Tuesday, 28 April 2020

Growing Food!

As yesterday was such a mild sunny day with rain forecast for later in the week, I went with G to the allotment for an hour of fresh air and exercise after lunch.  I was amazed at how things are putting on growth spurts.

The strawberries have flowers on them ....


The potatoes are showing.....



The broad beans and cabbages have also had a growth spurt......



The 'test' carrots are showing and the leeks are planted in the raised bed...….



G has erected a trellis and a wigwam of canes which will be used to grow beans and peas.  3 bean plants have been put in already as a trial.  As this is a new (to us)  plot everything is trial and error.  I am a complete novice and G far from expert in the matters of fruit and veg growing.  We will have to make copious notes regarding successes or otherwise so that we know what to grow next year....



One mistake we have already made is with my grape vine.  We are not sure where to site it so have left it in it's pot for now.  G put some manure on the surface then read that manure should not be used ...ooops....we'll see what happens.....




I must admit that just a short time spent earthing up the spuds and watering made me feel much better and a bit more relaxed.  I did, however, still feel guilty leaving the house.

We woke up this morning to gentle rain falling and it's still raining now.  It will do the garden and allotment a power of good.

Gratitudes

For the bin men collecting the refuse this morning but waiting until I was awake before clattering their way down the street ;)

For being able to video call DD and family last night and seeing for myself that they are all still well, happy and bouncy :)

For Boris being well enough to get back to work and show us that it is possible to survive this awful virus

What are you grateful for today?

Stay safe wherever in the world you happen to be x

Thursday, 23 April 2020

A Thank You, The NHS & The Allotment


Happy St George's Day!

Thanks so much to everyone who commented on my last post with tips and remedies to help with my cystitis episode.  It's always so much more helpful to hear of other peoples' experiences.  I know one thing:  it has made me a little scared to become ill at the moment.  To know that I had to rely on the 'Chinese Whispers' passed on by the medical receptionist and not to speak directly to either GP or nurse has worried me. I was born in 1949 and have known the comfort of the NHS all my life.  They coped with my childhood illnesses (of which there were many) my tonsil removal, my adult fevers, pregnancies, childbirth in hospital, my own children's ailments and those of my grandchildren with such care and smiling good grace so that now I feel sidelined at 70 and quite set adrift.

I remember my childhood GP 'dropping in' at home to see if I was recovering from yet another ear infection.  He would pick up the doorstep milk and bring it indoors for my mother, sit me on his knee and examine my ears gently.  He once held me when my baby brother and I both had Whooping Cough and we began coughing and retching at the same time.  Does anyone else have similar memories of home visits?

Anyway, thanks to my blogging friends I now have some Cystitis sachets in the house and some cranberry tablets on their way in the post.  I'm making sure I drink plenty of water too.  I dread another episode....


Now that we are unable to go out to buy gardening stuff like plants and compost let alone gravel for borders or stone for paths, we are concentrating on growing what we can to eat at home as well as at the allotment.  Just before lockdown we had ordered a mini greenhouse which was delivered a few weeks ago.  We decided to use it to grow some tomatoes......


If we are prevented from visiting the allotment at any stage, then we will have a small amount of home grown crops to eat.  As you can see G is starting off other seeds in there as well....


We brought our strawberry trough with us from our last home and the plants are doing really well.  The trough has a clear plastic lid to cover them up at night and keep in the warmth too.....



The Allotment

This shot shows the length of the plot rather well and how G has tidied it all up in a very short time ready to plant......



 We brought the old mini greenhouse from our last home to use to protect some seedlings now and G's beloved Canna plant over winter......



We have broad beans and cabbage under netting and some carrots, spinach and leeks in another bed....




At the very end of our plot I was delighted to find some strawberry plants!  I gave them some tlc and lots of water.  I have no idea of the variety, only time will tell...


G has tootled off to the allotment this afternoon for his daily exercise leaving me to blog and have a peaceful reading session.  I'll go with him in a day or two and take some more photos.  I'm sure we will see a big difference in the plants since these photos were taken two or three weeks ago.

Are you spending more time in your garden now?

Stay safe wherever in the world you happen to be x

Tuesday, 21 April 2020

A Good Result & A Trauma

Thank you to everyone who commented on my last post regarding the M & S food box delivery.  Your comments gave me the courage to do something about it.  After jumping through a good many hoops, including doing online 'chat' with an adviser, I obtained the customer service email address and sent off a (polite) complaint including a photograph of the damaged goods.  To give M & S their due, within 24 hours I had received a sincere apology as well as a £10 e-gift card to be used against a future purchase.  They have also promised to refund the £3.99 delivery charge.

Yesterday, I fished out the tin of corned beef to make G some sandwiches and found that the 'button' at the base of the tin can be depressed quite easily so the tin isn't sealed properly.  I dare not use it.....so another email has been sent because if it's a manufacturing problem they need to be aware of it.  It could be dangerous to eat it surely?

In the end we ate the M & S baked beans with chips for lunch, then I got out the bread maker and baked a small loaf to have with soup at teatime.  I ate the first (beautifully crusty) slice with a tin of Weight Watchers tomato soup and G had some bread with a tin of Country Veg Soup. Delicious, although I can't imagine that my WW soup has made much difference to the weight gained during lockdown....lol...

I had a bit of a trauma at the end of last week.  For the first time in my life I developed what I imagined to be cystitis ie going for a pee every half an hour and with accompanying stinging and irritation. I put up with it for 3 days then couldn't cope any longer.  I got through to the GP's surgery easily enough and, after explaining my concerns to the receptionist, was told to come to their surgery door, ring the bell and wait.  This I duly did and was given a small plastic container and instructed to provide a sample the next morning and post it through their letterbox.  I noticed on the accompanying letter that some of the symptoms had not been written down so I added them myself and popped the sample through the letterbox as instructed at 8.30am.  I waited and waited (in excruciating discomfort and extreme irritability...ask G!) then gave up and phoned for the result just before noon.  No...it hadn't been examined by the nurse yet.  I rang at 2pm.....not yet....but they will ring to discuss the result.  By 4.30pm I was afraid that the pharmacy would be closed and I would be suffering/ worrying for yet another day.  I rang again and was told that blah...blah...blah...(didn't understand a word) protein in my sample and tablets were at the pharmacy.  I made a quick dash to the village to get them.  It was really weird driving even that short distance.  I felt really guilty and kept expecting someone to stop me and ask why I was even out of the house.   Anyway, the pharmacist was really kind and explained that the tablets were antibiotics, just 3 days supply.  I assume I had cystitis and I know that GP's are so very busy at the moment but it would have been comforting to have someone explain what was wrong with me.  The tablets appear to have worked although they did upset my tummy a bit and I was dashing to the loo for another reason :/

 Anyway, does anyone have any tips to help prevent cystitis please?  I put it down to forgetting to drink during these weird days.

Gratitudes

For antibiotics when needed

For the recycling being collected again this morning (even though I had to chase my green bag down the deserted street before it disappeared entirely from sight...lol...)

For the refuse collectors who I can hear bashing their way down the street emptying the bins right now!

Stay safe wherever in the world you happen to be x

Friday, 17 April 2020

M & S Food Box Review

Last week I ordered an M & S food box online for delivery today.  Shortly after 9am there was a knock on the door and my box was on the mat.  The DPD delivery driver, Simon, was at a safe distance back at the van and after a cheery " alright Bab? " drove off to his next delivery.

The box looked exciting....


This is what I received......


Instead of the veg curry I was hoping for I got chicken pie filling, the tinned ham turned out to be corned beef and the veg soup was chicken and noodle.  So not much for me to eat there. There is, however, tinned salmon which I can eat, some peanuts for protein, and lots of sweet treats ;)
The tinned tomato soup was badly dented (we can have that for lunch today) but I was disappointed to find that almost every tin has a dent somewhere, luckily not the salmon though, so they will have to be used up sooner rather than later for safety reasons.  It's not what I would expect from M & S food.....


I'm thinking:
Pasta bake 
Quorn bolognese
Steak & Kidney with potatoes & veg (half the tin) for G
Steak & Kidney on a jacket potato (half the tin) for G
Chicken pie (if I can get ready made pastry at some point)
Salmon with parsley sauce, mash & veg

Lunches:
Beans on toast
Corned beef sandwiches
Tomato soup

The box cost £38.99 including delivery so not really very good value.  Having said that, we did get tea, coffee and the rare toilet rolls!  In comparison to my Morrisons box it can't compete for value especially in view of the dented tins though.  I won't be ordering again.

Have you tried one of these boxes? How did yours compare with mine?

Gratitudes

For being able to get food of any kind delivered to the door
For the whole street coming out to clap at 8pm yet again last night
For feeling a bit more cheerful this morning despite the announcement of a further 3 weeks lockdown  :)

Stay safe everyone wherever in the world you happen to be x

Wednesday, 15 April 2020

The Death of Cash? & A Great Book...

Yesterday, for the first time in weeks , I needed to leave the house to visit the pharmacy for something.  I felt strangely apprehensive. I recognised that the feeling deep in my gut was fear...fear!  of going shopping? Never before in my whole life have I felt that.  I drove the short distance to the village, parked up (it's now free to park until 1st July so that no-one has to touch the machine I guess) and walked the rest of the way to the pharmacy, combining my daily exercise with a necessary task.  Although there seemed to be a lot of people around and dozens queuing for the bank and the food shops, the pharmacy contained just one customer and an assistant who was wearing a mask, gloves and standing behind a glass screen.  She placed my items on the counter, I paid with my contactless debit card, picked up my items, thanked her and left.  Phew....that wasn't so bad.  I took my courage in both hands, crossed the road to Superdrug where there were just 3 customers inside, picked up the very last hand wash on the shelf and went to pay.  I was amazed and very happy to find that they had hand sanitiser right by the till.  The assistant was wearing gloves and also behind a glass screen.  I made another contactless payment, thanked her and left, taking the long route to walk back to the car.  Once inside it I used the hand sanitiser and heaved a sigh of relief.

Is this going to be the way of things for the foreseeable future?  Are we going to become a cashless society?  

I have always found budgeting much easier if I can withdraw the week's food money in cash and only spent that amount.  At the moment, everything is paid for online with a card and I'm beginning to lose track of our spending.
How are you coping with budgeting at the moment?

Long before the virus I intended to make a bucket list and tick things off as they were achieved.  I even bought an appropriate notebook.   Fat chance now!  The notebook has been utilised for meal planning so it's easy to see how my focus has changed ...lol...




I love my ruler showing 'British History Rulers' in other words the Kings in order.  Why, oh why, didn't I have this when I was at school.  Although I love tales of history I have a mental block when it comes to remembering the detail so I dropped the subject in favour of languages.....



Like many others I have been reading more and have just finished this Alan Titchmarsh novel The Scarlet Nightingale about a young English girl who worked with the French resistance during WW2.  I loved it...


Gratitudes

For a successful pharmacy visit
For yet another lovely sunny day
For followers who don't mind reading my ramblings (Welcome to Marlene)
For receiving 3 lovely phone calls yesterday which cheered me up no end :)

Stay safe everyone, wherever in the world you happen to be x

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Easter Blessings


I just popped in to wish everyone a very happy Easter.  Wishing you a peaceful and relaxing Easter weekend.

God bless you all especially the key workers who are having to carry on working to take care of us all.

Stay safe x




Friday, 10 April 2020

We Have Juice!



I was extremely lucky to get a supermarket delivery slot at short notice and have received:

Peppers x 3
A sweetheart cabbage
Swede
Tomatoes (cherry & large for slicing)
Apples x 6
Oranges x 5
2x cartons Orange Juice

I also ordered 2 ready meals to give me a break from cooking on Easter Sunday and they were both in stock...yay!

There was no washing up liquid, only 1 hand wash (no sanitizer of course), no quiche, no rubber gloves, no spring onions, no long life milk and no bread rolls.  I still have some bread flour left so all is not lost there.  I feel very fortunate, not to say relieved, that we have some fresh stuff once more.  My first small glass of juice this morning tasted like nectar.

Have a lovely Good Friday folks and do please stay at home.  I notice that a neighbour whose house backs onto our garden is working on his own garden this morning but someone who does not live there is helping.   They are laying slabs. It is so tempting to see the family this weekend but we will not.  We will make a video call instead. The Government advice is do not mix households! Very sensible in my honest opinion.  This virus is the devil incarnate.  Don't risk it....

G's bed has been stripped and the linen is blowing gently in the breeze on my whirly thing.  He says he was too hot last night so I have fished out the Summer quilt and will put that on for him tonight.

What are you planning for the weekend?

Stay safe wherever in the world you happen to be x

Thursday, 9 April 2020

Food Boxes & Boredom

DD texted me this morning to say that both Morrisons and Marks & Spencer food boxes are back.  I just wanted to give you all a 'heads up' in case one of these would help you during the crisis.

I have decided on an M & S one this time simply because I don't really need fresh meat but it seems that there is a tin of ham in there for G as well as a tin of salmon.  It's not cheap at £38.99 including delivery but I was able to ask for one to be delivered a week tomorrow, Friday 17th, to top up the store cupboard.  There are fruit boxes, veg boxes, ready meals etc   They are certainly worth a look.   If I am unable to get a supermarket delivery by the end of the month I will try to order fruit & veg from them too.  My stocks of tinned and frozen fruit are dropping alarmingly.....

Changing the subject completely, boredom is now setting in with a vengeance : ?
I feel restless and can't settle to anything much and it doesn't help that G is constantly calling me from other parts of the house:

Do you want a cuppa?...no thank you
Do you want a biscuit/cake?...no thank you
Are you sure? YES!
Where are my gardening trousers?....in the wardrobe
I can't find them...they are THERE!
Do you want to go for a walk?....No thanks, I hate walking the streets aimlessly
You really should....NO thank you
What time are we having our tea (dinner/supper) ?....are you hungry now?
No but I just wondered.... GRRR!

I think divorce will figure largely in many households once this is all over!

How is your boredom threshold? Are you occupying yourself easily?


Gratitudes

For Boris Johnson being on the mend

For our continued good health

For food supplies

Stay safe everyone wherever in the world you happen to be x

Sunday, 5 April 2020

5 A Day...Are You Getting Yours?



Thank you so much for all your comments on my last post regarding the Morrisons food box.  I'm so pleased that I wrote it because some of you hadn't heard of these great boxes and may be able to get one to top up your supplies.  Sooze mentioned the lack of eggs, tea or coffee and I really would have liked a tin of fruit, perhaps instead of one tin of soup, but the value nonetheless was pleasing.  They also do a vegetarian version for the same price.  I'm sure that contents will vary slightly because of lack of availability of stock in some areas, but I would happily order again.

Today's lunch will be a roast lunch using the chicken breasts.  I intend cooking them both at the same time then we will share one for lunch and save the other for sandwiches tomorrow.  We will have roast potatoes, carrots, peas and the last 2 remaining yorkies from the freezer, served with vegetarian onion gravy.   I'm defrosting some frozen summer fruit and will use my last pack of crumble mix to make a pudding: fruit crumble and ice cream :)

Are you finding it hard to get your 5 a day into your meal plans?  I certainly am.  I'm getting a bit fed up with eating carrots, peas and onions. Actually, I might be slowly turning into a carrot, I've never eaten so many ...lol...  I want cabbage! I long for swede! I need fruit!  It's a bit easier when we have orange juice in the fridge but we've run out.  I like a small glass in the morning to freshen up the palate but we have none...sob...seriously …. how are you coping?

Gratitudes

For G being so bored that he's washing my car! It's filthy just from sitting on the drive.

For a lovely video call on WhatsApp to DD and the GC this morning.  They were still in their PJ's at 10am and full of bounce and good spirits.

For another lovely sunny day.  I'll be sitting in the garden after lunch soaking up the vitamin D on my arms.

Enjoy your weekend everyone.  Stay safe wherever in the world you happen to be x

Friday, 3 April 2020

Morrisons Food box

In the absence of available supermarket delivery slots, I was researching veg box deliveries in the local area yesterday with no joy whatsoever.  They are all declaring that they can accept no more customers because of the huge surge in orders.  I did, by chance, come across Morrisons food boxes.  Morrisons supermarket will not deliver in my area but these boxes are being delivered by DPD so I gave it a try.  YES!  they allowed me to purchase one and it arrived in less than 24 hours!  There was a knock on my door and this box was on the step by 10am this morning.....


It was so exciting to find toilet rolls at the top! I quickly unpacked the box, laid the stuff out on the worktop then put the box in the recycling outside and washed my hands ;) ......


This is what I got for £35 including delivery:
Toilet rolls
Kitchen roll
Bread
Penne pasta
Bag of potatoes
Bag of carrots
Bag of onions
White cabbage
2 tins of soup
2 portions of microwave rice
and  A TIN OF HEINZ BEANS :) .....
EDIT and a cucumber


A block of cheese (my favourite brand)
Butter
Pasta sauce
Cravendale milk
Packet of ham......


In a separate package, wrapped in fleece and containing 4 disposable packs of ice to keep things cool was.....



A pack of steak mince
Chicken portions
Bacon
Sausages (Gluten free but I won't mention the Gluten free bit to G then he will eat them!)….



I am really pleased with the contents.  I'm thinking: cheese and potato pie; chicken curry with rice; pasta with the sauce; coleslaw made with the carrot, onion and cabbage; shepherd's pie; breakfast with bacon & sausage etc  With careful planning this box could feed 2 people for a week or a family of 4 for several days. As I don't eat meat (except a tiny bit of chicken) this should give G his meat fix for over a week. I will need to keep an eye on dates and so I froze the sausages loosely in a plastic box for later.  Well done to whoever planned the contents and a big THANK YOU to absolutely everyone involved in the packing and delivery.  You are amazing :)

Gratitudes

For ALL the supermarkets who are striving to keep the nation fed right now including donating to the struggling food banks

For everyone coming outside yet again to clap all the selfless people who are caring for all of us in one way or another.  I heard fireworks at 8pm although where they got them from is a total mystery...

For still being able to visit the allotment at the moment.  Potatoes, carrots, radishes & lettuce are in.  Yesterday, our exercise session was an hour tidying the plot in the sunshine.  Bliss.

Stay safe everyone, wherever in the world you happen to be x

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Happy Times & Gardens

After just 2 weeks of staying at home during lockdown, the thing I am most struggling with is the lack of exercise.  My 10 minutes a day walking down the main road and back are definitely not enough.  It's not a scenic route and I tend to go at dusk so as not to encounter others.  Quite frankly it's a bit depressing.  We are used to driving out of town and strolling in the fresh air not amid the fumes of the (even reduced amount of) traffic.  I don't idle about at home but I do feel sluggish and we have 10 weeks to go :(

Near where we live is Ashwood Nurseries.  We have used them for years and years because of the excellent quality of the plants, and not least because of the amazing coffee shop with homemade cakes and pastries ;)  As luck would have it the owner, John Massey, opened up his own garden to the public for charity just a week before we were warned of the lockdown.  We paid our £5 each donation and spent a wonderful couple of hours in the fresh air and stunning garden.

The Hellebores were out......


A young girl caught reading her book on a quiet bench....



A couple of stone Dachshunds looking out for visitors...


I LOVE the colours of the tree trunks in the woodland area......


And the ethereal herd of deer made from wire mesh so that the light filters gently through them....




It will be some time before we will be able to go again but I can look at my photos periodically when cabin fever sets in and count the weeks until the garden reopens to the public :)

Do you have any happy photos which you turn to to brighten your day?

Gratitudes

For the family being safe and well so far, and enjoying home schooling

For being able to catch up on my washing and another fair day to dry it all outside.

For having enough food


Stay safe wherever in the world you happen to be x


September Already?

 September already and the beginning of Autumn.  How did that happen? This year, the same as last, has flown by in a flurry of inactivity!  ...