Thursday, 24 April 2014

Thursday morning

Oh dear, another early start so much for sleeping in a bit later.  I have been awake since just after 3.30 which is a bit ridiculous.  Yesterday went well we took my huge blanket to the laundry and they have texted me to say it is now ready for collection so that is on my list for this morning.  It is the last item of camping gear then it is all finished and packed ready for the next trip.  While we were out we took the dogs for a nice run in the woods and I bought Tubby a huge cowhide chew which I thought he would enjoy chewing over a few days or even weeks but with his bite strength he devoured it in one afternoon.  

I went ahead with the experiment with the salt crust baked parsnips which had good results.  Some of the parsnips I baked and some I boiled so we had a direct comparison.  Those that were baked had much more parsnip flavour but they did pick up some of the salt.  The boiled seemed very bland in comparison.  This is something I would do again and possibly try with other root vegetables I think beetroots would be ideal and I know that celeriac does brilliantly.  The method is simple 200g flour 200g salt 3 egg whites and sufficient water to make a soft dough.  The parsnips were peeled but left whole then wrapped like a parcel and bake at 160ºC for an hour.  I was then left with the egg yolks so I made a jug of custard.  For lunch I had some pollock fishcakes but I didn't really think that parsnip was a suitable vegetable however I ran up a bit of tartar sauce and surprisingly that made all the difference as the sharpness countered the sweetness of the parsnips and actually they made a good combination. 

Denzil arrived home shortly after lunch so supper was for the four of us and the bolognese sauce and 500g of tagliatelle made a decent supper.  Mark had been to Italy over the winter and brought me a kilo of parmesan cheese so I am very well stocked now.  I divide it into useable lumps and vac pack it then keep it in the garage fridge.  

In preparation for my tomato plants I ran the sprinkler inside the greenhouse for an hour yesterday and will do the same again today which should see the soil nice and moist and ready for the plants.  I had been giving some thought as to what to put in my window box outside the kitchen and I think this year I will fill them with an assortment of herbs rather than flowers.  I thought the soft herbs like parsley, chives, basil and dill would make a good combination. Anyway, it will make a change from pelargoniums, pansies and begonias.   

I'm not sure what the weather has to hold for us today but if it is fine we thought we might have a bit of fun and go and shoot some skeet at Dartford shooting club where they do a very respectable bacon butty for lunch.  The sun is just beginning to peak over the horizon but the sky looks ominously cloudy.  Shooting in the rain is no real fun so if it looks bad we will give that a miss.  I wish the photo was mine but it has been lifted from google images but you get the general idea.

I will try to get out with the camera and take a few photos of the garden which is not looking at all bad at the moment if you can ignore the weeds!!!!!

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Wednesday morning

Yesterday was all a bit of a blur what with Denny doing the house and Mark in the garden a considerable amount of headway was made.  All the washing and ironing has been done and put away with the exception of the huge fleece bed cover which I hope to get to the launderette today.  I went to Aldi and restocked on some basics and I even bought some bread there which was not at all bad.  I am some what out of sync with the bread making and have not yet caught up.  We were expecting Denzil home yesterday but he has decided to stop off and have a day in London on his way home.  So adjustments to the menu were made.  Mike only fancied some hot cross buns for supper so James and I had beans and eggs on toast and the bolognese which is vacuum packed lives on for another day.  

While I was out shopping James took the dogs for a walk and while he was sitting in the car ready to pull away he had the great good fortune to witness the neighbour who gave him such a hard time back his car straight into a tree. "Schadenfreude".  It couldn't have happened to a nicer person.  No real damage was done other than to his pride but it gave James a good laugh.

Mark managed to get the greenhouse dug over and tidied up but it is as dry as a bone in there so today I am going to get the hose in there and give it a good soaking so that it is ready to take my tomato plants which are very leggy and in need of transplanting.  The autumn raspberries should have been cut back some time ago but I am going to get them chopped down if I have the time today and the weather is kind.  

It was my intention to replace the hens when I got back from camping but I think I will wait until after Denzil has gone back to Thailand and things are a bit more settled.  Mike has his anaesthetic assessment on May 2nd at which point we should know if they are happy to go ahead with his surgery come the June 9th so these are two big red letter days on the calendar at the moment.  Denzil leaves on the 8th of May so it is all happening over the next month or so.  

In the culinary department I am going to have a go at roasting some parsnips in a salt crust which I have never done before but having had such a good experience at the British Larder I thought I would give it a go.  No idea what we will have with the parsnips but I am sure I will find something.  If this turns out successfully I will put up the details so you too can give it a try.

Anyway enough planning I am terrifying myself with the list of things that need doing so I will get the bins out and get on with the salt crust.  The sky is clear and blue and it is 9ºC so we may well be in for a nice day.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Tuesday morning

Up a bit earlier this morning but I have a busy day ahead.  I finally got all the laundry done and finished it is all ironed and ready to put away.  I was very lucky as the day was bright and sunny until late afternoon when we were treated to a major downpour.  By then all the laundry was dry and in being ironed so escaped the deluge.  As it was a day of labour lunch was just a mushroom risotto and a big green salad then for supper a bunch of chipolatas were made into sausage sandwiches and that was supper.  Today looks equally busy as we are due to have Denny visit and though we have managed to keep the house pretty tidy I know it will be much cleaner once she has passed her magic wand over it.  I am also expecting Mark the gardener to come at 8am and he will need a quick tour of the garden which is in desperate need of some attention.  My neighbour has some sort of climber which is a total hooligan and completely swamps my plants it takes quite a bit of work to keep the thing under control.  It behaves like a russian vine but with a small purple flower and cascades over the fence removing the light from the plants on my side of the fence.  Fortunately Mark has an industrial hedge trimmer which makes short work of it.  The bluebells are out and I have three colours white, blue and pink but they too are hooligans and almost impossible to remove as their bulbs are so deep down.  I don't mind a few but they do multiply at a rate of knots and if left unchecked would soon take over the garden.  They have been here since we moved in and try as I might I have only managed to keep them under control but not eradicated.

Now here is an interesting discovery our dogs are normally fed on dry biscuits for working dogs [therefore no VAT] but we had run out so over the holiday weekend they have had tinned dog food from the local shop which is always open.  Since this change in diet we have to have the windows open as they have turned into gas producing machines.  Of course they are oblivious to the noxious gas clouds but we have suffered!!!!  So on my todo list is to restock with their normal food and put pay to the methane fill rooms.

As things are going to be busy this morning I have taken out a packet of bolognese sauce from the freezer and all that will be required for lunch is to boil a bit of pasta, grate some parmesan and dress a big green salad. We usually try to get the dogs out while Denny is here so they don't get in her way and with Mark here also it is even more important to get them out as they will only try to help him with his work also.  Sadly both cleaning and gardening are not skills they posses.  

Well thats about it for this morning time I got going and made preparations for the influx and galvanized myself.  

Monday, 21 April 2014

Monday Morning

Later again this morning I am trying to do something about my early rising and though I was up at 4am I went back to bed and managed a couple of hours more sleep.  So far no sign of a headache so maybe things are getting better.  I must admit that after my week away I do feel more relaxed and less stressed.  Having both adult sons at home meant that I could completely relax about Mike as I knew he was in good hands.  

The shepherds pie I made for lunch was delicious as I had made a well reduced stock from the bones and some how the meat from a roasted lamb joint has a much better flavour.  I decided to chop the meat rather than mince it so everything was basically diced and the top was of sliced ready cooked potatoes with a handsome amount of cheddar cheese to form a good crust.  Not exactly traditional but very good none the less.  

Today the weather looks much better with bright sunshine though we have had a plenty of rain yesterday and overnight which the garden was certainly in need of.  My orchid watering regimen seems to have paid off as all the plants are looking like they are about to burst into flower and the long wait with what looked like a bunch of sticks is drawing to a close.  I must admit that I can't wait for Mark to fit me into his busy schedule as my garden really needs a good blast of his industrial strength weed killer.  The greenhouse needs some rearranging after a winter of the hens who have completely wrecked the interior.  Once the garden is a bit more organised I will replace the hens as I really do miss my endless egg supply.  I might wait until son number one has gone back to Thailand at the beginning of May when I will have a bit more time to fiddle with such things.  

Today we are going to have a very simple lunch of a mushroom risotto and a nice big green salad as I have a couple of lettuces which need using up.  Then there is the small matter of the mountain of ironing which needs to be got rid off as the dining room looks more like a laundry than a dining room. I have a massive fleece bed cover which I use in the van to cover the bed which allows me to use it as a dog bed during the day.  It is in need of a wash but it is too big for my machine so I will take it to the launderette once the holidays are over then hopefully all the van stuff will be ready to put away until our next visit.  I still have two beds to change and sheets to wash but I think I need to make some headway with what has already been washed before I do much more.  

Well that is the plan for today and as I am well behind starting so late I had better make a start so I am not still ironing at midnight.  Have a good day all and lets hope we are in for another spell of nice weather as it really does lift the spirits to see a bit of sunshine.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Easter Sunday

What has happened to the weather it is really miserable today.  It is not actually raining but it will not be long I think.  Fortunately I have no intention of doing any more washing to do today.  I do however, have masses of ironing to do.  Yesterdays roast lamb has left sufficient for a shepherds pie today and the masses of potatoes I boiled have been largely used some for roast with the lamb shoulder and some saute with eggs for supper the remainder were made into potato scones which are now in the freezer and the last few will top my shepherd pie.  

I am very late writing this blog as I had a pretty rotten night's sleep and got up late when the boys were already in full flow so finding a few quiet minutes to write this has proved a bit difficult.  Fortunately they have taken the dogs out for a walk so the house is at last quiet and though women are supposed to be good at multitasking I find it difficult to compose and type while there is general mayhem going on.  

I think today will be a quiet day with nothing much going on: just keeping the ship afloat will be enough to keep me out of mischief.  

Oh here comes the rain lucky us!!!!  Have a nice day and enjoy anything special you have organised for lunch it must be more imaginative than my shepherds pie!!!!!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Saturday Morning

Laundry, laundry, laundry, my machine was running all day yesterday with load after load of washing both from the caravan and from the house and I am still not there yet.  According to the weather forecast we are due for some rain today though at the moment it doesn't look bad at all with blue skies and little puffy white clouds.  Perhaps it will hold off until my line is full of washing!!!! Anyway I have at least broken the back of it.  The stuff which is from the van goes back into a collapsible plastic crate ready to be taken back on the next trip that way I don't get it all muddled up with the general household washing.  I always leave the van with clean linen as the last thing you want to do when you are newly arrived is to set to and make up the bed.  You can imagine with 4 adults in the house there is plenty of general washing anyway.

We decided to shoot out to Tesco and stock up on a few bits and bobs but you should have seen it. The place was heaving with folks with trollies full to the brim with masses of stuff I was wondering if I had missed some news that war had been declared or something.  The shop is only shut for one day but people were stocking up as for a siege.  Anyway we bought the ingredients for a quick lunch of tortilla with salsa and sour cream which with all hands on deck was prepared in minutes and eaten in seconds.  Supper was a treat the boys treated me to a curry which they organised so there was nothing for me to do except eat it.  Today, we are going to have a shoulder of lamb which has defrosted overnight and I have loads of spuds I am not quite sure what to do with.  I have boiled a load of them and intend to make mash and then freeze it for later use.  Alternatively I could cube the spuds so they are ready to make saute potatoes or potato salad either way they will not go to waste.  I wonder if you can freeze them sliced so you can make a dauphinoise in double quick time.  The other thing that crossed my mind was to make a batch of potato scones or grate them and make rosti oh the possibilities are endless.  

Anyway time I got underway and made up my mind what to do.  Perhaps I will try the spuds in all the various ways and see how successful each method is.  Watch this space for the results!!!!  The clouds are now thickening and darkening so I guess the rain is on its way but the garden really could use a drink so I am not fussed and the laundry can wait for better weather or I might go mad and use the tumble dryer just to get it out of the way.

I hope the rain doesn't spoil your plans or maybe you may be lucky and miss it.  Anyway have a great day all........

Friday, 18 April 2014

Good Friday morning

Good morning all.  Well I am back at home after my week away in the Rendlesham forest and were we ever blessed with the weather it was wall to wall sunshine.  However, there was a cold wind blowing which meant it wasn't very warm but what do you expect in April.  The nights were particularly cold and we did feel very sorry for those in tents as the temperatures dropped down close to freezing at night.  We however were fully centrally heated and kept the van at around 20 degrees which was nice and comfortable.  One thing is now without doubt and that is that I am allergic to pine pollen as within 12 hours of arrival I was completely breathless.  Fortunately the vans medical box contained a packet of Piriton and I started taking one every 4 hours, they made me a bit dopey but at least I could breath.  The first morning we drove into Framlingham and went to a country fair but sadly I was very under par so I didn't really make the most of it however things improved as the Piriton kicked in.  Having Shiona, a very well qualified nurse, with me confirmed what was going on as she observed what was happening to me and realised that I was obviously suffering.  Anyway once on the antihistamines I was fine though I did do lots of sleeping.  Our routine was to go somewhere in the mornings and then have lunch out then back for a sleep for me and a couple of hours of reading for Shiona.  Supper was had in the van and Shiona had brought some delicious stuff with her which only required heating up.  The first night we were tired so it was fish and chips from the local chippy.

One day we had lunch at the British Larder which was truly stunning and we are hoping to attend one of their cookery demonstrations later in the year.  As part of our meal we had some celeriac which was the nicest I have ever had and not in the least watery.  We asked the waitress if she would find out how it had been prepared and she returned from the chef to tell us that it had been baked in a salt crust - this is something I must try as it made a big difference.  We also had a meal at the Butley in Orford where I had a dozen oysters followed by grilled squid with garlic mayonnaise.  It was nice enough to eat outside if you could find shelter from the siberian wind.  In fact now I come to think of it we ate fish or seafood of some kind everywhere except the British Larder.  

The dogs got their legs walked off and had a wonderful time.  Her two little Westies started the week white but came home a gentle shade of brown having discovered rolling in the sand as a great pastime.  One morning we went to shingle street which is a lovely beach with miles of shingle which was dotted with sea kale and sea peas.  The kale was just in bloom so we picked a small amount to have for supper one night and once cooked it looked just like purple sprouting broccoli but with much more flavour.  There is nothing like a bit of foraged free food is there?

Our journey back was uneventful until we reached the approach to the QE2 bridge where there was the usual 10 mile tailback because of the toll booths.  Needless to say I have a monumental amount of washing to keep me occupied as I have all the bed linen from the van as well as clothes and towels and tea towels to wash.  I also brought home the big bed cover which is too huge for my machine to cope with so I will take that to the local laundry and get that done there.  The island bed is a bit on the hard side so I had bought a memory foam topper to put on it and that made it much more comfortable.  The outside of the van is very dirty so I will take a couple of days some time and go and wash it down with a pressure washer.  Though it is stored in a barn it is still open to some elements and birds.  This is the one disadvantage of not storing the van at home I have no time to clean and polish it except on holiday and who wants to spend their holiday washing a caravan!!!!

The boys have taken very good care of Mike and he looks quite well so now all we are waiting for is the hospital to get their finger out and get on with mending his hernia so that he can mobilise again. The fridge is full and all the stores have been kept up to date so I only have a very small shopping list for today and I am assuming that Tesco will be open even though it is a bank holiday.  Ok the sun is now up so it is time to get the washing started but at least I can get it all dry outside and safely stowed away for our next trip.

I hope you too are enjoying lots of sun and have a really lovely weekend with whatever you have planned.

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.......