Sunday, 10 December 2017

Please feed me!

Broadband doesn't want to play ball tonight, and it took ten minutes for this photo to load.  I will try loading another whilst I go downstairs . . .  There we go.  I don't know how old he is as he has a tail going brown, but his body isn't.  I am guessing he is a youngish cat.

The front garden feeders on one of our apple trees.  I counted about 20 birds in this shot, but there are lots more, visiting all day long.  Plus we have another feeding station in the Damson tree in front of the kitchen window.  A Sparrowhawk has been visiting that in the past week, but I think the feeders are situated so she can't get a clear flight through to grab a bird and carry on flying.  It puts the wind up the wee birds though.

We had a little snow first thing.  It didn't amount to much (thank heavens) and turned into "snow drizzle" for the rest of the day, which soon melted.  The ponds weren't frozen, and I am hoping it doesn't freeze on the roads overnight as we MUST go into town tomorrow, and again on Tuesday, when I finally get to see my Respiratory Nurse and get to discuss my medication and the side-effects.  I will get the results of my recent heart tests this week too.

Keep warm everyone.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Cat fight!!

We are down to five cats now - after several old ones died close together in the past couple of years.  This is Theo, who came here as a stray. (As did they all in fact, or children of strays).  Theo is a softy - a real walkover, and although he likes to occasionally think he is Top Cat, he suffers from delusions of grandeur!  For some reason (perhaps that very one) he was involved in fisticuffs with ginger and white Alfie today.  I heard the cat fight to end all cat fight, snarls and growls and furniture being knocked into in the kitchen, and rushed in there to find them locked in mortal combat: Alfie with his jaws locked around/into Theo's neck and Theo with his teefs sunk into one of Alfie's back paws.  I stepped in and dragged them apart and Theo fled the scene, blood dripping from one ear.  Alfie limped away with dignity.  Theo ran and hid under our bed for a while, and then disappeared until his tummy was rumbling, when he came downstairs again, looking very nervy. I fed him and made him up a little den on top of my favourite pine cupboard, and behind the barricade of my music centre.  I think he feels safe up there.  I shall leave a kitchen light on for a few nights so there are no run-ins between him and Alfie.

I think what possibly happened is that Theo flew in through the cat flat, as he sometimes does, and there may have been one of the hungry toms around at some point in the day, putting Alf on his guard, and he assumed Theo was one of them, as he really was going for him, it wasn't playground fun and games.

Anyway, as the winter weather has arrived with a vengeance, and before it gets worse, I stripped the bed today and put on our new flannelette duvet set.  We bought it last week as a joint Christmas present to and from ourselves, when we were in Dunelm.  I have to say, flannelette has come a LONG way from the pastels and stripes I remember from my childhood (I think there are still some stripey sheets at the bottom of the pile in the airing cupboard). This looks so warm, and that Paisley pattern is gorgeous in the deep red.  I can't wait to get to bed tonight now!

The top for Gabby's quilt.  I need to iron it and then start pinning the sandwich together.  Let's hope I can finish it (and Tam's) in time.

Monday, 4 December 2017

Money seems to go just one way in December . . .

We don't go mad at Christmas, but there are still essential things which have to be bought - food for the Christmas period (I try and spread this over several weeks, especially with meat which can be frozen, and nibbly things, which will last anyway).  Keith never over-eats and if it was left to him, would be happy to ignore Christmas entirely, and just have a normal meal.   Obviously we have some extra goodies, make a special dessert - which is nearly ALWAYS fresh fruit salad (for Keith) and chocolate and raspberry roulade for the rest of us.  A cheese board.  A couple of good bottles of wine, and something fizzy for the girls. 

The Christmas present shopping is just about done (just close family) and again, we don't go mad over this.  I need to get some Amazon vouchers for family in East Anglia and then I'm about done.

Monday is the day we most often go into town to get groceries, and we left our trip until this afternoon as I had an appointment at the Cardiology department to get fitted with a portable ECG to wear for 24 hours to monitor my heart, and any irregularities.  I am still getting some arrhythmia at night, though it is better since I have dropped back from 6 puffs to 5 of my Fostair inhaler.  I don't use the strong one now, as that did seem to make me worse.  I only ever get the blips at night, when it is scariest.  Tomorrow I have an echocardiogram so they can see first hand if there is any obvious problem.  I am hoping it is just the medication I am on as both things have arrhythmia as a side-effect.

Anyway, having done the grocery shopping, and the Hospital, we popped back into town as I needed new cords, and hadn't found any decent ones.  M&S was a right-off as they had lovely ones but those in my size and length had already been sold, and I really DIDN'T want any in mustard or stone.  So it was back down the road to check out the Edinburgh Woollen Mill (not my first choice I have to say), but when I got there they were having a sale (again - or is that STILL?) and I found two pairs which fitted well, and were half price, and I topped it off with a lovely Fuschia pink cotton jumper.

I came home to a letter from my Dutch penpal (I owed her a long-overdue one, truth be told).  It is lovely to receive snail-mail and I am about to write back as soon as I have posted this.

Tea was of the bung-it variety (as usual).  I had some mince to use up, so browned off a couple of chopped Shallots (on offer in Lidl this week, 39p a bag I think - I got two).  They are just the right size for a small meal recipe.  Then I browned off the mince (1/3 of a large pack), chopped up 6 fresh Lidl baby plum tomatoes, and a chunk of red pepper, and added about 1/2 cup of white rice (I know, but it cooks much quicker than brown, which I normally use).  Salt and pepper to season, about a tablespoonful of tomato puree and a pint of beef stock.  You can zizz this up with curry powder/paste, chilli powder, or BBQ sauce (or any sauce come to that) or add a tin of spicy mixed beans.  It depends how many you are catering for too.  It can be bulked out with frozen mixed veg.  Anyway, with a big helping of cauliflower and green beans, that stuck to my ribs good and proper.  No photo . . .

Right, this won't do.  I had better write to Jeanette.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Santa's Little Helper!

We had to go and change the display in our Unit yesterday - and put up lots of SALE labels as last month was an absolute trading disaster (for everyone).  It looks like everyone's money is buying Christmas presents that don't include antiques or collectables.

On the way there, we stopped off in Llandeilo, so we could visit the Vintage & Collectables Fair we usually miss because we are elsewhere.  Our friends Alistair and Helen were there, sporting their Christmas jumpers, and I couldn't resist a photo!  Keith, I might add, would not be one for a Christmas jumper, although Danny turned up wearing one last night!

The main hall had a selection of interesting stalls, with lots of beautiful things on offer.  Mostly very different to our stock in trade.  I have some vintage china, but don't go in for jewellery or dolls or china knick-knacks.  We prefer unusual things, that can't be found very easily.  That said, they are difficult for US to find too!  I have had some nice table linen and other textiles, but they are not good sellers for me - too many other folk have something similar.

Almost next door is the Flying Goose Quilt Shop, which just happened to be managed yesterday by my friend Pam whose blog is A New Life in Wales.  I wanted some cream or beigey small print fabric for a cushion I am making, and we had a good chat whilst I was choosing fabric.  It was good to see her again and we need to have a Sock Reunion, so she can show me (slowly Pam!!) how to do the sock heel and toe, and how to get started on sock number 2 on the magic loop needles.  She was knitting a beautiful pair of socks using her own stitching pattern.  Very pretty.

When we were in Lidl last week, I noticed some cheap short-length LED lights and these ones came home with me and look lovely on top of the corner cupboard.  You can't see the definition clearly here as the flash was working, but they look like tiny leaves in the dark . . .

Right, this won't do.  It's the Archer's Omnibus in half an hour and I have another job to start on before I go down to catch up on that, and bake a cake for when we visit friends on Tuesday - the Spicy Dorset Apple cake is much in demand and become a firm family favourite. 

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Let Christmas commence

I decided that as December has arrived, I should go up into the attic and bring out the Christmas decorations so I could put a few things up around the house.  First, the two meeces I already had came out to join Green Mouse in the celebrations.

The wallhanging I quilted (such tiny stitches) a couple of years ago also came out to share the celebrations and is hung over the bookcase in the sitting room.  Below: a detail.

I shan't go mad just yet, but it's nice to have some of the trappings of Christmas about the place.

I will keep this brief as I'm still not feeling anything like 100%.  I will be glad when we can get my asthma medication sorted and next week's heart tests out of the way.  All I want to do right now is sit down and read my Phil Rickman book.

Anyway, No. 1 son is coming tonight and will do the Brecon Militaria Fair with Keith tomorrow, as I don't feel up to it.  I will potter here, catch up with the Archer's Omnibus, and do some sewing.  I am still trying to get quilts finished for Christmas.

This morning we had a wander round the little Vintage Fair at Llandeilo, and chatted with friends, before going on to the Unit to put some nice things in for Christmas.  November was dire, so let's hope December is an improvement or . . . well, we won't go there just yet.

Finally: a not very exciting photo of the Beany Soup!!

Friday, 1 December 2017

Winter sunrise - and then there was Soup!

More photos later - but the new header took 10 minutes to load so I am waiting for things to speed up a bit.  Oh, and for BT to connect the length of Superfast Broadband cable hanging off the nearby pole across the lane to the HOUSE.  We won't know ourselves then!

This was taken yesterday morning, and reminded me of that moment when Atlanta is burning in Gone With The Wind. . .


1 small onion, chopped
1 can hot and spicy mixed beans
1 leek
a couple of carrots, sliced (I used Chantenay as I had them in the fridge)
3 rashers bacon or some cooking bacon from a pack or (as I used) about 1/3 gammon steak, chopped
1 pint vegetable stock

Fry off onion and set aside.  Fry off bacon.  Ditto leek.  Mix all ingredients together and cook until veg tender.

This is REALLY tasty and the best accompaniment is a chunk of just-baked home-made bread.  This quantity makes 4 small bowls.  You can increase the ingredients to feed a family, obviously.  Photo to follow.

I have temporarily lost the photo.  I loaded it but it's a new month and the laptop's not playing ball . . .

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

It's getting COLDER . . .

It was bitterly cold out this morning and everything was covered in a heavy frost.  I stood in bedroom five and shivered as I opened the window to get some photos of the scenery, and the rising sun.  This is one of the Ash trees on the boundary of our property, behind the stables.

Frost on the roof tiles.

The bottom part of our field on the right, looking away up the hill.

Next door's son has recently taken over from his father, who has more or less retired now but is still to be seen about the farm.  A new broom is sweeping clean and there used to be an old barn here, which was demolished in the past few days.  For the moment, we can see a bit more of the hillside on the opposite side of the valley but I dare say a modern building will be replacing it.

A rather dark photo of the front garden seed feeder complete with Goldfinch (half a dozen visit each morning), Blue and Great Tits.  They are getting through some food now it is so cold and we had to get a fresh sack of sunflower seeds this morning.

Finally, the sun rose.  Even so, it took us 20 minutes to get the ice off the car so today we brought de-icer and a cover which goes across the windscreen at night and tucks in the side doors.  I think it will be much needed tonight as temperatures are set to go down to minus 6 in places.

One of the stray toms (Felix) was here at teatime again and was so hungry he scarcely moved when I walked past him and in the door.  He has been someone's pet, for sure, he isn't a feral cat, and is a sweet little thing.  I rather hope he stays . . .

Keep warm everyone.  Sorry for the make-weight post but the evening progresses and I am getting tired.