Can you make your own entrance gates? Of course you can. Measure and then do it again, make sure you are leaving space for your hinges… and measure again, measure again.. last thing you want is to make them all and then hang them up and they are too short or too long. So start with the hooks, they need to be cemented into your pillars or attached to your posts – depending on what you buy. You need large/long hinge on the top (you will notice we have a short one, so I say this from experience as they blew off and had to be replaced with long hinges) as that takes the weight of the gate and small hinge on the bottom just to guide the gate. Look at other peoples gates there is always a reason why they are built practially same principles on every gate.. because it works. Lie your wood on the ground and decide height of gate. you dont want the gate to be dragging on the ground but you dont want it so high that you need a boulder in the ground to stop it flying back the other direction. Do you want them to open inwards or outwards. decide and thing about these things. Wind holes are good idea if its a windy spot. Decide your design and lie out your planks of wood. Gaps in the middle equal less wood equals cheaper. We did a full no gap gate. Then when you have your planks the correct legnth and width secure with a plank across the top and one across the bottom. Turn the gate around and put a plank across the top and bottom slightly lower than the other plank on reverse side. Put a plank across the middle to stop the gate from buckling. Lift up the gate and hold it (with some helpful friends) up to the hinge hooks and mark where your hinges will go, then screw them in very slightly as you may change them, hang both gates up if using two in same manner and get a level and check its level across the top.. screw in your hinges properly and add on your gate furniture, bingo. You will also need a metal stopper on the side you dont want to open your gate out to. We just used a flat stone, dug a hole poured cement into the hole and stuffed the rock in and it works a treat. Stops your gates from flying out the wrong way and gives it more stability when its closed against the wind.
Time to plant plant plant!! you want your garden to look nice without having to spend a fortune on plant pots etc that can be awful and expensive. Why not go to car boot sales and find old pottys and bowls and wine boxes and there are endless things you can throw some soil in and plant away. What about an old wheelbarrow……or an old metal water tank. A cheap greenhouse if you silicone it well can be quite sturdy. Planting in raised beds looks neat and is really easy to do, and you dont have to dig the soil just throw it in the box from a big bag.. expensive – yes but worth the lack of hassle..
I am not a great fan of flowers, I do have a few, but dont know what they are apart from the daffodils and the tulips. I do like vegetables, I have always been a fan of useful things. I am also a fan of “The Urban Kitchen Gardener” by Tom Moggach.. its a fabulous book from a chap in Camden, London who grew things in his tiny Camden Garden/Patio, he even had a couple of hens there. He shows you how to grow things in small spaces.. and grow things for goodness sake that you cant buy for 1.99 in a shop.. go for unusal things – Chinese Mustard, Green in Snow is the type I grow, its a great alternative to Rocket. Japanese Shiso, is fab instead of Basil in a pesto or thow it into a salad. Chervil is great to use instead of parsley, none of these things you can get readily in Tesco. Thai Basil is a must in a Thai curry and its unusual taste just makes it. Mouse Melons, are mini melon shaped gerkins from South America.. fabulous in a salad, unusual and interesting. Give the book a read and you’ll be hooked. Even if you do grow potatoes, try some of these unusual things as well. Purple Carrots is another one.. what about that grated into a salad!
Lets go to the bedroom….
Alot of work needed to be done to the two upstairs bedrooms, you could basically see the garden from inside the house.. so walls needed to be finished and insulation, plastering, cupboards made in for storage as with slanty ceilings its not easy to find storage.. but we worked tirelessly and made two beautiful bedrooms, the jury is still out on whether to put in an en-suite bathroom or a wardobe.. at the moment it’s a wardrobe and perhaps our legged bath given to us from a lovely neighbour we might put in the actual bedroom… what do you think? We made a daybed out of wood, which was basically two planks across and 6 planks legnthways, painted.. used now as a daybed, sofa and single spare bed if needed. Our room is the green one. We bought a massive bed in ikea for £200 and two lights from Facade in Maida Vale for £65 each. We love it. there is three windows. We had to make our own bedroom door, just a latch door but we are very proud of it. I will take a photo and add it to the post.
Little Red Hen
Daffy Duck, my little red hen was recently half eaten by a fox.. my husband chased him off her but unfortunately the fox had broken her leg and she was pouring blood. I picked her up and sat her (on a towel) on my knee.. while Judy hen watched, probably in shock. I phoned all my hen owner friends, and they rallied around. We had the lovely Rachel who came up with a crate for her to put her in the kitchen. She also brought two guests an ex- paratrouper and a nurse.. hee hee!!! My other friend Teri came up with some antibiotics and a purple spray and my other friend Kelle came around with some calpol as a pain relief.. we made a splint out of lollipop sticks and strapped her up and put her in the box. After about a week we let her out to play with the others and she’s doing great now. Theory is before you take an axe to your hen, its amazing how they can adapt to one leg.. and how they heal quite quickly. This is her in her box, and out in the garden after a week hopping around in great form.
AFTER 4 WEEKS SHE IS BACK IN THE RUN, SITTING AND SLEEPING ON THE PEARCH AND SCRATCHING AROUND AS NORMAL.. THEY HEAL VERY WELL! SO DONT LOOSE HEART FIX YOUR HEN.
As you know I was quite traumatised by my visit from Basil Brush. Bring back fox hunting I say!! probably joking but felt a bit raw for a while.
These are our new girls, we have Britt who is a white Sussex, or a light Sussex. We have Aud who is a Speckeldy hen, and we have Gerd who is a black Daisybell, who should have a silver head but I chose her because she was unusually black and never got her silver head, I think it would have made her look old. She’s only a baby. They have grown really friendly over the past few weeks. They get out at some point during the day but do spend the time in the run when we’re not around and we are a lot more careful of them.
Lets go to the sitting room…
Small but perfectly formed…….this room gets really nice and warm with the log burner. If you are installing a log burner, leave the pipe on the inside as it will act as a heater, even if it does look like an old fashioned hoover.
These were original floorboards, two small windows and a log burner…….otherwise it was a small room with nothing much else going for it. We started to clean and paint the walls a greeny colour.. quite quickly we realised why these old cottages are always painted white, with the rough walls the line between the walls and ceiling were all wonky……looked like it had been painted by a blind man. So white it was as we rolled the walls and ceiling started to peel off onto the roller. Another learning curve with a cottage, don’t roll – brush. Firstly in order to stop it all peeling off we bought a mix of poly-bond which is a dry mix – mix with water and brush it on and let it dry – keeps it all in tact – we got there but took about 5 times longer than it should have. The old owner smoked so behind where he obviously used to sit there was nicotine stains up the walls which need a few extra coats. The fire place was an old Art Deco one, tiled and when he put in the burner he left the fireplace behind. It was manky dirty and looked really shook, so I got some tile paint, this comes in all sorts of colours. I thought it best to stick with white and let it blend into the wall rather than make a feature out of it.. We kept the furniture to a minimum so the room looked a little bigger. We bought an old dutch potato box from the antique shop in the village, perfect for storing our logs in and cheaper than buying a new log basket without any character. The telly we got given by one of Rune’s customers which was fantastic, not every day someone is throwing out a B&O telly. We got a rug and an old sofa our Danish friends were throwing out.
I also picked up a 1920’s drinks trolley on eBay when I lived in London. It was a real find for £70, I later saw one in an antique shop the same with a lamp coming up out of the middle of it and it was £490 so I chuckled to myself, nothing like a bargain. Except when my lovely husband Rune was taking it out of the car he tipped it up and one of the unsecured shelves hit the ground and smashed. Found a lovely chappy in Camden Market who made us another one, so its bottom shelf is new and the rest is old. Its an oval mirrored edge with a wine coloured middle part. I also picked up on eBay for £24 a french art deco lamp which has a nice solid lampshade and has a wine coloured base that doubles up as an ashtray… love it.
We then move to the other side of the room to the sideboard, we bought this from eBay as well when we were in London. Its made of rosewood, which is a lovely wood but you can no longer use it, which makes all rosewood furniture so special, apart from the fact it will be an older piece it’s also going to go up in value. This is Danish from 1960. My good friend Ellice bought us a beautiful Art Deco picture frame which is two sheets of glass that fit into a marble base. I have since found a few other smaller ones in markets and grabbed them with two hands….so the collection of frames are all individual stories in their own right. The light is from a shop in Maida Vale called Facade, they are toleware lights. Each of the leaves lights up with a bulb behind it – giving a subtle light… lovely. The chair I found on the street in Primrose Hill, it was pretty bad and so I joined an upholstery course with “The School of Stuff” and did the chair up, my chair stank, the teacher told everyone to keep the original cover (to cut around and use as a pattern for the new fabric), I was handed a black bag and told we’d work out the pattern later.
We also took all the doors off and gave them to a chap to dip and take off the numerous layers of white paint and bring them back to the old wood and in turn painted the floors a light grey farrow and ball – cornforth white. This brightened up the room as the old floors were shagged.
The little windows have really deep window sills and can be used as shelves or just perfect for a bunch of wild flowers.
As they are so deep, curtains would have to go on the inside of the window… so we used IKEA little cheap white blinds that don’t take from the window at all but when down are blackout blinds, I think they were only €5 or so per blind for the small ones. You can cut them to size.
Day two and three of the cheese making
You can see the cheese has separated into a yogarty consistency and a watery liquid around the edges. This is after 24 hours of sitting at room temperature undisturbed. If you haven’t got a noticeable curd and whey then leave it longer. Next we need to separate these…
You take your piece of cheesecloth.. and knot the four corners so it looks like your uncle Harry’s bald patch protection in the sun.
Place it over the sink with a pot at the bottom to catch the whey – animals ie chickens and pigs love it. Then you need a sieve and place the cheese cloth in to the sieve. Pour the contents of your pot into the cheesecloth and let the whey drip through.
Next we need to get all four corners of the cheese cloth and tie some string around the top of it. Put your original pot on the counter and tie the string around your cupboard door handle.
Then you leave it for a further 24 hours hanging. It will look considerably smaller by same time tomorrow.
Give your whey to the chickens, makes their shells nice and hard.
Then you tip out your cheese from the cheese cloth – you may need to scrape it off the cloth with a knife, but should still be like soft cheese now and not too liquidy, if it is then hang it up again.
You now need to add salt to stop the cheese from developing further. Mush it all in with a fork.
Your cheese is now ready to flavour, I use chives, you can put nuts and honey, garlic – whatever your imagination tells you to do, or try them all until you find your favorite. You roll it in greaseproof paper and make a roll or you can put it in ramekins or pots lined with herbs and then tip it out when you need it. It can also freeze really well until you need it. The longer you leave it in the fridge to mature the stronger it becomes. You can eat it straight away – especially if you like a mild flavour and not to goaty. Enjoy.