Showing posts from March, 2009

Tuesday morning and getting warmer

The viburnum is out at last and things are move on a pace. I managed to plant some borlotti beans yesterday and have move the seedlings up to the glass house from the potting shed so that they can get the maximum light. Yesterday was the most gorgeous sunny day so I took the opportunity to take all the dogs for a nice run. Basso had a ball running in all the mud and came home absolutely filthy but very tired and happy. I made another ox cheek stew which is now in the fridge on stand by in case we have a full house for shooting on Wednesday. Unfortunately Jeff, who has just returned from Venice, has a rotten cold so I'm not sure whether he will be coming. Today I am destined to make hot cross buns with my neighbour who is just getting into bread making. The hour change has made little difference to my stupid waking up times - this morning it was 4 am which of course is 3 am in real time :( I have just realised that we are destined to go away in the caravan for a couple of da…

That Monday morning feeling

Good morning all, I feel absolutely shattered this morning - the busy weekend has taken its toll. The photo shows Basso in the ring at the dog show where he behaved very much better than before but was still not placed as he was too immature both physically and mentally. The photo is rubbish as I was trying to stay out of his sight so that he behaved for Louise. Her Tibetan mastiffs won first and second in their class and went on to best of breed so her day was not wasted. You will notice that the people were all wrapped up but I cannot tell you how cold it was in that hall. We were absolutely frozen and it was at least 20 minutes into the ride home when my hands started to get pins and needles as they defrosted. We were due to go to another show next weekend but unfortunately the paper work has gone astray so that is off and Basso will have a rest from showing now until the end of April. I though I would take him and his long suffering brothers for a good long walk off the lead…

Sunday and BST begins

Who stole an hours sleep? Yes the clocks go forward and we loose an hour - this is a day I hate not just because we loose the hour but I have to go around the house and change all the clocks and absolutely every electrical thing has a clock with the exception of the hoover and the iron!!!! Well I promised you the first photo of the new hat. It is black oiled cow hide and has a lanyard in case of strong wind. As it happens I needed it yesterday as the weather was terrible. I felt so sorry for all the stall holders as it was an absolutely filthy day it was cold and wet and windy. I hope now when I take Basso to gundog classes I will not be too much of an embarrassment to him as I should look the part. I took him with me to the game fair and he was so well behaved I was amazed there was lots of food on offer just at his nose height but he took nothing. There were chickens and rabbits and ferrets and birds of prey all of which he totally ignored. The only thing that got him excited …

Saturday morning and so far dry

The kerria japonica is in full bloom and though it grows on the boundary between the gardens I get the benefit as there is only a chain link fence division at that point. Yesterday was pretty busy what with Jane here and the painter but everything is now back in order and the ceiling and airing cupboard are as good as new. Basso's school trip was cancelled as poor Jeff was made redundant and wasn't exactly in the mood. This recession is really beginning to bite, I'm so glad that I am no longer in the job market. I feel so sorry for people whose lives are being ruined but the greed of the financiers. Anyway I will get off that particular hobby horse. Today we are headed to the Game fair which opens at 10am so we don't have to make too early a start. We intend to take Basso and Mary with us but leave the other two terriers at home. I know this seems unfair but handling three dogs means I never have a free hand to do anything. I want to buy myself a hat so I am go…

Friday and the end of the week

Here, as promised, is a photo of the apricot blossom which I hope will become soft juicy and sweet fruits in the autumn. Well its nice to dream!!!!

Now on to the mundane - the ox cheek and skirt are really just superior stewing steak and would make a very good boeuf bourguignon or it makes excellent steak and kidney for pies or puddings. You could also do the traditional boiled beef and carrots meal. The ox cheek came out at a fiver for five pounds of meat so very reasonable. The ox liver that I bought has been boiled up for the dogs so now it needs packing in containers for the freezer. Interestingly none of the dogs would touch it raw and just spat it on the floor but cooked is a different matter - it's nice to have ones culinary skills apprecaited.

Today is going to be bedlam in this house as we have Jane coming. She has had some health issues and the doctors appointments have necessitated her moving her usual day. We also have Ray the painter coming to sort out the water…


Well yesterday was a restocking day we went to both the butcher and the fishmonger and bought loads of stuff which is now ready to go in the freezer. Today we are off to another shop where we restock coffee and flour and other exotic bits and pieces. Then it is a return to the butcher for some ox liver that he has got for the dogs and also he is expecting a beef delivery so we are hoping for some ox cheek and thick skirt both of which are difficult to get usually.

While we were in the fishmonger I bought some salmon ready to cure and smoke and also some haddock which will also go in the smoker. I am intending to freeze both until I am ready to spend the day curing and smoking. I also bought some sprats which I absolutely adore but I hate the process of cooking them as everything including me smells of frying. The sprats made a wonderful lunch and as there were so many the dogs had portion too - so we will all have nice glossy coats now. For supper I had made a kedgeree and the dogs are…

Wednesday and bin day

One of the fabulous four egg layers. It is impossible to tell them apart as they are all the same and look like they have been cloned. However, there is one who is stupid - there's always one - every night when I put them to bed she has trouble finding the door and tries to make her way through the side mesh.
Yesterday was a better day I managed to get several loads of washing out and dried in the wind - this morning it's the ironing. I also received the salmon skin from the fish monger and that has been boiled up for dog food. I have managed to get half of it in the freezer and today I will tip it out of the plastic boxes and put it into bags thus freeing up the boxes for the second lot. I recon that I have about 8 days supply of food for the three dogs and all for nothing!!!! My poor friend was due to have a blood test at the hospital yesterday morning and it took so long that she was close to fainting by the time they had finished. Her sensible husband brought her to me…

Tuesday morning

Every morning my girls lay me a clutch of eggs we had 25 last week which is only 2 off maximum. They have shredded paper in the nest box so that it is parasite free. This is probably one of the better uses for what the press produce!!!
Yesterday was a pretty flat day I started with all the good intentions of doing some work in the garden but when I got our there it was really cold and windy and I lost my enthusiasm pretty quickly. In the afternoon we had a mega down pour which I must admit the garden needed as it was pretty dry. So I spent some time catching up on things I had recorded on the TV and was thoroughly lazy. It is not often that I have such a quiet day and I must admit that my conscience pricks me and I feel grumpy and guilty so it serves little purpose. I did take the dogs for a walk but that was about the limit of my labours. Anne, I must admit that I thought you had finished work and didn't realise that you still had a week to go. I expect that you will really …

Monday morning

Magnolia stellata rubra is out but only just. This is one of the first trees we bought when we moved into the house and it was a tiny whip of a tree then and every year since it has been a riot of colour each spring.
Yesterday's lunch was turned on its head - about an hour before the guests were due to arrive I received a phone call to say that Margaret was feeling a bit wobbly. Not surprising really given the shock her system must have had. So I packed the lunch into a box and set of for their house where it was reheated in the microwave. So it was a kind of "meals on wheels" lunch fortunately I had cooked the meat balls the evening before and was intending to reheat them anyway, the tomato sauce was all made so it was easy to box everything and transport it. The jelly for sweet was nicely set in the glasses which made them easy to transport. Once we had eaten we didn't stay too long as I thought Margaret needed a lie down and I too was looking forward to a rest. I …

Sunday morning

A bit warmer this morning, no frost. The photo shows a bunch of primroses that have self seeded in the the path near the glass house and I didn't have the heart to pull them out. Yesterday went well and I got all the cooking done so today will be a real pleasure and nice relaxed day. All I have to do is boil a bit of pasta and warm up the rest. The jelly is made and in the fridge and hopefully it is all set firm. I made it with our frozen raspberries and fruit sugar which should be OK for the diabetic. As I was preparing the food I though how nice it is to have visitors who put in a request for lunch it is so much easier than having to think what to feed people and trying to remember what you fed them last time!!! I took the dogs for a nice run yesterdays and decided that Basso deserved a free running walk as he is now having to do much more lead training. The busy week finally caught up with him and he spent most of the day unconscious on the floor in the sun. My good inten…

Saturday morning and still quite chilly

A nice clump of Tete a Tete daffodils which really make it feel like spring even though the temperatures are still pretty wintry. I had a busy day yesterday and went down to the stables to see my friends new horse. What a beauty she is, she is a 16 hand chestnut Irish draught only 6 years old and all but unschooled so plenty of work to do. Mork, her other horse who is now 33 is looking splendid and has hardly lost any weight over the winter. I really will have to make the time to go and ride a bit now that the weather has improved.

Good news on the Basso front too, he went to ring craft classes last night and the work that I had put in during the day seems to have paid off. I took him out twice for disciplined lead walks and also got everyone I know to run their hands over him as he might expect a judge to do. The problems has been that he has thought that if you touch his rump you are asking him to sit and promptly collapses down. We are now working on the word stand and he s…

Friday morning

Sadly, my beautiful boy was unplaced at the show yesterday but doesn't he look gorgeous? He was the youngest and is not yet fully developed so he is a bit lean and gangly but we are hopeful that with a bit of training he will get the idea about showing and learn to stand as he is in the photo rather than collapse when the judge approaches.

Lucy it really sounds like you have been through the mill with sickness in the household I know how distressing it is with kids they so ill so quickly but at least they tend to recover just as quickly. Lets hope your lot are on the mend and things get a bit easier for you from now on.

I had a busy day in the garden yesterday and planted out my sweet peas which were rapidly out growing their pots. I have made two large tubs with eight foot canes for them to grow up so lets hope I have plenty of flowers this summer. I also planted a row of carrots, curly kale and kohlrabi and covered them with fleece as it was bitterly cold. It is my intention to p…


Well this morning is frosty but the white Camellia finally bloomed yesterday. We had a grand day for our shooting yesterday and for once I shot rather well in fact I was only three shots behind Jeff who has been at it for some 15 years so I am pretty chuffed. The shepherds pie went down well and we were just finished when Louise arrived to clip the dogs. They all look absolutely gorgeous now that they have been clipped but I had to hand Basso over in a terrible state - he had rolled in some road scrapings that they use to make the shooting ground less muddy and far from being a white and orange spinone he was more like a brown roan. Louise had said that she was going to bath him for the show - well she had no choice now!!!! The house seems so empty without him this morning and I suddenly realised it is the first time we have been parted since I picked him up at 6 weeks old. I will be on tenterhooks all day today as I have no idea when he is to return. I expect it will be late this …

Wenesday morning and Bin Day

Good morning all the forsythia is in bloom and everything is on the move. I am going to try and take photos as each shrub comes into bloom this year so I will have a chronological record of the garden. Yesterday was another glorious sunny day until about 3 pm when I thought some one had lit a bonfire as the were great clouds sweeping in over the garden I then realised it was fog!!!! Which must have swept up off the river.

I managed to get my veg bed prepared but have held back from planting/seeding as it is still a bit early - anyway I still have several other beds to prepare.

Today is going to be bedlam as we are off shooting when Shiona and Jeff arrive - then its home for a quick lunch before Louise arrives to cut the dogs hair. Then Basso is off to her house ready for his show tomorrow. Shiona will be staying the night as she is feeling a little down. This was bound to happen eventually and I always worried what she would do once all the projects with her house had finished and …


The white flowering currant is in full bloom, so Spring is really on the way. We had another really lovely day yesterday and I couldn't resist stripping off the beds and putting the sheets through the machine. Everything dried beautifully on the line but now I have a mountain of ironing to keep me busy this morning. I have almost prepared one vegetable bed it just needs a bit of raking over to break up the soil ready for the seeds. There is still tons more to do but I feel a bit better as I have now accomplished a few of the obvious tasks and the garden looks better. The left over lamb was made into a shepherds pie and there was enough for us to have some for our lunch, when we came back from the dog walk. As usual I took myself off to bed for a couple of hours snooze in the afternoon but when I got up it was still light enough to carry on working in the garden. I finally got round to sorting out the bees and have transferred them over to the new hive. I tried to see the que…

Another Monday morning

One of the nicest things about being retired is that I don't have that Monday morning feeling anymore it is just another day. In fact were it not for writing this blog I would probably not even know it was Monday. Did any of you watch the rugby yesterday the England France match was quite a game and for once we managed to beat the French which is always pleasing. Sorry to my french friends Remi and Marjorie who some times read this blog and are ardent rugby fans.
The weather was gorgeous yesterday it was warm and sunny all day and I managed to get lots done in the garden. I have, however, learned not to kill myself on the first good day and limited myself to 2 hours work. It is so tempting to go on working all day but I now know that the results is stiffness and pain and no gardening at all for several days.
My plan for today is to get another couple of hours work in - I need to prepare some of the vegetable beds so that I can plant carrots, and curly kale, and something I have neve…

Sunday morning

When I look and see who is reading this blog there are a fair assortment of people but they never add a comment which makes it all the more difficult to write as I get little feed back. There are those who always post a comment for which I am grateful. Anyway, yesterday was a busy day on the telephone as I was booking a few days holiday over the next couple of months. We are going to have a few days away in April and then a week in May all in our caravan and with the dogs so lets hope the weather is fine as wet dogs and caravans don't mix. It is quite difficult to arrange the time with Basso having so many shows.

Today I plan to roast a leg of lamb which is far too much for Mike and I but I have designs on the left overs for a large shepherds pie which will be our shooting lunch on Wednesday. I prefer the pie made with meat that has been roasted first as it seems to have a better flavour. Yesterday for lunch we had a nice stew made with the buffalo meat which, while a bit on the ch…

Saturday and much warmer

I had a bit of a rotten day yesterday, I was feeling very tired and lethargic so everything was an effort. In the end I managed to get the bonfire lit and burned off all the cuttings of the raspberries and then pruned the roses and added them also. Today I will clear up the bonfire site and dig the potash into the vegetable bed before it blows away. The hens need to be cleaned out as I should have done that yesterday but didn't.

Basso's trip to school had to be abandoned as Jeff had got stuck on the M25 on his way home. He had been off to Heathrow to deliver his devil puppy "Boris" who is going to pastures new.

We ended up having a take away curry for supper and Mike did a run to the butcher as the freezer is all but empty. However I found a pack of Buffalo meat so that is going to be a nice stew for today. The dogs had a super supper as I found a packet of veal sweetbreads which had broken open and was completly desiccated with freezer burn. I really must ha…

Friday and a bit early this morning

I worked quite hard in the garden yesterday, the glass house has been cleared and tidied and I cut back all the autumn raspberries. I had three goes a lighting a bonfire to burn off the cuttings but failed miserably. Today, I will make a concerted effort to get it lit as I want to prune the roses and will need to get rid of the cuttings. I started at first light and then came in and showered ready to go out for lunch. Jane had done a sterling job and the house was all pristine. We went to a local pub called The Chiltern Hundreds and I had a mixed grill which strangely included a piece of chicken and a fried egg and chips but it was all pretty tasty. I was absolutely shattered and took to my bed early and fell asleep by 9pm so here I am at 3 in the morning waiting for it to get light so that I can get started on the garden. In the mean time I think I will make a batch of leek and potato soup.

Basso is due to go to school tonight so I will need to take him out for a walk so that he is no…

Thursday and out for lunch

Good morning all, well I am now the proud possessor of a new ballcock and a leak free cold water tank. Which should mean that a repeat performance of the water through the ceiling lark should be a thing of the past. Now we are waiting for the builder to come and estimate the cost of repairing the water damage.

Yesterday was a busy day even thought shooting was cancelled - Shiona came with Mary so we went for a walk with all the dogs at high tide and all the dogs swam, with the exception of Basso who didn't quite have the courage to launch himself into the deep water. Mary, who until now had only paddled finally found the courage and is now an official swimmer. We were very ready for lunch and the cold beef salad went down well. I had added a mixed green salad to which we added hairy bitter cress which grows as a weed in the garden. It tastes like the mustard and cress you add to egg sandwiches and I am forever pulling it out but I usually give it to the chickens who love it.

Today w…

Wednesday and bin day

Today was a shooting day but we have had to cancel owing to the plumbing problems. The plumber is due this afternoon to fix the tank and ballcock and mend the leaking over flow pipe. Jeff has problems with a flat he rents out which has been left in a bit of a mess and so he is having to do some repainting before the new tenant moves in on Monday. We are then waiting for a call from a company of builders who will come and assess the damage to the ceiling. I have managed to finish the washing and ironing of the contents of the airing cupboard which was a marathon task.

Shiona is coming over anyway and we are going to take the dogs for a nice long walk and the cold beef salad that I had made in anticipation of shooting will do us fine for lunch. I have made a big pot of pumpkin soup which will do for supper. The dogs had a good walk yesterday and we managed to get to the estuary at high tide so it was everyone in for a swim. Basso is still not happy to go out of his depth but I thi…

Tuesday morning and pouring

It is throwing it down with rain and blowing a gale at the moment but hopefully it is not set in for the day and just a passing phase. Luckily I managed to wash and dry everything yesterday and also got most of it ironed. I did 5 sets of king sized bedding and 5 sets of single - quite a task now all I have left is the clothing not all of which needs ironing. Basso, bless him, got bored and decided to take the washing off the line and drag it through the flower beds while I was on the phone. Can you imagine how thrilled I was when I discovered his little game!!!!!!

Hopefully today we should get some information from the plumber as to what is to happen regarding the damage, I am hoping he will do the right thing and take responsibility but if not then it will be through the insurance company and they can fight the case.

In answer to your question Anne, I think Basso would have to do well in championship shows which would then qualify him for Crufts next year. However, I am not sure …

Monday morning and where do I start

I guess I had better start with Friday morning when I was getting ready to my sister in laws. I decided to change my bed as it is nice to come home to clean sheets. When I went to the airing cupboard to get the sheets there was brown staining on all the linen and it was pretty wet - it was then that I noticed that the cold water tank in the loft had been leaking slowly since we had the shower fixed. Everything was sopping wet including the ceiling in the bedroom which had just been newly decorated. The airing cupboard had swollen with water and all the wood was cracked. So it was up into the roof for me and sort out the ball cock which had been jambed in the down position. By rights the over flow should have coped with it but as it was a small constant over fill it just leaked out around the over flow pipe joint. Well there was nothing to do except pull out everything that was wet and turn off the water and leave it all to dry over the week end.

Off we went and had a nice smo…

Friday and getting ready for the weekend

Boy, was it cold yesterday, we had a significant frost but no snow. When the sun finally rose it was strong and melted all the ice which made it seem almost as if it was raining. It is pretty cold again today the thermometer is reading 2 degrees. When I get my act together I will need to pack the car ready to set off for the week end. The dogs luggage takes up much more space than ours. I have three soft crates to take as well as all the food required for the few days we are away, not to mention food and water bowls, poo bags, treats and leads etc. The computer is boxed and ready to go and we have been asked to take up a large roll of wire to mend the fence with. It is a good job we have a large gas guzzler car or we would not have the room. I also admire my sister in laws flexibility to invite us and our pack of dogs which is pretty disruptive for them.

Mike will be left in charge of the dogs tomorrow when we go to Crufts as he and his brother will not be coming with us. It w…

Thursday and a day of peace

Yesterday was a busy day, Shiona and Jeff arrived at about ten and after cups of coffee we set off to go shooting. We had a nice round with not too many people so we went round relatively quickly. When we get home we have an established routine now Shiona and Jeff clean the guns, Mike organises the beers and sets the table and I do the lunch. It was about half past three when lunch was finished and Jeff took his leave, Shiona and I took the dogs for an nice run down by the estuary and they all went in the water for a paddle as it was high tide. Then it was home and supper time for the dogs and time for a cup of tea for us. My new issue of home farmer magazine had arrived so I was lost for the rest of the evening.

Today, I am having a relaxing day just getting things together before we leave for the weekend. We are intending to leave after lunch on Friday and anticipate a 2 hour journey which should get us to Peterborough by tea time so avoiding the worst of the traffic. Jane ha…

Wednesday and bin day

What a wild night we have just had!!! Thrashing rain and gales but all is quiet now and the rain has ceased. I hope it stays this way as today we have a shooting expedition. Shiona is coming over and Jeff is coming up from Surrey so lets hope we don't have to cancel.

Well, the hair got cut and blow dried and I made a bolognese sauce for lunch today but the weather was not good enough to allow for any gardening. I was so comfortable with no pain that I slept for hours yesterday afternoon and slept well again last night. I think the neck pain has been disturbing my nights even though I was not really aware of it. Basso will come shooting with us as usual and I like to walk him around a little so that he gets used to the sound of guns. I must admit he shows no interest in them but just wants to go and greet all the people. Anyway it's all good experience for him.

I would normally clean out the chickens today but I am going to leave that until Friday just before we leave as t…

Tuesday morning and off to the hairdresser

It's a chilly over cast morning and they have forecast rain and wind for this afternoon. Yesterday, we set off bright and early to the gun smith only to find that they had sold out of the 21 gram cartridges I use. However I did purchase some better pellets for the .22 rifle so the pigeons and rats had better look out now. From the shop we then went on to the silversmiths to get the tray re-silvered and hopefully it will be ready next week. At both places we encountered dog lovers and we had to get Basso out of the car for a parade. It is lovely that people think he is such a nice boy. We then made our way over to Shiona's house for lunch. She had made a lovely risotto with prawns and peas which we had followed by cheese and biscuits, not exactly diet food but what the hell.

We ended up spending the rest of the afternoon there as the dogs were having such a good time. Mary, her little westy, was delighted to have company and they were joined by a beautiful black spaniel…

March is here

Monday morning and the start to another week and another month. Yesterdays, lunch went well and we followed it with a sensible walk with the dogs in the woods with no chance of getting lost again. I finally managed to brush the remaining mud off Basso - not that he cooperated, it was a bit of a fight especially when it came to doing his legs which he hates. While we were out walking we met another family with dogs and one was a huge black shaggy boy who wanted to play so he and Basso had enormous fun playing chase and boxing with each other.

Today we have a few chores to do - I need some more cartridges so a trip to the gun shop is necessary and then we have a silver tray belonging to my sister in law which needs re silvering so this will necessitate a trip to Staplehurst where there are some silver smiths who will do the job at a reasonable price. I still have loads to do in the garden but the days just seem to be running away with me and I don't seem to be finding the time to…

Sunday morning

Sunday morning and I am up at half past four again, the cat next door is howling as the people are away, but fortunately they are back today. Anyway it is not a problem as I have plenty to do and can get the lunch all prepared for the visitors.

Yesterday turned out to be quite an exciting day as we decided to take the dogs to Shorne county park for a walk. There was myself and Mike [who stayed in the car] the three dogs my friend and her twin girls and the boy of 4 and the pushchair. We set off from the car park on a nice woodland trail but after not too long the trail petered out and we found ourselves in the depths of the wood on paths that had been churned up by horses where the mud was deep enough to suck off your wellingtons. Well can you imagine trying to manoeuvre a push chair through that! After what seemed like hours we eventually came across a couple of people and hoped that they would know the way back, no such luck they too were lost. Finally we did encounter a famil…