Archives for posts with tag: kitchen

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Latest discovery from the Rayburn. We had some forgotten black grapes and on-the-turn organic tomatoes, so I halved the toms and tipped them and the pluckesld grapes into a roasting tin with a little oil and thyme from the garden.

I didn’t season, partly because Kester might well get some and partly because I didn’t want to encourage the juices to seep. I then put them in the low oven of the Rayburn for a day or two. Well, OK, I did forget about them a bit but they have turned out lovely.

The grapes have an intense, not-quite-raisin taste. I expect they will keep for a couple of days in the fridge, so I think I will use them in a salad with goats cheese or halloumi.

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Check out the rubble-free wall and new flower bed.

Check out the rubble-free wall and new flower bed.

After a very hectic few weeks it’s high time I updated the blog with our progress. When you’re in the midst of work it can seem that nothing is being achieved, so it’s good to sit back and gather my thoughts about all the changes. I am typing this sat in my almost-decorated kitchen while our second WWOOFER enjoys a quiet evening off after an afternoon of constructing supports for the bird nets on our new veg beds. We signed up as WWOOF hosts last month and, with the help of two volunteers, since then we have:

  • Removed the eyesore rubble that has been sat outside the house since we excavated the inglenook
  • Created 5 new vegetable beds and one flower bed
  • Moved 6 barrow loads of snowdrops from our compost area to a new location on the north lawn so they can be admired from the kitchen window
  • Painted the bare plaster in the kitchen white
  • Carried out a survey of the land and made a topographical map of the terrain
  • Cleared most of the shrubs in the centre of the lawn
  • Hung folding chairs on the wall in the sun room
  • Gleaned and chopped enough firewood for us to not have ordered logs for nearly a month.

In other words – got cracking on a to-do list that would otherwise have taken us months. Here’s a picture of Vincent, our current WWOOFER, digging a bed in the sunshine on Saturday – spot the photographer.

Vincent digging

While all this has been happening we’ve been battered by wet and windy weather. Not much fun for us or our volunteers but the strong winds have provided free firewood from some of the trees and we have cut off some precarious dead limbs as a precaution.

On Friday we have a site visit from the Woodland Trust to discuss planting a woodland in the field, now that Jo and Phil’s Hebridean lambs have returned to their mums before going to market.

The other big change has been a personal one for me as, for the first time in more than 21 years, I am no longer in formal paid employment. I decided the financial cost of childcare and travel, and the emotional cost of being away from the family for days every week, was too great and have decided not to return to working as a subtitler after my maternity leave ends next month. This was a really hard decision as I did love my job and we do need a second income. So, until we win the lottery, I’m doing freelance writing work – mainly creating blog posts for companies overseas, which explains in part why I have not been updating my own blog! I’m working for a good friend, have completely flexible hours and the extra money has made a big difference to the family finances.

The final change in the last month has been upgrading the sash windows in the playroom, the south windows in the lounge and the kitchen. These were all rotting and the new windows are a big improvement – reducing draughts and greatly improving the outward appearance of the house. We’re hoping to overhaul some of the other windows ourselves and get more done by Ventrolla when we can afford to.

Finally, I have to wax lyrical about all the signs of spring bursting up around the house. We have more snowdrops than we know what to do with and, in the new bed by the kitchen door, we’ve planted some of the snowdrops, daffodils, cowslips (kindly donated by Janet) and the campanula Fiona brought us. I really can’t wait to get cracking on the garden and have been spending a ridiculous amount of time collecting ideas on Pinterest.

New flower bed

New flower bed

Christmas is almost here and Plunton feels pretty much ready. Here is a picture of the kitchen from Friday morning (when I was making mince pies). Sadly the kitchen no long looks like this but for the best possible reason – we’ve had to cover everything with dust sheets so the plasterer can fix up the walls. They’ll be back tomorrow to do the last wall and the ceiling so, hopefully, I can use it on Tuesday for all my Christmas dinner prep.
kitchen_mincemeat
Once the plastering is finished we can sit back smugly and feel satisfied that we have achieved all we had hoped to by Christmas (and a little bit more!) Plunton is now water tight, warm (thanks to the wood-fired heating) and I have a proper kitchen to cook in. We can also get going on more of the small-scale jobs we can do ourselves in the New Year – decorating the shower room and kitchen for a start, plus the play room, and start to think about our outdoor plans. More on that in the next post.

Settling in to something of a routine now, with Monday often the most productive day of the week for me as Arthur does not need taking to nursery. Inspired by the lovely bread this weekend I set to on a baking binge, making a mixed flour and spelt loaf (one for now, one to freeze) and some orange and spelt loaf cakes, as well as a veggie stew with cheese and herb scones for tea.

While the bread was rising I set to work on the flagstones in the larder. Having ripped up the old lino there were still some stubborn black patches of old glue. I also wanted to try out cleaning the flagstones to see how they came up. I made up a bowl of warm water with some detergent in it (I ended up using a tsp each of Bio-D detergent and nappy cleaner) and set to with the scrubbing brush bought at the local agri supplies business Tarff Valley. Actually, I think it might be intended for grooming horses but it’s a nice shape to hold, made in the UK and has good sturdy bristles.

This did a good job of getting up the grime but not getting off the sticky black stuff. Cue what has to be the most versatile DIY tool ever – the paint scraper. The cleaning solution combined with the scraper and a bit of welly got it off in no time. In fact, I’d done the whole floor before the bread dough had proved. There is one stubborn patch which didn’t get completely cleared as the stone in that area is quite pitted so I’ll have to think of an alternative method for there, possibly involving the sander.

Next decision – how to seal the floors once cleaned. I don’t really fancy the chemical sealants on offer and had heard you could use linseed oil but am a bit worried about that turning rancid. Suggestions and experiences of sealing stone floors or tiles much appreciated!

The final task of the day was going to the open evening at Arthur’s nursery. Iris and Matt had not seen it and Iris seemed to particularly enjoy seeing what her brother gets up to. She also saw old pictures of her school friends who used to go to the same nursery.

As Dad is retiring from the electrics game, he’s also handing over some of his power tools for us to keep and use. One of these is a small jack hammer. Having chatted to the son of the former owner, Benji, we suspected there might still be an original cast iron range behind the obviously covered over and tiled area in the kitchen. So, with three other adults in the house to babysit, I decided to don my work clothes and get busy. The first picture is what was left an hour or so later.

It was the work of a few minutes to chisel off the beige tiles and then the real work began to see what was underneath. Alas, no range in place but there is an inglenook, backfilled with rubble and what appears to be the remnants of a bird nest.

inglenook birds_nest

These pictures were taken inside the cavity. The plan is to take a sledgehammer to what’s left and reveal and inglenook for a possible future range cooker.

rubble  stone stone 2