Friday Links

Happy Friday!

This week I resigned from my temp job because I have a new, permanent job that starts on 31st May. Which is just perfect timing, as I’m running out of money to supplement temping wages and I don’t like temping, you can’t really start anything worthwhile. So a new job, a new commute on a different tube line and new things to learn starting next week, I’m terrible with change so it’s going to be an interesting couple of months!

Since last Friday, I’ve posted Sunday Music, Monday Miscellany, and an update on the allotment

Other people’s blogs:

Valonia wrote about how plans on the allotment change.  And who doesn’t want a mini fruit orchard?

Sharon’s alliums are flowering. I aspire to be as good at growing things as Sharon is!

Here are this week’s links…

My parents and ‘middle Ireland’ could decide Ireland’s abortion vote. There’s some huge change happening in Ireland right now..

It’s okay to enjoy the royal wedding. Constitutional monarchies are great. Seriously? Prince Charles IS politically engaged, he interferes all the sodding time and he’s not even king, this is a justification to make Americans feel better. I can’t write a better reply to it it than this, It’s not Harry and Meghan. It’s the monarchy I oppose

A monarchy establishes inherited privilege at the heart of government and embeds patronage at the centre of power. The royals are a class act. And that’s the problem. I’m not a very passionate republican – many things bother me more than the monarchy. But as principles go it is unwavering. We have a class problem in Britain and the monarchy exemplifies it……

I am a republican and a humanist. Indeed, I am a republican because I am a humanist. I wish the individuals well and the institution ill.

What do migraines really feel like? They aren’t headaches, this week I had a headache for the whole of Monday and a considerable chunk of Tuesday but I went to work and had a normal day, I didn’t really enjoy it but I could do it. But I have some of these symptoms and it’s not fun.

Caring for a child when their parents can’t? The state takes you for a mug. I’m really not sure about this. I have a problem with the idea that I would need paying to look after the children in my family. I pray daily for the safety of my family but if anything was to happen to my brother or sister-in-law, I would move to Bedfordshire and look after my nephews. It wouldn’t be my first choice, not least because of what would have had to have happened for that to be necessary, but it also wouldn’t be a question and it might mean that money was tight but that’s what you do.  It wouldn’t be a favour I was doing for Social Services, it would be my duty. It’s not unreasonable to ask relatives to care for the children of the family and I don’t think that it’s something that they should expect pay for. I’m also really tired of Louise Tickle’s bias against Social Services. Social workers are not demons, they are for the most part dedicated people doing a job no one wants to do, under huge pressure with limited resources and it’s time for some balance.

Why is M&S in such trouble? Because they stopped doing what they do well. M&S linen trousers cost £25 and last one summer, their linen shirts cost £25 and even when they are 3 sizes larger than I actually need, gape at the chest. I wear a lot of long drapey cardigans, the ones in M&S cost £20 to £30 and the ones in Primark cost £8, the important part of this is that the ones in Primark wear and wash better. The sizing in M&S is all over the place and the quality has diminished but the prices have not. This year every bloody thing has a high round neck, a statement bloody sleeve or is a terrible colour. I’m 45, I grew up with M&S I’m inclined to start there but it’s really hard to find stuff that I want wear that fits/suits me in M&S. They’ve forgotten their audience AND downgraded their quality, that why their in trouble. It’s not the internet, its the stuff they’re selling…

The Curse of Summer 2018….ripped jeans tanlines

Thanks! Any other advice? Yes. You could also try wearing jeans that don’t have any holes in them.

But holes are cool. No, they’re not. They’re cool on teenagers and pop stars. You’re an adult with three children and a comfortable job in middle management. Whenever you wear ripped jeans, you look like someone who has recently been cut out of the wreckage of a car accident.

The Lesson of Eric Greitens, and the Navy SEALs Who Tried to Warn Us. Stuff like this helps me understand the US more, but it’s a worry.

How Americans got ‘the sesh’ completely wrong. Mmm…I think millennials have it wrong too. Isn’t it when you go for one and it goes a bit bigger and the next thing you know it’s 3am and you’ve probably eaten a kebab (on the night bus home no less) and you get home for 2 hours sleep, a shower and a change of clothes and into the office you go.

Patrick Melrose captures heroin addiction perfectly – it brought my memories flooding back. This is worth reading…

You May Never Have Things Under Control, But You Can Have a Pajama Set So true, this is why I have an extensive pyjama collection. And Americans, what have you done with the y in pyjamas?

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Allotment Adventures: Planting out

This week we planted out all the things.The jury is out on how many will survive, the tomatoes and cucumbers look to be in a bad way right now. I have some spare plum tomatoes that can replace the dead tomatoes and I have resown some cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and a crookneck.I should be a better plant parent and harden them off and so on but  I don’t. Apparently, being a seedling in my care is the plant equivalent of being raised by Spartans. You live or you die!

However, we did good work at the weekend, not enough weeding for Ma but it’s all coming together. We filled the new bed at the top of the plot with compost, we used coir and our favourite Wilko’s value compost to get about 100 litres. There was no reason for using it, it was the stuff we could carry. Although looking at the health of the three uchiki kuri plants in that bed, I’m going to consider adding it in future to the beds for the thirstier plants for it’s water retaining properties.We planted the four other uchiki kuri plants in the containers, to hopefully grow up the arch! The ‘soil’ in these containers is amazing. When I first got the plot, I moved both containers to this position and it’s where we put all the weeds we were digging up, which we covered and left, the rotted down and last year I filled both containers with a bunch of wood chip and then more Wilko value compost and I planted squash in them last year. In the autumn, I added manure and the spent compost from the buckets and covered. It’s rotted down really well and I’m hopeful that it’ll grow some amazing squash this year!We also planted out courgettes and cucumbers and sowed sweetcorn. I had three spare cucumbers that went in with the sweetcorn. When (if) the sweetcorn is about 9-10 inches high, I’ll sow borlotti beans next to them to climb up. Hopefully the cucumbers will survive and provide ground cover. The worse that can happen is that it doesn’t work!

We did a little rearranging and I have four beds of tomatoes (if they live!) and instead of my planned two courgettes and two crooknecks, we have four courgettes and one crookneck. The lack of crooknecks is because two didn’t survive transportation to the plot and we had two spare courgettes and I have trouble not planting them out. I did this last year too!

Do you remember that I repotted the mint a couple of months ago? You all know how hard it is to kill mint? Reader, I killed the mint. Which meant I had two lovely terracotta pots, into which I planted the cucamelons. I’ll buy another mint at some point to go into the green box.I know that I’m going to end up with more stuff in buckets, I want to do another bucket of radishes and carrots and you know that there will be spare tomatoes. At some point I need to move that cloche and plant something there..

That’s nearly it for planting out. I have three butternut and three boston squash that need homes and I need to pot on and then plant out the basil. The next thing for me to do it think about later summer and autumn crops (pak choi, cauliflowers, kale, chard and more salad crops) most of the rest of my summer is going to be about watering, weeding, and with any luck, harvesting.

Some longer term things are planting bulbs in autumn, wood chip at the top of the plot, patio, support for the raspberries, autumn raspberries in another spot and expanding my blueberry empire.

 

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Monday Miscellany

Last week seemed ridiculously busy, I don’t think it actually was but Monday night was a transport nightmare and then something I had to get done ate up an hour and a half of my life! I was out on Thursday, Friday and Saturday night. All things I wanted to do but I feel that another day at home just pottering about would be a good thing!
I went to a football match on Friday night, it was old Chelsea players vs old Inter Milan players. We lost 4-1 and I have to say it the old Inter players looked much fitter than our guys! The next day the actual Chelsea team, won the FA Cup, which was the important news of the day!

When I’m in the vicinity of a TV and there’s football on I watch it but I much prefer watching it live. It’s just better, I think it’s because I grew up with limited football on TV but with a lot of actual football matches in my life and still not as many as B did. If I won the lottery I’d want a season ticket!We did all the planting on the plot on Saturday and this morning when I went to water, some of the plants where not doing too well, I’m a bad plant parent.

My plans for the week involve leaving the house at 7:30am every morning this week. I also have a doctors appointment, I’m babysitting on Tuesday night and there is allotment watering to attend to!  So not too busy, not too relaxed. What are your plans for this week.

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Sunday Music

Sometimes you need something, foot stomping and hand clapping and Nathaniel Rateliff has you covered…

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Friday Links

Happy Friday! It’s been a week, which is something I’ve been saying quite a lot lately, things are in flux, people and it’s a strange place to be. Other than that, it’s been a pretty successful week.

This week on the blog, there was miscellany, rhubarb gin and an allotment update.

Here are this week’s links…

Just when you think Trump has done all the damage to the world he possibly could. There is more. Trump threw a match into Jerusalem with no plan to put out the fire. This week, Israeli soldiers were killing Palestinians. I have no doubt that Hamas is coordinating the protests, it was Nabka day this week so there were going to be protests but no Israeli deaths versus 60 and 2500 injured. That is a slaughter, not a defence. One thing about Hamas, extremism is mostly a product of hopelessness. I don’t like Hamas, I think their views are repugnant but if you refuse to deal with them, if you refuse to allow any light in, then Hamas is what you get. Israel has a right to exist but it has to recognise that it was founded by displacing Palestinians and it can understand that without ceding it’s right to exist. What it can’t do, is claim to be the bastion of democracy of the Middle East and do what it’s doing to Palestinians, that’s just hypocrisy. What Israel is doing, the policies it’s government executes, the corruption of it’s Prime Minster is wrong. It’s not antisemitic to say so.

Mysterious rise in banned ozone-destroying chemical shocks scientists. Sometimes I absolutely despair of the world. The ban in CFC’s and the gradual repair of the ozone layer was something that we got right. I really question whether humans deserve this planet…

My life was so hectic that I welcomed getting ill. Ma used to say that you could have a happy marriage, children or a job but you could only have two at a time. I don’t know if that’s true, seeing as I only have the job part of that equation but there’s something about how we live right now that makes us feel time poor.

Yet again a private franchise has failed on the East Coast Mainline, but when it was rescued last time and was state run, it made a profit. This should tell you something. I don’t agree with all of this piece by Andrew Adonis because I believe that national utilities (trains, water, energy should be nationalised) but it makes some good points.

Because it’s not 2018 or anything. Bank deputy fails test for top job with ‘menopause’ comment.

Gareth Southgate sticks to his guns with squad it’s hard to argue with We are entering a World Cup summer which, along with Euro summers, are the only times I really miss having a TV. England are not going to win but I’m really pleased that Southgate is taking a younger team.

The Deadpool Moment. We saw this last night and loved it.

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Allotment Adventures: Everything is growing but mostly the weeds

This weekend was another solo weekend at the plot for me. I don’t know what the weather did where you are but on Saturday, it rained and rained, so I stayed indoors and on Sunday after my regular dog walking appointment with Sarah, I went to the plot via Wilko to pick up 6 of these. Yes, they were heavy and yes I did get funny looks on the bus!

The first order of the day was to do some weeding in the absence of the weedmaster also known as Ma! I weeded around the plum tree and hyacinths, there was a lot of grass. I also dug up more stray raspberry runners. Two years ago when I got the plot, Joe told me that he’d been thinking of pulling them up, they’d been planted sometime in the early 1970’s and he thought maybe they were just exhausted. They were certainly weed infested. That summer, we worked really hard, weeding and then mulching with compost and woodchip. Other than weeding them, that is all we’ve done and they have sprung back to life and annoyingly all over the rest of the plot! It’s a good problem to have!

Then I got busy with the hammer and put together the new winter squash bed.I was talking to my plot neighbour T (who is always teasing me about how much work Ma does, while I just swan about planting things!), as more people are back on their plots, I get lots of comments about how tidy our plot is. To be fair it is mostly pretty tidy but what it isn’t is straight. If I had planned the layout of the plot and knowing what I know now, I would probably have levelled it first. Instead, we just plonked the beds in as we could afford them, so straight and level the plot isn’t. We decided that this adds to my plot’s ramshackle charm, I wouldn’t want it to be too perfect! Which is why I’m not bothered by the not perfectly straight new squash bed.Last week, I took some of the over abundance of tomato plants and put them in the cloche. They were looking quite limp due to being a bit scorched so I decided to plant them out and see if they’d survive.  If they don’t, I have a whole bunch at home to plant out. We are formally past our official frost date now, so everyone is going mental planting stuff out. I had planned to plant everything out over the bank holiday weekend, but the plants indoors are in dire need of planting out so I may plant the courgettes and squash out next weekend. We’ll see what the weather is doing.

I did manage to give away some of my extra seedlings away so that’s all good and got to see Dionne as well. I have rhubarb envy, hers is doing much better than mine. Maybe we’re taking too much! The same cannot be said of my strawberries, which are going bananas, hopefully that will translate into fruit!My salad bed is beginning to flourish too. Last year the nasturtiums went bananas on this bed and I said that we weren’t planting any this year, but there are a couple in this bed amongst the lettuce!The broad beans look wonderful but I found black fly on the tops, bloody ants… I removed the tops and we’ll keep an eye on them but I’m beginning to believe it’s just the price I have to pay for broad beads. We are about three weeks away from our first harvest so it’s going to be a race between me and them vs. the ants!Lastly, look at that oreganoHard to believe that it started out as a tiny little thingAnyway, I’m feel that we are finally catching up and soon the manic watering phase of summer will begin…

 

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Too much rhubarb? Make gin

This weekend I started some rhubarb gin.

I had 777g of washed, chopped rhubarb (this actually isn’t from my plants, it’s from Dionne’s massive plants!), I added 350g of sugar and then covered with 900ml gin*.It’s in a dark cupboard, and I’ll give it a shake every day until the sugar dissolves and leave it for about 6 weeks.

*A note about the gin. Use a decent one that is at least 40% ABV, it does matter, don’t use a rubbish gin. It doesn’t have to be expensive, Morrisons and Sainsburys both do decent affordable gins with a decent ABV.

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