Monday, 26 December 2011

The Least That I Can Do Is Care.....

....And This Chrismas, it's to tell you that Trousers is always brilliant at Being Him.  He makes me laugh all year long, and makes me cry laughing, sometimes for seconds on end?, and I sometimes forget just what he means to me in the small scale of this big world.  All year round we truck along, living, as we do... a couple....with no ankle-biters to speak of, but with a cat that has a sense of humour to die for, sent to us from heaven, absolutely on purpose, to make every single day of our lives very special, to make up for it....and I couldn't wish for a better wish to come true in either one of them.

Does this look like a man that's 'Burning CDs?'.... Forgive me, but I don't see bonfire smoke...?
Trousers went Christmas Shopping, and told me he had 'an Epiphany', but I knew what he meant, because on Christmas Day he gave me an Ipiphany, which has brought your Auntie Wellie into the 2012 Century, for to listen to her eclectic music tastes all day every day, tickling her musical fancy wherever she is, from Tom Waits to Juliet Turner.  And if I can fathom how to get an FM signal between Classic and the other one that isn't Radio 2 as well on it before I go nuts, I'll be smiling from Ear to Ear/Here to Here.



BLOKES, LOOK AWAY?........Girlfriends, Girlfriends, Girlfriends.....  Janet Reger Undies used to be exclusively for ladies with many more pennies than you and I, but I promise you, now they are much more affordable for the likes of us, and if You or Your Loved One want anything as gorgeous as these, you have Trousers now to Thank for showing you these morsels of delight. (Nod Nod, Wink Wink, Say No More?!) 
But it's personal touches of L O V E Boxes, which I LOVED, (but could have spelled VOLE, if I'd opened them in the wrong order) sporting the matching knickers, and all were a bottom size of 12, which I am not remotely.  How easily one can fall from grace Children?

 And let's face it, Trousers makes me feel like A Pretty Woman, like Julia Roberts, in Richard Gere's Penthouse Bath, singing my heart out to my very first chosen i-wotsit download in my entire life.

As insignificant as we all are in this world, I'd like to end my own year, asking you to join me in listening to Kid Rock, Marty McBride and TI.

I can't think of a nicer sentiment to start 2012 in,
in
The Least That I Can Do Is Care....X

My Love To Each And Every Single One Of You
Every Day, Do Something Nice For Someone Else.X,
Wellie.
X

Monday, 19 December 2011

A Festive Kick Inside.....

Naivety in your own mind, but Nativity in mine, because you may be thinking that this is just another Wellie photographic shot of a Funny Farmhouse Rainbow.... and you'd be entirely wrong my friends.  This Rainbow stops only where the mechanics of the working farm actually begins....

At the end of this Rainbow, IS a Yellow Brick Road, but no Dorothy with Red Shoes, just A WellieGirl in mucky WellieBoots, watching and learning, looking and loving.  The Ewes, expertly being herded 'One Man and His Dog'-stylie by Ben and Shep into this corner, are where gorgeous little Spring Lambs are counted inside Mummies Tummies well before they are even born, and this is only just a part of this side of The Funny Farm.  It 'rocks' for me on a monumental scale, every hour of every day, every week, every month and every year, and if I died and went to Heaven tomorrow, I'd have to come back for holidays at least twice a week?

Trousers bought 3 bottles of red wine for a tenner on his way home s'evening, because I'd not got the next batch of homebrewed red ready yet, and what he bought was so Rubbash that I had to turn it into 'Mulled' for him, which every Muppet knows, doesn't make it less Rubbash?!

But it's a nice lesson learned on his part, because I think he appreciates the time it takes to put these things together for him now. 
With "Lashings of Ginger Beer" on the go as well Children, I think that Enid Blyton would be very proud of me if she were alive this Christmas......

I'm loving your comments starting to come in now: Jelliebabe, Beefy & Squirrel, and huge hugs to all three of you who have been such fabulous supporters here for me. X.

Mindful of tragedies around other corners of our globe, my love to you and yours', keep safe, keep warm, and I'll see you next time.X

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

I'LL GIVE YOU A CHRISTMAS WELLIE HUG FOR ONE OF YOURS'?

And let's face it.... it's a lot cheaper than going to the shops, buying a Crimble Card'n'A Stamp, going to post it.... to somewhere ABROAD, waiting  an age for one in return, spending loads of time crossing people off your Chrissy Card List for those that can't be @rsed to send one back???!

So, like my friend Jelliebabe, you can save yourself a fortune, and wish Me, Trousers and my Gardening Cat a very merry one, and encourage me to continue writing my Funny Farm Blog for you in 2012, by becoming A Funny Farm Follower, and leaving me messages 'to your hearts content' throughout the year.
(And may I just completely 'Name Drop' now, just because I can, that my very very favourite Denis Cotter Irish Vegetarian Chef has viewed my blog this year, and his girlfriend, Maureen, left me a lovely comment a few months back, for which I'm eternally grateful).  Merry Christmas Denis and Maureen.X.

Each and every one of you are most welcome as you visit The Funny Farm Blog this Festive Season, whether it be Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter throughout the very British Seasons, whether I  be photographing The Farm, The Aminals, The Gardening Cat, The Fruit'n'Veg, The Herbs'n'Flowers, My Next Novelty Cake, Preserves, or The Love Of My Life.....
..Tiz The Season To Be Jolly right now?
Mmmm......but now IS the time to lock your Dad in the Downstairs' Cupboard Children, so that his 'Dad Dancing' doesn't spoil any of your Festivities before The Noo Year is out?!
Normally, The Cat and I put a small trail of Cheese leading into The Cellar.....?!
 
Around The World, you've taken to following my Blog, and I thought it would be incredibly beautiful to join all of our hands right now, take a look at each other, and smile into each others' eyes.
It's up to you as an individual as to how long you want to maintain eye contact with each other, but here, I could look into your eyes, and hold your hand forever.  So - take yours' in mine right now and hold it, because we have:.........


Australia, Austria, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iran, Ireland, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lebanon, Mauritius, Moldova, Netherlands, Pakistan, Portugal, Poland, Phillippines, Russia, Spain, Singapore, Slovenia, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, South Korea, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates and Venesuela.  (and Welcome to you in New Zealand today!X)

All of you have 'Blown My Frock Up' by reading what I've written this year, and for that I sincerely Thank You.X

Keep Safe, Stay Warm, Hug The Ones You Love, and I'll See You Next Time.X

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Welcome to Wellie's Workshop

 Oh no - my mistake, it's The Kitchen Table!.......  But with our friends Gordon and Christine coming to stay at The Funny Farm this weekend, I had to 'Get A Wriggle On' and start making his birthday cake.  Gordon is a very skilled Carpenter Children, so Wellie knew that only the right tools for the right job would do if her next novelty cake was to be a success. 

 I started nervously by fashioning a few screws and nails, gaining confidence with two rawplugs and a tapemeasure - stopping little and often for Dutch Courage - or was it Pinot Grigio?........ a spirit level here, a screwdriver there, a chisel and some woodglue, until finally, with my eyes shut, hands tied behind my back, the saw and drill magically appeared like I knew what I was doing.  Amazing!
 I think the smile on Gordie's face says it all.  And if you're thinking that you've seen his face before, you wouldn't be wrong.  Take a closer look...
Yup! Gordon IS that talented Carpenter you saw on BBC1's special televised Royal British Legion Countryfile just a few weeks ago.  He was putting the finishing touches to the Mission Impossible gigantic Poppy I told you about in a previous Blog. Trousers and Gordie built and painted it especially for the programme to proudly join the chalky badges on that steep Fovant hillside.


For now, Stay Safe, Keep Warm, and I'll see you next time.X

Thursday, 1 December 2011

First Wellie Letter to Santa Claus

Dear Santa,

Put the Paintbrush down, step away from the Grip Fill, Breathe, and R.E.L.A.X.......

(To be perfectly honest, Wellie absolutely adored the Janet Reger Bra & Matching Wotsits last Christmas, Santa, and wondered whether the same Elf was available to shop for you again this year Sweetheart?)

Honestly, if you're as passionate as I am about growing fruit and vegetables, herbs and flowers, you'll already have an unsightly Compost Heap kind of Hubble-Bubble-Toil'n'Troubling in the darkest, furthest corner of your garden, which is brilliant, because that is most definitely 'The Engine Room' of your entire plot.... But during the winter months, exactly who, in their right minds, wants to put their Wellies and Waterproofs on to take a couple of Kitchen Peelings out there, when you could have an indoor equivalent, with care, procuring you the most valuable of nutrient-richness to hand for seed-sowing in the Spring months?

My friend Emma, who is incredibly Green, has treated herself to one already.
Wellie being Wellie, has read The Destruction Manual, will be licking her finger, sticking it in the air, seeing which way the wind is blowing, and will attempt to make her own 'Wellie Workshop Wormery' in the New Year with bits of 4x2/2x4 (Sheila Joke, obviously!).

So, if the Granny'n'Gramps Brussel Sprout Farting Competitions leave you feeling less than entertained over the festive period, Wellie's Funny Farm Blog will surely be one to watch during Christmas for sheer entertainment factor, whether you live on Planet Earth, or not..

Talking of which, when I proffered my WORLDWIDE HUG from The Funny Farm Blog just ever so recently, I didn't purposely set out for the entire world to start reading my blog, only to hug and applaude those of you who already do. So a very warm welcome to Hong Kong and Japan today.

You're all either dead rich and hopping all over the world on holiday, or texting your mates to come join in the fun, because the entire world are starting to sit on my proverbial doorstep.

Either way, I love you being here.

Keep Safe, Keep Warm, And I'll See You Next Time.
Wellie.
X

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Wellie Boots Woman Flu

Having momentarily tunneled my way out of the Funny Farm Kitchen,  I found Trousers in the sitting room the other evening laughing his head off at a TV commercial for Boots (the chemist, not the designer rubber ones you stick on your feet for the garden?).  It's an old advert, and other chemists are available.....but this ad is suitably aired during the 'Man Flu Season', and very succinctly acts out what women already know, and men have little knowledge of. 

So... with Trousers and Pip off out Metal Detecting at The Crack of Sparrow F@rt this morning, BC Gardening Cat Extraordinaire took it upon herself to come and 'make puddings' on Wellie, waking me to procure her breakfast, and my first medicine of the day.  She had Salmon flavoured pussy cat pouch, and Wellie had a Lemsip with a tablespoon of honey and a slug of homemade Elderberry & Rosehip Syrup to take the nasty taste away, taking the brew back up the spiral stone steps to Bedforshire.

What Joy!  Hug in A Mug, Cuddly Cat with a full tummy, BBC Radio 2, and a double bed all to myself, to drift in and out of The Land Of Nod for as long as I liked.

Unfortunately, once I'd drifted in and out of consciousness for three hours, the boredom factor kicked in, and I decided that it was time to put more of a sparkle into my day.  Ten minutes later, there was a Banana, Frozen Garden Raspberry , OJ and Elder/Rosehip Smoothie on the go, and then it was time to make some Comfort Food, because Trousers will be cold and hungry by the time he returns from digging up Romans.
He returned without any freshly dug-up Romans, but there's always another day, eh?!

I know you won't believe me, but I chose a Denis Cotter recipe?!  namely, Celeriac, Leek & Potato Gratin, with capers and thyme.
With some of the Autumn Leeks in my kitchen garden starting to run to seed, I harvest them, remove the inner 'unuseable', chop and gently saute in butter, then freeze in Muffin moulds to use at my pleasure later.  So, rather than catch my death of cold harvesting fresh leeks in the garden today, I defrosted some of those to use in the gratin.  With those Leeks, Celeriac, Orla Potatoes, and home-preserved 'pretend' Nasturtium capers, and Thyme just outside the door, I'm feeling much more human now, Thank You For Asking?!


Incidentally, whilst I've got your attention, AND the fact that peoples from Greece, Moldova, Slovenia and Brazil are now also reading The Funny Farm Blog (so we're hugging 31 countries Worldwide now, which is just brilliant.X)  It's time to put some serious thought into writing to Santa Claus with your Christmas List.

For now, Keep Safe, Keep Warm, and I'll see you next time.X

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Culinary Mountain versus Garden Molehill

 Trousers says that these are the best Celeriac I've ever grown.
He isn't wrong, but let me burst my own bubble for you, just to tell you that these were the best three out of six or so, pulled from my Kitchen Garden this afternoon - the others resembling a well-known nursery rhyme.  Here, it's about an Old Slug in a Shoe, not an Old Woman!

I also harvested the remainder of my Summer and Red Cabbages, wanting to create some noo and exciting vegetarian dishes, selfishly for myself, and too, for preserving for the leaner months of the year, the latter of which is extremely important to me.

To be perfectly honest, there's a desperate need in my life for a chef to create recipes within their books, particularly vegetarian books, for produce that's in season 'all at the same time', that I can find inspiration from, not only to cook now with, but to PRESERVE that medley of a glut by whatever means, whether it be 'bottling/canning', freezing, preserving in oil/vinegar, or downright sitting on it until it gives up the will to live, because 'use it or lose it/waste not want not' doesn't even begin to touch on my tastebuds when I'm wanting to make a culinary mountain out of a garden molehill my friends.....


 The Savoys, Red & Green Brussels, Purple Sproutings, Leeks & Swedes can stand in line in the garden until I have use of them 'Center Stage', or otherwise, because they're hardy to withstand the ravages of Mother Nature.  And that's largely why I'm Denis Cotter's biggest fan, because he pulls the vegetarian equivalent of Rabbits out of his hat every single season for me on a personal kitchen level, with top banana flavour ideas that blow my frock up..., and you can adapt the ingredients.
But I'm sure I'm not unusual these days, being a great believer in growing 'seasonally', wanting to 'make hay when the sun shines', and wanting to preserve every essence of what I've lovingly grown from seed.

And I thought, before the frosts arrive, that I'd furtle around for any evidence of my newly-grown Carribbean Sweet Potatoes....
... No.... Honestly.....The fact that you are rolling around on the floor laughing with tears streaming down your face next to me, means that we share exactly the same planet.....X.
This is my very first attempt at growing Sweet Potatoes, and this is my harvest from two out of four Jamie Oliver 'slips' bought from Homebase, planted into the ground with more cow manure than you could shake a stick at.  Having paid a lot of money for them, I would've been far better to buy the actual potatoes, grown by someone more capable than me, direct from a beautiful carribbean shop in Bristol, pay the fuel 'there and back' to collect them, AND the £5.something extortionate Bridge Toll to get myself back into Wales on the way home as well, and still have change for a bottle of Pinot Grigio.  No?!

But that's gardening for you.  You win some, and inevitably, you lose some.  Personally, I wouldn't have it any other way, because all the while, I'm learning.

A big Thank You to all of you around the world in now 27 whole countries here with me, because since I last looked, we've also got hugs from Australia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates.  And I sincerely Welcome Each and Every One of You with open arms.

Keep Safe, Keep Warm, and I'll see you next time.
Wellie.
X

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Laugh? I Nearly Bought A Round!

Tommy Cooper:  "Bottle Glass, Glass Bottle..."  Hhhhhh.....

And to be perfectly honest with you, if I were Trousers, I wouldn't be proposing an Arm Wrestling Match this evening.?!

Long gone are the days when someone gave you a bottle of homemade wine, and you dreaded the day when you had to open it in front of them and pretend to enjoy it......

I never EVER imagined in my wildest dreams that one day I would ever attempt to make wine.  I thought it would be way too difficult, and far too complicated for my Pooh Bear Brain, (I sometimes do myself down?) and here I am, courage in my own hands, perfectly achieving that, understanding how it works, and that's exactly why I'm here telling you about it.  If you're a little shy of trying it yourself, please, stick with me, and I promise you that I'll improve your confidence so that you feel as able to do this as I do, because these kits now SO emulate the real deal, and if you love wine, you'll profit to your hearts' content..
No disrespect to Miss Piggy or Kermie, but you'd have to be a complete MUPPET these days not to succeed.

Today, in Wellie's Kitchen, I'm bottling my very first attempt at Pinot Grigio, from a dead easy wine kit.  Getting myself used to the process, procedure and equipment. And to be perfectly honest, I was setting myself up to 'cock it up' on a grand scale - just in cases....?

Allegedly, you'd want to be fermenting at 'above ambient room temperature'.  I'm not sure what yours' would be, but our room temperature didn't even top 18c when I started, with no central heating, so I left it to ferment twice as long as was specified, testing the gravity until it fell below 1,000 and eventually tasted it with a spoon and it was gorgeously dry!


Once I'd got the confidence of the Pinot Grigio (Cantina 5-day 21 litre - http://www.hambletonbard.com/), and the 135 freebie bottles & screwtops from the lovely Ragmans Lane Farm peeps washed and sterilised within an inch of their lives, if you look beyond Wellie in the first photo, you'll spy 23 litres of Yarrawanga Creek Australian Blend Cabernet Sauvignon (http://www.vinland.se/) fermenting like a good'un with the heat from the Rayburn now at 23c.
 



I'm wanting to draw your attention to the wine rack that Trousers rather reluctantly put together for me this afternoon Children, because I bought it in 'kit form' for him today, and all he had to do was put it together with the help of the Destruction Manual.  Well..... I'm here to tell you that the array of swear-words, the foul language and cussing, was quite alarming.  Such that I wished I'd covered the cat's ears, and put it together myself.

Trousers will hate me for drawing your attention to this, but I'd just like to show you one of my Wellie Workshops:  Can YOU spot Wellie's homemade Herb & Spice Rack in a previous blog Kids?
Put together with a well thought out and measured approach: measure the height and width of the jars PLUS room to grab the jar off the shelf with your pinkies.  Make the shelves level and the whole thing attractive, in a cool, dark corner of the kitchen, but prom enough to be enjoyed visually to want to use.
Marks out of ten Gordon?!

With Trousers and I having 'pushed each other to the limit' today, and each of us having thrown each others' teddies out of a number of prams Children, I chose to do something special for him this evening, because I adore him, and I've been threatening to do this for years just because I love him:  and that's to make him some homemade Ginger Beer.
He absolutely ADORES Ginger Beer.

If I can get it to explode in the same room as him in the next week Children, I shall be a very proud woman..?  But don't quote me on that, right?

Keep Safe, Keep Warm, and I'll see you next time.X.

Monday, 14 November 2011

WORLDWIDE HUG

To be perfectly honest, I've been a little shocked to find that my Funny Farm Blog is now not only in the UK, but also widely viewed in the US, Canada, Ireland, Spain, France, Russia, Germany, Sri Lanka, Botswana, Mauritius, India, Latvia, The Netherlands, Ukraine, South Korea, and beyond....and I just wanted now to stand in front of you, with a nice frock on, a glass of wine, and just to thank you all so very much for being here and reading what I write every week. 
Feels like a bit of an Award Ceremony, but it's not.
Are all of you completely Nuts?!

A whole packet of Wallflower seeds sown, seedlings up to her proverbial armpits, and Wellie has been that generous to her friends, giving away wallflowers to her hearts content, but has not planted a single seedling in her own garden borders yet, when that was actually the whole sodding point of The Exercise.....  (note to self:  be way more selfish in future luv)

On a lighter note, I stuck the Hydrometer into the vat of Pinot Grigio that I've got brewing in the kitchen today, and it still isn't reading less than 1,000 sp.gr, (she said through gritted teeth) but my dedication to fermenting and brewing goes far deeper than superfluous, so don't worry your cotton sox my friends.!

I told you about Ragmans Lane Farm, and how brilliant they are, and they very kindly gave me, this week, as many redundant bottles as I could take away, and today, all day, I washed and sterilised 135 of them, with spanking brand new screw-tops.

So! the Hydrometer reading better be 998 tomorrow, or you'll read about a mad woman having jumped off the Old Severn Bridge this week with a fermenting bin under her arm, having finally lost the will to live.

Keep Warm.
Keep Safe.
And See You Here Very Soon.
X
















 

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Cool !

As if not having the noo oil tank taken off the grass in The Woodland Garden and connected to the house yet, to replace the old rusty tank, (which is now fast running out of the emergency oil feeding the only heat-source in the farmhouse) wasn't ENOUGH to alert me to the fact that we're creeping closer to colder weather..... my cat goes and 'rubs it in' that we have insufficient oil for central heating too, by cozying on down in Wellie's JumpyDrawer.  I don't encourage this kind of behaviour from her, and it'll teach me not to be so lazy and close the drawer afterwards when I'm next in need of a Woolly Pully.

Mind you, I've been rather inventive on the Woolly Pully front myself last weekend as a matter of fact...

Without the luxury of an airing cupboard, and the progressive decline in heat radiating from the Rayburn in the high-ceiling'd kitchen, I was rather concerned that my Pinot Grigio Wine Making Kit would be struggling to ferment at less than ambient room temperature.

So took a leaf out of my cat's book and employed a Woolly Pully or two for added insulation.
Clever Wellie!

To be perfectly honest, the sound of the fermenting bubbling from the airlock reminds me of Trousers in the bath Children?
A considerable time ago, I had intended to try my hand at a Chardonnay Wine Kit from Wilkinsons, but it was sent to the Cheppie store from Newport or Cardiff, and as I pulled off the delivery label, it ripped off the instructions as well, and I've never done nought with it since.

With the farm aminals troughing on the orchard windfalls still, I did look up about making cider today, and have convinced myself that I ought to give that a bit of a punt too, whilst there are still fruits to be had.  Sweet apples will make a sweet cider (Doh!) and Bramleys will make a dry one. 

The 'Invincible Pears' that I grew this year from the tree I bought last year, I've bottled in a Cider Syrup, so to make my own cider to use next time around makes perfect sense. 

So this noo playtime practice is a rather belated string to my bow, to keep one amused whilst one reads the book on how to make one's own cheese, yoggy, butter and stuff.

And before I go, I've got yet another welcomed opportunity to extend my novelty cake repertoire in the coming weeks, and I look forward to sharing it with you.

For now, keep it here, keep watching, and I'll see you next time.X


Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Who's Queen?

 "Who's Queen?" is a question that I ask here at home on a regular basis, just to keep Trousers and my adorable gardening cat focussed, and anyway, it makes Trousers laugh.
With both of us needing to Go To SpecSavers, (me'n'him, not the kitty-cat kids?), his rather blurred photo of my latest novelty cake, in the making, is marginally better than the blurred one that I took of it myself, so we thought 'hang it', and decided to show you anyways.

It isn't important as to why I decided to make my friend Medina a birthday cake, only that I knew the finished cake would mean something very special to her, given that we're about to organise The Itton Village Show for 2012 together, her being crowned 'Marmalade Queen' in this years' Show, and her lending me a hugely funny book about a Village Show where a Spinach Quiche was entered that killed someone - but that's not important right now....

So - A Marmalade Cake, made to look like a pot of marmalade, with a spoon of marmalade, and Birthday Wishes.




Happy Birthday Medina.X

Who's Queen?!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Take Teacher a Apple Today

I awoke at 2am this morning, because I was anxious about 'going back to school', in the form of Adult Education, on a Food Hygiene Level 2 Course that I'd personally chosen to explore for my own satisfaction.
I'm a sucker for learning new stuff that 'Blows My Frock Up' and I'm a sucker for BBC Radio 2 at ALL hours of morning, noon and night, and thankfully, hitting that dial Kids, soon began to bang out The Zs again, snoring into my pillow, and dribbling all over The Cat by 4am.
Anyone unsure of my inflection here, should realise that I'm not suggesting BBC Radio 2 'Sends You To Sleep', only that it beautifully lights both ends of my musical candle.

At 7am, with a perfectly-timed rude-awakening from Mr. Evans, my hissy-fit Teas-Made made A Mug of Tea Just For Me...  If you're older than me, and haven't got a Teas-Made, you're clearly Completely And Utterly Bonkers.... If you're younger than me: take my advice and get one.
 You may think of me as an Abfab 'Eddie' or 'Patsy' but if you yourself had to get out of a nice warm bed approximately three-floors up from Your Kettle, with no evidence of oil central heating yet this Autumn, spiral stone staircases on an outside wall with no carpets and can't find your slippers because you're having 'A Senior Moment', you'd know exactly where I'm coming from....

I'd asked Trousers to set the 'Nat Sav' up for me in my MoneyPenny Truck (4x4xBond) even though I knew roughly where I was going, because I didn't want to be late.  So with ample time on my hands before I left, I was able to put together a beautiful and healthy picnic lunch for myself, which made me feel incredibly special, and gave me the added confidence that I felt I needed today.
I know it isn't remotely similar, but it's a bit like having matching Bra and Knickers on, with the only person knowing that being You...?

After two minutes in her company, I got to wondering why not all of us have been blessed with the same ease of personality and confidence as The Fantastic Tutor we were blessed with today, or indeed, that brilliant ability to connect so well with your audience, but felt safe in the knowledge that I would be taught well, and now fed well.

Throughout the day, I found myself surprised on a number of levels:
Surprised at what I actually knew.
Surprised at what I didn't know.
Surprised at what I thought I knew, but was wrong about.

Us 'Students' were a complete mix of genders, generations, race and creed, and we all found an affinity there today, and that itself was so beautifully refreshing.

Come 'Crunch Time'....With 40 minutes on the clock, we had 30 'multiple choice' questions to answer at the end of our tuition.
I'm as intelligent as the next person, but when you're faced with A, B, C or D at the end of six hours or so, you begin to 'not undersand the question' on the piece of paper in front of you.
A bit like University Challenge of a Monday.

I took a methodic approach to it though, answering the questions I knew the answers to immediately, and going back over the questions I was unsure answers to at the end when I was 'calmer' and better able to identify the correct answer.

Be safe in the knowledge that I restricted my t-shirt over the head, running round the place like a bloke having scored a goal on a football pitch till I got back to the safety of my own Living Room.
And thankfully, with Trousers not having arrived home yet, and the cat still asleep in her greenhouse, I was able to do that with as little, or as much decorum and dignity as I felt suited the occasion.

However.... Only I will know....

Shall I let you know if I 'passed'?
Bless You For Watching.
X.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

The Biggest Poppy You've Never Seen?

It'll be a bit like 'Three-Two-One, You're Back In The Room' actually, because Trousers is, right-nowly, on a British Legion , MISSION IMPOSSIBLE....building A Giant Poppy, on a hillside somewhere in The British Countryside...... with The Army, A Televisual Crew, and a teeny-weeny bit of Inclement Weather.

But what makes this more elusive, is that once they've built it, painted it, and televised it....
The Army come in and dismantle it, so there's no trace of it to be seen again.
Forgive me, but in my very Pooh Bear Brain, that's hugely poignant, and I just love that I can now ponder on that in a very special moment or three.
My heart is with all of you in this Nippy Weather Boys?

On the other hand, Wellie is nicely tucked up at home with A Tonne Of Things To Do.... and her beautiful, beautiful Gardening Cat, harvesting everything that moves this evening in her Pretty Productive Garden, on account of our first frost of the year supposed to be happening this very night. That's ME harvesting.... not The Cat?

In His Lordships' absence yesterday, I took custody of a few litres of Oil in our Rusty Old Oil Tank, until the Noo Plastic One comes into service, in order to get the trusty ol' Rayburn Cooker fired up....
Personally, I couldn't even begin to write you a short story on just how much I've missed this Old Girl whilst we've been parted since The Spring, because Wellie and her Rayburn, joined at the hip, are only parted when it's Bedtime.  We have a love affair that isn't possible to translate into words....?

Forgive me, I've still not pulled my finger out and rectified the problems with my camera...
But I've made beautiful Pear & Apple Chutney, and am about to embark on a shed-load of Basil Oil, Port-Poached Pears, and every imaginable Soup for the freezer.

The reason I am so excited, is that I have a cauldron of Tomato & Celery Chutney on the floor of the top oven of the Rayburn, that's been there for hours and hours, and might be ready in an hour or two

Sunday, 16 October 2011

A Humane Mouse Trap & An Old Fashioned Cheese Press

It just goes to show, how when you spend far too much time on your Ownesome, that your brain tells you that you should 'Get Out More Luv?'.  And this particular weekend, having bought a humane mousetrap to capture my Gardening Cat's Play Thing that's elusively driving me NUTS in The Conservatory, it took a grown man, with Man Flu, to work out how to work the sodding thing! Even though I've used one before....

I was distracted with a Cauldron of Autumn Orchard Chutney bubbling away on the stove, and thinking about the possibility of frost next weekend to bring anything brilliant into the kitchen now finally this week, or lose it.  And I'm not going to miss a chance to harvest those fresh herbs every morning now for the next five days, I absolutely PROMISE you.....
 The remaining Nasturtium Flower Seeds  for 'pretend capers' are looking promising to harvest, and with no damage from Caterpillies on the Nasturtium Leaves at all, I'm prolly going to be able to gather all of those to my hearts content, along with the new young Nettle-Tops for a bit of a Soup or Pesto kind of thing, because I love these days 'Food For Free', when it's so beautifully good for you too.
But me just saying something like that frightens the Pants off me that I'm turning into my own mother nine days from my next birthday.

A Bloke with Man Flu in bed, surrounded by 'stepped out of clothes' all over the carpet, and computer screens and keyboards lovingly hugged up to the bedside so that he needlessly doesn't have to move a muscle if he doesn't want to, is never a pretty sight Girls?  So I took him a mug of coffee this morning...
A while later, I blitzed up a Banana, a couple of tablespoons of homemade Rosehip Syrup, Seedless Raspberry puree from the freezer, and some OJ.  For which he reluctantly thanked me, but said he didn't like the coffee, so could he have tea instead?  He never DRINKS tea?!

Our next door neighbour came out in sympathy, because he got a cold, having run out of Whisky last week, and had to resort to drinking Lemonade..... And when I saw him to sympathise and empathise, I said he should've knocked on the door and tapped me for some Homemade Sloe Whisky?!
He was 'Gutted' that he hadn't known earlier, and wanted to buy some 'immediately'.

Last week, I managed to buy an old-fashioned Cheese Press from a lovely shop in Cheppie, and I'd ordered an American book on how to make cheese, and other dairies, so picked that up at the same time, and then this Saturday, with the same next door neighbour, over a cup of coffee and a slice of Elaine's Gorgeous Coffee Cake, with Christine, Medina and Ian, talked of how Cheese was made by their relatives.  The Long And The Short of Which, as I was hugely aware of before we all started the conversation, was that one cannot BUY unpasteurised milk.....
And given that I only want to make cheese with my new cheese press for Trousers and myself...
Can YOU spell 'Symbiotic Relationship' Children?!

I know that I'm Just Jesting, but you know me well enough now to know that I'm incredibly serious in my jesting also..
. I'm incredibly serious about learning the processes that bring any of it together, and just learning new things that I want to know 'Blows My Frock Up'.
When I show signs of not wanting to learn about growing stuff and what to do with it next, you have my full permission to shoot me.

In the meantime, take care of yourselves, and you'll hear from me next week.

Friday, 14 October 2011

GOOD LUCK BOYS

I've never been prouder in my life to live, and be a part of such a fabulously welcoming community, and you Boys have just 'Iced My Cake'.
Go Get It You Welsh!
Good Luck Boys.
X

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Trust Me, I'm A Gardener

Believe me.......My friend Emma has one hell of a beautiful greenhouse 'to play in' here, and next year, if she'll let me, even though I have three of my own that I enjoy 'playing in', I'm confident that I can grow some truly amazing things for her kitchen.  My adorable friend Gloria only introduced me to Emma and her lovely husband just this year, but I'm forever grateful to the both of you for making my life a lot more focussed and special.

We all aspire to wanting to keep a photographic record, as the Seasons evolve, but often, with very many other pressing things happening at once in our lives, it's truly extraordinary how time runs away with you.  Ultimately then, you forget how weedy it was back in The Spring, you forget the changes that have taken place, but you remember the beautiful fruit and vegetables that you've harvested over the months, and the stories that you could tell in between - even to exhaustion with The Sodding Runner Beans or Raspberries that Mother Nature has bombarded you with that need picking on a daily basis!

And I know Emma won't mind me applauding their dedication in getting to grips with what to do with the produce of such an enormous Orchard, because there's only so much Jam a person can make without losing the will to live? isn't that true you two?! 
At which point in my blog I am going to completely 'Big Up' a place called Ragmans Lane Farm, just off the Wye Valley Road near here, which is where Emma's Husband and I took about eight sacks of Apples that we picked last week for them to Juice'n'Bottle for them, and tomorrow, hopefully, Emma and I will be picking a shed-load of Pears and Apples, for Ragmans to juice into 'Papple' Juice for them. Why buy Organic Bottled Fresh Juice at a hugely inflated price for a whole year when you don't have to?  Cool!

On a slightly different 'tack', hard work that you put into reclaiming redundant land this year, for next, allures and charms you, dangling a proverbial Carrot ahead of next years' excitement, with crops that you've dreamed of growing in abundance:  Borlotti Beans, Globe and Jerusalem Artichokes, Sweet Potatoes, an abundance of Salad Leaves, anything is perfectly possible to grow in our climate, and those that are either expensive in the shops, or lose their flavour between Harvest and Plate, are particularly 'valuable'.   Emma is as adventurous as I am, both in 'the growing department', and latterly, where Kitchen Alchemy amalgamate the two.  And when those two things fuse together, well, I just can't help myself - Kid in A Sweetshop?!

 It's one thing to sow seed, and in a straight line is not only admirable, but eminently preferable (!), but what many peoples forget, is 'the aftercare', and it's not then wise to let all the weeds dominate the inbetweenie bits between the rows of stuff you've lovingling sown, because you're potentially 'shooting yourself in the foot' and it's then a complete and utter waste of effort up till now to let it continue as such.

 Don't get me wrong.... I'm more of your 'Sinner' than your 'Saint' Kids?! - but my personal motto is to Mulch, Mulch, and Mulch.  When the soil is free of weeds, every time you mow the grass, put the clippings onto the bare earth.  This deprives the newly unearthed weed seedlings of light, and lessens the chance of any of them germinating - then you don't have to waste precious time spent doing weeding rather than other more important gardening duties, and as the grass clippings rot down into the earth, they encourage earthworm activity, and what's called the 'Humus' content of the soil increases, which ultimately feeds your soil for free.



And when you've added a layer of rotted manure , it's far better to cover the ground than leave it open to the elements over the winter, because the earthworms tend to be way more active with a covering, than not.

Plenty more to say, but insufficient time, and time for bed.

Take care of yourselves.

X


Wednesday, 5 October 2011

I See Fields Of Green.....Red Roses Too.....

Not that we were paying too much attention to the beautiful view whilst concentrating on harvesting the Sloes, early of a Sunday evening, but it's not to say that we were ignoring it either.  And that's exactly why we took A Bottle of Red, two glasses, and a travelling rug with us on our foraging frenzy...kind of: 'Pick One, sit down and Sip One'?!, which sounds like it's got the potential of a rather amusing Party Game to me...

The last time we came up here, the young Heffers were more than inquisitive of us, and so, once we'd harvested our Wild Garlic leaves, identified the potential Autumnal harvest site, we left the aminals well alone.  Probably a wise move, since I recall those very same beasts having 'interfered' with the water-tanks up here this Summer at least three times, subsequently cutting off the natural spring water supply to The Funny Farm in the process....  Still - who can complain at no Water Rates, and having to drink natural Spring Water for free all year round, apart from thrice, eh?

I've rather disappointed myself on my ability to propagate Basil lately for an abundant supply, and so took to the cheat's method of buying 3 pots of from Lidl (99p each), sticking them in a marginally bigger pot, and taking very good care of them for a while.    Once they're growing profusely, I keep harvesting 'from the top', and use as needed throughout the Summer.  I've got two of what you can see in the photo below, so huge amounts to play with for Basil Oil, Pesto, and just plain Freezing, to add to Risottos, Tarts and spurious specials that magically get invented from the depths of My Little Grey Cells.

I know?  It's a kitchen table of tomatoes.... and it's largely because the tomatoes covering the entire surface of the dining table in The Hall are beginning to ripen beautifully, and Wellie needs to pull her finger out and do something with them.


So...The tomatoes on wire racks are about to go into the oven to be 'dried' on the lowest oven setting (can't wait for The Rayburn to be back on again when we finally get the noo oil tank in situ that's sitting in the front garden still, because I wouldn't need to waste Electricity preserving this way, I'd bung 'em in the bottom of the Rayburn overnight with the door ajar)

Then the larger tomatoes in the roasting trays have been scattered with sliced garlic, shallots, olive oil, fresh Oregano in one, and freshly torn Basil in the other, waiting to be roasted for Passatta.

The cherry tomatoes on the left, remind me of a well-known Blackcurrant Cordial tv ad, as these scrummy little sweeties are proverbially jumping up and down with joy, knowing that any minute now, they'll be roasted and ultimately dive headlong into homemade vegetable bouillon, with garlic, chillies and a culinary artist's palette of spices, painting yet another Denis Cotter materpiece, that's known as Tomato rassam (from his Paradiso Seasons ISBN 0-9535353-4-7), and I must just 'big up' Chepstow Bookshop at the bottom of the cobbledy bit in the High Street, because otherwise I'd never have found this brilliant book.  They even get Authors in for special evenings along the way? 
A Fabulous Bookshop Indeed, and well worth a visit if you're in the locale.

We're blessed with two Open Air Markets locally.... The Cheppie Racecourse one of a Sunday, which is brilliant for meat and cheese, and The Caldicot one of a Tuesday.  And it's the Tuesday one I've been impressed with just now, because I managed to pick up 5 kg of pickling onions for £2.50, a huge bag of green chillies for a quid, a bag of Scotch Bonnet chillies for a quid, and 6 Bulbs of Garlic for a quid.

It defeated the object of me driving to Caldicot in the first instance, because I was in search of some Florence Fennel bulbs, to put a Sarah Raven Pasta Sauce 'to die for' into the freezer whilst I've still got loads of fresh Sage, but there's always the likes of Over Farm Market up near Gloucester to tap into, so I'm not overly worried.  And double-bubble, I could call into The Smokery at Minsterworth on my way back home for a few Tilapia or something?

Funnily enough, I brought the subject up with Trousers only the other day about building our own Smoke Box.  But I must just 'hold my horses', because I've still got a veritable mountain of things to 'put to bed' yet before the really bad weather descends.

Thank you for listening again, and I hope you're having as much fun as me squirreling away your harvests.
X








Monday, 3 October 2011

Sorry I'm Late Kids....

Sorry I'm late Kids... Ordinarily, I like to update The Funny Farm blog weekly of a Sunday evening, but I've pressed a few buttons, whistles and knobs on my Grown-Up Camera that I shouldn't have, and, not knowing exactly how I've messed the settings up yet, my photographs look like I've smeared Vasalene on the lense and then dipped them in Pinot Grigio.

Actually, if I'd thought about it sooner, I could have shot Trousers yesterday asleep in the sunshine on my SunLounger in his Speedo's, but thankfully, Children, I don't have a gun license .....?!

Trousers got home earlier than normal the other evening and yelled down the stairs: "Fox in The Orchard".  Hard of Hearing at very nearly 51 years of age, I was more than disappointed to learn that he did mean that Freddie The Fox was, once again, feeding from the windfalls on the Orchard Floor.

To be that close to the house that early in the evening, he/she must be one hell of a hungry fox, and that's been true of the last 5-7 days so far.

With only Sheep for company, Trousers and I took a short journey yester-eve up to the furthest field on The Funny Farm, as earlier in the year, whilst picking Wild Garlic, we identified Sloe Trees that don't come within a whisper of being included in the annual Hedge Cutting about this time of year, so we bagged ourselves an 800g harvest for the freezer, a tender kiss, and a leisurely glass of red wine each, enjoying the view on a beautiful and warm October evening, with both Severn Bridges in our sights on the horizon.  That, my friends, is called Quality Time, and no money could ever buy that.

Alternatively, I'd pay good money, if I had any, to learn more about the things that I feel I want to know now, because the older I get, the more insatiable I appear to be these days.  I'm sure that, as a child, I must have infuriated my preoccupied parents to distraction, but I find, not having children of my own, that I'm annoying myself with questions of Why? Why? Why?!
I'm sure that I would have made an Extraordinary Mother, but my Gardening Cat has been blessed with 100% of my affections instead, and she's rewarded me way beyond my expectations with her half-eaten mice, headless birds, dead 10" rats, the odd baby squirrel on the rug in front of the woodburning stove..... and, when I watch her cuddling up to Trousers on the sofa every evening, her love for him is more gorgeous than words could ever string together in a sentence, as is my own.

With the weather closing in a little here on The Welsh Borders, I've harvested the remainder of the Courgettes, Globe Artichokes, Beetroots, Runner Beans, Raspberries and Fresh Herbs for today..... 
Let's face it, if I don't bring those beauties in right now, I'd be Mad.
And I've got loads of recipes in mind to put these little beauties down snug away now for later in my freezer tomorrow, but just every now and again, in your wildest dreams, wouldn't it be lovely to be able to have your hand held, and be able to ask A Chef A Question when you most wanted to?

Frankly, I'm positive that most of you don't go to sleep wondering how many fresh or dried Lemon Verbena Leaves you could infuse in Olive Oil, and for how long, to make something scrumptious.....but I've got 'a gut feeling' that Lemon Verbena would make THE most amazingly flavoured oil.
Trousers and I once bought a very delicious Carluccio Lemon Oil in Windsor, and, adoring the taste of Lemon, I'd love to create my own 'take' on this for The Pantry.

Ever the optimist, I'm going to retire to bed now, knowing that my favourite chefs, short of turning up on my doorstep to tell me to Get A Life, will share my thoughts, and send me some inspiration.

Until I borrow Himself's Camera in the next few days,
Love You and Leave You,
Wellie.
X

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Is There A Fruit Bat Listening?

 The Crab Apples have their own agenda now....  Skins splitting, exposed flesh going brown and mealy, fruits falling prematurely, and because the tree is leaning so far to the right, with immediate danger of collapsing, my own guess is that the tree has made an Executive Decision to survive, and shedding fruit like a Mad Thing, rather than break its' own back - and I don't blame it.

Ever the helpful little soul that I am, I've been harvesting as many as I possibly can in my spare time..... juicing them in my Magimix (other food processors are available kids), and chilling the juice until needed. This potentially cuts down on the simmering of the acidic little beauties and lessens the making of an almighty mess round the kitchen with pulp and jelly-bags dripping all over The Funny Farm, because that tedious process bores The Pants off me with a capital B, and if there was an incling of further mess in the kitchen, or anywhere in The Funny Farm Children, Trousers wouldn't hesitate to leave home.

So!  I've set up a multitude of dripping jelly bags ALL round the house?

I've yet to decide whether to freeze today's Raspberries, to later thaw for maximum juice, or to bottle them fresh now.  Freeze is my Final Decision.....



 Ever grateful of eloquently being preached to (and at) in English, French and Latin, growing up in Boarding Convent Schools less than ten miles from home, is prolly where I get this kind of Joseph & His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat Seven Years of 'Feast and Famine', and thinking an amazing harvest one year, may indicate a famine for the next seven.
But I was also A Girl Guide, and I seem to remember that I earned A Robin Badge, but can't for the life of me remember exactly why and what for now?  Was it that I managed to sew the badge onto my own uniform without help?
I deserve A Medal for the decades of Curtains and Roman Blinds that I've made for my own homes since, and gladly not a Girl Guide any longer, so no need to turn up to one of Catherine Tate's Twirling Meetings, eh?

Thankfully, having followed in the footsteps of my friend Gloria, and bought a Waterbathing Wotsit to extend the shelf-life of everything that I preserve from a couple of months to The Full Twelve, if Mother Nature has a bit of a dodgy year next year, I'll have covered my @rse.

Now this next photo shows the 'Invincible' Pear Tree that I planted last year, so-called, because it allegedly sends out Double Bubble Blossom, so that you never ever miss a crop of pears if a late frost happens to bite you on the bottom at the last moment....
There are so many ruddy Pears now, that I've had to prop them, and the whole tree up, and there wasn't even a hint of a late frost - so I'm getting incredibly scared now for next years' crop.

 Talking of fruiting boughs breaking and a plethora of fruit, the Autumn Bliss Raspberries are beginning to wear me down, with 2-4lb. of fruit on a daily basis, and up to an hour of my time to harvest them, most of which is spent bent-double to detect the ripe berries under the uppermost leaves.
Which led me to wonder whether it would 'distress' the canes at all if I stripped them of their uppermost leaves to reveal the fruits as they ripen, as I've done here to show you, because, other than make them more vulnerable to the birds, it would make it easier for the bees to pollinate the blossoms, and easier for me to identify the ripest fruits and pick them in their prime.

I promise you, if you've not tried it at the tender age of 50, harvesting ripe raspberries for an hour semi-upside down in a thicket when you can't see beyond your nose without a pair of magnifying glasses, you'll know exactly why I'm trying to push this particular boundary!

With another Lumbar Injection looming on Monday's horizon for my Prolotherapy treatment, it remains to be seen whether I'm going to please my Doctor, or have cocked it up again?  And I mean that with huge respect, because he knows that by the very nature of what I do, I am never going to sit still.
If I do have to have another Injection, I'll hold my hands up and rest for the rest of the day, for a change.

Monday afternoon, I'll telephone the offices of Ken Muir, Fruit Guru, and put the Raspberry Question to them for an answer, unless there's A Fruit Bat listening to save me the phonecall?

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Calling The 'Full Stop Fairy'?!

Such Brilliant Ideas......My frozen Elderberries, stripped already of their stalks, were put with Cider Vinegar into a medium oven for four or five hours this morning, whilst I did The Washing Up, because we have a dishwasher that categorically refuses to do what it was invented for, and if it doesn't start to behave very soon, I'm going to dig a very big hole and bury it in the garden Children, because I'm big enough and ugly enough to squeeze a bottle of Fairy Liquid? 

Personally, getting my head stuck into too many preserving books at once for the same produce or recipe is a very very dangerous thing here Down On The Funny Farm at any time of year.

Largely, because I start off with very good intentions; the actual author's recipe -  and then I make the mistake of looking up similar recipes in other books, which ordinarily doesn't cause a problem, but when I've read every recipe in every book for the same kind of event, I go and get ideas all of my own?!
Telling Wellie to 'discard' the shallots once she's cooked them for a while in The Pontack Sauce is, shall we say, 'less than wise'?.....She's grown these babies from seed, nurtured them and grown them to perfection....Why would I want to chuck my Banana Shallots in the bin when they're now so full of flavour? And if I could use them in another dish resembling the same preserve, shouldn't I?  So I said 'sod the washing up' and just got 'tinkering'....!
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm positive that I could include those aromatic homegrowns into an Onion Marmalade, a Red Wine and Onion Soup, and I'm sure a gorgeous Paul Rankin Pork Sausage in a Casserole wouldn't turn its' nose up at it, eh?!

Unfortunately, The Full Stop Fairy hadn't finished with me yet, because falling headlong into my chest freezer once again to reach to the bottom, (and nothing whatsoever to do with the Creme de Cassis or Framboise from last year that I tasted and decanted before noon today!) I retrieve The Fruits Of My Labour, finding carrier-bags-full of Redcurrants, Whitecurrants, small acidic green Goosegogs, Worcesterberries, Chockerberries, Sloes, Rosehops, Mirabelles, Gages, Plums, Physalis, Damsons and a veritable mountain of Raspberries and Blueberries- all of which are coming OUT of the freezer this weekend, into Lidl OJ bottles in the form of fruits preserved in freshly pressed Apple Juice from The Orchard, and 'water-bath preserved' for the next 12 month, for my utmost selfishness and 5-A-Day on top of James Martin Brekkie Pancakes during the Winter Months with homemade Yoghurt, or I'm A Monkey's Uncle.

 But whilst Toppy'n'Tailing the Goosegogs (which is much easier done Kiddy-Winkies whilst they're still frozen? ), I was daydreaming, and musing on Sloes, thinking "How can I get Double-Bubble" from my Hedgerow Freebies?   I concluded that it'd be much better to stick the mountain of them into the Rumtopf, or Kilner Jar, chuck a load of sugar and Gin at them, steep for months, and given that the berries aren't edible much, to then make an intox.intox.alcoholic jelly from the spent berries at the end of the line maybe.
But my point is this:
When does this beautiful Fairy stop sending you gorgous ideas to ponder?
I will stop loving her when she stops sending me brilliant ideas.X

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

The Whacky Welsh Fake Off

'The Whacky Welsh Fake Off' is much less exciting than 'The Great British Bake Off' for all of you, but thankfully, taking place in my own kitchen, is much more rewarding for me, less scarey, and I've only got my Gardening Cat looking over my shoulder, rather than Mary Berry or Paul Hollywood, because I can't Bake to save mine, or anyone else's life.  A Spongecake and I can take each other out at twenty paces, but I like to think that I can cook?  Cooking and Baking are completely Poles apart my friend.

With Trousers and I having minimal time to spend 'togevver', (he works for such long hours?) and I decided today, to dedicate my own quality time, to make him a really nice 'Poy' for his dinner, because he'd probably like that.
.
 I remember from my childhood, in amongst being told that I couldn't 'Have More', because it was 'For Tomorrow', that my mother cooked a Corned Beef & Onion Pie.  And I rather enjoyed it.  So I set out today to try and recreate it.  Personally, if my own Mother knew me now, she might be proud of me, because actually, the 'Poy' turned out to be gorgeous.

Having negotiated my kitchen garden religiously for the last few days in the tipping rain, pin-pointing urgent stuff 'To Do' - one of them was that the beautiful young and tender Brussel Sprouts were starting to be attacked by tiny keel slugs, but otherwise, perfect.  So I made an Executive Decision today, and harvested what was fabulous in front of me, rather than wait.  These tender young sprouts have been blanched and frozen in the utmost prime of their perfection..

I was tempted to put some on to boil to be ready in time for Christmas Day, but thought that was such an old joke that I decided not to mention it today?!
And then, having picked up a Rum Pot in a local charity shop for the princely sum of £6, I'm about to take Trousers by the hand to help me pick buckets of Sloes for homemade Sloe Gin.  To be perfectly honest, if I could find another Rum Pot in the same vein, there'd be nothing stopping me making the same Sloe Whisky again, as the results of which were nothing short of unctious last year, she said, dribbling...




 
These Globe Artichokes were grown from seed this spring, and have been harvested from my own kitchen garden these last few weeks.

It was a very strange morning, as I sat myself down with the first caffeine of the day, observing a fully grown Pigeon just 'sat' in this birdbath, wondering what the hell it was 'up to'?

Not wanting to frighten it, I left it to its' own devices.  Later, beautifully discovering that the adult was almost 'sat' on the juvenile in the birdbath, and they both then flew the short distance to the nearby fence.
For me, this was a magical moment, because for those of you religiously following my Funny Farm blog, earlier in the year, the Sparrow Hawk stole their first baby, so they finally managed an offspring through adversity - and this, my friends, is the replacement baby!

Ahead of my next blog, the branches of my Crab Apple Tree are audibly nodding, and visibly groaning, and just begging me to take a weight off of their shoulders.  So, perhaps that I've allowed myself the beauty of  'Today Off', to relax and enjoy cooking for my man, I can resume bringing in Mother Nature's Bounty again in the next couple of days.

A warm welcome to you katyH, and hope you'll bring your friends along for the giggle.X.

Love You And Leave You All For Now.
Bless All Of You For Being Here.
Wellie.X

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Anyone for a Game of Cluedo?

With Trousers having abandoned me once again in search of a treasure more valuable than Moi (No, I do understand that it's possible when Metal Detecting Boys'n'Girls?), I stood in here on my lonesome this afternoon, with all the doors and windows shut against the blustery blight-ridden breezes, harvesting the last of the tomatoes off their vines, and, out of the corner of Wellie's eye, she spied a little harvest-mouse!  So I shut the interior doors leading from The Conservatory to the rest of The Funny Farm rooms, opened the back door, and, quick as a flash, grabbed my trusty camera.

Just as Trousers would be looking longingly through the window of a closed Cheese Shop Children, Squeak was looking through the window of Freedom, without a 'MouseFlap', eventually sussing out how to overcome the problem, by walking the long way round, and over the threshold, back into The Kitchen Garden for my Gardening Cat to catch on a different day than today.

Said Gardening Cat was fast asleep in her greenhouse, where all my Banana Shallots, Red and White Onions are drying, and very nearly ready to plait into a string or two (the alliums - not my cat - pay attention peeps?!)

Grateful for any harvest that I can turn into something fabulous, this is only a small proportion of the green tomatoes now being ripened in the safety of Indoors.  I've also got Conference Pears, Peppers and Chillies under strict supervision.


 It's no wonder that my brain aches sometimes, constantly being bombarded with brilliant ideas of how to solve a particular problem... and thankfully, in the picture below, I had this little gem of a brainwave for storing our magnificent Potato harvests:
The front door, naturally enough...leads into The Hall, which is: The Dining Room, grandly earning itself the posh title of The Dining Hall, one of the coolest rooms in the house, and a through-breeze is obtainable on a regular basis at the touch of a doorhandle to keep the tubers aired, but in the dark.
Clever Wellie, and no mistake...

 It just means that we can't invite friends round for dinner unless we dine them in The Kitchen, or we move the spuds to The Spare Room, which isn't remotely as convenient for me, but gets us out of having Guests stay over, because the spuds would have to join the ranks of the christmas decorations, which have been at the end of the beds since The New Year!

Yesterday, having harvested another 2 lb. of Autumn Bliss Raspberries, not having quite got over the 4 lb. harvest of the previous day.... I got both of my preserving pans out of the cupboard and had a marathon jam and chutney-making session - still leaving me more of my friend Medina's lovely Damsons yet to play with in the next few days from the fridge!

As sure as God made little green apples, I lost my label-writing pen last week, so Trousers treated me to a new one.  Having wrongly accused Himself and The Cat, I found it today, and have to admit that it was indeed:
Wellie
In The Conservatory
With The Calligraphy Pen
X
Bless You For Watching, And Thank You For Listening Again.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Hug In A Mug Time?


Where exactly is the person with the white Straight-Jacket with the wrap-around arms when you need them then?......  Because I was only bleeting to Trousers the other evening that I'd meant to pick a few Elderberries, with an idea of trying Pontack Sauce, amongst other things, and was beating myself up that I'd probably lost the berries to the birds already.  But I was wrong, with a big W.  Last year, the birds eat each and every berry.  This year, they seem more interested in the ripe plums, windfall apples and Autumn Bliss Raspberries, 'a hop skip and a jump' above the grass path where they can reach them, therefore, ample time for Wellie to harvest, swinging from limb to limb, grabbing as many berries as she can between branches and showers.   I managed to harvest this many from just the one bush in the corner beside my compost bins.  It took me a while to 'de-stalk' them with the aid of a kitchen fork, but they're safely snuggled up in the freezer for me to deal with at my own leisure now, so I'm happy that I can relax.  Allegedly, Pontack Sauce is best kept for 7 years before using....so I'm thinking that I might be able to squirrel a couple of bottles to the back of my pile of Ironing before I get discovered?!

And to be perfectly frank with you, I think my friend Medina 'Should've Gone To Specsavers', because this is the level of generosity that I spoke about in my No-Photo last blog update..... 4 kilos...and that must of taken an age for her and/or Ian to pick - a punishable offence in my book, with the sentence of a beautifully prepared, and lovingly cooked dinner at The Funny Farm......so prepare to be very, very punished you two.!

Do you miss Last Of The Summer Wine as much as I do?  Country Folk , and beautiful characters, sitting so comfortably in our own Sitting Room, able to enjoy the show every week as a whole family, without embarrassment, and when I look at Trousers, his bestest mate Jim, and Pippy, these three completely 'embody' every fibre of that beautiful series.  Because they are Metal Detectors.
I'm no scriptwriter,  but there's a script 'waiting to happen' right here if anyone wants to come and get it my friends.....

The Victories for them are  Roman Artefacts in a muddy field .....Coins, Keys and Brooches.
My Victories are in the heart, soul and mind of a middle-aged woman watching Mr. Darcy and his Breeches.   Because British Dramas, every Autumn, have always lured and hugged me into a comfy chair, where normally, nothing else would.... and only when the leaves start to fall from the trees,  with a whole new series of Downton Abbey now magically waiting in the wings, can I contemplate being in front of the woodburning stove once again.

With everything else going on, and not needing ripe Tomatoes for a while, I'd forgotten to just 'check on them', and yesterday, having done so, it was sad to see the definity of Blight.  But with only the beginnings of it, and so much harvestable fruit, I spent the next hour or so making sure that the fruits that I harvested were perfect.

Anything less than perfect, didn't make the grade for the kitchen.
Sad, but true, because you can never make a silk purse out of a piggie's ear.

I'm really enjoying your company, so thank you for being here.X.


Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Never A Dull Moment...........

I wasn't happy yesterday evening, because I'd seen a few harvestable Elderberries, and hadn't taken advantage of them, and not being entirely sure of our Bermuda Triangular Weather here betwixt the Wye, Severn and Monnow Rivers, you'd be better off licking your pinky and sticking it in the air rather than religiously following a forecast.  Don't get me wrong though... I don't lose sleep over missing an opportunity to preserve, and it certainly doesn't rule my life.  My point here, is that last Autumn, the birds stripped every single berry, and I like to keep an even keel on the 'one for you, one for me' rule?.  It being: One Entirely For Wellie this Autumn I think you'll find.   So today, I harvested, harvested, and harvested - and once I'd taken a kitchen fork to them to separate the berries from the stalky-bits, I'm dead proud of my proper 2 kilos of inky berries in the freezer tonight.  I like to chuck stuff in the freezer for a short while when I'm up to my proverbial armpits in ripe fruit, because whilst you have every good intention of dealing with it 'toute suite', with everything ripening within an annosecond of each other right now, there's a huge window for ripe produce to spoil whilst you're even just contemplating blinking.  (Which, she said swaying, sat here on her kitchen chair, is prolly why preserving fruit in Olcohol actually came into being once upon a time?)
I myself, have got a very fine glass of Damson Wotsit beside me right now on the opposite side of the Laptop to my Gardening Cat, and I call it 'Damson Wotsit' because I had two brews on the go at once - one being Damson Gin, the other being Damson Voddy, and when I'd largely had one glass too much of either, I mixed the two together in a big Kilner Jar, but the resulting tincture is nothing short of Excellence my friend.

My Friend Medina left me about 4 tonnes of Damsons on my doorstep this morning, and I still can't wipe the smile off my face.  I am still laughing my sox off looking at them, and shaking my head from side to side incredulously that anyone could be quite so generous.  And she refuses anything in return.  What an absolute Angel you are sweetheart, thank you so much, and it's a kindness that will not go unrewarded.

Running out of Freezer Space, as you do, I turned my freshly harvested Leeks, Carrots, Golden Beetroots, Parsley, Garlic, you name it, into a kind of Vegetable Bouillon Paste Mix today, and that's now bottled and stored in my walk-in Pantry.   But actually, stop and ponder for a moment in time, because, as every Artist, every musician composes, their brushes and strokes and notes so brilliantly different, so can you too achieve that when you create your own Vegetable Bouillon Paste.  Vary the flavours by changing the veg, by changing the herbs.....Lovage instead of Fennel....Lemon Thyme instead of Thyme, Sweet Marjoram instead of Oregano.  Light your own candle, and have fun.
I am, with knobs on.X.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Wobbly Week for Some Reason.....

 To be perfectly honest with you, my newly re-started Lumbar Injections for the dodgy Sacro-Illiacs again, I don't think, have been the problem, but for some reason, I've not been one hundred percent Top Banana this week on the 'fitting the right shape into the correspondingly correct Jigsaw space'....putting the coffee jar into the fridge, and the hot iron up to my right ear when the telephone rings.... (just joking about the last one, obviously?!).. but I'm sure that you're following my drift!.....I'm not entirely sure why, but I started off my Tuesday, visiting my friend Emma, thinking that I might help her out in the garden for an hour or two.  To be perfectly honest with you, I didn't find it particularly amusing, when I got there, to find that I'd taken gardening shoes that were, right enough a pair, but for the same foot?....and I had an identical pair of those at home...... Unfortunately, when you start a week like that, it tends to somehow 'gain momentum', and before you know it............

You've gone and smashed a window..........The first one in your life.
I'd got a bit of a Bee problem in the sitting room.  The most sensible thing to do, I thought, was to open the window, but again, not having woken up properly for the second morning in succession, I discovered that the window had been 'painted shut' Children, and as I rather stupidly leaned against the statue to try and free it, the statue did tip over and end up in the front garden...

 Remind me to take a photograph of the top of Trousers's Head Children when I get a spare moment to show you how he's losing his hair?  Otherwise, he can apologise RIGHT NOW, and treat me to some Girlie HighLights in time for my 51st Birthday in about 6 weeks time, and no more will be said about the matter..........

However.... Serious stuff happening here, with the last of the maincrop Pink Fir Apple Tatties, definitely having suffered with Blight, unfortunately rotting down to the top tuber or two, but we lovingly harvested what was 'saveable' togevver today to eat fresh, sorted those to store, and buried a hatchet or two, for Wellie to dig up and use later to her own advantage when Trousers isn't looking......

......... With Trousers telling me that I should just get on and plant the Garlics and Jappy Overwintering Onions, or 'I wouldn't feel like I'd achieved anything today'?, I bit my tongue children, as he sloped off to watch Sport on the television, and I continued to cook his dinner once again.

  I'm incredibly mindful of what I want to cook, and with a year ahead in mind from now, I've planted 56 Pink Garlic Cloves, 56 White Garlic Cloves, and so far today 65 Japanese Overwintering Onions.

Normally, I wouldn't dream of subjecting my Capsicum plants to being outside, but I've had a really bad attack of Greenfly, and I decided that I wanted my garden birds to feast on them, and then bring them back indoors, once the worst was over?  Largely, anything in my world gets two chances, and then I bite them off at the ankles.  Man or Beast....  No Prisoners.......



It's been an amazingly 'Wow' time for me in the last couple of weeks, because I've been visiting local shows, and making such very special friends;  Keith Avery, sent me an amazing envelope from Llandogo, and honestly,  I can't begin to thank him enough...My thanks also go out to the  Lovely Lesley, because without this gorgeous lady, I would never have ventured over to Llandogo in the first place

Gaynor and her gorgeous hubby did me dead proud this week, welcoming me into their Hearts, and their Orchard, to scrump from their floor to my content...... thank you so much you two.XX.

And with a 'swopsy' of some of my rather more 'mature' Wallflower Seedlings, with my lovely friend Medina's ' Less Mature Seedlings, between the two of us, I think we can have the Bumblie Bees visiting our crops in 2012 quite nicely on a two-tone level.......

For now, I'm 'Out of Here', so I'll see you next time  Gorgeous.X