Sunday, 30 August 2020

Saturday and Sunday Roundup

I started this post last night but got interrupted. 


It has been very cold here today in Peterborough. Autumn has landed in a rush and I just do not know where this very peculiar year has got to.  Lets just say it has passed me by a little bit to say the least. For many months I have been in my own little bubble not needing or wanting to do much just being on my own with OH which has been less stressful for me in many respects but it has thrown up other issues lack of self worth, not counting, having no real purpose. I have been trying to heal myself in a gentle fashion but also trying to re-discover who and what I am and what purpose I have to play in this mortal coil.  Self-doubt and lack of confidence as well as not feeling 100% have not helped. I am a natural loner it is how I am built.  Every so often I become totally overwhelmed and need space and time for myself to heal and regain some equilibrium.  This is time out and something I have to do for myself for self preservation.  It is about me and no one else although frequently other people do not see things this way.  It is just how I am built.  I am still not sure what my purpose is, but I am starting to sort out what I want to do.

I was up early this morning for a delivery and then it has been a pottering kind of day.  I was up a good two hours before Oh this morning. 

After the delivery I then pottered in the house sorting a few things out.  However it has gone really cold again and the change in temperature always knocks me for six with some pain and feeling cold all the time.  This is what happened yesterday and the rain did not help.  In the end I did some recipe sorting in my folder and researching other recipes.  In baby steps I am starting to organise myself a little.  Still not there but each time I do a little it becomes a few steps nearer in theory.


I ended up sleeping late and could hardly move when I did get up.  However have had some pain and in the end curled up on the settee with a blanket around me and ended up watching the TV. There had been advertised on the TV a remake of three episodes of Dad's Army that had been lost and had been remade as near to the originals as possible. I really enjoyed this but half of the reason the original Dad's Army series was such a success was the actors and the characters sparked off each other.  However a very pleasant afternoon which in many respects took me back to my childhood.

It has been a lazy evening too and I will be early to bed as I need to be up early tomorrow as have lots to do.

Sometimes doing nothing is just what is needed.  However whenever I take time out why do I always feel so guilty.

Hope everyone is well and safe.

Back to the grind tomorrow.

Catch you soon.



Friday, 28 August 2020

Despite the best of intentions

I overslept and have not been able to get on in the dining room again.  Partly because the boxes I need to pack stuff into are dripping wet outside despite being washed and dried yesterday. The weather has been proper-back-endish here today. It is cold and damp and is currently raining with the wind getting up and then dropping again.  I think we are going to have a colder winter than we did last year at this rate.  We walked Missy and it was really cold when we were out and grey. The Rosehips clearly stood out from the bushes against the grey.  I need a dry day to go and collect them though. I need to do my yearly stock of this.  I deseed the pips, chop them in half and then dry them in the dehydrator. They are then ground down to form a powder and a little added to home made Mussli.  Alternatively, to make wine you can dry them with a slit in the side in the oven and then use to make wine when they are dry.  These are long-keeping. Come along better weather I need to get out into the hedgerow to harvest a few bits and bobs as well as acorns, larch cones, fir cones and teasels, elderberries, sloes, Rowan berries.

As the day has been so Yeuch, I have therefore got on with a few of my projects.  All has not been lost though as I am also planning some projects for next year, researching, plotting and planning little bits of this and that here and there. Prepping things round here sometimes is akin to doing a very large and complicated jigsaw puzzle.

However, I have started off the Tarragon Vinegar.

The Raspberry Vinegar.

I have bunched and strung the herbs with their dust collars, to recoup, the Rosemary, Thyme and Sage.

I have decanted the garlic powder, the Filini pasta (which can be used in soups), some other fancy pastas that I had in the cupboard have also been decanted into their new jars. The ground ginger has also gone into clean fresh storage jars (some of my ground glass vintage jars).

I hope the rain stops though as I was going to harvest my mint to make the Long-Keeping mint sauce for the pantry shelf.  However it will need to dry out before I can do this.  The post for this will be put up as quickly as I can.

I also spoke with OH about getting in the new fridges and freezer as I really need these now.  He has confirmed that we will deal with this when we come back off holiday. No point in doing so beforehand as not long before we go away.  Not having a fridge has altered my shopping habits which has severely impacted what I do and when I do it.  However it will all come out in the wash.

Prior to going on holiday I am also going to have to get the Christmas puddings and the Christmas cakes made.  I want these out of the way this year so that I can forget about them.  I normally store mine carefully wrapped in my pantry.  However you can freeze them. As long as they are cooked, wrapped carefully, (are fed in respect of the cake) and stored somewhere cool they will last a lot longer than you think they will. I have in the past managed to keep puddings from one year to another and they were delicious.

Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to get back into the swing of things and hopefully it will not be raining.

Fingers crossed.

Catch you soon.  



Another long day

 Slogging away in the dining room.  Slow going.  This evening I have managed to empty out a large storage container of all small tools, get them all washed, found some bits I had forgotten about.  I have been hanging my nose over a Kilner hand coffee grinder.  Oohps good job I have not ordered one I found it this evening.  I also have the butter churner, and the cream whipper.  Would quite like the hand press for small quantities of tomato sauce and ketchup.  I am most definite that I do not have that.  Found a few other things as well.  So it will be an early start tomorrow as yet again I have a lot to do. Predominantly washing out one corner of the dining room, and then it is back to sorting stuff out again.  Must keep at it.

As I found the coffee grinder, I bought some beans to grind my own so that I can for a change have a small Cafitiere of coffee with my breakfast.

We went to the fish shop in Ramsey this morning rather than going on Saturday as we usually do.  We had crab mid-day which was lovely and then Lemon sole for tea.  It was delicious.  We have since had a mix and match of Crayfish tails, this seasons new cockles and OH had some Crevettes.  So that has been all the meals taken care of and it was delicious.  .

I also started off two gallon of Strawberry wine it is steeping at the moment and will turn that into the demijohns on Saturday then leave it to bubble away.

As well as housework and cleaning I also have the following to do over the next few days:

Sage, I have some more of this to dry, however as it has been wet today I have not been able to pick it.  This needs to be done on a dry day and then put into little bundles to dry.  I normally tie the sage together in little bundles, and surround with brown paper to keep the dust off the herb as it is drying.  I do this with all the herbs I hand dry.  I also have Rosemary and some Thyme to do the same way.

Tarragon Vinegar.  I need to make some more of this.  I use this a lot and also give it away as part of Christmas hampers.  This is very easy to make.  You need a bunch of fresh French Tarragon, and the herb should be dry as fresh can be.  Sterilise a jar and add the Tarragon to the bottle of the jar.  I boil up some wine vinegar and then leave it to cool (covered with a tea towel) until it is cool and then I add the vinegar to the Tarragon in the sterilised jar.  Add the cap and then leave for a couple of weeks.  Shake the jar every day.  I normally leave it about a month before decanting into suitable bottles. I do run it through muslin first to take out any sediment.

Raspberry vinegar and Strawberry vinegar.  Need to start this off.  I bought reduced fruit to do this with and 450g of Raspberries are steeping in some white wine vinegar  You basically crush the raspberries in a bowl or tub (I use the end of my rolling pin) add 640ml of vinegar (I use white wine vinegar) and then leave it covered somewhere cool (fridge if you have one).  Strain the vinegar through muslin and then pop into a saucepan and heat through.  Add about 80g to 100g of sugar (remember you can add it in but you cannot take it out) so add a little and often rather than all at once until you are happy with the taste.  Stir until sugar is dissolved then bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.  Get rid of any foam that appears on top of the vinegar as this will spoil the appearance.  Cool the vinegar and then ladle into pre-sterilised bottles.   Should keep on a cold pantry shelf or fridge for up to a year. 

Strawberry vodka.  You just need to soak a punnet or two of Strawberries in Vodka or gin in a lidded rubber ring preserving jar.  Add about 1oz of sugar to start with and then add the chosen spirit.  Seal down the lid.  Shake jar daily for about a month before straining and bottling.

Strawberry Champagne.

Make Long keeping Mint Sauce.  Recipe and Tutorial will be potted over the weekend if it is dry as the fresh herb needs to be dry before processing.

I have some dried goods to decant into storage jars, namely garlic powder, ground ginger, Filini pasta.

I also need to start collecting some cheapy sweets for some cake recipes I want to try.  Sweeties with long stop dates on them.  By the way this is not an advertisement however I found some White mini chocolate Terry Orange slices for £2 a bag.  Now the milk chocolate ones are on offer at £1 a bag at the Co-Op at the moment they are not bad.  But the white ones they are to die for (I am a white chocolate addict).

Right must get to bed as otherwise I am not going to be early getting up.

Catch you soon.



Thursday, 27 August 2020

Sorting out the Dining Room

I am in the throes of cleaning out the dining room and I am finding all sorts of things I had forgotten I had in there including my big box of Hex Bottles.  They will have to go into the shed which is also destined for a clear out as there is a lot of preserving stuff in the house that really needs to go back into the shed.  It therefore looks as though will have to down tools and get the shed sorted and cleaned out first, in order to get things sorted in the dining room although I still have the two defunct fridges in there.  Local Recycling Centre are still not doing collections.

I have nearly 20 demijohns that need to go in the shed somewhere along the line.  Fortunately I do have some deep plastic tubs which they can be stored in on their sides. However I cannot get them in there until the shed is sorted. I also found one of my jelly stands in the dining room and there is another one somewhere together with my older wire ones which I am still keeping.  They do need a bit of TLC so I may well spray paint these with some Plastikote paint to freshen them up.  Jelly bags and frames can also be used in cheese making.  

Broom handles strung between units also make good support poles for jelly nets and cheese and hanging muslin.  No doubt there will be more preserving equipment found as I go along.  I know that there is a lot under the stairs as that is currently the Preserves Pantry.  It needs doing up as well.

However, I am primarily concentrating on the dining room for all intents and purposes.  Once the dining room is done tiz the Kitchen's turn.  It is slow going as usual, partly due to the weather.  I need it to be fine so I can chuck stuff outside to sort it out. Last night I managed to get some of my plastic storage crates emptied out.  They are now in hot water with copious amounts of bleach in them to clean them.  I have left them soaking outside and will finish the cleaning off and the drying off tomorrow.  I had forgotten about these tubs but they will come in useful as I have a load of Christmas decorations to pop into them, which in turn will create more space in the house ultimately as there will be far less boxes.  Must keep at it.

Catch you shortly.



Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Bulbs and Seeds

I am busy at the moment collecting a few bulbs together in order that I can in the first time for many years have some spring planters to cheer up the outside of the house.  I need cheerfulness around me - something that smacks of bringing in the new, new hope, new promise; it all speaks of positivity, and the dawning of a new day, new year, (and hopefully better year for all of us) new time period but most of all flowers for me promote cheerfulness and if the plants are scented all the more wonderful. 

On a grey day, flowers are always vibrant and uplift you. This is something I can do for myself.  With these uncertain times upon us and this pesky, nasty pandemic we can take nothing for granted and so I am where I can putting stuff up so that I can grow some seeds and some flowers.  I had mentioned earlier in the year that I wanted to start a small cutting garden, so seeds, bulbs and plants fit very nicely into this plan.

The bulbs are at the moment, ironically squirrelled away in the pantry where they can come to no harm, whilst I collect a few more and then I will have a massive planting session.  Planting something for tomorrow.  

So far I have managed to gather together Narcissi, Daffodils, Crocus, Anemone, Iris, two different types of Tulips and Snowdrops. I intend to add a few more bulbs to the list yet, plants and seeds for containers for next year.  I want to be prepared and to start earlier next year with the growing of plants from seeds.  This should be doable with the new greenhouses.

One of the things I would like to help with this is a heated propogator or two.  That may have to go on the Christmas Wish List.

I do however have a new spade and fork.  Now to add a few more tools such as a rake and a hoe.

I will also be on the look out for some more fruit trees such as plums.  Will have to see what we can find.

In the next few weeks or two we are going to be concentrating on getting jobs done around the house.  Decorating is high on the list of to dos as well as getting rid of more rubbish, sorting out the garden and sorting out the shed.   So am going to have my work cut out to say the least.  I shall be ready for my holiday.  

I also have a lot of preserving to do inbetween everything else. Tiz just the depth that varies - yet again and despite all the hard work it is something that I enjoy.

As the weather has been abysmal (it has been here like everywhere else a very stormy  night with hardly any let up from the rain), I have decided that comfort food is very much the order of the day.  We are therefore having  a beef, carrot and onion stew to be served with mashed potatoes and lots of gravy for tonight's tea.  No pudding just plums and greengages to nibble at - proper seasonal eating (although I think the stew is a little earlier than normal) but good eating all the same.

I also have some reduced Strawberries to do something with (even if they end up in the freezer first) have to take advantage of bargains where you can.

Right off to the dining room it is for me again.  A lot of sorting going on - whilst I cannot get out into the shed to sort that out.

Catch you soon.



Monday, 24 August 2020

Things Going on in the Kitchen

I managed to find reduced tomatoes during the week.  They are now being processed in the Dehydrator to make tomato powder well for this batch at least which can be added into stews, breads etc to give more flavour.

I also have two lots of eggs = 24 eggs which I have whipped up and popped into the freezer in fours (6 x pots).  I intend to add to this as a store for future baking and in particular, Christmas baking.  Building it up bit by bit, means that I will have eggs available to me for use (a lesson learned from these unusual times).  We have also picked up a tray of small eggs today a couple of which will be used with my smoked haddock which I am having for tea.  The rest will be day to day use.  By the end of the week if there are any left they will be making it into the freezer as well.  Better to be hands on and practical with our food to save any waste.

I also have plans to pickle a couple of trays of eggs in readiness for Christmas.  

One of the chief reasons I do so much preserving is for Christmas, especially, chutneys, pickled onions, picallili, pickled shallots etc. etc.  Basically  in our family, family tradition dictates that the ladies of the house cook Christmas dinner (this is more for practical reasons than anything else, not that the men cannot cook).  The men of the family then do the washing up so that the ladies can sit for a little while.  Tea and meals afterwards consist of cold cuts and everyone helps themselves. Everything is prepared ahead of time and only a minimal amount of cooking is required after the main event (unless other guests are expected).

I have also found some Victoria Plums at the veg shop and intend to pop up some plum crumbles for puddings into the winter months as well.  Pudding during the winter months always warms the soul and served with custard is something to really look forward too.  We have a bone of contention here in that I love cinnamon OH does not so I tend to leave it out and just sprinkle a little cinnamon sugar on my serving - saves some messing around.   I store my cinnamon sugar in a Kilner shaker jar and keep this on hand on one of my pantry shelves.

However, I desperately need the new large chest freezer as soon as possible. I still cannot organise this as we need to have the old ones taken away.  The Council are still not making collections which is a bit of a thorn in the side at the moment as I need this to happen in order that we can replace those failed appliances fridges and freezers and get back to a state of normal.  I still have no fridge and only one freezer which is nearly full.

On a separate note,I also took delivery last night of a Ninja Foodi Tendercrisp pressure cooker/multi-cooker the 7.5litre version.  OH decided that this would be a good option to cook meals in the caravan together with the cooker so I am looking forward to playing with this in due course.  It may be a piece of equipment that goes between the caravan and the house.

Ninja Foodi 7.5L Multi Pressure Cooker Air Fryer Dehydrator 0

Ninja Foodi

I think the pressure cooking side of this is going to be ideal especially for making pie fillings, stews etc.  I also see that it will be very good for stock making, especially if have cooked and crisped a chicken before hand.

Ninja Foodi 6 litre version

(if you click on the link above it will give you the options on size for the Foodi).  It is certainly a very solid and well-balanced piece of equipment.

As the week is new I shall keep my eyes peeled for other reductions during the week to pop stuff up in the freezer or indeed for dehydrating.  All good stuff to Squirrel away for winter days.

Catch you soon.



Saturday, 22 August 2020

I have a book/Folder

A brand new book with plenty of new pages in. That was the plan, Then I had time to think about it and re-evaluate.  If I used a book I would be restricted on space.  I must tell everyone here and now - I hate restrictions of any kind with a vengeance.  I like to be able to expand things if I want to.  Having that little bit of wriggle room makes all the difference moreover it gives you options.  

In retrospect I thought if I changed this to a Lever Arch file this would be easily expandable, especially if the recipes, clippings etc. were contained within plastic sleeves.  This would not only keep the recipes clean, I would also get a clear visual of the recipe and be able to work from it in the kitchen.  The beauty of plastic sleeves and Index cards is that they can be re-arranged if the need arises, re-calibrated, re-Indexed if needed.  I would be able to locate them when I wanted to or re-locate under another section if required. As I have been dabbling a lot recently, I needed a place to put those regular recipes for me which is clearly defined in sections as well as the newer stuff. I was also fed up in trying to find recipes when I wanted them and not being able to find them.  

I therefore decided at an early stage that as I found recipes I wanted to have a go at, I would hand write them out and pop them into my folder. A long term way of getting organised and it would mean everything in in one place.  I prefer to type up the recipes, but feel handwritten has so much more charm - more personal as it were.

Another reason I decided to change it to a Lever Arch file with plastic sleeves is that I thought that the plastic sleeves would keep the recipes safe and clean as well so kind of "two birds with one stone" ethos,  and my cookbooks would remain intact and clean, and easier just to withdraw one folder and work from that rather than having at least a couple of books out whilst I am working which up until this point has been the state of play.

The other reason I am doing it is to preserve those family recipes and resources for the next generation as it were.  Passing on a type of family legacy information that cannot necessarily be learned out of a book.  Some of the recipes will be handwritten others typed, some of them magazine articles etc. etc.  A place though where everything is together in a central position.  

I am a happy clipper and I have been for years.  Anything that takes my fancy and which I think I will make in the future, I clip it out and pop it away into a concertina file and then every so often they are added to a folder and now to be my binder.  This is for craft and gardening as well, which is in a separate storage folder but this is the house one.  Recipe cards from Waitrose find there way here too as do handwritten recipes from friends and family.

One of the other things I want to do, especially over the next few weeks whilst I am at home is to do something a day.  It may only be a small thing, but it will be another thing off the list.  Things like making your own Bouquet Garni, your own Lavender infused honey, Lavender oil, Rosemary Honey,, Chamomile honey, drying small bunches of herbs, freezing home made herbs and home made herb butters, Lemon pepper. Making my own long-keeping mint sauce from mint I have grown.  There is so much to do and this year, or the remnants of this year I want to get lots of little additions sorted and made so that next year I can get on with things on a seasonal, month by month basis.  It is the simple things that bring the most pleasure and being able to enjoy the moment, experience and process is just as fundamental a pleasure as going for a walk or riding a bike!  I want to stop and smell the Roses and savour that which is going on around me as well as fill the pantry.  Me fine tuning my organisation systems again.

How do you store your well used or family recipes?

Catch you soon.



Friday, 21 August 2020

Crafting whilst on holiday

 We went off in a bit of a hurry but I did better with the things I took to do this time around.  I had popped some hexies into a bag and this time round I was able to sit and start hand-sewing some of these together.  Technically I started this two years ago, but so far I have 12 central panels sewn together.  I am pleased with how they have turned out but I still have a long way to go.  I found that I could not concentrate when the littlies were around so did this when they were out and about.  I intend to use a lot of cream fabric to surround these panels as at the moment I would like these little panels to stand out and "pop" a bit.

Here are the little panels I worked whilst away.  It was good to have something in my hands to handwork again and once I got into the rythm of hand sewing the little panels soon grew.  No I need to try and sort out some more cutting before we go away as this would be ideal for me to take.


I also started a crewel work kit that I have had for sometime.  It has a few stitches that I do not really know long and short stitch being one of them.  I am therefore having a go and for a first attempt things are not working out too badly.  Long way to go but I am going to have to keep doing a little between the two projects. I do need to source some more Appletons crewel wool though probably will look tomorrow online to source this.  I do not want to come to a stop due to lack of thread.  I have another kit that I have started which uses the Appletons wool so will see if I can put my hands on that and order the wool for that at the same time. I want to get pieces completed or at least on the way to being worked.

I am pleased with how things are progressing and that I am slowly starting to get to do a little bit of much needed crafting.  It really helps me calm down and regain a little bit of focus which of late has been sadly lacking.  I have very much felt like a pebble on the tideline being shoved one way and then another.  Such is life!  Hopefully once the house has been done out a bit more I will get time to craft at home as well which will be excellent.

We are going off on our travels again in September and are staying in the Exmoor Forest.  I want to have a good look around Glastonbury and if possible to visit the Chalice Well at the Abbey. It is an area I have only visited once before and it was just a quick rush around the town on our way back from Cornwall one year.  Equally, OH likes Devon so where we are staying gives us the option of going in either direction.  The cats will go into a cattery this time whilst we are away.  There is one near where we store the caravan which we are going to check out.  If this is what I am after for them they will then be going to see the vet.  Shush don't tell them.

Right I had better get a move on.

Catch you soon.



Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Gathering things together

 Is it me, or is autumn quietly slipping in a little earlier than expected.  The Holly tree in the front garden has masses of berries on it already, a country sign that we may well have a cold winter this year.

Despite popping off for holidays (we are extremely lucky in that OH has retired) and he wants to see more of this country, I have been gathering things together. Like layers in a spider's web, I am doing things slowly so that I will be able to draw all the layers together and start the preparation for Christmas.  I want to make sure that I am reasonably stocked up compared to last year and I want the puddings and the cakes done with before we go on holiday again in September.

At this time of year I predominantly always start stocking up on baking ingredients and dried fruit.  Usually there are offers on which makes it cheaper to do bulk buys. At the moment I have not seen any. I am talking predominantly about ingredients for Christmas cakes and puddings.  I am currently gathering some ingredients together and buying a little here and there.  Each time I shop I look to see what is in store.  Today I have seen mixed peel and glace cherries which I have not seen for a long time so one of each came home with me. I will need some more, but a little at a time will not hurt.

Today I have also been to the reductions counter  in my local Co-Op.  I have bought a mixture of reduced tomatoes and they are going into the dehydrator to dry through thoroughly, sprinkled with a little homegrown Oregano and a little garlic powder.  Once dried I can then decide what I am going to do with them.  Predominantly tomato powder I think for this batch to add flavour to stews, casseroles and home made bread.

I have also picked up three small packets of Blueberries.  They are going to be frozen as is and used to make home made Blueberry muffins which are a favourite around here. Blueberries are very good in fighting off infections and also help regulate your immune system as they tackle any naughty toxins/antibodies in your system and help boost your immune system.  I also use them cooked down a little to add to my home-made yogurt. Delicious it is too and you can sweeten to taste if the berries are too tart for your liking.  It is well worth freezing fruits like this for winter use as they can not only be used in yogurt they can be used in smoothies and milk shakes. You can also dry them and use them in home made Muesli or Granola.

I also bought a punnet of the first Victoria plums that I have seen today.  I will have to have a look at what the veg shop has in as I have plans to freeze some, make jam, make jelly (wonderful in home made stir-fries) as well as for use in baking.  I also want to bottle some in syrup for use in winter puddings as well as make plum chutney and Christmas chutney.  As a result there is going to be a lot to do, without what is going on at the house at the moment. We have quite a bit of stuff to deal with before the winter months hit decorating etc.

I also spotted some Sea Buckthorn berries as well to make sauce/cordial.  If the weather improves will be making a foraging trip shortly.

Right must get on.  Will conclude the first holiday notes in the next few days.

Catch you soon.




The Christmas Chutney recipe I am going to make I posted the recipe in 2010.  For those of you wanting to have a go at a chutney, this is a really lovely one that has a really rich Christmassy colour especially if you use purple plums.  This is a regular make here.

The link to the post is here for those of you who are interested.

Christmas Chutney


Sunday, 16 August 2020

Hello everyone

We are back from our travels and have arrived home just before a horrendous thunderstorm happened just after we got in.  Has come through the back door as was torrential rain and the guttering could not cope.

Have had a very interesting break which nearly did not happen for a multitude of reasons.

The first was me losing Bumble.

The second was my step-daughter's dog has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  He came with us as he was supposed to do, he picked up once daughter went to see him and started eating.  He is stable at the moment is on medication and comfortable. He will tell her when he has had enough- or if he is in pain.  He is a lovely gentleman, very gentle and a Staffie.

The third was we were all piled in the car+, caravan was packed ready to go and the cable to the tow bar failed.  We nearly had to go home get an engineer out and leave the following day/  Fortunately they had a replacement socket at the caravan suppliers and OH ended up rewiring everything.  It worked and we were then able to depart.

We have after arriving safely had a very pleasant week despite diverse weather conditions.

We now have a lot of work to do over the coming days which needs to be completed before our next jaunt.  At this moment in time we are looking to go to Glastonbury.  I would like to go to the healing well there, as well as look around the area iself.

I did manage to get some needlework done - only a little, not very easy with a 7 year old and a 3 year old in tow.  I am pleased to have got some done though and did better this time round.  More on this in another post.

I hope you are all keeping well.

I could have done with staying another week at Woodhall Spa for a rest.

Catch you soon.



Friday, 7 August 2020

Sad times

 Very unexpectedly last night I lost Bumble, brother to Tinky Two.  He had been okay eating and drinking yesterday out of the blue he fitted and passed from this mortal coil, two weeks to the day his sister passed.  He had not been the same since losing her.  RIP little boy you gave so much love and were always sweet natured and always into mischief.

You will be missed


Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Tuesday Day 4 of our Holiday

We had a very chilled out day. It was muggy and warm.  OH decided to investigate the fishing and I went with him for a very short while. I then came back to the van with Missy in tow.  She has really made herself comfortable in the van a very spoilt Jack Russell.  She really seems to like it.  Here I have caught her where she should  not be.  The grey cushion to the side is her bed!

When I got back to the van I started looking at some of my needlework kits that I had bought with me.  I have covered these in a separate post entitled One thing I did not get right.  I will therefore not duplicate that particular post.

I must say that it was really nice to play and be focused for a good four hours or more.  I did go wrong several times with a new kit I had started and run out of thread on the other.  It was a warm day in any event and I had to open up the windows to let the fresh air in and also to cool things down a bit.

Whilst I was working away I had already started the preparations for tea,  As we had eaten so well the previous few days we wanted something lighter for tea and had fixed on gammon and pineapple for tea.  As the last couple of gammon steaks have been very salty, I decided to take the precaution of soaking the gammon steaks in water for about an hour and a half before cooking them.  I had therefore prepped all of this prior to diving into my needlework.

My companion in crime Missy was supervising sort of inbetween cat-napping and raising a quizzical eyebrow every so often.

When OH got back from his fishing - he had fished out quite a few fish including three large ones.  He said that there were a lot of fish in the lake, (there was a lot of colour in the water when I went down with him - which often indicates that there are a lot of fish in the lake.  Our neighbours were also keen on fishing and we got talking to them generally about quite a few things.  Indeed they gave some advice regarding the awning, indicating that rather than guy ropes to hold the awning in situ it would be better to have a couple of straps (which we subsequently did)  They had a lovely large motor home.

After tea, we walked Missy but also had a good look around the park - there is quite a lot of it if but it is set out in very nice little streets or areas all serviced by excellent washroom facilities and there is also a small laundry in one of the blocks and a food preparation area.  We also had a look at the pods (I called them Hansel and Gretl houses - that is what I am going to tell the grandchildren they are).  There were some in front of us and some at the back of us.  There are two birth versions and four berth as well.  You have to take your own bedding.  There is a kettle but no cooking facilities and there is an area where you can put a small charcoal barbecue.  We thought that this would be ideal for either my step-son and his partner or indeed my step-daughter and her two children to sleep in.  Although our van is large, when you have two young children their bed times are likely to be a lot earlier than adults and if they had stayed in the van with us it would have meant that we would have lost the sitting area in the van.  We thought that this would be an acceptable arrangement for both of them and still give them their own privacy.  Both of them were invited, but my step-daughter and the children are the ones coming as step-son had other arrangements already in hand.  Maybe another time.

What we liked about this site is that there is plenty of space for children to play and the children that were there were very well behaved not unnecessarily noisy which can happen.  They were all mingling in with each other and making friends.  There are also plenty of trees which I absolutely love.

After booking the holiday we came back to the van and sat out for a while.  It was quite muggy.  We then watched a little TV for a while before retiring to bed.

One thing I do love about the caravan is that it has quite large windows in the ceiling as well as all round the van.  Where our bed is in the van is situated straight under the skylight.  I was chuffed to bits as it has long been a dream of mine to have a home with a large bedroom but with a glass window in the roof itself so that I could stargaze from my bed.  I never dreamed it would be in a caravan though.  For me this has meant that I can relax and just stare upwards watching the stars before nodding off to sleep.  I have always had my head in the clouds but now I could see the stars.


Catch you soon.



Some more bits and bobs for the Pantry Shelf

Next year will be the year I get sorted properly with the garden.  I say this every year, however this year has been the best so far. However in the interim and very Squirrel like I am popping up lots of bits and bobs for the shelf from ingredients sourced from local shops and supermarkets.  Even though my Pantry has not quite been sorted out or decorated yet but I am getting there.

Earlier in the year I had made Rosemary salt to put on my homemade chips.  However a little furry creature called Tinky 2 (recently sadly deceased - although not as a result of spilling the salt) decided to go climbing on one of my dressers where it was stored, knocked it off the shelf, scattered the lot and to add insult to injury broke the vintage glass storage jar I had stored it in.  Grhh little monster. I did love her so though. She was only following her curious nature! I therefore needed to make some more which I have started off from the fresh Rosemary growing in my garden today.  Layering salt in a jar alternating with your chosen herb will dry out the herb as it is a natural dessicant.  This time round I have used a very fine sea salt rather than Maldon Salt flakes. It is also an ideal item to make more of and then give in little pots as part of a Christmas hamper for Christmas.

A couple of more bottles of Tarragon vinegar have also been prepared. This is a staple on my Pantry shelf.  A dash of this to a home made Marie Rose Sauce, lifts the sauce a little but a splash is also good in the gravy accompanying chicken.  I must admit Tarragon is one of my favourite herbs, but it must be French Tarragon.

I was buying pickled shallots at £3 a jar which is extortionate as it is only a tiny jar.  I therefore bought a couple of kilos of shallots when I saw them as we have completely run out of those I prepared last year. They are currently £3 a kilo from Waitrose and I have four large jars for the sum of £6 so far.

I also bought a bunch of beetroot to make a couple of jars of pickled beetroot.

One thing I do make every year is the Souper Mix from the River Cottage Preserves book by Pam Corbin.  My veggies are together and I had planned on doing this last night. However after my efforts at the caravan, I was shattered when we got in.  So that is on the agenda to do today.

Strawberry Vodka.  A couple of punnets of Strawberries are in a large Kilner jar, immersed and macerating in a bottle of Vodka.

I have also started off this year's Rumptopf with a layer of Strawberries, this time the fruit is immersed in a layer of sugar and covered in Rum - Dark Rum.

Talking of Rum, I found a bottle of my home made vanilla essence and it smells yum.  Am going to have to use some of that soon.  It is a perpetual bottle as each time you take some out you add a little more spirit in.

There was also a bottle of Gin in the house and as I have Rhubarb in the garden Rhubarb Gin was the obvious answer.  The Rhubarb  has been gently stewed and is currently soaking in a little bit of sugar and Gin.

Rhubarb cordial has also been made and the bottles processed in the Baby steriliser.  That will be very useful for the drinks cabinet as well.

OH received news this week that he will be able to fish a lake he used to fish again.  No one has been able to fish there for the past five years or so.  This is where I used to get my crab apples from.  So fingers crossed they are still there and I will be able to obtain some for making Crab apple jelly which is gorgeous with home stuffed and rolled Pork Belly which has been roasted.  Yum.  If they are there, there were two types, a rosy coloured crab and a yellow coloured crab.  Although the same recipe is used with both colours, I love it as you get two coloured jellies one a pinky red and the other a yellowy gold.

There are still lots of other projects in hand, which I will post about as I go along.  However they were all easy to fit in with what I have been doing over the past couple of days.

Unfortunately I did not wake up in time for an early morning forage.  Will take Missy there later and then collect some whilst I am walking her.  At least am getting a few goodies squirrelled away for the winter months.

Catch you soon.



Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Oh what a morning, Milkshake, Shopping and Blackberries

OH had planned on doing maintenance work with electrics today.  Yesterday he had had a successful day with putting in a Membership application for fishing a lake, plus a passport application, taking photos and then doing the applications himself by email.  I was seriously impressed as he normally yells for me to assist.  My little pep talks seem to be sinking in, in that I cannot always do everything.  So carrying on in the same vein he decided to tackle some electrical projects in the house.  I will not touch anything to do with electrics.  We also needed to go to the caravan so on our way we went.  Did what we needed to do and on the way back home the car cut out and shutdown.  Fortunately OH has RAC cover, but getting hold of anyone via mobile phone (we are with Virgin) but the cover in Eye is impossible.  We ended up leaving the car and coming home by taxi.  OH then rang RAC from home and they have promised someone within 90 minutes.  We are currently waiting for them to call giving an ETA.

So for the time being the electrical projects are on hold as we need to go to B & Q for some items.  We have a couple of light fittings that take screw based bulbs and they have pinged.  We also need a new strip light for the computer room as that has also pinged.

True to their word the RAC man rang within the 90 minutes and has assessed that the alternator has packed up.  The car is currently in the RAC recommended garage and they were saying because of previous appointments it would be about a week before they would be able to deal with it.  We are on our travels again from the weekend, and it looked as though would have to cancel the holiday.  However, they have come back to us and are going to look at it on Thursday.  Fingers crossed  and toes plaited, as this is the only time we can take the grandkids on holiday.

Since OH coming back and resting up (he needed to as he had become a little agitated which is not good for his heart or blood pressure), we were notified by step-daughter that she had found some Lime Crusha milk shake mix which is a family favourite.  She had found some on a limited edition offer at our local Asda.  We therefore walked into town as we needed to collect Missy's pain prescription and other pet paraphernalia.  OH has bought Missy a bright multi-coloured harness and new lead we also needed flea treatments for the cats.

We then went on to Asda to have a look for the Lime Crusha  and were able to purchase some.  We have since enjoyed a glass or two.  We also bought a few more bits for the caravan, a swiffer mop which is telescopic and a large round frying pan. We bought some other foodie bits as well.  We came home by taxi though as it is quite a trek.

As we use the car to get to the walk we do with Missy and as said car is absent for a few days had to walk her nearer the house.  She wore her new harness.  I don't think she likes it as she was lagging behind.  However the walk itself was good, and I found loads of blackberries.  I hope to get up first thing to go and gather some to put in the freezer for making jam and liqueurs when we get back from holiday.  The elderberries are also turning so will be making some elderberry jelly as I use this in my homemade barbecue sauce mix.  I also saw a fox, and watched him for a few moments before he clapped eyes on me and scarpered.

It will soon be harvest and when I see the elderberries autumn is gently slipping in.  There are lots of berries, and my holly tree in the front garden has masses of berries on as well. Lots of berries according to country law is indicative of a cold winter.  We did not have cold weather as such last year and potentially could end up with a cold winter as a result.  Wise to put up and squirrel away what you can in the freezers, pantry, bottle store, wines, drinks and cordials.  Once back from this holiday I will set about canning stocks, soups, stews for the pantry shelf.  It will all help.  I have plans to do an onion stock which I can use as a base for French Onion Soup, which is a good one if you have a cold.  I think I will be going full swing on the preserving front when we get back home.

Right have things to do.

Catch you later.



Monday Day Three of our holiday

Monday was indeed caravan weather  It was wet and horrible and we put the radio on and listened to Gold station.  I had forgotten to take CDs and DVDs with me in all the palaver we had before going on holiday, but I am going to sort out the missing bits and put them in a stash to take down to the van during this coming week.

I don't know about you but I love listening to the radio; I believe my brother does too.  It is a family thing, we tend to have it on for background whilst we are working away at other different things.

After checking that the cats were okay (I was anxious about them especially in view of the loss of Tinly Two, but it turned out that they were more than okay.  Well stuffed and being spoilt.

Monday was a quiet day because of the weather; we had planned on doing relatively nothing and to use it as chill out time.  We also kept ourselves very much to ourselves; not wanting to impinge on anyone else's personal space.

As the weather changed from caravan weather to quite aceptable we did nip to Sainsburys again to pick up some extra bits for tea.  We had planned on having fried steak with onions, sweet potato chips, bread and butter and side salad.  Whilst there I ended up buying more strawberries and cream for pudding and some peppercorn sauce for OH to have on his steak.

We walked Missy and the following photos show part of the lovely walk.

Once we got back I cooked dinner and it went down very nicely thank you.  So much so I forgot to take photos.  Needless to say the caravan cooker has been given a real work out.

We then spent a peaceful evening OH watching TV and me with some of my needlework, before retiring to bed quite late.  We had no sense of time whilst away and we really slept well, but were still up reasonably early in the mornings.




Meet the Moggies

  • Merlin (approx 18 months)
  • Squeak (approx 2 years)
  • Poppy (approx 16 years)
  • Tyson (approx 17 years)
  • Tinky (official name Clover approx 18 years)