Tuesday 24 December 2019

Tuesday 10 December 2019

Winter stores

Hello All
 I took few pictures this summer but here is one I just had to take. This is one Turks Turban squash plant. It rambled and rambled over the peas and along the broad beans and I eventually had to stop it before it pulled the beans down.  There were twelve fruits on this plant all of which grew bigger than shown on this pic. The thing about Turks Turban is that is a winter squash and therefore a keeper.
Our potato crop wasn't good as usual this year, this is most of it, Sarpo Mira ,getting ready to dry before being put into paper sacks .

Once the potatoes are dry and the squash ripened they go into my vermin proof containers (old broody and rabbit hutches) in the barn. Here they join with the brilliant crop of onions ( Red Baron, Ailsa Craig, Centurion and Marco) shallots and apples.

Here is a picture I hope w ill make you smile. Baloo found the newly potted on catmint!!

And lastly, its that time of year again. David is back on Santa duty. He was too unwell to step up to the task last year, but this year he much better, though still on restricted duties. Here he is on "Birdswood", on the Cromford Canal at Cromford last Saturday and will be again this Saturday. He has done a stint at Chesterfield Fire Station and he then just has a private party (friends) and he can hang up his reds for another year,

All for now, two posts in one week,Whatever next  ?
Love Gill x

Saturday 7 December 2019

Warning! Wedding Pictures

Hello All
This is a little picture heavy, but I thought some of you might like to see a picture or two of the surprise wedding of our eldest granddaughter at our family festival.
We now have HUNDREDS of pictures to choose from from those taken "officially" (until the wedding was announced he got rather funny looks as he was dressed in a suit like a photographer and everyone else was in shorts and tea shirts) to all those taken on phones by the guests. Consequently I had far too many to choose from.
I will sort of lead you through the day..
Here she is with my younger granddaughter on the far right, my goddaughter standing behind her and her  two dear friends. There was also a little bridesmaid age 2 and a bit , picture below .The bridesmaids dresses were just summer dresses that she bought from Top Shop(I think) we cut them down from long dresses which they thought were too restrictive and made a dress for the littly and bows for her two dogs, from the off-cuts

Here is their wedding cake. She and I made the cakes and my eldest daughters mother in law iced it to a design by our younger granddaughter. As you gather we are all Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter fans and She and her husband have a yellow lab male and a bernese female

Here they are playing a modern version of Mr and Mrs. with questions set by the bridesmaids

As it was a nice day the youngsters made for the river once the "ceremony" was over

Several tug of wars

On to the 40 -a- side rounders

after the buffet tea (which stops open all night, being regularly replenished) It was time for the Country Dancing

As you see it is now going into the evening and by now the accordionist was rather "mellow"

So after a top up it is time for  Dancing and more drinking .The bar is in the goathouse

And then one last surprise .Ladies and Gentlemen. For one night only .. I give you "Nell and the Tena Ladies"!!!!
Oh my, how did I get talked into this?! on the right is my eldest daughter, next to her is her daughter, next to her is my youngest daughter (brides mother) and on the far left is moi

I hear you crying !ENOUGH!
I've now got that out of my system and promise to show you no more. Thank you for bearing with me.
All for now

Thursday 21 November 2019

(nearly) Ready for Winter

Hello Hello Hello Remember me?!!
  Winter draws on (yes Sue!) and I am still processing stuff for the winter months. As usual I'm laying in for a siege and any disasters that might befall deepest Derbyshire and the world beyond.

Here is a short run down on where I am right now, produce-wise........
  The last of the potatoes, dug up a little early because with the persistent rain they were in danger of rotting in the ground, are now dried and in brown paper bags. These bags will go into the old empty rabbit hutches alongside the apples, winter squash, and onions. It's been a good year for onions and squash, a rubbish year for apples and a so-so year for potatoes These hutches are in the barn, where it is cold but not too icy and are rat proof. Each day I gloat over this booty like a miser, I'm such a sad old prepper! Almost daily either David or I will say. "If you've got a potato you've got a meal"  which, you can't really argue with (yes I know you could die of boredom before the hunger got you!)
  I have been cracking hazelnuts and putting them into jars ready for cooking or snacking. While the nuts looked a good size the kernals are really quite small, so the yield has been rather disappointing from two large feed bags of nuts. However, they are a good source of protein throughout the winter., so worth doing, a job for while watching the TV. The jars of nuts are now "under the stairs" with the jars of dried beans, jams, pickles and honey. I have chopped some up and preserved them in honey again this year. I chopped the nuts for this rather than keep them whole and they are rather good in biscuits or poured over yoghurt.

  I think I have saved enough vegetable seed for next year and should need to buy very little, which is a bonus as seeds are not cheap. I'm going to try quinoa and luffa again next year as they were a dismal failure this year. I will have to buy the seed for this.
  There is little in the garden now, just perpetual spinach, black and curly kale, red cabbage, Brussels and beetroot. I managed to get some spring cabbage plants in a couple of weeks ago, but haven't managed to get the garlic in which I normally plant on bonfire night.

The bees haven't had the best year. We have lost three of the smaller hives to wasps, of the remaining hives we only took honey from three, as the others just had enough for themselves. in total we took 110 pounds of honey. I salvaged quite a bit of wax from cappings and broken frames and have made a passable lip balm to give as presents and also some beeswax wraps with fabric from my stash.

The chickens have now given up laying, probably until new year, which means no eggs to sell, the bees are funding the chicken food at the moment from honey sales.

 As the nights draw in I can spend more time indoors and as I have nearly finished  processing I have got the sewing machine out. Last weekend I managed to finish the huge mending pile so I can start on the Christmas presents I have planned. I am including as much plastic-free and sustainable stuff as possible. This has been a mantra of mine for many years (along with climate change) and it is great not to be seen as a weirdo any longer!
Enough for now methinks.
I will be back
Thanks for hanging around
love Gillx

Tuesday 3 September 2019

The Family Festival and a surprise wedding

Hello All
Our Festival is now over. The day was sunny and warm and nearly 300 people were collected in our field. We had decided to "go for gold" this year as David was with us for another Festival, which we weren't sure he would be around for only a few months ago.
 Our eldest Granddaughter had become engaged to a lovely young man  (H) who we all really like.
EGD was born here and she met her fiance here four years ago at the Festival when he attended with our Godson, For two years they lived here while they saved for a deposit on a house, which they are now ell settled into So this place and the Festival are important to this young couple. We looked into the possibility of them being married here, but this wasn't possible because a) we had to agree to offer the venue for other weddings and b) it would cost us £3,000 for the pleasure. So A non-starter there. EGD and H, who wanted to surprise  the guests hatched a plan to compromise and snook off to get married at the local register office on  the Friday morning before the Festival with just two friends as witnesses and surprised everyone with a blessing and wedding party on the Saturday.
For a couple of months before there was much activity, buying /making dresses and outfits for the bride and groom and their groomsmen and bridesmaids. We, as (very) close family, were in on the secret so decided we would wear our usual shorts casual clothes as that we usually wear, firstly so that no one suspected (surprisingly, I have never worn a fascinator to the festival!) and secondly so that the guests didn't feel underdressed when they found out!
What a glorious day it turned out to be !
After most people had gathered and waiting for the children's races to start. EGD's mum, my younger daughter, called everybody up the the main tent, asking them to bring their chairs. All gathered around a semi-circle of straw bales and she announced that EGD  and H were married and this was to be their wedding day!!
It will take too long to tell what happened during the day, but there were blessings and speeches and tears followed by usual Festival stuff like tug of war and thirty-a-side rounders and country dancing until the evening when my nephew and his friend sing for us and we dance until midnight.
An extra surprise half way through the evening was both my daughters, my youngest granddaughter and myself performing an ABBA tribute, complete with shiny jump suits with flares and frills. I still don't know how they talked me into it. EGD and H were SO surprised and delighted, especially as we had changed the word of "Our last Summer" to fit their experience.
I will try to load some pictures
On a much sadder note, we have lost two long time friends since I last posted, B we have known since the 60s (David was his best man) and until his illness we would see them weekly. D,  a very dear friends, I met when her daughter and mine met at a dance class when they were 5,years old 47  years ago.
Our circle is shrinking, I know it comes with age, but it still knocks you back doesn't it?
Change pace Gill you are getting maudlin..
The Gardens have been extremely productive this year, with only the peas being a disappointment. So I am in the middle of processing or selling mountains of produce, which is very satisfying.
David and I flew to Jersey last month  to visit our younger daughter who now works there. What a beautiful place it is!  We are going again at the beginning of October for a long weekend and then we wont see her until Christmas. If you think that isn't long, it is a lifetime to me who used to see her every day!
I am attempting to get exhibits ready for the Civic Society's Heritage Exhibition, which we hold every year as part of the Derwent  Valley Mills World Heritage Site Discovery Days Festival. I'm not getting on too well with it as I seem to be overwhelmed with gardening and when I finally sit down at night that is all I really want to do.. sit!.
So folks, Hope you are all well

Thursday 27 June 2019

Back to my blog

Hello All.
I promise not to apologise for being a tardy blogger as I seem to do that every time!
I see that it is THREE MONTHS since I wrote anything and I'm afraid I haven't been reading other blogs either. I think I miss reading blogs more than writing them.
Sooo I hope you are all okay out there in blogland. We are very well here, with David getting over some of the health issues that have plagued him for the past year. He has had many more visits to the Derby Royal (and many more to come no doubt) with some positive outcomes . So On On..
Less fortunate has been our dear rescue dog Sammie who had to be helped to suffer no more by the vet six weeks ago Sammie was rescued by our youngest daughter but came to us for doggie day care and frolics with his doggie cousins at the weekends. Youngest daughter took up a new job in Jersey in January and Sammie came to live with us. Sammie was initially fostered by YD but his problems were such that he would have been a difficult dog for adoption so he stayed with her. That was 6 years ago when he was ten. Sammie is the smaller black lab on my header. The larger Lab Jed died two years ago . I guess it is time I updated that header!
More unexpected was to find Percy the parrot dead in his cage a couple of weeks ago. Percy was approximately 35 years old, we are not too sure as we didn't have him from a baby. It seems strange not to have him in my snug, ringing his bell loudly at a particularly important part of a programme, answering the phone with an Halooo and telling David I had burnt something by doing his fire alarm noise for several hours after the incident!.He had quite a sense of humour too. If a strange dog came into the room  he would say in a sexy voice " Hello. come on come come on" Whereupon the sucker of a dog would approach the cage to have his nose nipped  by Percy if he wasn't quick enough!
We are on countdown to our big family party on the 13th July. We are going for gold this year, to celebrate David still being with us and our granddaughter's (Young quilter, Weave) engagement. We have planned some surprises too. As we expect around 250 to 300 people we are having a mass tidy up to make room for extra tents and cars. I hope to find out how to do a video of the place while it is tidy, (not its normal state!) If I do I will I will put it up for a "conducted tour". There will still be corners of shame, but its a smallholding for goodness sake, where pallets and baling twine and things that "might come in useful one day" abound.
So, I have broken my duck and am back to a spot of blogging at last. Off to read some of my faves now.
Thanks for sticking around

Sunday 31 March 2019

Keep Driving Womenfolk!!!

Hello All
Here I am again. Away even longer this time, but have had quite a few plates in the air again.
In February David went for a small routine op as a day case patient. His recovery from this procedure wasn't straight  forward and he finally came home a fortnight later.! After six days at home he was very unwell again so in he went again to the Royal Derby and has just come home after a three week stay this time. So he has been in hospital for five weeks out of the last six!
Thank goodness that my job as a field Social Worker required many hours of driving each day, often up and down the country assessing appropriate residential placements. While I never came to enjoy driving I was a competent  enough driver
I have been driving backward  and forwards to the Royal  Derby plus carrying out all the other tasks that must be done by car e.g fodder rooms, vet visits, chemists, shopping and so on   I can't imagine how difficult this would be without being a driver. 
 Several of my female friends no longer drive, the major  reason seems to be that they find  the roads so busy and dangerous and also that  they are losing their confidence as divers.
I could easily have given up driving years ago as I have never enjoyed driving and my husband is an awful passenger.
"You're coming up to some lights" or
"the cars in front are stopping". he shouts.
"Thank goodness you are with me, I wouldn't have seen that " I retort, or more usually,
"No shit Sherlock!"
Bad passengers, especially spouses, can make you question your driving ability, especially as, without exception amongst my contemporaries, men are considered the better driver in a couple.
It is easy to slip into being driven around by this paragon of good driving and to drive less and less until eventually you lose all confidence in your ability to drive at all or manage the appalling traffic on our roads. Don't do it womenfolk...Keep Driving !!!

Anybody who gardens or is a small holder knows that  this is a busy time of year so I have been attempting to get things started. We made the decision not to have poddy lambs this year, which was a good decision under the circumstances.

The vegetable gardens are just about ready for  planting but one of the chickens (called Mushroom)  keeps getting into the veggie plots from the paddock - just how much free range does this hen need?! Until I find out how she is getting  in I cant plant anything. Today I went around the fencing and filled in the tiniest holes. If I don't find her scratching up my newly dug beds tomorrow I can start planting . Hurrah!
The family have been round today and have weeded, cultivated, stacked firewood and moved heavy stuff around. They have put us back on track for the late spring jobs. Brilliant ! Love 'em !!

I went to Sainsburys yesterday and it was like walking into a funeral parlour...bloody Mother's Day again!! How I dislike this mawkish, commercially driven "event"
                                                                                                                                                                     Have you noticed how wonderful the stone fruit blossom is this year ?

Just read this post through and it seems somewhat disjointed, however I am determined to publish it tonight so here goes!
Love Gillx

Wednesday 6 February 2019

Joseph Wright and Leonardo da Vinci

Hi There!
A few weeks ago my grandson and I determined to visit Derby Museum and Art gallery. We haven't been for years and while he loves the mummies, fossils etc I wanted to see the restaged Joseph Wright exhibition. In  case you didn't know (and why should you?) Joseph Wright of Derby was born in Derby (no *** Sherlock!) and we Derbians are extremely proud of this.. While he painted many portraits of local dignitaries he is especially famous for his painting of various forms of light. Do look him up folks. Anyway, with just a week to go before J starts a new job that will mean he will have less time to indulge his frail elderly grandmother,(recognise me folks?) this week was our last chance to visit the metropolis. We then hear the fabulous news that a large collection of Leonardo da Vinci drawings from the Royal Collection are being divided up and lent to museums around the country for all to see and Derby was a chosen one, starting last weekend and running until May. How excited was I !? Apparently the number of visitors has been so high that they are having to give people times tickets to view. Derby Museum and Art gallery has free admission, which is commendable. I invested £5 in the donations box, worth considerably more I think. While waiting for our "slot " in the da Vinci exhibition, we had plenty of time to look at all the exhibits and collections.
The icing on the cake came as we left. There was a wall of random types and styles of drawings on a wall and one drawing caught my eye. "That really resonates with me J" I said "who is the artist? ". It was a drawing by Ronald Pope a local sculptor who taught me wood sculpture when I was at Art college in the early sixties! I was SO pleased to have seen this and be taken back to those days. I was able to tell J. that the relief carving in the kitchen and the sculpture in my bedroom were both done under Ron's tutelage. Incidentally, I bought some old wood carving chisels at a car boot sale last year , intending to attack some lovely chunks of wood in our woodpile! maybe this is a sign that I should do just that.
While I'm om the subject of painting, did anyone see the programme by Anthony Gormley about cave painting?. While it was really interesting and beautifully presented I thought that I had seen many of the examples of cave art over the years. However, I have never seen any Australian early art. When he lay on his back in a cave and we saw that fabulous drawing of a kangaroo my breath was taken away. It was the BEST line drawing of a kangaroo I have ever seen   - from any era.
So, I reckon you must be "Arted-Out" by now, but I've got it off my chest and will now get some ice and settle down for the evening with David and a serious scotch.
love Gillx

Thursday 31 January 2019

A Happy New Year to you All.
I do hope it will be peaceful and productive.

So David is still home and getting better all the time. I am sure hospital was making him worse!!
There he is at the far end of the table on Christmas day (large white napkin!) Just 16 this year for lunch and a few more in the evening

It was his 74th Birthday last week. A day we never thought he would see towards the end of last year, but he goes from strength to strength so  On On ....

Starting to clear the gardens for the start of the season. I have neglected them somewhat but I am sure that I will catch up. Early tomatoes and main crop onion seed to go in propagators next week. We still have some veggies in the garden. Russian, Curly and black kale, Savoy cabbage and brussels. There are still apples, potatoes and onions and dried beans in store and lots of stuff in the freezer. So we won't starve, tho' we would get a little bored if we couldn't get to the shops!
I spent very little time on the bees last year, taking no honey off them and not really keeping an eye on them . I often hear people saying that they don't want bees for honey and just want them around, not "interfering " with them just letting them be(!) It actually doesn't work that way. Bees need attention and careful handling when necessary. They are subject to diseases and pests just like any other living creature and "letting them be" can amount to neglect. That said that is more or less what I did last year. Last time the temperature rose into double figures the bees came out for a cleansing flight and I noticed that two showed no movement at all, so it looks like we have lost at least two to the winter. As soon as the weather warms up I will have a peek and I have promised them all that I will look after them better this year! Obviously we have no honey for sale, which has been a blow as the honey sales help us with the winter food for the chickens and we have let down people who rely on us for honey for medical reasons.. I have bees wax saved up from previous years and have been making bee wax wraps in my efforts to be plastic free. These have worked surprisingly well, so I will make more for myself and then some for presents.
 No snow here at the mo tho' it is VERY cold and foggy.

 Our youngest daughter is now working in Jersey so we have her old dog all the time now. he is 16 years old next month, a rescue dog who cannot be left alone as he becomes anxious and literally eats his legs!
He has arthritis in his feet, is virtually deaf and has cataracts in both eyes. This is not an attractive picture I am painting but he really is a lovely, kind, affectionate boy.
It was very cold and foggy this morning and I was worried about him when I took him for his constitutional around the paddock so....

Doggy Fashion God eh?!
All for now, I am looking forward to this year and have lots of plans and things I want to do. Nothing bucket list type you understand. I have no desire to swim with dolphins (poor things - who asked them?!)  or go to Disneyland (ugh!) but will be working through my fabric stash, making more time to socialise with friends instead of working all the time and decorating some of the tatty rooms for starters.
Enough for now.
 Now I am back on track I shall start to read the blogs I follow.
Thank you all for your best wishes for David.