The classic recipe I can never get right. This used to be me, the secret is to show it no fear and I get it right 90% of the time nowadays. I did find that changing to whole milk helped a lot in my hit rate. For the thing I really have never mastered, step up Key Lime Pie, Jo has mercifully stopped sending me recipes for it but maybe it’s time to try again.
This time of year is tricky. Summer isn’t precisely over yet, if you have tomatoes unblighted, they are probably producing, the summer squash isn’t over quite yet and there is kale, chard and raspberries starting to ramp up production.
Last week we had amazing summer like weather and the cucumbers and squash rewarded us with production (seven cukes, six straightnecks and two round courgettes). There were a handful of beans and the last of one carrot bed. I had a tidy up of the kale bed, so we had about 800 grams of that.
After some produce collection, Ma and I got the nets on the cauliflower and kale raised as they were in danger of being cramped!
Then we spent some time on tidy up. Weeding and clearing some of the self seeded area. As I said September is tricky, things are slowing down, having done an entire summer of gardening, there are new ideas about how to change the garden for next year. We always do the major changes in winter but we can’t start quite yet.
Our working plan is that sometime after our holiday, my lovely friends will come and help me sort out building a polytunnel. After that, we’ll start moving some plants and building six new beds plus another in the poly.
We’ll also need to harvest sweet potatoes and winter squash, and plant onions and garlic and sow broad beans and maybe winter peas. There is always something to do. But we can’t do any of it yet.
So I guess it’s just time to enjoy the garden and weed!
Last week was extremely social for me, I’m for sure going to spend some time this week alone and not talking to anyone because I’m feeling slightly crazed…
Part of that is because of the ongoing new neighbours shenanigans, on Friday I had to go next door and point out that they really can’t be knocking a fire place out on a party wall without a party wall agreement and then frantically contacting my landlord and the landlord for downstairs (they used to be my neighbours so they are friends too) so we could get it sorted out. The roof and chimney next door are not in a great state so knocking out a load bearing wall is not very safe and I’m allergic to the idea of it falling on my head or losing my living room wall because of cowboy builders! While I was at it, I also had a talk to downstairs about the ongoing situation with the bins. I hate to do it but its the tiny, little things that make for bad neighbour relations and maggots in rubbish bins, rubbish in recycling bins, leaving things out for foxes to get and using all the bins so I can’t put the one bag of rubbish I generate every two weeks out are things that seem minor but really get to you (or maybe just me!).
I’m sure that it’ll all sort itself out and be fine but I don’t like having to be the person to pull people up, moving and new houses are stressful enough but I have to live here too and it all felt exhausting.
I’m really feeling the ‘back to school’ vibe at the moment, more people are coming into the office and on Thursday after work we went for drinks. It feels like we are all being cautiously optimistic, although I just got the notice for my flu jab and Ma has hers booked so we’re not being stupid but things do feel more normal.
Last week was also the momentous occasion of the youngest nephew turning six. We went up on Saturday for dinner and then for the birthday party on Sunday. Which was all fun, six is the age you wear your football kit to your birthday party!
I spend Friday afternoon with a friend and then with her and her kids, which is adding to my ‘things might be getting to the new normal’ vibe too.
This week is slightly less mad, I’m in the office a couple of days and seeing Sue for a walk today, I have some solo allotment time as Ma isn’t here this weekend and I’m going to see Christelle and Mike on Saturday via Ma’s (just because she’s not on the plot, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t get a share of the bounty!)
Overall, it’s a bedding in week, house tidy, bedtimes and generally ensuring that I have some control over what’s happening. We’ll see how that works out!
As part of my climate conscious, use less plastic drive, I needed to address the problem of washing up sponges.
Once I’d used up the ones I had already bought, I tried some silicone ones but they were worse than useless and it was an effort to use them to destruction but I did it and then went to these.
They are quite stiff to start with, but are much nicer to use than the silicone things, the scrubby side works ok and can be used on non-stick, I just use a metal scourer for things that need more scrubbing, which I was doing anyway. The best bit is that when I’m finished with them, I can cut them up and put them in the bokashi.
The only thing that’s bad about them is the cost, 12 sponges cost £25 (I got 5% off and delivery was free, so £22.50). Plastic sponges in Wilko are £1 for 20. I know that money is an issue for most people and I’m extremely privileged to be able to buy the expensive washing up sponges/scourers but I’ve been saying it most of the year but things that are bad for the planet need to be taxed more heavily and the planet friendly alternatives need tax breaks so buying them is easier. If we are serious about climate change, we have to be serious about it and governments need to start putting their money where their mouths are. In the meantime, if you can afford it, these will at least stop some plastic consumption.
We didn’t do much this week, I was tired and needed to shop.
So we came and watered (which was a mission in and of itself) and harvested.
The beans and cukes are winding down but the summer squash is on a mission.
There are some parts of the plot that are looking wild.
Because it’s been hot this week, yeah, September so far has been warmer than all of August, I went to water again this morning. And there were another 4 straightneck squash (it’s really living up to the prolific part of early prolific straightneck!) and another courgette. Also 4 strawberries!
The roses are having a second wind as well, I have no idea what they are but they sure are pretty. We call the red one, Iris, after my Grandma because it’s just so in your face!
We’re in a nice space at the moment with the production winding down a bit, everything is in for winter and it’s really just maintenance until things really slow down and we can start moving and building things for next year.
Usually I’m anxious to start but this year I just want to enjoy it.
Last week, I finally reached my limit with the effects of peri menopause and got a prescription for HRT (and if anyone like would like to hear me rant about how annoyed I was to discover that one month is counted as two prescriptions so double the cost, I can do that too – it’s really no wonder that women my age are full of rage!). At the time of writing I have no idea how that’s going in pan out but I did have a bit of a wobble over my blood pressure, which is higher than the guidelines would like. All the advice was the standard diet (lose weight, drink less caffeine and alcohol), exercise (do more of it) and sleep (sleep more!).
In thinking about taking some action on this, this time of year is that I start to implement some stricter routines to help me when autumn/winter descends and my SAD kicks in. I’m not good in darker months of the year. Also, while know that the pandemic isn’t over, I’m going to be going into the office at least 2/3 days a week so it’s time to set some goals.
So first up what I’m not going to do, which is go on a diet. I don’t like them, they don’t work long term and they make me neurotic. What I am going to do is get back to better habits and rather than set them for the month, this is what I want to commit to from now until December.
Golden Hour – Sunday to Thursday no screens from 9pm, tidy flat, everything ready for the next day, bath before bed. Which leads to:
Yoga – 10 minutes before bed, which should help me wind down and get better sleep
Bedtimes – Sunday to Thursday 10pm.
Exercise – more walking, to get back to a consistence 70,000 steps a week and two body balance a week at home.
Coffee. I only drink coffee in the morning but I have been using the litre size cafetiere, so it’s time to downsize to the small one Monday to Thursday. On Saturdays, I share (where share means drink quickly or there won’t be any left!) with Ma and I can have a big pot of coffee to myself on Sundays, I’m home.
Alcohol. No more than two days a week.
Diet. I’m already a weekday vegetarian. But I do need to watch is my cheese intake (cheese is lovely) so I’m going to try and make a couple of vegan meals a week. I’m also implementing a no junk food that I didn’t make myself. I define junk food as crisps and cake and biscuits. So if I want them I have to make them. I’m quite lazy so what are the chances of me eating that much cake?
Realistically, I’m not going to be perfect on this, but 80% of the time, this is where I want to be. Let’s see how it goes.
There is the ongoing trash fire that is the world right now. The Texas abortion law and the Supreme Court just refusing to do anything about it, the sorry state of the government in this country, the entire world’s inability to do anything about climate change. Things are heavy.
Then there is the sheer exhaustion that three days straight in the office brings nowadays and trying to cram five days work into four. I was not prepared for how absolutely exhausted I would feel by Thursday. Yes, the 6am (and darker) mornings were difficult but I think it’s also having to interact with people. Up until this week, days in the office have been more efficient than working at home, it’s been quiet and I have better tech and less distractions, but with a lot more of the team in the office, there has been more chatting and catching up which has been great but has led to more ‘asks’ from the team and we are in a brand new building, so I’m having to learn how to do something before I can do it. Don’t get me wrong all of this is good but I’m still an introvert and it’s still exhausting especially as I’m out of practice!
I also spent a fair amount of the week at the doctor’s, I’d had a phone appointment on Friday and needed to go in to have height, weight and blood pressure measured before I can get my prescription. Middle age and perimenopause are bad enough but now I have a small issue with my blood pressure, the nurse said I was at the top of the ok range but I need to work on lowering it. They didn’t tell me what I needed to do but a quick google said the, usual, weight, exercise, diet and sleep, so goals for September have been made for the first time since lockdown, more on those tomorrow.
So most of the week was caught up in, work and doctor’s appointments for issues caused by middle age and two sets of new neighbours (it’s not going well with either set – and yes I know I’m the common denominator but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to object to maggots in my rubbish bin which they shouldn’t be using or DIY after 9pm and all bloody weekend!).
There was other good stuff, a Friday haircut, buying birthday presents for nephew, a good work appraisal but it’s Monday and I’m not feeling quite as refreshed as I could be.
This week’s plans aren’t terribly exciting, work, house, singing Happy Birthday to the smallest nephew who’s turning six on Wednesday. We’re going up on Saturday so we get to spend some time with them before the chaos of the party is on Sunday! We’re also about to get some summer weather, so I’ll need to up the watering at the plot. It really is all go here…
It took an age to get any cucumbers but we’ve had 22 in two weeks! I love cucumbers, but this is a lot, my sister in law is having the same issue, my brother says they are eating them in everything, putting them on their eyes in the morning and I know the feeling…
I decided to make some pickles. These are Smitten Kitchen’s Easiest Fridge Dill Pickles. I didn’t have a big enough jar, this did two of my cucumbers. They’re good and I will be probably making another batch before the weekend.
We had two days this weekend. So we started with coffee on Saturday morning and a plan of attack.
Ma started at the back and I started at the front. My weeding job was easier because the soil at the top is is better condition but that also means that the grass has been having a field day, lots of roots but they were easier to get up. Ma was tackling the area by the apple tree which was a complete nightmare, despite having been cleared already.
I also cleared the bulb bed under the plum tree and took up the poppies that were dying back and I tackled the ‘wild’ area at the front were we have let the coriander, calendula, mallow, borage, orache and verbena self seed with abandon. Lots of them are dying back and going to seed. I don’t object to that but I pulled up the most dead plants and scatted some of the seeds on the now cleared bulb bed. It’ll need some more work later but it’s a little more controlled at the moment. You can see the paths now!
I also watered a bit. At the beginning of the month, it was so wet and now really dry. I’ve resigned myself to a mid week water for the next couple of weeks, as there’s not much rain predicted.
That was Saturday, Sunday was a later start and began with a shed clear out. I do need to paint the shed soon but for the moment we can find everything again.
Then it was time to finish at the back. We put together the compost riddler and finished the weeding we wanted to do around the apple tree. We’ve cleared the space where the polytunnel will be built in the autumn. We’re going to move some of the roses at the back and make a garden next to where the poly tunnel will be, so it was time to cut down the apple tree and cardboard and compost the area we’d fenced off.
We had some used compost from the potatoes and we also riddled the compost in the bin, I can’t explain how pleased I am that we made compost.
We netted it or the wildlife will just dig it up, but I’m pretty impressed. Other than the roses, I’ll have to give some thought to what else we put here. The rest of the back is a confusion of strawberries, boysenberry and weeds, we’ll get to sorting it out next week.
Ma also decided to move all the blueberries to the back, where the poly will eventually be, it’s weird because we’re back to having a plan but needing to wait, which seems to how August and September go on the plot!
We also did some harvesting, kale, chard, carrots, two summer squash, 12 cukes and over a kilo of french beans! The chard was wilty, I think that it’s just been too dry, so I tidied the bed up and we deeply watered it, I hope it’ll recover.
It’s in pretty good shape and we’ve hit some of the things we really needed to do but I have a list of work for September.
weeding – by the gooseberries and down the side path
tidy up rose garden and pond area
raise the height of the netting on the kale and broccoli, they are looking very crowded
paint the shed
empty and riddle the rest of the compost
path by the compost bed – it needs carboarding and woodchipping because it feels like a trip hazard