Monday Miscellany: Fire and Rain

Happy Monday!

Last week was so hot and yesterday the rain felt biblical! I did a two day mental health first aider course, in Marylebone, that and a day in the office meant I was commuting for three days last week. By Thursday, I was exhausted!

St Mary’s

There are some consolations to being in the office, this week it was an ice cream

Hot enough for ice cream

The weekend was also quite social for me, Christelle and Mike come for lunch and brought Gabi and the new puppy. This is Baylen, he is much happier than he looks (boxers are a bit more wrinkly that the average dog!)

Happy Face

This week I’m off work today for a haircut, then in the office for two days and then WFH. I’m off work all of next week and this weekend is family lunch for my birthday, which means that I need to brace myself for the onslaught of the youngest nephew!

Therefore plans for this week are all about the house being as ready for people as I can possibly manage, so keeping on top of laundry and the house. The other priority is obviously work, getting it all clear and caught up so I can leave it alone for a week with a clear conscience!

Elizabeth line trains

Have a good week!

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Friday Links: Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose

Happy Friday!

If Johnson didn’t believe the ‘NHS overwhelmed stuff’, why was he clapping? Because he’s a liar and a cad.

There will be blood: women on the shocking truth about periods and perimenopause. I’ve never been a particularly heavy bleeder but oh dear God the flooding, the new and shocking development is the 22 day period. I’m not amused by this is actually easier to cope with than the flooding. It sucks…

His name was Emmett Till. This is a hard read.

How hatred of gay people became a key plank in Hungary’s authoritarian turn. Hungary needs to be kicked out of the EU.


How climate change fueled the devastating floods in Germany and northwest Europe

Does Boris Johnson deserve sympathy? Not really, given the risk he’s taking

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Allotment Adventures: Borage Jungle

The plot is looking a little bit wild in certain areas, which I actually really enjoy. I have plans for a couple of more areas like this in the plot and the rose and pond area is looking a bit wild too. This area is humming with bees.

Borage

At the back of the plot is my favourite rose, which I have plans to move this year too, so we can see more of it.

Rose

We were given another tin bath and I had plans to fill it with strawberry plants, Sainsburys were selling strawberry plants for 90p so I bought five and voila, the strawberry bath.

Strawberry bath

The plants had one strawberry on them, this will probably be the only one I get this year but the alpine strawberries are settling in and starting to flower so we may get some of those.

First and probably only strawberry of the year

Other work was all about the brassicas. We planted the cauliflowers, kale and a few of the cabbages out, on the weekend, we will plant out the rest of the cabbages, the broccoli and the leeks and that will be all the beds planted up!

In terms of things to harvest, this weekend we got blueberries, potatoes, carrots, the last of the beetroot and herbs. Our usual summer crops are still behind but starting to flourish, the french beans, tomatoes and cucumbers are flowering and the summer squash won’t be too far behind. I picked an early raspberry today and reckon we’re about two weeks away from raspberries too.

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Kew Gardens

Geese
Strawberry Tower
Water lily
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Monday Miscellany: Commuting

Happy Monday!

Last week I only worked a four day week but I had two days in the office and goodness it was tiring.

On Monday, Sue and I went to Kew and it was lovely, because every day is a learning day, I learnt that there are badgers at Kew and allotments.

Sunflower at Kew Gardens on Monday

The commute was ok. But it was hot and wearing a mask does make it feel hotter, I left the house on Tuesday morning with perfect hair but it was wavy by the time I got to to the office and a disaster by the end of the day! Our new office is great and it was good to be in and see some my colleagues in the flesh for the first time in a year and a half.

The rest of the work week was at home and ok, Saturday was an allotment day and Sunday I was at Christina and Fred’s to see them and Tom and Yoey, and meet their babies. Both of them are extremely cute and given that we were in 30C heat, really good natured and happy.

I came home on Sunday evening needed to do loads but instead had a nap!

Today starts with the first of my two day mental health first aider course, which is in Marylebone, so it’s a different commute at least. I’m in the office again on Thursday. My oyster card is getting a work out this month!

Most of this week, will be spent being hot, we’re having another week of heatwave, and I shall be doing everything I can not to turn the oven on, while dealing with this ‘courgette’ that came in my Oddbox delivery yesterday!

Kettle for scale

Have a good week!

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Allotment Adventures: Cultivated

Two new raised beds and a place to sit

So this weekend at the plot was all about the ensuring that the allotment committee had nothing to complain about. We were lucky that the plants, compost and raised beds ordered had all arrived and we started early.

Produce

We harvested produce (I’m so happy with the blueberry harvest – it’s taken five years but I finally have loads and this is only six of the bushes, the others are still quite small), put the beds together and then went home for breakfast. In the afternoon, transported the patio furniture and more compost to the plot (it was pretty back and forth) and we planted the new beds up with the fabulously healthy plants from Urban Herbs. I ordered six alpine strawberry plants, three winter savory plants and an orange thyme. They also sent two bonus plants, a lemon thyme and a strawberry mint, which was lovely. The delivery was prompt and the herbs were in such good nick, I will definitely be using them again and would recommend.

Ma then weeded and I tended to my tomatoes, in two weeks they had gotten quite wayward, they’re like everything else behind, but they are looking pretty good and most of them are starting to flower, there are some very tiny green tomatoes on some of them.

The winter and summer squash have started to grow too but are way behind, at this rate we’ll probably have courgettes sometime in August and who knows about winter squash! I’m not alone at least three people I spoke to yesterday are having courgette issues. It’s been a strange year.

View from the back of the plot

I’m loving the way the plot has decided to have flowers the self seeded calendula, borage, mallow, orache and coriander are looking wild, I don’t think I can do it justice in a photo!

The pond area is also looking wild, the eryngium is starting to flower and the knautia is going for it.

Pond

As ever, we really need to get the weeds under control and there is more planting to do. Next week, we need to get the autumn brassicas in the ground and then we’ll waiting on the leeks to arrive. I’m sort of glad that we didn’t get the second long bed planted up with winter squash because I don’t know where the leeks would have gone otherwise!

Future strawberry bed

We were also gifted another tin bath, which we are going to plant up with bare root strawberries. I’m hopeful that putting them higher up will help with slug damage and that they’ll be easier to net. So lots of work to do but I feel that we’re really close to being able to just think about maintenance. We’re also quite close to raspberries.

Raspberries on their way
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Monday Miscellany: It’s been emotional

Happy Monday!

Let’s get it over with now, last night was emotional. Italy was never going to be a pushover, they are unbeaten in 33 matches and have conceded 11 goals in that time, it was never going to be easy, we had no response in the second half when they changed tactics. Our penalty takers didn’t have it on the night and theirs did. No one deserves to lose a game like this but someone has to.

I’m writing this on Sunday night and I’m really hoping that I don’t wake up to news of England fans being twats, we show our character in the way we win AND lose. I really hope we can show the best of it this week.

Eryngium or Sea Holly

So last week was full of last week working from home energy, my boss got COVID and I had a migraine. Aside from that it was a pretty usual week, Ma and I had a very productive Saturday and I had a fairly productive Sunday.

Today, I’m off to visit Kew Gardens with Sue and then two days in the office and lots of moving compost from the front of my house to the allotment!

I have no major plans for the week, survive the commute and return to office life, keep the house under control, work on the plot. My needs are simple, I’m off to Christina and Fred’s next Sunday for tea and meeting the next generation of Kennys.

Have a good week

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Friday Links: It’s never been home…

Happy Friday!

Yes, there is football, England are in the final of the Euros for the first time ever. I’m excited but Italy are not pushovers.

If we talk about what we want our country to be and the type of people we want to represent it, we can start here. It Was All a Dream

If people want to write about my mum’s bathroom in her house, all I have to tell you is that 15 years ago, we were cleaning toilets in Stonebridge and getting breakfast out of the vending machine. If anybody deserves to be happy, it’s my mum. She came to this country with nothing and put herself through school cleaning bathrooms and changing bed sheets, and now she’s the director of a nursing home.

And her son plays for England.


‘Living with the virus’ makes no sense. Only half of the UK is fully vaccinated. Herd immunity is not for unvaccinated populations, herd immunity needs 85% of the population to be vaccinated. Current conditions are asking for more mutations.

Boris Johnson cries ‘freedom’ to fill the void where his leadership should be. And now “It’s coming home”

A Battle Between a Great City and a Great Lake. This is fascinating and quite scary…

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Allotment Adventures: Under-cultivated

It was an interesting Saturday at the allotment. We got told that this area by the rose garden and the pond, means our plot is viewed as under cultivated. The current rules are that 70% of the plot should be under cultivation, so 70% of the plot should be growing flowers, fruit or vegetables. We have the compost and work area at the back of the plot and the shed at the front as well as this space and we’ve been told that this adds up to more that 30%. We mostly use this area for pots and seating but I think that moving the potatoes to guard the winter squash bed made this area look barren.

Brassica/winter veg row

Initially we thought that the issue was that we have five empty beds at the top that are waiting for brassicas but it’s this space. It’s fair to say that my mum was incandescent with rage, we have worked very hard and it’s been a really odd spring, I had to send her away while the conversation was happening (she will apologise to the committee member who raised it for being cross). Basically, this was a heads up that if it’s in this state in August, we’ll be subject to a warning letter and at risk of loosing the top half of the plot.

November 2019

We have a waiting list of 250 odd people and while it’s not entirely under control, compared to when we got it in 2019 (picture above), it would be a good plot to give to a newcomer. That’s not going to happen, Ma and I have ordered two new raised bed kits and a patio set. The plan is to plant one of the raised beds up with alpine strawberries and the other with more herbs (summer savoury, thyme, camomile). The patio set will go in between the two beds. The great thing about raised beds and no dig is that they can go in anywhere and it’ll take a couple of weeks for us to sort this out.

If we didn’t have the £200 that this is going to cost, I would dig over the area, add some compost and sow some wild flowers, and move some of the plants we have. As it is, we are lucky that we do have money to throw at it, for which I’m grateful. In the winter I’m going to seriously work on parts of the plot that could be viewed as not productive. I’m going to sort out the apple tree area, taking out the apple tree and putting patio fruit trees in that area with a beneficial insect attracting flower mix and get a polytunnel up in the work area because that will be a cultivated space and I can have a go at growing melons and aubergines next summer.

I’m quite upset because I thought the plot was looking pretty good and productive and as this is the place we put the potatoes and blueberries usually and nothing grows at where the compost area is because of the tree cover. I didn’t think there was an issue but there you have it, life on allotment sites can be fraught with committee issues and rules you weren’t expecting. However, one of the really annoying things about me is that if I don’t think you’re playing fair, I will clear that bar you’ve set because I don’t like being told I’m not doing properly when I think I am, it won’t happen again. Watch this space.

Harvest

On to the work and the harvest. It’s fair to say that we haven’t really had great harvests this year, we’ve had garlic and rhubarb one week and onions and rhubarb the next but this week is the first week, we’ve had a mixed harvest worth a photo. Beetroot, potatoes, blueberries, shallots, rhubarb, mint, carrots and and teeny, tiny amount of peas. It won’t be this much for the rest of the month, the summer squash, french beans and cucumbers are coming on and the tomatoes are flowering but all the summer plantings are way behind, partly weather and partly my poor planning.

Blackcurrant harvest

This year I was hoping for a good blackcurrant harvest, but magpies put a stop to that. We got 11, and next year we’ll net the bushes as soon as the berries are formed! Every day is a learning day and this year has been full of them on the plot. It’s like we’ve proved we can do it and the plot has decided to teach us more than just the basics.

The winter squash and sweet potatoes are starting to establish and we sowed chard and turnips as part of the brassica row for autumn/winter. We also pulled up the peas and we bunged some crookneck seeds in there, in the hope that we’ll get some summer squash at some point this year!

Key work to get on with next week aside from new beds, are to get all of the existing compost to the plot, weed the patch up by the apple tree, strim the paths again, trim and tie up the tomatoes. There is always work and I do feel that I’ve been told off, but although I’m behind compared to last year, it’s still beautiful and by the end of the month, it’ll be if not finished then at least, fully utilised. The brassica plugs should arrive mid month, then we’ll have five beds planted up (20 cabbages, 10 cauliflowers, 10 broccoli, 10 cavolo nero) and at the end of the month, 40 leeks should arrive and then we’ll have every bed on the plot occupied. At last…

Tomato flowers
Blueberries

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Monday Miscellany: July

Happy Monday!

It’s July. How are we in the seventh month of the year already?

Lavender

Last week was not a busy week, which means that I kept finding things at work that need fixing or thinking about, which is how my brain works. It was also a headache week, in that I woke up every day with a headache, it’s not great but I had more days where I was able to shake it off and no days where the headache progressed to migraine. (yeah I know that migraines and headaches are different but sometime my headaches are like an aura – they indicate that something is off balance and then the migraine happens. I’ve given up arguing that that’s not how they should work, my body pays no attention and I’ve learnt to treat them as a warning and behave accordingly!)

One of the things that I really enjoy every week we do it is my walk with Sue, the walk itself is always the same and it’s been interesting to see how the seasons change the parks and it’s been lovely to spend time with her, I’m trying to make sure that when my days in the office start to happen, they don’t clash with our Tuesday walks.

Lost

Last week I also made this year’s batch of cocktail cherries. I’m on the last jar of the 2020 cherries, so I’ve made slightly more (every year I make a little more). I bought 8 kg of cherries and after throwing away the bad ones and eating a few, I think I probably got about 5kg in the jars!

This week is my last week of working from home full time, I’m still feeling weird about it and at work we’re thinking about new patterns and so on. I’m not all that happy that the government is trying to make it our fault if we get sick and the basic fact that the more people that get the virus the more it will mutate and be more dangerous it can be, seems to escape everyone, and we are complete ignoring the risk of long COVID, but I digress. This week I’m determined to make the most of being at home and also trying to get myself back into early mornings and nights so that next week isn’t such a shock.

July is looking significantly more busy than my usual hermit like life. I’m have two days off work this month, one to go to Kew with Sue and one for a haircut and catch up with Jane. I’m finally going to meet both Tom and Christina’s new-ish baby girls, am pretty excited to see them and all of their parents. (I first babysat those two when they were 4 and 1 and now they are lovely responsible adults with children) and Christelle and Mike are coming over for lunch at the end of the month, with Gabi and the new puppy (I really need to hoover like my life depended on it in the next couple of weeks, I remember Gabi as a puppy found every single bit of dust and tried to eat it!). All of my friends seem to have babies or dogs and I’m not opposed

For work, I also have a two day mental health first aider course, and three weeks of being in the office for at least two days a week. I’m expecting the usual July rush of work as we head into August when it all goes quiet because of the summer holidays. There is also more work required on the allotment this month which I’ll explain on Wednesday!

Have a good week folks!

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