Thursday 31 August 2023

Cooking Focaccia With Fire - Bread In The Pizza Oven

On Bank Holiday we had a bit of an easy day and decided to lots of cooking and baking. We decided to have some friends over as well to have pizza from the earth oven. 

I set our Middlest to lighting the fire and getting it going. She was very proud of it, only asking me to help her push it back into the main part of the oven. she maintained it all afternoon as well, stoking it often. 

Tuesday 29 August 2023

Children On Holiday Without Screens

 Well almost - we had a TV...

Our Children have tablets, but they only get to use them for a few hours on a Saturday and Sunday at home, we've always felt that was enough. Our eldest now has to have a phone for her diabetes and would have had one for high school anyway. She's been good with it though, (I'm easily the worst for too long on my phone) and only uses it really to check her blood sugar levels and to take lots of photos (most of these in this post are hers - used with her permission). 

For our holiday we decided that the tablets would stay at home. We've never had any entertainment for them in the car either other than the occasional audio book we can all listen to together (I hate to see kids watching a TV on the headrest of the seat in front, cut off from conversation). 

I think it's served us well over the years. They learn to be bored and entertain themselves and each other. 

Sunday 27 August 2023

Holiday In Norway - Of Fiords And Trolls

 So this is going to be a bit of a photo dump of a holiday post. I might do a few more posts later on of different things we did. 

It was a dream holiday by all accounts. We hired a car (which gave us lots of freedom), we rented a cabin (with a hot tub), we took some trips, made some up ourselves, had some very rainy days, under packed for the weather. 

It was an expensive trip for us, but we worked out it actually worked out far less than some of our friends spend on an all inclusive holiday to the sun. 

The ferry to Rosendale

Friday 25 August 2023

Thoughts on Children Travelling

So I have mixed views about travelling these days. Part of me thinks that we shouldn't travel much, due to the ecological costs of it all. Then I think for how little we do, ours is a drop in a very big ocean. I probably don't even drive 3000 miles a year anymore. 

I do think about travel when I was younger and how it helped form me and made me realise what was important in life. 

I can remember coming back from travelling for 3 months when I was 19 and I overheard my uncle talking to my dad a few weeks later, "He went a boy, but he's come back a man." I smiled as I walked quietly away from that one. I had come back with direction, sure in what I wanted in life. 

The three months were incredible, I went coast-to-coast across America with a friend (via Greyhound bus), then went to New Zealand and Australia on my own for a few months. Suddenly I was very far away from my support network and had to work everything out for myself. Admittedly they were very easy countries to travel, but I was only 19, just into becoming an apprentice. I hitchhiked, didn't always book in advance and realised that being calm and going with the flow sometimes just worked. Something I showed my wife years later when we travelled around Europe in a converted ambulance with nothing booked other than two ferries. 

I went on holiday with my parents only until about 14, I then looked after the farm instead, having someone good with the stock was important to dad. I also think I used to drive dad mad that my head would be in a book every time we'd stop on holiday anyway, its something we sometimes talk about, but I'm not sure how I'd feel about leaving one of my children behind at that age. It was a different time though and I'm fairly sure I was happy to have the house to myself (my cousin would stay at night).  But I can remember travelling to France and Luxemburg and I remember that feeling of being in a different country, walking to get bread, everything that little bit different. 

Wednesday 23 August 2023

An Emergency On Holiday - CPR

Before I share the good parts of the holiday I wanted to write down a story from our time away that isn't really very positive. I write things up here, sometimes to share, sometimes as my own form of therapy, and sometimes as a record. 

This is more to get it out of my head and on to the page. It took a bit of decompressing afterwards, in fact it still does. 

I'm a firm believer that no one remembers mediocre times, you remember the good and the bad. It forms you. And this is one of those that I'm sure I'll always remember, but not because it was a happy holiday memory. 

Our holiday was self catering, thankfully - I should add as, restaurants are few and far between and for 5 of us to eat out it would break the bank each time. Even shopping in the supermarket was expensive, although I always think it's a bit of an adventure shopping in a foreign land, looking at the different food and through it their culture. 

On this particular day we drove up to the nearest supermarket to our cabin. It was brand new with a huge parking lot, we parked along the side and walked in. 

My Middlest and I were having a little falling out (her too stroppy, me too hot headed), so as we walked in my wife went off with the other two while we had a chat. Just as we started to talk I heard a bang from behind us. I lifted my head and turned to see what had happened. 

Tuesday 22 August 2023

Harvest Baskets In Use

 I got tagged in a Twitter post the other day (if we can still call it twitter) with some of my baskets in use. I had a customer buy four baskets all at once, which really made my day, then to be sent pictures of them being used made it again! 

Such a lovely picture of one of my baskets

The Twitter use @CotonBuzz (Or Coton Loves Pollinators) gave me permission to share the photos on here, saying how much they liked washing the veg out before they brought it up to the house. 

I love this picture of a basket filled and one in the distance

Sometimes the bit I miss about not doing much "regular" carpentry work anymore is that I don't get to see people enjoy what I make, but lately it's bene great with people sending in pictures or tagging me in social media. I feel really lucky that I can enjoy making these items and people enjoy using them! 

Saturday 19 August 2023

Taking A Diabetic On A Plane & A Spot Of Trouble...

 I'm writing this post purely as I wish I'd read something that would have put my mind at ease before we flew to Norway.

Both my wife and I were a little worried about taking our eldest through airport security, and all the other bits that go with going to a foreign country where you're not sure where you'd get replacements for anything you need. It had been 12 years since either of us had been on a plane so we were a little rusty anyway. 

We were told to take double what we needed, plus a bit. So we had extra insulin, both sorts, enough needles to last her a month and four Libre 2 sensors, she was due a change the day after we got there anyway. As well as sugar tablets and sugary drinks and spare Nova pens should they break (we've had one break since we've started on this diabetes journey so although they're said to be reliable, it's worth having). 

None of this should go in the hold and the Libre sensors can't go through the scanners which your bags normally go through. 

We spoke to the hospital a couple of months before the trip and they sent us through a letter to show airport security and talked us through everything we would need. 

I have to admit that I was worrying about the whole thing, not having stuff scanned at the airport seemed like a bit step. But when we got there they were as friendly as anything. the lady dealing with us looked at the yellow boxes the sensors come in and says "Ah a Libre 2 sensor," and then took them from me "My friend over there wears one!" She pointed to her colleague who waved back to us. 

I mentioned that I was worried about all this and she reassured me that they deal with it hundreds of times a day and to them it's perfectly routine. The only thing they questioned was the little carton of apple juice my daughter favours to control her lows, but they scanned this, said it was on the letter so was fine. 

I had worried about nothing! 

Then, breathing a sigh of relief, I was just about to collect my stuff and the airport security guard put his hand up for me to stop. 

He then pulled out a folding knife from a side pocket of my bag. My heart sunk and I realised that I had chucked one in there for the scout camp a few weeks back. Now I did panic. Had I wrecked the holiday before we'd even stepped on a plane?

I had a nervous wait for the police to come and speak to me. I sent my wife and very worried looking children away to get some breakfast, while I paced about. 

Luckily the police were very understanding once I spoke to them. I had to watch a short video about knife crime and was then let go on my way once they had taken my details. Apparently it happens about 5 times a day, making Gatwick the knife crime capital of the UK. 

I felt like such a fool, I'd been concentrating so much a about the diabetes that I hadn't checked my own bag properly! What an idiot! 

So don't worry about taking a diabetic on a plane - but make sure you check your bag properly! 

Anyone else had any experiences like this? Don't tell me I'm the only one! 

Friday 18 August 2023

Back From An Incredible Holiday In Norway!

So this year we decided to take the children on their first holiday away from Great Britain. It's my wife and mine first time flying in 12 years as well! We used to be quite the pair of travellers, enjoying our twenties by having bits of travelling and adventures. 

It seemed like the children were old enough to enjoy it and we're more finically stable now than we were when the kids were a bit younger. 

It was also my 40th birthday this year, much earlier in the year. I didn't want a massive fanfare about it. In fact it was only just after we had found out about our eldest's diabetes diagnoses and I was a little down in the dumps. But we had already booked a holiday for it so when anyone asked what I was doing for my birthday I had that answer ready!

I had always wanted to go to a Scandinavian country, and even though we'd driven around a lot of (western) Europe in a ambulance converted into a camper van, we never got quite that far north. So my 40th felt like the perfect excuse to book that holiday. Also my eldest isn't great in the heat, so a slightly cooler holiday seemed perfect.  

We had an incredible time and I have plans to write lots of blog posts about it. I have normal posts scheduled currently but hopefully I'll be able to share some great pictures and stories with you all over the next few weeks. 

It felt incredible to travel again, not just because of the experience for me, but knowing that travel will help make our children well rounded individuals and broaden their views on the world. They made the trip easy, were superbly behaved and great company. I'm fairly sure we all made some new core memories.

It's good to get home though! 

More to come...

Wednesday 16 August 2023

Carved Flour Scoop - Magazine Article

This is another project I made back in very late winter/early spring, I'd been wanting to make a carved scoop for some time. It was something I hadn't really seen but the idea stuck in my head so I had to make it. I had started with a completely different scoop, but got halfway through and decided the shape was all wrong. 

But I knew it would make a great project for Woodcarving magazine. 

Monday 14 August 2023

Canned British Apricots

 I'm glad I got to do my annual bit of canning with my friend Lauren. It's her (and her husbands) farm that I get the cherries from each year. 

They have a few apricot trees scattered in the cherry trees and in a few rows, all grown under plastic as these trees do not like having rain on their leaves very much apparently! 

Saturday 12 August 2023

Making Different Scoops - I'm obsessed!!!

 When I get into a subject, I really get into a subject. that's why I'm such a woodworking obsessive and the same with self-sufficiency. 

I mentioned in a few posts how scoops have become a bit of an obsession. I love making them and messing about with the design to see what does and doesn't work for me. 

Above is some of the different types of scoops I've made this year. I've made more designs than this and more different sizes, but this is a good selection of them. 

Thursday 10 August 2023

Hand Grain Mill - Magazine Article

Back in April I made a hand grain mill for a magazine article - well now it's in the shops! 

It's in the latest issue of Woodworking crafts, and also gives you a bit of an idea of how long it is from writing an article to having it published (and getting paid for it!)

Tuesday 8 August 2023

Homestead Tour - A Look At Future Fruit & Coppice

 Lots of failures in the garden at the moment! But when I walk around our place I can see lots of places where we're winning. 

Slowly we're trying to take back the garden (I'm even paying the children to help on this job), but the orchard is looking great and fruitful again as well as the coppice is growing really strongly. 

Have a watch and let me know what you think. What jobs would you tackle?

Monday 7 August 2023

Double Potting Trays In A Potting Shed

I got sent a few pictures of some of my potting trays in use the other day and I just love to see it! 

These must have bene early ones as they're built with reclaimed timber. I make them with new timber now as I could never get enough of the reclaimed stuff - that timber is now reserved for my range of baskets instead. 

I just think this is such a gorgeous potting shed! 

Sunday 6 August 2023

C.A.D. - Cardboard Aided Design

 The other day I was trying to mock up some new scoops I wanted to make. 

To do this I make the sheet metal part out of cardboard. the carboard then becomes the template for the early metal ones. 

I shared a picture on the community section of my YouTube page of these prototypes and someone commented that it was CAD - Cardboard aided design - and I really rather liked that! 

Friday 4 August 2023

Mello Festival 2023 - Back In May

 Back in May we took the children to their first music festival. 

We got very kindly given tickets to it back in March and it really gave us all something to look forward to after out eldest's diagnosis. We also got given tickets to take another family with it. So we took Neil my friend I swim with twice a week, and his partner and son with us. His son and my eldest have been friends since they started school together (and Neil and I became friends shortly afterwards).

We had weekend camping tickets and even though it's not far away (like a 15 minute drive) we decided that we'd camp to get the full festival experience (and enjoy a drink or two). 

Wednesday 2 August 2023

Reclaiming The Drive

 There's always something to do on the smallholding, it never ends. But as well as pushing forward and expanding infrastructure, it's incredible how much just general day to day maintenance adds up. Take your eye off an area for any length of time and when you turn back it can be unrecognisable. 

The kids were less than excited to help...

One area that this has been true is the front garden and drive. 

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