Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Close Encounters of a Badger and Cat Variety

If you have read other parts of our blog you will know of the regular badger exploits in our front garden. Some of these involve a cat we now refer to as Badger Cat due to its habit of hanging out with our black and white visitors.

The first time I encountered the two together was back in November 2012 and ever since then there has been quite a few meetings.  However, none have been quite as close as last night!


Sunday, 20 July 2014

Easy Summer Breakfast

It was hot, hot, hot when we first got up this morning and we wanted something light, nutritious and tasty for breakfast so we broke open some Sojade plain yoghurt (no added sugar in this one).  To this we added a sliced banana, some raisins, a handful of cashews and a splosh of maple syrup. What a delight! There was a creaminess, a crunch and chew, with the hint of naughty sweetness balancing the fruity blast of the banana.  

Really should have this more often!

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Holiday Season - Here We Go!

I just dropped down to the village shop for little bit of shopping and also to drop off some more of my landscape photo cards that they kindly sell for me.  It was busy and a chat with Emma, whilst she was putting my shopping through the till, confirmed that indeed today was kick off for holiday season.  The schools had broken up and Cornwall is about to have its population increased by around 60% until the holiday makers hand it back in September.  It has its down sides for sure but I never forget that the fact that people choose to come down here on holiday is because we are fortunate enough to live in an amazing place.  You can't blame them for wanting a piece of that and they are normally so happy about it which helps balance out the bad bits mostly.  The other advantage is that they buy my cards (the one above being a good seller) so you won't hear me complain too much!

For more of my landscapes of Cornwall (and other lovely places), please check out Travelling Light.

Making It Up As It Grows Along

The focus in the Driftwood household has definitely shifted from the kitchen to the garden (sorry about that but recipes and kitchen antics will resume shortly!).  In this beautiful warm weather, with the odd sprinkling of warm rain, things are really taking off.  

Phil has just dug up more potatoes.  Being out in the front garden, it seems the potatoes have survived and thrived despite a lack of regular watering and a few diggings up by our black and white friends.  

Meanwhile things in the back garden have been taking things into their own hands.  Our olive tree has acquired three new friends in its pot; a lettuce, a tomato and a Californian poppy. None of these were planted by us in this position but we feel no inclination to remove them as all seem happy just to do their own thing.  We will just wait to see what the lettuce and tomato produce and take it from there.

Meanwhile the Californian poppies spread themselves around other parts of the garden too.  I did seed them a few years ago but now they just pop up wherever they like.  I don't mind too much as they remind me of driving along the highways in CA where they seem to just grow like weeds on the verges. They also have the colour of the Dalai Lama's robe and that is a colour that always puts a smile on my face.  

A big patch of them has seeded on the edge of the carrot bed.  I had planted some red flowers (don't ask me what they are as I really am not very good at flowers!) around the bed because I had heard a theory about if you plant red or pink flowers it puts off cabbage white butterflies.  Other colours, including unfortunately orange, attract them so bang goes the chance of trying that theory out for sure as the poppies are now shouting out in big orange words to come take a look.  I'm not convinced it was working anyway to be fair as the wings of the munching caterpillar breeders have been flitting around for awhile before the poppies were flowering.  I think I will just have to rely on my homemade chilli spray to put them off our kale now.

Wild rocket was originally seeded by us in the first few years of living in our house and now it just moves itself around the garden as it pleases.  As ever, we really don't mind as long as the companion it chooses doesn't either.  This year it has chosen to snuggle up with our blueberry.  We may harvest some of it soon just to give the blueberry a little more breathing space but in the meantime we are waiting to see where else it will just pop up.

Our blackcurrant is, as ever, loaded with shiny black plump offerings.  Even the resident blackbird is welcome to its fair share of the glut as there is still more than enough left for us. This year the purple clematis on our wall has decided to help with holding up the blackcurrant branches from drooping to the ground with the weight of fruit.  It seems that the two like hanging out with each other more and more and there is no doubt that they are a handsome couple.

Ironically I spend some time over the winter months carefully planning the garden for the coming year.  It is a bit of a treat for me to sit in front of the open fire with a glass of wine perusing catalogues and drawing up plans.  There is however no accounting for what the garden will just make up as it grows along.  I won't give up my efforts to plan it but I do accept that nature pretty much does what it likes anyway and always does a much better job of it.  That is the best part of watching the garden grow really (although the wine aided planning in the winter is good too!).

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Cats or Badgers?

For the fourth day in a row I look out the front window to see our poor brussel sprout plants uprooted again. 
A quick dash for the trowel and out into the front garden, scattering the assembled early morning gangs of pigeons and jackdaws in the process, had them soon replanted before I had to then head off for work.  I found no evidence of cat poo so perhaps our ex-fishing net fencing is no longer keeping the badger bandits away from the crops.  Further investigation with a trail camera may be required if we have any hope of our own brussel sprouts for Christmas dinner!

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Rebel Kitchen Mylk


We found this Matcha Green Tea Mylk from Rebel Kitchen recently on a trip to Somerset. Hmmmmmmm!  Super tasty, wholesome and simple with just four ingredients (water, coconut milk, date nectar and matcha green tea powder).  Sadly we didn't find the Chai flavour and even worse, we've not seen these down our neck of the woods at all (although a search on their website has revealed that Ethica health food store in Plymouth may be our nearest source - a mere 50 miles away!). Thankfully you can also buy on-line so check Rebel Kitchen and join their rebellion. 

Friday, 11 July 2014

I'm Going Vegan

Eating by Mike Anderson

This quote says it all.  We are going to search out the DVD and take a look.  This is the first time I have ever thought of how animals are actually acting a revenge on humankind for all its non vegan stupidity.  It is not the first time I have thought about how stupid humans are however. That kind of goes without saying.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Driftwood Gardening

Gardening containers come in many shapes and sizes.  Far too many people however rely on garden centres for their supply of such containers and at quite a cost too; to both their pockets and the environment.

Apart from the odd expense of a large ceramic pot for our treasured, large and aged plants (such as our olive tree), here in the Driftwood garden we like to take a different approach to container gardening.  

We don't have a huge expanse of open ground to grow our produce in so we do need to be inventive with both space and money. We do use grow bags in a conventional way for our tomatoes but we also use them on their sides to grow beans and upright as strawberry 'towers' on the paved area outside the boundaries of our garden. This not only allows us to grow more produce but 'greens up' an otherwise grey area and perhaps even encourages others to do the same. In fact this very week our neighbour has put a container of plants outside his own gate.  We may lose the odd strawberry here and there to birds and local kids but it is still valuable space that we otherwise would not have had.  

The great thing about grow bags is that if you need to buy compost anyway (our compost bin has its limits) then a grow bag is a ready made container too.  Just prop it upright, cut off the top, fold the plastic down and plant.  Cut one in half for two smaller containers.  After all, what were you going to do with the empty bag anyway?  It is kind of weird that people buy bags of compost and then empty the contents into expensive containers before chucking the bag away.  

Old plastic tubes/drainage pipes make good strawberry towers too. Stand one upright, cut holes at intervals along its length and plant up.  I stole the one in the photo from my dad who uses these to great effect with his strawberries.

The beach seems an unlikely source of gardening supplies but has indeed provided various assortment of useful items whilst we have either been just walking or having a bit of a clean up on it.  We have blogged before about using washed up fishing nets and seaweed in the garden but we have on occasions also found large containers on the shore.  One of the most useful was a large blue fishing crate that is now a permanent growing feature in our back garden. This year it is home to some Kale De Nero with an under planting of still growing lettuce seedlings.

Old wooden crates have also been useful for growing small amounts of lettuce leaves; kind of like a 'grow your own' veg box.  They do only last a season normally though but at least you get extra use out of them before they break down and end up in the compost bin.

Having read that slugs don't like climbing up tin cans I asked our lovely ladies in the catering department at work for any large ones.  I wouldn't advise this for slug prevention (it doesn't in fact work!) but as small free herb pots they are great.  They weather into a lovely rusty brown too.

There are people out there who are far more inventive and prolific in re-purposing items for garden containers.  I've seen wellington boots, sinks, tyres, teapots, hats and even toilets; to name but a few.  I think the name of the game is to just think outside the box.  Use the space you have to grow things 'to the max' and use what you have to hand. The answer doesn't always mean an expensive trip to the garden centre. 

Monday, 23 June 2014

Vegan Sushi

When we told omnivorous colleagues at work that we were going for vegan sushi, on several occasions the reaction was "how can you have sushi?  It's raw fish isn't it?".  Well it's not all about the raw fish you know, and besides that the definition of sushi is actually 'cooked vinegared rice' to which other items are then added; either fish, meat or (take note colleagues) vegetables.  So yes, sushi is most definitely on the vegan table, as it was on Thursday at Wildebeest vegan restaurant in Falmouth during one of their series of special vegan sushi nights. 

The popularity of this advance bookings only event was evidenced by the lack of spare seats with further confirmation given as each of the five courses were brought out in turn.  

There is no doubt that the lovely people at Wildebeest know their stuff when it comes to food and particularly sushi. Before opening Wildebeest, they ran a vegan sushi company in Brighton and we are delighted that they have abandoned the vegan-centric shores of Brighton for the less vegan saturated shores of Falmouth.

The £18 menu was kicked off with a deliciously umami miso soup complete with moreish morsels of pickled vegetables on the side.  Next up was a sesame tinged seaweed salad topped off with a homemade rice cracker. This went down far too quickly and easily but consolation came in the form of a bowl of beautifully seasoned edamame which occupied our now equally seasoned fingers as we shucked them one by one.  Then came the main event; an eclectic array of deliciously displayed  sushi offerings with not a fish in sight!  The only thing left on my cleaned plate after was the wasabi 'pea' which, after witnessing my 7 month pregnant mate H eat and then almost go into early labour, I decided to give this hot offering a miss!

As if things couldn't get any tastier, the final offering of the five courses was a stunning and delicate looking raw green matcha tea cheesecake.  I meant to take a photograph but by the time I realised I had pretty much destroyed it and was eyeing up the plates of Phil and our friends for any leftovers.

The food was great, the company was brilliant (it's always nice to be surrounded by like minded people) and it's great to not have to keep asking whether something is vegan (although we still have to keep reminding ourselves about this!). All in all, a great evening eating food that you don't normally have the opportunity to enjoy at a restaurant. 

Thanks also to the three lovely vegans who gave up their table to sit instead at the breakfast bar for the comfort of my mate H and her baby bump.

Do get along to Wildebeest and give the sushi night a go (I believe they will be running these on a monthly basis) because as Lee 'Scratch' Perry says "Japanese food, give you good mood"!