Friday, 24 January 2014

Our new woodburner

Over Christmas we finally bought and had installed a woodburning stove for our front room.  We are ludicrously over-excited, although was have been in this house for nearly twelve years we have always wanted one a woodburner but never been able to afford one before.

The wood arrived in a heap outside the front of the house and, as we have no direct access to the back, it had to be carried through the house.  It turned out that blue IKEA bags where pretty much made for this purpose.

With three pairs of family hands on deck we were stacked and finished in a little under two hours.  And after the hard work there is now the pleasure of being warm and toasty in the evenings.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Chickens, Part 1a

The chicken house is now in place, but the ground needs levelling.  Definitely a job for a drier day.  Good to see how it will look in the garden though, and that we will still have space to sit and eat (just).

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Sweet Orange Marmalade

Well, bleeurgh.  Seville orange marmalade is the only one for me, as bitter as possible.  I use a family recipe, but add less sugar and all the pith of the oranges.  This results in breakfasty ambrosia according to me, but to most other people is inedible.  In particular the Portly Cyclist prefers his marmalade at the sweeter end of the scale so this has resulted in having to make two lots of marmalade.  The Seville batch was duly made in January but I am only now getting round to thinking about the sweeter batch. 

Actually, recipes for sweet marmalade are harder to come by than you would think.  Perhaps the sweet enthusiasts prefer to buy their marmalade?  In the end I have decided to go for using the same recipe, but obviously replacing the Seville oranges with sweet and using the correct quantity of sugar.  When it’s all done and dusted I’ll let you know how it is received.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Chickens, Part One

So, in our tiny garden, we are going to have a go at keeping chickens.  Well, bantams because they’re small to go with the small garden.  Firstly I consulted a friend who keeps bantams in the city; he had a look at the garden and assured me it would be fine.  Then I consulted the extremely helpful and informative Kate Fox who sent me her article on ‘Keeping Chickens in Small Spaces’.  Well, this does exactly what it says on the tin, and was a mine of instructive and enlightening information.  Then I mentioned it to my mother and she said she thought I must be mad.  I ignored her.

Supplies next.  A flat-packed hen house arrived from Chicken Coops Direct  It fitted together like a dream as did the run.  A couple of coats of wood preservative later  and I’m pretty much ready to go. I just need to attach the run to the coop and put in in place, sort out the bedding, a feeder and drinker. Oh, and get the chickens.  All of which I will do when it stops raining.  

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Cherry Bombs and living dangerously



I’m moving towards nearly everything I grow, outside and indoors, being edible.  As far as houseplants goes this means changing the peace lilies and spider plants for herbs, salads and crops that do better with a bit more heat like chillies.  I love chillies and, if my children liked them more, would strew them in the dinner with abandon.  Of course, the best place to start with anything chilli-related is the fantastic South Devon Chilli Farm.  I have just received seeds for cherry bomb chillies and the curious pimientos de Padron.  You may know the latter from tapas bars; mostly very mild just the odd one is really hot (about 1 in 30 apparently).  It’s a gentle sort of way to live dangerously I know but I can’t resist them.


I also have some seedlings on the way. Now all I have to do is find room for them all.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Hugh's Fish Fight


Well you don’t have to live in a city to do this, but all us urban dwellers can sign up to Hugh’s Fish Fight.  If you haven’t seen any of this brilliant series with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall then you can catch the latest episode through the Fish Fight website Then you can email the government to express your support for introducing 127 marine reserves around the UK.  Then we won’t have to be nostalgic about when we had fish and chips, and our children won’t have to wonder what we’re talking about.