Monday, 28 May 2012

A Bibs Finalist and sturdy bras.....

I am thrilled to be a finalist in the Bibs Lit Category this year.

To be nominated was fab, to be shortlisted was outstanding AND NOW I REALLY WANT TO WIN! [Oops, indoor voice please.]

There's no more influencing to be done, it's up to the judges. However as I'm superstitious I would ask that you all cross fingers, toes, eyes and legs in an effort to sway the Gods my way.

The judge for my category is very interesting. A Mr Robin Harvie, he makes a convincing argument for running. See here

I've often thought of running for fitness, [and then laughed and laughed imagining the visual,] but when my pal told me about a bra she'd recently seen in John Lewis, I was tempted to try.

'It sounds like a Yentl bra,' I suggested.

She nodded vigorously.

Only with sturdy scaffolding will I attempt a jog unless, of course, one of the cats has captured a baby bird, rabbit, squirrel, sheep, goat, cow.... !

Friday, 18 May 2012

Electrocution at The Larches

There can be nothing more stimulating than a bit of electrocution first thing in the morning.

As many of you long-suffering readers of the blog will know, I’m not that good at electric fences. See here I forget their strength and hold on to the wire to pull on a wellington or else I forget to turn the darn thing off before moving it. It’s sad really.

Seems I take after my dad:

Mum and Dad came to stay last week. Mum’s the under-gardener, no weed is left undisturbed and the walled garden is now looking stunning. Dad’s is Vice President of Tea Making.

One morning, with the sproglets at school, the under-gardener, the tea maker and I, (recently promoted from both these positions to Chief Painter and Decorator,) decided to take a stroll down Home Field to peruse my allotment and dig up a few leeks.

Dad had a bad foot and was a tadge wobbly. He decided, rather than struggle down the uneven part of the field, he’d step over the electric fence erected by our neighbour whose ewes and lambs are kindly lawn mowing. He wanted to stroll down the middle section of the field.

I wasn’t worried; Dad knew what he was doing. However, half an hour later returning to the house and Pa looked a little wearier. He went for the old electric wire step-over move but misjudged it and, while laughing, (which didn’t help,) did one of those backwards kicks the snazzy footballers do... Very impressive.

He was determined to be down only briefly and almost as soon as his body touched the grass, he was getting up again. Not bad for a man of.... mumble, mumble.... and all was going smoothly till he used the wire as leverage. Bless. Mind you, he stood up quick.

Divine Justice has had her revenge of course, I shouldn’t have giggled so:

This morning, I escorted our three lambs from their overnight accommodation at the stables to their electrified paddock. Being an inexperienced farmer I can’t seem to work out how to convince my lambs, (getting heavier by the day,) to go over or under the ‘lekky fence even when it’s turned off. Instead I take them down on their harnesses and lift them up and over the wire... This really doesn’t feel like a long term plan, especially as Snowy must weigh a good 2.5 stone now. Hey-ho!

Anyhoo, this morning while doing this manoeuvre I managed to touch a knee off the wire and 'WOW! I still feel zingy now. Like father, like daughter I s'pose.

‘No, no coffee for me today thanks, I’m wired!’

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Salad Days

Pssst! Wanna know something great? Wanna save some money Mrs? Do you, do you?

Well, first you'll have to find yourself one of those supermarkets, Aldi or similar, where they sell cut-and-come-again lettuce in the little punnets. In the Aldi nearest me, a mere 15 miles away, they sell a windowsill version for 79p. I kid you not, there must be 50 baby lettuces in this plastic container. If you have little or no space in the garden you might want to pick up a bag of compost from the store too at a cost of approximately £1.99. So that's £2.78.

When you get home feel free to snip away and have a lovely salad for tea or you could leave these juvenile leaves intact and instead, gently prise the plants apart at the roots. Then either dot them around the garden, ideally in a moist, sunny spot, or cut a long rectangle in your compost bag and plant your lettuce seedlings in there.

Water well and within days you'll have healthy little lettuces, without the bother of raising seedlings yourself. You can pick these leaves by snipping with a scissors at their base and, quite wonderfully, the little stub that is left, (apologies if I'm teaching granny to suck eggs,) will regrow its leaves within a week or so. Lettuce for all summer if you're clever...... and how much is a full lettuce? Well in various supermarkets I found lettuce heads from 57p (for a round lettuce) and £1 (for an iceberg.) With my method a single lettuce head could cost as little as 5p, if you're using a growbag and a whopping 1p if you're not. Not bad eh?

Still got to buy the salad cream, obviously.


[By the way, I'm not on a retainer for Aldi, this is me, a nerdy customer/gardener, shopping wisely.]

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Tea Leaves....

Hmmmmm... Lou at Larches is a teensy-weensy bit cross...

The Larches barns are filled with accumulated clutter. Some items are required and some items really need a new home or depositing at the dump.... Oh, ‘scuse me, it's not called the dump anymore is it? It's the recycling centre or, worse still, the sustainability centre!!?? .....Anyhoo back to the point of this ramble...

I was rooting about in the barns, climbing over the sproglets’ bikes, the builders' stash and the leftover rabbit entrails kindly discarded by the cats, when I came upon a particularly nice example of twentieth century design; an MFI cabinet in that delicious wood effect veneer with sliding glass doors, c. 1970. Lov-erly.

Knowing full well what the local auction house would think of my latest piece of period furniture... [...our Ikea phase has recently been disposed of in this manner and I’m fairly sure that the auctioneer did a 'smell' face when he saw it. Subsequently it took several sales before a gullible discerning bidder was found.] I decided against this route this time.

Eureka! Thought I, bearing in mind that I am now top totty authority (numero 24 y’know) on Gardening matters, according to ebuzzing The Global Platform for Social Media Advertising. Oh yeah...

I thought, I know, I shall have a retail outlet for The Larches.....

It’s an honesty cabinet and so far Wyevale Nurseries or indeed any other garden centre need not fear for their livelihood... Situated at the bottom of the bridlepath, I started out by stocking it with some rather delightful strawberry plants, then I added some pots of herbs and then some rather delectable perennials.

In the beginning the children were thrilled to note that a pot of perennials had been removed only to be replaced by a shiny 50p and having made at least £2.50 in three weeks.... wit-ta-woo, I decided to expand production into jam.... [and yes, I have had an Environmental Health visit to pass my kitchen actually... and he was mightily impressed. Smug.]

Within a week, five jars of jam had been stolen! Out-bloody-rageous!

Last week someone took two huge pots filled with flowering strawberry plants. In return they left me some Spanish coins dating from before the Euro!

Yesterday two good sized lupins, raised from seed by me, were also nicked. Sheesh...

It’s a flipping honesty table, not a free for all!

Fortunately I know some lovely army chaps and their wives have very kindly volunteered them to lie in the ditch for the foreseeable future with their gorgeous foliage hats. They will then muller the tea leaves who feel my MFI cabinet is like Tesco but without the paying bit! Marvelous what your taxes will pay for.......

Friday, 4 May 2012

Being a Mummy Sheep

My three adopted daughters are growing well. Snowy is huge and fast becoming the most beautiful sheep with white eye patches and a gentle nature. Moon is the naughtiest of the three and insists on jumping up, bruising me with her sharp hooves. Little Pink is still the baby and behaves more like a dog than a lamb; she adores being fussed and is happy to toddle about with us without needing a harness.

Though the four feeds a day have been slightly trying, especially the 11pm one and washing bottles and teats four times a day has been a strain on my hands, I've thoroughly enjoyed raising the girls and the children have loved seeing their new pets grow.

Last week was challenging, the 9yo was home sick and I still had the builders in. At the usual time I set off to collect the 7yo from school, the 9yo wrapped up in her seat. I took our usual route over the Clee Hills. Up high on these hills and across Catherton Common, is Common Land. Residents graze their animals here; sheep, cows and horses wandering freely. There's plenty of signage to warn motorists but very few stick to the 40mph limit and even that feels fast when a creature bolts into the road. 

Towards Clee Hill Village we passed a lamb on the side of the road. She was sat like a dog; on her bottom her two front legs bracing her body above the gravel layby. She was in a bad way. Clearly she'd been hit by a motorist. 

I turned the car around and parked a little way away explaining the situation to the 9yo.

The lamb didn't flinch as I approached, a bad sign in itself. Blood streamed from her nose and mouth.

Thank goodness we always carry blankets. I wrapped her up and, though she was heavy I lifted her and carefully laid her in the boot of my car.

With the 7yo speedily collected from school, we three lashed to the vet's practice closest to where I'd found the lamb. The children watched the still creature as I drove and at one point the 9yo motioned that she thought it had died. I confess I felt relief that it was out of pain but the 7yo gently stroked a leg and the lamb struggled: She was fighting her injuries.

The vet surgery was fantastic and gave the lamb a 50/50 chance. They promised to call me to let me know the outcome.

The worse part of the experience wasn't the blood on my blankets or the aroma of the car, no, it was noticing a white van driver eating his sandwiches and drinking his tea. He was parked fifty yards from where the lamb's life was ebbing away and he continued to watch as I struggled to lift the hefty animal into the back of my car. Humans worry me sometimes.


The vet called not long after we got home. The lamb had been put to sleep.

We all need to slow down in our cars. In rural areas you could hit a lamb, in town it could be a child.

The Archers at The Larches

Lou - Chicken whisperer....

Lou - Chicken whisperer....

Snowy and Moon

Snowy and Moon