Sunday Music: Gabriel’s Message – Sting

This is an Advent carol which technically is right.

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Allotment Adventures: Worse Before it’s Better

You know how when you have a proper sort out and tidy of something, before you get to tidy, everything gets much messier. That is what the plot looks like right now. On Sunday thanks to some lovely allotment friends, Nina and Mike, we started sorting out the shed and other assorted rubbish in the hedgerow.I really like Joe, who we took the plot over from but I was so cross on Sunday, he’d already taken a bunch of things of the site before he left and this was the stuff he didn’t need. There was so much rubbish, plastic bags of rotting potatoes, metal shelves, chickenwire that the ivy had grown right through, fridge shelves,  a dalek composter that the ivy had totally grown over. It was dreadful, 40 years of saving stuff because it might be useful. We’ll be picking up bits of plastic for years to come.Ma and I are pretty tidy, we tend to bag up any rubbish and take it home with us, but I am now acutely aware of how dangerous saving things that might come in handy can be on a plot. The truth is that as much as we love our plots, we don’t own them, we just borrow them and we should be aware that when we have to give them up, the new people shouldn’t have to hire a skip to tidy the plot up. I’m actually only hiring a third of a 12 yard skip, Nina and Mike are having the other third (they have a fridge and a boris bike to get rid of amongst other things!) and the allotment committee have agreed to chip in another third but really people, if you have an allotment, please for the love of God, don’t hoard rubbish, it’s really not fair on the people that come after you.Anyhow, we have a pile of things to go in the skip (arriving Thursday) and a pile of wood for a bonfire, I’m going to ask someone else to set that going because I’m pretty rubbish at that. Any metal we (mostly Ma) took to the metal disposal area that the site has.  In terms of tidying the rest up, the hedgerow is the responsibility of the committee, once the rest of the shed is down, we’ll woodchip the path (some of the plotholders use it for access), I don’t have to do anything else, although I will pick up any rubbish that falls out of the hedgerow. There a big tub full of smelly water and something that must have been a compost bin once, which needs to be attended to but after that I’m leaving the hedgerow alone. We shouldn’t be doing anything a metre from the fence and I’m sticking to that.After Thursday and a bonfire, the only other thing I need to do in terms of rubbish disposal, is the loganberry frame, that’s coming down but the metal is easy to get rid of, and the loganberries are being re-sited. Then I can get back to gardening!Ma reckons we’ll be good in shape by March, which feels ambitious but because we have a clear idea of what we’re going to do might not be too difficult although it is going to be expensive!

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Monday Miscellany: Queen of the Quiz

Happy Monday!  Last week was busy and tough, the last week of November is just difficult for me, it’s Stef’s anniversary and really, really dark. It’s like my body just gives up on trying to be cheerful and enthusiastic.

I may be miserable but there were things that helped. My team won the work quiz, I got to work from home on Thursday and Friday, there was a belated Thanksgiving on Sunday at K and A’s, working on the plot on Sunday, December started so I’m all about the Christmas music and advent calendars. Best of all, a surprise visitor, Luc came to visit his Grandad and me, because he thought we could do with the company. His father would be very proud, I am…

I only have two work days this week and then I’m on holiday for three days. Mostly to celebrate Ma’s birthday, we are having a grown up family lunch on Wednesday at Hawksmoor and Ma and I are going to see Candida at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond on Thursday, there is a shed to finish pulling down. Lots to do…

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Sunday Music: Must Be Santa – Bob Dylan

It’s the first of December, the first Sunday in Advent and as is my tradition, from now until Christmas, I’m playing Christmas music!


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Friday Links: Election

Happy Friday! I can’t decide if it’s the weather, the month or the election bringing me down. It’s probably all three, here are this week’s links:

‘Twitter blackface’: Why Michael Gove’s Stormzy comments are so egregious

Food is where the generation gap is widest

Advent, explained I thought this was quite interesting but this “That’s also why the early parts of Handel’s Messiah quote the prophet Isaiah before they get to the more familiar Christmas parts: The lyrics for “Comfort Ye My People” and “Every Valley Shall Be Exalted,” for instance, correspond directly to the readings from Isaiah 40 that a person might hear in a church pew during Advent.” Is just wrong. The Messiah is all based on scripture and is the story of Jesus from anticipation to birth, through to death and resurrection. I know people go and hear it at Christmas but really it should be an Easter thing (says the person who saw it sung on Good Friday from the age of 15 to 30 something and we only stopped because the price of tickets got too high!).

A charity dropped a massive stimulus package on rural Kenya — and transformed the economy

Look at Boris Johnson eating a scone. This? This is your shagger god?


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Allotment Adventures: Moving Compost

We have so much work to do to join the old and the new halves of the plot together but we have made inroads into the work. This weekend we moved the compost dalek on the old half to the compost area on the new half. So the compost area has two full bins and one half bin all layered with woodchip and a container, full of weeds that shouldn’t go into the compost and water. The weeds will decompose and then I’ll add it all to the compost. It’s pretty gross but it works.  The only thing left to do is to buy and/or built two more bins that I can turn compost into, but that will wait until later.

Our next task was to sorting out the gaps left behind by the compost bins on the old half. So you may or may not be aware that we had two beds either side of the wooden compost bin. So we moved one to join them together. This will house the two gooseberry bushes in the new half plot that I’m going to move next week. It’s ridiculous to have them all over the place, so we’ll move these two into one bed. Next year finally move the two we have into the bed right next to them, finally I’m going to plant more rhubarb in the gap left by the gooseberries.. (I could move them all at once but then we might not get gooseberries in the summer and that would be unacceptable to Ma!)In the space where the dalek was I planted a piece of rhubarb that I’d been given and we also planted some bulbs where the other compost bin had been.

Ultimately my aim is to have 6 rhubarb plants because we really like it, but right now for fruit I currently have (in various stages of production: four rhubarb plants, four gooseberry bushes, two baby blackcurrant bushes, two raspberry beds, one boysenberry, six blueberry bushes, a plum tree, an apple tree and the loganberries that are in dire need of sorting out. For the coming season, we’re looking at adding two more raspberry beds (one from splitting the bed we have and I’d like some yellow ones!) and a couple more blueberries because they take time to produce and I don’t get a lot, ultimately I’d like about 10 bushes. I would like to think about other fruit bushes but aside from trying to persuade the committee to let me plant some blackthorn (for sloes) or elderberries (for cordial and syrup) once we’ve pulled Joe’s shed down, I’m thinking either a honeyberry, the japanese wineberry or a jostaberry because there should be a free bed! I can almost hear my mother tutting but on the plus side, Christmas ideas should be really easy!

Next week, the priority is to move the gooseberries on the new half to the old half, to get the beds we aren’t using covered, to ‘fence’ of the two flower patches on the new half (one has been planted up and one hasn’t) and to sort out a rubbish pile from Joe’s shed and a burning pile. I don’t think I’ll be doing much else but I think Ma is keen to get the new half that is right up next to the old half, weeded and covered.

Honestly, I don’t think we’ll have time for all of that, it feels like the light goes at about half past three right now, but we’ll do what we can.

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Spitalfields City Farm

I’m a Londoner, it’s something I’m extremely proud about (even though I had nothing to do with it!) but it huge part of who I am. But in common with most cities, being from here can mean lots of things, I love my city but there are lots of bits of it that I’ve never been to or at least not very often.So on Friday, I gave my ‘west London’ self a shock and went to East London, not somewhere I often venture and I wouldn’t have gone all the way to Whitechapel on the Tube if not for the day my work team was going to spent at Spitalfields City Farm.If the nephews lived nearer, we’d go. It’s a really small space about 10 minutes away from Brick Lane (and no, I didn’t stop at the Beigel Bake but it was a close call!), with a garden, which right now is growing loads of chard and winter salad  and all sorts of animals (sheep, goats, geese, ducks, ex battery hens, donkeys, pigs and a parrot!). Spitalfields is a no kill farm (which if I’m honest makes me feel that it’s not so much a farm as a petting zoo) and is largely funded by donations. During the day, one of the volunteers noted that they had lost funding for things like the permaculture garden and were trying to work out how best to carry on with it.I knew that London had a couple of city farms but I’ve never been to one and it’s worth a visit. They have lots of Christmas events on over the next couple of weeks so if you’re nearby it’s worth a visit!

As to what I did on the farm, I turned compost, the bin below was full at the beginning of the day!


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