Recipes from my Suffolk Kitchen

Friday, 20 October 2017

The Joys of "Private Drainage" AKA..................

...........a septic tank.
(Health Warning - do not read if squeamish! You may feel ill after reading!)

We've had septic tank sewers in more homes and for more years than we've been on mains sewer. Trouble is that when there's a blockage it's up to us to sort it out (apart from calling out Dyna-rod I suppose).
So there we were on Wednesday morning getting ready to head out to see daughter, granddaughter and then back via Ipswich for Col's regular blood test, when he finds the loo hasn't flushed properly. Lift manhole cover nearest house.............Oh Yuck. Something not right, chuck buckets of water in, no movement. Climb into overalls (him) don rubber gloves (both) and fetch draining rods from shed. Fit draining rods together, shove down pipe. I'm instructed to peer in other manhole near septic tank to see if anything is moving. Well, it is but so slowly and it's not pretty! He chucks more water in, I flush loos, no sign of water at other end, pull out draining rods, find the twisty bit that fits on end, fit it on end and shove down pipe again. I'm at the other end again, still a bit slow. "Can I see end of draining rods?" "Well I could if it wasn't for the s**t!". He chucks more water in manhole. He goes to look at other manhole and decides to chuck buckets of water in there too while I'm at other end shoving draining rods in and out. At last we have movement and whooosh off it goes. Manhole nearest house all nice(?) and clear. Replace manhole covers.
Remove overalls and rubber gloves, have a good wash and try to get visions of  sludgy s**t out of  head.

Now a discussion on why this has, I am NOT using too much loo paper but there is probably not enough water going down drain because we are trying not to use so much water. When we wash the dishes we run the cold-before-it-gets-hot into a jug and use that for flushing loo and we have a short flush function on the new toilet. So trying to save water now we are on a meter means the drains might get blocked more often!
Oh Great Joy!!
The drainage is old, not enough fall from house to tank. Not a lot to be done unless a whole new drainage system is put in - a HUGE job that would be.

 We've  now bought a plunger bit that fits on the end of draining rods so they'll work better! I can see I'd better get used to this job just in case.

Thank you everyone for comments yesterday. I've not seen TV adaptations of any Mary Wesley books so I come to them unhindered by any knowledge of them. I watched Vera before reading any of the books so Brenda Blethyn is the only Vera I know, But I read some of the Shetland series before seeing them on TV and agree that Jimmy Perez in the book  doesn't look a bit like Douglas Henshall in the TV series, he should be dark and Spanish looking!

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Thursday, 19 October 2017

A Not Very Old Book and A New Book

book cover of Part of the Furniture
 Two books read last week.

First the not very old - actually only 1997 - Mary Wesley's "Part of the Furniture".

Juno Marlowe is an innocent 17 year old unwanted by  her mother and disliked by her Aunt. She has spent most of her time hanging around the neighbouring farms, worshiping two older boys........... although they usually fob her off to the farm-workers or game keeper. In 1939 they persuade her to see them off in London when they go to join the war effort. Not wanting to join up as virgins they use her without her even realising that it was virtually rape.

Juno doesn't want to follow her mother and her new husband to Canada so  waits in London for a refund for her boat ticket. Caught in an air-raid she is hauled in off the street by a very ill man who dies during the night after writing a letter to his father and asking her to deliver it. With the money from her refund and nowhere else to go she takes a train to Cornwall to deliver the letter. Here, because of her knowledge of farming - milking cows firstly - she is made welcome by Robert the farmer and his housekeeper Ann. At last she isn't just part of the furniture. There is much more to the story than that but I don't want to do a spoiler for people who've not read it.

Reading through what I've just written it sounds like far-fetched rubbish! But Mary Wesley doesn't write rubbish as I've only recently discovered. An interesting author who I knew nothing about until reading "The Camomile Lawn" last month. Her first novel was published when she was aged 70 and she then went on to write 10 best selling novels. After a strange upper-class childhood she married twice and was awarded the CBE. There is a good obituary of her HERE.

The new book was by Ann Cleeves. The 8th and latest in her crime series featuring Vera Stanhope. Of course now this series has been made into TV programmes starring Brenda Blethyn it's impossible to read the book without seeing Ms Blethyn in the roll.

book cover of The Seagull Set as usual in the North East of England, mostly in Whitely Bay this time.Vera visits the prison where a corrupt ex-policeman offers her information about a cold case involving  a missing man if she looks out for his daughter and grandchildren. Unfortunately for Vera the people involved were all friends of Hector, her late father, and uncovering the mystery of two bodies, a missing woman and the man now responsible for the regeneration project- who once ran a club called The Seagull- may lead her to things she would rather not know about.

It's quite a complicated book with lots of characters, I shall be interested to see how they shorten and change it when it's made for TV.

Two completely different books, both good in their own way.

Thank you for comments yesterday and I think follower numbers are up again so hello and welcome.

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Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Things I'm not used to.................

..................... getting up at 5am. and driving an hour and a bit in the dark and then another hour and a bit in the half-dark!

Colin had the sinus operation on Monday and had to be at Addenbrookes Hospital at 7.15am. Getting up at 5 is a bit of a shock to the system.........must be getting old.
We didn't know if he would have to stay in overnight so decided I'd drop him off at the door and go home again. Our DIL volunteered to pick him up if he was allowed out as she works about 35 minutes away from the hospital.
I came home through intermittent hail/rain storms that needed the windscreen wipers on extra fast speed. It was still very gloomy when I got home just after 8.15, we'd had hardly any rain here but then things brightened up and  sun came out and the wind got up. I did get the washing dry - but had to keep pegging bits back on the line.

Then we had the weird weather phenomenon that others have captured on their cameras, strange purple/red sky and the sun disappearing behind clouds of Saharan dust. I stood outside for a few minutes and wondered what our  ancestors would have thought......... no TV telling them about Storm Ophelia and sand dust being carried into the upper atmosphere!

Anyway, Col was allowed home and our lovely DIL fetched him back to their house when she finished work - and I went and collected him from there. The sun by that time was still looking a bit strange and huge, low and bright - horrible driving again.

Eventually home by 7pm, hopefully the sinus operation will stop the source of infection that's been a recurring problem all through his chemo treatment. Although he might have gone through it for nothing because the reason Ipswich hospital wouldn't do it was because they weren't sure it would be of any use! Ho Hum.

We both spent yesterday recovering  - him from the anesthetic and me from the early start and too much driving!

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Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Another Boot Sale Obviously

This time it was both of us who wanted to go to the big Saturday boot sale. Col wanted some wooden posts to raise the sides of the new raspberry bed. There's always a man there with a trailer load of cheap wood and trellising, and I just wanted to spot possible bargains.

The boot sale was HUGE, I think everyone was trying to make some cash for Christmas, so many toys as always. I really see no point in going and buying new toys for grandchildren at the ages they are when I can get 5 times more for my money at a boot might be different when they are older.
My finds this week were 6 small storage jars, some birthday candles shaped as cupcakes, a little glass lantern that holds a nightlight candle, a dolls buggy for Florence ready for when she's walking properly and a bell with a wintery picture ready for the winter mantle-piece (after Christmas). I also got a couple of small trailing ivy plants for planting in the pots on my shabby-chic ladder it was a big spend day......... totaling £9.50.......... the jars were new and 75p each and the lady wouldn't drop the price - meany!.................although goodness knows why I'm moaning as they are over £2 each from a shop. 😊

Col got the wood posts and has added them to the edges of the new raspberry bed so it can hold a bit more soil and compost and to stop the grass creeping in over the top. I'll be ordering some raspberry canes soon. Summer fruiting for this bed and then autumn fruiting for half of the old fruit bed when it's cleared and after the tree people have been and cut down the overhanging Ash branches........this week we hope.

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Monday, 16 October 2017

The First of the Christmas Craft Fairs

THIS company

have a ton of lovely stuff crammed into this building.  The lady started by just supplying flower arranging stuff. She worked out of a port-a-cabin based  on a farm, then they grew and grew. There are just two problems, when anybody is standing looking at stuff on the shelves there is no room to squeeze by and some things are a bit pricey - but that's probably just me being tightfisted !

Anyway, when I went there a few weeks ago because I'd run out of jam jars, I picked up a leaflet about their Christmas Fair and thought I'd go and have a look.

They had a big marquee up for the stalls

I'm afraid I'm not very helpful to crafters as I tend to look around and think either
1. I could do it myself
2. Everything looks a bit tacky......not a fan of knitted cakes!
3. Everything is too expensive (and before anyone says it, I know the amount of hours that goes into to handmade)
or 4. I could find this somewhere secondhand!

I rather liked the Christmas bunting hanging on the front of the stall in the centre but, oddly, they didn't have anything similar for sale, just bunting where all the triangles were made of the same material rather than mixed fabrics......... bit boring.

Then I went into the shop- it's just such a treasure trove that it's overwhelming. This is their Christmas room

Everything you ever needed to decorate or make anything you can think of!

and the above is a view down one of the aisles. They also have a room full of ribbon, another room full of everything you need for sugar-craft and cake making, a massive range of stuff for weddings and tons of bits for flower arranging and every thing you can think of for packaging anything! Luckily they don't stock many card making bits, but even without that it would be very simple to spend several hundred pounds.
I didn't! Just something for the Halloween and then the Christmas mantle-piece..............under £5..

Thanks for comments on Saturday and hello to more new followers - Welcome.

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Saturday, 14 October 2017

Trees From the Auction

Col had made some more tree protectors and was keen to get a few more trees for his Birthday Wood so he could get them planted before going into hospital for the stem cell treatment.
He thought of the Auction rooms at Diss who sometimes have plants as part of their outside sale and had a look on line and found they had some good sized conifers. So we pootled off up there yesterday and waited for the things we wanted to come up
Col waiting!

and came home with these.

  2 Picea Hoopsii  (Extremely prickly Blue Spruce) a  Silver Van Tol Holly and because no one else wanted it Col also bid on a Weeping Pussy Willow which he got for £2. There was a Monkey Puzzle Tree too but it was only a foot tall and still went for a lot more than we were willing to pay and also some nice little Yew trees but they were selling in lots of 16 trees - rather more than we wanted.

That really does mean we only have room now for Silver Birch.........probably.

Had a glance around the inside rooms at the junk type furniture stuff and the posher antiquey things but nothing we wanted and anyway we had to hurry home as Col was out in the afternoon at the leaving do for one of the blokes he used to work with.

Thanks for comments on the pear harvest and hello and welcome to two new followers.

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Friday, 13 October 2017

Pear Harvest

We've had more pears from the two small trees here than we ever got from the three larger trees at the smallholding.
The pears from the early tree were eaten or frozen a few weeks ago but the windy weather has been knocking pears from the later tree at the rate of 3 or 4 a day. So we decided to pick them all off and prepare them for the freezer.
I thought they were Conference but now I'm not sure as they are ripening too quickly and they are quite plump.
Gorgeously juicy and 4 bags of peeled and cored pears have gone into the freezer. That, sadly, is almost the last of the fruit from the garden. Just a few small late apples left on the family tree. I think Autumn Raspberries must go on the wanted list.

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Thursday, 12 October 2017

And Again

Another Jolly Jumble last Saturday and another car-boot sale on Sunday. We headed out to one jumble and found another on the way. All I got from the one we knew about was a new set (pair?) of nutcrackers for 20p but at the first I found the DVD of the recent film - Their Finest -  for 50p and the heavy glass sundae dish also 50p, Col found a book he'd not seen for another 50p. I didn't realise Their Finest was based on the book "Their Finest Hour and a Half" by Lissa Evans which I've already read a few years ago. No wonder the film sounded vaguely familiar when it was trailed on TV earlier this year. I think John Grey might have done a review of it on his blog too.

It's getting to the end of car boot season at our local one and most of the people there are just the regulars but we picked up these few useful bits. The wooden toy with push round pegs (20p) is for Florence (I'll save that for Christmas as it's in lovely condition) as are the board books (£1 the lot). The handy thing being that she'll have grown out of these by the time grandchild  #3 will be old enough and they can be passed on. The box of individually wrapped Christmas candles were £1 and I'll add a couple to the hampers and Col picked up the golf-ball radish seeds for 50p a pack. Hope the man with boxes full of T&M seeds will be there next week so I can take my seed list and see what else we can get cheap.

I do love picking up little things for the grandchildren just wished we saw more of Jacob. They were due to be up from Surrey next weekend but change of plan at  J's work has put paid to that. Hope they get here before Col goes in for the stem cell treatment. I'm pleased that we'll have 2 grandchildren in Suffolk when Son and DIL's littl'un arrives next year.

Apologies to folk who saw this post when it escaped on Sunday. I had to tether it back again, so it became "doesn't exist" and thanks for comments this week, I discovered lots of comments on the Hares post that I'd not noticed so apologies for not replying. Also Big welcome to follower 216. Hi, hope you enjoy reading.

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Wednesday, 11 October 2017

More Trees for the Wood.

Having planted the tree seedlings that we already had in pots, see HERE . We went out and spent some of the money Col had for his birthday last March. He was keen to get some trees planted before he vanishes away into hospital, so we bought trees in pots as bare rooted aren't available until the end of November.

One Sweet Chestnut, One Himalayan Birch, 2 Scots Pine, 2 Holly and 2 Christmas Trees. Later in the year we'll get 10 bare rooted Silver Birch, which can be planted just by making  big  T shaped cuts in wet ground with a sharp spade and then heel them in where the two lines meet. Then we'll see what else we have room for.

Col made more tree protectors from a roll of plastic wind protection fencing that was left here by Mrs F. and cut stakes to hold up the plastic from wood that was also left here. 

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Tuesday, 10 October 2017


We often see  hares here, until you see one close you don't realise just how big they are. I've found out more about them from this lovely book

The first book I read by this author was" A Wild Life; A Year of Living on Wild Food" which he wrote in 2009 after spending a year eating only the food he could shoot, catch or forage on his farm. I tried to read Meadowland in 2014 but for some reason just didn't get on with it so I wasn't sure I would enjoy this, his most recent book. However it was a lovely read, making me remember why I used to read a lot of Country writing.
 Lewis-Stempel wants to take an  arable field, farm it in the old fashioned way and then plant wild flowers in among the wheat. His aim is to find out which birds and animals he will attract, ones usually not seen on arable fields that are treated with chemicals. He starts with a bird table in the field and then someone who traps hares deliver some to the field, so his aim is to keep them there.
Along the way he finds out more about hares and the folklore and mystery surrounding them and  remembers his country childhood.

A short, quick and interesting read.

Thank you for comments about schooldays. 

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Monday, 9 October 2017


I love living back in Mid Suffolk!

While searching online for events happening around about I noticed that Wetherden History Group were having an open afternoon with displays about the history of the primary school. That's where I went between 1960 and 1966 and because Col went to secondary school in the area he was at school later with people from my primary school and he had cousins at the school in the 1970's so he came to have a look too.
The school was only a tiny school. 50 pupils there when I attended and just 6 in my year group. Later in the 1980s it got down to just 24. Then the school closed and became a nursery school and playgroup but now it's closed completely.
Sadly there is just one photo from the time I was there,of a new head teacher when she started, no class photos, no school records - Nothing. Although Col found his cousins on later photos.

The year after I left the school celebrated it's centenary and a few photos of the celebrations appeared in the local paper.
I only took my phone and the pictures didn't come out very well.

There were just two people looking round that I knew. One, also a Sue, was a few years older but still lives in the village and was able to tell me about some of the people I knew. Sadly she'd just last week been to a funeral of one of the boys in this photo and told me of one other who had died last year. The other person looking round was friend W from the Suffolk Smallholders Society who is much younger than me and was one of the last children at the school when it closed.

I don't have many memories of my primary school years but they are all happy ones.Must have learned something because I passed the 11plus and went off to Grammar school in September '66. Quite a change from a small school of 50 to a big school of 500. No introductory days back then just thrown straight in on the first day of term and the only people I knew were one boy the same age as me who also passed and a couple of older boy neighbours.

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Saturday, 7 October 2017

That Woman has been Spending at Boot Sales Again!

Yep, 'fraid so.

Midweek car boot on the way to elsewhere

Christmas tissue paper 50p. Kirstie Allsop's Christmas craftbook 50p and a new bright pink hat for me £2.
My warmest lined Thinsulate hat went missing somewhere last winter leaving me with two thin hats, this is a lined one - have to be careful in cold winds or my ears start humming - which is not nice. Not sure about the bobble!

Many Thanks for comments about simple cleaning. Seems lots of people don't like the strong smell of detergents, I suppose somebody must be buying them!

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Friday, 6 October 2017

Simple Cleaning

How many different cleaning products are on the supermarket shelves? I haven't counted but if you put Household Cleaning in MySupermarket for one supermarket it comes up with 249, put in Laundry and there are 300 products, Dishwashing has 62 listed.  I'm so glad I don't have to search through all that lot.

I  limit the number of things I use for cleaning as it saves money and effort  but I'm not keen enough to make all my own - I'd rather be reading.

Bicarb is used for lots of jobs along with Ecover washing up liquid and Ecover Laundry liquid and Washing Soda Crystals, plus white vinegar.

 I bulk buy bicarb and have just ordered a big tub via ebay. Last time I bought a big amount -  about 5+ years ago, it came in a huge bag and I then had to go out and buy a big lock and lock box to store it in which rather defeated the saving money aim! That box is now in use for craft stuff so I made a point of getting a tub  this time.

Washing soda crystals come from Wilkinsons where they are £1 for 1.5 kilo, even cheaper than on line I think. I like Ecover products as they don't irritate my skin and don't have a strong smell, last a long while and no nasty chemicals to upset the septic tank. Now I have room to store things I've just bought Ecover non-bio laundry liquid in bulk - enough to last me well over a year but much cheaper than supermarket prices - if they actually even have it in stock when I need it. I use a tiny bit of Ecover liquid and add a good scoop of soda crystals. I can't stand the smell of washing powders - so strong. Some peoples houses smell so much of soap powder that I have to change clothes when I get home! We were given a Christmas present once that must have been in a cupboard with soap powder, we had to stand it out in the garage all winter before it lost it's really strong smell.

I thought I'd found somewhere for cheap but good quality white vinegar that could be used for cooking and cleaning but then with delivery costs it was more expensive than buying from a supermarket. The only place with 5L of Sarsons was Ocado but then you have to have £40 worth of stuff to get a delivery. Some of the cheap vinegar isn't good enough quality for preserving, there's not enough acid in it. So cheap supermarket own brand for cleaning and Sarsons for pickling.
 We have very hard water in most parts of Suffolk causing lime-scale - it's a real nuisance and even bicarb made into a paste and left on doesn't always shift it. Ecover Limescale remover works well.

I knit dishcloths for doing the washing up and use rags - which are quite often old tea-towels torn in half  or old dish cloths that have gone grey -  for cleaning jobs.

Returning Soonish

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Library Books and Health Update

Last Thursday was library van day and I picked up another good pile of books to read that I'd ordered and I have two left from 4 weeks ago too, so no shortage of reading matter.

9 crime in this lot.....blimey.  Also have another book about growing cut flowers - although my cutting garden is 6 foot x 6 foot whereas Sarah Ravens is 40 foot by 80 foot!
I specially requested the book about Will Scott, the author of childrens books in the 50's and 60's which I loved to read.
The Flexible Vegetarian is a bit posh for my humble kitchen, there won't be any recipes copied form this book although everything looks delicious there is too much faffing and prepping!

I took the book by Ann Granger with me to hospital last week and almost finished it due to all the sitting about waiting so hope to get through all this lot by the end of the month.

And on the subject of hospitals, Col's health and the Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma we now know more of what's happening at last. He is to have a day-surgery operation on his sinuses in a couple of weeks time. This will remove a source of infection that has been a big problem throughout his chemo and previous treatment. Then after a few weeks to get over that he will go in again to Addenbrookes - probably towards the end of November for a  week of different chemo before the donor goes in and donates stem cells which are then given to Col the next day. Then its an up and down bumpy road to recovery and hopefully out of hospital before Christmas..... Sounds like a plan. Hope it goes according to schedule but after the horrible time he had in Ipswich when he had the ordinary stem cell for nearly 8 weeks instead of  four weeks - we just never know.

Thanks for comments about moving/not moving. Col's dad only ever lived in two houses in adjoining villages all his life and my Mum and Dad only lived in two houses - on the same plot of land in 40 years both families thought we were odd because we kept moving but we were always climbing the property ladder with the smallholding at the top! As someone always says " good thing we're not all the same".
Mustn't forget to say Welcome to a new follower - Hi.

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Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Where We Once Lived

Last Saturday there was a garage sale event in the village where we lived in the 80's, it's only a couple of miles away so we went to have a look.
We were expecting about 30 houses in the village to have sales but there were only a dozen so it didn't take long to look round. I got a couple of things for grandchildren for £2.20 ( I think Jacob will love that lift out shape puzzle) Book and cars for Florence - she's 1 next week -good grief!

and a box of  3½ dozen new small jars - with lids for £2. Col said they might come in handy for miniature portions of marmalade, I think they would sell well somewhere else! The David Gentleman book for £1 which will go in my next Ziffit box as it's worth nearly £4 to them.

I took a couple of photos of the places we lived, everywhere looks a bit untidy and run-down now, even the village sign needs a coat of paint.
This is where we lived between 1980 and 83. There was quite a community of mums with young children who used to play on this area. The houses were built in the 70s so were fairly new then. Now the whole road just looks very tatty.
Between 1983 and 1986 we lived in the next village where we renovated an old house before moving back to this bungalow at the end of a close, where we stayed for five years between 1986 and 1991. Cars parked everywhere and new houses squashed into small spaces is the overall impression of the village.
 What was strange was how many people we saw who still live in the same houses they lived in back then whereas we've been right across to the Suffolk coast for 23 years and then back again. I'm so glad we didn't stay in the village and wouldn't want to live there now, much too busy!

Thanks for comments and thoughts on the frugal bits of September in yesterdays post.

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Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Was There Anything Frugal in September?

3rd of the month already so better look back to September's accounts.......................... was anything frugal?

Reading Library books for free.

First of the butternut squash ready to eat. The rest brought in to store

Put some red peppers from the greenhouse into the  freezer and used others fresh all month.

 Tomatoes from the greenhouse all month.

Beetroot and Runner beans from the garden all month

Eating our own apples and pears all month, lots of apples and pears prepared for freezer.

Picked nearly 4lb of blackberries and put in freezer. Picked another 4lb and made blackberry and apple jam.

Dried some eating apples

Sorted through boxes of books under the stairs and found £14 worth to send to Ziffit (these were books Ziffit didn't want last year and hadn't sold at the car boot)

Col took small load of bits of metal scrap to scrap-yard - just over £11 income

To make a space for the Egg Safe I decided to cull my recipe books. Ziffit again and River Cottage Veg sold for £4.29 - A lot more than I paid for it at a car boot sale or a charity shop. I photocopied several recipes from it first. Bought this practically new book  below at a charity shop for 50p, found I'd already borrowed it from Library

Cover - sold on Ziffit for £2.40! Total for 2nd parcel sent  = £21

Bought a warm tunic top from charity shop for £4 and one off ebay for £5.

Made Sweetcorn relish and Red Onion Sweet "Marmalade"chutney.

Took packed-up lunch and flask when we went to Addenbrookes Hospital - twice.

Another load of small off-cuts of wood from Col's brother - they filled a builders bag.

A couple of small gifts for Christmas from car-boot sales and toys for grandchildren.

Jammed my finger in the old broken metal linen line prop and moaned so loudly that at last Col cut me a bit from the willows to use instead! ....................Tumble dryer not used all month

Cut scrap wood for kindling and picked up fallen bits from Ash trees too.

Even with the Chinese take-away on our wedding anniversary food spending was below budget thanks to our own apples and pears so not needing to buy any fruit most of month.

Had the bill for the new heating-oil tank, setting it up, moving the oil over and testing = Huge Bill
Car Repairs that Col couldn't do -twice and the MOT.
Boiler went haywire so had to have minor repair..... no bill yet.
Spent a lot at the big second-hand book sale (have entered it under charity in the accounts!!)
Too much spent on diesel with 2 trips to Addenbrookes hospital and 2 to Ipswich hospital as well as visiting granddaughter and several car boot sales and the book sale.

Even with those outgoings it was a much better month all round and without the car and heating oil we would be laughing (but also isolated and cold!)

Many Thanks for comments yesterday

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Monday, 2 October 2017

October Days


 Fresh October brings the pheasants,
Then to gather nuts is pleasant.

 October was called Wynmonarth by the Anglo-Saxons - the wine making month

A Good October and a good blast
Will blow the hog his acorns and mast

 Villagers in the past relied on pannage - the law allowing them access to the woods for their pig - so they could fatten on acorns and beech mast before being killed next month.

Pale amber sunlight falls across
The reddening October trees,
That hardly sway before a breeze,
As soft as summer: summer's loss
Seems little, dear, on days like these!
                                                                                            Ernest Dowson 

 St Luke's Day is the 18th of October and there is often a spell of fine,sunny weather at this time which is known as St. Luke's little summer.

There are lots of old weather sayings, no idea if they are right or wrong!

Hard frosts in October means we'll have a mild January

For every fog in October there will be snow in winter  

Full moon in October without frost, no frost until full moon in November 

 Then of course there is Halloween on the 31st. Not something that was celebrated when I was little or even in the 1970's. When I worked on a mobile library in around 1977ish one of our stops was by a USAF housing estate and I can remember seeing all their houses decorated with pumpkins, lights and pictures of ghosts and thinking how odd that was. Now the shops are stocked with imported junk since the beginning of the month!

We were much more interested  in Guy Fawkes night - as the 5th of November was called back in the day.

This is the October page of my Country Diary of an Edwardian Lady colouring book.

I traced the picture onto my new watercolour paper pad and then looked in the Edwardian Lady Diary book to find her original only to find that the picture on the right for October isn't taken from one page of the book but put together from 3 different paintings.
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I started painting the tracing (which is back to front because I couldn't be bothered to go over it twice) with my watercolour pencils but got the colours of the birds all wrong. Even with my tin of 40 colours I didn't have anything pale enough for the birds which are supposed to be Yellow Hammers! Ha!
At least the Elderberries look right, except that by October Elderberries are all gone. Perhaps the climate has changed since Edwardian times.

 I shall have another go with the water-colour pencils for Novembers picture.

Many thanks for all the comments on Saturdays post and hello and welcome to 3 new followers.

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Saturday, 30 September 2017

Down the Lane Again and onto the Meadow

Down the lane again on the last day of September
I took these photos on Thursday while the sun was shining. The tree with the most colour is the Sumac or "vinegar" tree in our front garden.
The leaves are coming off the Poplars very early.

 Somewhere in one of my books is a  list of the order in which trees lose their leaves each year. I shall have a search for it.
 Spotted a few late blackberries - still looking OK, so went back down the lane after the photos and picked them to add to a few more windfall apples for Col's dessert.

Loads of flowers on the Ivy, at the moment they smell quite sweet but the smell won't be so good later! Ivy Flowers are quite important for some bees and butterflies as they are a nectar source available late in the season.

Talking trees, Col has been making some tree guards and stakes so that we can begin to plant some more trees on our meadow. We've got 2 walnut, a holly and a hazel in pots that can go out already and while he was working out where to put them he found another walnut that a squirrel had planted a while ago.

He got the young trees planted and protected yesterday morning before leaving home just before 12
  to  go to Addenbrookes hospital, where he thought he was just having a CT scan (for both the stem-cell doctor and the ENT doctor). But then we got told the ENT doctor who we saw last time wanted to see him to check the scan results and then he was told they would do a sinus operation (Ipswich hospital  said he didn't need one) before the stem cell transplant and he got sent  to pre-op assessment  and another then a blood test. So it was after 7pm before we got home, 2 hours later than we thought.
Fed up with hospitals and waiting - we've become experts at the art of patience!

Anyway now we can sort out what other trees to plant to make Col's Birthday Wood. There's room for about 15 or 20 trees. Silver Birch - definitely, a few pines of some sort, maybe some Sweet Chestnut and more Holly. It will be fun choosing.

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Friday, 29 September 2017

Michaelmas and Free Heat

Whosoever eats goose on Michaelmas Day
Shall never lack money his debts for to pay.

29th September is one of the Quarter days when farm tenants would pay their rent and farm workers could change jobs.
The traditional meal for the feast on this day was a roast goose, fattened on the stubble fields after harvest.

Another saying  for the 29th is
If St Michael brings acorns down, snow will cover the fields at Christmas.

We've already had a lot of windy weather this month and some chilly evenings  too
I thought we had plenty of wood in the shed to last us through, but we've already had the woodburner alight a few evenings. Luckily, since this photo was taken Col has cut up more of the logs that were taken down last March  and we have tree surgeons due to cut down more Ash later in the autumn so plenty of wood.

This is the well known poem to remember what to burn...................

Beechwood fires are bright and clear
If the logs are kept a year,
Chestnut's only good they say,
If for logs 'tis laid away.
Make a fire of Elder tree,
Death within your house will be;
But ash new or ash old,
Is fit for a queen with crown of gold

Birch and fir logs burn too fast
Blaze up bright and do not last,
it is by the Irish said
Hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread.
Elm wood burns like churchyard mould,
E'en the very flames are cold
But ash green or ash brown
Is fit for a queen with golden crown

Poplar gives a bitter smoke,
Fills your eyes and makes you choke,
Apple wood will scent your room
Pear wood smells like flowers in bloom
Oaken logs, if dry and old
keep away the winter's cold
But ash wet or ash dry
a king shall warm his slippers by.

No mention of Willow which we have a lot of, but stored at the back of the shed for next winter.

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Thursday, 28 September 2017

Propped up

The small apple tree and the Conference pear tree had, sometime in the past, both been clipped by a mower which had pushed them over , there was no way to cut the grass underneath them.
 The apples had finished on the little tree, no idea what variety they were but definitely an early sort that soon went woolly, so Col banged in a stake one side and a prop on the other and then pulled the apple up and tied it to the stake with an old bit of rag.

The Conference pear tree is also leaning badly but the pears aren't ready yet so the tree is just propped up at the moment.
 Col picked all the  pears from the other bigger pear tree as they were falling fast - he got a whole trug full - they don't keep, so apart from a few to eat in the next few days, the rest have gone in the freezer.
Next time the  little mower is out we'll be able to get right under the little trees.

Thanks for the good wishes for our Son and Daughter in Law and their new arrival due April, we are very excited that all of our children will be parents soon. As they are also in Suffolk and nearer than youngest daughter we hope to see lots of this grandchild. We don't get to see grandson from Surrey very often and every photo shows him growing up so quickly.

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Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Exciting News on the Grandchildren Front

Good news................... our 3rd Grandchild is on the way, which is why I also got these from the jumble sale a couple of weeks ago but didn't put them on the blog as our Son and Daughter in Law wanted to wait until after her first scan before telling everyone.
When the new arrival appears in early April, our eldest daughter's son Jacob will be nearly 2 and youngest daughter's daughter Florence will be 1½. What Fun there will be in a few years time when all 3 cousins get together!

Poor daughter in law has been feeling a bit rough and I didn't help by telling her how I sailed through all 3 pregnancies without even feeling sick!

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Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Veggie burgers

When I put the picture of homemade bread rolls/buns/baps and the recipe on the blog a few weeks ago I mentioned a recipe for Veggie burgers I'd tried. I've now done it again....twice.... so can give a better idea of amounts used.
This is a recipe I altered a bit from something found on a vegetarian website. The first time I tried them I made about 10 smaller patties/burgers,but they weren't really big enough for a meal then I tried again and made 7 but decided they didn't have enough flavour. So I added more curry powder and a chopped red chili.

They are not particularly adventurous  or unique but tasty and nicer than bought ones.

I used

4oz mixed nuts nuts} whizzed in a food processor
4oz breadcrumbs     } ditto
 About 8oz of cauliflower or broccoli ( I used some from a mixed packet of frozen, defrosted and cooked for a while then water removed) chopped into small bits.
1 onion chopped fine } Cooked these together in the microwave in a spot of butter for a few minutes
2 carrots grated          }         until softened.
1 Red chilli pepper chopped fine
Lots Ground Black pepper
2 teaspoons curry powder
Big Tablespoon of tomato puree
1 egg beaten.

Mix everything together then form into 7 flattish burgers
Line a baking tray with non-stick baking parchment, put burgers on tray and pop tray in fridge for a while.
Bake at about 6 gas. or Whatever that is in F or C.

Serve in a homemade bap/bun/roll with some homegrown lettuce and tomato and homemade relish.

The rest were popped in the fridge and we had them reheated with salad stuff but without the baps for lunches.

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Monday, 25 September 2017

A Book Sale in the Middle of Nowhere

Picture From Suffolk Churches Website

St James South Elmham has the highest church in the county and is  in an area called The Saints near Halesworth in North Suffolk. There are lots of other Saints out there in this remote bit of Suffolk. St Margaret South Elmham, St Cross South Elmham, St Micheal South Elmham, All Saints South Elmham, St Peter South Elmham. Plus... Ilketshall St Lawrence,  Ilketshall St Margaret, Ilketshall St John and Ilketshall St Andrew.

The lanes are winding and narrow and it's easy to get lost. Not for Colin though because after being a bridge inspector for so many years he easily knows his way round most of East Suffolk.

Anyway, all that preamble is to say that every year they have a big book sale in aid of all the churches. We didn't go last year as it's a bit of a trek from Ipswich and Col was still poorly after his 7 weeks in hospital.

It was certainly in my diary to visit  this year. As usual the village hall was packed with books and people
Just after 10am before it got really crowded
 These came home with me this year and I just knew it was going to be a good sale when the first book I noticed when I walked in was another Persephone book for my collection.

To make things easier they charge £1 for hardbacks and 50p for paperbacks which means The Far Cry by Emma Smith was  50p. .....Bargain!

What a good thing I've sold a few more books to Ziffit this month........may need to sell a few more as the big NSPCC second-hand book sale in Colchester is only a month away.

Welcome to a new follower and thanks for lots of comments about technology, cars and chocolate oranges!

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Saturday, 23 September 2017

Just Too Technical other stuff

I mentioned that we had to have a new heating oil tank as the one here was very old, not bunded (double skinned) and too close to the garage for modern regulations. New oil tanks come with a transmitter that tells a plug in sensor indoors the amount of oil left and  if someone is stealing your oil. Unfortunately this little bit of technology can go haywire and emit a LOUD alarm even if your tank is full and nobody is there nicking it.
Don't you just love technology.
So many things that didn't need electricity now have lights or clocks, heavens know where all our electric will come from when we all have to have electric cars.

 We had a phone call, with just one days notice, to go to Addenbrookes so that their ENT department can check that he really doesn't need a sinus operation before his donor stem-cell transplant which is what Ipswich ENT decided after tests there two weeks ago. Ho Hum, and our little car is in the garage where they are trying to sort out what the whining noise is so we had to take the Hyundai which uses more fuel, but we took a pack up lunch of course so saved that expense. The Hyundai is going to fail it's MOT in January - the sub frame or something so we need to sort out another car soon. Serious illness with only one car won't work.
Hopefully by the time we see his consultant  at Addenbrookes  in early October they'll have made a date for him and the donor to go in and he can get started on the bumpy road to recovery.

We stopped at Tesco's  for milk on the way home from Cambridge   and I saw they had chocolate oranges on offer......Buy 1 and get 2 Free, how weird is that. So I did and they will be added to Christmas gift hampers. Buy the look of the huge almost empty box on the pallet, everyone will be finding chocolate oranges in the stockings this year!

Back Monday

Friday, 22 September 2017

A Few Cheap Meals

A few cheap meals from earlier this month..........each serves 2

 Main meal #1
Grilled Bacon and Courgette Fritters
Bacon - from ¼ pack of the cheap bits (670g is £1.50)from Sainsburys (170g approx 40p) served  with courgette fritters.Courgettes home grown, egg =16p, flour is pennies, chives  for seasoning also home grown, Black pepper = pennies. With Heinz  tomato sauce - very cheap from Approved Foods 700g for £1.49.
Approx total  80p

Main meal #2
Toad in the hole. 4 sausages taken from pack of local sausages from Co-op.(on offer 2 packs of 8 for £5) bought using divi of £3 and a local produced voucher for 50p. So cost £1.50 for 16 sausages. Therefore 4 were under 40p. Batter mix = flour = pennies, milk = 5p ,egg =16p. Served with roast mixed veg (courgette homegrown, carrot approx 10p, potatoes homegrown,beetroot homegrown).
Approx total  £1

Main meal #3
Tomato,bacon and Basil Sauce with pasta. Bacon - ¼ pack as above 40p, Tin of tomatoes = Morrisons value price 25p, Good squirt of tomato puree = Aldi(37p) approx  ¼ tube 9p, Onions 2 small from 1kg bag (55p) 10p, desert-spoon dark brown sugar (Aldi 500g 69p)  = pennies. Basil =homegrown. Pasta penne (Aldi 500g =29p) =  approx 10p
Approx total £1.10

Main meal#4
Sag Aloo
Red Lentils 50g =7p (Lidl 69p for 500g), 250g potatoes - Homegrown.Half red pepper - homegrown, 250g frozen spinach leaf = 25p( Morrisons £1.50 1kg),2 small onions as above 10p. Seasonings - garam masala,ginger,pepper,salt + rape seed oil approx 20p. With rice  15p (Aldi 89p kg)
Approx total 90p

Main Meal #5
Cauliflower Cheese
 Cauliflower = 45p (60p from carboot sale). Cheese sauce made with ½ pint milk and 2 tablespoons of cornflour + ground black pepper =pennies and 125g Extra Mature cheddar 60p. Served with chips - potatoes homegrown.
Approx total  £1.15

 I think that these are cheap but I'm sure someone will do even better!

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Thursday, 21 September 2017


Suffolk East Federation WI News - a Monthly magazine for members
 The speaker at this months meeting was a lady who is very involved with a charity called Street Kids Direct.
She used to be a member of our WI until moving away and was pleased to see that there were more members than there used to be.
Street Kids Direct works to help the poorest children of Guatemala City. There are an unknown number of children living on the streets and many more in shanty towns on the edge of the city. On the streets they are abused, become drug dependent and prostitutes or gang members and their life expectancy is just 4 years.
Living in our soft comfortable Suffolk cocoon, we knew nothing of a life where every business pays protection money and almost everyone carries a gun and a knife. The rich live in gated communities that they never need to leave while the poor scavenge on rubbish tips.
The charity have one person there all the time and other volunteers go out to help. They spend time with the children playing games and just generally letting them be children again for a while.
They've got a centre where the kids can go and hope to have a safe house so that kids who report abuse have somewhere safe to stay until they can be found a new home because at the moment they are returned to their homes or soon murdered!.......... no Social Services there.
The volunteers usually get involved through their local churches, they don't ask for payment for speaking but we had a Bring and Buy Sale to raise some funds.

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Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Sweetcorn Relish

When we had my home made veggie/nut burgers the other week, Col said "any sweetcorn relish?"
There wasn't, but now there is.
This is a variation of piccalilli, using a tin of sweetcorn and red, green and chili peppers from the greenhouse. The recipe is on the separate recipe page - scroll down nearly to the end.

 By the way, I've not forgotten about putting the veggie burger recipe on the blog but I want to try it just one more time and get a bit more flavour ooommmph  into them.

Back Tomorrow

Tuesday, 19 September 2017


"It is, in my view, the duty of an apple to be crisp and crunchable, but a pear should have such a texture as leads to silent consumption".

So said Edward Bunyard author of The Anatomy of Dessert, a book written in 1929  (which I haven't got! but read this quote in another cookery book. Bunyard was the son of a Kentish nurseryman who bred and sold fruit trees and bushes, amongst other stuff; there is still "Bunyard's Exhibition" broad bean.)

The pears on one of our small trees look awful, spotted with brown and black, but under the peel they are OK.

Sad Pears
We've been picking up windfall pears from this tree to eat  and some have been soft and juicy while others are hard and just a bit gritty proving another quote from the same book  " A pear is only truly delicious for 10 minutes!".
We know from the shape of them that the other pear tree is a Conference and none have fallen yet - so they will be ready later than this unknown variety.
According to my River Cottage Fruit book, you have to pick pears when they are hard and then ripen them in a cool, dark dry place until they are almost ready  and then bring them into the house a few days before you want to eat them. How you judge all this when they look so poor anyway is anybodies guess!

I used most of the above pears to make a caramelised pear upside-down sponge cake/dessert. The pears were peeled and cored and cut into small bits and cooked in a little butter and sugar until they were golden and sticky. Then I put them in a baking tin which I'd lined with parchment and made up a sponge mixture (eggs,butter,sugar and SR flour) to put on top. Cooked until the sponge was done and turned out onto a plate.
Should have used more pears but otherwise looks tasty. This will be Col's dessert through the week.
While the oven was on I also made a pepper, onion and cheese quiche for two days dinners and cooked some chicken thighs for the rest of the weeks lunch-time sandwiches.

Thanks for comments about the jumble sale finds
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Monday, 18 September 2017

A Jolly Jumble Sale

It was quite a treat to find there was a jumble sale happening not too far away, they are such a rare occurrence nowadays. Had to go and have a look and so did about 30 other people..........most were ahead of me in the queue!

Just a few treasures
The Chicken cupboard holds 12 eggs and was £1 - that will make a bit more space in our fridge. The Candle-stick was 20p - for my spring mantle piece (just need a green or yellow candle). The pretty china trio were 60p. The little cat book by Doris Lessing  was 10p, I shall pass that to a friend for Christmas and I paid 50p for the very large book (originally £30!) ......Clive Aslett - Villages of Britain;The 500 Villages That Made the Countryside. Now if ever there was any truth in the saying "never judge a book by it's cover" this book proves it. The cover is intriguing harvesting with scythes, horse and cart, haystacks, the manor house with pigs in a sty,  But the villages featured are chosen simply for a story of something that happened there, usually something that hit the headlines of local newspapers, but I can't really see how a murder from the 1800's "Made the Countryside"? Nothing much in the book about the actual village. Anyway, I shall have a look through and pop it in the book box under the stairs ready for the next car-boot sale we do.

I'll keep a look out for more Jumbles during the Autumn, now we are in the middle of Suffolk rather than on the edge, there ought to be more to go to.

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Saturday, 16 September 2017

What Will Our Garden Grow in 2018?

The first two seed catalogues have arrived
Time to look through the seed tin to see what we need for 2018.

First a look back at what we grew from seed this year
In the greenhouse
Sweet Peppers 
Chili Peppers 
Salad Leaf
French Climbing Beans
Runner Beans
Butternut Squash
Mange Tout Peas
Few Early and Second Early Potatoes
We also bought plants of
Brussels Sprouts (Lost all these when they were accidentally sprayed with weed killer!)
Purple Sprouting Broccoli
And a Spring Cabbage/Cauliflower Collection of 16 plants

On the whole I think we choose right when deciding what to grow in a much smaller area than we had at the smallholding. We didn't bother with carrots, parsnips and onions which are probably the cheapest vegetables to buy, and peas and sweetcorn which are cheaper and just as good to buy frozen.
The second sowing of French Climbing beans and Mange Tout peas didn't do well - successional sowing doesn't seem to work well in Suffolk as it always seems to be too dry at the wrong time.
Trying to squeeze so many things into the greenhouse wasn't entirely successful and  the aubergines suffered. Courgettes didn't set well due to pollen beetle so we didn't have many early on in the season.
We will have a little more room next year as there were several Dahlia tubers at the end of one of the beds which will be moved to the front flower bed now it's been cleared of grass.

So we'll stick to much the same things. I'll need to buy fresh aubergine and squash seeds. More Beetroot, Leek,  Mange Tout and another variety of Cucumber. Also need Plum Tomato seeds and some mini plum type too. My saved seed of French Climbing beans are getting really old so probably need to buy new and start again. I'll save runner bean seeds as there are several still on the plants. I'd like to grow a few ornamental Gourds for next Autumn's mantle shelf too.

Now comes the fun of choosing varieties and working out best value, that's a job for a cold winters day. Gardeners always have something to look forward to! 😊

Back Monday