A day out in the countryside


The Iron Age Roundhouse at Woodview Farm

The Iron Age Roundhouse at Woodview Farm

Earlier in the year, in anticipation of our move to Nottinghamshire, I signed up to a local club called “The Nottingham City & Country Explorers Group” as it seemed many of their activities included many things I am interested in such as history, archaeology, heritage, architecture, exploring, adventure, art etc. So when an opportunity came up to attend an “Iron Age Roundhouse Open Day” I jumped at it!

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I’ve decided to live without a car for as long as I can, as with the good transportation system on my door step, running a car would be considered a luxury and not a necessity. My theory being also that I’ll also give more thought to where I travel to and I’ll have to walk more too and therefore facilitate weight-loss. So travelling to the open day in a neighbouring village, consisted of a bus ride and then a half mile walk to Woodview Farm in Calverton.

The owner spent literally hours telling us about everything and answering our questions- amazing!

The owner spent literally hours telling us about everything and answering our questions- amazing!

The Iron Age Roundhouse at Woodview Farm was amazing! I had never been up close and personal with a roundhouse before and the owner, Grahame, was extremely knowledgeable and full of details about every aspect of how he built his interpretation of a 2000 BC roundhouse. Many would say that this is probably the most authentic replica of a roundhouse in Great Britain and as we all sat inside on benches, all our billions of questions were answered.

The Romano British House under construction

The Romano British House under construction

Not only was I lucky enough to see, touch and smell the roundhouse but see a Romano British House under construction (dating about 2000 years later). The simplicity but robustness of each structure was beautiful and amazing. Wattle and Daub (essentially a wooden interwoven frame work smothered in a dung/dirt/horse hair/stones and small debris mix) was a very effective way of building and I was surprised to find the walls so strong and hard. When I see today’s eco-friendly structures I feel that many are very similar to these ancient structures, low-impact housing. I can’t help but feel they got it right…

Heavy stones for milling grains

Heavy stones for milling grains

Not only did we enjoy the houses but there was also bronze smelting, milling of grain and jewelery making. Coupled with the glorious hot sunshine and being out in a lovely meadow and out in the countryside for the first time in a few weeks, I had a wonderful time and felt happy being able to be enthusiastic about the Iron Age Roundhouse and the Open Day with fellow visitors.

I know this is not 1940’s but I kind of felt like I had stepped back in time and it was good…..

C xxxx

PS: I was so taken with this place and through research couldn’t find much info on whether it was open to the public at any other time except open days, I feel it needs a little informational website. If anyone knows the owners and reads this, please let them know that I would LOVE to put a little website together for them to raise awareness of it for free… PAY IT Forward

Bronze Smelting

Bronze Smelting

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The Victory Garden Project- July 13


I removed debris and a large pile of old thorny bushes/branches to clear this area for my poly greenhouse

I removed debris and a large pile of old thorny bushes/branches to clear this area for my poly greenhouse

It’s been a scorcher here today..

Despite the heat I really wanted to clear the area of the large pile of cut thorn bushes and debris so I can put in my small plastic greenhouse when it is delivered on Monday. I’m excited to get my “Victory Garden” up and running and hopefully provide some vegetables over winter. It’s been quite a long time since I grew a veggie garden so I’ve a lot to learn but that’s half the fun of it!

I resurrected two composters that I found in an overgrown area of the garden. I've also found lots of pots filled with weeds which I am going to utilize!

I resurrected two composters that I found in an overgrown area of the garden. I’ve also found lots of pots filled with weeds which I am going to utilize!

So I’ve just come in from 2 hours outside in a sun trap, thoroughly dirty, unattractively sweaty with thorn bush twigs in my hair but I just had to write this and share my enthusiasm before my second shower of the day beckons.

View back at the house from the area I just cleared

View back at the house from the area I just cleared

I’m then off down the road, walking to the shops. I’ve decided to try and live my life without a car for as long as possible. It’s a major expense so I’m putting it off… who knows, I may not ever need one!

Tomorrow the Hobbits and I are taking the bus to Woodview Farm which is just a few miles from our house to attend an “Iron Age Roundhouse Open Day”. I’m really looking forward to it! Further details here http://www.bbc.co.uk/thingstodo/activity/hands-on-archaeolgy-activities-at-the-roundhouse/occurrence/288322

The Iron Age Roundhouse at Woodview Farm

The Iron Age Roundhouse at Woodview Farm

Mr. Straw’s House


I just had to share this.

When William Straw, a grocer, died suddenly in 1932, his grief-stricken widow and sons decided to leave their house exactly as he knew it.
Decorated in 1923, the redbrick Worksop semi then remained just as it was until the last Straw to live there, Mr Straw’s son William junior, died and bequeathed it to the National Trust in 1991.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2361731/The-house-time-forgot-Red-brick-semi-frozen-1920s-original-decoration-food-furniture-untouched-90-YEARS.html

The Victory Garden Project – July 11


One of the overgrown areas of the garden I'm going to clear

One of the overgrown areas of the garden I’m going to clear

What better way to get more exercise and get lots of fresh veg into my diet, than to create my very own “Victory Garden”!

At the house I am renting here in Nottingham, I’ve only just started growing a few vegetables, fruits and herbs in pots. My garden has a small lawn and I’m not sure whether the landlord would be too happy if I changed that into a wartime vegetable garden just yet, so instead I’m starting to clear a very overgrown area at the back of the garden, to re-create a small Victory Garden, and eventually supply our kitchen with most of the vegetables used in wartime recipes of the 1940’s..

I started clearing one of the overgrown areas today

I started clearing one of the overgrown areas today

I got quite excited this afternoon as I started to clear mounds of tall, thick weeds from the bottom right area of the garden, and came across a semi paved flat area which will be ideal for a small greenhouse. I can’t afford a proper greenhouse yet (although I’m keeping my eyes peeled on Freecycle) so I purchased a small walk-in poly greenhouse from Argos for 25 quid which I think will be very useful indeed.

The area I'm clearing appears to be part paved and flat so ideal for my little poly greenhouse!

The area I’m clearing appears to be part paved and flat so ideal for my little poly greenhouse!

So lots of clearing work to do, I’m not quite sure where to put all the debris, as I no longer have acres of land to dispose of branches and thorny bushes! At the moment I am moving weeds and debris from one area to the other weedy area!

I found some composters hidden in the weeds!

I found some composters hidden in the weeds!

Am looking forward to doing some research on common vegetables grown in back gardens on the home front. I do have an old leaflet on growing your own during the “Digging for Victory” campaign… thought you might like to see it. Click the images below to see full size images!

C xxxx

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Sausage Stovies – Recipe 112


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I’ve been craving sausages… however I’m not likely to eat a real one anytime soon, so to satiate my palate I made “Wartime Sausage Stovies” using meatless vegan friendly sausages which are the best I have tasted to date (Linda McCartney Vegetarian Sausages).

The result was incredibly comforting and moreish and I would imagine, using real sausages, would be pretty amazing. I love simple recipes, simple foods and something that leaves you wanting more.

This did…!

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Sausage Stovies

4 large potatoes
1 large onion
6 large sausages (for vegans try Linda McCartneys vegetarian sausages)
1 tsp sage
1 tsp thyme
1 or 2 beef stock cubes like oxo to taste (or vegan alternative)
salt and pepper (generous)

Method

Peel and slice the potatoes and peel and chop the onions. Dice the
sausages. In a baking dish put a layer of potatoes, a layer of
onions and a layer of sausage. Season to taste and sprinkle over
half the herbs.

Continue the layers until you have used up all the ingredients,
ending with a layer of potatoes. Sprinkle on the rest of the herbs.
Dissolve the stock cubes in 1/2 pint (300ml) of hot water and pour
into the baking dish. (I thickened it a little before pouring) Bake in a medium oven, gas mark 4, 350F, 180C for 40 Minutes.
Serve with green vegetables

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Back in blighty- Week 1


The beginnings of a tiny victory garden. Herbs, tomatoes, strawberries and veggies!

The beginnings of a tiny victory garden. Herbs, tomatoes, strawberries and veggies!

We’ve been back 10 days.. and I simply have not stopped.

I’ve pigged out on proper large portions of chip shop chips, and ate many of the British junk food items I had missed for 9 years (like Twiglets and crisps) and drunk wine, beer and cider and FINALLY I think I have got it out of my system and am ready to knuckle under and get back to my 1940s menu.

I've always wanted a little push mower and now I've got one. It does a great job!

I’ve always wanted a little push mower and now I’ve got one. It does a great job!


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One of the things I’m liking about being back in the UK is the fact that I can be in the garden once again. In Canada, where I lived for most of the 9 years I spent there, summer enjoys copious amounts of hungry black fly and mosquitoes, especially if one lives out in the countryside near the water. So I’m starting to enjoy gardening again and have the beginnings of a tiny victory garden.. really tiny..just a few containers of vegetables and herbs tiny..BUT there is a back end to the garden that is overgrown and it looks like clearing it may reveal space for a small veggie patch! So my job in July is to get this area cleared and see what I’m left with. Maybe if I do it quickly enough I’ll have time to sow some mixed lettuce..

The overgrown back end of the garden I'm going to clear for a small veggie patch

The overgrown back end of the garden I’m going to clear for a small veggie patch

Tonight I’m planning my first proper new 1940s recipe so currently looking for something that involves the use of sausages (I have found some really good veggie ones I can use instead of meat ones)..

THANK YOU so very, very much for the messages of support. It’s made me feel supported and not alone in this current life journey…

C xxxx

Been busy decorating my pin board in the kitchen.

Been busy decorating my pin board in the kitchen.

My house.. it dates back to 1780 I believe.

My house.. it dates back to 1780 I believe.

Landing in blighty!


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What a busy week!! Everything went smoothly, we didn’t miss trains or planes and departed from Halifax on AirTransat at 11pm (after completing paperwork with Colleen from Canadian Border Services who also made sure we were on the plane when it took off- by the way she and Kathy who dealt with our case were darlings…. Just doing their job) and touched down in the UK at 9am… the air-flight itself was just 5 hours but it felt surreal boarding in darkness then watching the sunrise as we crossed the ocean…. The flight was booked solid and the seats were small (or my bottom very large) and I needed an extender belt for my fat tummy (makes note to start losing more weight again soon)…

St Pancras train station in London

St Pancras train station in London

We had mixed thoughts as we flew closer to the UK…. Sadness and regret but excitement that we were going on an adventure and of course being back in England for the first time in 9 years…it was beautiful seeing the British landscape again as the plane banked and then straightened to come in to land.

However the idyllic scenery, comforting us as we flew into blighty, was soon tarnished by our arrival at Gatwick Airport. “Would Carolyn Ekins, Joshua Ekins…. (Etc etc) please stay behind” was the announcement on the aircraft. We were puzzled… The aircraft attendant ushered us to the front of the aircraft, once everyone had left, and we were met by 4 members of the Border Services Agency AND a member of Her Majesty’s Custom and Excise who asked for our passports (without explanation) and asked us to follow them… two of them hung back with me and we had a great old chat but still we had no idea WHY we were going with them..

Eventually, we reached passport control and were corralled, with another gentleman from our flight, into a compound in the middle of the floor (basically a fenced off area with a gate) while people from our flight and another flight, stood in queue’s to go through the landing procedure.

I got speaking to the gentleman next to me who was on our flight. He had flown to Canada to stay with his girlfriend for an extended stay.. probably a few months but he wasn’t sure. Canadian Border Services refused him entry after an alleged 4 hour interview partially because he had no proof of funds with him and no return ticket already bought so he had to return home..

As it transpired, the corralling was just normal procedure for those people who have had dealings with Canadian Border Services… still, being made to sit in a holding area in plain sight of hundreds of people wasn’t very humane or dignified.. it’s a good job I laugh at such folly. If anything, it worked in our benefit as we only had to wait 10 minutes and then I was handed back my passport and that was that….if we had been in the normal queue we would have still been waiting 30 minutes later!

After that everything ran smoothly. We collected our luggage and spend 40 minutes standing on a very crowded train from Gatwick Airport to St Pancras Station in London. We were early so enjoyed an hour outside a coffee shop just chatting and relaxing and enjoying the tremendous architecture at the station. Then we went to the first class lounge (I had spent 12 pounds more per ticket and upgraded to first class and reserved seats so we could enjoy sitting together and relaxing on the final leg of our journey) where we had comfy chairs and free refreshments before boarding the train. The journey was so relaxing… the rocking of the train plus the 5 hours of sleep over the last couple of days, ensured that everytime I sat and relaxed, I immediately turned into a narcoleptic..hell I didn’t even have to sit! The service was wonderful! Every 30 minutes we had complimentary refreshments, juice, water, tea, coffee, peanuts or little cakes….

Less than 2 hours from London, we were in Nottingham and we found a cab right outside the station which took us to our new home.. a place I had never stepped foot inside.

Our new house!

Our new house!

Greeting us were Bertie and Ben. They had done so much for us. They had been there for deliveries, had purchased some basics for us like pillows, plates, cutlery, kettle, keys, groceries and Ben had even made two vegan dishes, left for us on the cooking range to heat up and enjoy…one was lentil and one was chickpea and both had wonderful herbs and spices in them… as I speak one huge pot has been pretty much gobbled down (oh yes what a wonderful breakfast!). In addition they had checked the house out, done a video tour and helped with all my enquiries…. I thank them for their kindness. It really helped us out..

The house is amazing…

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We’ve always pretty much lived rurally the last 20 years, no near neighbours, surrounded by plenty of land.. privacy. My biggest worry about moving near Nottingham was the possibility of feeling hemmed in by fences and houses sitting very close, all around. For this very reason, when I saw this rental home online, it looked roomy and spacious and felt that it would suit our transition into urban living again. The rental amount was about 100 pounds a month above my budget BUT I just knew it had to be…sometimes you just have to go with the heart.

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The house is huge…It dates back to 1780 and has enormous Georgian style windows and ceilings over 10 ft tall. You need step ladders to reach the curtain poles! There is a mud room and shower, a lovely kitchen, a dining room, a substantial family/sitting room, a study and a downstairs loo on the ground floor. The next floor contains the biggest bathroom I’ve been in ever, complete with a free standing claw foot bath and a nice shower, my bedroom which is so big I keep thinking of it as a ballroom (Ok slight exaggeration but you are sensing my excitement right?) is lovely and that then leads on to another bedroom (or dressing room) which I have already decided I will move into in the winter as it will be easier to heat and keep warm. Finally, after 4 flights of stairs, on the upper floor, are the kids rooms, once again all very nice. With all the flights of stairs, I do believe we will all have wonderfully sculpted thighs by Christmas..

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The garden is a delight with lots of mature shrubs and some flowers and herbs. I’ve yet to identify many species, as soon as I get my internet up and running (just have right now after a week of line problems!!). It’s compact but there is lots of space around the patio area for large tubs for veggies and herbs. I desperately want to try and get a few growing tubs up ASAP once I can locate a garden centre to buy supplies from…it’s not too late yet! (Ben and Bertie drove me to one yesterday and I have a few veggies and a push lawnmower) Yesterday evening I pulled up a few large piles of couch grass from between the shrubs and flowers and I started to pull up weeds growing up through the pea shingle.

To be continued…

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