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

Friday, July 15, 2016

The Preserving Year

Or, to be more precise, my preserving year. I find it helpful to have a list of what I've made. Jams etc keep for longer than a year so if I make a slightly different list of preserves, then it gives us lots of variety during the year. Most of my preserving happens over the summer so a post in July seems appropriate and I can go back and edit in whatever new thing I've made. It also reminds me what I've made when it comes to making up hampers of goodies for Christmas.


Elderflower Champagne
Elderflower cordial


Strawberry and Rhubarb
Rhubarb with a hint of Ginger


Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Catch up

I haven't posted in a while.  This time, however, I have an excuse - I picked up an infection and have been rather poorly.  Health is one of those things which you don't always stop to appreciate until some bit of you stops functioning properly. I am so pleased to be back to normal now : ) 

I am so behind with everything.  I am thankful for a couple of dry days so that I can catch up with the washing.  I am pottering through lots of cleaning.  The kitchen looked like a bomb had hit it when I first ventured downstairs again and is slowly coming back to something resembling normality.  My new vacuum cleaner has been earning its keep. And while I was marooned upstairs, the new tv was in use too.

Being poorly also meant that the elderflower champagne did not all get drunk.  It is absolutely fabulous now and we really enjoyed a glass with dinner tonight. I've finished my lemon cordial and am now on the lookout for some bargain lemons. If you haven't tried making or drinking real elderflower champagne, I can recommend it. So easy to make and just fabulous to drink.

I have some new little hens now so my chickenopolis population has gone to 11 from 6. The new girls are young - too young to lay yet. Maybe there will be more eggs next month. The old girls are taking it in turn to lay so I'm looking forward to having lots of eggs. My farmer friend wanted some new girls too so we ordered them and shared the delivery costs. Doing it like that meant that we saved lots in diesel costs, which is A Good Thing.

194 items gone

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

This and that

We seem to have been doing lots of extra things recently and I haven't got around to blogging about them.  We have been looking after our youngest granddaughter as our dil has got a temporary job for this term. I really look forward to her coming and having a good excuse to play : )

One evening we went out to our friend's farm and helped with shearing the sheep. He only keeps eight ewes now and a ram so an evening was enough time. I'm sure the sheep were cold that first night but were pleased not to be wearing all that wool in those hot days last week.

I made lemonade (cordial) and elderflower champagne and posted the recipes for those.

My husband had a birthday and we had a bbq at my daughter's house as it was half term. That was fun. I do enjoy a family get-together.

We went away for three days. My husband had two days of meetings in Cambridge so I went too as it costs the same for a room and travel for two as for one.  It is a lovely place with so many really old colleges and churches. And I can't believe how many bikes there are in Cambridge. And I passed so many bike shops too. It is big business there for bikes.  The only problem was the humidity which made walking not as pleasant as it could have been. I love walking along the river and watching the rowers. There are so many pieces of green there which are not allowed to be built on and were covered with groups of young people chatting. this visit. Some are municipal parks now and some others are common land but it is so nice to see so much green inside a town.

My items gone total has crept up a little bit and I have another bag of things waiting to go.  It is much harder work this year and my natural inclination is to hold on to things "just in case". The trouble is that I find it hard to part with things especially when they have memories attached but still, some things have made it out the door even if I am way behind in my schedule.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Elderflower champagne

I managed to pick some elderflowers last week before the weather turned to rain. I've got some in the freezer to make gooseberry and elderflower jam and some to make elderflower cordial and I made some elderflower champagne with the rest. Lovely! And so easy, too. I use some Milton to sterilise the lemonade bottles before filling them.

Elderflower champagne

8 pints cold water

1 1/2 lbs sugar

1 lemon, sliced

3 tabsps cider vinegar

8 flowerheads

Put all ingredients in a large container and stir until sugar is dissolved.

Cover container to keep dust out.

Stir each day for a week or until there is a yeasty smell, when it is ready to drink.

Put in lemonade bottles and store in fridge.

184 items gone


Monday, June 06, 2016


I happened upon some yellowstickered lemons this week - 4 lemons in a pack for 8p : )
So I decided to make some lemonade. I haven't made any for years. I used to make it when the children were small if I found lemons on offer. The lemons this week were lovely plump ones and unwaxed too. I love this hot or cold. Today was a hot day and I had this cold but diluted with sparkling water rather than tap water. It definitely hit the spot this afternoon.

This is my recipe that I was given years ago. As I had 4 lemons, I made 80% of the quantity:


5 lemons
4 pints boiling water
3 lbs sugar
2 ozs citric acid

Grate the lemon rind into a large saucepan.
Cut off as much pith as possible from the lemons, cut them into quarters and blitz in the food processor.
Add blitzed lemon and the other ingredients to the saucepan and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
Leave to cool.
When cool, bottle and store in the fridge.

Lemonade is a slight misnomer as it needs to be diluted. If there is space in the freezer, you could always put the lemonade into small bottles and get one out of the freezer at a time. Or make a half quantity.

I find that 2 tablespoons is about right for a half pint mug of water and I like it both hot and cold. It is also nice diluted with sparkling water.

I'm not sure how long it will keep in the fridge as it is so long since I made it but it is at least 3 weeks. When the kids were all home, keeping it was not a problem!

181 items gone

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Monday, May 23, 2016

: )

A chap sitting near me today had this on the front of his t-shirt and it made me smile.

What do we want?

A cure for obesity.

When do we want it?

After dinner!

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Monday, May 16, 2016

A longer episode...

Since I wrote the last post, our (admittedly very elderly) tv in our bedroom has stopped working. My husband is usually very good at tinkering with things and persuading them to work again but he has failed dismally with this list of things. I foresee lots of money being spent. I NEED a vacuum cleaner.

165 items gone