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Showing posts from March, 2010

Wednesday cold and wet

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Well yesterday was a wash out it poured with rain for most of the morning Mark rang and we agreed it was pointless his coming as there was nothing much he could do so all the gardening chores are on hold for the moment. I did venture out and sorted out the hens who needed food and water I then hibernated in the green house and planted the lettuce plants. After that it was all indoor stuff not that I accomplished much. This morning looks much the same it is pouring with rain, blowing a gale and down to 4 degrees. The photo is of the ornamental white currant bush which is looking really superb and white seems to stand out on the not so bright days. This morning we are due to go to the gunsmiths to purchase some more cartridges so I must remember to take my shotgun licence with me. Cartridges come in a bewildering array of sizes and types and different shooting grounds have different rules as to which they will allow. The majority use lead pellets of varying sizes I use 7.5 for cl…

Tuesday and a busy one

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This feels really weird it is 6 am and still not light the hour change is very confusing. I was quite proud of myself yesterday as I did manage to accomplish most of my list of chores. Though I didn't get round to planting the lettuce in the green house. Today is one of gardening as Mark is coming first thing and I like to work along side him in the garden. I had a very productive time with Terry my bee mentor and gave him a long shopping list of stuff that I am going to need over the summer. It is a great way to purchase stuff as he puts in a huge order so we only incur one set of postage and packing. We went and examined the bees and were very pleased to see that both hives seem to be very active with lots of bees. On the next reasonable day I am going to put the old wet frames back on the hives as there is still a considerately amount of honey in them and that should get the bees off to a great start as there is not much forage as yet. I was a little surprised when Terry…

Monday morning

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I seem to have acquired a red ribes which I definitely didn't plant but it growing in close proximity to the white one so I think it will be fine where it is.

Now to the saga of the dishes, well Mike appeared just as I was putting the finishing touches to my blog and when he read what I had written he realised just how fed up I was and promised to clear it all up. However, as it was not raining I decided that I would risk going shooting, so it was a hasty cup of coffee and off we went. I shot not too badly but the round did take a long time and we were not finished until 12.30. The others all stopped for a cup of tea but I beetled off as I had to stop in Faversham on my way back to replenish my supplies of coffee beans for the machine. Once we were home I was feeling pretty exhausted and Mike sent me off to bed for a sleep while he tackled the debris. We didn't bother with lunch as the sausage and egg baguette that we had had for breakfast was enough to keep us going unti…

Sunday and it's later than you think!!!

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Here we are returning from the retrieve competition where Basso really let me down he has of late totally refused to pick up dummies but we thought we would give it a go. True to form he ran out and and easily found both dummies but decided that we would not be in need of a bag of saw dust, had they been pheasants I'm sure he would have brought them back..... There was a demonstration of birds of prey which he took a great liking too and was very keen that I should shoot them. The game fare was not as good as last year and each year that I go it seems to get a bit smaller with fewer stands. I searched for a jacket but with no success, however Shiona and I purchased a lovely piece of parma type ham from Tuscany which we split between us. For lunch we had a nice roast pork baguette which as it turned out none of us could finish so the dogs did rather well. By the time we had arrived home it had started to rain but we had had our fun in the dry so our timing was right for once. …

Saturday and lets hope its dry

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No! its not a Chinese lantern, it is the contraption we have made to keep the flies off my Parma hams. Yesterdays efforts went well and we made a start on clearing up the shed. But sadly the mice had been at the bee hive frames which had been wrapped in black plastic sacks, they had also destroyed my observers jacket and veil. It was decided that the best course of action was to boil the frames and clear them of any residual wax. This is not an easy task as even in my huge catering pan the frames are only half covered by water. Anyway to cut a long story short they have been sorted all the nails removed and they are now ready to receive another layer of foundation wax. The huge saucepan is still on the stove where it has been left to cool and it now has a nice thick layer of wax on top which I will take off and refine at some point. I actually can't lift it when it is full of water so it will need bailing out first then I can have the joy of cleaning it. Mean while in betw…

Friday and the end of another week

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The white Ribes is bursting into bloom so spring is truly underway. We had torrential rain yesterday so the grass didn't need any watering and fortunately there were some significant gaps so I managed to take the dogs for a walk and didn't get soaked. The loft got sorted out but there is still a bit of work to do there which we will leave for the time being. Today, it is the turn of the end shed for a grand tidy and clean so that we can then move some of the stuff from the potting shed back to its rightful home. We took ourselves off to the shops once the loft was done and I had a field day in the fish mongers. I bought some lovely Scottish cod, undyed smoked haddock, a nice turbot and a couple of large handfuls of the most beautiful sprats which we had for supper last night. I normally hate cooking sprats because of the smell but I sort of semi deep fried them with my extractor fan running full tilt while the oil heated and continuing until it had cooled. I am pleased …

Thursday morning and raining

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Well at least I won't have to water the grass. The birds are making a bit of a mess of it as they pull tufts of it out for their spring nest building extravaganza. It seems that the minute the first daffodils show their colours the snow drops give up and die back. Yesterdays shooting went well and I shot well despite the fact that the gun stock was pressed against my cheek directly over the sore gum. When we got back it was well past lunch time and we were all very hungry but pleased that we had got our round in without getting wet. The chicken pie was slammed in the oven while Shiona and Jeff got on with the gun cleaning duties and Basso and Hamish played silly games with each other despite the disparity in size.
The apple tart was served up with a happy birthday sign and three gold candles and we all sang happy birthday - I think Shiona was pleased. Jeff had engineered a wire frame surrounded by a voile net curtain to hang my Parma hams in so that when fly season is in full …

Wednesday morning and Bin Day

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At last a bit of movement in the garden the red Camellia is now bloom though it is not as spectacular as the white as it is a much younger bush. I had a really rotten day yesterday with the pain in my gum making me miserable but it is much better this morning. Mike was convinced that I should cancel shooting but I hung on in the hope that it would improve, and it has, with copious Corsadil mouth washes and about half a tube of Bonjela. This morning it is still swollen but the pain has subsided to a large extent. Which is all to the good as I have to set to and make an apple tart first thing. I am very pleased that I organised the pie for today's lunch and tucked it away in the fridge or I would have had to do that too. Needless to say I didn't get the jobs done that were on my list. The shed tidying will have to wait until later in the week. I also have a bit of sorting out to do in the loft before the loft insulation people arrive at the end of the month. I some times wo…

Tuesday and a busy one

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The pale light of dawn shows the camellia in all it's glory as the flash picks up the white flowers. Well I bit the bullet and took myself swimming yesterday first I walked the dogs in the park and what a joy that was as they made me very proud. There were other dog walkers one of which had a chocolate Labrador who refused to return, she called and called but the dog was completely deaf to her owner so I whistled mine back to me to give her a chance but I ended up with an extra dog. It is at times like this that all the hard work of training pays off. Once the dogs had had their fun I headed for the pool but didn't push myself it being my first day back I didn't want to over do things. I then set too and made the pie for tomorrows shooting party in the end it contained bacon, chicken, leek, mushroom and bechamel sauce topped off with copious mashed potatoes. Tomorrow morning I will make the apple tart so that it will be freshly baked and should make a good desert. It is Shi…

Monday morning again

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The mahonia is in full flower and is giving off a lovely scent. It is a good job I write this blog or I would have no idea what day of the week it is. I was quite convinced that Friday was Saturday and have been one day out ever since. The shooting went well yesterday and we got around in just over an hour and a half which was very good going. The clays were as usual quite difficult to tax the good shots but we had fun anyway. The pasta lunch was a god send as we had little to do on our return bar boiling a bit of pasta, while we stripped and cleaned the guns. Once that was done and we had eaten we settled down to watch The Hurst Locker - well it was interesting and quite tense in places, maybe I am jaded, but I didn't think it warranted the hype of all the Oscars. I can see why the director got her Oscar but best film was a bit much - again it lacked a coherent story line and was more in the documentary style. Anyway, if you have seen it I would be interested in your opin…

Sunday morning

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Parma type hams hanging in the garage. We have an anti fly net under construction which should protect the hams for the summer months. Well according to the forecast it is going to be a lovely day which I hope is accurate as I am off shooting this morning. The club shoots on the top of the north downs near the Kent county show ground and the last time I shot there I am sure I had hypothermia....I am meeting Shiona there so we can go around together. The clays were very difficult the last time as they have some very good shots at the club but it is all practice for us so lets hope we have an enjoyable morning.

Yesterday was a very damp and miserable day but I did plant out the herbs in the green house but it was not a day for gardening. Both Basso and Nip had to be admonished for playing with the new turf lifting the corners of which they thought was a good game. I am now keeping a very close eye on them when they are outside to make sure that this doesn't become a habit.

The piece o…

Saturday and a bit wet

Yesterday was a day of rest no visitors which made me feel it was Saturday - I did go out and water the new lawn just in case it didn't rain but I need not have worried by mid afternoon it was raining steadily. However, I had already washed and dried the sheets and also the curtains from my bedroom which were looking a little sad.

On the food front I made some meat balls with some minced pork that I had from the great pig fest and I cooked them in the way I had seen Nigel Slater do that is to fry then for some colour and then transfer to the oven with some stock and continue cooking - well I am pleased to report that they were very nice and made enough for two meals. We had them with cauliflower cheese for lunch and again for supper but this time with a baked potato. Today I have a piece of belly of pork which has been marinading in rosemary and sage over night and I will fry the skin side until crisp then into the oven in some stock to cook the under side. Again I am hoping t…

Friday morning and the end of another week

Yesterday morning I finally knuckled down to making the bechamel sauce for the freezer. I had a bunch of parsley that was on the blink so I made a pint of parsley sauce which will be alright for salmon or fish pie etc. Then with the old bit of mouse trap cheese and the addition of some Parmesan I made 2 pints of cheese sauce, one of which will be used today to coat a cauliflower which turned up in my veg box. That left me 2 pints of plain bechamel which will do for things like lasagne or moussaka. So all in all a worth while mornings work and I only had one saucepan to wash up.
Margaret and Len turned up at about 10.30 which gave us plenty of time to go for a nice walk with the dogs. Mike dropped us off at one car park and then drove on to the next while we walked with the dogs along the "Saxon Shore Way" to meet him. This is a lovely way to walk as it means that you don't have to double back on the walk you have just done. Then it was on to the "Park Gate&quo…

Thursday and 8 degrees

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Well the temperature is rising and I must admit that I actually got too hot while shooting. However, I am not complaining as I have been frozen on so many occasions it is quite a treat to be too hot. I was pleased with my efforts and shot none too badly. Both Jeff and I had trouble with some of the clays and decided to use tracer cartridges which leave a bright red trail so you can see where you are in relation to the clay. We used three and each one powdered the clays so that was not much use. We decided that as the cartridges cost £1 each we were more careful with them and perhaps that is why we were directly on target. We got home at around 1pm and I went straight to the kitchen to get the lunch underway and Jeff cleaned the guns. Then no sooner than we had sat down to our shepherds pie and peas than the phone rang. It was Mark the gardener who had been laying a lawn all morning and had just enough turf to re-do my lawn and did I want him to come and do it. Well what could I say? S…
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Well what a lovely day it was yesterday the sun was warm on my back as I got on with some of the gardening. While I did some of the more delicate jobs like pruning the roses Mark made a wonderful job of the cupressus arch which has all been tied in and trimmed to shape. For the first time we noticed that we have had a flood of births in the pond and it is full of little fishes. This is actually a bit of a nuisance as it means we have too many fish for the water available and some will have to be caught and got rid of - this is no mean task as they are very difficult to catch. The many clematis that are scattered throughout the garden were also pruned back as were the raspberries - two large wheelie bins were filled with the prunings and are now out awaiting the bin men. Mark dug over the glass house and now all it needs is a bit of a wash down to clean the glass and get rid of the cob webs. The hens have settled down well in their run and have not seemed to suffer from the move.…

Tuesday and another busy day ahead

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This photo is if the tiny chalet bungalow that my grand parents lived in when I was at boarding school in Bath. Not a very good photo owing to the hedge but I am surprised it is still there as it sits on quite a large plot of land. Now as for yesterday I got most of the chores done early and started by making 2 large and 3 individual shepherds pies and an apple tart. Then it was out to sort out the hens - their run is now all set up on its new slab base and the girls have been transferred from the green house. Sandi arrived at just the moment when I needed a second pair of hands which made the job all the simpler as I would have struggled alone. I also got the bedding washed and out on the line so now I have a nice big pile of ironing but it is so lovely to get things dry outside instead of having them all draped around the house. Sandi fancied a trip to the cash and carry so we headed off in that direction after coffee. We needed toilet rolls and soap powder both of which are very mu…

Monday morning and up to 6 degrees

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Yesterday I had a trawl around on google street view and found the house that I used to live in when I was in nurse training. It looks very grand now but the bedsit that we had in the basement with a shared bathroom was anything but grand. Still when you're young it doesn't seem to matter much. Shooting yesterday was good I eventually began to shoot better once I had decided to use both eyes to track the clay then only one to shoot with and I even managed to get a better score on one stand than my guru Roger so I was more than happy. It was bitterly cold to start with as we shoot in some fairly deep woods but then as the day wore on the temperature began to rise and by the time we had finished it was pleasantly warm and the sun was shining. It was nearly 2pm when we got home so it was off to bed for a rest as I was feeling pretty shattered. We were both hungry that evening having only had a roll for brunch so we ordered a take away curry which was delicious but very naug…

Sunday and mothers day

When I dropped into Tesco yesterday you couldn't fail to notice that it was mothers day a the front of the store was awash in flowers with hoards of children crowded around trying to choose something suitable. Of course all the prices were higher than usual and just behind was the usual flower display with more reasonably priced offerings. Fortunately all I needed was some parsley and some milk so I was in and out in a flash. The dogs had had a nice walk in the woods but Basso was a little head strong and not coming back when called which meant that it was a rather slow walk as some discipline was necessary. By the time we got back the leg of lamb was ready to go so we sat down to a lovely lunch of roast lamb with swede and carrot mash cabbage and potatoes and I broke open a jar of blackberry jelly rather than redcurrant which made a nice change. I had some pears which needed eating so I made pears poached in red wine for dessert which went down very well. For supper we had …

Saturday and a day of rest

Good morning all. I am up late this morning but that is due to the late night I had. We were out until late helping a friend out, well what can you do when someone needs help drinking champagne!!! Yesterday, had been such a miserable day it rained on and off all day and was still bitterly cold but I am glad to report that the temperature has risen and it is a toasty 5 degrees this morning. Today is destined to be a quiet day but I am going to roast a leg of lamb as I will not have time tomorrow as I am off shooting and then on Monday and Tuesday I have visitors so shepherds pies will come in handy. It is quite a big leg so it will do us for supper tonight and cold for supper tomorrow and then on to the pies for Monday and Tuesday. I set the desiccator to work yesterday and dried some celery and onions so now I have the makings of most soups and stews so I will have to have a go at reconstituting and see if it is worth eating or if it is like a pot noodle!!!! Yuck!!!! My origina…

Friday at last

It is still perishingly cold here but the weather forecast says it should be getting warmer by weekend. The carpets are now clean an the house smells very unusual apparently the deodoriser is supposed to be cherry scented but it smells of cyanide to me however it is less like a dog kennel. I don't think the dogs are very impressed with the smell. The house is in a bit of disarray as we move lots of bits and pieces out of the room so that the guy could get to the carpet. However now that it is dry we can move stuff back in and tidy up.
I made another of the Raymond Blanc apple pies and as predicted there is none left, half disappeared for lunch and the remainder for supper after the sticky chicken wings which were rather tasty.
Today I am at a bit of a loose end as we are going out for supper tonight to celebrate the purchase of a Len and Margaret's new car. They were given a couple of bottles of champagne and feel they need some help to consume them. Needless to say they t…

Thursday and a change of plan

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What you can see is the result of my desiccation experiment from left to right 4 parsnips, a small cabbage, a bulb of fennel and in the foreground 6 diced carrots. These have now been put into air tight containers ready for part 2 of the experiment when I try reconstituting them. If this experiment works then it is by far the easiest way of saving excess produce as from now on it will not require any energy to unlike freezing. The bulk is very heavily reduced as you can see and so requires less room. I will let you know how it progresses and if it is worth the work. Yesterday my new sight arrived for my gun and I had intended to have a mornings practice on my own to get used to it but as things have turned out I am going to be clearing out the dining room for the carpet to be cleaned. We had a leaflet through the door which offered a very cheap trial run to do 2 rooms for £15 well that is too good to miss so I booked it up and unfortunately they can come today which knocks the s…

Wednesday morning and Bin Day

Good morning all. Well at least it is above freezing this morning if not by much. We solved the lunch problem yesterday by having a Cornish pasty from the baker at about 11.30 before setting out to the cinema and then had a risotto to which I added the left over chicken when got home as dinner which we had fairly early. Now on to Avatar - well as I suspected the plot was not exactly taxing but the special effects were pretty to watch. The 3D was interesting but not as spectacular as I had anticipated but that could be due to my over anticipation. I am glad that I have seen it but would not rush to recommend it.

After much discussion we have decided to get our water via a water meter and Mike phoned Southern water on Monday to make this request. Yesterday morning bright and early they were here to install the meter which took all of about 5 minutes. We are hoping that it will make us a saving of about £70 per annum but we will have to wait and see. The only really big problem we foresee…

Tuesday morning and getting warmer

Good morning all I am bit late this morning as I got sidetracked reading up on dehydrating food I purchased a dehydrator some time ago and really must put it to better use. I have a stack of carrots which I think I may try to desiccate and see how they turn out. Yesterday was a very cold day to start with but I did manage to get out with the dogs for a decent walk which did blow a few cobwebs out. My cold is still lingering but with each passing day I am improving but it is a long slow process. I also managed to roast a chicken for lunch, it was a very small bird not much bigger than a Poussin so it didn't take long in the oven and we have the breast left for lunch today but we are hoping to go to the cinema and see Avatar. Unfortunately the film starts at 12.30 which makes it really awkward for lunch. If the story line is a poor as the directors other film Titanic then it will be a bit of a let down however it is the special effects and 3D that I am interested in. I will le…

Monday morning and still below zero

It is yet another very frosty morning but it is still pitch black outside. The shooting yesterday was good fun but very difficult - it was a competition shoot so it is made quite hard so that it tests the better shots. I managed to shoot something on each of the stands bar one so I was not too unhappy. The problem for us all was the cold it was not too bad if you were in the open when there was some of the suns warmth but deep in the woods it was absolutely freezing and as there were so many people shooting there was quite a wait on each stand. By the time we were finished I was frozen to the marrow and could hardly feel my hands and feet. The shoot was up on the top of the north downs so got the full benefit of the wind straight from Siberia.

We stopped off at KFC on the way home as it was well passed lunch time and bought ourselves some bits and pieces for lunch which we devoured hungrily before crashing out in bed for a rest. We munched the duck legs for supper just as they we…

Sunday and sub zero

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Carpets of snow drops are about the only thing in the garden that is in flower but they do look spectacular. The clumps are gradually thickening up and are making a nice show. Today I have been invited to go shooting and I think I am well enough for a couple of hours sport. It is set to be dry but very cold so it will be all of my winter warm gear including the silk long johns as the last thing I need is to get cold. Basso is full of beans and mischief I think he really could use a long walk as he is showing signs of boredom. The older dogs are better able to cope with the quiet life so he will be coming with us to the shooting if only for a change of scene. Mike got us a chicken which is destined for lunch today but I will not be around to cook it so I think it will either have to be for tomorrow or I will cook it for supper if I have the energy. Last night we had a lovely cottage pie courtesy of Elaine which was a real treat as all I had to do was give it 20 minutes in the oven -…

Saturday

It is 6am and just getting light so the days are beginning to lengthen at last. It is a positively balmy 5 degrees this morning so no frost. The week of sunshine has meant that the bulbs are really beginning to poke their noses above the ground and the spring flowers can't be far away. I noticed from the photos I took last year that they were all out in bloom by 17th March so we are about a fortnight away.

As I felt a bit better yesterday I set to and made the Raymond Blanc apple tart which I must say was a roaring success so much so that it got eaten and there is none left. The pastry was nice and crisp and biscuit like, the filling was tasty and the apples held their shape and looked very decorative. The addition of a splash of calvados certainly made a difference and although I didn't have any double cream for the filling milk work very well. It is something I will do again as it is an ideal dessert or afternoon tea treat and a great way to use up the apples that are g…

Friday and one degree only

It is perishing cold this morning but I had a really good nights sleep last night so I am feeling a bit perkier this morning. Now I need to be careful that I don't go mad and over do things. I think gentle pottering is in order. I am desperate to get out in the garden but I must be strong minded and stay in the warm for a couple more days. Elaine rang me last night to see how I was and she is bringing me a shepherds pie to save me cooking - isn't that thoughtful?
The dogs did rather well yesterday as I cooked a couple of sirloin steaks that Mike had got earlier in the week but they didn't smell right and rather than risk food poisoning on top of everything else I gave them to the dogs. We just had the baked potatoes I had done to go with them. Today I have a rack of lamb which I will do with some mash and purple sprouting broccoli and have the shepherds pie tomorrow. I am inundated with vegetables at the moment which just goes to show how many we normally eat. I als…

Thursday and still very cold

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This is a photo of the new slab work for the chicken house once the mortar has gone off I will give it hose down and then reassemble the chicken house.

Yesterday I did what I have been told to do - I rested in my bed for most of the day only venturing forth for hot drinks and the odd meal. I did all my morning chores quickly and dressed exotically with my dressing gown over a pair of fleece trousers and with a fleece jacket over the top. I don't think I would have won any prizes for fashion but it did keep me warm while I was out in the frost sorting out the hens and doing the dog poo. I must admit that I do feel marginally better this morning and if I can get through this without a course of antibiotics I shall be very pleased.

So not a lot to report except that I watched "The lives of others" a subtitled german film which had been on BBC4 and is still on the iplayer - it is a very good film so if you have the chance it is well worth watching.

Today I am going to keep…

Wednesday morning and Bin Day

What a busy day yesterday, at first light and in the deep frost I went and dismantled the chicken house so that Mark the gardener could relay the slabs. As soon as he lifted them he found what the problem was there were loads of tunnels where the rats had tried to burrow up underneath. This time the slabs have been laid on a bed of sand and cement so they should hold firm. I am hoping that by the weekend the mortar will have gone off and I will be able to reassemble the house and get the chickens moved back. He has put a nice left to right slope on the slabs so that the water will run off and I can hose it down as necessary. As he said he is a quick worker and was happy to continue with some other jobs so I asked him to cut back the hydrangea petiolaris which was making its way under the tiles of the garage roof he then tackled the trachelospermum jasminoides which is climbing up the front of the house and getting involved in the porch roof both jobs involved the ladder so I was…

Tuesday and a busy one

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The Camellia is in flower some what late this year but welcome none the less. What a lovely sunny day we had yesterday a real feel of spring in the air. For the first time this year I managed to get a load of washing dried in the garden in the fresh air and what a difference it makes. I did manage a few chores in the garden until I ran out of energy - the bees got a feed of sugar and I spent an hour picking off all the unripe figs from the fig tree and giving it a bit of a prune. Today the gardener is coming first thing and the weather looks good so hopefully the hen run will be ready for the girls tomorrow and I can then get to grips with the green house. The engineer came and fixed the fan on my computer which needless to say was full of dust and filth but now it is running quietly at last. Apparently there are 5 fans inside keeping the processor cool but they do suck all the muck in very quickly. The insulation guy came at the same time so while I dealt with the computer guy Mike…

Monday morning and the beginning of a new month

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Spring is on the way the little daffodils are out as is the Camellia. Yesterday must have been one of the driest day ever it rained from morning until night, nothing very heavy but constant. I had to put my rain coat over my dressing gown when I went up to sort out the chickens - they were very happy of course in the nice dry and warm green house. The dogs kept getting soaked when they went out and there is nothing quite like the gentle hum of sopping wet dogs as they slowly dry out. I was quite pleased that my nose is pretty blocked up as a least it spared me most of the aroma.
Today looks like a whole different ball game the sun is almost up and the sky is clear it is however pretty chilly at 2 degrees. I still feel rocky but with not much to show for it. The glands in one side of my neck are very swollen and sore so at least they are doing their job and hopefully this will pass without much by way of intervention.
It looks like a good day for some gardening so I will try to get a c…