Thursday, 30 June 2011

A Fair Exchange is No Robbery

Hello lovelies

We've had a busy few days, hence the lack of blogging.  

I may have mentioned before that we are trying hard to declutter our home, and this goes for the garden too.  We hired a skip over the weekend and so have cleared the garden of a myriad of rubbish.  I've kicked against having a skip for a long time as I hate the idea that the rubbish will simply to into land fill, however I've had to admit defeat and accept that there was absolutely no other way to go in this instance.  We've chopped much of the wood offcuts for the chiminea and crammed as much green waste into the green recycling bin as possible, however the rotten old pet hutches would never have burned (however the grilles from an old guinea pig run have been utilised as cat guards over my veggie planter so that's been another bit of recycling!) 

The metal frames from two old bikes were claimed by the ubiquitous scrap men within ten minutes of them being put out. 

Whilst we had use of the skip, Mr B decided that the chicken run needed digging out.  There was a really offensive sour smell emanating from the run, particularly after all the rain we we'd been having.  We were a bit perturbed by this, as we are quite meticulous about the cleaning out of our girls.  After checking up on a couple of forums, it seems that the smell could be coming from old feed which had been stamped into the ground by the hens and which had soured as it began to break down.  Well - we're not sure whether this is correct or not but to be on the safe side he took a layer off and raked it all over.  Sure enough the smell has gone.  Rather than putting the mash/corn/pellets (whatever they're dining on this week!) directly onto the floor now, we've tied a tray onto the side of the pen and have placed a slab beneath it to catch the debris.  Of course this won't stop all of the food escaping into the ground but it will protect it a little at least.  The chooks are happy with the arrangement and we still sprinkle the fresh green stuff and meal worms around so that they have something to scratch about after as that never seems to last too long anyway!!

The chooks themselves have been enjoying lovely dust baths in the hot sunshine over the weekend.  They absolutely love this activity and although they dig holes so deep I fear for them digging up ex-pets, it's hilarious to see them rolling around in the holes they carve in the dry soil.

Bless em - they were very naughty on Sunday and decided to assist the cats with their dinner!

Honestly - nothing is safe!!
The reason for my blog title today is the fact that my neighbour and I had a bit of a trade off this evening.  As we our  little china hen is completely full to bursting with eggs this week, there were half a dozen laid within the last couple of days which I simply couldn't find a home for.  With no time during the week to bake, I popped them 'round to my neighbour who was most appreciative and wanted to pay for them but of course I was having none of it.

About 30 minutes later however she returned my bowl - complete with a mixture of home grown raspberries, strawberries and the largest, sweetest cherries I've ever tasted.  A fair exchange indeed!   Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could return to this way of living?!

Until next time,

K xx

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Thursday Already!

Hello lovelies!  For the working gals and guys amongst us - it's nearly Friday!!  And that's a good enough reason for a huge smile in my book!

Have any of you developed webbed feet yet?!  The rain woke me several times again last night.  Slow, heavy, plodding rain which certainly meant business.  Never mind - just think of the good it's doing in our gardens and allotments.  I think the forecast at present is that the weekend is set to be fairly decent.  Time will tell!!  I hope it's at least dry - we have a skip arriving tomorrow so that we can finally clear the rubbish from the garden.  It will be nice not having to venture into Steptoe's yard all the time!  It's going to be a busy one but it will be so worth it!

I've had an unusually busy week this week with three nights worth of social events going on,  and this evening was the first night this week that I was able to get home before 6pm.  It's rare for me to be out so much in the week but as is usually the case,  my social life is akin to waiting for buses - nothing for ages then three events arrive together!!  

It's been an enjoyable few nights but boy was it blissful to get home at a reasonable time this evening and be able to chill out for a while.  For chill out read "eat dinner and zonk out in the chair with the laptop frequently becoming perilously close to sliding off my lap".

One of the girls at work has a birthday next week. As she will be away for her celebration, we decided to club together and get her some vouchers so that she could spend the cash on treats for her holiday.  I offered to pop into the Merry Hill (Hell) (big soul-less shopping) Centre on the way home from work to pick up the vouchers.  We had decided on Westfield vouchers as she would have the choice of being able to spend them in most of the shops in the Centre. 

Like most of the high street stores, Westfield gift vouchers now take on the form of  those new fangled 'credit cardalike' thingies.  I chose a suitable birthdayish card and envelope and ordered the card to be charged with the £30.00 we had collected.   I was not a happy bunny to be told that the £30.00 worth of gift card would actually cost me £32.00.


Apparently there is a £2.00 "activation charge".


I nearly told the assistant to stick the card where the sun don't shine.  Activation code indeed.  What a load of tosh!   It's a transaction charge more like.  

A whole two quid for the privilige of being able to spend money in their over priced shops.  The nerve of em!  That's one mistake I won't be making again.  I had to go with it on this occasion as I was up against the clock to get my bus home and simply didn't have time to faff around looking elsewhere. !!

Sorry about the lack of photos - I'm not sure that a photograph of a Gift Card would really be of much interest so here's a couple from my garden instead!!

The Johnsons Blue hardy geranium has been flowering it's little head off for weeks now

My 'Mother of Millions' rose has the sweetest appley scent and big peony like flowers.

We cut the ceanothus back quite hard last year but there is still a good flush of flowers on it.  The bees absolutely adore this plant.  When they were little, the kids used to call this the 'buzzy bush' because of the cacophony from the visiting insects.  They both used to give it a wide berth!  I love how the raindrop is caught suspended from the bottom of the bloom.

Shh...... the fairies are asleep....

Hydrangea Petiolaris - a climbing hydrangea with lovely lacey flowers - this has done well this year and is covered in blooms.

Until next time

Take care of you and yours

Much love


Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Summer Blessings

Blessings to you and yours on this Solstice Day.  The Wheel is turning so quickly this year.  It seems merely five minutes ago that we were celebrating Beltane.

Although we are bemoaning the lack of sunshine at the moment, the parched earth is drinking up the steady rain and our family allotments are showing their collective thanks by positively bombarding us with soft fruit right now.  It certainly goes hand in hand with Solstice and fruition.  Redcurrants, blackcurrants and strawberries are absolutely thriving inside the fruit cages and Mum and Dad have reported that they've picked three pounds of strawberries already this week, together with a litre icecream tub of each kind of currant with pounds more hanging like strands of jewels for the picking  of very shortly.

Some of them have been turned into delicious sweet treats already.  This is a simple and cheapie 79p cheesecake mix  made rather more luxurious with a topping of fresh allotment picked fruits and mint.

I spent another night out on the tiles this evening - just to a local hostelry for a cheap and cheerful carvery meal with my mad family to celebrate the birthday of this lovely lady:-


Monday, 20 June 2011

And now for something completely different.

Well ok perhaps not groundbreakingly different; just a little alternative for a Monday evening!

This evening some work colleagues and I went on a brewery tour.  I don't mind a nice real ale, and Sadlers Brewery based at The Windsor Castle in Lye in the Black Country brew some corkers!!

We had a tour of the microbrewery and the very affable tour host Sam explained the brewing process right from the start.  I have to say that I was intrigued with his explanations (no doubt assisted by the fact that he was very easy on the eye! ;) ).  We smelt and tasted the barley in it's various stages.  We were shown where the 'magic' happens.  It was good to hear that the by-product of the brewing process is utilised by local farmers as animal feed.  One  thing that I was a little surprised at really was the fact that a local brewery such as this  have to buy in their hops from abroad.  I expected them to buy relatively locally as Worcester, Hereford and Evesham are so close and are renouned hop producing areas.   Apparently not however as the hops are incredibly expensive and it's cheaper to import them.  Mad eh?!

Anyway, inclusive in the £15.00 cost was a delicious ploughmans supper, including the softest homemade bread, super tasty chees, home made chutney, pickles. salad and salad.  PLUS four beer vouchers each to 'spend' sampling the ale.

I chose this one first - for obvious reason!

A golden England Best Bitter with a sweet after taste - very moreish and lovely it was too! 

Next came my favourite out of the ones I tried this evening, a pale lively brew called Hop Bomb.  Wow!  Really refreshing with an almost citrus tang to it.  Light and lively and 5% proof.  I'll be seeking out more of this I feel!!

Finally after my meal, I indulged in half a pint of Mud City Stout.  I've had this one before and liked its sinfully dark, almost chocolatey flavour.   Yum!!!  

I had to stop there tho as I was so full up I was about to pop and I couldn't have done justice to any more of the lovely brew!  I gifted my last beer token to someone far more worthy than I who used it wisely to partake of some more Hop Bomb!!  Good on ya 'Manda!!

Have a look here for more information on this delightful little pub.  I thoroughly recommend it and shall definitely be returning for a 'session', without a full belly getting in the way of beer sampling next time!!

Happy Midsummers Eve my darlings. 

Hoppy Malty Blessings to you. 

Thursday, 9 June 2011


Today, I sashayed (yes - I do this a lot y'know - sashaying sounds so much better than stomping!) along the High Street at lunch time laden with Ebay parcels, Post Office bound. I have a newly rekindled love affair with Ebay having made £90 last week from items which have been languishing in my drawers (ooer mrs!) for months. But I digress. As usual.

I had a couple of things to get from town, one of them being citric acid.  I have a penchant to be making elderflower cordial this week after seeing a fab recipe over at Sue's blog.   So.  On on Monday  evening, I excitedly thought - Oooh!!  I'll go get those elderflowers before they start going 'over' and make some cordial!  

Then I realised I didn't really have a suitable receptacle.  Unless I used the mop bucket, which really wasn't ideal.

So on Tuesday, I invested in one from Home Bargains.  Tis silver and shiney and plastic and perfectly good for the brewing of said elderflower lusciousness.  And it was 99p.  I was impressed!  And I came home all smug and thought - I'll go get those elderflowers before they start going 'over'. 

Then I realised I didn't have any lemons. 

So on Wednesday, I purchased some huge beautiful unwaxed lemons from t' market. Three for a pound.  Perfick!  And I came home and thought - I must get those elderflowers before they start going 'over'. 

Then I re-read the recipe and realised that I needed citric acid.

So today (I'm gritting my teeth now at my totally ridiculous lack of forward planning, organisation and ditziness) I remembered that I had to get citric acid. Go me. 

After my foray to the Post Office to post aforementioned parcels and encountering the scowliest Post Office counter bloke ever to walk the earth ....  incidentally, (Look out I'm going to digress again ) - WHY don't Post Office counter people actually LIKE dealing with parcels?  WHY?  I don't understand.  Every time I dare to go in there with more than one item to post, they scowl at me from under their eyebrows.  Are you not supposed to post more than one item at a time?  Is it not in their job description to accept more than one parcel from a body at any one time?  Does it compromise their basic human rights? And - woe betide me - I had the gaul to ask for **whispers** a.... "proof of posting for each parcel please!"  Well.  The the air around the Post Office warmed up considerably due to the amount of huffing and puffing from the counter-clerk whose eyebrows were now resting on his cheekbones like Neanderthal Man. I must have really annoyed him.  


I'm going again tomorrow.  With MORE parcels.  Mwahahahaha   End of digression.

ANYway.  On the way back from the P.O., I popped to Boots for the citric acid.  Boots no longer stock it apparently.  Why?  They "dunno why".


Remembering a small independent chemist over the road, I dodged the lunchtime traffic and popped in.  It was here that I had one of those surreal conversations that I think only ever happen to me.  I'm convinced of it.


Me:  Smiling nicely and speaking in a pleasant manner.  "Do you stock citric acid at all?"

Assistant:  "No". (Had an idea that she might be married to Post Office Man).

Me:  "Oh.  Ok.  Thanks anyway". Walking away dejectedly.

Chemist from behind the screen: "Just a minute".

Me: pausing on my way out of the shop "Yes?"

Chemist beckons me back to the counter.  In a very quiet voice, he asks "What are you going to use it for?"

Me, also in a very quiet voice and looking around in case of spies: "I'm going to make elderflower cordial".

Chemist:  "Oh". 

Me: "Erm.  Yeah".

Chemist: Opening tray beneath the counter.  "I may have some".

Me: "Oh.  That would be great!"

Chemist:  "I have to keep it hidden".

Me: Puzzled but accepting.   "Oh".

Chemist:  Rootling around in said drawer for ages suddenly has a Eureka moment and retrieves pot of citric acid with a flourish. "I knew I had one in here somewhere!"

Me: Gratefully handing over £1.50 "so ..... do you usually stock it then?"

Chemist: "Yes. But I only sell it to people who don't look like heroin addicts".

I think the modern response here would be something along the lines of "WTF?"

Me:  "Ohhh ... Kay".


Is it me?

So..... I came home after work. Excitedly I got everything together and scalded out the bucket in readiness.  The citric acid.  The bucket.  The lemons.  The sugar.

The Sugar??   Yup.   Getting that tomorrow.

The elderflowers ain't looking none too clever either!

Yours, not looking like a heroin addict,

Kim xxx

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Flaming June

Where has it gone, exactly; this summer of which you speak? 
There was sunshine for a while last Saturday - but it hasn't been seen for a week.
I have a tell-tale tan line, from my neck down to my bust.
Who the heck am I kidding?  That's not tan, it's rust!

HAH!!!!  I just thought of that!! 

Flippin British weather! 

Between the showers, Mr B and I spent most of the day at the lottie.  We haven't been down for a while.  I was ill, then he was ill, then I was away.  Blah de blah.   In our absence the ruddy mares' tails (or Hoss's Arses as Mr B mistakenly called them this morning. Snigger) have had a field day in our five raised beds.  The varmints.

We were so traumatised by the sight of the weeds, we immediately called a coffee break.  Please note the tastefully staged photograph which includes the lovely liddle Country Living baglet that I purchased yesterday - incidentally - the hand cleanser and barrier cream smell DEEEVINE!!!

Suitably fortified by our coffee, we soon kicked  the weeds into touch though and had a darn good tidy up session.  We planted out the butternut squish plants we bought yesterday from the boot fair, the rogue courgette plant which we found amongst them(!), we transplanted the sweetcorn I had grown from seed, some cabbage plants which my Dad had given to us, together with about 30 red onions. 

The potatoes we planted a couple of months ago are flourishing, as are the shallots.  Several lottie people actually commented on the shallots today saying that they looked brilliant so I'm hoping for great things from them!

Look at these beauties.

We're thinking about setting up to trade in micro potatoes.  We think it could catch on!!  Look at the diddy diddly one!! Potatoes aren't supposed to be cute are they?! 

After we had weeded the tiny strawberry plantlets I had rescued as runners from one of the allotment paths, I was really pleased to see that there are already some tiny strawberries setting themselves.  As the runners were only transplanted very recently, I'm not expecting much from them this year but hopefully when they're more established next year we'll have lots of fruit.  Similarly, the raspberry canes we transplanted from an abandoned lottie have also settled down nicely so again, next year we should see some fruit.

The majority of the lottie holders are now utilising  'cages' to protect their soft fruit from marauding pigeons - and it's working so well.  These walk-in cages are made using  wooden frames and fine mesh covers which allows the bees, sunshine and rain in, but protects the soft fruit (currants, raspberries, blueberries etcetera) from the birds.  This method is certainly working and seems to be the way forward for us allotmenteers.  The currants in particular are hanging in bunches right now, shiny, plentiful and gorgeous - and more importantly, undamaged.  I'll get some pics for you next time I'm down there. 

We share our allotment with my brother and sister-in-law.  We have several raised beds each which is more than enough when we all work full time.  My Mum and Dad have two full sized plots on the same site, so between us all we have a little cooperative going and will swap fuit and veg as and when it becomes availalble.  It's mine and Mr B's first year of allotmenting so we're on a bit of a learning curve when it comes to growing stuff but we're having fun on the way.

We have a wildflower/wildlife bed  over by the shed and greenhouse which is home to a wildlife pond.  We were watching the tadpoles this morning and noticed that there are two distinct sizes in there at the moment.  Small taddies which are still swimming around and slightly larger froglets, with formed limbs and fat little bodies but which are still to lose their tails.   Whilst we were watching we were delighted to see a little newt standing on one of the rocks.  He was too quick for me to take his photograph but it was great to see him in there.  We christened him Newton.  Because it seems to suit him really.


Continuing with the produce theme, when we got home we found these on the doorstep, a gift from a lovely friend.

Rain eventually stopped play so we retreated home to homemade (leftover) lasagne, home made chunky chips and to balance it a little (!) a simple rustic salad to which we added our own-grown red oak leaf salad leaves.  The picture above is just a sample.  I did actually pick more than four leaves!! 

To follow we'll be having trifle, made with the fresh raspberries from yesterday, sugar free raspberry jelly, custard, a layer of passionfruit and mango yoghurt, cream and fresh strawberries.  None of that sponge finger malarkey for us thank you.  We prefer our trifle sans crumby bits!!

Enjoy your Sunday evening!!

P.S.   Dahhhlings  - Blogger tells me that I now have a total of 23 followers! *waves madly (and proudly!*)   Unfortunately because of the problems that Blogger is experiencing right now, I can't actually 'see' who you are .  If you have dropped by today, a comment from you would be very welcome.  Even if it's just to say hello.  You'd make a mad old bat very happy!  Leave a link to your blog so that I can return the favour. **

** Disclaimer:  This does not imply in any way that by association, my readers are mad old bats too.  


Saturday, 4 June 2011

Bargains to Boot!

At some ghastly and totally uncalled for hour for a Saturday morning, I was hauled from my delicate slumbers by my mobile phone warbling away on the bedside table.  It was Lovely Man texting me to say that he was on his way home from work and "did I fancy going booting?!"  Well - that's one of only two things that will get me up early on a Saturday, the other one being Howard Donald dancing naked on my lawn.    I don't mind a good boot sale.  The one we go to is quite local and just the other side of the fields at the back of the house so quite convenient really.  The wonderful sunshine had enticed the booters out of their beds and the field was absolutely packed with sellers.

As well as the potential for spotting a good old bargain, 'boots' are also great places for some hilarious character observations. I'm an avid people watcher so was in my element being nosey whilst wandering up and down the aisles, keeping a weather eye out for a bargaintastic item or two on the way.  

Today's observations:-

A pondering

Why on earth do people take dogs to car boot sales?  Eh?  Eh??  WHY??  Regular readers of my blog will know that I'm a dog-lover and we're currently looking for a pup of our own, but I can't understand why you would want to drag yer pooch around crowded aisles, particularly in the case of today, in blazing heat.  Twice today I've nearly tripped over dog leads as owners were browsing the stalls and bored doggie was trying to mooch off in the opposite direction.   No need.  Grrr.  Quite frankly. 

Moving on.

A Bit of A Rant

To the people who park on the country lanes rather than paying a small fee to park.  You do my head in!!  If it only costs about 50p for you to park your car in a relatively safe field immediately accessible to the actual traders, surely it's worth paying that simply for the peace of mind that  a) your car ain't going to get clamped for obstructing a public highway, b) you know that if you need to make a quick get away or offload armfuls of heavy bargains your car is just a few metres away and not a three mile hike back down the road c) your beloved vehicle won't run such a risk of getting side swiped by passing traffic because the lane you've parked on is actually only one and a half cars wide at best, d) you're not putting the whole weekly boot sale in jeopardy because the Police will get endless complaints from residents and other road users that the road is becoming impassable due to the volume of parked cars outside the venue.  If you live locally - walk!  You can leave the car on your bliddy drive forgoodnessakes!  If you've taken the trouble to start up your car and used fuel to get there - go mad and spend the extra 50p to unclog the roads.  Sort it out people!


Fell off me soap box then. 

An I-shouldn't-have-laughed-at-someone else's-misfortune-but-it-really-was-very-funny Incident

Scene 1.

Me, minding my own business, browsing some stupidly overpriced trinkets.

Nicely dressed older lady of very slight build, also minding her own business, bending down looking at baby clothes in a large box.

Sound Effect.

1) A very sudden and rather loud "MMMMMEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWMMMMMMMMMMM" type noise as tiny whirlwind child whizzes past.

2) Loud squeak from nicely dressed older lady followed by collective "Oooooh's " from surrounding supporting cast.

Scene 2

Me - looking in a quizzical manner across in general direction of nicely dressed, slightly built, older lady.  

Nicely dressed, slightly built older lady, rather disconcertingly, on knees with head in said baby clothes box.

Cue lots of people averting gazes and clamping jaws together in bid to prevent bubbles of embarrassed laughter escaping.

Nicely dressed, slightly built, older lady now turning rather interesting shade of purple, shrugging off offers of assistance whilst hauling self to feet.

Small whirlwind child (now strangely quiet) waving large aircraft type toy in face of nicely dressed, slightly built, older lady and stating "LOOK NANNY ISS A PLAYUN!!!"

Nicely dressed, slightly built, older lady glaring at small whirlwind child and in a voice which sounds as though she had gargled broken glass and razor blades for breakfast positively roars in a VERY broad, Black Country accent:  "OLIVER!!! I'LL BLUDDY KILL YER!!".


It's very painful trying to swallow a giggle isn't it?

Most Annoying Trader Award

There's a toss up for the award this week.  It's a choice between:-

a)  Imperious and rather sniffy lady of a certain age (who, I am convinced, looked like she would be dousing her hands in antibacterial hand cleanser each time she relieved the great unwashed of their filthy lucre) who had a stall full of ladies' clothes.  One of the items (a beautiful black  heavy cotton crocheted evening style top with a jet bead dropper-beaded hem  ) took my fancy - sounds very formal but I could gothic it up no problem!!!  I asked the price which was £3 - a bit pricey but to be honest it was gorgeous and very worth it.  It looked brand new.  I dared to stroke it a little, ignoring the glares from Imperious Lady before picking it from the rail, then walking to the front of the stall to check out her other wares.

"I've decided that I'm not selling that top now" she flapped, anxiously holding her hand out to retrieve the garment from my clutches.  "I don't know why I bought it with me".  I reluctantly handed it back to her.

I picked up a pair of shoes and asked the price. "ONE POUND FIFTY" she responded, (still imperiously!), and looking me up and down as though  I was something unsavoury on the bottom of her shoe.   "They were VERY expensive.  They're Roland Cartier you know.  Designer".


Me. Handing over cash.Grinding teeth behind cool smile and shooting daggers from behind my black shades.  "Yes.   I.   Know.  I'm well aware of who Roland Cartier is"  She handed me my change, deigning to flash me a little smile  as she did so. "Ahh a lady who knows a good shoe when she sees one - just like me!" she giggled - positively girlishly.

Me:  Putting the change in my pocket and swinging the shoes disinterestedly on the tips of my fingers.  "Well to be honest they're a bit old fashioned for my tastes.  But I know Roland Cartier sells really well on ebay and that's where these are heading".

I didn't stop to see her reaction.  Snotty old bint!


b)  I was perusing a table full of, what can only be politely described as, random crap, a little later on.  I noticed that each time someone asked the vendor how much something was, he said "That one mate?". I was so tempted to pick something up, ask how much it was, for him to respond "That one mate?" and then go... "nahhh..... not this one mate - that one over there".   mwahahahahahaha.

 Hmm.   I'm going on a bit aren't I?!

Shall I shut up and show you what I bought?

Oh alright then.

THOSE shoes.  They're actually not bad really - I like the check detail on the heel.

A tray of butternut squish plantlets for a squid. 

A Country Living subscription gift - cute liddle bag, gardening gloves, an unopened tube of posh hand cleanser and same of hand barrier cream.  A squid for the lot.

A new to me top for ... yep you guessed it - a squid.

Bubba shoes!!!  Mr B's new grandbabba was born yesterday (Welcome to the world Esme!).  I am (un)officially a pretend Nanny!  So that gives me carte blanche to buy baby shoes!!  How cute are they?!  50p per pair.  Awww!!  (Really must curb my love of baby shoes!  I'm sure it's not right!!)

A cutesome dress/cardy and matching pants baby outfit for £1.50.  Why can't we buy outfits with matching pants? 

Some scrummy craft paints - all you see below came to the princely sum of £2.00.  All new and unopened.

Two big punnets of raspberries and a large punnet of English strawbs - £2 the lot. YUM!!

Best of all though - was making it home BEFORE it began raining hewooge fat sploshy spots of rain - and celebrating the fact with these: (another attempt at the Cola cake worked this time!!)

Happy Out!! 

Have a great weekend!!!!