Sunday Music: Son’s Gonna Rise – Citizen Cope

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Friday Links:

Happy Friday! It’s been a week, so I thought all would all be cheered up by this picture of Barney. He’s my brother’s dog and he’s A Very Good Boy!

Last week completely got away from me, so you have a week of double links…

The prince, his valet and a Saudi billionaire: meritocracy in action

The Tories are in revolt about social care – and Boris Johnson’s ‘clear plan’ won’t work

Three becomes latest mobile firm to bring back roaming charges. Don’t trust corporations to do good things, they need legislation. 

Earth’s tipping points could be closer than we think. Our current plans won’t work

Making workers foot the bill for social care and pensions is deeply unfair

Tory MPs call it reform, but the elections bill looks more like a heist

Lockdown has made UK families reconsider the cost of childcare – and they’re furious

Reshuffle reveals the shallowness of the Tory gene pool of talent

Boris Johnson is stealing Labour’s clothes? He’ll sell you a bridge too

The classic recipe I can never get right. This used to be me, the secret is to show it no fear and I get it right 90% of the time nowadays. I did find that changing to whole milk helped a lot in my hit rate. For the thing I really have never mastered, step up Key Lime Pie,  Jo has mercifully stopped sending me recipes for it but maybe it’s time to try again.

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Allotment Adventures: September

This time of year is tricky. Summer isn’t precisely over yet, if you have tomatoes unblighted, they are probably producing, the summer squash isn’t over quite yet and there is kale, chard and raspberries starting to ramp up production.

Last week we had amazing summer like weather and the cucumbers and squash rewarded us with production (seven cukes, six straightnecks and two round courgettes). There were a handful of beans and the last of one carrot bed. I had a tidy up of the kale bed, so we had about 800 grams of that.

The jasmine is settling nicely

After some produce collection, Ma and I got the nets on the cauliflower and kale raised as they were in danger of being cramped!

more breathing room

Then we spent some time on tidy up. Weeding and clearing some of the self seeded area. As I said September is tricky, things are slowing down, having done an entire summer of gardening, there are new ideas about how to change the garden for next year. We always do the major changes in winter but we can’t start quite yet.

Our working plan is that sometime after our holiday, my lovely friends will come and help me sort out building a polytunnel. After that, we’ll start moving some plants and building six new beds plus another in the poly.

We’ll also need to harvest sweet potatoes and winter squash, and plant onions and garlic and sow broad beans and maybe winter peas. There is always something to do. But we can’t do any of it yet.

So I guess it’s just time to enjoy the garden and weed!

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Monday Miscellany: Partied Out

Happy Monday!

Park view on my commute

Last week was extremely social for me, I’m for sure going to spend some time this week alone and not talking to anyone because I’m feeling slightly crazed…

Part of that is because of the ongoing new neighbours shenanigans, on Friday I had to go next door and point out that they really can’t be knocking a fire place out on a party wall without a party wall agreement and then frantically contacting my landlord and the landlord for downstairs (they used to be my neighbours so they are friends too) so we could get it sorted out. The roof and chimney next door are not in a great state so knocking out a load bearing wall is not very safe and I’m allergic to the idea of it falling on my head or losing my living room wall because of cowboy builders! While I was at it, I also had a talk to downstairs about the ongoing situation with the bins. I hate to do it but its the tiny, little things that make for bad neighbour relations and maggots in rubbish bins, rubbish in recycling bins, leaving things out for foxes to get and using all the bins so I can’t put the one bag of rubbish I generate every two weeks out are things that seem minor but really get to you (or maybe just me!).

I’m sure that it’ll all sort itself out and be fine but I don’t like having to be the person to pull people up, moving and new houses are stressful enough but I have to live here too and it all felt exhausting.

Drinks with a view

I’m really feeling the ‘back to school’ vibe at the moment, more people are coming into the office and on Thursday after work we went for drinks. It feels like we are all being cautiously optimistic, although I just got the notice for my flu jab and Ma has hers booked so we’re not being stupid but things do feel more normal.

Last week was also the momentous occasion of the youngest nephew turning six. We went up on Saturday for dinner and then for the birthday party on Sunday. Which was all fun, six is the age you wear your football kit to your birthday party!

He’s a QPR supporter, I still love him

I spend Friday afternoon with a friend and then with her and her kids, which is adding to my ‘things might be getting to the new normal’ vibe too.

This week is slightly less mad, I’m in the office a couple of days and seeing Sue for a walk today, I have some solo allotment time as Ma isn’t here this weekend and I’m going to see Christelle and Mike on Saturday via Ma’s (just because she’s not on the plot, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t get a share of the bounty!)

Overall, it’s a bedding in week, house tidy, bedtimes and generally ensuring that I have some control over what’s happening. We’ll see how that works out!

Have a good week.

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Recommended: Seep

As part of my climate conscious, use less plastic drive, I needed to address the problem of washing up sponges.

Loofah side

Once I’d used up the ones I had already bought, I tried some silicone ones but they were worse than useless and it was an effort to use them to destruction but I did it and then went to these.

They are quite stiff to start with, but are much nicer to use than the silicone things, the scrubby side works ok and can be used on non-stick, I just use a metal scourer  for things that need more scrubbing, which I was doing anyway. The best bit is that when I’m finished with them, I can cut them up and put them in the bokashi. 

Sponge side

The only thing that’s bad about them is the cost, 12 sponges cost £25 (I got 5% off and delivery was free, so £22.50).  Plastic sponges in Wilko are £1 for 20. I know that money is an issue for most people and I’m extremely privileged to be able to buy the expensive washing up sponges/scourers but I’ve been saying it most of the year but things that are bad for the planet need to be taxed more heavily and the planet friendly alternatives need tax breaks so buying them is easier. If we are serious about climate change, we have to be serious about it and governments need to start putting their money where their mouths are. In the meantime, if you can afford it, these will at least stop some plastic consumption.

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Allotment Adventures: Harvesting

We didn’t do much this week, I was tired and needed to shop.

So we came and watered (which was a mission in and of itself) and harvested.

The beans and cukes are winding down but the summer squash is on a mission.

There are some parts of the plot that are looking wild.


Because it’s been hot this week, yeah, September so far has been warmer than all of August, I went to water again this morning. And there were another 4 straightneck squash (it’s really living up to the prolific part of early prolific straightneck!) and another courgette. Also 4 strawberries!

The roses are having a second wind as well, I have no idea what they are but they sure are pretty. We call the red one, Iris, after my Grandma because it’s just so in your face!

We’re in a nice space at the moment with the production winding down a bit, everything is in for winter and it’s really just maintenance until things really slow down and we can start moving and building things for next year.

Usually I’m anxious to start but this year I just want to enjoy it.

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Time for some goals

Last week, I finally reached my limit with the effects of peri menopause and got a prescription for HRT (and if anyone like would like to hear me rant about how annoyed I was to discover that one month is counted as two prescriptions so double the cost, I can do that too – it’s really no wonder that women my age are full of rage!). At the time of writing I have no idea how that’s going in pan out but I did have a bit of a wobble over my blood pressure, which is higher than the guidelines would like. All the advice was the standard diet (lose weight, drink less caffeine and alcohol), exercise (do more of it) and sleep (sleep more!).

In thinking about taking some action on this, this time of year is that I start to implement some stricter routines to help me when autumn/winter descends and my SAD kicks in. I’m not good in darker months of the year. Also, while know that the pandemic isn’t over, I’m going to be going into the office at least 2/3 days a week so it’s time to set some goals.

So first up what I’m not going to do, which is go on a diet. I don’t like them, they don’t work long term and they make me neurotic.  What I am going to do is get back to better habits and rather than set them for the month, this is what I want to commit to from now until December.

  • Golden Hour – Sunday to Thursday no screens from 9pm, tidy flat, everything ready for the next day, bath before bed. Which leads to:
  • Yoga – 10 minutes before bed, which should help me wind down and get better sleep
  • Bedtimes – Sunday to Thursday 10pm.
  • Exercise – more walking, to get back to a consistence 70,000 steps a week and two body balance a week at home.
  • Coffee. I only drink coffee in the morning but I have been using the litre size cafetiere, so it’s time to downsize to the small one Monday to Thursday. On Saturdays, I share (where share means drink quickly or there won’t be any left!) with Ma and I can have a big pot of coffee to myself on Sundays, I’m home.
  • Alcohol. No more than two days a week.
  • Diet. I’m already a weekday vegetarian. But I do need to watch is my cheese intake (cheese is lovely) so I’m going to try and make a couple of vegan meals a week. I’m also implementing a no junk food that I didn’t make myself. I define junk food as crisps and cake and biscuits. So if I want them I have to make them. I’m quite lazy so what are the chances of me eating that much cake?

Realistically, I’m not going to be perfect on this, but 80% of the time, this is where I want to be. Let’s see how it goes.

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Monday Miscellany: September

Happy Monday!

Last  week was tiring for lots of reasons.

There is the ongoing trash fire that is the world right now. The Texas abortion law and the Supreme Court just refusing to do anything about it, the sorry state of the government in this country, the entire world’s inability to do anything about climate change. Things are heavy.

Then there is the sheer exhaustion that three days straight in the office brings nowadays and trying to cram five days work into four. I was not prepared for how absolutely exhausted I would feel by Thursday. Yes, the 6am (and darker) mornings were difficult but I think it’s also having to interact with people. Up until this week, days in the office have been more efficient than working at home, it’s been quiet and I have better tech and less distractions, but with a lot more of the team in the office, there has been more chatting and catching up which has been great but has led to more ‘asks’ from the team and we are in a brand new building, so I’m having to learn how to do something before I can do it. Don’t get me wrong all of this is good but I’m still an introvert and it’s still exhausting especially as I’m out of practice!

I also spent a fair amount of the week at the doctor’s, I’d had a phone appointment on Friday and needed to go in to have height, weight and blood pressure measured before I can get my prescription. Middle age and perimenopause are bad enough but now I have a small issue with my blood pressure, the nurse said I was at the top of the ok range but I need to work on lowering it. They didn’t tell me what I needed to do but a quick google said the, usual, weight, exercise, diet and sleep, so goals for September have been made for the first time since lockdown, more on those tomorrow.

So most of the week was caught up in, work and doctor’s appointments for issues caused by middle age and two sets of new neighbours (it’s not going well with either set – and yes I know I’m the common denominator but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to object to maggots in my rubbish bin which they shouldn’t be using or DIY after 9pm and all bloody weekend!).

There was other good stuff, a Friday haircut, buying birthday presents for nephew, a good work appraisal but it’s Monday and I’m not feeling quite as refreshed as I could be.

This week’s plans aren’t terribly exciting, work, house, singing Happy Birthday to the smallest nephew who’s turning six on Wednesday. We’re going up on Saturday so we get to spend some time with them before the chaos of the party is on Sunday! We’re also about to get some summer weather, so I’ll need to up the watering at the plot. It really is all go here…

Have a good week.

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Friday Links:

Happy Friday!

Why soil is one of the most amazing things on Earth. This is so good and why I’m trying so hard with no dig and building the soil.

The rise of period pants: are they the answer to menstrual landfill – and women’s prayers?

We can’t build our way out of the environmental crisis

The chronic stress survival guide: how to live with the anxiety and grief you can’t escape

Guest Workers on North Carolina’s Tobacco Farms Are Fighting a ‘Green Monster’. Another reason to give up smoking…

US supreme court refuses to block radical Texas abortion law. The Democrats are going to have to do something about this, the Supreme Court is going to overturn Roe vs Wade and the GOP are going to keep pushing the limits.

August’s jump in house prices is further proof stamp duty holiday was a mistake. And some very pertinent points about big four auditing and diversity at the Bank of England

Gareth Southgate says England must look at themselves before judging other countries’ behaviour. Gareth Southgate should probably be Prime Minister

Empty shelves are the only way Britain’s underpaid workers can grab national attention

Raab’s Afghan debacle is turning into a competence issue for the whole government. They’re not competent, they’ve never been competent. Competence runs when it sees them coming.

This is fascinating.

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Preserving the Plot: Quick Pickles

It took an age to get any cucumbers but we’ve had 22 in two weeks! I love cucumbers, but this is a lot, my sister in law is having the same issue, my brother says they are eating them in everything, putting them on their eyes in the morning and I know the feeling…

I decided to make some pickles. These are Smitten Kitchen’s Easiest Fridge Dill Pickles. I didn’t have a big enough jar, this did two of my cucumbers. They’re good and I will be probably making another batch before the weekend.

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