Saturday, 6 May 2017

The Not So Good Life









I sort of had visions of this idyllic self sufficient life wandering around my garden full of home grown veg and wildlife.......the reality is somewhat different.  I have spent weeks covered in compost and manure as I make my no dig veg beds only for the wildlife to eat everything I'm trying to grow.  I go out in the morning to watch the beautiful sunrise only to find rabbit fur and birds feathers scattered across the garden where the wildlife are eating each other.

 I love seeing the foxes but not the smell of fox poo when the dogs have rolled in it everyday.....yes you two!



I loved seeing the stag but he has killed one of the trees and I don't think another will survive.

Badgers and rabbits are digging holes in the garden and I have millions of ants making impressive mounds in the middle of my veg beds.

To top it all my tomato plants are looking sick and probably about to kick the bucket.  I think our hunger gap is going to last all year.


The saddest looking tomato plants you are likely to see

and some little sods are eating the strawberries as soon as they ripen


Hey ho as they say, I still love it here.

..... and in other news, I have a school reunion next month.  Anyone know how to lose lots of weight and look 10 years younger in a month?

Chickpea xx

Monday, 1 May 2017

Growing, Eating and a bit of a rant.









I can't believe so long has passed since my last post, I have lots of 'drafts' of posts that never got finished and were then irrelevant as things had moved on.   Life has been busy as usual, my head is full of plans but the body is just not keeping up at the moment.  By the evenings I'm worn out, I've got to the age where I'm having 'Nanny Naps'  yes it comes to us all, though there are still many nights when insomnia plagues me.

Thank you for all your good wishes for my son, and thank you to Doris for sharing her experience.  He is on the mend, getting stronger everyday and going back to work this week.   He is coping with it incredibly well and just getting on with life as usual, he has been out and about with friends all weekend which he hasn't been well enough to do for a long time.  As long as he stays well the next  major surgery can be delayed until next year so at least we have time to catch our breaths.  Before my son, I had not personally known anyone with a stoma, in a sad twist of fate my friend has just undergone treatment for cancer and now also has a stoma.  At least I have some knowledge and can support her a little better and my son has offered to talk to her about his experiences.  Life can still throw the unexpected at you!

I now need to concentrate on myself and my health.  As I'm sure like many, while I'm caring for others my own needs seem to go straight out of the window.  I survived on whatever food was easy and quick, not always the healthiest however I have stuck to a plant based diet but eat far too many crisps and chips!!!!  I do not call myself a vegan as there is so much more to it than what you eat.  As I still wear leather shoes and boots and wear my own hand knitted wool items and don't intend getting rid of them I don't meet the strict criteria set by some, but I can live with that.  I will gradually replace them with 'vegan friendly' items as and when.  I have joined vegan Facebook groups and signed up for a Vegan Nutritionist Diploma to learn as much as I can about the vegan diet to ensure I am getting all of the vitamins and minerals I need to stay healthy.  What is getting on my nerves .... here comes the rant....is some vegans views on vegetarians.  I have been a vegetarian for over 25 years and brought my sons up as vegetarian and will not have someone who has been a vegan for all of 5 minutes ( and will probably only keep it up for a short time) looking down at me and saying   vegetarians don't care about animals!! what twaddle.  I won't be made to feel like I'm lesser than them.  Vegetarians can be just as snooty about pescatarians or meat reducers.  Why can we not just give people credit for what they have achieved and cut out the whole elitist snobbery crap.  You do not further your cause by pissing off people who are making an effort.  *steps off the soapbox*

Having said all of the above, I had a thoroughly lovely time at the recent Vegan Festival and stuffed my face with gorgeous food, I ate as soon as I got there luckily, as they ran out of food by early afternoon.  I think they were surprised by the number of people who attended.  There was a particularly interesting talk on feminism and veganism.

I don't actually miss eating cheese and eggs but do find it hard to think of alternatives for lunch sometimes, I love hummus but you can only eat so much.  I decided to make this for my packed lunch.  Along with rice cakes and salad it makes a nice change and tastes lovely and fresh with the herbs picked out of the garden.  The recipe was in the Vegan living magazine and is really easy and quick.






WHITE BEAN DIP

2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 x 400g can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
juice of 1/2 lemon (I used a lime)
1/4 bunch dill,  1/4 bunch mint, 1/4 bunch flat parsley all with stalks removed
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
A few mixed seeds of your choice

Heat the oil in a small pan until hot.  Remove from the heat, stir in the garlic and leave to cool completely.

Place the garlic and any pan juices, beans, lemon juice and 2 tbsp water in a food processor or use a hand held blender.  Blend until smooth.  Stir in half the herbs and season to taste. (I actually put them in the blender as I didn't read the instructions)

Cover and chill until ready to serve.  When ready drizzle over some olive oil, the rest of the herbs and seeds.





Poly ready for the tomatoes.

Squashes, courgettes and lots of piquant peppers


Sue (Beachcomber) asked how the growing is going.  Well after all my hard work making veg beds I have very little to show for it.  Garlic, a few rocket plants and 4 spinach plants and ready grown herbs.   All the rest have been eaten.  I have very fat happy slugs.  As I am growing organically, pellets are not an option and they are turning their noses up at the beer traps preferring the plants so I have had to change my plans.  I am starting plants off indoors and hoping they will be big and strong enough to survive attack by the time I plant them out.  The indoor plants have been very successful, too successful you might say as I have more tomatoes and pepper plants than I have space and have been trying to give some away.  My conservatory and windowsills are full of plant pots and trays, I can't wait until it is warm enough to plant them out.  We are in the process of putting up a rabbit proof fence so at least one predator will be kept out.  It is exciting seeing what is growing in the garden, the orchard has various trees in flower but I haven't got a clue what they are.  Apples so I'm told but I don't know what else.










We haven't had much time to explore the area but ventured down to the woodland adjoining our field which is extremely muddy but very pretty.  I got stuck up to my arse in mud on several occasions and had to crawl commando style out as the bearded one found it impossible to pull me out.  The more we struggled the deeper I sank! At least I have learned the knack for getting out of quicksand.

I hope you are all keeping well and will try not to leave it so long next time,

Chickpea xx




Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Grabbing some normal while we can


Life is gradually getting back to normal for now.  Our youngest son will need further surgery when he is stronger but we are making the most of the everyday simple things that you miss when it all gets taken away.  Our lives are gradually expanding from hospital rooms, to care at home to getting out and about again.  I am now back at work and our son is enjoying little trips out with friends.  He is getting used to life with a stoma and is determined that it will not stop him enjoying life to the full.  Our worlds are expanding once again.

I love a simple life, I'm never happier than when I'm pottering around in the garden, cooking simple food, watching nature re awakening after winter.  I have missed these little things so much over the last few months.  It may seems boring to other people but these little things make me very happy.  When my eldest son asked me what I would like to do for Mothers Day, I didn't want to go out for a meal, I asked him to come over and help me shovel barrow loads of manure into the poly tunnel.  Yep I know weird.

I am in a desperate race against nature at the moment to get the garden and poly ready for planting, I just wish my old bones could achieve more in a day.  The beautiful weather over the weekend meant I was out working in the garden for 2 whole days and I'm knackered!  I am starting to see a little progress at last.......just a little.

We still have a little frost around


The fence that followed the line of daffodils which was blown down before we moved in will need replacing to protect the veg patch from the high winds we get here.  It looked very strange when all the daffodils started popping up across the garden.



I managed to get hold of some more cardboard so have progressed with the no dig veg beds.



Recycled, UV resistant pallets that were lying around at work and an old curtain rail have been put to good use to make compost bins.






I have been busy clearing the totally over grown polytunnel ready for growing our summer salads.  The grape vines and kiwi have been totally cut back, hopefully they will survive but I wouldn't have been able to grow food that we could actually live on without this drastic action.  It was also full of ants nests which didn't take too kindly to being disturbed!  It is as dry as an old boot in there so plenty of manure and compost is going on top.



and yet another no dig bed in progress to accommodate all the seeds I got carried away buying


The piquant pepper seeds sent to me by fellow blogger Dani over at ecofootprints a couple of years ago are still viable despite moving house.  Hopefully now I have a poly I can get some peppers to grow although it is nothing like the South African climate in Cornwall.




I have been doing a little bit of mindless easy knitting, yet another shawl.  This time I made up the pattern which is turning out to be a strange shape!


I planted some winter lettuce in a container in the poly a few month a ago which has gone to seed after being totally neglected, but isn't it pretty!



Well that's it for now, all very garden focused at the moment I'm afraid.  When I have a little more time I'm looking forward to trying some new vegan recipes which I will share with you.  I am keeping an eye on you all, just not having the time or brain power to put together coherent comments!

Chickpea xx

Thursday, 16 March 2017

The Plan - I hope!











Sorry for the random posts, life is hectic as usual.  Our son had another operation on Monday so I have been spending an awful lot of time at the hospital then I came down with a jippy tummy, the only thing I could put it down to was a coffee at the hospital cafe, I do wonder if they clean the machines properly!  

Anyway I have lots of plans for the house and garden but with a very sick son plans have been put on hold for a lot of things. It would be very easy to just give up on it all what with everything else that has been going on, however I am determined to grow some of our favourite things in the space I have managed to clear.  By writing this down I'm hoping to give myself a kick up the backside to get on with it.  I'm sure it will all be very hit and miss as I am very new to this grow your own malarkey, but this is what I have managed to do so far.





I am a huge fan of the 'no dig' philosophy so have been putting this into practice on my totally overgrown veg patch.  Rather than try to tackle everything which is pretty impossible at the moment, I wanted to get at least two little plots ready for planting.  I covered the ground with cardboard to suppress the weeds then put several inches of compost and well rotted manure on top.  The paths around the plot will have cardboard and compost put on them and the rest of the plot will have black garden plastic to suppress the weeds including bindweed until I have the time to work on them.  I am hoping to get another small bed ready for herbs.  The polytunnel has a few weeds and nettles around the edges which I can easily deal with then cover the rest with compost and manure ready for my tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, courgettes etc.  This will mean a lot of lugging barrow loads around but I will do as much as I can each day.  In the mean time I have planted some early potatoes in bags and buckets in the poly.


I have started to put cardboard around the beds, but ran out!  These will be covered with compost.

Fleece covering the first bed.

Starting some early potatoes

In the first bed I prepared  I have some garlic growing and recently sowed radishes, kale, chard and shallots which I covered with fleece.   In the second bed I sowed some carrots in a manure free section, ( I read somewhere that they can 'fork' with too much manure) I will be sowing spinach, beans, sweetcorn and pattypans.   I have sown some peppers in a heated propagator so fingers crossed these will make an appearance soon.  





Bindweed everywhere!  I'm sure it will take forever to get rid of it all

It doesn't seem like I've done much, but looking back at the plot when we moved in there is some progress and hopefully we will have some veg to show for the effort in the summer.  The previous owner used it as a dumping ground and had bonfires there to burn all sorts of rubbish before he moved out.




Another bit of progress with the house is the wood burner, i'm chuffed to bits with it. It even has a little oven on the top.  Having a living fire makes all the difference to a room, I love sitting a listening to it crackling away, so relaxing.

I hope you are all keeping well, I will be popping around to visit when I can,

Chickpea xx

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

A little premature?



Last week I put the cucumber and tomato seeds into pots and came down this morning to find them popping up through the soil.  Being a newbie when it comes to starting them from seed I am now thinking I probably started this far too early.  Are they likely to be o.k. or should I get some more seeds to plant later?  Any advice appreciated :)

Chickpea xx

My turn to be trolled





I am afraid I have had a visit from  'anonymous' who is too cowardly to put their name on their sick posts.  It doesn't bother me one jot, I'm used to fighting trolls but I don't want you to have to deal with their pathetic attempts at attention seeking so have put comment moderation on until they get bored or take up one of my suggestions on my last post.

Chickpea xx

Monday, 27 February 2017

Kick me while I'm down why don't you








You know I told you my brain is all over the place at the moment, well the proof popped through the door the other morning.  A speeding ticket!!!!  The first one I have ever had :(  I do vaguely remember driving through a village, completely stressed mind on other things then realising I was going a bit fast, just my luck that a mobile speed camera was lurking there somewhere.  I am the one who always sticks to the limit, often to the annoyance of drivers behind me, and blow me I'm the one with a flipping fine.  I wasn't going very fast but I was over the limit so fair cop.  Of course I haven't changed the address on my driving license so that's a further complication I don't need.

The bearded one has also been ill for the last week with cold/cough combo which has now driven him to his bed, most unlike him.  I am up and down the stairs with food and drink for both him and my son and trying to stay positive.  I have to admit to shedding a few tears this morning.  My mum has been gone 16 years now but I really wanted to have my mum around to look after me.  I need a brake from being the adult, I just want to revert to being the child for a few hours.

Chickpea xx

Monday, 20 February 2017

The Long Road to Recovery





















Our amazing, brave son has undergone major life changing surgery.  After 24 hours on the recovery ward looked after by a lovely nurse he is now back on the general ward starting the long road to recovery.  His strength and determination will get him through this and hopefully he will now have a better quality of life.  We are so very proud of him.

I will keep you updated on him and our new life in the country as much as possible.  Not much to report so far but the solar panels are now on the roof, we are waiting for the poles to the house to be upgraded and for the battery to be fitted.  It will feel so good to be generating our own electricity.  I have also ordered the log burner and am so excited, it even has a tiny oven in the top, ideal for cooking Cornish Pasties :)

I haven't managed to finish all the veg patches but have garlic growing in the one I completed and have potatoes chitting ready to go in.  I have lots of seeds here I'm sure I'm meant to be doing something with but as you can imagine other things have taken priority.  Oh well they will be potted at some stage.  The poly tunnel needs sorting before they can go in anyway, and I need to get some sort of rabbit proof fence sorted.  I'm not intending to open a cafe for rabbits!

I need to find another easy knitting project to take my mind off things, probably another shawl, mindless, repetitive stitching is what is needed at the moment.  Being surrounded by the beauty of nature in our new home also helps sooth the soul during these stressful times.  My mind is all over the place at the moment, I even tried to get out of the hospital car park without paying for the ticket, my brain couldn't comprehend why the barrier wouldn't go up.  Even worse, when I was driving my son to the Emergency Department last week in thick fog I couldn't for the life of me remember how to work the fog lights, now that is bad!

There are half painted walls and half finished projects all over, including a channel dug out of the wall for an electric cable and flaking pink paint in our sons room.  I will warn the nurses that it is a work in progress and the horrible pink walls and carpets everywhere are not our choice.  Our priority now is to keep the house warm and comfortable for him, the titivating can wait.

I hope you are all keeping well my friends, and that life is good to you,

Chickpea xx

Sunday, 15 January 2017

"It's been interesting"






Boxing Day Dawn swim



Going back to work you are greeted by all your colleagues and clients with "how was your Xmas/New Year?"  Of course being British you don't  say "well actually the New Year was pretty crap"  and I'm sure most of them don't really want to know how it was, they are just being polite so I smile and say "it's been interesting" and move on to other subjects.  I will however briefly tell you  lovely readers of the blog that it started well with a good but exhausting Xmas but unfortunately our son became ill between Xmas and the New Year and was admitted to hospital again a few days before New Year and operated on yet again on New Years Day.  He is still staying with us and is still feeling very unwell but trying to stay positive.  There are an awful lot of horrible cold/flu type bugs out there and I'm really worried that he will catch something while he is so vulnerable. It really frustrates me when people insist on coming into work with bugs, they are putting people with compromised immune systems at serious risk.  Please stay home!





We did manage some lovely days over Xmas with all the family staying, long walks and Xmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Day swims in an icy pool.  Spending our first Xmas in our new home was very different from previous years in some ways but the traditional shared meals and board games were all very familiar.  The first thing we have bought for our home is a lovely large table that we can fit everyone around.  It was made by a local family firm at a very reasonable price and put much needed money into the local economy.  That was our Xmas present to ourselves.  I had a couple of books to read but couldn't concentrate enough to read them, I found myself having to re-read the same lines over and over so eventually set them aside in favour of falling asleep on the sofa exhausted while catching up on box sets of The Good Wife (isn't Julianna Margulies just so beautiful)






I did manage to finish the shawl I started just before we moved.  I could't concentrate enough to do the lace edging so crocheted instead and I'm pleased with the result.  I find knitting very therapeutic during times of stress.





I haven't totally stuck with Veganuary but I would say 99.9% of what I am eating has been vegan.  Where I have come unstuck is the odd ingredients in some of my GF food, usually egg.  I haven't eaten any cheese, (I tried the soya cheese which was very weird), nor milk which I don't miss at all.  I think the only thing I miss are eggs which are an easy snack option.   I haven't had much time to experiment with new recipes, but managed Jack Monroes beetburgers which were easy and tasty.  Considering work has been hectic and I have been caring for our son, cooking omni meals for the bearded one, vegetarian for son and gf/vegan for myself and don't think I have done too bad.  




The kiwi fruit in the polytunnel have at last ripened.  I really didn't think they would and if I had the time was going to cut it all back.  Thankfully I didn't and have harvested a few pounds, they are very small but taste delicious.  I have peeled and frozen them for when I have time to make jam.  Has anyone a good kiwi jam recipe?

Sorry it's been such a long time between posts, I hope you are all well, I have missed you all and will hopefully find time to get back into bogland soon.

Chickpea xx