Wednesday, October 22, 2014

wood shed returns

What was for a few months a kitchen and social hub has been withdrawn back to it's original usage of a woodshed in preparation for the expected cold winter months. Today the temperature has noticeably dropped for the first time this Autumn and the stove of heat has been burning since breakfast time in the cottage. Only a few brave leaves remain attached to the branches of the walnut trees, the rest have either been swept away for composting mulch or left to decompose in long sodden grass. 
A visit to the town and the meat shop queue is growing with kilos of pig and cow parts bought for filling the chest freezers in time before the daylight dwindles. 
The 'death board' in the square had a raised count of 4 as the older contingent of the town dressed in dark woollen overcoats huddle round to check on the latest casualties and reflect on past times.
But our dogs soldier on, despite their age and of recently our two week absence back in the UK. When the weather turns they are first to let you know. No weather forecasting required, not long to go before the winter hits our doorstep.  

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Down-sizing

Another Autumn to not dwell on the multitude of tasks that never get done before the sprinkling of snow in the first week of December (the beginning of the winter weather has been the same every year we've been here). 
Slicing wood collected from last year with my blunted chainsaw blade. Filing a chainsaw blade back to anything resembling sharpness is I am finding a very pain-staking task and more often than not I give up and decide to splurt extra effort to slice open the timber. My back is beginning to ache.
Bright September sun has helped to keep our spirit going and carry on bringing the garden plots back to life after a summer of weeds and invading long grass.
Self-seeding marrow and pumpkin plants which had been left to grow in the compost piles have finally been de-fruited and taken out. On reflection maybe we should down-size our cultivation next year. 
Back in the town, little old ladies are still found in the local Tesco store dressed in traditional ware. The 1980's pastel yellow, green or blue Lada/Skoda/Travant waits in the car park with a husband. Summer festival posters are gradually being covered over with 'DJ Fresh' or whoever parties advertising their nights in nearby village halls. A yearly cycle and the town hasn't changed much since the previous warm and sunny September.   
Now with no guests around, our place reverts back to looking like a garage sale. Belongings scattered everywhere either being prepared to sell at our town's second hand shop or online. Our spring clean season to once again try to down-size the things which have not held any use or value to us over the last year or two. Having lived here for more than three years we really should have everything in the right place now.
But it is sometimes difficult to let go.

Friday, September 5, 2014

mushroom cloud

Handled with care, mushrooms on demand. Picked by guests last weekend after endless rain and humidity, perfect sprouting conditions. In fact, judging by the amount of mushroom-picking traffic passing our gate, possibly the best ever since we have lived here. Not that we know much about the edibles and non-edibles, our knowledge fortunately has improved to knowing about a few. But even those few have look-alikes that can fall into the less favourable poisonous varieties. Suffice to say we have survived and enjoyed a breakfast, lunchtime and evening meals with the seasonal delight. And now the sun arrives late for this year's summer, the grass grows to demand another cut and the local farmer realises he has a second chance to cut the surrounding meadow. More guests arrive for a last minute deal and whilst we mellow to our mushroomy vegetarian diet, I smell chicken on the grill. The summer outdoor cuisine is not finished yet.  

Sunday, August 31, 2014

apple pie

Having fought off the pro-caterpillar rebel forces earlier in the year we are left with enough apples to make tasty pies into the winter months. And now just waiting for the sun to shine again before the full scale harvest assault of picking begins. We had been saddened by the pro-caterpillar gains on the leaves of the plum trees despite all our ultimatums. So all the cakes, jams and syrups from the apples is a nice conclusion to all the sanctions we had to impose in the orchard at Havran Cottage. What significant further steps we need to take for the future is still undecided. But in light of what illegal border crossings these pro-caterpillar rebel forces took (with possible outer perimeter support) we know that next year we will have to act much more quickly in order to prevent another difficult fruit growing season. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

cash till lady no.4

Another week of absurdity of grass cutting whilst monitoring a thunderstorm that circulates above. Racing along each strip  which is still saturated from the previous thunderstorm and deluge of rain. Reminders of long ago childhood wet summer holiday trips to North Wales, the weather is a predominant conversation topic with guests at the moment. Inaccurate Internet forecasts are not helping, much better to just look out of the window and hope for the best. 
Our favourite cash till lady at the local supermarket is always a source of entertainment to brighten up any day though. Her dour almost zombie-like face to welcome your arrival at cash till number four. The coop supermarket has this interesting number system on the trolleys where you have to tell the cashier what number your trolley is before any products and food are passed through the scanner. We've never been sure whether trolleys obtain points for this and when it is the end of the week the trolley with the most points has some time off the following week! That might explain why there is such a random selection of numbers on the trolleys of between 1 and 106 and that some trolleys don't come back from their weeks off. Anyway back to the lady on cash till number 4. On our last occasion there we had paid up, had the receipt thrown at us as usual along with change scattered everywhere (never expect change into the palm of your hand even if it is in front of their face, no skin contact please..). We noticed that a bakery product in a green sticker bag (half price tag) had mistakenly (or intentionally) been priced at full value on our receipt. Back into the store and cash till number 4 to get some change back, but what a fuss! She wasn't prepared to offer anything back as I had already had a bite from a half price bakery cake. And it will show up on the cashier's record as a mistake. But her face didn't change, as she pressed some coded buttons on the till. Without uttering a word or apology, outstanding amount of change once again thrown just within our reach, we were cast aside as the next customer's weekly shop began being passed through the scanner once more. Welcome to cash till number 4 lady at Coop.   

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mouths to feed

Eating a delicious sheep cheese sandwich (thank you Camping Lazy...) and thinking that a blog entry hasn't been written for ages! But with new arrivals coming to stay every week here we are being kept very occupied. 
And that's not just guests. Mici has brought her kindle of kittens (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_collective_nouns_in_English) home from the woodlands under the collective stare of our dogs. For our younger guests at the cottage it is another source of entertainment. 
More hungry mouths to feed (the kittens that is) could have put more of a strain on our shopping bill but we are learning to become more inventive as to what to feed our pets in a cost efficient way. Plus there more scraps from the plates of us humans here, nothing gets wasted we like to think. 
So it's back in the garden this week after a couple of months of neglect in the sleeping vegetable patch. Jungle-height weeds aplenty to be pulled out and left to rot down or burn't in the Autumn. Unfortunately a self-hidden hosepipe got stabbed the other day from a stray swing with the garden fork, extending the list of repair jobs. Another of these is our dripping tap in the kitchen which is getting on my nerves. Like a clock ticking away as the drops fall onto an unwashed plate. But it serves to remind me to stay busy and not to stray into arguments on facebook trivia whilst writing a blog entry!  

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

mixing colours

With manly chainsaws still buzzing in the woodlands I'm left to finish off a dark shade of pink paint in our vintage trailer. The 10 metre stack of wood, which has been outside our gate since last Autumn, is a constant reminder that I still have to fire the Stihl engine to clear ours before the meadow grass completely camouflages it.
But trailer painting is the current occupation, with all shades of the spectrum mixed and constantly debated on what combines with what. And now that we have a near completion on the inside, the time is right to finally display rustic bits and pieces that we have collected and have been gathering dust in our outbuilding since we first moved here. A huge task to pull everything out and everytime we do so it looks like the day when we first arrived here with stuff sprayed out on the grass in front of our gate. 
Rain has now gone away and the sun has risen the summer temperature to what we are used to. Predictably the mower decides to splutter instead of run as soon as the grass feels dry. Fortunately only a spark plug issue again, but they should be lasting longer than this?! A day of cutting awaits before attacking the jungle surrounding half the vegetable garden. Then a long June evening to be spent painting the exterior of the trailer, paint colour still to be confimed!