Portsonachan

What a lot I have seen today. We drove up from Kendal to Portsonachan. On the way I saw thousands of sheep and miles and miles of lovely old dry stone walling all set in the most glorious rolling fells. Very dramatic.

We are now at the hotel set right on the banks of Loch Awe. It is the most beautiful and peaceful spot. Complete silence broken only by the sound of running rills, birdsong and the occasional breeze in the tree tops.

Posts may be erratic as there is only a small bar where there is any internet access. There are several people crammed in here, tapping away!

We were in traffic, or I could have taken some pictures on the way up.

But here is one of the view from the hotel terrace. Gorgeous or what!

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There is nothing here except the hotel and some fishing lodges, so tomorrow we are off to Inverrary to look at the old prison amongst other things.

A Day in Kendal

Had a really lovely day today in Kendal. Yesterday, I had an email from Cumbrian radio to say they were talking about thrifty meals all this week, and would I come on and talk about it. So at 10:30 this morning, that is what I did. They are doing a feature all week on spending £20 and making meals for yourself using just that. Well, we know how to do that here alright don’t we!

Then DP and I went off into Kendal town, had a look at all the lovely fruit and veg on sale in the open air market. Very good prices, cheaper than the value brands, and it all looked good quality too. They were selling the last 6 cauliflowers at 25p each! I would have had them for sure!

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Then we searched out the Quaker Tapestry Exhibition.
The tapestry is actually embroidery, done on woollen panels – 77 of them! They are beautifully done. I learned quite a bit about the influence Quakers have had on our ways of being in this country. Because of Quakers, atheists like me can solemnly affirm in a court of law, rather than take an oath. They more or less invented ‘Bankery’ and had a huge influence on the development of the railways.

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There was a beautiful quilt there too made up of panels of stitched blue thread and knitted squares.

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When we had had our fill there, we went off to find lunch, and ended up at the Joshua Tree, a lovely old 17th century building with a cafe/bistro where we had tiny lamb and feta meatballs on roasted vegetables and couscous. Delicious it was too. It has a lovely atmosphere, and I swear I could smell a wood fire when we went in, even tho their wood burner was not lit. Very friendly place, and very popular. Always a good sign.

In the afternoon, we explored the Kendal museum. It has free entry which is a good start! They have a huge collection of stuffed animals and big game, mounted butterflies etc. not really the kind of thing I like to look at, but there were lots of other things to enjoy. Loads of geological rocks from all over the area, in an amazing array of colours. There are also works of art currently exhibited by local artists, I always enjoy that kind of thing. And the tiniest, most delicate, early tea bowls, beautiful little things.

We tramped around loads of Kendal itself, admiring the scenery, of which they have a lot! We must have walked miles.

In the evening, we had dinner in another bistro, just round the corner from where we are staying – Déjà Vu. Small, crowded, buzzing, and delicious food. What more can you ask of an eatery ;) DP had a cassoulet and I had a vegetable bake concoction with Reblochon cheese melted over the top. They were both delectable.

Tomorrow, we’ll pop into M&S to get some crusty bread, cheese and fruit for our lunch, then complete the drive up to the hotel in Scotland. It is the Portsonachan, in Argyle, near Dalmally. I’m looking forward to walking by the lochs, and more beautiful, mountainous scenery.

Halfway to Scotland

It’s funny isn’t it, how tiring sitting down all day can be. We left at 9am, broke the journey a couple of times to stretch our legs and walk around for a bit, and arrived here in Kendall about 5pm. I have been sitting down all day and I’m really tired!

Have had a quick look round Kendall and it seems a nice town. Will have a proper look tomorrow. We are overlooking a park, and this is the view from our window.

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We have the whole day here tomorrow, so we shall be searching out nice things to do. Can’t wait to get out there and explore.

A walk round the garden

Apple blossomWe are due to drive up to Kendall tomorrow, on our way to Scotland, so I have been wandering around the garden reviewing things.

The radishes I planted in a large box in the greenhouse are coming along nicely, and will probably be at their best when we are away – a common occurence when you are a gardener.

Radish

The newly planted raspberries are enjoying the showers over the last couple of days

Raspberries

these are my two veg beds, the two water tanks at the top are where I’ve planted 10 asparagus crowns There are two or three spears in there right now and I can’t make up my mind whether to have them tonight, or leave them. They are a bit small yet, but I’m not sure if they will last another week.  The tree covered in blossom is a Scrumptious apple. The bare bed at the bottom is where the runner beans go.

both veg beds Apr14

the green nearest the camera is sorrel, the clump further up is spinach, both of which overwintered. Also in this bed are some chives, watercress, peas and broad beans

veg bed Apr14

this bed has the last of the leeks, and a couple of fruit trees in pots that haven’t gone in yet. The chair is where the last of the evening sun gets before it disappears behind next doors roof.

veg bed 2 Apr14

fruit tress in back Apr14

these trees are a morello cherry, a plum (under which is the wild garlic) and a pear, picturesquely backed by the compost heaps. This plum is the one that only gave us a couple of plums last year, yet it was as covered with blossom as it is this year.

fruit trees in front Apr14

these ones in the front are apples, plums, pears and cherries, which all yield very well

Rhubarb

the rhubarb is up and growing away strongly, although not as advanced as DD2′s, which gets a lot more sun than this patch

The paths by the way, were laid by DP from scavanged bricks, patio slabs and roof tiles. The tiles work best of all, they are rough and they stay safe to walk on all winter, where the bricks got very slippery while wet.

In the greenhouse, we have the chilli plant I have been nurturing through the winter, now enthusiastically flowering and fruiting

Chilli

one batch of the three different types of tomato, these are Tigerella

Tomatoes

some watercress to top up the patch in the garden, I shall sow some rocket when we get back, and some cut and come again lettuce. Those three keep us in salads all summer, with plenty to give away too

Watercress

and some very scrawny looking leeks

Leeks

there are also boxes of two other types of tomato and some runner beans, but there isn’t much to see of the beans in a picture yet. Plus the basil plant

the wood pile is filling up

wood pile Apr14

the flowers currently blooming include primula and marsh marigold

Primula Marsh marigold

and this tree peony, this is the first bloom we have had, pretty isn’t it

Tree peony

and the little magnolia stellata

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the garden is actually looking quite pretty at the moment, but I can’t capture that very well in an overall shot

we are going to have to leave the greenhouse open while we are away in case we have some hot days, and we will ask a neighbour to keep an eye on the watering in there

Quilts, Extension and Scotland

Got on really well with the quilt today. I planned to lay it out on the kitchen floor where there is just enough room so I could stick the layers together with temporary sticking spray.

I got it all ready, cleared everything out of the way, swept and washed it and left it to dry. Ironed everything, then laid it out on the floor, but the thought of crawling about, smoothing it all down, made my knees hurt before I’d even got down there. So I abandoned that plan.

We have a table tucked in the angle of the sitting room, so I cleared all the papers off that. Then arranged the quilt so that I had a corner smoothed out on the table top, with the quilt face side down and the backing right side up. Then I sprayed a little of the quilt and smoothed down the backing on top, and moved the whole thing so I could get at another part, sprayed and smoothed, and so on until I had done the whole quilt. The temporary fixing spray is really easy to use, and I could lift any bits I wanted to reposition and re-lay them.

It all seemed to be pretty secure, so I started to ‘stitch the ditch’ to secure it all together. But the thread on my machine kept snapping and it was hard going, and frustrating. A Twitter reader suggested that it might be cheap thread, which it could be, so I shall try another reel, and see how that goes. But not today, had enough for today.

I ordered some wadding for backing two large quilts, and today I pre-washed one of them, ready for using. I shall do the other one in due course.

Yesterday, I bagged up loads of waste from digging the extension foundations and off it went to the dump. There is still loads to go, but I can see where I’ve been, which is cheering.

We have the roof light on now and the chap measured up for the bi-fold doors which will be made and fitted in a couple of weeks.

I’ve been weeding and tidying in the garden too, so it’s starting to look pretty good out there. The new raspberries turned up a while ago, so they are all in now. I love this time of year, when everything is springing into life, blossoming ready for the harvests later on. And there are some flowers in the mix too!

We’re off to Scotland on Tuesday for a few days, stopping over at Kendall for a couple of nights on the way up and again on the way back. It’s a long way from East Sussex! It should be a nice break.

RobinIt might help with the robin situation too. Do you remember that we had a robin building a nest in the gas meter cupboard? Well, they abandoned that one and have built one in the insulation exposed when DP removed the soffits for the extension. They fly in and out completely ignoring DP telling them off and saying that they can’t nest there. I stood on a step ladder and peeped in and there is a bird sitting in there, so I think she may be sitting on eggs. I looked it up on Wiki and it says that they sit on eggs for 13 days and that the chicks fledge in 14 days after that. We can leave them undisturbed long enough for the chicks to fledge, before we start taking down that wall. We might have to leave the door open if they are fitted before that.


Quilts, Speakers, Pancakes and Noodles

Well, where did those last three days go – whoosh.

Finished the Live Below The Line on Monday which was an interesting few days. Some lovely people have donated to ActionAid. Thank you.

Then on Tuesday, I spent the day in Bexhill with DD2. We did some prep for the wedding invitations we are making, more about those another day, when I have more to show.

Then had a wander round the charity shops. I was on the lookout for some fabric with purple and white in it for the quilt I will be making them. This is what I found

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Scored a double white sheet which I earmarked for the backing. Then found the plain purple duvet cover. Excellent! That’s the backing then, and I can use some in the pattern too, and the white sheet for separating strips. The other fabric in the picture is from my stash. It was less than £5 for both items, much cheaper than the charity shops in Heathfield. Can’t wait to get started. My Mum has agreed to embroider something meaningful, names and date of the wedding definitely, maybe something else too. And there is special fabric that I have been asked to incorporate too.

I also got some curtains to use as fabric for quilting.

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But first, I want to finish off the one Mum made for me. I finished tidying up the edges today, so tomorrow I am going to attempt my first ever gluing together of top and backing sheet.
I will need to clear a huge space on the floor, then lay a blanket down to protect it, ironed sheet on top, ironed quilt on top of that – then try and work out how to spray it together.

On Wednesday, I was in Northiam with a WI friend at a speaker selection meeting. It was the usual mix of good to very good speakers. There was one pretty appalling one, who did a singalong of ancient tunes, and if I say as if we were in an old peoples home, I hope you know what I mean, I’m not poking fun at old people, I’m pretty old myself. The really, really good one was a chap who works at Batemans. He spoke eloquently about Kipling, he was likeable ( and didn’t make any of those truly ghastly ‘mere man’ ‘jokes’ – yuk, so many of the male speakers do do that) introduced gentle humour, didn’t use notes, and was generally very good at what he did.

Back on the food front, I haven’t had pancakes for a while (hahaha – only all last week )so this morning I decided to just try some whole meal ones, just to try them and see what they were like. They were pretty good and would work really well with spinach in them, or tomato purée, or maybe a little crispy bacon.

Yesterday for dinner we had a peanutty noodle dish that I found and adapted on Abel and Cole. I stir fried a red pepper, huge carrot, onion, mushrooms and celery, added some Aldi cooked and frozen chicken, stirred in the sauce and tipped the whole lot on top of noodles. It was very very delicious, so much so that we had it again this evening. I’ll cost it up soon. It won’t be a 50p one, but I may well be able to make it a cheap meal.

Also today, I made a half batch of muffins in a cute heart shaped silicone muffin tin.

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I half filled each hole, then put in a little gooseberry jam, and topped them up so the jam would be in the middle. Cute huh.


LBLUK 2014 – Day 5. Challenge completed! Can you donate a few £’s?

Last day today, and I am almost sad that the challenge is completed, although I am really looking forward to my bucket of tea tomorrow morning.

Started this last day off with pancakes and bacon.

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Then drove down to Bexhill to DD2′s, with, amongst other things, a pizza on a baking tray intended for my lunch. Didn’t take a picture, but it was similar to this one from yesterday’s dinner, only smaller.

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Didn’t have my daily ration of 2 scones until I got back home at 6pm.

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Then dinner was a glorious potage of everything that was left. The last 80g of bacon, half an onion, tiny bit of carrot, the last wedge of cabbage, 80g or so of lentils, 100g of tomato and the last of the soft cheese. It made a strange looking bowl, but it tasted really good.

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I’ve learnt quite a bit more about frugal eating during these last 5 days and I will be using some of what I’ve learnt in future meal plans.

One of the things I learned was that it works well to work out a basket of goods to whatever amount you want to spend, for however many people, and however many days. Making sure there is a good mix of protein, veg and carb etc. and enough calories. Then eat that up over the next x number of days, a 7 day week perhaps, safe in the knowledge that there is enough veg, calories etc no matter what combination you cook up. Like my seeming over consumption of white flour and jam. Because I had worked out my basket had plenty of veg, protein and fibre, and not much fat, white pancakes and scones with jam every day were acceptable.

It has been interesting too from a dieting standpoint. Having worked out the shopping basket and that it was 2000 calories a day, if I wanted to use this way of shopping (and the budget could be whatever I wanted it to be, £5, £10 etc) all I would have to do is eat only those things that I had bought, and nothing else, and the dieting level, whatever that is, would be achieved with very little effort on working out calories.
Goodness, that was a long sentence wasn’t it! The calorie level could be whatever you want it to be of course, 1200, 1500, 1800 etc.

It’s been an interesting few days. Hopefully you have enjoyed the adventure too, and if you feel the effort and time involved deserve reward, maybe you could donate a few pounds to ActionAid, link on the sidebar. Or here

I, ActionAid and the women and girls helped by them would all appreciate it. :)


LBLUK – Day 4, nearly there now, but I am still craving a cup of tea

Well here we are at the end of Day 4.

Breakfast was again plain pancakes with jam and a spot of soft cheese.

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2 of the little scones, with more jam during the morning.

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Then 2 bowls of soup with lentils, cabbage and bacon. The bacon provided a lovely saltiness and flavour.

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The dinner this evening was a huge scone based pizza. I made a scone mix using 250g flour, dividing it into two, with the second half for lunch tomorrow.

One of the little pots of tomato in the fridge was shared between the two, along with half of the solitary remaining onion and a tiny bit of carrot. Then a few little bits of soft cheese, and I pinched a few slivers of bacon from tomorrow.

It was pretty tasty considering I didn’t reduce the tomato to make a sauce, or have any seasonings. So looking forward to that at lunchtime tomorrow.

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Still really longing for a cup of tea and a huge mug of coffee.

At DD2′s tomorrow, and we could have gone out for a nice lunch somewhere, but I need to do Day 5 – grump :(

Having worked out the nutrition, I know there are enough vegetables, fibre etc in the basket, but it feels like I have been eating far too much white flour and jam this week. Looking forward to some variety in a few days.


LBLUK 2014 – Day 3

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Obsessing about my remaining vegetables today. Weighed them three times in the morning! There don’t seem to be enough left. The plan says there are, but I sort of don’t believe it. There are 3 little pots of tomato from the tin in the fridge too, but it still doesn’t seem enough. I’m used to more.

Had these for breakfast, bit of soft cheese too this time.

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Couple of these in the morning.

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Forgot to take a picture of lunch. It was lentil and vegetable soup. I used all cabbage to save the onion for the next 2 days. It would have tasted a lot nicer with some salt.

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Then these bacon dumplings for dinner. Oh the pleasure of some tomato :) They were really not bad at all. Could have done with some grainy mustard in the dumpling mix and a green vegetable with them, but even so.

Looking forward to scone based pizza tomorrow. Still lusting after a nice hot bucket of tea or coffee, and only 2 more days to go.


LBLUK 2014, another alternative basket, from Aldi again

And here is another suggestion for a basket from Aldi, I’m on a roll now ;)

Cost £4.67, you could use the remaining 33p for flavourings of your choice. A little oil, salt and pepper, garlic maybe

Oats 75p
Spaghetti 23p
Jam 29p
1kg carrots 59p
1kg onions 59p
Soft cheese 200g 49p
Pepperoni 120g 79p
Potato wedges, frozen, 750g 59p
Tomato purée 200g 35p

Breakfasts
As much porridge as you want, made with water, sweetened with jam

Lunches
Soup made with 150g onions, 100g carrots, sauted first, 50g spaghetti broken into small strands, 30g tom purée

Soup made with 150g onions, 100g carrots, sauted first, 50g spaghetti broken into small strands, 20g pepperoni

150g Potato wedges, 100g grated carrot salad with a little fine chopped onion. Stir in 20g pepperoni and 20g soft cheese

150g Potato wedges, 100g grated carrot salad with a little fine chopped onion. Stir in 20g pepperoni and 20g soft cheese

200g potato wedges, 100g grated carrot, stir through 30g soft cheese

Dinners
100g spaghetti, make a sauce by stirring through 50g soft cheese, 2 tblsp tom purée, serve with 100g grated carrot

100g spaghetti, 20g pepperoni, 150g slow cooked onions, 100g slow cooked carrots

100g spaghetti, make a sauce by stirring through 50g soft cheese, 2 tblsp tom purée, serve with 100g grated carrot

100g spaghetti, 20g pepperoni, 100g slow cooked onions, 100g slow cooked carrots. Stir 30g soft cheese through the veg

200g Potato wedges, 20g pepperoni, 100g roasted carrots and 100g onions

Snacks
Porridge and jam