Saturday, 4 December 2010

A Little chilly

It has been a bit chilly here for the last few days. Our estate roads have thick ice on them, but are passable if you go very slow! Here are some photos of icicles hanging from above my bedroom window.

Icicles from the gazebo - we really should have taken it down at the end of summer!!

I can hear dripping outside, I think the snow is melting, they said on the weather that it was going to be like this for a month, once again they have got it wrong. Off to town this morning to start my Christmas shopping..... can't wait bet it will be packed as everyone has been snowed in all week and going today ....

Wednesday, 1 December 2010


I went to Munich in Germany at the weekend to visit the Christmas markets. It was so cold that we couldn't stay outside for too long, even though we had put on loads of layers.
We went on a trip on the "Christmas Tram", which was quite fun as it did a tour around the city and was warm so we were able to thaw out for a bit.
Here is Alice looking at one of the stalls, full of pottery.

This is another selling gingerbread hearts and other sweets. We also went to the Tollwood market were many of the stalls were inside marquees a bit like a festival. The stalls sell sweets, cakes, honey, chocolate, clothes especially knitted gloves and hats, jewellery, wooden items, and of course Christmas decorations.

I also got to visit two shops that I went to last year in Hamburg and wanted to go back to. "Depot" is a home furnishing shop with lots of reasonably priced Christmas decorations and items the other was "Idee" a fantastic craft shop I bought some knitting pattern books that I had seen last year- trouble is I don't speak any German so am going to have fun trying to translate them.

Oh yes we also managed to sample a little bit of Gluhwien - just to keep us warm of course!

Friday, 26 November 2010

Acme single camber

This is a very large stack of roof tiles for the porch. 4 sample tiles were bought home to choose from and we decided on the "Heather sandfaced"
All that needs to happen now is to nail them to the roof!

But far too cold for roof top work this weekend, it was -2 C this morning, the light dusting of snow that fell last night has not melted all day. Brrrrr.....

Monday, 22 November 2010


This year I grew 18 runner bean plants in my back garden. I chose a variety called "St George" as they were supposed to give a high yield. A month before planting I dug two trenches and filled with worm compost from the wormery. I grew the seeds indoors indoors in the boxes that fruit juice comes in and planted them out in midmay, the morning before the last major frost of the year. Saw the weather on the news and rushed out and covered them with fleece, all but 2 plants survived, lucky for me that I had a couple of spare ones in the greenhouse.

The plants grew well and gave a massive crop, so much that we got a little fed up with runner beans for tea!!! I froze some too.
And so I decided to save the seeds, I left some pods on the plants for as long as possible until they were big and then picked them and dried them on the window sill. I now have a little bowl full of runner bean seeds - I wonder if they will grow as well as this years ones?

Sunday, 7 November 2010


On Saturday morning I drove to Dedham to a farmers market, the market was not very good, more craft than farmers, only bought some pears, apples and a grape vine. I shall plant it on the allotment and see if we get any grapes! But the hedgerows along the side of the road made up for the poor market, full of orange, yellow and brown leaves and berries, I was inspired to pick some, so back home and out for a walk with my secateurs, I came home with a big bunch of twigs. I also found some seed heads in the garden and created these four arrangements.
My kitchen window sill with a beautiful view of next doors garage!
This one on the fire place in a big brown vase that my sister bought me a while ago, with lots of seed heads in it.

This one on top of the telly is in an old tin can, with some red and yellow berries.

Last night I lit some candles and the fire, settled down with my knitting to watch strictly come dancing and x factor feeling very warm and cosy. I listened to the bangs of the fireworks going on in the distance and was so glad to be at home.

Thursday, 28 October 2010


A couple of years ago I decided to try and cut the chemicals that I use to clean the house with. I used to be very fond of different products and had a cupboard full of different cleaners, sprays and polishes. Then I found this book in the library, I borrowed it so much that I had to send it back and bought my own copy - second hand of course from Amazon.

To clean my kitchen I make up recipe no 684, I put it into my old Ecover "squirtyco" spray bottle and use it to clean all the kitchen surfaces. I buy the white vinegar in this gallon bottle for just £3 from the wholefood store in Manningtree ( I think that this is just as good as anything you can buy, and has just a few basic ingredients. It does need a bit of lavender oil to cover up the vinegar or you end up smelling like a chip shop!!

this light spray is great for cleaning kitchen countertops and other surfaces. Vinegar helps to remove the oily film that collects in kitchens and lavender and lemon essential oils are natural antimicrobial.

125 ml (4 fl oz) distilled white vinegar
1/4 teaspoon natural liquid dish washing soap ( I use ecover)
125 ml (4 fl oz) water
1/4 tsp lavender essential oil
1/4 tsp lemon essential oil

combine the ingredients together in a spray bottle, shake well before use

Monday, 18 October 2010

Lukey has spent some time in the garage with his new mitre saw, making the triangles (roof trusses) for the porch roof, he has come home after visits to "Screwfix" with a bag of metal plates and other triangle bits- "to hold it all together". This was all screwed together on top of the blocks and became the roof!

On Friday the building inspector called and proclaimed the roof to have passed the inspection and we could "carry on"!! and so this weekend began the job of bricking up the triangle at the front, this is quite tricky as the blocks have to be cut to the angles of the roof and fill in the gap- almost there!
This evening I also ordered the door, after weeks of decisions - what colour door? what colour frame? what colour handle? a knocker? or no knocker? well, no going back now- but you will have to wait and see!!
On Sunday morning we popped up the allotment for a bit and I could wait no longer, I had to dig up a parsnip, I know you are supposed to wait until after a frost, but I couldn't and here it is- my first ever home grown parsnip, I could not believe how big it was- lots more to come, this one was roasted for dinner. I also hope to make some parsnip sherry and wine, but will wait until there has been a good frost for that.
The tomatoes and peppers have all finished now, the plants have gone black and the remaining tomatoes are soft and rotting. I have begun to clear them up, but it takes ages. I am saving the compost, I am going to try and use it again next year, I need to find out what to mix in it to make it good again.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

A bit of knitting

I have been doing a bit of knitting! This is a felted handbag with bobbles on it.
These are fingerless mittens. There are flowers and beads sewn on, I have done another pair in the opposite colour way
"AUTUMN" mobile phone cover, this is a very thick and chunky phone cover designed to fit an iphone, with three acorns and an oak leaf attached. I hope to pop them onto folksy tomorrow, when I get a minute.

I have been busy trying to tidy up the garden and allotment over the last few weekends. I have been treating the wooden garden chairs before putting them away in the shed, still got the table to do and then will take down the bunting and gazebo. Trying to clear away all the old plants that have finished growing and digging up the potatoes. The tomatoes have also finished now and need cutting down and putting on the compost heap. I also want to plant some peas and broad beans this month, I have read that this will give an earlier crop next year, but they need to be covered with a cloche. Just a couple of courgettes left on the plants not quite big enough to pick, but will be ready next weekend. So much to do!

Wednesday, 6 October 2010


I planted my onions in February on the allotment, most of them grew, not massive but definitely onions. In July the tops bent over, and I was told it was time to harvest them. They were laid on some wire netting under the overhang of the shed for a few weeks. I looked up how to string them together and this is them!
I was so sure that I made 3 strings of onions and 2 of shallots, but today I looked in the shed at home and the one up the plot but can only find two strings, then I checked out this photo and it only shows 2 strings, I am sure there were more onions than this!


Tuesday, 5 October 2010

The story of my porch, continued...

OK, so a sunny day a couple of weeks ago Wayne the Bricklayer came back and "blocked up" the porch.
So all the blocks done

And now onto the roof trusses. Lukey has spent some time in the garage sawing up wood to create three "triangles" to form the roof.
I have been studying every ones houses, trying to decide what tiles we should have, what colour the facia and sofits should be, what colour should the door frame be - so many decisions?? What if we get it wrong and it looks strange or completely stupid, oh I don't know.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

The story of my porch, continued...

The brick work for the foundations is now complete and various layers of cement, sand, damp proofing and insulation are laid in the floor of the new porch.

A very large order is placed at the builders merchants and a lorry with a crane arrives.
200 blocks are delivered

And my front garden looks even more like a building site. We await the return of Wayne the bricklayer to lay the blocks!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Autumn Show

Yesterday was the Horticultural Society Autumn Show. I entered quite a few things and it was a little fraught in the morning as I prepared all the things to take up the hall. We had to nip to the allotment to pick flowers, make another cake and label the photos as I had forgotten. Everything need to be displayed by 11 O'clock and then the hall closes for judging. I went back later and was very pleased to see that I had got prizes for quite a few things, but even more surprised when they announced that I had won the cups in the wine and photo categories.

This is my wine, I got first for the Rose and Sweet red wines and third for the dry white, but nothing for the sweet white.

This is my vase of annuals, winning second prize.

Below is 10 stems of homegrown flowers, mine is the small yellow one at the front which came third (out of 3!!!)

This is the anniversary class, there had to be flowers, pot plant and then 2 out of 4 items, I chose a plate of tomatoes and some knitted socks.

I also won first for a truss of tomatoes, "transport and "A parade" photos and a jar of chutney. 2nd for a basket of vegetables. Third for knitted garment for a child,10 cherry tomatoes. But nothing for my cakes or pasties. I thought that I was quite good at cooking, but perhaps I should stick to making wine!

It was good fun to enter and compete against others, will need to start planning for the spring show now.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

On Tuesday the bricklayer came and bricked up the first 6 "courses" that is bricklayer speak for 6 layers!! That takes the bricks to the DPC or dampproof course! or to ground level. Two rows of bricks with a cavity inbetween for the insulation.

And then when the bricks had set a layer of "crushed hardcore" was put in the big hole in the middle, which will eventually be the floor of my porch........

Monday, 30 August 2010

The story of my porch

Saturday morning! The laying of the concrete foundations. Sand and cement were shovelled into the cement mixer and then into the wheelbarrow. This was then tipped into the foundations.

They worked constantly for over four hours, bacon sandwiches and lots of drinks kept them going.
Here it is half filled
and here it is finished, all looking nice and smooth. Lets hope it does not rain and it will set!

Saturday, 28 August 2010

The story of my porch

The foundations were dug and finished last weekend, all the boards in place when....
It poured with rain all night and filled them up with water and the edges fell in a bit.
So wellies on and scoops and buckets to hand, we bailed it out. On Tuesday the inspector came and passed "the hole in the ground"!!! and so onto the next step...................

Friday, 27 August 2010

Down it comes!

Lukey then started to take the old porch down.
Brick by brick!
Each brick that could be saved was cleaned up, put in the pile ready to be reused when we build the new one. The hardcore was bagged ready for the base or for the back extension. The bags have been stacked at the end of the garden. If we don't need it in the end it will be offered on freecycle.
Now it is down and looks very strange.
Next the floor, step and path around the outside have to be broken up, each bit was bagged and saved and then the foundations were dug.....