Monday, 1 November 2010


Fettled coat with added pocket detail
It has been a fettling week this week. For the unenlightened among you who haven't a clue what I am going on about, the word fettle is a great word that cannot be found in the Cambridge online dictionary, well not my use of the word, but can be found in the Collins English dictionary apparently and is a dialect word which means to repair and mend something. Mind you that doesn't encompass the full meaning of the word to fettle, as it suggests a tinkering about to get something mended, a make do and mend type approach rather than a straightforward technical fix. And what do I mean by that? 

Well fettle number 1. Our combination microwave has been getting a little temperamental and getting it to start was getting harder and harder. We took it apart, and I do mean "we", a joint effort as it was going to take two of us to remember how to put it back together. In fact it took two of us to work out how to take the thing apart in the first place. Anyway on examination we decided that the switch mechanism was perhaps a bit worn and so the buttons weren't able to make contact, so technical fix - two layers of cardboard, expertly cut by me from an alpen cereal packet. Sorted! Well it works better than before. 

Can't see the tear at all now
Fettle number 2. Ian was given a coat by our son and within a week of wearing it had managed to tear the pocket. Tearing the pocket of itself wasn't so much of a hassle and sewing that up invisibly was not a problem but the torn fabric at the top was rather harder to manage without the repair shouting that it was just that, a repair. Hunting around in my stash of haberdashery bits and bobs (sewing stuff for the youngsters) I found some small lengths of ribbon, the sort I suspect are for sewing into coats to hang them up with. Why exactly I should have small lengths of ribbon to hang up coats with I am not sure as I have inherited many a strange item from grandmother's and aunts, anyway it was very useful to sew over the tear and one on the other pocket to match and now it looks like a pocket detail. Well at least I hope so, you will have to look at the picture to see what you think.

It can only be a Swede who would add
blue and yellow stripes (see the Swedish
flag to know why). Like the look though
Fettle number 3. My dishwasher was also getting temperamental and seemed to only work intermittently. This type of fix though required a different set of skills to get it going again and sharp words of a technical origin such as "I'm not cooking anymore until this washing up gets done" seemed to work wonders. Dishwasher fixed! Only joking about the sharp words though, we did have a little banter over the fact the dishwasher didn't seem to be working well at the moment and suggesting it would be advantageous to get it fixed, pronto. And just in case your confused, my dishwasher is Ian.

Fettle number 4. This was in part a fettle as there has been a lot of creative thinking gone into finishing off some work in our other apartment by our Swedish friend. He has managed to use an ordinary door to make a sliding door, he has built in a box with a magnetic access for pipes and meter reading. He used some wood he had lying around for some bits of a partition wall, painted some funky stripes on the wall because he didn't like the blue I said to use, and managed to fit a bath and sink into a small space without being too cramped. In short he has done a marvellous job, even if it has taken rather longer than he had hoped. There are still little finishing off jobs to do but nothing that Ian can't handle on a rainy day. 

Not much room but you can just see
the sliding door, now just needs some
I have been reminded this week of a story from a long time ago when Ian and I were young with two young children and we had just moved house. We had borrowed a little more money so that we could buy a car when we moved out to rural Derbyshire as it was going to be a long commute for Ian otherwise and we would have been a bit stranded as public transport was not too good and went the wrong way for where Ian went to work. We were stretched to the limit and it was a little scary. We used a little money leftover to spend on a holiday though and we went up to a B&B in North Yorkshire, our first holiday not spent at parents. The reality of the big step we had taken loomed large over our holiday and spending money on treats was not really something we could freely do but we made the best of it and the B&B owners were lovely and helpful considering we had two little ones with us at the time, who were about 2 1/2 and one years old. One day we came back from a trip into one of the local market towns and there on the windscreen of our car was a cucumber. Of all the things to be left on our car! It made us laugh but it also made us realise that God was with us and would provide for us in some surprising ways and that is a promise that God has kept all through the years. Some of God's provisions have indeed been as unconventional as a cucumber left on a car in a random car park, but provided he has, and he has never let us down.

The new stove works a treat and looks
good against the newly plastered and
painted walls. The flooring was an
inspired choice as it looks so good with
the kitchen. Proper chuffed we are!
So why was I reminded of that this week? Well it is a little scary living on savings with no income in your 40's with no prospect of a pension in the foreseeable future. With a house in the UK on the market since late last year and getting to the stage where I really feel we need to let it go whatever the price and cut our financial ties with England, things get scarier still. I emailed the agent and told him to reduce the price again and re-advertise but if it didn't go then it was to be sold to investors at a big loss. Mind you the loss in reality is only a loss of what might have been, rather than a loss where we have to find money to cover it, as there is no mortgage on the house. The next day after the email went, Ian returned home after collecting the tractor from neighbours, where it had spent its holiday, with a big block of cheese. We have money in the bank, and we are not about to run short just yet, but that doesn't matter to God, he is in charge, and whether we have a lot or a little he will provide in his own way. I had to laugh as  that cucumber suddenly sprung to mind and now I can rest easy knowing that even when the leaders of countries do not really have a clue  on what will stabilise economies or what is good for a nation and where the recklessness of banks can bring countries to their knees, I know that God will provide, in surprising ways!

Looking the other way. Needs a new
cooker and once it was tidy it
looked very smart.
After the wedding the other week and the epic trip back from Europe I hit the deck running when we got  back home as I had one week to get my head around an assignment and get it posted. I managed it and even enjoyed getting the pieces together on wild boar management and reading around all the papers written about the damage that they do. I did find though that very little has been written from the farmers perspective. So much investigated and hours spent researching and only about three reports asked the farmers what they did or what they felt about the situation. Robert Chambers back in 1983 said:-

Rural people’s knowledge and modern scientific knowledge are complementary in their strengths and weaknesses. Combined they may achieve what neither would alone. For such combinations, outsider professionals have to step down off their pedestals, and sit down, listen and learn.

Well hopefully if my assignment is on track then this is precisely what I hope to do next year, sit down and listen to the farmers and what they think about the wild boar damage, how they cope, how they feel it is being tackled or not, what they think should be done, what they feel they can do. 

When I mentioned my assignment on facebook recently a friend replied "i'll get the kettle on. your life seems to be one extreme or another - locked in writing about agriculture, or battling mud, or food mountains :-)" and I think that kind of sums me up at the moment because this weekend after finishing my assignment I got around to pulling up pepper plants that were suffering from cold which meant I had a box full of peppers to dry. Also the apples in our cellar were looking like they needed attention as they wouldn't last forever and so I have tackled a box full of apples as well. I have steamed some with rowan berries to make rowan berry and apple jam and jelly, others are boiled to make apple sauce, others earmarked for apple and chilli jelly and yet others for an apple crumble.

So there it is, food strainer all set up and ready to go. You
can also see the other range of gadgets I have, a steamer
for steaming fruits and getting juice from them and a
dehydrator. All valuable helps in processing our food
I was looking for clues on what to do with apple sauce on the internet and looking through their suggestions of how to sieve the apples once they are boiled up when I noticed that they used an attachment for a kitchen aid. On close inspection I realised that I actually had one of those. I couldn't ever remember their being a bit which pureed food which is why when I was in England I had been looking for a mouli to puree food, as it would be a lot simpler than using a sieve and easier on the wrist. Digging through my bookshelf with all the booklets from all the bits and bobs I have in the kitchen I spotted a booklet for a food strainer. Voila! So with booklet in one hand and various kitchen aid bits I proceeded to put the strainer together. It was one of those moments both of elation at finding something that would make life simpler and the realisation that the aching wrists I had suffered the last time I made rowan berry jam was completely unnecessary. Doh! To quote a certain cartoon character.


  1. My, you have been in a right fettle! And the coat looks great with its designer details. I know what you mean about the haberdashery bits and bobs - I'm the same and don't want to throw anything away - just in case. Who knows one day I might need them!

    I had to laugh at the dishwasher incedent. I was imagining you talking to a machine when you explained that the dishwasher was called Ian!

    I love the cucumber incident and how God gently reminds us of past experiences to encourage for the future. Isn't He just great!

    Interesting post, as usual and btw, the kitchen looks great.

  2. We are really bad as hoarders which makes moving a nightmare and a traumatic experience. We have to stand over each other and say "why do you need that?".

    I must admit to publishing the post first of all without Ian's name on it until he pointed out that perhaps people would not understand I was talking about him. So he was right. Phew!

    I love the way God reminds us too, he has such a great sense of humour.

    Glad you like the kitchen. As it had been chosen by someone else we were wondering if it would be something we would choose ourselves and decided that we liked it anyway, especially with the new floor and new stove, it all works so well together.


I love to hear your comments and will always reply, so go ahead, ask a question or just say hi