Good/Bad w/c 13 March 2017

Good

Seedlings. The most of the cucumbers have come up, the second set of leeks are doing the growing thing, the tomatoes and patty pans have come up too. I’m waiting on the other summer squash and cucumbers and there is a long way to go until they are good to plant out but it makes me happy!Haircut. I’ve had a haircut and spent time with Jane. (its a bad picture of a good haircut!)

Allotment time. We bought compost, prepared beds, weeded and I spent time with my hands in the earth. Over winter, I didn’t realise how much I missed  it, although I’m guessing that by October, I’ll be fed up of the constant demands of the plot. Circle of life and all that….

Bad

Stomach bug or something. Monday night and Tuesday being sick and feeling ill. Not a fun happy time.

Commuting woes. It’s not been great this week. On Monday I was 40 minutes later into the office than usual, on Thursday it was 30 minutes. I usually get into work at 8.30, because I need the 30 minutes headstart that gives me on my day. I just feel rushed and out of control without it!

 

 

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Friday Links 

Happy Friday and for those of you that celebrate it, or like me just use it as a handy excuse to drink whiskey and Guiness, Happy St Patrick’s Day!

Disciples of a false prophet

Mount Etna is the world’s most active volcano and it went bang…

Planning for the death of the Queen. Honestly, bar having a day off for the funeral and my worries about her son overreaching as King, I hadn’t really given it much thought.

This is one of the most Christian responses to the issue of women priests and the Philip North fiasco I have read.

I’m 35 and I love gardening, deal with it. Yep, except I’m 43 and obsessed with my allotment!

Theresa May hung her chancellor out to dry. Didn’t she just. She is not a leader, she seems to have worked hard to be Prime Minister but she has no idea what to do next except not get in trouble. And as Simon Jenkins says…

She may have intended to discredit him, but she discredited herself. She made him look foolish, and damaged his authority within cabinet and on the backbenches: in itself a dangerous move. But she devastated her position within the government as a leader prepared to stand up for what she believed was a sound policy in the public interest.

The debate sparked by Samuel L. Jackson about black British actors being used over African-American ones, has been interesting. David Harewood has written about it. Given how many really talented black British actors have to go and work in the US because of the lack of opportunity here, I reckon they have more in common than not.

 

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Mincemeat Rolls

My lovely colleague Jess and I have an occasional breakfast club, she buys ham and cheese croissants from eat and Imake us breakfast and bring it in. Last week, Jess brought croissiants in on Monday and I’d said that I’d do something this Monday. Then I totally forgot about it until Sunday night. So at 8pm on Sunday night I started a batch of dough. I used this recipe from Michelle at Utterly Scrummy as a base, because it’s quick and relatively simple. However, I have changed it up a bit.  I used mincement as a filling and iced them with a basic icing sugar and water icing.

What (Dough)
250ml milk, I used skimmed
50g butter
250g plain flour
250g bread flour
1 sachet instant yeast (7g)
50g white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

What (Filling)
250g jar mincement

How
Add milk, butter, sugar and salt to a pan and heat gently until the butter is almost melted. Put flour and yeast into a mixing bowl. Pour this milk into the bowl and combine until a dough forms. Knead the dough until it’s soft and not sticky. I do this in the bowl and don’t add flour. Roll the dough out into a rectangle about 30cm x 40cm and spread mincement over it. Roll up and slice into 12 pieces. Lay them in a square baking tray (8 x 8 inches?) and leave to prove for 30 to 45 minutes. Bake in 180C/160C Fan oven for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.

 

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Allotment Adventures: Spring is coming in

It’s weird, I feel like I’ve been waiting on Spring forever. Finally, things are coming alive again, my gooseberry and raspberries have leaves, the blackcurrant and plum are in bud and my rhubarbs have some leaves too.The overwintered onions, garlic, broad beans, spinach, chard and beetroot are perking up and looking a lot less weather battered, Spring is coming folksOn the plot we’ve been weeding and starting prep for the coming weeks. The top of the plot and the raspberries have been subjected to Ma’s attentions and are more or less weed free. I’ve weeded and mulched the blackcurrant and gooseberry bush at the bottom of the plot. I had decided to take them out but I’ll net them this year and see if they produce anything this year, I will probably end up moving or binning them next year but we’ll see. I’ve also weeded the other beds and planted some chives and borage on the herb patch.

The biggest change outdoors is that we’ve turned the U shaped bed into a rectangle and weeded and divided it into 6 squares. That will be the salad bed this year, I’ve moved some of the overwintered chard so that we have beetroot and chard patches.

Indoors, we’ve (Ma helped) sown the summer squash and cucumbers, all the remaining courgette seeds (seven) and 6 of the summer crookneck, pattypans and the three cucumbers (Boothby’s Blonde, Minature White and Wautoma). That’s thirty seven plants! Then we started on the tomatoes, eight each of the Orange Banana and then we ran out of room, so I finished with eight more Amish Paste tomatoes and 20 of the cherry tomatoes. If they all pop up this will be massively more than I need but I have a couple of people who will take the spares..I have had one failure or 100s of little failures depending on how the view it, all but four of the basil seedlings died. I had one good year with growing basil from seed about 20 years ago and no luck since. For this year, I’m going to buy supermarket basil, split it up and plant out later. It worked with the mint and honestly, I’m short on room and patience with it right now.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The sweet peas and leeks are doing ok. The sweet peas are a bit leggy but I’ve pinched them back and we’ll see how they go. With hindsight, I should have sowed the leeks in pots not a tray. I have rectified this by sowing some more in pots and we’ll see which ones do better. I have lots of leek seeds which is good thing, just in case I muck it up again.

The kale got leggy but seems to be sorting itself out, I’ve sowed another 4 pots because I want some of it for salad and some to go through the winter.

That’s it for indoor sowing until next month when I’ll start the winter squash off. Hopefully by that point, some of the other stuff will be outside because it’s getting crowded in my living room! Everything else, I’m sowing direct and I’ll start to do that at the end of the month, with the peas, carrots, beetroots and salad leaves. I’m really looking forward to eating salad again! (This is last year’s salad bed, which currently has onions in it, and it was amazingly productive)img_4518

In other news, the shed won’t get done until April, we have bought the base and will put that in when it arrives, but how we get the shed onto the plot is a problem. I’m beginning to think, I’ll have to have it delivered to the house and then walk it round in pieces, this is not ideal but tere is a limit to how much I can impose on other people who have busy lives and don’t know when they can help. We’ve marked the 22 April as the weekend we’d like to do it, I have the week after that off work, so I’ve got lots of time to work it out, although I do also really have to paint the bathroom and kitchen that week! My only goal really is to get it up before I hit my one year anniversary of having the plot, which is the 7 May.

 

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March Photos – Part One

Blistered. 27 February. The progress of the coffee burn. It was sore and I was a horrified because it seemed to get worse ever dayCommute and English weather. 27 February. Welcome to England, it would be nice if it didn’t live up to it’s reputation for rain…Daylight. 28 February. Leaving for work when there’s daylight does not suck!Spreading. 1 March. I was being melodramatic, but that blister was starting to spread some more and I was not convinced that it was a sign that it was getting better!Taxi in the rain. 3 March. More rain, but on a Friday, it’s easier to cope with.Finally. 3 March. At last the blister went down!Breakfast with Mother. 5 March. Sunday morning breakfast with my parent. Someone commented the other day that it must be nice to have such a close relationship with my Mum. It is.The Dishwater. 5 March. Because where there is my mother and gin, there are usually shenanigans..Monday Morning. 6 March. When blue sky starts the week.Clouds in the distance7 March. Tuesday morningTwilight. 7 March. On the way home, it was lighter than usual!Early train. 8 March. Sitting on the train wondering what the hell was going on. The train was early and empty. I couldn’t help thinking that I might have crossed to an alternate universe.

The nephews. 7 March. This from Ben. When I see the nephews nowadays, Oli treats me like his own personal horse. Joe treats Oli the same way and follows in his Grandad’s trouserless footsteps!

Gin is not the answer. 8 March. Gin is the question, the answer is yes.Meetings. 9 March. Gooseberry in leaf. 11 March. This makes me so happyRhubarb, rhubarb. 11 March. The plot. 11 March. It doesn’t look much different but we did a lot of work on Saturday.Birkenstock weather. 11 March. Bare feet weather, my favourite time of the year.Temptation. 11 March. For the record, I resisted.Tomato. 11 March. Orange Banana tomato seedlings.He loved us first. 11 March. Church. 11 March. The way home. 11 March. Something about the light.Last minute. 12 March. Baking for workSignal Failure. 13 March. Waiting over 30 minutes for a train is not the best way to start the week, at least it wasn’t raining..Breakfast. 13 March. I did eat an apple too for balance.

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Good/Bad

On Mondays, I used to do a recap of the previous week. I stopped because there were only so many ways I could say, ‘went to work, had a cold’. It got monotonous but I did like looking back on the week.

So I am shamelessly borrowing from Jenny at this tiny blue house and listing the highs and lows of last week.

Good

Lighter mornings and evenings. Leaving the house in the dark is not fun, so I’m relived that the days are getting longer and it’s light when I leave the house. Sometimes, it’s even sunny (but it’s England so not every day!)

The joys of a spreadsheet. I’ve been feeling a little bit financially stressed due to some unexpected, couldn’t be helped spending this week. Also the water bill came in and I’m still waiting to find out how much bigger the council tax bill will be this year. To top it off there was a pensions briefing at work. I was feeling quite disheartened by all this. But I updated the spreadsheet, looked at the numbers and feel better. I don’t feel richer but I do feel in control and knowing where you stand is half the battle!Working on the plot. Ma and I spent a couple of hours on the allotment on Saturday, the weather was amazing and we did some weeding and sorted out where various things are going. I sowed borage and coriander and chives. The raspberries, gooseberries, blackcurrant and plum are all in bud and got a thorough weed. It’s good to get back into it.

Bad

Losing my travelcard on Monday morning. Ok it was  the last week before it ran out and I was working from home on Friday but it was £30 that I’d rather have spent on something else. Also annoying, leaving the house at 7.30am on Monday morning and not getting to work until gone 9am, because of all the too-ing and fro-ing from the station.Sleep. This is something I’ve struggled with for years. I know and do all the things that promote good sleep hygiene but sometimes my body stops being able to sleep properly. I couldn’t tell you why, it just happens. The I’ve been doing all the right things but I’m not sleeping well this week. It might be time for a sleeping pill so I can get a straight 8 hours.Sunday Slump. I had a busy week and weekend, and by Sunday I was peopled out and blue. This is not a new feeling, I’m naturally a depressive person, and what works for my is  striking a balance between allowing myself to be a bit down and not giving entirely into it. So I didn’t see anyone on Sunday but I did sort my flat and self out so that I’m ready for the work week.

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Friday Links

Happy Friday!  I have a ridiculous amount of work to do today, but I’m working from home so I can also get some washing done, it truly is all about the little things this week!

Lovely idea but it still doesn’t tempt me to go to Liverpool. Sorry, not sorry…

I learned how to do math with the ancient abacus — and it changed my life. Notable for the phrase ‘numerical trepidations’, I recognise that state of being!

I am the rogue Chelsea supporter in my immediate family. The rest of them are QPR, this is very sad. An afternoon with Stan Bowles.

Food inflation doubles. I’ve noticed.

Holding Trump accountable.

The case for universal income.

How to retire successfully.

Jenni Murray has landed herself in the centre of it again. I understand what she’s saying. The thing is that gender and sex are complex issues. I’m all for people transitioning if it makes them happy. My experience, is that some transwomen, because they were socialised as boys, still expect their voices and their experiences to be the only ones that matter. I was furious a couple of years ago when there was a study about what we could learn from people who transitioned and one of the points was that women’s opinions, thoughts and ideas were ignored. Look I didn’t need someone who used to be a man to tell me that, I’ve lived it. This information was being presented as if it was a brand new concept and more valid because they used to be men. It’s male privilege.  Transwomen never had the boys at school pinging their bra straps, shouting them down in class . Never dealt with being considered less. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got about joining new groups was to sit back and listen, to understand a group before I leapt in with suggestions as to how to change things up. That and some understanding on both sides is needed.

Minimalism as a form of conspicous consumption.

Children and sleep disorders. Interesting, although some of it has to be about parenting!

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