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Spring Life In The Garden.

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Test, Rate or Review.

Just in case you are reading this post as a new visitor to my blog I would be really interested in working with anybody who would like products regarding baking, cooking or gardening tested, rated or reviewed.

I am not looking for any payment for this, just the chance to see some new items, have a play really and to promote them here.


Friday, 26 August 2016

Show Me, Show Me!

The village Horticultural show happens at the beginning of next month so I was very pleased when yesterday I received the entry form for the various classes. When we moved here last year it took place the week after we arrived, and was also on the same day as Harry's birthday, so I was unable to take part but this year I am all over it like a rash!

I love a local event such as a show like this. The sometimes quirky class titles make me laugh and some of those which are inculded this year are an arrangement of garden flowers in a gravy boat and an arrangement in a cup and saucer, as well at the usual ones.

I have decided to enter seven classes, five of which are preserves or baking, plus one craft one and maybe two more in the garden produce class if I have some decent toms and cucumbers by then. 

The naughty but nice one will be my chocolate brownie with extra chocolate!

This morning I have had a bit of a clear out in the Poly House. I decided to ditch the beef tomatoes, much to my disappointment, and one of my two courgettes plants which hasn't done much at all for a while so I'm ok about that one.

Now you see them, now you don't!

I think Jake was wondering where they had gone, too!

I decided to rake over the chicken enclosure this morning. We had put some greenery in there for them and now it has broken down a bit I thought I would remove it. However, as I was raking over the leaves and things the girls were keen to see what was underneath. I ended up leaving a number of piles for them to root and scratch through and we plan on getting them some new sand this weekend. 

That is about it for me today. We are heading off to replenish food supplies this evening as the boys come home tomorrow and we are hoping for a good evening so we can have a BBQ. I have a busy few days coming up because there are uniform and supplies to check over, replace, get ready etc for when they are back at school on September 5. Harry moves up a year and a class which is exciting and Alfie will be in the same class and quite pleased, I feel, that he won't have Harry on his shoulder all the time!

I have put some cucumbers and onions to soak ready to turn them into sweet fridge pickles tomorrow so looking forward to seeing how them turn out. My pickled eggs are ready to be tried today but fancy waiting to have them with fish and chips; maybe we'll treat outselves to a chippy tea after the shopping.

Ok, I've made veg and lentil curried soup for my lunch so I'm going to eat that then put the washing out before a few jobs that need doing inside.

By for now.


Thursday, 25 August 2016

Foody Fotos!

I don't generally do posts only about making and baking but this one is just that.

On Saturday when our guests were here we went for a mooch around Craft and I picked one of these up for 50p. Cool huh?

Image result for pastry lattice roller

I forgot to take a picture of mine but you get the idea. Anyhow, yesterday I was seeing what was ready to pick in the garden etc and looked at the apples, established they are cookers -yay! so picked a few amongst other bits and pieces.

I came round to thinking that the balckberries on the cycle path MUST be ready now so me and Jake headed out, basket in hand, to do some foraging.

Soooo chuffed I came home with this little lot.

As you can see they weighed in at a goodly amount and I only needed 200g for my planned recipe.

Then I set about making some pastry, I used the pastry from this recipe which is almost the same as the one of hers I use for my mince pies.

Here is the recipe itself but it is quite a simple process, just follow the pictures a bit!

Apples in the pan with sugar until soft then leave to cool.

Add the blackberries and coat in the syrup.

Put a good dollop on each recrangle leaving a bit of a gap all round.

Make your lattice tops, egg wash the edges, pop the tops on, seal and then wash again and sprinkly with sugar. Just had a thought, you could make these with cranberries at Christmas and they would be soooo good. Pop them in the oven until they are...

golden brown and tasty looking!

The recipe asks for puff pastry but I only buy puff at Christmas (have I just mentioned the C word again?) and prefer to make my own anyhow. Our apples, free food in the form of the blackberries and made by me. Get in!

For my lunch yesterday I used up some veg from tea the night before and made a bit of a grow your own soup. I added to it some of our tomatoes, one of our courgettes, the few beans I have managed to harvest just recently, an onion and some of our own dried oregano with a veg stock cube, seasoning, water and boiled; thickened with cornflour it was just yummy. Sorry, no after picture - too hungry!

Now, this isn't food but I just need to do it so I can get rid of the phot that has been hanging around in my To Use folder! A good while ago I shared a photo of some fabric I bought and said I had plans for it. 

Well, finally it has been put to its intended use. As you go down our cellar steps there is a ledge that we keep suitcases on. I have wanted to find something to cover it up and so this is what we have now after I'd nipped and tucked and did the best I could with both curtains.

It is a bit wonky at the bottom but I'm not too bothered - does the trick.

Last thing, this morning as part of my breakfast I had almost the last of the blackberries on toast. Nom nom!!!!

Right, after having spent the whole time talling about food it is time to get my lunch and watch the first TGBBO from last night. (I should point out that I have made efforts this week to start running for fitness and with all I have just posted I flippin' sound as if I need it!)

Bye for now.


Wednesday, 24 August 2016

In A Pickle - Assistance Please.


I am in need of help from the good people of blogland. I am in danger of having a glut of cucumbers, not that I am complaining as they have been an unqualified success out of everything I have attempted to grow so far.

However, I would like to pickle some of them, both for the fridge and to keep for a while, too,and also a nice chutney. I like sweet chutney mostly with tomato and I made a lovely one with courgettes that I hope to do again if I get enough courgettes! Any suggestions for either would be gratefully appreciated. 

Just heading out for a walk with Jake and to hopefully find some balckberries or raspberries along the cycle path. I have lattice pastries in mind so will let you know how I get on.

Bye for now.


Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Photo Call.

My last post mentioned the things that were growing, or not, at the moment so as I was out this morning I decided to take a few photos for illustration purposes.

So here are the swede, not many of them but hey ho.

Then I have quite a lot more turnips which seem to be doing well.

The beetroot is looking healthy.

I can see proper broccoli and I have started with my stinky rhubarb treatment!

I don't want to pick the apples too soon but they look great. When we moved here at the beginning of last September there were a few left on the tree so I think I should pick them pretty soon.

Here are the onions; super excited about those!

These are my bag-grown spuds. I have pulled them up this morning and....

this little lot weighed in at 1lb 12.8oz. Obviously the eggs didn't come via the same harvest process but glad to see there were four.

Finally here are my beef tomato plants. Firstly the leaves are curling slightly but I think this is just because they need extra water; I'm not feeding them tomato feed because as you can see there is neither fruit nor flowers at the moment. Hope they will come on soon...


and the sweetcorn. I am still stunned that I have actually managed to grow something that even slightly resembles sweetcorn, let alone that there is a good chance we will be able to eat it!

Right, mission accomplished, ie. no rambling, but I will finish with a picture across the veg patch this morning as it is glorious today and look forward to enjoying the good weather for the next couple of days. 

Hope you all have sunshine, too.

Bye for now.


Monday, 22 August 2016

What A Weekend!

We have had just a lovely weekend.

On Friday, amongst getting all ready for our visitors I baked bread but had a little hiccup; the water I added to the mix was too warm so killed off the yeast. Undeterred I decided to make flat breads and enlisted the help of the boys too and this is what we ended up with. Mmmm, ten of them are now in the freezer.

Our guests were both collected and arrived with us by 9.30pm and we had a fantastic evening. A few drinks, some lovely food, looking at photos, some guitar playing from the chaps and a lot of singing. Fab!

On Saturday morning we had our quite leisurely breakfast and headed into Aber for a mooch around and a coffee stop. We walked down to the beach and it was lovely, really not cold but a bit blowy and no rain! (Sorry this is a tad blurry.)

We headed home for our big pan of soup for lunch and had a very chilled out afternoon. some people had a kip, others went out for a walk with the dog and some watched a bit of TV. Just lovely.

Everybody was refreshed for our Tapas meal out in the evening. Some reviews I have read for La Taberna have said customers felt vaguely hungry at the end of the meal. However there were seven of us and we had a mixed plate of ham and cheese plus 11 tapas, these are not main courses, between us so that is one plate to share and a mathematical 1.57 tapa each. Well along with bread it was absolutely plenty for us. We had a bottle of wine, a jug of sangria and some soft drinks and the bill was less that £120. Not bad as far as I am concerned and would highly recommend it as a lovely, realxed atmosphere which the boys enjoyed, too. Lots of conversations about bull fighting and Cordoba due to the posters on the walls.

As we walked back to the car it began to rain and by the time we were driving down the seafront it seemed rude not to park up so the huge waves could wash over us. We all screamed like it was fireworks going off. Perfect end to a lovely evening.

On Sunday morning, with a full breakfast inside, us we headed to Borth for a walk on the beach and hope in our hearts of maybe an ice cream?! Here were the views of the beach, wild and wooly!

We then walked back along the beach part of the way and part way on the road. I took photos as we went. We did stop off at a cafe, by which time the sun was shining and the sky was blue; we treated ourselves to goodies including coffee, ice creams, cake and waffles, hot with ice cream!!

And the last photos include a lovely little basket and some wonderful old pegs I bought in a quirky antique shop along the way.

It was a lovely time and almost forgot we needed to get my friend back to Aber for her train at 3.30pm. We got home and packed up cars, which included the boys bags as they were heading to the Gramps, courtesy of Jon's cousin and her fella, to stay with them until they are back with us on Saturday.

And then is was just me and Jon and we had a relaxing evening ready for the coming week.
However, at about 8pm we had a phone call as Alfie had said he would call me when they arrived and he did just that. They drive me to distraction at times but I love them so much and miss Alfie's cuddles when he is away as he is tops in the cuddle department!

I've been out and collected the eggs this morning and checked things over in the rain. I've put some of the stinky rhubarb liquid on the broccoli which, very excitingly, is just starting to show. My dwarf beans have not been very successful at all so will have to try harder next year with those. The sweetcorn seems to be progressing well with the stragly strands on the tops turning brown. I think my bag of potatoes may be ready for harvesting as the folliage has died back quite a lot and I did put in my diary to check this week if they are ready. Dawn, could you remind me again when the sweet spuds and oca might be ready; I know it isn't just yet. The tops of some of my onions are starting to show so I hope these do not get nibbled at by anything; some are bigger than others and the green tops are still green at the moment.

Right I think that is enough from me for now. I don't plan on doing a lot today; the beds and washing from the weekend can wait until tomorrow but I will probably do some baking for Jon's packed lunches this week.

Going to see what everybody else has been up to over the last couple of days.

Bye for now.


Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Busy Time Ahead So.....

....wish it had been Thursday today.

Before I explain that just to let you know what we have been up to since my last post.

I forgot to mention that on Saturday afternoon I got round to soaking the rhubarb leaves. Already they are looking a bit putrid but I didn't get my nose too close! Those cabbage whites are gonna get it!

On Monday the weather was glorious so me and the boys had our lunch outside.

The boys sat on the logs around the fire pit and I sat under the tree in the shade.

Yesterday, Tuesday, I took the boys and Jake down to the river for an hour so they could cool off in the water. They LOVE it there! We went so we could pick Jon up from work on the way back home.

In the Poly House the tomatoes on the small bush have FINALLY started to turn a little red - my anxiety levels were getting a bit high as I thought it had stopped growing. Phew!

Today, after taking Jon to work, the boys and I went to Aber to do the shopping ready for our guests arriving on Friday evening. Lots of yummy things -  for supper Caeser salad with fresh anchovies, breakfast on Saturday is croissants, smoked salmon and strawberries, then chicken, turnips, pearl barley and such for a lovely Saturday lunch broth. We are out for Tapas on Saturday night then it is a big breakfast on Sunday morning. I thought I should have flowers, too, so treated myself to some lillies; £3.50 at Lidl. Dressed up a big clip-top jar so it didn't look so plain. (I love love love that bunting!)

So, back to wishing today was Thursday. You know when you're getting ready for people to come, you need to get things done but you don't want to clean up too early or make that cake too early? Well, that was me today because I made up the bed in the end room but couldn't complete it because I need a new quilt, I didn't want to make too much of an effort with the cleaning as I have at least one bed to change tomorrow and washing to do, I want to bake a cake but it needs to be fresh for Friday, plus I need two bread loaves - I think you get the picture. Consequently I didn't do much today, which is un-characteristically like me, although the boys and I did clear stones from the garden so Jon can strim it before Friday and I did a wash load.

When Jon came home we discussed the finishing off in the end room and think, if we are going to let it out before October 1, we need to spend a few more pennies, hmmm. Anyhow, I watered everything when it cooled down outside and cut these beauties!

The largest cucumber weighed in at 8.6oz! We will put the cucumber in the Caesar Salad on Friday and have the courgettes as part of our tea tomorrow.

Well, I look forward to a very productive day tomorrow.

Bye for now.


Sunday, 14 August 2016

Weekend Round-up.

Good afternoon.

I am currently watching/listening to the ladies marathon. The last couple of days have been just amazing with the rowing, cycling, heptathalon, swimming - need I go on?

However, I have managed to do a few other things, but not much! Jon made a lovely chicken and mushroom pie for tea one night this week and we had extra pastry so I baked a yummy apple and plum pie for our puddings. Oh, talking of baking The Great British Bake Off (TGBBO) begins on August 24. Yay!!

When I collected eggs one day we had this very strange looking one. I was a little unsure about the quality of it so decided not to keep it. Egg yield has been a little disappointing this last week so hope the girls buck up their ideas from tomorrow.
Now, please could somebody confirm what this is for me and can it be eaten or consumed in any way?  The tree is in the garden and there are lots of these on it.
The boys were due back yesterday so we headed into Aber first thing in the morning to do the food shopping and run a couple of errands. On our return I put away the shopping in almost Olympic time in order to sit down and enjoy Super Saturday. I celebrated with a Chelsea bun and a cup of coffee - and what a day it was!

The boys indeed did come home yesterday and it was lovely to have them back. We went out to eat tea as the Gramps were staying a little way from the house so joined them up there. 

Now, I think I mentioned that last weekend we secured a sale on a well know auction site. Well, we paid £26 for this Rayburn.

It is in cracking shape, including the doors....
and the hot plates are in fantastic condition, too.

It was inherited when the new owners of a house moved in but they did not want it. It needs a bit of TLC, a good clean and the top needs to be re-enamled but nothing Jon can't handle. I was very unsure of the colour as I SOOO love our blue Rayburn but it really isn't that bad. It will take a little time to get used to as it will be fuelled by wood not oil but we'll get there. We plan on it being in by some time in October after we have used up the oil we still have in the tank.

Jon has continued working on the end room and we bought some super funky lino for the bathroom yesterday. I can't wait to show you the photots when finished; it will be done and dusted for our visitor on Friday so will do so sometimes then. Our visitor is a good friend who I have not seen since Alfie's first birthday party! We used to live opposite each other in London and since then and now she has worked in New York on and off for around 10 years and I have moved around and got married (she was a witness at our wedding in Cyprus). She is amazing because even though in the US she is alwasy early sending cards and presents to us and the boys for whatever celebrations; we are all sooooo excited about her arriving on Friday evenning!

Well, not much to report here really, only that the sun is expected to shine on us on tomorrow and Tuesday so we are planning a BBQ on one day or the other and I hope to make the best of the weather in the garden with a few jobs.

Bye for now.


Friday, 12 August 2016

Celebrating Mediocrity - Pah!

I listened to The Jeremy Vine Show today and a sports writer was talking about how it isn't worth getting a silver or a bronze medal because it is celebrating mediocrity.  As somebody pointed out, you are hardly mediocre if you are third or even second at something in the entire world!

After thinking about it I realised the whole debate made me grind my teeth and harumph was because in saying we are celebrating mediocrity that means that winning is the only thing that matters. How can children be inspired to follow in the footsteps of their sporting heroes if they are told right at the start that you fail if you don't win? You have to start somewhere.

He also basically called olympians welfare freeloaders because they use tax payers money to spend four years training to take part in a slalom canoe race and nobody cares. That is a slightly different discussion because a lot of athletes get very little funding, however his words are not encouraging in the slightest to young people who we wish would get inspired and get our more instead of gluing themsleves to screens all the time.

Rant over, I thank you.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Mid-Week Musings

So the boys left with the Gramps Sunday lunchtime with Jon going back to work on Monday.

I have been keeping myself busy and on Monday...

I finally planted out ALL of the beetroot. You can look at it in one of two ways, either I sowed too many seeds in the beginning or I was cleverly thinking that I wouldn't have to grow it two years on the trot as I will have jar upon jar of it pickled! You decide!

Then I weeded around the turnips, onions and broccoli.

I had a few sugar snap peas in a drainpipe in the Poly House and have now put these in one of the tyres around a tripod; I hope they perk up as they were looking a bit poorly. I think they were a bit overshadowed by the cucumber plants; this is a close up to show said cucumbers which are growing very healthily and that there are lots to come, it seems.
I re-did the canes on the beef tomatoes and they are much more secure now.
I managed to turn over the compost heap with the help of both wheelbarrows. It is definitely coming on well but I really need to get right down to the bottom.

(I should point out that I've had to move the laptop to the other end of the kitchen table because the sun is streaming through the front kitchen window and I couldn't see a thing on the screen!)

Yesterday I gave the Poly House a really good tidy out including brushing out seed trays that are now empty ready for next season's sowing. There is not much going on in there at the moment; I'm sure there is something I could be doing but can't figure out what.

I managed to do some good work on my December Daily and finished three pages. Then domestic stuff was washing done and put outside, some ironing and clothes and bedding put away. I have the boys' school uniform washed and put aside but not doing anything with that yet as not sure how much of it will fit them by the end of the summer hols!

Jon and I went to the builders yard for supplies, more of that in a moment, after he finished work and he bought this for me. Aaah.
You can just see in the background my lettuces coming on. Decided to try growing these along with the leaves that are in the drainpipe above.

I am a little concerned about the tomatoes. I have picked some and we have eaten them, yum, but the bush ones are not turning red at the moment. I have, however, been reliably informed that when they turn red they emit a gas which helps to turn others red; maybe I just need to be a little more patient and not pick any for a while when they DO turn red. My middle name is definitley "learning all the time".

Now, regarding the trip to the builders yard. You may remember back in January I wrote THIS post, and then I wrote THIS one! The end room is really coming on and this is the bathroom. The tiles I mentioned a while back which the boys were helping to carry into the shed were used for the back wall, Jon made the frame for the mirror we had in stock as well as the duck board for the shower tray. That was another freebie; the tray was lying around at the saw mill, was a bit long so Jon shortened it, glued it back together and sanded it down and you would never know, then the toilet was from Freecycle and the door was a bargain on Ebay.
Last weekend Jon painted the living/sleeping space and we chose this fab purple for the end walls and used magnolia on the other two.
Carpet is coming in a couple of days, grouting on the shower, which is to the left of the mirror, will be finished tonight then it will be done for now. Later we need to look at curtains but we have a great side unit that was going for free, you see we love that word! which will go in later of course. So, where am I going with THIS ramble you are probably asking? 

Well, surpsingly we have changed our mind, yet again. The end room was to be a guest room and nothing more but I have a friend with a self-catering cottage down the road from us and she said we should put it on Airbnb. You may remember that I said I didn't want people in the garden, the space taken up which we had dreamed of for so long etc. etc. However, Jon and I think we can do this without too much impact on ours and the boys' lives. The other thing is the field we own down the road from the house would take a lot, and I mean a lot, of money to turn into a viable plot for camping and would take a good year or more to get done. 

Therefore we are going back to, not sure what plan X, Y or Z, where we use the field as more of a smallholding to be as self-sufficient and self-reliant as we can with our pigs, Jon's agricultural building store, his tool shed, maintenance materials, all his other manly stuff and who knows what else. He would be able to give up work then as we are not looking to be millionaires, just get the qualtiy of life we have both been looking for and want for the whole family. I pretty much do as I please and always have since we got here, and I am very lucky in that, but this would mean Jon could be at home, we would work together, have our desired pace of life for us and the boys and do what we want to do.

Another phew! We may get this first room let out in around October just to see how things go and after that Jon can look at converting the next two rooms.

Isn't life a killer? What can I say but what a ride! As it says at the bottom of my blog posts - 

It isn't love that makes the world go round, it's love that makes the ride worth while.

I can't think of anybody other than Jon that I would want to travel on this wild ride of ours.

I think that really is quite enough rambling.

Bye for now.