Friday, 19 June 2009

Scenes from a kitchen............

Thought I'd wield the camera whilst it's tidy!! LOL The mantle piece is now repainted courtesy of MrL and ready to be put back up tonight, above the stove; we are now about 3/4 of the way roudn with the green - you can see one wall, plus the bit behind the dresser still need doing, and you can admire my just wonderful original retro 1970's wallpaper...........bleurch! We're getting there, the problem being that we have nowhere else to move furniture etc into whilst we paint and decorate, so we have had to do a bit at a time. We still need a ceiling, though..............LOL

Out and about with the dog...........

A few photos from yesterday's dog walk, just around the lanes for an hour or so. The big barn is beautiful, and is at Manor Farm, next door to my house. Wild flowers in abundance now, it's quite satisfying to know the names, and what they can be used for. I saw lots of evidence of animals too, so that's good. Nearly got blatted by a Portaloo truck steaming around a bend, so had a good old shout at him when I got out of the hedge :0 I saw one thing I wasn't sure of the name of, so have asked on Creative Living forum - hoping someone will know, but I'll pop it up here too.
It's lovely to be able to get out and aroudn thelanes - there's so much to see, hear and take in, not just at this time of year, but year round.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Sweetpeas and handspun...............

I picked this jugful of sweetpeas yesterday, the scent is incredible, and the whole kitchen smells of them, it's just lovely.I don;t often post pictures of my knitting here, as I usually put it on my knitting blog, but I just thought I'd share this one with you. Its handspun Southdown wool, and a pair of socks is underway. I finished the spinning last night, and was so excited, I was casting on just after 11pm......LOL
I't s beautiful day here again; we had quite a bit of rain ehre yesterday - great for the garden and for the butts, although the chickens weren't exactly enamoured with it! I'm off outside in a minute to pick more redcurrants and broad beans, then it's on with the washing. It's piled up a bit due to broken down washing machine, but I have a plan in place I think, will post later. I hoep everyone's got weather like I have today.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009


I spent a couple of hour yesterday on the homemade wines, so now it's all racked off, some will be ready for bottling in about 2 week's time or so. I also got 4 gallons of eldeflower wine into demi-johns, which is bubbling away nicely. All labelled and dated, and returned to their rightful places in the outside store room. They're winter wines - made at a time when fresh ingredients, although not hard to come by if you buy them in, aren't easily available to be picked or foraged yourself. So, in the winter, I make some different types of wine - you wouldn't find these in the off-licence! I have coffee, apple, jam, dandelion and Rose Pouchong tea bag. There are a lot of homebrew snobs out there, you know, who really turn their nsoes up at these wines, but when made properly and left to mature, they can be very good. I do like the traditional ones like the elderflower, the fruit wines, the flower wines, the parsnip sherry, but it doesn't do to get stuck in a rut, so I always like to try something different. I've been making the tea and coffee wines for years now, and they're good. As for the Rose Pouchong tea wine - well, someone gave me some a while back, but put milk in it; I bought my own tea bags to give it a proper go (no milk, quite weak), but really disliked it, so into the brew bucket it went. It makes a good wine, with a definite more-than-a-hint of rose. Jam wine is a good way of clearing through the cupboard before the year's jam making gets underway again - always makes a very good mixed fruit wine, usually red, or reddish, and different everytime, using less sugar than normal as the sugar is there already in the jam.
Those snobs are quite happy to go out and buy ingredients and kits to make their "wines", whilst knocking what's sitting in fornt of them. I have nothing against kits per se (although I've only ever used one in my life, when I was at college), or buying ingredients, but if they'd stop and think about it, and use what's available and in season, etc, then it would lead to a much more sustainable personal wine cellar. People are so quick to criticise without any experience of things, I find, especially this particular forum I have in mind.......Ah well, it's them that's missing out LOL
For me, homebrewing isn't a hobby, it's part of the housekeeping and always has been. It gets fitted in with everything else and plays a big part in our self-reliance efforts. It tastes good too, and saves a shed load of money, amkes great presents, barters, you can make your own labels, and recycle the bottles endlessly, support they perilous real cork industry, and - it's fun!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

How to learn

I was talking to someone quite a while ago now, and she asked me how did I know all the stuff I do, or words to that effect. I said I'd learned it over the years, picked up bits here and there, read a lot, tried a lot, listened a lot, made mistakes, the usual, Her next question stumped me for a while ".....but how do you learn?" So - how do you learn? Here's my take on it.
Firstly, you really have to want to learn; this is a big part of it, or it will only be a half-hearted attempt, leading to disappointment and frustration. The next is a biggie - patience, something lacking in an awful lot of people. It takes time to learn anything - how to do it, make it, use it, whatever. Next, be prepared to put the work in - Rome wasn't built in a day, Aran jumpers aren't knitted after two weeks of garter stitch blanket squares, a larder full of preserves and home made wines takes effort. Next - listen to learn; very important, especially if you have requested information/instruction/help from someone and they are taking time to help you out. Watch, read as much as you can, do your research. Start small and work your way up - this takes patience and commitment too. Take heed of those with experience in the field you are learning about, or want to learn about. There's no substitute for good, long-term experience both for how to do it and how not to do it.
I have taken a lifetime to get where I am, but some people just expect to be able to pick up things straight away, without putting in any effort whatsoever - leads to failure, disinterest, slack workmanship, unfinished projects, all sorts. Quite often, the person supposedly being learned from has to sort out the resulting mess too............Lastly, learn too, from your mistakes; laugh at them as well if appropriate. Things might go wonky and awry, but it's all part of the process.
Learning is a good thing, but like all the important things in life, if it's worth doing, it's worth doing well, so take time to do it well, with patience, interest, passion, care and commitment.
The prize at the end is the satisfaction of a job well done, increased knowledge and a sense of pride in your work. Take the time.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Mother Earth News

I have long been a fan of Mother Earth news magazine, although I came to it relatively late in life, not until the 1990s I think. I'm not sure how I first came across it, but I think it might have been OH bringing a copy back from the USA after a wrok trip out there. I saved up the ones I could get hold of, then had a subscription on and off as funds allowed. My paper copies became worn and otrn and tattered through constant re-reading. Last month I bit the bullet and invested in the whole of their output on CDROM - there are 4 of them, covering its inception from 1970, the 1980s, the 1990s , and then up until 2008. Not cheap in money terms, after P&P and customs charges, but I thought it would be a very worthwhile investment and a veritable goldmine of information. I've just had a quick flick through the fist disc, and don't think I'm going to be disappointed at all - what a huge amount of wonderful stuff to read. I'm sure I'll be passing on various bits of wisdom as I work my way through them, so watch out for that.

Here's a link:

If I don't resurface for a while, at least you'll know what I'm up to now LOL

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Sunday by the sea part I

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

- John Masefield

We spent the afternoon down at Osmington on the coast today, to round of MrL's birthday week off. After a slight hiccup, we ended up here for the first time - what a lovely place. Can thoroughly recommend the pub - The Smuggler's Inn. I sat on the cliff top for a while, whilst the others ventured down to the shore - not exactly a cliff, but too high and steep for me to tackle! Brought back treasures for me, though - shells of various kinds, sea glass, drift wood...........Weather was glorious, and I was able to identify sea purslane and bastard cabbage on the cliff top. Two huge tankers out in the bay; they might have beenw aiting to go into Weymouth or Portland - that's Portland in one of the photos, looking a bit like a misty isle on the horizon. Made a lovely change, and it was good to get some sea air into my lungs, it does me a power of good.

Sunday by the sea....................II