Friday, August 31, 2007

Go Babs Go!

Its been a busy week. Desperate to get my hair cut, was beginning to look like Farah fawcett, so popped down to the barbers. On my way home I spotted the blackberries. Masses of them, ripe for the picking. I raced home and with purple tub trug in hand, I headed back to my secret bramble spot.
I picked about 4 pounds and stewed them straight away. Only a few minor cuts and stings from the brambles and stinging nettles.

Next was the damson and apple harvest from Susie's house! Jason shook the tree whilst Susie and I gathered up the fall. Screams of 'ouch' and 'oh my god' as they fell to the ground, bounching off our heads! Hard hats needed next time. We left Susie's with 8 pounds of damsoms and a bag full of apples. They too, have been stewed and drained, and are waiting for jamming!

The home made jelly bag holder ;0)

On Wednesday we visited Ikea in bristol, which was ok. Not too busy and we were in and out in a couple of hours. We only went for candles and coat hangers. £200 later we left with an office chair, shoe rack, towel box, pegs, jars (lovely kilner type) and wooden boxes. We did get the candles and hangers as well!

Yesterday I decided to make a batch of mincemeat ready for Christmas. Got a recipe that didn't need suet, so I gave it a go.
After an eternity simmering away on the hob, I now have several jars and it tastes fantastic!

Here is one finished and ready to give as a Christmas pressie

At the moment, a couple of pints of blackberry juice are bubbling away, ready for bramble jelly.
Still have several pints of damson juice to cook, but will see how time is later. I bought 24 jars from Lakeland a few weeks ago, looks like i might need some more.

BIG NEWS - Babs laid her first egg since Easter!!! It was there this afternoon, small, dark and speckley! Def a Babs egg. What a clever girl! She has been ill a lot since easter and the vet said she would never lay again. :0)

Ended up visiting Annie down the road and popped in on Susie. Got home and i'm shattered. Was up at 5 this morning. Have done lots today, but still more to do. Feasted on vege burgers for dinner and off to have a bath now. Back at work tomorrow for 5 days - boo!

Speak soon

C x

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Back from 5 days at work and now have 6 days off! Yay! Summer has arrived! Got in at 3pm yesterday to find Babs in the run, panting, wings out as if she was too hot. Laverne and Shirley seemed ok. Put some ice cubes in their water and gave them some sweetcorn, which they ate greedily.

Jase has a Berlin and back today, so I decided to get up with him (yes, it is 5.15am), must be mad! Will let the girls out when it gets light and see how Babs is doing. If she isn't any better its off to the vets.

On a brighter note, my Brother has proposed to his Girlfriend!!!!

Congratulations Andy and Charlie!!! They want the wedding on the 17th May next year so I have time to lose 4 stone!

More later, when i'm awake.

C x

Just been out to let the girls out of their run. Babs is lying on the cool soil. She seems alert but not herself. I gave her some dried mealworms and pellets which she ate out of my hand. Worried about her now, but she is eating and drinking so not sure.
Just gonna have some breakfast then have another look at her. The vet has an open surgery this morning, so might take her along.

She seems ok again now. Not her usual self but she had some fresh spinach and a drink. She was covered in red mite powder, which I had put in the nesting box last night. She has obviously been sitting there this morning, which is strange as we don't think she has laid an egg since easter! They keep you on your toes these chickens!!

Back again!! I've painted the kitchen door (outside) so now covered in 'forest green' gloss. The girls have had their run cleaned out and turned round, so they are facing the house. All ready for winter (!).

The pumpkin plants have gone mad! 3 little pumpkins like little yellow golf balls! they are 'Jack be Little' so i guess they will be errr 'little'! The beetroot is massive and needs pulling, as do the sprouts but i was told to wait til after the 1st frosts as they taste better. Sweetcorn is doing well, as are the courgettes. The barlotta beans needed water desperately and i think its too late for them ;0(

Babs is wandering around all forlorn. She keeps digging holes then sitting in them. She is still eating and drinking so will keep an eye on her for the next couple of days. She looks like an old Dame, hobbling around.

Right need to get the paint off my keyboard now. Damn gloss!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Crouching Chicken, Hidden Pheasant

Got up reasonably early and went to the Farmers Market in town. Not much going on, but bought some rolls and a few plants for the (winter) window box outside the lounge window.

Mum and Dad came over for a bit in the afternoon.. She was looking out of the bedroom window and shouted 'One of the chickens is escaping'! I rushed to the window but it was a baby pheasant!!!!
(2 black chickens and a ginger one - the pheasant was cream/brown - bless my Mum) hehe.

I went out to the chicken area and saw it heading for the eglu run. Like a ninja chicken, Laverne pounced feet first, talons ready and landed on its back! The other two then proceeded to peck at it whilst laverne pinned it down. Poor thing. It made a dash for the fence but couldn't get out. I managed to get the girls in their run, and 'encouraged' the pheasant over the fence.

Later on, my friend Clare and her Dad popped in for tea and several scones. By 6pm it was looking dark and miserable, so we lit the fire and sat on the sofa watching tv.

This morning, i have cleaned out the girls and potted up some plants from the market. Laverne is looking decided scruffy/bald. Hopefully she will regrow new feathers before it gets really cold. I bought some red currants as my plant hasn't produced any fruit yet. Decided to pickle them, as they look gorgeous in jars. the vinegar/sugar/all spice berries and cloves are bubbling away on the hob as I type. Had a sniff of the pan and took the lining off my nose. Its potent stuff! Will let it cool then pour over the berries. Have run out of small kilner jars so jam jars will have to do.

Will post pics later.

Off to pack my case for work now, as back tomorrow. :0( 5 days at work then 6 off again. Will probably do overtime this week as would like a Kitchen aid mixer a la Nigella ;0))

As promised -

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Don't these people own Mirrors???

I woke up late today, about 10am, which is rare these days! Have had a raging headache all day, that Mr Lemsip and Miss Nurofen couldn't help with. Needed to go to the shops to get a few bits, so headed off down the lane. I guess the straw harvest is underway as the lane was covered. The blackberries and sloes are ripening up nicely though.

Somerfield was full of the usual suspects. Ready meals, fray bentos pies and cake laden trolleys. Not a vegetable in sight. Far too many overweight men in tight fitting 'vests'. Guts out for all to see. What is wrong with these people? I cover my tummy up in public (private too). Waitrose it certainly isn't. I asked for quail's eggs and got a look. I quickly headed for the tills and left.
Got home, checked on the girls, but no eggs! First time ever i think. Hope they are all ok. So no treats today, just their pellets. We will see if there are any tomorrow.

Decided to make damson and apple jelly, which took ages to boil. Like a glutton for punishment, not really, I then made 2 jars of tomato and chiili jam. In a fit of madness and seeing Jason's flight was delayed I whipped up some scones! Just call me Delia ;0)

Will bag up some scones for Clara and her Dad as they are visiting tomorrow.

Feel a bit better now. The fire is roaring in the lounge and i'm sat in the kitchen, with the stable door open. I love this house!! Its pitch black outside, no street lights and not a sound apart from the local owl hooting away in the distance.
Think I will have to try a scone. Well I can't give some away without sampling the goods!!

Friday, August 17, 2007

A Few of My favourite Things

Have felt like a badger with a sore head and achy joints for a few days now. Feels like flu without the snotty nose. Lemsip is my best friend at the moment. What a relief to get a message from work saying I have triggered an attendance review meeting. 10 days off in a year triggers a meeting to see if I can improve my attendance. Land the bloody planes without crippling the crew, will be my suggestion. Its sooo nice to know they care about me. T£@S3@s.

Spent the morning in the market Town of Marlborough. Pronounced MAWLBOROUGH, not like the ciggies, according to Susie ;0) Lovely little town, full to the brim of gorgeous shops. Managed to get away without spending too much, but did find an oldy-worldy garden sieve. I've been looking for one for ages, but now that I have it, it looks too nice to use!!

Got home at lunchtime and decided to make a list of household jobs that need doing.
1. Change bedding
2. Tidy kitchen
3. Ironing
4. Tidy lounge
5. Hoovering
6. Read this months Country Living.
7. Make apple and mint jelly
8. Put away white wash and hang up darks

I went straight to number 7 and here is the result -

I started with 3 small jars of delicious apple 'juice' that i had prepared a couple of days ago

Added the sugar, and a few sprigs of fresh mint from the garden, tied up in a muslin bag

After bubbling away for a while, i put some dried mint in the warm jars and then poured the sticky liquid over the top.
hey Presto! -

I only made a couple of jars, but will make Apple and damson jelly later, Chilli and tomato probably tomorrow.
Have to do more from the list, sure it will be number 6 ;0)

Got to go now as Mr lemsip is calling!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Off to Cornwall!

After helping Annie with some drilling and going over to Susie's to drop off a sander, we went home and started packing for Cornwall. 3 1/2 hours later we arrived at the hotel, exhausted. Popped into Pizza Hut across the road and had dinner, then headed for bed. After several hours in the stinking heat of the room, I woke up to find jason on the floor, trying to escape the blistering heat. The small fan on the TV did little to help.
We got up and headed for Eden. It was really well organised and we were straight in and wandering around.

The place is truly HUGE! We headed off to the meditteranean biome first and then to the tropical. It was roasting inside (no surprise) with enormous banana plants and palm trees. We stopped for a snack under the link bridge between the two biomes and i noticed the veg garden interplanted with flowers.

Then the heavens opened! It was that horrible drizzly rain and we were wearing shorts/tshirts, no jacket or umbrella. Very well organised! We wandered around the veg garden and the outside gardens before heading to the shop. My favourite bit. A couple of bags heavier and ££££ lighter we went back to the car and headed back. The room was still stifling so we decided to drive home.

We got home late ish last night and found the girls out, as next door had let them free range for the day. Pleased to see that Babs was ok, as have been really worried about her for the past few weeks. She still wobbles about, isn't that interested in food but seems ok for now.

I decided to make apple jelly today!!!! I cut up a 1/3 of the apples from Susie and boiled them up with some cinnamon. Using the Jam pan from Jennifer and Vari (last years Christmas pressie).

After rigging up a jelly bag, with some string and an upturned chair on the dining table, the juice is dripping out nicely. Resisting the urge to push it through (Jason keeps watching to make sure i don't). Will have to wait until tomorrow to make something scrumptious with it.
Fished out some of last years damson juice from the freezer, am thinking apple and damson jelly, apple and mint and maybe apple and rosemary? Not sure yet.

Bye for now and speak soon

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Down on the Farm

Had a much nicer day today. Let the girls out early and they raced to the corner of their outside run to get a wind fallen apple!
Mowed the lawn at the back and tidied up the kitchen. Mum and Dad came over as they are babysitting Ellis and Grace for the weekend. We went to Finkley Down Farm, just down the road.
Here are the two angels, sharing a tractor-

'No grace, thats the clutch'!

A Gorgeous Cow!!

I wanted to smuggle some of these home, but they wouldn't fit in my bag!

And one of these - she wobbled as she walked! SOOOO CUTE!

Grace was fascinated by the tractors and screamed the place down when she had to get off

And finally a donkey for Annie! :0)

Got home and Mum and Dad left with a bag of runner and french beans, some radishes (Dads favourite) and 6 eggs. Good day had by all!

Thought about making some apple jelly, but couldn't face chopping all the apples I got from Susie's garden. They are sitting in a huge bowl on the kitchen table, looking all 'Country Living' magazine photo shoot. Will prepare them when we are back from The Eden Project on Wednesday!!! Really excited now.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Bright Side of the Road

A year ago today, a Chinese American man aged 81, died on my flight from Amsterdam to London. He was travelling with 8 of his family. He had a heart attack and we tried to resusitate him, using CPR and the defibrillator. Unfortunately by the time the paramedics arrived and tried as well, he had died. I will never forget that day.

It is fitting that today was also Linda's Memorial.

After all singing Amazing Grace, the Vicar played one of Linda's favourite songs - 'Nothing Compares to You' by Prince.
Then Clara stood up and said a few words about her Mum. It was truly beautiful, I could feel the tears welling up inside me. How she managed to speak is beyond me. She is one very strong girl. Clara, if you are reading this, your Mum would be proud of you, as I am.
The Thanksgiving Service for the Life of Linda ended with Van Morrison's "The Bright Side of the Road'. Linda would be smiling.

Life changes, but some things remain constant. The seasons, blue skies, starry nights and my credit card statement will always be there. Family and friends will sometimes leave us.

Tonight i light a candle for Linda and the man whose name I do not know.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Oh no, not again!

Well, yesterday was my last day of my working block. Rome and back. Yuck, horrible long flight (2 hours)!!! We landed in Rome, well I say landed, we hit the runway with the force of an african elephant!! I hurt my back and the poor girl working with me hurt her neck. We managed to fly home, looking like cripples. The Captain didn't even ask how we were!!!! Poor Stephanie had to be picked up from the airport by her OH as she couldn't drive. I stopped twice on the way home to rest my back as sitting was agony!!! I have today off and am back to work on Tuesday. Not sure if i'll be able to go.

We had 2 tons of gravel delivered at 9 this morning. Have to put down weed suppressing membrane and then shift the gravel to make a path. Perfect timing. Think Jase will be doing that.

Off to try and clean the girls out now, A cube would be easier as less bending down. ;0)


The path is now finished!! Bless him, shifting 2 tons of gravel. I did bring him diet coke and make tea!!! I am so impressed with the end result, I think it looks really good.

We edged the path down the side of the outbuilding in old bricks, found in the paddock behind the house. Recycle! The possibilities are endless!

Friday, August 03, 2007

A Chicken Update.....

Babs spent the night in our bedroom in her own little box, egyptian cotton sheet and matching pillow case. She seemed better this morning, though still subdued. I put her back in the eglu with her friends at 4.30 this morning as I was leaving for work. She went straight into the run and sat down. Laverne stuck her head out as if to say 'have you any idea what time it is??? Its still dark'!!!! She saw Babs and went and sat beside her. They both fell asleep outside. I was nearly in tears (big softie me) as Laverne obviously knew that Babs was sick. I really didn't expect her to be with us when I got home this afternoon, but she was dust bathing when I got back!!!! 80)))))

I am just back from the vet who gave her an antibiotic jab and some tabs. He thinks she will be ok. I am soooo relieved. A little smile in an appauling week.

She has been moulting quite a lot, but is still Gorgeous!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

In memory of Linda

just got back from the worst trip I have ever done. Won't go into details, but people can be so horrible. I didn't sleep at all as I was worrying about the flight back to London. Needless to say it was fine and I headed off to the car park to drive home.

i got a text message from a good friend to say that her Mum had passed away on Tuesday after a long fight with cancer. Words cannot describe the emotions I am feeling at the moment. Linda was such a caring, kind and thoughtful person. She introduced me to roast potatoes cooked in goose fat and always saved some for me after their Sunday lunch. My thoughts are with her husband Robin, son Mark and her daughter Clara. If you need me Clara, just yell!

I got home to find Babs lying in the run. She isn't well. I managed to drip feed her some water which she drank greedily. She is currently in a box and will be spending the night in my bedroom. I think she has egg peritonitis again. To be honest I don't expect her to be with us tomorrow.

When all is said and done, life can be crappy at times. Some days it seems too much to cope with but we all just get on and do it. For all the people out there I care about, You are always in my thoughts. I am sorry if I'm not around at times, but I am grateful to you all for being in my life.

To Linda. C x x x x

Mistetoe and Wine............

Well i’ve had my 2 days off now and its back to work......... In Barcelona at the moment, sunny and 30C, Newcastle tomorrow night, probably not so sunny and -5C. Home by 6pm (i hope) on Thursday and back to the airport again at 6am for stand by duty on Friday! Can’t wait for my days off again. Pretty crappy roster for August to be honest, all work lumped together, but that does mean that my days off are lumped together too! Yippee!

Just had a call from Jason to say that he thinks Babs is broody again! :0( But he thinks she did lay an egg today! Not sure, will have to have a look when i get home on Thursday.

We went to Salisbury yesterday and I found a Lakeland shop!!!!!! Huge mistake going in there. Managed to get some jam jars and lids for the up and coming jamming season. Need to redesign the labels and hopefully i will be able to sell some this year! They went down very well at Christmas last year so we will see.
Lakeland is one of my favourite shops after The Garden Inn, in Stockbridge - you know the kind of shop that sells ‘lovely’ things at massively inflated prices. The sort of place that I would love to own, selling gorgeous craft bits, jams, chutneys and the like, beautifully designed and wrapped in metres of cellophane and raffia! I might even ask my artist friend Clare to design a logo for me. Clare if you are reading this, then have a think for me! You have all summer off ;0)

Walking round Salisbury yesterday, you do notice the types of people that places attract. Andover seems to drag people out, unwashed and screaming, whereas Salisbury had a much more refined air about it. Yes, the shops are a higher standard, couldn’t see a Lidl or Aldi for love nor money, but everyone seemed in less of a rush. The sun was shining so maybe that had an effect, but generally it was a pleasant experience! Definately on my list of Christmas shopping places. There i’ve said it! Christmas is on my mind already. Managed to pick up a few bits in Oil and Vinegar, and it has started the ball rolling.
I have never been one to go out on Christmas eve and blitz the shops, looking for pointless presents, panicking at the thought of the shops closing and me returning empty handed. Oh no, I normally start in earnest in September, picking up nick nacks and stashing them away. This job is fantastic at getting unusual things. It just means lugging them round Europe for a couple of days.

Jason prefers to shop online, but I love going out wrapped up warm and traipsing around every shop. The look of despair on the shop assistants face as Bing Crosby sings ‘White Chritmas’ for the 47th time that morning, the realisation that they have to endure it for another 7 weeks.
(have a confession to make - all this festive writing has made me play my Christmas collection on my lap top)!

Once the shopping is done, i set aside a night to do the wrapping. Last year Jason was away on a trip, so I put the Christmas mix on the ipod, gathered the parcel paper, raffia, baubles, cinnamon sticks, dried oranges, bells, pine cones, miles of magic tape, anything else remotely festive and began the mammoth task. In all honesty, it normally takes me about 8-10 hours to wrap everything, even down to the stamped, coloured-in parcel tags!!! It looks sooooo nice though. People don’t really appreciate the wrapping but to me that adds to the whole magic of Christmas.

Anyway I am all Christmassed (?) out now (that will never happen)!

So long for now

C x x x

i have just got home and managed to post this! No internet connection in the hotel!!!!