Monday, October 27, 2014

Bug Hotel

I have always wanted to make a bug hotel ever since I saw the all singing, all dancing one at my Montessori nursery. It was made from old pallets and even had a felted sloping roof - very high spec!
They had even had a lovely sign made that read Bug Hotel!

  Not too dissimilar to this!

Now my children are no longer little I didn't really see the point of something elaborate and huge for them to ooh and aah over because, believe you and me, it took enough bribes this morning to get the girls outside to even help me, so I don't think it'll be a thing of great interest to them. With the realisation that it's only going to serve its purpose, I figured that it should be bug sized really and the pallets we're accumulating with the build, would be better served in the chicken run enabling the chooks to get off the ground when it's particularly muddy!

A quick visit to our local reclaim yard and a rummage in the skip currently sitting in the drive, I found suitable 'rooms' for our clientele.

An hour later and 'ta da'! Critter Chalet available for rent!!!

It is only small and fits into the wilder part of the garden perfectly. It cost a grand total of £10 to make (well, if you rule out the hot chocolates it cost me to bribe the girls to go to the park to gather some nuts and conkers!!) I think we still need to add some more bamboo canes which I'll do once I find the saw (goddam this build!) and the hedgehog house to the right in the picture also needs more doing to it as I feel it could be open to unwanted visitors (ie foxes) if I leave the entrance quite so exposed.

Oh and, as promised, our new fencing that now surrounds the bees and gives us better access to our allotment. Now I just have to convince Mr Beehive that when we re do the fencing beside the new garage, that this is 'totally' the look we're after!!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Five children and IT!

Well, that's it! The clocks have gone back and we're officially into the darker nights again.

I think this is always my indicator to pick up the knitting again, or rather a sharp hefty kick up the bum to finish off all those WIPs in order for my actual 'children' to benefit from wearing them rather than my 'grandchildren' one day!

Tiny Tea Leaves cardi by Madeline Tosh

It's half term this week and I've become mother to five for the first part of this week as my sister and her husband have taken a trip to Marrakech (not envious really!)

We're very lucky that the cousins get on so well and, aside from a few teething problems initially when we realise that five IS actually an odd number, they tend to disappear only to reappear when they're hungry (which, with five mouths, one of whom is a teen, two further of whom are growing boys and the third and fourth...well they suffer from FOMO*, I seem to see them constantly or, am made aware of their presence with a rustling of one or other in a cupboard or the drone of 'I'm hunnnnggggreeee'!)

Of course, there is one slight problem now they are five and that is we downsized the car last time so I am unable to fit all five in these days. This, on the otherhand, works out in the teen's favour as he gets to stay home with the WiFi whilst I take the rest out to burn energy and get much needed fresh air tomorrow! Then we're taking them to our local for the two for one burger night...with the threat hanging over that five is STILL an odd number, so if they don't! It's incredible how well they're doing so far...rooms are immaculate!

The garage, on the otherhand is a little less immaculate, but it's still beginning to come together.

My sis is also having work done on her house at the moment and, whilst she is such an organiser, it will come as a shock to you that I am very good at finding a big pile of sand in which to bury my head (and believe me, there is an enormous pile to cater to my ostrich like abilities on my drive at the moment!)
She has notebooks with drawings and costings and catalogue page numbers for showers and taps. I seem to be suffering from cannaebearsedness at the moment because the catalogues are making my head hurt!

I have managed to buy a woodburning stove to go in the new room, nice eh?

So if we have nothing else, we'll be warm, oh and I did extend my forward planning to a toilet roll holder. I have my priorities right at least! I do need to start thinking about flooring and wall covering/colours, kitchen cupboards, sinks...sand...sand...sand.

Maybe as those dark nights draw in further still, I'll finish this cardigan and turn my attention to some of those catalogues...I can hear them yelling at me from inside the drawers they've been stuffed in!

*FOMO: Fear of Missing Out

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A birthday celebration

Today we have returned from celebrations with my mum, dad and sister and her children as my mum turned 70 years young earlier this week.

We had a lovely day just the 11 of us and I think she felt suitably spoilt
 We had clubbed together to buy her a new camera and we also bought her a lovely alpaca shawl from the alpacas in the village...well, every 70 year old needs a nice shawl to keep them warm in the draughty evenings right?

Our garage/studio is going up quite fast now that the brickwork has started, however I'm not sure that the weather is going to be on our side this week, it's looking pretty grim. The weather has always been something of a fascination to Mr Beehive, but he has become close to obsessed these days with plenty of 'shhhh' and 'hang on a mo, it's the weather' taking precedent in case it stops play the following day. I am also becoming an avid weather watcher in order to know exactly how much newspaper I will need to put down on the floor each morning to attempt to prevent paw shaped footprints, children shaped shoe prints and adult shaped boot prints decorating the kitchen floor. I will be happy once the build is done (I'm sure I've said that already).

We also had a beautiful cleftwood fence put in on Friday. We have been needing to put something a little securer than a plastic 5 inch high fence that we currently had, around the bees. I found a local company who use local wood and it's created by using an axe rather than sawing, so you end up with a far more natural look. I haven't yet taken a photo of it, but it looks similar to this:

I absolutely love it. We were given permission to replace the old broken gate through to the allotment, so we now have our own entrance/exit through to our piece of extended land ;-) This is obviously good fortune as today I discovered that we had 3 butternut, 4 pattypan and 2 acorn squashes to bring back as well as two HUGE pumpkins that we're going to need to take the wheelbarrow round to bring back, lucky we now have a little secret garden gate to cut the 'long' journey down a bit!

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Turkish Delight

One month in and I'm still here and still smiling, most days.

Of course, things are hotting up in many fronts: Harvest at home, harvest at school, Christmas to plan for (at school...not at home yet).

Mr Beehive and I had a glorious 72 hours in Istanbul only 2 weekends ago. I can't believe really that on Monday morning we were drinking turkish coffee in the bazaar in Istanbul, 24 hours later I was in front of the class as if nothing had happened.

We were a little down on our luck with the weather, sadly having two out of the three days with rain. But, not to completely wash us out, the final day was beautiful.
We walked for miles over the course of the weekend, drank far more coffee than we normally would, travelled by tram with our faces in other people's ampits (if you think the tube is bad in rush hour...welcome to Istanbul, probably one of the most crowded cities in the world!) developed a taste for 'proper' turkish delight and sat on the edge of the Bosphorus in the glow of the bridges lit up, for dinner. We both agreed that a weekend is simply not enough time to explore Istanbul and we hope to come back here again someday.

Then of course we were back to normality.

The barn is now down...the mess is still there and there is a very small amount of brick work that is now up. Sod's law has had us with a beautiful September and October, of course, the minute we have arrived at brick laying, the rain descends and stops play. We are desperately hoping to have it into some kind of liveable space by Christmas, but I think we're going to have to see what life brings.

We have lit our first fire of the season too. Master Beehive the elder brought a supply of logs in to fill the two baskets last weekend and both Sunday and Monday we resorted to lighting the fire. Sometimes it's not necessarily that it's too cold, it can just be that it's too dreary and grey and there is nothing better than watching the flames lick at the inside of the stove door to warm both mind and soul.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

One, Two, Three - JUMP!!!

I am a swan, I am a swan, I am a swan

We've returned to term by hitting the ground running this year. Most of it, I'm okay with, some of it I'm a bit like a rabbit in the headlights, less wondering which way to run, but more thinking I could do with a lift!

I've started a new job. Only part time, well, that was the plan.

But there was another job, but only part time too.

Oh and then a few new pupils dropped by...

And, there's the planning which, if you're part time, does have a sneaking tendency to eat into your 'officially not working' days.

Job number 1 is a 'start from scratch' kind of job. There is no scheme, there are no resources, there's little money, there was a room, then there wasn't, there was a desk, but this soon became just a table, there is no swingy chair with wheels...and the coffee is instant!! But, it's fun to be 'in charge' of my own little department...which, truly is probably just a dept ;-) Ofsted are looming around the corner, you can see the shadows out of the corner of your eye, but I'm sure it'll be okay, if it's not, I will laminate them...I'm good at that at the moment!

The eldest has started his GCSE's. Which translates as him needing to carry around more weight in files than an EasyJet baggage allowance on a daily basis and there being 'no possible way' he can carry less or leave it in his locker, therefore I'm now putting part of my part time work salary into an ongoing physiotherapy fund for his later years! Why do kids insist on this???

Number two son has decided he wants to become an army cadet after scouts. Hmmm, okaaaaay I whine, it'll be okay. He loves being outdoors, he loves making things and pretending any garden cane or piece of wood is a samuri sword. He'll be fine with a gun in his hand. No really, he will be fine with that. I may not be. However, there is the lure that 'within the first couple of weeks' his bedroom will be ship shape and his clothes all hung up, so I'm happy to pay the subs just for that part of the deal!

The littlest is working through some post viral shit at the moment, which is proving quite hard and I am not going to put much of that on here, suffice to say, prognosis is good, but slow and we're on an exhausting steep learning curve.

And then there is the mess! Oh hell yeah, the mess.

The barn has gone! Quite literally today. I left for work and it was nearly all still there...minus the roof. I came home and it had been bulldozed and there is a vast, empty, intimidating SPACE!

My clematis is very grey from the dust. My fence, to keep in my stupid and incredibly over amorous labrador, is made from orange plastic and very wobbly and very dusty. There is glass in the driveway and I don't know how I will turn the car around tomorrow without needing to remove half a ton of gravel beforehand or risking a puncture. There is a very large hole in the patio and an even bigger one out on the drive.  My aforementioned stupid labrador keeps coming indoors with a piece of drainpipe in her mouth to play fetch with and likes to leave that and other much smaller pieces of plastic and metal on the floor for me to step on. My language turns the air blue ...this is NOTHING to lego, I laugh in the FACE of lego!

The other dog is trying hard to resemble a womble these days. The steroids have made her slightly rotund and her hair likes to grow...a lot. I spend many occasions covered in dog hair whilst she lies on the floor with her legs akimbo letting me attack her with a less than useless dog trimmer. I resort to a pair of children's scissors because, despite owning hairdressing scissors and sewing scissors and paper scissors and kitchen scissors and some regular cut anything you like scissors, there are NONE to be found. I resort to a pair of semi blunt kids scissors and hack. She's not going to look any crazier than she did before, only she'll be a lot cooler (in the temperature sense of the word rather than the 'down wiv da spaniels' sense of the word!) and able to see. So now my patio is covered with a perpetual layer of dog fluff.

There is metal...a lot of metal...and dust, I'm sure I mentioned the dust. I have strange men coming to my door at 7am in the morning asking if they can take away the steel RSJ in his small white van. I am yelling for children to get out of the shower, brandishing a butter knife as I make sandwiches, I am make-up-less and wearing that early morning shadow and hair (mostly my own, but there could still be some womble in there!)... I laugh...perhaps a little hysterically, and suggest he might like to re-think the size of his vehicle and the weight of the RSJ. He looks at me oddly and retreats. I still own the RSJ and his van still has all four wheels on the floor!

The one saving grace is that I'm out in the morning before the noise of the pneumatic starts...luckily the relationship with 'most' of our neighbours is positive (for now!)

Swim, swim,  for fuck's sake, keep paddling!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Harvest time inventions

Harvest time, I both love and loathe it in equal measures.

On the one hand there is the gratitude and happiness to see ripened crops, to pick baskets of beans or beets, to be able to share and swap with neighbours.

On the other hand there are the failures or the excess of one particular prolific crop.

Last year for us, that was the courgettes, this year it's the beets and beans.

This year I'm trialling beetroot and gooseberry chutney which, if it works, I will try to share the recipe.

Much as I love making pickles, jams, blanching to freeze until my hands are dry and raw, there does come the day when I scream out "what the heck can I do with yet MORE beetroot" to enable my family to not pull a face as I add jar number 67 of pickled beets to the shelves to add to our meat dishes this winter!
I have plans to make a couple of beetroot and chocolate cakes to freeze and one to give away tomorrow as we have a friend coming over to help us with the honey harvest.

I'm not massively keen on bottling, something that I find a lot of US websites recommend. Canning and bottling at home aren't something that the UK seems to be as fond of, hence the best equipment for this is from the US.

I therefore also try to get a bit more inventive and fill the freezer with slightly more trial and error foods, some of which really do. not. work!!

But, my big question today is:

How does this sound to you?

Rhubarb and chilli jam?  Is it more a pickle or a jam? Savoury or sweet?

My chilli plant has put out rather suddenly and I don't like using dried chillies, so am debating making some indian pastes up to freeze as I make a lot of curries and using some with the last of the rhubarb that I've just picked.

I suppose we just have to see eh?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Thankful Thursday.

So, I am following along with a few of my blogging pals out there to start a Thankful Thursday post. I am going to 'try' and it will be odd weeks when I forget, to post things I am thankful for on a Thursday evening.

So this week I am going to start with:

  • 1. Our bees capping 10 frames for us so that we can, with kind and willing friends to help, extract our honey for the first time on Sunday
  • 2. The earth providing not only nutrition for us but also lots and lots of giggles. Do you like my baby mandrake...he's having a hug!
  • 3. My planning papers are now looking less threatening and all these colours makes me grateful for having been able to take most of today to plan and get on top of next year.
  • 4. The new bed. She LOVES it. See my grateful post number 3. It is because of this that I was able to plan. Today she has read and read and read and read and, when you're that high up, you can do anything...change the world from on high !!
  • 5. My stool. I know, it's a little materialistic, but I'm so pleased with it. Good old Ebay! Now I can park my sore pelvis when my friends are here without being in pain all the while.
  • 6. It's Friday tomorrow: That means Mr Beehive the younger will be home from camp. I have missed him.
  • 7. Not just one job, but two for September and ones I can truly get my claws into (see gratitude number 3 again!!)
  • 8. The enjoyment of preparing and eating tonight's dinner without a single person saying 'ugh' or 'yuk' or 'I don't like x' to any of it!
  • 9. I won the Mad Hatter's Tea Party, carrot cake and lemon drizzle cake at the local village flower and produce show...I am Jill Archer!
  • 10. Being able to make time to run twice this week and go to the gym twice thanks to a willing babysitter!

You can read about Polly's 52 weeks of gratitude here:

You can leave your link in the comments below x