Allotment Adventures: Friday Fun

The beginning of last week was so hot I was on the plot every day and because I actually had something to do on Saturday, I didn’t go on the weekend.  Ma and I went on Friday afternoon to get some things done.

This was my list.

  • Sorting out the gooseberries – done.

All three have been cut back, it was sad to do but needed. We are going to dig them up in the winter and clear the roots of weeds which will also give us the opportunity of having all three in the same place and giving them a bit more growing room

  • Breaking down and disposing of the grey box – done.

The bits are still on the plot but mostly in the shed so until we get to the dump that’s as done as it’s going to be.

  • Do something about the tomatoes which I can’t give away because Laura and Oli gave them to me and I want Oli to see that we kept them. (Joe doesn’t care, he’ll just eat them). It’s been so hot and they need to be out of their little pots, the sooner I can get this sorted the better! – not done

But I’m halfway there, I have buckets drilled and it’s just a case of getting the compost and dumping them in.

  • If I then have some time, I’ll sow in the greenhouse (more beetroot, chard, spinach, winter leaves, pak choi, cavolo nero) – not done. Not enough time

Ma’s list is:

  • Cut back the grass around the edges of the plot. – done

I did this as the peas and weeding took longer than either of us expected

  • Finish weeding at the top of the plot – done.
  • Pick some peas and courgettes – done

The plot is looking great at the moment, we harvested four courgettes and our first crookneck, spinach, salad and peas!

 

This because I’m allotmenting solo this week, I just need to keep on top of the watering and the weeds.

No grey boxThe rampant squashand the second squash!

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Friday Links

Happy Friday! It’s a very happy Friday for me because it’s back to more seasonable temperatures and I’m no longer using fruit ice lollies to get my five a day! I also have a day off work to sort my life or at the very least, the allotment out before going to a wedding on Saturday and having a day of rest of Sunday!

Here are this week’s links…

Will Self thinks Britain should have a written constitution. I haven’t thought about it, since the last time Ma and I had an argument about whether Britain HAD a constitution. Ma maintaining that if it wasn’t written down, it didn’t exist! Concrete thinkers, the rest of my family. It’s the not writing down I’m not keen on, it’ll be the debates and referendums and what happens to the monarchy? etc. Although if we could be a republic…fine…

Duke of Westminster’s property group to build 1,500 rental homes in London. It’s nice to see that the new Duke of Westminster is building affortable housing, but is is me or is just terrible that he’s the only one that sees the point?

May’s chequered history on LGBT rights doesn’t inspire confidence.

How my passion for gardening helped ease my anxiety. This is lovely, I can relate.

Hayfever sufferers should drink gin to help ease symptoms. Ok, it doesn’t actually say that, but close enough.

The disappearing urban butterfly

Prince Harry says no one in the royal family wants to be king or queen. If that’s the case they could abdicate and live as private citizens but they don’t want to do that either. I agree that the circumstances around his mother’s death were awful and no child losing a parent has it easy. However my grandad was 10 when his mother died and my mother was 14, so yes, it’s horrible but it happens and they both had to go out at 14 and 16 respectively and find work and managed to do that without dressing up like Nazis or being photographed naked in Vegas. Harry may have had an easier time if his remaining parent wasn’t an emotionally stunned, pompous man-child but he also has the kind of monied and indulged life that is not available to the rest of the population (we just pay for it). If you don’t like the life you have, change it. If you don’t want to or can’t change it, demonstrate some of the stiff upper lip your class is supposed to be famed for and don’t whine about it. Sorry I find this to be completely self indulgent, self pitying waffle and more like the nonsense his father comes out with on a fairly regular basis. And yes, I’m still a republican..

Millions of mysterious ‘sea pickles’ swamp US west coast This is fascinating, looks like an invasion to me….

Britain had a heatwave and we’re crap at dealing with it. So, so true. I didn’t burn but I definitely have a farmers tan going on!

Ant McPartlin has no reason to to apologise. His addiction is not his fault. Erm, it’s never that black and white. The problem is that addiction is an illness AND a personal failing. It’s easy to say it’s an illness, not my fault and after a while it’s a physical addiction but every time an addict uses or a drinker drinks, it is a personal choice to do so. If you don’t accept that you won’t stay sober for long. When I talk about my dad, I always say that he loved me but not more than he loved his next pint. Which sums it up quite nicely but is really hard to live with. That’s why organisations like Al-Alon exist because addiction doesn’t just effect the addict. I hope McPartlin gets better, it’s possible, but you have to understand that it’s more than just a disease, it’s something you have to keep being focussed on and part of that is admitting that what you did hurt others.

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Allotment Adventures: Early Morning Watering

It’s been so hot this week. One of the disadvantages of growing your own is that you have to water your own!

I’ve mostly been watering in the morning, it takes about 45 minutes because I planted such water loving plants (tomatoes, cucumbers, peas and squash) and there’s just more going on this year. This time last year, I had two courgette beds, peas, two tomato beds, a salad bed and a bed of french beans. (this photo was taken on 26 June 2016) This year, there are three tomato beds, one cucumber bed, a courgette bed, a crookneck, a patty pan, 4 winter squash, two pea pyramids, two sweet pea pyramids, two leek beds, a bigger salad bed, an old bath with carrots and spring onions, a bed of french beans, the brassica bed which has broccoli and cavolo nero and french beans in it and a bag of potatoes. Also because it’s been so dry the raspberries and rhubarb need watering. There’s a hell of a lot more to water…I worked from home on Tuesday so the watering was more leisurely and I picked sweetpeas and raspberries for breakfast. It never gets old.I skipped watering on Wednesday morning and went in the evening so I could also pick dinner (and more sweet peas!), picking your dinner never gets old.I’m really amazed at the growth the baby blue hubbards have put on, I’m starting to train them up the arch and I have my first baby squashThe broccoli and cavolo nero have gone from the wilty things that I didn’t think would live to stronger looking plants.And the crookneck has loads of fruit that should be ready for picking soon!I water the plants, my feet and sweat but I get to check on the plants, work out what needs to be done at the weekend and one of the perks is peas as a breakfast snack!

 

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Allotment Adventures: Non Lazy Summer Sunday Morning

I have this weekend and next weekend before I’m losing my weeder for a weekend. Ma is away on holiday at the the end of June which co-incides with the Open Day. Where I’m doing double duty, an hour on the cake stall and an hour on the plant stall!

Ma’s well deserved holiday aside, that means I have two weekends to get the plot into shape for the Open Day because I love it and I want to show it in it’s best light and thank goodness that I don’t have to think about the whole site, like the committee does. During the week, I’d got a pretty good morning watering and raspberry picking groove going on. I’m still fighting a war against slugs and snails in the greenhouse but I have my first tomatoes.

The weekend though is for work, not maintenence and we had a lot of it to do and it was really, really hot. On Saturday evening, we did the watering and picked our first courgette (it was a little undersized but Ma wanted to pick it before it turned into a baseball bat. We also picked salad and raspberries.Then we went home and had a martini…

Despite or maybe because of the martini, on Sunday we got to work early (8am-ish) and this is what we got done.

‘Prune’ the plum tree and tidy up around it

This was the first thing that I did, I wanted to remove a big branch so I did that and some very minor pruning because I didn’t want to shock it too much.  I also got rid of the various bits and pieces that have been building up around the shed and tree, in preparation for the weeding that Ma was going to do. And admired my first anemone.

Plant out the remaining leeks 

This was the first year I’ve grown leeks and I’ve learnt a couple of things about waiting. I was really worried about them but I just need to sow them in a deep pot and let them get on with it. I have two beds with 30 leeks in them and the left over ones I planted closer together in the salad bed and we’ll eat them as baby leeks earlier.

Thin carrots

I way oversowed these (top tip try not to drop your seed packet!), so although I’ve removed loads and made pesto with them, it’ll need to be done again in a couple of weeks time.

Sow more beetroot, spinach and lettuce. 

I didn’t get around to this last week but it’s done now, I do need to sow some stuff (more beetroot, chard, spinach, winter leaves, pak choi, cavolo nero) in the greenhouse for planting out a bit later on, for autumn, but I probably won’t get to that until July!

Weeding at the top of the plot

Ma did this and although she says she has more to do next week, it looks so much better. I also planted out, two lemon scented geraniums in between the rhubarb, they won’t survive the first frosts but I have two at home to take cuttings from next year, if these work for summer.

Cut back the grass around the edges of the plot.

I did a bit by the carrots but it’ll need cutting back next week, I need to get a strimmer! It’s my birthday in August!!

We also watered and fed everything. It doesn’t look like much but it was four hours in the very hot heat. We finished by picking more sweet peas, raspberries, salad and my first cucumber! 

There is loads more to do next week I need to prioritise the following:

  • Sorting out the gooseberries
  • Breaking down and disposing of the grey box
  • Do something about the tomatoes which I can’t give away because Laura and Oli gave them to me and I want Oli to see that we kept them. (Joe doesn’t care, he’ll just eat them). It’s been so hot and they need to be out of their little pots, the sooner I can get this sorted the better!
  • If I then have some time, I’ll sow in the greenhouse (more beetroot, chard, spinach, winter leaves, pak choi, cavolo nero)

Ma’s list is:

  • Cut back the grass around the edges of the plot.
  • Finish weeding at the top of the plot
  • Pick some peas and courgettes!

Other good things, spotted on Sunday:

Our first outdoor tomatoes (these are orange banana)

Flowering chives

We’ve left the greenhouse open for the last couple of days, because it’s been so hot but I’m hoping for a return to slightly cooler weather soon!

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Clothes Shopping Sucks

I’m currently having a bad clothes month. This month all of my clothes are falling to bits. Working with a linited wardrobe is fine, I actually find it much easier, but when that limited wardrobe decides it’s had enough, it means shopping. The worse loss was my black work dress, which I love but have owned for over seven years developed a hole (handbag rubbing) there was no coming back from. Sigh.

The photo above is a pretty good depiction of how I would like to dress all the time, but I limit it to summertime and sub Saharan Africa. Basically, I generally mistrust all enterprises that require new clothes and next weekend I’m going to a wedding.

photo by Justin Davies

If this wasn’t bad enough, I need new shoes, all of the shoes that I used to wear for dress up are unwearable since the osteotomy. I’m well provisioned for winter, I have five pairs of boots.  However, I don’t possess any summer shoes or really suitable work shoes. I live in these and trainers. I’m not vain but this is getting ridiculous.

So I embarked on trying to find an outfit (and the money for an outfit). I’m the first to admit that I’m not easy to dress. I’m 5’6 and I’m overweight, I’m also not helped by having figure that shops don’t much cater for, no bum to speak of, broad shoulders and large of chest and stomach. I also have wide feet and can’t wear heels. I can’t get my feet into most of the range of shoes that M&S sell, not even the ‘wider fitting’ ones. Every thing in the high street is a frilly, synthetic monstrosity and/or designed for a lithe 20 year old. It’s pretty simple, I want something comfortable that isn’t gathered, frilled or puffed, that doesn’t show of my midriff or look like a sack and preferably doesn’t cost more than my sofa. I would like shoes that are comfortable, which rules out hooker shoes, but neither do I want them to look like slippers. It shouldn’t be that hard. It is.

I found a dress I like, but the 16 was tight across the bust, did they have an 18, yes, in Chicester, none in London. At that point I just snapped. I found a pair of sandals that’ll be fine once I’ve worn them in (happening this week) and I’ll wear a summer dress that I already have. However, I’m really, really cross about it all.

This is the reason that it’s easier to spend money on the plot and makeup and gin, it’s because those things don’t require dramatic outlay or having to trapse around shops trying to find things that are comfortable, appropriate and go with the things I already have, clothes shopping right now is like searching for the holy grail.

I don’t think I’m being unreasonable but all of my usual shops are letting me down. It’s ridiculous…

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Best/Worst – 12 to 16 June 2017

Welcome to a new week. This is where I recap the highs and lows of last week. My week was completely overshadowed by the Grenfall Tower fire. Everything in this list feels petty and unimportant next to what happened there. As I said on Friday, it’s not something that had any direct impact on my life, but it feels close, not just physically  but because my Grandad lived on the third floor of a 12 floor building, because I went to school with kids who lived in council flats, because I used to live on the 7th floor of a 7 storey building because, because…

So please take today’s post in the spirit it is meant, none of these things are all that important in the scheme of things, hug the people you love, do the best you can, remember how amazingly lucky you are to be alive right now and how random life can be…

BestThe first courgette. It feels like it’s all coming together. My first tomatoes in the greenhouse and outside have formed, the first courgette and cucumber were picked this weekend. So far everything is growing ok. It takes about half an hour to water it in the morning but its a great way to start a morning and it’s my happy place, which if you follow me on Instagram, is very apparent.

Minutes completed. The worst part of my work month is the monthly meeting I support, the best part is getting the first draft of the minutes finished, which I managed on Wednesday, despite my total space cadet-ness this week!

Catching up on washing and a relatively tidy flat (in the circumstances). As listed below, I’ve been away with the fairies. Usually at this point the flat and housework suffers, this week it did not. I’d like to say it was down to my grit and determination but it was not. It was because there was the possibility that a friend was coming around to use the washing machine because hers was busted. Which is ridiculous, Kathy does not care at all about whether my flat is tidy and even  and in the end she didn’t come around, but I do. It doesn’t come from either of my parents, Ma is always tidy, Dad didn’t carebut if someone is in the house, then it needs to be tidy

Worst

I’ve been away with the bloody fairies this week. I think a combination of PMT, weather provoked hay fever affecting my sleep and just sheer Dempsey-ness, but focus has been hard and it’s frustrating as all get out…

Clothes and shoe shopping. Left me throughly depressed, I’ll pick it up later in the week but it was not a fun, happy time.

Losing my travel card. Of all the petty annoying things I didn’t need right now. Ordered a new one and the spare I should have ordered when I lost the old one in March. Yes that’s the second time this year. I am an airhead…

Honourable mentions to a really good packed lunch, Londoners being lovely to each other in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire, the man who asked the way to ‘Marble Arches’ – I hope that he wasn’t upset to find there was only one!, my lovely Mum doing all that weeding in the heat amongst other stuff (I don’t do Father’s Day – but really she should have another parents day because the shit she put up with this weekend from her forgetful, hot, PMT’ing daughter was vexing and she didn’t lose her temper once! Surprisingly!), the video of Joe eating an ice cream that my lovely sister-in-law sent (while I’m talking about how lucky I am, I know he didn’t do it for us but marrying Lu is the best thing I think he ever did, she’s amazing and I feel lucky that she’s my sister!!).

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Sunday Music: Waterloo

Today is Father’s Day but it’s also the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo!

Wellington was probably not the sort of man that I’d like, he was a snob and believed absolutely in the superiority of the English aristocracy, he claimed that his troops were the ‘scum of the earth’ and they did not love him as French soldiers loved Napoleon. However, Wellington didn’t waste them or their lives and he said and meant that the “only thing worse than a battle lost is a battle won”

It’s also important to remember that Waterloo was won by a coalition of nations, not just the British. I believe, the whole continent is better when we work together.

Which is why today, I’m celebrating this anniversary with a song by a Swedish band…

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