Friday 29 May 2015


Welcome to Anne Rutherford via Bloglovin.

For the most part, it has been a horrid day, cold wet and miserable. The sun has only just come out to warm things up. It looks set to be similar for early next week as well! We were so cold I made a pan of carrot and lentil soup for lunch today and tomorrow:
We went into town early to do some essential shopping and on the way home came across huge traffic jams from every direction except the way we were going, thankfully.

Weather being what it is, don't think much gardening will get done so I shall watch/listen to tennis unless they get rained off and also do some family history.

Have a lovely weekend everyone and I hope you manage to do what you need/want to.

Thursday 28 May 2015

Bits and pieces...

Including money we spent on simple home made meals whilst away (DS and DDiL got back too late for us to eat and they ate in the car on the way home) I have just totted up our food and toiletry spending for last month and it came to £125, so we are still managing to cut down from our regular old amount of £160 per month.

Hopefully, when the proper summer weather finally arrives, we should be eating more salad based meals which should cut it down further but we shall see. If it does reduce more, I would hope to use some of the spare to top up on things ready again for winter (packets, tins and sundries).

Checking out how much the front garden has changed since we were away, I took some photographs of things that will soon be finishing and others that should open up next week sometime.
Iris Sibirica:
Oriental Poppy with a bee just about to land on the second one from the right:
Euphorbia Griffithii:
Artemesia? - it has very small insignificant lemon flowers and has a habit of sprawling all over the place but after laying the stone circle, seems to be resting on one of the larger stones which is helping:
Pale Pink Double Peony:
Assorted Aqualegia:
Seeds head from the clematis on the oil tank:
I'll show some more once they decide to open. The front garden is a late Spring early Summer garden but I am trying to extend the season, little by little when I can.

In the back garden

Again, this came on leaps and bounds whilst we were away. The rhubarb transplanted from the front where is wasn't doing very well has finally died after putting up a rather feeble fight. I think the crown was just exhausted so shall invest in another one. The autumn raspberries despite potting into sunken containers still seems sickly though some I gave away are doing well. Can't work it out as they are not in my soil and everything else (except the old rhubarb) is thriving. Ah well.

The black sunken dustbin pond area has really grown:
I love all the moss growing on the stones surrounding the bin - just lovely.

Two of our older apple trees grown along the fence have been fruitless for a few years. I gave them a good talking too and both have thrown out two small bunches of fruit. I'm hoping they stay on long enough for me to identify them. Once I think is either a James Grieve or a Coxs Orange Pippen. The other could be Fiesta or Sunset but the labels have long gone.

The Spartan tree planted 2 years ago has one small bunch on it so I hope they stay on as well but it might still be a little young.

Apples around the front artchway are doing well:
The red pear likewise - it is covered in fruit-lets for the moment:
The tiny trained Conference Pear is also looking good for now:
I obviously say at the moment for most things as the June drop will take quite a lot of these babies away then after that, I must make myself thin which I usually forget to do. The result of which is many small apples. I hate thinning after the June drop as the trees are so small it doesn't leave us much fruit.

Everything in the fruit cage is also doing well. The gooseberries are being inspected for sawfly each day, so far so good. The loganberry which was finally moved in there this Spring is full of flowers and the Bramble is also sending some out. The Blueberries look a little sorry for themselves as I pruned them last year as they were spreading over the path:(

Wednesday 27 May 2015

Our age...

Is definitely catching up with us, must be the after effects of a hard working week. We went for a walk around Sheringham to see all the beautiful rhododendrons, pictures from that will appear on my walking blog sometime this week.

Tonight however, we are both pooped, more so than usual. We are planning on going out doing some family history soon so have decided to rest up for a few days and only do what needs doing and no more!

Glorious day today, a cool wind but that too warmed as the day progressed. The nights are still cool so my tomatoes are still surrounded by fleece - when will the warmer nights appear?

Ah well, I'm sure the weather will sort itself out soon then we'll all be moaning it's too hot!

Tuesday 26 May 2015

Normal service resumed ...

Firstly welcome to Viv Wild via here and Chrissie M. via Bloglovin.

We have returned from DS and DDiL's house, where we have been for 8 days, busy painting, cleaning, tidying, gardening etc, ready for their house to be valued this coming weekend. Getting up at 05:45 every morning and going to bed around 10pm rather than our usual 11pm took a little getting used to but we managed.

Being at home last night in bed, should have been great but when travelling, I never seem to sleep well that night. Hopefully tonight, I shall be well and truly zonked:)

One of the area's we decorated was the hallway skirting plus one door where the previous owner had inserted a cat/small dog flap. Getting this area prepared took nearly an hour on my knees, hence the kneeling pad.

The walls needed F-o- tape putting on them (you know the stuff I mean, not masking tape), the floor needed protecting, plus the big insert of a door mat:

Although the flap area seems dominant here, once painted, it blended in far more.
The kitchen and bathroom were decorated, lots of stuff put away into boxes ready for moving sometime soon. Wallpaper was stuck back onto the main bedroom wall where it have come away.
Part of the hallway had already been painted by DDiL's mum, but some areas's were just too tall for her so we had brought our large ladder to finish off the stairwell but ran out of time.

In the end, we taped off the end previously painted which was at a junction in the wall. We luckily found the correct shade of paint left behind by the previous owner. Once two coats had been applied, it all blended in. Though the hall is now in two slightly differing colours, as a whole, it looks okay.

The conservatory (which is their utility room) was getting sorted so that was cleaned as well - what an absolute pain high ceilings are in these things, poor DB was sent up the ladder to clean the internal roof:(

The previous day I had washed down the outside of it but unfortunately felt my back give way almost towards the end of washing, so for two days, I wasn't much use at all. Luckily I was very stiff and in discomfort rather than in agony.

DS had seeded one area of lawn where a shed had been standing, but the old veg plot was weed infested and needed digging over - that took us 7 days but with DS helping DB towards the end, it was done and seeded.

The raised wooden beds were painted and planted and several skip trips ensued to clear everything out.

The front fascia, doors, window sills, gutters etc were cleaned out and washed. DS climbed on their garage roof to push leading back in. All slabs both front and back were power washed. I had wanted to get the front bed weeded and planted to add 'kerbside' appeal but we just ran out of time.

All in all, a good weeks work. They are both going to try and continue sorting out and thinning out 'clutter' each evening when they return from work.

Friday 22 May 2015

Working hard...

Sorry for the lack of posts and pictures but we are still around and working hard. We have been helping out DS and DDiL get ready for a house valuation. For 12 hours each day we are in charge of our three grand dogs - never realised how much they want to be around you, especially when trying to do things like gardening and sowing grass seeds. I reckon if we could have attached gardening tools to them, they would have been happy to help! We have now erected a small fence to keep them away from the lawn preparation and grass seeding area, don't want any seed related injuries.

Mind you, they are so well trained it isn't really a hardship to be around them. They have become quite good at interpreting our commands which are probably slightly different to their normal ones:) Also, they sleep a good part of the day as well which gives us time to do outside painting jobs where they need to be absent to avoid getting painted!

We get up around 5:45am with everyone, slowly wake up with a hot and strong cup of tea whilst they have a 40 minute walk. Once their mum and dad have gone to work, we begin working. Decorating, gardening, skip and shop runs are done each day. Actually it is probably a good practice run for any future grand children that might come along one day. Mum and dad return after a long working day (plus a long drive time there and back).

The dogs are fed and sorted out, we have time for a chat and maybe a bit of MarioCart racing, then we all retire around 10pm!

Wednesday 20 May 2015

New bread recipe

Welcome to Julie Attwood and Aino via Bloglovin.

My sister emailed the other day asking if I had a decent rye bread recipe. It isn't something I often bake and when I do, do so by jigging around a normal bread recipe. Off I went onto The Iowa Housewife site as I do trial quite a few of their recipes. I found this one here

I adapted it to this, the figures in brackets will be those I shall use another time to get two loaves:

540g Plain Flour - not bread flour (720g)
300g rye flour (400g)
1 tsp molasses (1 1/2 tsp)
60g butter (80g)
540ml water (720ml)
1 sachet of yeast - 7g (2 sachets 14g)
2 tsp salt (2 1/4 tsp)
1 tsp caraway seeds - ground (1 1/2 tsp)

First I melted the butter and molasses in half the water, then topped it up with cold to get the right temperature.

The rest of the dry ingredients were mixed together then the water mixture added. I found I need to use another 50ml - 70ml of water to bring it all together. After being kneaded it was put into a greased bowl and left to rise.

I could see afterwards that it was not as much dough as I normally use for two tins so I cut 3/4 of it and formed into a ball which went into one bread tin. The other bit was rolled into 4 balls. Both were left to rise again.

Once risen, the bread tin went into a 220C oven for 34 minutes. Once out, I turned it down to 200C and baked the rolls for 20 minutes. I forgot to dab the tops of it all with water to give them nice shiny tops!
As you can see, it looks absolutely nothing like theirs but does taste nice and the crumb is good. Considering I only used half the yeast, texture wise, it isn't any different to our normal bread. I normally reduce the yeast down as I don't like to use too much. However, as you can see from the adapted amounts in bold, I would use two sachets due to the amount of rye flour.

Tuesday 19 May 2015

Update and front garden

The menu tab has now been updated with meals from the last two weeks. How remiss of me!

Normally, when I show you pictures of the front garden, it is taken from inside looking through the front window. You probably miss about 1/2 of it so here it is from different angles.

The first one is near our back garden gate, right hand side of the house, facing forward and to the left:
This next one is from the top right, inside my archway, facing the house, looking right towards the driveway:
Here I am standing at the top of our driveway, which is on the right of the house as we arrive, looking left across the garden to the oil tank, back gate and to the front of the house as I view it from here:
This final picture is standing halfway down the driveway, back to the front of the house, looking to the right (and archway) of the garden.
Other than the newly laid stone circle and the pathways of gravel, in a few weeks time, most of the gravel in these growing areas will be hidden.

The front garden is predominantly an early summer garden but it does have an increasing number of daffodils and snowdrops, and a few late summer/autumn plants.

Monday 18 May 2015

Pineapple 'Muffins'

Welcome to Amy Gillespie via Bloglovin.

I call these muffins simply because they are baked in muffin cases in a muffin pan. The recipe though is a simple Victoria Sandwich cake, using 4 eggs as the weight, then weighing all other ingredients to that weight (except the pineapple).

I did this as an all in one mix, which is how I do all my cakes. A small tin of pineapple chunks was drained (save the juice), patted dry then diced but saving 4 chunks for slicing and putting on the top before baking.

Here they are ready to go in the oven:
Fresh from the oven:
Oops, did you spot the extra 4 little ones?

One slight problem with this bake was that I didn't have a block of St--k margarine which I always use. As our shop was done in Lidl, we opted to buy their version, Vita D'Or baking fat. Looked similar but the main difference (and the reason I shan't be using it again) was that when I removed the buns from the tin, the bases of each one were swimming in liquid fat. Never had that before and don't want it again. You can also see how dark brown the bases are inside the cases - don't get that very often either!

Anyway, they tasted great.

Friday 15 May 2015

Shopping and baking

We were out first thing this morning, catching the end of work traffic in the process, to do a top up shop.

Normally, top up shopping is food and a few toiletries but this shop, totalling £30.50, was primarily non essential food items. You know the kind of thing, soy sauce, bicarb of soda, similar things which you need in the background of the food cupboards but which only get used every now and then.

As it turned out, most of these ran out within the last week or so. Apart from those, only milk, cheese, eggs, butter and fish fingers were food items - ah well!

Today has turned out lovely, sunny, warm and with a gentle breeze unlike yesterday, which was cold and windy. We didn't get the rain but looking at the forecast for next week, may get some light rain on several days. Mind you, those forecasts often change on a daily basis so who knows.

We have run out of cake, I know, a calamity! In the mood for something to take us through a few days, I have opted for another malt loaf. The fruit in it this time, are raisins, sultana's, re-hydrated pineapple and pear. Fresh out of the oven, here it is:

Once cold, it will be wrapped and stored for 2 - 3 days before being squidgy enough to eat:)

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Thursday 14 May 2015


I awoke this morning in my usual relaxed and amenable state of mind and went downhill from there! Technology not working properly sometimes starts me off, such as the touch screen on the computer working only when it feels like it:(

The kitchen and dining room windows have needed cleaning for quite a while so I decided to do them, couldn't find the cloth or squeegee, - chunt, chunt, chunt!

Finally found things that had wandered and did the job. Ah, that's better.

Wanted to check tennis games for this afternoon, not working properly but luckily, DB's computer is. Decided to sort myself out and do some baking - DB pointed out that in my present mood, it was perhaps not best - he knows me so well, so I didn't. Good decision!

It is cold here so no gardening today, tomatoes back in the protection on the greenhouse. The sun keeps trying to come through but is being kept at bay by the clouds. Thankfully, we might miss the approaching rain.

I've forgotten to take tonights tea out the freezer:(  Ah well, swings and roundabouts, swings and roundabouts. Tomorrow is another day!

Tuesday 12 May 2015

Vegetable beds

Welcome to Jackie Rockett via Bloglovin and Michelle Palmer via here.

Almost done! All the raised beds and most of their protective net tops have been painted black and very nice they look as well. DB helped with the net tops as my back was once again pinging from being on my knees for 4 consecutive days, at odd angles, but thankfully, it isn't painful.

Here they are in all their shiny black glory. Greenery seems to look much better against black than the previous dull brown don't you think? This is bed one, completely finished:
Currently growing in bed 1:
Two half rows of different lettuce. One long row of carrots - not showing yet. Two rows of radish (I planted the thinning's and so far they are growing well) and a few peas. Freshly sown are some more radish, carrots and Florence fennel.
In bed 2:
Three rows of crimson flowered broad bean, a slightly thin area of peas (more peas have been pushed into the gaps). The two seed trays contain flowers seedlings of things you can't normally buy ready grown.

Bed 3:
Currently contains 8 potatoes. My seedling leeks, currently in Bed 1 will be put into here once the potatoes have finished.

Haven't bothered showing you the small bed 4 as hardly anything is showing in it at the moment. It does have spinach and beetroot seeds sown but very few are through!

The newly painted greenhouse bench on the patio has on it:
Seven tomatoes of two varieties, Bambino and Fantasia. In the big green tub are two courgettes (I know, two shouldn't be in there but I will try). I hope to encourage them to grow upright and they will be tied in as and if they go. They are the variety that grow cricket type ball courgettes.

The courgettes will be covered by fleece on cold nights and the tomatoes will go back into my mini green-house on similar nights.

Nothing to see down the driveway but yesterday I sowed my first climbing French and runner beans. Five of these tomatoes will end up down there, the other two will go into large pots.

Sunday 10 May 2015


Well done Andy Murray on winning the Madrid Open. You played superbly.

Friday 8 May 2015

V.E. Day

This day 70 years ago, was Victory in Europe day, when the war in Europe came to a halt and people enjoyed themselves in many different styles of celebration. For some people today, the Election results may well bring some jubilant feelings, but for many more, a huge sense of despair. No more politics talk now. I'm going to get my dustpan and brush out, sweep up the debris and carry on.

Some celebrations for V. E. Day included street parties.  Can you guess who this little chap is, sitting at the end of the table, just turning around?:
Here he is again, having turned back:
Yes, it is D.B. Ah bless!

Thursday 7 May 2015

An odd in out kind of day

It has been one of those odd, slow kind of days today. Had a leisurely breakfast (porridge), checked on line to see how Andy Murray had played. I was going to watch his match last night, due to start at 8.30pm. Every match before his seemed to go to 3 sets and/or a tie break in each set. By 11pm I gave up and went to bed. Turned out he didn't start to play until midnight our time, and didn't finish until nearly 2am.

We don't normally have access to sports tv apart from what is shown on terrestrial tv. However we found a way to watch tennis on tv. You can pay £6.99 per match, or £14.99 for a month or about £90 for the year. At first we used to pay for the odd match, then realised if we timed it correctly, we could pay for a month and see 3 venues worth of men's tennis. Have to remember though to cancel the subscription else it keeps coming out the bank!

We thought that was a fair amount of money as after this period of time, the next few months will be on our normal tv channels. After that, they play in countries with too large a time difference so we don't bother. We connect up DB's computer to the tv and watch via the internet (don't have that smart a tv).

A load of washing was hung out, then we went to vote. From there, onto hospital for DB to have an eye check (arrived 1/2 an hour before appointment). Two hours later we emerged and came home:( The washing had been rained on so was left out to dry. Ate a much needed lunch and had a cup of tea.

This afternoon was my 'big' hair day (colour, cut, blow dry) as opposed to a 'small' hair day (cut and blow dry). She arrived 1/2 an hour earlier than expected - I had the wrong time as she showed me her book:(

The colour had just been put on my head when I had to dash out as a huge dark rain cloud came over.
DB missed it walking back from the doctor's surgery. Hair done, we finally settled back into a more normal afternoon mode.

Tonight, I shall watch Andy on the internet again, although the matches seem to be going the same way again as yesterday so it might be early evening as opposed to the later afternoon slot.

Wednesday 6 May 2015

Pruning our clematis

Welcome to Susanna via Bloglovin. I have put a link here which takes you to the British Clematis Society web site on how and when to prune clematis.

The one I have growing over the oil tank is Clematis "Macropetala Wesselton" a Category 1 requiring no pruning unless necessary:

To the right of the front window are two plants,. The first is Clematis "Veronica's Choice" - a Category 2 requiring a light prune back to healthy shoots in February. It can be pruned again after flowering to produce new shoots and flowers. This is a strange clematis as it has double flowers early, followed by single flowers later on:
Right next to it is Clematis Vitecella John Howells - a Category 3 which requires hard pruning back to healthy shoots in February. That is unfortunate because at that time of year, I won't know which is which so shall have to remember to prune at maybe a metre or so instead of my usual 30 cms:

The one growing to the left of the front window is this one:
I  have no idea what it is called unfortunately. This year is will be climbing but as I cut it back each February (don't know it that is correct for this un-named one but it is currently full of flower buds), I sometimes let it climb around the ground and over other plants.

Tuesday 5 May 2015

Flowers and potting on!

Yesterday was just glorious - today is due to be wet, windy then sunny!

I took the opportunity yesterday afternoon to pot on my tomatoes, some peppers and the two courgette plants. Despite not sowing until the 1st week of April had gone, they have still grown well.

After two pot changes they are now in the ones they ought to be able to stay in until planted out, with the exception of the peppers which will need potting on when they are larger:

The quince bush just outside the dining room patio door is again in full bloom - marvellous:
The 4 new pots on the fence above the bins are growing well:

The clematis I planted last year at the base of the oil tank is in full bloom. It had just one flower last year but has many more. I am hoping to not only train it around the tank on netting, but also onto log store 1:

When the flowers have finished, it also gives beautiful hairy seed heads but I am never sure whether to leave them on - any ideas anyone? Flowering this early would normally mean it should be cut back eventually but obviously, I don't want to do this yet otherwise it won't grow where I would like it to.

Monday 4 May 2015

Updates And a little advertising and Congratulations

I have been busy planning our meals for the next fortnight, a mixture of mainly home made frozen and a few fresh. The meals are mainly hot ones as having looked at the weather for the next fortnight, the highest temperature foreseen, is 17C. A few things with coleslaw will also be eaten.

Well, we really needed the rain and after the forecast had promised us some for several days, it finally arrived yesterday. Not as hard as first hoped, but steady. That is the kind of rain the garden needs, steady and slow allows it to permeate down where needed.

A few more tops and inner bits of the last 2 raised beds were also painted, knowing the rains were due. Once we have a few dry days to dry out the wood, the last 2 vegetable beds should be painted and finished.

One of the things I like about Shades (oh advertising) wood paint, especially the Black Ash, it that it puts a nice sheen onto the wood, which seems to make the colour last far longer than normal fence paint.

Had hoped to watch Andy Murray in his first clay court final in Munich, but their rain was heavier than ours. So, everyone who needs to be, has stayed behind so that they can hopefully play today!

Well done Andy on your first clay court win!

Friday 1 May 2015

Painting vegetable raised beds

Having bought two tins of black Shades wood paint, I set to on the raised vegetable beds. Only the smaller bed 4 was completed before the rains began, a few days ago:
A few days later, I managed to get the more shaded sides of beds 1 and 3 completed before the rains - again:
These are the sides that have plants growing in front so they needed doing first. On top of bed 1, you can see the painted top of a greenhouse bench where I grow peppers and other such things that need a little shelter but good sunshine.

The weather deteriorated and the beds became damp. Painting was halted until today when I began on the rest of Bed 1.

During these few days of cooler temperatures, I have had the oven on to make two small loaves of brown and malt extract bread, two quiches and two corned beef pasties:

That's all for now folks, have a lovely weekend, no matter the weather brings!