Friday 30 December 2022

Ruby cross stitch portrait finished

After more than 2 years, DB has finally finished this:

The stitching itself is A4 size but obviously in a larger frame. He thinks this will be the last such work undertaken as he is finding it hard on his eyes, despite glasses and magnifying glasses on top of those.

There are still two more granddogs to do but they will miss out unless he can combine them onto an A5 size. He fancies doing a family history version next as that will be a bit more simple.

Obviously Springers don't have ginger colouring but she was just a few months old, and still had lighter brown spots than now. It was a very sunny area (indeed we got very hot just trying to take a decent shot) and her fur glowed this colour - hey ho!

Monday 26 December 2022

The Day After...

 We had a quiet day yesterday. I slow cooked a half leg of lamb and served four plates up. Two were had yesterday, the other two today. There is enough left over for one more meal, maybe a shepherps pie.

We opened our few presents from each other plus friends. Our usual budget each didn't go very far this year, a sign of the times. Amongst presents, we each got a jigsaw from each other, plus I got one from a friend. That should see us through this year at least! Might get more yet for the New Year when we celebrate with family.

Eventually had a lovely chat with granddaughter yesterday. She became overwhelmed and had to go to bed and was quite grumpy still afterwards. 

Don't think she is fully well yet from whatever lurgy she has had. DDiL is having a rough time, seems to be picking up everything going and has been unwell for several weeks. DS caught it but was only unwell a few days.

Our Christmas baking went fine but don't bother making pastry with cholesterol reducing fat, just doesn't work.

Friday 23 December 2022

Baking with a bad elbow

 I woke up yesterday with a painful elbow, muscular pain. Two doses of rub on painkiller during the day and it was bearable. Awoke this morning thinking great, no pain. As I started to dress back it came. Anything that requires me to straighten it, twist or lift, sets it off.

Undeterred I started my baking morning. Loaf of bread in the bread maker, no way I can knead. Chilli cheese sausage rolls cooked although a little brown on top due I think, to the very orange yoke in the egg wash. 

Next, 12 mincemeat pies (all fruit and sweet spices for those that don’t know). The pastry is made with low cholesterol fat so not sure how they will taste. Next came 4 mincemeat pasties, using the leftover puff pastry from the sausage rolls.

Then came granola. If I feel like it, I will also get the base of the trifle made. We shall see. Pictures tomorrow.

Thursday 22 December 2022

Good match Andy

 Battle of the Brits started yesterday. I was a day out so nearly missed it. We were halfway through a film when DB noticed on his iPad, Andy was playing.

Today, there are 4 matches on BBC iplayer, Tennis Channel and Jamie Murray You Tube (although that might only be highlights).

Andy was playing Jack Draper, a future star for sure. It got to the 10 point tie break which Jack was firmly in charge of. Suddenly, it just swung the other way. Despite having cramp issues again, Andy pulled off some odd but excellent shots to get in front. Missed his first match point, serve went back to Jack, but Andy pulled off an off court passing shot and won.

Putting his hands down to stop himself falling, he froze for a few seconds absolutely cramped up in both legs. His smile said everything.

I think 2023 might be his last year but we shall see.

Final match this evening is him doubling up with Jamie, grand!

Tuesday 20 December 2022

How much!

 I feel blessed to be receiving my pension from the government as it enables us to donate to the food bank each week.

Puddings were the main order of the day this week. Jellies I thought. Last time I bought a jelly cube, earlier in the year, it was 45p. This week 79p in Lidl and 80p in Tesco. Blimey.

Alongside the 2 jellies, were 2 packets of instant desserts, 2 tins rice pudding, 2 tins mandarin segments, 2 packets of cat soup (who knew), 6 tins of dog food and 4 packets of biscuits.

That is our last shop before Christmas, just a small one next week to take us into the New Year, then that is the end of shopping for 2022.

By all accounts, 2023 will be way more expensive. Domestic energy is rising by at least 15% next month, car fuel by 21% in March, no doubt council tax will go up the full 5% and food, who the heck knows:(

Saturday 17 December 2022

Thank you Andy!

 Andy Murray has donated his entire winnings for 2022, more than £510,000, to UNICEF, to help with medical supplies and development kits for Ukraine. He was awarded the 2022 Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award by the ATP for this superb endeavour.

Well done Andy, you are a good, kind, caring young man.

Thursday 15 December 2022


 We have just had our third very cold night, two at -7.1 and one at -7.8. Two other nights have been -5, gosh. Far colder though in parts of northern Scotland.

The winter bedding is coping fine with the slightly warmer cold nights but on the others, I am feeling cold. Thank goodness for now, this cold snap will be over in a few more days. Our houses are not really built for it! The bedroom was just 10C this morning.

We had a very cold walk this week and were glad to sit in a warm cafe afterwards for jacket potatoes. Thank goodness for the wood burner!

More soup will be made, it really does warm you up and if you can’t afford much else, try and make some with any bits and bobs you have. We sometimes have it as a main meal, over rice, pasta or mashed potatoes.

Monday 12 December 2022

UK Strike Action Dates

 I don't know about you, but I am getting confused over who is striking and when. I have searched for dates and below is the best I can ascertain.

TRAINS: See here for individual companies.

December - 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31.  

January 2023 - 3, 4, 6, 7.

ROYAL MAIL: See here.

December 14, 15, 23, 24


Royal College of Nursing see here for individual areas.

Ambulance see here for individual areas.

CIVIL SERVICE: See here for areas.

The above refers mainly to rural payment offices, airports, highways, DWP and driving examiners. If you have a driving exam booked, best to check the dates:(

There is probably more but I can't find them.

Just a thought about the NHS and the Government unwilling it seems to give a decent pay rise. If every hospital talleyed up how many private nurses (£2,500 per shift) and private doctors (£5,200 per shift) are paid, then nationwide, there might be enough money being used here to deal with the increased wages? Just a thought.


Thursday 8 December 2022


Our granddaughter has finally been christened, thanks to many Covid delays and restrictions. It was a small private ceremony. The church was lovely and warm, about 18 family members attended and it was grand. The 'stand in' vicar was excellent.

Down south family had prepared a lovely spread in the church rooms next door, which were also lovely and warm, as it was a freezing day.

Granddaughter still fitted the dress I had made, but she also had a long sleeved pink tee shirt on underneath, as well as the lovely cardigan knitted by her other Gran.

We couldn't travel down on our first day as Ruby woke up with the squits. She was not happy and all her bedding needed to be washed and dried.

Our holiday cottage was very posh to say the least. Under floor central heating kept us awake first thing in bed. Once it shut off, around 1am, it was okay although I found the bed way too hard for me.

We didn't have time to do any sight seeing and the travel down and back was okay but tiring.

Tuesday 6 December 2022

Preparing for the cold nights to come

 We went food shopping this morning and to fill the car fuel tank with petrol. I decided to get ingredients to make bacon, leek and potato soup and some beef to make a large pan of stew. Both those are good winter warming meals.

Food bank received 2 tins peach slices, 2 x 1 litre long life milk, 2 tins of rice pudding and 2 tins of chicken and vegetable soup. I shall try and give more next week.

The bedroom blinds and curtains will be closed after typing this to help keep any heat inside the room. Our heating is currently being used in 10 minute blasts once every hour or so. It keeps the house warm enough. The log burner is laid ready to use and it too will shortly be lit.

I am already changed. Pyjama bottoms, nightie, jumper and body warmer. I find it is my legs that get the coldest when sitting down and every night for weeks, I have used my crochet blanket to keep them warm. The bed as well as the winter duvet, has had an extra eiderdown added. Should be really snug now.

I believe after Monday, the weather will get slightly warmer but still be on the chilly side.

Tuesday 29 November 2022

Nappies and other things for the food bank

 Our local food bank website was checked before we went shopping. They were asking for size 6 nappies, tinned pasta, tinned rice pudding and long life (ultra heat treated) milk.

We got one packet of nappies plus 3 each of tinned pasta, rice pudding and the milk. Without nappies, I could have shopped for more food but, the thought of someone having no nappies for their baby saddened me. It came to 20% of our total food shop so not too bad, we normally aim for 10% but the nappies took us over. 

On the way home we popped into Farmfoods to get 2 x 30 cod fish fingers for £11 for us. They would have cost £15.50 in a regular supermarket. A great saving!

Tuesday 22 November 2022

Present buying

 We have already bought/made presents for everyone but not for each other. DB has lost a bit of weight due to eating like me. I am eating low fat, trying to reduce my slightly elevated bad cholesterol level, so he needed new trousers. Despite the wet weather we went shopping after tea and a scone for a treat.

Once we had eaten, we went our own ways and met back at the car a short while later. We have a set amount to spend and I could only get three for him before funds ran short. I shall look for a little something another time.

He bought two pairs of corduroy trousers in maroon and a nice brown.

Monday 21 November 2022

Brr and ouch

 First mild frost this morning, certainly felt chilly though. I must admit, I do like to see the white on everyone’s roof and twinkling on remaining greenery.

Our food shop was relatively small this week so rather than human food bank items, decided on pet food. Goodness me, that is expensive. I avoided a certain dog food brand (begins with B) as it has such rubbish in it. In the end I settled on own brand dog food and pouches of cat food, came to £6.45. Similar branded items would have been nearer £12!

We will go to Lidl to finish shopping tomorrow morning, as we need to go out to get each other’s Christmas presents. Lidl prices on certain items are way cheaper.

Saturday 19 November 2022

Wasgij puzzles certainly tax the old brains

 Another wasgij jigsaw completed. The secret to these, is working in blocks of colour or something similar, as the picture on the box is no use whatsoever! Below is the picture on the box:

Then the finished puzzle:

Such fun!

Friday 18 November 2022

Stretching meals further still

 Each pan had 2 diced bell peppers, 1/2 clove chopped garlic, and half an onion, which were fried until softened.

One pan then had 2 tablespoons curry paste stirred in, followed by 1 tin of tomatoes, half a can of water and half a can of mushrooms.  This was followed by half a 400g bag of Quorn chunks and a handful of sultanas, then cooked for 30 minutes. Afterwards, 4 frozen tablespoons of coconut cream, one stock cube plus a couple of tablespoons of tomato puree were stirred in. Once cooked through, it was dished up for freezing. Each container has 3 ladles, enough Quorn curry for us both, for one meal:

The second pan had the same initial ingredients added but instead of curry paste, a chopped canned adobe pepper was added for spice. No sultanas this time but a can of red kidney beans. No coconut cream just a stock cube and tomato puree added to give us Quorn Chilli:
I think 6 meals is a really good stretch. How are you stretching your meals to reduce costs?

Wednesday 16 November 2022

Will we won't we - Affecting UK readers only...

 Get blackouts this winter, that is the question. Who the heck knows but I have done some research so each of us can find out how we will be affected, if it happens.

This first site is how you can find who your network operator is (not who you pay your bills to) and what letter of the alphabet has assigned to your post code Network Provider

Go down the page a bit and put your postcode into the yellow boxes. It will then tell you who your provider is and what letter your post code has been assigned during an emergency blackout. 

When you know your letter go to here.

Annex 1 and 2 give you details relating to your assigned letter, starting with 3 hour blackouts building up to total power loss :(

Hope this helps you prepare just in case!

Saturday 12 November 2022

Another increase and awareness

I had hoped to go to M & S last week to pick up some more tins of meat, as I had a feeling they would go up soon. Unfortunately, we had no other reason to go in so left it until this week.

A long list of shopping meant we needed to go in and yup, you guessed it, already gone up in price.

 The chicken was still the same but the steak, steak and kidney had gone up another 25p per tin. We bought two more of each flavour as they are so nice and put them away for future use.

The other thing we noticed were youngish mums (25 and under), pushing their babies in prams. The babies were all making eye contact with them, cooing and smiling - to no avail. Each and every mother was too busy staring at their phones to notice. Such a shame.

Tuesday 8 November 2022

Who to help?

During WWII, pet owners, especially cat and dog owners, were recommended to have their pets put down, due to shortages of food for them. Many tens of thousands were 'put to sleep'. Other owners though, refused, deciding that their dogs would eat scraps from their meals.

I think probably dogs are easier to feed this way but who knows. I know fishmongers offered fish heads for cats. Dogs ate water based porridge for breakfast, crusts from bread dried in the oven to make into rusks for them to chew on, leftover potatoes, vegetables and meat based gravy. Occasionally, they got scraps of meat fat and gristle whilst food was being prepared.

So many pets are being abandoned today when many could eat like this if necessary. Shelters are getting overwhelmed and many people simply turf them out or abandon them in woods to fend for themselves. Shameful.

We are giving to the food bank each week now, making sure we read online what they actually need. We have joined Age Concern lotto. Occasionally I will help animal shelters with food donation.

Money is tight for most people yet sometimes you wouldn't think so. People still seem to be coming out of shops with armful of carrier bags of clothes and other items. 

If DS and family request help, of any kind, we will offer it. It could be as a loan or an outright 'gift' of food or money.

All of us are finding money not going as far as it once did. Luckily they have always had a good work ethic and budgeting minds. They have always tried to save, but things are likely to get far worse for us all than they are currently. 

Better for everyone to face that reality than stick our heads in the sand. Keep stocking up if able!

Sunday 6 November 2022

As I am currently wearing my heart monitor

 It slightly restricts what I can do around electronic equipment. Out came my navy ink pad and stamps and a roll of kraft paper. I had hoped to stamp on the non shiny side but it had a grid pattern all over it - doh!

Using various Christmas themed stamps, off I went. Not the best of pictures to follow but you get the idea:

Still two more rolls to do and if my other pads are still viable, I hope to use different colours. I think however, they may be dry.

Saturday 5 November 2022

Stretching ingredients

 I had 400g beef stewing steak, some slightly wrinkly swede and carrots, potato and some fresh onions. I minced the meat and veg apart from the potato. These were then lightly fried, stock added and cooked.

Half was removed, seasoned and thickened to have with potatoes and other vegetables for tea that night:

The other half had curry paste and a bit more seasoning added before being thickened and turned into two nights of meals as a curry:

One went into the freezer and other we will have tonight.

Thursday 3 November 2022


 A few jars made, some for us, some for Christmas presents:

We still have one unopened jar from last year plus another opened one currently being eaten!

Other than a few Christmas bits and bobs (we will be on our own I believe), not much more to do. 

Presents have been bought for DS, DDiL and DGD, still to wrap. Birthday presents for those in January also bought. Christmas cards are addressed though not yet stamped.

Just one or two items to think about to make for postal gifts, gifts for each other and a list for DS to peruse for us, then it is all done.

Wednesday 2 November 2022

Smallest leeks ever?

I grew leeks in one of my new beds and it clearly wasn't up to the task:

This was half the bed. I had 3 left over which I planted in one of my established beds and they are huge by comparison.

I shall add leaves and home composting to it over winter and hope it performs better next year. The other new raised bed did very well yet they both had the same ingredients put in. The other bed was in full sun, this one partially shaded during the day. Yet leeks are supposed to be happy in light shade - go figure!


Monday 31 October 2022

Almost finished preparations

Autumn/Winter preserving is almost complete. I have made my marmalade, two batches worth, for us and present giving. The batch below is plain, the other had ginger in it:

After the jars were removed from the oven, I heated it to a higher setting and made a batch of granola for us:

We don't eat it as it, preferring it as a topping on other things. It would be too expensive to make otherwise. 

Tonight I shall prepare vegetables for a small batch of piccalilli.

Sunday 23 October 2022

Ay up!

Been busy working my way through a list of things that need doing. This week I have started making Christmas cards, making mincemeat for mince pies and using the red apples foraged from the holiday to make crab apple jelly. It is a dark red but not as dark as it looks below:

I used light brown sugar instead of dark as that was what I had. The mincemeat looks paler because of that:
I am still topping up my pantry, I mean, why wouldn't you if you are able to? Also decided to donate to the food bank each week rather than monthly. Even if it is a few tins or packets, every little helps for both. 

Rather than buying what I think a food bank needs (they get inundated with pasta, rice and pasta sauces), I go online to see what my local one wants and buy those. Currently they are asking for tinned meat and fish, custard, biscuits and hair conditioner!

People are so disconnected from where their food comes from it is shocking. Two young men were recently asked what is causing climate change. They both said "Farming. We need to get rid of all farms everywhere". Doh! What exactly they think they will eat who knows:(

Saturday 15 October 2022

Shiver me timbers!

DB and I went for our Covid booster yesterday. He was alright, hardly a sore arm and slept okay. Me, a very sore arm began early afternoon. Just before going to bed, I started to shiver and went ice cold.

In bed, the shivering intensified and I just couldn't stop it. It went on for about 45 minutes. Thought I was going to smash my teeth they were chattering so much. During the night, my arm pain got worse as well and at one point, I couldn’t even move it.

Woke up this morning feeling not well at all. The shivering had gone, the arm pain had lessened but still there. DB was fine, typical!

Went back to bed for a brief stint, didn't want any breakfast so just had a cup of tea. Thankfully, now, I am feeling a little better. Any jobs for today will have to wait.

Bring on my flu jab, I always have a reaction to that.

Monday 10 October 2022

Honestly, you can't make it up!

 My doctor referred me to hospital on the 5th October. Yesterday I got a letter. Hooray I thought, at least that bit of it was quick.

Below is a scan of the relevant bit:

There is just one BIG problem (apart from at least a 30 week wait of course), he referred me to the CARDIOLOGY Department:(

Off I went to our surgery this morning to double check the error wasn't theirs. They showed me the screen with his referral to Cardiology.

Once home, I rang the appointment referral department in vain. Shall have to keep trying I guess.

I mean the letter talked about my heart problems etc. Obviously, they don't read them do they? DB was referred to them on May 5th, he has had no communication from the hospital whatsoever. Doesn't bode well for winter does it?

Sunday 9 October 2022

Whilst away...

We foraged a big bowlful of beautiful red crab apples:

They will have to wait a little while as we still have the tray of pears gifted by our nieghbour to deal with! 

We processed the cooking apples yesterday. Some were turned into a large single apple crumble, (plus two small ones as a thankyou for the doner), one batch of apples were frozen for later use. The rest were dehydrated to eat as snacks.

Friday 7 October 2022

Granddaughter's Dress

 We were away for the weekend attending granddaughter's thanksgiving service. Her local church wouldn't christen her so that is being done later in the year near her mums childhood church, whose vicar is quite happy to do it.

It went well, had a good sing on the songs I knew, church was freezing as usual. Here is the dress I made for her, fully lined. Other Gran had knitted her a lovely cardigan in cotton and silk:

I was pleased with the end result. Had wanted to do a full circle skirt on it but got my measurements wrong. This was the last metre of matching fabric the shop had so made a gathered skirt instead.

This dress has been 2 1/2 years in the design and making starting with a baby size! Covid got in the way, the life things etc.

We had a good buffet afterwards in the village hall, around 20 or so of us. She behaved brilliantly both during the service, afterwards and then back at home.

Sunday 2 October 2022

The other night...

 Our doorbell rang and it was our gardening neighbour. I had asked him 10 days prior if he had a few cooking apples. This is what he brought us - two buckets full to the brim:

Cooking apples above.
Hard but small conference pears, they will ripen in about two weeks. Lovely chap. I usually bake him a cake or pudding as a thankyou.

Thursday 29 September 2022

Final Tomato Harvest and not such a bargain

 As we have been having night temperatures of 4C or 6C, thought it about time we brought in the tomatoes. I don't have a greenhouse and those temperatures are just too cold, poor things:

The large tray above, have Shirley and San Marzano plum tomatoes.

The above are Ailsa Craig.

We also filled up a 4 pint bowl of Ailsa Craig and Gardeners Delight. I shall let as many ripen naturally as possible, then either cook the rest for sauces, or make into chutney.

DB tried the neck shoulder warmer the other night. It is not microwavable:( Turns out, it has a button you press which sets off a chain reaction to heat the gel. It lasted for 60 minutes but once cold, set as hard as a rock!

The instructions said to lay it in a tray ot boiling water for 15 minutes then it will turn back into a gel. Two trays and 4 kettles later, it was still rock hard so it went in the bin. It said it was supposed to be able to be used 1000 times. We were not happy having to boil a full kettle 4 times, not in this day of expensive electricity. Some you win....

Sunday 25 September 2022

Two good buys

 The first from Home Bargains, which I found advertised on someone's blog. We used to eat these in Germany and Holland and loved them:

89p per 400g packets as opposed to a Lidl version at 1.59p per 500 gram, equating to 1.27p for 400g. We bought 3 of each to put away as well as try.

The second from Lidl. This cost 4.99p so thought we would give it a go. It is a microwavable gel device. We both get stiff necks and aching shoulders so hope it works but didn't find 4.99p too expensive to try it:

Wednesday 21 September 2022

Very uncomfortable!

 We had chiropractic treatment yesterday. A regular 3 monthly plan. My left back/hip area has been very uncomfortable for a while. My left leg was 1" shorter than my right. She diagnosed a restricted/fixated sacroiliac joint and began treatment.

Boy was it painful. I thought she might have needed to give me treatment for a locked jaw afterwards, so hard was I gritting my teeth. The treatment involved using her elbow with her full body weight behind it. 1 minute hard and deep push into my hip area, a quick rest, then she repeated it twice more. Then I had to get up, no mean feat, and do a couple of exercises against the wall to check if it had helped.

I will be back in another 3 months unless I need to go earlier. I felt very sore and bruised afterwards. Slept well but woke up a couple of times in pain:(


Saturday 17 September 2022

Dog and flowers

 Poor Ruby came back from her walk with both ears rolled up by burdock burrs, blasted things. DB had a hard job getting them all out but she lay there stoically:

This is what came out:

The dahlia seedlings I bought in spring didn't do well in pots so were transferred to spaces in the garden a month ago. They have gone mad, even if it is nearing the end of the season. I picked a posy of them yesterday:

I didn't realise they would mature into proper plants. As they were transferred, we noticed they were forming nice tubers!

Thursday 15 September 2022

Some things finished

 The runner and French beans are finished. I got one more lot to freeze then DB cleared them and raked over the soil. The courgette got the same treatment. Now we have access to the soil, we shall once again be doing in soil composting.

Simply dig a trench about 8” deep, half fill with kitchen scraps and rotten leaves if you have them. Cover over. As scraps become available repeat the process.

This worked well last winter in our 3 raised beds and we hope to begin in our 2 new beds as they become available. Yes volunteer potatoes and tomatoes rush up but just remove them if they aren’t needed.

Friday 9 September 2022

Carrying on

As sad as I am, my garden keeps producing and I have to keep harvesting and doing something with the harvest.

In the past week, I have picked and processed this lot:

The beans were blanched and frozen in vacuum sealed packets. The tomatoes along with a homegrown courgette, onions, garlic and basil, were made into more pasta sauce. I think I got 5 packets, despite only 4 showing here:

That makes a total of 9 sauces, 5 jars of sauce and loads of beans.

I now have another bowlful of tomatoes to process and probably one or two more bowls still to ripen. The courgette has probably had it. Picked the last one this morning. Maybe some soup?

Thursday 8 September 2022

The Queen has died.

 I am so sad.

At last!

 Finally got to speak to the doctor. Managed to get a cancellation online chat. Will be seeing him next Tuesday after an ECG with the nurse and other stuff.

As ever, things are starting to return to normal but maybe the ECG will show something up.

Sunday 4 September 2022

Been busy!

 Apologies for lack of posts. I have needed to rest more than usual between my list of jobs. My heart has been beating more irregular than normal, resulting in a pounding in my face. Blood pressure is fine and no, it’s not my sinuses.

Rubbish trying to get hold of the GP, lazy lot. Still have to get a phone call before seeing them, if they deem it necessary. DB phoned up last week, first phone appointment on the 15th!

Anyway, face isn’t so bad at the moment so hopefully it is calming down. If necessary I will traumatise myself further by a no doubt prolonged visit to A & E.

Fence painting is still ongoing. Three more gates to do but they will have to wait until after these next rainy days have finished.

Beans and more pasta sauce have also been made and are in the freezer.

Sunday 28 August 2022

Fermenting ongoing!

Our milk kefir grains are working well and increasing in size:

I am still only making about 1/2 pint per day as I am the only one drinking it every day! Remember the fermented tomatoes (with added garlic and fresh basil)? We had some the other night served over buttery parmesan pasta.

It was nice though a little salty. This might ease off after a few more weeks in the fridge. I might though, try doing it with brine rather than salt directly in the mix.


Saturday 27 August 2022

Preserving today

 Firstly, apologies for the slightly blurred pictures!

Frying half a family bag of bell peppers and one large onion:

2lb of home grown tomatoes and 2 crushed cloves of garlic were added:
Salt and pepper, a few sprigs of fresh basil and one stock cubes added before blitzing:
I ended up sieving the mixture as a few tough pieces of skin were annoying me. I managed to get 3 double servings of a nice pasta sauce which are now in the freezer. Each bag cost about 45p each.

Monday 22 August 2022

More toms, beans and fermenting tomatoes!

 Having processed the remaining of the previous tomato harvest, more were ready for picking:

There are probably twice as many left but they are still green or just turning red. 

After washing them, some were used to make my first jar of fermented tomatoes. Several were cored then cut into 1/8ths. 3 cloves of garlic peeled and sliced and several sprigs of fresh basil washed and dried and leaves removed from their stalks.

I was a little worried how much himalayan salt was needed (4 teaspoons per quart jar) roughly 2 pints). 

Anyhow, I layered everything in, adding the salt as I went. The lid is screwed on tight and shaken until loads of liquid is formed. It is important to make sure enough is formed to keep the tomatoes under it. A couple more tomatoes were added as there was too much air space. Everything was shaken again.

I then changed the lid for a pickle pipe, wiping the rim and outer ring clean so salt doesn't corrode it. Below is the jar before shaking:

And afterwards with pickle pip to allow fermenting 'gases' to escape without letting air in:

It is now sitting on my counter top fermenting for 3 days. After that it will have a normal lid slightly loosely fitted and will be stored in the fridge.

I will let you know what it tastes like if it doesn't go mouldy!

Hopfully the link below will work to take you to the page on how to do it:


Saturday 20 August 2022

Harvesting then eating or putting away for winter!

We have a long and ever increasing list of things to do to prepare for this winter, now so more than ever. I think it will be a winter of discontent. High energy bills, ever increasing food costs, and the possibility of power cuts.

Our food harvest this week has been good thank goodness. Below is our first crop of tomatoes, a bit thick skinned due to adverse weather and the few potatoes from 2 compost sacks. I couldn't get on top of watering the potatoes but next year, hope to plant them in large buckets:

Anyhow, they gave us 3 meals. The taste of both was fantastic. Below is the second crop of tomatoes and the first proper crop of runner and french beans:

I don't normally grow runner beans and won't be doing so again. They are hard to set their flowers in dry hot weather and are often stringy even on the so called stringless versions. 

Below are 8 of the 16 red pears we grow on a mini tree. They came off easily but are currently rock hard. They will sit on the window sill for about 2 weeks when they will be soft enough to eat:

The above beans ready to blanch then freeze. My beans took 3 sowings before they began to grow, I now have all 8 up and running (at 2 beans per pole). Should crop a lot, fingers crossed:
We have completed painting and erecting the new fence panels down the drive. Now to start on the lollipop fencing. It will take an age but should be completed by halfway through September. Then the gutters to clean out, kindling to chop etc. Onwards and at times, very much upwards.

Wednesday 17 August 2022

Darling son to the rescue - again

 After helping me get out of a collapsed bed frame on holiday, it was his dad's turn.

We were with him and our granddaughter at a local small farm play place. In the ride on toys section (in the barn) was a tractor tyre for children to ride around. DB was so busy filming his granddaughter he backed into it.

Down he went firstly on his backside, then on the rim In slow motion, he fell fully into the centre with legs in the air. I unfortunately missed it as I was sitting elsewhere. DS was busy pushing his daughter so didn't notice it either.

He couldn't get up or out so DS, once he realised, had to help him.

They both saw the funny side of it but DB was very stiff by the end of the day but thankfully, no injuries. Good job DDiL wasn't there, she would have dissolved into a fit of giggles.

Tuesday 16 August 2022

Coal Miner's Cake - Joint birthday cake

 Just a word of warning, this is way too sweet for us and very calorific!

1 packet of Devil Cake Mix (first ingredient - sugar!)

2 Eggs - medium or large

1 whole can Cherry pie filling

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Mix all the above together and put into a lightly greased 9" x 13" pan. Bake at 170C or350F for between 25 - 30 minutes. Mine was cooked in 20 minutes.


Halfway through the cooking time, prepare the topping.

Slowly melt 4oz butter, 6oz chopped chocolate and 3 fl oz of evaporated milk in a pan. Boil gently for 1 minutes and pour straight onto the hot cake when it comes out the oven. Sprinkle on 1/2 cup chopped nuts. I didn't have any so used chocolate chips.

Leave to go cold and set. Cut into 16 squares. My cake, once cooled, went into the fridge as the temperature in the kitchen was too hot for it to set!

Now, the original recipe called for 1 cup of sugar to be added to the cake mix and 1/2 cup of sugar to the topping. Trust me, it is NOT needed.

Would I make it again, probably, for a special occasion. However, I would make my own sponge using the weight of 3-4 eggs (and reduced sugar amount) and find a chcolate topping that uses less butter - maybe double cream?

We served ours with vanilla ice cream - it definitely needs something.

Sunday 7 August 2022


Not been anywhere just been keeping busy, tending to the garden, moving stressed plants out of pots and into the garden. Oh, also been painting 5 x 3' 6" x 6' fence panels, still not done.

Each requires sanding down, painting of both sides black - twice, lifting out the old ones, struggling to put the news ones in. Finished panel number 3 last night, wouldn't fit, about 1/2" too wide. Turns out the person who put the concrete posts in years ago, placed two of them, a smidge too close together - doh! 

This is what the tops of them looked like:

Now without the fancy trellis top - much better:

They are very deep black, just don't look it on the pictures.

Also, aren't some bean flowers pretty, almost as good as sweet peas. These are the apricot coloured flowers of a runner bean called Sunset, new to us this year. Baby beans just appearing so hope they taste as good as the flowers look:

Saturday 30 July 2022

Jobs for today finished.

 Picked and froze more wild plums, 3lb this time. Easily 50-100lb left but most out of reach, too small or over ripe. Might go for a few more pounds if we remember.

Dug up rhubarb and moved it to the front, where if it survives, it will have more room to grow.

Made a loaf of bread. Stripped bed, remade it, washed and dried on the line.

Popped to local shop for milk as we forgot it yesterday.

We are picking what to watch on the Commonwealth games. Really enjoying the swimming and cycling. So nice to be hosting it as there is no time difference.

DS still recovering from Covid, still just positive but absolutely pooped bless him. Hope he doesn’t pass it on to his family although think they would be showing symptoms now, if they had caught it.

Thursday 28 July 2022

Where will it end?

 The energy price hike prediction has risen from 54% to 65% and now 78%! It could get even higher by then, who knows. These hikes will affect anyone not on a fixed rate contract. Once your contract ends, you will feel it deeply.

If you are not on a fixed rate contract, add 78% to your current tariff, see how much it will be. If you can find an 18 or 24 month fixed rate contract for less than that, think seriously about changing over to one BEFORE the end of September at the latest.

Tuesday 26 July 2022

Kefir pancakes and wild plum sauce!

Exchanging kefir for milk in an American pancake mixture, we made these for our tea one night:

They were delicious!

Our trip to see DS and family is cancelled:( 

We thought it would be but it is so sad when it happens. He has returned safely from the USA (I hate him flying),but Covid symptoms have reared their ugly head again so now, after landing at Heathrow, he is down south with DDiL's family until fit enough to travel. 

We were only a couple of days away from going and it was turning into too much of a rush. They wouldn't have had time to sort the house out, do food shopping etc. Even though he is in good hands, there is nothing worse than a mother who can't tend their unwell 'child' even when it is no longer their job and they wouldn't want you to anyway.

We were hoping to celebrate several birthdays at once and was looking forward to seeing them all. Hopefully another visit can be rearranged asap, but with their busy schedules, who the heck knows.

Karma can be a sod at times. The black dog has been slowly nipping at my heels for a while now and these everyday life events just seem harder somehow because of it. Ridiculous I know but there you go.

Well, on the bright side, I don't have to worry about the garden whilst away. We are due warm weather again and although my neighbour would water it well, I still worry as it is coming into its full stride now.

Just harvested my second slightly large yellow courgette and the tomatoes are growing well.