Saturday, 28 February 2009


We have successfully recycled the Duplo through ebay and all 7 lots sold last night, with a combined total of £64 odd, which is £4 more than I paid for the job lot from EFG's godmother more than 10 years ago - so all the playtimes that the girls, my childminded children and visiting children have had have been free! And the best of it is that there is still more to sell. I didn't list it all at once because of the thought of posting it all off at the same time, so there are about 5 more lots to list this week. Good result, I thought.

Yesterday was such a lovely day that I got outside and dug over one of the vegetable beds. The horse muck had been sitting on the top and the weather had broken it down and it was perfect for just turning over yesterday. If the number of worms I found is any indication of the quality of the soil, it is wonderful as there were several there every time I turned the spade over. I just felt that the sun was shining and it was warm so I had had enough of being inside and wanted to get out and enjoy the sunshine - and it was lovely to be outside with the rabbits in their hutches nearby, the cat watching me and the chickens cackling to themselves just at the bottom of the garden. I could do that every day. I will have to do it some more, as there are four more beds that need digging, but one is enough at a time - I had to go for a little walk and deliver some eggs to a friend round the corner in order to let my back straighten out!

Lent has arrived and I should have decided what I was going to give up before now, but I haven't really thought about it much. Given how bad my diet has got lately as I have fallen off the healthy eating wagon completely, and how unwell I feel as a result, I am going to give up sugar for the duration. Then I will look forward to making a nice cake for Easter Sunday tea as a treat. I have also enjoyed reading Delia Smith's book, A Feast for Lent, which is a religious book and not a recipe book, in the past, so I may have a hunt through the bookshelves and read that again this year.

We are off to gymnastics again this morning. I have taken some photos to share with you and will hope to get them up this afternoon.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Busy day again

I have been out and about today delivering books to 8 different venues, where the customers can look at them and I'll go back in 2 weeks to deliver their orders. It took me south towards Huntingdon, along the A14 and then back north through the villages. I left here at 9.15 this morning and just managed to get back to pick the YFG up from school at 3pm. I found time to call in on my dad whilst I was out, and have a very quick trip into Tesco at Huntingdon to pick up some fruit and veggies. I have had a treat tonight in that the FH cooked the tea and gave me the night off - hooray for husbands! He also did the ironing today whilst I was out, so that is wonderful too - I am grateful for all help offered.

The chimney has hit a problem - we lit the fire yesterday and the smoke billowed out into the room everywhere! The flue is not high enough outside, and more pipe has got to be put up. A couple of friendly window-cleaners were roped into the the job on Wednesday morning, so we'll have to see if we can catch them again as they only charged £20 and a cuppa - bargain!

The Duplo I have listed on ebay is doing well - all the lots bar one have sold, and the final prices will be established when the auctions finish tomorrow evening. Then I will have to get them all in the post on Monday morning. I have had enquiries today from people in Estonia and Croatia! Maybe Duplo is rare over there.

Our hens are laying some huge eggs - this past week we have had some rather large eggs laid which are all having two yolks inside when we crack them. We had a couple for our Pancake Day/Shrove Tuesday celebrations, although we had them for breakfast on Wednesday as we had gym on Tuesday night and got back quite late to do much cooking, so we postponed it for the next morning - they went down very well. I am not selling those eggs, but keeping them for ourselves and just selling the normal sized ones. I have 6 or 7 regular customers now which is good - it means that there are enough eggs for us but plenty to sell as well.

Baking day tomorrow.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Book Fair season

Next week is a busy week here as Thursday is World Book Day and so I have some Book Fairs to do. I had two booked in and then last night I got a call from a school co-ordinator for whom I have done book fairs in the past. She realised it was short notice, but was I free at all next week?! So there is another one to do - I gave her the days I was free last night and she'll call back today after she has spoken to her Headmaster and let me know which day that they have chosen. It's good for business, but it will be a tiring week!

Books are wonderful, although I know that I am biased as books are my work. I feel so sorry for children whose parents don't appreciate the power of a book - there is so much to be gained from reading! Quite apart from the obvious, knowledge, children can escape and live other lives through a good book - have experiences, go places, do things! Reading broadens their horizons in a way that nothing else quite manages - I do get fanatical about books at times!

The ebay auctions are progressing well and the Duplo is attracting some bids - thank goodness. I do have to sort a query that came in last night about the cost of sending some of it to the Czech Republic, so I'll take a trip to the Post Office later this morning and get back to that person with a price. I don't have any accurate scales here, so I can't look it up online.

More work calls to make this morning, and then books to pack for deliveries! All is well in the garden and chicken runs, so there is nothing to worry about out there. I can't sow any seeds just yet, although I am itching to get on with it all. The weather is damp and mild again today, so not much good for hanging the laundry out. Better go and get on.

Monday, 23 February 2009


I decided not to blog, and to try to spend less time on the computer, last week whilst the girls were at home on half-term holiday - so apologies for the quiet time here.

The week was a good one - lots of lie-ins in the mornings as the girls and I needed to catch up on some sleep! They spent two days at a local secondary school using the sports facilities on Multi-sport days, which they enjoyed. We also had a trip to the doctor's about the EFG's enlarged tonsil, and then we all had checkups at the dentist! All these things have to be fitted in somewhere, and holiday time seems as good a time as any so that they don't have to miss any school. We had gymnastics on Friday and Saturday to catch up on the sessions we had to cancel due to the bad weather a couple of weeks ago. We have a date for the next competition that we will be entering - 29th March - and it will be held in Peterborough, so we don't have too far to go. The YFG is looking forward to it, but with some trepidation...

The frosts have given way to milder, wetter weather, and the chickens are loving the warmth - some of them are escaping from the runs to potter around in the veg patches. It is OK at the moment, but once I want to start sowing seeds, they will have to be stopped. The delivery of feed came this morning so I have been delivering rabbit food and corn to various neighbours who placed orders. The egg sales are continuing well, and the hens are laying some lovely eggs, some of which have two yolks.

On Saturday, we went to my cousin's Vow Renewal ceremony in Spalding. It was a lovely time, but the girls were rather tired of the waiting around that had to happen. My uncle came with us and then stayed overnight so that he could go with the girls and the FH to Peterborough yesterday to the Showground where they all took part in a World Record attempt at the greatest number of people sitting down to a Roast Dinner together. There were 1402 people there, and the Army and RAF chefs did the catering, and the entertainment was provided by a RAF band, which suited the FH down to the ground! Roast beef, yorkshire puddings, lashings of gravy, roast potatoes, carrots and cauliflower, followed by apple crumble and custard - it was a splendid meal, and they all enjoyed it. We paid £5 per adult and the children were free, but they still managed to make £6000 profit for the Help the Heroes fund which was magnificent. Uncle stayed last night and went home this morning once he had seen the girls off to school.

Laundry and housework have been the order of the day this morning, along with keeping an eye on my ebay auctions and making some work-related phone calls. It will soon be time to get my bike out and fetch the YFG home from school and then make an early tea so that they can eat before they go off to band practice tonight.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Friday came and went - and so did the snow

The schools were open on Friday, as they should have been - but the girls were rather disappointed as we had a good covering of snow here again and they wanted to stay and play! The YFG's class were doing a parents' assembly, so I didn't want to miss that anyway. It was interesting as they have been studying the planets, so the children came out in little groups or pairs and spoke about "their" planet - the YFG and her partner had been studying Uranus, so we had heard her talk a few times in preparation! After the Assembly, the parents got the chance to go into the classroom and see the work that the children have been doing recently, so that was fun too. She had tidied her drawer in my honour.

Today has been a beautifully crisp, clear day, and the FH and I have enjoyed sitting outside under the verandah, drinking a cup of tea in the sunshine at 3pm - the first time this year. The YFG had her friend round to play and it was good for us to get outside for some peace! The FH has been busy today starting to put the flue up on the outside of the house. I have been taking some pictures so I will be able to share a post when it is done to show how it came together a piece at a time. We were at gymnastics this morning, and that is probably the most I have achieved today - we have a dilemma to solve this week and I spent some time chatting with family this afternoon and surfing the internet in an attempt to find an answer - it'll come, in time. I have also got my account at the feed wholesaler's set up properly, so I have been speaking to some friends who have animals and letting them know that they can get the food they need for their chickens/ducks/rabbits at cost price. It looks as though I will be ordering on behalf of about three other families as well as ourselves. I think that maybe I have done more than it feels like.

Tomorrow is Sunday and church - I haven't been able to go for two weeks, so I am looking forward to attending tomorrow. Will have to raid the freezer or get up early to bake something to share!

Thursday, 12 February 2009

RIP baby rabbits

We have had a birth and death today - one of the rabbits unexpectedly had four babies in the night, but they were all dead by the time we found them this morning. It can't be helped as the weather was so severely cold last night that the poor things just didn't stand a chance. We would not have mated them on purpose, but the male was wrongly identified as a female and left in a cage with the female - that will be rectified as soon as we can sort out another hutch for him!

The snow is falling here again tonight, and little girls are hoping for a day off school tomorrow! I hadn't heard that we were expecting snow again - the last forecast I heard yesterday had been that we were to get several bright, dry days. There has been enough already that it is lying, and it is still falling steadily. Snow presents all sorts of challenges, and I hate to drive in it, so I have cancelled a trip out to a meeting tonight in a local village; the little roads are often not gritted and with the rain we have had, there will be ice under the snow. Spring cleaning/rearranging is continuing inside the house, and my friends and I are all longing for spring!

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Chimney has arrived

Yes - at last the chimney/flue for the woodburner has arrived. It's not all here, though, as some parts we ordered have been missed out of the shipment, and one part has been sent in error - the part that they have sent is a pipe that should be a shorter version of itself. Hopefully we will get it all sorted out tomorrow when the chap we are dealing with is in the office and he will despatch the right parts pronto.

There have been 9 eggs laid today, which is brilliant, considering the awful weather - it has been really cold here today and very wet. I stood in the playground for 10 minutes waiting for the YFG to come out of school - it was raining, cold and truly miserable. By the time we got home, I couldn't feel my toes and felt chilled right through, so I sat and ate some hot rice pudding, drank a hot cup of tea and put my feet on a hot water bottle - and I soon warmed up!

Today I have been clipping recipes out of a huge stack of magazines and then filing them in folders according to the type of food - main meals, cakes, biscuits, puddings, breads, etc. I have given some of the magazines away, but only the ones that were mostly intact. The rest have been hurled into the recycling bin. I have also been walking round and looking at the books on the shelves and I have started a box, in which to put the books that I no longer want so I will have to work out the best place to sell them - ebay, amazon or maybe abebooks, or even greenmetropolis: too much choice! Chucking the magazines and putting some old home-education books in the box has cleared some space on the shelves already. Clearing old stuff out is very therapeutic. The only trouble here is that there is SO much stuff that I should get rid of, and I don't want to just throw it out......

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Sharing times

Oh my gosh! What a day I have had today....had to go to the doctor's for a quick blood test, and run a couple of errands whilst I was in town - drop off some DVDs that the FH had borrowed from a friend and pick up the key to the gym for Saturday. I stopped off at FH's friend's house on the way home and had ten minutes chatting with him and his wife - he has some ducks and they have just started to lay; the first egg was laid yesterday and there were three more this morning. B was pleased and when I arrived he had just eaten two for his "brunch". When I got home, I saw that my neighbour's mum was in, so I nipped round with some magazines that I had sorted out for her last night - she was pleased, and of course, I was there for a few minutes, chatting away. Returned home, FH put the kettle on and we had a cuppa and then I picked up a smaller stack of magazines for another friend, but when I got to her house, it was obvious that she had just been crying, so I stayed with her for about an hour and had a chat.

This afternoon, I have been taking photos of an old lathe that the FH wants to sell - we aren't really sure of the best place to sell it, and had to spend some time researching the options, and we still aren't that sure!

I haven't felt that I have achieved much today, but I suppose that I have done some good in one way or another - someone asked me this morning in one of these chat sessions whether I would like to go to work! I remember replying that I don't really have time........What have I achieved today at home? Some laundry, cooked a good dinner with a pudding for a treat, made some bread, looked after the hens this afternoon, picked up the YFG from school and sold two dozen eggs. I have got some new recipes from the magazines that I need to file, so I am off to do that now, and hope to get some inspiration for meals for later in the month.

Monday, 9 February 2009


Just to share some beautiful tulips that our neighbour's mum brought me to thank me for giving her some books! Aren't they gorgeous?!
And here are the scones - they have gone down a treat here and I have sent some to school in the lunchboxes today - they are ideal with a little jam.

Thinking of others today

I have been shocked to hear of the terrible events happening in Australia at the moment - floods in Queensland and terrible fires in Victoria, with many people dead and huge numbers of lives wrecked with the homes that have been completely destroyed, indeed, whole communities of homes have been wiped out. In this country, we are seeing the coldest and snowiest weather for 20 years, whilst in Australia, some parts are suffering from the worst heatwaves in memory. It makes me stop and think - whatever struggles we are going through here, there is always, always someone with greater challenges to bear. We have so much to be thankful for in our lives at the moment.

The FGs are just enjoying chocolate swirls for breakfast, warmed over in the microwave - they are cinnamon buns without the cinnamon, with chocolate chips to replace it! The EFG and I spent a happy hour or two on Saturday afternoon trawling through an Australian website's recipes, and we came up with Lemonade Scones. We picked up the necessary ingredients when we went to the supermarket in the afternoon, and two batches have been made and enjoyed. The recipe is SO simple - just a cup of cream, a cup of lemonade and 3 cups SR flour - mix together lightly and then stamp out the scones and bake about 10 minutes at 170C in a fan oven. They rise delightfully! Photo to follow later when I find the camera. Each batch made about 16 - 20 mini scones, for very little cost - 40p for the cream, about 5p worth of lemonade and max 10p worth of flour - so very good value.

We had a death in the chicken community yesterday - one of the older girls was having difficulty breathing so we moved her to an isolation pen where she died within the hour. We think that cold weather had brought on some sort of respiratory illness, as there was no sign of any other illness; she had no sign of the tumour of which we had a hen die years ago, and we have also seen egg bound hens, and she didn't appear to be egg bound either, so we have to chalk it up to experience and let it go. The chickens are well thought of here, and respected as a part of the lifestyle we have, and their contribution to it, but we have little room for sentimentality with them.

Well, the schools are open and the FGs are raring to go. I have paperwork to organise, calls to make, housework to do and washing to hang, so we had better get going!

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Today has been a waiting game for the YFG as she was waiting, waiting, waiting for lunchtime to come around so that she could go around to her friend's house to play and then have her sleepover. Her bag was packed before breakfast, and all morning, her refrain was, "What's the time? Is it lunchtime yet?" We managed to distract her a little, and then eventually, she had her lunch and it was finally time to go!

The EFG and I went to town to do the shopping as I had found another reason to go - the chickens were running out of food, and the FH's car was desperate for petrol. He tends to run around the village and rarely goes much further, so it was down to me to take it to town and treat it to some fuel! The EFG doesn't often get to come to the shops with me, so she enjoyed a little potter around, and encouraged a few extra purchases, as she is wont to do, unfortunately.

The weather here has been freezing cold, and so the snow that is still here has become incredibly crisp underfoot. The roads to town are OK although we took it very steadily. Apparently, we may have more to come, but I have really had enough of it now!!

Friday, 6 February 2009

Schooldays confusion

It was one of those, "Will I? Won't I?" days this morning. We constantly refreshed the website where the local radio station lists the schools which are closed for the day, and our two schools did not appear, so the girls got ready and went off for their day. The little boy next door was given the day off, though, as we found out that the village school could only manage KS2 children for some reason.

I got on with the chores for the day - loaded up the dishwasher, made the beds, got the washing machine busy too, filled both breadmakers with ingredients and got them churning away, etc and then at 11.30 the call came to ask us to pick up the YFG as the school was closing! Then the FH's cousin was on the phone to say that the EFG's school were appealing on the radio for parents to go fetch their kids, and so I gave them a quick call, to be told that the village children's buses had already left - and sure enough, she walked through the door 15 minutes later!

This afternoon, the YFG has had her friend round to play, and they have baked cakes, played in the garden at making an igloo and generally been very busy. The YFG is going to her friend's house tomorrow for a sleepover, so there were lists to be made too - important stuff to be shared! Tomorrow evening is going to be quiet here!!

Gymnastics has been cancelled for tonight and tomorrow morning as the school where we hold the club was closed today and so we were unable to get in to set the equipment up - and I probably wouldn't have wanted to have driven in there tonight anyway! We will offer a class the last weekend of half term to compensate for this missed weekend. I'm glad of the rest - and it will keep me away from the shops tomorrow as we have made it a regular thing to do the grocery shopping after gym on Saturday afternoons. I don't want to make the trip into town simply for the shopping as I am not buying enough to make the miles worth it, so I will probably hope to manage until next Tuesday when I am going to the smaller town where there is a Co-op. We will run out of clementines, but we'll be fine!!

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Snowy scenes in the Fen garden

The chickens weren't keen on the white stuff this morning and had to be encouraged to come and tuck in to their breakfast!
This is the snowman which the girls made this morning with the neighbour and her son. When the scarf was removed, the snow had turned blue!!

And these are pictures of the garden at 7.30 this morning when we had just woken up to discover the overnight snowfall.

Unfortunately, it doesn't look as pristine now as children, chickens and the cat have been tromping through it all !

Lots of snow now!

Can't believe how wrong I was yesterday! The snow has really Arrived here now.....we have had about 4 inches overnight, and both of the girls' schools are closed for the day. They were up and outside at 8.30 playing, came in for a warm up and then went back out at about 10 to play with the 4 year old from next door who was out with his mum. They have all gone into his house now to play inside, and the FH has hardly moved all morning from his chair by the soon-to-be-fireside: he really wishes he had the fire there on a day like this!

I have been keeping him company, making hot breakfasts, keeping children provided with warm, dry clothes at frequent intervals and trying to get the wet ones dry again ready for the next hand over. I went out and took some photos which I will share later. I think that the breadmakers should probably go on for some cinnamon rolls, and perhaps I will make some traybakes or slices as the baked stash in the freezer is looking seriously depleted.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

In between days

The snow has mostly gone, but there are odd patches remaining in the shadows, perhaps waiting for the next fall. We are supposed to be getting a light covering tomorrow or Friday, so we will be looking out for that. We have been very lucky here in the Fens that we haven't had any major disruptions: neither of the FGs' schools have had to close, and the amount of snow that we have recieved here has actually been minimal compared to other areas. Certainly, we haven't had enough for snowmen! The FH didn't take the girls to band practice on Monday evening but the YFG and I went to gymnastics yesterday - the roads were fine as they had been well gritted.

The menu plan worked for Monday and Tuesday but I forgot to get the sausages out of the freezer for the Toad in the Hole today so they are having macaroni cheese instead - it is nice to have the flexibility to move meals around, knowing that we have the basics in the house and have that freedom. The FH has been to the local Over 60s type group and had a huge lunch there of steak and kidney pie, mash and peas, followed by pavlova and fruit - all for £3.50. He came home at 2.30 and said that he was full for the day, so I am taking him at his word! The YFG has her friend here and I will be making the pasta just for the three girls as I can't eat it. Not sure what I will be having yet.......

At the rate I am going, I will need to keep more hens from the second batch of growers for egg laying - I already have customers who have eggs regularly, but now I have someone wanting 2 dozen a week and another lady wanting a dozen regularly, so now is the time for the girls to step up production!!

The seed catalogues are coming through the post several times a week now, and I am just itching to start on the garden. I wish that the weather would clear up and get round to more Spring-like weather so that we could at least get the ground dug over ready for the plants. We have no real need to buy seeds from the catalogues as we bought so many at a very reduced price at the end of last season, but it is interesting to glance through the leaflets and see what else we might grow. I intend to grow many more beans (French/dwarf) than we grew last year, and more salad. I am also hoping that the fruit trees which we bought last year may begin to produce fruit - albeit only a few pieces, I realise! I still don't have the fruit bushes that I want so I will continue to think about those. I really want a red gooseberry as I LOVE jam made from those fruits!

We have had a setback regarding the wood burner as the flue was going to be delivered on Friday but today there has been a call from the company who are delivering it saying that it will be delayed until the 11th February as the container has been delayed somewhere. I have no idea where it is being shipped from in the container, but we just wish it would get here! And speaking of deliveries, I have ordered a book! The first since before is a copy of John Wesley's Forty Four Sermons, which I have decided to get so that I might understand the Methodist way a little better. It has been dispatched from Amazon, so hopefully it might get here before the weekend.

Monday, 2 February 2009


We have snow in the Fens today - there was a good covering this morning when we got up, but then it had mostly melted away by about 11.30. However, I know that more is forecast for the day and it is indeed snowing again right now. The chickens are not sure what to make of it, and some are staying in their house and only coming out to eat and scarper back in again as fast as possible! They have still managed to lay half a dozen eggs this morning, though, so I am pleased with that, as I thought that the freezing temperatures might put them off.

I did sort out the menu plan for the week and here it is:
Monday - leftover roast dinner from yesterday
Tuesday - Home made soup and toasted sandwiches, pudding
Wednesday - Toad in the Hole, veg and mash
Thursday - Vegetable stew with dumplings
Friday - Corned beef hash
Saturday - Sausage plait with baked beans
Sunday - Roast chicken, potatoes, parsnips, etc

The Sausage plait is on the menu for Saturday because I will need to buy some puff pastry when I do the shopping. I have everything else that I need for the week already to hand, so that means no need for shopping all week - hurray!

The snow is forecast to fall more heavily this afternoon and at "rush hour" so the FH will decide later whether to take the girls to band practice tonight - the main roads will be clear, but we have four miles of little roads to get us to the main road and those are the roads which do not get as much grit and may well be dangerous - especially if the melted snow freezes tonight and forms ice. I will have the same concerns about going to gymnastics tomorrow evening - I don't mind driving there at 3pm, it is the return journey at 8.15 pm that I worry about. I really don't like driving in these conditions and will avoid it if I possibly can!

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Family weigh-day

Well, the FH has stayed exactly the same and I have lost half a stone. That doesn't actually put me any further down the scale as most of it is the weight I put on over Christmas! Now I am just a little below what I was and can hope to move further down. Trouble is that I have been this weight before, and I get stuck here - I know that I have been here for over a week already and the scales haven't dipped any lower - so I will have to up the ante a little in terms of exercise, I think, to get it moving! The trouble with the FH is that he just loves to eat - and hates to exercise! I think that a serious cutting down of his portions might be in order this month.