Saturday, November 18, 2006

A Beautiful day! and unusual find up the road!

When I got up at 5.45am this morning I thought it was chilly which is surprising bearing in mind we have the Rayburn! As it got light I realised we had, had a frost so threw on my clothes and dived down the garden, not to see if the chickens where alright, although I did let them out on my way past, but to check if my tropical plants in the greenhouse where alright!! Fortunately having wrapped the greenhouse up earlier in bubble wrap it was a cool 5C so no damage!

Neither Mark nor I recall the weather man forecasting frost last night! But this morning at about 6.30 a bloke did the BBC weather and told us we would have rain most of the day!! At 7.ooish a lady said it would be sunshine all the way!!! Now with todays modern technology you would think they could at least get the weather right just one day ahead!!!

After my lovely dippy egg and soldiers I went outside to clean out the chickens and do some bits and bobs in the garden!

I know this looks abit untidy but I will sort that out another day! I have been putting the used aubiose from the chickens on to my veg patches, today I decided to dig it in! I could not believe how many worms we had !!! I must remember to ask Lottie if I can put this aubiose on all the veg patches, because I think there are some plants that don't like having freshly manured ground!!

Having finished the digging, then helped Mark move the Chimnea and wooden table then whilst he finished off I came in as I was begining to get cold!

I made my most favourite soup of the moment Butternut Squash and Sweet Pepper! Yummy! Mark went out to get a paper and post a letter to Kathryn and one to my eldest neice Zoe, whose baby is due on Monday! Imagine me being a Great Aunty???? I remember my Great Aunty, unfortunately she was an alcoholic and rather odd, I always thought she was very old!! I hope Zoe's baby doesn't think that of me!!!!! Even stranger will be that my sister will be a Granny!!!!!! I have been knitting away for the baby and have finished one (can't say what) I need to do the second one, when I have finished I will post a pic!

I was going to start putting marzipan on the Christmas Cakes until I remembered I'd forgotten to get some boards! I still haven't really decided how to decorate them... I fancied a rustic look this year, and whilst I was trolling around the internet I found this......

totally nothing to do with cakes, but I liked the simplicity of it. I don't think it would be hard to make... dried oranges (I will have to ask Lottie again, and I really must get the hang of this drying lark!) bayleaves, of which I have a massive bush, cinnamon sticks and whole nutmegs!

I do have a glimmer of and idea for decorating the cakes with, but its still in the processing stage!!

Mark decided to go for a bike ride this afternoon, so I thought I would go up the road to deliver some chutney to my friend. This is the route I walked every single day when the children where little in the afternoon to get them out for some fresh air!! I don't actually do this walk as much nowadays, so decided to take the camera and what a surprise I got!! So read on.....

This is about halfway up the road looking back towards my house, you may just make out the cars opposite where we live...

this is looking up the road in the direction I was going

this is alot further up the road and I really tok this pic to show how few leaves had dropped!

then I got closer and saw......

yes you can see what I saw... look closer....

Saddleback piggies!! This was a very common site when we moved here 18 years ago! Not necessarily saddleback pigs but free ranging pigs! Calne housed the 'Harris's' factory which supplied the famous bacon and sausages!

and now a little closer

These are younger than the first group and they are Gloucester Old Spot! I passed the farmer whom I thought they belonged to and had a chat and he said go in and have a closer look. So I did but the battery on the camera ran out!!!! I will have to go back!!!!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Wiltshire in the Rain!

Boy! has it rained today. I'm not complaining! We definately could do with a lot more of this!!

I love the autumn and this is the view even in the rain

This is from Kathryns window looking straight down the garden. It is really only the last 7 - 10 days that the leaves have changed. They are still dropping, you can see there are still alot of trees with leaves on, which fro us is exceptionally late. But look at the colours... the green of the lawns, orange berries, autumnal orange and red of the leaves. I love it!

This as you can see is just to the left of the last pic.
Again you have a fantastic contrast between the different shades of gree and the deep reds! When Mark retires I would love to go to New England in the fall, I believe it is quite spectacular!

I have decided not to beat myself up about the chickens!!! As much as I like the idea of them free rangeing in the garden it is just not practical, especially in this weather! This is them today sheltering in the eglu from the rain, the stalks hanging down are the remains of the Chard from the morning! They have plenty of room to scratch around, they have good food, lots of treats and are cosy amd warm at night! I could take the run off the eglu to give them more room, but at the moment that is the only shelter they have from the rain! We have looked at another part of the garden up by the veg patch, where we could construct a run with roof, but needs some more thinking about! Until then they will have to stay where they are!!!
Back Later!!!!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Wrecked Garden!!!

Now I have always loved my garden but currently...... I'm not so sure. I have fenced off all the bits I could but look, at my so called lawn!!! It is actually alot worse than the picture shows!!!

This is at the bottom of the garden, before the shed. The muddy bit at the top of this picture extends out some 2 ft now!!!! It was only about 1 ft.

this is a closer view and you can actually see just how bad it is now! Can you see my hobbit hiding in the corner. If you didn't know already you would be able to tell it was chickens because of the bare branches close to the ground. It is really funny watching them reach the leaves, they actually jump. Unfortunately a photo can't show you!!! It would certainly make you laugh!

Now the bed on the left was a big flower bed and had large plants of beautifully coloured sedums in which usually lasted all winter and where gorgeous. Plus many other plants and bushes that gave the garden something during the winter months. Apart from the buddlia there is not alot left!!

So my probelm is what on earth am I going to do? We are only in November and haven't even reached the wettest or coldest months! Do I build a run and keep them shut in all the time? I am definately not getting rid of them once you have their eggs you never want a shop bought one again!!!


Just so everyone realises that not everything I touch works..................................

I have been knitting this delightful cardi for my friends daughter for Christmas. I have knitted for years, usually fairly simple patterns but they have always turned out well! I have already had to undo both fronts on this as the pattern was wrong and when I went to sew up the sleeves they totally didn't fit!!!!!

It is a pattern my neighbour lent me and not a cheap one either! After the problems I have had I reckon it must be the pattern! But that doesn't help! I'm not actually the fastest knitter in the world and I have loads more to do by Christmas!!!!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Finished Soap!

I'm a bit late posting today, due to the fact my soaps didn't want to come out of the moulds!!!!! Eventually 3 came out and the 4th as we speak is in the freezer (cos apparently thats what you do)...

and once cut up

look like lumps of cheese with chives in!!!!! Actually they smell abit peculiar but apparently it will improve with age!! We hope! I've got all the ingredients to have another go with a different type of soap, so will post pics as I do it!!

We had another meeting with Tori's school, I think they are beginning to get the message! I hope to find out what they have put into action by Friday. Anyway on the way back (well not really) we went to our favourite garden centre and yet again I came away with £65 worth of plants

Now I know you might think I'm mad, but I actually got all of these for the princely sum of £3.95 ! The bottom 2 are not dead they are dormant and you can see green buds in the top of the corms. The top and middle pic are huge! They are all ferns by the way. The front of my house is north facing so I will get some nice pots (which are currently 50 - 75% off) and pop them out the front next year!!!! Something different for people to look at!!!!
I am currently knitting a very nice cardi for my friends 2yr old daughter for Christmas. I enjoy knitting and can do basic stitches, I've never done cable!!! So there I was knitting away finished the back, fronts and arms last night. So I thought I would pick up the stitches down the right front, as per pattern! But it didn't look right??? So I gave myself a very good telling off, as I thought I had done something wrong. But after re-reading the pattern its the pattern thats wrong not me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So I have to undo both front pieces all the way back to the armhole shaping!!!! I am not impressed and will complain accordingly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Soapmaking Day!!!!!

My friend Lottie (see Lotties blog), on the Potting Shed has encouraged me to have a go at 'soapmaking', not the melt and poor stuff, the real mad scientist rubber gloves and eye protection type!!!! We had planned to both make a batch today and then post the details on our blogs. After yesterdays events I wasn't sure I wanted to, but gave myself a very firm talking too and decided it would help take my mind off things!!!!!!
We are both following recipies from 'the handmade soap book' by melinda coss!
So I gathered all ingredients

protected myself with rubber gloves, apron and goggles! Took a very deep breath and began measuring very acurately.....

Measured all the base oils and put them in a pan to melt, in this recipe I used coconut oil, sweet almond oil and olive oil!

In the top picture on the left you can see the peppermint teabags steeping in the water in the jug. As usual I can't stick to a recipe, I didn't have any cammomile teabags but I did have peppermint so I swopped them! Once this has cooled you remove the teabags and add the lye making sure you have your apron, gloves and eye protection on!

It was quite fascinating to watch, it went all cloudy and changed shades of a colour a few times! But you stir until its all dissolved. Now comes some of the waiting time! The oils and this lye mixture sit with a thermometer in each, until both reach an equal temperature. Here they are without the thermometers in!!!

Then once they are equal temps you pour the Lye into the oils.

Now we wait again until trace is reached which can be anything from 10 mins to 2.5 hours!!!!!! Stirring occasionally. This is what I'm not good at the waiting!!! Fortunately, I'm lucky enough not to have any children around and at this time of the day the cats are always asleep! So I have washed up, stirred, made a coffee, stirred, drank it, stirred, typed up this blog, stirring each time I load a picture and still not at trace! MMMmmmmm!!! What else can I do! Oh yes I know! Stir!!!!

My moulds are ready

My sister will laugh at this bit, she knows I can never do as I'm told... the book says use a shallow square or oblong mould!!! Can you see one? The round thing on the left is what you cook an omlette in a microwave in. I thought I could cut the soap into cake wedge shapes from this! There is a beaker at the top, I could just slice these, so they would be a type of burger shape. The green one is for anything thats left!!!!!!
Stirred again, it is thickening...... slightly! It is quite a nice oatmeal colour now, it was totally disgusting colour earlier!

ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!!!!! Stir!!!

Just think bloggers this is a fast forward way for you to see how soap is made!!! Stir!!

Stir! Its getting there! I think!!!

2 hours 20 mins now and you can definately see its getting there....

Well there was a very, very long wait until it traced, bearing in mind I started about 9 - 9.30 am it didn't get into the moulds until 14.50.

Here its traced and I'm adding the peppermint leaves and essential oils.....

and then into the moulds..............

now it is wrapped up and in the cupboard under Kathryns bed!!!!!! Take it out of the moulds tomorrow and cut it (I will post pics then).
So did I enjoy it? Yes, a bit hair raising at times, but it was fun. Another lady from the Potting Shed Forum said, 'Melinda Coss's book, tracing times, need to be doubled' and that appears true with this recipe.
Would I do it again? Most definately. I have been totally absorbed all day, obviously doing other bits in between stirring.
I have plenty of Coconut and Sweet almond oil left so will be looking to see what else I can do very, very soon!!

Monday, November 13, 2006

In Memory of Chimarnie xxxxxx

Sadly he was rather poorly over the weekend so we took him back to the vets and it was decided it would be best to put him too sleep!

Yes we are very upset ,but I thought the best way to remember him would be to tell you a few stories about him..................................

In 1992 he adopted us! At the time we had a very large feral cat population in our neighbourhood. He would hang around and meow at all times of the day and night, we where quite horrible to him chucking small stones to frighten him off etc. but he was never put off! One day I had my double doors open at the back, it was quite hectic in the house getting ready to take Kathryn to school, washing machine and dishwasher going, then in he marched, straight past all of us, the machines and into the lounge where he curled up on one of the chairs and slept for 48 hours!!!!!!!!! He had already tried to move in next door, but they had dogs, he was not one bit fazed by the dogs, but they hated him.

It was after this, that we realised he had probably been abandoned, no feral cat would have past the machines!!! He was also long haired and although he had been hanging around for about a week his coat was not bad enough to make us think he had always been outside.

We advertised in all the local shops to see if anyone had lost him and after he had been living with us for 10 days, he was hit by a car, we got him to the vets and the bill was £103, we decided then and there he was ours!

Kathryn remembers him playing chasing your toes through the bedclothes.

My sister says she would always remember the way he used to sit by the biscuit cupboard staring straight at it, willing it to open, until someone gave him some!!!!

He was always very different to all our other cats, he was very intelligent and would take time to work things out, he really did think problems out.

When we first had him I had 3 other cats and I always shut the kitchen door so the cats could get into the kitchen but not the rest of the house. This was not good enough for Chimarnie! We live in a block of 4 terraced cottages, the middle 2 (of which 1 is ours) have a brick built porch. One morning we found him asleep at the bottom of the bed and had no idea how he got there, so we watched and waited.

He jumped onto our neighbours car ( because it was parked closer to the porch than ours) he jumped from there to the roof of the porch. From here our outside window ledge is about 2 ft higher but 4-5ft along so he jumped across then climbed in the window. Now that takes thinking!!!

Marks best memory of him ...............................

I used to breed Guinea pigs, unfortunately that meant Rats (ugh) anyway I had traps set. Mark remembers Chimarnie coming in the cat flap tail first (thats right bottom first!) then hearing this tremendous bang and again bang, as he rushed through to see what was going on Chimarnie had managed to come through the catflap bottom first carrying a big rat trap with an even bigger rat on it, looking very proud!!!!

What do I remember, well lots really, he defended his territory from all feral cats for 12+ years and cost us hundreds of pounds in vet bills, sewing up his wounds. He would sit on command and often give you his paw too! White hairs everywhere! He very rarely sat on your knee, but would always sit as close to you as he could get. Latterly as I left to take Tori to school he would come out the front door with us, I still have a window box my father made which stands about 3ft 6ins and it has a shelf underneath, which Chimarnie liked to sit on and watch the world go by from. He would wait there until I came back and let him back in.
Mum has reminded me, that when she used to come and stay, Chimarni adored her and hers was the only knee he ever sat on. Always left her covered in white hair!!!!!!!!!!
Tori was reminding me this evening of the time when we got Sassy and Tango. The girls where always playing with them with lengths of string that they ran round after. They tried to encourage Chimarnie to join in but he looked at the piece of string as if to say 'imagine expecting me to play with that'!!!
Some other memories that came to light over the dinner table tonight..... when he first moved in he was a terrible thief/opportunist, in those days he was speedy, we could be sat down to our Sunday Roast and he would leap onto the work surface and nick the chicken!!!!!!! You always knew he had it cos he growled just in case.
His other passion in those early days was milk, poor Tori always seemed to bear the brunt.......... she would be quite happily eating her breakfast cereal, I maybe had gone to get something and in a flash he was lapping out of her bowl, she never minded but I did!

I am sure more stories will come to mind and I will add them accordingly.
Chimarni approx 1992 - Sept 2006

Just for Kathryn!

These are just for you Kathryn, I know you miss 'Sassy' so this is to remind you of her!!!

Unfortunately I have to take Chimarnie back to the vets again today, he has been sick again all weekend and has not used the litter tray since Saturday not good...... I'll keep you posted