Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Mad about cats.... or just plain mad..You decide

Fellas, I feel this gal needs a boyfriend, or at the very least, to get out more. Mind you, it sure brightened my day and I do LOVE cats.

[If you can't see the embedded video, click on the blue title of this post, you will be transported to the Internet where all will be revealed.... It's a great song to hum all day.... hmmmm.]


Wednesday, 25 January 2012

On with the year.....

Was that it, winter I mean? There are snowdrops everywhere, the dafs are appearing and my indoor Hyacinth are dying back. Inside my greenhouse I've cut back the sweet pea yet again and I counted them.... lots! 

I made Coq au Vin today. Never before had I considered jointing a bird for this purpose, normally I would just buy the specific pieces I needed. Now that I have a few birds in the freezer I decided to try to do it myself. 

It was a doddle, I watched this clip on my laptop http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/techniques/jointing butchering my bird alongside the chef's. I paused the computer occasionally in order to catch up,..... such a shame you can't do that in real life! 

Then I popped over to Delia Smith for my recipe, Chicken with onions, garlic, red wine, and salty streaky bacon. Delicious. Et voila, dinner was in the oven. I'll let you know how it tasted later this week.... 

The decorating continues, we're not finished yet but we are getting there. What do you think?


During.... Terracotta for all cupboards.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012


We are no further with the decorating, life has whizzed passed and we are living in upside down world where dishes, pots, pans etc are secreted in every place in the house, other than the place they ought to live - the kitchen. At least the dust has settled and I'm sure by the 15th wash-down, it will be safe enough to begin our painting.

The roosters have gone.... can't quite tell you where, for fear of exposing myself to recrimination from the sproglets. For now, let's just say they went to the poultry auction.....

The cold has finally arrived and I have been forced, on three nights, to light my paraffin heater in the green house. So far, the plants look fine and I ventilate the space well when I can. It's these chilly days when I sit in my office and write and edit and edit and write, that I want tea and hot buttered toast and stew and potatoes and very possibly Coq au Vin! I'll have to check my freezer for good ingredients!

A new cat has appeared on the site. He looks very like Tabby or Benny and from a distance we thought it was one of our boys. But this one is tubby. He's really friendly and I can't believe he doesn't belong to someone. For now he's content to sleep with the horses in the stables, though he has politely asked to come indoors and soon I feel sure he will suss the cat-flap. I'm not against him adopting us really, I just don't want Tabby or Benny to leave home because of him. We'll see what happens.

The 9yo has been petitioning for lambs and while there is a stable we can use to house some cades, (orphans we'll raise by bottle,) our fences are only good for corralling bigger beasts. What. To. Do? I suppose it electric fencing, but this is a whole new foray for us. The farmers around here have all raised cades and they tell me 'NO, DON'T DO IT!'

Then again, that means that they've done it and have had that experience. I'm pleading the Doubting Thomas card on this one, basically I've got to see how bad an experience it is for myself.

IF we do get 2 cades, one for the 9yo, one for the 7yo, they'll be long-term pets, raised as lawn mowers...... hmmmm, we'll see.

This morning I was reminding the sprogs about rehearsing guitar for their Thursday lesson. I've constructed quite a good rewards chart on a white-board in the kitchen (covered in dust!) and have displayed pretty decent prizes in the glass cabinet of the Welsh dresser. A friend remarked that this was like an elaborate arcade game and she's quite right. With 7 points the sprogs get to choose a prize. This morning the 9yo won a bottle of mouth wash. Don't mock! Whatever floats their boat is in that dresser.

Guitar practise is one of the steps in my incentive programme........ I'm sure I did something similar to car dealers when I worked for Nissan a zillion years ago!

'Don't forget guitar tonight,' said I. 'You've got to learn the new tune you've been given by Thursday, so's your teacher can test you.'

There were groans from the back seat as we drove to school this morning.

'We'll check out your tune on the Internet again,' I said to the boy. 'So that we can try to remember how it goes, as I just don't know it.'

It's easy for me when they get set a tune like Jingle Bells or Twinkle Twinkle, I know those tunes and can hum along, but this new one La Bergamasca, though sweet, is new to me and I can't quite fix it in my head. Therefore can't tell if they are playing the correct notes or not but it's great to see and hear it being played online.

'How old are you mummy?' Boy asked.

I smiled, clever ruse really, trying to change the subject.

'I'm 46 but I want you to tell everyone that I'm 43.' I replied.



'OK,' he said. 'But if you're 46 you should know the tune. Mr Burgess, [the guitar teacher,] said it was a really old tune and as you're really old, you should know it.'

'Good point,' said I. Sob..... that's not S.O.B....just sob! sniff.

Monday, 9 January 2012


It's Spring, isn't it? Honest it's as calm as you like today and 12°. In the green house my sweet pea have gone bonkers and I've had to snip them back in an effort to curtail their leggyness.

The sprogs have finally gone back to school, I weigh the same as a sumo wrestler and 5 roosters' are heading to the processing plant in the sky.... Plus on Saturday I shall "celebrate" (humph!) my birthday. I shall be 40-something-or-other... mumble, mumble....

After a month of school holidays the babies are back to desk work. Can't moan really, (or can I?) The weather has been fab and we've managed walks and bike rides. The only snow we glimpsed was brief... hours, not days and even the fields aren't too muddy. The real torture has just been the guitar practise, not the moaning about doing it, that's been fine. The torture is that neither I nor the hubby know how to tune a guitar and the last week I hardly recognise Jingle Bells. Fortunately this morning a kind teacher took the offending instrument from me and I look forward to tuneful practise ce soir.

The holidays gave us time to tweak the gardens. We've seriously cut back the apple trees and have started on the pears. We'd already attacked the plums after picking the fruit in the summer. Next year may be a lean year, with the amount of pruning we've done,... but the year after that I expect a bumper crop.

The other project we've finally begun is indoors... After months of deliberation we decided to start on the decor in the kitchen. In July 2010.... So long ago, I wrote a post asking for suggestions as to what part of the house to tackle first. It's so funny now looking back at the pictures of the house devoid of our clutter. Click here to see naked pics of the house!!  We'll, 18 months later and we have finally begun.

Hubby has sanded the woodwork; 3 oak internal doors, 1 external stable door, two windows comprising 33 framed panels of glass. Acres of tall skirting board and the delightfully coloured, (red and vomit green,) cupboards and dresser. The cupboards in particular have created a fine dust that has settled not just in the kitchen, but everywhere and I mean, everywhere in the house.

My job is next; I must wash down with sugar-soap before He-who-must-be-obeyed (no, not Voldemort silly,) begins to undercoat the wood.

After that I'm on duty again to paint the ceiling, walls and chimney feature. Thanks to previous misdemeanours I'm banned from painting any wood. EVER.

We've chosen a subtle terracotta for the walls, a warm glow in a tough wipe-over paint and a more punchy terracotta for the cupboards. The ceiling is the dreaded magnolia because this blends better with the warmth of the walls than stark white. The chimney feature will change from purple, (shame, I know..... ) to soft grey and charcoal. I painted a match pot of the grey in the picture above and I think it sets off the tiles nicely. I just need to find a piece of art for the space above the wooden beam.

Hopefully we'll be finished by close of January.

Sitting room next I think...... all opinion gratefully accepted.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Ruining Lives....

Have you ever ruined someone's life? Apparently I have. Fact is I'm doing it right now. Though I'd like to join the witness protection programme and rat on various friends and relatives who are equally responsible....

We're sitting in the kitchen, the 9yo, the 7yo and I. While the 9yo is resigned to her fate, embraces it really, the 7yo is huffing and puffing like the Hogwarts Express...

He is pained and beyond consolation. There is groaning, moaning and he repeatedly drops his head into his hands. Soon there will be tears.... Yes, you've guessed it; it's thank you letter writing time.

So distraught is he that he has strongly suggested that EVERYONE should desist from buying him gifts next year, so as to spare him this torture.

Dear Santa.... I soooo hope you subscribe to The Archers at The Larches....

Must off, got to get a box of tissues.... and maybe a lovely leftover pre-dinner Christmas Snowball (with double snow!).........

The Archers at The Larches

Lou - Chicken whisperer....

Lou - Chicken whisperer....

Snowy and Moon

Snowy and Moon