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

Friday, November 25, 2016


I've been missing in action again. Life just seems to have got busy since I last posted. We have been away a couple of times for my husband's meetings too, which has been mostly good. His meetings are in Cambridge which is a lovely place and I really enjoy wandering round there. This last trip was a short one - just one overnight so one day to wander - but it poured with rain and I got tired of hiding in shops where I didn't want to buy anything. It didn't help that my husband's meeting overran by two hours. And then there were roadworks on the way home with long diversions and loads of spray from all the lorries. I've done very well with the weather on the trips where I have gone with him and I know that I can't win them all but I was glad when we finally reached home this time.

We've had another family get-together too. My husband's sister was over visiting from America and spent a long weekend with us. We haven't seen her for some years so it was really good to catch up. She had not met three of our grandchildren or their mother either, so we had a grand get-together on one of the days sil was here.

We also had a party at church for the 100th birthday of one of our members. It was a lunchtime party and we were involved in the catering. She really enjoyed her day and showed us all her card from the Queen. She was very musical and used to belong to a choir until she was well into her eighties and the current members of the choir came and sang some of her favourite pieces for her. My husband was detailed to make sandwiches and generally help out with preparing a buffet lunch. My job was to bake scones for 60 people which kept me out of mischief for the morning. This story has a sad ending because this good lady died three weeks after her birthday. She had enjoyed good health and did all her own shopping and cooking. She had decided that as a concession to reaching 100 that she would have a cleaner occasionally but it was not to be. She felt unwell, went to hospital and died there so at least she did not suffer.

Still on the subject of catering, my husband and I cooked a Christmassy dinner for 65 for our last church meeting of the year, last weekend. The church cooker has seen better days and has been used extensively and is now inclined to burn things so we went equipped with lots of tinfoil. There were very few leftovers and lots of people wanting seconds so we must have done something right! We managed to produce the three course meal for just over £2 a head but asked £3 from adults to cover the cost of the children's meals. We have also been asked to help with catering for a quiz this weekend but that will be a doddle as it is only for 30 people : )

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Birthday bash

In the last few days we have had my birthday and my son's too. So we got together at the weekend and had a family "do". There were only 14 of us as two people couldn't make it. I do enjoy it when the whole family get together. Once upon a time there were just two of us and now the family has grown. They all seem to enjoy getting together too, which makes me really happy.

We tend to go for simple meals because that means less time in the kitchen for those who are cooking. This time we had baked potato with cheese and baked beans and salad followed by an apple and blackberry crumble made in my biggest roasting tin and served with  ice cream or custard. It is not fancy food but everybody had something they liked eating and we all enjoyed the company : )

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Saturday, October 22, 2016

More jam

I've made some more jam. I got my hands on some sloes and wanted to do something other than sloe gin with them. There is a section of hedge along the perimeter of the allotments which catches the sun all day long and there was about a pound weight of big black golf balls (huge blackberries) just waiting to be picked. So I did. I added in some windfall apples  just to make sure it set. I've made jelly with sloes before but not jam. This jam has a wonderful flavour and I really like it. It is sharp in the way that marmalade is sharp but sweet at the same time. I cooked the sloes first and sieved them to remove the stones. I wondered if it would be too much of a faff but when I tasted the jam I decided it was definitely worthwhile.

So I have updated my Preserving Year post to include this jam. We have some grapes on our vine and they are nearly ready to pick to make some grape jelly. We don't always get enough grapes to be worth doing anything with them but this is a year when hopefully I will get about 5lbs of jelly.

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Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Scary story

This morning I did not feel at my best, so as I did not have to be anywhere, I stayed later in bed with my book. My husband was going to the allotment and was packing his stuff up to go and I carried on with my book.  Suddenly one of cats leapt on to my bed and plonked a rat on my lap. A live rat. It really made me jump! After freezing for a moment, I jumped out of bed and ran for the bathroom bin which I emptied on the floor and ran back to the bed and clapped the bin upside down on top of the rat - and held it there while I phoned for reinforcements. Fortunately my husband had not got very far and he came back and helped to capture it and took it up the far end of the garden. Hopefully it will die peacefully there, unmolested by cats. I am not keen on rats, to put it mildly, but after a fright like that, it probably won't survive.

My cat is probably feeling aggrieved that I didn't appreciate my nice present quite as much as he had expected : )


Monday, October 03, 2016

Lovely lunch

I've mentioned before that I had joined the Orchard programme at Tesco. Well the current activity is to do with pairing a nice meal with a good bottle of wine. They gave me a voucher which meant I got a substantial reduction on a lovely joint of pork. My husband cooked the meal and the pork was cooked to perfection with crispy crackling. We had roast potatoes (homegrown) and roast parsnips and onions and green beans (homegrown) with apple sauce (homegrown) and we had a bottle of Jacob's Creek chardonnay with it. Just beautiful!

The Orchard programmes would like me to review the activity, hence my post. I really enjoyed the meal and the chardonnay went really well with the meal Definitely a five star meal. Thank you Tesco! (and my husband for cooking such a good meal)


Saturday, October 01, 2016

Busy, busy

This has been such a busy month. My son has moved house and there was work to be done on the new house as nothing had been done for a long time - probably 30 years or so.  I also got to look after grandchildren a lot because it is much easier to pack up a house without them "helping". My husband seems to have spent every waking moment in the new house in the last month. Anyway, moving day was last weekend and the whole family turned out to help. We borrowed a (clean!) animal trailer from our farmer friend and moved all the furniture in that. And the smaller things went by car. This week we seem to have slept a lot...

We also had a short visit to Cambridge again as my husband had a meeting to go to. We have another coming up this month and another in November too. It is a lovely place and I enjoy pottering there.

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Monday, September 05, 2016

Disaster strikes

I had great plans for doing lots of things with homegrown tomatoes this year. I bought ten plants, because they were on offer and were advertised by Thompson & Morgan as being really prolific. I was given lots of plants and we also planted the first shoots to grow between the stem and the leaves and they all took and grew well.  All in all, I have 37 tomato plants. I thought it better to have them at the house rather than the allotment because it is easier to keep on top of the watering and feeding. It looks like a tomato jungle in my garden.

Or it did. I've got blight and had to pick the fruit there was and we'll have to burn the plants.

Total crop: 15.6 ozs cherry tomatoes from 37 plants. Gutted!

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