Sunday, April 28, 2013


Some sneaky pics of the garden today and a quick recycled  brick wall tutorial.
I've spent a lot of time in the garden dodging hailstones and trying to mow or paint or weed.

Greenhouse in full seedling explosion

Tomato growbags ready to receive the plants once they've grown on a bit.

Garlic! We won't need to worry about vampires this year!

Simple brick wall round the rhubarb.
 This is such an easy trick and looks really effective. I really like the kitchen garden effect.
Basically you need to dig a shallow, level trench and then lay the bricks in like slightly fallen dominos. You can then use cement if you want to or, as I have done, just pushed mud between the spaces and filled the trenches with mud. It holds them really well.

and a view of much of the garden.

Look at the birds! They love to come around to this side of the fence when I'm out there in case they get a few worms or some weeds thrown over. Our coop is not just this small section. We cut out a cat flap sized hole through the fence and they can go through it into a much larger section of the garden that is secure and fox proofed for them. You can see the otherside here.

So that's what we've been up to this weekend. How about you?

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A message to my son

My boy,
you have reached a new milestone in your life, you have become a teenager.
I don't know where the last 13 years have gone. They have flown by and what you have achieved in your 13 years!
My first born son, you took us all by surprise soon after our wedding! I can remember the day you decided you were on your way, we ate LOTS of cheese sandwiches on the ward at the hospital. Your Aunty and Uncle came to see me when I was in labour.
You did decide to take your time and it was 48 hours before you finally decided to come and meet us.
Smiley baby! Happy baby!
You never cease to amaze us with your maturity and your abilities.
You've done so much from the Montessori schools in Belgium and America to the school you are at now; your tae kwon do achievements, the fact you are enjoying being a scout, your desire to participate in your school musicals.
We are so proud of you.
Don't rush the next years of your life, they will be some of the best.
We look forward to watching you grow, seeing you make choices that will determine the direction your life path takes.
Thank you for choosing us as your parents.
Mum and Dad

HAPPY 13th!!!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

I'm a Bee, I'm a Bee, I'ma I'ma I'ma Bee.

Oh blimey!
This is my Grandad in around 1970 ish I guess. He was an avid
beekeeper with hives in his orchard in Norfolk.
Well, in all honesty, you'd think I'd be an expert, after all, I have been one for the last 14 years!
However, what a lot there is to learn.
Most beekeepers you speak to, tell you it is easy once you learn and understand the life cycle of the three bee types, so that is my homework.
Fortunately, I don't feel as anxious as I did prior to attending my course this weekend. The instructor was amazingly knowledgeable and I feel a little more secure knowing he lives less than 7 miles from me and would come and help me if I needed to send out the distress signal.

I'm sure I'm making more out of this than I need to and in a couple of years I'll read back on this and wonder what on earth I was worrying about. For now though, I feel comforted in the fact that I AM feeling a little nervous that I might mess up because hopefully it'll make me more vigilant and a better beekeeper.

This year's tasks before we get our nucs next Spring are to plant more wildflowers around the periphery of the orchard, join the beekeeping association for our local area and paint our hives and set up the equipment we might need so that we're good to go next year.

This tickled me: Bee quilting from what is effectively and old cool bag!

It's exciting though! Thornhill House eggs, honey AND furniture polish eh?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Life in the village

There is a ball of yellow in the sky which lasted for a good portion of the morning yesterday and today.
It's quite a rare phenomenon. It could be a sign of Spring.
My cherry blossom would care to argue the toss at the moment as her buds are still tightly furled and shut and each weekend I look out of the window and casually say..."I think this might be the week" and then it's not, BUT, there was the yellow ball and temperatures rose to a whole 18 degrees C.

Rhubarb is looking pink and happy.
I toyed with the idea of making my bean pole trellis but inspiration evaded me.

Aeneas thinks she is a cat and won't go to bed at night until she has had a cuddle.
I am known in the village as 'The Egg Lady'...I suppose it could be worse...I could be the crazy cat lady...only, I guess I would need to own a cat first! This is the law according to the man I know as 'The Black Lab man' who buys my eggs.

The Dexter cows are back.
Across the road, there are a herd of around 8 or 9 black and one unusual brown shade. My mornings are now greeted by the lowing from these beautiful beasts.
The weird-platform-swimming- pool-structure-thing is now gone and Mr Beehive and smaller Beehives have chopped it up (well most of it) into useful lumps of firewood.
Of course this doesn't go without a Sunday morning disaster with Mr Beehive leaving the steel capped boots he owns in his car, to favour a pair of cheap and flimsy crocs which are FAR better for standing on a three inch nail in!

Dinner with friends on Saturday night - a wonderful night and I am lucky enough to be spending Friday night this week with my girlie-friends again whilst we attempt to make some Italian desserts on a course! Fortunately it is not my turn for the next dinner party, so I won't be expected to have mastered Gelato or Zabaglione (I think I need to spell it first!).

My beehives have arrived!
I will be doing my first course next week and after that I will be knowledgeable enough to open the packs and look at the beehives! Until then they must wait for me.
I will paint them 'Bluebell Blue' and they will take up residence in the orchard.
Maybe I will be closer to being known by my real name.

So, that is life in the village this week really.

Have a lovely week and I'll be back next weekend with photos of Tiramisu, Beehives and a Birthday teenager!

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

What we also did this weekend, but didn't tell you!

So, here's the thing: In blogland you write stuff that others read - ta da !!!

 I suppose in many respects it's a cross between a diary and a book, however, here's the difference: when I started writing this blog, gosh, some 6 or 7 years ago we lived abroad. We had three small children who were a bundle of fun, energy (as they still are) and toddlerisms and gave me such incredibly great material to write about. There was an element of artistic licensing I won't deny that, but that's where the difference is. Although I was primarily writing to keep my family updated on our exploits, I soon realised that this blog got quite a readership (you're a quiet readership, but I know you are out there!).

We returned home to the UK, the children are growing up, they don't have the same desire to play with poo or ask innocent, yet charged questions; they don't do revolting things that I am allowed to blog about, use the incorrect terminology or muddle their words. In fact...they're fairly boring as material these days (sorry guys!). Also, they require me to respect their privacy and that goes without saying. They enjoy reading bits about their lives and this blog then acts as a form of diary for them in that way, however, I'm sure they wouldn't , no...I KNOW they wouldn't be happy with me reporting about them in a far more personal way than I do.

So, this has meant that the blog has taken a lean to the less humourous to the more mundane and everyday stuff and now I tend to witter on about my garden and how we're striving towards self sufficiency.

This, I realise may come across as a smug-look-at-me style blog, but, let me tell you: it ain't, period.

I'm blogging the interesting bits.

Believe you and me, I am no wonder woman and I am no Ma Ingalls, I'm more Marge Simpson if I'm truly honest. But the crux of this is that I will only post when I have something that I know 'I' would want to read about rather than mumbling on about the copious amount of mundane-ness that goes on in everyday life.

If I blogged about the fact that today I cleaned the bathrooms, hoovered the kitchen, let the dogs in, let the dogs out, collected the chicken eggs, picked up dog shit from the lawn, picked up chicken shit from the coop, let the dogs in, cooked soup (FROM A TIN!), ate too many crisps and drank too much coffee, hung out crapbags of laundry, went on facebook every time I had a quiet second, wished my kids' friends would be a little quieter (so that facebook thing was single figures!), wished I'd not said yes to the double figures in the kids department when all their friends descended for tea, wished that my daughter would find something to do that didn't involve her coming down to tell me ALL about it, for just a FEW minutes.

What if I blogged that I said the word 'Fuck' at least 15 times because the computer and printer wouldn't connect so I couldn't print off a load of university work that, frankly, I'll print off again before hand in date because it is a pile of crap and will need changing and re-changing and changing back before I'm satisfied?

What if I blogged that I wrote a ranty email to a company today for taking money out of my bank account four times in the last month rather than taking a monthly amount...then had to quickly back pedal, flutter my eyelashes (it's not an attractive look with the greasy bun and hubbycastoffs) and write a new grovelling letter, sucking big time as the contract was actually weekly payments and not monthly and I am feeling like a prize fuckwit.

What if I blogged that I put on my husband's clothes today because I couldn't be arsed to find something that matched, that I then equally couldn't be arsed to wash my hair so have pulled it back into a really nasty (yes, read that as REALLY NASTY) bun type thing just so it looks a little better than horror movie hideous?

What if I blogged that I sorted out all the recycling and then threw three plastic tubs into the bin because the thought of taking them outside to the sorted recycling made me feel cold and I couldn't be bothered, so I threw them away!

If I blogged all this shit, I doubt you'd come back. So forgive me for not doing so and giving any indication that I manage to achieve more than any normal, sane person does in a day (okay, so I'm not sane, but that was decided years ago!).  I am normal (ish). I haven't actually screamed at my kids today (which is a surprise actually), I have, however said 'I've totally had enough of....(add whatever you like here)' Waaaaaaaaaaaaaay too many times, that I'm beginning to think that I may need to find some new catchphrases.

I do like to garden, bake, craft, live as lightly as possible and I do fit these into my life too, but I'm sure, as a reader I'd find this much more interesting than all the above. I like to 'think' I'm a mama earth, but I am one with a sneaky fixation on convenience too!

Anyway, I suppose blogging is my release. I like to read to relax, I like to write to relax, I think about the blogs that I like reading and I suppose I see them in  much the same way as some people see a magazine, they inspire me. I then strive to take ideas from different ways of life - pininterest porn if you like- and evolve my own version here at The Beehive. Therefore, when I write, I hope that there are bits that I've tried and tested that other people might like to take away and use themselves...hence the bits I blog about.

So, that's it really. That's blogging for me.

What I am not going to blog about is the fact I've burned the effin' sausages whilst I've been rattling on about the borin' stuff .... gaaaaaaaaaah!

Monday, April 01, 2013

What we did this weekend.

It always is such a build up to people coming to stay. I remember as a child it seemed to take for EVER when you had to wait for a friend or relative, Christmas or a birthday. As an adult, however, life seems to just push it all past so unbelievably quickly.

My sister has been and gone already. We had a lovely weekend with her, although the children were somewhat explosive for some reason. I don't know if they had been feeling the build up, or that we have suddenly got space again after four months of all living in the kitchen, or that Master Beehive the younger is, for the first time in six weeks, not on crutches or in a sling and was able to run and get outside. Whatever the reason there did seem to be a lot of volume, a lot of mediation and a lot of tears, however, we all still had so much fun!

We began by making hot cross buns and biscuits on Thursday:

Good Friday brought Dido and Aeneas to our home, two white sussex hens to add to the flock.

On Saturday we went for a hike and Easter egg hunt at the local herb centre whilst Mr Beehive went on a sausage making course*

Sunday we cooked two amazing legs of lamb on the barbecue, went on a huge hike and came back for lime marscapone cheescake or rhubarb and ginger crumble: yum, yum!

Today we have been to a Country Fayre which would have been a heap of fun if it hadn't been so hideously cold. We were wrapped up to within an inch of total movement restriction, but we still couldn't stand still for very long to watch the dog arena or the pony and trap racing. We didn't stay long, but saw some of the chainsaw woodwork and the Little Miss was taken by the blacksmithing and glass blowing.

This afternoon I have begun making a couple of mosaics. 
We have cleared a lot of one of our back walls which was over run by 'Mile-a-minute'. I have to confess, I'm not sure this is the horticultural name for this, but it is what we have called it as you cut it and it is back within the day.  However, cutting it back so profusely has left us with a rather nasty breeze block wall. Our neighbour behind is responsible for a fence which was on top of the wall but was rotting and falling over due to the weight of ivy from his side. He has now spent the last three weeks replacing it and it looks lovely. The wall, on the other hand, looks like a bad scar. So the gekko mosaic is going to hang on the wall during the summer months to add some colour until the grape vine we planted last summer gets going (...if it gets going!). The other mosaic is a housewarming gift for a friend.
This is not finished. All the board will be mosaic. Greens and blues outside of the gekko

House warming gift for a friend.

Talking of summer, well, that's not so much of a sentence starter as a need to talk about summer. The cold, bitter, biting wind here is not relenting and it feels like we are never going to see a Spring. Normally by now my cherry blossom is flowering, this year it seems to still be in hibernation. Instead, to warm ourselves internally, LMB and I have booked ourselves to go to Camp Bestival in August, we are off to Italy for a couple of weeks as a family, staying in an old, medieval, walled city near Florence and my sister has asked us all to join her and her family in the Pyrenees NEXT summer (yes, I know) for her 40th, so we have booked a huge gite with a pool and will spend the next 15 or so months basking in the future sun from this holiday.

* I must briefly explain the sausage making course. We are going to try a pig share scheme this year. Some friends of ours and ourselves are going halves on a Gloucestershire Old Spot piglet that we are going to 'choose' next weekend. This will be raised free range and organically throughout the summer by a farmer in Somerset. We will then choose how we wish to receive the cuts of meat and our pig will be butchered for us to pick up in September and freezer for the year. It may seem a bit heavy for some of you reading this, but we feel that it is important for the children to learn where the meat comes from rather than just seeing it as some vacuum packed piece from the supermarket. We also want to eat good quality meat that has had a good life and enjoyed its life and the end is as humane as possible. I suppose after growing our own veg, having not eaten a supermarket egg for the last two years, producing our own cider, this is the next step.
Incidently, the cider has now been bottled. This weekend we tried it for the first time. Oh. My. Goodness!
I am very impressed. Our cider is graded: five star, four star and three star. The three star is good, but the five star...I can see us moving to making much, much more next year as it has been warmly received this weekend by my brother in law and my dad! What with the pork and the cider, I feel a meal in the making!

A Scrumping we will go!