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Spring Life In The Garden.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Excited About The Coming Months!

Yes! Sowing and growing is here finally! As last year I only started sowing seeds in April, very late to the party, I am super excited about getting things started for the coming seasons. I just about have all the seeds I need after finding some climbing bean ones at the weekend. I also picked up some sprouting seeds which I have never eaten before let alone grown so we'll see how we get along with those. I couldn't resist the Mixed Field Flowers as I just want to throw them in the garden somewhere with gay abandon and hope for the best; pennies if they don't work. I'm not too bothered about having that many flowers in the garden but really like the idea of the randomness of wild flowers. I still cannot find any mild, sweet chilli seeds; we don't want to grow hot ones and I really want to make sweet chilli sauce as Harry especially likes it.


I also recently picked up some Poppy, Cornflower and Marigold seeds. I have plans for the poppies but not sure about the others; I think Marigolds can be planted as a deterrent to something but will have to check what?

In readiness I have made myself a little dibber with a lovely smooth piece of driftwood we found on the beach in Aber. One side is in inches...

and the other in centimetres.

We celebrated Alfie's birthday at the weekend and amongst his presents were there fab 3d goggles from a very good friend of ours.

On Sunday I decided to take up some of the leeks I have been growing... Well, they look healthy even though they are quite small, baby leeks I think I'll call them!

I did put them in late last year so that is probably why they are small; starting earlier this year! Made a big pot of veg soup for lunch on Saturday and the boys thought it was lovely. Harry was not so impressed when I told him I would be growing everything that was in it - sweet spuds, leeks, onions, carrots, courgettes, peppers - as he always says he doesn't like leeks or courgettes!

Ok, needs must and I must get some baking done and there is a small pile of ironing to deal with. It didn't seem so cold first thing but the rain looks as though it may be on its way and it does feel a little cooler just now. The Rayburn is lit so i think the wood burner will be roaring after lunchtime.

Looking forward to seeing what everybody has been up to over the weekend and plan for the coming days.

Bye for now.


Tuesday, 24 January 2017

"I Have Confidence In Sunshine", as the song goes.....

but not sure about myself sometimes.

Image result for lack of confidence

Does confidence slip sometimes when you get older?

I gave up worrying about what people think of me a long time ago; I am who I am and I do what I do for the reasons I do them to make nobody happy but those who I hold most dear, so I should be super confident. Maybe it isn't a lack of confidence but more like the feeling of being unsure of myself at times; is that the same thing?

I consider myself a bit of a procrastinator at times but I am always organised and everything that needs to be done always gets done.

This isn't a post about going into detail about anything in particular but more to make me think and perhaps get you thinking a little. I am also reminded of the saying 

fools rush in where angels fear to tread

 - suffice to say my husband is the angel landed with the fool, now and again! 

I think the beginning of this new year is the best time to learn from a couple of recent incidents, which have annoyed the pants off me and upset me at times, and just give myself a kick up the bum and get on with life.

I feel a little better now that's off my chest. Normal rambling service to be resumed shortly.

Bye for now.


Sunday, 22 January 2017

A Dog-Gone Sad Day.

Well today was the sad day when we said goodbye to our Jakey-chops.

In the end a lady and her two sons, who are obviously dog-loving people, came to see Jake with their dog Poppy. After an initial not-sure-about-you few minutes they were playing well together in the garden.

We had a good talk with Denise and her two boys, the youngest one especially seemed to get on well with Jake, and decided she would let us know how he was getting on with Poppy as she has not lived with another dog permanently but is used to having other dogs in the house. 

The boys took it well although Harry said he would miss him; I explained we had to do the thing that was best for Jake. Jon put him in the car but I stayed in the house then waved them goodbye with Jake off to his new home in Malvern.

I feel sure he will be happy there and hope he lives out his days in what seems a loving and caring environment.


Friday, 20 January 2017

Our Jakey-chops.

Today may be the last day that Jake is our dog. I have told a couple of people that we have, with heavy hearts, made the decision to find a new home for him. 

Over the last six months or so he has developed attachment issues with Jon and has panic attacks as soon as it looks like Jon is leaving the house. In the day he g outdoors and lies on the floor by the gate waiting for Jon to come home. He comes round but on top of that he is totally unable to deal with the boys - you cannot tell a 9 and 10 year old to always be quiet because they are upsetting the dog; because of this he doesn't even like going on a walk when they come and as soon as they enter the room he leaves.

For the sake of Jake's mental health we think this is the best thing. Border Collies can be highly strung and temperamental but Jake's situation is not something that we feel can be trained out of him, he needs to have a life somewhere that he will be molly coddled and spoilt.

We have found a lady and her husband in Crewe who sound fantastic. It so happens we are going to visit my father in law in Nantwich tomorrow so we can take him for a house visit.
The people in Crewe have 4 acres, the lady is retired and will spend all her time with him. It goes without saying that if for any reason we do not like their situation them we will bring him home with us.

Jon is going to take Jake for the visit as we don't want the boys to get upset when they have realised what is going to happen. I truly just want him to go to people who can love him for what he is which is a bit softy and I think I would find it hard to say goodbye to him.

So I am collecting up his things to take with us incase he does leave us tomorrow. This is a sad thing that we have to do but it is the best decision. 


Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Bit Of A Mish Mash.


Thought I would post about a few random things. 

This is all of the plant pots which came my way for 99p. Chuffed to bits I have sooo many and that they were all clean barring a couple.

I was in the Poly House this morning and took this photo across the fields at the back of the house.

Didn't need a coat and hardly needed my jumper. I was having a bit of a tidy up re the above but I have now gone off piste regarding my sowing and growing plan! Today I have sown these seeds:

two trays of spring onions
one of Gardener's Delight toms
one including sweet peppers and piquant peppers

The trays are mainly from when I buy chicken breasts; they are a great size so I just pierce some holes in the bottom of them for a bit of drainage.

I have put them in the window sill in the top kitchen and will cover them with something to help the germination process when I get a minute. This window gets quite a lot of sun whilst it is still a little too cool to put them in the conservatory, although it is a lovely day today and quite mild and dry. Yay!

I also emptied the compost that was in the fixed drainpipe in the Poly House. I have put this at the end of the main veg patch as I'm going to add it to this area when I do some digging over; I'm always a bit unsure about whether or not you should re-use compost.

Ah, yesterday two lots of my seed potatoes arrived from Thompson & Morgan,

as you can see they are Maris Piper and Arran Pilot. I need to get them chitting soon, probably this month rather than next.

This is funny. Jon and I love the Rayburn and he decided to have 10 minutes the other night!

Following on from that photo this one is a little self indulgent as it shows just what the Rayburn is all about; fresh bread, sausage casserole tea for tonight and a brew!

Whilst in the garden this morning I nearly squealed with delight. I was convinced I would have lost all my daffs from when we had the garden scraped down with the digger, but no!

Plenty in evidence here and I am soooo grateful because I just loved being able to pick them from the garden to have them in the house!I MUST get the last of my bulbs put in SOMEWHERE!

This is something small that pleases. The last time Jon's Dad came to visit he brought us some lovely rope for the airer in the kitchen; it makes it run so smoothly now, just great.

Well I think that is that for today. Got a few jobs around the house to do now before the boys come home.

bye for now. 


Sunday, 15 January 2017

Vintage, Vinegar and Other Stuff.

This is a quick post, after the last one. The boys are at a friends house for lunch and 'hanging out' so I'm really just catching up with everything and to show n tell a couple of things I picked up this weekend. 

In Craft I found this gorgeous vintage cheese dish, even Jon thinks it is ace!

I picked it up for £2 and I LOVE it! It is from the Boston Warehouse Trading Corp in the US.

Also at Craft I came across this little bag of goodies; you just might be able to see for 99p!!!

There are SO many pots of different sizes for sowing and growing, including some good sized ones for chillies! Just could not walk past it. The shelves in the Poly House will be overflowing.

Yesterday I started to drain off the Apple Cider Vinegar. Not quite finished but it is coming on well.

It will be a treat for the chickens.

We have had some snow in the last couple of days but we are just wet now! Forecast says it should be drier from Wednesday/Thursday onwards.

Right I think that is enough from me for today. Let us see what next week brings us.

Bye for now.


Sowing And Growing 2017 Here We Come!


I've mentioned at times my sowing and growing plans for this year so I thought I'd do a proper post mostly about the veg; you might want to get a brew and a biscuit when you sit down to this one! If I have a record of plans I normally get things straight in my head when they are down on 'paper '- I can also ask for any advice I might need as I go along! Obviously it's good to be flexible because if something doesn't work or I change my mind etc. that's ok.

I've learned a great deal since last April, from how much spacing you really need between things when you plant out, how to deal with growing in bags, watering routines, patience - lots of things. It will be great to look back on this and compare to the harvest we hopefully reap!

 Now first of all this is the plan I have drawn up for the main veg patch, the five tyres, drainpipes(?), growing bags (not grow bags), the patch previously used for sweet corn, the shallow Belfast sink, containers and inside the Poly House (PH).

These are the plans for January - March incl. 

The first sowings I'll hopefully do in the next week or so. These will be started off in the conservatory as it is too cold in the PH just now. I hope to be sowing chillies, sweet ones, and we are not keen on really hot ones so will bear this in mind; I couldn't get the right seeds at the weekend but once ready they'll be moved into the PH to be grown in containers under one of the benches as I think there is room for their height without taking up floor space. 

Spring onions are something I really want to improve on this year. Last year I managed a few but they were very weak looking. These will be started off in the conservatory, might work or may have to wait until February depending on how warm the sun gets. They will then be put outside in the shallow Belfast sink - should be able to get loads in there!

In February these are the jobs:

- cucumbers called Marketmore sowed, same procedure as before. Didn't do too bad last year but hope to do better this time with a different variety (can't remember what the last ones were called); they will go into the PH raised bed alongside the aubergines.

- the first round of tomato seeds will be sown, cherry ones, which will be Gardener's Delight which I acquired from not sure where plus a variety particularly for bottling called Capriccio F1 Hybrid ordered from Thompson & Morgan. I don't know much about the difference between Hybrids and others but it may be that they have been produced to be a little more resistant to disease, to guarantee size?

- 1st early spuds need to start chitting ready to be planted at the end of this month; I have on order Charlottes and  Arran Pilot.

- piquant peppers, thanks to Dawn for the seeds, as well as some sweet peppers the seeds for which came with my GYO mag. These I plan to grow under one of the benches the same as the chillies unless they prove too big, must measure the height of the bench...

I could start some carrots but not sure if I will bother as failed badly with these last year; might give them a miss and try next year.

peas are new to me this year and on recommendation from Dawn, thanks again, I ordered Victorian Colossal Climbing Pea seeds from Victoriana Nursery Gardens. I will start these off as all before in 1 drainpipe I have in the conservatory but I think I have at least one more I can use. This is the advice on how to start off as they can be slid into position when ready to plant out. Not sure if I need to sow every couple of months or just go with the initial sow.

- I have on order Maris Piper seeds spuds and these need to be chitting this month.

- I am sowing two varieties of aubergines - Black Beauty and Long Purple; my plan gives room for 2 plants but I might just try and squeeze in 3 so I can get at least 1 of each type. I'm really am keen to grow these this year because I was too late last year; again they will be started in the conservatory before being moved to the PH and when ready they will be put into the raised bed. Can't wait to make my own ratatouille!

For March we have the following:

- I want to grow some climbing beans this year but haven't bought seeds yet. I am a bit funny about beans. I only like the thin French beans not the long runner beans. Ultimately they will be planted out in the back two tyres on tripods of course;I hope they will get some good sun there but will be sheltered, too, by the wall.

- lettuce will be sown in the fixed drainpipe in the PH and I plan to sow every couple of weeks. I have a mixed lot of seeds which include All The Year Round, Mizuna, Rocket, Cress (Land/American) this I may grow in a container of sorts just because it shows that on the front of the packet!, Lettuce Salad Bowl and Radichio. Some seeds were bought last year, some came with my GYO and some I acquired; hope to get a good variety this year.

- Maris Piper early maincrop spuds will go in at the beginning of the month.

- by now the cucumber should be ready to be put into the PH raised bed along with the aubergines so we will see what good bedfellows they make!

 - onion sets can be sown this month, too, so shall look at getting some bought in good time, if space on the plot allows for them. (Last year I planted the onions in June and November; the June ones harvested in mid-October.)

- sugar snap peas did not too bad being supported between the sweetcorn last year; not quite sure where they would go this year if I do grow them, may have to get some large containers for them...

- not sure if I will have to start off more peas this month, any advice or should the ones I put in last month be enough.

- gherkins are something Jon loves so really want to have a bash at these this year.

Right, I think that it is for the sowing and growing plans, f course there are jobs to be done in and around the Poly House this month so I aim to:

- turn over the compost bin, the bottom section is looking really healthy

- tidy out the rest of the growing bags, containers etc

- make a spot in the fruit area for the blackcurrant and raspberry bushes that I currently have in pots

- put compost that I have in some containers in the Poly House in one receptacle

- give the Poly House one last clean up before we start the year in earnest!

It goes without saying that any advice, tips or "no!!!! don't do that's" will always be appreciated!

Bye for now.


Monday, 9 January 2017

Getting Back In The Swing Of Things.


How are you doing? Just a little catch up with the first week of the new year, getting back to normal routines, kids to school, bread baking etc.

This is probably not in the right order but never mind.

We have had the first, be it 4 days, week back at school. The boys are going to a new Sports Club at school on a Wednesday so I pick them up instead of them coming home on the taxi bus. 

Harry is taking part in a cookery competition at Urdd this month; we have had the first practise of making Cauliflower Tabbouleh and it was really yummy with the burgers we had on Saturday night.

A fairly big thing is that we have made the decision to keep two cars. We bought one to do up and sell but Jon decided it was a very good car; seven seats, tow bar but I didn't like it but was willing to use it. However, the blue one which we bought a while ago is a little cracker I love it. We had paid off the tax off in one go and when we discovered the insurance was less than £15 a month we decided to keep both. It is very economical, £35 to fill it and does 50 to the gallon, so I can whip about fetching the boys from various things and do the food shopping on a Friday instead of having to do it at the weekend spoiling family time. 

I've been looking for a pair of mantlepiece dogs for ages and we saw some in Craft in Aber at the weekend. They were £15 but I seen odd ones before for £10 on their own. Look!!

I also found this lovely little marmalade pot in a charity shop and reminded me of one we used to have when I was young.

News from the outdoors includes the progress of our garlic...

glove is there for scale!

Then we are making some changes to the fire pit area to improve our outdoor eating experience. Jon used the sleepers from the last flower bed we took up to make the narrow table at the tip of the picture and the horizontal pieces are on top of narrow logs to section off the area and also for people to stand against. A little bit of work to finish but looking good.

This stone plinth is the base for what will become our pizza oven.

We have a very cheeky little robin who comes in the garden a lot. We put some cake on the kitchen window sill and after a few minutes here it came.

I have treated myself to a laminator. This is good if I want to keep anything special of the the boys, a really nice photo plus, of course, cutting down on paper when I can keep a dry wipe list of something instead of always printing off. I will always have paper things because that is me but for a checklist in each of the letting rooms, wipeable things we will need for the bed and breakfast etc I can see if being very useful.

Right, must dash now. I have cleaned the bathroom from top to bottom today, which took an age, and I mean that involves toothbrushes in nooks and crannies. on did some work on it a few days ago by adding this lovely splashback, for want of a better word, to the bath surround.

I have also baked two loaves, vacuumed everywhere and prepared the veg for tea so going to have a brew now and get the rest of tea ready.

Bye for now.


Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Breakfast, Beginnings and Boxes.

New Year's Day breakfast consisted of using up a couple of things, namely cranberries and bananas.

Therefore the order of the day was a smoothie for Alfie...

and pancakes for me and Harry. He loves crispy bacon on his pancakes, as do I, so I made plain ones for him and fruit ones for me. I'm going to be honest with you, though, 

he wasn't keen on the banana-base of the pancakes so just ate his bacon on a sandwich instead!

Never mind, here is my New Year decoration that I put out for January to remind me of new beginnings and what is to come, good things hopefully!

Forgot to say that on New Year's Eve we shared our Box of Experiences. From January to December 2016 I have been writing down whenever  we did something as a family or when something good happened worth remembering,

so we took turns reading about the things we had done and it was quite fun in the end - NOTE TO SELF: write or type the words next year, or improve my writing for the benefit of the boys!

I am on my own today for the first time in two weeks as the boys are Jon are back to their routines. I have taken down a lot of the decorations and will do the tree tomorrow. I am now looking now I can spruce up the house now we are looking a little bare but thought I would leave fairy lights on the dresser in the downstairs kitchen as it is something sparkly to look at on a bit of a grey day.

Onwards and upwards - Rayburn crackling, washing on, chooks fed, coal bucket filled and now must get on with a few things for an hour or so before lunch and then decide on tea - leek and potato soup from a few bits in the bottom of the veg.

Loving hearing about everybody's plans for the new year - keep 'em coming!

Bye for now.  


Sunday, 1 January 2017

2016 Photo by Photo.

Happy New Year to everybody.

Image result for happy new year  in Welsh

I just tried to choose a photo from each month of the year and got as far as February. No, can't do it so I chose these just to show some achievements I was very proud of and things we enjoyed as a family.

Having the wonderful Poly House Jon built up and running was amazing.

Jon shot a rabbit in the garden and it was a family effort to skin, gut and cook it. Delish.

Our boys received the most improved Welsh award at the end of the school year and we were soooo proud!

I picked lots of blackberries and made everything from crumbles to pies to pastries with them. On my list this year is blackberry vodka in time for next Christmas!

I loved that I could make soup out of our own courgettes, beans and tomatoes!

We have created a fantastic parking area out of part of the garden we just were not using.

and enjoyed our second Christmas in the home of our dreams

It is great to look back on the year, and we have achieved so much but I there is sooo much to look forward to in 2017.

We have plans to get the second room to let finished as soon as we can, but of course keep promoting the one we have outside of Airbnb to increase our earning potential. I have set up a Twitter account, not keen on it but I am trying to link in with lots of events in the local area where people may need a bed for the night! 

I am full of plans to get our harvest increased on every level. I am not growing anything exotic but just the things we will eat and things I can hopefully preserve, too, so as to build up our store a bit more. I have already on order my sweet potatoes and regular spuds and have lots of seeds ready to make use of. I have more space this coming year because of the tyres and the bed I am not using for sweet corn again this year so really hope to give it a proper go this year. I have the veg patch and everything set out for what will go where.

I intend to sell some of our eggs and use the proceeds as a fun to feed the girls and buy straw etc. Should be able to start doing this as soon as we get a bit more light in the day.

Right, enough talk and rambling. Let's get on with this new year and look to it being wonderful in every way you wish and hope for.

Bye for now.