Friday, 31 May 2013

Friday job - weeding the garden.

Thanks to Bridget at Malbridge house who said yesterday that perhaps I would wake up today and find it was summer and I did!
It actually took a couple of hours for the sun to work it's way through the clouds but since then its been 14 degrees warmer than yesterday and I'm back in shorts - not a pretty sight.
When Him Outside went to hospital a couple of weeks back for tests, I went too, just in case the nasty stomach camera thing made him feel ill. But we decided it was a waste of good weather for me to go with him today as he was 'just' going to the chest pain clinic for ECG on a treadmill  to confirm the previous diagnosis of Angina and to find out what they would do next.
So I got busy outside and tackled a corner of the garden that I haven't took photo's of before, as it was a mess. It was over-run with Tansy, which has never been planted in this area so came in by seeding from another bit of garden about 8 yards away. WARNING if you ever fancy planting a herb garden with unusual herbs, DO NOT plant Tansy! Unless you would like lots of tansy all over the place and as it smells horrible why would you? The problem is that it spreads by running roots so even though I've pulled up every bit I could see, I probably can't get rid of it except by digging up the whole bed.


The bottom photo is a close up of tansy where it is growing at the bottom of a trellis arch and that is my next place to tidy up.

Him Outside arrived back from Ipswich Hospital mid afternoon with a more or less definite diagnosis of angina and clutching a bundle of boxes of tablets which he will now have to take daily. This is such a weird thing as when I started this blog just a couple of months ago the only thing wrong with him was a dodgy knee that would ache when rain was approaching. Now he gets chest pains when doing anything involving shoveling or lifting heavy things and we may have to change a lot of things that we do here.With the thought now in the back of our minds that we might not be able to stay and work a 5 acre smallholding for quite as long as we had planned. He will be back to hospital for more tests within 8 weeks.
The flowers on the quince tree have now opened, they are so pretty. How did I manage to take a photo without getting a flower in the middle of the picture? what a twit! Put glasses on next time!
I know that I need my glasses on for lots more things now as this is the first year that I've needed them  to check the gooseberry bushes for the tell tale signs of sawfly caterpillar.
Seems old age is creeping up on both of us!















Thursday, 30 May 2013

This weather is getting me down!

Apparently it's official. The coldest spring since 1963 or somewhere back then when I was young and didn't notice the weather. Now I do notice and I'm fed up with it and I feel grotty and I'm going to bed!

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Tuna tales on a grumpy day

Before I start the tuna tale let me just say thank you to Karen at Chelmarsh Chunterings and Bridget at Malbridge House for comments yesterday. After reading other blogs and finding that some people get nasty comments and other bloggers get weird requests (like Ilona who got a request from someone offering to write a 'guest' blog for her?) I think I'm lucky to get nice comments.

My tuna tale is me remembering when a tin of value tuna chunks was about 35p and big tins of salmon were only £1. Not that long ago either. Now a tin of value tuna is 65p and Salmon is priced out of reach. Anyway, I decided that tuna fishcakes would be OK for dinner tonight so pulled two different coloured tins out of the cupboard and was just about to put my glasses on to see  what they were and why they were different, when the phone rang. It was a call for Him Outside and as I had already forgotten to pass on a message from this caller yesterday (whoops!) I thought I had better go straight out, find Him Outside and get him in to reply to caller straight away. Of course by the time I had put on coat- I'm FED UP with this cold drizzle today- walked right up past the workshop, found Him Outside,  walked back down again, taken off coat and got back into kitchen, I had forgotten about reading tins and just opened the first one. Only to find it wasn't chunks but something called tuna flakes which actually just seemed like liquidized tuna and absolutely NO GOOD for making fish cakes. Which meant I then had to open the other tin,which was chunks and could be drained properly. All of which results in us having tuna sandwich with salad for lunch and we will do tomorrow as well ,plus having the fishcakes for tonight. So we will quite be fed up with tuna I think. The so-called tuna flakes came from Aldi and must have been cheaper than chunks and you can easily see why, as there is almost no tuna in the can amongst all the liquid.
So fishcakes were made, dipped in egg and rolled in home made breadcrumbs. ( I buy the cheapest brown loaf I can find, turn it into crumbs, dry on trays in oven and tip into box to store in freezer. It makes loads and they keep for ages).
And before cooking they look like this:-
 And now I shall say Yah Boo Sucks to the horrible grey weather and finish my book. Hopefully by tomorrow I shall be rid of the grumpyness that has sat on me all day today!




Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Nothing happened today!

Despite thinking it was Monday all day because I was doing Mondays jobs it has been a normal sort of day. Him Outside went off early to do odd jobs for one of his customers, while I stayed at home and made bread, baked some chocolate cakes to put in the freezer, gave the kitchen worktops a good scrub, did some hoovering,wrote lists for shopping, meals and jobs that need doing during the week and tackled the ironing.
We still have a family group with tent and caravan on the campsite and just 2 guys who are still working at the Sizewell Power Station. The other blokes are working elsewhere now although one or two might be back later in the summer.
The weather has been a bit grey and I've done nothing outside.
In fact there is really nothing  to write about!
Perhaps tomorrow will be more interesting.

Monday, 27 May 2013

On a Bank Holiday Monday Soapbox

I've just read something on a blog that made me raise my eyebrows. My idea of being frugal has always been to use my time to do things that other people pay for.  So the thought of giving away £6  which could have been saved  by spending about 15 minutes sitting at a table puzzles me. If anyone else is puzzled by this do let me know!
Another thing that  mystifies me is why people save money in tins or something similar. Most of our income arrives in cash - not many people pay for a dozen eggs by writing a cheque or organising a bank transfer! So I could save it all in little tins all around the house if I wanted to. But it would earn me NOTHING and would be risky. Instead of this we both have an ISA. A well known high street bank has an instant access ISA where you can put any odd bits of cash in, it pays interest monthly so that every month the interest earns more interest, and you don't pay tax on an ISA either. A win win situation.
 I know which way of saving I would always choose.
Well, each to his own I think the saying is!


I will get down off my soapbox and get back to normal. Today has been quite restful, not quite as much sitting around as planned as him outside saw next weeks depressing weather forecast and kept thinking of things that needed doing while the weather was fine, and I decided to tidy up a small bit of garden that was full of lemon balm. Before we did these jobs ( and the normal campsite cleaning and egg collecting) we nipped up the road to the car boot sale as usual. We lead SUCH eventful lives that car boot sales and local shopping are often the only times I go out!
Today's car boot was huge - by local standards - probably about 150+ boots we estimated. And at last I found someone selling craft stuff, (this time mostly crafting papers), which I search for all summer ready for winter card making. For £3.50 I got all this lot, which includes a big pack of oriental papers, peel offs, charms, and toppers.

Sorry about the fuzzy picture, I really should put my glasses on so I can see what I'm doing!

I also found 4 small Lavender plants for 60p each. I already have several lavenders in the garden and in pots, so these will be grown on, potted up and sold next year for £1.50! I know this is only a tiny profit but every little helps. One of the stalls at the car boot had some local  strawberries and they looked so delicious we treated ourselves to a punnet. These must have been grown in a greenhouse or tunnel as our strawberries here have only just produced flowers. I can confirm they were delicious, definitely not flown in from foreign climes.
We were able to spend some time with out feet up and I'm now reading the second book in the Cazelet series by Elizabeth Jane Howard that I  mentioned a week or so back. I decided not to read one straight after the other and have got through two modern crime books in between.
 Just remembered the French Open tennis and turned on to see The lovely Rafa winning his first round match.
I'm having a night off cooking this evening so we will probably just have scrambled eggs. We eat all the odd shaped eggs that can't be sold, but they taste just as good!
Back tomorrow with more riveting details of our eggsiting adventures here!


Sunday, 26 May 2013

Thank goodness for a bit of warmth -AT LAST

Before I forget ( which I often do) I must say welcome to new visitors who have left comments and new followers who have added themselves to the pictures on the right. I hope you enjoy this simple blog about our  life here on the smallholding where we try to live frugally and lightly on the planet.

It's been a lovely sunny day here  on the edge of Suffolk, and at last there seemed to be a bit of warmth, to cheer everyone up. We zoomed out early to  two local  small car boot sales. Him Outside found a trailer light-board for £5, which is a bargain apparently. I thought we had at least one or two already but  another was required in case one of the others got damaged.
I found a couple more things which will be Christmas presents. That means I have almost finished my Christmas shopping! ( Except for the 3 children and their partners who will be asked what they would like much later in the year). I also found someone selling brand new tea-towels for 20p each. I'm  glad that so many people now have dishwashers as that means that those of us who don't can buy tea- towels so cheaply. I usually stock up during the car boot season if possible so that I can turn some of my old ones into rags. My other £1 spend was on 4 pairs of brand new cotton knickers! Very useful, and 25p each must be good value.
We did  a bit more in the garden after our coffee break and got some leeks planted out and the new flower border hoed again.  I decided on this flower border after we took down some huge leylandii a few years ago and replaced them with a fence all along the front. So I sent for some cheap perennials to fill it up. They are growing- but VERY slowly which means there are lots of spaces in-between where weeds soon pop up. I now remember why I prefer a shrub Border!
Then we spent a few hours in the conservatory with all doors open.He listened to cricket on the radio and dozed and |I started a new book. I'm looking forward to watching some of the French Open tennis which I've just discovered is on TV all through the week. Wimbledon fortnight is my favourite time of the year and that's not far away either.
Here is another colourful garden photo. 3 shrubs and 2 apricot trees which have only ever fruited once. Before we had the new kitchen extension I could see these from the old kitchen window.


But now this shed and greenhouse need moving to give me back my view of the shrubs above.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Busy, Busy, Busy.

Phew! I'm kn******d. After so many days of wet and cold we needed to get a lot done outside today. We started before 8.30am, stopped for coffee at 9.30 and again at 11! We were taking things steady because Him Outside got some chest pains and breathlessness, and after reading more info about angina yesterday evening, we reckon that will be the definite diagnosis when he goes to the chest pain clinic. We have no idea what that will mean for our life here on the smallholding. There might be some things we will no longer be able to do, so slow and steady will be the plan from now on and no heavy lifting and lots of rests between jobs.
First job was to plant out four dozen hardy winter cabbage plants.Two different sorts that I have grown from seed. Then I potted up the late-sown tomato plants into larger pots, they will go out into the polytunnel in a couple of weeks and hopefully will give us some late tomatoes when the others have finished. We had 4 courgette plants still in the greenhouse and used 2 to replace the ones lost in the strong winds a couple of weeks ago, the other two have been squeezed into a poly tunnel. We then put straw around the strawberries and put in the hoops and netting over them. Next job was putting the last of the climbing French beans into a pot to go with the other 6 pots already planted.  Then we put a strip of plastic down each side of the summer raspberries, this is to stop the grass creeping in when we cover them with netting in a few weeks time. I put the nasturtium plants into bigger pots ready to go outside in a few days. In the fruit cage I used the secateurs to take the tops off the late summer raspberries as they were poking out of the top. Finally we pulled up the cabbage stalks and Him Outside used the rotovator to prepare  the bed that will be for leeks later. Of course there were all the normal campsite and egg collecting jobs to be done too.
That was before  lunch!
 After a long  lunch hour Him Outside took the strimmer up the road to the second home he now looks after and did a bit more tidying and grass cutting. I finally finished the job of tidying all the pots of herbs and tree seedlings  and got the small mower out to cut a couple of bits of grass that can't be done with the ride-on.
Finally I thought I would take a few close-up photos of  things in the garden.
These pretty little flowers, just about to open are on the quince tree. 


 Finally opening AT LAST are the flowers on our Horse Chestnut.  Pink flowers are more unusual than the white flowered Chestnuts.
 The rainfall over the last few days has been really good for the gooseberries, a bit of sunshine and warmth over the next few weeks and we will be soon be picking and selling and getting scratched to bits!
Now we can have a restful evening and a quiet Bank Holiday  Sunday and Monday, with a couple of  local car boot sales and some reading. That's the sort of Bank Holiday we like, avoiding the crowds!

Friday, 24 May 2013

Tomato and herb rolls good with.... EVERYTHING!

Last time I made my Tomato and Herb rolls and tried to upload the picture onto the blog was when things went strange and nothing would work. Thankfully all was OK this time.
I concocted this recipe by combing two different recipes from an old book on bread making. We started eating them with things like spagi bol. or lasagne, (instead of garlic bread). Then we found they were quite nice with all sorts of things!
Recipe for Tomato and Herb Rolls
1lb Bread Flour
Good Teaspoon instant yeast
Half Teaspoon salt
2 heaped teaspoons dried herbs ( Herbs Provencale or Italian Mixed herbs)
2 Big Tablespoons of Tomato Puree dissolved in a little hot water then use cold water to make half pint tepid water.
Mix all the dry things add the water, mix well then knead really well for 10 minutes.
Leave to rise until doubled in size
Knead again but only gently then divide into 8 rolls, put on greased tray, leave to rise again then bake for about 12 to 15 minutes at 200C Fan or Gas 7
Cool on a wire rack

 I also made a quiche using some of the chard we have in the garden. Chard is quite a handy thing to grow because it will sit all winter and then put in a growth spurt of small leaves in the spring ( just in time to help fill the hungry gap) before running to seed.  By which time I have grown from seed again and just last week planted out the new plants which will give us lots of young leaves later in the autumn and will be there for spring  2014. This time of year all the big outside leaves of the old plants are handy for feeding to the chickens. I grow just plain chard  because the although Rainbow mixed coloured Chard looks pretty, it is not so hardy.
While I was busy in the kitchen avoiding the rain, Him Outside took shelter in the polytunnels and removed the side shoots of the tomatoes and tied them  to their stakes. He then unloaded the rollers which were still on the trailer after being used to roll a new grass paddock at a second home nearby and took the chainsaw to bits, gave it a clean and got it working again so as to cut a few pallets. NORMALLY at this time of year we are not using much wood as the water is heated by the Solar Thermal Pipes Thingy on the roof and the living room is warmed by opening the doors to the conservatory. But as its only 10 degrees C and pouring with rain, heating is required!
Despite the weather our campsite visitors for Bank Holiday Weekend have arrived. We were expecting the guys working at Sizewell Power Station to be here over the weekend but they were suddenly called away to go down to Hinckley Point Power Station in Somerset. They don't seem to know from one day to another where they will be working or when they will get a day off. I'm glad Him Outside never had a job working away from home for weeks at a time, but I guess the way things are at the moment they are just glad to be working.
We are still puzzled at the probable Angina diagnosis which was the result of the tests at hospital the other day, as today he has no indigestion and no chest pains - Thankgoodness!

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Waiting.................. for better weather and hospital appointments

I have lots of plants sitting in the greenhouse waiting for the weather to get better. We keep being told they we are to get gales and heavy rain, so far we have  had thunder, huge hail storms and showers, so I'm glad we didn't plant out the squash and pumpkins on the field as they would have been ruined by today's weather.
So I'm waiting..... and so are the runner beans, gradually getting taller in the greenhouse, the canes are ready but they would also suffer if it stays like this. I have 5 pots of nasturtiums to put into bigger pots and then to go outside - hail would soon damage them, so I'm waiting.......
Yesterday we spent hours waiting at the hospital for appointments. Now we have to wait again for Him Outside to be referred to a different department.
I'm NOT very good at waiting!!!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Traditional Suffolk Rusk Recipe and pictures.

Yesterday I put a picture of my baking on the blog and Pam From Tydd who lived in or  near Suffolk for a while mentioned Suffolk Rusks and someone else asked what they were. So as I was doing bread today I thought I'd bake and photo the Rusk recipe. When the children were all at home and I did a HUGE bake every week, I would make these while I was deciding what else to bake because I could do them without thinking!

Traditional  Suffolk Rusks Recipe.
8oz SR Flour
4oz Butter or hard spread ( I use Willow)
1 oz lard
1 egg
 Rub fats into flour and mix in the beaten egg.
Roll out to about 2cm thick,
cut into rounds, put on greased tray.
Cook for about 10 minutes at 170 for fan oven or Mk 7 for gas or whatever your equivalent is.
Until just colouring brown


 Tip each on edge and using the point of a sharp knife split into 2 where the crack is.

Pop back in oven


Until golden , about 3 or 4 mins.


These are very short and crumbly so sometimes they break . When this happens leave to cool a bit then eat all the broken bits with a little butter!!!! :-)

Leave them to cool and store in tin, they freeze well. Eat with a little butter and/or cheese and a tiny pinch of salt or dab of chutney. Very tasty. Traditionally  these were once made everywhere in Suffolk and taken by farm workers out to the fields for their morning 'bait'.


Cold and grey here today. The Lightweight camping association have all left. What a handy income that was!!
Also got my pay slip for the Poll Clerk job, which just covered the bill for campsite Electric Hook-Up Testing and Repairs. ( Leaving £4 for me!)
I finished The Light Years which is the  first book in The Cazalet Quartet By Elizabeth Jane Howard last night. My dilemma is do I go straight on to Book 2 or read something else first? Decisions,Decisions !

Monday, 20 May 2013

Monday, Monday

Just a quick post today so as to have more reading time for these.

  Recommended by my friend A in Essex, I wasn't too sure at first as I hadn't read family saga type books for years. I ordered from the library and volumes 2 ,3,and 4 arrived last month so I had to wait for this months library van visit to get hold of volume 1. And once I got into it found it a very good read.
 Next a message to my friend G in Co Mayo. :-)

The reason for sitting down, reading and resting my back  is because I spent this morning baking a big batch of cakes, many will be put in the freezer. These are what I call Man Cakes - plain-ish sort of things that men seem to like best!
 Shortcakes, sultana buns, a vanilla sponge and some shortbread biscuits. The sponge could have done with an extra few minutes as the darn thing sank in the middle after coming out of the oven. Mind you, once a homemade blackcurrant/mixed fruit jam and a little vanilla butter cream was added it tasted very good - Well I had to test it didn't I?
Him Outside is doing his 3-days-a-month inspection job until Thursday so there was no-one else here to try the cake! That's my excuse!
Back Tomorrow ( thanks to all for yesterdays comments about our garden- There are some bits that are not so tidy which I don't take photos of!)

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Photos on a sunny day

Thank you to everyone for comments yesterday :- Bridget at Malbridge House, Pam in Tydd, Frugal in Bucks and Frugal in Derbyshire and welcome to a new visitor - Rolojo.( also apologies for missing Karen at Chelmarsh, when I was doing replies the other day).
 A warmer and sunnier day today and we got more gardening done, after our usual quick dash to the car boot sale ( £1 spent on two small Christmas gifts.) Plus  a couple of people had Hostas for sale some £5 and some £2, you can guess which ones I bought! I have several various colour combinations now but will still look for a one that has green edges to white leaves. I think they all have different names but the only one I know is called 'White Feather', it starts of almost white in early spring only changing to pale green as the summer comes.It's not very vigorous which must be something do do with the lack of chlorophyll - if I'm remembering Biology lessons correctly. (That sounds too scientific - probably a load of rubbish!)

We got the onion weeding finished, some rabbit fencing and enviromesh over 4 beds of various greens,one lot of supports and canes up ready for runner beans.

 Then Him Outside volunteered to climb up on a pile of bricks to take a picture of the whole vegetable garden.( this makes the pylons look even closer than they are which is actually on the adjoining field right at the top of our 4 acre meadow.)
It was so lovely and sunny I wandered around taking more pictures.
The Lilac, coming out at last.



The strawberry bed
Out of the front gate and over the road, this field is planted with beans, but they look a bit sparse.


And then it was lunch time- nearly all home grown today. Lettuce, mixed salad leaves, various coloured radishes and asparagus with a few cubes of cheese and a splodge of mayo being the only things bought.

That's my lot for today, need some reading time! Back tomorrow.


Saturday, 18 May 2013

Saturday at the smallholding

The cold grey weather hasn't put off the Lightweight Camping Club as a few more arrived for the weekend, there are now 10 small tents on the field. This is one corner.
I started the day by making a gooseberry and rhubarb pie and got the things ready for a vegetable curry, with  homemade bhajis and homemade naans. Then I went outside ( fleece and fleece hat STILL required!) I started by sowing some runner beans in trays in the greenhouse then potting up and tidying some more herbs which will go out to sell later. I have several  huge pots of various Hostas, but they have been in the same pots for years and had been infested with weeds - especially this which looks like a harmless violet but BE WARNED, if it arrives in your garden you will NEVER get rid of it.
It must be related to violets but the roots are very invasive and the flowers turn into seed pods which pop and spread everywhere. It would be fine if it just stayed in the flower garden but it gets into every nook and cranny and every pot. I decided that 3 Hostas would have to go, I managed to rescue 3 smaller ones but will look out at car boot sales to restart my collection.
Him Outside did lots of tidying and weeding and prepared 2 beds for runner beans. He also took the fleece off the courgettes, but they do look sad as they got badly damaged by the wind.
Then it was all the normal jobs - cleaning campsite loos, checking bins, collecting, sorting and boxing up 8 dozen eggs.
The doorbell went mid afternoon and a lady asked to look at the campsite, she had clipboard and checklist and I was a bit puzzled, but she was doing an advanced 'reccy' for a possible visit by a group of 6 friends in September. They had come all the way from Leicestershire to look! They admired the bluebells under our Horse Chestnut tree and said that it has been so cold where they live that their bluebells are still not out.

Then it was time to finish cooking the curry, get cleared up and prepare ourselves  for an evening at The Eurovision Song Contest! I doubt UK will win but having grown up watching it for as long as I can remember it is compulsory viewing.We have a packet of chocolate coated peanuts to nibble as a treat! What an exciting life we lead!

Friday, 17 May 2013

New Library books today . Hooray!

Now that our library van only comes once in 4 weeks it is quite an event to look forward to. ( I'm a Simple Suffolk Smallholder - so easily pleased : - ).


 We could  go into the library in Leiston  but books are only on loan for 3 weeks there, which means always keeping an eye on the date they are due, whereas from the Mobile you can keep them for 8 weeks, makes life much easier. I'm sorry to say that Suffolk Library Service has gone downhill a bit since Suffolk County Council passed the running of it to a Community Interest Group, no fault of the staff as they were treated pretty badly and they are all wonderful. ( Many years ago I was  a Suffolk County Council Library Assistant so I have to say that!) But the new computer system is dreadfully slow and longwinded. Books ordered take an age to arrive, less new books are bought so waiting lists are very long. I have a list of favourite authors and check the website at Fantastic Fiction to see when they have new books due, then I order from the library. My Amazon recommendations list is also checked regularly to see if it comes  up any new ideas. When all else fails and nothing much has arrived via books ordered then I can revert to reading my own stock of several 100 books. Having nothing to read is very unlikely here.
Here is today's haul, not enough to last 4 weeks I fear.

So I shall read some of these - just part of the collection!

Whoops, nearly forgot to say thank you to Karen at Chelmarsh ( who might come and stay on our campsite, which will be fun),Bridget at Malbridge House and Dc who is over the border in Norfolk, where they have a football team, that we who live in Suffolk, NEVER mention!! Thanks to you all for yesterdays comments.
I see the comment by "Anonymous" left on My Beautiful Life blog that I mentioned yesterday has been deleted by a moderator!

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Thoughts on Charity shops

I had 15 spare minutes to catch up on every ones blogs and quickly zoomed through all the new ones until I came to the comment made by "anonymous" on one of the  blogs I read. This I had to read twice! because it seemed anonymous had had a bad day and was letting off steam saying that              ( amongst other things) people who had things they had finished with shouldn't sell them but should give them to charity because there are a lot of people who really need stuff. Having just done a car boot sale with two tables full of things I no longer needed made me wonder if I should have disposed of them a different way. But if I had taken them to a charity shop surely they would have sold them for more than I was charging anyway. The charity might benifitted but it wouldn't have helped "anonymous". We have no free-cycle or similar based nearby, so that was not an option.
 It seems to me that Charity shops have got more and more expensive recently. Also there are lots of things some Charity shops will no longer sell. Once upon a time books were one of my favourite charity shop bargains, now often they are very expensive- especially at the Oxfam book shops. I have been told (and it may not be true) that thousands of books are sent for pulping every year rather than sell them cheaply. If I donate to charity shops I would rather they sold items cheaper rather than chuck them out. Which reminds me I must remember to take my bag of cross stitch kits ( ones I've had for years and know I will  NEVER stitch) and other things that didn't sell at the car-boot into town for the Church Charity Shop. They don't ask if I want to register for gift aid and are grateful for everything they are given and don't charge a fortune for the things they sell and the money stays in the town.  ( My preference would be The Hospice Shop - Him Outsides Mum spent her last days there and  they need the money the most, but after taking stuff in  once and finding that the two ladies didn't even pause in their conversation telling tales about an absent  helper to say "Thank you" I decided not to give them anymore things! I now donate directly to the Hospice instead).

Lots of new arrivals on the campsite today as we have The Lightweight Camping Group here for a 5 day Meet. First time they've been. Just like a normal camping group - but smaller tents!

Another picture from the garden to finish this tonight, This is my lovely Red Hazel, red leaves in spring with red catkins and later red tinged nuts - ALWAYS nicked by the blasted squirrels before we get a look in!



Wednesday, 15 May 2013

To fruit or not to fruit, that is the question

Three trees on our smallholding.
 First is a Morello cherry. Its quite old, probably about 30 years at least. When it was smaller we would pull a huge net over the top and peg it down all around to keep out the blackbirds. Now it's too big for that, so some years we have fruit and some years the birds take the lot. This year I know of at least 3 blackbirds nests nearby so it might be their turn. With the awful weather last  year it had NO fruit at all.
 Always last to have leaves  is a huge Walnut tree, we think it is as old as the house, so about 55 years old. Sometimes it has so many walnuts, we get to eat lots, other years the squirrels pinch them all before they are ripe. Last year with the awful weather we didn't get to eat a single walnut.
Probably also as old as the house, this is our HUGE old Bramley apple tree. Up until last year it had never let us down. It always had enough for us, some to sell and some windfalls to leave for the birds. Last year we were horrified to realise that the weather meant that there were NO apples, NIL, ZILCH, NOTHING.  Surely it won't be the same this year?

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

A Grey Day - both the weather and a missing towel.

It looked like being a grey dismal day so after putting it off for over a week we ventured out the 25 miles to our nearest big town - Ipswich, County town of Suffolk.  Poundland, Wilkinson and Aldi were calling! They have things that are so much cheaper it makes it worth the trip. Also we wanted to have another look at Sainsburys to see what we were missing in the way of their Value Brands, as other frugalers seem to find lots of bargains there.  Him Outside found Value Muesli which surprisingly says 'no added sugar'. He has tried other cheapies and found they were far too sweet. We also got the value loo rolls for the campsite but as we stupidly forgot the cold-box we couldn't take advantage of cheaper meat, fish and cheese.
Aldi did have Allinsons flour for £1- much to my surprise, I wonder why it shot up to £1.79 at Tesco? They also have little tins of sardines and tuna for much less than value brands elsewhere. Then into the town centre where it seems that there are even more empty shops than 6 weeks ago. But a chance discovery in The Butter Market Centre cheered me up - we discovered a new shop called Grape Tree. It was full of dried fruit, nuts, herbs and spices in plain packages looking awfully similar to Julian Graves which closed last August. Not only did it look similar but the shop lady told me that it was being run by the original owners of Julian Graves before they were taken over by Holland and Barrett and then closed down. She said they have now re-opened 16 shops around the country - several in the West Midlands where they were originally based. Good news indeed when so many shops are struggling. Our last stop on the way home was to use our Gardening Club card at Wyevale for some compost on special offer. Most of it will be for next year.  I would have liked a wander around all the pretty bits and pieces in the kitchen section but time was getting on and Him Outside wanted his lunch!
Now the missing grey towel. We have 2 very large dark grey bath towels ( as well as some others of course!). When I was in the bathroom yesterday I was pondering that there was only one grey towel on the towel stacker thing, but the other one wasn't in the wash basket as I had loaded the washing machine not long before and would have seen it. So today I started a search. It couldn't be in the spare room as I had hoovered and stripped the bed yesterday and would have seen it. Upstairs and downstairs I looked,  in all sorts of unlikely places- How could I have lost a large bath towel? 
Then I started again, everywhere I had already looked and FINALLY in the spare room at last there it was all the time- hanging on hook on the back of the door ( which opens against a wall ). So message to son - next time you are here please leave towels somewhere I can see them!
No pictures for the blog today - too grey and nasty for photos outside and  nothing exciting happening indoors.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Car boot success and a good read.

First of all, before I forget, thank you to everyone for comments after Saturdays Post, all the "regulars" especially Karen at Chelmarsh, Pam at Tydd, Sara from way up north and two new visitors - Fantics Antics and The Domestic Storyteller. All comments much appreciated as always ( so I know there is "Somebody out there"!)
 These two little tins at the top of the page, are the only things I found at yesterdays car boot sale for 50p each. Originally holding Christmas mugs from John Lewis' I was told, but absolutely perfect for holding a small Christmas cake to add to the hampers for family this year. We decided after Christmas 2012 that we really needed to spend less on extended family ( so don't worry H and J, M and R and A and B.  that doesn't mean you!!). For several years we had been giving a gift voucher and a small gift. This year it is small gift only. It was just getting too expensive.
We actually came home from the car boot sale over £80 richer, as we took all our junk that had been accumulating for the last 3 years since we last had a clear out. The weather was a bit chilly, and the turnout of visitors could have been better but considering we had things that  sold for 50p,£1, £2 and not much more we were pleased with the outcome. The remainder that we brought home has been sorted for disposal via charity shop or bin with the few books being added  to the shelves in the campsite recreation room and just a few bits put back in the roof cupboard for next time - 2016  I reckon! ( The £80 will be added to an ISA where we save Tax Free in the summer ready for the winter).
After the car boot unpacking and all the usual jobs of campsite and smallholding, I put my feet up and got this book finished. It was a really good read. Modern crime, the 5th in the series so far about a forensic archaeologist who works in the fictional North Norfolk University and lives on the wild coastal marshland around Blakeney. ( Although most of this book is set in Blackpool and on Pendle Hill in Lancashire.) They are not heavy going and not complicated nor psychological or weird.
Then I wrote a much overdue letter to my penfriend who lives on a very windy Scottish Island. By which time I was quite ready for bed.
Today I got busy with the hoover upstairs and downstairs, various bits of cleaning, chopping more kindling .WHY am I still having to do kindling in mid May? Because it's like blinkin' March here today! Finally a little weeding.
Him Outside has been loading an old trailer and some gang mowers onto our big trailer ready to take them to a Collective Auction up in Norfolk very soon, then taking the tractor and topper down the road to cut some very long grass at a second home.Finally cutting our grass here in the orchard which seems to be all dandelions this year. ( We don't have a lawn here on the smallholding, just patches of tatty grass!!)

Saturday, 11 May 2013

These are the things on which we spend nothing ( or very very little).

So that we can live here on a 5 acre smallholding and be self employed and so that Him Outside can work part time at age 56, and so we can eat nice food and be comfortable there are some things we spend NO MONEY ON.
Looking back at the first quarter of the year- we spent NOTHING on heating (except for a bit of electric for the chainsaw to cut wood). We spent NOTHING on CDs, DVDs, Entertainment systems, satellite TV subscriptions, electronic games and similar gadgety toys. ( unless you count the new digital camera for my Birthday- I'm not counting that - It's a necessity for blogging after all !!!) We spent NOTHING on haircuts ( we do it ourselves), make up, smelly 'products' and  similar   things         ( except for unscented  soap +shampoo and deodorant from Poundland). We spent NOTHING on Take-away meals or eating out. We spent NOTHING on newspapers. We spent NOTHING on things for the garden unless they were connected with growing food. We spent NOTHING on Days out or Holidays.We spent NOTHING on jewellery or watches. We spent NOTHING on gadgets for the kitchen. We spent NOTHING on new books ( although I've found several secondhand and borrowed dozens from the library) We spent NOTHING on keeping up with the Jones' ( or keeping up with anyone else for that matter.)
BUT on the other hand we spent a lot on doing the recreation room, shower and toilet on the campsite, Too much on things for the smallholding, quite a lot on new chickens, chicken feed and 1500 egg boxes. And Far  Too much on running the gas guzzling 4 wheel drive that we have to have for pulling a trailer to collect and deliver all the smallholding things that we do!
What are the things other frugalers out there spend nothing on, so that they can do the things they chose?
Now I'm down off my soapbox again, I will get back to normal and tell you about our Saturday here in Suffolk. I was busy in the kitchen doing these things in the picture. 6 boxes of pizza topping to go in the freezer. This is made with 3 tins of tomatoes - without their juice- 4 smallish onions (home grown) chopped fine, a good squirt of tomato puree, teaspoon sugar and pepper and oregano (home grown and dried). Total cost about £1.10p I reckon ( onions are free as we sold enough last autumn to cover the cost of the onion sets.)The onions are softened in a little oil then add the tomatoes and mash them up add the rest and cook until thick.

The juice from the tinned tomatoes was used along with a small onion, a grated carrot and some of the outside sticks from a head of celery plus squirt of tom.puree and a little flour to thicken, water and lots of seasoning to make a big saucepan of tomato soup. Which seemed like a good idea with the weather turning back to cold, grey and wet today.
 Finally I mixed up a good lot of crumble topping to put in the freezer ready to make Him Outside all the desserts he likes to eat, with all the lovely fruit we grow. An hour or so well spent I think.
Meanwhile Him Outside was busy weeding while it was dry and sorting out  the jeep and workshop when it rained.
We have one crop that was damaged by the high winds - the cougettes. Despite covering with fleece they look very sad with several broken leaves, not sure how many plants out of the 18 will survive. Will look again in a few days to see how they are doing. I still have 4 more plants in the greenhouse waiting in case we lost any and there are always plenty of plants for sale at carboot sales if we do need replacements. Courgettes are one of the things we grow to sell as they are so easy to pick and pack.
Car boot sale tomorrow - weather permitting!


Friday, 10 May 2013

More about asparagus

Thank you for comments left yesterday and Bridget left a message to say my asparagus picture had inspired her to buy some asparagus  plants to grow. The trouble is that there is a bit of a wait between planting and the first time you can eat any because it takes the crowns 3 years to get established. 
This is something I wrote in June last year for the Suffolk Smallholders Newsletter.




When we first looked around this smallholding on a cold January day in 1992 the owner pointed to an empty patch and said "that's the asparagus bed". Sadly by the time we moved in 5 months later it was a few straggly asparagus shoots amid a sea of weeds and grass. Reclaiming the bed was not top of our list of priorities and it wasn't until 2006 that we eventually got around to doing things properly. We built a proper raised bed, with good drainage and planted good quality crowns. After resisting the temptation to eat any for a couple of years and then restricting ourselves to just a few for the next year, we looked forward to a good number of spears, but then came  two dry years and several crowns just disappeared, so we still haven't had the chance to be really greedy. Even so fresh cut asparagus is one of the best things to have when nothing else is around.
Searching through my books on more information on asparagus I discovered it has been cultivated since Egyptian times and grows wild in many parts of Europe, Asia and North-West Africa. The Romans would force it by covering to grow blanched stems. In this country, for many years, it was usually only grown in the lavish kitchen gardens of grand houses,but the railway age allowed it to be quickly delivered to  wealthy city dwellers, where street-sellers called it "Sparrow Grass". I'm guessing that in the past it would take up too much space for a small return in cottage gardens. In his Complete Book Of Self Sufficiency  John Seymour says " Do not be put off by any puritanical ideas that as a luxury crop they are somewhat sinful!" 

So if you've got the room and don't mind the wait it's well worth the effort. 

The crowns I bought in 2006 were 6 each of 4 varieties, ( supposed to spread the eating over a longer period) to fill up the bed. If I was starting again I would only buy 1 sort because by having 4 varieties and then losing some of the crowns in the drought years and then the wet summer of last year there is not enough of each for a meal until the whole lot get going.
 We will eat them often for about a month and then they have to be left to grow up into tall feathery plants. If you keep eating for too many weeks then the plants weaken so that they have fewer shoots the next year. At the end of the year when the stems have turned brown then they are cut off quite close to the soil.Then they need a good feed and weeding and hopefully next year they will appear again just in time to fill the hungry gap.
I seem to have been fiddling about all day again. Him Outside had to go to see the nurse for a blood test first thing this a.m. ( He has been suffering with rather too much indigestion recently and has to go to hospital for nasty tests soon - poor old thing!) so I went and did a quick dash round Co-op in the hope of some yellow label things on the meat counter. There were 2 Pork chops at half price so they were snaffled up to put in the freezer and I was just debating that a half leg of lamb reduced to £6, still seemed expensive to me but would make a meal for when we have visitors, when a bloke reached around me and grabbed it! Oh well. That's the joy of having no choice for shopping out here in the sticks - The reductions are hardly cheaper at all. They had a trolley of " reduced price" cauliflowers but their idea of a reduction was from £1.20 down to 80p !! Luckily we still have a bit of purple sprouting broccoli left but if the weather stays warm it will soon run to seed. 
Well, that's my lot for today. I'm not sure what else I've done except the normal house and campsite cleaning, egg collecting  and meal preparing and a bit more herb sorting.
Maybe tomorrow will be more exciting!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Windy day in Suffolk, but otherwise quite quiet.

It is so windy here this afternoon, hope it doesn't do too much damage. Every year just as we get lots of blossom on the trees we seem to get a windy day to blow it all off again.
Today, after 21 years of fighting our way into the fruit cage ( because the door was just a piece of netting weighted at the bottom and was always getting tangled up) we have a proper door, hinged  and with a hook and eye catch. Even when the old fruit cage posts rotted away and we replaced them we still had the hanging net door. Him Outside decided it was a job he could do this morning, And hooray! it was soon done. I have no idea why it has taken 21 years to do?



Not much else of note happened here today. I fiddled about making a fruit cake and then tidying and potting up some small herb plants into bigger pots ready to sell later. Him Outside collected the chickens that are to stay here whilst their owner is in hospital and then went off to a second home not far from us to cut their grass. Dinner was home made chips, with home grown asparagus and chicken thighs baked with a spicy, crunchy crust.
That's it- Quiet,frugal day in Suffolk

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Daddy Poly-tunnel, Mummy poly-tunnel and baby poly-tunnel !!!

Big apologies as for several days I have forgotten to welcome new followers and thank everyone for comments they make, they are much appreciated and I do read every one.  I've noticed the the more out spoken and controversial someone is in blogland the more followers they get, but I shall  continue with this little ol' diary, just  as it is. No controversies at all.
We were expecting rain today but so far only a tiny shower, not enough to do any good. This shower arrived at the very moment that I and a friend had climbed on the back of the potato planter  to put in 6 rows of spuds on the field. After a disastrous year in 2012 when we had a really poor crop, we were debating if it was worth the bother to grow any maincrop this year. Then when we ran out of spuds in February and bought a sack full which cost £12 !!!( NEVER EVER has a sack of potatoes cost that much in the past) we decided we would grow some main crop after all. Our early and second early go in the garden beds and are cosseted with fleece over them, but maincrop go out on the field along with pumpkins and squash that all take up too much space in the garden.
After a deserved cup of coffee and whilst the sun was still behind the clouds we got all the tomatoes  and peppers (chilli and sweet) planted into the new poly-tunnel. So now everything is out except for a few late sown tomatoes.
So here we have the three tunnels. The " Baby" was bought when we first came here 21 years ago, the frame for "Mummy" was purchased for £10 from a cousin of a sister about 16 years ago and now "Daddy" - with the frame given us by a friend who just wanted it out of their way.
 Aubergines and cucumbers in Baby ( and lots of self sown garlic chives)
 Tomatoes, salad stuff and peppers in mummy
Tomatoes and peppers in Daddy.
 Baby has been re-covered twice. Mummy has only needed re-covering once so plastic will last way longer than the manufactures say if it's in a sheltered position.
The two oldest have earned their keep a dozen times over with the stuff we've grown, sold and eaten from them and I expect  the new one (plastic plus hot spot tape was £174) will pay for itself in just this one year.
All the sticks in Daddy poly are broom handles salvaged from amongst a whole load of broken pallets chucked out by a  company that we are allowed to clear to use on our woodburner and Rayburn. Him Outside knew they would come in handy for something!

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Busy day as usual

Back to normal today after the Bank Holiday weekend so after getting the washing out,  spent the morning baking 2 loaves of bread and 5 pastry-cases, 4 to put in the freezer, and one to make an asparagus quiche for dinner tonight. Those put in the freezer will be used  for quiches or to rustle up a lemon meringue pie at short notice. Then quick bike ride ( 3 mile round trip) down to village for milk and fruit from the nursery. More expensive than Tesco or Co-op but as that was all we needed works out cheaper than driving anywhere. Then back to do big clean up with the hoover and a stiff brush on the mats.  Him Outside was doing some garden maintenance work for our neighbour this morning and then getting the poly-tunnel door frames covered in plastic and hung. The rhubarb is growing well so picked a huge bundle today - some for us for dinner(rhubarb fool) and the rest to sell to another neighbour.
Then 8 dozen eggs to collect and box up, washing to get in and sort, dinner to finish preparing. Oh, I also did a bit of hoeing of weeds in the raspberry, asparagus and daffodil beds. They were like CONCRETE! We've had almost no rain for 6 weeks, farmers are getting their huge irrigators ready for the carrot and onion crops on the light soils down the road.
This is our asparagus - not as thin or as straight as you would buy, but extremely delicious.
I hope your evening meal is as tasty and  as ours!

Monday, 6 May 2013

Polytunnel cover on.

It's almost done! We took advantage of having our son and his girlfriend here and a sunny day to get the plastic cover over the polytunnel frame. We've backfilled the trenches with the dirt taken out, poured several cans of water over, and then it was all stamped down which then holds the plastic in place. We have the wooden door frames to cover with more plastic and  they will be fixed at each end tomorrow. It's so much easier to pull the plastic over and hold onto it with 4 pairs of hands. Just hope we don't get gales overnight before it's properly finished!
 Our carboot outing this morning was a disappointment as most of the booters were the same as those there yesterday, so we had a quick dash round at Friday Street and then a even quicker look at the mini boot fair in our nearest village. My only purchases were a big red and white spotty mug for 25p  and a few more Beatrix Potter books which I have been collecting (as long as they are only pence each) I missed out on reading these as a child and also never really enjoyed reading them to our 3 when they were little. Preferred Shirley Hughes' lovely books.
Did manage an hour sitting in the conservatory between jobs- thankfully - feet up and good book!

Sunday, 5 May 2013

This probably isn't the most fun you can have for under £15 on a Bank Holiday Sunday but we enjoyed it.

As I said yesterday, Bank Holiday weekends are always working weekends for us. Looking after our campers and making sure the toilets are clean and bins emptied etc means that we stay at home. Luckily we can always fit in a trip up the road to the local car boot sale and be back in time to do the campsite and smallholding jobs.
This morning there were dozens of booters there and we  actually I found several things that will make Christmas presents and other useful stuff all for a total of £14.20p. ( Him Outside only spent 50p on 2 paintbrushes.)This is our haul
 

The table football game was Just £1, another thing for the campsite Recreation Room - What a bargain!  3 plates matching our everyday stuff. 4 Square candles and a Habitat Candle plate, Christmas tag making craft set,Huge Cup and saucer, Gift pack of orange and ginger smellies,2 cushion covers,a book of Sudoku puzzles, handbag,marble pestle and mortar, Pack of peppermint tea bags, new jar of cinnamon, oil drizzle bottle, cross stitch kit and a paperback and a brand new hardback book by Elly Griffiths ( modern crime) which I have had on order from the library for months and I'm still about 10th on the list and last but not least 3 brand new T shirts with  Past Times labels. Nothing was  over £2 and as I said the total was £14.20p.( How many Christmas gifts can you buy for under £2 each?- There are 4 here)
I've filled in several more spaces in my Christmas book, which has spread the cost of Christmas and saved a lot of money.
 And now for something completely different.
This is something I heard early this morning on the radio. When I looked at this site there were already over 400 comments. It makes interesting and worrying reading.
Millions are borrowing money from friends or family or using credit cards to buy food. This is the findings of a Which Report http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22417334.
Now I must get busy as we have our son and girlfriend staying here and I'm doing a family dinner for 6 as our youngest daughter and her boyfriend will be coming around to join us. I found a recipe for a triple chocolate baked cheesecake - and have altered it by using all basics and value ingredients, we shall see what it is like.(Value bourbons,tubs of cream cheese and chocolate + our own free eggs of course ( we use the ones that we can't sell) The main course includes our own purple sprouting broccolli and home made vegetable pasties.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

The start of a Holiday weekend ( but not for us!)

There is one problem with earning a living in the tourist/growing things business - when everyone else is enjoying the Bank Holiday weekend and the better weather of May, we are running around in circles trying to catch up with jobs and looking after our visitors. BUT as I have no wish to work for someone else, self employment is really the best thing.
 Today apart from cleaning the campsite loos, collecting and sorting 8 dozen eggs and the usual house jobs, I've been potting up pumpkin, squash and tomato plants and planting out courgette plants into the garden. Him Outside put the red cabbage, calabrese and white cabbage plants out and planted the aubergines into the polytunnel.
Earlier this morning we zoomed to a car boot sale slightly further away than usual. It is only held on the first Saturday of the month from May to September and has different people there to our usual local booters. Him Outside got the best bargain again when he found a big set of screwdriver bits for the rechargeable drill/screwdriver thingy for 50p. Our conversation goes like this - Me -" haven't you got some of them already?" Him Outside - " Yes but they get lost/lose their points and I'm always needing them". Me - " I bet if you tidied up the workshop you would find some you didn't know you had" Him Outside - " I know where Everything is in there ". Me " Mmmmm Yes Dear". ( I can't understand how he finds anything in his muddle, so this is an oft repeated conversation!)
I found two cushions for £1 each virtually the same colours as one I had already which are the living room colours. I'm not sure that it's possible to make a new cushion for a pound? The one on the left is my original cushion that is the same as my curtains and on the right one of those bought today, - not a bad match at all. I also picked up another white pudding basin for 50p. I make several Christmas puddings which go into hampers for family members so pudding basins are always handy. We found a set of dominoes (50p) and a box of mixed board games (£1) to put in the campsite 'Recreation Room'. I'm really pleased with how it is looking in there. A really good place for groups or families to use if the weather is not to good. ( 5pm here and we have a huge downpour at the moment). I was also pleased with finding a brand new purse for £1.50  as mine is on its last legs, and I had been looking for one since the beginning of the car boot season.Finally I found a couple of paperbacks that look interesting for 20p each and a little notebook with space for inserting a small cross stitch picture for 10p This last one will be a present for a penfriend when I've done the cross stitch. So a good hour was spent and we were home in time for coffee.
We have an elderly friend who has been looking after the grass cutting at a second home close to us, but he now has to go into hospital for a new hip. So today Him Outside has been up to meet the home owners and will take over the grass cutting until Mr B is recovered enough although he is over 80 now so may not be able to tackle the work again. Seems awful to benefit from a friends hospitalisation.
That's me done for today. I hope your Bank Holiday Saturday has been just how you like it to be! Busy or restful?

Friday, 3 May 2013

I Don't usually buy these but......

I survived my long day sitting in a chilly village hall from 7am until 10pm. Election turn out was quite low, but of course as always someone arrived at 7am prompt and another couple arrived at 10 minutes to 10pm and dillied and dallied putting their crosses in the box. There are so many forms to fill in at the end and the Presiding officer then has to hurry with the box to the collection point. I only do polling clerk so just have to do the clearing up- taking down all the notices etc. and then thankfully home to bed.
Another lovely sunny day here but we can't shake off the cool wind. I expect it is warmer further inland.
The things that I don't usually buy are these -out of season plums flown here all the way from Chile. On the whole I try to eat things from this country in season, but this is the time of the year with so little fruit available that something is needed to add to tinned fruit for my daily fruit salad. There are only 5 plums in this punnet, but they are HUGE so I just need 1 a day, which is not too bad when chopped and added to half a tin of value mandarins, makes a good dish of fruit. I know an apple would be cheaper but after living on apples many years ago whilst being on a diet it put me right off them.
After taking this photo I then went around the garden taking some more pictures of things growing in the lovely sunny weather. First picture is some of our many gooseberry bushes. They are SO reliable and never let us down. Each year I pick and sell so many punnets - last year nearly 200! They are greening up nicely and soon I shall start checking for gooseberry sawfly , the tiny caterpillar things can decimate a gooseberry bush in no time.

This is our ancient Conference pear tree, always loaded with blossom, but doesn't have so many pears. Under the tree is our patch of Comfrey that we cut and soak to make liquid feed for the plants or we cut and add to the compost bins, where it acts as an accelerator.Below are the asparagus spears -such a delicious treat.Looks as if there are lots to cut for a meal tomorrow.
That's my lot for today, early night tonight, I never understand how sitting around all day makes a person so tired.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

More about the Ash Tree Die Back Disease

This picture was taken  a few days ago and shows how the newest polytunnel is coming along.  Just some trenches for burying the plastic in and another path needed. The plastic has arrived so we await a hot,still day to get it fixed.
We have such incredibly blue skies here today - fantastic. Though I've been in the kitchen most of the morning for bread, cake making and cleaning.
Thank you to Karen,sft,Trudie and Pam for messages left and for the commiserations re the loss of all the Ash Trees. We planted them in Jan 2011 so that whoever lived here in 30 years time would have fuel. Ash are best for burning as the can be coppiced and they re-grow from the base, plus the wood can be used green in necessary. They were OK the first year then looked very sad last year, we thought at first it was just the weather. Then came the bombshell news that a disease had spread here from Eastern Europe and attacks both young and older trees. Being on the East coast we are straight in the firing line for the spores. There are a huge amount of large mature Ash trees in Suffolk and it is going to have a devastating effect on the countryside. Larger trees take longer to die so we are shall be keeping a watch on the mature trees we have in the boundary hedge.The young saplings will be pulled up and burnt. We have no idea what we will fill the empty spaces with. Thankfully the 25 Hazel and 25 Silver birch plus the mix of other trees we planted 10 years ago are all looking OK.
Now I must go and sort out what I need for tomorrow for my long day out  - 15 hours sitting in a village hall with someone I have never met ! not a busy village so I doubt we will see many people. I have letters to write, a puzzle book, book and papers to read so should survive the day but it always takes me about 3 days to recover. ( On my way to training yesterday I noticed a poster for another Car boot on Saturday morning - so we might get to 3 this weekend - that should keep us busy!)

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