London

I’m a proud Londoner and I come from a family (at least some of it) of Londoners. So it would feel wrong not in some way to mention what happened yesterday, at the same time, I don’t want to be hysterical about it.

So yesterday a madman killed four people and seriously injured several more. I don’t care why he thought that he was justified, he wasn’t. I also want to stress that we don’t have answers yet. So I will pray for the families of the dead and for the living and I will pray that people learn that violence doesn’t solve anything.

At the same time because I am a Londoner, I will go about my day to day living. Just like my family did in the 70’s and 80’s, just like I did in 2001 after the Ealing bombing. I will remember that one person doesn’t represent a whole religion and that people can change their minds and their hearts. (If I need to be reminded of that then I’ll look at Martin McGuinness’ funeral, which will be attended by a woman who’s father was targeted by IRA terrorists). I will remember that we don’t defend our rights and freedoms by taking them away from others. I will remember that terrorists want my hate and anger.I’m Londoner, I won’t let them win.

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Allotment Adventures: Waiting Impatiently…

We’re in that maddening time when things are starting to happen but it’s all happening very slowly..

The weather is warming up and the days are longer, so things are greener. The gooseberry bushes have tiny flowers on them already. But it’s not quite warm enough to plant out and there is a while to go. Last year because I got the plot in May, it was a mad rush to get things in the ground, this year I have to be more patient and it’s not really a core skill of mine.So this weekend, we weeded, mostly the raspberries. I said it was going to be a fight with the weeds there and I don’t know what the raspberries thought of the compost and woodchip mulch but the weeds are loving it. We also put some compost on some beds and planted up the potatoes in a bag. Aparently, you should have potatoes in the ground on St Patrick’s Day and as mine are second earlies and Joe next door planted his this weekend, I decided to get on with it. We’ve also had a slight rearrange of planting plans because Joe has put his potatoes right up close to my herbs and the raised beds that were going to have tomatoes in them. I had blight last year and don’t want to have my tomatoes so close so we’re having a shuffle. In other news, my rhubarb is coming on but not as much as Dennis’ next door, his is a monster already! Look at that!While we were buying compost this weekend, I was powerless to resist the lure of the reduced grape hyacinths. I’ve planted them up by the plum tree and while they don’t look great at the moment, they’ll be brilliant next year (hopefully)There is a list of jobs for next week and the possibility of a bit more space somewhere else on the site. The allotment committee has been told that it can’t let any plots that have been given up because Pathways want to keep them free for the plot holders who will be forced to relocate if the planning permission for development is granted.  This means that those plots won’t be cultivated and the site will look untidy and unloved when the council comes to inspect the site. So there’s a list of people who would be up for taking on more space until we have a decision and I’m on it. I’ll know in April and my current working idea is that I’ll dig it all over have a go at three sisters planting because I’ve had to abandon sweetcorn on my plot this year due to lack of space. Mother is a bit horrified by the idea but we did set up the plot to be fairly low maintence we are set up really well for the year and in October/November time there will be some work to perhaps set up some new beds but nothing like the work we did last year, so I have some time and the extra space is not a space I can keep so I can’t make plans that cost money. Digging over, weeding, planting and watering. Keep it growing things and then in October, I can dig the vegetation into the soil and cover it with cardboard for the next person to take it on. Of course all this assumes that they’ll be space that needs looking after….

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Work Life

Last week, our quarterly department meeting happened and was based on understanding our Margerison-McCann profiles.

There were no huge surprises for me, I recognised myself.I’m a ‘Concluder-Producer’ by a huge margin. I’m practical and production-oriented, I like schedules and plans and emphasise outputs. I like to finish things and am time and detail concious. My other two key behaviours are Reporter-Adviser and Controller Inspector. Those behaviours are about supporting others, collecting information, being in control, making sure that procedures are followed and not really needing to work with people but enjoying sociable contact.

I score as a extrovert (but not by too much, I get a 7), I also score high on being practical above creative, I’m driven by belief not analysis and I’m structured over flexible. But none of those go above 15 either way.In terms of decision making , I rely on my own beliefs and convictions, I tend to think there is a right way to do things (my way!) and I’m not backwards about letting people know that. I tend to be all about getting on with it and sometimes don’t give enough time to analysis.

All of this I know, this is how I work and who I am 9 to 5 but this test was measuring who I was at work, and my work persona is slightly different from my home one. At home, I’m an introvert which would explain why I find work so tiring. My lack of interest in analysis is true at work and home and I come by it honestly, Ma is just the same. In my personal life that shows in how I deal with friends when they struggle and how I deal with me when I struggle. Does that mean that I don’t think deeply? Sometimes, because thinking deeply doesn’t help unless I conciously decide to change how I think. I operate on the assumption that I change things that make me unhappy and that things that can’t be changed must be lived with.

I don’t like change and struggle with transition. I cope with transition by being ruthlessly organised and I cope with change by trying to control it.

There is a school of thought that says these things are nonsense but I found it useful, because it makes me focus on the why and the how I go about my daily life. I’m not sure that it’ll change a lot but it does make me more mindful of what’s prompting my behaviour or work patterns.  Which in turn means that I think a little more before I react, which can only be a good thing when dealing with other people.

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Good/Bad w/c 13 March 2017

Good

Seedlings. The most of the cucumbers have come up, the second set of leeks are doing the growing thing, the tomatoes and patty pans have come up too. I’m waiting on the other summer squash and cucumbers and there is a long way to go until they are good to plant out but it makes me happy!Haircut. I’ve had a haircut and spent time with Jane. (its a bad picture of a good haircut!)

Allotment time. We bought compost, prepared beds, weeded and I spent time with my hands in the earth. Over winter, I didn’t realise how much I missed  it, although I’m guessing that by October, I’ll be fed up of the constant demands of the plot. Circle of life and all that….

Bad

Stomach bug or something. Monday night and Tuesday being sick and feeling ill. Not a fun happy time.

Commuting woes. It’s not been great this week. On Monday I was 40 minutes later into the office than usual, on Thursday it was 30 minutes. I usually get into work at 8.30, because I need the 30 minutes headstart that gives me on my day. I just feel rushed and out of control without it!

 

 

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Friday Links 

Happy Friday and for those of you that celebrate it, or like me just use it as a handy excuse to drink whiskey and Guiness, Happy St Patrick’s Day!

Disciples of a false prophet

Mount Etna is the world’s most active volcano and it went bang…

Planning for the death of the Queen. Honestly, bar having a day off for the funeral and my worries about her son overreaching as King, I hadn’t really given it much thought.

This is one of the most Christian responses to the issue of women priests and the Philip North fiasco I have read.

I’m 35 and I love gardening, deal with it. Yep, except I’m 43 and obsessed with my allotment!

Theresa May hung her chancellor out to dry. Didn’t she just. She is not a leader, she seems to have worked hard to be Prime Minister but she has no idea what to do next except not get in trouble. And as Simon Jenkins says…

She may have intended to discredit him, but she discredited herself. She made him look foolish, and damaged his authority within cabinet and on the backbenches: in itself a dangerous move. But she devastated her position within the government as a leader prepared to stand up for what she believed was a sound policy in the public interest.

The debate sparked by Samuel L. Jackson about black British actors being used over African-American ones, has been interesting. David Harewood has written about it. Given how many really talented black British actors have to go and work in the US because of the lack of opportunity here, I reckon they have more in common than not.

 

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Mincemeat Rolls

My lovely colleague Jess and I have an occasional breakfast club, she buys ham and cheese croissants from eat and Imake us breakfast and bring it in. Last week, Jess brought croissiants in on Monday and I’d said that I’d do something this Monday. Then I totally forgot about it until Sunday night. So at 8pm on Sunday night I started a batch of dough. I used this recipe from Michelle at Utterly Scrummy as a base, because it’s quick and relatively simple. However, I have changed it up a bit.  I used mincement as a filling and iced them with a basic icing sugar and water icing.

What (Dough)
250ml milk, I used skimmed
50g butter
250g plain flour
250g bread flour
1 sachet instant yeast (7g)
50g white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

What (Filling)
250g jar mincement

How
Add milk, butter, sugar and salt to a pan and heat gently until the butter is almost melted. Put flour and yeast into a mixing bowl. Pour this milk into the bowl and combine until a dough forms. Knead the dough until it’s soft and not sticky. I do this in the bowl and don’t add flour. Roll the dough out into a rectangle about 30cm x 40cm and spread mincement over it. Roll up and slice into 12 pieces. Lay them in a square baking tray (8 x 8 inches?) and leave to prove for 30 to 45 minutes. Bake in 180C/160C Fan oven for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.

 

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Allotment Adventures: Spring is coming in

It’s weird, I feel like I’ve been waiting on Spring forever. Finally, things are coming alive again, my gooseberry and raspberries have leaves, the blackcurrant and plum are in bud and my rhubarbs have some leaves too.The overwintered onions, garlic, broad beans, spinach, chard and beetroot are perking up and looking a lot less weather battered, Spring is coming folksOn the plot we’ve been weeding and starting prep for the coming weeks. The top of the plot and the raspberries have been subjected to Ma’s attentions and are more or less weed free. I’ve weeded and mulched the blackcurrant and gooseberry bush at the bottom of the plot. I had decided to take them out but I’ll net them this year and see if they produce anything this year, I will probably end up moving or binning them next year but we’ll see. I’ve also weeded the other beds and planted some chives and borage on the herb patch.

The biggest change outdoors is that we’ve turned the U shaped bed into a rectangle and weeded and divided it into 6 squares. That will be the salad bed this year, I’ve moved some of the overwintered chard so that we have beetroot and chard patches.

Indoors, we’ve (Ma helped) sown the summer squash and cucumbers, all the remaining courgette seeds (seven) and 6 of the summer crookneck, pattypans and the three cucumbers (Boothby’s Blonde, Minature White and Wautoma). That’s thirty seven plants! Then we started on the tomatoes, eight each of the Orange Banana and then we ran out of room, so I finished with eight more Amish Paste tomatoes and 20 of the cherry tomatoes. If they all pop up this will be massively more than I need but I have a couple of people who will take the spares..I have had one failure or 100s of little failures depending on how the view it, all but four of the basil seedlings died. I had one good year with growing basil from seed about 20 years ago and no luck since. For this year, I’m going to buy supermarket basil, split it up and plant out later. It worked with the mint and honestly, I’m short on room and patience with it right now.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The sweet peas and leeks are doing ok. The sweet peas are a bit leggy but I’ve pinched them back and we’ll see how they go. With hindsight, I should have sowed the leeks in pots not a tray. I have rectified this by sowing some more in pots and we’ll see which ones do better. I have lots of leek seeds which is good thing, just in case I muck it up again.

The kale got leggy but seems to be sorting itself out, I’ve sowed another 4 pots because I want some of it for salad and some to go through the winter.

That’s it for indoor sowing until next month when I’ll start the winter squash off. Hopefully by that point, some of the other stuff will be outside because it’s getting crowded in my living room! Everything else, I’m sowing direct and I’ll start to do that at the end of the month, with the peas, carrots, beetroots and salad leaves. I’m really looking forward to eating salad again! (This is last year’s salad bed, which currently has onions in it, and it was amazingly productive)img_4518

In other news, the shed won’t get done until April, we have bought the base and will put that in when it arrives, but how we get the shed onto the plot is a problem. I’m beginning to think, I’ll have to have it delivered to the house and then walk it round in pieces, this is not ideal but tere is a limit to how much I can impose on other people who have busy lives and don’t know when they can help. We’ve marked the 22 April as the weekend we’d like to do it, I have the week after that off work, so I’ve got lots of time to work it out, although I do also really have to paint the bathroom and kitchen that week! My only goal really is to get it up before I hit my one year anniversary of having the plot, which is the 7 May.

 

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