The last couple of days have been busy but most of all, they have been fun. On Friday we had a very gentle start because Mr J had been in London on Thursday and didn't get home until the small hours. With a friend, he went to watch the recording of radio 4's The News Quiz radio programme at Broadcasting House and had a fabulous time.
I pottered in the kitchen, trying to decide the best place for the kitchen island which we will create from the kitchen units we found via Gumtree. I also did a bit of baking because we were expecting visitors and, quite frankly, I don't need much excuse or reason to bake a cake. So I made my favourite gluten free lemon drizzle cake and some gluten free fairy cakes topped with caffeine free coffee icing.
Friday afternoon we had a visit from Helen of the Valerie Chicken blog and Jane from The Kennixton Flock. We drank tea, ate cake, laughed much and talked about hens, pigs and sheep. As requested, Helen brought some of her pork and I happily purchased some chops, a roasting joint and some sausages.
The sausages were lovely, I am supposed to be eating gluten free but they looked and smelled just too nice not to have tried them!
I showed Helen and Jane around our little smallholding, waving my arms around saying 'and over there we'll have x, y or z' and 'this soggy mud patch will have all our raised beds in it'. It's difficult to explain it all, when in my mind I can see exactly how it will look and how it will be organised but sharing my ideas with them made me realise just how much work we have ahead of us!
On Saturday we did some chores in the local town and then headed off to Newport to visit a large DIY store. Poor Mr J was tasked with heaving huge bales of peat-free compost into the trolley and then the car while I carried a bag of seed trays and onion sets. Those bags of compost that looked so large in the car now look like little pimples sitting in the yard waiting to be used.
After a fairly busy week I was tired last night and was neither much of a conversationalist nor much company last night and I headed up to bed fairly early. I slept for a full forty minutes before I woke up again thinking it must be morning. Now I may be an early riser but even I know that ten past eleven at night is too early to get up for the day! So I read for a while and managed to get back to sleep again before too long.
Today we have been over the bridge once again to collect another Gumtree find. A neat little chicken house which will provide us (not us, the chickens) with some additional sleeping space when the next girls arrive.
This afternoon we have had a delicious roast pork meal with homemade apple sauce. I smiled to myself when I realised just how much of the meal was locally grown (the potatoes) or that I knew it's source (the pork from Helen) or was home made (apple sauce made last year using my daughter's windfall apples). I'm looking forward to later in the year when most of our meals will come from the garden.
As I glanced out of the window I spotted what looked like some of the trees in the paddock had blossom on their bare branches. I'm a bit surprised as its still January, so after we'd eaten I headed out to investigate and they are indeed in bloom.
I looked around at neighbouring hedgerows and there are several trees very obviously covered in little flowers. I believe that our trees are plum trees and I'm hoping that the blossoms don't get destroyed in the storm that is currently brewing outside.
I also saw that the old elderberry tree is growing well too. The paddock used to be covered in commercial size glass houses and when the previous owners moved in, they discovered this old elderberry growing inside one. It is tipped over and the main trunk grows horizontally, parallel to the ground and the branches mostly grow straight upwards. This makes the flowers and berries easy to reach when it comes to making elderflower cordial and wine. I like the way that lichen has grown on the tree making it look gnarled.
6 Nations starts next weekend, so my domestic and social activities as well as the blog posts will have to happen around the matches, as I will be ensconced on the sofa watching each match. I haven't broken the news to Mr J yet, but luckily he doesn't mind that during major tournaments he becomes a rugby widower. It will be strange not being at any of the 6 Nations matches this year, in fact I haven't been able to get to any matches for the whole of this season. For the previous three seasons I had been at every Bristol Rugby home match (and a few away matches too) as my job was with them, but for now I have to follow the lads' efforts via Twitter, their website or the radio. I am looking forward to having enough stamina to go to a match again and I think it won't be too long before I can do that, and then next year I should be able to head to Cardiff to watch some of the 6 Nations matches.