Sunday 30 September 2018

Feeling better...

I started to feel slightly unwell on the drive back from DS's last Monday. Can't pin pick the time but when almost home, I started to feel nauseous. I wasn't sure if it was food we had eaten on the way home but DB was fine and we had the same thing.

We had eaten a well known takeaway pizza on Saturday. I was fine but DB had an upset gut, strange isn't it?

It slowly got worse until I wasn't sure whether I would throw up or not:( It didn't stop me wanting to eat but I was far worse after eating. Then I started to get intermittent mild bone pain that moved around during each day and from day to day.

Thankfully, today, the nausea has gone but slight bone pain remains. Sometimes in the shoulders and spine, other times knees and ankles. Then arm bones, back to the spine and shoulders, neck then all leg bones. My nose is slightly scabby inside and is uncomfortable so guess it is some sort of weird virus. Luckily I have a special nose spray so that is helping.

Actually attempting a roast chicken dinner today, so we shall see how that goes!

Saturday 29 September 2018

A weird start to the day.... Updated

The bedroom light only came half on and remained very dull.

The temperature outside when we got up was 1.7C and the red light was on the boiler - it was off. Even though we hadn’t got the heating switched to come on we had no hot water:(

Switching the tv on it came on and off continually before finally switching itself off:(

Then the electricity came on/off several times before finally going off for a few minutes! Alien invasion, Electro Magnetic Pulse wave??

After breakfast, DB tested all the tv connections but couldn’t find anything amiss. We called our emergency line on boiler servicing and the boss himself is coming soon. Switching the tv on it decided to work and is still working at the moment, phew!

I started our bread, DB took Ruby for a walk before going out and I am waiting for the repair man...

Boiler fixed, the fuel pump was leaking onto the coil, who knew! Bill to come:(

Chipped windscreen needs replacing now, more expense...

Friday 28 September 2018

A wash bag - advert!

DDiL at the weekend, showed us a dog wash bag that her mum had given her. There are many out there on the market, varying in price. We sent for the same version and used it for the first time yesterday. To be honest, we were getting a bit fed up with all the dog hairs on our wet laundry!

Here is said bag:
This one measures about .75cm x .54 cm so is quite large. You fill it with her washing, put the detergent inside the bag (a bit of a balancing act) and throw it in. Once the wash has finished you unzip it, take her washing out, giving it a good shake before hanging on the line. The bag is then turned inside out and given a good shake and also hung up to dry. My machine was actually clear of dog hairs afterwards - brilliant.

Ruby made us laugh yesterday as she was invited onto DB's lap whilst he was sat on an upturned bucket - don't ask:
She moved just before I took this photo but she was actually sitting with her bum in the air against his chest whilst she figured out how to get into a small space. 7 months old now.

We both said yesterday that we were glad the first 6 months are over as I for one, was far more stressed than envisaged. We think she is getting ready to come into her first heat so that should be interesting.

Thursday 27 September 2018

Another glorious day here

Although it dawns quite cool/cold depending on the overnight temperature, yesterday and today have been glorious. Bright blue sky, warm sunshine and just a little wind.

Ruby is enjoying being out in the back garden once more. Laying in the sun or chasing goodness knows what.

She really is changing now. She waits at the back door until we step and only comes out when we say "okay". When she sees us leaving the garden to go back inside, in she comes (mostly). She sits and waits for the command to eat. Comes back on a whistle or her name when off lead.

We have been teaching her scent (nose) work using vanilla. Currently two pods are in a vitamin pill container with one small hole punched out. Today I added a piece of rag with more vanilla sprinkled on it. When we have finished, we put tape over the hole to try and stop the smell leaking out.

One of us holds her whilst the other hides the container. She then gets to sniff our hand where we also put a minute bit of vanilla scent from the container.. We walk around with her whilst she sniffs the air and carpets, usually finding the container quickly. She doesn't pick it up, merely shows us what she has found.

So far, we are doing 3 to 5 hides in various rooms, under things, inside cupboards, on shelves so she has to use her nose rather than sight. Apparently we can do this inside and outside (when dry) for up to 20 minutes. It seems to tire her out for quite a while afterwards.

Tuesday 25 September 2018

Over the hills....

First of all, welcome to Liz Leigh via Bloglovin.

We went away for the weekend to visit DS and DDiL plus dogs. Ruby and Miss D, her sister, almost played non-stop. Master L also joined in when they allowed him to, but Mama and Miss S declined.

The weather proved far better than predicted and we all went for a long woodland walk Saturday afternoon.

Sunday we went out for a nice meal at the relatively local eatery. I had a very nice slow roast belly pork but compared to the others, mine was the equivalent of a starter - ah well.

We had only just started to come back yesterday when we hit standing traffic, just after we could have turned off. One hour later, we were moving and by then, were on the hunt for a toilet to say the least. It took just over 5 hours to get home rather than 3 1/2 to 4.

Ruby was very good, sleeping most of the way. We stopped a couple of times to let her out whilst we had a drink and something to eat.

My stomach started to play up on the way home and I didn't feel very well later in the evening or overnight but feel fine this morning.

A very cold night and quite cool this morning. Poor Ruby doesn't know what to do with herself having had company for 3 days but she'll soon get over it.

Friday 21 September 2018


I didn't get many quinces this year, but that was a vast improvement on last year.  Our tree is trained around an arch which it is not particularly happy about. That is where it has to be so it can sulk or fruit!
They would normally be larger than this and slightly more golden. I think the size is to do with the 50 hot days without rain in the summer. The colour probably suggests they are slightly unripe but all the fuzz had come off them. That usually indicates they are ready to pick if not to eat.

As is their nature, they are as hard as rocks. They will sit on the Welsh dresser until more yellow and they develop their distinctive aroma. I shall find something nice to do with them.

Thursday 20 September 2018

Life and limb....

DB has been on the conservatory roof, doing repairs to tiles:
and cleaning it. Herewith a before and after of the gutters and weather boarding:
This part of the roof has been cleaned, the brown stains don't come off. It is also so windy more moss is falling as he cleans:
Still to do:
Like all of us of a certain age, the thought of getting up and stepping on, is the worse part of the job.

Wednesday 19 September 2018

The kitchen smells heavenly...

First of all, welcome to Jeny Jesus Diaz Castillo via Bloglovin.

I am making Elderberry Syrup for Winter. The scent of cloves, cinnamon and ginger are permeating the whole house - wonderful!

I was given this recipe so don't know who to attribute it to.

Fork elderberries from stalks, then hand pick off any remaining tiny stalks, none should remain. Pick out any green berries then place berries in a pan. Cover to 1cm above the berries, bring to a boil then simmer for 20 minutes:

Strain through a sieve lined with muslin or hang from a net and strain into another pan or large measuring jug:
Squeeze to get as much juice as possible:
This will stain your hands so wear plastic gloves or give a couple of good washes afterwards!

For each 1 pint of juice add 1/2 lb sugar, 12 cloves, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or half a stick) and 1 teaspoon ground ginger:
Bring to the boil and gently boil for 30 - 45 minutes until you see a change from water to syrup. Don't overboil otherwise you'll end up with a jelly consistency which you don't want nor will you be able to do the final sieving! Keep dipping a spoon in and when it just about coats the spoon it is ready.

Sieve into a muslin lined jug to remove any whole spices. Add 1 tablespoon of Brandy per 1/2 pint of syrup. This is my own addition as I find it not only adds to the taste but helps it store longer:
We like to drink this after a cold walk, 1 tablespoon in a cup of boiling water. It also goes great on top of yoghurt, porridge (turns it purple) in a smoothie or you can eat it by the spoonful.

Tuesday 18 September 2018

Another visit to the vets!

I think we shall have to take out a season ticket!

Ruby had seen the vet nurse 2 weeks ago to have her teeth checked after we started cleaning them - AOK.

Last week we had a vet visit as she had been bitten close to her eye and was bleeding lightly. Once healed though, we noticed a small patch of fur was coming away - thoroughly checked - kerching!

This week she decided to eat a small bee and got stung in her mouth. Neither of us heard a yelp. DB was on the conservatory roof and I was inside. She had just had her lunch and I had gone outside to pick up her bowl and noticed the start of a big fat lip:
We phoned up the vets for advice and they requested to see her as it was in her mouth. DB managed to get the sting out. Steroids and hayfever tablets prescribed - kerching again! In the end, she looked like she had a whole boiled egg in her cheek.

A steroid and hay-fever tablet was pushed into a meaty treat which she downed in one and is now having a sleep. She has to go back for a check up which is covered by the first fee thank goodness, plus she needs a couple more pills.

To add insult to her injury, she wet her bed (side effect apparently of her pills). Both she, her bedding and the room smelt ugh. Gave her rear end a quick wash and dry, plus her bedding. An unusual start to our morning which a has thrown us off!

Monday 17 September 2018

Oh dear....

We noticed that the door between the dining room and back bedrooms was open, despite us shutting it twice. I think the wind must have blown it open.

When children (and dogs) go quiet, you know something is amiss. I went into one of the back bedrooms and found this:
Looking further up the line:
Closer again:
Now, it isn't entirely the fault of Ruby as we already had a tear in the net that I hadn't repaired. I must admit, I wasn't at all mad, finding it quite funny, as it reminded me of the toilet paper advert. You know the one, the labrador puppy running away with the toilet roll unwrapping behind it.

Ah well, now it will have to be replaced. We shall keep what is left in case any small pieces are needed in future.

Friday 14 September 2018

Using the damaged red pears

As some of our red pears have started to fall and get damaged by landing on the gravel (and no, we can't put anything down else Ruby will run away with it), I thought how to use them - pear crumble was the decision.

3 pears were prepared, plus 3 plums and added to a dish plus just 1 teaspoon of sugar over the plums:
Our weekly loaf had nearly finished baking, this time white seeded:
Once out, the oven temperature was reduced to 160C and in went the crumble for 40 minutes:
The crumble topping had the luxury of butter and ground almonds added (not a wartime usage) but it could have been made with margerine and had less topping put on it!

Have a lovely weekend everyone!

Thursday 13 September 2018

Stretching another meal

Our meat ration for 2 adults for one week would now equate to £7.46, excluding ham or bacon, see War Diary Rations page. 1/7th of this would have had to be taken in corned beef and/or Spam, equating to £1.80 for us both, leaving £5.76 for the week. I doubt we would even use that now.

Anyway, using 400g of Lidl stewing steak £2.59, 1 onion 7p, 1 stock cube 15p, a large carrot and 2 medium potatoes, estimated around 15p, cornflour for thickening the gravy 1p = £2.97.

The meat and onion were slowly simmered for 1 1/2 hours before the diced carrot was added. 10 minutes later the diced potato went in. When everything was cooked, it was strained, saving the juices for gravy.

The mixture was divided between two dishes and a handful of peas and sweetcorn added to both (around 10p) along with 1/2 a ladle of thickened gravy:
This brings the total at the moment to £3.07. One was covered and added to the freezer. The other in the war (would have had its topping put on and cooked to eat the same day if fuel was short which it often was).

Pastry could be added, or scones to make a savoury cobbler. We will share one, once topped, for our main meal. The other, including saved gravy, will be thawed, have a topping put on and eaten another day.

So then, without the topping each dish cost £1.53 ish for two adults. Half each of this, with a topping, will fill us.

Wednesday 12 September 2018

Returning to my wartime diary roots with a cheap meal

There is something magical about the cooler and darker nights and mornings that comes with autumn. It is a time I really look forward to each year and often find myself returning to my wartime diary roots to make things even more frugal and filling on the food front.

Here is one such meal from ingredients to the finished product, though just half the stock cube was used:
Beans 49p, tomatoes 29p, mushrooms 99p, 3/4 pepper 24p, dash of tomato puree, garlic and 1/2 a stock cube and some curry paste 50p, an apple from our tree free, estimated rice for all the meals 15p = £2.66.

This amount gave us two meals, plus enough for another two meals each:
So £2.76 divided by 6 = 43p per meal, rounded down. Quite good I think.

Tuesday 11 September 2018

Sandringham Country Show

We drove over to this on Sunday, as we both enjoy it. Ruby stayed at home as she is not up to walking around for 5 hours yet.

It was amazing how many very young puppies were being dragged around, desperately trying to stop and lay down. No one had water for most of them. They had their tails between their legs, eyes on stalks, clearly overwhelmed by it all.

I got to speak to a dog trainer I met last year about a bad habit Ruby has and he gave us some advice. We put it into practice and shall see how we go.

We planned on visiting the stalls as I needed a new waterproof coat for autumn and winter. I finally settled on one of these here.

I was going to buy a pink one but every time we see someone out in bright pink, dogs are always barking at them! I wanted green but they didn’t have my size, so settled for brown.

We were also after some wet weather boots for DB but they had none of what he wanted in his size, so he will order online. Finally we bought some wax to re-do boots and my waxed cotton hat as I mistakenly left it in the conservatory all summer and it looks very sorry for itself.

We also bought two things for Ruby for training.

We had the worst Bratwurst ever, chips not much better. At least we only bought a portion to share:(

Monday 10 September 2018

Through the front window...

It looks more like late September early October in my front garden:
Everything arrived early and is finishing earlier than usual. It is full of weeds as I just can't remember to get out there and do it with Ruby being around.

She can't go out there as it is not secure for her and we have a few roads around us. Also, some of the more dangerous plants for her, have been moved from the back into the front garden, so another reason not to have her around in there.

Whilst she is sleeping, we both try to either get on with jobs which would be slower were she around our feet, or else, just sit and have some down time!

Friday 7 September 2018

Time is passing....

You can tell Autumn has arrived with dewy mornings no matter how sunny and warm the day before was. The sun is lower in the sky. This means cloths drying takes longer as the sun doesn’t reach the line until later and disappears behind the garage earlier. The lower sun also heralds squinting whilst driving!

Ruby had a final vet nurse visit yesterday just to check if our teeth cleaning is having any effect. Apparently it is. She saw the nurse who did socialisation classes, who was amazed at how much she had grown. Ruby certainly wouldn’t lay on our knees comfortably now:)

The red pears are starting to fall. Unfortunately they land on gravel which damages them. I think we shall have to harvest them all soon. Pears ripen best off the tree so it will be a bit of a race to see which happens first, rotting or ripening!

Have a great weekend everyone.

Wednesday 5 September 2018

A recap on worm towers

Joy asked me what a worm tower is so thought I would recap it here. DB and I were starting to struggle with full size compost bins so built worm towers into each raised bed, see here.

They aren’t just designed for raised beds but can be placed throughout the garden. Rather than add your kitchen waste to a large bin, you distribute it between your towers. Worms adore paper so our shredded paper also gets added, but needs watering otherwise it is too dry for them. Any rubbish from the surrounding area also goes in but large scale garden cuttings etc goes into our council garden bin.

We give them a gentle tossing every now and then to aerate it but don’t believe that is necessary, then more compost is added. You can either distribute the top layers when ready or just keep feeding and the worms move it around for you. Although you start your bin with compost worms, I have also found some garden worms in there as well, they do go in and out of it.

In winter, we feed them less kitchen scraps but more damp paper to help keep them insulated against the cold. Same goes for the carpet tile on top.

Tuesday 4 September 2018


Blast! I was hoping the wasps wouldn't find our greengages but of course they have. They have ruined about 10 so I have left those on and picked the rest early. I also harvested all the large chilli peppers from the two plants I grew this year.

They are now in the conservatory to ripen:
It would have been no good leaving them out as the wasps would destroy the rest of the greengages (only a few this year off my espallier grown tree) and the nights were getting too cold for the chilli plants.

The cordon arch grown red pear tree is doing well:
They have to ripen off the tree so will be gathered in another couple of weeks if necessary. We also have a few quinces on our small arch grown tree:
We have a few russett apples and a few cooking apples growing as well, despite a few holes in them!

So even though the vegetable garden has mostly been rubbish this year, the fruit has performed quite well.

Monday 3 September 2018

Brexit stockpiling...

Rhonda for her weekend reading section last week, had a very good link to this, see here.

None of us here in the UK have any idea what may or may not happen, should we be prepared, just in case? Medicines are one thing that some people are very concerned about.

I don't know about Brexit preparation but every year, I like to stockpile items ready for winter, just in case. Usually, tins and packets and only those things we eat. Lets face it, it is no good stock piling things you normally don't consume or actually need. That is a waste of space.

Even if we don't have a bad winter here, all stockpiled food gets used up by its sell by date. If you have room, wrap flour and freeze it. It makes my shopping bills slightly cheaper the following season. If you stockpile for any reason and don't need it, donate it to the food bank (as well as donating items anyway). People need food banks and they too rely on our donations just to make ends meet for those in that situation, let along be able to stockpile for future preparedness.

Where to start?

Well, look at items you use in everyday meals. Try to store items that will help towards those and/or items that could be a snack/meal in their own right. If you bake bread, store flour/yeast in the freezer. Tinned/frozen fruit would give you a vitamin boost.

After food, think about what else you may need. Each of us have differing needs.

If you have the money you can buy a few items each week. If you only buy one extra item each week you would still be able to get a few things extra in before winter or June 2019 when Brexit happens.

Supermarkets do not have the storage facilities they once used to. Lorries arrive every day to top them up. What if they don't turn up for a few days?

When we first moved to this village, it was cut off just as DS was born and both the village stores were practically emptied in just two days with panic buying. Luckily, I was breast feeding. I hadn't thought about snow cutting us off, being caught up in giving birth etc. What would have happened if he had been bottle fed?

DB might smile at me as every year I prepare for winter and most years, such preparation is usually not needed. I don't want to get caught up in being cut off, shops being emptied of food and water and the ensuing chaos.

We have food, a woodburner to keep us warm, a one ring gas cooker to cook on (plus said woodburner). We don't drink bottled water but do have a couple of gallon containers to store water in if necessary. Should a major water leak occur and the water company can't get to it to fix it quickly, or deliver bottled water due to adverse weather, what will you drink? In an absolute emergency, we have water butts. Water could be filtered and boiled. It probably wouldn't taste great but would keep us hydrated.

Any ideas? Do you prep for winter just in case? Are you thinking about possible shortages after Brexit? Are you thinking about it?

Sunday 2 September 2018


Being such a lovely day, I thought I would tackle the small bedroom curtains and nets. Whilst they were in the wash, DB gave the whole window and surround a good wash.

Once the lace was nice and clean it went up straight from the machine as the sun was streaming in the window. That way, it dries in situ and doesn't need ironing.

The curtains are 'cheap' blackout ones with a funny rubberised backing to them. Although they said dry clean only, most of our curtains which have the same instructions, are washed gently in the machine. They come out fine.

Not these. Went to get these out and they were stuck together in lumps where some of the backing had either melted or reacted with the washing liquid. Into the bin they went:(

New curtains needed. Its a good job it has a smallish window!