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Showing posts from June, 2010

Thursday

Wednesday and bin day

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A lovely bunch of roses that Shiona brought for my Birthday. Yesterday was a strange day weather wise in the morning we had a bit of a downpour not really enough to do the garden any good but certainly enough to take the temperature down a couple of degrees. However as the temperature rose it then became like a sauna and was extremely muggy. Jane came on the dot of 9 am and we had a look at the photos of her son in Disneyland Florida where he had just been for a fortnights holiday. Then it was on with the bed changing and a general clean up. I got a very interesting phone call from my sister who has not spoken to me in the last 10 years - don't know what to make of that and I am still busy trying analyse what provoked this contact!!!! For lunch I cooked some scallops gratin which we had with crusty bread and a salad. the recipe for the scallops was from Ina Garten and is one that I will certainly use again as it is an ideal light lunch or starter for visitors which can be compl…

Wednesday and bin da

Tuesday morning

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Not the best photo but Basso is actually picking up the latest feral pigeon casualty.
Well it is in excess of 20 degrees this morning and the sun is not even over the trees yet. There is quite a lot of cloud in the sky and according to the forecast we may get a shower or two today. This would be very welcome for the garden as it is all looking pretty dry. It was gone 9 pm last night when I went out with the hose and gave the vegetables a drink. We had started the day by taking the dogs for a walk and having a training session with Basso. It is such a great help to have James with me and it means I can do so much more with the dog if I have an extra pair of hands. By 10 am it was scorching hot again and we huddled in doors with the fans of full belt to try and keep cool. For lunch I made gnocchi de gries which are feather light little dumplings made from semolina which we had in a bowl of chicken broth made from Sunday's roast. For supper we had a plate of pasta with courget…

Monday morning

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We are starting the morning off at 20 degrees which at the moment feels cool. Yesterday was absolutely killing by the afternoon. James arrived nice and early and we spent some time comparing notes. He with his iphone and me with my ipad, he has much more experience of the applications that are available so we down loaded a couple to play with. The new oven was pressed into service and roasted a chicken very evenly. One of the features I like about it that it tells you how long it has been on for and with my absent mindedness that is a very useful function. Basso and the boys were quite happy just to lounge around yesterday and we just played a little in the garden - going out walking was out of the question as it was scalding by about 10 am. We settled down to lunch and the grand Prix and then went on to watch the football but soon decided it was going to be a disaster and ended up watching "Carry on up the Khyber" which was by far the better option. Supper last nigh…

Sunday morning

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Well what a day we had yesterday! We left home at 7.15 and arrived at Elstead just before 9 am it was already getting hot but we managed to park in the shade of a large tree which meant that at least the car would stay cool even if we didn't. It was a well attended day with plenty of Spinone as well as other HPR's such as German pointers and Hungarian vizsla. Basso was a complete plonker and mucked about all day with the exception of the hunting exercise which he did really well. However I didn't feel too bad as many of the other dogs were just as disobedient. It is somewhat disappointing when you know that they can do things but seem utterly determined to show you up. It was extremely hot and as you can see from the photo while working we were out in the direct sun. We had a half hour break for lunch of a roll with a sausage in it and copious amounts of water. By the end of the training session Mike had had enough and there was only the water still to go. Given…

Saturday and a hot one

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I think I am mad, today, being the hottest day of the year so far, I am going to run about in a field with my dog!!!! Last year, when we attended the training day/field trial it was the hottest day and we all nearly died of heat exhaustion and today looks no different. I have put the fridge in the car and frozen a couple of ice packs in anticipation so at least I will be better prepared and will not be drinking hot coke. Anyway, if it is really too much we can always come home.
Yesterday was an oven testing day I made the meringues first thing which turned out really well and cooked at 110 degrees to a crisp and dry finish. I then made a quiche with some cheese and Swiss chard which as it turned out was absolutely delicious. It served for two meals and made catering very easy. At about 10 am I took the dogs for a walk but it was too hot: it was not even sunny but over cast with not a breath of wind. The dogs enjoyed splashing around in the water and I must admit I envied them. …

Friday morning

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The woolly bear is no more in his place is a sleek, slim and handsome boy. We set off at the crack of dawn to go to the college where they have built a beautiful new small animal facility. The grooming parlour is absolutely lovely and there I left a bemused Basso. When I returned at 2.30 he was still being finished off and final adjustments made to his face. Apparently he had been as good as gold and showered his groomer with kisses. He was very eager to go home and once in the car he collapsed exhausted. All this beautifying really took it out of him he ate his supper and put himself to bed by 6pm but not before we managed to get a couple of snaps. The oven arrived at 12.30 and took the men about half an hour to install and set up. I think I need a degree in aeronautical engineering to operate it so the manual is sitting prominently in the dining room for reference. I did manage to roast off a couple of duck legs for supper but was too knackered to bother with making meringu…

Thursday morning

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A bit of a different perspective of the garden but sadly the sun is not yet up!!!
Sometime you dispair with the world and then something makes you rejoice. I ordered the sheet of glass from the green house company on Tuesday afternoon and was given the usual 28 day delivery date but the young lady said she would mark it urgent and we should get it within 10 days. 24 hours later it had arrived now doesn't that make the heart grow fonder.... not only did it arrive quickly but it came with the rubber flange and was £3 cheaper than the local glazier could supply including postage and packing.
It was very warm yesterday so I spent much of the day just pottering and fiddling with bits and bobs but I did get to have a look at the bees. One colony is doing well but the other is very depleted and appears to have nothing but drone brood in it which doesn't bode well for the future. However, I think I am just going to sit tight and wait and see what happens now that the weather has pi…
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Basso is keeping an eye on me from the kitchen roof. Please note what a superb colour match his coat is for the house wall!!!! He looks like a woolly bear but hopefully by tomorrow evening he will be looking sleek and handsome.
Yesterday, Mark came to do some gardening and the place looks so much better for it - but he tripped and put his elbow through a pane of glass on the green house. Thank heavens it is toughened glass and shattered like a car windscreen or we would have been in casualty for the rest of the day. I have ordered a new pane from the company from whom I bought the green house who had all my details on record so it was very easy. What was not so easy was clearing up the glass which had gone everywhere. The only answer was to hoover it up - it comes to something when you are seen hovering your garden!!!! I now have a completely free vegetable bed and think I will plant some dwarf French beans as I don't think you can ever have too many of them. However I will …
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Finally summer is here and the temperature is rising. June is the month for roses and this is one of my favourites, Whiskey Mac. Yesterday was a quiet day pottering in the garden and doing the laundry. I stripped out the broad beans which were being severely attacked by black-fly. There were enough pods to make a jolly good meal and as there were some rather older ones I went to the trouble of removing the grey jackets once they had had a boil. I then fried a little bacon and onion and turned them into it just before serving with the roast lamb rump. Mike had bought some strawberries which we had for desert. John Lewis rang to arrange the installation of the oven which is coming on Thursday. Sadly I may not be here when they arrive as I have to deliver Basso to the hairdresser/groomer at 9 am and collect him at 2.30 pm, however Mike is quite capable of sorting it out so it will not be a problem. Jane came and worked her magic so the house is not not only tidy but also clean. …

Monday morning

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At last the wind has dropped and the temperature is rising we have a positively balmy 13 degrees this morning with just some light cloud. The photo is of the wonderful sweet peas that my neighbour brought me; if only mine turn out so well I will be very pleased. I finally finished the crossword puzzle in the Telegraph, which took quite a bit of research and google and wikipedia were put to full use. I have never learned how to do cryptic puzzles but I do like the general knowledge ones. I spent some time in the garden and did the usual weeding and watering and am pleased to report that things are coming along, all be it slowly. I think we may have an abundant autumn. For lunch I did the last veal chops which were absolutely delicious I can't wait until we go back to Suffolk so I can buy some more... None of our local butchers stock veal which is a real pity. For supper we had a fish curry from the freezer and while not spectacular is was passable. I also spent untold hours…

Sunday Morning

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If you were just waking from a coma and you were informed that it was October I for one would believe it. It is still miserable with a cold wind and as I look at the thermometer it is only 10 degrees. Shiona rang early yesterday to suggest that given the weather conditions we might prefer not to come to the outdoor play. As it turned out this was a good decision as it rained on an off for most of the day. We then found ourselves with a free day so I rang Margaret and Len and suggested that they might like to go somewhere for lunch. They came to us at about 11 and after coffee and a guided tour of the ipad we set off for a nice gastropub where we had a very adequate lunch. It was so substantial that we had a couple of spears of cold asparagus and a slice of bread for supper and felt we had had sufficient.
For the princely sum of £2.99 I bought a bridge application for the ipad which Mike is very taken with so I am now able to reward him by allowing him to play with it. I am how…

Saturday morning

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Yesterday was a good day but I had trouble tearing myself away from the ipad - I keep finding new and wonderful applications and things it can do. Sandi and David got stuck in traffic so we went shopping as soon as they arrived. The cash and carry was pretty crowded but we managed to everything on our lists. It was really helpful to have David with us as he humped the big sacks of dog food into the car. I restocked with cleaning products and kitchen roll so hopefully I am set up for the next 6 months. Mike stayed at home with the dogs and waited in vain for the call from John Lewis about the instalation of the cooker. Maybe they will ring today? Once we had off loaded all the stuff we settled down to lunch. I had made a plain tortilla which I served with a mixed salad and I was pleased there was not a morsel left. Basso had great fun with Casey his long time girl friend and the two of them spent a good time under the table just cuddling one another. Joyce, my elderly neighbour…

Friday still fairly windy

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Well what a day I had yesterday, after breakfast we shot off to Bluewater and were standing outside John Lewis but 9.55 waiting for the doors to open at 10. We then made our way to the white goods department and had a look at ovens. It took me no time at all to make the decision on which one to have. It is a John Lewis own brand which apparently are made by Electrolux but are some what cheaper. I went for the double oven to replace my existing one but joy of joys it has no knobs to get dirty so the front is quite smooth. The glass door has a panel which comes out very easily for cleaning and the seal is easily replaced. All the functions are digital so at last I will be able to gauge the oven temperature more accurately. Today we should get a phone call from the fitters so we can organise a day for them to come and fit it.
Then it was on to the Apple store for my birthday present!!!! I bought an ipad with 3G capability as well as Wi Fi so that I can use it in the caravan provid…

Thursday

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A self seeded display of daisies!!!
At last yesterday I seemed to regain a little humph and got all my chores done - The grass got mowed and a good bit of weeding and watering was done. All the ironing got done and put away. I then had some fun in the kitchen and made large quantities of curry 4 portions of monk fish and 8 portions of chicken and cleaned the tiles and windows. All the curry is now in the freezer for use at a later date. The fish monger also delivered some smoked haddock which I have frozen with Cullen skink in mind. There were also a pair of nice Dover soles which we will have for supper tonight with a nice mixed salad. The Dover's were caught in the Medway estuary so you can't get more local than that. Shiona arrive just after 3pm with her dogs looking lovely having just been bathed and stripped but within 5 minutes Hamish had found some mud and he was filthy. We dunked him in some water and washed him off but he ran back out into the garden and came ba…

Wednesday and bin day

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A self seeded poppy that has sprung up in one of the beds and is looking very attractive.
Yesterday was very chilly with a nasty cold wind blowing and this morning it looks suspiciously like rain with big dark clouds and still the strong breeze. I did manage to get my sage plants in the ground and do a few bits of weeding but there is oh so much more to be done. Sadly I never got round to doing the grass but a few more days wont hurt it.
I made a really very tasty chicken curry which we ate for lunch with basmati rice and then decided that rather than freeze the other half we would have it again for supper. I also made three shepherds pies which are in the freezer and we may well be having one of those for lunch today with the Swiss chard which is in need of eating. The broad beans are now suffering from black fly so I picked another pan full yesterday to have with supper and it will not be long before I will be pulling the plants out as they have little left to give - perhaps a…

Tuesday morning

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My neighbours beautiful weigelia is tumbling over the fence making quite a display.
All my grand plans for yesterday somewhat fizzled out by the time I had found all the paper work and booked up our day trip to France it was time for Elaine to come for coffee. She then came with me and the dogs to walk up the road and get a few bits and pieces and to post the stuff off to Euro-tunnel. Sending the Tesco vouchers and form cost nearly £5 as it has to go special delivery to ensure it arrives within the four day limit. You would have thought that first class would be enough but apparently it is not. Elaine took Basso and he was a perfect gentleman for her he sat nicely at all the road junctions and waited while I went in a did the shopping. We had bought Elaine a new bay tree as she had lost the one I had given her many years ago which had gone from house to house with her. It was originally to be a Christmas present but every time she comes to visit we were having to hide it so we de…

Monday morning

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Acres of mud at low tide only the surface is a benign brown colour underneath it is thick and black a smelly. I know this from bitter experience with the dogs!!!! Yesterday, I managed to get all my chores done quite early and then stuck a leg of lamb in the oven and went out with the dogs. I had picked a big trug full of broad beans which Mike and I sat and shucked - I have always enjoyed sitting round a table shelling peas or the like it is such a nice time to have a chat and I can remember spending hours with my grandmother doing just this sort of chore and chatting merrily. Anyway, by the time we had finished there were easily enough beans for four portions so we will be having them again today. It is very satisfying to be eating your own vegetables while they are still screaming..... There is plenty of cold lamb left so I will be making a couple of shepherds pies today which can go in the freezer. However, I was looking around the kitchen yesterday and noticed how grubby the ti…

Sunday

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Photo of cartridge cases being ejected from the gun which Sandi took on our last shooting day.
Yesterday, went well with the hordes arriving close to 12 midday by which time all was ready and all I had to do was to put on the potatoes and serve every thing. Shiona had booked a hair appointment for her auntie at 3.30 which meant once fed they departed quite quickly. As it was a cold buffet style lunch it meant just filling the dish washer there were no pots and pans to deal with. Supper was easy too as we just grazed on the left overs. The five dogs amused them selves and Hamish managed to get himself into the small pond and get soaked. It is very funny to watch him and Basso playing as there is such a disparity in size. Everyone had a wander up and down the garden and made complimentary noises. By the time I had cleared up I was completely pole axed and ready for my bed so after putting the hens to bed and watering the green house that is exactly where I went.
Today is destined…

Saturday morning and dry

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We set off for Peterborough in the thrashing rain at about 9 am. I had got soaked just loading the car but as we progressed northwards so the rain eased and by the time we reached out destination it was fine and warm. In fact the weather was so good that we sat outside for coffee and also for lunch. I had drawn the short straw and was driving the homeward leg which to two and three quarter hours. This meant that we arrived home around 7.30pm by which time I was very tired and so I just fed the dogs their supper and took to my bed where I became unconscious by about 9pm.
Today I am up at the crack of dawn but feel well rested and able to get stuck into the preparations for lunch today. Mike will get sent to get some crusty bread and some cream to go with our lunch as soon as he is conscious which I don't expect to be for a while yet. I have an assortment of cold meats and cheeses and many and various salad and some lovely new potatoes which I intend to put on big plates and le…

Friday and where is the rain?

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We ate our first broad beans this week - what a treat to pick, cook and eat with in the hour.... Yesterdays dash to the shops was very successful and we managed to avoid buying any goodies for ourselves. We then found that we got to the dentist an hour early so as the dogs were in the car we drove out to Penenden Heath and found a nice bit of woodland where I could take them for a walk. Neither of us had any dental problems so we just had the usual clean and polish and we were back home by 1pm. Our dentist is usually a very cheery chap but he was in a really miserable mood and gave us the impression that he was just going through the motions which left us both feeling a bit let down. Some how we felt we had made the effort and so should he!!!! Fortunately, I had made the Cullen skink so all that was needed was to re-heat it and bingo lunch was ready. The weather forecast was for very heavy rain over night and into the morning so I decided to get all the troughs under cover and …

Thursday

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Rejoice!!!! the grass is cut and the ironing done. I don't understand why I put these jobs off as they are actually not that bad and take much less time than I anticipate. Terry came to look over my bees at around 11 which meant taking a Piriton at about 10 as it turned out I did get stung but with no systemic effects. The bees are not performing well and the queens have gone off the lay which we think is largely down to the weather conditions. I was pleased to have Terry to confirm that I was making a correct diagnosis of the problem and my decision to leave them to get on with it was the right one. I will have another look next week and see if any progress is being made. The only problem with taking the Piriton is that they make me very sleepy so the afternoon siesta was considerably longer than I had anticipated. I was dead to the world for several hours. Yesterdays, food was disappointing but then again that was to be expected as food with fat largely remove for calori…

Wednesday

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Yesterday was a day of constant showers so I decided to leave the hens in the small run which is sheltered as they are way to stupid to stay out of the rain. The washing that was on the line eventually dried but the bath mats which are heavy cotton have stayed out all night. This morning I decided to that having started this diet lark it would be sensible to know where I was starting from so I stood on the scales - well it was a bit of a shock and I now know that I have at least a stone and a half to loose so it will be a long haul. Still it is easier in the summer with salads and fruit available so I am not going to moan about it. Today's menu will consist of some spinach and cottage cheese filo rolls for lunch and for dinner Mike and I will share a tin of tuna baked with some pasta and a salad. I didn't manage to get the grass cut yesterday so I will give it another try today. I am also hoping that Terry will come and have a look at my bees so that will take a while. …

Tuesday

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Well yesterday was a day for planning and I have gone through my various low calorie cookery books and made some choices for our meals. We had a nice onion and panceta soup for lunch and as it was enough for 4 we will be having it again today. For dinner we had a small piece of steamed salmon with asparagus and some strawberries with a tablespoon of double cream on - So a good start. Interestingly the strawberries were from Tesco and were reminiscent of rubber balls the texture was terrible and the flavour not much better. I assume they must travel well as they had not other redeeming feature. Last week we had had some from a man who has a road side stall and they were truly delicious. Tonight for supper we are destined to have a minute piece of chicken with some couscous and some sea beat that I picked while out walking the dogs yesterday. I met Elaine down at the estuary at 9 am as the tide was in at that time and I hoped that Basso might venture into the water. The two smal…

Monday morning

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Is this and underground spring bubbling up through the ground or is it a sewage out let? I am going with the underground spring it is so much more romantic.... Well yesterday was one of absolute sloth - did I do the ironing or walk the dogs - no I just dossed around all day doing nothing in particular. At least that hot sticky weather had subsided and we were treated to the occasional shower and a cool breeze. The dogs didn't seem keen to go out and they too just lay about the place snoozing and only burst into life when there was food on offer. I should have gone shooting yesterday morning but have decided not to waste the cartridges until my eye is sorted out. It did however leave a big hole in the day. Today I have plans to get down to the estuary for high tide at 9am to see if Basso has finally worked up enough courage to get in the water and swim with the other dogs. I am then going to plan out a menu for a week so that I am not constantly chasing my tail trying to decide…

Sunday continued

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Cobb barbecue system available from Amazon or Lakeland

Sunday after a wet night

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Yesterday was very hot and muggy so we decided to get the shopping and dog walking done early before it got too hot. The picture shows Basso down by the estuary enjoying a nice run. While I was out there I picked us some more sea beat and also some sea purslane which I had not tried before. As it turned out it made an interesting vegetable with not a great deal of flavour but a nice texture. I bought a copy of the telegraph as I enjoy doing the general knowledge crossword puzzle and guess which bit of the enormous paper was missing. Yes correct, the crossword puzzle so I am left with lots of chicken bedding instead....We stopped off at the butcher and bought some ready made skewers of chicken marinated in various things as I intended a barbecue that evening. then it was on to buy some layers pellets as the hen are getting low on food. They have reduced the sack size from 25kg to 20 which makes them a little easier to carry. By the time we got home it was very hot and sticky so …

Saturday morning

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Yesterday was a brilliant day with wall to wall sunshine. I got the hens cleaned out and as usual put the eggs in my pocket - this is not an intelligent thing to do but up until now I have got away with it. However yesterday I managed to smash one en route to the kitchen - what a mess!!!! All the canes were placed and the runner bean seeds planted and watered in. The vegetable garden doesn't get the full sun until around 10 am so it gives me a bit of time to work in the cool. Then it was off for a dog walk in the cool of the woods. Basso was bursting with energy and ran his legs off. Once he was over the initial exuberance he was very well behaved and answered all his commands including "over" to make him jump obstacles. I had gone with my friend and her three children and the girls were quite impressed with his jumping skills. By 12 it was very hot and the dogs were panting violently so when we got home I gave Basso a good hose down in the garden with cool water. …

Friday and the end of another week

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I had a reasonably busy day yesterday but only catching up on bits and pieces of house work and gardening. I managed to get the sweet peas planted out and staked and today I am going to inter plant them with runner bean seeds. I think the two should look nice planted together. It was such a lovely day that I took the dogs for a nice walk along the estuary where I managed to pick some sea beat which is growing well now that we have a bit of sunshine. I cooked it for lunch to have with a chicken pie that I had made - most acceptable and better still free. Later in in the evening I took a Piriton tablet and went and had a look at the bees. The kilos of sugar syrup had vanished and one hive seems to be doing well the other is full of drone brood which is not so good and I am at a loss to understand what is happening so I have had to call on Terry my bee mentor to give me some advise. Unfortunately he was out collecting swarms so I will try to contact him today and see what he has t…

Thursday and sunny and warm

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Yesterday was on of some excitement firstly I managed to bop a pigeon with the air rifle but sadly if fell in my neighbours garden so I had to go and fetch it and dispatch it quickly. Basso needless to say was eager to help. I decided it was a good time to practice so I sat him up and threw the pigeon on to the lawn then sent him to fetch it - this he did without fault and returned it to my hand where he gave it to me when I gave the command "dead". I was thrilled skinny and heaped lavish praise on him. What more can you ask of a hunting dog?
Sandi and David arrived at around 10 am and after some coffee and exchange of gifts - they brought 2 bunches of asparagus and I gave them a dozen eggs we set off to the shooting ground. Sadly I soon discovered that with my right eye out of commission seeing clays at a distance was neigh on impossible for me so it was all rather frustrating and I think I may well have to give up shooting until my eye is fixed. Sandi was not shooti…

Wenesday and dry again

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Well the promised rain came but not until Mark had done the jobs in the garden. The patio got cleared of old redundant pots and troughs of bulbs and the lawn got a good hair cut and looks so much better. The hole that Basso dug has been filled in with some nice pebbles which I have given a liberal coating of Jeyes fluid which should keep him off. The box hedging was also trimmed so that too is looking more elegant. We left the bay trees as the black bird is still sitting on her nest. I took a couple of pot shots with the air rifle at the pigeons who are sitting eating all the buds on my acacia tree. I went for the bodies so they were not killed but given a sever slapping so hopefully they will go an eat someone else's trees. As we were finishing in the garden Jane arrived with her son in tow. He is a really bright lad and was very keen to have a guided tour of the garden - he was fascinated by the fish, chickens and bees but completely bowled over when I showed him the bla…

Tuesday morning

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So many shades of green!!! Yesterday was not the best day weather wise but it suited me fine as I had a very productive day in the garden. I managed to plant out my tomatoes and cucumbers in the green house and also got the peas, French beans and borlotti beans all planted in the vegetable beds as well as some beetroot. Now all we need is some rain to wet the ground really well which according to the weather forecast is due today. While I was busy planting Basso excavated the usual hole in the lawn and I was so cross when I saw what he had done. Punishing a dog is not easy but he was shown his misdemeanour and then put in his crate and ostracised for several hours. I don't know if this will have any effect but he did seem to know he was in disgrace. Today Mark, the gardener, is due and I think I will ask him to fill the dug area with pebbles: I know when I am beaten!!!! I am hoping that if he comes early he will be ahead of the rain and be able to run his mower over the rem…