Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Hairy dogs and suppers.

Walley really suffers in the summer with his long and luxuriously thick coat. I've seriously considered it for spinning, but I've heard that it's hard to get rid of the doggy smell!
We treated him to a set of clippers and after a good deal of dog wrangling in the kitchen, he was mostly clipped.
I took so much off, but it doesn't look too drastic, although his ears look a bit girly!
It's so hard to get a decent picture of him, especially in my garden as they both love to run around like crazies :D
There's always so much to sniff at in my garden and Walley is always on the look out for cats. He's fascinated and scared in equal measures!
I made dough for a Lebanese spiced flatbread but unfortunately dropped two sachets of yeast into the mix and had to double up on everything else! The small dough ball is for the flatbreads and the big piece was just bread. I used half chapati flour and half plain and it made a perfect flatbread but a really heavy loaf. It was excellect with bacon and eggs though!
Sorry for the blurry picture, I was in a hurry to eat it ;) Spicey meat topped with yogurt and rocket.
This was lunch the following day and it was just as good cold.
Monday the weather was wet and stormy, so I decided to go for comfort food. I've been making a sort of mediterranean fish stew for years but decided to use a recipe from the Rick Stein cookbook my lovely BF got for my birthday. It was a surprise to find how similar it was to my usual one, only Rick's is made in a big old stewpot and mine goes in the oven.
Lots of chopped veg go into the pan for 10 minutes or so, then followed by tomatoes and garlic.
When it's all beginning to soften add a big glug of pastis (I'll use it up eventually!) and a mug of stock.
Now this is where my version takes over. I layer potatoes on the top, dot with butter and bake in the oven for an hour or so, until the potatoes are soft. Then I sprinkle handfuls of cheese over and leave to brown and bubble. This version gives me time to clear up the kitchen or take the dogs out while dinner cooks itself. I don't like standing guard over a stove, waiting for something to cook, unless I'm in the mood for rissotto when I use the time for mindful contemplation, so not very often!
Served with more rocket, as it's my favourite leaf at the moment, and relax in front of a good movie, or in our case, a slightly mediocre movie!
You may have noticed all of my mismatched plates. We only have a few decent plates left after the dishwater took bites out of all of them and I'm not buying any new ones until after we move. That's one less thing to pack :D

Tuesday, 30 May 2017


 My little bantams, Nutmeg and Coir having a scratch in the dirt.
My back is terrible today, so I'm just visiting you all. Some days words are harder to find than others but I am enjoying reading about your busy days and weekends.
Later I hope I'll feel up to sharing a couple of recipes from our weekend. Until then, another cuppa and then feed the ponies.

Friday, 26 May 2017


The weather has been almost tropical here this week. Moomin and I took Manchee for a very long walk along a beautiful beach on an island near us. Normally in high season, the road is blocked for miles as people flock to enjoy the hot sands and cool waters. Luckily for us, everyone was at work or school! We hardly saw a soul. Manchee had a swim, dug up dead crabs and played chase with seaweed :D
 It was so peaceful and the sound of the waves, mesmerising. I needed the break before heading back to the hard work of clearing out the house.
 Here is where I'm sat this morning. My new favourite spot. In the early morning it's cool and shady with just the sound of the birds and my wooden wind chimes. Yesterday I collected some shells to make a windchime for France. I also have some paintings to finish in between packing up and there is almost a kiln full of dragons and faeries to be fired. They won't survive the journey as they are!

Manchee likes to be out here when it's cool and likes the freedom to come and go now that the fence is thoroughly escape-proof, thanks to my lovely BF :D
I have sooo many herbs for the kitchen and I bought some tomato plants and two courgettes. I normally grow them from seed and wasn't going to bother with veggies this year, but I just couldn't resist them (or the lovely green tin they're sat in below!)
I started taking cuttings as soon as I knew we were moving and everything has grown and is thriving. The yellow pots are full of lavender, rosemary, tarragon, oregano and Stevia. The tarragon has been hit by the slugs, but it recovering and the Stevia I bought on ebay as it's good as a sugar substitute in cakes. I'll give it a go ;) I've also potted up most of my raspberry plants and they're all thriving too! However will I take it all with me???
I suppose that's when the OMG moment hit me, when I realised that I really am moving away. I've lived here for 20 years and despite a few rocky times, it's been my home and my haven. If I wasn't going somewhere so wonderful, I think I'd be a wreck by now!

A way that I've been coping is by throwing myself into projects. Here is the latest. I can't post anymore pictures as it's a gift, but I doubt the person recieving it reads my blog, so I can risk a sneaky peak. I'm almost finished and it's taken just over a week. I can't wait to see it all together :D The socks are almost done, but have been put on hold!
I also have some painting projects to get on with, the garage to empty and a million books to pack. Busy days :D

Thursday, 18 May 2017

shhh, don't tell....

This is my yarn cupboard! It's beginning to get a little out of control and I need to hurry and finish off some of these balls! I'm trying hard to knit through the stash but I also have a wooden chest in the lounge that somehow became filled with new balls!
At least when I shut the doors, no one is any the wiser as to the depths of my obsession. Well, Moomin knows because she's almost as bad!!! This isn't even counting the wool to be spun. My head is beginning to spin at the thought of it all.
When I packed up my fabric stash, it filled three very large zip up shopping bags, the kind you use to store clothes in. If I have to leave a piece of furniture behind when I go, I will, but not my stashed goods - oh dear ;)

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Have I become boring?

Going into the bed and breakfast business as we are, it's become clear to me that my mild OCD for all things clean has begun to resurface! A few years ago I found myself in financial straits and took my strong point, mainly an obsession for cleaning, and turned it into a business.
During that time I cleaned a lot of houses and reshaped a lot of gardens. I learned from one lady who kept house for some stately homes how to organise a linen cupboard and how to fold a fitted sheet to avoid creases! I was very happy. Sadly, during the cold, wet months the Fibro began to take a hold and I needed to change to a less physically demanding career.
Now that we're looking at running a Gite through the Summer months I've began to obsess with methods of keeping up a standard of hygiene that I would expect if I were to go away for a relaxing week or two. 
Here comes the boring part! I've discovered that my favourite pillows can go in the washing machine!!! Is it worrying that this makes me immensely happy?  The pillows are big and fluffy and come from Ikea, so well priced and best of all not filled with down or foam but fiber filled, which is great for allergy sufferers such as myself. I'm going to be testing them in the machine this weekend as I spend weekends with BF and that will give the pillows plenty of time to dry and air.

Talking of allergies, our wonderful New Forest pony, Toffee has begun his yearly round of dramatic scares! He usually has two or three bouts of  health 'issues' which are frightening and often costly in terms of vet fees! Now we're into year three of these issues, we can see a pattern and so treat the problems without always panicking and calling the vet. Last month he couldn't breathe due to dust or pollen in his hay. A tub of Ventipulmen (much like Ventolin for humans) costs around £80 and we had no choice but to buy it!!! However, a blogging friend (thank you Danielle) has since recommended Spirulina for respitory problems and at £10 a bag, I'll give it a go!
In France we'll be relying mostly on our wits and knowledge of alternative medicines to get by until we settle and find a reasonable vet, but of course, it's always better to have a go at treating things naturally before taking chemical medicines. At the moment Toffee is having Golden Paste, a remedy made from organic Turmeric and organic coconut oil, for, lets call it circulation problems to his boy bits. He needs regular exercise and a limited diet which will also do me some good to get out and walk him and stop thinking about house issues.
We've had a couple of offers on the house and they're getting closer to the asking price, so it's all positive, but stressful all the same!

Monday, 15 May 2017

Special dinners.

There is a distinct difference between the cooking styles of my dear BF and myself. He cooks wonderful restaurant quality meals that are so carefully thought out and planned, while I most often wing it.
Saturday he cooked me a delcious liver and bacon meal with mushroom ravioli, vegetables and my favourite sage butter sauce. The liver was sooo soft that even liver haters would have been swayed.
Sunday I decided to go for Texas home cooking after watching Ree on Pioneer Woman. I tried to make traditional white gravy, but it was just too bland for us.
A big handful of cheese sorted that out!

I was halfway through eating it when I thought I should take a picture. We had gammon and cowboy beans (they were divine), American biscuits and gravy and eggs in potato cases. Pretty much all of us enjoyed most of the meal, although it was a little heavy on the tummy, but I have left overs for breakfast ;)
I discovered the power of knitting! Apparently it sends dogs into a stupour ;)

On Sunday we went to our favourite Creek (before the Sunday dinner) and I was lucky enough to take the perfect picture. I've decided to copyright some of the best ones and may put them up for sale at some point in the future. When we have such photogenic animals, it seems silly not to miss the opportunity :D

I hope all my blogging friends had a lovely weekend too. Today the weather has changed, the wind is howling and hurling rain at my windows. A perfect day to sit in and recover my energy, I have to admit that I may have overdone it again! A quiet day sounds ideal to me :D

Friday, 12 May 2017

Wooly adventures.

My lovely yarn has arrived. I'm so pleased with it and if I spin it with some of my other wools, I can make enough for three shawls or maybe two shawls and some socks or gloves.  I have some colour ideas in mind and can't wait to have a play. First though, I've promised myself that I'll finish at least one sock!
While researching French wool breeds of sheep, I came across these little delights. The Ouessant (pronounced ooshant) are very little but produce long, soft wool. Ideal for our little smallholding and easy to buy a couple without anyone noticing (maybe!).
Their colours range from brown to a gorgeous golden cream and I think we would only have a couple to start with, just for wool. They would be pets, not food!!!  I'm still not sure about that side of being self sufficient. For now we'll just grow veggies and have chickens for eggs.
I'm currently sat at my laptop waiting for quotes for transporting the ponies. To say the thought of it all is stressful is the understatement of the year, but at least it's taking my mind away from stressing about the house move!  I'm looking forward to this part of the journey being behind us. I'm not expecting it to be plain sailing on the other side, but at least we'll all be at the start of our great adventure.  Now I'm going to finish that sock and then get back to admiring my wool :D

Wednesday, 10 May 2017


Oh dear, I have to face facts!  I would appear to be addicted to wool (actually, that may not be much of a surprise to some people!), but this week it moved up a notch. Not only have I started another shawl,
but I'm now on track with the socks and the end of the first one is actually in sight :D
 However, I've already cast on a different wool for some more socks, just to mix things up a bit, I suppose!

After reading Fran's post about her moth infestation and her ensuing panic driven clear out I had to have a tidy and clear out of my own.  I found this Corriedale wool (I think) and accidentally had to buy some new yarn to spin with it.

I'd had this website recommended to me by one of my Guild members and the yarn is just so gorgeous. It arrives tomorrow, yaay :D

While I was checking out my bags in the house I was startled to see these little black bugs. I had a moment of my own panic until I put my glasses on.

Just some little heads of lavender from the bundles I'd been storing with my wool to keep moths away. Ironic huh?

It's not all been sitting around knitting and playing with wool. We did manage a few lovely walks this week. The bluebells are stunning at the moment and the smell so heavenly.
I found this gorgeous little flower down by the coast and I think it may be Pigweed, but I can't be certain. It didn't smell as pretty as it looked, haha.
Just along from the pigweed we met these gorgeous cows, Aberdeen Angus, I believe.
They were friendly but Manchee wasn't so happy and had a little bark, safely from behind a bush.
We took one of our usual routes around the oyster beds and it was tricky going. There were so many birds nesting on the islands, safely away from walkers and their dogs, but the noise was deafening.

I found this lovely feather. There were a few Terns in among the seagulls and I'm pretty sure it may have come from one of them. They were so delicate by comparison to the big, pushy gulls.

No this isn't Sunday dinner, well not for us at least. The chickens have been a bit off colour lately and so a regular dinner of porridge and veg have been giving them a boost. I know it's working as they've been laying prett well :D
News about our proposed move is slow at the moment. I've been beyond stressed as my UK Estate Agent has let me down repeatedly. I'm keeping everything crossed and hope to find a buyer for our house very soon. On a positive note, our house in France is secured and waiting for us :D