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frogspawn 2017

The frog love in has been successful once more. This is the earliest to date, in the same pond, although only by one day:

2007 14/2
2008 8/2
2009 13/3
2010 21/3
2011 26/2
2012 25/2
2013 9/3
2014 18/2
2015 20/2
2016 02/2
2017 01/02

I really should do a graph some time..

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and then…

…it all went wrong.

The day after my last post, the one with the happy family scene with frog biscuits… we lost himself.  Colin.

It’s been over seven months now. Please don’t think I am now ok. I don’t believe I will ever be ok, I’m just not going to talk about it here.  (I am talking about it elsewhere, and if you really want to know how that’s going, then drop me a message and I will give you a link)

So now, life is changing dramatically, and I don’t know which way we are going, and amongst everything else,  I pondered the blog and whether it was time to delete it.

But then something happened…someone (no one I know)  pinned a picture of mine on pinterest and it was this one14752907657_c85a71c5aa_c and when I clicked on it, and read the blog post it relates to, its just an ordinary day in August 2014, when we went to the beach.  A snapshot of our life.

And it struck me then, that it was brilliant. Our life was brilliant.

Other people climb mountains or visit iconic sites, but for us the adventure was  being self sufficient, self reliant… the journey was about learning new skills, the pleasure was having done it ourselves. We took time to enjoy the smaller but beautiful things, like breakfast on a sunny beach, a bonfire on a winters day, a home grown meal, watching shooting stars  lying on the loungers in the dark night garden, picking up beach glass……

but mostly…time…we took a lot of time to be together. I know that not everyone will understand, and I don’t care, because we did. We got it.

 

So no.. I’m not going to delete the blog , I’m going to leave it in place, holding the images and chatterings of  some of our time. And by and by I shall add to it; more of what we started.

 

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leap year food

leap frog biscuits I’ve been researching, and the only leap year specific food I found was a South African pudding that looks suspiciously like queen of puddings, renamed.  What’s that all about? a once every four year day, and nothing special to celebrate it?  Well, what we say in this family is, if there isn’t a tradition in place that you like, make your own.  And so I give you:

leap day biscuits 

(A.K.A.  fennel shortbread)

225g salted butter

110g sugar

225g plain flour

110g corn flour

1 heaped teaspoon fennel seeds

green food colouring (optional)

Preheat the oven to 170 C/ 150 C Fan Prep some baking sheets with baking paper or the like

Cream the butter and sugar together and add the food colouring if using – I used 1 tsp of green and they only came out with a hint of green after baking, but I probably would just leave it out next time.

Add in the flours and fennel, mixing until you have a ball of dough. Roll out on a floured surface and cut out the shapes you desire. – I went for frogs because.. you know.. they leap?
besides which cutting out frogs means you can have something as mad as a box of frogs.

 

Bake for 15- 20 minuits. Allow to cool a little then finish of on a drying rack.

We shall have this biscuits after our main course of toad in the hole. More leap-minded food.

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It’s such a slow, ongoing process, this home improvement thing,  particularly with other calls on our time – namely the sheep and chickens, work, wanting to go out cycling and other jollies, and dealing with serious health issues (himself – stable now).  However we have now made a bit more progress in our kitchen – the previously blanchmange pink alcove (was it a window or a chimney?) is now a mostly white alcove, sporting a new bespoke (we made it) free standing unit with reclaimed wood counter.

 

No mean feat.  The alcove had a huge layer of cement and many, many coats of gloss paint on it, all designed to hide the water feature behind…  The incredible damp was dried out, the mud removed and  the stonework repointed, the original brick hearth was found – yes it was a chimney – the original one we assume since the kitchen has another one, complete with the remains of a (sort of ) filled in bread oven, and a lot of soot. The chimney had to be insulated and capped off  – more so than the previous owners efforts with a plank and a bit of fibreboard (no wonder there were so many drafts).

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a delicious combo of horrid pink and horrid damp

 

We had a bit of a break then, re the health issues and a think about what we are doing, decided we like what we are doing, and picked up home improving again.

Just before Christmas the aforementioned water feature made an appearance.  It turns out if the gutter becomes blocked, the rainwater overflows and pours directly into our house wall – the walls being somewhat not straight – and the water turns up as a mini waterfall in the kitchen at the back of the alcove – hence the slight yellowing of the clay paint.  This has been going on for decades, hidden behind the cement and gloss paint barrier.  So we shall solve this problem from the outside and repaint then.

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reclaimed wood, diverted from the log pile

And now we have a nice open fronted unit – open so the damp can continue to dry out, and I have put my nicer pans there (the more disgraceful ones can hide in a cupboard). I love the counter – made from reclaimed wood from a packing crate.  It looks shiny as I have just treated it with Danish oil, with built in wood stain.

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frogspawn

Looking through the years of recording, this is the earliest yet – which makes sense since it has been such a mild (and wet) winter. I hope they haven’t leapt in (see what I did there? ) too soon.

The records:
2007 14/2
2008 8/2
2009 13/3
2010 21/3
2011 26/2
2012 25/2
2013 9/3
2014 18/2
2015 20/2
2016 2/2

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Cotehele flower garland

Untitled We went to visit Cotehele Estate today – a favourite place in the summer with its quay and mill and old house, with amazing kitchens, but in winter it is largely shut down, and for a lesser fee you can visit the gardens and the tea rooms (!) and go and look at the long long flower garland they put up every winter. For the first time, we remembered to go and see it Untitled
I didn’t realise just how vibrant it would be, dried flowers are, in my mind, beige. But this was just beautiful. All grown on the estate.

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scilly pictures again

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