Gardening for the enthusiastic.

I named this piece ‘Gardening for the enthusiastic’ and not Enthusiast/Green-fingered/Someone who has any affinity for plants at all because I am none of those things and I can only write from my own experience.

I am Enthusiastic.

I find something/anything to occupy my time and GO WITH IT with such an intensity and obsession it takes over my life. Last summer it was Grow-Your-Own produce. I read up on everything to do with back-yard growing (as you know this fulfills another of my obsessions) and then collected up seed packets for veg such as Peas and Radishes (nice and easy and QUICK) Turnip, Beetroot and Carrot of various colours and mixes (root veg are my favourites to eat) to some of the more exotic like Khol Rabi, Mooli, Asparagus and Globe Artichoke.

Oh yeah, I had my meals planned out for the next eight months.

The thing was, I didn’t have much money and I didn’t have all that much patience. I LOVE growing things. I germinated those seedlings and brought them on and hardened them off and planted them all out with the EXACT amount of precision. It was only once they were in the ground and big enough to fend off the caterpillars themselves that I got bored. The pea plants gave me four pea pods in all. I had FIVE pea plants. The beets were bitter and evil and spoiled my wonderful beet and sausage stew. The carrots were three and a half centimeters long after five months of being in the ground. The lettuces, now this was the craziest thing, were bloody prickly and couldn’t be eaten they were so sharp! I bought all my seeds from reputable gardening stores and did what the instructions told me to do. The only problem was my soil.

After years of weeds and rubbish and neighbour’s cats toileting in the border, the soil was in the worst possible shape to be growing veg in. It takes years of care and knowledge to build up a good soil and lots of hard-work keeping it that way as vegetables take away the goodness as fast as you can replace it. Hard work is fine. I enjoy it when I can SEE the fruits of my labours (so to speak) but I couldn’t afford a quick-fix for the soil and my compost bin was in it’s infancy.

So this year I pulled out all the weeds and the four foot high Kohl Rabi plant that didn’t turn into any type of edible veg and OH and I have sown normal everyday pretty plant seeds- Aubretia to give ground cover, Lavender for scent and for the bees and butterflies, same goes for globe thistles, poppies of 5 types, Red-Hot Pokers, My love lies bleeding (a very beautiful drooping velvety flowered plant that is actually very understated), Sage (I want a herb bed more than anything and given the conditions of my garden think the Mediterranean plants might do better here than anything else), Pansies for pops of velvet ‘Black-Jack’ black and many other to boot.

The Ornamental Corn germinated two plants. The caterpillars took one. The Pumpkin germinated three out of seven (higher mortality rate to last years but the seeds are older) and the caterpillars have just had the head off one. The Lavender looks to be doing well and the caterpillars don’t seem overly enticed by the tiny baby plants so here’s fingers crossed on that front, the pansies look okay but are a little sparse in the patch we gave over to them, the poppies may not take till next year but I’m okay with that and I’ve not seen anything of the globe thistles or artichokes, red hot pokers or aubretia. I will wait. I will be patient. I will go and buy grown plants to fill in the gaping holes in my garden.

I would like to have a herb based bed with other plants adding to it. I think I’ll buy larger plants so the poor things don’t get eaten down by bugs or scratched up by the local cats (mine is a house cat so no probs there).

The only plants I’ve had any success with have been hand-me-downs. The Lemon Balm I found in a corner and split and replanted, it’s doing marvelously. The Shamrock that was grown out and is a close descendant of my Nana’s, both in red/purple leafed and green varieties, brought down from my Mam’s house and replanted here. The Loganberry bush which is thriving after my old neighbour gave it to me through the fence for me to tie in and get to take roots on as she doesn’t actually eat Loganberries. The Gooseberry bush which I bought last year and thought was dead due to the poor thing looking much like a dried twig until a few weeks ago, now I have the sneaking suspicion it was just using all it’s energies for root-formation. The variegated bamboo which I hacked to near-nothingness and has come back thicker and lusher than before as well as being a bit more compact. My powder pink Hydrangea that OH was bullied into buying me one day that as soon as it was placed outside turned shocking pink and then the caterpillars got it bad. I have since planted the thing and dead-headed it, giving it a chance to form stronger roots so next years flowers will be all the better.

I need to go to the garden center. Our border is empty and sitting outside in our hand-me-down gravel and concrete yard (the poor little thing couldn’t be called a garden yet) is just the slightest bit depressing…

Good luck fellow Enthusiastics. May the force be with you.

Advertisements

Blink 182.

I really don’t like London. Okay, scrap that. I didn’t like London until last weekend and our visit to Canary Wharf. It’s just so damn NICE isn’t it? Clean. Quiet. Nice. And it only helps you love a place more when you get to watch a cool band play and meet OPTIMUS PRIME. Hell yeah. Like I’ve said before, I. AM. A. ROCK. STAR.

“That’s Optimus Prime.” Complete shock in my voice.

“Really?” said in tone of utter doubt as we walked up to the setting up of the London MotorExpo.

“Um, yeah. I would NOT get that wrong.”

“Huh, cool.”

“Stuff cool, this is IMMENSE. Where’s Bumblebee… I love me some Camero…”

And that’s pretty much how that went.

I first started listening to Blink when I was in high school, probably about fourteen years old. They were easily accessible and completely out there. Well, they were for an average kid like me.

I paired this new found love of anything outrageous with a pared-down scarlet red almost-mohawk and screamo music in my ears any chance I got- Fightstar, Funeral for a Friend, The Used, Bullet for my Valentine, those other lads with long fringes… Well, it was years ago…

So when the chance floated past OH he jumped at it. We were set to relive our youth in the O2 Arena for one night. I doubt OH new my youth was actually spent IN the mosh-pits, not watching from safe distances…

I’ve got to say, for it to be so huge and so commercial (I remember watching Bullet before they were ‘big’ in Fibbers in York; a tiny basement-type s**t hole that could only hold 80 people and always seemed to be stretched at the seams with 200) I did get the goosebumps thing going on. I couldn’t help myself, this was Blink. To be frank, I can’t even remember the name of the first act although it sounded a lot like Flip Atlantic. I’m sure of the second word, not so much on the first. The second warm up act was even better as I knew a fair few words to get involved singing along with. All American Rejects. Come on, who doesn’t love ‘Swing swing’ and ‘Give you Hell’?

Anywho, after a surprisingly long toilet-break queue that took very little time to get to the front of we settled back in for Blink. I know I’m biased but they are just as good as they ever were if only ten years older and a little tired. The encore was just as good as the set and they played all the favourites throughout.

The scary part of the night was not only how bloody steep the seating is within the arena but after we left and were heading to the underground. Aw heck, I love a good end of the world film (it’s a new passion of mine, along with Zombies) but I don’t want to live one. The crowd control procedures at the underground station and the reaction of hyped-up, mostly wasted arse holes around us really made me think the world was ending. Big yellow signs with ‘CROWD CONTROL IN EFFECT’ and the crowd getting tighter and tighter was a little scary but we got through in the end and were back at our hotel in about 25 minutes.

The next day, we decided to walk from Canary Wharf (where we were staying) back to Waterloo Station; along walk but one filled with many many tourist type photo taking opportunities.

So we walked. The whole way. And it was the best walk  ever. I Have never seen London so calm and peaceful and even though there were thousands of tourists around I didn’t once feel claustrophobic or caged (I think in a previous life I was a wild animal, possibly something with speed and claws if my inner-panic in city locales gives any indication).

I am now looking forward to revisiting my Capital again some time and would definitely spend more time around Canary Wharf and actually visit some of the sights along South Bank that we didn’t have the time or money to this time.

 

Things to rant about.

I’m not above a good rant and I’m definitely not short on opinions and exhaustive commentaries on the world around me.

Sometimes, you just need to get it out. Tell someone. Write a blog. You know?

Firstly, and I do not mean to cause anyone any form of offence for I know it is the minority that spoil it for the rest of us but… BUGGIES. PUSHCHAIRS. PRAMS. STROLLERS. Whatever the hell you call them, I hate them. Well, like I said before, the minority spoil it for the rest of us and one day I know I’ll have to go out and buy one. The thing is, stupid women (I’m apologetic to my gender here but it is usually women) like to RAM them into your shins or into the backs of your calves like they have no idea you’re stood right in front of them when you’re out for that one day’s shopping a year. Or maybe they know fine well you are only three foot from their nose and are using their often empty pram/battering ram to get you the hell out of their way… Astute observation me thinks…

SO, I KNOW YOU ARE THERE. IT’S KINDA HARD NOT TO HEAR YOU WHEN YOU’RE YELLING ABOUT THE PRICE OF CIGGIES AND THE AMOUNT OF DSS THE GOVERNMENT ARE LETTING YOU SPONGE. I ALSO KNOW THAT IF YOU HIT ME HARD ENOUGH IN THE BACK OF THE ANKLES WITH YOUR LEGALISED BATTERING RAM I WILL COLLAPSE ONTO (AND POTENTIALLY KILL) YOUR SPAWN.

And when they push the baby-filled pushchair out between two parked cars when they come to cross a busy road. Oh now this gets my Dad mad too. The amount of times he’s had to slam on the breaks to avoid potential infanticide when brainless, callous, shouldn’t-be-allowed-to-breed mothers shove their tiny offspring out in front of them to then duck their heads out between parked cars to see if it’s safe for them to cross.

OKAY, SO DON’T THROW YOUR SPAWN IN THE WAY OF MOVING HUNKS OF METAL UNLESS YOU WANT JAIL-TIME instead, THROW YOUR GODDAMN CRAZY-ASS SELVES IN FRONT OF THE VEHICLES AND PULL YOUR CHILD AFTER YOU ONLY IF IT IS SAFE.

Wowsa, that gets me mad.

The Royal-Bloody-Mail. This makes me mad too. For so many teensy weensy reasons I seem to just despise the whole idea of the mail system sometimes. You used to get charged for weight of parcels. Now they not only charge for weight, they charge for size too. I can pay nearly £2 just to POST a card with a badge on the front. No, a first class stamp on an average sized birthday card is not adequate any more… You must be penalised for the sending of a tacky and horrendous badge on the front too. Hmm, Okay.

AND WE JUST PAY THE SUCKERS CAUSE THAT’S THE ONLY WAY YOUR YOUNGER BROTHER WILL KNOW YOU STILL KNOW HE’S ALIVE AND GROWS OLDER EVERY YEAR EVEN IF YOU NEVER PICK UP THE PHONE TO CALL HIM.

Anyone over the age of 68 driving a car. I’m sorry. I am so sorry. I know you’re old and need to enjoy every last vestige of freedom you can before the inevitable comes along and… Well, you know. But…

SERIOUSLY, IF YOU CAN’T SEE OVER THE BLOODY STEERING WHEEL THEN HOW ON GOD’S-GREEN-EARTH ARE YOU EXPECTED TO STOP- PLOWING DOWN ANYONE CROSSING THE ROAD/CRASHING INTO OTHER CARS AT JUNCTIONS/SMASHING UP OTHER PEOPLE’S SIDE PANELS WHEN YOU PARK IN CAR PARKS/JUST PLAIN OLD GET IN MY WAY?!

I live on a road where I am the youngest home owner by roughly (and I am being generous here) 40 years at least. Every one of these crippled old biddies has back/neck/leg/eye/hand problems that mean they walk with sticks/wear remarkably thick glasses/take such strong pain meds they are high as kites, yet they are still safe to drive? When they can’t SEE? Can’t FEEL THEIR FEET? Can’t GRIP THE WHEEL? Don’t KNOW WHAT DAY IT IS? Come on.

Working with anyone under the age of thirty. Yup, I know I’m not even 25 yet but it seems (as I still work in retail at the moment) anyone under the age of thirty (and unfortunately a lot over that age too) are so frigging immature I can’t bear to have them talk at me.

Hearing the tales of getting ‘smashed’ every other day and coming into work still hung-over, I really don’t care. Feeling ‘so extremely poorly’ for the ninth week in a row; basically either the part-timers hang-over excuse or they have a cold and can’t be arsed working. Whingeing about how mean/tight-fisted/miserable your parents are; primarily because they wouldn’t drive you to work/buy you a car/let you live for free in their house/give you money or anything else you want. I DON’T CARE.

I have only ever met one person in all my years working within retail that has anything in common with me, that lady is still one of my close friends. She’s 64. I own my own home, no-one else seems to. I am in a steady long-term relationship, apparently I’m an oddity. I cook like an adult, whereabouts I don’t live off beans on toast, pizza and pasta. I spend most of my wages on homey things first as I want to live comfortably, everyone else only cares about bags, shoes, online war games, makeup, alcohol. They talk to me about their failing relationships with other losers; jobless musicians, my idea of depressed and lazy wannabees; girls they met over the internet and subsequently proposed to 3 weeks after meeting face to face, my idea of loser bunny-boilers. The list goes on and I STILL DON’T CARE.

Yikes.

Farmers. The French (a hand-me-down from my parents). Politicians. Boy racers. Bankers. Anonymous PPI calls. Rugs (don’t ask). Clueless holiday makers. Chavs. Anyone who doesn’t respect Sir Patrick Stewart. Reality TV shows…

The list is practically endless, as I’m sure yours is too, and I laugh about these things as much as I despair but please, just let me live in peace general populous. Geez.

Guilty Pleasures Pt II.

I’ve had an honest think about what else I consider a ‘guilty pleasure’ and will continue the list I started a few weeks ago although really, this is probably just a list of true ‘likes’ of which I don’t feel guilty at all.

Magazines and books. I can’t help myself. I have gardening books, jewellery design books, dog breed and dog training books (I will admit here I own less cat-themed reading) Home decor magazines, wedding mags (no, no upcoming nuptials, just a love of pretties), travel books (a new thing for me) craft books, philosophy books, fiction (you all know my addiction to fiction) and pretty much everything in between! I ❤ books…

Eating and drinking al fresco. I love being out in the garden. I’m not usually so sun-worshippy as I used to burn easily. For some reason this is not the case this year and my tolerance to heat has risen, much to my delight. So any time I can be out in the garden, I will be. Especially with a glass of wine. Pub grub whilst sitting out under a parasol (usually only on holidays but hey) and a ice cold bottle of lager…

Olives. Aw man I could eat these for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I’ve rediscovered them this summer and am trying to put them on everything, much to OH’s distress. Just a classic Caesar salad with feta and olives instead of Parmesan shavings, try it! Crushed with feta and sweet peppers as a topping for pork chops…

I went home for the Jubilee weekend (‘home’ here being where me and OH grew up, a little village outside of York) to visit parents and pick up some more of my stuff from their attic. I collected two HUGE bags of Ty Beanie Babies. Hell yeah.

I am such a Rock Star.

Oh my god I forgot how much I adore those things. The Bears that you just HAVE to collect. The one’s you HAVE to have. The one’s with the cutest faces and the most charming fur colours. Remember, I am 25 this September so this is probably one of my most guilty pleasures. I realised I have more bears than I picked up that weekend and have recruited my folks to find the remaining bags in their attic. I probably have well over 300. The one’s I picked up are PRISTINE. PERFECT. Tags protected and all safe in clean, thick plastic bags. They were (and have now become again) my pride and joy. The guilty secret here is once I saw them all, remembered where I bought each one (with my parents at beanie fairs, on holidays to Orlando, at the local toy store before it shut down…) I caught the bug again. Hiding it from OH, I went on Amazon.co.uk (my go-to place for EVERY online purchase) and started searching for more; new styles and old ones I never managed to get. Unfortunately I bought many when the craze was still strong and spent a small fortune along the way but now I am happy to announce, my new found addiction is a cheap as chips. I bought 2004 Signature Bear after I fell in love with his gold nose. I couldn’t help myself. I’ve hidden the purchase from OH and hope it arrives on one of my days off… 😉

IKEA ‘shopping’ days with my Mum. I have to admit I never need anything when I go shopping with Mum but I always buy something. And we always have either a full-english (if we get their for opening time) or a hot dinner. I love this place. Breakfast is about two quid a person with re-fillable coffee (surprisingly good coffee) on an IKEA Family card and me and Mother have been known to get to IKEA so early we have to wait for the doors to open. We have also been known to race through the store ‘short-cuts’ not even looking at any form of product, flapping through the store, even pushing toddlers out the way, just to get to the dining hall… Hmm… Crazy… But then, me and my Mother have a fair few quirks…

🙂

More from my Kitchen.

I’ve talked a bit about my kitchen before; the first large design project I took on single-handedly in our house.

I had to wait over a year after we moved in to replace the horrendous, greasy plastic coated cupboards which had mainly rotted out all by them selves. Brown tile with pears and berries on the occasional, even more disgusting tile here and there only adding to my misery when using the space. The oven we ripped out straight away as my parents had a spare little stainless steel one. The hob was actually fitted the wrong way, with the knobs along the front of the counter when the design was supposed to have them down the left. We had to take off a wall cupboard and trim the counter back to fit our fridge in the tiny space left. It had sat in the living room for a few weeks on the old, cream, badly stained (with what I hate to think) thick carpet on a part of our floor where the boards were damaged and sagged, taking the fridge with it.

I love books, so cookery books are everywhere in our new design. Black units don’t seem so dark when they’re not on the walls too. Plae floors and counter tops brighten it up further with white walls the finishing touch. I don’t know where my inspiration came from and to be honest I didn’t really think about the room from an interior design point of view. It had to be practical, had to fit, had to have certain fixtures and it had to have space for our little luxuries.

It feels a little like a swedish larder; two white open shelves hold (I kid you not) sealed jars of flour/sugar/dried coconut baking things next to all my pots of spices (which we use extremely regularly) pestle and mortar, big blue Denby Azure teapot and our pink Heart-shaped Le Creuset caserole dish, the other holding our cereal boxes, posh champagne and shot glasses and the bottles of Ouzo, Vodka, Rum, Tequila and Bourbon that look so good sat together. Organised chaos is my specialty and you can tell I’d be a bit of a horder if I wasn’t so ruthless. The windowsill is one of my favourite DIY’s. We had a huge gap from the window up to the counter top which should have been level (the extension ceiling is quite low considering the height of the cielings in the rest of the house) but happened to be an inch below the counter level. We had a hole. We have no tiles in the kitchen. I was completely ademant about this. I hate the thought of patterned tiles (hence the plain white in the bathroom) and didn’t want the room ‘busied up’ with them. So we didn’t have a quick fix to the gap problem. Our hob splashback (glossy black plastic panels) were cut in half lengthways and stretched along the wall at the back of the counter. Couldn’t use those either, they’d scratch if you kept putting stuff down on them.

Then I had an idea. My Mam has a bazillion scraps in her garage. I knew she had a spare pack of grey rough slate floor tiles. There was my answer. Chock up the inch gap and cut the tiles so they fit really tight in the window ledge with a little overhang onto the counter, slap down some No-More-Nails and plop the perfectly cut tiles on that. After they had a few days to dry I silicone sealed around all the edges as the sink is very close. Voila!

Here are some pics for you…

The space between the knife block and microwave needed some colour… Books were the only option.

My little baking and breakfast corner…

The window sill needed brightening up too. I have a lean-to outside the kitchen window that encloses the space between my extension and the nextdoor neighbours so I don’t need window treatments.

My collection of esspresso cups and saucers and the slate window ledge.

Coffee Corner is very different to Tea Corner. My two coffee machines here, both bought for me by my wonderful OH.

Above Coffee Corner is our utensil wall. Here I’ve also hung my pride and joy- my Le Creuset chef pan.

So, I’ve pretty much walked you though my kitchen from top to bottom now. I’m sure I’ll keep talking about it as it really is my favourite room. NExt time though, I may tell you about our bathroom…

 

 

Puppy.

So, ever since I moved in with OH (three years ago on June 27th to be precise) I have wanted a dog. I think he secretly wants a dog still but he is, thankfully, too sensible to let me run wild with it. We lived in a rented flat and ‘rented flats aren’t allowed pets in them’. We were going on holidays and ‘you’d never leave your dog in a kennel’. We didn’t have a car and ‘we can’t pick up a puppy on a train’. He has preferences and ‘I’m not owning a girly dog’.

His excuses got steadily thinner until he just stopped acknowleging my research through adverts for pups. Our parents said ‘Oh, you don’t want the responsibility’ and ‘they tie you down’.

Well, one night as we were having a glass of wine I told OH (rather tearily I might add) that I didn’t want to be alone when I knew he’d be going away to work for six months the next year.

He looked at me and said ‘We can’t have a dog here Kirst.’

I squarked back through wine and tears ‘I know!’.

So he replied ‘So lets buy a house.’

So we did. That didn’t stop him going away to work for six weeks just as we were finalising purchasing details and solicitors. He has to work. I get that. I have to pick up the slack and know exactly what’s going on while he’s away. That’s my job. I’m pretty good at it and I am stronger than I give myself credit for. But I was in a new house on my own in a new part of town. I broke again one night and called my poor father at 2am. He listened.

The next day, on my way to work, Dad called.

‘I think I’ve found someone who can help you.’ (Aw hell, I thought, a shrink!?) ‘Just give her a call, we think this is the answer.’

‘What answer Dad?’

‘We want to buy you a kitten.’ I cried all the way off the ferry and into work. I love my parents but this was something I could never have guessed they’d do. The trick was getting it approved by OH.

‘You don’t even like cats.’

Hmmm. Incorrect. ‘I don’t particularly have an affintity for them.’

‘You’re Dad’s pretty much sold you on this hasn’t he?’

‘Yes.’

‘There’s nothing I could say is there?’ (smile in his voice now)

‘Well, there probably is but please don’t say it.’

So we got Jethro. A cat.

I think my desire for a dog has never really dissapated but Jethro was and still is my lifesaver. Now I see dogs on walks and I always shout to OH ‘Look at that! Isn’t he cute?!’ I am still missing a puppy and the more wild and rough Jethro gets, the more I want to find him a companion too. I have only ever had dogs (at home growing up) from puppies and for me personally, the benefits of this outweighs  getting an older dog.

So, here’s my wish list for dogs. I have carefully taken into account that when I’m on my own I may not be able/want to walk for miles and miles at night by myself so ‘big’ dogs are out of the question. Although when OH is home, we walk for miles and miles. There are a couple here that are probably too vivacious but I’ll eventually admit that to myself and NOT get a breed that would be bored or not excersised correctly.

The Basset Hound. The only things I really worry about with this breed are- how Jethro may bite or grab at dogs ears, their short stature is not reccommended for houses with stairs as going up and down stairs can affect their development and therefore their health and the fact that, despite it’s short stature this is actually a Big dog.

Hmmm. So, to the next.

The Dacshund.

Again, I worry about their health as they are considered an ‘extreme’ body type but the weight of these little dogs isn’t quite as tough on their joints as that of a Basset. This breed is on the ‘girly’ list of banned dogs OH has set.

So, onwards.

The Boston Terrier.

I am not sure if the Bozzy is on the banned list but they are peppy little dogs that apparently are couch-potatoes on the sly. A smaller dog, they have unfortunately become ‘trendy’ in England and now command rediculous ‘designer dog’ price tags which doesn’t always mean you are getting a healthy pup.

And the next…

The Beagle.

A sweet natured family dog (a must with Jethro around) this breed requires a lot of excercise and open running which would only ever be an issue occasionaly if OH was working away for months and I was left on my own with dog, cat and job…

I think, in reality that’s it. The only true contenders in my mind. I’m reluctant to pick one as I’m still trying to be objective and honest about our situation and I’m trying to be responsible, not to mention OH won’t let me have a puppy until I’m teaching which will be another two years at least. My thinking is, would it make us happy? Yes. Would it get us out the house and excersising more? Yes. Is now the best time as OH is definitely home for the next two years? Yes. I don’t want to be hearing what I want to hear here but at the end of the day, the more me and OH talk about something, the more we talk ourselves out of it i.e. the car dilemma.

But never mind, I’m sure we’ll get there and add another furry bundle to our little family eventually. Wish me luck 🙂

 

Here comes the sun…

Sunshine!

What does this call for? Sunburn? No, not that. Barbeque!

I love my food, as you probably know by now, but the sun just makes things so much more exciting. Eating al fresco even when the sun’s gone over the rooftops is a lovely summer experience here in England. You have to make the most of it when you can.

I make quiches and salsas, my Mam’s famous potato salad with a tiwst, we get the coals going and then we throw on what ever meat we can scrounge up. That’s our flaw, it’s only meat OH deams fit for the BBQ. We need to start on the veg. There always has to be the staple of BBQ ribs, a burger or two, some flavoured sausages and I would very much like to try fish on the coals.

So I’ve found a few recipes here that we’ll try in the coming weeks…

Ribs,

Easy peasy bit of greenery here… Asparagus (heaven)

I make a mean cold salsa and it’s the easiest, tastiest side for chicken or fish. Here’s the recipe. I’ll just let you know, I make a BIG batch.

Garlicky Salsa.

1 packet vine ripe tomatoes (8-10 chicken-egg sized tomatoes on average),

1-2 small red onions,

1 nice big clove of garlic (or 2 if you really want to knock your socks off, remember the flavour will mellow the longer the salsa marinades)

2-3 table spoons of good quality olive oil (or, as it goes on last, enough to make your mix wet and a little sloppy)

1 level teaspoon sea salt,

1 level teaspoon rosemary,

First, very finely dice the red onion. Do the same to the tomatoes. The smaller the pieces are the further the mix goes and if the salsa is chopped smaller it’ll fit better in burgers!

So, with the veg diced add the garlic. I like to slice this into seriously thin slices rather than chopping up into teeny tiny gritty little pieces. I dunno, I genuinely believe it tastes better. I NEVER press/crush garlic. I think to crush garlic this way is extremely disrespectful.

The Sea Salt and Rosemary need to be ground together in a pestle and mortar to combine the flavours and let the salt pick up the residual oils from the rosemary. Sprinkle this onto tomato, onion and garlic mix.

Lastly, pour over your olive oil and mix.

Leave over night or make the day before for best results. The flavours combine into a much more harmonious taste when left to marinate in the fridge.

So, now we need some veg skewers. Simples again. Get any of your favourite what I like to call ‘soft’ veg- Aubergines, courgettes, cherry tomatoes, small onions/shallots, mushrooms, even par-boiled salad potatoes and shove them on a pre-soaked wooden or metal skewer. Brush lightly with oil throughout the BBQ’ing and hey presto, another accompaniment!

I also like to do my Mam’s version of potato salad. You know by now I don’t really do ‘proper’ measurements and we ALWAYS make BIG portions! Here’s her recipe…

Mam’s Potato Salad

1 small bag salad or new potatoes,

3 medium chicken eggs/8 quail eggs or 2 duck eggs (depending on what you have available)

1 medium german or other soft sausage (anything fairly mild or even smoked but it must be soft not dried like salami or churizo)

1 small red onion,

3-4 generous tablespoons of Mayo,

2-3 teaspoons of mustard (either normal English or milder wholegrain)

So, boil the potatoes until they are just going soft. There is a huge cooking time difference between cooked and overcooked and there are many points in between.

In our house ‘Bite’ is an only-just cooked potato (stab with a sharp knife and try to feel how easy the knife goes in, this helps you to know at what point your veg is at) and ‘Soft’ is the point a couple of minutes before the potato falls to bits in the boiling water. For this recipe, we want them Soft.

You can also boil the eggs in the potato pan and pull them out at th soft-boiled stage. Run under cold water or immerse in a bowl of ice cubes to stop the cooking process.

Chop up potatoes and eggs and throw in a bowl together. Slice or cube the soft sausage and throw that in too. I mix everything in the serving bowl so I don’t have a million pots to wash at the end of the night.

Finely dice your red onion and hoy that in the bowl too and then pop your mayo and mustard measurements on top and mix the heck out of it. Don’t worry if your potatoes smoosh a little, they’ll soak up all the flavours better that way.

Eat while the potatoes are still warm (our preferred method) or chill in the fridge.

So, enjoy my recipes and enjoy trying out some I haven’t even tried yet. Most importantly, have fun in the sun and stay safe 🙂