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

Thursday, March 02, 2023

MIA - again

 It has been such a long time since my last post. I didn't even manage a post at Christmas. Oh dear.

It was a very different Christmas to the one we had planned. We normally spend the day, after church, with one of our children and the grandchildren. This year  our son was having in-law to stays, our younger daughter was also having in-laws, so that left us with out elder daughter and her family. however on Christmas Eve she rang us to say that she had Covid. so we gatecrashed our younger daughter and her in-laws. It was a very nice day even if we were all a bit squashed.

Our littlest grandson was very upset (he is 4) at having his Christmas ruined by Mummy being ill as well as missing out on lots of presents. We planned to have Christmas 2 (as small grandson called it) on New Years Day. This time time it was us that spoilt the day for him as we were both down with a bug. So we had Christmas 3 on the last Saturday in January. My husband was well by then but I was not. I just can't get my energy levels back up and am still struggling now after two months although I am much improved in the last month. We had a bug, not Covid like our daughter, as the tests proved negative. My daughter is still struggling and in under two weeks will be officially classed as having long Covid, poor soul. She is hoping to start back to work part time before the end of March - but we will have to see how she is. At this point, she can manage to sit up for an hour and a half at a time and is wearing a neck brace to be able to do that. On Christmas 3, she and I sat on the sofa and let everybody else do the work and that was quite enough for both of us. Small grandson was happy though : )

I am still managing to go and bake and cook for the church coffeeshop once a week as there is currently no one else to help out. My husband comes and does all the washing up and clearing up and I do the baking. I do a bit and sit a bit and have been producing the minimum amount possible. I am really thankful that I managed to do some extra and put it in the freezer before Christmas. However the stocks in the freezer are getting really low so I could really do with some energy back. All energy producing suggestions will be gratefully received!

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Friday, November 18, 2022

Lentil Roast

 With the weekly shopping bill going up every week, it was lovely to be given a new economical recipe. And we both of us really liked it. This is remarkable because my husband is not the biggest fan of pulses. I don't know where the original recipe came from so I can't give credit where it is due because my friend gave it to me and she was given it by another friend who was given it by another friend etc etc. So I am sharing it with you. It is obviously an older recipe because it is in ounces but I am happy working in ounces : )

Lentil Roast

6 oz red lentils

2 onions finely chopped

2 tbsps oil

1 large tsp yeast extract

6 oz grated cheese

1/2 tsp mixed herbs

1/2 tsp celery salt

2 eggs, beaten

salt and pepper if liked

Cook lentils in just enough water to be absorbed for about 15 minutes.  Fry onion until soft. Add yeast extract and stir in well. Add the other ingredients, leaving eggs until last. stir well. Bake in a greased loaf tin for 40-50 minutes at 180/ 160 fan/ gas 4. If preferred this can be cooked 'flat' in a swiss roll or roasting tin which means it will take less time.

Friday, October 14, 2022

Autumn gone, winter coming

 It is definitely getting colder. Summer ended, autumn stuck its head in and disappeared as quickly as it came and now winter is upon us. We are wearing lots of extra layers when in the house and I find that a blanket over me when watching tv is just great. My husband is a Man. Apparently Men don't use blankets or hot water bottles to keep warm. Well, if I am cold, then I am very happy to use a blanket.

We are not going to the allotment so much. Maybe once a week now. We are still getting some crops from it though, which pleases me greatly. There are still a few courgettes coming, and the carrots are ready. After some pigeons ate the tops off all the peas and beans that we had planted, we planted some more French beans even though it was very late for doing so. We had the seeds so we thought it was worth a go. We have not had a marvellous crop but we have had beans for five dinners and will certainly have them for a few more so I am deeming that a success. We have got some potatoes left which are very small. All that hot weather and lack of rain over the summer have meant that all the potatoes are small but what they lack in size, they make up for in flavour. They are just lovely and as I don't tend to peel potatoes, the size is not such an issue. We also have onions and leeks there to be picked. And lots of spinach and kale still, too. We have to pay the fees to the allotment committee this month so it is nice to know that we still will have a few meals from the allotment before it is put to bed for the winter.

Has anyone tried Olio? I have been a member for a couple of years but have not had very much from other members mainly because nobody seemed to live near me and mostly it cost more in petrol to go and fetch something than it would have cost me to go and buy it new/fresh in the local supermarket. That is neither environmentally friendly nor purse friendly. However there are now a couple of Olio "heroes" (who go and fetch leftovers from supermarkets in the evenings) one of whom lives within walking distance of our house and the other one I visit lives around the corner from my daughter. Now getting things from them is both environmentally friendly AND purse friendly. Now I can think smugly that I am keeping food out of landfill while not costing the earth anything : )

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Wednesday, October 05, 2022


 I remember reading Jabberwocky at school. My teacher loved it but I was not quite so enthralled. Well, this last week, I have been jabbed  - both the flu jab and the covid booster jab. The last few days have not been fun. Neither of us did very well with the covid jab and my husband was taking the service at church as our minister was away on holiday. Poor soul came home from church, looked at a piece of toast and promptly went to sleep for the rest of the afternoon. And he slept for 11 hours that night too. We have both struggled with all the symptoms that we had when we had covid but got through them faster. Except for this dreadful fatigue that we have now. We didn't have as many problems as this when we had the other three covid vaccinations/boosters. Have any of you experienced more problems than usual?

We have just been to Cambridge for two days for my husband to go to a meeting. The weather was dry and mild so I was able to go pottering about very happily albeit not as far as I would have liked because we are still very tired. We got back late last night and of course, we had lots of things booked for today. So I am looking forward to being able to go to sleep tonight. Night, night : )

Wednesday, September 07, 2022


 I have been missing in action for ages. There has been so much happening and some things, like this blog, got pushed to the side. I have often thought about the blog because primarily, it is my diary, but I just did not have the energy left to play catch-up.

My mum-in-law died at the end of April and it was all a bit problematic getting the requisite certificates and arranging the funeral. She was in her nineties but will be remembered as a lovely lady who was very good to me especially when we were first married. She didn't live locally to us so we needed somewhere to stay. We could not find a B&B/hotel at a reasonable price so we rented a cottage for a week. This meant that we had a bit of time to ourselves after the funeral and could also see family that we had not seen since before lockdown other than at the funeral.

Then there was a time of unwellness. A time to be forgotten, not to be remembered. And then my husband had some meetings to go to where I was able to accompany him and go wandering while he worked. The first times we have been away since before lockdown, apart from the funeral, and they were much enjoyed even if I was on my own most of the time. 

We have been harvesting lots of produce from the allotment over the summer. We did not get any peas or beans because something came along and ate the plants when they were young. We went one day and found some rows of short stalks where there had been lovely plants on the previous visit. I suspect pigeons are the culprits. I have bought lots of netting and next year the peas and beans will be thoroughly covered in netting.

On the subject of growing things, Wilco have reduced their seeds so silly money - between 4p and 25p. If you have a Wilco near you then you will find the seeds in a box beside the tills rather than in their usual place in the store.

I usually write a preserving diary to remind myself what I have made each year. We have a bit of a backlog of uneaten jams, pickles and chutneys so I haven't made much this year. I usually put some jams or something into each Christmas stocking so I have done some fresh preserves:

  • Blackberry and apple jam
  • Last of the summer jelly (little bits of everything I could find but not much of anything - crab apples, a red apple, blackberries, sloes, medlars, elderberries, rowan berries, rose hips, plums and damsons. And it has a wonderful tangy flavour.)
  • Cucumber and onion pickle
  • I have picked some sloes so very soon there will be sloe jelly too.
My youngest grandchild started school yesterday and loved it. He was just a little bit excited - understatement of the year : )  He will be going to the before school and after school clubs to cope with the working hours of mum and dad. It will the same hours as he was used to at nursery so that won't be any different for him. Mum starts work and finishes work earlier than dad so dad will take him to school and mum will fetch him. He rang me up yesterday teatime to tell me all about it. Long may the excitement last!

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Happy Easter

 Happy Easter to everybody.

We have had a lovely day today. We had an early morning communion service at church followed by breakfast. Then we had a music rehearsal for the main service which was a really uplifting one.. We were on breakfast detail so we were down at church by 7.20 so that we could get breakfast prepared - cereal, toast, boiled eggs for Easter and croissants. And coffee from the coffeeshop coffee machine. 

Since we were involved in the music rehearsal, I had got a "volunteer" to finish clearing up as there just was not enough time to do it all. I had expected people to disappear fairly quickly after the main service since it was Easter and lots of people were seeing family - but everybody wanted to stay and chat and have more coffee. Then we went to a friend's house for lunch, which was lovely especially after the early start and a full morning. So we were treated to a lovely Easter lunch and then sat and had a nice chat afterwards. I really enjoyed that : )

So tomorrow, Easter Monday, will have a leisurely start and then we are off to youngest grandson's 4th birthday party. I expect that we will enjoy that but I predict that we will also be glad to come home and put our feet up afterwards : )

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Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Fun day out

 We have just dug out all of the sprouting broccoli plants at the allotment. I sat on our bench and went through all the plants and picked off all the remaining sprouting bits, even the absolutely miniscule ones. We have enough for two meals so I am pleased because looking at the plants, I did not think there were that many sprouts left. Hence clearing them to make way for something else to grow. I must say that the allotment looks really good at the moment. If you come back in about six weeks when the weeds are growing in overdrive, it certainly won't be looking so good. Weeding is my job and I have difficulty in keeping up with it.

Last autumn, for my birthday, our kids clubbed together and bought us a day out at the West Midland Safari Park. Our son took us and three grandchildren and we had a fabulous day out together. It is really expensive but you get a free return visit (but avoiding certain key dates). Last Thursday my husband and I went back for our return visit. It was not nearly as busy as on the previous visit and we got really close up to some of the animals. We also visited the parts that we had not managed to see last time. We saw lemurs, meercats, penguins, red pandas, African pygmy goats, umpteen types of deer/eland/gazelle, water buffalo, elephants, painted dogs, hippos, cheetahs, lions, white lions, two sorts of tigers, rhinos and lots of others as well. On the safari tour part, you drive your car around slowly in second gear and can stop and watch whatever interests you. We passed within ten foot of a pride of lions all lying down enjoying a patch of sunshine. We were about six foot from an adult rhino who was grazing right beside the road. On our last visit there were lots of giraffes but they were staying somewhere else while a new house was being built for them. I was looking forward to feeding the giraffes and was disappointed to have missed them. They have just built some lodges (with balconies on the first floor all of which have good views) where you can stay overnight right beside one of the animal areas eg rhinos. You get a two day pass to the safari park, including all the rides (which I didn't want to go near) and dinner and breakfast and an overnight in one of the lodges. The price for two people doing this is a mere £490. If you want to bring children, then they are £125 each extra. I am not sure we will be staying there anytime soon........... But I really really enjoyed my day out : )

                                            White lioness walking about 10 feet from the car.

                                            You can see how close the rhino is to the edge of the road.

                                            I thought this was a lovely group with the buck surrounded
                                            by his ladies and children.

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