Bank Holiday Monday

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Well, the weather was proper Bank Holiday fare - it hurled it down and it was freezing cold!
Yesterday was the annual Young Farmers Rally - by the end of which, I realised I was exhausted.
Very early night, and spent today pottering in the garden. In the rain.
Planted two rows of first early potatoes, half a bed of dwarf beans, and half a bed of onions.
Also managed to do some potting on and tidying up.

Now though, after a quiet evening watching Housewife 49 (in tribute to the late Victoria Wood) I am off to bed. Back to work tomorrow for another slightly short week - but one which will have some big things happening.

And on Wednesday, I can tell you what!

Hello from the other side

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Half way through my first full working week (working in an office that is, as opposed to toiling on the soil) in  a quarter of a century.
I'm tired.
That about sums it up.
The workload is immense at the moment, and I have just had a week off, which makes things worse.
Also, as I feared, each morning and each evening, there is something urgently needing attention, stopping me hanging on to my small moments of smallholding.
This - has got to stop, for I will go insane if I can't be part of my little smallholding alongside my big, grown up job.
Two mornings I managed to walk the dog before setting off, but on the third, bills needed paying online in that slot (don't worry, Boo was home to take them out.)
Plants in greenhouse, tunnel, and cold frame have had very perfunctory attention.
It's not going quite to plan.

It's week one, however, so we'll give it a chance.

Listing to Starboard

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Lists. Specifically, To Do Lists. Do you do 'To Do'?!

At work, I am very organised. I work from my distant memory of Stephen Covey's '7 Habits'. I spend the first five minutes listing all the things I need to do. Then I categorise them all 1, 2 or 3. Then I sub them a, b, c etc. Then I start at 1a and work all through the '1's, then the '2's and if we're very lucky or I've decided against going home that night, the '3's. Mostly, though, '3's work their way up the following day's list, or get delegated, or become extinct.

At home, this is well nigh impossible. Everything is too fluid. I can't stack things nearly so neatly. Today for example, the weather forecast said the morning would be nice, but it might turn wet later, so I did the outdoor stuff first.  The sun was still shining at 5.30 p.m. but there we go.

My gardening list said check up on flower seeds (to see what needs planting) and make a start on the potatoes. I sort of did those things, but about a half a dozen other things as well, while I was about it. I planted dahlia bulbs, and weeded garlic, and hoed  between the broad beans. It was lovely out there.

However, I now come to look at my list, and although I did also go and do daughter's horse, fetch animal feed, pop into Lidls, make supper and now I am dutifully producing a blog post - 5,000 words on a story, a cleaned off table in the mid-transformation bedroom, a start on a recipe file/menu plan folder for use when I am working 5 days a week so that anyone can cook dinner, the placing of one excess book per day on e-bay ... all these things remain unchecked! It is now 9.30, and with the best will in the world, most of them will stay that way.

Tomorrow, I'm taking the girls into Oxford. It's the one slightly spendy trip of the Easter Holidays/My week off, and I will likely spend very little other than the petrol and getting them some lunch. It's really more a chance for them to spend some money, and actually to spend far too long in Waterstones.

Friday is the end of the week! I'm going to have a whole nother To Do List by then!

How do you manage your To Dos?  Are you a lister, or a go with the flow type?

If you list, what do you do with the drop-offs?!

The Wartime Kitchen and Garden

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I'm a huge fan of the Ruth Goodman/Peter Ginn et al series - Victorian Farm and so on.

But I'd forgotten this much earlier favourite.

Ruth (Mott this time, not Goodman) with Joyce, works in the kitchen, to stretch the rations, and feed the team.

More to the point, one of my all time heroes, Harry Dodson, is in the garden. When this series was first on, Harry reminded me of my brother in law, John. Still does come to that.

The whole series is available on YouTube. I shall thoroughly enjoy watching it all the way through.

Good Friday

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What a glorious day! The sun shone for our one and only promised nice day over the bank holiday.

After church, we made a start on the spring clean/transform we're aiming for over the next week. Neil moved stuff valiantly until the now very shabby old sofa out of the kitchen could go into the Utility Room where it belongs to the dogs. We wait to see if Nan now shreds both the sofa and everyone's boots.

We also made a start on sectioning one part of the garage off as a dedicated 'root cellar/food store'. Today's progress was installing shelves (salvaged shelves, of course!) I've been waiting for this for eight years.




Canning jars from all over the house were swiftly removed to the first lot of shelves, I was so excited! They are mostly empty right now of course, and I wonder how well I will do at filling them when summer is spent in an office? Press on though, and see what can be done.

I also managed to make Earl Grey and Lemon Hot Cross Buns from the Country Living Recipe. My lovely friend Ali gifted me a subscription to CL for my  birthday. It's  not something I'd splurge on so I'm always happy to see it, a guilty pleasure but such fun every month! We had a bun each for pudding with a big dollop of fromage frais (after Sea Bass snapped up with a yellow sticker. I'm not a big 'fish on a Friday' girl, but my Anglican roots go deep and on Good Friday fish is a bit of a must.)



My other achievement of the day was to plant out a couple of dozen broad bean plants - all started off in trays, as I've said you just can't go from seed around here, even great big bruisers like broad beans.
I don't much like broad beans - well none of  us do - so I don't grow a great amount, but their big advantage is they are first. So I grow some, because it's always good to get a first taste of your fresh homegrown.



We all settled down with popcorn tonight to watch Spectre on DVD. Boo saw it in the cinema the second it came out. It makes me laugh to see these 16 year olds all unnecessary about Daniel Craig. He's old enough to be their grandad almost I should think! But we all went all weak at the knees about Sean Connery and I expect that was just the same! The rest of us had not got round to it, so it was all new to us. I never really understand James Bond films, I always lose the plot somewhere after the second big car chase, but I enjoy them anyway! This wasn't my favourite - I think that would be Skyfall - but it was good.

I'm told the weather is now on the turn. I hope you all have a blessed and happy Easter.

This is it.

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I saw an article today - about a bloke who has pared down so much he now only owns 111 things.

This got me to thinking about the Man Who Lived Without Money and sundry other purists.

The thing is.

I really need to know a lot more about these people, because you know, if you actually don't have anything, that's one story, but if you don't have anything, but your dad owns half Hampshire that's a different story.
Time after time I've read inspiring and uplifting accounts of people who have done without, hacked out a living, created their own space, lived in a  bender in a clearing ... and then in the end, the inheritance kicks in. Or they sell the family jewels.
I know people, who truly believe they are carving out a life, living in rented accommodation, or in a communal setting, and they haven't even pointed out to themselves that they have wealthy parents who presumably aren't immortal. I have no idea if they're in denial about the money or the mortality, but one of  them, for sure. So before they they themselves grow old and dependent, they know full well, whether they acknowledge it or not, that this will not be all. This is not it. In the normal run of things, they will suddenly find themselves materially much better off, if sorrowful.

We had friends a long time ago, who set out to build a house in Ireland, on the wild west coast, on a plot of land they'd acquired heaven alone knows how, and at the time, I was way jealous of their adventure.
Except. It turns out his well heeled family had mucho connections in that part of the world. Mainly builders. So he kind of picked up work whenever he needed it, and also had somewhat of a helping hand on the construction side of things.
Meanwhile her parents actually did own half Hampshire. So mummy would pop over on the ferry periodically with a Fired Earth floor for the kitchen in the back of her Volvo.
Oh and then they had the rock star relative who just gave them cars and stuff.

None of this is to wish anyone any ill will. If I had an inheritance, I too would own land in Cornwall or Wales. (Would I sink all my money into it, and then live off Tax Credits? As it will never happen, I can't confirm or deny. I like to think not.)
But. And this is a big But. (I hope no-one's counting breaches of grammar around here!)
What we have to show for our lives, Is. It. The likelihood of either of us having an unknown relative about to shuffle off and leave us even a few grand is vanishingly small.
Neil's parents maxed out their house on equity release, go on a gazillion holidays a year, and are only in financial cahoots with his younger brother. Hurtful? Yes. But that's another story.
My parents are long dead, I have one surviving sibling who has five children, a dozen or so grandchildren, and lives off her state pension.
For this reason, because we chose to play the wild card when we were young, because we saw California sunsets and Carolina day breaks, because we brought our children up in the wild, home educated, taught them to milk goats and grow food and ride ponies, because we took time to be with them day and night when they were small, and treasure all those days - now, we must do the hard work, because if we don't, we will have nothing.

And I do mean nothing. This is it.

Arranging Violets*

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I rather like Ali over at Currant Cottage ' s idea to keep a track of all the small homesteading triumphs we part timers manage, amid the madness.
I've been a part time farmer for a long time, but always felt something of a full time homesteader. I can't maintain that illusion any more, with a full time job on the horizon, and the sell of livestock ongoing.
Today in my non office day, I mostly drove the car.
Boo had a school trip which was on/off and time changes for days before hand, which resulted in my taking her in early, only for it to be cancelled again at the last minute, so I brought her home, to fetch her school stuff, then took her back.
H was over at the yard and needed a lift home, and then a lift to Swindon to take her Driving Theory Test, which she passed.
Then home - yard - Lidls - yard and onto supper and some budget rustling and putting stuff up for sale.

Today the two younger nannies have gone on Farming Ads, along with Neil's pressure washer - a purchase he needed for one job which has stood idle ever since.  Feeling scared but motivated.

Now for my round up of the good stuff


  • I watched Mary Berry's Easter Feast again last night. Both episodes have lifted my spirits no end. Good old Mary! She has firmly but without too much fervour ('enthusiasm' is so American!) put across the christian festival, with heartfelt faith, and openness.  What a lovely reminder of what it is to be a no nonsense English christian! And the recipes weren't too shabby either.
  • I spent an hour in the garden, clearing up a section of the flower border, and raking over the veg bed which will soon house the broad bean plants currently in pots, as well as becoming the 'seed bed' - I don't actually plant much from seed, the weed population around here, teamed with the slugs, the pigeons, the pheasants and the cats, mean it's better to get a head start, but my brassicas still need a nursery bed.
  • I conceived of a plan for Easter celebrations (while sat in a car in Swindon waiting for the Theory Test Victim)
  • I spent a quiet half hour with a coffee and my 'permaculture pad' planning out how to get from where we are, to where we want to be.
  • I planted out a small clump of larkspurs. Maybe too early? We'll see.
  • I tried to separate a clump of Motherwort, to donate a bit to a lady at church, but it went quite badly wrong, I ended up with a handful of - at best - cuttings - and I've plonked them in a pot with a bit of rooting powder in the hope they'll make a start.
  • A bargain sewing pattern purchased online arrived - mainly to venture into making 'tops' for work, but also has a jacket pattern and trousers. Now all I need is time.
Well, I'm back to work tomorrow, and I have to wrap up year end, because I'm on leave the following week - yes, a whole week off! Looking forward to a spring clean, a clear out, some gardening, hopefully some sewing, and a proper Easter celebration!

What are you doing for Easter?

*as a child, I remember trying for ages, probably with my tongue out to make a 'flower arrangement' out of about three teeny tiny violets, and few bits of grass, in a silver (oh yes, precious metal, the only bit I could lay my hands on) egg cup which had been a christening gift. Sometimes, this determination to keep hold of every tiny triumph, to keep on being a 'homesteader' or 'cottager' or whatever on earth one is, in England, is just the same - the desperate determination to make a pretty arrangement of a very few, very tiny, bright spots. These are my violets.
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