Archive for July, 2014

Wow what a whopper!!

I have been letting some of our courgettes (zucchini) grow into marrows to cut up for food for the chooks.  Today Neil picked this one which weighed 7lb 12 ozs, that’s as much as an average baby!!

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I chop it up and then stew it up for a short while to soften it.  Our chooks are well spoilt!

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There are a couple more really large ones growing on the plants which I have left to grow into marrows.  The others I either pick really small and we eat raw in salads, or normal size to cook up for ourselves.  These plants really do keep on giving!!

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French beans outwit the deer

This year, as well as runner bean I planted a dedicated line of climbing French beans alongside bean poles.   Unfortunately some deer got in and munched all the emerging shoots of the beans and stopped them from climbing up the bean poles.  But Mother Nature is so clever!  What did the French beans do?  They produced all their beans really low down on the bit of plant that was still alive.

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And some of the beans are really long, about 7 or 8 inches, much longer than you see in the supermarkets.

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I think its pretty clever that all the bean pods have grown at the bottom!  I thought our crop had been ruined, but not so!!

Also today I picked the first of our runner beans.  They were similarly munched by the deer but managed to put out other shoots and still climb up the bean poles.

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Our sweetcorn are coming on nicely too.  I think it is all the lovely sunshine we have been having lately

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I have also been picking the courgettes (zucchini) and let one or two of them grow really large into marrows to cut up for the chickens.  It’s going to be a bumper year for all our crops this year.

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Making Blackcurrant vodka liqueur

We have a bountiful crop of lovely blackcurrants this year, so apart from stewing them up and freezing them for pies and crumbles I decided this year to have a go at Blackcurrant vodka liqueur.  This is different from Cassis which we made last year with brandy as this uses vodka.

First pick your blackcurrants.  You need 750g prepared fruit for every bottle of 700ml vodka.

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You then have to pick it over and remove all the leaves and stalks and then wash them.

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Then gradually add these berries to a demi john.  You have to do this slowly and little by little or they go all over the place. Then add 750gm caster sugar.  I used  a funnel to tip mine in.

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After you’ve added the sugar, you add the bottle of vodka.  We only bought the cheap stuff not the well known brand as that’s all it needs.

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I actually made double the quantity so this is the 2nd bottle of vodka going into mine.

Then put a stopper in the top and give it all a vigorous shake.

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Shake daily for a week, then weekly for a month, until all the sugar is dissolved.  Leave for at least 3 months to mature, longer is better.  Should definitely we ready for Christmas if we can wait that long.

This is very similar to the way I made strawberry vodka earlier on. So basically

750gm prepared blackcurrants

750gm caster sugar

700ml bottle of vodka

are all the ingredients you need.

After at least 3 months strain off the fruit and you are left with delicious liqueur to bottle up.

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A lovely walk at Cricket St Thomas Lakes and Gardens

Yesterday, being a lovely day and us having Neil’s sister visiting, we took ourselves off to the Lakes and Gardens at Cricket St Thomas for a wander around.  We had never been before so it was a new one on all of us.  We started off by going past a little church that was originally for the estate.

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Then as we turned the corner we saw a magnificent tree in the foreground of the house, which is now a Warner Leisure hotel.

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You will note the figure doing a head stand in the foreground, that is actually a brass figure.  There were quite a few brass figures around the gardens, mostly of children playing.

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As we walked down the hill there were great views of the lakes.

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We saw in the distance a red bridge and walked nearer to see if we could cross it.

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We found that it was a railway bridge and there used to be a little train that ran round the grounds and took visitors to Noel Edmund’s “Mr Blobby Land”, that isn’t there any more.  We couldn’t cross the bridge as it was closed to pedestrians.

There were waterfalls:

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And a grotto with a waterfall in front:-

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Everywhere you looked there were lovely views:-

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We stumbled across a really tall monkey puzzle tree that must have been quite old, looking at it’s size.

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At the bottom of a path I found a circular piece of modern art, through which I took a photo of a little bridge.

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On the road out of the estate we passed fields of sheep and cows.  Here the cows (or more precisely bullocks) were right by the road, so I am glad they were not blocking our route.

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Along the road out we saw this sign about pheasants:

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As we exited the estate and were about to turn out onto the road we had this gorgeous view of the countryside.

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All in all it was a lovely afternoon walk and we didn’t even have to pay an entry fee.

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Duck racing in Bishopswood

Today we went to the duck racing at Mill Leat in Bishopswood.  Not real ducks I hasten to add, but little yellow plastic ducks all numbered and tipped into the Yarty river.  We had to buy a ticket with a number on, and then that was the number of your duck.  We followed their progress down the river.

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Some got caught on stones along the way and had to be guided off.  One would dash past and then another would overtake.  The organiser had a loud haler and was calling out their progress.  There was money to be won on the duck first past the post.

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We didn’t win anything in any of the 3 races, but it was a bit of fun, a bit of madness on a Summer’s afternoon.  There were also other duck themed activities.  Instead of a coconut shy there was a duck shy.

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Neil’s sister was with us and she knocked down two ducks.  Then she had a go at throwing hoops round ducks.

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There were other duck stalls too and some people even dressed in duck costumes. The face painting for the children was ducks on their cheeks!

But we rather more sedately retired with a Pimms!

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The last thing was the tug of war between Bishopswood and Buckland St Mary.  Neil was in the Buckland team and went prepared in boots and gloves, but they still lost!

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You can see the lovely thatched house in the background, in whose grounds the event took place.

They are going to try and make it an annual event.  It was well supported and everyone had a bit of fun.  Other villages hold duck races too so maybe its just a local thing around here.  We certainly had never heard of it until we moved here.

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Buckland St Mary Fete 5th July 2014

Yesterday afternoon was the Buckland St Mary church fete in the grounds of Buckland House. Once again we were running the book stall.  We had so many donations of books we could hardly fit them in the car to take them down there, and we took 2 extra tables from home to display them on. This is me at the book stall.

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We did really well raising £80 which in these days of Kindles we reckon is very good.  Our key selling point was 5 paper back books for £2.00.  So if someone had 3 or 4 books, we would urge them to make it up to 5 to get a bargain.

The fete was well attended and the sun came out in the afternoon which always encourages people to attend.

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There were afternoon teas, a cake stall, a bottle tombola, a bric a brac stall, skittles, a plant stall and a stall with games like “The Cube” which proved popular, as well as other craft stalls.

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The fete is an annual event and the money raised goes to the church.  It was lovely to see so many familiar faces and friends from the local area.  The only problem was all the books left unsold which we had to take home and store in the garage.  We shall take them little by little to Ferne Animal Sanctuary shop so they can sell them and get the proceeds.

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Morris dancers in Bishopswood

On Tuesday evening the Taunton Dene Morris men came to the Candlelight Inn in Bishopswood to dance in their carpark.  They were dressed in white with colourful braces and bells on their legs.

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They were accompanied by musicians with a drum, a whistle and concertinas.

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At the very last dance they asked for volunteers to join in.  I encouraged Neil to have a go and here he is stick in hand:-

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