Monday Miscellany: Mother’s Ruin

Happy Monday!

Hopefully, we are all starting this week full of the joys of Spring and if you celebrate it, Mother’s Day was what you hoped for and not too painful. We celebrated on Saturday, and it was the first time I’d seen my mother in the flesh since January, so it was lovely to have a hug! Gin was consumed, because I know how to make my mother happy!

This week is just like last week, but with my great Aunt’s funeral, which I will be watching rather than attending and some Spring cleaning because once there is more daylight, either it’s easier to see the dirt or my brain is more awake and notices the dirt. Whatever the cause, I need to do some cleaning!

I also need to identify who has my copy of Sprig Muslin, which I wanted to read this weekend and couldn’t!

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Friday Links: Not All Men, but Enough

Happy Friday!

I generally start collecting links for this the weekend before it’s published and last weekend, they were looking for Sarah Everard. This week they may have found her body and they have arrested two people (one of them a serving police officer). She was just trying to walk home. This week the hashtag #notallmen started trending as women started to talk about being harassed and assaulted.

I have dealt with men approaching me at night to tell me I’m pretty and then been called a bitch for asking to be left alone, more than once. At school when all the girls started to wear bras, the boys in class pulled our bra straps and I remember a bunch of them trying to look up our skirts with mirrors (upskirting was a thing before digital cameras). I didn’t mention it to my parents, girls are conditioned not to complain about this behaviour, we’re told that it’s just boys being boys.

When I was 13 or 14, I was punched in school by a boy who’d been bullying me because, in a very typical Nic move, I told him that if he was going to call my names he should at least use the right grammar. It happened in school, I was bleeding, no one thought to call my parents, or even give him detention, I was expected to spend the rest of the day in school, with him and was told I had provoked him. He had spent a month calling me names, I answered back once, he punched me. Clearly my fault! I can’t remember if he was suspended, I do know I was concerned that I would get in trouble for wearing a non-uniform jumper the next day (mine had blood on it!) and asked Mum to write me a note because I was worried I would be told off for it (I was).

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, please watch this…

Here are the rest of the links….

How many nurses’ salaries does it take to redecorate Downing Street?. I’m wondering how long it’ll be before they u-turn or the nurses go on strike.

Strong on rhetoric, weak on substance – so much for the ‘vision’ of Global Britain. Boris Johnson and the Stupid Boys…

In the battle of Meghan versus the Firm, who do we cheer on? How about neither… A period of silence from both sides would be welcome, I’m still up for getting rid of the lot of them.

Why are adoption numbers falling, when there are so many children in need?

All in it together? The pandemic’s losers could soon be left behind

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Allotment Adventures: A Spring Tidy

On Saturday morning, I was facing a stack of compost to wheelbarrow to the plot, but my lovely friends Sue and Richard came and rescued me with their car and by 10:30 all of the compost was at the plot.

1800 litres of compost

I used three bags topping up two beds, and then another two and a half bags, mulching the rhubarb and the flower beds.

I’ve also made the decision to remove the sides from the gooseberry beds and to use them to edge the pond and the rose garden.

That done I started to collect woodchip for the areas that hadn’t been woodchipped yet.

It was a lot, I did about 12 loads before my back had enough and I stopped.

This was the list last week:

  • Mulch the rhubarb and weed and mulch the flower beds
  • Raise the kale bed and top up with compost
  • Divide the squash bed
  • Weed the area next to the squash bed and cover with cardboard (and woodchip if any has been delivered!)
  • Close and move the chard bed, raise it a bit and top up with compost
  • Feed the onions, garlic and shallots
  • Top up beds that need it and sow broad beans, peas, beetroot and carrots.

As you can see I didn’t get much of that done. Fortunately there is always next week!

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Monday Miscellany: Back to school

Happy Monday!

Can you hear that noise? That noise is the sighing of relieved parents that have either got their children back at school or know they are going back this week. This morning my Lent prompt was to pray for teachers. Which was apt, they have been under so much stress trying to arrange lessons online and for the children that have been in school and they are going ‘back to normal’ often without being vaccinated, to deal with children that have not had an easy year. It’s not going to be easy and they aren’t getting any kind of pay rise, in fact, they are taking a pay cut as they don’t even get the rate of inflation.

The news is either talking about the schools going back or the Royal Family, I’m not anyone’s side, I think everyone has behaved badly and I think a period of silence from all of them would be welcome. I also still think we should get rid of them and be a republic (and I’m not advocating public beheadings but think of the tourists it would bring in!)

As none of the relaxation of lockdown rules will have much of an impact on my life although I am extremely pleased that my friends with children get them back to school and those with family members in care homes will be able to visit them again, my plans for this week are pretty much the same as they were last week, work, sleep and try to get out everyday for a walk.

Oh and prep for Mother’s Day next weekend (Ma says that she’s not bothered, but I am!)

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Friday Links: March

Happy Friday! I feel like I’m in a strange world where time moves really quickly but also very slowly. Things happened this week but at the same time, it feels like everything is exactly the same as it was last week. Here are this week’s links…

Tory London mayor hopeful says basic income would be used for ‘lots of drugs’. Shaun Bailey just can’t help himself. He’s so keen to prove that he’s ‘from the streets’ and all he ever manages to do is show that he’s as thick as mince. He’s a couple of years older than me, from roughly the same area and looking at his wikipedia entry, I realise he was at the same school and in the same year as one of my cousins. My feeling is that he’s a liar, who tells stories about where he’s from that are slightly based in truth but which he feels make him look good because he ‘got out’. It’s easy to do, when you lack critical thinking skills and you want to be exceptional. He’s not, he’s just (and I cannot emphasise this enough) not very bright…

Creating a charity to pay for PM’s flat refurb would be ‘an outrage’. Seriously, Carrie Symonds can’t live with the furniture in her 4 bedroom house in Central London and needs to be rescued from the ‘John Lewis’ nightmare. They need to go and fuck off into the sea and then fuck off some more….

If oestrogen can save women from the worst of Covid, they should be given it. If it doesn’t work on the men, the chances of women getting it are remote.

Sunak’s budget was great for estate agents, but it did nothing for generation rent

Surveillance Shopping Arrives in London as Amazon Go Heads for Ealing Broadway. Yes this is down the road from me, there are apparently, queues to get in. Weirdly, it’s opposite Morrisons who supply a bunch of its stock.

Central Texas Farmers Share the Devastating Impacts of the Winter Storm. Oh my goodness all those dead brassicas.

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Allotment Adventures: Back to Work

Although it’s not quite spring, it’s getting lighter and warmer and it’s time for me to resume work on the plot. So last weekend, I spent 4 hours on the plot.

Trips to the plot always involve carrying something, this week it was the last of the blueberry/potato pots, shredded paper for the the compost bin, the allotment bag with various bits and bobs, and the bokashi bin.

First job was compost, emptying the bokashi and paper and consolidating all the bins into one. It took quite a while but I got there and everything is in bin one and looking pretty compost-y. I’ll leave it there for three months and then sieve it. And yes, I’m going to need to buy one of these before I do otherwise I will break myself.

Having done that, I moved the other wooden compost bin and the black bin, which I will fill with woodchip to compost down more slowly.

That done I did some tidying, I took down the kale bed, took the netting off the onions and shallots and weeded that bed. I also weeded the cabbage beds and cleared the last winter lettuce bed, and weeded the rhubarb.

Finally, I gave the shed a bit of a tidy so that I don’t get shouted at when Ma comes back next week and I went home with a bunch of pots to wash and a bucket of kale.

In other news, we ordered half of the compost we’ll need for this year. I think I said this last year but I’m hoping that next year, we won’t need to buy quite so much compost, because we shouldn’t be making any new beds and I hope to have enough to top up the beds. Although, I’ll probably buy compost for mulching the flower beds and for the potato pots. Ma and I also made the executive decision to order some plugs for autumn planting because I don’t have the capacity for sowing them in April when I’m already up to my ears in tomato, herb, and, summer and autumn squash plants. So in July we’ll get 40 leek plants, and 10 each of broccoli, cavolo nero, sweetheart cabbage, savoy cabbage and cauliflower. We can harvest from August but my feeling is that we’ll probably get caulis and broccoli Sept/Oct, cabbages, Nov/Dec and then cavolo nero to Feb. The leeks, I would hope to make it to January but they do get rust so we’ll see how we go.

Lots of wheelbarrowing in my future!

There is a list for next week and it’s all about beds and compost for me.

  • Mulch the rhubarb and weed and mulch the flower beds
  • Raise the kale bed and top up with compost
  • Divide the squash bed
  • Weed the area next to the squash bed and cover with cardboard (and woodchip if any has been delivered!)
  • Close and move the chard bed, raise it a bit and top up with compost
  • Feed the onions, garlic and shallots
  • Top up beds that need it and sow broad beans, peas, beetroot and carrots.

There’s lots more to do, I need to build another six beds, there is so much weeding to do and the shed probably needs painting again! But one thing at at time…

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Monday Miscellany: Month Three

Happy Monday and Happy March!

Giant Snowflake (leucojum)

I’m not in the best of physical health right now, I had a migraine yesterday and today my head hurts and I’d like to be in bed. However, I’m going to soldier on because very soon (tomorrow with any luck) the migrainey-ness (I don’t think that’s a word but go with it!) will stop for a bit. Generally, hormonal migraines do suck but I think they suck less than having migraines and not knowing why…

So, we’re in March. February wasn’t so bad, in the spirit of everyday being a learning day, I learnt how to drain a washing machine and unblock the drain! (plumber’s daughter!) and I taught a couple of my godchildren how to knit via zoom! As the weather warmed a bit (last week) I got back to the plot so it’s relatively tidy for the return of the Weedfinder General aka Ma!

Family – my great grandad, Aunt Phylis, Grandad, Aunt Edith and Aunt Ada

Last week, we heard that my great aunt Phylis had died. Grandad was emotionally if not physically close to his sisters. Phylis was the youngest of the four (by quite a way), she used to send us clothes (I had a very fetching orange pyjama all in one when I was about seven which I loved!) and cards although she spelt Ma’s name wrong every year too….

She was also the last one standing in that generation of our family, Mum has no more aunts or uncles and it’s really sad for her sons and grandchildren. We’ve lost a whole generation of our family and yes I understand that death comes for all of us but it’s still sad.


March is going to be full of things. Schools are going back next week, parents up and down the land are both happy and nervous! Mother’s Day is in 14 days and St Patrick’s Day is 17 days away. There is a ton of stuff to do on the plot and lighter days are happening.

March also marks a year working from home. Since the 18th March 2020, I’ve been in the office two days, once in the old London office to clear out lockers and once in the Southampton office to post goody bags to the team. I’ve since developed a close relationship with the lady at the Post Office in West Ealing! It’s strange how normal working from home is now, I can’t see that I’ll be back in the office before August (which I’ve always kind of thought that it would be August), because I know the roadmap is aiming for 21 June, but I don’t think that the phases are going to run as smoothly as everyone thinks and I’m not sure that I’ll be comfortable commuting every day until I’ve had a vaccine. We’ll see.

Anyway, let’s hope that this month is better than last month and this March is better than last year!

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Friday Links: Not Getting Too Excited

Happy Friday! You may have noticed my absence in this space over the last couple of months. This is due to a combination of lockdown (I hardly do anything!), SAD (I suck in winter) and WordPress being a bastard (photos are an issue and how much am I prepared to pay to ramble on the internet when I have no intention of trying to make money out of said ramblings, I have huge admiration for the people that do but I’m not able to because it’s too much rejection).

Anyway it’s sorted for now, but I need to spend some time editing past posts, there’s nothing in there that I’m ashamed of but there is sharing that I’m less comfortable with now, mostly around small people!

Parks have been a lifeline during the pandemic. Let’s make Buckingham Palace a public space. My ideal would be get rid of the monarchy and make all royal palaces gardens public parks….failing that, this is also a good idea..

The UK government is claiming every success for itself, while blaming us for its failures

The Republican Party Is Now in Its End Stages. We can hope

What I wish I’d had in Texas

Johnson is subdued but his dog is causing havoc. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Plausible

Lent, explained. The only thing I disagree with is that last paragraph. I was always taught that Lent was supposed to improve us because it taught us we were dependant on God and thus brought us closer to God.

It’s heartless to blame job losses on unemployed people – but it’s how much of Britain thinks. I think one of the results of COVID is that more people will begin to understand how often there is nothing you can do about being unemployed. I’ve been unemployed long enough for it to count as long term unemployed, eight months the first time when the company I worked for went bust because one of the partners was gambling with the tax money and again when a contract ended after 12 months (six months). I didn’t do anything wrong, but there I was unemployed. Check out my posts from August 2009 to April 2010 and then April 201 to November 2011. I did not enjoy working for the nearly seven years after that but I was so relived to have a job even one I hated because unemployment was 100 times worse. That job made me unhappy and one of the things they didn’t do badly was unemployment, it was a generous offer and it (and temping) gave me some breathing space and I cannot tell you how much I love my job. I used to say that I would definitely 100% give up work if I won the lottery, now I’m about 30-70%

I quit food delivery apps – the absurd convenience was not worth the cost. At the risk of sounding smug, I haven’t had food delivered to my house for over 15 years. I’ve collected a takeaway from Monty’s twice since I’ve lived here and had fish and chips a couple of times. I have only ever been in an Uber once, when I was in DC, and I didn’t order it, and never in the UK. Back in the days when I went into the office I would sometimes buy breakfast at Pret and monthly sushi on payday was (and still is my thing) but most of what I eat, I cook. I saw a thread on Twitter last week which consisted of people moaning that they were sick of their own cooking (and the subsequent washing up) and bored of takeaway options and of all the things I’m finding hard about lockdown, that is not one of them. So what’s the thing that everyone else is finding difficult right now that you didn’t think about?

How we all fell for Simon Hopkinson’s lovely tale of roast chicken. Roast Chicken and Other Stories is a lovely book AND the source for my favourite way to cook Easter lamb.

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Monday Miscellany: The Last Week of February

Happy Monday! I was up at 7am today because my back hurt and I did extra yoga to try and relax it, the yoga every day is not working, and my back and hip just hurt all the time and more when I walk and allotment. Which is not idea.

That aside everything is much as it was last Monday, except I’m not eating cakes, sweets, crisps or biscuits and being vegetarian Monday to Friday, which I’ve been doing for February anyway.

It’s been fish because it’s not been a week but it does require a change of mindset, yesterday I bought some ham and mortadella to have as a snack with my apple as I can’t have sweet stuff. Clearly, I didn’t think that through!

Just in case anyone was wondering, there are two ways to do Lent, it’s 40 days if you take out the Sundays, so the first option is to ‘fast’ Monday to Saturday and then ‘feast’ on Sunday. The second is that you fast all the was through from Ash Wednesday and finish on Palm Sunday.

I don’t do either of those things because I’m an idiot because breaking it every Sunday isn’t something I feel good doing, (that exception was designed for people who were really fasting and not eating much at all, I’m just giving up cakes, sweets, crisps and biscuits). I could do it the other way and finish on Palm Sunday but if I’ve chosen to give this stuff up for Lent, then celebrating the end of my resolutions in Holy Week (Palm to Easter Sunday) feels very wrong… 46 days of Lent it is.

This week I will try to get out a bit more, as it’s warmer and lighter. Have a good week!

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Now Valentine’s Day is done

I didn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day way back when I was in a relationship, so I pretty much ignore it, am happy for the people who get what they need from the day and that works fine.

However, any problem I might have with Valentine’s Day is about the idea that human beings are not worthy of respect unless they are in a relationship. I’ve talked about this before, as a single and childless woman (it’s bad for men but it is infinitely worse for women), I come up against this a lot.

Look romantic love is not the be all and end all of existence. Ironically, I re-read Cyrano by Geraldine McCaughrean over the weekend and that is all about romantic and unrequited love (although I will never understand Cyrano’s love for Roxanne because she’s an airhead!) and this always strikes me as perfect for people who don’t have or don’t want a romantic partner

There are other things besides Love. It does not occupy every corner of every minute. It does not perch on the door to every room. It does not hang on every coat-hook in the hall. It is not an ingredient of every meal. There are the realms of Nature, Politics, Mathematics, Science. There are other things besides Love.

For a Man with an enquiring mind and any kind of genius there is always plenty to do.

Cyrano – Geraldine McCaughrean

This is the thing, no one’s life is worthless if we use it well. No-one is incomplete without a partner, in fact studies have shown that single people are more altruistic than people in couples and often happier. I’ve linked to in before but Bella DePaulo did a whole TED talk on it.

Guys being single is not the worst thing that can happen to you, if you are, please don’t think you are lesser, because one is a whole number….

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