Saturday 30 June 2012

Dutch Apple Tart

The skies are currently very dark grey/black as I write this early morning post. The wind is picking up and I was going to put some washing on the line but might keep it in the conservatory!

Yesterday I attempted a Dutch Apple Tart. Very fiddly and I won't be making it using this recipe again. I have since found a 'more normal' way of making the pastry element and will use that recipe next time. Apart from the pastry being far too short (wouldn't roll properly even after the allotted time of 1 hour in the fridge), it cooked far quicker than the 1 hour 15 minutes stated.

However, it did taste nice, the leftover pastry made some fantastic biscuits so all was not lost. Herewith the photographs:

Friday 29 June 2012

Cooler but nice

It is so much cooler today but nice all the same. Very windy though. 

Remember earlier in the year I bought some wild flower seeds plus some garden flower seeds? I thought I would have a go at growing more of my own so I can have different ones to those always available in the garden centre.

The first two are now in bloom. Here is one of the many corncockle's, followed by Nolana – a hanging basket plant although it will grow in the ground as well.

I also sowed some Nasturtiums as I like the leaves in salad but only one grew, pretty nonetheless:

I have a long group of various Sempervivums growing down the driveway fence which are just coming into flower:

I hope this afternoon, to have a go at making a half size Dutch Apple Tart.

Hope you and yours came through the dreadful weather okay. If not, my thoughts are with you as you clean up (I know, fat lot of good thoughts are!). 

Tuesday 26 June 2012

Tootling along...

The day started out nice and sunny but it has now clouded over and got a little windy. Showers are forecast for later on but as it is a little humid, I guess that is why.

Went off to buy some clematis netting for the cucumber and to top off the fence between us and the neighbour to keeps the birds from sitting on it whilst waiting for him to feed them. The amount of poo has got beyond the joke now and lets face it, is not very hygienic for us when we need to use our bins.

Also bought some organic insecticide to try and knock these bugs out on the fruit trees. Apart from the black fly and woolly aphids, there are some sort of little things running up and down, quickly followed by ants.

We have also been busy weeding the drive and back paths. Hopefully, weather permitting, we can get the weeds under control but more showers/rain is forecast for later on in the week. Need to feed my tomatoes etc but as they are soaking wet with all this rain, not sure if doing so will finish them off. For now, they have had a foliar feed to keep them going.

Monday 25 June 2012

In the back garden - vegetables/fruit

Welcome to my new followers Lucy and Regina.

Well, I've finally managed to check out my garden after being away. My peonies are in a right old state. One or two nice flowers are out but most of the rest are rotting before opening.

I have washing on the line as according to the weather forecast, it is a nice warm day. Well, its not. Its cool, windy and the sky is dark grey as far as the eye can see.

The gold finch has either disappeared or reared her young in our absence. Can't believe that as she only just started to sit in the nest for a few days before we left and before she sat in it, there were no eggs. Maybe she has been killed and something raided the nest. Ah well, hopefully another one will find it and start again.

I have updated the photographs on the 'In my garden' page with quite a lot more flowers. In the back garden, where we grow mainly vegetables and fruit, I have been busy taking some photographs to show you my progress.

We have a few tiny cucumbers and courgettes forming. 

The first tub of peas has flowers. 

The broad beans are forming. 

Some of the small and larger tomatoes have fruit.

Flowers are forming on the tomatillo's. 

The two tubs of potatoes are in flower so hopefully we might get spuds unless they have rotted in all this rain. 

My Moroccan Cress (lettuce to you and me) are also growing well.

So too are the runner and french beans.

The onions and garlic.

We have only a few green and red pears (maybe 15 in total). 

Even less apples as a severe late frost followed by blackfly and woolly aphid (never had that before) has decimated all the apple and pear trees.

The plums and quince seem to have gone the same way - hardly any fruit.

Sunday 24 June 2012

A tale of woe!

Thanks for all your comments whilst we have been away. Just enjoyed catching up on your blogs. For those who don't know me very well, might I just say - THERE IS NO ADVERTISING ON THIS BLOG. If anyone wishes to leave a comment that's fine. If however, it links back to a commercial blog, your comment will not be posted.

For now, we are back but might have to dash off again some time soon!

Where have we been, what was our exciting news (to us anyway)? Our DS and FDil have finally moved out of rented accommodation and into their own place. Yes, they have managed to get on the property ladder!

I had promised photographs but despite taking my camera and flip video I simply forgot. The move from rented house to their new home went okay. It took about 4 hours to empty and around 3 to refill. The men took their time and had several breaks but none of us was in a rush as DS. and FDiL. were still finishing packing when we arrived.

I could lie and say we were raring to go but having got up at 4.30am, attempted breakfast (failed) and drove up to them, it was around 8.00am when we arrived feeling slightly sluggish. So a slightly slower move than anticipated was okay.

Luckily, it was the one dry day of the whole time we were there! After that, things went slightly downhill. We all got up quite chipper in the morning when I decided to let the dog out AND completely forgot about the very clean patio door in the lounge. I have never felt such pain. Let me tell you, it was very much on a par with childbirth if a lot shorter.

So... when you have all stopped choking with laughter on your tea/coffee I'll carry on.

By now DB was supporting me as I was bent over holding my cupped hands beneath my nose to catch the blood whilst DS. and FDiL. came dashing down stairs to ask what the the very loud bang was. Tears were pouring down my face. DS. very kindly informed me that there was a face imprint on the glass – yes dear, - I knew. I had probably got a corresponding glass imprint on my face!!

Finally the bleeding stop and I decided gingerly to go upstairs and inspect the damage. Just got to the bathroom when an insistent buzzing started in my ears, my vision started to go and I only just managed to get to the bed before nearly fainting.

Eventually I was able to check my face and other than a weird mark on the side of my nose there was no external evidence of a flattened face. The middle to top of my nose was killing me, as was my forehead and I think I was probably concussed as I couldn't stay completely awake during the whole of that day nor much of the next. I also felt like bursting into tears all the time.

Now, 4 days on, my forehead has stopped hurting and my nose is almost back to normal. No external bruising (think it must have all been internal) and I can almost breathe properly again.

As it rained almost constantly, we were unable to sort out the garden at the new place. All the shrubs need removing and the lawn lifting to form a veggie patch. Then we need to move all the veggies from the old place before handing it back to the landlord. 

Plus the old place needs holes filling in the walls and repainting, carpets cleaned etc so they don't lose their deposit.

So, I think we will be returning shortly, if it ever stops raining (currently having a thunderstorm at the moment). FDiL. is on dog/puppy sitting duties for a fortnight, DS. is back at work so not much will get done before they have to hand over the old place. 

Anyway, the house is sound and in reasonable decorative order. They will be able to put their own mark on it. They have an extra bedroom, a larger lounge plus a huge conservatory. Sheds have to be moved, a large outdoor kennel built, chicken house installed etc. How exciting!

Other than that folks, we are home for a short while and are okay.

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Alpines and busy busy...

It has been a lovely sunny day today although it took a little while to get going. Managed to get a full wash dried, some gardening done and just a little more family history. My shoulders today feel quite a lot better although I didn't get much sleep last night. I felt as though I was sleeping on a bag of potatoes!

The alpine bed outside the kitchen window (which sits on top of a half height log store) is almost in full flower. Here are just a few of them: 

The mama springer spaniel lost one of her two pups, no doubt she is feeling very sad. That solves the problem of choosing as the owners will keep the surviving pup. Ah, ain't life sad sometimes.

I might not post for a few days as we will be busy doing something else. Will post about it when we finish.

Monday 18 June 2012


Welcome to my new follower Compostwoman – nice to have you following even though my endeavours seem small compared to yours.

Not a lot happening here. Been for my monthly medical massage this morning – boy, was it uncomfortable. C. worked away the huge lumps and stretched my muscles back to where they should be sitting. My shoulders were killing me but feel quite a bit better now thank goodness.

I have been on the computer too much doing family history work so shall take a break from it to give me a chance to recover.

Rained overnight here plus this morning so no gardening today. DB and I spent an hour in the front garden yesterday, weeding and dead heading – still more to do but it is looking better. I also cut down my oriental poppies as the rain had flattened them. I know they will reappear later in the year and if I'm lucky, will flower again.

Hope to go for a quick visit to DS. and FDiL. soon. Looking forward to that. They were hoping to get another gun-dog puppy but the mum had a terrible breach birth and only 2 survived. The owner wants one as do DS. & FDiL. plus her parents. Will leave them to sort that out for themselves. Another friend whose working cocker spaniel has just had puppies says they can have one of those instead if they don't want to wait for a springer spaniel. I like both breeds so won't matter to me which they get.

Well that's all for now from Norfolk – have a great day.

Saturday 16 June 2012

Baking and gardening

Yesterday, with getting up so early, I spent a few of those early hours baking. I made some cheese scones plus walnut/sultana ones. I had some tinned pineapple left over so made a basic sponge cake mix (the weight of 3 eggs etc.) I stirred in the pineapple chunks and put them into muffin cases.

This morning I have sown some more mange tout peas, plus red and golden beetroot. I've transplanted my first batch of home grown leek seedlings and collected a few peony flowers, lady's mantle and oregano leaves for a new posy. The only problem with bringing my peony flowers indoors is that they always come with a few ants no matter how hard they are shaken. A few more photographs of flowers have also been added to my 'In my garden' page.

Friday 15 June 2012

Lack of sleep and the back garden

Well, I was more or less asleep until 03.20 when the heavens opened and we had a half hour of very heavy rain. Hopped out of bed eventually as I was worried whether the garden would flood or not. Thankfully it didn't. Made myself a cup of tea around 04.00 as I couldn't get back to sleep, read for a while and settled down.

Nope, couldn't get off again so eventually got up around 05.30.

As the stormy weather was forecast, thought I would take some pictures of our back 'productive' garden, just in case it got pummeled. Again, thankfully (so far at least) it is still standing. I stood more or less in the middle and tried to get all round pictures. 

The first two are west facing - some fruit trees and raised vegetable bed 1. 

This one is coming around from the west to the north facing fence. Bed 2 and 3, the dustbin pond,a seating area and the compost bins are along this fence.

Then we swivel around to the fruit cage on the east facing garage wall. In the pots are a hosta, rosemary and 2 of my 3 tomatillo's.


Then turning again, we come to the south facing back wall looking through the front fruit arch to the raised herb bed.

So what is growing (or trying to grow) in the raised beds. Bed 1 has got a selection of lettuces as well as yellow and red beetroot. These beds keep their nets on until the crop grows too tall.

Bed 2 has a few carrots (plus some that aren't yet through). The other half will have leeks in it. 

Bed 3 has said leeks, broad, runner and french beans, a courgette, a few leftover lettuce and beetroot - oh and 3 blackcurrant cuttings!

 Finally, mini bed 4 has onions and garlic in it. 

In tubs we have 3 tomatoes, some potatoes and the tomatillo's. Then indoors are mini tomatoes, pepper and chilli peppers. We also have flowers to encourage the bees plus lots of fruit. 

Hope you enjoyed the tour! Finally, if you can spot her, here is our goldfinch on her nest at the top of the front fruit arch - she is right in the middle of the picture, a little black, red and white head.

Wednesday 13 June 2012

The front garden

Later on yesterday, I made 2 loaves of bread using a right mixture of wholemeal, cornmeal, white flour and wheatgerm. Came out great.

I've just done the rough costings for the quiche we made and I reckon anywhere between 55p - 85p per portion, depending on how cheap your ingredients are to buy. i.e. free range versus value etc. One portion plus 2 tomatoes filled us up nicely.

Before our walk this morning, I scattered poultry pellets on all the garden. I do this usually only once a year but with the amount of rain we have had lately, might have to do it twice as some things are looking a little more hungry than usual.

Here is a picture of my front window taken from a slightly different angle as the middle of the window which opens, has now got a fly net on it. I'm going to have to cut the oriental poppies down before they have finished flowering as they have been flattened by the wind and rain. They should however, flower again later in the year although with smaller flowers.

We have a border of flowers at all four edges, then a circular path around the middle lot of flowers. The seat and herb table are not often used now we have the blind in the back garden, but it is a nice place to sit and contemplate when I get too hot weeding/cutting back etc. The bee hive compost bin stores extra wood for kindling. 

Tuesday 12 June 2012

Books, yoghurt, quiche and laundry liquid

After sitting in the garden on Sunday having lunch and generally enjoying the moderate warmth, Monday dawned wet and cold and today is not much better although it hasn't started raining yet.

Mind you, we are not, unlike some poor souls in the country, flooded out. For that we are truly grateful and our hearts go out to those affected. Or for that matter, those in New Zealand like Harriet McDoodle Muffin who are still experiencing after shocks from their mega earthquake.

Blooming weather, what on earth is going on? I've decided to bring my miniature tomatoes indoors into the conservatory. They are just coming into flower but seem very unhappy with the cold and wet weather. Hopefully they, along with our still 2” tall chilli plants, might buck up in the added warmth.

Another book off my list has sold and was posted yesterday morning. Then I made 1.4 litres of yoghurt which I have just checked after 24 hours and it has worked and is now setting in the fridge.

Then I concentrated on family tree work most of the morning and to take a break from it, made 4 litres of frugal laundry liquid. Phew!

We attempted an all in one method quiche last night for tea (not a pro point one, but hey, you need a treat in this weather). Below are photographs of us making it, after it was baked and then served up with grilled tomatoes. You can put what meat and vegetables you like into it but we happened to have what Rhonda used. Not really sure if it formed a crust as advertised but it was very nice. We ate half of it and saved the rest for another day. The link to it is here: Impossible Quiche

We made a few little alterations to her method though. We lightly greased our dish and after frying the vegetables put them on the bottom. We blended the flour with the milk and cream thoroughly before adding to the eggs and cheese etc. This was then poured over the vegetables. We cooked it for between 30 - 35 minutes until well risen and set. The middle on our oblong dish didn't rise up so high but it was cooked. Maybe a round dish would be better.