The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


The Andrew James Halogen oven has been updated and improved: a review

Posted in Kitchen equipment, Reviews, Save Money | 25 comments

The Andrew James Halogen oven has been updated and improved: a review

We bought our Andrew James halogen oven  in February 2010. Halogen oven are plug in devices that use a fraction of the electricity consumed by a large fan oven. That was the reason why we invested in one. If you can fill your conventional oven every time that you use it , fair enough. But what if you just want to bake a pie, bake some spuds or rustle up some oven chips? If you buy something that is a relatively new invention/model there are bound to be a few teething problems. Product testing probably extends to just a few months. It’s...

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River Cottage Veg Everyday! by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. A review.

Posted in Reviews, Save Money, Vegetables | 16 comments

River Cottage Veg Everyday! by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. A review.

One of the key reasons for getting an allotment was to have the space to grow more fruit and vegetables. Energy prices are rising and this ultimately affects the cost of food. By concentrating on growing as much of our food as possible we could eat a healthier diet, cut costs and reduce our carbon footprint. But if we were to eat more vegetables where would we begin? How could we produce good, tasty, satisfying food? Most of the vegetarian dishes that I’ve tasted over the years have not been very good. Admittedly I first dallied with veggie...

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MyFarm – The National Trust’s innovative new project at Wimpole Home Farm

Posted in Reviews | 3 comments

MyFarm – The National Trust’s innovative new project at Wimpole Home Farm

As you know, I’ve been interested in farming since the age of 9. Back then it was fantasy farming centred around my toy farm – the sprawling estate was located on a conveniently patterned carpet in my bedroom. I visited Wimpole Home Farm with Seraphina at Easter this year. Along with hundreds of others we saw day old lambs and teeny piglets – the latest progeny of the sheep and pigs that are being raised at Wimpole. We watched the shire horses, the long horned cattle and examined the old carts and ancient farming machinery in the...

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Minding My Peas and Cucumbers: Quirky Tales of Allotment Life

Posted in Gardening, Reviews | 3 comments

Minding My Peas and Cucumbers: Quirky Tales of Allotment Life

I’ve often wondered what it’s actually like to have an allotment. Is it social and companionable? Competitive or relaxed? I suppose that every allotment site, like all disparate communities, has their own individual characteristics and quirks. So I was delighted to receive a copy of Minding My Peas and Cucumbers: Quirky Tales of Allotment Life  by Kay Sexton. This brilliant book opens the lid on the allotmenteering experience. Tempting recipes and valuable tips are thrown into the mix – providing a more down to earth chorus to balance...

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How to easily reproof outdoor clothes

Posted in Reviews, Save Money | 9 comments

How to easily reproof outdoor clothes

I have a gorgeous red jacket that I bought from TKMaxx a few years ago. Back in the 20th century this would have been called an anorak. I loved my first anorak – blue quilted with a white fur trim around the hood. But by the time I was in my teens I wouldn’t be seen dead or even dragged about half alive in one. “It’s just a jacket,” my mum soothed. For me denim jackets were the thing. I didn’t care if I got wet – surely the denim would weather nicely if I got caught in a shower? Chills? Only weedy people and me on a Wednesday...

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The Google Redirect Virus: a great site that can help you kill it for good

Posted in Reviews | 12 comments

The Google Redirect Virus: a great site that can help you kill it for good

Computer health is something that most of us take for granted. Especially if you have bought and installed a reputable anti virus software and spyware programme  – McAfee in my case. This programme chugs away daily – updating and searching and protecting. Having paid your annual subscription you can relax. Wrong. A few weeks ago I began having problems with browsing. I’d click on one site and be redirected to another – Toronto Real Estate, motor parts, shopping selection sites and so on. This started to drive me nuts. I jumped...

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Five £50 Homebase vouchers up for grabs in our Grand Draw

Posted in Reviews | 138 comments

Five £50 Homebase vouchers up for grabs in our Grand Draw

We’re delighted to have teamed up with Homebase to run this Grand Draw. The five lucky winners will each receive a £50 Homebase voucher. The vouchers can be used throughout the store. As you know, they have a huge range of other products too. However frugal I try to be each year I always need to invest in supplies for the cottage and garden. Compost and seeds are an annual outlay along with tools to increase our ability to be more self sufficient. Our nearest home and garden store is Homebase and I always enjoy pottering about in there and...

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How to unblock a drain. Tips and tricks for the self sufficient.

Posted in Reviews, Save Money | 22 comments

How to unblock a drain. Tips and tricks for the self sufficient.

When I stepped out of the car this morning I noticed a large puddle in the drive. “It must have rained hard when I was out.” I thought. Then I noticed the seepage from the drain cover and that pervasive smell. Sewage. This is not a leave until later job. Raw sewage seeping down the drive is a health hazard. Most city dwellers have to call in a Drain Cleaning Company – with an impressive van and expensive jet cleaning equipment. Even though they are wearing overalls they don’t really need to get their hands dirty. Just lever off the...

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