Allotment Adventures: Rain and Woodchip

We had rain this week, lots and lots of glorious rain, I had to use an umbrella!

The allotment also got a delivery of woodchip. So most of my Saturday morning at the plot was spent wheelbarrowing woodchip from the main gate to my plot and most of Ma’s morning was spent spreading it on the plot.

It doesn’t look much different in the pictures but it’s very noticeable in person, especially at the top of the plotOther things, Ma picked basil, I sorted the wayward tomatoes – so close now..The sweetcorn is also close and we have our first borlotti beanThe kale, leeks and chard are doing well and Ma and I, with much swearing from me, thinned and netted the chard. This year I’ve been encouraging Ma to do more of the fun stuff of sowing and planting things, instead of just weeding, and she sowed the chard so is very happy that it’s doing so wellNext week on the work list are cutting back the raspberry canes that are done, weeding the raspberries and the herb patch, and giving everything a good feed. Easy week then!

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Cooking from the Plot: Courgette and Tomato Pasta Sauce

It’s August and at some point in August, you can guarantee there will be a post about how to use up a courgette. We got one on Tuesday and five on Saturday, which isn’t an excessive amount but they were big, I think the rain we had this week did the plants some good.

This wasn’t even my idea, it’s very similar to Courgette Caviar but quicker and less fuss. It’s also not a good way to ‘hide’ courgettes for the courgette averse. I do understand, I have a nephew that refuses to eat peas or tomatoes and I am a very recent convert to raw tomatoes (and still won’t eat one from a supermarket by itself!). I understand fussy eaters, I’ve been one for years but this isn’t a good way to encourage anyone to eat something they don’t like. I think of this sauce as adding something to a tomato sauce and that’s great but I don’t think it’s going to convert someone who doesn’t love courgettes!I diced two small onions and started to brown them in olive oil, then I grated a large courgette and added that with six cloves of garlic to the pan with the onions.I added a large pinch of salt and let everything cook down and the water in the courgette evaporate. Then I added two tins of chopped tomatoes and let it all cook down.

Anyone else with masses of summer squash to use up? What are you doing with it?


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Monday Miscellany

Happy Monday!

Today is special for two reasons, I’m back at work this morning and it’s International Left Handers Day (I said it was special that did not necessarily mean it would be special to you!).

Yes, I’m left handed, as is my brother, it must come from my Grandad who was also left handed. No one else in the family is but I have hopes of the littlest nephew! Approximately 10% of the population is left handed, I’m technically cross dominant, I write with my left but I do a lot of other things with my right, which honestly I just thought was because I everything is built for right handed people and so I’ve learned to cope! Other fun dominant hand knowledge, populations of animals that are more co-operative are generally populations where handedness skews one way or another, in un-cooperative populations handedness is more likely to be 50-50. 

If the pictures on this post are looking a bit random, I’d like to introduce you to two of my current favourite things, poached egg on toast and homegrown tomatoes on bread with mayonnaise and basil.

So plans for this week? Mine are to get back into the work groove, my boss is on holiday for pretty much the rest of August, so I’m booked on a first aid course, Wednesday to Friday which as luck would have it is a five minute walk away from home. Three days of having to sort out emails, meetings etc before and after a first aid course is inconvenient but that’s more than made up for by not having to commute for three days! But other than that I want a really quite week, I’m quite peopled out right now and my introvert’s soul needs quiet time!

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Sunday Music: Why Does the Sun Shine – They Might Be Giants

So yesterday in the news, they were talking about the Parker Solar Probe and I started to sing “the Sun is a mass of incandescent gas” and I binned today’s Sunday Music so I could put this on instead.

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Friday Links

Happy Friday! I have had a lovely week off. I’ve made cake, cocktail cherries, had dinner out, seen friends, tidied the cupboard of doom and am about to have a relaxing weekend.

This week, despite a holiday, I did manage to post this week. Since the last Friday links, there was a Saturday Recommendation, a Sunday Music post, the usual miscellany, a quick recap of my reading in July, a short allotment update and finally some pictures from my afternoon at Ham House.

Here are this week’s links….

Here is the one way to end Teresa May’s Brexit gridlock. In all of this, I still feel that there isn’t enough blame assigned to David Cameron or George Osborne.

Jennifer Aniston is a symbol of the pressure cooker all single women are forced to live in. This, so much this. I get lots of questions as to why I’m still single, or whether I’ve considered internet dating. I’ve been single for over 10 years now and generally I’ve squashed those questions (I am single, there aren’t any men that I’m interested in that are interested in me and no I will not try internet dating – honestly, I can’t deal with that type of rejection) and I don’t often get asked them but still..

There are very few things that any of us will ever have in common with Jennifer Aniston. We will not co-star in one of the biggest TV shows of all time, we will not have our hair used in thousands of advertising campaigns, we will not go over to Jimmy Kimmel’s house to make margaritas. But we will attend weddings alone. We will break up with long-term partners and have everyone wonder what our role in the downfall was. We will be set up on dates with men who are much, much older than us, because the men our own age only want to date 25-year-olds. So many of us will experience the vast tapestry of being a single woman over a certain age and have our own small-scale versions of the “poor Jen” narrative in our own social circle

Cameron may blame ‘lunatic’ Gove but he – and Eton – have a lot to answer for in the Brexit story of decline. This is so worth reading…

Air pollution is a lethal plight that shames our politicians. My breathing has been so off this summer…

It’s no coincidence Boris Johnson has discovered strong views on the burqa. I’ve read the article that it’s very clever and calculated. He’s made a liberal argument but used offensive ‘dog whistle’ terms and so he appeals to the UKIP faction and stays in the public eye, which he needs if he want to try for the leadership of the Tory Party. He’s a calculating little shit (I’m sorry it is bad language but he is more than deserving of it) and nothing he does is anything to do with a genuine belief or hope of what is good for the country, it’s all about what is good for him. More fool the idiots who fall for his spin and God help the country if it ever puts him in charge.

As Brexit looms, stockpiling food seems the only sensible response. This. I’m trying not to panic but we are getting closer to a date and no closer to any answers about what is going to happen. I’m very glad to have the plot and really want that other half plot!

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Ham House

On Sunday, I went to Ham House. Jo and I didn’t know what to do, Jo wanted to do something ‘National Trust or museum-y’, so I suggested Ham. I’d suggest it’s our age but Jo and I together have always been fairly sedate, less parties nowadays but eating and talking have always been our thing.  I’m very fond of Ham House because it was one of the houses I studied for GCSE, the development of the country house. I’ve been to the gardens but I haven’t been inside the house since.I decided to join the National Trust while I was there because there are more NT properties in my part of the world than there are English Heritage sites and this way I have them both covered! If you join at a property, it gets a special credit which in the case of Ham pays for the approximately £850,000 it costs to maintain it.

We wondered around the house, looking at the portraits and fancy décor. Houses like this are always a good reminder of the different attitudes to hygiene and privacy and education that shaped the past. The most private room in my house is my bedroom but the main bedrooms in this house weren’t the most sacred rooms.

Jo and I really liked the below stairs part of the house with the still rooms, kitchen, scullery, beer cellar and bathroom.I really liked the legs of the counters in the dairy.The café is in the orangery and has a kitchen garden. After a cream tea, we wondered around the gardens for a bit.It was a lovely afternoon, and I throughly recommend it!

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Allotment Adventures: Visit from the family

It’s been so hot. So there has been a lot of watering! On Sunday, I had help from the nephews and my brother. Joe also ate all the ripe tomatoes and the allotment rang with Joe asking for more “Grandma ‘matoes”

Oli is looking forward to the corn! And I have to confess, I’m pretty excited too!We got leeks in the ground, decided not to sow beetroot and replaced one of the kale plants that didn’t make it.

So for the winter we have three beds of leeks, two beds of kale and one of chard. They are doing their thing and in October we’ll look at overwintering garlic, broad beans and onions. So we’re all set!

I’m writing this on Tuesday night and right now it’s so hot, they are promising that it will break today and we might get to doing more than harvesting and watering. For now and I can’t remember that it will ever be cool again!



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