Wednesday 31 October 2018

When there's a power cut

Not my pumpkins but ones growing at the Botanic Gardens of Wales when we were there at the Fair early in the month.  My veg plot is just an overgrown mess of weeds and Needs Sorting . . .

Anyway, the title today alludes to Yesterday, when we were busy doing all the things which involve electricity (as you do) and all of a sudden, lights out and a dawning realization that the scheduled power cut we'd had a letter about had come to pass.

Well - since I had intended to spend the morning on the sewing machine, that plan was out.  So were vacuuming, baking, peeling and chopping apples to cook up, and Staying Warm.

There had been a sharp frost overnight and whilst plan no. 1 could have involved a long walk, I decided against it as all the flat routes are along the bitterly cold valley bottom (when you walk down our hill towards the river, it is noticably colder from a point about half way down and by the bridge it's a frost pocket.)  I am one of those people who gets hot very quickly and cold very quickly and the older I get, the less I enjoy being cold!  No. 2 plan was gardening - same applies.  No. 3 plan was painting our bedroom (Still) and I needed good light for that.

Anyway, instead, we lit the wood burner in the sitting room so we had one warm room to retire to should we need it.  In the event, we discovered a whole new way to get warm!

I was busy in the kitchen pricing items (gleaned from Tam on her last visit - she'd been having a clear out of vintage things she hadn't sold on her occasional stall) for our next Fair on Saturday when the phone rang.  Not the one in the hall, which relies on electricity, but the upstairs one which is plugged in straight to a BT line.  My dearly beloved had been to the hospital this week to have his eyes measured for new lenses as he is on the list for a cataract operation (they reckoned it would be next summer due to long waiting lists). They asked when he would LIKE to have it and he laughingly said "Tomorrow!"  Anyway, blow me down, it was the hospital saying they had two cancellations for Saturday morning and of course, he booked himself in immediately.  Of course, our Fair was . . . Saturday, so we have had to cancel that.

Then we decided to sort out the beds in the attic, as we had Gabby's other bed back as the flat she has just moved into in Cardiff is fully furnished (in a somewhat spartan manner!)  First of all we had to move the single bed up there into what used to be the sleepover room (but it will have to be sold as we have no use for it).  Then we put the upholstered ends and sides of the bed together - not easy as you had to slide A into B and they weren't playing ball. Then, as we started to match the other bits we got hotter and hotter and I was soon down to a t-shirt and thinking about opening windows.  We have found out that OH will have to put in blocks to replace the compressor lifting arms (one was bent) and so we stopped there.

I managed to catch up on all the electrically-powered jobs in the afternoon and made a big pan of veggie soup - when it gets cold, it's soup making time here.

What do you do during a power cut?

Monday 29 October 2018

Monday, Monday

A busy day today, to add to several Busy Days recently.  Yesterday, however, I was smitten with one of those annoying 24 hour bugs, and spent the afternoon on the sofa, having given up the unequal struggle to stay awake.  

However, on Saturday I thought I would try one of the recipes from the River Cottage "Light and Easy" cookbook I found in a Wotton charity shop the previous day.  The top photo shows:

Seedy Rye Soda Bread

20g Sunflower Seeds            20g Sesame Seeds
20g Poppy Seeds                  20g Linseeds (flaxseed)
250g light rye flour, plus extra to dust (I only had dark rye flour, so I measured it out 2/3 rye and 1/3 strong white bread flour).

1 1/2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda                        100ml apple juice (I used Cranberry)         40g honey
1tablespoon rapeseed or sunflower oil
100ml water

Preheat the oven to 200 deg. C/Gas Mark 6.  Line a baking tray with baking parchment.

Combine all the seeds then set aside about 1 teaspoonful of them for finishing the loaf. In a large bowl, thoroughly combine the remaining seeds with the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda.

In a jug, combine the apple juice, 100 ml water, the honey and oil.  Stir well so that the honey dissolves.  Pour into the dry ingredients and mix quickly but thoroughly to form a sticky dough.

Scrape the dough onto a floured surface and form into a round (it is a very soft dough, so flour your hands well.)  Transfer to the baking tray.  Sprinkle with the reserved seeds, then dust the dough with a little more rye flour.  Cut a deep cross in the dough, going at least halfway down into it.  Bake for about 30 mins, until a rich brown all over.

Transfer the loaf to a wire rack and tuck in as soon as it's cool (or even when it's not!)  This will keep well for up to 3 days.

'Tis yummy . . .

This vintage tablecloth (unused) also came my way in the same charity shop as the Laura Ashley curtains.  It has been washed and ironed, and will be on its way to the Vintage Fair I'm doing next weekend.

Anyway, today has been a combination of going shopping and moving a bed (heavy, even when in bit) and a very heavy solid oak drop leaf table home here from middle daughter's shared house in Swansea.  She has now moved to a furnished flat in Cardiff.  Anyway, she and my OH did the lifting of the heaviest bits down in Swansea and OH and I managed to get everything inside the house when we got back, although the bed is now in residence in the Master suite in the attic, so it was up 3 flights of stairs to get there!  

We admired the fabulous view of Swansea Bay from G's old house, then went to Sainsbury's for the grocery shopping. That would be my store of choice, but the nearest one is Swansea, so I rarely get a chance to shop there.

Hopefully tomorrow I can play catch up here, but we need to put the bed back together whilst we can still (hopefully) remember which bits go where!!

Saturday 27 October 2018

Saturday catch-up

Yesterday we had to drive to Wotton-under-Edge, where we had bought a couple of lots at auction.  It's our favourite auction (though expensive, as lots of competition for the often wonderful lots on offer.) Anyway, we use buying a few things as an excuse for a day out, as well as doing business.

It's a long rive though - about 100 miles on the motorway (M4 and M5) and then off at junction 14 and into Wotton, which is a lovely old town on the edge of the Cotswolds.  As Keith is waiting for a cataract operation (though he can still drive fine, with his specs on), and he still has his frozen shoulder, I do the bulk of the driving - it was split yesterday 195 miles (me) and 40 miles (him). . . We always break the journey at Waitrose in Abergavenny on the way home, as we don't go back via the motorway, but go across country via Gloucester edges, Forest of Dean, Monmouth, Abergavenny and the A40 back home past Brecon.

Top photo and above: views from the auction car park.

One shop had thought "Sod Halloween" and gone straight into Christmas mode . . .

Many of the buildings have ancient stone roof tiles - this is the roof on Tesco!

Another lovely old building with a stone-tiled roof - this is The Edge where we go for lunch.  It's always busy and they do a great selection of lunchtime offerings.  I just had a bottle of Pomegranate and Elderflower fizz and Keith had his usual bacon sandwich (toasted) and Earl Grey Tea.  I then shot across the road, to the bakers I had seen Jamaican Lentil slices and gosh, one of those hit the spot.

We always do a trawl of the (usually excellent) Charity shops.  I got a novel (downstairs so I can't remember the title) set in the period post Flodden.  I also got a beautiful hand-embroidered tablecloth for a vintage Fair I'm doing soon (in wash), and a couple of other things . . . see bottom of page.

Above and below: this is the Tolsey Building with its famous clock.  The building was given to the town by the Countess of Warwick around 1600.  It was used as a Court House and has a cellar beneath it.  The clock reminds the town of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee in 1897.    HERE is a link to more history about the architecture of Wotton (pronounced Wooton).

More beautiful period buildings at the top end of town.

These are the Almshouses at Tabernacle Pitch, built c. 1815 in memory of the Rev. Rowland Hill. Just around the corner behind them are the church and schoolroom where the auction is held.

Another wobbly picture - looking across the town behind the Almshouses.

On the way home we stopped in the Forest of Dean to take our jackets off and have a drink of water.  I have always smiled at this sign and thought what a wonderful postal address!!

Finally, two more Charity Shop bargains - Hugh's book from 2014, which I didn't have, was priced at £3.  Below are a big pair of curtains (pink Hydrangeas) measuring 60" x 80" each curtain.  The tag said "need washing" - they obviously thought they were spoiled as they had been at a patio door and rain had been blown in, leaving some brown stains in places.  However, I Googled how to remove the stains, and apparently white vinegar (I had plenty) in cold water would do the trick - and it did - AND gave me a spotless kitchen sink afterwards.  They've been through the washing machine on a cold wash since and partly-dried on the line.  I think I got a real bargain as they were just. . . £10!!!  The material is £34 a metre and I've worked out there must be 8 metres at least, plus lining and header tape.

Finally, my "downstairs reading" at the moment.  Not read him before but will definitely look out for his 10 other books!

Right, bath time calls.

Thursday 25 October 2018

A morning at Abergavenny Fleamarket

We set off first thing yesterday to drive down to Abergavenny Fleamarket - it had been several months since we last went. As you can see, the Usk valley looked absolutely beautiful in the early morning sunshine.

This is Pen-y-Grug hillfort - THIS LINK will tell you all about it.

Above and below - these are the fabulous offerings made by one talented woman, who dresses the market for the Abergavenny Food Festival each year.

A couple of the stalls.

My friend Ann putting the finishing touches to her stall.  We are opposite one another when we are selling at Carmarthen Fleamarket.

Finally, a couple of photos of Abergavenny, taken as we walked back to the car.  Once again it is late and I slept badly again last night and am tired out, or there would be a few more words.  

We managed to get a little bit more firewood today, but it has been like a feeding frenzy down there - many tons of wood having disappeared in the space of a few hours.  We felt rather like scavengers competing with lions and hyenas - all we could get (being old and feeble) were a few small logs.  Ah well, better than nothing . . .  One gigantic log on the far side of the river was moved for someone by the guy with the crane and we were told it weighed in at 4 1/2 tons!

If you fancy seeing some old photos and postcards of Abergavenny - and singing along to an old song - HERE will take you. Debi's comment took me back half a century!!

Tuesday 23 October 2018

Clearing the log jam

Not the best photo (joggled it!) but you can see from this just how MASSIVE the crane is that they are using to lift the log pile out from around the bridge.

One of the bigger trees being winched out.

Plenty more where that came from . . .

This big old tree, jammed sideways on across the main bridge stanchion did not help matters, and after that arrived, everything piled up against it.

They are very skilled at this - chap was lowered down to attach the chains around the various trees, so that they could be lifted out after the bod with the chainsaw then sawed through them.

Just a few of the trees recovered.

Monday 22 October 2018

A sunny stroll around Narberth

Just a quick post, rather short on words as it's nearly 8.30 and I haven't sat down yet, and I've been awake since 1 a.m. . . .  We had a long day at a Fair yesterday and have been out and about all day today too.  Anyway, some photos from Narberth, where we had a - relaxing! - wander round today.

Pumpkins were all over the place but this greengrocers had stacks of them.  I clocked the price on one of the biggest - £27 (or was it £29?) - I don't know who would pay that just for one to cut a face in!

The Clock Tower in Narberth.

Autumnal Hare in window display - isn't he lovely?

Above and below: It's Halloween Time - one of the antique shop displays.

Lots of colourful houses looking down the hill behind the clock tower.

A rather blurry photo of some "patchwork looking" rugs and cushions which I quite liked the style of.

Crow sculpture in shop window.

I'm still trying to work out whether the sign has end to end rabbits or wallabies?!!!

Finally, back to the car park and this amazing wall art . . .