Wednesday 31 March 2021

Walking again!

 Gosh, it felt good to meet up with E., her dog, us and Ruby for our first proper walk this year. The weather was glorious although we were a tad hot and bothered by the end of the 4 miles.

We had a small takeaway snack, shared a slice of Bakewell tart between us and had a cold drink at the end of it. We had brought foldaway chairs and sat in the shade cast by the trunk of a large tree.

I was tired and aching so had a warm bath later on. This morning I was even more sore and stiff but it has now gone away. We concentrated on the dining room carpet and remaining rugs, gosh, that carpet was very grubby. Shows what you get used to! The house smells nice and fresh now. The bedrooms and conservatory will be done when the next warm weather arrives, might be a while.

We had morning and afternoon tea on the patio, plus lunch. I have finished dead heading the front garden as well as the new growth was showing.

Monday 29 March 2021

Carpet Cleaning

In order to have all our carpets cleaned, it would cost us between £100 and £200 per session. Now that we have Ruby, they are getting grubby a little bit quicker. When we have our 4 grand dogs down, grime builds up even more.

After seeing the results of DS and DDiL when their carpets were cleaned, we decided to invest in a Vax carpet cleaner. Just cleaning all the carpets twice will cover the cost of the machine and investing in a 4l bottle of cleaner will last us for 10 - 15 whole house washes.

As you know, Ruby has been unwell a few times on the carpets and hands and knees cleaning just doesn't cope well with those scenarios. The lounge carpet (very old and grubby) was changed when she became house trained otherwise it would really have smelt dreadful by now.

We began yesterday with the kitchen carpet, a large rug from the lounge and a smaller rug from the conservatory. The kitchen carpet hadn't been done for ages and the light today isn't very good to show you the difference but it is so much cleaner. Most people don't have carpet in their kitchen for this reason but we like the warmth it offers in the one room in the house that doesn't have heating:

A large blackberry and raspberry sponge cooking in the oven:
Here is the water from just the kitchen:
This is the water from the large lounge rug and smaller conservatory one:

Everywhere smells so much better. Despite a thorough hoovering beforehand, the machine still had loads of dog hairs in it when DB cleaned it after finishing. Today we plan to do the lounge and inner hall. Watch this space!

Friday 26 March 2021

Easter tree (twig)

It is a few years since we last did an Easter tree. I got reminded the other day reading Mama's Mercantile so picked three sturdy twigs yesterday. Hopefully, the warmth in the house will also open the leaf buds as I have no idea what I picked:

They are in a mini milk bottle which is inside a heavy ex candle jar.

Don't forget here in the UK, that our clocks go forward this weekend. We have a list of things we need to change ourselves alongside those that should do so automatically, but we check them anyway.

Thursday 25 March 2021

Out of sync!

My Autumn flowering pond lily has sent up a new flower. There are also some new green leaves floating - like the rest of us - it seems to be a bit out of sync.

The sun is shining brightly today although one or two light showers are predicted with more rain and cold weather for the weekend.

We are waiting for a parcel to be delivered. If it arrives early enough, we will go pick up much needed items.

Anyone taking bets yet on how mad next week will be? 

We hope to start our walking again but with the Easter school holidays happening, hope it won't be over busy where we plan to go. Normally, we would go further afield to somewhere we know won't be busy but aim to remain relatively local. We are both in agreement that we will not be in any hurry to ditch our masks or stop washing our hands.

My radishes have good first stage seed leaves showing and I hope it won't be too long before their true leaves appear. Obviously, being under cover has helped a lot. No sign yet though of the beetroot or lettuce.

The winter heathers are still in full bloom, covered in bees. Once they start to turn, I must remember to clip them back and feed the soil.

Touch wood, Ruby seems to have settled on her new food. It took a week before she was better toilet wise. She has lost a kilogram so we hope that will go back on soon. Guess she is just going to be one of those dogs with weird digestive problems which this food is supposed to help.

Her worming treatment failed. First off, she wouldn't take her usual stuff, then she had a bad reaction to a chewable alternative. We are going to try her old medicine but in a different form, disguised in a hand formed mince meatball. Hopefully that will be okay. Other than that, she is her usual cheerful self. This is her after we threw all these toys and she retrieved them:

I have started watching Max out in the Lake District, link here.

If you enjoy watching dogs, Springer Spaniels in particular, plus fantastic scenery, you will enjoy this. Kerry has a particularly soothing voice, the scenery is beautiful and the dogs often make me laugh out loud.

Wednesday 24 March 2021


Although it is supposed to be 10C outside, it is grey, cloudy and cold. Inside feels similar.

Our neighbour died on Monday, not of COVID, but it was far quicker than expected. It was only a couple of weeks ago that he was waiting to be seen by teams to work out what help was needed for them both. We haven't seen him recently, weren't able to visit him whilst in care and because of restrictions will probably not be able to attend the funeral.

We both finally had chiropractic treatment yesterday, it was badly needed. Hopefully we shall be okay for a while and get through to our next time. I am patiently waiting until I can have massages again as they keep me going inbetween treatments.

We will be able to team up for a walk next week. We are so looking forward to it and treating ourselves to a snack and hot drink afterwards (outside of course) so hope it is warm!

I noticed again, a price hike on food. Oats (when on offer at 2 packets) were £3.00 but are now £3.70. We chose a slightly cheaper brand and got them at 2 for £3.00! Tea leaves have gone up by 20p amongst other things off the top of my head.

We are going to empty out my food boxes currently under the bed and get as many items as possible into the pantry then begin again. The grace period for Brexit import and export taxes was due to finish the end of February. It has now been extended to end of April and potentially the end of July.

With the EU threatening to block vaccines I am sure they won't think twice about blocking other items just to punish us further for daring to leave them. I am getting prepared once more.

Sunday 21 March 2021

Growth at last!

Signs of growth in the vegetable, fruit and shrub garden, spring has sprung. Still, mustn't be complacent as we all know Mother Nature always has the last laugh!!

Soon, it will be April and Beechgrove Garden will begin. Monty Don started Gardener's World last Friday so all is right in the world.

Herewith some green bits - radish seedlings under cover - lettuce and beetroot still to show:

Leeks from last winter along with my mini compost bin:
One of three rhubarbs:
Summer dwarf raspberries with alpine strawberries in the background:
Hydrangea outside the kitchen window:

A few green shoots are also showing on my gooseberries. Early pears and apples have swollen flower buds on them.

Well done to Neal and Ken Skupski for winning their maiden ATP 500 tour title in Mexico.

Saturday 20 March 2021

Baking done!

Our weekly biscuits have been made - lemon and chia seed - plus a jar of granola created and baked:

We treat ourselves to just one a day with an afternoon cup of tea. Hopefully, when the sun decides to come out, it will soon be warm enough to do so on the patio.

Granola is sprinkled onto our smoothies/porridge or banana yoghurt breakfasts. It helps it last for  2 or 3 weeks.


Friday 19 March 2021

Jigsaw Central Temporarily Closed!

 It has taken us 5 days to complete my Mothers Day jigsaw - Monday:

Thursday and remaining pieces sorted into shapes before beginning:
Friday (today):

Today was the easiest day as there were only 50 or so pieces left, which we had sorted into their relevant shapes.

There must be more to life soon!

Wednesday 17 March 2021

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

The recipe for this can be found here.

As you can see, mine is a different colour as she used roasted red peppers from a jar. Might try that next time but as it is, I grilled these to char them, put them into a bag to loosen the skin and went from there:

The tub on the left went into the freezer. We shall use the tub on the right over the next couple of days. I think a 1/4 tsp of smoked paprika would have given it a more smoky taste but we found it fine.

Tuesday 16 March 2021

Trail Mix Granola Bars

Another recipe from the same site can be found here.

I no longer had an 8" x 8" tin so bought a reduced price non stick one, not just for this but other recipes as well.

I lined it in both directions so the entire thing was lined. Once everything was in there, I pressed it down with a potato masher.

Herewith our version. As you can see, we cut them into 16 squares rather than 8 fingers. They go a little soft after a few days and are slightly sticky on the bottom but gorgeous:

If I had had any chocolate leftover from doing the banana bites, I was going to dribble it over the top of these for an extra touch.

Monday 15 March 2021

Thank you son!

 Here is my Mother's Day present from DS:

I think it might take us quite a while!

This is the one we have just finished entitled Zoe's Flower Shop. It was lovely to do once we got the lower half sorted:

We had a lovely video call with DS and DGD, watching her walk around the furniture, grin 'chat' and smile at us plus have her lunch. DDiL was out with her horse so missed chatting to her.

Sunday 14 March 2021

Trialing Lentil Wraps

These things are all over the internet at the moment, due to being a protein based rather than carbohydrate based flatbread. We tried them one day and found them tedious to say the least. They do not behave in any shape or form like a pancake and take an age to cook.

After the awful first attempt, I made another batch up this time adding things.

I initially used 1/2 cup of split red lentils soaked in 1 cup of water for 3 hours. Once soaked I needed to add some more water in order to whizz the concoction into a liquid, maybe another 1/4 - 1/2 a cup or so. I used my stick blender to transform it.

Here is where I added a beaten egg, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Once that was whizzed up I still needed to add a bit more water to get the consistency of single cream.

The non-stick frying pan was put on and left to get very hot. I added a smidge of coconut oil then swirled in a 1/3 cup of mixture to the pan, creating a small circle as I went. Once this stuff hits the pan it is very difficult to swirl around but I just about managed it.

Now, most importantly, DO NOT TOUCH IT for at least 2-3 minutes before attempting to turn it over. They tear at the drop of a hat but the additon of the egg really helped.

We filled them with sweet chilli humous, salad and tinned tuna:

Then added some sliced tomato and apple. Two would have been enough. The recipe makes about 6 and they stay flexible when cold, can be covered and put in the fridge or frozen.

Saturday 13 March 2021

Chocolate Almond Butter Banana Bites

The recipe for this comes from here.

I used 2 bananas just to make sure we would like them, which we do. Slices of banana are placed on a lined pan. A small dollop of almond butter (or nut butter of your choice) is dabbed on top, before another slice of banana is added and gently pressed down:

They are then frozen for one hour before being half dipped in a few melted chunks of chocolate, with a smidgen of coconut oil in it to stop the chocolate from cracking when eaten:
We leave them to thaw for 5 minutes before eating. Any firmer than that and we get toothache from the chill. We have 3 each with a cup of tea, yum!


Thursday 11 March 2021

New Back Garden Border

Despite winter not having finished with us just yet, spring is definately springing!

Although quite a few of these plants stay around all year, winter heather is flowering as are daffodils and various primroses:

These more mature heathers are down the LHS of the back garden, underneath some fruit trees:

Swarms of bees, on warm days, have been feeding of these daily.

Tuesday 9 March 2021

2021 Census and seed sowing

Within a day of receiving our invite to participate in the 2021 census, we had gone online and filled it in. A few more questions from the last one.

No doubt, there will be those who mess about when filling it in but from an ancestry point of view, they are very useful. Despite that, our ancestors were not always truthful when it came to it.

We won't be able to access the 1921 census until next year so will look forward to that.

Raised bed 3 in the back garden, has had a cover on it for several weeks now. It was getting a bit too wet from the incessant rainfall. I managed to sow 3 half rows of radish, beetroot and Cos lettuce. Hopefully they will come up soon and not be eaten by slugs of which I am sure, there are many in there:(

The cover has gone back on in preparation for the awful weather due tomorrow and Thursday. We are due to have 'black winds' (high winds marked in black on the weather forecast) from 11am Wednesday until 5pm on Thursday afternoon. Gulp!

Welcome to Phoebe!

Sunday 7 March 2021

My revamped Welsh dresser storage area

I had so many things in different containers in my cupboards. They were driving me nuts! Searching up in the attic as well as the cupboards, we found quite a few kilner storage jars. 6 more were bought to get the amount needed. Here is the before picture:

Then afterwards - much better use:

The jars contain nuts, seeds, dried fruits, beans, lentils, pasta, rice and flours.

Saturday 6 March 2021

A lovely meal added to our menu

 Eggs in (on) tomato sauce with Chickpeas and Spinach

The original (and now adapted) recipe for this can be found here.

My adaptions are, for 1/2 the original recipe:

1 can of crushed tomatoes. 1 can of chickpeas.  50g Feta cheese cut into small cubes.
1 tablespoon tomato puree and a good dash of soy sauce. 

We cook the recipe up until the egg stage. Add the tomato puree, soy sauce and Feta cheese. Whilst this carries on cooking slowly, we poach the eggs, two at a time in a separate pan.

Half the mixture is served up for DB with his eggs, then I cook my eggs and serve:

I accidentally opened butter beans instead of chickpeas but they work just as well!


Friday 5 March 2021


 I couldn't stand it anymore. It is now 3 months since my last hair cut. DB plucked up courage and slowly got on with it. I had to wet it several times!

I got him to take off 1" all over, as best he could. We segment the hair into roughly 1" squares, twist it and trim. It seems to work. Still a bit long but a big improvement which these before and after picutres don't do justice:

Bit of a chunk left at the bottom which I can't normally see. In in 6 weeks (hopefully) my hairdresser will be here to give me a good cut.

Unfortunately for me, I tweeked my back standing up from washing my hair over the bath - the only option we have. I shall probably be out of action for a little while:(

Wednesday 3 March 2021

Jigsaw, cards and holiday

 This jigsaw took longer than anticipated, almost a week. It had so many patches of colours very similar to each other. Also, it was extremely easy, to get things in the wrong places without realising until a lot later on:

Well, it looks like the birthday card for Ruby's sister and the anniversary card for her parents, got lost in the post. Bummer!

We have postponed our holiday until next year - again. It was just too close to us all being able to share a house plus, we doubted if much would be open.

On top of that, if anything happens during each phased release from the coronavirus restrictions, it wouldn't be viable anyway. Hey ho!

Tuesday 2 March 2021

Tennis and Ruby

I settled down last evening to watch Andy in Rotterdam. It is on Amazon Prime and Tennis TV. Serve was considerably better but still made lots of returns into the net, just wide or just long.

However, movement was very good, speed good, seemed a bit puffed at times but quite a few spectacular shots. Serve I think averaged between 55% and 60%. Still not great but better.

He lost the first set 6-2. Won the second set on a tie break 6-2 I think. Was 0-3 down in the third set. Oh dear thought I, he ain't recovering from that. Well he did. Crawled back to 3-3 before snatching victory.

I think having had coronavirus, even though he feels fine, he was certainly feeling it and was breathing hard, even early in the match.

Not sure how far he will go but he has at last earned a few points and has a hard fought match under his belt.

Ruby is beginning to respond at long last to her bland diet. She stopped having raw food about 5 weeks ago as something wasn't agreeing with her. She was slowly transistioned onto dry but just kept going downhill. She has been on this bland diet since Friday.

She will be changed onto something else, very very slowly, only when we are sure her guts are settled. Energy level is good though so that is something.

Monday 1 March 2021

Yesterday morning!

Started off very stressful as yet again, poor Ruby had 'exploded' in the night. She never lets us know so come morning, the stench is amazing as is the mess!

-1C, both outside, hosing her down, shampooing her, twice, followed by a big bucket of warm water to warm her up a little.

She was wrapped up, didn't want food, and slept in a tight ball. Unfortunately for her, she still stank so come the afternoon, she had a warm bath, more shampoo (not exactly good for her but needs must), dried, wrapped and back to sleep.

DS and DDiL reckon she is genetically predisposed as both her mum and sister and auntie, all have this on occasions. No known allegy or intolerance is indicated so far. 

She had been on a bland diet since Friday as her poo wasn't the best even then. Poor girl.

4 lots of washing out on the line or in the tumble drier. Its a good job we had a relatively waterproof liner under her bed in her crate (wooden) otherwise that would have been a mess as well.

Come 3pm we were both jiggered. She is her usual chirpy self today but not her toilet. Still on a bland diet. She has a vet appointment on Wednesday regarding a check up for her blown eardrum so we shall mention it then. If she was any worse, she would have been there today.