Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Solar Grill?


Easier, faster and more delicious, this fuel-free cooker can bake, boil or fry a meal for eight, using only the Sun... day or night

I was reading about an environmental project where soft plastics were melted by villages in the sub India continent to make bricks and those used to make houses! (web site of Doingyourbit)  Wow. I read the details and they mentioned using a "solar grill" designed by a Danish (woman) engineer to make the bricks. I have never heard of such a thing and today when googling the net I read more about this idea.     I want one!

(picture from a UK supplier web site, not promoting them and there are others available in the world).

Pity they are still fairly expensive, large, and don't work as well in UK - but can you just imagine if someone improved this thinking and gave us fuel free cooking!!!

Our frugal community would all be customers!


Saturday, 18 March 2017

Digging

Not much time for blogging this last week or so. We have had no rain for 6 days so we hurried to complete the veg bed digging as the soil was dry and crumbly.
The joy of the last few spade/fork fulls!  This bed is 90 feet by 25 feet and, apart from the row of spring cabbage on the right and a row of leeks, has been dug over inch by inch. We had a lot of couch grass last year as well as docks and wanted to get on top of this early this year. Each spade full was examined and roots removed. 8 wheelbarrow loads went up the garden to be burnt when the roots have dried out a bit.

All the grass has been cut but as you can see from the fence in the background we still have some jobs to do!  Family are threatening to visit over Easter so we must get on.

We have taken time out when exhaustion was getting too much and joints were aching.

This is my granddaughters little chair. It came home with us after our last visit to be repaired. she had practised using her dad's drill to take out a screw so often it needed to be plugged and re-drilled. When Granddad had finished I made a little padded cushion to go over the back from various scrap material.
 Front has a No17 embroidered  on the door it to celebrate their recent move to a new house.
The back has a yellow cat on the right as she is cat-mad.

I practised my quilting on this ready to start on my patchwork quilt. Rain is due this weekend so I may make a start on that it is all pinned up and ready to go through the machine.

My husband has completed the shelves for my sewing cabin. The warmer weather meant he could glue up the boards to make some of the shelves.  He also has a new band-saw, so was keen to get the shelf unit out of the workshop and play with his new toy!  He promises more shelves later.


After all that gardening effort I must make an effort to do some cooking - meals this week have been very simple and make-shift.  I don't seem to have much in the cupboards either so I think a bit of meal planning is overdue.


Monday, 13 March 2017

Wildlife

Looked out the front window and there was a blackbird with a beak full of dried grass from under the privet hedge.

Smiling, went out the back door to find the moss off the flat roof conservatory had been thrown over the edge and littered the path and step with lumps. Thanks to the birds (hedge sparrows) gathering moss for their nests. Great.

Not smiling any more. Went to the Poly tunnel to check on the watering of the seed trays put out there to harden off to find mice had nipped off 7 of the broad bean shoots and dug up and eaten the seeds.

There was a lot of muttering about wild life as the husband returned the seed trays to the safety of the greenhouse benches and swept the moss off the back door mat.



Sunday, 12 March 2017

Busy week

Finally 3 dry and warm days in a row.  We started with some garden improvements.

A raised bed in our grass area by the house. We don't call in a lawn as it is not great quality! Underneath is the remains of a sand menage (horse area) we inherited. We did not really give the covering earth enough depth and it dries out in the height of summer. We are gradually installing the raised beds to break up the expanse.
Some of the soil is coming from the installation of edging along the path to my sewing cabin.  The rest is from our spare soil heap from turf removed from the veg bed creation two years ago - it is lovely crumbly soil now.


As the conditions have improved we have moved out the back and started digging over and cultivating for the summer crops. By this afternoon it was just about right and docks and plantians were easily removed.  After several hours we staggered back for a restful evening.  On the way I could not resist pulling the first half dozen sticks of rhubarb for tea.


Rain is expected tomorrow and we are taking the day off from gardening!

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

British sugar

We live in an area of huge sugar beet production so it was with great annoyance that I heard the news that Tesco is not going to stock British granulated sugar.

Tesco has sparked outrage by pulling British sugar from its shelves - despite one of its biggest stores being right next to the factory that makes it.The supermarket giant is now importing stock from as far as 5,000 miles away in countries such as Belize rather than using bags made from British beet. (Peterborough News)

Silver Spoon sugar, produced with British sugar beet, was rolled out nationally in 1972.

The Bury St Edmunds packaging complex is the company’s largest packing site, featuring the most modern packaging plant in Europe, responsible for producing 70% of Silver Spoon’s 1kg packs of granulated sugar.
Every year, 2,000,000 tonnes of sugar beet are produced by 1,000 UK growers – with the average distance just 28 miles from the factory.  (East Anglian  Daily Times)

I have been reluctant to use this supermarket for years due to their supply strategies and business (non) ethics. 
So sorry, Tes-Co, no matter how many coupons and offers you make I will not willingly be a customer of yours.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Frustrating spring




There are signs of spring. A few blossoms here and there - odd daff, hellebores, primroses, crocus, viburnum bodnantense, cherry tree and a few good sunny half days  - then it rains again!!!

Stock of veg seedlings building up in the greenhouse  but the veg bed itself is too wet to dig over and prepare.  We are tackling odd jobs in the flower beds to get ourselves "match ready" for an upturn in soil temperatures and a dry spell.

I have been working hard to progress my patchwork quilt.  I have read on many blogs that often people put these projects aside.  I can understand that it is a very repetitive process but I have sewn it all up now, fitted the walking foot to the sewing machine, pre-washed the wadding and am nearly ready to layer it all up!  I had intended to do spiral quilting but having read more I an thinking of sticking to a side to side pattern. It will be easier I think.

Another sign of spring = first thing this morning I saw a hare lopping around the field opposite!

Image result for hares

Friday, 24 February 2017

Meanwhile back home

I was going to blog about the warm days enjoyed at home between the travelling this month - then Doris arrived!

Have you all survived in tact?

We lost two panes from the greenhouse and collected a wheelbarrow of branches from the birch trees in the front garden. Otherwise just stressed!  We qucikly put some bubble wrap on about 8pm as the wind lightened a bit..Once the wind died in the morning we collected the glass and the clips from the flower bed, measured, went to the local glass/window place, spent £12 in hard cash and refitted them before lunch.  As the meercats say - simples!

Seeds and emerging plants were not harmed and we have carried on with sowing.



I did go to my log cabin to carry on with my patchwork quilt squares but the thing was creaking and swaying in the wind. I soon retreated to the fire side!


I have ordered the wadding, machine needles and curved pins - cost about £25 so far.

Meanwhile, we have done one trip to our city dwelling family in the midlands and helped wallpaper strip two large bedrooms over two days. We are back there over the weekend to help complete the stripping in the box room and the lounge. There is some well painted over wood chip causing some problems as well as that awful 1970s vinyl wall paper where you have to get past one layer to get the backing wet. Otherwise not a bad house to renovate, nice area overlooking a primary school playing field with 2/3 miles of a linear park starting 200 yards down the road.  

Trying to ignore own decor when we return home - later in the summer perhaps?




Sunday, 19 February 2017

More travelling

We traveled cross country by several over priced and crowded railways to see our latest grandchild.

Cealen Jon. He is lovely and quiet! Our last two grandchildren had medical conditions that involved 18 months of screaming and being unsettled so we are now blessed. Though his Dad says "one day the shoe may drop and he will make up for it".

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Travels abroad

So last week we traveled from Gatwick for  a short break in Palma, Majorca. Our first trip aboard for nearly 5 years. Now you should bear in mind I am not an airport person and my husband has arthritis in one ankle and is not able to walk quickly. After an uncomfortable night in the hotel we set off early into the whole airport process.
What annoyed me most?
People rushing past us, pushing in queues and generally just having to be first in line no matter what?
The security woman repacking our toiletries into two separate plastic bags as having them all in one handy big plastic bag was not acceptable?
The overpriced food?
The long walk with a least two non-operating walkways, a non-operating lift which meant going up several flights of dingy stairs?

Thank goodness I fell asleep in the plane and woke up on landing! It was warm and sunny and the public transport from airport to hotel was smooth and trouble free. We spent a lovely afternoon wandering the labyrinth of alleyways with their upmarket shops and squares with pavement cafes in the old city and the enormous cathedral that dominates the skyline. Tried to avoid most of the steps and steep bits but it was quite a way up from the marina road and sea front where we were staying.



Next day there was a lovely coloured dawn from behind the cathedral with the light reflected in the marina. Good weather promised with temperatures up to 18 C!!
We went back to the modern city centre on the  bus and took the historic train through the mountains to Soller.

From the town we took a sweet little tram down to the sea. It squeezes and shrieks through the streets, straight across roundabouts and back gardens.  


 Lunch and a paddle!

Back in the town we had the most gorgeous ice cream ever in the town square.

There was some interesting knitting bombing on some of the trees - patchwork squares wrapped round the trunks of the otherwise bare plane trees. 
We found a FREE exhibition of ceramics by Picasso at the station.
There is a lot of modern sculptures and art all round Palma.

Next day was more exploring the winding streets and historic buildings of the old city. Plus leisurely lunches. 
Old windmills, above city walls with orange trees.

Interior of the 14th Century Merchant Guild building with wonderful arches designed like palm trees. 

Next day we traveled back to the UK and I won't bore you with a rant about airports and travelling public general lack of manners but I was glad when it was all over.

We contemplated Euro rail as an alternative and I agreed to try ferries again rather than any more air travel.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Travels in Februay

Our first bit of travelling in this month was a weekend in south London with our youngest son and family.  We got our discount rail "Travel together" tickets and a lift from our neighbour and set out early on Saturday from King's Lynn.  All went well except the express train was busy, but not full, then got busier and nosier  at Market Downham and then got frankly ridiculous at Cambridge!!  How can they sell twice as many tickets as you have seats? Surely there is enough technology, and chances in the hour long journey to there to physically count, and realize you have  sold 8 carriages of 80 seats and allowing another 400 + people to last 20 or so in each carriage to board is silly and unsafe?  Needless to say I was not impressed by having a creche of six under 5's round my feet for another hour even though they were well behaved and lovely.

Luckily Thameslink is an underused line and we arrived slightly calmer for lunch.  Later that day we joined son's east Indian Hindi family at a Bollywood concert in a school in Croydon. Great fun, even though we had no idea of the lyrics the energy and musical skill was fabulous.

Bit cold on Sunday but we braved a walk in Kelsey Park. It was a nice break from reading Thomas the Tank engine stories non stop which is little ones latest obsession.
Interesting park, linear along a stream and around a lake, bequeathed from the original manor house, and has some very old and interesting trees. My son thinks this one must have inspired Tolkien to invent "Ents" in the Lord of the Rings.
Late Sunday my son drove us to Gatwick to stay overnight before an early flight to Palma, Majorca. I will carry on my travels next time!


Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Break from blogging

Hi
One of the advantages of having a thin time with money in January was I have not much to clear out of the fridge at the end of the month so that we can go off travelling in February. We have 4 trips planned one after the other - a short break abroad, and visits to all 3 children in various parts of the UK. One has a new shed, one a new baby and the other a new house!

Having struggled not to go over any budgets all January I now feel like money is leaking away in tickets and hotel costs plus some new shoes and a jumper each!  Still, we limit ourselves the rest of the year so this will be all our treats in one go and we will tighten the belts all summer.

As soon as we get back we will be deeply into seed sowing and preparing the garden to feed us for the summer.

So not much blogging in February - see you in March!

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Plaited rag rug

Finished my January frugal/craft project of rag rugging!

Here it is filling in the gap between spare bed and wall in the second bedroom where just have varnished floor boards. I have used more curtain and duvet cloth in this, mixed with some more rayon/nylon fabrics (lining of old dresses - hence the orange!). This gave the plaits a much thicker feel, especially as each plait was folded and ironed so it was 4 layers thick. I laid them out in rows and stitched them in pairs by hand, then gradually joined the pairs. If it stays here in the bedroom I do not need to make it any wider. If I was to move it elsewhere I could easily add a few more plaits.  I am not sure if I will leave the ends open or fold a contrast fabric across to seal them in. 

Would I recommend this craft?  
Yes, it uses up a lot of second hand fabric and clears out your stash wonderfully.
It is easy to do and you can do it in front of the fire.
Compared to my earlier round mat made with thin dress/blouse material this is thick and cosy for the toes. (Unfortunately, as I left the half made version in front of the settee, it emphasised that the lounge carpet is worn and far from cosy. So by next year this carpet we inherited on buying the house, two years ago, really has to be replaced.)

Disadvantages
My hands ache. I found my limit was half an hour of stitching or an hour of preparing and plaiting a day (about 4 plaits a day ). It would not suit someone with arthritis.
I have a hole in my middle finger. In the end I had to find my thimble which I hardly ever use. But pushing the tapestry needle through and using a thicker than normal thread took its toll.

My next household project is going to be a summer quilt for our king sized bed. I am pricing up the wadding needed and the cotton thread, but I think I have enough material in hand to do this in 4 inch cotton squares. I was inspired by a post by The Seasoned Housemaker recently with a beginners quilt.


Saturday, 28 January 2017

Run out of...

The store cupboard is getting a bit thin as the month draws to a close -

Ran out of biscuits - baked blueberry muffins.

Ran out of bread - made some crumpets.

Ran out of fruit juice for accompanying evening meal - drank some Christmas gift wine!!!

I don't think I am suffering too much.......  pension due at end of month.