Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Birthday Wish

My Birthday is Monday.  That gives you three days to bake, decorate and create the above.  Come on friends and relatives, make my birthday dream come true!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Pagoda Building - Day One

The next stage of raising the beds in the garden was to do the area outside the barn.  There is going to be a step from the 'garden' up to the path outside the barn.  That plan was to have some kind of arch over this step.  When I spoke to Tash about how she wanted it done (with a flat topped or pointy topped arch) we decided to turn the arch into a small pagoda which will give us something to run the vine up and over the entire length of the barn.  With us needing a new gate, and me planning space to keep gardening tools as well as addition wood storage this proved to be a solution that should meet all needs.

So last weekend I set aside as a 'bus weekend' and decided to spend the Saturday working in the garden.  I am clearing the loft of the barn out at the moment and there is LOADS of 2"x2" wood I need to get rid of.  Now its slightly smaller wood than I'd ideally use, but as its free it fits in with our 'make use of what we have' approach to life.

Here's how it all looked at the start of the day.

I needed to run out and grab some postcrete and screws and so painted the ends of some of the wood to give them a little protection once they are in the ground.

My first job was to square up and remove the post that I had previously put in place outside the barn.  This didn't follow the lines that the start of the pagoda would take.
And very quickly I was shouting and swearing at cheap tools!

First upright went in place, and was secured against the barn wall.  The scaffold plank was then resecured against this.

Then the next upright went in.

And then postcreted the other upright in place, and managed to get a horizonal fixed to see how it all looked.  Thankfully it all looks pretty good, cos the wood is SUPER wonky. It makes it kinda cool, and gives it character, but its a right P.I.T.A to take measurements from!

And then the second section went up.

And then the third.

And thats where things were left.  I've got two sections left to erect, then join them together, make the new gate and sort the tool/log storage.

The forecast for this weekend looks somewhat suspect, but I'm preying its good enough for me to pretty much finish off the pagoda section.

And then Sunday came, and I did get a day spent on the Bus.  You can read about that here if you want.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Pay Peanuts, Get Monkeys

And clearly we must be monkeys, as this is our fruit bowl!

Now Alfie loves bananas, and as a result we order them from Abel & Cole each week in addition to our weekly fruit and veg box.  Of course sometimes bananas are included in the box too.  But thats OK, we can get through a lot of bananas in this house!

There only comes a problem when Fred and Lyd visit and bring with them a hundred weight of bananas too!

Really its not a problem as once they become a little over ripe they are perfect to freeze and then make into smoothies (Nigella has a recipe thats a perfect hangover cure!)

However with no space in our fruit bowl I needed to do something to reduce our numbers.  I make a chocolate orange cake pretty much every week, but with so many bananas I decided to hunt out a banana loaf cake recipe.

The full recipe is here, but heres a summary of the ingrendients.  Hmmm vanilla, always a winner!
  • 225g self-raising flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 100g chilled butter, cut into pieces
  • 100g light muscovado sugar
  • 2 medium eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 400g ripe bananas (weighed with skins)
  • 1-2 tbsp milk

I was missing light muscovado sugar and so had to make do with light brown sugar, and next time I would check it at 45min instead of 55 mins. This is how it turned out though.

Its very nice.  Though I have to be honest, I do prefer chocolate orange cake.

Not to worry though, cos Tash then pointed out her Mum and Dad brought oranges too!  And of course we already had some in the bowl, AND Abel & Cole delivered some this week!

Guess what I'm making today!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Blustery Bradwell

Last weekend I disappeared for a day down to Essex.  Bill and I had scheduled in a day to get started with my bug some weeks before, and now it was time to get cracking!  We knew it wouldn't take long and so I set off early so we could be done asap ... hoping to have time for a fish!

We were all done by lunchtime - my other blog is updated with those developments, just click here to read how we got on with the car.

Bill and I had been speaking during the week, and it became clear we had no chance of getting out on the boat.  We were forecast some fairly windy conditions, and it was clear the sea would be awful.  On the plus side it looked like the wind was in the right direction for a productive session at Bradwell, and he has a fishing shelter so we figured it would all be good.

High tide was dude at something like 2am, so we planned to get our jobs done in the morning then spend an afternoon getting ready, and hit the beach late in the day so the tide came towards us.  What actually happened was that we were so efficient we had my bug done, Tasha's Skoda service done, and a new super sticky tyre fitted on Bills Seat Leon by early afternoon.  We even enjoyed lunch and a pint in the local pub. 

A few hours were spent in the afternoon getting tackle and bait together, followed by an early evening meal. Linz clearly wanted us out the way [;o)] as we were packed off with a flask of coffee and a foil parcel of bacon butties by 6:30pm.  Arriving at Bradwell we realised it was windy.  Very windy.  Time was on our side though, and with high tide still 5 hours away we were in no rush to cast out.  And so we set up the fishing shelter, which thankfully has little flaps sewn in the bottom which you can load up to hold it down. 

For those that don't know, Bradwell is a shingle beach.  This proved something of a problem, as it proved awfully hard to bury the legs of the shelter, and then weigh down the flaps.  With the use of some handy rocks we felt like everything was going to stay in one place and settled down to enjoy a cup of coffee and a cigarette whilst waiting for the tide to come to us.

By 8 o clock we were desperate to get fishing, and so ventured out of the security of the fishing shelter to get set up.  I had a little play with the camera, but this was the best shot I managed to grab.

Having cast out, with line bowing across the beach, we retired to the shelter convinced the wind was picking up.  Another coffee was poured, cigarette smoked, ... and we realised the shelter seemed somewhat smaller.  Basically the wind was so strong it was pushing the side panels into the shelter.  This in turn was pushing the shelter into itself, making it smaller.  As we looked up it was clear to see the entrance being concertina'd shut. 

We checked and changed bait a few times, but by 9pm it was becoming clear we had to do something about the shelter.  We were literally sitting on top of each other by now.  And so we tried digging trenches, sinking the flaps, and getting everything weighed down again.

In hindsight I think we would say that our efforts were not especially successful.  Within 15 minutes or so we had decided that the shelter, which by now was showing signs of being more like a kite than shelter, should be manned at all times.  As we were sat there, saying how we wouldn't rather be anywhere else, with no warning at all the shelter tried to disappear down the Bradwell shingle.  Bill went flying backwards, I dived forwards, and somehow the shelter stayed within the Essex county boundary.

This signalled the end of our fishing session, and as I held the shelter down Bill packed the rods away.  Kinda reminded me of the time I fell in the lake when we first went fishing together all those years ago!  Except I wasn't freezing my butt off in a tent held up with spare fishing rods this time!

Bizarrely, it was fun.  But I think I would advise against fishing in 40?/50?/60? MPH winds!

Oh, and we didn't catch.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

The Tale of Colds, Black Eyes, and Nutella!

Before I begin this little tale there a few things you need to bear in mind when reading. a) Alfie has had a cold recently and b) as most of you know, I very much have a "if all limbs are still attached then he must be fine" approach to parenthood.

The aforementioned cold has made Alfie slightly grumpy recently, and also seems to have removed a large % of his co-ordination.  So when I heard CRASH, BANG, GRIZZLE yesterday morning I peeped my head round from the kitchen (where I was making breakfast) to see Alfie on all 4's next to his walker.  All limbs attached?  Yup.  So I left him to it, and within a few moments he seemed fine.

Mr Tumble kept him amused while he enjoyed his peanut butter on toast (I SWEAR he's no child of mine sometimes!), and when he made it clear he was done and wanted to play some more I went to free him from his harness.  I was greeted by a little boy who I swear could be mistaken for being allergic to nuts, highchairs and cheerful special clowns!  His left eye was fast doing a disappearing act, and his right one seemed to be coming out in sympathy!  "Perhaps he did more than just fall over" I thought to myself as I did my best to smile at the disease ridden rugrat as I picked him up.
Still, in typical Alfie fashion he didnt care one bit, and come lunch time he was over his cold and eating his weight in roasted carrot and beetroot soup (once more with the "I swear he's not my child sometimes" thoughts!).

Having eaten well, and feeling slightly guilty that my son kinda resembled this weekends Superbowl pig skin, I offered him nutella on toast for 'dessert'.

Here's Alfie and his eye (thankfully looking SO much better by 3pm!).  Clearly enjoying nutella on toast!

And pointed out he had one spare, and wondered if I'd like to have it?

But found something amusing?

And the cheeky little blighter nabbed it away before I had chance to grab it!

So i decided to exlain the benefits of sharing.  To which he decided to make his second slice of toast completely unshareable!

Followed by a face of "what, I didn't do anything, I'm too cute"

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Alfie Takes A Nap - World In Shock!

Just a quick update. We got hold of Alfie's proper little boys bed recently (which I think I've already blogged about) and had been meaning to get a good photo since then.

Well I just had the ideal opportunity! He's been a little under the weather recently, and he was shattered this afternoon ... so shattered that when I put him in his bed he didn't moan or grumble and just drifting into sleepsville (accompanied by a few coughs and slutters). He rarely naps without some kinda fuss, and NEVER naps in his bed.  Poor fella MUST be feeling rough! 

It did however give me the confidence to creep in his room and not fear waking him up.  Apologies for them being slightly blurred, I was attempting to balance on the arms of an armchair whilst not letting them creak ... or fall off!