Location: East Ruston, Norfolk, United Kingdom

About us, Dermot and Sue Allen and our dog friendly holiday cottages. We started with the Old Forge running it for friends in 2005. In 2007/8 we were able to develop our own holiday accommodation, The Old Piggery. The Garden Room was added, belonging to another friend and the success of these prompted a further request to add Red Roofs at Hickling which has been doing very well. In 2012 we are embarking on our next project, New Barn. It isn't new at all (approx 180 years old) but it will be a fabulous new addition to our dog friendly holiday accommodation. Keep watching this space....!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

October is the new September!

Well, September didn't really come up to its usual promise - those wonderful, high cloud sunny days that are damp and cool in the morning and crisp in the evening. Instead it was cloudy and a bit damp, but warm. At least I was able to sow the Old Piggery 'lawn'. After much raking out of stones and stuff and the addition of a several barrow loads of garden compost I was able to broadcast a flurry of grass seed. I fenced it off with hazard tape (sorry to all those riding past on spooky horses!) - which the wind promptly blew to bits in no time but it blew the birds off it too and in about a week there was a definite green sheen to the ground.

October is, so far, providing the promise that September failed to deliver.

(View from behind the house.)

Inside the Old Piggery the wiring and plumbing work was finished in preparation for the underfloor heating pipes to go in, after a cement base is laid over the insulation. The weather has been good enough for the guys to get some pointing work done too. And the chimney is finished with a pot on top.

With the ditching of a couple of jobs (Tescos can probably cope without my efforts behind the customer service desk on a Thursday night. The Parish Council don't seem to be best pleased that I want out but I am sure they will cope!) , in preparation for the Piggery holiday business, I seem to have a little bit more spare time to spend on, amongst other things, picking the hedgerow fruit with a view to making cakes, jams and liquers. Got a particularly interesting batch of plum and blackberry brandy on the go! Looking forward to getting another batch of sloe gin stewing soon. Oh, the cakes and jams? They'll come later. First things first!

Regularly visiting the local Farmers' Markets now that Tescos is an employer of the past and I am aiming to buy even more local food than before. Came back this morning with a fabulous selection of fresh veg - little beetroot for roasting, superbly fresh carrots, purple kale, cauliflower and some thin sweet peppers. As usual, bought a bag of Sue Andrews mixed salad - no more expensive and certainly much more tasty and fresh than anything you can get in the supermarket. The fish man was there - always get smoked haddock from him. He had sold out of my favourite smoked haddock pasties (and I was only there an hour after opening - the best stuff goes quick!) but had a sea trout left, still all glossy eyed, so I bought that for supper tonight. My 'meat' friends - Mick and Pauline from Mallow Farm Organics - had a queue. I bought a load of meat direct from their farm last week so didn't need to join it. I was just steeling myself against the temptations of the bakery stall when I turned round and saw.....a handmade chocolate stall! Oh dear. Just not physically able to steel myself against that! The friendly girl serving said it was their first week and offered me a taster. Lavender and something lovely. The chocolate was dark, rich and there was plenty of it to combat the intense flavours of the fillings. I bought one of each loose to try (who am I kidding? to guzzle down myself at the earliest available opportunity!) They could make a very pleasant addition to the welcome tray for the holiday cottages. I counteracted such indulgence with a selection of rare type apples from the lovely Andrea Lyons from Burnells Farm in East Ruston. Her husband Nick is a very talented artist

and also the cause of one of my greatest regrets! He had a landscape of our cottage and the barn, long before it was a twinkle in our mortgage (less of a twinkle maybe, more a black hole!) It was beautiful and not expensive but I just didn't have that sort of money to spare at the time so I didn't buy it. And somebody else did. And then I changed my mind and it was too late. And now we don't have that painted record of how the buildings were. Damn and blast my parsimony.

One last purchase, another first timer at the market. All the way from near Harleston (but that is still Norfolk so it counts) - a lovely selection of free range chicken and beef. I only bought a couple of chicken breasts - well aware that in the next couple of weeks we will be swapping some of our lamb for some Blickling beef and possibly some Marlingford pork. And I have to clear the freezer of the pheasant and grouse before the start of the shooting season. But I was sorely tempted by the most glorious rib of beef - a dish fit for the hugest, carnivorous dinner party.

I waddled round one of the antique/bric a brac shops in the high street, careful not to knock china off stands with my carrot tops sticking out of the basket! I could have bought any number of things for the Piggery/Forge/Gothic Cottage but refrained - where would I put more stuff??!!
Except I just had to have a little wooden egg tray. Could double as a really nice candle holder....


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