Monday 30 May 2022

Grass court tennis has begun...

 BBC red button, BBC iplayer and BBC sport web site are all showing the Surbiton Challenger event. Currently, Andy Murray is on. There are 7 Brits planning on playing there.

Friday 27 May 2022

More raised beds...

 Yesterday we ordered the wood for two new raised vegetable beds. They said they would deliver it shortly and we happened to follow the delivery guy home. One will be 8’ x 2’ x 16”. The other 5’ x 2’ x 16”. I will only half fill them this year as both will sit on soil, which will be incorporated into items ordered today.

Today we went to buy soil, compost, manure and blood, fish and bone, to get one of them started. That will be delivered over the weekend. I also bought 5 more tomato plants and a courgette. Next year, I will sow them myself as per normal, but being on holiday, couldn’t do it. We hope to have the larger bed operational by next weekend. 

What I did notice was the rise by £1 per bag of a certain compost, from just two days ago!

Sunny day today but with a very cool strong northerly wind:(

Thursday 26 May 2022

Vegetables coming along

 I was a bit wary leaving my tomato seedlings in the bathroom when we went away but they survived. They had become a little leggy though. I shall plant them out towards the end of this week.

The first rows of Washabi mustard greens, lettuce, radish, beetroot and carrots are growing well. We have eaten almost all the radishes:

More of each were sown yesterday. We also put up the canes for the runner and french climbing beans and sowed the first double row of peas:

 We shall see how they fare.

The fruit cage is also starting to ripen fruit:

In there we have rhubarb, raspberries, alpine strawberries, gooseberries and a thornless blackberry.

Much to DB's disgust I am sure, I want to build another couple of lower in height vegetable beds asap. We might not get them done in time for much sowing in them this year in which case we shall sow something to cover the soil. The way food prices are rising, I think it will be useful to at least try and grow more than we currently do. A smaller bed will be put just outside the dining room door for vegetables that don't mind growing in partial shade.

Tuesday 24 May 2022

Post Holiday Busyness

 We have just returned from a holiday in the Lake District with DS and family. They nearly didn't make it though as DGD woke up on the Saturday morning not very well. They decided to come later in the day. She was OK during the day, bit upset each morning. Night times were a different matter bless her. Coughing so bad it kept all of us and her awake.

By Tuesday she was no better so they took her to the Emergency Department at Kendall. Brilliant service and only a 30 minute wait. We took ourselves out for the morning to pass the time, before returning to the cottage. After a thorough check up, they diagnosed Croup and gave her a huge one off dose of steroid - Dexamethasone - usually used in severe Covid cases.

Within a few hours she seemed happier but nights still weren't good but got a little better. However, by Thursday she had had enough and was crying to go home which they did on the Friday. She is apparently a lot better now, but still with the occasional cough.

Washing, ironing and general tidying was begun when we got home and is now just about finished.

We went to our local garden nursery to buy some compost and summer bedding plants. Blimey, I think I will attempt to grown my own next year.

The compost last year was 3 bags for £12, this year 3 for £16. Pretty sure last year they were also 60 litres in size. This time only 40 litres. Strips of plants last year £1.25, this time £1.75. Individual plants normally £1.25 were £2.00 each.

I only got enough to do the front planters. Still a few more to do back ones. Might just get some compost and sow some very old seeds and see what happens.

Thursday 19 May 2022

More peppers dried

 Following on from buying my 20% more expensive wonky peppers, I set to preparing to dehydrate them:

12 hours later, they were ready:
Once conditioned, the other peppers will be mixed into them and stored away.

Monday 16 May 2022


We had to go to 4 different shops the other day, to find my usual deodorant. They had other versions of it but not the one which really works on me. 

DB needed his usual over the counter medicine, nope, none to be had. In the end we bought a different brand. The chemist had quite a few gaps on their 'behind the counter medicines' and indeed, Boots Chemist has already warned about some hayfever medicine shortages. Let's not forget the HRT shortages currently ongoing.

We popped into Marks and Spencers food hall, their chunky chicken and chunky steak were still the same price so I bought 4 more tins. The steak and kidney tins were nowhere to be seen, again...

Friday 13 May 2022

To good to be true?

If I could offer you an interest savings rate of between 20% and 50%, with a quick return of just a few weeks, you would think it too good to be true, a scam etc. You would probably be correct in a money savings account.

However, from a food saving point of view, it isn't a scam and IS good value for money so to speak.

For example, two weeks ago, I bought wonky bell peppers for £0.99p. This week they were £1.19, that is a 20% increase. 

We quite like easy peeler mini oranges, they are usually £0.99p for 6. This week they were £1.49, almost 50% increase. We bought 6 satsumas instead for £0.99p.

See what I mean? If you apply those figures to almost everything on your shopping list, that can be stored long term, that would be a huge saving for the future. The money would be in your pocket and not those of the shops.

Tuesday 10 May 2022

Dehydrating results

 I dried both peppers and carrots for 12 hours, the carrots maybe needed a tad longer but we shall see:

They now need to be conditioned. That means checking them every day by shaking and seeing if they freely move, clump together or there is condensation inside the jar. This is done for 5 days.

If condensation appears or they seem to clump together or bits stick to the jar, that means they are not dry enough. They must go back in the dehydrator as soon as this is noticed.

If after 5 days nothing appears wrong, they are ready for long term storage. Either way, I shall check on them occasionally as I did peas last year and they went mouldy despite being rock hard when packed away.

Monday 9 May 2022

Dehydrating Bell/Sweet Peppers and Carrots

Some people choose to blanche peppers others don't, I chose to do the former.

After removing the seeds and slicing 6 peppers, the strips were blanched for 1 minute in boiling water:

Then placed in very cold water (I didn't have ice cubes):
From there to a salad spinner then final dry off on a clean old tea towel:

Before being placed on 3 dehydrating trays:

I also did enough carrot slices for 3 trays which is the capacity for my dehydrator:
I will report back tomorrow to hopefully show you the results!

Friday 6 May 2022

Sun, sea and potatoes

We took Ruby off to the seaside yesterday for a swim in a deep puddle of sea water. She doesn't want to run too far into the sea but if we stand either side of this 3' puddle she will run/swim across. Her fur has been feeling tacky lately with all the dust around and she was scratching a lot. She feels better now and is less itchy.

We of course also treated ourselves to chips and curry sauce. We then had salad for tea.

DB is busy outside cleaning/hosing out the gutters. Quite a bit of dirt and moss has accumulated. The debris has been thrown on the back flower border to give it some nurioushment. He seems a bit wet so has started hosing and cleaning the windows as well, go DB!

I have been sealing and vacuum packing dehydrated potatoes. Seems an odd thing to do but we do eat them on occasions and once the packet is opened it is difficult to keep them fresh. 

Each packet contains enough for one meal, plus instructions on how much liquid it needs. We rarely use just boiling water, preferring to use mainly hot milk with a good blob of butter in it plus black pepper. They will now last well past their date:



Monday 2 May 2022

Ruby is...

 Currently laying beneath my chair as I type this, head twisted at an awkward angle (as always), snoring loudly. She would not be the type of dog to share a tent or indeed a bedroom with!

About the first of each month, we move/pick everything up off the lounge floor (not heavy furniture), and give it a thorough clean and hoover. The armchairs are swapped around to ensure fair wear and tear.

Each year we find it harder to do but can still do it so do.

My first sown vegetable seedlings are popping up and my fruit cage is looking full of (so far) healthy fruit bushes and plants. One gooseberry every year gets infested with sawfly. The leaves are already disappearing but I can't find the caterpillars yet, blasted things. I shall put some newspaper underneath and give it a good shake and hope I can catch them that way.

I will sow beans direct into the ground in a couple of weeks. My toms are not looking too great at the moment, this new peat free compost doesn't seem to suit them but we shall see. If they don't make it, I shall buy some from a local nursery.