Wednesday 31 July 2019

Following on from yesterday....

A few Christmases ago, a similar thing happened. I had woken with a slightly stuffy nose and catarrh. I made the mistake of snorting in to move some of the catarrh as it was just sitting  in the wrong place at the roof of my mouth. I was eating peas and carrots at the time. Before I knew it I felt something go up my nose from my mouth.

I couldn’t blow it out so had to keep snorting in air, like a pig. Snort, snort, snort. Everyone round the table was in absolute fits of giggles. Eventually I felt them move and drop back into my mouth. Such relief!

Tuesday 30 July 2019

A bit unexpected...

I awoke in the night, feeling thirsty. I got out of bed as I couldn't reach my glass of water and took a large mouthful. At the same moment, I looked down and went to pick something off the floor.

The entire contents of my mouth, shot out of my nose and onto the floor, quite a shock even though I know they are both connected.

Getting back into bed took a while as I had to mop the carpet with paper towel:) I had a sore throat for about 10 minutes but fell back to sleep. Wonder if there will be any consequences, mouth germs up my nasal passages and the reverse. Time will tell. Honestly, you've got to laugh!

Monday 29 July 2019

For the first time in days

We are both working outside. It has either been stifling or pouring down with rain. Yesterday was chilly, no sun and 15C! Today is set to be dry, possibly tomorrow as well.

DB is clearing out the gutters as they are full of moss washed off the roof. I have got one lot of washing on the line, another about to go on.

I have done a Chelsea cut on one half of a couple of plants, the other half of them have been deadheaded. That should give the bees and useful insects something to munch on for a while:

I have removed the mini campanula from my two new tubs and put in the last two pansies:

The campanulas, plus their spare mate, have been put into the ground just in front of the tubs, along with a couple of cut back mini chrysanthemums:
The tea is brewing and we are about to sit outside on the patio, wasps not withstanding, for a well earned cup of tea. Haven't got any baking unfortunately, ah well.

Friday 26 July 2019


It is one in the morning and no sleep in sight. The bedroom temperature is still 30C, outside is about 26C, humidity at 80%. We have had lots of lightning, some thunder but just a few spots of rain.

The forecast keeps showing heavy rain but so far nothing. It won’t cool the bedroom down as we have tilt inward windows which let the rain in if it rains, so they have to be closed in heavy rain.

I have just gone out to get more water, Ruby was sat up, obviously heard me come out. I ignored her and she settled back down. She has her cool mat in her crate, which is also uncovered. She must wonder what is going on. No proper walks, little time outside, poor thing is confused.

Thursday 25 July 2019

Hot and bothered.....Updated

I have just been to get the washing in, just for a few minutes. I am boiling. The shade temperature is currently at 13:10 is 34.5C, it feels hotter. I am leaving damp patches on my keyboard as I type!

The bedroom temperature is 31C at the moment, so I think sleep will be hard to come by.

DB has just dug up my dying blueberry. We have the wrong soil for it but it has given us lots of berries over the few years it has survived. He needs to come inside, don’t want him getting heatstroke.

Our shade temperature peaked at 36.4C. The bedroom is currently (16:40) at 32C. The BBC weather for our area says it currently feels like 41C!

Unfortunately the humidity now at 44% is set to rise every hour, peaking at 88% by 03:00:(

Will it be over soon....

The excess heat that is. Hopefully so by Saturday. Although yesterday was meant to be hotter than Tuesday, it was 1/2 a degree C less than predicted, yet felt much hotter.

We decided our weekly walk would be yesterday, madness I know, so chose a forest, shorter than normal walk. Whilst the shade was nice, the horseflies were out in armies and full attack mode. Poor E., is very prone to being bitten and she was the main target, with dozens surrounding her. We used small branches in both hands to try keep them at bay.

E., got bitten at least three times, DB once on his wrist and I got bitten once on my finger. Blood was drawn on both our bites but luckily no swelling. We applied hand gel to the bites when we got back to the car, which seemed to help.

Ruby has been having one short walk early morning. We bought her a cooling gel mat. She isn’t too keen but does lay on it occasionally. Other times she is on the bathroom floor, our only tiled area.

Wednesday 24 July 2019


Yesterday’s temperature peaked at 32.3 in the shade. The rest of the leeks didn’t get put in so are still in their jug of water. I harvested the last few stalks of viable rhubarb (in a jug of water) and the remainder of the black currants, were rinsed and are sitting in the fridge. It was just too hot to do more with them.

DB was on putting up and taking down mode with the bigger set of curtains. I am more than pleased to say they are finished.

Don’t even get me started on the election of our new Prime Minister!

Tuesday 23 July 2019

Despite two days of heavy showers....

Planting my leek seedlings into the hard soil required the help of DB. He needed a metal mallet to hammer in our large leek dibber (the wooden shaft and handle of an old spade), and a huge amount of effort to twist it out. The hole stayed open and I dropped in a leek.

Just 7 leeks later (out of 20), we gave up. The temperature at 28.8C, coupled with high humidity was just too hot to work. The remaining leeks were put into a jar of water and will be finished tomorrow.

It is forecast to get hotter over each of the next few days, I am not looking forward to it at all.

Sunday 21 July 2019

After the first set of curtains debacle....

Well, after waiting just 5 days, our next set of curtains arrived safe and sound. They are way too long at 90" but the next length up 72", is much too short. I could have paid another £40 to have them shortened at source but chose to do it myself. They hang on the carpet by an extra 6":

As you can imagine, quite a bit of blue air was fugging the dining room where I was trying to shorten them. DB got a lot of exercise continually climbing up and down a chair to check and double check. Eventually we both understood what needed doing and I set to, with DB checking me when asked!

After a couple of hours, one of the narrower set of curtains 66" wide, had been trimmed, pinned and also had its liner adjusted. Day two, the next one was at the same stage. After lunch, I sewed them both and they were hung back up. They are not in their final positions (i.e. one bit will sit over and cover up the bracket) as they need to be temporarily held in their creases to get them to hang correctly:
Mid section and bottom section are loosely held in place to form their creases:
The bottom picture above is the closest match to the actual colour of mink. The bits cut off will not be wasted and can either be made into tiebacks or used on another project.

Saturday 20 July 2019

They try to make us believe....

That chocolate and sweets are not shrinking. Cadburys flakes used to be thicker:

They are no longer that size now, don't care what they say. Both images from The Wonderful World of Chocolate.

Thursday 18 July 2019

Another present of a plant...

Also part of my present was another new to me item for the fruit cage, a Honeyberry or edible honeysuckle. One web site says it needs a companion to ensure pollination, others say not. We shall see. Our blueberries never had any problem in there being pollinated although they flower later. These can grow to 4' wide and 6' or so tall, hopefully, it will remain small enough for the cage!

It has a few flowers on it and two embryo fruit. The fruit is similar in size to a blueberry but more oblong in shape:

In this country, we tend to only have access to the Russian based strains, which are a bit more tart, so we shall see. The best ones for sweetness are the Japanese strains, ah well. If they prove too tart for eating raw, they apparently make fabulous pies and jam.

As we don't have much of a garden in the back, I have decided to now only grow items that cost more money to buy. You wouldn't see these for sale in the shops, blackcurrants are rarely seen and if they are, are very expensive, same with gooseberries.

Tuesday 16 July 2019

Too hot....

We have been doing a little planting and tidying of our pots. Way too hot but we had to wait for the area we wanted to pot up, to get into the shade. Each large pot was given a whole can of rainwater:
The two large pots at the back, and plants, are an early birthday present from DB. The other pot was already in situ. Some close ups of the new pots:

In the middle at the base of each pot is a dwarf alpine Canterbury Bell. Either side are pansies. The top shrub is a dwarf leylandii type plant, growing to 4' in 10 years. The bottom pot has a dwarf picus, which will also grow up to 4' but a bit faster.

It is warmer in our north facing room, by two degrees C, than it is in the shaded area where our weather station sits. All temperatures are recorded in the shade I believe, so that is what we do as well.

Tidying up Ruby

Although Ruby moults twice a year, she does lose hair every day. She was beginning to look a little tatty down her back area so we decided to invest in a Furminator deshedding tool/brush/comb gadget.

These retail for between £16 and £30 depending where you buy them from. However, we found one online for just under £8. We were worried it might be fake but seems to be genuine.

She has her ear fur combed every day otherwise the ends get crispy from rootling in the undergrowth and her food bowl. She is beginning to look better now. This was from one session, with a coaster for size comparison:
Not a huge amount but better than being on our carpets!

Monday 15 July 2019

Date and oat slices

This recipe is from Cranks and can be found on my recipe tab above. Here is the tray, fresh from the oven:
It is left to go cold before slicing, you should get 16 good sized slices but as we find it so sweet, we cut ours a little smaller and get 24:
My tin is slightly larger than the one recommended so I increase all the ingredients by 10%. I also like to turn it out before cutting. I used a palette knife around the edges to loosen them, put a chopping board on top, turn over and all being well, it comes out, upside down onto the board. I cut it iupside down as well.

Some people, who must have a very sweet tooth, like to put sugar in the crumble mix but it really isn't necessary, the date mixture is very sweet. It can be eaten cold as a snack, or warm with custard as a pudding.

I have decided now to bake once a week, portion the baking up and freeze most until needed. That way, it can cut down on my single use clingfilm a little.

Saturday 13 July 2019

A bit of the back garden

After worrying about my rhubarb plants looking sad, they eventually took off after lots of watering:
We have picked around 4lb off the four plants in there, so not too shabby at all. The herbs are growing away nicely. Thyme in full flower. The empty looking pots have two different types of mint in them. They were getting ready to flower so I cut them back:
The vinegar containers that were recently planted up, near a south facing wall, were getting too hot for the soil. I cut a double thickness of black weed suppressant material and pegged it around the containers - a whole lot cooler for the soil:

Friday 12 July 2019

So blooming difficult...

You wouldn’t think finding curtains would be so difficult would you. Most shops that we would have used in the past, no longer stock them. Those that do, are primarily selling grey and a few other colours that are of no use to us. We trawled around Norwich yesterday, nothing to be found.

Luckily, I found a place online that offers free samples. They were waiting for us when we got home. One was no good, the other had potential. We held them up to the wall and pondered for quite a while. Whilst we didn’t want plain material, these are similar to crushed velvet so although plain, shimmer in different shades if you see what I mean.

The material on its own, is quite thick, and looks as though it will cut out a lot of sunlight when needed. They come lined so an added bonus.

Will let you know what they look like when they are delivered and we are happy with them.

Thursday 11 July 2019

The front gravel garden

Is still in a relatively quiet mode but there are some flowers and more to come:

Wednesday 10 July 2019

Repurposing - updated

My 5 litre vinegar containers, the contents of which are used as a fabric conditioner in the washing machine:

Plant pots! They may well bulge around the middle but we will see. If I don't like them, they are recyclable.

Herewith filled with plants in garden soil and compost:
I think they will be fine once the plants have grown more. They are big enough for vegetables or herbs, as here:
 Image result for plastic bottles into vegetables
 see link here,  but as a trial for this year, I wanted to just fill them with something to see how they grow and how they need to be watered.

They are planted with two osteospurnum, which will be replanted in the garden, two gazania's which are annuals, and one fushia which I might be able to overwinter in the mini greenhouse.

Tuesday 9 July 2019

How annoying is that...

After chasing up the curtains we ordered from a store, which failed to materilise after nearly 4 weeks, we had a phone call this morning, 2 weeks after chasing them up. The company that makes them have discontinued that particular colour. Why couldn't the company have said that when the store order went in.

We will receive our deposit back shortly and now we have to start again. Guess the doggy fleece blankets will have to stay up for now!

Monday 8 July 2019


I now have a few more thick rhubarb stems ready and picked 1lb or so. They were added to a large bag of thawed blackberries from last year, still 11 or so more bags to use. Some were used to make rhubarb and blackberry jam:
I think I added a bit too much lemon as it has set so well it may rip the bread when used! Tastes gorgeous though.

The remainder of both was cooked and thickened with gelatine to make us 2 small puddings each:
Slightly tart but will be lovely.

Saturday 6 July 2019

A second reduced plastic shop

It ain’t easy.

This time for our weekly shop, we tried Lidl and Sainsbury’s, who did have a few more loose fruit and vegetables but not many. Herewith a picture of mostly recyclable:
We also had 2 x 2 litres of milk in recyclable plastic but they had gone in the freezer. A lot had cardboard outlers but plastic inners. The crumpets and potatoes had no recycling mark on the packet, so the wrappers went in the bin. Although I bought some lace to make myself some net produce bags, I didn’t get around to it. The fruit and tomatoes went in plastic bags which are recyclable.

And fully recyclable:

Not good is it. We prefer to shop at Morrison’s. Some stores will be bringing back loose fruit and vegetables. Let’s hope one of them will be close to us. The above cost £35.

Friday 5 July 2019


I enjoyed watching some of the Brits at tennis yesterday. I didn’t want to watch them all so I would still be fresh for Andy and Jamie. Unfortunately they were both playing at the same time. From what I saw of Jamie and his new ‘temporary ‘ partner, Skupski, they were playing well.

Really enjoyed watching Andy and Pierre. The BBC still managed to mess it up though, three channel changes, mistakingly rounding up the days play, twice, whilst he was playing. I had to keep changing channels during other matches as well. If you were at work and were trying to record matches, you would miss out often. Sort yourselves out!

Thursday 4 July 2019

Reduce, reuse or repurpose

I like to think I don't use much single use plastic but I do. If you look online what constitutes single use plastic, the same few things come up but there are oodles more we don't even think about. We don't drink bottled water and rarely buy single drinks in general.

Cereal boxes have plastic bags in them which most of us don't use. I decant my cereals into plastic containers but they are donkies years old and will not be thrown out until the time comes for someone to clear our house. Inside is usually a plastic sleeve. These can be reused, especially in the freezer to seperate slices of things but it isn't something I use because I don't make those type of things to freeze.

Almost all prepacked fruit and vegetables that have a plastic tray and wrapper, are single use. Biscuits and bought cakes, ready meals, frozen items, plastic cotton buds, nappies, panty liners and other sanitary products, sachets containing individual use items such as face masks, make up products, hair products, condiments such as sauces and vinegar etc. There are literally hundreds of these items.

The free from plastic movement is gaining momentum and many articles and challenges, appear in newspapers and magazine. Lets face it though, unless you live in a big city or have access to shops that sell products you can decant or pick up yourself, the rest of us will have a hard time.

When we did our grocery shop last week, I could only pick up a few loose items of fruits and vegetables without using plastic. We don't have access to farm shops, even things outside of houses locally to buy are often in plastic bags or plastic trays. Its bewildering and hard work but I will continue to try.

In that vein, yesterday I bought 5 litres of Ecover washing up liquid and 5 litres of Ecover hand soap online. Yes, it will come in a big plastic container but it is using less plastic than the equivalent in normal sized bottles. I can also repurpose/recycle those containers.

The hand wash came today, in a cardboard box with paper packing. Inside, the container was sealed in a plastic bag, but hey, it can be actually be recycled as it has a number 2 code on it, see link further down. 

I make our own washing machine liquid, reusing constantly, the same 2 x 4 pint plastic milk bottles, which have been on the go now for more than 2 years. It is unfortunate that the things I need to make it start off in plastic, see, you just can't get away from it.

Can we do anything to stop putting plastic that cannot be recycled into our rubbish dumps, we can as it happens, in the shape of Ecobricks, see here.

These seem a bit slow to catch on here and there are not many places where even if you fill one up over time, you can take them to, to be used. Maybe one day.

Herewith a quick guide to what can mostly be recycled:here.
There is also a nice chart at the end for a quick check reference.

Wednesday 3 July 2019


We ordered our bespoke curtains nearly 3 1/2 weeks ago. We were informed they would take 2 - 4 weeks all in. That is for them to be delivered to them, sent away for alteration, then returned to them. Having not heard anything DB gave them a ring.

Sorry sir, they haven’t arrived from the manufacturer yet, we’ll chase them up. So how long to wait we wonder? Another 4 weeks? It’s anyone’s guess.

I wonder if the order actually got sent in the first place!

Tuesday 2 July 2019

Don't get caught out

If you are a BT customer, don't get caught out, like we did, by an extra charge plan they have added to everyones account. It is the Anytime Call Plan and can cost up to £9 per month.

We have chosen for many years, a free weekend tariff, meaning we can make free calls, up to an hour long, without charge, anywhere in the country, to a landline.

This new charge, the information for which, was apparently sent by email in March. We must have missed it as you needed to opt out said plan via that email. Now you have to phone them up and they don't make it easy to either find the number or deal with it when you do. DB spent nearly 15 minutes this morning trying to cancel it before finally succeeding.

Now, if you like to make numerous phone calls anytime, then this plan is fine for you, but we choose not to. Luckily for us, as a valued BT customer, our charge was £2.50. Still they have taken £7.50 off us before we realised.

82 million or so customers, each being charged £108 per annum, probably unaware of it, a nice little earner for them wouldn't you say?

Monday 1 July 2019

Sandringham Horse Driving trials

We try to visit this once a year and this weekend it was on. Normally we would drive over there on a Saturday when lots of events are on. It was too hot to do so on Saturday so we went Sunday.

Although it is free to the public, it really doesn't cater much for them. It used to be a huge event but now, tiny. It really is geared around the carriage driving.

Anyhow, getting there for 11:15, we decided to have a bacon butty as we were both hungry - no bacon. Plenty of burgers but we don't eat them. You would have thought plenty of burgers left should be telling them something!

That was it on the eating front, other than pancakes or donuts and even he was clearing up to leave. We found a bouncy castle stall who were selling hot pork rolls, the pork in a slow cooker:( My instinct was to not have one but hunger prevailed. Moist but absolutely tasteless, neither of us finished it.

Okay we thought, lets console ourselves with an ice cream, nope, it was shut. When it did eventually open, it was only to let air in so they could clean up ready for leaving. There was a gin stall but at £6.99 for one shot, no thank you.

The event was open for quite a few more hours so we were not impressed and think we may not bother again. We were so cheesed off we came home.