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Friday, 22 November 2013

Nearly done.....

There is not a lot happening at the moment. The building is progressing, though they seem to be a man short. The outside wall has been splattered and the ceiling and opening to the loft has been lined with tongue and groove and lights bedded in. 

It will be nice to be able to leave the new door open at night so that the dogs can have access to downstairs and any heat left in the fire can make it’s way up during the night. They are hoping to be finished bar the painting next week....YIPPEE....we can get back into some sort of normal routine! We are so glad we had the fires put in earlier and at least had somewhere to hang out which was warm when the weather cooled. But so uncomfortable sitting on Mum’s 1950s Ercol dining chairs. We only brought them out as they have sentimental value, not for any comfort reason.

And talking of it getting cooler, we have had a bit of fog and a stray frost, but not enough to persuade bugs and flies to depart. The flies have been a particular nuisance as they slow down ready for winter, but we rarely see wasps now. Venus the fly catcher and Lacey have taken to jumping onto the sitting room window sill to catch the flies landing on be encouraged!

 But some of the broccoli as covered with cabbage white caterpillars, which I take off with a bit of leaf and throw to the chickens. The rodents are persisting in the loft and being persistently caught in traps. Small spiders keep appearing and a little beetle with go faster stripes, he seems to have had a bit of a bump though and has a dent. We now only see the occasional butterfly and grasshopper. 

But the rhubarb plants refuse to stop sending out new leaves and go to sleep, and the chervil is still going strong. We even have new fennel and potato plants shooting up. But generally the garden is tidy ready for winter. There have also been some small but perfectly formed ripe figs for the picking. These are growing on the shoots which have shot up over the winter from a large stump left when an old fig tree was cut down. We will be doing some drastic pruning to tidy it up in the spring.

 I did mention they were small didn't I?
 How about this weather for nearly the end of November?

 We now need to be extra vigilant with the chickens as there is less daylight and predators will be looking for easier pickings over winter. A couple of small chicks have realised they do not have to go round the electric fence as with a small hop they can go through the bigger holes and save energy. We have not worried too much as they are only out when we are around, and they shelter in the caterpillar haven, but one found it’s way all the way over to the neighbours’ plot and needed rescuing. So we have had to put another fence next to the mesh, chain link this time, to keep them contained. One horrid person said to switch the electricity on but they are still so little......

I have been practicing cooking in the woodburner. It gets very hot very quickly and can burn (or caramelise!) food really quickly while centres can be a bit raw. I am not doing bread in there at the moment for this reason, I have just got it to our liking in the conventional oven (love a good thick crust) but when we get the use of the kitchen back and the weather is cold enough to have the fire going longer on a lower burn I will try again. Meanwhile oven chips, roast veg, Yorkshire puddings and jacket potatoes do so well in there. The Yorkies were delicious, and I have found that frozen courgette slices can be extremely palatable done in there, especially good with a sliced onion mixed through. Shame I decided I didn’t need to freeze too much of the courgette! You live and learn. Pan veg can be cooked on the top and I have done fish fingers (guilty pleasure) but if they spit the fat burns on to the tiles behind and is difficult to remove, so better in the oven. Did a lovely omelette/frittata tonight on top, perfect temperature.

 Dave's chop got a bit lost!

We went round to the English neighbours’ house last night. It was lovely to be in a clean environment again, no dust anywhere, and they have the cutest kitten. We had a lovely evening, though I have to admit to only wanting to sit in front of the telly after the uncomfortable day and rush to get something to eat after the builders went at after 5. But it was well worth the effort and we have got to know them a bit better, and they introduced us to Venka’s pickled veg which we have bottles of in the cellar. I don’t think they will be there long! They were delicious..

Dave is continuing to paint when he can, but he is not good at being still. He has just completed a picture of a stork which had nested in the village in Spring and is now attempting his first horse, our beautiful Murphy who we had to leave behind in the UK. The trouble is he probably knows him too well and may be super critical. But I have great faith in him.

Venka’s dog made one more visit after being caught up in the wire netting for the night, but has not been seen since. However, something is pushing under the chain link from next door, small but powerful enough to push some rocks out of the way, put there to block the gap. We are now on a mission to find out what it is. My bet is on hedgehog, or maybe a badger. Most other things would jump over. It's not very high.

We called in at Dave’s swimming spot on the river on the way back from shopping. The area is looking very different now that the vegetation is dying back, but there are less places to hide to watch the kingfishers and all birds soon departed as we watched....and Dave didn’t even go for a swim. He doesn’t usually let a bit of cold stop him, there had been a good frost that morning though.
 It's easier to see buzzards.....
 And there are still a few hardy flowers blooming....

 The shopping was only partially successful, we went to Praktiker (like B&Q) for carpet and tiles while the sale was on, intending to call in on a Christmas fair promising a stall with bacon and such like, and a long list of other interesting looking sellers. We followed a van down to the site half an hour after the opening time but at the end of the lane found two stalls and a few people sitting about looking bored, couldn’t see a car park though it was a campsite (but the van we followed stopped at a gate and the driver got out to play with the resident dogs, so there might have been one there somewhere) so we struggled to turn around, scraping the car on some old metal, and left, watched by the bored looking people. What a disappointment. No bacon for Dave at Christmas, or cheddar.

We all know about parrots who like sitting on shoulders, but our Bella is also a master. This time she used Dave as a convenient seat to watch what was going on in the garden! Bless her.....
Our first purple sprouting broccoli....

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