Saturday 31 March 2012

Just about finished in the back...

The last few path repairs have taken place today and at last, the back garden is beginning to resemble normality. We inherited these two chimney pots from my parents in law. Each one now houses a hosta and is situated either side of a double seat and table thing.

Should look good in summer and hopefully, it will be harder for the slugs to find them but if they do, I ought to be able to find them more quickly. They used to sit on the patio but no matter what we put in them, the plants died in the heat of a south facing situation. Another hosta in a pot is already 6” tall. 

Even though it is hardy, I have put a fleece jacket on it to give a little protection against the frost they are forecasting for next week.

The pond area has now got its wood chip down and looks better for it. We tend to get quite a lot of mare's tail growing in the back and hopefully, it will stand out more quickly against the dark background. 

Same applies to the wood chip in the fruit cage where the gooseberries have got their leaves and the flowers are just beginning to show. There also looks to be quite a few flowers on the blueberries, fingers crossed they survive their more alkaline position.

The final job in the back was to put some gravel on top of the herb bed, looks much better now.


Friday 30 March 2012


So, so tired. It feels like we are working ourselves to a standstill – getting slower and slower but we are nearly there. Yep, its the back garden again. We have finally extended the back path by another 2 bricks and lined the edge with a mixture of edging slabs. Phew.

Herewith a couple of photographs of work in progress:

Tomorrow (as my back is pinging so I daren't risk it today), I will put down some wood chip around the dustbin pond area to finish it off. Here is part of it before said woodchip. 

Then we just need to wash the paving area sometime over the weekend to finish off.

Here are some pictures of some of the creatures hubby has made for the garden. The first is Steven (as in Steven Segal!) He lives anywhere in the garden he feels like - a bit like Stevan Segal really, wouldn't want to argue with him.


Then inside the fruit cage is a Toucan and a Parrot. The parrot was made for his mum but we inherited it after she died.

He has just started work on a Cockatoo. At sometime, although they are currently in the garage waiting restoration, is Snoopy on top of his house, Felix the cat and a dancing Indian.

I think once all the above jobs are complete, that might be it but who can say. As all gardeners know, it is a never ending experience. Vegetable, flower and wild-flower seedlings are all coming through. I am module sowing every 2 weeks to stagger the season.

Thursday 29 March 2012

Monday is World Cancer Day

I received one of those 'forward this' emails concerning this issue. Normally I bin most of them but not this one. I did forward it to one friend but felt guilty and thought, if I put it on my blog more people will see it and won't have to forward it themselves or feel guilty doing so. Besides, I will reach more people this way as I only have a very small email address book!

Most of us must know someone who has died from or is currently battling this dreadful disease - I know I do. One of my followers has just lost some one and my heart goes out to them.

It says, 93% of people will not forward this message (I can understand why) but is simply asks that:

We pray for a cure for cancer” and states “A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle”.

Now that's not too difficult is it? If you wish to put this on your blog, feel free to copy it.

Tuesday 27 March 2012

Almost finished ...

Welcome to my new followers Dragonfly and Jan Chapman, glad to have you both on board.

Another glorious day, around 21 Celsius, a little more cloud in the sky compared to yesterday. Been busy in the garden again. We have decided to slightly widen the back brick path which runs parallel to the back fence. Now the fruit cage is up, it is just too narrow to walk and carry something. Went to a local merchants to get some nice but cheap edging as we already had spare bricks. Reckon we might be finished by the weekend.

All painting is now done. I'm busy emptying large containers, sieving the compost (along with what we get out from the path and pond area). They can then be used this summer to grow something in. I like courgettes but one on its own would fill a raised bed so one of these containers will come in handy. The patio area is nearly clear of all the stored items so is looking better and once this final sifting and building is finished, the whole area will be sorted and hopefully looking tidy.

We have a very long, electric operated fabric blind which runs along the back of the bungalow. Being south facing, if we don't keep the heat off the bedrooms, it is impossible to sleep in them. They also give us some shade at our table although our legs are still in the sun!

Sunday 25 March 2012

Painting and gardening ...

Another lovely day. Finally got around to cleaning half of the windows – a job I hate yet it doesn't take too long. My wrist is still aching though, nearly 2 weeks after sieving compost. I hope it is just a strain.

We have now finished painting all the protective net tops for the raised beds. Sown another few broad beans, the first are now through. Tomorrow we hope to transplant the bay bush from a pot into the garden, releasing the pot for other things.

There are lots of flower buds on the pears and early blueberry, signalling no doubt, a return to frost. Its amazing how often I have to try and protect these buds from frost. Luckily, the pears are grown as an arch so at a push can be protected, same with the blueberries and the plums.

In the next two days, we hope to have the patio area clear of other things and set up for sitting out for the rest of the year. All bags of compost, grit etc will be moved behind the garage to get them out of sight. Then we can start to tackle the few things that need doing in the front garden. Lots of weeds growing but I still can't kneel properly so have to wait for hubby to be free so I can point at what needs lifting!!

Saturday 24 March 2012

More painting ...

Another busy day painting. DB has now put the gloss paint on the back weatherboard of the garage, plus its back and side windows. I have finished painting my raised beds and most of their netted protection sheets. DB needs to cut one down to size to fit the last gap, then I'll paint it tomorrow to complete that job. DB hopes to start and finish the garage side door tomorrow. Phew!

We still have a path job to do sometime that involves the front of the pond area plus reshaping part of the path behind the fruit cage which is now a little too narrow for comfort. Can't start that till we get the edging sorted out.

We are now on a new month for our food challenge – check out the page above. DS. & FDiL. are enjoying their weight watchers diet so much we though we would give some of the main meals a go. They have found that working out 2 weeks worth of meals then eating them again for the last 2 weeks of the month, they are having little trouble sticking to their food challenge.

We had our first Pro-Points meal tonight – Leek, Cheese and Pasta bake. We upped the pasta by another 1oz but overall, it tasted quite nice. Once the shopping arrives on Tuesday from Tesco, we will have everything we need to eat this way for the next 2 weeks.

In no particular order, we will be eating:

Chicken, salami & courgette patties, macaroni cheese, chicken casserole, sausage & corn hash, mushroom risotto, pork fillet and lemon rice, mexican chicken and vegetables, low fat green chicken thai curry, tandoori turkey, coleslaw & fish fingers, lasagne, roast chicken and coleslaw with wedges & tuna. Including tonights tea, that is 14 meals.

Friday 23 March 2012

Gardening ....

Welcome to my new follower BeautifulDees from Utah.

It has been a glorious day again, temperature around 19 Celsius. Two full lines of washing have been dried and are ready for ironing.

If this was the end of April, we would probably be able to believe that summer was approaching. However, being the end of March, we know that winter will no doubt still throw some snow, hail or rain in our direction.

We are both busy in the garden fixing, transplanting and sowing. Hubby has removed and replaced the cement between the weather board and tiles at the back of the garage. He hopes by the end of the weekend to have that particular piece of wood primed and glossed.

I have begun to paint the inside and tops of our raised wooden beds. The outsides should be okay until next year. 

Some of our compost has been distributed, still more to do, but some will be saved towards potting things on ready for summer.

When the school closed last year, I managed to rescue the smaller one of three ancient and unused gym pieces (you had to leap frog over it, not sure whether it is classed as a horse or not). Anyway, the soft top was removed and hubby built me this raised herb garden.

As you can see, they have made it through winter and are beginning to grow well. I think I might still need to cover it with fleece if a very hard frost is forecast otherwise one or two might still succumb. 

Our dining room has a patio door leading to the side of the bungalow. Next door's fence is less than 5 feet away. We have tried over the years to make it look pretty - here is our latest attempt. 3 winter heathers have been planted either side of the flowering quince (which also bears fruit for jam etc.) The quince is just beginning to flower. It has double apricot flowers (I'll post a picture when it is in full bloom). That takes care of Winter, Spring and Summer. To the left of the left hand side heathers is a lovely hydrangea. Newly planted in front of the quince is a smaller and different variety. To the right of the right hand heathers, is another heather and a new plant which looks half dead (hence no photo!). 

 Heathers to the left of the quince.
These are to the right of it.

Thursday 22 March 2012

Water, compost and cats...

Having adjusted our water butt system, thought I'd show you it. Both these butts stand behind our garage. Each one takes one gutter from either side of its roof. The right one overflows into the left. The left one now overflows into the dustbin and from the dustbin, it goes off to our little dustbin pond.

This year is the first time we have got 'laid' frog spawn in it. Previously, I had to scoop some out of the front pond and transfer it.

These are our two compost bins. 

The right one (bleached by the sun as it goes down) was emptied and sieved. We got around 200 litres of beautiful compost. The left one, which was 3/4 full, was transferred into the empty one. It is now closed off (hence the plant pot in front of it) and won't be opened again until Spring next year. We shall now begin to fill the left hand one again.

Finally, like most of you, we have had our fair share of cats going to the toilet in the garden. As they nearly always came over the back fences, we have prevented them coming in by add a 1 foot tall piece of clematis netting along the fences.

I did see a cat try to walk along it but the pointed tops made it uncomfortable. It doesn't hurt them, just deters them. They can't jump over it as it is too wobbly.

However, the next door neighbour has his daughter staying for a few weeks and she has brought her two cats with her. They have gone in everyone's garden so far and we are all a little fed up. Can't stand accidentally picking it up/treading in it etc. I know one of them is coming in over our front side gate, so have put this up and hope it keeps them out. 

If not, I'll have to think about doing something else. Don't get me wrong, I've nothing against cats at all, but their toilet is another thing altogether.

Monday 19 March 2012

Visiting, eating, buying and making

We have really enjoyed our 2 days with DS. Went in a flash. Got taken out for a meal to celebrate Mother's Day early at a very posh Indian restaurant. If you eat before 7 pm you get BOGOF. Then we got another £10 off as DS. goes there with his firm and had the discount voucher from a previous outing.

He chipped in with the remainder as my present. He knows I don't like chocolates, flowers or cards on these type of celebrations so the meal was a good choice.

Also got myself a new coat and some boots for walking, Gore-tex based, so I should keep dry in future. My Amazon sales almost paid for the boots. As and when the rest gets sold, the money from there will go back into savings to cover the coat. 

Unfortunately, the boots will have to go back as they are hurting my right ankle bone, which they didn't on the test in the shop. Luckily, we have a branch nearer to us than where DS. lives so it saves a long journey.

Been out in the garden for a few hours. Got some more sowing done under the perspex plus 20 onion sets and 10 garlic cloves went in elsewhere. Have managed to get two lots of washing almost dry and also extended our 2 water butt configuration by adding a normal round black dustbin we had hanging around. 

Finished off the day by baking two loaves of bread - didn't forget them this time! 

Friday 16 March 2012

We have done what we hope will be, the final mini-shop for this month. That takes our total to £152.01 – £12 over. This last shop was done in Morrison's (£17.50) but I reckon Aldi/Lidl would still have been cheaper even though I can't always get everything I need from them.

We have at last finished sifting the soil left over from the fruit cage area. 

Up to see DS., FDiL. and S. soon, can't wait. The car will be bulging at the seams with all the stuff we need to take up there. DS. wants to power wash their patio areas before the hose pipe ban kicks in. We have got a new outdoor table and chairs so they are having our old ones. FDiL. inherited a little steam engine from her Grand-dad so hubby has built a box to store it in.

Thursday 15 March 2012

Shortbread - but not as you know it!

Finally, the sun is breaking through the mist and clouds. After another hour the clouds should be breaking and the light increasing dramatically.

I've been busy this morning making frugal laundry liquid and experimenting with my shortbread. I inherited the original recipe from my mother in law and it is lovely in flavour and texture, very crisp.

I had wondered though, like you do, if using some custard powder in it would result in custard flavoured shortbread.

Using half the normal recipe here it is:

Beat together 4 oz room temperature butter with 2 oz sugar. When well blended mix in gradually, 4 oz plain flour sieved with 2 oz custard powder (not ready mixed custard that just needs water!). The normal recipe uses cornflour not custard powder.

Knead lightly to bring together then put into a round and greased Victoria sponge cake tin. Mark into 8 segments, prick with a fork and bake at 160 Celsius for 40 – 45 minutes. I would recommend checking at 35 minutes in case your oven runs hotter than mine. Remove from the oven, re-cut and prick the segments and dust lightly with sugar if you wish. LEAVE in the tin to go cold before removing.

The full normal recipe is 8 oz butter, 4 oz sugar, 8 oz plain flour sieved with 4 oz cornflour. This amount is enough to fill a Swiss roll tin. You can then mark it into 16 fingers or 32 squares.

Well, as you can see from the photograph it is certainly very yellow and had a slight smell and taste of custard. Next time around, I will try replacing all the cornflour with custard powder and see what that is like. 

By the way, in the full recipe, you can remove 1 oz plain flour and exchange it for 1 oz cocoa (not drinking chocolate). You can also make two batches from the full recipe, leave one as it is and make the other chocolate then press lumps of different colours into the Swiss roll tin so you get a multi-flavoured shortbread. The possibilities of flavour and colour are endless.

After a mug of milky coffee and a slice of this, we went back out into the garden to finish sieving soil. 

Do you tinker with any of your recipes? 

Tuesday 13 March 2012

Hose pipe ban!

Well, its official. As from April 5th Anglian Water are imposing a hose pipe ban. I'm surprised we didn't have one last year. In the height of summer, I might water with a hose pipe in the front gravel garden about once every 2-3 weeks if really needed. Now I'll only water the plants with a watering can when they need it. There are too many in there to water them all, all the time. Mind you, they all have a gravel mulch so that helps quite a bit. Also, many are tolerant of dry weather as well.

We are still busy sifting garden soil from areas of the garden where it is not needed. Once done, it is put inside my raised vegetable beds as they are still a little low. Will be taking one full bag to DS. and FDiL. when we visit this weekend as they also have raised beds.

I reckon we have sifted somewhere in the region of 200 litres of soil with another 100 – 150 to go. It is a thing of beauty when done but hard work. We have barely started emptying our compost bin. We have two that sit side by side. When one is 'cooking' (ending up with around 200 litres of lovely compost ready for use after sifting), the other is in use. As we empty the one that is ready, the full one is closed down to allow it to turn into compost. We then start to re-use the emptied one – if you get my drift.

We bought our large bins from the council £17.50 for one with the 2nd half price. All our kitchen vegetable/fruit waste and soft garden items goes into it. Tough or unusable stuff (to us) goes in the fortnightly collected brown garden bin. It is fantastic stuff when ready, friable and with a lovely clean smell.

Monday 12 March 2012

Possibly the smallest greenhouse in the world ...

Or it could be the smallest propagator, cloche etc. The outside is a carton from some grapes and the inside, the carton from some small tomatoes. Didn't want to throw them away but didn't know what to do with them either. Then the light bulb went on!

Sow 2 different tomatoes in the small container, then line the base of the large one with cling film to stop any water leaking out. Place the small one inside the large one and a nice, cozy insulted home was born.

This will go in the airing cupboard and be checked every day. Once the seedlings are big enough to transplant, they'll be moved on. I've also sown some chilli and sweet peppers, plus leeks (never grown them from scratch before) and some annual wild-flowers.

I've just come back from my chiropractor appointment – she said I was a right mess; completely twisted in my knees, pelvis, back, shoulders and neck. Guess not having a plaster to hand on our walk nearly 2 weeks ago was not good.

Anyway, I now feel a little stiff, which will build as the day progresses. Hopefully tomorrow I should feel a lot better. Still can't get a complete stride in with my left leg, but its around 80%. I'm hoping that will be good enough to not throw my bones out of alignment again. We are going to give the walk a miss this week as well. Only 3 of us can make it we think, so M. and I are going to take B. to a garden centre she hasn't yet visited.

So then, where is our lovely weather predicted for today. It was yet again thick fog this morning which didn't clear until 11.30 ish. Since then it has been overcast, chilly with no sign of the sun at all!

I am going to make bacon, onion and pea risotto for tea. Then we'll finish off with a little more of the gooseberry crumble. I managed to get 8 portions from the stew yesterday - using around 1 lb meat plus 1/2 a swede, 5 carrots, 1 onion, 3 large potatoes and about 6 scrawny leeks.

Sunday 11 March 2012


Hoorah! The fruit cage is finished. We have decided to hang some old CD's on the net in places just to warn the birds it is there, although I watched a small finch veer off from it this morning so hopefully, they are aware of it.

I've added a few more pictures to the In my garden page. Some daffodils and some hyacinth bulbs (front garden section) that were re-planted Christmas presents from a few years ago.

Also took this picture in my front garden:

We also have two lots of frog spawn in our sunken dustbin pond. Some different daffodils are growing near the fruit cage:

Despite the predicted warmth of today, I had already planned stew for tea so that is what we will have. Some of last years gooseberries have been thawed and will be turned into a crumble (should get 6 portions). I will microwave a suet pudding and divide it between the number of plates of stew I'll serve up. The spares will then be frozen for later use.

It has been so nice to have the windows in the house open to let in fresh air and drive out the stale winter atmosphere. Anyone who knows me, will know I absolutely hate flies in the house. All windows have net curtains and any that are nearly always open, have a special net that fixes across them. This allows them to be open and closed without the need to move the net. Any flies that do get in are chased out or dealt with.

Our DS. knew this from an early age and was often heard saying “Fly, fly” to get our attention. FDiL must have thought we were bonkers hearing this from anyone in the house who heard one, but she has adapted to our crazy routine very well!! They have even gone so far as to put up a door net on their patio door at their own house. Mind you, the number of times their dog S. goes through the slats on it to get outside, often lets more in.

I think the thing I have about flies stems from when we lived in Germany in a 'mosquito' and horsefly infested area. Every night you had to light a special green mosquito coil and let it burn before retiring. Otherwise, the bites were huge and often got infected. Also, I don't want to eat anything that has had a fly vomit on it in an endeavour to soften food enough to suck it up. Don't get me started on how much they poo on uncovered food!!

Saturday 10 March 2012

Nearly there!

Phew! Been working on finishing the fruit cage most of the day. Putting the side nets on took an age, not so much getting it up, but tightening and straightening it. Then we had to ground peg it before trimming any sharp net bits on the top. The door took more than one attempt to get finished but finally, just before a late lunch, it was done.

We realised that the removable tie wraps they gave us would not be enough (for us) to get it how we wanted it so a quick trip to B & Q was needed.

Finally, quite late in the afternoon we began the roof net. Wow! It was like dealing with a teenage octopus having a tantrum. Get it correct one side and it slid off the other. We won eventually and have got it to a safe stage for overnight. Tomorrow will hopefully see it completed.

Friday 9 March 2012

Nearly finished ...

Had a bit of a spend today. Needed to go and buy some more wood chip to finish off the cage area. Whilst there, got the strawberries I needed, 1 x 6 different varieties taking us through from early summer to autumn. Then I spotted the blackberries. Again, this is a fruit we love and usually pick in the wild. However, a friend had one growing in her garden. They have far less pips than the wild ones and taste adorable so we indulged ourselves with a thorn-less variety. As we have a nice if rather hard pruned Bramley tree in the garden, I feel lots of nice things will be available next winter.

We started late morning to carry on with the cage area. I kept nipping in to make and keep an eye on our soup. After a lunch break (said green pea and vegetable soup) OH had a snooze for a while, whilst I carried on. After about an hour, the final handful of wood chip was down, everything tied in and looking good. OH came out to do other gardening jobs. 

Herewith the pictures.

Standing outside, looking down the completed left hand side.  The little grey statue was something I carved out whilst on my Access course. It was an abstract idea of reed warbler nests out on the marshes. As well as the 3 holes, there are lots of 'map' style lines running around it.

Down the far end of the left hand side are 2 of the 6 new strawberries with plenty of room for them to expand, plus 1 of the 2 gooseberries. 

In the middle is the gooseberry plus some more strawberries.
There is just enough space to the left of this plant to put in another blackcurrant if any of the cuttings take.

We now have to fix on the side nets, secure them to the ground, put over the roof net and secure the poles to the garage wall. Finally, we need to put a net on the door, level it as best we can and then we are finished. As we are now aching again we have stopped. These jobs will be started tomorrow and finished Sunday if need be.

Thursday 8 March 2012

Working on the fruit cage again .....

After an initial very cold start, the sky became blue, the wind dropped to a breeze and the sun came out. By 11am the temperature was 8 Celsius, good enough to get out and carry on with the fruit cage.

All the autumn raspberries have now been transplanted, fed and given additional ericaceous compost. The blueberries have had my soil dug away, fed and more ericaceous compost added. That particular side of the cage was finished off by laying two bags of shredded bark. I'm hoping the compost and bark will help the raspberries and blueberries adapt to my neutral slightly alkaline soil. 

The raspberries have been good for around 3 years but last year started to go yellow. The blueberries have now outgrown 4 tubs. They were becoming too expensive to maintain and the tubs were restricting their growth so I'm hoping they won't suffer too much of a shock in my soil. I have also bought some special liquid feed that has seaweed and iron in it.

The left hand side of the cage (as I will enter) has had all spare soil removed ready to be sieved and added to my final raised vegetable bed which has less soil than the others. Tomorrow we will top this part of the cage with shredded bark (might need a little more). Any daffodils that were in that part of the garden have been transplanted to the sides of the cage.

Herewith the photographs of the finished right hand side of the cage (attached to the garage wall). This wall faces due East and gets the sun until around 2pm in summer and 12 midday in winter.

The plant on the right is my loganberry (plus some daffodils). To its left is one blueberry, to the left of that two autumn raspberries.

Far left the blackcurrant, to its right two more autumn raspberries, to their right my other blueberry.

All the bed. We now ache like mad and will shortly be soaking in a late afternoon bath. Tonight is one of our 'school' takeaway Chinese meals round at B's.

Tuesday 6 March 2012

Passing time ...

The windy and wet weather has temporarily abated. I have washing on the line but not expecting it to do much other than drip dry enough to finish off in front of the wood burner tonight.

We had creamed mushrooms on toast for lunch and will be having home made Cornish pasties and vegetables for tea.

I am itching to be out in the garden but it's just too wet. Nipped out to check vegetables sown a week ago under cover and the radishes are peeking through. Whilst erecting our fruit cage poles, I needed to chop away around 1/3rd of our blackcurrant bush. Wondering if 3 cuttings from it would root, I popped them into the same bed under cover and will have to wait and see. We went and bought 4 bags of wood chips for said area that were on special offer - 4 for £10. Once they go down, we know it will all be finished. Can't wait!

Over on my new work blog (A Liminal World), I'm showing a 'rag rug' life-jacket I made for an exhibition. I still have it, even if it is wrapped up in the attic. Here is a picture of one side of it to whet your appetite!

Monday 5 March 2012

'White' onion soup and day long bread!

An indoor day today methinks. It is cold, wet and very windy here with the temperature currently at 3 Celsius and dropping. The inside of the fruit cage looks very wet and muddy so don't suppose we'll be able to finish it off for a few days yet.

Decided to have a go at designing/making some 'white' onion soup. It tasted quite good but may need further tweaking. Herewith the recipe:

Chop 3 medium - large onions (mine were around 3-4” wide).
Saute them with 1 peeled clove of garlic in a little oil until soft and translucent. Do not brown.

Add 1 1/2 pints beef stock using 2 – 2 1/2 beef cubes. (You can use other flavours if you wish). Then add 1 diced potato, around 6 oz in weight. Simmer for 25 minutes until all vegetables are cooked.

Whizz together with a stick blender adding plenty of black pepper. Only add salt if you think it needs it as the stock cubes are salty.

I managed to find some baby chive shoots to sprinkle on top. As with all onion soups, there are often digestive implications!!

Looks like my hip/thigh is not going to be healed enough for our weekly walk. I can now lift my leg up carefully to dress but if I walk I can only do a half stride with that leg. Any attempt at a full stride causes discomfort so a 5 mile walk is out of the question.

Sunday 4 March 2012

First video upload!

Well folks, I have finally plucked up the courage and uploaded my very first sound piece from 4 years ago onto my other blog. Hope it plays okay. 

It is a little rustic as I struggled to get to grips with not only the technology but also my new found interest in producing sound from data.

If you want to see it, just click on A Liminal World, found on the right hand side of this page.

Fun and games - not!

My bread making turned into a right royal farce yesterday. Hubby and I were on different wave lengths regarding whether or not we were going out to get something for the fruit cage. I thought we were and he thought we weren't.

Normally I would make bread first thing in the morning when I am switched on enough to keep an eye on it. Yesterday, we went out into the garden to do more on the fruit side of things so bread making was relegated until early afternoon.

It all started well, it was made and put into the airing cupboard for its first rise. At 4.00pm, it was ready and I took off a chunk for a pizza base for tea. Second rising started around 4.20pm …

We duly had said pizza for tea – which I set the oven and time incorrectly. It was nice but too crisp.
At 8.50pm I suddenly remembered the bread was still in the airing cupboard – it was huge! I slashed its top to let some of the rise out and put the oven on to warm. We had a drink, watched 2 episodes of E.R. and began to get ready for bed. Went into the kitchen to sort out early morning drinks and saw the oven on.

Yes, it had been on for nearly 2 hours – empty!

The air turned blue, the bread had now risen again and was bulging over the sides of the tins. Waiting for bread to cook at 10.50pm is like waiting for a kettle to boil in an emergency. Finally at 11.15pm it was ready, I didn't hold out much hope.

Bread however, is extremely forgiving, luckily for us. We tipped it out, wrapped it in a tea towel to soften its crust (mainly because we wanted to get to bed and didn't want to wait any longer for it to cool).

As you can imagine, I couldn't get to sleep being so wound up. At 1.00am, made myself a milky drink and put the now cooled bread away. 4.00am I was still awake and was contemplating that if it was summer I could get up and be working in the garden. Don't remember any more until 07.21am when the birds chirping woke me up.

We had some of the bread as toast for breakfast. It had a very crispy exterior but was good!

Saturday 3 March 2012

More building and transplanting

Dan, thanks for your comment. I did find dangling CD's on string (not allowing them to catch) helped quite a bit to keep the birds off my fruit. In the end though after many years of getting annoyed with the birds, we saved hard and got a fruit cage.

I got mine from Harrod Horticultural, they even do a pop up crop cage that you put up each year and can take down if you wish.You can also get what you need to build your own. Not that I am advertising them as such, it's just they do very good products.

Inside my cage will be 2 x blueberries (got to make the soil a little more acidic), 5 x autumn raspberries (don't spread as much), 1 x blackcurrant, 1 x loganberry, 2 x Gooseberries. I'm also thinking of getting strawberries even though they can take over. I have a rhubarb in the front garden that I might also transplant back into here.

We spent the morning finishing off the borders, putting the trellis back up and transplanting the loganberry. Several daffodils were in the way so they have been put into containers to flower.

More still need to be lifted and potted on, especially from around the gooseberries. Then I need to transplant the raspberries and rhubarb etc. 
Once everything is done we will add the side and roof net, attach the back poles to the garage wall then hopefully, it will be completed. Depending on the weather, all that work may take until next weekend!It started lovely this morning but has now gone very grey and windy. Rain on its way no doubt.

I have updated my War Diary Year II and Seasonal UK Food pages for March.

Friday 2 March 2012

Building again...

Another lovely day here. Very cool to begin with but around 10.30am it was warm enough to begin working outside. Eventually, the temperature got up to 12 Celsius – lovely.

Yesterday we unpacked our 3 packages and started assembling them. The erection of said item took most of the day. I was not too much help as I could neither bend not stand for long with my hip hurting but we managed in the end.

Today, the royal we, have spent the morning digging out shallow troughs to transplant barley twist edging from one part of the garden to this new part. 

Then we had to lay and level them both vertically and horizontally. After that, the weed suppressant fabric was replaced and the gravel put back.

Lunchtime saw us eating home made sweetcorn soup, crackers and yoghurt.

We should have had more of a break before returning outside but could see the wind was picking up and the temperature dropping.

The final job for today was to move one bed with its accompanying edging back 6”, so it butts up against the newly transplanted ones.

So what are we building? What have I waited years for?

Yes folks - a fruit cage! It has even got a friendly wooden toucan inside.

Last year saw so much loss of fruit I actually got angry. Cheeky beggars, feed them all through winter and that's how they repay you! Around 7lb of gooseberries disappeared overnight, all my loganberries and most of my raspberries. Only the blueberries survived as they had some protection. I might add strawberries to the cage and even some purple sprouting broccoli as the butterflies normally decimate those.

It measures 3.5m long x 2.5m deep x 2m high and runs alongside the garage wall. It faces east so will get the sun until around 2pm before going into shade. Most of the plants are already in situ but I need to move my autumn fruiting raspberries and the loganberry into it. The forecast for the next three days is for showers or rain so we won't be able to complete this job until next week or even later.

My back is killing me but once the old spring sap starts rising, you have to answer the call!