Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Garden catch up

Aren't these gorgeous?  The usual plant stall was at Malvern Fleamarket last Sunday, and I fell in love with these beautiful bronze Rudbeckia (I think it's called "Toto").  I think I will put it in a tub as it stands a better chance of survival through the winter then.

Yesterday I got going down in the little patio garden that was mum's.  The rambler rose, Banksia normalis, had gone mad, fallen off the wall, and all the biggest branches were growing outwards, so I have hacked it back HARD (a saw job) and have just a small portion of it going up the wall, but I need to get the ladder out and put some vine eyes in higher up to keep it out of the window.  It's a beautiful rose, with a lovely scent, but a bit . . . enthusiastic in its growing habits!

I also took the saw to the lilac tree, which was shading everything out.  We now have a very big bonfire at the bottom of the yard (getting very wet today, I might add).  I shall rebuild the collapsing slate bed, top it up with compost, and plant up with bulbs for the spring.

Found! One of the roof sheets we had (buried) about the place.  Unfortunately Keith managed to sprain his wrist as he turned this over, so the actual roof repair is on hold.

Finally, I treated myself to this new cast iron casserole (20cm size).  When I make the no-knead 5 minute bread, I have been baking it in my oval Le Creuset casserole, but it is too big and the loaf turns out shallow.  I was following some 2nd hand Le Creuset pans on Ebay, but they were going for around £35 including postage, and for £29.99 I could buy this one.  This is made by Berndes.  I read the reviews and it looks like it should do what I want as someone else had bought it to bake bread in.  I shall report back.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Life after Malvern

An October photograph of the Malvern Hills.

Morning all.  Fairly shattered today after 20,000+ steps walked around Malvern Fleamarket yesterday, and all that driving.  Despite sleeping very deeply last night, I woke at . . . 3.30 a.m. again, and heard the tick of the (turned off) alarm as it hit 3.40, which is when we got up yesterday.  We were at Malvern a couple of minutes after 7, as it was a good run through, and we hardly saw any other traffic.  We noticed that the car park was a lot less full than usual - perhaps it is because folk are on their holidays, or else the dealers are having a hard time of things and were there selling instead of buying!

We were lucky with the weather, and it didn't rain a drop all the time we were there, despite a weather forecast suggesting thunderstorms every couple of hours.  As we were driving back, going towards Hereford, it did rain.  We pulled into a layby, since we have been having a problem with the driver's side wiper, which keeps falling off (NOT good in the rain!) and so we are going to see if a full replacement arm will do the trick.  The wipers have been a problem in the past with the Doblo (only piece of poor design on it) and we had two episodes of wiper failure in torrential rain on the motorway (NOT recommended) and had to replace the mechanism a few years back.

We had some good buys yesterday, and saw lots of dealer friends, either buying or selling there.  My purchases are carefully sidelined for the next 2 day Antiques Fair at the Botanic Gardens in September.  I've never seen one of these before - it's meant to be a Woodpecker (but looks more like a Pterodactyl!) and he grabs a toothpick when you tip him forward - or rather, he would have done in his past.  He is a little the worse for wear now!  A tick in the "different" category.

Now it is back to the list of jobs to carry on with here.  Rain stopped us cutting back the overgrowth by the chicken shed to get at the roof sheets, so I may go out and start clearing a way through after breakfast.

As we were relatively early leaving Malvern, we decided to check out the car boot sale in Ledbury, and I got a good (brand new) book on Beetles for £1, as the Collins Gem guide I have isn't at all detailed.  Then I came across an early and unusual (rare as hen's teeth I think) Torquay Pottery bowl.  I just had to have it and it came home with me.  He wanted £20, I offered £10, and got it.

Update on this:  I've checked it with the Torquay Pottery Collectors' Club and they say it is an Exeter piece (goody, have just a few of those and cherish them).

Saturday, 22 July 2017

I'm over it . . .

. . . the disappointment, that is.  The first week I was very positive and upbeat, but when a response to the viewing had to be prised out of the viewers after 4 days (they didn't answer their phone or emails), then you know they are not mad-keen, but I held the faith. I had slight misgivings about their country credibility when the Mrs (and her mother) turned up in smart WHITE trousers (to view a smallholding!)  and the Mrs refused to walk through the grass to see the back of the house.  Then the Mother was saying how FAR it was from the school (3 miles, but our children were picked up at the gate by the school taxi, so where's the problem there?) and her son-in-law came from the city and how would he cope living here?  Well, we're both from the city, and we have coped perfectly well!  They had come in over the top, as the Sat Nav stupidly brings folk that way if they are travelling from Carmarthen.  The Mother was saying how FAR it was away from the main road and how NARROW the lanes are.  Hmmm - you're meant to have grown up on a farm in the middle of nowhere in Wales.  Really?

Now, it's onwards and upwards.  This morning I shall chivvy Keith into putting up the new lights, and we will cut back the overgrowth by the side of the poultry house and blow the dust off the roofing sheets.

I have had the cherries drying over night - when I was in the bathroom around 2 a.m. they smelt WONDERFUL.  Now they are sticky, but will probably take the full 24 hours than the 20 - 24 it said.  They were a bit labour intensive, as first of all I had to put them in a water and vinegar bath to remove any horrid spray residue.  Then scramble them around in same bath, and then rinse them off.  Then I had to put them, 1lb at a time, in a litre of boiling water for 30 - 45 seconds (I chose the latter).  Then drain them and put them straight into a litre of water with ascorbic/citric acid in for 10 minutes.  I only had 1000mg tablets of Vitamin C so used one of these.  Then they had to be drained and pitted and then laid out on the trays in the dehydrator.  Apparently they have a really intense flavour and are worth all the faff.  I shall let you know in due course.

My Artisan (hah!) Beer Bread was really tasty.  The only "Dutch Oven" I have is my Le Creuset oval casserole, which is too large for the amount of dough I am making, so I am following a few 2nd hand Le Creuset and Le Creuset style round casseroles on Fleabay.  Fingers crossed I get one at a sensible price.

I started my usual Panny breadmaker loaf this morning, half white and half Oat flour.  This is SO tasty and is our favourite bread.

Right, that's it.  I need to put some slap on and get away for the weekend paper.  Gabby, our middle daughter, is coming to visit us this morning, so we have that to look forward to.

Friday, 21 July 2017

And then it rained . . .

. . . and boy has it rained today, pelted down all morning, and guess what, we found a big hole in the Back Place (lean-to storage) roof.  Courtesy of the scaffolders we had here.  They had taken the scaffolding down when we were out for the day, and you can't see it from outside, only above or below.  It's in the furthest section, where we don't go unless we need paint anyway, but it will mean replacing the roof sheet.  Fortunately we have some, but they are in the undergrowth at the side of the chicken shed at the moment, so when it has stopped raining, we will dig them out and it's a job for next week.  As will be replacing the lights down in what was mum's bed sitting room.  We found some wall lights which also double as ceiling lights, as they have a swivel on them, and got 4 of those and got some some Much Better Bulbs to go in them.  I wouldn't have chosen the finish that my husband did, but I was past arguing by that point (he was muttering about having some "useful lights he had put in the shed a few years back" which he could use instead, and rather than have words with him in the shop, I just went with the flow!!)  Men . . .

I think I need a couple of views of a dry day at Tretower recently to cheer me up.

Today I am up to my ears in fruit which needs dealing with.  From the Abergwili £1 boxes yesterday I picked up purple plums (about 8 lbs of them). Some have been stewed up to be frozen, and the rest I will probably make chutney with, as today it was cherries from there, 2 punnets of very ripe ones for £1, so I got 4. I'll have to stew those up tonight. Yesterday's rhubarb is cooked and ready to be eaten as desserts for the next few days.

I also started Beer Bread this morning - in fact, it is a no-knead 5 minute Artisan Beer Bread, and it is slowly developing down in the kitchen now. Should be ready about bed-time, which is never good as freshly baked bread smells SO wonderful!  I will take a photo tomorrow.

I am now pondering about drying the cherries rather than cooking them (need more room in the freezer really).  I will need to pit them, but I have a cherry stoner in my drawer, so watch this space.

I dried the very few Redcurrants I had, and the last picking of Blackcurrants last week.  Took much longer than expected, but they have dried nicely and are now in a glass storage jar.   I hate using plastic storage for anything, and collect good sized glass jars when I see them at car boot sales etc. 

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Our house - for Weaver of Grass

There you go Pat - I just dashed out the front to take a couple of photos for you.  It looks better on Profile Homes (the agents in charge of selling it).

From the paddock side.  Unfortunately the several mixes of buckets of yellow limewash weren't quite the exact match!  By the time it had dried, and we discovered the problem, they were onto the next job . . .

The South side of the house.  A similar paling of paint on the end gable wall.  The dark bit around the window was where we had a leak, which couldn't be dealt with until they had viewed.

It should give you an idea anyway - and as I said, the photos on the Profile Homes site give you a better idea.

WIld flowers near Brecon and update with a PINK Nasturtium

Above and a close up below: Rosebay Willowherb.  Well, I have just spoken to the Agents and they said, abandon hope, basically.  The folk who viewed won't return phone calls or answer emails, so were obviously suited elsewhere.  Onwards and upwards I guess . . . 

We had a long day yesterday, as we went to auction at Wotton-under-Edge again (we go most months), and came home with some more furniture to go in the Unit.  We drive up on the motorway, and that takes us about 2 hours.  We have lunch in Wotton, go around the charity shops, pack our purchases into the car, and drive home via the scenic route, x-country to Gloucester, then through the Forest of Dean to Monmouth, on to Abergavenny and back home along the A40, which we know like the back of our hands.  We count ourselves so fortunate to get out and about like this, and to travel through the Brecon Beacons every week - the scenery is stupendous - is something we never tire of.

We are off to price up a revamp of the shower room now . . .  Hmm, that didn't take long.  We went to B&Q and they had very little stock and high prices.  Back to the Internet now.  We did at least buy two new wall lights to go down in the old dairy (well the bit of it that was mum's bedsitting room).   The lights in there are very shabby and these are uplighters so will give better lighting.  Replacement ceiling lights are next.

I think this is Musk Mallow (found growing on a verge.  It's very common this time of year.)

Common Betony, above and below.  It grows prolifically along the verges round here.  Sometimes you find a white variant.

Common Knapweed - though I know them at Hardheads.

Yarrow (Achillea).  I bought a "tame" pinky one for the garden this week.

This is about the only survivor of a packet of pink Nasturtiums (I always like to try new colours in them though I have to say it is the yellow and the orange ones which are rampant and the other colours aren't very good at setting much seed).  I had some in a hanging basket but got every colour bar pink, so they're not exactly true to colour. 

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Catching up

We had to meet up with someone in Hay-on-Wye last Saturday.  Here is the Cheese Market with a colourful display of baskets, and some really delicious baked goods inside too - artisan bread as well as "buns".  The castle never changes . . .

I was fortunate to find this Fruit Press (something I have wanted for a while) for just £5, brand new, in the Oxfam sale in the Buttermarket.

It needed to be fastened to a wooden base, and so Keith went through his woodpile and found this spalled plank to use - just the right size.

Below: some reading matter.  I've now read the first two, and am thoroughly enjoying the Peter May novel.  He writes SO well.  Back later - I have to take something to the post and take some photos of the next round of "stuff" to clear on Ebay.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Permission to be weary

Above and below: On dry days last week, I got out in the garden - it was time to declare war on the Paul's Himalayan Musk.  No before photos, but take it from me, it had got half way across the apple tree in the middle of the garden and was heading for the house!  Action was needed.

I treated myself to this unusual plant at the Car Boot Sale last week ; - Podophyllum "Spotty Dotty".  It likes shade.  It has been transplanted into a bigger pot now it's home rather than being planted in the ground - you never know, like the roses it may eventually travel with us to a new home.  I live in hope.

Phlox "Blue Paradise".  Another temporary planting/placement.  As we had to replace some rotten trellis, and cut back lots of undergrowth (!), this is in a gap, though scarcely filling it.

We went to two wet car boot sales this morning, but bought nothing.  We have had a busy few days since Wednesday - Abergavenny Fleamarket and Tretower Castle & Court; viewing an auction; attending an auction for hours on end whilst the Other Half was doing a tiny Flea a few miles away, back to the same area yesterday to meet up with a client, and today up early for the car boot sales.  Tomorrow is a bye day, and then the rest of the week is pretty well spoken for already!  SO many things to get on with, but only one early start.

I've caught up with this week's Archer's Omnibus whilst baking a Chocolate Apple Ginger Cake for the freezer. 

There are more Tretower photos but as folk seem a bit underwhelmed with them, I shall leave them.  History isn't everyone's cup of tea.  Right, lunch is called for.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Tretower Court

I couldn't resist these Hollyhocks. The ones I have planted just have leaves and won't flower till next year.

It was so peaceful in the garden.  The water just bubbled up into the top of the bowl. 

Inside Tretower Court, from the Kitchen and side rooms where bread and ale were made and stored, into the Hall, where Grand Dining happened.  We have been out all day, late back, it's 8.30 p.m. now and I haven't sat down to rest yet, so will be back tomorrow with more photos and words (history).

This is a Medieval grain bin.  My husband is making me one from reclaimed timber (we have a huge stable-full!).  Mine is a bit bigger than this and will hold all my flour supplies when it is finally finished.

Pretend loaves of bread.  They looked very convincing though.

This beautiful cupboard was in the main Hall.

The Top Table.  Isn't it fabulous?  The tapestry behind is a painted piece of heavy fabric.

One of the lesser side tables,  I like the size of that Ale Jug!

Bread and what could be pottage on another side table.  "A mess of herbs" anyway!  I like the wooden beakers.

Roast Suckling Pig anyone?  Isn't the green glass divine?  Last time I was in York I saw some for sale in one of the shops associated with a Medieval building there.  Temptation!

Or a slice of calf's head perhaps?

A beautiful Aumbrey which had been painted.  LOVE the lock and the butterfly hinges.  Dare I say I'd like one of these too?!

Right, back later with some of the history of this beautiful building.