Ugly ducklings

IMG_0839

I’ve been watching a family of swans on the nature reserve, a mum and dad, and five babies, they seem to have chosen a spot on the road side of the lake to mark as their own and I walk past this spot on my way to and from work.

I noticed them within days of moving here and the babies, cygnets, were already grown to a size bigger than their neighbouring ducks. At first the parents were very vocal, they’d hiss if I passed by too closely to their little ones but more recently they just give a wary stare to any passers-by.

I watched the babies progress as they grew towards being as tall and as strong as their parents, I got excited at the appearance of their first white feathers, I would wonder, like the mother hen that I am, where they were and what they were up to if they weren’t “at home” when I passed.

DSC_0008

One afternoon I saw them on their way back from a family outing. They caused quite a stir in the busy carpark as they waddled their way home.

More recently though, when I’ve spotted them one of the babies seemed to be missing, I spotted mum, dad, and four babies swimming quite happily across the other side of the lake and wondered what had happened to the fifth. Was he stuck somewhere, had he net with a road accident?

I noticed I was instinctively calling this baby he, I was putting human actions onto the family and just assuming the difficult baby was male, I then thought of more animal type relationships and, again thinking of our missing baby as male, wondered if he’d gotten big enough to be a threat to the dad and been chased off.  I was just guessing so I did what I usually do if I don’t know something, I asked Mr Google. 

Mr Google seems to think that as the baby swans get bigger it’s time to leave the protection of their parents and the white feathers signify this time. The males do grow faster than the females so my guess that the first to go would be a male seems to be a pretty good guess, but where was he? And was he OK?

It seems I was worrying about nothing, as a couple of days later I spotted him on the other end of the lake… Out playing with the big boys. ? 

DSCPDC_0001_BURST20170911112018849_COVER

          More from before: Semi-retirement by the seaside in “Weymouth

Advertisements

Preparation

I always put a lot of effort into my preparation when I’m decorating.  For you ladies who don’t decorate, think how much better that little black dress looks with the right underwear.

It’s no secret that our new house needs a lot more tlc than we had planned for, but I’m plodding through it, I’m so glad we didn’t just call the decorators in to do it all for us. They would have just painted the broken canvas and the perfectionist in me would have made me do it all again when they’d gone, this being the main reason why Hubby just let’s me get on with things in my own way.

I liked my old kitchen, I’d moved the units to where I’d wanted and created my “Light room” to sit and watch the garden, but I couldn’t bring my kitchen to the seaside with me and so of course, weve got a different kitchen now and I’m slowly making it ours.

When we first saw it, Hubby really liked the cottage style cupboards and the space for a huge kitchen table.  Me? I was attracted to the tiles.

_20170826_092609

OK, so I guess I shouldn’t have thought so highly of tiles which could be so easily replaced, but if you remember it was the pink blossom tree which “Sold” me our last house.

Upon closer inspection, the cupboard doors needed replacing and the tiles?  Well, see for yourself, this is a patch I haven’t fixed yet. 

DSC_0042

The doors turned out to be easy to replace, we found the exact same doors at the local D.I.Y. Most of them were pretty easy to put on, the one pair caused me a few problems but I got there in the end.  The tiles?  I bought a gadget to help me remove the old grout, one that plugged in and made the job easier and I’m so glad that I did. I took out as much grout as I could from in between the tiles, I spent a good couple of hours doing just the small area between the window and the back door and it was well worth the preparation, when I rubbed them down this morning to clean off any grout smears they look so much better than the other side of the kitchen.

DSC_0041

You can probably guess what I’m going to be doing for the next few days…

I plan to have a weekend on the tiles.

           More from before: happenings in  “my Kitchen“.

Bramble jelly

_20170823_082445

I’m not a huge fan of blackberries in their original state, but now bramble jelly, that’s a whole different story.

I’ve been promising myself a jar of homemade bramble jelly for years but I’ve never quite made the time to do it. In my new day walking existence I’m finding myself doing so many things which I didn’t have the time, the energy, or just simply the daylight to do during my years of living in the twilight zone as a nightworker, and picking blackberries is just one of the new smiles I’ve found recently.

I’m very fussy about which blackberries I collect, let’s face it, from me you’d expect nothing less, I won’t pick them from the side of the road, I know many, many cars have gone over to unleaded fuel and I’m sure the miniscule amount of lead which you would consume from a serving of bramble jelly made from blackberries picked from the roadside would be no where near enough to enter the brain and cause learning difficulties, but when my girls were little, we “did things” rather than “had things” and one of the things I did was protect them from excess lead by not picking blackberries by a road.

We had this one park we used to go to with Little Sister and her three little ones. It was quite a walk away but that was all part of the fun. We would pack a picnic and go to the park. Then we’d play and eat our picnic, once the food had all been eaten, we’d fill the various food boxes with blackberries and take them home to make jam. I’m not quite sure how the blackberries mutated, but this park became known to us as the strawberry jam park.

Any way, no surprise, but my mind has wandered again. Apart from not picking blackberries from the side of the road, I also avoid train lines, I don’t pick from floor level as you never know quite what’s been brushing past them, and if at all possible a downpour the night before seems to make them so much juicier. So you see, to pick blackberries while working nights I would have had to make a special plan to go on one of my awake days and I needed so much sleep that awake days were very few and far between.

However, during the blackberrying months I wander, walk or plod past the perfect blackberries on my way home from each shift so I just have to pick at my leisure. Now even for me, it would be not quite the norm to take a blackberrying bucket to work but I’ve found the perfect solution. I’ve popped a few little freezer bags into my handbag so that I can pick a little bag full as the mood takes me.  The best thing about picking this way is I take the little collection of berries home with me and drop them straight in the freezer. A day or so later, I’ll pick another small bag full and freeze then too. In this way I can collect berries all through blackberry season and make lots of jam at the end.

Of course if you can’t make you own bramble jelly you can always buy a jar instead. I’ve bought many a jar from many different places but the one which I find comes closest to my homemade taste is from a supermarket where “Every little helps”.  I’ve been wondering if blackberries grown by the seaside, weathered by the salty sea air are going to taste different.

I’m guessing you know that bramble jelly is blackberry jam, but made from just the juice of the blackberries, but do you know how to make it?  I use my mum’s old jam recipe, first I boil up my blackberries in a large pan and simmer until they’re all mushy, then I strain the berries overnight in a nylon stocking or similar purpose bought such item. One important point here, just collect the drips given to you here. Don’t try to squeeze an extra few drops from the berries, any squeezing or scraping of the straining bag might well produce a little more juice, but it will give you cloudy jam. In a nice fresh pan, put one pint of juice to one pound of sugar, then simmer until setting point and put into jars – simple.

Incidentally, one pound of sugar and one pound of fruit works wonderfully for most jams too .