Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Hallowe'en

Hello All.

Busy day today, by 10am i had visited a friend and had my hair cut. Jase is on his way home after not being used from stand by at the airport. Going to cook pork schnitzel, chips, brocolli and gravy for dinner and light a fire.

The girls are fine and i have had two eggs this morning from Laverne and Shirley. Babs probably won't lay again, the little freeloader! I spent a good hour taking the eglu apart and giving it a really good scrub for winter. Took the run apart and cleaned that too!
I had to leave it for 2 mins to answer the 'phone and when i came back there were several little muddy chicken footprints all over the base! Shirley always has to be where you are and get in the way, bless her! After a sprinkling of red mite powder (it smells lovely - i think i am becoming addicted) and the lid back on, Shirley ran inside and laid an egg. What a good girl!

Will be carving a little pumpkin later and need to get a few treats incase the girls from down the lane come around this evening.
More on Hallowe'en -

'The term Halloween (and its alternative rendering Hallowe'en) is shortened from All-hallow-even, as it is the eve of "All Hallows' Day", also which is now known as All Saints' Day. It was a day of religious festivities in various northern European Pagan traditions'

The joys of Google!!

Back to work on the 11th of November so still have plenty of time off. Lucky really, as the job list is getting bigger by the day.

I decided not to bake two smaller Christmas cakes as the tins were £10 each and i was being mean. So at 9pm, I started cooking the big Nigella Christmas cake. Really easy and by 10 minutes past midnight (why don't i start these things at a reasonable time)? it came out of the oven smelling gorgeous. It's all wrapped up now, ready for decorating in a couple of months.

Here is a little Hallowe'en picture for you all. Chicken related, of course!!

Hope you all sleep well tonight, don't have nightmares. Whoooooooaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!

C x x

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Its Raining again.....

We went out for dinner last night to celebrate my Dad's 60th Birthday. Colleys in Reading.
(See )

Lovely restaurant and fantastic food. I had the spiced sweetcorn fritters and salsa to start, followed by tomato and red pepper soup (hate peppers, but the soup was lovely), roast beef with dauphinoise potatoes and then pear and sultana crumble with ginger ice cream and Somerset brie and crackers to finally tip me over the edge. The beef was too rare for me, I know its supposed to be, but this was still mooing. Still a very enjoyable dinner. Home late and straight to bed.

Jase left for work at 6.20 this morning and the weather is pants. Need to go to Waitrose as the fridge is bare. I mean really bare. Parmesan cheese and butter is all thats in there! Oh and courgettes for the girls. Can't face going out in the driving rain but am going to have to brave it. Heating is on and will build a fire later. Need to finish the tags for the Christmas puds and will probably have Bing Crosby album on whilst being creative.

Decided to bake a Christmas cake today but need 2 small cake tins, will mix up the fruit today and get the tins tomorrow. Nigella recipe so should be easy enough.

more later........

Right, I'm back. Been to Waitrose, £84 later...........Fridge is full again! Made some sloe gin as a pressie for someone, whilst eating a bag of peanut M&Ms (yes a big bag)!
Sloe gin is sooo easy! Take a jar/bottle, put sloes in (prick each sloe with a skewer) and cover with sugar.

Then top up with gin. Seal and shake the jar to mix the sugar. I leave it in the kitchen and give it a shake every few days. Leave for as long as you can. The longer the better.

I then managed to delete all my pictures from iphoto on my laptop! My friend Darren, the Mac guru, is working on it. So far we have downloaded the pics to my ipod (don't ask me its all waaaay over my head) so they are safe for now!

I have finally finished the Christmas puddings!!!!

They are wrapped, labelled and ready to go.

I continued wrapping to the dulcet tones of Bing Crosby and Dean Martin singing the Christmas collection. The mince meat jars are also done!!! I'm nearly there!

C x

Friday, October 26, 2007

Mr Moley

Hello All!

Back from my Aberdeen night stop and the crew bus was so late picking us up from the aircraft, we were too late to do the Manchester and back! So we were sent home. Shame. Hehe.
Home now and just given the girls their evening snack before bedtime. Picked some spinach for them and noticed a bloody mole hill in the middle of the raised bed!!! The whole veg garden is covered in weed suppressing membrane, so the sneaky burrowing bugger must have planned his resurface very carefully!

Fire is stacked and ready to light. Chilli and chips for dinner. No vegetables, unless chips count? Lazy dinner tonight. Lovely.

Jase is busy with my new guillotine, cutting things to size and laminating. He's happy, so will let him get on with it. I have to make the labels for the Christmas puddings and the mincemeat jars, so will be reclaiming my guillotine soon.
My friend Andrew managed to get some more fabric from Copenhagen for me, so I now have enough to make all my jam lid toppers, ready for Christmas.

The temperature is dropping rapidly now as the sun is going down. Time to crank the heating up.

Looking forward to Gardeners World tonight. Is that sad? Don't care, I like it.

Going to Annie's tomorrow to get some donkey manure for the raised beds, will take Jason's car I think. Hopefully the smell will put Mr Mole off and force him somewhere else!

I have 15 days off now and can't wait! Lots to do, as always, time for a list I think.

C x

Monday, October 22, 2007

Dressing Gown Gardener

Woke up early again today, without setting the alarm. Thats a worry. I could happily sleep until 10.30 unless woken. Decided to get up and crack straight on. Still too dark to let the hens out, so had a leisurely breakfast and several cups of tea. When the sun came up over the long field, I dashed across the garden to let them out. Started pulling up a few weeds for them to munch on and ended up weeding most of the veggie plot in my dressing gown and green crocs. Neighbours know I'm mad, so not too worried. Later I went into town to post a parcel, visited the kitchen shop (lovely bits and pieces) and then headed home.

Gave the girls some corn for breakfast as it was freezing, something to warm their little tummies. The new plants in the garden didn't suffer from the frost last night!!

Only of the newly planted beds -

A friend popped over for coffee, then i set about wrapping the Christmas puddings and mince meat jars! Just need to print the labels and then i'm done! Will post pictures soon.

Did some potting up and planted out the window boxes for some winter colour. Cyclamen look lovely but frost hardy they are not! Managed to get some heucheras from the farmer's market and they look really good. She assured me they can tolerate temperatures down to -20. Judging by the north wind that is blowing at the moment, we will get to test her promise!

Had dinner and blitzed the house quickly, The cobwebs are starting to drive me mad! They are everywhere. Not good for Jase as he hates spiders. At least it saves him going to a shrink for therapy. Just spend a few hours in this house and your phobia is cured.

Heading for bed in a bit as have to be up at 4am tomorrow. 4 flights, finishing at 6.15 tomorrow night. That should really do my back some good. Bag is packed, nurofen at the ready, lemsip and lip balm as its cold season! Once tomorrow is over I only have 3 more days until i'm off for a while!!!!!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Farmers Market

Got up stupidly early this morning. Pitch black outside and freezing cold again. Made Jase a cuppa to take to work and then got ready to go out. The local farmers market is only on once a month and, with work, I'm not always around. I like to pop along if i'm off. After scraping the windscreen again (ok, i used chemicals) i sped off down the lane. Nobody was out. The roads empty. Bliss.

The market was small but had more than enough temptation, now the garden needs plants. The cake/jam/chutney stall was paid a visit too. And the hog roast stall. Lovely pork, stuffing and crackling. I did opt for the wholemeal roll just to be healthier. Hehe. I left the market with several plants, cakes, no money and a stone weight gain.
Also managed to get a couple of Christmas presents. Think i will try and get the word Christmas into every post i make before the 25th December. That'll drive you all mad! ;0)

Still haven't wrapped the puds, so will definately do that tomorrow!

Right off to bed now as i'm falling asleep writing this, you probably are too! ;0)

Speak soon

C x

Just checked the weather station in the kitchen (no, i'm not Michael Fish) and its 0 degrees C. The bloody weather forecast was wrong this evening and my plants aren't covered in fleece! Will check out the damage tomorrow! Bugger.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Officially Christmas Season?

Hello All! Sorry, have been at work for a few days and finally finished yesterday after an Athens and back. The day started with a severe frost and me desperately tried to find the de-icer. Don't get me wrong, chemicals are a bad thing, but at 4.55 in the morning when i'm freezing cold, hacked off that i'm going to Athens and just want to be snuggled up under the duvet, chemicals are the only thing that gets the screen clear quickly. Driving down country lanes with a 3cm gap at the bottom of the screen is a less than ideal start to a 60 mile journey. I have enough trouble dodging rabbits and mice!

The flight was fine and much quicker than normal. The Copenhagen trip was lovely and a guy on my crew, Philip, showed me a wonderful shop that i will definately go back to!! It took me ages to get home, as the traffic was pants, but when i came through the door, the fire was roaring. Nice to be home.

Woke up early this morning and we headed straight out to get some birthday presents for people. Went into Boots and Christmas has finally arrived in the town centre! Big news, the Boots Christmas catalogue is out!!!! I was so excited as this is normally the catalyst to my festive gene going into overdrive. I really have to get organised. Starting to panic slightly now. Ridiculous I know, but my November roster came out last night and before you know it, Christmas is here biting you on the bum!
Popped in on Mum and Dad and left with several carrier bags full of plants from their garden. Just finished planting them out now.

Jase is off to work tomorrow and i need to get the house organised and tidy things up. The Christmas puddings are still sat on the dining table waiting to be wrapped. Have the cellophane, tissue paper and Festive bits, but haven't the energy to sort them out. Will do this week.

Off to feast on veggie burgers now, the chips that i thought were in the freezer have vanished so will make do with the (slightly) healthier option of onion rings!

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Borders!

Been busy for the past few days and aching too much to write. The main part of the garden borders are now finally done! YAY!

We went to a couple of garden centres and bought a few plants, but need loads more. The garden is at least taking shape now. We put an arch over the brick path and planted 2 climbing roses next to it. Should look good by next summer.

The lawn is the next huge job as it is mainly weeds. Tempted to get a mini digger, rip out the whole lot and start again, but Jase would probably take out all the fences in the process!! Patience, weed, feed and moss killer will have to do.

Was up at 4.15 this morning, first day back to work. Madrid and back. Vile passengers. Not a smile out of 174 of them. I know its early but come on. I'm stood there smiling (well kind of, more like a grimace), wiping sleep out of my eyes and they just walk past you, not saying a word. Ramming you with their oversized 'carry on' bags! Asking for help lifting them in the overhead lockers. I don't think so. My back isn't fit enough for me, let alone you!

Got home to find Jase cooking dinner. Bless him. Just packed my bags for my 3 day trip tomorrow. Off to Duesseldorf for the night, then Copenhagen overnight Wed/Thurs. Haven't been to Copenhagen for ages. Looking forward to it.
Need to do some serious Christmas shopping, so think that'll be the place.

Today is International Blog Action Day - Topic - The Environment.

If we all do our bit, maybe the world would be a better place to live in.

We recycle paper, card, magazines, plastic, tins and cans etc
Glass to bottle banks
Use our own bags when food shopping.
Energy saving light bulbs, where possible
Compost religiously (i am a bit of a compost freak)
Grow our own veg (am planning to do more in terms of quantity)!
Keep chickens (hardly an effort, they are adorable)
Cavity wall insulation installed
Loft insulation
Double glazed windows
Water butts (still need to fit more though)

A pretty good list and hardly any effort required. Shame my job has me pumping CO2 into the atmosphere but if i could pay the mortgage making jams, jellies and Christmas puds, I would do!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire

Freezing cold again this morning and the fog was rolling in as i let the girls out. Another Laverne egg!! I was so excited. She is a good girl!

Managed to get loads of house work done AND bake some scones, Proper Delia I am!! The sock mountain has finally been conquered! 27 pairs all drying nicely! No wonder i was down to Christmas present socks.

Decided to finally bake the Christmas puddings today, Wish I hadn't! The first batch went in at 10am, came out at 3.30pm. Still waiting on the second batch to cook. They are larger, but will hopefully be cooked by midnight!!!!

All laid out like cookery school

All mixed up and ready to go

Little bundles of Christmas Joy!!! Hehe

'White Christmas' by Dean Martin playing in the background, the smell of mixed all spice and cinnamon lingering in the air, as the puddings steamed. Lovely!

I have been topping up the water every hour since 10am. Not feeling quite so festive now!!

Jase is finally coming home after an epic day! The fire is roaring!! Just missing the chestnuts.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Its Taking Shape

When we moved into this house, there was a large lawned area at the back. I needed space for the chickens and a separate vegetable area. So when the fence man came, we decided to use the old willow fence to split the garden in two. When it was done, Jase was horrified, as the 'new' back garden looked really small. Having finally completed the veg garden and chicken area, it was time to do something with the rest.

Yesterday was the day.

With pick axe thingy in hand, i ploughed my way through the appauling lawn, digging out weeds and clumps of grass. Trying not to get more soil under my nails. After several 'butch' and back breaking hours, I realised i hadn't eaten (first time in years that has happended)!!

The garden before work began.

Luckily it wasn't hot yesterday and I managed to dig most of the grass out. Next was a trip to the paddock behind the house, to get some old bricks (the owner did give permission). After 3 wheel barrow loads of bricks, 4 of old grass roots and weeds, 2 blisters, several ciggies and cans of diet coke, interruption from Laverne and Shirley who both laid eggs, this was the finished design!!

The soil is fantastic, good enough to make Alan Titshmarsh weak at the knees. The small brick 'path' took ages to get right, and i need to find an arch to go over it now. Will take more pictures when it stops raining!

Sorry about the picture quality but it was dark when I finally finished! I say finished, but as you can see from the top picture, i still have to cut out and 'line' the area where the hose pipe is. Its pouring down here today, so will stay in and be creative with Christmas puddings i think. Don't think my back could take it today anyway. Hot water bottle on it as i type.

So, back to good news! Laverne laid a proper egg yesterday!! She is still moulting slightly, but looks lovely with her new beetle black feathers!! I have just been out to see them and they are not impressed with the rain. They were all huddled up in the eglu. Bless. Will give them a bowl of warming porridge later.

Jase has just left for work. 3 day trip for him, so i will see him again on Thursday night. Will hopefully get the office sorted and make the Chritmas puds whilst he is away. If my back holds out. More nurofen i think.

Speak to you all soon

C x x

My back is holding up, nothing to do with the cocktail of drugs and hot water bottle strapped to my backside!
So, i decided to start on this years Christmas pudding! As it was so successful last year, i am using the same recipe, but tweaking it from the original. It calls for the fruit to be soaked in stout for 30 mins. I soak for 24 hours and double the alcohol, but use cointreau, brandy and drambuie instead! I can't be doing with mean recipes, calling for a 'splash' of alcohol.

Gorgeous Nigella bowl!!!!

The rain has finally stopped and I could see Babs sitting on top of the run, looking over the fence. Waiting for treats. Could just imagine her saying 'he's boiling the kettle and.........yes!..........He has the blue treat bowl out........chopping courgettes now. Yay, sweetcorn too'!

Wellies on and a mad splash across the garden with treat bowls in hand.

Munching like they have never eaten before!

Shirley gets her own bowl, as she won't share!!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Oh My Back! (Again)

Well, its 6am, been up since 5.15 and waved Jason down the drive.
Pitch black outside and just the hooting of the owl to disturb my writing!

I started digging up the lawn yesterday to try and design the back 'cottage style' garden. Boy, am I feeling it today!
My back has been dodgy since I hurt it on a flight in December. I haven't had any more physio for a few months but think I need to go back to her.

I'm not back to work until 16th October, so that gives me a few days to recover, but still have 3/4 of the garden to dig.

Jase decided to make scones yesterday. He remembered the sultanas, this time, but forgot the put any butter in the mixture! They are like rock cakes, but nice enough with butter on top. Just had 2 for breakfast! A delicious healthy snack to start the day! (well I needed to eat to take pain killers, so the scones are medicinal really. Ok! I had three and two cups of tea)!

Not too much to do today (yea right), so will go and get ready.

C x

Friday, October 05, 2007


Got up today at 5.15am as Jase was off to work early. Thought i'd make use of the extra hours so did washing, tidying etc. Popped into Town for food shopping, the latest magazines and to get petrol. Was delighted to find this years 'Christmas Magazine' already available. 2,000 ways to make this Christmas the best ever!! Shame I might be working!
The shop staff were busily stacking shelves with wrapping paper, cards, decs and chocolates. Was tempted to buy an advent calendar, but Jase says i'm 33 and they are for children. Spoil sport. (Seen a lovely Lindt one, will get it soon)!

Town was full of old people dressed in shorts. Its OCTOBER. It was 4.4 degrees this morning when Jase left the house. Mind you, the washing is out on the line and drying nicely!

On my way back to the car, trolley full to the brim, i bumped into a guy dressed as Batman and a girl with huge butterfly wings and a wand. I thought it best not to ask.

I am a great believer in lists. Nothing more fulfilling than crossing things off at the end of the day.

*Make Christmas puddings
*Damson and apple jam
*Mow lawn
*Tidy office (still haven't even started since May 06)!
*Clean out girls ready for winter
*Start searching for Christmas pressies
*Contact lens appointment
*Dig over and completely remodel garden
*Lose 2 stone before Christmas
*Stop making unachievable lists

There feel better now. Now, where do I start. Chocolate cake and a cuppa I think.

The sun is shining, so i'm going to chill out in the garden, read this months "practical Poultry' and listen to Laverne aka 'the singing chicken'. She has been very vocal for the past couple of days. She was always the noisiest of the 3, but recently she has started 'singing' for want of a better word. Lovely sound. Content and happy hens!

Ok, well the grass is cut and magazine read. Kitchen is tidy and Jase is on his way home. Expecting lows of 4 degrees C tonight so will build the fire for a nice evening in.

heard screaming coming from the chicken area earlier. Rushed over to find a dead field mouse in Shirley's mouth!! She was trying to eat it and run from the others. Honking as she went. Down in one. Quite horrific. At least we don't need a cat now.

Got to go as 'lookout' Babs is sitting on top on the run, waiting for their afternoon treats. Think Shirley has had enough for one day.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Nice in Nice?

I woke up at 5am yesterday and dragged my sorry butt out of bed. It was pitch black outside, which is something I am still getting used to, living in the country. At my old house, there were always street lights and light pollution from the nearby Town. Here it is total darkness unless the moon is out.

I got ready and, with mug of tea in hand, (those travel mugs for the car are a fab invention) wrapped up in a fleece, i headed for the car. Traffic was murder! I made it to work with 15 mins to spare. Not long enough. I like to chill out with a tea and ciggie before i head off to the briefing room.

Lovely crew. I knew everyone which is rare. Shame the Purser had a fetish for carrying a tray at all times. “I can’t stand to see crew with handfuls of rubbish in the cabin, use a tray” Get a life more like.

The flight was bumpy but ok, the walk through the terminal wasn’t. 30 minute walk to get to the crew bus!!!!!! Madrid is not my favourite place in the world, but we went out for tapas and a bit of shopping.

Wake up was at 03.45 this morning. No, that isn’t a typo. 03.45!!!!!!!! Flew back to London and am now in Nice for the night. Thats NICE not nice. It isn’t nice. The people are vile on the flight. All Brits with homes abroad, thinking they should be in Business class but won’t pay the fare. Asking for sandwiches with brown bread not white. This isn’t a restaurant, its a plane!!!!!!
Holidaying with the children they never see at home, unable to control them without a nanny. The Parents haven’t got a clue. Its quite sad really.

Passenger - "I can't eat chicken. I'm a vegetarian"
Me - "Would you like a vegetarian sandwich instead"?
Passenger - "Yes". No manners.
Me - "here you are, cheese and tomato'
Passenger - "I can't eat this it has onion in it, give me the chicken sandwich back"
So a vegetarian that eats chicken, but doesn't like onions. IF YOU ARE VEGETARIAN YOU DON'T EAT MEAT!!!

I can't help but roll my eyes. Little precious Princess.

My life is sooo glam. I spent Sunday painting the brickwork outside, in an attempt to stop the damp in the utility room. Trying to dodge the drips of noxious chemicals falling from the paint brush. Gave the house a quick blitz, filled up the girls food and water and packed my case for this trip. Its amazing how much crap I carry around Europe with me. But its nice to have your own things around you when you travel.

Went to bed at ten to Seven (pm) and dreamt of trays!

Beautiful weather here, sun is shining, birds singing and the traffic is loud outside my window. Just one flight home tomorrow then off to Brussels and back at 05.40am on Thursday. The main road to work is closed all night, so i will have to master the country lanes at 3 in the morning. Not renowned for my navigation skills. Will probably get to work around 10am!! Have 10 days off after that, so don't care.

Bye for now

C x