Monday, 31 March 2014

Statistics

Statistics.
I'm not really interested in them.
Except for the ones on this blog. They are fun to look at.

Do you know each post I write is usually viewed by between 200 and 450 people.

Each day there are over 1000 page views.

Rather weirdly the most viewed page was on the 30th of November and was about the Christmas Decoration that I bought for 50p. It's been viewed 1837 times. Why?

My Simple Living Rules We Will Live By post on December 28th has been viewed 731 times

The least viewed post was way back on June 25th when only 52 people popped in to look.

The blog is looked at by people in 10 different Countries.

People are most interested in blogs about our budget, frugal living and recipes.



Well, that's filled a post for the last day of March without too much effort!


Back tomorrow - Review of the Month Day.
Sue
PS welcome to rgnlady, a new follower on Google friends.
Still no sign of small missing cat.





Sunday, 30 March 2014

A bad weekend for one cat but a good weekend for gardening

Really bad news on the cat front - Mabel has vanished.
She was the dark tortoiseshell and was incredibly timid. If we went into a room, she went out and she wouldn't let us near to stroke her. Something must have spooked her and sent her out of the back door when it was open late yesterday afternoon ( we hadn't let either of them out outside yet and Mabel hadn't even looked outside). We've searched high and low, calling her but as she was afraid of people she probably wouldn't come anyway. We have left shed doors open so she can get in ( or out  ) and put food out for her, but no sightings.
Polly seems to have hardly noticed that Mabel has gone as they hadn't spent any time together since Polly became settled.

In between looking for Mabel lots of gardening done this weekend.

Broad bean plants planted and seeds sown
Parsnip and some beetroot seeds in

To save creaky knees and wonky backs a lot of our gardening work is done sitting down!
 Weeding done in the back flower garden
Another bed of early potatoes planted
 Brassica seedlings moved to coldframe
Last years runner bean roots dug out and beds cleared.
More lettuce, salad leaves and radishes sown in poly-tunnel.
And C worked for his customer in Leiston yesterday morning and came home with a cheque for the three mornings work he has completed for her recently.

I'd better go and have another look around outside, just in case Mabel is about, but being in the middle of open countryside it's difficult to know where to look.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Come with me to collect the eggs

Would you like to come with me around the field when I go to collect the eggs?
Under the honeysuckle arch, we'll follow the path through the vegetable garden


Turn right along the side of the workshop and hay shed. This is the driveway onto the campsite, they go round to the right, but we will go straight on up the field.
We've gone through that gate you could see and now we'll walk all the way up to the top of the field. Yes I know the pylons are ugly, but we all need electricity! And I would rather have them at the top of the field than a six lane motorway.
We'll go the pretty way, the pond is on the right - covered with duck weed and although the level drops it never dries out completely, and the overflow ditch is on the left, it will dry out soon if we don't have rain
Mind how you go! Careful as you cross the bridge.This is where the pond goes into the ditch. In summer there is no water beneath the sleeper. We didn't have duckweed until a few years ago now it covers the whole pond.
Round the back of the pond, almost under the pylons.This isn't really our land but as it's unusable no one bothers. We know who farms  the land all around us but no-one except the agent knows who it belongs too!
Here are the first group of chickens, they know I will throw some wheat in to keep them out of the way while I collect the eggs from the shed behind me and go in the run to top up their water.
Down the field a few yards and here are the second group, they are the oldest chickens. Their eggs are getting thin shelled and sometimes wrinkled. Once the 60 new young point-of-lay hens  we are buying next month have started laying these will go off to be ferret food! Sorry if that upsets you, but that's the reality of earning a living in the countryside.We can't afford to keep pet hens.
We'll go down the field now through the young trees we planted 3 or 4 years ago. The 25 silver birch are just coming in to leaf. We planted 100 Ash trees too but they may have the new Ash die-back virus which is sweeping through the Ash trees in the UK. They are always later coming into leaf than other trees.
Here are the third and youngest group of hens, among the young Ash trees. I've thrown the corn in and then I won't trip over them when I go in to collect their eggs from the shed. Yes, you can look back and see how far we've walked around the field. Its a four acre field and walking all round is about 400 yards.
Off the field now and onto the half of the campsite that we use mainly for tents, we've already cut the grass twice this year, it grows too quickly. Through that willow hedge on the right is the other part of the campsite. The trees in the centre of the picture we planted 20 years ago to form a little copse beside the campsite
Off the campsite and along the path that the campers follow when they come to the house to check in. You can see the Horse Chestnut leaves unfurling from their sticky buds.
The Quince trees are just coming into leaf and the primroses have been wonderful this year.


 Now we'll go in the back door and sort out all these eggs. There should be 7 dozen to go out for sale tomorrow.
I hope you enjoyed walking round the field with me, it's lovely when the sun is shining.

Welcome to Tilly Trotter,( love the name! have read the book!) follower 153 on Google friends, and Nichola is follow 122 on Bloglovin'.
Hope you enjoy your visits to our simple Suffolk Smallholding.

Thanks to lots of blogging friends for comments about the school nature table, wild flowers and other stuff yesterday.

Back Tomorrow

Sue























Friday, 28 March 2014

Taking a risk in the poly-tunnel

We are so lucky here. The sun has shone again, the temperature went up to 16 degrees C while Em at Dartmoor ramblings had snow on her photos and Ilona at Life After Money had rain this morning.

The early tomato seeds were sown at the same time as last year, but of course March was bitterly cold here last year, whereas this year the plants in the conservatory have shot up in the warmth. It was a case of either plant them out in the poly-tunnel with some fleece handy to cover them or pot them into even bigger pots. So 18 have gone out today and now I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we don't get any really hard frosts during April.

Today C has been fixing toilets and basins into the gents toilet shed, things are progressing nicely and another booking for just before Easter too - Good.

I had planned to take a photo of the tomato plants and also the leaves opening on our Horse Chestnut  tree but the battery was flat on the camera so that will have to wait until tomorrow.

 Seeing the sticky buds unfurling just takes me straight back 50 years to primary school. I went to a small two roomed school with 60 pupils and back then it was the norm to have a nature table, where we took in interesting things to display. At this time each year there would be vases full of Horse Chestnut sticky buds, primroses, violets, cowslips and something we called Five Fingers which I think were Oxslips or a wild primula/polyantha cross. To get to the wood where they grew we had  to walk  up a lane beside our house and then along the field edges probably a mile or so. We usually went with our next door neighbour and her daughter- I can't remember mum coming and certainly not Dad who would have been at work.
Here I am, aged about 4 or 5, round at our neighbours, just returned from a walk "up the woods" clutching the Five Fingers.



 We might have been  the cause of them dieing out in the wild!

( The car in the background was round the back of the garage/petrol station next door to our neighbour, it must have stood there for years as it certainly predates 1959/60 when this was taken)

Thanks to Jennifer, Dartford Warbler, Angela, Cro, Dc, Bridget, Fat Dormouse and Helen for comments yesterday about cheques, banking and other stuff.

Back Tomorrow

Sue

Thursday, 27 March 2014

I'm Hanging on to a low-tech world

Inside the front cover of my cheque book it says " It's a high-tech world, so why use a low tech cheque?"
Apparently  if I did my banking online I could transfer money, make payments and apply for a loan at 2am!!
Why would I want to ?  I'm asleep.
Using a cheque book puts me amongst the minority, and I still go into the bank too, despite them trying to persuade people to do everything via the cash machine or online. They need to cut back on staff so I guess the queues will just get longer.

We try to live a fairly low tech life here.
This computer is probably the most complicated thing in the house plus maybe the solar water heating thingy on the roof.
The trouble is everything seems to get more complicated. The old microwave had three levels of power and a timer - that was it. The new one forces me to get the instruction book out everytime I want to do anything other than press the 30 second button.
Years ago I could light my gas cooker with a match, then they had electric ignition and a safety switch so when the electric was off the gas oven wouldn't work. Electric ovens were just turned on to the temperature you wanted now my electric oven has 6 settings as well as the temperature dial and will only switch on if the clock is set.
Our low tech heating system starts with scrunching up some newspaper and striking a match!

I could go on .............but I won't.

So what did we do on Thursday 27th.
C went off to work for a customer in Leiston and I potted up 9 aubergine and 8 more pepper plants, washed lots more pots, did some housework, prepared a roast chicken dinner for us, our youngest and her bloke and probably several other things.

Nothing on TV tonight but Elbow are in concert on Radio 2 and on the red button so that should be good.
 I'm also reading a light rubbishy book - Trisha Ashley, its one of those books which I think is called chick lit, so I guess I'm really too old to read it!
Have you been watching Shetland ? This week was part one of a two part story based on the book "Dead water" by Ann Cleeves. Which I read just a few months  ago yet I can't for the life of me remember who did it. Something my brother-in-law said when he was here at Christmas came to mind.
 I was given the first four books in The Cazalet series by Elizabeth Jane Howard. He said they would take me a while to read. I said I had already read them but wanted to read them again because I'd forgotten much of the story and I needed to re read before the 5th in the series was published. He said if I read more slowly, I might remember what I'd read.
He might be right.

Many thanks for comments yesterday

Back Tomorrow
Sue

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Lots done despite the weather

I wish I could think of something exciting, scintillating, topical or frugally relevant to write about, but I can't so it's just an ordinary days diary post from Suffolk!

The sun was shining first thing so we got outside early to do as many jobs as we could before the rain arrived.

First we put down some weed suppressant stuff between the raspberry rows in the fruit cage. For two years we used plastic as that's all we had, but C rescued the proper stuff from our neighbour who was clearing it out. The plastic kept the weeds down but was very slippery in wet weather.
While we were in the fruit cage we noticed that some of the gooseberry bushes had some branches that have died over-winter, so they've been pruned.

I pulled up the last few useless swedes, they never grow well here, all top and no bottom!

Next we cleared up some paving slabs, moved the cement mixer and unloaded a big bag of wood into the shed. This was done to a clear space for a caravan, as one of the men who stayed last spring while he was working at Sizewell Power Station has asked if he can come back again for a few months. We can't put him on the campsite so have worked out a place he can park and not be in the way. He will be here just from Monday to Thursday each week.

C moved the new toilets and basins from the workshop around to the new toilet shed, and we moved the  3 IBC tanks round to the front of the workshop as the pallets they are fixed to need replacing or repairing before they are sold.

When it rained I did the ironing and he cut some wood.

The day turned much colder after lunch and I didn't fancy doing much outside after collecting and sorting the eggs so I sat and copied out some of the interesting looking recipes from Jack Monroes cookery book. Because of Easter and the mobile not coming I could keep it until May but as there is a long waiting list I'll pop it into Leiston library next week.
 Meanwhile C was working outside somewhere!

That was our day.

Thanks to Dartford Warbler, Angela,The Weaver of grass, Dreamer, Gill, Bridget, Kev, Out my window, Bovey Belle and Fran for comments yesterday and for ideas for the Peppermint plants and welcome to Abigail via Bloglovin' who also lives somewhere in Suffolk.

Back Tomorrow

Sue.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

I've been blinkin' tricked by T**** supermarket!

There I was the other day going on about knowing the price of things so you know when something is a bargain or not and today I find Tesco have been tricking me for months.
Mature cheddar is the reason. I've been buying their value range Extra Mature cheddar for several months after the value range Mature got milder - heavens knows how tasteless the mild cheddar must be! Then today on the shelf just above I noticed another type of Extra Mature and shock, horror, the price per Kg was less than the value range. How annoying is that!

Mostly I cook from scratch but like to keep a few easy freezer things in stock just in case and one thing we've found to be OK is  Tescos value range of veggie grill. In a burger bun with some home made sweetcorn relish and some lettuce they are cheap and quick. Except last time I wanted some they didn't have them and no space in their freezers for them either. Today, I noticed they had some reduced to clear - a pack of 4 for 50p - that's half price. So I cleared the lot = 9 packs. They will last us  a year for meals when my mind is a blank.

Walking past Waitrose I stopped to look at all the herbs they had outside and discovered Black Peppermint. I've tried to grow peppermint several times, from seed and from bought plants but it seems to cross pollinate with ordinary spearmint and ends up losing its peppermint taste. This is my last try at producing my own mint tea, then I'm giving up. Anyone know how far away from the spearmint should I plant the peppermint or will it cross pollinate whatever I do.

While I was amusing myself in Saxmundham, C was clearing up all the hedge cuttings and branches at the-second-home-across-the-fields. The owners  will be back for Easter so he wanted to get it done and dusted so they can pay him! He and our elderly friend had a nice bonfire there. Then this afternoon he cleared up some branches over at our neighbours and had yet another bonfire. Men and bonfires seem to go well together. Or is it just him?

Back Tomorrow
Sue

Monday, 24 March 2014

Bumper Bread Bake and poly tunnel news

I never have any trouble getting up when the sun is shining and this morning it was beautiful. So by 7.15 am the chickens had been let out, first lot of eggs collected and the washing was flapping on the line. I decided there was plenty of time to have a bumper bread making session.  2 loaves of bread, a dozen white rolls and a dozen tomato and herb rolls were cooling on the rack by noon. In between the bread rising and cooking I nipped in and out to do some clearing up in the garden.
An untidy bit with an ancient wheelbarrow full of broken pots that's lurked beside the garden shed for the last 20 years has been sorted. The shed is coming down too soon I hope.
 Over at the damaged poly tunnel
(This is what it looked like after the storm in December before we took the ripped plastic off)
I've tidied away some odd bricks, posts and bits of wood and pulled up lots of weeds.

C. was working  at our neighbours  this morning but this afternoon he barrowed some compost onto the beds and used the rotavator to sort out  the middle tunnel - much easier to do it while there is no plastic on it. We ran the tape measure over the frame ready to order new plastic. There is just one bit of frame broken so  hopefully he will be able to fix it.


I started a new book yesterday but abandoned it after half an hour. It had such promise - being an historical crime set in the 1890s in London. But it was just full of mistakes. It was written by an American author who hadn't done enough research about late Victorian Britain! Really annoying.

 Yesterday evening I had my feet up on the settee and look what happened. I couldn't shut the laptop for fear of squashing a small black comfy cat. I think we can say that Polly has settled in nicely!



Welcome to three new followers on Google friends - Alison, Dawn and Lea and to someone on Bloglovin' too, although I can't find your name at the moment. Hope you enjoy reading about our quiet life here. Leave a comment sometime, I like reading what people think of the blog.

Back Tomorrow
Sue

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Saturday, 22 March 2014

The ways I earned a bit extra while being a SAHM + other stuff

A beautiful day here today as long as you are the right side of the window.

C went off to work for one of his customers in Leiston and I settled down for some card making. I need some  birthday cards for men - always the most difficult to make cards for. I used some 3D decoupage sheets that came from Craft Creations when I had the £10 voucher for having a card in the Magazine Readers Gallery. I'm never very inventive or pleased with what I produce when it comes to card making but  suppose these look OK.


Another " getting the campsite ready" job got done. That was pressure washing the nonslip dirt-trapper mats. I've had two of them in use in the utility room all winter, it looks a bit bare in there now, but I'm not buying anymore. We can manage without them until October.

Recently one of Frugal Queens blogs was about finding ways to earn bits of extra money if you want to save or pay off a debt and I was thinking of all the things I've done while being a Stay at Home Mum.
From the beginning - Cleaning a house, Cleaning a Village Hall, Playgroup worker, Growing Herbs and selling them at a Pick Your Own fruit farm,Fruit picking, Saturday job in a Library, After School and Holiday Childminding, Small home based nursery for 1 morning a week, Lunchtime Playground Duty at a Middle school and then at a Primary school, Selling Herbs, Baking and Cards at the WI Market, Playgroup worker again, buying smallholding, livestock and country books and selling them at smallholders shows and  finally The Campsite here. Plus Polling Clerk on Election Day and Census Enumerator. It's only writing them down that I realised how many different ways there are of earning a few extra pence.

Thanks to everyone for comments again and I'll be Back Tomorrow
Sue

Friday, 21 March 2014

Blackthorn Winter and Library book photo

One of my books of weather sayings says that there is usually a spell of warm days in March which brings the Blackthorn into flower and this is almost invariably followed by colder days, known as the Blackthorn winter. Exactly right this year with night-time temperatures forecast to be around zero on Sunday and Monday. We will wait a few days before sowing parsnips and putting the broad bean plants out.

A phone call from our son M last week told us that his partner R had got the job she was trying for in Bury St Edmunds so they are hoping to move back to Suffolk before summer. He was waiting to see what was happening with his job with the Archaeology company who had put him on a 4 day week, then back to 5 days and then given everyone else in the company notice. Today he rang to say that the company have gone into liquidation from the end of the month. He might get redundancy money although the debt they owe is to HMRC so there may not be much left!
He has put the word around various Archaeology companies but is willing to take any sort of job that comes up. He managed a stationary shop for a while after finishing Uni and is very good at organising so hopefully he can find something. The job R has got is a good one with a large Suffolk based company. I hope they can get themselves settled in Suffolk so they can see more of friends and family.

Today was library van day but my book haul is poor, and the van doesn't come in April as it clashes with Good Friday. Thank goodness I still have lots left to read from last month and of course there is always the back-up of reading some of the 1000 or so books we own!

Most exciting is the book in the middle - The new one by Elly Griffiths - Yippee!

Lots of jobs done today. Me: washing down the doors on campsite loos and shower, sweeping them
 out, making a cheese and broccoli quiche for tonight, all the egg jobs, sowing nasturtium seeds, normal housework and talking to cats!
C : Fetching another load of topsoil, sealing the lining stuff in the gents loo with PVA, re-painting floors in ladies toilets and the shower and probably several other things - all outside of course!

Many Thanks for comments yesterday and welcome to Lesley, Jennifer and Anne reading  via Bloglovin'. Hope you enjoy hearing about our quiet self sufficient life.

Back tomorrow

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Know your prices

Approved Foods send me an email everyday to tell me about their special 'bargains'. I keep hoping they will have bread flour at a good price like they did last year which is the only time I've ordered. Yesterday at first glance their Hovis bread mix looks a possibility at 2 for £1 then I notice the weight - only 495g - so only enough for one loaf of bread. Now I know that Aldi Bread flour is 75p for 1.5kg, that's enough for 3 loaves. That makes each loaf  25p plus a teaspoon of yeast, salt and sugar which is only a few pence more. So the bread mix is NOT a bargain at all.
Neither is their plain flour at 60p for 1.5kg as Aldi is only 45p, and why would you pay 60p for a tin of plum tomatoes when all the supermarket value brands are 34p? ( and I know the AF ones are a branded product but so what?).
Then today they have 12.5kg of branded plain and self - raising flour for £4.99. Surely that MUST be a genuine bargain as it is supposedly reduced from £14.99. But no, work it out and you find that Aldi flour is still cheaper.
I shall keep waiting for a real bargain in things I want to order.
Now that the My Supermarket website includes Aldi ( perhaps it has for a while - I don't know) it's easy to check prices of things everywhere. Although if you are like us in a rural area, knowing how much things are at Aldi, Asda and Morrisons is not a lot of help when they are all 25 miles away.

Things are happening on the growing front as onion sets are in and a bed of Foremost early potatoes planted and re-covered with black plastic for a while. We had lettuce and radishes from the poly tunnel for lunch today after a couple of weeks without and the early potatoes C put in there are now up and growing.

Cabbages and parsnips are finished so we have just a few sprouts, purple sprouting broccoli and leeks left. It was looking hopeful for the purple sprouting to last a while as some plants were ahead of others but then the warm weather over the weekend made them all shoot so we are eating some almost everyday, steamed, stir-fry and tomorrow in a quiche. Leeks have been eaten in the pasties I made last week, made into fritters and baked in stock.

It got really windy this afternoon and the temperature dropped. The forecast is for cold nights so it might be a good idea to organise a bit of heat to keep this lot warm, just in case.


Back Tomorrow
Sue

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Just a quiet day

I've decided it takes to long too type ' Him Outside' so from now on he will be C! and I've had enough of being anonymous so you can call me Yet Another Sue!

I started the days jobs by potting on a few more plants -today it was  the chili peppers, then a whole heap of pots were washed. A good blowy day got a load of washing dry. Quarter of an hour spent clearing the cabbage bed of stalks, other than that I've not done a lot except all the egg jobs of course - there's no avoiding those.

C was over the road working for our neighbour this morning, she's got a long list of work for him which will keep him busy on one or two mornings each week. This afternoon he cleared the last few parsnips from their bed and then managed to persuade the rotovator to start. We bought this second-hand in 1981 and - touch wood - every year, with a bit of tinkering and some WD40 off it goes. C reckons it could be 50 years old! So two beds are ready for planting the onion sets.

I don't think anything else has happened here today
 Were there any exciting announcements in the Budget? I've not heard yet what was said.
I expect it will be the same as always - The rich get richer, the poor get poorer and the rest just manage as best as they can.

Back Tomorrow
Sue

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Getting ship shape

I prefer not to leave things until the last moment so, even though there are a couple of weeks before the campsite opens, we have got the recreation/information room sorted. It had been used for storing the wood and roofing for the new toilets ( and for my new shed  ). We shifted the left-overs elsewhere, put the dustbins outside, brushed the cobwebs and swept out the dust.Then I sorted and chucked all the out of date tourist leaflets. Once it was easy to get new leaflets each year, but then the Norfolk based company were taken over and now they have very few leaflets for attractions in Suffolk. Some are on order but I'll have to visit a few places to get them direct. I've got 4 shelves of books for people to borrow, swap or buy, so they were unpacked from store. Darts and chalk ready for the dartboard, the child size  football table was cleaned,  seats and table dusted. Sorted.

I've had a look in the toilets and shower and the main thing to do there is to sweep out all the leaves that have blown in under the doors. I'll leave that for nearer the time.Then I brought all the loo brushes and holders in and dunked them in a sink full of hot water, washing up liquid and a bit of bleach and gave the shower curtain a wash. Another mornings work and we will be ready. Plus I must remember to order two more paper towel holders for the new loos.

Him Outside went off with tractor and trailer to fetch a load of top soil from our farmer friend. He used some to level all round the new gents loo shed, some to level the place where the trench is and then chucked some grass seed down and  finally more soil was used to fill up the back of the beds in the big poly tunnel.

Onion sets  arrived today. I order heat treated ones because in the past we had a lot of problems with an onion virus. Planting them is a long back-breaking job which I'm not looking forward to.

We've still got several cooking apples stored in a box in the shed ( as well as some in the freezer) so, to make a change from crumbles and pies, I made an apple meringue pie for dinner. We will certainly have enough until the next apple season.

The weather changed from warm and sunny this morning to cold and windy this afternoon and the forecast is for a chilly weekend. Oh dear, that's not good news for the apricot blossom.

Thanks to everyone for comments yesterday, I'm glad to have given a few people an idea for another book to look out for and welcome to a new follower - Susan- on Google friends and to Claire, Clare, Helen and Barbara via Bloglovin.

Back Tomorrow

Monday, 17 March 2014

A way of life that's gone and new life appearing

Did anyone see Countryfile last night?
They had a short feature about Hope Bourne, a lady who lived a very self-sufficient life on Exmoor for many years. She died, I think they said, in 2010 and left all her paintings and sketches to the Exmoor Society.
I first heard of her way back in the early 1980s when I found her book "Wild Harvest" while we were on holiday in Minehead.
For much of her life she lived in a tiny caravan, shot game to eat, grew vegetables, walked everywhere, wrote and painted. A way of life that would be difficult now.
I found two more of her books more recently.
If you come across them anywhere they are worth a look especially "Wild Harvest"
The warm weather over the weekend has encouraged some new life in the garden.
I'm very pleased to see the frog spawn in the mini pond.
Blackthorn blossom has been around inland for a couple of weeks but only now appearing here.

New leaves appearing on the willow hedge between the campsite areas
White violets

Leaves appearing on the gooseberry bushes
Poor photo and I can't remember the name of the shrub - Escalonia?

Perennial wallflower
Thank you for comments yesterday
Back tomorrow

Sunday, 16 March 2014

An update on this and that

My invented recipe for leek/potato/cheese pasties turned out OK. I used a pound of leeks sliced small, a pound of potatoes chopped even smaller with my old auto-chop thing. Then cooked both in a spot of water in a bowl in the microwave,( covered with cling film with a couple of holes punched in) until the potatoes were soft enough for a knife to go in easily. I did them for a minute at a time and stirred them frequently.
I had already made up a batch of shortcrust pastry and put it in the fridge to chill and also cooked up a very thick cheese sauce, using a bit of butter, flour,2 tsp. mustard powder, half pint of milk ( made with powdered) and 8 oz grated mature cheddar.This was left to cool too.
Then I mixed the leek mixture with the sauce and added plenty of black pepper.
The pastry was rolled out and cut into rounds using a small saucepan lid and filling added, folded over, sealed with water and brushed with egg. Put on a greased baking tray and cooked for about 25 minutes in a medium oven they were nice and golden.
Wrapped in foil when cold, and popped in the freezer. This made 11! I tested one and it was very good ( Him Outside is away visiting our daughter this weekend so he will test later) While making pastry I thought I might as well make extra for pastry cases and four jam tarts with the last bits of trimmings.
A good mornings work.

Lots of lovely comments over the last few days.

Cro made me smile saying he was much too frugal to buy any frugal books!

Everyone enjoyed my Thursday thoughts blog which is good to know.

And I found some late comments on the "why am I blogging" post. So thank you for those. I didn't know so many people enjoyed reading my ramblings.

Update on 2 small cats. Polly the black one is almost settled although she still rushes out when we move about. Mabel - the tortoiseshell- creeps around the house but  that's an improvement. So we are getting there slowly. The lady from Cats Protection rang to check we were happy to keep them and as they are micro-chipped they've now been registered as ours.

I spent a while yesterday evening playing with the Mysupermarket website and working out a "|feed your family for £40 a week" menu without porridge, lentils and chick peas and based on a roast chicken dinner at the weekend  Then I look at Frugal Queens blog today and find that's almost exactly what she has written for her yesterday post. I could have read a book last night instead!!

The weeding of the flower garden has finally finished, probably just in time to start all over again.

Another phone call yesterday for a campsite  booking for Easter - good news indeed - except that the information/games room is full of all sorts that shouldn't be there and the new gents toilets are not yet finished. ( Though we can use the ladies for everyone so that's OK). Four weeks to get everywhere ship shape.

and my final piece of news is that I spotted the teeny weeny tip of an asparagus shoot just poking through. Last year our first asparagus treat was one spear each on 25th April, so it looks as if we will be enjoying it much earlier this year.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Last year, this year.

On this same Saturday last year I biked down to the village of Friston to visit their fundraising table top sale in the village hall. I only spent a few pence on a roll of multi-coloured ribbon for craft making- which I've not yet found a use for. On the way home my chain came off, which meant walking home and it started pouring with rain.

Today I biked down to Friston village hall and found these, 2 book ends , two hooks with a boat and lighthouse and a book called" Living Simply" which now I've looked at it seems to lean rather too much towards religion.

I've been looking out for bookends for ages so they are very useful, the hook will go in the bathroom which means the hook that's already there can be used in the new campsite loos. The book will be looked at and either shelved or put in the car boot box.
The weather was fine and so was my bike. Total spend was £2.50. Then I watched a whole afternoon of rugby! 

Back tomorrow

PS welcome to new followers on Bloglovin. Seems to have sneaked up to 111 there without me noticing

Friday, 14 March 2014

Using up odd eggs

Very foggy here this morning, it hung around until midday. This weather say popped into my head " So many fogs in March, So many frosts in May" which is one I forgot to mention at the beginning at the month. I don't want frosts in May thank you!

I used up some of the wrinkled or funny shaped eggs this morning by making a big batch of sponge cakes which have gone into the freezer. After collecting and sorting eggs today there were another 6 odd ones for us to use. Omelet tomorrow I think.

Sometime this weekend I want to make some leek/potato/cheese pasties as we have several leeks left to use and if the weather stays warm they will run to seed quite quickly. I'm not sure warm weather in March is really a good thing.

My Thursday thoughts post yesterday seemed to strike a chord with several people who like looking in other peoples shopping trolleys or go off into a dream while weeding the garden.

I had another thought today-
Would I be richer or poorer if I hadn't bought so many penny pinching and frugalling books?


 I will let you decide! :-)

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Thursday thoughts

Oh good, the cats new litter tray is better, hardly any bits on the floor.

Beautiful morning, frosty bits in a few places though.

I shall be glad when we can get rid of the oldest chickens, another broken egg and mucky nestbox.

Do I need anything out of the freezer.............no.

Goodness, this compost is cold.  Good,that's two dozen more tomato plants potted up.

Oh Oh Oh... 5 Buzzards circling over the woods they must have hatched 3 eggs last year.

I wonder if people are put off budget plan menus because they always feature porridge for breakfast?

I think I'll write how to feed your family for £40 a week without porridge......and without lentils and without chickpeas too, now I think about it.

Why am I always in a queue behind someone whose card doesn't work easily in the machine thingy? 

She could have saved several pence if she'd bought mixed nuts in a big bag instead of those little snack packs.

and she's bought Philadelphia cheese spread in tiny packs too - must be more expensive that way.

Oh, old Sindy Annuals, I wonder if my friend A. would like those to go with her doll collection?........better not get them, she might not want them, although they won't be there next time I'm in town. What shall I do?

At last it's dry enough to weed the flower garden.

It's really warm.

If I were really frugal I'd be eating this hairy- bitter-cress instead of chucking it in the compost.

Oh yuck, now I know why its called bitter cress.

Flowers on the apricot trees already - too early again.

Everywhere looks so good when the grass is cut.

Only six dozen eggs to go out tomorrow, too many odd shaped ones.

Anything interesting on TV tonight..............No,then I'll just read a book.

Must remember to see which books I need to renew before next week.

Better get this blog finished.

Back Tomorrow.



















Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Replying to comments

Some comments yesterday  need replies so.............

To 'Out my window' - A KFC wouldn't be classed as an ideal diet here either but at its simplest it is just fried chicken in a spicy crumb coating with potato fries. I have a tub of coleslaw too so as to make me feel more saintly! We only eat this perhaps once or twice a year and I don't think it does us much harm.

To 'Rupert Neil Bumfrey' - I'm afraid your comment went right over my head. We maybe in Suffolk, but we are about as far from Newmarket and the elite of horseracing as it's possible to be and I'm not just talking milage!

To everyone who wished Him Outside Happy Birthday - Thankyou

And Thank you for all the other comments too.

 And to 'Vadam'
How to explain what a digestive biscuit it to someone in the States?
I think what we call biscuits you call  cookies.
Our biscuits are usually flatter and thinner than what we call cookies
The word biscuit actually comes from French (? I think) and means twice cooked.
If someone makes biscuits to sell for the Country (what was WI) Markets they have to call them cookies - I dont know why.

 Digestive biscuits are made using wheat flour, less fat than a shortbread type biscuit and less sugar than a sweet biscuit.
The company called McVities are the most famous manufacturers of digestive biscuits. Plain  ones have no chocolate. Some have milk chocolate on one side and some dark chocolate. McVities digestives are expensive but the ones we got from Lidl are just as nice but half the price.

This is what they look like

 They are quite tasty!

 Hope that explains them to you over there across the pond.

 It's been a sunny day here in Suffolk but a cold Easterly wind straight of the sea. I've been making bread, tidying up, kindling chopping, a bit of weeding and odd jobs here and there.

Him Outside was strimming over at our neighbours this morning. Then he put his old Bridge Inspector hat on and went to look at a farm bridge for someone who is a member of the Suffolk Smallholders Society. A bridge only used by the farm and it's neighbours but in very poor condition. It will need a lot of rebuilding and is not something he can do himself but has advised them of who to contact.
Then he did some strimming here too.
I notice Google spellcheck doesn't recognise strimming. So what is cutting the edges with a strimmer called in the States. Or is that what you call a brush-cutter? Who knew English was so darn confusing!!

Back tomorrow




Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Only the sky was blue today.

Thank you x 32 for everyone who cheered me up yesterday. It was lovely to find so many people who like reading about our quiet life here. I have no idea why I was feeling a bit undecided about blogging but its back to normal today.

We needed chicken feed  and had several other places to visit so decided a half day out was called for combined with eating out somewhere as it's Him Outsides 57th and that was all that he could come up with as an idea for a present!

First stop Charnwoods feed mill in Framlingham
While waiting  for the forklift to bring our sacks around I often seem to be sat reading this sign, so as I had my camera I hopped out for a photo. It's always left me  puzzled as to where the racing camels are in Suffolk!

Next stop was the picture framing shop in Haughley . My £3 bargain car boot find - the  water-colour of Kersey - has been left for them to frame and they will find out from Mr Lilley( the artist) if he remembers when he did it. They frame pictures for him before he exhibits or sell them. We agreed that had the painting been sold somewhere in the Mid Suffolk area where he is well known rather than miles away in Lowestoft it may well have sold for more. They had some watercolours of his for sale in the shop for £45 and an oil painting for £220!

Passing a garden centre with a sale sign outside we called into see if they had any cheap main-crop seed potatoes to add to the few we've saved from our own and the small ones from the sack we had to buy in January.

Onto the cemetery in Stowmarket to take a photo. For several months I've been thinking about writing down some of my early memories, things that have gone, like the two room, two teacher, 60 pupil primary school I went to. The photo is going to be a starting point for me to get on with it............Hopefully.

There is a Lidl close to the cemetary so we popped in to have a look. Do you know they do large packets of Dark Chocolate Digestive biscuits for 72p? Him Outside was well pleased, one of his favourites.

Next a quick scoot up the A14 into Ipswich to B & Q where he needed a couple of bits for the new  campsite toilets.

I'd heard that our local St Elizabeth Hospice had opened a big shop on one of the industrial areas in Ipswich so we searched and found it. Lots of books but nothing I wanted, hundreds of CDs and DVDs - too many to look through. Dozens of jigsaw puzzles and games. Not so many clothes but they also have electrical items and furniture. We didn't find anything we wanted although it will be a good place to call into on the way in and out of Ipswich.

Then a fill up with cheap diesel - 4p a litre cheaper than anywhere locally. I'm reliably informed that's a saving of £2 a tankful - and Nectar points.

Onto Pets at Home to find a better litter tray for the cats, they maybe small but they don't half make a blinkin 'mess. Someone had suggested a completely covered one but that was £45!!! So we've gone with a deeper one that has covered edges. I'll be able to have my potting tray back in the shed and hopefully won't need to spend 10 minutes clearing up each morning. I had  hoped we could get them outside soon but daren't let them out until they are friendlier and will come when called.

So what to have to eat for a birthday meal. We plumped for a old favourite - a KFC - very bad! We are so old that we remember the time when a " Kentucky" was the only take away available other than fish and chips!

Then home again to all the smallholding jobs.

I hope you've enjoyed touring around Suffolk with us today!

Back tomorrow

PS welcome to elkhound a new follower on Google friends. Hope you enjoy reading.



Monday, 10 March 2014

Why am I blogging

There was a lovely comment on Saturdays blog from Maggie who had popped in to say that she really enjoyed my blog and wanted me to keep up the good work.
That's so lovely to hear as I often think that my blog isn't really living up to it's title and in the land of frugal blogs I sometimes feel a bit of a fraud.
Why do I say that ? Well..................................

I wouldn't be able to teach groups of people how to shop and cook frugally like Frugal Queen
I can't explain how we got out of debt as we've not had any.
I wouldn't want to give any more detail than I already have about our income or our budget or what we buy.
I'm unable to show what reduced price food I've bought and eaten like Ilona at Life after money because I never see any.
I've always been interested in self reliance and living better on less so have taught myself to cook from scratch and manage the household budget and it just seems normal- nothing to "write home" or to blog about!
I wouldn't want to earn anything from blogging and don't want to start a new business and have recently stopped reading a few blogs that just seem to be full of adverts.
We have savings from our 34 years of married life and from an inheritance so that we will never be penny-less.
We bought our house on a 5 acre smallholding when it was run down and tatty 22 years ago, before house prices went crazy and could always downsize to free up a lot of money so it isn't a new life in the country.
 We have ways of making an income that are well established and no one can make us redundant.
We have the skills learned over  many years to produce our own food  and that seems normal too.

All in all what on earth have I got to write about!

So sometimes I wonder why I'm blogging at all, as so many people can write much more fluently than I can. Lots of bloggers seem to be giving up too - the end of an era - maybe?

Ignore all the above as I think its just a down-in-the-dumps day!

I'll cheer up and come back tomorrow.





Sunday, 9 March 2014

Planting Willow Slips on a Sunny Sunday

It was such a lovely morning that we were outside working by 8.15.
All along one side of the caravan area on the campsite  we've planted a row of willow slips. Him Outside brought them home from the pond clearance work he did at our neighbours last week. Hopefully they will grow into a good sized hedge just like some we pushed into the ground many years ago.You can see how big they are along the fence line in the background. They were also freebies.
Along another side of the site we have a row of young trees all of which were raised from seedlings that I've found around the smallholding. Today we filled in some gaps with a couple more young trees that have been growing in pots for a couple of years.
I've also got the strawberry bed weeding finished, we've lost about half a dozen young plants over the wet winter.

Him Outside went off with the trailer at 11.00 to collect a workbench from Saxmundham for the second home owner who owns the house up the road from us . He came back with a £10 note - every little helps!
Which reminds me that this weekend is the second anniversary of Him being self employed after deciding that the County Council Bridge Inspection job had changed so much that he didn't want to carry on after his 55th birthday.
We had no idea if we could earn enough to live "in the manner to which we had been accustomed"! but as we had always been frugal it has been easier than we thought.

Look at what the temperature got to this afternoon................17.5 degrees C. This is a new thermometer that I got him (us) for Christmas. It sticks on the outside of the kitchen window. Hopefully it will last longer than a year which is all  the last two that we've had have managed. One was a dial  which got water in and the second went do-lally as soon as the sun shone on it. ( we thought we had put it in the shade of the shed roof).

It was so warm that I changed into shorts and sat in the conservatory for half an hour.

I hope you Sunday was sunny and warm too

Back tomorrow

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Sowing the seeds and weeding the weeds



 Now that  most of the poly tunnel plants are growing well and we are carrying them from the conservatory to the kitchen every night and back again every morning it was time to start on all the other seed sowing. Outside the heavy clay soil we have is still much too wet and cold, so seeds that don't need any heat are always sown in pots and trays in the greenhouse.
Calabrese, Chard, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Leek, Purple Sprouting Brocolli and Mangetout are the first things sown today.
(The parsley plants in the middle of the picture are for potting up to sell later).

Although the beds are too wet for seeds I have been able to start weeding. The new  strawberry bed was first. We pegged down 2 dozen runners from the oldest plants and moved them to a new bed in the Autumn but the wet winter didn't do them much good and we've lost several plants. The Autumn raspberry bed also got sorted.

The forecast for tomorrow sounds wonderful, if they are right we should be able to get lots done 

Thank you to blogging friends for comments yesterday.

Back Tomorrow

Friday, 7 March 2014

Settling in

It's 2 weeks since we welcomed two small shy cats into the house.

Slowly,slowly they are settling in.

In the evenings when we are sitting in the living room Polly will emerge from the dining room to visit us. She purrs loudly and sits for a few minutes on our laps, goes back and forwards between us and then rushes back into the dining room at about 80mph if we move.
 Mabel is spending less time hiding in their box but rarely ventures out of the dining room during the day.
During the night we hear them dashing up and down stairs. They are eating well and getting dust everywhere from their litter tray.
The scratching post that we found in a charity shop for £4  was a complete waste of money as they haven't even looked at it and prefer to use the carpet! The post has gone into the box of stuff for a car boot sale.


Would you ski down a mountain if you couldn't see more than a metre in front of you?
No, neither would I. ( actually I wouldn't ski down a mountain at all)
So how brave are the people competing in the Winter Paralympics. I'm looking forward to watching, they are all incredible.

Welcome to Thrift deluxe a new follower in the |Google pictures and to Karen who I think is a new follower on Bloglovin'.

Back Tomorrow

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Did you miss me?

First we lost all connections to everything Google on both lap tops, then we lost  internet connection altogether.

Him Outside spent an hour and a half on the phone talking to someone in a far away country who knew nothing about computers but translated everything someone in the background said into English to be able to speak to us in the UK!

Eventually they decided it was all due to our original provider- Tiscalli being taken over by Talk Talk about 5 years ago and suddenly it no longer recognised our wifi connection.
Anyway, we are back connected to the world.

Since my last post on Monday, we've had pancake day, 2 more dishcloths have been finished, I've made a lemon cake and a quiche, potted up twenty tomato plants, started reading The Lady and the Unicorn by Tracy Chevalier, shifted about 2 dozen paving slabs from our old patio and had a huge tidy up in the potting shed.

Him Outside has worked at our neighbours twice clearing out a pond and grass cutting and at the second home doing some hedge cutting. He has also had an opticians appointment and had a check with the nurse to make sure the badly cut finger didn't look any worse.

And we ate the first lovely pink rhubarb



Thanks to my friend Mary-in-Bath who I contacted to ask her to put a comment on my blog to say what had happened and welcome to Paid in Chickens a new follower on Google Friends.

Back Tomorrow ( fingers crossed)

Monday, 3 March 2014

Not quite as planned

Don't you just "love" days when things don't go quite as they should.

It started yesterday evening when Him Outside looked at the weather forecast and decided to delay the hedge cutting at the second-home-across-the-fields as we were due showers here all day ( That's the third time it's been put off). Except the rain had gone by daybreak and it's been fine all day so he could have gone after all.

I had a physio appointment first thing and had some errands to run while out including posting a couple of things ( I'm still annoyed that last year  someone nicked the post box at the end of our road and it's not to be replaced). When I got home the letters were still in my bag- darn it! so I thought I'd get the bread started and then bike down to the letterbox in Friston. Returning home I put my bike brakes on to stop  and somehow tipped over sideways - and landed in a puddle- unhurt but wet!

So there I was a while later, in the kitchen getting things done when Him Outside who had been working on the lining out of the campsite gents loo came to the door dripping blood from a badly cut finger - caught on the edge of the circular saw ( made me go all peculiar!). He wrapped it up tight and held it up in the air and eventually it stopped bleeding but after another look even he felt a bit faint and  reckoned it might need stitches so the doctor was phoned and down to Leiston we went. After a long wait he went into the nurse and after cleaning things up and a check from the doctor they decided it didn't need stitches after all so just a big dressing was applied and a tetanus injection given. And that means he gets out of the washing up for a week at least. - Not a lot of sympathy from me as you can see!

By the time we got back the bread had risen a bit too much, so it won't be quite as nice as usual and I've been trying to catch up with the missing hour and a half for the rest of the day.

Ho Hum- that's how it goes sometimes - nothing serious - just annoying.

I finished yesterday by mentioning the interesting find at a boot sale.

About once or twice a year we go to the big car boot sale at Kessingland near Lowestoft, we usually go in the winter when there are no boot sales locally. Yesterday I glimpsed this painting laying out of reach. The lady passed it to me to look at and I recognized the signature  B.C.Lilley. She wanted £4 but I offered £3 and she said yes. The reason I'm pleased is because this artist  lives locally to where we used to live in Mid Suffolk and he was actually an Insurance man for years - at the time when they called on people to collect- and used to go to Him Outsides house when he  still lived with his parents during the 1970s to collect the £2 a week that was paid for life insurance. He got well known as an artist and his pictures went up in price,now they are often featured in the regional newspaper and in exhibitions. He is in his 70s now and has got some on show at a framing shop and gallery at the moment. I think I might take it there to get it re framed,  as the frame is falling apart and the pins in the back are rusty, and try and find out more about it. We think it's Kersey in Suffolk, but the date is unreadable. I don't think it's as good as those he paints now so it may have been done several years ago.
(The glass has caught the reflection of the window - It hasn't really got a big light blue blob on the top!)

I love original paintings so it was an interesting find.

Back tomorrow

Sunday, 2 March 2014

February/March Book Reading Link and March Weather Sayings

Linking up with The Year In Books at A Circle of Pine Trees

The books that I read in February were some of these lovely library books


The two I recommend are  The Kashmir Shawl by Rosie Thomas and All Change by Elizabeth Jane Howard.

This is well researched going between the present and 1940s India.

Thank you to my Penny Pincher friend Mary for recommending this, as I wouldn't have read it otherwise.

All Change by Elizabeth Jane Howard is the 5th and final part of the Cazalet Family Series. Ms Howard died not long after the publication of this book written almost 20  years after the 4th in the series. It is now the 1950s and the family timber  business is about to go bankrupt.

 Thank you to another Penny Pincher friend Alison for recommending these a while back.

My March reading will be from this lot
I'll let you know which were my favourites  next month


The best known sayings for weather in March are probably
March Winds, April Showers bring forth May Flowers
or
 If March comes in like a Lamb it will go out like a Lion ( or vice versa).

March was often called The Month of Many Weathers, but farmers would like it mainly dry according to this saying "A peck of dust in March is worth a kings ransom"

Thanks to lots of friendly folk for comments yesterday.

Back Tomorrow, with news of an interesting car boot find.



Saturday, 1 March 2014

Review of the month, Looking back at February

It's the 1st of March so time for my regular look back at the ups and downs on The Simple Suffolk Smallholding. The good and the not-so-good of February 2014.

  1. We just scrapped in enough money to fill the virtual envelopes  for the March Budget ( see it here)
  2. £20 left in the housekeeping going into the Roberts Red Retro Radio Fund ( Now at £70)
  3. £30 cheque into an ISA
  4. Food spending fractionally under budget.
  5. General Household spending well inside budget.
  6. 2 small cats re-homed here after a  few years without a pet.
  7. We went to the annual Potato Day and bought our early seed potatoes.
  8. 2 Free jute shopping bags from the potato day 
  9. We are still eating our own stored eating and cooking apples.
  10. We  ate the first Purple Broccoli and still have Brussels sprouts, parsnips, leeks, chard and parsley available from the garden
  11. We still have onions from store
  12.  Plenty of our own fruit still in the freezer
  13. Lots of good reading from this months library books
  14. I relearned how to knit after about 50 years and started making dishcloths.
  15. I stitched 2 small cross stitch pictures and fitted them into 'things' for Christmas presents
  16. Most Chickens laying really well, still over 7 dozen to sell everyday
  17. Progress on the new toilet shed for campsite has been made
  18. Visited Family for lunch
  19.  Him Outside spent a few days visiting our son and girlfriend

On the other hand
  1. Our son - the Archaeologist - has had to go down to a 4 day week and his company have some cash flow problems- worrying news.
  2. Another mainly wet month 
  3. We have finished all our stored beetroot
  4. We have eaten all the pears from the freezer
  5. Oldest chickens laying a lot of odd shaped and thin shelled eggs that we can't sell.
That's all I can think of for February- Roll on spring!

Thanks to Bridget, Victoria, Fran, Cro, Gill, The Weaver of Grass and Bovey Belle for comments yesterday
( and re the bulk buy of Bicarb - it came off E bay)

Back Tomorrow

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