Allotment Adventures: Expansion

I think I’ve talked a little bit about my allotment neighbour, Joe and how this year has not been a good one for him. We saw him this weekend and he told us that he’s going to give up the plot this year. Our allotment year runs from 1st October and the chair of the committee has confirmed that I’m top of the waiting list for a whole plot. So we expanding and all of plot 186 becomes ours to tend.We were sort of expecting that this would happen but we’ll be really sorry to see Joe leave, he’s had the plot probably longer than I’ve been alive and he’s been a great source of encouragement and knowledge in the last couple of years and in fact said that he’s sad to be leaving but happy that he can hand it over to us ‘girls’. Fortunately, his daughter has the plot directly opposite, so I’m sure that we’ll get some visits.

Joe’s plot is a bit daunting to take over. He digs over his plot every year and that means weeds, lots and lots of them. There is also a gooseberry bush, a row of loganberries and I think a small apple tree. The plot backs onto the hedge and is more in shadow than my section of the plot, thanks to a building across the road that features in a lot of my photos of the plot!Ma was hoping that we could keep and make use of the shed to store the things she doesn’t like in our shed (mostly chickenwire and cloches) but the back of Joe’s plot is a lot messier than Ma or I would put up with and a lot of the ‘equipment’ and the shed itself is too far into the hedgerow. The rule is a metre between the fence and the plot and that’s not the case right now. So the first thing that will need to happen is that someone will have to come and check the very old shed for asbestos. If it does have asbestos then Pathways organise for it to taken away and disposed of and have a fund for doing so (which tells you a lot about allotments in the 60’s and 70’s!). If it just needs to be cleared away, then we can do that and it’ll go on the bonfire in November!My current plan is to do nothing until October because Joe is still there, the cabbages and courgette corridor are on Joe’s plot and we’ll continue to tend them and weed that area for him. In October, we’ll clear the back and move our compost bins to that area. We really need to work on making compost so I want to create buy some proper large bins so I can turn it and make lots. That will allow us to turn the two square beds either side of one of them. We’ll also look at creating a proper area for sitting down outside our current shed because we still haven’t got to grips with that. In terms of use of the extra space, I do eventually want to plant asparagus and more rhubarb (because there is never enough!) and I have another boysenberry plant so that has to go somewhere part of me is thinking about patio fruit trees, maybe a cherry and/or an apricot (for those of you I currently in various stages of maturity have 6 blueberry bushes, 2 blackcurrant bushes, 3 gooseberry bushes, two boysenberry bushes, loganberries, rhubarb, plums, summer and autumn raspberries – I like fruit!). We’ll have more space to grow things that sit in the ground longer too, brussel sprouts and parsnips are on my list and more of the things that we never get bored of carrots, beetroot and winter squash. I also want to grow some more flowers, a colleague at work has given me some sisyrinchium striatum so I’ll find some space for them and I’ll need to move some of the verbena bonariesis as its swamping a tiny lavender I planted in the same place.As we can’t do any of that for another couple of months, let’s talk about what is going on right now on the plot I do have.We harvested carrots, french beans, raspberries, beetroot, salad and courgettes. There are 4 tiny beetroot in the ground that I’ll leave until they are a bit bigger. The salad is done and was replaced at the weekend with cauliflowers. There are more carrots, french beans, raspberries, courgettes and summer squash to come and we are still waiting on the tomatoes, sweetcorn, borlotti beans, kale, leeks and chard. There cabbages and cauliflowers are for spring. We also sowed some turnips to see how they’ll do. Once we have some free beds, we’ll sow some winter lettuce and in autumn the sweetpeas and broad beans for next year.Right now life on the plot is harvesting, weeding and some watering, then processing everything we pick.

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Monday Miscellany: Back to work

Happy Monday!

Every year I take the week of my birthday off. I often don’t go anywhere but that time is really important to me. This year we went to Newcastle for three days and it was lovely. We’re still in August but it feels as though summer is over, some of that is because of the miserable weather and some of that is because it’s nearly time for schools to go back.

So last week’s re-entry into the normal world of commuting and work and not getting to do what I want when I want was tough and I need some time to read these. Birthdays really are the best.

Over the weekend, we worked at the plot, I got the flat in order (there was hoovering!), Christelle and Gabbie the dog came for a visit. I went to bed yesterday night knowing that I was set up for the week ahead.

This week, is all about calm, as the days get shorter, I need to start my autumn/winter coping strategies so that they are embedded habits come October. So lunchtime walk, doing enough housework in the evening so that mornings aren’t a rush, being much stricter about bedtimes and so on!

And I need to take my library books back…

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Friday Links: A mixed bag

Happy Friday!

You may or may not have noticed my absence from this space, I was having some site issues and was just really busy so it took me a while to sort out! Anyway, here are some links…

Lyme Disease Is Baffling, Even to Experts. One of the things that sticks out about this is the way doctors treat things that they either don’t understand because of science or don’t understand because of experience. I understand that pain is subjective but I also know that I’ve had experiences when I’ve known that something isn’t right and the doctor hasn’t wanted to believe that it’s serious or that I know is not right and it’s exhausting, advocating for yourself without knowing what’s going on.

Dingoes Have Created a Scientific Rift

Don’t Ban Assault Weapons—Tax Them

Nationalism in England is not just a rightwing nostalgia trip

Talk of a public housing renaissance in London is fake news

Hong Kong Shows the Flaws in China’s Zero-Sum Worldview. I haven’t thought much about China beyond thinking that I wouldn’t trust the Chinese government all that much, but this is interesting…

Of course the US supports a no deal – it makes a minnow out of Britain

Saudi Arabia allows women to travel without male guardian’s approval. Almost like adult women are actual people…

People want to travel more sustainably. But we need help to do it. While I agree that flying should be more expensive than going by train. Here’s an idea, maybe people should limit their travel full stop.

Meghan Markle Can’t Be a Royal Radical. It’s interesting what’s missing in this article. That’s money. Some of the stuff that Meghan Markle getting flack for is much less about her and more about her nationality and skin colour (and all of that is absolutely disgusting). However, she had a career and she gave it up and she is living off the State. I believe that if the Royal Family lived on a council estate The Sun would call them benefit scroungers. It’s an enormous privilege to never have to worry about money again, but it’s a gilded cage they all chose either to stay in or to enter. None of them can say they didn’t know what the deal was.

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Sunday Music: Eight Dogs, Eight Banjos – Old Crow Medicine Show

I’m sure I’ve had this on Sunday Music before but it’s my birthday on Tuesday and last week, when I was feeling pressured and tired, this came on and it made me happy! Because if you have a dog and a banjo (and you’re a hillbilly) then ‘yessir, we’re talking happiness here’…


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Friday Links: The News Doesn’t Get Any Better

Happy Friday!

Folks it has been a week. I’ve been having some minor house drama and it feels like the world is on fire. Boris Johnson is Prime Minister and no one seems to care…

Here are this week’s links…

My Boris Johnson story. This is so worth reading…

The Vote Leave gang now running Britain do not want to govern. They want to win. If one more brexiteer says that we won the War, I’m going to scream. We did at tremendous cost and we wouldn’t have won it if not for the Russians and Lend Lease (and can we all also note what happened when America called that bill in). The truth is that we are not at war, most of the generation of people who fought in that war and are still alive, voted remain. It’s the boomers who have no clue what it was actually like to live through a war that overwhelmingly voted for Brexit. (not all boomers, Ma!). Finally can we think about the language we’re using, we’re not at war ffs, not even close.

Mr Johnson swears off an early election, but his sweaty aroma says otherwise

Boris Johnson plans to frighten Europe then charm it. Here’s why he’ll fail

No-deal Brexit was once a sick Tory joke. Now it’s serious

What Jacob Rees-Mogg’s language rules reveal about him. I would say that they reveal he’s a hopelessly out of date idiot who is more concerned with rules, seeking the vision of a Victorian society that only ever ran for the rich and never for everyone in the country. Which is why he’s all grammar rules and Brexit instead doing something about homelessness and poverty…

UK’s cherry industry bounces back after almost withering

I followed the advice for Paris’s hottest day – it didn’t help. Paris has had a longer heat wave but they did more than London did. When we had 37C, it was 33C in the house. I basically wore a nightie, sat in front of a fan and had several tepid baths to keep cool. It wasn’t a fun day but it was survivable without air con. But that was one day and I’m privileged, I can work from home, I have fans and access to running water. When we tip into this being the weather? What then?

You can have a church or be a free woman – but having both is a struggle. This is worth reading. I come from a different tradition but ultimately left because I didn’t fit into any of the boxes that the Church had for me and thought that my faith was as valuable to God as that of the parish priest.

A Trump trade deal with Britain will unleash a bonfire of regulations

How we stopped counting calories and learned to love Spindrift

Chronic wounds: the hidden health crisis hitting 2m Britons

Boar wars: how wild hogs are trashing European cities File under things I didn’t know!

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Cooking from the Plot: Gooseberry Compote

We are nearly at the end of gooseberry season at chez Dempsey and it’s been amazing. We’ve had about 5kgs all in and even for a gooseberry loving pair it’s been a lot. I’m not sure what the variety is but they can be eaten straight off the bush so we’ve eaten loads of them just as they come. I’ve frozen some and I’ve made compote.

Compote is always really simple, take 500g of gooseberries and 125g of sugar and throw them in the pan. Heat gently until the gooseberries have burst and the sugar dissolves, about 15 minutes.

I like to eat mine in yogurt or on ice cream, but it’s jammy enough to go in the middle of a cake with some cream!

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Allotment Adventures: Courgettes and rain and tidying the shed

So the shed is finally tidy. We have new shelves (thanks Kathy and Adam!) and new drawers (Wilko’s finest!) and thanks to lots of tidying, it’s looking tidier. Ma still thinks there is too much stuff but I think we have the stuff we need!

I still need to paint the shed again though!

We were on the plot for about 4 hours but it didn’t feel like we got much done. Harvesting. (this season’s summer squash count is 44 courgettes and 4 crooknecks).Then I pulled down the sweet peas from the lettuce bed and the spinach that didn’t grow. Ma sowed the chard in a bed at the top of the plot. We then spent some time with the tomatoes. First Joe’s, which we tied up and tidied.Then some of mine, which I’m getting to this week.It’s the time of year that I always leave the plot with green fingers.As I said last week, we’re at an inbetween time but the cucamelons are about to flowerAnd everything seems to be ok.

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