Weekly Blog No 101 – Vegetable Garden

This year, my goal was to do a vegetable garden. As I had the space down the bottom of garden, it was worth a shot. In February/March, I started to grow from seeds, tomatoes and brussels sprouts. In the meantime, I got Mr Zebrakat to start making raised wooden beds.

Everything I was attempting was a complete learning curve. I did the seeds in seed trays and watering the seeds was crucial. There was even an element of excitement when you see a sea of green coming through the soil. Little leaves started to protrude through and develop into a dainty like stem. Once I had seedlings I would transfer them into seed/cutting trays. Seeds definitely need a lot of attention and perseverance. Outdoor seeds seem less demanding. Now in seeing my crop of veggies, I think I would attempt seeds again but on a smaller scale as I will explain later.

I needed the wooden raised beds, therefore I got Mr Zebrakat to show me his carpentry skills. My request was wooden tubs with legs to reduce bending. Most of my raised were 4ft X 2ft. I painted the outside of the beds with a Ronseal paint. I filled the bed with a layer of gravel for drainage and to stop mould. Then a layer of organic compost and then a moisture control soil and I had read raised beds dry out quicker. That does appear to be the case, however we have had extreme heat wave days.

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Raised Vegetable Beds

I attempted to plant vegetable companions to avoid diseases etc. For example Brussels with tomatoes.  Potatoes with cauliflower. I brought cauliflower plants the only plant I didn’t grow from seed and caterpillars took revenge. The perfect yellow and black inserts were all over the back of the leaves. I was so disappointed, nevertheless it’s the only way to learn. Therefore, to eliminate the problem I removed them all. Goodbye cauliflower.

I then sow carrots from seed directly into the beds and are ready in 12 weeks. They are doing fine, however are being smothered by tomato plants.  Brussels are still growing and I’m learning they take a while. My early potatoes are taking shape in spite of picking some to early. My first crop of potatoes tasted wonderful.  I actually pulled the potatoes when the plant flowered, I have since you don’t pull them until the flower has died. Someone else told me to let them flower twice before gathering the next crop.  well today I have collected the remaining crop. I shall plant some more potatoes in the next couple of days.

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Potatoes

I actually over planted my tomatoes. It’s like a jungle of plants and restricting my walking around the beds. I have learned, I don’t need so many plants next time around and I will support the individual plants. Although my tomatoes are taking shape as you can see from the photos its definitely a lesson learned.

When spaces become vacant in the beds, I will plant some other vegetables. I would like to try courgettes, cabbage and salad items. If anyone has any tips please share them with me.

Weekly Blog No 99 – Canterbury, UK

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Canterbury, what a beautiful place, especially on a sunny day. The city was overflowing with people consisting of locals, tourists and just a few foreign school children to add to the measure.

The city has an abundance of quaint shops and historic buildings. I was in my element; however, my body wasn’t prepared to do the shop tour. I did achieve taking photos of various buildings of interest and a visit to Canterbury Cathedral.

Canterbury Tales

Canterbury Tales is one of the main attractions in Canterbury. Mr Zebrakat and I didn’t indulge in Chaucer’s famous tales. Geoffrey Chaucer wrote 24 stories in middle English between 1342 to 1400.  There were huge queues going into the building therefore it appeared to be very popular.

Sir John Boys House

One of the most photographed properties in the UK, alongside Buckingham Palace, London. The building is also known as Crooked House, Kings Gallery or the Old Kings Shop. A delightful askew building from the 17th Century. It has been reported that the building got its skewed-up appearance after alterations to the internal chimney that caused the structure to slip sideways. The story told is that additional attempts were made to rectify the problem, nevertheless that caused more slippage. The property is now structurally secured by a steel frame. Therefore the front door is built askew with its corners altered to fit the frame.

The building is not usually open to the public, as it is in regular use by King’s School. The building can be viewed from the street and you can see the photos below.

Canterbury Cathedral

Astonishing building and should be seen, if you are ever in Canterbury, without sounding to nerdy. The Cathedral is steeped in history and I managed to speak to a maintenance employee who gave us insight into the Cathedral and pointed out a couple of areas of greater interest.

There is no way I could write about the history of the Cathedral so I have obtained this info below from the Cathedral website to give you an overview through the centuries.

Through the Centuries

597 – St Augustine arrived in Kent and soon established the first Cathedral

1070-1077 – Cathedral rebuilt by Archbishop Lanfranc

1098-1130 – New Quire built over a Crypt (present Western Crypt)

1170 – Thomas Becket murdered in the Cathedral

1175-1184 – Quire rebuilt. Eastern Crypt, Trinity and Corona Chapels added (all as seen today)

1220 – Becket’s body placed in new Shrine in Trinity Chapel

1377-1405 – Lanfranc Nave demolished and rebuilt as seen today; Cloister vaulting inserted

c1450 – Pulpitum Screen constructed

1498 – Bell Harry Tower extended and the Cathedral largely complete as seen today

1538 – Becket’s Shrine destroyed by Henry VIII

1540 – Monastery dissolved by royal command

1541 – New Foundation of Dean and Chapter established

1660-1704 – Repair and refurbishing after Puritan damage

1834 – North West tower rebuilt

1954 – Library rebuilt, repairing War damage

 1986 – Altar of the Sword’s Point (Martyrdom) restored

 1988 – Compass Rose placed in the Nave

 2000 – International Study Centre (Cathedral Lodge) opened in the Precincts

Weekly Blog No 97 – Margate, Kent

 

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Margate

As you know, I have a number of tests coming up, therefore Mr ZebraKat and I decided to go away for a weekend. Its been over a year since we have been away and we certainly needed a change of scenery. My next procedure was on Tuesday, therefore it was lovely to feel just like another tourist for a few hours.

I am ashamed to say I have not seen much of the UK for breaks or holidays, I always headed out of the country. Its UK’s bonus that my illness prevents me from heading on a plane to some exotic location.  Hopefully in the coming months, I shall attempt to explore more of the UK, forgetting my illness. I went to Margate, drove around Broadstairs & Ramsgate and visited Canterbury. Consequently I am going to cover over a few blogs. I am no way near even an amateur photographer but you will get the picture. Excuse the pun.

Margate had a lovely sandy beach and was pretty empty when we arrived, however on Saturday it was a different story with many visitors.

 

This beautiful building is now used as the Tourist Information Centre, the elegant building was built-in 1812 for Margate Pier & Harbour Company.

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Droit House

Dreamland is an amusement park, which was closed due to refurbishment. It’s a shame as there was a roller disco in the park and I would have given that a go.

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We had a light lunch in this 70’s feel Italian Cafe, the food & coffee was amazing, if I was to go back again i would call into this cafe.

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Cafe – High Street

The old town was a mixture of cute shops and buildings. I do love the period properties, you can imagine the history.

Period properties around the old town.

The Old Kent Market is a restored building of independent sellers selling food & crafts.

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Old Kent Market

Next we took a look at Morris Dancers outside the Turner Building. Morris Dancers are English Folk Dancing people and has been recorded in history since 1448. The Turner Building will be the next blog.

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Morris Dancing

Weekly Blog No 95 – French Bistro Evening 

imageLocally we stumbled upon a quaint little café with a friendly atmosphere. Every time we have visited the café, you are made to feel welcome and presented with gratifying food & drinks. When ordering a sandwich of your choice, you are presented with a side order of homemade coleslaw and baked crisps.  As I’m not a lover of coleslaw, I was surprised to be delighted by the flavour and could quiet happily eat a bowl on its own. I don’t know what the secret ingredient is, nevertheless they have definitely won me over.

Usually after my cancer injection, Mr Zebrakat and I treat ourselves to a spot of breakfast or early lunch. In January, we spotted that the café did theme night menus. In January, it was a Scottish theme menu, just after Burns Night but we didn’t go as we had other plans.  We decided to go to the next one in February, which was French Bistro. We paid our deposit unsure if we would attend due to me not being so well lately, however at least our place was reserved. Yesterday was ohh la la evening, so I made sure I got plenty of rest during the day.

When we approached the space we were enriched with French music, bunting of French flags, white tablecloth & blue & red confetti laid tables and finally dressed with a bulb of garlic.  We were able to bring with us a bottle of wine as the premises doesn’t hold a liquor licence. Here is the food menu.

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 The shared oven baked Camembert was amazing.

We both had the pan poached garlic mushrooms

Followed by the rustic French onion soup, Mr Zebrakat had the honey glazed duck a la orange and I had the coq au vin.

Then onto dessert, which was a selection of French style desserts

The evening was truly amazing with a great atmosphere. The food was impeccable and the service outstanding. We are going to try another theme night very soon.

 

Photo Credit : Food photos off Facebook page of the café.

Weekly Blog No 93 – It’s My Birthday

 

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I’m happy to report I’ve made another birthday and I’m still in my 40’s. When you are informed by a doctor that you have cancer you certainly don’t anticipate celebrating many birthdays in the near future. This is in fact my 4th birthday since diagnosis, however my Oncologist did inform me in 2014, I have about 3 yrs to live so if his prediction is correct this is my last birthday. I can assure you im not treating this as my last birthday

My intention was to get some of my friends together for coffee and cake but I’ve not been so good lately, which is a shame as I do love, a girlie get together.

I was showered with cards and gifts from family and friends. I literally got everything  I needed and Zebrakat favorites. I have a stash of reading material. Some new authors and bibliographies to open my mind up to other people’s lives. Some music to pass the time away whilst doing chores. I shall smell beautiful from all the products that I received.  I can indulge in some online shopping too, the gifts were endless. Thank you to all those people who showered me with gifts.

My birthdays are not exactly celebrated like I used too. I have even been known in the past to be in some exotic location on my birthday consuming cocktails. I will continue to make the best of every birthday where ever I am, that’s for sure. ❤

Weekly Blog No 92 – Overview of 2016

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve written a blog due to ongoing health issues but here’s an overview for 2016.

UK 

Been back in the UK for over a year now, we’ve got back into the swing of life. I have to admit my heart is still in Canada but I’m glad to be back. I haven’t driven for a year due to my ongoing symptoms, a personal choice but you never lose the skill of driving. Things can be easier in the UK, shops can be reached by foot or local transport. Food shopping can be delivered to your home. Medication can be delivered to your home by pharmaceutical companies. Basically most items can be delivered to your home nowadays by a simple click.

Friends & Family

An enormous thank you to all the lovely people who have been there for me & Mr Zebrakat. Your kindness however small or big, blows my mind and please know that I am truly grateful. I know nowadays I’m not the most proactive friend but if you know me well enough, you know that I care but my illness limits me. Consequently relying on people visiting me if they want too. Thank you for those people who have made that effort, it always brings a smile to my face.

Lottie (dog)

Lottie has settled into her new house, she loves the garden and her local walks. Lottie has clearly adapted to moving and hopefully this will be her last move.

New Home

Well we did it, we bought a home in a lovely town in Northamptonshire. A beautiful town retaining local facilities in walkable distance, which is a rarity these days.  The house needs  some work to meet our standards but we will get there. The construction plans are being drafted to be tweaked. However I was able to have Christmas dinner here for family and it was a lovely day.

Health 

Well what can I say, as time goes by my symptoms seem to progress. Even though I have some symptoms under control, there are more and more creeping upon me. This year, there has definitely been more bad days than good and life without a cocktail of drugs would be unbearable. There has been days were my pain relief has gone out of sequence due to one thing and another, no person wants to live with that pain, it’s insufferable. Let’s hope in 2017 there will be more good days than bad.

Hobbies 

I was trying to concentrate on hobbies last year. Cooking skills are still improving and still learning to try different ingredients. Reading has been non stop, I do love historical fiction. I’ve tried out new authors this year and I will continue that.  A friend bought me an OK Magazine subscription, therefore I’m able to keep up with showbiz gossip. Music, there is not day that goes by without music, love love love music. I also did some online courses when I was well enough to occupy my mind.

Theatre & Movies

I’ve managed a couple of shows and a few films. Attendance is not at peak times and always needs to be planned in one way or another. Going to see a movie is always therapeutic,  it’s  like adding normality to your life.

Overall a successful year and I will look forward to 2017. Freedom is going to be my goal this year. I wish everyone a Happy Healthy New Year.

Weekly Blog No 91 – Moving Again  

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We are moving again to a permanent nest in the UK. A cute mid terrace house in a market town within Northamptonshire. Finally I will be able to open our boxes from Canada, however I’m sure that we won’t be opening them all until the house is fully decorated.

My dream renovation list:

  • Replacement windows and doors in time, as we want triple glazing/sash style windows. Replace the current UPVC white external doors to either composite or timber doors to within keeping of the historic period of the property. Reduce the master bedroom window to its original size.
  • External decoration once the windows have been replaced
  • A loft conversion also known as converting the roof space to form a drawing office/craft studio.
  • Conversation of bedroom 2 by dividing the room into a main bathroom and en suite to master bedroom.
  • Form a walk in closet to the master bedroom.
  • Form a linen cupboard on the landing.
  • Relocate the boiler from  bedroom 3 to the laundry room.
  • Convert existing downstairs shower room into utility room (laundry room) and cloak room (1/2 bath). I may move its current location once I’ve opened up the space.
  • Rebuild the infill extension/conservatory to conform with Building  Regulations. (Building Codes)
  • Remove the rear external walls to open up into the extension to form open plan kitchen and dining area.
  • I may reconfigure the area to form the kitchen, dining area, cloak room and utility room.
  • Provide french doors to the patio area.
  • Open up chimney for a log burner in the living room (great room)
  •  Remove chimney breast in bedroom 2 to accommodate new bathrooms.
  • Provide new/extend existing lighting,.
  • Fit new fire & carbon monoxide alarms and possibly security system.
  • Replace internal doors.
  • Provide new plumbing were its required and possible replace/relocation of radiators.
  • Damp proofing work if required.
  • Full redecoration and flooring throughout the house.

Basically the list is endless, and I’m sure I wont have any money left for a long time but I can dream. I may start a blog showing my develops, it all depends on time. Wish me luck.