Monday, 21 August 2017

The Llanrwst Show 2017

Saturday saw us up and about early, bleary eyed from a 6am alarm call, sorting out the chickens, feeding and walking the dogs ... and me frantically making a second batch of scones as my first came out like cheesy Frisbees.

Then it was a question of packing up all my carefully prepared choices from the polytunnel and veggie patch the day before and setting off for the show.  Llanrwst is only a couple of miles along the road so it didn't take us long to get there, we did drive through two rain showers on our way though so that made us a bit concerned.

Last years show was virtually a washout with horrendous heavy rain and gale force winds, we did not want an action replay of that for the organisers to cope with.  This years show just HAD to be a success to try and recoup some of the enormous expense it must cost to put on a show of this size.

My offerings were staged alongside lots of other peoples in the Horticulture and Homecraft marquee, and there was a lot of good natured banter as we all titivated our vegetables and arranged dahlias and flowers to within an inch of their lives, and then we set off for home.

Judging in the tent was from 10am until 1pm so we thought it better to be at home getting on with jobs and then come back to have a good look round the show in the afternoon.

We got back at about 2ish and made our way straight to the tent to see what the results were.  To be honest I had not expected too much this year as the quality of the exhibits we had watched being unpacked earlier had been very high.  But there in the egg class ...

... were our eggs with a Third place card.

In this class unlike John's at Trelawnyd the eggs have to be matching, and raw

The judges are looking for super freshness, ie. the two layers of white being very distinct and the yolk bright and well domed.  At Trelawnyd they have to be freshly cooked and displayed with the yolk central when the judge cuts into them.

I felt vindicated for doing a second batch of scones as the new ones got me a Second place :-)

I didn't enter a Scotch Egg ... but I thought I'd put this photo in ... just in case John comes over for a visit to this post.  It's always good to see a man drool   ;-)

Moving along the table I spied that my Blackberry Whisky had got a Second.

So in the Homecraft section I got two Seconds and a Third  :-)

At the other side of the tent were the veggie and flower classes.

I got a first for '5 Tomatoes with Calyx'

A First for my Salad basket (must contain one lettuce and 2 others).

A Second in the Open Section for '5 Tomatoes with calyx'.

No, your eyes aren't deceiving you there are only four tomatoes on the winning plate!!  Somebody pinched one of the winners tomatoes .... it wasn't me honest!!  Seemingly the Judge conferred with the organisers and was told that there were definitely five tomatoes at the start of the day!!

A Second for my Truss of Tomatoes.

I was gutted that a lovely bright red, fully ripe tomato fell off the truss as I was putting it into the bag at home, that would most likely have made it the winner.  I did debate sticking it back on with superglue .... but honesty won over  ;-)

I got a Second for my pair of marrows.

A First for my jug of 'six freshly cut herbs'.

A Second for my Courgette, in the 'Any Other Vegetable Not on the Schedule' class.

And as the only entry in the Five French Marigolds class .... I got a First here too.

I used to feel a bit funny getting a winners card if I was the only entry, but it was explained to me that even if you are the only entry, the item entered has to fulfill all competition criteria and 'be a good example of it's type'.

So a total of four Firsts and four Seconds.

And £25.50 in prize money  :-)

Before coming home we had a good look around the Show, chatted to friends and neighbours ...

... and drank cider and drooled over tractors
Well that was mostly Alan not me, although I did join in with the cider bit  ;-)

A good day was had by all despite the occasional shower of rain, and next year we will be back, with more vegetables, more alcoholic beverages and hopefully some wooden items from Alan's brand new workshop ... he has been challenged to bring home a winners card all of his own.

Sue xx

Friday, 18 August 2017

Green Corners, Work Corners

This is a bit of a post of two halves, firstly this little green corner of our land that I love ...

... it's literally just a tidying up of a corner, to the left of this photo, that we tidied up a couple of weeks ago. 

A few large stones neatening the edge in front of the of the tree, back filled with compost from an old planter and planted with some wild flowers and daffodil bulbs.  We neatened up the archway into the woods and moved the 'little shed' as it's called from it's old position by the oak store to the left of the arched entrance..

I couldn't resist a little curtain at the window after cleaning the glass.  It's only an old tea towel cut almost in half and then drawing pinned into place, but it gives it enough of a cute look to satisfy my occasional girly cravings  ;-)

Another corner we've been tackling is this 'storage corner' in the polytunnel.

Once you start a corner like this it grows under it's own steam and you actually forget what's in the boxes at the back so it was time to do something about it.

Another corner bugging me was the other end of the workbench where I do my seed sowing and potting on.  The plant pots and trays were taking over the space, gradually getting messier and messier.  So I came up with a plan to sort out both corners in one fell swoop with just a bit of saw action required by my lovely hubby.

I'll be back with photos of the finished result once I remember to take my camera over with me next time I visit the tunnel.

Sue xx

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Just Mavis

Just Mavis .... looking very smart standing in the paddock.

She's a much more confident little doggie now and can be trusted to mooch about the place a little bit if we are around.  She comes when she's called, and goes up into our woodlands or into Chicken World rather than towards the road.

Massive improvements for a dog that had such a bad start in life.

We love her to bits.

Just Mavis.

Yes Suky ... we love you too :-)

Sue xx

Friday, 11 August 2017

Chicken Stocktake 2017

I try at least once a year to do a Chicken Stocktake, mostly to fix in my head the numbers and types of our ever changing flock of chickens.  The old girls die, youngsters are born or accidents happen like last weeks and we lose a girl suddenly.

Some good news to share with you all is that we got one of our stolen girls back :-)

She had been chucked over the hedge into a field of sheep and one of our neighbours spotted her fending for herself and let us know.  It took Alan literally two minutes to catch her and bring her home ... where she got stuck into the Layers Pellets like a thing possessed.

So with her return to the flock it seemed like a good time to do this years stocktake.

Heading his harem of lovely ladies is Jack, the Lavender Pekin Bantam cockerel,  who is now a magnificent mature specimen of miniature manhood.

Once again, thank goodness, we have four 'Green Girls'.

We have four 'Blue Girls'. they are named as such from the bands on their legs, so we can remember when we bought them, although in this instance the purchases were only two weeks apart. 

These are all Calder Rangers.

We have one Light Sussex cross.

We have two older Calder Rangers.

Our older girl is Harriet the Light Sussex, she's approximately six years old now.

There is Jack's sister Jill.

We have one remaining Skyline, our blue egg layer.

We have two of last years 'Welsh Girls'.

We also have Poppy, another Lavender Pekin Bantam and one of our original girls, born way back in 2011.

There is one Large Black Maran left from 'The Gang', and she is feeling very sorry for herself with her sister and best friend gone.

And last but not least, there is Ebony, the Black Pekin Bantam, usually to be found in the nesting boxes ... she not particularly broody, but just likes her own company most of the time.

And that completes this years stocktake -

1 cockerel
3 Pekin Bantams
16 large chickens
(of which 12 are regular layers)

And after munching their way through lots of spinach leaves while I got these photos, the chickens all then trooped back off into the woods to carry on with their chickeny business for the day.

Sue xx

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Do I Still Do the Things

I've been asked a couple of times if I still do any of the things I used to post about on my various Challenge blogs and on here ... well the answer is a resounding YES  :-)

As you can see from the top photo I religiously check after I have shopped at Asda to make full use of their Asda Price Guarantee thingy.  They don't advertise this anymore either in store or on the receipts, but it is still very much in operation.  Nine times out of ten I get a voucher after I check my receipt online.  

We still get our Tesco Clubcard vouchers, and make good use of them to buy things that we can't grow or produce ourselves.  Although we have now cancelled our Tesco credit card and use just one credit card to keep things simpler (of course paying it off in full every month).

We went out to buy Alan some new jeans the other day as he has lost weight and was having real trouble keeping his jeans up, at the checkout we were given this voucher along with our receipt ...

... when we got home our latest quarterly Marks and Spencer's vouchers were laying on the doormat. 

So if I put one with the other and I will be able to get £35 worth of food for just £15.  Yes ... a little happy dance was danced :-)

Oh and although I have stopped buying this magazine on subscription, I just couldn't resist this offer when I was in Tesco the other night after the Trelawnyd Flower Show,  I must have had growing things still on my mind.

But I just couldn't say no to almost £24 worth of free seeds and a free dvd (which isn't brilliant but I did get a good recipe from it for Cucumber Pickle).

Inside the magazine was this, now the question is  ... can I resist the thought of another £36 worth of seeds and three copies of the magazine for just £5 ?  You just have to be very careful to cancel the subscription before they take the next payment out, something they are relying on you not to do.

So as this all shows I am still a sucker for coupons, vouchers and freebies ... but as hobbies go this isn't so bad  :-)

Sue xx