The Good Life…

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I am a country girl and always have been. I’ve dipped my toes into many different locations: city, suburbia and the sticks. I was raised in the middle of nowhere, literally. (We were one of four cottages situated along a mile-long dirt track, a couple of miles from the nearest shop and surrounded on all sides by fields and cows. Idyllic apart from the odd run-in with a bullock and a runaway hay bale… yes, really!) Went to university and lived several subsequent years in Clifton (a whirlwind of socialising offset by frugality), and then spent my early married days living on the outskirts of Bristol in a suburban cul-de-sac. Since child #1 was born in 2003 I have lived in no less than 8 different houses and have become very adept at turning wherever I lay my metaphorical hat into my home.

All different locations have pros and cons to them, in the city there is lots to do but there was always noise and traffic, in the suburbs there is great amenities particularly for young families but at times I felt like I was living in a goldfish bowl and in the countryside it is for the most part peaceful and calm but daily necessities are often a car journey away.

We moved, hopefully for the final time or at the very least the foreseeable future, to a beautiful little village nearly two years ago. Our home, a replacement farmhouse, was built in the 1960s and is in need of some major TLC, we are currently averaging the renovation of a room a year, and have just received approval to build an extension, (blended family + three bedrooms + one bathroom = early morning chaos), so there is lots to be done and very little time in which to do it. But, I am once again surrounded by fields and cattle, have views of a forest on the horizon, a village pond complete with ducks 50 yards up the road, a stunning lake a cycle ride away and a great village pub within walking distance. I have to admit I really do feel at home and the most at peace I’ve ever been in terms of location, location, location. Interestingly it is also the only home I have ever resided in where I have ever felt real fear or intrusion ( we were burgled six months after moving in, I returned home to discover it alone… A very unpleasant and upsetting time which luckily has become more of a distant memory now). Yet even with that, there is nowhere in the world I would rather be.

When we moved in I made a vow to myself to become the Barbara Good of our family and to live off the land where I could. I wanted to live sustainably. I spent hours lovingly tending to the veggie patch that was knee deep in weeds; finding and foraging amongst the undergrowth rhubarb, rosemary, chives and strawberries. I planted a blueberry bush, trimmed back the brambles from the blackberries ready for their appearance in the coming months and decided in my infinite wisdom that what we were lacking in this quest for sustainability was chickens!!

Enter Ivy, Christina, Mo and Craig (never again will I allow teenagers to name our pets!):

I love our chickens, they are amusing to watch, cuddly to hold and provide us with delicious eggs every day, ideal for feeding half a dozen for dinner. But to every decision is a consequence, to every ying there is a yang… Wait, where is that pesky pecking chicken headed?

Get. Out. Of. The. Strawberries!!!

Yes, that’s right. The chickens have eaten my vegetable patch. They’ve eaten the strawberries and the blueberries, every last sustainable bite… In fact, they have eaten the entire back garden!

Can you see the desecrated garden in the background? The lack of green green grass? The giant mud and dust bath they have created? We long since fenced off the vegetable patch, turns out chickens can jump and fly much higher than I realised! Here is Ivy calling by at the kitchen window to say hello, several times they have peered through the cat flap in the back door and even ventured over the threshold into the utility room… Our chickens most definitely rule the roost! But they do produce the most delicious yellow-yoked eggs and I’m sure this is due to their free-range, country living. So one of the jobs on the list for the summer months is to gradually fence off sections of the garden and to re-sow the garden. Although right now I believe I am providing Mr HDD a service, at least he doesn’t need to venture into the back garden with the lawn mower, that’s a gift surely? πŸ™‚

Let me share with you a delicious recipe I made from some home-grown produce from my parent’s garden, who are still residing in my childhood home, of course I used our cheeky chicken’s eggs, natch!

ForΒ the Lemon Courgette Cake

  • 200g grated courgette
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 200g plain flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Juice and zest of 1 lemon

For the (optional) Frosting

  • 250g cream cheese/Philadelphia
  • 200g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

The Method

  1. Preheat oven to 160c. Grease and line a loaf tin.
  2. In one bowl beat together the courgette, sugar, egg and oil.
  3. In a second bowl sift together the flour, salt, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder before stirring in the cinnamon and lemon zest.
  4. Stir the bowl of dry ingredients into the courgette mixture, add the lemon juice (this loaf can be as tangy and lemony as you desire) and stir together until just blended.
  5. Pour the cake mixture into the loaf tin and bake for approximately 45 minutes. Until a knife comes out clean when inserted into the middle of the cake. Cool the cake for at least 10 minutes in the tin before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.
  6. Smother with the topping of your choice, in this case lemon cream cheese frosting and flecks of lemon zest, ( Just combine the frosting ingredients, adding more icing sugar if the frosting is too runny). Alternatively you could add a drizzle of lemony glace icing or even present the cake naked and near healthy!

I’m pretty sure that a slice of this constitutes one of your five a day? πŸ˜‰

And I’ll keep you posted on the veggie/fruit patch. I am naively kidding myself that one day soon a blueberry or a strawberry will appear… If only I can nab it before the pilfering poultry!!

Happy Eating!

HDD xoxo

Tentatively and for the first time linking up with #HomeEtc

I do hope you enjoy my blog if you are visiting for the first time and if you feel so inclined… Like and Comment!

Home Etc

 

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22 thoughts on “The Good Life…

  1. Yay so glad you chose City Country Life to link up to! I too have lived in the city and the countryside. Although the cities I’ve lived in haven’t been in this country, I still prefer the country town. You’ve explained the differences so well. Your hens sound like pickles!! Looking forward to seeing your journey to sustainable living too. Lizzie #CityCountryLife

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  2. We had such different upbringings! I’m a through and through city girl which has caused plenty of amusement while I’ve been trying to adapt! We did have ducks though in our garden, messy and noisy things but their eggs were nice! We are similar in that I’ve lived in so many houses though – one of the disadvantages of being married into the army for a while, but I hope we can settle after one more move. You’ll have to teach me though, I want a vegetable patch but wouldn’t know where to start! Cake looks amazing πŸ™‚ xx

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  3. The Lemon Courgette cake surely counts as two of your five a day, I would say πŸ™‚ It looks and sounds amazing, I need to give it ago. Love your description of City/suburb/country life, I’m a city girl and I thrive off the hustle and bustle of city life but I do like to escape from it all from time to time. Thank you so much for joining in with #CityCountryLife and hope you link up with us again soon (I’m hosting from tomorrow)
    Becca xx

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  4. Hi there, I just wanted to stop by and say a quick “hello”! Our mutual friend (Karen R) showed me your lovely blog. She mentioned that you’re also working on a book? I go to a writers group in Wells on the first Tuesday of every month, they’ve got a FB page (Wells Writers Group). They’re a lovely bunch, so if you ever fancy joining us there to chat about writerly stuff then do come along!

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  5. I love the IDEA of chickens because well, eggs. And chicken. But, I can’t quite bring myself to not be a bit freaked out by them!! I would love to think that we could keep some but I would have to be assured that someone else would ‘go near’ them and I could just enjoy the fruits of their labour πŸ˜‰ The cake looks gooooood though! xx

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    1. Ha ha, even with the eggs every once in a while I must admit to feeling a bit… freaked out by them! It just the biology of it all! But then I get over it and enjoy the delicious cakes they help to make! xx

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  6. Hahaha!! This made me LAUGH!!!! Craig???? Craig the chicken!! Ha! Love it! πŸ™‚ And yes β€” they’re a nightmare in spring/summer aren’t they? Ours get banished to their compound as soon as the fruit and veg starts growing! I’m just the same β€” am TOTALLY channelling Barbara Goode. I lived in London for 15 years but am SO happy since we moved to the country πŸ™‚ Thanks so much for linking up with us! Caro x #HomeEtc

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    1. Ha ha! That’s what you get when you allow a 17 year old boy to name a pet, think he may have totally missed the biology of a chicken! I’ve def got a few more lessons to learn in my quest for animal husbandry! πŸ™‚ Tamsin x

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  7. I am with you! I feel so much more relaxed and happier in the countryside than the city – and have always gone for a rural setting. Not quite as remote as you, but within walks, country pubs and a local shop. That cake looks superb. Thanks for sharing & linking up! Love Jess xx

    #HomeEtc

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    1. I love it where we live, and I love the remote-ness. The walks are stunning and the pub is very cool (weirdly a bit of a celeb-spotting den!), but the one thing we are lacking is a shop! We have a dairy with an honesty box if you run short of milk, cream or yoghurts… I’m not sure that could be anymore local-yocal! xx

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