Saturday, 28 May 2011

Just popping in...

Just popping in..for a bit of grumble:

Today, with husband and son ensconced in front of the television watching the Premiership Rugby Final, I thought I would use the car to pop into town. I didn't want to be long...I just wanted to go to the market to look for buttons, buy some fish for dinner tonight, go to the market deli for olives and spicy nuts, and pop into the wool shop. These places are all in close proximity to one another and I could be done and home in less than an hour...or so I thought!

Town was chaos and all my usual parking places were completely jammed up! I only wanted to was starting to rain...I was getting fed up and rapidly going off the idea: I went home! It makes me so cross because it is small businesses that have suffered here, not big companies. I'm sure I was not alone today...I wonder how many other people went home or decided to shop elsewhere...somewhere where they could park conveniently, cheaply?

Something needs to be done about parking if town centres are to survive and if small businesses are to prosper because they are the ones that are suffering when people are forced out of town to shopping centres with easy parking. Yes, I could (and I do) use the bus, but I do not have any sort of concessionary pass like so many of the passengers and have to pay full fare, which from the stop closest to my home to town and back costs £4. Sorry, but £4 is a little too expensive for popping!

Hopefully, Mary Portas can give the government the help it has asked for sort out our town centres...parking and bus fares would be a good place to start!

My town is looking to become a city: in my mind it can become whatever it likes, but if you can't park or get there conveniently and cheaply, what's the point?

I'm done...time to pour a glass of wine and rustle up something other than fish for dinner!

Back soon,

Friday, 27 May 2011

Raining, cats and frogs

Yesterday brought us rain...something that farmers and gardeners have been praying for over the past few weeks. However, it doesn't seem to have made much difference to the water level in the pond at the bottom of our garden, which is 7 or 8" down, lower than we usually see it at the end of summer.
Each year we have lots of froggy visitors who return to the garden to lay their spawn in the pond...they often arrive two by two, like this pair!

We take pleasure in hearing their froggy noises and checking on their progress as spring progresses each year, but this year the pond has not been so busy and we were quite distressed to discover at least six dead frogs a few weeks back. At first we wondered if it was some sort of disease that had affected them but, on doing more research, it seems possible that these were frogs that had hibernated at the bottom of the pond over the winter and had not been able to survive the long period of extremely cold weather that we had. Apparently, the dead frogs float to the surface as the temperature rises.

It's such a shame, but I am not surprised. It was so cold for so long here. We had no end of problems with burst pipes and pipes that were blocked with ice. Here's the ice that my dad and son removed from the pipe that drains from the bathroom sink:
The pond was frozen solid too.

The dead leaves, twigs and bits have been removed from the water and there are several live frogs in the pond at the moment. We are also saving any rainwater (when it comes!) in buckets and containers to help raise the water level in the pond. The buckets are empty again at the moment...apart from when Audrey cat decides that they are for playing in!

Of course, rain is also much appreciated to keep things going in the raised beds, especially now that we have started to enjoy the taste of our labours! Rocket, cut-and-come again lettuce, and spinach all doing well
...except when sabbotaged by this shy one, Daisy, who has decided that these raised beds might just have been placed as giant outdoor litter trays!

Bring out the wire netting, twiggy sticks...

Back soon,



Monday, 16 May 2011


I am so glad to have finally managed to get my hands of a copy of this new magazine,

which includes a pattern for these gorgeous crocheted apple jackets...I love them! A lovely lady that came to a workshop a while ago mentioned that she had seen these on the internet and they had inspired her to Learn to Crochet! I shall definitely be making some of these!

I've still not had chance to sit down and read the magazine, but I am loving just flicking through the pages as I pass the table, where it is patiently waiting for me! How can I resist when there are so many gorgeous things to look at! Mollie Makes are loving this crocheted frock protector...and so am I...makes me want to dust off my bicycle!So, if you love making...or just looking at gorgeous things that other people have made, you need Mollie Makes, which can be found in most W H Smith stores, Sainsbury's and other outlets, but don't delay because it's selling fast!

I just have to mention something quite unusual that happened to me last week! I came across a pretty Emma Bridgewater mug in a charity shop for £1, which meant that it was coming home with me...or so I thought! When I stepped out of the shop and turned to walk home, a man called to me and asked if I would sell him the mug that I had just bought! I was quite taken aback and asked why did he want it? His story was a lovely one, about his wife and how she collects Emma Bridgewater mugs...I liked his story and returned home without the mug, but with a £5 note in my purse! I shall probably find out that it was a rare item and worth much more, but I am happy with my own spongeware creation from some years ago...

and I have £5, which will fund the great subscription offer for the next three issues of Mollie Makes magazine!

Back soon,



Friday, 6 May 2011

A garden coffee break

Whenever possible I like to have one of these in the garden:
and take time to look around at what's happening and enjoy things,

like the fragrant wisteria blooms that are almost coming to end.

I like to see how plants are coming along, like this bay, which is a new addition to the garden. I shall be keeping a close eye on this one as we've never had any success with growing bay, but love to have it around as we use it so often in the kitchen. Hopefully, this one will survive!

I'm also excitedly checking the new raised beds daily for any signs of activity from all the seed planting that went on a few weeks ago. So far we have spinach, various salad leaves, including rocket, which is a real favourite of mine, spring onions, beetroot and, I think, a glimpse of a carrot seedling or two. Oh, the anticipation...I am so looking forward to abandoning the supermarket salad leaves and picking my own fresh from the garden again.
I also check up on the various plants and pots that are being taken in and out at the moment so as to avoid any sneaky overnight frosts. Can you see a glimpse of a yellow bean?
These seedlings are doing very well...

and, if they continue to do so, the garden will be full of these, which is no bad thing as we love tomatoes! After all, who can resist a plate of gorgeous homegrown tomatoes with basil and mozzarella drizzled with delicious extra virgin olive oil served with some crusty bread!

As I sit, or wander around, I am not alone...Audrey, or Audrey Hepburn as she is known when she is misbehaving, is at my feet. Here she is, having one of her funny moments, hence the blurriness: She has been a great addition to the household and has brought smiles and laughter to some very unhappy times this year.

When my 7 year old niece was staying with us in February, she could not get to grips with the name Audrey and kept calling her 'Ordinary'! She certainly is no 'ordinary' cat...I've never known one to lay like this:

Here she is beside me while I work...oh, what a life!

Bye for now,