This blog is mainly a rambling kind of diary of the transition from smallholderwannabe to smallholder.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Bank holiday weekend

We had a family picnic in a local park last Sunday. Happily, I was in the shade of a large tree because it was really hot. Being in the shade also meant I could have a really good cuddle with my new little grandson. It had been three weeks since I last saw him and he had changed so much in that time. I really enjoyed that ! : )

Then we went round the park for a walk around the "wildlife" section. Most of it was on a boardwalk to keep us out of the marsh - except for one stretch... And I was wearing my best sandals because I didn't have time to go home and change after church. Well, they will never be the same again : (      

They are slingbacks with a suede type insole which didn't like me having to walk through muddy water nearly up to my ankles. I gave them a good was in clean water when I got home but I don't think that the suede type insole appreciated my ministrations. Ah well...

My connections with the church coffee shop is ramping up by several notches. We are starting on next Tuesday, after the bank holiday, with a new regime. Our previous manager has left and we need to at least break even on costs. so I now get to do all the shopping as well as making the soup and doing most of the baking.  The newly revamped church kitchen is now six weeks behind schedule and baking is Extremely Difficult as is making soup.  It might be summer but we still have some customers who are soup diehards. I've bought some much smaller tubs so that the soup is frozen in smaller quantities in the hope of there being less waste. I am also doing all the baking at the moment because I can't ask others to work in the conditions under which I am producing goods. I have access to ingredients but I need to bring all equipment from home until the kitchen is finished. One of my helpful ladies is over 80 and bakes wonderful cakes but I can't ask her to carry all the equipment from home. There is also the problem that the kitchen need to be kept locked for health and safety and there are not many keys around.

On the subject of kitchen, don't get yours from Magnet! They will agree to anything to get your money out of your pocket. And nothing is their fault - they always have somebody else to blame.  It is not what I want from a company who now has so much of our money. You have to pay everything before they will deliver the units...

And so we come to bank holiday weekend. My bank holiday will be spent cooking in the coffeeshop. At least I will be able to use the coffeeshop and just trolley the things through to the cooker in the kitchen. I'm looking forward to not having to clean the kitchen before I can use it : )

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Saturday, April 28, 2018

Baby update

My new little grandson had a bit of a hiccup. The midwife did not like his breathing last weekend and so called an ambulance and rushed him into the children's hospital where he has spent five days this week. There were various possibilities for the problem with his breathing but they decided in the end that it was laryngomalacia - a floppy larynx. I've never come across this before but was much relieved to read an article about it which basically says that he will grow out of it although they will keep an eye on him to check that the problem is improving. He had to have a full anaesthetic and a camera put down his throat to see what was to be seen. While they were down there, they made several incisions in the larynx because while healing, the scar tissue will help to stiffen up the floppy larynx. Poor little mite!

Anyway, he is home again and has been out for his first shopping trip, although he didn't actually notice because he stayed asleep : )

I can't work out how to put a photo in here...  I guess that the photos are not in the right format but...


Saturday, April 21, 2018

Coming and going

I have a new grandson : )

Little Tim was born this week and weighed in at 7 lbs 12 ozs, exactly the weight his mother was. He is so very cute. We went over yesterday and I had a good cuddle for almost two hours. Just lovely!

This week we have also made a flying visit to Plymouth to attend the funeral of my husband's aunt. She was 87 and in poor health these days. She was a lovely lady and had an infectious chuckle and I'm sorry she is gone.


Monday, April 09, 2018

April now

Hope everyone had a happy Easter : )

Being in the music group at church, Easter is quite a busy week as well as being the culmination of the Christian year. I love Easter and celebrating with the rest of my church family. We have:
  • a service for the nursery school and other young children and shoppers on Wednesday.
  • a service for all the Baptist churches in the neighbourhood on Maundy Thursday.  It was our turn to host the service and provide the music this year.
  • an ecumenical service on Good Friday morning and it was our turn to lead the music. We always hold this service at our church but take turns in leading it. Then we walk in a procession of witness to the Anglican church up the road and hold a short service outside that church (it didn't rain this year) before going into their church hall for a drink and hot cross buns.
  • a service on Good Friday evening for just our church
  • Easter Sunday morning - an early morning service of celebration led by my husband and followed by breakfast (catered by me) and then followed by a music rehearsal.
  • Easter Sunday morning - the main service of celebration at the usual time. We all got given a cream egg and this was the one Easter egg I got (and ate) this year.
On Easter Monday we went out to our friend's farm and admired the lambs. They are so very cute when they are little and all wide eyed and innocent looking. And I love to see them doing that stiff legged bounce which they can only do when they are really little. We had a phone call this morning to say that they have had their first calf of the season  too.

Yesterday my husband had been invited to take the service in a church in a little town about 20 miles away. they invite him every year around Easter time. Afterwards we found a little country lane to stop in and we had a picnic. We had hoped to go for a walk but it started raining and we decided not to venture forth. It was fun to have the first picnic of the season though : )

We also went to the Countrywide store which is only about three miles from the church we went to. I am so sorry that they have gone into administration.  It costs £9.50 for a sack of branded hen food at the local feed store which is a ten mile round trip from our house. It costs £6 for sack of own brand at the Countrywide store but with a 40 mile round trip. So :
- 6 bags from the local feed store at £9.50 cost £57 plus 10 miles of diesel @17p per mile = £58.70
- 6 bags from Countrywide at £6 cost £36 plus 40 miles of diesel at 17p per mile = £42.80

You can see why I like Countrywide! And I usually buy 10 bags at a time if I can get there which maximises the savings too. I've always found the people there to be really friendly and helpful and I'm sorry that they will probably be out of a job soon.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Our Day Out

We had a lovely day out last Wednesday. We had been recruited to help our daughter and another teacher take their two classes of 8 to 9 year olds to Kenilworth Castle. The original keep was built in 1120 and various owners added bits over the next 500 years. It was fascinating to see the changing styles of architecture over the years and also to see which bits were decorative and which were for defence. Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, had built a grand house on the site and also a fabulous Great Hall, in hopes of persuading Elizabeth I to marry him. It didn't work! After the Civil War, 1642 - 1651, Several of the walls of the castle were knocked down to prevent the castle ever being used for defence again. We learned lots of history, had lots of fun and managed to come home with the same number of children as we started out with. The coach was awful - a mobile torture unit. It was an old coach that had been refitted to hold 70 small bodies and I do not qualify as a small body...  There was not enough knee room either and suffice to say that none of the adults enjoyed the journey there and back. But my, were we tired that evening!

And then the next day I managed to do something to my back and have been hobbling around ever since. I'm glad I did my back in after the day out and not before because I would have missed a grand day out : )


Monday, March 19, 2018

Mad March

It has been a mad March so far. We had snow and lots of things cancelled and difficulty getting to other things that were not cancelled.  The hens just didn't like all that cold white stuff and I'm not sure I did either. the cats were not overly keen either and spent more time than usual in front of the fire. (So did I.)

Life had got frantic last week and this, with the normal load of meetings and busy-ness and rescheduled things from the snow time on top. We are having the kitchen at church redone from next Monday and so there will be no access to cooking facilities for the coffee shop for four weeks. So I've been cooking soup to get enough for the four weeks in the freezer. I've done that now so I'm on to making cakes. Four weeks' worth of cakes for a coffee shop is a lot of cake to be made! I'm glad I didn't have to bake all of them by myself : )

On Mothers' Day all the females in the family got together for a meal as a kind of not-baby-shower for my daughter whose first baby is due in four weeks. It was a really nice evening together. It was supposed to happen the weekend before but snow stopped play. It was quite fitting for it to happen on Mothers' day, though.

We've had a second lot of snow this month. On Friday afternoon my car thermometer said it was 16.5'C but on Saturday the temperature plummeted and the snow began. On Sunday, we awoke to four inches of snow and the temperature never rose above -3'C. That is a drop of 19.5'C in 48 hours. Brrr! I'm sure you have a similar story to tell.  I wore my hiking boots to church for the second time this month.

On Saturday, when the snow was just starting, we went to my son's for my Mothers' Day treat - brunch (French toast) with the grandchildren. That was lovely! Of course, the bread had been bought seriously yellowstickered by me earlier in the week and my hens laid the eggs. My son did the cooking and had produced some fruit compote to go with the French toast. That was a lovely treat and I enjoyed it far more than the more traditional bunch of flowers. And when I got home, my daughter had been round in my absence and planted up my planter at the front door with pansies. It was a lovely surprise but I don't think that the freshly planted pansies will survive the snow.

Today the work in the church kitchen is beginning and I had a day off from baking and cooking. I celebrated by going for a little walk and not doing anything much useful at all in the house. That is what a day off is for : )

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Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Feeding folk in February.

It is February now. I've made lots of soup and baked six cakes for our church coffee shop and iced two cakes. Our coffee shop manager usually does most of the baking but she was ill and you can't have a coffee shop without cake. So I got summoned. Last week I made five gallons of soup and made and iced two cakes and I was quite tired at the end of that day. This week my husband was free so I got him to come along and help with the chopping of the veg and washing up. I wasn't nearly so tired at the end of that session but my husband was : )

We've been having a really good go at clearing out things since Christmas. I've lost track of the exact numbers but several hundred things have gone - either to the charity shop, in the bin, been recycled, given to family or on Freecycle. It is a very good start but there is a long way to go yet.

For the last few years, our church has been helping Operation Christmas Child. One of our members used to work for them and we have been a collecting point for our area for people to bring their filled shoeboxes to. This year, however, the charity has put up the money that you have to include to help pay for shipping. Last year it went up from £2 to £3 and this year it has gone up to £5 per box. A lot of people at our church feel it is a worthwhile cause but that the charity is pricing itself out of the market. It can cost quite a lot to fill the shoebox and then another £5 on top now. I've always kept an eye out for bargains through the year, the same as I do for family and friends' birthday and Christmas presents so that the cost of filling the shoebox(es) was kept down. And I knitted the hat, scarf and mittens usually with wool bought in a charity shop. We also found out that the head of the charity is earning a six figure salary. Yes, he has a big job because the charity is international, but people who live on just a pension felt that perhaps some of their money might be going to help pay his big, fat salary......  So now we are looking round for another worthwhile charity that will use our collective talents.

I've been knitting hats since Christmas because we have a local charity that uses them. Lots of them are stripey because I have a really big bag of oddments. I like having some knitting in my hands when I am watching a film on the tv. And these colder evenings are great for sitting in front of the woodburner and watching a film with my knitting in my hands. I recorded a stack of films over the Christmas period and am working my way steadily through them.

I've had one of my cats at the vet this last week. One of the cats in the neighbourhood has been terrorising my two. One of my two is of a particularly nervous disposition and he is obsessively cleaning himself and pulling out fur. He has quite a few bald patches and the skin is practically licked off in those areas. So the vet has given him an injection and we have bought another cat flap which is activated by the chip in the cats' necks. So Nasty Cat can no longer come into our house when he wants to, as he was prone to do. I've even found him in my bedroom on the top floor! But what I really objected to was his habit of spraying in my house, particularly in the kitchen. I didn't like starting to do some cooking and finding that he had sprayed up my saucepan rack...... I'm sure you quite understand that! So we just have to convince my two that they are quite safe in our house because Nasty Cat can no longer come in.

I've been to babysit my two youngest grandchildren this evening. Their big brother was playing the cornet in his first concert this evening and mum and dad wanted to go and see/hear him. I am very pleased that some of my grandchildren are turning out musical. I do so enjoy singing and playing and I'm glad the tradition is being carried on : )

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