Thursday, 23 August 2012

A Little Layer

Our new hen, Custard, is just a little bantam hen and there was concern that she may feel a little overwhelmed by the masses of larger hens, not to mention the cockerel! But it appears that she has settled in perfectly and is happy enough to lay us a little show of appreciation. I have never seen a bantam egg before and they are very cute! I am kind of keen to add a few bantams to our collection, although I am also after quail too! I shall become 'that crazy woman with all the birds'!

The other hen has had to be separated unfortunately. The cockerel was getting too aggressive and she was getting stressed. She now has her own run, within the main run, and has settled right in. I return her to the coop at night for safety and back to her run during the day. This is hopefully not a permanent arrangement, I am hoping that with slow, careful steps we can make a better and successful introduction down the road, and harmony shall reign again!!

Saturday, 11 August 2012

It's Buttering Time!

There has been some interest in the butter making, many people like me who thought it would be a whole lot harder than it was. I can assure you it is easy and I am going to show you exactly how easy it is!

You only need three things to make butter, and one of those you could probably live without! I have here one tub of double cream, one jar and one spatula. For nice quick results I would recommend leaving your cream out of the fridge overnight before starting this. It is possible to make butter from cold cream straight from the fridge but your shaking time will be longer.

Pour your cream into your jar and put the lid on tight. Now just shake it! You don't need to be violent, just regular. Obviously if you want to shake it like a crazed person then go don't let me stop you! But if you are using cold cream then you could be churning for a while!

The cream will gloop about for a while and then all will go quiet and it will feel like you are shaking a small brick. Keep going! After a while you will begin to see yellow flecks in the cream, this is the first of the butter. Keep shaking!!

The final stage happens suddenly. There will be a sloshing and the butter will quickly appear, floating in its own little sea of buttermilk.  Give it a few extra shoogles for luck and your butter is formed.

It is now necessary to wash your butter, so you can either head down to the cool mountain stream that meanders at the foot of your garden or, failing that, the kitchen tap is fine.  The aim of this stage is to remove any buttermilk that remains, from the butter.  Buttermilk in the mix will cause your butter to go rancid quickly.

Washing it is just as it sounds.  Use cold, cold water, else your butter will melt and disappear!  Take the butter in one hand and squash it gently with the fingers of the other hand, under the running water.  You want to keep this up until the water runs clear.  I found putting a bowl under the flow as this made it easier to see when the water went clear.

Once you have clean butter you are essentially done, you can add salt if you wish, just knead it through, I didn't bother.  Butter freezes well, I popped the butter into a small block shaped mould I had and froze it in there, then I take it out, wrap in baking parchment and back in the freezer.

This isn't a money saver if you buy the cream full price BUT if you want to save money with your efforts then the thing to do would be to watch the reduced aisle of your supermarket.  Cream that is 'on the brink' can be radically reduced and is perfect for butter making, you can then freeze the butter and ta daaaa saved money! Hopefully!

Enjoy your butter making!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

It Always Tastes Better...

Monday and Tuesday this week have been filled with two small bursts of pleasure.  On Monday I decided that it was time to get back to basics and make some bread.  I have a bread machine, my striving for a more traditional way of life is not without its need for speed and convenience.  And, come on, even when using a machine you are still making the bread yourself, no additives and no 'what's in this' concerns.  

But this Monday I decided to go back even further and do the whole thing by hand.  While I was kneading away at the dough and staring out at the lashing rain (we had some sun last week, what's the complaining!) I was taken, not only by how sore my arms were, but that in the not-so-long ago people got up near enough every day and made bread, just like this!  

I have to admit to a certain pleasure in looking out at rain, particularly when there are people in it, knowing that I am nice and warm inside.  And that day I had the added feeling that while others worried about buses, trains and deadlines I was just kneading and staring, there was no hurry in this it would be done when it was done, I couldn't hurry it even if I wanted to.  This had its own deadline and I was just along for the ride.

My attempts at hand made bread have been hit or miss in the past and I was quite nervous about the rising stage, that's when I murder a bread loaf!  I have rising issues!  So for the hour and a half I left it to rise I couldn't help but keep peeking over at the bowl with its damp cloth hat.  Finally, the feeling of relief, and a little pride, that came upon me when I saw that the cloth was forming a little mound in the centre! Huzzah!

Then the slightly nerve racking but fun procedure of punching out the air, after all my success in the rising I have to destroy it.  Hour and a half up, 5 seconds down.  I made two loaves, a standard loaf and a fancy plait thing which I brushed with herby butter before cooking.  After the punching and forming another hour was required while they rose again under their cloth.  This time it was harder to see the rising - was it that high before?

I had no need to worry it was perfectly risen and ready for the oven.  After cooking the house smelled great and we had fresh bread for snaking and dinner!

The full procedure from cupboard to bread board took about 3 hours, if I had been wanting this for breakfast I'd have been up at 5am!  4am if Farm Guy had wanted some for his breakfast! I couldn't do it, not every day!  Hats off to the people of the past.

My desire for the perfect homemade snack was not over however.  A call to farm guy to buy double cream on his way home was sent forth and duly he returned that evening with it.  One carton was placed on the kitchen side and to bed we went...

Next morning our room temperature cream was placed into a jar and the shaking began.  I had feared a morning of jar shaking, rolling, flinging with no result but in only a few minutes the butter was there, floating in a little sea of buttermilk.  After some rinsing and patting we had butter!  The whole process was so fast, I knew the theory but apart from an experiment in Primary 2 (about 6 years old) I had never tried it myself.  I didn't bother to salt it just left it as it was, yellow and yummy!  I know have a reason to use the beautiful butter dish my mum gave me, no butter so far has quite been good enough for it, but this shall take pride of place! 

I had asked Farm Guy to remember the price, which was 60p, for the tub of cream and we managed 74g of butter, nope no saving there!  But we don't use butter often, I use marg-y stuff for cooking so this butter would do us for toast and sandwiches, times when we can enjoy the butter for itself.  It came out at snack time with the loaf of bread.  There is something quite satisfying and, as a mum, comforting in watching your little one eating, and thoroughly enjoying with fistful happiness, something which you have not only made yourself but you know what is in practically everything she is eating.  Now, if I could just get cream from a cow then it would be 100% known ingredients.  Here.. mooey mooey mooooo.....!

Friday, 27 July 2012

New To You

What a week!!An acquaintance of ours came to us with an offer/request. He had chickens but was down to only two, for various reasons, so had decided that he wanted to call it a day.  He was looking for a new home for these last remaining two so asked if we could take them on.

Of course we said yes!

He has no idea what type they are or anything, they could easily be crosses but they are apparently very friendly and great layers.

They seem to be getting on fine with our bunch!

That takes us to seventeen......


Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Meh! Meeeeehhhhh!!!

It's official, we can call ourselves a farm, smallholding, general cool place! 

We have goats!!

After much preparation for goaty arrival, ad searching, paddock making and all the other fah-de-lah, we managed to find the perfect pair.  These two lovely ladies are Angora goats who were in need of a new home as their owner really didn't have the space for the two little escape artists!  They are eight years young and have beautiful personalities!

It all happened very fast, as I have noticed things do for us when it is the right move!  We heard about them on the Wednesday, visited on Saturday afternoon, showed their mum and dad what we had to offer them Saturday night, discussions and chatting and Sunday morning they arrived. 

They are keeping out of the fabulous Scottish summer at the moment, in a cozy stable, which also gives us all a chance to get to know each other better.  

Their paddock needs a fence propping up as a Shetland Pony decided that if the fence is too high to lean over to get the grass, squish it!  As soon as we have a new fence post in then the girls will get their first glimpse of their new field!

They are very friendly, especially if you have a carrot or two and Farm Toddler (the artist formally know as Farm Baby!) adores them, with an announcement of 'Goats.  See um! See um!' Every few minutes.  At which point a carrot is prepared and visit ensues!

We hope these two ladies enjoy their new forever home and give us many years of pleasure!

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Among The Weeds

We had summer here in Scotland, I think it was last Wednesday, about 12 o'clock! Apart from that it has rained pretty much solidly since time began! As a result my trips to the veggie patch have been few and far between - big mistake! All this rain is prime weed growing weather and in our patch in particular this is not good! (For those new to the veggie patch, we reclaimed the area from a field and have been fighting the decades of established weeds ever since!)

Well, at the first sight of sunshine down the patch I went and the weeds were chest high, you quite literally pushed through until you unceremoniously dropped out into the actual veggie garden patches!  These had stayed surprisingly weed free, our laborious weeding had paid off, just the rest that may contain tigers!  The raspberry patch I had basically given up on this year.  Essentially, right it off and try to save it later, but through the dock leaf plants, which grew higher than the raspberries (see photo), I spotted red and went in to investigate.  Our little raspberries had persevered through the weedy onslaught and were producing like crazy.  I spent an hour digging them out and hacking through weeds and old raspberry canes (hangs head, I didn't prune last year  :O(  ) and came out with over a kilo of raspberries with the promise of more!!!
Well done little plants!  Goes to show what I have always thought if I just leave plants well alone they get on a whole lot better than when I faff about with them!!!!

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Quick Update...

On Friday our little hen emerged with a second chick. I made a check of her nest while she was away and there was some sad news. 

 It appears that the third egg was broken, it must have been only a day or so before, and the chick inside hadn't made it. I suppose it is possible that the fact one chick came early meant there was a lot of movement in the nest that the other two could have lived without in the final stages.

However, the two survivors are doing well and mum is very proud (and, yes, so am I!) They are good little learners and she is a great teacher. Pecking lessons have commenced and both chicks appear to be excelling! 

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Meet the Newest Farm Member

This afternoon marks a momentous occasion for the farm and it's chicken stock. Our broody hen has hatched her first chick and our farm's first animal birth!

She was sitting on five eggs but is down to three now as she discarded two over her sitting time. This chick arrives on the twentieth day of sitting so hopefully we shall see the others come along tomorrow. Even if we don't she is still our little hero hen.

So far she is seeming to be a good mum, protective but not overly so. She is letting the chick explore whilst still keeping an eye on it and helping it scratch and peck.

The other hens are very interested too, there is much queuing along the fence line to take a look at the new arrival and mummy hen seems happy to show off her one man brood!

Fingers crossed for her other two eggs as we go into tomorrow.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Chicks A-Plenty

About a week ago I discovered a hen showing signs of broodiness. I set up her own little area of the pen and successfully moved her and her five eggs across. She has since been sitting well but I am glad that she also appears to be looking after herself, coming out to eat and drink and stretch her legs. I hope that is a sign that she is going to be a good sensible mother.

Fingers crossed for the 2nd of May, that's the expected hatch date, - ish!

We have also opened up the top paddock to our hens as it is dog proofed. Unfortunately it wasn't totally chicken proofed as last evening they had got through into the neighbouring field and couldn't get back. Some chicken round up was required.

I have been out today in the rain trying to chicken proof the area. Hope it should be okay now!

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Happy Easter All

Hope everyone had a good Easter weekend whatever you got up to!

We had a lovely day out on the Saturday with family. Picnic at our local park with lots of food. A walk for farm Dog. Playing on the swings and see saw and a trip on a miniature railway for farm baby and grandad!

I took a shot at making some Easter cupcakes for the day out. Creme Egg ones and marshmallow sheep! They came out better than I expected, my decorating skills aren't the best! They tasted pretty good too!

Farm Baby also got a new dress and sunhat for Easter. I just managed to get them both finished in time, just seemed to keep running out of stuff or the various machines breaking down!

A great day out, tiring and enjoyable!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

How did I miss reporting on this?

Don't know how I've been able to miss reporting this news.

Our main aim with our extra land was to rent to people for their horses, as you will have read before we had the stables put in just this side of Christmas. Well we got our first renter a month ago but we still needed to add a field shelter to the field. So Farm Guy was on the case. He started building the thing from scratch and working on his weekends. It took him four weeks of weekends but it finally got finished.

I had thought I should have taken photos as he was going along but hadn't. However, Farm Guy was more on the ball and had been photographing as he went. So the following picture walk through are courtesy of him.

Adding the featherboard walls


The start of the roofing


Coat of protector and finished!

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Homemade Washing Powder - The Beginning

This year I am all about homemade and money saving. So after reading an article on making your own laundry detergent, so I decided to give it a go.

You only need three ingredients:
2 cups of borax
2 cups of washing soda
2 bars of soap

So I went about it, we had washing soda and soap but no borax. I discovered that borax is no longer sold in the UK for health reasons but we can get a borax substitute so that was all I needed to obtain.

It is just a case of grating the soap and mixing it well with the borax and soda, then away you go.

I was a bit sceptical as apparently you only need one tablespoon per load but I gave it a try on my whites wash.

I took a photo of a farm baby dirty sock ( no one dirties socks like a farm baby!) for a before comparison. And the one for the after! Which you will see below. I was amazingly surprised! I also did our bed linen which is all white and it turned out fabulous.

I washed on 40o on my machines Eco wash and used no softener, which I usually do but I wanted to see what the powder alone did. I used the recommended 1 tablespoon amount, which looked quite silly in the drawer compared to the usual heap I seem to add.

I did some maths for costing purposes.

Usual powder -
Surf at £14 for 90 washes = 15.6p per wash

Homemade Powder -
Borax Substitute at £3.94
Soda Crystals at £0.90 for 1 kg. I used 600g so that is a cost of £0.54.
Soap Bars at £0.85. I used Imperial Leather soap as it is what we had.
Total = £5.33 for 55 washes = 0.10p per wash

So a definite saving there. I think next time I would use a cheaper soap, by using a supermarket own brand I could bring that cost down to £0.20 (ish) so that could make a cost of £0.09 per wash. I didn't factor in the fact that it appears that fabric softener doesn't seem to be needed, as I haven't tried this on clothes yet ( other than my test socks!) so I may find I still need it but I do have another recipe for homemade softener too! Another time I think.

I am also happier with the space saving too, my homemade stuff fits into a tiny space compared to the huge washing powder box.

 The before sock.

 The after sock

Monday, 26 March 2012

Tiny Gardening

I haven't been doing as much as I should in preparation for the 'grow your own' season. But I have been planting a few seeds and this is where I stand at the moment. Cucumbers and tomatoes. I don't have the greenhouse (still) so it is still all being done on the windowsill.

They aren't looking too bad, thought I wasn't getting any cucumbers but they eventually appeared and are looking very healthy. I have never tried growing cucumber before so this should be good. I am also going to be a better mum to my tomatoes this year and hopefully I'll get a better crop to do some exciting recipes!

I have potatoes waiting to go in, so I should probably get off my bum soon and do that. We are also adding some more fruit trees to our collection this year as well. They should arrive soon and will need to be in the ground as soon as possible.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Smurf Loaf

My mum had sad news yesterday. After fifteen years she had to say goodbye to her last cat, Smurf. He had suddenly collapsed a few days ago and was rushed to the vet. After being diagnosed with bad kidney failure he seemed to respond to treatment and the vet was hopeful. But his condition suddenly deteriorated and mum was called in to make that choice that is no choice.

He was a lovely big lad and we got him from neighbours when I still lived at home. (I must have been 14! Good grief!) We also ended up with his mum who sadly passed away a couple of years ago, again from kidney trouble. He was a happy cat who liked the good things; eating, sleeping and love but was also a great little hunter too. Called Smurf because he was blue... no, not really. Can't remember where they name came from but it certainly suited him.

Mum and I live at some distance from each other now so phone support is all I can offer. However my dad is stoping in tomorrow on his way home after a trip away, so I decided to send some comfort food back. I scoured the net for something nice to make and found a Banana and Chocolate bread recipe. I made a few adjustments to it, to fit to my tastes and I thought I would share the result with you all, so you can make Smurf loaf and remember a lovely cat.

It comes out black and white - just like him.


100g plain chocolate
150g butter
175g granulated sugar
3 eggs
175g self-raising flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
25g cocoa
2 large bananas , peeled and mashed
50g plain or milk chocolate chopped into chunks (or use choc chips)


25g butter
2 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp demerara sugar
Chopped walnuts, around 3 tbsp

Oven 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.


Grease two 1lb loaf tins.

Make the crunch topping by rubbing the butter into the flour and sugar. Stir in the chopped walnuts.

Melt the chocolate and stir till smooth. Allow to cool slightly.

Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add one egg at a time, beating well between each addition.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and cocoa and fold into butter mixture.

Add the mashed banana, melted chocolate and chocolate chunks and mix well.

Divide the mixture between the 2 tins and sprinkle on the topping.

Bake for about 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cool on a rack, then enjoy!

Friday, 23 March 2012

A Tropical Experiment

Not sure how this will turn out as it is a post from my new iPad. I have entered the technological age!!

I am attempting something that I have been wanting to do for a while now, grow a pineapple from its top. So after extensive research on the interweb I have made my first attempt.

Apparently it should take about two weeks or so to be able to see whether it has worked or not. But I will keep people up to date on the progress of our pineapple.

It should grow actual pineapples too if it works but that's somewhat jumping the gun!

The first step was removing the fruit, just leaving the leaf section. Then removing the lower leaves to leave a small stub. Then popping it in the soil. Some people suggest using a rooting hormone but as I don't have any I haven't used that. That is likely to be something I try differently if this experiment doesn't work!

I need to keep it warm, but not hot and not too light. Not in the first few weeks, this is to encourage the roots to grow and not to try and grow new leaves without the root base to support it.

I should expect to see the existing leaves dying at the tips and then new growth from the centre.

We shall see!!

Tuesday, 20 March 2012


Thought I would introduce to you a couple of the adaptions both successful and experimental that I have been adding to chicken-knox. The first was the addition of a water butt.  My dad added a roofed section to the inner run to help protect the house and also make my life more plesant when cleaning out in the rain!  So I decided to utilise the roofing further by getting free water for my girls (and guy).  I added some guttering and a water butt and after frozen hands, shouting at it a couple of times cos no matter what it kept draining out in the middle!  Even with a proper connector, then gettting Farm Guy to come take a look we had a functioning system.  It isn't the most attractive and guttering experts are clawing their eyes out right now but it works and it makes life easier and a little better for the environment!

I am always trying to make life more natural for the hens, I believe that animals should (and are happier) when they are living as much as they would in the wild as is possible when in captivity.  Even my university studies reflected this as I did my final year project working with keepers at a Safari Park to enrich the lives of their three elephants.  So I intend to make my chicken habitat as natural as I can.

We now have 12 chickens and the little shop bought drinker we have gets a bit crowded at high drinking times, is not really in keeping with the 'would you find it in the wild' approach and is broken!  Also, I always strive to get the chicken chores done as quick and efficient as possible.  So the drinking pond idea was born.  Dig out a small pond which is attached to the water butt by a hose, then I can just turn the nozzle and fill the pond fast when I see it needs it.  No more getting wet feet flipping over the full drinker.  No more fighting with the broken leg on the drinker.  No more chicken queues and punch ups waiting for a turn to quench thirst!  And more .... yep .... natural!!

This is a small pond, I may decide to move/enlarge it at a later date.  I was experimenting with the ease of the system and whether the chickens liked a more au naturale way of drinking. (It's not as wonky as it looks, honest, the ground is on a hill!).  So far they seem to like it, more chickens can get in at one time as they can get all the way round and they seem to like being able to put their whole beak in the water.  The filling system works well.  

On the cons side, I think it could be slightly deeper to counteract the affect of the hill and if we ever got chicks it would need to be filled with stones to prevent any drowning issues.  But apart from that it appears that it is working well so far. 

The testing continues.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Pond Watch

Okay. I looked out of the window today at the front garden. Mortified. It looks like the garden of an abandoned house.  No wonder everyone goes to our back gate instead of the front door!  The beds are a mess of weeds with a strangled looking plant every so often.  The path is more moss than gravel and the gate is so dodgy that the postman has wedged it open with a brick so he doesn't have to compete!  No amount of bulbs is going to save this lot, this needs an overhaul!!

Right in the middle of this garden come field is our pond, which was a solid mass of slime - although beneath the slime I discovered pretty clear water!  I determined that even if I did nothing else I would clear out the slime so I set to it it.  Eugh...

But I was surprised to discover that amongst the No No slime there was some Very Much Hurray slime in the form of some Frog Spawn.  I am very pleased with this, I have been wanting the pond to be more wildlife friendly and in particular attracting some frogs so this was a great sight for me.  

I am going to keep an eye on this little group and hopefully bring you updates on how the little wrigglers are getting along!I don't know whether there is anything I can do to help them - protection wise so at present I am just leaving them alone!

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Chicken.. Licked?

It was a hard year last year on our hens.  We entered the New Year with only 6 hens, from 11 hens and a cockerel.  Sad times.  Some we found what remained, others simply never came back to the coop.  All of our French Wheatens Marans have gone, such is the fate of the free range hen.  We discovered, quite early that the Marans were hopeless at going back to the coop.  If darkness struck before they got back they simply announced that 'the end was nigh' and sat down where they were, all our time was taken with ensuring that they were all back in the coop, this includes the cockerel!  But slowly, despite our best efforts they disappeared, two on one night!

I have to admit this left me more angry at myself than anything, I feel personally responsible for each one, I could have done more.  Gone out earlier, checked more often.  But I know that in the real world I cannot be on chicken watch 24 hours a day.  There are foxes, dogs, cats and all sorts out there.  Even a ferret which took 7 of the neighbours ducks in one night from out of their locked house!  A plan was needed.  Something to contain the hens, deter the predators and try and encourage an early retiral to the coop by all hens involved.

We call it Chicken-Knox...

(Sorry for the bendy look, it's one of my homemade panoramas!)

The chicken house always had its own small pen around it, but the chickens were free to roam anywhere on the farmyard, but the land surrounding lends itself well to being fenced in giving the hens a nice area of land that is entirely their own.  It is also butted up against our top paddock, so should we ever decide more land is needed we can make adjustments.  It is a bit bare for hens at the moment but I am working on that.  My mum is a collector of shrubs - when she finds them growing in her gravel they are dug up, put in a carrier bag with some compost and sent to us.  She has been doing this since we moved in and I have quite a collection.  Planting them has always been a 'I really should get around to that' job - some of these things are huge now!  So, a decision was made and they have been planted at Chicken-Knox.  And what with the summer growth that is usually down here I think the chooks will have a whale of a time!

With that in mind we added to the flock, all was safe and we wanted to top up the numbers.  It happened slightly sooner than we originally planned we said "we should get a few more hens.  Check when the next sale is." *rustle* *rustle* "Oh its tomorrow! Right-o!"

So off to the sale we went with specifics in mind, a checklist:
1 cockerel
Some hens
Something likely to go broody

There was a lot we were interested in as no one could possibly want it unless they were us: 1 Welsummer cockerel with 2 silkie cross hens.  Who'd want that!  What a mix match bunch.  They were in a tiny cage which was dark, so most casual observers just saw 6 little eyes peering out of the blackness.  But we hung around and soon saw a handsome cockerel and two black hens emerge.  Bidding was non-existent, only a few people who seemed to be 'maybe he doesn't mean it' but we did and they came home with us for only a few pennies.

I am not a huge fan of silkies, they aren't the prettiest birds in the world, cute, but not pretty.  But I think that these girls aren't too bad in the looks department.  The photos aren't great, they are still a little shy.

Here they are with their guy....

We also wanted something we were sure would lay and we are certain of age and breed and all that jazz.  So we got 3 Welsummer pullets as well.  They are lovely girls and are so funny to watch!  Its like they aren't too sure how to be chickens!  They walk up to the others and stare hard at them before starting to copy whatever they are doing!

They all seem to be getting on fine and the eggs seem to be a sign of that, we are now getting 5 - 6 eggs a day, which is a great number!  I need to find some eggy recipes, and fast!!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

The Going's Slow

As you know we have built the stables but they still require a bit of work before they are ready for allowing people in.  Namely, electrics, water, internal wall in the tack room and various fittings.

We have spoken to an electrician and the quote is acceptable so we are in the process of getting a date set for him to arrive and get started.  Lights, sockets and, while he's at it, putting lights into the garage without the door!

I have however been having fun with my catalogues and have got the first of the fittings for the tack room.  I am trying to be sparing, getting the basics and then seeing what needs to be added as the tack room is in use.  So today my saddle and bridle racks arrived.  Isn't that the most exciting picture you have ever seen?

We are also progressing with the extension to the house.  The new plans are in, which are essentially a request to change the existing planning permission for a second house into just an extension to the existing one; with a few layout changes, obviously.  The extension will consist of a new open plan kitchen / dining area which will lead through to a large family room.  Beyond that, two new bedrooms, a bathroom and a cinema room. 

I cannot wait for the extension.  The new kitchen means I will be able to cook in winter (not that I physically can't at the moment but the current kitchen has no heating and a draft, so whatever the temperature outside is, that's what it is in the kitchen.  Doesn't help when you need room temperature butter!  But does help if you forget to put the milk back in the fridge!) 

It will also mean that we can eat at a table, not off our knees in the lounge!  We do have a dining room but it is also my sewing room, the computer room/office and general dumping ground.  It is also a long walk from the kitchen!  

And the new bedrooms will finally mean we can have guests staying over without the currently compulsory 'would you like the floor or the caravan?'

Its a big job however, and we are only just starting on the journey, the next big step in realising our dream!