Friday, 11 April 2014

Thursday Morning

Well today is the day and I hope I have everything organised.  It is just a case of packing the stuff in the car.  I could have packed it last night but I didn't want to come down and find that the car had been robbed.  So this morning it will all be piled in but I have the boys to help me load up.  Shiona will arrive at some moment with her  dogs and stuff so once we are all set we can go.  Hopefully we should all be set up by about three in the afternoon and then we intend to have a fish and chip supper and early night. 

Keep your fingers crossed for me as I am a little apprehensive that all goes according to plan.

If I can I will blog on my phone but the area is notorious for bad signals so you may have to wait for the omnibus edition.

I will be back on the 17th hopefully well rested and revitalised.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Thursday Morning

Yesterday was the first day when not only did we have sunshine but also no wind so it was actually warm enough to sit outside in the garden for a cup of tea.  We started the morning off with a trip to Faversham for some coffee and while there Denzil treated me to one of their lovely breakfasts which of course meant neither of us felt much like lunch.  I filled the car with diesel on the way home and as it was Tesco's garage I got some money off my purchase.  The roast chicken got postponed until dinner time as none of us felt much like it at lunch.  As usual the bird was cooked in the halogen oven and as it was a large one I gave it 45mins breast down and 45 minutes breast up which was perfect. Between the four of us we made short work of it and all that is left is the carcass which is in the slow cooker bubbling away merrily.  Some how I had managed to accrue a load of courgettes so they were quickly grated and made into pancakes which I know freeze well so those that are not eaten today can be packed up and frozen for some other time.  It was the first time Denzil had witnessed the halogen oven in all its glory and he was duly impressed by the efficient way it cooks food.  

I never did get to go and shop for underwear but I might shoot out early this morning before our visitors arrive.  The laundry was done late in the afternoon so it has been hung out over night and hopefully it will be dry not long after the sun comes up.  Then I can get it ironed and put away and I can set to and pack my bag for the trip.  This time of year it is difficult to know what to pack as it can turn from freezing to very warm in the blink of an eye.  Still they do have shops in Suffolk so if I need a cardigan or jumper I can always get one.  I always carry wet weather gear in the car so that is taken care of.  

Mike seems more relaxed now that he has a couple of dates to hang on to and is not looking at an endless stay in bed.  Once he has had his hernia repaired we can start to mobilise him again and provided we don't have any further chest infections things should start to look up.  James finally has an appointment with the chronic pain clinic so hopefully they can do something to help him with the constant pain.  

Well that is the plan for the day I have strained off the stock and will pick over the carcass so the dogs can have a chicken and vegetable breakfast.  The stock I think will go to making some leek and potato soup which is a good standby dish for the freezer.  

Have a good day all and enjoy this lovely weather if you can.......

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Wednesday morning

Lots to do today but at least the house is spick and span.  We took the dogs out for a long walk yesterday which gave Deny a free run of the house without any hindrance from the beasts.  Lunch was all but ready and all I had to do was the chops and for supper we simply had a bacon sandwich each. Today I have a chicken to roast which I will do as usual in the halogen oven, however first I have to take a run to Faversham to buy some coffee and I also need to fill the car with diesel ready for our journey.  If I have the time I would like to swing by M&S and restock my underwear which is looking a little tired to say the least.  I had hoped to split these jobs between today and tomorrow but Mikes brother is coming to visit tomorrow morning which rules that out.  I also need to glance over the clothes I intend to take with me and make sure they are all clean.  This time of year is difficult as you need both warm things and cooler things as the weather is pretty unpredictable.  Still one thing is for certain the ball gown and tiara can stay at home as they will not be necessary.  The saving grace of the campsite is that it is all on sand which never turns to mud.  Wet sand turns to dry sand and is easily brushed away.  I must remember to take food for Basso but leave enough behind for the dogs who are not coming.  Nip is going to stay at home as at his great age he doesn't appreciate the walks and frequently refuses to come and besides he can keep Tubby and the boys company.  I think three dogs is quite enough for us to manage in the caravan.

The massive bolognese sauce is in the freezer and today I will take it out of its boxes and vac pack it so it take up less room.  I can also take a pack with us for our first nights supper as we will be pretty tired by the time we are all set up.  Or failing that there is a very nice fish and chip shop close by which could supply our first meal.  

Well that the plan for the day I am going to be pushed to get it all done but no doubt I will and hopefully that will leave me a fairly free day tomorrow when Mikes brother comes.  

Anyway onward and upward have a good day all.......

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Tuesday Morning

Yesterday morning was miserable and wet so I rang the consultants secretary to check Mikes status on the operating list.  Good news is that he is due to have an anaesthetic assessment on 2nd May with a view to the operation on 9th June so that is a time frame we can live with.  It will make a big difference to him to be less bedridden and able to walk around a bit more.  However, it would be pointless to move the bed back upstairs as they will still present a big problem to him.  Anyway we are now well equipped for life on the ground floor.

As you can see Tubby has made himself at home and thinks it kind of us to provide a kingsized bed for him to snooze on.  The dogs are not normally allowed on the beds but they have been know to sneak in when you are not looking.

Yesterday we had an interesting lunch of dough balls with crab pate, smoked salmon and some char grilled artichokes.  The dough balls were commercially made but as I was in the process of bread making I thought it would be a simple task to make small balls of bread dough to use as canapes.  The lamb I had ready for last nights supper was left in the fridge as none of us really fancied it so it will be todays lunch.  I have been trying to organised food for the men who are being left behind and also to take some bits and pieces with me for my holiday.  These picnic pate from Aldi are great for a snack lunch or tea.

In the slow cooker I have sufficient bolognese sauce for an army which I will divide out into individual portions and vac pack once frozen.  

Today the wonderful Deny is due so we will need to have a bit of a tidy round so she can clean then we will take the dogs out for a run so that they are not under her feet.  The sky looks clear and the wind has died down so it should be pleasant walking.  Well time is marching on and I need to get on with the jobs rather than write about them.  Have a good day all......

Monday, 7 April 2014

Monday morning

Yesterday was a bit of a damp dull day and towards the evening it became quite blustery.  It has been raining overnight but is currently dry.

For lunch we had a nice salad nicoise made with fresh tuna or at least frozen tuna which I just seared then sliced.  It looked like a huge bowl full but surprisingly we managed to motor through it with no trouble.  I have been catching up on years of lost sleep and spent a good couple of hours sound asleep in the afternoon.  James was in charge of doing the pot sticker dumplings which the boys and I had for supper but Mike decided he fancied some soup so I ran him up a portion of carrot and orange soup in the thermomix which he had with the last of the panna cottas.  I have vowed not to make any more for a while as they are just too easy to make and eat and so high in calories. 

The kitchen looks like a bomb has hit it but we decided to leave it for this morning when we might feel more like tackling it.  The problem was that the dishwasher was full of clean stuff and no one felt like emptying it yet again. Today for lunch I have some lamb chump ends which I intend to do with potatoes and carrots and swede mash.  This will see me cleared out of vegetables before the delivery of my next Riverford box.  With extra mouths to feed the veg is not going as far as it used to so I am having to supplement with extra veg.

I will also have to look at buying eggs as we are almost out of those laid by our own hens - I have decided to reinstate the hens once I am back from my weeks holiday as I do really miss them and their lovely eggs.  I do hope that the weather picks up a bit for our time in Suffolk but it is not the major factor in the holiday.  Today I will need to have good look at what I am taking by way of clothes which is always too much but you do have to cover all eventualities with the weather.  Fortunately the heating system in the van is very efficient and it doesn't take long to warm up.  In the van I have a fleece jacket and a vest and shorts so I can deal with very cold and very hot so all I need is in between clothes.   I have one new item for the van and that is a memory foam mattress topper for the fixed bed which is a bit on the hard side. I also have a new torch which charges from the mains so it will be always ready for use.  I also take the small flashing lights which are meant for bicycles which I attached to the dogs collars so we can see them in the forest at night.  

Well I seem to be writing a list of what to take perhaps it would be better on a piece of paper where I can tick off each item as it is collected.  Fortunately most of the basics are already in the van so we don't end up with the car loaded to the gunwales.  I will be taking the Tassimo machine but the thermomix will stay at home. 

Well enough of this time I got that kitchen sorted out so I have clear decks to start the day.  Have a good day all despite the miserable weather.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Sunday morning

Sunday morning and it is hosing down with rain I got a fair amount of laundry dry yesterday but I still have a machine load to go. So I guess the tumble dryer will be put to work today as the rain is due for the day and tomorrow also.

Spring is really here and next doors amelanchier is in full bloom as are many of the black thorn bushes which bodes well for some sloes this autumn.  Everyones gardens look lovely with the spring bulbs doing really well.  They obviously didn't mind all the wet weather we had over the winter.  As yet my vegetable plot is sitting unloved but I have rather too much to do at the moment and the garden has had to take a back seat.  I am hoping that Mark will be able to give me a few hours towards the end of April which will knock the garden into shape so it doesn't look such a mess.  The only thing doing really well at the moment are the weeds.  

We had a lovely lunch of pork chops with sage and onion stuffing cauliflower and leeks and followed it with one of the panna cottas and for supper the boys did a full english breakfast which went down very well.  We are almost at the end of our own eggs and I will have to buy some this week to keep us going.  Once I am back from my holiday I will reinstate the hens as I really do feel the lack of them.  I also find myself having to throw away food which would normally go to the hens.  Dogs really are not interested in potato peelings!!!!

Today for lunch we are intending to have some pot sticker dumplings with sweet chili sauce and for supper it will be a nice salad of some kind or maybe corned beef hash.  I really need to get my head around the fact that I am away as from Friday so I would like to make a big batch of bolognese sauce which will do for the boys for the odd meal.  

Anyway time to get the tumble dryer going then hopefully that is this weeks washing done and dusted.  The new shower is really lovely and we have all tried it out.  It is a bit of a tight squeeze but adequate for what it is intended.  The good thing is that I have blinds which can make the back of the house very private so you can walk around in a towel without being in full view of the neighbours.  Our mean spirited neighbours have been away for a while which has been lovely but sadly they are now back and treating us to very hard stares of course we are quaking in our boots!!!!!!

Anyway thats about it for today I am off into the dark and the rain to my laundry shed to get that underway.  Have a good day all and enjoy the last of the weekend.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Saturday Morning

Well yesterday saw a miracle I had a brake light out on the drivers side so I took the car to Kwik Fit to have it replaced and the tyre pressures checked.  The garage is only about 100 yards from the house so I trotted back for my lunch.  Halfway through eating my lovely dover sole and purple sprouting broccoli the phone rang to say the car was ready so I quickly finished my meal and off I went to collect it. Now I hope you are sitting down - total cost including VAT £5.99.  I was dumbfounded my usual bill from the main dealer is seldom under £500 no matter what you have done!!!  I will certainly be using them again if I have minor bits and pieces that need doing.

On my shopping expedition in the morning I bought a large bag of onions as I intended to make some french onion soup with a nice top of gruyere cheese and a crusty crouton.  This we had for supper with some of the faggots from the butcher.  I also made a few panna cottas, this time plain with no chocolate and they have set perfectly with just two sheets of gelatine.  They have a distinct wobble and are only just set which is how they are supposed to be.  The chocolate ones I think need no gelatine as the chocolate is enough to set them anyway.  The plain ones have just a grating of lemon zest and some vanilla for flavour.  Later in the season they will be an ideal accompaniment to either strawberries or raspberries fresh from the garden.  Roll on summer!!!! Incidentally I make my own vanilla with leftover pods which I chop up and add to some vodka and it seems to have a much better flavour than the commercially prepared stuff.

While I had a rest the boys took the dogs for a run and Basso behave really badly for them.  He seems to think that he is in charge if I am not there and can do exactly what he likes.  This disobedience needs dealing with but I am not sure how to go about it.  It is difficult to correct bad behaviour if you are not there.  He does seem to be a one man dog unless he is working in which case he is very good at taking direction from others.

Today being Saturday it is my day to soak my orchids and much of the morning will be devoted to getting Mike through the shower and getting his bed changed.  I think we will have some pork chops for lunch and supper will be something simple like some pumpkin soup that I made yesterday.  

Denzil seems to have settled into our rather boring routine and is beginning to relax a little which is nice for all of us.  Mike enjoys having an extra person to speak to so he is better entertained.  It is pretty boring as a holiday but it is a complete change from what he is used to so hopefully he can recharge his batteries before the next school year.

Well that is the plan for today nothing very exciting just the usual stuff - I have given some thought to replacing the chickens which I think I will leave until my return from Suffolk.  I need to have a chat with Sandy and see if they would like a week in the van sometime.  If we can it would be nice to arrange a week with James and Tubby as well but I will have to find a babysitter for Mike.  It may be that we have to leave it until September when all the surgery should be finished and things might be a bit easier.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Friday Morning

From this 

to this

An improvement don't you think?  The new gas fire is nowhere near as bulky and removing the pine cladding has made the room look bigger.

Yesterday when Shiona arrived we did a trawl of the butcher and the fishmonger I bought some bits and bobs from the butcher including some faggots freshly made which we will have for supper today and in the fishmonger I bought some dover soles caught that night which still had rigor mortis which is about as fresh as they come.  The soles will be for lunch today and as they are quite big I think it will need the oven to cook them.  We had intended to do Aldi as well but instead we did Wilko and bought the bits to rehang the picture over the fire.  Denzil and Shiona took the dogs for a walk after lunch which was a very nice mushroom risotto and I tried to get an hours shut eye but failed.  So in the end it was an early night instead.  I had made a couple of loaves of bread in the morning and we had some toasted with potted shrimps.  The shrimps come ready cleaned so all I do is melt some butter to which I add a bit of lemon zest, black pepper, cayenne pepper and a sprinkle of mace. Spread on hot toast and what a lovely meal you have in minutes.

Today I will need to go shopping again as I am running low on some basics like washing up liquid but that will just mean popping into Aldi on my way to the dog walk.  Sadly all the dog walks require a short drive first but we are blessed with lots of country parks and woods in which to walk them. I know people who live in the country who have almost nowhere to walk but along roads as all the land is under the plough or the fields are filled with sheep.

This time next week I will be setting off for a few days in the caravan with Basso and Shiona and her two dogs but we will be back for the Easter weekend and Mike will be tended to by the two boys.  It would be lovely if we had some nice weather but it is not important except for walking the dogs.  I will leave it to your imagination what three wet and steaming dogs in a small space is like!!!!  I do carry a hair dryer onboard specifically for drying dogs.  

Well that about it for today I have a nice pile of ironing waiting for me so I will get stuck into that while I wait for people to wake up...........

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Thursday morning

Yesterday went according to plan we set off for the hospital an hour early even though it is a five minute drive.  The morning rush hour at the hospital sees the road surrounding it backed up for miles so it is necessary to get there early rather than sit in traffic for an hour and arrive late. The clinic was running half an hour late anyway so it was a bit of a drag.  We saw the registrar who agreed that this was an urgent case and would be put on the list.  I then queried just how long that wait might be and was told probably the end of June to July.  This seems a very long way off so I mentioned that perhaps we should think about using our Benenden cover to get it done more quickly.  Suddenly I was ushered in to see the consultant.  Having discussed his condition we agree that nothing could be done until he had been assessed by the anaesthetists who will be most unhappy with his chest.  So we are back to floating around in the wilderness.  Once Mike was settled back at home and resting I set off to my appointment with the lady from age UK who would help me fill in a form for attendance allowance which they all agreed we should have been claiming for the past few years.  The form is very long and involved and I would never have thought of half the things she advised putting on the form.  Anyway it is all done now so I will post it off today and see what happens.  I have never claimed any benefits so I have absolutely no idea how the system works.  

The boys cooked fish cakes for lunch which they had while I was out and when I got back I put together a turkey curry from a bag of turkey meat and a bag of curry sauce both of which were lurking in the freezer.  Sandy had given me half a fruit cake which was still warm out of the oven and didn't last more than 10 minutes when I got home.  

Today Shiona is coming over and we need to do some serious shopping as my stocks and supplies have sadly diminished over the last week.  I think a trip to the butcher and the fishmonger are in order so that we have a few bits to choose from.  In my vegetable box there was a small pumpkin which I intend to make into roast pumpkin soup and I have a couple of leeks which will make a nice leek and mushroom risotto for lunch today.  

Anyway having had only a couple of hours of sleep last night I am going to go back to bed and see if I can grab another couple of hours as I feel pretty shattered.  Have a good day all and lets hope today is another nice warm spring day......

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Wednesday Morning

Today is another red letter day Mike has an appointment at the hospital to have his hernia looked at by a consultant surgeon and hopefully will have a place on the waiting list.  However it could be 18 weeks before he is treated which is nearly 5 months!!!!  This is a very long time to be nursing him lying flat most of the time.  Lying down is also the worst position for his chest so I will be looking to make the point to the consultant in the hope of getting things moving a bit more quickly. Anyway fingers crossed that things go smoothly.  The logistics of getting him to the hospital are going to be fun in any case.  

Yesterday, was a glorious spring day with buckets of warm sunshine.  The washing machine was put to good use and everything dried beautifully on the line.  The dogs had a good run around the rugby field which was in a terrible state: following the weekends games the place was covered with litter. There were hundreds of plastic water bottles just scattered far and wide however the dogs assumed that they were toys and had a grand time with them.  The macaroni cheese and a tomato salad was fine for lunch and for supper we had some of the smoked salmon terrine from Aldi which was OK but a bit on the dry side.    Steve came and put the final coat of paint on the wall by the fire and now all we need to do is to rehang the pictures etc.  When I return from my week in the caravan I will be looking to get the carpets cleaned then I think I should be able to sit back and ignore the decor for a few years.
The garden sheds could use a coat of paint but that too can wait for a while perhaps towards the end of the summer I might ask Steve to give them a coat.  As you know this is a job that has usually fallen to me but I will be more than happy to pass it on to someone else.

Today is going to be a bit of a muddle as we have no idea how long we will be at the hospital and I have an appointment to meet Sandy at 1pm in Faversham so I hope things go well and I make it in time.  Lunch will have to be something simple and quick like bacon and egg or perhaps some fish cakes and baked beans.  With both boys at home I can delegate a few chores so I am enjoying a bit of a rest from the daily drudge.  At some point I will have to decide if I am going to restock with hens - I must admit that I do miss them and the lovely fresh eggs.  

Well that about it for this morning hopefully tomorrow will see me a bit happier with Mike sorted out.  In the mean time have a good day all!!!!