Streaming or running?

Not a common modern day dilemma but one that we have faced over the last month or so. Running water or streaming internet; we have both, sadly in different locations!

First of all we lost a bucket, well not so much lost as left it in an unreachable place; the bottom of the well. For three years I have turned the handle 49 times to retrieve another 10 litres of ice cold crystal clear water to be used in brews, broths and baths, and not once did I check to see if the plastic coated steel wire cable was showing signs of wear or rust. Of course after hearing the crash of the bucket as it descended 25 meters to the bottom of the black holed well I swore that I would check the next cable at least once a month.

Several, unsuccessful, attempts with hooks and magnets to retrieve the receptacle narrowed down our options to calling the fire brigade, telling them that we suspected a child had fallen down the well ‘and whilst your checking can you get our bucket’ or employing the local well cleaner to don his harness; which we had to rule out as he is still recovering from his latest fall (from a tree).

Of course we could have simply purchased another bucket and sent that down for water collection, but when you have the modern day wonder of running water available only 250 meters away in a house that provides protection from the elements, it seemed sensible to move up to the house, leave the bucket to rest and if we needed the internet then we could always go back to the stable and log on as required. Mind you the half kilometre walk and the isolation of the stable for an hour or two, when there is work to be done, have left these pages blank and without comment for quite a while now.

A poor excuse I know, not that I have to excuse my absence from the blog, but I have missed it, the people the reader and the comments and for those of you who have commented then thank you; I’ll try not to leave it so long next time to reply 🙂

GOPR1585

Early May

Ok, I’m trying out my new idea for the format of my posts to see if it works; it will also give me an opportunity to catch up on events, if not for you then for me. And if you are wondering how I have found the time to type this then it’s down to the weather and administration; the weather has turned wet and Gosia is in town ticking boxes for those nice people at the EU donations office. I don’t have long, so I better work quick!

A couple of things from April first, things that need to be recorded; the wild plumb tree came into flower on the 26th of April, the sweet cherry, sloe berry and plumb not far behind on the 29th. Apple, pear and quince just starting; looking over the valley you can spot all the fruit trees in flower indicating a house, occupied or indeed derelict. One worrying thing seems to be the lack of bees, I have only spotted bumbles so far; Gosia recalls a lot more buzzing last year, I guess the proof will be in the crop as it is highly dependant on pollination, although I not sure if this is exclusively from bees though?

The swallows are here at last, although they don’t seem to have taken up residence in the barn, not to worry; I know they must be nesting nearby as they are taking mud from the pit on the building site.

The coppiced trees seem to be doing very well, I’m getting about a 50% success rate with the silver birch and almost 100% with the willow. We have also had unintentional good luck with the elder which I cut two years ago to get rid of them; they have all coppiced and we now have an abundance of greenery soon to become flowers and berries!

Wild plumSweet cherry treeBlossom across the valley

5th, 6th of May: Looking at the 10 day weather forecast we convinced ourselves that we should be frost free from now on so we headed for the garden and top field; I think we also needed a bit of a break from the house. 45 or so pumpkins in along with maybe 20 butternut squash. These were joined by about 20 courgette and 20 sweet corn on the 10th. I will check for damage later today when we return, I think we are tempting fate by not putting up the electric fence.

As the dandelions are up I had a quick wiz round with the mower before they set seed; a job that will have to be repeated more often than I have my hair cut 🙂

I heard the first cuckoo of the year and the oats that we cast are starting to sprout, giving the top field a new look of dappled green. Also noticed the Lilac tree flowering and the odd sight of horse radish in flower, which I had never noticed before. We have lots growing around the land and we are careful to avoid them when strimming as they are a key ingredient in many pickles and preserves.

LilacHorse radish in flower

7th of May: Good news, bad news; the electricity was finally connected without drama or tripping fuses, I’m all set to tackle the rest of the house now. Bad news, the plaster around the windows is cracking. A combination of vibration from the opening and closing of the windows and our poor attempt at getting lime render to try and stick to wood and expanding foam; the fiberglass mesh we used to help the process has failed to perform as we had hoped. The rest of the day was spent chipping off any loose render so that we could have another try. I guess we were lucky that we hadn’t started to take down the scaffold!

8th of May: We have been thinking about getting another dog and Gosia has looked at quite a few dog rescue websites to find a suitable playmate for Jackie (not quite true as Jackie doesn’t like other dogs) but you never know. Gosia finally found what can only be described as a Springer, Setter cross’; Zara. We headed off  first thing in the morning and she was part of the family by noon.

Zara

We think we have a solution for the window surrounds; the render that is used for the polystyrene insulation is quite flexible, so we have decided to give it a go. First coat completed by the end of the day, ready for a second tomorrow.

9th and 10th of May: Whilst the new render solution isn’t ideal in that it’s not a natural product, it does seem to be doing the job. second and third coats applied as required, then sanded down to blend in with the lime surround.

New render around windows
New render around windows

Jackie fell off the top level of scaffolding! All I heard was the thud as she landed on the bottom level, about 4 meters below and Gosia shouting for me to get there asap. I ran round the building shouting to try and find Jackie’s location, heart beating fast and a sense of dread; but of course I couldn’t find the black lifeless shape of a dog anywhere, she had already dusted herself off and was heading back up the scaffold! A heart stopping moment and a ban on dogs on scaffold has now been imposed.

Spider dog

And just in case you are worried about an overflow, I emptied the composting toilet, although this was in no way related to the events of Jackie falling off the scaffold:)

11th of May: Final sanding down of render and painting with a primer so that the lime wash will take, a good tidy up, a weed around the various plots of land and eviction notices left for the few mice that seem to think that our house is available for occupation. Chicken soup tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it.

Monday 13th of May: Catching up with the blog 🙂 Hope to read a few before we head off later today.

Time

I once read an article about the concept of time and whilst I don’t have it to hand I seem to remember the premise of the discussion.

The old saying that time fly’s when you are having fun is based around the fact that you lose sense of the reality of time as you are preoccupied with whatever it is that you are doing. On the other hand if you are bored, with little to fill your time, then time drags as you are forever conscious of time as you have little else to think about.

Oddly enough if you reflect upon the past and you have filled that time with interesting and eventful events then your concept of time is lengthened, in that you can rely on the event markers you have to give you a true concept of time past; even to the point that you may think that something happened longer ago than it actually did. Quite the opposite if you don’t have these markers and your life has followed a more humdrum path; as Pink Floyd put it ‘And then one day you find, ten years have got behind you’ and that’s just it, time past goes faster, even if it was slow at the time it happened!

So what’s my point? Well it’s only loosely connected, a tenuous link so to speak; I just haven’t had the time to blog! Not to mention read, comment or like on many of the blogs that I normally follow, not that any of these are mundane, it just the house is taking over 🙂

So don’t be surprised if my format changes a little; it may become more of a diary of events reflected on a weekly basis, which may be as unexciting as ‘the lilac tree is flowering’ or ‘I emptied the toilet again’ who knows? I keep taking the photos; I just don’t get the time to write about it.

After all one of the reasons I started to blog is because I was no good at keeping a diary; the added impetus of sharing my thoughts has so far kept me going, views, follows, comments and likes all play their part in motivating me to continue; the vanity of blogging I guess? So be warned or relieved that from now on I may only be posting once a week and hopefully without rambling on too much 🙂 And apologies if Poland doesn’t pop up in your stats as often, I try to read as and when I can, normally when I’m eating, so comments may be thin on the ground 🙂

‘And you run and you run to catch up with the sun, but it’s sinking, racing around to come up behind you again’

A short compilation

I feel a bit guilty; I haven’t really posted anything recently, at least nothing that follows the loose blog theme that I have.

I have had a few ideas, I even have a few drafts which explore some of the journeys that I have taken since I took up temporary residence in Yorkshire, but I just can’t seem to put it together in my head or on paper; albeit electronic.

It’s strange, but I have read quite a few of my favourite blogs and it seems to be a common affliction, even if the reasons behind the doldrums may differ for other bloggers; I’m wondering what the underlying problem may be for me in particular?

I started writing this last night and never got any further, but after my journey to the shops this morning I managed to clear my head;  helped by the blizzard conditions, change the title and came up with a structure for this post.

First off is Sedbergh, I have family there and I planned to meet my other sister as she was holding a pointer day along with my aunty. Our family have been involved in the breeding of pointers for over 80 years, which explains why they were holding a pointer day, although I have a distinct lack of pictures of the event, or Sedbergh for that matter; but I did stop and admire the views on route.

It was a great day out, especially if you like pointers and I got to see one of my cousins for the first time in over twenty years and we made the most of our time, taking a walk around the surrounding counntryside and catching up, as the dedicated pointer people talked about pointer things 🙂

I pass by Ribblehead Viaduct every time I head over to Settle or Skipton for shopping or other such adventures! So I thought it only right to take a few pictures of this outstanding feat of engineering. The local myth is that the foundations are built upon wool, litrially; although after a little bit of research I discovered that the viaduct is built from the money from the woollen industry. I love the fact the it was built with a curve so that passengers of the train could admire the structure as the passed over it; the link above is worth a read, although there are many other references on the web for more information if you’re interested. I remember seeing the Flying Scotsman on the Settle to Carlisle line, which passes over the viaduct, as a child and placing a 2p coin of the track so that the train would run over it and I would have a memento of the event; I have no idea what happened to it, but I remember the moment! As you head on down the road you get to see the impressive Pen-y-ghent, which I scaled several times during my childhood.

As you may imagine, if you are aware of the weather in the UK at the moment, many of these roads are now impassable due to the heavy snow fall of the last few days; which scuppered a few of my plans, including my trip to Wigan to attend a Straw Bale workshop. I really sorry I missed it as it would have been a great opportunity to meet new people and learn a some new skills, but for the record check out www.wiganallotmentnetwork.org.uk ; a fantastic organisation with lots of community activities going on.

snowed in 23rd March 2013 (2)Road to Ribblehead

That was the condition of the roads, never mind the path through the fields down to the village.

Once I got to the shops they had run out of bread, amongst other things and a brief conversation soon revealed that they hadn’t received a delivery in two days! Just as well I have plenty of flour in 🙂

I just hope it clears for next weekend as I head off to Holland to see my beloved Gosia; I’m so looking forward to seeing her again after almost three months of separation. Thank you to Lady Sighs for providing the perfect words for how I feel.

Hoping your all safe and warm, I know I am now that I’m back from my trip to the shops 🙂

Blogging: real-time education.

I occasionally search for other blogs with a similar subject matter to my own and I was rewarded in the last couple of days when I found http://vibrantenergies.wordpress.com/ an inspiring site for anyone who has an interest in straw bale construction. The detail provided expands upon my own write up of our straw bale house and the I have nothing but admiration for the team as they have built without plans and no real assistance from outside contractors; a true inspiration.

As anyone who reads my blog you will know, I tend to go beyond the subject of straw bale and as our future plans include the running of a self sufficient small holding, with bed and breakfast on the side, my search for relevant blogs stretches far and wide.

One site that has really caught my eye is the great Sugar Mountain farm, the livestock farming methods described are fascinating and I would love to go down the route of pasture pigs (sheep and chickens) as it will reduce our reliance on commercial feed; something that we would like to avoid altogether. The detailed information provided on the methods used and the reassurance that they have to deal with very similar climate conditions to those that we experience in Poland has convinced me that this will be a route that we take once we have completed the house. It will certainly raise the eyebrows of the local farmers who still marvel at the fact that we kept our sheep outside last year, never mind pigs!

As you would imagine there are a number of blog sites dedicated to running smallholdings and crofts, growing crops, animal husbandry and self sufficiency in general; many of which I subscribe to. In doing so I have access to so much valuable information that is written from experience rather than the prescribed methods set down in the many text books on the subject; and for me this a great example of the power of the blog. Of course this is in turn powered by the internet, but as we all know the internet in itself can be very confusing and provide conflicting and somtimes out of date information; what the blog format brings is real-time information from real people and as a rule you can get in touch with the author and ask them questions. I cannot think of a better format to educate oneself in your subject of interest and expand your knowledge further as you are drawn to the comments of others and invariably follow the links to the commentators own blog. My understanding and growing interest in permaculture has evolved as I have followed the route above and an honourable mention has to go to Deano at the sustainable smallholding; he provides detailed guidence as he journeys through his permaculture diploma. His dedication, enthusiasm, willingness to try something new to satisfy his own curiosity and the fact that he has spent the time to share his experience make this a must read if you want to explore the subject further.

It is also good to see that many bloggers decide to go that extra mile and I was pleased to see that Under the Linden Tree is involved in the creation of the Sanctuary Network, although it is still in its infancy I hope that its membership and ethos can spread far and wide; why not sign up and join in, the more the merrier 🙂

There are of course many other blogs which I follow and read, often making my laugh, cry, cringe or contemplate; I have listed a few of my favourites in a previous post so make yourself a brew and take a look, you may be surprised on what is on offer.

Missing post

After struggling to find the time to write a post I found a ‘saved in drafts’ (great blog by the way) and thought I could quickly publish it with a few witty comments to try and make up for my lack of attention to blogging.

After a quick edit and spell check I thought I had posted it, only to find this evening that it has gone missing! And despite my best efforts to find a temporary copy lurking on my laptop, it appears to be gone forever 😦

Without the time or energy to rewrite it I will surmise the entry as a ‘how to’ germinate chilli’s and making sure you get them in pots on your windowsill any time now; it will save you money and you and up with three products; Fresh Chilli, Chilli Flakes and, if you have the patience, Cayenne pepper (made from the ground seeds). I’ll try and rewrite it when I convince my sister that she should have a few plants going on her windowsill, even if there not likely to make it outside in the fickle Yorkshire summer.

So what’s happening, why no posts, no replies to comments, very little reading of your posts? All I can say is I have entered into a life of servitude, I am not only the chief cook and bottle washer, you could also add baker, cleaner, plumber, driver, shopper, electrician, mechanic, wood cutter, fire starter, recycler and all round handyman 🙂 I just don’t have the time! That’s not strictly true, but by putting this down in my blog I’ll find out if my sister is reading it and if I never blog again then call the police and tell them to search for a shallow grave in the Dales:)

I have a little bit of work lined up, helping my nephew out with some dry stone walling at Bolton Abbey, so another feather in my cap if it comes about; although I hope the weather improves a bit first!

Ok, that’s it for now, I did manage to get some photos today which I hope to post soon, but I don’t want to post too much now just in case this one disappears as well 🙂

Random post

First of all, thank you Tracey and Solarbeez for helping me out with my problem viewing pages and apologies to anyone who is wondering where the post went that may have appeared in their reader and then disappeared. A brief explanation is that my internet provider stores pages on their servers, so when I try and view my site I see the one that they have copied. Even if I have updated my site, I might not see the changes until they update the copy they hold. For those of you who even bothered to read that, I added a page today Volunteers, check it out, I await your emails 🙂

But back to the topic of this post, ‘Random Post’ It is probably one of my most used buttons when I first discover a new blog. Of course I always check that latest post, normally followed by the About Page; I like to know who I’m reading about. and then I normally move onto the Random Post button from the WordPress menu; under the heading of the blog you are visiting, top left.

http://shapeofthingstocome.org/
Thank you to http://shapeofthingstocome.org/ for the screen grab, please visit and try a random post 🙂

I think it’s all too easy just to check out the last post that someone has posted and this can often lead you with a false impression of the blog you have just visited, even reading the about page doesn’t always give you an insight into the type of blog you may end up reading, or even following. So that’s why I head for the Random Post link, not only does it give you more of an insight, you often discover developing styles and occasionally come across some real gems that you wouldn’t normally expect from the author.

Of course I sometimes set myself the task of reading every post that they have ever published, but this can take quite some time with some of the more established sites, so once again Random Post can save the day and even if you only read one extra page every time you visit, you will soon catch up with them all 🙂

So go on, next time you visit a new blog, or even go back to one you might follow, hit the random button and be enlightened. Maybe even leave a comment and remind the person of something that they have forgotten about as I did today with Ladysighs 🙂

It was that cold my MP3 player stopped working!

It’s not actually that cold, but it is true that my MP3 player stops working when the temperature is below zero. It took me a while to work it out as I thought the battery was on the blink and the unit was no longer holding a charge, but then after several experiments it appeared that I could get my player to work if I held it in my gloved hand. Strange but true! I’m glad I solved the problem before the Archers omnibus on Sunday.

But that’s not the reason for this post, in fact there is no reason for this post; it’s just a bit of a ramble.

Gosia seems to be doing well in Holland and the work isn’t too hard (maybe it is, I’m making this up), if anything I think she would like to find another job to help make the days pass quicker; I have of course reminded her that I’m still waiting for her to make my crocheted underwear in the hope that would distract her for a while and keep the hooks in motion, but it seems she can’t find a coarse enough yarn for the purpose! Although I understand that as the cold weather hits Holland she has being busy crocheting hats.

To her delight she has discovered that the largest covered market in Europe is on her doorstep and the Turkish market in particular is full of wonderful foods and spices at a remarkably low price, so fresh fruit and veg is the diet of choice; so much for my objections to globalisation! I pointed her in the direction of Food and Forage Hebrides for some great spicy recipe ideas.

I’m looking forward to visiting her as soon as the opportunity arises, I spend my days thinking of excuses so I’m sure I’ll come up with a plan soon:)

My earlier thought about knitted underwear reminded me of a great film that I watched recently ‘The Hairdressers Husband’ which then reminded me to tell you about Beetlypete again, who has started a fascinating series of posts on great films from around the world, which in turn has led me to try and discover some of the wonder he has found in the many titles he recommends. Well worth a look, even besides the film reviews.

As it is Friday today meat is off the menu, a tradition that is rooted in the dominant catholic religion of Poland, not that I mind this at all as I can quite happily survive on a vegetarian diet; only occasionally getting the urge to eat red meat! But I do get this urge and that is why we intend to keep animals for meat in the future, not so that we can gorge ourselves silly with fistfuls of blood dripping flesh, but so we can have a controlled and balanced diet; knowing where our food is from and knowing how it was treated before it reaches our plate is something we want to achieve. We experimented with lamb this year and even though the slaughtering was a little traumatic we needed to go through the process to make sure it would be a viable idea for the future. Gosias family is already converted to this strange meat so I can see a small flock developing this year.

Having conducted a bit of research yesterday following the ‘My Lidl Pony’ scandal I was shocked to find that many small farmers, crofters, smallholders and even some of the bigger players in the market have culled their herds of pigs this year as the cost of feeding is now greater that the price offered by the supermarkets. This article on the animal slaughter, brought to my attention by Stonehead provides more detail, but with an expected pork price rise of between 15 and 50% predicted for next year I’m hoping to buy some good breeding stock to help support my Polish family as pork is by far the most widely eaten meat in this part of Europe. Mind you hopefully one of the consequences of this drastic action will be that pork is produced and sold at a more realistic price in the future, at least it may give some of the smaller free range breeders a chance to sell and make a bit of money for a change.

Mind you these things are all a long way off and I need to get off my lazy backside and get on with the house before I have any time for all this animal husbandry, never mind all the other plans that seem to be floating around in my head. Unfortunately the ten day forecast and predicted low temperatures are still putting me on hold; along with my Walkman 🙂

 

unwanted ads

If you read my post on Awards then you should read this as well, I had no idea about the adverts. Mind you I guess it’s also a sign of your success if wordpress start to advertise on your blog; none on mine yet! Thankfully

Ripe Red Berries

That’s what I recently found on my blog. I was horrified. Why are these ads on my blog? Who did this? I don’t support these companies! That would go against so much of what I write about, so much of what makes me – me. I was saddened. Here I am sharing my life and then (unbeknownst to me), some terrible video advertisement is imbedded at the bottom of my post. Gasp. I needed to know where it came from and more importantly, how to get rid of it. I did a little research and learned the ads were placed by WordPress.

At WordPress they sometimes display advertisements on your blog to help pay the bills. WordPress says,“this keeps free features free.” I get it. I realize (now) that I overlooked this fact when I agreed to start this blog with WordPress. Too bad for me, though I doubt…

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Be aware of awards

I was recently nominated for an award by one of my few readers, http://solarbeez.com/, something that I was very flattered to receive. I have followed Solarbeez for a number of months and enjoy reading his articles on natural beekeeping and his other ethical living antics, take a look for yourself.

Curious as I am, that and the fact that I have lots of time on my hands at the moment, I thought I would look into the awards system in more detail and in doing so I came across this article: http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/how-to-nominate-bloggers-for-awards-etc?replies=3

Now even though I don’t fully understand the technical side of this article it seemed to me that the best thing to do was not to get involved in a chain, despite the fact that the nomination was genuinely given by Solarbeez and I’m certain he also received his nomination in good faith; I simply didn’t think it was a good idea to perpetuate the chain any further.

Of course I may well have lost the opportunity to gain more viewers and followers because of this, but then that’s not the reason I’m blogging, I’m blogging for me; as Beetleypete recently put it ‘It is like a diary, just one that you let others read. So, treat it just like that, and see it as a bonus if someone else is interested.’ I’ve followed Beetleypete since I started blogging, a truly random find that I’m glad I made. He has some very interesting stories to tell and is willing to share his opinion on a number of items, and whilst I don’t necessarily always agree with him; I enjoy reading him; he has a great style of writing that I wish I could emulate.

I then started to think that perhaps I should have continued the chain so as not to cause any offence to anybody, and generate some traffic for all those involved, keeping everyone happy?

One of the requirements of many of the awards, that I have seen, is to list a number of things about yourself that you haven’t previously disclosed; this in itself would be a real challenge for me as I tend not to hide much and if I don’t reveal something it’s probably because I don’t want to. You are also encouraged to nominate a number of blogs for the same award that you have received; in this particular case up to fifteen. Now I don’t even follow fifteen blogs so I think I would struggle to come up with many nominees, or should I simply nominate them all, inspiring or not?

Talking of inspiring, you should take a look at Leaf and Twig as I do for a daily dose, I’m not sure how he does it, but he comes up with a great picture and words to match; every day! Or maybe you want to be inspired in the kitchen, then head over to Food and Forage Hebrides or Ripe Red Berries for great recipes and real life content, not just cooking;. Of course you could also go to Musings from Stonehead or The Foragers Year two great sites that seem to have almost accidentally added a great selection of unexpected recipes in between there specialist subjects. I’m slowly reading through both of their blogs and enjoying the task, although it could be some time before I catch up.

So maybe that’s the answer, rather than nominating blogs without having the opportunity to cast a vote for a ‘ self marketing award’ with an unknown beneficiary somewhere down the chain,  I should write a post and tell my meagre readership of the blogs that I like at the moment and why I like them.

I know that I would definitely mention pasdelouptech for her quirky cartoons which I don’t always understand, as well as Uphilldowndale for glorious pictures and memories of a land that I left behind with the added bonus of the Further Adventures of Spud the Dog; a winning combination.

But maybe I’ll leave that post for another day, or another blog; it’s too far away from my normal subject matter 🙂

Blogged up!

As the cold weather traps me indoors at the in-laws I thought I would have loads of time to devote to blogging, reading, planning, learning Polish and getting my paperwork in order.

And guess what, I haven’t achieved anything; I’m blogged up!

True I have started to map our land in an Excel spread sheet to help with crop planning in the future, but I’ve only started and I’m a long way from finishing! I’ve read a few books of self sufficiency and gardening, but I haven’t really read them, I’ve flicked through and read a few articles; soon becoming bored. Any paperwork I attempt to do is stopped by some insurmountable problem, a missing document , an out of date or missing stamp of authority which puts the paperwork back in the ‘to do’ pile. And I won’t even mention my attempt to master the Polish language beyond please and thank you, because I just can’t seem to get myself into gear on that one, coming up with any number of excuses or alternative things to do.

As for blogging, well I suppose I’m doing it now, but as is normally the case, I can think of the title but have no real idea of the direction of content that will follow and I come to an abrupt standstill.