Thursday, June 30, 2011

Leave is granted!!

Remember the sad little mange tout plants I rescued from Homebase a couple of months ago? They are doing well and have finally produce something worth eating. I reckon this lot would have cost more than the 98p the plants cost. And it is only the first picking!! Lots more flowers starting to open up and they didn't travel from Kenya either! Food yards, not food miles.

A little update on Simon the Squash. Yes, I have named him. Growing slowly, but as I have said before, cucurbits and I don't really get on. The cucumber plant Mum gave me has been attacked by slugs, my 3 courgette plants are looking tatty (Most annoying, when others post about their piles of courgettes and mine aren't even in flower), and the one pumpkin I planted in the compost heap has vanished.

I bought a couple of tiny Nasturtium seedlings from the garden centre a couple of months ago. 'Banana split' they were called. The plan was to make poor mans capers from the ripe seed pods. I had no idea it would spread like this!

You can see Mum's poorly Cue on the left hand side. Only a couple of leaves left.....

Seeing as the house is now on the market, I thought the patio bed could do with a tidy up. After I pulled out most of the weeds, it all looked a bit bare, so off to the garden centre I went (like I need an excuse). A couple of trays of dahlias and some bark, the bed looks much better. However, Earwigs love dahlias (as do slugs, but will come on to those slimy things later). I read about earwig pots, so decided to give it a go....

You do have to empty the pots every couple of days, but it is surprising how many you find.

I have buried jam jars in the soil and filled them with lager to entice the slugs. I refuse to use slug pellets as I don't want to hurt the resident hedgehog/wild birds. So far, the traps are working ok, but it is a vile job emptying them. Especially on a sunny day.

The garden is looking good, with the rose arch starting to come into flower.

...and poppies coming up everywhere in the front garden. No idea where they have come from, as I didn't plant them, but they are huge!

Earlier in the year we hacked away at the plum tree in the back garden. It was a mess and needed severe pruning. I didn't think we would get any fruit this year, but Mother Nature has been kind. Not as many as last year (thank goodness, as we had too much) but still a sizeable crop. More than enough for jars of plum jam and plums in syrup to add to crumbles in the winter.

My blueberry plant that I bought from a mail order catalogue a few years ago is really doing well. It is in a separate bed with ericaceous soil/compost and a few low growing cranberries. I keep it guarded by chicken wire and netting to stop the blackbirds eating their fill.

We had our first viewing yesterday. I sat in the garden reading whilst strangers walked around the house. Very odd feeling. No feedback as yet, but it just takes one person to love the house as much as we did.....time will tell.

Back to work tomorrow for a 3 day trip to Geneva and then Aberdeen. Managed to get leave for the 4th of July, just to wipe a God awful stand by from my roster. Also enquired about the 24th of September as I have been trying to get leave for that day for weeks. It is finally available, so I can definitely do the Michaelmas fair that weekend now! Excited or what!?!???!!! Panic mode will now set in, as I need to plan things to make for the fair.

As always I need ideas. Things that will sell well. Am doing jams and jellies as they usually do ok. Someone suggested kindle covers like the one I made for myself, but not sure? Ideas on a post card once again please readers....

Jase ordered some clothes for our holiday. They arrived in the post and I tried on a pair of his shorts. Size 32" waist and THEY ACTUALLY FITTED!!! I am not talking 'muffin top' either. Proper fitted. Sorry, sounding Welsh there, but they were a perfect fit. Have I mentioned they fitted properly?? I don't think I have been a 32" waist since I was 12. Needless to say, I was straight on t'interweb and ordered myself 2 pairs. Plus 3 polo shirts, in bright colours. Only a couple of weeks until Faro beckons. Can't wait.

We are getting one egg a day from Elsbeth. The others are on strike. Pru laid a soft shelled egg last week and was looking really bad. I thought we might lose her. Her knickers feathers were filthy, so I gave her a warm bath in a tub trug, then a set and blow dry. Still not happy. A dose of 'miracle vitamin drops' and she was right as rain. Still no eggs though. Agnes was broody for a couple of days, but has now snapped out of it. Cornelia thinks that as she is so pretty, she can lay when she feels like it. Looks like Waitrose might be getting my business soon.

Right then, time to clean out the hens, and get organised for work tomorrow.

C x x x

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Robinson's have nothing to fear...

Only a couple of days left until I am back at work, so time for a blog entry.

Been a strange week. Weather has been awful, torrential rain and wind hitting the house. The garden is looking lush now as the ground was parched, but thankfully it remained dry today for my Chicken keeping course.
Once tea and scones were finished and all chicken related chat exhausted (if that is possible)?? They left and I cracked on with the garden. The small bed outside the kitchen window needed sorting, so on with the kneeler pads, garden fork in hand and mustered the energy to get some weeding done. I planted several dahlias, seed grown mini sunflowers and zinnias. I am hoping the slugs don't find them. It will take a few weeks, but should be in full bloom by July hopefully.

You remember the tiny weedy mangetout plants I rescued from Homebase weeks ago? They are finally in flower! Absolutely stunning flowers, a lovely deep purple with lilac edge.

The pear tree is heavy with fruit and I will need extra support soon. The pears are only a couple of inches long, but already dragging the branches down. Looks like it will be a bumper year!

I picked the first of our strawberries this week. Only a handful but enough for breakfast with yoghurt. The plants are now growing everywhere and have taken over a corner of the veggie garden, but I don't mind. I can dig them up and pot them on when they have finished fruiting. You can never have too many strawberry plants.

The hanging baskets I planted up with petunias and tumbling tomatoes are doing well. One has been attacked by snails but is recovering slowly.

The currant bushes I planted along with the raspberry canes and now in fruit. Fruit can be singular or plural I suppose?! The fruit on my blackcurrant bush will not scare the Ribena industry.

That's it. Just a few. I think the wild birds have been at them. *Mental note to net the bushes in future*

Egg laying is still good, but the hens don't like the constant rain. You can hear them run for cover, boking away when the showers hit. The privet hedge provides them with plenty of cover and they spend most of their time digging around under the bushes, but when the rain is heavy, they head for the safety of the run.
I can never seem to get good pictures of the hens. They are as camera shy as I am.

Cornelia with her post broody bald tummy -

Elsbeth with that moody look of hers -

Now, when it comes to veg growing, I don't do too badly. Your basics, like courgettes, beans, spinach, potatoes, chard, tomatoes etc grow pretty well for me. In truth, even a badger with learning difficulties could grow runner beans, but you catch my drift. However, when it comes to pumpkins and squashes, I never seem to do well.
As soon as the sun comes out and the need for a fleece is a distant memory, I get the seed catalogues out. Cute little squashes and pumpkins stare up at me and i dream about harvesting hundreds of them and stacking them up in the shed for winter meals. In reality, I can't grow them. Sad, but true. Easy they are, apparently (without wanting to sound like Yoda).

I planted 8 'Sweet dumpling' seeds back in March. Nothing for weeks, so I left the pots outside as they were taking up valuable greenhouse space. Imagine my surprise when I discovered this little beauty yesterday!!

A lovely little plant only about an inch high, but a squash plant! Overjoyed, in my own sad little head. Simple things and all that!

The Estate agent came round on Friday to take pictures for the brochure. Felt a bit odd, well we both did, but it has to be done. The weather was awful, so he said could I take some outside pictures and send them to him when the weather was better?

This is my favourite picture. I have always liked the view from this corner of the garden, showing the brick work of the old part of the house against the new.

and this picture of the front garden, garage and outbuilding is nice -

Really pleased with the front garden, as it was all grass when we moved in. I put the path in along the outbuilding and garage and filled the beds. Hopefully, if the sweetpeas ever decide to grow, the hazel rods will be covered in blooms in time for viewings!

I think the house will go on the market tomorrow or Tuesday. Mixed emotions, but I am hoping that it sells quickly and for a decent price. I would like the new owner to look after Farm Cottage. Daft as it may sound. You all know I am a bit quirky and that comment just proves it!

C x x x

Sunday, June 12, 2011


It is bloody miserable outside and doing nothing to enhance my mood! The rain hasn't stopped all day. I know the garden needs it, as do my water butts, but why can't it rain all night and be sunny during the day? It doesn't feel like summer at all!

The hens haven't left the run all day, so I had to take their treat bowls in for them. Getting soaked myself in the process. They appreciated them though. 3 eggs so far, with Agnes on the nest when I went out. Maybe a full house today then?

I have my part time week now - not back until the 22nd........loads to do though with absolutely no motivation to do any of it! Not feeling down, just lack of energy, which the weather isn't helping with.

Visited my nephew for his Birthday and took over his presents. He is happy as he got a Play Station 3 (?? Possibly, not really sure) for his own room!! Not bad for a 9 year old. Wide screen telly and everything!

Lost another pound this week, but discovered an Easter egg hidden in the fridge, so surprised I lost anything. Not really eating chocolate at all, which is a shock to my system. Couldn't go a day without it before. I still have it hidden around the house, but not too fussed at the moment.

Freezing cold sat here at 5 in the afternoon. Got the hot water bottle out and as I'm not planning on leaving the house until summer reappears, I got into my pj's at 4pm. How decadent. Hardly! Veg prepped for dinner, stir fry with loads of garlic as I feel my body needs the antioxidants today. Blueberries and yoghurt for breakfast, so not doing badly. Apart from the chocolate Birthday cake I ate earlier. Fire is ready to light and a selection of dvds to watch later.

In other news, I have made an offer on the cottage, which has been rejected. I will offer more, but will bide my time. It has been on the market for a while, but have just noticed that they have had new pictures done. Remember Christian, if it is meant to be, it will be!! Did have a lovely long chat with the owner though. We plan to put ours on the market next week. If we get a move on and declutter ready for the pictures.

No photos today as it is just too grey out there. Will take some more of the garden and veggie plot when the sun comes out.

Right, oven is ready, so time for the spring rolls to go in. A Chinese themed dinner tonight! Might even add a couple of dozen pak choi plants that I still have in the green house

C x x x

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Hide the cucumber

Greetings from Hamburg everyone! A beautiful sunny day here. Managed to 'borrow' the internet in my room as I am above the free wifi in the lobby..........

Not feeling at all well today. Woke up at 4am with stomach cramps. Now, am slightly concerned as was in Frankfurt yesterday and had a Thai meal. Lots of veg and noodles.....Germany is on high alert with an E. Coli warning for salad veg. We have been told by the company not to eat anything remotely salad like! In an unrelated topic, I went to the gym yesterday and did 7 1/2 sit ups. Don't think the stomach cramps have anything to do with that?!?!?! Also managed to run for 23 minutes. 23 WHOLE minutes without stopping. Am still in shock. Had to have a ciggie and diet coke to calm my nerves afterwards and ignore the fact that my thighs are in spasm and I am walking like Mrs Overall.

Did a very bad thing on Tuesday. I looked at a Cottage. Not just looked, as in drove by, actually made an appointment and went in.....It is lovely. Built before 1616, but not exactly sure when. 2 bedrooms, cute lounge with open fire, conservatory (done nicely with 2 solid walls at each side and french doors), wonky walls, little steps, smallish garden, but doable for hens and a veggie plot, plus a courtyard garden off the lounge, with enough room for a table, chairs and plant pots. Oh, and the kitchen was stunning. VERY rustic, beams everywhere, a larder and this.........

A fully restored Rayburn, dating back to God only knows when! I am very excited about this cottage, even though ours isn't on the market. I probably won't ever live in it, but it means that there are houses out there that I can afford. Not the pokey new builds that I really don't like. It has given me hope. If this cottage is meant to be, then it will still be there when our house is sold, if not, then I will find somewhere else. Looking on the positive side of things helps.

However, if any of you are reading this and fancy donating please visit my webpage at *wink*

No other news to report. 3 more days at work and then a couple off. I really should do some overtime, but can't face it. If my legs keep shaking the way they are at the moment, I might get stuck here for a few days. Not a problem, I have my new kindle with me. Sarah from the Omlet forum very kindly sent me a few books, including all the Harry Potters. I have read them all, but will reread them. I love the stories. I spent last week curled up in front of the fire watching the dvds last week. Magical stories (literally)!

Just finished reading Water for Elephants, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Couldn't put it down in fact. So annoying when work gets in the way of a good book. Have started The Death and Life of Charlie St Cloud, which seems good so far. Need to get a reading list together before our holiday in July. Yes, we are going on holiday together. I told you we were friends!!! It'll be lovely, a few days in the sun with private pool, speedos if I dare, loads of garlic and prawns.....ahhhh.

Amazing how I comment that there isn't any other news to report and then waffle on for 3 more paragraphs, isn't it??

My weight is slowly coming down, but then I am back to eating again. Just much less food and less often. Stable at the moment, but hoping it will come down again. Not being silly about it, just eating when I am hungry and trying to eat the right food (apart from here in Germany, remember, salad is banned)!! Now 12 stone 12, which is fine if you are 6'3. I am however, not. Sorry, 4 paragraphs.

Right, better dash!

C x x