Monday 29 August 2016

Bank Holiday Chicken World Improvements

Chicken World is looking pretty picture perfect at the moment, and when I nip out and take another photo later on today will be looking even neater, because the stones for the pathway have just arrived.

The house has been cleaned out, sprayed and Diatom'd to make sure there are no bugs to annoy the chickens, and it has been filled with fresh bedding ready for their return, with an extra thick layer in the nesting boxes for their egg laying comfort.  The roof was re-creosoted a couple of weeks ago to keep out the rain and preserve the wood, and underneath the house the dust bathing area has been filled with freshly sifted soil ready for them to use to keep their feathers clean.

It's a shame we have to put the chickens back in there, they'll just make it look .... well like Chicken World again  ;-)

Sue xx

Saturday 27 August 2016

Car Booting the Excess

This was our stall about two thirds of the way into the car boot sale today, I was too busy from the minute we drew up to take one before that.   The customers had gone down for a brief spell before a new influx of buyers thronged onto the field.  It was a good day, very hot with no sign of rain and we managed to sell off lots of our surplus 'clutter' and lots that Mum had been sorting out of hers over the last few months.

We started with lots of things in boxes for people to rummage through, as well as the two tables and the clothes rail.  My laundry basket was full of clothes as well as a couple of boxes but by the time this photo was taken we had at last managed to get down to just the rail and a couple of items in the basket, and the table was holding all the remaining books and Dvds displayed flat instead of on end in the boxes.

I've been asked a few times for my tips on selling at car boot sales, so here they are again:

Make sure all your things are clean and working.

Put clear price stickers on things.  
Some people will walk past and be too shy to ask for the price if you don't and you might lose sales.

Be friendly and if people want to haggle allow a little bit of wiggle room in your prices.  For instance if you want to sell something for £5 price it at six, so that when someone asks you if you will sell it at the lower price you can quite happily say yes.

Have a 10p box for bits and pieces, and add to it over the course of the car boot sale as you discover things that you would be happy to let go for this nominal fee.

Make sure all your clothes are clean, hung on hangers facing the same way, and labelled with the size and price ... and if you have the time colour block them.  Hanging similarly coloured clothes together makes them all look neater and more professional.

At the end of the day let people have bargains, if you want to take your things back home you can ... but remember you came out with the idea of selling them and giving yourself space at home, let things go.  We usually take the few more valuable things off the table and then tell everyone that all the clothes on the rail are down to £1 and everything left on the tables is 20p.

This way other more regular car booters will come and buy off you so they have new stock for their next car boot sale.

At the end of the day we came home with £230.19 ... and just one box of good clothes and one box of books and mixed items as a starter for our next sale.

Now it's time to do a bit more sorting out  :-)

Hope your Bank Holiday weekend is going well.

Oh ... and I priced the fireguards at £3 and sold all six of them to one person for £16 ... no doubt they will be being sold on for a higher price somewhere else  :-)

Sue xx

Thursday 25 August 2016

Lovely Peas .....

For the first year in ages our pea plants are doing really well and we are getting to eat lots of their lovely green peas, both snacking while we're working outside and bringing a few in to add to various meals.  We will never have a panful the way we have when we cook with frozen peas (which we still have lurking in the freezer) but they are enough to add their lovely freshness to so many dishes, things like fishcakes and salads.

However, the same can't be said for the Butternut Squashes  ;-)

Sue xx

Tuesday 23 August 2016

Bargains ... But Not for Us to Use

I've just realised that I have yet to get around to showing you what I bought from the garden centre when I called in there last week with Mum.  

We had our lunch somewhere else but decided on the spur of the moment to drive to our usual lunch venue Wyevale in Altrincham, as Mum had heard there were final reductions in the end of season sale there.

And as soon as we walked in I spotted these fireguards, reduced from £14.99 to just £1 each.  Brilliant I thought if I buy three of these and sell them at the car boot sale for £3 each that will cover our entrance fee and the fuel we need to get there and so make it a completely cost neutral day ... and still give any purchaser a really good bargain for the coming Winter.

As I picked three up an assistant who was restocking the area must have overheard our conversation and shouted over to us 'there are some more of them if you want more', I said no thanks that I was more than happy with three and I went to pay for them and put them in the car while Mum ordered the coffees.

When I got to the checkout the assistant rang them through the till and then knocked an additional 70% off as that is what they were doing with ALL the sale goods.

So I got the fire guards for just 30p each!!

Needless to say, I went back and got three more after we had finished our coffee  :-)

So now we have six fireguards with a usual selling price total of £89.94, that cost me just £1.80 and that we will hopefully be able to sell for a total of £18.  So that will be our costs for the day covered and a little bit of spending money too.  Result!!

Sue xx

Monday 22 August 2016

Three Years Ago Today .....

One thing I love about Facebook, apart from being able to keep in touch with family and friends from all over the country, is the little box that pops up each day with your 'Memories' for that day for each year that you have posted on Facebook.

One of today's was the photograph above and a link to THIS post. 

Wow .. how far we have come in three years!!  

In that post I talk of carrying on with the savings and over paying on the mortgage.  For the first two years that we were here we were allowed, under the terms of our mortgage, to pay off an additional 10% as an overpayment once a year.  We did just that, and then this time last year we left that restriction behind and although our interest level went up a smidge due to being out of the special offer period,  we could then start paying off as much extra as we like and can now pay off the whole amount whenever we want to.

We have been paying a double payment each month since last September and we are now on track for paying our mortgage off sometime in the first half of next year.  It's been a big ask, but we have stuck to our guns and challenged ourselves over and over and this has helped us stay on the straight and narrow with regards to spending.

Yes we do buy things when we need them, but that's just it .... it's when we need something not just because we want something.  I can now go round shops and admire what I see but not have the slightest inclination to buy anything.  It's nice getting home and having nothing to put away.

It's not been a hairshirt couple of years either, we do still have the occasional cup of coffee when we are out and about, we've been out for a couple of meals and even had holidays, well long weekends away here in other parts of Wales, but all that has been budgeted for and  been designed to be at the times when things might have been getting too much for us.

After all it's no good reaching the finishing line demoralised and totally knackered is it.  It's been a good three years, and thank you to all of you who have been along for the ride, and there's even more still to come  :-)

Sue xx

All the photos in today's post were taken when we viewed this house for the first time in June 2013.

Sunday 21 August 2016

A Successful Day at a Very Wet Show

I'm happy, happy, happy ..... we had a really successful day at the Llanrwst Show yesterday.

As you can see from the photo I came away with five firsts, three seconds and a third, they gave out two thirds in the Two Fruit Marmalade section as there were such a lot of good entries, so I was extremely pleased to be one of the winners.

My cucumber got a second place.

As did my rhubarb.

My pot of 'Six Cut Herbs' got a first.

And my pathetic unripened green truss of tomatoes got a second.  None of my tomatoes are red yet, well except for the little Tumbling Toms and they don't have trusses as such.

My '2 bunches of Celery' got a First. 

The one on the right which was pretty damn perfect and came about as a unusual result of my celery experimentation, which I'll tell you about another day, was obviously the one that swung it ... well that and me being the only entry in that section!!

My 'Lettuce and 2 other Salad Ingredients also got a First.

Ta da .... as did my Damson Gin  :-)

The third placed Marmalade.
That's two wins in almost as many weeks for my marmalade ... I must be doing something right.

Our eggs got a second place in a category that had lots of entries.

A big thank you should go out to our newest girls the Calder Rangers who lay such consistently good and very matching eggs.  And I had the inspiration to line our little plate with some hay, everyone else had used wood chippings, it made our eggs look even better being in their own little nest :-)

So we had a very good day at a very wet show, as unfortunately the weather gods did not smile favourably on the show at all yesterday, it had rained very hard all night long the night before, and this and the high winds continued throughout the whole day.  It meant that lots of the outdoor classes were cancelled, exhibitors either didn't show up or took their animals straight back home.  The fairground couldn't run and the only tent other than the poultry and horticulture tents that saw any real crowds was the beer tent.  I should imagine the show has lost an awful lot of money this year and to rub their faces in it even more today the sun is shining and the weather has improved in every way.

Still there was a good atmosphere in the 'Horticulture and Homecraft' tent and I really enjoyed entering again, ... and of course it means we have lots of already harvested and washed food to eat over the next couple of days.

Sue xx

Saturday 20 August 2016

Polished and Ready to Go

Well here it is all polished and ready to go back.

This is the cup I won last year for getting the most points in the Horticulture Section of the Llanrwst Show.  It's lived on the shelves in the conservatory since then with the occasional flick of a duster and wipe with a damp cloth.  So it was time to get it off the shelf and give it a bit of tender loving care.

I polished it up using the easy, peasy cheaty method of hot water, Bicarbonate of Soda (Baking Soda), tin foil and a deep bowl, and as you can see it's come up a treat.  Some parts of it are very brassy coloured, where the silver plating has rubbed off mostly the top where it has had years and years of polishing, hence my not wanting to rub it with anything at all.  Although what looks like a huge brass patch on the front is merely the reflection in the now highly shiny silver of our wooden worktop!!

Here's a little Link to show you simply how to do it.  I used a washing up bowl half full of water straight off the boil from the electric kettle.  The part of your silver that is touching the foil cleans up really quickly so make sure you turn your pieces over until they are shiny on all sides and then dry with a soft cloth.  I've cleaned silver and silver plate this way for years, it saves the excessive rubbing, and subsequent loss of silver though regular cleaning with polish and elbow grease and it works every time.

I doubt this will be coming home with me this year as I am entering a lot less classes this time, but I have my fingers firmly crossed for a First and maybe a couple of Seconds :-)

Sue xx

Friday 19 August 2016

Super Cool Pigs

Lovely Hubby just couldn't resist buying these two pairs of joke sunglasses for £1 at Poundland. 

 Nope they were never destined for us they were for ...

... the pigs that sit on our gateposts.

Super cool ... but not quite so cool when I had to run up the road to retrieve them after leaving them on the pigs overnight in high winds ... whoops  ;-)

Sue xx

Thursday 18 August 2016

Self Sufficient In - Strawberry Plants

The strawberry plants that live in the tyres by the front doors of the polytunnel are running rampant with runners this year.  It's a good sign that the plants are happy in their environment and want to multiply and who am I to stop them.  I've found out from experience that virtually everything likes growing in tyres, we always ask to keep ours when the vehicles need new ones  :-)

Once you have a few strawberry plants it's very easy year after year to keep yourself self sufficient in new plants rather than going out and buying some more, and it's so easy to do, in fact you barely have to do anything the plant does most of it for you.

The long leggy runners that come off the plant are the plants ways of reaching out for fresh soil for it's babies and all you have to do is direct them into a bit of spare ground or if they are container grown into more containers.

I  have plant pots dotted all around the tyres ....

... and a long trough with lots of fresh compost.

You simply direct the end of the runner to the soil you want it to root in.

Mine have rooted very quickly, so quickly in fact that I didn't even get round to pegging them down, which it is best to do to help the end of the runner stay under the soil and develop a good root system of its own.

Image result for strawberry runners

You can make little pegs out of snipped off wire, or do as I usually do and find some forked ended twigs and hold them down that way.

Image result for strawberry runners

Then it's simply a question of waiting for nature to do her stuff and let the little runner develop roots to hold it in it's new home.  Once it's got a good root system and a little tug no longer dislodges it from the soil you can simply snip through the long runner a few inches away from the new plant.

Image result for strawberry runners
These last three photos are from Google Images.

And there it is a lovely new little baby strawberry plant ready to put somewhere sheltered before planting into a new bed with others,  or adding to your existing strawberry bed for next year.  And if you can be brave for their first year and not pick any of the berries off your new plants you will find that in their second year of growth you will have a bumper crop, one that will be well worth waiting for.

We have been self-sufficient in strawberry plants for about the last three years ... one more tick on the list on our journey to self sufficiency   :-)

Sue xx

Wednesday 17 August 2016

Leek Seeds, Strawberries and Washing

Watering in the net tunnel last night I spotted these lovelies all in a row and couldn't resist getting a quick photo of them.  

The leeks all went to seed in the intense hot spell we had a few weeks ago, my fault really I should have over compensated with lots of water but with them being in the net tunnel I forgot.  Still all is not lost, I used some of the leeks that I had to pull up for soup, the ones that weren't too woody that is and these I left in situ to develop into flower heads which will soon be followed by a mass of seeds that I can sow next year.

Also manically sending out runners for the next generation are the strawberries.  Someone asked me about strawberry runners so I'll nip out and get some photos and do a post about them tomorrow.  

 Now I have to brave the intense heat of the sunshine to go out and peg out some more washing, it's lovely in the cool of the house, but it's also lovely getting all the bedding washed, dried and back on the bed in the space of a few hours.

Sue xx

Tuesday 16 August 2016

That Certain Age

We were walking down the street in Prestatyn the other day when Lovely Hubby was accosted by an elderly lady.

She said "Were you?"  

He looked blank, so did I for a moment, then I remembered that he was wearing this T shirt, and pointed it out to him.

He laughed and said "I was" ... to which she replied "guess how old I am".  Lovely Hubby, not being in the know, gave a very good guess at 85,, so I stepped in quickly with 76 .... "I'm 86" she beamed.

As we walked away I told him that next time an elderly lady, or any lady for that matter, asks you to guess her age guess low.  If she's over a certain age she'll want to boast about how old she really is and if she's below a certain age she'll simply be very flattered at being younger looking.

I wonder though what that certain age is!!

Sue xx

This t shirt and many more equally brilliant ones are available from

This is NOT a sponsored post, this t shirt was Lovely Hubby's birthday present from me back in January!!


Monday 15 August 2016

The Eglwysbach Show

Pull up a chair put your reading glasses on and get ready for a photo marathon  :-)

It's Show season here in our little patch of North Wales, and after last week's Trelawnyd Flower Show this weekend it was the turn of the Eglwysbach Show.  A much bigger and outdoor event that, thank goodness, the sun decided to shine on.  It started at 9.30am on Saturday and we were there for 10.15am with our walking boots on ready for a good trek around the show.

There was lots to see, first thing in the morning it was the judging of all the cattle, sheep and horses.

Beasts were all titivated to the nines with their coats all glossy and their tails all bouffanted to maximum puffiness.

There was lots of last minute combing gong on, and lots of beautiful animals.

Here's a friend, Aled from the kennels the dogs go to when we are away, showing his magnificent Bluefaced Leicester Ram, he won best ram and overall Best Reserve in Show with this huge ram ...

... along with lots of other rosettes.

They just know they look good don't they!!

Lovely sheep .....

.... and as a non-meat eater I always think it's a bit unfair to have the lamb burger stall next to the sheep enclosures !!

The Country Market ladies were there selling lots of handmade items, handicrafts and their well loved jams, chutneys and bakery goods.

There were lots of stall selling sundries and lots of charities there raising money for their causes, and after a good browse around them all we went for a spot of lunch.

And I must say it was a pleasant surprise to find a 'choose yourself' salad bar as well as all the usual hotdogs and burgers.  A very civilised lunch with a cup of coffee to keep us going.

We had a good chat to the guy with all the gorgeous birds, this is a Little Owl.

... and this a magnificent Eagle Owl.

First prize in the scarecrow competition went to a 'Workman' ....

... and first prize in the cider buying competition went to .... me!!

We watched the doggy obstacle race and then the dog and owner Egg and Spoon race.

I spied a cabbage almost as good as one of mine.

And lots of magnificent vegetables ....

... including these fantastic specimens.

I doubt I could ever grow to this perfection, but then we grow to eat and show for a it of fun, these guys grow to show, and what a fantastic job they do of it.

Leek perfection!!

Lovely Hubby was drawn to the compost as usual,  and after handling all the exhibits agreed with the judges on the merits of the one that won First place.

He was also drawn to the cakes ...

... and more cakes ....

.. and maybe some tarts ....

... and of course to the homemade pies.

I had a good look at the jams, 

and fell in love with the miniature garden.

The vegetables weren't all serious ....

... and the Lego tractors were very cleverly done.

We ended our day out with a good look at the vintage tractors all parked up on the hill overlooking the showground, and from that viewpoint we could take in the wonderful view of this treasure of a Welsh valley, surrounded as it is on all sides by hills.

Then it was time to wend our way along the country lanes and back to our side of the hill and collapse in a tired heap on the sofa.

I hope you enjoyed your little visit to the show.  It's on again next year if you're passing, but first I have to get my entries ready for Llanrwst Show next week, and give the cup a polish ready for handing back.

Sue xx