29 August 2014

Three Dogs and a Hedgehog

As you will know, if you read my blog, I have lots of animals, including 3 dogs. Metro is a 10 year old collie who I re-homed from a rescue centre 8 years ago. He is the loveliest, sweetest, gentlest dog you could ever imagine, who prefers sleeping on the sofa to running around in the field, hates getting wet, hates being muddy even more and he sleeps with me on my bed at night. 

Then there is Levi. He's a 7 year old Dalmation who we got as a cute little teeny puppy. He's mad and boisterous and his tail never stops wagging. He's an incredibly sweet natured dog who loves to play fetch although it's somewhat hit and miss as to whether or not he will actually bring the ball back to you, he will chase after it for hours. He has only 2 speeds, 8,000 miles an hour or fast asleep and has the attention span of a gnat!!

Photos with Levi in them are always a blur I can never get him to sit still long enough to get a decent picture 

Indie and his bestest buddy Levi .... another blur :-)

Lastly, there is Indie. A 4 year old Alaskan Malamute. He is cuddly and affectionate, doesn't know his own strength, regularly falls over his big, hairy feet and for such a big dog with a massive bark he's a big old scaredy cat, scared of his own shadow.

Indie loves water ..... especially bubbly bath water 

Now, last night, as I took the dogs out for their final trot around the garden before bed, I discovered the cutest little hedgehog sitting on the patio. Amazingly, the dogs all reacted differently to the little hedgehog but all acted true to their nature. Metro wandered over and gently licked the startled hedgehog on the end of it's nose just as it curled up into a tight little ball, Levi charged past it, ran round in circles for a couple of minutes and then charged off having been distracted by a bat flying overhead and Indie took one look at it, tucked his tail under his bum and ran back inside, refusing to come out until I had relocated the big, scary, spikey thing to the top of the garden.

Cute, isn't he :-)

27 August 2014

A Room Full of Smoke!!

Well, in order to try and appease the hibernation yearning, I had a good look in my food cupboards and began to compile a list of all the things I needed to stock up on. I then took my list off to the shops and started the mammoth task of filling the cupboards. As a rule I try and buy local as much as possible which, to be honest, is really easy for me because I just buy it at the market where I have my stall but, there are things like pasta and rice that I can't get from there that I have to go to the local supermarkets to get. I'm quite fortunate in that I live quite close to a couple of big shops and so I visit both in order to get the best bargains on offer because, lets face it, there is no point in paying more than necessary for things if you don't have to. Anyway, shopping done and stored away I then made a list of the things I wanted to make to fill up the freezer.

This morning, I was busy making more cakes and pies and casseroles ready for the freezer when I thought it might be a good idea to light a fire in the living room so that when I finished cooking, I could go and sit down in the warm and have a nice cup of tea. I lit the fire, popped the fire guard in front of it and went to check on the cakes in the oven. When I came back, the living room was full of black smoke which had blown back down the chimney and into the house. Try as I might I just couldn't clear it without opening all the doors and windows as wide as they would go but, in order to do this, I had to round up all my cats and take them to the spare bedroom because they are indoor cats and the windows have window locks which only allow them to open a certain amount.

So, after herding 7 cats upstairs and wrangling them into the bedroom, I flung open all the doors and widows and finally managed to clear the smoke in about 5 minutes. In the middle of all this, one of my neighbours banged on my door with the electrician, to have a look at their water pump and give a quote for some electrical work that needs doing. The neighbour's pump lives in a pump house in my garden where the borehole is, along with the pump that serves my house so, I pointed out where the pump lived and followed them over to make sure everything was ok. I was slightly miffed and more than a little concerned when he started poking around and tugging on random wires before commenting that the whole thing looked as if it needed replacing and that my cable was looking a bit dodgy as well. He then gave my cable a massive tug and a wiggle and asked if I'd had any trouble with the water pump shorting out. It was obvious that he was angling for more business and if he had caught me on a normal day I would have politely pointed out that I hadn't had any problems with things shorting out and that I'm of the mind that if it's not broken then there is no need to interfere but, as I was mid crisis, with a house-full of smoke and he kept on tugging on my cables I'm afraid he got a snippy reply of "well I'm sorry but I'm not having it done at the moment and could you please be careful and not damage my cable". I wouldn't mind but it wasn't even my pump and cables that he was supposed to be looking at.

He gave me a most unpleasant look, gave the cable another hard tug and put the lid back on. I have to say, I'm hoping that my neighbours don't use that particular electrician because I'm not sure that I trust him around my electrics! As for the chimney, I'm sure it's just the wind blowing down the valley the wrong way but before I light another fire, I think I'm going to get the chimney swept just be sure there aren't any blockages up there so ....... I guess I will be freezing for a while until I can get it sorted.

26 August 2014

Rain Rain Go Away

Well it's Tuesday morning, it's been raining hard for the last 32 hours, it's still raining and I discovered yesterday that I have a leak in my roof which is coming in through the bathroom ceiling. It's so bad I have had to put a bowl underneath it to catch the drips! I have no idea what I'm going to do apart from keeping everything crossed that the rain will stop, but I'm sure that something will come to me.

On a more positive note, I harvested my first apple yesterday. In fact I picked two and made an apple crumble with them, they were delicious :-)

My tomatoes on the other hand are looking very sorry for themselves. Most of them haven't ripened and I'm not sure what I should do with them. I don't know if they will ripen by themselves if I pick them and put them on a windowsill or whether I should be looking up a recipe for green tomato chutney. Any thoughts??

I'm not ready for Autumn, it's caught me completely on the hop. I haven't done my final lawn mowing of the year, I haven't collected any sticks or fallen logs for the fire, which I start doing at the end of August before the weather turns nasty, I haven't bought any coal for the fire and I haven't started filling up the freezer for the Winter in case of snow. I know the last one sounds a bit odd but I live at the bottom of a valley and have been snowed in a couple of times before so I always like to make sure I have enough food for both myself and all the animals to last if it happens again. I feel as if I need to rush and start getting ready for Winter and I seem to have an overwhelming urge to start baking and cooking and stocking up ........ weird!!

Anyway, today I am going to start to rectify the situation, I'm going to bake lots of bread, some pies and casseroles and a couple of cakes and I'm going to start filling up the freezer. I'm also going to go through the cupboards and see what I'm short of and make a shopping list for payday so I can go and stock up. I might even look into something like Approved Food. I have heard good things about the bargains you can get from there and I might see if it's worth placing an order. It would be interesting to hear if any of you have used Approved Food and have any useful tips?? 

25 August 2014

The First Fire of the Year

I don't know what's wrong with me at the moment, but I'm really, really tired. I haven't been working any harder than normal and I haven't been doing anything out of the ordinary but for some reason I'm tired. I woke up at almost 9am this morning which is so not like me, I'm usually up and about by 7am and yesterday afternoon I was so tired that I curled up on the sofa and had a nap. I think it's the weather, I may me going into hibernation mode early this year. It's raining and it's cold and yesterday, when I went to the car boot sale at 7.45am, it was 6 degrees!! That's 10 degrees lower than this time last week and when I got back with my haul of goodies, I was so chilly that I caved and lit a fire! In august ..... whoever heard of such a thing. I would have put the heating on but oil is so absolutely, extortionately expensive now ....... £500 each time I have a tank full of oil ..... so I am going to have to be really careful with it this winter and only have the oil-fired heating on a couple of hours each day to heat the water. Heating for the house is going to have to come from burning coal and logs on the fire and from putting on extra layers of clothes. I am also going to be making a massive draught excluder for in front of the living room door to try and keep the cold out of the living room and putting a thicker curtain over the front door. I know that some of the bloggers I follow have amazing tips for thrifty living and for keeping costs down and these have been very helpful but if anyone has any tips for stretching a small budget a bit further I would be most interested to hear them. It all helps.

18 August 2014

What a Difference a Week Makes

What a difference in the weather, last Sunday, I was happily snapping away in the sunshine like a demented, camera happy tourist while collecting bits of driftwood and shells and generally having a lovely time on one of my local beaches. Yesterday, the weather was grey, the Cornish mizzle, a cross between mist and drizzle had firmly set in and the whole atmosphere was decidedly autumnal and gloomy. Still, I'm not one to let a bit of rain stop me from having a walk by the sea so I hopped in the car and nipped off to Looe with my camera to pretend to be a tourist again and see if there was anything interesting to find on the beach.

I was thrilled to find a new local shop on the quay, I'm all for promoting local produce and I buy locally as often as I can, usually from the market where I have my stall but I also like to support other local retailers if I can. I bought some lovely mushrooms which I had for my breakfast when I got home, they were absolutely delicious.

And of course there is Pengelly's where I buy my fish whenever I'm in Looe

Banjo pier was looking empty and gloomy.

The fishing boats were having a day off.

I did spot something I've never seen before though, even though I have been visiting Looe for the last 11 years. A cute little petrol pump for the boats to use all neatly tucked away on the quayside.

I really love this old building, it would make an awesome house or workshop space, preferably both at the same time. I have a sneaking feeling though that I love it so much because the doors and windows are painted in a colour very similar to my front door. It's my new favourite colour. 

And despite the mizzle, these geraniums are totally beautiful and cheer up the gloomiest of days. 

The beach was deserted. Apart from a flock of seagulls having a nap on the sand and a couple of brave souls who had obviously finished their breakfast quickly and headed to the beach early in time to beat the rush there was no one in sight. Not only was it empty of people though, there was no driftwood or shells or anything at all. For some reason, the council have taken to scraping the beach with a tractor each day after the tide goes out to get rid of every trace of, well, just about everything that you would usually find on a beach. There is no life left at all, which is a real shame. I have no idea what they do with the seaweed and of course, the sea creatures that live within the micro-ecosystems within the seaweed, after they have scraped it all away but I'm guessing that not much survives. I don't understand why they have to do this. I'm assuming it's because the tourists don't like seaweed on their beaches. Ridiculous if you ask me but then I suppose that's just a personal opinion. Collecting shells was one of my favourite things to do when I was a child and we went to the beach.

A totally barren beach 

And finally there was this little fellow. I know a lot of people think that these birds are pests but I love the way they hop and walk along the ground. He was very obliging too and I managed to get nice and close to get a picture.

17 August 2014

Childhood Memories

Whenever I go to the car boot sale on a Sunday morning and drive onto the field to park, I get the overwhelming feeling that I'm getting out of the car after travelling from Sheffield to Anglesey at the start of the summer holidays I had as a child. It has that same feeling of fresh sea air, warm sunshine and anticipation, I know that sounds odd but it's a really nice, nostalgic feeling and it always makes me smile. We went to the same place on holiday every year, a friendly little camping and caravan site in Pentraeth, Anglesey and while a lot of people might find that a bit dull, to me it was fabulous. As a child, the most exciting thing was getting up at 4am, whispering to each other in the cool night air as we packed everything into the car and set off on the long journey. Amazing to get all that just from driving onto a field in Cornwall.

It's strange how the most mundane things remind me of when I was a child. Recently, we had a new water treatment system installed and as a result, we aren't allowed to use a whole load of things like bleach and antibacterial liquids because it kills off the bacteria that digests the icky stuff in the system. One of the other changes I've had to make is my laundry powder. Apparently, powder can solidify and clog up the drain pipes and the system itself so I've had to change to a laundry liquid. In addition to this, I've had to change from a biological detergent to a non-bio one, again, to keep the little buggers alive. Anyway, just after the system was installed, I nipped off to the shop and grabbed the nearest bottle of non-bio liquid and dashed off home to do some laundry and the minute I opened the bottle, I was once again, instantly, transported back to my childhood. Back to that cute little caravan on Anglesey and to the smell of freshly washed laundry, sunshine, salty seaside air, bacon, frying in the morning and freshly cut grass. Those amazing holidays we had in our little Sprite Musketeer caravan were filled with long sunny days on Lligwy beach playing in our dinghy in the tidal pool left behind after the tide went out. Eating sandwiches on the beach while wrapped in a towel with salty hair and sandy hands which had gone all pruney from being in the sea so long. Playing cricket on the camp site with the friends who went there every year at the same time as we did and usually getting told off for spending more time upside down doing handstands than fielding the ball.

Lligwy Beach (Source)

As well as the obvious things that bring back holiday memories, such as candifloss and hotdogs and hot, freshly made doughnuts covered in sugar, sometimes, it's something completely out of the blue that triggers a memory. Like Imperial Leather soap. I know ..... weird! One whiff in the chemist the other day and I'm standing in the toilet block on the campsite, putting 10p in the hot water meter so I could have a shower first thing in the morning, always in the freezing cold because no matter how hot it was outside, the inside of the shower block was always freezing cold or having a quick wash before going out for an evening walk on the beach and stopping for fish and chips on the way back to the car.

Oh, and I think I have finally managed to figure out why I get so sleepy at the market when it's windy. I'm fairly certain it's because the flapping of the marquee canvas reminds me of falling asleep in the caravan listening to the awning flapping in the breeze!! Weird :-)

So, here are a few more things that remind me of my childhood,

Sweet peas, pickled cucumber, pipe tobacco, freshly baked bread, old spice aftershave, Imperial Leather soap, bilberry pie, frying bacon, the sound of the knitting machine zipping merrily along, 4am, Dandelion and Burdock and Mum's meat and potato pie cooking in the oven.

What sights, sounds and smells remind you of your childhood? 
I would love to know :-)

13 August 2014

A Chill in the Air

Well, I can't believe that it's only the start of August and there is already a bit of a chill in the air. The mornings and evenings are cool enough to need more than just a t-shirt and even the days aren't as warm as they were a couple of weeks ago. Not that I mind, I find the intense heat that we had a couple of weeks ago, where the temperatures were hitting almost 30 degrees down here in Cornwall, quite difficult to cope with. I like the cooler air with a bit of a breeze and I took the opportunity of the cooler weather to go beach combing on my local beach. It was lovely. The sun was shining with a lovely breeze .... perfect for a walk on the beach.

I love the beautiful colours of the sea against the vivid green of the of the foliage. Since I bought my new camera a few months ago, I've been taking it everywhere I go and have been snapping away like a mad tourist to try and get the hang of the settings. Some pictures turn out amazingly clear and some are so blurred that it's difficult to tell exactly what they are even if I squint so until I get the hang of things, I just take a million photos in the hope that one of them will be ok. The benefits of the digital age, imagine doing that when cameras had film inside them and you had to get them developed. There is some technology I really hate, like satnavs which are just too bossy and condescending and remind me way too much of my know-it-all ex-husband and I can't stand new cars that have so many electric gadgets in them that it's almost impossible to just drive them but confess that I do love digital cameras. 

So here are just a few of the pictures I have snapped with my lovely camera.

In the garden my tomatoes are ripening and although I don't have many apples on my trees this year the ones that are there are looking delicious.

The crocosmia in my garden is in full bloom and the bees love it, you can just see a cute little buzzy bee making a bee-line (haha) for it.

I tested out my awesome zoom at Siblyback Lake watching the amazing wake boarding thingy. Great fun watching the people zoom around on the pulley and fling themselves over the jumps. Looks a bit chilly for me although I have to confess that the zoom on the camera is totally fab. 

And I finally managed to take the one picture I have always wanted to capture and have never been able to. I do have to confess though that this was more by luck than anything else and is tribute more to the awesomeness of the camera than the person taking the picture :-)

11 August 2014


For about 18 months now I have been sewing like fury every week to keep my stall nicely filled and although I love sewing it was becoming clear that it was time to try something new. On my stall there are a number of things that sell well. They aren't expensive things but they just seem to be very popular and though I am well aware that I'm never going to get rich from being at the market, the small amount of extra cash is quite useful so I just keep on making them. The problem is, making the same things over and over and over and over and over ..... well you get the picture and quite frankly, I knew that if I had to make one more lavender chick or and another catnip mouse I would go mad. 

I had seen some cute little wooden boats in a very quirky little shop on my trip to Sheffield recently and I made sure that I had a really good snoop, to see how they were made. They looked simple enough and last week I decided that they were something I wanted to have a go at making. Now I don't like to copy things that I see in shops or at craft markets, I think that is kind of a dishonest, I much prefer to take the basic idea and make them my way, which is what I did with the little boats

Cue the power tools ...... a jigsaw, a drill and a sander  ........ great fun if slightly scary and after a disastrous start and a box full of wonky bits of wood, which will come in handy for lighting the fire later in the year, I finally managed to create something I am quite happy with. Actually ...... I love them. I couldn't stop making them. I made seven of them and then had to try and find a way to display them on my stall. A painted wooden crate and the addition of a little shelf that I made myself and they were ready to go off to the market.