Sunday, 19 October 2014

Sharks and mushrooms

Weekends are so cluttered at the moment, they whizz by and nothing really seems to move forward. I have to weave some fun things into the mix or I couldn't step on to the weekly merry-go-round again. But boy is it getting harder to squeeze some joy in.

This weekend we have had to complete the shark 3D model a homework for the 7 year old and for me it seems. If you are the parent of school age children my best parenting tip (I don't have many to offer) is to invest in a hot glue gun. It pretty much sticks anything together, and is especially good for modelling cardboard. The shark fins are attached this way to his papermache body, and my child is wonderfully impressed. I don't really have time for such imposed crafting mixed with all the other things I want to do with the kids but hey ho, you just have to embrace it.

Today the youngest and myself dropped going to rugby, for a long anticipated fungi foray. I have never done this before and did an organised event with the Herts wildlife trust at Mardley Heath, I can recommend it. We found so much and the people on the walk were so friendly and kind to Huw the only child on the event.

When Huw left nursery he was given a Fungi spotters book because he often found mushrooms when out on a walk and it is a love that has stuck so far.

I was amazed by the variety that we found (above is just one basket of the group) and the knowledge of people in the group was excellent. We even had a smell of a sulpher knight.

Here are some of my favourite pics of the day:

Glistening inkcap (possibly)

 Amethyst Deceiver

Jelly Ear

Huw learnt today that mushrooms had gills and he also painted gills on to his shark model, a weirdly well tied in range of activities for the day.

Thursday, 24 July 2014


I have been watching in the hive on the bbc and I have to say I have learned loads about bees. I really enjoyed the filming of their flight and coming in to land.

So this week when I had 5 mins at Wimpole Hall amongst the border plants of the walled garden I tried to photograph bees. I was using a lensbaby so the image would have a very shallow depth of field and that is where the difficulty starts. It was breezy. The plants and bees rocked in and out of focus. I had lots of bits of bees on images. The bees themselves move fast as they go about their work. 

I like the image above due to the back lighting but it will not do as the wings are out of focus. It's proboscis (?!) seems to glow amber.

Frankly, my chance of a last minute entry into the country file calendar competition have been dashed.

I will however, try this again on a still day.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

It is all change

I have kept it under my hat for a week or so in case I broke my good luck.

I had considered giving up the plot and was on the edge of being drummed out of the allotment club with such a unkempt plot. It is the case that plot 16C is no longer mine, and that is the end of an era. It has been an era that I have loved at times but it has been an era that has had a lot of growing lows too. I have found it hard to manage recently and I thought I would have more time as the kids grow older. The truth is they are becoming more work and the weekends are filled with lots of their activities.

However, I have been given a swap with another plot holder and I am down sizing to 2 and a half poles which to me is a far more manageable prospect.

So plot 2D2 here we go.
I am so excited.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

wire birds

Sometimes you just see something that you know you need to try to do, around the end of last year I saw a magazine with a robin on it made of paper. On reading I realised that it had a wire body inside. I did not buy the magazine when I saw it. However it created such an itch in my head that I had to scratch it.  Then I couldn't find the magazine again the itch became irritating but I managed to track down an online edition for my phone.

I'm not sure that I like reading such magazines on the small screen of my phone but that is all I have got (avoiding tablets at the moment)

Having read the article I have not returned to read the instructions since. I then struggled with should I try to do a real or a more imaginary bird. So I gave in an decided to just go with the flow.

I made 2 linked balls of florist wire. I am not sure how sturdy they are, may be I should have packed the wire tighter. I then did two legs as per the instructions and twisted them into the body ball of wire.

Covering the bird with paper is very self explanatory. I used the pages of an particular shop's home catalogue with its good quality non shiny paper. It was the wings that I found unclear from the instructions so I just went my own way and I am reasonably pleased with the results. The question now is weather to put some beads as eyes or not. Not sure if I will make any more of these though we will have to see, the itch may have been scratched.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

It's been years since I had my hand stamped

Today I went to Seedy Sunday in Trumpington and they stamped my hand on entry, last time that happened I think I was going into a night club in my late teens. It was busy with lots of people but there was no dancing that I noted.

I swapped some seeds for the following:
Some Hokkaido pumpkin seeds.
Allium seeds they were in the flower section really hoping that they will be interesting. 
Plus,some oxalis tuberosa tubers which were in the flower section, but these actually turn out to be some sort of yam. Not what I expected and I am not sure about them, but I might just bung them into the soil at the lotty and see what happens. Any info would be gratefully received.

The Trumpington allotment group (not my allotment group) were selling seeds, I had a recommendation to try the Cherokee trail of tears climbing beans, so I got some of those.

I donated a small amount to the heritage seed library for some broad beans 'Gloucester Champion' and 'Mrs Lewis' purple podded climbing French beans. I hope to sow the broad beans soon. It will give me a succession crop from my autumn sown ones that are doing well at the moment.

I also bought some Thomas Etty seeds; Turk's Tuban squash which I have grown before and a lettuce called 'drunken woman'. How could I resist a name like that during my 'dry' January attempt?

I have sorted through my seeds and have placed everything I hope to grow this year in a tin grouped into months, the sub dividers are plastic bags as its a chocolate tin not a bespoke seed tin. All the squashes are grouped together for indoor sowing. I am going to try to sow direct mostly this year. I need to resist the temptation to sow too early so I am ignoring you all went you say that you have sown already etc.

The only seeds I think I still need to buy are parsnips as you need them fresh. I also fancy some sunflowers but in pastel shades but I don't need those really. If I continue with the idea to turn some of the plot over to cutting flowers I need to put my mind to what I want.

I am still uncertain as to whether to grow potatoes this year if I do it will be a last minute thing.

If you want to go to seedy Sunday next year at Trumpington it is on the 25th January 2015.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

The first visit of the year

I haven't been to the allotment for a while, December is a difficult month with all the build up to Christmas mostly related to the kids social lives. There is no time at all.

Wasn't too sure what was going to greet me today, the weather has been mild and weeds could be growing wildly, there is also the thought of a swimming swampland exisiting and I always fear vandals and thieves have visited me. I was pleasantly surprised. I need to hoe some of the small weeds in places and know which areas need to be dug again soon, I think I can have it looking presentable if I put the effort now; weather permitting. So it is cardboard and manure sourcing in the next few weeks. While the brambles have died back a bit, it is time to attack.

The wind has blown down the fruit cage poles and Huw's play house. Easily fixed I think, other people on the site lost their shed roofs.

My broad beans are up and looking good. The garlic and onions are holding up well. Thank goodness for my autumnal efforts I think they will pay off well.

I am amazed by my wallflowers they seem to have bounded forward (need to hoe here!) . I so hope to plant other flowers at the front of the plot this year as my cutting garden area.

My first produce is likely to be this broccoli - how exciting and the label said harvest from February, it is on track for that.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014


Happy New Year everyone.

It is time to look back at a year and hopefully towards another year.

There are many things that I have wished were different in 2013 but I cannot change that. I wished it had been slower but how can you do that with out the power to control time itself. I did some great stuff which I never blogged about, often because the moment had past or I was a little too shy to share, artwork etc. That was one of my big frustrations with the year. 

I hope to change that in 2014, just to blog a little more. If I go to some good events or workshops then I will push myself to post about them.

Rather than have restrictive resolutions of restraint I'm going for things I would like to do in 2014.

  • I would like to make my own frocks and thought it would be nice to have 5 for the summer. It means dusting off and servicing a old electric sewing machine and may be a tall order so 1 dress would be good.
  • I would like to try time lapse photography.
  • To grow some flowers at the allotment so I can have cut flowers indoors.
We can measure success at the end of the year but if I don't achieve it and have done other things then that will be fine too. However, all I need to do over the next few days is get a visit in to the allotment, fingers crossed that it is both dry and light when I have some time to do this. Must pay the allotment rent too.