Month: July 2014

Feeling Blue

We live in Somerset and I am Somerset born and bred but Mr.M is Cornish. He is now an official minority race and although he can do a very impressive anti-Cornwall rant (in the style of Victor Meldrew) there are a few things even he misses from his homeland. Our recent trip to Bodinnick added blue hydrangeas to the list.

In our neck of the woods hydrangeas are usually pink, sometimes you see a mixed colour bush but blues are much rarer. In Cornwall they are blue everywhere. I knew it was to do with the soil acidity but I have been researching some more. The hydrangea needs aluminium in the soil to stay blue.

Crushed eggs shells, coffee grinds and citrus peel will all add aluminium as they decompose. This is good news as we have lots of eggs and coffee. I am also told cold tea works well. Chalk added to the soil and rusty nails are two more for me to try.


So yesterday I was delighted to find Lidl selling decent sized plants for £6.99 and our local store had the blues! Bought one for Mr.M and we are going to bring it on in a tub for starters and plant it out later, so I can prepare a patch with added extras to keep it nice and blue.

This summer will see operation ‘get the polytunnel up’. We have been donated an old frame from a relative who was downsizing and it is still in good condition. It is the real deal and measures 30ft by 14ft so I have a huge area of land to prepare. Hoping to make a start after this weekends rain has softened the soil. I can’t wait to have a chicken free area to grow our vegetables in!

I have entered a photo of my sunflowers in a competition and could win £100 of garden centre vouchers. Please vote for me if you use Facebook.

my home grown sunflowers, very proud of them!


Back to Black (& White)

Currently a television license costs £145.50 for a colour and £49.00 for a black and white. Back in 2005 we changed our TV to a small B&W portable, the type people used to keep for the bedroom or caravan. When I phoned up the TV License people to change the lady said I was the first customer she had ever had to do this for! At almost £100 a year between the two license fees by next year we will have saved almost £1000.

As at 31 March 2013, 12,076 black and white (mono) TV Licences were in force (figure from TV Licensing) and  25,338,330 licenses issued in total.

I read a book about a chap with a smallholding who commented on people asking him how he managed to get so much done. to which he simply replied “I don’t have a television” and that got me thinking about what a time-waster it can be and could we go without? The decision was made to switch to B&W. You can not buy B&W televisions new any more so we had to search the second hand market and now have a couple of spares in the loft, just in case our current one dies. We are using a lovely red Hitachi set, with a dial tuner. It is rigged up to a Goodmans digibox so the channels are changed via the digibox remote control. There are a few digiboxes with aerial connections, which is good as the TV we use has no scart connection. The television is also connected into the stereo speakers so has excellent sound.


Just turning down the colour on a colour set doesn’t count. If you have the ability to watch in colour then you still need a colour license.

We are not technophobes, we have just found the programmes we watch are just as good without colour. I would still be reluctant to go TV free……lunchtime without Bargain Hunt? no way.

If we do need a colour fix then we watch using iPlayer, 4od etc. Provided you don’t watch “live” broadcasts in colour then using the computer or laptop is fine.


People either totally get it or want to offer us old colour sets they have, missing the point completely. Could you go TV free? Could you go back to black & white? How could you use the extra time gained from not watching so much TV?