Archive for December, 2012

Christmas Lunch

Following tradition in the UK we had roast turkey for lunch today.  I always cook mine covered in streaky bacon, just like my Mother did, and stuffed with lemons to keep it moist.  We served it up with roast potatoes, roast parsnips and carrots cooked with cumin, cauliflower and brussel sprouts.  No one likes brussel sprouts much, but again it is traditional so we have to have them.


Here’s the turkey straight out of the oven.  I let it stand for a while before carving and dishing up.  Neil poured some champers, we had pink this year.


Here I am with a full plate of turkey dinner, a bit pink in the face but that’s what comes of standing over a hot stove.


We had the special Christmas table cloth out and the Christmas plates, but we missed out on crackers this year,  clean forgot.

Then came the Christmas pud.  What a strange tradition we have to pour brandy over a hot pudding and set fire to it, but has to be done!!


So altogether a lovely Christmas Lunch.  I hope yours was too.  Merry Christmas.

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Tree baubles

Coming back from a lovely Christmas Eve pub lunch today we spotted these baubles in a tree on the roadside.  Some one has obviously been out doing a bit of guerrilla decorating!!  How Christmassy!!


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Merry Christmas

I should like to wish all my friends/readers both far and near a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Healthy New Year in 2013.


Here is my dresser full of Christmas cards. It’s so lovely to receive them and display them all round the home.



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A blue egg

When I went to collect the eggs today, there lying in the straw of the nest box was a single blue egg.  Mrs Cream Legbar, known to us as Lucy Legbar, is back in lay.  She hasn’t laid an egg for 6 weeks.  That sometimes happens when a hen moults, although we didn’t see any visible signs of that in Lucy Legbar.


OK from the photo it doesn’t look very blue, but it is light duck egg blue, quite different from the various shades of brown that the other hens lay.  We only have the one Cream Legbar hen now, so that’s how we know it is her when she lays.  So very pleased to see Lucy Legbar back laying eggs again.  We had 8 eggs in total today, not bad for mid winter and no artificial light in the hen house as they do in commercial egg laying farms.

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Keeping a Poinsettia

I love to buy a Poinsettia plant every Christmas.  To me it is the very essence of Christmas, all red and green.  That with a tree and a few red candles really spells out Christmas.  So on Monday I bought one in Sainsbury’s.  I chose to buy it from that shop because I had read that they were all British grown and I thought that would be better than an imported one.


I brought it home and placed it on a mat on the dining room table, out of draughts, away from a window, at a constant 18 degrees C temperature and was carefull to test how moist the soil was and not to overwater it.

However, less than a week has passed and already the lower leavs are curling up and falling off.  How difficult it is to keep a Poinsettia alive!! Why does this happen every year?  Gradually the green leaves fall off and then the red ones, until you are left with a few stalks.  I think it must be because they are hot house grown and when they come inside a house, it is not as hot and humid as where they were grown.  Anyway, with a little luck it will last til past Christmas day and that is the most important time.

Any hints on keeping a poinsettia alive will be most welcome!!

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Making a Xmas holly wreath

As we have willow whips, holly and ivy growing in the woods, we thought rather than buy a holly wreath, this year we would make one ourselves.  Firstly Neil went down the woods to gather the necessary materials.


I started by weaving the willow whips around each other to form a circle.


Then I added the holly.  We had quite long lengths of holly so it was easy to weave in and out.


Next I added the ivy.  We had some good bits of ivy with flowers on, so that made it more fancy than just leaves.


I kept it all in place with some copper wire that Neil had left over from electrical things he had done.

Then I added a red bow at the bottom, some red berries and a couple of decorations.


When we hung it on the front door it looked spiffy!! OK a bit rural, a bit messy and not as pristine as a shop bought one but that’s the fun of rural crafts and doing it yourself.


So there we are – one home made holly wreath for Christmas.

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Choir, carols, colds and cakes

I recently joined the newly formed Buckland St Mary community choir. We are a motely bunch. There were no auditions – it’s just turn up and sing your heart out. To start with we didn’t have a conductor and would just sing along to a CD. We tried to get Gareth Malone to come along and put us through our paces.  Unfortunately he wasn’t available, but now we have the lovely Penny to lick us into shape.  She is getting us to sing in rounds and in harmony so we are starting to sound good. On Friday we had our last practice before our first public performance at the Buckland St Mary church carol service on Thursday evening, but unfortunately we were down in number as quite a few people had colds.

Today was the other local carol service, in the Bishopswood hall organised by Bishopswood chapel. I had pledged to make cakes for the tea afterwards, so even though I woke up this morning with a horrid sore throat and the start of a cold, I made the cakes and took them along beforehand. Here are my cakes – choc chip ones with chocolate buttons on top:


We didn’t stay long.  Neil has been full of cold all week so he couldn’t sing, and I want to be well enough to sing on Thursday.  I love singing carols so was sorry to miss out today.

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The Christmas decorations are up

Over the weekend we put up our Christmas decorations.  I wanted to buy a growing Christmas tree in a pot, so we could put it in the garden afterwards, but the only ones they had were tiny and we wanted a 5 foot tree, so we bought a cut one.  I decorated it with gold and red baubles.


Then I looked to the windows to hang some more baubles.  I saw this is Country Living magazine, but of course mine don’t look like the ones they had in their picture!!


You can see the reindeer antlers over the globe lamp.  I shall be wearing those on Wednesday when we do Christmas lunch for the old folk at the Golden Age Club!!

I have some really big baubles that we hang from the beam in the living room.


Then there are the icicle lights across the beam in the inglenook fireplace.  They were given to us by our ex next door neighbours where we used to live, and they fit just right here.


You see Neil has hung up his Xmas stocking in anticipation.  We also have lights all round the inside front door which can be seen from the outside, so it all looks jolly festive.  These are the lights and decorations across the mantlepiece in the lounge.


Cards all written and posted, decorations up, much of the shopping done, so now we are nearly ready for Christmas.

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RIP Mrs Light Sussex

We were clearing the hens out in the week and we noticed that one of our Light Sussex hens was standing all hunched up and not scrabbling for foods like the others.  So Neil picked her up and we had a look at her.  Her eyes were closing and she started to sneeze, so we thought the best thing to do would be to separate her from the others.  We moved her to the old hen house and put down lots of straw to keep her warm.

The next day she was still alive but hadn’t moved.  A local farmer’s wife had told us that if one of your hens gets poorly again try feeding her some Beechams powders.  We had the “cold and flu” Beechams powder which I thought was quite fitting for a hen with a cold.  I mixed up just a tiny amount and drew it up into a syringe.  Neil wrapped Mrs Light Sussex up in a towel and I gently prized open her beak and squirted the liquid into her.DSC05013

You can see how handsome the white hens are from this picture.  Unfortunately the next day when we went down in the morning to let the hens out, Mrs Light Sussex had died, so we had been unable to save her.

Neil took her body into the woods and left it there for the fox to chance upon.  Now we are down to 12 laying birds and the 2 youngsters, but we are still getting between 7 and 10 eggs a day, inspite of the short days and no artificial light in the hen house, so not bad going.  Must be all the good food they get.  When we have no vegetable peelings for them, we cook up some spaghetti and mix it with layers mash and they absolutely love that!!

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Refelting the shed roof

As we have had a couple of dry days, Neil took the opportunity to remove the damaged roof felt from the wood shed roof and then today to reroof it.  He took all the old clout tacks out and I had the really great job of sorting through them all and removing all the bits of roofing felt stuck to them, in order that he could reuse them.


It was a really cold but bright day, starting with a sharp frost again, but at least we had some hazy sunshine today.  It is forecast to rain again tomorrow hence doing the job today.  All our wood was getting damp as the wood shed roof had leaked, so now it is all set for the Winter.

You can see our unfinished stable block down the garden, in the background to the photo – another job for another day!!



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