Friday, 28 April 2017

There was a time....

When I would have loads of posts stacked up, waiting to be published, but not at the moment. I seem to feel as though I have said it many times before:(

I think it is the chilly weather combined with a slow start on everything for Spring, that's my excuse anyway.

Having looked at the weather forecast, it seems the last of the frosty nights have gone and we will be back to normal for the start of May.

Still no peas, that is the third sowing that has failed, must just have been too cold and wet. The tomatoes are back out in the mini greenhouse so that saves me a job.

Just been food shopping. Is it me or are the prices still rising? Having raised my weekly budget, I may have to raise it again, but I have been topping up on things a little that had run out and not been topped up as per normal.

Also, we have run out of homemade frozen meals so that is odd as well. Ah well, have a grand extended weekend everyone!

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Weather & tennis

I decided in the end to bring the tomatoes in overnight and take them back out each morning once the mini greenhouse warms up a little - it will be just too cold overnight, despite fleece, for the next few nights. I shall be glad once these frosty nights disappear so the garden can get on with things. It is all stop and start.

I gave up watching Dan Evans yesterday as he was 4-1 down - big mistake. DB carried on listening to the match and Dan came back to win. That will teach me! I caught up with the replay later on. A close run thing but a good win in the end. Kyle also won but they are both playing very good players in the next round so time will tell.

Unfortunately, Jamie and Bruno lost:(

Been for chiro today, earlier than planned due to some sort of weird cramp in my back and ribs. For the most part it has eased off but I had been in pain for a few weeks, so hopefully, it will now go away.

More tennis to watch - on replay on tennis tv. I miss being able to watch our women play on the same place, but it has brought the monthly cost down to £9.99 so very good value now. Also, you only have to pay for the months you want to watch!

Monday, 24 April 2017

The Importance of...

Annual eye tests!

I have my eyes checked every year without fail. Optometrists are very well trained to pick up all manner of health issues, that often show up in the eyes first, before the rest of the body protests.

So far, I have been referred to the hospital eye department on three separate occasions, each issue requiring between 1 and 2 years of monitoring before being discharged.

The same also applied to DB.

This time I mentioned that sometimes when watching tv, I feel as though I am blinking a lot to clear my vision. Tests appeared to show I may need glasses to watch tv (or buy a larger screen) as we sit nearly 15 feet away from it!

Anyhow, I chose cheap frames, dismissed all the extras (and their costs) as the glasses normally come free with any coatings I generally need. I will get one pair for reading and one for distance. Despite what I have said above, I am not sure the distance ones will help but we shall see.

All in all £52 due to special offers on at the time of my visit.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Cold weather ahoy!

Welcome to JoJo W via Bloglovin.

Well, Andy and Jamie are both out of Monte Carlo:( However, our other favourite tennis player David Goffin, knocked out Djokovic:) sorry if you follow Novak, but we cannot stand him.

Having just got my tomatoes out into the mini greenhouse and covered with fleece at night, I may have to bring them back in soon as we are forecast two or more freezing nights ahead. I don't think even fleece will protect them at that level of coldness.

More soup making methinks!

Have agreat weekend everyone.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

New header and tennis...

There were loads of lambs in the fields when we were out on a walk this week so thought I would put a lovely spring picture of them on the blog header. There was also a stray lamb outside the fence trying hard to get back in, despite there being no sign of its mother.

We asked several people and no-one knew who the farmer was. Eventually, we ended up in a local cafe and she did know and phoned him to let him know. We were very worried for it in case a fox got it overnight. So much so that we spent some time trying to get it back in, but to no avail.

Hopefully he managed to catch it as it was very fast!

Andy has just gone out of the Monte Carlo tournament. Not surprising really, he was 4-0 up in the final set and then seemed to lose concentration. He only just won his last match so still not up to scratch and serving still not right.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Busy early...

By 09:15, I had got the washing washed and on the line and our weekly loaf of gf bread made and rising.

The sun keeps disappearing but there is enough wind to dry the washing providing we don't get any showers.

I shall make some lamb and carrot soup for lunch today, and we will be finishing off some pork chilli for tea.

Herewith the centre part of our front gravel garden:
The euphorbia bracts (left) are just appearing but nothing else in flower at the moment, now that the daffs and snowdrops have gone over. I really must go and stake the peony (one of five) at the top before it gets much bigger.

We have been scraping moss off our rear garden back path and grubbing out the weeds in the cracks of the brick paving. This path hardly gets any sun this time of year, hence the moss.

Monday, 17 April 2017


A few years ago, we used to have one of those 4 tier greenhouses that had a zip opening front to it. The cover has long since gone but I kept the shelves. This year, in my bean and pea bed, I have put them between the rows of broad beans:

Each one was tied to a cane, in three places down each side, with tie wraps, then the cane pushed into the ground. I still have another one to use where the little trays of beetroot seedlings are sitting at the rear of the pictures.

Up these, I am planning on growing dwarf peas, with just one one row sown each side so the bed doesn't become a tangled mess.

Hopefully it works as I don't really have access to twigs to support any peas. The net covers are temporary to keep off the pidgeons until everything gets a bit more established!

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Hybrid Simnel Bara Brith cake for Easter

I added two extra ingredients to my Bara Brith recipe, see Gluten Free tab above, to create a hybrid cake for Easter. Following the recipe, the fine zest of a whole orange was added to the mixture, it smelled wonderful.

After placing half the mixture in the prepared 2lb loaf tin, I then added a layer of bought marzipan, and cut some in slices about 1/2cm in thickness:

The rest of the cake mixture was put on top of the marzipan, and the top smoothed off. It was baked as per the temperature and 5 minutes longer than the time on the Bara Brith recipe.

Here it is, cut in half:
We shared half a slice each once it had cooled. The taste and texture is very nice. Half was frozen so we don't overindulge. I have eaten a small Easter egg which I found way too sweet and sickly. The rest of that is also in the freezer. It is amazing how reducing your calories changes how you view sweet things!

Friday, 14 April 2017

Adapting Bara Brith to Gluten Free

My first attempt at simply substituting normal flour for GF wasn't too bad at all. It tasted nice but the texture was slightly dry. Here it is the next day:
Here is the recipe for my second attempt - enough for a 2lb loaf tin:

250g gluten free flour (I used mix A from this page, which I adapted slightly exchanging 100g of the white rice flour for 100g of sorghum flour, in an effort to reduce the use of rice flour. You can of course try using a bought in flour if you wish).

40g ground almonds
110g soft brown sugar
110g butter
40ml to 60ml of buttermilk or watered down plain yoghurt
150g dried fruit of your choice, steeped in 120ml hot tea
50g diced ready to eat prunes
3/4 tsp gf bicarb of soda
3/4 tsp cream of tartar
2 eggs - beaten
1 tablespoon black treacle
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp Xanthan gum

Rub the butter into the flour blend. Add the bicarb of soda, cream of tartar, sugar, mixed spice and stir well.
Add the steeped dried fruit and any tea leftover from steeping, plus the diced prunes.
Beat and add the eggs, black treacle and lemon juice.
Beat together very well.

Add about half of the buttermilk or watered down yoghurt and continuing beating until a very soft dropping mixture is obtained.
Leave to sit for a few minutes for the flours and xanthan gum to activate. If the mixture seems a little too firm, add the rest of the buttermilk or yoghurt.

Put into a lined 2lb loaf tin.

Bake at 160C for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, checking after an hour. Check to see if done by inserting a skewer into the centre. If no mixture sticks, it is ready.
Leave to cool for 10 minutes in the tin before removing paper and leaving to go cold on a cooling rack.

If you fancy having a go, let me know what you think. We think it is a good substitute for the real thing but does not have quite the same texture due to lack of gluten.

Thursday, 13 April 2017


We decided to shop a day early to avoid Good Friday. In front of us at the checkout in Lidl, was a youngish lady. Her part of the conveyor belt was covered in various assortments of sweets. Her bill came to £51.44. I can only hope she was buying for a school egg hunt but as most of them were not eggs, maybe not.

The mind boggles!

Our bill came to just over £18 with another £13 being spent elsewhere. A quarter of the latter bill was for a large pork pie, an occasional treat.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Kitchen Floor

Over the years, we have had various flooring in the kitchen, all of which, at some time or the other has been damaged, requiring it to be replaced.

A few years ago, for warmth and comfort, we elected to use carpet tiles with a very flat loop pile, easy to hoover and clean. It was brown in the previous kitchen.

Now we have changed the doors, plinths and cornice/pelmets, painted the walls, the carpet just didn't look right and seemed to drag the new look down.

Off we went and bought a few samples to choose the new colour, a kind of mid range green. Here it is starting to get laid:

And finished:
Although our boiler is in the kitchen, on the whole in winter, it is very cold in there and the carpet tiles help insulate it. I know lots of people don't agree with carpet in the kitchen but for us, it works. It gets hoovered up every few days to remove crumbs and is also regularly cleaned.

When the grand dogs visit they are not allowed in the kitchen for safety reasons, and everyone entering the house removes their shoes (both front and back), so hardly any dirt gets put on them.

Herewith a few more cupboard shots:

Had to put the blinds down as it was too bright for the camera to cope with!

Monday, 10 April 2017

War Diary Year VII

Just to let you know that February and March have been added to the War Diary tab above. Just click on the link that takes you to Year VII and scroll down to find it.

Hope you enjoy it!

Friday, 7 April 2017


For the first time, since moving here and putting in ponds, we have no frog spawn:(

Slowly but surely, We have gone from dozens of frogs making an unearthly racket in the early hours to hardly any. There were some last year but obviously they haven't found a mate.

I think I read somewhere that they were declining due to some kind of disease. Being organic, I normally rely on them to help with a bit of slug control.

Weeding continues on, bit by bit, the front is looking better but no doubt, by the time it is finished, it will be time to start again! Frothy fruit blossom continues to open outback and looks lovely. It is so dry here that I had to water all the roses which were slightly droopy.

Davis Cup starts today, keeping my fingers crossed but even a depleted French team is still better than us on clay - come on the lads.

Have a lovely weekend everyone.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

A bit of sea air...

Welcome to FDD via Bloglovin.

The other day, we decided to drive to Hunstanton to get some sea air. The tide was just 1/2 an hour from being fully in and the sea was almost as flat as a mill pond:

They have won some lottery money and are busy rebuilding the shelters, esplanade, new amenities to play with such as this playground (note the red stripe in the background which we are pleased to say, is the old fashioned Wicksteed rocking horse they have saved and moved) and a new mini 9 hole golf area:

The cliffs looked as good as ever:
The high tide does cover the rather slippery rocks and pools so paddling is not advised when you can't see them as it would be very easy to get a foot stuck!

We walked up the green to partake of chips and curry sauce, sitting on the seats near the front shops and looking out to sea. We then walked down to the front to enjoy a nice ice cream. A lovely hour or two. We both felt tired for the rest of the day and neither of us slept particularly well but hey ho - who cares:)

Tuesday, 4 April 2017


I feel as though I have been weeding for months, due to the milder than usual Winter weather. Not so of course as I wasn't actually weeding in the winter!

The blasted things are popping up all over the place and I can only weed for 20 or 30 minutes before my back protests. That is despite weeding on all fours and stretching my back intermittently. Having a liner on top of the soil, plus gravel, is supposed to reduce the work but that isn't proving true!

I potted on my tomatoes yesterday, they are still in the conservatory, along with a few peppers. My first row of radish is up as are the first few broad beans. Other veg have been sown, but so far, have not put in much of an appearance.

DB has kindly widened and lengthened the foot rests on my Maxi climber so I am back on it now after a rest and it just feels more comfortable. 100 steps twice a day for now to see how my knee responds although to be fair, I am not sure it was the climber that was to blame as I have had the problem intermittently for years.

I am really looking forward to the Davis Cup tie this weekend, beginning on Friday.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Second blanket and weight loss update

Having enjoyed (and still enjoying) my first crocheted blanket, I thought I would start another one, ready for next year.

I already have enough squares for one half of it, in various stages of completion. Herewith its 'map':
The gap on the bottom row has now been finished with another pale purple. I am currently putting the border on those without one, then each row will be joined together. When all four rows are joined, it will have its top line of the peach colour to make it fit better into our room.

We have been watching what we have been eating for about 10 weeks now. I am pleased to say I have lost 8lb and DB 12lb. My old rather baggy jeans have been put into the recycle bag for use as something else and I now have two new pairs. We both feel better but as I have just gone back onto my beta blockers, I hope it doesn't pile back on!