Harvest 2017!

I’ve had some mixed results from the garden this year. We got a few peas (a meal and a bit anyway!) but were then hit by a huge heat wave in June which wiped out the next wave of them so that was a shame. I think next year I’ll try to get them in even earlier than I did.

I harvested my autumn planted white onions and shallots in early July. The onions are fabulous – the shallots not so much, the bulbs aren’t that big which I think is a water issue with our hugely dry April and I never got around to mulching them!

Swiss Chard has been a revelation, so pleased with how much it is producing, had lots of meals from it and it just keeps growing!

Garlic – I was really pleased with the number that worked but the bulbs are a bit smaller than I’d like – probably again from the very dry April when they should have been plumping up. Other friends have said the same thing. I calculate I’ve probably still got 6 months at least of garlic so all good!

So exciting picking whole meals worth of food – this was a mixed salad / baby kale and we had home grown new potatoes too – it was only the meat on the BBQ not homegrown!

We harvested over 10kg of potatoes!

Masses of basil doing really well this year that I make homemade pesto with our walnuts

Beans are now doing really well too after a bit of a disaster where I didn’t put my poles in when I planted then never got back so ended up with beans all over the floor! Luckily my sister and step-niece helped me sort them out! I won’t make that mistake again.

Gorgeous baby purple ‘Joël’ variety eggplants / aubergines:

The courgettes / zucchini are doing really well although only one of my plants is producing (I’m hoping the others may come good) it is giving me pretty much one a day! Here is another meal all home grown (other than the red pepper / capsicum):

Phew I think that is enough for one post! I haven’t quite made my aim of being totally veggie self sufficient this year but I’m heading that way and don’t have to put very much veg in the trolley at the supermarket!

What not to do!

Yesterday we had to go to Bergerac to pick up the hire van to go and fetch our boxes from the boat in the north of France. Plan was to pick up van, pop to other side of town to pick up a couple of blow up mattresses and then hubby and eldest would head north. The 10 minute trip turned into a logistic nightmare as where we needed to go was blocked off by Tour de France road blocks as the race was arriving in that afternoon. We eventually headed out to the ring road to try to go around town rather than across which ended up with us actually on the course for a bit with people already installed everywhere. I decided to take a photo of one of the decorated bridges as it was coming closer. Bit of an opps moment as I didn’t notice the Gendarme (policeman) until I’d taken the shot (on the right) – oops!


They eventually set off an hour late only to get blocked again and having to turn around and take a different route once they hit Perigueux! Needless to say it was a late arrival! The good news is they have cleared customs, collected our gear and are on the way home 🙂

Accessories for Clara-van!

I’ve found a fantastic shop which I’d never been to before – Action, I think it is Dutch but they do the most amazing homewares for next to nothing so I’ve managed to pick up some lovely things all ready to go into Clara-van. Hubby thinks I’m mad when she isn’t done yet but I know if I don’t pick things up when I see them then when I’m ready there won’t be anything I like!

Bamboo fibre crockery (much nicer than the melamine I was thinking I was going to get), wineglasses (le plastic of course!) and a salad bowl and servers:


A stove top coffee maker:


And some fab very light weight, very retro looking storage canisters!:


Caravan Renovation – fabrics for Clara-van!

After a trip to the fabric store to help concrete (or should I say sew up!) my ideas for the decor in Clara-van and hours and thousands of fabric searches on line I think I’ve decided what I’m doing. Right from the start and further decided by lots of inspiration on Pinterest and various blogs I want to do a retro / scandi sort of look with plain seat covers and bright, fun, light, bright curtains and cushions. Here is my current decision, but not promising this won’t change if I manage to find fabric I like more!

For the curtains:


Cover for the seats / mattresses:


Accent fabric for cushions:



Meet Clara-van!

Just because we obviously don’t have enough to do we have just bought a retro caravan! I’ve wanted a caravan for ages as tent camping just always seems such a hassle but I do love camping! It will also be hugely handy with visitors in the summer (yes that could be you!) and means we can look at getting Work-away people to help us with all we have going on as well.

We couldn’t go past her as she was very close and cost next to nothing (which is what we could afford to spend!). We went to see her and had a night to think on it then went back and made a list of what we needed to get to get her on the road. We ordered new tires, lights and tow bar hitch. While we were waiting for them to arrive another van of the same make came on the market, we went to have a look to see if it had lots of parts we may need and we managed to get the gas bottle holder, step and gas / electric fridge for the princely sum of €50 – a steal! Sadly the windows were broken so we still need to find a solution for the broken rear window. As to the rest there is a huge amount of cleaning, painting, reupholstering and fluffing but I have great hopes that she’ll be gorgeous when she is done. She is a 1980 Digue (a French caravan maker) 365T. Here she is once we pulled her out of the trees in the woods where she has been parked for the last 15 years or so! Note the moss I didn’t manage to get off on the roof. Hello Clara-van!



Watch this space for the renovation progress!

The Potager 2017

Months have yet again gone past without a post! In my defence I spent March in Australia for my little sisters wedding and then packing up and shipping the rest of stuff that we had in storage – it was a frantic, busy trip. When I got home it was straight into mad gardening season including playing catch up with all the seeds that should have gone in or got started in March!

We had wonderful peas but they all got wiped out a couple of weeks ago when we had a heatwave come through:


I’ve also extended my growing area into the space under the hoop house, a new round garden, a potato bed and a soft fruit bed. I’m growing butternuts, decorative gourds and baby watermelons on the edges of the hoop house and will train them up over the hoops. Tomatoes run down the centre with ropes hanging down to support them, I’m hoping it works really well, we are also going to install a drip system to help with the huge watering job.

We have so much in: beans, melons, tomatoes, 19 strawberries, raspberries, currants, gooseberries, 3 types of basil, courgette (zucchini) – both normal green ones and a climbing yellow variety, potatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflowers, kale, rainbow swiss chard, lettuce, carrots, radishes. Lots of companion plants in too – nasturtiums, calundula, marigolds and borage. The grapes look amazing this year and the plums, peaches, apples, walnuts, hazelnuts and figs seem to be no worse for wear even though we had a late frost that sent a lot of the new budding leaves black.

I’ll get some up to date pics shortly!

Chemical free DIY rosemary and lemon kitchen cleaner.

I’m slowly moving us away from harsh chemical cleaners etc in the home. The more you look at the ingredients in a lot of store bought products the less you want to subject yourself and your children to the toxic mix that most of them have! I’ve been buying more natural ones but realised that it is very easy and much cheaper to make your own. There are recipes all over the net for everything you could possibly want to make

This recipe is soooo easy if you have rosemary growing in your garden like I do.


10 springs of rosemary

The outside of lemon (I just roughly chop off the skin – some recipes I read say not to leave any of the flesh but I’ve not had an issue)

White vinegar

A big jar


I hope you can cope with this people! Put the rosemary and lemon in the jar and fill about 2/3 with white vinegar and leave to sit for a minimum of 3 days and up to a couple of weeks. That is it pretty much!

This is what it will look like after about 2 weeks:

imag5042.jpgDrain out the liquid into a bowl – isn’t the colour amazing!? I couldn’t believe how yellow it went the first time I made this – is is from all the natural oils in the lemon I think (although I guess the rosemary probably gives some of the colour too)


I then used a cloth to strain it back into the jar – there were a few little floaties and I was worried they’d clog the spray bottle if I left them in:

imag5044.jpgI then filled my spray bottle with just over 1/2 of the mixture and topped it up with water – job done – and in good time – my stove was desperate for a spray!

imag5045.jpgWhite vinegar is amazing stuff, it is naturally anti bacterial and degreasing. Lemon and rosemary add to the antibacterial properties of this cleaner as well as making it smell yummy. This is totally safe to use in the kitchen on cooking surfaces and if you have a toddler who likes to grab on run off with things (or is that just me!?) you don’t need to worry that he will come to any harm spraying this around!

If you have been thinking about trying some natural cleaners then this is a great place to start – quick, cheap, easy and it works really, really well. Let me know if you try it!


Raclette for dinner!

It was my birthday earlier in the month and J and the boys got me a raclette machine – we’ve wanted one for ages and I was thrilled with it as it is an 8 person one (most are only 6), it also has a stone top for doing meat / veg etc and 2 teflon tops for crepes etc. Through a combination of forgetting to get the ingredients and us all being unwell on and off we only tried it out last night – yum!



Wintery Winter!

We’ve had some really cold weather this winter. In January we had a couple of weeks with down to about -10c each night! Some of the frosts were so pretty. Sadly the predicted snow never arrived – even if I did rush out and buy sleds at one point.



I have enjoyed the cold and crisp but looking forward to spring around the corner. The bulbs are starting to push up and my veggie garden plans are well on the way for this year!