Sunday, 29 November 2009

A Very Private Reunion.....

Trousers and Jim haven't seen each other for 'donkeys years'.
So. It was really lovely for the two of them to meet up again and renew their friendship after very nearly a decade.

To be perfectly honest, I'm only just recovering. The Stitch in my side is STILL aching?!
I'm not sure just how much fun you're allowed to have in your life. But if I died tomorrow, I promise you, I'd laughed my sox off, and gone to heaven this weekend, with brass knobs on.
No. I think all three of us did?!
It was Gorgeous, with a captial G.

The Boys just wet themselves laughing, and just blamed anything else on the sheep.
(See Wellie shrug her shoulders, roll her eyes, and hold her nose....)

Which is why I should just put my pen down now, because, to be perfectly honest, there is nothing more to say.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Frills, Thrills & Festive Fruits

With four full weeks until Christmas, and only marginally more until New Years' Eve, I thought it was about time I blew the dust and cobwebs off my sewing machine, and finally got around to making the new tablecloth for The Dining Hall! Little do you think, at the time, that your parents would give you a Singer Sewing Machine for something as special as your 18th Birthday, but then again, I never quite expected a Gary Rhodes Cookbook for my 40th either.
Don't think I'm ungrateful - both have been extremely useful over the years!!

Trousers and I are spending our first Christmas here at The Funny Farm alone with our cat, kind of like 'The Calm Before The Storm', you could say, as our very good friends, The Piglets, and Paul's Bestest Friend...In The World....are all coming to stay over New Year. And I do love making our home look cosy and festive, whether it's the dining table, the mantle, the front door, the tree - or the cat....

I am so looking forward to foraging in the woods over the next few weeks for sticks and twigs and berries and cones. What a magical time this is!

Those of you who occasionally pay any attention to any of my witterings, I recently visited Prince Charles' beautiful gardens at Highgrove. As a little gift for His Royal Highness, I took a pot of my exclusive Cape Gooseberry Jam. Anyway.......

I was on my way out of the farm gate the other morning, and, something inside me, whispered that there was a letter from The Royal Household in my postbox. Trusting my own instincts these days, I unceremonially stuck my hand into the rusty red box, and pulled out the contents. To my sheer delight (see Wellie dance round her truck with the letter in the air before shutting the gate) I was not wrong. But I surprised myself by placing it on the front passenger seat, and drove off with it UNOPENED.

I know, I know..... the suspense was killing me too?!

Every time I stopped the truck at a junction or a set of lights, I casually turned the pristine envelope to face me, and admired the postmark: Buckingham Palace......
"Ah!... Indeed....Who IS Queen Today?" I said to myself with a giggle.

Unfortunately, the contents of the letter was marked as Private & Confidential, so you will have to accept my word that Prince Charles was very appreciative of my homemade Physalis & Passionfruit Jam. However, it made no mention of whether The Prince simply adored the jam, thought it moderately tasty, or has been confined to bed with a dicky tummy ever since.
Although the very select few who have very much had the priv.priv.....honour, have loved it!

I'm not silly enough to presume that Charles is reading my blog, but, if you are Sir, it blew my frock up to receive your letter of thanks, and I'm going to frame it in The Downstairs Loo. X
(See Wellie curtsey).

Now then - there's a bit of a Wellie Workshop moment going on Down at The Funny Farm between now and Christmas. And, if like me, you're going to make Citrus Fruit & Clove Pomanders, they'll need to dry out in a warm dark place for 3 weeks, so I've started ours' this afternoon.
It takes 'the patience of a saint' to make them, and believe me, I'm going to need it, as I've got between Nought and Thirty to make, depending on when this particular Saint throws in the festive towel!

You can make any pattern you like with the cloves, and I'll be putting pretty ribbon on some of them when they've dried, whilst others will just nestle amongst dried squashes, church candles, nuts and evergreen foliage.

Once again, thank you for watching, and see you next time!

Sunday, 15 November 2009

New Horizons and Old Friends

You see, not having lived here at this time of year before now, Trousers and I are discovering that a lot of the landscapes down on The Funny Farm, have been a visual mystery to us. Until now - So how exciting is that?!

With the recent bad weather, the little produce that we've got growing, isn't doing too badly. I've had to re-stake the Purple Sprouting Broccoli that took a collective tumble, as did the Mangetout trellis, but largely, the green and purple Brussel Sprouts are still sturdy and shyly productive (I think we may get a mouthful or two to feel sufficiently festive about yet?!)

But the Calabrese, Cauliflowers, Savoy Cabbage and Curly Kale plants are slow. Not that I mind, because I'd like something productive from the kitchen garden to fill 'the hungry gap' early next year.

And, I tell you wot..... Trousers is 'Cock-A-Hoop' about the Japanese Overwintering Onions and the Garlic that I've planted - they're doing incredibly well. I could take a smug Bow or Curtsey, but I suspect that it's less to do with my growing skills, and more to do with the amount of manure that was ferried from the huge pile over t'other side of The Funny Farmyard. Mind you, having said that, I WAS the person that ferried it, and I swear that my arms are much, much longer than when we first moved in.

And if I didn't have quite enough to do already, a girl comes back from a relaxing holiday in the sun, gets all the washing and ironing done, the house back to some kind of normality, reintroduces herself to the cat, which took 'some time' (!), mows the lawn, rakes the leaves, fills the freezers with every conceivable yumminess, makes jam and jelly out of anything and everything that moves, and there's more Apples to pick?!! Is there NO peace for the wicked??!

Now then. You see this Birdie Nut Feeder? Unfortunately, so did Cyril Squirrel, who, for the second time this week, has removed the base, emptied the contents, and has today, spent the remainder of the afternoon digging nut-sized holes in our back lawn.

I have completely no idea why I'm so shocked, because it is far from the first time that this has happened in my life. But I suppose it's because I was talking on the phone to Trousers' Bestest Mate.....In The World..... and watched him do it right before my very eyes.
At which point, Jim reliably informed me, that Squirrel is very edible, which I knew already (smart-@rse Wellie), and if anyone out there would like to email me your best Cyril Recipe, I shall be shopping for accompanying ingredients within the next fortnight, in readiness for the boys' Reunion Dinner!

The Crab Apples are a beautiful gold colour, but have suffered a fair bit with Scab. I've not grown Crab Apples myself before, but next Autumn, when I'm more organised, and can make more effective use of my time, I shall be78888888888888888888887777777777. I'd like to apologise for that - and please don't think that you've just had one glass too many! My gardening cat, BC, has just walked across the keyboard, to add her own entry to The Funny Farm Blog today (just wanting to introduce herself I guess?!)......... Where was I? Oh yes, next year I'll experiment a bit with the Crab Apples in the name of preserving all that is bountiful.

Round about this time of year, the occasional visit to a wonderful 'snuggle' of interesting and unusual craft, gift and deli shops, about half an hours' drive from us, is guaranteed to put a smile on Wellie's face, especially when she comes back with armfuls of Ornamental Gourds, in preparation for decorating our home for the festive season. I got soaked to the skin selecting these, as they were part of a huge pile outside, and the heavens opened just as I got there. It's my own fault, because I took my time selecting the nicest, most interesting ones.....But hey! when you find such quality for only 10 pence each, a bl@@dy good soaking never did me any harm before now...

So the next thing to do with them is to dry them out very thoroughly - which is where the residual heat of the Rayburn comes in handy. And if I wanted to make them last even longer, I could coat them in varnish. I can assure you that I won't be doing that, because, to be perfectly honest, that excites me about as much as watching paint dry?
I would just like to take this opportunity of personally welcoming Jim & Tracey as new readers of our Blog. Kiss Kiss you two. XX
And Thank You to everyone else who follows our nutty Blog. As always, you are most welcome, and we love your company.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

This Autumnal Weekend...

Down on The Funny Farm this week, all looks 'sweetness and light' in The Pretty Garden at the front, because the autumn sunshine is just incredibly lovely, making everything appear to be a bed of roses. Not So! my friends! There's a tremendous amount of hard work to be done at this time of year - and if I'm not mistaken, Trousers and I have been working our proverbial SOX off this weekend. And let me just put your minds at rest here? This front lawn does look rather lush, but don't be fooled - it largely consists of very healthy green moss, reminding us, allegedly, that the grass is not always greener on the other side!

Whereas the grass on the back lawn, is now virtually moss and weed free, given that Wellie has spent a good deal of the summer tending to it. Next year, it has to take a huge amount of 'wear and tear', so I can begin to strengthen it then and keep it healthier.

As you can see, and we are more than aware (!), there's more digging to be done, to complete the new Kitchen Garden design in the back garden - and we're getting there slowly but surely.

Today is Sunday Children, and Trousers desperately wants to return to work tomorrow, in order to have a well-earned rest?! This photo below might suggest to you that it's 'a bit of a mess', but you should have seen it before. It sported 'cut-off conifer trunks' from where there was a Leylandii Hedge previously, and Trousers has singlehandedly reclaimed it over the last two days for a very very special purpose.

Those of you who know us of old, might fondly remember Wellie's Grown-Up Girls' Greenhouse.
So.... Round of Applause please, because we've brought her with us to The Funny Farm, and this is her noo home, right here, next to The Nectarine Greenhouse (which also houses The Peach, and The Grapevine). Actually, it also now houses Wellie's Gardening Cat, since I made her a little bed in there today, but that's only for when she's not inside asleep on the sofa, or on my head, obviously.....
I must talk to Trousers about this 'arse about face' posting up of photos - because yet again, it's like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted?

Here we have some Jelly being made Kiddie Winkies..... I wonder what it could be?
Ooh! It's Grape!

The small pippy black ones weighed in at 2 kilos. Rightly or wrongly, I composted the rest.
Anyhow. We've had a fantastic week, the three of us, in all sorts of directions, and we wish you all very much the same for the week ahead.
And thank you, if you've come here specially to read this.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

I See No Sheeps!

There's nothing quite like a good read on holiday, don't ya think?... Trouble is, I'd read it before, and knew how it ended... ! but the characters in Joy Larkcom's book did hold my attention just long enough to keep me sat still, which is normally an impossibility for me down on the funny farm, because I'm always such a busy little bee. And besides, this was supposed to be a relaxing holiday, and I didn't fancy watching Trousers tear his hair out for the full 10 days!

We got some fabulous exercise (don't make your own story up children!) walking for miles and miles along this beach a couple of times every day.

Which we completely destroyed, twice a day, by going out for lunch and dinner!
This next photo was taken from a restaurant called 'Tides', in Holetown, just up the beach from our hotel. Aptly named, as the waves crash into the rocks just below your table, as the tide comes in. No-one got too wet (on the outside) whilst we dined there, although it must be said that Trousers and I got incredibly wet on the inside, on account of their very fine cocktails...
Can you believe that a glass of Pinot Grigio cost approximately £7.50 in Barbados? Yes, I said 'a glass'... but all the wine has to be imported, so I guess it's understandable. Mount Gay Rum, however, is made on the island, and we found it to be very very delicious.... Hic!

And no - Wellie didn't catch these fish with her bare hands! In fact, if truth be known, she didn't catch them at all. A man on the beach did, but I thought I'd like to show my cat a photo of what she was missing out on by staying at home!

And last, but by no means least, this photo was taken on the evening of my birthday, at a restaurant called 'The Cliff', which is allegedly fourth best restaurant in the world now. Trousers booked it months ago, as a surprise, and Boy! what a truly stunning experience - one that will stay in my memory forever and ever.

Luckily, I had a surprise of my own for Trousers that night (now I won't tell you again children!).
Namely, a very posh dress, which I kid you not, I found in a Charity Shop for ten quid. So I sewed a bit of lace on it, gave it a halter-neck strap, and hey presto, it looked a million dollars, and certainly turned a few heads, I can tell you.....
All in all, we had a great holiday, and are settling back nice and snuggly into The Funny Farm with our adorable cat, BC, who thankfully, has not stopped purring since we got back.
So now, time to put the pinny back on! The black grapes are ready to be harvested and turned into Grape Jelly, the last of the Raspberries need picking. The Borlotti Beans are just about ready, cauldrons of soup are needing to be made, there's a huge mountain of ironing, and there's digging to be done!
Now - Has anyone seen Trousers?!
Thank you for Listening, and we'll be back again soon.