Thursday 30 December 2021

Post Christmas Tidy Up

All washing is now done although more will be around at the weekend after the bed change.

Christmas card list has been updated and fronts cut off any suitable cards to make gift tags for next year.

DB has just come back from walking Ruby and our next job is to take down all the decorations (plus tree). Each room will then, over a few days, be hoovered and dusted. 

We did our weekly shop yesterday and although it wasn't on special offer, I bought us a nice smoked ham joint to cook over the New Year. Any we don't eat, and there will be loads, will be sliced and frozen in meal sized portions.

Just finished filling in with kitchen waste, another trench in our raised beds. 3 more to go in this particular bed then just one more raised bed to do. The soil is so wet and heavy that I might have to get DB to dig the next trench.

The dining room light, which we have wanted to change for ages, has blown two bulbs. They are so expensive to replace so we shall now get on with changing the whole light fitting. Hopefully we can find one relatively cheap one (function over fashion in this house), that doesn't have expensive bulbs!


Tuesday 28 December 2021

Here we go again

We had a delightful few days with DS and family. It was our first Christmas with grand-daughter and she was in fine spirits. Within a few minutes of arriving, she found the wind up santa and settled in with us to play with it whilst her mum and dad unpacked the car. 

There was a lot of unpacking to do, 4 dogs worth of stuff, hers and their stuff plus Christmas presents for them and us.

The house was pretty well stuffed itself by this time but we got by.

We managed each night to play on the PS4, silly games such as Overcooked and the house removal version by the same company. Much laughter and emergency trips (by me) to the loo ensued, a few grumbles (from me) as per usual but once I got to grips with it I settled in.

We had hoped to finish our pandemic game which has been ongoing for more than 3 years but didn't get around to it. Unfortunately the spare bedroom comes from the dining room and the door needed to be open so she could hear us.

DGD still had a bit of a chesty cough, DDiL still had a bit of a cough and DS was in the throws of a cold. He did test himself 3 times whilst here for Covid but was negative. 

They will do it all again when they travel down to her parents to meet up with family so hope they all feel better by then. Hope they can fit everything in for when they come back as it was a bit close leaving from us.

At least Christmas and New Year meet ups can take place. We will probably pay for it later on, but time will tell. I wish I believed that 2022 will be better but to be honest, I don't think it will.

 Onwards and upwards and time for us all to put on a new pair of big girls knickers!

Sunday 26 December 2021

Postal Christmas Gifts

Hopefully, this will post on Boxing Day here in the UK or 26th December to the rest of you!

These are what I made for my postal gifts to family and friends:

I normally try to make the whole thing but didn't this year. Instead I bought 6 beeswax tea lights and 12 beeswax small candles. I rootled around in my craft paper drawer and selected paper. 

2 cm strips were attached using double sided tape to the taller candles, hope they stay stuck down as they are now wrapped:(.

1cm strips were attached using tape to each tea light. 

It is just a little something to let everyone know I am thinking about them.

Wednesday 22 December 2021

How lovely

 It’s nice to know kind acts are still around. I was in a small shop the other day, my bill would have been £16.98. I only had £16.50. Going to put one thing back, the lady told me to wait a minute to see if she could offer a discount. She read up something, swiped a card and gave me a 10% discount. How lovely was that.

I thanked her for her kind act and she replied, ‘well, it’s been a heck of a year and it’s Christmas, we all deserve a bit of kindness’. I think she may have used her staff discount card and I was the only one in there!

Tuesday 21 December 2021

RIP Carlos Marin

Who says you. He was the baritone singer with Il Divo, see

A fantastic pair of lungs on him and vaccinated, but he still couldn’t be saved. Such a cruel disease and there are still idiots who don’t believe.

Sunday 19 December 2021

Moving along

 Time that is! Although we aren’t doing much each day, the days seem to be whizzing by. Yet another Christmas is in danger of heading south. I shall be right cheesed off if that happens again.

Made a batch of orange and orange and ginger marmalade this morning. What was left of our last lot has now been given away.

Visited my sister on Thursday to hand over cards and a little present. She is doing well but having more mobility problems and resulting pain. I think she needs a scan of her back to see what is amiss as something clearly is.

DGD seems to be finally on the mend, how long for, who knows with so much illness floating around. DS is having his booster jab on Monday. DDiL who still has her cough after contacting Covid, will have hers in the New Year, just in case DS has any reaction to it.

This dull cold weather is depressing isn’t it? Not worth hanging any washing out as it doesn’t stand a chance of drying.

Other than that, we are tickerty boo!

Tuesday 14 December 2021

A busy day...

 Shopping first thing. Quick cup of tea after putting it away then both off for chiropractic treatment. Much better. Drove to Dunelm (shop) where we had a coffee and bowl of lovely pea and ham soup.

Stayed there to buy light bulbs, new sets of towels, our annual amount of tea towels plus 6 x 1.5 litre storage jars. Quick walk to Wickes for spray paint and masking tape before coming home, phew!

Thursday 9 December 2021

A bit blurred...

 But you get the gist:

3 foil balls on the ceiling above the fireplace, mantlepiece decorated, ceiling decorations in the dining room plus a glass vase full of tree lights. That will do us for this year. Hopefully, Granddaughter will enjoy them if no more restrictions take place.

Tuesday 7 December 2021

Sunday 5 December 2021

Expanding to fit

 We recently bought Ruby a new bed as her other one was as flat as a pancake. This one is relatively firm with a bit of squish and about 4" deep. The old but still usable covers didn't fit. Here it is laying on top of the bed:

Cut in half lengthways and a new strip added - now the new bed is inside this cover:
Took an age to work out how to join it back together so the bicycles were in the same direction. One more to do tomorrow using an old bit of red fabric then both will be done. The new bed has a furry, zippable, washable cover on it but I like to add another cover, just in case!

Saturday 4 December 2021

How come...

When I look at myself in the mirror to brush my hair, I don't look too shabby. 

Photographs are another story entirely. I look so old and tired. Not just me I know but - I don't like it!

Sausage rolls in the oven today. Cheese and sausage ones and regular. Once cold, they will be frozen. Mince pies another day.

Thursday 2 December 2021

More ticks off my to do list

 8 mini orange sponge and chocolate drop puddings in the freezer.

Sausages and puff pastry bought for sausage rolls.

Christmas Eve £1 presents bought.

Presents for DS, DDiL, DGD bought.

Birthday presents for DS and DGD bought and taken up last week.

Presents bought for DB bar one small one. I was quite annoyed on one present which had a discount on it only to find another shop had a greater discount on it, ah well.

Christmas cards and postal presents posted today.

Onwards and upwards!

Monday 29 November 2021

Sunday afternoon

 The forecast sleet turned into snow which lasted about 6 hours. We had about 2-3”, not much but it fell on ice covered ground and objects. DGD, with help from daddy, built her first snowman. She wasn’t at all sure about the crunchy white stuff under her feet.

They managed to get her in with a different doctor at the surgery who having listened to her chest, was not impressed with the previous doctor not prescribing her antibiotics and a steroid inhaler. Indeed as she was leaving he warned them to take her to A & E if she got any worse and to bring her back in a week if they felt she wasn’t much better. Glad to say, the medicines have made a huge difference. Both DS and DDiL are still chesty and coughing so hope we haven’t picked it up.

She recognised us when we arrived and within an hour was sat on my lap having a book read to her. Took a bit longer for Grandad. It was so wonderful to hear her say Nana whenever she saw me. Yesterday she managed gan-gad for DB so he was chuffed with that as well.

It took forever to clean the ice and snow off the car so we could come home. Roads were clear and snow hadn’t fallen this side of Nottingham. Good journey back. As we had had plumber in just before leaving we decided to leave everything off whilst away. The bedrooms were 10C and lounge 8C so both heating, hot water and fire went on!

Sunday 28 November 2021

Rough weather

Blimey, Friday night was extremely windy. Despite taking a Nytol, first time in months, and ear plugs, the noise was incredible.

We awoke up to two fence panels blown out, the car roof storage box on the ground and bits of tree.  Neighbours dogs were running lose in the street so their panels were gone as well. DDiL had to go out. Three out of her four possible routes were blocked by trees.

The rain was like fire hoses on the windows, which were rattling. It was also very cold. Saturday was very windy and extremely cold. All in all, the worst storm for us in quite a while. We asked neighbours to check our house and garden, they reported all was fine.

Friday 26 November 2021

Didn’t think...

 We would manage to get away to see family. DB’s heart and digestion has been messing about. Got him to take his GTN spray and he passed out! Luckily he was sitting down and I monitored him until he came around.

Made him a warm drink, gave him some honey to raise his blood pressure and left him to sleep. After an hour or so he felt better. Got to have another ECG and a full set of bloods when we return. Family live close to a hospital and he has everything he needs here so am not too concerned. We last went through this 2014 so don’t expect much to have changed.

Although my nurse training kicked in I was close to dialling 999.

Monday 22 November 2021

Indian beans and mushrooms

 This Madhur Jaffrey recipe can be found here.

I cannot abide pieces of  broken cinnamon stick in my mouth so I exchange that for 1/4 tsp - 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon.

I also didn't have black eyes beans/peas so exchanged them for pinto beans. I soaked those overnight, boiled for 10 minutes then simmered until cooked. They were strained discarding the water and used I then 1 1/4 pints of stock (2 cubes) in the recipe. Anymore than that and we find it too sloppy. Finally it was thicken with 3 tablespoons tomato puree and served on a bed of rice:

We had enough for two more servings (for us both), which have been frozen.

Saturday 20 November 2021

Lateral Flow Test

When I did my test as part of the ONS National Survey last year, I used a PCR test, so these are a little different. Thankfully though, they only have to go up your nose!

We have both had slight gastric troubles for a week or so. DB's is far worse than mine. Neither of us feel ill or under the weather but feel something is a bit off somewhere.

DB had a telephone consult his doctor yesterday who suggested he (and therefore me) take a Covid test as for some people, gastric upset is their only symptom.

After a bit of a faff getting the code now needed to pick up a kit from a chemist (pharmacy), we went to get one. After reading the instructions, we set to. Result was negative for both of us:

You have to register the results which DB did and within a few minutes, we got an email confirming the results.

We both realise this doesn't mean we haven't got it though, so shall continue to be wary. We are hoping to go see DGD soon and will test ourselves again before we go. They don't need any other medical issues after their last few weeks of being ill.

All in all, a quick and painfree procedure, so thank you NHS.

Thursday 18 November 2021

Sometimes you have to accept defeat

 DB has always tackled all DIY jobs both inside and outside the house. We have to say, getting older is no joke. There are things we are finding difficult to do and other things that are becoming difficult/more dangerous to do like getting on the roof!!!

For a few years now, one of the bath taps and the sink mixer tap have started getting jammed. We have hard water and it is often the reason. He has been cleaning them and they last for a while longer. It is getting to the stage that when you turn one of them on, the whole tap moves despite being tightened, repeatedly, below the bath.

Again they have been cleaned but we decided to buy new taps for both the bath and sink and pay someone to fix them in.

The chap who came has done work for us before but he too is getting on in years. He checked what needed doing, whether or not we or he needs anything else - nope!

They will be done on Tuesday.

Wednesday 17 November 2021

Garlic Honey

 I found this particular version on YouTube from Old Alabama Gardener, here: who sadly has recently died.

I used 3 whole heads of garlic, putting the cloves into a bag and whacking them with a rolling pin to release the skins. This took three attempts.

Once all the skin was removed the cloves were chopped further and placed into a jar, I'm using a Kilner style jar but if it works well, will get a fermentation jar for future trials of other items.

Raw honey is supposed to be used but I couldn't get any. I did however have 1/2 an old jar of Manuka honey plus a new jar of regular honey so used those to top up the jars of chopped cloves of garlic:

The jar will be gently shaken in a swivel style as it is burped morning and night. It will live in a cool kitchen cupboard for 20 days, before being ready to eat. From that day, it is stored in the fridge.

Boy it stank the house out for 24 hours, had to hide it in the microwave!

Tuesday 16 November 2021

Cottage Pie Recipe

 There are loads of recipes on the internet but most of them are over the top. I tend not to give out all recipes as I alter them so much but here it is, in its simplest form.

1 medium onion finely diced
1lb ground/minced beef (or pork or a combination of the two)
1 1/2 pints meat stock (two stock cubes) 
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 1/2 lb chunks of peeled potatoes
Grated strong cheese - I use cheddar

Add two tablespoons of oil into a frying pan and fry the onion until soft but not brown - remove from pan.
Add the meat and fry until no longer pink. Try not to stir it all the time so it can develop some crispy brown bits, but this isn't essential. Fry until any liquid that comes from the meat evaporates off. Stir the onion back in.
Add the stock, bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer and put a lid on the pan. Cook for about 30 minutes. Thicken either with cornflour and water or gravy granules to your preferred thickness.

Most people don't do this next part but I prefer to. Tip the contents of the pan through a strainer, sieve or colander, KEEPING all the liquid. Tip the drained meat into your cooking dish/dishes. A lasagne type dish works well or two smaller dishes. Leave to go cold.

Cook the potatoes until done. Drain and mash with salt and pepper, a little milk and butter/margarine. Place in spoonsfuls on top of the meat and carefully spread over to cover the meat. Top with as much cheese as you wish.
Bake in a 190C - 200C oven for about 30 - 40 minutes or until bubbling slightly and the cheese has melted and going slightly crispy.
Warm the rest of the gravy you strained off earlier towards the end of cooking. Serve as is or with your chosen vegetables.
We rarely have all meat in ours. Most of the time we will use 1/2 lb meat and lots of diced vegetables. Sometimes I top the potato with a bag of smashed hula hoops to give a crunch topping. If I have no fresh potatoes I will use instant. Measure out a 6 person serving into a large bowl. Add the required liquid but use half milk and half water, add about 1oz of butter and some black pepper.
Also, if you have leftover meat, vegetables and gravy from a roast, mince that and use, remembering to add a few spoonfuls of the gravy into the meat/vegetable mix otherwise it will be too dry
Hope that helps.

Monday 15 November 2021

Just for a change

 I made us an all meat cottage pie, using both beef and pork. It was topped with milky buttery instant mash from our stores. Strong cheddar cheese on top of that and the last few slices of dehydrated tomatoes from summer last year. The tomatoes look burnt but they weren't:

Served with leeks and gravy, it really hit the spot. I made two so the other one is in the freezer for another day.

Sunday 14 November 2021

Trench composting

So far so good with regard to actually digging and filling trenches. The end of my raised bed (bed 3), has so far had 3 trenches filled. Trenche 4 is almost done and I should be able to squeeze another row in before starting at the opposite end of the bed. I use a large hand shovel to dig a line about 6" wide and 8" deep. Kitchen scraps are put in and buried:

It is supposed to take about 3 months (don't know whether that means all year round or just the warmer weather) for it to be composted and integrated into the soil. We shall see. I think I will have a few potato seedlings sprouting as witness to the small green shoot in the top picture!

Saturday 13 November 2021

Solving a planting problem

We inherited two Victorian chimney pots from my inlaws. Over the years, we have tried growing things in them, either in pots, or filling them up with soil. Nothing lasted, always drying out too much and dying.

Hopefully we have now solved the problem. Some artificial plants, like boxes, always look really false to me. The other month, I found some artificial leylandii. Didn't buy them as they were too expensive. However, since receiving my pension, I decided to buy two and 'plant' them up:

DB made a base for them to sit on, then stones were put around the pots they came in. Finally he attached them to the nearby fence with wire. I really like them and they lift that area of the back fence and blend in well.

Wednesday 10 November 2021

A couple of meals from this week and steam trains are racist - I kid you not!

 Chicken tomatillo stew on top of mashed potato:

Vegetable, bockwurst and paprika soup - using up all my leftovers:

The soup made enough for nearly 3 days so was a nice bonus from the bottom of the fridge and vegetable cupboard!

This is the link to the steam train article here.

Have the snowflake and woke brigade got nothing better to do? Its like they are trying to rewrite history.

I have also heard rumours that because ships use fossil fuel, they are being look at being made redundant due to climate change. Lorries, trains and other forms of transport also use the same fuel. Soon, we won't be able to move anything around the planet and will find life very difficult.


Sunday 7 November 2021

I forgot that yesterday

 Was just 7 weeks until Christmas Day! Today we began to wrap presents already bought and it felt good to do so. Cards are finished, addressed and stamped but still lots to do yet. What though, at the moment, I don’t quite know.

We are busy slowly clearing the front garden. We had our hedge cut Friday and it looks so much better. I just hope we get to spend Christmas with family and nothing jeopardises it. Maybe that’s why I can’t quite get going re food. DS and family will be here all being well.

Thursday 4 November 2021

The last few days

Have certainly felt very cold. We have woken up to temperatures of between 1C - 3C. The sun does give a hint of warmth when it fights to get out from the clouds but the very brisk wind soon tempers it.

I had my Pfizer booster jab on Tuesday, it certainly seems different to the Astra Zeneca one. No reaction from that at all, didn't feel it going in. This time though I did feel it (same nurse) and felt the fluid going in. She warned me that the booster is giving some people side effects.

I was fine until just before bed when my arm was getting quite sore and I felt a bit under par. Didn't sleep at all well due to my arm. The next day I felt a bit off. Woke up with a mild headache which got gradually worse throughout the day. DS informed me that their nurses had advised taking paracetamol throughout the day whether it was required or not!

I took some pills and felt not quite right for most of the day. Eventually, I went to bed, at my normal time, taking yet more pills. I have woken up this morning and feel fine. No headache and arm about 90%.

Already had my flu jab so am as prepared as possible for anything heading my way. We are still being careful especially finding somewhere to eat on our walking days. Most pubs we know of, are small and too crowded, so that side of things is influencing where we walk.

DDiL and DGD both had Covid recently (DDiL double vaccinated), plus her mum having had it twice (once before being vaccinated and once afterwards), I think it pays to still take care.

I just find it a tad annoying that we are still prepared to protect others (which helps protect us) but quite a few people now are not reciprocating:(

Roast belly pork slices, roast carrots and roast potato wedges for lunch today - yum.

Tuesday 2 November 2021

Whilst the oven was on and a hard watch!

 I baked us an apple, sultana and ground almond pie:

We shared one half between us with custard for a light tea. The other half was eaten yesterday.

Poor Andy was as flat as a pancake yesterday, absolutely no energy. He ate two energy bars and drank 5 special drinks, to no avail. He lost the first set 6-4. Was down second set 5-3 and squeezed a 7-5 win. Better in the third set, managed to get a tie break. Could have won, should have won but lost 8 match points before losing:(

Not on his own though, Dan also lost. Cameron got through though.

Sunday 31 October 2021

Eating what I made on my last post

The word faggot means different things in different cultures and languages. Growing up in the UK, it primarily means a meatball fashioned from (if lucky), poor cuts of meat but primarily offal. It was a way to use up leftover items from slaughtering animals. In some parts of the UK these are known as savoury ducks. 

Other uses of this term can be found here.

Anyway, today we had one of the 4 portions made the other day, served with the traditional mashed potato and peas:

We finished of with a chocolate coated mint ice cream lolly - lovely.

Friday 29 October 2021

What am I making this morning for the freezer?

Below we have 1lb pork shoulder, 1lb bacon pieces, 1 egg, 6oz pork liver. There should have been 2 x 150g packets of sage and onion stuffing:

The meat was minced and the egg, dry stuffing, 6 fl oz cold water and 1 heaped teaspoon ground black pepper added to the minced meats.

Two large ice cream scoops of mixture were formed into flattened patties and put on a lined baking pan, plus 2 roughly chopped onions. They were cooked for 50 minutes at 200C. The meat was removed to cool off into 4 containers. 

I put the onions, 1/2 can cherry tomatoes, 1 1/2 pork stock cubes, 2 tablespoons tomato puree, 1 tsp garlic and 1 teaspoon ground paprika into a large jug and topped it up to the 2 pints mark with boiling water. This was transferred into a pan brought to the boil. It was thickened to the desired consistency, taste adjusted and whizzed up to create a smooth gravy.

There you have it, homemade faggots and gravy. I faggot each plus gravy, potatoes and vegetables so enough for us 2 for 4 meals.

This recipe was originally from Frugal Queen but I have adapted it to our tastes.

Tuesday 26 October 2021

Up and up!

 On our way out this morning, we noticed petrol had gone up 3p per litre since last week. Our shopping bill, still for the usual items, is about 30% more than 6 months ago. Still buying a few extra things each week to put away, spreading the cost for the next few months.

Come January, the full tax import and export duty will be fully implemented at all ports. Remember the chaos last year when they tried to implement it and we were given extra time to sort it out. I don’t know if we/other countries have done that, or whether the border force have been increased. I do know, on some blogs, that people have mentioned the increase in fields used for storing shipping containers that can’t currently go anywhere.

Sunday 24 October 2021


 Christmas cards are finished! I have written out mine and just need the address list printing off to finish the job. DB does his family so the job isn’t too much for one of us. I have a few birthdays cards to do plus decide what presents to make for posting/giving.

Another lot of washing is on the line. Although cold it is windy so hopefully will dry. DB has just ironed the drying from yesterday.

Garden bin will get emptied this week then we can carry on putting the garden to bed.

I will make some fruit scones soon. As we now eat our main meal at 12:00, we will have one with stewed rhubarb and custard for tea. Our meal will be tomatillo chicken and rice.

Saturday 23 October 2021

Washing and creating

Yesterday in the wind and slight warmth, I managed to get all the dog bedding washed and mostly dried. Today is grey and dismal but our bedding is on the line. I doubt it will dry but at least it will have some fresh air and hopefully dry a little.

The past few days I have been busy, amongst other things, starting to create my Christmas cards. General ones (20) have been stamped and hand coloured. Just the inside flysheets to do then they will be finished.

I have now started on our family/friends versions. Hope to get them completed by the start of next week, we shall see.

Must check stamps and see if I need anymore before the Post Office, like everyone else, decides to raise the price on them. Gosh, things are getting so expensive all round aren't they?

Friday 22 October 2021

We are glad

 We got our heating oil when we did. It cost us 48p per litre on 30th September. Today, it is between 63p and 73p per litre, depending on how quickly you want it delivered.

Petrol has gone up 7p per litre in just a few weeks. Better keep you car topped up as much as you can...

Wednesday 20 October 2021

Flu jabs - tick!

 DB and I had our flu jabs today. Didn’t feel a thing and so far, neither of us has a sore arm. Unusual especially for me!

DB is due to get his Covid booster on Friday. I was 3 weeks behind him so need to wait a little longer. People are just letting their guard down too much we think. Mask wearing is reducing in lots of places.

Despite hardly going out, DDiL has Covid. She began to feel unwell last week, positive PCR today. DS so far is okay and although DGD has been ill, she has been tested as well. Negative so far but she seems fine now.

None of us know where we will pick up or catch Coronavirus from, let alone Nora-virus or flu. We shall continue to keep ourselves as safe as possible.

Saturday 16 October 2021

Preparations still ongoing

Oil tank filled, log stores full, papers for lighting the fire, still collecting. DB is chopping kindling each day, trying to get our kindling store sorted out a bit more.

So far I have preserved piccalilli, marmalade, green tomato chutney, mincemeat and jam. I shall do one more lot of marmalade then that may be enough.

My Brexit box, which came in useful for the early months of lockdown, has been filled up and then some. People think I am strange but I really don't care. Its not just about preparing for winter anymore, its preparing for whatever. Not some imaginary apocalypse scenario but food shortages/mega increases in food, fuel and other items or possible energy shortages. 

Forewarned is forearmed. If buying items now to squirrel away is seen as foolish, guess I am a fool? No, I am simply buying now to help those price hikes not hurt so much in the future. We have lived through hard times and can do so again. 

We know how to conserve our water supply, how to reduce our fuel bill, cook from scratch, keep warm, and clean our homes with just a few items rather than a ton of sprays, full of chemicals.

It occured to me the other day to go through my digital bookmarks, for recipes I am interested in and get them either printed out or written into a recipe book. Hints and tips on all kinds of problems also need to be jotted down. 

Have you ever thought what would happen if the internet/power went down for a prolonged period of time. We wouldn't be able to shop as neither the tills nor your bank cards would work. Cash can't be gotten hold off and even if you had some, where could you spend it? Stocktaking is all done via the tills. What goes out needs to be brought back in etc.

No power for days on end, heat, lights, cooking? A family member lives in an all electric bungalow. I have persuaded her to buy a small flat camping stove to boil water for hot drinks, filling hot water bottles to keep warm, simple food cooking. She will be buying extra candles, lanterns and a head torch. She has loads of batteries for items already.

Think about it, are you prepared?

More window blinds

 The new blinds that fit into the double glazed window rubber bits are very effective. A year has passed since we fitted a set to the bedroom windows. Full moonlit nights and sunny mornings are no longer a problem, the room remains quite dark.

We have waited to buy a set for the lower windows in the lounge. The side window already had some. We do have white vertical blinds. Whilst they give privacy, they do nothing again the bright sunlight or cold air dropping down. Yes, although they are double glazed, cold air  still drops down a little, making my feet feel cold.

They seemed to take a bit more adjusting than last time but for the most part, are now done. Might need a little tweaking. Below in the picture, right hand side, is the blind and its surround fitted and in the upright position:

These blinds can be opened from the top or bottom but we tend to have them closed at the top, then pull the bottom bit into place when needed. Gosh, they made such a difference last evening. We don't have plans to do the two little windows yet, we will decide later on.

Friday 15 October 2021

Hot off the press!

 About 9.00pm last night, I set to peeling and salting vegetables ready to make piccalilli:

After giving them a thorough rinse and drain this morning, the mustard sauce was made and here we are:
They will need a minimum of 6 weeks to mature before we can start to eat them. The middle jar will be used first as I didn't quite have enough to fill it. I have one jar from last year and the vegetables are still quite crunchy. Another job ticked off!

Tuesday 12 October 2021

Dark and tart!

DB thawed the outside freezer yesterday. Sorting through the myriad bags of fruit, we came across some from 2019 and let them thaw. One was a bag of blackberries, the pips from which  we are not too keen on after thawing. They were stewed and pushed through a sieve.

Having weighed the rest of the fruit, plus the blackberry juice, they were put into a preserving pan ready to make jam:

I tend to use 85% rather than 100% fruit to sugar ratio as it gives a more fruity (and often tarter) taste. Lemon juice is sometimes required to help it set. These jars contain rhubarb, plums, damsons and the blackberry juice. It tastes beautiful.


Sunday 10 October 2021

Advocaat muffins finished off

Herewith the Advocaat muffins from the other day, topped with Advocaat frosting and a half cherry. Last time, I used maroshino cherries but had to settle for rinsed glace ones this time:

Cream 125g butter with 100g white sugar. Add in two tablespoons from 125g self raising flour. Add 1 beaten egg, then the rest of the flour. Finally stir in 80ml Advocaat. Using a spoon or a 1 1/2" ice cream scoop, divide into 8 deep muffin cases in tins.

Bake at 180C for 15 - 20 minutes or until done. Remove from the tin and leave to go cold.

To make the frosting, blend 25g butter with 150g icing sugar. Stir in 30ml Advocaat. Divide between all the tops and smooth on. Add 1/2 a rinsed glace cherry (or better still), a whole marashino (cocktail) cherry on top as decoration.

We had one each for supper with a cup of tea. The rest were open frozen then put into a bag and left in the freezer.

Friday 8 October 2021

Epic Double Fail

 I opened a brand new packet of yeast today. Opening one of the 8 sachets inside, I baked bread. Total fail. I repeated the make, opening yet another sachet, total fail:

They didn't rise properly therefore didn't cook properly - they are as heavy as a brick. Having had an error come up on my bread making machine, I wondered if it was that so watched it go through its paces on the second loaf. I tested the yeast after the second fail, yes, I know I should have done it after the first:( 

Dead as a dodo! Almost 1kg of flour wasted, I hate waste!!!

On a better note, the chocolate cookies and the start of advocaat muffins went fine.

Thursday 7 October 2021

Why you can't blame all our problems on Brexit

This very informative 9 minute video from Ros Atkins, helps explains all the links in the chain - worldwide - that are causing problems: here.

If you think it is all going to blow over quickly, sadly, you are wrong.

Russia blames the EU for the current gas crisis, the EU blames Russia. Russia, who supples 35% of gas to the EU, says they could offer more! 

The world has continued to move more and more products to China, all in the name of greed. 

It was cheaper to have products made there (and Asia) because of desperate people willing to work for a pittance.  How many times do you buy anything and find it made in China/Asia - hundreds of times I suspect.  

The world as a whole just doesn't make anything themselves anymore, chosing instead to outsource them and use the 'just in time' policy that is currently crippling us all.

Taiwan is responsible for most of the worlds 'chips', see here.

Guess who is threatening Taiwan - yup - China. I wonder why!!!!! 

Climate change is affecting more countries causing severe crop failures, not just occasionally, but now more regularly. Worldwide aquafers (which took millions of years to form) are drying up due to drought (some are nearly empty). They are drawn up for farm irrigation but what happens when they all run dry. Already they have gone from green to amber, now red - worldwide, see the third in a trilogy of water programmes from the BBC - here. 

To say I was shocked by all three was an understatement yet scientists have been screaming warnings for decades and no-one has listened, particualarly the more affluent countries.

Unfortunately, the BBC links might not work outside the UK.

Tuesday 5 October 2021

Exchanging summer for winter

 All my summer clothing has been folded and put away in the top of my wardrobe. All winter items that were up there have been brought down, ironed and hung up. Winter boots and shoes have replaced summer sandals.

Way past their best summer vests have gone for rags or been thrown. The best 3 have been put away. I have invested in 6 thermal vests, a new walking coat and normal coat. The coats came with 30% off. They will both last me years. Gloves hats and scarves are checked over ready to use.

DB has bought new walking boots and trousers, with 30% off. Again, they should last years. We are both ready.

Newspapers are being stocked up (via friends). Oil, logs and kindling are organised. Over the next few weeks I will buy in Christmas items of food. We will eat them all through until Spring. With supply being all over the place, I want to be able to give my guests something nice to eat rather than nothing. We are not a last minute ‘just in time’ household.

My Brexit boxes have grown, they now cover anything and everything required to cover any shortfalls due to the global supply problems. If you can’t see the problems occurring, or think it won’t happen, or affect you and yours, just remember the recent fuel crisis panic buying. That was just fuel...

Sunday 3 October 2021

More worry for some

The England government is in talks to decide whether pensioners will have to pay for their prescriptions. Under current legislation, once you reach 60, you are entitled to free prescriptions.

They are now proposing that you don't receive them until of pensionable age, exemptions not withstanding. Well, no surprise there then.

I must admit I always felt guilty getting them free of charge when I could afford to pay for them but also realised for many, they were a Godsend. I also thought they are losing a lot of money not charging us. Seems they are looking at doing so!

Saturday 2 October 2021

Mincemeat done!

We got enough to fill two jars and a small bowlful leftover:

I have one cooking apple left which is currently stewing. It will be added to the remaining mincemeat to make a crumble.

Friday 1 October 2021

A different form of composting

 The mini compost bins in each vegetable bed worked well but couldn't hold much and took up too much growing space. A change is needed.

I had never heard of trench composting. The idea is that you dig a trench and slowly fill it with composting bits (kitchen waste and soaked paper in our case), before covering over with soil. It rots down in situ and feeds the plants directly.

Now my beds are almost empty I have dug my first trench out, about a spade deep, and pilled the soil from it alongside its length.

So far two lots of kitchen waste have been put in and covered. I plan to do this all winter and see how it fares. You can off course do it all year long if you have enough gaps between plantings.

I shall report back in Spring on this and let you know how it went.

Thursday 30 September 2021

Christmas Mincemeat

This morning, I started a half quantity of Delia's mincement - see here:

DS doesn't like candied peel so I replace that with dried apricots and glace cherries. The above will sit until tomorrow morning now, being stirred a few times during the day, to help dissolve the sugar. I also reduce the sugar content by about 10% as we don't like ours too sweet.

Covered with one of my birthday wax wraps - lovely! 

Monday 27 September 2021

Fleas - maybe:(

 Last night Ruby began to shake her right ear vigously. We got a torch and checked her ear thinking it might be a grass seed. Running around inside was a small creature which I think was a flea but could have been anything. Took a while to catch it and flush it down the sink. We checked her again and applied a flea treatment as she was well overdue.

Her bedding was changed and washed on a hot wash and her bed hoovered out. We hoovered all around as far as we could - it was late at night! Now, she hates topical flea treatments and runs around cowering as though in pain or discomfort. Daren't risk a tablets as she hates those even more and worming tablets make her vomit:( It took an hour for her to calm down enough to go to bed hence why we are loathed to use it.

Today we have combed her, then used a nit comb. Nothing to speak off. No more creatures nor flea dirt. On the inside of her ears though were lots of white things, more flakes than eggs we thought. We combed them over and over to get as many of them out then used a natural oil, rubbed all over the area, to help sooth her ears (more from the combing any anything else). No red bites anywhere as far as we could see.

The rug we combed her on is now on a hot wash and the house has been hoovered through. We have sent for diatomaceous earth for both the carpets and her if necessary. Time will tell.

Sunday 26 September 2021

Green Tomato Chutney

Due to blight, I had to harvest all my tomatoes whilst still green. They have been indoors now for over 2 weeks. They do still have their superb home grown taste but the skins are thickening which is a shame.

As they are quickly turning red I managed to find just enough for a small batch of green tomato chutney:

Wasps love the smell of hot vinegar and we have had to create en emergency net covering for one of the kitchen windows. I would usually wait until it is pouring with rain before making chutney but needs must this time. Wasps and flies tend not to be around too much in rain.

I managed to get 2 1/2 jars. They need to mature for a minimum of 6 weeks before using, then the two full ones will store and the half full one will be used up:

Saturday 25 September 2021

Thank you news people

 We never plan on going into town on a Friday as the traffic is often impossible. I opened up my new yoghurt only to find it curdled and my last two bananas off:( We drove to our nearest large shop to find huge queues - at the petrol station.

We have recently gotten into the habit of filling our petrol tank once a month and it was due. We meant to do it yesterday but forgot so DB had to join the queue whilst I bought a few food items. Didn't want to but reckon it will only get worse over the coming days.

It was hard work finding him when I came out as I had no idea where he was. Luckily I spotted him filling up!

Andy lost yesterday but still did well. I would say 10 poor shot choices at the wrong times. Should have won the tie break but his first serve went awol.

Friday 24 September 2021


 A couple of days ago, I made my first batch of marmalade for this winter. I try to make two batches as some is given for Christmas presents, the rest we will use throughout the rest of this year and most of next:

The jar on the left is orange and ginger, the rest are plain orange.

Thursday 23 September 2021

Empty shelves

I'm sure it must depend on when you shop but it was apparent that quite a few shelves had their tins, jars and packets pushed towards the front. They were empty behind and nothing on the top out of reach shelves that normally house extra stock. However, the frozen vegetables and toilet paper were well stocked, unlike our last visit. 

I needed Milton fluid for cleaning with and had to get a 500ml bottle rather than my usual 1 litre one. There was hardly any there and I only took one:

Toothpaste was low, and an entire suite of shelves down one side would have been empty but they made it look full by filling up with many different products from around the store.

Didn't check the meat as I had already bought it from Lidl.

Wednesday 22 September 2021

Just two sets to win

 Well done Andy. Just beaten Pospisil 6-3, 6-3. Not so many aces but on the whole, a lot of the old Andy on show.

Meat buying

I had planned on buying quite a bit of meat (to us at least) two weeks ago but forgot so did it today. I already have Quorn and 2 very large pork fillets in the freezer. Now I bought beef, pork, chicken and some bockwurst, along with some bacon lardons:

Above 4 stewing steak and the bockwurst.
2 pieces x 4 pork shoulder, 3 pieces x 4 belly pork slices and 4 individual chicken breasts. There are already 3 chicken breasts in the freezer. We only use one between us, usually in a stir fry.
Two packets of lardons.

We went to Marks and Spencer today, still no chunky chicken in white sauce, and this time, no chunky steak in gravy. I did buy myself a relatively cheap winter coat though so that was a bonus.

I forgot to tell you that after an almost 2 hours phone call (on hold with inane music), trying to get through to the pension department I succeeded. She was surprised I hadn't heard anything since applying back in April and put me on the emergency pension department computer list. They are legally obliged to sort things out in 48 business hours apparently!

Within a day they had replied, two days later they told me how much I would be receiving (back dated) and what and when future payments would be. I received my backdated pension one week after that. Hence treating myself to a new coat!

Tuesday 21 September 2021

Well done Andy

 He has just beaten a player ranked 26. A bit dicey at times, but served up 18 aces including one to win. A few things to work on but we will see how he goes.

First pie of the year

 Homegrown (few) apples, blackberries and a leftover bought nectarine. Before lid went on:

Side view, its about 1.5" deep:
Top view:

We shall have 1/4 each for tea with some custard, the rest another evening. We now each our main meal during the day, most days.

Monday 20 September 2021

Quick protection when painting

I have almost run out of very old clothes suitable only for painting. An old blue and white check top was full of holes so I used that. After painting the raised bed black, it went in the bin. Old jeans were cut into shorts, keeping those for summer gardening. Finally, I protected myself as much as possible wearing a black dustbin bag. I looked like a scarecrow but didn't care!

Bed now painted and protected against the elements:

I sowed some radish, lettuce and beetroot under fleece. The latter two, if lucky, will give us some leaves in a few weeks.


Sunday 19 September 2021

Do you use fabric conditioner?

I don't and haven't done so for many years. I had read, from several sources, about what was in it and decided to stop using it. Instead I turned to true white vinegar, rather than the chip shop stuff. I used to be able to buy 5 litre containers locally but now have to buy online. It doesn't leave a smell, softens fabric quite well, helps keep the machine clean, can be used for other cleaning jobs - what's not to like? 

Rhonda had this link on her blog so will also link to it here.

I have also recently ordered 1 kg food grade each of citric acid and bicarbonate of soda, for cleaning and baking purposes. Since putting bicarb and vinegar down my sinks once a week, smells that were building up have gone. 

I use citric acid to clean my kettle and help get limescale from taps and remove the grunge from the base of them where they join the sink. I also use it whilst making elderflower cordial. If you use citric acid for any other reasons, can you let me know! 

Saturday 18 September 2021

Autumn is coming

In meteorological and gardening terms, autumn is already here. I was taught it doesn't arrive until the autumn equinox which can be 21st, 22nd or even 23rd September. Indeed in 2303 it will be the 24th!

The nights are drawing in, with a chill often in later afternoon or early evening. It isn't quite so light early in the morning. Dew is often on the ground, up in the trees, on the outside of windows. Mists and light fog start to make their return and driving becomes more difficult due to the low angle of the sun, especially on wet roads, when driving with the sun in your eyes:(

The sun when not obscured by clouds, can pack a bit of a punch and is still capable of inducing sunburn.

Whilst the summer quilt is still on the bed, winter sheets went on a few weeks ago. Heading towards the colder weather, a halfway measure will be the summer quilt and a light eiderdown. Then when I in particular feel chilly throughout the night, those are removed to be replaced by the winter quilt. When winter really bites, that quilt often has the light eiderdown on it or the summer quilt laid on top.

I don't like leaving the curtains open as the daylight fadesand they are getting closed earlier each week or so.

DB cleaned out the gutters and we are both working slowly to remove faded leaves and dead flower buds from the garden. The first two coats of paint have gone on the moved pieces of wood on the revamped vegetable bed. A first batch of jam has been made,  more things will follow each week until my list  is done. Elderberries need to be gathered for winter cordial. A  pair of trousers and a new walking coat for me need to be bought. Other than that, we are about ready.

Friday 17 September 2021

Trying a new to me Eco Wash Sheet

 *I have not been paid to advertise this, just trying it and seeing how it performs*.

Although I have made my own laundry liquid for many years I thought I would try something else. Something that works and is as Eco friendly as possible. There are many such things to try but I settled on this.

If you buy it as a one off it is quite expensive £15 for 40 sheets. If you subscribe, that price drops to £9. We estimated how many washes we do in a week and settled on a trial of 2 packets (80 sheets) every 3 months. This can be adjusted up or down depending on how things go. Shipping is free. Unfortunately, like an awful lot of things, they are made in China for now but the company plan to manufacture them in several world zones so I hope they do that soon.

The sheets are in a cardboard package, which can be composted. The inks used to print it are eco friendly and it comes in a postal cardboard envelope:

Each sheet measure about 5.5" x 4.5" and one sheet is designed for a  'full' load. Two are required for heavy loads and for a smaller wash, the sheets can be cut or torn in half. They can be fragrance free as above, or fragranced. I am going to try half a sheet soon to see how it fares. UPDATE - it worked well!

We rarely have heavily stained clothes so can't vouch for that type of wash but so far so good. They appear to create little suds and so far, I haven't used any fabric conditioner. The clean washing just smells clean with no overpowering chemical smell.

Wednesday 15 September 2021

Flat as a pancake

 Andy Murray and Katie Boulder that is. Worst I have seen Andy play for ages, just couldn’t get going. Katie played better but is carrying an injury in her serving arm.

Oh well, onwards and upwards. Not easy being a British tennis fan, for the most part.

Tuesday 14 September 2021

Bar the painting...

The adjustment of the raised beds is finished, apart from the painting. Unfortunately we had to go get the paint today, now it's raining, so it will need a few days to dry before it can be painted:

Where the bed was. We still need to adjust the level and add a few more bags of gravel. It was part of this is the fence I tripped over:)
If anyone likes Cuprinol Shades paint for outdoor wood painting, it is half price (£12 per 2.5 litre tin) in Wilko (formerly Wilkinsons). Don't know how long the offer will last.

Monday 13 September 2021

Nothing shows your age more

 Than a fall:(

It was tiny and a bit my own fault but there you go. I was lifting the hose over a small 18" high fence and started to feel dizzy as I was doing so. Consequently, I didn't lift my back lower leg high enough. It caught and I thought, being clever, I would just use the toes on that foot to grip the fence but didn't manage it.

I grabbed hold of the fruit cage netting, ripping the corner off one nail. The front of my ankle caught and scraped on the top of the fence and down I went, knees first onto gravel. Luckily, I managed to stop the full impact on my knees with my hands so ended up with deep marks on knees and hands rather than a myriad of cuts!

Still shook me up though. I am keeping an eye on my blood pressure as it has been lower than normal of late. If it keeps happening, I shall have to try and run the receptionists gauntlet and to see the doctor.

Sunday 12 September 2021

Garden beds update

 First of all though, well done Emma. I thought your nerves were getting the better of you, as you played differently to all previous matches. However, your guts and determination prevailed and here you are, 18 years old and your first Grand Slam.

We have both worked hard today on the raised beds. Polythene was attached to the lower two portions before the slog began of moving soil. Despite it being bone dry it was still hard work. One layer moved, the rest will be done tomorrow as our backs are starting to ping! The view down beds 1 to 2:

What is left of bed 3 before we began moving soil:

And the new bit inbetween is coming along nicely:

More tomorrow.

Saturday 11 September 2021

Tennis on Channel 4 tonight

 For those without a streaming service, Channel 4 will be showing Emma Raducanu match tonight. Let’s hope this doesn’t put the mockers on her chances of winning!

Friday 10 September 2021

Changes afoot - again...

It has taken me a couple of years to decide on this back garden change. It doesn't need to be done but I would rather it is. Thank goodness DB is 'happy' to do it - ha!

We have 3 raised vegetable beds, each occupying its own area. Having created a new border at the back of the garden, bed 3 just blocks too much of it so is getting moved. First picture below shows beds 1 and 2 and a smidge of bed 3:

This one beds 2 and 3:
It will be moved and joined onto beds 1 and 2 but only to 3/4's of the depth so we don't need to bring in extra soil:
Each of the timbers on the beds, and each level, are joined by metal brackets which have to be cut off with an angle grinder. DB started in the heat a few days ago but hopes to finish in a few days now the cooler weather has arrived. Enough have been removed for now to get the back bit joined - watch this space!