Allotment Adventures: Back to Work

Although it’s not quite spring, it’s getting lighter and warmer and it’s time for me to resume work on the plot. So last weekend, I spent 4 hours on the plot.

Trips to the plot always involve carrying something, this week it was the last of the blueberry/potato pots, shredded paper for the the compost bin, the allotment bag with various bits and bobs, and the bokashi bin.

First job was compost, emptying the bokashi and paper and consolidating all the bins into one. It took quite a while but I got there and everything is in bin one and looking pretty compost-y. I’ll leave it there for three months and then sieve it. And yes, I’m going to need to buy one of these before I do otherwise I will break myself.

Having done that, I moved the other wooden compost bin and the black bin, which I will fill with woodchip to compost down more slowly.

That done I did some tidying, I took down the kale bed, took the netting off the onions and shallots and weeded that bed. I also weeded the cabbage beds and cleared the last winter lettuce bed, and weeded the rhubarb.

Finally, I gave the shed a bit of a tidy so that I don’t get shouted at when Ma comes back next week and I went home with a bunch of pots to wash and a bucket of kale.

In other news, we ordered half of the compost we’ll need for this year. I think I said this last year but I’m hoping that next year, we won’t need to buy quite so much compost, because we shouldn’t be making any new beds and I hope to have enough to top up the beds. Although, I’ll probably buy compost for mulching the flower beds and for the potato pots. Ma and I also made the executive decision to order some plugs for autumn planting because I don’t have the capacity for sowing them in April when I’m already up to my ears in tomato, herb, and, summer and autumn squash plants. So in July we’ll get 40 leek plants, and 10 each of broccoli, cavolo nero, sweetheart cabbage, savoy cabbage and cauliflower. We can harvest from August but my feeling is that we’ll probably get caulis and broccoli Sept/Oct, cabbages, Nov/Dec and then cavolo nero to Feb. The leeks, I would hope to make it to January but they do get rust so we’ll see how we go.

Lots of wheelbarrowing in my future!

There is a list for next week and it’s all about beds and compost for me.

  • Mulch the rhubarb and weed and mulch the flower beds
  • Raise the kale bed and top up with compost
  • Divide the squash bed
  • Weed the area next to the squash bed and cover with cardboard (and woodchip if any has been delivered!)
  • Close and move the chard bed, raise it a bit and top up with compost
  • Feed the onions, garlic and shallots
  • Top up beds that need it and sow broad beans, peas, beetroot and carrots.

There’s lots more to do, I need to build another six beds, there is so much weeding to do and the shed probably needs painting again! But one thing at at time…

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Monday Miscellany: Month Three

Happy Monday and Happy March!

Giant Snowflake (leucojum)

I’m not in the best of physical health right now, I had a migraine yesterday and today my head hurts and I’d like to be in bed. However, I’m going to soldier on because very soon (tomorrow with any luck) the migrainey-ness (I don’t think that’s a word but go with it!) will stop for a bit. Generally, hormonal migraines do suck but I think they suck less than having migraines and not knowing why…

So, we’re in March. February wasn’t so bad, in the spirit of everyday being a learning day, I learnt how to drain a washing machine and unblock the drain! (plumber’s daughter!) and I taught a couple of my godchildren how to knit via zoom! As the weather warmed a bit (last week) I got back to the plot so it’s relatively tidy for the return of the Weedfinder General aka Ma!

Family – my great grandad, Aunt Phylis, Grandad, Aunt Edith and Aunt Ada

Last week, we heard that my great aunt Phylis had died. Grandad was emotionally if not physically close to his sisters. Phylis was the youngest of the four (by quite a way), she used to send us clothes (I had a very fetching orange pyjama all in one when I was about seven which I loved!) and cards although she spelt Ma’s name wrong every year too….

She was also the last one standing in that generation of our family, Mum has no more aunts or uncles and it’s really sad for her sons and grandchildren. We’ve lost a whole generation of our family and yes I understand that death comes for all of us but it’s still sad.


March is going to be full of things. Schools are going back next week, parents up and down the land are both happy and nervous! Mother’s Day is in 14 days and St Patrick’s Day is 17 days away. There is a ton of stuff to do on the plot and lighter days are happening.

March also marks a year working from home. Since the 18th March 2020, I’ve been in the office two days, once in the old London office to clear out lockers and once in the Southampton office to post goody bags to the team. I’ve since developed a close relationship with the lady at the Post Office in West Ealing! It’s strange how normal working from home is now, I can’t see that I’ll be back in the office before August (which I’ve always kind of thought that it would be August), because I know the roadmap is aiming for 21 June, but I don’t think that the phases are going to run as smoothly as everyone thinks and I’m not sure that I’ll be comfortable commuting every day until I’ve had a vaccine. We’ll see.

Anyway, let’s hope that this month is better than last month and this March is better than last year!

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Friday Links: Not Getting Too Excited

Happy Friday! You may have noticed my absence in this space over the last couple of months. This is due to a combination of lockdown (I hardly do anything!), SAD (I suck in winter) and WordPress being a bastard (photos are an issue and how much am I prepared to pay to ramble on the internet when I have no intention of trying to make money out of said ramblings, I have huge admiration for the people that do but I’m not able to because it’s too much rejection).

Anyway it’s sorted for now, but I need to spend some time editing past posts, there’s nothing in there that I’m ashamed of but there is sharing that I’m less comfortable with now, mostly around small people!

Parks have been a lifeline during the pandemic. Let’s make Buckingham Palace a public space. My ideal would be get rid of the monarchy and make all royal palaces gardens public parks….failing that, this is also a good idea..

The UK government is claiming every success for itself, while blaming us for its failures

The Republican Party Is Now in Its End Stages. We can hope

What I wish I’d had in Texas

Johnson is subdued but his dog is causing havoc. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Plausible

Lent, explained. The only thing I disagree with is that last paragraph. I was always taught that Lent was supposed to improve us because it taught us we were dependant on God and thus brought us closer to God.

It’s heartless to blame job losses on unemployed people – but it’s how much of Britain thinks. I think one of the results of COVID is that more people will begin to understand how often there is nothing you can do about being unemployed. I’ve been unemployed long enough for it to count as long term unemployed, eight months the first time when the company I worked for went bust because one of the partners was gambling with the tax money and again when a contract ended after 12 months (six months). I didn’t do anything wrong, but there I was unemployed. Check out my posts from August 2009 to April 2010 and then April 201 to November 2011. I did not enjoy working for the nearly seven years after that but I was so relived to have a job even one I hated because unemployment was 100 times worse. That job made me unhappy and one of the things they didn’t do badly was unemployment, it was a generous offer and it (and temping) gave me some breathing space and I cannot tell you how much I love my job. I used to say that I would definitely 100% give up work if I won the lottery, now I’m about 30-70%

I quit food delivery apps – the absurd convenience was not worth the cost. At the risk of sounding smug, I haven’t had food delivered to my house for over 15 years. I’ve collected a takeaway from Monty’s twice since I’ve lived here and had fish and chips a couple of times. I have only ever been in an Uber once, when I was in DC, and I didn’t order it, and never in the UK. Back in the days when I went into the office I would sometimes buy breakfast at Pret and monthly sushi on payday was (and still is my thing) but most of what I eat, I cook. I saw a thread on Twitter last week which consisted of people moaning that they were sick of their own cooking (and the subsequent washing up) and bored of takeaway options and of all the things I’m finding hard about lockdown, that is not one of them. So what’s the thing that everyone else is finding difficult right now that you didn’t think about?

How we all fell for Simon Hopkinson’s lovely tale of roast chicken. Roast Chicken and Other Stories is a lovely book AND the source for my favourite way to cook Easter lamb.

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Monday Miscellany: The Last Week of February

Happy Monday! I was up at 7am today because my back hurt and I did extra yoga to try and relax it, the yoga every day is not working, and my back and hip just hurt all the time and more when I walk and allotment. Which is not idea.

That aside everything is much as it was last Monday, except I’m not eating cakes, sweets, crisps or biscuits and being vegetarian Monday to Friday, which I’ve been doing for February anyway.

It’s been fish because it’s not been a week but it does require a change of mindset, yesterday I bought some ham and mortadella to have as a snack with my apple as I can’t have sweet stuff. Clearly, I didn’t think that through!

Just in case anyone was wondering, there are two ways to do Lent, it’s 40 days if you take out the Sundays, so the first option is to ‘fast’ Monday to Saturday and then ‘feast’ on Sunday. The second is that you fast all the was through from Ash Wednesday and finish on Palm Sunday.

I don’t do either of those things because I’m an idiot because breaking it every Sunday isn’t something I feel good doing, (that exception was designed for people who were really fasting and not eating much at all, I’m just giving up cakes, sweets, crisps and biscuits). I could do it the other way and finish on Palm Sunday but if I’ve chosen to give this stuff up for Lent, then celebrating the end of my resolutions in Holy Week (Palm to Easter Sunday) feels very wrong… 46 days of Lent it is.

This week I will try to get out a bit more, as it’s warmer and lighter. Have a good week!

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Now Valentine’s Day is done

I didn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day way back when I was in a relationship, so I pretty much ignore it, am happy for the people who get what they need from the day and that works fine.

However, any problem I might have with Valentine’s Day is about the idea that human beings are not worthy of respect unless they are in a relationship. I’ve talked about this before, as a single and childless woman (it’s bad for men but it is infinitely worse for women), I come up against this a lot.

Look romantic love is not the be all and end all of existence. Ironically, I re-read Cyrano by Geraldine McCaughrean over the weekend and that is all about romantic and unrequited love (although I will never understand Cyrano’s love for Roxanne because she’s an airhead!) and this always strikes me as perfect for people who don’t have or don’t want a romantic partner

There are other things besides Love. It does not occupy every corner of every minute. It does not perch on the door to every room. It does not hang on every coat-hook in the hall. It is not an ingredient of every meal. There are the realms of Nature, Politics, Mathematics, Science. There are other things besides Love.

For a Man with an enquiring mind and any kind of genius there is always plenty to do.

Cyrano – Geraldine McCaughrean

This is the thing, no one’s life is worthless if we use it well. No-one is incomplete without a partner, in fact studies have shown that single people are more altruistic than people in couples and often happier. I’ve linked to in before but Bella DePaulo did a whole TED talk on it.

Guys being single is not the worst thing that can happen to you, if you are, please don’t think you are lesser, because one is a whole number….

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Monday Miscellany: Hoovering like crazy

The week before last, my hoover died. I think actually it died way before that as it wasn’t working before that as it didn’t do a great job of taking up the pine needles after Christmas but such is my aversion to hoovering (look, I come by it honestly, my mum hates hoovering too!) that I finally had to admit when I tried to hoover again the week before last.

So it was time to buy a new hoover and I did and it was the cheapest one I could get away with and would do double duty as a dust buster (because that also died this year!), apparently all hoovers in my house (however infrequently used) have a 10 year shelf life. It’s gone up in price since last week but and I have to say this, it’s very impressive and because I’ve been indoors a lot this week, it was freezing and there was snow, so my lunchtime walk was housework, there was loads of hoovering this week. Lockdown has turned me into a person I don’t recognise anymore…

Also this Saturday we did the family Champions League draw via Zoom, it’s weird, we now have a WhatsApp group for all five of us, that Oli set up (called CL Rivals!) it’s lovely but slightly weird that he’s grown enough to be in a WhatsApp group with us and to set it up! Ben and I are close to Mum but we aren’t at all close with our aunts and uncles and our parents weren’t close with their siblings, it’s nice to think that we still are and that we’re finding ways to include Oli (and eventually Joe). Ben also has this theory that in order to stop an emu attacking you, you have to put your hands above its head. That sounds to me like a ‘Dad fact’ and in particular, a Noel Dempsey special – this was the man that told me that ‘Hey Jude’ was written for my Aunt Jude! Anyway, my Champions League draw was Porto, PSG and Chelsea. Wish me luck, I’m going to need it!

My plans for this week are to spend some time on the plot, to take advantage of half term and some key people being out of the office to do some longer term work, instead of the fire fighting I’ve been doing so far this year! We had a really good year in 2020 and considering 9 months of it was mostly us all at home, it was a stellar year. Unfortunately, or fortunately for our long term job prospects, there is always more to do and every day is (or should be) a learning day!

Lent starts on Wednesday, so Tuesday is all about pancakes and excess because after that, I’m not eating sweets, crisps, cake, ice cream, biscuits or chocolate (we’re no fun until Easter, I’m allowing myself sugar free jelly and tinned fruit). I’m doing other stuff for Lent too, I’m bedding in my no meat or fish eating Monday to Friday, upping my food bank donations, and adding 30 minutes of prayer and meditation to my days. This Lent feels a little different, last year I leaned into it because we were in lockdown and it seemed to fit. This year, it feels like it’ll be easier or harder to do. After the first lockdown, the only change in my life was that I was working from home every day and I didn’t get to see my nephews, I’m not madly social, I still got to see my mum and while I didn’t see everyone as much as usual, there hadn’t been a huge change. Our third lockdown, feels like a massive change, I’ve seen Sue every week for a walk, I’ve seen the godchildren (Ryan and Miss T excepted) for walks, but I haven’t seen Ma and everything seems to be dragging. To say nothing of doing Spring on the plot solo again, I guess it’s just going to be a case of do it and see what happens..

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Friday Links: Indoors

Happy Friday! It’s been a week, I’ve not been around much and that may continue! Here are this week’s links…

Duped again: Irish unionists and the long, sorry history of Tory betrayal

Artists like me are being censored in Germany – because we support Palestinian rights. With the protests again Ken Loach at Oxford this week, this is worth reading. Criticism of Israel’s government policy is not anti semitism.

“After returning for two years to Tel Aviv, and many visits to the occupied Palestinian territories, I understood that Israel doesn’t live up to its professed high moral standards. The lesson learned from the Holocaust was ‘Never again!’ But is it intended only to protect us Jews? For me ‘Never again!’ must include ‘never again to racism, oppression, ethnic cleansing anywhere – as well as never again to antisemitism’.”

Extremists like Marjorie Taylor Greene are the real face of the new Republican party

Three American Mothers, on the Brink. Of the three of them, 29 year Mercedes needs a divorce from her 44 year old husband..

I am so sick of being asked if I regret not having children. Mum sent this to me, I think she might also be tired of being asked if I have a partner and why I don’t have children. I don’t think she’s been asked if I’m gay yet though but it’s only a matter of time!

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Friday Links:

Happy Friday! I’ve been staying away from social media for a while, I’m just tapped out and working on my kindle paperwhite being the only screen I go near.

So here are this week’s links…

Your ‘Surge Capacity’ Is Depleted — It’s Why You Feel Awful

Imaginary gin and fictitious chips got me through Friday

A Reader’s Guide to the Novels Behind ‘Bridgerton’. This is worth reading but there is one thing about the ‘Duke and I’ and the issues around consent. Daphne doesn’t get Simon’s in one instance but Simon has spent their entire marriage lying to Daphne and using her ignorance against her, she hasn’t thinks, and Simon knows this, that he couldn’t have children, her is ignorant of everything to do with sex, apart from what he choses to tell her. What Daphne does is wrong, but (and I except that I’m in a minority here) it’s understandable. Simon’s behaviour is also appalling, he’s supposed to be in love with Daphne and he takes shameless advantage of her. So in issues of consent, true consent, they both do wrong.

Penthouses and poor doors: how Europe’s ‘biggest regeneration project’ fell flat

Canada has designated the Proud Boys as a terrorist organization. Good

The frustrating reality of having vaccine-hesitant family members. Thankfully I do not have a vaccine hesitant parent…

America’s hollow middle class

Before the Capitol Attack, There Were the Abortion Wars

Phoney flag-waving is not the way for Labour to win back the red wall

Finally at some point this week, I cheered myself up with videos of baby pandas, this panda reminds me of my nephew….

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Yoga Every Damn Day

It’s February and my back is a mess. Well technically, it’s not my back, it’s my piriformis which is a form of sciatica. Joy, I know that if I don’t get to it now, I’m going to end up really throwing my back out and it won’t be pretty. I’m doing the stretches and releasing the muscle (and trying not to swear really loudly because there is a newborn living downstairs).

This is the downside of middle age, however, I know what works is yoga. So for February, I’m going to do it every day, I won’t like it but my back will!

Hopefully, by the end of the month, I’ll be as bendy as the little nephew…

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Monday Miscellany: February

Happy Monday!

January has been a slog, and honestly I think February is likely to be a slog too but it’ll be March in four weeks time!

Good news for the last day of January, is that Ma has had her first vaccination, which is a relief! There are also new babies, Tom had a girl and my downstairs neighbours had a boy. Whether I’m able to leave the house or not, the world carries on and I’m really grateful for the people who do the work that makes it continue.

But I’m finding this wearing, I miss my family, I miss the pub and going out for dinner and yes I know that I didn’t often do those things, I miss having the option. There are babies I cannot cuddle and parents I can’t hug. This generally sucks. I know that I’m lucky to be employed, housed and healthy. I’m grateful for those things, I’m just also very tired of not having options.

This week, I need to get a grip. I need to do yoga in the evening, I really need to tidy my flat and get my act together…

That’s the plan..

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