So, What’s Been Happening with you, with us?

After a short while away from my diary posts, today I find myself back on worldpress with a little catchup to be done!

The first Autumnal blush of our Canadian Oak

So sorry if I haven’t reached all of your blogs out there on my feed, I have missed so much of your writings and on a personal level, I have also missed many of you fellow bloggers. This is a writing community after all! Where ever we reside on this planet, we have our mutual blogs, opinions, histories and hobbies that we share with one another! And that is a great thing.

It is true that I have in some way defected to Instagram, a more visual media and that I enjoy. But I have missed hearing all of your opinions and day to day experiences! That is what blogging excels in, isn’t it’

So what’s been going on with us?

Vine leaf releasing its red pigment before its decay

Over the last weeks we have enjoyed the last of the Autumn sun and indeed the first of the Autumnal rains. We have also had a massive declutter around the house! The children are presently enjoying a lunch of peanut butter and damson jam sandwiches and black currant squash. All shouting around the table as I have left them to their own devices whilst I finish this post!

They got a bit too rowdy, so I had to stop writing and come back to this! Haha, they can self manage well at this age, if they want to that is! A chasm away from the screamy threes and fours! However they all still have their moments of course! Especially at bedtime…

Last weekend saw the annual grape vine harvested and juiced. Now bottled and frozen for making ‘Dadda’s Jam’ or rather jelly at a later date. Daddy also pruned it back along with the yew hedge.

Last of the grape juicing post roast dinner

All of the children are back into the rhythm of school now. And Johns two days a week at the office has demised to but one, given government advice on a return to work from home! Troubled time ahead I fear, but I will do my best to keep upbeat for you. It doesn’t pay to dwell on the negatives, especially to perpetuate them, does it?

An exotic fruit salad was made up from fresh pineapple, kiwi fruit and mango. Just the taste of mango always takes me back to my time spent during ‘Eighteen Moons’ in India, Nepal and indeed my time spent serving in the Thai Army a little while after Thor was born!

So, diary entry at an end! I promise to be a bit more regular. All the children send their love to all who may be reading this. As ever thank you for your time. I know we all lead busy lives.

Tara enjoying freshly picked grapes last weekend

Daddy and Dadda’s Dinner

Memories of Marrakesh
Chilli and rice with a Sriracha smothered fore rib.
We held off on Sunday Roast and went all Moroccan
Lamb Dhansak
Yet another Shrimp Noodle Tom Yum
Beef Massaman
Curried Chicken, Mutter and Chapatti
Moules Et Frits
Ham roast and fine beans with Dadda’s Apple Jelly

Hoping everyone is well and thank you for browsing my diary page. I have been a little absent of late! If you don’t already follow on Instagram, our page is http://www.instagram.com/mybigcrazyfamilylife

I’ve been spending a little too much time on there! Have a lovely day…

The Last Sunflower

Beautiful aren’t they? But it is only this year, upon the final wilting days of the children’s homegrown sunflowers, that I dared to take a closer look!

We tend to see the rays of petals and consider the plant as a whole to be the magnificent sunflower! We know that the inner disk is a nursery for seeds, but have you ever taken a really, really close look?

Once the petals have wilted, what are we left with? A thousand small flowers, those mass producers of nectar are in fact mini flowers at the base end of the seeds! Fascinating I thought!

I believe we should hang them upside down in the shed over the winter with a paper bag tied around them in order for the seeds to mature and fall!

Maybe a thousand seeds for the children to sow next springtime. The humble, yet majestic Sunflower…

Going Out

So I sit on the terrace, way past the children’s bedtime to take a moment’s breather! Nikki our babysitter arriving soon. The children are all still up and the Google smart speaker is blaring out Tammy Wynette’s D.I.V.O.R.C.E. (Hmmmh!) at John’s bequest!

Haven’t been out on a Saturday night in quite a long time. It’s just a meal out in a favourite restaurant in Woodspeen, oddly called ‘The Woodspeen’. Sadly not a club or rave! Lol, what did you imagine after seeing my choice of images!!!

Tara was rather insistent earlier that I teach her the mime motions of ‘being inside the box’! You know the one where the palms of your hands mime touching the invisible box sides! All now doing it to the song Jolene! Quite the sight.

Well it beats the 80’s robotics moves of earlier today to Soft Cell’s Tainted Love. They call it muscle memory, don’t they? And NO, there will be no video.

The hounds are now whining! Personally I don’t blame them as Islands in the stream has now come on. Oh dear – hurry up Nikki, hurry up…

Thank you for reading. Have a lovely day/evening!

Fungi Friend or Foe

Our return from holiday saw our lawn littered with various autumnal fungi. Yellow boletes were in abundance, one variety edible…

Another quite poisonous!

If a blue hue appears after cutting or breaking! Steer clear, not good to eat!

I ended up binning the lot sadly, I just couldn’t get John in on the idea that the edible ones might just taste nice!

All destined for the bin!

Though on the other hand I also found a good amount of field mushrooms in the orchard!

I enjoyed these fried in butter on a piece of sourdough toast!

John on the other hand went for the shop purchased chestnut mushrooms. Also very tasty however.

On the subject of foraging still. My blackberry jelly that I made yesterday has set to perfection overnight. The recipe is certainly to follow!

Oh Dear Blackberry

Yesterday afternoon saw an 11th hour rush for the last of this year’s blackberry harvest. We all ventured down the driveway and into our small area of woodland to pick what was left of the crop in the hedgerows. I didn’t mind that many berries had already spoiled or been lost to the birds and insects as there were still many a kilogram deep frozen in the chest freezer from last year. Then I only made a small amount of jam, but this year I plan to make perhaps 14 x 320ml jars.

The kilo or so that we collected yesterday went into a large blackberry and apple crumble with apples collected from the orchard in the kitchen garden. We all enjoyed the crumble last night, warmed through with a good splosh of double cream. Enough left over for the children’s dessert tonight!

This morning I wrestled out the said frozen blackberries whilst defrosting the freezer and half have now been stewed and perhaps 50% of the pips removed. When it comes to jamming them with apple pulp and sugar later this week, I want a velvety texture with not too many pips! I am reminded that I haven’t done a jam recipe in a while, yet I have made a few jams of recent, however unreported as I believe I have covered the likes of damson and plum and Calvados in my writings already! However blackberry jam is pretty seasonal, so prepare for that in the next day or two!

Amritsar is home from school today due to feeling sick this morning. Tara shouted down this morning at 6am ‘Amritsar’s been sick Dadda, Amritsar’s been sick, Will she get the day off’? And yes indeed, she is at home today! We plan on scrumping for a few more apples a bit later before the others return home from school with Sindy.

Whilst defrosting the freezer, I noticed the sheer volume of frozen damsons this year! Our tree has been extremely bountiful! I am almost dreading the grape harvest next month as there is still a good amount of frozen grape juice frozen from last year too.

Ritzy is lying on one sofa playing with her iPad and I am lying on the other writing this diary entry, both dogs sprawling out beside me.

Lunch was a home made pea soup, very light, no potato to thicken and a piece of sourdough toast. Amritsar has been feeling much better since this morning, I think something light again for dinner and she should feel as right as rain for tomorrow’s classes.

Listening to Mozart’s ‘Eine kleine Nachtmusik’. Feeling relaxed, perhaps a bit sleepy even…

Hope you’re having a good Monday all.

Thank you for reading.

Baby Boxes of One Year Ago

Twelve months ago tomorrow we decided it was time to open up the stash of baby items that we had kept from all of the children’s ‘baby years’!

We had talked about putting together the ‘Baby Boxes’ for such a long time.

Items ranged from tiffin boxes purchased in Goa, India, to baby spoons, teething toys, pyjamas, swaddling, you name it, it was there.

If you want to smile, you might want to scroll back on my blog entries to 8th September 2019. The full length movie is around 10 minutes, but it is a real laugh. Thor excels in his unique comedy and Caleb insists that Aaliyah’s dress, a 1st birthday present is his!

But if your visit here is a fleeting one! Here is a very small snippet of what they got up to.

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Daddy and Dadda’s Dinner

I spent this morning making a vat of bolognese for the freezer and tomorrow’s lunch. Then I turned my attention to dehydrating our basil plant in the microwave and adding some of the herbs to a ratatouille made with this years home grown produce! You might remember earlier this spring that I flatly refused to grow tomatoes, peppers etc this year. But one of our neighbours gave us a few small plants that he had grown from seed, so I took on the liability of watering them these past summer months, alongside the various herb plants and sunflowers that had been sown by the children.

Well the work done, plants wilting, autumn ahoy and I had the entire ingredients for one pot of ratatouille. Of course I needed to add a couple of onions from the farmers market and half a tube of tomato purée, but voila, here we are, a meal to be had after all that time and effort!!!

A couple of other meals from this last week added to this post. The ratatouille is to be enjoyed tonight by daddy and dadda, so a few preparation pictures were taken, including the children’s share that was just enjoyed with burgers in brioche. Caleb threw ratatouille on Aaliyah’s lap. She had been very happy having just dressed into her pyjamas early, massive screams were enjoyed throughout their meal…

Even though I have a dehydrator, I find that the microwave is best for drying fresh herbs. On this plastic plate is the entire plant of basil leaves that were starting to go a bit yellow and the stems were going woody!

Buzz for one minute intervals and massage with hand to let steam escape! When you think the leaves are dry enough, scrunch to dust and pass through a sieve to remove any remaining stalks.

30 minutes cooking time to reduce the sauce.

Place in a storage container or serve immediately,

Daddy and Dadda are having theirs this evening with salmon and fine beans!

Last night was chicken legs, mashed potatoes and loosely scattered petit pois, with a reduction of the degreased, seasoned chicken juices (and a little water) simply poured over the potatoes! Yummy.

Check out the new modern grey plates! Aren’t we posh! A bit of a Thai theme in this week’s menu. Tod Mun Pla (fish cakes) served with rice and sweet chilli sauce. And notice the basmati rice is shaped the same as the mashed potato in the previous picture! Simply done by using one of the children’s bowls from the previous picture to that. Just wet the inside of the bowl a little, pile in your potato or rice, compact down with a spoon and tip quickly in the centre of your plate. Dress your ingredients and sauce around the sides as you please!

The Chives were picked from the garden to adorn Giant Shrimp and noodle Tom Yum. One of my favourite dishes of all time. Bliss

That’s it for now. Have a lovely weekend all.

Back to School

Wednesday of this week saw the return to school by all five children. Tara and Amritsar have missed their school friends so very much over these last six months of lockdown.

At least one thing in our daily lives has returned to some kind of normal. Although, as you know, the new normal does not resemble the old normal at all. I fear that the fear of this virus will be with us for sometime to come.

Feeling Settled Now

The holiday over and a couple of days relaxing at home! Summer Bank holiday Monday here, not much going on! All playing with their screens or watching ‘Mr Magoo’! Daddy mowing his lawn, the dogs chilling beside me.

Another 10kg of Damsons brought in from our tree! I might just make some Damson jam later, perhaps tomorrow morning! Just the thought of de-stoning 1000 Damsons, not appealing!

A mountain of washing sat in the kitchen and lunch to prepare! How does homemade pea soup and a toasted cheese sandwich sound?

Still spending way too much time on Instagram! But still happy with my blog! ‘Another day in the life of’ still brings a smile to me as I hope it does to you.

On the subject of Instagram, a few more pictures to share from our Cornish holiday, hope you like them.

As ever thanks for reading…

Day 6, The Final Day!

Well, we just met local friends, David, Jo, Tara and hubby! The wetsuits are whirring away in the washing machine. Daddy has left, now 30 minutes, to buy the obligatory ‘fish and chips’, something a holiday is not fulfilled without!

Not a lot to say really, only that I appreciate your being there! You, the best people ever, the lovely ones that follow my blog! You are pretty wonderful people xx

Some random images to follow, including the fish and chips!

Caleb seems to be a little aloof!!!

Day 5, Luncheon with Friends

Good friends Bridget and Des called in for lunch with their children Malky and River. They were visiting from their holiday home in Looe, south Cornwall. We enjoyed their company at Golithia Falls on Bodmin moor on Tuesday.

Their golden Labrador Luna stayed at home with Bridget’s parents Malcolm and Jenifer! I like Bridget’s father Malcolm a lot! He is a Methodist Minister and used to be the Chaplin to the UK’s Houses of Parliament!

A very wise man and fun to boot! Not being particularly religious, I’m a bit more of a tree hugging pagan I guess. This does not mean that I do not regard and respect other people’s religion or beliefs.

So, I know I did ‘Daddy and Dadda’s Dinner’ yesterday, but I would like to add today’s lunch as picture of the day! Salmon, Shrimp, langostine, new potatoes, zucchini and samfire was enjoyed by us grownups and the children enjoyed spaghetti with 3 hour simmered bolognese with a snowstorm of parmesan.

After lunch an hour was enjoyed in the surf with the bodyboards. I remained at the holiday house and enjoyed an hours respite. Daddy then went off to do a lengthy zoom call with a client and we all said our goodbyes at 4pm.

Tomorrow being our last full day, I imagine one final frolic on the beach whatever the weather!

Pretty grey out there today, but an enjoyable day none the less. This picture taken in a fleeting moment of blue sky.

Aaliyah presently screaming as they debate where each of them are sleeping tonight…

Spaghetti Puttanesca for Daddy and Dadda’s Dinner. A break from fish! Lol

Hope you are having a good time wherever you are and my thanks as ever for taking the time to read my blog, diaryofagaydad.net

Oh Amritsar and Thor have adopted a rather large snail called ‘Biggy’ that they found in the garden this afternoon. Don’t worry, I made them all wash their hands before they ate this evening!

Even a little snail garden was created! Hehe…

Day 4, Daddy and Dadda’s Dinner

A very fish based menu this week! Being on the seashore this week has been very inspiring!

Sea Bass with roasted Jersey a royals and sugar snap peas

Crab cakes with lobster tail, spinach and fries

Simple skewered shrimp

Sautéed potatoes with plaice, muscles and samfire