Sunday, 27 October 2019

Autumn has arrived

I can tell as we have had rain pretty much non stop for so many days. And its getting colder.

Part 1:
So obviously thats a great time to have my boiler changed! Which is why on a Saturday morning in late October I am sitting in my conservatory (sitting room is out of action) with no heating, gas, water or electricty. My office, which is aorund the corner of the house form the conservatory but open into it, is so tidy and lovely. I have been chucking stuff out and decluttering all morning. Very enjoyable! But I do need something to make it just a bit lovlier. I have a curtain I might hang over the bathroom door. Its a long and narrow room so i cant really move the furniture around. I dont like the flooring so maybe a rug would help. I have plenty of time to contemplate it as I sit here in the cold and gloom :)

Part 2:
Boiler is in, water is back on, as is gas, power, heating(ah, lovely) and the wifi. I am always appreciative of these luxuries, especially since when we are at the other house the power and water often go off for hours at a time, but i'll be especially grateful today having been without them yesterday.

My old boiler was about 30 years old. Gas Man Adam tells me that the new poiler is 98% efficient so my gas bill should plummet. So good for m y purse, good for the enviroment. I might allow the heating on more often too, so good for the rest of the family too!

I am writing this from the conservatory still. We havent taken all the furntiure back in and cleared up properly yet. Its still not especially warm out here, and this is our largest room, so I am wondering if lining the curtains and remembering to shut them at night might be a good idea. I like to have some indoor projects to do during winter so maybe thats on my list, and also covering the chaors. The old fabric is not my favourite but I have some lovely fabric i brought back from Crete which would work.

We cleared all of the shoes, boots, bags, coats and general clutter form the hallways yesterday to make it easier for the gasmen. It looks so good that we are trying to leave it relatively unlcuttered. I wonder how long that will last!

So today is all about putting furniture and other bits back/away. The sitting room needs a bit of touch up to the painting in the but basically its ok, not much. The fireplace where the old back boiler was is going to be lined and framed off and used to store the sky box, games consules, surround sound and so on.

The wall where the thermostt used to be is now clear of stuff so I plan to put a large miroor there. Oh and Jamal now has a wardrobe, the old airing cupboard but the tank is removed and the boiler is fairly small. I am sure he wont be any more tidy than he was before though.

And Happy Diwali to all

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Super Saturday

Thats what the papers are calling today. First time parliament has sat on a Saturday for 37 years. However I wont be talking about that because I am heartily fed up with all of our politicians & with the B word.

So instead!

Its rained all week here. If i had anything still growing on the allotment then it would be very happy. Instead its raining and neither my garden nor the allotment really care. Doh!

Fahed and Jamal were working over there this week though on our new 'no dig' way of doing things.
We'll be planting garlic and shallots in this bed at the end of the month.

And today, as most Saturdays, I went out with my dad. We went to look at gas fires. And then for lunch at Wetherspoons.

This afternoon was back home to help in the garden. fahed is building what he calls a barbecue but what seems to be turning into an outdoor kitchen. But i love cooking in the garden so its all good with me :)

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Lets talk about something good!

  • I went to the other house and it was lovely!

  • My dad came with us, with my youngest son, for the first 5 days.  Its his first time since losing my mum and he definitely had some sad moments, as did I, but overall he was happy he came and he did enjoy himself. My other son and his girlfriend stayed for another week after that. We had a great time but less holidayish and more work, work, work :). After they went we had a final 8 days with just Fahed and I, and that was even more work! But it was great and I love the progress we make in such a short time.

  • I have a got done list!

  • Property registered. Everyone was telling me what a complete arse ache this was but because we accidentally had the property only in one name and because, although we have multiple houses (only one fit for purpose) they are all on one piece of land. On top of that the surveyor who legalised our land had already confirmed the GPS co-ordinates. So I was happy with this and it certainly didn't cost as much as these things normally seem to do!
  • Had an electric plan made of the old house which we can use to change the name on the electricity supply. It surprisingly hard to get the name change (hence 12 years later still in my neighbours late fathers name) but we have made progress.
  • We enquired about the old stone water tower which is behind and above our house, 5.5m sq and 3m high, and found that because it has been out of use for more than 15 years then it now belongs to us. We need to fit windows and doors but suddenly we have another potential rental property and at the very least, a way to gain an extra bedroom.

  • I had three more cameras fitted at the house. We can see all sides from outside, one inside upstairs,one inside downstairs, and my favourite,. One that looks out from my balcony towards the sea :). So far the biggest problem with this is that it makes me homesick!

  • We re-purchased all of the goods that we had stolen so that the insurance company could have the receipts. I have submitted everything and am waiting on the cheque.
  • One of those re-puchases was for a plate compactor. Fahed fixed our drive, which is basically a road about 1590m long and the last 20 metres down tot he official road was awful, like driving off a cliff awful but now its smooth and lovely!

  • He also started work on the garden. Got all the long grasses and weeds cut back, laid some membrane, laid 10 ton (yes, actual ten tons) of scalping's and compressed them into a sensible back yard where you can walk with falling over. We also surveyed the rest of the land, which is pretty difficult to climb around and found we have about 7 olives trees, numerous carob trees and a couple of figs trees. We need to take the chain saw out in spring and really sort the poor neglected old things out. We also need to sort out a watering system.

  • The kids painted their bedroom and it looks so lovely that we now feel the need to paint everything else. We also identified that the windows on the side which butts up to a rock face have never been filled properly, so that needs doing before we paint the others.
  • We bought some wood and made shelves for their room, and they look fantastic.

  • Fahed framed a wonderful abstract oil painted map of the world to hang in our room. 
  • Today I am hoping we can make a plan of our spring 'to do' list.

  • Now I need to try to add some phots!

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

More, just more of the same

I am sure anyone who reads will be sick and tired of my bad news stories but this week, or actually last week, is the worst.

I saw an email from work on Tuesday morning after bank holiday that said 'someone in finance has died over the weekend and we are making the announcement at ten,can we please ask you to keep the other teams away from us at ten and afterwards'. Apparently the email shouldn't have come to me. So y boss phones and before he can speak I say ' I saw the email, on my way to the office'. He was waiting for me and ushered me into a side room where I was told the bad news. One of our younger team members was killed the previous day. Such a lovely girl, just an absolute ray of sunshine. Only 27. She worked for me for many years before getting her current position in another part of the finance team. None of us could believe it, and I think perhaps we still cant. Although there is today a newspaper article naming her as the girl hit by an express train and killed outright on the bank holiday Monday..

We had a few people in missing from the office so me and the other managers had to phone them as we were afraid they would see it on social media first and that's no way to hear about a friend. Then we realised we have someone missing and she then rings in the say husband has suffered a small stroke but is fine, having to get him comfortable and should be in later. We all spent the day at work together, no one wanted to go home and be alone and later got another call. Husband had deteriorated and life support would be switched off as soon as the transplant surgeons are ready. So by Wednesday morning at 6.30am its all over.

We are being offered grief counselling but I dont know if thats a help. At elast we all ahve each other to talk to. I think those who were away had it worst. Those poor families too. Just so awful.

I was so determined to post about good things but life is very much getting in the way.

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Summer Rain

The middle of summer on the sunny south coast of England, and the rain is falling heavily enough to keep us indoors again. We were hoping to do some concreting in the back garden today so hopefully it does perk up.

My big black cat has just come in from the rain and looks so wet that he could be a river creature. He is purring like crazy as he washes himself dry so i guess he either loves the rain or loves no longer being out in it.

I bought Fahed a bottle of cola when i did the shopping last week. He used to have 8 bottles a week but I have been weening him off. When i went to put it in the boot of his car i found the last two weeks still in there. This is since ibought some of the 2l reusable water bottles. He fills them after use and puts them in the fridge. They are big enough to stay cold right through his swimming sessions if he wraps them in a towel. I am very pleased with him, Better for him, better for the environment and better for my shopping budget.

I made 5 jars of jam. Its not a lot but it took a bucket of plums, less the overripe and bug infested ones. I dont think I realised how little jam you can get from a bucket of fruit. So much for my idea to bottle Chinese plum sauce. The tree still has a little fruit but its really all to overripe. My jamming facebook group tells me that jam etc from them wont set.  Dad cant pick the plums as his tree is on uneven ground but he got a couple of younger neighbours (i.e. one in her 80's and one in her 60's) to come in and help themselves to those which we failed to pick and use. But we ate loads. However very few were wasted so thats good. I roasted the plums for about half an hour, then made jam as usual but also inludes about 30g of fresh ginger. Its really there in the finished jam. Very lovely.

And look. I made labels! Well i used an online thing to make them and printed them at work so y'know, i sort of made them.

Talking about facebook groups. I have joined one for jams and stuff, one for fermenting and one for cheesemaking. Added to that I have unfollow nearly everyone I know plus all news sites, suddenly the world is a much happier place.

Have a lovely week everyone out there and dont get bogged down in the nasty stuff.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

A very windy Saturday

BBC news this morning says a million people were without power during the night. We seem to have been quite lucky here. Very wet on and off and very windy but we appear to have survived unscathed.

Today I am off out with my dad to the garden centre, and then fr lunch We don't need anything but we need something to do which isn't too taxing but he finds interesting.

If there are any plums left on his tree then i am going to collect a bucketful. I am planning plum and ginger jam and a Chinese plum sauce. I do enjoy making preserves, even if they arent good for me to eat.

The lady who made my sofa covers came to fit them mid week. Sadly they didn't fit so she took them away again and will be back in a month. I have the seat cushions and back cushions in a lovely new hard wearing blue fabric. The rest is still the cream fabric of the sofa but its a start!

Hope the weather improves tomorrow as we are mixing concrete for garden work there is a ton each of sand and gravel and 200kg of cement I guess we are doing quite a lot!

These are the recipes I have been given:
Chinese Plum Sauce Prep Time 10 mins Cook Time 40 mins Total Time 50 mins   Chinese plum sauce is the perfect recipe to preserve summer plums into a lightly sweet, lightly tart, and lightly spiced condiment that has many uses.  Yield: roughly 1 cup of sauce* Course: Condiment Cuisine: Asian, Chinese Keyword: jam, plums, preserving Servings: 8 (2 Tbsp) servings Author: Sarah | Curious Cuisiniere Ingredients 1 lb plums, pitted and chopped ¼ c apple cider vinegar ½ c brown sugar 1 Tbsp soy sauce 1 ½ Tbsp fresh ginger, minced 1 clove garlic, minced ½ star anise 1/8 tsp dried chile flakes Instructions Combine pitted and chopped plums with the remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, until the plum skins are very soft, 20 min. Remove the pan from the heat and remove the half star anise. Puree the mixture with a stick blender until smooth. (Or, let the mixture cool slightly and transfer it to a blender and blend until smooth). Return the mixture to the heat and bring it to a hard simmer over medium high heat, stirring often to prevent sticking. Cooking until the sauce is thick and jammy, roughly 20 minutes.* Remove from heat and let cool if refrigerating for up to 3 weeks. If canning your sauce, can while the sauce is hot using the boiling water canning method.  Recipe Notes *Actual cook time and yield will vary depending on the juiciness of your plums and your desired thickness for your sauce.

Read more at Curious Cuisiniere: Chinese Plum Sauce

and this one. Which is plum chutney even thought i thought we decided on plum and ginger jam. Never mind

Plum chutney
This is Pam Corbin's (or "Pam the Jam" as we call her around these parts) recipe for plum chutney, and the perfect way to preserve some of the summer glut into the winter. It's delicious with cold meats. Makes 10-11 340g jars.

1kg plums, quartered and stoned
1.5kg apples or pears or a mixture, peeled, cored and diced
500g shallots
250g stoned prunes, roughly chopped
500g soft light brown sugar
600ml cider vinegar or white-wine vinegar
2 tsp dried chilli flakes (optional)
For the spice bag
50g fresh root ginger, bruised
2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tsp black peppercorns

Make your spice bag by tying up the spices in a 20cm square of muslin. Put this into a preserving pan with all the other ingredients and bring slowly to the boil, stirring occasionally. This will take a while, but don't hurry it.

Let the mixture simmer, uncovered, for 2½-3 hours. Keep an eye on it and stir regularly to ensure it doesn't burn. It's ready when it's thick and glossy, rich in colour and well reduced, but still with chunks of fruit discernible. It is thick enough if, when you draw a wooden spoon through, the chutney parts to reveal the pan's base for a few seconds.

Pot the chutney while warm in warm, sterilised jars. Pack down with the back of a spoon to remove any air pockets. Seal with vinegar-proof lids. Store in a cool, dark place and leave for a couple of months to mature before using. Use within two years.

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Whats new??

I lost 4kg :) (only another cazillion to lose but lets not dwell on that)

We booked our autumn trip to the Crete house. Jamal will be here at home to take care of the house and animals except for a short break for him when my lovely next door neighbour will come in.

We had a revelation abut how Fahed's working all day Saturday and then being s tired that dinner is followed swiftly by bed time is just not fun. He loves his job though so we don't want to stop the service to the kids. So clever Lizzie realised that Tuesday night could be an option. He couldnt use the pool on Tuesday night previously but now he can so we are moving everyone over, assuming they wish to go. That means short days Monday, Friday and 1/2day Saturday. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday home about 9 or 10pm. Plenty of hours work but still some time to do other things. Lets see how that works out.

I have ordered new fence panels and concrete gravel board to be delivered next week for the fence of hours which is currently falling to pieces. I went to 4 different places to price it up (gives me and dad something to do on a Saturday) and also checked online. The ones we have gone with are not the cheapest but they are the best quality for the money. They are all pre treated (pressure treated with preservative) and have 25 year guarantee. Oh and free delivery because of the amount spent.

Next weekend is our weekend of concrete, assuming it doesnt rain. Fahed has to order the delivery of ton of sand and another of pea shingle on Monday or we wont be making concrete.

Wednesday the lady who is making my sofa cover (I tried to do it myself, i really did) is coming to fit it. Very excited.

What’s new with you?

Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Mid week post!

Go me!

I still don't know why I don't get notified of comments but I have worked out how to comment on the posts of others again. Or I haven't exactly but if I read blogs on my laptop then I can, even though the ipad and phone version still evades me. Nonetheless it progress!

This week I have to order 5 fence panels and 7 concrete gravel boards for one side of the garden. Fahed is ordering sand, cement and something else i have forgotten. A lady is coming to fit my new sofa covers. Its all go here.

The shed looks great. We were merciless in our de-cluttering. At least I was. I wouldn't be surprised to find that Fahed was sneaking things back in. He is such a squirrel. We enjoyed him being off from Saturday lunchtime during the 'toe injury period' that we are going to try to move his students from Saturday pm to Tuesday evening, Fingers crossed. If it works it will be great. I am used to spending Saturday on my own, and with my dad of course, but it feels like every week is a holiday when we are both home.

And today we went over to the allotment at about7.30am and picked loads of beans, dig potatoes, pulled our shallots and garlic (which were rubbish!) so feeling very pleased with ourselves. We have fruit to pick as well but not when its raining.

Now for some blog reading, since I have worked out how to do it properly again!

Sunday, 28 July 2019


Blogger has stopped messaging me to tell m e when someone comments. Anyone know what I have done?

A weekend at home

Fahed cut his foot in the garden last week. Right down to the bone. Eek. He did it with a sharpened spade. So it all became infected as you would expect. Half of his work is poolside and the other is in the water. So for two weeks he could do only poolside. That's his actual job, the lessons int he pool are private so although we shan't have much money next month he doesn't get into trouble for missing work.  So all this is leading to... he has been home with me a lot more in the evenings and Saturdays. So we have being doing all our The Good Life thing plenty. With the allotment now producing and stocking up with veg at the Asian supermarket we have been preserving and fermenting like crazy. We haven't got round to using the the fathers day gift of a smoker yet though.

With all this extra home work time we have all the wood ready for the next stage of the BBQ (for BBQ in this instance read;outside kitchen. It has a BBQ, sink and oven and takes up about 4 metres of my tiny garden.). So now we just need to order a ton of sand and another of gravel to get mixing for the concreting. We have the kids all here to help two weeks today, assuming that the temperature doesn't go back up.

Yesterday he did his four morning hours and was already working outside when i got back from lunch with my dad. He decided his shed/workshop is too over crowded and messy but he isnt really good at getting rid of things. Luckily I am!  All the wood which was actually junk went on the bonfire with the garden waste. I have a pile of stuff to be completed. A pile for the dump and a pile for giving way on Facebook.  We kept busy until time to go back to dads at around 7pm, so I feel like we already had our Sunday at home, and here I am, coffee in hand planning our Sunday of pottering about doing stuff.

So I am sorry Fahed's toe was painful and infected, sorry we missed out of two weeks of extra money from one to one lessons and all that but I had a couple of lovely busy home loving weekends, so yay!

And he is a random picture of the sausages we made (hopefully)

Saturday, 27 July 2019

And now July and not long until August

I have been getting back into my routines but apparently not my blogging routine. Oops.

Last time I think I mentioned my blood sugar had gone bonkers lately. The doctor said it was stress, sent me for grief counselling (I didn’t go, don’t tell him) and quadrupled my medication. There is a slight improvement when they check it this month. However in my diabetic review my blood pressure was waaaay up. Enough for the nurse to run for the doctor and I left with new medication and  an appointment for four days later.  All this tells me it’s time to lose weight and exercise more. Monday I’m back on the ultra low calorie diet which works so well with type 2 diabetes. Also walking to work  and generally fitting exercise into my routine again. All I do atthe moment is work and go to dads. I need to balance taking care of dad with taking care of me.
One lot
Exercise I am
Getting is working on the allotment ( rented vegetable patch if not familiar). Jamal and I work there for a few hours each week
And always my legs ache and my
Tummy feels like I have been doing sit up. So that’s a good thing, right? Also means I have got to that age where any sign of rain has me saying ‘oh lovely, just right for the garden’.  This week we had three days of 33 degrees so some rain would definitely be welcome, although temperature has broken today and should be mid 20s.
We have been doing all sorts of fun things lately, making sausages, making kimchi and pickles. I made jam with dad’s loganberries. It’s all very ‘The Good Life’ and I am Barbara!
I guess it’s time to move. I can’t sit in bed reading, writing, surrounded by kitty cats and drinking coffee all day. Can I?

Autumn has arrived

I can tell as we have had rain pretty much non stop for so many days. And its getting colder. Part 1: So obviously thats a great time t...