Friday Links

Happy Friday! Here are this week’s links….

The story behind the green huts in London. They aren’t that mysterious if you grew up in London. I’ve always known what they are, but this is fun anyway and as black cab drivers are an endangered species nowadays thanks to TfL and Uber, it’s worth knowing about now.

What if marriage is overrated? It’s about time…

The special interest group no party seems to care about: young people. This made me really cross for a number of reasons but mostly because this is a problem with a solution. Young people need to vote. I lknow that life for 20 somethings is not fun and the future seems bleak but the reason politics is skewed towards the Boomers, is that the Boomers vote. They read manifestos and they go to hustings and they let everyone know about what they want. The solution is in their hands, less moaning, more voting…

Outrage over McDonald’s twee ‘child grief’ advert is plain ridiculous. I haven’t seen the ad but we seem to have a growing problem with how to cope emotionally with people dying, which is why outrage like this happens. Also she’s right about this….

First – and let’s just get this out of the way – the real reason this advert is offensive is because a Filet-O-Fish is no one’s favourite. And the chances of two people in one family even ordering one once, let alone it becoming their fast-food item of choice is nil.

Could Trump go the way of Nixon? The parallels are striking but it took 900 days before Nixon resigned, a lot depends on the 2018 mid-terms..

Michael Rosen on grammar schools.

Ched Evans want to advise you how to avoid being raped. It’s beyond parody. This quote in particular, it’s disgusting.

“I also think that women need to be made aware of the dangers they can put themselves in because there are genuine rapists out there who prey on girls who have been drinking.”

The lesson he should have taken is not to have sex with a woman who is drunk or passed out….

Planned flats smaller than a Travelodge room. These are the slums of the future and they aren’t about provided homes but making money.

View story at Medium.com

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Allotment Adventures: Plant all the things

Work on the plot this week was all about planting because I’m ready to do that.

While Ma weeded, I planted out the crookneck, patty pan squash and courgettes, some of the tomatoes (Jen’s Tangerine Cherry and Orange Banana) and cucumbers (Boothby’s blonde and Miniture White). Last year, I didn’t really do any companion planting but this year I sowed nasturtiums at the edges of the  squash beds. Dill with the cucumber and marigolds with the tomatoes.

I planted the lemon verbena in the herb bed, it will apparently grow very tall but I’m still not convinced that it’ll survive the winter, so we’ll see. Below are the courgettes, and yes I’m aware that’s probably too many but I did 4 last year in a bed that size and it worked, so we’ll see!Because we have a greenhouse this year, we going to grow some tomatoes and peppers in pots in there.  I also sowed french beans, parsley, coriander, carrots, and spring onions because we need to be getting on with that. The carrots and spring onions were planted in the bath after we’d filled it with compost (I seem to spent all my money on compost right now and I’m not making nearly enough!). However, we did get luck because Dionne has a car and bought me three big bags so that was one thing I didn’t have to do this weekend.

After last year, which was all success, it was inevitable that I’d have have some failures this year, step forward mildewed gooseberries and bolting onions both are because of the very dry spring and my ignorance in not watering them. The garlic also has leek rust which is a pain. The red onion were done for and we pulled them up, planting the patty pan and one of the crooknecks in that bed. The radishes I sowed there gave me my first crop and I must sow some more.The white onions are fairing better and I’ve cut off the seed heads but it’s not going to be brilliant. The rhubarb is also suffering but everyone’s rhubarb is suffering. Lastly, just as they have beans, the broad beans have blackfly.

So far the raspberries look ok although they are spreading and need to be contained, the herb bed is looking good, the lavender loves its new position although the sage is trying to overwhelm it. 

The winter squash are all in the greenhouse and will be planted out in the next week or two, I have given enough of them away that I now have 2 each of the boston winter squash, the baby blue hubbard and the butternut squash. Whether I have room for them is besides the point. I potted on the amish paste and red cherry tomatoes yesterday night when I watered.

The strawberries look good but no tiny strawberries yet.

The potatoes have recovered from the frost and the mint has come back.

There is more to do and  lots of weeding but I feel its more a matter of waiting.

The list is splitting into things I can do right now and things that will need to wait until I can take things to the dump.

Immediate

  • Sow salad leaves
  • Leeks, plant out repot others for later.
  • Plant out winter squash
  • Chives, I want to plant chives in the herb bed and I have a space for them, so I just need get them.
  • Spray the broad beans to contain the blackfly.

Longer term

  • The gooseberry bushes. cut back, dispose of cuttings.
  • The strawberry bed. I want to extend the bed out to where the toolbox was, so that’ll need digging over and weeding before I can plant a new set in.
  • The plum tree. It needs pruning and that can’t happen for a while but it has to be done this year because it’s getting in the way
  • Sort out the shed a bit more, hooks for tools etc.

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Best/Worst – 8 May 2017

Best

Work. Work never normally makes it onto the best week, I’m not the person who loves my my job, I work for money so I can have a roof over my head and buy books and things for the allotment! So it’s an inescapable part of my life but never the best bit! This week, it was nice to be amongst people, even if the commute was vicious. That aside, it’s easy to forget with all the petty frustrations of working and office life that the company I work for is pretty good at being flexible about how and where the work gets done. I’m grateful for that.

Haircut. This always makes me happy! 

My mum. Yesterday was Mother’s Day in the rest of the world (well at least the U.S and Canada!) and it was also the weekend that Ma was amazing. She weeded and was generally wonderful and she’s the best even if she is not to be trusted around Haribo…

Chelsea are the Premier League Champions. It makes me happy

Worst

Puffy ankle hell. At the end of every day, my ankle was done with me, life and walking. It’ll heal eventually but it’s a pain right now.


Hay fever. I’ve been suffering this week with streaming eyes and stuffy nose. It gets worse every year which I think has more to do with London’s air quality than the pollen!

A meeting that went over 6 hours. Although it was good to be back at work, this was a horrible day!

Honourable mentions to family what’s app conversations, sunshine, friends who bring you compost, perfect bread, babysitting and getting to read bedtime stories, friends feeding you quiche, and getting to grips with the laundry.

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Friday Links

Happy Friday!

Charged for water that isn’t safe to drink. Wow.

Irish beach washed away 33 years ago reappears overnight after freak tide.

Why I’m quitting teaching.

The scandal of the Bank of Mum and Dad. I’m going to say it again, why wasn’t it a scandal when it only effected working class kids?

Joanna Lumley is right: Idris Elba shouldn’t play Bond – in fact, no one should. Bond is fiction and is remade everytime they cast a new actor, it’s acting, I’m sure if Idris Elba was cast, he’d be great. But this is lovely, James Bond is actually Prince Philip!

In this Joanna Lumley is correct, although perhaps unintentionally so. What would Bond look like, if he had actually existed and been allowed to age? Bond scholars have it that the character would have been born in 1920 or 1921, educated at Eton and Fettes College, later doing a stint in the navy, famously racist, sexist and homophobic, and given to emitting embarrassing quips at the most inopportune moments. Which means that Bond, if he were alive today, would be 96 and look exactly like Prince Philip. The similarities between the two men are astonishing when you pause to look at them: same year of birth, public schooling and international education, military background, and a lifetime spent in unquestioning service to the queen. The two men’s best one-liners are routinely anthologised by tabloids and lads’ mags. The only significant difference between the two men is that Prince Philip has had the decency finally to retire.

Why are the British so reluctant to recognise our migration history? I didn’t think we were. My paternal grandparents were economic migrants and the country was invaded again and again. There have been plays and books written about it. It’s there if you want to find it. I think the question is more, why don’t people look?

We’ve been playing politics with housing for too long. I’ve been saying this for the last 20 or so years…

The Conservatives’ energy price cap is not long term strong and stable policy. This has everyone at work stratching their heads. Either you’re for competition or you’re not, I’m not that keen on private utilities and as benign dictator of the country would re-nationalise, energy, water and trains but if you support competition as the way to make services better, and May says she does, then this has no internal logic. The Competitions and Market Authority doesn’t believe it will help and they’ve just finished an 18 month investigation, the results of which are still working their way through the industry. Like with grammar schools and immigration, May won’t listen to the experts, she’ll fuck it up all by herself….

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Try Again. Fail. Fail Better.

One of the things about nearly 9 years of blogging (yeah it’s been that long!) is that I get to see how everything changes and everything stays the same and my hair always looks good!One of the things that I notice when I look back is how often I need to re-learn lessons that I thought I already knew. I also notice that each time I fail and I fail often, is that I fail a little less and thus each failure is also a tiny improvement.

All of this to say that I did not set any goals for May and I didn’t recap April goals. This is not entirely because I didn’t do anything in April, it’s more about time off work and a sprained ankle meaning that I was in the wrong frame of mind for blogging and I just found other things to do. However, I need to re-focus myself for the rest of May in a couple of areas because I’m not failing yet but I’m feeling a little out of control and need to get a grip before I crash and burn. Needing to re-set after four or five months is also a pattern that I see over the years too!Mostly it’s about discipline and focus. I have a tendency to go off into what I want to do, not what I need to do. So I’ll spend an evening reading and forget to hang the laundry, when that chore would have taken 10 minutes and then I could have picked up the book! I’m better than I used to be, nowadays, I get the washing up done before I pick up the book. Although I can treat cooking dinner as a chore and grind it out, I slip on other things. So I need to start again.One of the things that I’ve noticed is that if I focus on the little things, the bigger things sort themselves out. Start with the basics and the more complex things, seem less complex and challenging. So here is my re-focus list….

Saving for Christmas. Christmas and the 10 family/friends/godchildren birthdays from September to December are financially burdensome so even if I just put £10 a month into savings that’s money I’m not spending in November/December in a panic.

Food & Budget. I’ve more or less stuck to £15 a week for food but I need to start tracking it and being more aware of food and waste and not over buying too much. I’m going to re-introduce the food money purse and not just take it out of general money.

No spend week. One of the advantages of being trapped in the house is that you can’t spend money. I don’t do a lot of online shopping anymore and last week, when I was trapped in the house, I spent a grand total of £20, which was the money I gave to Ma for food shopping. So I’m naming the first week after payday, no spend week as that’s the week that I tend to get overexcited with spending. Other than food, I’m not going to buy anything. Let’s see how that works.

Housework. The golden hour before bedtime works, if I do it, so I’m going to set an alarm for 9pm to remind me. I also need to introduce the ‘just got home, half an hour’ to sort out the stuff I need to do. Going through post, putting away clothes etc. In fairness I do most of this automatically but the odd things don’t get done and I need to focus on them.Self Care. Four years ago (ish) I wrote a post about how treating my body like it was my flat had helped me feel better about it and in a post about re-learning things, I come back to it. I need to spend a bit more time on ‘housework’ for my body. That goes to moisturiser, getting more sleep, and some work on how I fuel my body. I don’t know what that looks like yet but I’ll keep you posted!

So five things, that I’m going to focus on and think about in May and incorporate into June’s goals. My word for 2017 was focus and so time to get back to that and I’ll fail a bit less this time.

 

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Allotment Adventures: One Year Later

How do you celebrate having managed to cultivate an allotment for an entire year.

Like this….

I can’t quite believe that I stuck at it for 12 months. In that time I’ve found a community, in real life and on online of people who are just as crazy about the joys of growing your own food as I am.

This was my first visit when I decided that I’d take it, it was 1st May and I signed for it the next Saturday on the 7th.

Digging over and look at the weeds…

By the end of May we had some plants in the ground.

By the end of June, it was looking pretty productive

But we made a sanity saving decision to cover the bits that we couldn’t get under control

By the end of July we were feeling pretty good about it, with produce and sweet peas and new beds, everything was so green…Over August, we started to try and rehabilitate the raspberries, we also planted a tiny strawberry bed from some runners.I made plum gin from my own plums and got excited about the tomatoes

We were well into the courgette glut by then, I learnt to pickle them and made lots of courgette cake. Everything was abundant, by that point of the summer we had had gooseberries, raspberries, rhubarb, courgettes, salad, spinach, french beans, peas, rocket, some tomatoes, cucumbers,plums, nasturtiums, sweet peas, marigolds, afgan and californian poppies, by September, there were runner beans, dill and coriander, and the rosemary, sage, oregano, thyme and mint were all doing well. We also got rid of the frame, which didn’t go without a fight but really opened up the space.In October and November, with things really dying down, we did a bit of rearranging. We bought another 6 raised beds and laid down more weed suppressant.We also measured and sorted out where we wanted a shed to go and planted garlic, onions and broad beans for next year.

There wasn’t really anything left to do so visits were few and far between in December and January because we didn’t plant anything that we could eat over winter. We are planning better for this year!In February, things were starting again and we replenished the woodchip, with much swearing from Ma!We also dug over some areas for herbs and started to think about growing things again.

In March we just did more of the same. I had a bit of a crisis of confidence while nurturing seedings and I planted some hyacinths.At the end of April, we finally got a shed.And here we are a year later. The plot looks like this. 

There are things growing and some setbacks (mildew on the gooseberries, dry spring and I still don’t really know what I’m doing!) but it’s all good and I’m proud of what Ma and I have got done and I seem to have a hobby or obsession!

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What I’ve Read – March and April 2017

I missed posting What I’ve Read for March and April so I’m catching up. I was trying to get though the Kindle TBR list and started ok, then went off the rails. Oh well…

Ysabel – Guy Gavriel Kay (Kindle TBR list)

I enjoyed this, it didn’t have the heft of the author’s usual work but I liked the sense of change and things undone and I loved that we got to see Kim and Dave after the events of the Fionavar books.

Those Autumn Nights – Theresa Romain (Kindle TBR list)

This felt really fluffy, even compared to my usual fluff and I wasn’t all that impressed.

Barely Breathing – Pamela Clare (Kindle TBR list)

I’ve had this on the list for ages and a Smart Bitches author rec, sent me back to it. It was good while I was reading it and there was compentence porn which I’m keen on but it went all a bit sideways and I’m on the shelf about reading the others.

Blurred Lines – Lauren Layne (Kindle TBR list)

Again, I really enjoyed it while I was reading  it but you knew how it was going.

Hail Mary – Nicola Rendell (Kindle TBR list)

I didn’t buy that the heroine could knock out the hero, I didn’t buy that the heroine, a physio could have spent lots of time boxing to overcome her fear of an abusive ex without working to get her head in the game. I liked them as a couple, I liked that they had issues about whether to have kids, and the difficultly of making a relationship work but the resolution was to quick, from all of those issues to love and babies and marriage.

Hunting Season (The Gathering) – Shelley Laurenston (bought)

I do have issues with the calling other woman sluts, whores etc but I still love Laurenston’s books and I love her take on the nordic gods and myths.

Tangled Up – Erin Nicholas (bought)

Erin Nicholas small town drama is sought of my catnip, which is hilarious because me and small towns/villages, not compatible. However, in my fiction reading they are fine because they are so made up. I liked this, I really liked that the heroine and hero had to overcome their assumptions of each other and of who they were. Fun

Mayhem: Mayhem Series 1  – Jamie Shaw (borrowed)

Riot: Mayhem Series 2 – Jamie Shaw (borrowed)

Chaos: Mayhem Series 3 – Jamie Shaw (borrowed)

Havoc: Mayhem Series 4 – Jamie Shaw (borrowed)

I read these because H was and although I’m horrified that my 16 year old god-daughter is reading stuff like this (I’m also horrified that she’s 16, how did that happen?) I know that I read the 1989 version of books like this so it’s gonna happen. It was all a bit unrealistic but fine..

Do You Want to Start a Scandal – Tessa Dare (Kindle TBR list)

Speaking of unrealistic, welcome to Tessa Dare. The first Tessa Dare book I read was ‘A Night to Surrender’ her first Spindle Cove book and it was not anything like the book a friend had promised me it was. Getting over that took a while and then I went back to it and I enjoy her books now I’m not expecting accuracy. Anyway, this one takes a supplementary character from Spindle Cove and one from a previous ‘Castles Ever After’ and puts them together and hi-jinks ensue. Fun.

What It Takes – Shannon Stacey (bought)

I love Shannon Stacey but this felt off. Like two smaller books that didn’t have enought plot smooshed together. I did enjoy it because see above about my small town catnip but it didn’t really sing.

The Hot Shot – Kristen Callihan (bought)

Another author that I love to read and I a world that I seriously can’t know about or understand. I liked it, because of it’s unreality but within that, I liked the characters and found their confusion believable.

Flight Behaviour – Barbara Kingsolver (Kindle TBR)

This has been languishing on my TBR list for years and I can’ t think why because I really enjoyed it. There has been a lot of discussion recently about the return of nationalism and rural identity and people voting against their own interest. In an American context, this book was looking at it in 2012 before that orange clown was elected but it’s worth reading for that. For looking at what it takes to change views and care and break out from where you are. I’ve been talking about it so much that Ma is reading it now.

The Giver – Lois Lowry (Kindle TBR)

This is a classic children’s book, I never got around to reading. Reading it as a grown up, I notice it’s craft, how you’re brought to an understanding of what’s happening, just like the narrator. The reader isn’t aware of what’s not being said or described right until they are. It’s great and I’d wish I’ll read it when I was 11.

Twist – Kylie Scott (bought)

I liked this better than Dirty but I recognise that this is about millenials so what I find unrealistic might be because of my age. It was fun.

The Demon Prince – Ann Aguirre (bought)

I’m really enjoying this series. Although I didn’t like the pairing as much as I liked the previous one, I’m enjoying the world of the books. I really want more detail about it. I’m going to end up reading these as they are released because I want to see what she’s going to come up with.

Heat Wave – Karina Halle (borrowed)

By the end of this book, I was hate reading it. I didn’t like anyone in the book and it was trying too hard to be tense and weighty and it didn’t work for me at all.

Cream of the Crop – Alice Clayton (bought)

While some of it was very chick-lit unreal, I really enjoyed this. I liked the city/countryside pull for the heroine and it was funny and fun.

 

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