Tuesday 30 August 2016


Not posting much recently as we have been having some quiet time. We have both been very busy in the garden, closing down small areas permanently i.e., removing plants, putting down weed fabric then gravel.

We visited a heather nursery and bought 15 good sized heathers to plant under our fruit trees down the side of the back garden. When I feel like doing so, I shall sort out and plant the two tubs of bulbs we have dug up from closed down areas, mainly snowdrops, crocus and a few daffodils.

We had a quiet weekend as the roads were so busy, we couldn't be bothered to visit anywhere.

The front garden is still in the process of being pared down. I am being brutal in what to keep. The aim is to have lavenders, roses, a few perennials, and a few shrubs (which we currently have) but better spaced and with the gravel beneath them, clear of other plants.

Two plants are in full bloom at the moment but once finished, they too will be grubbed out. A tall plant is just coming into flower. Once finished, it will be moved from the front of the window to near the hedge as it is too tall where it is currently.

The blueberries have finished and will be pruned next Spring as they are out of shape and getting unproductive. The bramble is almost finished and needs pruning and new growth tying in. The Bramley apple needs pruning, then most of the back is finished.

Friday 26 August 2016

A quick rescue

First of all, welcome to Katrina Adams via Bloglovin.

Making two loaves of GF bread for the week ahead, I must have done something different as within a short space of time, they had gone mad and were in danger of escaping from their tins:
I quickly tore up a thick cardboard foil box, wrapped the strips in foil then inserted them down the sides of the tin to hold up the paper, which had previously collapsed under the flow of bread:
Here they are, baked and with their ears removed for our lunch:
Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Thursday 25 August 2016

A scratch meal

Being so hot the other day, I really didn't feel like slaving in a hot kitchen. I had chosen to make a small panful of courgette and pea soup for lunch, mainly because we didn't have any bread so thought this would help fill us!

Come tea time, and the temperature was even hotter. I had a long look inside the fridge to cool down a little and found a courgette:
Two bratwurst:
Three ladlefuls of the soup:
A small plateful of leftover potato:
The potatoes were gently fried with some more courgette, the soup added, put onto a plate with a small topping of grated cheese and the bratwurst.
It was really tasty and we enjoyed it.

Wednesday 24 August 2016

Toilet Brushes and Green Shield Stamps

It is currently 05:20. I woke up at 04:20, hot and bothered, the bedroom temperature being 24C, despite having both the window and curtains open and it being far cooler outside! The birds have just started singing, the clouds are red pink with the rising sun and other than me and one or two neighbours both front and back, all was quiet. Unfortunately, the blasted pigeons have just started up. Gee, they are so noisy.

On our quest to sort out the toilet, and buy a new toilet brush, we noticed again, how things have changed.

Once upon a time, there would be oodles of brushes to choose from, in differing styles and colours to match your bathroom. All hardware shops and department stores, appeared to sell them.

This time we had a real struggle. Most supermarkets and shops sold just one, two if really lucky. Most were in machine pressed metal which looked cheap and nasty and quite frankly, not up to the job with a silly little brush and thin handles. In the end, we went to A-g-s where they had 19 to choose from and duly selected.

Did you know that this shop was formed by the founder of the Green Shield Stamps shops? No, neither did we. Here is a brief history

Who remembers Green Shield Stamps, available from various shops although I only remember them in T-s-o shops?

My sister H., used loads of books of these stamps (physically given out with your shopping, in a similar method to electronic points today). They were used to buy kettles, toasters, cooking implements, pans, pots, and a myriad of other items. Her husband was a heavy smoker and reams of these use to pour out the till when they shopped. Licking sheets of them into a book, then keeping those books safe until exchange time, was quite an operation.

Sometimes, you would only get one or two of them and keeping them safe until you got home and could stick them into the book was quite a task. Ah well.

Tuesday 23 August 2016

The smell detectives!

For quite a few days now, we have had a horrible smell emanating from the bathroom. As we have previously had problems with both the drains in the sink and bath, we tackled those first with washing soda crystals and boiling water. No joy! Then bicarbonate of soda and vinegar - again - no joy!

Nowt for it but to dismantle and clean out the pipes - bit of a smell but nothing too drastic. Put back together and sorted out various tiny leaks for a while - no improvement. Toilet brush was old and smelly so that also went.

One morning, DB thought it was coming from the toilet which I didn't believe as we have bleach blocks in the cystern and descaler is regularly applied under the rim and below the water line. Silly me - he was quite right - very odd though that despite those, it should be smelling.

He checked the cistern first to make sure it wasn't the source of the problem, no, it smelled clean. We both stuck our heads down the loo and the smell was most definately there.

Taking a leaf out of Wendy Gower's 'cleaning the toilet post', he donned rubber gloves, and using neat bleach and an old dish sponge, set to scrubbing as hard as he could under the rim. We live in a very hard water area and he could feel loads of limescale stuck under there. The bleach stayed in place for about 10 minutes, before being flushed away. Quite a bit better.

Then he repeated the scrubbing with limescale remover. Again left for 10 minutes before flushing away. Smell gone.

This morning no smell at all so that was the source. Anyway, after the sponge was thrown away, rubber gloves washed, dried and put into a plastic bag for future use, we decided to repeat maybe every month or two.

Monday 22 August 2016

Well done and garden ...

To Marin Cilic for winning his first ATP 1000 Masters title. Commiserations to Andy who was really struggling all week, with tiredness, shoulder and back injuries and eventually a cold. Onwards and upwards!

Our broad beans, although performing reasonably well, seemed to go from being ready to pick, to being over, in a very short space of time. Coupled with the uber dry conditions, I decided to leave them on the plant to dry.

We podded them between us, laying them on kitchen roll, on a tray to finish drying:
After a few days in the heat of the conservatory, they were inspected for insect holes and have now gone in the jar below for winter use:
Another thing that has struggled this year were the wild mirabelle plums. Hardly any yellow ones to find and very few red. The trees just could not hang onto them due to the dry conditions. These were all we could find after a walk. E., managed to get a similar amount, just about 1 lb each:

We have left them on the windowsill to eat fresh as they finish ripen. We still have several pounds in the freezer from last year. What a contrast!

Friday 19 August 2016

So then...

Where is all this rain we have been promised. I'm sure the rest of you have had enough but our soil is now bone dry down to around 12" (30cm) and all fruit is dropping off as the trees just cannot cope. We have hardly had any good rain for weeks now, just the odd shower then it stops.

I can't keep watering as we are on a meter and the butts are getting more and more empty:(

On a slightly different note, I think I mentioned a while ago that we are both finding it slightly more difficult to keep on top of the garden, particularly this year with it needing constant attention, weeding, cutting back, watering etc. With that in mind, we have begun to close down small areas.

We have two fruit arches in the back garden, each with many flowers growing under the trees. Here is an example which still has to be finished:
Now, everything has been removed including hopefully all the Spring bulbs, manure added as a thin top layer, weed membrane placed, all watered, then gravel added:

So much better and far less work in future. Bulges may appear next year where we have missed things but hopefully, not too many. The trees will now have to cope with wood ash, blood, fish & bone and liquid feeding!

Down the left hand side where there are more fruit trees, again, nearly all plants have been removed:
A few were left that don't grow too high and fall over the cane fence. We shall now plant this up with Autumn, Winter and possibly Spring heathers. Our soil cannot support the summer ones.

Weather permitting, have a good weekend folks.

Wednesday 17 August 2016

Just finished...

Watching the BBC series of Versailles and despite what some critcs have said about it, we have both really enjoyed it. It was announced at the end that a second series had been commissioned, I really hope so.

We went to the seaside over the weekend for our monthly fish & chips and ice cream. Unfortunately, towards the end of eating my chocolate chip ice cream, I felt something hard in my mouth. It was a chunk of my tooth that has been playing up for nearly 18 months:(

Waiting to visit the dentist today, so I can find out whether it can be saved or will need to be removed:( Either way, at the moment, the date for fixing it is 20th September, say what! I am hoping he will concur with me that is too long to wait, but they are pretty well fully booked:(

Watched the conclusion of the diving and cycling last night, very good. Went to bed around 11:30pm but couldn't sleep, full moon always keeps me awake for some reason even though the bedroom is pretty well blacked out.

Four late nights on the trot and the previous three, slept like a log so that was good at least. Nearly got calf cramp in my left leg around 2:00am then got full blown calf cramp in my right leg around 5:00 am. Must have been in a deep sleep then as I couldn't get out of bed in time to stop it, still limping this morning. I hate calf cramp, so blooming painful.

Tuesday 16 August 2016

Bookcase finished ...

At last! I have finished all my painting and polishing and the bookcase has had its new coat of paint plus polish to fit in with the new colour scheme in the dining room. Here it is halfway through. The paler colour is the old version, nice but not right now for the room. The shelves are in the new colour:
This is the original back so we could remind ourselves what it looked like when Nana and Granddad had it:
Here it is finished:
And filled:
I have been waiting to find somewhere to store all my Agatha Christie and Ngaio Marsh books, most of which have lain unopened in a box for years. Unfortunately most were mouldy and have had to be thrown away.  I shall inspect these regularly to make sure none appears on my good books!

Monday 15 August 2016


That is the only way to describe the Olympic tennis final! Points won and lost continually by both players.

Andy Murray eventually won and is now double Olympic Champion, the only tennis player to do so and also, he has done it consecutively, a double piece of history.

John Inverdale has been slammed in the press for mentioning this unique win, but he is quite correct. Yes the Williams sisters have won 4 gold medals but only one gold in singles, the rest were in doubles!

Friday 12 August 2016

Doubles doubles ...

We stayed up to watch Andy Murray/Heather Watson, and Jamie Murray/ Johanna Konta play their respective mixed doubles tennis matches, on tv, at the same time. It involved a lot of channel hopping on the red button!

Unfortunately Jamie and Johanna were just not flowing despite moments of inspiration and eventually lost. Eventually we settled to watching Andy and Heather. They jelled really well, played well and won their match. Andy had had just 45 minutes warning to play.

His singles match was rather a fraught one and honestly, I thought he was out. Johanna, whom I was not expecting to win again Kerber, just couldn't do anything right, became frustrated, and eventually lost.

I really feel for Jamie but he doesn't appear to be in form and there is not a lot you can do about that. I am sure it will be a great learning curve for Johanna and arriving quickly into the top 10 or so takes a bit of getting used to, but I am sure she will get there.

We also watched some of the cycling, swimming and have been enjoying the diving. Enjoy yourseves this weekend folks, and have a good one!

Thursday 11 August 2016

Muffins ...

As the Czar plums this year are a little tart, they need to be cooked before eating. With this in mind and wanting to do a small amount of baking, I opted to make GF Muffins, using the recipe from here.

I put some chopped plums into the bottom of a 6 muffin silicone mould (to try it out), sprinkled on just a little sugar, then added an ice cream scoopful of cake mixture:
Once cooked (and they rose over the tops), they were left in the mould for 5 minutes before turning out. The mixture that was left, had 2 good handfuls of blueberries stirred in:
When cold, half the blueberries onces were frozen. We ate the rest gradually over a few days. Didn't want to risk freezing the plum ones as I though the plums would be too squishy once thawed.

They would make nice puddings as well.

Wednesday 10 August 2016

March Steam Rally

DB visited this last Saturday. I chose not to go, not because I don't like such events but because I never want to spend as long there as he does and I feel guilty for rushing him around!

It was very hot apparently but he enjoyed himself. He wanted to stay to watch tractor pulling, but it kept getting delayed, so he came home.

Herewith some pictures:

Grand! He said there were lots of stalls, selling all kinds of things, including items for the house from the 40's and 50's, which once upon a time, we would have bought, but no more.

It made me think, that in the event of some worldwide catastrophe, these machines would be able to cope.

Tuesday 9 August 2016

Reducing the garden and War Diary update

Firstly, I have updated the War Diary for August and September in Year VI. Hope you enjoy it! Welcome to Jackie Phillips via here.

Although neither of us is decepit just yet, we are both beginning to find keeping on top of the garden more difficult as the years pass.

The front gravel garden has a few shrubs but is mainly herbaceous planting. It needs constant cutting down, digging out etc. When in full bloom, everything looks just a little too squashed in.

We quite often have 3 or 5 of each plant but have now decided to slowly reduce those that are 5 to 2 and those we have 3 of, to just one. If we don't like it, they can be divided up.

In the back garden, everything seems to reach high to the sky or else be leaning forward. We have plants escaping from our neighbours into ours (fair do though as they were originally in our garden and we got rid of them). So we need to be able to find them to remove them as quickly as possible.

Our soil isn't really suitable for summer heathers but is fine for winter ones. They may well replace what we now have, interspersed with low growing summer plants, to give us some colour all year around.

I used to think what a poor show older peoples garden were when I was younger. Now I know why!

Monday 8 August 2016


I awoke at 4:30, hot and with back ache, couldn't get back to sleep so got up to watch the overnight recording. First Jamie and Andy in the doubles, not great(: Cheered up by our swimmers Adam and Jazz:)

Congratulations though to Heather, Johanna, Kyle and Andy in the tennis. Kyle, Johanna and Heather all play their next singles round today, plus Heather and Johanna in doubles. However they are against the Taipei so maybe not too confident but who knows.

I have created myself a to do list for outdoors and indoors so I don't just sit in front of the tv all day!

Friday 5 August 2016

Moving and claiming...

This morning has been a financial morning and at last, for now, we are finished. We have had money tied up in premium bonds but the interest rate on those are so low we are rarely receiving any 'winnings'.

I hunted about on the internet for fixed 1 year bonds (not putting it all in them just in case we have an emergency). Found one that was paying 1.25% but would pay 2.5% if a certain football team win the premier league. We are not supporters but this was the best we could find.

We only transfer £1 to begin with to ensure everything is working before transferring our chosen amount. That way, you don't lose all your money if you inadvertently link to a wrong account. These processes should happen today and tomorrow.

Last year, I cashed in a pension plan and was taxed on doing so. I kept putting off claiming the tax back as it all looked very long winded. Today however, I was in the mood - financial hats on and all that - and a very quick telephone call to the tax office ensued. Result was my money should be with me within a month.

It was so painless I couldn't believe it and chastised myself for not doing it earlier - ah well - we live and learn:)

Are you keeping on top of your savings or do you just ignore them, leaving them where they are? There are always better options if you look.

Have a lovely weekend everyone.

Thursday 4 August 2016

Homegrown Fruit

For a few days now, we have been slowly harvesting our Victoria plums. They are trained over half an arch. They are good this year and this is about the third pick as seen below:
The Czar ones are not so good. They got severely attacked by greenfly very early in the season and it has really affected them. Although they look ripe, they are very sour and may well have to be cooked:
Every 3 days or so, we pick enough blueberries to have on our porridge or cereals, the same with our blackberries.

The blackcurrants need harvesting as and when they ripen, then freezing to turn into jam later on. The gooseberries are now finished but we lost one entire half of a bush to some disease or other. That has all been cut away and the secateurs cleaned just in case!

Wednesday 3 August 2016


I recently celebrated my birthday and received some lovely presents:
Here is what I received - from DB:
DS and DDiL:
Walking Companion E - a small shopping bag about the size of an LP:
And from T:
Super duper!

Tuesday 2 August 2016

Welsh Dresser

The Welsh dresser in the dining room has been painted for quite a while now but needed a final jazz up. I have been waiting for ages to do this and the shoe cupboard transformation enabled us to finish it. Here is the base of it before:
Now finished:
Makes such a difference. They are the same handles as the one on the shoe cupboard.

Monday 1 August 2016

Shoe Cupboard

First of all, welcome to Lorraine Brierley via here. The shoe box is now about finished. It started life as per this post here. Today it looks like this:
DB has since put a good dollop of blue shoe polish on my garden shoes so they don't show up quite so much. The inside bit stores his overalls and outdoor working shoes. I could have put my shoes inside as well (and may do yet) but in the old basket, we both got fed up fighting around each others shoes to get our own out.

Both sections have a piece of fitted carpet tile in them, to help dry damp shoes.

The gap in the top originally had an box file - minus its lid - which I hoped to cover but haven't yet done so. It may or may not end up in there. I am on the lookout for a shallow container, in blue, to put on the top of it just to finish it off.

This cupboard sits to the left of the dining room curtains which hides the bottom of them a little. That is where it needs to sit and we have gradually gotten used to it being there.

The ceramic and chrome handle (one of 5) cost £2.97 each and came from Homebase:

So all in all, the total cost for this box and its transformation was less than £10, even allowing for the petrol to get to Homebase!