6 June 2014

A Stroll by the Sea

Yesterday, amidst days and days of chilly, grey weather, there was a day filled with sunshine. The kind of beautiful day which hints that summer might not be too far away. Seventeen degrees of warm, breezy loveliness which was, quite frankly, most welcome and definitely a day for a walk by the sea. 

Usually, we avoid touristy places during the summer months but yesterday, it was nice to be able to go and wander by the sea in the lovely June sunshine.

The lovely little narrow streets in Looe. 

Looe was very badly affected by the storms earlier this year. Many properties were flooded and the damage was extensive and during one high tide, Banjo pier went from this 

To This

Yesterday, the red light on top of the pier looked like this. Such beautiful colours.

And of course, there was the necessary cream tea.

4 June 2014

Extreme Gardening!!!

Hi there, well I know it's been a while since I have posted but I have been trying to get the garden sorted and as you have seen from the state of the patio photos I have posted in the past that is no mean feat!

So here is a before photo of the jungle

And after the forced mass deforestation

Personally, I liked it wild and green but some of my neighbours had other ideas and there have been some rather pointed comments about how overgrown it was and hints that I should cut the grass down. It kind of got to the stage where it was just easier to give in and chop everything back to the ground. I actually think it looks bleak and bare but I'm going to plant a mass of flowers in the beds and try and make it beautiful and abundant again but just in a way that the neighbours can't complain about how "overgrown" it is. Quite frankly, I don't think they are country people at all. They want to manicure everything to within an inch of it's life and they have dumped weed killer on anything that dared to grow in the wrong place, which I am totally against but, obviously, it's not wise to say anything against these people for fear of reprisals so my garden now looks completely bare. 

On the plus side, I have also had a whole host of cute critters visiting my house and garden, which was a perfect time to test out the zoom on my new camera. There was this little chap who I found in my hallway. He was very tiny but very cute. I picked him up and took him back outside where he scuttled off into the undergrowth.

Then this beautiful guy was sitting on top of the chicken house. He has a poorly leg so I have been feeding him until he gets better. He's gorgeous but the chickens aren't so smitten. Luckily they are safely tucked away in their nice big enclosed run so he just sits on the outside and looks at them. 

And then there was this little cutie. A teeny tiny little field mouse. About an inch long playing in the grass outside my window.

Right, off to do some more gardening to try and salvage what is left of my garden and make it look nice again. 

21 May 2014

A Walk Down The Lane

On Monday night we had a storm. It was a humdinger of a storm and lasted about half an hour and it freaked the dogs out no end. Well, two of them anyway. Levi was quite happily snoring away in his bed while the other two were quivering like jellies on the sofa. The following morning, everything looked greener somehow, as if everything had been put through the washing machine and had a good clean. The air was cooler and fresher so I decided that as I'm marooned down here in our valley, I thought I would go for a walk and take my new camera so I could snap away like a tourist. I forgot to mention that I'm marooned down here in the depths of Cornwall. I have been without a car for about 10 days now. The MOT ran out and they couldn't fit me in for a couple of days and then it failed it's MOT and they couldn't fit me in until the 28th May to have the work done and be re-tested. As I live in the middle of nowhere, it's almost impossible to survive without a car and it was just too long to be without transport so, I rang a friend of mine who owns a garage and asked her if she could sort it out which means that although I'm still marooned, it might only be for another couple of days instead a couple of weeks. 
Anyway, I snapped away as I was walking along taking loads of pictures and getting the hang of my new camera.

 Down the lane full of bluebells and wild garlic

 Wild garlic

 My river 
One of my llamas in the distance

And this is the makeshift greenhouse I made about 2 minutes before the storm hit on Monday evening to try and stop my plants getting battered by the torrential rain that I knew was coming. It actually worked quite well and my plants survived the storm in one piece. I've actually left the greenhouse in place because although the weather is improving it's still quite chilly at night and I don't want my tomato plants get cold :-)

19 May 2014

My New Picnic Bench

The weather over the last few days has been glorious here in Cornwall. Bright blue skies and non-stop sunshine for the last 4 days and I have been making the most of the lovely weather because, lets face it, in the UK you never know how long it's going to last! Now, last week, I managed to obliterate the tussocks and the cut grass, which was really, REALLY long has been left to dry so it will be easier to rake it up and get rid of it and I weeded my flower bed which, quite frankly was in the same overgrown state as the patio and was an absolute disgrace! I also bought some weed membrane to put over the freshly weeded area to try and stop it ever getting into that state again and it was while I was sitting on the doorstep having a much deserved glass of wine on Friday night, admiring my hard work, when I got to thinking how nice it would be if I had a place to sit outside and maybe have something to eat. Sooooooo I grabbed my trusty laptop and set about looking for a table and chairs to put on the patio. Now, as most of you know by now, money is always tight for me and I have to be careful with every penny so, as usual, I was looking for a bargain. And I found this. A picnic bench for the princely sum of £48.99. It's not brilliant quality, the wood is a soft wood, not a hard wood and if left untreated it wouldn't last five minutes outside in the British weather but, I could afford it and I actually had a tin of outdoor wood paint in my cupboard just waiting to be used up so on Saturday morning, off I went to buy my bench. 

I had assumed that it would come as a table top, sides and seats that just needed joining together but boy was I wrong! For £48.99 you get planks of wood and a bag of screws! Still, not one to be deterred by a bit of DIY I rounded up my tools and began to put it together. After a couple of false starts, when I managed to get one of the planks the wrong way up and had to take it apart again, the bench went from this ..... 

To this ..........

In about 4 hours. One of the planks for the table was a bit warped but by the time I realised, I had already screwed it onto place and I guess I could take it out and replace it with one that isn't but I'm not that precious about things so never mind. I was quite proud of myself. It's hard putting things like this together by yourself, you never seem to have enough hands to hold things in place and screw things together at the same time but I managed it and was quite pleased with the way it looked. I then went and fetched my parasol to fit into the hole in the bench only to find that some animal, a mouse I'm guessing, had decided that it needed some of this yummy green fabric to line it's nest with and had chewed holes in the canopy!! To be fair, it's really seen better days so it will do for now until I can make a new cover. I'm going to take the canopy apart and make a new one with some lovely floral cotton fabric.

Anyway, yesterday I unearthed the tin of "Natural Stone" outdoor wood paint that had been sitting the cupboard since I painted the gate last year and I slapped 3 coats of paint onto my new bench. Luckily the sun was hot and the paint dried very quickly so all in all it took about 3 ish hours to make it weatherproof. I'm very pleased with it.

And this morning I sat and gave it a test run and had my breakfast outside in the early morning sunshine reading one of my favourite books.

17 May 2014

Fish Pie and a New Gadget

Well it's 4.35am and I can't sleep. The dawn chorus started at about 4.32am so there wasn't much chance of getting back to sleep with all the twittering and tweeting and downright screeching going on outside my bedroom window so, I thought I might as well do something useful and write a blog post.  A couple of weeks ago, my youngest daughter bought me a new gadget. Awwww, how sweet, you might be thinking and you would be right ..... well, you would be half right because she actually had an ulterior motive for buying this particular gadget. She bought me a potato ricer. And the reason being ....... she says my mashed potatoes are always lumpy! Now I completely disagree but she insists it's true and when she comes to stay, she won't let me cook anything that has anything to do with mashed potato. Yesterday, I decided to give it a go and make a fish pie topped with mashed potato or in this case ..... riced potato :-)

When I make fish pie, I buy a fish pie mix from my local supermarket. This is 3 different types of uncooked fish. prepared and cut into chunks ready to just turn into a pie. It probably works out a bit more expensive to do it this way but I feel that when I'm only cooking for myself it's the most sensible way for me to buy the fish. I usually poach the fish in white wine, pepper, a knob of butter and half a chicken stock cube, for about 3 or 4 minutes-ish and then take the fish out of the pan with a spoon with holes in it so I can save the cooking liquid and I put the fish in the pie dish. I then turn up the heat and reduce the liquid down to about half and stir through a spoonful of half fat creme fraiche and then pour the sauce over the fish in the pie dish. I then top the fish with mashed potatoes or in this case, riced potatoes and I pop it in the oven for 10 mins or so until the top browns. Sometimes I sprinkle cheese on top too although I didn't yesterday because I didn't have any left. I have to say, the potato ricer is a wondrous gadget!! The potatoes were perfectly squished with not a lump in sight and it only took a couple of minutes to turn them from chunks of potato into fluffy mash. Once I had put them through the ricer, I added a knob of butter and a splash of milk and they were delicious. 

Oh and I forgot to mention, yesterday morning I had a delivery from the postie. A parcel. Not in the best condition ever, as you can see, and when I saw the state of the box I was worried that the contents would be damaged but, thankfully, everything was fine. 

My beautiful samphire plants arrived. 

Fabulous aren't they :-)

15 May 2014

The Tussocks Are No More

My new camera arrived yesterday and I'm thrilled. It's amazing and the zoom is just awesome so, I have been out and about snapping away in the lovely May sunshine. 

I also decided that it was time the tussocks were gone. I finally managed to get my petrol strimmer going which quite frankly, was nothing short of a miracle because it's very temperamental and it's been well over a year since I last used it due to the Nasty Neighbours. I tucked my trousers into my socks in case of creepy crawlies and I attacked the patio with the strimmer. Four hours later the patio was tussock free and looked like this ...

I'm taking a bit of a break now for a couple of hours because it's very hot down here and four hours of the vibrations of the massive strimmer have made my hands cramp so I have come inside until the sun has gone off the patio .... about 3.30pm ish and then I'm going to go out and have another go at some weeding. Once the cut grass has dried I will rake it up and dump it on the compost heap in the field and then start again.

I also rescued my plant rack from amongst the brambles and have started to stack the damp logs on it to dry out. I figure that a few days of nice sunny weather and they will be dry as a bone and ready to stack somewhere dry. All in all, quite a productive day so far. 

14 May 2014

New Camera and Gardening Weather

For the last few months I have been dithering with the idea of getting a new camera. The one I have at the moment is fine, it's a basic point and shoot Sony Cybershot camera and it's done sterling work over the last 10 years but lately, having been searching the internet for inspirational blogs and finding some really beautiful ones, I have come to the conclusion that it's time to upgrade. The trouble is, when money is tight and every penny is usually accounted for, it becomes difficult to spend money on something that might be deemed frivolous even if you actually have the money to spend. Therein lies my dilemma. I have a small amount of money to spend on a new camera, I know what I need from my new camera, in particular a much better zoom function, wifi upload capabilities, a decent macro setting and optional manual settings and there we go ...... we are talking hundreds of pounds. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I have narrowed it down to two cameras and I have tried every-which-way to decided between the two but it's proving almost impossible. One is cheaper by about £70 but the zoom isn't as good and it doesn't include a panorama function or wifi upload but as I said, it's cheaper and the other one, although £70 more expensive, usually sells for double the price but it's in the sale at the moment and that means that it brings the price within my budget. They both have a decent macro setting and when you put them into a camera comparison site they come out virtually even so all-in-all, not very helpful! Anyway, yesterday afternoon, after much deliberation, I finally decided on the one I want, (I won't mention the make or model because I don't want to be accused of blatant advertising) and it's arriving today :-) I can't wait. I will be out and about snapping away and zooming in on things to my hearts content and hopefully, I shall be posting some of the pictures in the next couple of days.

I shall also be in the garden as much as possible this week. The weather lately has been awful. In fact here in Cornwall it's been positively psychotic! One minute it's clear blue skies and a few fluffy white clouds and the next, torrential rain the like of which I have only ever seen in monsoon season in Singapore!! I have lost count of the number of times I have picked up my gardening gloves and put on my boots ready to go out and tackle the tussocks only to find that while my back was turned, the weather has reverted from the joys of spring to the depths of winter!  Every day, I checked the weather forecast and every day it forecast rain and after about 500 attempts to actually get outside and do something, I finally gave up and vowed not to venture near my gardening stuff again until the weather forecast improved. And today it did. Today, when I checked the Met Office weather report for my area it looked like this ......

Not perfect but definitely an improvement over the last few weeks so ..... I'm going to be off into the garden as soon as I have had another cup of tea. Well actually, I'm going to wait until about 9 ish because I am going to attack the tussocks with my petrol strimmer today and I don't want to annoy my neighbours by firing the beast up before they have had a chance to get out of bed . I finally give in! Nothing I have done so far has killed the little buggers. Not salt nor lemon juice nor vinegar so now, it's war and by 9.30am, hopefully, all the troublesome tussocks will be history!!