Blog Survey – Some Highlights

As regular readers will know I ran a blog survey during February. It’s the second year that I’ve done so, with an aim to see what it is that people like about the blog (and dislike), their favourite types of posts and a few other things.

I sat down yesterday to go through the results, and to randomly pick the winner of the £10 Amazon voucher, which has now been sent to them.

Thanks to everyone who took part, I’d like to have sent everyone a voucher as a thank you, but that would have been a trifle expensive! So if you didn’t win, thanks for helping me out with your time and views.

So some highlights from the survey.

Q. How long have you been reading this blog?

It seems things are pretty evenly split with half of respondents having been reading for 2 or more years, and the other half, a year or less.

Q. Which post types do you like the most?

There’s quite a bit of detail in the answers here, as I asked you to rank your answers in order of preference. However by far and away the most popular are allotment and gardening posts, followed in a close second by Quick Links, with cooking posts coming third.

Q. What media do you prefer in posts?

Text was the most popular answer here, with a mix of text and video or pictures a close second.

Q. What would you like to see in the future?

Again this question has a lot of detail, as it also asked you to rank from a lot less to a lot more. It seems though, that most people are happy with the post types as they are, although again allotment and gardening posts, and Quick Links were asked for “a little more” or “a lot more” in a few responses, as were nature posts.

This is one of the most important set of responses for me in helping shape future content. I’m pleased that it seems most people are happy with the balance at the moment, but obviously I can write more in those areas that seem more popular going forward.

Q. I’m thinking of starting a monthly (or possibly weekly) newsletter. This is likely to replace the Quick Links weekly posts. It would require an email subscription rather than being something that would appear by default on the blog.Would you be interested in signing up this?

Nearly everybody said yes. I have to say I’m not sure when this will happen, but it does seem that there is a demand for it. I’ll be giving this some serious thought over the coming days, so stay tuned!

Q. Demographics

I asked a couple of demography questions which I’ll aggregate a little here. The age group of my readers spans from 25 to 55 and is evenly split between male and female.

Obviously this is based solely on those that completed the survey and answered these questions (there was a “prefer not to say” option here, which a few people used, which is fine with me). So the actual answers might be different.

So there you have it. Thanks again to all those of you who took the time to complete the survey, and also thank you for being a reader of this blog.

Old School

When I was sorting through some of my Dad’s old paperwork, I found a folder in his filing cabinet with my name on it. Inside were a lot of my old school and college reports. I hadn’t realised that he’d kept them (although possibly given his filing system he may not have realised that they were still there).

I pulled a few out at random and it reminds me pretty much of how I felt about school and college. Latterly I didn’t really enjoy school very much, although college was much more interesting to me (probably because I was specialising in the subjects that were of most interest to me). My teachers seemed to think I was good in class but not very good at exams (which is pretty much how I remembered it).

I’m not sure whether or not I’ll keep them, for now they’re back in the filing cabinet.

Blog Survey

This post is pinned to the top of the blog. Scroll Down for more recent content.

Just over a year ago I ran a short survey of what you the readers thought of my blog. I made some changes as a result of that survey, so I thought it was about time that I ran the survey again to see what you think of those changes, and the blog in general.

It’s a short survey and should take less than five minutes to complete. If you do complete it, you can enter yourself into a draw for a £10 Amazon e-voucher. The survey will be open through February 2017, and the draw will take place after the survey closes.

Thanks for helping me out, and I look forward to hearing what you think.

Click here to take the survey.

Cauliflower Cheese


Cauliflower cheese is one of my favourite dishes for a cold winter’s evening. Here’s a recipe for how I make it – there are of course plenty of others out there.

You’ll need:

  • 1 largish cauliflower (will make enough for 3 to 4 people, depending on appetite)
  • 1 and 1/2 pints of milk (semi-skimmed is fine)
  • 100g butter
  • 100g flour
  • 200 – 300g of grated cheddar cheese (or similar)
  • 4 to 6 eggs (hard boiled)
  • 2 teaspoons of English mustard
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Nutmeg
  1. If your eggs aren’t already hard boiled start off by bringing them to a boil in a pan of water, and boil for about 10 mins. You can do this while cooking the cauliflower, and making the sauce.2017-01-17-17-23-08
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C(160°C fan), Gas 4 or 5.
  3. Strip down the cauliflower to individual florets, wash and place in a pan of water, and bring to a boil.2017-01-17-17-23-04
  4. Place the butter in another pan over a medium heat. Once melted add the flour, and combine to a smooth paste.
  5. 2017-01-17-17-27-25Add a little of the milk and stir into the flour/butter paste, again until smooth. Repeat this once or twice more with a little milk each time. Finally add all of the remaining milk and continue to stir. Keep stirring until the sauce begins to thicken (you may find it helpful to use a small whisk at this point rather than a spoon), stir continuously to prevent any lumps forming.
  6. As the sauce thickens, add the mustard, salt & pepper and stir in.
  7. Next add about three-quarters of the cheese a little at the time, and allow it to combine with the sauce, keep stirring!
  8. Turn off the heat under the sauce. Drain the cauliflower, removing as much water as possible, and tip into the cheese sauce, and mix to coat all of the cauliflower with the sauce. Put the lid onto this pan to retain the heat.
  9. Take the hard boiled eggs, shell them and cut in half. Place them in the bottom of an oven proof dish.2017-01-17-17-43-10
  10. Tip the cheese and cauliflower mixture on top of the eggs. Grate a little nutmeg over the top, and cover with the remaining cheese.
  11. Cook in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until the cheese on top is a golden brown and the sauce is bubbling.
  12. Serve on it’s own or with some crusty bread.


We have weather warnings for ice and snow. In fact I don’t remember a time when I’ve had so many warnings.

So far we’ve had rain. I’m waiting to see what happens.

A little snow would be nice, as most of my “snow” pictures are over six years old now.

Not This Mornings Weather!
Not This Mornings Weather!

Autumn Arriving

The mornings are starting to feel a little chillier now, there’s a regular morning breeze that’s been absent for a while, and the days are shortening. It’s now dark in the mornings when I get up, and the sun is down again by nine o’clock in the evening. I’m wearing long trousers again and my shorts are only coming out if the mercury rises high enough.

Last week I was watching swallows and house martins, diving and wheeling across the playing fields near my house, flying incredibly low, trying to catch insects. It won’t be much longer before they head South and I’m assuming that this is their last chance to stock up before they leave.

Swallows catching insects before they head south
Swallows catching insects before they head south

I actually like autumn and welcome it’s arrival, although it signals a change, it’s full of vibrant colours and there is still a little warmth left from the summer months around to convince me that the sun is quite done yet.

Quick Links 26th July 2016

Each week I’ll try and post quick links to things that I’ve seen, read, inspired me or just sparked my interest in the previous week, with a little background and my thoughts and other things that I’ve been up to in the previous week. Mostly gardening, cooking and environmental stuff but not always.

A Week In Wildlife – In Pictures

Currently Reading

Normal Pt. 2 by Warren Ellis [GoodReads] I’m really enjoying this 4-part novella from Warren Ellis. It comes out on a Tuesday, so by the time you read this, part 3 will be served up to my kindle. It’s well written, and works so well as a multi-part story, I think this makes it even better than releasing the story all in one go. Still time to catch up if you fancy it, but make sure you start with Part 1!

The Fellowship of the Ring by J R R Tolkein [GoodReads] Maybe it’s the hot summer weather, but I’ve been a bit nostalgic for books that I read when I was younger over the school summer holidays. This is a reread, from when I was about 12 or 13 I’d guess. I read many of Tolkein’s books during my school summer holidays, starting with The Hobbit when I was still at primary school.

I’ve always been a Star Trek fan, so this looks interesting:

Daily Harvest

2016-06-18 11.29.09

I’m harvesting daily on the allotment at the moment. I haven’t purchased any green vegetables, potatoes or lettuce from the store in some time, in fact I think the only thing that I have been regularly buying as fresh produce is mushrooms (I don’t grow them), radish (I’ve had a total crop failure this year), tomatoes (mine aren’t ready) and cucumber (harvested the first one this morning, so not going to be buying any next week). I love it.

All of this wonderful food, grown by me and eaten by my family (with a nod to the slugs and pigeons who help themselves!). It got me to thinking about the savings on the shopping bill, which are noticeable, but then what has it actually cost me? Well I think this is maybe something I’m going to look at in detail next year, because it’s a complicated equation for the allotment. It’s not just the cost of the seed / plants, but also things like netting to protect the plants from the pigeons, cabbage collars etc. etc. and putting a figure on my time is difficult.

Ultimately it’s not just about the monetary value though. It’s about other issues.
Trace-ability of the produce for example, I know exactly what has happen to everything I grow from the moment I planted the seed / plant to the time it’s been harvested. I know exactly how fresh it is from the moment it’s harvested to the time it appears on the plate and I know how it’s been processed and prepared. These are things that it is very easy for me to track, but probably nigh on impossible for a store to be able to do the same to the level of detail that I have. For me though these are some of the most important elements. I have my own fully traceable plot nearly on my doorstep and it’s putting food on my plate daily at the moment, and I’m trying to stretch this to a longer season all the time. My biggest challenge is deciding what to eat next!