Saturday, September 22, 2012

New chickens and new jungle gym!

We bought 2 more chickens today! So that brings us up to 5 with new Wolverine (Leo's choice of name - he would not compromise!)

and Princess Peach (it was a close call between that and Ms Marvel)

They are both lovely amber hybrids. The chicken lady also had some lovely bantams which Leigh was really keen on, but she advised that introducing bantams to an established flock of bigger birds would potentially be disasterous unless we had somewhere separate for the smaller birds to sleep (which we don't) - or we were building a flock from scratch and buying bantams and bigger birds at the same time. So big birds it was and lovely they are too. All the chucks are in for their first night together.

Leigh's dad also came round this afternoon to help build a new adventure area for the chickens to make the most of their new walk-in run. Here are some photos of the new arrangement and it's brilliant! The chickens love climbing up the big tree branch in the middle and Leigh's put some treats high up to encourage them to try to get to the higher levels. It looks great, they've not lost any floor space, just got some new climbing fun!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Om nom nom...

The breadmaker is going great guns - the onion bread came out the same second time around, despite the amendments I made, so that's how it's supposed to be! I've also made gingerbread cake (too salty but that was wholly user error!), apricot and almond bread, pesto and pine nut bread (yum!), banana and walnut teacake and tried a white 'sandwich' loaf rather than the straightforward white loaf. All lovely. Still lots more to try!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

"If he'd had another life, he'd have rescored that bit"

Yep, first rehearsal for the next concert last night! It is good to be back at rehearsals, but it is the final sign that summer is over.

The next concert is in November - we're playing Strauss' Death and Transfiguration (which apparently Derek the conductor has "played a couple of times, but I've never conducted it. This is the first time I've looked at the score"), Schumann piano concerto and Berlioz's Symphonie Fantastique - about which Derek made the top comment - it was in relation to a particularly nasty passage of col legno (basically using the wood of the bow to make a tapping sound rather than the hair). He said that that passage is a mess, it always sounds a mess, whichever orchestra is playing it! And apparently Berlioz would have re-scored it if he could have!!!

Music is difficult but very atmospheric and will be ace.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Fun in the sun (or I am a child!)

We've just spent a couple of days with my sister and her family in Norfolk. Had a lovely afternoon at High Lodge in Thetford forest - the children all particularly enjoyed the wonderful music trail, and there were HUGE slides too.

Then back to Becks' house for a BBQ with my Mum, Chris and my Auntie Pat. All was going well until out of the blue my auntie says "Rebecca, do you trim your bush?" Cue momentous silence for a couple of beats until I realised she was talking about the decorative bay tree they have in the garden, with (and this is the honest truth) no idea about any other interpretation.

Seriously could not look at my sister or Leigh for fear of massive hysterical laughing and embarassing my auntie. Bless!

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Two days down

School seems to be going remarkable well (touch wood!) - at least the first 2 days have been fine. Highlights appear to have been

discovering he's not the only Zachary in his class - he told this to me outside the classroom this morning behind his hand with a smirk as though he was telling me a naughty joke or something

being able to choose his lunch - this is a relief. We were wondering how the prospect of school dinners would go down - obviously our hope being that he will discover lots of new things he likes to eat. I think he's appreciating the difference between holiday club where there was no choice, and school where he feels like he can have anything he wants!

going out to play - not one, but two times (plus hand gesture)

being able to take a water bottle into nursery - he loves drinking it as we're walking along, must be the new status symbol...

and 2 stickers on his first day. Brilliant!

Keeping fingers crossed that we will get through this and next week with as good an attitude. Next week we start dropping him off at Breakfast club first thing in the morning and they will drop him off and pick him up from school - he seems remarkably matter of fact about it all at the moment. Now it's down to us not to make a big thing of it and just let him carry on as normal.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

First day of school baby!

So here is my wonderful eldest son off to his first day of big school. We got him there and managed to leave without tears (from any of the parties involved!) but it will all be a bit different for him - especially the having lunch at school bit.

Collecting him just after 3 - hopefully all has gone well.

Onion bread - not so great!

Onion bread - interesting! Opened the breadmaker this morning and to be honest, the top looked uncooked - no risen at all and still in the shapes and patterns of dough rather than bread. But it was all cooked - tasty, but quite dense.

As there's no piccie in the recipe book, it's difficult to know whether this is what the bread is supposed to turn out like or whether I've gone wrong. Talking about it with Leigh at lunchtime, we think 1 of 3 things may have happened, which may or may not have affected the bread - 1. my wholemeal flour has been in the cupboard a couple of months and may have lost its 'strongness,' 2. I didn't add any horseradish as we had none and maybe that gives the bread a bit of a lift - yeah, maybe! or 3. the liquid element of the mix may have met with the yeast before official mixing time, which is a no-no according to the book. I made the bread overnight, so clearly the mix was sitting around for a good 6/7 hours before the programme actually began and some of the water/oil may have seeped through.

Anyway, will rectify all these when I try this again and will just have to wait and see if I get a better result.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

New bling, new gadgets!

Lots of things have happened over the last couple of weeks - we have been to Ibiza with the in-laws (which was in no way as bad as it might have been and actually quite relaxing, save for the 3.30am start and 2am finish!), during which it was our 10th wedding anniversary. We swapped gifts before the holiday so that we didn't have to take anything with us - mine was a wonderful eternity ring. Simply lovely.

My Mum gave us some money for our anniversary which was to be used for something we wanted, but didn't necessarily need (and not for chickens!). After some deliberation we went for... a breadmaker! In an ideal world I would be sufficiently motivated to get up at 5.30am and make my own bread for the day, but given that we all live in the real world (and I can't do kneading - see my previous stabs at chelsea and hot cross buns...), the only realistic way we are going to regularly eat freshly made bread is with a breadmaker.

It is swish, elegant and lovely

We tried the rapid loaf the day we brought it home just to try it out, and then a full-time loaf overnight. The rapid loaf was fine, although came out a little pale on top, but the second loaf was much better

Onion bread is in the maker for tomorrow!!