Category Archives: Uncategorized

Food

Eloise cat woke us up at around 5.30 this morning.  She was scampering about on the landing – which had to mean she’d found a mouse, brought it in and let it go.  She’s rubbish at killing mice and, actually, not that good at catching them.

A minute later, she marched into the bedroom and told Tim to get up.  A couple of years ago, he’d have shut her out on the landing, but now she’s got him trained – he answered her yowl politely and got out of bed.  He couldn’t find the mouse, though.  She ran around for a while longer and then came and sat on us.

I picked a couple of figs the other day, but they’re ripening quickly now.  We picked a bowlful, and several more had to be left for the wasps.  So, of course, they were the basis for lunch.  I went to the deli, bought prosciutto, feta cheese and artichoke hearts and, between them all, that’s lunch organised for today and tomorrow.  We opened a bottle of sauvignon blanc too.

We napped for a bit this afternoon.

RasPutin cat

While I’m still in a photo mood, here’s one of old RasPutin, the father of the barn cats.

RasPutin

He vanished a while ago for some time and, when he came back, he was very thin and so was his coat.  I’m not sure if enlarging the photo will show, but he is half the cat he used to be.  When I stroke him, I can feel his ribs and his hair isn’t patchy, just really thin overall.

I feed him three times a day now, if he’s about, and he eats well but he isn’t putting on weight.  I don’t know if he simply has worms, or if it’s cancer, but at least he’s happy now.  A few weeks ago, he was very anxious and begged for food but now he loves to be stroked and is willing to wait to be fed, as long as I’m making a fuss of him.  I don’t honestly expect him to last the winter and I daresay he just won’t turn up one day and I’ll never know what’s happened, but at least he will have been comfortable.  He used to turn up when he felt like it, but now he’s always about.  And he purrs now, which he never used to do.

He and Rummy have come to some sort of accommodation.  He’s still the top cat, actually and Rummy doesn’t mess with him – he’s been whopped too often.  RasPutin has lost fights, as shown by his torn and crooked right ear, but he still has stature.  His children are fond of him, especially his daughter Betty.

I gave up and now buy Whiskas.  You knew I would.  The five of them eat up to three tins a day.  It costs a fortune.  *Sigh* At that, Betty often turns her nose up and just eats the dried GoKat.  She approves of Eloise cat’s left over food though.

I can do nothing about it.  If being kind turns me into crazy cat woman, so be it.

Frustratingly, I don’t know if the chickens have mastered the new feeder or not.  I put down a bit of food for them under it, because I worry too much to leave them unfed.  Little Yvette, the Serama, seems to get chased away, but she’s being a bit broody anyway and spends most of her time in the nest box.  Interestingly, the big brown hen is also somewhat broody and they are nestled down together – since BBH normally bullies Yvette (who is a feisty little thing and isn’t cowed, though she has to run away as she’s so small) it’s surprising that they are nestbox partners, but that’s that.  The black hens are laying and those two are sitting.  Anyway, though I’m not entirely satisfied by the feeder, which is wildly overpriced for what it is, not having trays of food down does, as Blue Witch predicted, seem to have solved the rat problem.  They don’t come in and scuttle away when I go in the greenhouse.  I’ve been thinking about it – Russell never used feeders or drinkers, but put down bowls of water and scattered them handfuls of feed several times a day.  They were free range outdoors then, of course, unless the weather was too bad – but we never had a rat problem.It may be that the chooks are using the feeder – in a day or two, I’ll not put food down in the morning and watch them.  I’ve been a bit too busy for that, so far.

Pembrokeshire pics

I didn’t take many photos while we were away, but here are a few from Carew Castle.  Tim tells me that it’s pronounced Carey.  It’s a very handsome near-ruin, with lovely views and it would be a great place for children to explore.

Carew Castle

View of the nearby watermill, tricksily taken through a window

Stalactites!

We then went on to have a drink at a pub Tim knew – that also is in a lovely setting.

View from the Cresselly Arms

Panorama

The last was taken as a panorama, so it’s reproduced backwards, as it were – that is, the corner goes out rather than in.

Photos, mostly

I know I’ve told the story of my great-grandmother and the heliotrope here before, though it was probably a few years ago.  That was about the colour, but of course that’s the colour of the flowers.  It’s a half-hardy annual and not hard to grow, with a sweet scent, especially in the evening, but I never see it for sale.  I grew them once, a long time ago – about 35 years, I should think; certainly before we lived in this house.  I bought a packet of heliotrope seeds this year but they were sown late because of the cold weather and I didn’t put them in the propagator because the weather went straight from cold to hot.  Another time, I’d start at the right time in controllable heat, because only one plant came up.

It has thrived, however and I put it in an old sink with alpines – it’s grown bigger than I expected, probably because of daily watering, but never mind, it’ll only be there until the first frost.

This is just the preamble to a few photos.  Starting, of course, with the heliotrope.  I think it should be more grown, it’s a lovely colour and a delightful scent.

Heliotrope

Here are a couple of photos of Eloise cat.  I took the first one because she blended in so well with the garden chair, but the sun had retreated slightly by the time I took it, so you can only see near her tail where the colour is a rich brown.  The second one, she’s lying on the paving and she blends in with that too, without sunshine.

When we arrived home the other day, I went out to pick the first sweetcorn of the year for dinner.  And today, I picked the first two figs – but we scoffed them before taking a photo.

Z looks at envelopes

I’ve been home a day and a half and I haven’t opened the post yet.  Twenty-plus items and they’re just sitting there.  I’ll do it tomorrow – which is what I said yesterday.

I did open one envelope, because I could see it was a letter from the taxman.  And yay, it’s a cheque for over a thousand pounds.  The reason for it is the massive expenses last year, but hey, a tax rebate for … did I mention? … over a thousand pounds.  Quirkily, it feels as if I’m in profit.

I endeavour to find an achievement in every day, because I get disappointed otherwise.  Today’s – it doesn’t matter how small they are, it’s just that they have happened – is that I’ve booked the chimney sweep.  Last year, I left it rather late and he was very busy and it was a bit worrying, as we’d come close to a chimney fire at one point the previous spring.  As it is, the sweep isn’t coming for another six weeks, but that’s fine, he’s booked.  He’s the brother of the chap who installed our splendid woodburner, actually, and he’s very good and more reasonably priced than the man who I used before, who then let me down the next year (the reason for the near-chimney fire was that I hadn’t been able to get the chimney swept as I’d been let down) and actually, possibly, better because he gives an actual certificate, in case it’s needed for house insurance.  Who knew?  I haven’t checked my small print, admittedly, but some house insurers require annual chimney sweeping.

We always did have it done, except that one year, but quite often did it ourselves, or with Jamie’s help.  Chimney sweeping is quite satisfying, in fact … blimey, I can’t believe I just said that.  Bear in mind that I’m a woman who knows how to use a set of drain rods and pity me, darlings.

And now, I’m going to go out and smell the heliotrope.  Because it’s delightful.

Z provides libations for the weather pixies

And… we’re back.  It was lovely there as ever and the weather was actually consistently the best I’ve ever known it there – coastal Pembrokeshire tends to be changeable.  We went out and about a bit and slept quite a lot and read quite a few books.  Pretty well no internet, though it bobbed up once in a while, emails downloaded and I couldn’t reply to them, though I needed to, so trips out were punctuated by my checking the phone to see if there was a signal.

I daresay I’ll learn to switch off completely one day, but I suspect I’ll be sans pretty well everything by then.

It rained at last, once we were home, so I haven’t investigated the garden much yet.  I see that one marrow escaped Wince’s eyes, which I’ll pick tomorrow and give to the chickens.  If I can be bothered to chop it up, they’ll eat it all but if I just cut it in half then they’ll eat the seeds and a bit of the flesh.  What I did pick was the first of the sweetcorn, which were our first course for dinner.  As ever, I started eating at once, so my mouth is burnt, but the young, delicious cobs are worth it.

Having had a good rain, I’m ready for more sunshine now, please.

Z and the feeder

We’re off soon to the western side of the country, so won’t have the heatwave expected here.  Should be pleasant at least, though.

The new chicken feeder arrived today.  I’ve been having problems with rats in the henhouse.  We never used to have this trouble, but the hens were free range and mostly fed outside.  Now they have a very big run but aren’t free range, I have rats.  Blue Witch recommended a rather expensive but, she said, well worth buying hopper, which the chickens peck to release the food. I finally took the plunge and ordered it – not least because my bigger chickens are extremely clumsy and knock over any container their food is in, even if it should be impossible.

BW bought her feeder some years ago and has always been very pleased with it.  I trust ours will work well, but the build quality has certainly gone way down.  Nothing lined up so bolts have been pushed in as far as they can go, but that’s not far enough to add the nut to secure it.  The top doesn’t fit at all, once feed is in the hopper, so that can’t be secured either.  If it were outside, it would be unusable.  I’m very unimpressed.  However, if it’s adequate for the job – that means, in the first instance, that the chickens have to learn to use it – then BW is confident that the rats won’t bother any more.

Rose will look after everything while we’re gone and the house won’t be empty.  She’s under a fair bit of pressure though, as Lawrence started his latest round of chemotherapy last week and, as expected, the fourth day brought all the miserable symptoms.  They’re a stalwart pair and are managing.

I meant to do a lot of cooking today, but I flagged somewhat.  I did make a lot of bread-and-butter pickle yesterday and another batch this morning, and I’ve made stock and cheese sauce, but the moussaka didn’t quite happen, though I’ve minced the lamb.  I sometimes feel that life would be easier if I didn’t grow vegetables, actually.  Once you’ve grown the bloody things, you have to use them.

Z has beans. Z is a has been. Hmm. Discuss and compare, with examples

We were woken this morning by thunder and torrential rain.  Ten minutes later, there was blue sky and sunshine.  Now, it’s a lovely evening with a red sunset behind the Scotch pines.  They should be Scots pines, but it’s one case where I use the American, just because I can, darlings.

We picked vegetables today and have bags full.  I’ve made ratatouille and was going to tackle the bean mountain, but I couldn’t quite be bothered.  Our old friend Rev Dave said to me, a couple of weeks ago, that he has resolved not to do things he doesn’t enjoy any more (I might be paraphrasing, I’d have to check his email) and he’s quite right.  There has to be an advantage in getting old, and not being obliged wins it for me.  Not meaning one doesn’t want to help, of course.  But duty doesn’t need to be part of the decision any more.

It’s either been too hot or too wet to sit out with a pre-dinner drink recently, but it was a lovely mild evening tonight, so we went out with Tim’s G&T and my glass of wine, and we giggled – no, that’s not quite accurate.  I giggled and he indulged me.  And then we came indoors to eat roast lamb and the aforementioned ratatouille and tomorrow we’ll make moussaka, because those aubergines aren’t going to eat themselves.  The beans may have to, however.

It’s the little things…

When we buy a car, whether new or second-hand, there are various requirements that we have, of course, and various features that are headlined in the specifications.  But some of the  design faults or less appealing things about a car aren’t mentioned at all, and you only know about them once you’ve had the irritation of finding them out.

My sister-in-law had that happen yesterday.  Her husband opened the boot, loaded it up, tossed the key through onto the driver’s seat, shut the boot and told her the key was in the car. He didn’t realise that the car doors don’t unlock if you only open the boot, as he never drives that car himself.  Luckily, a small window was open at the back and someone with a long arm was able to hook out the key.  A lot of cars relock automatically if the key isn’t in the ignition – a friend was caught out here a few years ago and, similarly, his back small window was open and we were able to feed in a little grandson.  But, if that were mentioned at all in the publicity, it would be as a Good Thing, not the damn nuisance it can be.  You might well get out of the car and not want it to lock because someone else was going to get in, or fetch something from it.

I had a car with an electronic brake that was clearly designed for automatic transmission, because it was either on or off, nothing in between, and hill starts in traffic were pretty well impossible to manage safely.  Dilly was infuriated when she had a car that needed a front lightbulb replaced – she’d always done that herself, but the entire front bumper had to be removed and replaced by a garage.  Some cars don’t have spare tyres any more, not even the temporary sort, but have to have a temporary sealant put in or use run-flat tyres, which isn’t any use if there is major damage to a tyre, as happened to me a few weeks ago, when a bolt went into the tyre and out at the side.  Luckily, I do have a spare, or it would have been a call-out.

There are smaller things though – nowhere to put your change, or poorly designed display, or a rear seat that doesn’t fold down neatly when you’re using the rear of a hatchback for transporting something. Or the rear seat doesn’t split, so you can’t have anyone sitting in the back if you just need part of the area.

There’s the peculiar thing that a lot of car radios have, that when you plug in your mobile, it immediately starts playing music from your phone app.  I’ve read that some people record silence and put it on their phone as Aaa so that it’ll come up first and they’ve got time to turn the thing off.  I never play the radio nor iTunes in the car, only things I’ve recorded on iPlayer, but have to turn the in-car volume right up as it’s too soft, so when the radio or iTunes comes on automatically, it blares out.  No one is going to advertise that feature but it would be a good idea to advertise its absence.

A lovely little touch I saw on a friend’s car a year or two back was, behind the back seat, a strap with Velcro at both ends, so that if you put a box in the boot, you could secure it.  Such a useful and neat touch and probably hardly mentioned in the brochure, but if I had that once, I’d probably never want to be without it.

I feel that I should list all the things I come across, good and bad, and check them when I next buy a car.  Because the basics are easy – saloon, SUV, hatchback etc; diesel, petrol, electric or hybrid; automatic or manual; size of engine and so on….but if you go to fill the windscreen washer bottle and find that opening the bonnet breaks at least two nails and leaves you growling with irritation, it can turn you right off your new car.

When the phone app suggests the temperature is 40º, Z stays indoors

We had a lovely couple of days when Rose’s family from Trinidad came to stay.  Her brother visited last year and he came again with his wife and children.  We’ve got plenty of spare bedrooms, so Rose is welcome to use them for overflow guests.

Eloise cat was the hit of the visit.  She is never unfriendly but sometimes, when there are a lot of people, she keeps out of the way.  However, she really took to all of them – they’re cat lovers, dog lovers, they adore their pets.  Eloise sat on each of them in turn and was gently adorable.  And they are too, we like them very much.

It’s been too hot to be outside much, though I’ve had to go and water the greenhouse and pots, and I put the sprinkler on for an hour in the chicken greenhouse to humidify the air and bring down the temperature.  Each time I came in, I relished the cool house for a few minutes, and then sweltered again.  I even had a shower, darlings, and I don’t do that lightly.  My hair is still damp, which is a pleasure.  There might be a thunderstorm later – that is, it’s forecast but we take nothing for granted any more.  It could go all round us and leave us out.  Or we might get a flood.

We relax, anyway.  There isn’t really much option.  I’m glad the blog party was last week, anyway – the weather was easier than this.