Sunday 30 June 2019


Was our first really warm day, almost 31C in the shade. Curtains were kept closed, large blind on the bedrooms was out. Curtains were only opened once the sun had moved around.

Ruby for the most part, stayed in the shade but we didn’t allow her to stay out too long, it was cooler indoors. DB went to the attic for the electric fan, which helped a lot. Despite all that, the bedrooms were 26C come night time.

Had a lovely chat with DS, always a pleasure. Glad to hear they have at long last sold their old car and previous young horse. DDiL has found herself another job thank goodness. Her employers were not at all bothered. Same hours but over 4 days so that will help enormously.

This morning it is warm but with a bit more breeze. Just been out for an early walk, we all feel warm and sticky now.

Saturday 29 June 2019

Slowly slowly catchy monkey

After much reading, I am finally ready to start reducing plastic in our home. We have quite a lot of 'permanent' plastic containers which I shall continue to use, no point throwing them all out as that just adds to the problem.

We usually shop at Lidl and Morrison's and I am pleased to say, the latter are making some good improvements in reducing their plastic use, see here.

I usually buy all my fruit and vegetables at the former but with the introduction of paper bags in Morrison's, decided to wait until we got there, second on our list.

It took a little longer and was a little pricier, plus it took longer to get through the checkout. The bags are a little fragile and there wasn't much choice in loose items, plus you have to remember what variety of what is in each bag and how many.  Anyhow, we bought apples, pears and carrots:

I gave up with the tomatoes but half of the packaging I did chose is recyclable. New potatoes were in a recyclable bag.

I think I need to use some homemade (or bought) vegetable bags and go from there. We do have a grocer relatively close to these shops but their produce isn't always good.

I had taken my two empty Quorn bags to recycle them. Had to ask a staff member where their plastic bag recycling was. Squashed in between trollies and the letter box! Come on Morrison’s put it near the doors where you enter so it can easily be seen and used.

Once home, I decanted a jar of honey into our old squeezy bottle as we find it less messy to use:

Friday 28 June 2019

Quorn Madras Curry

A few weeks ago, we bought some Quorn chunks to make a curry, they were still sitting in the freezer so I got on with it. We like Quorn and use both the mince and chunks and have used on occasions, the 'beef' strips. All are fine for us.

Its a bit like Tofu in that on its own, it has little or no taste, but readily picks up the taste of what it is put in, especially if served the day after it is cooked.

I fried 1 onion, 1 green pepper and a tub of mushrooms:
1/4 of a jar of Madras curry paste was added and gently fried before 2 cans of pureed chopped tomatoes went in:
It cooked for 30 minutes before 1 1/2 packets of Quorn chunks were added:
Another 20 minutes, an added chicken stock cube and some oat bran to thicken and it was ready:
We had one portion between us (3 ladles), plus rice, and got enough for another 3 joint meals.

Thursday 27 June 2019

Liver leftovers and dwarf raspberrIes ...

Yesterday quite frankly was cold. We took Ruby for her first long walk and had to sit outside for a meal. She had a strange cough last night for several hours, grass seed maybe? We will see how she is today.

I don't know about you, but we find liver has quite a bit of rubbish in it nowadays so we cut it all out. I used to throw this rubbish away but now we have Ruby, she takes care of it. We had liver and onions for tea, Ruby got the rest.

Now liver, on its own, is a bit too rich to feed as is. I chavelled it up with a little water and managed to get 6 liver paws to freeze:
She will be given one to mix into a days worth of food when I use a tube that doesn't have offal in it.

We recently invested in two dwarf raspberries, Ruby Beauty, and managed to find another one a few days ago. It got planted before the rain came so should be nicely settled in. The fruit is amazingly sweet, even the slightly underripe ones. Each of the three plants only has one flowering stalk so not much this year. Each plant has loads of stalks ready to fruit next year.

Wednesday 26 June 2019


Although Andy wasn’t serving properly yesterday, elbow I reckon, Melo just was not there! Shame but that is how it goes.

I decided to have a go at making a Brioche loaf in my bread maker. Everything was put in, an additional amount of butter was cubed and put in the fridge for adding later, as per the recipe. I set the machine going and put the timer on for when it told me I would need to add the butter. I don't always hear the beeper if I am in another room.

Beeper went and I was about to add the butter when I realised the machine was flashing to tell me it had finished baking, say what!

Double checking my instruction recipe book, I realised I had chosen the bake time for the next machine up to mine - doh! It didn't have the chance to get its second lot of butter.

Anyway, here it is, a little brown around its crust and missing half its butter. Oh, I also reduced the sugar by a quarter and for me, it was still way too sweet even though it is meant to be so:

Not bad at all considering.

Tuesday 25 June 2019

Cherry and Chocolate Ice Cream

We used the recipe from here for this ice cream but opted to use normal chocolate. It wasn't too difficult to make although we made it more difficult by not reading it properly!

I didn't have good quality vanilla extract so used what I had (unfortunately only 1 tablespoon was left) but used maple syrup instead of honey to help the taste.

We found 1 cup of cherries equated to a 200g punnet of fresh cherries which we stoned. 175g of frozen and thawed pitted cherries would also be the right amount.

1 cup of 70% dark chocolate, cut into chunks measured 135g.

If we make it again, I shall use half of the liquid ingredients at a time in my tall Bullet container to save using my big processor.

There was just a little too much liquid to fit comfortably into our 1.1 litre ice cream maker so we divided what was left between 2 chinese takeaway cartons ready for freezing. It may affect the outside texture a little so we will see. If it does, we shall just drink this extra amount:)

It was churned for 30 minutes which was about right for our ice cream maker. It struggled to incorporate the chocolate and cherries at the end but we just left it running. The end product filled the 2 takeaway containers. Here it is ready for the freezer:
The taste wasn’t too bad but it needed 15 minutes out the freezer to use. We both think the texture was more like sorbet than ice cream and neither of us enjoyed the solid chunks of chocolate. I think I will make it again and try melting the chocolate.

Monday 24 June 2019

Ruby at the beach

We took Ruby to the beach last week. It was slightly windy and the tide was quite a way out. We did however, manage to find a big puddle:

She enjoyed herself immensely.

Once back at the car, we drove off to find a fish and chip shop. Chips and curry sauce was consumed, both in cardboard boxes I am pleased to say, although we took our own water to drink. We then wandered off to find ice cream for a pudding.

All in all, a pleasant few hours passed with some quality downtime. Welcome to Valerie via Bloglovin.

Sunday 23 June 2019


Well done Feliciano Lopez, a full singles match, finishing off a quarter final doubles, immediately followed by a semi final doubles, he must have been shattered to say the least! He has a single and a doubles final as a reward.

Touches of the old Andy emerged during both these double matches but he still has quite a way to go. I think his nerves kicked in trying to serve out the match but between them, they got the job done. Lopez started to flag a little so Andy stepped up a notch, when Andy got tight, Lopez stepped up. Andy was very attentive to Lopez throughout, constantly geeing him on.

I shall look forward to the matches today.

Saturday 22 June 2019


Damn things, I hate them. I have been trialing a more natural approach to ticks.

Firstly, Brewer’s Yeast. The idea is it creates a smell on the skin that ticks dislike. So far, not so bad, just two ticks in the first week found but we have just removed another two ticks, the first day of week two in the trial. She doesn’t seem to detect it in her food and it gives her a lot of vitamins and essential minerals. For that reason alone, we will stick with it.

Secondly, rose geranium essential oil, a natural insecticide. 10 drops diluted in 100 drops of almond oil. Shaken before use, one drop is placed between my forefinger and thumb. It is then rubbed between her shoulder blades and base of tail, first thing in the morning. We have begun to do this, now we are in week two. Time will tell. The smell of this is amazing.

I think the warm summer, autumn and winter of last year, means the critters have been breeding prolifically. Friends I know who are using chemical based tick pills etc, are also reporting ticks on their cats and dogs.

Friday 21 June 2019


I managed to pick some more strawberries yesterday but quite a lot of them are now showing botrytis infection. Another washed out year for them.

We went to finally pick up our rug from the carpet shop. It was a large chunk of the carpet that had been 'whipped' around the edges. An example can be seen on this website carpet.

It measures 1m x 2m and fits in front of our armchairs, where Ruby prefers to sit when we are there:

Being a Spaniel, she sheds quite a lot but we hardly see any of her hairs on this colour. She can also, over a long time, leave behind a bit of oil from her coat, hence this rug to save the carpet itself.

I really enjoyed watching Andy and Feliciano play last night. I wasn’t expecting a win but overall, they did well, getting better as time went on.

Thursday 20 June 2019

How's that...

For a cute little spray bottle!

I went to my doctor yesterday to seek relief in one ear after having it cleaned out a few weeks ago. I didn't have pain it just felt a little weird and bunged up. He prescribed this:
An Optomize spray. It took me two attempts to get it to spray into my ear after it was primed for use. I have to use it for up to 7 days and see how it goes. Can but try.

Looking forward to watching Andy play later today. I just hope he doesn't slip and injure himself further as there were a few close calls yesterday. Del Potro has had to pull out (due to slipping a few times I should think) with an exacerbated knee injury.

His match will probably be the only doubles we get to see as yet again, the BBC and Amazon, are primarily showing singles matches. Come on you lot, some of us love to watch doubles.

At least the BBC have said they are going to televise all 18 courts at Wimbledon so maybe this year, we shall get to see quite a bit of doubles.

Wednesday 19 June 2019

Front Inner Circle Garden...

We were lucky last night, as the storm seemed to have passed us by. We had 4 mini powercuts in about 15 minutes and about 2cm of rain. Today is supposed to be the worst day so we will have to wait and see.

The poppies have finished but were cut back yesterday to save them flopping over onto their neighbours. They will give us another display later in the year:
Some plants are opening, such as the peonies, roses and geraniums, others are finishing early. Again, heavy rain will probably finish those off as well. The poor farmers are having another bad year by the sound of things.

I have sprayed my tomatoes again with disprin in the hope of warding off blight but for a change, I don't hold out much hope. We have had one or two strawberries but they are now beginning to show signs of rot as well. Ah well, onwards and upwards.

Tuesday 18 June 2019

Temporary Curtains....

Although our front room is north facing, the sun pours in from its western aspect late afternoon to evening. It is almost impossible to see what is on the tv!

I found two fleece blankets that used to partially cover Ruby's crate and put them up, each held in place with three pegs:

When the white blinds and these blankets are shut, it helps to cut out quite a bit of the extra light.

Sunday 16 June 2019

Oh my goodness

We were just about to go out to a local do when the heavens opened, a proper cloud burst is currently ongoing. If it stops, we’ll have a check as we pass, on our afternoon stroll with Ruby. Don’t hold out much hope though.

Looking forward to tennis at Queen’s tomorrow. Any chance of actually getting to see Andy play? Let’s face it, coverage of doubles tennis by the BBC, ITV4 and Amazon Prime, is often negligible!

Welcome to Natasha Flack via Bloglovin.

Well done....

Dom Inglot and his American partner A. Krajicek on winning the doubles title at Hertogenbosch. Shame that yet again, this win was not mentioned on sporting news.

Saturday 15 June 2019

Its a good job....

I didn't read the reviews on this product before I bought it, as they were all, with the exception of one, very negative. What product:
A tin of curry. I must admit, I trialled it anyway with a little bit of trepidation as most other canned meats products (apart from Ham, Spam and Corned Beef) haven't rung my bell. It costs £1.60 and I wanted to trial it as part of a stocking my pantry up just in case product!

I made some couscous to eat it with (just a few minutes to do) whilst the curry was warming up. It had 8 big pieces of chicken in it and I cut them up a bit whilst it was heating. We had it for lunch today.

Verdict - not bad at all. Most reviews said it was bland, hardly any meat in it etc. Yes, the taste is different to those ready meals you buy for a similar price. Also, if dire circumstances hit us all one day, such as a prolonged power cut, your freezer version would go off, this wouldn't.

However, as a 'just in case' scenario, it wouldn't be too bad at all. I think if you wanted a quick meal and had some frozen jacket potatoes, you would get a decent hot meal in quite a quick time.

If you wanted to make it a little hotter, as well as add a little extra flavour, I reckon just a teaspoon of tikka masala paste would improve it.

I shall now trial a few of their other curry tins and see how they fare.

Has anyone eaten other makes of tinned curry, if so, what was your verdict?

Friday 14 June 2019

We have been....

On the hunt for a piece of secondhand furniture to adapt into a nice looking lockable sleeping area for Ruby. Why is it, that when you are looking, nothing is available?

We visited a huge warehouse yesterday. Loads of stuff, ridiculous prices. Having thought more about it, we visited a place we have bought from before to explain our dilemma. They probably thought us mad but said they could make us something.

My idea is for a piece of furniture that we can adapt for her, but when she is no longer with us, adapt it back to full use for us. It won’t be cheap but is cheaper than buying a ready made version, will be to our specifications and look nice. It will fit in with the furniture we have and have a nice top that we can use.

I already had the money in my savings, so paid a deposit. They are very busy so it won’t be ready until the end of next month.

Wednesday 12 June 2019

Where’s the sun gone...

By Sunday evening, we had 1/2” of rain in a bucket. This morning it measured 6”. Just about 36 hours of rain fell on Monday and Tuesday, alternating between light showers and heavy downpours. Today and Thursday have showers and dry intervals forecast. Wonder what is will measure by then. For us, one of the dried counties in the land, that is a lot of rain!

Water butts and ponds are full. The driveway has had so many puddles in it, that every time Ruby goes out to the toilet, she has to be dried off. The conservatory mat looks like it does in winter!

For some reason on Monday morning, she was a bit off colour. She just slept and slept, curled up tight in a ball. She did eat so that was something. By mid afternoon, she uncurled and began to be more herself. Come Tuesday, she was her usual cheery self.

The June drop on the fruit trees is happening all at once, probably due to the rain. I fear for my tomatoes. Being outside, despite spraying with disprin, which can help against blight, all this rain may prove too much.

Tuesday 11 June 2019

Rhubarb at last...

After lots of watering and some good amounts of rain, the rhubarb has taken off. So much so, that at last, I have been able to harvest some. A brand new rhubarb crown, needs to be left alone for at least a year, to help the roots mature a bit. This was a huge crown which I divided into four and replanted.

These were the largests ones I found:
I did peel them to remove the strings. Once cooked in a little bit of water, I added sugar and thickened it with cornflour. I have never done this before but it worked quite well, meaning I could keep all the juice as well:
We had some with custard, some with yoghurt and one bowl was added to two of my breakfast smoothies.

Monday 10 June 2019

Using things up

I bought a double packet of frozen puff pastry for Christmas and still had one of them in the freezer. Also in there were 4 big slices of home cooked ham, a large uncooked chicken breast and some pork stew gravy.

The pastry was divided into 4 and rolled out. The ham, chicken and 4 mushrooms, along with some gravy, were processed in my blender. I got enough to make 3 large pasties:
The final quarter had cheese put on one half of it, folded over and rolled again. Repeat before being cut into cheese straws and more cheese and black pepper on top:
Here they are, fresh from the oven. We were going to have one each for our main meal plus carrot and swede mash and gravy, but I could only eat half of mine so it was put away for today:
The pastry was flaky and tasty and the inside was similar to a fine sausage roll consistency. Then the cheese straws:

Sunday 9 June 2019

Trimming paws

Ruby, being a Springer, grows quite a lot of fur between her toes, this needs to be trimmed occasionally otherwise it spreads her toes.

She walks every day on pavements (as well as running on fields and in woods), so her nails don't get massive but also do need trimming occasionally.

We tackled two paws yesterday and two today. Here is one paw before trimming:

And another one afterwards:

Not pretty or salon grade but it does the job. I don't mind doing it but it sure makes my back ache!

Ruby however is very chilled once she relaxes:

Another two full ticks removed this morning, ugh!

Saturday 8 June 2019

The lady came...

To get the correct measurement for the lounge curtains. Quote given and accepted. They will be converted from pencil pleat to eyelet as well. Expected to take about 2 weeks then the lounge will be finished. Hooray!

Wet weather has finally arrived. We had one heavy shower at 11:30 last night and it’s just started to get heavy now at 10:15.

The garden should feel better for it.

We took Ruby out for an early amble around the village so she wouldn’t get too wet. We dried her off and after a good sleep, she will be dry enough for a nail and fur trim. I’ll do two feet today and two tomorrow.

Poor girl had 3 ticks on her the other day. Luckily 2 of them were walking along her back so we picked them off. We didn’t see the other one until the next day. It was right under her neck so not easy to hold her still. Even with the correct tool, it took several attempts before being removed intact.

I did my usual thing of wrapping it in paper then whacking it flat with the rolling pin. I hate them. Poor girl had quite a wound so we applied cream to it.

I know I could put her on insecticide stuff but quite frankly, don’t want too. She already has one for fleas and if she had a combined flea/tick treatment, it would contain 3 different chemicals.

Last year, we only found a few ticks, this year, she has already had 5:( We are going to try a natural method or two combined, along with extra vigilance and see what happens.

Friday 7 June 2019

Paws and bones

Time to make Ruby up some vegetable and extra nibbles to add to her food. This time we minced up carrot, spinach, broccoli. Added to this was some linseed, pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Then a tablespoon of ground eggshells and a whole egg, plus two minced lambs kidneys.

Here they are ready for the freezer:
Once frozen, they are popped out and stored in the freezer in a bag. She will have one defrosted when eating cheaper meat products that doesn't have offal in them.

Thursday 6 June 2019

Pressure cooking meat

Doing the beef in the cooker wasn't so successful even though it was still pink when it came out, it cooked more as it rested, losing its pinkness.

The result was a bit dry, not surprising as we don't seem to produce beef in this country anymore, that has nice ripples of fat throughout it.

However, we got a reasonably tasting dinner from it. Some was sliced (to have with chips) then the rest minced, with some of the gravy and a carrot and bit of squash to make two cottage 'pies':
They were topped with instant potato from my store cupboard (which incidentally we like if made with watered down milk, butter and lots of seasoning). They were topped with grated cheese. One cooked for tea the other has gone into the freezer.

Wednesday 5 June 2019

Through the front window...

The poppies are in bloom:

I used to have about 8 of these but have whittled them down over the years as they collapse and cause problems for other plants.

Tuesday 4 June 2019

Almost finished....

The carpet in the lounge and hallway was laid yesterday. Just the curtains to order and put up so a couple more weeks yet:
The light to the left of the computer, will go elsewhere once we have found a replacment shade. DB painted the base in baked terracotta, same paint as on the front of the fireplace.
We have stopped using the old style of gloss as it now discolours so quickly:
It was once white! We now use Satinwood, not so durable but it keeps it colour.

Monday 3 June 2019

Ah well...

It is a sad fact of life, that you can’t save everything.

As Ruby entered our driveway, she lunged to one side, luckily, still on her lead. A baby sparrow. It was saved that time.

Later on, as she went out to the loo, she missed seeing it huddling behind her water bowl. I grabbed her once she had finished and put her inside. As I bent down to pick it up to put it somewhere safe, it flew and landed on the drain then fell in.

Our neighbour was down his drive so I asked him to get it out, which he did quickly. I rushed inside with it to dry it off but it’s eyes were already closing and after two little gasps, it died.

I checked it over and it’s breastbone was formed weirdly and protruding outside its feathers. Guess it’s mother had probably abandoned it as it was very weak before it fell in the drain.

Sunday 2 June 2019

Well done Joe and Johanna

You might not have heard of our doubles tennis player, Joe Salisbury but he and his US team mate, Rajeev Ram, have just won their quarter final match. Not that you would know as ITV 4 aren’t showing doubles.

Johanna Konta is also through to her next round so well done both of you.

Saturday 1 June 2019


It is 19.5C outside at the moment (09:20) and I have been gardening since 08:45, more than enough. I am now hot!!!

I have been busy pulling up most of my euphorbia, but leaving some roots so they come back up. They were a Mother’s Day present from DS many years ago and can be a bit of a thug. Doing this helps keep them in check, a severe Chelsea cut if you like.

DB has just returned from a walk with Ruby. We thought a good morning walk would be better as it’s due to reach 25C later on. She is panting like crazy, she is so hot.

Last night she was licking the bottom of her leg, near her paw. We decided to investigate but couldn’t find anything, not even a small wound to indicate a grass seed. She kept pulling away and did a small wee on my leg, so was clearly uncomfortable. I rubbed some smelly brown dog cream on her and felt something sharp on my finger.

We checked it out under a looking glass thinking a broken rose thorn but no. It looked like loads of dark black strands, about 1cm long, a bit like metal strands when you trim electrical wire? Anyway, she went to bed whilst we were watching tv but wouldn’t settle, squishing her face against the crate, showing us her teeth. We let her out then she went back in and settled. Today she seems fine.

Painting done apart from doors which will get done later in the summer. Carpet down Monday then we can get back to normal, I am fed up now.

Have a great weekend everyone.