. I was always on the look out for something to read to him, or for him to read.
One particular weekend I was watching the news and saw a line of boys and girls queuing outside a book shop. They were waiting to buy book two of a series and were SO excited they were jumping up and down. What really caught my eye were the numbers of boys in the queue and I wondered what phenomenon had captured their interest. It was Harry Potter Book two (I hadn't heard of book one) Sometime in the next week we went to the library and borrowed Book One. I read the first chapter to J. and he then took the book off me and began reading. He read for hours and hours until he had finished it. Needless to say I set off to buy Book Two which he took away and read likewise. These book he read and re-read for the next year, while he waited for the next book to be released. One night when he was staying with me I said. "If you like Harry Potter I think you will like The Hobbit. I read the first chapter and he again took the book off me and read through the night until he had finished it. The next time he stayed I gave him the Lord of the Rings (my mother's favourite books, which we replaced each year for her as she wore each copy out!) He was in heaven, but had to be restricted to his reading times with these books obviously. He would walk around with one of the books under his arm (he still does this age 24) so that he could lose himself (and not have to interact with people either!).
I'm not sure that I would have thought to introduce J. to Tolkien so early without Harry Potter prompting me to do so.
I know of so many parents who say the HP has awakened an interest in reading in their child which can only be for the good and we all have to start somewhere,
So Hurrah for Harry Potter!
Back soon

Sunday 8 January 2017

Home cured bacon - The Results!

Hello All
This morning EGD and myself were getting ready to brave the grey damp weather to watch YGD compete in a (not very) local show. She was competing in the Dressage and Jumping. We thought we ought to have a little something inside us to keep us warm and decided on egg on toast until we remembered THE BACON. Only a day early, so off I trotted to the outhouse to bring the joint in.
We discussed how to have it and decided that simple was best so we had it fried and in a sandwich.
Here is the joint  after a few slices cut off

And here is is fried and crispy
Oh MY! it was Delicious!!!!!
Thank you Cro for the recipe and the method, we will be doing it again most definitely.
Back soon

Tuesday 3 January 2017

Making Bacon and Jaffa cakes

As mentioned in my last post. .......
Here is the half pig I bought from a friend. She had it slaughtered and would usually have it butchered too, but as the abattoir was busy with Christmas they could only cut the pigs into six.
 Here is my half, cut into three.

There was quite a lot of fat on it, but we are okay with that as it adds to the flavour and makes it more succulent and it looks like pork used to look. It didn't take me too long to cut it into joints and chops, which I froze apart from a good size leg joint that I chilled to roast on Christmas day and a piece of belly pork that I determined I would home cure for bacon  in the manner that Cro a blogger in France does.
Below is a (not very good) picture of the belly joint in the salt  I left the rind on for the process, though Cro tells me it is likely to be tough when finished, so I will remove it when curing is finished.This is coarse sea salt mixed with brown sugar ( I used demerara) black pepper and herbs. The second day I poured off the liquid that had gathered and put more (reserved) salt mix over the joint. I turned this again over the next four days, when I washed off the salt, patted the joint dry and hung in an airy outbuilding wrapped in muslin. It will be ready on the 9th January. I believe at this stage you could smoke it if you had the facility, but I shall try it unsmoked first. 
Just had a peek and it is looking and smelling good so far. Can't wait!!!

                                                                                                                                                                      And so to Jaffa Cakes....
The Jelly -- A few hours before (or the day before) you are due to bake, make a jelly (from jelly cubes) with 150mls hot water instead of 400ml and pour into a shallow tray and refrigerate
The cake bases -- Make a fatless sponge with 1oz sugar, 1 oz flour and 1 egg (beat egg and sugar together until light and fluffy and carefully stir in the flour) Grease  shallow patty tin tray. Put a large spoonful of mix into each patty tin and cook until very lightly browned and firm. This mix made 4 dozen little cake bases.
The chocolate -- melt chocolate (we used a mix of dark and milk choc) in a bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. When melted, take off heat and allow to cool.
While the chocolate is cooling cut rounds of jelly to rest in top of the sponge. We used the top of a salt pot (this also serves well to cut holes in doughnut dough!)

When the chocolate has cooled sufficiently (you will need to test this on any rubbish sponges you might have) so that the jelly does not melt immediately, spoon over each cake and smooth over.. Voila!!!

Look pretty good don't they? They cost very little too.
Hope these work for you, they are certainly easier and more like the real thing than those made on the GBBO.
Back soon