Showing posts from April, 2011

Saturday morning

Well what a day after my very early start I went back to bed and slept until 7.30 but was then visited with a terrible headache for my troubles.  So it was on with the cure of copious coffee and paracetamol then slouching in a chair to watch the wedding, interspersed with odd dashes to the kitchen where a pot of fabulous asparagus soup was slowly being made.
Although I am a great cynic I did enjoy the wedding and though it was done very well in fact it made me proud to be British.  If there is one thing we do well it is one of these big state occasions.  The dress was lovely and very understated and I loved the trees in the abbey.  I really do wish them well and don't envy them what is to come.  I hope the media will leave them alone now and let them get on with married life.
My indolent start to the day continued and the whole day was frittered away doing very little but what the heck some times its nice to have a day off.  Later in the evening we spent some time with the hose p…

Friday morning

Good morning all, it is stupid o'clock and I am sadly wide awake - Yesterdays shooting trip went well once we had finally managed to get to the shooting ground.  There had been a fracas on the M25 where a lorry had shed its load of scrap metal and had blocked the roundabout that we needed to cross which meant an hours slow detour through the back streets of Dartford before we could finally get to the shooting club.  It was decided that we would have something to eat first as we were going to be very late starting.  We had a reduced round of 50 each and James thoroughly enjoyed himself and shot very well for a novice.  Fortunately the homeward journey was without incident but we didn't get back until about 3pm.  Once the guns had been cleaned and beers drunk Shiona booked us our day trip to France which will happen the day after we return from holiday.  Mike will be staying at home so it will be just us girls on the trip.  James and Jeff loaded his car with all the grass cutti…

Thursday morning and shooting day

This is a pittosporum tenuifolium purpureum with the new growth a lovely bright green and the older leaves a dark purple.

Yesterday started pretty cool with some cloud and a gentle breeze but it did brighten up as the day wore on and by the the time we went out with the dogs it was very pleasant.  With James here it was also a good opportunity to do a bit of training with Basso.  We hid his very frozen pheasant in the garden then sent him out to look for it.  It took him only seconds to locate the bird and retrieve it.  His sense of smell never ceases to amaze me.  For lunch we had a full English breakfast and for supper we had a nice sea food risotto which included a bunch of asparagus.  A marriage mad in heaven!!!!  James spent the afternoon showing a colleague around the neighbourhood.  She is looking to sell her house and move to this area so it was a case of showing her the bits to avoid.  I suppose all towns have nice areas and areas you would not wish to live in.

Today we are e…

Wednesday morning and bin day

It's a dogs life After a nice long walk how else would you relax?  Yesterday went well we took the dogs out bright and early while Mark made some headway in the garden and Jane ran round with the hoover.  I had made a nice cheese and onion flan for lunch which we had with assorted salads and cold meats.  the day had started off very cold and overcast but did eventually brighten up and the evening was glorious.  The irrigation system is working well in the green house so at least that is one area that I don't have to water. Basso decided to wake my at 4am barking at something in the garden, probably a fox, which is pretty unusual for him as he never barks unless it is necessary.  The two terriers are much more yappy and make a real fuss if anyone comes to the front door.  I really could have done with a bit more sleep but I guess I will have to have a good kip this afternoon.  James is giving a work colleague a guided tour of the Medway towns as she is looking to buy a house in t…

Tuesday morning

Photinia red robin looks as if it has caught fire!!!! Yesterday was bit cooler with a nice bit of breeze so working in the garden was a more pleasant occupation.  We did had a bit of a go at the shed at the far end and turned out all the grass cutting equipment.  Over the years it is amazing what you collect from scarifiers to half moon edge cutters well all of it is in the wheelbarrow ready to be collected by Jeff on Thursday and then he will ferry it up to Peterborough where it is going to my nephews who are just starting out with their new houses and families.  It is a bit of faffing around but better than taking it all to the tip!!! I also managed to get the peas planted so now all my vegetable beds are occupied and hopefully productive.  Mark the gardener is due today and will hopefully be bringing us some parmesan cheese which he buys while on holiday in Italy.  His relatives live very close to a farm that produces the cheese so it is really very lovely.  The wonderful Jane is als…

Monday morning

Yesterday was a really successful day, James was up at the crack of dawn which is now a habit for him  and so after some coffee and home made hot cross buns we pottered off up the garden and got all the tomatoes, lettuces and runner beans planted.  The lettuce and tomato are in the green house but I have planted the runner bean seeds directly where they are to grow which will allow them to prosper without the usual stop when they are transplanted.  I have also reinstalled the irrigation system in the green house which is set to give the whole thing 10 minutes of water every 24 hours at about 7pm when the sun has gone over.  Tonight I will have a walk up there and check that it is working OK then I can just leave it to do it's own thing.  However the plants out doors will need watering if this dry spell last much longer.
While we were gardening James went and checked for eggs and disturbed one of the hens who was in the process - well you should have heard the noise - she was very…

Happy Easter all

Columnar cherry in full bloom
Sadly the photo was taken before the sun was fully up so it looks a bit dark.  I will try for a better shot today.   Yesterday went well James arrived in plenty of time for lunch and promptly left to get a new back tyre for his bike.  That done we settled down to have a nice lunch of one of the cottage pies and some leeks.  Once that had settled we were off to Wateringbury to buy some tomato plants.  I bought 10 plants all of differing varieties ranging from small black cherry to huge beef and included a couple of nice tumblers for my window boxes.  I am hoping to get 5 down each side of the green house which should keep us in tomatoes for the whole summer.  I also bought a tray of lettuces and a packet of runner beans all of which will get planted over the next couple of days.  On the return journey we stopped off at a farm shop and bought a nice bunch of asparagus which we will have for supper today with some cold meats.  Lunch is the full roast beef with…

Saturday morning

Individual cheese and onion pies - well it was one way of using up the left over pastry

Yesterday was another glorious day but it got hot very quickly.  I was out walking the dogs by 9.30 and it was already getting very hot in the sun.  Basso managed to get himself filthy in the mud so when we got home Mike held on to him while I did him over with the hose and a bit of shampoo.  He was quite good but would have rather run off.  I dried him with one of the magic towels that I bought at Crufts and it certainly made a difference it absorbed a lot of water and left him almost dry.  However both Mike and I had got pretty soaked in the process.  Once he was dried off I managed to get a brush through his coat and later that afternoon I got the thinning scissors on his leathers and trimmed them up so that he looks quite presentable.  Not quite show standard but not at all bad....

I had bought some weed killer spray in B&Q so I had a wander around the garden and sprayed the dandelions whic…

Good Friday morning

Dwarf lilac in full bloom but with the sun directly behind it not so easy to get a good photo.

Yesterday was another really beautiful day with wall to wall sunshine and very warm temperatures.  It seems only a very short while ago that it was freezing cold.  The vegetables are all going crazy and sadly we have started to water them as we have had no rain for quite a while.
I made us a nice quiche for lunch with the free asparagus and some smoked salmon pate that I had lurking about in the freezer.   I cooked it in Hal but was disappointed that the bottom of the pastry case was not as well cooked as I would have liked.  I have a bit of pastry left over so today I will make a couple of individual cheese and onion flans for lunch but I think I will use the conventional oven and hope for better results.  For dinner we had a Barnsley chop each with yet more of the asparagus this time Hal did a brilliant job and the chops were perfectly cooked.  The simnel cake is dwindling as, if I say so…

Thursday morning and still dark

One simnel cake and if you count the balls on the top you will discover that I am not religious and have the wrong number!  It is very yellow because I was too lazy to make my own marzipan and used a shop bought version.
What a glorious day yesterday was if a bit hot for us shooters.  Shiona arrived bright and early bearing gifts - she had been out and picked asparagus from an orchard that had once been an asparagus field and though they thought they had grubbed out all the plants some of them got away and are producing well.  So today will be an asparagus day but as yet I haven't decided which of the hundreds of recipes to do.  I quite fancy asparagus and parmesan tarts...
Now on to the shooting when we arrived and paid our cash for a round John the proprietor enquired if we were of a similar standard, which we agreed we were, so he handed us a trophy for the winner of the days round.  I am pleased to say that the trophy is mine by 5 shots.
We had a lovely round of shooting and th…

Wednesday and bin day

It also seems to be a day for updates both Apple and Adobe have got updates busy down loading as I type.  Lets hope that they don't need a reboot to get them going.
I had a really industrious day yesterday and made loads of things in the kitchen including the simnel cake which is now cold and waiting for its hat of marzipan.  The dogs think they have died and gone to heaven as I made them some liver cake which is now all chopped into bite sized pieces and bagged up in the freezer.  While it was cooling there were three dogs on patrol with their noses sniffing the delicious smell of the cake.  I also made a blanquette de veau with the last of my veal.  In the slow cooker I made a beef and Mackeson stout stew which will either end up with dumplings or as a cobbler.  I also made copious cottage pies all safely tucked up in the freezer.  You can only imagine the washing up that this created......
Well I was not wrong the computer has just rebooted itself to install the new software bu…

Tuesday morning

Yesterday started of very misty and with a very heavy dew but as soon as the sun got up in the sky it cleared and turned into a beautiful day.  I shot out bright and early and planted the sweet peas but then discovered that I had no sweet pea rings to hold them against the canes.  I did however find some plastic clips which have done the trick.  That done it was time to get a load of washing on and out on the line to dry then a quick shower and off to the optician.  I was given a very thorough examination and then a really good explanation of what is going on with my eyes with regard to shooting.  To cut a very long story short it is just a case of waiting for my brain to catch up with the new lens and all I can do is practice until it settles down.  Well that is not quite what I wanted to hear but I guess I will just have to be patient and keep practising.  Other than that my eyesight is fine apart from needing reading glasses which is the bane of my life.  I have pairs of Tesco read…

Monday and very early

There I was sound asleep when I was rudely awakened by the sound of a small animal shrieking I think it must have been a fox.  My three brave guard dogs were also sound asleep and oblivious to the noise!!!yet the sound of someone at the front door sends them into paroxysms of barking.  Only Basso is silent he doesn't bark unless it is really necessary, such as when I am about to put his food down and I may get distracted and forget to ever feed him again!!!!!!
This morning I have an appointment at the opticians and I am going to try and quiz him about eye dominance which is proving to be such a problem when shooting.  I am wondering if having one plastic and normal lens is what is making the difference.  Anyway, if anyone should know the answer it should be him.  Watch this space and I will let you know how I get on.
Yesterday was an absolutely gorgeous day with wall to wall sunshine.  I even had to get the hose out and put some water on my newly planted seeds, however, I never di…

Sunday morning

Yesterday was a very pleasant day the weather swung between warm and sunny and over cast looking like rain that never actually materialised.  The lads turned up just in time for lunch which was all cooked in Hal - roast chicken and all the trimmings.  It is nice to see young men eat or should I say hoover up plates of food!!!  After lunch we took the dogs for a nice walk and I drove us down to the estuary but with 2 police officers in the car they were sworn to silence about my driving!!!!  James had a go with my air rifle which I though was shooting high and he confirmed that that was the case so I will need to take it to the gunsmith and have the sights altered and test fired on their shooting range.  Poor Basso was very confused with all the shooting and not a single bird was felled.  By way of taking pity on him I sent him to retrieve a frozen pigeon that I have lurking in the bottom of the freezer for him to practice with.  Then it was time for cups of tea and an attempt to print…

Saturday morning

The photo is of uncle Basso practising his jumping - well what else would you use your garden chairs for?  Yes, you did read that right Basso is now an uncle to 11 lovely puppies which his sister had a couple of weeks ago.  Sadly they are all sold so none of them are for me!!!  I was chatting to his breeder yesterday as his hip scores have just arrived together with the x ray we had taken.  I wanted to check and see if the scores were good enough to warrant going ahead with the cerebellar ataxia test which is going to cost another £65.  The answer is that he is good enough for breeding so we will go ahead and do the DNA test then all we need is someone to notice him and want him as a sire!!!! This I think may be a forlorn hope!!!!! but you never know....
In the same postal delivery came a cheque from the Bank of England for the £10 that Nip partially ate.  I wanted to frame the cheque but Mike is going to bank it so I have taken a photo of it instead.
Not very fancy, some how I thought…

Friday morning and there goes another week!

With the water restored I was able to finish giving the bench and give it a good clean, I also managed to get a coat of boiled linseed oil on the table top which is drying in the garage and will hopefully be ready for a second coat this morning.

Shiona and Jeff arrived at the usual time and after coffee and pleasantries we set off for Dartford in Jeff's car.  Mike had decided to stay at home so he needed our car to run a few errands.  When we arrived at the skeet stands we discovered that it looked like a building site.  They were trying to move a large cabin which had been lifted on to the back of a large lorry with a crane but the lorry had then got stuck and dug itself into some really deep ruts.  By the time we had finished our round of shooting they had taken the cabin off the lorry and were trying to fill in the ruts with a JCB.  This was going to require some more thought and a lorry with much bigger wheels to spread the load.  Anyway, we had had a good time shooting and wa…

Thursday morning

I am up later than usual this morning but that is all to the good as I had the most horrid night.  I just couldn't sleep at all and was still fidgeting about at 2am which has resulted in me feeling like a dish cloth this morning.  Not the best frame of mind for shooting so lets hope the copious cups of coffee steady the ship.
All our little chores got done yesterday, the garden table has been dismantled and the top sanded and put in the garage so that I can give it a couple of coats of linseed oil.  The dishwasher is now on a nice white plinth instead of a block of wood, the cupboard door is swinging nicely on its hinges and I have a new outside tap.  Gary is a real treasure when it comes to doing small jobs and it would be so difficult to organise anyone to come and do such trivial bits and pieces.   For lunch yesterday we had a real treat - boiled eggs with asparagus soldiers - the first of the English asparagus is coming on stream so it is time to pig out on it while the season l…

Wednesday and bin day

Photinia 'red robin' looking as if it has caught fire in the sun
We had a really lovely day yesterday.  Once Jane was established and her son was happy playing with my iPad we departed to go and pick up Len and Margaret arriving around 11am then we drove to Camer park near sole street where the dogs had a super run and Margaret and I walked the perimeter.  It gave me an opportunity to show off some of Basso's gun dog training and Margaret was duly impressed with the directional whistle commands.  Mike had foolishly left his jacket behind and it was far too chilly to be out in just a shirt so he and Len sat and put the world to right.  With a bit of messing around I have managed to get an aerial photo of the park from Google earth so here goes;
Well that's all pretty boring but it took me ages to get it from goggle earth via email and finally into the picture library before I could get it on the blog.
We then headed off to the Cricketers inn at Meopham for lunch.  The pub …

Tuesday morning

So many things are in bloom at the moment including roses which I will try to get a picture of.  The canary bird rose is always the first to bloom but I don't think it has been this early before.
Yesterday was a non day, my inertia persisted all day and I just couldn't muster up the enthusiasm to get myself going. I did however make some rhubarb and ginger with the first couple of sticks from the garden.  I used to have 2 rhubarb plants but one has bitten the dust during the course of the winter - this is no disaster as one plant provides plenty for us two.  It was a beautifully sunny day until the early evening when it clouded over and we had some rain which was very welcome for the garden.  Everything this morning looks fresh and clean and the dusting of sahara sand has been washed way.
We are destined to go out for lunch today with Len and Margaret and try a newly recommended pub in Meopham [for my foreign readers it is pronounced mep-hum].  The dogs will accompany us as th…

Monday morning

The dogs won the day yesterday and it was a walk for them rather than shooting for me.  We went fairly early and to a place not many people know about which meant we were able to walk quietly with out too much holiday traffic on the paths. At the end of the walk is an old scrap yard at "Bloors Warf" which has been demolished but as you can see by the photo the concrete base has been left intact.  It is an ideal place for the dogs to run and wear down their claws.  They also love the paddling pool which collects in the right hand corner.  It is a good place to walk at low tide as they don't have easy access to the river mud which is an irresistible magnet for dogs.

Back home it was a case of pottering in the garden - Mike has put a treatment into the pond which is supposed to get rid of blanket weed but unfortunately it turns the water to what looks like milk and you cannot see the fish at all.  Hopefully it will clear during the week and we will see if it attacks the wee…


What a nice sun bathing spot with commanding views of the gardens

Another glorious day yesterday with the temperature in the comfortable range and everything in the garden going mad.... This morning I have been thinking of the people who read this blog but never post  - it would be so nice to have the odd comment if only to say it is boring and dull but I guess they are unwilling to put their heads above the parapet but I often wonder who they are.  There are readers in France Italy and the USA who are regulars and also some in the UK. However, many thanks to those of you who do post your comments!!! As you can see I was out and about with the camera taking photos in the garden but while it was still dark I got on with making a stew with some feather steak and a can of "Mackeson" stout.  The flavour was rich and deep and went well with the iron taste of the purple sprouting brocolli and the soft blandness of some boiled potatoes.  At the same time I made some plain mince, which…

Saturday morning

Yesterday was quite an industrious day, cooking got done, dogs got walked, some weeding has been started and the leaking hose had been placed in the greenhouse so all in all not too bad.  I also took a trip to the bank with a somewhat mutilated £10 note.  When I went shooting on Wednesday I had left the change in the pocket of my shooting vest which was left hanging on the back of a chair.  That night when I went to put the chickens to bed I discovered bank notes lying in the garden - now the only way they can have got there is if Nip had been through my pockets looking for biscuits.  Sadly the tenner had been munched so I took it to the bank in the hope that they would swap it for a complete note.  However, as one of the numbers is missing I have to fill in a form and send it to the Bank of England and hope that I get a refund.  That will teach me to leave my jacket lying around as I know that Nip investigates pockets in the hope of finding some dog treats.  On our walk Basso had man…

Friday morning

What a difference a bit of sunshine makes - I whistled through my to-do list.  The rabbit pies are now in the freezer along with a lamb stew and today I am going to make loads of cheese sauce which will end up as macaroni and cauliflower cheese.  As usual with all the cooking I had forgotten that we also needed lunch so it was a case of cold sausage sandwiches and for dinner we had some fish fingers cooked in Hal with a large salad with a hot potato in it.

The chickens got a good clean out and are now on fresh bedding which is made of shredded newspaper. we were advised against using straw as it harbours pathogens and I must admit that we have not had any disease problems with the hens.  The base of the house has wood shavings to absorb moisture and muck which is then transferred to the compost heap on a weekly basis.

With all the extra fish and the magnolia dropping petals in the pond the pump is blocking at regular intervals so that too got a good clean out yesterday.  Mike was fe…

Thursday and the week is grinding down

Yesterday was one of mixed emotions - firstly I went shooting with Shiona and was delighted with my best ever score.  The compensation I am making for my dominant eye problem seem to be working out well.  We got back home quite late and I rushed to make lunch which was linguine with crab which was a doddle as I had cleaned the crab the night before so it took no longer than the time it took to boil the pasta.  While we were out Mike took in the parcel which contained the halogen oven for James - now all we have to do is arrange some convenient moment for him to come and pick it up.  This is not easy as his friend is going to give him a lift as a motorcycle is not useful for this sort of job.  For supper I threw together a salsa verde which we had with the last of the veal shoulder and a salad.  Earlier in the morning I had stripped the rabbits and boiled the carcasses which I picked over for the dogs supper and today I will be making some rabbit pies.  I also put the neck of lamb in t…

Wednesday and bin day

What a wet and miserably cold day it was yesterday.  The wonderful Jane arrived on time just as I was taking my banana loaf out of the oven.  Mike had bought some bananas last week and they were very rapidly going brown so it was the only solution if they were not to end up in the compost.  We then set off on a shopping expedition - now we all know the rule about shopping when hungry - not a good idea.
First port of call was the animal feed supplier for two 20 kg bags of chicken feed then on to the butcher where I bought:-
Mince for any number of dishes
A chicken for roasting
Feather steak for a goulash
Home cured green back bacon
Neck of lamb for an Irish stew
So lots of recipes running around in my head, then on to the fishmonger where I bought :-
A bag of frozen prawns shell off and raw
2 rabbits for pies
1 crab for linguine
2 Dover soles to be grilled with tartare sauce
a large couple of handfuls of sprats to be deep fried until really crisp for lunch
Then it was on to Te…

Tuesday morning and blowing

Sandi came yesterday with her gun dog who is misbehaving and we had a bit of practice in the garden.  I had warned both neighbours that there would be gun fire in the garden.  However before we got started on the training session "yoda" managed to fall in the pond which gave the new fish a bit of a shock.  As my pond has straight sides it is very difficult for dogs to get out of so I had to haul yoda out by his collar.  That little trauma over we set to with the starting pistol and some dummies - the session went well and after the first couple of mistakes yoda got the message.  Then it was Basso's turn and he was determined that a bird had been shot so ignored the dummies and kept looking but when Sandi suggested the dummy he happily brought it back to me.
We had a nice fish pie for lunch which I had reheated in Hal so that it had a nice brown crusty top.  I had done some peas and carrots to accompany it and Mike cracked open a bottle of wine.  For supper I did some chi…

Monday morning

The big boy on his way home after his fleeting visit for mothers day - you can't see but in that jacket he has secreted a fish pie, a shepherds pie, a cauliflower cheese and a batch of Welsh cakes.

Yesterday was a really beautiful day and it was so nice to have James home for a while, I have such mixed feelings about the motorcycle, I know it is the most sensible type of transport for him in London but I have spent too many year working in an operating theatre putting motorcyclist back together to see them as a safe.

Today Sandi is coming to visit with her dog Yoda [black Labrador] who is having a problem "running in".  That is when he hears a gun shot he sets off to look for a fallen bird rather than waiting until he is sent to collect it.  I have a starting pistol which we can use for a bit of training but it is very difficult to use unless we do so in the garden.  If we were to use it in a field there is every chance that some member of the public would phone the poli…