Friday, 16 September 2016

Wild Life

Moving back out into the countryside from the city has been a lot easier than I imagined.  I thought I would miss the street light, local shops, takeaways and being able to walk to the local bars and restaurants......well I can't say I really miss any of it, perhaps I'm getting old :)  It is strange to actually have dark nights, to need to grab a torch to go outside (of course most of the outside lights don't work) and to listen to the strange noises of the night, not the usual drunk people coming home at silly o'clock in the morning, but foxes, a sound we used to hear in the fields next to us before 200 houses were built there. A cockerel crows on one of the nearby farms at random times and the tractors are pretty busy at this time of year early in the morning to late at night.  I find myself inspecting poo I find in the field trying to guess what animal left it,  yes our 'wild' life gets that exciting.  We have settled into our quiet life amazingly well after urban living for 16 years, though we have yet to experience a winter here. Even this time of year has been very different from our previous location, I have used my fog lights more than ever before, it seems to have a unique climate of it's own up here,  as I drive to work I discover that everywhere else is clear of fog and the sun is shining.  It's like those old horror movies where the fog drifts across the moors.......

During the huge storms we had recently, our son and I sat in the conservatory watching the sky light up every few seconds, it was like being outside without getting wet.  I don't know why I had such a downer on conservatories before, we practically live in it now, watching the moths, stars and distant lights in the evenings.  The rain caused flooding in towns across Cornwall and when I noticed the dog bowls moving across the floor I realised that the kennels where my sons dogs are staying were flooding.  The drain was blocked (oh what a surprise) but after clearing it out and putting dry bedding in their sleeping area they were happy and didn't seem bothered by the storm.  They are loving their stay in the country with runs around the field several times a day and their luxury kennels with separate sleeping and outside areas.  Our cat is loving it even more that she hasn't had to hide the whole time they are here.  She looks out at them smugly.

I have been out photographing what wildlife I can find and hope to encourage more to our home by creating a wildlife pond. (still to be negotiated with the bearded one) and leaving the edges of the field uncut (also to be negotiated)   In the mean time I have put out feeders which so far has only been visited by a brave blue tit  There is also a scruffy little Robin who follows me around the veg patch, I think it must be moulting as it is a sorry sight.

The underside of the Red Admiral is just as beautiful

I didn't think I would be seeing the Speckled Wood here in the field

Plenty of rabbits

Most of the House Martins seem to have left for the winter

Garden Cross spider creating beautiful webs in the garden

I have also managed to make some blackberry and grape jam, and stored the rest in the freezer for when I have more time for jam making.  It would be lovely to have more time at home to get things done, but I love the weekends here!!!

Thank you for all your well wishes to our son, he is still staying with us as his recovery is not going as well as hoped.  On a purely selfish level I am loving having him here and his friends who come to visit, it makes a change from just me and the old man :)  We are also getting out in the field several times a day walking his dogs which is lovely.  I'm still looking to get our own dog but can't decide on a breed.  All the rescue dogs I have seen have said not suitable with very young children or cats so not really an option.  Retired greyhounds would chase the cat and anything else that moves so again not suitable.  The dog for us is out there somewhere.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend,

Chickpea xx

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

The Good, the Bad and the downright rude

Life on Chickpeas farm continues to be busy, exhausting and wonderful.  We have been here a whole month, I can't believe it!  We still have bedrooms full of boxes that haven't been touched, the third bedroom where the grandchildren will sleep and the box room which will be my craft room.  Our son is having an operation on Friday so will be coming over to stay for a few days while he recovers. We are not exactly ready for guests, the room he will be staying in has peeling paint and a channel dug out of the wall, (not sure the purpose of it) but is reasonably clear of boxes. The main bathroom had a cracked cistern which leaked all over the grotty carpet on the floor and through the ceiling downstairs, and a cracked seat (as did the downstairs loo).  The first thing I did was change all the loo seats, I'm a bit fussy like that :)

I bet you're so glad I shared this with you

The whole bathroom will be ripped out and replaced in the future but other jobs take priority now so we have tracked down a replacement cistern which should have turned up today but hasn't.  So he may have to stay in our room with the working toilet but shower cubicle with the door hanging off.  I did say we had taken on 'a project' didn't I?

The gas boiler should have been serviced today but he didn't turn up, not even a phone call and after ringing several tree surgeons none have got back to me.  I have had to chase the council about our recycling twice now as they don't bother to come out here.  We are still waiting to hear back from several other 'services' as well......are you starting to get the picture?  What is wrong with people, they could at least ring to say they can't make it or are too busy to take on more work.  Even the doctor in the surgery was downright rude, we were discussing my blood pressure and I said that I knew I needed to lose weight, she said well it's not difficult just eat less.  No shit Sherlock as the youngsters say, I would never have guessed that.  True, but not very helpful.

The good things this week have been getting my books out of boxes, thank goodness for cheap and cheerful Billy Bookcases.  Yes I should have waited until I painted the lounge but I missed having my books around me, is it just me or do other people love looking at their books on the shelves.  I really enjoyed getting them out and arranging them on the shelves.....yes I am sad like that.

I rang Home Farmer magazine to update my address and Paul the editor answered the phone and was absolutely lovely. Wishing me well in our new home and discussing the magazine.  Now that's what I call good service.

I also went to see an exhibition in a container called The Aftermath Dislocation Principle which has been touring the country.  I loved it, brilliant idea and very cleverly done.  Passersby were wondering what the hell was going on as they saw people peering into a graffiti covered shipping container.  It's Art darlings :)

Post riot landscape

I also shook my booty to an amazing band called the Broken Brass Ensemble who had the whole audience at one stage crouched on the floor ready to leap into the air (yes I did have a momentary panic thinking I'll never get up again)  I really really needed a night out to let my hair down!

Anyway, more news soon on all things jam and grapes, I'll leave you with a little clip of Saturdays shenanigans.


Chickpea xx

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

A little catch up

Hi everyone, thanks for all your comments on my last post, I'm afraid I just haven't had the time to reply to them, but I am reading them all and they are much appreciated.  Our t'internet may disappear anytime (that's another tale of the previous owner not cancelling any of his services!) so I thought I would update you on some of our teeny tiny progress.....well it is too blooming hot to be doing so much physical stuff!!

 The fruit bushes are being choked by all the bindweed so I have been clearing them the best I can, damn stuff is everywhere.  They haven't been pruned for I don't know how long so they will be getting a good haircut later in the year.  Busy googling how to prune fruit bushes.

I don't know why I worried about Ziggy Stardust, she is such a lazy cat she can't be arsed to go out anyway.  She mooched around the outside of the house, totally ignored the lovely big garden for her to explore and decided to have a nosy under the decking instead.  She now spends her time in the conservatory looking out through the open door.

 I really could spend every evening just looking at the sunset and beautiful cloud formations.

I'm trying to think of things to do with the hundreds of grapes in the poly.   This lot are destined for the freezer, I love frozen grapes, I could probably fill a whole freezer with the grapes we have so many.  I thought I would also try grape jam as well as making some into raisins.  Thanks for the tip with the Aga Dawn,  the warming oven is a bit temperamental at the moment, but will do this in the future.  Sue - I have bought a cold shelf so that should help with cakes etc when I get around to it, again thanks for the tip I had never heard of such a thing.

The grandchildren visited and loved the ride on mower, grampa was not impressed when my granddaughter and I cut some figures of eight in the lawn.  They loved 'grazing' the raspberries, blackberries and grapes and are hoping the kiwis will be ready when they come down next.  There was also plenty of space for the big kids to play cricket and football without balls going into neighbours gardens.

As it's a Bank Holiday weekend we have had more time to tackle the garden, we have found all sorts of things including a rat.  I cut down a huge tree/shrub thing that was taking over the garden and in danger of bringing the fence down.  Now we just have to dig up the roots!

We have cleared around the oil tank, and I set up my compost bin for kitchen waste and have been burning the bindweed, though I think it will take forever to get rid of it for good.

It was Cornwall Pride on Saturday so we took a break from the toil to celebrate and help carry the rainbow flag.  Such a wonderful day and the sun shone again this year so the picnic in the park was a perfect end to the Parade.  

We also had a visit from a neighbour calling in on the horse and trap as you do.

As with my last post, I am knackered, covered in bruises and scratches, a tree hit me on the head just to spite me as I was cutting it down and a seagull shat on my head on the way to the Parade........but I don't regret taking on this project for a minute.  We will get it all done eventually, seeing deer grazing in the field on our evening walk and the bearded one spotting a white barn owl in our barn!! makes it all worth it.

Chickpea xx

Oh and I found my iPad, I was beginning to get a bit worried after over 2 weeks, I really don't remember putting in the blanket box.  Now hunting for the slow cooker.......

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Knackered but Happy

Our 'hygge' house in the fog

It's been a busy time and my old bones are complaining, but I'm not, I'm enjoying every minute of it.  I was determined to make a lifestyle change and my body will just have to get used to it.  No more soft city life, oh no, it's spending Sunday mornings in the wind and rain pulling up ragwort in the field from now on!  I know how to rock and roll :)   I now own lots of brambles (not something a lot of people would be pleased about) so I picked the first few blackberries to appear, only half a pound but with apples they will make a nice crumble when I have time, so they have gone into the freezer. Hopefully I will have tamed the Aga by then, if I turn my back it goes from uncooked to burnt.   I also rescued another exhausted bee clinging onto some ragwort and revived it with sugary water, the storms seem to be taking their toll.    I could then be seen kneeling in the veg patch in the pouring rain pulling bindweed from what may be gooseberry bushes.  I'm not sure what to do with the ragwort or bindweed so I put them in an old bin for now out of harms way.

I then decided on a bit of light indoor work......which turned into hauling boxes up into the attic. I did cull some more books though, but I just don't seem to be able to let go of the boxes of my sons paintings and school books, even though they would happily throw the lot in the bin!  We still have way too much 'stuff'  I don't know how I managed to cram it all in our other house, it was literally full to the rafters, hidden in every crook and cranny.

Talking of stuff, I am about to bring more into the house as I will need another freezer for the various wild and hopefully home grown fruit and veg.  We had an integrated freezer which I left at our old house. I'm debating whether to get a chest freezer which is more efficient and has less waste of space or an upright which takes up less floor space.  I'm tempted by the chest freezer but have visions of little old 5' me leaning in to get something and falling in, the lid closing and a frozen Chickpea is found hours later....yes I have a vivid imagination.    I'm also thinking of getting a dehydrator which among other things could be used to turn some of the hundreds of grapes in the polytunnel into raisins.  This self sufficiency thing is turning out very expensive!

Oh and for the first time in my life someone knocked on my door to ask me if I had lost any cows.  Never thought I would be asked that :)

Ziggy Stardust is still being kept in, she doesn't seem too upset about it, it will be interesting to see how this city cat copes with becoming a country cat.  I will be very nervous about letting her out for the first time.  I have put butter on the feet of previous cats when I moved, yes it probably is an old wives tale but may be worth a try.

So my new life involves getting up even earlier than I used to, more physical work than I am used to and evenings in the conservatory knitting, reading or listening to music, before hobbling to bed.....literally.    The television hasn't been on (apart from the bearded one watching a football match) and I haven't missed it at all.  I walk around the field at least once a day regardless of the weather and I am absolutely loving it.  I really needed to get out of a rut and this has certainly kicked me up the backside.  Lets hope it lasts.

I will leave you with a little film of our favourite lodgers the House Martins,

Chickpea xx

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

I don't know where to start!!

Thank you so much to you all for your lovely comments on my last post.   We have been here a week now and I feel very at home.  The amount of work needed to be done is a little overwhelming,  the bearded one could only take one day off, which was the day we moved and I only had a few days.  Fitting it all in after work and weekends means it is going to take a while!  I also have an extra 30 minutes on my drive to work which meant tonight I got home at 6.45 driving through thick fog for an hour.  No fun.  I have been watching the progress of a certain Cornish blogger who has the whole summer off to do up their new place in France and feel very envious.  I have also found that physically I really can't do what I used to and think I have actually done some damage with all the lifting boxes.  So I have to be patient and do what I can when I can.

Anyway I can't report any progress at the moment, it will be 'before' pictures for quite a while.  The list of things to do grows by the day!   We are having the water, electric and boiler checked ,it seems to have been many years since they were looked at.  We have been drinking bottled water in the mean time. Luckily my hair has not turned green as happened in a previous property we were renting with it's own water supply!  We had the oil tank topped up, the cost of oil is frightening. We are looking into solar panels to help keep the cost of energy down.  At least the water is free, well sort of we have replaced the filter and may have to fit a ultra violet thingy, oh and one of the tanks will need replacing at some stage.  Half of the bulbs in the house need replacing, some of the light switches don't work and there are bare wires sticking out of sockets. I have booked someone to strip down and clean the aga, I'm gradually getting the hang of it but my timings are still all over the place. I have managed to burn several things in the 'warming' oven, seems to be all or nothing with it. The boiler sounds like an airplane taking off with bangs and clanks all over the place.  Unfortunately all of these essential but boring things need to be sorted before we can get onto more interesting and creative projects. Although it is not an old house and a great deal of money was spent on it at one stage, it seems to have been neglected in recent years so needs repairs and replacements.  

So here are some 'before' photos of the 'veg patch'.  It is very overgrown but I did manage to pick some blackcurrants which have gone in the freezer ready to make jam.  There are some raspberry plants with a couple of raspberries on them that need rescuing from weeds and apparently some gooseberries but I can't find them.  There are some strawberry plant and I found a sage plant.  I need to find the time to get in there and have a good old root around.  There has been a load of grass cuttings dumped on there, huge thistles and nettles.  I really don't know where to start!  I am saving all the boxes from our move and will be laying them on the patch to suppress the weeds.  It is a 'no dig' method which is about all I can manage.  By next spring I hope to have the patch in a reasonable condition to start planing some things.

The property is surrounded by huge trees which act as wind breaks but they need trimming which will be a huge task.

This is growing on some of the raspberry bushes, any idea what it is?

The two raspberries, we might have to fight over them

What a faff it is picking the blackcurrants, someone has since suggested using a fork to get them off, I will try that when I tackle the next bush.  Picking the stalks out was also a pain, any suggestions for an easier way of doing this?

Well that's it for now, I'm shattered so apologies for spelling mistakes etc, I can hardly string two words together at the moment.  I'm hoping to blog as much as possible as a record of our new life in the country.

Chickpea xx

p.s. I will get around to visit your blogs as soon as possible, I miss seeing what you are all up to.

p.p.s.  I also treated myself to some new wellies - oooh get me, quite the country lady :)

Saturday, 13 August 2016

We have moved!!

Looking across our field to the purple heather covered moor.

After many stressful weeks, many moments thinking it wasn't going to happen at all and then exchange and completion happening within four days we are at last in our new home!!  The problems with buying it had taken away some of the excitement and I just couldn't look forward as so many things had gone wrong.  I am now pinching myself as I can't quite believe  this beautiful place is ours.  We have an awful lot of work to do as it has been neglected, we will take our time and work on it over the next few years, but I have totally fallen in love with it. I feel like I have been here for months not days, it really feels like home.  I love the peace, the space, the big skies, it house been worth every stressful minute.

Here's a little taster of our new home.  Our internet isn't great and as you can imagine I have an awful lot of unpacking to do but will be back again with some more updates.

Where we spend most of our time looking out at the view

Looking across our garden to our neighbours munching away in their field

Orchard, fruit trees and an overgrown polytunnel

The polytunnel and garden have been neglected and are very overgrown and full of weeds.  I have no idea how to look after the grapes and kiwis but they seem to have thrived on neglect.

I have a purple Aga!!  Those tiles will have to go.

My first meal cooked in the Aga, chickpea casserole of course.

After living in a valley for many years, I love the big skies I can see from our hill

Chickpea xx