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Showing posts from June, 2012

Saturday morning

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The red water lily in the pond is now in flower and surrounded by damsel flies but as yet I haven't seen a dragon fly.


What a lovely day yesterday was it was bright and sunny but the air was cool and refreshing.  I took the dogs for a walk in Gillingham park which is quite small but gives the dogs a change of scenery. The foot paths are nice and easy to walk on for me and Basso enjoyed chasing all the pigeons away.



Then it was on to Sainsbury to purchase a bit of an indulgence for me.  I bought a pair of candle lanterns which I have had my eye on for some time.  I already had the large candles which I had bought several years ago.  They are just perfect for sitting outside on a warm summer evening.  And on the subject of lights I have some fairy lights over the arbour which are solar powered but they haven't worked for years and on several occasions I have thought I should take them down - Just as well I didn't as they have suddenly burst back into life and are twinkling me…

29th June 1949

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This is the photo that graced the window of a professional photographers shop in Trieste [Italy] for many years - It was my first birthday!!!!!!  I still have the medallion which was my birthday present that day



Yesterday, was hotter than hell and the humidity made it feel like a sauna.  I decided to take the dogs for a walk in the woods as I hoped that the shade would make things cooler but it was still horrid.  I don't even think the dogs were that pleased as they both collapsed on the cold stone floor of the kitchen when we got back.  I did the sweetbreads for lunch with a Tabouleh salad and a mixed green salad to which I added a red pepper which was languishing in the fridge.  However I decided to fry it off in some olive oil and garlic before using it as the dressing - what a good idea!!!! much nicer than the raw flavour of uncooked pepper.  In the couple of dry days we have had the garden has dried out dramatically and the runner beans [painted lady] which are in flower nee…

Thursday morning

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The over wintering onions are just about ready to be pulled up and dried off.  The garlic and shallots are similarly ready.  However, drying them is going to be a challenge with this changeable weather.  I have an old camp kitchen rack from our days under canvas which I hung on to and that will make an excellent drying rack which I can stand on the covered veranda of the shed.  It is strange the things we hang on to.   I also hung on to the enamel plates which I still use in the kitchen every day and in the loft there is a chemical toilet which one day will come in handy I am sure.  The water barrel went out on loan over the winter when my friend had problems watering her horses with all the stable pipes frozen she was taking water from home.  In the past I have mixed up tomato feed and filled the barrel so I could draw off a watering can full and only mix up when I refilled the barrel.  
Yesterday was a really sticky day very warm and humid and today looks much the same with leaden s…

Wednesday morning

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Yesterday was a day of two halves the morning was bright, sunny and warm the afternoon was sultry, muggy and cloudy.  For the first time this summer I had to water my pots and boxes which seem to dry out really quickly.  I spent the morning on a restocking exercise after I had taken the dogs out for a walk.  First the butcher then the fish monger and finally Tesco, which to our amazement, was nearly empty so it was almost a pleasant experience.  Then came the tedious job of putting everything away.  

I had poached a couple of fillets of trout early in the morning and made a sort of pate with mayonnaise capers and parsley which we had on toast.  I had bought some mince, which got divided up into three.  One third for mince and potatoes, one for meat balls, and one for moussaka.  You see I am cooking a bit a head for the boys while I am away.  I bought a piece of belly pork which has had its two hours poaching and now it will be frozen then I can finish it off in the oven with the soy s…

Tuesday morning

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Would you believe that with all this rain I actually had to go and water the various pots in the garden as they were as dry as a biscuit.  Yesterday was one of sunny spells and heavy cloud but it was dry.  This morning there is no sun just masses of dark clouds with hardly a stirring of wind.  
In the morning I set to and with James help made a couple of shepherds pies and a ragu to have with pasta for lunch.  The ragu was made with the remaining sausages using a recipe from the Jamie Oliver 30 minute menu program which I had recorded - I don't have the book.  Anyway it was pretty successful and certainly nice and tasty,  The shepherds pies I made in Bacofoil trays so that the washing up is easy.  We had one for supper the other is in the freezer ready for our holiday.  
These trays say they are disposable but the wash very nicely in the dishwasher so I reuse them over and over, only throwing them away when they get really tatty.  This was a trick I learned one Christmas when I d…

Monday morning

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Scattered around the garden, self seeded, are these lovely poppies.  The very blue foliage makes a nice contrast to the bright greens of some of the other plants.  The flowers don't last long but they keep coming so they add a splash of colour.  As they are wild, so to speak, you never know what they will look like in terms of colour and despite the rain they manage to keep their heads up.

I managed to get the dogs out for a walk yesterday and dodged the showers and stayed dry.  The dogs on the other hand came home soaked as they had been investigating in all the wet bushes.  They also had a good paddle in the rain pool which is now some 10" deep - not deep enough for swimming but great fun none the less.

The roast leg of lamb went down well for lunch and there is plenty left for shepherds pies.  I bought a couple of baking potatoes in the farm shop so that I can make the mash topping.  For supper we had a dish out of the Chinese book which was basically steamed sausage and…

Sunday morning

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Yes you've guessed it it is raining.  Just as the forecast stated it started at midnight I know this as I had woken up and decided to make petit pois alla franchise and glazed carrots to go with todays roast leg of lamb.   Well what else do you do at midnight when you are wide awake.  It is all my own fault as I had a day of indolence yesterday and once the outdoor chores were done I got stuck in to watching old films and knitting socks.  Consequently I fell asleep really early and so my midnight cooking session is not unreasonable.  I did however go back to bed at 2.30 and slept until 5am so not so bad.

Yet another wet weekend, I do feel so sorry for those who have to work and can't make use of the sunny day when they occur.  It always seems to be the weekend when he weather is terrible.  If this rain is set in for the day I think the hens will be restricted to their small run as the big run turns into a quagmire in no time and however daft as it may seem I will have to mak…

Saturday morning

Good morning all it is a chilly 10 degrees here this morning and it is very wet from overnight rain.  Yesterday, though we were forecast rain all day, was actually not too bad we did have periods of sun between the showers.

I took a small piece of video on my phone while I was out with the dogs - a hand signal recall then a pip sit which I had to do twice then the send away command.  I try to make sure that we do some training on every walk just to keep him sharp.  However, it is very difficult to film and handle the dog at the same time.  In the bright sunshine I can see nothing and have to just point and hope!!!  I also posted off our entry to a water training day which will be held on July 1st in East Sussex.  I am hopeful that the dog trainer can get Basso into the water as although he loves to paddle he dosen't like to swim.

It was a nightmare to get the video from the phone to the main computer so I sent it to myself as an eMail which seemed to work well.  It is in its orig…

Friday morning

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Yesterday was a day of showers and some heavy rain but there were sunny periods between.  We took James to the hospital first thing as his air-cast boot had broken and the internal balloons would no longer inflate.  For once a hospital department worked really well and we were in there a matter of minutes the cast was replaced and we were soon off home again.  However as the dogs were in the car and it was not raining I took them for a bit of run over the Great Lines which where the naval memorial is and over looks the whole valley where Chatham is situated.  It is a nice place to walk if it is not too windy as it is mostly meadow grass and wild flowers with good sturdy dry paths to walk on.



It is 70 hectares of chalk grass land smack in the middle of the medway towns which is really rather nice and it is now a Heritage park.  We are actually very lucky with the number of places we have available to walk the dogs.

Then as the heavens opened it was back home to cook the roast chicke…

Thursday morning

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Yesterday was a glorious day with wall to wall sunshine but how the tables have turned it is hosing down with rain now.  According to the weather forecast we are in for a whole day of rain so I guess we will be reduced to indoor pursuits.

I continued the chinese theme and made pot sticker dumplings and money bags to go with our fried rice for lunch and although the preparation time was long the cooking time was mere seconds.  I am very pleased with my Gok book it has made home cooked chinese very accesible.  For dinner we had some roasted baby beetroots with sausages.  Today we will be back to old fashioned English cooking with a plain roast chicken roast potatoes and greens.  However as I have some wet garlic that will be used to flavour the chicken while it roasts.

Now for a bit of an experiment I hope I have put a nice piece of video on the blog showing the feeding frenzy of our fish.  I hope it works


Well that took a bit of doing now we will see if it plays OK

What price a plate of broad beans

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dig the plot over fill with compost buy and plant seeds in autumn net to keep birds off water and nurture through dry periods prick out tops before black fly attack pick and shuck boil then remove grey skin make bechamel and add beans  eat and enjoy the fruits of your labours


cost priceless!!!!!

Wednesday morning

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What on earth is this you ask? well it is an allium which is now approximately 4foot tall and I assume will eventually burst forth but we have been watching it for weeks now and nothing much seems to be happening.

I was out in the garden at dawn and with my secateurs in hand there was no stopping me, by the time Mark arrived at 8 there were piles of clipping all over the place.  I gratefully handed over to him and then went inside to make preparation for Janes visit.  She arrived at 9 in a bit of a flurry as she is having trouble with her eldest grown up son who has made himself homeless and jobless and is being a real nuisance.   The washing machine was going full tilt and the whole place was a hive of industry.  We left at about 10.30 to go and pick up Len and Margaret and after coffee we set off for our favorite pub for lunch.  We knew that the tenant had left but were hoping that the new tenant had kept the chef.  Sadly we were very wrong the pub was open but the heart had gone o…

Tuesday morning

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Yesterday I was quite sure I was going to get soaked the skys were black as your hat and looking very ominous but by some miracle we stayed dry.  The wind has dropped and hopefully today may be a sunny one.  I have tried the vinegar and water trick with the hens and gave them a good spray yesterday morning before I let them out and again when they were put to bed so we will have to see if there is any change.  I have no instructions on what sort of dilution to use or how frequently to apply the medicine so it is all a bit hit and miss.  However the pump spray is a great success and certainly saves filling a Killaspray which holds litres.  


For lunch I continued the chinese theme and made a big wok of broth with prawns and noodles and just about everything chinese I have.  I syphoned out a portion for Mike and then added the chilies which he hates but James and I love so that worked quite well.  It was also occupational therapy for James to chop up all the vegetables into fine julienn…

Monday morning

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Yesterday saw us have a bit of a wasted trip to Bluewater shopping centre with my Mac which has developed a white mark on the screens top right hand corner.  Well as it turned out it is dirt inside the screen which has been sucked in by the fans.  They offered to take the machine and clean it but frankly it was not worth it as it is down to the location which is close to the kitchen and the problem would only reoccur again.  It doesn't show when the machine is on and is not a problem just unsightly when the screen is black.  Actually nobody else has noticed it until I pointed it out so it really is nothing.

Lunch was some oxtail which had been in the slow cooker and been degreased and boned which we had with more broad beans from the garden and spring greens and new potatoes.  After this considerable lunch none of us felt much like supper so it was a case of a garlic sausage sandwich.  Our butcher makes some really lovely pork and garlic bangers.

Many congratulations to you Ann…

Sunday morning

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Yesterday was a peculiar day in terms of weather it started of wet then turned sunny and finally the wind got up and we had gales in the afternoon.  The pot of white daisies in the photo are self seeded and I thought I would leave it and see what happened - pretty good outcome I think you will agree.  I continued the chinese theme yesterday with crispy duck pancakes for lunch and then for dinner we had sweet corn and crab soup followed by salt a pepper squid then back to traditional cuisine for desert of a very luxurious chocolate mousse.  While we are on the subject of food I watched the programe about the men who made us fat on BBC2 and it was very illuminating.  I always knew that sugar was a problem but never realised just how big a problem it really is.  The advent of cheap sweetening with corn syrup seems to be the beginning of the end for the americans waist lines.  I am glad that I don't have a sweet tooth and while I like the odd dessert it is not a regular occurrence in…

Saturday morning

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We are now a two iPad family as I have passed mine on to Mike - well not so much passed as had commandeered.  Anyway, we no have one each so when I go on my holiday he will not be left destitute.  This going to sound crazy but I downloaded an app which is a meditation to aid sleep.  The first time I put it on I thought to myself this is complete rubbish and that is all I remember I have yet to hear the end of the session because it puts me to sleep in moments.  So I passed on the good new that even though you think it is rubbish it still works.  Mike now uses it and so does James it is quite remarkable how easily it sends you off to sleep.  Sadly I have not found anything to keep you asleep!!!!  I went for the cheaper model as I don't require 3G as I have an iPhone which does all of that.  I suppose I use it rather like a lap top and this one you can actually use on your lap without fear of it turning into a nuclear reactor.

We also had a trip to See Woo the oriental emporium in …

Friday morning

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A lovely white peony hiding in the deep undergrowth
What a glorious day it was yesterday all the lovely sunshine gave me the opportunity to get a bit of gardening done.  I have given the hens house a good birthday and that is all nice and clean.  The green house is weed free and all the tomatoes are tied in to their canes.  I hoofed out masses of blanket weed from the pond so all in all a very productive morning.  Basso got a thorough grooming much to his disgust and the laundry finally made it out on to the line.  As we had had such an early start we ended up with an early lunch but it was a good one of Fegato alla Veneziana [calves liver venetian style] the last of the asparagus and some crushed new potatoes with loads of butter chives and parsley.  Followed by strawberries macerated with balsamic vinegar and sugar and doused in double cream.  After such a sumptuous lunch we just had some cheese on toast for supper but not before we had all had a nice snooze in the sunshine.
I mana…

Thursday morning

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In the mass of greenery on the right hand side of this photo there is a blackbird nest - this I know for two reasons; one Basso is determined that there is a bird in there, and two, the parents sit on the arbour and give the alarm call when either Basso or the resident crow are to be seen.  If the family survive it will be a miracle as the nest is somewhere quite low down.  I keep finding Basso in a point and have tried to tell him these are "leave it" birds but I thing to a dog birds are birds......  We have a second nest closer to the house but these birds are more experienced and have built their nest much higher off the ground and therefore stand a better chance for their brood.

Yesterday was a stunning day with wall to wall sunshine and quite warm.   Shiona and I decided that shooting was definitely on, so that is how we spent the morning.  We had the luckiest of rounds with each stand being vacant as we arrived so almost no waiting we both managed to shoot exactly the…

Wednesday morning

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Potted olive tree in bloom I don't think have ever noticed olives in bloom who knows we may even get some fruit.

What a day yesterday was it rained almost continuously all day, it was never very heavy but it was constant.  It was quite late in the afternoon when it finally stopped.  The wonderful Jane came and did her thing and I got soaked doing the outdoor chores which included emptying the car ready for collection today.  It is due to be serviced and will be collected at 8 am this morning and returned tomorrow.  As well as the service it is due to have a major clean which has meant moving the dog cage so that the men can clean the back which is pretty disgusting.  Then again it is a landrover so it is not meant to be all shiny and clean.

With all this rain the laundry is a constant pain as it is difficult to get things dry so I am doing it in dribs and drabs which means there is always a clothes horse of wet washing somewhere.  For lunch we had some of the butchers sausages, s…

Tuesday morning

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A window box full of herbs and tumbler tomatoes seems appropriate outside the kitchen window.  right to left it runs with greek basil, tomato, normal basil, coriander tomato and finally chives.  In the garden I have the hard herbs like bay, rosemary, sage and tarragon and in the greenhouse are the two varieties of parsley.

Yesterday started off with a trip to the dentist for the regular checkup.  I took my knitting with me as we usually arrive a bit early and often have to wait quite a while because they are running late.  Of course this time they were running early and we went straight in.  Fortunately all is in good order for both of us so it was a quick clean and make an appointment for 6 months time.  We came home via Dobbies where we bought some chicken and another piece of loin of pork to do in the char siu style as it was just so delicious.  A couple of punnets of strawberries and a pot of cream finished our food shopping but I also bought some radish and some lettuce seeds so…

Monday morning

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The tide was out but the dog roses were looking lovely and we managed to get out and have a walk while it was dry. The high winds had brought down one of the wild damson trees but there are so many that it will not make much difference to the crop when the time comes.  I really missed my small dog - who would think such a small dog could leave such a big hole in your life.  Then again he was never more that a foot away from me for the last 10 years so I suppose it is natural.

While the pork was marinating I put the washing machine on to make a start on the mountain of washing which has come from nowhere.  The first three loads I managed to ge out and dry but loads 4 and five will have to wait.  While Tuc was unwell he had been sleeping on an old sleeping bag in the front room with James and that needed a good wash.  Despite being put through the machine and doused in washing powder once hung on the line Basso spent some ten minutes sniffing the sleeping bag and gather doggy informati…

Sunday morning

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The tide was out but the dog roses were looking lovely and we managed to get out and have a walk while it was dry. The high winds had brought down one of the wild damson trees but there are so many that it will not make much difference to the crop when the time comes.  I really missed my small dog - who would think such a small dog could leave such a big hole in your life.  Then again he was never more that a foot away from me for the last 10 years so I suppose it is natural.

While the pork was marinating I put the washing machine on to make a start on the mountain of washing which has come from nowhere.  The first three loads I managed to ge out and dry but loads 4 and five will have to wait.  While Tuc was unwell he had been sleeping on an old sleeping bag in the front room with James and that needed a good wash.  Despite being put through the machine and doused in washing powder once hung on the line Basso spent some ten minutes sniffing the sleeping bag and gather doggy informati…

Saturday

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Well last night in a howling gale and freezing cold I sat for two and half hours in a lovely garden watching the Merry Wives of Windsor and much to my surprise it was wonderful.  The acting was super and the costumes lovely.  The cast were word perfect and despite the cold and wind managed to pull off a lovely performance.  During the interval there was a bar and BBQ which was a great attraction not so much for the food as for the warmth.  We didn't get back to Shiona's house until about 11pm at which point I decided that we would be better driving home as I need to be at the vets by 8.30 this morning to perform my last duty for Tuc.  His spine is a mess and he has cauda equina syndrome for which there is no cure.  Even major surgery guarantees nothing so a decision had to be made and as he is my dog it is my responsibility to be with him to the end.
I can type no more as the tears are obscuring my vison and I need to get a grip of my emotions.









Friday morning

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With all this rain the figs are swelling up well and we should have a decent crop
Yesterday was a day of two halves the morning was fine and sunny but the afternoon was wet and windy.  We had all had a ropey night so there was a house ful of tired people which is not good for interpersonal relations.  For lunch we had the nasty pork chops which I had tried to improve by 6 hours in the sous vide but guess what "you cant make a silk purse out of a sows ear", and though they were better they were still nasty.  As an accompaniment I had done a baked butternut squash which was tolerable but we were all left disappointed.  Thank heavens we had a super chicken soup for supper which I had made with the carcass of the good chicken and several others I had lurking in the freezer.  The dogs also had their fill of chicken bits off the carcasses so in the end we were all happy.  Chicken soup cures all ills and should be available on the NHS.  Tuc is still pretty rocky on his legs but ha…

Thursday morning

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Jumbo socks finally finished and they fit.
Mike put them on to model them and those of you who are observant will note how thin one of his legs has become since the problems with his hip and knee.  Anyway Jeff was pleased and will be on gun cleaning duty for some time in lieu of payment.  We were so lucky with out shooting expedition as the weather was a bit of a mixed bag.  As luck would have it we were able to get round dry and though there was one little shower it passed over quickly.  I shot rather well so I was pleased with myself.  Once home I had prepared a cold lunch of chicken and an assortment of salads with some hot new potatoes with butter pepper and chives.  Supper was equally easy with the leftovers put in a french stick and then chopped into portions.  The carcass along with some others from the freezer have been put through the soup pot so today when I pick over the bones the dogs will have a super chicken dinner and we will have some lovely soup.  I also put some por…