Friday Links: Judicial Review

Happy Friday!

Liquid assets: the rise of laundry detergent more expensive than champagne. What the hell is wrong with people?

A lost generation are stuck living with their parents – and Tory talk of housebuilding won’t help them. I’m going to say it, I’m going to sound like a stuck record, but I’m going to say it. It’s only a problem now because middle class people are experiencing it, it’s been a problem for the working classes for years. It still is.

‘Farming good, factory bad’, we think. When it comes to the global food crisis, it isn’t so simple. It isn’t simple but I still disagree with his conclusions. Our landscapes especially in the UK are shaped by farming and yes we need to do it better and we can. Like everything else in the world it requires a fundamental change in how we think and live and eat. I eat less meat of better quality, I grow as much food as I’m able, while being conscious of not killing the soil I grow on. In seven years, the biodiversity of my  plot has improved. I try to buy local, I’ve talked about this at length. The fundamental problem is that our food system is broken, do you trust the people that broke it to fix it? Because I don’t think it was the farmers that broke it…

My Covid-era confidence crisis: how to regain your sense of self, hope and happiness. I remember at some point during lockdown seeing an extrovert post about how sorry they were for being so dismissive of introverts before lockdown because they hadn’t understood how awful it was to live in a world that didn’t meet your basic needs. While I didn’t enjoy not seeing my family and friends and I was worried about the state of the world, actually being in lockdown was not terrible for me. It’s almost become taboo to say that, I accept that it was lucky, I live alone, have a job that I can (mostly) do remotely and I didn’t have to worry about money. This was interesting for me to read so I can understand how other people coped or didn’t!

What if nobody is bad at maths?. I want this on record, it’s not my fault, I had terrible teachers…

Frilly dresses and white supremacy: welcome to the weird, frightening world of ‘trad wives’

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Miscellany: End of May

Happy Tuesday!

I decided to skip the Monday Miscellany post yesterday for Bank Holiday reasons. So here is is on the first official working day of the week. How are we at the end of May already? I still don’t feel like it’s actually summer yet but we are 22 days away from the longest day, I feel that summer is winding down before it’s actually started!

Last week was a busy week, work was all about catching up and I’m about to take on some new work things. This has been in the pipeline for a couple of months and is dependant on some other things happening. It should be quite interesting but will require quite a bit of learning so I’m using the waiting time to clear the decks a bit and get into some routines that will free up some time.

I’m not fantastic with change and 2023 has been quite unsettled already. Look, I know that some change is good and necessary, I know that most of the change happening this year has been good and necessary, even so, I find it difficult to cope with. The changes at work are also good and necessary but that doesn’t mean I’ll find them easy. Rather than stamp my feet about it, I’m taking steps to help me cope, at work and at home.

At home that means just trying to clear the decks and get things in the flat sorted. Right now that means, catching up on laundry and housework. I’m on a mission to tick everything off the list. Adulthood really is dealing with one thing after an another until you die, I wish I’d known.

There are good things, this weekend that was a visit from Tom and Ivy, it’s always lovely to see Tom and Ivy is a sweetheart (once she warms up to you and banana muffins do help with that!), it also allows me to remember how amazing child development is. I saw Ivy in January and five months later she’s almost talking in sentences. It’s wild.

Flowers for Ivy’s mum from the plot

Tomorrow, I’m off for the day for haircut. I can’t believe it’s come round so quickly, last time, Jane cut my hair to see if we could encourage the wave in it. We’ve managed that and it’s strange because I think it’s a noticeable change but no one seems to have noticed it. It’s also a big change to how I care for my hair, I haven’t used the hairdryer in a month although I think I’ll need to get a diffuser for winter, my hair takes a while to dry and I don’t fancy doing that when it’s cold.

The rest of the week is pretty quiet, I don’t have any major plans for the week or the beginning of June, although there are a couple of parties coming up at the end of June.

Have a good week!

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Friday Links: Judicial Review

Happy Friday!

Too tired to cook. Too easy to open a packet. It’s not our fault we eat junk

‘In London there is no space at all’: the rise of self-storage as rents soar

‘You have no security’: the households affected by no-fault evictions

Bus fares: £2 cap in England extended to end of October. Using the buses out of London, it cost me £4 return from Newcastle to Warkworth, previously it was about £7. It’s not such an issue in London (a single is £1.65 and capped at £4.50 a day!) but outside of London can make a massive difference but really like with the trains, it’s time to renationalise bus services

Give customers a fair deal or else, finance regulator warns sector. It’s funny when I see something in the paper that has been a huge thing at work. Consumer duty is a major strand of our work at the minute and it’ll be a massive change in thinking too…

Westminster forgot its promises to ‘coastal communities’, and left them to rot. Kind of did it to the entire country with the exception of their mates..

Sunak’s summit was a sedative, not a cure

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The Procession by Hew Locke

When in Newcastle, Ma and I always like to visit the Baltic. It’s such lovely building and not too big. I remember visiting the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris, in my 20’s and deciding it was the perfect size for art work and I feel the same way about the Baltic. I’m fond of Tate Modern but it can be pretty overwhelming, the Baltic is just the right size!

One of the floors was taken up with The Procession by Hew Locke. This was commissioned by the Tate in 2022 and has moved up to the Baltic until 11 June 2023.

At the Baltic, it’s less of a procession because the space is shorter and wider, but the figures are still all moving in the same direction. It’s fascinating and honestly, if we’d had more time, I’d have gone back because I think you could spend hours and find more in it because it’s layered in meaning and history.

If you can, it’s really worth a visit.

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Allotment Adventures: Planting begins

At this time of year, it feels like a race to get everything in the ground and while I’m not immune to this urge, I’m also a bit behind due to weather and late sowing.

At home the tomatoes and summer squash are slowly growing but the winter squash, cucumbers and melons were racing away. So I made a decision to get them out of the house and into the ground.

Ma can’t do bending down things, so while I cleared the polytunnel bed and topped it up with fresh compost, she did all the watering and feeding of the fruit.

Future blueberries

I planted up two rows of melons (Minnesota Midget from saved seeds and Petit Gris de Rennes from Real Seeds) and one row of cucumbers (I sowed some of everything from boothby’s blonde, early fortune and wautoma but I’m not sure what’s what!), everything had a very good water and then I mulched with straw. In the corner of the bed is my vietnamese coriander, which will stay there, later on in the summer, I’ll take some cuttings and keep some indoors over winter, in case it gets really cold again!

Last summer was really dry and hot and I really struggled to keep the beds well watered, so I decided that this year I’d try mulching the beds with straw to keep moisture in. Obviously, this means that this summer will be wet but we’re trying it and we’ll see if it helps. Which is why went I’d planted up the polytunnel, I covered the bed with straw.

Once the poly was sorted, it was time for the winter squash. First to weed the beds, I’m unhappy about how much bindweed seems to be coming up in the beds, but it really is a matter of see it pull it, it’s a war not a battle! We planted Waltham Butternuts, Boston, Queensland Blue, Georgia Candy Roaster, Galeuse d’Eysines, and Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato in the big winter beds and then we watered and mulched.

Winter Squash beds

We put the Hokkaido in the boxes by the herb patch and built an arch for them to grow up. We mulched them and also mulched the sweet potatoes. There are a couple of Thelma Sanders left over and we did a quick review of which of our beds were empty and re-assessed the plan. The bed that still has the flowering kale in it, is going to house some sweetcorn, so next week, we’ll clear it, and plant sweetcorn, the three remaining squash plants and some beans and have a three sisters thing going on.

While we were away last week, Ma and I decided to order some more herbs! We ordered a replacement blackcurrant sage, a cola plant, two french tarragons and 6 thyme plants. The plan is to plant more thymes in the paths because we are fond of the way they creep and it’ll (maybe) reduce our need to weed in those areas!

The idea is more of this but in the paths!

As ever at this time of year, we’ve done loads but we have loads more to do.

Let’s have a look at our list!

  • Get all the compost to the plot – partially, I have about 20 bags to go
  • Weed and top up all empty beds – partially, all the beds in the new half of the plot have been done
  • Sow parsnips
  • Apply ant nematodes to polytunnel, blueberries and bulb beds
  • Module sowing for poly – brussels, kale, cabbages, cauliflower, parsley, basil, coriander, flowers
  • Paint the shed
  • Tidy the shed
  • Net the gooseberries
  • Net the blackcurrants
  • Put up the poles for netting the blueberries
  • Finish weeding the front of the plot and shed
  • Trim the grass in the bulb bed
  • Strim the grass path – partially done, I did a bit more this week and will finish next week
  • Weed the paths and top up with woodchip if there is any available
  • Finish weeding the pond area, rose garden and iris bed
  • Mulch the pond area, rose garden and iris bed
  • Join the rose garden to the iris bed and plant out the area
  • Plant out the herbs from Urban Herbs
  • Finish the patio
  • Set up the arches for bean planting
  • Set up the last arches for the yellow rose and squash boxes
  • Turn the compost bin
  • pot on the tomatoes
  • Plant out summer squash
  • Sow cucumbers outside
  • Sow beans
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Warkworth to Amble

On the second day of our Northumberland trip, we got the bus to Warkworth. It’s an hour and a half-ish from Newcastle and there has been a change in the bus fares so it only cost me £4 there and back which makes a change from the £7-ish it cost last year.

Since we were last here there have been some changes, not to the castle but to the information about the castle. It’s now a much more educational space and there were trails for different people that would have lived and/or worked in the castle. Each one had a little symbol to follow, which I thought was a nice touch.

From Warkworth we walked down to Amble.

It’s a pretty walk.

At Amble we had a little wander and found ourselves in at The Old Boathouse for fish and chips. The food was great, while we were eating it started to rain and we sympathised with the waitress who had left her washing out!

Although we were stuffed, it wouldn’t have been right to leave without a trip to Spurreli for ice cream.


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Monday Miscellany: Rested

Happy Monday!

We got back from Newcastle on Thursday and while I am happy to be home, I really enjoyed being away. We got good weather and rest and some walking and old buildings. It was good.

So having had a small break from my life, it’s back to it this week and catching up! This is going to be my first five day week this month, I have a feeling it’s going to be a tough week! It’s also going to be busy, at the weekend, I logged on and spent a couple of hours dealing with email! In a week away I went from the zero inbox I left to find about 450 to deal with. I got rid of the stuff that had aged out and sorted the easy stuff, I have about 20 that actually require me to do more work and I need to go and look at my manager’s email today!

So that’ll keep me out of mischief!

I also really need to finish some things in the flat (returning my broken heated airer and sorting the replacement) and generally get my mojo back. This year has not been good for motivation and I’ve been feeling so out of control. It’s been ok, because I’ve had enough support and systems in place to weather it. However, I’m about to embark on a new work thing. My role is changing and I’m taking on some different and new stuff. So it’s going to involve more learning and being way out of my comfort zone. While I’m looking forward to it and I think it’ll be ok, I don’t traditionally handle transition well and this year feels like it’s been all about transition.

I need to sort the other areas of my life out so that I can focus on work for a while!

Have a good week!

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Allotment Adventures: Seedling Set Up

Seven years ago, I signed up for an allotment and for seven years I’ve been struggling with indoor sowing. The reasons are obvious, I live in a one bedroom flat with no garden that is quite dark and as with all houses built in the early 1900’s, no windowsills.

February 2017, my first ever seedling set up!

I have tried all sort of things, mostly, I do a lot more direct sowing (all peas, beans and sweetcorn for starters) but I usually end up with the living room floor covered with leggy pale seedlings! Last year was the best year because I was able to boot them out into the polytunnel, so they did get more light!

Tomatoes on the floor last year

Since COVID and with more home working,  a floor covered with plants, is just now on and so last year I bought a spare mini greenhouse for sowing seeds. Three weeks ago (you know how I’m always saying that I was late sowing? This year I really was!) Ma and I sowed our seeds for summer.

We did all the winter squash, the summer squash and the melons and the tomatoes. And then I realised that the one grow lamp I had (this one) wasn’t going to cut it and I bought these ones. They attach to the shelves and run off one plug and you can connect another four, which I’ll be doing that next year.

I also bought a timer so that they can click on and off this week while I’m away.

No solution is perfect, the seedlings are still leggy but they have a place now, I can use the living room and that’s a pretty good outcome!

Even with the grow lights, they are still as leggy as all get out but, at least they aren’t all over the floor!

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Allotment Adventures: Everything’s Coming Up Roses

Last Saturday we had lots to do and not a huge amount of time in which to do it.

The peony is in flower

We started with the sweet potato slips that arrived on Friday. First we had to fill the bed, then plant and then cover them with fleece because it still feels really cold.

Gooseberries and Sweet Potatoes all protected!

I put together an arch, to support my favourite rose bush, which is just about to burst into flower!

Yellow roses are my favourite

We set up the netting for the gooseberries and then I got sidetracked by the stated of the cane storage at the back of the plot (and I managed to bash myself in the face with some piping!)


That done, we mulched the potato bed. I have only grown potatoes in a bed once before and it was really difficult to keep them watered. I’m also just not sure what the weather is going to do this year, this time last year, we were at the beginning of drought and I thought for this year, mulching would help with my growing. I may only use it on the potatoes, if it stays this wet, I might just experiment on a couple of beds and see if it makes a difference.

Cosy potatoes!

That done, we called it good and went home!

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Whitley Bay to Tynemouth

The first day of our holiday, it was a priority to get to the sea. I needed some seaside time, it’s called Vitamin Sea for a reason!

Ma wanted to go to Whitley Bay and I wanted to go to Tynemouth, so we went to Whitley Bay and walked to Tynemouth. While three miles isn’t that much of a walk, it’s a lot if you’re 74, have arthritic knees and feet and some balance issues. Ma did it though and it’s a lovely walk.

Ma wanted to go and see the Spanish City, it’s a pretty building but other than that was a crashing disappointment.

The walk was beautiful, we had been expecting rain but it was a lovely sunny day.

We got to walk on the beach and get our feet in the sea (Ma a bit more than she planned to!), however this route is prepared for the aged, walking along.

We visited the Priory for a bit and then went back to Newcastle.

It was a good day!!

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