Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Bramble cottage update & more

Hello everyone!

Back after the Christmas break, but still off work.  The days are flying by and I have loads to do, but I need to learn and chill out sometimes.  Blogger are playing silly buggers and have done something to my blog, so the layout for me typing is all weird.  Apologies if this looks funny - we will see when I click 'publish'!  

Christmas was lovely. Time spent with my family, including a 5 and 9 year old, who were so excited!  Didn't have to worry about being off as my part time week started on the 25th December and I had a couple of leave days thrown in before for good measure.  I know I have Christmas off for the next 5 years now!!  

A friend popped over before Christmas with a present for me.  I unwrapped it, thinking it was an eco sex toy!  *don't look at me like that*  It is a pastry case maker! 

Start by putting your dough balls in the tin - 

Use said tool to smush the dough balls -
 et viola! Perfect cases for mince pies!!  A clever little thing, made of wood so double points from me! I do like wood.

I needed to go to the local garage and get my levels checked.  I wasn't quite sure what that meant, so just asked for a 'levels check' when I walked in.  He said "You've just moved down the Lane haven't you"?  It seems everyone knows everything around here.  "Pop back home and have a cuppa, come back in a hour".  So off I went.  Returned later to be told my oil was fine, antifreeze and washers topped up and everything in order. "No charge" he said.  I decided to bake some extra mince pies and gave the guys a couple of boxes, with some bottles of festive Stella Artois to wash them down with!

Onto the Bramble cottage update!

The kitchen is nearly done.  Just some tiling, new lights and painting and it should be finished.  Not quite sure when the tiling will be done as I haven't found tiles I like yet and funds are low due to Christmas splurging......but, the worktops are in and curtains made! 

That wall might be part tiled to prevent splashes from the hob, but haven't decided yet.  The wall will be painted 'box tree green' I think.

What do you mean I have a jar problem?
(the sad thing is, that is only a fraction of the jars I have).

...and the lovely solid chunk of oak is now fitted above Stanley the Rayburn!

I was very lucky this year!  Father Christmas brought me lots of lovely things, but more importantly, things I needed!  Take this rather smart 27" LED television for example!  Fits perfectly next to the fireplace and is simple enough for even me to use! 
Just the ugly 'black ash' shelving to burn, erm, replace and then the lounge is done! 

My little tree is still looking good on the coffee table.

The wind has picked up today and it is cold.  Will light the fire in a bit - have noticed the log pile dwindling rapidly, funny that.  

Now, the Bramble Cottage girls! 

Their run is up and erm, running!!  They moved in a few weeks ago and seem happy enough....

The mezzanine level that they weren't too sure about at first, but now are up and down the ladder all day! 

At vast expense, the fuse box was replaced with a proper RCD thingy-ma-bob, so I could finally get an outside plug!  The blue disc heats up slightly, to prevent the drinkers freezing in the winter.  The bricks are from my ugly storage heater in the lounge, so will hopefully keep both drinkers frost free!  

The girls are enjoying their run.  I am so pleased with it.  With a tub trug and rubber glove, I poo pick a couple of times a week and it is so easy to keep clean.  Looking out of my bedroom window today, I saw a fox in the paddock next door to my lane.  It was massive!  Pleased that the girls are safe, but there will not be any free ranging if I am not there.  

I now have the dilemma of what to do with the rest of the garden?....The cement mixer is not a permanent feature by the way....although there will be a log store against the fence behind it.  

I can probably get a couple of large raised beds in there, then put gravel in between.  You can't see it, but the oil tank for Stanley is on the left, with a huge wooden support for a clematis that I want to remove.  I will plant another one, but this is gigantic and hasn't been chopped back in years.  The wooden support is about 1/2 metre away from the boundary fence, so that wastes space.  I do need a productive veggie garden.  It is something that I couldn't live without.  Me pottering in the garden, hands covered in compost, whilst talking to the hens is something that makes me, me!  

Talking of things I would like, I have been in discussion with Mum & Dad about getting a dog.  I grew up with dogs and I would dearly love one, but work makes that tricky.  Mum & Dad haven't had a dog for a few years and would like another one, but they go away to their house in Germany every so often......the solution?  A DOG SHARE!!  *squeals with excitement* 

Dad isn't too keen, but will come round to the idea!  I have been looking at rescue centres locally, trying to find a one year old scruffy mutt for a few weeks.  I have researched insurance, costs, food etc and I can afford it.  The plan is to have the dog here when I am home and drop him/her off on my way to work where s/he will stay when I am away.  I will pick her/him up again on my way home....Seeing as I only work 14 days or so a month - many of those are very short days, it will work out well.  A friend dogs shares and the dogs soon get used to staying in two different homes.  

I am erring towards a Parsons Terrier - slightly taller than a Jack Russell terrier - I love their cute little faces & scrappy nature.  Look at that face! 

I mean, who could resist??

I am not rushing into anything (unlike normal)!   I have seriously thought about it for months and wanted to have a dog for years.  This is the only way I can do it.  I have spoken to Jase and he is happy to help out if I need it.  Friends down the road have also offered to help and one of my new neighbours have a new puppy which I have said I could look after if they are stuck.  I am sure they would return the favour!  Plus I had a couple attend a chicken course who run a pet companions service, just a couple of miles away if I ever need them.  The problem now is finding the right dog.  It can't be a puppy, as much as I would love one!  At least 9 months - 1 year old would be best.   

I watched The Edible Garden with Alys Fowler last year - she had a scruffy terrier called Isabelle, that would sit in her bike basket whilst she cycled to her allotment.  Jase has visions on me doing the same!!  It seems that most people in the village know me now, and know I have hens, so might as well live up to my slightly skewed reputation! Who cares?  I'm just me.  I could burst I am so excited about getting a dog.  

Ok, so this was supposed to be a mini update, but I have waffled on.  How unusual.  At least I haven't ranted this evening! 

If I don't speak to you before New Year, then I hope you all have a lovely time.  I plan to stay in with the fire, enough M&S snack goodies to feed a small family and watch dvd's! Bliss.  

I will leave you this evening with a picture of how my (little) *cough* fabric stash will look one day!

C x x x

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Has he been yet....?

Happy Christmas everyone!

I hope you all have a lovely day and Father Christmas brings you everything you wished for.

Am off until the 02nd January, so will update my blog soon!

Off to Family to stuff my face now!

C x x x

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

...and relax....


Right, 10 minutes to upload pictures and explain where I have been for the past couple of weeks! I seem to be stuck in a loop, where I sit down to update my blog and get sucked into the world of the internet, youtube videos, that are all linked and before you know it, you have lost 7 hours, your tea is frozen in the mug, (believe me, it does in this house) and you need to go and shave again....!

I always forget how manic things are at this time of year. Four Christmas fairs, coupled with moving house, builders in and work, have been driving me completely loopy. Loopier than usual.

Firstly, the fairs!

My little stocking & robin tree decs -

'Long sock' stockings were popular!

I sold so many hot water bottle covers!

I like adding little touches to my stall, like a wooden spoon in a mixing bowl with the mini cakes and filled stockings to show what Father Christmas might leave....

I did really well at the Weyhill Christmas fair this year. It makes all the hard work worth it. Old customers came back to see my wares and it was lovely to see them! One lady from Denmark bought so much from me! She even made me a felt heart to hang on my tree and fill with sweets! Will take a picture next time......

Work on Bramble cottage continues. It took Matt so long to dig out the area for the run, he worked so hard on it, but someone deemed it necessary to concrete in railway sleepers! They support trains for God's sake, you don't need concrete to support a bag of compost from the garden centre!!
You remember the garden as it was? Here well things have changed slightly -

and here -

I was sure I had taken a picture of the finished run, but can't find it now. It's dark, so will take one when I get a chance. The girls moved in with squeaks of excitement! It was so funny to watch. They are getting used to the ladder to take themselves off to bed, and only needed a bit of encouragement, with corn and a gentle shove to go up. It would appear that a couple of my hens suffer from vertigo.
As the eglus are on two levels (ground floor and mezzanine)!!, I asked matt to build a panel that slots in, so I can separate the runs for introductions. It works brilliantly! More pics to follow!

A neighbour saw the pile of sleepers in my parking space. She rolled down the window of her shiny black4x4 and I was greeted by peroxide blonde hair and ridiculously oversized sun glasses. "Those sleepers, I want them. I want raised beds for vegetables"!! She barked. Once the urge to say "I want, doesn't get" had passed, I explained that I hadn't decided what to do with them. She drove off leaving a cloud of dust in her wake and spewing gravel against my front door. Manners cost nothing. Another neighbour then knocked at my door and explained that a old lady down the lane was after some sleepers for her veggies as she had trouble bending down and wanted raised beds. "How much would you like for them, if you aren't keeping them"? £20, a hand shake and the deal was done. Nice.

The kitchen is 'work in progress' The base units are in, but still waiting for the worktops to be fitted. Matt had to move the electrics for the new hob & cooker. Chasing out walls, drilling and lifting floorboards....

It will be stunning, I keep telling myself!

A local company are making the worktops out of recycled floorboards. I have seen them and they will look amazing. Only slightly more expensive than standard Ikea block worktops, but they look old and more in keeping with the cottage. Need to make curtains to cover the front of the base units now.

The best news I have had all week is that Jase has found somewhere to live! We viewed a flat 2 weeks ago and they have now accepted his offer. Things tend to drag, but hopefully he will be in sometime in January! So pleased for him. I actually got a bit 'motional when he told me.

One thing I have learnt with old properties is that you cannot hang large pictures on the walls.....all my walls are 'out' so nothing hangs properly! I don't mind. Quirkiness is great. The freezing cold isn't. I am stunned at what a difference central heating makes to a house (obviously). With the Ecrap-omy 7 heating here, it is always cold. Time to move my bed into the kitchen to be next to Stanley the Rayburn. I have resorted to using a mini oil filled radiator in the spare room, as it is baltic in there. Polar bears have moved in. Can't wait for the real winter temperatures. At least I have lots of logs for the open fire.

The EDF saga continues. Another appointment missed and a £20 compensation cheque received so far. They will be here on the 15th December to remove my 'payment-dodging-chav' key meter. It is like an addiction, checking how much power I am using! Ooooh, 37p for the washing machine, the kettle costs 3p. I must get out more. At least when the other meter is fitted, I can't see how much I am using, The bill every month will be a shock.....The electrician will be here on Monday to install my new RCD consumer unit (fuse box to the layman, like me) & the outside plug for the hens' underfloor heating - joke.

6 large Christmas puddings made this week and many, many orders refused..... :0( I hate letting people down, but I can't make any more this year. Next year I will be more organised. I now have 13 puddings to deliver/drop off/post and that's me done! Had Bing's Christmas collection crooning away in the kitchen whilst I steamed the puds. Dead festive. So much so, that I bought a mini tree from the Fairground centre and walked it home, to a bemused look from drivers. Well, the tree is only 1.5ft tall. He looks great on my coffee table.
Next was the mantlepiece decs, only an oak beam inlaid into the brickwork, so after a few panel pins, dried orange slices, lights, floristry wire, hammered thumbs and lots of swearing, the lounge is decorated! Is 180 lights too many?? I won't look at the meter when the lights are on. Much.

Time to pack for work, wrap the last of the puddings and then chill out for the evening. I treated myself to The Polar Express dvd in the supermarket today. And a large bar of chocolate. *wishes there was a tiny font, so you couldn't read that last sentence*

Thanks again for all the positive vibes for the move. I'm settling in nicely now. Christmas is fast approaching...fa la la la laaa, la la la la......

C x x x

Friday, December 02, 2011


Evening All!

Sorry, been really busy with the house and Christmas fairs!

Kitchen is still a tip, chicken run looks amazing and I still have boxes everywhere.

Back to work in a day or two, but will upload pictures to my laptop now and try and get posting this week!


C x x x

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The tin has been opened

Evening everyone.

A busy week so far. Work got in the way for a few days, but have enjoyed my 2 days off. Waited in all day for EDF energy to come round and take out the awful key meter and replace it with a standard one. They didn't show up. All day listening for the door, unable to leave the house and for what?? The call centre staff were very apologetic. Not their fault, but honestly, now I have to make another appointment and stay in again. I hope they forget my first bill.

I took a few pictures of the garden and hens today. Work starts on the chicken run on Monday and I can't wait. The girls are all moulting now and have stopped laying for the winter. The past couple of days the temperature has really dropped and they have gone into winter mode. Eating more and sleeping lots!

A little picture of my garden gate (fascinating n'est Pas)??!

...and one of my tiny garden.

The walk in run will be at the end, where all the shrubs are. It should be just about the width of the garden, with a small lean to on the left. Proper roof and guttering, with an eglu on the ground outside and one on a table above it. Will be great when it is done as I won't have to worry about them when away.

The electrician has been and informed me I need a new fuse box with an RCD unit. All Greek to me, but it means that I can have an outside plug!! I need one desperately for the chickens. Not for their hairdryers, but for the new fandangled-electric-drinker-thingy that stops the water freezing. It is just a low voltage plastic disc, that the metal drinker sits on. The days of lighting a tea light in a jam jar won't work here at Bramble Cottage as I don't know the neighbours well enough to ask them to do it. When I am away it will make life so much easier.

I have now spent the evening talking to EDF energy. I should have stuck with Southern electric, but spookily enough, it is Southern electric that were supposed to take out the meter, even though my account is with EDF. I had no idea that electricity companies were so incestuous!! The lovely Melanie is going to call me back. I hope.

Fire is lit, Stanley is warming the kitchen and I have a few orange slices drying in the warming oven. The house smells like Christmas again.

I am doing a fair on Saturday. A local primary school, so have spent the day sorting out things for that. Need to bake lots of gingerbread men on Friday. They proved popular at the Michaelmas fair in September. Will be a challenge in the Rayburn.

Right, time to put the tin of Celebrations away. Stress with electricity companies forced me to open it. I think 15 Bounties, Milky ways and Galaxies will do for today. No will power. Shouldn't have bought them in the first place.


C x x x

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Introducing Bramble Cottage!

Hello everyone!

I am back! It has been a rough week and my back is knackered after moving. The day before we left Farm Cottage, we had water dripping through a light fitting in the ceiling! Emergency plumber called - a roof problem not a burst pipe! Luckily Rob our neighbour shimmied onto the roof like a nimble mountain goat and sorted out the problem.

Our buyer was on holiday until yesterday, so we moved everything out on completion date. I left the hens there for a couple of extra days, just to give myself a bit of time to settle here. Building on their walk in run will start on the 21st of November! So excited. It'll look fab and have a small lean to for me to store all their feed/bedding etc.

I got the keys for Bramble on Friday 28th at 11am. The removal company had moved everything in by 12 and then left with their cheque. Then followed 2-3 days of cleaning as the people had left the house filthy. They took lightbulbs, the fire grate, the door knocker and only left £5 on the awful electric key meter. They lied about the parking spaces, disputes with neighbours and barking dogs, not to mention cat hair in a sleeping-cat-sized mark on the bedroom carpet. That's right, they didn't even vacuum before they left. Peasants. I ripped the filthy bedroom carpet up within 2 hours of moving in. Mum took one look at the toilet seat and asked where the nearest Homebase was. I won't write about the state of the toilet seat. You might be eating.

It was an emotional time for Jase and I, but we will always be friends and there are no regrets. I have thoroughly enjoyed the past 7 years. Time to go our separate ways, but we will see each other I'm sure. I have been told my beef olive recipe is the best, not to mention my lasagne and chilli, so he will be a regular dinner guest at Bramble Cottage!

Right, now I need to explain a few things. The decor (although it is ok, just plain white), curtains and light fittings are NOT my choice. They will do until I get organised enough to replace everything. Just time and cash being the major stumbling blocks.

Anyway, onto the pictures as I know you are chomping at the bit!

The view from the gravel track -

The bush on the left of the door has been dug up. Mum and I have planted 100 daffodil bulbs along the length of the house.

My kitchen with Stanley the Rayburn!

And now - not much better -

The plan is to have a worktop over the washing machine with a hob and oven next to it. Stanley is still in the fireplace and is doing a lovely job at warming the house!

The lounge with widescreen telly (don't laugh)!

The wonderful little door hiding my stairs! I have always wanted that!

My bedroom -

and now -

The spare room or 'sewing corner' as it is now known. Complete with an ugly sink in each room. Handy though!

Just half of what I have for the craft fair this year.

I have a problem with crafting....

The little built in cupboards in the spare room.

The one of the left is called my BA cupboard. All my uniform and work related stuff fits in, so I can hide it all away!!

The conservatory is so full of junk that I can't take a picture. Once the kitchen floor has been tiled, the carpenter (the lovely Matt) will start work on the work tops and units. I need a hob and oven to use in the summer as Stanley the Rayburn kicks out too much heat to use all year round.

Having lived in the area for 5+ years, I have discovered a wondered shop. Well, it is actually a barn. They use old floorboards and reclaimed timber to make the most stunning furniture. Old dressers, tables, bookcases etc all made from floorboards, windows or any wood they can get their hands on. I have ordered antique reclaimed pine work tops that they are making out of wide floorboards! The guy that runs it also makes shelves, so I have ordered 2 oak shelves for the kitchen - one above the Rayburn and the other for storing my small *cough* collection of Le Parfait jars!

I went in this week to finalise my order and told the guy that although his furniture is amazing, he needs to 'dress' it. The bookcases need a few books, the dressers need a plant, tea cups and saucers and a few gingham hearts would add to the appeal. He has asked me to come back and help him style the showroom as he admitted he hasn't got a clue! *rolls up sleeves and gets the fabric ready* The fact that his Brother in law works for Laura Ashley and is recently single had nothing to do with me offering to help...............but think of the discount. *wink*

Oil was delivered last week, so I got on my tummy (not easy with my dodgy back) and tried to light the burner. Something I will not be doing often as it is such a faff. Once lit, Stanley - yes, he has a name thanks to Susie - is so hot. I have turned him down to number one, but even then the heat is quite something! It will take some getting used to, as cooking on a Rayburn is alien to me, but the roast potatoes I did yesterday were lovely!

Logs were delivered today and the lovely man knew that my back was playing up, so stacked all the wood for me! I didn't have any extra cash in the house, so I gave him a jar of jam, some limestone flour for his hens who are laying thin shelled eggs and 3 chocolate snowmen for his children!

Taking of snowmen, I hinted about them in a previous post! 32 made so far, each filled with a bar of Dairy milk. I hope they will be popular!

It is less than 2 weeks until I am doing the Appleshaw school fair and I have to learn how to bake in my new oven. Shouldn't be that difficult I hear you say! Well it is! The temperature gauge either says 0C or 260C so a bit of guess work is in order. And a new temperature gauge!

All in all, I have to say I LOVE IT HERE. The beams, the quirks, steps, walls that won't allow you to put up a shelf as they are so out, the dreadful economy 7 heating - all of it is fab! It will take some time for me to get it the way I would like it, but so far, very happy. Mum and Dad have been great, coming over all the time and helping. Jase and Dad cleaned out the gutters, as the plants growing in there were getting unruly! Friends have been dropping in and it is lovely.

To everyone on here and Facebook, that have sent me cards and wished me well, thank you! Sorry it has taken so long to write my blog, but in fairness BT only connected my broadband 2 days ago!

I am back to work on Tuesday, boo, but I have to pay the mortgage somehow.

Will write more soon.

C x x

Sunday, October 23, 2011

on the move.....


Moving date set for the 28th of October. Still waiting for work to give me the day off.......*rolls eyes*

Bramble Cottage will soon be mine. So excited, but a little bit scared and sad. The end of an era, but the start of something new. I hope I will be happy there.

Our buyer is going on holiday, so won't be moving in for a couple of weeks. I have decided to leave the hens here for a couple of extra days (cheeky, yes, but she won't know)!! At least then I have a few days to set up the run etc and to try and make the move as stress free for them as possible.

Thanks to everyone for their kind words and support over the past few months.

As soon as I can, I'll post pictures and update you all about my new home :0)

C x x

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Christmas Fair...

Just wanted to post a little reminder for anyone that might be local.......come along and say hello!. It is a lovely little fair and very festive! Parkers chocolate shop is well worth a visit and there are loads of usual present ideas in the various shops and stalls!

Mention my blog when you come and visit me and I might even drop a few extras in your bag! ;0)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Can you tell what it is yet?

Well, not a lot going on here. Frantic calls to Estate agents, that are not being returned. No news from Solicitors - apart from the fact that our buyer STILL hasn't received her mortgage offer. My sellers are now starting to panic, so hopefully between all of us things should start moving when we start hassling the solicitors again. It seems strange that there is no urgency, as the sooner we complete, the sooner all involved get paid. You would think they would want that asap........

Christmas season has hit the shops! Yay!! I love it! It started with this, tucked away on the bottom shelf of Co op -

I love the simple Scandi look and fancy this for my house -

(which ever house that may be! No, think positively Christian)!

It started me off on a rollercoaster of Christmas this week. Firstly, cute little felt stockings for the tree -

2 pieces of felt, a couple of buttons and a simple blanket stitch all the way around. I have made 10 so far, just sat watching tv of an evening.

With Christmas carols playing in the office, there was no stopping me. I started on a lovely idea I saw on a blog last year, but can't remember where. Jase managed to sort the printer out and I printed these off onto card stock.

With the addition of red fleece -

(The chocolate is part of the finished item, not just a mid craft snack for me)! I will show you next time what I created! Keep guessing!

I went to Quilter's Dream last week and came back with a good stash of Christmas fabric.

The plan is to make mini bunting for the mantle piece to sell at the fair in November. Couldn't resist the blue flowery fabric - will make shopping bags with that.

The red and white fabric is stunning, although very expensive. I love Tilda fabric and designs, but it is so pricey. This was the last piece they had, so I made a few stockings out of it - along with my gorgeous fabric from Copenhagen.

I sold quite a few traditional 'sock' stockings last year and must admit that I prefer them to the other kind. Something oldy worldy about them.

Elsbeth and Agnes are still laying. Pru was very vocal last week - as she is being now - and to my surprise she laid an egg! A long torpedo egg as we call it. Cornelia is still dropping feathers everywhere, but has started eating more and rushing to the mixed corn in the late afternoon. The weather is turning now and the trees have started to drop their leaves. Not long before we start with frost in the morning.....

I mentioned the berries at the side of the house. An overgrown something-or-other bush, can't remember the name. Well, this time last year it had loads of berries and I warned Jase that it meant a harsh winter. Look at it this year!

It is going to be bad, the bushes know! They are providing food for the birds. Trust me.

The veggie garden is past it now. I think the temperature must have dropped quite low the other night, as my beans and potato plants are no more. I did manage to dig up the last handful of carrots - a stump ended variety, that did very well this year.

The rest of the garden I will just leave now. It is all dying back and after the aggro that our buyer has put us through (whether intentional or not), I refuse to tidy things up for her. I might still plant up some strawberry runners if I get a chance though.

At the weekend, we went to Basingstoke's Haymarket Theatre, to see The Eva Cassidy Story. It was so sad....but brilliant done. During the interval, I nipped to the toilet and got carried away humming one of the songs. When I came out of the cubicle, there was a man there, lucky for me, I spotted a hearing aid, so didn't worry too much. As I washed my hands, he came over to me and said, 'You can carry a tune well' I was mortified.

Last day off today - back in for 4 days. Starting with a stand by at 7.40 tomorrow morning. Mad rush to get all the jobs done that I should have done all week. Washing, ironing, packing, hen cleaning (the coop, not the hens) and calling estate agents, solicitors and removal companies. It is exhausting this moving lark. At least the sun is out today. I am sure I will be in the new house by November. I bloody well hope so!

I have been asked to write a chicken keeping guide, so that is keeping me busy. Great, as I can work from home, it's just the timing that is causing me problems. I love writing and it is nice to have a project to work on, but right now I am up to my armpits in chaos. I will get it done, as there is no immediate deadline. Nice to drop in and out and update as and when I can. Still waiting for that elusive magazine article that I want to write. One day maybe.

Better dash, hens are a-calling....might mean some eggs for me!

C x x