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Showing posts from August, 2013

Saturday morning

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The first of the fig crop have suddenly ripened and I decided to make a tarte tatin which disappeared almost as soon as it was out of the oven.  I was lucky to get a picture before it got cut up and eaten.  As you know I am not one for desserts but this was surprisingly not too sweet despite the caramel and with a splash of cream it made a very acceptable sweet and very easy to make.  I also made an apricot and fruit cake for the barbecue today so there was little time for making lunch which turned out to be a red meal!  A slice of nice ham with some pepper and tomato stew and beetroot salad. I had abandoned the idea of making chutney as there was not really enough beetroot.  The last of the pepper stew got run down with some stock and made into soup which did us for supper with a slice of crusty bread.  
The weather was fabulous so the washing machine was going for most of the day as load after load went out on to the line.  The only problem with this washing frenzy is that I now ha…

Friday morning

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Yesterday morning was quite a rush to get everything underway before setting out to meet Sandi.  The bolognese sauce was in the slow cooker and the bread dough was in the fridge, the hens were out, fed, watered and eggs collected, a punnet of raspberries picked and the first couple of figs picked.  I had promised Sandi both some raspberries and some figs when the time came.  We then all piled into her land rover and off we went.  We cleared several fields of wandering pheasants but Basso picked up a complete coat of sticky willy seeds.  We were then just clearing a piece of hedgerow along the side of the track when we were approached by the farmer in high dudgeon apparently the gamekeeper had failed to mention we would be there.  Sandi handled the situation diplomatically but we were all amazed.   Given that there was no crop anywhere near only mud and stubble and the dogs had done no damage to anything.  Had we been driving all over his land or harming his crops or disturbing his st…

Thursday morning

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Yesterday was a lovely day not only in terms of weather but also in terms of entertainment.  the day had started off very misty and damp looking but as soon as the sun got underway the mist burnt off and we were left with a lovely sunny and rather warm day.  We took ourselves off to Badgers mount in the middle of Darenth woods where the shooting ground is and to our surprise there were not as many people as we had expected which meant we shot our round quite quickly.  

As you can see the terrain is fairly lumpy but at least the paths are well maintained so James managed to hobble around without too much trouble.  I shot really badly but that is not unusual however I had a good time nonetheless.  Lots of the clays were from left to right which is my bete noire.  Being right handed I shoot much better from right to left but the lack of practice was evident.
Once we had finished it was beginning to get quite hot so we headed to the pub for a lunch and a well earned drink then it was home…

Wednesday morning and bin day

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Yesterday I was feeling so ropey that for once I did something sensible and went back to bed rather than out "dogging in".  As luck would have it Sandi rang me when she came back and said it was just as well I had not come as the farmer had his tractors out discing the fields so the birds had all gone for cover anyway.  Today, my insides feel much better but my back has decided to play up but I think that is from lounging around yesterday.  James, Jeff and I are going shooting this morning so I hope the early mist will have lifted by then.  You do need to be able to see the clays to shoot them even on a clear day it is not that easy with something the size of a very small saucer flying at 70mph.  To save me the hassle of cooking lunch we are going to stop at a local pub for a burger type meal.  
The house is immaculately clean after Dennies visit yesterday but I need to patrol the garden for dog mess before the bin men arrive.   One year at Crufts I bought the most wonderfu…

Tuesday morning

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As you can see the hens are having a fine old time shredding their bale of straw so it is providing them with the entertainment it was designed for.  Yesterday, was a lovely day with bright sunshine but it was nice and cool in comparison to the very hot weather we have had.  The laundry was all nice and dry in no time.  I had been watching Nigel Slater cooking the other evening and he made a sandwich with leftover ham and cabbage which was turned over in copious garlic butter before being put into a sandwich.  Well guess what I had lurking in the fridge? you got it, ham and cabbage so that is what we had for lunch.  It sounds pretty nasty but actually it was fine and everyone demolished their portion once they had got over the shock of the ingredients.  For dinner I had made some tomato sauce from all the little cherry tomatoes I had picked in the greenhouse so a bit of pasta was in order.  200 grams and 2 eggs made a good portion and once put through the machine it was put to dry on…

Monday morning

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The rain finally stopped at about 10 am, over the 24 hours we must have had  a good couple of inches of rain.  In the post arrived some gentians that I had ordered so I got them straight out and into a suitable pot.  Planting the hydrangea into the garden where it will stand a better chance than in a pot for the winter. They look a bit pale in the photo but they are a true gentian blue and are looking really splendid in the blue ceramic pot.  I also managed to plant 12 hollyhocks in various places around the garden.  I will now need to keep an eye on them if we have another dry spell but if they establish they should look really good next year.  Mike bought me yet another orchid so my collection is now three.  If I can manage to keep them all over the winter I will be very pleased. They seem to really like the position I have chosen for them so fingers crossed  I can quite see how people become addicted to growing these beautiful plants.

I had a nice piece of loin of pork for the wee…

Sunday morning

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Well for once the forecast was right it has bucketed down with rain for 24 hours and is still raining now.  At one point yesterday is was so heavy that the patio was completely flooded and the water was running down the road like a river.  Being on the top of the north downs we suffer with wind but at least the risk of flooding is a problem.

As it was such a wet day we decided to take a trip to the oriental supermarket in Greenwich.  As you can see it is the size of an aircraft hangar and takes quite a while to walk around.  I must say that there is probably 90% of the stuff I have no idea what it is or what to do with it.  However, I went with a list of things I wanted.  I bought half a duck and some pancakes which together with spring onions and some sweet soy sauce made a very acceptable lunch.  I also bought an assortment of pot sticker dumplings which are a family favorite.  My freezer is now full to bursting with lots of good things.  
Supper was an interesting affair. James fr…

Saturday morning

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Yesterday was a nice quiet day and we had an assortment of bits and pieces from the garden for lunch.  Lots of runner beans, a handful of courgettes and lots of tomatoes.  I dug up the last of the garlic and put it to dry on the veranda of the shed.   We had a nice big bale of straw which we transported up to the chicken run and what fun the hens have had with it.  At first they were scared of this intruder into their territory but soon discovered that it was huge fun pulling it all to pieces.  The car looked a real mess with straw everywhere so we opened all the doors and used the blower to clear it.  Much easier than hoovering!!! I also took advantage of the good weather to wash all the dogs beds and get them out on the line to dry.  
For supper we had some stuffed squid which was done according to Giorgio Locatelli.  The stuffing is bread crumbs, anchovies, garlic, basil, parsley and parmesan cheese.  Then a few minutes on the griddle and into a pan of tomato and basil.  A green s…

Friday morning

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One tired but very happy dog - so much for his bath you would never know that he had had one!!! He had a lovely morning dogging in the pheasants and ran miles over the stubble fields to drive them back to their cover.  He is also pretty determined that any birds in the garden also need to be sent back to the trees and is happy policing the pigeons.  I for one will not be deterring him!!!!  We were so lucky as it rained heavily yesterday but not until after our dogging in session.  I was delighted with the rain as it is the first real rain we have had for ages and at last the ground in the garden look a bit wet and I will not need to water other than the green house.
The huge courgette I grated, salted, rinsed then wrung out in a tea towel then added eggs, cheese, spring onions, and a small amount of red pepper. Once fried off they were delicious with the bambi burgers we had for lunch.

Today is James birthday not that we are doing any great celebrations he has however asked for pot s…

Thursday morning

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Summer is back with a vengeance, yesterday was hot and sunny but over night we have had some rain which is exactly how I like it.  We had a lovely day at Shiona's where we had a nice lunch of stuffed squid and insalata caprese which we ate in the garden.  The sun was so strong we had to sit under an umbrella for a bit of shade.  
On our way to her house we passed a property that had done something really clever.  They had erected a gazebo in their driveway in front of the garage which they were using as a car port.  What a cheap and clever way to gain a car port and give themselves some shelter for the car without having to put it in the garage each time or employ an expensive builder.  I only wish I had the room to do something similar as our garage is too narrow to take a car but it would be nice not to have to park it in the road.

This morning James and I are going to go "dogging in" and Sandi has managed to obtain a bale of straw for me which is destined to be put i…

Wednesday morning

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Yesterday was another glorious day with wall to wall sunshine so we decided to bath Basso whose feet were still covered in mud.  The outdoor bath is a wonderful idea as it is a very messy procedure.  Getting him into the bath is difficult but once in he gives up the fight and is perfectly behaved.  It was a good opportunity to get the sticky willy seeds out of his coat and hopefully he hasn't planted too many in the garden.  
For lunch I made some puy lentils cooked with bacon and onion on top of which I served the sliced duck breast.  It was all accompanied by a big green salad: it was an excellent way to make 2 duck breasts feed three people.  Supper was a sort of vegetable feast with sweet corn on the cob and a big pile of runner beans.  However by about 10pm we were starving so a bacon sandwich was quickly made and eaten with delight.
Today we are off to Shiona's house for lunch - I must admit I am looking forward to a day off from thinking what to have.  It is not the co…

Tuesday morning

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What a lovely day is was yesterday the weather was perfect.  It was quite chilly when I set off at 6.45 to go to Sandi's house.  We piled all three dogs into the back of her Land Rover and off we went.  I was very unsure how Basso would react to being asked to flush pheasants but I needn't have worried he was as usual in his element and treated it like rough shooting.  There were not that many pheasants around but those he did fine he flushed up into the air and then returned when whistled so exactly what was required.  Tramping across stubble fields is not the most comfortable walking but there was not too much to do.  Once we had driven the birds back to the cover we stopped off at the gamekeepers house to see his litter of the most gorgeous black and tan cocker spaniel pups who were just 7 weeks old and full of mischief.  The temptation to put one in my pocket before leaving was huge.  There was only one drawback to the whole experience and that was that Basso had filled h…

Monday morning

What a day of excitement I had yesterday.  I decided to cut Nip's nails and in the process managed to get bitten.  He obviously had got fed up with the the process and snapped at me catching my finger. It was a deep bite with much spilling of claret and a few rude words uttered.  I immediately cleaned the wound and staunched the bleeding then dressed the wound with a couple of plasters.  James was concerned that I had not had a tetanus injection for probably 15 years so he rang 111 who said that I should go to casualty as I would need both tetanus and antibiotic cover.  They would email the department and tell them that we were on our way.  Sounds good! so off we went but on speaking to the receptionist we were informed that they don't have email at the Medway.  I was directed to stand behind a yellow line and wait.  This I did, and shortly was seen by the triage sister.  She asked me what had happened and I explained that I didn't require anything done to the wound which…

Sunday morning

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The day started well but deteriorated towards evening when it became wet and windy and very autumnal.  While I was mixing up the dough for my loaf I also made some pizza base which I put in the fridge.  Come supper time it was an easy matter to add the toppings and slam into a red hot oven for 10 minutes.  I had made a tomato sauce in the thermomix which was just the right consistency to spread on the base.  The addition of mozzarella and some slices of chorizo made a very tasty topping.  Not strictly correct but better than the monstrosity that is ham and pineapple.
I managed to get out while the weather was good and plant my wallflowers but I was amazed at just how hard the ground was.  It was like digging in concrete and I had to put lots of water on the beds to even make planting possible.  Now I will have to keep an eye on the new plants and make sure that they don't dry out.  I think we have had some good rain over night so hopefully it will be a couple of days before I nee…

Saturday morning

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At the moment it is all quiet but according to the forecast we are due for plenty of rain and wind over the weekend.  It rained yesterday but we were not caught out as the dogs had had a walk at 6am before it all started.  On our walk I was surprised to see a seal in the estuary, something I have never seen before.  I suppose I spend a lot of time keeping an eye on the dogs rather than looking out to sea but it was a good feeling to see seals are fishing in the Medway.  

This photo is from google.  The one I saw was just bobbing about in the water quite some distance from shore so beyond my photography.  There are often fishermen on the banks who are after bass so I guess are the seals.
Once back home it was a case of getting stuck into bread making then lunch which was a delicious venison steak from Aldi with petit pois a la francaise and a big green salad.  I had two huge lettuces to use up so one went into the salad the other into the peas.  The bread was cold and ready for us to …

Friday morning

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Yesterday it was supposed to rain but we saw nothing once the sun was up so the pots and and new plants had to be watered anyway.  I topped and tailed the gooseberries and open froze them for something at a later date.  I made a lamb and potato curry for our lunch which was a nice easy recipe and made a very tasty meal.  As the curry had potatoes in it I didn't serve it with rice but  nice pile of runner beans from the garden.
Mike had gone off early to get the car fixed and we are now £700 poorer as we had to pay for yet another compressor.  Now you know why we tried to avoid the Land Rover main dealership just crossing their threshold seems to cost you £500 minimum.  Anyway what is done is done and the car is back up and running as it should be.  This is always a difficult time as cars age so they begin to cost more money and there comes a point where a new car is necessary.  Hopefully we have not reached that point yet but we will have to make a decision as to whether to keep …

Thursday morning

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We had a lovely day yesterday the weather was my idea of perfect.  It was still with no wind and a nice warm temperature but not hot.  Shiona came over bearing gifts she had a big bag of the last Kent cherries and four beautiful trout together with a broad bean tomato and onion salad.  I had made a loaf of bread and as soon as that came out of the oven we had room for the trout which were cooked in foil with their bellies stuffed with onion and lemon.  It was such a lovely summery lunch and we all enjoyed it.  
Shiona had brought her new car which is a Citroen Picasso in a lovely shade of blue.  It is a lovely car and they have tried to think of everything you might need with the exception of anywhere to dump rubbish.  The photo may not be the right model but the colour is correct.

We took the dogs out for a nice walk and Hamish managed to get into the river mud so he was banished to the back garden to have his feet washed.  I must admit he did look funny with his white coat and blac…

Wednesday morning

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Yesterday was a day of ups and downs.  Dennie arrived bright and early and she got stuck into the cleaning while I took the car to the garage and James ran me home.  While I waited to hand the car in I got talking to a lady who had used the garage for years and was very happy with their service. She was also the mother of one of the girls in the team GB synchronised swimming team and had just returned from holidays to find complete brake failure.  
James on going battle with Scottish Provident is still progressing and we are hoping for some sort of resolution in the next month or so. Interestingly he took out the policy to cover him in case some disaster befell him so that his mortgage would be paid and he would have some money to live on. Good job he didn't have to rely on the policy and we were here to help him out as they have proved to be completely useless for the purpose intended.  
When we went up to let the hens out there was a blackbird trapped in the greenhouse Basso di…

Tuesday Morning

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Did you see any shooting stars? We stood no chance as the sky was wreathed in cloud and is still covered this morning.  Yesterday was a nice productive day we got the dogs out for a walk nice and early and as we drew into the car park there was a couple of Dutch people who has slept in their camper van which was actually just a big car.  The tailgate was open and on it stood a camping stove and coffee was being made.  I'm sure the local council would have gone mad if they knew there were people camping in the carpark but for myself I have no problem with them.  They were doing no harm and left no mess so I can't see a problem.  Sadly there were no bacon sandwiches on offer or they would have been extremely popular.  We then made our way to the garage and the car is booked in for 8.30 this morning.  Once they have diagnosed what the problem is they will then phone and let us know what needs to be done and how much it will cost!!!  Fortunately James can take me home from the ga…

Monday morning

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Well thats another weekend done and we are back to another week.  Yesterday's weather was just as expected the only shower of rain we had fell just as my laundry was almost dry and we had to dash out and collect it. Once it was all in and on the clothes horse the sun shone and it was dry for the rest of the day.  
Lunch was a very splendid affair with roast chicken, potatoes lyonnaise and creamed spinach.  All in small portions but delicious nonetheless. The bird had been brined and then cooked in the halogen oven so those of you who use halogen will understand just how juicy and delicious the bird was.  Supper too was not at all bad, as I had taken some chipolata sausages and some tomato sauce out of the freezer and used them to top a small portion of pasta.  We are having a rest from the diet as we have all lost significant amounts of weight and so we feel justified but I will get get us back on the diet if things start to get out of hand.  One of the interesting side effects i…

Sunday morning

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Good morning all, well at least it is 4am in the morning not 3am like yesterday.  I did go back to bed yesterday morning and slept for a bit but I woke feeling terrible it doesn't seem to do me any good going back to sleep.  I think I am better off just getting on with something and going for a sleep in the afternoon.  Last night I tried to watch another Swedish film with subtitles but very soon got too tired to read and lost track so I put it on to record and I will watch it when I am awake today.  
For lunch yesterday I did a Madhur Jaffrey recipe for lemony chicken with coriander which is one of my favorite curry dishes and served it with a small amount of rice each. I was very good and removed the skin from the chicken which I then rendered into chicken scratchings for the dogs.  As you will see I am gradually reintroducing carbs into the diet but in very small quantities.  The idea being to keep us on the straight and narrow so that we don't put on weight too quickly and…

Saturday Morning

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Yesterday saw me in the kitchen cooking for most of the day first there was the carrot cake to make. That was done using a combination of Mary Berry's recipe and the Thermomix to get things underway.  Once baked and cold then the cream cheese icing was used to sandwich the cake together and coat the top.
Next the Thermomix was used to make the pasta dough which was 200 g of "00" flour 2 eggs and 1 tsp of olive oil.  After 30 minutes in the fridge I was able to play with it and make the various shapes.  This was a learning experience as I had never used the gnocchi board before and it was not as easy as it looked, however, it did make the nice shell shapes rather well.  Then some little worms and finally a couple of rings.  The cooking of the various shapes was a bit hit and miss as the shells were rather thicker than I would have liked and therefore took longer to cook.  Anyway after an absence of carbs for so long we were all just delighted to have some pasta back on t…

Friday morning

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What a lovely day we had yesterday Sandi and David came over and James and I went with them to Dartford shooting club and shot a couple of rounds of skeet each.  The weather was perfect with no wind but it did get a bit hot come midday.  In the photo you can see an earth bank just behind James but what you can't see is that the river Thames flows past on the other side and sometimes you see big ships making their way up river which looks really strange.


After we has shot a couple of rounds we headed for the club house which has a nice big veranda and that is where we sat to have a big mug of tea and a bacon and egg sandwich each which was just what the doctor ordered.  We none of us shot particularly well or particularly badly and general good fun was had by all.  We didn't get back home until about 3pm by which time I was ready for a rest and James who has been sleeping particularly badly keeled over and slept right through until this morning.
The mess in the garden was a ver…

Thursday morning

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At 10am on Tuesday morning I sat at my computer and ordered this 2 stroke blower and at 10 am on Wednesday morning it arrived.  That is exactly 24 hours; another miracle of the internet era.  You can imagine how thrilled I was and then came the dreaded reading of the instruction manual.  Mike had bought a 5 litre can of petrol and Shiona and I set to working out how much oil we needed to make a 1:25 mixture before we fill the reservoir and fired up the engine.  Just as Mark had said it fired up really easily with only a couple of pulls of the cord.  Then it was off round the garden blowing away leaves and debris from the slate and the fake lawn.  It looks like it might be heavy but it is so light it is really easy to carry in one hand which what attracted me to it in the first place.
The dogs got taken for a nice walk and for once it was pleasantly cool as there was a nice cold wind blowing.  I had put a turkey joint in the halogen oven for lunch and as I had lots of mushrooms I had …