Sunday 31 May 2020

Pigs, Sloths and Flies ...

Today is the last day of May ... you didn't really need me to tell you that did you ... but I thought I would anyway.  How is the time managing to whizz by so quickly when all I am doing is pottering through the days with all the speed of a Sloth on Diazepam.

I don't know, but bye bye May you were a strange month that's for sure.

The flies are driving me mad at the moment.

They squeeze in through the smallest of openings when you're not looking and then seemingly are completely unable to negotiate flying out through an open window, or the six foot by three foot wide open door space.  They then proceed to fly round and round bashing themselves on the glass until they are so knackered or concussed they drop down dead on the windowsills ... relieving their little yellow-filled bowels in their final stress filled death throes all over my nice clean white window frames.

I've taken to going round twice a day with my little hand-held GTECH hoover-y thing to suck up the bodies.  I'll need to have a mass cremation soon

That's what I need on each windowsill, a bored looking frog to sit and eat all the pesky little black visitors.

Ribbit ribbit  🐸

That's the end of May then!!

Sue xx

Saturday 30 May 2020

Only You ...

My heads not in a blogging place today

And I always find

When you have nothing to say

You should say



Friday 29 May 2020

Gardening ... and Challenging

This year I am mostly growing our food in the Net Tunnel.  

The first seedlings were of course started off in the polytunnel, where it's so much warmer and protected from all the elements and you can give everything an earlier start.  But the compost I had wasn't very good and it's basically been a really bad year for most of the things I have sown.

However not one to give up hope I have enriched the beds in the Net Tunnel with homemade compost and have now started to move everything over into the Net Tunnel.  The only things that will remain in the polytunnel will be the tomatoes and a small bed of Spinach and Kale.

It's always worth trying to have some spinach and kale in the polytunnel as they can quite easily completely over-Winter in there and bridge the hungry gap until next years plants are big enough to transplant and begin harvesting from ... but of course I'm hoping desperately that, that won't be by me  😁

In the picture from front to nearest to furthest we now have:

3 Potato Plants
1 Courgette
10 Spinach
2 Cucumber Plants
13 Kale
Small empty section.
1 Blueberry Bush

The other side of the Net Tunnel isn't quite as neat and as finished as the left-hand side yet as I still have just over half the centre bed left to weed.  But doing a bit each day before the heat drives me back into the house will mean that's it's done by the end of weekend ... nope, I'm not rushing  🤣

In the beds nearest to furthest there are up to now:

4 Potato Plants
A half-weeded bed
1 Blueberry Bush
5 Lavender Plants

In the bath in the centre of the tunnel I have lots of beetroots and a single Courgette plant.

Once I get too hot being outside I come in for my breakfast and yesterday I spent a couple of hours blog-hopping and reading through one of the first Challenges on my other blog.

I got a bit hooked and read the full months worth of posts. Twenty eight days of living on £1 a day, it took me right back as it was the first Challenge I did on my Challenging Myself blog.

It's here if you want a read too, sometimes it's nice to sit at the computer in a cool room and have a  read.  This link will take you to the first of the posts and then if you click on 'Newer Post' at the bottom of each post you will get them all in chronological order.

What inspired me to read a set of my own challenge posts?   

Well I got an email yesterday morning asking me if I wanted to sign up to this years Ration Challenge which is being held in September this year.  It's been slightly delayed because of Coronavirus, but it's also equally very important because of it.

I'm having a think about it anyway, of course I'll let you know and most likely blog about it again over on my other blog if I do decide to do it.

Sue xx

Thursday 28 May 2020

Yes, literally!!

While it's been so hot I've been out in the polytunnel first thing, when the heat gets too much in there I move over to the Net Tunnel and then on my way back to the house I stop and have a little swing to cool down and chill out for a while.  Then I come in for my breakfast.

That's the first couple of hours of the day sorted then.

Then it's a bit of housework and usually a bit of blog writing and blog hopping, over a nice cup of coffee.

That's the day, virtually every day, by the time this is done it's been too hot to do anything else other than the most basic of things ... quietly.  I have to do everything quietly as Alan is usually on conference, Skype or Zoom calls, or pondering his way over giant charts laid out on the bed, editing and revising ... and I have to keep out of the way.

I do keeping out of the way very well ... but it's bloody well annoying!!

It also seems the less I do the tireder I get, I need fresh sea air, a cool breeze to blow away the heat of the day and a change of location.

Roll on July and the possibility of the caravan park being re-opened, that's all that's keeping me going at the moment. 

Sue xx

Wednesday 27 May 2020

Bread, Crackers, Crisps

Thanks for all the lovely comments yesterday 😃

Someone asked me last night if I actually have a bread bin that I use for bread ...

... amazingly, yes I do 🤣 

And it even says bread on it, and it is just the right size to hold one loaf of bread, and when some of the bread has been eaten I can squeeze in a couple of bread rolls too.

I have been very impressed with the amount of bloggers and blog readers that are baking their own breads and sourdoughs at the moment, this lockdown seems to have turned so many of us into a country of bakers and cake makers.  

You can see from the photo at the top of today's post that I have not made a loaf for a long time !!

I put another order into Deliciously Ella the other day, while the offer for free postage and 10% off was in place again.  This time it was some more Peanut Butter flapjacks and some of the Cacao ones for me to try, as well as three boxes of the little crackers for dunking into my homemade hummus.

While I was in ordering mood I ordered a box of Ten Acre cheese and onion crisps off Amazon, it's the only way I can get hold of them at the moment.  One box of 18 bags does last me well over a month so I think I'm justified in my extravagance.  There are not many cheese and onion flavoured snacks without dairy in them in one form or another (for obvious reasons 😆) and it was always my favourite flavour.

Sue xx

Tuesday 26 May 2020

A Welsh Bread and Cheese Cupboard

I was asked about my 'jam cupboard' after yesterday post.  Well in the real world it's called a Welsh Bread and Cheese cupboard, if you look on Google Images you will see some very posh ones made of mahogany etc but mine is a more traditional Welsh cottage rustic styled one made from old pine.

I treated myself to it a couple of years ago when a local antique shop was closing down and selling off all his stock for half price.  Even at half price it was expensive ... well to me as a treat for myself it seemed expensive ... but as I had been tempted to buy it at full price, seeing it there at half price swung the decision and my card was whipped out of my purse before I could even say 'But what will I use it for?'

And as you saw on this photo the other week, it just fits into our conservatory so well.  

And as you saw on yesterdays photos I did find a good use for it as it holds all the jams and chutneys that I make as well as a multitude of other paraphernalia.  The lower cupboards hold my jam making pans, jelly bags, empty jars and bottles, and as well as the jams and chutneys on the top shelves there are tins and containers ready to spring into action when they are needed.

When we move this will be one of the few pieces of furniture that will be coming with us.

As well as a Bread and Cheese Cupboard that contains jam ...

I have a Flour Bin that contains the next five years worth of bargain gardening gloves waiting to be called into action.

Three Bread Bins that contain dog treats, biscuits and grooming aids.

And on the work top in the kitchen another Flour Bin that contains the dogs dried dog food.

So you can never dare to assume what you will find in any tin or bin in this house 😄

Sue xx

I found the post I did just after I bought this ... four years ago ... wow how time flies!!

Monday 25 May 2020

When in doubt make jam ...

I was rummaging in the big chest freezer in the workshop the other day and spotted a large plastic box of blackberries, picked from our hillside a couple of years ago by Alan.  The box was labelled 'For Wine Making' ... but as he's sold all his winemaking gear I thought  'I'm having those'.

I left them to thaw out overnight in the fridge, and then the next day I had them sat on top of the Aga still in their box for a couple of hours to warm up a bit and then I got them simmering away covered in water.  A few hours of dripping through a jelly bag and I had two pints of blackberry juice to make some Bramble jelly with.

Just the blackberry liquid and a bag of jam  sugar brought to the boil together and then boiled away for fifteen minutes, and I had six jars of Bramble Jelly.

To add to the rather large stash in the Jam Cupboard.

I'd forgotten all about this box of orange marmalade until I came across it when I was looking for empty jars.  Then I remembered making up all the tins of jam mix that I had had in the cupboards ready for moving house.  At this rate we'll have all the jam and marmalade eaten before we move house  🤣


Sue xx

Sunday 24 May 2020

A Bit of This, a Bit of That ...and Vouchers

The Lupins by the front door look magnificent.

I love Lupins, perhaps even more or at the very least as much as I love Lavender, Daisies and Foxgloves.  The sturdiness, their attractiveness to the bees that dive head first into each and every individual flower and the subtle but dense colour they all come in make my heart sing.

And the fact that they go from this to the top photo in a matter of days!!

Someone shared this photo on Facebook earlier, an antique radiator with it's own little warming cupboard.  How lovely to be able to fold up your PJs and have them toasty warm before bed on a Winter's night.  After a bit of searching on Google I found other ones similar and found out that it is in fact designed to be a bread warmer.

Ooh ... toasty buns and toasty PJs.

The vouchers on the right arrived yesterday and when I went to put them into my purse I found I hadn't even used the ones on the left ... which arrived I'm guessing 3 months ago.  It wasn't so long ago I was building Challenges around these.  I'm wondering if I should have a go again.  I've been racking my brains for a new Challenge, although this one wouldn't be any different would it, it would just be like a blast from the past.

I'll see.   

I'm a bit here, there and everywhere at the moment.  I think I have a touch of lockdown cabin fever ... which is never a good time to start something new!!

Sue xx

Saturday 23 May 2020

How to Win Your Own Cottage in Wales

How do you fancy winning this beautiful Welsh Cottage.  

Situated between the Llyn Peninsula and Snowdonia National Park it is less than an hours drive from our cottage and is in a beautiful part of North Wales.

Within easy reach of Snowdon and also the fantastic visitor attraction of Portmeirion it would make an ideal first or second home.  I know for sure I would rather be here full time than just using it for holidays, it's been renovated to a high standard and has everything that a couple or a small family could wish for.   And the welcome you would receive from the locals if you chose to be a full time resident would be amazing.

I checked out all the small print and the FAQs, and did a bit of research and this is a genuine competition complying with all competition laws and is being overseen by solicitors.  If by any chance the required number of tickets are not sold for the cottage to be won, they need to sell 80,000 tickets to make this viable and include the donation to charity that they are making, there will instead be a large cash prize almost equal to the amount of tickets being sold.  So it's much better odds than purchasing a lottery ticket!!

The tickets are £5 each ... I bought 4, well I thought why not, it really is worth a go  😃

So if you fancy a flutter, with the chance of a Welsh Cottage of your own at the end of it -

Good luck 🤞

Sue xx

Friday 22 May 2020

Lockdown Madness - Just Me x 7

It's rare for me to take a photo of myself, I'm not a 'selfie' type of girl.  But yesterday I took a photo of myself with my newly 'returned to natural colour' hair so I could see me as others see me.  Blonde with dark roots only works for so long and if I'd dyed it again the ends would have been in bad condition.  Usually by keeping my hair super short I can just lather on the dye whenever I want knowing the ends will be chopped off six weeks down the line and no damage will be done.  

Not for me the sitting in the hairdressers chair having my roots touched up, I couldn't stand the faff.  During these lockdown days I'm also glad that my home trimmed short cut nails are just the same and there are no fake eyelashes dropping off left right and centre.

I have online friends currently battling loss of Botox, fading eyebrows, nails growing out with the stick on thingies looking very weird ... and hair extensions going completely to pot.  And do you know some of them are starting to realise that the 'real' them is just as valid as the beautified version they used to show to the world.  Oh how much money they would save themselves if they didn't go running straight back for repair work when that finally is allowed.

Of course once I had a photo of me on my phone I started to play around on FaceApp and just look at the results.

Cool Old Me
Smiles Me
and Male Me.

Now Male Me will have my Mum in stitches, I look just like a younger version of my brother ... but with more hair!!

I also had a go at Hollywood Me and Cool Style Me.

It might be nice to be Hollywood Me for a while, but would lippy in the polytunnel impress the plants ... I don't think so.  Meanwhile Alan is quite enamoured at the Cool Style Me picture!!

I HATE having my photo taken, I'm okay if it's casual and happy but the minute someone says 'can I take your photo' I'm like a deer caught in the headlights, suddenly not knowing what to do with my mouth, my face, my arms etc etc.   I'll most likely be pictured on my funeral card thingy still hiding behind a cabbage!!

 So me putting this lot up shows a certain level of lockdown madness creeping in methinks!!

Sue xx

Thursday 21 May 2020

So We Both Had Some Lunch

Finally I have been able to uncover the beetroot seedlings.

Yesterday for the first time I took off the little propagator lids that I have been using to keep them warm in the Net tunnel, the wind can whistle through there sometimes, so it's always best to be a bit careful with tender young seedlings when they first leave the warmth of the polytunnel and move over to the Net tunnel.

I'm really glad that I have been reading here and there in blogland that other people are struggling with seedlings doing badly in compost this Spring, I was blaming myself and me possibly losing my 'green fingers'.   All my seedlings are less than half the size they usually are by this time of year, and that includes all the ones in the polytunnel who usually romp away in the balmy temperatures in there.

I'd just sat down to eat my lunch half an hour ago and Ginger brought me a present ... a mouse.  On it's last legs poor thing  so I had to shoo him away to finish it off on the patio.  Better to be killed quicker than rescued and left to die a slow death ... it almost put me off my lunch, but my tummy was grumbling so I managed.

Cats ... who'd have em!!

Sue xx

Wednesday 20 May 2020

Playing With Me Nuts ...

So ... we ate all the granola that I made last week, and I decided to make some muesli with the bag of muesli mix I found in the cupboard, to refill the now empty jar.  I didn't have any sultanas or raisins but I did spot some dried dates in the cupboard so I decided to use them.

I put handfuls of the nuts into a bowl first and then, for whatever reason ... boredom, interest in percentages in the mixed jar, general twiddling about ... I decided to sort out the various sorts of nuts.

It passed a rather uneventful five minutes of time.

I ended up with this little trio and a bowl of mixed nuts for the muesli.

The almonds went into the cupboard, I added the walnuts to a beetroot salad and the cashews were tipped into a big bag of salted peanuts, shook up and then added to Alan's nut jar.

So the other nuts with half of the muesli base and a big handful of the chopped dates, now chopped even smaller, made a good half jar of breakfasts for the next few days.

Alans only gripe was that the chopped nuts were still too big and there weren't enough of them, so I am going to whizz up the remaining almonds and try to find some more nuts in the cupboard to also whizz up, and add them to the jar.

SO ... when someone asks  'How did you spend your time during lockdown?'  

I can now say in a broad Mancunian accent ... I played with me nuts!!

Sue xx

Tuesday 19 May 2020

Loving Blog World at the Moment

I'm loving Blog World at the moment.

  Alan is away all week and seems to have taken the 'pot washing fairy' and the 'bed making fairy' away with him.  So as I stood washing the pots last night I was thinking about blogging and what a brilliant support network blogland is at the moment. 

We seem to be a band of mostly happy souls sorting out our lives, moving on, staying the same and all writing almost daily posts chatting away to each other about this and that and generally putting ourselves and the world to rights.  

I really do think we are keeping each other sane.

Yes, it's true the trolls, idiots, spambots, wankers and the tosspots of society try to spoil things in the comments sections every now and then ... but I think we are all coping.

Some blogs you visit and you know what to expect, a nice anecdotal read, an essay on day to day life with humour and occasional pathos thrown in for good measure.  Some are hard at work in gardens or on DIY (I applaud you), struggling with home-schooling and some are slowing down to a tv watching cosiness that is very comforting to read about.  Most are trying to keep a level of routine of sorts, and some are trying out new things and letting us know about successes and failures with great amusement on their part.  There are a few exercising away and walking as far as they can and generally keeping as fit as possible within the boundaries that we have all been set and some that have said 'bugger it, I've had enough'.

And I love reading each and every one.  

Me ... well I write about this and that almost daily, and have a lovely bunch of folk that comment and query and generally keep me on my toes either in the comments section or via email ... and I thank you all for the visits.  

One thing for sure though I'm never predictable, I think I bounce around from subject to subject in a way that is very organic and that amuses me when I look back over old posts, but it gets all those things that are trapped in my brain out there for the world to wonder at.

Sue xx

Monday 18 May 2020

Groundhog Wash Day

Even the dogs look as though they're saying  'you've already washed those Mum'.

I've been putting out the same washing every four days since lockdown began.  Four of my t-shirts and one of Alan's.   It's good that it's been that regular in some ways as it means we've had no rain and excellent drying conditions  ... but it's getting boring.  AND ... my clothes are starting to wear out.  The jeans were already old working jeans and  I've been living in them, well them and the other pair and the other stripey t-shirt that I'm wearing while these clothes dry in the sunshine.

It seems that I have turned  into a blue and whiter stripey lockdown prisoner.  

The only time I put on nice jeans has been when I've ventured out to the supermarket, and I think that's been four or five times since lockdown began, so they haven't need to be washed and are just hanging on the hook on my bedroom wall ready for the next shopping expedition.

Last night I went a bit mad and before I climbed into the bath I fed the jeans I had just taken off to the log burner.  Oh they lit the room up so well as they were engulfed in flames.  Ever the arsonist that's me  🔥

I have totally forgotten to unpack any Summer items up to now and have just been living in my Van uniform of stripey t-shirts.  I did have two lovely new t-shirts that Alan bought me for my birthday, well I bought them and explained away the extravagance by saying they were off him for my birthday, you know how it is ... but they are still hanging in the Van wardrobe unworn awaiting my return.

So today I am in my only other pair of 'scruffy lockdown work jeans' and I have decided to unpack my Summer things and go through them just like I went through the books last week asking the question  'Do I really want to keep this? '  It will be interesting to see if it changes the core of clothes that I have worn and packed away each year for the past few years.  Oh and while I'm doing that I will do the same for any thicker Winter jumpers that I pack away.

I promise not to set fire to anything I am no longer keeping though  😃

Sue xx

Saturday 16 May 2020

Life Will Break You

Ravenous Butterflies

“Life will break you. 

Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. 

You have to love. 

You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. 

And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. 

Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.”

Louise Erdrich - The Painted Drum


Friday 15 May 2020

Changing the Question ...

Anyone who reads or has read any of my blogs will know that for the past few years I have been on an ongoing decluttering journey.  I've sorted through clothes, books, furniture, kitchen stuff, and numerous areas of bitty bits, and I've always asked myself the question ...

 ' What can I get rid of that I either don't want or don't need any more? '.

At the end of last week I started looking through a few of my books in the same old way asking myself the same question, then I ground to a halt with the shelves just like this.  Over the past few days I looked at them every time I came into the living room and passed them every time I went into the bathroom and looked at them with unimpressed eyes, wondering why I had even started if I didn't have the heart to finish the job.

The job in question, was to only own enough non-cookery books to fill these shelves and the cupboard beneath.

And to only have on the built-in shelves any books that I couldn't make my mind up about so needed glancing through, or that were cook books, or were Alan's.

Yesterday I had a bit of an epiphany and changed the question to a much more simple one.

' What books do I really want to keep? '

Then I took all the books off the shelves and left them stacked on the floor overnight.  I removed all the ornamental bits and gave the shelves a really good clean.

It was somehow soothing to see the shelves like this during the evening, and it gave me the chance to get myself into gear for a big sort out today.

They are going to look a lot different in a couple of hours.

And the books will finally be done ... for the last time.

Sue xx

Thursday 14 May 2020

So We Had the Conversation ...

So we had the conversation ... you know the Lockdown Conversation that starts in our case with Alan saying, " If I work all day today and tomorrow I'll be able to take half of Friday off ".  I just looked at him and said firmly "Today is Thursday."

"No it isn't, it's Wednesday" he responded equally as firmly. 

"IT IS THURSDAY" I said so firmly I woke myself up even though it was only 8.30am 😄

So thank goodness I had the means to settle the argument ...

" Alexa what day is it? "

"It's Thursday the 14th May" she responded ...

And clutching his little Thermos cup of tea and a packet of chocolate digestive biscuits, Alan vanished swiftly upstairs to his office to do two days work, with a voice getting quieter as he climbed the stairs saying something about making his own lunch later when he could break off.

Looks like another day on my own then.

I have no plans I'm not one for too strict a routine, my day is built around cups of coffee and flapjacks at the moment.  

There will be a bit more weeding in the Net Tunnel at some point, most likely when it warms up a bit as there's been a ground frost overnight and that sun although it looks and feels deliciously warm through glass, is barely taking the edge off the chill in the air at the moment.

There's will be some blogging, some blog reading, some emails and well some other things, but first there will be coffee ... oh and flapjacks. 

One thing for sure there will be Clapping for the NHS, for delivery drivers, for shop staff of all descriptions for all the emergency services and for everyone that never had the chance to down tools in the wake of this dreadful Corona Virus ... including the man in the office upstairs who is still slightly convinced that it's Wednesday  🤣🤣

Sue xx