Thursday 31 December 2015

It's Almost Over

Well this is it ... 2015 is almost over.  

I usually do an in-depth review of the year on this blog, but I can't bring myself to do it this year.  It started off so badly losing Charley, the building work that started in March and only finished a couple of weeks ago got me down to such a degree I fell completely and utterly out of love with our house and it's land.  I feel as though I somehow have to rebuild a relationship with it, the polytunnel helps and soon I will be out there planting again and setting in motion our food plans for the coming twelve months.

The house has continued to let us down during the wet weather and we obviously need more work done before we can paint the exterior and finally call a day on the renovations.  Two years of decorating, building, waiting for things to be done and planning complications that are now ongoing again,  as we have found out that the previous owners never got building regulations approval for the work they did to the house, after another inspection, due soon, we are hoping we will get approval for their work .... we already have it for ours.

So as you might have gathered I am feeling almost as gloomy as the photo above which was taken at lunch time.  

Yes, we have sheep back in our field on this wet and gloomy New Years Eve ... it would be wrong not to .... the farmers round here have lost large swathes of their land to the constant rain and flooding, any higher, dryer and lush grass is desperately needed to feed last years lambs and this years pregnant ewes.  

We have 14 of last years lambs grazing the field.  They are a nervous but self contained lot, on their own for the first without mature ewes to show them the ropes in our field, but they belong to a good farmer and he treats his sheep well, and they know to watch, learn and trust.  We are getting them used to the routine of us walking the dogs around the paddock, which we do at least twice a day.

  They are learning that if they stay together and move ahead of us and then position themselves in one of the top corners the dogs will never go within twenty feet of them and they can relax.  Although as usual Suky is desperate to be one of them, she stands staring and copying as if to say 'let me join you I can eat grass too', their look of disdainment at this strange little creature copying their every move is laughably funny.

So there is lightness in our damp, soggy days, funny moments that we grasp at and that hopefully that will lead us into the New Year with a smile on our faces.  We need to enter this New Year with renewed enthusiasm for there is a lot for for us to accomplish in this coming year.  It's time for us to reign in the spending on all but the most important of things and to prepare even more thoroughly for the day when our only income will be what we can grow and produce on our land.

As usual then there are exciting times ahead, and it will be lovely to share these with you as we continue Our New Life in the Country, and we would both like to wish all the very best for this coming year to all our family, friends, fellow bloggers,  followers and readers.

Thank you for being there.

Sue and Lovely Hubby xx

Tuesday 29 December 2015

Shiplap and Snowdrops

The workshop doorway is coming on nicely.

It will have two doors soon, but first the panel at the top is being shiplapped so that it will match the rest of the workshop which will also be covered with wood in Spring.  It will sit nicer on the hillside with a more natural covering.

When Lovely Hubby plans a job he does it properly and between him and Simon everything was cut to size creosoted inside and out and then put into place.  The inside will also be wood with a layer of insulation in the middle.

Drat he spotted me taking photos  ;-)

I was over at the polytunnel a few minutes before taking the photos picking the makings for a pot of soup for the workers and I noticed we have Snowdrops and other bulbs appearing all over the place, it's looking very green.

Sue xx

Monday 28 December 2015

Floods and Festive Fuel

It's been a wild and wet Christmas here on our Welsh hillside, and boy are we glad we live on the hillside and on this side of the road at the moment.

The almost non-stop rain and storms of the last seven weeks meant that when the heavy rains of the Christmas period fell there was nowhere for them to go, the ground was already saturated and as the river swelled with each incoming tide the water levels rose dramatically.

The little dark thing you see in the centre of this picture is actually the top of the gatepost, and within ten minutes of me taking this it had vanished from sight.

Our Christmas Day visitors, Mum and Graham escaped just in time on Boxing Day before the roads were completely closed,  Torrents of water flowed down the hillside and across the road making it too treacherous for all but the highest of vehicles to safely cross.

Lovely Hubby went over to our neighbours to see if there was anything he could do to help, but they had already coped with moving what they could and relocating their chickens to the log shed, just as the henhouse floated off.  There was nothing they could do to stop the water reaching the caravans that they have on site, they were already as high up the field as they could get them with the water lapping at the doors.

I'm loving the better zoom on my newer camera, this shot is taken from exactly the same position as the one below ....

... which shows Lovely Hubby (in the pink hat), chatting to our neighbour Steve.

But for all this water we have escaped lightly when you look at the homes and businesses that have been flooded in other parts of the country, and my thoughts go out to them.

Yesterday morning the sun shone and a light breeze was in the air, it worked wonders, and with a slightly lower tide meaning less pressure on the river the water in the fields started to gradually soak away.  It will take time for things to be back to normal, but for now things are improving and once again we can see some green and the sheep are once again venturing further down the fields.

Here on the old homestead we have our fourth visitor of the festive season, my eldest son Simon, and as usual he is throwing himself lock, stock and paint brush into helping out.  This time he is aiding and abetting Lovely Hubby in putting up the framework ready to hang doors for the workshop.

Work might have stopped briefly for Christmas but it's never long before we're back at it ... but this time we are all fuelled by homemade soup and Quality Street  :-)

A little bit of live action from Boxing Day.

Sue xx

Friday 25 December 2015

From the Festive Fairy ......

We would just like to wish everyone who reads, follows, comments and visits us a very Merry Christmas, and may the next few days be happy and peaceful for you all.

With love from Suky .....

... smiles from Mavis.

A regal pose from Rosy .....

... and there was no stopping Ginger from his dinner  ;-)

We got home from the cinema yesterday afternoon to find a parcel on the doorstep .....

It seems we are now officially self sufficient in electricity.

Not a bad way to end this old year.  :-)

Merry Christmas 
to each and every one of you.

With love from

Sue and Lovely Hubby 
Rosy, Suky, Mavis, Ginger, Jack the Cockerel and his harem of lovely laying ladies.

Thursday 24 December 2015

I Told You There Was A Santa ..... and a Christmas Goat

It's been a busy few days and collapsing at the computer yesterday I spent far too long over a coffee, a mince pie and Facebook, but sometimes you come across the most wonderful things on there.

I have copied this for you to have a read of ... in my opinion it is PERFECTION  :-)

Reverse Advent - Day 25 - Final Day

I bought a goat, .... well to me a virtual goat but to a family overseas that need a goat to change their lives it's a REAL goat.  You've got to love that as for little as £12.50 you can help to turn someones life around.

(All Oxfam Unwrapped gifts are currently half price with Oxfam Partners funding the other half, see the post two days ago for the link directly to the website.  There's still time to buy something and send your recipient an e-card in time for Christmas Day.)

And to the person with the decidedly un-Christmas spirit that doubted my gifts were real and were in fact just images taken from the internet for use on the blog .... my cards that prove I have bought the chickens, the water and the goat arrived yesterday.  Nothing else to say!!

Sue xx

Wednesday 23 December 2015

Naked Trees and Antler Sprouting Pugs

Last years Christmas tree  was planted outside in the front flower bed, and unfortunately didn't do that well.  It's still alive but rather weirdly lopsided and still very tiny.  So we went mad in B&Q and bought this little beauty.  Also in a pot and it will be kept outside all year but still in it's pot this time so we can turn it regularly, and keep it nicely shaped for the next couple of Christmasses to come.

There's something very beautiful about a little Christmas tree in all it's naked glory , well in my opinion anyway  :-)

It looks even prettier though when darkness falls and the mass of fairy lights twinkle in the corner of the room.  Christmas has arrived .....

... but someone isn't that enamoured with her newly sprouted antlers.  

I was trying to get photos of the dogs in their 'Christmas outfits' for a post on Christmas Day.  Suky was not impressed!!  There's only Rosy still to get a photo of, but getting her to keep her hat on is hard work.  She's figured out if she shakes her head from side to side she can catch the pompom and pull the thing off her head.

I will persevere.

Reverse Advent - Day 23

Clean Water for ten people.  Also from Oxfam Unwrapped (see yesterdays post for more information and for a link to the website, where you can buy more similar gifts).  The final day of my Reverse Advent is tomorrow, it's been a lovely challenge to find a mix of things to leave our house and to benefit others.

Sue xx

Tuesday 22 December 2015

Pussycat Wigwams ...... and Chickens

As snug as a bug in a rug .... or a cat in a wigwam!!

Ginger gets on great with all the dogs, as you have seen in so many of the photos I put on here, but every now and then a cat has to be alone and this is where the freezer is a godsend.  None of the dogs, not even little bouncy Charley when we had her, can get on here.  So when it's time for Ginger to have some 'me time' he jumps up on the freezer and cuddles on down in his pussy cat wigwam.

His food dishes as you can see are also up here which means he has access to dry food at all times and is able to eat his tunafish breakfast in peace with no dogs clamouring to lick the bowl clean for him.

I don't usually disturb him at all when he's in the wigwam, and as you can see from the photos just getting up close with the camera meant he dug his claws in as if to say 'leave me alone' ... so I did and he was soon back to pussycat snoring  :-)

Reverse Advent - Day 22

For today's gift I clicked on Oxfam Unwrapped and ordered two chickens to be sent to a family that will make good use of them.  They come with a lesson on how to raise, look after and make the best possible use of them to both feed their family and potentially make them a bit of money.

There's a sale on the website at the moment, lots of these gifts that make a difference are half price, with the other half being paid for by Oxfam Partners.  If you have yet to buy a present for someone and you have no idea what to get them this would be a lovely idea.  You can order an E.card to be sent to the recipient so they will know all about their unusual but worthwhile Christmas present and that it was bought by you.

Visit here - Oxfam Unwrapped

Sue xx

Monday 21 December 2015

Looking Out

It decidedly un-Christmassy looking across the road.  The drizzle is drizzling with occasional burst into heavy downpours.  The field opposite fill up with water then it drains slowly away only to fill up immediately when there is more than an hours rain, the ground is just too sodden to drain away the rain as it falls.

Closer to home we have the fairy lights and tinsel round the posts that hold up the porch roof.  It looks a bit sparse during the day but at night with the lights twinkling it is Christmassy enough for me to smile everytime I see it.

Last years wreath that I was going to refresh with homegrown holly and ivy sadly bit the dust and disintegrated.  I didn't really want to pay much for a fresh one, but I was going to bite the bullet and get one that I could look after better and refresh next year.  Then ... I struck lucky!!

I was in M&S in Llandudno and went upstairs to use the toilets, and what should I spy on the reduced to clear Christmas decoration shelf ..... a wreath for £7.50.  It didn't have much colour but by the time I had brought it home added a couple of red baubles and the ribbon salvaged from last years wreath it was festive enough to adorn the front door.

I'm happy and it will be in use for many years to come with more tinkering to change it's appearance slightly each year.

Mars & Friends Medium Selection Box (181g)

Reverse Advent - Day 21

Five selection boxes that I put in the Foodbank trolley in Sainsbugs.

When I was little I loved to get a selection box from Santa.  We didn't have many big bars of chocolate regularly like children do these days.  You had to wait to get your pocket money at the end of the week to treat yourself, these days children seem to expect the chocolate will be part of the shopping!!  But every Christmas we would get a selection box, and I loved it.

I hope these will make a child smile this Christmas.

Sue xx

Sunday 20 December 2015

Reverse Advent - Day 20

I buy The Big Issue nearly every week.  

My local seller in Llandudno, Chris, has a pitch outside Marks and Spencer and he's there in all weathers.  Not always first thing in the morning but he makes an appearance as soon as he can.  Somedays he doesn't have the money to buy many issues up front so he vanishes over and over again to  buy some more and then dashes back to his spot by the traffic lights hoping he hasn't missed the few regular customers that he has.

Because YES, the Big Issue vendors BUY the copies of the magazine that they sell.  There is a popular misconception that they get these magazines for free and can spend the money they make willy nilly.  Not true and I wanted to put this out on the blog today for everyone to see and to take note of as I am getting annoyed in my own small quiet way at this injustice.  As it states clearly in the magazine each week The Big Issue is 'a hand up not a hand out'.  

The official vendors wear recognisable tabards/waistcoats with their identification for all to see on their breast pocket.  They buy the magazine for half of it's cover price which is usually £2.50.  At this time of year the issues are bigger with much more inside, news stories, interviews and puzzles and  it costs £3.  Which means that the vendors buy each copy that they sell for £1.50 and sell it at a £1.50 profit.  This is self employment at it's most basic level and through the Big Issue Foundation they are taught to manage their earnings, make it work for them in the best possible way and hopefully it will get them on a pathway to a accommodation, employment, socialisation and confidence.

I'm not demanding that you all dash out and buy a copy for yourself ... although of course I would love it if you did, but through this post I would like to ask for more understanding of what the sellers are going through.  

They each have their own back story, their own reasons for what put them in the position of being on the streets selling this magazine and those are not for us to query, question or scoff at.  If you don't want to buy a copy for whatever reason  they are usually polite and offer a cheery 'have a nice day', 'good morning/afternoon'  or at this time of year 'Happy Christmas' or 'All the Best', please respond similarly.  

It takes nothing out of our day to smile and say 'no thank you' and go on our way if we don't want or need another copy of the magazine.  All too often I have seen passers by completely ignore Chris, look at him as an inconvenience, someone just getting in their way as they rush through their day.  His crestfallen look after this happens time and time again is hard to watch.

I bought my regular copy off him a couple of weeks ago late in the morning, he had been at his pitch for a couple of hours and the look on his face as I approached made my day, my day was made even more when on telling me I was his first customer of the day he moved forward to hug me, not knowing what reaction he would get I could sense a readiness to withdraw but we hugged, he smiled, the most glorious smile and as we parted a quiet 'thank you' escaped his lips.

Since that day we have hugged a few times ..... it's not much to ask is it, £1.50 profit and a little bit of human contact.

This week Chris was not in his usual place on Wednesday when I went into Llandudno, but across the road was the new guy that has inched slightly too close onto Chris's pitch.  He's a jolly faced foreign gentleman with limited but well spoken English and I bought a copy off him.  He wished me all the best and I took my copy into Waterstones and read it over a cup of coffee, thinking all the while it was a shame Chris wasn't there.  I needed to pop back to Llandudno on the Thursday so I went prepared.

Reverse Advent - Day 20

A Christmas Card for my favourite Big Issue seller with a Christmas bonus,  to do with as he wants.

I gave him a smile, apologised for missing him the previous day and admitted to buying this weeks copy off his competition ... he gave me a hug and said  ..... thank you.

Sue xx

Saturday 19 December 2015

Sucked In .....

I was sucked into the Christmas mass spending bonanza that was happening in Asda, trolleys piled high with all sorts of junk food whizzed past me, kids were screaming (or was that the Mums) Dads loitering in the electrical departments etc etc  .... I bought a box of cornflakes just because they had a picture of Santa on them that looked vaguely like my Lovely Hubby !!

  We don't usually eat them unless we are on holiday, then the occasional half bowl while we are waiting for the cooked breakfast to arrive is a treat.  Well we will be on holiday so I guess they won't go to waste, and as a mad Christmas purchase they aren't that bad ... are they? 

I'm sure someone will think so!!

Image result for begonia plant in a plant pot

Reverse Advent - Day 19

A Begonia plant that I bought for 50p from the Prestatyn Flower Show in the Summer to support a charity stall.  It was a tiny little thing that I nurtured to be a strapping thing in the last couple of months.  But it was time consuming and to tell the truth I didn't like it much.  I forgot to photograph it before it left so I raided Google Images for this picture which looks remarkably like it .... I wonder if it had been modelling when I wasn't looking.  ;-)

I hope it goes to a home where it will be loved a bit more, I do like the thought that this little plant will have supported two charities during it's lifetime, a heart one and a cancer one :-)

Sue xx

Friday 18 December 2015

Bless You !!

These two are spending so much time cuddling up together these days.  I keep grabbing the camera to get a shot of them, it's lovely to see.

A complete fluke ... I've never been able to capture a pussy cat sneeze before!!

Back to normal, and if I didn't have it on the camera I would never have been able to prove it ....
and I love Mavis's slightly surprised look  :-)

Reverse Advent - Day 18

A book I've just re-read.  It's really good but I doubt I'll need to read it a third time.  
I'm being ruthless.

Sue xx

Thursday 17 December 2015

The Contents of the Hamper

 Lots of you asked to see the contents of our lovely Fortnum and Mason hamper so as we unpacked it yesterday I thought I would take a photo for you ... a certain little lady decided she would be in the shot too.  

I don't think it was fame she was after, more likely the box of chocolate covered mints that are perched on the Christmas pudding box.  What ever they put in them seem to make them extremely appealing to dogs .... last year Charley pinched and ate the lot, including most of the box!!

Edited In - Please be aware that chocolate in all it's forms is VERY poisonous to dogs,  We were very lucky Charley had a cast iron constitution and survived her impromptu stolen feast,  (we did keep a close eye on her after ... watching for any ill effects), I've read about other dogs that have not been so lucky.  

If you want your dogs to have chocolate treats, especially at this time of year, buy them special doggy ones which have safe ingredients and are very cheap.  You can always do what we do and put a few of them in a dish in the corner of your Malteser box .... then the dogs just think they are getting the same as you.

A close up of the contents.

Tin of biscuits
Red wine
White wine
Cognac Butter
 Christmas Spiced Tea
Glitter Shortbread
Thick Cut Orange Marmalade
Rich Preserve Blackcurrant Jam
Icy Chocolate Covered Mints
Christmas Pudding
Champagne Truffles
Cognac and Cranberry Fruit Cake

We might have accidentally eaten the Champagne Truffles last night .... as we were putting everything else away in the cupboards  ;-)

*** *** ***

Reverse Advent - Day 17

A tin of F&M Christmas Spiced Tea.  We won't use this and it's far better it goes to someone who can make good use of it while it is fresh.

Sue xx

Wednesday 16 December 2015

Questions,Questions, Questions

Image result for questions

These questions are tripping their way around blogland at the moment so I thought I'd join in  :-)

1)  Do you like blue cheese?
Only in soups or quiches ... on it's own it's just yuk!!

2)  Have you ever smoked?
Yes, from being pretty young until I was 27 and pregnant ... doing it for my baby made it easy to give up.
3)  Do you own a gun?  
Lovely Hubby owns a high powered air rifle and I'm a crack shot with it ... you tell me what to hit and I'll hit it :-)

4)  What flavor of Kool Aid is your favorite?
I have never tried this .... I don't think I want to!!

5)  Do you get nervous before dental appointments?
Not as much as I used to :-)

6)  What do you think of hot dogs?
As furry bodies snoring in front of the fire they are lovely and I wouldn't be without any of them ... as an edible foodstuff, very questionable!!

7)  What's your favorite Christmas movie?
Scrooge, in all it's formats ... EXCEPT the Muppet version.

8)  What do you prefer to drink in the morning?

9)  Can you do push-ups?
Yes, how many would you like ...... please don't ask for more than 10 :-)

10)  What's your favorite piece of jewelry?
My four rings, wedding, engagement, little silver one and inherited gold one from my friend.  They never leave my fingers.


11)  What's your favorite hobby?
Reading ..... books. magazines, brochures ... if it's written I will read it.

12)  Do you have A.D.D.?
Only if you are droning on and on and on ......  I'm quick on the uptake, I need to be told things once clearly and concisely and I will never forget, if you go on and on and on I zone out completely.

13)  Do you wear glasses or contacts?
I had my eyes lasered years ago, so only for close work now.    

14)  What's your middle name?
I don't have one.

15)  What are your thoughts at this moment?
I'm wondering why I am actually answering these questions!    

16)  Name 3 drinks you regularly consume.
Coffee, water and white wine .... hic ;-)

17)  What is a current worry of yours?
The amount of racism that is becoming evident in this country due to recent events.      

18)  What do you currently hate?

19)  Where is your favorite place to be?
Six Arches Caravan Site in Scorton. 

20)  What do you plan on doing on New Year's Eve this year?
Watching films on television at home with wine and nibbles, and then bed just after midnight.  In my opinion the best way to celebrate the end of an old year and wake refreshed to a lovely new one.

21)  To where would you like to travel?
Right round the UK coastline and then zig zag through the centre.     

22)  Name three people you think will do this questionnaire on their
I have no idea, lots of blogging buddies have done this already.  If you haven't and fancy doing it let me know ... I would love to read YOUR answers.     

23)  Do you own slippers?
Yes, we always wear either slippers or Crocs indoors depending on how cold our feet are.

24)  What color shirt are you wearing?
Blue, red and cream check .... I love shirts, I live in shirts and jeans :-)  

25)  Do you like sleeping on satin sheets?
I've never tried .... although I once slept on nylon sheets.  
gather electricity easily and  I have fine hair and .... it was very long at the time, by morning the amount of static I had generated was amazing .... I had a pale brown afro that was almost a foot high!!    

26)  Can you whistle?
Yes, except when I need to ... then I dry up ... it's frustrating at times    

27)  What is your favorite color?
Green, green and green, did I mention I love green.  The colour of nature, of life and of calmness.  I love it.

28)  What songs do you sing in the shower?
I'm not in there long enough to even think of a song, and anyway I try not to sing out loud ... I have a dreadful singing voice :-(

29)  Would you be a pirate?
  Yes, if I could wear an eye patch and say 'arr Jim lad' regularly  ;-)

30)  What's in your pocket right now?
A poo bag (empty) and a bit of fluff ... where does all the fluff come from?

Image result for questions

31)  What's the last thing that made you laugh?
I laugh frequently ..... it's usually the dogs antics.  Laughter in your day is what makes life worth living.  If there's nothing funny happening look in the mirror and pull faces ... it makes me smile anyway ;-)

32)  What vehicle do you drive?
A white Fiat 500, which is great and very economical for day to day outings with me and the dogs ... think doggy mobile and you've got it about right, back seat for them and front seat kept clean for me.  If we need anything more than two bags of Layers Pellets  I wait until Lovely Hubby is around and use his vehicle which is a Mitsubishi L200  

33)  What's the worst injury you've ever had?
I cut my ankle falling over on some rocks, you could see the bone ... YUK!!

34)  Do you love where you live?
No ... I like it, but I don't love it.

35)  Would you change your first name if you could?
No, I love being called Sue.  
BUT I HATE being called Susan so I guess in a way I have already changed it.  I find it very upsetting if someone calls me Susan after being corrected more than once.

Well then that's those questions answered ... do you fancy having a go?   :-)

*** *** ***

Reverse Advent - Day 16

A jar I got from a car boot sale.

Sue xx