Wednesday, 31 March 2021


 It is the first morning this year that I have stepped Out of the door and thought...Spring!

We have our first dandelion for the bees and seeds are germinating in the greenhouse and polytunnel.

Looking back

 From where we looked down to from our walk....

Working across to the left as you come down the images, to the village of Rankinston.

We headed South yesterday to our other "local" post office at Dalrymple, again about eight miles away.  We added a couple of miles..and avoided going up a couple of big having our first stop at The Coo Shed, normally a cafe and garden centre at a farm...they have a milk vending machine in a hut, and now they have added one for coffee and cakes! 

It was hard work going out against the wind, but lovely to have a tailwind home, nicely aligned to assist up the hills!!

Monday, 29 March 2021

Walk in the rain

 An opencast site near here has been earmarked for tree planting and leisure routes...cycling and walking.

Every time we plan a walk there, it this time we decided to go anyway.

The road would be fine for some mountain bikers, but a bit gnarly for me to ride!

It was a nice walk despite the wind and rain,with skylarks and snipe and a few LBJs that we couldn't recognise.

Apparently the hole hasn't been used for landfill in case they want to mine for coal again....I can't see that happening.

Looking towards Patna along the old road that our neighbours grandmother took him and his siblings from Rankinston to the shop and list office in Patna.

The next view is looking back along it towards Rankinston

That was about fifty years ago.

The rain was getting heavier so we retraced steps..with the intent of having longer walks when it is dry!!

Friday, 26 March 2021

Life gets in the way...

 Washing, shopping, art today, but we did get a walk at teatime.

Supper was different..I made a batch of Ras el Hanout spice was voted a great success!

Thursday, 25 March 2021

Bike bits!

 It was get down to it and list bits on eBay today, plus packing yesterday's sale.

The research is enjoyable if time consuming....

Memories of riding to the velodrome..well, track, it was outdoors...and taking the brake off the track bike ready to race....

I am gradually restocking my Etsy shop and the number of visitors and views has increased. 

It is very tempting just to get everything on in one foul swoop.....but that wouldn't work!!

So just one reposting every coup!e of days, and meanwhile work on new drawings and blocks.

I have in mind one view from our village, across a friend's farm, and across to Goat Fell on Arran....I have a few photographs of it, but I need just the right angle..

I think with making local images I can't use too much artistic licence and it must be totally recognisable

The background wasn't too visible on our last walk!!

Chutneys 3 Fresh fig and date

 FRESH FIG & DATE ...non spicy!!

This is a recipe from a supermarket website. I never shop there on principle....but this is a good recipe!

Olive oil.  4 tbsp.     Onions 1kg chopped.      Dates 1kg.  Chopped.    Fresh figs. 1kg chopped.

Tomatoes or Apples 500g (cored and) chopped .  Brown sugar. 500g. Cider vinegar 550ml

This uses two pans...

1. Heat oil,fry onions 15 minutes then add chopped dates, cook until sticky.

2. Cook the rest together for 20 minutes , add the onion mix, cook for 30 minutes.

Pot into HOT jars, cover as usual with wax circles and wax and screw lids.

Mature for at least a month.   Keeps at least for two years...we found a jar lurking at the back of the cupboard, and with the wax, and the tape around the jar lid it hadn't dried out...and it was lovely with some white crumbly cheese, and sliced apple and oatcakes...

Chutneys 2 Beetroot


Giving amounts for two different size batches.

Beetroot, scrubbed, topped and tailed then diced (1 cm) no need to peel. 1.5 or 2 kg

Onion, chopped.  3 or 4

Apple,any sort, grated . 3 small or 3 medium eaters, or 1 very large or 2 medium cookers.

Ginger, fresh,diced very small.  30 g or 50g

Mustard seeds.  2 tsp  or 3 tsp

Coriander seeds.  1 tbsp or 1 rounded tbsp

Ground cloves         ditto.             ditto

Ground cinnamon.  ditto.             ditto

Cider vinegar.            700ml.   or 1 litre 

Golden granulated sugar.    700g or 1 kg.

Zest and juice of  4 or 6 limes or 2 or 3 oranges.

The recipe says to put it all in the pan....but last time I put everything but the sugar in until the beetroot was almost ready, to avoid the risk of sticking and burning the pan!

So, all except the sugar in a large preserving (Maslin ) pan, bring to the boil, and simmer stirring occasionally until the beetroot is almost ready, then add the sugar and raise the heat a little until all cooked and reduced and not quite sticking (!) Which it has a tendency to.....

Take off the heat and rest for 5 minutes before potting in HOT jars , using wax circles and wax as before before adding screwtop lids.

If I know that this will be kept for a while, as an additional step to prevent the preserve drying out I put insulation tape around the lid to keep out air and moisture.

I melt candlewax by the waterbath method, wax in a glass jar, placed in a small pan of hot water on the heat.  I keep a screwtopjar especially for the wax then it is to hand and no fuss.

When I came to make the latest batch I was short on beetroot, so added diced apple. Any variety will do, but better one that keeps it shape when cooked.

This definitely improves on keeping!


Chutneys 1 Carrot and Garlic


This is a recipe that someone adapted from a Sophie Grigson recipe. Said to be the nearest to the M&S carrot chutney they could get..and I can concur!

1.8 kg carrots, grated.       110g fresh ginger, finely chopped.  1 litre cider vinegar.

8 dried chillies (I have used fresh too).   2 tbsp coarsely crushed coriander seeds.   4 cinnamon sticks.

2 star anise.   60 g coarse sea salt.  3 heads/bulbs garlic,  cloves separated and peeled.

500 ml water.   1.5 kg granulated sugar.

1. In a large bowl mix together Carrot, Ginger, Vinegar, Chillies, Spices and Salt.

2. Cover and set aside for 24 hours.

3. Pour into a preserving pan. Add Garlic and Water.

4. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

5. Stir in Sugar, bring back to the boil, boil hard for 45 minutes, until thick and jammy.

6. Take off heat, ladle at once into HOT jars with lids.

  I use waxed paper discs straight on the chutney,  making sure they are against the jar neck, then add a good teaspoon of melted candlewax, making sure that covers the join between paper and jar. Then add the screwtop lids.

Like any chutney, best matured for two or three weeks minimum.

Also like any chutney, change the ingredients to suit your taste!


Wednesday, 24 March 2021


 I haven't forgotten!

I will post some chutney recipes later....

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Just ticking along

 Nothing much happening, housework, a bit of repotting cuttings, wishing for some more pleasant weather....

We had a nice walk later on Saturday...

And I thought to try a different way of getting fine lines...just a fish from above...

I have cockerel and hen drawings to try....may be better...

We have been cleaning more bike bits too...they are pretty..

That is 1980s Italian design, and I have been working on some nice Japanese things too....

The research has taken quite a time, but it is interesting history. I don't think all of those who are buying these appreciate that, but at least some do!

Saturday, 20 March 2021

Spring begins

 We have just had a couple of springlike days, pleasant sun but chilly winds, and have arrived at the Equinox with...chill fog! It is gradually lifting, but isn't very inviting!!

Plenty of cuttings look as if they have survived..and so have foxgoves and red Lupins come through the winter in the polytunnel...just! Thanks Steve for the seeds...I will be sowing more lupin seeds, I didn't use them all..the pink ones didn't survive, so I'll try again.

I am feeling unenthusiastic about getting on with anything this morning...but needs must!!

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

A quiet day

 Bike fettling...

Beetroot and apple winterspice chutney making....should have made more last autumn!

Tidy study table too..and slightly tidier shed.

The sun appeared through the clouds and in shelter it was good spring sunshine, but the wind was still bitterly cold.

Looking forward to the end of April when it may be ok to travel within most of Scotland...who knows when it will be ok to travel further south as the stats are not as good as here.