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

Saturday, September 14, 2019

More preserving

I picked another 4lbs of blackberries and made another 10lbs of blackberry and apple jam yesterday. That means that I can pop a jar into each family stocking at Christmas. And with stockings in mind, I made a batch of red pepper and chilli jam today. They all love chilli and they had some lovely big red peppers in Lidl today and it is another thing to fill up those stockings. I got the recipe on another blog here: 

A new thing that I am trying is strawberry soda. It seems to be a bit like elderflower champagne but made with strawberries. It is a sparkling fruit drink but non-alcoholic. It is bubbling away furiously in the kitchen so it is nearly ready to try. I am looking forward to that. I got the recipe from another blog here: 


Friday, August 23, 2019

My Preserving Year 2019

I was given a bucketful of plums so I have started on my preserving year - my record of what I made. I find this a useful memory jogger for me, especially if I forget/don't get around to labelling everything. Jars that are given away always have nice labels but stuff that is just for us may just get a piece of paper tucked in the box. And pieces of paper in this house seem to get up and walk away somehow... : ( Hence my list - it gives me a bit of a clue.


Blackberry and apple (21 lbs)


Red pepper and chilli jam


Strawberry soda


Wednesday, August 21, 2019


It was our wedding anniversary last Friday. We had managed to avoid all appointments/jobs/meetings etc so that we were both free for the day. We had planned to go out and have a picnic and go for a walk. But that was the day that the heavens opened and stayed open all day. The best laid plans of men, men and me : )

We decided to forget the picnic and have lunch at home and go out for a drive and end up at some hills not too far away. We were hoping that the rain might ease off for a few minutes. Well the rain did decrease from steady downpour to merely heavy rain for a bit so we got out of the car and ran from the car to the monument at the top of the hill and back again just so we could say that we had got out of the car. We did have fun and laughed at ourselves and came home again and made ourselves a nice dinner.


Saturday, August 17, 2019

Holiday -ish

We have been away for a week. The main purpose of the time away was to go and see my mother-in-law in the nursing home but we had managed to free up enough time to have a week away. We were hoping to go and see Mum several times but have enough time to have a couple of days for us. It turned out that mil was much happier than the last time we were down there. Her dementia is much worse and that means that she is much happier in herself and not worrying about the things that were not making sense to her as she was last time.. It was a much harder visit for us but good to see that she was much happier in herself and not really in pain any more.

We went with Airbnb again and stayed in a log cabin near the National Trust place, Lydford Gorge. We were on a farm and the place was really lovely. the owners were nice too and we could have chatted for ages but farmers are busy people. They left us a breakfast hamper which was lovely of them. A loaf of nice bread, a block of local butter, a bottle of local milk, a pot of really nice yoghurt, a canister of tea (tea, not tea bags), a canister of ground coffee and a cafetiere and a tin of one of the posher instant coffees.

The only problem we had with the cabin was that the nice lady had provided feather pillows and my husband is allergic to feathers...  She uses feather pillows in her own house but managed to come up with enough polyester stuffed cushions etc to do us the night and we went to Tesco the next day and bought pillows. The duvet was filled with local Devon wool, which was the first time I had come across a woollen duvet. It was much heavier than the polyester one we use at home but was lovely.

We have stayed in a different Airbnb place each time we have been down to the southwest to see mil. They have been lovely places and we have been very well treated and loved the experiences. Next time we go down, I expect we will be Airbnbing again.


Saturday, July 06, 2019


I've been watching Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's series on the tv. I had recorded it to watch when I had time. I do try to think a bit green when I can but I must try harder. I repair, reuse and recycle as much as I can but I am not very good at reducing yet.

I have been talking to a friend for a while about the amount of plastic I use to wrap stuff at the church coffee shop. For example, if I bake a Victoria sponge, I wrap each piece in cling film and then pop it in a freezer bag to store in the freezer. The cake keeps much better if it is double wrapped like that. I am not sure what I could use in place of the double wrapping of plastic. If they are smaller packs of cake wrapped in cling film, sometimes I can get two packs in the one freezer bag, which at least cuts out the use of one freezer bag.

At home, I am always reusing plastic tubs wherever I can. And I have been known to wash out freezer bags and reuse those too. But there are a huge number of things that I buy that come in plastic bottles - things like shampoo, deodorant, toilet cleaner, disinfectant etc etc. The moisturiser that I find suits me always came in a glass tub but last time I went to buy one, they had gone over to a plastic tub. Today, though, I found one little win. I was in Lidl and one of their weekend specials is passata - in a glass bottle with a metal lid. 700mls of nice passata for 49p. So that is an easily recyclable glass jar instead of a tetra pack that passata usually comes in. Nice one, Lidl.


Tuesday, July 02, 2019

Free day

Invigilating at school is over for another few months. The freezers at our church coffee shop are very depleted because I've been in school so much these last few weeks so my main job now is to cook and bake and fill those freezers back up so that we can have few days away over the summer.

Tomorrow is my first free day since half term and I am really looking forward to it. I have a load of jobs to do but they will still be there the day after so I might skive off and just enjoy my day of freedom : )

I've found lots more elderflowers so I have several bags of them in the freezer just waiting to be turned into elderflower cordial and elderflower champagne. I just love those and they are a real summer treat. I've been saving some squash bottles and some lemonade bottles to reuse. They may be plastic but at least they will have another use or two before they head to the recycling bin

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Days away

We have been back to Cambridge for three more days of meetings for my husband. Usually I really enjoy pottering around because it is such a lovely place. however this time I had hurt my ankle and by the time it had hung down in the car for the length of the journey there, I had a good sized pumpkin sitting between my leg and my foot. It had gone down a bit by the next morning but walking was somewhat painful so I didn't go very far. Or the next days either. I didn't even get to the river which is one of my favourite walks. Maybe next time....   and if I could work out what I have done to my ankle, I would try hard not to do it again!

However, we took some back roads on the way home, and on one totally deserted road, I found a patch of elder. So now I have a couple of nice fat bags of elderflower in the freezer waiting for me to find the time to make some elderflower cordial and elderflower champagne. I have been and bought some lemons so all I need now is that elusive commodity, time.