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

Monday, August 01, 2016

A new jam lover

I've made 20 lbs of gooseberry and elderflower jam over the weekend. Today I made 8 lbs of blackcurrant jam. At least I call it blackcurrant but the bushes are a cross between gooseberry and blackcurrant which produce large currants that taste exactly like a blackcurrant. I've forgotten the actual name of the bush. Maybe you could tell me?

After I had finished potting the jam, I went to sit down for a few minutes as my back was protesting. After a short while I became aware of a strange noise and went back to the kitchen to investigate. I found one of my young cats standing on the cooker enthusiastically washing the jam pan out with his rough little tongue.  He was really enjoying the jam : )

220 items gone


Sunday, July 31, 2016

Holiday time

We've been away on holiday. Yay! We've been to the same farm in Wales that we've been to before and this year, as last year, our oldest granddaughter came too. It was a lovely time and I really appreciated time out from all the responsibilities and jobs at home : )

The farm is a lovely place and there are ponies, horses, Welsh cobs, donkeys, goats, llamas, sheep of lots of different breeds, geese, ducks, hens, 5 dogs and a cat. Just lovely and I'm more than a bit envious.

We've come back to an enormous amount of weed on the allotment and loads of fruit that need processed now. So you can guess what I'll be doing all week : )

200 items gone


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


Blackberry and apple
Blackcurrant and rhubarb
Gooseberry and elderflower
Orange, lemon and ginger marmalade
Plum and vanilla
Rhubarb with a hint of ginger
Rhubarb and vanilla
Strawberry and Rhubarb


Pickled eggs

197 items gone


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.

191 items gone

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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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