Thursday 31 December 2015

So, that was 2014. I was going to write a full colour, links and photos year end review but I feel too tired to do it. I am so glad we have got past the Shortest Day as I loath the dark days of winter. The short, sunless days make me feel gloomy and tired and fed up and yes, depressed. I am not depressed for any other reason that I know of but every year I feel dreadful - I believe it is SAD and as soon as the days begin to lengthen I feel better :) But at the moment even trying to be up beat and positive is an effort.

But I have had a think about this year and actually just focussing on the great things that have happened this year has made me feel better :) so I will just highlight a few things from 2014.

Strange to say the biggest and most positive thing to happen to me was getting bitten at the end of June by a Blandford Fly and getting Very Ill Indeed as a result. I know that sounds a bit odd, but being in Hospital for three days and bed ridden for another two weeks and really very ill indeed gave me lots of time to think and ponder about  my health. So I did something about it at last - I went on a new way of eating and have lost six stone since 28th June. I also found out along the way that I have a huge problem with wheat and if I eat any now I am very ill indeed, so I don't. This has meant some modification to our diets so I can avoid wheat and gluten but it has been worth it in terms of health and well being.

Also during the Summer we as a family took up Archery. We now shoot several times a week and have made new friends, have our own bows and kit and are beginning to see improvements in our aim! Great fun and very good for posture and core strength.

I have also welcomed new chickens to Compost Mansions both large and very tiny indeed! The Seramas are a hoot - they are so funny and entertain us all enormously with their silly antics and fun. The Big Girls watch them with bemusement (I think) but continue to provide eggs and turning-over-the-veg-patch duties for us.

The three cats continue to delight and entertain and give love - and lots of dead things as "gifts". Tabitha in particular is a very good ratter and can catch several per day. Good puss!

Despite illness in the Summer I have been out and about a fair bit this year - both as a Master Composter promoting home composting; as a Love Food Hate Waste cookery demonstrator promoting home cooking and real food and with various Arts and craft events and on trips away.

I have also engaged more my artistic and crafty side and have had a go at both needlefelting with Gretel Parker  and silver jewellery making with Hannah Willow. I have also been to many more book launches and gallery exhibitions and charity auctions than usual and have come away with some beautiful unique items. Featuring several times this year have been trips to see artist and author Jackie Morris and Karin of Celestine and the Hare, fibre artist and creator of magical mayhem. Also visits to talented  friend Tamsin Abbott to hear her speak and see her in action at her workshop.

I had a memorable solo trip round Wales at the end of August where I sat by the sea, re visited beaches and sacred sites from my childhood, saw family, watched Ospreys, walked through Slate mines and visited blogging friends. I must go again, soon.

I also met many people this year who I have never met in real life but know well via the internet - I finally met up with John "Compost" Cossham and Deb Millar at the Green Gathering and fellow Forest School Leader Jan came for a visit on her way home to Scotland - I also had a great time meeting up with friends from THD forum at the Conference and at the Christmas get together in Birmingham.

Other stuff has happened here - Compostman and Compostgirl are well; the wood grew, the veg garden flourished and the polytunnel produced loads of food although all was less tidy than normal due to my enforced absence due to illness during July and most of August. The new patio and the flower beds around it were a great success though and I had a wonderful supply of cut flowers from the cutting garden as well as loads of herbs from the new herbery - it all looked fab as well from inside the house.

We still have not started on the pond filling/ digging new one yet though! I have also had a rethink about the new pond in the garden area - because I don't want to attract Blandford Flies and because we use the grass area to shoot over and a pond would stop it being used for Archery.

But this year has been mainly about changes for me; new friendships and moving outside my comfort zone a little; going off on a solo holiday, dramatically changing the food I eat, getting a new car (had the old one for 12 years so this was a big change for me!) and of course always learning new crafts.

I hope I continue to learn and grow and change in 2015. I do hope to visit more sacred sites in 2015 than I managed this year; I want to go back to Avebury, see some long barrows, Silbury Hill again and hopefully re visit Stonehenge now it is less cluttered by a road!  And I must finish some of the WIPs in the quilting and crochet piles! I also have jewellry making kit to play with, now ;)

One thing is sure life is never dull here.

I also hope I meet up with more of you in 2015, I love meeting up with blogging buddies so please if you are in my area do get in touch and let's try to meet up :) If you "do" Facebook and want to friend me personally (as opposed to the Compost Bin Fb page)  - send me an email with your real name so I recognise you when the friend request comes in, otherwise I won't know who you are :)

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year and a wonderful 2015. xxx

Thursday 26 February 2015

I was  sent a link by a friend to this. We all feed the birds in our garden but one young girl in Seattle is luckier than most. She feeds the crows in her garden - and they bring her gifts in return. Wonderful stuff, so magical that the girl has such a close bond with a wild creature.

But made me a bit sad as it reminded me that when I was young I had Magpies who would come to me and bring me shiny gifts. I reared a Magpie chick (his nest had been robbed - he was on the ground, barely alive and with no feathers yet) I fed him mashed stuff and, when he fledged I taught him to fly - and he then went off and came back with more magpie friends (wild ones) and got me to feed them. I loved him, and he would ride on my wrist like a hawk ( by his own choice - no jesses) when I rode my pony on the Common.

He used to bring me gifts of mainly shiny stuff - milk bottle rops, ring pulls from cans, bits of metal and washers, stuff like that. No gold or silver unfortunately!

Then the neighbouring farmer's teenaged son, knowing full well who he was, shot Magnus dead and nailed his body to our gate post. The total bastard. I was 9 at the time.

The memory of this made me sad at how Magnus had died,  but also happy to recollect an event which was so special in my life. I felt so blessed to have been a part of a wild bird's life in that manner.

So I went and dug out the only two photos I have of Magnus Magenpie 

This first one is of him just fledged and you can see the sheath still on his primaries  We have just had a flying lesson in that photo.


That's me in the picture,  with him on my arm, standing on Kempsey Common just next to our house.

Magnus learnt to talk and could say quite a few things  - his favourite saying was "magnus magenpie, pretty boy " and " come on, hurry up and feed me"  and he would tap in the window to wake me up so he could get me to open the window. He would then fly into my bedroom and tug on my hair until I got up and fed him. He frequently brought a number of "wilder" magpie friends with him - and obviously had communicated that I was "ok" as they, too, would come in and wait for food. This was 44 years ago. I still think of him :)

Friday 20 February 2015

As we had got up early to greet Bonnie Ann, and had eaten an early lunch to accommodate her need to leave us to get her plane back to the US of A, we were fed, watered and had done all our chores by 12 noon. It was a glorious sunny day with clear blue skies and a gentle breeze so we decided to Go Somewhere.

At one point it looked possible that Bonnie Ann might be able to come with us to see something archaeological on her way to the airport, so I had researched a few places on the way to Heathrow. Stonehenge, Avebury, Silbury Hill and West Kennet Long Barrow were all options but of course on the day Bonnie Ann had sadly run out of time to do anything other than drive straight to Heathrow.

But we were ready and had the whole afternoon and evening free, so having gathered walking boots, a flask and food and other supplies we got in my car and off we went to one of my favourite areas.

After a lovely drive through the landscape filled with ancient sites - mounds, white horses, cairns, barrows, within less than two hours we were in Avebury.



After we had walked around Avebury we went to the nearby Silbury Hill

From there it was a short distance to the West Kennet Long Barrow.

Compostgirl and I walking down to the River Kennet

Compostman and I

Me trudging up a very muddy track!

West Kennet Long barrow, just before sunset

inside the barrow

We came back down the hill just as the sun was setting over Silbury Hill.

Wednesday 18 February 2015

Lovely visit yesterday on a fabulously sunny morning from a friend from the United States, now on her way to Heathrow to return home to the U S of A. She arrived after a week in Pembrokeshire where she sat by the sea, photographed pebbles, walked with cats and met Jackie Morris, visited Solva Woolen Mill and met Anna and Tom Grimes, and did loads of other lovely stuff in my most favourite part of the world ever.  :)

She arrived here late morning en route to fly home and had a late breakfast with us and we talked. And talked. And then talked some more :) . Then we went outside where she met all the chickens and Cassie, Tom and Tabitha  Cats , who were friendly but would not be cuddled.

Archie Serama Chicken was however keen to be cwtched :)

As was Juniper the Guinea Pig

And Compostgirl :)

 Sadly all too soon it was time to say goodbye, so we had a look at the map to make sure Bonnie Ann knew her route,

 then a final big cuddle before she set off again.

She had to leave us all too soon to drive to Heathrow to fly home. Lovely lady, wonderful to have met  up with her. Safe journey home my dear friend.

Tuesday 17 February 2015

I have a blog which goes into much more detail about my way of eating and weight loss. It is  invitation only so we can all be very frank about stuff without Google finding it !

If you wanted to read it or join in with the comments  please email me and say why :)

Sarah aka Compostwoman xxx

Sunday 15 February 2015


Well my BBC Hereford and Worcester radio interview on Fri went well. I went over to Worcester to the studio and was live on air with Malcolm Boyden at just after 10 am. I had more than 10 mins chatting to him live on air. And yes it was great to be back in a studio doing live press stuff again :)

Programme link HERE

I get introduced at 04:28 and then the interview proper starts at 08:28 - 20.08

 BBC H and W have also put my story and some photos on their public Facebook page HERE

I do hope that other people hear and take on board the story and that it helps them as that is the only reason I have done this media stuff in the first place. I have had a lot of interested comments from people I know around here about my weight loss and I hope my message is helpful to those listening.

I am just so grateful that I finally took control of my diet and health  as I feel so much better, now.

Friday 13 February 2015

 I have featured in the local media today :)

You may recall my recent post about how I have lost a lot of weight in the last 7 months - well as a result I have been honoured with the title of "Harcombe Diet Champion" by Zoe and Andy Harcombe - there are many others featured on The Harcombe Diet forum. I feel proud to follow in their (ever shrinking!) footsteps :)

So far I have been in my local paper the Ledbury Reporter; I am in other papers soon and - who knows what else? I have also done a live interview with the BBC local radio station today and will blog about that some other time. But for now here is the link  to  the online version of my bit in the local paper.

If you want to join my private blog about my weight loss please send me an email.

Wednesday 04 February 2015

Before Christmas I was sent one of these weather stations  to try out and review.

Weather at home 

The Wireless Weather Station with Weather Alert allows you to monitor local weather conditions on your smart phone as well at the station itself, using Bluetooth. This wireless weather station brings you all the vital weather information you need to plan your day. The Weather Alert feature also shows you at a glance what to expect; heat, fog, frost, rain and wind /storm, displaying both indoor and outdoor temperature and humidity, and a 12-24 hour Weather Forecast.

I am very impressed with this device. We have a display with a sensor inside and a sensor outside under the garage eves.

This means I can be in the sitting room in the warm but see if it has gone cold outside and go and shut the Seramas in their house, or cover up Juniper the Guinea Pig or cover up tender plants.

I have also had endless fun using the app on my mobile phone and tablet to look at weather statistics and trends for here. (yes I know, I am a geek :) )

The one I was sent retails at £59.99 and at the moment there is an offer on the website of a free sensor if you buy a Weather Station from Oregon Scientific.

Disclaimer. I was sent a Weather Station to review. All opinions are my own and I was not paid to write this post.

Sunday 01 February 2015

I gave up alcohol for January as part of Dry January 2015. I have not drunk any alcohol since Jan 1st 2015  and I am fundraising for Cancer Research UK :)

I did it! And I am looking for more donations to my fundraising page. Please, if you fancy sponsoring me, why not donate £5 (the price of a bottle of wine or a couple of pints) or more if you are feeling very very generous? 

You can send your donation  by texting SBDJ99 £5 to 70070. And don’t forget to claim Gift Aid to increase your donation by 25%, at no extra cost to you. 
Or you can visit my just giving page and donate from there
Sarah-Blenkinsop-dryathlete2015  Thank you !

Saturday 31 January 2015

I had a busy day today, I took Compostgirl to the stables for a day of riding and then I headed into Hereford to return various stuff and then drove to Monmouth. I took the back road from Hereford and was rewarded with a spectacular view of snow topped Welsh mountains.

I love Monmouth and would like to live there one day. I went to the Craft Fair which was held in the Town Hall. I met up with the lovely Emma from Ffolkyffelt and we chatted for a while and discussed various upcoming events. I also bought a beautiful felted fairy as a gift for Compostgirl - who has hung it up in her bedroom.

I popped into Waitrose and picked up a few bits of food and took advantage of their free coffee and newspaper offer using my Waitrose card. I then ate my lunch in the car. I always carry food in the car in a rucksack, just in case I can't find anything I want to eat when I am out and about. It is a bit harder to eat out when I can't eat dairy or gluten as so much of the food on offer is bread based. So I always have a light meal's worth of food handy just in case I can't find something I can eat.

Then it was home to collect Compostgirl from the Stables, lock up the chickens and settle down for the evening in front of the fire.

Wednesday 28 January 2015

I had a very poor night sleep last night - I ate some 90% cocoa solids chocolate before bed time and it was obviously a bad move as something kept me wide awake until 4 am. I became tired of lying in bed, not sleeping, by 1 am so I got up, went downstairs and did some chores. I washed up a lot of bottles and jars and then did a lot of mending by the fire.

I went back to bed at 4.30 am and apart from briefly getting up to see Compostgirl off to school I did not emerge from my bed again until 11 am!

Unfortunately we had a power cut from 9 am so I decided to go out to Hereford and try on some clothes. I stocked up on fleeces and brought some new waterproof trousers in the Sales.

Sunday 25 January 2015

 ...but it didn't stop us going to Archery practice :)

Friday 23 January 2015

Warning, this is a long post :)

I used to be "not fat". In 1985, when we got married, I was really quite slim :) 

and although I put on some weight over the years, even in 1995 I was still  "a little bit plump" rather than morbidly obese.

 I was fit and healthy, very active with a full time and demanding job, a house and garden ( not Compost Mansions but a smaller house and garden in Worcester) and Compostman and I spent weekends from March to October out competing in Speed Hillclimbs and Sprints in our racing car. We were pretty good at it as well :) Weekday evenings were spent fettling the car for the next event, or digging the garden and yes! there was composting involved even then :)

But, as some of you may know, a few years  after we moved to Compost Mansions in 1997 I became  very ill as a result of an adverse  reaction to an antibiotic, while being treated for an infected gallbladder.  Overnight in Feb 2001 I developed an auto immune, rheumatoid condition called Erythema Nodosum, along with various other unpleasant ailments. Although I took all the medication on offer I struggled to even walk or grip a mug or wash myself, felt terrible all the time and expended what little energy I did have, to make sure Compostgirl (a baby and then small child at this time)  did not suffer because I was unwell. 

Despite being so unwell I still did all sorts of stuff with her, looked after her as a SAHM, we went out to parties and play sessions and had friends round  and I was very good at struggling on and putting on a "brave face" to everyone bar a few close friends and Compostman. And then, after Compostgirl had gone to bed, I would collapse. I was advised by the medics to rest as much as possible but realistically, how can a parent with a young child, AND a house, AND animals and any kind of work, (we lived here so there was always work to be done outside) manage to "rest" ? I used to ask the medics that, but I could never get an answer!  

We had no living parents or siblings or other relatives to help us - so it was just my wonderful Compostman who shouldered most of the extra work, along with a couple of good and lovely friends ( you know who you are :) and I love you  forever for helping us in our years of need) To be truthful I don't like to remember how awful that period was, as apart from having Compostgirl, life was pretty grim.

Anyway, I spent several years on many different medications, and in and out of hospital, being seen by all sorts of different specialists and having many, some very unpleasant, tests. The most alarming was when I had a scan which required me to become radioactive beforehand - I swallowed the drink with the isotope in, and THEN I was told to go off into Hereford for a couple of hours while it was absorbed, but "not to sit close to anyone" and also "not to cuddle my baby or breast feed her for 24 hours " because I was radioactive !!! 

I was not impressed with this.

To cut a long story short, I was very ill and very incapacitated for several years and on top of everything else was also additionally diagnosed with CFS.

June 2006
By 2006, by dint of applying holistic therapies, an organic diet, pacing myself and conserving my energy whenever I could (and dropping the medication in favour of herbal and aromatherapy pain remedies - it worked for me but check with your GP first!), I had recovered enough to get back to a small amount of work (as opposed to the unpaid work I do, and did then,  here, day in day out!)  so I volunteered as a Master Composter, then became self employed - first teaching Organic Gardening and running Eco clubs in schools,then in 2008 I trained as a Forest School leader and finally in 2010  trained as an Adult Lecturer. You can read about all this elsewhere on this blog :)

I still felt exhausted a lot of the time and I would be flattened by any bugs "doing the rounds" but on the whole I had a bit more of a normal life.  At least until the evening, which was when I would collapse.

eApril 2008
I was VERY active both at work and on our smallholding and I continued to eat apparently very healthily and also lead a healthy lifestyle -   but still was gaining weight. Eating less and doing more did not work for me.

March 2010

By mid 2013 I was feeling worse and worse again, brain fog, joint aches, bloating after meals, passing wind, itchy eyes, itch skin and all sorts of niggling ailments which were "nothing in particular" but which made my life miserable. It was a struggle to keep working. I just wanted to sleep all the time. I also would be overcome with the desire to eat endless slices of wholemeal toast and Marmite, even after a couple of slices for breakfast  - I would crave more all day. I did not often have any more, but it was there in my mind. I also craved sandwiches and pasta and potatoes. 

July 2013

Oct 2013
As the months went by I got fatter and more bloated, despite (as far as I could see) not eating any more food than before. My weight and mood would fluctuate quite a bit and I was SO tired, all the time. I assumed this was the extra weight I was lugging around as well as  "just" the CFS affecting me.

Feb 2014
The first half of 2014 was horrible for me - I was getting fatter and more unwell but couldn't seem to lose any weight however much I tried ( and oh how I tried) . 
The turning point finally came when I was rushed into hospital on 28 June 2014 due to an infected Blandford Fly bite. My arm had turned sceptic and my blood pressure had rocketed to more than 220/135 – that’s stroke and heart attack range!  I was admitted and spent a few days on an iv antibiotic drip, which helped the septicaemia. I was also put on medication to try to get the very high BP figure down. In addition I got a friendly but very serious talk from a consultant about how much my weight was affecting my health - all stuff I knew but had chosen to go "la la" and cover my ears about.

This time, I listened. I was in a lot of pain, very ill and veryfrightened. I was in an acute admissions ward, surrounded by some seriously unwell people, I had to listen to a crash team working for many hours on the lady next door.  Listening to people die around you tends to concentrate the mind a lot on mortality - I knew I had to do something to change the way things were with me,  or I would be dead soon. So this time I vowed TO DO SOMETHING about the mess I was in.
After discharge from hospital I spent another two weeks recovering at home, on lots of medication and mostly in bed, with lots of time, and serious reason, to have a good hard think about my life and the way I was treating myself. The BP medication was making me feel even worse and I did not want to take it forever, which is what I was being told I would have to do. 

I had a copy of  Zoe Harcombe's book " Stop counting calories and start losing weight" by my bed - I had read it the previous year and found it interesting but gave up on Day 3 of Phase 1 as I felt so dreadful. This time, I read it properly and suddenly it all clicked into place. This time I was motivated to do it properly. It was summer, I had unlimited organic salad growing in the garden and poly tunnel so I had no excuse. 

But mainly I was frankly terrified that if I did not do something about how fat I had become, I might not be around those I loved much longer. My mother sadly had a stroke, the first of many, when I was only 11 and she spent the rest of her life (another 15 years) in hospitals, paralysed and in a wheelchair, unable to speak and with brain damage.

The thought of putting my family through what I had gone through as a child, growing up without my mum, finally spurred me into action to improve my own health. I did not want to die of a stroke or heart attack!

I had not had any alcohol since the day I was admitted to hospital and did not start drinking again so that helped. My diet was 'apparently' very good - lots of wholemeal home made bread and wholemeal pasta, organic meat, dairy and veg (lots of the veg home grown) but looking back my food was very heavily carb laden, especially wheat (even though it was organic and wholemeal!) I had lots of symptoms of Candida/Food Intolerance which I thought were just the CFS, and although I did not eat many sweet things my savoury choices were still carb laden and I also mixed fats and carbs all the time.

I think my food choices were feeding the Candida, to be honest.
So after two weeks of convalescence, where I did not eat as much (was sort of doing THD Phase 2 ) or drink any alcohol I got on my scales - and I had lost 16 lbs !!! Ok I thought, this is good but I knew I needed to lose a lot more weight to get my health back on track. And I had been very ill so had not had much appetite etc.

So, I decided to do things properly. I signed up for THD 30 day Blitz package that day and got started on Phase 1 properly on 12 July 2014.

I felt dreadful for the first five days without caffeine and I could have killed for toast, butter and Marmite (my food of choice) but I figured as I still felt dreadful anyway, due to recovering from illness, I would just keep on and stick to what the book said. And then...I started to feel livelier, more clear headed, less sluggish and my sleep was deep and refreshing. Each day, I felt a little better.

29 July 2014In the first month I lost 27 lbs

Sept 2014between July and Sept I lost 4 Stone.

Oct 2014
Since then I have slowly re-introduced various foodstuffs, one at a time. As a result I have identified that I have a real issue with wheat, as even organic, wholemeal bread seems to make me bloated with achy joints and pain in my stomach. I have more recently found that dairy products also disagree with me so have now cut out milk and cheese. Fortunately I still seem OK with butter!

Unfortunately drinking even small amounts of beer upsets me (shame!) However, drinking my home-made organic cider does not. So that’s my new “cheating” tipple of choice!

My former diet was “apparently” very good - lots of wholemeal home-made bread and wholemeal pasta, organic meat, dairy and home-grown veg. However, looking back, my food was very heavily carbohydrate laden, with lots of wheat based foods. What I now know is that my food choices were feeding the Candida lurking inside me and my wheat intolerance made it all even worse,  hence a lot of the bloating.

Oct 2014

Xmas Day 2014
Seven months in, and I can honestly say that I have not felt this good for more than a decade. I feel SO much better! I sleep well and wake up raring to go and keep active all day. I bounce around full of energy, and my BP is now within the bounds of normal so I am off the medication.

 24 Jan 2015

I look in the mirror and I am so pleased with how healthy I look. I’ve lost seven stone and dropped four dress sizes since I started this way of eating. I can finally wear clothes that I stashed away years ago!

I recently put on my ’bum bag’, with the waist-strap set from the last time I wore it, back in mid-June 2014. I had to adjust it in by 12 inches!

My family are delighted and very relieved at how much weight Ihave lost and how much healthier Iam. Friends have commented on how good I look, how clear my skin is and how bright my eyes are. My nails are no longer flaky and chewed looking, but long and strong. I have even started varnishing them for the first time in 10 years!
Yes, I have a lot more weight to lose but I know that if I just carry on doing what I have been doing, I will get there eventually. I also have the joy of being able to buy "normal" clothes and underwear from mainstream stores. Sounds trivial I know, but it made my life miserable not being able to just pick up a pack of knickers or a tee shirt from a High St shop!

I am now more than 2/3 of the way to the weight I want to be. I am happier, healthier and fitter than I have been for 15 years - since before I first got ill back in 2001!  I am "on target" to get back to where I was 15 years ago - and I know I can do it.

Still inside the house at night in her basket by the woodburner but outside during the day ( if it is warm enough)  and finally feeding herself from the ground. Also enjoying a cwtch with me as many times a day as she can manage :)

Thursday 22 January 2015

Up early today and got cracking with chores, then went into Hereford  with a very long shopping list. I need a new wind and waterproof coat as my old one leaks and is now hanging off me. So I had a look around the various outdoor clothing shops and found one I liked, which was in the Sales with a substantial discount on it, so I bought it. 

 I had a wander around the Cathedral for a bit, I love Hereford Cathedral

And I also had a wander around the streets surrounding the Cathedral - this is the High Street looking away from the Cathedral precinct.

I then got on with more shopping, all things I needed but I did look at a few "wants" while I was there :)

Home, to do a bit outside while there was still light and then do the normal evening chores. Bed early as I was very tired after my long day out :)

Wednesday 21 January 2015

Now the porch is nice and clean and has dried out I can get started filling it up with seeds and plants and stuff :)

I am going to re pot all these geraniums as they are looking a bit sad. A bit of worm compost in the bottom of the pot and they will feel much better :)

It is too cold today to pot things up in the polytunnel so I have moved into the porch to work. Here is a christmas basket with two cyclamen waiting to be potted  into seperate pots and given some tlc.

I also washed more gravel trays and seed modules in the futility* room - normally I do this work in the polytunnel but it is just too cold out there for me to work without my fingers seizing up. So I have come inside to do this job. Thank goodness we have a futility* room with a sink in!

It feels so good to be doing some gardening again :) 

(It's a utility room, really. But I prefer to call it this as trying to keep it tidy is a futile task ;)  )

Tuesday 20 January 2015

I don't often use bleach ( not very environmentally friendly and not good in our septic tank in large quantities) so when I do have to make up a solution of it I tend to use it for as many different jobs as I possibly can.

Today I had some fabric for a craft project which needed lightening, so I made up a washing up bowl full of bleach and water. I left the cloths to soak for a bit until they were the shade I wanted.

I then used the bleach water to soak some tea discoloured tea towels, wash cloths and flannels before putting them in the wash.

As you may recall I use our double glazed porch as a greenhouse to start off plants for the polytunnel. I start sowing seeds on 2nd Feb ( Imbolc, or Candlemas if you are Christian) so I need to make sure the porch is nice and clean before I start.  This is my seed sowing area for early stuff and I need it to be absolutely spotless with no lingering mould spores, before I set up the heated propagators in there and get cracking on 2015 tomato, pepper, cucumber etc seed sowings.

So I then used the bowl of bleachy water to wash down the windows, window sills and walls in the porch. I then wiped the walls and windows clean with a cloth and clean water (important, otherwise the bleach dries and turns to salt on the walls, which will then provide a focus for damp to be absorbed - not good for walls!)

Compostman is going to re paint the removable bench, which lives in the porch during seed propagating season, so it is nice and clean looking and has a sealed surface. That way it won't get spoiled by water drips.

The porch looks a bit of a mess at the moment but at least it is nice and clean now :)

I then used the bleachy water to give all four of the heated propagators (bases and lids) a good clean and I also gave outer ceramic pots (used to hold house plants) and the old plant labels a good soak to make sure they, too are clean before use.

After that the water no longer smelt of bleach :) So I used it to clean the downstairs toilet then flushed it away

I also scrubbed a number of water holding trays clean with hot soapy water and lavender essential oil. That helped to hide the smell of bleach in the house a little!

Tomorrow I will have to put the porch back together again but for now it is drying and I feel pleased :)

Monday 19 January 2015

Today is cold and damp and miserable so I decided to do some housework and some mending, before going out shopping.

Lilac is still a House Hen. She is hanging on, no better, no worse. I just wish she would eat a bit more. She wisely stays close to the woodburner  for warmth :)

I did some tidying up and then sorted out some bits and bobs of stuff I had saved.

These are hanging loops from clothes which I use as ribbons on home made decorations.

This waistcoat is lovely but I don't like the metal buttons. So I changed them.

After lunch I went to Ledbury and bought lovely vegetables from Handley Organics, as well as various other items from local shops. I came home and then had a 45 minute wait on the 'phone to the Tax office but I did get to talk to someone eventually which cleared up a problem.

Anyone else doing their tax return now, or are you all super organised and have done it already?

Sunday 18 January 2015

I have given up alcohol for January as part of Dry January 2015. I have been doing this since Jan 1st 2015  and I am fundraising for Cancer Research UK :)So far I have found not drinking is making me feel bright eyed and bushy tailed in the morning, I sleep better, my skin looks lovely and I have lost some weight as an added bonus. :) I am also still following The Harcombe Diet and as Phase 1 of THD excludes alcohol it has been even easier to stick to my eating plan without the temptation to drink alcohol :)

I am getting through a lot of fizzy water in the evening though, and herb and fruit teas at night :)

If you fancy sponsoring me, why not donate £5 (the price of a bottle of wine or a couple of pints) or more if you are feeling very very generous?  I intend to donate at the end of the month a substantial proportion of the money I would have spent on drink :) I suspect that will be quite a lot of money :)

You can send your donation  by texting SBDJ99 £5 to 70070. And don’t forget to claim Gift Aid to increase your donation by 25%, at no extra cost to you. Thank you!

Sarah-Blenkinsop-dryathlete2015Thank you !

Saturday 17 January 2015

Up and busy around the house and garden this morning - very cold but lovely and sunny :) I put Lilac hen outside with the other girls to enjoy the sunshine and she pottered around with them in the garden. She is very thin  and very slow, though ...

The other big girls are laying well so I collected 4 eggs from them and one of the Serama pullets is also laying an egg nearly every day so thank you Mandy ( I think)

Later, after lunch I brought Lilac inside the house and then Compostgirl and I went to Hereford for a shopping trip, collecting a friend of Compostgirl's on the way. They went off and had a look around and I did clothes returning and then book buying, using up loads of money saved up on my loyalty card. Two "free" Robin Hobb books to get stuck into later this week AFTER I have done my tax return I think! We met up for hot chocolate and cake ( them) and coffee for me.

Home (via friend's house to drop her off) to a beef casserole cooked by Compostman while we were out and a sit by the fire to watch TV. Compostgirl and I enjoyed "The Voice" and then we all watched a "Father Brown" we had recorded earlier in the week.

I need to get on with crochet and sewing as I have realised that in another few weeks it will be time to start the seed sowing/chitting/plant propagation etc etc and then I will not have time! Eeek where has the winter gone? 

Omlet Cartoon