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

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Who pinched my summer holiday?

I'm sure I'm only halfway through my holiday but the calendar says that it is the 1st of September today so that means I am back at work tomorrow : (

I love my job but actually I have a whole host of things that I still want to do before I am back at school. And I've run out of time. Again.  During the year, I look forward to this big long holiday in the summer (5 1/2 weeks this year).  I think about all the things I can do and about taking my time in doing them instead of rushing about trying forever to beat the clock.  Time takes on that childhood quality of seeming to last forever when I am thinking forward to that big, long holiday.  And then I get to the holiday and pfft, it is gone before I've hardly had time to realise that it has arrived.

So what have I achieved in 5 1/2 weeks? Well, there is that nice long list of jams and pickles.  And I've made 3 more:
  • raspberry plus jam (ie I didn't have enough raspberries so I added a little bit of rhubarb and a handful of blackberries. The predominant flavour is raspberry which is my husband's favourite.)
  • lavender and lemon chutney (haven't made this before but I like the sound of it)
  • last of the summer jam.  Jam, not wine...  This is made from a little bit of this and a little bit of that and a small handful of the other - blackberries, sloes, wild damsons (sieved to get the stones out), crab apples, quinces and a small number of windfall apples just to make sure that it set.  It did set well, and it has the most wonderful flavour which can never be repeated because I'll never have just that mix of fruit again.
And the little purple damsony type plums on our little tree are not ripe yet so there will be more.  After not getting my hands on any fruit to make jams or chutneys last year, this year is definitely one of bounty - and of lots of hampers of goodies being given at Christmas.

We did get away too.  Going away is always a problem as somebody has to feed the animals and let the hens out in the morning and shut them up at night because we get a large number of foxes through the garden.  However, my daughter and her family were going to stay at the farm where we often go in February half term.  Since we had never been in the summer, she suggested that we go down for a night and we would all just squash in somehow.  The journey is about 70 miles door to door so it is possible to go down early morning and come back after tea the next night and have two days out but only one night away.  Easy to get somebody to look after the animals for just one night and one morning?  NO!  My eldest daughter was away on holiday and so was my son and we were going to visit my other daughter so none of them could help.  The only person left was my friend down the road but she was going away the day we were coming back.  She could only help if she got a lift from somebody to get her to meet her coach for 6.30 am.  The only person we could find to do that was away on holiday and came back the night before... So my friend saw to the animals on the evening and got up really early to see to them the next morning and get back to her house in time for the other friend to pick them up to get them to the coach for 6.30am.  How convoluted is that! 

My granddaughter was helping with the animals at the farm and as there were no guests booked for the following week, the farmer offered to let my daughter and family stay another week if they covered the basic costs.  My granddaughter was thrilled (mega-understatement!!!) but my daughter had things booked and could not stay all week so we were called into service to granddaughter-sit for 3 nights which was not exactly a hardship : )  My granddaughter is a useful person and was actually of some help around the farm.  How many teenagers do you know who would voluntarily get up at 5am to help with feeding and mucking out? We did not see much of her but we had fun and she had fun too. I also brought home from the farm 4 bantam crosses.  My hens are not laying many eggs at all now because they are just too old so I'm hoping that these will help with that problem when they are a bit older.  They are currently 11 weeks old and will probably start laying about 18-20 weeks old.  They are black with that kind of iridescent greeniness that you get on magpies - pretty!

The following week we went to Plymouth to see my husband's family for 4 nights, which was lovely. On two of those nights, there was the firework competition up on the Hoe and that was marvellous.  We really enjoyed that and were delighted that the firm that won was the one we chose too.  We also enjoyed getting up on to the moor and just pottering around.  Considering that we were on the Plymouth side of Dartmoor, I was amazed that we saw so few people on some beautifully sunny days in August. 

This last week we decided that we needed one more trip out, so we went to Ryton Gardens, near Coventry, which is the home of Garden Organic.  We found some quiet little lanes afterwards where we could stop to have a quiet cuppa on the way home.  It was in those lanes that I got my blackberries, sloes, wild damsons and crab apples for the jam I mentioned above.  It was a good day and I shall remember it fondly when we eat some of that jam in the winter.

So those are some of the things that I have done this summer but there are an awful lot of jobs that I haven't done.  My vacuum has packed up and I went to the shop and can't decide what to buy.  Currys had vacuums ranging in price from £30 to £400+  How do you choose?  So I haven't cleaned my house within an inch of its life as I had intended but just done bits with a dustpan and brush to keep it ticking over.  The fridge is on its last legs but we didn't replace that.  We spent money replacing lots of little bits on the car but haven't yet managed to track down the remaining electrical fault on it.  We did however replace the television as it was ancient and the sound had finally packed up. Can you detect my husband's influence here? He could live without the vacuum etc but not without his tv : )  However, he did gird his loins (literally) and has tackled the blockage in the downpipe from the roof guttering.  He has tried before but this time he has succeeded and managed to remove a large amount of foul-smelling gunk.  In heavy rain, the blockage would mean that the water backed up the downpipe and sprayed out of the joint halfway up the wall.  When I say "sprayed" I mean that it came out with incredible force and hit the bay window 18 inches from the joint with such noise that it was impossible to carry on a conversation.  So that section of wall behind the downpipe is now damp and that is where we have bookshelves on the inside...

And as for the ironing pile (mountain), it has only been reduced to a large hill, whereas I had plans for it disappearing altogether.  And there were all the other jobs.  Ah well, there is always manaña ; )

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  • At 8:35 AM, Blogger Frugal Mum said…

    i constantly have a mountain of ironing,it just gets moved around the house and hid out of the way :)


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