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Keeping Warm With A Brew Whilst Rambling!

Monday, 27 March 2017

Such A Weekend!


Saturday was a day and a half here, although I did not get a lot done at all! My boys, because they were placed in a couple of categories at the Area Eisteddfod in Tregaron, were at the County event which luckily for us was held at the pavilion in Bont where the boys go to school. We were there all day - yes all day!

Harry came away with third place for his recital and the Ymgom, which was a group dramatic piece performed by my two and two of their friends, brought us third place. We were so proud and our headmistress was chuffed to bits for all their effort and the results.

I do wish on the other hand that we could all have been at home as the weather was GLORIOUS! but never mind. We don't go onto the next one as we were not placed first in any of the programme.

I managed to pop back home a couple of times to see how Jon was getting on with the pizza oven - obviously still a work in progress! 

He'd planned to have a fire Friday and maybe Saturday but we had a very late Airbnb booking on Friday afternoon so the fire had to be put on hold. He also managed to finish the little house from where we can now sell our eggs - I LOVE it! 

Due to the lateness of getting back from the eisteddfod I was unable to get my food shopping done so we had a cheeky Chinese takeaway for tea.

Sunday morning brought Mothering Sunday and I was greeted with a cup of coffee and I received these lovely cards...

and this lovely new spade and fork. Eeeek!

I quickly made a lemon cake, packed it up with some berries and got everybody fed breakfast then we had to wait until the Airbnb guests left, which was a little later than we had hoped, before we headed off to visit Dawn and Martin over at Doing It For Ourselves In Wales. We had all been looking forward to the visit and it was a lovely drive as, again, the weather was glorious; when we arrived we were met by the lovely Sol and Tess. 

We had a great time; the boys had been excited about seeing the Alpacas so we collected some branches for the goats as the same time as walking up the land to find them. 

We had hoped the goat kids might have arrived by the time we did but not yet, though not long by all accounts! We had a walk around the Poly Tunnels so see what Dawn has going on then we had a most delicious homemade soup of Wild Garlic with Dawn's flatbread and home raised ham for lunch. Mmmmm!

Just before we left I took a look at Dawn's cabin and afterwards told Jon he should be grateful I don't have a stash like that! There was time for a photo with the dogs before we left to get home for Alfie's piano lesson. We had a really lovely time, and no need for wellies!

When home we were very chuffed to find that the four boxes of eggs we left had all been taken and paid for. Yay! Just in time to pay for the next sack of laying pellets - I love it when a plan comes together as we had no outlay to make the house with the wood coming from the sawmill and the roof slates we acquired for another project! I had just about 20 minutes to do a bit of work on the new veg patch we have created alongside the fruit area before taking Alfie and I used my new fork! I have sown 20 kernels because I have decided to use the patch for that and carrots as we have more room here than the patch I used last year for the corn let alone the carrots.

After tea Jon and I settled down and later on really enjoyed the beginning of the new series of Line Of Duty - just fab!

Right, I have a big basket of clothes to fold up so I'm going to get a brew and do that. I go to Slimming World this evening and I hope, this week to have good news on my progress.

Bye for now.


Friday, 24 March 2017

Poly House Progress


This post is really a record for me to look back on to see where I was up to with seed sowing.

This year I am growing a few flowers. These are two types of  sweet pea, one called Bijou which needs no support and grows in a bush type way to go at the front door and the other to be planted our around the climbing peas.

Here are French marigolds to go around the climbing beans, if I can fit them between those and the squash! (I sowed a few extra of these today.)

I've also decided to give sunflowers another go as failed last year.

This is my first stab at spinach. I had it covered with fleece but have taken that off now as the Poly House is warming up a bit. Had the door open for a while yesterday because there was a lot of condensation.

Seeds for cress came in a multi pack so thought I'd give it a go.

 Here are radishes, again some extra seeds were put in yesterday; I just thought this box was useful so decided on radishes!

I have three trays of beetroot and that is doing very nicely.

These are Golden Acre cabbages and hope to plant these out next month and they can hopefully be harvested from July onwards. They are described as being perfect to grow where you don't have too much space which is great for the bed I have designated for them along with broccoli.

Next up are one of the tomato varieties I will be growing and they are called Cuor di Bue -a kind of plum tomato.

I have also started off some Italian beef toms and cherry ones; I need to check roughly how many plants I will have to make sure I've enough space! I figure I can put a few plants at the door with the eggs if I end up with some extra.

I'm hoping to grow two types of aubergine and these are Black Beauty and Long Purple; just starting to come on.

 These are my climbing peas which are showing very nicely.

I have another drainpipe of them which were started a bit later on. Luckily we have a couple more spare drainpipes that I can use for the climbing beans, too, when it is time to sow them - soon I think.

On Wednesday evening we made the best of the dry weather and cut off the tops of some of the trees that were hanging over the road at the side of the house; these will be added to the fire pile which is just beyond this pile of branches!

Yesterday I put 20 kernels in pots as I've decided to grow sweetcorn in the new patch we are mid-way through creating. There is a lot more space there than the bed I used last year, plus corn is something we all eat; we had some good results last year but look forward to an increase in the harvest this year. It's all about growing as much of the things we all eat as possible. I've now decided I'll grow carrots alongside the sweetcorn as the soil in the new patch is really looking good for carrots, not clay-ish and more free draining as they say I think!

Ok, that is it or I'm in danger of rambling.

Hope everybody has a lovely weekend and I will have a post about a family visit we are very much looking forward to making on Sunday. We also hope to get some jobs done in the garden, oh and Happy Mothers' Day!

Bye for now.


Sunday, 19 March 2017

Spud Campaign 2017 Begins, And Other Stuff.

Good afternoon!

My last post was Monday so I have a bit to catch up on; you might want to get a brew before you sit down to this one!

On Tuesday I had a day in the house baking bread loaves and rolls, cheese scones and cherry oat bake along with a bit of tidying up and bed changing.

In the Poly House on Wednesday it was 26 degrees so I enjoyed sowing some seeds; Jon loves gherkins and I want them to pickle and also put a few more beetroot seeds in to fill some gaps where some had not taken. I also gave the house a bit of a sweep out and tidy up, don't like working in a mess, and outside I beefed up the compost in the sink ready for some more sowing next week. I picked up some more stones in the fruit patch, this is a continual job, and when Jon came home he helped me plant a couple of the raspberry canes and dug the holes ready for me to put in the rest of them. Away from the garden I got round to vacuuming the last remnants of straw from my car and found time to take a walk. (News of my slimming efforts shortly.)

Thursday I sowed carrot seeds in a big pot, hoed the small stones around the onions and raked the duck enclosure to tidy that up a little. 

Now Friday was a heck of a day!

It was the Area Eisteddfod at Tregaron and we had to leave in time to pop to school then be at the venue for just before 9am; I have learned so took a packed lunch for me as well as the boys.

For about two seconds I always think I can be doing something more with my time when I set off for these events, but then I always love them. The boys took part in individual categories for Welsh Learners but also were in the choir made up of both Welsh speakers and learners. My boys both won places, Harry first for his individual recital and Alfie second for his. #proudaspunch!

They were both entered in an Ymgom which is a dramatic acting piece along with two other Welsh learners and were placed first. The choir I think came second and then there were places for some of the girls singing a duet, oh too many to remember. It was just a fantastic day and now some of the children, including Harry I think, will go on to the next eisteddfod which is next weekend, I think. At the end of everything there was a vote of thanks and the Welsh national anthem was sung. I couldn't help thinking that if you asked most English children to stand up and sing the national anthem you would get a "what?" response. The whole event does SO much for the confidence of the children and they deserve all the success for the hard work every one of them puts into the practice in and after school. Yes, I am beaming!

Saturday we didn't do too much in the morning as the weather was pants, then we headed to Aber for the food shop, Alfie to Stage School and new school shoes for Harry. Jon and Harry did pop into Craft and came out with a couple of goodies. I've been looking for a retro magazine rack for ages and hey presto look here, along with a chrome chicken for collecting the eggs.

A few house chores in the afternoon, wood burner lit and that was about it.

This morning we thought the rain may come again so we headed out straight after breakfast to make the most of the dry weather. It was great; a little blustery but not too cold. I planted the first of my seed potatoes - Arran Pilot spuds which are first earlies as well as some main crop called Salad Blues kindly sent to me by Tracy at Our Smallholding Adventure - pop over and take a look at all they are getting up to if you haven't already.

Alfie helped me quite a lot and he put the spuds in the ground once I had forked over the tyres and he had taken out some more stones.

We planted four spuds in each of two tyres; the tyres are just over three foot across and at least a food deep, but as the soil goes right to the edges I figure that four seed potatoes would have the room to grow. (Crossing my fingers as you read this.)

The Salad Blues are in growing bags, one in each, and Alfie helped by putting a sprinkling of blood and bone meal into the bags

 and putting the potatoes in each of the bags followed by a marker.

The spud campaign will continue in a week or so. I am also waiting for sweet potato slips to be delivered, although we all know they are not strictly a potato, and they will be put in growing bags, too.

Whilst Alfie was helping me Harry was with Jon working, again, the fruit patch. More roots of heaven only knows what taken out and dug over to remove more stones!

Our little fruit patch is coming on a treat; we have three trees in, including the couple we bought the other weekend, along with the raspberry canes and we are looking for another couple of trees and have the other soft fruits to go in which I hope to get in this coming week, providing my back holds out.

However, the spot to the left of the stony area you can see just on the right is now going to be the site of a raised bed. We thought of a greenhouse if we could come across one for free or very cheap, then Jon was going to build me an aluminium-framed one but we decided we could do with just a little bit more ground space instead. The soil, with a bit of work and additional compost, should be ok for something robust like sweede so, yet again, I am having to adapt my plans! All to the good, though.

Jon and Alfie had noticed the polythene had come away on a part of the roof of the Poly House so Jon and Harry fixed that.

The poultry palaces were given new name plates today!

I forgot to mention that Jon has built the base of the cold frame to go over the strawberry patch to hopefully improve yield for this year; just got the polythene to put on now.

Right, I think that really is everything, for now. 

Jon and I constantly sit and look out of the top kitchen feeling very proud of how the garden is now looking, after all the hard work it has taken. We are very lucky we have access to the wood from the sawmill as it would have taken a lot longer if we'd needed to buy more of the materials.

Going to have a brew now and plan my new veg patch. Eeeek!

Bye for now.


Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Wheely Good Fun!

The boys were on an Inset day yesterday. On days like these (love Matt Monroe!) I am very pleased I do not work as I know it can be very difficult for some families to sort child care, although we do get quite a lot of notice.

I got the boys to see how I clean out the chickens ready for when they have the job themselves; still not convinced it will go as planned but we shall see...

I told them we should go out for a walk at least as the weather was not cold and was dry apart from the odd spot or two. I took a few photos up to and back from the cycle path.

They opted to go on electric scooter and bike.

Last one is a bit blurry as had to get them together when moving! I am suffering a bit today as it is the first time in a week or so that I have walked a couple of miles!

Plus I can now, very excitedly, share with you the photos of the finished chicken and duck enclosures! We were going to move the fencing and have one gate but have now opted for keeping the original chicken gate and have created a second near the pond; you never know, we may need to separate some of the birds some time and this would make it easy.

The log that straddles the pond has been cut a little short to allow more room around the back of the house. We have cut back the foliage which has made the area so much lighter and I just think it is such a pretty part of the garden now. I love Jon so very much for being able to create all of this for us, and for other reasons of course!

We may be getting the ducks this weekend but I have to contact the supplier today. Eeeek!!!

Well, had better crack on as I want to get the morning jobs done so I can catch up with Call The Midwife at lunchtime.

Bye for now.


Sunday, 12 March 2017

Where To Start?

This post is one of those catch up ones where things are not necessarily in the right order but at least you know what has been happening! Yes, yet again, I am all to cock!

On Saturday we bought all of these - the apple and pear tree came from Tesco, £6 for two, 

and the raspberry canes (thank you Dawn!) and two blackcurrants were £1 each, from Poundland. If they don't work out it will be no great loss.

This morning we have measured out the space for the fruit patch but also decided we can fit in a second, smaller greenhouse if we come across one.

Jon cut into disks another tree which he took down this morning to log and add to the woodpile next week. He has just begun work on the extension to the chicken enclosure to accommodate the ducks, with the boys helping by moving the big pile of branches to the right of the picture for burning at the bottom of the garden.

Here you can see the area before we cut one of the very last bamboo bushes down and trimmed back the pond...

and how it looks now; so much more space and so much lighter, too.

Jon is starting with a couple of the fence posts as the perimeter of the enclosure will begin at the left of the duck house, then come down towards where he is in the picture. He will have to move the gate of the chicken enclosure, too, of course. There is now a ramp into the pond and Jon is part way through converting Jake's old Dog House into another poultry palace for the next incoming flock, including putting a door at the back so we can reach any eggs; I'll post a picture when all is done. Does anybody have an suggestions for the best kind of ducks to have? We have a poultry supplier we are going to see at Bronant maybe next weekend.

Talking of eggs I've put our our first eggs out to sell! It is rather wet today so I have had to protect the basket a little; this is a bit of an experiment to see if they are visible as people drive past - Jon says he will build me a box on a stand, when he gets round to it but knowing him it won't be long!

Whilst putting the eggs out Alfie and I found this little snake - only about 6 inches long.

Also this morning I have sown seeds for radishes and basil in the Poly House.

Ok I think I am now caught up. We have all just had a snack to keep us going and I have prepared the veg until we have roast chicken this afternoon before Alfie goes to piano - two weeks on Thursday until his pre-test so lots of practise happening.

Bye for now and enjoy the rest of your weekend.