Friday, 28 August 2009

A book-filled week

- again! This first picture shows the kitchen table five minutes after returning from the mobile library. Yes, I can see you all turning your heads sideways LOL. The mobile library is a fortnightly treasure house for me. I don't drive, through my own choice, and time with family is take up with other things at weekends, plus OH has changed job and hours etc, so a visit to the terrestrial library is getting a bit rare these days. No matter - the library van is wonderful - I can request books online for free, and suggest book purchases, hire DVDs, buy stamps etc. A regular jar of jam and or chutney plus a Christmas present for the two staff help things along, and they often put aside books they think I might like. Can't be beaten, in my view.

These other two pictures show the charity shop haul I got this morning, all for £5. I knew I cleared my shelves last week for a reason! The princely sum of 80p for the Sarah Raven book with the astonishingly gorgeous cover was the icing on the cake. So, with this pile, I get to feed my armchair travelling ( see post below), gardening, foraging and biographical habits all for that relatively small sum. I also managed to find a bobbin of shirring elastic for 10p, so that was useful too.

Happy reading to you all too - hope you get as much pleasure from your books as I do from mine. :)

Armchair traveller

I've been an armchair traveller for many years now, and am quite content to view the world from the comfort of my own home :)
When younger, I wanted to visit all sorts ofplaces - Tibet and Ladakh were very high on the list, Nepal, Sikhim, Bhutan, India, Peru, Bolivia, rural Spain and Italy, northern France, parts of America......
As environmental concerns began to make themselves known, I reined in my future travel plans greatly, then when the house and children came along, they got pushed to the back burner, where they have stayed. I went to Paris many, many years ago, and to Ireland twice, plus all over Scotland, England and Wales, although there are many places left in this country for me to visit in the future, I hope. I've never flown, and now have no wish to do so whatsoever. I have read hundreds of travel books over the years, and had a subscription to the Excellent Wanderlust magazine; travel programmes were avidly watched on television. The library is a great source of travel books, which I request having been recommended them, or seen them in a paper, magazine or online, etc. I have to say that the internet has been the biggest contributor to my armchair travellling - anywhere in the world is literally a click away - hundreds of pages, articles, blogs, not to mention the incredible pictures and photographs that people are willing to share with the world at large. I also have contact with people from around the globe through forums and blogs - a great way to learn about life and living in countries so different to ours. With all this at my fingertips, whilst some say it is no substitute for the travelling experience (which I could agree with), it comes a pretty good second for me; the world is literally brought into my home for me. Over the years I've become a real home bod, quite content to stay put, but I do enjoy seeing what is happening in other peoples' parts of the world - good for the mind, good for the soul.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

You know those days...............

I feel a bit like that poor rabbit this evening! You know those days - you get out of bed expecting everything to just be like usual, but instead nothing goes to plan. I didn't get done half of what I wanted to, and the kitchen looks like a fruit market LOL; other people demanding time and attention, then when I looked at the clock it was after 5...............ah well. Back to the fruit mountain. :)

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Doesn't amount to a hill o'beans................

- maybe not, but it proves a point! I grew these six little beans this year. I tried growing kidney beans a few years back, with fresh seed purchased from a seed merchant, but little success. This year I sowed two or three from the back of the larder "out of date" according to the packet. They produced plants, and I kept an eye on them, picked the beans when ready, and dried them. Now, it may only be six beans, but these will be sown next eyar, and I will have my very own strain of kidney beans :) I've wondered for years whether dried beans bought in the health food shop or wherever would actually grow, and this indicates that they will. Much cheaper to buy too - a mixed bag of dried beans would give some wonderful, interesting experiments, and based on this, there's no reason why they shouldn't grow and produce edible beans. The wondering is over, roll on next spring after a visit to the health food shop for a mixed bag of potential!

Bit of a relaxed day here so far - friends over this morning for tea and cake,and a good natter ofocurse LOL; bit of knitting done. Buckets of damsons and some elderberries to deal with later after a visit to the mobile library. It's very wet and has poured here all day today - goats are particularly displeased about that I think, poor things. I gave them some extra straw to eat/play with, but it's not the same as being outside snoozing goatily in the sunshine like yesterday. Ah well, it's good for the garden, and the linen bin is empty!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Quote of the day

I found this quote very pertinent after reading some of the patronising holier than thou twaddle I've seen posted around and about the internet recently LOL:

"When the stomach is full, it is easy to talk of fasting."

Saint Jerome

Making bullace gin

The bullaces are ripening nice and early this year - MrL came back with a nice bagful on Sunday morning from "our" tree - does anyone else earmark "their" foraging hotspots? LOL . This is very easy to make, just like sloe gin, in fact. Pick over the fruits and discard any that show signs of rotting or damage, or unripe ones. Make sure they are clean; if washing, leave to dry. Prick each fruit once or twice with a darning needle or similar and put into a large, wide-necked jar; add a couple of tablespoons of granulated sugar, or more to taste. Top up with gin, close up and leave in a cool dark place for a couple or three months, shaking occasionally. When ready, you can decantit and take the fruit out, or just use it straight from the jar. Lovely in the depths of winter, and adds variety to the seasonal gins/liqueurs.
The other pic is of the chillies I harvested yesterday, drying over the Rayburn. I think it's gone out this morning, so will need to get it re-lit, or there won't be much chilli drying going on................

Monday, 24 August 2009

Harvest home...........

Luckily, most of it doesn't have far to come to get home LOL. This was what we managed in an hour or so yesterday morning; the main crop of apples is from the Devonshire Quarrenden tree; a biennial bearer, very old variety from just over the border, does very well here. The apples are eating apples, but don't keep, so we wil be getting through them. The big dark red apples are, believe it or not, a crab apple! Variety Wisley, they will go for cider next week, along with the John Downies there and the rest still to pick - the lovely orangey ones. The damsons are windfalls, the rest hopefully ready this week - they seem to take an age to get ripe, maybe it's just because I check them twice a day so I don't miss out! Also this week, I'll be digging potatoes, and there'll be tomatoes, chillies, herbs and courgettes to deal with. It's a busy time of year, but worth it for peace of mind when you know you have lots put by ready for eating throught the autumn and winter. I never grudge the time spent in the kitchen at this time of year. I clear the table, make a big pot of tea and just get on with it. Supper may be a bit later than usual, or the dusting missed for a few days but there you go!
There is even more jam to be made this week, and lots of racking and bottling of wine; the immortelles are giving me another good crop, I want to get bullace gin made, and I'm keeping a very close eye on the hop bines to catch them just at their very best. Ditto the sloes - being self-sufficient in sloes is a Big Thing for me! I've been making it for more years than I care to remember, but its increasing popularity has meant that there is more competition for the wild ones; I planted three in the garden a few years back, and two of them are heavy with fruit this year. The third one turned out to be a bullace, so that was an interesting bonus! I need to get out and see if there is any fruit on it this year ready for harvesting; MrL came back with a bagful of wild ones yesterday, destined for the gin bottle later today I should think. It's all go............................
Ah - forgot about the elderberries................!!!

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Saving the past - utility and beauty

I'm well known for my tip purchases - we are fortunate enough to have an enlightened tip/recycling centre where good usable stuff is put out for resale to the public (no electrical items, etc though for safety reasons). ALthough I buy a lot of stuff and things, it's mainly old things to actually use in the house - contrary to some's beliefs, my house is not stuffed to the gunwhales with unused bits and bobs just bought because they are there or look pretty; everything must pay its way, either in utility or beauty. Now, I know the way our tip works. Once a week, the stuff is completely cleared, and sorted into the appropriate recycling/landfill skips etc. No sorting, or "That's too good to dump" - it just has to go as there is just so much of it. Goodness only knows what wonderful things have ended up over the landfill wall! I have had a lifelong interest in domestic equipment, household items, textiles, history, etc, and its these things that I go for. Often seen by an older generation as soemthing no longer wanted, old-fashioned, reminders of a life they no longer live or even wish to remember, these things often end up there; piled into boxes when houses/kitchens are cleared, brought down there and left. I'd like to think that those who bring the boxes of stuff are hopeful that someone might be prepared to rifle through it all and give it a second lease of life, rather than just literally dumping it. I have certainly had more than my fair share of wonderful purchases from there, and the ones above, plus more were bought on Saturday. The ladle is a huge old soup ladle, probably silver, Mappin & Webb; the jug is Victorian, I think transfer ware, with the proper mark on the bottom, in perfect condition. Both will be cleaned and used here. The canvas bag is more of an enigma - it has been suggested it may be a field sink from WW2; it's been interesting to have a look on the net to see what information I can find about these things. Other humble homely items I got include some lovely cream pudding basins (I have a good selection of these, and use them all the time) and a lovely button box, full of fascinating bits and pieces, including a bobbin for one of the hand
Singer machines.
Watching various archaeology programmes on TV, it's often been said that the most useful information comes from domestic items found - how ordinary people lived and worked, their homes, their family lives, etc. If all this gets dumped now, there will be little to tell our story in the future, so I'd like to think I'm playing some small part in preserving things for future generations to wonder at in a life inevitably every different from my own.