The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Miss Barbellion’s Garden: a book review of a modern classic

Posted in Reviews | 8 comments

Miss Barbellion’s Garden: a book review of a modern classic

Having read this book I’ve had to update my fantasy dinner party list to include Miss Nancy Barbellion. In fact she would be welcome at the cottage anytime. Miss Barbellion is a lesson to anyone who equates old age with uselessness. At 71 she is circumspect, punchy and kind. Miss Barbellion inherits her rambling family home in Bath, England and returns from a lifetime working in distant lands from China to India. She links up with old friends – that she hasn’t seen for twenty years. Despite being an avid letter writer she has still not...

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Book review: TERCster – the new word for entrepreneur

Posted in Making money from home, Reviews | Comments Off on Book review: TERCster – the new word for entrepreneur

Book review: TERCster – the new word for entrepreneur

It’s not every day that someone introduces a brand new word into the English language. ‘Entrepreneur’ is French and the earliest records of it being used in the English language date from the early 1700s but there is not one single agreed definition of what it means exactly. This is the 300 year old issue that businessman Harry J Mitchell set out to resolve for once and for all. He proposes a logical formula that measures somebody’s Time learning the ropes, their Experience at a specific activity that is relevant to a new business, the...

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How to remove glue from jam jar labels

Posted in Discoveries, Reviews | 25 comments

How to remove glue from jam jar labels

Why is it always the prettiest jam jars that have the most stubborn labels and glue? There’s no chance that they would accidentally peel off and nobody would know what was inside. And when you want to fill them with your own home made preserves they cling to their gluey deposits like stubborn stains. I’m late with my Seville orange marmalade making this year. But I have Sevilles, lemons and sugar at the ready. The real problem has been the jars. In past years I have washed them, dealt with the labels and stored them ready for use....

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Deep root trainers: a review

Posted in General care, Reviews | 2 comments

Deep root trainers: a review

I’m way behind with sowing my seeds this year. I was very envious of Celia’s seedlings that I spotted in her greenhouse at Purple Podded Peas HQ this week. So this weekend will be a flurry of seed sowing activity. I think that I’m a bit late for sowing chillies this year, as these really need to be sown in early February but I might try a few alongside the tomato seeds in the electric propagator. Apart from the seeds that can go straight in the ground, I’ll be using seed trays and deep root trainers for everything else. Deep root...

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Sponsored video and post: Mr Kipling’s granny and her tin

Posted in Reviews | 2 comments

This post has been sponsored by Mr Kipling, but all thoughts are my own. I love the granny in Mr Kipling’s new advertisement. As we never see her face she is the archetypal generous and slightly mysterious old lady. With the help of her special tin she can make what you are thinking appear in the form of one of the large range of Mr Kipling cakes. The fact that each cake is offered on a tiny old fashioned tea plate is so grannyish too. This charming advertisement conjures up the epitome of happy childhood days and the simple pleasure of...

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NaNoWriMo from the heart of Cheveley

Posted in Reviews | 12 comments

NaNoWriMo from the heart of Cheveley

What is NaNoWriMo? It’s a project that has almost seduced me for a few years now. Run from Berkley, California this is a project designed to get people writing. In their own words@NaNoWriMo Berkeley, CANational Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. The goal: write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November.You can check out the details here http://www.nanowrimo.org. I’ve been toying with writing a novel for the last few months. I don’t have a subject, genre or plot so the thought has wafted...

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Dealing with an invasion of mice

Posted in Reviews, Wildlife | 39 comments

Dealing with an invasion of mice

This hugely sentimental (yet brilliantly airbrushed) photo that I discovered on the Internet indicates that I’m a bit ambivalent about mice. I love them, enjoy observing their balletic antics but do not want them rampaging in our kitchen. If they slept in their beds at night and went elsewhere for their food they would be more than welcome. We live in racehorse country, land packed with studs and stables that are magnetic to mice. Loads of free food, warmth and a rural environment. We also keep chickens. The sum of horse country and...

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We are now the proud owners of a Kelly Kettle

Posted in Allotment, Reviews, Save Money | 14 comments

We are now the proud owners of a Kelly Kettle

Suddenly at the Milton Keynes get together, Jean and Roy (aka Gottaknit and Seth) stepped forward and offered me a large mysterious object – wrapped in a dustbin liner with a very tight knot. “Here is a late birthday present Fiona. You’ll need this on the allotment!” The package was bulky. As I struggled to open the parcel I wondered what was inside. I could feel cardboard and something hard. Could it be metal? Some sort of feeder? Imagine my delight when I finally peeped inside the box and found a Kelly Kettle lying on a nest of twigs...

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