Tuesday, 14 July 2015

We make a good team

Self-sown Nasturtiums flower happily by the Damson tree.

This was one of my weekend jobs: clearing the 10ft high Snowberries, and the 15 ft high blackberries which had climbed up into the apple tree (early eater) in the last couple of years, when I was too unwell to tackle them.

My husband was also busy whilst I sawed off dead branches, and ripped out long lengths of brambles - which didn't help matters by getting through to the tree canopy and then branching out into a bouquet of branches and fresh growth which defied all attempts at dragging through the apple tree and had to be cut up (with me hanging off the ladder to reach) and pulled through.  A selection of tools was called for - secateurs, a hoe, a long-handled pruner, stout gloves and determination.

He was busy preparing to make a corner repair on the lid of the 1740 coffer . . .  First straighten broken edge.

First he needed to check through his Wood Resources (e.g. a LARGE stable which is the dumping ground for all Useful Bits of Wood) for a piece of suitable age, size and thickness.

Possible candidates - but discarded.

Then the corner of wood needed to have holes and dowels fitted.  The "lollypop" dowelling here came from the old piano we burned the other week.  These were the felt bits which eventually attach to the keys.  The wooden "dowel" they were on was just the right size . . .

The cats are not interested in gardening or furniture repairs . . .  Theo (above) and below is Fluff.

Here is the finished coffer down in my mum's.  This is as far as the improvements go - the brighter brown along the bottom below the panels is old lead paint.  Whilst we could take Nitromors to it, we aren't too bothered at the minute.  Both sides are also lead painted.  My husband quite likes the authenticity of it in its present state, so who am I to argue?

The repair is there (far back left) but unless you are looking for it, it's difficult to spot.  My OH wasn't too happy with it, and said perhaps he should have spent another day making it perfect, but he wasn't feeling 100% so "bodged" it, as it's for us to keep rather than to sell.

With the light of the flash, it is more obvious here as the wood isn't so golden-looking with the light on it, but tbh, without the flash it just seems a tiny bit darker.  He's reasonably happy with it anyway, and since this only cost me £50 at auction, and it's now a useful piece of furniture for storage, no complaints here.

Here is some Hasty Jam.  As you can see it's Hasty because I didn't let it boil long enough and it's a soft set, with Floating Strawberries in it.  That's what you get of being in a rush, but that said, it tastes gorgeous and it's a good colour!  Just not show jam . . . and at least the strawberries weren't wasted. They weren't good enough to eat - hard and not ripe. Two punnets for £1 though, so no complaints.

Here's my copy of Carla Emery's book which I showed to Dawn recently and had her reaching for her Amazon one-click!  I've not looked at it for a while, but already is has seen me cleaning the loo successfully with White Vinegar and Bicarbonate.  So now I can ditch the bleach entirely.  It doesn't do septic tanks any good whatsoever.

I bulk buy my Bicarb. on-line - I think this was an Ebay purchase.  I use the bicarb. and vinegar for cleaning generally but didn't realize it would do what bleach does down the loo as well.

Finally, above and below, two books from a selection on offer at £2.99 each at Aldi at the moment.

Other titles in this Made at Home series include Breadmaking, Vegetables, Curing and Smoking, and Eggs and Poultry.

As you can see, we keep busy.


  1. Carla Emery and John Seymour are my go to books. My copies are both from the seventies and a little bashed about. I am not sure that the Carla book is actually the finished manuscript, so I am pleased to see that it is still in print. I might treat myself if I sell enough goosegogs.
    Just finished Hovel in the Hills. Made our foray into smallholding(1981) look like a walk in the (It wasn't!)
    Love the coffer

  2. Jam is jam who wants to waste time making jam for shows, I have to make a trip into town this week so will pop into Aldi if I remember :-)

  3. I adore that coffer BB - it has a very similar finish to an old dresser which has been in the farmer's family for a very long time.
    Jam looks delicious and will be so on vanilla ice cream!

  4. I'm working my way through a huge bag of bi-carb bought on line, I use it for cleaning sinks and worktops. It's not so good on limescale which we get a lot of due to very hard water. The coffer is looking brilliant - not a bodged job at all - very clever.I think it's a good thing I live so far from an Aldi as I might have been tempted with those books and I really DO NOT need more preserve books!

  5. Hi Gill. Lovely to see you here. I have to admit, my Carla Emery hasn't seen a lot of action, for various reasons, but my principles are still unchanged, and I am enjoying dipping into it again now. I'm 3/4 of the way through reading Hovel again and remembering how I enjoyed it so much the first time, and what inspiration it gave me. We bought a big old Welsh farmhouse rather than a cottage, but had similar problems with the way it had been . . . maintained . . . down the years! Hope you sell lots of goosegogs!

    Dawn - I have won prizes with my jam in the past, and am very particular about getting it just right, but there was no point in boiling this up again so I shall make some scones and it will be the perfect accompaniment.

  6. Sue - I thought I was being good, just getting the two. Then I thought, I am lactose-intolerent - what the heck have I just bought that Dairy book for?! So I shall give it to one of my girls. I see I'm, not the only one using bicarb : ) Glad you like the coffer. I'll tell him no-one think's it's bodged! (It's because he didn't get 100% closure on the joint so had to put some wood fillers in (a sign of failure to him.) That bit will disappear under the polish though as he's going to put Briwax on it tomorrow - I've just been using a clear wax polish.

    Pat - I'm glad you like it. It has so much character. When I was holding the lid down yesterday for my OH to sand the repair to the right shape, I thought, this wood was an acorn at the time the Black Death was taking Britain by storm. That made a real shiver go down my spine. SUCH history.

  7. I adore the first three photos. Just what the American tourist in me thinks and English garden looks like.
    Plus I love the brown ladder that would be sitting out in my garden. Fabulous.
    Such a sweet helpers curled up on a stool and a rock.

    cheers, parsnip

  8. The Strawbridges were late to the game of self-sufficency if I remember rightly, then the marriage broke up, and he and his son dissolved into cooking round the coast on tv. Runny strawberry jam seems just right on icecream....

  9. The coffer is wonderful, I love to see all the age spots in furniture. Your Mums house looks so old.
    I do love to what you are up to.
    Fondly Michelle

  10. The coffer is wonderful, I love to see all the age spots in furniture. Your Mums house looks so old.
    I do love to what you are up to.
    Fondly Michelle

  11. Michelle - mum had what was the Old Dairy here as her set of rooms - a bed-sitting room, large kitchen, bathroom and a sort of pantry cum Utility room. Our house is on 3 1/2 floors - the Dairy being the bottom half a floor, so to speak, which is partly built into the paddock. I am glad you like the Coffer. We thought it was good value!

    Thelma - Yes, they started with the programmes It's Not Easy Being Green and relocated from Malvern down to Cornwall. I fear that probably didn't help Dick and Bridget's relationship. She is pursuing her eco life and helping bees in some very positive ways. If only I could eat ice cream . . . well, I can, as long as it isn't dairy!

    parsnip - glad you like the photos, and the rusty old ladder (which has earned its keep down the years!) My wee helpers were having a day off to soak up a bit of summer sunshine (not enough of it this year.)

  12. I love your coffer and the repairs look good to my untrained eye. Great tip for cleaning the loo too.

  13. The coffer looks really lovely and great to see your nasturtiums (still waiting for mine to flower!).

    That's a great tip for cleaning the loo - will try it. I use bicarb and white vinegar down sinks to freshen them up. I hate the smell of so many cleaners and tend to use Ecover products although they are often hard to buy in local supermarkets :(