Monday 29 April 2013

Smallholders Sangria?

Did I tell you we have just been to Portugal on our Jollies?  I have been on of a bit of a downer since I came back.   Who wouldn't be after all the fantastic weather and cheap food and grog?  We even sampled a pitcher of 'Sangria' one night on our excursion to the Algarve.

I was that impressed with the 'Sangria'  that I decided to make my own version when I got back to our little smallholding in West Cork, Southern Ireland.  Here goes:

One bottle of red wine.  Places like Lidl and Aldi do some really cheap one's.  "Sangria" is the Spanish word for blood.  Cut some citrus fruit into wedges.  Add a shot of Brandy or whatever spirit you like.  Apparently the experts don't recommend Vodka for some reason.  We also put in 2 cups of ginger ale and a chopped up banana and some strawberries.

Any road.  When you have got all your ingredients together.  Pour the bottle of wine into a large jug or pitcher.  Squeeze the juice out of your orange and lemons (Said the bells of St Clements..") and toss in the fruit, without any seeds ("pips"), then add some sugar and chill overnight.    If you want to drink it straight away (you do, you do) just use some chilled wine and add some ice and slice up some strawberries or whatever fruit you like or can get hold of.

Now take it outside in the garden and sit down and enjoy.  Don't look at the weeds.  Just enjoy.  Summer is on it's way.

Do you have any summer drinks recipes?

Thursday 25 April 2013

Time For Smallholders and Town Folk to Slow Down. (Sensible Speed Limits In The Countryside And Towns At Last?)

I see the British government is think of attempting to bring in legislation to reduce the speed limits to twenty miles an hour in the towns with chicanes and sleeping (tarmac humps) policeman.  They are also considering bringing the speed limits down in the countryside.

What do you think of the EU led proposals to make the roads safer?

I reckon it's a move in the right direction.  I am tired of all the cars and I think they should be fitted with a governor to prevent road-kill and to make it safe for people to walk along country roads.  There are far too many cars in Europe and we are destroying the environment with all the pollution.

I also think that all the little rural towns would be less congested if they made 'Park and Ride' facilities in every village and town.  I believe Clovelly in Devon is car free and I once visited Tresco in the Scilly Isles and that's also car free.  Lets  have more public transport, cycle lanes, rural pavements and reduce the cars to 2 per household.

What do you think folks?

Monday 22 April 2013

Holiday Vacation To The Algarve Looking At Allotments And Smallholdings. (A Busman's Holiday?)

Well we missed the hurricanes in Ireland because we have just spent a week on the Algarve in Portugal.  Weather was rather superb (26 degrees), 2 Euros/2.50 a large glass.  Accommodation was very basic (5 floors up in a high rise flat.  The bed was like a rock and the telly didn't work.  Apart from that.  A good time was had by all.

My highlight was going on a speedboat in Lagos, watching a dolphin show and visiting Monchique.  We went on a coach tour up the mountains and passed many abandoned smallholdings and saw quite a few productive one's too.  We also noticed quite a few orange trees.  Smallholdings with villas can still be bought relatively cheap.  What you would do for a living.  Is another question.  Portugal is a modern country though and it's very cheap to live there.  The weather means everything doesn't it when you have a smallholding or an allotment?

Any road.  I am back and I will catch up with the blogs I follow this week.  Here's a few photographs for you.
Sorry the date is wrong still.  Amazing villa and garden in Monchique.

Storks nest.

Praia Da Rocha.


The amazing Dolphins.  My eyes started watering..  Amazing surreal experience. 

Orange tree.

Man tending his vegetable garden in Monchique.  He was using an Azada, like mine.

Friday 12 April 2013

What if the Famous had Allotments? (A E book for the price of a posh newspaper).

Product Details

What if the Famous Had Allotments? A Quirky Guide to Vegetable Growers of Fame and Fantasy. by Dave Dealy, Susan King, Des Dillon and Harvey Mayson (10 Apr 2013)

Well we got there.  Today I would like to announce the launch of my new Ebook: '"What if the Famous had Allotments?'  Susan King (Frugaldom blog) at NYK Media helped and guided me to publishing my first Ebook on Kindle.  We have deliberately made it available at a very reasonable price so any body can afford it.  

Yeah I know you don't have a Kindle - no problem!  You can download a free kindle app from Amazon and you can get books in a second (a minute anyway) rather than having to go to the bookshop or order a copy.  I usually have to wait 10 days for a book to arrive from dear old Blighty.  Oh yeah.  There are also quite a lot of FREE books on Kindle.  

So what's it all about (Alfie)?  I am a published smallholding humour writer (Archie Sparrows Book of useful Tips to Beat the Recession ...with Baling String) and I have had a monologue broadcast on BBC radio Lancashire and countless poems and short stories published in provincial newspapers and regional anthologies..   I also blog a bit.  Well you have to don't you?  

Any road.  I did pen the above manuscript about famous allotment tenants.  I wanted to write an A-Z amusing book about allotments and their owners.  There are lots of books (deadly serious I might add) about allotments) I wanted to write a funny book about them.   Allotments fascinate me.  They really are living paintings.  We the allotment gardeners (and smallholders) are the artists, mother nature is the easel and we paint with our shovels and forks.    Not forgetting the 'Allotment castle' : the shed.  

Have any of you written a book or writing one?  Have you got an E book or a 'paper' book  on Amazon or some where?  Please tell us all about it.   

Any way thanks to everybody who helped me with the book.  

Monday 8 April 2013

Latest Pics Of The Aberdeen Angus Calves On Our Smallholding In Ireland.

Brr... It's been rough again last night.  We get some terrible gales living on the Western seaboard of the Atlantic Ocean.  The 4 Aberdeen "Calveens" (West Cork phrase) don't seem to be taking any harm though.  These are their most recent pictures of them tucking into the straw.  They also have 2 scoops of 'calf nut's' a day to give them any minerals they are lacking.  They are five weeks old now and they have weaned themselves off the milk.

Went for my daily walk to see the 'big' cattle today.  There seems to be a lot of Gorse ("Furze") in flower at the moment.  The people long a go used to use it for stock proof fencing and grew fields of it for firewood.  The Gorse flower smell reminds me of coconut or sun tan lotion.  The grass also seems to have a yellow tinge from the wind burn and salt in the rain.  I won't knock the rain too much though.  Rainwater contains lots of nitrogen and makes the grass and flowers grow.  I don't buy 'bag manure' granulated fertilizer.  So I am almost organic.  Anybody heard of any organic granulated fertilizer for pasture and hay?  How much is it? Why is everything 'organic' that's for sale, so expensive?

"April showers brings May flowers."

Friday 5 April 2013

Recycling Fence Posts, Barbed Wire And The Cattle Have Gone On Their Holidays Next To The Sea (Bantry Bay).

Well the cattle finally (hallelujah!) made it down the road (boreen) to their summer grazing yesterday.  I have been busy recycling old fence posts and barbed wire and making a fence to split the pasture up and fencing off a stream to stop the cattle placing country (think about it)  pancakes in it.  It's a spring and it supplies them with drinking water and minerals...  Do you recycle your fence posts and barbed wire?  I did have to spend twenty Euros on electric fence wire and insulators though.  Even smallholder tight wads like me have to spend some money.

Today we cleaned out the cow stall and yard and made another big pile of farmyard manure.   The old back is aching but I am happy because the cattle are happy fattening on the summer grass.

It was frosty last night but the cattle didn't seem to mind it.  It also means the twice daily walks will keep me fit.  I may even get rid of my beer belly.  Doubt it though. 2 miles  a day = 14 miles a week.  That's quite a lot isn't it?  But if I only go once a day that's 1 mile a day = 7 miles a week.  That's still not bad is it?  

Can you see the fox path (trail) in front of the cattle?  They seem creatures of habit  always treading the same path.  The foxes live in the cliffs below the pasture.  I sometimes see young foxes playing.  Once saw a big dog fox carrying a big rat in it's mouth.  So they are not all bad.  Once saw 2 rats eating blackberries from the brambles growing around the edges of the fields.  There's never a dull moment when you go to see your cattle.

Tuesday 2 April 2013

Mick Jagger And The Lads Are Going To Glastonbury, But I'm Not. (A Smallholder midlife crisis?)

I see Mick Jagger and the lads are headlining one of the nights at Glastonbury festival this year?  It just shows you are never too old to rock and roll.  I think your average ticket cost 205 pounds this year and it's sold out.  How times have changed.  One believes that the very first Glastonbury festival ticket cost the princely sum of £1.00 and they gave each punter a FREE pint of milk.  I went to Glastonbury festival in 1989 and it cost me £28.00 for the weekend (me and the world and his wife turned up on the Thursday, it didn't start 'proper' until Friday) and a good time was had by all.

So here I am in 2013 and I have been looking at all the myriad of festivals in Blighty on the Internet.  There are lots of different one's to suit all ages (even if your 49) and music tastes.  There are rock festivals, Jazz festivals, eighties music, real ale, ecological..   You name it.

What age do you think your too old to rock and roll?  I am even thinking of going to Cambridge folk festival.   only thinking like. Perhaps it's my age?  What's next Saga holidays and getting an allotment?  I have already done that, read the book, bought the T shirt.  Suppose I could always get a smallholding?  I am joking.  Wouldn't mind a ride on a steam train.  Am I going through a smallholder/ old rockers midlife crisis?

Here's Neil Young from the fantastic Farm Aid Festival in America.  They put on a yearly concert to raise money for poor farmers.  Perhaps we should have one in Britain or Ireland?   What age are you too old to go to a rock concert?

What We Had For Our Smallholding Tea.

 The polytunnel and veg plot keeps on giving and we seem to be eating new spudatoes every day at the moment: Snowball onion, kale and new po...