Monday, 17 October 2016

A couple of rants

Bit of a rant here.
I promise to round up the grease-band advice in my next post.

How do you react to a blogger whose views offend you? There have been a couple of times recently when I have read a blog of someone I follow with a similar lifestyle (self sufficiency, prepping etc) and they have posted something that I really can't agree with, worse than that, I have found it uncompromising and offensive and it has upset me and had me shouting at the screen.
 What to do? ignore it? put forward my differing view? unfollow?
 I'm actually quite good at presenting a different viewpoint in such a way that I don't trade insults nor suggest the person is an idiot for holding a different view. Many years as a Social Worker have ensured that I can be clear and honest  yet diplomatic (I'm the old fashioned kind honest!.. you would have wanted fighting your corner!)
In the last post of this kind all the comments agreed with the person, with increasing degrees of nastiness and sycophancy and what surprised (disappointed ?) me was that other bloggers-in-common who I know to hold lives/views diametrically opposed to the post say nothing.
Yes, I did leave a short comment.

And while I am ranting.....
 Must couples really have to go to some exotic place to get married? My children and grandchildren, who are all employed, are receiving more and more wedding invitations that they have no hope of attending at times of year that they are unable to get time off to weddings in far-flung places. Should they attend they will have to find the air fare and hotel costs and use up their valuable annual leave and savings (house deposit) for someone else's "Special Day". Sorry, I don't get it! Get married abroad, just a couple of you and have a"Bash" when you get home for all, but these folk end up doing both, as, surprise surprise! grandma and grandad have never really wanted to go to Peru and friends with children might not want to take their babies to a warm country in the hurricane season etc
Gosh I'm on one today aren't I? I bet I'll get it in the neck and cries of "bah humbug" for this one.
Back soon with a grease band post and update on the bees (pretty safe stuff)

Thursday, 13 October 2016


 I seem to have had a bogging hiatus. I really can't say why. I know I have been insanely busy, but I have still found time in the late evening to read the blogs of others and commented on one or two, (though only in a half- hearted way)  Does anyone else get so that they can't be a***d" with their blog?

So gardening bloggy friends I need advice. We have had a problem with codling moth and probably other moths too on most of the fruit trees. Some years ago we used a grease band on our big old apple and it seemed to help, though I believe grease bands are for winter moth not codling (tell me if I'm wrong) I have counted the trees affected by grubs and it is at least 12 of the apples and all the eight plums and greengages. Difficult to tell with the damsons as we have had hardly any fruit from them this year.
 What do you think about home made grease bands? have you made them ? We really can't afford to  buy as many as we need. (same for those feramone  trap thingys) Have you any other tips, ideas or experiences?
I really, really would welcome your comments on this.

Funny weather we are having here in Mid England for October. Just when you think you will spend a day in the garden the heavens open and you are back inside again attacking the apple mountain!
We were lucky enough to get help (family slaves) with digging up the potatoes after a couple of rain free days when the soil was dry. Within minutes of the last bucket going into the barn the heavens opened. We grew just Sarpo Mira this year. The yield was 153kg  (337lbs) I have now bagged all the decent ones into paper sacks and put them in the dark covered with sacking to keep them frost free. Those that have obvious slug or spade damage I have put into a couple of sacks in the utility room and will use first.
All for now.
Welcome Jada Pfeifer on the follower bar and Bloglover on Bloglovin.

Friday, 23 September 2016


Okay, who was it that commented that  "Survivors" was on utube?
I have since spent many hours watching the first then the second and now I'm on the third series ! For goodness sake, I don't have time for this new obsession. The tomatoes are still growing and ripening, The barrowfulls of apples are needing processing, there are onions to be strung and I'm rushing through it all to grab an hour on the computer to watch another episode.
 I am so enjoying the 1970s clothes  - which are all remarkably clean, sparkling white and ironed, not bad considering they are making their own soap with mutton fat and wood ash!  There are also taps working in a farm that has no running water, and a few other bloopers. HOWEVER, It's great!, just as I remembered it. I particularly like the music that accompanies the opening titles and then the closing credits and NOTHING IN  BETWEEN! yes really! I can hear people being upset without the help of mournful cellos and running without a jingly form of William Tell and pastoral music as the camera spans the countryside. Those were the days. Why do we need music to accompany everything, as a sort of clue to those who hadn't realised what was happening?
There are some very posh people and some more posh people who have attempted to master un-posh accents, but the message is remarkably modern and relevant.
 The program was first aired between 1975 and 78 I believe. It was then re-done fairly recently, but the new version did not hold my interest and was very DRAMATIC (totally unnecessary)

 So that is my excuse for being too busy to blog... I have been watching an old TV series !
Back soon with a more sensible post.

 A very warm Derbyshire welcome to Gilly Ann Travis and Michelle Brownshill  on Bloglovin and Wintersend Warbler and Jackie Philips on the Follower bar.
love Gillxx

Sunday, 11 September 2016

An Horticultural Post

Hello All,
Back from fishing, with 40lb of fish fillets safely in the freezer.

Some time ago I noticed a seedling growing among the spinach. It looked familiar, but I couldn't quite recall what it was. After a week or two I recognisd it as a Thorn Apple (also known as Devil's Trumpet) and decided to let it grow to show to the grandchildren, as though it is not rare it is quite uncommon around these parts. As they say, like Ttopsy, it grew and grew into this monster plant. The last one that grew here was not nearly so big, as you can see this is as tall as the sunflowers next to it. The white "dashes" that you can see open into large white trumpets towards evening. If you know the greenhouse plant Brugmansia  or Angels Trumpet, it has similar flowers, though I don't think it is the same family as I think that Thorn Apple is of the potato/tomato family.
Here is a close up of the seed, clarifying why it is commonly called a thorn apple. This plant is covered in these seed cases.
All parts of the Thorn Apple are poisonous, so I now have to, reluctantly because it is a beautiful plant, and with care (and rubber gloves) dig up the plant and bag it ready for the tip.
I have just looked up the latin name for this plant it is Datura Stramonim.

While with the tomato family, here is a tomato I grew from some seed which came with my last order from Marshalls Seeds. It is new bush variety called Montello. I don't know how to copy the picture from the catalogue, but it doesn't look like my plant which instead of bushing and bunching has long branches with fruits about two inches apart. This pic show the top two branches, there are more underneath looking exactly the same. Mmmm what happened there I wonder? Did anyone else grow this?
                                                                                                                                                                   A few years ago I lost one of the Victoria plum trees to who-knows-what. I bought a new one and planted it at the opposite end of the orchard. This year it flowered for the first time, the grand total of plums being eight BLACK plums! Four of those fruits are on the left, next to plums from our other Victoria. The fruits are a good size, I should have put a 50p next to them to show how big, I would say 2 to 2.5 inches. Clearly it is not a Victoria. Does anyone know what plum it is?

This last pic is of some lovely plump walnuts. I knew the squirrel would get them first and                  determined to pick them even if they were green when we got back from or fishing week (we got back yesterday) Too late!! they are all gone, apart from a few on the floor that are covered in bite marks. Did I tell you I hate squirrels?!
I reckon that is enough for now
Back Soon

Monday, 5 September 2016

"A bit of holiday fun"!

I had a different post to this planned in my mind but Sue in Suffolk posted pictures of she and her sister in matching dresses, which jogged me to post this one.

Here are my girls on holiday in Wales 39/40 years ago.

 The jumpers were knitted in wool that was very cheap, so I bought pounds of the stuff. I remember it was in this dark blue, dark green. dark brown and white. The girls had sweaters and cardies David had a couple of tank tops (well, it WAS the 70s) and I had a jumper and a poncho.
The girls  never complained about  those sweaters so I always assumed they liked them. Fast forward 30 years and the granddaughter says "How come we never got sweaters with our initials on them "? "Because we try not to embarrass you" was her mother's reply!
Three weeks ago we had our rare family holiday in the Wales and an idea began to form.. No I don't have time to knit a couple of sweaters, but thought it would be good to reenact the girl's photo. The memory is that it was taken at Manorbier castle, which was perfect as our cottage was in Manorbier.
ED found some tea shirts of a similar blue on the internet and already had a lot of white felt from some project or other. She and YD cut out the shapes and YD machined them on.
When we got to the castle for "The Shoot" we couldn't find the spot the first photo was taken from. On inquiring it seems that it was taken at Pembroke castle !!
Never ones to let the truth get in the way of a good story we carried on hence 'ta da!...

 Like all our plans when the girls and I get together, this plan had developed into" a bit more fun" (depending on your sense of fun/the ridiculous) So those grandchildren need not feel left out ..

And while we were on a roll and with  two family members dragged kicking and screaming (well actually they just grumbled a little) to join in our"bit of fun" and Memory Making I give you the Von Trapp/Osmands from Derbyshire!
Remiss of us not to make one for Sammie, but those friends of ours who decided this was a difficult game of human Scrabble have used him as a blank (an "s" would have been no help)
 Well, there you have it folk don't get any dafter than us lot when we are together and have inmbibed a few ciders.
Back soon with my planned post
Love from (getting) sunny Cornwall

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Off Again!

Hi Folks
This week has been manic. We have gardens full of produce ready for processing, lots of visitors and much to do for the Civic Society and getting ready for another week away! Today we set off for a weeks sea fishing in Cornwall. It's a rubbish time to do such a thing with all that stuff ready in the garden but the date was not our choice. Hey Ho
I'm taking my laptop with me and should have quite a bit of time to myself when I can catch up on blogs and  post a couple myself.
As usual I am staying at my friend's in Callington and we are fishing from Looe. Anybody near there for a coffee?
Off to make the packed lunch and then off!
Back soon

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Last preparedness post and some garden pics.

Sorry for the break in posting. This is partly because of our holiday and then because of a garden full of produce that needs attention and also there is much happening with the Civic Society at the moment. I have managed to read a few blogs but that is all I have done blogwise.
So I'm now "back in harness" and have much to write. Firstly I need to complete the Preparedness posts.
Thanks to those who have joined in with ideas and experiences, from surviving hurricanes and floods to 9 months without electricity! Suggestions of work gloves, underwear and identity documents to add to the "Grab Bag" (Sol, Joan and Tricky Wolf). Joan and TW both point me to the SAS Survival Guide. Anon in the US reminds me that in tough times it is more than possible that cash points etc won't be working, so keep some cash with you.
Angela Merkel is clearly reading these posts and is advising Germany to keep some stocks in! Resulting (obviously) in empty shelves etc! Whatever AMs reason for this advice, if nothing else it might help a few more people consider being prepared.
Over forty years ago David and I watched a TV serial called "The Survivors". The scenario was that 90% of the world's population had died from a virus and those who remained had to learn how to survive. We watched it avidly saying to each other "We would do that better" and  ",Why don't they do such and such?".It was the flame that fanned our ambition to be self sufficient. Of all the sudden disaster story lines I've always thought this to be the most likely to happen.
 My guess is that extreme long term survival situations are likely to be predictable. Climate change, oil and world food shortages etc. may well creep up on us, but creep they will, giving us time to realise that harder times are ahead. Armageddon-type situations are far less likely but would also result in a situation where nothing is the same ever again and we will need to pit our wits to survive.
Eventually your food stores will run out (and you can't eat money) which brings me back to.. SKILLS.  Tricky Wolf suggests bushcraft and foraging skills, which I consider to be the most essential skills to practice and hone. I'm not suggesting you go native in the park for a few weeks ( I have a picture here of thousands of people sleeping in the park in the middle of town!) but read books such as the SAS Survival handbook and watch a few prepper videos, just to put ideas in your mind. Nobody can do everything, but we all have some ability to develop. These skills we can take to the table in our group/ family Come the Day.
You don't need to live in the country either. before we moved to our smallholding we lived in a semi-detached house in a large estate. here we kept rabbits for the pot -  just three large hutches attached to the back of the garage and a run on the lawn and foraged greens from the roadside were needed to produce 60 rabbits a year (could easily have been more) We grew great beans against the fence on the rabbit poo, learnt lots of ways to cook rabbit, cured the pelts and made some slippers and a (bizarre) Davy Crockett hat!
Joan from Wales has a great idea that I will personally take up. Like many of you I have bookcases full of "how to" books on sewing, cooking, preserving etc. Joan rightly says that we can't put all those books in our Bug Out Bag. She keeps an exercise book in which collects only those recipes she will use (looking at your recipe books I'll bet you only use a couple or so from each book) or prints out  "How To" blog entries, similarly she copies out basic knitting and sewing patterns. I'm really excited at this idea. I have already photocopied and reduced in size a page on seed saving and a basic hat pattern reduced to the absolute minimum space. I personally have much of this knowledge, but to collect it together for my nearest and dearest to use too is equally important to me.
 As I have written these post I have realised that a 100 posts wouldn't cover all I and others have to say. I would like to discuss the social aspect of survival (of the fittest? - I hope not!) as a retired Social Worker I find this particularly interesting but don't feel I could do it justice here. Suffice to say that being able to get on with others is probably the most important skill you could learn if you wish to survive. I don't subscribe to the hunker down and look after yourself in isolation in the woods type of survival as I believe it only works short term (unsustainable) and even though living with others is difficult it is essential to well-being and future growth.  Anybody disagree?
Finally, how do we defend ourselves when SHTF - "S**** Hits The Fan"?  If you are the only person in your street who has food and heat how long before your neighbours (or a marauding gang) ask and then demand you share your hoard? ooh er. There are many who will not hesitate with an answer and while I know that being able to defend you and yours will require a weapon I hesitate to suggest it as it flies against everything I believe in. I would always want to negotiate, but know that not everything is negotiable and not everyone would negotiate and are likely to be armed themselves. So I guess my answer to my own question must be that should things start to look really bad we would reluctantly arm ourselves. You have no idea how hard it was for me to write that!
As they say at Uni... "Discuss" let's hear it folks!

Only a lighter note (how could it be anything else?!) Here are some photos of part the garden which is so overgrown this year, partly because of the weather but mostly because it has rather got away from me this year. Hope the colours and fecundity lift your spirits!
 The potatoes (Sarpo Mira) have absolutely taken over. I do hope the crop is as big as it promises to be. In this picture you can see that it has grown over the box hedges and onto the path. Sunflowers and beans ( Moonlight, Borlotti, Butter and Prizewinner) behind and entrance to the chicken run/orchard.
 The sweet corn (Lark) is good this year too, with large ripe cobs.
 The marrow patch. While we were away some humungus marrow grew in hiding (photos next time)
 Looking across the potatoes to another bean row ( Emergo, Lazy Housewife, Cobra) with blackberries behind
 One of the Hop (bines?) Fuggle.

That's enough for today.
I look forward to your input/ views/ arguments !
Love Gillx
PS I seem to have lost a couple of followers.. is it the depressing posts or the long gaps between posting I wonder?!
PPS I will probably bore you with a couple of holiday shots next time.
PPPS And I shall start discussing preserving the crop.