Sunday, 27 September 2020

Apple juice

 This is what I use to extract the juice..there are other methods! It was an inexpensive way to start, and the machine is going well...ten years old at least.

The pomace goes to the compost and the chooks over the road.

The juice is filtered, I use a muslin and a cotton teatowel, and sometimes a second filtering through a jelly bag. 

The bottles are cleaned with very hot water then dried in a hot oven to sterilise. When cold they are filled to within an inch of the top, placed in a deep pan of cold water up to their shoulders, sitting on a trivet and wrapped in teatowels to make sure that they don't knock against each other.
The lids are screwed tight then slacked off a quarter turn. Then the water temperature is raised to 190 degrees F and held there for twenty minutes, gently simmering.
When the time is up, out onto a wooden board, lids are shut tight and insulation tape wrapped around them. Then cool on their sides, firstly to make sure that the inside of the lids are sterile but also to check for leaks..the leaky ones get drunk straight away!
Then I melt wax in a jar sitting in a pan of hot water and dip the tops just past the tape..a belt and braces job!
I kept the last of last year's apple juice until an occasion a couple of weeks ago, but I am sure it would have been good for longer.

This is the method I use for processing cordials, and I have started adding a small spoonful of pectolase to the berry cordials so that I don't get a bottle of jelly instead!

I think you can use it for bottling/ canning as well, it might be an idea as I can only get three small jars in the pressure cooker..but at least I am learning the knack of not boiling the syrup out of the jars as they process!

First frost


Friday, 25 September 2020


The youngsters flew off this morning, following in their parents' flight path.

The wind was up over the equinox, and still is down the East coast of England. Here we had a still starry night and all the shed roofs were white with frost in the morning.

We had a quieter day today after some hard work removing glass from a greenhouse from a neighbour over the road. Her sons are buying her a new one! This one has been there for about fifty years!!  Then it was carried over, including over her side fence and our side fence and four people, suitably distanced, one at each corner!

 Now the sums are being will be on three courses of bricks to give a decent growing height...and of course we have bricks but not quite enough. At least bricks won't cost too much, compared to glass. Most of the glass is good, just needs a clean.

A good day to tick along quietly, finishing jobs started or just queueing to be done!

 Another small batch of fresh fig and date chutney, this time with some ripe tomatoes from the garden instead of apples.  Three half price punnets of mushrooms sliced and dried, and the dehydrator refilled with one layer each of pineapple pieces and halved dark cherries (grown in Scotland) and the rest full of sliced pears. 

Three punnets of cherries are now three mason jars of cherries. I might go back to the street stall in town tomorrow to see if they have more! They are the misshapes, the split and regrown...but just as tasty as the perfect fruit. There could be more to dry, and a few bottles of cordial to make..and fresh cherries to eat of course!!

Pirate has been busy sorting bike things and doing construction sums.

We would love to get on with my workshop verandah, but can't have our friend to stay...and we need his muscle and building know-how. Let's hope that when we can get together more, we will have the weather fit to do outside work.

Monday, 21 September 2020


 The leftover apples from the forage a week or so ago will be canned/bottled or dried...and we aim to get some more of the same!  I am guessing that they could be keepers as well, which means finding some apple trays next time we shop.


 A mainly bike weekend! 

Back to the vintage bike collection to pay for last week's purchases, I thought....Pirate found a "few" more bits..and a couple of pairs of wheels..... I need to sell a lot more bike bits!! He has been asked to concentrate on what he has and rein it in a bit Please!!!

On the other hand it does give him a purpose and focus in these times.

We returned to near Irvine, to a country park ..being a holiday weekend the place was heaving! We managed to find a place to park away from the crowds and went for a ride on the paths, looking for the way northwards...wrong choice made and we got a bit muddy...and headed back to the coast and a ride back up to Ardrossan..where there happens to be a good gelateria!

Back to the park, to find that it was the hq for a ten mile cycling time trial. Riders go off at minute intervals on a set course. Now there is no held start...and no gathering afterwards.

Results get posted on line. We watched a few of our friends and clubmates go , before going home...and returning to watch some of the next morning's twenty-five mile trial.

Over to park at Irvine Harbour, and after coffee..with cake of course...another ride, this time aiming to follow National Cycle Route 7 to Kilbirnie.

Disaster after only three miles..a steep short link path with a water and mud covered bend... obviously been like that for a while as the algae on the path led to my wheels sliding away and I hit the deck and slid myself! 

A while to sit on a wall. Then proceed, a little bumped and scraped but otherwise ok.

The route is a mix of purpose built cycle path, small roads and cycle path on old railways.

Apparently the best route which follows the old goods line was blocked by a local farmer..and he didn't then and still doesn't own the old trackbed. After Kilwinning and a section on the old goods line, the route follows lanes and small roads. A nice ride, which unfortunately came to a halt at the bottom of the hill before Kilbirnie. Here it appears that much of a small bridge was washed away in one of the recent storms.

When the sign said no through road for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians..they meant it!

No choice but to retrace our wheeltracks, but even without reaching Kilbirnie we did nearly 25 miles.

Thursday, 17 September 2020


 Most odd....I have found my list of followers, but can't find out about any of you..just a name, and a photo, and a list of the other blogs you follow. You used to be able to find other people's blogs this way.

Sunny day off

 Normally on a sunny day we would be off on our bikes.

Today for a change we went in the car to see a friend in the Kingdom of Fife.

He needed a hand as he is mending his car. We took him to a garage to get a bearing pressed out and a new one pressed in. He helped Pirate  with a wheel ..and he is building a new pair of wheels for him too, with hubs and rims that we already had. It was a relaxing break for us all, and much needed company of friends for us all in these times. 

Then back home for supper from the garden!

I posted two bike bits one parcel to the same person! And arrived home to another good sale...makes it worth the work of cleaning, researching and listing!

It still takes the time and energy that would go towards my own work, but for now it is bringing in much needed cash and making more room. We just need to restrain Pirate from spending it all on more bikes...some is ok..

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Afternoon bike ride


Some finishing off before an afternoon out...

Then off to check the cycling club's hut..once called the summer hq where some would go and stay on a Friday night to give a good start to a weekend ride. It is 30 miles South of Ayr where the club is based.

We don't do a lot with them at the moment, but Pirate is a life member so still takes an interest. 

Plus we have friends living over the road from the hut, and next door just the other side of a burn.

It was a lovely sunny day and the butterflies were out in force, Red Admirals. Peacocks and Tortoishell.

Time for a cuppa and put the world to rights  as we hadn't seen our friends by the burn since March.

Then over to the next village to park the car in the community car park and ride our bikes "round the block"...which happens to be over 36 miles..or 58km. Quite a way, but over moorland and open countryside and smaller roads. 

We saw fewer than ten cars.. but a couple were inconsiderate if not dangerous.

With stops it took us over three hours..longer than we had hoped, but the first third was against a headwind and uphill!  We managed to get back just before lighting up time, thankfully. The community car park has a row of solar panels that run the lights which was useful for packing the car.

We took a different way home, over a main mountain road, one we know well..and as night fell we saw lights accident?

No, a large white bull was happily grazing the verge and his owner's friend was keeping an eye on the traffic until he could be taken back home. Apparently he is the one that doesn't fancy the Ladies in the herd, so sometimes wanders.

Home safely.. tired...glad that there was soup in the freezer.

Sunday, 13 September 2020

We have been busy...

I may have cracked the Not boiling all the syrup out of the jar problem!

I managed to find Mason jars at 69 pence I am getting back into the swing of it, although I can only do three at a time in our pressure cooker.

Sweet pickled plums...have been meaning to have a go at this ever since I found a jar of Polish pickled plums in a shop a few years ago.
Drying experiments.. Victoria plums are better than Marjorie's Seedling. Melons need to be a bit riper to dry! The tomatoes dried well, we just need more ripe ones at one time to do it!
We cut a red cabbage...getting it before the caterpillars!!
Two sorts of lemon chutney, hot and spicy and fresh herby. 

We have been wanting to get out on the bikes, but the weather has been against us. Even when it has been dry the wind has been so strong that we decided that a walk was the safest option!

You can see how much rain we have had!

Power on the way from Scotland to Ireland
A fruitful walk! Apple juicing soon
And the veges in the polytunnel are profiting from the shelter!

 We have to keep ourselves occupied..the fact that we haven't seen family for over a year weighs heavily.

When grandies are young, they change so quickly...Woodchip will be four in November.  Pirate's eldest has passed his driving test.