Saturday, March 03, 2007

More Gardening Stuff!!

Well the Lime Marmalade was a huge hit, very, very scrummy! Hubby has told me to stop making stuff as the cupboard is far to full!!!!!!!

So what have I been up to today?? Well the sun is shining, hubby is coming out to play so what mischief can we get up to??

Remember this...

well after some digging and chopping etc etc it now looks like this

so the chickens have been moved and they seem very happy about it too

I can't remember if I have told you we live in a group of 4 cottages and I am the one with the smallest garden yet my 2 immediate neighbours both work full time and very rarely use the very large part of their gardens! Coo! what I could do with that bit if it was mine!!!

Anyway we have used the chicken netting, which is enormous, to fence them in and compared to what it looked like with the permenant wooden posts further down the garden

I think it disappears a bit now, what do you think?

We are going to give it the week to see if we think it will work before I dismantle the old run.
Lottie used to take her big chickens up to her allotment during the summer months, there is a large field at the back of the cottages that is rented out for grazing for horses, I wonder how much the farmer would charge me for grazing chickens there??? Think I may have problems with foxes though!

I have sent an e-mail to the lady who contacted me from BBC Wiltshire Sound (radio), but I think they probably needed to hear from me yesterday! I will keep you posted!!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Lime Marmalade & the Black Dog!

I do try hard to write a cheerful blog because I don't want to lose any of you, hence loads of pics recently!! But......

Have you heard of Winston Churchill's 'Black Dog'? (Depression)

"Our society unfortunately still has these strange ideas about depression – that weak people get depressed. If weak people get depressed then why did Winston Churchill get depressed? Why did Abraham Lincoln get depressed? Why did Charles Darwin get depressed?" Dr Ian Chung.

I am sadly one of these people and I believe I have done well to get through the last 6 months with everything thats been going on! Anyway I saw the GP 2 weeks ago and everything is now in hand. To be honest its a b****r! I still have no idea why? Its like someone has flicked a switch and try as I might I can't seem to flick it back! I must admit I don't talk about it much as I don't like people knowing, but I can tell you because I don't see you!!!!!
I don't need sympathy, I would never ever harm myself in any way shape or form, because I know I am better for the family a zombie in the corner of the sofa than not here at all!! I also know how loved I am!! So maybe now you understand my confusion as to why I get this!!

So what do I do to help myself, I set a task everyday, something I have to do or should try to do. Usually I am quite happy to spend a whole morning down the garden or cooking, sewing, knitting or whatever. I am lucky if I can manage half an hour at the moment, so that is what I do and today it is the turn of the Lime Marmalade. This takes alot longer than half an hour, but I can break it up, so last night I gathered the ingredients

such lovely cheerful colours!

I then squeezed all the lemons and limes and put the lime skins through the mincer (I don't like large rind in my marmalade)then put the minced rinds into the juice to soak over night!

This morning I popped it all in a pan, in the bag are the membranes and pips of the lemons and limes.

Still looks a nice colour!

Then I boiled it for 1 hour before removing the bag and adding the sugar. Now the photo does not really do this justice because it still looks a good colour here but to be honest it looks like 'vomit'!!!!!

I did the saucer test, well in my case the small plate test,to see if it had reached setting point. I also took the opportunity to taste it! My goodness it will certainly wake you up, hubby won't like it, I think it will be too bitter for him!

then poured it into the jars.

and now a close up!

Next time I won't put so much of the rind in! Can't wait to taste it, maybe I will have a piece of toast for lunch!!!!!!

So for coffee break I wandered to my favourite spot in the garden and what I do love to see apart from sunshine, is washing on the line

chickens enjoying themselves, even though they have wrecked the garden

look at all the frogs spawn. The lump I showed you the other day has grown and is getting tails!!

I will keep an eye on it this weekend and let you know how they grow! Right I'm off to have lunch down the garden, catch you all later!!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Amble down the Garden! (again)

The sun is out!!!!!!!! The wind is bitter!!! and I have hung the washing out, which means it will rain again soon!!!! On the radio on the way to school this morning the Enviroment Agency is warning us to be careful with our use of water incase we have a dry spring and summer???????????????? What???????????????????????? Hrmph!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anyway I am supposed to be making Lime Marmalade today and guess what? I'm not!! How bad am I!!!!!! Tori has shared her germs and I'm feeling abit yuk, cold/aches etc! So I ambled down the garden and took some photos on the way!!!

Looks a right mess doesn't it!The sky is grey now but the sun is out! I could really do with jet washing the patio to get rid of the grime but I worry about the amount of water it will use to do it!!!!!

The Caster Oil plant in the corner of the patio has done well this winter

look another little visitor

I think I have alot of ladybirds because of this ivy above the coal bunkers

I planted it many, many years ago to hide the ugly grey block wall and then as we got the coal bunkers I encouraged it to hide those too. The only problem is, that is also home to millions of slugs and snails!!!! I could do with getting rid of it but the advantages out weigh the disadvantages, its evergreen and hides a really ugly wall. A new plant would take ages to cover this area plus I would need trellis or wires and I'm not sure how good that wall actually is!! Best left alone I think!! Anyway I have planted a clematis to climb up through it, so hopefully we shall have some colour this year!!

The Trachycarpus has faired well this winter considering all the wind we have had. I think I need to re-pot it this year. Hubby and I bought this about 2-3 years ago in a nursery down a country lane somewhere and we got it for a song. The little plant pot man was a present from my youngest niece Emily!

I am now stood at the end of the chicken run looking back up the garden

looks a right mess! I know I need to cut back the old growth it would make it look alot better. Really I need to totally redo this bed because there are some really good plants in here, that have not grown to their potential because of the 4 enormous Silver Birch that are on the right hand boundary of my right hand neighbours garden, I think they must be close to 40ft now and her garden at this point is only 13ft wide!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now one of my most favourite spots in the garden

Time wasters patio!! Looking back up the garden!!

Joanna if you look over the fence and to the left of the all white dormer window, you can see a silver tube with a hat on it, that is the flue to my Rayburn! Although I have chimney's, the chimney to the kitchen had been taken out before we moved in, so we had to have one built, which is far from ideal!!!

Between the concrete post and the arch is where the chickens will be moved too, going back up the garden.

Have you had enough or would you like to see whats going on in the greenhouse! Its really full at the moment.....

the onions are going totally mad...

sweetpeas are coming along nicely

and I have started some more for my friend, up the road.

Here are some Cornflower Rothrockii which seem to be a cross between a thistle and a cornflower and some Black Hollyhocks

My Tree Fern behind a dead looking banana with the fig to the right of the banana

the tree fern was another bargain, we picked up for our wedding anniversary present a couple of years back, I think it cost £30!!! Underneath and behind the tree fern are Cannas, but this is quite a cold corner of the greenhouse.

In the other corner

are 2 Egyptian Paparus which I bought cheaply at the end of last year and didn't get in, also an Elephants Ear's plant and another Canna.
Under the potting bench are more Canna's and a fuscia

and of course pride of place in the middle of the greenhouse is the ever growing Brugmansia

with the new baby one on the shelf behind it!!

Just so you know how nuts we are about tropical plants

one or two books we have on the subject!!!!!

Oh! I always knew I was unique!!
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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Storms, Seedlings & Socks!!!

I was woken by thunder and lightning this morning!! The wind and the rain have been awful too!!! As you know wednesday is cleaning out chickens day!!! Well not today, sorry its too wet! So I went down and put arm bands on them to make sure they floated just incase it got any worse!!
Then dashed straight back inside!!

Just look at the sky...

This was at 07.00 this morning! and this was the next lot coming over...

and it has been like that all morning!! Now I was supposed to be preparing the new chicken run area this week, ready for the move at the weekend, but it is just so wet! I have some large shrubs that need to be moved before it gets too warm but that will have to wait because its a quagmire out there, or will be if I start digging!!

Everything in the propagator is coming along nicely, from there they get moved to the windowsill, where I wrap some cardboard in foil which helps reflect the light and stops the seedlings leaning so much...

These 2 photos, where taken at 07.30 this morning without the flash which is why they are quite dark!! But you can see nothing is straining for the light! I have Tomatoes Gardeners Delight, Black Cherry and Roma Plum, also Peppers, Chillies and some Basil.
Upstairs I have this lot (this was taken about mid-day)

the ginger for the Pip Challenge

the Dates..

and something called a Sensitive plant which looks like this

but after you've touched it does this..

they are still tiny yet. Tori grew some a couple of years back and it grew quite large, then she killed it by forgetting to water it!!!!

I'm getting 'stir crazy' being in all the time! I don't know how you people in Canada & USA cope with all that snow and being stuck in? Theres only so much housework you can do, but lets be honest who wants to do housework? Not me!!

I am knitting something for my little nieces birthday in April! I need to find something else to knit, but haven't been inspired yet! Someone suggested I knit socks?? Mmm! Not sure about that! I think I would be very upset if they got holes in, cos my lot are quite hard on socks!!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Treat or Trick!!!!

I am fed up with all this rain!!! I know we need it but really, is there no way it could be arranged to rain at night, then at least we could go out to play in the day. Serves me right really I should have played out yesterday!!!

So what do you do on a rainy day??????????????????? Have a treat!!

Go to the Garden Centre to spend the Garden Vouchers you got for your birthday!!!! I do enjoy wandering around looking at all the lovely plants, anyway you may or maynot know that I/We like tropical plants! Having a south facing patio helps although are garden appears to have a micro climate all of its own!! Anyway I found something I quite liked @Cordyline Australlis'

although slightly out of my price range!!!!! So I went and had a word with the staff to check how hardy it is and they said it was very hardy! So what do you do when you can't afford the big one????

Buy a smaller one...... now this one I can afford........ but I did what I normally do when I'm not 100% sure I walked away and went to another garden centre!!! I have been looking on the internet and interestingly they are only hardy once over 4ft!!! They grow 9 -12 inches a year so I wouldn't have to wait too long till it was really big!! MMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At the other garden centre I have been a teeny, weeny bit sneaky, but don't tell hubby!! He raves about the 'Brugmansia' we have and along with the bananas I think is his favourite tropical plant!! Anyway I bought

another one!!! Different colour and it has a double petal. I think he will really like it, the only problem is how big it grows!!!!! How will I fit it in the greenhouse next winter, oh! dear!

so its now potted up! I wonder how we will get round the problem of the small greenhouse and all these lovely tropical plants next winter??? EErrrrrmmmm!!!!!!Do you think this trick will work?????

I still came home with my vouchers! Which is such a pain as it means I will have to go to another Garden Centre some other time, oh phewy!!! ;)

We have a rookery at the end of the road and its interesting to see where abouts in the tree they nest each year

This is their first build, I think its like a practice run becuase for some unknown reason to me they will re-build and then nest!!! They are very low compared to other years, wonder what that means in folk lore???

Also I thought you might be interested to see how the frog spawn is coming along from this to ....

I also can't believe how much there is, this is just a small amount of it!! I will keep you posted!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Likes & Dislikes!!!

There are days when you really dislike lots of things you normally like!!!

For example I love my Rayburn (normally)but today having let it out last night, I had another battle to get the firebricks back in!!! For all future owners of Rayburns, I can assure you it is not normally like this! After it has cooled they should just slot in!!! But for some unknown reason mine don't! I had a battle to get them out at the end of last year as well, so something is not right somewhere!! I think I will have to get 'the man' in during the summer!!! But because I had to scrub the sides with a wirebrush etc just look at the mess and the dust

Now this layer of dust has covered everything, and I mean everything in the kitchen so I have had to wash down all the surfaces, cupboards, shelves, toaster, kettle and other items normally left out plus washed the floor, hoovered and dusted the dining room (as its part of my kitchen). The only thing I haven't done, because I can't bring myself to do it, is along the tops of the cupboards, I will have to do those in the summer!

How can something as lovely,cuddly and adorable as this (I'm talking about the cat!!)

cause me so much grief!!!!! Well its done with these.....

he always comes in with the most dirty feet! Even Sassy's aren't as bad as this! The thing is he likes to dry them off on 'you'! So there you are minding your own business, drinking coffee and reading/knitting or what ever and plonk! he arrives on your lap walks all over you (if you haven't thrown him off first) wipes off all the mud and only once he's practically dry will he go and lie in his favourite spot!!!!!!!!!!

I used to have a Draylon suite and I must admit towards the end of its years it had an odd aroma! When you look at the state of my leather suite you can understand why!!

Now I don't want you all to think that I don't do housework, I do (sometimes)just not as often as I probably should do, theres loads more interesting stuff to do, but these chairs had been cleaned on Friday so thats 2 days worth of cat prints, no longer, honest!!!! But at least now I can wipe the mud off!!!
Actually this reminds me of a story Kathryn told me, she was busily working on her computer in her room, when she was hit on the back of the head by something, as she turned round another 'something' came flying past her and either stuck to the wall or her computer screen, it turned out to be the mud off Sassys feet that she was loosening with her teeth and as she pulled it her leg sort of boing off and the mud flew across the room in a catapult (no pun intended) sort of motion!! So they are both as bad as one another!!!

But how can you not love this

or this

Went back to the specialist today, as things aren't right yet he wants to give things abit longer to heal and see me in 2 months (for free!!!)then we will decide where to go from there!! I am releaved as I thought he might have said,'sorry I can do no more for you!!'

Kathryn has gone back to Uni and Tori is back from Amsterdam tonight!

Oh and this is just for Vallen, I would take up the challenge to show you where we live, but theres not alot around! Our house is in the group of houses in the middle of this picture!!!!