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!

Thursday, 9 September 2021


 It is 02:10 and I can’t sleep. I have already had one sit up and read, this is my second. You would think a few hours walking by the sea would help, but no! At least I have slept for a couple of nights so that is a bonus.

Insomnia is a sod and I wish it would sod off.

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Poor things

 DS and family are on holiday, at long last after all their cancellations. Unfortunately they got stuck in a very long traffic jam driving down. 

The next day, DS was quite ill and they thought perhaps food poisoning. He had eaten something different to his wife and daughter at a service station.

The next day however, DDiL started with it and spent all day in bed. So far, fingers crossed granddaughter is fine. Only 4 days left to enjoy themselves but they seem to be out and about so all must be well.

Monday, 6 September 2021


For the first time since the start of the school holidays, we finally went to the seaside. With most of the schools back it was not very busy thank goodness. Ruby had a whale of a time. The sea was too far out but she enjoyed running through some very deep puddles. One in particular took her by surprise as halfway through it, she sunk, popped up like a cork and paddled her way out. She needed a thorough wetting as for some reason lately, she has smelt a bit.

On the way back to the car, walking through the dunes, we noticed a couple in the distance picking fruit. At first I thought it was blackberries but the leaves were wrong. As we approached we realised they were apples, which they said are lovely and can be eaten as they are or cooked. They were picking some to make a blackberry and apple pie.

Luckily we had a spare dog poo bag so filled it from three very small trees:

We returned to the car where we had a good gulp of water then parked further into the shopping area. Walked to get chips, fishcake and curry sauce. Very nice.  A further walk took us to the ice cream shop for 'pudding' before walking back to the car.

We stopped off at a garden centre to buy some winter viola and wallflowers to fill my three new shallow pots for winter.

Ruby is now asleep and snoring like a good un!

Sunday, 5 September 2021

Cheesed off now...

Despite spraying faithfully, every one or two weeks with Disprin, my tomatoes have got blight. I did stop a month ago so my fault probably. We have had such cold, wet and cloudy summer and without a greenhouse, it is difficult to grow them outdoors in such weather. It is the first time in many years this disease has struck, so I do believe the spraying helps and will keep it up better next year. 

I haveharvested all tomatoes and will try and ripen them indoors, checking daily for disease:(

Two x A3 trays:


Friday, 3 September 2021

The weirdest of dreams

 I was looking out of our front windows (in my dream), watching small bits of dead bracken fly by. Not thinking anything of it, I carried on doing what I was busy with. When I next looked, more bracken was flying by, slowly but surely, forming into clumps. Similar to tumbleweed in western films.

I called DB several times but he didn't come. After a short while, I looked up again, to see these balls of bracken had formed into nests. Sitting inside them, were all manner of birds. I shouted to DB to come see but still he didn't arrive.

There were ostrich, hens, geese, peacocks, birds large and small, nodding their heads to me, drifting serenely by. I was mesmerised but eventually, just as I heard DB finally coming, they slowly faded and by the time he got to me, they had gone.

How weird was that? What had my brain seen and was trying to sort out?

Monday, 30 August 2021

Tea Loaf

This was a Sainsburys recipe (in which we halved the sugar content). It was still too sweet and needed way more liquid than they said. We won't use it again. However, it is okay to eat just not to our taste. I remembered after starting it that I had a far nicer currant loaf recipe, the fruit can be exchanged for what you like so will stick to that:

Wrapped in a piece of my birthday wax wrap:
It will last us a few days at one slice a day.

Sunday, 29 August 2021

A stitch in time!

 I have been watching a simple 2" tear in the bedroom net curtain, expand into a 10" one and just done nothing. It was beginning to let the flies in and I hate flies.

Time to pull my finger out. I balanced the area that needed mending on the laundry basket to take the weight from the lead in its bottom hem.

Although a bit fiddly, it took less than 10 minutes and here we are:

Job done and saved us probably around £30 in buying new net. It won't last forever as the sun makes the net weak over time.

Saturday, 28 August 2021

Shrinkflation in action

Amongst many other items of note, I was really shocked yesterday. We were out and about and indulged ourselves by buying Jamacian Ginger Cake, to have at home with a cup of tea. Boy has it shrunk:

 It barely measured 3" x 1.75". They used to be twice this big because I remember checking years ago when they were at least 3" x 3".

It is happening to everything, do they think we don't notice? Surely it must be costing the manufacturers an arm and a leg to change their equipment over rather than keep the old sizes and charge more?

It has finally spurred me on to bake our own far more than I usually do. Have you noticed this?

Thursday, 26 August 2021

Two is one and one is none!

My MinL was a lovely lady but when I first took note of her pantry, I thought she was a bit overboard. She had two of everything she used and as soon as she started one, it went on her shopping list.

Being young and relatively naive I always assumed you could just go to the shops whenever they were open and thought it a bit of a joke to have a spare of anything. Indeed, when shops were completely closed after 5pm and on Sundays, it proved a bit of a pain if you ran out of anything. Boy, have I changed my thinking.

None of us know what is around the corner be it a pandemic, ill health, terrible weather (an increasing threat), loss of job and/or income. Loss of a partner and potential loss of money because of it, especially if you are living on one wage/pension.

Whilst I got caught out early on in the pandemic by lack of flour, yeast and toilet paper (of all things), I have made up for it.

When I first married, shops just did not operate a 'just in time' policy. They all had large storerooms and even larger warehouses, where many months of food were stored. They had large cool rooms or refrigerated warehouses to keep fresh food fresh, for weeks or even months. Those cool storage warehouses may still be around but long term storage in superstore attached warehouses has gone. The advent of computerized stock taking changed everything. This 'just in time' shopping is impinging globally due to the current pandemic, Brexit for us, resources, cost of transporting and lack of lorry drivers.

It is no use storing items, of food in particular, that have a long storage date, if you don't eat it. Can you make several meals out of what you have or do you have 10kg of pasta and only 2 tins of tomatoes. 

What frozen/canned/dried/home preserved meat, vegetables and potatoes do you have? Corned beef can be added to potatoes and beans for hash. It can be made into a pie if you have flour and fat. We are now stocking tinned steak and tinned chicken (after trying them to check we liked them). We hate tinned potatoes but are fine with Smash, if it is made with hot milk and butter. Tinned fish can be made into 'pies', fish cakes or pasta based dishes.

Do you have cereals, tea and coffee but no milk, sugar or sweetners. It is all well and good having frozen milk in the freezer but if the power went out for a day or longer it would thaw. 

A tip about UHT milk I learnt early on was to step down to get close to the right flavour. For example if you drink whole milk, buy semi-skimmed. If you use semi, buy skimmed. UHT milk by its nature is more creamy.

Puddings such as tinned rice, tapioca, sponges, jelly, tinned fruits etc. Don't forget tinned custard, evaporated milk or long life cream. If you have babies/children, have at least one tin of milk powder if using it, any other packets/tins of food they are eating, nappies and other items. List and rotate everything so they don't go out of date

Create emergency meals occasionally to get older children used to them. It is all very well being a picky eater or living on takeaways but if you can't get out/have a lower than expected income for some reason, those won't be available.

Pets. Do you have spare pet food and anything else they will need. DS and DDiL have a large amount of food put by, rotated so it doesn't expire but they have 4 dogs.

Medications for us and them. We can stock up on over the counter items but prescription items are harder. Try ordering slightly earlier for yourselves each time to see if you can store an extra week or two. 

Petrol/Diesel. Always keep a full tank. Free standing gas heaters/cookers/camping cookers, keep spares if possible. Batteries, you will need more of these than you realise, torches, lights, candles and matches.

I am sure things have been missed here so let me know. Soon for us, winter will be here. Judging by what is happening weatherwise everywhere else, it could be hot, warm, exceedingly wet or freezing. Are you ready?

Wednesday, 25 August 2021


DB bit the bullet and sent for a 500 rather than wait forever for a 1000 piece version of the London Underground.

It only took us 2 days on and off and was hard at times but we really enjoyed it:

Tuesday, 24 August 2021


Having had a flyer through the letter box, I decided to check out their offers. Today we went and bought a few things:

 2 x 6 packs full sized Magnum at 41p each as opposed to 62p each elsewhere. 60 Cod fish fingers at £9 but equivalent amount would have been £13.50 elsewhere. John West salmon £1.39 instead of £2.95. 2 pork tenderloin fillets each weighing 900g for £8 as opposed to £12.44 for a similar weight. 2 x 500g Quorn pieces for £5 instead of £7.72 for an equivalent weight. 

With a £2 coupon reduction for spending over £25, it came to £26.39 instead of £43.66, a saving of £17.27. We did it as part of our weekly shop and all shops are close to each other so no extra petrol used.

A great bargain in my eyes!

Sunday, 22 August 2021


Although it is later than I would like to harvest rhubarb, it was so late getting going I took the chance. I had already frozen about 2lb, this time we got another 4lb for freezing for winter use. 

About 3/4lb was leftover so along with apricots and sugar, it will be turned into a crumble:

 We enjoyed it for tea last night (a tad too much) but it was all we ate...

Saturday, 21 August 2021

Courgette Pizza Boats

DDiL cooked us a variation of these on our visit. We all enjoyed them so having been given some courgettes before we visited them, they needed using up.

I gathered all my wrinkly vegetables and roasted them. 1/4 pint of tomato and garlic sauce were added before it was all blitzed to make a vegetable tomato sauce (needs to be quite thick). 

The courgettes were cut in half and had there innards removed (added to the sauce). They were filled and chopped mozzarella placed on top.

It took 25 minutes to cook through at 210C (should have been 220C for 18 - 20 minutes. We quite enjoyed them but decided they needed either a bit of cheddar cheese, bacon or slices of pepparoni as well to pep up the flavour:

All in all a cheap and easy meal.

Friday, 20 August 2021

Canned Chicken

 Part of future proofing (prepping) my pantry, is to try new things that store well. We don't seem to have much really good quality canned meat to chose from but I had heard about Marks & Spencer chunky chicken in a cream sauce. At £3.50 for a 375g can, it isn't cheap but we were hoping it would be nicer than far cheaper versions we had tried and disliked. I am very fussy with meat and we won't be buying any minced anything! There were enough chunks for us both, equating to one really good sized breast:

I did add a pinch of dried tarragon and it was served with mashed potatoes and green beans from our garden. We both gave it 8/10. You could drain it and make a small pie, reserving the liquid for gravy. You could maybe adding something else to eek it out, such as chopped ham or mushrooms.

For an emergency meal it would be great. I had just frozen some meat, completely forgetting to keep something back for lunch so it came in handy.


Wednesday, 18 August 2021

Seasons are changing...

Being surrounding by farming land, we can see and hear, the farmers hard at work. Cereals and rape seed are currently being harvested. When needed, late into the night, you can hear the combine harvesters working both close by and up to several miles away when the wind is in the right (or wrong) direction.

In just a few short weeks, harvesting other crops such as maincrop potatoes, carrots and sugar beet will begin. Where my sister lives, they grow a lot of cabbage, cauliflower, leeks and onions and are also busy. I think some of it is going to waste as there are neither pickers nor lorries freely available for transport, to deal with it all. Prices are increasing, shelves in shops are getting more and more gaps in them and choice is getting limited.

We had a great time away visiting family. DGD can now walk very well and you can see her trying to fathom out how to walk faster and faster. Still teething bless her. She is generally such a happy little thing, bright as a button, engaged and very endearing. I was a bit worried, due to Covid restrictions last year, that I would find it difficult to bond with her, but not so, thank goodness.

We were out with her for 3 days, visiting interesting places. Two days with DDiL and one with DS. His day involved a long walk, up two very steep inclines. I struggled a bit and his back was feeling the strain of carrying DGD in her back pack.

The journey back home was longer than usual due to a 45 minute traffic jam and a couple of short 10 minute delays. Almost home we had to detour through old roads to avoid another jam.

Two days of washing clothes, berries have been picked but we still haven't caught up. Beans will need picking, blanching then freezing. I must get on with gardening as we are so far behind but it will happen when it happens. We are not too worried about it.

Friday, 13 August 2021

Sunday, 8 August 2021


I was late sowing the climbing French beans but they are producing well. This is the 2nd or 3rd colander we have processed. Some eaten fresh, the rest frozen for winter:

I think we will get at least another full one or, maybe two but they are beginning to slow down. Our tomatoes are still green so heaven knows how long they will take to go red. Oh for a greenhouse but we just don't have room.

Last year, we were eating our own tomatoes middle of July so it just shows, certainly here, how topsy turvy our weather is this year.

I may have to remove our Cox's Orange Pippin apple tree. It is not healthy, repeatedly covered in wooly aphids despite treatment. It had at least 30 apples on it but as usual, the aphids have caused most of them to fall off. The rest will follow suit soon as they look unhealthy.

Ah well, maybe time for another slight change to what we grow.

Thursday, 5 August 2021

At last!

The dress I sent for DGD arrived yesterday. It took 9 days rather than the 1 - 3 days they said. I am just pleased it has turned up.

She will try it on for me on Sunday so I can see how it looks. Like I said before, it is getting close but will still need some more adjustments. 

She wasn't a happy bunny last Sunday so we didn't get to see much of her. She kept crawling off and grumbling.

A top tooth has finally broken through so we hope that is the start of more arriving. Poor girl, so much teething, so few teeth. She has been checked out and they could see them all there, maybe one day she will surprise everyone and wake up with a mouthful - ha!

Like everyone else has said, weeds are bad this year, lots of warmth and rain. I started to water last night as some of the vegetables were not happy. Today we are forecast rain later on so hope it arrives.

Alpine strawberries are producing loads of fruit but it is a royal pain in my back, bending down for so long. Might have to rethink where and how to grow them which won't involve that. 3 smallish bags of mixed beans are in the freezer with quite a few more to come. Lettuces have either finished or are going over. Tomatoes are still green, very behind and not as many as I had hoped.

Not much else to report. See you another day.

Monday, 2 August 2021

Shelves up!

My craft room shelves have finally gone up. It has cleared both the work station and most of the additional table in the room:

Once the other table is cleared, I will be able to get out the dining room and back in there.

The shelves are floating ones but put up on normal brackets. One was put up as a trial but within about two hours of putting only half the items on it that I wanted to, it was slipping and tilting forward. Had it been left, it would have come down. So as not to waste it, we bought the additional shelving brackets, plus another shelf. 

Getting there!

Saturday, 31 July 2021

Today is my birthday

 I received some lovely presents, some known about, many unknown. Items for journaling, some more gorgeous Japanese snips, gardening gloves, bee wax wraps, soaps and a few sweets.

I am entitled to my state pension, but so far, not a peep regarding when they will start to pay it. They are supposed to be in touch within 14 days of my birthday, does that include 14 days afterwards? I know it could be up to a month before my first payment. Anyone any ideas!

Friday, 30 July 2021

Full size dress trial and rubbish Post Office service

Onwards and upwards? It is so difficult trying to make a dress for DGD when it all has to be done via FaceTime. However, we are getting closer I think:

 As mentioned before, this is not the material that will be used for the final version. I am still trying to get the fit correct. I think the waist may be too low and the skirt needs to be fuller, maybe a circle skirt would look better, who knows. Anyway, another chat this weekend to see what it looks like.

The dress should have arrived Tuesday but so far no show. What is the point paying First Class delivery when it’s worse than normal. Not good enough.

Thursday, 29 July 2021

Preparing and playing

 I decided to make some Elderflower Cordial this year. Haven't made any for quite a while:

It is crystal clear but looks slightly cloudy on the picture as I removed it from the fridge and it decided to mist up on the outside of the bottles. Just one or two tablespoons in water of your choice to make a refreshing drink. One version of the recipe can be found here,   but I use 2 lemons rather than 2 oranges.

Having found some baby board books, and purchased some Brusho paint pigments, I tried them. The plastic coating on the pages was lightly sanded down before a coat of white gesso was applied. Once dried I sprinkled on some of the powders and used clear gesso to spread them over the surface. Once that was dried, I coated it with pva glue and sprinkled on a bit extra plus white speckles. It is darker than I wanted but hey ho, such are these trials.

I drew the sunflowers and painted them in gouache paints. Once dried they were outlined in black and glued into place. Not bad for a first attempt but at the moment, I don't have plans to do too much of these for now. I will keep on experimenting though to see what I can come up with. Bleach next, maybe?

Sunday, 25 July 2021

Lack of Olympics on TV

 Apparently the BBC lost full broadcasting rights to the Olympics in 2015. These are now with Discovery + and Eurosport. The BBC can’t broadcast more that two Olympic sports at a time, hence why no multiple red buttons. Now we know.

Many viewers are angry as they aren’t seeing much rowing, gymnastics and no tennis. So I feel glad we signed up for streaming so we can at least see some sports we love.

Poor Andy has had to pull out defending his singles title due to a thigh strain, giving it up so he and Joe can concentrate on the doubles. Well done young man.

Liam Broady, a late replacement for Dan I think, has won his first match.

Still no storms or meaningful rain so far, just that fine floating drizzle occasionally. Might have to give in and water if nothing happens. It is cool so that is a bonus as the humid weather wipes me out.

Saturday, 24 July 2021


 After nearly 3 hours of frustration and stress, we could view Olympic tennis matches. According to the Eurosport Player web site, signing up gives you access to both it and Eurosport on Amazon. We are Amazon members so signed up via them, just one month for £6.99.

Nope, we could only access limited sport on the player but none of the premium tennis matches. In the end we went on the Eurosport web site, paid another monthly subscription and could finally access what we wanted. I have a feeling we made that mistake last time, must remember.

Eventually we settled to watch Andy and Joe play their doubles match. It was very good. Andy moved and served well. As it happens he has a tough first round singles draw unlike Djokovic (yet again), who had an easy draw against someone ranked 139. He is so jammy.

No storms here yet. It is quite windy and warm but not hot. I do hope we get rain though as the front garden is in need of it.

From the garden

The pansies I planted last Autumn are still going strong even but with slightly smaller flowers:

Up until now, we have been harvesting dribs and drabs of our wild alpine strawberries. Yesterday though, I managed to get a whole cereal bowl of them:
They may be small but boy, do they pack a flavour punch!

Well done Andy and Joe on winning your first doubles match. Good luck with the rest of them.