Wednesday, 30 September 2015

A walk on the beach

The beaches in Somerset are nowhere near as lovely as Cornwall or Devon ones.....because they're on the Bristol channel I guess, and thus are mainly mud.  They're mainly flat as well, not rocky like the north Cornish ones.  Still, a beach is a beach, and we consider ourselves very lucky to now live just a few minutes drive from the seaside.

We went to Burnham on Sea the other day, it's our nearest seaside resort (if you can call it that!).  There's a big holiday camp there, so we don't often go during the holiday season - far too busy.  Even at this time of year it's still quite busy.....a different type of holidaymaker though, no families or children, just pensioners.

Which probably explains this:-


 

We had the beach virtually to ourselves, despite it being a warm sunny day.  The high street, however, was heaving....the holidaying pensioners obviously prefer shopping to walks on the beach.  Fine with us!  The tide was out, it goes out a very long way.....we didn't walk to the water's edge as it gets very boggy there and it's incredibly easy to get stuck in deep mud - every year, despite there being warning signs, a few holidaymakers have to be rescued by the lifeboat people. 

It was nice to get out in the fresh air for a few hours, we really must make the effort to do it more often.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Gorgeous morning

OH got up in the early hours to have a look at the blood moon/eclipse, but I was just too tired and comfortable to get out of bed.  I'll just have to wait until 2033 then!

This was the view from the front bedroom window this morning:-


 

I love mornings like this, when there's mist rolling across the field and the rising sun makes the sky all pastel pink and blue, it's magical.

The old sofa has gone, along with our old metal framed bed and the old dining chairs, for which we were paid a reasonable price which will go back into the savings kitty to help replace what we paid for the new sofa.  The new sofa is just lovely, so comfortable (if a bit squeaky, being leather!) and very supportive with the high deep buttoned back.  OH was lying fast asleep on it last night (he always nods off during his favourite programme, Antiques Roadshow!!), he slept most of the way through the programme so the sofa must be comfy!  The cushions have faded a bit through wear and there are a couple of very minor scratches, but I expect a colour restorer kit will sort that out.

After some googling, we've found a second hand furniture charity which has several branches throughout Devon, we're going to go and have a look around one of the biggest branches tomorrow.  We really want to crack on with getting the last few bits of furniture on our list of things to replace, before the end of this year....just 3 things left to get, an armchair to replace our worn out recliner, pine wardrobe for the spare room, and a computer chair so we can get rid of the current one which has an alarming left hand tilt.

Got loads of tomatoes to do something with today, I think I'll cook them down with chopped red onions (got lots of them as well), balsamic vinegar and basil for pasta sauces and freeze in tubs.  We had roast lamb yesterday, so will chop up the remaining lamb and mix with leftover gravy and make a lovely shepherds pie, there'll be enough to freeze some for another day, I expect.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

Back to normal

Thank you very much for all the supportive comments on my miserable self-pitying post yesterday, I don't usually get so down and it's not the sort of thing people really want to read about, so I apologise for that.  Suffice it to say that I've let my feelings be known to the relevant people and am now drawing a line under it.

Today I've just got on with things.....2 loads of washing (dried in the tumbler - just wanted to get it done and dusted), all folded and put away.  Granary loaf made.  Lunch cooked (chicken breasts cubed and cooked in a bought sauce, with added shallots, mushrooms and peas, served with tagliatelle and broccoli), washing up done, 3 jars of strawberry jam made.  Now I'm sitting down with a big glass of water and once I've finished writing this, will be looking on that auction site and in local ads.

We've just bought a new (to us) sofa, it's being delivered tomorrow.  We wanted a leather, hard wearing, good quality one which will last us a lot of years, we've been saving hard for ages and finally found just what we were looking for on the auction site last week.  Lots of leather sofas seem to be too soft and squishy - we know a couple of people with ones like that and they offer no back support at all.  Since OH and I both suffer with back problems, we wanted a decent sofa with good support, the one we've bought is a Chesterfield type but with a high button back, not the usual low backed ones you see.  Now we'd like a decent leather armchair too.  We have a black leather recliner armchair, but the springs are going (we've had it probably at least 10 years), the leather is wearing out and it's generally looking a bit tatty now.  No hurry, I dare say it will last a few more months, we're happy to wait until the right thing comes along if there's nothing suitable for sale locally at the minute.  It always does sooner or later, that's how we've acquired most of our current furniture.

OH has got all the potatoes in now, they'd been drying off in the polytunnel - we've got a full sack, happy about that.  He's offered to slice and freeze a lot of our onions, which I'm also pleased about - I cry like a baby when preparing onions, so that will be a huge help.

Over the next few days I'm going to try and finish off the single bed blanket I seem to have been crocheting forever, so I can then make a start on a couple of lap throws for the winter.

Thanks for reading, I'm always slightly surprised - but very pleased - that people actually do read what I write, considering that none of it is particularly interesting!

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Having a 'bollocks to everything and everyone' day

Now, I'm not a martyr at all.....if/when I do something for someone, I do it because I want to and am happy to do it.  So how come I often feel like there's very little reciprocation, that what I want doesn't even enter other people's radars? 

I could go on but what's the point.

I am sorry for being miserable and self indulgent, that's not what this blog is supposed to be about.  I just wish that people would show a bit of consideration and do what I want for a change.  And not be made to feel totally unreasonable and 'hormonal' if I get upset about it.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Busy in and out

Thanks for your comments.....the lightly pickled cucumber is lovely, really fresh tasting and crisp.  I will definitely make this again.  Will be having a go at the sliced onion pickle tomorrow - strawberry jam to make also.

Went to Wilko's this morning to stock up on toiletries and buy a new cruet set....we've had ours for years and both grinders hardly work anymore - well, not without a good thump on the worktop first!  They had loads of veg seeds in a big tub, all reduced, so had a good rummage through and bought about a dozen packs....peas, courgettes, cucumbers, tomatoes, plus a few others I can't remember.  I think we have enough seeds for next year now.  Oh, except for yellow waxpod French beans, not seen any of those yet....even the garden centres haven't any in, they're all starting to remove loads of stuff (like seeds etc) to make way for bloody Christmas stuff.  Grrr.

Have just made lunch (OH was complaining he was starving) - bacon, brie and cranberry paninis, lovely.  I have a packet of puff pastry I got out of the freezer a couple of days ago to make something or other, but then got sidetracked and didn't do it, so must use it today.  Will use the rest of the bacon, pesto, cheese and mushrooms and do an open tart, will have that cold for lunch tomorrow with salad.  Also need to make a banana cake, 2 manky nanas to use up. 

We're having roast pork for dinner tonight.....we wouldn't normally have a roast midweek, but OH thought he had some home-cooked ham in the freezer for his packed lunches this week and it turns out he hasn't.  So it's roast pork for tonight and plenty left for his sandwiches, plus some for me.  I'll do a load of roast spuds and Yorkshires so I can freeze some for another day, saving a bit of effort and time when I'm busy one day.

OH is spending most of the day in the garden, he flits about between jobs (short attention span!) but is clearing the beds where some of the veg has finished, making the framework for another raised bed, doing a bit of cutting back and digging, doing some man job or other in the garage, and (supposedly) tidying it up a bit....allegedly.  His idea of tidying is not mine, but there you go ;-)

Tonight I'm going to sit and sew in all the ends on my latest blanket.....I really hate that job, I suppose it would be better if I did it as I went along after each colour change, but am not that organised!

Friday, 18 September 2015

Have a look at these....

Morning all, bright and sunny start here in lovely Somerset.

I just want to mention two sites, a blog and a forum, that I follow.  The blog is Going Green in France, you can find it here , it's my friend Aly's blog.  She recently got a new ipad, which somehow managed to lose her old blog so she had to start it up again, and her old readers seem to be having trouble finding her.

The forum is The Cottage Smallholder, link here , both of us are members.  It's a wonderful forum that's been going several years, full of good tips and advice about cooking, baking and preserving, growing fruit & veg, keeping chickens, crafts, home brewing.  It's very friendly indeed, several of us on there have met up in real life and become good friends.  The 2 owners of the forum very sadly split up a couple of years ago, although they still keep the forum going, but it's lost it's way a bit since then with no leader at the helm, and we could really do with some active new members.  Have a look, introduce yourself (there's a dedicated Introductory thread) and we'll be very happy to have you join us!

I made a couple of jars of cucumber pickle yesterday, following DC of Frugal in Norfolk's link here , haven't tasted it yet but it looks good.  Think I might do the same with some of our onions, sliced thinly.....we like cheese and onion sandwiches but raw onion is a bit too harsh for me, lightly pickling it like this might hopefully take that harshness away.  As we have lots of onions now, I'm happy to give it a go.

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

A (cheap) spendy day

Thank you for all your comments on my last couple of blogs.....I'm sorry I haven't got round to answering them individually yet.  Oh, and I seem to have 2 or 3 new followers.....welcome to you all, I've just not worked out who you are yet!

Has anyone been following the Rick Stein From Venice to Istanbul series?  I love Rick Stein, he's one of the most down to earth and least celebrity-like of the celeb chefs, and his food is so simple, not all mucked about with like some of the others do.  His food and travel programmes are brilliant, he's always so interested in both the country and the way people cook, his enthusiasm just shines through.  Having been to Padstow (for the umpteenth time, it's one of our favourites places) last week though, I have to say some of the prices he charges, not just in his restaurants but the deli and cookware stuff too, are a bit steep.  This latest book of his, for example:-


It accompanies his new series.....cover price £25 in his shop (how much?!?!!).  Well, I've just bought it from a well-known internet bookstore for £11.47 inc. postage.  It arrived this morning and I've been drooling over the gorgeous recipes and pics and descriptions.  I love the book, but why anyone would pay such extortionate full prices is beyond me.....I have a bit of a thing about cook books and have loads, but I normally buy them for a pound or two at boot fairs or charity shops.  I really wanted this book though and didn't want to wait for x amount of months until I saw it in a charity shop.

We went to Burnham on Sea this morning....it's safe to go there now the main hols season is over ;-).  Having said that, there were still lots of pensioners with Brummie accents there, but thankfully very few children or pushchairs or sullen teenagers walking 4 abreast across the pavement.  We had a trawl through the charity shops, there are several, most of which are local or independent charities rather than the huge conglomerate ones which are just pricing themselves out of the market now.  I got this:-


A ball of King Cole Splash DK for £1.....I've seen this yarn online recently for £3.79.  Lovely shades of blue with splashes of pink, shame there was only the one ball, think I'll make an infinity scarf with it.

I also managed to get some more of the blue & white willow pattern crockery we're collecting - 4 dessert bowls and 3 cups & saucers, paid £3.50 for the lot.  I now only need another 3 cups & saucers, teapot, milk jug and sugar bowl to complete my set - I've got loads of dinner and side plates, a few bowls, fruit bowl, cruet set, 2 meat platters and 2 sandwich/cake plates already.

So am really pleased with the things we got today - even more so since nothing was full price.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Produce for next year

We're starting to work out what to grow next year, based on our successes and failures over the past couple of years.  We've decided to concentrate solely on what grows well and we eat a lot of, and ditch anything that doesn't perform well or needs too much mollycoddling when growing....we haven't got time for that. 

Potatoes is a given....a first early, some of which will be grown in bags in the polytunnel for a very early crop, and a maincrop.  We need to do a bit of research to find the best maincrop spud for slug and eelworm resistance - so many of ours are being tunnelled and eaten.  OH has lifted them all now to reduce the risk of any more being eaten, they're currently drying out in one of the polytunnels.

Carrots of course, they do really well in a purpose-built deep raised bed, OH refills it with fresh compost every year. 

French beans - we like the yellow waxpod ones and the purple ones (even if they do, disappointingly, go green when they're cooked.  Are there any which stay purple, does anyone know?).  We didn't grow enough of either of these this year, we'll have a lot more next year.

Courgettes - 2 each of yellow and green.  Any more than that and we get absolutely inundated with them. 

Red and brown onions and leeks - lots of.  Next year I want to grow enough to see us through a whole year.

Purple sprouting broccoli - grew that for the first time this year and it was lovely.  That's the only brassica we're going to do from now on....it's just too much hassle trying to keep the blasted cabbage whites off them, and we've never been successful with cauliflowers, for some reason, so we're not bothering with them anymore.

Butternut squashes, we do reasonably well with them and they store so well.

Tomatoes, lots of, a couple of cherry ones, 2 or 3 ordinary Ailsa Craig or Shirley types, a couple of plums and one or two beefsteak.  Also ridge cucumbers, they have done really well this year and last. 

Radishes of course - successional sowings! 

Oh, and I want lots of peas - nowhere near enough this year, and fresh new young peas are one of my favourite veggies.

We're not bothering with aubergines or peppers again - the aubergines just don't grow enough, not enough warm sunshine I expect.  And the peppers, whilst growing to a good size, never seem to ripen - again, down to sunshine (or lack of) I suppose.....and I don't like green peppers!  We also won't bother with shallots anymore - they do grow very well, I just don't use enough of them to warrant growing them.

As for fruit - we're actually going to get rid of some of our raspberries for next year.....they've done so incredibly well, we are absolutely inundated with them.  We've used loads in puddings, I've made lots of bottles of liqueurs and cordials, and we have several kilos in bags in the freezer, more than enough for a year!  I'm beginning to be sick of the sight of raspberries.....

We have 2 blackcurrant and 2 blueberry bushes, they all give us sufficient fruit.  We're going to get new strawberry plants for next year.  Hopefully, our Victoria plum will fruit for the first time next year, as well as our young Conference pears and cooking apple.  The Fiesta eating apple has fruited for the first time.....not many yet this year, but should be better next.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Raring to go!

Well, almost!  We're back, invigorated and feeling positive and refreshed, having had a lovely time in Cornwall with perfect weather.  Lots of lovely walks up on cliffs overlooking the gorgeous clear blue sea (the sea in Somerset is muddy and brown, not inviting at all).  Two things this has taught us - we are both very unfit, we need to get out and get moving more.  And going out for long walks, especially overlooking the sea, really lifts our spirits - so we need to get out more!  OH has 3 days off a week (he does his full time hours in 4 days, or rather, nights) so theoretically it is possible.  We do seem to be quite busy on his days off, but it shouldn't be a problem to rearrange things so that we get a morning or afternoon off so we can go out for a hike somewhere.  We'll try and do that starting next week.

We both need to lose weight, I know we eat too many carbs and that definitely makes me feel very sluggish and bloated.  I've just ordered a spiralizer, so we can make the most of all our lovely veggies in stir fries or as veggie pasta.  My brother and SiL, who we were staying with, have one and made us the most delicious stir fry on a bed of spiralized beetroot and sweet potato, which has prompted me to get one.  My coffee consumption has been creeping up again, so I want to cut back to just 1 or maybe 2 a day, drinking water or green tea the rest of the time.  I always have drunk water, just not enough of it lately.

06.13 and it's just now light out.....the days are getting shorter so quickly now.  I really don't like winter - spring is my favourite season.  How funny it is to think that Australia are just starting their spring!  My nephew and his girlfriend are about to emigrate to Perth for a couple of years, so they'll be missing winter altogether this year, lucky pair.

Right, time to get dressed and do a freezer/larder inventory - I'm going to be doing this every week now (she says, hoping that putting it in print will actually make her do it!), we're going to be eating up our stores for the next few weeks.  It's about time we did, the freezers in particular are bursting at the seams, and less shopping will help to build up our savings again, which have been a bit depleted recently.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Knackered

I'm knackered.  There's been a lot going on the past few weeks - what with the problems with my mother, which are ongoing and long term, and a few other things.  When I'm stressed or under pressure, it's always my sleep and my guts that suffer, I have IBS and it's giving me hell at the mo.  All this week I've been awake for 2, 3 or 4 hours during the night, which is affecting everything and now I feel like a total zombie. 

We're going away for a few days and I just cannot wait, it will be so nice to get away from everything, not have to do any cooking or housework, shut off my brain and just go with the flow.

Then I can come back feeling like myself again and get on with helping OH get the last crops in, making jam and chutney, sorting out the freezers and start making lists and menu plans.  I plan to spend as little as possible in the next few weeks, we are going to be doing minimal shopping and eating out of the freezers/store cupboard.  Our Big Master Plan has gone out of the window a bit lately, we need to get back on it.  OH's retirement is getting ever nearer and we need to be fully prepared for that.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

A bargain and 3 makes

Thanks for the comments on my last blog.  I think the reason the supermarket shop this time was so horrendous was because it was Bank Hol - thus more people around, including holidaymakers.  Also, we went there about an hour or so later than we usually go, so again there were more people about than there are when we go early in the morning.  Should have known better really!

As for sleeping....well, I've had a couple of reasonably good nights so feeling a lot better now.  It was suggested that I try a nap during the day - nope, that doesn't work for me, on the rare occasions when I've tried it (because I've been so shattered that my body/brain just come to a halt), my sleeping pattern that night has been even worse, I can hardly sleep at all.  Like I said, I'm pretty much used to it after all these years, I just get the odd day or two when it all catches up with me.

Went to the town yesterday and had a quick look in a couple of the charity shops.....the ones in our town (about 7 or 8) aren't up to much really - 2 of the big chain ones are too expensive, I think they're just getting too greedy and pricing themselves out of the market.  A couple look like jumble sales - stock just piled up or thrown on shelves and hangers totally haphazardly and untidily.  However, there are two that I really like - one local hospice and an animal charity, they're well organised and reasonably priced.  In one of them I found this gorgeous jacket:-


It's a deeper, richer cerise pink than it looks in the photo, it's gorgeous, just my sort of colour, I love it.  Cost £7 and it's hardly worn - in fact it may even be brand new, it's still got those few little loose stitches that some manufacturers put in to keep the pockets closed.

OH requested lemon and ginger cake this morning, for his work packed lunches this week.  I made muffins, have just drizzled them with lemon sugar syrup:-


The surplus will be frozen for another time.  I've also made a granary loaf - no picture as it's in the oven at the mo.

And then I also did this:-


Raspberry and honey whisky, I've done 2 one-litre bottles, the second bottle needs a little more whisky adding to it to fill it up, that will have to wait until we go shopping again.  We had a few odd blackberries that have ripened so far, I added them too.  For cultivated ones, they're not very big, only a third of the size of the raspberries.