Friday, 2 December 2011


Today's activity on the advent calendar was to go to the school fair. My eldest is in his last year at first school and one of the year 4 perks is to help in Santa's grotto. He dressed as an elf and this seemed to be more special to him than I imagined. He put his costume on very early today he actually came out of school wearing it. So he caused a stir when I quickly nipped into Morrisons.

As for his little brother he just enjoyed seeing Santa.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Advent has begun

With all its chocolate goodness and a full activity calendar.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Half term hopes

The weekend has passed in a flash, it is the weekend at the start of half term. My son has plans for his week, I suspect he wants to mooch in the park without me or flop in front of a wallpaper of cartoon network. He has a distinct lack of years to be a pre-teen but he is forging a moody sort of Independence already. For once I am off work and accompanying him for the week in its entirety. Although there is a day he will be doing football.

I have plans for my leave and some good activities up my sleeve. I'm expecting quality time.

He will have to join in to some extent. At the end of this week I want to have something to show for it, a cleaner more sorted house, some art work/photography completed, the allotment a little bit more spruced up and some good memories of fun. Hope to catch up with some old friends too, if not in person.

Might even carve a pumpkin in preparation for Halloween.

We are booked to do some Cambridge festival of ideas events. So hopefully when I review the week there will be lots to tell.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Snatched time

I really shouldn't be doing things this way but as ever the limited time of a weekend is significantly squeezed. It is not as if I want it to be this way I have to be and that is that. I'm lucky as I will shoe horn in some things I want to do over the next couple of weeks but that will rob me of gardening time I am sure. This weekend I visited the allotment and that was great but tinged with a little dissatisfaction. Taking a four year old so that John would get space to fix a light switch and put up a curtain rail was less appealing. You know you are not going to get much done before you started. Ho Hum.

Each week I think I might go down there after the school pick up one evening it is a bit of a pipe dream I fear.

At the allotment I realise that I have definitely grown the smallest squashes in the world. Then turban one was a reasonable size and that was the only one that made the grade. It's shape and strong colours are fantastic I can feel a little photography and even drawing coming on, if I get time. Oops I'm pushing the theme here.

Still I cleared the tomato plants and the recent warmth has rushed the fruit from green to red, so I had loads more tomatoes than I had banked upon. I have turned them into passata this evening. So this weeks menu might be tomato soup, meatballs with spag the rest can go in the freezer.

I did buy my little helper some chocolate on the way home, not for his help of course, but for his upbeat and positive attitude about going to the allotment. He was also amazed to see what happened to the tomatoes.

Sorry about the pics only the mobile to hand today.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Endings or beginings

A visit to the allotment today and the impending start of the school year gives me that feeling that the growing is over and it is time to start again and to look forward again to changes in the season. It is that time of year of slightly mellow regrets and thoughts of not letting it happen again next year, but I will. It is as inevitable as autumn following summer that I will repeat the similar planting blunders as before but there may be some lucky breaks as well.

Today, I harvested some tomatoes and beetroot and seed saved at the same time. I collected from the sweet peas and swiftly took a seed pod from someone elses Hollyhocks, it was Celia that put that thought in my head and I want those for the garden. Despite seed collecting I also did some some sowing today some japanese spinach which according to the packet you can grow all year round, I'm not sure what it will be like. I have also bought my over wintering onions today.

When I looked around the plot today I realised that I have a lot to do just to tread water. In my head though I am brewing a little dream of upgrading the storage box to a proper shed. Then wouldn't a little greenhouse be just nice too. Dream away.

Sunday, 21 August 2011


I think that I might be about to develop a new little obsession. I knew it was coming as the 'seeds' of it were sown in the spring when I visited Bridge end gardens in Saffron Walden and my eyes fell on this terracotta display. The sun was too bright to get any good photos, but I wanted to try again on another day as they were such little bright pots of joy. Then that idea got lost in the waves of life's busy bustle.

I felt it rekindle when I visited the Fitzwilliam Museum a few weeks back and I saw a small exhibition of flower drawings 'Redoute and his pupils'. The one that really sung out at me was a much larger than life picture of Auricula in an earthenware pot by Pancrace Bessa. I would like to photograph those I thought again.

This weekend we went away camping and stayed at Sandringham amongst the trees. We walked with the boys around the country park but did not venture into the really royal bits of the gardens and look at the house. I don't think the boys would tolerate it after the walk we had made they do. However I couldn't resist sticking my nose in the plant shop. Huh. I thought this looks like a lot of stuff that you can get in a garden centre. Then I noticed the boring looking green thing that was very specifically named by variety and I knew I was looking at a Auricula. I knew that I could only buy and transport one so I made a choice and it is now at home with me. It is 'Piers Telford orange and brown'.

If I don't kill it I am going to photograph it when it flowers next year. I might need to check out some care instructions to help with this. If they are fun and not too difficult to grow then I am likely to add to my modest collection of one.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

short sweetcorn

Every year we grow sweetcorn. We have never managed the success of our first year. They are not even a foot tall and they are already flowering at the top. It is probably because they have been too dry see those crispy leaves above. The weeds are lapping at their roots, I planted squash to spread beneath the sweetcorn and suppress the weeds but their growth hasn't been too vigorous either. Never mind there is always next year. Its that phase of the gardening year now the regretful one if only I could have got down their and watered more often......dream.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Huw's flowers

Of my two boys Huw the youngest seems to have the most interest in helping in the garden. He always asks to help with the watering and he asks to go to the allotment, I'm not daft I know that the interest will wane. He came home from nursery a couple of months ago clutching a packet of seeds he had been given. we planted them and they grew he is now happy because they have started to flower in lots of orangey and peachy colours. You have got to love nasturtiums for their simple, effective and reliable performance.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Just a quick update

It was commented to me in person this week that I hadn't blogged for a while.

It makes me think about why. I have not really felt that I had much to say, or perhaps it is that things have been moving on so quickly I have let blogging about it pass me by.

I do have lots to say in that the lotty is the best it has looked in ages.(no letter yet!) That is until this last couple of weeks when the drought stopped and the weeds got a drink and went wild. I think a week of endless weeding and a strimming session will get us back on track. I only have a few more things to put out fennel and celeriac. I also plan to sow some last min crops of peas and soya beans and squeeze some rocket in some where I think.

I'm starting to imagine eating my produce already as things are growing reasonably well. But I know where that has got me before, there is still the chance of disaster yet. My spinach has gone to seed overnight, but I'll just plant another row.

We have had a bumper crop of great strawberries that I picked last monday and there are more coming so I feel it is possibly jam time. Last tuesday was my favourite session at gardening club, we harvested the potatoes from the bags. Its my third year of this session and the look on the kids faces are just priceless even the ones that have seen it before.Rudolf was a surprise with its red skins for some of them. My spuds at the lotty have just flowered I can't wait to see what is hiding beneath after their frost damage earlier in the spring.

I've been busy with the boys, football tournaments, photography things and a bit of art 'me' time as well as all the usual work and home things. It doesn't look like it is going to let up any time soon, but maybe I can squeeze a post in more regularly. Excuse the mobile phone shots again, but this wasn't a planned post.

Monday, 16 May 2011


I have a bit of a problem. My storage box at the allotment is now padlocked shut. How can I be such an idiot?

This is how it goes, for more than two years I had a lock with a key. The lock recently started to get very stiff and I was scared that I would not be able to unlock it. So I took the lock off. Then I visited the allotment after the bank holiday to notice that a window I had been saving for a cold frame had been taken. I was pretty certain that somebody had also opened the storage box, nothing was missing but I was a little unsettled.

I went out and bought a new combination lock, set it, put it on, opened it a couple of test times all is well. I visited the lotty on Sunday no problems. Locked it back up and had a little struggle with the lock but all seemed well. Entered the code today which I could happily tell you now for all the good it is, and nothing happened.

I think when I struggled with the lock I accidently must have reset the combination and now I have no idea what it is. Hacksaw time I think.

Oh and my picture of a lock is beautifully saturated with rain something I am worried that I will never see again.

Monday, 11 April 2011

When madness takes hold

Occasionally I find my self in crazy scrapes of my own making. I picked Owen up from football and without consideration for what was in the car (car seats, toddler bike, stroller and camera tripod at a glance, oh and now two just purchased bags of groceries). I decided to just pop in to Wickes next door from the supermarket and buy that wheelbarrow I've had my eye on. When I looked at it a week or so ago I thought there would be no problem getting it home. Now that the wheelbarrow was along side my car I was not sure. Owen had a look of concern. Even he could see my ancient clio dustbin might not be up to this.

I made an attempt to get it in and panic began to rise. No go!

I thought I'm going to have to make a phone call and he is going to kill me, I can't do that. By now the eyes that were watching me from halfords forced me to make a very special move just for the CCTV. Yes, I sent Owen scuttling over to a quiet it of the car park with the wheelbarrow, then moved the car.

After 10 minutes of unobserved cursing and jiggling I got it in the car over the back seats, yes it is a two door car, and with our seats slightly more forward than normal we drove home.

Thankfully, I did manage to get it out again and it is sitting in my garden. Just remind me to think about my garden purchases a little more before I purchase them in the future. Oh and my new mantra is "my car is not a van".

(sorry for the mobile phone pics but that was all I could manage)

Tuesday, 5 April 2011


As you may have noticed I have been very very quiet on here. I have been so busy though. I think the allotment is ahead of this point last year (but I have been too scared to check back and see what the blog says). My spuds are in the ground. I have seeds sprouting everywhere. My aim is to avoid a dreaded allotment letter this year

I am already eating some purple sprouting broccoli and plan to have rhubarb crumble this weekend.

The problem with spring it is over in a blink of an eye so I have also been enjoying its distracting beauty with my camera.

There is so much going on with family life too which will keep me busy for the foreseeable future, but if anyone wants to help let me know. As I don't think the home salad beds are going to be up and running soon and I am cultivating a back garden of thistles again. Never mind eh, its always swings and roundabouts.

Sunday, 13 February 2011


There are definitely some huge signs of spring happening and I know that I must not get too over excited. I keep noticing how light it is in the early evenings. Little green shoots are appearing. Yesterday was one of those bright days and we took the chance to visit Bennington Lordship gardens a place that I wanted to go to for a long time. It is only open for a few weekends throughout the year, and February for the snowdrops is one of its main times. There were lots of people there photographing the snowdrops and walking the grounds. I was unable to resist the temptation to get out my quirky camera, and caused the usual amount of curiosity with it. I didn't get the best results with it the flare of the sun on the glass but for me it captured the joy of the early spring sunshine.

Lets hope spring is on the way and there is no late snow.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

It was that sunday again

Seedy Sunday is one of those things that is becoming a fixture on my January calendar. I often carefully engineer a reason to go to Cambridge and stop off at Trumpington for the seed swap. This time it seemed so busy, it is definitely getting bigger every year.
So what did I swap for? I only took some sunflower seeds for the boys to grow and some blue climbing beans. Both of which looked like they had been saved by someone.

I also donated a small amount of money to the Heritage Seed Library for some 'Majorcan' pea bean seeds, and some 'white serpent' squash.

I didn't just get seeds from the visit but surprisingly for a seed swap I got a plant. I left clutching a Jostaberry, I think it will make a good addition for the allotment.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Parsnips and plans

Well the sun shone today and I made my first trip of the year to the allotment. I was decked out in my new wellies a little pre-Christmas treat to myself after my last pair sprung a leak. Perhaps 2011 will be more allotment chic than last year.

I did some digging and some tidying and had a good think about how I wanted the growing year to be. I harvested some parsnips, my first, I wanted them for Christmas but they were frozen solid. We ate them this evening and they can only be described as totally lush.

In the sunshine as I commenced working I felt again that feeling the one which reminds me why I have and love the allotment. The smell of fresh air and damp earth. The peacefulness and the possibilities. I hope to keep this liberated feeling and not fall under the chore thumb. Or the heavy hand of the allotment police.

I now have a huge task list from my little look around. I will need to put it in an order and allocate some tasks to someone although the dreaded digging will have to be avoided for him.

I also feel I might spend a little money down at the patch this spring too. Plans way hey.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Avoiding the new

Its the New Year.So I should be pushing ahead, forging the shape of the new year. Everyone else seems to be urging others to take part in new projects make their resolutions.

I can't seem to get into the swing of it. I might do some new projects but I will start them later in the year I think.

As for the allotment I can only resolve to have a better year than last. I will work harder at it. I will get some manure down soon. Fingers crossed that Sunday is a little drier and even a little warmer then I can make a start with a full assessment of the plot and one long to do list.

At home I will get the two small raised beds made and up and running for lettuce etc.

I also should resolve to not start my seeds off so early with over excitement at the first signs of spring.

I couldn't boil things down to a word theme for the year, but came up with these two words to focus my year "space and place" I'm hoping that by thinking about these things I will get some order to 2011.

Happy New year everybody. x.