Thursday, 25 May 2017


As predicted, yesterday was a very busy day but also a most satisfying day.  I did my governer's thingies, wrote my reports and sent them off (I hate to leave them hanging around), I went to the garden centre, finished off the raised beds in the allotment, did my tutorial and got to the governors' meeting in time.  Phew.

I was given a very lovely bunch of flowers from one of my students whose tuition has now stopped because mission accomplished.

I took on a bit more responsibility at the governors' meeting but I'm really glad to be able to pay back.  The school has been so good to me over the decades.  This responsibility is in my special interest area so great.

During the day a parcel arrived.  Helpful steps under the arbour to give a comfortable resting place for shorter legs.

After a visit from some nice mending men, my French window latch is no longer stiff and the shed catch is on the mend.  It's an outside job so they can finish it off any time.

A very good day, all in all.  Lots achieved.

Today was supposed to be easier but now I have allotment, two meetings and two lots of tuition.  I will go to the allotment early so I'm going to get myself sorted out now at 5:30, and then finish off the tuition planning.  Have a great day, everyone.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017


What a glorious morning it is.  A bright, blue sky, warming up, birds singing their hearts out.  Really lovely and I hope it stays like this.  Yesterday it clouded over a bit midday but brightened up come the evening.

Well, yesterday went really well.  I did some allotmenting.  The hoe is the most important tool right now as the weeds fight back, but I have no mercy!  The two types of peas are doing really well, we have more French beans (although I did hoe the head off one - ooops) and, after a slow and late start, the potatoes have also decided to show themselves in greater quantities.  The grass got a mow but I forgot to take the strimmer so I will have to do the edges later.  Perhaps I can go down at some point this afternoon.  On Monday, Beth virtually finished the strip for the bins so I got that completed and moved some soil back into the raised beds.
A quick snap Beth took on Monday.  The gap in the chippings is now filled and there's soil in the two raised beds.

One of those beds is going to be for guinea pig food.  Seriously.  Well, partly.  A little friend has a guinea pig and she might come along and 'help' by growing some chard and kale in one of the beds, the young, tender leaves for us and the older leaves for the guinea pig.  We might also put in some spinach as so many recipes ask for a handful of spinach nowadays and it's not cheap!  We're thinking about carrots in the other bed as it's not too late, or maybe leeks which we have just sowed (or is it 'sown'?).

The blue and black mess is the portion we still have to fork over and clear.  We WILL get there!

Once home, I brought in the washing and then did some being lazy until some folk came round and after that it was time to start dinner and watch my round of early evening telly - Pointless, Debatable, Eggheads and Great British Menu.

Today is busy, busy, busy.  In school for a concert, then a meeting with a coordinator, then off to Wyvale for some more potting compost, maybe allotment to do the edges, then tuition x 2, then a governors' meeting.  I shall eat late this evening!

Have a lovely day and I hope you have the opportunity to enjoy the lovely weather.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017


Good morning, everyone.  Yesterday was a lovely day, weather wise, and today looks like being another lovely one today.  I already have one load of washing out on the line (done overnight) and another load is just finishing and will go out soon.  Ironing later on, anyone?

Yesterday I drove home after a splendid weekend with my parents.  It was a most pleasant drive, mostly cross country on Monday morning roads that were fairly clear and always fast moving, apart from the occasional learner driver.

I stopped off at Aldi on the way to pick up a few bits and bobs and also at a garden centre I haven't been to before where I found some most attractive strawberry plants that are supposed to be long fruiting.  I got three and we will see, won't we?

Once home, I did the necessary and then whizzed off to school early so I could get what I always do on Monday done before the concert, which was so good.  It's fantastic how many young musicians we have at school and there was such a variety - singing, choir, piano, percussion, Djembe (our drum group), violins, flute, guitars . . . and the look of concentration and focus on their little faces as they performed brought tears to my eyes.  I know that a lot of schools have dropped many of the arts in favour of maths and English but I am so proud that our school still has a strong focus on the arts, not just music, as well as a strong academic showing.

I had a nice, restful evening and managed to snap a lovely sunset just before I went to bed.  Pink and pretty!

Today is less scheduled but should be busy anyway.  Allotment first, then tuition planning and late afternoon I have someone coming about tuition for their child.
It should be very pleasant and satisfying.

Monday, 22 May 2017


I shall be back home soon after a weekend away and, as I forgot to take my camera, for once there are no photos!

It's been a lovely weekend, full of little, happy things like visiting a new garden centre (new to me, I mean), lots of reading, a paper every day, cooking meals for my parents (I love doing that), exploring their lovely garden, and so on.

Today is a busy day with plenty going on, so it should keep me out of trouble.  Helping out in FS, a concert in school and, of course, a garden to check over.

And I wonder if the runner beans have started coming up yet . . .

Sunday, 21 May 2017


Just a quick post today.

Yesterday was a very pleasant day, despite the heavy showers that fell now and again.  Very April-y. I popped off to Tescos and came back with some cooking bacon!  That's about the height of my exciting life yesterday.

I think I'm off to a garden centre today which might be nice and I have been thinking of ideas for my garden.  More about that another time, if they come to anything more than just a thought.

Have a lovely Sunday, everyone.

Saturday, 20 May 2017


What a gorgeously sunny morning it is out there.  It certainly makes a change from yesterday which was drizzly and cold (for the time of the year) all day, only brightening up come the evening.

We didn't go to the allotment, it was just too wet and neither of us fancied having to have a shower and change of clothes before facing the rest of the day, so Beth came round to mine and we did a bit of seed/plantlet stuff.  I potted on my little surprise tomatoes which are healthy enough but still tiny.  The ones I gave Dad are a bit bigger than mine due to being kept in a greenhouse, but are still pretty small so I guess that's true to type!  They will shoot up when we get consistent warmth and sunshine, I am sure.  Beth sowed leek and kale seeds.  Then we discussed future plans yet again, including what to do with the growing space over winter.

I popped off the the Craft Centre but it was damp and gloomy and a shop I was looking forward to going in (food, eggs, etc) has closed down and is now a junk shop.  I was tempted by some fabrics as I want to make cushions for the arbour, but wasn't sure enough of the match to get anything.

Dinner out was nice; I had nachos but couldn't finish the load they gave me.  I wish more places did smaller plate meals like the Hare (this wasn't the Hare) as I hate wasting food but rarely manage to finish the larger portions.

I forgot to mention the other day - my friend, Jackie, and I putour heads together and have some entertainment booked for the rest of the year.  Three shows in town and a number of coach outings including one that's a tour of the Suffolk coast finishing off with fish and chips by the sea.  I haven't had seaside fish and chips for the longest time - it seems to taste so much better eaten beside the sea.

Time for coffee, I think.  I hope your day is great and the weather stays fine and warm for us all.

Friday, 19 May 2017


Good morning, everyone.  Welcome to Friday.  Dull, damp, a bit discouraging but, dear me, it was only last week that I was whinging about how dry and parched everything was looking.  Now, everything has perked up and is looking so, so green; it is lovely.

Yesterday started off quite pleasant.  Some sunshine and warmth made the allotment work a pleasure.  It didn't look as if we had done much but we had.  The strip for covering where the bins will go is now flat and raked (and looks too good to cover, but never mind, that can't be helped, and along one end, going right across, we have replaced the long plank - are they called 'sleepers' which took quite a while as we had to clear weeds from one section and there were so many roots to try and get out.  I also did a reccy of the front and dug up more elder that persists in trying to reconquer.  It won't win, I am determined.

The french beans are not showing any signs of emergence yet but the mange tout and sugar snaps have more than made up for that, popping up almost as you watch.  The rhubarb loves the wet weather and has stopped trying to go to seed and the potatoes are also popping up.  We're not hoeing at the moment because it's hard to tell what's little potato leaves and what's weed leaves.  They will get their come uppance in a few week's time, when we can tell the difference more clearly!

So, what's next.  Well, we have to cover and chip the side strip and move the bins onto it.  Then we have to sort out the wood into raised bed sides and not.  The 'not' is being snapped up by a friend of Beth's for her wood burner, which is great - no waste.  Then we need to fork up and weed the bigger middle area before creating an access path between that and the rhubarb and dividing what's left with another sleeper.  Then the heavy stuff is all done and it will be a case of nurturing, weeding, planting and so on.

Sadly, those late frosts have had an impact on our little fruit trees.  There doesn't seem to be a single baby plum left although the the pear is fine, as is one of the apple trees.  The redlove also seems to have suffered a bit.  We're considering fleece for next year but maybe they just have to take their chances.

Then it was home to do some housework, such as getting the washing out, etc, before having lunch.  I was sitting in the garden, lunch in lap and magazine in hand, when the first drops of rain started falling so I rushed to get the washing in.  And, basically, it was rain for the rest of the day and overnight too, by the looks of things.

It's very exciting - recently, through Facebook, contact was made with an old friend.  This is someone I was best buddies with at college (in the early 1970s so almost pre-history) although after some years we lost contact.  We're planning to meet up in late July and I am very much looking forward to it.  She works for World Vision and has travelled all round the world so will have some fascinating stories to tell.  We exchanged some emails yesterday so it should happen.

Today, Beth is coming round and we're doing some work with the seedlings, etc, before I pop off to Blake House Craft Centre for a nice nosey round.  It's going to be a good day.

Thursday, 18 May 2017


It's that time of the year again, folks.  The time when I overdose on gardening stuff and you all get bored to tears!  Really sorry and all that, but isn't it a wonder how nature renews itself each year.  It never stops amazing and astounding, even though I know it's going to happen.

Yesterday the weather was absolutely shockingly bad.  Heavy rain, then a dryer interval, then more heavy rain.  It put the clappers on any plans I had for going out but that was OK, I dodged the raindrops a bit and got on with more garden sorting out.

I've now decided what to put in the planter at the back with the trellis behind it - that's where the rather feeble and fragile looking sweet peas have gone and I swear they have grown an inch or so overnight.  A little bit longer and I will nip out the tops so I get the side shoots growing and look forward to some colour in what is not a very exciting spot beside the compost bin!  I love sweet peas so will be cutting them for indoors which is the best way to ensure loads more flowers.  Win-win!
I've positioned them at the back of the planter, against the wall so need to look for something to go in front, something low and toning.  The sticks are to bridge the gap between planter and trellis.

I'm going to put the tomatoes in their final home, those that Dad brought over, anyway.  The Montellos are up against the fence as last year and the sungolds are in the raised bed again.  The mystery tomatoes are still too small to do much with and my fingers are crossed that they do actually come to something.

I was very excited to notice that the Tayberry that Refused to Die is now flowering.  Not much, admittedly, but even so.  And there's really strong growth in the new shoots department, meaning good stuff next year!

The Bush that thinks it's a Tree has also decided it's time to look pretty.  Plenty of flower heads and this year I will pick the berries as I gather you can make a nice jam/cordial/flavoured vodka with them.  It's a bit hidden from the house but looks great from the arbour - another reason for sitting out more when the weather permits.

The mystery plant continues to grow.  If it starts climbing round the archway, then I will assume it is indeed the dead passion flower resurrected.  If not, it will come out.

. . . and the hostas are the best they have ever been, mainly because I got the slug pellets down in good time instead of waiting until the damage had been done.  I'm afraid I don't do organic where slugs and snails are concerned, horrid things.

I also finally got the runner beans in.  A bit late, I know, but they will catch up fine.

OK, you can wake up now!

Today is another allotment morning as the sun is shining.  At least we won't need to water anything today.  Instead we have to move some soil so it will be heavy work but worth it.  Better get started then!

Wednesday, 17 May 2017


. . . and it is chucking it down with rain.  No allotment this morning, I'm guessing, and maybe no Ingatestone Hall either unless it clears up somewhat.  Never mind, there will be other days for that and, goodness knows, the garden really did need a good downpour, as did the allotment - several good downpours, in fact.  When it dries up, I shall check the various containers I have scattered around for collecting rain water for the blueberries.

Yesterday I had planned to go to Hyde Hall but, when it came down to it, I didn't fancy it so much and one of the points of a holiday is that you can do what you want to do, when you want to do it (within legal limits, of course).

So I stayed home and made the best of the time in my back garden instead.  I flexed my muscles, such as they are, and managed to get large pots and even larger garden furniture moved around to where I had wanted them to be.  I went to Wyvale and B&Q and bought two small (and surprisingly cheap) cordylines for the planters either side of the arbour and got them in, a lupin which is now in the middle bed and a small sage which I think will go in a pot as it does grow large after a while.
I got some large pots filled with earth ready for the tomatoes when I pot them on and dealt with some small piles of rubbish.  Things are now neater and my stack of bags of compost is smaller.
I thoroughly enjoyed myself so it was a great use of my time in more than one way.

I now need to spend half an hour out the front as it's got a bit tatty with a few weeds attempting to regain dominance.  But not this morning!

It is now obvious that the late frost we had did do some damage to the strawberries after all.  A shame, but there are loads of flowers now coming to take the place of the damaged fruit.  Nature sorts things out quite well really, doesn't she?

If I do stay home, I have nice things to do.  I need to make some lemon marmalade and I would love to cut out some more squares for my duvet cover and maybe even get started making the disappearing nine squares.

So, whatever happens, it will be a great day.  I hope you have a good one yourself too.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Promise of . . .



Tayberries this year and next.

And finally - plenty of warm lazy meals in the garden this summer.


This is late, isn't it.  Really sorry.  I wanted to have some photos from yesterday to show you and I've not long uploaded them.

Coggeshall was lovely yesterday.  It's a very attractive large village/small town with some gorgeous houses (some for sale - wish I could) and interesting places to visit.  It was a shame about the rain but I shall go back on a sunny day as there's plenty more to see.  I gather the church is interesting and I didn't get within throwing distance of it.

I visited Paycocke's House and Gardens and then went on to Grange Barn.  The barn has an interesting history but there wasn't an awful lot to see, unlike the barns at Cressing Temple, but the house and gardens - oh, my word.

It's small, not 'stately' in the least bit.  It's owned by the National Trust bit is a family home and the 'owner' shows people round.  I was the first there and we had such an interesting talk about the history of the house.  I took a lot of photos but some were too dark - another reason for going back on a sunny day!

This means 'Do not sit on me'.  Everything else is touchable, sitable, readable . . .

The garden was also lovely.  An arts and crafts style and very, very green (also damp yesterday, but never mind).

Well worth a visit if you are in the area.

Monday, 15 May 2017


The sun is rising, the skies are clearing and my heart is lifting.  Hopefully it is going to be another lovely day.

After an uncertain start yesterday, weather-wise, it warmed and brightened up so by ten I was down the allotment, forking and weeding for all I was worth.  It is slow progress but I finished clearing the second strip so now we can get that area boarded off and covered with membrane and chips.  I also started sorting out the loads of wood we had to hold the covering plastic down so now we can start uncovering, forking and weeding the rest of that part.

Some wood we want to keep as it is shaped to make raised beds.  The other is only fit for firewood and I wonder if there's anyone local who has a wood burning stove and who would be able to use it.  I must talk to Beth about this.  It seems an awful shame to just dump it if it could be used.

The rest of the day was idled away.  A bit of housework, a bit of washing and a bit of telly watching plus a visit to Morrison's to stock up with sugar (for preserving) as they have 2k bags for 88p which is amazing value.  I also picked up a few YS things including some asparagus which looks too old and tough for dippy eggs but which should make a lovely soup.  At 9p the bunch, it was too good to walk past.  I've never made asparagus soup so need to research it a bit.  Diane - have you?

Today is, hopefully, a bit of allotmenting and then I'm off, picnic lunch in hand, to Coggeshall.  It's been on my list of things to do for ages now so I am very much looking forward to it.  When I get home there will just be time to make dinner and then I shall crash out in front of the telly.

In the time it has taken to write this, the sun has gone and the sky has darkened.  Drat and drabbit!  Fingers crossed, eh!

Sunday, 14 May 2017


Good morning, everyone.  It turned out to be a rather damp day yesterday, interspersed with sunny intervals.  As the showers were extremely heavy, I didn't risk the allotment but I did do a bit in my own back garden.  The vegetable plantlets are now hardening out outside and in a few weeks will be ready for planting in their final destination.

Looking around, I saw this.

For a number of years I have tried to get a passion flower plant established there.  I had one but it failed to thrive.  Last year (or was it the year before?) a lovely friend gave me a plant she had brought on herself but the same thing.  I concluded that it wasn't the 'right' place and comforted myself with the knowledge that the hostas and the hyacinths like it there anyway.  And then, yesterday, I saw this - not the hosta but the one right in the middle of the photo.  It is growing where the passion flower plants were and I am now wondering if one or other has decided it likes that position after all and is giving it a go.
It could, of course, be a weed but I don't think so.
I am sure some of my much more knowledgeable readers will recognise it - please do let me know.

Poking around in my middle bed, the delphinium seems to be fighting back after being chomped by snails and the penstemon is sending out growth but I have lost the veronica and I dug the roots up yesterday.  I think I might like a lupin there instead.  I had a lovely lupin elsewhere in the bed but managed to kill it by spraying it with weed killer in mistake for bug spray several years ago.  I was so cross with myself!
Anyway, I think a trip to a garden centre might be on the books this week.

I'm trying very hard to keep the Japanese anemone contained this year to give the other plants around a chance and dug up several little efforts that were spreading elsewhere.  I was warned that they are a bit invasive!.  The fuchsia was a bit swamped by it last year so I'm hoping it will be better this year.

Apart from garden, the rest of the day was pretty lazy, all in all.

Today it has clearly been raining more overnight but I will do allotment this morning unless it is actually pouring with rain.  If I do get caught, I can shelter or come home but there are things that really do need doing!

Beth and Al are not coming over today so I have another day to myself.  I've been doing more planning for my holiday from home and have various printouts scattered around the computer.  I have also been organising meals and have a short shopping list of things to get.  It should be fun!

It's nearly seven so time to get moving, I think: it is just too easy to sit in front of the computer and let the time idle away if I don't.
See you tomorrow!

Saturday, 13 May 2017


After a 'good for the garden' day yesterday, it's back to a bit chilly but dry today.  We had several quite heavy showers, not enough to completely replenish and refresh the plants but a lot better than nothing.

It was a bone idle day yesterday after a very early start seeing Jackie off.  We have a pattern now - she comes back to mine after a show but leaves after just a coffee in the morning in order to avoid the rush hour/school run.  Works for us both!

I got some ironing done which was just as well because I have sheets to do today and I really don;t want them hanging over into next week.

Because of the weather, the allotment didn't get a look in, but I'm going today and, probably tomorrow too.  After all, I have to use my new flask.

I was so cross with myself - earlier in the week I was washing out the flask when I dropped it onto the hard tiles.  It was a metal one so it didn't smash but the opening dented and I now can't get the lid on!  I found another, larger one in Sainsburys which has two cups attached which is perfect for me and Beth.  It also has a handle for easier pouring.  It's glass inside so I will need to be careful!

I did some bread-making and now have one sliced loaf and four good sized rolls in the freezer.  The slices are for everyday but the rolls are for my lunches next week.  Next week is my Holiday From Home and the other thing I did was plan where I am going each day.  So now I can look forward to going to . . .
Coggeshall to Paycocke's house and Grange Barn
Hyde Hall
Ingatestone Hall
Kentwell Hall
Blake House Craft Centre
I also had Hylands and Layer Marney Tower on my list so they can be treats for another time.
I'm really looking forward to it.

Today, after allotment work, I will potter around a bit in my own garden, plant on some of the tomatoes now that I have bought some more little pots, de-mess the house and then generally mooch around being lazy.

It should be good.

Friday, 12 May 2017


What a change this morning  It has obviously been raining on and off overnight (it started spitting yesterday evening) and it's still raining very lightly.  BBC weather tells me that it is likely to be dull most of the day and there might be a bit more rain later.  Good for the garden and allotment!

Talking of the allotment (when do I not?), I was going down there this morning but I'll wait and see if things dry up a bit.  Fair-weather gardener?  Moi?

I had a lovely day yesterday.  The morning was spent on chores - making up the spare bed, sorting out the kitchen, sweeping floors, going shopping, etc, the afternoon was spent in school and then doing tuition and the evening was spent with friends watching on of the local operatic and drama groups at the Civic.  All most enjoyable.

After that, Jackie came back to mine as she was staying over - neither of us particularly likes driving in the dark if we don't have to - and we had a good chat.  We've sorted out some more local shows we want to go to and I will be ordering the tickets once other friends have confirmed whether they want to come or not.

And now I have three days ahead of me with hardly any commitments.  Glorious!

Thursday, 11 May 2017


Yesterday was such a glorious Spring day, wasn't it.  The first morning sun we have had here for quite a while.  Just look at that sky in the photo.

That's the allotment looking so much better than it did four or five weeks ago.  There's still more to clear at the back, where you can't see, but the improvement is massive.  If there was a 'most improved allotment' award, we'd be on the shortlist.

Just so you can see, here's a photo Beth took at the beginning of April from almost the same place.  Spot the differences.  :-)

We've been planning the back section and we think we've come to a conclusion.  Down the right there is the rhubarb bed: that's staying.  Down the left, where the pink barrow is, we're going to cover with membrane and then bark chips and the bins will stand in a line, one for weeds and two for other garden waste.  In front of that there should be room for a slightly raised bed - Beth has quite a collection of odds and ends and we are sure we can create at least one square.
Then just inside the bins and the rhubarb we plan two paths for access and down the middle between those two paths we want to put a selection of raspberry bushes that ripen at different times so we get fruit through summer and into autumn.

In front of that patch is, this year, the potatoes, then two trees and then the front area.  We have sowing there and plan more.

And just look what I saw yesterday.  The first potato leaves.

OK, that's enough self congratulations!  After I'd done my stint, I came home and devoured a mug of coffee before getting my planning done.  Then there was a knock at the door and it was the pink blueberry I ordered.  Well, actually, no, it wasn't, it was a delivery man with the blueberry.  It is now in its (maybe) forever home, getting to know the other blueberry and recovering from its incarceration in a cardboard box..  No flowers on this one, unlike the other, so no pink fruit this year, but fingers crossed for next year, eh?

The new one is on the right

After tuition (great fun as always) I whizzed straight off to school to the Governors' meeting and actually managed to stay awake which was amazing after a day with allotment exercise and no afternoon snooze.  In fact, it was very interesting, one way and another.

All in all, a most enjoyable day.

Today is also likely to be good but I will tell you about that tomorrow.  The sun is shining and I have another fairly full day planned.  It certainly keeps me out of trouble!

Wednesday, 10 May 2017


Woohoo - the sun is shining and the clouds are clearing.  It's very cheerful out there today and it's made me feel cheerful too.

It's another busy day today which is great as it keeps my mind off food.  Allotment first - just me today - followed by planning, tuition and a governors' meeting.

Despite the dullness, yesterday went really well.  We're chipping away (literally, seeing how hard the ground is) at the allotment although the list of things to catch up on seems pretty endless right now.  Never mind, we will get there.

Then I went down to school and did my bit before coming home for a restful evening.  I had to make a choice between Great British Menu and Save Money: Good Food; I chose the latter and it was a mistake.  I'm not enjoying it nearly as much as I enjoyed Eat Well For Less, the show it is trying to imitate.  For a start, it is only half an hour and by the time you take off adverts, the very extended beginning and all the generic shots, there can't be more than 15 minutes of actual content.  They whizz through the recipes without much clarity, their costings are suspect and, adding insult to injury, the recipes are not online, you have to buy the book.
You should be able to do better than that, ITV.  Really not impressed.

I watched Menu later on iPlayer and enjoyed it enough to stay awake.

Well, it's time for bath and getting ready for the outside world.  I hope it is sunny where you are too!

Tuesday, 9 May 2017


It's still dull, still chilly, still dampness in the air but never mind - the sun did eventually come out yesterday so it might do the same today, fingers crossed!

It was jolly cold down the allotment.  Our plot is at the edge so somewhat sheltered, but there was a stiff breeze and it was shiver-creating.  Fortunately, we had some heavy stuff to do so that kept us from feeling the worst of the cold.
We've well and truly started on the back part now and intend to continue this morning.  It's easier than the front in that it's been covered and, although the weeds have grown through a bit, it's not as bad as it could be.  It's very dry though, making it harder work to fork over but good for the calorie burning so no complaints.

Once home I found the shivers didn't go away so I whopped up the heating (in May!!!!!) and sat with my owly fleece over me  - and, yes, I fell asleep.  Twice.  And again in the evening.  And this morning I overslept until nearly six o'clock.

I must have needed that sleep!

Today is more allotment and then home to hang out some washing and have a quick lunch before going into school to FS to hear all about their trip to Tropical Wings yesterday.  It should all be good and I am feeling much more energetic again this morning, thank goodness.

It's time to put the coffee in the flask and go.  Have a lovely day, everyone.

Monday, 8 May 2017


Chilly, dull aaarrgghh - when will the warmer weather arrive?  It's getting me down.

Oh - good morning.  Sorry for the dismal start, I feel better for writing it though.

Having said that first bit, to be fair, yesterday was lovely once the sun had emerged.  Bright, breezy and warm enough to have the French windows open.  Really good!

Also really good was the family meal down the Hare.  Everyone had what they wanted:  a few had starters, one had a dessert and a few had coffee and I was pleased that the final amount wasn't too shocking.  I had fish and chips - I love their chips - but I was good and had a smaller plate version which was more than enough!
Then it was back home for more coffee and doughnuts, they being Alex's choice instead of a birthday cake.

I was knackered afterwards because I'd been up early, faffing around making bread, get the place tidied, etc.  It wasn't so messy really but one has to do something.

Dad brought over some tomato plants - sungold and montello.  They're much more advanced than mine which they put in the shade.  I should be OK for tomatoes this year, shouldn't I, blight permitting.

Today it's - guess what!  Yes, allotment!  Mowing, hoeing, sowing (must put the seeds in my bag) and then I'm starting on one side of the back while Beth starts on the other.  Weeds, glorious weeds!

Normally on Monday afternoon, it is school but they are out on an educational visit so I will probably go in tomorrow instead which gives me this afternoon free for my own garden.  Lots of exercise on the cards today.

Well, it's past seven and, as Diane often says, time to get the show on the road.  Enjoy your day, whatever you plan for it.

Sunday, 7 May 2017


Good morning!  It's dull and dry at the moment but I think it's going to clear up - I hope so, anyway!

We did good work down the allotment yesterday!  The front half is finally clear of weeds (on the surface, anyway) and now we just (just!!!) have to keep it clear.  The main worry is the ground elder which is all over and a right pain.  I'm getting to hate those easily broken little curls of white root that are tough enough to grow through rotting wood and which defy all efforts to dig them up.  Short of chemicals (and it may come to that), we are adopting the 'fork it as you find it' approach, but I bet we will miss some.  Nasty stuff!

Once we'd had our coffee, we put in the canes and started sowing.  We now have mange tout, climbing French beans and sugar snaps and we more or less know where the other stuff will go too.  We're not planting loads this summer but we're hoping to have baby corn, carrots, spring onions, squash and courgettes as well as the potatoes, the beans/peas and the fruit.  It should give us our five a day over the summer months, especially with the runners and tomatoes at home.

Now we have to start tackling the back which has been under cover but which has stuff growing through, so goodness knows what we will find.  Part of it will be levelled, covered with membrane and bark/pine chips and the three compost bins will go on that section, all nice and neat and in a row!  After that we have to think what we want come the autumn.  Any ideas?

Back at home, I had lunch and then popped down to the party shop to get some birthday balloons inflated for today.  They are in the back of the car and I will take them to The Hare this morning so they can go on our table.   I'm looking forward to our family get together.
Than I sat down in front of a Miss Marple on the telly and that was a mistake - over an hour later I came to with a slightly muggy head and an aching back.  That's digging for you!

I'm expecting today to be busy so I made my dough early and I must hang out the washing now so I can take it down before people start arriving.
So I'd better get going!  Have a lovely Sunday.

Saturday, 6 May 2017


Good morning, everyone.  It looks as if it's going to be another fine day today and maybe a little bit warmer too which would be very nice!

Our girls' evening yesterday was lovely.  I made the starter (soup) and the other brought the main, dessert and drinks.  It made the whole thing very easy indeed, not at all stressful to prepare.  Very sociable, very chatty and very pleasant.  Next time we meet, I may have strawberries in the garden.  Yay!

Today is another allotment morning and, at last, at long, long last, we are going to plant.  Mange tout and french beans are going in today.  I will be mowing the grass too.  It's not growing all that fast but after the rain it will need a haircut.

In the afternoon I have to go to the party shop to get balloons, etc, for Alex's family meal tomorrow to celebrate his birthday.  Then there's stuff I need to get on with in my own garden - it's all go with the growing stuff!

Somewhere in between I have some bread to make too, some for me and some for Beth and Alex.

A nice, normal, productive day.  Happy life.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Peelings crunchies

Have you made these before?  I hadn't until last week.

You need clean potato peelings so best to wash and dry the spuds before peeling them.

All I did was pop the peelings in a poly bag, add some oil (not much) and squish it around to coat every bit of peeling, then pop the peelings on a baking sheet (I used parchment to prevent any sticking), sprinkle with salt and bake at about 170-ish until it's all scrunchy.  Really tasty.

I wonder how it would work with carrot peelings . . .


Good morning, everyone.
I think it's going to be a nice day today; it's a hopeful start anyway with the sun shining in cheerfully.
I decided not to allotmenteer yesterday as it was wet and I'm afraid I am a fair weather gardener.  A shame because it would have been great to get that last bit of the front forked over and weeded but never mind, there's always the next day and I do intend to go this morning and tomorrow morning too.   And then we sow the first seeds.  Mange tout, French beans and spring onions.  Excellent!

I did my bit at school, reading with Y2 children and then the two tutoring sessions.  All went well and the progress I can see is most encouraging.  That's one of the things I used to love about teaching - that buzz when a child 'got' something is like nothing else, it is an amazing sensation.  It's nice to still get it.

Today is going to be pleasant.  Gardening, a little bit of shopping (a gift for a friend) and the girls are round here this evening.  We're each providing a course and I'm doing the starter this time, which will be my tomato and lentil soup using passata from the garden tomatoes last summer so it should be absolutely delicious.  I must make sure I use up last year's supplies now as in three months or so there will be another load to harvest.

Dad is bringing me three montellos and six sungolds and I have many babies from the seeds I harvested last year.  Barring disasters such as snow in July, I should have a good crop again this year.
They're not going out until the end of May which has always been my sort of benchmark for planting out.  A frost after then is rotten bad luck!  When I was working, it was the main job over half term - to get the plants out.

Well, it is half past six so I really should get started.  I want to get a load of washing out on the line before I go to the allotment and it's not even in the machine yet!  The cleaners come today for their fortnightly blitz so I am looking forward to a nice clean home again, bless them.

Have a very pleasant day.

Thursday, 4 May 2017


Morning, everyone.

Yesterday was dismal and we had a fair bit of rain on and off.  Just what the garden needed but I was glad I didn't have to go to the allotment.  I'm not sure about this morning: it looks dull but the ground is dry.  I'll decide nearer the time.

It's nearly the end of tuition with one of my students.  We have been doing SATs catch-up preparation and, of course, it is SATs next week, poor things.  I will miss the students and I will miss the sessions too.  However, I have a 'replacement' starting after the summer break, so that's nice.

Beth was round yesterday morning, working on birthday gift stuff.  She's made some lovely things over the past few months but I think she will be glad when it's all done and dusted now.

Apart from allotment today, I will be in school with Y2 this afternoon, followed by tuition sessions.  Must remember to go and vote too!  I've never known such a lack lustre local election but at least there hasn't been a lot of wasted paper!

Wednesday, 3 May 2017


Morning, everyone.  It's dull, gloomy and it's going to rain.  Good for the garden, the allotment and ducks!

Well, yesterday was interesting!  I got a message asking if I would do supply in the afternoon.  The message was about an hour old so I replied saying 'do you still want me or have you got someone else now?'.  No response.  No problem, I had plenty to do anyway.

I popped off to the allotment with Beth after we had paid a visit to B&Q and we put in some hours of digging, weeding and moving heavy bits of wood about.  Once we got going and put our backs into it, we managed to get the cage sides we wanted to move free (with the help of the wire cutters we got from B&Q) and out of the way.  The other two sides are staying until autumn.  It is now starting to look like a 'proper' allotment - i.e. neat and ready for action - most of it anyway and we know what we will do with the covered area as the summer goes on.  There may be photos soon.

Then it was home to find two emails and a phone message, all saying yes, please, we do still need you.  A quick tidy and freshen up later and I was looking at planning and being talked through the afternoon's work by the other year group teacher.
It was lovely; when I went out to collect the class after lunch break, they all gave a happy cheer when they saw who it was.  I had that class a number of times last year for various reasons, you see, so know them reasonably well.

Oh, I was so tired by the evening.  I had planned to do the preparation for this week's tuition but I couldn't find the energy.  I'm slowing down!  That's on today's list of Things To Do, alongside tidying the living room before Sharon comes.

Sharon is our hairdresser and she's due here at 11, so I'd better get a move on, hadn't I?

Tuesday, 2 May 2017


Good morning, everyone.  It looks as if it's going to be a pleasant enough day today which is nice for those of us allotment bound again.

I put in about two hours yesterday before coming home and lazing around for the rest of the afternoon.  We're getting close to being ready to plant, thank goodness; if we don't get going soon, it will be too late.  I'm really looking forward to getting some productivity going!

There's just one problem and that's the cage.  Several years ago, Beth, with help, put up a sort of 'cage' to keep the badgers away from the corn.  It worked but we don't need it any more and it's proving the very devil to get out.  It's just pallets, covered with chicken wire and I think we will need to get some wire cutters to the wire.  The base of the pallets (the bit in the ground) is rotting so would come out easily if it wasn't for the wire.  I think it will just have to stay there until Autumn, looking battered and antique, when we will have the time to dig deeply or maybe, if I get some wire cutters, we can clip round the wire as deep as we can easily get and deal with the rest later.  It's in the way, for sure.

In the afternoon, my garden lad came round and scraped round the slabs in the back garden to get rid of the weeds there!

The rest of the day was spent watching Miss Marple programmes.  The REAL Miss Marple, I mean, the unbeatable Joan Hickson.

Today is early allotment, then home to tidy up before doing my stint with FS this afternoon.  It's usually Monday but not this week, of course.  Time to get going!

Monday, 1 May 2017


Good morning, everyone.  A pinch and a punch for the first of the month!  Tradition satisfied

It rained overnight, then the sun came out earlier, now it is clouding over again.  Will I get to the allotment?  We will have to see.

We worked pretty hard at the allotment yesterday, Beth and I, and went back to mine pretty stiff and achey.  However, we finished bark chipping under the other two trees and finished the weeding of the patch we were on as well as giving the potatoes a good watering as the ground is still very dry despite the rain.

Once home, we had lunch and then Beth sewed while I cleared up and then did some adminning.
She finished a bag she's making for someone and then got on with the quilt she is making for her bed. Halfway through the afternoon we drove down to the Hare to book a table for next Sunday lunchtime (Alex's birthday) and then Beth went home and I tried not to fall asleep, unsuccessfully!

It was an early bedtime and an early rising today!

Today I hope to do some more allotment work (see above) and I have two loaves of bread that are nearly ready to pop into the oven.  Beth had the two I made yesterday, you see.
After that, I really have no idea what to do - I foresee a lazy day!  Inspired by Beth's industry yesterday, I might do a bit more cutting out squares for the duvet cover I want to make

The other day Diane gave me an idea for netting my fruit - canes and jamjars.  I was looking round the garden and realised that I have a bundle of willow canes that I brought back from a weaving course but never used.  I think I will try to construct a cage frame with them so I can just drape some netting over.  It might work and, if it does, it might look quite arty!  Worth a go anyway.  Watch this space.

Well, the bread is ready to go in now so I will stop rambling and get on with stuff.  The kitchen is reasonably clear, which is nice, so I can than have my bath with a clear conscience.

Happy Mayday to you all, whatever you are doing today.