Saturday, 27 September 2014

The downfall of having grape vines.

It's grape harvest time in the cottage garden, this year and we have had a bumper crop.  So what on earth happens to all the grapes other than make wine ?
Making wine does sound a good idea.

Grape jelly, grape juice, grape sauce, grape ice cream, champagne, grape oil used in cosmetics. How on earth can I use the grapes in cosmetics ? 
Haven't a clue, but there it is on the net, so someone has used them. 
I suppose we can always eat the grapes just as they are. Okay for the black variety, but the green one's tend to make you screw your eye's up a bit.

Our kitchen wine rack it has to say is rather empty of wine bottles. It's filled with coffee jars because I might need them, a tin bus that had toffee's in it one Christmas time and not forgetting the egg coddler. That never gets used, but it's pretty.
Then there are the famous pair of salt and pepper mice, that for some mysterious reason, went walk about and disappeared after our youngest Grandaughter Marley Wynn made a visit during the Summer.  They made an appearance eventually and turned up again when Freya was having a massive clear out of her toy box.

Toy box clear outs don't happen often. Freya is always down on the beach, the love of her life to dig as many holes as she can before the tide comes back in. Toys are for rainy days.

How to make wine ? 
It doesn't sound so hard. Delving into the net again, I found some basic instructions.
The following is a list of essential equipment to make 30 bottles of wine.

Will our wine rack take 30 bottles ?

The list of equipment.
30 Litre bucket with lid, grommet and amp. Airlock
25 Litre Fermenter with Large Cap. Bung and amp. Airlock
Large Auto siphon (for 25 litre buckets'fermenters)
Hydrometer with Case
Steriliser 100g

I'm lost already and no one has even mentioned grapes yet.

What do I do?

The two most important aspects of making wine are Cleanliness and Temperature. Firstly remember everything that comes into contact with the wine should be cleaned and sterilised. Secondly maintain a constant temperature between 21-26°C (69-79°F). It is much better to be on the cool side and constant than hot one minute and cold the next. Airing cupboards are definitely no, no's.

Steps to making a good wine (follow the instructions!)

  1. Clean and sterilise all equipment.
  2. Add the concentrate and water to the sterilised fermenter/bucket.
  3. Add the yeast sachet and leave to ferment watching the temperature. The yeast will turn the grape juice (and sugar) into alcohol. Carbon dioxide is given off while this is happening and you will see bubbles coming through your airlock.
  4. Once fermentation has been completed the wine is stabilised (to prevent any re-fermentations) and finings are added (to clear the wine).
  5. The wine can then be siphoned off the sediment and transferred into bottles.
  6. The bottles need to be either "corked" (there are several corking devices available) or sealed with plastic stoppers (not very good if keeping wine more than 6 weeks). Shrink tops and labels can then be added.
  7. Leave the wine if you can to mature and enjoy it!
The last wine we made was years ago, there were bottles and corks and stuff bubbling up all around the house. It never was left to mature. At least the few surviving bottles that never exploded were okay.  Dandylion wine, we never had grapevines at that time.

Grape jelly sounded a sure bet.  Better than dealing with exploding bottles and messing around with buckets, besides, it sounded a whole lot quicker.
Bowls of grapes, washed and then the grim task of snail removal.

This took time, removing stalks and something floating around that didn't look like a grape.
The odd snail popping it's head up from the kitchen sink after nearly escaping down the plug hole.
Battering the hell out of the grapes to remove the juice. I'm sure that should have been crushing, but I battered the little blighters, grapes not snails I have to add. Time was ticking and I had other things to do than play around with grapes. 

So what I want to know is, what happens to all the snails that can be found on other people's grape vines ?
Do they mingle in with the wine ?
There are some strange thoughts that go through your head when crushing grapes. 

Any normal person would have suspended the crushed/battered to bits grapes and left then standing overnight in a muslin bag so that the juice found it's way out.  I haven't got time for that. 

After all the sorting, bashing, straining grape juice, boiling it to a sugary pulp, the final result.
Two jars of something that should resemble grape jelly (or not). Two and a bit small bottles of grape juice. Lots of bashed to bits grapes that have now all gone into the garden compost heap.
The grape juice is in the fridge if anyone is interested in trying it. The jars now reside at the bottom of a cool cupboard. Next year what happens to all the grapes at harvest time ?

Anyone who wants to help themselves to our grape harvest is more than welcome. 
Making grape jelly really isn't my thing. 
It must be on par with Area 51.
Below the sign that can now be seen along the road going into the nearby town of Totnes.

 Freya is over at Cat Flap Cavalier as usual.

 See you all very soon. :-) x x x

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Morwellham Quay, Devon.

One of us in the cottage has a birthday this week.
We normally spend the Soggibottom carpenter's special day on a day out. This year the weather forecast for the 20th of September gives rain. On a whim we decided if we were going out for the day, we may as well go when it was dry, even if the trip out was a few days early.
We didn't feel the need to drive far this year so decided on a trip to Morwellham Quay, Devon side of the river Tamar.

Morwellham Quay is a living history museum. A place we were going to take our grandson Jake on his visit to Soggibottom during the school holidays, as usual time ran away with us. A week isn't long enough to finish the "to do" list.

Morwellham lies in a secluded valley beside the river Tamar. To know more about the history I would have to spend more time and read more of the signs and displays on show. Read more books about the place. A few hours really isn't long enough to know the real history, so best I give you a link to MORWELLHAM QUAY. That way I won't get my facts wrong.

I can show you some of our own photo's.

There are mines all around Devon and Cornwall. Tin mines and copper mines. Morwellham is a copper mine. The miners at Morwellham even diversified at the end of the mines life and brought up Arseno pyrite.

After the pyrite had been through a few processes it was refined to what you and I would know as Arsenic.

The display of part of the chemistry lab.
We enjoyed poking around, okay I should have said meandering. Kids are back at school and it was a quiet day at Morwellham, we poked around, enjoyed getting into every nook and cranny.

Before you ask, no, Soggibottom does not have dust like this under the beds or a chamber pot.
I have to go back to mend the tear in that beautiful bedspread, also clean all the cottage windows, anyone want to give me a hand about the dust ?
I'm sure it's been a busy Summer this year. There have been other things to do apart from dust.
The people who lived here would have been hard at work most of the day, not worrying about dust. Everyone worked. Kids, women and never a great place to be working down a mine. The whole place was covered in dust from the work that went on here.

There are some really good displays around the museum.

In the village shop, maybe you should blow the dust off before you take a bite from the sugar mice.

Think twice about going to the bathroom.  Someone has a rat or mouse problem.

The Victorian Farm T.V programe was filmed at this very spot,  they then followed it up by an Edwardian Farm. I can't imagine what it must have been like to film and keep visitors through the doors here at the same time.


Morewellham also has lovely people who dress in costume and really know their history and enjoy passing on their knowledge.

Morwellham on a quiet day was perfect for us, and perfect for Freya as it gave her the chance to go places she should never have been.

Climbing on the displays is a no, no.
That's our beloved Cavalier, she is fearless, she even went down the copper mine and never batted an eye or in Freya's case an ear.
It has to be mentioned, she did take a great interest in the cake display at Ruth's cottage.

Fearless Freya can be found over at her blog Cat Flap Cavalier. 

She really didn't touch the display, after her five week diet from tubby dog to sleek noble lady, she probably would have gobbled up given half the chance. I can see her mouth watering.  

Freya, Norse for noble lady, or as she is sometimes known around Soggibottom cottage, Freya the red, Freya the greedy, Freya the brave, Freya the fearless. Freya the mutt, Freya our shadow, Freya our beloved dog.

We took far too many photo's for one post, so see you soon.
Unless you are already bored and have started to yawn. :-) x x x

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

A dog's life when your dog is over weight.

All those that follow Freya Rose Blossom on her CAT FLAP CAVALIER blog know Freya has been on a diet over the last month. At three years old her yearly check up's are something she attends and never misses. Ears, eyes.paws, HEART, joints, jabs and weigh in.
The weighing scales at our vets groaned as she clambered onto them last month. 12 kilo's was far to heavy for a Cavalier.  It's so easy to allow your dog to put on extra pounds. The hardest thing is trying to shed them again. There was no excusing her tubby tum because she looks fluffy with her Cavalier coat.

Explaining to the vet exactly what she ate during the day, all went well until we mentioned dental health teeth cleaning chews. The vet rolled his eye's, we held our breath wondering where we had gone wrong. After a good shake of his head and a tut, tut, we both came to the same conclusion that for Freya at least they are a big no, no.

The vet reinforced his view that giving her one dental chew was like feeding our beloved dog a MARS BAR every day. 

Even when cut up into quarters it's believed they are one of the culprits of her tubby issues. The other culprit/s, non other than ourselves for over feeding her with the occasional cheese snack and lick of ice cream. Not that there is anything drastically wrong with that I agree, but when your dog is starting to look very barrel like you realize it's time to act. Kindness by over feeding can kill.

Another of Freya's downfalls is her fondness for cat food. She can be a sneak thief if left to her own devices anywhere near the sniff of the cat food dish.
Over the last month cat food has been another big no, no.  She's quick, but we have been quicker to remove an unguarded cat food dish. Okay, I admit, twice we forgot, and true to form Freya snaffled every tasty morsel. We aren't just on about tinned or pouched cat food and cat cookies, Frankie de tabby lives high off the hog as any old 19 year old cat should, with roast chicken and poached fish. A fussy 19 year old cat is hard to please so as long as he eats it, he can have what he wants. Freya had a great time and snacked all day when no was one looking.

The month of a new feeding regime has worked. NO CAT FOOD, NO SUGAR FILLED DENTAL TEETH CLEANING CHEWS. Her daily allowance of Dr Wellbeloved light kibble is always weighed. No, I don't mean to advertize, but that is what she now eats. Any titbits she has during the day now come from her daily allowance of weighed kibble. 

We haven't been that mean that she has gone without her usual SMALL bone shaped cookies at night before she goes to bed.
One month on from her vet check up, she is lean and lighter and reached her target weight of 11 kilo's. So far, so good. Now to keep up the good work.

Freya can be found over at The CAT FLAP CAVALIER.

Meya, one of Freya's village doggie friends can be found wearing her new knitted Soggibottom sweater on her walks around the local park.You can find the pattern a few posts back on Soggibottom.
See you all very soon :-) X X X

Monday, 1 September 2014

Love at first sight.

There is something about meeting a new granddaughter for the very first time.
Marley Wynn is nearly two years old, her first visit to Soggibottom Cottage where she made a bee line straight to my very own childhood panda bear.
With all the teddy bears that lay around especially for her in the cottage that day, it was either saying something about my bear making that she ignored all the other bears or maybe like me she fell in love with Tubs at first sight.

It's been a beautiful Summer with a flurry of visitors. The long awaited visit of our new granddaughter and new daughter in law arrived. 

The shame is, long awaited visits never seem to last as long as you would wish. Four days flew by so quickly before Marley Wynn, her mum and dad were off again to explore Europe before flying back to Cambodia.

 We had a day of grace before our grandson Jake arrived at the cottage.

Soon followed by our daughter Karina.

There were boat rides and beach days.

A full fun Summer of places to see and photo's to take.

Kites to fly. 

A new bear to make. Here she is sitting in our cottage garden. It's been a busy Summer, but one that's been memorable.

Many thanks to Christine Sterling and her beloved beautiful horse Baron for sending the new and updated photo's of Christine's Soggibottom Bear.

I'm pleased the bear took her hat when she left Soggibottom cottage. I'm more than pleased she arrived safely in Arizona. You can find Christine and her dogs, Monty and Harlow just HERE

Our very own Miss Mutt, Freya Rose Blossom has been making herself busy over the Summer, unlike me she has been a constant blogger over the Summer months.
You can find Freya over at  CAT FLAP CAVALIER.

We have again settled back into our own world of long beach visits, Freya Rose Blossom walks and spoiling Frankie de tabby. 

I have been severely reprimanded for not blogging during the Summer on Soggibottom. Now hopefully things are back to normal.