Allotment Adventures: Ready to grow

The weather is getting everyone down, my lovely allotment neighbour Joe, says that he thinks it’s been the worse spring he can remember since he had the plot and he’s had the plot as long as I’ve been alive! We had two warmish sunny days and then weather forecast reckoned that there would be rain every day except Wednesday (today) but it wasn’t due to rain on Saturday until the evening so Ma and I set out to get some work done. To give you an idea, this is a photo of the sun, you can sort of see it!

After Ma’s calculation on the best value compost, we went to Wickes and bought 8 bags of compost (560 litres of compost).Fortunately, 70 litre bags are easier to carry than 120 litre bags. We put a bag in each of the beds that haven’t already had compost and covered them until we are ready to start sowing things which should be very soon.

Then we got to work on other things. First off, weeding for Ma and another coat of paint on the shed for me. It’s really surprised me how painting the shed has made it less noticeable, it blends in much better.Ma and I also worked out where the squash bed at the top of the plot would go and she forked it over. My eventual intention is to build a bed but for this year I’ll raise the bed with compost and we’ll plant squash there. This also gives a good picture of the state of the soil, it’s wet underneath but dry and cracked on top, having a bed there will stop us walking all over it. Ma set up the last flower circle at the front of the plot. We’ll get to sowing some seeds in there shortly, we can already see the self seeded californian poppies coming up and I’m happy for them to do their thing.

We planted the remaining potatoes and covered in fleece, just in case!

Despite the weather things are coming on, the broad beans and the rhubarb are starting to grow

There is always more to do but we are as prepared as we can be and just need to wait on weather and time.

We do have things to do so for next weekend when I’m allotmenting solo this is my work list

  • build the cloche
  • outdoor sowing
    • more peas
    • beetroot
    • salad
    • parsley and borage
    • flowers?
  • sow indoors
    • cucumbers
    • cucamelons
    • summer squash
    • winter squash
    • marigolds
    • more tomatoes
    • prick out the tomatoes that we’ve sow
  • move leek seedlings into cloche
  • bonfire (weather permitting)
  • last coast of paint for the shed (weather permitting)
  • trim rosemary bushes

Good thing that other than housework, food shopping and prep, walking Fred the dog (and maybe Noah the grandson) with Sarah and hopefully catching up with Ryan and Claire, I don’t have any plans!

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What I’ve Read – February and March 2018

I’ve been going through the last couple of months, feeling that reading has been tricky this year. I started the year with a couple of books that I loved (Elinor Oliphant, The Hate U Give, Iron Gold) and have felt that February and March were a bit meh but actually it hasn’t been that bad. So for the last two months, this is what I’ve read..

 Dragon Actually – G.A. Aitken

Did not like. GA Aitken also writes as Shelley Laurenston and I thought I would enjoy this, but I didn’t.

The Duchess Deal – Tessa Dare

I did enjoy this, I have to do a certain amount of handwaving when I read Tessa Dare but she writes well, this was funny and I enjoyed Emma and her new friends.

Brooklynaire – Sarina Bowen

So I more or less autobuy Bowen’s books but I didn’t enjoy this as much as the others in the series. I think because there had been so much lead up to this story through the other books.

The Boy on the Bridge – M.R. Carey

I loved The Girl with All the Gifts and this is another story from the same world, that ties up some threads. I did really enjoy it, I found it had all the things that I liked from TGWATG but I was interested in these people and how they would live with themselves and with the world they were in.

Mister McHottie – Pippa Grant

This was free, and I’m glad it was because I would have been sad to have paid cash money for it. I did not find it hilarious and honestly, I didn’t much like or empathise with the hero or the heroine, which is a pretty bad thing in book.

A Princess in Theory – Alyssa Cole

I did enjoy this, but not as much as everyone else seems to have done. There’s lots about it I loved, Ledi is great, her best friend needs a slap. The book didn’t gel for me,  the first half of the book and the second didn’t seem to fit. The end was all bish bash bosh, problem solved and that didn’t seem right when the characters were so finely drawn to start with.

A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’engle

The film has not had great reviews but lots of people who’s opinions I respect are really excited about it and really love the book. So I read the book and I’ve worked out for me what the problem is. A Wrinkle in Time is a classic children’s book in the US, it doesn’t have the same following here. It was written in 1963 but I don’t ever remember seeing it in the library at school or home. It isn’t a book that parents here have passed onto children. It’s a good children’s book and I enjoyed it and if they were easily available, I’d read the others. I get why my friends are excited for the film but the story doesn’t have the same emotional heft for me.

Bringing Delaney Home – Lee Kilraine

This was free and thank goodness it was because it wasn’t that good. I just didn’t get it, there was too much going on in the town and not enough going on with the characters.

Digging In – Loretta Nyhan

This was also a freebie, it was an Amazon Prime monthly pick. I enjoyed it, it was very gentle but I would have actually preferred more gardening (of course I would!).

The Rook – Daniel O’Malley (re-read)

I loved this when I first read it and I loved it on second reading, which I did to reacquaint myself with the world before reading the sequel.

Stiletto – Daniel O’Malley

What happens when you make peace with an opponent that you have been brought up to loathe? In Stiletto, it all gets very confusing and complicated and funny.

Other Minds: The Octopus and the Evolution of Intelligent Life – Peter Godfrey-Smith

I loved this, I picked it up half price when I bought Ma a book for Mother’s Day, because books are my love language (I bought her The Catholics: The Church and its People in Britain and Ireland, from the Reformation to the Present Day, she did like it and has already been quoting bits of it to me!). As a present, buying something that gets me a cheap book it a win win, and I really enjoyed it. I’m not good at science but I understood pretty much all of it and I enjoyed the way that Godfrey-Smith mixes his experience of octopuses with explaining evolution, I really loved the explanation of the current theories of ageing. Overall, I was entertained and I learnt something I didn’t know much about.

Silver Silence – Nalini Singh

This is the second arch of the Psy-Changling series. I enjoyed it because I always do.

Tell the Wind and Fire – Sarah Rees Brennan

I really loved this so much I considered reading A Tale of Two Cities. (I’m really not a huge fan of Dickens). Anyway it was less funny than other SRB books but so good.

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Monday Miscellany

Morning! I hope you are all ready to start another week, I’m always ready and never quite ready, there is always too much to entertain me at home! Which is probably how you should feel about where you live, I love my little flat!

Anyway, miscellany….I bought tulips this weekend, they were 75 pence a bunch so it felt like I had to buy them…

My current netflix obsession is the Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries, they are like Australian 20’s Agatha Christie and I have just a crush on Miss Fisher’s bob, I know from bitter experience that my hair won’t do that but I really admire other people’s perfect hair. I notice that everyone seems to want their hair to do the opposite of what it does, people with straight hair want curly hair and blondes want to be redheads and so on. Overall though, I like my hair which is pretty much like my mum’s, the only difference being colour!

This weekend Ma and I ate our Easter lunch, for Easter we were at Ben and Lu’s and that was lovely (if I do say so myself!) but Ma and I are creatures of tradition and the anchovy roast lamb is an Easter tradition, so we did it a week later…

When it comes to maths, I am the family dud, Ma, Ben, Oli and Laura are all freakishly good at it (I have hopes of Joe but he counts better than he speaks, so those hopes are probably in vain!), which is why I’m not surprised that Ma did a cost analysis to work out whether the compost from Wicks or Homebase was cheaper. It was Wickes….so we went off to buy 580 litres, which is a lot to wheelbarrow to the plot, but I managed it. It also seems much nicer compost than the Homebase stuff.

I finally got all the potatoes planted and gave the shed another cost of paint. We’ve had two sunny days but the weather forecast predicts rain every day this week except Wednesday, at least it’s not snow but I am ready for proper Spring now but the signs are there

On Friday, I came home and really did not want to be dressed, so I took my jeans off and wondered around the house with no trousers on for a bit. My dad used to do this too and Joe is at the stage where he takes his trousers off at any given opportunity. Genetic inheritance right there….

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Friday Links

Happy Friday! It’s been a bit quite around here this week mainly because I caught a bug and have been throwing up, not fun, Ma tells me that nephew no 1 has been ill too and took himself off to bed at 4 in the afternoon. Anyway, bed and sleep and Radio 4 are the best way to cope with feeling sick. That and fizzy water. I’m feeling better.

I posted on Tuesday Start the Week (which had my brother – Hi B! – wondering if I was going to get all religious, I’m not sure if it’s reassuring or worrying that he hasn’t noticed my whole life!!) and goals for April

Here are this week’s links…

Ecuador Shuts Off Julian Assange’s Internet Access in Apparent Response to Recent Russia Tweets Cards on the table, I don’t believe that Julian Assange is being unlawfully detained, he put himself in that embassy and he keeps himself there. So I’m very amused by this.

Would you take £1m now, or £1,000 a week for the rest of your life? I’m not a millennial but I’d take the weekly sum!

How to bring a high street back from the dead

Ray Wilkins died. He was only 61, Richard Williams sums up why football has lost someone special.

A while ago, Sarah posted her Desert Island Books and I’ve been thinking about mine ever since and it’s harder than Desert Island Discs….don’t make me play favourites with the books…


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Monthly Goals – March/April 2018

I’m all over the place this week, with the bank holiday and then on Tuesday a bug of some kind. I had to go home on Tuesday afternoon and haven’t left the house since!

Anyway, with March over, we are through the first quarter of the year and it’s been an odd month. It’s not been a good month for illness, I celebrated the last day of February, by putting my back out in spectacular fashion. I’ve hurt my back before and it’s been painful but I’ve been able to move, a bit more slowly than usual but I’ve got to work and I’ve got around. Not this time, I couldn’t stand straight, I couldn’t sit upright, it was seriously the worst it’s ever been, at some points crawling was the only way to get around and simple things like getting out of bed took 5 to 10 minutes. It resulted in two days off work and a weekend of doing very little. There was more snow on St Patrick’s Day and it was another weekend when I didn’t leave the house because I was ill, this time it was just a cold and much milder than usual (I didn’t miss any work days) but I wasn’t taking any chances. In between bouts of illness that kept me indoors, Ma and I spent the weekend in Shefford with the boys, where I caught the cold, but other than that, I had a pretty anti social month!

But on how I did with my March goals

Mind and Body

  • 10,000 steps a day. – Nope, nope so much nope. The target was 310,000 for the month and didn’t get there 
  • Vitamins every day. – This was easy, I take all four at night (multi-vitamin, vitamin d, folic acid and a high strength glucosamine, MSM and chondroitin tablet)
  • Feet and Hands. – again pretty easy to do, I do it before I go to bed
  • Golden hour – I’ve been maintaining this pretty strictly because last month my sleep was appalling and doing this helps a lot, and can be seen in my sleep stats in March I had a weekly average of 4h 35min sleep against the 3hr45min I got in February.

Budget & Spending

  • Stick to the spending budgets for food and household – yep, I did this, even when factoring my ‘throw money at it’ approach when I was ill.
  • No card use. I need to leave my debit card at home this month – didn’t manage it. I used my card, mostly in the chemist!

House Beautiful

  • Hoover once a week, my dislike of hoovering is well known, so I need to make it a weekly habit. – nope, see above about hurting my back. 
  • Defrost freezer – nope
  • Sort out underbed storage – this did not happen
  • Clean oven – nope
  • Curtains in the bedroom – this didn’t happen either!

Allotment  (why is this the longest list?)

  • bonfire
  • Paint the shed
  • start sowing seeds indoors (leeks, tomatoes, cucumbers, cucamelons, peppers, kale, chard, cauliflowers) – we’ve did leeks, tomatoes and sweetpeas on St Patrick’s Day 
  • start sowing seeds outdoors (beetroot, carrots, radishes, peas, salad, herbs) – nope see above answer about the snow and the rain!
  • plant out potatoes the anyas are planted out, the others I’ll do this weekend. 
  • buy compost and fill up remaining beds – nope, we had plans but neither of us felt up to doing it on Monday in the rain
  • plant out mint – done and we’ll see if it lives

Year so far

Reading – The TBR list on the Kindle stands at 92 and the physical pile of books is at 32, it slowly coming down, I just have to stop buying and borrowing books (it’s a disease!)

Household budget – I started with £52.20 ended with £12.00. I’ll have £52.00 for April

Food Budget – I had £14.86 left over which went in the jar.

Saving – The jar now contains £102.43

Health – So it’s not been the best month health wise. My bad back got much, much worse and I caught a cold. Good news is that my back seems better and it wasn’t a terrible cold, I was functional and I didn’t get a cough, so I’m feeling positive about that. But I do think that my overall health is being affected by the low level stress caused by not having a permanent job and temping. There’s nothing much I can do about that apart from work harder to find a permanent role! In other good news the clocks went back in March and we have much more daylight, which always helps. 

April Goals

April, so far is looking very quiet. It’ll be work and allotment and growing all the plants….

Mind and Body

  • 10,000 steps a day.
  • Vitamins every day.
  • Feet and Hands.
  • Golden hour

Budget & Spending

  • Stick to the spending budgets for food and household.
  • No card use. Let’s see if I can make this work for April

House Beautiful

This is pretty much all repeats of March because I didn’t get it done last month

  • Hoover once a week, my dislike of hoovering is well known, so I need to make it a weekly habit.
  • Sort out underbed storage
  • Clean oven
  • Defrost fridge
  • Curtains in the bedroom

Allotment  (still the longest list!)

  • bonfire
  • sowing seeds indoors (summer and winter squash, cucumbers etc)
  • start sowing seeds outdoors (beetroot, carrots, radishes, peas, salad, herbs)
  • sowing flowers in various places around the plot
  • greenhouse?
  • sort out the section at the top of the plot where the squash are going
  • compost
  • finish planting the potatoes
  • another coat of paint on the shed


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Start the Week

It’s Tuesday and there has been a bank holiday and today is the start of the working week. Which is silly because I worked over the long weekend too. I cleaned the house, food prepped, cooked most of a roast dinner on Sunday, changed a couple of nappies (it’s always work but it’s especially work when they are not your children, yes even if they are your nephews, it’s work!), changed the bed and hoovered! Work. I also walked 10 miles with a dog and a friend, mostly in the mud and sometimes in the rain but that was for fun!

I did most of that work on my own time though, when I wanted to do it and with downtime in between tasks. Today is work, I don’t choose it and yet I have to do it because I do choose, in so far as I am able to choose, to have a roof over my head and food in the fridge. So I work.

The long Easter weekend is over, but Easter isn’t. I am still in Easter and I want to think about what Easter has taught me this year. What happens every year as I work my way through my life and the Christian calendar is that I learn something new about my life, my faith and what the hell I’m doing with all of it and sometimes it comes out over the course of the year and sometimes I have huge leaps of learning. Much to my surprise because I didn’t plan for it, Lent and Easter has been a learning time.

So what didn’t I plan to learn?

I’m a great one for doing, this Lent I spent more time thinking. A dedicated time every day with God. You can call it meditation, prayer, listening, whatever works for you, but I’ve been doing it. The phrase that keeps echoing through my head has been ‘God has work for you’.

The people that know me well and some of the people that don’t are probably aware that my single, childless state was not of my choosing and has been privately painful for some time. I’ve always been pretty clear that if it didn’t happen then it was probably because God didn’t mean for it to happen. That doesn’t mean that I’ve been ok about it because it has been painful. I’ve really been thinking hard about what it means when God says no.

God has work for me, seems to be the answer. When I was confirmed, I offered my life to God, I say it every time I say the Lord’s Prayer (Thy will be done), so I can hardly be surprised when God takes me at my word and instead of giving me the work I want, partnering and parenting, and gives me something else.

I’m still not sure what that work is but I have the rest of the year to work it out!


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Friday Links

No, it’s ok, I know it’s not actually Friday. It is however, the last day of the week if you’re in the UK and the beginning of the long weekend.

For all that I’m not really a churchgoer any more, I am a Christian and this week and the weekend are a pretty big deal. Sunday is also Lu’s birthday so I’ll be spending some of the weekend with the family too.

In case you missed anything this week, my usual round of my posts this week starts as ever with miscellany and my usual allotment update – where there has actually been some progress!!

And here is the other stuff..

The hard truth about back pain. Having recovered from my first severe back pain incident, I did the exercises on the hour and tried to make sure that I moved, but for the first two days, it was almost like my brain had forgotten how to walk or sit or stand up. After the first two days, I was able to walk more and it helped but before that walking just made the pain worse whereas rest helped.

The Grenfell Tower recovery is still being treated as a PR problem

The Hate U Give wins Waterstones children’s book of the year. I also completely agree with James Daunt that this book needs to be read by adults too.

A harassed woman tweeting her story isn’t tantamount to a witch hunt

These gaping holes in male learning and collective action are filled not only by female solidarity, where knowing women look out for one another and swoop in where able, but also by a noisy minority of men whose chief priority in the war against sexual harassment seems to be in reminding everyone that not all men are evil.

How to boost your business? Let workers sleep

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