Wednesday, 30 July 2008

My family and other people's animals

The Breezy Household has upped sticks and moved a couple of kilometres up the road to house sit for a friend who is currently somewhere between here and Scotland with five horses, four cats and two dogs. I racked my brains for something she had three of but couldn’t come up with anything. Sorry.

She has got three sheep but they are still here waiting for their new owner to pick them up. We don’t really have a clue about sheep but we are armed with a telephone number of someone who does. Anyway they don’t look too fragile. In fact they are the sturdiest sheep I’ve ever seen. They seem happy enough with a bit of fresh bedding and water and are just getting on with doing sheep stuff round the back.

We seem to have inherited Stan the cockerel and Mrs Stan who in keeping with the Dinnerladies theme is now Petula Gordino. She is keeping her distance from the Dinnerladies and roosts in one of the barns. Stan obviously has an eye for quantity over quality and roosts with our girls but goes running off every morning as soon as we let him out to search for his free spirited wife. I was entertaining thoughts of Warren x Maran chicks running around the place but judging by Stan’s behaviour I think not. He’s very good at the virile poses and the cock-a-doodle-doing but that’s as far as it goes. His love for the Dinnerladies and Petula is a pure courtly kind of love. He’ll defend them from the kittens to the death but there won’t be any of the other kind of nonsense thank you very much.

Eddie and Ernie are having the time of their lives stalking the Dinnerladies and being chased by Stan, playing at jungle warfare in the valerian, climbing trees and exploring the dark depths of the yew hedge. We no longer hear the thunder of tiny kitten feet while we are trying to get to sleep at night just have two exhausted little bundles curled up on the bed.

Now that Sissy is convinced that the two dogs, four cats, five horses are no longer about she has stopped going to sit in the car and is happily ambling around the place. The sheep are a bit scary though so she never ventures round the back of the house unaccompanied.

TS is off somewhere with a bill hook hacking through brambles exploring and looking for evidence of the fish farm that was once supposed to be here.
I’m missing my garden, especially since my replacement fork from Spear and Jackson was delivered yesterday. Still it’s only down the road. Failing that there is fifty acres to go at here.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Just pottering

I'm having a slow start today. With no need to charge off and do anything in particular I'm having a quick wander round everyone's blogs seeing what they've all been up to. Moonroot has been talking about creativity and how the Summer brings it out in her and also about the battery hens she has rescued. Read their stories I guarantee it will bring a tear to your eye.

Last year I so wanted to get everything just right and do everything that I had read about or seen on tv about self sufficiency. I spent lots of time running round in circles and I used up loads of energy worrying about how to do things instead of just getting on with it. This year I've calmed down a bit I'm the new chilled out me. I stay chilled out for oh hours at a time. With only slight episodes of veg plot envy and wishing for a finished house.

And low and behold

We have a wider range of potential food in the garden.

I'm using the food because it gets picked and I get on and make something with it.

I'm using up all the groceries I buy because I just get on and do something with them.

I have made

Redcurrant jelly - and used it with duck and in desserts

Apricot jam - with just enough apricots to make three jars instead of a boat load that put me under pressure to use them all.

Roast Aubergine and Tomato Quiche and Roast Aubergine and Tomato Soup I didn't think I liked aubergines

Beetroot Soup - a delicious surprise, who would of thought that would taste great?

oh and many curries and cornish pasties to fill up the freezer and make quick meals for working days and lots of other stuff.

Today I'm going to work in the garden till lunchtime when it gets too hot. Then cook up yesterday's shopping and whatever I get out of the garden this morning.

So sorry but I just have to get on now because next door has far more stuff growing than me.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Spear and Jackson You are great

My favourite gardening thing is my Spear and Jackson border fork. It was my treat, a really good fork stainless steel with a wooden handle all traditional looking. It made me feel like a proper gardener. At least it did till TS managed to break the handle.

I have looked in vain for a replacement handle and of course every English person I mention it to says "Ah fork handles! The Two Ronnies!". So this morning I decided to look at their web site. I e-mailed them to ask if they had a stockist near Limoges or someone who could supply one mail order to France, mentioning to TS that they were in Sheffield so were bound to be nice folks.

Well they were. I had an e mail back today to say if I supplied them with my address and an image of the fork they would send me a replacement fork under guarantee. I am amazed and delighted

For those of you who don't immediately think of the Two Ronnies whenever fork handles are mentioned

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Stan Stan he's our man

Those wonderfully well travelled chickens of ours the Dinnerladies are on holiday again.

Like all the best holidays there is deluxe accommodation, great scenery and a little bit of holiday romance.

Meet Stan. Quite dashing isn't he? He lives at our friend's house and only has one wife a very glamourous looking copper marran. He escorts her around the place pointing out to her the choicest titbits of food. They make a lovely couple. Except now she's gone broody and left him to his own devices. He was finding it all a bit depressing really.

So enter the Dinnerladies. What they lack in glamour they make up for in quantity. Stan certainly thought so, when he spotted them across the lawn in the chicken run. He couldn't get over there fast enough. It was like he'd been starving and we'd offered him bread or erm something along those lines.

We worried how they might react to each other as we opened the gate to let him in. Would there be trouble and pecking orders to be established? No need. Once in the run he struck virile poses while the Dinnerladies gathered round to admire him. You could almost hear Dolly saying "ooower he's a bit of alright isn't he Jean?"

An hour or so later our girls were back to scratching around and exploring their new run while Stan proudly stood guard.

Although I don't know how Mrs Stan is going to react when she decides to emerge from her nest in the barn.

We will be joining the Dinnerladies on vacation in a couple of weeks as our friend is moving back to the UK and we are going to stay at her house so we can empty ours out and varnish the floors. But we felt so sorry for Stan we just had to send them on ahead

Tuesday, 8 July 2008


Yesterday. It was raining. Our septic tank appeared to be full.

We were depressed.

TS bravely tackled the grease trap but no noticeable improvement and a great deal more smellyness were the only results.

I emailed some friends to ask them who had emptied their tank and how much it cost. They came back with a depressing figure of £225 euros 4 years ago. We were more depressed. So we shut the window on the stinky side of the house, opened the window on the lavender side and had some lunch.

Then the aforementioned friends called by "Had we sorted it out?" No we were depressed so we were watching an episode of Lexx and hoping it would all go away.

Diagrams were drawn and septic tank systems discussed and inevitably the discussion moved to the garden where we all stood and looked at the hatch of the offending and offensive fosse. Trying to breathe through our mouths.

The looking turned into poking about with a spade and the suggestion that the outflow could be blocked and the pipe should be followed to it's conclusion. Some hours and several deep holes later the pipe was traced to the hedge at the bottom of the garden but we just couldn't find it on the other side. Although we did find quite a lot of a Citroen (roof, windscreen, bonnet).

The next stage was to drill a hole in the pipe so that rods could be stuck in to clear any blockage and hopefully show where the exit was. After a volcanic eruption of whatever all over the tomatoes (pizza anyone?). The end was in sight. It was then simply a matter of clearing a channel for the liquid to flow on into the woods.

Friends. They get you out of the shit.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

I will say this only once

I know it's another kitten photo but this one of Eddie was just so good I can't resist.
I have a confession to make. the French lessons have fallen by the wayside due to TS having work that pays money. It's a shame but given the choice of eating and paying bills or sitting ecoutez-ing and répétez -ing it's no contest. However, all is not lost because we are plowing on with the Michel Thomas CDs. He has cleared up a lot of mysteries for me and I might finally be finding a French voice.
Than again.
Yesterday the phone rang I said "Hello". Like you do, you are perhaps thinking. But no it's not just a random choice of word it's for two reasons.
One it's probably someone English ringing and
Two if it's not then it's easier all round if the person on the other side of the phone doesn't start off with any great expectations about having a conversation.
It was a French lady so I did my usual "I'm sorry I only speak a little French but if you speak slowly then perhaps I will understand"
She asked if we had a freezer I proudly confirmed we did, Because we have. A bargain buy the other week for the princely sum of twenty euros that is so old and noisy it has to live in the barn but it makes stuff cold, really cold.
Anyway she was from a frozen food company and would we like to buy some with free delivery. Thinking of the portion of curry and brown sliced loaf that are the sole beneficieries of all the freeezy coldness going on in the barn I expressed guarded interest.
Well the upshot of the shooting my mouth off in French is that they are turning up on a Friday between 9 and 10 and may or may not be making a delivery of some stuff that may include salmon, scallops, ice cream and cauliflower. Or that could of been an example of an order. Oh and I'm not altogether sure which Friday either.
But I will be receiving a free recipe book.
I think.