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

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.


Tuesday, May 21, 2019


The new car is doing very well. It drives nicely and I am getting used to the stop/start eco thingummyjig. BUT some nasty so and so has gone and scraped something along its whole length. Grrrr! Definitely not amused!

It is exam season and I am busy invigilating. This is needed to fill up a little bit of the gap left in the savings by the car, a two bar and roof rack bars, two crowns, one pair of specs for my husband and another pair of specs in the offing for me. My pay for invigilation will be a drop in the ocean, but every little helps : )

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Thursday, May 16, 2019

Car troubles

Our car has been going slowly downhill since Christmas but has given up its will to live totally in the last couple of weeks. We have spent some money on it this year but there comes a time when one has to say that enough has already been spent. We were able to borrow my daughter's car for a few days and went around frantically looking at cars.  We had just about decided on one when a friend reminded us about the clean air zone being introduced around here next January. And the car we liked was not considered "clean" enough even though it qualified for £20 road tax.

So we started looking all over again. I don't think that this here clean air zone has been thought through sufficiently and I already know of two small businesses that will have to close because of it. Taxis and big lorries will have to pay £100 unless they qualify. I also think that a lot of the small businesses in the city centre will be hit hard. But that is another story.

So we have looked at petrol cars. Can't really justify spending enough to get a late 2015 or newer diesel. We considered a hybrid but those are scary money and haven't been around long enough to know whether a second hand one is any good. We did discover that the life of the battery is expected to be 8-10 years but that a new battery costs around £7000. So back to petrol again.

So we have bought a petrol car this week which is a hatchback rather than another estate but has a reasonable size boot. The tax and insurance are the same as for our lovely big diesel estate. It was sooo comfortable to ride in and it will be sorely missed BUT I can parallel park the new car! Buying a car and spending that amount of money has been a stressful experience. Very stressful! And now we have something that goes so we can visit my mother-in-law again. Except that the only week that we can go, we can't find anybody to look after the animals. Hey ho...


Wednesday, April 03, 2019

After the visit

So we have been down to see my mother-in-law. It was a wonderfully sunny few days, more like summer than spring. Visiting the nursing home was quite harrowing and it was great to come back afterwards to a lovely cottage on a farm. It was a stone built outhouse that had been converted beautifully. It was with Airbnb and was actually cheaper than the nearest Travelodge. The lovely farmer's wife had left us tea, milk, homemade scones, jam and clotted cream for our arrival which was a great start. We have stayed at that Travelodge a couple of times before and the farm cottage was just soooooo much nicer in every way. And as I said, cheaper too : )


Sunday, March 24, 2019


My mother-in-law had a fall and has been in and out of hospital. It is her first real fall and she has done a thorough job of it. We've been down to the southwest to see her once and will be going down again soon.  It is a 200 mile drive (so 400 there and back) so it is not something you do in an afternoon. Add to that the fact that some days she is not up to visitors, and we  need to be there several days to make sure we can see her on a good day. It is a good thing that there are other family who live much nearer than us so she can have regular visitors.

The first visit was also our first experience of Airbnb. We stayed in a fabulous old cottage which was quirky and spanking clean and I would love to go back. The next time we will be staying in a small converted barn on a farm. If anyone wants to stay with Airbnb then get in touch and I'll recommend you because then you get £25 off your stay. I'll get some credit too but not as much as you. Worth having!