Thursday 31 May 2012

Plans and Giveaways

I did a plan of my Veggie Patch, simply A4 and pencil scribble ......

...... Lovely Hubby took it away to work with him one day and made it all posh.  Now it's A3 and proper printed.

So now I have a posh plan of my Veggie Patch, the only thing is he didn't ask me which way up it was supposed to be, so I have an upside down posh plan of my Veggie Patch, luckily he gave me some blanks too, so I have written on them the right way up and now I can make sense of the whole thing.  It's also way too big, so I have to do a little pencilly scribbly one each day to take out with me.

He's very good to me ...... in his own way!!

So I thought I would be very good to you. 

You have by now probably noticed that I am currently dieting (well healthy eating) the Harcombe way and I treated myself to the new set of Harcombe books, which leaves me with a spare copy of my original book.  I'm offering it as a Giveaway over on my other Blog - nip over and leave a comment if you would be interested in a chance of winning it, the draw will be on Saturday morning. You can be a Follower of either blog to enter, however, the comments should be left over there on the Giveaway post.

Sue xx

Wednesday 30 May 2012

What I Be Up To !

Although I was working in the Veggie Patch for quite a while yesterday I forgot completely to take my camera over with me, so I have no pictures for you yet, instead here are a couple of photos showing what we bought on Saturday when we went to the Berkshire Country Fayre.

We really splashed out and treated ourselves to a gorgeous Burr Oak Cheese/Bread board, lovingly hand made by a local chap.  Chatting to him about his wares was wonderful, you could feel the love of the wood shining through in every word, you just need objects made with so much love and care in your home don't you...well we did.  He wrapped it lovingly in new bubblewrap and slid it ever so gently into a brand new glossy red carrier bag and then gave us explicit instructions on how to care for it, it was as if he were handing over a new born kitten.  Simply wonderful.

And at the other extreme I picked up for a couple of pounds this sweet little jug and bowl from a little 'pop up' antiques stall, quickly wrapped in manky old newpaper and stuffed into a dirty carrier bag before I even had time to say I would use the bag I already had.  It's destined to be filled with many strawberries and much cream as soon as my little plants give up their fruit.  It's there the fruit, on each plant the delightful clusters of tiny strawberries, we just need a couple more weeks of sunshine and a bit of rain to bring on the true taste of an English Summer.

Back off to the Veggie Patch now, and today I be mainly planting Courgettes (said with a nice Devon accent or as close as I come to doing one).  And I'll take the camera - promise!!

Sue xx

Tuesday 29 May 2012

I'm over on the other Blog today!!

Sooooo true!!

No Blog post here today, I've just done a long one over at The How Low Can You Go Food Diary about our Harcombe Diet Phase 1 results and now it's time to go and plant my carrots outside before it gets too hot....sorry.

Find the Blog post HERE.

.... to those of you who have been encouraging us and following our progress, and now it's onwards and upwards into Phase 2.

Sue xx

Monday 28 May 2012

Hot in the House

Yes it's hot in the house, the greenhouse that is.  I've painted out the windows to dilute the heat of the sun and give my seedlings a fighting chance.

It makes it look messy, but I don't mind, nor do the occupants.

The tomato plants due to be potted into their grow-pots this week...

... the Courgettes, strong and healthy (my favourite plant, so sturdy and strong)...

...the little Cape Gooseberry plants.  We discovered how much we love these last year.  They start off so tiny and yet yield such wonderful fruit.

The Carrots, ready for transplanting to the raised beds this week.

My compost, made in it's entirety by my Lovely Hubby and that's why......

You get such lovely foods to eat, all for a lot of effort and a bit of love.

Sue xx

Sunday 27 May 2012

Time Off

This morning we're having the morning off.  There's a local Show of some kind we don't know what it is, we just saw it advertised by the side of the road.  We're guessing some kind of village fete type thing but on a larger scale. We like to support local things, so if we want to know what it's like we have to go, so we are!!

When we get back I may do a bit of the above but if the sun continues to shine, I may just sit on the patio under the parasol and have the afternoon off as well.

The beauty of being your own boss is taking time off to smell the roses.....or drink the ice cold sparkling water whilst reading a good book on a hot day.

Have a good day everyone....what are you up too?

It turned out to be The Berkshire Country Fayre, lots of big marquees with competitions for the Young Farmers, Wellie Wanging, Hawk Flying, a good sized fairground, Helicopter Flights for the brave, and lots and lots of food, in the tents, in vans, food everywhere, but we resisted temptation, luckily we had set off straight after our lovely big cooked breakfast, so it wasn't too difficult.  We were drooling at the icecreams that kept being wafted past us by everyone, so we caved, nope not a big icecream with a chocolate flake that would have broke our Phase 1 of the diet, we settled for an orange ice lolly each, and felt very refreshed and virtuous after eating it.  A good couple of hours, in good company and lovely sunshine.

Sue xx

Friday 25 May 2012

Nature claims back.....

Nature claims back what was her own ... and it doesn't take her long to do it.

We went back to Jointers Farm today towing our large trailer, to pick up the last load of our homemade compost, what we found when we got there was proof of the statement above.  The gravel car parking area at the front was more weed than gravel.

Our always mown grass at the side of the house, came over the top of my wellies.

The Paddock where the pigs used to roam and play.....

... was overgrown and abandoned.

The Kitchen Garden that kept us fed for most of the three years we were there ....

....was a desolate place, with weeds forcing up the poythene, recycled from the polytunnel that we had left to warm the soil, hoping that a new tenant would continue our good work.

In the Orchard, where the adolescent piglets played chase around the strawbales ...

... only weeds swaying in the breeze broke the silence.  I wanted to go in to photograph the old pig pens, but the nettles were to high and my path completely blocked.

Chicken World always so alive with the sound of the girls (and their men) going about their daily business... now thigh high with grass, tall weeds surround the old apple tree and the raised beds that should be at the front of this shot are completely hidden from view and full of weeds.

Nature is truly wonderful at claiming back her own ....

... and as we drove for the final time down the 2 mile long track to reach the village, we knew that we were going back to our new home.  Where we are claiming tenancy and nature will be kept in check

..... just for a little while!

Sue xx

Thursday 24 May 2012

I Played a Joker - and got carried away !!

Well I played my Joker and got carried away......I ventured into the darkest deepest depths of T*sco, and went a bit wild.  Nothing that we won't use during this fist week of the diet though, so it's not that bad really.  No sugary snacks or processed foods just lots of vegetables, salad stuff and brown pastas and rices ready for when our five day Phase 1 of the diet is over.

There were a couple of good  offers on, our usual brand butter 2 for £5, my favourite brand of Olive Oil less than half price so I stocked up on those.  I got some more decaf coffee and tea, it's all we're supposed to drink on this diet, although you can ease back to caffeinated after the first 5 days if you find you don't have an addiction to it.

The fridge is looking healthy, lots of Natural Live Yogurts too and bottles of Sparkling water, we have been drinking tap water recently but we decided as there is no alcohol for at least five days we would have some sparkling water in the evenings and maybe even slip a slice of lemon and some ice in too.....oooh we are living wild!!

I cut Alan's hair and beard last night and this morning went for my regular five weekly appointment to get my hair cut, it was all a total coincidence but it feels like new us all around.

Our books are sitting on the kitchen table ready to be dipped into whenever we feel like inspsiration or to remind ourselves what we can or can't eat and the menu is planned for the full five days, I will be posting this and any remarks about the diet each day over at my other Blog (How Low Can You Go).

If you would like your own copy of any of these books they are available at Amazon or many local independent book shops.  See the link in my sidebar.

It's another gloriously sunny day here in Berkshire so after planting a few more radishes out into the raised beds I may just settle down with a magazine or two for a quiet afternoons reading.  I think I've earned a good sit down.

Sue xx

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Gearing up for the Diet

Today we're gearing up for the slight change in diet, lots of totally inappropriate food has been thrown out (don't panic most of it is out of date and not useful to anyone else).  We are determined to step off the processed food conveyor belt.  Now that most of the initial planting is done I will have the time to cook from scratch all the time.  No more convenience meals, well not bought ones anyway, we have lots of our own, Soups, Mediterranean Veg selections and things along those lines  safely tucked away in the freezer ready for those days when you just can't be bothered.  And admit it we all have those!

The chickens enjoyed the sun yesterday, luckily it looks as though they are going to be getting another day of it. They use the houses for shade when it's hot, and the only thing they are missing is a good dust bathing area, although they have made themselves a little one in the old Eglu run.  I must do something about this today.  The new girls are very at home now and although still timid around me, the logistics of the flock has been sorted out and they are all happy together.

I am going to play a Joker today as Lovely Hubby has managed to eat his way through most of the meats that we had in the freezer and as much as I would love to support the local butcher, he is expensive for bulk buys and after weighing up the pros and cons I  decided yesterday that I really should, mostly for the sake of my purse, darken the doors of the local Supermarket.  As if to persuade me even further .......

.....  Mr T*sco sent me some more vouchers to add to the ones already lurking in my purse.  In total I have £18.50, should buy me a lot of dead animal flesh  sorry I mean meat!! So Mr T*sco is paying for most of my shopping then.

The diet kicks off tomorrow and I'll be plotting our menus and recording our daily thoughts etc over on my other Blog, nip over and have a peek from time to time if you're interested.  I simply want to keep menus etc seperately so will continue in my own inimitable fashion to record our normal day to day activities here. No doubt the two will overlap occasionally but you are a very forgiving little band of readers that I suspect are getting used to my wild and wacky ramblings.

And for that I THANK YOU.

Sue xx

Tuesday 22 May 2012

We're about to start a diet........

 We're about to start a diet.....a fast food diet.....eating just Real Food. 

Why should it be called that, REAL FOOD surely it's just FOOD.  It's the other stuff, the things that you buy processed, double and triple wrapped, handled by lots of other people stood along conveyor belts wearing white coats and hair nets, and the stuff that is chopped, shaped and spat out by machines that should have a name.....what would you call it?

We're starting the Harcombe Diet on Thursday, it's not a fad diet, it's not a milk shake in a glass kind of diet, we don't have to count calories, or carbs or points.  We just have to eat food ........ when we're hungry.  So much sense.

The best thing about it is that we get to eat real food, and by happy coincidence I grow real food.  Well there you are then, my kind of diet!!

*** *** ***

I just couldn't resist.....

Sue xx

Monday 21 May 2012

The Unveiling of a Tribute

Thanks for all the lovely comments on the Blog while I've been away, it's been nice to sit and read them now I'm back.

While I was in Manchester, my younger son, Jason came to see us (he lives in Preston), to reveal his tribute to his Grandad. 

After a bit of research he had found his Grandad's name Sydney, originated from Saint Denis, a martyred saint that was beheaded during the persecution of Christians and yet marched on with his head under his arm preaching for another 6 miles.

One of the original statues of St Denis (pronounced Di-nee).

After asking around he managed to find a highly recommended tattooist who could put his ideas into action and translate the image from the photo of the statue onto his arm.  He has always wanted a tattoo (possibly since I had mine done)  but did not want something just run of the mill, he wanted something really unique.  After careful consideration he went ahead with his plan, and, spread over two weeks this brilliant artwork took shape.

It's not quite fully healed yet but you can see already how well the tattooist has captured the image.  A wonderful tribute to his Grandad and a very original tattoo.

Sue xx

Sunday 20 May 2012

Opposite the Back Door

Opposite the back door and just to the left of the herb sinks.

The gorgeous Rhododendron bush, a gentle shade of peachy pink.

The view from the other side of the herb sinks. The Wendy House in the Tree is just to the left of the swings, now gloriously hidden from view with fresh green foliage on all the trees.

The herbs sinks in the middle, with the Clematis laden walkway to the woodland beyond.

Back tomorrow.  Hope your weekend is going well.

Sue xx

Saturday 19 May 2012

Herbs in Sinks

Herbs in the sinks.......

.......tasty and close to the back door, so we can pick them when we're cooking.  Fresh and alive and full of flavour.

My favourite - well that has to be Rosemary, I love it even more than Lavender (which is also a herb) and that's praise indeed coming from the 'Lavender Lady' as I was known at the Farmers Market!!

Sue xx.

Friday 18 May 2012

Why I Grow What We Eat

Some lovely comments yesterday - thank you.

I also had an email off someone who wasn't able to leave a comment,  Anne asked why do we grow our own when the veggies in the supermarkets are SO cheap.

It set me thinking, the reasons to me are obvious and clear, maybe not to some of you, but I do think most of you understand.  Lots of you grow your own and some of you who can't would love to do so.

My reasons are simple :

1.  Things taste better.

2.  I know exactly where they have come from and how they have been treated.
I grow organically, this would cost me more in the supermarkets than the bag of carrots for £1 (although I do know you can get offers from time to time).

3.  I proved last week (during the Live Below the Line Challenge) that you can eat for pennies and fractions of pennies, when you grow your own in a closed system.  (That is, providing your own compost, rainwater and plant food, and also saving your own seeds for next year.)

4.  I am lucky enough to have the space to do so and I enjoy doing it.

5.  This.

The wonder of nature.

When you take a seed, a little dried seed, hard, tiny, sometimes a mere dot in the palm of your hand, and then put it into the earth you start a process, a process of wonder and to me, amazement.  A little miracle that happens seed after seed, row after row, bed after bed, and day after day, .  You turn that little dried entity into a plant, a bush, a tree, something full of life that is capable of sustaining life.  Your life.

This connection with the soil and the plants is the reason I do this.  I only realised this recently, it opened my eyes.

So I grow.......

... day after day, seed after seed.

With a little guardian at my greenhouse door.....


...after trayful of little miracles.

And that's why I grow what we eat.

*** *** ***

I'm off to Manchester again to spend sometime with my lovely Mum who will really understand this post.  I will leave you each day with a little picture.  A picture of home and of the life that is springing up all around us here.

Have a nice weekend everyone, I'll be back on Monday.

Sue xx